The moment the bullet left the gun Fraser was up and moving. He tackled McKinnley to the ground and wrestled the gun from his hand – the man was laughing like a hyena while Fraser bound his hands with his lanyard but Fraser hardly noticed.
His mind was completely empty; he was devoid of any conscious thought. He couldn’t think about this—not at all. He couldn’t formulate a thought and he couldn’t breathe. Time moved in slow motion.
He dreaded the moment when he had to turn around to check on Ray, afraid of what he might find. Fraser pocketed the gun and took a deep breath, Mc Kinnley was still laughing but it sounded as if from very far away.
Fraser turned around. Ray was lying on the floor, motionless. Fraser’s throat constricted, this felt too much like one of his nightmares. He took a hesitant step toward Ray. He could see it all too clearly, the paleness of Ray’s cheek… the red stain that spread slowly over the shirt. The color slowly drained from Fraser’s lips. It brought him to his knees next to Ray.
He reached for Ray’s lifeless hand, squeezing it softly.
The hand squeezed back. There was a groan before Ray’s eyes flew open. Blue met blue and Fraser took a gasping breath. He looked Ray over again – there was no blood; no pallor to Ray’s cheeks. He had simply allowed his mind to provide the pictures of his own worst fear, had let that fear conquer him— blurring the line between dream and reality.
Fraser took another shaky breath and closed his eyes briefly, his fingers still clasped around Ray’s.
Ray pushed up on his elbows, a frown on his face.
“Frase… you okay?”
Fraser squeezed his eyes shut tight before he nodded in a jerky motion.
“Hey, I’m—I’m fine, Fraser.” Ray squeezed Fraser’s fingers again. Fraser opened his eyes slowly and Ray pulled up his shirt to show Fraser the vest he had been wearing – it had made sense, people were already trying to shoot him when they weren’t out for Fraser’s blood in particular; knowing that someone wanted the Mountie dead had been a welcome heads-up.
The spot where the bullet had hit the vest was still smarting, though. He would probably carry a bruise for a couple of days but –hey- compared to being dead it seemed like a pretty good trade-off.
There was the scraping of boots on hardwood and Ray pushed to his feet.
“Oh no, you don’t,” he said to McKinnley who had been trying to get to his feet while Fraser had been busy freaking out. He pulled his handcuffs out and slapped one on McKinnley’s foot, the other end went around one of the legs of the heavy pine wardrobe in the corner.
Fraser had stood up again but he still looked shaken up, lost in some bad fantasy or something.
Ray considered the solid wood wardrobe for a second, judging from the weight that it would be highly unlikely for McKinnley to lift this thing far enough to pull his foot free. Ray really didn’t like this but Fraser and he needed to talk.
He went over to Fraser and took him by the elbow. “Come on,” he said quietly and pulled Fraser along toward the bedroom – no way was he having this discussion in plain view. He didn’t go as far as to close the door completely behind them though, this semi-privacy would have to do for now.
“Fraser you gotta talk to me here ‘cause you’re really starting to freak me out.”
Fraser looked pained but nodded anyway.
“I—“ Fraser tugged at his collar and Ray waited expectantly. Several seconds went by until Ray realized that Fraser wasn’t going to finish this sentence.
“Fraser? Work with me here. What’s got you all rattled?”
Fraser’s face blanched just the tiniest bit.
“The shot? Was it me getting shot?” Ray felt like he was playing twenty questions here.
“Ah, yes,” Fraser finally managed to force out. “I—“ Fraser jerked his head, “I’m sorry for not handling the situation better.”
“For not—Fraser! I’m not worried about your professionalism here. Come on, this isn’t the first time I got shot—hey, I got shot the first time we met, remember?”
Fraser looked pained again – as if he could have forgotten about their first day together.
“So what’s different this time? I’m good, you’re good, we got the bad guy, what’s—“
“I wasn’t in love with you then,” Fraser blurted, looking horrified at his outburst. It looked as if he would give anything in the world to take this statement back but Ray was having none of it.
Was there any language in which this made sense? Ray wondered. First, Fraser didn’t want to acknowledge the kiss – was in fact even pissed off because of it –then he had these weird impulse control issues and when they finally managed to kiss Fraser was just as hot for him as he had been the other way around and now he was freaked out because Ray had survived getting shot – and the explanation was that he was in love with him?
What kind of crazy-assed definition of ‘love’ was Fraser referring to? – Because this definitely wasn’t one from a book Ray had read.
“Run that by me again, you’re upset we’re both okay because you’re in love with me?” Ray seriously hoped that this didn’t only sound wrong to his own ears.
Fraser sighed and dropped down onto the bed. He ran a hand through his hair before he fixed Ray with a miserable look in his eyes.
“I could see you lying on the floor…dead,” he whispered and Ray’s eyes widened. What the— “Fraser I’m not dead,” he gestured along his body just to make sure he got his point across.
Fraser laughed humorlessly. “I know. I’m just…” he sighed again. “I was so afraid you might be that…”
“Okay, okay,” Ray shrugged. “So you got scared, don’t worry. We can deal with this.”
“Don’t you see Ray?” Fraser sounded almost desperate. “I can’t be in love! I really can’t I—I lose all perspective, I tend to get overwhelmed by my emotions and then I… I can’t distinguish between what’s real and what my mind tells me to see anymore,” he whispered defeated.
Ray’s jaw dropped open. “You’re kidding, right?”
“I most certainly am not,” Fraser answered affronted.
“How’s that different from anyone else?” Ray asked puzzled.
“Others don’t bring the people they love in danger… they don’t hurt the people around them… and they don’t fool themselves into believing… things.”
Jesus… when had Fraser jumped onto the guilt train? Ray took a deep breath.
“Frase, it’s alright. I promise no one will get hurt—“
“How can you know this? You told me that you believed you and ASA Kowalski were destined to be together but as you well know sometimes that just isn’t enough, Ray.”
Ouch, that one hurt.
There was a noise that sounded like someone knocking but when it didn’t repeat itself Ray pushed it aside again because apparently Fraser wasn’t finished. Who would be knocking on their cabin anyway?
“You risk everything and you still end up betraying everyone you care for, even the very person you love and—“
“Betrayal?” Ray asked confused. He had never cheated on Stella and this definitely had nothing to do with him getting shot. Somehow he was missing some vital pieces of information here.
“I’m just saying that—“
“Hey guys I just wanted to thank—what the fuck?”
Ray froze when he heard James’ voice from the direction of the living room. Shit!
“Help me, man! You gotta help me! They’re going to kill me!” They heard McKinnley say.
“Shit!” Ray and Fraser were out of the door in a flash – but they were too late.
James had moved to help McKinnley who had wasted no time to throw his hands over him, pulling the lanyard tight over James’s throat. James managed to produce a choked off gurgle against the string cutting into his air supply.
Ray had his gun trained on them but he didn’t have much to negotiate with. Fuck. McKinnley pulled his hands tighter.
“You’re going to drop the gun and you’re going to get rid of the handcuffs.”
“Fuck you!” Ray snarled but James made a strangled sound and McKinnley smiled widely. “Now, if you please.”
Ray clenched his jaw and kicked his weapon over. Mc Kinnley snatched it up and Fraser stepped forward, taking the key from Ray before he moved over to where James was being held hostage.
“You won’t get away with this,” Fraser’s tone was full of conviction while he released the handcuffs.
“We’ll see about that. You can be sure that I’ll take you with me when I go down – one way or another. So long,” he pushed up, pulling James along with him and moved backwards to the door which was still open from James’ hurried entry.
“You better stay where you are if you don’t want his blood on your hands.”
Ray bared his teeth as they watched McKinnley drag James toward his car.
“Shit, shit, shit,” Ray swore. “That’s what you get for thanking people, Fraser!”
“He won’t hurt him. He needs him to get to me,” Fraser said calmly.
“Great!” Ray threw his arms in the air. “And that’s supposed to make me feel better or what?”
“Considering that James’ life is going to be safe for the time being I’d imagine that yes, it would make you feel better.”
Ray growled and started pacing in a tight circle. “You and me,” he jabbed his fingers in Fraser’s direction, “we gotta talk! We’re going to get Conroy out of there and then you have some explaining to do.”
“Do not ‘Ray’ me Fraser!” He sighed. “Let’s call this in. We need someone to find this truck for us. Did you get the license plate?”
“It’s 27BC1,” Fraser said quietly. Ray nodded, trying to calm his nerves.
Ray called the station and asked Penny – the new civilian aid that had taken over for Frannie – to run the plate for him.
“Where can he go?” Ray wondered out loud, sitting down on the front steps of their cabin.
“He’s not familiar with the area and I don’t think he had thought of a back-up plan beforehand. I’d say he didn’t expect any complications and a hostage has made things much more difficult for him to control.”
“So you don’t think he stayed in the area, huh? Where did he go then?”
Fraser rubbed a knuckle over his eyebrow. “I know you do not want to hear this Ray but Chicago in fact owns a curling club.”
“No, it’s true. It moved its location rather recently however. The old ice skating rink was turned into a paint factory 3 years ago and the club found a new place in Northbrook a few miles north of Skokie.”
“And you think he went back to that old ice rink?”
“Paul McKinnley won his first international curling match at that stadium. It would fit his psychological profile as well as providing him with a feeling of invincibility. I would also assume that he would consider it rather poetic if he could achieve his victory there.”
“And by victory you mean…”
“My death, of course.”
“Jeez! Do you need to be so matter of fact about this? You’re giving me the creeps.”
“I am sorry Ray; it hasn’t been my intention to insinuate a lack of care where my personal well-being is concerned. It is a simple matter of proper preparation to be aware of what kind of criminal we are dealing with – and a man that doesn’t shy away from murder is certainly in possession of a different mindframe than a poor sportsman who badly needed the money.”
Ray’s phone rang before he could reply. He nodded a few times at the information he received.
“The paint factory… does it happen to be a converted ice skating rink?”
Fraser looked intently at him and Ray nodded at him. Penny continued talking and Ray listened carefully.
“It’s not? Huh, okay. Thanks for checking this.”
“Looks like you were right. 1340 Glenview Road is indeed a paint factory and a former ice skating rink. It’s not in use anymore, however. They closed it down at the beginning of the year because the owner went bankrupt.”
“Then we have all the information we need.”
“Yeah… I still don’t like this Fraser.”
“We don’t have a choice Ray, Mr. Conroy is counting on our help.”
Ray sighed. “How much ammunition is left in McKinnley’s gun?”
Fraser handed the gun he had taken over to Ray. Ray removed the clip and made a disgusted sound. “Great, three rounds left. We’ll see how much good this will do us.”
They got into the car and Ray took them in the direction of Glenview.
“Hey Fraser, promise me you’re going to tell me what’s been eating at you once this is over?” Ray asked, going for nonchalant but not really succeeding.
“What do you mean Ray?”
“You know, with the relationship thing and all that?” He waved his hand around in a circle to encompass the whole mess—him, Fraser, love, betrayal and whatever else Fraser could fit into the equation.
“Ray there really isn’t anything to discu—“
“Promise me, Fraser?” It was a threat and a plea at the same time and it caught Fraser off-guard; he opened his mouth and closed it again.
A second later he nodded once, “Alright.”
“Good,” Ray breathed in relief.
They turned onto the factory grounds and Ray took in the surprisingly dilapidated building, considering all the possible hiding places for an ambush, the dirt smudged windows that probably kept most of the light outside, and the debris that was lying around everywhere.
He didn’t like this, didn’t like this one bit. He had a hunch about this… and it wasn’t a good one.