Warnings: AU, Angst, Vampires
Disclaimer: These characters belong to Paul Haggis. No profit derived.
Word Count: 8,880
Feedback: Oh, yes
Author’s Note: This is my second entry fords_harlequin.. I have shamelessly borrowed the another actual Harlequin title, His Wedding Ring of Revenge, and manipulated it for this fic.
My apologies to the prompter. I intended to have this done on time then realized I had written more in my head than on actual paper or you know monitor. There is a lot of vampire canon from Stoker to Buffy and I haven’t tried to reinvent the wheel except where it facilitated the prompt.
Now I am free do read the other fics, yay.
Prompt 79 - A is an immortal vampire, and by law he can only 'turn' one mortal in his lifetime - his life mate. But when mortal B is fatally wounded saving A's life from P, a rather inept vampire hunter, A has to save the near-stranger, and the only way to save B is to turn him. But B hates the thought of drinking blood, even if modern vampires get it delivered from the blood bank now, and B's been trying to get off the night shift for three years, so B isn't pleased to find out that this means he'll be on the night shift forever! Also, P is still after A - and now P's after B, too.
Ray Vecchio muttered angrily under his breath as he unlocked the door of his car. He’d asked his sister, Frannie, to do him one favor while he was stuck on graveyard. One favor. Make sure his suits got to the cleaners. He paid the mortgage, his salary supported the family so it pissed him off that he couldn’t get a little consideration.
Instead of picking up his cleaning, she'd gone out on a date with some guy, Kolchak, Kowasaki something. Ray thought he might have been from the three two, but he wasn’t sure. And what was with the guy being a cop and Polish. It wasn’t like there weren’t any nice Italian non-cops around for her to date. Then his thoughts skipped to Frankie Zuko. Maybe he’d leave Frannie and her dating life alone for the moment. A cop meant a guy with a regular paycheck, a guy Ray could keep tabs on.
He hung his clothes up on the hook by the back passenger seat. Straightened suddenly at what sounded like a scream from the alley adjacent to the dry cleaners. He cocked his head and listened again. Now it sounded like one man, possibly two men shouting. He thought about not investigating. When he'd gotten home that morning, he took his time eating the breakfast his Ma had made for him. He then took a nice long shower to wash away the grime of a three homicide and one armed robbery investigation. It was only just before hitting the sack, where he intended to stay until his alarm went off at again at 11pm, that he'd looked in his closet and discovered there was no bag from the dry cleaners.
He'd screamed for Frannie and been told by his other sister Maria about Frannie and her date. From which she had yet to return. Pissed, he'd set his alarm for five o'clock, six full hours before he had originally intended to get up. He was dog tired, unappreciated. Why should he get between two drunks who would probably puke on his shoes? He looked around quickly to see if there was a patrol car on the street. There wasn't.
Vecchio exhaled as he slammed his car door. Crouching, he snatched his backup gun out of his ankle holster and took off into the alley at a light jog. He would never know what hit him.
Flat on his back in the alley, Benton Fraser heard the approaching footsteps well before his assailant. He tried to will their owner away and although he had many abilities, bending people to his will, wasn't one of them. Not exactly. He could try to will his attacker to hurry, but the man was talismanned against him and the thrall would not work. And he'd never used it before.
The exact moment the situation in the alley, turned from the very personal to a larger tragedy would always remain with Benton Fraser.
The crossbow armed assailant was so focused on his prey. So lethally focused on the moment that had been ten years in the making, the footsteps that should have been audible to his human ears went unheard.
"Drop your weapon," took the hunter so completely by surprise, that as one the assailant and the crossbow jerked in the direction of the voice. The crossbow released. Fraser jumped up from the ground, but he was just that fraction too late.
The bolt hit the unintended mark with deadly precision. It stopped Detective Vecchio in his tracks. The .22 dropped out of his suddenly loose grip and clattered to the asphalt. As his body crumpled, Benton Fraser was there, at his side, cushioning the impact to the ground.
He heard the hunter reloading and grabbed for the Detective's gun.
"You've done enough tonight, he‘s already dead." Fraser shouted as he trained the gun on the hunter who’d adjusted and was aiming the crossbow at him again. A standoff. The hands that gripped the bow weren’t quite as steady as before. "Walk away."
A moment's hesitation from the hunter, then the man backed away slowly down the darkened alley, before disappearing completely into the shadows. Fraser spared him no more attention as he turned his full focus to the man in his arms. The man, dying in his arms.
"I am so sorry. So very sorry.” Benton Fraser lay the man down gently. He took a second to confirm with a touch to the pulse in Ray Vecchio’s neck what his ears had already told him. The heartbeats were slowing to nothing. The spaces between, the few remaining beats grew longer. Labored. With no more time to spare, Benton took one last look into green eyes that saw nothing then gently closed Vecchio’s eyelids. A quick glance spared to the mouth of the alley, then Benton Fraser did something he vowed he would never do. Bending low, he placed his mouth against cooling skin of the neck of the man who had tried to come to his rescue. Benton Fraser allowed the fangs, barely used to drop and added another killing to his list of crimes.
"WHERE THE HELL ARE MY CLOTHES?"
Ray Vecchio stood in the beside an unfamiliar bed he had just awakened in a few minutes before completely naked. He was at first grateful that he was at least alone, but he'd scrambled out of the out the bed and found that the was not actually the case. He glared warily at the other man in the room who was fully dressed. The details of the man's appearance clicked into the standard cop profile in his head, tall, probably 5'11", good-looking, pale even as he opened his mouth to demand again.
"WHERE ARE MY CLOTHES?"
The man stepped closer, an apologetic look on his face. Ray backed up and the man stopped.
"I'm afraid the suit you were wearing couldn't be salvaged. But I took the liberty of bringing your dry cleaning up."
"My dry cleaning?”
“Yes, it was in your car and -"
"I drove here?"
"No, fortunately there was a picture of your car in your wallet. I located your car. You weren't in any condition to drive."
Gaping at the man, Ray ran his hand over his face. The coolness of his skin barely registered as he tried to puzzle out what was happening. He didn't drink. Not really...unless. Had something happened to his family? Had someone died?
“Aw man I gotta get out of here."
"Detective if you would just let me explain."
"No, I don't need an explanation. I know what happened. I gotta go. Is that the time? Shit, I’m gonna be late."
Fraser watched helplessly as the Detective yanked a pair of grey pants out of the dry cleaner bag, shimmied them on, then grabbed a black multicolored square patterned shirt and shoved his arms through the sleeves. Before Fraser could say anything the Detective reached bare-handed for his crucifix which was on the nightstand next to the keys and wallet he’d already scooped up.
“You shouldn’t -”
“Ow, ow, what the hell, did some kind of acid get on this.” Using the same small handkerchief that Fraser had used to take the crucifix off, Ray scooped it up and put it in his pocket.
“Uh thanks for last night. I gotta go.” And Fraser let him.
Ray braced his hand against the side of the building and tried to steady himself. Glancing behind him, he saw that Gardino was still interviewing one of the witnesses and the beat cops were taking names. No one paid any attention to him. By force of will he managed to still the tremors that wracked his body. He felt like crap. The scene was too loud. Too much.
He wished that he could pretend that waking up with a man he didn't know hadn't happened before. It had. One other time. Some might say it was a pattern of sorts, but the first time was right after his divorce. He'd gone to bar, he wasn't familiar with and when one of the other patrons started to flirt, he was just drunk enough to allow it. When the man, slid off his stool, leaned into Ray said 'let's get out of here', Ray had slid off his own bar stool to fall in step right behind him.
The next morning he was awakened by near ear splitting snoring. The deafening noise allowed him to grab his clothes and escape from the apartment of the man he'd apparently, if the way he smelled was any indication, had sex with. A marriage, the Detective thought would work out had just ended and although he had tucked that night into a dark corner never to be visited, as he peered into it now, he acknowledged to himself, that at least that night made some kind of sense.
But last night. There had been no emotional meltdown inducing circumstance. At least not that he could remember. He could recall that he was pissed at Frannie for not picking up his dry cleaning. He could admit that he was a little vain when it came to his appearance. He liked to look good, liked Armani especially. But not having his suits wasn't enough to send him into an emotional tailspin. Contrary to what other people might have believed.
He'd been panicked when he left the warehouse. He only drank when bad things happened and he couldn't remember anything beyond his dry cleaning. He'd called his Ma and managed to ask as calmly as possible whether or not everyone was okay. Everyone was. When he'd reported to the two seven, Welsh told him that if he was still feeling sick he shouldn't clock in. Welsh was adamant against him spreading the 'flu'. Apparently a man claiming to be his 'cousin' had called him out with the possible flu the previous night. Vecchio didn't have to think very hard to figure out which 'cousin' it was.
His hands pressed against his ears. Had crime scenes always been this loud he wondered. It was like he could hear every piece of gravel, crunched under the heel of every crime scene investigator's, detective's and paramedic's shoes on the scene.
His suits, he thought as he leaned against an office building for support, the last thing he remembered was getting in the Riv to go to the cleaners. And then -. Nothing. Nothing until waking up naked in a strange bed. The truth of what happened slammed into the Detective. Obviously, he'd been drugged, rohypnol most likely.
"Vecchio, Vecchio." Reluctantly, he dropped his hands to sides.
"You don't have to shout, Gardino."
"Well then why don't you try answering when I call you like 27 times. It looks like the
Vecchio held up his hand to silence his fellow detective. "Can you and Huey take this. I think maybe I do have the flu or something and I'm, I need to clock out. Can you let Lieu know."
Gardino took a giant step back.
"Sure, Sure Vecchio. You look like death warmed over."
"Can you do it without the editorial?"
"Touchy," Gardino grinned as he turned and with his too loud footsteps made his way back to the thick of the murder investigation.
Gritting his teeth against the cramping in his stomach, Ray Vecchio pulled himself together to trudge the few yards to his car. He barely made it.
"Detective, might I be of some assistance?"
Ray didn't know how long he'd been standing on the driver's side of his car with his keys clutched in a shaking hand. The night sounds continued to overwhelm. Heartbeats. Those seemed to be the loudest now, so loud he couldn't even hear his own heartbeat. And blood. He thought he could hear actual blood rushing through veins. The cramping in his stomach had also kicked up another notch.
After leaving the one night stand's place, he'd used his siren to make it to the two-seven on time. He'd finished pulling himself together in a part of the two-seven employee parking lot that was a blind spot to the security cameras. As soon as he'd crossed the threshold into the squad, they had gotten hit with a double homicide. On the way out of the station to answer the call, he'd slammed down cup of coffee and scarfed down a couple donuts. A big mistake. Twenty minutes later, he'd had to walk away from the crime scene. Now, the cramping was so bad he could barely stand.
"I apologize Detective for not handling this better." Cool fingers brushed against Ray's temple, his cheek.
"Please drink this."
Ray turned his head enough to find the one night stand looking at him with what appeared to be concern. Wearing a red flannel shirt, jeans and a Stetson, he looked like a Park Ranger. A Park Ranger with a bottle of cranberry juice in his hand, extended towards Ray.
"I have a gun," Ray rasped.
"As you should Detective, however that won't help you now. Drink this."
Standing as straight as he could, Ray demanded, "What did you do to me? What did you give me?"
"Please Detective Vecchio, I'll explain everything, but you must be well enough to understand when I tell you."
Cop instinct screamed get away, but something else inside stirred him toward the park ranger.
"Just a couple of sips Detective. I promise it will make you feel better. I promise to answer your questions." Warring instincts fought for control in the Detective. If he could just, get to his gun maybe get off a shot --.
"Ray." The cool fingers were back soothing across his forehead, a frighteningly strong hand steadied him.
"What's happening to me?"
Holding on to the ailing man as tightly as he could one handed, Benton Fraser uncapped the bottle. He berated himself for allowing this to have happened. Granted he had never done precisely this before, but he had done the research years before. He'd known that the detective would need to eat. Instead of doing everything in his considerable power to keep the Detective from leaving the warehouse, he'd allowed the uncertainty that came with the Detective's awakening to interfere.
He had had a duty and failed. That failure led him to shadow the Detective, hoping for an opportunity to pull him aside and have the delayed conversation.
"What the hell is that? Is that blood, that smells like blood. Let go of me."
The sudden violent twisting of the Detective caught Fraser completely off guard. The bottle bobbled and shattered on the ground. The Detective only made it a few feet before he sank to his knees and passed out face down in the street.
Ray Vecchio awoke to sheets that shouldn't have been familiar, but were. "I better not be naked under here." He grumbled. A chuckle from his left came in response.
"I'm afraid Detective that again there was no part of your suit that could be salvaged."
Vecchio pushed himself into a sitting position allowing the sheet to pool in his lap. He was naked, again. Cop instinct yelled serial killer, kinky serial killer, get out now. But it was muted, a dull roar underneath an instinct that said that the man watching him from a utilitarian folding chair beside the bed, would not hurt him.
And his body...The last thing he remembered before waking this time was feeling like crap. But now, he felt good. He glanced at the man who continued to watch him intently. The guy looked harmless, good looking in that clean cut all American way. Just like a serial killer, the cop in him whispered. The other instinct made him ask quietly.
"What did you do to me?"
The man swept his finger across his right eyebrow a couple of times before, his hands clasped tightly together and he leaned forward. Ray’s grip on the sheet tightened as he waited.
"I owe you an apology for the way that I've handled this. Two nights ago you came upon what you thought was a crime being committed. There were two men in the alley adjacent to your dry cleaners, one of whom was armed. Your approach startled the armed man. He shot you in the heart.”
Sudden, incredulous laughter echoed throughout the warehouse.
“Right, and that’s why I have this huge freakin’ bullet hole in my chest,” Vecchio said as long fingers passed over his chest‘s unmarked skin. And stuttered. As the fingers passed again, they pressed down hard. Panicked green eyes flew to the man in the chair, whose gaze did not waver.
“He shot you in the heart with an arrow from a crossbow, so there would be no bullet hole. I am terribly sorry, but he did succeed in ending your life.”
Detective Vecchio surged to his feet. “What did you do to me?” His fingers scrabbled against his non-existent pulse point. With hands fisted, he loomed over Benton, who didn’t flinch.
“What the fuck did you to me?”
“You were mortally wounded while trying to come to my aid. I could not let you die. Not like that, because of something foolish I had done. I had thought perhaps you might have a wife or children.”
Fraser grabbed Vecchio's clenched fist. Forced it against his own heart until the Detective splayed his fingers against the fabric of Fraser's shirt.
"I have made you as I am." Perfect white fangs dropped and grey blue pupils blew obliterating the white of Benton's eyes.
"You're a…what are you trying to tell me? That you’re a vampire?"
"As are you."
"No, no you gave me something. Some new drug on the street that - ."
"Detective, look at the evidence. I have no heartbeat. I am not breathing. You have no heartbeat. You're not breathing. You were unable to pickup your crucifix barehanded.”
Ray yanked his hand away and stumbled backwards. Now that he had begun Benton did not want to falter again.
“There are some other things that you need to know.” Ray stared at the man in horror, oblivious to his continued nakedness. His cop instinct had been right. Serial killer.
“How many,” Ray ground out.
“How many what?”
“How many people have you killed?” Ray asked defiantly. “Before me, how many have there been?”
Fraser took a slight step forward and Ray held his ground.
“Detective truly there are more important things that you need to know right now.”
“I don’t believe you.”
“Detective, let me explain.”
“I don’t believe you,” Ray roared as he backed away, kept backing away until he was against the heavy door of the warehouse. With little conscience effort, he shoved the heavy unlocked door open enough to slip through a small opening and quickly closed it behind him. It was then that he realized he was still naked. “Shit.”
Inside the warehouse Benton stared at the door and waited. He’d managed to feed the Detective enough of his own blood, enough to get him through a day. But that could not continue. It would be dangerous for both of them.
His own awakening hadn’t been so fraught, so frantic. He’d awakened to a cool tongue pressed into his mouth and a similarly cool body wrapped around his, delicate fingers caressing in ways no one ever had before. His awakening had been a night long chain of arousal and release arousal and release. Most of it was a blur of hands and mouth showing him pleasure he hadn’t known. Until, just before sunrise, before time to slumber again, he was allowed to come to himself enough to fully see the person who was his maker.
As she climbed on top of him and he was sheathed fully inside her, he got to look his full of Victoria Metcalfe for the first time. Pale, pale skin and full red lips framed with luminous raven hair. While she rode him, raven hair flying everywhere, she transformed. He had known somewhere deep inside, from the first touch that the man he’d been was gone. His revelation at what he’d become, was entwined with the most pleasure his body had ever experienced in his life. Although, since Constable Benton Fraser had died a virgin, it was more the beginning of some of the most pleasurably erotic experiences of his unlife.
Perhaps if he had done that for the Detective, the other man wouldn’t be somewhere outside of the warehouse without his clothes. The dry cleaning bag was still in his car and he trusted that the Detective would find it eventually. He would take the time to fine tune his approach. He ignored the niggling thought that he had once again subverted tradition and Detective Vecchio was paying the price.
“VECCHIO GET IN HERE!”
“I’M WORKING ON SOMETHING LIEU.”
“MY OFFICE, NOW.”
Vecchio stared hard at the criminal database photos of suspects that fit the one night stand’s description.
Reluctantly, Vecchio shoved himself away from his desk. Fortunately his car hadn’t been parked too far away from the warehouse and he still had one more suit inside the dry cleaning bag. Eventually he was going to actually have to go to his house. He hadn’t been there in two days and the last time, he’d been breathing. He could feel himself standing right on the edge of hysteria.
“Vecchio what did I tell you about coming in here and making the rest of the squad sick. I’m already down some personnel and you coming in here looking like death is not the way to win my heart. Go home.”
“We got a double murder, Lieu.”
“Which means I need healthy cops.”
Vecchio tried to keep working on the computer, but the evil eye from Welsh propelled him out of the precinct, into the night. He broke his stride toward the Riv in favor of the sidewalk. A sidewalk that he’d walked down a hundred times before, but not as a….not like this. With everything so sharp, so bright. More manageable than the previous night. More manageable than thinking about anything the one night stand had said earlier.
Vecchio wondered if maybe he could slip into another precinct, call in a favor and use one of their computers to finish his search. The one night stand had confessed to a murder. If he could find him in the database -. Well, Vecchio wasn’t sure what he would do, but he was still a homicide detective.
Instead of a sister precinct, his feet carried him to the mouth of the alley where he had apparently breathed his last. He stood at the mouth of the alley for several minutes wavering, hoping that his memories would come to him in a flood. Nothing happened. He took a few tentative steps into the alley, still nothing. It was a crime scene he thought, even if he couldn’t remember. It was a crime scene and there might be some evidence. That thought propelled him the rest of the way into the alley. He hadn’t brought a flashlight, but he found that he didn’t need one.
And somehow he knew without knowing that the blood he smelled was his own. He followed the scent to a spot about midway down the alley and dropped to his knees. The blood had long dried, but still he pressed both of his hands to the asphalt, seeking and inhaled deeply. Anger welled. He had died here.
Suddenly, there was a noise to his immediate left and he stood quickly. Whirling, he found a man standing less than a few feet away from him, gun drawn.
“Oh, my God,” the man whispered as he stared at Ray. “You’re dead. You’re supposed to be dead.”
Ray took a step toward the man who was simultaneously trying to re-holster his gun and reach for something under the long coat he wore.
“Who are you? You were here that night. What -”
Suddenly there was a crossbow aimed at his chest. Shock moved Vecchio and improved reflexes saved him as he dodged to the side. The bolt tore through and out of the left arm of his suit jacket to clatter to the ground behind him. The man began to reload. Vecchio turned and ran.
“Where have you been ?”
“Well I’ve been out. That seems obvious doesn’t it?”
“You’ve cut it rather close haven’t you?” Fraser looked up from the journal he was reading at Ray who glared at him.
“Oh, you mean the sunrise?”
“Yes, I mean the sunrise.”
“What’s a little sun when there’s some guy running around with a bow and arrow trying to kill you.”
“I beg your pardon?” Ray fingered the hole in his jacket drawing Fraser’s attention.
“I ran into a guy last night who tried to kill me, again I guess. I’m already dead and some guy is trying to kill me.”
Fraser closed the journal he’d been reading and was immediately to Ray’s side. He clutched the fabric in his hand, exploring the hole thoroughly.
“Oh, dear. I‘ll replace this of course.”
“Oh, dear? What the hell is ‘oh dear’ ? I don’t think vampires are supposed to say ‘oh dear’ . No vampire I ever seen said things like, ‘oh dear’.”
“Those were more than likely TV vampires.” Ray had to concede that point.
“Okay, so in real uh, life vampires say ‘oh dear’ why exactly?”
“How precisely did he, how did he get the drop on you. The flatulence is really quite –”
“He believes himself to be this great hunter, but in point of fact he has a terrible flatulence problem. It is impossible for him to sneak up on anyone. You should have been able to smell him from a mile away."
“All I could smell was blood, my own blood. I couldn’t. I was distracted.”
“You went to the alley.”
“Yes.” Benton understood the desire to see the place of his death. His maker had taken him to his.
“Did you find what you needed there?”
“I don’t know what I need.” The vulnerability of those words stirred Benton who moved his hand from the sleeve of Ray’s jacket to cup his cheek.
“I can help you with that.”
“Are you flirting with me?”
“I, the other approaches haven’t seemed to work. There are things that have been left too long.”
“Don’t try and distract me with flirting what was ‘oh dear’?”
“He is a hunter, a vampire hunter. He knows that you are like me now. For him this is a vendetta. He won’t ever stop until he’s killed you. Having regular employment, especially with the police department makes you easy to find. I’m afraid you’ll have to find another career and more than likely, eventually, leave town as well.”
“You can’t stay with the police department. And your family will eventually become suspicious.”
“I’m a cop. My family relies on me. Without me they would lose the house. What else am I supposed to do?”
“We’ll figure something out.”
“What would I tell my family? I can’t just go.”
“Perhaps you could tell them that you’ve been sent away to another state on an undercover assignment.”
“Another state? This is my home.”
“Someplace out west perhaps. Or perhaps we could stage your death.”
“You want to kill me?”
“You’re already dead, but this way you have the opportunity to get your affairs in order first.”
“You should probably stop talking now.”
“We can’t leave the matter for too much longer.”
“Dammit, stop talking.” He paced away from Fraser to a far corner of the warehouse.
“I’m sorry,” Fraser muttered softly, but Ray still heard him.
“Yeah, that and a couple of bucks will barely get me a cup of coffee. Incidentally, I walked the streets for a while and not once did I have the urge to bite anyone.”
“It doesn’t work that way anymore.”
“Of course not. How does it work then.”
Benton made his way to the fridge and opened it. He was relieved that he was finally able to start getting to the heart of the matter.
“While we retain the ability to bite, it’s not necessary for our survival. That was the old way. There are companies now in nearly every city, that handle our needs. Most of them deliver. We need not endanger ourselves or others simply to live.”
Ray peered into the fridge and shuddered at the sight of the neatly lined up bottles.
“Three meals a day. It’s very easy. Very efficient. You are new so it is important that you don‘t skip, even an extra couple bottles a day couldn‘t hurt.”
“Except that it’s blood. I don’t want to drink blood.”
“It’s the only way we survive.”
“I’ve done fine.”
“Because I’ve been feeding you, my own blood while you lay unconscious. That can not continue. It fosters an unhealthy attachment. A co-dependence. You have to drink on your own. You have to be - ”
“Get off my back.”
“I know this isn’t easy. I do understand.”
“Then you understand how annoying you are. You understand that you are the most annoying man I have ever met.”
“That’s a trait that has perhaps followed me into death.”
“We sleep now right? Is there another bed or a couch or something.”
“I’m afraid there’s not much else in the way of furniture. The bed is big enough for two.”
Without a word, Ray stalked back to the side of the warehouse where the bed was located and stripped down to his underwear. He climbed in the bed. Benton did the same and took the opposite side of the bed. The two men lay side by side on their backs, not touching.
Benton had taken great care with the place to keep it from appearing crypt like. There were those that preferred that traditional design. Victoria had been one of those, he wasn’t. He’d sealed the warehouse tightly against UV light without giving in so blatantly to the darkness. The timered lights had already dimmed to suffuse the room in a low light. It gave the warehouse a kind f candlelight glow.
“Every year for the last three years, I’ve put in a request to transfer back to day shift. My family was driving me crazy when I transferred to nights, I needed some peace and quiet. I’ve missed a lot of life in the last three years.”
Benton could find nothing to say in response so he simply sought Ray’s hand and squeezed. Ray sighed loudly, but didn’t move his hand.
At sunset Benton woke alone to a note.
“Tying up some loose ends - Ray.” Benton went immediately to the refrigerator and was heartened to see four bottles missing. Feeling optimistic for the first time in a long while, he grabbed his own bottle from the fridge, then settled in front of his computer to begin creating Ray Vecchio‘s new identity.
Benton had become so engrossed in constructing the new life that the time slipped by him until a cursory glance at the clock on his computer monitor reminded him it was moments before sunrise. He placed a call to the station to see if Ray had been delayed on a case. He spoke to a Desk Sergeant who told him that the Detective was out ill. He tried Ray’s cell phone and got no answer. The optimism that had carried him through much of the night faded completely. Too late for Ray to make it to the warehouse. He could do nothing, but hold onto the hope Ray had found another place to wait out the day.
As soon as it was dark enough, he set out to track Ray as he’d once tracked others. It was a little easier now.
He was unable to find a fresh scent him at the station. He could tell that Ray had been there, but not in the last twenty four hours. He knew where Ray lived but, he resisted the immediate impulse to go. He didn’t want to see the exact number of what he had taken from the Detective.
The scent was fresher at the Vecchio home, but not as powerful as it would have been had Ray been in the house or yard. Lifting his nose to the air, he inhaled deeply. And there is was, on the slight breeze. Ray. Stronger and coming from a direction west of the house.
The scent was strongest at Giannelli’s bakery, but the bakery was closed. Perhaps Ray had sought shelter in the basement of the bakery he thought. As he began looking for an opening, the faint sound of an animal whimpering pricked Benton’s ears. As he moved deeper into the alley behind the bakery, closer to the whimpers, they resolved themselves into something wholly recognizable.
“Oh no. RAY,” he shouted as he sprinted to a pile of broken down cardboard boxes stacked nearly six feet high.
“RAY.” With a simple push he shifted the boxes to the side. Ray lay huddled in the fetal position underneath. His whimpers made words.
“I’m so sorry Frannie. I’m so sorry Frannie. So sorry. Help me, someone help me.”
The litany over and over. Benton checked him quickly for burns or other injuries. Found none except the obvious, that the other man had not eaten.
Unexpected grief slammed into Fraser. With little ceremony, he lifted Ray Vecchio into the fireman’s carry to take him home.
Upon the return to the warehouse, he lay Ray gently on the bed. He wasn’t as unconscious as he’d been on the other occasions, but the lack of consciousness had been replaced by an agitation that made it impossible for Ray to be still.
Fraser had no choice but to straddle the Detective’s chest high enough so that he could press his knees into the Detective’s forearms. It provided enough restraint to facilitate forced bottle feeding. Ray struggled, but in his diminished state he was no match for Benton. Fraser got a half bottle into Ray before the other man drifted into a kind of sleep. The movement underneath his eyelids was too rapid for it to be peaceful, but he would live, unless --. Benton scented.
His visitor wasn’t wholly unexpected, but he’d hoped to have more time.
He watched from the shadows as Buck Frobisher snuck into the second level of the warehouse through a window that Benton hadn’t properly fixed. It was mostly blocked by the side of another warehouse and there was no danger from direct sunlight. Sometimes, just before sun up on especially warm days, Benton would linger before turning in. The man had pushed his weapon through first which Benton quickly secured. As Frobisher got the rest of his girth through the small window, Benton wasted no time in seizing him. Ray’s condition left him little time to waste. And the meeting had been years in the making.
The hunter had barely gotten himself upright before Benton slipped a powerful forearm around the man’s neck and squeezed. Frobisher gasped and began pulling frantically to relieve the pressure on his neck.
“Do not struggle. Or you will die.” The hands on his arm fell away instantly. With little grace, he dragged the older man to a vantage point that overlooked the first floor. Ray could be seen plainly. Benton bent low and hissed in the hunter’s ear.
“I know you do what you do because you loved Bob Fraser, but that man, Ray Vecchio is an innocent.”
“He’s a monster,” Frobisher rasped in spite of the crush against on his throat.
“Look at him, look him up if you need to. He was a law enforcement officer who thought he was coming to the aid of a civilian. Like you did once, like I did. Instead, you murdered him in cold blood. We killed a police officer Buck. That blood is on both our hands. There will be no 21 gun salute for him, no bagpipes. His colleagues will never know the sacrifice he made. His family has lost its brother, son, provider.”
Frobisher shuddered. A small cry of painful acknowledgment escaped him just before he slumped in defeat. Benton loosened his grasp.
“You didn’t kill me outright so you must want something.”
“You have hunted me long enough to know that I do not kill humans. When he awakens I will make the Detective an offer. He did not have a choice in this so I will give him one. I will give him the choice to die a final death.”
“You mean –”
“Yes, the Detective may actually finish the job you have been unable to all these years.”
“Does he know?”
“Does it matter?”
“Should the Detective not choose that option, then I have made arrangements for us to leave Chicago. And you will not take up the pursuit again. You will let us go.”
Frobisher opened his mouth to object, to do that would go against the solemn vow he’d made ten years before.”
The hold on him loosened entirely and he felt the monster step away. Frobisher turned quickly so they were face to face.
“Buck, you have done right by Bob. You have done all that you could, but it ends here.”
The resemblance was too much for Buck, he stepped forward and touched Benton briefly on the cheek. He tried not to flinch at the cold skin. “I never should have let you participate in the search that day.”
“There was no way you could have stopped me. It was my duty. The duty of us all. And she…The one who brought sorrow to us both is gone. Allow this be a truce.”
Buck nodded quickly and let his hand fall away.
“I have something for you. Bob Fraser’s diaries. I think that you should have them.” Benton handed him a small satchel. “I’ll post the rest along with the crossbow.”
Rustling sheets floated up to Benton‘s ears.
“I think it’s probably best that you go now. Use the door this time.”
He listened closely until the footfalls of the man who had been Constable Benton Fraser’s godfather and commanding officer, the last connection to the life before faded to nothing.
“Am I gonna live doc?”
As he pulled up a chair right beside the bed, it surprised him to find Ray smiling at him. He sought Ray’s hand. At the risk of wiping the smile away he asked one of the questions that had plagued him since finding Ray in the alley.
“Who is Frannie?” Ray’s hand tightened around his, but didn’t let go. The smile did fade
“She’s…she’s my younger sister. I went to see her and I,if she had picked up the dry cleaning that night. I just got so angry. It was more intense then anything I had ever felt. And she started screaming at me that I wasn‘t the boss of her. I grabbed her and just started shaking. I could hear her heart, her blood. And I hadn’t eaten.”
Horror rose in Benton. “You took bottles with you.”
“For show. I threw them off the pier.”
“What happened to your sister Ray?”
“She, I wanted to bite her Benton so badly. I wanted her blood. I could feel it. I could feel myself changing. I needed…Ma came into the room and started yelling at me. That snapped me out of it a little and I ran. I think I ran for a long time. Then I hid. I could have killed my baby sister. I wanted to. It Ma hadn‘t walked in -”
Benton abandoned the chair for the side of the bed. With his free hand, he stroked gently across Ray’s forehead to soothe him.
“I am sorry Ray. I had thought to give you the gift of extra time, but perhaps it would have been better to have let you go that night. I’ll let you go now if that’s what you want. I can do it in a way that’s less painful than allowing the sun to take you or starving.”
“I love the sun.”
“I know Ray. So did I.”
“I don’t think I can be on the night shift for the rest of my life.”
“Perhaps that’s because you see so many terrible things at night. There are other things that you can do, there are beautiful things to see. The night can be beautiful.”
“I‘ve never been without family.”
“Yes. I know it is a small consolation, but I would be with you. I wouldn’t leave you.”
“You’d be getting the shit end of the stick.”
“I don’t think that is actually the case.”
Ray’s hand clasped so tightly around his that were he human it would have broken.
“Will you…I don’t know what to do. Will you hold me. I’m sorry that’s so girly.”
“Holding you would be my pleasure.”
Fraser stripped down and slid into the bed. They shifted around to lay Ray’s back to his chest. Fraser pressed an open mouth kiss to the base of Ray’s neck as he let his hand make slow caresses across his nipples, his stomach, his manhood. Ray tensed against him and he made his touch feather light, but he did not stop.
"Were you, before…did you?" Ray faltered then stopped.
"I can't honestly tell you. I was serious about my duties, to the exclusion of almost everything else.”
“When you would see another you guy you didn’t -.”
“I believe that I was a workaholic in the classic sense. Something that was inherited from my father.”
“You‘ve got your hand on my dick.”
“It’s taken away certain inhibitions I once had. It’s allowed me to appreciate beauty for beauty’s sake. The source is less important.”
“I was married. And the same day the divorce became final, that night I went to a bar. Pretended…I’ve never told anyone this before.”
His body tensed a little more against Benton’s, as he simultaneously pressed himself into the caressing hand.
“I had a few beers, pretended to be drunk. And this guy started talking to me, in that way. I left the bar with him. I let him have me, my mouth, my ass. I pretended it wasn’t really me. That it wasn’t what I wanted. It was something that just happened. I don’t even know how to do that now. There isn’t any part of me that wants to pretend you’re not touching me.”
Benton withdrew his hand. “Look at me Ray.” Ray turned to look at him with eyes that were nearly all green. There was just a hint of fang.
“There are things that I need to tell you now.”
“Like why you and the hunter sound like family. Like what will really happen to you if you kill me.”
“You were asleep.”
“I was and then I wasn’t. You learn a lot when the suspect doesn’t think you’re listening.”
“You said there was a vendetta. Did you do something to him?”
“Buck Frobisher was once a member of the RCMP. A vampire, a fugitive Victoria Metcalfe murdered his partner Robert Fraser and took his partner’s son, Frobisher’s godson as her life mate. He believes that she murdered the godson, but he had already died or was dying. He was separated from the rest of the unit during a manhunt . There was a storm, a whiteout. Rescue would not have arrived in time to save his life.”
The godson was also RCMP?”
“What was his name?”
“Constable Benton Fraser.”
“He called you Benton.”
“Yes.” Ray’s fingers trailed over Benton’s eyebrows, his cheeks, his lips.
“You never told me your name.”
“Didn’t I? Except for Frobisher there’s no one to call me that anymore.”
“What about Victoria? She made you her life mate, shouldn‘t you be with her?”
Benton pushed himself into a sitting position against the headboard. Ray followed him up and pressed his thigh to Benton’s. This time Ray found Benton’s hand.
“When you first woke, there were things that you needed to be told right away.”
“Gimme the highlights.”
“Since it’s not necessary for us to feed on humans, there is no reason for us to bite humans. It is forbidden. We are not allowed to make new vampires except under a specific circumstance and then only once. Victoria was cruel. She reveled in that cruelty. She enjoyed kidnapping humans, especially law enforcement, and though she had no need, feeding until they were near death. That was for sport. Occupationally, she was a bank robber. It took me a year to fully understand what she was, the monster and danger she was. It took me another year kill her.”
“Are you, can you do that?”
"There are provisions made in our law, but if you've done what I've done you must go before a tribunal, present evidence. The life mate bond has to be entered into with honesty. Ours wasn’t. She never presented herself to me honestly so that I could choose. What I did was found valid under our law."
"But you're here alone. You don't hang out with others. You haven’t mentioned others. There are others here, right. In the city?
"What I did was right under the law. Her actions endangered us all. But our kind are uncomfortable with me. Some believe that I chose humans over us. That perhaps I am not vampire enough. Some simply don't like being reminded that the provision exists, as it is so rarely invoked. Walking among them reminds them of a part of ourselves they would rather not think about."
"Is that why you let, what was it Frobisher? Is that why you let Frobisher get the drop on you? You were tired of being exiled."
"I was not exiled Ray. I simply chose to leave."
"You know that isn't true."
"When I was human I was quite solitary. There was always something work related I could do. Ways that I could improve. Perhaps it was the years I spent with Victoria, but now I find myself -”
"A little lost."
"I am not suicidal."
"You let the hunter get close enough to you so that he could kill you. If I hadn't been there you would have let him. You want me to kill you."
"That's not what I said."
“I have the bat hearing too. I heard you. You said that Frobisher might get his wish if I choose death. What happens to you if I let you kill me.”
“There is a provision to prevent infatuation turnings. Dishonest turnings. Should the vampire who does the turning kill their life mate. Their own life is forfeit.”
"I was right.”
“You really are a pain the ass.” Benton huffed as he yanked his hand from Ray’s and climbed out of the bed.
Ray knelt up in the bed and took off his underwear, freeing his erection. Benton couldn’t help but stare. His eyes flashed blue-gray as his fangs slid slowly into place.
“You want me. And instead of saying that, instead of asking me to honor the turning -. "
"I don't want to keep you here. You don't want to be here which you have made abundantly clear. You're the one that's suicidal. You won't even eat on your own. You nearly killed your sister which was wholly preventable. You must eat."
"And if I do, then what."
“Prove to me that you'll eat."
Erection, bobbing Ray scrambled out of the bed and to the fridge. He flung the door open with great flourish and grabbed one of the bottles. Whipping the cap off, he touched the rim to his lips.
“Oh, god that’s cold.”
“It generally is best to let it warm a little,” Benton smirked. Ray glared, held his nose and chugged all of it down in one glug.
“Then this.” Fraser growled as he stalked toward Ray.
As he moved, he stepped out of his own underwear. His full vampire face was in effect. He yanked the empty bottle out of Ray’s hand, tasted the combination of Ray and the blood on the rim. The savored combination elicited a guttural moan from Fraser. Tossing the empty in the pickup bin with one hand, he used the other for one powerful shove. Startled Ray landed on his back, hard, in front of the fridge. Benton fell on top of him, his erection sliding along Ray’s. Ray’s fangs dropped fully and his eyes blew to all green as he arched into the sensation.
His arms were restrained at the wrists by Fraser’s powerful grasp. Teeth grazed, bit and sucked their way down Ray’s torso. Each mark healing mere moments after being made. Each cause of the mark making him writhe in pleasure. When Benton took him into the cool cavern of his mouth, fangs grazing every so slightly, Ray bucked and arched nearly into a full backbend. Seconds later, with a moan that bounced off the rafters he spilled into Fraser’s mouth.
“Did you like that,” Fraser asked in a voice that resonated with a deeper timbre than Ray had grown use to. Nodding mutely, he offered no resistance when Fraser growled, “Good,” and draped Ray’s knees over his shoulders. Drawing Ray down into his lap so that his back rested against his knees while his head remained on the floor, Fraser bent and plunged his tongue in to Ray’s opening. He stabbed Ray’s hole with his tongue alternating with a quick tiny pricks to the fleshy part of Ray’s ass.
“Please, oh please, please,” Ray moaned as his hands scrabbled to touch the body that was just out of his reach. Benton lifted his head from his ministrations just long enough give him a feral grin.
“Please what Ray?”
“Don’t tease me, you bastard. You know what.”
“I do.” Fraser murmured as he let Ray’s knees slide off his shoulders. Before Ray could fully straighten his body, Fraser dove in for a kiss. Biting Ray’s lip just enough to make it bleed, he smeared their mouths together in a deep soul kiss. His mouth never leaving Ray’s, Benton pushed the other man’s knees to his chest and positioned himself at Ray’s entrance. It was all animal instinct as he pushed and pushed into Ray. As he became fully seated, Ray tore his mouth away in a gasp of pain/ecstasy digging a trail of rapidly healing scratches into his partner‘s back.
“This is incredible,” Ray whisper moaned as he anchored his legs behind Benton’s back.
“I think somehow it was always supposed to be you. Be this. I think -.”
Benton bit into Ray’s mouth again as he began his first thrusts and nothing was said between them for a long time.
"Private investigators, huh?"
They were entwined in the bed much as they had been before the consummation of their relationship as life mates. But now Ray Vecchio understood fully what it meant to be held by the vampire Benton Fraser. He’d always been the caretaker, but that was over now. Now there was someone to take care of him.
Fraser’s hand stroked the sparse growth of hair on Ray’s head. Ray sank into it and tried not to purr .
"A good many of our kind seem to find fulfillment in careers as private investigators. It's almost a sub-clan. It certainly has the flexibility we need. There seem to be quite a few in the west, perhaps we could start there."
“What about Las Vegas?”
“The mob is still out there right? We could say, I could tell the family that I’ve been called to Vegas to work on a special investigation. That way I can still send them money. It’s in the west. I’ve never been there. I’ve only seen pictures. It’s so lit up at night. So bright. And its not as suspicious if you’re out all night there. The town is built around being out all night. Let's go there.”
Of course Ray, we can go anywhere you like.”