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JD soon found himself getting daily updates on what RMETF Seven was doing at any given time. He worried a little that Larabee would be upset with the fact that he knew so much about the team. It didnt seem like Larabee was bound by convention. The second in command was his old partner from the Denver P.D. The new members were a medic, one of the best non military trauma medics out there and an old professor of Philosophy who had a Ph.D. in Psychology. Dunne couldnt figure out why hed chosen men with such unusual backgrounds but he figured that Larabee had a reason for it. The mans own record was amazing, at least what JD could get of it. Trying to get military files was not something he wanted to do on the Consulate computer, so hed gone to the Chicago Public Library. Not wanting to get them in trouble in case of a backtrack, JD was very judicious about the information he collected.
He walked back to the Consulate for lunch with the Mounties. Lately theyd been getting deliveries from McGintys. The sandwiches were definitely better than the ones the local shop was handing out. They wouldnt let him pay either. All theyd say was that it was fair recompense for his work on the Consulate. Gary Hobson, McGintys eccentric owner, even gave him the stack of Dime Novels that hed been reading at the bar. They had to be worth money, but hed been too busy to spend much time finishing the one he started with. There had been too much to do. However, his bike was almost fixed to the point of being new. How Turnbull had been able to spend so much time polishing the thing to mirror brightness, JD hadnt a clue, but the thing was purring like a kitten.
Although he hated it, it would soon be time to leave Chicago behind. It hadnt been his intent to make friends here, but he would regret leaving town. The people hed met on his journey had been so kind to him. They wouldnt let him pay them back, so maybe hed better pay it forward. The only thing that he could think of to do was to show people he met the same kindness hed encountered.
Aoki was standing at attention outside the Consulate. Three teenage girls were all over him. One was putting on a ton of lipstick as she prepared to kiss him. People, JD had discovered, would do anything, anything to try to get the guards to react. Here was a kindness that JD could pay back.
Hey, he yelled, Knock it off! The girls glared at him, but backed off. The one with the lipstick started to defy him, but ran off with her friends at a second look from JD.
The big clock struck the hour and Aokis posture relaxed into normalcy.
Thanks, the man said as he straightened his uniform.
Are they always that bad? JD asked. Hed seen some pretty strange things while staying at the Consulate.
Sometimes theyre worse. Though I think the one that gets me is the little kid with the ice cream cone. Seems his older brother used to drop it on some of the previous Members boots. The little darling seems to want to outdo his brother. Im not sure how he does it, but my boots squelch every time. Aoki sighed and stretched. His stomach rumbled. Lunch time I think.
JD laughed and went in. The other Mounties were finishing up the wallpapering. Tomorrow theyd be painting the trim and after the weekend the Consulate would be finished. Corporal Franklyn waved JD towards the main office, though he had one ear firmly attached to the phone.
See if you can get him out of there. Lunch is in the kitchen and I cant get the others to eat if he isnt there, Franklyn said in exasperation. He began talking into the phone in another language. JD guessed it was one of the native dialects, it didnt sound like French and Franklyn couldnt speak Chinese. The Consulate was multi-lingual that was for certain. With a bit of humor, JD approached the door to the Liaisons office. Knowing Allingham as he now did, JD was very sure that the man was working on his model ship collection.
Oh well, it couldnt be worse than his own paper airplane collection. Back at the NYPD, JD had a drawer where he kept all the planes that he made and crashed. Each had been an experiment in different things Mostly trying to get Sgt. Jennings goat.
Allingham gruffly responded to JDs knock, but the look on his face as he opened the door was amused. They were about to try to help Franklyn with his phone call when Turnbull came into the room with the rest of the Mounties trailing behind him. Parker stopped filing and turned to stare at Turnbull with the rest.
Corporal Franklyn took one look and made some excuse and hung up the phone. Although none of the Mounties were aware of Turnbulls nightly guard of the boarder, all of them were intelligent men. The look on Renfields face was enough to stop them all. He was drained of almost all colour and he was walking unsteadily. In his hand he clutched a paper so tightly that it was crunched. Tears streamed down the mans face.
For pitys sake Turnbull! Whats wrong?
Theyve killed him, Turnbull gasped out. He looked ready to collapse at any moment.
Killed who? Allingham took charge. Steady on. Whos been killed?
It took Turnbull a moment to try to speak, but he couldnt. Franklyn grabbed hold of him and with JDs help got the man into a chair. JD took the paper.
It says that some Inspector has been killed. JD said after glancing at it a moment. He was worried that Turnbull was going into shock. Allingham gently took hold of the paper from JD. Parker was ransacking the new shelves for a blanket. Turnbull started to shiver.
Good Lord, Allingham said, more a prayer than an oath. He looked up at Franklyn with a devastated expression on his face. Franklyn didnt hesitate, he grabbed the paper and read it.
Its DOrsay, he said trying to control his own grief and anger as he read it. The other Mounties looked at each other in shock. They kidnapped him. Franklyn bit his lip to try to avoid saying it, but he knew he had to tell them everything. They tortured the man, and when he didnt give them what they wanted they killed him. JD looked up at him, sensing his grief, but unable to do much more than be supportive. The bastards, Franklyn swore reading the message again.
What? Aoki asked softly, afraid and unsure.
They taped it. The Bastards taped it all and sent the thing to Headquarters. They wanted every Mountie to know what theyd done. The Bastards. Franklyn was shaking with rage.
JD didnt know what to say, but he tried to help out as much as he could. He understood grief, not only the loss of his mother, but of fellow officers in New York. The Mounties were extremely upset. There were dozens of visitors to the Consulate in the hours that followed.
JD himself lowered the Maple Leaf flag to half-staff. He wasnt sure that that was what Canadians did, but he thought it was appropriate. The visitors were mostly diplomats from the other Consulates in Chicago, but surprisingly some were local cops. One woman took Turnbull aside and spoke privately with the shattered man.
Not knowing what else to do, JD got the Mounties to eat a little, tended to the various guests and tried to keep the situation calm. When a Law Enforcement officer was killed in the line of duty, every thing went out the window. He could remember a couple of incidents in his old precinct in New York. The destruction and devastation left behind were almost unimaginable to anyone who wasnt an officer.
The murder of the young Inspector cast a pall over the Consulate. There was a heaviness to the duties of the Mounties. The laughter and joking that had been there when JD arrived were gone replaced by a depression. Everybody seemed to have Young Inspector stories to share. JD listened with amazement at the lengths to which DOrsay would go to uncover the truth. He wondered if he had it in himself to be as good an Agent as DOrsay had been.
Truthfully, JD wasnt certain that he had it within himself to hold so fast to the line. Yes, hed been a cop, but because of Capt. Meredith and Officer Ramsey, hed never really been much at risk. DOrsay had stood, and held fast, under torture without betraying his fellow officers or his Nation. The price for such action was huge. In a similar situation would JD be able to stand as firm or would he give in?
It was a melancholy mood that Turnbull found him in later that day. There was going to be a Memorial mass at St. Michaels church that night. JD wasnt sure that he should go. He wasnt a Mountie, but he understood the pain of a loss. Maybe he should go
JD crossed himself. Hed spent some time praying for the soul of the young Inspector but hed also prayed for himself. For the courage to stand should he be called on to do so. The young Inspectors death had touched a lot of people who probably hadnt even met him.
Hed said as much to Turnbull, using a heavyset man in the back as an example. Turnbull had followed the gesture, but had turned pale.
Thats Leftenant Welsh, he said softly. Hes the commander over at the 27th precinct. He was both Rays superior officer and welcomed the then Constable Fraser to work with his men. He helped the young Inspector when he came down here to investigate his half-sisters disappearance.
Oh. JD said, not knowing what to say. It felt a little like being in a minefield. Turnbull squeezed his shoulder in support and went off to make sure that the rest of his little band of Mounties were doing as well as could be expected.
The Mass let out and the Mounties were swamped with people offering their support and expressing their condolences. Apparently, the young Inspectors visit was almost as much of a rollercoster ride as the entire tenure of the then Constable Fraser. Turnbull had spoken often of his hero and JD had had a hard time imagining all of the hi-jinx, but hed never found the Mountie to lie or exaggerate.
Going to the Altar for a moment, JD said several prayers. His eye caught the sudden movement, but his mind told him that it had just been a shadow across the figure of the Archangel. JD specifically asked Michael to help him be as good an Agent as the young Inspector had been, one who could stand.
When he finished the church was almost empty. The thin nun who had helped get the Mass organized was straightening up. JD went up and began to help her.
Thanks, she said brightly. The Priest, a round older man with graying dark hair and a kind face slipped in to take a stack of missals from her.
Here Steve, let me take those.
The nun smiled at JDs surprised expression. My name is Stephanie, but most people call me Steve. Ive known Frank since I was a kid. They chatted for a few more minutes and then JD began to excuse himself to join the Mounties at a kind of wake for DOrsay.
The rain was pouring down, but JD snuggled into his light coat. It hadnt been wet enough for his snow gear earlier, and he was regretting the lack.
Youll freeze out there, an older woman said as she eyed him shrewdly. She had just come in to the church from the wet coat and hat. An umbrella had already joined some others in the stand that sat in the corner of the Vestibule.
Youre right Marie, Father Dowling said. Wait a minute. He dashed into another room returning quickly with a coat and umbrella.
I cant take these. JD started.
Nonsense. Father Behan used to collect them for just such emergencies. Youre not from Chicago are you? the nun said with a laugh.
No New York.
Then you should take these. We try not to drown our visitors. The Chamber of Commerce dislikes it, Sister Steve laughed. The older woman made a harrumphing noise, but the nuns laughter was merry.
Are you here for long? Father Dowling asked.
No, I was staying at the Consulate. JD said, not really sure if he could explain why he was there. To his surprise the priest and nun didnt ask about that though the older woman shot him a questioning glare.
JD? Are you ready to go? Turnbull asked as entered the vestibule.
Yeah. JD said. Thank you.
Here take them. There not doing any good in the closet, Frank Dowling said, firmly pressing the umbrella on the young man.
Thanks, but I wont be able to bring them back. Im leaving Chicago tomorrow. JD tried to explain.
Wherere you headed? the nun asked with interest.
Denver. Im going to apply to be a Federal Agent. JD said. Watching the surprise on both faces he added. I was a cop in New York.
In that case, Father Dowling said. Here. He fished in his pocket and drew something out. He handed it to JD, a St. Michaels medal. I think you could use a guardian Angel, and all Officers of the Law have Michael as their Patron.
Thank you. JD said a little overwhelmed. Why did everybody he ran into try to help him out? The priest gave him a formal blessing.
On the stairs outside the church, JD stopped to look at the medal.
Feeling a little Over Blessed? Turnbull asked with a laugh. The first that JD had heard from him in days. He led them to a car and opened the door. They were the last to leave. JD slid into the car and was warmer when Turnbull put on the heater.
A little, he admitted.
Just be grateful. Most people move through the world without finding the acceptance that youve run into. Youre off to do something great my friend. It shines in you and every good person will want to help. Just be careful out there. Turnbull hesitated a minute and then drew something out of his own pocket. Here. Put that on. Do you have a chain?
Yeah. JD said. He wore a gold chain with a small cross that his mother had given him for his first communion. He took it off and slipped the medal on the chain.
Heres another, Turnbull said handing him small gold piece. It was a fourth of a coin. JD couldnt make out the inscription. Just take it.
What does it mean? JD asked.
Its for hopes sake. If you need help, a member of the Order will help you. Dont worry JD. Its not so bleak. He watched JD thread the piece onto the chain on the opposite side of the cross. Not everyone who serves is asked to pay the ultimate price. If by some chance it does come to you, I have no doubts about you. None at all. Your courage is great, my friend. Far greater than you think. And after all you have your Mothers blessing.
Its not much. JD said, wondering if hed told Turnbull about his mothers blessing. He didnt remember doing so.
Its not much, JD. Its everything. She gave you her love and gave you a direction. I know that you will follow it. I will ask the Captain-General to help you. Turnbull again squeezed his shoulder. I know that things have been a bit unsettling for you but youve fallen in with a wildly metaphysical bunch. Were able to take care of the things we need to but we see things in a slightly different perspective.
I guess. JD said. Then he furrowed his brow. Order, what Order?
The Order of Michael, Guardian and Defender. Turnbull smiled as he released the break and pulled out into the evening traffic.
The mood at the restaurant was subdued. For while they just sat waiting for the pizza in silence. JD wanted to break the tension but was unsure how. He didnt want to leave these men in mourning. Why had this had to happen? As he was trying to figure out what to say, Aoki broke the silence with a comment about the young Inspector. Then Parker contributed a story, then Woodley, then Franklyn.
After a while they were talking and slowly beginning to laugh at the things that had been funny. It was better than grieving. Others joined them, the Lt., that Turnbull had pointed out, some Federal Agents, several beat cops and a woman Detective that Turnbull knew, Elaine Besbriss. Father Frank and Sister Steve turned up a little later. Theyd met the young Inspector during his visit to Chicago to find his sister, Meg Thatcher Fraser. Thered been a tragic ending to that one too.
After a while JD began to doze, the heat and the stomach full of pizza did the trick. He did not remember Turnbull and the others gathering him up and taking him back to his bed at the Consulate.
As he slept that night his dreams were all of his mother. In every one of them Rachel was whole and she was so happy, happier than hed ever known. It felt good to him to see his mother healthy. In a deep contentment, JD slept soundly, as ususal unaware of the grey-coated man who stood guard over him watching the shadows in the night.
JD was nervous as the Mounties threw him a farewell party. Hed helped out a little but they were treating him as if hed done something heroic. Each of them gave him something as a goodbye present and theyd packed his bags with food to last him. Food from McGintys. Gary and Marissa came by, as did Father Frank and the nun called Steve. Even the old Lieutenant, Welsh, he thought his name was. Hed even run into the two Federal Agents, Tusswell and Monson. Theyd given him gifts with slight smirks as they pretended to be civilians just planning a trip to Canada.
Trying to fit the extras into his bulging packs was interesting. Turnbull helped and soon the packs didnt seem so full. The Mountie seemed to know the secrets of infinite space.
His Motorcycle was bright and shiny. The time at the Consulate had put it into cherry condition. It was beautiful. His gratitude knew no bounds. With many thanks and a firm intention to send them thank you gifts from Denver, JD finally was on his way.
The road felt incredibly free. The bike was so smooth in its movement that JD spent much of the trip just wrapped in enjoyment of the journey. At his side, silent and protective, the Major let him have his wide-eyed amazement. It was good to see the boy acting his age.
They rambled down the open spaces that amazed JD. Having lived in a small corner of New York all his life, hed never imagined that there was anything like this out there. Hed known from his studies that the West was full of open spaces, but hed never dreamed that it was like this and he wasnt even over the Rocky Mountains yet.
JD stopped to see Arch in St. Louis. It pleased the Major to see the boy behaving just like a wowed tourist. There were so many dark things hanging over his head, a little innocent amusement was a worthy distraction. The Major would tolerate it, but he still kept a sharp eye out for trouble. He could feel the storm about to bear down on them but could not fix on the threat.
The threat came suddenly to life as the motorcycle was forced off of the road by a limousine. JD was thrown down an embankment. Only the Majors grasp of the boys hands had kept him from being thrown farther. The greater distance would have been fatal. It was a wonder to the ghost that hed been permitted to do this. Carefully he maneuvered JD up the bank.
The boy was covered in mud and scratches; one leg of his pants was torn and he was frustrated. It could have been far worse. If the Major hadnt been there or hadnt been able to catch hold of his charge, the boy would have been killed outright. Scanning to see if there was another threat to follow the first one, the Major was surprised to hear voices coming, voices that he knew.
JD hadnt noticed the Major as a person, but he was aware that something had saved him from being killed. He swore, fervently and creatively. His mom wouldnt have liked it, but sometimes swearing was the only way to get the emotion out. Hed learned that from Capt. Meredith himself.
Limping, JD followed the road. The bike had been totaled, and hed nearly been killed. There were some lights in the distance. Houses. Hed call for a tow and the police from one of them. Beside him the Major frowned. He didnt like the feelings he was picking up from the buildings in the distance. Not at all.
JD hurt, he was cold and his muscles ached from walking. Reaching the first house, a big rambling mansion that reminded him of the Toffler place, it had been all JD could do not to collapse. Hed been about to walk up to the front gate when he noticed the limo parked in the front drive.
Anger filled him. Why did they drive him off the road? Why destroy his bike? Turnbull and he had worked so very hard on it. He was about to storm down to the gates when he was grabbed and pulled into the bushes by two men.
One man was small and dark haired, the other was a taller redhead with a little goatee. His bright eyes sparkled as he smiled at JD.
Let go of me.
Easy little guy. We dont want to hurt you, the dark haired man said.
Whyd you grab me? JD knew that he sounded petulant but he was sore, tired and his bike was a wreck.
You were heading into the scorpions nest down there, the man replied, not at all discomfited at JDs attitude. Thats one door bell that you dont want to be ringing.
They drove me off of the road! JD snarled. They wrecked my bike.
You hurt? the dark haired man asked with concern. He was a small man, slightly taller than JD, but he had a control grip on the younger man that JDs old Academy Instructor would have envied.
No. JD snapped. The grip wasn
painful, but it was obvious that the man had no intention of letting him go down to confront the people whod nearly killed him.
Right, the man replied. Lets get you out of here to somewhere safer.
They wrecked my bike. I have to call the police.
The police would be more like likely to throw you in jail around here. They wrecked your bike, lets make sure that they didnt wreck you.
But but. JD began.
The cops around here are not exactly on the up and up.
Ray? the redhead asked softly. He pointed at the limo where a bulky man with black hair was assisting an elegant woman into the vehicle.
Damn, the dark haired man swore. The Bitch Queen herself. JD followed their gaze. The woman made an imperious gesture at her companion. Weve got to get out of here. Were too close to the road, Theyll spot us
The two men didnt give JD time to argue. He was hefted up and through the bushes to a hidden van. They were out of there, watched by the amused ghost of the Major who followed.
JD wasnt sure what to make of the two men. The dark haired man was Ray, the redhead Gabe. Ray was a cool man, quiet and precise, Gabe was quiet as well, but he was filled with an infectious charm. Gabe kept grinning at JD as he teased Ray as if sharing a secret joke.
They stopped along the road and the two men hoisted up the battered motorcycle. Seeing the wreck of the bike that had been so carefully and lovingly restored made JD furious all over again. Gabe patted his shoulder in an attempt to comfort him, but Ray was just as angry as JD was.
Ray pushed the bike into the van and handed JD his intact saddlebags. They had been secured so carefully that nothing had come undone. In his mind, JD thanked Turnbull whod made them so. None of the precious items had been lost. Ray looked at him for a moment and then told Gabe that they were going to see Doc Colton. Gabe had smiled in an amused fashion, but had waited for both men to buckle up before starting the van off to the Docs place.
JD watched both men with suspicion. They had enough spy gear to put the department to shame, but neither of them felt like Feds. Obviously theyd been watching the big house. Sparing a moment to wonder who the Bitch Queen was, JD prepared himself to move in any direction.
The Major watched his charge and had to keep from laughing. It seemed that young Mr. Dunne was finally reaching the conclusion that not everyone was to be immediately trusted. That was a laudable thing, but to start with these two of all people! He hid his laughter behind his hand even though he knew the boy couldnt hear him. However the action garnered the attention of both men. Ray glared at him but Gabe gave him a wide smile.
Doc Colton was a skinny man with a bright smile and a lousy personality. He seemed to regard the whole incident as a lark, laughing when JD wanted to call the police. At the end of the examination, JD dressed using fresh clothes from his saddlebags. What he had been wearing had been ruined. He opened the door a crack so that he could listen to what the others were up to. It was too soon to trust so openly, Dunne decided. Behind him the Major stood, not certain whether to laugh or cry. His charge was learning caution, but to choose to practice it on these two!
Weve got to wait until the next detail shows up to continue the surveillance. JD could hear Ray saying in the other room. Its too dangerous not to have a handle on what that woman is doing.
Weve got to take care of this, too, Ray. I called our contacts. Im not sure that the limo running the young man off the road was an accident. Theres a lot going on at that house. Shes up to something and its probably big. The other members of her little gang were there too. Rawlings especially. Thats not a good thing.
I know Gabe. I want the kid safe. Shes too frigging dangerous as it is. I dont want to know that shes killed someone else!
You cant stop her, Ray. You can only try to protect the innocent in her path, like young Mister Dunne in there. You know how vindictive and dangerous she is. She has too many powerful connections right now. We can whittle them down, but it takes time. They have to be caught cleanly.
I cant take this any more, Ray said, running a hand through his shaggy dark hair. In the light of the bright Doctors office, JD could see through the slightly open door that Ray was exhausted and worn out. Theres nothing I can do to stop that woman from doing anything at all. Nothing. You know what happened to the children. You know that people die wherever she turns up. I cant stop this one.
Ray, Gabe said gently laying a hand on the other mans shoulder. Ray, you are doing all that can be done
She sells Children, Gabe. She hands them over without even a blink into Hell itself. They dont stand a chance. Ray looked down at his hands, JD was startled to see that he was crying. Ive been trying to stop her for more than Twenty five years. I cant do it. I cant do it anymore.
Ray? Gabes voice showed his concern. The man was breaking down. Ray youve spent years fighting a veritable army of Evil. Shes just one cog in the machine
I cant even stop one Cog! Ray cried out.
The Machine is all powerful now, but it will be broken. You arent the only one pushing and pulling on it. You arent alone, Ray. The Lions son is out there, and the Kinsmen. You arent standing alone. There are others with you in this fight. You know that the Warnikes are with you, Chads up there taking over the surveillance right now. All that can be done at this moment in time is being done. Ray, you need to step away from this. You started this as a favor to me :
Look where that got you. A hot place in Chicago! Ray cried out in anguish. Gabe moved to grip him into a tight hug.
You have survived so much in this life, my dear friend. This will not overcome you. Yes, Evil has its day, but it will not be so forever. Dont despair, Please Ray, Dont. There will come a reckoning, a true reckoning for all the harm that has befallen, for all the lives lost. You must hold on to that.
Im having trouble, Gabe. Real trouble with that, Ray said, squaring his shoulders as if expecting to be hit. I cant take much more of this. I cant. Theres nothing that I can do to stop her. Ive called in dozens of Favors, tried every method I can think of, short of murder Gabe stopped him.
You arent the kind of man who can murder someone, Ray. Seeing Rays attempt to deny it, Gabe pushed on, You can kill, but only in war or defense. How many times have you been in a position to end a situation by just killing the target and you havent? You saw horrific things during the war, things you still carry like a bleeding wound on your soul. But youve never crossed that line, no matter the provocation. You have done your best to remain a moral ethical man, no matter the situation. Ive watched you stumble and beat your head against the walls around you for too long, Ray. I know you very well. You are not the monster that you believe yourself to be. If you were you would be helping that Malevolent malicious little witch instead of trying to stop her and those who created her.
Im not sure that I can do this any more, Gabe, Ray said defeatedly.
I know. Its time to walk away for a bit, to reassess the situation. Young Mr. Dunne is going to need some attention. He needs some time to heal, so do you. Lets take him to the safe house and figure out what happens from there. The others are fully capable of watching both her and her servants for a while. Although shes up to something that must be big, I think that it will be some time before it happens. Stand down your watch Ray, youve been relieved. The duty isnt yours alone, my friend. Not alone.
Ray didnt answer, and JD could tell that hed leaned into Gabe in complete exhaustion. JD had seen similar things happen at the precinct, Officers pushed too hard and too far just dwindling down like that. The man had been working hard at bringing down this Bitch Queen for a long time. Maybe he was wrong, this sounded like a long term Federal operation. If Ray were an undercover operative, it would explain all the equipment and the strange connection between the men. Gabe must be Rays handler, trying to keep him sane in the midst of whatever this was. Twenty-five years? This operation must be a big one. It had to be heavy duty for Ray to be this close to the edge. The man didnt strike JD as particularly weak or emotional for some reason. He had to be at the end of his rope.
Deciding not to make more trouble in an unstable situation, JD finished dressing and walked out the door. He was quiet when the smiling but unpleasant Doc Colton gave him his meds and the instructions to go with them. JD did not put up a fight when Gabe and Ray informed him that he was going to be taken to a safe house. Hed keep his eyes open and try to figure out what was going on. Maybe he could call Phillip and Charles, theyd know what was going on, surely.
A call to the Canadian Consulate in Chicago would straighten it out, but hed have to be careful. If this was a Federal operation, he didnt want to upset the apple cart, but he had a vested interest, after all the Bitch Queen had nearly killed him. No matter what, he really owed her for the bike.
The safe house was a grand modern thing, quite unlike the Toffler mansion, but equally expensive. JD wandered around the house, a little bemused that his keepers werent threatening him or seemingly even worried about him. Phillip and Charles had been frantic by this point at the Consulate.
The place belongs to a friend of mine. Hes out of town for a couple of weeks. Daughters getting married, Ray said, watching JD with a protective stance. Hes a good guy.
JD nodded without speaking. All along the walls were police memorabilia. He could see several awards for a Chief Nelson Riskin. Riskin seemed to be Rays friend, the owner of the house. There was a full library as well as a large T.V. A note lay on the kitchen table.
Ray, it read. I filled the fridge. Eat something will you? Im worried about you. The wedding is at Raspberry Plain, some big old house. Jenny gave me directions, but Im sure that Ill get lost trying to find it. If you NEED anything, call me 555-1205. Please Ray. No Favors involved. Even if you just want to talk, Ray. Call. Riskin
The Fridge was indeed full. Too much food, JD thought, even for two men to eat. The cupboards bulged as well. He opened and closed the cabinets trying to figure things out.
Would you like something to eat Mr Dunne? Gabe said, suddenly appearing behind him. The man moved like a cat, silently. JD was trying to calm himself down. He hadnt heard Gabe come in.
Call me JD, JD said. I assume that were going to be here a while.
Probably. Its hard for Ray to let people out of his protection.
Yes, you are. The moment you walked into sight, you became Rays concern. Just accept it, Gabe laughed.
Like you? JD challenged.
Not exactly. Ray is my concern, though he treats me as if I were as everyone else under his protection.
Youre from Chicago? JD asked.
JD! Its not polite to listen in on other peoples conversations, though I suppose, given the circumstances its understandable. If you heard that you were listening to it all, werent you? Gabe said, a worried expression wiping the usually genial expression off of his face.
I heard all of it. JD said, challengingly. He was going to get some answers.
Gabe began to count in French, then German, then a couple of languages that JD didnt recognize.
English, Mr. Gabe. JD said.
As you wish, Gabe said with a grimace. He looked across the kitchen to the Grey coated figure standing beside a pair of glass doors. The Major looked like he was going to laugh and Gabe had the sudden irrational idea to swat the kid. However he knew that JDs guardian would flatten him and hed have to explain to his own boss about it. She wouldnt be pleased. Ray was his responsibility, not JD Dunne. Interfering with anothers charge would cause all sorts of problems, and he had more than enough on his plate.
Gabe is my nickname, but it works well enough, Gabe started. JD folded his arms across his chest in a waiting, but demanding gesture. The redhead sighed, watching the Ghost in the corner almost doubled over with silent laughter. Some help, he huffed silently at the Guardian which seemed to make the Major laugh all the harder. It works for the job that I do, he replied to the question JD didnt ask.
So youre a Gabriel, a Guardian Angel JD said and missed Gabes choking reaction. A Handler for Ray. You watch out for him
In a manner of speaking Gabe replied cautiously. What was the boy getting at? By the doors, the Major stopped laughing to look at his charge.
So what are you doing? Which agency is it? If hes been under for twenty-five years it must be a pretty big operation that youre after. I assume that youve had me checked out like I was in Chicago.
Ive spoken with someone, Gabe said non-committally. He tried not to look at the Major who was watching to see how hed handle this one.
Then you know that I was headed to Denver. I dont have time to get mixed up in this operation, what ever it is. Now, Id like to smash the Bitch Queen one for wrecking my bike. Turnbull and I spent a lot of time on it, It was like New. Cherry. But I have to get to Denver. Ive got to get that position on Team Seven. Ive got to. So I dont have time to get mixed up in this one. I dont have much money and Ive got to find a way to Denver.
Denver? Gabe asked. Ah, Larabees team. He frowned for a moment and looked at the Major who nodded. Ill see what I can do about getting you a ride out there. However, Doc Colton, who in spite of the fact hes not the nicest of human beings, is an excellent doctor. He said that you need to rest for a couple of days. There is the possibility of serious injury in your case. Sometimes injuries turn up days to weeks later. He held up a hand to stop JDs protests. Im not going to hold you here for weeks, just a day or two to make sure that youre okay. Ray could use the break and hell stay here as long as you do. Im sure that you understand that a, Gabe paused and continued with a wicked grin Guardian Angels first priority is his own charge. Ray needs some time. If you give him a little of yours, Ill see that you get to Denver. Fair exchange?
Okay. JD said with a slight frown. Larabee wouldnt hold that job forever. He held out his hand. Okay. Favor for Favor, he said using a phrase his mother always used to use. Gabe flinched visibly.
Lets just call it a deal. Im not fond of Favors, Gabe said.
Gabe fixed an excellent dinner for the three of them. The food was plain, but somehow all the more appetizing for that. They had shared some limited stories about themselves, not willing to be too open too soon. JD went to bed soon after, worn out by the day and his injuries. He took the meds without question. Hed left his packs open in the living room after having shuffled through them making sure that everything was really there. Gabe and Ray had made no comment at the stuffed dolls and books. Theyd said nothing about his blankets or the strange collection of food that he had in the one bag. Gabe had picked up a can of cranberry sauce with a raised eyebrow, but had made no comment.
Once the boy was asleep, Ray turned on Riskins computer and began looking up files. He checked in with Chad and the surveillance on the woman. Gabe gathered the rest of the dishes up and put the food away. Hed waived JD off when the kid had offered to help. Counting to twenty in Hebrew calmed his mind as he waited for Ray to come out of his current funk.
I should have helped you with those, Ray said, quietly. He was standing in the doorway of the kitchen with an uncertain expression on his face.
Its okay, Ray. Im fine. Its been a long trying day. Perhaps you should get some rest?
Anyone ever tell you that youre bossy? Ray said with a short laugh. I thought Angels were all love and peace.
Some are. You however would have driven one of those around the twist very quickly. Or he or she would have done it to you. We were at least acquaintances when I was assigned to you.
I wish they hadnt. Maybe youd still be alive. Youd still be torturing students into learning languages that have been dead for thousands of years. Youd be...
There isnt any where else that I would wish to be. Teaching was a good thing, a blessing, but being here with you is more important, Gabe said. Ray turned on his heel and stormed off, knocking a stack of books from JDs bags over.
Your charge has some serious problems, the Major said
Tell me about it. Ray hates himself like no one Ive ever encountered, either in life or in death. Hes shoved everyone who could have loved him out of his life out of fear or been driven away from the ones he loved. I was asked if Id be willing to stay with him, always. A man who does so much for others and yet wont let them into his life, wont share his life is a tragedy beyond measure.
I will try to prevent our becoming a problem for you, the Major said.
You arent. In fact, this might be good for Ray, Gabe paused. JD is going to Denver. To the Seven. It was more question than statement.
Yes, it is to be, the Major answered firmly. Gabe nodded and said no more.