HOW DO YOU SAY GOODBYE?
Set at the beginning of Burning Down The House.
Ray is allowed to make a telephone call.
An established relationship story.
Written: December 2004. Word count: 700.
Author's Note: The change of POV back and forth in the same scene is deliberate and necessary.
"I've got to call him, sir."
"Please, Lieu." Ray knew that he was begging, but he could not help it. After all even hardened criminals got to make one telephone call.
Lieutenant Welsh regarded the man who had worked for him for seven years, who was now about to take the biggest risk of his career – probably the biggest risk Welsh had seen a cop take. Raymond Vecchio was a brave man, a very brave man, and Welsh did not want to see him go. He was fond of the fiery Italian American cop. For all his bluster, snide comments, and occasional not-going-by-the-book antics, Vecchio was a fine cop; one who had become finer over the last three years and almost five months.
Ray stared back at his boss, pleading with him to understand, to grant him this one request. Not that he was entirely sure of what to say even if Welsh did give him the chance. After all how do you call your best friend, your partner, your lover, the person whom you promised, on more than one occasion, never to leave – unlike everyone else in his life? How did you say goodbye, knowing that you can't even say goodbye? Even if Welsh broke the rules, Ray couldn't tell Benny the truth.
But Ray had to hear that beautiful voice one more time. It might be the last time he ever heard it. He knew his chances of coming out of this assignment alive were less than fifty-fifty, even with someone acting as him here in Chicago.
"Please," he said.
Something in that final word and defeated look broke Welsh. To hell with the Feds, he would allow it.
"Okay, Vecchio," he said. "One call. But you know you can't actually tell him anything."
"I know, Lieu, I know. But I promised I'd be there to pick him up. I have to tell him that I can't be." He snatched up his phone and began to dial the number Benny had given him just in case Ray had needed to contact his Canadian lover.
Welsh watched for a moment, "You're going to call all the way to Canada to tell Fraser that you can't pick him up?"
"What else can I tell him?" Ray's voice broke. Damn it, he never should have accept the fucking assignment. But he was needed. Benny would understand that, wouldn't he? That is if anyone bothered to tell Benny the truth.
As he waited for the call to be transferred – apparently Constable Fraser was not where he said he would be. It appeared that Constable Fraser had run into a bit of trouble. It appeared that Constable Fraser was tracking a criminal.
Why am I not surprised? Oh, Benny, Benny, my love. Only you could go on vacation and end up working. Why didn't you stay here with me? Why didn't I insist on coming with you? What am I going to say to you?
Suddenly he had to be sure that someone would tell Benny the truth. "Lieu," he called.
Welsh turned from where he was filing some paper, and glanced at Ray. He was shocked to see the strain on the handsome features. Why had Vecchio said yes? He, Welsh, would never know. "Yes, Detective," he said, keeping his voice level.
Ray swallowed, "You will . . ." he broke off, as the man at the end of phone prepared to transfer him yet again. "Yeah, yeah, I'll wait . . . Chicago. Yeah . . . Yeah." He turned his attention back to his boss. "You will tell him the truth, won't you? When he gets here I mean. You won't let him really think . . ?" he trailed off again. "Chicago," he repeated into the receiver. "Yes, in the United States of America." Geeze, but he wondered about the Canadians sometimes.
He turned again to his boss. "I mean . . ." Again he couldn't continue.
"Yes, Detective Vecchio, I'll make sure that Constable Fraser knows the truth. I promise."
"Thank you, sir."
Then, "Benny?" Ray's voice changed, and Welsh moved to the door of his office, not wanting to intrude on what he knew was a very private moment.
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