Out of the alley and onto the street, head and heart pounding, running desperately to be anywhere but there. Volpe was dead, that much was clear, but- what exactly had happened? One second Ray was leaning over the guy, looking for any sign of life, the next it felt like his head had caved in and there was a uniform in front of him, gun shakily aimed at his chest. She clearly thought he had shot the guy, though that patently wasn't true. Or, at least, he didn't think so.
Ray abruptly realised that he was in a familiar neighbourhood, a familiar street, and knew where his best bet at some understanding help lay. He didn't stop running when the familiar iron railings came in sight, didn't break his stride as he wheeled through the gates, then couldn't slow down in time as he reached the top of the steps. On the point of collapse, he fell through the Canadian Consulate's double doors, still managing to yell even as he dropped to his knees then his hands.
Pain and panic practically blinded him. Almost on the floor, he lifted his head just enough to see the fuzzy figures of visitors frozen around the desk, Turnbull standing statue-like behind the reception desk, expression in shock. All were staring at the dishevelled detective like he was some kind of alien. Then, much to his disgust, he passed out.
Having seen Inspector Thatcher off, Fraser had gone directly to his office, marvelling at the comparative quiet of the Consulate and preparing to plan out the paperwork that had to be done that day. Nobody yelling for him, not terse demands, and with Ray's message likely no phone calls. This meant that he jumped a foot in the air when banging doors broke the silence, then tensed at what followed: the pained and desperate call of his name by a familiar voice. Abandoning the task, he tore downstairs with no regard for safety and took in the scene in the hallway at a single glance. Three visitors stood in a string in front of the desk, Turnbull was on his feet and tense, and all of them were staring at something which made the bottom of his stomach drop out- a familiar beige coat and blond head were crumpled on the floor, backlit dramatically by the busted doors.
Fraser jumped half of the last flight, pushing his way through the crowd without so much as an 'excuse me'. Dropping to his knees beside his partner, it was quickly obvious what was wrong- a bolt of blood oozed from a deep gash on his forehead, and this accounted for his unconsciousness. Luckily, that seemed to be the worst of it. Stunned into silence at the suddenness of the situation, it took Fraser a moment to form a plan, eventually addressing his second in command.
"Constable Turnbull, if you would be so kind as to close the doors. Excuse me, ladies and gentlemen." In one swift move, he had gathered Ray in his arms bridal-style, and strode towards the privacy of Inspector Thatcher's office.
The detective was relatively quick to wake at the movement, but didn't seem completely aware until he was propped up in one of the visitor chairs, watching as Fraser rifled through drawers and cabinets, piling supplies on the desk. There were several questions that Ray wanted to ask, and several things he knew he had to explain, but for that moment, he settled on a pained groan.
Fraser looked at him suddenly, assessing, and Ray felt see-through under his gaze. The Mountie crouched by the chair, gently turning his head towards the harsh light of the windows.
"How do you feel?" was the opening question, voice filled with repressed worry.
"Ow." He allowed his friend to shine a pen light in his eyes, trying not to slam them shut. "It hurts."
"As I thought." The light was gone, replaced by a distanced hand. "How many fingers am I holding up?"
"Three, blurry as usual. And before you ask, I'm Ray Kow- well, Vecchio, and I work for the Chicago Police Department. You're Constable Benton Fraser." A sly smile crossed Ray's face, which his partner missed. "You first came to Chicago on the trail of the killers of-"
"Thank you, Ray, that's enough." Relieved that the injury didn't seem overly serious, Fraser accepted the basin and towels proffered by Turnbull, and began to clean the wound. "What happened, Ray?"
"It's confusing, I can't remember details." He winced as the towel brushed the injury. "Could you be a little more careful?"
"Sorry." Fraser rubbed gently at where some blood had dried in his eyebrow. "You said in your call that something came up and you had to 'meet a guy'."
"How do you remember stuff like that vet…verbal…"
The Mountie shrugged, leaning in to check that he hadn't missed anything. "Practice." He turned back to the desk. "What came up? Which 'guy' did you meet?"
"Volpe, Andreas Volpe." Ray sighed, remembering. "Guy's a psycho, he's been runnin' his own little operation on the south side for a year or so." Fraser turned back, dabbing a swab slightly ominously in some white cream. "Drugs, guns, prostitution, your basic American dream."
When the swab touched his forehead, the omen was fulfilled. "Ow!" He flinched away, but returned as Fraser apologised.
"What is that?" He asked, feeling he wouldn't like the answer, but needing something to take away from the searing pain it was causing him.
"It'll prevent infection." Fraser said vaguely, continuing to apply it in light movements. "You were discussing Mr Volpe?"
Ray looked towards the windows, bringing his stomach under control. "Smells." Fraser said nothing. "Uh, word is he's getting ambitious lately, so, naturally I'm anxious for a face to face, I get there and it's a set-up."
"You think somebody hit you." It was a statement more than a question, and Ray's slightly sarcastic head movement replied ahead of him.
"Stuff smells- I don't remember. Um, I wake up, Volpe's dead, and I got this uniform b-blasting away like Yosemite Sam, bang bang bang I take off-"
"And you have no idea what happened to Mr Volpe?"
"This stuff really stinks. Uh, somebody shot 'im. Coulda been anybody." He didn't want to confront this, but he had to say it. "Coulda been me."
This made Fraser pause, a gauze pad half out of the packaging. Ray felt it applied to his wound and forced himself not to flinch as Fraser replied noncommittally. "I see."
"What is this?" Ray pressed, suddenly wanting to talk about anything but the alleyway.
"It's a concoction I made from the mucus membrane of a pregnant-" Fraser stopped himself, quickly peeling the pad away. "-it's not important." And Ray had so thought that he'd distracted Fraser from his spur-of-the-moment confession. "What is important, if I may recap," he began, Mountie Mode reinstated, "is that you were lured to a meeting with a gangland figure." He as staring at the painting of the Canadian flag as Ray bought his head forward experimentally. "At this meeting, the gangland figure was murdered, an event of which you have no memory. A uniformed officer arrived, you resisted arrest…and you then fled the scene of the homicide, do you agree these are the facts of the scenario?"
"Did I just say that or do I have a head injury?" Ray replied snarkily.
"Well Ray, I'm afraid that I have no option." Fraser bent behind the desk, coming back up with a pair of handcuffs. "By the powers that are vested in me by the Government of Canada, I am placing you under arrest." Well, this was a new one. "You have the right to remain silent, anything you say can be used in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed to you without charge." He held his secured hands out in front of him, confused but somehow not surprised. "Do you understand these rights."
"Yeah, sure, but what I don't understand is the cuffs." Ray gave Fraser a puzzled glare. "What do you think I am, a, uh, violent felon, or something?"
"Well, that is how it could appear, Ray," Fraser replied, then rubbed his eyebrow as he added "I also have not had the jurisdiction to arrest anyone for quite some time, and wanted to do it…right."
"But you didn't do it right." Ray pointed out flatly. "This is homicide, my hands should be behind my back. That and you've used the wrong rights- caution- whatever."
Fraser grimaced slightly, hurrying to remove the cuffs and return them to the desk.
"Well, if necessary, this will make it easier to refute the charge on technicalities." he pointed out, trying to justify the move.
"Right, right." Ray thought of another point. "Also, shouldn't I have a band aid or something on this?"
"It'll heal better if it's open to the air." There was a short pause, as though Fraser was lost for words. "If I might ask, Ray, why did you come here?"
"Panic, I uh…well, running from that uniform, y'know, I didn't really…I don't know." The gaze was held for a long second. "I guess I thought, well, you might…understand."
"Understand what, Ray."
"That I didn't do it, I- at least I don't think I did."
There was a moment of silence before Fraser held out a hand and pulled his friend to his feet. "Let's see what the news has to say about this." The Mountie led the way to the next room, where the television was stored, determined to get to the bottom of the matter and clear Ray's record.