One Single TryFandom:
Due South; Arch to the SkyCharacters:
Frannie/Dewey, Elaine, Vecchio, Mort, Welsh, Turnbull, Thatcher, Huey Rating:
After the Shades arc. This story absorbs Never Where
and was written in part by sl_walker
. Title with gratitude to Frank Sinatra. Summary:
There's only so long someone can hide a pregnancy."You've gotta do it, Frannie. I know you're stuck in some kinda denial, but while you're trying to figure out how the Hell this happened, that baby doesn't care how, he's growing, ready or not--"
Frannie's eyes were squeezed shut and she felt stupidly exposed, even if she was the only person who could hear Elaine down the phone. She knew that. How could she not know that? It was her body that had a no vacancy sign up. She tapped the pencil manically on her desk, honest to God trying not to snap a friend's head off.
"--I'll go. I'm gonna go, okay? Will you stop?""You said that the last two times I called."
Slamming open her appointment book, she shoved her finger down on the line where her appointment was written in. "One week from now. Prenatal exam. Okay? You happy, Ma
?""I'm never happy."
"God, you sound like Kowalski.""He's never happy for
other reasons. I want to see sonograms, Frannie. Find out the sex so I can start buying clothes, I don't wanna have to buy a bunch of green and orange stuff, it's so limiting-- Frannie?"
Across the room, a coffee cup had hit the floor and rolled away. Frannie's breath had caught. The realization that her voice hadn't exactly been modulated for secrecy and that two
sets of eyes fell to her came with a hard slap of shame and a spike of adrenaline.
Her hands started to shake."Earth to Francesca... Did you die?"
Ray was staring at her.
Until he saw Tom staring at her.
Oh-- oh God.
Whatever Elaine was saying was lost to the clatter of the receiver on her desk. She stood up slowly. Trembling. Tom had blanched. All the blood Tom didn't have in his face seemed to be routed to Ray's.
Frannie knew her brother, and her brother was smart enough to know that look.
Ray dived for Tom who bolted for the hallway and nobody went for Frannie when she ran for the door.
Vecchio didn't need to talk to be scary as Hell, and it was pretty surprising that a gay guy full of old bullet holes ran like a fucking gazelle when he was pissed off.
At least the huffing gave Dewey a fair idea how well Vecchio was keeping up, anyway. Figuring out how long he had before he tired the guy out or got his ass kicked was better than contemplating what he heard Frannie say
Nothing felt real but the chase. He ducked down another hall, plowing through a couple of people, knocking a bunch of papers out of a uniform's hands and skidding around the corner on shoes that really should be better suited for this kinda thing. Maybe it was because his heart was in 'em.
Dewey was rapidly running out of space to run, and even he knew it was a stupid move when he dived into an interview room and slammed the door, shoving himself back against it.
The thump came milliseconds later, and Hell, that had to hurt a guy who didn't
have bullet scars but he didn't hear any sound besides a furious pounding of fists.
"Lemme in, Dewey. The longer you stall, the worse it's gonna be!"
"Let's talk, Vecchio!"
The muffled response was viciously laughed. "Yeah, there's a coupla door jambs wanna have a talk with your head! Open up, Dewey, or I swear to God I'll shoot my way--" Vecchio cut off his own sentence, slamming himself against the door with force enough to shake Dewey's confidence that he could hold it. "--in. You can't hide in there forever."
"Not happenin'. Talk or I barricade this door. Only so long you can beat up the place before Welsh gets wind!"
Dewey was pretty shocked when the pounding actually stopped; he tensed himself back against that door, distrusting, damn sure not going to let his guard down.
"You slept with my sister
"It's not what you think."
"She's not talking to somebody about prenatal exams with you staring at her like the cookie jar just bit your hand off?"
"I didn't know
! It's not-- It's-- I--" This time Dewey was the one to punch the door behind him, teeth gritted to something he didn't want to name spiking hard through his heart.
Vecchio's voice dropped to something chillingly level, even muffled under the door.
"You slept with my sister, Dewey. Now she's pregnant. But hey," Vecchio said easily, like it was a friendly chat. Something about the tone sent more goosebumps down Dewey's spine than any of the pounding. "I know when a guy's right; I'm gonna have Welsh on me in a few seconds. So consider this your head start. Just remember: the farther you run, the worse it's gonna hurt. Have a good shift, Dewey."
The pressure on the door eased. There was silence save Dewey's panting.
He didn't trust it.
Jesus Christ, Frannie was pregnant. He didn't bother questioning whether it was his, he was a few kinds of asshole but that wasn't one of them. It was his kid. She hadn't told him, didn't plan to, just tried like Hell to nail Turnbull and now Dewey got why and thinking about it made him want to turn himself over to Vecchio for his murder.
He pressed his lips together, shut his eyes, and let his head thunk back against the door.
There was no need to ask her why. He already knew.
All was quiet outside the door, and he would later reflect that one kind of asshole he was
was a stupid one.
When he leaned off the door it burst open and he was dragged away by his own collar.
For each time he passed, Ray Vecchio remained leaned nonchalantly against a drawer in Mort's morgue, taking small bites of a sandwich that was not rapidly disappearing.
Each time Mort passed, he chose not to bother the man. Who was he to critique a man's choice of lunchtime locale? Not Mort. He often ate there. The morgue was quiet and comfortable. It was somewhat unusual for another person to share his opinion of that, but he wasn't a man to judge.
Curiosity grew, but it wasn't until he heard a distinct thunk
from behind the man that Mort stopped, backtracking to look at him.
Ray saluted with his sandwich. "Mort."
Mort glanced in idle interest at the sandwich and back to Ray. A slow grin appeared on Ray's face as he chewed.
"Always a pleasure to see you, of course."
"Likewise." Another small bite, slowly chewed. Another rhythmic thunk sounded from the drawer behind him.
Mort removed his glasses, draping them around his neck. "Can I help you, Detective?"
"Nope. I'm good."
Looking to the closed drawer from which the sound came, Mort put up an eyebrow.
Ray's smile grew wider.
Mort's other eyebrow joined the fray.
"What? You hungry?" Ray offered out his sandwich. "Want some?"
Ray shrugged and took another bite, chewing over slowly.
Three rapid whacks sounded behind the drawer door.
"Is there something I should know, Detective Vecchio?"
"Probably. Wouldn't know what, though. Never lick a frozen pole?"
Mort gave him a flat look.
"Never trick or treat at the old folks' home dressed as the grim reaper?"
He stared. Two more weak thuds sounded behind the Detective.
"Oh, I know! Never say the word 'Eskimo' in front of Benny unless you feel like having an encyclopedia forcibly shoved in your ear."
Ray dropped the faux-innocent expression, it seemed, in favor of leaning forward and pointing with his sandwich. "Never impregnate a man's sister if you can't run faster'n him."
Ah. Mort slowly replaced his glasses as he nodded, pointing. "You understand that I was never here, yes?"
Ray's was a shark of a smile, and Mort counted himself lucky in that moment that he was far too old to have felt interest in Francesca Vecchio. "Never where?"
"Have a pleasant lunch, Detective."
Mort was granted another sandwich salute, and he wandered off with a quiet chuckle to himself.
Rumor spread quick.
Ray and Tom weren't the only two to catch what she said, and after the fourth unanswered ring of her cell phone Frannie disassembled the damn thing and threw the battery in the back seat.
She didn't know where she was driving. Didn't bother honking back at anybody who objected to how she drove, barely bothered to pay attention to the lights. Didn't think, didn't give a damn, she just went, and when she got there she didn't know why.
There was a streak of red on the stoop when she walked up to it. If the bastard felt any surprise at her presence, Turnbull didn't show it on his face. Just stood there like a good tin soldier.
Frannie wiped her face, sank to the Consulate steps, and took off her shoes. One of them tumbled down a couple of steps.
Nobody would look for her here.
When Ray felt his collar yanked, he snapped on the most innocent smile he could muster.
The morgue drawer was quiet, but Ray knew he was caught.
"--fine day for a lunch in the morgue, wouldn't you say, sir?" He eyed Welsh from over his shoulder and spoke with just a little bit of crimp from the collar currently digging into his neck.
"Imagine this, Vecchio. I get a case across my desk. Low profile, no big deal, it's a roulette which of my detectives I toss it to. So I stick my head out my door, just like every other day. 'Vecchio!' I call out, expecting to hear the dutiful reply of a loyal officer in my employ. There is no answer. Huh, I think. Maybe he's using the can. So, 'Dewey!' I call, and much to my dismay, I receive no answer. All right, so two of my detectives have gastro-intestinal issues at the same time. Maybe you shared a bad pot of coffee. So I move down the list. Huey. Nada. Thompson. Nope. 'Miss Vecchio!' I shout, thinking surely that the queen of precinct gossip would know whether a case of the atomic runs had spread through my officers leaving my case to sit lonely upon my desk. What do you think I heard to that, Detective Vecchio?"
"You might think that, wouldn't you? No. No, you see, you're not that lucky. I hear two uniforms walk by. Gossiping."
"Terrible habit, sir, I can run some copies of Canadian Manners for Ugly Americans and circulate that ASAP--"
Three rapid thunks issued from the drawer.
Welsh slowly raised his eyebrows.
"It seems, rumor has it, that my detectives were seen playing a game of tag like a couple of boy scouts in my precinct. Seems they were headed this way." He flicked a look at the drawer and give a little yank to the collar he held. "Starting to think the game of tag turned into hide and seek. What do you think I want from you at this moment, Vecchio?"
There was another hard kick. Ray held up the last bit of his sandwich. "...wanna bite?"
Francesca Vecchio was on his stoop.
Renfield didn't know why his boyfriend's sister was in tears. He was angry enough with how she and her family had treated Ray to wonder why perhaps he felt no satisfaction at her unhappiness. He itched to fix whatever it was, even if he also itched to look her in the eye and ask her how it was she could throw her brother away.
Sentry duty ensured he could not give to his instinct to comfort her; he would have defied that order, in all honesty. But he was beginning to suspect, as she sat there, that the constraint was precisely what she wanted.
He couldn't understand much of what she was saying; Francesca seemed to be attempting to be as vague as possible.
"...there wasn't anything wrong
with what I wanted, but they act like I did something awful, and so okay, maybe I've gotta go to a confessional more often but when Ray
started comin' home late they acted like he left the cap off the toothpaste or something. When I go out looking for something all of a sudden it's the-- the-- the red A or whatever. I couldn't keep my stupid mouth shut, but why the Hell should I have to?"
Renfield didn't think what happened to Ray as a result of... him was anything like being treated like leaving the cap off the toothpaste. If it was, he had to wonder what happened to a poor male inhabitant of the Vecchio household for leaving the toilet set up.
Her words tapered back to sobs for a little while, and Renfield took care to release his sigh so slowly as to go unnoticed.
The heat wave had abated, but it could still be unseasonably warm in Chicago of late; this, he was used to, but as Francesca removed the light coat she was wearing, he had to wonder why she hadn't before.
Something was off.
"Turnbull, did you actually tell Miss Simpson to--" Thatcher stood partway out the door, her sentence pulled abruptly to the realization of the presence below them. "...Miss Vecchio?"
"Great, join the party." Francesca wiped tears and makeup away with both hands, looking off, looking rueful. Renfield was still trying to figure out what he'd pinged on, but perhaps Thatcher would be some manner of relief.
"Are you--?" It was her uncomfortable tone, the sort that suggested that what she was looking upon was more alien than it must truly have been to her. "Are you... all right?"
"Fine. Just fine
From his periphery he could see Thatcher glance critically at him - he felt damned either way, for he would no doubt have been reprimanded for breaking stance - before he took a step forward.
"Oh, no. No." Francesca stood up, turning and nearly stumbling on the steps before stepping onto the walk, pointing at Turnbull with a look that made him think he was perhaps more damned to do than not. "You keep away from me, you-- you--"
Thatcher's eyebrow was surprisingly eloquent. "Miss Vecchio."
"What?" Francesca made a face, twisted in heartache and anger. "You know, don't you? Huh?"
"About his relationship with Detective Vecchio? Yes." Thatcher frowned, though mostly it was a furrow between her eyebrows. "Would you like me to call a taxi, perhaps?"
"Don't bother." Francesca sighed, a shuddering sound, then picked up her shoes.
Finally -- Oh, Lord
-- it clicked and Renfield felt his eyes widen before he even realized that they had. He wasn't sure, exactly, how he knew
, but suddenly, he wanted to go back inside and call the 2-7 and check on Ray
. And perhaps confirm his suspicion. It couldn't... well, it could
, but... wait, really?!
Thatcher noticed the look and eyed him, then gave the barest nod. As he disappeared into the Consulate, post haste, he heard the Inspector try again to see if she could help.
"I could get you some water...?"
"You heard me."
Thatcher seemed to linger at the door, and though Renfield could not see her face, he thought perhaps he could guess what was happening.
The door clicked shut after a moment, Francesca presumably gone, and though Renfield didn't question her with his look, Thatcher looked at him with quiet walls up.
"She was... distressed," Thatcher said primly, half-commanding, half... almost apologetic for letting the snap go.
Renfield only nodded.
Ray stood in Welsh's office and waited. Dewey stood outside the door. He was okay. Bruised up some -- hey, those drawers weren't meant to hold the living
-- but not half as bad as he shoulda been, considering. Ray wasn't sure why he'd held back, 'cause that simple-minded asshole
impregnated his sister
, but maybe it was living with a Canadian that made him less inclined to kicking the shit out of Dewey now and asking questions later.
Though, the full implications of it all made him wanna chew Frannie's ears off, too.
. She had to have known, when she turned up the heat on Ren. She was trying to get Ren to be the fall-guy for this little development.
Ray didn't really know how he felt. Pissed. Uneasy. Concerned as Hell. Scared. Confused. Sad. And... okay, it was weird, but... but happy, too, kinda. His sister. His sister had a little, tiny life growing in her belly, and Ray might wanna kick the shit out of the man who helped make it, but...
But in a split second, that fast, the minute he realized she was pregnant, he loved that little life. He just did. It was a fact. Just like he'd loved Maria's, even though Tony was a bit of a screwup, the minute he heard. And all at the same time, he wanted to bawl Frannie out and he wanted to kick Dewey's ass, and he wanted to wrap Frannie into his arms and hold her and never, ever let her go, and when the baby came, he wanted to hold the baby and never, ever let go too.
Ray huffed a soft breath out, his guts jumping with the exhale.
He was getting Ren all over again about now.
Welsh must be letting him stew. Just him and the turtle. Nobody knew where Frannie had bolted to, Ray thought he caught wind of Elaine calling around to try and track her down, and God only knew what this had snowballed into on the gossip network. The last explosion might as well have had Ray taking Ren on his desk and then marrying him in a holding cell in full white frills and Benny's old wig.
Huh. He'd have to get hold of a wedding dress. Shoving Dewey out into the street in that get-up went on his list and got filed away for later.
God, now the man was family.
Welsh's door came open, and it looked like everyone had a collar for a handle today. Welsh deposited Dewey right beside Ray, gave Ray a Look, and sat down at his desk.
A few moments passed as Welsh made himself comfortable. Folding his hands at his belly. Shifting in the seat. Leaning it back just so.
The man sighed.
"You slept with Vecchio's sister," Welsh tossed out like a bad grade. "You shoved a guy with moderate claustrophobia into a morgue locker."
Both of 'em opened their mouths at the same time to say something. A hand up shut both mouths.
"Speak when spoken to, gentlemen. You," he said, pointing at Dewey. "What the Hell is wrong with you? You ever hear of condoms?"
"Shut up. You," pointing at Ray this time, apparently not abiding by what he'd said two seconds before. "Your sister's a grown woman. Back the Hell off."
Ray felt hard defiance flare - how he knew
Welsh would feel if it was his own sister, how Dewey woulda been strung from the flagpole by his boxers, damn hypocrite - but he canned it. He knew what he'd get. He gritted his teeth and tipped his chin up. Silent defiance. Welsh knew it, too.
"This ends now. Off-duty, do what you want to each other, but in these walls, you're even. Got it?"
Dewey was having a kid.
Okay, so yeah, he'd thought about family in his life. His heart didn't jump when he saw a stroller or anything, but he used to figure he'd have a family one day. One day kept getting put off. And off. And after a little while one day
became indefinite and unlikely and probably for the better.
What was he gonna give a baby? A dad who was a bit of a fuckup? Dewey was that. But not even a big enough one to be remarkable. He wasn't smart, wasn't charming, wasn't rich, and sunk a bunch of money into a club where he told groaners and paid his partner to whack a drum every few minutes.
He loved his kid.
God, he was sitting at his desk, not reading any of the shit he was looking at. Vecchio was boring holes in the side of his head, both of 'em knowing it was a race to the end of shift. Every time he looked over he got a sick little smile that he knew was probably his ass if he didn't run fast enough. All that, and then he loved his kid
He was a fuckup about to get his ass kicked and one day
because he was having a kid.
All of it hurt. Frannie knew what a fuckup he was; hey, even Dewey would admit that even gay, Turnbull woulda made a better father by far, but Hell. She could've given him a chance
. Told him he was going to be a father. Something. Anything.
Everyone was checking their watches. The precinct knew a show was coming. Dewey would've been waiting for it, too. He shoved his papers in his desk and stood up, eyes on Vecchio, because there wasn't any point in pretending this wasn't going to go bad.
He really wished Jack hadn't gone out.
"Got somewhere to be, Dewey?" Vecchio asked like an old friend.
He huffed a weary laugh. "Few places."
"I can arrange that." Vecchio swung his feet off his desk and stood up.
It was early, but somehow he didn't really care about catching crap about it. He swung around his desk to saunter off toward the bathroom, those eyes on him. Made a good show of it, too. Then he cut it and ran for the door, bolting to a raucous shout of 'Dead man running!' from somewhere and he knew Vecchio was probably rolling his eyes at the pathetic feint but fuck it.
He made it clear through the hallway and out the door before stumbling at the threshold and finding himself held by the front and slammed to the wall outside. The bitch of it was? Dewey could've shoved Vecchio off. Punched him, fought him. Maybe not won the fight, but held his own.
He didn't want to.
"Shut up. Here's how it's gonna be so I don't have to figure out where to hide the body: you're payin' for this kid, you're going to be the best damn father in the greater Chicago area, you are going to take care of my sister." On the last one, he pounded Dewey back against the wall, jamming ache down his shoulders and back.
"--God, okay, okay--"
Vecchio shook him once to shut him up, and his voice dropped to something quiet. Menacing. "You show the first sign of being a deadbeat, Dewey, and I'll take you out somewhere quiet and take the difference in flesh. You abandon my sister, you abandon that kid, you hurt either of 'em, I'll take you out someplace quiet and it'll be the last place you ever see. You got me?"
Dewey didn't get a chance to answer. Jack Huey had Ray by the shoulders, pulling him off Dewey, shoving him away just enough to get between.
"Back off, Vecchio!"
"You got me, Dewey?" Vecchio ignored him, shoving himself up against Huey to make the threat over his shoulder. "You hear me? You take care of her!"
"I love her." It was cracked. Dewey couldn't believe he said it outloud.
Silence hung for a long moment.
"Don't you bullshit me, Dewey--"
"I love her. No-- no bullshit."
Vecchio look a step back. Staring at him like he didn't know whether to be disgusted with a lie or shocked stupid for a truth.
sound disgusted. Angry. Horrified. Dewey didn't know how long she'd been there, why
she was there but she was, and the tone tore through the adrenaline.
She shut him up with a look. Big brown eyes, a headshake, a sound like she was drowning somewhere in there. She looked at Vecchio. Hell, even looked at Huey. And then whatever she came for just went abandoned when she turned around and walked back to her car.
Vecchio followed her. She threw his hand off her shoulder and walked faster. "I'm not talkin' to you."
"Francesca--" Vecchio turned back, throwing a "I'm not even close to done with you," at Dewey before they walked away arguing. He didn't have the heart to follow. It was on the floor.
Later, he sat Huey's car, tie tossed on the passenger side dash as they both stared off past the windshield.
"Frannie, God. Pick up. Please? You've gotta be there. Come on, is your answering machine working? Frannie?
"Okay. So I guess I gotta do it this way. Look... this is a big mess. I don't... I don't know... yeah, I know why you did it. I wasn't lying to your brother. I... you know, I love you, okay? And I love that kid-- the baby. Maybe I shoulda told you, and I didn't mean to tell you like that, but I can't do anything about that. And I'm not gonna pretend I'm not... not... Geez, you know, Turnbull? You couldn't even give me a chance
? Were you ever-- ever... Do I come off that bad?
"Just-- just-- forget it. It doesn't matter. I don't know what you want me to do now, but please, just... pick up. Or call me. Or something. Maybe... maybe we can try again. This is all messed up. So we start over? I can... I dunno, I can take you on a real date somewhere, and we can... I can pay. You know, for the doctor visit, the exam. Let me pay? Or something? I'm good for it--"
There was a click down the line.
Dewey held his breath.