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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 didn’t 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 couldn’t figure out why he’d chosen men with such unusual backgrounds but he figured that Larabee had a reason for it. The man’s 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 he’d 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 they’d been getting deliveries from McGinty’s. The sandwiches were definitely better than the ones the local shop was handing out. They wouldn’t let him pay either. All they’d say was that it was fair recompense for his work on the Consulate. Gary Hobson, McGinty’s eccentric owner, even gave him the stack of Dime Novels that he’d been reading at the bar. They had to be worth money, but he’d 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 hadn’t a clue, but the thing was purring like a kitten.

Although he hated it, it would soon be time to leave Chicago behind. It hadn’t been his intent to make friends here, but he would regret leaving town. The people he’d met on his journey had been so kind to him. They wouldn’t let him pay them back, so maybe he’d better pay it forward. The only thing that he could think of to do was to show people he met the same kindness he’d 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 Aoki’s posture relaxed into normalcy.

“Thanks,” the man said as he straightened his uniform.

“Are they always that bad?” JD asked. He’d seen some pretty strange things while staying at the Consulate.

“Sometimes they’re 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. I’m 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 they’d 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 can’t get the others to eat if he isn’t there,” Franklyn said in exasperation. He began talking into the phone in another language. JD guessed it was one of the native dialects, it didn’t sound like French and Franklyn couldn’t speak Chinese. The Consulate was multi-lingual that was for certain. With a bit of humor, JD approached the door to the Liaison’s office. Knowing Allingham as he now did, JD was very sure that the man was working on his model ship collection.

Oh well, it couldn’t 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. Jenning’s goat.

Allingham gruffly responded to JD’s 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 Turnbull’s nightly guard of the boarder, all of them were intelligent men. The look on Renfield’s 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 man’s face.

“For pity’s sake Turnbull! What’s wrong?”

“They’ve killed him,” Turnbull gasped out. He looked ready to collapse at any moment.

“Killed who?” Allingham took charge. “Steady on. Who’s been killed?”

It took Turnbull a moment to try to speak, but he couldn’t. Franklyn grabbed hold of him and with JD’s 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 didn’t hesitate, he grabbed the paper and read it.

“It’s D’Orsay,” 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 didn’t 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 they’d done. The Bastards.” Franklyn was shaking with rage.


JD didn’t 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 wasn’t 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 wasn’t 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 D’Orsay would go to uncover the truth. He wondered if he had it in himself to be as good an Agent as D’Orsay had been.

Truthfully, JD wasn’t certain that he had it within himself to hold so fast to the line. Yes, he’d been a cop, but because of Capt. Meredith and Officer Ramsey, he’d never really been much at risk. D’Orsay 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. Michael’s church that night. JD wasn’t sure that he should go. He wasn’t a Mountie, but he understood the pain of a loss. Maybe he should go


JD crossed himself. He’d spent some time praying for the soul of the young Inspector but he’d also prayed for himself. For the courage to stand should he be called on to do so. The young Inspector’s death had touched a lot of people who probably hadn’t even met him.

He’d said as much to Turnbull, using a heavyset man in the back as an example. Turnbull had followed the gesture, but had turned pale.

“That’s Leftenant Welsh,” he said softly. “He’s 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-sister’s 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 Inspector’s 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 he’d 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 JD’s surprised expression. “My name is Stephanie, but most people call me Steve. I’ve 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 D’Orsay.

The rain was pouring down, but JD snuggled into his light coat. It hadn’t been wet enough for his snow gear earlier, and he was regretting the lack.

“You’ll 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.

“You’re right Marie,” Father Dowling said. “Wait a minute.” He dashed into another room returning quickly with a coat and umbrella.

“I can’t take these.” JD started.

“Nonsense. Father Behan used to collect them for just such emergencies. You’re 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 nun’s 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 didn’t 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 won’t be able to bring them back. I’m leaving Chicago tomorrow.” JD tried to explain.

“Where’re you headed?” the nun asked with interest.

“Denver. I’m 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. Michael’s 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 you’ve run into. You’re 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.

“Here’s another,” Turnbull said handing him small gold piece. It was a fourth of a coin. JD couldn’t make out the inscription. “Just take it.”

“What does it mean?” JD asked.

“It’s for hope’s sake. If you need help, a member of the Order will help you. Don’t worry JD. It’s 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 Mother’s blessing.”

“It’s not much.” JD said, wondering if he’d told Turnbull about his mother’s blessing. He didn’t remember doing so.

“It’s not much, JD. It’s 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 you’ve fallen in with a wildly metaphysical bunch. We’re 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 didn’t 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. They’d met the young Inspector during his visit to Chicago to find his sister, Meg Thatcher Fraser. There’d 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 he’d 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. He’d helped out a little but they were treating him as if he’d done something heroic. Each of them gave him something as a goodbye present and they’d packed his bags with food to last him. Food from McGinty’s. Gary and Marissa came by, as did Father Frank and the nun called ‘Steve’. Even the old Lieutenant, Welsh, he thought his name was. He’d even run into the two Federal Agents, Tusswell and Monson. They’d 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 didn’t 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, he’d never imagined that there was anything like this out there. He’d known from his studies that the West was full of open spaces, but he’d never dreamed that it was like this and he wasn’t 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 Major’s grasp of the boy’s hands had kept him from being thrown farther. The greater distance would have been fatal. It was a wonder to the ghost that he’d 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 hadn’t been there or hadn’t 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 hadn’t 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 wouldn’t have liked it, but sometimes swearing was the only way to get the emotion out. He’d learned that from Capt. Meredith himself.

Limping, JD followed the road. The bike had been totaled, and he’d nearly been killed. There were some lights in the distance. Houses. He’d call for a tow and the police from one of them. Beside him the Major frowned. He didn’t 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. He’d 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 don’t want to hurt you,” the dark haired man said.

“Why’d 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 scorpion’s nest down there,” the man replied, not at all discomfited at JD’s attitude. “That’s one door bell that you don’t 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 JD’s 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 who’d nearly killed him.

“Right,” the man replied. “Let’s 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, let’s make sure that they didn’t 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. “We’ve got to get out of here. We’re too close to the road, They’ll spot us…”

The two men didn’t 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 wasn’t 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 who’d 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 Doc’s 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 they’d 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 couldn’t 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!

“We’ve got to wait until the next detail shows up to continue the surveillance.” JD could hear Ray saying in the other room. “It’s too dangerous not to have a handle on what that woman is doing.”

“We’ve got to take care of this, too, Ray. I called our contacts. I’m not sure that the limo running the young man off the road was an accident. There’s a lot going on at that house. She’s up to something and it’s probably big. The other members of her little gang were there too. Rawlings especially. That’s not a good thing.”

“I know Gabe. I want the kid safe. She’s too frigging dangerous as it is. I don’t want to know that she’s killed someone else!”

“You can’t 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 can’t take this any more,” Ray said, running a hand through his shaggy dark hair. In the light of the bright Doctor’s office, JD could see through the slightly open door that Ray was exhausted and worn out. “There’s 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 can’t stop this one.”

“Ray,” Gabe said gently laying a hand on the other man’s 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 don’t stand a chance.” Ray looked down at his hands, JD was startled to see that he was crying. “I’ve been trying to stop her for more than Twenty five years. I can’t do it. I can’t do it anymore.”

“Ray?” Gabe’s voice showed his concern. The man was breaking down. “Ray you’ve spent years fighting a veritable army of Evil. She’s just one cog in the machine…”

“I can’t even stop one Cog!” Ray cried out.

“The Machine is all powerful now, but it will be broken. You aren’t the only one pushing and pulling on it. You aren’t alone, Ray. The Lion’s son is out there, and the Kinsmen. You aren’t standing alone. There are others with you in this fight. You know that the Warnikes are with you, Chad’s 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 it’s day, but it will not be so forever. Don’t despair, Please Ray, Don’t. 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.”

“I’m having trouble, Gabe. Real trouble with that,” Ray said, squaring his shoulders as if expecting to be hit. “I can’t take much more of this. I can’t. There’s nothing that I can do to stop her. I’ve called in dozens of Favors, tried every method I can think of, short of murder…” Gabe stopped him.

“You aren’t the kind of man who can murder someone, Ray.” Seeing Ray’s 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 haven’t? You saw horrific things during the war, things you still carry like a bleeding wound on your soul. But you’ve never crossed that line, no matter the provocation. You have done your best to remain a moral ethical man, no matter the situation. I’ve 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.”

“I’m not sure that I can do this any more, Gabe,” Ray said defeatedly.

“I know. It’s 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. Let’s 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 she’s up to something that must be big, I think that it will be some time before it happens. Stand down your watch Ray, you’ve been relieved. The duty isn’t yours alone, my friend. Not alone.”

Ray didn’t answer, and JD could tell that he’d 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 Ray’s 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 didn’t 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. He’d keep his eyes open and try to figure out what was going on. Maybe he could call Phillip and Charles, they’d know what was going on, surely.

A call to the Canadian Consulate in Chicago would straighten it out, but he’d have to be careful. If this was a Federal operation, he didn’t 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’ weren’t 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. He’s out of town for a couple of weeks. Daughter’s getting married,” Ray said, watching JD with a protective stance. “He’s 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 Ray’s 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? I’m worried about you. The wedding is at Raspberry Plain, some big old house. Jenny gave me directions, but I’m sure that I’ll 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 hadn’t heard Gabe come in.

“Call me JD,” JD said. “I assume that we’re going to be here a while.”

“Probably. It’s hard for Ray to let people out of his protection.”

“I’m not…”

“Yes, you are. The moment you walked into sight, you became Ray’s 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.”

“You’re from Chicago?” JD asked.

“JD! It’s not polite to listen in on other people’s conversations, though I suppose, given the circumstances it’s understandable. If you heard that you were listening to it all, weren’t 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 didn’t 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 JD’s guardian would flatten him and he’d have to explain to his own boss about it. She wouldn’t be pleased. Ray was his responsibility, not JD Dunne. Interfering with another’s 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 didn’t ask.

“So you’re a Gabriel, a Guardian Angel” JD said and missed Gabe’s 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 he’s been under for twenty-five years it must be a pretty big operation that you’re after. I assume that you’ve had me checked out like I was in Chicago.”

“I’ve spoken with someone,” Gabe said non-committally. He tried not to look at the Major who was watching to see how he’d handle this one.

“Then you know that I was headed to Denver. I don’t have time to get mixed up in this operation, what ever it is. Now, I’d 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. I’ve got to get that position on Team Seven. I’ve got to. So I don’t have time to get mixed up in this one. I don’t have much money and I’ve got to find a way to Denver.”

“Denver?” Gabe asked. “Ah, Larabee’s team.” He frowned for a moment and looked at the Major who nodded. “I’ll see what I can do about getting you a ride out there. However, Doc Colton, who in spite of the fact he’s 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 JD’s protests. “I’m not going to hold you here for weeks, just a day or two to make sure that you’re okay. Ray could use the break and he’ll stay here as long as you do. I’m sure that you understand that a,” Gabe paused and continued with a wicked grin ‘Guardian Angel’s first priority is his own charge. Ray needs some time. If you give him a little of yours, I’ll see that you get to Denver. Fair exchange?”

“Okay.” JD said with a slight frown. Larabee wouldn’t 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.

“Let’s just call it a deal. I’m 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. He’d 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. They’d 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 Riskin’s 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. He’d 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.

‘It’s okay, Ray. I’m fine. It’s been a long trying day. Perhaps you should get some rest?”

“Anyone ever tell you that you’re 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 hadn’t. Maybe you’d still be alive. You’d still be torturing students into learning languages that have been dead for thousands of years. You’d be...”

“There isn’t 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 JD’s bags over.

“Your charge has some serious problems,” the Major said

“Tell me about it. Ray hates himself like no one I’ve ever encountered, either in life or in death. He’s 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 I’d be willing to stay with him, always. A man who does so much for others and yet won’t let them into his life, won’t share his life… is a tragedy beyond measure.”

“I will try to prevent our becoming a problem for you,” the Major said.

“You aren’t. 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.