Imagine: The List
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First Appeared in Diverse Doings 6, May 2000

Live Wires of the Mind

Stanley 'Ray' Kowalski picked up the stolen stone, sneering at the man who had stolen it. "So, what's its supposed to do again?" he asked the man in handcuffs. "Supposed ta give ya powers? Like telewhatsits?" The man spat at his feet. "Hey, easy or you'll be cleanin' them." He looked at his partner, Ray Vecchio, the man he had become for almost a year, and who had been back for two, across the warehouse. "You want the paperwork or are you burdening me with it. Again?" Ray simply smiled, walking the man out to the newly-arrived cruiser and the officers there. "Yeah, that's what I thought," he muttered heading out to his car. Since the Riv had blown up, the fourth one, they'd been using his GTO for duty, and he never let his partner drive. "Ya comin'?"

"Sure," Ray called back. "What's your hurry?"

"I'm bored and since I have to do the paperwork again, I might as well get started."

"Hey you're the one with less time in, you get the paperwork."

Stanley snorted. "Sure I do. Maybe next time Lieutenant Welsh will give you a rookie to pull that crap on. You cuffed it, you fill out the forms." He started the car, wincing at the small vibration he could feel coming from under him. "Feels like we've got a motor pool car tomorrow," he said cheerfully.

"Then I'm driving," Ray said hotly. "Now can we please go?" He waved at the open street.

"You know you can walk, right?" he said as he pulled out into traffic.

It was back at the station when Stanley started to feel strange. The coffee in his hand tasted sour, the average noise level seemed to be louder. He felt his forehead for a fever and sighed when he felt one, getting up and going into the Lieutenant's office. "I'm going home, sir," he said, popping his head in.

"Are you dead?" Lieutenant Welsh looked at his detective, the light glinting off his perpetually greasy hair. "You don't look dead."

"No, but I'm running a fever and I'd rather not barf here." The older man waved him away. "Thanks. I'll do the paperwork tomorrow since my car'll be in the shop." And with that simple lie, he jogged down the stairs and out to said car, sliding into it and pulling away to his humble, if messy, home.

He flipped on the lights then turned them back off when the light glared too brightly, starting off a headache, blindly walking to the kitchen for a drink and some aspirin, which he swallowed on the way to his bed. He lay down with a small sigh, closing his eyes and wondering if anyone else ever had days like that.


Stanley woke up, grabbing his head at the noise coming from downstairs. He looked at his clock, groaning when he saw he was already two hours late for his shift, and lay back down, covering his head with a pillow to block some of the noise.

Unfortunately, the pounding on the door wouldn't let him go back to sleep.

"I'm dead," he yelled. "Go 'way!" He pulled the blankets up over his head, over the pillow, and tried to ignore whomever was walking carefully through his living room.

"Kid, get up," Vecchio said, pulling back the covers to look down at his partner. "Time to get up, no more hangover for you." He laughed at the finger he was flipped as the younger man rolled over. "What is that on your back?" he asked, running a finger down the red marks he could see. "Looks like claws. Some woman got you good, kid. But that still doesn't excuse you from work."

"Go 'way," Stanley muttered. "Not feeling well."



"You've used up your sick days," Vecchio reminded him, sitting on the edge of the bed, testing his forehead with the back of his hand. "Not too hot. Get dressed."

"Bite me."

"No, the Lieutenant remembered that you promised to do paperwork today so he sent me to get you. Now get up."

Stanley looked over his shoulder. "If I move, I'm barfing on you. Get over it. I'm sick." He lay his head back down, closing his eyes. "Lock the door behind you."

Vecchio shook his head, going back out to the living room and picking up the phone. "Kid's sick," he told the person on the other end. "No, small fever, nauseous. Said it's the flu." He nodded, hanging up. "Welsh wants a doctor's excuse," he called.


"Sorry," Vecchio said, walking back in, not at all repentant judging by the smirk on his face. "I got orders to get you down there." He pulled back the covers, wincing as he saw the red lines extending down onto the younger man's legs. "What scratched you?"


"Sure, nothing did. Have you looked at your back and your legs recently?" Ray helped the younger man up, pulling out some clothes and passing them over, then left him alone to get dressed in privacy. He walked out to the small kitchen, looking in the refrigerator for something to settle his stomach. "Want some juice?"

"No," Stanley said, walking out. "Just take me to the nota-real-emergency place. I'll be fine." He rested against the wall, closing his eyes to block out the harmful light. "Glasses?" He felt them being put on for him so opened an eye to look at his partner. "Gee, this is fun, right? The world tilts and you're funny colored." He managed to just get it out before rushing to the sink and getting sick.

"Okay, you're sick," Vecchio said with a small shrug. "I'll go start the car come down when you're ready. Or in ten minutes I'll be back up." He walked out the door, holding the rest of his breath so he didn't have to inhale the stench.

"Gee thanks," Stanley moaned, running some water to rinse his sink and the few dishes there. He trudged down to the car, gripping the walls the whole way, and slid thankfully into the seat of his car. "Thanks, Ray."

"Hey, just don't puke on me and we'll call it even, okay, kid?" Stanley nodded, eyes closed again as they started down the street. "You sure it's not something you ate?"


"Ah. Okay then." He aimed the car at the Quik Care sign down the street, heading for it as fast as the law -- his own personal one -- allowed.


Stanley walked out of the examination room, still clutching the walls. He wandered out to the sitting area, nodding at his partner to leave with him. Or to help him, really, since the wall was about to end and the anti-nausea shot was making him even more dizzy. He smiled gratefully as he was helped out to the car, sliding back down into the seat and closing his eyes. "Home, Ray," he whispered. "And please spare my engine."

Vecchio laughed at the small joke. "Sure we will, kid." He walked around the car, getting in. "No medicines?"

"Got the flu thingy, the pill one, but I have samples since he felt sorry for me. And I got a shot, which is making the world really Disney colored." He opened his eyes, turning his head slowly to look at his partner. "Just drop me off in bed and I'll even be nice and let you take the car if you promise not to hurt it."

"Now I know you're sick," Ray said as he started the engine. He frowned. "You're right, it needs to go into the shop again."

"Yay." Stanley faced front again, raising a weak hand to bat at the visor until the sunlight was blocked from piercing his skull. "Home, Ray."

"Sure, kid. Whatever." He pulled out into traffic. "Did you remember the doctor's excuse?" The younger man nodded. "And what about those lines?"

"Must have scratched myself in my sleep," he muttered, just before snoring.

"Sure ya did," Ray said gently, "and I'm a leprechaun." He pulled up in front of the
neighborhood grocery store, hurrying in to get the younger man the flu essentials: juice, bottled water, porn magazines so he had something to look at, and crackers. He came back out to find Stanley in the alley getting sick again, so dumped his bag onto the back seat and went over to steady him. He walked him back to the car, helping him in. "One more night of this and it's the ER for you, kid," he said quietly, getting back in and heading the last few blocks to the younger man's apartment.


"I tell ya, Benny, it was weird. His legs and his back were carved up like he'd run into some great big animal with claws," Vecchio said as he paced in front of where his friend was standing guard. "And he didn't remember how he got them." He looked at his watch. "Okay, so he should be out still but we can go when you're off duty, okay?" He glanced at his watch again then at the large one nearby, smiling as it went off. "Done?"

"Yes, Ray, and it would seem that the scratches might have been fever induced." Benton Fraser, RCMP, stretched his back as he stepped away from his post. "But we should go look in on him, just in case he's truly sick and needs us."

"Okay, lets go." Ray waved at the GTO. "Now," he said at the hesitation. "I just picked it up for him from the shop, it needed struts." He waved at the car again, watching his unofficial partner walk into the Consulate then hurry back out, following his serge covered back to the black

Benny bent over his other partner's back, looking down at the scratches mentioned to him. "I don't know what caused them but they're smaller than his hand is." He touched one, noting how Stanley flinched. "Stanley?" he asked quietly; the younger detective needed to hear his own name now that Vecchio was back. It was a side effect of losing his personality to that of Ray's while he was undercover. "It's just Ray and I. We're here to check up on you."

"Shoot me?" was mumbled into the pillow.

"No, I'm afraid I can't condone that. You know better." He stood back up, looking at the older detective. "I don't know what caused it but it wasn't his hand. The spaces between them are too small to have been caused by his fingers."

"No more shots, Ma," Stanley whined. "Not that sick."

Ray shook his head, rolling his eyes. "So, more doctors?" Benny nodded so he gathered up the clothes the younger man had thrown off earlier in the day, tapping him on the shoulder and handing them to him. "Come on, kid, time to go to the ER."


"Sorry," Benny whispered, "but this is necessary. I believe you were mis-diagnosed." He helped the younger man up, putting the zip-up sweatshirt on him, holding him still while Ray put shorts on him. "Come on, Stanley, we're going to make you feel better now."

"Don't want to move," he whispered. "Head hurts."

"I'm sure it does," Benny told him quietly, lifting him up and carrying him out to the car. He sat down in the front seat after considering the options, resting the ill man on his lap since he couldn't get him into the backseat and not hurt him.


Stanley opened his eyes, looking up at the balding ER doctor, Doctor Greene, someone he had met on a few prior occasions due to work. "Gee, you look like my partner," he slurred, closing his eyes quickly when the swirls of colors started to come at him again. "Can you stop the special effects?"


"The swirly/pointy things that are aimed at my head." He opened an eye, pointing at where they were forming. "Right there."

The doctor simply nodded, patting his hand. "I'm sure they can't hurt you, it's only colors." He walked out to look at the two people that had brought the patient in, grimacing as he had to start the hard questions. "Does your friend have a history of drug or alcohol problems?" Both men shook their heads. "How about mental problems?"

"No," Ray said, a little loudly. "He's perfectly normal. Or was until he came down with a low grade fever and started to get sick yesterday," he corrected. "And what about those marks?"

"Well, I agree with your friend -- he didn't cause them. There's no way a human can reach their back like that, but I don't have an immediate cause." He scratched his expanding forehead. "I can admit him for observation or you can do it at home and bring him back if he gets worse. Your choice, Detective, but I've got to tell you, I'm not sure if he's got anything more than fevered delusions and the flu."

"He was given a shot..." Ray started and the doctor nodded. "Okay, so you called them?"

"Yeah, and when I did, they were really nice. They told me everything, including some things he hasn't apparently told you." He scratched his forehead again. "I still don't know what's wrong with him so it's up to you. It looks like a bad case of the flu to me." He shrugged at the angry look. "I'm sorry, but I can only go on what I know."

"Would some sort of specialist maybe have a better idea?" Benny asked.

"Yes," the doctor admitted, "and I've called Doctor Marcum down, told him everything. He said it was probably the flu but he'd look at him in between rounds upstairs." He patted their arms. "I've got a few more patients to check on. Go ahead and sit beside him until he comes down." He walked away, handing the chart off to a nurse with a quiet word as he headed toward where paramedics were rushing in with another patient, doing CPR.

Ray walked in first, flinching at the sweat pouring down Stanley's face. "Hey, kid," he said, walking over to touch his shoulder, not liking the flinch he got at all. "Want me to see if you can have some water?" He looked at the nurse as she walked in. "Can he?" She nodded, handing him a pitcher and a wrapped cup. "Thanks." He poured out a little, nodding at the Mountie to hold Stanley while he held the cup. "Here ya go," he said quietly. "Nice water."

Stanley choked, but drank the rest of it, breathing hard by the time he was finished. He blinked at his friends, wiggling back down to being flat. "What's wrong with me?" he whispered.

"You've got the flu from hell," Vecchio said with a small smile. "They're debating on keeping you or not." He brushed the limp hair off Stanley's wet forehead and looked at the nurse again. "Can we wipe him down? A washcloth or something?"

"I'm not sure, let me go check with the doctor." She paused as the door opened. "Or better yet, let him tell you. Mark's not sure what's going on with this one. He mentioned fever-induced hallucinations of sharp colors." She handed over the chart. "These are his partners."

"As in literal or figurative," he said, glancing at them from his reading.

"We're cops," Vecchio said quietly, still looking down at his partner's clouded eyes. "Kid, new doctor's here, want to wake up?" He tried to back away before the reappearing water hit him, he really did, but he wasn't that fast. "Okay, so I'm guessing not." He frowned at Benny. "He's picking up your bad habits."

The doctor snorted, looking at the regurgitated liquid dripping down the silk pants. "That's pretty acidic, I'd get something on it to neutralize it before it ruins the fabric. There's a nice dry cleaner's around the corner." He looked down at his patient. "How long has he been sweating like this?" He smiled at the young man on the table, reaching down to run his hand through the sweaty, lank blond hair. "I'm Doctor Marcum, Doctor Greene called me in to look at you."

"Mark didn't mention it so I'm assuming since he left, which was about twenty minutes ago. He kept down the water for almost five." She led the Detective and the Mountie out, waving them toward the door. "Bathrooms are down the hall on the left if you want to clean that up a little," she said. "Don't worry about your friend, he's in good hands."

Ray nodded, then glance down at his pants. "You be okay with him for a few minutes?" he asked Benny, who simply nodded, so he headed down to the bathrooms, leaving them alone.

"Um, could I ask you a few questions?" the nurse asked. Benny nodded, looking at her. "Okay, the scratches?"

"I agreed with the original doctor that they weren't his doing. The space between them is smaller than the one between his nails." She nodded. "That and the other doctor mentioned no one could do that to their own back." That made her smile slightly. "As for the hallucinations, that was the first I'd heard of them. Unless he mentioned them to the person he saw earlier, I don't have a clue."

"Okay, and does he usually get this sick when he's ill?"

"No, he's usually quite healthy. I've never seen him this bad before." Benny glanced at Ray as he came back. "Did he mention the hallucinations to you?"

Vecchio shook his head as he joined them. "Nah, asked me to shoot him but nothing about funny colors or anything." Ray looked toward the curtain as the loud wail of a heart monitor alarm's went off, starting toward the sound. "Stanley?" he called. The nurse held him back, rushing in and closing the curtain in his face. He paced for the ten minutes it took them to come back out, but almost pounced on the doctor when he emerged. "What happened?"

"He had a momentary heart stoppage. Not more than a second, more like a skipped beat," Doctor Marcum soothed, opening the curtain so they could see him resting. "I'm having him admitted for observation. You're welcome to stay with him."

"Sure, I'll, um, go and get him something to sleep in," Ray said, still looking at his friend. "Is he gonna be okay?"

"With his fever going down, yes, he'll be fine." Doctor Marcum looked at the nurse, who pulled the Mountie in to be with Stanley so he could talk to Ray. "Detective, I'm not going to lie to you -- he's not in good shape. He just had a seizure, a minor one, before his heart skipped. This is highly abnormal, even for high fevers, which he doesn't have. Do you know if he was exposed to something recently? A disease or some contaminant maybe?"

"Well, we busted this guy with this stone yesterday but it looked like big piece of jade. Said it was supposed to give him mental powers." He shrugged. "Other than that, not a single clue. I know what he's eaten because we've been working double shifts due to the budget cutbacks. He's had his usual coffee with M&M's in it, a few cups a day now. He's eaten some deli food, and my Ma brought us some real food yesterday but we both ate it."

"Could we draw some blood from you to check against his?" Ray nodded, rolling up his sleeve. "Thank you, it could help us determine if it was something you were both exposed to."

"Unless it was something that got him at home, or that stone -- we've shared everything else."

"Could the stone be the cause of it?" Benny asked, walking back out. "No one else has really touched it since it was bagged."

"I could get our Lieutenant, Lieutenant Welsh, to bring it down here if we need it," Ray offered the doctor.

"If we can't find another cause, we'll check it," he assured him. "Nurse, please take some blood from the Detective to compare to Mr. Kowalski's." She nodded, pulling Ray back inside and the doctor headed for the desk to write the orders up.


Ray faced down his Lieutenant the next day, tossing the copy of the admittance order at him. "Sir, he's not faking it." The older man looked at the paper and frowned. "And they can't find a cause. He's had a few mini seizures but his heart's stabilized since that one time. What do you want me to do?"

"I'll put you on light duty, let you do the paperwork backlog from both your desks beside him." He tossed the paper down. "They don't have a clue?"

"He seems to be getting better but they don't know what it was." Ray sat down. "They did everything but check that weird stone we brought in."

"The evidence guy got the flu too, but he took it literally and went to Florida," Lieutenant Welsh said, scratching his distended stomach. "Do what you have to to make him secure and help him get better. With as much paperwork as you two have, you'll have two more weeks beside him." He grimaced. "If they want it, I'll have the DA's office drop the stone over there." Ray shook his head. "No?"

"No, they were real skeptical about it being that since the suspect didn't get sick and none of the rest of us in that room did either."

"Well, we could ask the suspect, see how he handled it. Maybe there is something there." The Lieutenant shrugged. "Get him better. And call your mother," he added when his detective was almost out the door. "She's called six times today looking for you."

"Yes sir," Vecchio said, walking out the door. He leaned over his desk, dialing the phone quickly. "Ma? Yeah, it's me. No, he's still in the hospital. Huh? No, we're taking turns so he isn't alone. Sure you can, I'm sure both he and the wolf would like that." He smiled and hung up, looking at his sister Frannie, the department's Civilian Aide helper. "Okay, Ma's heading down to feed Benny, I'm doing paperwork at the kid's bedside. I don't have my cellphone; it's not allowed on the floor." She nodded, making a note on the location board. "Good girl. Just let me gather stuff up to do." He answered his phone when it rang, and everyone stopped to look at him, including the Lieutenant who came out to stand in his doorway.

"Vecchio." He stopped, dropping the files. "Really?" he asked with a smile. "Any idea why?" He shook his head at the Lieutenant's frown. "No, that's great. Oh, and expect Ma." He hung up. "His fever broke." The few detectives there smiled at that. "He's awake, normal, and cranky because he needs his caffeine fix." The Lieutenant smiled at that. "And Doctor Marcum's going to release him tomorrow or the day after maybe, if he doesn't relapse." The Lieutenant nodded. "Okay, I'm still going to be beside him, Frannie, so take messages, and I do mean full ones." He walked past the Civilian Aide pulling on his coat as he went.

The Lieutenant looked at another detective, a dark-skinned, well-dressed man. "Huey, go talk to the perp with the stone. I want to know what caused this." The detective nodded, putting down his bite of salad and putting the lid on the tray before getting up and heading out of the room.


Stanley frowned at his supper tray. "What's this?" he asked the nurse, who must have been a saint because she said he was her easiest patient this week and he knew he was cranky. "Looks like I don't want to think about where it came from."

"Yes, but you have to eat it so we can tell that you're keeping food down now," she said patiently, handing him the fork. "If you're good, then I'll let your friends feed you his leftovers later." She patted his head and walked out.

He grimaced at the blandness of the first bite, but his stomach wasn't complaining anymore so he ate it, ignoring the fact that it lacked salt or flavor. He handed the tray off to Benny when he walked in with his wolf, Dief . "Here, feed it to the glutton down there. It's better for him." He took the Chinese food with a small grin, tearing into the beef and broccoli. "Thanks, starving," he said in between bites, smiling sweetly at the nurse as she walked back in for his tray. "Sorry," he said after hastily swallowing.

She just smiled, laughing lightly, as she took it away from Dief, walking back out. "Just behave," she called over her shoulder.

Ray handed the younger man a thermos. "Mixed it special myself, but it needs shaken probably." He watched him open it like a five year-old at Christmas and smile like one too when he saw that it was his special coffee mix.

"Thanks, Vecchio," he said, gulping the first, all important, cup. "Much better," he sighed, picking up a piece of broccoli with his fingers and slurping it.


As Stanley approached the station house he could feel the pressure in his head start to grow, almost as if someone were putting weights on his brain, but he ignored it; he'd been gone too long and God only knew what his desk looked like. He rubbed the bridge of his nose as he walked into his squadroom, nodding at the people there.

"Tell me you aren't sick, again," Vecchio said, watching him walk to his desk.

"Caffeine hasn't kicked in yet, have a withdrawal headache," he muttered, sitting down. He smiled at the gifts sitting there, looking up to smile at the other guys, and lone female. "Thanks guys, I'll open them later so no one can get jealous." He pulled out his desk drawer, placing them gently inside to be carried home later, and picked up the first folder.

He successfully ignored the pressure headache until just before lunch when a rowdy person was brought in kicking and screaming in handcuffs about how God had told him to shoot some girl. He shook the pain off, sipping his coffee, hoping to ease it some with more caffeine than usual. Then another perp was brought in, a female this time, and she was screaming about how she was going to get the first guy back. He watched them go, noticing how the pressure ebbed and flowed the closer or further away they got. His brow wrinkled for a second but he shook his head, signing a form and pulling out another, starting on it.

"Kowalski, my office," the Lieutenant said, looking at him. "Now." Stanley got up, following him inside. "How do you feel?" he asked, shutting the door and going back to his seat.

"Fine. Little headache but I guess it's from when I was without caffeine. My body's just
adjusting back to the old ways." He frowned when the Lieutenant waved at a chair. "I'm fine, sir."

"Oh, I know but I have to give you some information." He pointed at the chair this time. "Sit." When the Stanley did as ordered, Lieutenant Welsh handed across a folder, watching silently as it was read. "Now then, I want you to know two things. I don't care if you do have it and I don't want to know. Find a way to justify it."

Stanley nodded absently. "Can I, um, can I bring this home with me to look at?" The Lieutenant nodded, smiling slightly. "Can I ask Benny for his help?"

"No." He looked over at his detective. "I know that you want his input but you can't tell him, or anyone else. Got it?" The younger man shook his head. "If what's written there is true, then the information getting out could easily come back and bite both of us on the ass. You can't tell anyone."

Stanley relaxed into the chair. "But if that kook was right and somehow the telewhatsits passed to me instead, then I'm going to have to figure it out, sir, and I can't do that on my own. I'm not that good at this stuff."

"You'll need absolute secrecy," the Lieutenant said quietly. "If Constable Fraser can guarantee that, then you have my permission to tell him." He turned to look out the window. "I don't have to remind you of what happened the last time this department showed the merest hint of using something psychic, right?" He glanced back in time to see the head shake. "Good. Now, you may be under that category so we have to put you under the heading of 'I-don't-want-to-know' or 'care-to-know'." That got a small smile. "But it would explain your headache when those two came in."

"Yes, sir, it would," Stanley said quietly, looking toward the outer office. "So, what do I do?"

"If you do, I need to know, but I don't want to know, if you catch me." Stanley nodded. "Okay, so go figure it out."


"That I do not know." Welsh waved at the door. "Remember, no help without national level secrecy."

The detective nodded, walking back out to his desk. He nodded at Benny, who was looking at the pile of finished paperwork to make sure it didn't need his signature or anything. "Want to come over for dinner?" he asked quietly. The Constable looked up at him, curiosity radiating from him. "Just you," he said. "Vecchio's trying to date again tonight and I thought it'd be a nice thing to get back into the usual routine. So pizza? Eight, or whenever we get out of here?"

"Yes, thank you kindly, Stan. I'll be there." Benny smiled at him, looking at the folder, reaching for it. "New case?"

"Huh? This? No, it's personal," he said, sliding it into the drawer with the presents. "Just the memos about my sick leave and stuff." He shrugged, sitting down in his chair. "If you want, you can pull up a pen and help me do Vecchio's paperwork."

"I heard that," Ray called from his desk. "And I did plenty for the both of us while you were sick."

"Yay. No you didn't. It all reappeared on my desk." He grinned at his partner. "I saw you napping, pretending to fill out forms with your eyes closed." Vecchio smiled sweetly, shaking his head.


Benny looked at the pile of opened presents. "Do you need help with the thank-you notes?"

"Nah, I got 'em." Stanley sat down, concentrating on the other man. "So, Benny, how's Dief?" He felt a small twinge in his head but didn't really notice anything else.

"Fine. He's napping at home tonight. Oh, and he told me to tell you thank you from him for letting him stay here while you were sick. Even if you did call him a guard dog." That brought another little smile. "How are you feeling?" he asked quietly. "What's the real reason I'm here tonight? We have pizza on Thursday, not Tuesday, Stan."

"I was feelin' a little isolated and all so I thought I'd add a night." He shrugged. "Nothing big." He glanced at the folder, trying to bring whatever it was out again by asking the right questions. "So, Benny, what's new in your life? New friends? Or so I heard through the gossip hag known as Frannie."

"Well, yes, I have met someone that I can admire and who has a small measure of affection for me," he said with a smile. "But I'd not call them a 'friend' in the sense that you mean. He's a very nice man, very much like myself."

"So, what, he's formal, kinda uptight, and likes the outdoors?" That got a small frown but a nod. "Okay, so when do I get to meet him?"

"I'm not sure. We're taking things very slowly. He's in the business world and he thinks he won't be accepted if people find out."

"Yeah, people can be like that." Stanley shifted in his chair, adjusting his sprawl when the tingly feeling in his head increased.

"What's bothering you, Stan? You can tell me, you know."

"Oh, I know I can but I'm not sure if I should." He shrugged as the feeling went away again. "It's not a sharing thing yet. I'm still trying to figure things out, but I didn't want to be alone while I thought."

"So, should we watch TV maybe? That way you could focus on your thoughts and I could do the same?"

"Could you answer me a question -- without a story please?" Benny nodded, smiling again. "What's up with that story that the guy with the stone gave?" When Benny gave him a confused look, Stanley passed over the file from the bust, which he'd stolen from his desk. In it was the thief's statement and claims of the power the stone held. "Since that was the only unusual thing that week, I'm guessing it was somehow connected to my being sick." He tipped his head as his friend read. "So?" he asked when he put it down.

"There are many tales of such things, Stan, but none have ever proven totally true." He paused to think. "It's like the Holy Grail; we know that there is one, and that it's supposed to have great powers, but no one can put the two together."

"So, it's a bunch of bull?"

"It may be true, but proving it would be difficult. Why?" He looked at his friend. "Are you thinking that the supposed power that the stone may have held might have caused your illness?"

"Ya know, you sound like a lawyer sometimes." Stanley sat up, looking at his friend. "I don't know what caused it but I'd like to find out. I'm the only one who touched it, really. I put it into the bag but the evidence guy who was handling it, a totally respectable and upstanding guy for twelve years, suddenly went to Florida after he handled it. I got sick but Vecchio didn't and that was about the only thing we didn't have in common that week. So you tell me? Was it?"

"It may well have been what made you ill now that you've mentioned those items. Someone would have to study the stone, see if it was contaminated with some sort of radiation or some other contaminant that could make you sick in so short a time." Benny relaxed, thinking. "Do you think I could look at the stone?"

"Don't know, have to ask the boss. He offered it to the hospital so I'm not even sure where it is." He leaned a little closer. "Benny, you've got to promise this doesn't leave here." The other man stared at him and a tingle started near the back of his neck. "No one can know that I got sick from it if that was the cause."

"But, Stan..." Benny started.

"No, no buts. No one else who touched it since then has gotten sick or spacey so it's not still radiating or whatever. No danger to others. But if it did it, I need to know for me."

"And if it did something then the others may well say or do something about it?" the Mountie guessed. Stanley nodded, leaning back. "Ah, I see then. Well, yes, I can be discreet. Does anyone else know of your theory? Ray perhaps? Or the Lieutenant?"

"Yeah, the Lieutenant knows. He's the one who brought it up and made me realize I had to keep it absolutely secret. Deal?"

"Of course, Stan. Whatever you need. You know that."

"How about a hug then?" he asked with a grin. "I miss you, big guy."

"And I you, Stan, never doubt that." He patted the couch cushion beside himself and watched the younger man as he got up to come curl up next to him. "It was just too dangerous with Ray coming back and you fighting over your identity when he did."

"Then you found that other guy," Stan reminded him, cuddling close, the tingles he was getting making him feel good again. "Not that I mind; he seemed to make you happier than I did."

"No, not really."

"You sure?"

"Yes, Stan, I'm very sure he didn't make me that happy." He relaxed into the warmth against his side, letting his mind and body flow back to simpler times when they didn't have to hide what they used to have.


Stanley Ray Kowalski looked around his squadroom before heading into his Lieutenant's office. "Sir," he said, closing the door. He waved the detective in so Stanley sat across from him. "I want... I need to have some time to figure this out."

The older man dropped his pen with a groan. "It's true?"

"I think so. I'm getting tingles." Lieutenant Welsh held his hand up. "Sorry, sir."

"So you need some extra time to go figure these...tingles out?" Stanley nodded. "And how, exactly, were you planning on doing this?"

"I have no clue sir, but I know I need to start with some library time."

"I can give you two weeks, no more. There's no way I can spare you any longer. And when you get back, I need you to be at your best, if not better. I can justify this as some sort of training exercise with the Mountie and your partner."

"Sir, Vecchio doesn't know."

"Then tell him."

"Is that wise?"

"Kowalski, you can't hide something like this, not from your partner. He'll start to suspect something, then he'll question you, and your partnership will fall apart."

"I know," Stan said quietly. "And I understand that, but I don't know how to tell him."

"Then let me." Welsh got up, scratching his thinning, greasy hair as he walked to the door. "Vecchio, in here, now," he called, closing the door as the other detective entered.

"What's up, kid? Feelin' sick again?"

"Ah, no, but it's about that." Stanley looked up, shrugging. "I don't know how ta tell ya, but the..." He swallowed, the tingly feelings from both men starting to turn his stomach. "It's true," he said quietly. "The guy wasn't lying."

"What?" Ray Vecchio threw up his hands, pacing away from him. "This is insane! This is something outta one of Benny's stories! There is no way this is real."

"Ray, please calm down. You're giving me a headache and my stomach's startin' ta churn."

"Um, okay," Ray said, stopping, standing perfectly still. "Better, kid?"

"Yeah, thanks. It's just an emotion thing, I get these tingles."

"I don't want to know," the Lieutenant said, waving at them. "Go have lunch somewhere far away."

"Yes sir," they said together.

Ray let Stanley lead the way out, staying far away from him. They got into the car, Ray taking the wheel, and sat there looking at each other. "You can really feel stuff off me?"

"Just tingles. It's like a wire's shortin' in my brain somewhere. That's why I've got to figure this out. I need to associate the wires with things before I go nuts." Stan turned away from his partner, looking out the front window. "I can't read your mind, Ray, don't worry about it."

"Hey, wasn't wondering. This is just....weird."

"Tell me about it." He waved at the street. "Can we go eat? I feel better when I'm on a set schedule."

"Okay, then we'll figure this out." Ray started the car. "Does Benny know?"

"Yeah, I asked his opinion last night." Stan slumped down in his seat. "I just asked for time off to figure this out, the Lieutenant said I had to tell you."

"So you were going to let me wonder why you were becoming Benny?" he asked hotly.

"Yeah, I was. It'd just be easier." He turned to look at him. "Food, Ray, before my head starts again."

"Point. We'll go pick up Benny. Make sure he can help you."


"No problem. I have no clue what to do with you now."

"I'm not any different, I just have a few more wires in my head."

"Or loose ones."

"Funny," Stan said dryly.


Stanley faced off to Constable Benton Fraser's boss, giving her his best pitiful look. "I know we've worn out all your good will, but I need Benny's help for about two weeks."

"Why?" she asked, not looking up from her paperwork. "Is this in the best interests of Canada?"

Stan leaned down to get closer to her. "I need him, and it's a secret." She looked up, interested. "I can't tell you unless I have absolute secrecy." She nodded so he put the folder down in front of her, the one he had went to get from his apartment. "I trust Benny to help me with this matter, and about no one else." He walked over to the window to watch traffic while she read.

She put it down, shaking her head. "That's incredible." She looked him over, watching him rub the back of his neck. "I heard you were sick. Is this what caused it?"

"That's the only reason we can find." He turned to look at her. "I don't know nothin' about this stuff on my own. That's why I need Benny. And I need you to keep the secret."

"I'm not going to tell anyone, same as I'm not going to tell anyone about Constable Fraser's ... tasting abilities." They shared a smile. "I can let you have him for a week, but in eight days we have Turnbull going on vacation and I'm going to be gone in ten. I can't spare him during either of those times."

"I think I could use him for that long. I can work with him at night the rest of the time." Stan walked back over, taking the folder and putting it under his shirt to tuck it in against his skin. "So I can have him?"

"Yes, go pull him off of guard duty now, you can have him for the rest of today and his official leave will start day after tomorrow." Stanley nodded. "Just be careful. I don't have to tell you what sort of problems this could cause."

"Yeah, Vecchio's already thinkin' I'm a freak." He looked down at the carpet.

"Actually, I was thinking more along the lines of personal relationships. You'll always know when your mate's unhappy now," she said quietly. "Just remember, everybody has bad days." She caught his eye and he nodded. "Good, dismissed."

"Thanks," he said with a small grin as he walked out. "Benny!" he yelled in the hallway. "Got you a reprieve, come on." He walked down the stairs, meeting his unofficial partner at the bottom near the door. "Come on, you're comin' with us today, and you got a week off ta help me startin' day after tomorrow." He headed out to the car, nodding Dief over to it. "Come on, food." The wolf hurried in front of them, climbing in without a sound.

"If I may ask, Stan, why am I being given this reprieve?"

"'Cause I need your help." He slid behind the wheel. "Vecchio'll meet us later for dinner, Lieutenant called him back to do paperwork." He looked expectantly at the other man. "Shut the door."

"Sorry." Benny shut the door and buckled up. "What do you need my help with?"

"The stuff the stone gave me. I got two weeks to figure it out, fix it, or be able to use it. You got a week to help me and Vecchio's being given the same time off I am."

"Ah, I see." He shifted to look at the Detective. "How do you see me helping?"

"Well, for one, I need to know the basics. The how's, the why's. The what-to-do's." He grinned as he started the car. "And I think we should start in a library, somewhere that you're at home in and I'm lost."

"I see. So you need me to help you research?"

"No, I need you to help me get control, but the research seems like a good thing to start with."

"All right, where are we going now?"

"I'm buyin' ya lunch then we'll go look at the library."

"Thank you kindly, I hadn't had a chance to get my own yet." Dief whined. "Yes, we'll get you something also." His ear was licked by the constantly ravenous wolf.


Ray looked at the stacks of books on the table, then up at the man who had gotten them all. "All these?" he asked hesitantly, touching one particularly thick book. "Whadda we need all these for?"

"The thick ones are biology textbooks. I thought to look up the 'why's' as you put it in there while you searched for your"

"Oh," Stan said, nodding, looking a little happier. "So whadda I look up?"

"Empathy," Ray Vecchio said as he sat down beside them. "I'm sorry the way I freaked earlier."

"No problem. I'd do the same." He handed over a thick book. "Here, you can have this one."

Benny and Ray shared a smile as they went to work looking up the things they would need to know. After a while, Benny got up to get some paper and a pen, coming back to make notes. "I think we should try to get Stanley out of the city for a few days, get him somewhere clear and unpopulated," he said at last.

Stanley nodded, chewing on his lip as he put it down, pages open and on the table, which got a frown. "I wouldn't mind. Even here is kinda numbing."

"I understand," Benny said casually, "and I suspect I have a reason, but we should really gather all the information we can get and then make some decisions in private." He looked at Ray, who was looking around in confusion. "I believe you were right about the type of gift, but if you think about it, he could be picking up general emissions from everyone instead of just us."

"Oh, okay," Ray said, nodding. "Whatever. What do we need to do now?"

"I say we obtain a notebook to gather notes in. Then we work on testing and through the testing we'll figure out what he needs to do to gain control." He closed the textbook he had been taking notes from. "Most of the biologists agreed that if there was such a thing as empathy, it would be in relatively the same area of the brain. All we have to do at the moment is figure out if this is a long-term phenomenon or not."

"So it could just leave one day?" Stan asked happily.

"Yes, it appears it could." Benny stood up, piling his books up to bring over to the return cart, smiling at the librarian and giving him a nod. He walked back to the table and grabbed his hat and the papers. "Come, let's go get proper research materials and plan for the next few days."

"Okay," Ray and Stan said together, following him out.


"I feel stupid," Stan called across the field. Benny's bright idea about testing had led them to this empty ball field, with him standing out in left field while the other two were on the pitcher's mound. "What am I supposed to be doing again?"

"Just tell us if you feel anything," Benny called. He looked at Ray, frowning. "Pull up your darkest memory and consciously bring forward the hate," he explained quietly.

Ray scowled but did so, shaking his head after a few minutes. "The kid's right, this is stupid." He waved Stan in. "Come on," he called, "I'll buy the beer."

Stan walked closer then stopped to grab his head. "Ow," he muttered, falling to his knees. He was panting in pain by the time his friends got to him. "Damn headaches," he muttered, allowing them to help him up. "Why didn't you touch the damn stone?"

"Because I was letting you do all the work," Ray said, looking just a little guilty as Benny glared at him. "Sorry!"

"No, that's a realistic reaction. Is the pain gone?"

"In a few," Stan said quietly. "I need sunglasses." He looked at Ray. "Man, you just had to be pissed, right?"

"Sorry, kid." Ray patted the tense shoulder and it relaxed. "No more?"

"No, you touched me and a different zing went through me." Stanley frowned at Benny. "Try it."

"I..." Benny shrugged and hugged him, smiling as he felt the small, subtle kiss to his chest. "How's that, Stanley?"

"Fine," he said, backing up. He popped his neck and shook his head. "Okay, so I got a distance?"

"It appears so. We knew it would have to be finite. Now all we have to do is find your boundaries," Benny said.

"Okay." Stan nodded, turning to look at Ray. "You okay?"

"Yeah, kid, I'm fine. I'm not the one with tingly wires in my head." Ray nodded toward the car. "Beer?"

"Nah, I shouldn't."

"No, you shouldn't," Benny agreed. "We don't know what affect alcohol will have on him. He should abstain until we have some sort of comparison."

"How're you gonna find out if he doesn't drink?" Ray pointed out smugly.

"That's a good point, but I believe we should wait nonetheless." Benny looked around at the empty field. "Did you get anything out there?"

"Not from you, but someone behind me was pissed."

"So you have a directional sense?"

"I think so," Stanley said, looking confused. "What difference would that make?"

"Hostage situations," Ray said simply. "Ones where you're rescuing."

"Oh, good point." Stanley waved at his car. "Let's go, I'm hungry."

"Is this appetite new since you got your gift?" Ray asked.

"Yeah, but I think I'm makin' up for lost time." Ray grabbed the keys from Stanley's hand. "Hey!"

"I'm not wreckin' because the guy next to us is pissed at the lights," Ray said, heading around to drive.

"He has a point," Benny said casually, opening the door and getting into the back.

"Yeah, but it still sucks." Ray slid into the passenger's side, putting down the visor. "Please don't wreck my car, Ray."

"I wouldn't do that to your car," Ray said patiently, starting it.


Stanley looked up from his reclining position on the couch as his former lover walked in, giving him a small smile. "Hey, you get Ray home?"

"Yes," Benny said, handing over the keys.

Stan felt a wire he hadn't felt before jump when their fingers connected. He reached out to grab the hand again, but it didn't happen, this time he got something he was starting to recognize as confusion. "What were you thinkin' about? Just when our fingers touched?"

"I was thinking about your smile," Benny said carefully, sitting beneath the younger man's feet. "Why? What did you feel?"

"I felt some sort of flash."

"Ah, I see."

"Ya know, you say that a lot these days." Stan sat up, looking at the older man. "You okay?"

"I'm fine, both in relation to my health and to our relationship."

"You only get wordy when you get nervous," Stan pointed out, shifting so he was closer. "Why were you thinkin' about my smile?" he asked quietly, touching the other man's shoulder.

"Stan, please, don't," Benny said, pushing Stan's hand away. "Don't use your gift that way. I was following a memory path down the times I had seen your smile." Stan gave him a sad look. "You could have asked."

"I wanted to check what I was getting." Stan moved back to his side of the couch. "Sorry," he said finally. "I didn't mean ta abuse our friendship."

"I know, but this is still strange for me and you need to create some boundaries. Etiquette basically for the usage of your abilities."

"So now you're saying I gotta call Ms. Manners and ask her?" Stan asked with a wicked grin. "I don't think she'd understand this."

"No," Benny agreed with a smile, "I don't think traditional etiquette will be able to handle this situation, though some rules may still apply. Courtesy, and possibly sharing what you're getting off others."

"Or not sharing?" Stan suggested, moving closer. "Like right now, if I said 'what I'm feeling off you are brighter tingles than earlier' sort of sharing? Like that would be rude?"

"Yes, of that sort." Benny cleared his throat. "Ray, I'm not sure this is the best idea. You're in a fragile mental state and I would feel like I was preying on that."

"Nah, I know better." Stan leaned in for a kiss, smiling as he felt the bright tingles grow into bright flashes. "Wow," he said, licking his lips. "That went well."

"Is this another test or do you really want this?" Benny asked quietly, looking down at his hands.

"No, I want this, more than a lotta things. It's interestin' what my mind's flashin' at me but otherwise I want this." Stan smiled then kissed him again. "See? Would I be initiatin' if I didn't want this?"

"No, not usually." Benny pulled Stanley onto his lap, kissing him hard, holding him still to take it. "Why are we still out here if you want this?"

"Because you pulled me inta your lap?"

"Good point. Go get ready."

Stan hopped up and headed for his bedroom, quickly pushing all his dirty clothes into the closet and under the bed, tossing the pillows into some semblance of order before heading into the bathroom. He knew exactly what Benny wanted from their earlier times together, back when Ray Vecchio had been undercover, and he relished the memories. Maybe if he was lucky, he could get some of the best replayed tonight. He hummed as he cleaned himself then hopped into the shower for a quick scrub -- Benny's nose very sensitive to body odor -- before wrapping a towel around his hips and heading out to his bed. He crawled up to the top just as Benny walked in, already without his shirt. Stan pulled off his towel, offering himself silently, the way Benny liked.

Benny walked to the foot of the bed, watching Stanley do as he had been taught, eyes narrowing as he surveyed the lithe and pale body. "You need a tan," he said finally, stripping quickly and crawling in beside Stan. He ran a hand over Stan's trembling chest. "I want you to relax," he murmured. "You know I won't hurt you."

"I know." Stanley leaned into the tender touches, pursing his lips for another kiss. "Please?"

"Of course." Benny leaned down to kiss him, pulling the smaller body into his tightly and holding on. "I was worried about you," he whispered in between kisses, "all the time you were in the hospital and when you came home." He licked Stan's chapped lips. "You were so fragile then."

"I'm better now."

"No, you're still fragile, but you're getting closer." Benny licked over the lips again before diving into them and holding them hostage. He only released them when Stanley went limp in his arms. "Good," Benny whispered, letting one hand roam back down to Stan's chest. He pinched a nipple, earning a small moan. "You can do better than that," he reminded Stan, doing it again.

Stanley arched up under the fingers, making small noises now. His Benny knew what he wanted. He stole a kiss before moving down the pale column of the older man's neck, licking and nipping, careful not to leave a mark that would be noticed. He nibbled on the protruding collarbone, sipping the sweat gathering in the hollow.

"Good," Benny purred, shifting so the younger man could have better access to his neck. "Much nicer." He stopped when he felt Stan flinch. "What?" he asked, pulling back to look at his lover.

"Just a twinge again, but this one felt funny."

"Ah, I see." Benny pulled himself up to a sitting position. "Do you wish me to stop?"

"Nah, I still want this." Stan pulled the older man back down, diving back into his mouth, but he pulled back after a moment. "I'm not getting lost like I usually do."

"That's because you're thinking and trying too hard," Benny told him gently, scraping down the firm, pale chest with his nails. "You need to let go, Stan, just let your mind relax." He leaned down to follow the path of his nails with his tongue. "All you have to do is to give in to me." The man under him closed his eyes and relaxed, allowing him to have full access to his body. "Good, Stan, very nice." He licked down the tense stomach muscles, smirking as they quivered at the ticklish/pleasurable feelings he was causing, and moved lower, licking gently over the swelling cock. "Are you ready?" he asked gently.

"Yeah," Stanley whispered, very breathy. He moved his legs, spreading them for what he knew was coming. He winced as Benny filled him, keeping his eyes closed and not mentioning the flashing going on in his head. "That's nice," he told him, shifting his weight off to the side so his hip wouldn't cramp for the planned long ride. "Thank you."

"You're very welcome." Benny pushed himself up, pounding him hard. "Stan, you look so good like that," he told him quietly, "very intense but yet free."


"Good." Benny's rhythm picked up, adding a little nudge up at the end of his stroke. "Hmm, not right?" he asked when he didn't get a yell. He tried it again and got it this time. "Ah, not quite ready for that yet." He leaned down to lick over Stan's thrown-back neck, keeping up with his lover's hips as they set the pace now, and nipped the hollow beneath the younger man's vocal chords. "Stan," he purred.

"Benny! Yeah, Benny!" Stan was pushing back harder and faster now, eyes squeezed tightly shut as the pleasurable feelings increased, the flashing in his head getting brighter and longer, pulsing now. "Yeah, Benny, more!" he yelled as he came in a bright flash of light, both behind his eyes and in his mind. He didn't get to feel the other man's come brushing the inside of his body; he was lost in that place in his mind where the new wires were. When he was finally able to open his eyes, his lover was looking down at him in concern. "Wha'?"

"That's what I was going to ask you," Benny said, sitting up beside him. He had gotten redressed and had cleaned up after them in the few minutes Stan had been out. "Are you all right?"

"Yeah, was just kinda bright there for a second." Stanley rolled onto his side, putting his head on the jeans-clad leg. "You?"

"I'm fine, Stan, I just got worried because I seemed to have lost you in there somewhere."

"Was great."

"Ah. Okay then." Benny gently extricated himself from the younger man and stood up, his expression carefully neutral. "I think I'll be going for the evening. I'll see you tomorrow at ten and we'll go find a way to test you some more." He got a small nod so walked out.

"I'm sorry," Stan said once he heard the door close. "I don't meant ta be a freak and scare ya." He put his head back on the pillow and closed his eyes, considering what was going on in his head. "I really need someone who's gonna understand all this crap to fix" He closed his eyes. "I'll figure it out in the morning," he murmured through a yawn.


Benny looked at the man across the table from him. "Now, this is just a standard test that they give people who are supposed psychics. I want you to concentrate on the picture I'm holding and tell me what the card is."

"But I don't have that stuff."

Ray took the cards, putting them back on the table. "Stan, listen, we've got to find out exactly what you can do and that means testin' odd stuff. Just go with it."

"'Kay." He closed his eyes, concentrating on the man before him. "Can you please not feel that I'm a freak that you're waitin' on to bust out in song and dances about plagues?" he asked suddenly.

"Who thinks that?" Ray asked. "I was just wondering if you really wanted to train this stuff so it's useful?"

"Yeah, I noticed," Stan said with a small smile. They both looked at Benny. "I can understand if you don't want to help. We'll still be friends though. Right?"

"Of course we are, and I do want to help you learn how to harness this gift, Stan. I'm just still shaken by it." He cleared his throat. "I am sorry about that, though. I never meant to give you that impression. You're not a freak; you're an incredible man who's been given a gift against his will."

"Then why are ya thinkin' about the guys that do the end of the world warnings?"

"I don't know," Benny admitted, "but I'm sure it's not conscious."

Both detectives nodded. "Let's start this stuff again," Ray said. He looked around the empty room at the library that they had managed to save for themselves. "I'm going to go over to the door. Tell me if you can still feel me over there, kid." He walked over to stand beside the door, about as far away as he could get in the room, and got a nod. "What am I thinkin'?"

"Um, about lunch?"

"Don't guess, make a statement," Benny corrected.

"Well, I'm still just getting flashes. I get one from him that looks like that and he's thinkin' about food. I get a certain one from you and it feels like a 'freak' thought to me. And now I'm getting it again." He stood up. "Guys, I don't want this, really. This isn't my fault."

"No, it's mine," Ray said, walking back over to touch his shoulder, pulling his hand back at the last moment. "I'm sorry I made you do all the work."

Stan snorted. "Like you're the first." He looked at them. "Guys, I don't do it on purpose. I'll quit sharin' and everything. Can we just move away from the looney-bin feelings?"

"Of course," Benny said soothingly. "We know you're not insane, Stan, just that you're...adjusting." He got given a dirty look. "And that you need to learn how to ignore things."

"Yeah, but doing that in traffic in this city is probably not the most healthy thing for any of us," Ray added.

Stanley shook his head and walked out of the room. "Whatever," he called, waving. "I'll see you guys tomorrow sometime."

"Stan, wait," Benny called quietly but Ray kept him from running after him. "What?"

"You need to let him deal some. You're pushing him too hard. This has got to scare him as much as it does us."

"Yes, I know," Benny said sadly, "but without proper control, he could be in bigger trouble."

"Only if some of the stories about the government are true," Ray said, picking up the books they had out. "Let's go eat. He was right about that much."

Benny shook his head once he was alone. "About all of it, Ray, about all of it."


Stanley sipped his beer, watching the bar from his corner seat. He nodded at the bartender, emptying his glass and waited for another to be brought over, handing him another five-dollar bill for the large glass. "Thanks." He kept sipping as he surveyed the patrons, trying to invoke his new sensitivity, but nothing would come. He looked at the beer in appreciation. "Well, that answers one question," he muttered.

"Talking to the glass doesn't usually make it feel better," a man said as he walked up to him and sat across from him. "Anthony."

Stanley looked the man over using his police training. He was fit, about five-nine, dark brown hair with red highlights, and very pale. "Stan," he said, holding out his hand. They shook and Stanley's flash was a color this time, bright irritating blue, making him wonder. "So, you usually walk up to people who are talking to their beers?"

"No," Anthony said, his voice a little higher than most men's but with a raspy undertone. "Not usually. I just thought you needed someone to talk to. You looked lonely."

"Am kinda," Stan admitted, and got the blue flash again. "So, whaddya doing here on a Tuesday afternoon?" he asked, taking a sip of his beer.

"Looking for you actually, Detective Kowalski." Stan went stiff. "Don't worry, I just read the paper about the stone's bust and I knew you'd need to talk to someone."

"Uh-huh. And how did you know it was me?" he asked, taking another sip.

"Because I followed you and your partner and you're the one who got sick from the aftereffects. It's very telling."

"Not really. Was just a royal case of the flu." He got up, draining his beer, and walked away. "Later," he called over his shoulder.

"I can help you control it," Anthony said quietly, trying to keep it out of the general conversation at the bar.

Stanley leaned over his shoulder. "What?"

"You have a new gift. I can help you train it." He looked into the green eyes. "I can help you get absolute control so you quit getting the flashes."

Stanley sat down again. "How'd you know about those?"

"Because you're not the only one who's had them," Anthony said gently. "And you won't be the last."

"And whaddya want in return?"

"I just don't want you going beserk at work some day and screaming about what people are feeling. I teach kids like you everyday at my job and I don't want you to have the problems they had when others caught on that they were special."

Stan nodded. "I got it." He stood back up. "Don't worry, I'm not going to out you guys." He walked out to his car and got in, blinking his eyes as they started to water and he started to yawn. "What the fuck!" he yelled, getting out to lean against the side of his car. He glared at Anthony as he walked out. "That's not real polite. You don't just put that sort of thing in someone's head."

"Yes, well, it's necessary." He smiled, walking over to him. "Come on, I can show you where to go."

"I know where to go, and it's not with you. Touch my car or me again and I'll arrest you."

"For?" he asked with a smile.

"Stalking." He got back into his car, starting the engine and pulling away as fast as he could.

Stanley drove around for a little while, ending up in a small park in a quiet neighborhood watching the kids play. He looked up as a woman with a baby in a stroller sat down next to him, nodding.

"Pretty day, isn't it?" she said, nodding up at the few clouds in the sky.

"Yeah," he said, nodding. From her, he couldn't get a thing, just a 'thick blanket' feeling. "So," he said after a few more minutes of quiet. "Taking the kid out for a stroll?"

"No, I just felt that you needed someone to talk to. We were already out for a walk." She smiled and patted his arm. "Don't worry, we're not all bad." His face could only be described as scared. "Shh, I'm not going to hurt you, just give you a piece of advice." He nodded. "Only you can train you, but you have to respect other's limits while you use your new instincts. Use them just as a tool in a vast arsenal of skills and experience and you'll be fine. Use them as anything else and you're screwed." She stood up, pushing the stroller away from the bench.

He smiled as he thought about what she had said, nodding finally and going back to his car. "Yeah, that sounds good. Just gotta not tell anyone."


Stanley looked at the men around his Lieutenant's office, noting what each was feeling and projecting towards him. "Okay, so I gotta tell ya I turned it off in a fit of frustration last night." Benny sighed and Ray looked confused. "So, no more wires, no more tingles, no more nothin'."

Benny stood up. "It's probably for the best anyway, Stan, we all know that the ... tingles were about to ruin your life as you knew it." He patted him on the arm. "I should get back to work. Gentlemen." He left the office.

Ray reached out and shut the door. "Wanna try that lie again, kid?" he asked with a smirk.

"Well, I got some good advice on how to really work it and I'm following it. It's a tool, same as the cop training is."

"So, it's nothing special," the Lieutenant said in appreciation. "Good, I like that. And if you do suddenly have an outbreak of tingles?"

"If it's necessary to somethin', then I'll tell ya somehow. Otherwise, I'm ignoring them most of the time."

Ray stood up, patting Stanley's shoulder. "Okay, just warn me first. You're already really good at translating them."

"Oh, I will," Stanley said, grinning, "but I'm not doing it anymore."

"Okay. We'll do the whole 'don't ask-don't tell' thing unless it becomes obvious." He walked out, closing the door.

"That will work for me also, Detective," the Lieutenant said quietly. "Just make sure that you have proof, court-ready proof, to back up anything you may get."

"Yes, sir." Stanley turned and walked out, heading back to his desk and his paperwork. He shot a small smile at Ray's sister for the cup of fresh coffee on his desk, sitting down to tackle his backlog of paperwork.

The End, for now.
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