Thanks to Danae, Qwikshot, Dotty & Suisan for the betas & suggestions! All mistakes are my own.

Non-graphic mention of violence and torture. PG-ish.


by Ceci

Rafe stood in the shower and let his mind wander. I'm not worth jack shit. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know what they'd say. "Of course you are. You're nice, good-looking, well-liked...." Right. 'Nice.' Tell that to the old man whose wife had been shot to death right before I got there. I knew that car had more to give, but I chickened out.

'Good-looking.' Oh, yeah. It's not like they've ever seen me without a shirt. Rafe looked down at his chest. Although the physical pain from the burns was long gone, his scars still hurt.   People usually say that it's what's on the inside that counts, but those same people have turned their heads in disgust once they saw me bare-chested. Scars are said to be attractive, but the ones I have only work in the movies - like 'The Man Without A Face' and 'Pay It Forward.' When filming is over for the day, the burns are thrown in the trash.

'Well-liked?' Not really. I hang out with Henri, Joel, Simon, Jim and Blair. They're all great guys who I really don't deserve to hang out with.

I've been injured several times, even got a bullet graze on my forehead, while working Major Crimes, but I'd gladly do it again if it could prevent one of my friends getting hurt.//  He sighed, shook his head as if that would take the thoughts away, and turned the water off.


Rafe had just stepped out of the shower when Blair entered the locker room. "Oh, hi, Rafe!" he said, surprised.

To Rafe’s amazement, there was no shock, disgust or pity in his eyes"Hi, Blair." Out of habit and self-preservation, he hurried to cover his chest with a towel.

"I hope I didn't scare you, man."

Rafe shook his head. "No, I just wasn't expecting anyone."

"I forgot my cell phone after the game." Blair scanned the room and soon found it on one of the benches. "Found it!” He held it up, almost like a trophy, before putting it in his jacket. “So…what are you still doing here? The game ended a long time ago and all the others have left.”

Rafe had no idea what to say, but Blair had seen his chest. And his reaction had been like it was nothing strange about it. Suddenly, he wanted to tell Blair about it so badly; he had kept it to himself for so long and had to get it out. "Do you have to be somewhere? I'd really like to talk to you about...this." He let the towel drop, revealing his scarred chest.

Blair nodded. "Sure, man, I'll just call Jim. Just a sec." Blair pressed the speed dial and waited for Jim to pick up. "Hey, Jim, I found my cell. Yeah, I know." He rolled his eyes at something Jim had said. "Listen, I met up with Rafe and we're going to hang out for a while, OK? Yeah. See you later, then." Blair pressed the end button and turned back towards Rafe, who had begun putting on his clothes. "Wanna grab a cup of coffee or a beer or something?"

"Nah, it's OK. Listen, Blair...." Rafe began.                       

Blair interrupted him. "You don't have to...."

Rafe held up his hand. "I know, but I want to. You're the first one who hasn't made a strange face. It's almost as if you knew."

"Well, I knew something was up with you. You always change and shower alone; you never take your shirt off no matter how hot it gets. Things like that."

Rafe finished dressing, and then sat down. He motioned for Blair to do the same. "I told you about my family, right?"

Blair nodded. "Yeah. Your mom is Canadian, and your dad was Dutch. You lived in South Africa for twelve years, right?"

Rafe sighed. "Yeah. I was born in Vancouver, but we moved to South Africa when I was just a baby. My parents were volunteers there for a Christian organization. It was a weird place to be, Blair - beautiful, nice people, but the apartheid made it a living hell.” He took a deep breath before he continued. "Then one day when I came home from school, my mother and my sisters were crying. They told me my father had been shot by a white man because he had allowed a black man to ride in his truck."

This was the first time Blair heard about what had happened to Rafe’s father. He looked Rafe in the eye. "I'm so sorry."

"I couldn't believe it.” Rafe shook his head. “My father had always tried to do what his heart told him to, and now a bigot had killed him. Anyway, my mother wasn't very happy about staying there anymore, so we moved to Canada.” He paused briefly.

"Life in Vancouver was different from the one I knew, and I felt really out of place. People mocked me because of my accent, my background, and the fact that my father was dead. There was this one kid, a real KKK wannabe, who beat me to a pulp whenever he got the chance to. Mom tried to press charges, but nothing happened. Not until the day the kid hit me until I couldn't get up, sprayed me with gasoline and threw a match at me."

Blair was in shock. "Oh my God! What...."

"What happened next? Well, I can't really remember. I was unconscious when the match landed on me and didn't wake up for several days. There was some damage to my face, but they managed to repair it without leaving any scars. My chest had taken most of it, and there wasn't much they could do about it at the time."

Blair swallowed. "I'm so sorry, man."

"Hey, I'm not looking for pity."

"I know. Sor.... I think I'm gonna shut up now."

Rafe chuckled. "No problem. Anyway, after that, we pressed charges and the boy was sentenced to a youth correctional facility and had to pay damages. It wasn't much, but it took my mother, my sisters and me to Cascade, where mom started working at the university. I took some classes, got a degree, and began at the Academy. Walked the beat for a few years, took the Detective's exam, and transferred to Major Crime."

Blair was in awe. "Wow. I feel so honored that you told me all this."

"Well, it's not as if I had much choice. You saw me. And then I mean that you really saw me. Not the scars, but me. That means a lot."

Blair looked Rafe in the eye, trying to reassure him of his support. "There's no need for you to hide, Rafe. Not your scars, your past, or anything else. I'm your friend, and so are Henri, Jim, Simon, Megan and Joel. I don't think any less of you because of what you have let me see and hear. Neither will they."

  Rafe squeezed Blair's shoulder. "Thanks, man. I'll think about it."

"No need to thank me." Blair looked at his watch. "I'd better get back home. Thanks for trusting me."

Rafe smiled, and followed Blair out of the locker room. He felt as if a large weight had been lifted from his shoulders. In Blair's eyes, he had seen his value. Just as all other parts of creation, his value could not be determined. He was one of a kind, unique. He was loved.



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