Buttoned Up and Battoned Down


First Published: February 23rd, 2007
Rating: Adult
Pairing: Benton Fraser/Ray Kowalski
Word Count: 6,015


Summary: I had hoped that he would be spared this. After beating him to within an inch of unconsciousness, one of Mauhller's henchman had injected Ray with a double dose of the very drug we'd been working so hard to get off the streets. Mauhller had then laughed as Ray struggled ineffectually against the bonds that tied us to our chairs..


"Help! Help! Can anyone hear me?" Ray beats his fists against the unyielding metal walls, adding to the assortment of bruises and cuts already covering his hands. I should stop him. I should try to prevent him from causing himself harm, but I don't know what to do.

"Ray, you have to calm down...." If this were a mere over-reaction to our circumstances, I would redirect his anger at me; take his mind off our situation by making him focus on something else. But it's not an over-reaction. It's much worse than that.

I had hoped that he would be spared this. But after beating him to within an inch of unconsciousness, one of Mauhller's henchmen had injected Ray with a double dose of the very drug we'd been working so hard to get off the streets. Mauhller had then laughed as Ray struggled ineffectually against the bonds that tied us to our chairs.

"It'll either kill him or make him freak the fuck out," he'd sneered. And despite the laughter, his eyes had been cold and dead as they bored into me. I'd never felt such fear in my life.

"Don't tell the son-of-a-bitch nothing!" Ray had yelled, his voice muffled by the swellings distorting his bruised and bloody face.

That had earned him one last backhanded slap, and he'd passed out.

I had hoped he would remain unconscious until I could free us and get help, but alas, my partner is a strong man; he was back with me even before the metal door to the warehouse slammed shut behind the criminals. It had been the work of a moment to free us from the ropes, but our problems were just beginning.

This warehouse has no windows, and the only door, the one through which Mauhller and his men left, is securely locked and bolted. Mauhller also deactivated the machinery used to lift the loading bay door, and there's no way I can lift it by hand. Not even if Ray were fit enough to help. Furthermore, the incendiary device above our heads is set to go off in 60 minutes and is well out of my reach.

"I can't take this. Frase! I have to get OUT!" He slams his shoulder against the wall again and again.

If he keeps this up, he'll break bones. "Ray...."

"Don't just fucking stand there! HELP ME!" His eyes are wild, pupils so dilated I can't tell what color they should be. I grab him before he can throw himself against the wall again. This is what Mauhller meant by "freaking out." Under normal circumstances, Ray would no doubt take this wildly bizarre situation in stride. But the drugs coursing through him are making him crazy.

"H...help me, Fraser!" he whispers, eyes wide and shining with moisture.

My God, he's shaking.

I've seen him beaten and battered, I've seen him shot and half drowned, but I've never seen him like this. He's so open and vulnerable as his eyes beseech me to help. I do the only thing I can. I pull him into a tight embrace.

I can feel him trembling against me. His breath is catching in his throat.

"Shhh, Ray. It's going to be fine. We'll get out of this, you'll see." I reassure him as warmly as I can. My fingers find the spiky tufts of his hair, petting him softly as though he were a hurt animal or a frightened child.

His body is rigid with fear and perhaps with some small grain of resistance at being held, but after a moment he begins to shudder, huge wracking sobs shaking his slender frame and he buries his nose in the crook of my neck.

"Help me, Frase," he pleads, fingers clutching at the straps of my Sam Browne. Ray knows what's happening to him. He's not afraid of dying, only of losing control. I hold him tighter and we slide down the wall. I offer the strength and protection of my body, the only thing I do have to offer. "Shhhh. I wont let any harm come to you."

For what seems like a lifetime, I hold him, rocking and shushing him until the trembling subsides. He's slumped in the space between my legs, leaning heavily on me. How many times have I dreamed of being this close to him? More times than I can remember.

I push him back just far enough to touch his face, to catalogue the extent of his injuries. They did a professional job on him. I fared somewhat better. He's going to have a black eye, but I don't think anything is broken.

"I.... I feel like I wanna... wanna scream," he croaks, and I wish I had some water to offer him.

"It'll pass, Ray." I need to get him to hospital.There has to be some way out of here. "Will you be all right here while I search for an escape route?"

His eyes fill with dread, which he does a good job of hiding. "S...s.....sure."

As I search, I keep one eye on the huddled shape in the corner. I can hear him muttering under his breath.

I feel like my skin is trying to crawl right off my bones! Jesus! Jesus Fucking Christ, this is bad. I smoked a joint once, at some seedy club. Freaked right out on it too, but not as bad as this. The walls are closing in on me and I can't fucking breathe! I should be in pain. I should be hurting like a bastard from the beating but I don't feel a thing. I'm numb. Legs like jelly. Hands shaking. Can't see straight.

Where's Fraser? Where did he go? He wouldn't leave me here alone, would he? Nah, course he wouldn't. He's my pal...my buddy...my partner...my best friend in the whole fucking fucked up world.

"F...Frase?" Is that my voice? I sound like shit!

"I'm right here, Ray. Rest easy."

Hear him. Can't see him. It's dark in here and it's cold. I'm shaking but I'm sweating too. Can feel it trickling down my nose.

"We... we ain't getting out of this one, are we?"



Once, just once, the Mountie couldn't lie to make me feel better? Too much to ask? Man I need a cigarette. Last cigarette of a condemned man....

"I'm sorry, did you say something, Ray? I had my head inside this ventilation shaft which obscured my hearing."

Can't feel my legs. Head's spinning. Gonna throw up.

"I think this vent might be our way out of here, Ray."

Sounds so far away. His voice is weird. Don't...don't leave me here, Ben.

"Ray? Ray? Ray...Ray...Ray..."

Help me.

"Stay the course, Ray."

I get onto my hands and knees and begin to crawl along the dark shaft, listening to the sound of Ray's breathing from behind me. I know that at any moment he could freak out again. It's cold and dark in here. "Are you all right, Ray?"

"I'm good. I'm fine. Don't you worry about me, Frase. Just get us the hell out of here before I die of waiting."

Thankfully, he's sounding more like himself now, and I focus on the task ahead. As I am unfamiliar with the layout of the building, my goal is merely to find another grille and escape the ventilation shaft into an unlocked room. From there it should be easy to find a way out of the building. We have barely 35 minutes before the bomb goes off, but I have no intention of mentioning that to Ray.


"Yes, Ray?"

"About earlier. I... I kinda lost it there for a minute...I'm sorry..."

I hear the shame in his voice and quickly try to reassure him. "Well, yes. But in your defense, you have been drugged. So there is absolutely nothing to apologize for." Up ahead I can see a faint light shining from a grille. I quicken my pace.

Whatever room is below us is in darkness. I can see a narrow shaft heading down at a 45-degree angle, but I can't make out how far it goes. I shove the grille out of the way and stick my head inside. It's still too dark to make out how far down the shaft goes. So there really is only one way to find out.

"Fuck! Fraser, what the hell you doing?"

I lower myself into the shaft and glance over my shoulder. There really isn't time to be reassuring even thought he desperately needs that. "Ray, if anything happens, you have to keep going forward. You'll find a way out eventually."

"If anything happ... nonono, you ain't leaving me here alone."

I can't let his anguish sway me. If this shaft does not lead to freedom, there's little hope left for either one of us anyway. Turning away from him is the hardest thing I've ever done. I let go of the sides and feel myself slipping downwards.

Yeah, okay, I admit this was not the best idea I've ever had. I just got spooked at the thought of being alone in the dark, got sort of claustrophobic and panicked and threw myself after him. So now we're kinda stuck here, wedged together chest to chest. I almost wish it was as dark down here as it was up there, 'cause the look on his face "Well, isn't this a fine pickle," he huffs, and man, does he ever have the art of sarcasm down pat. I'm sure he would strangle me with his bare hands if he could. Good thing both his arms are pinned at his sides.

"Fuck! Sorry, Frase."

He's looking up the way we came. The shaft disappears into darkness so it's hard to guess how far we slid. My feet are touching the bottom--just--and there's a really cold draft blowing up my ass. If it weren't for the fact that we're probably gonna die here, I would really be enjoying myself. I mean how often do I get this up close and personal with the guy? He doesn't even have the red serge armor. It's nice. If I hold my breath, I can feel his heart beating against my chest.

I let my hands rest on his shoulders and just breathe him in. Even dirty, sweaty and minutes from certain death, he smells amazing. He takes a deep breath and suddenly I'm zoning out on his lower lip, where his tongue is poking out. I can feel his eyes on me, but I can't seem to drag my gaze any higher than his mouth. He must think I'm a fucking freak. Maybe I can blame it on the drugs later?

"Can you lean to the left a little? I think I might be able to free my arm."

"Huh? Oh, sure..."

We wriggle around for a few minutes, and Frase keeps making these odd little coughing noises, clearing his throat and staring right up the shaft. I guess the close contact is making him uncomfortable. There's almost enough friction going on down below to set off fireworks. One final tug, and his hand shoots up, just as my groin touches his. And what do you know? The close contact is making him more than just uncomfortable.

Dear God, this is torture. Sheer, unadulterated torture. Poor Ray must be beside himself with embarrassment. I seem to have absolutely no self-control this close to him. Usually the generous cut of my uniform pants hides any untoward reaction, but alas, this close to him, I doubt ice cold water would hide it.

"Ahh, um..." I have no idea what to say to him. I could try prevaricating, but I don't have his talent for it. He would see right through it. I force myself to look him in the eye and find his eyebrow cocked in surprise, but his eyes hold no censure. He actually looks faintly amused.

He looks down, at the place where our bodies press together and he presses closer and oh! Oh my! I feel my face heating up. He's as aroused as I am. I can actually see his eyes darkening, and for the first time in a long time, I don't feel like running for the hills at the desire I see in someone's gaze. Not that I can run, not in our current predicament. Still, it makes my breath hitch to imagine even for a moment what it could be like, if only we could get out of this.

"My ass is really freezing."

I blink at him in confusion. Strange that he should mention his backside, just as I was thinking about that very part of him. Then the significance of his words finally filter through my lust-drenched brain and I tug my other arm free and place my hands on each side of his head.

Oh fuck! He's gonna kiss me. He's leaning forward with his hands on either side of my face and yeah, I'm a little freaked. I'm hard for him, no surprises there, but I never seriously thought there was a chance, and now it's all too sudden, and too real.

"Whatcha doin'?" My voice sounds all raspy and weird. He's not even looking right at me, he's sorta looking over my shoulder and fiddling with something.

"Ray, do you happen to have a screwdriver on you?"


He pulls back far enough to look at me without going cockeyed. "The grid behind you is a vent. If I can loosen the screws, we might yet be able to escape."



No kissing then. Half of me is relieved beyond words, the other half is disappointed. Would have been nice, I think.

"Nah, I left my toolbox in my other pants." There's nothing like a dose of humor when you're minutes away from a fiery death.

"Ah, in which case, can you brace your feet against the well behind me and kick, as though you were interviewing a suspect?"

Guess Fraser feels the same way about humor as I do. Widening my stance, I bring my feet up, which, by the way makes our dicks say howdy-doody again! He takes a deep breath, places a hand behind my head to cushion the impact, and begins to count.

"One... two... three!"

I kick off with all my might, really putting my back into it, and I can hear creaking and groaning, then something gives and we're falling. I hit the ground on my back and Fraser lands on top of me, knocking all the air out of my lungs, which is a good thing, because it means I don't have any air left to moan with. Having Fraser pin me to the ground is gonna become on of my favourite sexual fantasies.

For a split second, he stares down at me, breathing kinda heavy and trying desperately not to move. His eyes scan my face quickly like he's looking for damage, or maybe just trying to remember how I look. Like maybe I'm the last thing he's ever gonna see and he wants to commit my face to memory. Then he blinks, shakes his head, and rolls off. The draft that was blowing up my ass suddenly makes its presence felt on other parts of my body.

Fraser is staring down at his watch, looking defeated, and I figure we must be out of time. Then his eyes widen and he's on his feet and across the room, to a large window overlooking the dock. He picks up a chair and hurls it thought the window. The shattering glass is almost painfully loud in the silence of the night. He's grinning at me like an idiot.

"After you," he insists in that fucking polite Canadian voice.

I stick my head out of the window and yeah; it's what I figured. A four-story plunge into the freezing water below. Either that or get blown to pieces. Some choice, huh? Taking a deep breath, I clamber up onto the ledge and stare down into the oily black depths. I dunno if I can do this. I mean, I can't even swim. Maybe being blown up won't be that bad? Might be over so quick I won't even feel it?

"No time to admire the scenery, Ray." I feel his hand smack the small of my back, and I'm flying! Oooooh Shiiiiiiiiit! A split second before I hit the water, there's an enormous bang and the sky lights up like the 4th of July.

By the time we reach the jetty, a crowd has gathered so there are plenty of helping hands available to drag us out of the water. Ray is shivering uncontrollably as he gazes across the dock at the burning building. I'm finding it very hard to believe we actually made it out in one piece.

Someone drapes a blanket over my shoulders and I turn to say thanks. The elderly lady is placing a similar blanket around Ray. Her husband comes out of their house holding two mugs of tea and I gratefully accept one.

"How'd you boys end up in the water?" the lady asks. I explain that we're police officers and that we jumped out of a window seconds before the warehouse exploded. As Ray is still looking a little shell-shocked, I fish his badge out of his pocket and show it to her. She nods and turns towards her house. "Well, you must be freezing. Why don't you come in and get warmed up?"

My duty and my concern for Ray war for dominance inside my head. I know that I ought to report to the police officers who are no doubt on the scene by now. But Ray is still far from recovered from the effects of the drugs and even though this happened totally against his will, the results of a blood test would be placed on his permanent record. Worse, the details of his freakout would be recorded there, also.

One final look at his pale, shaking form and I make up my mind. Some things are even more important than duty. "That's very kind of you, ma'am."

The house is small, sparsely furnished, but warm. The couple introduce themselves as and Vera Schmitt. They have lived in this house for 50 years, raised three children here, and fully intend to remain here until they are "carried out in a silk-lined box" as Thomas so vehemently puts it.

Vera fusses over Ray. She can tell that there's something terribly wrong and she's quite worried, but when I turn down her offer to call a doctor, thankfully she leaves it alone. "I'll go make up the spare bed so you can get some heat into your friend. You both got to get out of those wet clothes and into the bed and you're going to have to get right in with him and warm him up. I expect you can use a little rest, too. You both look exhausted." I feel my face begin to heat at the thought of getting into a bed with Ray and she smiles at me kindly. "Now don't be bashful, son, your friend's in danger. People can die of exposure, you know.

I agree quickly. Ray looks ready to collapse. I dare not risk pushing his limits any further tonight.

While Vera goes to make up the room, Thomas cajoles us out of our wet clothes. The towels he hands us barely meet around our middles and when Vera returns from her task, I can feel a blush heat my entire body. She just laughs. "I raised three boys, son. You got nothing I ain't seen before."

Ray has begun shivering again, and his eyes look vacant. I'm terribly worried about him. We follow Vera to the room she has prepared and while I watch as she shows us where the bathroom is, where the extra pillows are, where the aspirin is kept, and other such things, I cannot but notice that there is only one bed in the room.

I feel like shit.

I've had hangovers before. This is like no hangover I ever had. One minute I got the shakes, the next I'm burning up. I swing from feeling like a zombie to wanting to claw my way out of my skin. And I smell bad. That water was notsanitary.

"Ray, do you think you could manage a hot shower?"

I make myself focus on Fraser. He's just a big pink blur, on account of the fact that he's not wearing much of anything right now.

I can't seem to make my mouth form the words, so I just nod and let him lead me into the bathroom. He turns on the shower for me and waits until the water is warm enough. "I'll leave the bathroom door open, Ray. If you need me, just call."

He bolts before my towel even hits the floor.

For a long time, I just stand there with my head leaning on the tiles, letting the hot water soothe me. I want to get clean again, but my first priority here is getting warm, and man, it feels so good. It seems like forever since I felt warm.

Eventually, I find the energy to pick up the soap and clean myself off. I even manage to wash my hair. The only towel I can see is the little bitty one I was wearing when I came in here, but it's better than nothing, so I use it to get most of the water out of my hair, then wrap it around my hips.

"Pitter patter, Frase." I throw myself face down on the bed so that I don't have to look at all that naked flesh, but even though my eyes are closed, I know he's looking at me.

"You should get into bed, Ray," he says softly.

So I grunt, "One thing at a time, Fraser. One thing at a time."

I hear the bathroom door snick shut, and I roll over to look at our accommodations. Which is when I finally notice that I'm lying on a double bed, and that it's the only bed in the room. So the question is, did that old lady say she would leave pyjamas out for us? I have to admit, the thought of spending the night naked with Frase is definitely working for me, but I'm still not sure where he stands on this new development.

I guess that I'm just going to have to confront him about it if I want to get any answers 'cause he won't be volunteering any information. For a man who can talk up a storm, he sure doesn't say much. Not about realstuff, anyway.

I have never showered so quickly in my life. The idea of leaving Ray alone, even for a few minutes, makes me uneasy, but when I hurry back into the bedroom, he's sound asleep.

For a long time, I find myself just staring at him. I try to tell myself that I am merely making sure that he's all right. I try to tell myself that my eyes sweep over his soft, pale skin looking for signs of damage, but it's a lie. I look at him hungrily, wishing that my hands could follow the path my eyes are taking.

He's lying on his back, arms and legs splayed out in abandon. The towel around his waist gapes, exposing one long thigh almost right to the groin. I wonder how his skin would taste, if I had the courage to allow my tongue to embark upon that particular quest.

His chest rises and falls gently with each breath; nipples dusky pink from the heat of the shower make my mouth water. But it's his mouth that draws my gaze. So often Ray holds his mouth in a tight line of intense concentration. In sleep, his lips are soft and slightly parted. The urge to reach out and trace his lower lip with my thumb is so strong that my hand begins to reach for him, and I have to take a hurried step backwards.

Because now that I know Ray is physically attracted to me too, I have to resist temptation even more diligently. I want more from him that he is probably willing to give. I want... no, I need more than the occasional night of sexual gratification. I need love and tenderness and forever. I need happily ever after.

A cold trickle of water running down the back of my neck rouses me from my unhappy thoughts. Blinking back to the here-and-now, I scan the room for clean towels but find none. Nor are there any robes hanging on the back of the door. I consider going in search of our hosts, but I dislike the idea of leaving Ray alone for even a short while. Besides, this towel covers very little, and I'd like to retain some dignity. So, this means that I either climb into the big double bed with Ray, or risk hypothermia sleeping naked on the floor.

Either way, I should make some attempt to dry my hair. After all, 93% of our body heat is lost through the head. Ray is asleep, so my modesty will be preserved if I use the towel I'm wearing, but for some reason, I cling to the towel like it's my last defense, my last piece of armor against the temptations of the flesh.

My fingers reach for the towel and hesitate. Which is when I realize with a start that Ray is awake and he's watching me with amusement. "Here," he says, whipping his own towel off and throwing it at me. "Use mine."

It hits me in the face and wraps around my head. It's warm from the heat of his body and smells of soap and Ray. I have to turn away and sit on the end of the bed so that he cannot see my body's reaction. As I scrub the towel roughly through my hair, I try not to think about Ray lying on the bed behind me, naked, relaxed, and vulnerable. It's an impossible situation. I'm human. I have needs and wants just the same as the next man. I have become fairly adept at shielding myself from my own lust and desire, but then again, I've never wanted anyone quite as badly as I want Ray right now.

How am I supposed to get into bed with him like this and pretend nothing is wrong?

I take a long time drying my hair. Perhaps he will be asleep by the time I have to turn around and face him. I hope so, because I am feeling less and less in control of things as the minutes tick by. It would be terribly easy to take advantage of Ray in his present state, and no matter how much I want him, that--I cannot do. How would I be able to live with myself after? Having had a taste of paradise only to have it then withdrawn? No, better by far to stay the course.

I don't give myself time to think about it. I just drop both my towel and Ray's at the side of the bed and slip under the covers with my back to him. I turn off the bedside lamp, but the light from the warehouse fire across the docks illuminates the room with a dull orange glow. I can't help feeling that it's entirely appropriate: this could quite possibly be my very own private hell.

Fraser is somehow managing to balance on two inches of mattress. It's more than obvious that he's desperately trying to make sure that no part of his body comes into contact with any part of mine, and I am not gonna let him get away with that. I slip under the covers too, and snuggle up against his warm back. He goes rigid.

"Sorry, 'bout the feet," I apologise, rubbing my toes up and down his calves. "I never seem to be able to get them to warm up."

"Um, Ray, would you be so kind as to give me a little more room?"

I roll away with a grin, waiting to see what he will do next. He rolls onto his back, tugs the covers up to his chin and stares up at the ceiling. My eyes are getting used to the dark, and I can see quite clearly that he's biting his lower lip. Something I would dearly love to do for him, given half a chance.

As much as he wants to say something, he can't. I get that. I really do. Must be hard to let it all out when you spend so much time buttoned up and battened down. It really is up to me then.

"I felt it, you know?" If anything, he goes even stiffer. I can hear him swallowing in the darkness, trying to wet his lips but he's got no spit, so I move in closer, place my hand on his chest above the covers. "Back in the warehouse. I felt it." "Um..."

"I know you felt it too."

He clears his throat, coughs. "Ray, I don't know what..."

"Don't even go there, Frase. Do not go there. Either you had a hard-on, or you were concealing an unlicensed firearm in your pants. Which was it, buddy?" I can feel his heart thundering against my hand.

"Ray, please..."

" How about now, Frase? You still hard for me?" I'm pushing, I know it. But he's staring at the ceiling and I want him to be staring at me, dammit! I run my hand slowly up his arm and feel him shiver. He's fighting it, and that's kinda hot. I wonder how hard I'll have to push before that carefully constructed Mountie wall comes crashing down around us.

I keep stroking his arm. His eyes close and his breathing deepens, so I move my hand to his bare chest and my Lord, he actually gasps. It's just a tiny little sound, and he sorta freezes up, but I can feel his body vibrate next to mine. "Fraser, look at me."

"I can't, Ray."


His eyes flutter open, and what I see there takes my breath away. So many emotions welling in those deep eyes. He wants this so badly, but he can't reach out and take it. I don't pretend to know what's holding him back, but I want to help him.

"It's okay," I say, rolling closer to press against him. "Fraser, it's going to be okay. It's going to be great." I kiss his chest, his chin, his neck, waiting for the moment when he will relax and start making love right back.

He remains motionless, wound tighter than a watch spring, the harsh sound of his breathing and the ticking of an ancient grandfather clock, the only noises in the room. I can feel his arousal; I know how much his body wants this. If only it would override his damned brain.

I reach down, stroke his dick gently. When he doesn't immediately smack me in the mouth, I slip my leg over his, cover his body with mine and line myself up so that I can capture my own dick in the same hand. Feels so good. Perfect match. Breathing kinda hard myself now. If only he would say something. If only he would give me some sign that he's okay with this. I mean, for all I know he could just be humoring me.

Then he makes this little sound. It sounds like an "oh!" but it's more of a grunt, and his eyes are squeezed closed and his hips are moving. And it's the most beautiful sound I ever heard, 'cause it means he's into this. He's really getting into it. I feel my own desire spike almost painfully. "Oh God! Oh God, Fraser..."

He's still fighting a little, but I can feel him lose the battle. We're moving together, in a perfect rhythm, like dancing. Another tiny "oh" escapes him, louder this time, and his fingers clutch the sheets. It's so fucking erotic seeing him like this, but I want more. I want to watch him lose it completely.

I'm kissing his throat, his face, anywhere I can reach. And I don't even feel how bashed up my own face is. Then his lips are right there in front of me and I go for it. I kiss him hard, pressing my tongue into him like I'm fucking him and he lets me. He opens his mouth and, Jesus...he groans right into my mouth. And suddenly things just go boom! We're humping each other wildly, kissing and gasping and moaning...his head goes back and he lets out this strangled grunt, his lips curl, and he comes all over my hand.

"Ray!" he moans, shuddering against me through the aftershocks.

I did that. I made him come like that. Oh...oh fuck! Oh fuck, yes, Fraser, yes!

Oh Lord, what have I done?

He's asleep, sprawled half on the bed and half on me. We are covered in ejaculate and sweat, but I can't seem to find the energy to care.

I swore I wouldn't do this, but how could anyone resist him? I'm a sinner, not a saint. Yet lying like this, with him in my arms, listening to the soft sounds of his breathing, I feel complete. I was weak. I succumbed to the pleasures of the flesh, but that fleeting moment of release, beautiful as it was, cannot compare to this feeling. To be held in his arms, if only for one night, is a gift I shall treasure my whole life.

He stirs, tickling my chest with the unruly spikes of his hair. "Jesus, we made our own little swamp," he whispers, running a finger through the mess on my belly. "Pass me one of those skimpy little hand towels, will ya?"

Ray cleans us up, takes the towel to the bathroom and runs it under the tap to remove the evidence of our lovemaking, then returns to the bed. He is not in the slightest bit shy, and I envy how comfortable he is in his own skin. "Can I ask you something, Frase?"

Surely he knows that he can ask me anything by now. I smile and nod, not trusting my voice.

"How come you look so sad? Most guys who just got their rocks off as spectacularly as you just did would be wearing the dopiest grin ever. You look like your dog just died or something." "I'm ashamed of myself. I took advantage of you, Ray. You should be angry. You will be angry tomorrow, when the drug is out of your system."

"You think this is about me being high?" He looks at me in disbelief. "Fraser, this has been a long time coming. Maybe the drugs gave me the courage to act on my feelings, I dunno. All I do know, is that I don't regret a bit of it."

I look into his eyes and see the truth of it. "You would do this again?"

"Are you kidding me?" He laughs, making his head at home on my belly. "Soon as I get you back to my place where we can yell as loud as we want, I intend to do it again and again, and a whole lot more besides."

I can feel something inside me begin to melt. I think it might be the ice around my heart.

"How... how long do you think you might want to...?"

Before I can voice my niggling concerns, he wraps his arms around me and mumbles against my skin, "What'cha doing for the next fifty years?"

"I have no idea, Ray. But whatever it is, I hope it's with you."

He shifts position, kisses me and says, "Good answer, buddy. Good answer."

The End 



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