The street outside of the courtroom cleared quickly, but Ray didn't immediately start the engine. He sat in silence, staring out of the windshield, lost in thought. Now that his adrenalin levels were returning to what passed for normal, he was starting to question his mixed up, crazy-assed feelings.
It had been one hell of a seventy-two hours. Wild, wild ride, emotions running high. Maybe he'd been reading way more into things than he should have? Maybe Fraser was just a freak, and where he came from, like Mars or something, it was standard procedure to tell your partner you loved him. Maybe he just needed to collapse on his own bed (alone, thank you very much) and sleep for a week. Then maybe he would see all this in a different light.
"Ray, are you all right?" Fraser asked, concern tingeing his voice. "I could drive if you're too tired?"
Oh yeah, he was supposed to be taking Fraser back to his place to... to what? The offer had been made on impulse, on too much adrenalin and too little sleep. Was he really just about to throw a lifetime of heterosexuality out of the window based on a few lingering looks and a lot of sensory deprivation?
Rousing himself from his musings Ray smiled wearily, "Nah, I'm good. Just... you know... lost in thought."
"Ah!" Fraser replied, as though that answered every damned thing. "Then perhaps I should ask one of the other officers for a lift back to the Consulate? You obviously have a lot of processing to do."
Ray felt a sudden wave of panic rise in his chest at the thought of Fraser leaving and he reached for the parking brake before the Mountie could undo his seat belt. "Oh no you don't, you're not getting out of it that easily, Fraser. We need to talk."
Fraser placed his Stetson on the dashboard and took a deep breath. "I imagine we do, yes."
Before the car had even pulled away from the kerb, Welsh flagged them down. Ray rolled down the window and leaned his arm on the door.
Welsh bent down, looking right past Ray to his partner. "I called Inspector Thatcher, filled her in on what's been happening. Nevertheless, she wants to hear it from your own lips. Sorry, Constable... if it were up to me, you'd be on two days downtime like Ray here." He shrugged apologetically.
"Not your fault, sir," Fraser reassured the lieutenant, rubbing his eyebrow. "It's standard procedure for an officer to deliver a report in person when appropriate."
Welsh nodded and stood up straight, thumping the roof of the car to signify the conversation was over. Ray sighed deeply and drove off, heading for the consulate. The drive was conducted in silence. For some reason, Ray wasn't sure what to say anymore. They had to talk, that much was more than obvious, but not here, not in the car and certainly not until they were both off duty.
Ray pulled up outside the consulate, and for once Fraser didn't complain about how illegally parked they were. They both got out, and Fraser threw Ray a sidelong glance. "You're coming in?"
Ray opened the back door to let Dief out and locked the car. "Yeah, sure. Figured I'd hang around until you finish your debrief, then we can go over to my place, get something to eat, whatever..."
Fraser looked down at his muddy boots and chewed on his lower lip for a moment, which Ray found absolutely riveting. "Ray, the Inspector has no reason to take me off duty. In fact, she will no doubt have extra..."
Ray didn't let him finish. "Hey, you've been through a traumatic experience, Frase. Even the Ice Queen must see that. C'mon, I'll back you up. Partners, remember?"
And with that, Ray ushered Fraser through the consulate door.
"Ah, Constable Fraser, welcome home, sir." Turnbull got up from the desk and greeted his superior with a warm smile. "And Detective Vecchio, welcome to Canada."
Ray hid his smile behind his hand. "Yeah, nice to be back," he muttered, staring at the picture of the Queen hanging on the wall behind Turnbull's head.
"Inspector Thatcher is waiting for you in her office, Sir." Turnbull cast a long look over Fraser's appearance. "Would you like to take a moment to shower and change before I announce you?" Now that he could look at the guy without laughing, Ray saw that Turnbull was actually wrinkling his nose in disgust. They must smell pretty ripe! Good, then Thatcher wouldn't want to spend much time on the de-briefing.
"Nah, he's good. Let's get at'em..."
Ray rapped on Thatcher's door and on hearing her say 'come in' pushed it open and propelled Fraser though, following right behind.
Thatcher was at her desk, filling in some paperwork. She didn't look up until the smell from the two men had her nose wrinkling. "Dear God, Constable Fraser, what have you been rolling in?"
"Horseshit, haha!" Ray interjected, and then felt his face redden at her sharp, disapproving look. "Sorry."
Fraser cleared his throat, the precursor to a long and no doubt detailed missive on their recent adventure, but Thatcher threw her hands up in the air. "Never mind Constable. I got the gist it from Lieutenant Welsh. I merely wanted to see for myself that you were... uninjured." Her eyes swept him from head to foot, taking in his appearance carefully.
Ray's eyes grew wider, and he quickly developed an interest in the carpet rather than let her see his surprise. Because that had sounded like genuine concern coming from the Ice Queen. Was it possible that she felt more for Fraser than just simple lust? Whoa, eye-opener.
"Now, perhaps you would do us all a favour? Take a bath and get into some clean clothes," she continued, waving her hand vaguely in the direction of both men.
"Yes, Sir," Fraser snapped to attention, all business again. "I apologise for my appearance. If you would give me half an hour, I can be ready for duty again..."
Before Ray could make any sort of formal protest at that idea, Thatcher was on her feet and ushering them out of the office.
"That won't be necessary. Lieutenant Welsh has informed me that he has given Detective Vecchio here a few days to... recover from his ordeal." This time it was Ray that got the head to foot treatment, her gaze clearly saying what she thought of Americans and their lack of staying power. "I wouldn't want people thinking that we, at the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, treat our officers like machines. You may have the rest of today off..." and at Ray's cough she added, "... In fact, take the rest of the week. That will be all."
"Thank you, Sir." Fraser nodded and turned on his heels.
Ray grinned and leaned forward, right into her personal space as he walked past her. "I'll make sure he's all pressed and starched again come Monday," he promised, grinning inanely at her wide-eyed look of surprise.
In the hallway, Fraser waited until the office door had closed then turned to Ray. "I'll go and fetch some clean clothes and be with you in a jiffy, Ray."
"S'okay, I'll come with you."
"Wouldn't you be more comfortable here...?"
"I'll come with you."
"The office is rather..."
"How many times do I gotta say this?"
Turnbull made a strange noise, which sounded a little like a cholked chuckle, and both Ray and Fraser turned to see what had him so amused. "Separation Anxiety," he supplied helpfully. "Not uncommon between people who have been living in very close proximity for extended periods of time." Turnbull placed his hands behind his back and adopted a 'parade rest' stance. "Mostly the phenomenon manifests itself when conjoined twins are separated..."
Ray held up one hand to fend off anymore of Turnbull's treatise. He'd had a rough couple of days, he wasn't at all in the mood for one of Turnbull's lectures. "Twins, yeah, good... that's greatness, Turnbull. Only I ain't anxious or nothin', so you can take that smirk off your face before I punch you in the..."
"Ray!" Fraser grabbed him by the arm and hauled him down the corridor and through the door to his tiny, cramped office. Ray muttered under his breath the whole way there.
"...Separation... conjoined-my-ass... I'll give him anxious..."
Fraser closed the door and leaned back against it with a sigh. "He's right Ray. I think we may well be suffering from a degree of separation anxiety. Your unwillingness to leave my side does present evidence for the fact."
Ray flopped down sullenly into Fraser's desk chair and watched him as he opened the closet and began collecting clothing.
"Okay, fine. I'm anxious. Feels weird when you get too far away. I guess it'll pass eventually, huh?"
Fraser hesitated before stuffing clothes into his knapsack. "I imagine so, yes. Although spending more time in each other's company is probably not the best way for us to get past it."
"So, you think we should go our separate ways?" Ray was embarrassed how his voice cracked on that sentence.
Fraser dropped the knapsack to the floor and rubbed the back of his neck. "Probably."
Ray got slowly to his feet. "Okay, I can do that. No problem." He backed towards the door, never taking his eyes off Fraser. "Makes sense, I guess." Although to Ray, it just felt like Fraser was having second thoughts about having that little talk. Truth was, it scared the shit out of Ray too, but he would rather have it done with, out there in the open where they could both deal with it, than stuffed to the back of his subconscious.
With a deep sigh, he turned and walked out of the door, passing Turnbull without even acknowledging him. Turnbull didn't even wait until the consulate doors had closed before he begun spraying room freshener around.
Ray couldn't sit still. He'd tried doing a little bit of cleaning, washed up a pile of dishes that had been in the sink since he and Fraser got kidnapped. He'd made the bed, realised that he could still smell Fraser on the sheets, stripped the bed and done some laundry. He'd made a sandwich, thrown the sandwich in the bin. Now he was staring at the TV and feeling a lot like he wanted to throw something at it.
What good was a couple of days leave when he didn't have anything to do or anyone to do it with? He knew that the bulk of his bad mood had to do with the anxiety whachamacallit... separation anxiety, but knowing the source and being able to deal with it were two different things.
He grabbed the remote and flicked off the TV, then went over to the window and stared out. It was beginning to get dark. Not late enough to start drinking yet but late enough to want to.
He pulled closed the drapes and wandered over to the stereo flicking though his CD collection. He found the one that he'd always played in the old days right after Stella had left, when he was feeling lonely and down.
He put it into the CD drawer and hit the play button, closing his eyes as the music washed over him. This is what he needed, to lose himself in the music. He turned the lights down low and stood in the middle of the room, swaying a little in time to the haunting melody.
In the past, he would have imagined dancing with Stella to music like this, but he was over all that now. He had found some kind of closure. It hadn't been easy letting go of a relationship that had spanned nearly 25 years. If it hadn't been for Fraser's friendship...
And just like that, his thoughts were filled with images of Fraser, of all the crazy insane things they had done in the short time they had known each other, of all the fun they had had. All the fun that was still to be had.
Taking a deep breath, he closed his eyes and began to move again. The music lapped over his senses, easing his taut muscles, relaxing him. His movements became more fluid, more sensual. His feet carried him over the polished wooden floorboards with confidence, trusting his memory to keep him away from furniture.
He turned slowly, letting his head roll back, letting his hips sway in time to the escalating rhythm. The music grew louder, the drum beat more insistent. Ray could feel his heartbeat quicken, his breathing became more rapid as he danced faster, swaying and pivoting around the room.
Was he crazy to think that Fraser needed more from him? Was he crazy to think he could give any more? He was making way too many assumptions based on way too little evidence. And even if Fraser was unexpectedly gay, Ray sure wasn't. He had no idea where all these odd impulses were coming from. And yet, here he was, missing Fraser like crazy and wondering how the hell he would ever be able to sleep in that big double bed alone.
Maybe it was the stupid anxiety thing confusing him, mixing up his feelings for Fraser with his feelings for Stella? He didn't know! He wasn't sure of any damned thing anymore!
The music built to a crescendo, and Ray threw his arms up, letting his back arch with the final sustained note. He sunk to the floor, panting with exertion, wiping sweat from his eyes.
The silence seemed to echo inside his head. He got slowly to his feet, stretching out his abused muscles. There was no point worrying over this until he'd had a chance to speak to Fraser. They would have their little talk, get things cleared up and maybe get back to normal... no hard feelings. Partners and friends.
Reaching for the phone, he hesitated. Fraser was gonna think he was really pathetic if he called only a few hours after they had parted. Like he was a love-sick teenager or something. Instead, he called for a pizza and then headed off for a quick shower.
Ray was still in the shower when he heard banging at the door. He wrapped himself up in a towel and leaped out of the tub yelling "All right already, gimme a minute here." He found his pants lying on the floor of the bathroom and dug out his wallet, thinking that Sandor must already have had the damned pizza prepared when he called, cuz that had to be the quickest delivery time yet. No way was he getting this one for free!
He threw open the door and blinked at Fraser, standing in the hallway with a knapsack slung over his shoulder. Fraser smiled hesitantly, shifting the knapsack to the other shoulder and staring down at his boots. "I thought perhaps we should do it incrementally?" he asked hopefully.
Ray wasn't sure what that meant exactly, but so long as it involved Fraser staying over at his apartment, then he could get behind it. Now that Fraser was here, he might even be able to get some fucking sleep!
"Get in here before I freeze my nuts off," Ray grinned happily, tugging Fraser across the threshold.
"Right you are, Ray."
Ray wasn't at all surprised when Fraser followed him right into his bedroom. The Mountie had never had much concept of the idea of personal boundaries before their latest adventure. Now, it was like he was stuck to Ray like glue.
"You bring comfortable clothes with ya?" Ray asked, eyeing the tightly buttoned-up red serge. Fraser had obviously taken time to shower back at the consulate, but why in God's name he'd then donned the uncomfortable uniform was anyone's guess.
Maybe the uniform was a sort of 'safety blanket' thing. Maybe he wore it like a mask or a shield. Ray understood that. Wasn't he using the Vecchio identity in a similar way? But they were off duty now, it was just them; Ray and Benton, so couldn't Fraser lose the mask for a while? He tugged open his underwear drawer and began hunting for his favourite downtime shorts. They were baggy and candy-striped, the elastic so worn that they barely stayed on his hips, but they were still his first choice when comfort was a necessity. Behind him, he heard Fraser unfasten his knapsack and empty the contents onto Ray's bed. It never ceased to amaze him how much stuff Fraser could cram into that bag.
"Oh dear," Fraser said, and Ray turned to find his friend contemplating the pile of clothing on the bed with a frown, his balled fists resting on his hips.
"Problem?" Ray asked, tugging his shorts out of the drawer and closing it with his hip.
Fraser lifted each piece of neatly folded clothing and examined them closely. "Well Ray, it appears that I forgot to bring any undergarments with me." Dropping the pile of clothes back onto the bed, Fraser looked at Ray and shrugged.
"You could always go commando," Ray suggested, loving the blush that rose over the collar of the red serge. "Or I could lend you something...?"
Fraser looked at the candy-striped shorts still clutched in Ray's hand and cleared his throat. "Would you have anything in white?"
Ray glanced down at his choice of underwear and felt his own colour rise. So, they were a bit on the bright side? So what?
Ray dropped the shorts onto the bed and began rifling through his drawer again. Black... green... navy blue... orange/red/pink stripes... Tazmanian Devil and Bugs Bunny... he stuffed those right to the back before Fraser got a look at them.
"White's not really my colour, Frase," he hedged, finding a pair of soft grey jersey boxer briefs that he'd never even worn. They had been a present from Gretchen, and she'd been way off in her estimate of his size. Still, they would definitely fit Fraser. "These do?"
Ray tossed the boxer's to Fraser who caught them out of the air and shook them out. His eyes met Ray's over the waistband as he stretched them to full expansion "These are yours?" he asked dubiously.
"Don't ask." Ray scooped up his candy-striped shorts and turned his back, letting his towel fall to the floor. He knew that Fraser was still looking when he heard the other man's sharp intake of breath, and a small smile tugged at the corner of his mouth.
Sitting down on the edge of the bed, he pulled the shorts on, and tried to wipe the goofy grin off his face. It was good to know he could figuratively knock the legs out from under the Mountie every now and then. And, he mused, it wouldn't hurt to collect some more evidence of an attraction before he embarrassed himself when they finally got around to having their talk.
By the time he had pulled on his shorts and his ratty old sweatpants, Fraser had laid out a pair of jeans and a blue Henley that matched the shade of the denim perfectly on the bed. He was unfastening his belt, as Ray turned round. "Fraser, we're supposed to be chillin' out. You know, kicking back, relaxing. Don't you have anything more casual?"
"More casual than jeans?" Fraser asked in confusion. "Trust me, Ray, in comparison to my dress uniform, these jeans are the height of comfort."
Ray shouldered into his favourite black sleeveless t-shirt. "I guess. But don't you ever want to let everything just, you know, hang loose?"
Fraser began unbuttoning the tunic "In the Territories, Ray, things that hung loose had a tendency to freeze off."
"Freak!" With a sigh and a shake of his head, Ray left Fraser to change and headed into the living room. He flicked on the TV and found the sports channel. The Bears were playing the Lions, which might be good or there was an ice hockey game on.
Fraser came out of the bedroom a moment later looking totally amazing in his blue casuals and slumped down on the couch beside Ray.
"You want snacks?" Ray asked, "or wait for the pizza?"
Before Fraser could answer, the door buzzer sounded and this time, it really was his delivery. By the time he got back to the couch bearing pizza, beer and bottled water, Fraser was watching the hockey and seemed to have hidden the remote.
Ray let his breathing even out and risked a sideways glance at his partner who appeared to have fallen asleep. They had eaten the pizza, a bag of salted pretzels, and a bowl of popcorn before Fraser had begun softly snoring.
"Frase?" he whispered, unwilling to waken the Mountie until absolutely necessary. When Fraser didn't stir, Ray leaned forwards and allowed himself the luxury of watching his friend sleep.
Fraser was beautiful, no other way to describe the chiselled jaw, high cheekbones, straight nose and long black eyelashes. His upper lip was thin but the lower was full and looked soft. Ray gulped and forced his eyes away from dangerous waters.
Three days ago, he'd never thought of kissing another guy. Now he could think of nothing but! Almost as if, once his head had accepted the possibility, the floodgates had opened. But they hadn't had their talk yet, and it was still far from given that Fraser wanted the same things as Ray. Not that Ray even knew what he wanted, so staring at his partner's mouth was a no-no. He forced his eyes higher.
Fraser's hair was so dark brown that it was almost black. Ray's fingers twitched as he wondered if it would be as soft to the touch as it looked this close up. Right now, it wasn't even close to its normal rigid style, and Ray wondered if he'd forgotten to comb it after his shower. It curled around his ears and a lock had fallen onto his forehead. There was a tuft sticking up into the air, which Ray felt compelled to flatten down.
Just as his fingers made contact, Fraser's eyes blinked open. "Ray?" he croaked, looking confused and a little scared and a whole bunch of other stuff.
"Fraser, we gotta talk," Ray whispered. He couldn't put this off any longer, so with determination, Ray followed through with his hand and ran it quickly through Fraser's unruly hair.
Fraser blinked "I, um... yes, very well."
Ray watched the tuft of hair spring back up, and decided that he would just leave it like that. This conversation was going to be hard enough, without the added distraction of having his hands anywhere near Fraser during it. He sat back, and as an afterthought, tucked both his hand under his butt. No telling what they would get up to left to their own devices.
"Okay, so..." Ray licked lips gone suddenly dry. "First off, I wanted to thank you."
Fraser blinked again, sitting up a little straighter. Perhaps this was not what he'd been expecting to hear, but Ray needed to start off slow and build towards the harder stuff.
"I mean, you didn't have to... you know, go along with any of it. I know there was more to it than just the challenge and the handcuffs, so don't lie to me..."
"I have no intention of lying to you," Fraser said solemnly. "And you're right. There was more to it."
Ray took a deep breath and looked Fraser right in the eye. Time for the truth between them. The whole truth and nothing but the truth. "How much more?" he asked quietly.
Fraser frowned, looking down and his hands clasped tightly together in his lap. "Ray, you're my partner. You're my best friend. That alone should have been enough to justify my desire to see this through to the end with you."
Fraser's voice was tight and rigidly controlled. Ray's traitorous hands refused to stay trapped and he reached out covering Fraser's hand with his own. "Maybe, but there's more, right?"
"There's... more. But before I go any farther, I want to assure you that nothing has changed between us. I am still, first and foremost, your friend. Anything more is merely... frosting on the igloo."
Ray made a face half way between confusion and understanding and nodded. He was going blue from holding his breath, waiting for Fraser to give him a signal here, cuz he still wanted that kiss, more than anything else in the world, he wanted that.
"You make me feel alive, Ray," Fraser said softly.
Ray blinked. He wasn't exactly sure what he had been expecting, but this came out of the left field. "Huh?" he said stupidly, watching Fraser's face slowly light up from within.
"Before I came to Chicago, I was living a half-life. Searching for my father's murderer gave me a reason to go on, and being here, working with Ray Vecchio gave me a reason to get up every day, but it wasn't until I met you that I truly began to live again."
Ray leaned forward a little, hearing the words, but not fully comprehending them. He'd never been anyone's reason for living before. Not even Stella would have claimed that. He might have been her reason for swearing most time, her reason for clothes shopping. But for living? Nah.
"You sparked something inside me, Ray. Something that had been long-dead. Only when I was working with you, chasing down some malfeasant at your side, or even just sharing a simple meal like we did tonight, only then did I truly feel alive."
"That's... that's a big thing!" Ray said, voice tinged with awe. Big, and scary. This whole thing was big and scary and he hadn't really given it the thought it deserved. He was ashamed to admit that he'd been waiting for Fraser to make it all right. He'd put all of the onus on his friend, and now that Fraser was out there, laying it all on the line, Ray was finally beginning to see just how big this was.
Fraser loved him.
Fraser was IN love with him.
And that meant more than kissing and sleeping together in the same bed. That meant more than waking up with him and sharing meals and arguing and watching TV together.
That meant sex.
"Ray, you've gone white! Are you unwell?"
"I'm... I'm good, I'm..."
Ray flopped back against the back of the couch and closed his eyes. "Okay, I'm a little freaked out," he admitted softly.
"Understood. Perhaps this was all too much for one day?"
It was too much, but it wasn't nearly enough either. Ray really wanted to stop with the talking now, give his brain a chance to process this information, but he also needed more facts. Fraser had told him the why but now he need to know the how.
"Frase, answer me one thing, okay? Do you want to have sex with me?"
Fraser's eyes widened and he flushed red. "Now?" he croaked.
"What? NO! Not now... I mean eventually, sometime in the future. Is sex in your long term plans for us?"
Fraser had gotten to his feet and was staring at his boots again. "I confess that I hadn't really thought that far ahead. I would be content just to be your partner. But someday..."
"Okay. Great. That's great," Ray got to his feet too and placed both hands firmly on Fraser's shoulders. "I just needed to know where it was going, Frase." He started to turn away.
Ray froze. "Yeah?"
"Is that something you want too?"
And right there, that was the million-dollar question. He turned back to Fraser and kinda fell right into the open, warm gaze of his very best friend. "Honestly?" he asked taking a step closer, tracking the bob of Fraser's Adam's apple as he gulped nervously.
"Always," Fraser replied.
Ray took a deep breath. "You make me feel alive too, Fraser."
That was all the answer he could give. He wasn't sure it was enough, but it was honest. Fraser's eyes fluttered closed and he sighed, feathering Ray's face with his breath.
It was one of those timeless moments, where you felt like every action, every word was going to have far reaching consequences. Fraser seemed to sway towards him, eyes opening just wide enough to see where he was going, and his fingers came up, traced the outline of Ray's lips, eyes following the movement hungrily, and Ray knew then that they were going to kiss.
This was what he'd been waiting for. He held his breath as Fraser's mouth descended, fear and excitement mixing in his belly. Every muscle tensed up with anticipation. And then Fraser stopped, inches, no centimetres from Ray's mouth and dear God, he licked his lips. Ray felt the blast of hot, moist air against his own lips and he gave in to the inevitable. He tilted his head a fraction and closed those scant centimetres.
The first brush of mouths was brief and tentative. Fraser drew back, scanning Ray's face for any sign of disgust. Ray gazed at him, eyes flying over the familiar features of his friend and seeing him in a whole different way. This wasn't 'my partner, Fraser', he was looking at any more, it was 'my partner, Fraser.'
Then Fraser was pulling in a deep breath, filling those big lungs up with air, and Ray smiled. This was going to be a good one, this was going to be a doozy of a kiss and if he ran out of oxygen half way through, well, Fraser could share some of that excess lung capacity with him again.
Fraser's fingers slipped into his hair, and maybe it was his imagination, but he could swear he heard the crackle of electricity, but then Fraser's mouth was on him again and this time, there was no hesitancy, no holding back. He was being thoroughly and deeply kissed and it felt so good that it made him gasp, his heart began thumping, adrenalin flooded his body and he surged forward, trembling and panting into Fraser's open mouth.
Fraser groaned, pulling back and staring into Ray's dazed eyes. "Oh dear God, Ray, I'm sorry. I didn't expect... I wasn't trying to..."
Ray grinned like a drunkard. "Wasn't expecting it to be so hot, huh?"
"I really didn't know what to expect," Fraser murmured.
And suddenly Ray could see that Fraser was just as freaked out by all this as he was.
It had been a long day. It had been three long days actually, and they were both in need of some sleep and some reflection time, but Ray already had a lot of answers. Kissing Fraser wasn't just something he could cope with. It was something he could seriously get behind. Kissing Fraser was hot, and sexy and it turned him on. The evidence of that twitched with interest inside his candy striped downtime shorts, and okay, that freaked him the hell out. But it was time to start thinking with his head again... his other head!
"Frase, can we, you know, can we just go to bed... to sleep that is, and maybe talk about this some more in the morning?"
Fraser looked beyond relieved, letting out the rest of his stockpiled oxygen in one tight whoosh. "An excellent suggestion, Ray. I brought my bedroll with me..."
Whoa Nellie! Ray might not be ready for any of the physical stuff yet but he wanted Fraser near. 'Within touching distance' near.
"Nu-huh. You're sleeping in my bed, Fraser, and so long as you keep your hands to yourself, we ain't got a problem."
Fraser was trying to look indignant as he followed Ray into the bedroom. "If I keep my hands to myself?"
"Oh yeah, no snuggling, no touching, no rubbing or inadvertently brushing against. Think you can handle that?" Ray tugged off his sweatpants and tossed them over his shoulder.
"Oh, I'm sure I can control myself, Ray," Fraser drawled, eyeing the candy striped boxers with distain.
"I'll use the bathroom first then."
"As you wish." Fraser was already turning down the sheets.
Once behind the closed bathroom door, Ray began experiencing what could only be described as a major freak out! So long as he was within a couple of inches of Fraser, everything was rosy, but the moment the Mountie was out of sight, his brain kicked in again, with its annoying questions and concerns.
He spent a good few moments with his forehead pressed against the wood. This was insane. What the hell was he thinking? Sex with Fraser? How screwed was that? And how screwed was he if he was even considering it? Before he could really get into the whole hyperventilating thing, Ray began running the faucet and splashed his face with cold water.
Things learned today: He liked to kiss his partner, and he was fairly sure his partner liked to kiss him right back.
He made his partner feel alive, and unless that tingly feeling he got every time Fraser was near was just indigestion, then it was definitely mutual.
Fraser was in love with him and...
Okay, that right there - that was where he stalled, cuz despite the kissing and the tingling and the whole freaking-out-about-the-sex thing, he just couldn't make his brain go there. The 'L' word? That was the biggest deal of all.
Fraser was right - this had been more than enough for one day. But right now? Right now, he was going to go climb into bed with Benton and sleep for a thousand years.
Ray stood beneath the cascade of hot water and closed his eyes. Felt good to be clean. Beyond good... felt great. The quick shower he'd had the night before had gotten him surface clean, but had been cut short by Fraser's arrival and he hadn't had the chance to really wallow.
Outside the shower curtain, he could hear Fraser moving around the bathroom, cleaning his teeth, washing his face, collecting up their clothes and putting them in the hamper.
Ray smiled. Three days ago, he would have found it weird to have Fraser in here while he showered, but now... now it seemed like the most natural thing in the world.
Last night, in bed, they had managed to keep about a foot of space between them all night. Ray had woken to find Fraser lying on his side looking at him, a half-smile curving the corners of his mouth. "Good morning," he'd said brightly as Ray stretched. "Would you care to shower first?"
"You saying I'm stinky?"
"Well, I wouldn't go that far. Pungent perhaps?"
"Pungent? I haven't had coffee yet and you're hitting me with vocabulary already?"
"Apologies, Ray. I'll remember that in the future, I should supply you with at least two cups of coffee before I attempt to have a half-way sensible conversation with you."
Ray yawned and rubbed his eyes. "Benton buddy, all I heard there was the word coffee. So either you go make some while I shower or die a horrible death."
And it had been as easy as that. No embarrassment, no awkward silences, just the same old same old.
Ray finished showering and didn't bother to switch off the water, he merely stuck his head round the curtain and wiped the water out of his eyes with his hands.
"Pass me a towel Frase, will ya?"
Fraser picked up a hand towel from the pile in the corner and held it out, with a small smile.
Ray looked down at the scrap of material and felt himself go red. There was no way that would cover him, and the fact that Fraser thought it might, was a little hurtful. Then another thought occurred. Maybe Fraser didn't want it to cover him?
He took the towel and used it to dry his face. Then threw it back to Fraser. "Bigger towel, please?" he grinned, his eyes taking in the large fluffy towel Fraser was wearing, slung low around his hips. That towel would be nice. And it would be warm too...
"Ah, right you are Ray." Fraser selected a bath sheet and stood there, holding it out like he expected Ray to just step out of the shower and allow his partner to wrap him up in the fluffy thing.
Ray knew he must be scarlet by now. He clutched the shower curtain tighter and stared at the towel until Fraser took mercy on him and turned his face away.
Ray grabbed the towel and stepped inelegantly out of the tub, wrapping it tightly around his waist. Pointedly, he didn't look back at Fraser, even when he heard Fraser's towel land on the bathroom floor with a soft thwump.
Instead he stared at the steaming cup of coffee Fraser had placed on the closed toilet seat along with a box of Smarties. Such a kind and thoughtful Mountie. Ray scooped up the Smarties, dropped them into the mug then set about getting rid of his four-day beard. He washed off the foam, brushed his teeth and cleaned the sink, half listening to the sounds of Fraser showering and half listening to the tiny voice inside his head while he drank the coffee.
The voice had begun whispering to him in the shower. It was annoyingly insistent, asking the same question over and over. You're freaking about having sex with Fraser. When are you going to tell him, you fucking coward?
Just then, the bathroom went quiet as Fraser switched off the shower and a moment later tugged open the curtain. He stood there, dripping wet, his hair gone black and shiny and plastered to his scalp. He was rubbing the water out of his eyes, so was unaware of Ray's eyes on him, tracking a small trickle of soapy water as it meandered down his chest, stomach and...
Whoa, down boy! Ray bent, picked up the discarded towel from the floor and held it out, tying not to look at anything below Fraser's chin.
"Thank you kindly, Ray," Fraser took the towel and stepped out of the tub, shaking his head like Dief after an impromptu swim. Ray stepped back but failed to avoid getting splattered.
"Is that your telephone ringing, Ray?" Fraser asked, cocking his head to one side, adding to the whole 'dog' imagery, but now Ray could hear the phone too. Checking his watch he groaned. The only person that ever called him before nine on his day off was Lt. Welsh.
Ray replaced the receiver with a loud and weary sigh. How come half the division had to come down with the flu on his downtime? Couldn't they cut him a little fucking slack?
"Benton buddy, I gotta go into the station. Make yourself some breakfast and just chill out, okay?"
He turned to find Fraser already fully dressed in his uniform, spick and span and ready for inspection. How the hell did he do that? Was 'speed-dressing' on page two of the RCMP training manual, right after 'How to Light a Fire with Paper-clips and Chewing-gum', and right before 'Fifty Nifty Phrases to Drive Your American Partner Nuts'?
"If you have no objection, Ray, I'd prefer to come with you."
Ray managed to make his shrug look nonchalant as he turned and headed for his bedroom to dress. Spending time with Fraser was all he really wanted right now, but given the choice between getting all sweaty and intimate, and having fun kicking bad guy's butt, there was no contest. When he came back out of the bedroom, Fraser was sitting on the couch waiting.
"Ray, before we head out, I wanted to ask you something."
Ray flopped down next to him and began to pull on his boots. "If it's about the case, all I know is that it's a hostage situation in some lab. Welsh will have more for us when we get to the station."
"No, it's not about the case," Fraser said softly. "It's about you and I." Before Ray could make a hasty retreat, Fraser grabbed his wrist. "You seem very nervous and while I'm not that familiar with Chicago dating practices, I assume it's because you're waiting for me to... what's the phrase? Jump you bones?"
Ray's choked off bark of laughter brought tears to his eyes. Fucking insane freak of a Mountie! Okay, so he'd hit the nail on the head, but you didn't just come out with shit like that!
"I assure you Ray, I'm just as uncomfortable as you are about leaping too quickly into a physical relationship. I was hoping we could take things slowly?"
Ray was gaping like a fish out of water. "Slowly? You want... well that's... I can do slow. Slow is good!"
Fraser smiled warmly and got to his feet, drawing Ray with him. "Thank you, Ray."
"You're ah, you're welcome, Benton buddy."
"You can call me Ben if you want."
Wow. "Ben?" He tried the name out and found he liked it. Only people really close to Fraser got to call him that. Ray kinda liked the idea of being close enough to have that privilege. "Okay, but how about I only use that when we're off duty?" Ray smiled, thinking that it would be a nice way to keep things separate and neatly compart-whatsit. Compart-mesmerised.
"That would be acceptable," Fraser replied.
Ray stuck his head in through the open door of Welsh's office and let his eyebrows do his talking and even that took more energy than he seemed to possess right now.
Welsh held out a case file and Ray took it listlessly.
"Sorry about this, Ray," Welsh shrugged, pointing at the manila file with his chewed pencil. "Got less than a skeleton staff here or I wouldn't have called you in. Did you manage to sleep at all?"
"Like a log," Ray sighed, flicking open the file and scanning the information.
Welsh peered over the top of his specs at Fraser, hovering in the doorway. "Ah, Constable, you're here too. Why am I not surprised?"
Fraser obviously took that as an invitation to enter, and sat down next to Ray, who handed him the file, and gave a brief synopsis. "Animal rights activists broke into the chemical testing lab on 84th and started releasing all the lab animals. Uniforms are on the scene but there's a hostage situation."
"Our negotiating team are all down with 'flu," Welsh sighed, "which means you two are all we got. We need to get this one squared away as quickly as possible. Think you can handle it?"
Ray grinned. "Quicker it's done, quicker Fraser and me can get back to bed."
He realised what he's said a split second too late by the way Welsh cleared his throat.
"I mean... what I meant to say was... Fraser and me... we both need..."
"What you and your partner need, detective, is none of my business. What I need, is to get this case wrapped. Get outta here. Don't come back without an arrest."
Fraser got hastily to his feet. "Understood, Sir."
Ray practically shoved him out of the door. Once back in the bullpen with Welsh's door firmly closed, Ray let out the breath he'd been holding. "I don't fucking believe I said that!"
Fraser placed his Stetson firmly on his head. "Oh, I believe it, Ray." And with that, he turned and walked out, leaving Ray to figure out if that had been an insult or not.
"Jesus! Can someone catch that fucking monkey?" Ray hollered to no one in particular as the terrified animal shrieked and threw another roll of toilet paper at the group of confused officers, trying to round up what was left of the lab animals.
"Ape." Fraser supplied helpfully, ducking to avoid being hit in the head by flying Kleenex. "The chimpanzee is from the ape family. This particular chimp appears to be...."
"I don't care if its an ape, a monkey or Tarzan, Lord of the fucking Jungle himself, Fraser, get it back in its cage!"
Fraser nodded and turned to try and help the others with a cheery, "As you wish."
The man that Ray was trying to interview, who had identified himself as Louis Smith, the lab technician responsible for the welfare of all the animals, tried to get to his feet but Ray shoved him roughly back into the orange plastic chair.
"Not you! You have a head wound and besides, I ain't finished with the questioning yet. So, let's start from the top, shall we?"
The guy moved the wad of Kleenex that he had been pressing to the gash on his forehead, examined it closely, refolded it and applied it once again to the wound. "I told ya, I'm feeding the rats when wham, someone hits me upside the head."
"Wham?" Ray repeated, ducking another salvo from the terrified and enraged ape.
"Sure - wham. Right to the back of my head." Louis' other hand reached up to finger the large lump and he winced. "So, I black out, and the next thing I know - it's a zoo - all the animals are out of their cages, and some chick in a balaclava is trying to shove Jacko out the window."
"Jacko?" Ray repeated sceptically, sighing deeply.
"Sure, the chimp. Jacko. That's his name. He don't like being manhandled, right? So he's squealing like a banshee and pissing all over the place. It's what he does when he gets scared, he pees...."
"Don't we all?" Ray muttered under his breath, but Louis didn't seem to have heard the interruption at all.
"...and the racket he's makin', it upsets the others and they all start with the squealing and the hissing and the..."
"Pissing, yeah, yeah, I get the picture," Ray interrupted quickly. "So then what happens?"
"I try to get up, but the fucking insane bitch hits me again." Louis pointed to the gash on his head. "Hurts like hell. Jacko gets away and starts swinging from the light. It's like a disco in here, like the sixties all over again - flashing lights, noise, me out of it, lying on the floor..."
"If you can remember it, you weren't there, right?" Ray sighed. "Then what?"
"Well, I hear the sirens, so I lay low. Figure the cops will sort it all out, and I don't get paid nearly enough to play hero. Another chick comes in and the two of them try to get out of the window, but Jacko's real upset now and he's got the supply cupboard open. He throws shit when he gets upset, see?"
"Shit? He throws shit?"
"No not... he throws stuff, all sorts of things. Though actually, yeah! Now you come to mention it, he did once throw actual shit when Professor Cowes tried to ...."
"Okay, fine, he's throwing stuff at the 'sisters of mercy'. So they pull a gun on you, right?"
Ray closed his notebook, although he hadn't actually made a single note in it. By the time he and Fraser had arrived at the scene, the uniforms had the situation under control. The two young ladies were already cuffed and in the van.
"Can we take a look at that head wound now?" A paramedic asked, and Ray waved them forward. He didn't need anything more from Louis at the moment. The only remaining problem was the animals. Some had actually made it out of the building and Animal Control was hot on their case.
Ray laid a comforting hand on Louis shoulder as he took a moment to watch the entertainment. Several uniformed officers where still chasing a handful of rats, one large white rabbit and Jacko the kleenex-throwing Chimp all over the large lab.
Fraser, hat askew and red serge uniform smeared with unidentifiable substances, skidded past in pursuit.
"Does the ape bite, Mr Smith?" Fraser asked breathlessly and it was all Ray could do to hide his smile behind his hand as the ape in question swung by overhead, swooping down to snatch Fraser's hat right off his head.
Fraser yelled, neatly changing direction and leaping up onto a counter top. "Relinquish that immediately. It's the property of the RCMP!"
Dief, who had been sitting quietly in a corner watching the proceeding with confusion, chose that precise moment to being barking, and all hell broke loose once again.
Ray's head was pounding. He reached for his gun, released the safety and fired once into the ceiling.
Every eye in the room swivelled round to look at him.
"That is enough!" Ray yelled, re-holstering his piece. "I'm having a very bad day. I would like to go home now and get completely shit-faced in the comfort of my own living room. YOU..." he waved a finger menacingly at the chimp, hanging upside down form a light fitting with Fraser's Stetson in its mouth. "Get back in your fucking cage or I will shoot you in the head."
The chimp opened its mouth, let the hat fall to the floor and then gracefully dropped into the waiting arms of Louis the lab tech, who bundled him quickly into his cage before the insane cop could make good his threat.
Ray looked around in satisfaction as the last of the rats was deposited into the large tank. "Better," he nodded.
Fraser appeared before him, looking uncharacteristically mussed and sweaty from the chase. "I believe that's them all squared away, Ray. Do you want to..." Fraser's voice cracked a little, "... accompany the activists to the station?"
"Sure, wanna come along?"
Ray saw a beaker of water on one of the tables and handed it to Fraser who gulped it down gratefully. "Oh, well yes, that would be a most welcome distraction, Ray. Thank you kindly."
Ray had been in interrogation room three for over an hour with chick number one, who had so far refused to even give her name. He was getting no-where fast, and had decided that maybe, just maybe, Fraser would get better results. An hour locked in here with Fraser and his fucking Inuit tales and cheery banter would have her singing like a nightingale. And if that failed, there was always Francesca. She'd been known to crack the hardest of nuts with her mangling of the Chicago hard-man lingo.
Things were not going as he'd planned though. Through the one-way glass of the interrogation room, he watched the proceedings with mounting horror.
"You got any concept of how many animals a week suffer so that a bunch of bleached bimbos can smear their mouths with the latest shade of lipstick?" the red-haired female activist was saying, her eyes shining with fervour as she stared the Mountie down. "You ever seen what goes on in these labs, Constable? You ever witnessed something like that?"
"Oh God, please, stop!" Fraser wailed, head falling into his hands as huge sobs wracked his body. Ray couldn't believe his fucking eyes. He'd been across the table from more than one activist in his career, and he knew the way it was played. She had barely had to hit him with the basics and already Fraser had folded.
The redhead was looking faintly confused, too. Clearly a veteran campaigner, she hadn't expected the enemy to crack quite as effectively and as loudly as this. She reached out a tentative hand and rested it on his shoulder. "Wow, you're one of us? Look, man, I'm really sorry. You want some Kleenex or something?"
Ray shook his head. Fraser was quite simply sobbing his heart out, and it made no sense. It was always Ray that freaked when they had to visit the morgue. Fraser had looked into the face of death and never once flinched. He'd questioned the victims of vicious rapes and parents whose children had been kidnapped or killed, elderly ladies who'd been mugged. Sure, he sometimes looked shaken afterwards but this...
Unable to take another minute of it, Ray collected a uniform to stand guard and slammed into the interrogation room, hauling his wailing colleague out into the men's room across the hall.
"Fraser, what the fuck is up with you? Why the water works?"
Fraser wiped his snotty nose on his sleeve and looked down in horror at the mess. "My God, Ray, what sort of life do those poor creatures have? Why do we allow it?"
Ray grabbed a handful of toilet paper from the stall and thrust it into Fraser's hand when it looked like he was about to besmirch the other sleeve of his normally pristine uniform. "Fucked if I know buddy. Jeez - where is this coming from? You on a period or something?"
"What? Period - Hell Ray, I'm serious here. We have to DO something. It can't go on!" And then he was off again, wailing into the wadded Kleenex. Ray had no idea what the hell he was supposed to do.
"Awww Ben, come on buddy. Listen, I'll look into it, okay? There's probably a fund or something. We can make a donation."
Fraser peered at him though red rimmed eyes.
"It's not like we can do much else, Frase, what with it being a Government sponsored research facility and us being officers of the law."
"But it's so wrong, Ray. Can't we... I don't know, isn't there anything...?"
"Like what? Chain ourselves to a railing or something? Can't see that going down too well with Welsh, can you?" Ray wasn't sure, but Fraser appeared to be calming down a little. Looked a lot like a man coming down from a drug high.
"But if we turn our back on things that are wrong, just because they are inconvenient or difficult, what manner of men are we?" Fraser demanded. "The question is not whether we will die, but how we will live. And I for one want to die knowing that I did the right thing..."
"Whoa - who said anything about dying? Was that Milton?"
"Joan Borysenko, actually."
Ray grabbed some more Kleenex and observed Fraser closely as the man blew his nose.
Never in all the time that he'd known Fraser had he seen the man so much as shed one tear. This was... this was really fucking weird. It was seriously messing with his head, because he wanted to give some comfort, but wasn't sure what would be appropriate.
He took a faltering step forward, one hand coming up to, what, squeeze Fraser's shoulder? Ruffle his hair? He had no idea. But whatever he had been about to do seemed inconsequential when he got himself an armful of Mountie. Fraser threw himself forward and Ray's arms came up automatically, wrapping around the wide expanse of serge covered back.
"Fraser! Shit! What's gotten into you?"
Fraser buried his face in Ray's neck and sobbed inconsolably. Any moment now, someone would come in and see him standing here cuddling his partner. Ray felt Fraser snuffling against his neck and a wave of tenderness broke over him.
So what, if someone saw? So what? Fuck 'em. If he wanted to cuddle his partner in the men's room, he would damned well do it!
Finally, Fraser seemed to calm down a little and Ray drew back. "Listen, I'm gonna take you back to the Consulate, Ben, cuz um, you're acting kinda weird even for you. How 'bout you wash your face while I get someone to finish the paperwork, huh?"
"Okay, Ray," Fraser mumbled in a small, child-like voice. Oh boy, there was something really wrong here, and Ray was gonna get to the bottom of it if it killed him.
By the time he pulled up outside the Consulate, Fraser seemed to have gotten a grip on himself. Although his face was still white and streaked with tears, at least he wasn't wailing anymore, for which Ray was inordinately pleased.
Ray put on the parking brake and turned in his seat to face his friend. "We're here," he said softly, giving Fraser's shoulder a little shake. Fraser seemed to draw back from some far away place and blinked.
"Oh, right you are, Ray," he rubbed absently at his eyebrow, then finally his red-rimed eyes met Ray's. "About my behaviour earlier at the station... I ... I don't know what on earth possessed me."
Ray let his hand stay where it was, kneading Fraser's tense shoulder lightly as he spoke. "Hey, you're human, okay? Those two Amazons did a number on you is all. They got under your skin. All it proves is that you have a heart, and you care. S'no big deal."
"But Ray, I... I've never felt so sad in my whole life! Not even when my mother and father died. Not even when Victoria... not even then!"
Fraser was talking to the windshield now, unable to meet Ray's concerned gaze. "You want me to come in for a while? We could watch some curling or something. Think you need the company."
Fraser nodded once, reaching for his hat from the back seat. "Thank you, yes. I think that would be wise. I'm afraid I don't feel quite myself right now."
Inside the Consulate, all was quiet. It was a few minutes past close of business and Turnbull was nowhere in sight. Fraser showed Ray into the Drawing room and went to get changed out of his uniform into something more comfortable.
Ray messed around with the remote, flicking from one station to another, until he found a baseball game on ESPN. He was just getting comfortable when Turnbull stuck his head around the Drawing Room door.
"Constable Fraser, I was just about to make some tea, would you care for a cup?" Turnbull noticed that it was in fact Ray slumped on the couch and his eyes narrowed a fraction. "Oh, it's you. I'm afraid we don't have any beer to offer you, detective."
"What's that supposed to mean? You think all I drink is beer? I can do tea. Bring it on."
"Really, detective there's no need to..." Turnbull began backing out of the room, but Fraser had now arrived on the scene and was blocking the exit with his body.
"I believe you owe Ray a proper apology, constable. Your attitude towards him is nothing short of belligerent."
"Fraser, it's fine. Leave it." Ray was already losing interest. He slumped back down on the couch and began flicking though channels again.
"I certainly will not leave it, Ray. Constable Turnbull was rude to my friend for no reason, and I for one want to hear him apologise."
Turnbull took a step back from the waves of anger radiating from Fraser and turned to face Ray. He clasped his hands behind his back and cleared his throat. "Detective Vecchio, I meant no offence, and if I caused any, I humbly apologise." Before waiting for a response, he wheeled back to face Fraser again, "However, my surprise at seeing the detective here was what prompted my 'outburst'. Consular rules dictate that no unauthorised personnel will be permitted..."
"I'm aware of Consular rules, Turnbull. But this is also my home. If I want to invite a friend round to watch television with me, then I will do so. And no rules or regulations will stand in my way."
Ray got slowly to his feet. He had never seen Fraser this angry in his life. Sure, Fraser was capable of showing irritation, and perhaps, occasionally he let Ray see just how pissed off he was by raising his voice, or, God forbid, his eyebrow, but this? This barely controlled fury was new. And considering his earlier emotional state, it was also very worrying.
"Fraser, c'mon. It's all right. Been a long day, and we're all a bit punchy. Back off, okay, buddy?"
Turnbull was looking like he wanted to get the hell out of the building and on a plane back to Yukonsville and never look back. But Fraser still blocked the doorway, and his rage was still thunderous.
"I don't think so, Ray. I've just about had it up to here with supercilious..."
"Superwhat?" Ray interrupted.
"...paper-pushers whose idea of a good time is polishing brasses and sorting laundry."
Turnbull's eyes widened and his jaw dropped open. Ray wasn't quite quick enough to get between them, Fraser had launched himself right at Turnbull, spluttering indignantly about politeness and Maintaining the Right or some shit.
Things deteriorated from there. The two Mounties went down in a heap in the hallway, and Ray couldn't have pried them apart with a tire-iron. They rolled about on the floor, wrestling for the upper hand, until finally Fraser managed to pin Turnbull to the cold tiles and land one good punch to his jaw. Turnbull's head lolled about and Ray saw his chance.
Grabbing Fraser by the collar, he hauled him off the prone Constable and propelled him towards the front door. One glance over his shoulder, confirmed that Turnbull was relatively uninjured. "He's um, really not himself, Turnbull. There's something queer going on. I need to get him to a doctor."
Turnbull staggered to his feet, tugging the hem of his rumpled tunic down. "You do that, detective. Meanwhile I shall be filing an official complaint."
"Jeez, wait up, Frase. Where's the fucking fire?"
Fraser had point blank refused to get into the car and had taken off towards the park instead.
"I'm sorry, Ray, I'm just so vexed at his rudeness."
Trotting along at his side Ray couldn't help but smile. "Vexed? That was you being vexed was it? Well, God help us all if you ever actually lose your temper."
"Wouldn't be a pretty sight, Ray."
"Ooohh I know. There could be actual eyebrow strain." Ray was out and out grinning now. "There could be the mutual exchange of profanities. My God, the world as we know it could come to an end!"
Fraser was beginning to smile now and his breakneck pace had slowed somewhat. "Really Ray, I very much doubt anything could be bad enough to make a Royal Canadian Mounted Policeman say something as base as 'Fuck.'"
Ray nearly tripped over his own feet at that, the belly laugh that had been trying to fight itself loose ever since Fraser had jumped Turnbull finally burst forth and within moments, he was bent double, laughing himself sick. And so was Fraser. Quite literally.
When he managed to straighten up for a moment, Fraser was retching into the gutter, clutching helplessly at his ribs. Ray laid a comforting hand on his shoulder as the Mountie lost his lunch. "Ben, this ain't right," he whispered, rubbing little circles on Fraser's back. "At least let me drive you to the emergency room. Let them take a looksee?"
Fraser wiped the back of one shaky hand over his mouth and using Ray for purchase, stood upright. "It's probably just something I've eaten, but I suppose it would be wise to have it checked out."
"Atta boy, c'mon."
The sound of a scream, followed by gunshots, echoed out across the park before Ray had even taken one step towards the Consulate. "This way," he yelled, pulling out his own gun and racing off across the darkened park in the direction of the scream.
The ground underfoot was soft and slippery. He wound up on his knees a couple of times before he drew near to the spot from where the gun had been fired. He crouched down, making himself as small a target as possible, and tried to get his breathing under control.
It was really dark. Occasionally, the moon peeked out from behind low-lying clouds but for the most part, it was hard to make anything out. Ray peered into the gloom and tried to get a bead on what was happening.
"Please, God, just take the money. Don't hurt me."
That was probably the woman who had screamed. Somewhere off to the right, in the deeper shadows of some bushes next to the tunnel.
"Shut the fuck up, or I'll shoot ya like I shot yer worthless boyfriend."
Assailant, male, sounded young, but without some visual clues, Ray couldn't really tell.
"Just take my purse. Let me call 911, please!!" The woman wailed as Ray tripped over something lying across his path and went down hard.
The boyfriend? His hand fumbled over the prone body until he found the pulse point. Crap - Too late for this guy.
"What was that?"
A second voice! More to the left, but quite close by. Ray heard the sound of a safety catch being released. He'd dropped his own gun when he fell. And where the fuck was Fraser right now anyway? He needed back up - badly!
All that it would take, would be for the moon to come out from behind a cloud and he was not only visible, but unarmed.
"You're hearing things," the first guy said, and now that Ray's eyes were a little more accustomed to the dark he could make out shadowy forms moving towards the underpass. Maybe with his glasses on and a following wind he could have hit one of them, assuming of course, that he could find his fucking gun sometime this century. All he could do under these circumstances was find some cover and try and buy some time for the girl.
He had to hope that Fraser was off calling for backup or maybe circling round behind the attackers ready to leap out at the last minute like he so often did. Then his hand finally closed over something cold and metallic and he heaved a small sigh of relief, which was entirely too short-lived. The clouds parted and he found himself crouching over a dead guy, in full view of his murderers.
"Fuck!" he mouthed, rolling towards a large Rhododendron bush just as the first shot zinged past his ear. Fraser, now would be a really good time to do that jumping out thing you do so well, he thought.
But as he scrambled though the low-hanging branches trying to avoid becoming corpse number two, there was still no sign of his Knight in Shining Serge.
"Chicago PD. Throw down your weapons, and no-one else needs to die," Ray brazened during a lull in the firing. The moon was still high, but now at least he could see what he was up against.
The first guy was huge, and he had one thick arm firmly round the terrified woman's neck as he dragged her towards the tunnel. "I don't see no one but you, hero," he sneered, tightening his grip when the girl began to struggle.
Ray couldn't keep his eyes on both of them, so he figured goon number one had his hands full with the girl. Goon number two was definitely Ray's biggest problem right now, that and the distinct lack of back-up. Keeping his gun trained on the second guy, Ray scrambled around for a better position.
That was when he saw Fraser huddled behind a stone chess table off to the right. Not circling round. Not calling for backup. Not doing anything.
Ray looked closer. Actually he was doing something. He was cowering! He looked absolutely terrified. And that was so far removed from the Fraser he knew and loved that for a moment he forgot to keep an eye on goon number two.
The bullet was so close to making the perfect head-shot that Ray literally felt it part his hair. "Fraser" he yelled, falling back onto his ass with enough force to jar his whole spine. "Get your ass over here, NOW!"
But Fraser didn't move. If anything, he crouched down lower, hiding his face behind his hands. Ray got off a shot, but he knew he would be lucky to hit the broad side of a barn door without his specs.
This was bad. This was very, very bad. Another bullet ricocheted off an overhanging branch and Ray knew with absolute certainty that unless he moved, he was about to die. Mud-caked and covered in pink flower blossoms, he was gonna croak while his partner quaked with fear and did nothing. And that made Ray mad as hell.
No way was he dying like this! Rolling to his knees, he made a break for the stone table, emptying his clip in the general direction of goon number two. No-one was as surprised as Ray when he skittered unhurt to a halt beside Fraser's huddled form.
"What the fuck is the matter with you?" he demanded angrily, finally finding his glasses and slipping them on with adrenalin shaky hands. "They got me outgunned out here."
Fraser's eyes were wild with fear but Ray didn't have time to worry about that. Goon number two was still out there. Snapping a fresh clip into place, Ray took a deep breath and popped up from his cover, hoping for enough light to see the target. Unfortunately, the target saw him first.
It all happened in slow motion after that. The sound of a shot, the cloud of stone fragments that obliterated his vision, the impact that threw him backwards to land on his ass for the second time that evening. He brought his hands up, clawing at his chest, unable to drag in a breath, and Fraser was looming over him, but he couldn't hear what he was saying over the ringing in his own ears.
The fear had gone from Fraser's face, replaced with a look of horror and rage. Ray tried to reach out to him, tried to hold him back, but his entire body was numb and his hand remained stubbornly limp at his side, as Fraser leaped over the table and ran straight into the jaws of hell.
He could hear the sound of a clip being ejected, which meant that Fraser had a few moments grace before the goon could shoot him. Ray wanted to be able to tell the goddamned son-of-a-bitch that he was okay. The bullet had ricocheted off the table, slowing its velocity to the point where it had merely winded him. Oh and there would be a really nice bruise there in the morning.
"Ffffr..." he wheezed, trying to get up. "...frrrshit!"
Now that his ears had stopped ringing, he could hear Fraser's battle cry as the crazy Mountie ran right towards the shooter. Ray dragged his aching carcass upright and peered over the table in time to see Fraser slam into the guy, knocking him flying and then there was a blur of motion, a sharp cracking that sounded more like fist hitting face than a shot and everything went still.
"Frase?" he croaked. Clearing his throat, he gave it another shot. "Fraser, you okay?"
Fraser wasted no time answering. He was up and running towards the underpass where the other guy had disappeared with the woman. Ray got unsteadily to his feet and limped over the where the shooter lay, unconscious. Fraser had knocked him out cold. Ray cuffed the guy's hands behind his back and limped off after the Mountie.
He'd made it almost to the other side of the tunnel, when headlights blinded him, and he had to cover his eyes. A black sedan was racing right towards him, tires screeching wildly, spinning on the wet grass. The driver's field of view was severely curtailed on account of the Mountie plastered all over his windshield. Ray flattened himself against the wall of the tunnel, but at the last minute, the car skidded sideways, throwing Fraser off just before it slammed into the outside wall of the tunnel.
Fraser rolled across the ground and right back up onto his feet, reversed course and made it to the wrecked car before the engine even cut out. He tore open the driver's door and dragged the stunned driver out onto the grass.
"I am making a citizen's arrest," he said coldly placing his boot firmly in the middle of the big guys back and pressing him down into the grass. "For kidnapping, and the cold-blooded murder of a Police Officer."
Ray stepped out of the tunnel and limped to Fraser's side. "Hey, takes more than a scumbag like that to kill me off."
"Ray?" Fraser gasped, stumbling forward.
"I'm okay, Frase," Ray said softly, wanting nothing more than to wrap his arms around his shocked partner and hug him till his eyes popped out of his head. But there were other things to be thinking off right now. Work related things. "You got something to tie him up with?"
At Fraser's silent nod, Ray peered into the back seat of the car, where the young girl was curled into a tight ball. He opened the back door and reached out to touch her shoulder. "It's okay. I'm a police officer. You wanna tell me your name?"
Slowly, she lifted her head. "Lucy. Lucille Redmond. Is Ricky all right?"
Ray climbed into the back seat beside her and laid a comforting hand on her arm. "Ricky your boyfriend?"
She nodded, eyes welling up with tears. "Daddy didn't approve. We had to meet in secret. Ricky said no-one would see us in the park. Is he okay? Did you call 911?"
"Ricky didn't make it. I'm sorry."
He held her while she cried, rocking her until her sobs died. Finally Fraser reappeared and Ray fished out his mobile phone. "Call it in, Frase."
"You need a lift, detective?" the police officer asked, once the bad guys were in the van and the girl's father had arrived to take her home. Just so happened that she was the daughter of senator John Redmond, and he'd been extolling Fraser's virtues since he'd been filled in on the rescue.
"Nah," Ray glanced over to a wooden picnic bench where Fraser was sitting, head in hands. "Got my car. Thanks anyway."
The officer clapped him soundly on the back. "That was nice police work tonight, Vecchio. Redmond will probably insist you get a commendation."
"Yeah, well if anyone deserves a commendation, it's the crazy Mountie," Ray muttered, waving good-bye to the officer and walking over to his partner.
"Ray, I think there's something wrong with me."
"No shit, Sherlock? You're a freak, I keep telling you..."
Fraser got up and took Ray's arm, guiding him towards the other side of the park. "Seriously, Ray. In the last few hours, I've gone from despair to hilarity and from paralysing fear to towering rage. My emotions are completely out of control."
"Gotta admit, it's freaking me out. Any idea what's causing it?"
Fraser looked forlorn. "I have no idea. It began when you asked me to interview the animal rights activist. Her arguments were valid and although I do sympathise greatly with her cause, I don't understand why it affected me so deeply."
"Okay, right. So what happened before that? Did you eat anything that you could have had a reaction to maybe...?"
Fraser held open the park gate for Ray to pass and then fell into step beside him. "We both ate pizza last night, and I skipped breakfast this morning. I did have a glass of water at your apartment, as you had no tea..."
"Note to self, buy some tea for the Mountie," Ray grinned.
"That would be appreciated, Ray," Fraser grinned back. "After that, we were at the lab. Oh, and I had a glass of water there too..."
They stopped walking and faced each other. Ray rubbed his eyebrow nervously. "You don't think...?"
"I thought it tasted a little strange..."
"Maybe we should give them a call?"
Fraser took a deep breath. "I think that might be wise."
Ray put down the phone and sighed. "Well, the good news is that it's not lethal."
Beside him of the couch, Fraser let out a sigh of relief.
"They'd been using the stuff you drank to raise the adrenalin levels of some of the animals before trying out a new sedative."
"This compound affects that part of the brain that regulates emotions, I assume?"
Ray shrugged. "They figure you drank about ten times the dose that they'd been feeding the animals. The egg-head I just spoke to said that apparently it's all natural stuff and will work its way out of your system in a few more hours if you drink loads of water. You just gotta ride it out, buddy."
Fraser slumped back against the cushions while Ray filled up a large glass from the sink and brought it to him. "Well, it's a relief to know that I don't have a hole in my bag of marbles. I was beginning to think that insanity ran in the family, what with Uncle Tiberius and his cabbage fettish..."
"I do not need to know that," Ray interrupted quickly, watching Fraser gulp down the water.
"You don't want to hear about the Fraser family fetishes?" Fraser dead-panned, ruining the effect by bursting into a fit of giggles. "I like handcuffs, you know?"
Ray blinked. Okay, Fraser was sounding a little drunk here. The stuff was obviously still sloshing around inside his brain. Best thing for him would be to sleep it off probably. And any way, Ray really didn't want to know about the handcuffs thing right now. Not until Fraser was fully in control of himself again at any rate.
Tugging Fraser to his feet, he guided the grinning Mountie towards the bedroom. But Fraser would not shut the fuck up!
"You remember when I arrested you, Ray? In the Consulate after the Volpe shooting? I took a set of handcuffs out of the drawer and placed them on your wrists, and you looked up at me. You looked so lost and vulnerable. Do you have any idea what was going through my mind right then?"
Ray got the bedroom door open and shoved Fraser inside.
"You can tell me all about it tomorrow, Ben. I need you to get into bed right now, okay?"
Fraser reached up and cupped Ray's face. "I want to thank you, Ray, for being with me through all of this. You never left my side. I can't tell you how much that means to me." His eyes were huge and luminous in the darkness, glistening with unshielded emotion. He looked so fragile, so lost, so... vulnerable that Ray's heart ached with it. It would be so fucking easy to take advantage of this. But there was no way he could live with himself if he did.
Ray licked his lips. "Okay, everything's fine, everything's rosy," he soothed, easing Fraser down onto the bed and kneeling to undo his boots. Jesus, there were a lot of laces! Who needs so many goddamned laces anyway?
"I love your hair, Ray."
"Yeah? Hey, hands off!" Ray ducked away from Fraser's questing fingers just before they made contact with his hair. "I'm on a mission here. Gotta get the Mountie outta his boots."
"I dream about you all the time."
"You what?" Ray rocked back on his heels and looked up into Fraser's sparking blue eyes. "You dream 'bout me?" Jesus, was the Mountie trying to kill him stone dead?
"All the time," Fraser smiled softly, running the back of his hand across Ray's cheek. "Sometimes, I don't even need to be asleep."
Ray gulped, and had to look away. The naked emotion shining out of Fraser's eyes was killing him. The guy was still doped out of his gills and there was no way in hell Ray was getting into anything with him. No matter how hard Fraser was making it... or him!
"That's real nice, Frase. How 'bout a little help with this thing?"
Ray had gotten all the laces undone, but the stubborn boot refused to budge. Fraser lay back on the bed and extended his leg. "If you'd care to straddle my leg and face the other way..."
Before his brain could make anything smutty out of that suggestion, Ray did as he was told, taking a firm grip on the shiny brown leather. Fraser's other foot came up and rested squarely on his ass. "Now, PULL!"
Ray pulled, Fraser pushed, the boot came off and Ray went sprawling on the floor, still clutching the thing in his hand. He crawled over to the end of the bed and quickly began unfastening the other boot.
"Fraser, you'd better not be sleeping?" Ray bobbed up when he felt all resistance leave Fraser's leg to see that was exactly what Fraser was doing. He lay sprawled on the bed, snoring softly. Ray spent another futile couple of moments trying to remove the boot alone before giving up and slapping Fraser's thigh. "Wakey, wakey Sleeping Beauty. This glass slipper has got to come off!"
"You're muddling your fairytales, Ray," Fraser slurred, getting up on his elbows to stare at Ray's ass quite blatantly as he turned around and straddled the other leg. "The glass slipper was Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty was awoken from her slumber by a kiss from Prince Charming."
"Yeah, well I ain't no prince. Point yer toe."
"Ah, but you undersell yourself." Fraser lay back down and they repeated the same manoeuvre, although this time, Ray managed to remain on his feet. He was however, sweating with the exertion and a little out of breath. He went to the bathroom and returned with two glasses of water. One he placed on the nightstand and the other he handed to Fraser.
"Drink," he instructed. When Fraser handed him the empty glass, he took a deep breath. "Okay, so you need help getting the... what do you call 'em... jodhpurs off?"
Fraser rolled his hips in a suggestive manner and grinned "Oh yes, I require your assistance, most definitely, Ray!"
"Jeez Louise! Okay, but no funny business, Frase. I got some scruples left you know?"
He leaned down and stared at where he assumed the fly should be but couldn't see anything that looked like a zipper. Damned stupid Mountie get-up with it's weird fasteners and...
Suddenly, he was on his back with Fraser pinning him to the mattress. "Do you want me to tell you about the dreams?" Fraser whispered.
"Oh, Lord!" That was no gun in Fraser's pocket; that was a hard and very interested cock and it was pressed tight against Ray's belly. "Um, how about an Inuit tale Frase? There's gotta be an amusing story in there someplace. Some Eskimo that ate yellow snow and then went on a drunken rampage...?"
"In my dreams, you press me down on white silken sheets, hold my face in your hands and kiss me..."
"Jesus, Ben!" Ray got twin handfuls of Fraser's shirt and rolled them over, winding up on top. Silk sheets... hands... faces... kissing... ! If Fraser didn't shut the fuck up right now ...
"Yes!" Fraser arched his back "Like that! God, yes." And Fraser's hands were everywhere, on his back, in his hair, squeezing his ass and grinding their bodies together and Ray was losing all semblance of control here. He was only fucking human after all. And Fraser was... Fraser was like some kind of wet-dream incarnate.
"Fraser, hands off the ass, okay?" he croaked, trying to grab at least one of the several sets of hands Fraser seemed possessed off. "I swear I'll handcuff you to the fucking bed if I have to."
Fraser moaned, and arched again, his eyes going dark with desire and suddenly Ray had a very good idea of what had been going through Fraser's mind in the Consulate. He'd been thinking maybe that he'd like to be the one in the cuffs some day. Which Ray would of course note and file away for future use.
With one final hard shove, he managed to get himself free and staggered backwards towards the door. "I'll be sleeping out here?" he cocked his thumb over his shoulder, "On the couch."
Fraser was shaking his head, an evil, predatory grin transforming his usually passive features into something absolutely primal. "Oh, there won't be much sleeping going on, I can assure you."
Before Fraser could make it off the bed, Ray had bolted for the bathroom, locked the door and shoved the chair under the handle. He pressed his ear up to the wood and strained to hear.
"I can outwait you, Ray. Remember I once spent seventy-two hours holed up in the carcase of a dead Caribou. It's a funny tale actually, but one that bears repeating...."
Ray slid down onto the floor and sighed with relief. That's it Fraser, make with the longwinded stories until we both fall fast asleep! Good plan. Great plan....
At exactly 4.45 am, Ray awoke to the sound of the door handle rattling. He hauled himself out of the tub and staggered blearily to the bathroom door. "Frase?" he rasped.
"Ray, I'm sorry to bother you but I desperately need to relieve myself. It's all the water I've been drinking."
Fraser sounded as close to normal as he ever did, so Ray unlocked the door, moved the chair and stepped aside. Fraser brushed past with mumbled "Thank you kindly."
Ray didn't wait around. His back was killing him and his ass was nearly frozen off. All he could think about was how warm and comfy his bed was going to feel. A few seconds later, he was face down in the pillows sighing with relief.
"Ray, I feel I need to apologise once again for my..."
"Frase, do me a favour?" Ray glanced over his shoulder at the embarrassed Mountie hovering in the bedroom doorway. "Shut up and get into bed."
Ray felt the edge of the bed dip but there was no accompanying rush of cool air as Fraser pulled down the blankets. Ray heaved himself over onto his back and sat up.
Fraser was sitting one the end of the bed staring at his hands. "How can you trust me?" he said forlornly. "After what I did...?"
Ray sighed and shuffled closer. "Hey, that wasn't your fault, okay? That was the chemicals talkin'. I know you would never act like that."
Fraser glanced at him, then quickly away again, flushing red with embarrassment. "Perhaps not, but it had to come from somewhere, Ray. It scares me to think such thoughts are inside me."
Ray placed a hand on his arm and found that Fraser was shaking. "You're not gonna freak out on me again are you?" he asked in concern but Fraser was shaking his head.
"No, I think the reaction is over. I have a splitting headache and my mouth tastes like the bottom of a parakeet's cage, but I don't feel out of control anymore."
"Then why are you shaking?" Ray asked, edging a little closer and sliding his arm around Fraser's shoulders.
"I'm cold," Fraser replied simply, leaning his head on Rays shoulder.
Ray smiled into the thick hair and squeezed Fraser tightly. "Get into bed, you freak," he whispered, pleased when Fraser actually did as he was told. Once they were both settled, Fraser propped himself up on one elbow and gave Ray a long hard look.
"What?" Ray asked nervously.
"Would you mind if I kissed you again?"
Ray gulped. "You mean now? Here. I mean here, in bed?"
"Yes, here. Would you mind?"
Ray gulped again. The kissing had been hot. The kissing had been very hot, and if they kissed here in bed, then surely that would lead to other things, and Ray wasn't at all sure he was ready for other things! "Um, Ben..."
"It's fine, Ray," Fraser smiled and lay back on his pillow staring at the ceiling. "I shouldn't have asked. You're uncomfortable with it."
Ray could have kicked himself. Fraser was retreating back behind that Mountie mask and it was all his fault. He'd just told Fraser that he trusted him and then showed him how untrue that was with his actions. "No, no, no, it's not that," Ray stammered, wishing he could put it into words. "It's me I don't trust. If you start with the kissing, there's no telling what will happen. I don't seem to be able to control myself very well around you."
Fraser turned and smiled. "Well, I find that very flattering. I also find it a little confusing. I mean, it's not as if we're complete strangers, Ray. Personally, I wouldn't mind if something... happened."
Ray unconsciously pulled the sheets up a little higher. "You wouldn't?"
"Not at all."
Ray took a deep breath. What the hell was wrong with him? What was he afraid of? Fear of the unknown? Sex was one thing he had always been good at. There was no reason to think that he'd be sucky at it with Frase just cuz they were both guys. Making a decision, he took a deep breath and kicked off the sheet. "Okay. I'm fine with that. I'm all over that. Let's do it." He tugged off his shorts as he spoke, dropping them at the side of the bed.
Fraser blinked. "You don't sound fine with it."
"I'm just nervous. It's just nerves. Never done anything like this before. I'm..."
"A little. Look can we just get started?"
Fraser's eyes were roaming all over his chest and down lower. Ray couldn't watch. Closing his eyes tight, he willed himself to sit still under the scrutiny. He figured he wasn't much to look at, and maybe now that Fraser could see all of him, he might change his mind about this.
"Here," Fraser reached for the white cotton sheet and held it up. "If it makes you feel more comfortable, why don't you cover yourself with this?"
Ray hesitated for a moment. He felt stupid, like some kind of shy virgin wanting to hide his nakedness from the eyes of his potential lover, but there was no denying the fact that his skinny, white ass was painfully embarrassed here. Sure, he had muscles and a wiry, fluid sort of strength but Fraser was... Fraser was seriously built.
Taking the sheet, Ray sat down cross-legged in the centre of the bed and draped it over his lap. Immediately he felt better, more relaxed, which was a minor miracle considering what they intended to do. He looked up at Fraser, trying to make it look like he had the faintest clue what he was doing.
Fraser was stripping off his shorts in one graceful movement, and before Ray could get a really good eyeful, he had slipped beneath the sheet so that he sat cross-legged and facing Ray.
Ray felt the rough hairs on Fraser's knees brush against his own and it sent a little jolt of something through him. Adrenalin, he supposed. Whatever it was, it made his heart beat faster. He blinked rapidly, willing his breathing to stay steady.
Fraser leaned back a little, bracing his weight on his hands and extended one leg over Ray's until it rested on the bed behind him. Ray felt a blast of warm air, feathering his leg and he gulped. The heat was coming from Fraser, from his... Oh God! Ray closed his eyes tightly.
He felt Fraser's other leg slipping over his, and he desperately fought the urge to flee. Pesky adrenaline again! He tried to concentrate on keeping his breathing even. Damn - this was harder than he'd thought. This was so much more intimate than he'd imagined. Not that he'd imagined much mind you. There hadn't been enough time to really come to terms with this thing that had developed between them.
Ray shifted on the bed, uncurling his legs so that they were stretched out on either side of Fraser, bringing them into even closer contact. His eyes shot open when he felt the soft slide of skin against skin. Fraser was pressed tight against him, groin touching groin.
"Too much?" Fraser asked, voice low and smouldering and hot. Didn't sound at all like Fraser, and damn, had someone asked him a question?
Ray clutched the edges of the white sheet and willed himself to calm the fuck down. "It's a little... strange, Frase," and was that his voice, sounding all high pitched and squeaky like Mickey fucking Mouse?
"Then we should perhaps stay like this for a while, get accustomed to the proximity."
Accustomed to the proximity? Ray wondered how Fraser could do that... speak like there was not a damned thing going on here. Like they were at a Sunday School picnic or something. He was using vocabulary for fuck's sake! Ray was convinced that half of the words he used weren't even English.
Ray fixed his eyes onto Fraser's collarbone and tried not to breathe, because every breath made his body slide a little more against Fraser's.
In all fairness, Fraser seemed to be breathing a little heavier too. In one way, it was comforting to know that Fraser wasn't exactly immune to this situation, but on the other, the proof of that lack of equanimity lay hot and hard against Ray's thigh. Hot, hard and... twitching!
Ray wasn't hard at all. Ray was uncomfortable, and embarrassed and didn't think that he would ever get hard again. This was just too fucking traumatic. He was about to tell Fraser just that, when Fraser moved the sheet aside, reached down between them, and lifted the source of all that heat away from Ray's thigh. "Pardon me," he apologised like he'd just belched in the company of the Queen or something.
Ray couldn't help it; he looked down and immediately regretted it. The sight of Fraser's long fingers pressing his cock flat against his belly made Ray's own cock jump up and take notice. He gulped, quickly reaching for it, more to hide his embarrassment than anything else. But Fraser was smiling at him, and it was a smile like nothing he had ever seen on Fraser's face before. It was hot, and sexy and inviting. That smile dared him to keep going.
Ray couldn't drag his eyes away from that smile, which was fine, cuz the alternative was looking down again, and there was no way he could handle that. The back of his hand brushed against Fraser's and Ray couldn't even find enough spit to gulp.
"That's it, Ray, relax," Fraser whispered, and Ray had to close his eyes tight, cuz now he could feel Fraser's hand moving against the back of his, up and down, up and down, and, God help him, he was getting hard from this, he was actually getting hard. How was that possible? He shuddered, squeezing himself tightly, almost willing himself to feel nothing, but truthfully, he was feeling everything.
Each brush of Fraser's hand against his sent tiny explosions of electricity arcing across his hypersensitive skin. His own hand stayed absolutely motionless but his body was not so still. Powerful contractions of his thigh muscles sent him surging rhythmically towards the source of all that enticing heat.
Ray's eyes snapped open in time to see Fraser's drift closed. He watched Fraser's head tip backwards exposing the long, thick column of his throat; he tracked one single droplet of sweat as it trickled downwards; saw it pause in the hollow where neck met collarbone, then continue downwards.
His eyes followed that trickle of moisture until they found something else to focus on; the motion of Fraser's fist, pumping firmly now, each upward tug eliciting a small gasp from his slightly parted lips.
Ray's fingers tightened on his own flesh, dimly noting that he was at least as hard as Fraser was. It shouldn't be this erotic to watch another guy jerk off. It shouldn't turn him on so much. But, dear God, it did! It really did.
As he watched, Fraser's fingers slowly uncurled, stretching across the almost non-existent gap between them, and found Ray's. He froze on a startled gasp, because now Fraser's cock was gently rubbing against his knuckles, and if he had thought that Fraser's fingers were hot, it was nothing compared to the blasts of inferno-like heat he was feeling now.
"Jesus!" Ray whispered, dragging his eyes back up to Fraser's face. What he saw there sent heat spiralling through his whole body. Fraser looked at once lost, scared, hungry and determined. Perhaps that was the moment Ray surrendered. Certainly it was the moment where Fraser took complete control.
Fraser interweaved his fingers with Ray's and encouraged him to take both of their straining cocks in their entwined hands. Slowly, almost too slowly, he squeezed their fingers tightly around the hot, heavy flesh and began moving again, never once taking his eyes from Ray's.
Ray felt all resistance drain from his body. This felt so good. It felt like something he maybe should have done a long time ago. It felt like coming home. "Frase, you could do that a little... faster," he panted, letting his own head loll backwards.
But Fraser's movements did not quicken. In fact, they slowed down, each firm glide of fingers over flesh drawing a low groan from Ray's throat.
"Want this... to last, Ray," Fraser gasped, "Want to make it... good for you."
Ray's breathing quickened. "S'good, Fraser... really really good!" He let his legs fall further apart moaning when the movement allowed Fraser's balls to brush against his. "Oh, God, yeah!"
Fraser's hands were shaking, in fact, his whole arm was shaking with the effort of holding back, and Ray didn't want him to hold back, not any longer. This was good, this was fucking great! This was greatness beyond all things great. This was... God, he could feel this in every cell of his body.
"Please..." he breathed, feeling his hips begin to jerk upward into the welcoming tightness of their joint grip.
"Ray, I want... I w..."
"I know," Ray gasped. "Me too, but right now... right now I wanna come."
Fraser cried out, his eyes snapping open wide. Panting breaths broke from his lips and suddenly, his hand was moving hard and fast; pumping, stripping, and tugging their flesh; his strangled cries of pleasure muffled against Ray's lips.
And he kissed Fraser back, hungry now for the intimacy he had once feared. Desperate for it, craving it, he let it build to breaking point within him. He was light-headed through lack of oxygen and blood to his poor befuddled brain. But it was good... so good... so good!
Fraser's body arched against his, shuddering and straining. "Ray... Ray... Ray... OH, RAY!!" he cried, and then there was more heat; wet and scalding, pouring over their joined hands.
"Oh fuck!" Ray moaned, just as his own body finally let go. "Fraser!" He was coming; he was coming hard, pounding upwards into their slick, slippery fingers. "Fuck!"
Fraser's eyes fluttered open, unfocused but bright. He was still breathing hard, and his hair was all messed up. Ray couldn't remember ever sinking his fingers into the dark locks, but hey, he couldn't remember his own name right now, so that proved nothing.
Fraser's hand cradled their still pulsing cocks. Ray risked a glance down and couldn't help the disgusted grimace.
"We appear to have made rather a lot of mess, Ray," Fraser mumbled sleepily, looking so damned well-fucked that it made Ray's heart flip-flop.
"Yeah, so we have," Ray replied, reaching for the sheet, with the intention of cleaning them up. But Fraser's fingers slipped from his own, gliding up over his torso and chest, leaving a pearly white trail on his skin in its wake.
"No way, no way, Frase!" Ray made a grab for Fraser's hand, anticipating what his partner intended to do, but it was too late. Fraser closed his eyes, slipped one wet finger into his mouth, and let his tongue curl around the digit.
"Oh God, Fraser. You really will lick anything won't you?" Ray complained, quickly scrubbing away the remaining evidence of their hot little session before Fraser could go back for seconds.
Fraser's grin was pure evil as he flipped them over, pinning Ray to the mattress with his weight and leaned in closer. His eyes were fixed on Ray's lips.
"God, no, no way Ben. You are not kissing me with lips smeared in..."
Fraser growled and pressed his slick lips onto Rays, poking his tongue inside Ray's mouth until Ray moaned and opened wider.
"Okay, that's hot. That had no business being hot, but it is," Ray whispered brokenly when Fraser's mouth released him. "You're such a freak, Benton Fraser."
Fraser ran the pad of his thumb over Ray's lower lip. "Then if you have no objection to the taste, perhaps later after we've had a nap, you would consider trying it... first hand?"
"You're asking me to blow you?"
"I am, yes."
Ray groaned and squeezed his eyes shut. "Dear God, Ben, you trying to kill me? I swear, if you don't shut up, I'll kick you in the head."
"Well, I fail to see what good that would..."
"Fair warning, Frase. Shut. The. Fuck. Up."
"Really, Ray there's no call for profanity. Perhaps we could..."
Ben opened his mouth, closed it, opened it again and finally sighed deeply. "As you wish."
Ray smiled at his victory and snuggled into a more comfortable position. Then suddenly a thought occurred to him. "Frase?"
"This ain't helping with the separation anxiety much, is it?"
He could hear Fraser smiling in the darkness. "Ray?"
"Shut. The. Fuck. Up."
Fraser sighed and hugged him closer. "Greatness."