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This Side of Perfect

Author: Tatau (kaffeewespe_la@yahoo.de)

Fandom: Due South

Pairing: Fraser/RayK

Rating: NC-17

Disclaimer: Due South is the property of Alliance Atlantis. Written for fun not for profit

Feedback Welcome!

Ray figured, all decent women had left the greater Chicago area the moment he started to feel better about the whole Stella fiasco. But this one, this one seemed to be a pretty decent catch – all things considered.

For one, she was pretty damn attractive; slender, way smaller than he was, with sparkling green eyes and brown, soft looking, hair. Add to that the fact that she was a cop, ok a civilian aid, at his old precinct ruled out all possibilities of having fallen for another con job – so it was nothing like that Luane Russel thing.

And she hadn’t known Ray Vecchio, neither had she ever met Ray Kowalski. Meaning he could start fresh. She didn’t know how Ray had been at his lowest and she didn’t know that Ray was supposed to be someone else; all good things in Ray’s book. What was more, she actually liked him. He had only taken her for drinks once after work when he had to stop by the 17th precinct to collect some old case files and than for dinner a few days later.

Tonight was his third date with Melissa so he was in a pretty good mood sitting in the car with Fraser on the way to the station. The radio played The Clash and he was quietly singing along, tapping the rhythm on the steering wheel.

“You seem to be in an especially good mood today, Ray. May I enquire why?” Fraser asked, turning the Stetson around in his hands as if he needed something to occupy them.

“Yeah, remember that woman I’ve told you about? Well, the way I figure it, I might just get lucky tonight. See, this is the third date and she invited me to her place” Ray grinned at him.

“Ah. I see.” Fraser asked with a raised eyebrow.

“No, you don’t, Fraser. Know what I mean? A woman invites you to her place; offers to cook for you… you don’t have to be a cop to see where this is going. The third date is the, you know, it’s the sex date.”

“Well Ray, I don’t see why an invitation to her home should be seen as an indication that she would also invite you to her… bedroom.” Fraser appeared to be piqued.

“Maybe not in the frozen North, but here in the US of A that’s usually exactly what she’s offering. And I am not saying that in a bad way or anything. I mean, women can be just as sexually forward as men. Nothing wrong with that.”

“Ray, a sexual relationship should be based on more than a home cooked meal. It is a matter of trust. This level of intimacy—“

“Fraser! Do I look 17? Because I sure don’t feel like it.” Ray interrupted.

“I don’t see how your age is relevant to this subject.” And this time Fraser definitely sounded indignant.

“Of course you wouldn’t. What would you do? Wine her and dine her for three weeks before you would even agree to enter her house? And then what, another healthy month of courtship before you would dare to hold hands with her?” he snorted and shook his head. The mental image was way too believable.

“There’s really no need to exaggerate like that. There is absolutely nothing wrong with a respectable period of getting acquainted with the object of your desire.”

Ray looked at Fraser’s face and saw the tight lipped expression there. His features softened a bit. Yeah, Fraser probably wouldn’t jump into the sack with someone he’d just met. It wouldn’t be… germane or prudent or whatever 500 $ word Fraser could pull out of his hat. “No, there isn’t buddy. ‘s completely fine.” And he smiled encouragingly at Fraser who seemed a bit surprised by this concession but answered anyway, “Thank you, Ray.”

Relationships were a touchy subject. Hell, Ray got that. He got that better than anyone. Still, the stuff Fraser didn’t say filled an ocean. He just didn’t get if Fraser was pissed off because Ray would readily jump into bed with someone he had only known for a few days or because Ray finally ended up getting some whereas Fraser’s last time had probably been in the Stone Age or something. But with Fraser you never knew. Could have been yesterday for all he let on.

The rest of the day didn’t get any better. The perp they were tracking according to the print his shoes had left in the liquor store he had robbed wasn’t at all going as planned. First of all, the description of the store owner was more than shaky; no one else seemed to have seen anything, as per usual, and matching those shoes to a specific model was apparently more difficult than he had imagined. In short, a lot of leg work for next to nothing. And Fraser seemed to be getting stiffer the later it got and the nearer they got to Ray’s date. But that could have been a figment of his imagination. After all, Fraser wasn’t the guy to begrudge someone a date.

But Fraser didn’t cheer up, so dropping him off at the consulate turned into a formal affair.

“So, uh, I pick ya up tomorrow morning?” Ray asked, trying to mend the sinking mood.

“That won’t be necessary. I certainly wouldn’t want to call you away from… anything any earlier than need be.” Fraser replied stiffly.

“Aw, Frase. Don’t be stupid, it’s gonna take you half an hour to walk there and I won’t be – busy or anything.” And he put a hand out and placed it on Fraser’s arm because Fraser seemed about ready to bolt from the car. Fraser looked from Ray’s arm to his face and seemed to deflate a little.

“If you say so. Then thank you kindly, Ray.” And with that Fraser finally did get out of the car. Ray almost expected him to tip his hat. Thankfully, he refrained from this last display of extreme politeness. Ray hated it when Fraser turned really, really polite. As if he was some kind of stranger. Or as if Fraser was one. Well, stranger than usual that is. Ray had to smile. Fraser was really something. He most certainly was the most annoying man on the planet, but you couldn’t say that he wasn’t special. He shook his head and pulled away from the curb.

Time to get ready for his date.

After a quick shower and a new shirt Ray was almost ready. He spiked his hair until you could almost see it bristle, shrugged on his jacket and he was off. Melissa’s apartment was in a nice neighbourhood. It was nothing terribly fancy – nothing like Stella’s new apartment. Melissa greeted him with a big smile, wearing a midnight blue dress. Ray did a short mental calculation. She was dressed carefully, neither over the top, nor too casual – just right for Ray’s taste.

“Hey there.” She smiled this nice little toothy smile.

“Hey there, yourself. Here, I brought you something.” He handed her a bottle of Merlot he hoped was worth opening. He wasn’t a big connoisseur when it came to wine… or anything else for that matter.

She grinned. “I hope you know your wine because I sure can’t tell you if it’s any good. I’m more of a beer drinker, I’m afraid.” And she shrugged a bit apologetically.

Ray did a little victory dance inside. “Same here.” He grinned back at her.

She stepped back to let him in and showed him around her flat. Melissa uncorked the bottle of wine and handed him a glass. “I made lasagne, hope that’s alright with you.”

“Perfect, actually. I haven’t had that in ages.” Not since the last him he was at Ma Vecchio’s house, come to think of it. Which had been when? Too long, apparently, to remember.

Conversation flowed easily and the food was pretty damn good. All in all a perfect evening. That is until it was time for coffee. Ray was actually quite sure that Melissa wanted him to stay. She didn’t even once mention him leaving even though it was already quite late. And Ray… just couldn’t say yes because after all this looking forward to it, Fraser had ruined it for him. Now he felt guilty. As if spending the night with Melissa wouldn’t be the chivalrous thing to do. ‘Chivalrous’ that was also a Fraser word. Right at this very moment he really didn’t like Fraser much. Ray hung his head. He knew that he had already lost to his inner Fraser. No way was he able to look him in the eye tomorrow if he stayed now. So he did what everyone did in those situations, saying how he had to feed the turtle and how he had to get up really early tomorrow and so on.

Melissa’s smile looked a bit unsure as she bid him goodbye at the door. “Maybe another time then. Get back safely. It is really rather late already.”

“Yeah, sure…uh, I’d like that”. And he gave her his best apologetic grin.

God, he was one stupid bastard.

Once he sat behind the wheel of the GTO he almost got back out again. How stupid had one man a right to be? There was a beautiful woman wanting him to spend the night and he left? Why? Because he had a Mountie for a partner who believed in wooing a woman. Mounties probably had a moral code that forbids sex for the first year of dating… or that forbids it, period. That would explain a lot of things.

Damn it! Just go to bed, he thought, and don’t think about it.

The next morning dawned and Ray drove towards the consulate to pick up Fraser. He didn’t know if he was angry with his partner for ruining his first night of real sex – because how real could you call sex when it was your right hand that was putting out? – or if he wanted Fraser to be proud of him for staring temptation in the face.

Seeing Fraser’s drawn face really made Ray want to punch him. Still, he thought that Fraser would be pretty impressed by his show of restraint. Which was exactly the reason why he started to explain himself to his partner after a few minutes of silence; it had nothing to do with him feeling defensive, nothing at all.

“I didn’t do anything, you know?” Ray asked, going for causal but sounding more like pleading for forgiveness.

“Do what, Ray?”

And damn the Mountie for feigning oblivion at the most inopportune moment.

“You know…sleep with Melissa.” He answered a bit embarrassed. Damn Fraser for making him put it out there.

“Ah.” Fraser replied noncommittally.

“What do you mean ‘ah’? Hey, I did as you said. Isn’t that worth a bit more than ‘ah’?” Ray asked incredulously.

“Ray, I am terribly sorry if you felt the need to hold back on my account. I am quite sure that it is really none of my concern. Your private life is, after all, private.”

Fraser sounded so prim and proper stating this that it made Ray mad just on principle. How irritating could one man be?

“No way, Fraser. You don’t get to make me feel bad about wanting to take Melissa to bed and then abstain from taking any responsibility.” Ray interjected.

“I assure you I had no intentions of making you feel bad. Surely you know that.” And Fraser sounded almost as if he really meant it. Problem was Ray had worked with him long enough to know that everything Fraser let out of his mouth he, in fact, did mean. Everything else he swallowed down before he ever got the chance to voice it.

“Yeah, sure. You know the least you could do is say ‘well done Ray’.”

“If it makes you happy, certainly. ‘Well done, Ray.” Fraser said.

Ray had seldom felt so hollow. What kind of victory was that? That just sucked. He couldn’t have felt any cheaper for having had sex with her.

“Just forget it.” Ray sighed.

“As you wish”. And Fraser was all business again.

At least Fraser seemed to be more focused on the job at hand. Near St Clair street Fraser had the epiphany that the bad guy might have been wearing orthopaedic shoes which might also explain the lack of distinctive brand on the imprint they had found. So they started to ask around the orthopaedic shoe shops near the crime scene. Fraser’s lucky streak apparently held through because after the fourth try they actually found the one shop who actually sold this type of shoe. And – as luck had it- there were only five customers for this kind of shoe. One was an elderly woman of almost 70 years another was a half dead guy of almost 90 years of age, yet another one was a guy with a war injury. That left two customers who might be the culprits. One was a guy of probably 35 years who had a slight limp; the other was a woman of almost forty.

“Ray, I think it is quite possibly that Mr. Ramirez is our criminal in question. You might remember how I said the imprint was a bit ‘off’? Well, a limp might explain this circumstance. In that case he would have tried to put less weight on this leg which in turn would explain why the imprint looked accidental.”

“Sure, Fraser. So we’re looking for a limping guy with enough conscience to buy orthopaedic shoes but who robs liquor stores in his spare time.” Ray remarked sarcastically.

“It would appear so, yes.” Fraser answered rather gravely.

Ray shook his head. He hated it when Fraser got one of these absolute improbable schemes into his head. They almost always came true and it also almost always meant that Ray had to go dumpster diving, or settle a shoot-out with at least three heavily armed gangsters or that something completely freaky was involved, like licking a gum wrapper to figure out that the guy only shopped at some oriental newspaper stand or other.

Even though they knew who to look for their Wednesday was a waste of time. Raymond Ramirez didn’t appear and nothing about the crime suggested anyone else involved. There was nothing to it than try again tomorrow.

Since that day hadn’t been full of personal accomplishments Ray felt the need to improve his self-confidence by buying a new shirt. Something completely different jumped into his field of vision when he entered the store where he bought most of his shirts. It was a shirt of a deep midnight blue of an utterly soft looking material. Ray just couldn’t resist. It was nothing like the usual T-shirts he wore. It looked classy, but without making him look all dressed up. It complimented his hair and his eye color; at least he liked to think that.

When he arrived home he unscrewed a bottle of beer and settled down on his couch. Fraser had absolutely no idea what he was talking about, he told himself. And next time he wouldn’t even listen to him that was for sure.

Ray decided to try his new shirt on his colleagues first. Test-drive it, so to speak. So the next day Ray put on his new shirt and decided to find out if it might also survive a date. Most of the people at work didn’t even notice. But Fraser, oh Fraser noticed all right. He came later to the precinct because he had some kind of desk duty till lunch and he had promised to come by afterwards. And if Ray hadn’t known any better he would have said that Fraser did a double take when he saw him in his new shirt. Of course, it was a Fraserish double take. Meaning it was a really polite one. He seemed to notice that this was something different but tried to keep it under the radar. It was as if he had seen the change and that his whole body had wanted to do a “WTF?” motion but had thought better of it halfway through and turned it into a more polite version of “how do you do?”. The thing was, Fraser had noticed. And now Ray knew that Fraser had noticed.

With most people, Ray was actually quite good at reading their body language. With Fraser, well, sometimes it was even easier. Trying not to do a certain movement screamed even louder than just doing it – if you knew what to look for. But somehow, with Fraser, Ray was always looking for it.

“Ray, you… ah, bought a new shirt.” And Ray had the distinct feeling that Fraser had wanted to say something else.

“Yeah, you like it?” he grinned and did something like a little pirouette, presumably showing the shirt off but mostly just looking childlike and endearing.

“Very much so, yes.” Fraser took a step closer to him and inhaled deeply, probably smelling the fabric the shirt was made of or which store he had bought it in, freak.

“It is really quite fetching, Ray.”

“Thanks, Fraser.” And his smile looked a bit self-conscious, so he shrugged and asked, “You ready? Come one, perps to catch, streets to make safe and all that jazz.” With that he slung an arm around Fraser’s shoulder and ambled out of the bullpen.

Running Raymond Ramirez through the system hadn’t produced any new information. At least it was a relief to know that not every Chicago citizen had a criminal record to speak of. The dingy little flat he lived in didn’t reveal much either except that Mr. Ramirez hadn’t lived there for at least a few days. Smart move, if Ray ever decided to rob a liquor store he probably wouldn’t wait in his apartment to be picked up by the police either.

“Ray, look at this.” Fraser was pointing at a pale, purple piece of cloth. Stella would have probably called it lavender or some other fancy name such a lame ass color didn’t deserve.

“Yeah, so what? He likes to wear pastel shades, bad taste but not a crime, right?” Ray didn’t really see the relevance of it.

“I presume that it is highly likely that this scarf belongs to a woman. However, the files didn’t say anything about Mr. Ramirez being married.”

“So, the guy has a girlfriend. That wasn’t a crime the last time I checked. “Maybe Fraser had his own rules about no girlfriends allowed. They could be considered a distraction or something. Wouldn’t want him to lose his professional attitude or, pray, his cherished control. He grinned to himself. Picturing Fraser with a lady somehow never really worked for Ray. He just couldn’t imagine Fraser without the Mountie attitude, lounging relaxed on a couch in a tattered old sweater or pulling a girl with him in the shower for some steamy make up sex… it just didn’t seem possible.

“I don’t believe so. A girlfriend usually leaves a personal touch in the flat of her significant other, pictures or maybe flowers, something decorative or cosmetic products in the bathroom.“

“Maybe they haven’t been together that long. Maybe it’s something new… or an affair.” The last nights he and Stella had ended up in bed together had definitely felt like an affair the way she tried to remove every trace of her stay the morning after.

“Exactly. Now all we need is something that points us to the identity of the woman.” Fraser started to look through shelves again.

Sometimes Ray wondered how Fraser’s mind worked. What did a love affair have to do with robbing a liquor store? If that was the way love worked in Fraser’s world it was no wonder that he never took any woman up on her offer. A guy is in love therefore it is highly likely that he will commit a crime? Ray rifled through the contents of a small bowl on a table in the hallway. All the important titbits Ray carried around usually went into something simi—“Hey, look. He kept the business card of the liquor store.” There was a mobile phone number written on the back of it.

They tried the number but no one picked up. “Okay, let’s see what the telephone company can come up with.” That was the exact moment when it happened for the first time. But it passed so fleetingly that Ray couldn’t be sure that he hadn’t only imagined it. It had looked, well he wasn’t sure, but it had felt as if Fraser had wanted to, dunno, touch him? As if Fraser had wanted to place a hand on his shoulder and steer him out of the apartment – which would have been fine, in fact it would have been nothing out of the ordinary. But this reaching out and at the same moment withdrawing his hand? That spoke, like, volumes; for Fraser anyway.

He looked suspiciously at Fraser who kept his face carefully blank. He must have imagined it. Ray shook his head and strolled towards the GTO. Fraser seemed to hesitate for a split second and then followed him.

On the way to the telephone company Fraser spun the Stetson around in his hands in a never ending motion. They checked the phone number and then stared unbelieving at the name that came up. “You’ve got to be kidding me.” Ray moaned succinctly. “Janice Pryce? And she wouldn’t be in any way related to Paul Pryce, would she?” Because Paul Pryce just so happened to be the owner of the liquor store in question. And how sad was it that Fraser’s theory of criminal activity and its relation to a healthy love life seemed to hold true?

On the way back to the station Fraser had another one of those odd moments. His hands lay in his lap and suddenly his left hand, the one nearer to Ray, twitched. Ray couldn’t find a better word to describe it. Fraser surreptitiously smoothed his hand over his leg as if trying to get rid of an itch. Ray had already opened his mouth to ask what was going on when Fraser quite suddenly stated “Ray, I think it would be best if we continued our investigation tomorrow. It really is awfully late and we won’t be able to question Mr. Pryce again today. I think it would be prudent to return to the station so that you can be where you have to be and I have to take Diefenbaker for a walk and complete the paper work for tomorrow morning.”

Ray looked at him strangely. What was it with Fraser that he started to get nervous at the end of their shift?

“Fraser, I had no intention of going back to the liquor store tonight. And what do you mean “where I have to be”? Do you remember me saying anything about my busy social life or what?” He grinned exasperatedly.

“Well, no. I just assumed, that is I deduced that, well, it was probably a bit presumptuous of me…” he took a deep breath. “I had expected you to have another date tonight.” Ray’s head swivelled around to look at Fraser. “How’d you figure that?” he asked confused.

“It was simply an observation I had made.” Fraser looked a bit uncomfortable. “I assumed that your… change… in your style of clothing today indicated that you would be otherwise engaged after work.”

Ray laughed softly. God only knew how long Fraser had chewed on this.

“No buddy. Sorry to disappoint your deduction skills. I bought a new shirt, so I wanted to show it off. End of story. I had actually thought, if your paperwork won’t keep you too busy,” and Ray’s eyes twinkled mischievously, “we could go get the wolf and maybe grab a bite to eat? Terrazino has a great pasta special on Thursdays? “He winked at Fraser. Ray knew that, since it had been two weeks, Fraser had probably as much of a craving for Italian food as he had.

“Ah, I, Ray” Fraser wet his lips and took a short look at Ray which seemed to bring him to a decision. “I’d like that.” He smiled one of those wistful smiles where Ray never really knew what it was all about.

“Greatness. Cannelloni it is. The furface will probably enjoy the Ravioli as well, what do you think? Better the Spaghetti with meatballs?”

“Ray, Diefenbaker really shouldn’t get used to human food. It’s bad for his digestive system.” But his eyes twinkled traitorously, so Fraser probably didn’t really mind.

They stopped at the consulate to collect the wolf who made a big show of how neglected he had felt in the meantime and then they decided they might as well walk to Terrazino’s. They walked amicably side by side mulling over a few details of the case until they reached the doors of the restaurant. Ray made a motion to open the door and Fraser had one of those itch-moments again only this time Ray was faster than Fraser’s mouth. “Frase, what’s up with your hands?” It looked as if Fraser gained a bit of color in the cheeks. “Well, I’d rather not say if it’s all the same to you.” Fraser tried to stonewall him.

“Uh-uh. You’d rather not say? Shoot, you developed a muscle spasm or what?” Ray steered them towards a table in the corner, in private he mostly just called it their table, because they sat there almost every single time they ate there.

“Ah, no. You see, it is… well, you could say they itch.” Fraser gave his collar a little tug.

“That’s what I thought. Come on, let me see them.” Ray hold out his hand.

“See them? I can assure you that won’t be necessary, Ray.” Fraser didn’t portray any intentions of surrendering his treacherous hands to Ray’s inspection.

“I want to. Now give me your hand. I swear Fraser you don’t make helping you real easy, you know?” Fraser must have decided that the issue wasn’t worth one of Ray’s temper tantrums so he reluctantly showed his hands to Ray.

“Hm.” Ray’s fingers moved carefully over the inside of Fraser’s palm, looking for anything that might feel unusual or that could be taken as a sign for a rash or an allergic reaction. “You don’t seem to have a rash or anything. I can’t see anything wrong with your hands.” While he spoke he looked up into Fraser’s concentrated face that looked decidedly red by now.

The waitress chose that moment to inquire what they wanted to order. “Oh, I am sorry. Did I interrupt anything? I’ll just come back in a minute. Ah, take your time.” And with that she disappeared again from view.

“I’m sorry.”

“I’m sorry, Ray.” They both said in unison.

“What do you have to be sorry about, Fraser? It’s fine, what was the poor girl supposed to think? She probably thought that the rule holds true and all the good looking men are gay.” Ray cackled. “Ha, the first girl ever who won’t be trying to hit on you. I am terribly sorry to ruin your chances here.” Ray laughed again gleefully.

Fraser seemed to be a bit taken aback.

“You don’t seem to mind terribly.” He said carefully.

Fraser’s rather earnest expression didn’t seem to register with Ray who appeared unable to get over the plight of the waitress. “Nah, you know me, I’ll try anything once.” He was still laughing. “Besides, we didn’t really do anything.”

Fraser’s expression didn’t look as if he agreed with that statement but he only said, “I see.” and put his hands underneath the table again.

“How is your dating life coming along then?” he asked Ray with an inscrutable look in his eyes.

“Uhm.” Ray sobered up a bit. “Good, I suppose. I’ll probably see her again on the weekend. One downside of working at a police station is having to work night shifts every so often. So she was working yesterday and she is working again tonight.”

“Yes, I can imagine that is a rather unfortunate side effect.”

The waitress reappeared and took their orders without commenting the earlier scene she had witnessed.

Ray’s beer arrived and he resumed their topic of conversation. “Apart from that, it looks almost too good to be true.  She always knows what to say or when and we seem to have a lot of stuff in common. Of course, can’t really say much after a few dates. Everyone can get along fine for a few evenings.” He shrugged.

Fraser mulled this over. “Ah. I can imagine that it is quite nice to have the feeling that someone is right for you.” He looked so earnest that Ray swallowed his teasing remark. That guy had almost no social life and Ray was probably also the only real friend he had. It wasn’t nice to make fun of Fraser’s inability to lead a decent love life. After all, Ray himself hadn’t too much to boast with in that department.

“Did you ever feel that a woman was, you know, right for you?” Ray asked instead and took a swig of his beer.

“A woman?” Fraser’s face clouded over for a split second. “’Right’ is quite possibly not the best word, no. I had wanted her to be right for me. But ultimately I had always known that she wasn’t… that she never could be.” His face looked drawn and very far away. Ray felt sorry that they were even talking about this stupid subject.

Ray touched Fraser’s arm and when he looked up Ray was shocked at the amount of pain he saw in Fraser’s eyes. Whatever he had inadvertently hit upon had really hurt Fraser. More like, scarred him for life from the looks of it.

“Let us not talk of it. Please.” Fraser said quietly. Ray could only nod mutely.  Now, after a long day, in a very public Italian restaurant was probably not the best moment to poke in Fraser’s gloomy past anyway.

Ray tried to lighten the mood but no matter which subject he brought up Fraser was irretrievably stuck in his dark thoughts. Ray fed Dief a few pieces of his Cannelloni, which were really quite good, and Fraser didn’t even mind. Or he didn’t notice. When they left the restaurant Ray was still thinking how he could possibly salvage Fraser’s mood.

When they came to a halt in front of the consulate Ray’s plan hadn’t progressed any. “Uhm, you wanna be alone now?” Ray asked unsure.

“Yes, thank you Ray. I will see you tomorrow.” And with that Fraser turned around and climbed the stairs to the consulate door. Dief whined silently.

“Yeah, I know Dief.” Ray said with a look in Fraser’s direction. “But you can’t really force the man to get it off his chest.” Fraser used his loneliness like a blanket. Most people wanted someone around when they felt bad. Someone who could hug them and tell them that everything would be alright again. Apparently, Fraser was the exception to the rule. Fraser shied away from human contact the more miserable he felt. And Ray didn’t get it. Didn’t Fraser ever need anyone? Everyone needed someone at least in some moments. Maybe Fraser was so used to depending on himself all the time that he really didn’t need anyone else anymore. A bit like Lucky Luke, only with the compass set on North and a wolf as a companion instead of sunsets and a horse. But somehow the comic books had never made it sound so sad.

“I’ll pick ya up tomorrow, Fraser.” Ray called and he saw Fraser nod before he vanished into the consulate.

He vowed that at some point he was going to get that story out of Fraser. As always with such plans, time wasn’t especially forthcoming in helping its fruition along.

The next day Fraser was back to normal. Or whatever Fraser considered as normal. He didn’t bring yesterdays talk up and neither did Ray. Instead both of them tried to focus on the missing piece of their case.

Ray had developed this big theory that Janice was Paul’s wife and that he treated her badly and she wanted out. That was when she started the affair with Ramirez. But Ramirez was poor and her husband was not agreeing to get a divorce. So Janice talked Ramirez into robbing the store, arguing that half of it belonged to her anyway and that with the money from that they could go away and lead a happy life together. It fit perfectly well into Fraser’s whole love and crime theory and Ray was rather proud of it. Sadly, Fraser wasn’t as enthusiastic about Ray’s legendary genius as he was.

Even sadder was the fact that the computer agreed with Fraser. “She’s his sister? That doesn’t make any sense.” Ray complained. Fraser “hm”-ed and started skimming through the files. “Ray I think we should talk to Mr. Pryce again.”

The shop owner acted surprised and swore that he hadn’t seen his sister in years. Ray was already working himself up to some really good head kicking when Fraser held him back and said “Thank you kindly.” Ray started to ask if Fraser had lost his mind when his partner seemed to remember something. “Ah, Mr. Pryce I saw your business cards. Very nice work. Would you mind telling me when you had them printed?” Paul looked suspiciously but answered anyway: “Yeah, around a month ago.”

“Ah. Thank you kindly Mr. Pryce.” With that he pulled Ray out of the store.

“Fraser, what are you doing? This creep is lying. Something’s up, I know it. So how come we’re leaving?” Ray asked incredulously.

“I agree Ray.  He saw his sister more or less recently and not as he claims at least a year ago.”

“You do?” he asked surprised. “How do you know? Did you lick something and notice that it had traces of lipstick on it or did his nose twitch every time you said his sister’s name or what?”

“Don’t be silly Ray, even if I had found traces of lipstick we don’t know which brand Mrs. Pryce favors. No, it is quite obvious, actually. The telephone number on that business card seems to be written by a woman, you can see that from the way the letters are slightly leaning to – but that’s not important right now. What is important is that if Mrs. Pryce has indeed written the telephone number herself than she must have obtained the business card, too. This must have been at some point in the last month because he told us himself that he had them printed rather recently.”

Ray nodded along to this explanation until a thought suddenly came to him. “Back up, wait a second. That means that Janice has only been seeing the robber for a few weeks at the most?”

“It would appear so, yes.” Fraser said.

“I don’t believe that. And that moron is willing to rob a store for her after only knowing her for like four weeks tops? That’s just stupid.”

“Well Ray, while it is certainly not advisable to be so easily taken in by somebody, it happens quite often that people get infatuated with someone shortly after meeting them. Sometimes a first glance is enough to enamour someone.” Ray studied Fraser’s face really carefully, because the Mountie was talking about love again and lately it seemed that this might be really important to understand. But Fraser didn’t look distressed so Ray assumed that this wasn’t what had happened with this mystery woman that always made Fraser look so dark when she appeared in a conversation.

“So, what, you’re saying it might have been love at first sight?” Ray asked, still unsure of this theory.

“It could be. On the other hand it doesn’t have to be love. It might as well be that he is simply powerfully attracted to her.”

Ray thought this over while they grabbed some lunch. While he chewed on his ham and cheese sandwich he realized something.

“One thing doesn’t add up, though.” He said to Fraser. “Why the heck did Pryce lie for his sister?”

“I had wondered about the same thing. It does seem to implicate him in the crime. The question than is what he gained from it.”

“Hm, I think I’ll better look into the files again. Maybe get Elaine to get me some information on that liquor store. Better yet on Paul Pryce, too. You’re on guard duty this afternoon?” Ray licked his fingers absentmindedly.


Fraser seemed to come out of a daze. “Ah, yes. I’m afraid so.”

Ray nodded. “Okay, then I’ll let cha know if anything comes up. Come on then, I’ll drop you off.”

On their way to the consulate Ray remembered something else which he had to take care off before his shift ended. “Say Fraser, what would be a good place for a date, where would you go?”

Fraser looked puzzled again. “In the sense of being a woman?” he asked uncertainly.

“Yeah, sure. Why not. If you were a woman, where would you like me to take you?” Fraser coughed as if something had just gone down the wrong pipe. “Take me?” his voice squeaked a bit. Ray thumped him on the back. “Easy there, this isn’t rocket science, alright? Go with your gut.”

Fraser regained some of his composure and gave Ray’s question a moment of thought.

“Alright. Well, there is a nice exhibition in the art gallery at the moment, however-”

“You would really like to go to a museum on your date?” Ray interrupted Fraser.

“Is there anything wrong with that?” When it came to dating, Fraser always sounded as if those questions had a right and a wrong answer and it was obvious that he was trying very hard to get it right.

“Uh, no. Not at all. It’s just that, uh, I can’t see Melissa enjoying an exhibition about Inuit sandstone very much.” He smiled to take the edge away.

“Soapstone, Ray.” Fraser corrected with a mischievous expression in his eyes.

“Yeah, that neither.” Ray grinned. “Give me something else. I have absolutely no idea where I could go with her tonight.”

Fraser thought about this for a moment. “In my limited experiences I would say that the location isn’t all that important. Usually the only important thing is that both feel comfortable there. And maybe you can combine this with something she enjoys.”

It was kinda cute to listen to Fraser’s idea of dating. Also, he had a point there. “Come to think of it… there is this nice bar that I’m sure she would like and since it’s Friday there is probably going to be a live band on, too. Might not be such a bad idea. Thanks, Fraser.”

“You’re very welcome, Ray.” Fraser said although he didn’t sound particularly enthusiastic about it. On the other hand, what did Fraser have to look forward to? Another night at the consulate, great plans for a Friday night. So, yeah, Fraser probably had no reason to feel all that enthusiastic about Ray’s date.

After Ray had dropped Fraser off he tried to get the last of his paperwork in order. He managed to find out that Pryce had some serious debts to pay. If Ray had to hazard a guess he would say gambling wasn’t Pryce’s biggest talent. The only thing missing was the elusive sister. Since it was getting late anyway Ray wasn’t terribly concerned about that.

He picked Melissa up shortly after 8 and the bar was already relatively crowded when they arrived. They found a table with a moderate view of the stage and got settled. Melissa raised her voice a bit to be heard over the noise of the music. “This is quite the nice spot. What gave you that idea?” Ray grinned at her, “Actually, my partner said something that inspired me.”

“Yeah, what’s he like?” she inquired.

“He’s amazing.” And then it dawned on Ray that this might not be the most appropriate description of the guy you’re working with. “I mean, he’s Canadian and he’s got all those ideals about parents putting their kids to bed safely and ridding the street of danger and such stuff. Like superman without a cape.” He shook his head.

“You seem to care a good deal about him. He must be a pretty good guy.”

“Yeah, well. You know how it is with cops and their partners. I mean, I guess we’re best friends,” Ray thought about that for a second, “although at times I am not exactly sure why. I’ve stopped counting all the times where he endangered our lives in wildly bizarre ways. Sometimes he’s just freaky, despite all his perfection in other areas.” Ray shrugged and shot her a grin. “You can’t really describe the guy. He’s just…special.” Ray winked at her and she laughed. “Sounds like quite the character to me.” The music was pretty decent and Ray marvelled at how easy this was. Fraser and he would have had a discussion about his one beer even though Fraser knew perfectly well that Ray was more than able to drive with one beer in his system and then he would get in Fraser’s face and Fraser would get snarky with him and, no, it just wouldn’t have been this easy.

This was quite a nice way to end a week, Ray thought. Comfy and relaxed, in good company and with good music, Ray had no complaints.

When the second band took the stage Melissa laid her hand on the tabletop. Ray took her hand in his and tried to memorize the feeling of her smaller hand in his own. He remembered holding Fraser’s hand yesterday evening in much the same way. How funny it was that Melissa’s hand should now feel so small in comparison, when he should have thought Fraser’s hand simply bigger than normal. He kissed her knuckles and for a second he had the feeling that Fraser’s hand would probably be just as smooth.

He started feeling really annoyed with himself. Here he was on a perfect date at the end of a long week and he couldn’t enjoy it because he was constantly thinking of Fraser, who really had no business being in his thoughts while Ray was on a date.

The band called a short break and Melissa looked intently at Ray. “What would you say about going to my place now?”

“I would say that I am all over that.” answered Ray readily. Maybe they could find something to do where he had no data on Fraser.

They started kissing somewhere between the door to her flat and halfway into the hallway. Ray could hear his blood singing all the way down to his toes. This was so different from Stella, Melissa wasn’t as fragile and she was good deal shorter and Ray loved all those things about her. It was so easy; he knew exactly where he stood. There was no question of who was in charge or what he was supposed to do. This was as easy as breathing. He walked her backwards to her couch where they collapsed in a tangle of limbs. Their lips still interlocked and Ray’s hands almost everywhere all at once. Right before Ray was about to suggest that they get rid of at least a few articles of clothing an annoying, repetitive sound permeated his haze. “Wha?” he asked eloquently.

“Oh no… He wouldn’t dare.” Melissa growled and disentangled herself from Ray. She picked up the phone and her expression already told Ray that he wasn’t going to lose any clothes anytime soon.

“Tom, I told you I had a date tonight. You promised you wouldn’t call me.” She began to walk around the flat. “Yeah…. yeah, of course I understand.” She looked back at Ray and shrugged helplessly. She mouthed the word “work” before she spoke into the receiver again, “Do you really think this is necessary?” She sighed and started nodding. “Okay, okay. Be right over. I’ll call you back.”

Everything in her posture said defeat but at least she didn’t want to stop their groping session either, which made Ray feel at least a little better.

“I’m so sorry Ray. This is my free evening and all but Tom and his partner were on a stakeout tonight and apparently something went down there. They need me at the station I have to get them some information… Man, this sucks. I hope you’re not angry or anything.” She said dejectedly.

“Nah.” Ray ambled over to her and pulled her into a hug. He wondered how very small she felt in his arms. “It’s alright. I know the drill. Maybe some other time. Can I drop you off somewhere?”

“I’ll just drive there myself. God knows how long this is going to take.” She smiled at him and kissed him sweetly on the cheek.

Ray was still brimming with energy on his way home. Even though nothing much happened he still felt like a stud. He moved with a kind of restlessness through his flat, not quite sure what he wanted to do now. It wasn’t all that late but it was definitely too late to go out and find something else to occupy his time with. He opened a beer and leaned against the kitchen counter. “It’s funny.” He mused, pulling long, thirsty gulps from the bottle. “Wasn’t even planning to be on my best behaviour and now I end up dating Fraser style anyway.” He laughed to himself. Fraser would have probably thought that helping to solve a crime on your free evening is the only thing better than having sex.

Hell, he could finish what Melissa and he had started himself. Course, nothing like the real thing but Ray could deal and at least he had something concrete to base his fantasy on this time. He started to strip down, losing the shirt on the way past the couch, unbuckling his belt and dropping his trousers together with his socks in the doorframe of his bedroom and kicking his shorts off before climbing into bed. He stretched out and rummaged shortly in his bedside drawer until he found the bottle of slick. “Oh, yeah. What did Fraser always say? Proper preparation and so on.” He grinned wickedly.

He leaned back against the pillows and let his eyes drop shut. His left hand wandered down between his legs and fondled his balls. He tried to recall the way Melissa had felt in his arms, the way her mouth had opened so eagerly to his and how soft her lips had been. His cock was already taking an interest in the whole scenario so he used his right hand for a few languid pulls. No need to rush this, this was good. He thought about Melissa’s hand moving down his body and gripping his cock just so– he hissed, yeah, — and how she would tease the head, flicking her thumb over the sensitive slit. A moan escaped his lips. She would be achingly slow about it, twisting her hand just so every time she reached the tip and Ray arched his back and planted his feet firmly on the bed. He scrambled with his left hand for the lube and squeezed a few drops on his achingly hot cock. He bit his lip when the cold came into contact with his skin. The glide made his movements all the smoother and he moaned again. Melissa’s hand grew more forceful, pulling him faster and faster towards his climax and then she slowed down again, teasing him and he tried to bring his breathing under control again. His fingers trailed a line around the head of his cock where Ray was already leaking copiously. In his mind, Melissa started those teasing strokes again, the ones that started right at the base and which he seemed to feel right to the tips of his hair. He imagined her kissing him, hungrily and aggressively. He tried to picture her small hand moving up and down on his cock. Somehow that was all wrong. Whenever he didn’t fully concentrate on it, the hand seemed to grow bigger. Until the hand was almost bigger than his own, a hand that could really wrap itself around Ray’s cock without any problem. He gasped and rolled his hips in one involuntary movement. He didn’t wanna think about this, not now. But the big hand was doing an even better job of pushing him to the brink again. Ray imagined that a second hand closed loosely around his balls, then he saw a flash of tongue and the moment he imagined that mouth touching his cock he was gone. He screamed and arched his back. He shot his load all over his stomach and his eyes flew open. The last he had seen were blue eyes and a wicked smile where a prim and proper mouth should have been. Ray lay there panting and tried mostly not to think at all. He didn’t want to look too closely at what had just happened. On the contrary, if Ray had any say in that matter, than nothing had happened, nothing at all. And he would do his damndest to ensure that his mind would remember it this way.

He groped around for a tissue and cleaned himself before moving under the covers and trying to get some sleep.

Ray’s plan not to remember anything out of the ordinary would have had a better chance of succeeding had there not been a knock on his door the very next morning, a very polite knock. Ray groaned. How late was it? He squinted at his alarm clock which told him that it was not even ten ‘o clock. “This had better be good.” Ray muttered to himself, shrugging into a pair of old sweats and a T-Shirt he found lying on the chair in the corner. “’m coming.” He called and opened the door. Fraser stood on the other side. Wearing casual clothes, a small smile and carrying a bag that Ray took to contain pastries.

“Good morning Ray.” Fraser tried to sound especially bright but so far Ray couldn’t see what was especially good about this morning. He was about to comment on this personal insight of his when he looked at Fraser’s face and – quite involuntarily – focused on his mouth. Ray slowly turned a light shade of red.

Fraser’s face fell. “Oh, I take it this is a rather bad time. Well, I’ll just, I’ll be,.. Dief come…” he turned around and started to make his way back into the stairway. Ray finally unfroze and regained at least a modicum of his equilibrium back.

“Fraser, wait. This is not a bad time. Come in. I’m just, well, I’m just not fully awake yet.” Fraser visibly relaxed and entered Ray’s apartment.

Fraser looked around and seemed to notice in exactly the same moment as Ray did the trail of clothes leading from the kitchen to Ray’s bedroom.

“Uh…” This was not turning into Ray’s favorite morning. He sighed. It was too late to salvage anything now anyway. “Take a seat, Fraser. I’ll just, um, clean up. I’ll only be a second.” Fraser nodded and put the baked goods in the kitchen where he started to make coffee. Ray was never as thankful as in that very moment. Of course, if Fraser hadn’t decided to come by Ray wouldn’t be in such dire need of coffee in the first place.

He picked up his clothes and stuffed them in the laundry basket in the bathroom. He tried to clean up as good as possible and put on a pair of jeans and a fresh T-Shirt. At least he didn’t feel so out of sorts anymore. Time to face the music. When he came into the kitchen Fraser had already prepared everything for breakfast and Ray had a cup of coffee waiting for him on the counter. He blew on it and looked at Fraser. “Thank you for the coffee. So, what brings you here Frase?” Ray yawned in his coffee.

Fraser stood a little straighter. “Ah, I was awake rather early and when I took Diefenbaker for a walk he decided, since we were in the neighbourhood, to pay you a visit.”

Ray’s eyes narrowed. “Fraser, it’s gotta be at least 20 blocks to my apartment, you cannot be in the neighbourhood.”

“I simply fancied a walk, Ray.” And you see this was what Ray had learned about Fraser. The more reasonable he made something out to be the freakier the reason usually was.

“How come you were up so early?” Ray asked while he took a seat at the table. No need to waste a perfectly good breakfast.

“I didn’t sleep very well.” Fraser admitted and Ray translated that into hardly at all. If you looked closely enough, you could see the dark circles under his blue eyes. Ray tried not to look too closely.

“What, the Canadian paperwork keep you up?” Ray grinned and Fraser answered it with a tired one of his own.

“I’m afraid nothing so simple. Let’s just say that my imagination is sometimes more vivid than I care for. I simply couldn’t find any peace yesterday. Nevertheless, it is hardly worth mentioning. A little less sleep never hurt anybody. This, however, enabled me to take care of my chores at the consulate rather early so that I could come and find out how your evening had been.” Fraser said calmly, spreading a thin sheet of butter on his bread roll.

“Huh… I get that. My own imagination is kinda strange. Hey, do you think it’s possible to imagine stuff that you don’t even want in reality?” Ray kept his stare fixed on his coffee cup.

Fraser paused for a second. “Yes, I think so. I, myself, see things quite often that I would rather not see.”

Ray relaxed a bit. “Yeah? Good.” He took a sip of his coffee and lounged a bit more in his chair. “So anyway, my date was great. That advice you gave me about being comfortable and stuff really paid off.” Ray grinned at Fraser. “Although we didn’t get to do more than kissing because they had an emergency at the station and she had to get in.” Ray shrugged. If she had stayed Ray probably wouldn’t have to worry about strange images now, he grimaced. He looked at Fraser only to find that he had somehow frozen in place. “Fraser, you alright?” Ray asked concerned.

Fraser seemed to shake whatever it was that was bothering him and focused again on the conversation at hand. “I am sure that kissing alone was already quite a rewarding experience.” He sounded so stiff and sad that Ray wasn’t entirely sure if it was such a good idea to be constantly told how Ray’s dates went. But Fraser was interested and he genuinely cared about Ray’s happiness so it would only hurt Fraser if Ray didn’t want to talk about it with him. “Well it was a nice way to end the evening, I suppose.” Ray said carefully.

Fraser stood up and started to put his breakfast stuff into the sink. “Well, I suppose I should be going then.”

Ray did a double take. Was it just him who was so slow this morning? “Huh? Why? You got to be somewhere?”

Fraser looked incredibly polite when he answered, “Actually no Ray, I simply didn’t want to impose on you. I already woke you up; there is really no need to interrupt any other plans you might have.”

Ray hated it when Fraser made it sound as if Ray didn’t want him there. He sighed. This man was really beyond irritating sometimes. “Fraser, when do you get it into your thick skull that I do not have anything better to do than hang around with you? You’re like the biggest asset of my social calendar, understood?”

“Understood.” But the blinding smile Fraser gave him made Ray’s breathing stutter for a moment. Fraser wasn’t supposed to make him feel like he had accomplished something when he didn’t even do anything besides existing. It just wasn’t fair that Fraser could be made happy so easily.

They went grocery shopping since Ray’s kitchen was devoid of anything even remotely edible. This wasn’t exactly an easy task with Fraser always niggling how Ray should buy more nutritious food or how half his cleaning products contained something harmful to the environment and how most of them could be just as easily replaced by some of Fraser’s own concoctions.  Nonetheless, Ray had to hide a smirk at the cash register. The old lady working there had probably seen them a thousand times shopping together. Ray’s whole neighbourhood probably thought that Fraser and he were together. He was especially careful to buy his lube and his condoms nowhere in the vicinity of his apartment; it might just about kill the granny at the supermarket. Afterwards they went to the park with Dief who got petted by the kids from the playground and was therefore also one happy family member. They argued about dinner because Fraser had mentioned Chinese food but he didn’t like Ray’s favorite place – saying that this wasn’t genuine Cantonese cuisine, whatever that meant – and Ray knew perfectly well that they had gone to Fraser’s place the last time. In the end they settled for cooking at Ray’s apartment. Ray liked the hominess of preparing food himself and Fraser was actually quite the decent cook. In his own small kitchen Ray always noticed just how big Fraser was. That guy had a real presence about him. You couldn’t not notice him. Most of the time, however, Ray didn’t feel that small compared to him but in his own kitchen Ray felt acutely aware of the fact. It made him think strange things. How embracing Fraser would be quite the different experience and how Fraser could easily shove him up against a wall and – Ray really didn’t need more thoughts along that line.

Evenings like that were different. Fraser didn’t seem relaxed, per se, but he appeared to be a bit more at ease. He smiled more readily and Ray even caught him cracking a joke… a small one, but nonetheless. Ray thought all this felt really nice. So while he was setting the table for dinner and Fraser was busy watching the stove he asked: “So Fraser, this what a date with you would look like?” There was a crash behind him. Fraser had dropped a few pieces of cutlery that he had intended to hand to Ray. “What do you mean?” Fraser looked tense and Ray was afraid that he might have said something that really affronted Fraser. “I- I’m sorry… uh, it’s just, this looks like something right out of your book. I didn’t mean that we have a date or anything. I just meant… uh, forget it.” Ray grimaced. Stupid of him, really, you couldn’t go around asking other men if some activity with them looked like a date – not even if the man in question was Canadian. Fraser visibly tried to relax and took a deep breath. “No, it’s alright Ray. I was just… surprised.” He tried to smile encouragingly. “Yes, I think you have a point. This is the kind of date I would enjoy.” Ray smiled shyly, glad that Fraser didn’t seem to mind his big mouth. He went behind the kitchen counter to retrieve the cutlery Fraser had tried to gather before Ray’s mouth interrupted and Fraser handed it to him. Their fingers brushed and Ray had to close his eyes for a second because the memory of his sex fantasy and those hands came back to him in a rush. Ray excused himself to go to the bathroom before dinner and sagged against the inside of his bathroom door. “Shit.” He whispered succinctly. His hands were shaking ever so slightly. Ray didn’t even understand it. It wasn’t like he was lusting after his best friend. He really had no designs. But somehow Fraser and sex had gotten mixed up in his brain. Probably because Fraser was the absolute polar opposite of sex and Ray had felt lucky enough those last few days that sex might make a reappearance in his life. And as far as sexual fantasies went it didn’t get much dirtier than fantasizing about Fraser, that guy just looked as pure as the freshly driven snow. Ray went to the sink and held his hands underneath the cold water. Breathe in, breathe out. When Ray emerged from the bathroom Fraser had already prepared the food on the table. They were almost finished with dinner and half way through bickering about what to watch on telly when the phone rang.

“Ray Vecchio…. oh, hey Melissa…. mhm… nah, I had a quiet day…. “Fraser watched him as Ray wandered around the flat with the receiver pressed to his ear. He seemed at ease and at some point he ruffled through his own hair, wearing a sheepish expression on his face. Ray’s metal bracelet clinked quietly against the plastic of the receiver and Ray laughed. “No, no, sounds good…yeah, I’d like that…okay, greatness. See you tomorrow. Bye.” Ray got off the phone and smiled at Fraser. “Looks like my mechanical skills are required tomorrow. Apparently, a friend of a friend or some such of Melissa wants to sell her his car since she was thinking about a new one and she figured I’ve got some hidden car mechanic inside of me.” He laughed, pleased by the praise, “So, I’m gonna take a look at it tomorrow. See if it’s any good.”

“I’m sure your opinion will be invaluable.” Fraser said while he brought their empty plates to the sink.

At first Ray thought Fraser was making fun of him but when Fraser didn’t say anymore he thought that maybe Fraser really did value his knowledge that highly. The Leafs were on so they settled in to watch the game. The evening passed in such a normal way that Ray had really almost forgotten about the incident from last night by the time Fraser got ready to leave. He said his goodbyes and got ready for bed. Lying down he was severely tempted to do a bit more than sleeping. Deep down, however, Ray didn’t want to think anymore and he didn’t want to risk seeing blue eyes again at the crucial moment because that would lead to questions and Ray didn’t have any answers. So he decided to be good and just go to sleep.

The next day was actually quite fun. Ray got to drive the car around, look underneath the hood and impress Melissa with all the titbits of knowledge he had picked up over the years. In the end she took the car and they went to a nice little restaurant to celebrate her newest purchase. There wasn’t even any arguing about which restaurant to pick. Ray just suggested the Beijing Garden – the Chinese restaurant Fraser wasn’t a big fan of – and she agreed. Sitting in the restaurant Ray himself couldn’t have explained why he almost felt disappointed with this development.

On the next morning Ray discovered his blue shirt hanging in front of his wardrobe. He took a short whiff, even if he had only worn it that one day, you never knew, but not being able to smell anything at all except for a little residue of his aftershave he put it on. He flicked through the case files while he was waiting for Fraser to appear at the station. So he was quite surprised when he heard Fraser call his name and looked up to see a rather resigned expression on Fraser’s face.

“Uh, hello. Everything alright there, Fraser buddy?” Ray asked. It was way too early to have pissed someone off already, especially since he hadn’t even seen Fraser till now.

Fraser looked as if he did an inward sigh. “Yes, everything seems to be in order, Ray.” But when Ray started to tell Fraser about the debts Pryce had to pay off and gestured around to emphasise his point he thought he knew why Fraser hadn’t looked too happy about seeing him. Ray had only started tapping with his index finger on his desk to illustrate that he had it in black and white in his case files when he noticed that Fraser was turning his Stetson around in his hands again. At first he thought that Fraser was impatient so he hurried on with the explanation, however, this didn’t deter Fraser from his hat trick. Ray couldn’t quite place the gesture but something was burning at the back of his mind.

Ray went and got the files from the insurance company and spread them over the desk. He took a seat and Fraser came to stand behind him. Fraser’s hand rested next to the folder and that’s when Ray could finally place Fraser’s strange mood. He had just been telling Fraser that the money from the insurance company would have covered a good deal of Pryce’s debts when Fraser’s hand twitched again. His knuckles turned white for a second; as if Fraser had used all the force under his command to make his hand stay still and everything went back to normal. Maybe Fraser should really go see a doctor. Spasms in your hand could not be taken as a good sign, no matter what the nationality. He looked up at Fraser but only got a smile in return so he decided not to comment on it. “So, what do you think?” Ray asked after he was done filling him in.

“Good work Ray. I think it would be a good idea if we try to track down Mrs. Pryce. I presume that we will find Mr. Ramirez at the same time.”

The given address wasn’t that far away but traffic was hell, so Ray couldn’t be entirely sure if he had seen another one of Fraser’s spasms or if he had only imagined it. When they arrived at the building no one was home. Ray didn’t have much patience with warrants and other legal matters so he simply broke into the flat and started snooping around. “What do you think? She left for Mexico or something?” Ray asked trying to find anything of valuable information in the quite tastefully done flat. One thing was for sure, this was quite another league than the apartment of her lover.

“No, I don’t think so. Look at this.” Fraser handed him a grocery bill, the date said the 27th.  Ray counted back the days. “Hey, that was the day before we asked her brother about her.”

“Mhm. It would seem likely that they are indeed working together. He probably told her to keep a low profile for a while.” Fraser said.

“Wherever she went she will have needed money… let’s go ask the bank where she used some in the last 24 hours.” Ray suggested.

An hour later they knew that Mrs. Pryce had checked into a small hotel near the lakeside; according to the rate she had rented a double room. “Bingo.” Ray grinned at Faser. “Pitter, patter. Let’s get at ‘er, Fraser.”

When they arrived at the hotel they were told that Mrs. Pryce had rented one of the rooms on the first floor. It wasn’t the Ritz, but it wasn’t a cheap place either. Ray figured the Pryce family tended to live beyond their means. The moment they knocked on the door, they could hear a commotion inside. Fraser motioned for Ray to split up, so while Fraser broke into the room Ray turned around to meet them at the other side of the building. There were only so many ways in which to leave a hotel room. The first floor was definitely still possible to leave through the window. When Ray rounded the corner he drew his gun. Apparently the situation was getting a bit out of hand. Janice was a stunning woman for sure. Way younger than her brother and obviously used to men falling to her feet. She stood behind Mr. Ramirez and was urging him on. Ray crept closer and saw that Raymond Ramirez had a gun in his shaking hands, and that gun was directly pointed at Fraser who was standing unarmed with his hands in a placating gesture no seven feet away. Ray moved from behind the large metal container which was probably used to store the trash and shouted “Freeze! Chicago PD!” The gun swivelled to point at him but Janice shouted at Raymond, “NO, keep it trained on the Mountie. If he moves so much as a muscle, shoot him.” She turned towards Ray and asked threateningly, “We wouldn’t want your partner to come to any harm now, would we? Drop the gun and kick it over here.” Ray started to lower his gun and continued walking towards the trio, trying to close the distance to Fraser. “I said put it down! Now!” Janice screeched. The moment Ray started to bend down he knew what was gonna happen. He could already see Fraser beginning to tense. He would try to tackle Mr. Ramirez the moment they were distracted by Ray’s movement.

But Ray could see that Raymond was losing his nerves. It was quite obvious that he wasn’t an experienced gun man and that he had no idea how to deal with this kind of situation. The finger on the trigger was shaking so badly that Ray thought they were quite lucky that he hadn’t accidentally shot anyone so far.

The second his piece touched the ground he saw Fraser prepared to charge but so did Janice who screeched at Ramirez “Shoot! Shoot him!” And everything happened too quickly for Ray to actually follow anything. He knew that he must have moved towards Fraser. He saw like in slow motion how Ramirez pulled the trigger, his aim terribly off. Ray collided with a strong chest and felt fingers gripping his sides and the moment his breath left him in a rush he felt a clear pain in his upper arm. Ray sank to his knees and the next moment Fraser had Ramirez on the ground. Ray felt around in his pockets with shaking fingers and threw him a pair of handcuffs while he retrieved his gun and pointed it at Janice Pryce. A second later Fraser had both of them cuffed and jumped to Ray’s side as if the future of the world depended on it. Ray was looking a bit white in the face but he was pretty sure that he was still alive, so he decided to count his blessings.

“Ray–!” And Fraser indeed seemed to need a second to find the words. “Ray, is everything alright? Are you hurt?” Fraser nimble finger started to skim every piece of Ray they could get a hold on until they came to his right arm. “Ouch, careful there.” Ray exclaimed and jumped a bit to the side. “Why didn’t you wear a vest? Ray, you are supposed to wear a vest. Why don’t you have a vest?” Fraser started to babble and at that moment Ray realized that Fraser was way more freaked out than he was. “Fraser it’s alright. I think the bullet only grazed me.” He tried to remove his jacket but only managed after Fraser helped him to pull the sleeve over his shoulder. Fraser started to undo the buttons of Ray’s new shirt and continued speaking in that soft agitated voice, “I miscalculated. I—Ray, if his aim hadn’t been off at the crucial moment he might have killed you.” Ray lifted his good arm and laid his hand on Fraser’s arm. “Fraser, if I hadn’t stepped in between, he would have hit you. And his aim was off, so I’m still here. Ok?” It was obvious that Fraser really had to reign in his emotions in order to get some control back. He nodded, his pale face still portraying the shock he had felt. Fraser carefully stripped the shirt away on Ray’s right sight and looked at the wound. Ray had been right, the bullet hadn’t gone in. The grazing shot was still deeper than Fraser would have liked. “We will need to get you to a doctor with that wound.” Ray nodded and Fraser helped him to pull his shirt on again, lingering a bit at the last moment, as if he felt the fabric between his fingers. Ray wanted to laugh because it seemed as if Fraser was quite helpless in the face of the temptation that his new shirt proved to be but he wasn’t sure if that was only the shock of being shot speaking or the adrenaline of the whole showdown. So he just grinned a bit foolishly and decided to sit on the cold street for a moment longer. Fraser patted Ray down and finally hit upon his mobile phone with which he called for backup. It didn’t take long for Huey and Dewey to arrive. They took their statements and escorted Mrs. Pryce and Mr. Ramirez back to the station. Fraser helped Ray up. “We should get you to a hospital, Ray.” They made their way back to the car and Ray didn’t even put up a fight when Fraser demanded that he should drive; he simply handed over the keys and sank into the other seat. Ray wasn’t a big fan of hospitals but he didn’t have it in him to argue. And left to his own devices Fraser would certainly have produced some foul smelling concoction of even more horror than any doctor could fabricate. Fraser didn’t seem to find Ray’s lack of protest very reassuring. He constantly glanced over to Ray’s side and he even drove a bit above the speed limit. “Fraser, I’m fine. Honestly.” That statement was thankfully backed up by the doctor who dressed Ray’s wound. “Well, you certainly were lucky. There appears s to be no muscle damage. It should heal quite nicely.”

That evening when Ray lay on the couch telling Melissa over the phone what had happened he couldn’t get rid of Fraser’s pale, anxious face looming above him and he wasn’t sure what that was supposed to mean.

The next week passed rather quickly. They wrapped their case up which wasn’t much work anymore. Mrs. Pryce and her brother had indeed conspired to pull off an insurance scam and Mr. Ramirez was more or less a victim of his own passions. He continued to defend Mrs. Pryce even though she had made him rob a store and shoot an officer. Janice on the other hand didn’t seem to have much tender feelings left for him now that she didn’t need him anymore. Imagine Ray’s surprise. With all the paperwork and his right arm still hurting when he flexed his muscles Ray was at least safe from any late night discoveries done by his right hand. A circumstance Ray was profoundly grateful for. In Ray’s opinion his situation had turned complicated enough without any more discoveries. He had had a few more dates with Melissa and all of them went great which should have made Ray one happy man. Except he wasn’t and he couldn’t really put his finger on it. It went like this: Most of the time Melissa was easy. They had no disagreements, they had no fights. And Ray didn’t know what should be wrong with liking it smooth. But somewhere along the way this had depressed Ray. He felt like he didn’t much care for perfect agreement. What was even worse, he constantly had to compare her to Fraser and how this discussion or this situation would have gone with him. It was driving him nuts and it certainly wasn’t Melissa’s fault. So one evening when he had dinner with Fraser at that small Mexican restaurant he couldn’t keep it in anymore. “Hey, Fraser, do you think someone can be too right? Like there’s something like being too perfect?” Ray asked cautiously.

Fraser tilted his head and looked seriously at Ray. Of course, didn’t have to be a genius to know what Ray was talking about. “You mean if a relationship can be too smooth? That too much harmony can lead to boredom?” Fraser didn’t sound as if that was something to be proud of and Ray felt sorry that he had asked. “Yeah, I mean someone can be completely right for you but it means nothing to you? You know that this would be easy and it would work but you don’t really want it anyway because… there might be something else?”

Fraser thought about this. “In the sense of finding something better? You know Ray it is usually only an illusion that there is something better waiting behind the next bend.” Fraser’s tongue crept out to wet the corner of his mouth. So the Mountie was trying to tread really carefully here. That almost made Ray feel better.

“No, no… Not just in general. But you know that there’s something and it might not be as perfect it could be…more…right for you or something?” Ray tried again. This wasn’t quite as easily explained as he had hoped.

“Ah. I see. Well, only you can say what is right for you and what isn’t. So whatever perfect thing you might have, if it doesn’t make you happy it probably isn’t right for you.” Fraser looked as if he was trying to gauge Ray’s reaction. And Ray felt, well, mostly relieved. Hearing Fraser say it like that made it all sound so logical. Of course, that didn’t mean that it made more sense if you looked real close but it sounded like a simple enough explanation for the overall situation.

Ray let go of a breath he hadn’t known he was holding. “Thanks, Fraser. I thought I was losing my mind.”

Fraser wet his lips again before he spoke again. “I take it you had some specific situation in mind then?”

And wasn’t this the kicker? Fight or flight Kowalski, Ray thought.

“Yeah…  just, things with Melissa are great and everything. It just… it feels as if something’s missing.” – Which was a pretty decent way of putting it, all things considered.

“Ah.” Fraser replied cryptically.

Ray sighed. “Just forget about it Fraser, just me freaking out. ‘is all. Not like that’s anything new.” He grinned apologetically. And Fraser didn’t press because Fraser, you see, he was a guy who really respected privacy. Him and privacy they went way back. In fact, they had a long standing agreement to always stick up for another. The way Ray saw it good things didn’t last anyway so he could just lean back and let things take their course. No reason to rush in and do the dirty work himself.

A few days later he even had himself convinced that, all in all, his life was a pretty decent one at the moment. Things with Melissa were great. Sure, Fraser made life more interesting but those two things were absolutely not related to each other, so why bother thinking about it?

Of course, that theory only survived until the real world made a short reappearance in Ray’s peachy life.

They were on their way to grab something for lunch when Fraser heard sounds of a fight and broke into a run to investigate. Two blocks down a fist fight had broken out between the members of two rival gangs. Ray thought that they probably hadn’t even been aiming for Fraser, cause when he rounded the corner it was pretty much every man for himself and he had to fire two warning shots before he was able to break up the fight. Fraser wasn’t even badly hurt – probably more surprised that someone had managed to hit him at all. But the blow to Fraser’s face had cut his lip and he might develop a nice case of a black eye. Ray called the fight in and took Fraser back to the station.

“Let’s get you cleaned up. Here.” And Ray pressed Fraser into one of the chairs in front of his desk. He went and got the first aid kit and got some antibiotic ointment and some salve out of it. “Just hold still and we’ll be finished in a second.” Ray murmured, concentrating on his hands. A second later he looked at Fraser and suddenly Ray realized how very close he was to Fraser’s blue eyes. “Uhm, I’ll just…get started.” He mumbled. But looking at Fraser’s mouth didn’t make his situation any better. He tried to swallow around a suddenly dry throat. Careful with the antibiotic on Fraser’s split lip he started to clean the wound. The Mountie couldn’t keep a small flinch from showing on his features. “I’m sorry, I’ll be quick.” Ray explained and went to get the salve. He hurried to be over and done with this task and stepped back hastily once he was finished with the salve.

“Thank you, Ray.”

Ray turned around, pretending to busy himself with putting the stuff away. “Nah, don’t mention it.” Thinking: ‘ever’.

For some reason Ray couldn’t fathom, things with Fraser always caused a real big blip on his radar. So he should have foreseen that this would come back to haunt him.

That evening he had another date with Melissa at her place again. He had every intention of finally getting beyond second base tonight no matter what happened.

Obviously, Ray hadn’t gotten the memo that intentions were a waste of time. Towards the end of their dinner Ray noticed that Melissa had a little speck of sauce on her upper lip. He reached out to wipe it away with his finger, “You have something—“ and the moment his finger touched her lip he was assaulted with images of Fraser’s perfect mouth. The way his lips had looked so soft despite the bruise and how disappointed he had been that this sinful tongue had stayed where it belonged instead of playing weird tricks on Ray’s mind. The movement of his hand stuttered and he looked up to meet Melissa’s eyes which were looking rather questioningly at him. “It’s, uh… you had a bit of… sauce, there.” He finished lamely.

It wasn’t fair. Fraser was ruining his relationship and didn’t even know it. Ray really needed a way to make some of the blame stick to Fraser because shirking responsibility like that wasn’t buddies. “I should go.” And Ray invented a few excuses that weren’t fooling anyone but there was simply no way that he was staying the night.

Thinking of Fraser’s lips was one thing, the possibility of ending up thinking of… other parts, while he was trying to have sex with a woman was way more than Ray could handle. And since he couldn’t very well tell Fraser to stay out of his thoughts anymore than he already did he had to tell his sex plans to take a leave of absence for the unforeseeable future. He hung his head and slunk out of the apartment. Ray could see the Talk, with a capital t, already looming at the horizon for the next time he met Melissa.

A little while later Ray lay in bed trying in vain to end this shitty evening as quickly as possible yet sleep evaded him. And wasn’t that the story of his life? He always ended up with the long, drawn-out, extended version of everything that could suck. He pounded his pillow and tried to find a different position to sleep in.

“Stupid Fraser…” he muttered. If he hadn’t interfered, Ray would be having sex now. He turned on his other side and sighed.

And in his self-righteous anger Ray didn’t see why he shouldn’t have sex tonight anyway. After all it was Fraser’s fault that he didn’t get any so if fantasy Fraser had any objections about being part of Ray’s sex life than he would just have to deal with it.

“You just wait, Fraser.” He muttered while he retrieved his trusted companions from the bedside table. Flinging the lube and the tissues on the bed he made himself comfortable.  He would end this newly found obsession once and for all. It was a foolproof plan; call it poetic justice, karmic retribution.

Ray reached down and closed his hand around his cock. He gave it a few languid pulls until it was fully hard and then he closed his eyes and surrendered himself to fantasy. It was harder to imagine Fraser letting go, of just taking it, it was way easier to imagine Fraser doing the touching. Fraser did everything with a stubborn single-mindedness and just imagining this quiet intensity focused solely on Ray himself turned him on so hard he had trouble keeping the slow pace he had set with his hand. The slow rhythm was driving him nuts simply because it wasn’t enough but Fraser would make it worth his while, he would make sure of that. Fraser would be kneeling before him, trapped between his legs and Ray would be completely naked, whereas Fraser would still be mostly dressed. He had taken of his tunic, and his Henley had a few buttons open, revealing a delicious glimpse of smooth skin. Fraser was looking at Ray’s cock and Ray could see that pink tongue sneaking out to wet Fraser’s lips. Ray gulped and Fraser reached out with one hand to pull Ray’s cock into his mouth. Instantly, Ray’s cock was engulfed in the tight heat of Fraser’s mouth and Fraser,  he just made this happy little sound, and started to explore Ray’s cock from top to bottom. That agile tongue was mapping every inch of his cock, Fraser’s lips glistened with saliva and yet he couldn’t seem to get enough of it. He sucked hungrily, as if he had been starving for it. His tongue pressed against the underside of Ray’s cock as if trying to wring more flavour from it and Ray had to hang onto the last shreds of his control not to just finish himself off just then.  But then Fraser released his cock, tonguing the head and spreading saliva all around the sensitive crown. Ray gasped, his hips bucking, and he heard Fraser murmuring: “Spread you legs, Ray” In a silky voice that Ray had never heard before but which had him trembling all over. And Ray complied; he couldn’t have stopped his legs from spreading as far as they could go if his life had depended on it. Fraser licked down the side of Ray’s cock and then greedily dived in for more of it, trying to fit it all in. Which just wasn’t possible, but it didn’t deter Fraser who tried to take him in even deeper. Ray moaned helplessly, he could feel one of Fraser’s hands travelling up his body until it reached his lips. Ray caught two fingers with his mouth and mimicked Fraser’s movement, wetting them down, licking between the digits and swirling his tongue over the sensitive pads of the fingertips. He felt Fraser withdraw his hand and a disappointed whimper escaped his throat. Fraser chuckled, a dark, rich sound, which sent vibrations straight to Ray’s cock. “Jesus.” Ray moaned which turned into an even louder one when he felt one fingertip pressing against his entrance. “Yesss…” and he offered himself up as best as he could. Fraser gave an approving sound and pressed his tongue right underneath the head of Ray’s cock while he inserted the whole length of his finger. Ray thought he was falling apart at the seams; his whole existence narrowed down to the suction of Fraser’s perfect lips and the way his finger pressed into him, over and over again. Ray was lost to the sensation of it, realizing that he was moaning and gasping shamelessly, but utterly helpless to stop it. And Ray was close, so fucking close when Fraser’s mouth suddenly disappeared from his cock until only the tip of his tongue remained circling the head.  Ray forced himself to open his eyes and to look at Fraser. He was met with serious blue eyes that burned with intensity as if they were trying to hold him in place by the sheer power of their gaze alone. Ray swallowed drily, the sound of his constricting throat obscenely loud in the quiet of the bedroom and Fraser’s lips stretched into a smirk. Without ever looking away Fraser withdrew his finger only to add another one. His fingers hovered right at the entrance and Ray though he would die from the sheer anticipation of it but Fraser held him pinned in place with his stare, a calculating look on his face, and right when Ray thought that he couldn’t take it anymore he felt those fingers push in to the hilt in one smooth movement and Fraser’s mouth descent on his cock again. Ray’s hips came off the bed, “Fraser! …God…” he felt the blood rush through his veins and he came and came and he couldn’t seem to stop but Fraser was taking it all, swallowing every last drop. Ray was breathing heavily, only slowly coming back to himself.

Ray’s hand dropped away from his cock and he pulled his fingers back out. “Holy shit…” He stared unseeingly at the ceiling, wondering if that had even taken more than two minutes. A peculiar sound escaped his throat, and it took him a second to realize that he was laughing hysterically – which was probably not a good sign. He had just had some of the best sex of his life, with Fraser, and Fraser didn’t even know it. He gave another one of those despairing laughs. Great, it was official now, Fraser owned his cock. He moved his right arm to cover his eyes.

His plan might need some improvement.

Ray decided to call in sick to work.

He was being a coward and he knew it but Ray couldn’t face anymore embarrassment at the moment so if he had to stay holed up inside his flat to avoid that, so be it.

He moped around his flat trying to come up with a solution to his newest problem but his brain remained stubbornly uncooperative.  Instead of thinking of ways that would make Ray look at women again (or at anyone but  Fraser, really) it was stuck on Fraser – fucking meltdown between the sheets – and refused to budge. Still, Ray thought his situation couldn’t get any worse until sometime in the afternoon when Fraser called to inquire after his well being.

“Ray? This is Benton Fraser speaking. Are you feeling alright? I mean, obviously you aren’t since you called in sick today, so the better question would be are you feeling any better?” Fraser asked in that polite voice that bordered between real concern and reproof for shirking his duty which implied that Ray had better be more dead than alive.

“Yeah, I’m better.” Ray sighed. He wasn’t going to get any better, the sooner he faced that fact the better.

“The lieutenant told me that you claimed to be ‘suffering from mental disturbances’. Might I inquire as to the nature of those disturbances? Maybe I can be of assistance. Several people believed me to be – as you might recall telling me so yourself – unhinged.” Fraser sounded puzzled and Ray had to smile. Trust Fraser to be completely calm about his partner getting ready to be committed.

“Nah, it’s just… stuff. Don’t worry. Just some things I had to take care of. I’ll be alright tomorrow.” And Ray wished that he could believe that himself.

“Ah. I see.” Ray rather hoped he didn’t.

“I’ll pick you up tomorrow, ‘kay?”

“Yes, that would be very much appreciated.”

“Greatness. See you when I see you.” And with that Ray punched the red button on his phone.

He dropped heavily onto his couch and stared morosely at the turtle tank. He ruffled his hair and then propelled himself into the kitchen. Ray got a glass and a bottle of Scotch out of the cupboard and settled back on the couch again. This was going to be a long night.

Punch drunk and in no better mood than he had been that morning Ray stumbled to bed. The alarm clock on his bedside table read 4am. Tomorrow was not going to be a pretty experience – but Ray could have foretold that before he ever got out of bed this morning.

Everything was too loud, too bright and hurting his brain. He didn’t feel like talking to people, let alone work but it didn’t seem as if anyone had much sympathy for Ray’s condition so he gritted his teeth and tried to get through the day as best as he could. Fraser clearly wasn’t impressed with Ray’s coping mechanism. The upside of bitchy Fraser, however, was that Ray didn’t feel remotely attracted to him. He just wasn’t sure how much of Fraser’s matter-of-fact-voice he could take before he reached his breaking point. Thankfully, Fraser seemed to take some pity on him. An hour or so before lunch when Ray was desperately trying to complete his paperwork but making so many mistakes again and again that he had to do the same sheet three times and couldn’t even work up the energy to get angry about it, Fraser miraculously vanished only to return half a minute later with a paper cup full of water and an aspirin in his hand. “Drink this. Your body is dehydrated from imbibing too much alcohol. This will make you feel better.”

Ray gave a quiet “thanks” and then downed the pill and the water in one go. Everything seemed to be going in circles, it all began and it all ended with Fraser. Irony was probably laughing her ass off.

“Ray,” and then Fraser stopped, hovering on the brink of speech. He struggled for a moment and then obviously decided that finishing his sentence was the lesser of two evils, “are you sure that there is nothing I can do to help you?” A small frown creased his forehead.

Ray sighed. “It’s all jumbled up. It doesn’t even make sense to me. Belief me, the moment I’m able to talk about it I’ll let you know.” And he looked imploringly at Fraser, hoping against hope that Fraser would get it. That it wasn’t about trust, hell, trust wasn’t an issue with Fraser. He just… couldn’t. And Fraser seemed to get it because his shoulders relaxed ever so slightly and Ray gave him a weak smile in return. “I promise.” He added solemnly.

Somehow Ray managed to survive this day and at the end of it he even felt moderately optimistic that everything would be alright. He would be able to overcome this infatuation. Fraser and he were a team and a good one at that and they had survived everything else so far. The next few days also proved his theory right because Fraser and the one from his fantasies didn’t have all that much in common. It was rather hard to think about Fraser and sex in the same sentence when he acted so stand-offish most of the time. There were no dirty grins, no promising looks full of heat, no insinuations and certainly no velvet voice that whispered seductive ideas into his ear. However, the harsh reality didn’t make fantasy Fraser go away – which was no wonder, seeing that Ray and reality weren’t on such good terms most of the time and that Stella had to hit him over the head with the divorce papers before Ray finally bought a clue – but Ray didn’t mind. He liked fantasy Fraser and since the two Frasers didn’t share that much common ground Ray even ceased to feel guilty about it.

In the end Ray decided that he would probably live through this latest episode of unforeseen crises.

Sometimes one can be so focused on the perils of one’s own life that one is completely taken unawares that bad stuff can happen to other people, too.

So when Welsh cornered him the next morning Ray was all set on talking his way out of it.

“Detective.” And coming from Welsh this word never meant the time of day for you.

“Yeah, I know. You’ll get that report on the Coronelli case. I’m practically writing it up as we speak.” And Ray tried to amble away as casually as he could.

“Good, good. But before you get back to your favourite work, we two need to have a little chat.” And Welsh motioned towards his office.

Uh-oh, Ray thought. Whatever it was it wasn’t going to be pretty. He had no idea who he had pissed off now…or who he had supposedly pissed off, he wasn’t even trying most of the time; it just happened. It was a gift.

Welsh sat down behind his desk and looked intently at Ray.

“Vecchio,” and it sounded as if he stressed his name unnecessarily, “do you remember a case involving a woman named Victoria Metcalf?”

Ray scrunched up his nose and thought about it. Metcalf, Metcalf…

“No, Sir. Can’t say it rings a bell.”

“Ah. But surely you would remember a case as… personal… as this one.” Welsh tipped his finger against the side of his nose.

“Oh, oooooh.” Something dawned on Ray: Vecchio’s files, of course. He hadn’t needed to know anything about them in such a long time that he hadn’t even thought of them. In his mind Ray rifled through the different cases he had to memorize when he started this gig until he hit upon the right one.

“The Canadian bank robber chick.” He snipped his fingers.

“Yes, it’s good to see that memory coming back, Detective. You might also recall that she framed Fraser with a murder he didn’t commit and that she tried to get you nailed for spending stolen money?”

Ray’s eyes widened for a second. Yes, he remembered that case. The notes had been really sketchy, but that had made it seem all the more important to Ray. It was the case where—

“Fraser got shot!” Ray exclaimed; sounding almost surprised at the truth of it.

“Ah, now you remember. Yeah, you shot him as he was trying to apprehend her. It’s all rather ugly I’m afraid. IA wanted to see you go down and Fraser was so deep in it… if those diamonds hadn’t been recovered… well, let’s just say that it wouldn’t have been pretty.” Welsh looked seriously at Ray.

“Okay, so what’s up with her? She dead or what?” Ray asked, unease making him aggressive.

“Oh, no.” But he looked as if he would have preferred this to the truth. “She has been arrested for murder in Boston.”

“She— wait, what?” Ray asked disbelievingly. “But, it’s been years. How did they find her?”

“Oh they didn’t arrest her on our charges. They only realized that we had unfinished business with her after they apprehended her for the murder of Mike Garber.”

“That lady’s turning into a real serial killer, huh?” Ray asked humourlessly.

Welsh acknowledged this possibility with a slight tilt of the head. “Mike Garber was her connection to a guy named Thomas Morisetti who dealt with illegal furs. She would have made herself a really nice deal, make it look as if Garber double crossed his boss and then walk away with the furs. It all would have worked out in her favour. Morisetti was already suspicious of Garber so he would’ve bought her story. Thing is, Garber knew something was up so he was going to rat on her.”

“So she killed him?” Ray asked.

“Exactly. What she didn’t know, though, was that he hadn’t been about to tell Morisetti. He was an undercover agent; they wanted to nail Morisetti for the illegal trade. So he calls the number, Metcalf surprises him and shoots him. His colleagues didn’t know why he had called but when the connection went dead they knew something had gone wrong. They arrived at the scenes in minutes, too fast for her to leave.”

“Yeah, cause she hadn’t thought anyone would come looking for her. She woulda told Morisetti some bull about Garber being dirty and that would’ve been it.” Ray mused.

“They take her to the precinct and then someone realized that we sent a search warrant for a woman with a remarkable likeness a few years back. They call me and they send me their files and I have to agree, it’s her.”

“So? It’s all good, right? They got her on murder. They got evidence. She’s going away for, like, forever.” Ray shrugged.

“Ah, you see detective this is where you’re wrong. You may remember how sometimes we want to make really sure that someone stays locked away? So we want that case air tight with everything we can throw at them, right? That’s why they want the city of Chicago and the Canadians to add their charges. But since Victoria Metcalf is supposedly dead and someone has yet to prove that she is impersonating her own sister, you, Detective Vecchio,” and he tipped against his nose again, ”and Constable Fraser will go and pick her out of a line-up. Do we understand each other?”

“Absolutely, sir.” And suddenly Ray started to see where all this was going to get really ugly.  “So, uh, what about Fraser?”

“I’m glad that you’re thinking along the same lines, Detective. You see, the details are really fuzzy so I’m not a hundred percent sure what went down then but this is not going to be easy for him. They had history together and it got way out of hand when she came to Chicago. You read those files very carefully, Detective. You will read between the lines and you will put that whole story back together so that you are prepared for whatever is going to happen this time. With the Constable, one can never be too sure.” Welsh emphasized his speech with pointed jabs at his desk.

“Ok, okay I got it. How much time do I got?”

“Tomorrow morning I will brief the Constable, see if I can soften the blow a bit. But they want you down there pronto. So you better get up there in the next three days. They want this case closed even more than we do.” Welsh sighed. He was a real good guy and Ray was once more glad to be working for him.

Ray left the office feeling jittery, like way back in school when he knew an exam was coming up and he didn’t know if he was prepared…well, on the few occasions he had cared.

“Elaine!” He went looking for her and encountered her in the process of leaving. “Oy, Elaine! I need all you got on Victoria Metcalf.”

Elaine looked disbelievingly at him. “Ray, this is my free afternoon. I got a life, you know.”

“Yeah? You want your free time? Go, start looking for mine. Know what? I saw them leave together on vacation, maybe 5 minutes ago. Told me to say ‘hi’.” He snapped at her.

“Alright, alright. No need to bite my head off. Jeez… You sure are in a sour mood.” She raised her hands in a placating gesture.

Ray almost felt sorry. It wasn’t her fault that he felt a hairbreadth away from a major freak out.

“Yeah,..this is important, okay? Oh, and Elaine? Call Canada and tell them to send me their reports.”

Elaine was looking at him funny but complied anyway. In the meantime Ray rifled through Vecchio’s personal case notes. Something had to be in there. And it was probably more than the official reports told, anyway. He found the correct file and settled in to read.

“Let’s see what we got here… “ and he read over the notes again, hoping to find something he had missed the first time. Truth was there wasn’t much to go on. Vecchio had done this one real careful, almost to the point of being evasive. As far as Ray could figure out it had gone like this: Victoria had been released from prison and had run into Fraser. She had even spent some time at Fraser apartment – where she didn’t leave any fingerprints… “Really clever” Ray murmured. And then came this whole cock-and-bull story about that guy from the robbery, Jolly, trying to kill her and Dief got shot and it all went pretty much downhill from there. Suddenly, the money that had been stolen at the bank heist started to turn up around Fraser’s and Vechhio’s neighbourhood. And Jolly turned up dead with a bullet from Fraser’s gun and then they matched the bullet to the gun that shot Dief and Fraser… god, Fraser went to jail for that. Ray had never been gladder that Vecchio had been a real good friend to Fraser; spending that money to bail him out.

But this was also the part where the notes got really sketchy. IA got that anonymous tip that Vecchio had a key that would lead to the stolen money, which didn’t pay off and then it turns out that Victoria Metcalf died a few months ago. And how freaky was that? They track her to the station, Fraser runs after the leaving train and Vecchio shoots him. In Ray’s mind that all didn’t make too much sense. For starters, why had Fraser let this whole thing get that bloody much out of control? Fraser, he saw stuff, sure, he believed in the good in people and all that sing song but he never overlooked evidence. Ray also couldn’t stop asking himself what Fraser was doing at the station. If he had wanted to apprehend her he should have had numerous chances to do so, why wait till she got on a train?

Vecchio must have thought she wanted to kill Fraser. The way she framed him Ray could understand where that theory must have come from. Victoria obviously hated Fraser immensely.

Still, there was something he wasn’t seeing… no wonder, no one could find anything in these lousy notes. Elaine interrupted him with an arm full of folders.

“Here you go, Ray. This is everything that has ever been put together on Victoria Metcalf including the reports from Canada.” She didn’t even sound all that angry with him which somehow made him feel all the worse.

“Ah, uhm, thank you Elaine… I mean it. I’ll pay for the next pizza or something.”

“You better. I hope this helps.” But she smiled at him so he was probably forgiven.

“Okay, let’s rock and roll… should have taken that psychology classes in school after all.” Ray decided to start his own case. He was going to get to the bottom of this, he could do it. After all, he was Ray Vecchio…and he knew Fraser like the back of his hand. This should be easy.

…or so he thought until a good two hours later when he started to feel really frustrated with himself. He went to get a cup of coffee and then tried to look at his profile with enough detachment to see what he had been able to figure out.

Victoria Metcalf was intelligent, frighteningly so, calculating and ruthless. She had the guts it took to survive which also meant that she wasn’t a very tender hearted person. She would stop at nothing, not even murder, to save her own sorry ass and what Ray also couldn’t read between the lines were the words “gentle” or “caring”. She sounded pretty cold to Ray, efficient, with a mean streak a mile wide and she didn’t seem to do anything without gaining something from it. Bottom line? She was a criminal, although a more successful one than some. What Ray couldn’t seem to manage was fitting Fraser into all of this.

He was the arresting officer and he had pursued her to some godforsaken frozen mountain, which, sure, Ray could believe without any problems, and he had turned her over to the authorities, again, something that fit Fraser’s M.O. to a t.

Why then, did she come to Chicago? Or, more importantly, why hadn’t she killed Fraser on sight once she found him?

Ray pinched the bridge of his nose. He needed to get home. Maybe this all made more sense if he looked at it from the vantage point of his couch.  Half an hour later Ray was back where he had started. Trying to fit a profile to Fraser just didn’t work all that well if you had such problems envisioning him in love.

At least, Ray was dead sure that this was Fraser’s dark woman. There was just no other explanation for it and it would fit Fraser’s crazy life and his bad luck and his overall outlandishness. So, okay, say he fell in love with her during their time on the mountain. So what? He still turned her over to the authorities and he also hadn’t kept in touch which meant that they probably didn’t leave off with all that much tender feelings for each other. Yeah, well, being imprisoned by someone can do that to you.  Obviously revenge had been an issue for her after she got released. Yet, she didn’t kill Fraser which meant, in some freakish way, she apparently still had feelings for him… in a rather cruel way.

So Fraser had stared all the facts in the face and ignored them just to…what? Make everything alright again? …or possibly out of guilt? Where had Vecchio been in all this? Couldn’t he have intervened? Told him that this wasn’t a woman you settled down with but someone in the league with the devil?

“Gee…” Maybe Vecchio hadn’t known… like Ray hadn’t. Ray had known Fraser for two years and he hadn’t known about this.

The words of the lieutenant came back to him. What exactly was going to happen to Fraser tomorrow? God, Ray didn’t even want to think about it. This would devastate Fraser. Say he had loved her and she had escaped that second time… and now Fraser was supposed to put her behind bars? Again? Tough… real tough. With that also came another thought, one Ray rather wished he hadn’t had, but couldn’t block out: was it possible that Fraser still loved her? This was the wrongest of the wrong and Fraser didn’t even have the chance to tell Ray that particular story in his own sweet time. Ray seriously debated going over the story with Fraser tonight. In the end, however, he couldn’t think of a reason why Fraser would share this information without any cause and Ray wasn’t even sure if he was prepared to face it anyway.

Ray sighed. There wasn’t much more he could do tonight. He would have to play it by ear tomorrow.

Even though he went to bed early he lay awake for a long time; thinking about Fraser and love and women that should be but aren’t right for you, about loss and commitment and a lot of stuff that Ray usually put into a box marked “deep stuff” and then never touched again with so much but the tip of his boot.

The next morning dawned bright and early and Ray didn’t really feel like facing his own execution squad. Even worse was that he knew what was going to happen at the station and Fraser didn’t. So Ray picked him up and couldn’t even muster any enthusiasm for Fraser’s part of the conversation because he was so focused on not turning the car around and driving off to somewhere nice and sunny, far away from snowy mountains and dangerous women who shot men and wolves alike.

“Ray, is everything alright? You seem terribly preoccupied.” Fraser stated halfway on their way to the station.

“Who? Me? Yeah, sure. I’m fine. Just… I’m fine.” Ray babbled.

“I see. You know Ray, there was a time where I found the Inuit proverb” and Fraser was off, telling some Inuit tale which probably even had a moral to it and might even have been useful for Ray’s future life but which was, quite unfortunately really, completely drowned out by Ray’s brain trying to get ready for the first freak-out of the day.

When they arrived in the bullpen Ray felt the sudden urge to do something. He grabbed Fraser and turned him around.

“Fraser, you know that… uh, if a, a friend, was in a tight spot that they, well, he could –you know, talk to me? I’d understand. I can listen real good when I put my mind to it. You do know that, right?” and Fraser seemed puzzled by the urgency in Ray’s voice.

“Why yes, Ray. I know that. I hope that you would feel the same should you ever feel the need to-“

“Vecchio! Constable! My office if you please.” Welsh called from the door of his office.

Ray hung his head. ”Let’s get this over with.” He cracked his neck as if trying to lose a kink and marched into Welsh’s office with the determination of a sentenced man.

Fraser followed and closed the door.

“Sit down, sit down.” Welsh muttered.

“I’d rather stand, Lieutenant.” Fraser declined politely and Ray rested against the nearest bookshelf, his arms crossed and his whole body on the defensive, watching the whole scene like a hawk.

“Constable…” and Welsh seemed to hesitate before continuing, “Every cop has a blind spot and it can be a challenge to face it. Especially when the – blind spot – in question is such a delicate topic. I know, some things of the past are best left forgotten but sometimes duty leaves us no choice but to face it.”

“Sir, I am not sure I understand what you are trying to say.” Fraser looked so earnest that Ray wanted to punch the wall.

Welsh sighed. “No, of course you don’t.” He sighed again. “A fugitive has been apprehended in Boston. A criminal who caused you and Detective Vecchio no small amount of hardship and whose flight even left you…scarred.” Ray had to hand it to him at least Welsh did look every bit as uncomfortable as Ray felt.

“Sir?” Fraser’s posture tensed as if he was preparing to throw himself off a cliff.

“Victoria Metcalf. She is under arrest for another murder. They got her.”

And Fraser, he just stopped existing or something. He didn’t tense further, he didn’t relax, hell, he didn’t do anything.

“I know that this comes as a shock to you. However, the guys in Boston need you for the identification. They want you up there to pick her out of a line-up.”

“I understand.” Fraser intoned in a toneless voice that betrayed every emotion he might’ve had.

“Is that all lieutenant?”

Welsh looked to Ray who gave him the nose signal and sighed again. “Yeah, yeah. For now.”

Fraser nodded and walked out of the office with Ray trailing behind. Ray was trying very hard to find the right words or, at least, anything at all to say but before he could voice some of his most promising ideas Fraser spoke: “Ray, we should get the statement of Mrs. Denver. Her testimony is surely going to be illuminating.”

“Illuminating?” Ray asked baffled. So Fraser didn’t wanna talk? Okay, Ray could wait. The guy probably needed a few minutes to come to grips with the whole situation. Ray could be patient.

A few hours – and two climbs up a 4 story and a 5 story building respectively, 3 purse snatchers, one bar brawl and another pickpocket later – Ray was beginning to have serious doubts about Fraser’s mental state. It seemed that Fraser was really going out of his way to find some stupid crime or other to get involved in… or maybe just danger.

So when Fraser casually mentioned “Oh, gunshots.” And took off in the direction of an alley Ray had had enough. He skidded to a halt a step after Fraser and not a second too late. Fraser had obviously walked straight into a deal gone bad between some sleazy back alley dealers who didn’t see much point in arguing with the help of the few rhetorical skills they had at their disposal. After all, a bullet could say so much more than a thousand words. In a flash Ray had taken all that in and he full body tackled Fraser to the ground a mere split second before three different scumbags opened fire on them.

“ARE YOU NUTS?” He screamed into Fraser’s ear. “If you are trying to get your head blown off here I swear to god, I will punch you in the head. I swear to god I will. Make my day, tell me, do you wanna die Fraser??? Cause I might just help those guys over there and finish you off!” Ray shouted in a fit.

Fraser’s eyes widened a fraction.

“Ray, no, I-“

“You. Me. We are going to have a little talk. Now” Ray fired his gun to give them enough time to get out of the alley. He called Huey and Dewey to clean up the mess and then he started to storm towards the GTO. At least this once in Ray’s life Fraser came along quietly.

Ray stopped at the consulate and spoke in the direction of his steering wheel, “Go in and get the wolf. If you are not back in two minutes I won’t be responsible for my actions.” His knuckles turned white with the effort of gripping the wheel and Fraser made the wise move not to say anything. He was back in all of 30 seconds and Ray seemed to relax a bit the nearer they got to his apartment.

He took a deep breath once he had closed his apartment door. “Make yourself comfortable. I just go and put the kettle on.” He brushed past Fraser into the kitchen and busied himself with the domestic motions of tea making, getting a beer for himself and a glass of water for his partner in the meantime. When he came back Fraser sat rather stiffly on the couch.

He handed Fraser the glass and then dropped heavily onto the couch next to him, his legs drawn up, his body angled towards Fraser. “Okay, I don’t have you down for potential suicide so this deal must’ve been a pretty bad one. You wanna tell me what happened back then or do I have to drag it out of you?”

Fraser leaned forward and let his head hang. He clasped his hands together and gave a small sigh. “It all started when I was pursuing her up to a point called Fortitude Pass…” and Ray already knew this story and yet, when Fraser told it, it sounded like a completely different thing. When Fraser talked about that time they spent on this mountain and he told Ray about this poem she was reciting and the night they spent in sight of the church steeple, Ray felt a lump growing in his chest. Ray didn’t believe that this was one of love’s great tragedies. Cause how real could a love be that was born out of a life threatening situation? Stuff like that messed with your head. Plus, Fraser loving a woman that had killed more than one person in cold blood was making his spine tingle. Yet, it was so painstakingly obvious that Fraser had loved her. Maybe even all the more for the darkness she possessed.

Still, Ray had suspected all that. It hadn’t been in the files – not like that anyway, but Ray knew that there were only a couple of things that could make you go crazy. And with Fraser it was a given that those things had to have hit him hard.

“She asked me to let her go… but I couldn’t do that. I turned her in. The one woman I loved and I put her in prison.” He gave a sad smile and became silent.

Ray waited a second but when it became clear that Fraser wasn’t going to continue he got up and brought the tea for Fraser from the kitchen. Fraser gave a quiet “Thank you, Ray” and Ray had to smile despite himself. Fraser was just… Fraser, no matter the circumstances. After Fraser had taken a sip from the scalding tea he prompted him. “Why did she come to Chicago then, when she got out?”

“I suppose it wasn’t an accident that I met her. Victoria had all of this planned from the start. She wanted to leave me with no choice but to leave with her. She tried to make me lose everything I had. And yet… yet…” Fraser turned anguished eyes towards Ray. But Ray already knew what Fraser was going to say.

“And in the end you would’ve left with her.” Ray knew it. He knew it beyond a shadow of a doubt. Nothing else made any sense.

Fraser looked surprised for a moment before he nodded. “Yes… I had not planned on it. I had told her that I wouldn’t. When I saw her leaving on that train and heard her voice calling me… I would’ve gone with her.”

He gave a bitter laugh.

“Yeah…if Vecchio hadn’t shot you.” Ray replied with a mixture of gratitude and horror.

“Yes. He thought she was going to shoot me.”

“You did good, Fraser.” Ray tried to console him but Fraser only looked more forlorn than ever.

“ Ray, I lost her… and I was willing to sacrifice everyone for her. Dief, Ray Vecchio, everything I believed in. And I would have… but I’m just…so…”

The “…alone…” was whispered so softly that Ray couldn’t be sure if he had heard him say so or if he just imagined he had. But he saw the subtle heave of Fraser’s shoulders and before he could stop himself Ray reached out and laid his arm around him. He was startled himself and almost drew back his arm but Fraser didn’t resist. He even seemed to lean a bit in Ray’s direction so Ray dared to draw him closer and Fraser went with it, he only hesitated for a second and then he let himself be pulled to Ray. Ray simply kept Fraser’s head against his shoulder and tried his best to hug him. Being alone sucked, Ray knew that. He had done more stupid things because he had felt lonely than he cared to count. With Fraser he had always wondered… the guy was so far from home and didn’t have that many friends here. Instead he spent all his free time with Ray or with police work and Ray had figured that Fraser didn’t get lonely, that he didn’t need anybody. And now… Fraser seemed so incredibly young leaning against his shoulder and sobbing very softly. Ray wouldn’t be able to call him on it and he wasn’t sure if Fraser was crying, but his shoulders still shook ever so softly and he let Ray continue drawing soothing motions along his shoulder blades.

“Did you… did you really love her, Fraser?” Ray asked softly. His breath stirred Fraser’s hair and he smelled clean with a hint of pine trees or something Ray associated with forest and nature. Maybe that was just Fraser himself, carrying the big wide open around with him wherever he went.

“I thought so, yes. Later I wasn’t so sure. It shouldn’t mean hurting everyone else…“

“And when she came to Chicago? Why did you fall for her again?” Ray thought he already knew the answer but wanted to hear it from Fraser anyway.

“I was so happy to see her. And it looked so normal that I thought we could get past our earlier history… I had wanted her to be innocent… I had wanted her to be right… so much.” Fraser pressed his face a bit more against Ray’s sweater and he tightened the hold of his arms around Fraser. Ray couldn’t even remember when he had last hugged someone. Sure, he had tried to comfort Stella now and again but in the last years he had more or less been the cause of her distress, so she wasn’t that keen on being hugged by him. Not when she was still mad at him, anyway. Afterwards, well, Ray supposed that he wasn’t all that close to that many people either. It felt nice and it was such a human thing that Ray could honestly understand how Fraser had gone so far for human contact, for emotions that were bigger than yourself.

The biggest question was still looming on the horizon and Ray wasn’t sure if he could push it past his constricted throat.

“And now? I mean do you… are you still, you know? In love with her?” Ray tried to swallow around that last word. This was just not getting any easier.

Fraser tensed slightly. He was quiet for so long that Ray thought he would have to give up when Fraser finally answered in a small voice.

“I don’t know. I’m not…” Ray couldn’t remember ever hearing Fraser struggling for words as much as he had tonight. “Love is probably the wrong word.” He sighed softly. “But I feel that I have known her over a thousand lifetimes and I, I could never hate her… despite the crimes she committed.”

Ray took a second to reflect upon that and suddenly the whole surreal quality of the situation hit him. He was sitting in his now almost completely dark flat with Fraser, of all people, in his arms, talking about love and murder in one breath. Things could not get much stranger than that.

“So what are you going to do?” Ray asked, trying to sound casual.

“I have no choice, Ray.”

“Yes you do! No one can make you do stuff you don’t want to. You can’t pick her out of a line-up, fine. They will just have to deal.” Ray disagreed hotly.

“Ray, I can’t do that.” And then, as if it had been an afterthought, “She killed again. She’s dangerous, Ray. She would only hurt more people if she had the chance.”

On impulse Ray hugged Fraser tighter to his chest.

“God Fraser… she would’ve killed you!”

Surprised, Fraser pulled away and looked at Ray. “No, she wouldn’t. She had the chance and she didn’t kill me. I don’t think that this had been her plan at all.” But Ray was already vehemently shaking his head.

“No, no, no. I don’t mean, like literally or something. She would’ve killed you inside, Fraser. If you had gone with her, every good thing inside of you would’ve died. She would’ve killed again or committed another crime and…gods… it would’ve killed you, Fraser. Everything that makes you you would’ve died.”

Fraser looked quite taken aback by the force of Ray’s statement. Ray looked outraged. “You didn’t think she would’ve walked the straight and narrow for you, did you? Fraser, do not tell me that you believed she would become an honest woman!”

Fraser flicked a finger over his eyebrow and wet his lips. He looked down and pulled at the collar of his serge.

Ray jabbed a finger at his chest. “Fraser, do not believe that people change, once a criminal always a criminal. Oh… Fraser, you would’ve ended up hating yourself.”

“I already did.” Fraser himself looked as shocked by his admission as Ray did.

“No! Fraser, no! You did good, you did the right thing. She’s a murderer!! Of course you had to bring her in.” Ray wanted so badly for Fraser to see that. What had he expected? A white picket-fence? Certainly not.

“I loved her and I put her in prison. What kind of man does that make me?” Fraser sounded anguished.

“A courageous one! Hell, I don’t think I would’ve had the guts to do it. Fraser she came to Chicago for more crime, not to settle down with you peacefully… which she could’ve done but chose not to do.”

Fraser sagged again, collapsing against the couch cushions.

“I tried so hard to make up for it… But I couldn’t… she spent years in prison because of me… and it wasn’t, it wasn’t enough…”

Ray felt the dire need to punch something… preferably her.

“Nothing would have been enough, Fraser. She might have loved you but she would have made you pay, and pay and pay your whole life. That’s not love, that’s sadism!”

Fraser sighed and let his head fall forward again. It seemed as if nothing Ray said was anything new to Fraser. Just that it didn’t help much because it didn’t make him feel any better.

Ray mimicked Fraser’s posture and nudged his shoulder with his own.

“Hey… so you’ve got bad luck with women. You’re not alone there, you know. True, your luck beats my shoddy marriage by a mile but you just have to accept that there is nothing you can do to change it. You can only hope that you already used up all your bad luck, so that maybe the next time you fall in love you get lucky and find someone harmless.” He tried to grin at him and Fraser gave a small smile back, probably more for Ray’s effort than for really feeling any better but Ray was trying, he was doing his best, and there was nothing more anyone else could ask from him.

In the end Fraser crashed on the couch, because he refused the bed not because Ray hadn’t offered it, and Ray hoped that they would get through this alright.

When they arrived at the station the next morning Welsh was already anxiously waiting for them. As far as a guy like Welsh could look anxious, that is. He motioned them in his office and looked expectantly at Fraser who looked unable to put their decision into words so Ray stepped forward.

“Sir, we’re going to fly up their tomorrow morning. That should put us at the station by afternoon. Plenty of time to get our act together and in case anything happens, we’ll wait till the next day to fly back.”

Ray was all for driving up there but 16 hours one way just wasn’t possible if they were to arrive there tomorrow. Plus, Ray had thought that flying there would leave Fraser with less time to fret about it.

“Good, good. So you are both sure about this, I take it?” and he looked hard at Fraser who managed a clear “Yes, Sir,” before falling quiet again. Ray feared that things were not going to go as smoothly as he had hoped after their talk.

Ray organised a parking space for his GTO with police parking at the airport and started packing while Fraser got Turnbull to take care of Diefenbaker and prepared his own stuff. Ray couldn’t shake the feeling he should take some kind of weapon with him and he didn’t mean is gun. More like a mental shield or an emotional vest or something. He didn’t find anything that might fit the description, though, so he hoped he himself might work to deflect an emotional breakdown away from Fraser. They met up for dinner at that small restaurant on Lakeshore Dr which always seemed to cheer Fraser up because at least there was a bit of green around it and you could actually see the water of Lake Michigan and the food wasn’t half bad so Ray had no complaints and he hoped that it might make Fraser feel more comfortable. Indeed, it seemed as if Fraser appreciated the notion. At least he seemed quite happy with his grilled salmon and whatever other fishy stuff that was he had on his plate that Ray found rather gross but Fraser seemed to enjoy a good deal. Ray preferred to stick to Burger with fries, couldn’t really go wrong there. The dinner was actually quite nice until the drive home when Fraser’s part of the conversation dried up almost completely and the atmosphere seemed loaded with apprehension about their trip tomorrow. Again, Ray wasn’t sure what the best course of action was so when Fraser asked him to drop him off at the consulate he did as he was told. “Thank you, Ray. I’ll see you tomorrow.” Fraser said and got out of the car.

“Bye, Frase.” Ray mumbled but Fraser was almost at the door now. Ray had already started the motor again and was just about to pull away from the curb when sudden inspiration struck him.

“I’m so stupid… I can’t believe I didn’t get it.” He put the car in park again and was at the door of the consulate in a matter of seconds. Call it a hunch. After yesterday Ray was pretty sure that Fraser wasn’t the lonesome rider who wanted to be miserable on his own… at least not completely and not by choice. That was just Fraser being afraid to need somebody. Because that might mean that he ended up needing someone and realizing that there was no one to turn to. “Stupid Mountie.” Ray whispered not without affection. Not this time, if Fraser really wanted to be alone he could throw him out again.

He knocked on the door and shouted “Oy, Fraser! It’s me, open up!” and the door flew open before he had even brought his fist down a second time. Fraser had probably remained standing right behind the door and Ray had the feeling that his hunch had been right.

“Yes, Ray? Did you forget anything?” Fraser enquired politely and Ray grinned.

“Yeah, you. You want to come back to my place and crash there again? Left to yourself you probably come up with a bunch of reasons to feel bad about yourself again and we can’t have that, now can we?”

Fraser looked as though he might say no and Ray’s face fell a bit, great, too much again Kowalski. And then Fraser seemed to think better of it.

“I’d like that. Thank you, Ray.”

“You Freak. You don’t have to thank me for it. Come on!”

And even though Fraser didn’t want to talk anymore about Victoria and their trip he seemed oddly grateful just to be sitting next to Ray with a cup of tea and an old Paul Newman movie on TV. Ray sneaked a few glances in between and somehow he felt that this night was different from all those other nights they had done the exact same thing. Maybe it was because this was a clear statement of something friends did for each other rather than just two guys hanging out or maybe it was because this was one of the very rare moments where Fraser had in some small way admitted that he needed Ray and accepted his help.

In the middle of the night Ray awoke, afraid that Fraser might have left or gone and done something stupid but when he went into the living room to check, there was Fraser, sitting up and huddled in the blanket in the wan light of the early hours when it was still a bit too early for the real sunrise but light enough to know that it is approaching somewhere beyond the horizon.

“Hey” he whispered softly. Fraser looked up at him. “Hello, Ray.”

Ray went to the couch and sat down next to him. Not even talking all that much just being there so that Fraser didn’t have to face his demons alone. They continued to sit like that, sharing cold tea and here and there a few remarks about a good movie or a nice restaurant they should go to again sometime and a lot of insignificant stuff, shoulders touching and oddly comfortable in the quiet of Ray’s flat. At some point Fraser fell asleep and Ray pushed him down onto the couch and covered him with the blanket. He moved to the armchair and watched him sleep for awhile before his own eyes started to feel like lead so that he went back to bed himself. Morning wasn’t far away now.

Fraser was tense the next morning but working really hard not to show it. Ray had the strange urge to hold his hand but refrained from doing so by the sheer power of his will. Somehow he doubted that the lady sitting next to him on the plane would appreciate his expression of concern overly much.

They arrived in Boston on time and their hotel wasn’t all that difficult to find either. Ray tried his best to kill some time with unpacking but there was only so much to do in a hotel room that would justify a delay from reporting at the station. When Ray had no excuses left for wasting time he voiced this to Fraser. “Uhm, I guess we should get going.”

Fraser steeled himself and answered in a remarkably calm voice, “Right you are, Ray.”

Police stations were very much the same no matter where you went. They were all quite glad that Ray and Fraser had arrived and Ray had an unwanted reminder of the Beth Botrell case and how badly all the cops had wanted her dead for killing one of their own. Victoria could be glad she had been arrested in Massachusetts; they didn’t have the death penalty even though it looked as if most of the cops would like to introduce it again in a heartbeat.

Lieutenant Bower welcomed them warmly. “I cannot thank you two enough for coming up here so fast. It’ll all be over in a few minutes. Detective Donnellan is getting the line-up ready as we speak. All you need to do is put your finger on her and sign a statement. After that you can take the rest of the day to enjoy this fine city. Have you ever been to Boston before?”

“Uhm, no. Thank you, Sir. Is it possible to grab a cup of coffee before we start?” Ray asked, more stalling for time than really needing the caffeine.

“Certainly, certainly. The break room is right over there. We’ll be waiting in interview two for you once you’re ready.” He smiled amicably.

“Greatness. Thank you. Let’s go, Fraser.” Ray filled a cup of the bitter slush that went for coffee at police stations before he turned to really look at his partner.

“Are you alright, Fraser?” The Mountie looked about ready faint or as if he had been holding his breath from the moment they had stepped into the station.

Fraser gave something like a laugh.

“I’m not sure, Ray.” Ray wanted to hug him again but he wasn’t sure how much Fraser would appreciate that display so he only patted his arm.

“I’m so sorry, Fraser.” The Mountie just nodded. “I know.”

At that moment Detective Donnellan looked into the break room. He was young, probably more or less fresh out of the academy, terribly eager and full of great hopes. Ray sighed. He couldn’t face youthful idealism at the moment. “Hey, there you are. I’m Mark Donnellan.” And he extended his hand to shake first Ray’s and then Fraser’s. “You guys ready? We’re all set up in interview two.”

Fraser gave a shaky nod and preceded the young Detective out of the door. Ray blew on his coffee; this was not going so well.

Bower was already waiting for them inside of the interview room as was the Assistant State Attorney who introduced himself as Mr. Norton. Ray faced the mirror and saw a row of dark-haired, slender women. He was trying to fit the pictures he had seen of Victoria Metcalf in the files to one of the women looking towards the glass now. Suddenly he knew which one was her. Fraser stepped up to the glass and with some eerie, freaky power Victoria seemed to know where Fraser stood because she looked right at him. He gasped softly but Ray heard it anyway. As he had thought, Victoria was number 7. Her latest escapades hadn’t done anything to diminish her beauty and she looked strangely vulnerable and tragic in those surroundings.

“Constable Fraser,” Bower started, “if you would be so kind as to give us the number of Victoria Metcalf.”

Ray looked to Fraser as if from under water and Fraser… he didn’t say anything. He just kept on looking.

“Constable?” Bower asked impatiently.

But still Fraser wasn’t speaking and Ray was feverishly thinking of what he could do.

“Uh, you know, Lieutenant, “ Ray started hesitantly, “it was a long trip and maybe we should just take a couple of hours, relax a bit and then get back here. I think-“

“I’d like to talk to her.” Fraser interrupted, finally looking away from the window.

“WHAT?” The Lieutenant and the State Attorney bellowed followed by Ray’s “YOU WANT TO WHAT?” a half second later because he had been so busy getting his mouth closed again.

“I want to talk to her.” Fraser said again.

“I’m afraid that is against procedures, Constable.” Bower said sounding anything but pleased.

“I understand. However, if I pick her out I want to talk to her.” And there was no maybe in Fraser’s voice. Ray was almost impressed had he not been afraid for Fraser’s mental state.

Bower and Norton exchanged a glance. “We’ll see what we can do.” With that they both left the room and Ray grabbed Fraser and pulled him into the men’s room.

“Fraser! What the hell do you think you’re doing??” Ray tried to keep his voice down but it still sounded terribly loud and panicked.

“I thought that would be obvious. I want to talk to her.” Fraser explained patiently. All cool again, as always once he had made up his mind.

“I don’t think that’s such a good idea Fraser. She’s going to tear you limb from limb.” And it scared the shit out of Ray but he didn’t want to admit that.

“I need to Ray. I owe her an explanation, and an apology.”

“APOLOGY?” Ray was livid.

“Yes, Ray. I play no small part in her life sentence but I want her to know that this is not due to any hard feelings on my side.”

“HARD FEELINGS? God… I ought to pop you one.” Ray was becoming agitated. This was worse than anything he had imagined.

“I just want to talk to her, Ray.” Fraser’s voice sounded pleading, not at all rational like Ray had expected. He understood… at least up to a point that Fraser needed this closure.

“Okay…okay… but you are not going in there alone.”

Fraser’s head flew up and he locked eyes with Ray. Whatever he had been looking for he obviously found because he just nodded, a small smile playing at the corner of his mouth.

They met up with Bower again who was on the point of rage as well but hiding it really well. Grudgingly they allowed Fraser two minutes alone with her once the line-up was finished. Ray, however, wouldn’t be allowed to go in with him. But he could stay on the other side of the mirror and he thought it was better than nothing.

They went into interview two again and everyone waited with bated breath for Fraser to speak. It still took him almost a minute before he managed to state the number.

The whole room seemed to relax after that and Ray was actually quite looking forward to do his part in ensuring her life in prison so he was almost sad that he couldn’t do more than say “Number 7” in a loud and clear voice. If it had helped he would have jumped through the police station shouting the number at everyone he encountered but sadly this would not have done anything more than saying it once had already achieved.

They escorted the women out of the room and took Victoria into the other interview room where she was handcuffed to the table. Which was probably a good idea, for the moment Fraser stepped into the room she went crazy and Ray thought she would have tried to strangle him with her own hands had they been free.

Ray stared completely helpless from the other side of the mirror in the presence of the Lieutenant and the Assistant State Attorney. They didn’t listen to them but Victoria’s rage was easy to get without hearing her scream at Fraser.

Fraser took her words like blows, a well deserved punishment, so he didn’t even try to defend himself. It was only when she had quieted down and started crying that Fraser opened his mouth. Ray could read the apology in every line of his body, how he was trying to convince her that he hadn’t pursued her, that it hadn’t been him. He also saw that it did nothing to lessen her hate for Fraser. She started up again, an angry snarl on her beautiful face and Ray could understand her anger. After all what did it matter if he was the arresting officer or not? It was still Fraser who helped to put her in prison a second time.

Again Fraser accepted her hurt and her hatred, opening himself up for her words of abuse as if they could cleanse him. Ray felt sick.

Something in the way Fraser spoke changed. He seemed to try and convince her of something but not like before. In an earnest way, he looked so young and so open when he spoke and Victoria looked so disbelieving that Ray feared that Fraser had started talking about love. And probably about the life they could have led and why had she gone and gotten mixed up with more dirty business and how he would have supported her. Ray flinched when he saw the look of amusement on her lips, a cruel tenderness. This was probably the reason she hadn’t killed Fraser in order to get her revenge because underneath it all she liked it that he thought her a nice girl with a tragic history, one that could be redeemed and saved.

She enjoyed hurting him, Ray could see that. Whatever she was saying was really hitting home with Fraser. He actually reared back as if hit and she just continued to talk sweetly to him. If Ray had to take a wild guess he’d say that she was telling Fraser how he had ruined their chances of a life together, how he had let her down and how he had disappointed her, how she hated him more than anything and that all was his fault. Oh, Ray didn’t need to be an expert at reading lips to get the “It’s all your fault” part loud and clear. He had gotten that speech enough in his own life to recognize that facial expression.

Ray curled his hands into fists. How dare she—! God, he was so angry. This bitch was shattering Fraser to smithereens and she enjoyed it. Every second of it.

Apparently she had reached the part about him having done enough and that he should just leave, since he had already ruined her life and she didn’t need him to do more damage. Fraser let his head hang and Ray could see the “I am sorry. I am so sorry,” pouring from his lips again and again.

She looked scathingly at him and Ray thought she was telling Fraser to get out. Fraser’s shoulder’s shook but he nodded and went out of the room.

Victoria was left sitting in the room with tears pouring down her tragically beautiful face that was distorted by a hateful sneer on her lips.

Ray punched the wall and turned around, running out of the room to look for Fraser.

He found him half a minute later in the men’s room standing at the sink, splashing water in his face. His whole body was trembling. His head shot towards the mirror when he heard the door open and for a second Ray could see the red rimmed eyes in the pale face before Fraser lowered his head to the sink again. Fraser shook his head, droplets of water flying everywhere, and stood up; the tremors in his body still painfully visible. On impulse Ray went the last couple of steps and pulled Fraser close.

“Shh… it’s gonna be alright, Fraser.” Ray murmured not knowing what else he could offer Fraser for comfort. This was so different… hugging Fraser standing up. Fraser was slightly taller than Ray and much broader which made Ray somehow feel as if this embrace was highly personal. But Fraser’s arms came around him and his wet face was right next to Ray’s and Fraser was trying very hard to get his breathing back under control so Ray decided to save his minor freak out for later. He stroked Fraser’s back in long calming strokes, all the while murmuring soothing stuff and feeling like a fool.

“It’s over, Fraser… don’t worry, I’m here, you’re safe…” and Fraser’s smell was everywhere and his body was so warm and how could anybody be so warm when they were falling to pieces?

“…she hates me… she hates me so much…” Fraser whispered, the agony clear in his voice, his feverishly hot breath causing goosebumps to appear on the skin of Ray’s neck.

“You did good. She deserved what she got. I’m proud of you.” Ray whispered back fiercely.

Ray had the feeling that he could get used to holding Fraser. Sure, it was strange in some way, but Fraser felt… right, somehow. He was just glad that shortly afterwards Fraser started to untangle himself before Ray could really start to reflect on how nice that had felt exactly.

Ray didn’t want to make Fraser feel bad for needing a hug so not mentioning it was probably the best course of action. He stepped back and smiled encouragingly at Fraser.

“You wanna get out of this hell hole?”

“Gladly.” Fraser answered.

They went to Bower to sign their statements and went back to their hotel.

“Hey, what do you say, we grab a shower and then we head out? Find a nice place to grab something to eat?” Ray asked Fraser once they had closed the door.

“That sounds like a good idea, Ray.” Fraser still looked a bit pale and Ray guessed that he didn’t feel all that well either.

“You go ahead and take the first one then.” He grinned at Fraser in what he hoped was an encouraging manner. “After all you could do with washing this whole day down the drain, I bet. You’ll feel better afterwards, you’ll see.”

“I think you’re right.” And wasn’t the Mountie full of surprises today? Here he was again agreeing with Ray. What was the world coming to?

Fraser vanished into the bathroom and a few minutes later Ray could hear the water running. He lay back on the bed and tried to relax which was easier said than done.

Not thinking of anything brought back the way Fraser had felt in his arms and this was just wrong because Fraser was in the next room and Fraser certainly didn’t need his partner lusting after him after all the shit he’d been through over the last days and this was nothing compared to his usual fantasizing about Fraser. This time it was the real Fraser he was thinking about not a figment of his imagination. And yet, the water kept running and Ray could so easily imagine the steamed up bathroom and Fraser’s strong hands moving down that body and— he should really stop thinking about it. But not thinking about the bathroom only brought back how Fraser had clung to him, and how warm he had felt. Would embracing him feel any different with fewer clothes on? Maybe Fraser wouldn’t feel as big then. God… Fraser was so big, being hugged by him would certainly be another experience altogether. And he remembered how Fraser’s breath had stirred the small hairs on Ray’s neck and Fraser’s fingers on Ray’s back seemed to have left a burning imprint. How would it feel to kiss his naked shoulder? Acres of smooth, soft skin and—the door to the bathroom opened and Fraser emerged in a cloud of steam and a big towel wrapped around his waist. Ray’s eyes wanted to pop out of his skull.

“The bathroom is all yours, Ray. You were right, it really does work wonder for a troubled mind.” He gave him a small smile.

Ray could only nod. “Ah, Fraser… you’re not dressed.” Ray stated stupidly, wanting to kick himself in the mouth for working without his consent.

Fraser looked himself down with a puzzled look on his face. “Well, Ray while I was finishing up my shower I decided that my uniform will not be needed for the remainder of our stay here. My other clothes were still in my suitcase however so that I had to improvise.”

Ray was still nodding absentmindedly. “I get that, okay.” Ray answered as if from very far away. He sprang up and ran past Fraser into the bathroom. “I’ll start scrubbing up then.” And with that he pulled the door shut behind him. He could hear that Fraser was still standing in the same spot for a few seconds longer before he heard him moving about, opening his bag or whatever it was called the Mountie used instead of a suitcase.

Ray shoved away from the door. His hard-on was very insisting about being out of his jeans and Ray felt briefly disgusted with himself. However, self-disgust was a familiar face for Ray and had never kept his dick in check before either. Ray stepped into the shower and turned the water on. For a second he debated to turn it on cold but this day had been bad enough and Ray honestly couldn’t face any more punishment. Fraser wasn’t the only one who could use a bit feel good time. Ray stood underneath the steaming hot spray but the water sloshing down wasn’t clearing his head any. Ray looked around for soap and found, right next to the bottle of hotel shower gel, an old-fashioned bar of soap. It was still glistening wet and Ray picked it up to smell it. The scent caused his cock to pulse and it drew a groan from his throat. This was Fraser’s. Ray knew that he was lost before he even tried to pretend that he wasn’t going to follow through with it. He moved the soap over his body and it was so easy to imagine Fraser standing behind him and moving the soap over his body. He was so hard there were already a few drops of pre-come glistening on the head of his cock before he even touched himself. It was so hot in the shower now that Ray didn’t need much help conjuring up the feel of Fraser’s broad, hot chest against his back… he even imagine Fraser’s cock nestled against his ass and was surprised that it didn’t even squick him in the slightest, if anything it excited him more. His breath was coming in rasping gasps of air while his hand closed around his cock. He leaned forward, one hard supporting him against the shower wall in front of him, his head hanging down and his hand moving in blinding speed. And all the while he could feel Fraser behind him, his hot, ragged breathing right in Ray’s ear. “Yes, Ray… god, you are so hot. You have no idea how much I want to be inside you…” He heard Fraser murmur in his ear before his hot tongue swiped a path along it and Ray was helpless to resist. He came with a muffled grunt, gnashing his teeth together to keep from screaming out. He was breathing heavily and he wasn’t sure if he should feel disgusted with himself or if this was simply too good to feel bad about. He towelled himself off and slipped into his old clothes – no way was he facing Fraser in nothing but a towel. He stood in front of the mirror and spiked his hair which helped immensely in getting his equilibrium back. When he went out he almost felt normal again. Fraser was lying on his bed, looking up at the ceiling.

“Ah, Ray. Are you ready to leave?” He looked better than before. Maybe a bit more relaxed or more in control again.

“Yeah, pitter patter, Fraser.” He retrieved the key card from the table and held the door open for Fraser. When Fraser passed him he seemed to freeze for a short moment. It sounded as if he was taking a deep breath but Ray didn’t understand why and Fraser was weird enough on normal days so he didn’t think too much about it. That is until they were waiting for the lift and Ray noticed that Frazer’s cheeks were a bit pinker than before. Fortunately, before Ray could open his mouth to make fun of it, he hit upon why that was probably the case. Shit… Frazer smelled his soap. Fraser knows that I’ve used his soap… and now he’s embarrassed.

“Uh… the hotel one smelled vile. Hope you don’t mind.” Ray mumbled and felt his own cheeks heat up. He was so stupid.

Fraser coughed discreetly. “Think nothing of it Ray. You are entitled to everything I own. I certainly don’t mind sharing with you.”

“Thanks, Fraser.” Ray said, now with flaming cheeks. Thankfully, the elevator was filled with people so Ray didn’t need to think about stuff to talk about on the ride downstairs.

Ray was not going to survive Boston, he felt sure of that.

They found a nice Thai restaurant near the Esplanade and Ray was happy that he had absolutely no shared memories of Thai food and anything remotely sexual. Stella hadn’t like it and he couldn’t remember having had even one decent date at a Thai restaurant. He wasn’t sure if he could have survived Fraser telling him about the aphrodisiac effect of oysters tonight.

Despite being typically brightly colored it somehow managed to bathe Fraser’s face in a gentle glow from the indirect lighting and the candles and since it was a rather smallish place Ray and Fraser shared a rather intimate table with each other.

Although, to be fair, Ray had to admit that this might only have been his paranoia speaking.  Fraser was set on not talking about the Victoria disaster, or at least not at the moment. Ray reckoned that this talk was going to come up sometime in the future. For the moment, however, he was perfectly at ease not to talk about that mad woman and in his effort to concentrate on everything but her Fraser was jumping wildly from one topic to the next which amused Ray to no end.

The walk back to the hotel was filled with companionable silence and in their room Ray went into the bathroom first to get ready for bed.

When he came out Fraser had already changed into his boxer shorts and his undershirt. While Fraser was busy in the bathroom Ray contemplated asking Fraser something that had been bugging him since he read the files on Victoria Metcalf. He just wasn’t sure how this would go down so Ray should probably leave it be.

When Fraser emerged from the bathroom and sat down on the edge of his bed Ray’s mouth worked on its own accord.

“Can I see the scar?”

Fraser’s head shot up. “What do you mean?” he asked but Ray had the feeling that Fraser knew perfectly well what he was talking about.

“The bullet from Vecchio’s gun… it’s still there, right?” Ray said quietly.

“Ah, yes. I’m afraid it is.” Fraser said looking unsure.

“It-it’s okay if you don’t wanna show it to me.” Ray hastened to say once it was clear that Fraser was not going to say anymore.

Fraser shook his head. “No, it’s alright.” He pulled his shirt over his head and lay down on the bed. “You can look if you want.”

Ray stood up and sat down softly next to Fraser’s hip. His fingers trailed down Fraser’s spine which caused a small shiver. Ray’s fingers stopped a few inches short of the scar. “Does it hurt?”

Fraser shook his head silently.

Ray touched it very softly and Fraser gave a small gasp. The skin felt even smoother where the scar began and it was bigger than Ray had thought, almost as thick as his thumb. “I’m so sorry, Fraser.” Ray said in a thick voice. This could all have been so much worse. It could have killed Fraser. And it was all Victoria’s fault.

Fraser turned his head a little and reached awkwardly behind him to cover Ray’s hand with his own.

“Thank you, Ray.”

Ray just nodded and got into his own bed. Fraser sat up and put his shirt back on again. Ray tried to focus his thoughts on the scar and not on the muscles working in Fraser’s back or the way he looked so touchable. The hardship of the day took its toll on Fraser who fell asleep in a matter of minutes but Ray lay awake for a long time. He watched Fraser and thought in which circle of hell he belonged because he was quite sure that’s where he was going.  When they came back from their trip Ray had a rather annoyed sounding message from Melissa on his answering machine. It had been almost two weeks since he had left her flat in a hurry and he felt bad for not having been in touch.

She didn’t say it in so many words but it was quite clear between the lines that it was put up or shut up time. Ray needed to come clean. The last few days had made it terribly obvious that he wasn’t going to shag any girlfriend of his in the nearer future… and seeing the possibility-level of his newest interest he’d say he wasn’t going to shag anyone at all in the future. He debated stalling a bit but he couldn’t see the point so he called her to ask her if she could meet him tonight. To Melissa it seemed quite obvious that he wasn’t going to ask for her eternal forgiveness and would try to make up for neglecting her the last two weeks. Ray didn’t know if this was a woman thing or if she just used common sense to figure out that he would have called had he been that into her.

“I’m really sorry.” Ray sighed into his drink. They were in a small cafe not far from the 17th precinct because he had met her right after work.

“It’s fine…really. I had my suspicions that this was not going to work out.” She said a bit disappointed.

“There’s just… there’s someone else and I thought it didn’t matter and that I could forget about it… but I can’t and it just wouldn’t be right.” Ray hated how much that sounded like an empty speech.

“Ah, so that’s it, hm? Do you mind telling me who she is?” She didn’t even make it sound nasty; she really sounded more like she just wanted to understand.

“It’s…just someone I work with and I’ve known forever. I hadn’t even thought that I could feel that way but… it’s just not going away.” He hoped he sounded as miserable as he felt when he said it. He was really calling it quits with a perfect girl because he had the hots for his partner, who was male, a Mountie, Canadian, and for all appearances asexual and at the moment Ray wasn’t even sure which of those could be counted as the biggest obstacle.

“I guess I should be glad that you didn’t play me for longer than you did.” She smiled a bit which took the sting out of her words.

“Well, I hope things work out for you.” She said and left him to pay for their drinks. Ray actually felt better with this one thing crossed off his list. If only his other problems could vanish so easily.

Ray had been fine with fantasizing about Fraser, he had gotten used to that. And it had been okay, because there was no chance in hell that Fraser could possibly be interested. Only now, well, now Ray believed that the Mountie was human after all. And as a human he had needs and if he had needs it wasn’t such a stretch to imagine that Fraser had indeed, at some point in his life, enjoyed sex.

Even when Fraser was at his most efficient and seemed to rely on nothing but himself Ray knew that Fraser got lonely and needed a hug and had been hurt deeply… it made crazy thoughts go around in Ray’s head. And to that came all those moments when Ray knew that Fraser was thinking of Victoria. It had started out completely innocent. Francesca was watching one of those silly soap operas in the break room and they went in to have a coffee when one of the female protagonists raised her tear stained face towards one of the male heroes and sobbed that he was killing her with his cold efficiency, if he didn’t care about her at all, and zap! Fraser’s brow creased. Lately those incidents had happened now and again. Sometimes he flinched slightly and other times he got a really dark look on his face or something. No one really noticed, but Ray did. And even he had needed a few tries to realize what was going on.

Fraser was still bleeding. And Ray knew it. Ray didn’t even want to take advantage of Fraser, hell no, no way. But whenever Fraser had one of his moments Ray remembered touching that scar and holding Fraser while he sobbed into his neck and they way he had sat quietly next to Fraser in the darkness of the early morning. Those were the times when fantasy Fraser seemed a possibility and not a dream and that scared Ray because at some point he was going to meet resistance. Fraser was bound to have a limit and one day Ray would overstep his boundary and ruin their friendship and he didn’t want to risk that but he seemed unable to stop.

So far it had only been small stuff and Ray didn’t even think that Fraser had really noticed. Yesterday for example they had pursued a smuggler who had tried to take cover on a circus ground and they had to follow him through one of those classic funhouses and when Fraser finally managed to slap a pair of handcuffs on the guy there were standing on those stairs that turned into a slide. And Fraser managed to keep standing all the while down while the scumbag just toppled down the chute and it was so hilarious that Ray came after them and he just reached out and mussed Fraser’s hair. Just like that. It felt pretty great too, all soft and again with this nature scent. Fraser didn’t appear rattled by it, he just smiled back at Ray’s good mood and that was it.

Stuff like that was dangerous. He already knew he was looking too long and touching too much. Of course, Fraser didn’t seem to notice that either or if he did he didn’t seem to mind. Ray suspected Fraser would be quite happy to let him live in his back pocket if that was what Ray wanted.

This also opened up Ray’s fantasy life to a whole new level. Ray did not only have determined Fraser, who pushed him against walls or threw him over the couch to have his wicked way with him, who knew exactly what he wanted and how to command it from Ray in that sinful, velvet voice. Now Ray also had needy Fraser in his repertoire. Had Ray known how hot that could be, he would have invented him a whole lot sooner. Needy Fraser was a sensual version, he liked to stretch out on the bed and Ray could drink him in for as long as he liked and he was making all those small noises when Ray touched him. And he was sensitive, boy, Ray drew gasps and moans from him and if he found a really good spot than Fraser couldn’t even keep his hips still. And in his fantasy Ray was very good at finding those spots. Fraser, naked and sweating, writhing on his bed, was a sight like no other. That Fraser couldn’t get enough touching and licking and sucking and all the while he was moaning like a porn star and begging for Ray to do something, let him come, fuck him, whatever the hell, just please Ray shouldn’t stop and let him hang like this, all in that broken, raspy voice that went straight to Ray’s cock.

The downside, of course there had to be a downside to that, too, was that fantasy Fraser seemed intent on making appearances in Ray’s real life – which was not only bad for Ray’s sanity but also for his productivity.

Today was one of the rather unproductive days. Well, it depended on your point of view but as far as paper work went this wasn’t a good day to get a head start on that.

Ray had had a rather short night. Fantasy Fraser had pushed into Ray’s flat and had taken one look at Ray. “Quit playing games, Ray.” And with that he had advanced on Ray who had been all for denial. “I don’t know what you’re talking about. I’m-I’m not playing anything, Fraser.” Fraser had gotten that knowing look and gave him that slow smile. “Aren’t you, Ray?” and he was standing so close and Ray gulped for air and his heart was beating a mile a minute and then Fraser very deliberately moved his hand to Ray’s crotch and pressed against Ray’s already hard cock. Ray moaned and almost sank to his knees but Fraser didn’t let him. He just pushed him up against the wall and started to open his jeans buttons. “You know Ray, you should know better than to lie to me.” And Ray nodded helplessly because now Fraser had his cock free and was moving his hand slowly up and down.  “How long have you been hard for me? Tell me, Ray.” And he grinned that seductive smirk again.

“A-awhile.” Ray stuttered, a deep groan escaping his mouth.

“I see.” Fraser smiled. Fraser put one finger into his own mouth and pulled it out again, glistening wet. He moved his hand behind Ray’s back and down to his ass, propping him up with his upper body alone, his mouth very near Ray’s ear. “Do you want me to put it in?” All the while he continued this slow rhythm with his right hand. “Gods, yes.” Ray moaned. “Please.” He heard Fraser chuckle but he didn’t care because Fraser finger was moving inside of him and Ray needed this so badly. He heard Fraser’s soft voice against his ear again, his breath softly stirring the hair behind it. “Do you know how long I have thought about your lips, Ray? This sinful mouth… you are so quick with it, your agile tongue and your smooth lips… do you know that I wondered how they would feel, if I kissed them?” Ray gave a shaky moan. “Please, Fraser, please.”

“Oh no, you have no idea how long I’ve waited for this moment.” His hands continued that slow rhythm and Ray’s hip was trying frantically to get him to move faster.

“I imagined what it would feel like to have your lips wrapped around my cock. How wet your mouth would feel. Can you imagine your lips stretched around it? Do you think you can take it all in?” Fraser’s tongue sneaked out to trail the rim of his ear.

“Have you ever sucked a cock, Ray? Do you know how heavy it feels on your tongue?” Ray was moaning shamelessly. “Please, Fraser, let me, I want to—please, I need to…” Ray was almost incoherent.

“You want it so badly, Ray? Do you want to taste me?”

“Yesss, gods, yes…”

And Fraser took his hand away from Ray’s cock and opened his pants. He pulled his other hand away. “Look at me Ray.” Ray was opening glassy eyes, completely unfocused with want. Without hesitation Ray dropped to his knees. At first he was only tasting Fraser’s cock with his tongue, swirling it around the head before taking it in his mouth. “Ah, Ray…so hot…”

Ray sucked him in hungrily. He was aching so bad for this feeling. He craved the weight of Fraser’s cock on his tongue. Ray made a small needy sound and Fraser started to shake. “God, Ray… you are so beautiful…” and Ray tried to take him deeper, until he felt Fraser’s cock hitting the back of his throat and with a cry, Fraser came. And so did Ray.  “So good, Ray…my Ray,… so good.”

So Ray had slept pretty well after that but not so long so he didn’t have all his defences up this morning. And he sat at his desk and tried really hard to focus on reality, and okay, maybe he was a bit jumpy. When Fraser said: “Ray, are you alright? You look kind of tense.” he had probably not meant that he knew a good method to relieve tension and would be very glad to help him. But Ray’s brain was already fried that morning so he had to excuse himself to go and jack off in the men’s room.

Which was bad in itself but right when Ray was about to finish he heard Fraser from outside calling “Ray?” and just hearing him call his name set him off. Ray bit down on his hand to keep his grunt as muffled as possible. He cleaned himself up and an instant later the door to the rest room opened and he heard Fraser again: “Ray, is everything alright?”

And Ray hastily tried to do his pants up. “Yeah, I’m fine. I’m fine, don’t worry.” And coming out of the stall he gave Fraser his best apologetic grin. Fraser was standing next to the sinks so Ray just crossed the room to wash his hands and be over and done with this affair. He was just about to thrust his hand underneath the water when he heard Fraser draw in a startled breath. Surprised Ray looked up into the mirror to find Fraser’s face intently focused on his own.

“Uhm, Fraser?” Ray asked unsure of what exactly it was he was asking.

It seemed to cost Fraser a conscious effort to clear his head. “Oh, nothing, Ray.” And he left the bathroom a bit quicker than completely necessary.

“Shit…” However Fraser knew this was certainly one of the times where Ray had gone too far. He went looking for him but when he found him everything seemed normal. Fraser wasn’t acting disgusted or hurt or any of the bad words Ray had thought up. He released a sigh. This time everything was alright. But Ray knew that he better got a grip on himself before everything really blew up in his face.

Ray decided a few days without fantasy Fraser might do him some good. And he was right… in a way at least. It was easier to keep control of his thoughts but he was edgy and irritable and Fraser was again at the receiving end of his mood which didn’t seem fair to Ray, add to that the fact that he felt almost hypersensitive and felt a longing take hold of him whenever Fraser touched him it wasn’t really all that better without sex. He tried it for about a week but it all stayed the same. He was moody and jittery and his skin itched uncontrollably to be touched. After that Ray gave it up. Fantasy Fraser was quite glad to reappear and the real Fraser seemed glad, too, when Ray’s mood returned to normal the next day.

Ray had started a list of infallible plans. Number one down got him to number two. This one was right out of Stella’s book, right from the beginning when they were really young and she had admonished him that he only thought about sex and didn’t care enough about what she wanted. Ray decided to pay closer attention to what Fraser was doing and saying and so on instead of what his body was capable of.

Only that didn’t work too well because Ray’s tolerance level for Inuit tales had not improved over the last weeks and Fraser was still very much the most irritating man on the planet… although one that filled out his jeans very nicely, but that wasn’t relevant right now.

After a week of trying to listen to Fraser’s stories of Moose John and the killer Caribou or whatever the hell Fraser had been talking about Ray was ready to die a peaceful death, it couldn’t be any harder than this.

Ray sank onto his couch with a defeated sigh. The sad thing was that Ray’s little boundary games hadn’t ceased. He had no explanation for it, other than he must have lost more than half his brain working with Fraser. Why else would he go around risking his friendship with one of the greatest guys on this planet? Two days ago Ray had done the absolute unthinkable… yeah, not thinking, that was exactly what had gotten him into that situation. Ray had gone home after work and the day had been a shitty one and Ray wanted some companionship and a sympathetic ear. What did he do? At around 10pm he dialled Fraser’s number at the consulate, who sounded pretty scared when he heard that it was Ray who had called. Probably thought there was a major crisis going down. And Ray said “Hey, what’s up?” and Fraser sounded suspicious when he asked “Ray is there any particular reason for your call?” Ray had seriously debated making one up, like something he had forgotten about the case, a date or something stupid. But he couldn’t bring himself to say it.

Instead Ray just chuckled and said “No, not really. Just wanted to hear how your day was, cause mine sucked, sucked like hell, I tell you.” The weird thing was that Fraser hadn’t found it weird at all. Even though it had been the one and only time Ray had just called to talk in all the time of their friendship. Hell, Ray hated telephone calls. They were dumb! If you wanted to talk to someone you could meet up with them. Fraser, he simply relaxed when he heard that this wasn’t an emergency but a simple social call and started to tell Ray about the paperwork he had to fill out something about a specific sheet of toilet paper that was called 14733-C1 or some crap and that it was highly different from the one with B2 at the end or what not. Canadians… they did weird stuff for fun. But Ray had been happy just to hear Fraser moan about his own bad day, in his very polite way, and it sounded like it had sucked because he couldn’t see Ray at the station and that felt damn good to hear.

Ray could get as close and personal as he wanted – well almost as close as he wanted – and Fraser just didn’t see anything wrong with it. He didn’t even bat an eyelash.

Everything was pretty much back to status quo afterwards. Ray was all out of brilliant plans and he didn’t know what else he could try. The next few days, things continued in what nowadays passed for normal. Ray was way too close and personal with Fraser, who didn’t seem to notice, if things got really bad Ray sneaked into the rest room to wank, albeit more discretely than before, and they still worked great as a team. Ray still fantasized about hot sex with the Mountie which in turn made him a lot more agreeable at work. Ray just wasn’t sure if he was cut out of the right stuff to keep going like this for all eternity. He had a history with crushes way out of his league but this was ridiculous. For the moment there was unfortunately not much Ray could do about it. Fraser didn’t make things easier, either. The last two days Fraser had seemed to be waiting for something. Ray couldn’t be sure and Fraser hadn’t been very forthcoming with information but sometimes when Ray called his name Fraser went all “YES?” very expectantly and then Ray was always very taken aback because he wasn’t sure what Fraser had expected him to ask. Obviously he had expected something more than “Make it print?” or “Did you see my car keys?” Ray couldn’t make head or tail of it. Fraser also employed his nervous habit of turning the Stetson around repeatedly over the last few days and Ray got the distinct impression that something was up.

After a few days more like that Ray had had enough. This thing was going to end, he didn’t care how. Well, strictly speaking, that wasn’t true. But it sounded good to be resolute at least once in a while. The way Ray saw it, Fraser was a pretty clever guy and even though he seldom let on that he had understood nothing much passed him by. Ray would see if Fraser was interested or not. He wouldn’t need to do a full blown declaration because Fraser was good at reading subtext although he would never admit it. He just had to find something that Fraser couldn’t misinterpret – or which he could understand the right way if he wanted to. And Ray wouldn’t mind if Fraser wanted nothing to do with that. That’s what Ray told himself every morning, it didn’t matter if Fraser didn’t want him like that. It was fine the way it was. Ray thought there must be a secret trick to this autogenous training because it didn’t seem to help him much. Ray spent the whole Wednesday evening brainstorming what he could say or do so that Fraser would get what Ray was offering. After his third beer Ray was pretty sure that he was onto something. He looked for possible drawbacks, although Ray could already see the most obvious one without any help, but didn’t find anything major; he would survive being bored for an afternoon.

Ray wasn’t sure when the best moment would be. Fraser needed to understand what he was offering but it shouldn’t be too meaningful in case he wanted to let Ray down easy. In the end he decided to do it during their lunch break. Initially he had wanted to do it on the drive home but the Goat didn’t seem like the right place to offer so he had looked for something else. Lunch meant, of course, that Ray still had the whole day to survive in case Fraser said no but lunch lent semi-privacy to the matter and that left it unrelated to work which suited Ray just fine. He took Fraser to the deli the Mountie liked so much because they used some kind of cheese that was special for a whole bunch of reasons for their sandwiches. They went to Wrigley Square to eat them in peace and it was a pleasant crowd there, quite nice actually. They were almost finished when Ray steeled himself.

“Hey Fraser, what are you doing on Saturday?” he tried to sound as casual as he could but Ray knew that his acting skills weren’t all that prize winning.

“I promised Diefenbaker to take him for a long run in the morning. Other than that I am afraid I don’t have any plans so far.” Fraser’s face looked so young and enthusiastic that Ray almost felt like a pervert.

“Uhm.. I got two tickets to one of those exhibitions of the Field Museum.” And Ray made damn sure that he got them. He even went to work later this morning and risked Welsh’s wrath to buy them beforehand. “”A, uh, one of my neighbours bought them but now he can’t go, figured I might enjoy it. What do you think?” Ray handed Fraser the tickets.

Fraser looked at them and his eyebrows flew up. “Portraits of Resilience – Discover the fragile beauty of four isolated Arctic towns” Fraser read out loud.

“It’s an exhibition about the climate change or something, and apparently some teens from those towns documented it.” Ray said, trying to remain calm.

“Your neighbour really though you might enjoy that?” Fraser asked. The cheek of that guy. “You wanna come with me or not?” Ray bristled.

“Very much so, yes.” And he smiled that blinding smile at Ray, it seemed to lighten up the whole lawn and Ray wasn’t sure if that was because Fraser had really understood or if Fraser was just touched that someone would think of him with something like that.

“It’s a date then.” And Ray grinned. He had never been more proud that his voice had come out steady than in this one moment.

“It would appear so, yes.” Fraser said cautiously, as if he couldn’t really believe it either.

Ray was so nervous because of Saturday that he couldn’t even touch himself that evening, nor the following. He just couldn’t relax. Friday was agony, even though Fraser seemed to enjoy himself a good deal. He was… carefree was an exaggeration but he sure seemed like quite the happy fellow. At five o’ clock when Ray’s shift ended Ray asked Fraser if he wanted to go and get something to eat. Fraser looked crestfallen but declined anyway. “I am terribly sorry. I still have some errands to run. Don’t think that I wouldn’t love to join you.” And Ray nodded because that was one hell of a statement coming from Fraser.

Ray went shopping instead. The date he had planned called for a home cooked meal. He just didn’t know what to make. He wanted something that didn’t need constant watching and not too much preparation. He almost felt bad when he bought stuff for lasagne and salad. Only almost, because a good idea stayed a good idea no matter who stole it. Ray also bought a bottle of wine again and went home feeling rather accomplished.

Ray went to bed that night knowing that jerking off would be the smarter idea. But he couldn’t, he was too hyped up and he couldn’t concentrate either on feeling or on fantasy. The next morning came and Ray fretted over the decision what to wear. He opted for his jeans and for one of his nicer t-shirts. He sighed… he just wasn’t going to impress anyone with his wardrobe but thankfully Fraser didn’t expect that. He arrived at the consulate shortly after eleven which was just how they had planned it. Ray got out of the car and knocked before going in.

“Yo, Fraser! Your escort is here!” Ray grinned.

Fraser emerged from the vicinity of the kitchen. He seemed a bit flustered when he said “Ah, Ray, I’ll be with you in a minute.” Ray thought he looked rather nice. Ray had already been a big fan of his jeans, hey, everyone would love those jeans compared to the usual pumpkin pants, but the shirt he was wearing was especially nice. Ray couldn’t remember seeing it before. It still looked like an item from the Sears catalogue but it matched Fraser’s dark hair and his blue eyes and Ray liked what it did to Fraser’s broad chest.

Fraser returned with a flat box. “This is for you, Ray.” He smiled a small smile when he handed it to him.

Ray opened the package and found his shirt in the box. The exact replica of the one he had worn when Janice Pryce shot him. “Fraser… Thank you.” Ray said surprised. He smoothed his hands over the soft material.

“How did you…?” Ray asked half stupefied.

“Ah.” Fraser smoothed down his eyebrow with his fist. “I recognized the smell as belonging to the same store most of your shirts belong.”

“Do you mind if I put it on?” Ray asked, still with that disbelieving tone in his voice.

“Not at all.” Fraser sounded pleased. “You know where the bathroom is.”

Ray emerged a minute later in his new shirt.

“How do I look?” Ray asked turning around to show off his newest asset.

“Very edible, I assure you.” Fraser said with a way too serious expression on his face.

“So what’s the occasion?” Ray asked.

Fraser hesitated for a fraction of a second. “I have to admit that I have felt that the ruin of your shirt was to no small part my fault. It seemed like a shame that you did not get to enjoy it as much as you should have… Shall we?” Fraser motioned toward the door.

“What? Oh, yes.”

Ray was jittery on the way to the museum. He kept thumping the beat of the music from the stereo on the steering wheel but every few bars he missed a beat, losing his rhythm in the progress. The soft clinking of his metal bracelet sounded loud in the otherwise quiet car. Why wasn’t Fraser talking? Usually, you couldn’t shut the guy up and the one time Ray counted on him to fill the silence he decided to swallow his tongue. Greatness! Just bloody great.

“So, uh… “ Ray began, thinking all the while ‘Say something, anything!’ “Did you have a good morning so far, Fraser?”

Fraser smiled politely at Ray.

“Yes, Ray. It is remarkable how a leisurely 10 km jog can refresh you.”

“Say that again in American?”

“That’s 6.214 miles, Ray.”

“Thanks, Fraser.” It was quiet again safe for the quiet creaking of the beads on Ray’s bracelet. Ray didn’t know when he’d been this nervous the last time. It just, well, he just wasn’t sure if Fraser and he were really on the same page here. And if they weren’t, well bugger. Then things could really blow up in his face.  But if they were then why didn’t Fraser make this easier on him?

Thankfully, the drive didn’t take that long and being out of the confines of the car made the silence less important because there were other noises to fill it, squealing children and chattering adults, street vendors and college students milling about the grassy patches. They ascended the stairs to the museum and showed their tickets at the entrance. Ray took one look around and groaned inwardly. There were pictures of snow, l-o-t-s of them, and geographic maps, and charts showing the temperature or occurrence of permafrost or whatever. And text, huge panels full of text. This was going to be educational. Ray hadn’t liked educational when it had been his own education at stake.

Ray didn’t see much difference any which way but Fraser looked as if you had shoved him onto an ice field or at least near enough to smell the snow or something.

“Ray this is fascinating.” Ray sincerely doubted that but this wasn’t his ideal date, it was Fraser’s and if Fraser could be made happy by looking at identical snowy pictures then that’s what Ray was going to do.

“Yeah, what’s so fascinating about it?”

“This picture has been taken in Pangnirtung and-“

“In where?” Ray interrupted. “I thought this was about Canada and Alaska and, you know, English?”

“Well, it is Ray. You see, Pangnirtung is a small town of approximately 1.400 people located on Baffin Island. It belongs, however, to the Canadian territory Qikiqtaaluk, more commonly known as Nunavut. The population consists of almost 95% Inuit which is why most of the names are in Inuktitut.”

“What, you have to speak Canadian, French and Inuit lingo in Canada?” Ray asked astonished. How could anyone know that many languages? Ray was mostly occupied with mangling English… and occasionally translating Canadian.

“English, Ray,” Fraser admonished with half a smile, “and French are the official languages. Inuktitut is only spoken by 80.000 people in Canada, Greenland and Alaska taken together. Yet a contract has been concluded termed the “Inuit Language Protection Act” entitling the citizens to deal with official matters in hospitals for example in Inuktitut.” Fraser explained, looking rather pleased.

“Okay, so what’s so fascinating about this Pangitug town?” Ray asked shrugging.

“Pangnirtung,” Fraser corrected, sounding as if he had lived with the Eskimos all his life. Fraser must have had a really miserable childhood… strike that, Ray knew that Fraser had a rotten childhood. God, there was just so much about this guy that made Ray want to punch a wall. It just wasn’t fair that a guy could be as great as Fraser and lived such a hell of a life so far. It felt strange, this need to protect the Mountie ‘cause of all people Fraser was the last one who needed any protection. Ray just couldn’t help it if he had anything to say about it he would make sure that Fraser got at least a few happy memories to remember Chicago by.

“Look at the picture, Ray. What do you see?”

Ray looked hard but couldn’t figure out what was bothering Fraser. He could see a hockey team next to an ice rink – which was exactly what he told Fraser.

“Exactly.” Fraser had such a light in his eyes Ray wasn’t sure that the museum had been such a good idea.

“Exactly what Fraser?” Ray asked annoyed.

“The date says it is October yet there is no ice on the hockey rink.”

Ray still didn’t get it. “So, it’s still early?”

“Nunavut only experiences a very short period of summer, mostly from the middle of June till August – summer being about +10° Celsius, which means 50° Fahrenheit, which leaves October at an average of 3,2° Fahrenheit.”

Ray thought about it for a second. “Okay, that would make no ice to skate pretty uncommon, I get that. So that’s what happens to all of the Northern cities?”

“Pretty much, yes.” Again, Fraser looked so sad that Ray was really starting to get frustrated with himself, couldn’t he get just things right just this once?

“This is good work. Events like this exhibition will raise the awareness for what is happening to the environment due to the climate change. Awareness is the first step to change.” He smiled at Ray and suddenly Ray felt better about this museum trip again. Maybe Fraser was glad that Ray showed some willingness to become aware of such stuff. Which was of course a load of bull, no way would Fraser believe that Ray did this field trip for the greater good. A good question would then be why Fraser thought that Ray had taken him there.

“Glad you enjoy it Fraser… uhm, I got a question. Uh, why do you think I brought you here?” Ray flinched hearing himself but it was out now so there was nothing he could do about it.

For a second Fraser looked very hard at Ray’s face and Ray could feel himself turning red. A second later Fraser was looking relaxed once more and he answered: “Well, you said you had a ticket to spare and you were right, I am indeed enjoying this. Isn’t this what you head in mind?” He looked so shrewdly at Ray that for a moment he wasn’t sure if Fraser had suddenly managed to use double entendres. But this was Fraser! Fraser didn’t know about ulterior motives, at least not if the ulterior motive was anything else than justice or the public safety.

“Yeah, yeah, right. Great that you like it.” He mumbled. He was missing something but he be damned if he knew what it was.

Fraser kept him at it for almost two hours more, pointing at pictures and explaining charts until Ray was really at the end of his rope. If he hadn’t known better, he would have said that Fraser was trying to draw this out for as long as he could, as if something about this pleased him so much that he wanted to prolong it for just that bit longer. Don’t get it wrong, Ray liked that Fraser enjoyed himself so immensely. He just would have preferred it if Fraser could be that happy in front of Ray’s TV or something similarly entertaining.

When they had seen every picture at least twice and Fraser had probably told Ray the whole story of the genesis of Canada or whatever that part of the bible was called Fraser seemed to take pity on Ray.

“Ray, this was an illuminating experience.”

Ray liked the glow around Fraser’s smile; still he couldn’t completely suppress a yawn. “Great, Fraser.” A few lines appeared around the corner of Fraser’s eyes as if he was trying hard not to grin. “Do you have any plans for the rest of the day?” Fraser inquired politely.

“Hey, I’m easy.” Ray said and Fraser got a strange glint in his eyes which made Ray hurry on with his speech. “Me, I haven’t eaten since breakfast and I could use a bite. So what do you say, we go to my place and cook up some lunch…uh… dinner, or something?”

“Sounds wonderful, Ray.”

Fraser’s hands seemed to itch worse than usual. He had a few of those touch-me-touch-me-not moments in the museum and before in the Goat but it seemed to be way worse on the way to Ray’s apartment.

“Frase, you sure that your hands are alright?” he asked when he tried to distract Fraser from noticing that Ray was about to run an almost red light – which worked.

“Yes, Ray. I’m sure it will take care of itself in the nearer future.”

“Yeah? How so? You have an appointment with a doctor?”

“No, not at all. I don’t think that will be necessary. I may have one of your hunches, Ray.”

“Ya think? You don’t have hunches, Fraser. You know stuff. So what gives?” Ray remembered vaguely that he had thought it was his shirt that was making Fraser itch, but he had been shot at that moment so he didn’t give that theory too much credit.

“I’m not sure, Ray, not at all. I just have a feeling that I will get them-“and it sounded as if he hesitated for a fraction of a second, “to quiet down in the nearer future.”

“Uh-hu.” Ray said intelligently, what were you supposed to say to something like that? Maybe it was a Canadian thing. Maybe that was what hay fever looked like in Canada… and maybe they had hay fever in strange seasons.

Ray parked the car and Fraser got out and instead of walking towards the door he walked towards the street corner. “Fraser, you forgot where I live or what?” Ray asked confused.

“Ah, Ray. Not in the least. I was just under the impression that you wanted us to cook at your apartment so I thought a small run to the supermarket was in order.”

Ray leaned his arms on the hood of the car and grinned at Fraser. “Nope. I got everything covered.”

Fraser’s eyebrows climbed up. Shaking his head he changed direction toward Ray’s apartment door.

On the way to the door he asked, “So, if you don’t mind me asking, what are we having for… an early dinner?” Ray laughed inside, even Fraser had problems with eating at tea time.

“What would you say to lasagne and salad, my hungry friend?” Ray replied.

“I would say that I would appreciate that very much.”

“Good.” Ray said and reached for his keys. He could feel Fraser standing behind him, so very close. It made him nervous, Ray could almost imagine feeling Fraser’s breath on the back of his neck. He dropped his keys and dove down to retrieve them. He flushed and tried again to jam the keys into the key hole but Fraser’s presence so very close unnerved him. It wasn’t like Fraser to crowd you like this. After another attempt Ray finally managed to get the door open. Ray took the stairs a bit quicker than really necessary but this way he was faster at the door than Fraser and therefore a bit more successful with opening it.

He switched his chain of pepperoni lights on and another smallish lamp in the corner. It wasn’t exactly bright, but it was cosy and Fraser didn’t complain a bit. Ray also switched on the overhead light in the kitchen. No use working in the half dark when Ray would only end up hurting himself.

Fraser was looking around as if he had never seen the place before.

“You, ah, Ray, you’ve tidied up.” Fraser remarked astonished. Heh, Ray thought, it’s not easy to surprise the Mountie.

“Yeah, I… well it did need a bit of a cleanup.” Fraser looked hard at him and Ray felt that flush returning, so instead he busied himself in the kitchen. “I bought a bottle of wine. I know you usually don’t drink but I thought what the hell, maybe even you enjoy a glass once in a while. No harm done, right?” Ray chanced a look at Fraser who replied “I don’t think one glass will hurt me” in a soft voice.

Ray almost dropped the corkscrew in shock. He poured two glasses and handed one to Fraser. Fraser took it and murmured “To an extraordinary day” looking straight into Ray’s eyes when they clinked glassed and Ray thought there was something in that gaze… full of, he didn’t know but a second later it was as if it had never been there although Ray could have sworn…

Ray started to gather the ingredients and to get the oven ready for later when Fraser came around the kitchen counter to stand beside Ray. Ray ran into the drawer he had left open after getting the corkscrew out.

Fraser smiled softly. “You seem jumpy, Ray.”

“I-I’m not jumpy, kay? I’m just…I’m not, okay? You wanna stand there or do you wanna help me?” Ray grumbled embarrassed. Fraser decided to assist him and together it was a rather companionable atmosphere in the kitchen and as long as Ray’s thoughts didn’t linger too long on Fraser’s hands his sanity was also intact for a couple of minutes more.

When the lasagne was in the oven Fraser started on the salad and Ray went to the stereo to select suitable background music. He opted for some jazz music, more on the lounge side than on the virtuoso scale so it should be relatively relaxing – something Ray was in dire need of – and it didn’t have any lyrics. Ray was pretty damn sure that he wouldn’t survive any of the suggestive pop song lyrics about grinding and getting down or about unconditional love and never ending devotion.

Fraser looked surprised for the third time this evening. Ray had seldom played music before. They had mostly just watched telly or had no noise in the background at all. “This is very nice, Ray.” And Fraser smiled such a warm smile that Ray was embarrassed again. He seemed to be the most successful when he was trying the least and wasn’t that depressing and reassuring at the same time?

Ray had a few candles in his flat and he had even replaced all the burned-down ones but he couldn’t bring himself to light the ones on the table because that would really mean something. You couldn’t have a candlelit dinner without explaining yourself.

Fraser however obviously hadn’t gotten the memo because when he sat down the plates on the table he took the lighter that lay next to the candles and simply lit them, without much ado or any comment at all. Ray didn’t say anything either because he liked what the light did to Fraser’s face and it felt nice to just make believe that Fraser was as much into this as Ray was. Truth was, Ray still didn’t know. He had tried to look at it from all angles but Fraser hadn’t given him a definite sign. Sure, Ray thought, Fraser was pretty happy with today but that could have countless reasons and didn’t have to mean that Fraser had an urge to kiss Ray. Someway Ray had to know that much he knew. The question remained how he was going to find out.

They sat down for dinner and Fraser took another sip of his wine and Ray was so focused on Fraser’s lips and on how that red liquid vanished behind them that he almost missed Fraser taking his first bite. More precisely Ray did miss it but Fraser gave such an unmistakable moan of pleasure once he tasted the food that Ray felt a jolt going through him. Never, not ever, had Fraser moaned; not in pain, not out of joy, never.

Ray’s lips were parchment dry and he felt like he was gagging on his own tongue. “Good?” His voice came out shaky and more like a whisper than he had intended.

Fraser’s gaze fixed on him. “It’s delicious. You should try it.” And there went the tongue again, chasing the last traces of that bite. Ray was being punished, he wasn’t sure for what but this had to be hell.

The candlelight threw shadows over Fraser’s face and Ray felt mesmerized. He couldn’t look away and he couldn’t keep on staring at him but through it all Fraser seemed completely at ease. Ray wondered about that. Fraser never seemed at ease and this day from all others he could relax? Even if Fraser didn’t take it as a date it was still so different from all their other evenings spent together that Fraser should feel confused or uncomfortable or any of those things. Fraser cleared his plate and Ray was profoundly sad that he hadn’t thought as far as to prepare desert – or he had. He just wasn’t sure what Fraser would say to that kind of desert. Ray only knew one thing: he could not go on living this way. He couldn’t get up every morning just to see Fraser’s face and then go to sleep again at night with thoughts full of him and all the while pretend that there was nothing to it. He couldn’t tell himself forever that this was enough without ever knowing if there could be more.

Maybe Ray had been foolish in believing that this date might solve all his questions. He had simply assumed that he would know as soon as it started; but he hadn’t. Ray carried their plates into the kitchen while Fraser took a space on the couch, claiming that he could use some place to stretch out now. Ray considered his glass of wine; he had drunk two glasses, not enough to be drunk but maybe enough to fool Fraser into believing that he might be drunk or more than tipsy? They never drank wine together, so maybe Fraser would believe that Ray was a lightweight when it came to wine? He could just ask… and if Fraser said no, then Ray would simply laugh it off as a joke and offer to drive him home or he would shrug it off as a drunken request. Ray could survive, their partnership could – at least he hoped so. Ray just had to know or go insane.

Ray sat down next to Fraser on the couch, replenishing their drinks while he was at it.

“Are you trying to get me drunk?” Fraser asked sounding amused. Ray felt way too raw and too exposed to be funny. “Why, is it working?” He asked instead.

Fraser contemplated him for a second before he answered. “I prefer to be in full control of my faculties. I wouldn’t want to blame my actions on anything else than my own free will.”

Ray was only half listening; he was busy thinking up a way to ask his big question. He opened his mouth to say “That’s no fun.” But what came out instead was: “Could you kiss me?”

The silence was deafening. Fraser angled his body toward him and looked seriously at Ray. Ray had intended to look him straight in the eye – well no, Ray hadn’t even intended to blurt it out like that but now that it was out in the open he was determined to meet his eye. However, he seemed physically unable to look above Fraser’s collar bone. So he fixed his look on that instead. Fraser was quiet for what seemed like an eternity.

“Just once.” Ray said very quietly, closing his eyes involuntarily because he just couldn’t face Fraser’s rejection.

He heard a soft sigh. “I don’t think I can do that, Ray.”

Ray had only uttered the first syllable of “Please” before a shock went through his whole system. He could feel Fraser’s face coming closer and finally Fraser’s lips touched his own, very soft, so gentle that Ray was completely lost. Fraser’s lips moved against his and Ray was thinking that Fraser was really taking his time and a second later he could feel hesitant fingers threading through Ray’s hair, one hand cradling the back of his head the other touched his cheek so tenderly that Ray thought he might be dreaming this all.

He opened his lips a fraction of an inch and he could feel Fraser’s tongue begging for entrance and suddenly everything got even more intense. He touched his tongue to Fraser’s and it was a feeling like coming home. Ray felt that this kiss went on for all eternity and he never wanted it to stop. When Fraser finally pulled away Ray couldn’t help it, a small, needy, sound escaped the back of his throat; a desperate moan to keep Fraser’s mouth close. And that was it, Fraser’s lips had maybe been an inch away from Ray’s mouth but the moment Ray made this sound Fraser dove right back in again with lightening speed. There was nothing tender or fragile about this kiss, this was pure passion and Ray hadn’t known that Fraser could be so hot. Fraser’s tongue licked right into his mouth, capturing him completely and both his hands wandered around Ray’s torso in such urgency that Ray was rock hard before the kiss even really registered in his brain. Fraser’s fingers seemed to touch every inch of Ray’s body hidden by his shirt. Fraser bit at his lower lip, soothing the sting with his tongue before he pushed in deep again and Ray just took it all. He was moaning helplessly, this was so much better than he had imagined. Fraser tried to get more, closer, but Ray just didn’t have any strength left so he went over backwards with Fraser on top of him and Fraser didn’t even waste a second. Before Ray could even comprehend where he was he felt Fraser’s hands underneath his T-Shirt exploring every inch of his skin.

The moment Fraser pinched his nipples and he cried out, he also heard a voice saying: “I’m sorry” but Ray didn’t understand, because he hadn’t spoken those words and if he hadn’t, then Fraser had and that didn’t make any sense.

Ray’s T-Shirt was being lifted and the next instant Fraser’s mouth abandoned him, his shirt was pulled over his head and Fraser’s mouth fixed on his left nipple. Ray was lost; he couldn’t remember the last time he had felt this lost. “Sorry, Fraser?” he managed to voice after a few tries.

“I can’t stop after kissing you once.” Came the instantaneous reply and Ray was even able to comprehend that before those sinful lips descended on him again.

“Bed!” Ray gasped when air was really starting to become an issue and he could feel Fraser nodding frantically beside him. Fraser pulled him up and – without ever stopping to kiss him and touch him – walked him backwards toward his bedroom.

Ray’s whole body felt on fire and the moment he felt Fraser’s hand inside his jeans, squeezing his buttocks he was lost. He moaned into Fraser’s mouth and tried to wrap his right leg around him. He stumbled and almost fell, thankfully the wall wasn’t far away so Ray collided with it – he guessed it was the one next to the door leading to his bedroom – pulling Fraser against him. Fraser moved his hand against Ray’s groin and Ray’s leg tried to wrap itself around Fraser’s hip on its own accord. Fraser did the easiest thing, he simply picked Ray up, who wrapped his arms around Fraser’s neck and held on. They kissed feverishly and all the while Fraser worked to undo Ray’s pants. Ray felt a sharp tug at his upper lip and the next moment Fraser supported Ray’s whole weight against the wall, both of Ray’s legs wrapped around Fraser’s hip. Fraser didn’t even stop his ministration, one hand just wandered down, undid the last button and Fraser grasped inside his boxers to release his cock. “God…” Ray moaned out loud. Fraser’s hand pulled Ray’s cock once, twice, before Ray started shaking. “Fraser… Fraser!” And the Mountie released his grip on Ray’s cock murmuring soothing words into his ear. “Bed.” He whispered and Ray, still shaking from almost having come, nodded helplessly. Fraser carried him to the bed where they both collapsed in a tangle of limbs and Ray was moaning again, “Fraser…please, please, I want to see you. Get out of the clothes.” Fraser undressed with a speed Ray would have sworn was impossible, but once naked he stood almost shyly in front of Ray’s bed making the vision all the more endearing because Ray could see no reason for Fraser to feel shy. The moment Fraser was completely exposed Ray attacked him; he wanted to touch and taste every inch of him. Fraser moaned under the sudden onslaught and Ray felt like he had never tasted anything as sweet. “Please, Fraser… I want …just don’t move.” And Fraser nodded though he didn’t understand and suddenly Ray had slithered of the bed, down to the floor. Ray’s hands travelled again down the length of Fraser’s body, coming to rest upon his cock which he pulled towards himself, capturing it with his mouth. And Fraser- Fraser was gone. The moan seemed to come from a place so deep inside Ray wasn’t sure if Fraser hadn’t carried it around with him all his life. Ray tried to take it all in, to remember every curve and the smoothness of the skin with the help of his tongue, he wanted to burn that taste into his memory. His eagerness touched something inside Fraser who started a soft murmuring and after a few seconds Ray realized that Fraser was chanting his name. “Ray… oh god, Ray… oh, Ray….” That turned Ray’s crank so hard he had to keep his hands from touching himself. Instead he placed them on Fraser’s thighs and he noticed that a tremor shook them with every suck of Ray’s wet mouth, like Ray’s did whenever it was really good. He could hear Fraser’s breath hitch and the muscles in his lower abdomen quivering. “Ray…. Don’t, I’m gonna… and I want to…” Ray pulled slowly away drawing it out, keeping his tongue on Fraser’s cock till he reached the tip, swirling it around once more. “RAY, god!” Fraser pleaded and Ray pulled back completely. Fraser stood there shivering with want, his lips trembling softly and Ray felt a rush of tenderness toward him. He stood up and embraced him pulling him to the bed with him. He kissed him, short, nipping kisses, designed to tease him and Fraser gave a guttural groan before Ray’s world vanished again in a whirlwind of motion and feeling. Fraser’s hands were everywhere again, trying to commit every inch of Ray to living memory. Ray wasn’t sure when Fraser had managed to get his jeans of but he didn’t care how as long as nothing came between Fraser’s touch and his skin. “Perfect,” Fraser murmured, kissing his hip bone, “utterly perfect, Ray” muttered into the tender part of skin where Ray’s ribcage ended. Ray let his head fall back and panted for breath. This was so much and he had spent weeks and months thinking about Fraser’s intensity but nothing could have prepared him for it. “Ray…. I—“he could hear Fraser swallowing heavily. “Anything, Fraser. Anything.” Ray gasped, feeling the burn of Fraser’s tongue on his nipple, the hint of teeth grazing it.

He heard the shuddered intake of Fraser’s breath.

“You have to trust me, Ray.” Ray was so far gone he just wanted it, something, some release to this quicksilver fire rushing through his blood but he went with his gut, or his body already knew what Fraser was asking for because in one smooth moment Ray had turned around, stretching his spine and presenting Fraser with the unexplored territory of his back. Fraser moaned softly at the sight.

Fraser moved behind him and trailed kisses down Ray’s spine. His tongue drew patterns all the way down and Ray felt hot, so unbearably hot. Fraser’s tongue trailed down to the dip where Ray’s spine met his ass and Ray’s breathing hitched. He had never dared to imagine this, he had thought… because the Mountie had the tendency to lick anything but he had never hoped that he might be willing— every thought was blown straight from his brain the moment Fraser’s tongue touched his opening. The movement was deliberate and not the least hesitant. A moan was torn from Ray’s throat and he raised himself up on his knees without any conscious thought, trying to get more of that feeling of that wet, mobile, tongue. Fraser was only too happy to oblige and breached him with his tongue. Ray was dizzy with need, the feeling was completely overwhelming and he felt that he could come like nobody’s business if only, if Fraser just gave him that bit more. He needed “more” he gasped breathlessly. “Please, Fraser! I’m going insane… I need…. God, I want… more” He thrust his hips shamelessly into the air, he didn’t care, he just wanted it so badly. He felt the bursts of hot air as Fraser exhaled in a shock. It only took him a split second to recover and Ray felt the bed dip as Fraser fumbled for something on the floor. A second later he could hear the soft “click” of a bottle being opened and then Fraser’s tongue was back. “Jesus!” Ray trembled. But Fraser took his time, licking inside as deep as his tongue could go and Ray thought he would lose his mind. “Fraser… please…” he whimpered. With the next slide of his hips there was a finger next to Fraser’s tongue and Ray pushed, trying to show Fraser that he wanted this, hell, needed this with the very core of his being. He moaned when the finger slipped in to the hilt without any effort and heard an answering moan behind him. Ray was so desperate for it that Fraser didn’t make him wait long before a second finger joined the first. Fraser made a scissoring motion, inserting his tongue in between and Ray almost came just from that alone. He grappled on the bed sheet trying to keep himself together and then he felt Fraser’s other hand rubbing soothing circles on his back, his other hand never stopping his movement, neither did the tongue and Ray had never been so glad that Fraser was a multi tasking genius.

The tongue vanished and Fraser bent forward, almost covering the whole of Ray’s back, kissing Ray’s shoulder blades. “God, Ray… you have no idea how beautiful you look right now”, another kiss between the shoulder blades, “so incredibly wanton,” another kiss on the back of Ray’s neck, “so very hot” and with that teeth closed around the soft skin of Ray’s neck and Ray cried out. He couldn’t even explain it, other than that it seemed to call to something primal in him, an animal wildness that was kept tightly leashed. Ray grunted, his cock must have been bathed in pre-come by now and he felt so close he wasn’t sure how much more he could take. The teeth closed a bit more tightly around Ray’s skin and another finger entered him. Ray pushed back again, relishing the light burn, trying to take more in. Fraser moaned above him and released his neck, soothing the teeth marks with his tongue.

“Fraser,” Ray gasped, “please… gods, I need…. Please, fuck me…. Fuck me already.” And he sounded so desperate that Fraser shivered all over. He moved back a bit and one hand started groping around again, a moment later Ray heard the soft tearing of a wrapper and Fraser spit the rest out. Ray could feel Fraser’s cock lined up where his hand was still busy. The moment Ray felt that Fraser pulled his fingers back was the moment he pushed and this time the burn was stronger but Ray felt greedy and lost and this slow burn was the only thing keeping him grounded so he pushed again until he felt Fraser right behind him. “Oh,” he exclaimed in wonder.

“Ray, Ray, Ray…” Fraser was mumbling in a never ending prayer.  “So good, so tight… Ray, oh Ray…” But now there was nothing keeping Ray back, he pushed again. “Fraser, move! Damn it!” And Fraser did, he gave one powerful roll of his hips and Ray cried out, “yes! More!” Fraser was only too happy to oblige. His thrusts came fast and forceful, rocking Ray forward with the power of it. Fraser’s fingers dug into Ray’s side to keep him in place and Ray spread his legs further, trying to take him deeper. Fraser reached around him and slung one arm around Ray’s torso, pulling him up. And Ray took the opportunity to fuck himself on Fraser’s cock and Fraser groaned loud and utterly wild. “Ray,…god, you look….” And Ray raised himself up a bit more and looked to the left. If he strained his neck he could just see the mirror on the front of his wardrobe. He let his head fall back onto Fraser’s shoulder and watched himself getting fucked by Fraser. He met Fraser’s gaze in the mirror and gasped again when he saw the feral expression on his face. He had never seen him so unguarded, so completely out of control. Without ever looking away, Fraser reached down and grasped Ray’s cock. He moved his hand in time to his thrusts and when Fraser whispered “Ray” in that broken voice, Ray came. He came so hard his gaze unfocused, everything went black for a second. He heard a hoarse scream that might have been his own and he felt Fraser’s teeth on his neck again and one more forceful thrust and then Fraser gasped and more or less collapsed on top of Ray. Ray simply fell forward, Fraser’s cock slipping out and Ray sprawled boneless on the bed. Fraser shifted a bit to the side so as not to squash Ray. Ray was still trying to get his breathing back under control.

They lay like this for several minutes, quite comfortable in the warm bed and at some point Fraser even managed enough strength to pull the condom off, make a knot in it and throw it unerringly into the wastebasket. Ray would have been impressed if he hadn’t started to freak out the moment the world came into focus again.

“Fraser! You kissed me!” Ray said incredulously.

The skin around Fraser’s eyes crinkled and his lips twitched in amusement. “Among other things, yes.” He replied gravely. Ray looked accusingly at him. “Are you drunk? I swear to god Fraser, if you’re drunk and I’ve used you and you are going to regret this and I—“

“Ray-Ray-Ray-Ray-RAY, listen to me!” Fraser smiled exasperatedly at Ray. “As I’ve told you before I am not drunk and in full control of my actions. I will not regret this nor have you used me in any way against my will.”

Ray let out a deep breath he hadn’t known he had been holding. “Okay, okay, greatness.” Fraser reached out and gently stroked Ray’s back. Ray looked so surprised at this gesture that his head flew up to meet Fraser’s quiet gaze. “This is real, right?” Ray whispered. “Yes, Ray.” Fraser murmured. As if drawn by a magnetic force Ray moved closer to Fraser’s face, eyes fixed on his lips and Fraser angled his head toward him and captured his lips. It wasn’t as fragile as the first kiss, neither was it as rushed as the second. It was deep and reached right down to Ray’s core. Fraser’s lips were so soft and his hands were sure but gentle where they massaged Ray’s scalp and Ray’s hands wandered over the smooth expanse of Fraser’s chest trying to hold onto him as if it was the only proof that this was indeed real.

Fraser drew back a bit and looked directly into Ray’s eyes. “Are you calm now?” He murmured and Ray nodded although he wasn’t sure if this was the truth.

He pulled Ray close to him, his fingers roving over every inch of Ray’s body while Ray tried to come to grips with what had just happened.

“You like me… in that way?” Ray asked dumbfounded.

Fraser chuckled. “That would be a bit of an understatement as I am sure you well know.”

Ray was quiet for a second. “Since when?”

“Ray, I am not sure if one can ever accurately pinpoint-“ Ray knew an evasion when he heard one.


Fraser sighed. “Very much from the start.”

“From the—- Fraser, you can’t be serious!” Ray said, turning around to look at Fraser’s decidedly pink face.

“Well, you already know that I’ve found you attractive right from the start. And it didn’t take long before I felt inadvertently drawn to your personality.”

“… Why didn’t you ever say something?” Ray said quietly.

“I-Ah, I didn’t think that my attention would have been wanted. You did not seem ready for that particular truth.”

Ray sighed… he knew that.

“So, did you-did you know that this was a “date” date?” Ray asked and he really wanted to know because in some moments he had felt sure that Fraser knew but then everything looked the same as always and then he wasn’t sure again.

“Yes.” Fraser’s smile seemed to glow. Ray couldn’t remember ever seeing him smile so often. “I… I had my suspicions those last few weeks that you were developing certain… feelings… for me, and I remembered our discussion about my choice of location for a date.”

“You were waiting for me.” Ray said feeling overwhelmed.

“Yes.” Fraser said again all smooth and calm.

“Wow.” Ray grasped Fraser’s hand that was still busy touching every inch of skin it could find and held onto it. He traced the lines of the palm and the texture of the fingers like that time long ago. He pulled Fraser’s hand up to his face and kissed the knuckles, they were as smooth as he had imagined them. Fraser probably used some of his freakish concoctions to keep them this way.

“You’re staying, right?” Ray asked in a small way, unsure again.

“If you’ll have me.” Fraser replied seriously.

“Of course!” Ray said with a bit more force than necessary. Fraser pulled him in for a deep kiss again. “Shh, I’ll stay.” Fraser whispered. “For as long as you want me to.”

Ray snuggled under the cover and threw the other half over Fraser and relaxed. “Good.”

The next morning dawned and Ray felt incredibly comfortable in his bed although he felt rather sore in other places and he was pretty sure that he had a few light bruises above his hip bone where Fraser had held him. He smiled a mischievous smile and looked to Fraser who was still sleeping peacefully. He had awoken to his usual morning wood and from what he could tell Fraser’s situation wasn’t much different. Ray moved on top of Fraser and rubbed his cock against Fraser’s. Fraser gave a soft moan and opened his eyes sleepily. Ray grinned down at him and Fraser’s eyes went wide for a second. It only took him a second to recover, though and before Ray was able to wrap his head around it Fraser had captured his lips again. Fraser worried Ray’s lower lip before he slipped his tongue into Ray’s mouth. His hand stroked Ray’s back down to his ass and up again and Ray gave a low moan, trying to grip both of their cocks in one hand. Fraser broke the kiss and panted “I take it you don’t have any second thoughts then?” Ray chuckled. “Fraser you are the best thing that’s ever happened to me and it’s taken me months to get it into my stupid head that I’m in love with you, there’s nothing to think about.”

Fraser had that wide eyed look again. “You love me?”

“Uh,” Ray turned a dark shade of red. Maybe he had said too much too early. “I mean, yeah… that alright with you?” Ray asked suddenly terrified.

Fraser pulled Rays mouth toward his again. His mouth opened against Ray’s lips, inviting Ray’s tongue in. Ray put all his insecurities, all his fears into that kiss; it was demanding and Ray let no inch undiscovered. When Ray pulled away Fraser smiled a smile as wide as the horizon. “Ray… you have no idea for how long I’ve been in love with you. I had hoped… I hadn’t even dared to hope, but I had imagined countless times how it would feel to kiss you, to make love to you.” With those words he rocked against Ray, pushing their cocks into the tight circle of Ray’s hand. Ray moaned in a low tone. Fraser put his hand around Ray’s and started kissing him again. Ray pulled his hand away from underneath and moved faster and faster against Fraser. He panted against Fraser’s ear, “Fraser, we won’t… oh god…. We won’t live long enough…. Ah, yes… to-to live out all the fantasies…” he gasped again, “oh god, Fraser… all the fantasies I’ve had about you…. “ He moaned again.

“I would like to try.” Fraser said into Ray’s ear in a dark voice, full of promise and Ray gave one final lurch and came against Fraser who used the wetness to slide once, twice more before he came with a grunt. “Ray… you are unbelievable.” Ray laughed breathlessly. “Look who’s talking.”

Ray was more or less glued to Fraser now but he didn’t mind terribly. He leaned down to kiss him again, Ray was pretty sure that he could get used to kissing Fraser whenever he felt like it. Although he highly doubted that he would ever get used to the extraordinariness of that possibility.

“We’re disgusting, Fraser.” Ray whispered in a voice full of humor. “We should get a shower.”  He waggled his eyebrows in a very suggestive way.

“Ray!” Fraser said mock-appalled. “You are insatiable.”

Ray smirked at him. “Do you think you can handle me?”

“Very much so.” Said Fraser without a moment’s hesitation.

Ray untangled himself and started to sit up. His fingers touched upon some plastic object and confused Ray examined it. It was a bottle of lube, it just wasn’t Ray’s. Last night Ray had believed that Fraser had found his supply in the drawer or even that Ray had left the bottle somewhere on the bed. This however looked more like—“Fraser! You came prepared!” He exclaimed accusingly.

Fraser blushed. Honest to god, this was the first time Ray had ever seen him blush. “I-I have to admit that I was kind of hopeful when you asked me out on a date.” He mumbled.

“What?” Ray grinned suddenly. “You were planning to have sex on the first date? Fraser, I’m shocked.”

“I was just trying to be prepared… I wasn’t wasting any chances with you, as you well know, proper preparation-“

“-prevents poor performance.” Ray finished for him, smirking.

“The thought of you running around that damn museum with a bottle of lube and rubbers in your pocket… I swear, had I known then I would have pulled you into the nearest restroom…. or were you actually teasing yourself with it? Sneaky Mountie.”

Fraser looked clearly unhappy with Ray’s gleeful reaction. He cleared his throat. “I don’t remember any complaints yesterday night when you were begging me to fuck you.”

Ray’s jaw dropped in shock. “You did not just say that. Holy shit! I can make you swear.”

Fraser smoothed down his eyebrow.

Ray laughed. “Okay, I got it. No dirty talk outside of the bedroom. Come on let’s grab a shower.”

Afterwards Fraser was preparing coffee when Ray started to straighten up his living room. Ray picked up his shirt and suddenly he remembered something.

“Hey, Fraser?”

“Yes, Ray?” Fraser looked up expectantly.

“This itch you have, in your hands, was it because of my shirt?”

Fraser looked confused for a second before he gave a quiet laugh. “Not exactly Ray, no. It was merely such a different look on you that I had the strong impulse to check if it would feel any different, too. I had the urge to touch you for such a long time, I’m afraid this simply caught me off-guard and I couldn’t help myself.”

“Your hands were itching because you wanted to touch me?” Ray asked trying to check if he had understood correctly.

“Yes.” Fraser said simply. Boy, the things you never know about someone.

“Do they itch now?” Ray asked.

“Yes.” Fraser answered again with an intense look on his face.

Ray ambled toward Fraser and stopped right in front of him. He took Fraser’s hand and placed it in the middle of his chest. “I’m in this as much as you are, Fraser. You can touch me anytime you like, anywhere you want…. Well, some things you better save for the bedroom or at least indoors but… you get me, right?”

Fraser nodded.

Ray leaned up and kissed Fraser possessively. When he pulled away Fraser’s breath was coming in short gasps and his gaze looked unfocused. Ray smiled tenderly, not feeling much more in control himself.

“You’re something else, Fraser.” Ray said quietly.

“In a good way?”

Ray grinned wickedly. “Mostly.”

And Fraser leaned in again to kiss that wicked smile from those inviting lips. And Ray thought that he wouldn’t want Fraser any other way, he didn’t want easy and smooth when that meant he had to find someone else instead.

This was as close to perfect as it ever got.