“You get the best of me
‘Cause I’ll never, I’ll never back down
You won’t take the rest of me
I’ll never back down never back down
You get the best of me
‘Cause I’ll never, I’ll never back down
You won’t get the rest of me”
Wooing Fraser was a piece of cake, a real walk in the park, a— easy, okay, it was supposed to be easy. At least that was Ray’s conclusion after he had thought long and hard about the best approach.
Thing was, rejection wasn’t an issue here. Fraser had been looking at Ray, like, really looking and all the bells in Ray’s head had started chiming. Oh yeah, this was for real alright.
But Fraser didn’t do anything about it. And Ray had been married, he knew when he had to take the first step; it was written on his forehead or something. The whole world looked at him and silently read: ‘This is Ray; make him work for it.’
Ray could do this. Weeks had gone by until Ray had figured out how. The intrepid, heroic plan that would blow Fraser’s mind was this: He would ask him out.
No, really it was the plan of a genius – legendary genius even. No one ever asked Fraser what he wanted to do so that would work in his favor.
And Fraser didn’t like to be pushed into things, he would still go along but he would feel miserable the whole time. Asking took guts and Fraser admired straightforwardness. It was brilliant.
—A week later—
It was stupid. It was utter misery and total hell. Ray had been d-u-m dumb like there was no tomorrow – needless to say his plan had demonstrated some flaws.
Ray thought it was about timing. So he chose a Friday night for his proposal. He waited till after shift and he even took Fraser for a nice dinner at one of the restaurants he was so fond of where Ray was always sure he was eating slugs or cockroaches or other disgusting things because no one could pronounce the stuff written on the menu – no one but Fraser, that is.
And Fraser always assured him it was quite tasty and healthy when he ordered for them… might still be slugs, though.
And at the end of the dinner – there had even been a damn candle on their table, how could this not have worked? – Ray had looked at Fraser, gently laid his hand on top of his and while Ray had rubbed his thumb softly over the skin of Fraser’s fingers he had looked seriously at him and asked: “Fraser, go out with me… for real?”
And Fraser’s face had lit up with pleasure before he had ducked his head just slightly to compose himself and he had given Ray this small, pleased smile and Ray had thought he was in, he had won when Fraser had replied in that dark, calm voice of his: “You can do better than that, Ray.”
Then Fraser had simply withdrawn his hand, ordered two coffees – at least that’s what Ray thought they were, maybe it was some weird potion with coffee flavor instead – and started on some irrelevant topic.
Ray was hurt. Or he was for awhile anyway. Because Fraser hadn’t said ‘no’ either but it had taken Ray a bit to figure that out. So Ray changed tack. Maybe he needed to work harder.
On Saturday night Ray picked Fraser up to take him to one of those fancy clubs where you had to wear a tux and the drinks cost so much Ray always expected them to come with a three-room apartment and the food cost even more even though you couldn’t even find it on your plate once it arrived – either because you couldn’t distinguish between food and decoration or because it was so tiny that it looked like the morsel a mouse might have left over.
And Ray was dressed nicely and Fraser seemed to appreciate the effort. Ray even asked him to dance and there was a live band and Fraser looked surprised but accepted his hand anyway and it was fun.
Fraser wasn’t even such a bad dancer, he definitely knew the steps and with Ray’s guidance he even managed something like fluidity. He was still far from loose limbed, but Ray only wanted Fraser to enjoy himself and if Fraser’s flushed face and dancing eyes were anything to go by he wasn’t doing too bad a job of it.
Fraser looked slightly amused that Ray was taking him through the ritual of a traditional Saturday night date but Ray could live with a bit of teasing.
So Ray dipped Fraser on the dance floor just for the fun of it and asked again.
“Fraser, go out with me?”
Fraser had smiled at him, his tongue sneaking out to wet his lips. “What would you call this, Ray?”
Ray rolled his eyes. “A date, this would be a date—if you,” he let Fraser up again and spun him around, “had said that this is a date – which you didn’t accept so this is just you keeping me company on a Saturday night.”
“Ah,” Fraser’s smile turned into something shockingly similar to a grin.
“So, will you go on a date with me?”
Fraser looked thoughtful at Ray before he said: “Ray, I do believe that this isn’t your best effort yet.”
It was maddening and then some. What did Fraser mean with ‘best effort’? Better than the crystal ballroom and dancing?
Ray had tried direct, which hadn’t worked, and he had tried seducing, which hadn’t worked a fucking thing better.
On Sunday evening Ray could be found on the steps of the consulate with a bunch of red roses in his arms (Ray never wanted to tell anyone what he had to do to get a nice looking dozen red roses on a Sunday. He had to resort to desperate measures.
Jonny The Lizard Spinelli was clean nowadays, or as clean as most people with a feet long track record ever went. He was one of Ray’s old, old, old snitches from way back before the Vecchio gig and during the daytime Spinelly kept a respectable job at a florist.
Ray hated begging snitches. But at least he got the roses… even though Spinelli had been shaking with laughter the whole time).
Fraser had opened the door and the moment he clapped eyes on Ray and the roses his lips curved into the crooked grin that was one of Ray’s worst weak spots and his eyes had looked all gentle and Ray had leaned over to give them to him and brushed a kiss on his cheek and whispered in his ear: “Would you go on a date with me now?”
Fraser had shaken his head and bitten his lips before he left Ray standing on the steps and vanished inside again.
DAMN MOUNTIE! Ray cursed and kicked the stone step in front of him.
Christ, this shouldn’t be so hard. It was infuriating.
It showed in his mood the next day. They had a new case and Ray really wanted to know when his inbox had turned into a suggestion box for every single odd, freaky, and improbable case in the existence of the 27th police department.
Apparently, someone was breaking into a variety of book shops – from small corner shops to really big department stores – only to steal every single edition of one particular book. The remains of those could be found in heaps of ashes in front of the store.
Of course, this case had the Canadian bookworm with nostalgia for traveling libraries all hot and bothered. Ray wasn’t as enthusiastic about it; there had to be other crime, like, real crime, to take care of instead.
The book that was stolen had the emblematic title “The Symbolic Fire – A guide to your inner light” – Ray carefully refrained from voicing his opinion on this one.
The day was long, longer than long. Talking to some of the bookshop owners – especially from the smaller shops – was like a trip into an alternate universe. Ray wasn’t sure if they were just randomly quoting book passages at him or if they actually thought those would help. Fraser was unequivocally delighted.
Ray just wasn’t so sure if a reference to Frost’s poem “Fire and Ice” would be much help with the solve rate of this case. At least Ray had never heard of anyone solving a case running around randomly flinging “from what I’ve tasted of desire I hold with those that favor fire” at suspects until they cracked.
Though, if it was possible Fraser was probably the right man for it.
Then again, the perp might just confess to spare himself more lines.
They went for pizza at the end of their shift and Ray had to suffer another blow because Tony was out of pineapples. Ray felt pretty confident that his day couldn’t get any worse so he might just as well get Fraser’s rejection behind him for the day.
“Fraser, pleeeease, go on a date with me? I promise I’ll be on my best behavior, you won’t regret it. Just… come on, please?” Ray whined – he had never said he was above begging. Begging had in fact always been his secret weapon with The Stella.
Fraser quirked an eyebrow before his lips softened into a smile. He put his hand on top of Ray’s and took a deep breath.
“Yeah, I know,” Ray sighed annoyed. “I can do better.”
Fraser’s answering smile was blinding. Fuck if Ray knew what ‘better’ was supposed to look like. Maybe this wasn’t worth it?
He sneaked a glance over at Fraser who was thoughtfully chewing on his slice of pizza. A smile pulled at the corners of Ray’s mouth. Fraser was worth it alright. He just had to find the right way to do it.
The next morning found Ray and Fraser tracking down the author of the fire book. If anyone wanted Ray’s opinion – which no one ever wanted to hear but he gave it anyway – the guy was an even bigger whack-job than the one doing the book burning.
It was some namby-pamby esoteric, spiritual guy who looked like he had lived as a hermit the last, oh, couple of hundred years maybe – only washed and in clean clothes but the hair and the beard were certainly fitting. Not to mention the glasses, compared to them Ray’s were fragile, tiny, delicate even.
He let Fraser field this particular interview. Ray simply wanted the guy with the Frost poem back; he had made sense… in a nutty kinda way.
Somewhere in between the “gentle glow of your inner child” and the “burning flame of otherworldly passion” Fraser had apparently managed to make out that someone had been writing hate mail.
Allegedly, the book was responsible for breaking up a marriage between two soul mates, destined to be together forever – apparently they had shortened eternity while Ray was busy elsewhere.
The guy had signed all of his letters in which he threatened to bring the “bright flame of true love” down upon the author with ‘Ashes of a Broken Heart’ – Ray felt nauseated. Bad people and bad prose? Too much for one single working day… let alone every fucking working day.
They spent the remainder of the day going through all the fan mail the author had received since the book had been published, trying to find another letter writer who had maybe written that he hoped the book would save his marriage or that he used it for counseling or something along those lines.
Hours of really brain damaging letters with fancy expressions and spiritual mumbo-jumbo didn’t improve Ray’s mood; he was frustrated.
They didn’t even get through all the stupid letters – and how someone wearing magnifying glass for glasses and writing a book called “Your Inner Light” could even get any fan mail was beyond Ray’s mental capacity.
They trudged back to the GTO – Ray trudged anyway – and when Ray went around to the passenger side to unlock the car for Fraser his frustration was finally breaking through.
“Dammit!” He punched the hood of the car. “Fraser, why won’t you go on a date with me?”
Fraser looked slightly taken aback before he opened his mouth to answer but Ray simply continued talking.
“You do want me, right?” Suddenly he sounded unsure, maybe he had gotten it wrong from the beginning. But Fraser mutely nodded his head.
“Good, that’s… good,” Ray sighed relieved before he flew into another fit of rage. “But I’m not good enough for you, right? I got that! Fuck! I don’t know what you want from me, Fraser! I begged, I did the classic thing, I took the direct route and still… shit! I can’t believe you’re doing this to me!”
Fraser’s eyes had a strange glint when he pulled Ray close to him.
“I won’t settle for anything less than you, Ray.”
And Ray was confused for what else was he offering?
“You got me, Frase. Who do you think you’re holding?” Ray asked bewildered.
Fraser strong hands stroked slowly down Ray’s back.
“I—,” Fraser pushed his head closer against Ray’s so Ray figured he was blushing. Aww, look what he made the Mountie do. And now he made Ray go all mushy… he was a lost cause when it came to Fraser.
“I had ample opportunity to imagine you asking me out and I’m afraid I… well, I have this very concrete idea and, now, I know this isn’t fair to you it’s just that I—“
“You got it, Frase,” Ray sighed before he smiled gently at Fraser. That guy so seldom asked for anything that Ray had even wondered briefly if Fraser ever really wanted something – until he had started to look at Ray that way. Fraser would get his perfect fantasy first date.
“So, tell me. What does your perfect proposal look like, hm?” Ray whispered.
Fraser drew back and frowned at Ray.
“I can’t tell you Ray that would ruin the authenticity.”
Ray gaped at him. Oh for the love of….
“Fine, fine. I’ll figure it out some way.” Ray had no idea what he was supposed to do.
He had still no idea the next morning when Fraser finally managed to find an earlier letter that matched the handwriting and the writing style of their ‘Broken Heart’ guy.
Nathan Samuel had written a letter to the author six months prior to express his deep gratitude because the book would help save his marriage, and his life, and probably even his goldfish while it was at it.
As it went with formal mail the address was all over the place. Funny how people always wanted to get credit for nice things they said and then wanted to remain anonymous when they started to dole out the accusations and the threats.
Ray didn’t complain… too much. At least they had an address and a possible suspect now.
They arrived there after their lunch hour. It was a quaint little two-story building in the outskirts of Chicago and Ray had a nice little rant about the boring conservatism of owning a house in the suburbs with a white picket fence.
Fraser hadn’t understood it but since Fraser was a guy who considered a single cabin in the middle of the snowy tundra civilized that wasn’t exactly a shock to Ray.
They rang the bell and knocked on the door but to no avail. There was no one home. Just when Ray was about to turn around to head back to the car he saw a motorbike approaching.
The guy parked the bike at the curb and lifted his helmet.
When he saw them he sprang from the bike with a worried expression and ran up to them not even bothering to remove the key from the ignition or taking his helmet with him.
Ray wasn’t used to people running towards him when he wanted to question them.
“Is it about Julie? Is she alright? Oh my god, I knew I should’ve made her stay I—“
“Whoa!” Ray interrupted. “Who’s Julie?” Fraser’s damn uniform apparently spelled something like ‘official capacity, lay your burdens on me’.
“My wife she—“ Nathan blanched. “Wait, if Julie’s alright what do you want?”
The moment Ray pulled out his badge the guy took a step back and before Ray could even utter ‘police’ Nathan took off and started sprinting around the house.
Ray and Fraser looked at each other in amazement for a second before Fraser kicked into action and ran after him.
Ray weighed his options. No way was he as fast as Fraser and Nathan obviously wasn’t a smoker considering the speed he had going. Ray looked back to the motorbike.
Oh well… It would be stupid not to make use of it. Just because Stella had made him get rid of his own bike when they married didn’t mean he didn’t still have an itch to drive one.
He ran up to it and pulled the helmet on, he relished the familiar feel of the motor humming to life beneath him when he hit the ignition before taking off. They had a bit of a head start but suburbs were easy to navigate, the streets were all arranged in little squares he only had to drive by and look where they had taken a turn.
The motor howled loudly when Ray kicked into second gear and took the first corner to get to the street running parallel to Nathan’s house. There was no one to be seen so Ray figured this Samuel did hurdle jumping in his free time, too, and was apparently leading Fraser on a merry little chase over the damn garden fences.
Ray accelerated and found them two streets down, Fraser in hot pursuit and Ray couldn’t help admire him for a second. He snapped himself out of it and saw that Nathan was just about to climb the next fence. So Ray hurried to get one street further and arrived the moment Nathan jumped down the fence on the other side of the garden.
The tires squealed when Ray pulled the bike to a standstill with a slide. The moment the bike came to a halt he reached inside his jacket to get out his gun.
He trained it on Nathan whose eyes widened before he turned around only to look directly at Fraser who had climbed over the fence with feline agility. Ray gulped.
Ray pulled of the helmet and mirandarized the guy and Fraser pulled off his lanyard to bind Nathan’s hands together.
Ray pocketed his gun again. Fraser’s eyes were lit up with admiration and… well, from the looks of it Fraser had a bit of a thing for Ray on a motorbike if the turned on smile was any indication.
They brought Nathan back to the station and shoved him into interview #2. Ray cracked his neck before he towered over Nathan Samuel.
“You know that breaking and entering and destruction of personal property is a felony, right? You get, oh, I don’t know, could be a few years for that—“
“I don’t know what you’re talking about!” Nathan sounded hysterical.
“No? Why did you run then?”
“I- I thought it was because of the letters I wrote.”
“What kind of letters?” Fraser inquired in his usual reassuring manner. The perp turned to him as if he was a fucking lifeline, his eyes shining with gratitude.
“You have to believe me I had never meant to harm him, I was just so angry and my wife, Julie, she left me and—“
“Yeah, spare me the pity party. What letters? Do you mean those?” Ray slapped the hate mail onto the table.
They guy’s face crumpled. “I’m so sorry,” he started sobbing. “I swear to God, I never would have hurt him. You’ve got to believe me!”
Ray growled and leaned over the table at him.
“Who burnt the books then, hm? You got nothing to do with that either, right?”
“I—,” he looked pleadingly at Fraser, “I don’t even know what you’re talking about? What books and why should I have burnt them?” He asked confused on the verge of tears.
“The “inner light” book, “symbolic flame” something, ring any bells? You blamed the book for ruining your marriage so you tried to destroy every single one of it!”
“NO!” Nathan yowled. “I didn’t do any such thing!”
“Could you tell us about the situation with your wife Julie Mr. Samuels?”
The guy actually looked glad that someone finally wanted to know. Ray felt a bit of sympathy for him, he’d been there and it wasn’t a pretty place.
“We had…differences,” he swallowed, “she thought I worked too hard and that I didn’t spent enough time with her. So I went to a workshop that used Mr. Gabriel’s book “The Symbolic Fire” to learn about being less goal oriented, less career driven.”
Fraser smiled encouragingly as if he knew exactly what Nathan was talking about, as if he knew everything there was about relaxing and doing something else than his job. Ray sighed silently, yeah, right.
“At first it worked wonders,” Mr. Samuels smiled happily. “I focused more on my relationship with Julie, worked less hours, didn’t go in on the weekends and— she was happy, you know?” Nathan said, willing them to believe him.
“What happened then, Mr. Samuel?” God, Ray loved Fraser’s quiet baritone.
Mr. Samuel cradled his head in his hands.
“I lost the edge at my job… I couldn’t see the point of it any longer, working without any purpose just to earn money as if that was the most important thing in the world… like a stupid robot. It’s soulless, do you understand?”
Fraser smiled again, he had this connecting with the suspect down pat, Ray didn’t get how he could look so sincere when Ray knew perfectly well that his job was one of the most important things in Fraser’s life… but Fraser was really good with other people’s emotions, he probably found something to relate to in every pathetic story someone told him.
“At some point they… they had to fire me. I didn’t bring in any new clients, I wasn’t as zealous and driven as the other employees and I started to lose clients.
I spent more and more time at home and it was driving Julie crazy… not that I was more at home but that I seemed to have lost all purpose,” he sighed deeply.
“She had always admired my ambition. She always wanted a man who knew what he wanted from life and how to work for it.”
“And that was why she left you?” Fraser asked, gentling his tone to a sympathetic murmur.
“Heh… not as simple as that, but yes. We fought… a lot. She said it was the fault of this book that I had turned into an ‘esoteric freak’, was what she called it, and that it was best if I had never found out about this workshop.
She was really mad about it, completely beyond herself. I never saw her so furious,” he shook his head with a fond smile on his face.
The poor dimwit was really infatuated with his wife.
“Do you know where we could find your wife?” Fraser asked.
“She… she doesn’t live at home anymore. She left two days ago. I-I imagine you could find her at her workplace. She works at this graphic design company near Wrigley’s field. Why, is she in trouble?”
“She might be. We’ll have to talk to her,” Fraser explained.
So they went to ‘InnerEye Design Concepts’, a modern glass and steel building and asked for Mrs. Samuels at the reception desk.
They were given the address of a construction site where Julie was meeting a client to go over the advertisement campaign for the soon-to-be office complex.
When they arrived Julie was just saying goodbye to a graying man in an awfully expensive suit in front of the trailer of the construction company.
They waited until the man had left before they approached her.
“Mrs. Samuels?” Fraser inquired. She looked up with a haunted expression on her face.
“This is my partner detective Vecchio from the 27th police department and I am Constable Benton Fraser, I first came to Chicago—“
“You’re from the police?” She asked with a hysteric touch to her voice.
“Ma’am-“ Ray started to say but she had already taken off in the other direction. Shit. Apparently Ray had another slogan written on his cheeks or something, perhaps only visible to perps that said “If you can read this: run like hell”.
How was it even possible that every damn person Ray had to catch was a hobby athlete? The woman was wearing ballet flats for God’s sake!
Fraser took after her again and Ray surveyed the scene and came to the shocking realization that she was running towards the ditch for the foundation, there was no way she could get down there safely – not from this side.
Damn! He cursed. Ray ran to the left side and hoped like hell that he could make it to the small pathway that led down into the pit before Julie made it to the edge… not bloody likely but maybe Fraser could stall her before she tumbled down.
He was out of breath and he felt stinging in his side when he hurtled down the dirt track. He could already see her head approaching the edge and Ray tried to forego breathing in favor of another burst of speed – God, he would never reach fifty at this rate.
“FRASER!” he shouted when he saw that Julie made no move to stop. He wasn’t close enough yet.
Julie seemed to realize that there was no path down there except for jumping but even though she tried to stop herself at the last moment the momentum she had made her stumble and lose her balance.
Fraser flung himself at the edge and reached her hand at the last moment. He had her dangling over the edge, a determined expression on his face.
“Mrs. Samuels, I assure you we will find a solution for this.”
“Don’t let me fall!” She shrieked. “I confess to everything just don’t let me fall.”
“I’m not going to let you fall.” Fraser assured her and the next instant Ray had reached them.
“Just a second longer, Fraser!” Ray shouted up. He looked around and saw a stack of cement bags, two of those together might work.
He shoved at one of the heavy bags until he had it roughly underneath Mrs. Samuels dangling form. He pulled at another one and managed to arrange it more or less on top of the other.
Ray wiped away the sweat from his face, leaving a streak of grey powder on his cheekbone.
He climbed on top of the bags and managed to reach Mrs. Samuels ankles. Fraser gritted his teeth and lowered her a little more and then he let go, Ray caught her around the waist and stumbled down the makeshift ladder with her.
“Jesus, lady you gave me a fucking heart attack.”
Fraser smiled over his whole face.
“Good work, Ray.”
“Thanks,” Ray answered with an exhausted grin, tousling his hair and leaving another cement-colored streak on his forehead.
Fraser tried hard not to grin at the endearing sight.
They took Julie Samuels back to the precinct where she gave a full confession to the book burning. There was the damage of property and the break-in to consider but since she confessed and her husband was going to testify on her behalf Ray hoped that she would get off lightly on reasons of…. oh, emotional instability or whatever. He didn’t care much; the way he saw it the fewer of those books existed the better for Ray’s sanity.
At least husband and wife were joined in relief of having lived through this particular episode. Ray didn’t begrudge them their reunion… they would make each others lives miserable again soon enough. Nah, he didn’t even believe that, not really. Some people needed to see the worst side of their loved one before knowing what they had in them.
Fraser… Fraser was wired the other way round. You had to give everything you got and really prove that you could be the best version of yourself in order to turn his crank and— that was it!
Ray was dirty and exhausted and he knew that he must smell of sweat and that he could probably really do with a shower. He had a motorcycle race and a foot chase – from which his lung was still trying to recover – to show for the day and for everyone else this was probably the least likely moment they would say ‘yes’ to a date. But Fraser wasn’t everyone else.
The exited the station together and once they were at the car Ray pressed Fraser against the door of the GTO and leaned closer.
“Fraser,” he said seriously, looking straight into the bright blue eyes, “would you go out with me on a real date?”
And Fraser’s eyes lit up with the power of his smile. He took in Ray’s disheveled state, the grime streaks on his face and the exuberant smile from solving another case and nodded.
“Yes, Ray. I would be honored.”
Ray couldn’t resist doing a little happy dance. Fraser smiled indulgently. Ray faced him again.
“You know,” Ray said conversationally. “I hope you do more than kissing on the first date. ‘Cause if this is what it takes just to get a date with you I am not sure that I would survive long enough to get through the effort it would take to get you into my bedroom at a later point.”
Fraser laughed gently. “I do think you deserve a reward, Ray… Are you free tonight?” Fraser asked softly, biting his lip.
“I’m all over that.” Ray grinned before reluctantly stepping away to unlock the car.
He should have known right from the start that Fraser would accept nothing less than all Ray had to give. It had always been all or none with Fraser… and in all honesty, Ray wouldn’t have it any other way.
It might be harder to be the best ‘you’ you could possibly be but it was a hell of a lot better than not trying at all.