Part 4: Revenge is a dish best served with a guilty conscience to enhance the flavor
Rage flared in Ray bright as a beacon. If he was right – and it looked like he was because he had almost never read Fraser wrong when it came to guilt – then God help him.
Better yet, God could help Fraser. He would need any help he could get. Wasn’t that Ray hadn’t been lusting after the guy for months and months, wasn’t that he wouldn’t jump at the chance to finally get a hands on demonstration of what exactly that tongue could tell about him just by licking – that was all his wishes come true and then some.
But Fraser laughing at him? Fraser making fun of him? For weeks on end? That definitely hadn’t been one of his three wishes.
Ray took a shaking breath and turned to face Fraser head-on. The careful mask on his face enraged Ray even further. Bit late to play the saint now.
“Unless you’d like to undress, Ray.”
Bits and pieces from the last weeks began to come back to him.
“Masturbation is the most commonly used relaxant”
Relaxant… oh for crying out loud…
Tension took hold of him like a vice. He could feel his muscles clench in anticipation.
“…you feel sated all the way to your bones, with sweat still pouring from your skin…”
He could feel the anger vibrating all the way to the tips of his air – and judging from the way Fraser looked at him he could see it, too.
“…how good it feels to be completely spent, when your muscles unclench from sheer exhaustion…”
Ray clenched his teeth tightly together to keep from snarling.
“Ray, what would you say to an ice cream?”
He tried to control it, he really did but there was no stopping this – not now, not after everything he had endured those last weeks.
“Are you fucking with me? ‘Cause I swear to God Fraser, do not fuck with me!”His voice was harsh and the words stung even as they left his lips.
Fraser’s eyebrows climbed up into his hairline and the color started to drain from his face.
“No—I—Ray, I didn’t-I,” Fraser looked shocked but his voice was saturated with conviction. Okay, Ray could work with that, so Fraser wasn’t just yanking his chain here.
Ray came another step closer, his whole body jittery with contained emotions.
“You figured it out, didn’t you? You figured me out?” He flung it at Fraser, it wasn’t a compliment.
Fraser sat rooted to the spot on the couch. He rubbed his thumb over his eyebrow.
“Ah, Ray—what do you—“
“Don’t you DARE!” Ray threatened. “Don’t you dare or I swear I’ll pop you in the head if you pull the oblivious Mountie shit! You know damn well what I’m talking about!” Ray’s teeth were bared, his whole body taut with tension. Fraser could almost see it radiating from him.
He could sympathize with the suspects that Ray interrogated. He was dangerously intimidating in his rage – and this time it wasn’t a posture.
Yet Fraser couldn’t help but admire the strength, the passion, the sheer life in his every move – his whole appearance was radiant. He was the most sublime thing Fraser had ever seen.
That must have been the way Icarus felt when he finally reached the sun; right before he fell.
“Do you think it’s funny? Huh? Is this your idea of a joke? Because it’s one hell of a sick joke I tell ya!” Ray advanced closer, a dark expression on his face. His hands were balled to fists at his side.
“’Cause I ain’t laughing Fraser! Dammit!” Ray pulled at his hair in frustration and started pacing.
“It’s not enough for you that half the population of Chicago is at your feet? You need me down there with the rest of them, too, that it?”
“NO!” Fraser finally managed to interrupt.
Ray threw him a bitter glance and pointed with two fingers at him.
“No? Well it sure as hell feels like it. Did it amuse you? Watching me make a fool of myself over you?” He changed direction again with whip-like speed.
Fraser jumped up from the couch. “Ray, I didn’t do this to make fun of you. I-I’m sorry—“
“Damn right you are! Don’t tell me you didn’t know what you were doing, do not tell me that Fraser. ‘Cause no one’s that innocent, not even you—“
“I never said I was.” Fraser interrupted with more bitterness than he had intended for wasn’t that the whole starting point of this fight – his desire to prove exactly that?
“Greatness!” Ray threw his arms in the air and started pacing in the other direction again. “So you actually did it on purpose!” He barked out something that sounded like a painful version of a chuckle. “Lucky me to have a friend like you—”
Fraser’s head reared back as if he had been slapped.
“Ray—I never meant to hurt you with my behavior I was just—I was—“ And didn’t it sound foolish now to tell Ray that all he had been trying to prove was that he wasn’t as innocent as everyone else believed? What did that make him? – Childish, shallow, belittling.
He had used Ray. It didn’t matter that he had real feelings for him or that the intention behind his actions had been the same attraction Ray had tried so hard to hide.
Because in a way he had betrayed his trust, hadn’t he? This had been Ray’s utmost secret, carefully guarded and protected and for that Fraser’s teasing had cut much deeper than he had ever thought it could. He hadn’t shown the least inkling of respect for the depth of Ray’s feelings.
Instead he had been playing some kind of game, had turned it into a challenge for Ray’s control. It was unforgivable. Ray had every right to hate him.
He himself should have been the first person to understand the dangerous nature of emotions that ran so deep that they tore you apart inside, he – more than anyone else – should have respected them. He should’ve offered Ray the truth – which was nothing less than he deserved.
“YOU WHAT?” Ray shouted in frustration.
“I’m sorry, Ray.” His voice came out in a whisper. The last of the warmth left his cheeks. “I’m so sorry… I never intended to make a joke out of this, I wouldn’t—“
Ray crossed his arms in front of his body before almost immediately releasing them again in his agitation.
“It was all real Ray; I can at least assure you that. I didn’t try to fool you, I—I’m terribly sorry.”
Fraser sounded so earnest it bordered on desperation. Ray took a deep breath – yeah, he figured Fraser wouldn’t have been that good a liar. Still, no way was Fraser getting out of this so easily.
Ray had nursed this crush for months and he had worked so hard to keep it separate from their partnership, their friendship, their—everything!
And Fraser had the cheek to tease him about it, fooling him with his stupid innocence-act until he was questioning his own sanity. Friends didn’t do that.
“You should go, Fraser. Just—go,” Ray let out his breath on a shaky sigh.
Fraser stared wide eyed at him and it felt like a punch to the gut. Ray remembered that look – only they weren’t standing at a lakefront this time.
But he couldn’t—he just needed some time with this.
Fraser closed his eyes, a bitter twist around his mouth and it felt like physical pain to see him like that. But he had to—he wasn’t Fraser’s whipping boy and maybe Fraser needed to realize that he couldn’t just pull him along on a string like he wanted whenever he felt like it.
“I’m so sorry,” Fraser whispered and Ray softened a little. He got that. Didn’t need to be a detective for that – that much was plain for everyone to see.
“I know.” Ray tiredly ran a hand through his hair. “I need a bit time, ‘s all.”
Fraser nodded even though it looked like it hurt. Ray stood still in the middle of the room when the door of his apartment closed behind Fraser.
Ray took another shaky breath. He needed a drink.
He nursed his Scotch only to realize again that drinking didn’t help shit. Well, at least he had calmed down some. He groaned, slumped down in front of his couch on the rug and put his head in his hands.
Fraser was probably hurting like hell – as he bloody well should, some vindictive part of him whispered fiercely.
Without the rage coursing through him though it was much harder to be angry at Fraser over this. God… how long had he wanted Fraser to take an interest in him in that way?
And when he finally did Ray had to explode like a land mine – you came too close and ‘blam’, that’s all she wrote, stick it in a box marked ‘dumb’.
“Fuck,” he cursed succinctly. And yet… there was a small part of him that still felt Fraser deserved a bit of punishment for teasing him to the brink of insanity – and beyond.
It was probably the same part of him that gloated over besting Dief – not the most noble or rational part of him but undeniably there.
Ray sighed and took another mouthful of Scotch. The liquid burnt down his throat, leaving a warm feeling on his tongue.
Okay, he could forgive Fraser. If he stayed mad at him every time he had cause to he’d never talk to the man at all.
Didn’t mean that Fraser didn’t deserve some payback – two could play this game after all. And besides, Fraser really had it coming.
Ray waited two days before he called Fraser. The moment he did Fraser didn’t even let the telephone finish its first ring.
“Hey Fraser,” Fraser went almost weak with relief.
“Hello Ray, I—“
“Can we just not talking about it? Okay?”
“I-certainly Ray,” Fraser didn’t sound happy. Ray could almost hear him rubbing at his eyebrow.
“Good,” Ray sighed with relief. “That’s good. So… you wanna come to the station later? Liaise a bit?”
Fraser felt instantly better.
“I’d like that very much.” They still needed to talk. Fraser had thought long and hard about his behavior – which had caused him an almost painful constant flush for the last two days, it was really inexcusable – but maybe he could explain himself to Ray, convince him of his honest intentions and—
“Okay, see ya later buddy.” And the line went dead.
Fraser was almost humming with nervousness when he entered the bullpen a few hours later.
His nervousness took a sudden detour into something very much like spontaneous heart failure when he caught sight of Ray. Ray was bent over his desk, pouring over case notes in a button down shirt that all but clung to his lean body.
Fraser had seen the shirt in Ray’s closet, it was one of the shirts Ray had described as ‘very fetching on an employee of a bank’ – albeit in a slightly more colorful way.
From looking at him Fraser wouldn’t exactly suggest that it should be worn in a bank. It was too distracting on Ray to be worn in any enclosed space the way it molded itself to Ray’s torso.
The material stretched tight over his shoulders with every move Ray made, the sleeves had been rolled up slightly uneven – giving it a casual appearance that belied its formalness, the muscles in Ray’s forearm flexed underneath the exposed skin and Fraser was lost.
Was this heaven or hell? Had it only been two days since he had last seen Ray? Maybe the time of separation had made him more receptive to Ray’s charm?
Ray looked up, a guarded expression on his face and Fraser tried to calm his nerves. He had to remember how badly things had ended; this wasn’t the best of times to remind Ray of the fact.
“Save it.” Ray’s voice brooked no argument. “We’re good – alright? Apart from that? I don’t wanna hear it.”
“Ah,” Fraser pulled at his collar. This wasn’t at all what he wanted. “As you wish.” But he could respect Ray’s boundaries. He would show him that he could.
Best of intentions only got you so far, though. Resistance was at least the farthest from Fraser’s mind when Ray stood up two hours later to get a coffee and – stretched – pulling his arms over his head, a position that made him look almost vulnerable, until Fraser caught sight of the exposed glimpse of flesh of Ray’s taut stomach where the shirt had ridden up.
What that little sliver of revealed skin could do to one’s self-control was remarkable. Fraser was so close to reaching out to touch it when he realized that Ray was staring at him with an unreadable look on his face.
Fraser cleared his throat and busied his hands with the stapler – there had to be some report to staple, something, anything at all.
“Hey Ray, did you shrink your shirts in the wash or didn’t they sell anything in your size?” Dewey grinned at Ray on his way to his desk.
Ray grinned back with an unfriendly smile, “At least I didn’t dress in the dark – or did your mother never tell you that orange and purple don’t mix?”
Dewey took his tie in his fingers and fiddled with it for a moment with a confused look on his face. “What’s wrong with my tie?”
“Oh nothing if you’re—“
“Save it you two, come on Tom.” Huey pulled his partner along towards the exit. Ray shook his head in disgust and went to the break room for a coffee.
Fraser used the short reprieve of Ray’s absence to thoroughly scold himself. What kind of self-control was that supposed to be?
He wasn’t supposed to focus on Ray that way and just because he had spent the last few weeks focusing on not much else gave him no excuse to be fixated on Ray in such a way now.
After this moment of initial weakness Fraser was rather proud of his restraint. It just didn’t last very long. Good things almost never did.
The next day proved the golden rule that trying not to think about something will only lead to pondering exactly said forbidden subject. It was inevitable, the harder one tried to resist something the more compelling the urge became.
Fraser arrived at the station at the appointed time only to realize that Ray was nowhere to be found. Upon investigation it turned out that Ray had left a message with Francesca that he could be found at the gym.
The trip wasn’t a long one and Dief could certainly use the exercise which was the reason that found Fraser in front of Ray’s gym half an hour later. He entered the hall that was alive with the hustle and bustle of countless other men even though it was long past lunch time.
He found Ray at one of the heavy bags. The smell hit him before he could open his mouth to greet Ray. His nostrils flared and his heart rate accelerated almost painfully.
Fraser took another deep breath – it was a compulsion, rational thought had nothing to do with it. The smell of clean sweat, warm skin and talcum powder mixed with Ray’s hair styling products and a soft residue from cinnamon gum filled his lungs and left him weak in the knees.
Desire coiled at the base of his spine and he had to forcefully suppress the urge to grab Ray. He could see every bead of sweat glistening on Ray’s body in stark relief as if someone had put a magnifying glass over it.
Dief made a sound very much like a snort and Fraser tried to snap out of his reverie.
“Oh, hey Fraser,” Ray looked up at him but didn’t pause his circling around the heavy bag. Fluid movement enabled Ray to dance away every time the bag swung back toward him.
“I’m sorry” he panted, “for the-” the sentence was interrupted by a grunt from Ray as his fist connected with the bag, “delay.”
“Think nothing of it.” Fraser’s mouth supplied helpfully completely on autopilot. Yes, it was true. The harder you tried not to look the more tempting it proved to be.
The musky scent of Ray’s exertions alone was enough to bring the heat to his cheeks but coupled with Ray’s heavy breathing and the groans he was producing it was really more than Fraser could endure with a clear conscience.
“I, ah, will you be much longer? I don’t want to rush you but I—“ Fraser floundered for a moment looking for an inspiration, “I am not wearing gym shoes, I’m afraid. It’s against the regulations.”
“Huh?” Ray looked confused at Fraser’s feet. “Oh, alright. I’ll go grab a shower. I was finished anyway.” He shot Fraser a quick grin before he shadow boxed his way to the changing rooms.
Fraser sighed with relief. This should make staying on topic perceptibly easier.
– or not – Fraser had to concede when Ray returned freshly showered, threw an arm around his shoulders and pulled him toward the GTO.
The scent of Ray’s soap, the clean, fresh fragrance and the additional image of Ray standing under the spray, soaking up the water, with hands gliding over his body wasn’t exactly an improvement of his earlier situation.
“Hey, you wanna get something to eat? I could really use some food.”
Fraser could only nod his assent. “Yes, food sounds good.”
Even though he would have just as readily agreed to anything else at the moment.
Ray bit the inside of his cheek to keep from laughing and started to prattle on about their dinner choices. Finger food sounded like a pretty good idea to him.
No, being a cocktease like that really wasn’t something a friend did. But wasn’t it your duty to walk a mile in the shoes of your friend to know how they felt? Ray was just glad to be of service.
And it wasn’t as if he wasn’t prepared to make up for it. Later. Much later.