Part 2: Sometimes you just have to leap
Fraser wasn’t aware how difficult it could be to concentrate on someone eating Thai food, or at least none of his previous experiences had prepared him for it.
Ray was talking animatedly over food about their day and even though Fraser was not capable to process one word he said he seemed to register every other minute detail about him.
His beautiful, strong hands that were waving a pair of chopsticks wildly around and the way his eyes lit up when he encountered a small shrimp in his food, the hard line of his jaw and the well worn cotton of his t-shirt.
And this amazing, beautiful man was in love with him. Love, however, had never been Benton Fraser’s forte – not for lack of trying, maybe for lack of practice.
It was safer not to go there. So this was his first reaction: denial; to ignore the issue was to make it vanish. Yet there was a small sliver of hope that gleamed with warmth at the thought of Ray. Maybe this time… maybe…
“Fraser, you with me here or am I talking to the turtle?” Ray muttered annoyed at Fraser’s lack of response.
“I’m terribly sorry, Ray. I was woolgathering here.” Ray’s eyes turned soft and he shook his head. “You should really get out of the consulate. Find yourself an apartment; you look as if you could sleep on your feet.”
He had indeed not been sleeping well but it wouldn’t do to let Ray know that he was the cause of his sleep deprived state.
Fraser watched a small smile appear on Ray’s lips and thought, really, what was there to be afraid of?
Fraser trusted Ray implicitly. There was no need for fear. And yet, it wasn’t Ray that he could not trust but his own feelings.
The next morning when Fraser arrived at the station he was greeted with a bright grin from Ray. Fraser’s breathing hitched in his throat.
He must have seen that smile a hundred times or more and while he had never taken it for granted he had never been so enthralled by it before.
“Hey, Frase, you up for a little snooping around? According to David Sparks he’s only been in that alley cuz of an appointment with Adams around the corner. Yeah, right, way I see it he’s lying through his teeth. We’re still a gun short, though.”
“Excellent idea, Ray.”
They went back to the alley where Mr. Adams had been found. The sun was catching Ray’s hair and Fraser was again momentarily mesmerized by his partner until Ray looked at him funny.
“What? Something wrong with my face?” Ray asked confused and started to wipe at his cheeks in case there were traces of sauce or dirt that he had missed.
“Ah, no. It’s not important right now. What is important, however, is that we find evidence that Mr. Sparks had been in that alley during the murder.”
Fraser reprimanded himself inwardly. It was unacceptable that he lost concentration while he was on duty.
Still, even with the best of intentions, he could not help but notice Ray. The slight frown when he found a couple of cigarette butts on the ground at the other end of the alley drew Fraser’s attention as much as the way Ray smelled when he stepped close enough to lick the remains of the cigarettes.
He felt the intensity of Ray’s presence next to him in the GTO and when he looked close enough he could already see the beginning of blonde stubble on Ray’s jaw which earned him a worried glance from Ray.
It seemed beyond his control. Now that he had allowed himself to look he was unable to stop. Fraser wanted to catalogue every smile, every look and not miss out on any details.
Ray was starting to get jumpy under Fraser’s close scrutiny but he hadn’t said anything so far. Fraser presumed that Ray put his behavior right down next to his usual ‘freakishness’.
That night when Fraser was back alone at the consulate he had finally time to bring his thoughts into some semblance of order.
Ray’s very nature was addictive. And he found now that he was alone that he would have liked to enjoy his company a while longer. Fraser had always savored his time with Ray; he had simply never dared to look closer.
Fraser lay down on his cot and started to drift off to sleep with the thought that Ray was not the only one with deeper feelings for his partner.
The next morning found Fraser in not nearly as emotional a mood as the last evening. While he wrote himself a reprimand for his misconduct during their search of the alley yesterday – ‘loss of focus due to absolutely irrelevant observations not even remotely related to duty’ – he berated himself again and again.
Honestly, he admonished himself, what had he been thinking? That Ray and he could just take a dogsled and ride into the sunrise together?
“This is ridiculous,” he said and Dief looked up skeptically. “This is an awful idea.”
Dief gave a questioning yip.
“No, I understand that you would like to make Ray part of the pack. But I am afraid things aren’t as simple as that.”
The wolf growled quietly and Fraser sighed.
“I do trust Ray, this is not the point. The point is that not even Ray can guarantee how this would work out. There is our partnership to consider and, I have you know that this has nothing to do with cowardice—“
Diefenbaker started barking loudly.
“It is not.” Fraser said indignantly. “It is only sensible. Love makes you lose your perspective and your common sense. How do you suppose we work together when I spend all my time, ah, o-ogling his backside.”
The sound that the half-wolf made could only be interpreted as laughter and Fraser had to swallow the harsh reply that came so willingly to him.
“It’s different for wolves.” He said a little miffed. “Besides, Ray seems to think along the same lines.”
Dief made a yowl that made it unmistakably clear that he found this assessment rather dubious.
“No, listen to me. I thought about this and it is perfectly obvious that Ray does not want me to know about his, well“, he fumbled for moment, “ah, feelings, for me. He has given me no indication that he would like things to change between us. It is therefore absolutely unnecessary to entertain any notion about a romantic relationship when a professional partnership – and a much cherished friendship – is so much more rewarding.”
Dief yawned. He had heard it all before. Humans were stubbornly ignorant when it came to mating.
And Fraser really felt better after this resolution had formed itself. Of course he could still appreciate Ray’s agile figure and it was only natural to notice the deep blue of his eyes and the way you could see small flecks of green in it when caught in the light.
He could take Ray’s smile and burn it to the back of his eyelids so that he could go back to visit it when he was alone at the consulate in the evenings as long as this didn’t distract him from his job.
So they worked well together and Fraser stubbornly ignored the whispered rumors that were still keeping Ray’s colleagues entertained.
They managed to match the cigarette butts from the alley to the ones that their suspect, Mr. Parks, smoked; which meant that they were able to get a warrant to search his apartment.
And when his heart stuttered at the blinding smile that Ray threw him when they found a gun that matched the description by Fabio Brody then that didn’t mean anything more than that he had to wait a second longer for his breathing to return to normal.
The lab even found fingerprints of Marcel Adams on the gun that belonged to Mr. Parks. Everything was fine. Fraser was certainly fine even though he had to endure even more attitude from Diefenbaker than usual.
And Ray seemed to be doing fine, too, he wasn’t saying anything to the contrary and Fraser convinced himself that this was what Ray wanted, too.
But this belief, his whole construct of thoughts, was built like a house of cards. And it was sooner rather than later that it all came down again.
A few days after the discovery of the gun Fraser came to the station only to find Ray with one hand bandaged standing at his desk in the bullpen.
He couldn’t stop his eyebrows from shooting up. Fraser could not remember Ray having an injury the evening before and he could see no reason what might have provoked him in the few hours of the morning.
“Ray, what—“ Fraser started as soon as he was close enough not to shout.
“Save it, Fraser. It’s nothing, just me being dumb.”
“Your hand is bandaged, I do not see how this constitutes as ‘nothing’, Ray.”
“I just lost my temper.” He shrugged. “Took a few painkillers, nothing’s broken. Don’t worry; it will be fine in a day or two.”
Fraser couldn’t get a better explanation from Ray and no other offered itself to him voluntarily.
Until he stepped into the restroom to wash the rest of his lunch from his fingers where two men from the cleaning staff were talking to each other while scrubbing the sinks.
“People just don’t believe what we get to see around here.” A big man with a bushy beard was saying. His colleague, a lanky guy with long hair tied into a ponytail, nodded.
Fraser went to one of the sinks that was already clean and started washing his hands.
“Just this morning I had to clean plaster away in one of the interrogation rooms because the blonde cop, you know the Italian, — did you ever wonder how you can be a blonde Italian? – anyway, he had smashed his fist straight into the wall.” The lanky man laughed loudly.
“No kidding? What did he do that for?” The man with the beard inquired.
“I have no idea. There was no suspect in there or anything. I had seen him shortly before on the phone and next thing I know I get ordered to clean up the mess he made.”
“Freaks, all of them. It’s the stress of the job. He’s probably one of those just a few inches short of a mental breakdown.”
Unwillingly Fraser remembered how he had called Ray this morning to tell him that he would not be able to catch the game with him tonight.
It was true they had spent less time with each other those last few days. But this was only because he had thought that Ray probably didn’t need the constant reminder of what he could not have around.
None of this had to be the reason for Ray’s injury. But it might Fraser’s mind supplied.
All his reasoning and all his sensible intentions weren’t worth a tinker’s cuss if it didn’t help Ray. When he had started to investigate the rumors he had heard Fraser had vowed that he would not allow Ray to suffer on his behalf.
And now Ray had the scars to prove what loving Benton Fraser meant. He flinched at his own thoughts but he clearly deserved nothing better.
This wasn’t about him. It was about Ray and Ray had never been satisfied with half-truths or polite demeanor, he had always shouted, threatened… and even hit him… in order to get to Fraser; to him, down, underneath all his Mountie training and his aloofness and his polite small talk.
Ray had come straight at him with open arms and enveloped him in a hug the moment Fraser met him.
How could he have thought that Ray could live with anything less than everything Fraser had to give?
When Fraser emerged from the restroom Ray was already waiting for him in the hallway.
“Welsh said I should go home. Give that hand a bit rest.” Ray shuffled, slightly embarrassed.
“I’d say this is good advice.”
“Hm… wanna get a lift?”
“Thank you that would be appreciated.”
Ray grinned at him and shook his head. “You’re a freak. Let’s hit the road then.”
Since he didn’t have any duties for the afternoon because of his role as liaison he took Diefenbaker to the park instead.
Diefenbaker was happy enough but there was a young couple down at the fountain which caused Fraser to concentrate on his breathing to keep from getting overwhelmed by his own emotions.
“Calm breaths,” he mumbled. Whenever you couldn’t be sure what the best course of action was, to imagine the worst and best possible outcome wasn’t a bad idea.
What was the worst thing that could happen? His heart ached instantly. Ray leaving him, this would be the worst thing that could happen. But it was more than a simple equation of loss. Chicago wouldn’t be bearable without Ray.
If things didn’t work out – his lips curled in a sardonic smile – when things didn’t work out Ray would take a transfer and leave him. They would be closer to destroying their duet by trying to gain more than ever before.
Fraser took a deep breath and watched Diefenbaker barking at a few ducks that were regular visitors at the fountain.
Giving in was out of the question then. This was a kind of loss that Fraser wasn’t prepared to risk willingly. Knowing that it would be his fault if Ray left him afterwards would be more than he could endure.
But there was only one alternative, going on as before, as partners, as friends. The image of Ray’s injured hand came unbidden to his mind and he winced.
What would happen when the longing became too much for Ray?
When it hurt more to see Fraser than not being able to see him at all?
Ray would leave. Fraser put his head in his hands and laughed quietly at the bitter irony of his situation.
Ray would leave and he would not even make him feel bad about it. Fraser, in all probability, would never hear the true reason for Ray’s absence. And it would be Fraser’s own fault for not even trying to keep him.
And they could write letters and maybe a postcard for Christmas and perhaps they would call each other for their birthdays and exchange meaningless small talk in which they assured each other that they were all right.
This scenario was even worse. Ray would do that to protect Fraser. He shook his head; nothing could have protected him from Ray’s fierce personality.
But Ray would leave to spare Fraser the embarrassment of turning his love down. He would try to save him from the real loss of his best friend – even though the friendship could only be maintained over a safe distance afterwards.
It was wrong. Ray was fearless where Fraser was not and Fraser could not possibly live with the knowledge that Ray went on suffering because of him; because he wasn’t courageous enough to reach for his heart’s desire.
Dief came back to nudge at his hand.
“Thank you, my friend.” He was silent for a few minutes, scratching the wolf’s ears absentmindedly.
“What if I ruin it all? What if I lose what has been dear to me beyond anything else I have known so far?”
Dief whined softly.
“You cannot know that. We almost gave up on our partnership once; there is no reason to believe that love would not jeopardize our friendship in an even more precarious manner.”
The walk back to the consulate wasn’t nearly as long as Fraser would have liked. But at least Diefenbaker seemed to be proud of him if the way he held his head and tail was anything to go by.
The next day was thankfully a busy one. David Parks was still refusing to talk and the fingerprints on the gun were not enough evidence to incriminate him in the crime.
But Ray had a hunch and Fraser had to agree, from a logical point of view, that Mr. Parks must have had a reason to obtain the gun from the alley – and for lending it to Mr. Adams in the first place.
“What’s in it for him?” Ray had asked but the answer came instantly to both of them: “Money.”
So they had to check bank accounts and transactions and they had to obtain a full explanation from Mr. Brody where the money he had taken had come from exactly and what he had done with it and how much he had paid Mr. Adams and so on.
It was a long day. Fraser loved every second of it. Not being able to think for lack of time was a blessing in this particular instance.
Till the end of their shift they had managed to prove that Mr. Parks had accepted money from Mr. Adams and that Marcel Adams had been bribed to secrecy by Fabio Brody.
This was finally enough evidence that even Mr. Parks broke down and confessed that he had indeed conspired with Mr. Adams and that the gun had been his idea in order to get more money from Fabio Brody.
Now all they had to do was wait and see if the attorney’s office accepted their plea for self-defense on Mr. Brody’s part.
Ray was ecstatic and Fraser couldn’t stop looking at him, flushed and excited, with rumpled clothes from the hard day they’ve had and shining eyes.
But then Ray’s eyes took on a sober look as if he had just remembered that they had not been spending all that much free time together lately and that Fraser had behaved carefully professional.
His shoulder’s sagged a little and Fraser’s heart ached at the defeated sight.
Fraser started to say, “Would you like to—“ at the same time that Ray tried to say “You want a lift or—“ and the tension seemed to leave Ray.
He laughed and waved at Fraser to go on. “Go, ahead. Whatchamacallit? That courtesy thing you’re all over.”
Fraser smiled a small smile.
“Ray, would you, ah, like to go and get something to eat with me?” And he knew that he sounded hopeful but it didn’t matter for Ray’s shy smile was blinding when he replied, “Great idea buddy. Let’s celebrate.”
Later, when Fraser was back at the consulate he remembered that this had been the same thing he had said to Ray on the end of that first day when they had met.
Maybe this wasn’t such a bad thing.
He felt a warm glow when he thought of Ray and his animated talk tonight. The way his eyes had lighted up when he recounted their break on the Brody case and the soft curve of his smile were vividly etched into Fraser’s memory.
Diefenbaker strolled into the room to get comfortable in front of Fraser’s desk. He gave a few short barks and Fraser turned to him in exasperation.
“I assure you I am well aware what a relationship with Ray would entail,” he snapped at the not so deaf half-wolf.
Diefenbaker gave a snort and gave Fraser a rather graphic display of what he was talking about.
Fraser flushed and stared in shock at his lupine companion.
“I… well, that is… yes, I… ah,” he rubbed his thumb over his eyebrow. “I am well aware that the, ah… mechanics… are a bit different with a man, but—“
He was interrupted by another bout of wolfish amusement.
It wasn’t that he had been ignorant of the fact that sexual intercourse with a man was different from performing it with a woman.
Fraser simply had not thought of Ray and any kind of sexual context until this point. Loving Ray was never a question of ability but he had never entertained thoughts of sleeping with another male.
Human sexuality was flexible and Fraser had always considered intercourse a form of affection between two people rather than an expression of lust towards a specific gender.
His sexual experiences had been far and slim to begin with and there had been nothing that could have prepared him with the knowledge of how his body would react to that of another man.
He was sure that anything short of the whole bargain would not be enough for Ray. Fraser didn’t believe for even a second that Ray could be satisfied with a purely non-physical relationship.
How was he to gain the needed knowledge? What were the options to prove to himself that it wasn’t just his mind that felt drawn to Ray but his body, too?
Dief produced another number of sounds that startled Fraser out of his musings again.
“Humans are not as direct in this matter as wolves are. I assure you that a direct approach to the matter would not be received well.” Fraser declared, slightly embarrassed at Diefenbaker’s directness in the matter.
When the next morning came Fraser wasn’t any closer to finding an answer to his problem than he had been the night before.
Diefenbaker continued to make wholly unhelpful, rude remarks over the course of the day which did nothing to improve his situation in any way.
Later that afternoon he tried to ask Ray for advice. After all, Ray must have reached that conclusion about himself in one way or another.
“Ray, hypothetically speaking, how would you ascertain if something is to your liking if you have never tried this particular thing before?”
Ray looked up from the report they were supposed to correct.
“Easy,” he grinned mischievously. “Try it. Then you’ll know.”
Fraser tried hard not to blush at the unbidden image of Ray picking up another man at a bar to find out if he liked being touched in that way.
“No, I meant… well, take dancing for example,” Fraser was glad for that piece of instant inspiration.
“What about it?”
“Well, how do you know that you like dancing with someone else if you have never danced before?”
Ray looked utterly focused now; probably trying to gauge was Fraser was getting at.
“Dancing? You wanna know about dancing, Frase?”
“No, I—that’s not what I meant. It was a metaphor, an example, if you will,“ he stumbled through the rest of the sentence.
“Okay, okay. I’ll get it. Still easy, try it by yourself. If you like dancing by yourself, well, you know what a wise man once said? Everything’s about partners. Much more fun that way.” He grinned at Fraser, clapped him on the shoulder and got up to put the report in Welsh’s inbox.
Fraser thought about Ray’s words when he was lying on his cot that night. He thought about touching himself to the fantasy of Ray but in the end he decided against it.
What would that prove? That his mind could put it in a shape that aroused him? Fantasy was only in your mind. It was your mind that made your body react, not the content of the fantasy.
People had fantasies about the most peculiar things; rape, abductions, being bound and countless other scenarios, a lot of which the owner of said fantasy would never want to experience in real life.
Fraser had no doubt that his mind would provide him with a suitable fantasy that would give him the desired reaction. It just wouldn’t be the answer to what he was trying to accomplish.
He needed an involuntary reaction of his body. A reaction directly tied to Ray.
And while he had no doubts that his body was as taken with Ray as the rest of him was he considered it a matter of proper preparation to acquire the necessary evidence before requiring it in a later situation.
Fraser was still in need of a plan a few days later. He thought that maybe he should take Ray up on the offer and ask him to teach him to dance.
That would put them in close contact and without anything else to focus on.
Fraser was still mulling that idea over in his head when he arrived at the station late on Thursday afternoon.
Ray didn’t look well at all. His skin looked pale and he appeared overly warm for the temperature at the station.
When Ray patted him on the shoulder to tell him that Welsh wanted to speak to them Fraser reached out and caught his wrist.
Ray’s eyes widened but Fraser only frowned worriedly.
“Ray… did you take any medication?”
Ray pulled his hand away in annoyance.
“I’m not sick, Fraser.”
“Ray, you have a fever. You shouldn’t even be at work in your condition,” Fraser admonished.
“Vecchio! Didn’t I tell you to get in here 5 minutes ago?” Welsh called out and Ray flinched as if the sound had hurt his ears even though Welsh hadn’t raised his voice all that much.
Welsh only wanted to inform them that Mr. Brody would indeed only be accused of self-defense thanks to their good work.
The moment they stepped out of Welsh’s office Fraser tried again to convince Ray of a sensible course of action but the telephone interrupted him.
“27th police department, major crimes, Detective Vecchio,” Ray answered.
“Uh-hu. We’ll be there,” he hung up.
“Looks like we have to head downtown, corner of Wabash and 9th street. A neighbor heard shooting.”
“Ray,” Fraser tried again. “You should go home.”
“I’m fine, Fraser,” and Ray brushed past him already on the way to the car.
Fraser sighed; this man was as stubborn as a mule when he wanted to be.
They arrived at the reported address and were the first officers at the scene. The order was to monitor the situation and wait for backup.
Suddenly there was movement at the suspected apartment. A man appeared behind the window, he was pulling roughly on a very young woman, gesturing around with a gun.
“Shit.” Ray swore. He released the safety catch on his gun and pushed his glasses more firmly onto his nose.
It was a delicate situation since the body of the woman mostly shielded her attacker.
“No one said anything about a hostage,” Ray muttered.
Fraser could see sweat beading at Ray’s temples. He should not be attempting this shot, not in his condition.
There was a scream from the window and Ray flung his arm out, took careful aim, gnashed his teeth and fired.
There was the sound of shattering glass and a howl of pain from the hostage-taker.
Ray collapsed panting next to Fraser. He had shot the gun straight out of the hand, the woman was unharmed.
“Good work, Ray,” Fraser said quietly and stroked the back of Ray’s neck. It felt sweat soaked and feverishly hot.
Fraser was acutely aware of Ray’s labored breathing and the way his chest heaved with every breath. He felt suddenly parched, his own heart thumped erratically in his chest.
“Thanks.” Ray croaked even though it seemed to take him every ounce of willpower not to drop to the ground completely.
Another police car pulled up and Fraser managed to give them the basics before they stormed into the building to put handcuffs on the perpetrator. The woman was escorted outside a moment later. She was crying but seemed otherwise fine.
Fraser pulled Ray’s arm over his shoulder and heaved him up. Ray’s hair tickled him and he tried to keep from inhaling his scent too deeply for fear that they would never make it home safely otherwise.
“Let’s get you home, Ray.”
This time Ray thankfully didn’t object.
Fraser drove them to Ray’s apartment and helped him up the stairs. Ray winced slightly.
“God, even my skin hurts,” he complained.
“You will feel better after a good night’s sleep,” Fraser assured him.
Ray felt so unbearable hot against Fraser’s skin and he had no memory of ever being so close to Ray, he could feel Ray’s pulse jumping against his side where Ray’s chest was pressed closely against him.
Fraser’s palms felt sweaty and air seemed to be in short supply the way he was eagerly sucking in breath after breath.
He helped Ray to sit down on his bed and heard him moan softly. Fraser felt instantly hot himself. He pushed the feeling of excitement down; this was not the right time for those thoughts.
“Ray,” he whispered. “Can you manage to change into comfortable clothes?”
Ray nodded. “Yeah, just… hand me my sweats please. They’re in the first drawer.”
Fraser complied and put the pair of sweatpants next to Ray onto the bed.
“Thanks.” Ray said.
“You’re welcome. Get changed, I’ll be right back.”
He left Ray, acknowledging the sound of clothes rustling, and went to the bathroom to look through Ray’s medicine cabinet.
Fraser took the bottle of Advil and a glass of water back to Ray.
He shook out two pills and handed them to him. Ray was pretty much where he had left him only that he had managed to lose his jacket and to change his jeans for the sweatpants.
“Here,” he handed him the pills and the water.
Ray downed the pills and scrambled under the covers.
“’M going to sleep now,” he declared and Fraser smiled tenderly at Ray’s form.
Fraser backed out of Ray’s bedroom and closed the door behind him.
“First things first,” he told the empty apartment.
He puttered around the kitchen, washing the dishes and in general doing a bit of cleaning up; God knew Ray’s apartment could use it.
A look into the refrigerator made it abundantly clear that there was nothing remotely suitable for a sick person. He sighed; this should not have come as a surprise.
Fraser went back into Ray’s bedroom as quietly as he could and looked through the pockets of Ray’s discarded jeans for his keys.
He pocketed them, filled the glass with fresh water, and left the apartment as quietly as he could.
Fraser went back to the consulate and took care of most of his chores for the next day. When that was finished he bought the necessary ingredients for a chicken soup and went back to Ray’s place.
Ray was still asleep when he entered the apartment but before he was finished with the soup Ray appeared at the kitchen counter.
“Hey, Frase. What are you doing here?” He yawned. “How late is it?”
“I’m cooking since your body needs sustenance to get back to health and you won’t find the necessary nutrients in mayonnaise and gherkins,” he smiled slightly. “And it is almost 8 pm now.”
“Smells nice,” Ray closed his eyes. “Kinda like my mum’s cooking when I was sick as a child.” He shivered slightly.
“Put something warmer on and you can sit down.”
“I’m burning up here, Fraser. I cannot put more stuff on.”
“That would be the fever.” He put his hand against Ray’s forehead. “This will need to get down. Sit down and I’ll get a bowl for you.”
Ray did as he was told and sighed happily when the first spoonful entered his mouth.
“This is great, Fraser. Although… it’d be nicer if I could taste it,” he laughed ruefully.
Ray was almost asleep on his feet again before he had finished half of his soup.
Fraser nudged him slightly.
“Ray, get back to bed.”
Ray mumbled something incoherent but let himself be pulled up without any resistance.
Once he was settled Fraser went back to the kitchen to get a cold cloth for Ray’s head.
He entered the bedroom quietly but Ray was already fast asleep again.
He smoothed Ray’s hair away from his forehead and applied the cool cloth. Ray gave a satisfied little moan and Fraser had to close his eyes against the picture he presented.
His soft lips were slightly parted and his cheeks were flushed from the fever; Fraser had never seen anything as enticing in his entire life.
Softly, hardly a touch at all, he brushed his thumb over Ray’s lower lip and felt the breath ghosting over his skin. Fraser licked his lips absentmindedly.
He felt himself getting hard and pulled his hand away, careful so as not to disturb Ray. If his body reacted to Ray in this way even when he was lying in bed sick and helpless Fraser had all the answers that he needed.
Fraser’s fingers were trembling ever so softly when he touched them to his own lips.
“…Ray…” he whispered before he reached out again to run his fingertips gently through Ray’s hair.
Fraser settled in on Ray’s couch, trying to ignore the presence of Ray in the next room and the slow hum of arousal that never really faded entirely.
When morning came Fraser prepared something to eat and a pot of coffee for Ray and left for work.
He opened the consulate and prepared everything for the day ahead. A little while later Turnbull arrived and he thanked him again for looking after Diefenbaker.
It was almost 9 o’clock when he attended his daily briefing and another half hour before he could excuse himself to go and check on Ray.
A short mental calculation provided Fraser with the expectation that Ray was probably awake by now but he used Ray’s key again to let himself in just to be on the safe side.
He unlocked the door and had not even stepped more than two steps into the hallway when Ray came into view, adorably sleepy looking but already with a mug of coffee between his hands.
“Fraser, did you actually clean my flat?” He asked incredulously.
Interestingly enough, Fraser noticed, he did not ask why Fraser had a key to his apartment first.
“It was more a bit of tidying up, I’m afraid. How do you feel?”
“Much better. But really, Fraser, you didn’t have to do all this stuff. You did the dishes for Christ’s sake,” Ray added accusingly.
“Ray, it’s alright. I’m glad you feel better,” Fraser replied soothingly.
“If you’re here anyway you can join me for breakfast. Thanks, by the way.”
There was a moment of pause when Ray walked back towards the kitchen before he stopped dead in his tracks.
Fraser knew what came now. Wait for it; wait for it, 3-2-1.
“Now wait. Did you actually use a frickin’ key to get in here?” He turned around and stared at Fraser with a stunned expression on his face.
“Well, I am terribly sorry to intrude like that, I, ah, I had to get out to obtain the needed grocery’s and I didn’t want to wake you upon my return wherefore I—“
“Yeah, alright,” Ray interrupted him. “Just, you know, good to know where my keys went. And I was wondering, Ray, my very good friend, who might have had any interest in invading your privacy and cleaning your castle while they’re at it? Answer should’ve been obvious: A Canadian. Should be thankful you didn’t rearrange my furniture while I was out for the count.” He grinned to take the edge off his rant.
Fraser tried to interrupt him, to explain that this was not at all what he had been doing but Ray waved him off and gestured towards the kitchen.
They had breakfast together and afterwards Ray was about ready to lie down again.
“I hate being sick,” he grouched. “It was even worse when I was a kid. All this lying around, doing nothing, great stuff when you could be doing something else, not so great when it’s the only thing you can do.”
“Patience, Ray. Give it a day or two and you will be back to your usual form. I have to get back to work now, I am afraid I used my lunch hour early to check up on you. Do you think you will be fine for the next few hours?”
Ray grinned at him in exasperation.
“Fraser, I am a 38 year old man, I’m sure I can manage by myself. But…,” he smiled a little embarrassed. “Thanks.”
“You’re welcome.” Fraser smiled warmly. “Rest and drink plenty of fluids—“
“Fraser, get outta here. I’ll be fine,” Ray said warningly.
It took Ray most of the weekend to recover, a fact that annoyed him to no end and about which he kept Fraser almost constantly updated in case Fraser should have forgotten how terribly unfair life was being to one Stanley Raymond Kowalski.
Fraser would have been a lot less patient with his constant tirade but he was so preoccupied that he was rather glad for Ray’s absorption with his own fate of being stuck in his flat with the flu during his free time instead of during his working hours.
Usually, Fraser felt a deep sense of accomplishment whenever he solved another case. Only this particular case seemed to get more challenging the further it progressed.
It was quite possibly only his own deep involvement that made it so difficult for Fraser to formulate the correct course of action but this knowledge didn’t speed up his progress.
He had spent the morning at Ray’s flat but after three hours of constant niggling from Ray about literally everything – be it inanimate object or his neighbor who, apparently, breathed too loud – Fraser had caved in and decided that it was time for a much needed walk with Diefenbaker.
He might be in love with this man but that did not necessarily include an unlimited amount of understanding for childish petulance caused by something as far out of Fraser’s control as a simple flu.
The walk with Diefenbaker was a nice change to his weekend enclosed at Ray’s apartment and even the weather was remarkably fine for that time of the year – Ray would probably add this to his list of complaints as soon as he bothered to look outside.
What he needed, Fraser concluded, was a foolproof plan.
When he returned from his walk he sat down at his desk and pulled out a fresh sheet of paper. He opened the left drawer of his desk and got out one of the RCMP standard issue pens.
Fraser licked his lips and uncapped the pen. He put it down to the paper and wrote in a neat and orderly script Plans to win Ray Kowalski. Before he had really lifted the pen from the dot of the ‘i’ he scratched the line out again.
This would not do at all. It sounded too much like a game and he couldn’t have that.
He wrote again. How to woo a man. He fought a blush and scratched that out again, too. Not only did this sound ridiculous, it wasn’t even logical. No two men were identical and this wasn’t any man in general either.
Fraser rubbed his eyebrow in indecision. He put the pen against the paper for the third attempt but lifted it from the page before he had even written a word.
Fraser hesitated for a second before he finally wrote Possible Plans Which Might Bring My Affection for Ray Kowalski to His Attention.
He paused for a moment and then added Romantic between the My and the Affection to ensure once and for all the staggering extent of what he was attempting to achieve.
The pen was poised over the paper yet again and he started to write several times but aborted each attempt.
Tea. This would definitely work better with tea. So Fraser got up and into the kitchen to prepare a pot of tea.
There was an electric water boiler but Fraser decided to use the old-fashioned kettle today even though it took longer for the water to boil.
When the tea was steeping Fraser had the practical idea that some food would not hurt either. After he had finished preparing his sandwiches he pondered taking a shower.
Diefenbaker’s growl wasn’t exactly needed to recognize that he was prevaricating. Fraser sighed softly. “You’re absolutely right. Delaying won’t make it any easier.”
With resolute steps he went back to his office and placed the tea and the plate with the sandwiches on the corner of his desk.
He took his seat again and picked up the pen. It hovered inches above the paper while what felt like ten minutes ticked by.
Diefenbaker barked and pushed against his knee.
“Well, I appreciate your input although I don’t believe that a quite so forthright approach would be very successful. But I write it down if it makes you happy.”
There was an agreeing ‘woof’ so Fraser wrote: “Tell him.”
Dief made another yip and Fraser looked sternly down at him.
“I will most certainly not write: ‘Declare my undying devotion and my desire to mate for life’.”
The wolf didn’t appear very happy with Fraser’s censorship but Fraser remained steadfast on this point.
“Your help is welcome, I assure you, but I will phrase your suggestions in a manner that is closer to the thought processes of a mind of the human race.”
“I suppose I could send flowers,” he mused and wrote that next. The next idea was a “love letter” even though he felt uncomfortable just writing it.
“Send him a gift,” was another idea, directly followed by Diefenbaker’s suggestion to “take a romantic walk together”.
Fraser’s huffed and put the pen down. He pinched the bridge of his nose and took a sip of his tea. He was more than a little unhappy with his own performance.
These ideas sounded neither original nor very promising. How was he supposed to know the proper course of events that defined dating? He hadn’t had a romantic date in his life.
There wasn’t much romance to a life in the Territories – oh, the Territories themselves had a certain romantic charm if you knew where to look, but relationships were formed more often than not from a very limited choice of partner and the people that voluntarily stayed in the Territories didn’t have much need for romance with flowers and chocolates.
Well, he could remember his time at the depot and the young woman he had courted at that time. He had been terribly inapt and more than just a little nervous but he thought their brief time of getting to know each other could be termed as dating.
Fraser thought back to that time and what he had done then in order to impress her, no, not even to impress her; he had just wanted her to know that he honestly liked her. Her name was Claire Cartwright and Fraser had admired her for her tenacity, her gentle heart and for her rude jokes.
He wondered what had become of her, certainly a very capable officer. She had left to finish her training in a bigger city and Fraser couldn’t blame her, the smaller RCMP outposts were hard on someone not used to the wilderness… and the loneliness.
It had all started with an offer for dinner and on another occasion they went for drinks. He could do the same with Ray, he could ask him out. So he wrote it down on his list.
Claire had liked to receive compliments, as long as they were heartfelt, but Fraser had never seen the sense in uttering idle talk.
Didn’t Ray occasionally complain that he didn’t felt appreciated enough at times? Not with so many words, of course, but in the way he shrugged whenever all the attention was focused on Fraser and no one appeared to be interested in Ray’s role in the whole affair.
“Pay him a compliment.” This shouldn’t be especially hard; he admired Ray a great deal.
His grandmother had always said that people enjoyed talking about themselves. She said not to think unkindly of people who enjoyed this more than others, that those people mostly didn’t have anyone else to be interested in their own lives.
She had taught him to take an interest in the affairs of other people, to be a keen observer and to keep his opinions to himself.
He could show an interest in things that were important to Ray. Well, more than he already did, he could ask about his hobbies or maybe assist him with one of his past times.
His tongue crept out while he concentrated on writing: “Take an interest in the things he likes”.
He surveyed his list so far. He thought of Ray’s reaction to his ideas and after a few tries he crossed “love letter” and “send flowers” as well as “tell him” from the list.
As far as he knew Ray did not have a particularly loving relationship with stationary, he did not enjoy writing and most of his mail went unread straight into the trash.
And while Fraser thought that Ray might enjoy flowers in general he assumed that it would hurt Ray’s masculine ego to receive flowers or it might at least embarrass him.
He did not want Ray’s insecurities on top of everything else. This was complicated enough as it was.
Telling him… was simply out of the question. Ray would probably feel made fun of or he would react hurt once he knew where Fraser’s confidence to confess his feelings had come from.
Well, this left him at least with a few options. It might as well be that he would be able to think of more ways the further his plan progressed.
Fraser thought again of the unofficial RCMP motto: Mounties always get their man.
For a second Fraser wondered what Ray Vecchio would say to all this. But Ray Vecchio had been his friend and he, more than anyone else, had wanted Fraser to feel as if he belonged, had wanted him to find happiness.
He knew what Ray Vecchio would say. “Go get your man, Benny.”