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Author: Tatau (kaffeewespe_la@yahoo.de)
Fandom: Due South
Pairing: Fraser/RayK
Rating: NC-17
Words: ~ 22.500
Disclaimer: Due South is the property of Alliance Atlantis. I am not making any profit out of writing this and I don’t own a thing.
Summary: Some things are simply fated to be. And fate won’t listen to rational reasoning or fear of rejection. If need be, fate will repeat itself. Over and over (it’s very patient). Until the last stubborn star-crossed lover has realized that some things are meant to be (which doesn’t mean that fate will stop pestering them – it never knew when to stop).
Notes: Written for the DSSS2011 for my very dear Surya who requested any form of porny first-time F/K story – and coincidentally requested a fic with a motorbike and forced proximity. I hope I managed to hit the mark with this one 🙂 Merry Christmas my dear!
Thanks: Enormous thanks to Kuonji for the insightful feedback and helpful remarks that made this story into a much better one, and also to exbex for really coming through when I needed it the most 🙂
Merry Christmas!
 
 
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Da capo al fine: Start again at the beginning and repeat until the end

***

INTRODUCTION

12th of September, 1998

The water was icy cold. The dread I felt when I saw Ray’s still form felt as if the same water had begun to move through my veins. I reached him but he didn’t react to me. I shook him and, thank God, he reacted to that at least. I gripped his face between my hands, the stubble on his jaw scratched my fingers, and I pressed my mouth to his.

His lips were just as cold as the water around us. I pressed my own lips tighter together and then I breathed, pushing my air into his mouth whether he wanted or not. I felt the rush of air leave me and his lungs sucked my air in eagerly, desperately. I pulled back and motioned to him that he was alright now, no reason for panic.

I didn’t think anymore about it until he asked me later.

“Fraser, what was that?”

I was confused. “Was what Ray?”

“That thing you did with your mouth.”

Surely Ray was familiar with first aid? “Ah, that was buddy breathing,” I answered. “Standard procedure,” I elaborated when I realized that my original answer did not satisfy him.

“Uh, so, nothing, like, changed, right?”

What a strange question. I’m still thinking about it. Ray’s train of thought can be remarkably hard to follow.

“No, nothing changed.”

Could I have answered any differently? Would it have made anything easier? Would it have made everything worse?

***

VARIATION 1

3rd of February, 2000

The ice was treacherous – I knew that better than anyone. And still, Ray and I braced the elements. Just us and one full team of dogs for miles and miles. We’ve been gone for over two months now, the plan was to stay one more. This is my first entry in my personal journal. So far, the weather journal had been sufficient for my needs. It happened over a week ago, but it still haunts me. So I’ll put it down on paper in the hope that this will help me to understand.

“Hey, give me your mug. I’ll go rinse them out with snow.” Ray held out his hand and I handed my own mug to him gratefully.

Ray had adapted remarkably well, much better than I thought he would be able to. Much more than he thought he could, after our first journey through this savage land in our pursuit of Muldoon.

His easy companionship has been invaluable to me. The wind picked up, I heard it raging against the fabric of the tent. I remember the uneasiness that suddenly came over me, inexplicably. A feeling of dread.

I thought I heard a crack but before I could be sure, I heard Ray cry out. My name. In utter terror.

I was outside before I knew it, but Ray was already through the ice. Sometimes, there isn’t a crevasse underneath. Sometimes, it’s ice water. All the more dangerous because the risk of dying continues even after one is back on dry land.

Almost immediately after he went under, I had a strong grip on the back of Ray’s parka and pulled him out again.

Ray’s whole body was convulsing, shaking with brutal tremors, he was trying to speak but only managed to cough. It was the shock of the temperature. Ray was lucky his heart hadn’t stopped.

I dragged him back to our tent and inside. With focused efficiency, I tore his clothes away. Ray’s body trembled even harder. I wrapped him in one of our blankets but Ray’s skin must have been hurting, blotchy and red, and he hissed in pain through his clenched teeth.

I shushed him, murmuring comforting nonsense. Ray’s fingers were blue, as were his lips.

I pushed him back and his body unclenched only slowly, relenting to my touch only grudgingly.

“Ray, we need to get you warm,” I admonished urgently, wrapping him in the sleeping bag. I undressed, shivering at the cold but I could only think of Ray’s safety. I slipped into the sleeping bag with him. Gasping as his cold body pressed close against mine.

Ray’s eyes were swimming with tears; he had tried to rub some warmth back into his hands. I took his hands in mine and pressed them against my chest, simply holding them there, letting them soak up the heat of my own body.

Ray’s teeth were chattering, his whole body was jerking with every passing tremor. I pulled my arms around him and tried to breathe through the cold. Ray’s body felt like ice. Ray’s shaking didn’t stop. I soothed him again, rubbing my fingers in a soft circle over the skin of his back. I knew that point, when you could feel the cold as a tangible pain in your skin.

I reached up, outside of the sleeping bag and pulled the blanket to me.

Carefully, I reached up and wrapped it around Ray’s hair, rubbing the strands softly to dry them.

“Sh-sh-sh-it,” Ray stuttered, a painful rasp, the lungs wheezing.

I wrapped him in the circle of my arms again, feeling the first twinge of fear in my chest. I continued to hold him and Ray continued to shake. I remember the wind was howling outside and that it was the only sound besides Ray’s labored breathing.

I remember—yes, I remember another moment in which my existence had been reduced to nothing but the person in my arms and the howling of the wind.

I must have known it, too, when I held Ray close to me. I think fear for his well-being pushed all other thoughts away, there simply wasn’t time to reminisce – for better or worse.

“M-m-m-y f-f-f-f-f-i-i-i-“ Ray stuttered before he started coughing again. His fingers were still cold as ice.

I took one of his hands in mine and lifted it to my lips. With a feeling of déjà-vu, I slipped his fingers inside my mouth.

Ray moaned gratefully at the warmth engulfing his frozen fingers. I shivered and I didn’t know why. Or I think I had a vague inkling but I chose to ignore it.

His eyes were closed. I could see the iridescent sparkle of tears in between his lashes; we were pressed so close against each other. I don’t remember how long we lay like that, all I remember is Ray’s shivering body and that I could feel his heart beating against my chest. I remember that my body felt burning hot, like a furnace, compared to Ray’s.

Writing this down is not easy for me. It reveals certain parallels that I didn’t notice when Ray’s life was still at risk, when worrying about him was all I could think of. Now, however, I don’t have the same preoccupied state of mind.

At some point, Ray’s body started to keep the warmth again. I hadn’t realized how afraid I had been until I felt Ray’s body returning to a safe temperature. I allowed Ray to nod off then, his body needed the rest and I hoped it would help his recovery.

I studied Ray’s face. I couldn’t help it; my eyes were inadvertently drawn to his peaceful expression. The line of Ray’s jaw… the subtle arch of his eyebrows… the bold cheekbones… So many details I had never noticed before.

The stubble on his jaw had grown into almost a full beard but I had found out that Ray didn’t grow a beard very well. I had to smile. The beard had patches, not always the same thickness – as if it never wanted to be anything more than stubble.

The flutter of Ray’s lashes caused a lump in my throat. Ray was so still; I never had the opportunity to observe him as he slept, he had always burrowed inside of his sleeping back, like a badger. I pulled his body closer against me as a wave of protectiveness washed over me. The wind was moaning outside, nature’s fury. Ray had been lucky.

I wonder now, had I always known all of this about Ray? Had I known deep down, the level to which I was taken in by him? Could it be that I ignored it? –out of fear, perhaps? Did I need the recreation of a scene that every fiber of my being associated with love?

And it’s always love, as long as I can think of the snow. It got tainted later. When I think of a Chicago winter, the first fall of snow in the city. When I think of polar bears behind glass. That’s when I think of betrayal. Of hurt. Of grief. Of guilt, more than anything.

But when I think of snowy mountains, all I remember is feeling close to dying and feeling this glimmer of a flickering amber inside of me. Hope. Love. Over time, I’ve given it many names. Mostly to absolve myself, I think.

Has it simply been a reaction to that situation? Maybe what I am feeling for Ray now, what I realized during that night that I feel for him, isn’t about him. Maybe it’s just her ghost?

But I remember what happened then so clearly, and I couldn’t have thought of her dark hair and fair skin – not when I had Ray in my arms. Blonde hair, golden skin. Light, so much light, in every smile, in every look.

Ray’s breathing sounded thick, as if through a wet fog, and I felt a knot of ice at the center of my heart as I noticed the beads of perspiration on Ray’s face.

A soft sheen of sweat gleamed on his upper lip, small beads were gathering on his forehead. I swallowed the rising panic.

I remember that my fingers had been trembling when I pressed my hand against Ray’s forehead to gauge his temperature. Ray’s skin was scorching. A gasp was startled out of my throat. Ray was feverish.

I was afraid. More afraid than I had ever been in my life, that I might still lose him. I was so tired myself, the day had been exhausting but I knew that I could not fall asleep. Ray needed watching and he was depending on me.

Maybe I am drawn to situations like this? Maybe it isn’t about someone depending on me and it isn’t about a threat to our lives. Maybe I am simply so good at deflecting that I need to be forced to concentrate this closely on someone to hear what my heart has been telling me all along.

“Oh Ray,” I whispered into his hair. “I’m—I’m so sorry.” I kept replaying the scene, wondering if I could have prevented it. If I had offered to rinse the mugs, Ray would be sleeping safe and sound now. Could I have warned him?

I pressed my face close to his, feeling the tender skin of his cheeks, his nose, and the rough stubble of beard. Ray had beautiful ears and I’m beginning to think that I’ve known this all along.

Ray’s lips were moving, he was mumbling something not even half-articulate. I felt a shiver of dread at Ray’s delirious state. How could nature dampen Ray’s mercurial wit? His lightening quick jumps from one topic to the next, often seemingly without any apparent connection?

Where was Ray’s fervid energy? His restlessness? Ray’s body was limp and relaxed next to mine.

Why did it have to take risking Ray’s life to show me how much this man means to me?

Tiredness was pulling on my eyelids and I blinked rapidly, fixating on Ray’s beautiful face in order to stay awake.

“Of Mans First Disobedience, and the Fruit

Of that Forbidden Tree, whose mortal taste

Brought Death into the World, and all our woe,” I began to whisper. I couldn’t fall asleep. I needed to keep an eye on Ray’s temperature.

When I ran out of book passages, I started to sing. I ended up singing an old lullaby, over and over. I always associate this melody with my mother although I have no recollection of her singing to me. It might just as well have been my grandmother or a song we learned at school.

But it makes me think of my mother, a peaceful, calming melody. A herd of Caribou thundering over plains thick with snow. Wolves howling at the moon in a forest at night. I don’t even remember the words of the song. Just the melody. “Di da-da… da… di-di da…dam” I hummed the simple melody, wondering if Ray could hear it in his sleep.

It saved me when she did it. Ultimately, it didn’t save her but not for lack of trying.

If it could save Ray, I had something to thank her for. Something more than for a lesson well learned. How could I not have seen this similarity? I only remember the movement of my lips and the fear that I wouldn’t be strong enough to save Ray – there hadn’t been any space for anything else to think about.

But now, great Scott, I marvel at my own ignorance.

Had I been this afraid to get hurt again after… Victoria?

Ray’s fever didn’t climb over the course of the night. But it didn’t break either.

My eyes felt like lead. But I managed to see it through. In hindsight, I think I can endure almost anything for Ray’s well-being.

When the first light reached the tent, I was hoarse.

Dawn had already passed over into morning when Ray stirred. He yawned and immediately started coughing. The rough scratch of his throat sounded painful to my ears and Ray’s eyes watered the longer the coughing fit continued. Still, I was glad. Ray had gotten through the night.

“Ray,” I croaked. He would be alright. He was alive and I would do everything in my power to ensure his safety.

“My chest hurts,” Ray breathed.

I winced in sympathy, I could see him hurting. My own chest ached, too, though for a different reason. Had I already known at that moment what my heart had been telling me, I wonder?

“We need to get you to a hospital. I think you have the beginning stages of pneumonia,” I explained hoarsely.

Like a flash, annoyance flittered over Ray’s face and I felt a pang in my heart at the familiar sight. Ray’s emotions are always written so clearly on his face.

Had she hurt me so badly that I needed to almost lose him before I could understand that what I had been feeling for him was more than friendship?

“We’re not abandon—“ Ray didn’t get any further before another coughing fit caught up with him. “—the quest—“ Ray wheezed, struggling for breath.

I was glad for his anger because it pushed the embarrassment down. And I was sure that Ray would feel equally uncomfortable, once it fully entered his mind that we were both naked, pressed against each other, in the same sleeping bag.

I felt a fierce longing at Ray’s stubbornness, his determination to see this journey through till its end. I wanted to keep Ray to myself, sharing him with no one but the elements. Knowing, that he had to depend on me here, that there was no one he else he could turn to.

Shame left a bitter taste in my mouth. How could I even think it? Ray needed people. Ray needed civilization.

“We can continue the quest at another juncture,” I croaked.

Ray’s handsome face spread into a shadow of a grin. “Yeah?”

Ray’s lips were chapped. The urge to lick them, to soften them with moisture was almost overwhelming.

“Yes, of course,” I whispered.

Ray closed his eyes for a second and relaxed in my arms. “You’re a real furnace, Fraser,” he murmured and I blushed without any real reason.

“You’re warm yourself, Ray. You’ve got a fever,” I answered as levelly as I could.

“Do you feel up for the trip into town?” It would take the whole day to get Ray into any big enough town so that he could get medical treatment.

I was glad now that our last stop for supplies had been so very recently.

“Sure,” Ray nodded and started coughing again.

I nodded decisively. Although I felt far from sure. This was the moment where I had to get out of the sleeping bag.

I fumbled for the zipper, shivering as the cold air hit me. I didn’t look at Ray; instead I hurried to get a set of dry clothes out of my back. I shrugged into my thermal underwear and heard Ray whisper.

“That—the thing you did with your body—“ Ray said, sounding small and embarrassed.

“It was standard procedure, Ray,” I replied evenly. And for a moment I thought I could still see the watery hold of the ship.

It was standard procedure… It was also the most intimate thing I had ever done.

Ray was frowning so I elaborated, hearing the water rushing into the ship.

“It doesn’t change anything Ray.”

Exactly the opposite. Everything will stay the same.

I never wanted to return to Chicago. I hadn’t planned on returning there. But that was before I knew that I couldn’t leave Ray.

“So, we’re good?” Ray asked puzzled.

I’m looking back at my answer to his question now, one week later, and I am left wondering if my heart already knew what took me one week and several pages to understand.

That I love Ray. As more than a friend. Even though he is that to me, too, a very dear friend.

Maybe I had known it already when we shared the same sleeping bag, when Ray had lain in my arms cold and shivering, when I had sung to him until the sun crept over the horizon.

I think I have known it before I started writing this entry. But it seems to have taken me her powerful memory to see what has probably been in my heart for much longer than one week and one night.

Even if I can never have anything more than friendship, I can’t let him out of my life. I did what my heart told me to do, I let him go. Back to Chicago. But I knew a week ago that I would – and I finally know why I promised to – go back with him.

A duet. For better or worse.

“Yes Ray, yes we are.”

***

DUET FOR TWO VOCALISTS

Six Months Later

“Hey, Frase,” Ray stretched his arms above his head, his body reclining in a lazy sprawl on his chair at his desk. Fraser marveled at the easiness with which Ray seemed to get comfortable wherever he was.

“What about watching the game tonight? My place, a pizza – a beer, if you’re up to it?”

Fraser smiled. “Yes, I’d like that. But I have to insist on something other than pineapple on the pizza this time.”

Ray smirked. “No blubber, no lichen. Apart from that, knock yourself out.” Ray threw his mobile over and Fraser caught it in a fluid gesture.

“You start dialing and I put away these files.” Ray jumped up with his usual grace and Fraser watched him dance a quickstep over to the filing cabinet with a fond smile.

Being in love with Ray wasn’t always easy, but being his friend was.

“You, my friend, are in for a surprise. We’re going to wipe the floor with you.” Ray grinned and slung his arm over Fraser’s shoulder.

“Ah, on the contrary, Ray. I believe that Calgary has a very real chance of winning this match…”

They ambled out of the bullpen and Fraser lost himself in another evening of Ray’s easy companionship.

Back at his apartment later that night, the familiar melancholy set in. But it was a sweet sadness, more wistful than anything else.

He counted himself lucky. After all, he had Ray in his life – on a daily basis, as a very dear friend. And he was grateful for that. More often than not, he was even happy because, really, what was love when it came right down to it? Nothing more than a friendship that permitted to touch.

Fraser had lived a very solitary life; he could get by with simple touches, a hug, a pat on the shoulder. And on desperate nights, his own hands on his own body. It was enough.

Being allowed to have Ray as a friend was more than Fraser ever had expected to possess. He had never regretted returning to Chicago with Ray. Being alone in Canada would’ve been unbearable. Chicago wasn’t home and never would be, but he didn’t live in his office anymore because Ray had insisted he find himself a place— and he had a life here.

Pictures of Ray and Dief and himself were decorating the rather sparse apartment that was filled with furniture he himself had worked on, even with Ray’s help in some cases.

A few days later, they got an anonymous phone call informing them of a deal about to go down. Ray was triumphant. “That’s exactly what we’ve been waiting for! All we have to do is, wait for Three-Finger-Tony to take the suitcase with the money and then we can bust him and his whole stinking operation. This is gonna be easy!”

Fraser awoke with a throat so dry even thinking about swallowing hurt. Disoriented, he tried to assess the situation. The dull aftertaste in his mouth hinted at a possible narcotic. He felt light-headed but that was more due to thirst than to anything else.

Judging from the light, over a day had passed because it was morning again. Definitely not the same or his throat wouldn’t be sore from lack of fluids. He needed something to drink or his judgment would be impaired by dizziness and confusion, the headache was already trying to split his head in two.

His hands were bound behind his back and tied to his feet. A professional job. What the hell had happened? The simple arrest must have turned into something a lot less simple.

He looked around the room. The first thing he saw was Ray’s limp form, lying a foot away from him. His arms were handcuffed to an old pipe that reached from the floor to the ceiling.

Ray’s wrists had an angry red circle around them, abrasions from being bound in this position for such a long time. The bruise at the side of Ray’s face was a deep purple with crusted blood at the temple. Ray was too still to be asleep. Fraser’s heartbeat quickened. Ray couldn’t have dropped into a coma from dehydration already.

Fraser opened his mouth to produce Ray’s name but other than a strangled, wheezing sound, nothing escaped his throat. Water, he needed water.

Don’t panic, Fraser scolded himself. Panic was the best way to ensure death.

Fraser looked around some more. There were more pipes along the ceiling; this was a boiler room or something very similar. Fraser listened quietly. Drip. Drip-drip. Drip.

Exultation swept in a wave over him. Somewhere, water was dripping to the floor in a steady trickle. Somewhere close. He strained his head to look over his shoulder. He turned his chest as far as he could. There was a small faucet, close to the floor attached to another orange-red pipe.

Maybe it was used to attach a garden hose, the small window on the far side of the room, almost directly under the ceiling, should reach street level. Or it was simply used to fill a bucket for cleaning purposes.

It hurt his neck, but if he stretched he could just about reach the faucet. Cautiously, Fraser pushed his tongue out. The first splash of water felt heavenly. He considered the taste. Slightly moldy, the pipe system was probably a very old one.

Well, half a cup of bleach, one cup of vinegar, and a good amount of boiling water could take care of the mold.

He paused. This wasn’t very helpful for any kind of escape plan. And the mold itself wasn’t very informative of their current location either – he had been fairly certain that they were still in North America before.

He thoughtfully moved the sip of water around in his mouth. If he concentrated he could taste the metallic tang of copper. So the building was probably built sometime in the last 40 years. He frowned. That didn’t help much as far as their whereabouts were concerned either.

But at least it was drinking water and nothing in it was very likely to kill them or cause any immediate health issues, which was all Fraser cared about at the moment.

He clamped his lips around the little valve attached to the faucet in an effort to increase the water flow. The damn thing was stuck. He tried it again but with just as little success. He ran his tongue over his teeth to erase the metallic taste in his mouth.

At least there was a small but steady flow of water coming from the faucet. It should be sufficient. Sometimes one had to be grateful for small favors.

Greedily, he attached his mouth to the little leaking metal opening.

It seemed to take ages but after a few minutes, swallowing was possible again. It still hurt but he wouldn’t keel over from dehydration in the next half an hour. He had to check on Ray who still hadn’t produced a single sound.

The bounds didn’t give and looking for something to cut the rope would take too long. He wasn’t in any inherent danger so checking up on Ray was paramount now. Fraser sucked again on the dripping faucet until he had a good mouthful of cold water.

He turned around again and wriggled closer to Ray’s still form. He pushed his face close and pressed his lips against Ray’s. Slowly, Fraser let the water trickle between Ray’s lips.

He pulled back and saw Ray’s throat work slowly, a frown appeared on Ray’s face. Fraser breathed a sigh of relief and turned back to his water source. He returned with another mouthful and pressed his lips again to Ray’s. Ray’s lips moved the tiniest bit this time, reacting to the coolness of the water against their parched skin. Fraser felt his face heat.

He pushed all other thoughts away as good as he could and filled his mouth again with the slightly stale water. His cheeks aflame, Fraser pressed his mouth to Ray’s for the third time.

Halfway through, Ray groaned quietly. Suddenly, a warm tongue invaded Fraser’s mouth, searching for the source of the wetness. Finding Fraser’s tongue, Ray started to suck on it, begging it to surrender more cool liquid to Ray’s parched throat.

Panicked, Fraser drew back, gasping for breath.

Ray’s eyes flew open and he looked at Fraser with incomprehension. He turned a dark red before he started to look around in confusion. He started to ask something, but except for a croak no word came out.

“We’ve been here for more than one day. There is a faucet behind me that I can reach to get some water. I’ll give you more in a second, is that alright?” Fraser said all of this very matter-of-fact but he knew that his ears were still red. He felt terribly hot all over.

Ray tried to speak again and looked frustrated when no articulate sound left his lips. He nodded and Fraser struggled to his other side again to fill his mouth once more.

He turned back and inched a little closer again. He was looking at Ray, suddenly unsure how to give Ray the water. But there was only one way. Ray nodded again and angled his face closer.

Fraser kept his eyes open as he touched his lips to Ray’s. But he couldn’t make anything out this close and the blurriness made his headache even worse. Feeling nervous, Fraser closed his eyes.

It felt like a kiss. The soft slide of lips on lips, the press of his lips to push the water out barely there at all, and yet he could feel Ray’s eagerness, his barely restrained greed. Ray was dying of thirst just as he had been. For a second he felt the tip of Ray’s tongue against his lips and shivered. Ray couldn’t help it, he was just so thirsty. It was completely natural to follow the source.

Fraser drew back and Ray swallowed, he made a face, and licked his lips to gather the last bit of moisture.

“More?” Fraser asked, his voice still hoarse.

Ray nodded, his face flaming red. Fraser turned back to the faucet. The time it took for the dripping water to fill his mouth felt like a lifetime. He calmed himself to wait even longer, give his mouth time to gather yet more water.

Fraser moved close enough so that he could reach Ray’s lips again. They were lying so close Fraser thought it wouldn’t be at all hard to fool himself into imagining that kissing Ray in bed would feel similar.

Again, their lips came together. Ray’s stubble was rubbing softly against Fraser’s own smooth jaw. Ray’s lips were pliant under Fraser’s. Giving Ray water didn’t take long enough.

When Fraser pulled back, Ray opened his eyes. “Thanks,” his voice was more of a whisper.

“You’re–” Fraser cleared his throat, “you’re welcome.”

Fraser inched back a little and tried to concentrate. The thirst was still almost unbearably strong but it would be alright for the time it would take them to escape.

“Ray, if I turned around, do you think you could describe the knots for me?”

“Sure,” Ray croaked. The roughness of his voice sent a shiver through Fraser who hid it by wiggling around.

“There are two,” Ray coughed, “One around your wrists and one around your ankles. If I could get to them, I think I could work them loose.”

“I had hoped you would say something like that,” Fraser smiled for the first time since he had woken up.

It was a struggle to get up on his knees, his shoulder was pulled back by the rope and he had to lean against the wall to steady himself. It took a while, but in the end he managed to shuffle close to the pipe to which Ray’s hands were bound. He crouched down, so that Ray would be able to work on the knots. The position was extremely uncomfortable but it would have to do.

Fraser felt a flutter of excitement when he felt Ray’s fingers on his hands. Ray hissed quietly. His wrists must have been hurting.

“I have a salve for your wrists,” Fraser said quietly.

Ray chuckled quietly. “Another pregnant something stuff?”

“Ah, no. This one is from the—”

“Uh, too much information, Fraser. Just put it on me and don’t tell me what it is.”

“Understood.”

A few moments later, Ray had freed his arms. With a groan, Fraser pushed into an upright position again. He knelt down and worked on the ropes on his ankles.

Fraser examined the handcuffs that held Ray captive. “I don’t suppose you have your keys on you?” Fraser asked and was met with Ray’s patented ‘you-spell-Canada-d-u-m-dumb? – look. “Ah, I thought not.”

He looked around and found his Stetson lying a few feet away. Maybe the sharpened buckle would be of help in this case as well.

Fraser set to work, careful not to hurt Ray’s already bruised wrists. He didn’t get very far, though, before a shout of “Chicago PD!” resounded from outside.

A few minutes later, Elaine handed Fraser a key to the handcuffs while the crime scene unit secured the area.

From what Fraser could gather, they had walked in on a drug deal gone wrong. Under the circumstances, they were probably lucky to be alive at all. A snitch had tipped Elaine and her partner off that two cats had wandered where they weren’t wanted, hinting that everyone knew what happened to the cat if curiosity got the better of it.

Back at the station, Fraser produced a little pot filled with white cream. Unthinkingly, he reached out for Ray’s hands but Ray snatched his hand away.

“Uh, thanks, I can manage myself,” Ray shrugged awkwardly.

“Certainly,” Fraser handed Ray the plastic container, betraying the hurt he felt. But something must have shown in his voice.

Ray winced. Gingerly, he flexed his hands. “No, uh, you do it – you have a, uh, better angle,” Ray amended.

Fraser relaxed a little and smeared a thin sheet of the salve over the angry red line, careful not to put too much pressure on it.

But something had changed between them. Ray hadn’t asked— but if he had, Fraser would have told him that nothing had changed because of this slightly varied form of giving the breath of life. Maybe saying it out loud would’ve helped? There wasn’t a chance to add it as a postscript now. This matter was – as Ray would probably put it – put away in a box marked ‘done’.

It mostly showed in the little things. Sometimes, Ray would look at Fraser and blush. This triggered at least one of Fraser’s nervous ticks – more often than not the lip-lick, which exacerbated the situation unnecessarily.

A week ago, Dewey came into the break room and exclaimed that he was dying of thirst – which promptly resulted in Ray choking on his coffee.

Fraser understood Ray’s uneasiness. A situation such as their escape was very personal. If it had been a movie – and had one of them been a woman – this would have led to the crucial romantic moment. Having occurred between two men, however, made everything more complicated.

Fraser knew that stories in which men succumbed to acts of a sexual nature with another man for lack of women were often treated in the same category as cannibalism. People didn’t like that it happened but in the case of a shipwreck or in prison it was apparently excusable.

This was not the most comforting thought.

Fraser tried to let Ray know that no one would think less of him because of the way they had escaped. The story of the man who had researched a small tribe in the Amazon basin and who had to adapt to eating insects for the job wasn’t met with the understanding Fraser had hoped for, though.

“Insects? You gotta be kidding me? No one would make me eat insects. Not for any case in the world.”

Fraser rubbed his eyebrow in frustration. “Yes and I am reasonably certain that you won’t be faced with a crime that would make the consumption of insects helpful in any way. The point is, that everyone had the utmost understanding for his adaption to the circumstances–”

“For eating insects? No way. The guy who gets paid to do shit like that is a nutcase. I don’t have to be understanding of that.”

Fraser sighed. This conversation was not going the way he had imagined. With Ray, it seldom did. It was simply beyond his scope to foresee all the possible responses Ray might come up with in the face of a new topic of conversation. Fraser had thought it a fair comparison.

Ray was jumpy around Fraser and it took Fraser every ounce of willpower not to voice his bitterness. It was one thing to know that your love was unrequited. It was another to have the feeling the other person was constantly alert in case you decided to molest them.

Fraser pinched the bridge of his nose. That wasn’t fair to Ray. Ray had never accused Fraser of taking advantage and Ray had to know him better than to expect him to force his attention on Ray.

Ray’s jittery behavior was probably just due to a state most heterosexual males would experience. People had very fixed notions of their sexual identity and no one liked to have his own questioned.

This was nothing personal against Fraser. The fact that Ray would have reacted just as bad had it been any other man did not really comfort Fraser all that much.

A few days later, they were sharing Chinese at Ray’s apartment. Over dinner, it became clear that Ray’s invitation wasn’t such an easy and friendly affair. Ray could hardly look at him. Fraser supposed that Ray had simply been trying to act as if nothing was wrong when he had invited him over.

Maybe it would help Ray if he knew that Fraser had never questioned his heterosexuality? Fraser cleared his throat.

“Ray, didn’t you have a date last Thursday?” Fraser was going for casual. For some reason Fraser never was entirely sure of, he didn’t do casual very well.

Ray looked at him as if Fraser had just said – “Freeze! This is a robbery!” – the chopsticks forgotten halfway to his mouth.

“What did you just say? ’cause I think something’s wrong with my ears,” Ray said slowly.

“Ah, I was merely inquiring how your date went.”

“Date?” Ray asked with the same incredulity.

“Yes, with the young Miss from accounting?”

“You mean the lunch I had with Julia so that she could tell me what I have to put into my tax return – and ream me out for my shoddy organization while she was at it? That the date you are talking about?” Ray said it gently, dangerous in its softness.

“I see. But didn’t you have a date last—” When? When had Ray dated in the half year since they had returned? “Ah,” Fraser pulled at his collar.

“Yeah, ah,” Ray grumbled.

“It’s just that— I’m sure you could find a date if you were so inclined. I remember quite the number of women who were very taken with you,” Fraser rushed through his sentence with his usual thick-headedness.

“I don’t—” a dark look flitted over Ray’s face, “forget it.” He lapsed into a gloomy silence.

Fraser seemed to find all the wrong things to say lately. Instead of having reassured Ray that he was aware of his heterosexual pursuits, he had reminded his friend of his non-existent love-life. Not something a friend would bring attention to… and which in turn might have been counter-productive.

Apparently, Ray figured that all he needed was a hobby. It took Fraser a few days until he caught on to Ray’s newest project. Curious, Fraser picked up the newspaper that was lying on Ray’s kitchen table. The want ads page was looking up at him, showing a few ballpoint swirls that encircled motorbikes for sale.

Fraser’s eyebrows rose up. Ray was still puttering around the kitchen to prepare coffee for them. Fraser wandered over to the coffee table and surveyed Ray’s choice of reading material. More magazines about motorbikes.

Fraser sat down and studied one. Ray came over with his usually fluent step and put a mug in front of Fraser. “Thanks,” Fraser mumbled absent-mindedly.

“Ray, are you thinking about buying a motorcycle?” Fraser’s tone was hesitant. Lately, even the smallest suggestion could set Ray off.

“Uh, yeah,” Ray scratched his throat.

“Why do you want to buy one, if I may ask? I thought you never wanted to miss a day when you could drive the GTO?”

“Nah, this isn’t about transportation. You don’t buy a bike to get from one place to the next.”

“Ah, you don’t? What else could you possible use a motorcycle for?”

“It’s a state of mind, Frase. It helps me think.”

Fraser looked rather doubtful. “Let me clarify this, driving a vehicle with only two wheels and a significantly higher risk of getting into a life-threatening accident helps you think?”

Ray started laughing and dropped down onto the couch next to Fraser. “Okay, put like that I think my brain must’ve come up with one of your ideas, Frase.”

“I didn’t even know you had a driver’s license for motorcycles,” Fraser said, not even sure why it bothered him so much that he hadn’t known, either about the license or about Ray’s wish to drive a motorbike.

Ray smiled; a fond smile, obviously full of memories. “You bet I do. Had to, really, all the cool kids did it,” Ray grinned at his own juvenile idiocy.

“I loved that bike. I spent years fixing it,” he sighed a little wistfully. “When Stella and me were splits, I sold it. Couldn’t face all those memories. Every time I looked at it I remembered how happy we were. I would remember Stella sitting behind me, her small hands pressed tightly around me, she was so scared. But when we stopped somewhere, she would always smile this big, goofy smile and kiss me, all excited and breathless. Felt like those summers lasted forever,” Ray’s gaze was fixed somewhere on the far side of the wall but he was miles away, years away from Fraser.

Fraser cleared his throat. It sounded like a beautiful story. He could imagine Ray driving a little too fast, just to make Stella cling ever more tightly to him. It was too easy to picture the daring grin on Ray’s handsome face as he accelerated.

Ray’s experimental hair would have looked even wilder once he had pulled the helmet off, yes, Fraser could picture a younger Ray riding a motorbike into the sunset with the girl of his dreams right behind him.

Fraser’s eyes were itching.

“Sorry,” Ray smiled softly. “Been a long time that I got all nostalgic about it like that. Yeah, anyway, I’d like to buy one again. It’s the perfect summer for it.

If you’ve never sat on a bike and just lost yourself to the hum of the engine, nothing between the air around you but that cheap leather jacket, and the street rushing past you, man, then you really missed out on something. It’s peace. It’s quiet—it’s freedom in its purest form. Like flying.”

“Do you consider driving a dogsled a similar experience?” Fraser asked very quietly, offering Ray his own small version of freedom. He couldn’t boast about driving metal and steel over long, endless, asphalt roads. Fraser had mostly driven cars for their convenience, especially if the terrain was rough. But dogsleds? He had real fun driving a sled. And that first time he had managed to steer all by himself had been exhilarating.

“I always found it very liberating. When the rush over the ice makes it hard to focus because everything around you is white and dashing past you in a blur, and you feel the slide of the blades, smooth and clean underneath you… and there’s no one but you who leaves tracks in the snow.”

“Yeah, driving a sled is exactly like it,” Ray sighed softly, almost happily – on Fraser’s behalf, that Fraser had the chance to experience something like that as well.

Driving a sled beat a motorcycle hands down… it was a lot more terrifying for one thing. Ray hadn’t done such a bad job of it on the quest but he did a hell of a lot better when he could actually see the road he was taking.

Well, Fraser never had any problems with following a path no one else could see.

“Come on, time to get back to work,” Ray patted him on the knee and stood up to carry their mugs into the kitchen.

Fraser’s throat felt tight. He wanted… so much.

“Right behind you, Ray.” No sense in wallowing in self-pity. He was happy with what he had.

A couple of days later, they were on the way back from interviewing a witness. Ray had been in a sour mood all morning and Fraser really didn’t know what he had done to trigger Ray’s temper.

Maybe it was simply because they were working all the time, they hardly ever spent any free time together anymore. Come to think of it, Ray hadn’t even asked to spend his evenings in Fraser’s company lately. That thought stung.

And Fraser hadn’t even mentioned the disastrous attempt to arrest Three-Finger-Tony or the kiss—the kiss that hadn’t been a kiss. It had been a matter of life and death. He had not kissed Ray… not really. But he hadn’t brought it up regardless what one might call it.

Ray was really deliberately obtuse this morning. Fraser stifled a sigh.

And yet… at other times Ray was his usual self… a good friend, a fast talker, and charming company.

Perhaps all Ray needed was a bit of space?

They passed one of the shadier bars. Suddenly, Ray’s appreciative whistle pulled Fraser out of his thoughts. Ray had stopped walking a few feet back. He was standing in front of a black motorcycle, staring at it with rapt admiration.

“Ray?”

“This is it! This is exactly the bike I wanna buy—do you have any idea what this is?”

The answer was obvious, wasn’t it?

But Ray wasn’t expecting one. “This is a Norton Commando from 1974—they don’t make them like that anymore. Wow,” Ray was walking around it, the eyes shining with delight. “Someone took really got care of this baby.” Ray couldn’t stop staring. “A freaking 850 MKII— I don’t believe it. This is a classic.”

The door of the bar banged open and a harried looking man stumbled outside. Shock registered on his face when he saw the rapt attention that Ray was bestowing on his motorbike. But a second later it changed to eagerness. He hurried over to them. His glasses gave him the appearance of a mouse or a weasel and the thin, almost gaunt body didn’t help with that either.

“She’s a real beauty, huh?” The voice of the man was thin, with a slightly nasal quality to it.

“Yeah, amazing. She’s yours?” Ray was so taken in by the bike he didn’t even bestow more than one glance on the man.

“Yes, yes,” the man said, nodding hurriedly.

“Man, I wanna buy one just like that,” Ray admitted longingly.

“Really?” The man was looking really excited now. Sweat was gleaming on top of his head where his hair was thinning. “Thing is, I need to get rid of her.”

Fraser didn’t detect a lie but something about this man didn’t feel right.

“See, I’ll be leaving in a few days, go out of the country, and I can’t take her with me.”

Ray’s head went up at this and he fixed an assessing look on the owner of the motorbike.

“You really wanna sell her?” Ray asked cautiously, cataloguing the man’s features.

“You bet I want to,” the man was nodding fervently. “5000$ and she’s yours. What do you say?” he was almost twitching with excitement.

Ray stared at the mileage and stared at the guy. “5? Are you kidding me? She doesn’t even have 5000 miles on her. Hell, she’s probably worth more than 6000.” Ray checked the bike over again, trying to figure out why this guy would offer such a low price if there was nothing wrong with the bike. It seemed in top condition.

“Man, I told you. I need to leave— I’m almost with one foot on the plane. You’d help me out if you took her.”

Ray’s eyes narrowed but it appeared to Fraser as if his gaze went back to the bike a moment later.

“Ray, I’d advise you not to do anything rash.” Fraser tried to calm the excitement in is friend. Ray looked at him then, but that only seemed to make up Ray’s mind. Ray’s mouth hardened into a tight line.

“Tell you what, take her for a test drive and if you want her, you can buy her right after it?”

“I really don’t think you should do this, Ray,” Fraser tried again.

“Why not?” Ray’s eyes narrowed and he stepped closer, right into Fraser’s personal space.

“Ah, it’s—it’s really not sensible—”

“Oh right, ’cause you need everything to be sensible, right? Well, you know what Fraser? Not everything on this fucking planet makes sense. Okay? And you’ll just have to live with it.”

Fraser was confused as to the reason for Ray’s vehemence.

“I assure you Ray, all I’ve been trying to—”

“Save it, Fraser. I’ll see you later at Mr. Goldstein’s shop.” Ray turned to the man with the beady eyes who had followed the exchange with a nervous tremor to his upper lip. “You got a helmet?”

The man nodded again. “Yes, of course, right here.”

Fraser tried to explain again, but Ray was already pulling the helmet over his head and mounting the bike. The man handed him the keys and Ray pushed the ignition. The engine roared to life and Ray sped off.

A bitter twist appeared on Fraser’s lips. “Good day,” he said stiffly to the owner of the bike before he continued on his route.

Ray ended up buying the thing. He spent the rest of the day explaining his decision to Fraser. “Fraser, I checked the whole thing over. I know what to look for when I buy something that got wheels, alright?”

“Ray, I never said that I didn’t trust your mechanical knowledge.”

“Then what? You don’t trust that I can figure out fake papers from the real thing? The papers are alright, you can take a look at them yourself if you don’t believe me,” Ray was really getting worked up about this and this had never been Fraser’s intention.

“It’s not anything about your judgment that I don’t trust. I just think that the man who sold you the motorcycle was behaving in an exceptionally eager manner. I didn’t detect a lie but something about his behavior together with his profuse sweating – a sure sign of nervousness – aroused my suspicions.”

Ray shrugged. “So the guy was a loser and had the personality of a rodent, big deal. I didn’t wanna date him; I wanted to buy his bike.”

Fraser didn’t reply immediately and Ray hastened to clarify, “uh, not that I ever dated a guy— ’cause I haven’t, it’s just, you know—?”

“A figure of speech?” Fraser asked automatically. Of course, he knew that Ray didn’t date men. Ray really needn’t remind him. Fraser was telling himself that every morning. Hearing it from Ray made it hurt more, though. As if Fraser had indeed carried a little shard of hope inside of him, kept alive by the simple act of not knowing for sure, that had now been crushed. As if Ray had rejected him directly.

“Exactly,” Ray said relieved.

“I understand.” Because he did.

Two days later, the man with the face of a weasel was found dead in a bathroom.

Ray stared in disbelief at the body. Kneeling in front of the toilet, the head stuck in the bowl. Ray wrinkled his nose.

“Fraser, this looks like a mob thing,” Ray said slowly, as if he really couldn’t believe it, “who else would drown someone in a toilet?”

“And cut off an index finger before that,” Fraser added as an afterthought. Ray made a face and tried not to look at the stump where the finger had been. He hoped someone had already collected the finger and put it away. Somewhere. Anywhere. Ray didn’t care, just as long as he didn’t have to find it.

Ray looked through his notes. “The guy had been an accountant. Who wastes a murder on an accountant?”

“Ray!” Fraser admonished. “Drowning is a horrible death. You don’t wish that on anybody.”

“Especially drowning in a toilet,” Ray added helpfully, because that had to be one of the most pathetic ways to go. Not that Ray didn’t know a thing or two about drowning himself. He flicked a glance at Fraser.

Fraser looked thoughtfully at the body. Why did it always come back to the same thing? How did they always end up in variations of the same situation? First, they escaped from a sinking ship and Ray nearly drowned, then they spent their quest out in the snow and Ray almost froze to death because he fell into ice water, and after that, Ray and he suffered from dehydration because there wasn’t any water in any form anywhere.

And now they found a guy who had been drowned… in a toilet, which was a little unorthodox, Fraser had to admit.

“What do you think of this, Ray?”

Ray thought that this was probably his personal version of Groundhog Day. And he was Bill Murray, cursed to go through the same shit over and over again until— yes, until what? Ray didn’t even know how the movie ended. He only knew that Bill Murray was always trying to kill himself but that didn’t help any – Ray could have told him that. Fraser was trying to kill them all the time and they still weren’t rid of the whole air-water-dying thing.

But this idea was so weird that not even Ray was willing to voice it to Fraser – who was already used to pretty much every level of weirdness there was.

“I think he should’ve been quicker with his plans to leave the country,” Ray said instead, rolling a toothpick from one corner of his mouth to the other.

Back at the station, they pulled a few files and tried to piece the story together as best as possible.

Ray stabbed two fingers at the screen in triumph. “I said all accountants were weasel!” And this particular one had worked as a bookie for one of the biggest mobsters in all of Chicago.

“And did I or did I not tell you that all accountants are brain dead?”

“Ah, you might have mentioned something about their intelligence being slightly beneath average,” Fraser smoothed a knuckle over his eyebrow.

Ray grinned. “I said brain dead. And come on, no one would want to get on Barker’s bad side. You’d have to be one brain cell short of becoming a plant to cross him.”

Fraser wasn’t so sure if you could generalize the brain capacity of accountants. But this one really hadn’t been very smart. For if he hadn’t stolen money from Barker then he had at least helped someone to do so, which amounted to the same thing.

The details were sketchy, but after some deal or other money had gone missing and rumor had it that it had ended up in some kind of safety deposit box in a bank. But apparently no one knew how to find it because no one had gotten his hands on any kind of code or key.

So, even if the bookie hadn’t taken the money himself he must’ve known where the money went.

“I’ll get us a coffee,” Fraser said half an hour later. Maybe stretching his legs a little would help him think. Ray nodded absent-mindedly. “I’ll see what I can dig up about this deal that got our guy drowned in the can.”

When Fraser came back, however, he caught a glimpse of Ray’s screen. Ray was checking for information all right – just not about mob activity.

Apparently, Ray finally had to admit that the whole thing with the bike did have a bad taste to it for he was checking its papers again. Fraser could make out a serial number in the left hand corner of the screen and a registration code where Ray had entered the license plate.

Fraser’s ears picked up a relieved sigh from Ray shortly before he sat down at the desk again. Fraser supposed there was nothing wrong with the motorbike then. It had been registered, the serial numbers matched, and the license plate fit. But something had been off about the sale of the motorbike, Fraser was sure of it.

“Well,” Ray took a sip of his coffee and made a face at the burned taste of the station coffee. “There’s got to be more than one party with an interest in getting their hands on the bookie. And we still don’t know if the bookie even knew anything. I guess he probably talked, or he wouldn’t be dead now… Except if he hadn’t known a thing.”

In which case they weren’t any better off with their investigation, either.

Fraser hadn’t known how desperately people were looking for the stolen money. Not until the next evening, when he was cornered by a group of men who were looking for answers in a very forceful fashion.

He was easily outnumbered. The only relief was that he really didn’t know anything he could tell them. When the pain finally allowed him to lose consciousness, it was almost welcome.

He came to in a dark container. A short assessment of his surroundings provided him with the insight that he was in the shipping space of a truck. There was a small window made of hardened glass leading into the driver’s cabin on the far side of the wall.

It couldn’t have been more than a few minutes before the doors were flung open again.

Fraser knew that this might be the only chance for escape, there were no handles to open the doors of the truck from the inside and there was no other way outside. Fraser was prepared to tackle his attackers in order to escape as he charged towards the door.

What he wasn’t prepared for was getting an unconscious Ray thrown at him.

Without thinking about it, Fraser stepped forward to catch Ray’s fall. He held him in his arms and lowered him to the ground. Before he had even straightened up again, the door had been thrown shut again.

The truck began to move again a moment later. Fraser tried to get a look outside the window, but the road they were driving on was only barely lit and the window was almost too dirty to enable any looking through a window by its definition usually provided.

They didn’t drive long. The truck stopped again and Fraser heard doors slamming and a vague murmur of voices, too low to make anything out.

He was kneeling next to Ray who still hadn’t regained consciousness. There were no marks of a head wound, no bumps or crusted blood. His breath didn’t smell of a narcotic either.

Carefully, he moved Ray into the recovery position. In the dim light, he could just about make out a dark smudge of dirt on Ray’s light gray sweater, right between his shoulder blades. So they had knocked him down.

Gingerly, Fraser moved his hands over Ray’s back. At least nothing seemed to be broken. But why hadn’t Ray woken up by now? What if the blow had caused internal bleeding?

There was a clang from the side of the truck, followed by a series of muted beeps. Fraser’s eyes widened in surprise.

This sounded exactly like… Oh dear.

He stared hard at the dark wall right where the noise outside had come from. He took a look at his watch. A muscle in his jaw twitched. Oh dear.

A groan right beside him caught his attention. Slowly, Ray moved in a half-upright position and looked around their almost dark prison in confusion.

Fraser was terribly relieved to find Ray conscious at last.

“Thank God, Ray. I was afraid you had a serious internal injury.”

Ray looked at Fraser and his jaw dropped open.

“Frase,” Ray reached out hesitantly and Fraser winced slightly. “What did they do to you?” Fraser knew that he must look the worse for wear. His face was covered in bruises and there was a dried trickle of blood leading down from his lips to his jaw.

And that was only what the touch of his own fingers had been able to tell him, together with the pain various body parts were sending to his brain.

He supposed that he probably looked worse than he felt.

“Ah,” Fraser licked his lip. “They were hoping I could help them with the search for the elusive code to the stolen money. When it turned out that I really didn’t know anything, they knocked me out and when I regained consciousness I was in here.”

Ray’s eyebrows had continued to climb higher and higher the more Fraser talked. “Wait—what? You? What were you supposed to know?”

Fraser sighed and leaned back against the wall. Ray sat up and looked at Fraser with worry etched onto his features.

“The number of that safety deposit box is apparently hidden somewhere in your motorbike. People were searching high and low for it—that’s why the bookie wanted to get rid of it.” Fraser looked at Ray with a questioning look and Ray felt as if he had been hit over the head with a two-by-four. The number. The damn number underneath the tank. He was so stupid.

The memory slammed into him with the force of a sperm whale hitting the ground after a free fall. Helplessly, Ray watched the memory unfold in front of his mind’s eye, as vividly as if it was happening right this minute.

He had gone into the garage the day after he bought the bike, still mad at Fraser for making him feel bad about buying it.

His hand travelled fondly over the smooth jet-black finish. There wasn’t much work to be done on the bike; it was really in exceptionally good condition. But he cleaned the controls and checked the oil and everything, just to have something to do.

Working with his hands had always helped calm him down.

He loosened the screws of the gas tank to get to the air filter and noticed a small scratch in the paint. Confused, he peered at the rim of the gas tank and discovered a sequence of numbers etched into the metal – 12011998.

And that had been the moment he’d lost the plot.

Huh, Ray smiled in surprise. The first December in 1998, that had been the date when Fraser and him had started the quest. Wow, that was ages ago. But he remembered they had left on the first of December. Ray laughed quietly, he had really thought Chicago in December was cold. He’d had no idea.

He should have been prepared for the cold. Their chase of Muldoon hadn’t been too long ago. God, but Ray really had been cold every fucking moment on that quest—except for—Ray flushed and rubbed with a cloth hard over the headlight.

He didn’t remember much about that night, only that he had been warm – finally warm – and Fraser had smelled like… In all the time that had passed Ray had never managed to describe the way Fraser had smelt. Musky and a little of sweat but something in that smell… Ray shook his head to clear it.

He inspected the air filter. It was clean – much as Ray had expected. He screwed the gas tank on again.

And then he had gathered his tools together and switched off the light in the garage – completely forgetting about the number he had found.

“Ray?” Fraser asked confused by Ray’s shell-shocked expression.

“Shit—shit!” Ray cursed. “Oh shit. You were right – there was something wrong with the bike. If I hadn’t bought it and if I had listened—”

“I hadn’t foreseen something like this, Ray. It isn’t your fault.” Fraser was biting his lip. It didn’t really matter anymore now, did it? No one could have anticipated that it would come to this.

“Where are we?”

Fraser went very quiet before he answered in a rough voice.

“We’re inside a delivery van. If my sense of direction didn’t desert me, we should be somewhere along that country road that leads through the woods where I take Diefenbaker running sometimes. I’m afraid it’s a largely deserted area. The only things passing through are other trucks and they will hardly think anything strange about a parked van.”

Ray looked puzzled at Fraser’s grave face.

“So we just have to wait for someone to come and find us?”

Fraser bit his lip and went eerily quiet again. He started and stopped to say something several times. How was he supposed to tell Ray the truth?

“Fraser?” Ray whispered. “Tell me.”

Fraser swallowed heavily. “There is a bomb… attached to the outside of the van.”

“A—what?” Ray’s voice rose in pitch. “They’re gonna kill us over a bike that they’ve already got?” Ray spluttered in disbelief.

“I suppose they found your badge. I believe they panicked, they couldn’t risk having the police look into this matter.”

Ray’s breathing was coming way too fast. He looked around wildly. “How much time have we got left?”

Fraser looked at his watch. “If I interpreted the number of beeps when they set the bomb correctly, about 10 minutes,” he whispered.

“Ten minutes? Fuck!” Ray jumped up and started pacing. “We need to get outta here,” he muttered, running his hands along the sides of the van.

“Ray,”

Ray started banging against the metal insides, slamming his fist against the small window leading into the driver’s cabin, and kicking against the bolted doors.

“Ray—”

“Shit! We have to get out, Fraser! Dammit! Help me! Stop sitting there doing nothing!”

“Ray—Don’t you think I’ve already looked for every possibility of escape?”

Ray was panting. “So you’re just going to sit there and wait for us to blow up?” His voice had a hysterical edge to it.

“There is no way to get out of this vehicle. The window is made of hardened glass and it’s not even big enough to fit more than a foot through it, and there’s no latch to open the door from the inside. This stretch of road is deserted and people driving by wouldn’t notice anything amiss. I checked your cellular phone and the connection is dead. There is nothing we can do,” Fraser explained this quietly, not quite successful in hiding the defeat in his voice.

Ray stormed back along the length of the van and threw himself against the wall, banging with his fists against the metal, hollering for attention. His fists weren’t even leaving indentations in the metal. Ray threw himself against the other wall.

Fraser jumped up and pinned Ray’s wrists to the wall. “Ray—please stop hurting yourself!” Fraser pleaded, voice anguished. Watching Ray hurting himself was more than he could bear.

With a miserable sob, Ray sagged down against the wall and buried his face between his knees.

Fraser knelt down in front of him. What could he possibly say? There was nothing to make this better.

Ray was quiet for a few seconds before his head flew up. He looked at Fraser and words started tumbling out in a wild jumble.

“I never would’ve asked—really—’cause I get it. It ain’t that… but—” Fraser was looking at Ray in confusion, but Ray kept on spinning his thought, gathering steam the more words he managed to get out.

“If we’re going to die—and it looks like we are, right? —and it can’t get any worse—nothing can make this worse, right? And it doesn’t matter much longer anyway—yes—and Fraser, you don’t have to—never had to, you can just say no, but if I have to die—I—” Ray’s eyes had a manic gleam to them, there was pure desperation shining in them, and Fraser was still trying to figure out what Ray was talking about.

He’d give his friend anything, anything he could ask for. If only he knew what Ray needed.

“And we always get into situations where we’re just about to die and—it’s always the same, so—” Ray swallowed very fast. “That thing you did in the boiler room? Would you—would you do it again?”

Fraser answered without hesitation. “Of course, Ray. You know that I would do anything to ensure our safety.” Fraser rubbed his eyebrow; sure that Ray’s question wasn’t what he had asked. He’d do it in a heartbeat, but it wouldn’t be of any help in this situation. He understood Ray’s desire to do something but—

“No, would you do it now?” Ray’s breathing sounded harsh. Panic. Fraser could deal with panic.

“Yes I would,” If it helped Ray to believe that it would save them again this time, it might at least calm him down. Not that it would matter anymore in less than 5 minutes. Fraser hadn’t even dared to hope that he would feel Ray’s lips ever again. Fraser could remember that time in the boiler room as if it had happened a second ago. He could still feel the press of Ray’s lips as he pushed water into his mouth.

Confused, he uttered the first thought that crossed his mind. “But there’s no water here.” Belatedly, Fraser realized that he might have been beginning to panic himself. He was, after all, not ready to die just yet. He had accepted death early on in his life because death had made his presence known very keenly in Fraser’s life. There had been occasions when Fraser had thought about dying.

He had been aware of death’s grip during his time at Fortitude Pass. He had thought death was coming when he was lying on a train platform in the cold.

Somehow, Fraser had always accepted this possible outcome. But being faced with it now, he realized that he wasn’t at all prepared.

“That don’t matter,” Ray interrupted Fraser’s desperate train of thought, flushing scarlet with every uttered word.

But that meant—a blush was stealing on Fraser’s cheeks now. Not dead. Not yet. “Ah.” The sound escaped Fraser before he could help it. He could feel their last minutes ticking away with every beat of his heart.

“Yes,” a breathless whisper.

It all wouldn’t matter anymore in a few minutes.

Nervous, so tense he was an inch away from breaking, Fraser pressed his hands against his thighs and leaned closer. Ray’s eyes went wide for a second before he moved his head forward, meeting Fraser’s lips halfway.

Fraser felt the tears threatening to squeeze past his closed eyelids. This was all he had ever wanted. Ray’s lips pressed to his. Their lips moved ever so softly against each other. Ray was shaking, almost from head to foot.

Instinctively, Fraser unclenched his hands and reached for Ray’s. Ray held his hands balled to fists at his side, shaking with his own internal earthquake. Fraser’s hands closed gently over Ray’s fists. A sound like a whimper broke in the back of Ray’s throat and Fraser’s tongue touched Ray’s lips.

Ray’s lips opened, letting Fraser sneak his tongue inside, meeting it with his own. With a sob, Fraser delved deeper into Ray’s mouth and Ray drew him further in.

Fraser’s heart was fluttering. He needed—he needed to say it. Fraser pulled back the tiniest bit, just an inch so he could whisper against Ray’s lips. “Ray, I—”

A dog barked excitedly a couple of feet away from the van. Its excited yips grew louder with every second.

No—not a dog. A—!?

“Yes, you are quite right, this vehicle isn’t properly parked. Imagine someone saw it too late?”

Turnbull!?

“The risk factor for accidents is—”

Ray and Fraser were staring at each other dumbfounded for all of one second before they started hollering and banging on the metal doors.

“Turnbull! Turnbull, we’re in here!” Ray shouted hoarsely. A couple of seconds later, the door was flung open and they were stumbling outside.

“Corporal Fraser, detective Kowalski!” Turnbull exclaimed delighted.

“Run! Run, dammit, run!” Ray was shouting and Fraser and he were pulling a befuddled Turnbull along with them, giving chase to Dief who was already bounding toward the forest.

The force of the shockwave flung all of them to the ground. Ray covered his head but he could still feel the heat passing over them.

“Is everyone alright?” Fraser’s smooth voice cut through the settling dust and debris.

Everyone was nodding and stumbling back to their feet. “Turnbull, what brought you here at this hour?” Fraser asked, even though it didn’t really matter if Turnbull had been looking for UFOs or communing with the local beavers or whatever else he did in his spare time. All that mattered was that they would have died without his timely appearance.

“I was merely accompanying Diefenbaker for a walk since you didn’t return to the consulate to pick him up, sir. I would have brought him to you once we were back from our walk—isn’t that right, Dief?”

Dief let his tongue loll out and gave an approving yip.

“Turnbull, I am not upset that you took care of Dief for me. You’ve saved our lives—”

“Ah, but sir, this vehicle posed a serious traffic violation. In fact, if this is the way traffic regulations are enforced in this city, then maybe I am in the wrong profession. It is quite obvious that the people in charge are not aware how important a proper conduct is when it comes to traffic and its participants. I am of half a mind to offer my services in politics; I could surely do some good there.”

“Ah, of course, if you,” Fraser rubbed his eyebrow and Ray tried to smother his grin behind his hand. “If you think this a necessary goal in your life,” Fraser answered doubtfully.

“Thank you sir, your support of this means very much to me.”

Oh-oh, was written very clearly on Ray’s face. Fraser had to admit that he might have accidentally doomed them all.

While Fraser explained to his subordinate why they had been in an illegally parked van to begin with – the fact that said vehicle had blown up didn’t seem to upset Turnbull overly much – Ray called dispatch to get a patrol car to come by and pick them up. They dropped Turnbull and Dief off at the consulate and went to the station next.

They reported in and Welsh listened with a grave face.

“It would be the easiest way to just pick the guys up when they try to access the deposit box,” Welsh mused. “But without the number—”

“I know the number,” Ray interrupted quietly. All heads swiveled in his direction.

“Detective, your memory for figures is probably worse than mine—”

“Yeah fine, but I remember this number: 12-01-19-98.”

Next to Ray, Fraser jerked a little. That was the date they had started on their quest. Was it… was it so important to Ray that he had memorized it?

Because Fraser knew that Ray really wasn’t all that good with dates. He knew maybe a handful of anniversaries, the day of his wedding and of his divorce, Stella’s birthday, and the birthdays of his parents. Apart from these, Fraser couldn’t recall Ray ever remembering a date without needing to be reminded.

Unbeknownst to Fraser, Ray also knew Fraser’s birthday. He knew it by heart as well, without having to glance at the calendar to jog his memory. But Ray had never told Fraser that.

“Detective, you still have the power to surprise me,” Welsh said, obviously pleased. “You two go home, get some rest. I’ll have someone run the number. We’ll let you know as soon as we know more.”

They said their thanks and walked outside, side by side, without uttering a word. Ray didn’t offer, but Fraser stopped right next to the car from the car pool that had been assigned to Ray anyway. Ray looked over at Fraser’s bruised face and winced.

Fraser had almost forgotten about his bruises. He’d had more pressing matters on his mind.

Ray seemed to be lost in thought on the drive to Fraser’s apartment. Fraser was thankful for that. He much rather they wouldn’t have this particular conversation in the semi-public space of a car. And he needed a few more minutes to organize his thoughts.

They stopped at Fraser’s apartment and when Ray made no move to get out, Fraser finally spoke. “Would you please come upstairs with me?”

Ray mumbled, “Talking, huh? Yeah, we should talk. Good idea.” But he sounded unsure.

They got out of the car and Fraser tried to sift through his emotions.

That kiss… it had felt as if…

Fraser shouldered the door open – it jammed every time – and preceded Ray into the apartment. He didn’t even sit down, though, but kept standing right in the middle of the living room. Ray gulped.

Fraser knew that he should act the polite host, offer Ray something to drink, or at least a seat.

But he couldn’t. He needed to know the truth.

Fraser spoke, very, very softly. “I need to know why you wanted me to kiss you.”

Ray’s head snapped up. It probably showed on his face, how badly he needed to know, but Fraser didn’t have any resources left to make believe that it was otherwise.

Ray scrubbed a hand over his face. “Time to come clean, huh?” His voice held a certain amount of amusement, as of a long anticipated irony. He was fidgeting, but his voice didn’t shake.

Ray licked his lips. Fraser followed the movement with hungry eyes.

Fraser could still feel Ray’s tongue meeting his own as he had pushed inside. He remembered this sad sound that Ray had made when their lips had finally touched. Hope was a dangerous companion.

Ray looked thoughtfully at Fraser and took a step closer.

Please Ray,” it was pressed out with such urgency that it halted Ray in his tracks. But it was—it had been too much. Too much to hinder a spark of hope from growing rapidly. And Fraser couldn’t take anymore waiting. Because Ray had asked for it… he hadn’t called it a kiss but if Ray had meant a kiss then… then…

Ray cocked his head to the side and surveyed Fraser.

“Maybe I’ve been thinking about it for a while,” Ray said softly. Fraser took in a startled breath. His eyebrow was itching but he suppressed the motion to rub over it. But Ray’s gaze zeroed in on the twitch of Fraser’s hand with uncanny accuracy.

“I’ve been so sure you weren’t interested,” Ray murmured, very decisively taking another step closer, bringing him directly into Fraser’s personal space. “You put your mouth on me plenty—hell, you even got naked with me—” a light blush was suffusing Fraser’s cheeks.

“But you—you always reminded me that there was nothing to it. And I get that about you, it’s all in a day’s work for you.”

“Ray,” Fraser said in a tight voice – as if he was hurting. How could Ray think that it had meant nothing to Fraser? When it meant everything to him? He just—at first he hadn’t known… he hadn’t understood his feelings… and then he hadn’t wanted to make Ray uncomfortable… and in the end he hadn’t wanted to force his affection on Ray… deeming them unwanted.

“Ray,” Fraser shook his head, trying to tell Ray that this wasn’t it at all, but his speech center seemed to have developed a spontaneous case of expressive aphasia, unable to form words beyond Ray’s name.

Ray’s eyes widened with startled realization. “Oh God, I get it—that was just you doing the right thing, right? All this ‘standard procedure’ shit— that was just you being noble, right?”

Blue eyes closed in pain for a second. Fraser nodded. It had never been all in a day’s work for him… not with Ray. Ray had always been special.

Slowly, Ray’s lips quirked into a smile. “I should’ve told you, probably,” he mused, “that time in the boiler room, when you gave me water with your mouth, that… that felt so close to the real thing…” Ray’s voice was unusually gentle.

“Ray,” Fraser’s voice was raw. Hope was flaring; there was nothing left of the tentative spark it had been. It had now spread throughout his body. It was pushing his heart into his throat and accelerating his blood into a raging torrent.

“And I tried real hard to forget it… Jesus, I’m so stupid… I should’ve known, ’cause I know you and… this is so you…” Ray’s voice was gentle as his hands closed equally carefully around Fraser’s wrists, hanging limply at his side.

Fraser’s blue eyes fixed on Ray’s. “I had hoped…when you asked me… but I…” Fraser seemed unable to get the whole thing out and Ray smiled. “Yeah… Yeah I meant it.”

“Ray,” Fraser’s voice was no more than a whisper.

There was almost too much between them. Too many hopes, too many longings, too many regrets.

Fraser’s hands under Ray’s were warm and Ray intertwined their fingers. With his thumb he stroked softly over the skin of Fraser’s fingers.

Fraser almost choked on the words, but they managed to get out somehow.

“I’m in love with you.”

Ray’s head shot up and he looked at Fraser with really wide eyes. Fraser cleared his throat and tried again, in a steadier voice. “I’m in love with you.” Quietly but calmly, making it impossible for Ray to misunderstand it.

“Fraser,” Ray murmured. Fraser swallowed and moved his own thumb softly over Ray’s hand. It was a strangely intimate act. He could feel the soft skin of the back of Ray hand, the rougher texture of his knuckles and the warmth coming off him.

“Can I kiss you again?” Fraser asked, sounding not a day over seventeen. Young, earnest, excited.

Ray nodded and angled his head closer. Fraser’s lips brushed his and it was a million times better than in the truck. The fear was gone, making room for smell, sound— a myriad of emotions.

The cotton of Ray’s sweater was warm and soft, the sleeves rolled up to compensate the early September warmth. Ray didn’t smell as if he had just spent the night escaping from an old truck. He smelled nice, really nice. Of warm skin and cinnamon and the air outside.

Fraser made a sound that was almost a purr, deep in his chest, hardly noticeable next to Ray’s low moaning.

Ray shivered and reached up to touch Fraser’s face, bury his fingers in his hair and pull him closer. Fraser’s hands found a spot on Ray’s back that felt as if it had been made for them.

And he was careful not to touch the spot where they had clubbed Ray, but Ray acted as if he didn’t care if Fraser gripped the skin right over the bruise. His fingers tightened their hold in Fraser’s hair, fusing their mouths together as if Ray’s pain was completely insignificant at the moment, as if he didn’t care if it hurt.

Fraser could sympathize with that. He couldn’t feel a single one of his own bruises at the moment. Not when Ray was kissing him like that.

Close wasn’t close enough. Ray pressed against Fraser as if he was trying to climb inside of him and Fraser didn’t have any objections. Their hands came together again, just holding on, touching each other’s fingers, giving warmth from palm to palm.

Ray sucked on Fraser’s bottom lip. And Fraser was beginning to feel light-headed. He wanted—he needed—

“Fraser!” Ray gasped between kisses. “Stay? Stay the night?” Ray breathing was coming too fast, more gasping than an actual intake of breath.

Fraser imagined Ray stretched out before him, being able to feel him everywhere, touch him, and press him close. Involuntarily, he tightened his grip on Ray.

“I’ve—I’ve wanted you for-fucking-ever, stay,” it was almost confessed into the corner of Fraser’s mouth because it seemed as if Ray’s tongue couldn’t stop tasting Fraser’s lips, his tongue.

Fraser gasped and went after Ray’s mouth again, delving in eagerly, a need to possess that he couldn’t put into words. “Ray,” he murmured against Ray’s jaw, bestowing another biting kiss there. “Ray,” he repeated.

“This is my apartment,” he explained gently.

“Oh. Right,” Ray said, surprised for a second, before a slow smile spread over his lips. “Your point?” He asked, his blue-green eyes laughing. He kissed Fraser again and Fraser thought that it was really only a question of geographical hairsplitting – an area that wasn’t of the most pressing importance to him at the moment.

“Ah, point taken,” Fraser answered breathlessly. “Yes. Yes, Ray, please.”

Ray was so relieved he could have sobbed with gratitude. But that was nothing compared to Fraser’s own pole-axed state. He couldn’t grasp how they had gotten here, that it should have been so simple after all—that Ray wanted him back. Just like that.

The one thing he had felt reasonably sure could never come to pass. And here they were, with Ray pressing up against him, fingers dancing teasingly over buttons, and warm lips to remind him how very real this was.

That was all it took? Just letting Ray see that it was okay to want more? Ray hadn’t even made him say it. And Fraser was forever grateful for that.

Ray had such a very intuitive grasp of his emotions it was… yes, liberating. Knowing that he could trust Ray to speak them for him, that Ray could read him even if he couldn’t find the courage to ask for things. Brave, wonderful Ray.

Fraser pulled him close, burying his face in Ray’s hair. Ray chuckled delightedly and pulled Fraser’s fingers up to his lips to kiss them. “‘m not going anywhere. But I can’t get you undressed like that.”

Fraser blushed a little and gave Ray a little more room. Nimble fingers went to work on his buttons. A few seconds later, the garment was hanging open on Fraser’s shoulders. Ray’s fingers stroked very softly over the newly exposed skin of his chest and stomach.

“Let’s go to bed,” Ray murmured but it wasn’t a statement. He was looking at Fraser, waiting for an answer.

“Yes, I want to.” It wasn’t so hard to say it, not when he knew that Ray wanted this just as much. Fraser swallowed a little nervously. He reached out for Ray’s hand and a smile formed on Ray’s beautiful lips, quirking the corners of his sensual mouth and Fraser felt instantly calmer.

Together they entered the bedroom. They undressed the rest of the way and then Ray climbed onto the bed and pushed the covers down.

Breathing a little too fast, Fraser joined him on the bed. Before he could panic, Ray moved up onto his knees and claimed his lips again. Fraser lost himself in the delicious slide of Ray’s tongue, the heat of his mouth. He moaned, unable to help himself, and Ray made a sound like a growl and pushed his tongue into Fraser’s mouth with ever more hunger.

Fraser’s fingers were clinging to Ray’s upper arms, helpless, as Ray’s tongue breached his lips over and over again, a thrusting motion… almost as if Ray’s tongue was… as if Ray was… He groaned—he wanted—oh god…

When Ray released him, Fraser was panting but Ray’s breathing wasn’t much steadier than his own. Ray’s open face was the picture of arousal, his hazel eyes wide and dark. Fraser swallowed quickly and reached lower, gripping Ray’s hip with one hand. Ray gasped and settled down, leaning back until his shoulders met the mattress. Fraser knelt half over, half next to him. His fingers were rubbing circles along Ray’s hip bone.

“I’m not sure what I’m doing,” Fraser admitted. And he didn’t wish for previous male lovers with whom he could have gathered experience, he just wished that he could be more sure about how to give Ray pleasure. “All my knowledge is highly theoretical,” he said quietly and Ray actually grinned at that.

“Theoretical, huh? Any naughty books I should know about?”

Fraser blushed and bit his lips.

“Hey, hey,” Ray murmured and leaned up to kiss Fraser softly on the mouth. “I’m flying blind here just as you are. We’ll figure this out as we go along, sounds good to you?”

Ah, yes, brave Ray with his usual straightforwardness. Fraser nodded. It felt better, knowing that Ray didn’t know either and didn’t mind.

“Just go for what feels good,” Ray murmured. His hand closed around Fraser’s right one and he dragged it to his erection, curling the fingers around it. He hissed when Fraser’s fingers closed around it. “Oh god, yes…” Ray moaned and rocked his hips a little.

Fraser licked his lips. He could—he knew what he wanted—if he could only—

“Go for it,” Ray gasped, smiling at Fraser through hooded eyes. And suddenly, touching Ray wasn’t a possibility anymore. It was a need; it was the only thing Fraser could think of, making Ray look like that. He wanted to hear him moan again, hear his own name on Ray’s lips lost in pleasure.

Fraser gave Ray’s cock a thorough pull and Ray pushed his hip up to meet him, eagerly, instantaneously. Fraser did it again, getting a real rhythm going until Ray was writhing underneath him, moaning, his hand reaching out for Fraser’s free one, needing to feel the touch of his hand to ground him. “Fraser… so good…ha…”

Fraser had never felt this turned on in his life, with this beautiful man beneath him. He bent down to kiss him again, feeling lost without this connection and Ray met his lips eagerly. Ray hooked his leg into the crook of Fraser’s knee and pushed with his shoulder. Fraser had to release his grip on Ray’s cock, as his body rapidly changed position.

“Wha—” Fraser protested only to find himself flat on his back with Ray leaning above him, a boyish grin on his lips. Ray kissed him again and then he whispered against his lips. “Don’t want this to be over too soon,” he kissed Fraser again, “want to feel you.” And before he had finished speaking, Fraser felt Ray’s hand on him. Hesitantly at first but once he found a suitable grip Ray attached himself with his usual fervor.

“Ray, Ray, Ray,” Fraser gasped, almost ashamed of the way his hip moved wantonly into the circle of Ray’s fist, but it felt too good to really think about it and Ray didn’t leave him any time to think.

“Jesus, you’re beautiful,” Ray murmured in a scratchy voice. “So good, you look so good moving like this,” and Ray twisted his hand a little and Fraser pushed up helplessly, faster. “Please, oh Ray…”

Ray’s eyes darkened. “Fraser…” His grip gentled and Fraser couldn’t quite stop the whimper at the exquisite feeling of loss and arousal.

“I want—do you—” Ray dropped his head a little and moaned into the dip of Fraser’s collarbone. Fraser felt the wet slide of the tip of Ray’s cock against his hip. He shivered.

“I want you to fuck me,” Ray’s voice dropped down to a murmur.

Fraser moaned, his hip moved up again, looking for friction.

Ray’s look was sly. “I’ve been thinking about you inside of me for ages,” the smile on his lips was positively sultry when he took Fraser’s hand and moved it along his back until it rested on his ass. Ray’s pupils were blown.

Forgetting about his nervousness because all he could see was Ray, turned on and breathing heavy, Fraser pulled his hand back quickly.

Ray looked disappointed and was already opening his mouth, probably to tell Fraser that it was alright, that he didn’t need to, when Fraser stuck his finger into his mouth. Ray’s mouth stayed open, wordless.

Fraser pulled his finger out again and moved it back to the spot where Ray had put it a moment ago. His eyes never left Ray’s and Ray took a shuddering breath.

“That’s got to be the hottest thing I’ve ever seen,” Ray breathed. Fraser couldn’t help the slightly smug smile. His finger reached into the cleft and circled Ray’s hole. Slowly, he pushed inside.

Ray gasped and his muscles pulled tight, tensing. Carefully, Fraser continued the motion but he knew enough to know that this wouldn’t be very pleasurable for Ray, not like that.

“We need—” Fraser worried his bottom lip for all of a second before he decided that it couldn’t get much more personal than where his finger was at the moment. “I’ll get something for lubrication.”

Ray took a quick breath in and nodded. Fraser pulled his finger back and saw Ray wince slightly. “Ray,” Fraser whispered, trying to find something reassuring to say.

“I’m good,” Ray smiled. “Just… unused to it, ‘s all.”

Fraser nodded and reached for the bedside drawer, he pulled a small plastic tube out and placed it next to him on the bed.

Ray looked at the lube and his eyebrows rose in a comical expression of disbelief. “You got lube? Real, plain, standard lube – from a shop.”

Fraser rubbed over his eyebrow in confusion. “Well, yes, Ray. Anal penetration is much easier accomplished this way and lubrication prevents tearing. I could, of course, produce it myself, but since the ingredients would be the same and the industrial version keeps fresh longer I thought it—“

Ray’s eyes were wide. Fraser had just said…

“No, uh, fine. Greatness! I just hadn’t thought you’d have… forget it.”

Fraser worried his bottom lip until Ray raised himself up to claim his lips in a heated kiss. When they pulled apart, Ray was trying to catch his breath. “Let’s get this show on the road. I’m not getting any younger, you know.”

Fraser smiled and pushed Ray onto his back. Ray went willingly. Fraser kissed him, distracting him, but the moment his finger dipped between his cheeks again, Ray’s body tensed up again.

Fraser frowned. He had read about a relaxation method… But he didn’t know if Ray was amenable to the idea.

“No, go on,” Ray said, pulling Fraser’s hand back that had begun to withdraw.

Okay, if Ray was willing to go through with this even though he was so nervous then Ray would surely tell him if he did something Ray wasn’t comfortable with.

“Could you turn around?” Fraser asked and Ray instantly obeyed. A shiver of want and love left Fraser speechless for a moment. The sheer level of trust Ray put in him…

He would make this good for Ray.

He reached for Ray’s ass with both hands and spread the cheeks a little. He bent his head. The tips of his hair were tickling Ray’s skin.

“Fr—wh—”

Then Fraser’s tongue flicked out for a first, hesitant taste.

Ray went very still. Fraser pulled back a bit. “It’s supposed to be very pleasurable… Is it?” He asked unsure.

A shudder went through Ray’s body and he buried his face in the pillow. “Do it again,” he croaked.

Obediently, Fraser complied. Another tremor went through Ray and Fraser heard him suck in a quick breath. Fraser placed his thumbs left and right to Ray’s anus and licked again, a flat stripe over the tender skin.

“Oh God,” it was groaned into the pillow. Fraser looked up for a second and saw that Ray’s neck was flushed. He bent down again and circled the small opening with his tongue. A shudder wrecked Ray’s body and the groan that left him couldn’t be smothered by the pillow anymore.

Fraser hesitated. The taste was heady, addictive and he wanted—but he wasn’t sure if Ray would want him to, maybe this was going too far? He pressed his tongue tighter against Ray’s hole and Ray moaned his name into the pillow.

Maybe there wasn’t much that Ray was objecting to? If Ray didn’t like it, he would surely tell him.

Feeling daring and dirty, Fraser pushed his tongue in. He felt the smooth muscle give around his tongue, how it slipped in.

Ray’s hips came off the bed, “Ahh… Jesus… Oh fuck…”

Ray struggled and for a moment Fraser wasn’t sure if he was struggling to get away. After a second, however, it became clear that Ray was trying to move up on his knees, to give Fraser more room, to spread his legs further, to… give Fraser’s tongue better access.

Fraser felt his face heat and he could feel his own erection heavy and throbbing between his legs. Eagerly, he went back to licking Ray until Ray’s whole frame was shaking, quivering with every lick of Fraser’s tongue, producing a deep, guttural moan, every time he pushed his tongue in.

“Fraser—Frase—” Ray gasped, “I—please—I’m ready…” he croaked and Fraser felt a jolt as if he had stuck his finger into an electric socket.

But relaxed and stretched were two very different things. He couldn’t hurt Ray no matter how badly he wanted to believe his barely coherent plea. Shaking, Fraser pressed his face against the small of Ray’s back and took a few deep breaths.

“Just a—just a moment, Ray…” he mumbled. He slicked up two fingers and pushed them in. Ray almost sobbed with pleasure and Fraser swallowed against his own rising need, soon, soon, he reminded himself.

He pushed a third finger in and stretched them, Ray’s head dropped low to get more air, panting, saying Fraser’s name again and again in an inarticulate plea for something—anything just, please, now.

Fraser’s fingers moved in and out smoothly, without any resistance.

“Oh God…” Ray choked and Fraser couldn’t be patient anymore. He slipped his fingers free, rolled a condom over and spread a little more lube over his own erection. Fraser bit his lip.

Pushing into Ray was like nothing he had ever felt before. Tight, god, so tight, and hot, and smooth and Fraser pressed his lips tight together to keep from groaning, but Ray didn’t have any reservations. He moaned and pressed back.

All the way inside, Fraser trembled with the sheer magnitude of it. It was so good it almost hurt. Fraser never wanted to stop, never wanted to lose this connection with Ray. He slung one arm over Ray’s torso and one of Ray’s hands shot out, scrabbling for one of Fraser’s. Gladly, Fraser laced their fingers together.

Fraser rocked into Ray’s body. He felt the sweet pull Ray’s body had on him, the insane heat. Slowly, shallowly, Fraser rocked again and Ray was moaning under him. Fraser bent forward to press hot lips against Ray’s shoulder.

“You’re wonderful…” he murmured, his hips moving in a graceful arc. “I should have told you…” Fraser mouthed Ray’s warm skin, “forgive me…beautiful Ray…”

Ray’s own hips moved in a slow circle, meeting Fraser again and again. Ray’s mouth was open as he panted for breath.

“Oh Ray…” It was an endless slide of skin against skin, again and again. Fraser whispered against Ray’s nape, his spine, his shoulder blade. Pressing open mouthed kisses to the salty skin. “Love you… Love you…” Whispered hotly against the curve of Ray’s spine and Ray moved against him in an endless dance.

Fraser never wanted to stop. He deepened his thrusts, pulling out farther to prolong the slide back in. Ray was gasping wordlessly, his fingers still clasped tightly in Fraser’s hand.

Ray’s breathing hitched whenever Fraser pressed fully inside and suddenly Fraser wanted to make Ray lose control, give it all up. The hand that had gripped Ray’s hip curled around Ray’s cock and Ray gave a choked off moan and pushed hard into Fraser’s hand.

“Yes… Jesus… Ben… don’t stop,” Ray gasped and Fraser bit lightly into the soft flesh of Ray’s shoulder.

Ray was shaking from head to foot. “Oh god… Oh god…” Ray was mumbling incoherently and Fraser tightened his grip.

Feeling Ray come was the most intense thing Fraser had ever been allowed to witness. Ray’s body pulled tight, gripping Fraser’s cock so tightly that Fraser gasped, feeling the passing tremors that shook Ray’s body and he felt his grip falter, Ray’s come was dripping over his fingers and he wanted to hold on, he didn’t want this to end, but the tight grip of Ray’s body was getting tighter by the second and Fraser gasped.

Burying his face in Ray’s shoulder as his own climax hit him, shaking him to the core.

Ray collapsed beneath him and Fraser went down with him. Half-curling up beside him, his arm slung protectively over Ray’s chest. Ray’s heart was racing but Fraser had difficulty calming his own pulse as well.

“I love you,” Ray murmured unexpectedly, before he turned around to pull Fraser in his own embrace. “Thank you,” Ray added softly. Fraser only nodded and pulled Ray tighter against himself, too choked up to get a word out.

Reluctantly, Fraser disentangled himself after a few minutes. Ray frowned, but Fraser shushed him and came back a minute later with a warm wash cloth. Gently, he cleaned Ray up.

“Are you sore?” His voice was rough.

Ray smiled. “No… not that I could tell at the moment, and even if I was… So what? I’m good,” his smile was gentle as he pressed his lips to Fraser’s. “Mh, peppermint,” Ray yawned. “You have a spare toothbrush for me?”

Fraser looked as if Ray had offered him a Canadian winter, first snow and all. “Yes, of course. I—I placed one next to the sink for you.”

Fraser actually blushed and Ray grinned at him with a sweet, knowing look, but he didn’t mock him for it.

Ray jumped out of bed and walked a little stilted to the bathroom. He was back a moment later and climbed under the covers with Fraser.

“Your answering machine picked up while I was on my way to the bathroom. The Lieutenant called, he hoped you are getting some rest,” Ray grinned wryly as Fraser pushed a knuckle over his eyebrow, “and that we have to be at the Intercontinental Bank at 8.”

Fraser nodded. “I’d better set the alarm then.”

“You do that,” Ray yawned and snuggled closer to Fraser. Fraser turned back from his preparations and embraced Ray in a fully body hug. Almost shyly, Fraser ducked his head to find Ray’s lips again.

Ray wrapped himself tighter around Fraser. The taste of peppermint toothpaste and the smell of Ray were the last things Fraser remembered before he fell asleep.

Fraser woke up a little before the alarm went off. He blinked awake slowly. His eyes widened as his gaze hit upon Ray—well his body realized it first, almost, because Ray’s back was pressed snugly against Fraser’s chest. His short, dirty-blonde hair was almost close enough to brush Fraser’s face. Curious, and before he could help it, Fraser leaned closer and buried his nose in Ray’s hair.

Ray grunted softly and snuggled further into the circle of Fraser’s embrace, tugging a little on Fraser’s arm on which he was lying. Fraser couldn’t keep the smile in check that spilled over his lips. He nuzzled the back of Ray’s neck again, just where the soft hairs began, and made a content ‘mhm’ noise.

Ray snorted, amused. “I was prepared to wake up being licked,” he murmured dryly, “but no one said anything about being woken up getting smelled.”

“I’m sorry,” Fraser replied earnestly.

“Don’t be,” Ray said softly. He turned around in Fraser’s embrace until he could look at him. He smiled a little shyly. It was the most vulnerable expression Fraser had ever seen on his face.

“Morning, Frase.”

“Good morning.” And then – almost childishly daring, just because he could – he pressed a short, dry kiss to Ray’s sleep warm lips.

When he drew back, Ray had his eyes closed and a smirk on his lips “That the best you can do?” He murmured, his lips twitching into a grin.

Fraser pushed closer eagerly, claiming Ray’s lips and pressing his relaxed, loose-limbed body close. When he released Ray again, Ray cracked an eye open. “That’s more like it.” He was grinning, but his expression softened quickly and he raised his hand to smooth his fingers over Fraser’s cheek.

“Hey…”

Fraser was waiting for more information to come, but apparently Ray didn’t have anything to say. Fraser relaxed slowly, he let his eyes fall shut and surrendered to Ray’s touch. The fingers were softly exploring Fraser’s face, his neck, his shoulders.

“I can’t believe I’m touching you like that,” he said in wonder.

Fraser hugged Ray a little tighter. “I—”

The shrill beeping of Fraser’s alarm made him flinch. Ray groaned. “I hate getting up.”

Fraser smiled. He had known that Ray would not be an early riser and it pleased him in a really ridiculously way that he had anticipated this fact.

Ray stretched and threw the covers away. “Give me ten minutes and the bathroom is yours.”

Fraser could only stare as Ray pushed his naked form out of bed and moved into the bathroom, completely unselfconscious, completely naked.

“Shut your mouth, staring does not become a Mountie.” Ray’s dry laughter reached him from the vicinity of the other room. Fraser felt his face heat and he pushed out of bed as well. He put on fresh underwear and an undershirt and went into the kitchen to prepare some coffee for Ray and a tea for himself.

He was just finished when warm hands slithered over his chest. A low moan escaped him and he let his head fall back against Ray’s shoulder.

“Mhm… tempting…” Ray whispered into his ear, his hand traveling downward. He cupped Fraser through his boxers, just a quick squeeze, before he released Fraser and pushed him a step forward.

He chuckled at Fraser’s bereft expression. “Later,” he promised, pushing Fraser in the direction of the bathroom.

Fraser came out in an astonishingly short time, considering he was now in full uniform.

Ray was already settled at the kitchen table. Fraser sat down opposite to him and took a sip of his tea.

Ray’s feet were pressed close against Fraser’s boots. They smiled at each other over their respective cups and Fraser tried to take a deep breath.

This was what home felt like, sharing your favorite morning beverage with someone over the same table without having to talk. It was a warm feeling that spread from his chest outward.

The feeling didn’t leave him, not even when they arrived at the bank. The manager was already informed and led them to the surveillance room. They didn’t have to wait long. As soon as opening hours began, two men approached the clerk behind the desk and showed him a slip of paper with the number of one of their safety deposit boxes.

The man’s head whipped up before he nodded nervously.

“Way to be smooth,” Ray muttered annoyed.

The clerk led the men to a back room and Fraser and Ray moved into position. As soon as they left the room, Ray flashed his badge. “Chicago PD!”

After a short scuffle, they had both men in handcuffs.

Outside, Welsh was waiting with another patrol car. “Are those the guys we’ve been looking for?”

Fraser nodded. “Yes, those are two of the men that attacked me – and probably Ray as well since they were also the ones to drive the van.”

Welsh nodded satisfied.

“Detective, your report–”

“Will be on your desk on Monday,” Ray waved it aside. “It’s Saturday and there’s no way I’m gonna come in today. Fraser and me are going to celebrate and I will be back for work on Monday.”

Welsh snorted. “If that report is on my desk when I come in on Monday I’ll eat the corporal’s hat.”

Ray laughed. “So long,” he waved goodbye and pulled Fraser in the direction of the GTO, which was parked about a block away.

Once at the car, Ray came around to unlock the door for Fraser. Instead of moving to the door, though, he stopped right behind Fraser. He put his mouth close to Fraser’s ear.

“Would you mind celebrating—” he murmured silkily, “at your place or mine?”

Fraser was assaulted by a cascade of images how that celebration might look.

“Yes,” he gasped fervently.

Ray’s warm tongue traced a path from behind Fraser’s ear down his throat.

“Mh, I think I’m on to you and that licking thing you got going.” Ray’s tongue traveled the route back up again. “Yup, definitely. I only need more evidence.”

“Ah, more—?” Fraser gasped, his hands clenching uselessly at his sides.

“Much more,” Ray confirmed chuckling. It was a dirty sound.

“I see… In that case, might I propose my apartment since its location in relation to that of your car is much more convenient?”

Ray’s laughter rang through the street. “Let’s see how long you can keep the long sentences up once I got my tongue on you,” Ray whispered before he finally unlocked the door. Fraser felt a shiver of anticipation running down his spine.

***

VARIATION 2

18th of October, 2000

I am still not entirely sure how we ended up in this situation. Ray has a very definite opinion on this subject. As far as he is concerned, it was the simple equation of being in the vast minority and not even equipped with a fifth of the firepower our enemies possessed.

In my own opinion, that is a rather narrow-minded assessment of the situation. Our own number should have been adequate enough to prevent Three-Finger-Tony from leaving. As for the weapons, well, I am still fairly certain Tony’s employees wouldn’t have shot us. We never had the chance to find out, though. Finding one of Mr. Tony’s assistants, a man by the name of Mike – if I recall correctly – with a gun pointed at my head convinced Ray to surrender his weapon.

I did try to communicate to Ray that I was in no danger, but I think he must have misunderstood my intentions – not that I hold this against him, but being chained to a pole in the middle of a warehouse hardly improved our situation. Ray was wriggling like a madman but it didn’t prevent Mike from securing our hands with rope behind the pillar.

I am sure I would have persuaded Mike to surrender his weapon if I only had a few more minutes. I didn’t mention this to Ray which was probably for the best.

Three-Finger-Tony and Mike left the building – to collect the rest of the drugs and get them to the van as we learned later – and left a man by the dubious name of Iron Sam to deal with us.

Ray was cursing viciously about being stuck in Groundhog Day and the unfairness of it – but I think I must have heard him incorrectly. I can’t imagine what the weather forecast of a groundhog could possibly have to do with being held at gunpoint.

Ray was still struggling restlessly against our bonds. I decided to try and reason with our captor.

“You don’t want to shoot us,” I told the fairly young man, but I was only met with a grin. “Why not?” Was the cocky answer.

Before I could offer him an explanation, Ray whispered “quick, kiss me”. He did it quietly but I could hear him perfectly. I was about to ask what that could possibly do to help but he rolled his eyes and urged me to “just do it”.

I frowned. We didn’t have time for this and I was sure that Ray knew this as well—Ray moved quickly, as a flash, angling his head to the side and finding my lips with his own. For a second, I forgot our dire situation and our audience.

Ray grunted softly and leaned a little to the side. I felt a tug at the rope that bound us to the pillar, but I was distracted by the slow drag of his tongue against mine and then everything happened very fast. Ray pulled his mouth away and half-turned, a long, stick-like object flew through the air and hit – the very stunned looking – Iron Sam straight between the eyes.

The pipe Ray had thrown clattered to the ground, followed by the dull thud as Sam’s body followed the pull of gravity as consciousness left him.

Ray grinned at me and waved his free hand in front of my face. “I needed a distraction,” he explained with laughter in his eyes. “Mike probably shouldn’t consider a career in bondage, huh?”

He set to work to free us of the rest of the rope. We hurried over to the control panel near the door and it only took me a second to find the switch that operated the front gate. We hadn’t even fully made our way outside before we heard the enraged honk of a car.

Ray pulled out his boot gun as we approached the car that was twisted around the iron bars of the factory gate. Apparently, Mike had flattened the accelerator as the gate had begun to close. Time being of the essence, the burst of speed hadn’t enabled them to reach the gate before it slammed shut. The collision must have knocked Mike’s head against the steering wheel.

Considering the circumstances, I think he was lucky the airbag didn’t open. If it had he would have had a broken nose on top of a concussion.

Three-Finger-Tony didn’t have a choice but to surrender since the door was distorted and wouldn’topen.

By the time we reached the station, Iron Sam – whose name apparently hinted at a rather brutal confession technique involving a tire iron – and Mike had both regained consciousness.

Mr. Tony was less than happy with the performance of his subordinates.

“Boss, they kissed! With tongue! What was I supposed to do?”

Welsh was leaning against his door and looked at Ray with raised eyebrows at this statement.

Ray shrugged. “Weird with what kinda stories some of these perps come up with, huh? Everybody thinks he’s a comedian.”

Welsh grinned. “Unless you plan on joining Huey and Dewey, Kowalski, you still have to hand in those reports before IA gets on my case.”

Ray flinched. “On it, I swear.”

“You better.”

In the car, Ray turned to me and looked thoughtful. He reached out and dragged the pad of his thumb in a sensual slide over my bottom lip. My tongue sneaked out after he reached the corner of my mouth, chasing the taste of his finger.

Ray showed me his brilliant, exuberant smile. “Your lips are pure magic, you know that, right?”

And even though I didn’t believe for a second that Ray actually fancied this to be true, I couldn’t help the smile. “That’s just silly, Ray.

Ray laughed softly and turned the key in the ignition. “No, really. Every time we get into a bad situation a kiss with you gets us outta there. The boat thing, the time in the boiler room, then the van, and now again!”

I had to concede that there was a certain pattern to that. However, this was another case in which an apparent connection didn’t necessarily mean that there was a correlation between one thing and another.

Ray navigated the streets with practiced ease.

“You know, I had thought the happily ever after of the fearless heroes would look a bit different than ending up in the same shit over and over again,” Ray mused thoughtfully.

I thought about Ray’s fairy tale expectations for a second. “Maybe that’s because all the reader has to know is that they have found each other, and everything else is of no importance compared to that,” I spoke softly, feeling foolish and unnecessarily sentimental.

Ray looked sharply at me. Thoughtfully, he nodded. “Yeah… Maybe you’re right.” Ray seemed to be considering this.

Shortly before we reached Ray’s apartment, Ray had apparently made up his mind. “I’m gonna buy that bike again,” he said decisively.

My look must have portrayed my surprise. “I recall that you considered it a bad omen and never wanted to go near one again?” I asked puzzled.

“Yeah, I also thought we wouldn’t get kidnapped again. And without the bike, I wouldn’t have—we wouldn’t be—we wouldn’t have this,” Ray said quietly and placed his hand over my own which was resting on my thigh.

I smiled, too full of emotions to speak.

Ray hesitated. “Uh…how many Rivs did you make Vecchio lose? Three?” Ray asked apprehensively.

“Well, technically, Ray—” I started to say because I hadn’t been the person to drive the car into the lake, or to take a shot at it. It wasn’t fair to make it sound as if—

“Oh, okay, a lot, I get it. Gee! Guess I will just have to save some money then. Good thing a bike is a lot cheaper than a car.”

Ray squeezed my hand again and I think this was again Ray’s understated way of telling me that he would do whatever it took.

“I’ll try my best not to put your motorbike at risk,” I told him, meaning ‘us’.

“I know,” Ray said softly.

I think he does.

***

CODA

Sometime in May, 2001

I fucking love this bike. It took me enough time to track another one down that’s just in as good a shape as the other one had been, but spring in Chicago sucks big time, no point in owning a bike in March anyway. It’s still a bit cold– hell, May in Chicago isn’t exactly a place for a summer vacation. But it’s warm enough to drive a bike and it hasn’t rained all week.

I wipe the old rag over the controls again. They are already gleaming, but I can’t stop touching them. It took a lot of work, replacing old parts and polishing up others before this baby looked like it does now. She’s a beauty.

The seat is comfortable; I bet I can spend a good many hours on the road on her. The leather is warm. My old white t-shirt is already streaked with specks of oil – I wanted to throw it away anyway. The jeans aren’t in a much better state, frayed at the edges and torn in a million places, but nothing could bring me to throw them out.

I hear the door and my head whips around. Fraser is leaning against the door jamb that leads to the hallway of my apartment building. This garage belongs to Mrs. Kaczorowski, but since her husband died she hasn’t been using it except for storage, so I’m allowed to use it now. The bike would just rot away to a pile of rusted metal if I exposed it to the Chicago street life.

“Hey,” I greet him. Fraser has that silently intense thing going and I shiver. I can’t help it. It just turns my crank when he goes all quiet and determined. “Did I miss the time?”

Fraser shakes his head. “No, not at all. I thought I could help you christen your new motorbike.”

I laugh. Yeah, maybe one could put it that way. I haven’t driven the bike once since I bought it and I had planned to do so after one final polish.

Fraser pushes away from the wall and straddles the bike behind me. His arms come around me, warm hands settle over my stomach. I lean back against him and smile lazily.

“Thought you wanted to help me?”

Fraser mouth is right up next to my ear and his voice is a low murmur when he answers. “I didn’t say I wanted to help you clean it.”

“No, you said—hah—” I gasp when his hands sneak beneath my shirt. “You said christening.” Fraser’s hands are everywhere. His lips explore my neck, my throat, the curve of my jaw. “So you were listening,” Fraser deducts and I swear the bastard is laughing.

It’s a good thing— for the most part. It took a while for Fraser to feel comfortable enough to tease me, to just do something he wants, to have fun. To touch me, kiss me, take me, own me, without asking after every inch he claimed.

Clever fingers pinch my nipple as his sharp tooth, the one at the corner, makes intimate with the shell of my ear. I writhe, I give up. With a moan I let myself rest with my full weight against him, knowing he can support my light frame easily. I love that about him.

He taught me a lot as well. I didn’t have any problems to let loose in the bedroom or to just put my hands on him when I felt like it. No, I was constantly trying to figure out if it was enough, if I was doing it right. But Fraser… He gets uneasy if you fuss too much, if you try too hard to accommodate him. Makes him polite and rub that eyebrow clean off his face. It makes him think he doesn’t fit in if you bend over backwards.

The one time I tried to make an effort and went out of my way to clean this pig sty of an apartment – just because he always makes the extra effort to put clean linen on the bed and to straighten the pillows and whatnot – I didn’t even manage to get the word ‘surprise’ over my lips before Fraser was on me, checking for head wounds. So I stopped trying so hard and he finally relaxed.

Trust Fraser, really, to miss all the big grand gestures. But if you make this soup now and then, the one you know he really likes even though you really don’t care for it, then he’ll plant these sloppy kisses on you and he can’t stop smiling and you almost have to tie him to the table to eat the damn soup before he can show his appreciation in a much more hands-on approach. And Fraser, he’s nothing if not physical – funny, how I always thought words were his thing.

Fraser’s teeth close over the sensitive skin of my throat, making my pulse point jump. I moan, pressing into his hands.

“You’re thinking,” he murmurs into the skin of my neck, “I can practically hear you. What is so important?”

It’s not accusing. Curious, maybe. Interested.

“You,” I mumble. His fingertips are bringing every inch of me to life. I swear I can feel my blood vibrating in my veins. It’s probably chanting his name. I have no moderation when it comes to love. Or sex.

“Mhm,” he seems to consider this. Gentle fingers grip my jaw and angle my head towards his face. My eyes close before his lips even meet mine. God, his tongue in my mouth makes me throb with need. Wet and perfect and everywhere, fucking keen tongue and nothing polite about it, it’s demanding and greedy and overpowering. I groan and give myself to the kiss – as if I ever had a choice.

I moan and clutch at his thigh when Fraser’s warm hand settles over my groin, a firm pressure on the almost worn through denim of my jeans. I break the kiss— I need air and I gasp, panting for breath as Fraser leisurely continues to press and release his hand over my straining erection.

I know my lips are wet from the kiss but I don’t care and a split second later, Fraser licks my lips – as if he’s hoping to catch a last taste. A shudder wrecks me and I hear a low moan coming from Fraser, the first sign that this is affecting him just as much as it is me.

Fraser’s really good at keeping his cool but it only goes so far. I love it almost violently when he takes care of me first and gets so worked up and horny about it that he’s way past being gentle and caring, just this big ball of need and want and— greed, god, Fraser’s hunger is frightening in its perfection.

It’s almost a sob, the sound that comes out of my mouth and Fraser presses me tighter to him with one hand while his other starts unbuttoning my jeans. The fabric is soft from long use and it’s got an old-fashioned button-fly.

Fraser doesn’t even need more than one hand to get it open, after the first one the rest just pop open with a slight stretch of the denim and I moan – disappointed at the lack of pressure, relieved that there’s one layer of clothing less to deal with.

Fraser’s jeans have to be killing him – but he’s a sucker for self-torture. It really shouldn’t be such a turn-on, but it makes me push just that little bit further to see how long he can make himself wait for it.

I push my hip up-up-up, wanting his hand back on me and Fraser has the nerve to chuckle before he licks a wet stripe up my neck—I hope he’ll bite me. I think it’s something he learned from Dief, but I don’t care, it makes me go cross-eyed every time he does it.

Both hands move south to grip the elastic of my boxer briefs. I hope this is going where I think it is. I lift my hips again and Fraser pulls the elastic down, shoves it down my jeans as best as he can, fondling my balls with one hand and I moan, can’t help the tremor that wobbles down my right leg.

I can feel Fraser’s smirk against my throat. He bunches the soft cotton of my underwear underneath my balls, nestling it all snug and tight right below them and it stretches the fabric close to breaking point, pulling my balls up and forward and I almost choke on the moan as I feel the strain moving all the way up through my cock.

The first drop beads at the tip and my legs shake worse, the tension is too much, keeping this strangely half-upright half-leaning position. So I drop backwards and Fraser is right there to catch me. My jeans pull tight again and the damn boxers push my cock out even further, easily doubling the pressure underneath my balls.

I gasp and gasp, trying to get used to the tightness, it’s good—it’s sweet pressure but I—I can’t not think about it, not when I can feel my balls throb with every beat of my heart. As if every push of blood through my veins ripples against the fabric pressed snugly against them.

I feel open in more ways than one, with Fraser pressed against my back – unreachable and for the most part also invisible – and the leather of the bike between my legs, spreading them.

I’m sure Fraser can smell my arousal over all the fuel and oil and leather.

I rake my fingers over the denim that covers his thigh, I’ll probably leave streaks of grime and oil on him but Fraser doesn’t care about neatness, not when he gets like this.

I feel the burn of his fingers, sliding tantalizingly over the inside of my own thigh, all the way up to my groin and back down again. I don’t want to beg – not so soon – but I can’t keep the whimper inside.

The hand travels up and down again… Slowly. Deliberately. He wants me to pay close attention. And I do—hell, nothing else I notice I’m so focused on his fucking hand. God, I’m so hard and Fraser is generating heat like nobody’s business. But he’s got more patience than me, damn masochistic Mountie training.

After the hand makes its journey for the third time I give up. “Touch me,” I rasp and once the words get out, I can’t stop. “Come on, Fraser, come on—touch me, Ben, you gotta touch me,” I’m rambling but I don’t care. He wants it vocalized? I can do that.

He moves his hand up, fondles my balls—taking his sweet time about it— and I—I’m almost sobbing with it. Panting for him to touch my dick, make me lose it— hell, even I can smell the sex in here at this point.

Ngh,” Jesus, I’m so crazy with it. Been a while that he’s been this dedicated.

Fraser’s strong fingers curl around my aching dick—finally, thank god, finally— and I moan, the ache just this side of really good and I feel my nuts throbbing, being bound tight to my body the way Fraser arranged it.

“So good,” I croak and a warm gust of air puffs against my neck so Fraser’s really, really into this. I can feel him rubbing against me, just so, just a slight hitch of his hips against my ass and I wish we were in my bedroom now so that he could follow through on what his hips are telling me.

But Fraser’s jacking me, slowly, all the way from the root to the tip – where he stops – and then he moves back down again, so slowly I’m sure it’s gonna kill me but instead, my hips pick up his rhythm, moving with him in this really slow slide, and I can feel my teeth ache with the need of it but it’s so-so-so good and I never want it to stop.

My breathing sounds wet, long sighs and small whimpers on the exhale, a shuddering breath when I inhale, I can hear the air as I suck it in, eagerly, can’t help it. But I can hear Fraser and he’s panting, trying to keep it real low and steady, but I spent nights listening to every minor sound he makes and this is Fraser trying real hard to hold on.

I drop my head back onto his shoulder and my lips part on their own volition. Fraser’s tongue invades my mouth hungrily as soon as my face is close enough. I moan into the kiss, Fraser’s tongue is mirroring the movement of his hand, this slow, steady slide, and I feel it rising up with every twist of his hand.

My hips move in this really shallow circle, just pushing again and again and –god— I feel the shudder moving through me and I twist my mouth away as I gasp for air, a needy sound rising up my throat because the need just keeps on climbing, the damn cotton is trapping it all in my balls and I’m so desperate for it, I want—I need—God

“Fraser—Frase—Ben—I—”

But he gets it, grunts into my ear and grips my dick tighter, moving his hand faster, really short, harsh pulls. But it’s enough, enough to finally drag me over the edge despite the tension and I cry out, feels like I’m shooting off worth a lifetime, the pull so strong I shudder with it.

All muscles pulled tight, but my head is still resting against his shoulder, panting open-mouthed and I have no idea where I’m taking the air to moan from.

My hips finally slow down as his hand moves me through the last jerks. Fraser is panting into my ear and I would like nothing better than for him to just go for it, push me forward and have his way with me, I don’t care. He can take me right here, on the motorcycle. I don’t care if we crash this thing. Hell, I want to taste him so bad I can taste it on my tongue.

Fraser’s arm keeps me protectively cradled against his chest. He wipes his hand on one of the rags that I dropped when this party began. “I love you,” he growls and I nod, yes, I know that.

Jesus, love you, too,” I murmur, helpless to gather more strength to my voice.

He takes a shuddering breath. “I’ll be waiting upstairs for you when you get back from your first ride.”

I try shaking my head, no way am I letting him hanging like that. But he continues talking. “Yes, you will. And you will think of me waiting for you back here. And you’ll drive safely, with all the necessary caution and you won’t put yourself in danger. I need you back in one piece.” It sounds like an order.

But he’s speaking so softly, I think he’s probably been secretly worrying about me driving the bike since I bought it.

I swallow dryly. God, I can’t drive like this. Not when I’ll be thinking about Fraser in bed, turned-on and horny, waiting for me to come back.

I half-turn in his embrace. I need to feel his lips, the connection, his need and want – no one ever needed me like Fraser does. And isn’t that mind-blowing? The one guy who doesn’t really need anything?

I kiss Fraser, a little clumsily maybe, but I feel still weak in the knees. Fraser moans in the kiss before he gently pulls back. “Please,” he nuzzles my temple and I deflate, all my protests and good arguments die on my tongue.

“Alright,” I whisper. “…You didn’t say I had to take her for a long ride, right?” I ask, a smile tugging on my lips.

God, no!” Fraser says with feeling. I chuckle. We’re on the same page here.

Fraser stands up, adjusts himself in his jeans and I feel another flicker of desire for him. “Be careful,” he says before he moves to the door that leads to the hallway.

I nod. “Count on it.”

It’s not even half an hour later when I pull back into the driveway and park the bike in the garage again. I’ve already removed the helmet and switched off the light in the garage before I realize that I’m humming.

No particular song, not that I know. More like a melody, but one I know… One I’ve known for ever, it feels like it. “Di da-da… da… di-di da…dam” I hum along. It’s soothing— I know this damn song…

I move up the stairs, still humming.

The melody kinda reminds me of snow and Canada… and… warmth? I shake my head. Why do none of my Canadian memories ever make any sense? Maybe the hypothermia had gone to my head after all?

“Di da-da… da… di-di da…dam” I repeat the melody again. But I can’t shake it, I’m still thinking of snow and warmth and… Fraser. Huh. Maybe that explains the warmth-thing? Fraser is always warm. Even in the middle of a freaking ice field.

I get the door to my apartment open. There is a gentle glow of light coming from the bedroom where the door is slightly ajar.

It doesn’t matter how I know this melody, I decide. All that matters is that Fraser is right here, waiting for me.

Because being with Fraser that’s… something else.

***

FADE-OUT

25th of May, 2001

Being with Ray is

liberating.

***

The End

Notes:

The two bars at the beginning I’ve used to explain “Da Capo al fine” with are also the notes to the lullaby Fraser sings and that Ray later remembers.

The bike is the same Joshua Jackson drives in the Canadian movie One Week. In this movie, the protagonist finds out that he has stage IV cancer. He buys this bike and begins a quest to find an answer to the only question that matters: What’s really important in the end, when it comes right down to it?
I thought it fitting for Ray to be attracted to the same bike to find his own answer to this question.

And who was confused about the metaphor that a memory could hit someone as hard as a sperm whale hitting the ground? Can I please see a show of hands? Ah, I see. Go read “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” or – if you don’t have the time – watch the movie. There is nothing more to it than that I liked the comparison, and that a sperm whale at approximately 40 tons would make one hell of an impact should he ever be dropped to the ground from any kind of height.