Boy, he would really miss coming home to find Fraser there once he went back to work. Sure, Fraser wouldn’t do whole shifts in the beginning, but until he could come back to the 27th with him it would still be a while and it was… nice, in a way, to have him around all the time.

“Frase?” Ray peered into the empty living room.

“In here,” came the calm reply from the bedroom.

Ray draped his jacket over the back of the couch and went to the bedroom. Fraser sat propped against the pillows with a book next to him and a plate with a green something in his lap.

Dief got up from the floor to greet Ray and he bent down to ruffle his fur for a moment.

“Hey, furface, what did I miss?”

Dief yawned and Ray grinned.

“Really? Gee, color me shocked.”

“I told him no one was forcing him to keep me company, but I think I offended his caring nature,” Fraser explained. Dief raised his tail high and stalked out of the bedroom.

“Uh-huh.” Ray was not getting into the middle of a Fraser-wolf argument; he always lost. He really couldn’t explain it either.

“What’cha eating?” Ray asked with a nod at the green fruit.

“Oh, it’s a mango. Diefenbaker and I found a little grocery store on our walk and I couldn’t resist. It’s almost too early in the year for them, but they smelled heavenly and this one is really surprisingly good,” Fraser explained, cutting another slice off.

Ray smiled. Fraser had always handled a knife with such self-assurance and he looked again quite at ease, juice dripping over his fingers, as he skillfully cut slice after slice off the fruit. Ben had really no idea that he looked good enough to eat.

“Would you like to try a piece?” Fraser asked, cutting a chunk off and offering it to him in one smooth movement

It really did smell good, Ray concluded. He nodded and knelt down on the bed. Instead of taking the offered fruit, though, Ray caught Ben’s hand and held it in place so that the knife stayed carefully out of the way and he could bite a bit off.

Thoughtfully, Ray chewed.

“Good?” Fraser asked with a pleased smile.

Ray licked his lips. “Hell, yeah.”

Fraser had been about to pop the rest of the slice into his own mouth when Ray went after it, grabbing Ben’s hand again to steal the second half of the slice from between his fingers with his mouth.

This was really good. Why had he never tried this before? Ray was still holding on to Fraser’s fingers so he went after the rest of the juice. He licked a path up Fraser’s thumb and into the groove where thumb and index finger met.

Carefully, Ray skirted the knife that Fraser was still holding to lap up the juice that was trickling from the butt of the knife into the palm of Fraser’s hand.

Ray had always loved Ben’s hands. Covered in mango they were even better, who’d have thought? Ray smiled to himself and continued to clean Fraser’s hand. He took the knife from an unresisting Fraser and sucked the juice from his two remaining fingers.

Ben should eat more mangoes, Ray concluded. He might even prefer to eat them from Ben’s hands.

Only when Fraser’s heavy breathing registered with his ears did Ray notice that Ben had become awfully quiet. Puzzled, Ray opened his mouth a little to release Fraser’s fingers, pink tongue sliding along the skin.

A strangled moan left Fraser’s lips and Ray was suddenly overpowered by a full-body shiver. God… he hadn’t heard him make that sound since—

Ray’s eyes went up to meet Fraser’s startling blue ones. Ben’s lips were slightly parted and his tongue came out to wet his lips.

“…Ray…” Fraser croaked and—oh, hello, long time no see, Ray thought when he had to shift to make some room for his hard-on. He’d gotten so good at ignoring this most of the time.

Ben’s hand cradled the back of his head and the next thing Ray knew a pushy tongue was finding its way into his mouth. Jesus… oh… they hadn’t…god… they hadn’t kissed—not like—not like this! A whimper escaped his lips. Frase…

Warm fingers moved underneath his shirt, roaming over his skin, and his cock twitched happily inside of his pants and Fraser broke the kiss with a quiet growl of regret. His hands found the hem of Ray’s sweater, though, and next thing Ray knew he was already half undressed.

“Ben…” Ray murmured with a racing heart.

Fraser’s eyes were so blue… he took Ray’s hands in his and pulled them into his lap. “Ray…” the urgency in his voice took Ray’s breath away as he let Fraser press his hands against his groin. Ray’s had snapped up. His fingers moved over the well-worn material of Fraser’s sweats, feeling the bulge underneath. He was hard. “You—”

He never got to finish that thought because Fraser’s tongue was back, demanding and fucking perfect. Quick fingers popped the button on Ray’s fly and moved the zipper down. Ray wanted to sob with gratitude, but there wasn’t enough breath left for that. He moved up on his knees to get rid of the rest of his clothes, feeling Fraser’s hands on every inch of skin.

“Help me out of this,” Fraser murmured, heaving himself up so that Ray could pull the sweats off. And before Frase could do it himself, Ray had his hands on Ben’s shirt to wrestle it over his head.

Ben’s hair was mussed and his chest was rising and falling rapidly. There was too much want on his face to make room for a smile, but his eyes held enough emotions that words were kind of unnecessary.

“Do you want—” Fraser’s voice was scratchy and Ray was too impatient to answer stupid questions. He moved closer, settling in Fraser’s lap and he kissed him again. Deeper—more—more—he moved his hips a little, rubbing their cocks together just so and Fraser made a desperate sound, like something starving, so Ray repeated the motion.

He felt Ben move, lean to the left to grope for something, but Ray had never been good at multi-tasking and just kissing Ben would’ve been enough to keep his remaining brain cell busy— and Ben wasn’t even playing fair, gently rubbing the palm of his hand over the head of Ray’s cock again and again so that Ray was mostly really along for the ride, bye-bye control.

But that was okay, that was more than okay, that was greatness because this was Ben’s show and if he wanted to touch Ray all over then by all means. Ray could go with the popular choice.

Slippery fingers dipped between his cheeks and Ray bit at Fraser’s lips with an embarrassingly needy moan. Sensitive—Jesus—he’d not been touched there in forever and nerves seemed to have a notoriously bad memory, as if they couldn’t remember at all that this must’ve felt just this fucking perfect the last time Ben had done this to him.

Two fingers slipped in and Ray gasped, moving up only to move back against them and Fraser’s breathing was way out of control—or maybe that was Ray’s own? He couldn’t tell—it was just—”so good…” he gasped and Fraser nodded breathlessly, capturing his lips again.

The slide of Ray’s hips became more fluent and Fraser withdrew his fingers to pull him closer. Ray moaned quietly when the blunt tip pressed against his entrance.

So long—it had been so long—carefully, Ray pressed back, taking in inch by inch until he could settle in Ben’s lap.

“Ray—” Fraser’s wrung out moan made Ray’s cock twitch in sympathy. He began to move, feeling Fraser move inside of him. “God…” he moaned and suddenly, Fraser’s fingers hooked into his bracelet, pulling Ray’s hand to his lips.

“Ohhh…” Ben and his stupid kink for his bracelet, Ray gasped for breath as Ben’s tongue explored the smooth metal. He’d lose his mind over this— but it didn’t look as if Fraser was far behind.

“Ray—” he pleaded as Ray pressed down again. “Yeah…” Ray gasped. “Fuck—” Fraser’s fingers closed around Ray’s neglected erection and Ray gritted his teeth, picking up the pace of his hips and—he had to—hold on—he wanted to make Ben come—he—

Fraser bucked, pulling Ray tight against him and down, with a moan that seemed to be torn from him. Fraser’s grip on his cock tightened and Ray bit his lip, pushing up, soso close—so—”Ben—” Ray sobbed with relief as he followed Ben into his climax.

Fraser’s hands gentled on him and soft lips pressed to Ray’s.  Ray was one boneless heap of nerve-cells. Ben lifted him a little, pulling out as gently as he could, and then he toppled Ray over, flopping him onto his back.

Ray’s hands came up to hold him close. Oh yeah… sweaty Fraser… there was really nothing like it, Ray thought as he looked up at Fraser leaning over him.  His eyes were all soft, but Ray could make out that crooked tooth behind Fraser’s half-smile and he knew that this was the look of a Mountie who got the canary but good.

“Guh…” Ray added eloquently.

Fraser’s eyes sparkled with mirth.

They lay entangled for a while longer until Ray’s stomach began to rumble. Fraser chuckled.

“I’ll take a quick shower and then I’ll order something for dinner, do you have any preferences?”

“Anything’s fine,” Ray murmured. He thought Fraser was the one not used to having a hard-on anymore and if anyone should be lying in bed it was him, but Fraser seemed to be so fucking pleased with having reduced Ray to this state that it really wasn’t in him to point it out.

Ben pulled Ray close again and kissed him. “I love you,” he said when he released him again.

Ray smiled. “I love you, too, Benton Fraser.” God, he would never tire of this man.

With another kiss, Ben vanished into the bathroom and Ray flopped back onto the bed.

He could hear the water running and grinned like an idiot. Ben was back.

At first, Ray didn’t even notice the noise and when he finally did hear the knocking he had problems figuring out why he heard it.

Who the hell would be knocking on their door? And now, of all times?

Ray groaned and debated ignoring it. But the knocking was pretty insistent so Ray figured the person on the other side of the door must’ve taken a page out of Fraser’s book when it came to stubborness.

He grabbed a couple of tissues to get at least most of the mess from his chest and stomach cleaned up and then he fished for his shirt and pants.

“Yeah—yeah, I got it,” he called in the direction of the hallway.

When he finally flung the door open he wasn’t at all prepared for what greeted him.

“You have the worst timing ever, Vecchio,” Ray scowled.

Vecchio looked exasperated. “You’re honestly telling me this? I’ve been here since half an hour ago—you two do realize that your walls aren’t soundproof, right?”

Ray felt the tips of his ear heat. He refused to be embarrassed about this—not when it had taken Fraser months to get there.

“How did you even get into the building?” he asked instead.

Vecchio smirked.

“Don’t tell me you two are so busy between the sheets all the time that you don’t even know the front door doesn’t lock anymore?”

Oh. Right. Ray had wanted to do something about that… sometime.

Attack was the best defense, right?

“If you heard us half an hour ago why the hell didn’t you come back some other time?” Ray said—he didn’t whine; Kowalski’s didn’t do whining… even if it sounded exactly like it.

Vecchio rolled his eyes.

“Benny’s in the hospital, I’m gone for months, and you honestly think I’d drive by without seeing him?”

Way to be dramatic, Ray thought. Months… well, maybe…

“Aren’t you going to ask me in?” Vecchio asked pointedly and Ray sighed and stepped back to let him enter. Vecchio wrinkled his nose at him, still smirking.

“Just—can you not tease Fraser about this?” Ray really didn’t want Ben to feel bad about this. Not after everything they’ve been through to get there.

“You think I’ll talk to Benny about this?” Vecchio asked pointedly.

Ray grinned a little. “Right you are. He’ll be out of the shower in no time.”

Fraser really didn’t take longer than a few minutes more.

“Ray, I thought I heard—Ray!” Fraser exclaimed with a sudden smile as he saw Ray Vecchio sitting on the couch. “You’re here early—I didn’t expect you for another two days.”

“Surprise,” Vecchio grinned broadly and stood up to hug him.

Ray reminded himself that Vecchio had married Stella and there was really no reason to envy the warm welcome he was getting.

He went to grab a shower. This would be a long night.

Ray waited in front of the hospital when Fraser came out.

Surprise registered on Fraser’s face before he smiled. “Ray, you didn’t have to give me a ride. I can walk,” the smile turned into something very much like a grin and Ray’s heart had never felt so light. Yeah, Ben could walk.

“You kidding? I’m so used to you riding shotgun I might suffer from withdrawal. Besides, today was your last session. I wanted to be there at the finish line.”

“Thank you,” Fraser opened the car door and got in. Ray shook his head; watching Ben walk so casually was just a sight he really had to get used to again. No one who saw him now would’ve guessed that he hadn’t even been able to stand by himself just a few months back.

Ray had a question that was almost burning through his tongue, but he didn’t want to spoil the mood and he knew that Fraser would frown again and tell him it was all in his head anyway so he held it in.

—until they were home and Fraser was about to get dressed. In uniform. Christmas was coming early this year. He hadn’t seen Fraser in his serge since shortly before the surgery, and he could only imagine how much this must mean to him.

Turnbull had almost broken his neck getting everything spotless and shining in the Consulate for Fraser’s return and Ray had promised Welsh another night shift if he got half the day off to come get Fraser from his therapy session and take him to work… just like he had always done in the past in the mornings.

Welsh had rubbed his chin and mused that Ray was supposed to investigate a break-in and wasn’t the Consulate almost on the way, what a coincidence. He really owed the Lieutenant.

Fraser laid all the bits and pieces of his uniform out on the bed with a fond look on his face.

“Was Craig sorry to see you go?” Ray bit his lip. Damn it, now it was out anyway. He really hadn’t wanted to ask.

Fraser seemed to freeze for a second in the middle of fastening his jodhpurs. “Ah,” he pulled at his collar and Ray jumped up to look at his face.

“Ah what? Spit it out—what did he do?”

The tips of Fraser’s ears went red. He reached for his Henley and bought some time getting it on. When his face resurfaced he answered. “Now that I, ah, am not his patient anymore, that is, he asked, well…” Fraser looked uncomfortable.

Ray’s eyes widened. “He came on to you! I fucking knew it!”

“Ray,” Fraser cautioned and pulled his serge on.

“Spill—did he try to kiss you? God—” Ray ran a hand through his hair in a haphazard manner. “All this time—I told you he was getting off on touching you.”

Fraser closed the buttons of the serge with a stern look in Ray’s direction. Jesus—this was not supposed to be hot, Ray knew that.

It shouldn’t even be a turn-on to watch Ben getting dressed—if anything it should go in the other direction. But watching him getting back into his Mountie-self did unmentionable things to Ray’s ability to concentrate.

“Don’t be silly, Ray. He did not try to kiss me. He merely inquired if I would be interested in having dinner with him, thinking I would appreciate some, ah,” he licked his lips, “stimulating conversation.”

“Stimulating conversation?” Ray deadpanned. That was the educated equivalent of asking ‘wanna fuck?’

“He offered nothing of the sort,” Fraser answered with a frown. Oops, Ray should really watch which thought he let escape out of his mouth.

Fraser tightened the Sam Browne and straightened his lanyard and Ray had to swallow his reply together with the excess of saliva that was suddenly pooling in his mouth.

God… you’d think after all this time Ray should’ve known how much he loved Ben in his uniform… the things you never knew about yourself. He guessed it had always been such a fixture that he had never thought about it. Now, seeing Fraser in his usual getup, Ray was aware that there had been something missing all this time.

Fraser turned around to face Ray and pulled him close with very determined hands.

That kiss was a definite promise of more to come—at least Ray hoped he was translating this correctly. Fraser’s fingers stayed on his face even after he had pulled away.

“I don’t remember letting Craig lick juice off my fingers,” Fraser said pointedly with a small smile.

Which, of course, simply derailed Ray’s thought anew because—Jesus—that had to be his hottest memory in the category ‘just in’.

“Uh…” Ray mumbled.

The laugh lines around Fraser’s eyes deepened.

“I find your person more than stimulating enough,” he murmured and it almost sounded like some form of confession and Ray thought, aww hell, if the Mountie started talking dirty now Ray would have to call Thatcher and tell her that Fraser couldn’t come in anytime soon.

“Do you trust me?” Fraser asked, biting his lip with a questioning look at Ray.

Ray felt ten times of stupid. Of course he did… so what if Craig wanted in Ben’s pants? Wasn’t as if Ray couldn’t sympathize with that. But Ben was right here with Ray no matter how many months Craig had whispered dirty poetry into his ear.

Ray grinned. “Partners.”

Fraser’s eyes softened and he caught Ray’s lips for another kiss. “There are red ships and green ships, Ray,” he answered with barely suppressed amusement and Ray rolled his eyes with a grin. “Shove off, Fraser.”

“It’s about time, Corporal.”

Fraser nodded with a small smile at the Inspector. Even though her voice was as professional as always her features had softened.

“I’m glad to be back,” he replied earnestly.

“Imagine my relief after months with only Constable Turnbull for assistance,” she replied dryly. And Corporal?”

“Yes, Sir?”

“Try not to get involved with anything weird before lunch. Dismissed,” she smiled warmly at him and Fraser bowed with a hint of a smile himself.

Fraser looked around his office and felt transported back in time. Nothing had changed—it all looked exactly like it always had. It was so easy to fall back into the old sense of familiarity. He smoothed a hand down his serge. It was good to be back.

He wondered what Ray was doing at the moment—that reminded him… Ray had snuck something into his pocket after his jealous display. Fraser smiled and shook his head. He reached into his pants and frowned when his fingers closed around something small and flat.

He pulled his hand out and stared at the blue buttons in his palm. This was a button from his shirt—the shirt they had ruined in a rather heated, well, discussion. But they hadn’t managed to find the buttons again; they must’ve rolled underneath some piece of furniture—of course! When Ray had made room for the wheelchair that must’ve been when he found them.

All this time then… he must’ve carried them around with him. Smiling, Fraser put them back into his pocket. He was already looking forward to seeing Ray later.

Fraser was standing right in the middle of the room when Ray came home.

When Ray saw him, a smile appeared on his lips. “Hey there,” he called and Fraser took a deep breath and fully turned around.

“You never listen to me,” he accused Ray and had the pleasure of watching Ray’s mouth drop open. “It’s always the same with you. I’m only trying to keep you safe and you’re not making this any easier.”

Ray gaped at him, completely at a loss for words.

“Do you want to get yourself killed? Is that it? Because I swear to God I can’t watch out for you if you’re not cooperating,” Fraser continued angrily while Ray spluttered.

Ray put a hand to his temple and seemed to steady himself. After he had calmed himself down he came up to Fraser and reached out for his hand.

“Ben… are you…” and Ray didn’t seem to know what the right word was. “Okay?” he asked finally. “I mean… did anything happen? Did—did you suffer a blow to the head or something?” Ray asked carefully.

Finally, Fraser couldn’t take anymore. His shoulders shook with silent laughter as he reached into his pocket to pull the buttons out. He held them in front of Ray’s face and tried to contain his smile.

Ray’s eyes widened and his incredulous expression turned to an exasperated grin.

“You’re an asshole, you know that?” Ray gasped with relief. “God, I thought you had a head injury or something. My next question would’ve been what day you thought it was,” he shook his head. “So that was what we were fighting about back then?”

“Yes,” Fraser smiled. “I took your part this time, obviously.”

“Thought you would have it memorized,” Ray admitted. “Did it help?”

Fraser was confused. “Did what help?”

Ray shrugged a little awkwardly. “The buttons… I… they kinda reminded me of—of how our fight ended—you know? And I… I kept them as a good luck charm and thought you could use a bit of luck…” Ray finished, red in the face.

“Oh, Ray,” Fraser murmured and pulled Ray close. He smelled heavenly and Fraser buried his face in Ray’s neck. Ray’s hands came around him to dig into his back and Fraser had to kiss him again, taste him again—he wanted to feel Ray.

His hands explored Ray’s body, trying to memorize every dip and curve of it. Ray groaned. “That—that time with the mango—was that—was that just another of these—these aberrations?” he gasped and Fraser pulled back a little to shake his head.

It was apparently all Ray had waited for to start his own exploration.

“God… Frase…” Ray moaned, closing the gap to kiss him.

A trail of clothes led the way into the bedroom and Ray’s hands never stopped touching him. They wandered over his chest, down his back, gripping his arms—stroking his legs and Ray pushed him back onto the mattress with another kiss.

“Please… please let me touch you… I missed you so much…” Ray murmured, trailing kisses down his body and Fraser understood. This was a different type of touching, not the same as they had done since his careful recovery. This was Ray intent on arousing him, allowed to touch him with intent, without hesitation…

Ray kissed the tip of his erection and Fraser took a hasty breath. Ray’s mouth opened, enveloping him in wet heat and Fraser gripped the sheet tightly between clenched fists.

Slow, so sweet and slow, Ray sucked him. Fraser’s breathing was reduced to a shuddering intake of air. He felt Ray’s tongue exploring the head and a needy whimper made Fraser tremble.

Ray abandoned his cock and Fraser moaned low in his throat.

“I want to do something for you,” Ray whispered. “Turn around.”

Nodding, Fraser turned on his front, stretching out on the bed. Gently, Ray’s strong hands settled on his shoulders, expertly kneading the muscles underneath his skin.

Fraser’s erection was pulsing softly and he bit his lip to keep from rubbing against the sheet.

Ray’s hands slowly worked their way down his spine—and then they stopped, framing the scar from the surgery.

Without meaning to, Fraser held his breath. He felt Ray bending down as the tips of his hair tickled Fraser’s back.

“Benton Fraser,” Ray murmured, barely audible. It sounded like ‘I love you,’ Fraser thought in wonder, when he felt Ray’s lips touch the scar.

He gasped—images assaulted him; the noble knight, kissing the blade to swear allegiance; the crusader, kissing the hilt of the sword prepared to die in battle—“Ray…” Fraser moaned helplessly. Ray’s tongue flicked out, tracing his mark—Fraser groaned into the sheet. When had it become Ray’s mark? It had always been Victoria’s mark—but, somewhere along the way, it had changed.

His whole body had caught fire. Ray’s sure hands moved lower, gripping his ass and spreading the cheeks a little, as his tongue trailed one hot line down from the scar at the dip of his spine.

“Oh… God,” Fraser moaned when Ray’s tongue circled the small opening.  Ray took his time, his tongue skirted away again only to come back ever more dedicated, opening him up until Fraser was a sobbing mess, trying – and failing – to keep from searching friction for his throbbing erection.

Ray murmured soothingly, adding wet fingers to the sensation, and Fraser was shaking, trying to hang on to this feeling—he had forgotten how erotic a touch could be, how intimate, and scary, and open this felt.

“Please…” he murmured weakly, spreading his legs further.

He heard Ray’s shuddering breath as he slicked himself up and Fraser raised his hips. Ray moaned brokenly. “Ben… God…” He gripped Fraser’s hips, Fraser could feel the scar right in the middle between Ray’s hands, and then Ray pushed, nudging in slowly and steadily.

Fraser felt like falling apart. There was just so much… to feel… to—“Oh my god, Ray…” he moaned. The rhythm Ray had set was slow, gentle—an endless slide of his hips—a pleasure so intense it was like floating, there was nothing else to feel.

“Ben… “ Ray murmured in a low voice and he reached around, trailing teasing fingers over Fraser’s dripping cock.

“Ah—” Fraser gasped, biting his lips. Slow was killing him, gentle was not enough, he wanted to feel Ray’s strength—the desperation he put into things—he needed—

“God, yeah…” Ray groaned and Fraser had no idea if he had been rambling aloud or if Ray had read it in the line of his body, but Ray gripped his hips tighter and then he slammed in, using Fraser’s body to absorb the shock—and Fraser was all too willing. “More—” Fraser croaked.

The pace was furious and Fraser could barely draw enough breath—falling—blind—and it didn’t even matter—he was hurtling towards the edge, closer every time he felt Ray move inside of him, and it was all too much—there was too much—and his body shook with the sudden force of his climax.

He groaned, feeling all the muscles tense in his body with no hand ever touching his erection, and Ray was strangling his name as he came inside of him.

Shaking, Fraser’s arms gave way underneath him and he collapsed. “Stay,” he gasped breathlessly as Ray made a move to pull away. He didn’t want to lose this connection just yet. Ray tightened his grip on him and pressed against his back. He could feel Ray’s cock twitch inside of him and he tensed, wringing another low moan from Ray.

After a while, Ray said quietly, “I’m sorry for… you know, touching it—I just,” Fraser felt him shrug. “I couldn’t help it.”

“It’s fine,” Fraser said with a shake of his head. He turned around, feeling Ray slip out, but it was a small price to pay to see the look on his face. There was so much tenderness written there.

“I have the feeling this ordeal wasn’t without merit.”

Ray frowned. “Where was the merit in you spending months in a wheelchair?” he asked doubtfully.

This wasn’t as easy to explain out loud as he would’ve liked.

“No, I just…” he took Ray’s hand. “All my scars and old injuries… they are all a part of me, they are the sum of experiences that made me who I am and… they led me to where I am now,” he squeezed Ray’s hand. “I wouldn’t care to be anywhere else… and for that I think it was inevitable to leave the bullet wound behind me.”

“So… did you put it behind you? The whole thing?” Ray asked in a small voice.

“Yes, I—I finally understood some things,” he said with quiet self-assurance. Fraser took Ray’s hand and placed it on his back. Hesitantly, Ray’s fingers found the scar again. A languorous shiver shook Fraser; it was a strangely intimate touch.

Ray watched his expression and quirked an eyebrow. “I think I like it,” he grinned in a husky voice. Before Fraser could protest, Ray’s lips were already covering his again.

“So the whole thing with the bowling alley is legit?” Ray asked skeptically as he and Fraser walked next to each other on their way to grab some lunch.

Fraser rubbed his eyebrow. “As far as I can tell, yes. Essentially, Ray Vecchio told me that things need to cool down a little after the Bookman investigation got jeopardized by our involvement and it’s better if he lays low for a while. Did you talk to Stella?”

“Hm… yeah…. I don’t—I don’t get it,” Ray shrugged. “She got wet over a career instead of children and now she’s giving all of it up to open a bowling alley? How does that make any sense?”

Fraser smiled. “I don’t think it’s about the bowling alley, Ray,” he said gently.

Ray scowled. “I know, I know. She’s doing it for Vecchio—does loving the guy make you stupid?”

Fraser cleared his throat. “I wouldn’t know, Ray. Not more than loving anyone else I would suppose. Think of what you would’ve given up to stay with me if I hadn’t recovered?”

“I never offered to open a bowling alley,” Ray pointed out with a shark’s grin.

“Ah, I see,” he replied as seriously as he could. He was about to add something when a shout reached his ears. “Ray—quick! Someone’s being robbed as we speak—” and he started to run in the direction of the scream.

He could see someone in a gray jacket bumping people in the crowd ahead of them.

Ray groaned and set off after him. “Fraser—wait—dammit! You couldn’t even walk two months ago, how come you’re still faster than I am?” Ray gasped as he sprinted behind him.

Fraser thought talking might have something to do with it and saved his breath until he had closed in on the pickpocket. He tackled him to the ground and a moment later Ray appeared and provided a pair of handcuffs.

Fraser looked up at Ray and was met with a crooked grin that he hadn’t seen for quite a while.

They took the perp back to the station and Welsh met them in the hall with a raised eyebrow.

“Who’s that?” He pointed to the man in handcuffs with a thumb.

“Uh, criminal—pickpocket,” Ray explained.

“Weren’t you on your way to lunch?” Welsh asked with a frown.

“Ah, yes, we were initially,” Fraser answered.

Welsh shook his head with something like amusement on his face. “It’s good to see you’re back, Corporal.”

“Thank you, Sir.”

Ray grinned. “Business as usual.”

“Oh, let’s not jump to the worst conclusion, Detective,” Welsh muttered moving along the corridor.

Ray thumped Fraser on the back, laughing.

Fraser was sitting on the couch reading a book when Ray switched off the TV and put some music on. A mellow song drifted through the speakers, emphasizing the approaching sunset outside.

He shut the book and watched as Ray dimmed the lights. Ray’s hair glowed underneath the string of chili-pepper lights.

With a soft smile, Ray walked up to him and held his hand out.

Fraser looked up at him and studied his relaxed features for a second. He would never be able to express with words how very grateful he was to have Ray at his side.

“Dance with me?” Ray asked quietly.

Fraser took his hand and stood up. He stepped up until they were almost touching and Ray placed his other hand on Fraser’s upper arm.

Fraser looked at Ray’s hand in surprise and moved his other hand to Ray’s shoulder.

“I’m leading?” he asked, a little lost.

Ray grinned at him. “You can try,” he replied softly. “I’m willing to follow,” he added quietly.

Fraser smiled. Ray had already proven that. He began to move.

He felt Ray’s warm, dry hand in his own and he couldn’t look away from Ray’s quiet smile as the melody drifted around them. It might look like he was the one leading, but it was Ray guiding them. Fraser wasn’t sure if he trusted Ray to follow the steps he was going to make because Ray anticipated them or if it was really him who chose the steps he anticipated Ray to make.

Ray’s happiness was radiant as they turned under the soft lighting, feet moving smoothly over the wooden floor, and the music reached its peak, lifting them up and Fraser angled his head to press his lips to Ray’s in a slow kiss.

The song was the same they had danced to countless times before. It was still the same apartment with the same red glow from the same chili-pepper lights. It was different and yet all the same.

They had reached the same spot where they had been before, only they weren’t the same people anymore. They had changed; the journey had changed them. It was the same and yet it wasn’t.

The track changed, morphing into another one, but neither of them noticed as they stood lost in an embrace in the middle of the living room, their lips touching where words failed. Yes, Ray thought, maybe Fraser was right and you simply needed to see some things through before you could be where you wanted to be.  And this here felt like the start of something good.

 The End