Fraser relaxed a little once he was alone. He was glad that Ray had already left when the nurse bustled in to prepare everything to insert the catheter. He knew it was a standard procedure… it just… he flushed. It was embarrassing and degrading and he rather Ray didn’t witness it.

He knew there was absolutely nothing about a catheter to be ashamed of, but he didn’t appreciate drawing attention to the fact that he couldn’t even relieve his bladder on his own anymore.

He didn’t want Ray to see him like this.

Fraser frowned at the bag hooked up on a stand next to his bed. Maybe he could drape a blanket over it so that Ray wouldn’t notice. He sighed… he should have expected this. He should have been better prepared.

Fraser lay staring at the ceiling for a long time. His right hand was tingling a little… at least he did feel something, he concluded.

He tried moving his legs, but the right one didn’t budge an inch. He could still feel his leg when he pinched it, he just couldn’t seem to control it.

What would happen to him if he never regained the use of his legs? What if his spine got damaged further– maybe robbing him of more than just the mobility of his legs?

It was hard to imagine. The last time… Fraser stumbled over that thought. Yes, the last time he hadn’t been able to use his legs like he was used to either. The last time he had to use a wheelchair for most of his movements as well. The last time… he hadn’t been occupied with his own recovery so much as with… Victoria….

He remembered spending days… nights… weeks, just imagining glimpses of her, remembering moments they had shared. The video without sound. The chance meeting at that diner. Her pulling the gun and aiming it at his chest that first time in the car… he had known she wouldn’t shoot him.

… or he hadn’t wanted to think that she could be able to. So he trusted that she wouldn’t harm him. And she hadn’t shot him. Ray Vecchio had… Fraser sighed. It was such a long time ago. He had forgiven Ray Vecchio for it– or he had thought so at least.

He hadn’t thought about it in a long time, but there had been a time when he couldn’t stop thinking about what would’ve happened had Ray not shot him. Fraser would’ve gone with her. He had often wondered how that would’ve turned out.

He never believed in her enough to track her down and find out. He could have. He could have simply gotten up and left; he could’ve joined her. Fraser had no doubt that he would’ve found her had he really set his mind to it. But he hadn’t…. but the ‘what if’ had stayed with him a long, long time.

Gingerly, he moved his hand along his back until his fingers touched the scar tissue. It didn’t feel any different. Wasn’t it ironic that his old wound should bring him down after all? It was probably just as well that Ray Vecchio was still away on his honeymoon with Stella Kowalski… well, Stella Vecchio now, he supposed.

Ray had also come a long way… who would’ve thought that he could actually face the fact that Stella was marrying someone else? Of course, he hadn’t gone as far as to attend their wedding, but that would probably have been too cruel to ask. But Ray had allowed her to move on with a smile for her and a threat for Ray Vecchio because… well, because of Fraser himself.

Because Ray had moved on. And Fraser had moved on as well… hadn’t he?

His fingers followed the ridges of the scarred flesh. It felt smooth, just different than the rest of the skin around it. And he knew, were he to look at it, he would find rose-colored flesh the size of a quarter. Just where the dip of the spine ended. Like the full stop underneath a question mark.

He didn’t want to open that old wound again. It had healed and Fraser had the scar to prove it. Why was it that his past came back to haunt him now– now that he had begun to build a life with Ray? Why did this old, ugly truth have to rear its head now of all times? Years later.

Some wounds were better left alone.

“Hey furface!” Ray called as he entered their apartment.

Dief didn’t look at all happy and Ray winced. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry. Gee… we couldn’t bring you, okay? It all happened so fast…”

Dief flattened his ears and whimpered.

“No, I know you’ve been worried about him, too.” Ray crouched down to ruffle his fur.

“Fraser has to get surgery to get that bullet removed, okay? But it’s a risky operation and… recovery will be a tough road.”

Dief barked a couple of times and thumped his tail on the floor. Ray smiled and brushed his hand over Dief’s head. “I told him he will be fine. You and me, we’ll see him through this, won’t we?”

Dief yipped and jumped up. Ray grinned. “Gotta love the wolf.”

“Okay, so what do I need to pack?” Ray scratched his head. “Clothes, let’s start with clothes.”

As long as Ray was busy packing he was alright. But once he had everything in a bag reality crashed in. “Oh God…” Ray suddenly mumbled and sank down in front of their bed. Ben was getting surgery. And it wasn’t looking too good, even Ray had to admit that. Last time everyone had said he was going to make a full recovery. And now people didn’t even want to commit to say he would come through the surgery all right.

Fraser had been having pains for weeks… and he hadn’t told Ray. What did that tell him about their relationship? Ray shook his head. There were more important things at stake here than Fraser not telling him about it. At least for the moment there were.

“A book…” Ben had wanted a book. Ray nodded to himself. This was something he could do. He went to the little book shelf in the living room. Hmm… he had no idea if there was one Fraser hadn’t already read. What about Moby Dick? Ray leafed through the pages and came across the ending. Great, most of the crew died. So… no.

Blake… no idea who that was. Lots of stuff about hell and damnation. Another no-no.  What was that one? Something by a Russian guy. Anna Karenina? Oooooh no, Ray remembered that one. Fraser had told him the story once. She threw herself in front of a train in the end. God, did Fraser even own one non-depressing book?

In the end, Ray opted for a selection of short stories– hoping that not all of them ended with the gruesome death of the protagonist. He really had to get Fraser something else to read for his hospitalization.

Fraser would be all right… wouldn’t he? Fraser always got out of all kinds of hairy situations more or less unscathed. But what if Fraser did end up tied to a wheelchair?

For Fraser, that must be almost as bad as dying, Ray thought with a shock. He wouldn’t be able to follow suspects up on roofs anymore, he couldn’t track litterbugs across the wilderness, he couldn’t drive a sled anymore.

Ray shook his head. No, even if Fraser couldn’t use his legs anymore they would get through this somehow. Fraser could, dunno, start a basketball team for people in wheelchairs. Stuff like that existed. They would have to move, but there was little that kept Ray attached to his old place. As long as Fraser was still there it would be all right. They could still talk, and kiss, and as long as he could be with Fraser life would go on.

…besides, Fraser was one stubborn bastard. If anyone had the single-mindedness to get through months of physio therapy it was Fraser.

Ray looked around their apartment and then again down at his feet where Fraser’s bag was waiting. The place felt empty already Ray thought sadly before he shouldered the bag with a determined growl and marched out of the door. Fraser was coming back. It was only temporary after all.

He needed to stop being such a wimp. He needed to be strong for Fraser– Fraser needed someone he could rely on, someone to help him through this now. If Ray turned into a blubbering wreck Fraser would be all on his own. Ray set his jaw. No, Fraser couldn’t know how much he needed him. For the moment, Ray had to be the strong one so that Fraser didn’t have to be.

The door clicked into the lock behind him.

The day before the surgery passed in the blink of an eye. Fraser thought this was probably always the case when you wanted time to stand still. Of course he was relieved that his kidneys hadn’t been affected yet– he just wanted to keep the illusion of uncertainty up a while longer. Once he came back from the surgery he would know – for better or worse – whether he would ever be able to regain the use of his legs.And if he didn’t… he’d rather not know for another day or two. It also wasn’t that he didn’t appreciate the confidence all of his friends and colleagues put into his recovery, but there was no evidence to suggest that their hopes were well-founded.

He was grateful for Inspector Thatcher’s and Lieutenant Welsh’s visit, but he would rather be alone. He was tired of admitting that he really couldn’t move his legs, and of fending off the question whether or not he was afraid of the surgery. What was he supposed to say? No, of course not, this was all in a day’s work for him?

Maybe they thought it was.

Towards the evening, he was finally left alone with Ray. Another nurse came bustling in shortly after the last visitor had left.

“I’m going to give you a mild sedative,” she explained with a smile. “I know you didn’t want any pain medication, but this will relax the muscles and it will help you sleep. It’s better to be rested for the surgery and you shouldn’t put too much strain on your back. This time it’s really not optional. Consider it the first part of your surgery,” she said.

Fraser wasn’t very fond of pain medication. It made him feel artificial and woozy. Arguing, however, was pointless. And he was too tired to care. If they left him in peace afterwards he would go along with whatever they wanted.

“Try to rest,” she said before she left.

“You should go home, Ray,” Fraser said quietly. Ray had been at his side the whole day; he must be exhausted. “Dief is probably worried.”

“Don’t worry. I gave Turnbull a key when he stopped by earlier. He’ll take care of Dief for tonight. Francesca will stop by the Consulate tomorrow to pick him up. Dief can stay with her and Ante until we can bring him here.”

“Thank you.” Fraser’s voice was soft.

“Sure,” Ray said easily.

The sedative made Fraser’s thoughts sluggish. Today might be the last day where he could believe that he could walk. After tomorrow… who knew?

“I may not be able to walk anymore,” Fraser told the room, trying it out on his tongue which felt fuzzy and thick.

“You will be fine,” Ray said firmly.

“I can’t continue as liaison officer if I can’t walk,” Fraser added. It was only the logical consequence. His grandmother had taught him to think things through. Shying away from the truth never helped. You had to face it boldly; repressing it only led to more grief later on.

“We’ll always be partners.” Ray was sitting in the chair next to his bed. He was looking anxious now.

Fraser felt sleepy. He shouldn’t worry Ray… but Ray needed to face the facts. It was better to be prepared for the worst. That way Ray would be—he’d be—prepared should the need arise. Ray needed to be aware that things might never be the same again… and he needed to understand what this meant. He needed to think about the consequences.

“We might not be able to be together like this,” Fraser murmured; he was rapidly losing the fight of keeping his eyes open.

“Shhh,” Ray’s voice was very close. A warm hand was in his hair and then Ray’s lips were on his. “Stop this, Ben. Have you forgotten? Duets, Fraser, duets.”

Fraser wanted to tell Ray that he couldn’t be sure of that. But he was probably asleep before he could speak the words.

Ray spent a mostly sleepless night at the hospital. He was worried, he was tired, but most of all he was mad at Fraser.

He knew that Fraser’s attitude did little to change the success of the surgery, but in a way Ray felt that Fraser needed to believe that he would be all right. Of course it was stupid; it didn’t make a stitch of difference to the surgeons whether or not Fraser believed in their skills. But Ray needed Fraser to believe in his recovery.

Fraser sounded as if he had already given up. Just like that. Hell, Fraser had tried to convince Ray to accept that it was going to fail and that was just wrong. Ray never doubted that Fraser would come through this all right– he couldn’t think of it any other way. And Fraser wasn’t doing his share, dammit!

Ray would get them through this– if it killed him. Just to prove Fraser wrong. How dare he resign himself to his fate!

But come morning Fraser was apparently a little more optimistic. Ray just didn’t know if he should be relieved or doubt the authenticity of Fraser’s words instead.

“Ray, stop worrying about me,” Fraser smiled after the nurse had stopped fussing around with the machines and drips and everything else that was connected to Fraser in some way. “I’m sure the surgeons will do their best. And we won’t know the results for a few days anyway.”

Ray gauged Fraser’s expression. He didn’t want Fraser to say that just to make him feel better. Ray wanted him to believe that he would be fine for his own sake.

At least it was better than listening to Fraser’s descriptions of doom. Ray gave him a smile of his own. “I know it will be fine. I just wished you were back in your room already—I’ll be here when you wake up, you know that, right? And I’ll call Welsh and the Ice Queen and let them know,” Ray explained in a rush.

He wished he knew how it really looked inside of Fraser, but there was always someone bustling into the room or someone checking something or someone visiting so that Ray could never grill Fraser.

The doctor came in again an hour before the appointment for the surgery.

“How are we feeling today?” he asked good-naturedly.

Ray wanted to kick him in the head.

“I’m fine, thank you kindly,” Fraser replied. Ray was so sick of hearing him say that. How could anyone lying in a hospital bed and about to undergo major surgery claim to be fine? ‘Fine’ what did that even mean?  Loads of bullshit, that’s what it meant.

“The surgery will affect the surrounding area and there will be swelling that might prevent you from moving in varying degrees; it’s hard to say in advance. We can’t be sure before you’re out of surgery again. I just want to warn you that there is no cause to be alarmed should you be unable to feel your legs or your arms when you wake up– it is perfectly normal and to be expected.”

‘Normal’, Ray was about to have hysterics. Did these people listen to themselves?

“Depending on the amount of damage it can take up to a week for the swelling to recede again. There is no telling how long it will take to regain the use of your legs again, I’m afraid. We will have to schedule physical therapy once the wound has healed far enough not to risk further nerve damage.”

“I understand.  I am familiar with the procedure.”

Ray worried his lip. Did Vecchio have to leave on his honeymoon now? Ray got the feeling that it might’ve been a good idea to call him up and ask him what Fraser had been like that last time. It might’ve been helpful to know what to expect. But there was no way he was going to call Stella on her honeymoon to tell them that Fraser might lose the use of his legs because of the time Vecchio shot him.

That could put a damper on any newlywed bliss… even though Ray didn’t think the bliss could be such a big deal to begin with. She had married Vecchio after all. Ray smothered a grin.

Besides, there was nothing, really, Vecchio could do to help. Ray didn’t look forward to telling him the news when they came back, though. He winced. He could hear the shouting already.

“Detective Kowalski, if I could persuade you to leave now?” the doctor said with a smile. “We do need to get our patient ready for surgery. I’ll be back in a minute and I want my patient to be alone when I come back.”

“Gotcha,” Ray muttered.

Fraser tried to keep the smile in. Ray could even make out the laugh lines around his eyes. Bastard, he thought affectionately.

“You know that I love you, right? You’ll be fine. We’re in this together no matter what, okay?” Ray said urgently.

“And I you, Ray. Go home and get some rest, please.”

Ray smiled. “Sure, I will.” As if. A whole army wouldn’t get him to leave the hospital while Fraser was in the OR.

Ray went downstairs to the waiting room. He sighed. Now all he could do was wait… not that this differed much from what he had done so far. He hated feeling useless… Might as well bite the bullet now… Ray winced at his choice of words. But he really wasn’t looking forward to making the necessary calls.Thatcher seemed to be unusually patient with Ray and she appeared to be relieved that everything was going according to plan so far. She promised to let Constable Turnbull and the wolf know and Ray was grateful for her practical nature.

The only one more practical was definitely his Lieutenant. Welsh was very sympathetic and told Ray again that the Constable had come through every sort of freak accident alright so far and that he was confident that this was no exception. Ray smiled a little. Yeah, Welsh knew Fraser’s history of amnesia, stabbed legs, shot legs, and shot back. There was some evidence to suggest that Welsh had a point.

At last, Ray called Frannie to let her know that Fraser was getting surgery now.

Ray collapsed into one of the horrible beige plastic chairs in the waiting room. God… this might take hours. Without a notice. Without any news. And they wouldn’t even be any wiser once the surgery was over. They had been told, over and over again, that it would be a few days before they could form any kind of prognosis.

Ray looked at his jittery hands. God, he was nervous. Waiting always drove him up the wall. And it had not even been an hour yet. Ray sighed and dropped his head into his hands.

“You might want to hold onto this instead,” came a female voice.

Ray’s head snapped up and he found Frannie standing in the door of the waiting room. He got up and pulled her in a hug. “Careful,” she shrieked, trying to keep the paper cup of coffee upright in her hand.

Ray laughed softly. “Thanks, Frannie.”

“Here, I brought you this,” she pulled a bag of M&M’s out of her handbag. “I didn’t know how many you took in your coffee, but I’m sure you’ll make good use of them.”

“You’re a life-saver.”

Ray dropped a couple of M&M’s into the coffee cup and took a seat again. Frannie sat down next to him.

“How are you holding up?” She asked hesitantly after a couple of moments of silence.

“All right,” Ray sighed. “As good as can be expected, I guess.”

She nodded. They fell silent again. Frannie bit her lip. “My brother never forgave himself for shooting him, you know?”

Ray sighed a little. “Yeah, I know.”

“… but he never regretted that it kept Fraser from leaving with… her,” Frannie spat, unusually hateful.

“Fraser never talks about it,” Ray said finally after another lapse into silence.

Frannie looked apologetic. “I’m sorry, I’m sure he doesn’t want to think about it. He probably moved on—who can blame him? I’d rather forget about something like that, too,” she soothed.

“Maybe…” Ray said. He wasn’t so sure. He had thought Fraser had moved on… but then again Fraser had never talked to him about Victoria Metcalf and what she did to him. Most of what Ray knew was from Vecchio and he hadn’t told Ray much; it was clear that it was a sore spot for Vecchio as well and Ray hadn’t wanted to push.

After another hour of waiting, Frannie stood up. “I should go. I promised Renfield to come and fetch Diefenbaker for a walk.”

“Renfield?” Ray smiled, amused.

Frannie colored ever so slightly. “It’s his name, isn’t it?” She replied snippily.

“Sure is,” Ray grinned. “Say ‘hi’ to Renfield,” Ray stretched the name. “And tell him thanks for doing this,” Ray added softly.

Frannie smiled. “It’s the least we can do.”

Ray watched her go, bemused. Frannie and Turnbull had only run into each other very occasionally, but Ray thought there was something in the making. Frannie had come by the Consulate quite often lately– and ever since she had caught on to the fact that Ray and Fraser were more than just cop partners she had essentially stopped stalking Fraser.

Almost three hours had passed before Ray heard anything.

“Is he alright?” Ray all but blurted when a nurse declared that Fraser was out of surgery.

“He was in the anesthetic recovery room until a few minutes ago. He was experiencing back pain and they put him to sleep again for a while longer. He has been returned to his room now—he’s still asleep, though,” she added.

Okay, okay. Ray tried to calm himself. At least Fraser had gotten through the surgery alright. That was the most they could hope for at this point.

“Did the surgery go okay?” Ray asked with a hint of trepidation in his voice.

“There was a lot of old scar tissue that needed to be removed. The wound was rather deep. But the surgeons were very satisfied with the result. Of course, it’s too earl—”

“To say anything yet, yeah, I know.” Ray tried to keep his impatience in check. “Can I see him?”

“Yes, however, try not to disturb him. Sleep is the best thing he can do at the moment.”

Ray wanted to snap at her that he wouldn’t wake him up, he wasn’t stupid, but he caught himself just in time. They all had Fraser’s best interest at heart. “Thanks,” Ray managed to get out.

By the time he reached Fraser’s room, he was out of breath.

Please, please, please, be okay, Ray prayed for the first time in years.

Fraser opened his eyes. Interestedly, he looked around the room. This wasn’t his cabin… oh. He smiled. There was Ray.“Hello, Ray,” he slurred. He didn’t even need to reach his hand out; Ray was already at his side. This was a nice dream. He’d had that one a lot… but that was a while ago. Because now Ray wasn’t here, Ray was in Chicago. Ray didn’t know.

Everything around was white… and kind of fuzzy, Fraser noted with rather detached interest. He was probably dead.

“I always wanted to tell you I love you before I died,” Fraser said softly.

Ray’s eyes were wide and shocked. “Ben, you’re—you’re okay. Listen to me, all right? You’ll be fine.”

Sadly, Fraser shook his head. He was glad to see Ray again at least once.

He noticed Dief behind Ray’s shoulder. “Hello boy, I’m sorry, are we in this together? I never meant for this to happen.”

Ray paled and wheeled around to look behind him.

“I knew you couldn’t love me back,” Fraser said with a sad smile on his lips. “But that’s all right, I always knew,” he squeezed Ray’s hand. This was a dream all right; he couldn’t even feel Ray’s hand.

“Frase…” Ray choked. “I love you… always will… okay?”

Fraser looked at Ray’s beloved face again. “Wished…” Fraser’s world faded to white. All the white of the room simply blurred together. And then there was nothing.

Ray sat there with a hammering heart, still holding Fraser’s hand.

What the hell… was that?

Slowly, Ray turned around again. But Dief really wasn’t here– stupid, of course he wasn’t. He was with Frannie.

And what was all this shit about dying? What little color had returned to his cheeks took another leave of absence.

Saying Fraser would be ‘a little out of it’ when he came to was a bit of an understatement, Ray thought, shaken.

Exhausted, he fell back in his chair. It had taken Fraser a while to wake up and Ray felt drained and tired. But there was no way he would leave. Who knew in what frame of mind Fraser would wake up next.

As soon as Ray’s heart rate had calmed down again, his head sank slowly down on his chest as his eyes fell closed.

Pain… something… something hurt… Fraser fell into consciousness as startling as if he had walked off a cliff. His eyes flew open and his heart was hammering in his chest.

Fraser took in his surroundings with two quick glances. Beige walls, beige bed, so a hospital. And Ray. Fraser smiled. Ray had fallen asleep in the visitor chair, still holding Fraser’s hand.

He could feel Ray’s hand in his own. Weird, as if his hand at fallen asleep a long time ago, but at least he could feel the pressure from Ray’s hand. He tried moving his legs– or at least he thought that was what he was doing. It might just as well have been an attempt at telekinesis. Not the slightest twitch. Nothing.

Fraser tried to feel his body. He felt the tension in his abdominal muscles, but then the feeling just tapered off, as if a plug had been pulled, slowly draining all feeling away. He let his head fall back and closed his eyes. He couldn’t say that he was consciously aware of his thigh or his knee. Before the surgery he had at least been able to make his leg spasm.

“Relax,” came Ray’s sleep-warm voice. “Remember, they told us it would swell up,” his voice sounded rusty and Ray tried to fight a yawn off.

Right. Fraser took a calming breath. Ray was right. He had been told that this was to be expected.

“Are you… in pain?” Ray asked, hesitating in between as if he had wanted to ask something else.

“A little,” Fraser admitted. “But it’s manageable.”

Ray snorted, relieved. “You have a thing, a clicker, beside you. It’s morphine. They said you should use it if the pain gets too much. “

Fraser shook his head. “I’m sure I can manage,” Fraser said with a pained grimace on his face.

“Yeah, you’re awake alright,” Ray replied and pushed the call button.

A nurse came in a minute later.

“Ah, Mr. Fraser, you are awake.” She fussed over a few monitors. “Are you experiencing pain?”

“Nothing more than I think was to be expected,” Fraser said, but it cost him an effort. The nurse frowned. “You really shouldn’t overexert yourself. I’m going to give you something against the pain,” she said and reached over to click once to infuse Fraser with an immediate dose of morphine.

Fraser would have liked to protest, but with every minute he was awake the more real the pain became. “Thank you kindly,” he managed and the nurse smiled. “You’re very welcome. Now you just lay back and rest a little.”

The moment the nurse was out of the door again, Ray’s hand was back on Fraser’s.

“I’m glad you’re back,” Ray murmured.

And as the pain medication worked its magic, Fraser was finally able to take in Ray’s appearance: Dark, purplish circles underneath his eyes, blond stubble on his jaw, and tumbled hair.

A wave of tenderness suffused Fraser. This man was all but impossible.

It took Fraser a conscious effort, but he managed to squeeze Ray’s hand. Ray grinned broadly.

“It’s good to see you,” Fraser admitted softly.

Carefully, Ray placed his hand on Fraser’s thigh, gauging his reaction. “So, you can’t feel anything, right?”

Fraser shook his head, unable to meet Ray’s eyes.

“It’s okay—they said it would happen,” Ray assured him quickly. He moved his hand lower, about to take his hand off, when—

“I feel that,” Fraser surprised himself by saying.

Ray put more pressure on his hand. “Really?”

Ray’s hand was resting firmly underneath his knee.

Fraser frowned. “Yes, but… I can’t move it and it’s only—I only feel pressure and barely at best. Nothing specific.”

“But that’s great, Ben,” Ray sounded really excited.

It could just be a phantom of a feeling, Fraser thought. Ray’s unbridled optimism was welcome, but Fraser was afraid that he would let Ray down if it didn’t work out. It was too early to tell.

Too soon the announcement came that the visiting hours were over. Fraser had slept through most of the day. He was sorry to see Ray go. They had weathered so many storms together; Ray had come to be one of the fixtures in Fraser’s life.

It felt strange in his hand, but Fraser ignored it and reached out for Ray’s hand, pulling him close. When Ray was close enough, Fraser’s hand wandered up to cradle his head. Ray’s hair didn’t feel like much of anything against his palm, but he could feel the warmth of Ray’s nape and Fraser concentrated on that instead.

Ray’s lips opened willingly underneath his own and Fraser took his sweet time. He was glad to have Ray here with him. He deepened the kiss and felt the bed dip beside him as Ray pressed closer against him. Fraser could taste the chocolate from Ray’s coffee and he delved deeper, searching out Ray’s taste. Ray made a soft sound in the back of his throat, part whimper and part moan, and his hands stayed fixed in Fraser’s hair, unwilling to let go.

Fraser never tired of kissing Ray. He nipped at Ray’s bottom lip before he claimed his mouth again and he felt the heat coming off of Ray and the slick wetness of his tongue.

Kissing Ray made him forget that he couldn’t feel his legs because there was nothing more to concentrate on than the feeling of Ray’s lips. Sometimes, kissing Ray felt as if he didn’t even possess a body to speak of; he simply existed in the feeling of the kiss. A space outside of time. A time outside of space.

Slowly, he released Ray again. Ray’s eyes opened languidly and Fraser noticed that they were almost dark green now; arousal had darkened the hazel color of his eyes until there was almost none of that light brown left. Ray’s breathing was rapid and he swallowed hard before he attempted to speak.

“God…” Ray croaked. The flushed face was a good look on him. “Ben…” Ray murmured hoarsely in a voice that Fraser seldom heard outside of the bedroom.

“Visiting hours are over,” came the firm voice from the doorway.

Ray winced. “Yeah—I—sorry, I’ll be gone in a second… just…” He looked helplessly at Fraser. “I’m sorry, I need to—I need to go. I’ll be back here tomorrow morning…” Ray tried to get his bearings. “God…I won’t get any sleep tonight…” Ray muttered with a teasing smile that Fraser knew so well it hurt. “Try to get some rest,” Ray said with another squeeze of Fraser’s hand.

Reluctantly, Ray left and Fraser tried to find a position to lie in that didn’t hurt. He didn’t want to think about the fact that he hadn’t felt any physical reaction to the kiss. Elevated heartbeat and accelerated breathing, yes; lust and arousal, yes, definitely. But no physical proof of that.

Fraser closed his eyes and tried not to think what that meant.

On to the next part