Groaning, Fraser tried to focus on his surroundings. He felt hot… too hot, really. His blood pumped in waves and he felt unable to use his arms.
“What did you do?” a voice asked.
“I gave him some Push,” another voice explained, defensively.
Fraser wished someone would touch him.
Fraser didn’t make it to the station all day. Ray’s inability to do something was driving him up the wall. He couldn’t just wait until the next evening at the club rolled around. There had to be something he could do on his current case. There was the guy who had died at the docks… maybe Ray could find something looking at the latest drug victims. Getting the files in order would take all day. Ray’s week was so not off to a good start.
The next day, Ray worked through another stack of folders containing unsolved cases of overdose. He only kept the ones concerning men and tried to find a common link. Blond, brunet, red, Asian, Caucasian, Afro-American, there seemed to be all types of drug victims. They were all built differently and they all worked different jobs and lived in different parts of town.
They only had one thing in common; they were all rather young. Not one victim was above the age of 30. And they were all found in places that didn’t make any sense. There was no connection. The man Ray had found had died in a warehouse at the docks. Which wasn’t a part of town he had any reason for being.
Another man had OD’ed in a less frequented forest area almost an hour from where he worked and lived. The same chemical mix had been found in the blood of all victims. If they hadn’t taken the overdose right where they were found it would have been impossible for them to get there on their own. Either they were all suicides or someone else had destined the location of their last moments.
Why? Why should anyone give someone an overdose and then dump them somewhere to die?
Maybe Fraser could take the pictures to the club the next time, see if they rang any bells with the other guests. Ray looked at his watch. Or he could try and ask their next of kin and their friends and shake some information down.
Most of the victims had a family around here somewhere. Ray decided to start with the most recent one.
“Mr. Andrews? Thank you for seeing me. I am investigating the death of Gregory Klein. I’m interested in the last time you saw him. Can you tell me when that was and if he told you anything conclusive?”
Jefferson Andrews was a youth of 22 years who had a hard time talking about the incident because he was the boyfriend of the victim.
“I, yes, I… it was the day before—before—they found him. W-w-we… we were fighting,” Jefferson Andrews raised red-rimmed eyes at Ray.
“I never—I couldn’t—apologize… I’m so sorry… it was so stupid anyway.”
Ray smiled sympathetically.
“What was it about? I was married, I know most stupid arguments.”
Jefferson smiled tearfully.
“Greg was forever taking this stupid drug, Push, maybe you know it? Anyway, I wanted him to stop it, but…” Jefferson laughed and it sounded like it hurt. “But he always said the sex was too good to give it up. And I—I accused him of only sleeping with me when he was under the influence and… it really got out of hand. So he—he left. A-and I… I didn’t see him again until—until… oh God…”
“It’s okay. Don’t blame yourself. You tried to protect him. You can’t make his choices for him. Do you know where he went to?”
Jefferson shook his head. “No, I—I talked to our friends and no one saw him that night. God, I don’t know.”
“Do you know the Skydeep?”
Jefferson looked surprised. “Sure, it’s the club up on West Ontario Street. Everyone goes there. Why?”
“Is it possible that Mr. Klein went there after he left?”
Jefferson shrugged. “Could be. But he usually didn’t go there alone.”
“Thank you for your time.”
Tracking down people and doing the interviews kept Ray occupied for most of the week. He didn’t even see Fraser because his partner spent his spare time catching up with his consulate duties. Did Fraser even know what free time was?
By the end of the week and a line of shockingly similar interviews, Ray concluded that all of the victims could’ve been at the Skydeep the night before they were found dead. All of them had gone there before and they had all been out on their own the night before they died.
Two people definitely visited the Skydeep that night—at least that was the plan they had told their friend/boyfriend/parent before they left. And Ray had found one himself whose only last word had been the name of the club. That in itself wasn’t conclusive evidence, but it was food for thought.
Maybe those weren’t murders? What if they belonged to the same line of missing people only that these hadn’t been as lucky?
Ray was almost anxious to see Fraser on Friday night. Most of all because he had spent the better part of the week thinking about what might or might not have happened at the club after Ray left and also because, damn, he missed his best friend. When they worked together on a case they could talk, spend time together, hang out. With this case there never seemed the time.
They couldn’t talk at the club, not without staging something—and Ray wasn’t exactly sure what kind of dangerous game he was playing there—and then Fraser played secretary during the week and never showed at the station anymore.
Leaving Ray alone with the paper work, the bad coffee, the game on tv, and his right hand. Ray felt the blush creeping up his neck. He hadn’t meant to, his fantasy land was simply a runaway train and ever since Ray had thought how it would be to have sex with another man it kept creeping up during his wank sessions.
Nothing definite—it wasn’t as if he was imagining having sex with Fraser… well, not intentionally anyway. It was just the image of a bigger hand on his own body… or a different mouth, without any gloss, and a crooked tooth at the corner—but that was all.
It was all Fraser’s fault anyway. Because Fraser always made Ray rethink stuff he had felt sure about, like the thing with Stella and the bank, being Fraser’s partner kind of taught you to look at things from a different perspective. Hell, you needed to think outside the box if you wanted to keep up with Fraser’s wildly bizarre ways.
Ray looked around the still empty club. Maybe they would get the break they needed tonight.
“Hey, Jack,” Ray called. “Let me do the stocking up for a change. I got to learn it sometime. You can check later if I did it right.”
“Sure.” Jack threw him the keys. “And if you botch it? Do I get to spank you?”
Ray waggled his eyebrows. “We’ll see. First you have to catch me at making a mistake. I think I got it covered.”
Jack laughed and continued to arrange the glasses behind the bar.
Ray went into the back and downstairs. He jammed something into the door and unlocked the store room. If Ray did his job right then they had the better part of the night to finish this task.
He went through the garage. When he had almost reached the entrance, a man stepped from the shadows.
“Did you get them?” Huey’s dark voice carried effortlessly.
“Yeah,” Ray jingled the keys. “We need duplicates for all of them. Have someone come in and order a gin tonic with cucumber when you’re done. I’ll need to go down again to get a cucumber and I’ll take them from you again.”
“No problem. Later, Stanley.”
Now for the actual work. Ray recalled a visual of the number of boxes and crates they had stocked in the fridge and under the bar. When he was sure that he hadn’t forgotten anything Ray pulled the door shut and heard the lock catch.
He carried the crates upstairs and taped the inside of the door to the garage so that it wouldn’t lock when he pulled it closed.
Jack came over to look at his handiwork when Ray was almost done stocking the shelves.
“Of course you had to get it right the first time,” Jack sighed mock-wistfully.
“Told you so,” Ray grinned.
It was still early evening; most patrons were just sitting together at the table having drinks, the music still too quiet to animate anyone to dance, when the special visitors Jack had told him about arrived.
Ray recognized Mr. Takeda and he could’ve sworn he knew the man behind him, slightly older with thinning hair, but immaculately dressed. He just couldn’t tell where he knew him from.
Ray had no idea who the two other men were, but it was easy to see that they had money and influence on their side.
Philly strode up to meet them, playing the gracious host. He didn’t go in with them, though, probably not high enough on the ladder to sit in on the important meetings. Ray smirked.
Once the group had vanished behind the curtain, Philly came up to the bar to demand the champagne Jack had prepared. Jack handed the bucket with the bottle and the tray with the glasses over and Philly straightened up and walked with the self-important air of the truly dedicated butler. Whoever these guys were, they were important.
Ray caught a quick glimpse of the booth behind the curtain when Philly entered the little cubicle. It was disappointing. Much like Jack had described it, there was a table around which the group had settled. Nothing, well, he wasn’t sure what he had expected, but since there seemed to be such a fuss about this VIP lounge Ray had thought something was going on there.
Fraser arrived early, long before the usual crowd claimed the dance floor. Ray’s heart went pitter patter at the sight of him. Calmly, Fraser made his way over to the bar. He smiled at Ray.
“Good evening.” He looked good. “It has been a very long week,” Fraser said with a small smile.
“You can say that again,” Ray snorted. “Is there anything I can do for you?” He almost cursed himself for making it sound so suggestive.
Fraser hesitated a split second. “A glass of water would be nice.”
“Water? Sure, buddy.”
“Thank you kindly.”
For one sharp moment Ray wanted nothing better than to be sitting at home on his couch with Fraser right next to him and maybe the wolf in the kitchen and watching a game… just connecting.
“Uh, I should… work,” Ray mumbled, gesturing at other people lined up at the bar.
Ray watched him leave. He didn’t think that he had ever spent this much time watching Fraser.
After two more customers, Jack caught up with him.
“You know, maybe I’ve been wrong about him.”
Ray’s eyes moved to the left to watch Fraser again. He didn’t even have to search for him, he always knew where he was.
“How so?” Ray asked. His heart did a curious sort of flip-flop, but he really, really, didn’t want to make anything of it.
“Well, he keeps coming back to you. So whatever else he has going on… and it looks like a lot… there seems to be something about you that he likes.”
Yeah, my friendship, Ray thought.
“I don’t think I’m his type,” Ray explained, surprised again at how bitter that tasted.
Jack shrugged. “Hey, he hit on you that first night. That’s gotta be something.”
“…uh-huh… great…” God, now he felt depressed. There hadn’t been a first night or anyone hitting on anyone… it had just been work.
Ray shook himself. Of course it wasn’t real. He wasn’t into guys and Fraser and him were damn good partners and that was the only thing that mattered.
The hours dragged by. Ray had put some weight on this VIP thing, assuming that something would happen. And so far nothing had. No one else had entered the little private area and no one had left. It seemed a repeat of Philly’s date with his boyfriend. His disappointment gave way to frustration. Nowhere, this whole thing was going nowhere.
“Hey,” a voice exclaimed brightly.
Ray dragged his gaze away from the private booth and focused on the young man in front of him. Jesus, that smile was bright.
“Yeah?” He was not in the mood for this.
The smile dimmed down a little and the expression turned serious.
“I want a gin tonic—with cucumber,” the man said with heavy emphasis looking expectantly at Ray.
Inwardly, Ray shook his head. They sent him the overeager rookie. Tom and Jack’s idea of a good joke.
“The cucumber is really important,” the man explained earnestly. The question ‘Get it? Get it?’ was clearly written all over his face.
Ray turned to Jack. “Do we have any cucumbers stacked? I need some for a drink.”
Jack shook his head. “I don’t think so, but you might want to check downstairs.” He patted his pockets looking for the keys when he remembered. “You must still have the keys.”
“Yeah, I do. Okay, I’ll be right back.”
“Your drink is coming right up,” Ray replied acid-sweet. It wasn’t the fault of the kid that the evening wasn’t going according to plan.
In the garage, Huey handed him the bunch of keys back. Ray took them upstairs and moved behind the bar again and handed the keys to Jack.
“Sorry, we don’t have any cucumber. Lime okay?”
The young officer looked indecisive. They probably hadn’t told the kid what to do after he had delivered his line.
“You’ll be fine,” Ray sighed and pushed the drink in front of him. Uncertainly, the young man picked up his drink and moved into the crowd.
Ray closed his eyes for a second. At least they had the keys now.
The VIP group left before the club began to empty and Ray’s last bit of hope drained away. Maybe he was wrong about the VIP thing.
The later it got the more Ray thought about Fraser. Would he want to stay longer again, maybe leave with someone else? He should really stop thinking about it. There was a reason they had put ‘lousy’ in ‘jealousy’ and Ray had walked down that road too many times to count.
It was probably too late to keep from having these kinds of thoughts about Fraser… he had never been very good at keeping away from the things he shouldn’t be doing. Damn Fraser and his stupid heart-to-heart. Ray would never have thought about him that way at all hadn’t Fraser told him to look in that direction.
“Could I have another water?” The voice was amused and Ray only now realized that he had completely zoned out.
“Sorry, I…long night.” Ray looked at Fraser and felt the by now familiar slow burn. Fraser looked a little sweaty and his hair had curled slightly at the edges; it was a good look on him. Had he really never noticed all this before? It had been such a long time since Ray had wanted someone else.
Ray had kept his wants simple. A beer, a quiet evening, a little dancing. But now Ray wanted. Fraser’s familiar face recalled a flood of images, a brush against his cheek, the kiss, god, the kiss, the way he had smelled…
Ray pushed the glass in Fraser’s direction, keeping his gaze carefully focused on what his hands were doing. Fraser placed his empty glass and the napkin on the bar again and left money on the counter.
Once Fraser had taken his glass and left, Ray picked up the napkin. A grin spread out when he read the note: ‘I’ll meet you at the car’.
They had barely settled in the car when Ray asked, “Do you want to crash at my place again?”
“I don’t want to abuse your hospitality, Ray.”
“You’re not. So, want to?” He had no idea why it was so important to him. Maybe it was that a small victory was better than none.
“I’d like that, thank you.”
Ray spread a sheet on the couch and dropped a pillow on it. He went to the closet to get a blanket and when he came back, Fraser had already unbuttoned his shirt. Stupidly, Ray stopped in his tracks and watched him undress.
Fraser shrugged the shirt off, undressing down to his undershirt, when he noticed Ray standing in the hallway with the blanket in his arms.
“Oh, thank you.” Fraser came up to take the blanket from him and for a second Ray imagined he could smell warm skin.
“No problem,” Ray murmured. “Bathroom’s yours.”
Oblivious to Ray’s thoughts, Fraser nodded with a smile and moved into the bathroom. Ray sat down at the kitchen counter and cradled his head. He took a sip from the water glass in front of him and then put it down again. What was he doing here?
Fraser came out of the bathroom in nothing more than his undershirt and—boxer briefs.
“You’re not wearing boxer shorts,” Ray exclaimed in surprise. He winced inwardly, great, Kowalski, just great.
Fraser glanced down at himself and rubbed his eyebrow. “They are, well, Ray, frankly they are rather uncomfortable to wear with jeans.”
“Sure, yeah, I get that,” Ray said, dragging his eyes away with some difficulty.
He slid off the chair and stood a little awkwardly next to the entrance of the kitchen. “Uh, goodnight then.”
Fraser sat down on the couch and unfolded the blanket. Reluctantly, Ray moved into his own bedroom and crawled underneath the covers.
Okay, so maybe Ray didn’t think about kissing guys and maybe he wasn’t so good at imagining touching another man, but he sure as hell thought about kissing Fraser, about touching him… about getting touched by him.
Holding his breath, half afraid Fraser might hear him, Ray’s hand crept into his shorts. He bit his lip as his hand closed around his dick. Slowly, Ray stroked himself to full hardness. He buried his face in his pillow to keep his breathing quiet as his hand sped up its movement. He gasped quietly, thinking of Fraser’s grip as they had kissed—imagining the way Fraser had looked when he had kissed that other guy and Ray’s cock liked the thought of swapping places with that stranger a hell of a lot.
A whimper made it past Ray’s lips. God… oh, he wanted… Fraser would look breath-taking aroused.
His whole body convulsed and Ray bit his hand to stifle Fraser’s name as he came. Jesus… Ray thought as he lay there panting. Weakly, he reached out for a tissue to get himself cleaned up. What had he gotten himself into?