Author's Website: http://www.ravenswing.com/bas/
Author's Notes: Dedicated to Fuzzicat. Thanks to Cara for the beta read.
Story Notes: Post "The Duel."
Dinner and a Movie
Dedicated to Fuzzicat.
Thanks to Cara for the beta.
"How are your wrists, Benny?" Ray asked suddenly. "They doing okay?"
Fraser shrugged his shirt sleeves up over his wrists and examined the skin. "Well, there's some chafing that will likely bruise by morning, but on the whole I'm quite all right. Once I realized that I was firmly caught, I stopped struggling."
"Good." Ray drummed his fingers on the steering wheel. "You're staying with me tonight."
Fraser blinked. "I see."
"Just in case."
"In case of what?"
"In case something happens."
Ray hit the gas. "I don't know! It doesn't matter! You're coming home with me, Benny, and that's that. We've got the rest of the day off so we're going to rent a movie and make popcorn and watch the movie and eat the popcorn and then go to bed, and you're not gonna argue with me about it!"
"Understood, Ray." Fraser folded his arms to muffle his stomach--the aftereffects of the drug were leaving him rather peckish. "Is dinner included in that plan, or is that the purpose of the popcorn?"
"Dinner is included. Nobody leaves my house hungry if I can help it." Ray braked rather too sharply at a stop sign and turned toward Fraser, looking drawn and tired. "I'm still nervous, Fraser--I don't know if this is the end. When I'm nervous like this I want you where I can see you." Ray looked over his shoulder, catching Dief's attention. "And I want Dief to bark if someone messes with the car. I don't like people messing with my car. Got that?" Dief barked his assent. Ray turned around, checked the cross street and started driving again.
"Dief has expressed a request for your mother's meatballs," Fraser said, knowing that she often made an extra batch to freeze for culinary emergencies. He was sure Dief wouldn't mind Fraser taking his name in vain when meatballs were at stake.
"I'll check the freezer," Ray said, and pulled into the parking lot of his neighborhood video store. "Wait--you don't actually have to meet the Trade Minister from whatever tonight, do you?"
"No, Ray. I was pulling your leg."
Ray smiled for the first time since the trouble with Carver began. "That's what I figured. Movie time. Go find something you like."
Dief lounged in the car as they entered the store. Fraser headed toward the documentaries, while Ray browsed the new releases. Fraser held up the first tape of "Cosmos." Ray held up "Star Wars."
"There's gotta be a happy medium here," Ray said. "Ever seen '2001'?"
Ray rented "2001: A Space Odyssey" and they headed back out to the car.
Fraser kept a backpack full of necessities in the trunk of Ray's car; it had proven useful on more than one occasion. He was therefore provisioned with toiletries, long johns to sleep in, and a complete change of clothes for the morning.
He shut the trunk firmly and followed Ray into the house. "You're in luck," Ray shouted from the kitchen. "There's meatballs!"
"Dief will be thrilled!" Fraser replied. He dropped his backpack in the front hall. Dief preceded him into the kitchen, where Ray was salting a pot of water on the stove.
"Sit down," Ray said, pointing at the kitchen chair.
"But I can assist--"
"Sit!" Ray glared at him. Fraser sat.
Ray retrieved a container of meatballs in sauce from the freezer, put another large pot on the stove and shook the frozen block of food into it. He set the second pot on low flame. Then Ray went back to the fridge, poured a glass of milk and handed it to Fraser, and got a glass of filtered water for himself.
"Thank you, Ray." Fraser drank and tried not to wince at the strange thin taste. He would never understand why someone would want to take the fat out of milk.
"You're welcome." Ray poked at the frozen sauce, swirling the water around in his glass. "I hate this!"
Fraser blinked. "The sauce?"
"The not knowing." Ray leaned back against the counter, looking at Fraser. "Maybe he left a couple of booby traps for good measure. Maybe stuff we won't know about for months." He fetched napkins from one cupboard and two forks and large spoons from a drawer and set the table for dinner.
Fraser rubbed his jaw. "I doubt it. He was looking for a more immediate victory. And remember, he fully expected to kill us both in the junkyard. There's no point in tormenting you further when you're dead and don't know it."
The salted water began to boil. Ray added the noodles. "Could be hedging his bets," Ray said, stirring the melting sauce.
"I really doubt it. He was operating in a linear manner, leading you from point to point."
Ray stirred slowly, looking lost in thought. "It's just hard to believe it's over."
"It was an unusual chase, Ray."
"Sure." Ray stretched, cracked his neck, and sighed. He turned around and took a few steps to stand in front of Fraser, looking down at him. "You'd tell me if something were really wrong, wouldn't you? Really wrong?" He touched Fraser's shoulder lightly.
Ray touched him so easily....
Fraser shivered and chased away his errant thoughts. "I'd tell you."
"Good." Ray's expression was intent. He returned to the stove and stood over it until the noodles were cooked, his shoulders hunched slightly. Fraser sat at the table and drank his milk, thinking of cream and snow.
Ray tested a noodle. "I should have waited on the noodles," Ray said. "The sauce is still half-frozen." He dumped the noodles into a colander, then the colander into a bowl, and drizzled olive oil over the noodles.
"Quite all right, Ray."
Ray slammed down a wooden spoon, making Fraser jump. "No, it's not all right! It's totally wrong! Now when the sauce is done, the noodles are gonna be cold, and that is NOT ALL RIGHT!"
Fraser looked at Ray wordlessly. Ray slumped against the counter and rubbed his face. "I'm sorry, Benny. I'm, I dunno..."
"Overtired," Fraser offered.
"Yeah. Tired." Ray turned up the heat on the sauce and stirred it more vigorously until it was done.
Ray divided the noodles and sauce into three and gave Dief his serving in a plastic bowl under the table before finally sitting down. Fraser tucked his napkin into his collar and tucked in.
Fraser looked up, startled, to find Ray glaring at him. He bit off the noodles in his mouth and swallowed. "Yes?"
"Were you born in a barn?"
Fraser wrinkled his brow. "Yes I was, actually. My mother was visiting her mother, and the barn was the only building in the area with a furnace rather than a wood stove. Horses have a rather delicate constitution."
Ray's eyebrows climbed his forehead as Fraser spoke. "That explains a lot, you know that? An awful lot."
"Does it?" Fraser continued eating. Ray's mother's meatballs were just as good as he remembered.
Ray made popcorn after dinner despite the fact that neither of them were particularly hungry, citing tradition. They adjourned to the living room to watch the video.
"I didn't realize this movie was so slow," Ray said, about twenty minutes in, and then he began to fall asleep.
The popcorn bowl was nearly empty and the movie was nearly over. Dief had commandeered a comfortable chair and appeared to be dreaming of rabbits.
Ray was asleep.
Three times now, his head had begun to sway on his neck, his eyes had drooped, and he had gradually slumped sideways against Fraser's shoulder. Fraser had bent forwards slightly and let Ray sleep, resting against his body, until something startled him awake and he jerked away again.
It felt good to have Ray resting against him. Good in a friendly, comfortable way he hadn't thought about since well before he left Canada, since his dear friend and sometime bed-partner Steve Ready died in an altercation with a polar bear. Since then he'd had his operatic affair with Victoria and precious little else.
Perhaps...the world was full of strange possibilities, was it not?
The fourth time Ray slipped against his shoulder, Fraser bent backwards rather than forwards and let Ray slide sideways into his lap. Ray's sharp shoulder dug painfully into Fraser's leg, but his weight and the warmth of his breath were quite pleasing.
Eventually, he began to stroke Ray's arm.
And when Ray didn't awaken from that contact, he dared to pet the soft shorn fluff of Ray's hair--then the hard muscle of his chest. He learned Ray's feel with his fingers for the first time.
He had never gone this far before with Ray. He had never even let himself wish it. But this time--there was something in the way Ray demanded his presence, a drop of worry that showed an ocean of concern.
At least, he thought he heard that. He could be wrong. He had been wrong before, especially in matters of the heart. He hoped he wasn't wrong this time.
The wind blew a branch against the window and Ray startled awake under Fraser's hands. "Hey--" Ray gripped Fraser's knee as he blinked confusion from his eyes. He pushed himself upright and Fraser didn't stop him. Fraser tried not to feel a sense of loss--but it was difficult.
Ray rubbed the bridge of his nose, blinking at the credits. "Movie's over," he said.
"Indeed it is."
Ray hooked his hand behind his neck. "You had your hands on me," he said.
Excitement and fear climbed Fraser's spine. "Yes," he said, his mouth going dry.
"I didn't think you were that way." Ray was still watching the television. The credits gave way to a blue screen as the tape reached the end and began to rewind.
Fraser swallowed. "Apparently I am."
Ray ran both hands over his head. "Time for bed," he announced.
Ray brushed his teeth as Fraser tidied the living room. Fraser brushed his teeth as Ray changed into his pajamas. Ray checked the locks and windows as Fraser changed into his long johns. Fraser waited uncertainly in the hallway as Ray ascended the stairs, looking for some sign of what Ray expected to happen next. He supposed that he had made a pass at Ray, and it was up to Ray to decide how to respond to it.
The homey striped pajamas clashed with the startling beauty of Ray's eyes, Fraser decided as he watched Ray walk toward him. Ray's expression was soft with sleep. "Waiting for an engraved invitation?" Ray asked, gesturing toward his own room.
Fraser paused. "I wasn't sure--"
"If that touching business wasn't a pass, you've gotta let me know right now so I can get the spare bed made up," Ray said.
Fraser stood stock still. He didn't trust himself to move--his thoughts themselves seemed to process at glacial speed. Ray wasn't upset--Ray was far from upset--Ray was offering--
"That was a pass," Fraser said, and amazingly, that seemed to be all there was to it. Ray waved Fraser into his bedroom and Fraser accepted the offer by crossing the threshold.
He felt lightheaded and absurdly relieved. When he passed Ray, he could feel the aura of heat radiating from his body, sending shivers over Fraser's skin.
"What side do you sleep on?"
Fraser blinked. "The center, usually." He looked at the bed.
"Figures." Ray shut the door. "I sleep on the right."
"Duly noted." Fraser clasped his hands behind his back and then unclasped them, feeling ridiculous. "That puts me on the left, then."
Ray poked Fraser between the shoulderblades. "Get into bed, Benny."
Fraser took a deep breath, bent over, folded back the sheets and blankets and got into bed, wondering if there was an etiquette to sleeping with a new lover. Nearly all his previous liaisons had begun outdoors, where affairs were naturally more informal, and his grandmother's "Etiquette for All Seasons" was shockingly lacking in certain areas.
The sheets were soft and smelled of fabric softener. The bed bowed and flexed gently as Ray slipped into bed and reached up to turn off the bedside light. Fraser wasn't blushing but his skin felt prickly-hot all the same.
"I'm all out," Ray sighed. His arm brushed against Fraser's as he settled into the bedclothes. Fraser reached out and found Ray's hand, clasping it between their bodies.
"I'll keep watch," Fraser said.
Ray squeezed his hand once for comfort and twice for leverage, rolling over until his breath brushed against Fraser's cheek. "Goodnight, Benny," he said, bent down, and kissed Fraser.
Fraser would happily be kidnapped and bound ten times over for such kisses from someone he loved so dearly and so well.
Ray settled against him, tangling his limbs with Fraser's. "Goodnight, Ray," Fraser murmured into the soft fluff on Ray's head. He listened to the wind and thought about possibilities as Ray fell asleep.
Fraser awoke to Ray's lips on his throat. "I can't sleep," Ray said, and began to kiss him, each kiss leading down his chest.
Fraser whistled as he mixed the batter. Dief whined for a portion of it.
"Shush. Just because it happened once doesn't mean it'll happen this time." Fraser flicked a drop of water on the griddle. It skated rather than sizzled, so the griddle was perfect.
"Twice, then. You're still not getting any." He ladled four perfect circles of buckwheat pancake batter onto the griddle and sprinkled walnuts and thin banana slices into the center of the cakes.
He heard Ray's slippers against the wood floor of the hallway and turned to beam at him. "Good morning, Ray!"
"Morning, Benny." Ray rubbed his eyes, smiling, and shuffled over to stand beside Fraser at the stove. "Pancakes, huh."
"I thought we should have a proper start to the day."
Ray slid his hand down Fraser's arm, grasping his wrist lightly and turning it over. "Fraser..."
There were sharp purple marks ringing both wrists from the wire bonds. "They look worse than they are."
"There's bruises on your face, too," Ray said. "I guess they won't want you on guard duty." He touched Fraser's cheek.
"No, that generally isn't the image the Consulate wants to project." Fraser flipped the pancakes. "Are you all right, Ray?"
"Got a few scratches. No big deal. Got some aches from last night, though." Ray poked Fraser's hip in emphasis.
Fraser smiled at the griddle and dished up the pancakes. "As do I, Ray. But I have found," as he turned to Ray, "that it fades with time." He cupped Ray's face between his hands and kissed him, feeling most unreasonably hopeful.
the end, for now.