by Mary Ellen
Disclaimer: I don't own Ray or Fraser. Alliance does.
Author's Notes: Thanks to Cerise for constant advice and encouragement and to Mia, Anne and Miriam for thoughtful beta and not allowing me to be lazy. Anything that's good is them, anything bad is me.
On what he would later regard as Day One, Fraser was unperturbed about his inability to sleep. He'd annoyed Dief with his restlessness and had risen before dawn, but that was nothing new.
He even made profitable use of the time. He dusted his office and got an early start on his paperwork, completing the last blanks on a 89B/3 form just as Inspector Thatcher's voice floated down the hall. Sighing to himself, he realized that he should have made an effort to leave even earlier.
"I unequivocally requested a mocha cafe latte, Turnbull. There is simply no excuse for your inability to follow even the simplest instructions."
Fraser heard Turnbull's stammering response and rolled his eyes.
"Good morning Inspector Thatcher, Turnbull. I'll be back this afternoon." He saw her open her mouth, and he continued hurriedly, "You'll find those passport replacement forms, the immigration requests, in triplicate of course, and my personal reports on my desk. I've taken the liberty of updating my files, and I shall return from assisting Detective Kowalski sometime in the early afternoon barring any unforeseen complications."
Fraser allowed himself a polite nod as the Inspector`s mouth snapped shut, and he strode briskly to the door and the true beginning of his day. He headed toward the precinct, Diefenbaker by his side.
"Perhaps tonight we'll add a few miles to our exercise." Dief whined. "You're right, of course, I have been neglecting my physical activity."
The walk felt delightful, as did the thought that he would have the whole day free to devote to his liaison activities. Rescuing Ray from his desk and his own towering masses of paperwork might even earn Fraser an arm draped around his shoulder. Whatever the result, it was shaping up to be a delightful day.
But by his third day without a significant amount of sleep, Fraser began to feel desperation settling over him like a second skin.
Blinking gritty eyes, straightening the tunic that he'd been too tired to iron this morning, Fraser reassured himself that no matter how grimy he felt, he had in fact showered this morning. He knew that he had, because he remembered standing under sizzling hot water, praying for it to jar him awake.
Dief pranced on ahead, turning around frequently. Fraser noted that their expanded exercise regime seemed to be suiting the wolf for once. He supposed that he should be counting his blessings. He was on his way to the precinct and Ray. Ray had been the one person yesterday who hadn't looked at him as though he were about to snap.
When he finally arrived, he braced himself as Francesca seemed to appear out of nowhere, all solicitous concern.
"Fraser. You look horrible. Well, not horrible, but you're still not sleeping?" He flinched as she grasped his arm.
"I'm fine, Francesca. Just a small sleep disturbance. I'm sure that my sleeping patterns will return to normal very soon." He backed up, scanning the room for Ray.
"Well, you know that if you need anything, anything at all, you can call me day or night." Fraser caught sight of Ray. Backing away quickly, he tried to avoid taking the small packet that she was pressing upon him, finally realizing that it was sleepytime bath tea.
Muttering "Thank you kindly", he headed toward Ray.
"Ready to head out? Let's get going."
As they walked out of the room, Fraser caught Ray glancing sideways at him.
He couldn't help the tinge of irritation that colored his voice. "Is something amiss?"
"Nah. Just wondering if you were planning on seeing a doctor or anything."
Fraser stiffened, annoyed that his safe harbor had become suddenly perilous. "Don't be ridiculous, Ray. I`m not ill or in pain, just a bit sleep deprived."
Another sideways glance. "More like three nights sleep deprived. Why don't you take a nap or something? Y'gotta sleep at some point, Fraser."
"I don't need a nap, Ray."
Fraser made his tone was glacial as he changed the topic of conversation. "So, what do you think of Mr. Mandell? He seemed more than a little suspicious, don't you agree?"
As Ray responded, discussing their newest suspect, Fraser relaxed. He was glad to see that Ray was amenable to a change of subject and he was certain that today's exertion would be exactly what his fatigued body required. Tonight he'd even take a bath, as much as he disliked the inefficiency of soaking in dirty water. Perhaps Francesca's remedy would also assist him.
That afternoon, as he'd prepared to leave, the lieutenant had called him into his office with a sympathetic glance.
"Constable. You've been having troubles. I can tell."
"I am deeply sorry, Lieutenant. It is inexcusable of me to allow personal issues to intrude upon my duties." He allowed his irritation to show through the words, almost negating their politeness.
"Just take it." Fraser accepted the proffered flask, opening the cap and sniffing. Reeling back from the alcoholic fumes, he started to hand it back, shaking his head vehemently.
"It's brandy. I'm not suggesting that you go out and get plastered, Constable. A drink before bedtime can relax you. A temporary solution, but practical. Works better than that herbal garbage that I see Ms. Vecchio shoving at you."
Nodding thanks that he didn't feel, Fraser walked out of the office, determined to return the flask the next day. Thankfully Ray was driving him home, as he was unsure that he could make it home and still have the energy to exercise Diefenbaker.
Hours later, he was staring at the silver flask. He was aware of the potential amplification of the brandy's effect as a result of his lack of sleep. Still, perhaps one small glass would not be amiss. He sloshed the liquid into a glass and almost gagged at the first small sip. Another small sip and there was a warmth spreading through his stomach.
His next few tastes were less tentative, until he was drinking the brandy normally. Pouring out another measure, refilling the glass until he emptied the flask, Fraser smiled to himself..
"Diefenbaker. Remind me to thank Lieutenant Welsh tomorrow!" He could have sworn that the wolf laughed at him. Charmed at the notion, Fraser tossed back the last two gulps in the glass.
"We're off to bed." Fraser headed down the hallway toward his bedroom, skidding and sliding upon the floors, which Turnbull had meticulously waxed earlier in the day. He made a mental note to congratulate the young constable for his skill as he dropped into bed, stripping off only his tunic.
When Fraser woke up three and a half hours later with a pounding head, a nasty taste in his mouth and the insistent feeling that his dinner wasn't quite comfortable where it was, he remembered again why he made a habit of avoiding liquor.
Turnbull found him hunched over his desk the following morning.
"Constable Fraser! Was there perhaps an altercation last night?"
Fraser turned bleary eyes upward. "Whatever would lead you to such a conclusion?"
Turnbull gestured excitedly. "The streaks. My floor. "
"Give it a rest, Turnbull."
Fraser couldn't even dredge up the beginnings of remorse for his uncharacteristic irritation. There was something quite satisfactory about Turnbull's surprise and his slow and cautious retreat.
Several minutes later, Turnbull approached again, hesitantly and concerned. Fraser looked up, more than ready to ask him even more bluntly to leave when he saw the heavy earthenware mug cradled cautiously in Turnbull's hands.
"Coffee, Constable Fraser?" Turnbull was clearly making amends, and Fraser was more than willing to accept them.
"Thank you kindly, Turnbull." Fraser waited. He took another sip and waited again. "Why isn't it waking me up?" He was startled by the plaintive tone, and scowled at Turnbull to hide it.
"Oh sir, I would never serve you caffeinated coffee. Not with your current, uh, problems." As Turnbull nodded his head,backing out of the room, Fraser realized that he was being ignored.
Deciding that the search for genuine coffee would be far too tiring, Fraser turned back to his paperwork.
When Inspector Thatcher called him on the intercom, requesting his presence, Fraser was surprised to note that two hours had passed. He'd probably been productive, he just couldn't actually remember doing anything.
He rapped on her door, reluctantly entering when directed to do so.
"Fraser, something has to be done about your situation!"
"What situation exactly?" The words were proper. The tone was not, and again, he couldn't seem to care.
Inspector Thatcher pointed toward a pile of papers. "The errors, Constable Fraser. You're making errors that I wouldn't even expect from Turnbull. It's absolutely unacceptable."
Fraser compressed his lips. He wouldn't respond, wouldn't give in to the desire to say something absolutely scathing. He just maintained eye contact.
She broke the gaze first, he noted with some small satisfaction. Shaking her head, shooing him out. "Just leave. Get out of here. Go and destroy American things."
There was a mean sense of satisfaction in simply leaving, letting the door bang behind him and neglecting to say goodbye to Constable Turnbull. He tried to remember how excited he had been just a few days ago to be heading toward the police station, intent upon police work and maintaining order and justice. He supposed that he should be anticipating spending potentially productive time with Ray.
He knew that he cared about Ray, possibly even loved him. Fraser was capable of remembering, in the abstract, how he felt, but he just couldn't seem to care.
Three days later, Fraser was finding it impossible to remember why he had ever enjoyed working with Ray. Their case was winding up, only a few pieces left to fall into place. That explained why they were trapped in Ray's GTO, staring at a small, dingy pawnshop. Ray was squirming, and Fraser was fuming, irritated rather than enchanted by Ray's perpetual motion.
"Is it possible for you to remain still?" The wounded look he received actually gave him a twinge of guilt.
Still, Ray's pent up energy, the tension that was currently manifesting itself in tapping fingers and endless fidgeting, made him angrier than Fraser could remember being in quite some time. He closed his eyes, leaning back against the headrest and pretended to himself that he didn't want to just lean over and make Ray sit still.
Fraser fought his way back through a fog. His mind reluctantly tore itself away from pretty hallucinations of a snowy field, wherein he'd have the opportunity to bury his jumpy partner in about a foot of powdery, easily compacted snow. He realized that said partner was indeed speaking, had been speaking for quite some time, if the level of concern and irritation was any gauge.
"Fraser! You in there?" Ray sounded like he was about to reach over and shake him, and Fraser knew that if such contact were to occur, it would, in all probability, result in some form of bloodshed.
Fraser forced himself to sit forward and open his eyes, purposely not making eye contact, staring toward the pawnshop and nodding. He hoped that Ray would shut up and let him get on with his sulking in peace.
"Look, you gotta do something. You can't go on like this."
Clearly, hoping that Ray would be silent and allow him to enjoy a moment of peace was futile. The concern and caring in Ray's voice should have calmed Fraser . Instead, it infuriated him.
He should say something, he knew, but all he could manage to do was collapse back against the seat. He dimly heard Ray calling his name again as his eyelids sank closed.
Far too soon, he was being shaken awake, feeling just a little bit better. Not rested, his mind registered, just not quite homicidal anymore. Blinking, annoyed, he focused on Ray's face swimming before his eyes - far too close.
"Is it time for my bedtime kiss?" He enjoyed Ray's surprised flinch on a purely mean, visceral level, one that he rarely indulged in. Right at this moment though, he realized that he didn't care.
"If a kiss from me'll send you off to pretty dreams, Fraser, I'll pucker up quicker'n you can say Moosejaw. Doubt that's our answer though, so haul ass outta the car and c'mon up."
Fraser blinked sleepily. Their location had changed. Instead of the pawnshop and the dim alley, they were parked right down the street from Ray's apartment. He felt a flash of disorientation, a now familiar haze, that made his head spin. Then came the irritation, the urge to just snuggle back down into the car seat.
He wanted to inquire why they'd stopped the stakeout, why Ray wasn't dropping him off at the Consulate; why Ray had roused him from a pleasant dream involving tundra, warm oil and Ray's hands. He managed a semi coherent "Where? What?"
Ray grinned, and for a moment, Fraser felt awake and energized and full of all sorts of ideas and comments that were all unmistakably bad. Struggling out of the car, he leaned on the hood, the crisp bite of cold metal snapping him back into reality as he waited for answers.
"You missed it. You were out like a busted light, and even if I wanted to sic Rip Van Winkle on the bad guys, they'd have outrun you. Woulda been messed up." Ray was shaking his head as he grabbed Fraser's arm and bustled him into the apartment building, filling him in on the successful bust, and how he'd slept through the entire thing.
Mixed up in all of Ray's teasing and bullying was a thread of real concern, which managed to punch through the apathy and irritation and strip Fraser down to bare bones, all nerves and tension and helplessness. Sinking down onto the squishy couch, he just stared.
Ray fixed some warm milk, chattering away. Far too quickly for Fraser's jangled nerves, Ray had two mugs full and was sitting down on the couch beside him.
Fraser couldn't help but look wistfully at the clock. It was 11:30, what used to be his bedtime. Ray followed the glance, suddenly getting brisk and matter of fact.
"Been there, Benton buddy. Been sleepless and mad and thought I'd never feel alive again. Doesn't last forever. I know y'don't believe that now, though, so here's what we're gonna do." Ray gulped down his warm milk and gestured to Fraser to do the same.
Ray grabbed Fraser's hand and led him to the bedroom. Noting the flicker of alarm, he grinned. "Nothing like that, you pervert. Got no designs on your sleepy, studly ass."
Fraser had only a moment to register the 'studly' portion of Ray's comment before Ray was stripping and indicating that he should do the same. Sitting down gingerly on the bed, he shook his head stubbornly.
Ray walked right up into his personal space. "Not hitting on you. You're sleeping over, and you might as well be comfortable."
Fraser regarded this comment with more than a little skepticism. Granted, he wasn't familiar with all the customs that Americans observed, but he was fairly certain that stripping down to unmentionables and calling one's partner `studly' didn't fall under the heading of any male bonding that he'd ever seen.
Still, Ray had obviously put thought into this `cure', and he was an honorable man. There would be no worries about inappropriate lack of attire. If he was being honest with himself, he'd also admit that even if Ray were making overtures, there was no way that he was in any way capable of dealing with them.
Ray paused to make sure that Fraser's clothes were coming off and continued. "See, the worst part about the whole not sleeping thing is laying there and being alone and bored. So, we'll stay up together. We won't even try to sleep. You don`t have to worry about boring me, and if you don`t want to talk, I will"
He stopped again, looking a little uncertain. "Besides, it's good not to be in the same place, y'know? Where you're all frustrated and there's all those expectations?" Fraser watched Ray shift uncomfortably and admired the play of lean muscles under his tank top, before turning away guiltily, unwilling to indulge his more prurient impulses.
Sliding into the cool sheets of Ray's bed, Fraser jumped a little when Ray slid in beside him and snapped off the light. Snuggling down, the mattress eons softer than his own cot, he couldn't help reaching out and patting Ray's arm, the skin under his hand feeling alive and electric and soothing, all at once.
"Ray, I know that according to your plan you're supposed to be the one talking." He stopped, unsure of what to say. "Just. Thank you kindly for not forcing noxious messes on me or making me sit in a bathtub."
Ray turned toward him, his spiky hair half flattened against the pillow as he met Fraser's eyes. "Hey, no worries, Frase. We've all been there, y'know. Can't imagine it's a piece of cake for Super Mountie to admit defeat, 'specially against his own body."
Fraser shrugged. "It hasn't anything to do with being a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Ray. It's just illogical. When one is tired, one should sleep."
"Yeah, but you're not exactly the most chill person, Fraser. You're kinda high tension, take the bull by the horns, wrestle it to the ground and tell it Inuit stories."
"That's just simply not true, Ray. I'm as capable of relaxation as the next man, and I fail to see what the Inuit have to do with my inability to sleep." Fraser felt, rather than heard the laughter that preceded Ray's next question.
"So, Frase, you're relaxing, you're chilling. What's that involve? A high speed police chase and a few hundred rabid caribou?"
Fraser remained silent, annoyance pricking him into alertness.
"Y'know, I've seen you relax. You're at full attention even when you're in your pajamas. Your idea of light bedside reading is probably War and Peace. The Russian edition." Another soundless chuckle, and Fraser's irritation grew.
"Forgive me, Ray, but I thought that the goal of this whole exercise was to attempt to lull me into sleep, not to tease me about my inability to do so."
"Nope. The goal is to tease you until you admit that you can't relax. And then you admit that you need me to teach you how to kick back. I bet you haven't even tried the best, most time honored solution."
Fraser shifted, hoping that Ray wasn't about to question him about...
"Do little Mounties choke the chicken?"
Fraser groaned, abandoning that particular hope. "I fail to see what slaughtering domestic fowl has to do with my sleeping patterns."
"You've got to be kidding me. You're not serious." Fraser felt Ray turn to face him, and his eyes must have finally adjusted to the dimness, because he could see Ray, the annoyance and amusement warring for control of his face.
Fraser decided that he could not avoid the subject by feigning innocence. He sighed. "I am, in fact, familiar with that euphemism. I do not, however, see it as an appropriate topic of conversation."
Ray was quiet for a moment; just long enough for Fraser to settle down and pretend to drift back into his sleep haze.
"Y'know, I could almost believe that you don't, uh, do that."
Fraser flipped his pillow, punching it lightly, searching out a cool place. "It's a perfectly natural biological function, Ray." He was annoyed again, both at his sulky tone and at Ray for starting this odd conversation when they were only 12 inches apart.
Ray whooped. "Perfectly natural biological function, my ass."
Fraser was tired. "Yes, Ray, it is your ass." If he weren't quite so tired, he would have clapped a hand over his mouth. Months of censoring his thoughts, his words and his actions all undone by a slight bit of sleep deprivation.
Horrified, he shifted, uncomfortably aware that the subject was taking its toll. One specific area of his body was no longer fatigued. He was completely, achingly erect at the thought of Ray's ass and at the notion of Ray masturbating.
Fraser was shocked out of his reverie, disconcerted by the slightly intrigued tone of Ray`s next comment. "Uh, Fraser? What the hell is that supposed to mean?"
"That was sarcasm, Ray." Fraser yawned ostentatiously, stretching and rearranging the sheets, hoping that Ray would ignore the non sequitur.
"Ray, it is inappropriate to discuss such personal matters. It's unseemly."
"Well, Frase, if you're jerkin' to my non-existent ass, I get to say when we're done talking."
Fraser yawned again, feigning fatigue and rolling over.
"Don't turn your back on me, Fraser!"
He felt Ray reach over to yank him onto his back and things snapped into an odd sort of slow motion, as Ray brushed his erection and he couldn't help the hiss through clenched teeth and the odd little thrust toward the momentary pressure.
"Uh, Frase. Is the weird vibe another insomnia thing, kinda like the whole sleeping through the shootout and bein' snarky to everyone?"
Fraser remained silent, unwilling to lie, still facing away. Ray's hand came back slowly, inching, allowing its presence to register. It finally stroked along Fraser's front, sending little tingles through his body, eliciting a breathy little gasp, even through the layers of clothing.
"Fraser. We good here, or are your Canadian feathers all ruffled? I mean, I said I wasn't gonna take advantage of you."
Fraser arched into the suddenly still hand. "I will be fine, Ray." Movement, light and teasing.
A sudden flurry of movement and he was exposed, the meager protection of the sheet stripped away and the cool air bathing his skin. Thoughts flashed in his mind; that he should roll over, that he should perhaps kiss Ray, that they should be talking.
The slippery soft heat of Ray's hand, twisting and stroking, shattered the thoughts right out of Fraser's mind. There was not enough time for gentleness, only for the slide and selfish arch. The hard body pressed against his, and he was coming, messy and satisfying.
Embarrassment, that he'd been so selfish, that he'd just messed up the clean sheets, warred with the satisfaction and the warmth of the man snuggled up behind him.
"I can feel the wheels turning inside your head, Fraser. Let it go. You're good, I'm good, we'll talk about it tomorrow. Nature's sleeping pill, I told ya." He could hear the satisfaction seep through Ray's voice.
"But Ray..." Fraser felt himself drifting off to sleep, Ray's arm draped loosely across his side, even as he tried to roll over, tried to reciprocate.
He could almost taste the indulgent chuckle. "There'll be tomorrow, tough guy."