Disclaimer: I don't own these characters. If I did, they wouldn't be let out of the bedroom.
Author's Notes: This is my first fanfic ever, Woo Hoo. Be kind. Nah. Be honest.
Story Notes: I have failed to put a crime into this story. Just assume that Ben is mugged. I figure, with his luck with criminals, it's a definite possibility.
He woke up in a hot sweat. Threaded through with needles and tubes, he felt restrained and uncomfortable. As he began to take in his surroundings, panic set in. Where was he? Wait. Pause. Think. He remembered the smell...he was in a hospital. As he tried to sit up, he felt that the pain seemed to be emanating from one location, the back of his head. The man reached his left hand to the back of his head and gingerly felt the rather large bump underneath the bandaging in place around his head. What was going on? And who was the man beside him, cradling his right hand in the arms he was currently sleeping on. That explained weird prickly feeling in that hand at least. Unnerving though, not knowing who this guy who was holding him quite lovingly was. He should know that right? That was strange, wasn't it?
He put his left hand back on the covers but left his right hand to be squished. It felt comfortable and more importantly, comforting. He examined the man at his side, wit his wild blond hair on top of tanned soft looking skin and long luxuriant lashes that would not be out of place on a girl. He wondered if the hair felt like silk or like straw. Knowing no reason to not do so, he reached his hand out and touched the spikes. They were soft to the touch, and he automatically began carding his fingers through the rebellious hair until the head moved and made a content little humming noise. A feeling of guilt crept over the man and he quickly removed his hand and rested it lightly on the covers. The face looked up, and he was treated to the sight of the most wonderful blue green eyes; they had depth like an ocean.
"Fraser? Fraser! Thank you God, you're awake!" A smile like the sun alit on the blonde's face, creating wrinkles that made his grin even more welcoming. God, could this man be any more tempting? Oh, he was still calling for him. Well, at least he new his name now. Fraser. Odd. Oh. The man was waiting for an answer. "Yeah, 'guess so, eh?" Fraser replied as best as he could. The other man's eyes honed in on his own, searching for something, maybe reassurance. "I'm going to get a doctor, Frase. Dief, make sure he doesn't leave." the man said now. Hmm. Dief? Who was Dief? Another person perhaps? He scanned the room and drew a quick intake of breath at the sight of a wolf in his room. Was he imagining things? Oh great, this was just perfect. Maybe he was insane as well. Luckily, just as his musings were getting more and more panicked, he was interrupted by the first man returning with another, older one.
"So Constable Fraser, how are we feeling?" Ah, he hated the royal we.
"I'm uh, fine. My head hurts a bit, but that'll pass right, doc?" Fraser returned as best as he could and then turned to look at the blonde man who had a suspicious and unhappy look on his face.
"Yes, that ache will eventually pass. Mr. Vecchio, would you mind leaving your partner for a bit?" the doctor asked as kindly as possible. Fraser watched as his partner left with a last worried look.
"So Constable, can you tell me anything about what happened to help you land in the hospital?" Benton could hear an unspoken concern in the question.
"Uh no. I actually don't remember much...at all" Fraser responded, adding the last part rather quietly as his voice tapered off.
"Mr. Fraser, can you tell me what your partner's name is?" the doctor queried back immediately -- he had some suspicions of the nature of the head injury, and he wanted them disproved as quickly as possible, considering the fact that Benton Fraser was one of his favourite patients.
"Mr. Vecchio." Fraser answered without hesitation, but as soon as it was out of his mouth he knew he had it wrong. Why wouldn't he know the first name of his partner?
"Mr. Fraser, what's your first name?" Fraser felt that this was very quickly becoming a cross examination.
Fraser looked pensively at the doctor, his fingers flicking at his eyebrow.
"What is that on the ground?" the doctor asked next, pointing to the wolf. He had a sneaking suspicion that his concerns about the severity of the constable's condition were true. This was not good.
"A wolf. I believe his name is Dief." Fraser replied, with little to none of the confidence that the man usually displayed. The look that the Doctor gave him was drawn. As far as he knew, the wolf was Benton Fraser's best friend besides Ray Kowalski, and for him not to know either was, frankly, unsettling. With a squeeze of Fraser's shoulder the doctor made reassuring sounds, and left to speak with the group in the hallway. Fraser tried to relax, but found he couldn't push down the nagging feeling that all was very, very wrong in his head.
When the doctor approached Ray, Frannie, Det. Welsh, and Sgt. Thatcher, he had an expression his face that did not bode well. Dr. Walters really hated this part of the job.
"I'm forced to admit Constable Fraser has amnesia. It is, I believe, selective, but he must undergo extensive tests before we know what's going on." The thunderous reaction he had expected didn't happen. his audience was shocked into silence. He could've heard a pin drop. Concern was written across everybody's faces. The good doctor continued his speech, explaining the tests, and finally ending with the phrase, "we don't want to stress him out, so please help him as much as possible by not aggravating him with questions or comments he won't have the answer to. It will just put undue pressure on him. If two of you at a time would like to visit between tests, then that would be fine. We'll let you know when he can have visitors." Dr Walters turned and left, already calling over several nurses to begin testing.
"I'm going to stay with him. You guys can work out whoever is with me between your selves." Ray snarled, obviously upset. God. It was his partner with amnesia...it was his friend, the man he felt he shared his soul with. He was so worried, that he cared fuck all about any of the other people in that waiting room.
He rubbed the wetness off of his face roughly and walked to the hospital cafeteria to pass the time until he could see Fraser again. Grabbing some coffee, not even paying attention to the flavour, he went and sat down in one of the hospital green plastic chairs. Fuck, his cheeks were wet again. He surreptitiously wiped his face off and was startled with the appearance of an older mountie in front of him. Upset by the recent upheaval in his life, Ray didn't even bother asking who the guy was.
The mountie leaned forward earnestly and said quietly," I know it's going to be difficult, but you need to help Benton. He's going to need you in more ways than you think in the next few weeks, and you'd better be strong for him." Ray leaned back in his chair. "Of course I'll be there for him. He's my best friend." he replied waspishly to the older man. "Son, don't take me for a fool. I know you've fallen into the bottle when things have gotten difficult in the past. This time Benton is depending on you. I'm depending on you. And whether or not you believe me, your future is depending on you." With that rather cryptic final statement, the mountie walked out of the cafeteria. Ray shook his head. The nerve of some people, he thought. Then, in some small corner of his mind he guiltily admitted the fact that he had just been craving a glass of JD. The warning had come in good time. This time he'd head his drinking off at the pass, and simply never take that first sip. Fuck. One more thing to worry about. And damn, but that man reminded him of someone. Whatever, it didn't matter, anyways. Probably just another Turnbull. He finished his coffee, had a smoke, and left for Fraser's room.
Between the tests, Ray visited along with a wide variety of other people. The first week brought Welsh back occasionally, Thatcher and Turnbull, Frannie and most of the Vecchio's and even Huey and Duey. Fraser was looking better; actually looking more at peace than he had ever looked before. Ray was, on the other hand, looking worse for wear by the end of the week. This guy who was wearing Frase's body and voice was not his Fraser and it freaked him right out.
At the end of the first week, the tests were done, and the doctor decided to address Ray, the Vecchios, and an assortment of law enforcement officials from both sides of the border about the next step. "Well people, it seems as if Fraser has selective memory loss. He remembers the basic things - what food is, what the things around him are, and how to interact and communicate, but he doesn't remember specifics, like his favourite food, his past, and who his friends and family are. He doesn't even know what he does for a living. Now from what I can tell from the x-rays, this isn't a case of psychological amnesia, it seems to be linked to a small amount of swelling that occurred when he was hurt. I believe that the swelling will go down, but that doesn't mean that he's going to remember everything exactly as it was." He let the array of people react to his first statement before continuing on. "The question I need to address is where he will be the most at ease recuperating. He can not be alone for long periods of time for this next week." Dr Walters looked around at the group collected in the hospital hallway, then glanced subtly at Fraser's partner. As far as he was concerned there was no choice in the matter. He knew where Fraser needed to go. But unfortunately this was not a matter up to his discretion.
That's when they started arguing. Thatcher insisted that he should either go back to Canada or stay at the consulate - her rationale being that those were Fraser's most important memories. Ray smirked, thinking she was clearly deluded. The consulate didn't hold a candle to pizza, tea and a hockey game for him and Fraser.
Frannie and Ma Vecchio were adamant that Fraser was to stay at their house. After all, they had known him the longest, and could provide the most warmth and comfort for Fraser. He checked his sneer just as it played upon his lips. Ma was a good woman. Frannie was a good woman too, but ... well, it wouldn't surprise Ray to learn that there was a bit of animal in one of the Vecchios other than the fashion pig. Even the doctor didn't seem to like the speculative gleam that appeared in Miss Vecchio's eyes. And so the quarrel began in earnest.
Thatcher rebutted with a rather snarky remark about Frannie's intentions to which the young woman replied with a rather ageist comment. Not needing to hear more, Ray slipped out around the milieu and walked quietly to Fraser's room.
He was alone with Fraser for the first time since Frase had woken up. The handsome man was sleeping and Ray took the opportunity to look at his partner. He was so relaxed, his mouth curling up at the sides almost smiling-like. And the hair was messier than Ray's own admittedly experimental hair. His Fraser would never stand for that. Before he could stop himself, he was using his fingers to comb Fraser's hair into some semblance of order. However, he thought to himself, it was cute messy. Maybe he should leave it that way. Unthinkingly he just let his hands run through the soft hair that was just a little greasy from being in a hospital for a week. Mmm soft and thick. It felt good against his palm. When the deep blue grey eyes popped open, he was too startled to move. The almost smile curved into a full blown Fraser smile and he kept staring.
"Hi Frase." Ray slowly took his hand out of the Mounties's hair and blushed, but before either of the men could figure out what was going on, everybody was in the room.
Frannie spoke first, beating Thatcher by a second.
"Oh Ben" She purred, "we just think it would be great if you came home with us for the next little while. So I'm just going to get you packed okay hon?"
"On the contrary! He needs his home away from home," interrupted Thatcher, "he will come back to the consulate and Turnbull shall take care of him" and with that, the brawl started over again.
Ray looked at Fraser and saw how dismayed his partner was getting, then he noticed something else. Fraser wasn't really distressed, he was actually just getting angry. Ray, for that one moment, realized what an alpha really was. "Hey, Shut the Fuck up!" a voice yelled. Every one looked around. And then they realized that it was Fraser who had yelled. "Frase?" Ray called quietly, "You okay?" he'd never heard the mountie swear. "Yeah, Ray, I'm fine. I don't fucking know who I am, I don't fucking know who anyone else is, and fucking mob rule is coming into effect into my hospital room. Yeah. I'm fine. Perfectly. Fucking. Fine." This time everyone was silently in shock. "Look. I don't know why the fuck you're all arguing over me. I'm obviously going to go home with my partner. Oh, and Franny, I may not know who you are, but I recognize the predatory look in your eyes. And Thatcher? Stop being such a bitch." At that, Ray just had to snicker. The situation was so unreal.
He laughed until he cried and then felt a hand on his back. Fraser was rubbing circles on his back. He looked up to see the room was empty except for the two of them. then glanced back at Fraser and smirked. "That's one way to get rid of 'em!" He got up off the bed and began to collect the small items off the window putting them semi-neatly into one of the gift baskets. Ray then found the bag of clothes in the closet. "Here, change into these in the bathroom while I get those guys to come in and bring the rest of the stuff to my car." He tossed the bag at Fraser and left. By the time Fraser had successfully untied the crazy hospital gown lingerie, gotten into an awfully tight pair of jeans, white plain under things, loose white Henley shirt, and baggy blue plaid button up shirt, and exited the bathroom, there was a sort of queue of people with flowers going out the door. Ray passed him his boots He threw them on without tying them up and picked up the last big bouquet of flowers. Ray grunted and grabbed them out of his hands. "'m not allowed to let you stress yourself out at all for the next week, so grab your back pack, and follow me." Fraser did, taking in the muscles that flexed under the black tight t-shirt the blonde wore. He grinned a very un-mountie like grin to himself. Now he just had to figure out what kind of partners they were. And maybe get into a black T-shirt of his own. Oh yeah. And figure out who the hell he was. Yeah, it was last on his list for a reason, and a damn good reason at that.
When the group from the hospital had unloaded the flowers and gifts from their cars and said good bye, Ray and Fraser went up the stairs to the apartment. Once inside, they stood eyeing each other uncertainly. Ray went over and put on some music to sooth his soul. Ramones. Oh yeah. He needed a little pick me up after the mess in the hospital. He picked up a pile of police files and handed them to Fraser, who had sat down on the couch. "The doctor told me that in order to regain your memory, you're going to have to stretch it a bit. Kinda like physical therapy. Reading those files may help. They may be a little dis, ditr,uhhh" he waited for his partner to correct him. Damn. Frase was looking expectantly at him for the next word. "Disturbing. They'll be disturbing, but they may remind you of stuff. Don't read all of them at once. Maybe two or three at a time. Uhm. I'm gonna take a shower now, and then I'll make dinner. By the time I'm done, Turnbull will be here with Dief." Ray ran his hands through his hair. The old mountie was right. God he wanted a drink right now. But he just simply couldn't. Ray grabbed some clothes from his bedroom, a couple of towels, and headed for the shower.
Once under the hot spray, behind the locked door, he let himself crumble. He missed Fraser so badly it was an ache in his chest. God. Who knew he had gotten so attached to the freak. The guy in there was just a pod person. No. He wasn't. He couldn't think that way. He was Frase. He was, dammit. He would remember. Sometimes he even did the nervous ticks Frase did. Ray just had to figure out how to bring his memories back. He shut off the spray, dried himself and threw on a pair of worn jeans and a white t-shirt.
Once in the kitchen, he calmed down and lost himself in the regularity of making dinner for him and for Frase. God knows he did it often enough. He moved his head to the music and bopped up and down on the balls of his feet while putting the stew on the stove his mom had sent over, and popping some fresh bread in the stove. "just get me to the airport and put me on a plane...hurry hurry hurry, before I go insane, I can't control my fingers I can't control my brain no noh-oh-oh-oh-oh", he suddenly stopped when he realized he was singing out loud. And dancing. While Fraser was staring at him with some weird look in his eye. He stopped. "Hey Frase, you want some tea? I got your favourite..." Fraser looked thoughtful. "Actually, Ray, could I have a beer?" Ray froze. "Uh Frase, you don't drink." "Never?" "...well except for toasts to the queen, no, never." Ray assured him. "Plus, with your injury, you shouldn't be drinking anyways." Fraser looked sheepish.
"...Ah, Ray?" another neck crack, this time with an eyebrow scratch, "I have another question. Are these my clothes? I seem to be dressing for someone a half size smaller." A snicker slipped past Ray's lips. Yeah, he had noticed the same thing. Although for him it had been a matter of temptation, whereas for Fraser it was probably one more way to keep himself tucked in and polished. From what he heard, the consulate paid decently, so it couldn't be a lack of money. He had a small apartment as well. Maybe he was saving for something. A cabin perhaps. "Frase, I don't know what to tell you. You probably just never got around to getting some new pairs of jeans." The tall dark haired man looked pensive. "Do I usually tuck my shirts in?" Ray rolled his eyes. Damn. He so didn't want to deal with this. "Yeah. You're usually really clean cut, Frase. You're hair is usually tame, you tuck your buttoned up shirts in, you tuck your t shirts in to your too tight jeans. People don't really care. They like you. For you. You have impeccable manners, and you have perfect grammar. You don't drink, smoke, and rarely do you date."
The pod person who would be Fraser paused and cracked his neck. Ray sighed in relief. HE at least knew that sign. The I'm uncomfortable with something, and I don't know how to quite express myself scratch. "Ray, I sound pretty uptight." he said, unhappiness written in his now expressive eyes. Ray wanted to go hug him, but wasn't sure if that would be too affectionate. He walked over to the mountie and put his hand on his shoulder. "Fraser, everybody loves you. You're a great guy. You're just a perfectionist." Fraser turned into Ray and put his hand on Ray's shoulder. "And how about you. Did you love me?" he said in a rough emotional voice. Ray squinched his eyes. He really didn't want to deal with this. "Yeah, Frase. you were my partner and best friend." Fraser sensed the difficulty in this admittance and backed off. Whatever they were it was 'Frase' not the Benton Fraser that had no memory. "This royally sucks." he whispered and he saw the pain flash in his partners eyes at the last word. Apparently 'Frase' didn't use cuss words. So why did they just keep coming out of his mouth? HE went to the sofa and began to read the files left to him, having nothing better to do.
Ray sighed. He had left the apartment after dinner to go pick up more reports - this time from the consulate - and to take a spin in his GTO. When he came back 2 hours later Fraser was in the exact same position, reading through the stacks of files. The wolf cuddled up to his side, had been surprised when instead of the usual reprimand, he got cuddled back by his human friend. The scene made him feel even more tired for some reason. He wanted to be cuddled next to Frayze. Hell he would have settled for Benton - no, he had to stop thinking like that. Anyways, tonight, he needed his own bed. Or at least his own couch. "Hey Frase, I wanna turn in. Do you want the couch or the bed?" Fraser looked up, his head swimming from the information he had just processed and blinked. What was Ray asking? Oh. Bed. Sounded good. He rubbed his eyes. "Obviously I'll take the couch, right? It's not like I'm gonna take your bed from you." 'unless you're in it' he mentally added to himself. Ray shrugged his shoulders. He really couldn't care less. As long as he got to sleep. "Okay. lemme get you some blankets 'n stuff." He disappeared into his bedroom and came out with a bunch of blankets and pillows, all mismatched, and handed them to his partner along with a pair of old baggy sweats he had in the back of his closet. With a sheepish "Thanks, Ray." Fraser went into the bathroom and got changed. By the time he was out, Ray was already in his room with his door shut. He felt lonelier than he had in a while.
The next couple of days were spent finishing up the files. Apparently this Ray was different from the first Ray, though he didn't remember the original. After everything he read, the only points that his brain conceded was that he had once been called "Benny" and that a general feeling of malaise washed over him when he tried to recall the details of the case that involved a woman named Victoria. There had been more to it, he knew, even though he couldn't for the life of himself say what that was.
Ray was distant. Sure, he filled in some of the details on the cases that they had worked together when asked, but for the most part, he left Fraser to his own devices. Ray simply couldn't seem to deal with the man he now distinctively referred to as Benton. He missed the quirkiness of his old friend, and wished that just for one night, he could have his 'Frayse' back. There was just so much to say...
By the second week, Fraser was feeling cooped up inside the apartment, and needed to get out. While scrambling through his stuff, he alighted on a bank book - perfectly balanced, of course, and was pleased to find that his savings account was quite ample. What he needed to do was convince Ray that he was healthy enough to warrant a trip out. He was downright claustrophobic in this small apartment.
"Ray?" Fraser quietly said to get the other man's attention
"Yeah, Benton?" Ray snapped back.
Fraser cringed. He knew that this was the way Ray separated them in his mind. Fraser and Benton. So stupid really. It wasn't his fault that his memory of being an uptight prude was gone. He swallowed his ire.
"Ray, could we get out of this place for a while?" he asked as nicely as possible considering the dark turn his mood took.
"Uh, that wouldn't be safe, Benton" Ah. The name again. Well fuck it. If Ray wanted distance he would get it.
"Ray I'm leaving this apartment with you or with out you. Take your pick."
It was the edge in his voice that surprised Ray. "Benton? you okay?"
"Ray, I'm tired of trying to remember something I just can't remember. I need to get my mind off of things okay? Geez"
Ray stretched and thought. Sure. They could go around Chicago. Hey, it may even help Fraser remember stuff. He sighed.
"Okay let's go." He grabbed Benton's leather jacket, and his own and grabbed his shoes and keys.
Fraser grinned. Awesome! Finally he could invest in something other than his red serge... red...serge. All of a sudden a flash of memory went off in his head.
"Ray, my uniform - it was red, right? Red serge?"
Blue eyes widened and met his own. Please let the memory be coming back. He smiled a tremulous smile. "Yeah, a very red uniform. It sorta acted like a big bulls eye for all the bad guys in this city..." Ray trailed off. How many times had Fraser attracted trouble -- and then gone on to distract trouble from causing damage. Too many times to count. He shrugged.
"Maybe my memory is coming back, eh Ray?" Benton smiled at Ray, wishing that the blonde in front of him would smile again. "Yeah, maybe." With that uninspiring comment the two men headed out the door.
The first place the two men went to was the consulate. Truth be told, he was hoping that with more red uniforms, Ben's memory would come flooding back. No such luck, however. The only thing that Ben seemed interested in was the hustle and bustle. For the rest, Fraser was ready to leave as soon as he stepped in the door. When Ray took him to his bedroom slash office, Benton visibly shuddered. "I slept here? No way. There's no way! It's a sheet and a pillow on a hard wood floor. How could I possibly sleep here?!" Another memory flashed in his mind. "I had an apartment - at one point, and it had a mattress...why on earth would I choose to sleep in an office?" Ray sighed. He agreed actually. He never did understand why his mountie friend insisted on sleeping at the consulate. Hey wait... He met Benton's grey blue eyes with his own. "you remember that?" "vaguely" was Benton's reply. "D'you remember anything else?" the detective was getting impatient now. "Nope, sorry, all out!" was Ben's unusually cheeky reply.
The two men headed to Inspector Thatcher's office. "Sergeant Thatcher, Since Ben's lost his memory, could you do a little refresher again?" Meg Thatcher sighed. Two years ago, maybe she could have helped her constable recover some memories. Now, however, she was sure she couldn't evoke the same response. "May I have a moment with the Constable, please Ray?" Throwing her a suspicious look, Ray ducked out of the room.
"Fraser, do you remember being kidnapped and tied to me? YOu asked me what my perfume was, and I told you I didn't wear any..." Fraser raised his eyebrow at her, in surprise. "Uh,no. Actually I don't. What happened?" Thatcher told him an abbreviated version of the story, ending in the catch of the felon. Fraser scrunched his face up looking at the moment more like a confused little boy than an almost forty year old man. "We kissed? Why?" he suddenly sputtered. Thatcher caught herself feeling a little taken aback and let herself defrost a little, so to speak. "Fraser it was adrenaline I'm sure. We're both attractive people and we were in a highly charged situation..." she trailed off. She had known this was not going to be a good situation.
Of course, the situation got worse as the comment "But still. You're a female!" was surprised out of Fraser's mouth. There was a pause and then there was a shocked noise that she was embarrassed to find out came from her mouth. Fraser blushed. "Oh Shit. Did I get me fired?" he asked haltingly, watching her reaction closely. "No Constable. I assure you that Canada is very open minded. But might I advise you to keep that part of you under wraps. There will be some people with difficulty with the situation, as well as the fact that I'm not entirely sure that you knew that yourself, before the accident. "Really?" he said with an incredulous expression. "Really." Meg Thatcher answered dryly. "Now, if you don't mind, I have some official business to attend to, and though you were excellent at your job, you're useless to me right now. Come back to me when you have your memory back." A half smile and silly shooing gesture softened her harsh words, and Fraser turned and left to go find Ray. The information that she had imparted had truly bothered him. How the hell had he been so deeply closeted? He began to see why his memories had taken a hike.
Fraser found Ray speaking to another mountie and was instantly jealous of the small show of camaraderie Ray showed the blonde man. However when the blonde constable looked at him with adoring eyes, he was thrown off. "Constable Fraser? My name is Constable Turnbull. You're my commanding officer. How are you feeling today?" he said earnestly. "Hi Turnbull. I'm okay. My memories haven't all flooded back yet, but I think they'll come back eventually." Fraser replied kindly. He wasn't sure, but he thought maybe this Turnbull fellow had a small crush on him. Great. Just perfect. The Turnbull guy looked thrilled with his response. "Oh excellent! I was very worried. Well I hear that you and Ray are going to lunch, bon appetit mes amis" Not really knowing what to say, aside from a quick "au revoir", Ben then cocked his eyebrow at Ray and then nodded to the door. The two men exited together with one last amused look at Turnbull.
The two men went to lunch next and though he tried, Fraser could remember nothing, even amidst the obscure stories of cemeteries, dirty politicians and crazy women who named themselves after famous actresses. Obviously frustrated and also now done with his food, Ray was at his wits end. "I need to go home. I can't deal with this anymore." For all of his lost memories, Fraser wasn't stupid. What had gone unspoken - barely - was that what Ray couldn't deal with was Fraser. The tight reign he had on his emotions finally snapped. "Fine Ray. You obviously don't want me around so I'm going to get out of your face. Fuck!" He had to get out of there before he said anything else. The guilt he felt at leaving Ray with the bill vanished when he heard Ray yell out "wait, Benton, come back!" Dammit. That bloody name again. Benton-fucking-Fraser. Not Frase, not benny, not Ben but the most formal of his name. Benton. Grrr. He needed to get away.
After leaving Ray at the Restaurant, Ben started walking. Anywhere. He felt alone, but he felt he could be more sure of who he was away from Ray right now, and he was tired of the condemnation he felt every time he did something that wasn't "Frayse" He felt sure that who he was now was a part of the old Fraser that had simply been sublimated for so long, that he had become someone else. He just had a gut feeling about this, yet it felt right.
As he walked and thought, he looked around him, taking little notice until he realized he was heading downtown. He must've been walking for hours. He seemed to be going in the direction of the shopping district. He smirked. Well hell, if Ray was going to make a distinction between Frayse before and Benton after, he might as well make it as clear as possible. Maybe he should update his wardrobe. Why not? It wasn't like he knew what he was saving for...He might as well.
He entered the first men's store he saw. It seemed more for older men, gauging from the average age of the customers and the conservative suits and sweaters hanging. He didn't feel like he was that conservative, so he left and kept going. The next store was obviously for people of a more adventurous personality. There was no way he was going to wear animal print anything. Except maybe underwear. Two disappointments, but still, he persevered...he really needed new pants that didn't cut off his circulation. After passing a few more places, he finally found a decent store. He walked in a mountie stuck in the eighties, but, a couple of pairs of pants, some new shoes, socks, underwear and some new shirts later, he came out a model. Well at least, that's what the store employee kept telling him. Although the guy did tell him to get a haircut. He looked around for the place the cute employee referred him to. Ah, there it was up a ways. Les Hommes Fatale. Thank goodness. He really needed somewhere to set his bags and bags of new clothing down.
Upon entering Fraser found himself surrounded by people pawing at his hair. It was almost as bad as the hospital. One of the hottest men he had ever laid eyes on, began speaking to him in a gorgeous English accent. "Hi, are you the guy that Jack sent over? You've got great hair....amongst other things." the man added, with a quick perusal of his body. "My name is Drake. I will be the one doing your hair." The blonde put a particular emphasis on the word I, and suddenly all other hands left him. Weird. He followed Drake to a chair. "What are you going to do to me?" Drake grinned a very wolfish grin and replied, "Anything you let me do, luv -- But as for your hair, I'm going to put in some highlights, Shape it a bit, and add some molding paste." The dark haired man shrugged. "I have no clue what that means, so I'm just going to go along with it okay? Just kill the military look. It was a bad choice of Be- uh mine." Drake smirked. "Last boyfriend a git? Seems like at the very least he was just a little to into the role-playing." "Yeah you could say that" Benton responded, realizing his mishap. He shook his head. He was Ben. Benton was him. And he had to remember. Drake looked at him sharply, shrugged, figuring it wasn't important and then said "Okay, let's get started." with a grin, then turned the chair away from the mirror.
A wash, some highlights and a cut later, the ex-mountie was ready to see the final product. He looked. There were warm highlights all over, some lighter than others, and his hair was messily styled. It sort of looked like he had just come out of bed. Stylishly gotten out of bed, of course. Overall, he liked it. And he decided something else, after paying for the haircut. "Hey Drake? What are you doing tonight?" he asked, hoping the vibes he had gotten, weren't wrong...but then again, this was a hair salon. OH well, what's the worst thing that could happen...Aside from humiliating rejection...his mind quickly supplied. He turned around again and started to leave the store. Better to not even hear the dismissal. "Benton, you git, I'm going out with you." A bright smile lit on his face, and the men made plans to meet later.
Fraser decided it was time to return home. Not only had he discovered a distinct taste for shopping that meant he had to stop before it took over, he was also worried about Ray. He took a cab home, walked up the apartment steps and then unlocked the door. He had about two hours until Drake was going to pick him up so he needed to take a shower, talk to Ray, and get ready. Since Ray was already in the Kitchen, he decided to get ready first. Honestly, he just didn't want to deal with the blonde detective now that he knew he was safe and sound. He showered, and grabbed a pair of faded jeans and deep navy sweater and a white collared shirt which would show at the neck and sleeves, he did his hair and threw on his socks. Only then did he brave the rest of the apartment.
"So where've you been?" Ray started, not even bothering to turn around. "Around" Ben responded vaguely. Ray turned and gaped. Holy Fuck. Benton looked sexy as hell. It wasn't fair. He wasn't quite sure why, but it wasn't. Benton was dressed incredibly well. Why would he dress so well? Oh fuck. "You have a date or something, Benton?" Ray hoped that he was wrong -- he had to be wrong. Frayse didn't date. Please let him be wrong. Of course this being one of the few time he truly wanted to be wrong, it was gonna be the time he was right. "Yeah, I have a date. He's picking me up at nine." Fraser explained, He just wanted to get this over with. Let the accusations of not being *insert adjective pertaining to Frayze here* enough, begin. He noticed Ray's back stiffen and braced himself for the barrage of comments that would surely be coming.
Ray was in shock. Did Benton just says "he's" or was that just his imagination playing cruel games with him. He replayed the conversation in his head. No, it was said. Fate was a cruel fucking bitch. He had held back his feelings for his partner for the last 4 years because he was sure Frayse was straight. Four fucking years. Now Benton, the person who was and wasn't his Frayse not only had a date, but had a date with a man? Somebody up there had a fucked up sense of humour. And he wasn't laughing.
He stiffly walked over to the couch and turned on the TV. Why was Benton still looking at him? Oh, he was waiting for a response. Well he'd have to wait, because Ray would be saving that for the second after he left the apartment. His reaction would involve a bottle of Jack Daniels and some ice. And maybe some aspirin later. The only thing his throat would let him croak was an ironic "Ah". Yup. Benton-freakin'-Fraser received a non-committal "Ah" from Ray. The mountie was thrown by that. He decided to retreat to the kitchen to regain his sense of balance while he waited for his date.
He read through some car magazines until he heard the apartment door being knocked on. "How the fuck did your date get up here", Ray spat as he wrenched open the door. Drake stood there impassively and responded, "I know the landlady. She gets her hair done at the salon." He looked around the defeated blonde, and called out "Ben, are you ready?" A quiet "Yeah, let's go -- Ray I'll be home later.", a distracted wave, and Benton was out the door. Before the door was even back into place, Ray had an open bottle in his hand. Fuck the old mountie. Fuck Benton. Fuck Fraser. Fuck Stanley Ray Kowalski. And fuck love.
Within the first hour of the date, Drake and Fraser quickly discovered that they had little to nothing in common. Drake was caught up in the jet set and the beautiful. He came from money and owned the salon for fun and for connections. His reasons for the date also clearly differed from Fraser's. Ben wanted to get out to take up some of the restless time he spent in thought. Draco just wanted a good fuck.
After a few stunted attempts at conversation over dinner they mutually decided that maybe some drinks and dancing would be a good idea -- At least it would mean that they wouldn't have to talk. They walked a couple of blocks, and soon arrived at a place called the Bacchanalia, located just down the street. After a couple of songs where Drake was moving too close and Fraser was trying to extricate himself unobtrusively, they decided to go outside for a breather. "Hey Ben, why don't we just go to my place..." "and do what?" The brunette asked, rather naively. Drake raised his eyebrow rakishly, and pulled Fraser close to whisper, "Do you really have to ask?" and then kissed him forcefully. Ben felt a surge of lust coil low in his belly and kissed back, but something niggled at the back of the brain. Something that sounded an awful lot like Ray's voice telling him that this wasn't the wisest move.
Drake maneuvered them to the alley next to the club and pushed Fraser against the wall. One hand went to the new Kenneth Cole belt and the other curved over the brunette's ass. "Let me show you what's in store." Drake said with a sultry smile and in seconds he had Ben's pants open and was deep throating him. It was something the blond excelled at and within seconds Ben couldn't help himself, he started thrusting. Hot damn, didn't Drake have to breathe? he though to himself, and then when he felt Drake's throat tighten around him over and over, his last coherent thought before coming was, "apparently not." He threw his head back with the force of the orgasm. After spitting, Drake stood up with a flourish. "And that's just the beginning" and he leaned in with a smile worthy of a shark, and kissed Ben again.
This time, Ben was less responsive. He recognized the smile on Drake's face. He felt ill. He wasn't like this. The last person to smile at him like that during sex was Victoria, and he was too stupid back then to recognize that what she felt for him wasn't love, it was a combination of lust and predatory possession. And holy fuck where did that come from. He looked at Drake, who stood there confused. "Drake, I had a fine time, but I really must go." Fraser said. Drake was floored. "What? I just gave you the best blowjob of your life, and you're gonna go? Fat fucking chance, I, at least, want to get something back!" and he grabbed Ben and forced another kiss out of him. But this time Ben was really not kissing back. Fuck. He wasn't into total domination. "Forget this. You're cute, but I want a willing body." With that, the blonde turned on his heel and walked back into the bar without looking back. Fraser followed at a distance wanting to explain; he felt like he should apologize which was something awfully "frayserish". He searched the crowd and found Drake wrapped around another black haired man, thought to himself "man that guy has a type" and decided to get out of there. Drake was fine. Now he needed to go somewhere, get some coffee and figure out if his memory had completely come back and if he himself was fine.
He decided to walk to a local cafe called Beckett's Beanery, a little coffee shop around the corner from the bar he had ran away from. He walked in, ordered a coffee and sat down. Okay. He remembered Victoria and the real Ray Vecchio. He remembered dressing as a woman, and meeting the new Ray. All of his memories began flooding back, the good and the bad. Unfortunately, his defenses were down, and the emotions that he had long denied and forgotten overcame his walls not unlike a tidal wave would break over a sand castle. He rushed to the small bathroom to throw up until nothing of his dinner was left. And then he retched again.
Finally his stomach quieted. He vaguely heard someone ask him if he was okay. Through his tears he looked up into the kind eyes of an elderly waitress. All she said was "Sshh. Just let it out" and rubbed his back like a mother would her child. It would've been embarrassing had he been even a little coherent. But something in his mind snapped. He decided to go for broke. Nothing could really humiliate him anymore You really couldn't get any lower than the fact that he had just gotten blown in an alleyway by some asshole who didn't really care about him. So he let it all out. All of it. Even his blackest emotions, the rejection and guilt he felt over the whole Victoria thing...he let out until he thought he was done. But he wasn't. The anger he felt at his father for not protecting him and his mother, was when his tears finally turned almost brutal. He smacked his open hand on the wall in bitterness of the fact that he had lost a fuck of a lot of his childhood in his futile attempt to be something his father would be proud of. He gripped the railing with the despair that the knowledge that he had sublimated his true desires for 20 some odd years in order to fit into a mold that the people around him could relate to. The "amazing mountie". The man who "knew" everything but felt nothing. Except the insanity of his emotions for Victoria. Which he know knew was some sort of oedipal thing. She did look remarkably like his mother. Was that what his father was trying to tell him?
He recalled feeling like the outsider as a child, as a teenager, and later as an adult. He wept for the loneliness he felt all through life. He couldn't remember a single time in his life that he didn't feel like that. But he knew that wasn't quite true. Ray had accepted him. His quirks, and the times he let his humour and affection show through. Oh fuck. Ray. An ache in his stomach started once more. Ray. Ray who he had just left at home while he was on some "date" with a stranger. Ray who had woke him up in the hospital with those nimble fingers carding through his own dark hair. Who had stood with him against the entire Vecchio clan and the country of Canada and taken him home, to his apartment. Ray, the man who looked like he was dying as he left the apartment with Drake.
Fraser retched again through the tears. "Please don't let me have lost him, before I could find him" he thought to himself irrationally. He wiped his eyes, looked around and saw that the bathroom was still empty except for the strange old waitress who was beside him. She handed him some cool wet paper towels and finally spoke again. "Ben, please don't be embarrassed. I was a mother once upon a time, it's okay. You are loved. You need to go home now. Go talk to Ray, and maybe sign up for a gym membership to get all that anger out." she said with a rather recognizable quirky smile that curled up more on one side of her lips. "Talk to a therapist. But know that you are loved. You've been good to the world. Now you must be good to yourself."
She got up, and with a surprising strength reached down and pulled him to his feet and into a gentle embrace. She turned and walked out of the bathroom with a last kind smile. He went to the mirrors, washed his face, straightened his clothes out and checked for his wallet. Oh good, still there.
He left the bathroom and went to the table he had occupied, grabbed his cup and brought it to the counter. "There was an older waitress who I was speaking to, earlier -- is she still here?" he asked, wanting to thank the woman for her kindness. The young girl giggled nervously. "The oldest person who works here is Keith here, the guy behind me. He's 35. All the females in this place are young." She leaned forward and quietly added, "My boss says it's good for business, but I just think it's stupid." Fraser smiled as nicely as possible, considering his level of confusion, and extricated himself from the conversation with a wave and a "Thanks for the info. and the coffee." and walked outside towards a line of cabs that were waiting for people to get out of the local theatre. He grabbed one and told the driver directions to Ray's place. That woman...he shook his head. The important thing here was that he get home to Ray He had been away from Ray five of the longest hours of his life. Two on a bad date and three crying in a bathroom in a coffee shop. He needed to get back.
23 minutes later he was bounding through the door, more content than he'd been in years. Honestly, maybe ever. Where was Ray, anyways? He looked around and his first clue that all was not well was the overarching smell of alcohol. The next clue was probably the empty bottle of JD. The third and final clue was the puddle of Ray he found on the bathroom floor. Fuck. Okay. He made sure Ray was breathing regularly, and that he wasn't choking. The blonde detective appeared to be passed out, asleep but fine. Thank goodness. It looked like whatever had come up already was going to be it. He gently picked up Ray and carried him to his bed, wiping his face and gently tucking him in. This was the man he loved. Every line of his face, every hair on his head, he loved it all. If he was truly lucky, Ray would return his feelings. If he wasn't, he'd spend as long as it took to convince Ray of the fact, he thought fiercely.
He pulled a chair up to the bed, sort of a role reversal for them, and carded his hands through Ray's hair. It was surprisingly soft for the fact that he dyed it, not like his own, which was like animal pelt. He leaned down and softly touched his lips to Ray's forehead. He thought about the past five hours. In hindsight, it was obvious what Drake had wanted, but aside from the phenomenal blow job, there wasn't anything there, and he even felt wretched about that. He couldn't believe that he hadn't realized his feelings for men along time ago. Franny should be glad she never married him -- it would have ended very very badly. And as for Victoria? well she was pretty masculine when it came to sex. Still he was glad it hadn't worked out for either of them.
As he thought about losing his memories, and then getting them back, he realized that truly he wasn't the old Frayze, but nor was he the new Benton. He was sort of in between. He was Ben. And yes he like the rules when they were needed, but probably needed to think a little bit harder on deciding when they were truly essential. Not all the time, that's for sure. And for heaven's sakes, women threw themselves at him all the time, but that didn't mean he had to dress a decade in the past. He just needed a wedding ring. Even if it was fake. He hoped within the year it wouldn't be. And he was still pretty intellectual, and a bit of a prude. Sex in a back alley was just not appealing for any reason. But he felt that sometimes maybe a cuss word here or there wasn't such a bad thing. It was all very much about moderation. With that thought, he fell asleep with his fingers in Ray's hair and many things on his mind.
When Ray came to, it was with an awful sense of displacement. The last thing he remembered was the bathroom floor and the toilet. He was now in his bed, and someone's fingers were in his hair. He had a pounding headache, and he tasted film on his teeth and tongue. Oh, and he had to piss like a racehorse. He fully opened his eyes and looked over to Fraser. What was he doing here? didn't he have that date with the hot blonde? OH please don't let him be here, Ray begged someone, anyone, any Power out there. He gently removed the hand from his head and got up to go to the bathroom, to brush his teeth and to take some Tylenol. When he came back, Fraser was staring at the empty bed with watery eyes. "Hey Benton, what's up?" Ray said carefully. Something was going on with Fraser, and he didn't know what.
"Ben. It's Ben. Not Benton -- I've always hated that name, and not Frayze, and not Benny. Ben, my name's Ben" he finished quietly. Ray's eyes went wide with shock. "You've got your memory back? So no pod person?" Ray looked so happy that Ben began to feel worse. What if Ray didn't accept him as Ben, as flawed? "Ray, I'm not the same Frayze you remember. First off, I'm gay. Secondly, I swear when I feel it's necessary. I like a good beer, I think. And I'm not always polite. And I hate being a walking textbook. I'm not perfect. I don't even really want to be a mountie." Here Ray interjected with a quick," And you wear pants that are the right size" but Ben continued, "and I'm sick of women ogling my ass, and I like my new clothes, even though it sets me back on saving for that home I've been looking for." And before he lost his courage, he whispered, "...And I am totally in love with you," and quickly glanced up at Ray and then looked back down.
The room went quiet for quite a long bit and then the dark haired man felt the need to cut the silence. "It's okay Ray. If you don't love me back, it's okay. Well, I mean, I'll get out of here, out of your hair. I'll go back to the Canadian Consulate until my official resignation gets posted. But it's okay. Yeah. It's okay. I'll be okay." He stood up and turned to walk out but was pulled back by a quiet voice. "Ben, what was that date about then? I know you were gone until early this morning. I mean, how can you love me but sleep with someone else? God, seeing you leave with Stella's old hairdresser killed me. Drake was such a play boy. He had notches in his hair brush, for fuck's sake. And then you two leave together - you looking like that, and him looking like he always does. What does all of that mean?" Ray finished, his voice rough with unshed tears.
"Ray, I was angry that you didn't accept me for me when I was Benton -- in fact, it's something that still worries me. What if you don't like me -- the Ben me? Anyways, Drake wanted me just like me. Granted it was just for sex, but I didn't realize that until he tried to seduce me in the alleyway beside the club we went to. And then he looked at me like I was -- what was that you said --like another notch. And memories of Victoria came back, and all of my other memories flooded back. I indicated that it would probably be beneficial for him to find someone else, since I was certainly not interested, realizing by now that a certain blonde haired detective had my heart, my soul, and rights to anything else he wanted. I then went to a coffee shop where I proceeded to break down. Do you want the details of that Ray, because I'll tell you anything to prove that I love you." Here, the man paused to collect himself. Apparently Ray wanted him to go on, if the silence was any indication.
"Fine. I sobbed and raged for about 3 hours, was comforted by what I know believe to be the ghost of my mother which is fanfuckingtastic, let me tell you," he added sarcastically, "and I then came back here, found you passed out, and put you to bed. And here we are." Ben met Ray's eyes and was happy to find something other than anger and sadness in them. Maybe curiosity, maybe hope.
Ray spoke, trying to squash his hope before he got hurt again. "Right. Yeah. So here we are. Ben, are you sure that you're in love with me? Because if you're not, I can't do this. My feelings are already pretty deep -- any deeper and we're talking past the point of Stella." "Ray, If you could only see. If you could only feel the emotions I feel when I'm simply in the same room as you." Finally Ben had the courage to look Ray in the eyes. He let everything show. And then, Ray understood. Ray saw and felt the love and just knew that they would be together. "I get it." The blonde took a step towards Fraser, held out his hand, and waited for the other man to take it. They entwined their fingers together. "So what now?" Ben whispered softly as he gently pulled Ray into his embrace. "Can I kiss you?" Ray's "Oh Fuck yes, finally" was swallowed as his lips met Ben's. Their mouths opened to each other simultaneously trying to taste each other. Ben groaned, realizing that this didn't hold a candle to the dark love he had had in the past with women. This was simple and right. Ray reached his hand to the nape of Ben's neck and slid his fingers into his hair. Who knew...who knew that this would feel like home right away?
Ray broke off the kiss to breathe. " I lied Ben. You're already more than Stella. I love you so much" Ben coloured with delight and softly brushed his knuckles across Ray's cut cheekbones. "My love" he said quietly and kissed Ray again. Ben and Ray. It was finally right.
End Becoming Ben by wordwench
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