Author's Notes: This story would not exist without Slidellra, who simultaneously captained my team and beta'd my world.
Story Notes: Written in November 2007 for due South Match 2007's Team Romance. Takes place in the Northwest Passages 'verse, after "Guns Don't Kill People" and before "Slow Like Honey" and "Deep Colours Bleed".
Finally, Ben's had enough. The handle I was holding a minute ago is jerked roughly away from my grip--good thing I let go in time--and his voice rings out in the sawdusty quiet of the clearing we've made.
"Ray, damn it, you're pulling too hard."
"That's because you're not pushing hard enough." Hah--got the patented Fraser glare for that one. Excellent. Maybe now my fucking stubborn partner will take a fucking break. Come on, Ben. Rise to it. Go on and get mad at me, so you can quit working yourself like Paul Bunyan's about to come around the corner and challenge your ass to a log-off.
Sure enough, there he goes: unsticking the saw from the trunk we've been tackling, laying it aside with the wood we've already cut--so carefully, like always with tools--and finally, finally making a move toward the jug of water we brought out this morning and away from the task at hand.
Away from me, too, but that won't last long. If I was a betting man, that's one I'd have already won.
I watch him, sweaty and messy, stripped to the waist--which still takes forever to talk him into, but it's summer and I like to look at him, so he does it--the muscles in his back bunching up and releasing under his skin as he lifts the jug to his mouth with one hand and planes damp sawdust off his chest with the other, and I know exactly what he's gonna do now.
He'll drink just a little more than his share of the water and then put the jug down without offering me any--my partner, the patron saint of petty revenge--and he'll keep that back to me the whole time, thinking he's making a point. He'll crack his neck like he's always done, and he'll stretch up tall and fold down low like the new doctor's told him to so the bad knee doesn't freeze up and throw his balance off again.
And then he'll walk the clearing for a minute, making like he's on the lookout for dropped screws and mislaid hammers when he knows there's none of that anywhere around--this cabin is a Benton Fraser Project, after all--and it's really to calm himself down, get over being pissed at me.
His form of pacing, outdoors-style.
Best part about all this delaying-tactic bullshit? Because I am so fucking clever when he pushes me into it? Is that his heart'll calm down along with his head. Also his blood pressure, and the knots I know he's got in the bad leg even though he'd sooner eat nails than cop to it, and the high flush over his cheekbones and streaked all down his chest.
That last one's my least favorite sign that he's still recovering, even though it's maybe also the least dangerous one.
See, I love the way he colors up when things get to him. Always have, even when I didn't know anything about him except the superficial surface bullshit he let strangers think is everything there is to know. At first, it was fun to make that color happen--giving him shit, trying to get under his skin, make him go all pissy at me, prove he was human. Then our partnership went "after hours," so to speak, meaning I got to see that color on him in a whole new way and a lot farther down.
And oh, God. Ben in bed, flushed and gorgeous? Is the definition of hot as all hell. Never got tired of that. Can't imagine I ever will--not when we're in bed, anyway.
Seeing that flush other times, though--end of the day when we're back from a task force meeting, say, or weekend afternoons in the middle of some home-improvement drive--well, that doesn't make me too happy, because I know what it means then: stress-driven blood-pressure spikes, courtesy of last year's heart attack.
Small one, granted, and he was fit enough before it that his whatsit, prognosis was pretty good even right after it happened. Just take some time, the doctors said. Time off work, and time away from pressure, and time to heal, and after a while life'd most probably go back to normal.
Thing is, Ben never has paid a lot of attention to doctors, especially when they tell him what to do with his time. (Or to normal, come to that.) You'd think giving a Mountie an order would do the trick, but Ben's always been damn good at slipping around commands he doesn't fundamentally want to obey. (Not that there's anything wrong with that. Mostly.) And given that every day the task force doesn't meet is one more chance for another girl to turn up dead and unsolved, it's not like work's exactly encouraging him to rest up, not with the guilt complex he's got.
So does he cut down on what he does, on duty or off? Relax in a way that the rest of the world would understand, which means it doesn't involve heavy manual labor and the next best thing to total dehydration? Take a fucking break? Surprise, surprise, no, he does not. Guess who gets to manipulate him into it however I can, by hook or crook or pointless argument? That's right: yours truly.
You know what, Benton? Damn it yourself. In fact, damn you, for making me make you take care of yourself because you won't do it on your own and you won't let me do it for you without a fight.
But you know what else? If that's the way it's gonna be, fine. I'll fight. I'll nag you. I'll push you hard on the stuff I know's important--and I'll push even harder when you push back.
And you know why?
Because I love you, you asshole. Because I want you around, alive. Because I want to still be doing this push-pull thing we have going here when we're ninety-whatever and the cabin's home full time and I have to reach all the way across the porch when I need to whack your ankle with my crappy aluminium cane. I am one hundred percent down with the whole 'til-death-do-us-part thing, even on days like this when I kind of want to punch you into next week.
I just wish you'd spend a little less time proving you're full-on healed up when we both know you're not there yet, and maybe do a little more of your share of the work on delaying the parting piece of that equation.
A lot to ask, I know. But I don't think it's too damn much.
In the early days of our unexpected child-rearing years, before the services in our area improved to the point that newer children's books were readily available, our supply of written entertainment came primarily from those of our neighbors whose lives had been geographically stable enough that they had managed to accumulate small home libraries. Chief among these for our purposes was the collection belonging to the town grocer. Unmarried and childless, Thomas had nevertheless acquired for himself the complete works of a number of the better-known children's-book authors of the thirties and forties, and he loaned them out generously to everyone in the area. Needless to say, this was a godsend for our family--not least for Ray and me, for whom juvenile literature provided both a crowd-pleasing form of after-dinner entertainment when the weather blocked our satellite signal and a welcome respite from the twin intensities of police work and parenting.
Not unnaturally, both of us developed favorites. Ray tended to return again and again to Robert Heinlein's early works on boys in space, while I found myself drawn to Hugh Lofting's zoologically improbable Doctor Doolittle books. Even after our children outgrew both series, we borrowed them from Thomas time and again for ourselves--for the comfort of known narratives, for the relaxation engendered by unusually undemanding familiarity.
I can't remember to whom Ray found himself most strongly drawn in Heinlein's oeuvre, though I know he told me more than once, long hands flying through the air as he pantomimed piloting a spaceship through the outer reaches of some distant fanciful galaxy. (Thomas also had a collection of Calvin and Hobbes strips, a particular favorite with our sons; the fact that Ray bore more than a passing resemblance to the initial titular character was lost on none of us save, perhaps, Ray himself.) I do remember, however, being rather surprised when I realized that my favorite of Lofting's inventions was not his eponymous doctor, lonely and animal-loving, but the creature known as the Pushmi-pullyu, whose two heads, located at opposite ends of its body, made real movement impossible unless the heads could come to some kind of agreement on both the method and the direction thereof.
On reflection, of course, I found my surprise dissipating rather rapidly: the similarities to my relationship with Ray and his with me, professional and otherwise, were so obvious as to be almost embarrassing.
And so, indeed, they remain. Though much has changed since then--our youngest is now nearly two years into his time at what Ray insists on calling UDub--those similarities have not waned. Nor would I have expected or even desired them to do so. Painful as the process of coming to agreement has often been for us, painful as it continues to be and will doubtless remain, it is as vital to our lives together as it ever was to the Doctor's creation.
Contrary to popular perception--for some value of "popular" defined primarily by my partner and our children--I do not habitually seek out confrontation. But I am aware that it can be useful, even necessary. And I am not above creating it when I see the need--or even the desire--on my part or Ray's or both for the sparking energy of conflict. I am, after all, no saint.
Nor, thank God, am I partnered with one.
"You fucking well did that deliberately."
"You did. You wanted me to go off like that."
"Benton. Come on."
"I-- very well. Yes. I admit it. I did."
"The fuck? Why? No, never mind, don't tell me, I get it."
"Oh, I doubt that."
"The hell you say. You think I don't know how you work, after all this time? You pushed me too hard on purpose. You wanted to make me lose control."
"Fuck. I hate that. You know I hate that."
"...okay. Point. Still."
"No. Damn it, Ben, no."
"No, goddamnit. No. You are not getting around me like that this time. Besides--"
"Ray. Shut the hell up."
"The mouth on you. Swear to God, Benton...mmph. Oh. Oh. Ohhhh, Christ. Jesus Christ, what you do to me. Yes. Yeah. Yeah, please--oh, yeah, like that, just like that. God, Ben, Fraser..."
I've long since mastered the art of preventing poorly timed smiles around Ray. Had it been otherwise, it's safe to wager that each of us would carry even more scars than our lives in law enforcement have already earned us. Still, it's a near thing this time, as I contemplate his sprawled and satisfied form. My God, the way he looks. Every year more beautiful.
"True," I admit. Then, stealing one of his favorite lines, "But I don't see you complaining."
He snorts--or tries to, though the fact that he's still panting complicates the attempt entertainingly. "Not now, anyway. And not likely to right at the moment, either. Not stupid over here, despite occasional evidence to the contrary."
I manage a credible snort of my own. "Considering the obvious fallacy of the proposition you're trying to disprove, any so-called contrary evidence must by definition be poor at best."
One eye opens in a faint simulacrum of Ray's characteristic glare. "Only reason you can still talk like that, Fraser, is you jumped me so hard you got the drop on me before I could get a hand in." My lips twitch, and one long foot kicks out at me, weakly but with intent. "Don't say it, Fraser, just don't say it, no fair taking advantage of a man when he's down for the count."
"Not a long count, I trust." A deliberate challenge--not least to Ray's refractory period, though I've long experience with his remarkable...resilience, there as elsewhere.
Both eyes flick open now, palest blue against his flushed and sweating face. The aware, amused intelligence in them amazes me no less now than it ever has. "We'll see, Ben. We'll see. Oh, yeah. Never can tell how I might surprise you. Push your buttons good, see how much you can take before I maybe, mmmaybe let you...mmm...what you look like...taste you...never get tired..."
And just like that, he is asleep.
The air in the cabin is chilly, full of the odd mixed tang of salt and city peculiar to the Puget Sound, and I shiver, but I am anything but cold. I lie back among our tangled sheets, the well-washed flannel almost abrasive against my heated skin, and I wait.
Now that is a sight for sore eyes, right there. For any kind of eyes, in fact. Not that I'd want other eyes on Ben right now, what with what I'm doing to him and how hard he's getting off on it. But what a beautiful thing he is to look at. Man.
Y'know, there's a lot of talk about positions in books on sex--and don't think we haven't read most of 'em, the good ones anyway, between Ben being as much a librarian's grandson as he is a Mountie's boy and what he calls my sayshable curiosity. (Never have sussed that one out, quite--but I figure a little mystery's good for a marriage.) And usually it seems like by "position," whoever's writing the book (and making the pretty pictures that go with it, and you know that must be a great job to have) means Tab A into Slot B, or maybe even Tab A into Slot A. Which, y'know, both those work just fine for me and seem to do it for Ben as well, so no complaints there.
I just think they're a missing a trick or two when they limit the definition like that. They're--what's the phrase?--narrowing their field of vision unnecessarily.
Take, for example, this position I'm in right now. These positions we're in.
Up there is Ben, laid out across our bed like an offering to some god I might actually think about believing in when I'm back to having half a brain. The flush across his face and down his chest--down all the way to his cock--is the good kind, the kind I love, the kind I want to see for the rest of a long, long time. He's got one arm across his face covering his mouth, and I know he's sunk his teeth deep into it, fighting to stay quiet, which isn't working for shit but I'm not about to let him know that because, Jesus, those muffled sounds he's making turn me on hard.
And down here's me, lying between Ben's legs, looking up the length of his body over the arm I've got clamped across his hips, pushing three fingers as far inside him as I can get them and then pulling them out as slow as I can manage. In, hard and fast and deep. Out, slow slow slow . In, right up to the base of my fingers. Out, all the way out this time, so I can tease around the edges of his asshole with just the tips of those fingers, watch him flutter and twitch and feel his hips try to follow my hand. In and out, in and out, hotter and hotter and hotter.
I could do this to him forever.
And then suddenly I can't. Suddenly I'm overcome with this need to just fuck him, hard. I just--I have to, I have to, now. It's desperate, how I'm feeling, and that might eventually be something to think about when there's any blood at all going somewhere other than my cock.
Right now, though, I'm a man on a goddamn mission.
I pull my fingers out one last time, fast--and Christ, he hisses at me, he's that far gone. I've got him almost over the edge, and that hits me so hard I'd be coming right fucking now if he hadn't taken that same edge off me earlier. As it is, thank God I slicked up early on while my hands weren't shaking. Because if I had to touch myself any more than the absolute minimum necessary to get lined up with Ben's ass and climb inside, I'd lose it right the fuck now.
Ben's body tenses waaaay up when I push into him, and the weak leg trembles a little more than it used to, though he's braced himself enough that what brain I have is not real worried about it. Plus I know by now he does that shit mostly deliberately, tightening down on me to the point where it almost hurts him just so he can really feel it. Feel me there, right fucking there. Feel me pushing inside him, inch by slow fucking inch, nothing he can do but just take it.
Take it, Ben. Take it. Take me. Oh, God yeah.
He teases himself with my cock just like I teased him with my fingers before, pulls almost all the way off so only the head's inside him (God, that feels--God) and then pushes back on me as hard as he can, just impaling himself. I could do this to him every night, too, and never get tired of it, of him--the way he smells, the way he tastes, the fucking sounds he makes. Jesus, he's so noisy--groaning, voice breaking, telling me "please" and "yes" and "fuck," wanting more and more of me when I'm already so far into him I've lost track of where his skin stops and mine begins.
Pulling back; pushing in. Pulling and pushing. It's what we do, what we've always done.
And if I've got anything to say about it--any fucking control over it at all--we'll keep on doing it for as long as the universe'll give us.
And that'll have to do for now.
End Immovable Forces by Queue
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