For The Love Of Dolphins
by Akamine chan
Author's Notes: Thanks to superbetas Simplystars and Ainsley. Simplystars continues to encourage me for no sane reason that I can discern and Ainsley is always ready, willing and able to beta my stuff. Any and all remaining errors are mine! Mine, I say!
Story Notes: Written for Voiceless009 during the 2007 due South Seekrit Santa Fic exchange.
Part 1 - Day Of The Dolphin
"Wha'?" Ray rolled over and burrowed deeper into his pillow, phone loosely pressed to his ear.
Ray recognized Welsh's rumbling voice and opened one eye blearily. "Wazit?"
"There's been a murder at the aquarium. If you would be so kind as to round up the Corporal and investigate this homicide...?" Welsh let the sentence trail off, clearly expecting a response from Ray. Possibly even a coherent response.
"'Kay. Who do I see at the aquarium?" He rolled over onto his back and yawned widely, rubbing tiredly at his face. "What time is it, anyway?"
Welsh sighed loudly. "It is a little after four A.M., Detective. And your point of contact at the aquarium is Dr. Enrique Vega." He cleared his throat. "Let's get this one cleaned up as quickly as possible. The city officials do not like to have unsolved homicides happening at tourist attractions. Bad for business."
Ray yawned. "Right. Solve the murder. Go back to bed."
"Justice never sleeps, Kowalski. Let me know when you've got something."
Debating with himself for a moment, Ray decided that Welsh would kill him without hesitation if he went back to sleep. Groaning, he rolled out of bed and grabbed his cell phone as he shuffled toward the kitchen, toward coffee.
He brightened momentarily when he thought about waking Fraser up and dragging him out of his bed. If Ray had to be up, so did Fraser. There was no way he was going to suffer being awake at four in the morning alone. Plus, Welsh had specifically told Ray to take Fraser with him to the aquarium. He had a damn good excuse to call and roust him out of bed.
Ray poured himself a mug of yesterday's coffee and took a healthy swallow as he started to dial Fraser's phone number.
Fraser answered after the second ring, sounding obnoxiously awake and cheerful. "Good morning, Benton Fraser speaking."
Of course Fraser would already be awake. Could the universe get any more unfair? Ray wandered back into the bedroom to get dressed. "Hey, Frase, it's me. Welsh's got a case for us, homicide, down at the aquarium." He paused while he dug through the clothes piled in the corner, trying to identify clean from dirty by sniffing. "How long for you to get ready?" He held up a pair of jeans that didn't smell too bad. Didn't look that bad, either, except for the rip at the knee. He wedged the phone between shoulder and ear to free up his hands to pull the jeans on.
"I can be ready in fifteen minutes. Should I be waiting outside my apartment?" There was a bark in the distance. "Oh, very well. Should we be waiting outside our apartment?" Fraser asked sarcastically, for Dief's benefit.
Ray heard a rustling sound in the background that piqued his interest. "Fraser, what are you doing?"
There was a startled pause. "I'm getting dressed," he answered slowly, clearly confused by the question.
"Oh." Ray squeezed his eyes shut tightly, trying to banish the sudden image of Fraser in that damn fuzzy red union suit from his head. Instead, his traitorous mind provided a fine array of erotic images for his perusal. "Okay, I'll pick you and the wolf up in thirty. Bye." He abruptly ended the call and leaned his face against the wall, trying to cool the sudden heat pulsing through his veins.
Ray banged his forehead a few times on the wall, trying to pound some sense in. Fantasizing about your partner naked was bad enough. Fantasizing about your same-sex partner in long underwear was—really bad. He was pretty sure there was a special hell for people like him.
He blew out a breath in frustration and finished getting dressed, ignoring the very persistent physical reaction at the thought of Fraser in his union suit. If he hurried, he could stop by the 24-hour diner on the corner from Fraser's apartment and get some more coffee, lots of hot coffee. And maybe some donuts. Dief would like that. Tea for Fraser? Yeah, that would work.
Ray looked at himself in the bathroom mirror, grimacing. His face was covered with creases from his pillow, and his hair looked stupid, flat on one side but sticking up on the other. With a little water, a brush and some creativity, he managed to get his hair to look a little less experimental. He tried not to notice all the gray hairs, but they were getting hard to ignore. He was sure he'd have a lot less of them if Fraser would stop endangering their lives in wildly bizarre ways. He sighed. Maybe it was time to go back to the stylist, get some color, some highlights.
He tossed the brush down and turned away from the mirror. Why did he care if he had gray hairs or not? It's not like he had anyone to look good for. Stella was long gone, married and happy and pregnant in Florida with Vecchio. The only date he'd had in the year and a half since he'd gotten back from the adventure had been with his right hand. And Fraser—
No. He was not going there right now. They had two outstanding cases they were working on plus this aquarium murder. He needed to stay focused on the work. Otherwise, he was going to go crazy. Ray grabbed his coat and gloves and headed out, locking the door carefully behind him.
Traffic was surprisingly heavy for four in the morning on a Friday in the heart of Chicago.
Fraser's new apartment wasn't all that far from where Ray lived. It wasn't in the best neighborhood, but Ray was glad that Fraser wasn't sleeping on that stupid cot in the Consulate anymore. It had taken some work, but eventually Ray had convinced Fraser that having an actual bed was not an extravagance.
Stopping at the diner, Ray ordered coffee, tea and donuts to go. No jelly or chocolate donuts; according to Fraser, chocolate was bad for dogs and the jelly ones caused some kind of digestive upset in Dief. The cream-filled ones were okay, and those were Ray's favorite. He picked out a couple of low-fat muffins for Fraser, as well. He had the waitress pack everything up in a paper bag and headed down the road.
Fraser and the wolf were standing next to the street, waiting. Fraser looked...great. Red flannel shirt, tight jeans, hiking boots and the hat. Throw a leather jacket on top of it all and you had Clark Lumberjack, SuperMountie's alter ego, and his trained attack wolf, Dief. Ray drove up to the curb and reached out to push the door open, gathering up breakfast from the seat so that Fraser could sit. Fraser let Dief into the back and slid in.
"Breakfast," he grunted, handing Fraser his tea and the pastries. "Sorry, no bark tea; I got you the next best thing." Dief growled from the backseat. Ray glared at him in the rear-view mirror. "Pipe down, mutt, or no donuts for you."
Dief quickly lay down and whined softly, giving Ray his pathetic puppy-dog look.
"Don't let him fool you, Ray." Fraser pried the top of his tea off and took a sip. "He's been rude and bad-tempered since you called."
Ray could almost hear the "fuck you" in Dief's growl. "Hey!" Ray twisted around to scowl at the wolf. "Behave yourself or I'll eat all of the donuts." He held the wolf's stare until Dief looked away. Turning back around, he caught Fraser's look of surprise. "What?"
Fraser blew on his tea to cool it and took another sip. "You just sounded very...parental." He opened the bag and pulled out a muffin. "Did you want a donut?"
Ray debated for a moment, nodded, and got them back on the road. The aquarium was on the other side of town, near the lake, and it was going to take some time to get there. He ate the donut that Fraser handed to him in three bites, chewing thoughtfully. "Yeah, I sounded just like my old man, which sucks."
"At least your father was around to yell at you."
He glanced at Fraser. Passing streetlights threw alternating shadow and light on his profile, but it was impossible to read his expression. He reached out and grabbed Fraser's hand, squeezing briefly before letting go.
"Thank you, Ray," he said softly.
"Yeah, okay." Ray fed Dief a donut and a companionable silence fell over them, lasting until they arrived at the aquarium.
Ray had his choice of parking spaces, since the only cars in the lot were police cruisers and vehicles that belonged to aquarium personnel. He parked close to the entrance and herded Fraser and Dief out of the car and toward the building.
Dief barked and ran in circles around them, tail wagging. Ray gave him the last donut and finished off his coffee. He grimaced at Dief's exuberance, especially this early in the morning. "Did you give him coffee, Frase? Or is it the sugar? He's acting all hyper."
"Neither sugar nor caffeine is an appropriate part of a canine diet," he replied, straight-faced. "Nor are they part of the recommended diet for humans." Fraser looked at him. "Though, in your case, I think we need to make an exception."
"Are you saying I'm cranky in the morning if I don't get my coffee and sugar?"
"Having woken up with you many times, I know just how grumpy you are without your coffee." Fraser stopped suddenly, and even in the dark Ray could see the blush that flooded his face. "Oh, dear. I didn't—"
Ray huffed out a laugh. "I know what you meant, Frase. Don't worry about it." Ray held up his badge and nodded to the beat cop stationed outside the front door, who motioned them in after eyeing Dief suspiciously. "We spent four months in a tent together with nothing but each other and the dogs for company. You know exactly what I'm like first thing in the morning."
"Of course, Ray."
There was something in Fraser's tone of voice that made Ray pause. Something...wistful? He filed it away in his head to examine later. "Okay, let's get to work."
Part 2 - Startide Rising
It didn't take long to find Dr. Vega and get all the relevant facts. One dead woman, named Anna Schmidt. Professional dolphin trainer and marine mammal expert. She'd apparently stopped by to check on a sick sea lion. Somehow, she'd ended up on the concrete next to the main dolphin performing pool, with at least three small caliber bullets lodged in her brain. No witnesses except for two dolphins. And they weren't talking.
It was kinda like one of those locked room mysteries, except there was no locked room. Ray knew that Fraser was just going to love solving this one. If he could just keep him from licking anything...
He looked down at his notebook, scanning what he'd already written down. "Dr. Vega, did Ms. Schmidt have any enemies? Anyone she was afraid of? An ex-boyfriend or husband, an angry employee, anything like that?"
Dr. Vega was the head veterinarian, specializing in captive dolphins. He was also in charge of all the trainers, including Anna Schmidt. He looked very pale and his hands were shaking badly. "No, not that I know of. But you have to understand—" He broke off and looked away.
Going with a hunch, he pushed a little. "Understand what, Doctor?" He poised his pen over his notebook and tried out his earnest, helpful cop look. It seemed to reassure the doctor.
"Detective, you have to understand that Anna was...difficult to get along with. She was one of those people who had a special talent in dealing with animals but didn't get along with most people." He sighed deeply. "She was very good with the dolphins."
"But enemies?" Ray saw Dief and Fraser by the dolphin holding tank. Fraser was making sketches of the crime scene and Dief was peering intently into the water. He really hoped that the wolf wasn't going to try to chase the dolphins and kept an eye on him, just in case.
"No, none that I know of."
Handing the doctor his card, Ray ushered him towards the patrolman who was assigned to collect personal information from the employees in case they needed to be questioned again in the future. "Thanks, Doctor. If you think of anything else, call me."
Ray wandered over to Dief to make sure he wasn't causing trouble. The wolf was perched on a bench, watching the dolphins swim underwater. "Wanna take a swim, Furface?" Ray asked, sitting next to him.
Dief cocked his head and whined.
"They're dolphins. Wolves of the ocean."
At that, Dief started barking at the dark shapes in the water. A dolphin stuck its head up and whistle-clicked at the wolf curiously. Dief barked again and wagged his tail vigorously, his tongue lolling. The dolphin squeaked, and using a flipper, splashed water at Dief and Ray.
Ray jumped up before he got wet. Realizing that Dief was more interested in communicating with the dolphin than eating it, he figured it would be safe to leave him alone and Ray wandered over to where Fraser was plotting possible bullet trajectories in his notebook. Ray liked seeing Fraser work, loved watching that sharp mind sift through the evidence, building an airtight case piece by piece.
Before they followed Muldoon up to Canada, Fraser had been marking time until his superiors decided that he'd been punished enough with guard duty and trivial office tasks and exile from home. The only time Fraser had gotten to use his analytical skills had been down at the 27th Precinct, and on a somewhat irregular basis. That had changed after they'd caught Muldoon. Fraser had chosen to come back to Chicago to work as a full-time liaison with the CPD. And Lieutenant Welsh was more than eager to have Fraser back; he helped keep their crime-solving rates high, which made the police commissioner happy.
Ray and Fraser were both good cops, but their investigative methods were very different. Fraser was best with the forensic end of things, collecting and organizing clues, putting them together and cracking the case wide open with the judicious application of logic. He had a wide body of knowledge on a variety of truly obscure subjects that always seemed to somehow relate to the case they were working on. Collecting evidence sometimes included doing things like licking gross things or wading through dumpsters, but somehow it worked for Fraser. Ray was sure if he tried licking anything, he'd end up in the hospital with a bad case of poisoning.
Ray's technique, on the other hand, relied on his interactions with people. He knew instinctively when to push, when to coax and when to threaten with a kick in the head. He could tell when a suspect was lying and when a witness was telling the truth. He had a talent for earning the trust of his network of informants and they were usually willing to keep him updated on what was happening on the streets. He also had an uncanny ability to view the world through the eyes of the victim and the criminal. It was this unlikely combination of skills that enabled Ray to make intuitive leaps that somehow arrived at the correct solution for all the wrong reasons.
It drove Fraser crazy sometimes. Ray occasionally got frustrated by the chain of logic Fraser insisted they follow. But they had been partners for a while now: a year and a half before the Muldoon case, four months on the trail of Franklin's hand, another year once they gotten back to Chicago. And somewhere in the arctic wastes, while having to work together in order to survive, they'd finally learned to listen to each other and to trust in their partnership.
So, when Ray saw that Fraser was taking an inordinate amount of interest in bullet trajectories, he wondered what Fraser saw that he didn't. "Hey, Fraser. What did you find?"
Fraser didn't look up from the sketch he was drawing. "Well, if my calculations are correct, it seems that Ms. Schmidt was shot three different times from three different directions. The ballistics report will show if the bullets were from the same gun or not."
"What?" Ray stared at him incredulously. "Why in God's name would someone shoot a dead person? 'Cause she couldn't have survived long after the first one."
"Yes, I know. We'll have to wait for the autopsy to be sure, but it seems likely that the first shot killed her. As to the why, well, that's usually our job to determine," Fraser answered dryly. "Did Dr. Vega have anything useful to say?" He suddenly narrowed his eyes at Ray. "Where's Diefenbaker?"
Ray pointed with his chin towards where Dief was running around the holding tank, followed by the two curious dolphins. "He's busy trying to establish inter-species communication." He scratched at his cheek as he looked down at the body of Anna Schmidt. "According to Dr. Vega, Ms. Schmidt was not a people-person. Good with dolphins, not so good with people. Off the top of his head, he couldn't think of anyone that would want to kill her. The two other employees I talked to said the same thing. She wasn't an easy person to get along with, but no one seemed to dislike her enough to kill her. Dead end"
Fraser watched Dief for a moment. "Ah."
"I did check into security. They have a high-tech, state-of-the-art system here, which has been thoroughly trashed. Wires pulled, equipment destroyed, that kind of thing. Looks like someone took a baseball bat to a lot of the electronics in there. We haven't been able to find the surveillance tapes." Ray gestured over to the main building. "Forensics is going to dust for prints, see if they can find anything."
Fraser closed up his notebook. "What next?"
Ray rubbed at his face tiredly. He really needed more coffee. "There were six people here overnight. I've talked to two of them already. I want to get the rest of the statements as quickly as possible." He looked at his watch. "The rest of the employees are going to start trickling in pretty soon. I don't think we'll need to interview everyone, just the people who worked with Anna Schmidt or knew her."
"Maybe we'll get lucky and the perpetrator will realize the error of his way and confess," Fraser remarked.
Looking at him, Ray caught the subtle tightening of his lips that meant Fraser was trying not to smile. Most people wouldn't have noticed. "Yeah, Fraser. You keep hoping for that." Ray pressed his lips together firmly, not letting his smile escape, either. He held back for about five seconds, and then chuckled quietly. "Funny man."
"I'm glad you think so," Fraser returned, smiling at him.
Uh oh. Ray felt his heart stutter in his chest. Fraser had such a beautiful smile. He couldn't look away from it. He wanted to wrap the warmth of that smile around himself and wallow in it. He stared at Fraser for so long that he started to look worried. Ray shook himself sharply.
"Ray, are you all right?" Fraser stepped toward him, hand outstretched to touch him.
He took a quick step back, out of Fraser's reach. If Fraser touched him now, he would end up showing Fraser exactly how he felt. He would not be able to keep the need and the want hidden any longer. For Fraser's peace of mind, he needed to lock those feelings away. Their friendship was the most important thing in Ray's life and he would not do anything to ruin it.
There was a flash of hurt on Fraser's face before he turned away. When he looked back at Ray, there wasn't a hint of emotion visible. Ray felt like shit, but this had to be better than the alternative. If Fraser ever found out how he felt, it would be the death of their friendship. And he could take anything but that.
They spent the rest of the morning getting statements from those employees who had either worked directly with Anna Schmidt or had known her, either on a personal or professional level. She hadn't been a social person and none of her co-workers called her friend. It was as Dr. Vega had told Ray: she had been more comfortable interacting with dolphins than people. There were hints of problems with other members of the aquarium staff but no one would speak directly about any difficulties. Her work ethic had been excellent and her employment file had been full of positive remarks about her work with dolphins.
Ray was about to pitch his notebook into the dolphin pool in frustration. It became clear that most of the people he'd interviewed didn't know anything about Anna Schmidt. They didn't know who she was, what she had liked, who she'd wanted to be. They didn't know if she had family or a loved one or a beloved pet waiting for her at home. She'd lived and died and had barely made a ripple in the lives of those around her.
Dief ran up after Ray finished with his last interview, whining quietly.
"What did you find, Dief?" Ray followed him back to the dolphin pool. The two dolphins, Kai and Omar, were swimming on the surface, the loop of a mesh bag caught around one of their snouts. Something dark and metallic glinted from the bag.
Dief woofed. The dolphins swam over to Ray and with a powerful flick of its tail, the one with the bag lifted its body part way out of the water, high enough for Ray to grab the bag and lift it off. The bag was heavy and when he opened it, he could see the barrel of a pistol. "Good job, Dief," he praised, walking over to where Fraser was talking with the director of the aquarium. Seeing Ray approach, he excused himself.
"Look what the dolphins found, Fraser."
Fraser peered into the bag and lifted an eyebrow. "Where was it? How did it get there?"
Ray shrugged. "Don't know. I'm not the one who speaks Dolphinese. That would be the wolf. You know I don't always understand what he's saying. So I figured you could talk to the wolf, who could talk to the dolphins, and we can find out where the gun came from."
"Excellent plan, Ray," he said, taking the bag from Ray and calling out to Dief.
A few minutes later, Fraser had their answer. "The dolphins found it at the bottom of their tank. A dark man threw it in sometime last night."
"Okay." Ray tapped his foot, trying to put all the pieces together. "You about done here? I want to get back to the office and start pulling information on Anna Schmidt and some of the employees here, see if anything pops. And maybe we can coax some preliminary details from Mort."
"It doesn't seem likely," Fraser replied, "knowing Mort. But we can try. I think I've gotten as much detail as I can from the crime scene. I'm ready to go whenever you are, Ray."
Ray spoke to the director for a few minutes before collecting Fraser and Dief and heading to the 27th Precinct.
The bullpen was in an uproar, as usual. There had been a convention of animal mascots downtown that degenerated into a vicious fight between mammals and non-mammals. By the bedraggled state of many of the mascots, it was clear that the non-mammals had triumphed. It had taken a whole squad of officers in riot-control gear to haul them in. In addition, one of the newest detectives had busted an illegal gambling ring that wagered on a league of professional dwarf wrestlers. Ray had not seen so many little people at one time since the last St. Patrick's Day parade.
Ray pushed his way through the crowd, followed by Fraser and his polite litany of "Pardon mes" and "Thank you kindlys." It took some effort, but they finally waded through the sea of people to their office. The sign on the door read "Canadian-American Police Liaisons," with both their names under it.
When they'd gotten back from their search for the Hand of Franklin, Welsh had decided that Fraser needed his own office at the 2-7. An old, unused storeroom had been converted into an office. Welsh, realizing that wherever Fraser was, Ray wasn't far behind, had put two desks into the tiny office. Two desks, two chairs, a computer and a coffee pot. That's all they had wanted. That was all they needed.
Fraser shut the door behind them, isolating them from all the noise in the bullpen. Ray booted up the computer and worked on making some fresh coffee for himself. He turned the hot pot on to boil water for Fraser's tea. It looked like they both could use some caffeine, since the day showed no signs of ending.
"Where should we start?" he asked, looking over at Fraser, who had pulled out his notebook and was intently staring at a diagram he'd drawn.
"Hmmm. Why don't you start running names through the computer while I go talk to Mort and the forensics team? Maybe one of us will turn up something helpful."
Ray nodded and sat down in front of the computer with his list. He made tea for Fraser when the water in the hot pot was boiling and poured a cup of coffee for himself.
He sat back down and didn't look up from his work on the computer until Fraser came in several hours later.
"Ray, Ray, Ray, Ray, Ray!"
"What?" Ray rubbed at his eyes, realizing that Fraser had been calling his name for some time. His brain was fried by too much coffee and too little sleep. And they were no nearer to solving the case than they had been this morning.
"It's quitting time and we've been at this for over twelve hours. Let's call it an evening. After a good night's rest we'll be fresh and clear-headed."
"Yeah, okay. You're tired, I'm tired, hell, even the wolf looks tired." Dief whined from under his desk. "Let's get out of here and get some food."
Fraser reached out to squeeze Ray's shoulder reassuringly.
Ray saw Fraser reaching out to touch him. After the long day, his defenses were low and if he wasn't careful, he'd give himself away. Ray tried to suppress the flinch when Fraser touched his shoulder, but failed. Fraser had sharp eyes and couldn't have missed it.
Looking into Fraser's blue eyes, he saw something sad and determined. "Ray, I think it would be best to pick up some take-out and return to your apartment. I think we need to talk."
"No, no, I'm cool, Fraser. Nothing's wrong," he babbled, starting to panic. If he had to tell Fraser the truth, it would be the end of their friendship. And he'd found somewhere along the line that he couldn't lie to him. He began to back towards the door, hoping to escape. "Hey, Fraser, look at the time. I forgot I need to pick up my—"
"Ray," Fraser interrupted flatly. "We're going to talk. Get your things together and meet me in the parking lot. Five minutes." He left the office, letting the door slam shut behind him.
"Shit. I am so screwed." From under the desk, Dief barked in agreement. "Thanks, Dief. That's a big help."
Part 3 - So Long, And Thanks For All The Fish
The ride back to Ray's apartment was tense and uneasy. They picked up food from Chen Lee's House Of Dragons: Thousand Garlic Chicken for Ray, Kung Pao Beef for Fraser and Sweet and Sour Pork for Dief.
The silence continued until Ray parked in his spot next to the apartment building. He sat in the car, eyes tightly closed while Fraser and Dief climbed out of the GTO.
"Ray. Get out of the car." Fraser's voice was emotionless, giving nothing away.
It was no use. There was no way to avoid this confrontation and he was going to lose Fraser forever. Ray pressed hard on his eyes to push the tears back and got out, feeling old and tired. Climbing the stairs to his apartment was the hardest thing he'd ever had to do, feeling Fraser's eyes on him the whole way up.
He unlocked the door and went straight into the kitchen to get plates and utensils for dinner. He heard Fraser unpacking the food and talked quietly with Dief. Ray grabbed a beer for himself and a water for Fraser, eyeing the bottle of vodka in the fridge longingly. A couple of shots before they sat down to eat might dull the pain a little. Reaching for the vodka, he stopped. Nothing was going to make this pain more bearable.
He filled a bowl with water and set it down on the floor for Dief and went back to join Fraser at the table, plates and napkins in one hand, beer and water in the other. Fraser dished out the food and, looking pointedly at Ray, started to eat. Ray found that his appetite had deserted him and he poked at his food instead of eating it. After a few minutes, he gave up pretending to eat and pushed his plate away.
Ray stared at the tabletop, listening to Fraser and Dief eating. He was starting to feel numb inside. He wondered if this was what it felt like to bleed to death.
After a while, Fraser got up from the table and started to put the food away. Ray debated internally about helping him, but decided that he didn't have the energy. He waited, breathing shallowly, for the hammer to fall and crush him.
Fraser sat back down at the table and Ray dared to look up briefly, wondering why it hurt so much to look at him. God, what was he going to do without Fraser in his life?
Fraser cleared his throat. "I—I thought we had an attraction—I thought there was something between us, but it became obvious from your reaction this morning and at the 27th that this is the last thing you want, that my feelings are not welcome." His voice was soft and not quite steady. "I'm—I'm sorry, Ray. I didn't mean to make you uncomfortable." Fraser took a deep breath. "I don't—I can't lose your friendship. You have no idea how important it is to me." He rubbed at his eyebrow and looked at Ray earnestly. "Could we pretend that this never happened? I give you my word that you won't have to worry about my unwelcome advances..." He trailed off at Ray's lack of response. "I'll just go." He stood up and turned to leave.
Fraser got as far as the door before Ray woke up from his stunned paralysis. "Wait a minute there, buddy. Not so fast." He quickly walked to the door, pushing it shut in spite of Fraser's grip on the knob. He stood behind Fraser, one hand keeping the door shut, the other settling on his tense shoulder. Fraser jumped a little at the unexpected touch.
"Ray, I'm trying to save us both from further...embarrassment," Fraser told the door. "Please—just let me go. I'll see you at work on Monday."
His voice was so quiet. Ray had never heard it sound so raw and broken. His chest constricted with the knowledge that he'd hurt Fraser. Again. It would be a long time before he'd be able to forgive himself for making Fraser feel like this. Unwanted. Unloved. The same way he'd felt since Stella had said "divorce."
Pulling on the door uselessly, Fraser made a pained sound, almost like a choked-off sob. "Please—" His shoulders slumped.
Moving carefully, feeling like he was trying to calm a skittish animal, Ray wrapped his arms around Fraser's taut body in a gentle hug. "Easy, Fraser. Shhh." He squeezed the solid body, trying to reassure him through touch. It didn't seem to be working.
Ray suddenly remembered that Fraser didn't trust his understanding of body language, especially after that bitch Victoria. He'd read the file so many times he practically had it memorized. That time, Fraser's body had said "lust", and his brain had heard "love". It had really fucked him up. Now, Fraser's body was saying "love", but he didn't think Ray was listening. Fraser needed the words said out loud.
Nuzzling the back of Fraser's neck, where he's always wanted to kiss, he inhaled the scent of Fraser and tried to calm the racing of his heart. He had to do this right. "Listen to me. I didn't back away because I didn't want you to touch me. I backed away for the opposite reason. I was afraid if you touched me I was going to drag you behind the nearest bush and have my way with you. I would have unzipped your pants, got down on my knees and put my mouth on you." He reached down and cupped the bulge between Fraser's strong thighs. "Right here."
Fraser jerked like he'd been shot, a soft moan escaping his lips. "Ray?"
"I've been in love with you since the day we met, Fraser. I just didn't think you were interested, so I kept my feelings to myself." He traced the rapidly hardening outline of Fraser's dick firmly. "I didn't want to ruin our friendship, because it's been the best thing that's happened to me." He carefully undid the button on Fraser's jeans and pulled the zipper down slowly. "Why didn't you say something?"
Gasping as Ray's dexterous hand found him, hot and hard, he tried to speak. "Ray! Ray—" He tried to pull Ray's hand out of his pants, tried to stop the friction, but Ray ended his struggles by gripping his cock tightly, almost painfully.
"Do you want me to quit, Fraser?"
Swallowing hard, Fraser struggled to find his voice. "No. No—please don't stop."
"Okay." Ray gentled his hand on Fraser's dick and released it, nibbling on a vulnerable earlobe. He blew out a puff of hot breath, laughing softly at the shiver of reaction it caused. "Turn around."
The speed with which Fraser complied had Ray choking back a laugh. "I love you," he murmured as he pushed Fraser's undone jeans down his legs, letting them pool carelessly around his feet. The starched white boxers quickly followed. "I love you so much." He stroked down the long line of Fraser's legs, enjoying the feel of strong muscle and smooth skin under his hands, as he knelt down.
He made short work of the hiking boots, untying the laces and getting them off of Fraser's feet. Ray tossed them blindly aside. The jeans and boxers followed suit. He looked up the length of Fraser, catching his breath at the solid reality of him. "Oh, Fraser, you're so beautiful."
Ray watched as a blush swept up into Fraser's face. The man was half-naked, leaning against Ray's door like his legs wouldn't support him, and he was blushing. It turned Ray on something fierce and he found he couldn't wait anymore.
He reached up and cupped his hands around Fraser's hard dick, ignoring the surprised gurgle from above. Burying his nose into the tuft of curls at the base, he inhaled deeply, relishing the clean, earthy scent of Fraser's arousal. He nuzzled Fraser's cock, loving the way it felt in his hands, such soft skin over hardness.
Moving slowly, he took Fraser's dick into his mouth, feeling his jaw ache a little at the stretch. Tiny tremors swept through Fraser, turning Ray on even more. He reached down and fondled Fraser's balls, delighting in his responsiveness.
Fraser buried his fingers into Ray's hair, gripping hard and pulling upwards. "Ray, Ray, Ray."
He gave Fraser's cock a final lick before looking up. "What?" Fraser's eyes were huge and dark, dazed.
"You don't have to—you don't—" He took a deep breath and licked at his bottom lip. "I'm not expecting you to—" He tugged upward again.
"Fraser." Ray used his firmest tone of voice. "You can tell me 'no' and I'll stop. Beyond that, be quiet and let me do what I want." Ray went back to driving Fraser out of his mind with his tongue.
Fraser wasn't going to last long. Ray could tell by the tiny abortive thrusts he made, and all the panting and loud moaning. The neighbors were going to complain, but Ray couldn't bring himself to care.
Fraser tightened and loosened his fingers in Ray's hair, like a cat kneading its paws. Suddenly, every muscle in Fraser's body tensed and he cried out wordlessly. Ray swallowed and swallowed, loving the way Fraser tasted, loving the way he felt on his tongue. He gentled his mouth on Fraser's cock, guessing from the way he twitched and jerked that he was extremely sensitive after he came.
Looking up, Ray was spellbound at the sight Fraser made. Hair in disarray, sweaty, head thrown back, panting and trying to say Ray's name. It was enough to send him over, to make him come hard in his jeans like he was sixteen again, groaning gutturally in embarrassment.
When he became aware of his surroundings again, he found that he was nuzzling Fraser's bellybutton, murmuring "I love you" to it, over and over, in a dazed voice. Further down, Fraser's dick was stirring, taking a renewed interest in the proceedings. "Bed," he mumbled, getting shakily to his feet.
Fraser grabbed his head and kissed him, his wet, strong tongue stroking across his, teasing him. "Bed, Ray." He caught Ray's arm and tugged him toward the bedroom, almost tripping over his discarded jeans in his haste. "It's my turn."
They got lucky in the morning.
After waking up wrapped around each other and exchanging lazy, sweet kisses, Ray's cell phone rang. It was a reporter friend of his, who had received a letter from Anna Schmidt. It had been mailed right before her death and it detailed an elaborate plot to kidnap Omar and Kai and sell them to some king in a country Ray had never heard of. Anna had been helpful enough to name the person responsible - one of her co-workers, John Tilton.
Ray had interviewed him, a slight, timid man in charge of keeping the aquatic environments stable for their inhabitants. He had not registered on Ray's radar as a possible suspect.
Anna wrote that she was meeting John Thursday night in hopes of coaxing more details from him about his plans. She was determined that nothing was going to happen to Kai and Omar, that they would be safe.
Ray called CPD dispatch and put out an APB for John Tilton while Fraser got dressed. After calling the aquarium director, he learned that John was caring for the sick sea lion in Anna's place and had been at the aquarium since late Friday night. "Call for backup to meet us at the aquarium," he said, tossing the cell phone to Fraser. "I've gotta put some clothes on."
They were on the road in ten minutes, heading for the aquarium. Ray could only hope that they weren't too late to save Kai and Omar. Dief would be very upset if anything happened to his new friends.
It was the exploding squid that really pissed Ray off.
Why anyone would put explosives inside of crates containing frozen squid was beyond his comprehension. It was the stupidest thing he'd ever heard of. They were just lucky that Tilton was a clueless bomber and had not put enough TNT in his bombs. Just enough of a bang to break open the crates and fling frozen squid bits and chunks all over the place.
If he was totally honest, Ray had to admit that it wasn't entirely Fraser's fault. After all, how could Fraser have known that the crates of squid had been rigged with explosives? At least, that's what he kept telling himself as he rooted around in the trunk for his emergency kit. The kit which, since he'd been partnered with Fraser, contained towels and a change of clothes.
Ray grabbed a towel and tried to wipe away the layer of squid bits that seemed to coat every available surface on his body. While he was a fan of calamari and other squid-ish dishes, he was not so keen on wearing squid. After a moment, Ray gave up clean as a lost cause and focused on toweling off the worst of the dripping stuff.
Looking across the parking lot, he spotted Fraser earnestly speaking with the aquarium director. Ray tapped his foot as minutes ticked by and the squid-slime started to dry. It itched and Ray was more than ready to jump into a hot shower. With his favorite Mountie.
Ray stuck two fingers into his mouth and let out a piercing whistle. "Fraser! Let's go!" He got into the car and started it up, fending off a sneak lick from Dief in the backseat, who felt he deserved considerable credit for making friends with the dolphins and helping find the murder weapon.
Fraser climbed into the car. "There was no reason to be rude, Ray." Fraser's tone could only be called snippy. "The director wanted to convey the thanks of the dolphins to us."
Looking at him, Ray noticed that there were several squid tentacles dangling over the edge of Fraser's hat, like a bizarre fringe. He shook his head in disbelief. "I swear, Fraser, it just keeps getting stranger and stranger with you around." Carefully, he reached out and picked the tentacles off and stroked the line of Fraser's jaw with a finger. "But I love you anyway."
End For The Love Of Dolphins by Akamine chan
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