Author's website: http://www.geocities.com/callinuk
Disclaimer: Due South and all of its characters belong to Alliance Communications
Story Notes: A sequel to After Dark.
This story is a sequel to: After Dark
I stop to look up at our apartment building; I know that Ray is home as I can see the light flickering in the windows. I sigh to myself suddenly wishing that the apartment was cloaked in darkness because that would mean that Ray was with his parents at their monthly family dinner.
Instead he is in our home alone and probably hurting because his parents can't or won't accept our relationship. Ray gave them an ultimatum a month ago telling them that he couldn't stand it any longer, that he had enough of them ignoring me and our relationship. He told them that either I go with him to dinner or he didn't go at all. I sigh again cursing his parents for their short sightedness.
Although he won't admit it to me, the last month has been hell for Ray as he waited for his parents to call. He jumped every time the telephone rang trying so hard to hide the look of disappointment on his face when it wasn't his parents. He has been on edge and jumpy, his nerves jangling more than usual, his energy sky-rocketing as he desperately tried to occupy himself, to keep his mind off his parents.
Francesca even called me, one day, at the Consulate because she was worried about Ray, confiding that he had been more short-tempered and moodier than usual. I reassured her that he was fine telling her that he was just tired. She seemed satisfied with my explanation promising to keep a sisterly eye on him for me. I then spent the rest of the day worrying myself silly about him, and about us - terrified that I would lose the best thing in my life. I even convinced myself that, even though he had chosen me, he would change his mind and leave me to make his parents happy. All my worries went out of the window when I got home. Ray was there to welcome me as usual with a hug and a kiss. And he was just my Ray - loving, kind and funny.
But I know deep inside me. Know that he is hurting. And we both know that he isn't fooling me with his light heartedness, but he does it anyway not wanting me to blame myself for the rift with his parents. He knows me so well. But he can't hide from me. In the same way that I can't hide from him. We are soul mates, our love for each other crossing all the barriers and obstacles that people throw in our way.
And at night, in our bed, Ray curls up close to me, his skin touching mine and his arm slung possessively over my stomach as if trying to reassure me with his body that he isn't leaving me, that despite his parents' objections, he has chosen me forever. Just as I have chosen him. I smile to myself, the thought making me feel warm all over.
I look up again - the lights in the apartment are still flickering. I am suddenly filled with an overwhelming feeling of sadness because Ray's parents haven't called. I freely admit to myself that I don't have much experience with families, but I can't understand how Ray's parents can say that they love him, but not want him to be happy. I shake my head in frustration at their confusing logic.
Diefenbaker whines up at me, and I lean down to ruffle his ears. "Yes. We're going in now," I say to him as I try to compose myself, not wanting Ray to see that I am troubled. Diefenbaker yips at me. "Yes," I smile down at him. "We'll look after Ray." I can't help another smile - I think Diefenbaker loves Ray as much as I do. We walk into the building side by side making our way up the stairs and along the corridor to our home and Ray.
I open the door and Diefenbaker bounds in with a bark hurrying to find Ray. I sniff the air - the apartment smells of baking, and I wrinkle my brow curious. "Ray," I call as I put my stetson on the hall table. "I'm home."
"In here," a voice calls from the small kitchen.
Hanging up my coat in the closet, I stand in the doorway leading to the kitchen watching Ray. The small kitchen is the scene of chaos - flour and assorted baking utensils are scattered across all the surfaces. Ray is standing in the middle of the untidiness, his hands resting on the kitchen counter as he squints down at one of his recipe books. Diefenbaker is sitting at his feet looking up expectantly for treats, as usual.
"Ray," I say.
He turns to look at me, and I have to stifle a laugh at the sight. He is covered in flour. His jeans have floury hand prints where he has obviously wiped them. He even has a blob of flour on the tip of his nose, and I can see a sprinkling of white in his blonde spikes.
"What are you doing?" I ask looking around our usually neat and tidy kitchen. "And when did the explosion happen?" I grin at him.
Ray looks down at his hands and jeans as if he has just noticed that he is covered in flour. Shrugging his shoulders he looks towards me again. My humour immediately dissolves as I see the look on his face - he looks lost and vulnerable, and I think my heart will break at the sight of the sad expression on his face. "I'm making you a cherry pie like I promised," he mumbles as he wipes his hands on his jeans.
It all becomes clear as I remember the promise Ray to me if his parents didn't call to invite us to dinner. "Oh Ray," I move forwards quickly drawing him to me folding him into a hug.
"You'll get your uniform all messy," he whispers into my shoulder as I pull him closer.
"Damn the uniform," I say sharply. I love him so much that it hurts, and I can't bear to see him so sad because of his parents behaviour. "I don't care about the stupid uniform," I soften my tone not wanting him to think I am angry with him.
"You'll go to Mountie hell," he jokes. He chuckles softly, but it sounds more like a stifled sob as he shudders against me. I silently curse his parents again as I rub my hands in small circles across his back soothingly.
"Ssshh," I croon as I walk us towards the couch. I sit us both down drawing him close still whispering in his ear.
He sniffs loudly as he pulls out of the embrace. "Mum and Dad didn't call," he tries a smile, but it doesn't quite come off or reach his pale eyes. "So I thought to hell with them, I'll make us a cherry pie of our own." He looks over to me searching my face, and I know he is looking for a hint of anxiety or worry. I school my features into what Ray calls my on duty Mountie face. It doesn't fool him, and he smiles at me touching my face lightly with his fingers.
I smile back at him taking his fingers in my hand kissing each one in turn. "So I see," I release his fingers to wipe the flour from the tip of his nose."I would have never guessed," I tease trying to ease the tension as I brush my hand through his spikes showering us both with flour. "So what happened with the flour?" I ask with an encouraging smile.
"I kinda... you know," he grins at me. "Dropped the bag of flour, and it exploded all over me."
"Ahhh, I see," I run the back of my hand down his face. "And the kitchen?"
"Well," he reaches up to grab my hand. "The kitchen sorta became a casualty as well." He squeezes my hand. "But the pies came out OK. Last one's in the oven now."
"Ray," I look back towards the kitchen. "Just how many pies did you make?"
He lets out a long sigh. "I was gonna make one but then.....," he looks down at his jeans rubbing at the flour distractedly. He looks up at me, his expression is sad again. "I thought Mum and Dad probably won't ever ask me to dinner again. So I made six. I thought we could... you know freeze the others for another time. What do you think?" He stares at me, and I can see that his eyes are filling with tears. With a sniff, he wipes at his face before looking down at his jeans again, biting at his bottom lip. He is still clasping my hand, and pulls it towards him, close to his heart. Lowering his head, Ray kisses my hand softly. "It's OK," Ray murmurs against my skin. "Don't you go starting to worry or anything," he kisses my hand again. "I'm good. We're good. OK?" He looks up at me again, and I can see him fighting to shoot me one of his beautiful smiles - he manages a small smile, but it comes across lopsided and sad.
I bite the inside of my mouth trying to stifle my own tears. I want to be strong for Ray. Like he is trying to be strong for me. "Oh Ray," is all I can think of saying as I pull him towards me. "I love you," I breathe claiming his floury lips in a gentle kiss. "So much," I moan into his mouth as he leans into the kiss returning it with a mixture of passion and tenderness.
"Love you too Ben," I hear him whisper as we wrap our arms around each other pulling the other closer still. "You and me forever," he sighs as I pull him down to lie on top of me. His body is warm and heavy against mine, and I revel in the feeling and scent of my Ray as I run my hands up and down his back gently. He snuggles against me resting his head into the crook of my shoulder, and I can smell the faint hint of the flour in his hair.
We lie in silence, content to be together safe and warm in each other's arms. Ray jumps slightly as the oven timer rings loudly piercing the silence of the apartment. "Pie's done," he mutters pushing himself upwards slightly. Still laying full length on me, he rests his head on his hands looking at me. "You know Benton Fraser. You are the best thing that ever happened to me. And I love you more than anything or anyone in the world."
My heart soars at his words - Ray isn't usually given to sentimentality so I know that he means the words. Smiling, I reach up holding his head with my hands guiding him down towards me. "Likewise," I whisper as I claim his lips in a soft kiss.
Pulling apart, we grin foolishly at each other for a moment. "Go shower," he brushes a hand down my face. "And I'll go battle with the kitchen." He leans forward and kisses me quickly again before hauling himself to his feet.
"I fear the kitchen is one battle you won't win," I tease as I roll to my feet. "And watch out for those cherry pies," I grin at him.
He sticks his tongue out at me as he rolls up his sleeves. "Freak," he mouths as he grins back at me. "The kitchen and those pies are so gonna submit," he mumbles disappearing into the kitchen. "Gonna wash that flour right outta my hair," I hear him singing as he starts to clank pots, pans and utensils in his battle to clean up the kitchen.
I chuckle at him. "Go battle," I encourage as I head towards our bedroom. I can hear him talking to Diefenbaker, who is obviously barking in encouragement, probably hoping for titbits to fall onto the floor. I shake my head, but know that I wouldn't change my life for anything in the world.
Thirty minutes later, I emerge from the shower to find Ray and Diefenbaker laying on the couch together. His eyes closed, Ray is ruffling Diefenbaker's fur with one hand. My wolf is whining with obvious pleasure, and I shake my head in exasperation. "How was the battle?" I lift Ray's feet to sit down laying them back onto my lap. He opens his eyes as I start to stroke at his feet. I notice that he has cleaned himself up as well, all traces of flour having vanished.
"I won," he grins at me. "Told you I would."
"So you did," I lift a foot kissing at each of his toes. He giggles trying to squirm out of my grip - we both know his feet are ticklish. We wrestle for a while. Diefenbaker barks in disgust jumping off the couch to lay under the coffee table glaring up at us. The expression on his face makes us giggle even more, and we continue to wrestle until I make Ray submit by tickling him all over.
We lay together panting. I pull him closer nuzzling my nose into his neck. I am so happy lying here with here that my next words surprise me as much as they surprise Ray. "Let's invite your parents here to dinner next Saturday," I say.
"What?" Ray pushes himself up, straddling my legs, looking down at me as though I have slapped him hard. "What did you just say?" he squeaks.
Ray's face has drained of colour, and I swallow hard wishing I could take back my words. I take hold of both his hands frightened that he will leave. "I thought that if your parents won't invite you... us to dinner, we could invite them here," I stutter nervously. "And your brother and his wife. I could cook. And we have plenty of cherry pies," I know I'm babbling and I feel my face flushing. Ray continues to stare at me, his mouth open. I look away from him not wanting to see contempt on his face.
"Ben," he pulls one hand out of my grip nudging my chin so I am facing him again. I risk looking up at him steeling myself, my body tensing expecting his anger. I stare at him, and he smiles down at me. Instead of the expected anger, I can see only love and affection in his eyes and expression. "Ben," he whispers again leaning closer. His breath caresses my face and he kisses me softly. "Do you think they would come?" he asks softly as he lies back down on me.
I can't answer for a moment, too stunned by his reaction to my stupidity. Every day I count myself lucky to have Ray in my life. He never ceases to amaze me, and I love him a little bit more every day, if that's possible. I can feel his steady heartbeat against my body, and his warm breath against my neck. His closeness calms me, and I release the breath I didn't realise that I was holding. "We could ask," I eventually reply.
I can feel him nodding against me as he snuggles close. "They can only say no," he murmurs into my chest. "And they might just say yes." His voice sounds hopeful, and I squeeze him. He lays still for a moment before starting to wriggle. "I'll call them now," he drags himself to his feet. "Get it over with," he moves towards the his cell phone which is laying on the hall table with my stetson.
I jump up off the couch to follow him, not wanting him to do this alone. He retrieves his cell phone. "Ben," he reaches out and touches my arm. "Let me do this alone," his pale eyes are pleading. "OK?"
"But...," I start to protest.
"Please," he silences me with a finger on my lips. "I know you want to help. But I need to do this on my own. OK?"
I regard him for a moment. "Alright," I agree reluctantly. I sit back down on the couch as Ray disappears into our bedroom closing the door behind him.
I can't help myself, I sit at attention, my hands grasping the edge of the couch in a death grip. I start as the door swings open and Ray slumps down at my side. "Well?" I ask holding my breath.
Ray sidles up close to me, and I automatically put my arms around him drawing him close. "I hope we got time to tidy up the apartment," he whispers snuggling closer. "Because Mum has this radar thingy that can spot dust at thirty paces."
"So I take it your parents have decided to accept our invitation to dinner?" I say stupidly.
"Yeah," Ray sounds slightly dazed. "And they're bringing Tom and Susan with them." Ray wriggles in the embrace until he can look up at me. "Do you think everything will be OK?" he asks frowning slightly.
"Ray," I say. "Do you love me?"
"What? Are you nuts?" he shifts again to smile up at me. He gives me a quick kiss on the lips. "Course I love you."
"Well," I say returning the kiss. "If you love me. And I love you. Nothing or no-one can hurt us," I smile at him and he smiles back. "And yes. With my roast beef and your cherry pies. Everything will be fine."
"OK. Good," he snuggles down again.
He starts to fidget again, and I can't help laughing at him - it's like cuddling a barrel full of very active monkeys. "What's wrong Ray?" I ask with a chuckle.
"How many cherry pies do you think we should serve for dessert?"
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