by Blue Champagne
Author's website: http://www.mindspring.com/~bluecham/
Disclaimer: I own nothing, making no money.
"Are you all right, Ray?" Fraser closed the door behind him. "It being so late..."
"You assumed something must be wrong, but nothing is," Ray said, smiling. "Not a thing." There was something different in his grey eyes; they were open too wide--not held that way, just...open. There was nothing in between those eyes, what was behind those eyes, and the outside world. He smiled a little, motioning Fraser in. He was holding a beer, Canadian, a habit he'd picked up from Fraser, but didn't seem at all inebriated, though he did smell beery; but then, Fraser found the smell of beer rather a pervasive one.
"Nothing?" Fraser asked, coming in and sitting down on the couch where Ray indicated.
"Yeah. But sometimes when the...when it gets bad," Ray said, shrugging one shoulder, obviously expecting Fraser to know what he meant by that, and Fraser supposed he did--the stress of Ray's work, which had caught up with him on occasion, as it did everyone. "I go to the doc, you know."
"Uh, no, Ray, I hadn't known that."
"Well, I guess not for this. But I got...really tired, and...well, this stuff, it'll make me sleep."
"Then should you be drinking that?" Fraser frowned, nodding at the bottle.
Ray laughed softly and had a brief swig. "Sure, sure. Won't hurt a thing, stuff'll work just fine, no problems."
"Do you ordinarily take sleeping medication?"
"No, I don't, that's why...I wanted you to stay with me, until I fall asleep. I know it's kinda weird of me to ask, but I just...wanted someone around. You know how those things can...can mess with your head sometimes."
Fraser nodded slowly, watching as Ray moved around the apartment, looking at things, picking them up, setting them down casually. He noticed the light over the aquarium was off, and asked "Is your turtle all right?"
"Sure, he's fine, but I couldn't pay enough attention to him, so one of the aides offered to take him, she's got a kid who wants a new turtle, has all the stuff. She's pretty sure she'll end up doing all the caretaking, but he's kind of low-maintenance. Just no time to get rid of this," he explained, waving the bottle at the dark, silent aquarium. "Brought him by work today; she took him home with her."
"You gave away your turtle? Ray, are you sure you're all right?"
Ray laughed briefly. "He'll be fine in his new place, not like he notices who feeds him and cleans his tank. Yeah, I'll be great. Just a little high, then I'll sleep. I just wanted...wanted you here, you know? Soon's I fall asleep, you can take off. It's Friday, you can sleep in a little, right?"
"Yes, if I feel the need. Is anything particular troubling your sleep? I have noticed you've been...withdrawn, the last few..." days, weeks. Fraser had his own preoccupations; he couldn't really have said when Ray started to show changes in his behavior. "You've seemed like your mind's elsewhere."
"When isn't it?" He laughed softly again, then said "Yeah, had some stuff on my mind, but I think it's all worked out. I just need some rest now. Even waited for a weekend, so it wouldn't be a problem for you. You...you're the only one I'd ask for something like this, you know, Frase."
"Yes," Fraser nodded again. "And I'm still surprised. By both your decision to see a doctor about your sleeping difficulty, and...your desiring to have someone here while..."
"While I wind down. You don't need to do anything, Frase, really. Just be here. Wanna watch some TV?" Ray finally settled next to Fraser.
"No, I don't think so. Do you want to talk about this? Whatever level of detail you'd like, of course."
Ray seemed to think a minute, then shook his head. "Nah. Nothin' left to hash over, it's all worked through, all cleared up. Things are makin' sense. I just...wanna be with you for a while, before I sleep, give me nice dreams. Relaxing. Tell me a story." Ray got up and wandered toward the bedroom, leaving his beer on the coffee table. "A bedtime story. Just no creepy Lou Skagnetti shit." He laughed again.
"A bedtime story," Fraser repeated, following Ray slowly. He supposed whatever sedative the doctor had prescribed was making Ray behave like this, a loosening of his customary tight energy, a fuzziness around the edges. Other than that, he seemed all right. Ray, only the tightly-strung spring relaxed a little.
Ray was pulling off his clothes, leaving on a faded tank undershirt and some grey boxer briefs. He climbed in bed and patted the spot next to him. "Here, have a sit."
Hesitantly, Fraser sat, after removing his jacket and pushing up the sleeves of his henley. "Would you like the light out?" he asked, smiling.
"Nah," Ray smiled back, "I wanna see you." As Fraser got situated, Ray reached over and took his hand, folding their fingers together, interlocking. He did it so casually that Fraser didn't even tense his arm in startlement, but, blinking down at their fingers, long gold against firm ivory, he did ask "Are you sure I shouldn't stay? After you're asleep, that is. Just to make sure the dosage was correct and everything's working properly."
Ray smiled, one of those beautiful, full-on smiles that Fraser couldn't not smile back at. "No, no, dosage is perfect. Followed all the directions just fine. You go on and take off when you're sure I'm out, right? You can leave the light on. One thing...might seem kinda weird..."
Fraser shook his head. Whatever this sedative was, it seemed to be taking effect quickly now, and Fraser was more than willing to be indulgent. "Whatever you'd like."
"Kiss me goodnight, on the cheek. My mum used to do that. Could always tell, even though I was asleep. Made everything okay, you know? And say 'Sleep well, see you tomorrow'."
Fraser cocked his head, said teasingly "You want a goodnight kiss? That's sweet, Ray."
"Just shut up and say you'll do it."
"Of course I will, you know that. Now, what would you like to hear?"
"Something Fraser. You know, a Fraser story, long and rambling and when you get to the point it doesn't have anything to do with the price of tea in China."
Fraser gave Ray a sour look as the latter giggled. Fraser said "I was under the impression you had little patience with those stories."
"But I got all the time in the world right now, Benton buddy." He squeezed their hands, rocked them back and forth a bit, and covered the back of Fraser's hand with his own free one, holding Fraser's in both. He skitched a little closer and said "It doesn't matter what it's about. Snow, trees, the stars. Tell me about the stars, the stories about how they get turned into pictures with names. Asterisms. Tell me some asterism stories."
Fraser remembered the occasion of his telling Ray that what most people called constellations were actually asterisms, constellations being a different, more methodical sectioning of the sky, used mostly by astronomers; but he was surprised Ray had remembered. "Oh. Ahm...all right. I'll tell you the story of...Queen Cassiopeia, and her daughter Andromeda, and how Andromeda was saved by Perseus."
"Sounds good." Ray was blinking sleepily. "Love your voice, Fraser, when you talk all soft like that. I really...really love your voice. More than I can...can say..." he yawned a little. "Love..."
"Thank you kindly," Fraser answered gently, smiling at Ray's innate gentleness, the poet inside, knowing it was the drug revealing it, that Ray wouldn't even remember the comment. "I love your voice, too."
"Love?" Ray smiled again a little, squirming closer until he rested against Fraser's leg.
"Yes, Ray; love." Fraser let his hand stroke the soft spiky hair gently. "Well. The story begins with Poseidon, and a sea monster he sent against Queen Cassiopeia's people..."
"Poseidon," Ray sighed, snuggling down, getting comfortable, with a little smile, as his eyes blinked sleepily. "Like the movie."
"Yes, that ship was named after the sea god. The ancient Greek gods were apparently easy to offend, and they tended to retaliate somewhat arbitrarily. Poseidon sent the sea monster to consume a human virgin, in an apparent fit of temper for..."
He went on, his voice growing softer, until finally he noticed that Ray's breathing was even and steady, his eyes closed easily in the dim light of the bedside lamp. "Ray?"
There was no response; Ray's fingers around Fraser's hand were lax. He removed them from Ray's grip easily, and settled Ray's hand comfortably, with a light pat. Remembering his promise, he leaned down to kiss Ray's cheekbone softly, prompting a small sigh; he murmured "Sleep well, Ray. I'll see you tomorrow." He remembered also to leave the soft gold light on, and rose carefully, making his way out of the apartment as quietly as possible. Glancing back, he smiled; Ray looked comfortable, content, at rest. For once, the sedative seemed to be quite an excellent idea for what ailed Ray.
And it was--safe and warm, and feeling close and loved, to someone he loved so much, all his nightmarish life held at bay by the drug, Ray was warm and easy. Then sometime around midnight, or maybe one o'clock, when he was sleeping most deeply, he stopped breathing, and never started again--and absolutely everything was perfect.
"Some kind of cocktail, you can get it, a cop would know how," Welsh was saying softly into Ray's phone. He wasn't looking at what was going on behind him. "Not like a homemade, no, nothing like that..." Ray had arranged to have his landlady check on him in the morning to make sure he was up, said he had something important at work to get to and didn't want to miss it 'cause he'd slapped his alarm off. What she had found had been a peaceful enough scene, but she'd dialed 911 anyway when there'd been no rousing the cold-skinned detective. "Mostly morphine, but some other stuff. Doesn't hit right away. Takes you to a happy place, and then you fall asleep. And then you don't wake up. That's all...yeah. We got all that at this end, it's covered. No. I got another angle for his jacket, for the story. Nobody has to know, not officially. Yeah. No, I'll be okay. I'll come by tonight. No, today. I'll take off at lunch. Love you too, son. Love you, and Renee, and the kids. Give 'em all a hug for me, I mean it. I'll see you." He emphasized the last three words a little too much, and he knew it; but he also knew they needed it, after the story he'd just told.
Suddenly there was a commotion at the door. "What on Earth--Lieutenant! Lieutenant Welsh, what the hell is--" Ah, shit, already--with two uniforms hanging off him.
"It's okay, Princeppi, Andrews. Let him go." But he stopped Fraser's attempted to advance into the apartment, caught those shoulders in both is own broad hands, caught up those huge slatey blue eyes with his own, and held them firmly. "Come with me. We need to talk."
"No! What the hell has--" Fraser struggled.
Welsh caught him again. "I'll tell you. We're going where we need to be right now, right now. Come on. You trust me, right? Known me how long? Come on, we're going where you need to be, I know where you need to be, come on..." he managed to guide the baffled and almost frantic Fraser out the door again, back down the hall, back toward the stairs.
"Sometimes, Fraser...Benton...people are...better at hiding things than we think. And sometimes it's people you'd never suspect."
End Just Until by Blue Champagne: email@example.com
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