M/M relationship. The resolution to "Hiding" and nothing else. :)
Thanks again to those who sent email, it was very nice of you. I love receiving it.
Disclaimer: borrowed only, no harm intended.
Lunch was unpleasant. Fraser and Ray's mother sat watching him push his food around the plate. When the stares got to be too much, he took a few bites.
"Raimundo, you aren't eating."
"Sorry, Ma. I guess I'm not very hungry. I did eat breakfast late." He smiled and took another bite.
"Yes, Raimundo and you didn't eat much of that. Francesca brought you some ice cream, chocolate cherry. Would you like some?"
Franny was bringing him ice cream? He must have fallen into an episode of the Twilight Zone. That must be it, the minds and bodies of his family members had been taken over by alien beings and he hadn't noticed the change until they began torturing him with niceness. When his mother left to get the ice cream, he looked at Fraser.
"I'm considering calling a mental health professional, Benny. Don't panic, just remain calm. All of you need help, everything will be fine."
Fraser raised his eyebrows and turned his head to the side, looking at Ray. "Excuse me, Ray. I don't understand."
"You are all delusional, Benny and you need help. Don't worry, we'll find someone. I wonder if we can get a group discount."
"What are you talking about, Ray?" He looked completely confused. Ray almost laughed, but he managed to keep his serious expression.
"You're holding me hostage and abusing me with kindness, Benny. I can't take it anymore. You're all obviously confused and before you do things to my mind, I'm going to find someone to help you."
Fraser understood now. He smiled slightly. "Well, that's just silly, Ray."
Ray rolled his eyes in response. His mother came back into the room with a very full dish of ice cream. He stared at her and then back to what she had in her hands. "Ma, I assume that's for all of us?"
"No, caro. I don't like cherries. You can share it with Benton, if you'd like." With that she sat at the table again, watching Ray even though she had finished her lunch.
Ray ate most of the ice cream, then looked at Fraser. "I'm going upstairs to my room to watch television, Benny. Are you coming?" Before he had a chance to respond, Ray's mother intervened.
"I have some boxes in the car. Would you help me bring them in Benton?"
"Yes, ma'am, of course." Then he looked at Ray. "I'll be up a little later, Ray?"
"Sure, Benny. Excuse me, please." He smiled at both of them, then left quickly with Dief following him.
As soon as she heard Ray on the stairs, Mrs. Vecchio looked at Fraser. "I do have some boxes, Benton. But I also wanted to talk to you. Do you mind? We can bring them in and then we can talk."
"All right, Mrs. Vecchio."
After bringing several empty boxes in from Mrs. Vecchio's car, which she explained were intended for Francesca to store some old clothes in the attic, she led him into a small and rarely used downstairs where they could sit and talk privately and simultaneously watch Maria's youngest children playing in the hall. Mrs. Vecchio looked at him for a few seconds before she spoke. She had been uncertain how to approach what she wanted to discuss.
She had wanted to talk to him since he returned from his trip, but she had been unable to find a way to do it. He was always so polite and restrained, she thought, nothing at all like her children. He kept everything to himself. She had spent the weekend worrying about Raimundo and remembering the look on Benton's face when she talked to him in the kitchen the night he returned from Ottawa. She knew even his self-control couldn't always win, he would have to let go eventually. She hadn't been doing very well with Raimundo recently either. If he had come to her about his feelings for Benton initially, she could have told him she had realized what was happening months earlier and that she accepted it. Even Francesca had become aware at some point. Now Raimundo was hiding something else and Benton seemed terrified and threatened most of the time, despite his restraint. Well, she felt she had to try, even if she didn't succeed.
"Benton, I'm worried about you. Are you all right?" She saw surprise register on his face, he did not appear to have an immediate answer.
"Ah . . . yes, ma'am."
She smiled at him, but didn't let it go. "I don't think you are Benton. I've wanted to talk to you since you got back and I have not known what to say. Tell me how to help."
He was entirely confused. "I'm sorry, Mrs. Vecchio. I don't understand."
"Benton, I know you are worried about Raimundo and I know you have been upset since Maria called you."
He looked at her, still uncertain how to respond. "Yes, but all of you been worried as well."
She smiled again and decided to take a different approach. "Yes, Benton, we've all been worried too, but it's different for us. Now, I want you to tell me how to help you Benton. I know it is difficult for you to discuss personal things, I can see that. But, I can't do anything if you don't talk to me. Just like Raimundo, I can't get him to talk at the moment either."
He squirmed a little in his chair and tried to understand what she was asking. Finally, he had to say it, "I'm sorry, I don't understand."
"Benton, I can see on your face sometimes how worried you are, even though you try to cover it up. We are all worried about Raimundo. He is my child, Benton, of course I am worried. But your situation is different, your relationship with Raimundo is different from ours. And you don't let anyone know what you are thinking, you keep everything quiet. I know you love my son and he loves you. Now tell me, why won't you let me help? It's okay to talk to someone, Benton."
He looked down and hesitated before responding. "I don't want to bother you. Ray is your son and you shouldn't have to . . . "
Before he could finish, she stopped him. "You are not bothering anyone, Benton. You are a part of my family. Talk to me." She was very firm this time.
He hesitated again, biting the inside of his lower lip. "I don't know what to do. I think you're right, I think there are things Ray is keeping to himself. I don't believe he would intentionally lie to me, but I . . . maybe he doesn't know he's doing it." He stopped and looked at her, she was waiting for him to continue. He finally gave in. "I am frightened. I can't handle . . . I can't . . . I can't deal with the possibility of . . . something happening to Ray."
He was struggling to keep control again and she could tell she wasn't going to get much more from him. Why did he fight it so hard, she wondered? She reached over and took his hand. "I know, Benton. If you want to talk to me, I'm here when you're ready. Do you understand?"
He looked away briefly, then met her gaze. "Yes, ma'am. Thank you."
She continued holding his hand. "Okay, Benton. I won't keep you here any longer. I just wanted you to know I'm waiting for you, whenever you need someone to talk to." She smiled at him again. "Go upstairs now, before Raimundo comes looking for you."
They spent most of the afternoon in Ray's room again watching television and returned there after dinner. Fraser noticed Ray had seemed subdued and tired most of the afternoon and evening, but he was reluctant to say anything. They sat on the bed, leaning back against the pillows. Ray shifted and looked at him.
"Benny, I need to talk to you." Ray realized he couldn't put it off any longer.
"Yes, Ray?" He looked at him, wondering if Ray would finally tell him the whole story, whatever that might be.
"I'm not going to keep my appointment tomorrow, Benny." He saw Fraser raise his eyebrows and spoke again before he could interrupt. "I feel better now and I've decided not to go. I don't think it's really necessary. You and Ma and the whole family are making far too much out of this. It's completely out of control. I feel like I'm being watched and it's time to end it. You've been observing me ever since you got back and nothing has happened. Nothing is gonna happen because there is nothing wrong with me." Ray stopped and looked at Fraser. He was rubbing his eyebrow with his thumb again, that always meant something was wrong, Ray thought.
"If you are fine then why not keep your doctor's appointment, Ray?"
Ray looked at him, startled. "If there's nothing wrong with me why should I go? That doesn't make any sense, Fraser."
"You were ill Friday, Ray. You've been ill for some time. You were told you would have to see your doctor. This isn't optional, Ray." Fraser realized that last comment had pushed Ray's temper over the edge, but he hadn't been able to find another way to say it.
"I am capable of making decisions for myself, Fraser. I've already made this one and I'm not changing my mind." He was afraid he might have said too much. What if Benny got tired of fighting him and left? He didn't think he could deal with that. When Fraser spoke again, Ray thought he heard anger in his voice. Maybe it was something else, he wasn't certain, but was unusual for Benny.
"Of course you can make your own decisions, but this isn't a good one."
Ray was starting to worry. They hadn't ever really argued before, not since they had become lovers. Ray stood up and looked at Fraser. He had to do something to calm the situation and himself. "I'm sorry, Benny. I know you've been worried about me and I appreciate it. I didn't want you to come back from you trip for no reason, I wish you had called me first. I would've told you there was nothing to worry about."
"Yes, I think you would have told me that." He was definitely beginning to sound angry, Ray thought. "But I would have come back anyway. You could not have talked me out of it."
Ray continued looking at him, trying to decide what to do next. Reason didn't seem to be working, he thought, but he tried again, "I can't go tomorrow, Benny. I'm okay now, really. I'm going to work tomorrow and we can just forget about this and everything can go back to normal. I can't take the way everyone is acting any longer." Ray was becoming anxious. "I just want everything to go back to normal, Benny. That's all. It won't if I . . ." He stopped suddenly.
He heard the anxiety in Fraser's voice. "If you what, Ray? Everything won't go back to normal if you what?"
Ray attempted a smile, but failed. "Nothing, Benny. I didn't mean to say that."
"I know you didn't intend to say it, Ray. But finish it." Fraser's face was unreadable and Ray couldn't tell what was responsible for that odd tone in his voice. He had never seen Benny respond this way.
"There's nothing to finish." He walked toward the door, quickly picking up his keys as he walked by the dresser. "I'm going to get some air, Benny. I'll be back in a few minutes."
Ray was out the door before Fraser could get up from the bed. He caught him in the hall and put a hand on Ray's arm. "Ray, please don't go."
"I'm just going to get some air, Benny. Please wait here, Benny. I won't be gone long." Ray looked frightened, there seemed to be nothing short of physcial force to stop him. Fraser saw Dief run out of the bedroom and halfway down the hall before he stopped and looked at Ray. At least he was going too, Fraser thought.
"There seems to be nothing I can do to prevent it, Ray. I'll wait for you," Fraser said quietly.
Ray looked at him for a moment and Fraser thought he seemed exhausted. "Thank you, Benny. I'm sorry. Don't be angry. Okay?" With that he turned and walked downstairs.
Fraser stood in the hall, staring after him and wondering how long he should wait before trying to follow him. He was startled when Mrs. Vecchio put her hand on his shoulder.
"Give him a few minutes, caro." She smiled at him and then continued, "Come wait with me. If Raimundo isn't back soon, then you can go look for him." She took his hand and led him back to Ray's room. Fraser sat in silence on the side of the bed and she pulled the chair she had occupied the last time up to the bed so that she was sitting across from him. "What happened, Benton?"
He looked at his hands in his lap and hoped she wouldn't press him, but he knew she wouldn't go away. He decided to answer. "Ray told me he has decided not to keep his appointment tomorrow. He said there is no reason to go because he feels better now. Except, I don't think he does. I don't think he felt well this afternoon." He paused and looked down again, trying to keep his emotions controlled. "It's my fault. I argued with him and I told him he had to go. Then he told me he just wanted everything to return to normal and there was something else he almost said and didn't finish. I think he was going to say that wouldn't happen if he kept his doctor's appointment tomorrow, but I'm not sure. I shouldn't have argued with him, if I hadn't argued he wouldn't have left."
She could see that his self-control was beginning to slip. She took his hand again and held it between both of hers. "Benton, it is not your fault. You can't control what Raimundo thinks and you weren't wrong to argue with him. I would have done the same. Don't blame yourself because he is upset, caro. Whatever it is Raimundo isn't telling us is the thing that upsets him, not you. I think you're right about this afternoon, I noticed too."
He had been staring at the floor while she spoke. He continued sitting motionless on the bed, staring at the floor. "Look at me, Benton." He didn't move. She repeated it, more forcefully and with her best serious parent voice. "Benton, I am talking to you. Look at me, now."
He looked up. "I'm sorry, Mrs. Vecchio." He was crying. She got out of the chair, sat on the bed next to him and put an arm around him. "That's all right. You have no reason to be sorry for being human, Benton. It's not so terrible to let things out sometimes. You don't always have to keep such control, caro. I told you already, you are part of my family and I expect you to let me know when I can help you. You and Raimundo are going to have to stop trying to hide what's wrong. You don't have to discuss every personal detail of your lives, but you are carrying things too far. Do you understand?"
He nodded, but did not speak. She sat with her arm around him while he cried. Even his crying was too quiet, she thought.
Ray returned a little over thirty minutes later. He found his bedroom door partially open, he walked in, but stopped suddenly. He had been afraid Benny might not be there when he returned, but he was not prepared for what he found. Fraser sat on the bed looking at Ray, but he said nothing. It was obvious he had been crying. His face was red and his eyes were puffy, he looked entirely drained. What was happening? Benny never cried. He hadn't cried after Victoria, although Ray had, and he hadn't cried when Girard came back. He had almost cried after Louis died, when Ray and everyone else at the precinct had rejected him because of Zuko. Ray remembered seeing it in his face when he had personally turned on Benny, but he didn't like thinking about it. Benny had cried tonight, though. It looked as if he had done a lot of crying. Ray continued staring at him, not knowing what to say, or think. He was afraid to move. He didn't want to leave the room and he wasn't sure he was welcome to stay. He stood, entirely frozen, in the center of the room and stared at Fraser. He didn't have to make a choice. His mother suddenly opened the door without knocking.
"Benton are you . . . " She hesitated when she noticed Ray standing there. His mother knew. She obviously knew Fraser had been upset, she must have known why. Ray wasn't even sure why. What was going on? He turned and directed his stare at his mother. "Raimundo, you're back. Are you all right? We were worried about you."
"Yeah, Ma, I'm okay." He couldn't think of anything else to say. He still hadn't moved from his spot.
"I'm glad you're back, caro. I'll leave you and Benton alone now." She left abruptly and closed the door. Ray still refused to move, but he shifted his gaze back to Fraser. He had to do something, he couldn't stay like this.
"Benny? I'm sorry. I'm really sorry, Benny. Do you want me to go?" He stood still, waiting to be told to leave.
Fraser looked at him. "It's your room, Ray, and your house. Don't you think if anyone leaves it should be me?" His voice was shaky.
Ray was beginning to panic. "No, Benny. I don't want you to leave. Do you want to?"
"No, Ray. I have no plans to go anywhere, unless that is what you want." He sat still, looking at Ray and Ray remained where he had been since he entered the room.
"No, Benny." Ray almost whispered.
Fraser stood and walked hesitantly to where Ray stood. "I don't know what to do, Ray. I didn't mean to push you away, but I am worried about you."
"Yeah, I know. I don't know what to do either, Benny. I know you and Ma and eveyone else have been worried about me and it's been kind of overwhelming. I feel like I'm being watched all the time. I want to go back to normal. Can't all of you just relax and let this go?"
Fraser reached out and put one hand on Ray's arm, then Ray relaxed and they hugged. Fraser spoke first. "Ray, I need to talk to you and I want you to promise you won't leave again. Please."
Ray sighed, it was obvious there was no way around this. But his partner was going to have to do some explaining too, particularly about why he had been so upset. "Okay, Benny. I promise."
Fraser put his arm around him and led him to the bed, they sat for a few moments before either of them spoke. Then, "Ray, what were you going to say before you left? I asked you to finish the sentence and you refused. You said you wanted everything to go back to normal and you were afraid that wouldn't happen if you did something, but you wouldn't finish. What was it, Ray?"
Ray shifted and tugged on the blanket with his fingertips. "I know what I said, Benny. Why is this such a big deal? Why do you want to know?"
"Ray, please. Please stop." Fraser was near tears again.
What was the point. Fraser was going to push this no matter what he said and he wasn't willing to take a chance on losing his relationship. He decided to give up, at least partly. "Okay, Benny. You win. I meant I'm afraid if I keep the appointment tomorrow it will be harder to forget about this. I just want to drop it. I don't want more tests, I don't want to pursue this. That's all. If all of you will give me a few days, I'll be fine. Don't I seem fine to you?" He realized immediately he shouldn't have asked that.
"No, you don't. Why can't we finish this? There is a reason why you refuse and you obviously don't want to tell me what it is. You've done everything possible to avoid telling me." Fraser was trying to keep from losing control, but Ray could hear the shaking in his voice.
"I'm not lying to you, Benny."
"I know you aren't lying to me, Ray. You simply aren't telling me anything."
Ray didn't want to sound angry, or lose his patience when Benny was obviously upset. "I'm not exactly sure why I don't want to, Benny. I know tomorrow won't end it, I guess. I really do feel better. I don't want to be investigated, you know? I mean, I don't want to . . . I don't know how to explain." Ray changed the subject quickly. "But, I don't understand what the hell is the matter with you. I've never seen you act like this."
Fraser stood quickly and walked to the window, leaving his back to Ray. He waited a few seconds. Ray sat on the bed and watched him. "I've told you, I'm worried about you. You won't, or can't, tell me everything and that worries me even more." He heard Fraser pause and take a breath. "Please don't do this to me."
Ray moved to stand near Fraser and put his hand on Fraser's arm. "I don't understand, Benny. What am I doing to you? I don't want to hurt you."
Fraser turned and looked at him, he could see Ray was being honest. Ray didn't know what he had done to worry him, or maybe he was trying not to think about it. Either way, it wasn't intentional. Ray saw the tears running down Fraser's cheeks and flinched slightly. "You really don't know, do you Ray?"
Fraser looked at him for a few moments and then he sighed. "I am frightened. You are obviously not feeling well. None of what has happened is normal for you and you refuse to do anything about it." Fraser paused again. "I don't want anything to happen to you, Ray. I cannot lose you."
Ray moved back a little, obviously startled by what he had heard. "Is that what you think? You and Ma and the whole family? You think I'm going to die?" Ray was almost shouting. He lowered his voice a little before continuing. "I'm sorry, Benny. I love all of you, but that is definitely insane."
Fraser had not moved. He didn't seem surprised by Ray's outburst. "No, Ray, we don't think that. But, we do know something is wrong and so do you. Don't you?"
Ray didn't know how to argue with that. He stared at Fraser for a moment, wondering how he should answer. "Yes, Benny."
Fraser took another breath and shuddered slightly. "And that is why you refuse to keep your appointment, because you don't want to know what it is?"
Ray sighed. "Yeah, Benny. I guess that is part of it, not all, but part."
They stood looking at each other. Fraser had pushed Ray for all the answers he thought he needed at the moment, except one. "Ray? If I ask you to go tomorrow as a personal request, because I want you to, will you do it?"
Ray frowned and looked away. "That's not fair, Benny."
"I know, Ray and I'm sorry. But, you haven't left me with any other options. I love you. Please, Ray."
Ray was almost angry, at Benny for doing this to him and at himself for allowing it. "All right."
Fraser sighed. "Thank you."
Ray still felt some anger. "You're going with me, Fraser. If you don't, I won't go."
"Of course I will, Ray. I had intended to go with you, before you told me you weren't going at all."
Fraser moved forward and Ray allowed a hug. They kissed and then Fraser spoke again. "Ray, please don't be angry with me."
Ray smiled a little. "I'll get over it, Benny. I'm not exactly happy about it, but I won't stay angry with you."
They kissed again and Ray leaned against him. "I'm tired, Benny. Can we go to bed now? Just to sleep, I mean." He had a real smile this time. "I have to say that Fraser, because you seem to get confused sometimes. The last time I tried to get you in bed for something else you didn't have a clue what I meant. I wonder sometimes, Benny."
Fraser laughed and hugged him again. "Of course, Ray."
Ray shifted and pulled at the blankets, then he put his head on Fraser's chest. Fraser tucked the blanket around him.
"Is something wrong, Ray?"
"No, Benny. I was cold, but I'm not now."
"Are you sure? I'll get you another blanket, if you need one."
Ray put his arm around him. "Yeah, Benny. I'm sure, thanks."
He felt and heard Fraser sigh. "Relax, Ray. Try to sleep. Whatever happens tomorrow, we'll deal with it. I'll do anything you want as long as it isn't harmful to you. And I promise I'll try to help you get everything back to normal as much as that is possible, whatever you think normal should be. Okay?" Fraser put both arms around him and held him tightly.
Ray nodded. "Okay, Benny."