Title: Strange Glue - Part Three: Yesterday's Through
Author: necessary angel
Pairing: Fraser/Kowalski and allusions to Fraser/Vecchio Spoilers: For everything up to and including Dr. Longball Rating: NC17 for male/male sex and foul language Disclaimer: They belong to Alliance but they seem to like it here so I am not going to kick them out. The title of the main story comes from the song of the same name by Catatonia. Notes: This is the sequel to Change in Season and is the third part of a longer RayK/Fraser story, it looks like there are going to be five parts in total. It follows directly on from Dr. Longball I am using the running order given on the official Due South site.
Many thanks to Megan for excellent Beta and for pointing me in the right direction, she made this so much better than it otherwise would have been.
Feedback - given a very good home at email@example.com
This one's for Caroline Alert again, as it is all her fault that this got started <g>.
Strange Glue 3: Yesterday's Through
"Giving advice to your elders is." Lieutenant Welsh pauses, looking for a tactful finish to his sentence.
Fraser follows the Lieutenant out of the Squad Room as he departs with his brother. Somehow, the closeness they had achieved in Willison is missing here in Chicago, but then perhaps that is only natural.
He looks back over his shoulder as he reaches the door. Ray is standing, replaying the tape of his winning home run yet again, Diefenbaker his only audience. Fraser has to smile; his partner is still flying from his successful baseball game and he must stay away from him. Ray in this infectious and strangely youthful mood is far too dangerous to his equilibrium.
Their short time in Willison has done a lot for Ray; he looks far more relaxed than the tired, drawn man who had left for Mexico. He'd still looked so fatigued and wary when Fraser met him with the car.
"I've gone to some lengths to ditch a date, but this is new." Ray squirming in the seat next to him trying to get comfortable, carefully not looking at Fraser.
"I take it the relationship didn't work out, then?"
Fraser's heart rate is much too high and his hands are shaking on the steering wheel. He is almost sure what his partner's answer will be, but the faint possibility that he is wrong is all he can think about.
"The plane barely touched down in Acapulco when she took up with this guy selling ponchos on the street." Ray's voice soft and even, all his attention seemingly on the road ahead of them.
"So you didn't get the girl." It isn't a question; his voice is warm but it isn't sympathy.
"I got this poncho, though."
Fraser has to smile, to let some of the surprising joy out. "It's very fetching."
Eyes meet and hold at last before Ray looks out of the window again. Slight smile that he almost misses and then Ray is all business, turning the conversation to the case. Fraser answers his partner's comments and objections with what seem to be vaguely sensible answers but he is not really participating.
That Ray's first words to him had nothing to do with the case but instead concerned them, their partnership and shifting relationship, had surprised Fraser and pleased him. The casually spoken words healing a well-hidden wound that he had not even known existed.
He had not been at all prepared for the gap that Ray would leave behind him when he had left for Mexico. They had needed the time apart to adjust to the sudden changes in their relationship, perhaps he more than his partner had. The routine of his days at the Consulate had been soothing at first, and then strangely confining; he had not expected to feel so alone without his friend in the same city as himself. The trip to Willison could not have come at a more opportune time.
"Fraser! Earth to the guy in the red suit." Ray is standing very close to him, a concerned look in his pale eyes.
"I'm sorry, Ray, I was just thinking." He is still standing next to the Squad Room door, no idea how long he has been there or how long Ray has been there.
"I haven't seen ya space out like that before. Anyway, my work here is done. Do ya wanna grab something to eat?"
"Yes, that would be delightful."
"What would?" Ray's eyes are narrow now, his hand rubbing at the side of his neck.
"Having dinner together."
"Good. Just checking, ya know. Are you alright?"
"I am perfectly fine Ray. I was just a little distracted."
"Hmm. I promise I won't talk baseball all night. Whaddya say to some Italian food? Frannie reckons that new place...uh what's it called."
"Told ya too, did she? She reckons that is the best Italian food in Chicago outside her mother's kitchen, or something like that anyway."
"It sounds like an excellent choice."
"Let's get at it then."
Ray hunches his shoulders against the deluge of rain as they run from the car to the Consulate, Dief bounding ahead.
"Ya gotta love the end of summer in Chicago." He shakes the water from the damp ruins of his hair and glares at the heavy door of the Consulate. "So you gonna let us in or I am gonna have to swim for it?"
"Of course, Ray I apologise."
"Just open the door. What is with you tonight?"
Fraser pulls his partner against him and fastens his mouth over the rain slick lips. A long heartbeat and then Ray's mouth opens to him, the heat shocking next to his chilled skin. He tastes of tomatoes, basil and faintly of something sweet that Fraser can't quite place.
He is almost dizzy before his partner pulls away slightly. "You are nuts, but I like it. Let's get inside." The puffs of his exhaled air scraping over every nerve in Fraser's body.
"Yes, of course." Fraser can't move, can't stop looking at the smiling red mouth and the flow of water down the angle of Ray's cheekbone.
Ray's long fingers take the keys from his unresisting hand and at last the door is open. A hand firm against his lower back guiding him through the door, Dief running in front of them, heading straight for the kitchen. No touch at all while his partner struggles with the locks and then Fraser is against the wall, Ray's body hard and heavy against his own shaking one, his smiling red mouth moving closer. Fraser closes his eyes and breathes in the smell of leather and rain and the faint tang of his sweat. The same smell that has crept into his dreams since that odd, disturbing night he had spent sleeping next to his partner.
"Constable Fraser, is that you?"
Crisp, female tones: Inspector Thatcher. "Oh dear."
Fraser shakes his head, automatically straightening up. Wide startled eyes and then his partner's warmth is gone.
Heels tapping and then Inspector Thatcher is watching them grimly from the other side of the hallway. "Constable, there you are. I was hoping to catch you before I left."
"Sir." Fraser breathes deeply for a moment, trying not to think about quite how narrow their escape had been.
"My office now, Constable. Good evening, Detective."
Ray arches an eyebrow and Fraser shakes his head, his eyes looking at the door.
"Okay, I'll be off then," a slight smile and a long finger pointing at his temple, and a silent, "Tomorrow".
"Good night, Ray." He nods at his partner and turns his attention back to Inspector Thatcher.
"Night Fraze, Inspector." A quick tight nod of the blond head and Ray is gone.
Thick glass in his hand and two white tablets in the lid of a medication bottle. Water running unheeded from the faucet.
Not his room at the Consulate.
All beige and brown, a hotel room then, not his. Lieutenant Welsh is settling himself on the bed, groaning under his breath.
The snap and click of a television as it is turned on.
A familiar voice, unusually husky and uncertain, coming from the television. Smooth glide of glass against his fingertips before he grips more tightly. The local sports journalist is evidently interviewing Ray, in the Hawkeyes' locker room.
"Well, would you look at that?" The Lieutenant is seemingly as surprised as he is.
His partner looks so different on the screen, pale and young and the round muscles of his chest and shoulders are very apparent. He looks nervous, unsure of himself and his shoulders are hunched in a most peculiar fashion, almost as if he is protecting.. Suddenly Fraser realizes that not only is Ray bare chested, but he is in all probability naked. He swallows and loosens his collar, but he is still uncomfortably warm.
He walks closer to the television, unable to look away.
One pale muscular arm moves, pushing through the gel of the screen.
That's most peculiar.but the long fingers are on his shoulder pulling him towards the screen and he can't do anything other than obey.
Sudden sharp buzz of a telephone, but not the telephone in the hotel room.
It is the telephone in his office, room. He sits up, running a hand through surprisingly damp hair.
"Yeah, yeah Fraser. Don't ya ever answer the phone with just hello?"
"Hello Ray. Is something wrong?" He has to smile at the faint note of exasperation in his partner's voice.
"Na, couldn't sleep. Did I wake ya?"
"Yes, but I am glad you did."
Fraser swallows his throat dry from sleep and something that feels far too close to fear for comfort.
"Oh, yeah. I know what that's like."
Ray's voice is soft now, hesitant and Fraser suddenly wonders just what is behind his friend's recent bout of insomnia. He glances at his watch, three thirty in the morning.
"Ray, what's the matter?"
No answer, just the quick uneven sound of his partner's breathing. He is about to speak again when Ray clears his throat and starts talking.
"Nothing, I just.fuck, I promised I wouldn't do this, push ya I mean."
Fine edge of pain so obvious in his voice that Fraser can see the darkened eyes and furrowed lines of his face.
"You're not, Ray. Listen to me, tonight just happened and I am more than happy it did. I didn't plan, I didn't intend."
"To jump all over me, I know. Tomorrow, then?"
No pain in his voice now, just a slight hesitancy and warmth that makes Fraser's stomach twist and knot in anticipation.
"Yes Ray, that would be delightful." Somehow he finds the words to answer him.
"I'll pick ya up at the Consulate after my shift. This is okay?"
"More than okay. I think we've waited long enough." Much better this time, his voice almost didn't want to shake at all.
"Yeah I think." Harsh intake of breath but Ray's voice is steady. "Well, I'll let ya get back to sleep then."
"Good night, Ray. Sleep well."
"Yeah, Fraze, I might just now. 'Night."
I don't sleep much despite my last words to Fraser. I finally do manage to close my eyes and convince my brain that I am asleep sometime around six. So of course I am late, very late, for work. Welsh snarls at me, takes another look and points at the coffee. I don't need the hint and as soon as he stops shouting I am all over the coffee.
Things inevitably start moving on one of my cases that has been stalled for so long that I'd almost given up hope of it showing any signs of life again. It had to start breathing again today, when all I want to do is coast through until it is time to pick Fraser up.
A couple of months or so back someone had started posting anonymous letters to the members of the city council. Not just your standard poison pen letters; this was real nasty stuff, complete with very good fake pictures and the odd rat's head. Real charming little perp this one, fucking smart too. No fingerprints, very few fibers, the forensic guys had come up with exactly nothing so far. All the items had been posted from different parts of Chicago and some from out of the city. No patterns at all, except that it was definitely the same perp each time and they were all posted to the home address of each councilor. Each councilor received a message each day for three weeks and then suddenly it had all stopped cold, until today.
So instead of hiding my tired body behind my desk for most of the day and actually getting some paperwork done for a change, I have to haul my ass over to City Hall and deal with the pompous, bastards that run this city for us, or think they do anyhow. They don't deserve this kinda crap, nobody does. The worst of it is that it is not just them the letter writer is targeting; he doesn't pull his punches on their families either.
Once I am moving it's not so bad, and it definitely makes the day go faster. I am in the groove of interviewing and bagging evidence and I don't have time to think. I spend all day driving round the city and being as polite as I can be and swilling down as much coffee as my jumping stomach will take.
By the end of my shift I almost out of the habit of looking at my watch every fifteen minutes and I am as awake as I am going to get today. I drop the last lot of names for Frannie to chase on her desk and get the fuck outta there.
I don't bend that many traffic laws on my way to the Consulate; the traffic is too heavy to do much real driving. Turnbull is at the reception desk when I eventually get inside the Consulate.
"Good evening, Detective Vecchio. Welcome back to Canada."
"Hey, Turnbull! Where's Fraser?"
I'm too wound up tonight to want to wait, and I have used up my daily allowance of polite a hundred times over.
"I am here, Ray." Fraser is walking down the corridor from his office, freshly pressed in jeans and a dark green sweater, his leather jacket over his arm.
"He won't be joining us this evening. Constable Turnbull has very kindly offered to feed him and generally take care of him."
"That's great." I can tell Turnbull is surprised by the strength of my reaction and the grin I send his way but he manages to not knock anything over as he stands up.
"It's a pleasure, Sir." He is smiling broadly at Fraser and myself.
"I'll see you tomorrow, Constable. Don't forget to lock up when you leave as I won't be back until late."
"C'mon Fraze, let's get at it. Bye, Turnbull."
"Goodnight, Sir. Detective Vecchio."
I give in and touch Fraser once we are in the car; I slide my hand onto his forearm. His muscles clench under the fine wool of his sweater at my light touch and I have to remember how to breathe.
"So, does you leaving Dief behind mean what I think it means?" Somehow I manage to say something and it even makes some kind of sense.
Fraser's face is very serious as he turns his head towards me and suddenly I am afraid that he has retreated back behind his walls again.
"I thought it might be best. I seem to recall someone telling me that the wolf and the turtle are natural enemies."
He is still not smiling and his voice is so dry, but there is no mistaking the twinkle in his eyes.
"Yeah, bitter enemies."
And easy as that we are laughing, and the odd tension that has been with us since we got back from Willison is gone.
It seems to take no time at all and forever to get to my building. I am talking to Fraser about my day, about the case that suddenly came back to life, but I don't have the least idea what I am saying. All I can think about is how he tastes and how he will feel. I'm not sure how I managed to wait for him to be ready for this, I'm really not good at waiting but this was something I had to do, could do. I mean, I have waited months for this, what's a couple more weeks?
I just know he's been saying my name for a while, I guess he is used to that by now but there is no irritation in his voice, just warmth that shivers over my scalp and down my spine.
He closes his mouth at that and smiles. I lean across and press my lips against the smooth line of his jaw.
His just shaved stubble scrapes across my lips as I speak and the warmth hits my cock and I can feel myself getting hard for about the millionth time today.
"Now?" He is still smiling and he presses his hand against the nape of my neck holding me against his face.
"Now!" I drag my lips along the length of his jawbone and pull away from him.
He is in my building before I have locked the car. I haven't ever seen Fraser move that fast unless he is hunting someone down and I shiver at the thought. I get to my apartment before I find him again; he is leaning against the wall next to the door. His eyes are sparkling and his face is flushed and he looks years younger than I know he is.
I have to taste him again and I brush my lips across his smiling mouth, teasing him and myself.
"Just open the door. What is with you tonight?" He arches his eyebrows and smirks.
I can't hold back the smile any longer. I never expected this ease, this acceptance. I never expected him to play like this, not before we'd even really started. I open the door and stand back to let him in.
He just stands there and watches me as I shut and lock the door, still smiling and looking ridiculously young. I shed my jacket and make my move in the game he started.
I push him against the wall like I did in Consulate but it is his hand sliding through my hair and his mouth that is all over mine. I am too dazed for the first few seconds to do more than brace my hands against the wall and let him do a thorough search of my mouth.
I have to be sure that this is really gonna happen. As he eases back from the kiss I find the breath to ask. "You okay with this Ben? Really?"
"More than okay." His broad palm frames the side of my face and he traces one finger along my cheekbone, his smile gentle.
I rub my head into the heat of his hand and he moves the hand back into my hair, tracing little circles over my scalp with his fingers. My stomach muscles tighten and I break through the daze that has gripped me since we left the car.
I brush my lips across his mouth, barely touching him. He shudders and I smile to myself. If he liked that, then what would this do? I trace the outline his lips with my tongue and then blow lightly across the slick surface.
"Oh, Ray." I can feel his thighs tremble against mine.
"Wanna move this party on?"
"Hmm, yes Ray." My stomach twists at the raw note in his voice.
I link my fingers through his, the knots in my stomach releasing a little when I find he is shaking just as hard as I am. I tug him gently into the bedroom, glad I had taken the extra time to change the sheets and tidy up the worst of the mess. I am a pig but I do have certain standards. It had made me even later for work but that hadn't mattered then and it certainly didn't now.
Not that Fraser would have noticed. He moves in on me as soon as we reach my bedroom, pulling me against the warm, heavy strength of his body and fitting his mouth against mine. I can't think anymore with the taste and heat of him branding my mouth and my body. I am moving, pushing into him, pulling and twisting until I find that right pressure and angle. The kiss changes, softens and slows and I sigh into his mouth. My fingers are digging into the round curve of his ass and I slow the rub and snap of our hips to match the rhythm of his tongue against mine.
He lifts his mouth away from mine and I pull my head back so that I can see him, he's all dilated eyes and swollen mouth. I feel my cock push against his at the look on his face and I lower my mouth to his throat. Ben shivers as I flick my tongue over his Adam's apple and down to the hollow that is normally covered by his uniform.
His hands are under my T-shirt, trailing lightly over my tense stomach muscles and up over my ribs. I hold my breath but his touch is just firm enough not to tickle and light enough to send sparks rushing up and down my spine.
"This off now." I pull at the hem of his sweater, suddenly greedy for more skin, more Fraser. My voice is raw but I am still sorta making sense.
He chuckles and steps back to obey. "And you, Ray, fair's fair."
I shrug out of my T-shirt and I have to groan when I see the T-shirt he is wearing as he pulls the sweater over his head.
"This too?" He is grinning at me and I bite back a laugh and nod.
"And the jeans please, Ben?"
The pressure of my jeans is way too much against the swollen heat of my cock and I need more than this, I want him naked on my bed and I can't wait much longer. I am already unbuttoning my own jeans when his hand holds mine still. My hips lift into the too light pressure of our hands and he draws in a deep breath, his hand tight over mine. I slide my hand inside my open fly and stroke lightly. His hand follows mine, and he is watching intently. I slip my hand from under his and he is gripping me. Long, sliding strokes, fingers sliding over the wet crown of my cock. So good, my hips are lifting into the rhythm of his hand and I never want him to stop touching me. One stroking finger finds the scar and his eyebrows lift, as he looks up at me.
"All guys my age had it done, Ben."
"Ah, not something that made it over the border, Ray."
"So yer not?"
He shakes his head, the flush deepening in his cheeks.
"Show me. Yer wearing way too many clothes, Ben." I lean forward and kiss him, tangling my tongue with his, stroking over his teeth. "I want you, Ben, in my bed, fucking me."
He stiffens and his hand stops moving over me. I pull back and look at him. Aw shit, what if I have.
No he is just looking at me, eyes wide and startled.
"You'd trust me to do that?" His hand is moving again but his eyes are intent on my face.
"With my life, with anything. Now will ya get your clothes off?"
I run my hand over his shoulder and squeeze lightly. I pull away sighing as the sure grip of his hand leaves me. I skim the rest of my clothes off and wait. Fraser looks me over and I am shaking. I raise an eyebrow, lifting my chin, trying not to show quite how much it bothers me to be naked while he is still dressed.
He nods, licks his lips and undresses, leaving his clothes where they fall. I have to smile at this unFraserlike behavior and then I am in his space walking him back to the bed. Neither of us is risking touching the other. I push him down onto the bed and follow him, landing beside him.
I slide one hand down the curve of his chest, down to his tight stomach. I always knew he had a great body under that uniform but I'd never have guessed he was this beautiful. He looks like those statues that I always avoid in museums and galleries. He is uncut too, the first I have seen like that. I curl my fingers round him, moving the loose slide of skin slowly up and down. He arches up, pushing into my hand and I tighten my grip, loving the shiver and groan I get in response.
Ben pulls at my head, dragging me down to meet the lush heat of his mouth and we are sliding against each other, rolling over the bed. Impossible rush of pleasure and heat. His mouth sharp against my chest and his tongue slick and light over my tattoo. My hands are all over him, trying to touch and grasp as much of that smooth pale skin as I can.
He flips me, settling against me, pushing me into the mattress. I push up against his warmth, loving the feel of his weight against me. My hands slide down the taut muscles of his back, stopping as I reach tight round curve of his ass. I tighten my grip and pull him more firmly against me. I shift my hips slightly and my desperate cock is sliding against the hard heat of his as I push and rock against him. He gasps and then matches my rhythm.
I am losing it. I can't hang on for much longer. I pull his hips sharply against me, stilling the rub and slide of our bodies. He lifts his head from my chest, my nipples suddenly cold now that his hot mouth is no longer tormenting them.
"Ray?" He is flushed, his chest heaving with his struggle to breathe.
"Need you, please."
He swallows his eyes wide and he suddenly looks lost.
"You won't hurt me."
"If you are sure."
"Fuck me, Ben." I can't put it any plainer than that and he smiles, nodding.
I stretch an arm out and fumble in the nightstand, somehow finding what I need without having to look. Ben takes the tube and presses my fingers around the shiny packet. My fingers are almost shaking too hard to open the damn thing but I manage and I slide the latex down over the slick, swollen heat of his erection. He gasps and moves into my grip. I stroke him twice and then again before he puts his hand over mine.
"No more, Ray."
I lean back, planting my feet into the mattress, opening for him. He presses a warm brief kiss against my mouth and then slick fingers are circling me carefully. Slow careful slide of one broad finger inside me pushing the slick gel in deeper, again and again. I move back against it and another finger slides in carefully. I suck in a deep shaky breath and his mouth is over mine, soothing, enticing. He stops moving until I am bearing down, driving back against his fingers. Those knowing, sure fingers move deeper, pushing hard against the smooth bundle of nerves and I jump, hissing out the sharp bright pleasure.
"Now Ben, please."
His fingers slide out and I have no time to miss them because he is pushing slowly and surely into me. He stops as I tense and waits while I work myself back against him. I push back and he is in, he waits again as I adjust. I can feel him shaking and his skin in glistening in the lamplight. I twist against him and there is only the fullness of him inside me and the firm grip of my own hand on my cock. I twist and drive back against his steady, slow thrusts. Our rhythm stutters, almost breaks and speeds up, until I am pulsing and spilling over my hands, my back arching off the bed. Ben thrusts raggedly twice more and shudders out his release, his neck arched back, tendons tight against the slick, flushed skin.
He slumps over me, trying to take his weight on his shaking arms; I reach up and kiss him before twisting him and turning until he is lying alongside me. He sighs, stroking his hand through my hair.
"Worth waiting for, Ray?" His voice is husky but as happy as I ever heard it.
"Damn straight it was. The best, Ben, the best."
His hand slides down to the nape of my neck and he is kissing me as greedily as if he hasn't just fucked my brains out.
I break the kiss with a little groan and he smiles.
"Time to get cleaned up, Ben." I swing to my feet with another groan and hold my hand out to him. "Shower time."
He grasps my hand and pulls himself up.
"You know I can't stay tonight, Ray." His eyes are anxious now.
"I know, but it's early yet." I stroke my fingers against his, trying to get rid of that look in his eyes.
"That's very true." He kisses me again and then allows me to lead him to the bathroom.
Ray is not at his desk when Fraser manages to maneuver through the large group of press representatives and into the 27th Precinct the following morning. Detectives Huey and Dewey are not present either and Francesa is "glued" to telephone as Ray would say. Fraser eventually tracks his missing partner to the conference room.
He is sitting at the far end of the conference table, deeply engrossed in a large pile of what seems to be evidence bags. As he watches him Ray stops writing in his notebook and buries his head in his hands. Just as Fraser is about to speak he stands, stretching his back and rotating his shoulders. He glances over to the door and smiles a little wearily.
"Hey Fraser, welcome to the fun house."
"What's going on, Ray? Why are all those journalists and cameras outside? And is there something wrong with Lieutenant Welsh?"
Ray looks as he usually does and Fraser can't shake the faint feeling of surprise that induces even though he knows there is no reason for his partner to look any different from normal. After all he himself looks the same as he does each day. Fraser isn't sure whether he should be comforted or uneasy that the events of the night before are not as plainly visible as the intensity of his memories suggests they should be.
"Do you remember that case I told ya about last night? Well, the media sharks got hold of it and the circus has come to town."
"Ah, I see. Anonymous letters to the councilors at City Hall?"
"That's right. I am just going through this lot looking for anything we may have missed or to see if the perp slipped up with the stuff that arrived yesterday, but nada."
"May I? A fresh pair of eyes may prove invaluable."
Fraser is standing next to Ray now and starts looking over what has resolved itself into several piles of evidence.
"Knock yourself out; some of it is pretty nasty stuff though. Wanna coffee, I need some?"
"I would prefer some milk if that's at all possible."
"Sure. Be back in a few."
When Ray returns with the drinks Fraser has removed his jacket and is sifting through the piles of letters, pictures, and other items of evidence the Chicago P.D. have managed to collect so far.
Ray sips his coffee, pacing up and down the room as he fills him on the basic background.
"So you have very little forensic information? And there is no discernible pattern? Hmm."
"Nothing of any use. It could be any one who has been pissed off by City Hall recently, and believe me, there are any number of suspects. There is no peg to hang anything on. This is all so personal and petty somehow. My only hunch is that it's not anything to do with council business."
"A disgruntled ex-employee you mean?"
"Exactly, or a current one."
"It could be the perp who leaked all this to the press, and I am pretty sure the leak came outta City Hall."
"It's a reasonable supposition."
"Another thought to chase, anyway."
Ray stops pacing and comes to sit next to Fraser. He finishes his coffee and sighs.
"Best get back to it. I was gonna start going over the stuff from yesterday in depth to see if there is anything new or different there. Huey and Dewey are out interviewing the families and the delivery people, to see if we can catch anything that way."
He quickly divides the new evidence between Fraser and himself.
"You okay with this Fraze, do you have anything else ya need to be doing?"
"No Ray, I am quite free to render you any assistance you require for the rest of the day."
"Good cos I wouldn't want ya getting any grief from the Ice Queen. Well any more than usual."
Ray's quick grin flashes across his face and disappears as he looks back at the large pile of evidence that represents his share.
Fraser picks up the first evidence bag on his pile, a postcard. He turns it over and notices that it looks very familiar. He looks more closely at the handwritten or hand printed side and he can't prevent a gasp of shock escaping.
His partner raises his head at the noise, his brow creasing.
"What is it?"
Fraser can't look at him and cannot find any words to tell him what he has just discovered, so he just traces a finger along the seal on the evidence bag.
"Talk to me Fraze, what's going on?"
Still nothing, no words that would make sense, that would take this beyond the personal and return it to its proper place in the investigation.
Ray's hand is on his right shoulder now, his lean body warm and solid next to Fraser. He is glad of it. It feels like Ray's hand is the only thing anchoring him to the chair. There are still no words in his head, nothing he can say.
"C'mon Fraze, talk to me. Yer scaring the life outta me." Ray's long fingers squeeze his shoulder and finally he can move, lifting his head to look up at the furrowed face of his partner.
"Sorry, Ray, it's just that." He can talk at last but there are still no words, nothing he could offer as an appropriate explanation.
"Just what? This is getting real old real fast; just spit it out willya?"
The fingers are tight against his shoulder now and Fraser knows the only thing he can do is tell the truth, say it as it is and trust that Ray will listen and not give into his temper first.
"I think I received some messages from this same person." His voice is very quiet but Ray hears him. Fraser feels his body stiffen and his fingers release as his partner deciphers his words.
"What, you got poison pen letters and you didn't tell me?"
Ray sits down and his hand slides down from Fraser's shoulder and just rests on his forearm. The hurt is obvious in his roughened voice, Fraser doesn't have to look at him.
"No. At least, they aren't anything like these." His knuckle digs into his eyebrow, hard enough that it hurts and somehow the pain helps.
"Fraser, yer making me crazy, just tell me what the fuck yer talking about?"
"Do you remember that postcard I received just after our first case together?"
"Yeah, the one you used a lighter on to reveal a hidden message or something. What does that have to do with this?"
"Well, I received a postcard in the mail while you were in Mexico, and another one this morning. I thought they were from the same source as that first one but it appears I was wrong about that."
Ray knows what Fraser means as soon as the words leave his mouth. His breathing stutters slightly, his mouth twists and his eyes narrow. He says nothing though, his reply is just focused on the investigation. Fraser feels the tension in his shoulders release slightly.
"While I was in Mexico? He broke his pattern, but why would he send a postcard to you? Ya don't have any friends in City Hall do ya?"
"No, I don't. Have you checked your mailbox recently?"
"Well, not here for ages and not at home since before I went to Mexico. Are you sure it is the same person?"
Ray is gone now, he has returned to pacing up and down the conference room. His back is to Fraser and he is abruptly glad he can't see his partner's face; it is easier to continue his explanation when he doesn't have to look at those narrowed eyes.
"Yes, I received this same postcard this morning, though the wording was much more friendly and polite."
"Fraze, are you sure? Just because it is the same card doesn't mean it is the same person."
Ray's voice is very sharp, almost angry but he looks startled as the words leave his mouth and so Fraser doesn't reply immediately, he waits until his first instinctive irritation has subsided and then speaks.
"That's very true, but what I meant is that the card I received this morning was written by someone using the same ink as the person who wrote this. Someone who uses a rather flamboyant descender on a capital G wrote both the card I received and this one. I am not a handwriting expert, but I am pretty certain that whoever wrote this card also wrote the two I received recently."
"Okay, okay. We'll get your cards compared against this one. I still don't understand why whoever is behind this is also targeting you."
Ray's voice is puzzled and that self-deprecating half-smile that Fraser finds half- irritating and half-charming is twisting his mouth.
"I suspect that you will also have a missive in your mail box."
"It is definitely someone at City Hall, then."
"It rather looks that way."
"Let me check my box here and then we'll swing by the Consulate and my apartment."
"What ya got for me, Vecchio?"
Lieutenant Welsh looks weary and his shirt is rumpled.
"Well, the interviews with the families and delivery guys were a bust, nothing useful at all. But, the perp's been in touch with both Fraser and myself. Postcards to both of us, one last week and one this."
"Why didn't I hear about this before, Detective?"
"I don't check my mail that regularly and Fraser only got on board this morning." Ray's voice trails off and he is shifting his weight from one foot to the other.
"I see. So where does that leave us?"
"I believe it supports Ray's theory that someone at City Hall is behind these crimes."
"Quite, Constable. So apart from the fact he has broken his pattern to taunt you two, we have nothing new."
"Just get me something soon, Vecchio. I know you are busting your chops on this one but I have a nasty feeling that this is going to blow up in our faces if we don't close it."
Ray heads back to his desk at something less than his usual speed. His shoulders are slumped and Fraser is somewhat surprised at the brightness of his smile as he looks back towards him, a smile that doesn't quite reach the flat pale eyes.
"I'm gonna put in a couple of hours before I call it a night. You don't have to wait."
"I want to, Ray. Shall I get you some coffee?"
"That'd be good, Fraze."
Ray is deep in the files, catching up with the details of the interviews Detectives Huey and Dewey conducted earlier today when Fraser returns with the coffee.
He sips the coffee, makes a face and adds some M&Ms from the stash he keeps in his desk.
"I just can't get a handle on this one, Fraser. This guy is good, he hasn't slipped up at all yet."
"But he will, everyone makes mistakes and he seems to be getting very confident."
He leans back in his chair, propping his feet on the few free inches that remain on his desk.
"Sending us those cards was very cocky. He'll slip and when he does, bang. I just hope it is sooner rather than later or Welsh is gonna bust something."
He hands me the reports he has finished with. "Let me know if you spot anything."
And with that, his feet are on the floor and his attention is back on the piles of paper that this case has generated so far. It is very quiet in the Squad Room; all Fraser can hear are the cleaners in the interview rooms and the scratch of Ray's pencil as he makes notes. Fraser opens the reports and follows his example, oddly content; sometimes he finds the constant pace and noise of the Squad Room far too much, far too over stimulating. How Ray can concentrate amongst the chaos he will never know.
It is only an hour later when Ray stacks the papers back into their files and stretches.
"That's it. I'm done, my brain is gonna be toast if I look at that lot much longer. You ready to go?"
"Yes, I think so."
"Do wanna get something to eat? We can drop by the Consulate, you can change, and we can pick up Dief and get some food. How does that sound?"
"It sounds great, Ray. Can we make it takeout?"
"Sure." He smiles that wide almost shy smile and this time his eyes join in.
"That was so good." Ray sprawls back on the couch, and props his feet amongst the ruins of his Chinese meal.
"Mmm." Fraser finishes the last scraps of his food. "Excellent as always. It is fortunate that this particular restaurant is not near the Consulate or I would be getting as soft as Diefenbaker."
A protesting growl filters over from the corner of the room.
"Poor Dief." Ray chuckles. "Can I ask you something, Fraze?"
"You might regret that." His voice is oddly strained despite the teasing and Fraser turns his head so that he can see his partner's face.
Ray is chewing his bottom lip, one hand rubbing at his neck.
"What is it?" Fraser has the odd sensation that he is about to walk over the edge of a cliff but that there is no way back.
"Why didn't you tell me about the postcards, when you thought they were from Vecchio, I mean?"
Fraser was right about the cliff and he can feel the ground falling away beneath his feet.
"I don't know."
Ray is up and pacing to and fro; his movements are uncoordinated, lacking their usual easy grace. The fine hairs on the back of Fraser's neck are standing on end and Dief is growling quietly in the corner. Fraser concentrates on the flow of air in through his nose and out through his mouth, hoping that will calm the churning in his stomach.
"I don't buy that Fraze, not from you." Ray's voice is shaking and he has stopped pacing. He slides his long hands down either side of his nose, one thin finger rubbing at the arch of his brow as it joins his nose.
Then he is moving again, crouching next to Fraser, one hand on his arm. "Just tell me, Fraze."
"It doesn't make any difference to us." Fraser's stomach has stopped churning but the hard full sensation that has replaced it is much worse.
"So why didn't you tell me if doesn't make any difference?"
Fraser can feel the rocks at the bottom of the cliff rushing towards him with frightening speed.
"I didn't tell you because the postcards made me angry."
"Angry? With me for not being Vecchio?" Ray's voice is puzzled and wary.
Fraser closes his eyes; the rocks are just metres away now.
"No, never that. I don't want you to be Vecchio, except in your work because you have to do that. I am not in love with him. I don't know what I can say to convince you of that."
"Explain this to me, Fraze. If yer not in love with him and yer not angry with me why didn't ya tell me about the postcards?"
There is only bewilderment in his partner's voice, bewilderment and hurt. Hurt that Fraser can feel coppery and cold at the back of his throat. He never wants to hurt this man and it is something he can't seem to stop himself from doing. Ray is not looking at him, not touching him anymore. He is standing, staring at his CD collection, both arms wrapped tightly around his chest, his long fingers cupped around his shoulders. Fraser swallows, but the cold coppery lump in his throat is still there. He hits the rocks and strangely it doesn't hurt anywhere as much as he thought it would.
"I was angry with Ray Vecchio, for not contacting me." Fraser stops for a moment, as his voice seems to be shaking the words into random sounds. A few deep breaths and he can try again. "I have been for months, and then he seemingly drops back into my life when I have started to let go of that, when I am finally getting what I wanted for so long."
He has to stop again. Ray has turned to face him, a sharp look of self-disgust darkening his eyes. Fraser hates that look on his partner's face, hates the fact that he put it there again. He closes his eyes so that he can finish what he has to say but it doesn't help at all.
"I was so ashamed of that anger that I didn't want to think about or talk about it. It had nothing to do with us, you have to believe that Ray."
"I'm such a self-centred little shit, Stella was right about that, right about me." Ray's voice is so low that Fraser almost doesn't hear him.
"Don't say that, don't ever say that." He grabs his partner's broad shoulders and shakes him gently.
"I'm sorry, Ben. I suck at this stuff. I should just keep my mouth shut." Ray is shaking his head, his brow furrowed.
"Ray, I am the one who should apologise. You would think I would have learnt by now that secrets cause trouble." Fraser squeezes Ray's shoulders lightly.
"Jesus, listen to us. What a pair." A faint chuckle that might almost be amusement but it isn't.
Fraser leans forward and presses his mouth against Ray's. "I think we make a pretty good pair."
"Me too, Ben, me too."
Fraser shivers as Ray trails his mouth along his jaw, the vibration of his words buzzing against the sensitised skin. Then Ray's mouth closes over his and he can't think anymore