The doors of the Bullpen slammed shut behind him, but Ray was in no mood to care. He ignored the annoyed looks thrown in his direction and glared at his companion instead.
"I swear, Frasier, it's the last time I take you to a movie."
Walking calmly at his side, the Mountie looked at him in surprise. "I don't see why, Ray."
"You don't..." Ray took a deep breath. "How many years have you known me?" He saw his friend open his mouth to reply and carried on before he got the chance. "And now I take you to one movie, and you ask me something like that!"
"Well, Ray, considering the movie in question..." Ben raised his eyebrows.
"I didn't know what it was about! I like Tom Selleck, all right? I can't believe he did that."
"All right, Ray."
The Mountie was obviously unconvinced, but something warned Ray to just drop it.
"...but that wasn't why I asked, Ray. I've always..."
Ray came to an abrupt halt, did a one-eighty degree turn and headed back the way they'd come. After a moment the Mountie fell into step alongside him.
"Don't say another word, Frasier." The words were hissed between clenched teeth.
They made it out of the Bullpen in total silence and turned down the hallway. It was almost deserted.
"I can't believe you thought I was... you know..."
Ben simply looked at him. "Well, actually, Ray, I've always thought that... well..." His voice dropped as a couple of uniformed cops came towards them.
Ray glared at him. They were almost there now. With a sigh of relief, Ray pulled the door open. "Get in there."
It was dark of course, but that only made it easier. "What the hell do you mean asking me if I'm gay? I'm not gay!"
"Well, Ray..." A pale hand swept around in the dimness, indicating their confined space.
"Frasier, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, you know what I mean?"
Ben's conciliatory nodding changed to a puzzled shake of his head. "No, Ray."
Ray sighed. "Sometimes a closet is just a closet."
"Oh! Very clever Ray." Ben giggled discreetly. "I have to admit that your propensity for closets did seem to be a sign..."
"Well, it wasn't."
"...which along with other, more revealing, indicators..."
Ray grabbed Ben by the lapels of his brown uniform and shook him. "What other indicators?"
"Ah, Ray, if you wouldn't mind..."
Ray released the jacket and Ben smoothed the lapels back into place.
"Well, firstly, I couldn't help noticing, when we met, that you seemed very clothes conscious..." He held up a hand. "Please allow me to finish, Ray... and that you were very devoted to your mother."
"Nothing wrong with that."
"Of course not Ray, it's most admirable. Then, when we were helping Lenny... well that address book of yours was completely out of date."
"I was taking a break, all right? Besides I was married, I got out of touch."
Ben favoured him with a superior looking smile. "How long have you been divorced Ray?"
"Nine years." Ray stared at the Mountie sulkily. "I've had girlfriends."
"Yes, Ray. Surprisingly unsuitable girlfriends, I would say. Like Suzanne Chapin."
"Hey, there was nothing wrong with her, she was a Federal Agent!"
Ben shook his head sorrowfully. "But at the time we all thought she was a criminal."
"I got good instincts. And there was Louise. She was never even close to the wrong side of the law." Argue that one away, Mountie.
"No, she most certainly was not. I even recall her sending you to prison." Ben was looking decidedly smug now.
"Yeah, well you're a fine one to talk about dating criminals." He regretted that, the moment he saw the hurt look on Benny's face.
"She was the only woman I'd ever loved, Ray."
Ray hung his head. "I know. I'm sorry, Benny."
A hand tilted his chin up. "The only woman I'd ever loved."
"Oh... you mean..."
Ben leaned forward. 'Yes, Ray."
Ray closed his eyes. He could feel the warmth of Ben's breath on his cheek and smell the popcorn he'd eaten. "Then why..." His voice came out too high and rather strangled. He swallowed. "Why didn't you say something before? If you thought I was gay."
"Well, Ray, I thought you weren't interested. After all, I did drop a few hints..."
Ray blinked in bewilderment. "You did?"
"Yes, Ray." Ben leaned even closer.
If he'd ever wondered what it was like to be kissed by a man... and he hadn't, he told himself firmly... it wouldn't have been like this. Not this hot invasion of his mouth, or the large solid body pinning him to the wall. How could he ever have imagined something like that?
Oh. Ray mentally shook himself and discovered his eyes were closed. He opened them. It wasn't so dark he couldn't see the twinkle in the blue-grey eyes so close to his own. He grabbed the Mountie's lapels again and dragged him closer.
This time the kiss left him rubbery-kneed and breathless. Ben kindly supported him by pressing his hips firmly against Ray's, pinning him to the wall. Ray gulped.
"So, you want..."
Ben smiled. "Very much so, Ray."
It was time for decisive action. Ray pushed his friend away and slid out from between him and the wall. It put him pretty close to the other wall, but that couldn't be helped. He opened the door and stumbled out into the hallway. Ben followed and they both turned automatically in the direction of the Bullpen.
Three paces down the hallway they both stopped, turned and headed in the opposite direction. Ray stopped again. A pace ahead of him Ben half-turned and looked at him enquiringly.
"I'll just get my coat. Meet you in the Riv, OK?"
"All right, Ray. Five minutes?"
Ray grinned. "Less." He strode off down the hallway, whistling.