Rated R for m/m premise and sex (eventually, trust me). The story also contains angst and hurt/comfort.
This one is set after "Juliet is Bleeding". I know it bears a slight resemblance to a couple of other stories set after that episode, but hopefully it's different enough that it covers new ground. Let me know.
Disclaimer: I didn't create these characters, I'm just playing with them. They'll be fine when I'm finished with them. I won't make any profit from this story, and suing me would be useless due to the terrible exchange rate.
This story is for Elaine (fellow slash writer, not the character on the show). Well, she nagged me! Happy now, Elaine? :)
"You know, the first time I ever asked her to dance was in P.E. class. She kept trying to lead..."
Fraser just sat next to Ray, listening to his voice. His best friend, Ray was his best friend, and Fraser was here for him now because he knew Ray needed him to be. But a part of him just wanted to get up, walk away, and not look back. He felt something uncommon building up inside him, now that it was all over. He wasn't sure if it was hurt, or anger, or another emotion he couldn't identify, but it was getting stronger with each passing moment. Fraser hated to feel these things; he usually forced himself not to feel them, and most of the time it was easy. He knew he was an eternal optimist, Ray had told him that more than once. But tonight that optimism seemed to be fading fast.
He noticed, suddenly, that Ray had stopped talking, and was looking at him. "Benny?"
"I..." Ray stopped, not sure of what he wanted to say. He could see the hurt look on Fraser's face, the terrible betrayal he felt. Ray tried again. "Benny..."
And Fraser stood up. "It's late. Dief is waiting for me. I should go."
Ray knew that if Fraser left now, something between them would be damaged... but he didn't have the words to stop him. He just nodded in silence, and Fraser walked down the hospital corridor, away from him.
Tears fell from Ray's eyes, and he wasn't sure right now if it was Irene he was crying over, or Benny. Benny was his only anchor here, the only person who had seen his soul and still stayed. Now Benny had walked away... and the wrench he felt inside was as bad as it had been when he'd seen Irene on the landing of Frank Zuko's house, blood all over her white shirt.
Irene hadn't been his fault, he knew that. It was just an accident, something perpetrated by the chain of events that had begun when they'd walked into that damn restaurant. He couldn't even feel any anger towards Frank anymore, it had all drained away with Irene's life. He couldn't even hate Frank, or want to put him behind bars. He didn't care. He knew he'd never speak to Frank again, not by choice.
But Benny... Benny *was* his fault. He'd been so full of hate and vengeance that he'd done this, made this rift between them. And Benny had stood by him, tried to explain things, right up till now. Benny had been here for him. Never mind that Ray had treated him badly, Benny had been here because he'd known Ray needed someone in this critical time. And now he was gone, and Ray wasn't sure he'd ever see Benny again.
The next morning, Fraser wondered if Ray would be there waiting with the Riv like he usually was. He wanted Ray to be there, and at the same time he fervently hoped he wasn't. He looked out of the window, and the car wasn't there. Fraser knew that it was earlier than usual, but that was because he needed ten extra minutes to walk to work comfortably. And if Ray wasn't going to be downstairs, he'd better get going so that the Inspector wouldn't yell at him for being late. "Let's go," he said to Dief, and they went out of the building together.
But, when he turned to walk to work, he saw Dief just sitting there on the sidewalk. And the wolf looked at him and whined a question.
"I don't know if he's coming today. So we're walking."
"Well, yes, I am angry with him, but I'm not leaving early to punish him. No, I'm not. So let's go."
"I don't care if that's what you think, I'm not trying to punish him."
"All right, you stay here and wait. But don't blame me if he doesn't come." And with that, Fraser turned and headed in the direction of the Consulate.
Diefenbaker sat still for a minute, and then trotted after him. These humans and their bizarre behaviour!
Ray pulled up outside Fraser's apartment, noting that the Mountie wasn't waiting for him, as usual. And why should he have expected him to? After the way he'd treated Fraser, he wasn't surprised that Benny wasn't here waiting. But... something told Ray that he had to find Benny, that he had to give him the usual lift to work. If he didn't... things might be irreparable. So he drove along the route that he knew Benny took when he walked. And, sure enough, halfway to the Consulate, there was the Mountie and the wolf.
Ray slowed the car. "Hey, Benny, why didn't you wait for me?"
Fraser stopped walking, looking as if he was trying to make a decision. Then he did make it. He walked around to the passenger door, opened it, let Dief in, and got in himself. "I wasn't sure if you'd pick me up today, Ray. Not after last night." And that wasn't the whole truth. He *had* wanted to make Ray worry, to make Ray question why he wasn't there. But he couldn't say that to Ray.
"Benny, I didn't say I wouldn't pick you up. I always tell you if I can't."
"There is that," conceded Fraser.
They spoke a little more on the way to work, but both of them felt a strange tension in the air, as if there was something between them, a wall of some sort that prevented honest communication. Neither of them mentioned Irene, Frank Zuko, Louis, or the case. To mention any of those things would bring up things that neither of them, apparently, wanted to deal with.
When he pulled up outside the Consulate, Ray asked, as usual, "You want a lift home tonight, Benny?"
"Yes, thank you, Ray," Fraser replied as he got out of the car.
"Okay, seeya later."
Ray drove off, and Fraser stared after him, feeling something akin to an uncommon rage. He wanted to grab Ray by the arms and yell at him. 'Why didn't you trust me?' he wanted to yell. 'Why did you make me do everything alone? Why weren't you there when I needed you to be? Why didn't you back me up? Why Irene and not me?' Huh. Wait. That one had come out of nowhere. And what the hell did it mean? Then he rationalized it. 'Why did you turn to Irene for comfort, and not me? Did you think I wasn't hurting when Louis died?' Yes, that was it. Ray had had Irene to turn to, but who had Benton Fraser had? No one. And, damn Ray Vecchio, Fraser had *needed* that comfort, too! Ray wasn't the only one who hurt, or the only one who needed someone to be there for him. But, of course, everyone knew that Ben Fraser was the original Mister Spock, he didn't feel things the same way that other people did, he never needed anyone. All he needed was a wolf.
Fraser was on guard duty that day, but it took every ounce of control he had to still the tremors that were running through his body.
After his shift, the Riv was there, waiting for him. And Fraser knew that if he got in, he might do something that he'd regret. He couldn't show this anger to Ray, this terrible rage that wanted to come out and hurt Ray the way he, Fraser, was hurting. No. So he did what he'd never thought he'd do. He lied. "Ray, the Inspector has asked if I'll stay a little while after work to finish up a few things. Constable Turnbull is ill..." He trailed off, feeling sick at lying. But better to lie than to show this dark side of himself.
And Ray was trying his best to be conciliatory. "I can wait, Benny."
"No, don't wait. I'm not sure how long it'll take." And he turned and went into the Consulate without saying goodbye.
Ray was stunned. Fraser, not saying goodbye? Having to stay late and refusing a lift? Something told him that his friend had lied when he'd said he had to stay late, that Benny just didn't want to be in his company right now. So he did something very uncommon. He parked the Riv around the block, and put his head around the corner, waiting.
After five minutes, Fraser came out of the building. He looked around (causing Ray to pull back) and then set off for home, Dief at his heels.
Ray got into the Riv and sat there, almost hyperventilating. Benny *had* lied! Benny really didn't want to talk to him. Why? But it wasn't that difficult to figure out why, not after the way that he had been towards Benny during this case. He had treated Benny as an outsider, something he'd promised himself he'd never do. He had put other people and other concerns above loyalty to his best friend. Love... yes, he loved Irene, but that love wasn't what had made him ignore Benny. No, he couldn't even use the age-old excuse of a love interest breaking up a friendship. That wasn't what it was, at all. All he'd wanted was to get Franko Zuko, and he'd even been willing to walk right over Fraser to do it. To just trample on the only person who... What? The only person who'd stood by him, maybe the only person outside his family who loved him unconditionally.
Now where had that come from? Oh, he knew Benny loved him, his actions proved it over and over again. And he'd thought he loved Benny the same way, that it was the type of love you only found with your best friend, something that could withstand any amount of stress. But it looked like it hadn't been able to withstand another encounter with Frank Zuko.
The irony cut deep into Ray. He no longer cared what Frankie did. Frankie could run as many rackets as he liked, Ray wouldn't care. But *this* was what he'd damaged his friendship with Benny for? For someone who didn't deserve it? Irene had been right. Even if it hadn't been for her, he and Frankie would still have been trying to get the best of one another. No more. And no more would Fraser have to suffer for Ray's own personal vendettas.
He had to talk to Benny. No matter what, he couldn't let another day go by with this thing unresolved between them. He drove off in the direction of Fraser's apartment.
Ray knocked on the door and waited to be let in. Fraser opened the door sans tunic but still wearing the rest of his uniform. "Benny, I gotta talk to you."
Fraser didn't want to let Ray in. He wasn't ready to have this conversation, the feelings were still too close to the surface. He didn't know what he'd say or do if forced to talk about it. "Ray, I don't think this is a good idea, not now."
He saw how desperately Ray needed this, so he stepped aside. Ray walked in, babbling, "I'm sorry, Benny. I'm sorry, okay? I know... I know I wasn't very nice to you." He couldn't bring himself to speak those other words, "I know I hurt you." Men didn't talk like that, not in his experience. But maybe he'd have to change his ideas if he was going to have an honest conversation with Benton Fraser.
He was hardly in the room when Fraser rounded on him. "Why, Ray?" The question was asked in a voice filled with a repressed anger that Ray had never heard before, as Fraser began to go through the list he'd compiled in his head earlier. "Why didn't you trust me? Do you know how much it hurt when you wouldn't listen to me?"
Ray opened his mouth to speak, but Fraser couldn't stop the questions. "Why didn't you back me up? Why did I have to do it all alone? I needed you to be there, Ray, and you weren't. Do you have any idea what that felt like?" He paused for breath, and Ray tried again.
"And after Louis died? Did you think I didn't feel anything? He was my friend, too, Ray. Did you even know that? Did you not think I would need someone, then? Why her, Ray? Why Irene and not me?"
That question hit Ray like a blow. "What?" And Fraser realised he'd asked it the same way he had before, in his own mind. Not, "Why did you go to her for comfort, why not me?" No, he'd asked it in the wrong way. Again.
"Why did you go to her, Ray? Why not me? Louis was our friend, Irene didn't even know him." And then, unable to stop himself, Fraser felt tears running down his cheeks. "Oh G-d, Ray. Why?"
Ray stood there, shocked to the core. He'd never realised Fraser felt this deeply, or could hurt this much. He didn't even think about the move he made next, he just stepped forward and enfolded the Mountie in his arms. "Benny, I'm sorry, I'm so sorry." He repeated it, over and over, Benny's head resting on his shoulder the way Irene's had that first time when he'd asked her to dance.
Fraser didn't move his head, he just asked, quietly, "I still need to know, Ray... Why?"
"Zuko, Benny. I... Irene was right about us. We've been going at each other since we were kids. And you were right, he was all I could see, right from the beginning. But... I did love Irene, y'know."
"I know," whispered Fraser.
"But... even if it hadn't been for her, Frankie and I would have gotten into this. The hate I felt was just so strong, I... I couldn't see past it. I couldn't see what I was doing to Irene, or you. I should have known you'd only do the right thing. And I have to apologise for something else, Benny. For treating you like an outsider."
Fraser lifted his head, but didn't pull away. "I am an outsider, Ray." It was a fact, the way Fraser said it - same as if he'd said, "The sky is blue."
But Ray looked into those eyes and challenged him. "No, Benny, you're not. Not to me." He lifted his hand, to... what? But then it rested on Benny's cheek, as if to reassure him. "Never to me."
And then Fraser's hand came up and rested over Ray's. "That's all I want, Ray."
The moment seemed to go on forever, as they stood there together, half holding each other, Ray touching Benny's cheek, and Benny... letting him.
Finally, though, Ray seemed to realise what they were doing, and he tried to pull his hand away. But Fraser's hand didn't move; Fraser's hand held him immobile. "Benny..."
Fraser knew now that his original question had been the true one, his original hurt hadn't been over the way Ray had treated him... No, it was all tied into the one question he'd never meant to ask. And now he did ask. He couldn't stop the words from tumbling out, and he didn't want to. He had to know. "Why her, Ray? Why her and not me?" He knew there was love and longing in his voice, and he didn't care.
And all Ray could say was, "I don't know, Benny."
"And now?" A question, very soft, and yet somehow, desperate.
All Ray could do was repeat himself. "I don't know, Benny."
"Do you want it, Ray?" Fraser asked, knowing that no one could mistake what he was asking about, not anymore. Fraser removed his hand from Ray's and touched Ray's cheek instead, moving his fingers over Ray's lips, needing this, wanting for the answer to be yes.
Ray just stared at him, the connection between them flaring as white-hot as if they were standing in a fire. He could say no and leave, he knew he could, but when he tried to nothing came out. And he suddenly had to have Benny, he had to. The tension that had been between them since yesterday transmuted into something else, something quite different, something raw and primal, and there was no going back now.
Ray whispered, almost too softly for Fraser to hear, "Yes."
They were kissing, next, so desperately and wantonly that it scared both of them, but then the fear was superseded by desire and pure lust, and they were tearing each other's clothes off, one garment at a time, until it became impossible to kiss and remove clothing at the same time. Even then, they didn't part, just walked blindly backwards until they found the bed and sat on it, able now to remove the rest without leaving the heat of the other's mouth.
And then they were naked and lying together on the bed, touching each other with a need that neither had felt before, somehow unable to tear their mouths away from each other. Ray reached down, blindly, taking Benny's erection in his hand, feeling Benny doing the same for him. They stroked and squeezed in time with one another, every sound they made swallowed up between them, moving more quickly, closer to the release they both needed.
And perhaps not so strangely, considering how in sync they had been since this started, they climaxed at almost exactly the same time, somehow spilling both seed and love over each other.
It was only then that they managed to part, but as they looked into each other's eyes, neither could say anything. What was there to say, anyway? Nothing. They just put their arms around each other and fell asleep, exhausted.
Fraser was the first to wake up the next day. He opened one eye, just to check that it really was Ray he was in bed with. It was, so he opened the other eye. Unbelievably, he really was in bed with Ray Vecchio!
Fraser knew what grief could do to people. He knew that people who had suffered a loss often used any excuse they could to get close to someone, to affirm life. He just hoped that in the light of day, Ray wouldn't decide this had been a mistake.
This was how it was meant to be, Benny thought. They were meant to be together like this, their arms around one another, loving each other. And the loving had been so quick and desperate... but oh so fulfilling. How he had needed last night. He hadn't realised before just how badly he'd needed Ray, how badly Ray's behaviour had hurt him. But their loving last night had soothed all the hurt, and broken down that wall that had formed between them. Because he loved Ray, and he knew that it was as more than a friend. He loved Ray more than he'd ever loved anyone. And he wanted him. Oh, how he wanted him...
Ray Vecchio started to wake up, feeling someone's arms around him. Angie? No, Angie was long gone, and so was every other woman he'd tried to have this close a relationship with. They all left him or betrayed him, or... But with whoever this was, Ray felt safe. He didn't feel the usual 'morningafter' awkwardness, either. He was content to just lie there and experience those strong arms...
Ray opened his eyes. Strong arms - Benny's arms! He was in Benny's bed, or, to be more accurate, he was in bed with Benny. And now Benny's eyes were looking into his with a mixture of hope and apprehension.
Ray smiled. "Hey, Benny."
"Good morning, Ray." He leaned down, and Ray accepted the good morning kiss completely, allowing Fraser in. There truly was no awkwardness, just comfortable companionship and love. And when the kiss ended Fraser asked, quietly and in a serious tone, "Can we talk?"
"I know why, now, Ray. But I can't tell you it didn't hurt..."
Ray cut him off. "I know I hurt you, Benny, and I'm sorry. I promise you, that'll never happen again." He looked right into those blue eyes, into Benny's soul. "I love you." He enjoyed the look of pure pleasure and disbelief that flashed across Benny's beautiful face. Then a single tear dropped onto Ray's neck.
"I... I... I never thought I'd hear you say that, Ray."
Ray sat up slightly, pulling Benny with him. "It's true. It may not be what I thought my life would end up being like, but I do love you."
"And I love you, Ray."
Ray smiled. "I know, Benny. You think I wouldn't know? Everything you've done for me... you show me that every day." He reached up to touch Fraser's cheek. "But thank you for telling me. I needed to hear it." Funny how it was easy to talk about feelings with Benny. Benny made it so easy.
"What are we going to do now, Ray?" A serious tone again.
He wanted to tell Benny he'd move in, they could make love again, they could learn other ways of making love to one another... But he couldn't. Ray knew that to just leap into a relationship based on a day and night of pain would not be a good idea. He took a deep breath. "Benny, I'd be lying if I said that I don't want you, that the idea of being here with you every night doesn't appeal to me. It does. But... I think we both know that we need to take this slow. We need to give it a lot of time. And even though I know that what I feel for you will never change, we have to step back. Let's give it... say, a couple of months. To make sure that what we're feeling is right, that we want it as much then as we do now."
Fraser wanted to say no, he wanted to wrestle Ray back down and make love to him in a more leisurely fashion, he wanted to make Ray cry out with pleasure and beg him never to stop... But he also heard the common sense in Ray's voice. Ray was right. While jumping in with both feet was appealing, it was also foolhardy. They had to be sensible, to test the waters, so to speak. So Fraser nodded. "I understand, and you're right, of course." He paused, wondering if he'd be able to restrain himself from touching Ray for the foreseeable future. "You will let me know when you're ready? When you decide?"
"I've decided, Benny. I promise you, that won't change. We just need to evaluate everything else."
"I know." Fraser paused. Would Ray leave, now? He knew things would go back to what they'd been before: the wall was gone, and they loved each other. But right now, right that moment, Fraser wanted nothing more than to touch Ray, and be touched, one last time. And when he looked into those beautiful hazel eyes, he saw his thoughts echoed.
"Hey, Benny, I'll have to go to work soon. How about a rip-roaring sendoff?" He leered at Fraser, and then grinned. "Because I still want you, that won't change either."
"My thoughts exactly, Ray," Fraser said, moving to lie on top of him, to kiss that mouth that he so loved.
Ray got his sendoff, and gave Fraser one he wouldn't forget, either. Things would go back to normal after that for a while because, after all, they were friends first and foremost. But everything that had happened had made them realise they were friends who loved each other. And that's how many stable relationships begin.