Rated R, Drama, M/M
The ceiling really needed painting. And a bit of stucco to patch the peeling bits. And perhaps a few finishing nails to put the molding back up. It was really quite shabby, now that he looked at it.
He sighed. The ceiling was becoming far too familiar. This was the fifteenth night in a row that he had trouble falling asleep. Five nights of restless tossing and turning. Four nights of counting sheep and repeating the multiplication table. Three nights of moving to different parts of the sparse flat. Two nights of warm milk and meditation. And tonight, he hadn't been able to sleep at all.
Lack of sleep was common enough - he was a policer officer, after all. However, no sleep over a fortnight was just a bit much.
With extreme reluctance, he got up and rummaged in the old footlocker for a moment. In a small white envelope were six pills. Small, blue triangular pills. Sleeping pills, given to him the last time he'd been injured - or was it the second last time?
After a very long pause, he popped one of the pills in his mouth, washed it down with a sip of water and went back to bed. For the first time in fifteen days, his eyelids drooped and Benton Fraser fell asleep.
Ray waited in the Riv, his long fingers tapping on the steering wheel. Where the hell was Fraser? He hoped Fraser wasn't sick. He looked like something Dief dragged in off the streets for the past few weeks, but denied vehemently that there was anything wrong. Of course, it was spring and getting quite warm and Fraser never did deal all that well with heat.
After a ten minute wait, Ray got out of the Riv. With a heavy sigh, he took the stairs at a half run. They didn't seem quite so steep that way. When he got to Fraser's door, he was rather proud not to be winded. All that running around with Fraser had given him a lot more stamina.
Without bothering to knock, Ray slipped into the sparse flat.
"Benny? You there? You sick, buddy?"
He walked carefully around, finally getting to the foot of the bed where Fraser lay, fast asleep. His dark hair was ruffled and he looked sweet and innocent, the firm lips relaxed in sleep.
Ray frowned. More roughly than he had intended to, he pulled the white and striped Hudson's Bay blanket of rough wool off the sleeping Mountie. Fraser groaned and stirred slightly, but didn't wake up.
"Hey, Benny." Ray said, leaning forward to tap gently on Fraser's cheek. "Time to get up. You're late for work."
"Mmmm??" Fraser opened one bleary eye.
"You're late for work. You are making me late for work." Ray enunciated very clearly. Fraser blinked several times, trying to clear his sleep fogged brain.
"What's the matter, Benny? You never oversleep."
"I've been having trouble falling asleep." Fraser replied, his voice slightly slurred. "I guess when I finally did fall asleep, I stayed asleep." Deeply ashamed of having resorted to drugs, he didn't mention the aid of the small blue pill.
"Here." Ray handed him his cell phone.
"What's this for, Ray?"
"This is a telephone. You call the Dragon Lady and tell her you're going to be a bit late for work. Then you will hand back the phone, get dressed in your Mountie suit and come downstairs. Then I will drive you to the Consulate and you will go to your office and pour yourself a strong cup of coffee - coffee, Fraser, not that camomile crap you normally drink. By the time you finish the coffee, you should be reasonably awake." Ray instructed with precision. Fraser merely nodded. Ray smiled to himself. Benny must really be out of it, not to recognise his own normal way of talking.
Thatcher set down the phone and sat back, her glasses dangling from her fingers. Fraser was going to be late. Today of all days.
She closed her eyes tightly. It was almost a month since the attack and she still hadn't really been able to get a grip on herself. For the first while, she had been able to shrug it off, concentrate on work. Over the last week, it had been increasingly harder to do that. She found herself shaking and fearful at the oddest times. Her head ached and she really wanted to go home, but she couldn't leave the consulate security in the hands of that idiot Turnbull. Turnbull stood at attention very nicely, but that was about the extent of his professional excellence. She smiled briefly, feeling a bizarre twinge of sympathy for someone who's only definable skill was the ability to stand like a statue for long periods of time.
She began to mentally prepare the speech she had to give Fraser about being tardy, but almost immediately scrapped it. She didn't want to see Fraser. She wanted to avoid him as much as possible. He was still looking at her with sympathy and sympathy was the one thing she could not take.
She pushed her glasses back on her nose and picked up the file again.
Ray drove to the Consulate in his normal manic style. When Fraser did not gasp, clutch the dashboard, look to see if any accidents occured or say "Great Scott", Ray frowned. What was wrong with him? Fraser always disapproved of Ray's driving, even if Ray had passed all the police courses in defensive driving with flying colours. Instead, Fraser was sitting quietly, with his Stetson in his hands, trying manfully not to yawn.
"You really didn't get enough sleep last night, did you?" Ray asked.
"No." Fraser answered, forcing his eyes open.
"Maybe you should give up on the wild orgies and drinking binges for a while, then." Ray said offhandedly.
"Perhaps." Fraser replied absently.
Ray stopped teasing. Benny was too tired to rise to the bait, which took all the fun out of it.
Screeching to a halt in front of the Consulate, Ray got out and opened the door for Fraser. Fraser got out and they ascended the steps together.
"Now, what did I tell you to do?" Ray asked, in the same tone he used with his three year old niece.
"Drink one cup of coffee." Fraser recited obediently.
"Right." Ray picked up two mugs, poured coffee and handed one to Fraser. He liked to filtch coffee from the Canadian Consulate. It was real coffee, not police sludge. The Consulate had a far larger budget for coffee or they used Canadian water or something, but the coffee was remarkably tasty. He watched Fraser drink about half of his, then refilled his own cup, turning to go.
"That is Canadian government property, Detective." Thatcher said sharply, coming in to get her own cup refilled.
"Yeah, I know. Consider it yet another example of American exploitation of Canadian natural resources." Ray said smugly, lifting his cup in mock salute to her. "See you, Benny. I won't be able to pick you up later. I have to finish the Carson mess before I get off today."
"Understood." Fraser replied. The jolt of caffeine, combined with as fresh air as possible in Chicago in spring, had woken him up a little.
Thatcher thinned her lips in exasperation. Just when she was starting to like Vecchio a little tiny bit, he showed exactly why she couldn't stand him. She turned to Fraser, without actually looking at him.
"Constable, I am taking the rest of the day off." She said crisply. "The daily duty roster is on my desk. Please see that it is implimented."
"Yes, Sir." Fraser came to attention with effort.
Thatcher stopped to pick up aspirin and ice cream on the way home. Once inside, she locked the door carefully, changed into jeans and a sweater and wrapped herself in the afghan Ray had left on the end of her bed. Somehow, the afghan made her feel better and not only because of the warmth it provided. In college, her roommate used to crochet the damn things. She had always thought of them as rather tacky, but there was something comforting in the colourful stripes. She ran her fingers along the ribbed edge, her throat closing with tears.
She wished she had someone to talk to. She felt very alone. Dammit, she was alone. Her mother was long gone, divorced from her father when she was ten. Her father was in some godforsaken place, wheeling and dealing for his software company. Her stepmother was with him and her stepsisters were still in school. None of them would understand; all of them assumed that she was well and happy. She wouldn't burden them with this for anything. Only her grandmother would have been there with the sympathy and understanding she craved. But Nana Sinclair was in a home, vague with a stroke and getting vaguer.
Friends? She had no friends. Diana and Sarah had drifted away years ago. She might have called Erica, but Erica was a fellow RCMP officer and she'd never accept not pressing charges.
Tears filled her eyes and spilled over. Why was the only person who seemed to understand the most obnoxious person in all of Chicago? Why was the only person who made her feel safe that loudmouthed cop Fraser hung around with?
Ray worked through the case file with determination. Television lied. Police work was not glamourous. It was paperwork, forms, procedures and followup. The Carson case had been interesting during the investigation, exciting during the set up and arrest, and deadly dull now that the scumbag was booked and waiting trial.
However, his dislike of paperwork was more than overcome by
his fear of whatever Louise would do to him if he didn't get the proper forms filled out and his statement made in the legalese she needed to get a conviction. Louise had shown a great deal of imagination in her last threat to him and his own imagination recoiled at the image she presented. Louise, in her own way, was as much of a ball breaker as the Dragon Lady. Sometimes he wondered why women in positions of authority got to be such bitches. Then again, if he had to deal with the shit they had to deal with, he'd be a touch on the cranky side, too.
He stopped to get a cup of coffee, lamenting the distance to the Canadian consulate's coffee maker, and stretched. Thatcher looked like hell this morning, he thought. He hoped she had someone to talk to, someone to listen.
By the time he finished the statement and typed it up neatly, it was well past eight thirty. He had spent all day in the precinct, interrupted only by a few dozen phone calls. Welsh had made it perfectly clear that he was not to be sidetracked from finishing the report and put the fear of God into his coworkers not to rise to whatever smartass remarks he made.
Only one more duty and he was off until Thursday. Shrugging into his jacket, he picked up the report and left. He'd drop the file in Louise's office and maybe stop to see Benny. Frannie was having one of those lingerie parties, her latest scheme to start her own business, and he really didn't want to deal with sixteen of her giggling friends.
Fraser finished the day with a sense of relief. Nothing of any interest happened all day and he was having trouble keeping focused. The lack of sleep was catching up with him, no matter how hard he tried to hold back the yawning. Of course, no matter how sleepy he was during the day, he knew he would still be tossing and turning all night. Unless he weakened again and took another of those little blue pills.
He walked home, taking a fairly long side trip to allow Dief to run for a while in the small park not far from the flat. He let Dief off the leash and let him run. Of course, Dief used the freedom of movement to beg for food from everybody in the park. Rather than scold the wolf for his bad manners, Fraser leaned against the picnic table, folded his arms and thought.
Why insomnia? He never had insomnia. Well, the time his father died, he had not slept well for a while. And after Victoria, he had trouble resting without pain medication, but he had been shot, after all.
There was nothing going on in his life that would have caused insomnia. Well, except for the revelation that his boss and his best friend had been having an affair. That should not be an issue, even if he did care for both of them.
Thatcher had rejected him and his feelings. She froze him out, made it clear that she was still attracted to him, but would never allow tender feelings on her part to grow into anything at all. If anything, she had been colder to him after the kiss than before.
He thought he had worked through his feelings for her long since. She was beautiful, and strong. Both attributes attracted him, as did his acute awareness that she was, in her own way, as alone and lonely as he was. He also resented her a little. She was attracted to his looks, not to him. Despite the clueless look he had perfected over the years, he was perfectly aware that women found his tall, well built form and sky blue eyes very attractive. He knew he was a good looking man and his helpful honesty only enhanced his appeal. He was also somewhat tired of being chased by women who only saw the looks. Meg had made no effort to find out who he was, what he was. The realisation that she didn't really want to know him killed off his own attraction, leaving a residual liking and sympathy for her. He still appreciated her beauty and, were he capable of having an affair without genuine love, he would have pursued a physical relationship.
If he was over his infatuation with Meg, why did it bother him so much to find out that she had been intimate with Ray?
Ray parked the Riv in front of Fraser's building and locked it out of habit. In this neighbourhood, it wasn't safe to leave any vehicle on the street, but he had special dispensation. He was a friend of the Mountie. He could leave the Riv unlocked with impunity. Nobody would touch his car. It was almost as if Fraser was a Mafia boss, with the respect he got from his poor and lowlife neighbours. The image tickled his sense of humour and he smiled at the two old bums that staked out the doorstep as their personal turf. The two smiled back, geneally toasting him with a wave of the brown bagged bottle of disgusting cheap liquor, and moved to let him by.
"Hey, Benny." Ray bounded into the flat without knocking. Fraser was standing by the stove, wiping the top. Washed dishes
were in the dish drainer. Fraser turned with a smile.
Dief jumped off the bed to say hello. Ray smiled, put the package in his hands on the counter and bent to give Dief a thorough scratch behind the ears and a good rough belly rub.
"You're shedding." He said, disapprovingly, as Dief tried to climb into his non existant lap. "Shed on my clothes and I'll shave you bald. You only want me for the treats I bring."
Dief, being an astute wolf, took the threat seriously and sat properly. Ray got up and went to the sink to wash his hands.
"I know you've already eaten, but I thought you might like some dessert." Ray opened the package he brought, revealing a sinfully rich Black Forest cake and a box of doughnuts.
"Thank you kindly, Ray." Fraser said, in surprised appreciation. He had a sneaking fondness for Black Forest cake, which he knew Ray shared. "What are the doughnuts for?"
"Him." Ray pointed at Dief, who was still sitting politely, although he quivered in eagerness to attack and subdue the box. "I know you don't want him eating all that sugar, but I don't want him eating any of my cake."
Soon, they were sitting at the table, thick wedges of cake in front of them, tea in mugs beside them and an ecstatic wolf under their feet, happily doing his part in rescuing greater Chicago from stale doughnuts.
"How did your day go, Ray?"
"Boring as hell." Ray replied. "Louise threatened to tie my testicles to my ears if I didn't have the report on her desk tonight, so I just kept plugging away until I was done."
"That's anatomically improbable, Ray." Fraser smiled.
"That's what I said. But I believed her when she said she'd try." Ray shuddered. "How'd your day go?"
"It was unbelievably boring." Fraser replied.
"At least the Dragon Lady wasn't on your ass."
"No. She hasn't really been paying much attention to me lately." Fraser looked at Ray sharply. Ray took another bite of cake, then refilled his cup from the teapot.
"I guess she's given up picking on you. After Cooper's little stunt with the glue gun and the silver plaque in the reception rooms, he's taken your place in her doghouse." Ray grinned. "You feeling better?"
"I beg your pardon?"
"C'mon, Benny, you were dead to the world this morning and you've been looking like hell for a week. Having trouble sleeping?"
"Well, yes." Fraser admitted.
"Any particular reason?"
"None that I can think of, Ray."
"It's probably something catching up with you." Ray predicted. "I find that I can sleep fine during a crisis, but when things slow down, I get insomnia."
"What do you do about it?"
"Here." Ray reached into his pocket and pulled out a small bottle.
"Yeah. I don't use 'em much. I haven't needed them for about six months, but I keep 'em in my jacket so the kids can't get at 'em. Doctor Franconi knows I don't abuse them, so he prescribes forty at a time for me." Ray glanced at Fraser's face and sighed. "Benny, I am not some kind of drug fiend. I know what those things can do. A couple of nights sleep and I'm fine. Just enough the break the insomnia, no more."
"I'm just not comfortable using drugs..." Fraser said cautiously.
"Neither am I. But not getting any sleep does increase the chances of getting shot on the job."
"True." Fraser frowned. "However, I would prefer a less, well, chemical way of inducing sleep."
"Well, there are two other alternatives." Ray looked mischievous.
"Massage." Ray ticked off one finger, while Fraser nodded. He touched a second finger. "Sex."
"Works for me." Ray shrugged, with a smile. "How about I give you a backrub?"
"Yeah. Unless you want to try the other method...?" Ray tried to look innocent. Fraser blushed.
"All right." Fraser stammered. "I mean... a backrub would be fine..."
Ray laughed at Fraser's blushes. He knew Fraser would think he was kidding about making a pass. Fraser just didn't get it when it came to sexual innuendo and blushed beet red when he did.
Fraser unselfconsciously stripped to his boxers and lay face down on the hard cot he called a bed. Ray watched him, filing the image away for future enjoyment. He was thankful and a little regretful that he had hid his attraction to Fraser so well. Benny would not have stripped so easily had he even guessed that Ray might be attracted.
Ray was a good masseur. His long, strong fingers found and kneaded gently all the spots that had tension in them. Fraser relaxed as Ray's warm hands travelled all over his back, relaxing muscles that he had not known were tense.
Ray half knelt on the bed, his hands seeking and soothing
tension. He tried to put the love into his hands that he never permitted Fraser to see in his eyes. Fraser practically melted under his hands and he was glad that Fraser had his head turned away from him. As he stroked, he felt the first stirrings of arousal. This was as far as he dared go with Fraser, content for the moment to simply touch that beautiful body, to feel the play of strong muscles under his hands. He resisted the temptation to lean forward and press a soft kiss on the smooth flesh and ignored the hardness between his legs.
He continued to stroke Fraser's back, long after Fraser had relaxed into a puddle, gently and lovingly letting his hands memorise the body under them. He kept softly touching until he couldn't stand it anymore. He rose, his erection clearly evident, and covered Fraser with the blanket and left as quickly as he could, before he did something he'd regret.
Fraser found the massage to be very soothing. He had not been this relaxed for a very long time. Ray was right; massage was certainly relaxing. His eyes started to drift closed.
After a few moments, he realised that, relaxed as he was, he wasn't sleepy. Nor was he soothed. The backrub was taking on a distinctly erotic aura. Ray's hands travelled all over his back, the touch getting more and more gentle. Ray's breath had grown slightly husky with effort and he could smell pheremones in the air. He tried to ignore the scent of human sexual excitement, hoping Ray could not identify it. It would be horribly embarrassing to admit that this backrub, designed to relax and soothe, was in fact sexually stimulating him. He feigned sleep, forcing himself not to tense up, and kept his eyes closed and face turned away from his friend.
At last, with a long, languorous final stroke along his spine, Ray got up, tucked him in and left.
Fraser lay there immobile for a long moment. When he heard the Riv start up and drive away, he rolled over quickly. His hands immediately went to his groin, to touch aching flesh. He kept the tactile memory of Ray's gentle hands uppermost in his mind while he touched himself. In the silence of the dismal flat, his breath sounded unnaturally loud. He imagined Ray's hands - those long fingered, gentle, warm hands - touching and caressing him, running along the length of his cock, fingers tracing the head and down the shaft.
The image was lost in a flurry of movement, a cascade of strangled gasps as a powerful orgasm rushed through his body. He relaxed, lying limply on his bed.
Ray was right, he thought. Sex does work. And he promptly fell into a deep, pleasantly dream filled sleep.
The wind from the open window of the Riv cooled Ray's ardour. God, but Benny is beautiful, he thought. I got out of there just in time.
Now he would go home, burrow into his own comfortable bed and it was nobody's business but his own what pleasant daydreams he used to lull himself to sleep.
He turned onto his street and damn near hit the mailbox on the corner when his cell phone rang. He sighed heavily, then answered it.
"Ray..." The voice on the other end was soft, tearful and female. He didn't recognise it.
"Yeah? Who is this?" Ray tried to keep the impatience out of his voice.
"Meg. Meg Tha...Thatcher..." The voice was ragged, timid. "Help..."
Ray recognised the tone. It was the voice of someone in dire straits, someone who needed help. Someone who was on the brink of doing something really stupid. No matter how he felt about the current someone, he could not ignore that cry for help.
"I'm on my way." He said softly. "Hang on, I'll be there in a few minutes." He turned the Riv around and floored it, all the while talking to her in calm, measured tones.
As soon as he arrived at Thatcher's flat, she flung open the door and fell into his arms. Her hair was tangled over her face swollen with crying. She looked like she was at the end of her tether.
"Hey, I'm here..." Ray held her close and stroked her hair off her face. "I'm here, Meg..."
She cried for a while longer, clutching at him frantically. He kept stroking her gently, murmuring soothing nonsense. Eventually she settled down a little, sobs growing quieter. Ray led her to the sofa and they sat down.
A few minutes later, Meg pushed him away and wiped her eyes and nose with the back of her hand. Ray got up and fetched tissues.
Meg took a handful and blew her nose, carefully not looking at him. Ray waited.
"I picked that up," she said abruptly, pointing to her service revolver. "And I thought seriously of using it. I was going to blow my brains out."
Meg finally looked at him defiantly, her eyes still swimming with tears.
"Why didn't you?"
"Truth?" Thatcher half smiled. "I couldn't decide which piece of furniture to ruin. I can't take this anymore. I close my eyes and all I see is him. I can still feel...." She closed her eyes tightly.
"You really do need to talk to someone." Ray said gently, after a long silence. "Someone who is trained to help."
"You're the one I thought to call. I was so scared. I knew you'd come."
Ray's stomach dropped. He was way out of his depth here. He'd had the courses in dealing with hysteria and suicide, but those courses didn't really capture the heartsick feeling of having a person's life depend on saying just the right thing.
"I called you because you don't like me." Thatcher said abruptly. She got up and went into the kitchen. She wetted a towel and wiped her face. Ray followed.
"That doesn't make much sense." He said finally.
"Yes, it does." Thatcher turned to face him, calmer now. "You don't care whether I live or die, so anything you said to me had to be because it was true, not because you really cared about me."
"And if I lied, just to keep from doing the paperwork?"
"At least I'd know why you helped." Thatcher stared to make coffee. "I don't care whether you think I'm perfect or not. Nothing I do or don't do is going to change your opinion of me."
There was the crux of it, Ray realised, with sudden enlightenment. Thatcher had to appear strong to everyone around her. Everyone but him. She was right; he didn't care whether she was perfect or not. And she was wrong.
"I never thought you were perfect." Ray said carefully. "The whole ice princess image doesn't impress me much. I'd rather talk to the real woman. So talk, Meg."
"I'm not sure I can." Meg bit her lip. "All my life, I've had to be strong. When my mother left, I wasn't Daddy's little girl anymore. I was his big, strong girl. When he married Elizabeth, she was so good to me. She treated me like an adult, as if my thoughts and opinions really mattered to her. And, dammit, I liked that. I liked being big sister to Anne and Emily. They looked up to me. They still do. I can't lose that."
"And using that?" Ray gestured to the revolver.
"I wouldn't be around to see their disappointment in me." Meg said angrily, flinging herself on the sofa.
"Why would they be disappointed in you?" Ray asked gently. "You didn't do anything wrong."
"I am a police officer. I should have known better. I should have... should have..."
"Should have what?" Ray's voice was very quiet. "Should have somehow telepathically known that some sicko was in your apartment? Should have struggled and let the guy kill you before he assaulted you?"
"I don't know." Meg suddenly went limp, her head resting on the back of the sofa. "I should not have been so scared. And it's over. I should not still be scared. But I am. I'm scared all the time."
"What are you afraid of? That guy coming back?"
"No." Meg curled into a ball and pulled the afghan around her. "I'm afraid of what people will think... That I led him on... That I'm some kind of a slut for letting him..."
Ray got up and went into the kitchen, ostensibly to pour coffee. He pulled his cell phone out of his pocket and spoke quietly for a moment. Then he took a cup of coffee to Meg.
"Dr. Abbott will be over in a few minutes, Meg. I'm out of my depth here and you really need to talk to someone who can help."
Meg nodded wearily. This Dr. Abbott was a stranger; it didn't matter what he thought.
"He makes house calls?"
"She's willing to help. Talk to her, Meg. She's a good listener."
"How do you know her?" Meg sat up, making an effort to be friendly.
"She helped me deal with some things in my life."
"Like your daughter...?"
"That, and a few other things." Ray said carefully. "I was pretty messed up when Teresa died."
"As messed up as I am now?" Meg looked at him, trying to smile.
"Yeah." Ray picked up the revolver and expertly unloaded it. She watched him put the bullets in his pocket.
"I have others, you know."
"I know. But it'll slow you down a bit."
Meg drank her coffee and watched Ray for a while. He was standing at the window, looking out.
"Yeah?" He turned back to her.
Ray took a cab home. He was far too tired to drive. He had nodded a greeting to Dr. Abbott and left almost as soon as introductions were done. Meg seemed to take to Dr. Abbott, so he felt fine about leaving.
Strange woman, he thought, as the cab made its way through the deserted streets.
He still didn't like her, but he was glad he had gone. If he hadn't, the next file on his desk would be Meg Thatcher's
suicide. Welsh would have given the file to him, since he did have the best relationship with the consulate. Welsh would assume that he'd want to be the one to tell Benny. He paid off the cab and went inside. Tucking himself into
bed, he dismissed Thatcher from his mind and instead took out the mental image of Benny, half naked, and replayed the feel of that strong, muscular back until he fell asleep.
Fraser walked to work briskly. It was amazing how well he felt. He had slept remarkably well and regretted not seeing Ray to thank him. Ray was off for the next couple of days and never picked him up on his days off, so the thanks would have to wait until Thursday.
The consulate was in a bit of an uproar. Fraser was met at the foot of the stairs by Cooper, looking frantic.
"Constable Fraser." Cooper saluted smartly. "Thank goodness you're here. The Inspector isn't and Mr. Grey is. Here, I mean. He's in Chicago, waiting for her in her office."
Fraser listened to Cooper stammer and sighed inwardly.
"Oh, dear." He muttered softly. "Have you called the Inspector at home?"
Cooper looked shocked at the idea.
"Of course not. I wouldn't presume to interrupt Inspector Thatcher at home."
"I'll call her." Fraser decided. "Please explain to Mr. Grey that she'll be along presently and show him around the consulate."
"It would be an honour." Cooper dashed off and Fraser closed his eyes briefly. Thank goodness Mr. Grey, Minister for Foreign Affairs, was a kind and understanding man.
Fraser drove carefully to Thatcher's apartment building. She had asked for him to pick her up in one of the consulate's cars. By the time he could get there, she'd be ready to go. She offered no explanation for not showing up, nor did she seem flustered at the thought of an important cabinet minister showing up unexpectedly.
He stopped in the visitor's parking space and his eyes widened. In one of the other spaces was a very familiar car. A 1971 green Buick Riviera. He barely registered this fact when the passenger door opened and Thatcher got in, impeccably neat as always.
"Let's get going, Fraser." She said sharply. "Minister Grey will be wondering where we are."
"Yes, Sir." Fraser glanced at her, then set the car in motion.
The meeting between Thatcher and Mr. Grey went well. He was a charming man, apologising for showing up without notice. Fraser went back into his office to deal with a stack of letters and things seemed to be back to normal.
Except that as soon as his office door closed behind him, Fraser felt a black cloud of depression fall around him.
What was Ray's car doing at Thatcher's apartment building? The answer was obvious. Thatcher had been late and she looked very tired when she got into the car. Was Ray the reason for that tiredness? The letter he had been opening flew out of his hands, badly mangled by the letter opener being wielded with far too much force. He dropped the opener and put his head in his hands. He felt sick.
Ray and Meg were still seeing each other. And that thought brought with it pain so sharp it took his breath away.
Somehow, Fraser got through the day and got home. Dief greeted him with his normal enthusiasm, only to get a very absent pat.
Fraser took off his uniform and put on a pair of jeans and a flannel shirt. Despite the spring warmth in the air, he still felt very cold. He lay down on his hard cot and pulled the wool blanket over himself. When that didn't help, he took the bedroll and spread it over himself. Then he lay there and shivered until the weight of the covers and his own body heat warmed him a little. The coldness passed, but the pain was still there.
Why did this hurt so much? Was he really so selfish to be hurt and jealous because Ray and Meg had found each other?
He cared about Meg. She deserved to have someone like Ray in her life, someone who could make her laugh, make her mad, make her feel fully alive. Ray had done that for him. And he loved Ray for that.
He couldn't quite forget the feeling of Ray's warm hands on his body, nor could he quite forget the shift of feelings he had when he realised that he was attracted to Ray. But this wasn't a wistful longing for affection, or a regretful what-might-have- been sort of feeling.
He threw back the covers, suddenly far too hot. This was a seething jealousy, a furious rage. He wasn't sure if he was angry at Meg for taking Ray from him, angry at Ray for making him care or angry at himself for the feelings he was having.
He took Dief for his walk and, rather than let him off leash to run, he ran with Dief, trying to outrun the emotions. When he got back to the apartment, Dief was exhausted, but he was still
restless. He went to bed, forcing himself to lie down.
After an hour of unpleasant thoughts and restless shifting, he went to his footlocker and took out the dreaded sleeping pills. In a fit of desparation, he took all of them. Even then, he couldn't quite sleep.
He could still feel Ray's hands on his body, sense the incredibly erotic scene in his mind. Ray must care something for him, if he had taken the time to help him sleep. Ray couldn't know how much that touch had awakened a torrent of feelings in him.
He wanted Ray there, wanted Ray's hands on his body, wanted to hold Ray in his arms, wanted to make love to him until Ray forgot all about the beautiful Margaret.
He fell into an uneasy sleep, his mind whirling with images of Ray with Meg.
The voice was soft and warm, well beloved. Fraser sighed in contentment. Ray was beside him, warm and relaxed, his breath warming his cheek.
"Benny?" The voice was louder and Fraser struggled to open his eyes. Ray wasn't next to him, his naked bady warming his. Ray was bending over him, fully dressed and his tie brushing his chest. He looked worried.
"Ray?" Fraser blinked, feeling groggy and sick.
"Benny, you okay?" Ray looked really worried.
"What are you doing here, Ray? It's your day off." It was incredibly difficult to talk normally, to separate his dreams from reality.
"Thatcher called me..." Ray was saying something else, but the first three words brought back the pain and he closed his eyes and rolled to his side, curling into a ball, making himself as small as possible.
"Go away." Fraser said fiercely.
"Go away. Get out of my life."
There was a very long pause.
"Sure." Rays' voice sounded odd. He listened to Ray's retreating footsteps and held off the sound of exploding pain until he heard the door close behind his love.