This story is slash, containing characters who (sadly) do not belong to me and both happen to be men who want to have sex with each other. I'm not writing this for any gain other than my own personal amusement. Rating - NC-17, naturally.
At long last, the final part of "One Ray, Two Ray, Old Ray, New Ray." Pairing? Wouldn't you like to know. :) Fraser/Kowalski/Vecchio - at least two of them will end up together. Promise. All sales final. No returns or exchanges.
Dedicated to Genie and Mia - you'll have to let me know how the head thing turned out.
Also to Hth, who brought me soup when I was hungry, then patted me on the head and said, "There, there, just add more sex," when I was stuck.
This takes place approximately 9 months after the series finale, and right after "Its Own Reward." All previous stories archived at http://www.frontierz.com/socket
Permission granted to archive at Witnesslist, and any and all other Due South archives. Any others, please let me know first.
any comments, suggestions, or complaints can be sent to me at email@example.com
"Into the Sunset"
Barbara J. Webb
Fraser was unused to waking to the sounds of water running. In fact, short of Dief's whining because his breakfast was later than he would have liked, Fraser could usually expect silence in the early morning when his internal clock dragged him from sleep with an alarm more dependable than the electric appliance at Ray's bedside. Ray was not a morning person. In quiet moments of personal honesty, Fraser could admit that he wasn't any more pleasant to be around just after he'd woken up, and they had found it made life go much more smoothly when Fraser had his extra hour alone in the morning before they tried to face each other.
But not this morning. Five am, and the shower was running. Apparently it had been running for a while, because it shut off only moments after Fraser and opened his eyes, and that Ray would take a short shower when he had time to spare was even more unthinkable than the fact of him being awake at this hour.
Then again, Fraser could muster no objections at having a naked, dripping Ray Kowalski as the first object of his day to come into focus. Even when said dripping man straddled the still prone Mountie, allowing the dampness to soak through the covers, then leaned down over Fraser's face close enough that the water running off his morning-flat hair dripped onto the bridge of Fraser's nose.
"Morning." Leaning down further, Ray followed the salutation with the tip of his tongue following the trail of water on Fraser's face.
This was a different Ray Kowalski than the one who'd been storming around the apartment the night before at Fraser's simple comment that they might consider going back to Canada. "Good morning, Ray."
"I been thinking."
"Have you?" Fraser's eyelids fluttered as Ray's lips brushed against them, feather-soft.
"Yeah." The tip of Ray's tongue traced the line of Fraser's eyebrow. "Love your eyes, Frase. You know that?"
Fraser's hands sought Ray's back, followed the beautiful curve of Ray's spine. "Thank you kindly, Ray."
"I wanna go to Canada."
The words sent a shiver through Fraser, so unexpected, and so welcome. "Canada - you do?"
"Sure. I mean, su casa is my casa an all that. Thought about it - thought about it a lot, decided. End of discussion. Dot it, file it, stick it in a box marked done."
"You're sure, Ray? Last night you seemed less...enthused about the idea."
"You tryin to talk me outta this, Fraser?"
Not an inch from Fraser's, Ray's eyes glinted with warning. "Not a bit. I only thought-"
"Stop thinkin all the time. For once, just go with it."
Then Ray was kissing Fraser, and his hands were burrowing under the covers. Canada. Even if Ray wasn't willing to discuss it, his enthusiasm was obvious, and Fraser couldn't - didn't want to - hold back his own eager response. As he flipped Ray down to the bed and rolled on top of him, Ray's grin only served to encourage Fraser's passion.
Canada. Home. With Ray. What more could Fraser ask for? If not possibly Ray's fingers tracing teasing lines down his side, Ray's lips finding a sensitive spot of Fraser's throat on which to suck - and it looked as though he was being given those things as well, so what possible complaints could he raise about anything?
None. Not a one. He followed the line of Ray's jaw with his lips, moved up along Ray's ear. The golden detective squirmed beneath him, making random happy Ray noises. It felt so good - it always felt so good to have Ray under him like this, flesh against flesh, smooth skin creating delicious friction all along Fraser's body.
To Fraser, Ray was never more beautiful than when he was aroused like this, stretched out, eyes glazed with pleasure, head back, mouth just slightly open. His entire body radiated sex, breathed it, oozed it, and Fraser still could only barely believe this magnificent creature belonged to him. Would be his always.
They were going home.
He slid down Ray's body, stopping to trace the line of Ray's tattoo with his tongue. This earned Fraser a whimper, and Ray's toe running up the back of his thigh, as he licked at the sensitive skin. Then further down, taking one eraser-hard nipple gently between his teeth. "Wow," Ray breathed. "This the kind of treatment I'm gonna get up there in the Northwest Areas?"
Fraser ignored the improper province name, suspicious Ray did that on purpose. "Every day, if you would like."
"Oh yeah. I'd like."
Continuing down, Fraser drew wet designs on Ray's stomach with his tongue, holding Ray still against the laugh-and-twitch he knew was forthcoming as he dipped the tip of his tongue into Ray's belly-button. "That tickles, Fraser."
"I know, Ray." He knew every response, every sensitive point, every spot that would make Ray laugh, would make Ray gasp, would make Ray cry out. There had never been anyone Fraser had known so well, had been so close to. His partner, his Ray.
When he took Ray into his mouth, Fraser knew Ray would arch up, lifting his back and buttocks off the bed, and took that opportunity to work his arms under the man, hold him close as Fraser's head worked up and down on Ray's erection. The taste of Ray, familiar and heady, only drove Fraser to devour him deeper, until his lips were brushing against the curly golden hairs at the base of Ray's cock.
Fraser was in absolute control, so attuned to Ray's every motion and breath he could draw this out forever, or drive Ray screaming over the edge. Today - this morning, he chose the latter option, working his throat around Ray as he pressed one saliva slicked finger up inside his lover. Ray did scream as he came, thrust against Fraser, dug his fingers almost painfully into Fraser's hair.
They were going home.
* * * * *
"You bring everything?" Ray's voice floated up from the direction of the couch as Fraser eased the door of the apartment closed.
"I thought you were going to get some sleep."
Looking even more rumpled than usual - and nowhere approaching wide awake, Ray sat up and rested on his arms on the back of the couch. "Did. Now I'm awake. You bring everything?"
"Witness statements, phone records, frozen pizza."
"Cool." Ray struggled to his feet, stifling a yawn that threatened to be wider than his head. "Pop in the pizza and I'll get started on those statements."
The drug case had come at them out of nowhere, starting with what had seemed like a simple arrest for dealing, and had spiraled into multiple homicides, conspiracy, and was threatening to involve some very public officials before they were done. Two weeks of eighteen hour days, and they still hadn't caught a break; both men were exhausted and edgy.
"Ray, even if there is something to be found here, you're not alert enough to find it. Go to bed - get a good night's sleep for once, and then we can attack this fresh in the morning."
"You going to come too?"
"I'm completely awake. I can-"
"Then so can I." It was an argument they'd had every night for the past week - practically word for word, as though they were reading from the same worn, tired script, both men too stubborn to back down.
Fraser dropped the reports on the counter, set the oven, thankful that he was facing away from Ray when his own yawn hit. "Did you get the apartment listed?"
"Naw, forgot. Sorry. This case...."
Had been occupying the every waking thought of both of them. Fraser couldn't blame Ray, and even felt a bit guilty at the twinge of disappointment, the knowledge that they would be in Chicago that much longer. He'd hoped they'd be able to leave once this case had broken, but Ray wanted to get everything settled here before they left for Canada, which included finding someone to sublet the apartment until his lease expired.
"Understood. If you take the witness statements, I'll start going over the phone records."
And it was back to work.
* * * * *
"Ray. Ray. Ray. Ray. *Ray.*"
"What?" That much beloved blonde head snapped up from where it had been resting on the detective's desk in the bullpen - a desk with a nameplate that now read "Det. Ray Kowalski," but otherwise looked the same now as it had over four years ago, when Fraser had first arrived in Chicago. "I'm awake, I'm awake."
"It's late. We should go home."
Ray shook his head - practically shook his entire body in a cross between a negative response and an attempt to wake up. "I wanna hang around a bit longer. Give Fessini a little more time to stew in there, then go try an shake him up some more. Maybe he'll talk." Those beautiful eyes - slate grey with exhaustion - flitted up at Fraser. "If you wanna go on, that's fine."
Everything about Ray's tone and posture was asking Fraser to stay there with him, help him pass the time. He took the chair opposite Ray, tapping his finger over the drawer where Ray kept a deck of cards. "Perhaps a game?"
That dazzling smile - it still made Fraser feel a little light-headed. "Sure. Poker?"
"That would be fine."
Fraser couldn't help but watch as Ray's elegant, expressive fingers deftly shuffled the deck, then slid cards across the desk to stop nearly one on top of each other in front of the Mountie. Fraser examined his hand, rearranging the cards efficiently. "Have you informed Leftenant Welsh of your intention to leave after this case?"
"Not yet. Guy's got so much to worry about right now, hate to bother him with one more problem."
"Hmm? What's hmm?"
Fraser shrugged, kept his thoughts to himself. It had occurred to him that Ray's procrastination might, in part, be due to a reluctance to leave, but Fraser suspected it would only start a fight to say so. "Nothing, Ray. May I have two cards?"
And it was no great stretch for Fraser to admit his own amount of reluctance to go. As wonderful as it would be to be home, the Mountie would miss this sparkling synergy they had when working together. They would be leaving this all behind in Chicago - Ray wouldn't be working in law enforcement in Canada. They hadn't yet discussed what Ray would do, but Fraser was certain a man with as many talents as his Ray could find something of interest to occupy his time.
Working together like this - there was a special energy when they were working a case together, a blending of their complimentary talents and skills, a perfect meshing of their beings that was almost spiritual. This was wonderful, and even the pull of Canada wasn't enough to make Fraser eager to leave this behind them.
"How do you *do* that, Fraser?"
But he was smiling again, making Fraser wonder how he'd ever done anything without this man, how he was going to make it work when they were no longer partners like this.
* * * * *
Fraser knew it was Ray on the phone before Turnbull called his name; there was a unique tone of annoyance Turnbull took when Ray was causing him trouble. He picked up the extension in his office, "Constable Bent-"
"Yeah, yeah, I know who you are." Barely restrained energy threatened to bubble up through Ray's voice. "Can you get outta there?"
"I believe so. Is something wrong?"
"Naw, Frase. Something's right. We got a lead - snitch of mine just called. You wanna come along to check it out?"
There was an almost seductive note to the invitation, but then Ray's excitement about solving cases was almost sexual. It certainly had led to incredible - Fraser dragged his mind back to proper topics. This was work, not play. At least until work was done, and Fraser had Ray alone. When Ray was excited, Fraser was excited, and that made him want to push Ray down, to-
"I can come with you."
"All right. I'm on my way over there."
"I do wish, Ray, you wouldn't talk on the phone while you drive. The accident rate-"
A snicker on the other end. "While it warms my heart that you're worried about me, I'm not gonna stop doing it."
"I know that." Fraser heard both the exasperation and the warmth in his tone. "Did you get to show the apartment this morning?"
"Yeah, but I didn't like the guy. Something about him was just kinda *errgh*. Maybe the next one, right?"
"Of course. I'll be ready when you arrive."
* * * * *
The celebration had stretched into the early morning hours. Five arrests: all had led to indictments. Ray was step-weaving drunk, and Fraser was carefully piloting the GTO back to Ray's apartment.
"Feels good, Frase, Benton, my Moutie-man lover. Feels real good. Five bad guys in jail."
"The trial isn't over yet, Ray." It was a lost cause to argue with Ray in this state - hardly anything said would be remembered by the detective in the morning.
"Trial schmile - they're guilty. Guilty guilty guilty."
Fraser glanced a smile over at the very happy drunk in the seat next to him. "Of course, Ray."
Ray smiled back at him. "Yer so great, you know that?"
"Thank you kindly." He caught Ray's hand where it was creeping up his thigh - threatening to distract his attention from the road - and squeezed it affectionately. "Did you give your notice to the Leftenant?"
"Forgot. Sorry. No hurry, right? We gotta be here to testify at the trial, so we can't sneak off into the sunset just yet."
"You still might have told him."
Now Ray was leaning over, his lips on Fraser's shoulder. "Too late now. I'll remember later."
"Shh." Ray's other hand was running up Fraser's chest.
"Ray, this is not the safest condition under which to be driving."
A tongue warm on Fraser's ear. "So pull over," Ray breathed against Fraser's neck in a velvet whisper.
"I don't think-"
"You think to much. Don't think, just do."
Ray's hand on Fraser's throbbing cock was the last bit of persuasion the Mountie needed. He found an alley to pull into, and let the golden-warm hands and mouth of his partner push all thoughts of their leaving from his mind.
* * * * *
"I'm beginning to suspect he doesn't really want to leave."
"Course he doesn't want to leave, Benny. He hates Canada."
"Oh? And just how would you know that?"
Ray checked the impulse to roll his eyes. Fraser had been snarky all through lunch, and a gesture like that would hardly help anything. "Because Kowalski couldn't keep his feelings bottled up if you stuck a cork up his-"
With an innocent smile, Ray snuck the end of his sandwich down to Dief, patiently sitting at his feet. "Besides, he told me as much."
"I certainly don't know why he'd tell you something like that."
"Because if he told you, you'd just get snippy with him. Come on, Fraser, you know how defensive you get."
"I do not."
Ray shrugged, knew it to be a lost cause. "Whatever. Anyway, we talked about it a couple weeks ago. I guess he's decided Canada's more important to you than Chicago is to him, but you might want to cut him a bit of slack. Can't be easy for him."
Fraser took another tense, careful bite at his sandwich, almost as though he were afraid, if he let go even a little, he might savage it. "If there's a problem - if he doesn't want to go, he should say something."
"Oh yeah, cause you know how much Kowalski loves volunteering the information that he's scared about something."
It took a moment for that to sink through the thick Mountie skull, but then Fraser seemed to soften a little. "Do you think he's afraid, Ray?"
"Benny, don't be dumb. Of course he's afraid. You're asking him to leave behind his home, his family, his friends, and go off into the middle of nowhere Canada, where he can't keep the job he's had his whole life - the job, need I remind you, he risked being disowned by his dad for - and you expect him to be leaping for joy about the whole thing?"
"He'll be with me."
"And that's great. That's wonderful. That's *why he agreed to do it.* But that's not enough to make everything perfect about the situation."
Fraser sat quietly for a moment, expression troubled. "You're right, Ray. I've been selfish. I should be more patient with him about this."
Ray kept his smile pleasant. He would not laugh at Fraser, not when Fraser was admitting to being wrong. "Yeah, Benny. I'm sure he'll appreciate that."
"Thank you kindly."
But there still seemed to be something troubling the Mountie. With the sigh of the much persecuted, Ray snuck Dief another french fry. "What is it, Fraser?"
"What is what, Ray?"
"Something's still bothering you."
"Yes, Ray. I wonder - I can't help thinking...." Fraser took a deep breath, set his jaw in the way Ray recognized as Benny trying to say something difficult. "Is it all right - do you mind, my leaving?"
This was a question Ray hadn't wanted to answer, a question he'd hoped Fraser wouldn't ask. He didn't want to lie, but how could he tell the truth? "Benny, you're my best friend. Of course I'm not excited about you going away. But, you know, Canada's your home. Guess I always figured you'd go back there sometime."
"I know we haven't seen much of each other these past couple years. First you were gone, then I was."
"I know. But it's not like I can't come up and visit you, right?"
"It won't be the same."
Fraser seemed determined to make this difficult. If this was what Kowalski had to put up with on a regular basis, no wonder he was balking. "You don't think I know that? Jesus, Fraser, I'm just trying to make this easier for you."
"Because that's what friends do." Shoving back from the table, Ray got to his feet. "Look, if you're trying to make me feel better about the fact that my two best - maybe my two only friends are about to run off together to the frozen north where I'll hardly ever get to see or talk to them again, you're doing a pretty wretched job of it. Besides, it's too little, too late. You made this decision without consulting me, and I've done my best to be supportive, but I swear to God, Fraser, you keep asking me how I really feel, I'll tell you, and I don't think either of us wants that."
Before Fraser could even open his mouth, Ray spun on his heel and stalked to the door. "Ray!" But he didn't turn, and only hesitated at the door long enough to let Dief - who had followed him - through.
"Come on, Dief buddy, let's go for ice cream. Screw Fraser."
Deif barked enthusiastically at that, and Ray went to drown his anger in rocky road. Dammit, he was going to miss them. Both of them. Fraser because he was Ray's friend, and Kowalski because...because...Ray didn't know why exactly, but the thought of watching Kowalski leave with Fraser left a hollow pit in his stomach. Or maybe he just didn't want to know why, because the reason was so completely unthinkable, Ray couldn't think it.
And he was angry. Angry at Fraser for wanting to leave, angry at Kowalski for making him feel this way. Fuck it. He'd gotten over the kid three years ago, hadn't he? In the same way Ray got over everyone back then. Everyone except for Fraser, but then he'd never really had Fraser, and maybe if he had, he would have gotten over him just like that too. Now, he was certainly over Fraser in that way, but then that was because he'd changed, because the job had changed him. Wasn't it?
That didn't mean he wasn't going to miss Fraser, and how dare that blind, ignorant Mountie sit there and ask him if his leaving was all right? Of course it wasn't. His leaving, Kowalski's leaving - nothing about that was good. When had his life gotten so out of control?
At least that one was an easy question. Four-and-a-half years ago, when Fraser had walked into the 2-7, had blown Ray's cover in that holding cell, had changed Ray's life forever. And now he was just leaving, and taking with him the only other person in the world who might understand what this all meant to Ray. The person who made Ray's stomach flip in ways no practically married ex-boyfriend should be able to do, no matter how attractive, how sexy, how alluring he was. No matter how much Ray genuinely liked him, no matter how much they had in common. No matter how much Ray felt like he was falling in-
Ice cream. Ray was going to think about ice cream. Maybe about how much it would piss Fraser off that Ray had giving ice cream to Dief. Not about Kowalski. Not about the fact they were leaving him.
* * * * *
Mrs. Vecchio had insisted Ray stay for dinner, and like any good pretend son, Kowalski had acquiesced. As ever, the Vecchio household was full of life, and after being mobbed by small children and pretend siblings, Kowalski took refuge in the kitchen.
Ma and Ray were in there: Ma fussing over vegetables while Ray stirred the sauce. "It's a zoo in there."
Grinning, Ray looked up from the stove. "Too much for you, Stanley?"
"Shut up, Vecchio."
"Yes, Ma," they answered in unison. Vecchio winked at Kowalski, who rolled his eyes.
"That's better. Raymond, please help yourself to a drink - there's some of your grape kool-aid in the fridge."
A crash from the other room made all three of them jump. "What are they up to now?" Ma asked, more to herself than to the boys. "I'll be right back. Don't let that burn, caro."
Rummaging through the refrigerator, Kowalski found the promised beverage and pulled out the pitcher. "You gonna get me a glass?"
In a move that his mother would never have approved of, had she been in the room, Vecchio pulled a glass out of the cabinet beside his head and tossed it to Kowalski. Ray caught it easily, set it on the counter. "What're we having for dinner?"
"Potato Gnocchi and Minestrone soup."
Grabbing some ice from the freezer, Ray dropped it in his glass then came over to the stove, standing behind Vecchio to stare at the food. "Cool. What's a Gnocchi?"
"Then why don't you just say dumplings?"
"Well, then I couldn't make you sound so ignorant."
Kowalski had been waiting for just that sort of remark, and had an ice-cube down the back of Vecchio's shirt before he could have said 'allegro.' He wasn't quite fast enough to escape, as Vecchio had him by the arm before he could back away, and there was a spoonful of the red sauce suddenly dripping down his face. "Oh, you think so?"
Some small amount of twisting, and Kowalski had his arm around the neck of the slightly taller man, focusing all his strength on pushing Vecchio's nose into the pitcher of kool-aid. Pasta sauce was smeared all through Vecchio's hair, as Kowalski used his forehead as additional leverage, and a cold, wet spot pressed uncomfortably against Kowalski's stomach where the ice-cube was lodged just above the waistband of Vecchio's pants.
"Raimondo! Raymond!" The sharp voice made Kowalski release Ray instantly, and he turned guiltily to face Mrs. Vecchio. Slightly less agile, Ray fell against the pitcher, spilling the purple liquid all over the floor. "You're both worse than the children. Look at this mess!"
It was difficult to look suitably contrite, when every glance at Ray out of the corner of his eyes made Kowalski want to giggle. Apparently, Ray was suffering a similar problem, as the corners of his mouth kept twitching up. "Aw, gee, Ma, we're sorry. Stanley and me, we'll clean it up."
"No! I want you both out of my kitchen. March right upstairs and get cleaned up. Lend Raymond one of your shirts - his is all messy, and I will not have him sitting at my table like this."
"But I-" Ray started to complain he didn't want to wear any shirt of Vecchio's, but Ma Vecchio's flashing eyes convinced him that, in this case, surrender might be the safest option. "Yes, ma'am."
"Go - go, shoo." She waved them from the kitchen, and both men fled up the stairs.
Vecchio shut the door to the bathroom behind them, leaned against it, let go the laughter he'd been fighting since the kitchen. "Oh, you think this is funny?" But he couldn't keep his own laugh back even long enough to finish the sentence with a straight face.
"The look....on your face...when she came in...."
"Oh, yeah, like you weren't over there shaking in your shoes." Going to stand in front of the sink, Kowalski started the water, trying to figure out how to get the sauce out of his hair without making it utterly flat. "Mama's boy," he muttered.
"What was that, Stanley?"
Flashing a grin at Vecchio's face in the mirror, Ray gave an innocent shrug. "Nothin'."
"Nuthin?" Vecchio mimicked. "What, afraid to call me that to my face?"
"Fraid of you, Vecchio? You wish."
"I think you're all kinds of scared, pretty boy. That's why the sneak attack with the ice - you can't handle a direct, frontal assault."
Kowalski turned from the sink. "Can't handle - can't - what? You think that? Well, let me tell you -" Breaking off abruptly, he tackled Vecchio.
Ray had been anticipating the move and dodged to the side, causing Kowalski to smack against the door. "Oh, now who's afraid?" Thrown off for just a moment, he wasn't able to evade the shower curtain that was suddenly over his head, around him, tangling his limbs. Vecchio's arms held it tight to Kowalski's body, twisting it further around.
"Give up?" Through the plastic, Vecchio's voice took on a muffled, humming resonance. The warm heat of him was pressed tightly against Ray's body, and Ray could feel his playfulness melting into something...else.
"Never." Kicking back, Kowalski nimbly swept Vecchio's legs, causing the both of them to tumble to the floor. Fortunately, the force of impact loosened Vecchio's grip, and Ray was able to squiggle around so that he was on top, holding Vecchio's arms against the rug through the plastic curtain. "You give up?"
A chuckle from below, and Vecchio had changed the rules. Instead of struggling to get up, he pulled down on Ray. The sudden vector shift caught Kowalski off balance, and now Vecchio was on top again, the sheet lying on the floor next to them, and there was pasta sauce all over both of them, as well as the shower curtain.
And there was something warm and hard pressing against Kowalski's thigh - no more insistent than the hard-on tightening Kowalski's own jeans. This close to Vecchio - it wasn't good to be this close to Vecchio. For just this reason. But he was here, and because impulse control had never been one of Ray's strengths, he wasn't able to resist the urge to lean up and lick a smear of sauce from Vecchio's cheek.
The Italian jerked back as though he'd been burned, jumped off Kowalski, turned away to lean, panting, over the sink. "Don't, Kowalski. Just don't."
A flare of anger shot through Ray, burning away any embarrassment he might have felt at the rejection. "Don't what, Vecchio?" He snapped to his own feet. "Don't what? I think we both know what you're sayin no to, and you sure weren't a minute ago, so don't be pulling this persecuted act."
"Persecuted act?" With obvious effort, Vecchio brought his voice back down to a normal volume. "You have no idea...."
"What, that you can't keep your hands off me? No, I got that one loud and clear."
That earned him a quirked-eyebrow look of bitter humor. "Funny, as I recall, it was *you* crawling naked into *my* bed not too long ago."
"What I don't get, Kowalski, is why you keep doing this? One would think you weren't happily partnered with the most perfect man in the world."
Ray, himself, would have loved a head's up from someone who had the answer to that question. "Just leave me alone, okay?"
"Not what you were saying just a minute ago."
"Yeah, well, you're the one who closed down that party."
They stared at each other, braced in their opposite corners of the bathroom, as though trying to keep as much space between them as was possible in the small space. Little by little, Vecchio seemed to relax, but Ray couldn't shake off the buzzing energy that had kept him on edge for days. And he couldn't keep telling himself it was because of that drug case, because everything there was over but the shouting, and he still couldn't calm down.
"What's going on here, Raymond? What's wrong with you?"
"Wrong with me? Why's something gotta be wrong with me? Maybe it's wrong with you, or with Fraser, or with the whole fucking world. How come it's always gotta be something wrong with me? I'm tired of everything being all my fault. Cause, I mean, who else could it be, since we all know Fraser's certainly Mr. Perfect, and no one can blame him for anything, even when they should cause he's a freak, but now I'm the freak -- or going to be, once we get to Canada, and that'll be my fault too, probably."
There it was again, the calm, strange Ray Vecchio who patiently waited for Kowalski to stop railing before speaking in a low, careful tone. "Are you done?"
Ray was done. He was so done. His hand was on the door, he was so done. "Yeah."
"Raymond, stop." The spent tone stopped Ray with more effectiveness than the simple command ever could have. "Listen to me for just a second."
"What?" Ray's hand was still on the doorknob, but he didn't turn it, waiting to hear what Vecchio had to say.
"When I asked what was wrong with you, I just meant what was wrong? Like, what's bothering you? And I'm not going to buy that you're fine, as much as you've been biting my head off."
Vecchio wanted to know what his problem was. Didn't that just beat all? Fraser couldn't be distracted from his excitement long enough to hand Ray an aspirin if he were having a heart attack, but Vecchio was concerned about his well being. Someday, maybe, he'd appreciate the irony. "Maybe I don't wanna tell you."
It seemed that wasn't good enough for Vecchio, and Kowalski had been pretty sure it wouldn't be, but it had been worth a try, right? "Why do you keep coming back here, Kowalski? What are you after? If it's to talk, it's time to work on your communication skills. If it's to fuck, then maybe it's time to get your head examined."
"Why? It so inconceivable these days that someone might want to be havin sex with The Real Ray Vecchio?"
"Considering what you've got waiting at home for you, it does seem a little dim."
Kowalski let go of the door handle, leaned his forehead against the door itself for support. "Maybe I just can't stay away."
"Better get used to it. Long commute from the Northwest Territories."
"I don't wanna go to Canada." The words came out before Ray was even completely aware he was going to say them. But once started, he couldn't hold them back. "I don't wanna go to Canada. I don't wanna go; I don't wanna go." Looking back over his shoulder, he fixed his eyes on Vecchio, still leaning against the sink. "I don't wanna leave Fraser, but I don't wanna go to Canada."
"He'll never be happy here in Chicago."
That once simple fact, the knowledge of which was at the heart of all Ray's fears, his panic, his agitation. "I know that - you think I don't know that? Course he'll never be happy here. That's why we're going."
"And you'll never be happy there."
"You don't know that!" Ray's fist struck against the door with a hollow thud. "I don't know that. Maybe I'll be perfectly happy there."
But Vecchio shook his head, his eyes, level and calm, held Ray with an irresistible force. "You won't. He's all you'll have there, and even Fraser can't be everything. You weren't happy there before, and it's not going to be any different. It won't be enough."
Kowalski's brain was popping with anger at Vecchio for daring to say those things. Desperately, he clung to that anger, knowing it went away, there would only be the hollow fear. "I can't let him go! I'm not gonna. We're goin to Canada, and we'll work something out. I'll find something else there, and that'll be that, cause I'd miss him too much, and...and," Kowalski fought around the way his voice seemed like it was trying to choke him, "and I don't wanna be alone again. I hate being alone."
There, it was out - the fear - and the emotions that went with it, panic, anger, hollow, burning loss, all swimming around his head so strong they were making his vision go hazy. "I'm not gonna just stay here by myself, be by myself."
"You wouldn't have to be."
Ray was unsure he'd heard the words, they'd been uttered so softly. "What?"
"I said you wouldn't necessarily have to be alone." Said with a bit more strength this time.
"What are you saying, Vecchio?" No room for misunderstandings here, the stakes were too high.
Those emerald green eyes held Ray frozen as Vecchio advanced on him, the former cop's voice low and mesmerizing. "I'm saying you're crazy if you think you've gotta be alone. Look at you - you're...you're...plenty of people that would do just about anything for a chance to be with you. Anybody you want, and he'd be lucky to have you."
"Anybody I want?" Only the space of a breath separated the two men.
Then Vecchio's mouth was on him, and Kowalski couldn't imagine why the choice should be a difficult one - the cold, sterile emptiness of Canada, or the burning possessiveness of Vecchio's kiss. What was so hard about that? Well, Ray knew exactly what was hard here, and that made him think maybe his brain wasn't functioning on the actual problem-solving levels right now, but how could anything ever feel better than Vecchio's tongue, his lips, his body all pressing against Kowalski.
Fraser. The stumbling block here was still Fraser.
Vecchio pulled back, just enough that Ray could form words without having to work his lips around Vecchio's tongue, but not enough that Kowalski could draw a breath without pulling in the heated air that had just come from Vecchio's lungs. "What is it?"
"I can't - I can't think right now. My head's all...mphmm. But it's all something I gotta think about. So could we maybe just...uh...you could fuck me, and then I could get back to you later with some thoughts on this?"
That dragged a smile out of Vecchio, although Ray was so close, he only knew it was there by the way the skin around Vecchio's eyes crinkled. "Sure, Stanley. I can fuck you anytime you want."
"Don't call me-" The rest of his sentence disappeared down Vecchio's throat, a fact which didn't strike Ray as entirely a bad thing. Entirely of their own accord, his hips bucked against the leg Vecchio maneuvered between Kowalski's thighs. For once, Vecchio didn't seem to find his desperation amusing, didn't have any instructive comments, simply gripped Ray's shoulders tighter, dragging Ray even harder against him.
There was no hint of elegance in the way the two usually graceful men toppled to the ground, tangled around each other. Vecchio ended up on top, mostly, one leg trapped beneath Kowalski's. The solid weight against him gave Ray no complaints, as he arched his entire body to rub against Vecchio, any semblance of finesse burned away by the raw heat of his lust.
Vecchio seemed in a similar state, as he tore at Ray's clothing, baring the detective's skin more through use of force than proficiency. Vecchio's skin felt feverish against Ray's as Ray fought for dominance - and won - against Vecchio's shirt. He needed Vecchio - couldn't remember ever having needed someone this much. "Ray - God, Ray, fuck me. Come on, come on."
*No, no, no* was all Ray could get through his mind when Vecchio rolled off him, but he couldn't quite verbalize. The ex-detective didn't linger, thankfully, in his time separated from Ray - kicking free of the tangled mess of his clothes while he rummaged with hasty inefficiency through the bathroom cabinet.
"Close enough," he grumbled after what had seemed like an eternity, although Ray was certain only seconds had passed. Ray had no idea what Vecchio had found, wasn't going to ask; the distinct floral scent radiating off Vecchio's slick fingers as they worked in and out of Kowalski's ass didn't distract him from his desire in the least.
Miracle of miracles, Vecchio was finally inside him, moving, thrusting, fucking Kowalski with everything except restraint. Driving against him, every stroke sending a new shock of pain-pleasure through Kowalski. Less and less pain, fading all into pleasure. Or not fading - being overwhelmed, like Ray was being overwhelmed, consumed, possessed by this man who, less than two months ago, had seemed like he was never going to be anything but a pain-filled past and possible threat to Kowalski's present.
There was nothing but now, as Ray's orgasm rolled over him like a tidal wave, dragging him down, drowning him in pleasure. He couldn't breathe - could only gasp for air, only this time it was Vecchio saving him from drowning, breathing air into his lungs, pressing his mouth against Ray's to drag him from the darkness.
Too much, it was too much. How could he give this up; how could he give Fraser up? How was he ever going to move again, his short-circuited nerves paralyzed by the weight of his own body? Why would he ever want to move with Vecchio's lips stroking his softly, dragging him back to recovery.
"We better get up - get cleaned off before Ma sends someone up here to check on us."
Neither of them so much as twitched. "Come on, Stanley."
Why was Vecchio's tongue still in his mouth? Because it felt too good to stop - that was Ray's theory. But the man was right - they had to get up. "Okay, okay." Reluctantly, he pushed against the Italian's shoulders, rolling him onto his back. "Getting up."
"You gonna think about this?"
As if Ray could possibly wrap his brain around anything else at the moment. "Sure. Sure thing."
"Okay." And because life went on, no matter how much turmoil anyone tried to inject into it, they managed to clean and dress themselves like civilized people, and even found somewhere the resources to be relaxed and joking by the time they were presentable enough to join the rest of the family. If they were maybe a little more quiet than usual, who would notice around the Vecchio table?
After dinner, Kowalski stayed for a little while, teased Frannie, gave horsey rides to the smaller Vecchio children, but Mrs. Vecchio seemed to pick up on his distraction and shoed him away, saying he needed some warm milk and bed. Bidding farewell to the family, his eyes lingering maybe a bit too long on the first-born Vecchio son, Ray escaped into the cold Chicago night.
Despite the fact that warm milk and bed had sounded incredibly appealing, Ray didn't go immediately home. He couldn't face Fraser, not till he had his own head straightened out. Parking the GTO at the entrance of a park, Kowalski wandered away from the car, finding a sort of peace in the noises of the city that surrounded him, only vaguely aware of the fact that this was the place he and Fraser had come once to try to capture the feel of the wilderness.
It was deeply unfair that the November air in Chicago should still feel so frigid. After nearly a year in the frozen north, Ray should have gotten harder, tougher, able to withstand any amount of chill in the comparatively southern climate. But for some reason, he was still shivering inside the soft brown leather of his coat. He shrugged deeper into it, the pull of his holster strap across his shoulders hampering somewhat his ability to huddle.
Two choices staring him in the face. Canada and Fraser or Chicago and Vecchio. What kind of choice was that - how could he possibly be expected to make it?
Fraser. Fraser, his partner and best friend, lover and love, the better half of his soul. Why couldn't he be happy, as Ray was happy, keeping things the way they were? Why did he have to ruin it? Even if Ray went with him, he was losing a part of Fraser - maybe the best part of Fraser, when they wouldn't be able to work together anymore, wouldn't be able to feel that incredible energy that came when their brains were working on the same wavelength, buzzing, communicating. When he and Fraser were *on*, there was nothing better. Nothing in the world.
And that was gone, no matter what. Stay or go, Fraser was taking that away from Ray.
Canada and Fraser. The thought made Ray shiver in a way that had nothing to do with the chill of the air. Something changed about Fraser in Canada - he became the best of what he was, and in some ways, the worst. It was like Canada made Fraser into a caricature of himself. There was no 'partners' in Canada - Fraser led and Ray followed; that was the way it had to be. Fraser knew Canada, and Ray didn't, and Ray had always been a lead, follow, or get out of the way kinda guy.
Cold. The cold in Canada wasn't all about the snow or the air. Some of it came from the Mountie - the cold that always was there in Fraser, but somehow here in Chicago, Ray had never noticed. But when Fraser was all he had - *all* he had, up there in the frozen north, he's found that cold place in Fraser that even he couldn't touch most of the time. Once or twice, maybe, he'd found that spot, melted it, touched it, but the rest of the time Fraser kept it in the freezer. Close to Ray, but not too close, not even to Stanley Ray Kowalski, his partner, friend, lover.
Chicago. Ray's home. His parents were here, his friends, his home. Stella was here, his past, his memories, his life. Could he leave all that behind?
But for what? He wasn't Ray Vecchio anymore, and still not sure exactly what it meant to be Ray Kowalski, but his every instinct told him he wasn't going to find it out in Canada. Not when it meant giving up being a cop.
That lay at the heart of everything. He was a cop, wanted to be a cop, loved his job. It was the best of him and Fraser, the best of who he was. He'd worked hard all his life, alienated his dad, bled and cried and sweated, all to be able to flash that pretty gold badge bearing those simple three letters, CPD. His job, his job that he was damn good at. An essential part of being Ray Kowalski, and how could Fraser ask him to give it up?
Vecchio. Now that just threw the whole equation off. Talk about out of left field, even if maybe it shouldn't have been, and the whole thing made Ray feel like he'd been knocked over the head with a brick. Vecchio. The man he'd hated, the man he'd loved; the man he'd wanted to be, the man he'd needed not to be. Could any relationship as whacked as theirs ever go anywhere?
Could it ever really get where it had seemed once to be going?
Three weeks, and it had fallen apart. What made either of them think it would be any different this time? Because they were different? Both gone a long, long way in the past few years? Maybe because forewarned is forearmed?
Or maybe nothing had changed - at least, not enough to matter. What had it been, after all? Three weeks of hot sex, and Ray needing desperately to have someone there to keep him from thinking about Stella, and Vecchio happy to hang out, but in his own way as deeply untouchable as Fraser.
Masks. All about masks. Like being at a costume ball, and Ray had to pick the right person without being able to pull the mast away and see who he was really getting. What he was really getting.
Three people Ray had ever loved in his life, and given a choice, he never would have left any of them. But Stella had left him, and now no matter what he chose, it meant leaving either Fraser or Vecchio. Fraser was the safe bet, the easy way; Ray knew exactly what he was getting from Fraser, knew they were good together, probably always would be good together. But Fraser meant Canada. Vecchio meant Chicago, but he was a risk, bluffing with a pair of deuces. Maybe they could get away with this, take the pot, as long as no one looked at their hand.
Walking. Had to keep walking, keep thinking, keep hoping this would somehow resolve itself in Ray's head. Surely there was a right answer somewhere, a choice that, once Ray took it, would make everything okay. Fraser or Vecchio, Chicago or Canada. This was it, down to the wire, had to decide, and maybe he lost everything if he chose wrong.
The shrill whine of his cell phone made his entire body jerk. Too long in Canada, away from the trappings of civilization. Gloved hands made clumsy by the cold dug at his pocket, his only cogent thought to make the noise go away.
He still had to resist the first urge to answer with "Vecchio." Two years, and more work put into being Ray Vecchio than he'd ever put into being Stanley Kowalski, and no real time when he'd had to work to break the habit. "Yeah?"
"Who else would be answerin my phone, Fraser?"
"That's a very valid point." A pause on the other end. "It's late; I was concerned at the fact you weren't home yet."
A quick glance at the face of his watch, and Ray flinched at the hour half of the display that had moved into single digits. Much later than he'd thought. "Yeah, I didn't realize what time it was. I'll be home pretty soon."
"Are you all right?" A hesitant question from the usually unhesitating Mountie.
"Just been thinking. Still thinking. You think maybe we could - I mean, if you're still awake - maybe talk when I get home? I got some things maybe I gotta say."
"As you wish."
The words made Ray's brain flash back to a book he'd read as a kid, with the princess and the stable boy, and the fact that when he'd said that to the princess, he'd really been saying he loved her. But that wasn't really what Fraser meant when he said it - usually it meant Fraser was feeling too polite to argue. "Okay, see you in a bit."
He snapped the phone closed, dropped it back into its pocket. This was it, time to make the decision. Truth or dare, and Kowalski didn't like any of the dares being offered, so he'd damn well better figure out what was the truth.
* * * * *
Fraser was still up when Ray got home, sitting on the couch, in the dark, only barely visible in the dim light reflected from the street. Ray didn't turn any lights on - some things were just easier done in darkness - but went to sit beside him on the couch, not quite touching, but close enough he could feel the heat that always seemed to radiate off Fraser's body.
"I'm not goin with you to Canada."
Fraser's voice was low, tight, betraying the tension Ray couldn't see. "I suspected."
"I couldn't imagine what else would have you out...thinking."
The slight hesitation - the almost emphasis on the word. Fraser knew who's house Ray had been at for dinner, could probably still smell Vecchio on him, with those super-Mountie senses. But he didn't say anything, much in the same way Ray had never said anything about that night, so long ago, before Vecchio had gotten shot, when Fraser had rushed back into Vecchio's arms.
What kind of freaks were they?
"It's not about - I didn't - I mean, I did, but that's not - I just can't do it. I can't go to Canada."
In the silence that followed, Fraser's breathing grew harsher. "I've been selfish, Ray, asking you to leave. I know - I knew how you felt about it, knew even when we were still there, but I let my own needs come before yours. I shouldn't have."
"I can't blame you. It's your home, an all. Still wish it could be mine, but I can't do it. Can't."
Another ragged breath from the Mountie. "I can't stay."
"An I can't go."
"We appear to be at an impasse." The choked sound of Fraser's voice - was he crying? Ray could hardly conceive of anything so awful as the thought that he'd made Fraser do that. His resolve wavered.
"Frase, wait, maybe we can - maybe I could...do something. Go...."
In the darkness, Fraser shaking his head was only a shadowy motion. "No, Ray. You're right. You can't."
Ray wanted to reach out, to touch Fraser, but it seemed like the distance between Chicago and Canada already lay between them, stretching his small couch to impossible lengths. "I don't wanna leave you."
"Sometimes we have to - sometimes, we...." Fraser took a long, hitching breath, and it was enough to break Ray's paralysis. Reaching over he found Fraser's hand, felt it shaking beneath his. "Ray...."
"C'mon, Fraser, don't - don't - there's gotta be something, something we can do."
"I'm afraid. I don't want to go back to being alone, back to the way it was before."
The echo of Ray's own thoughts, of his own fears, because after all they were partners, and so what else would Fraser be thinking. Not so different, Fraser and him.
But with that knowledge came another, less pleasant. "It's not enough. Everything one of us would have to give up - it's not enough, bein together just because we're afraid to be alone." Realizing how that might have sounded, Ray tried quickly to cover himself. "I mean, not like that's the only reason we're together, it's just-"
"I understand, Ray. As much as I...as much as we love each other, it's not enough."
"See, you can't even say it. You can't just sit here an say 'Ray, I love you,' and maybe that means something, Fraser. You ever think that?"
"Yes." That simple, whispered confession put everything on the table. Under the wire, a photo finish, and they'd both made their choices.
Fraser was leaving. Fraser was leaving. He had to keep that thought circling through his head, because when he stopped saying it, he stopped believing it. Couldn't believe it, even when he said it. "When - when are you...are you...." He trailed off, unable to stand the sound of his own voice, suddenly as harsh as Fraser's.
But Fraser knew what he was asking, because they were partners, and they communicated - understood each other. "I don't have much to pack, and we've been preparing for this for a while now." A pause. "Tomorrow."
Tomorrow. Leaving tomorrow. Fraser was leaving him tomorrow - leaving Ray's life as suddenly as he'd come into it. Tomorrow. Fraser. Gone.
Ray needed him tonight. Burying his fist in Fraser's flannel shirt, he dragged the Mountie's mouth to his, tasted the salt of Fraser's tears. Fraser's desperation was there to meet his own, pushing him down into the worn cushions of the couch, kissing and kissing and kissing. Fraser's nails dug into Ray's shoulders, his teeth drew blood from Ray's lips, his body pressed against Ray's so hard Ray thought they might fuse together into one person.
This apartment, his home - Fraser's home. Ray had come here to find someplace that wasn't Stella, and now Fraser was leaving and it was always going to be Fraser Ray remembered here. Their first time - on this couch, the smell of Fraser that was part of their bed, the Serge hung tidily in the closet, the hat tossed carelessly on the counter. Tripping over Dief when he stumbled into the kitchen for a midnight snack, Fraser's body warm against his on cold mornings. How could Ray forget any of these things, ever?
But those were thoughts for later, when Fraser had gone and it finally soaked into Ray's brain what the truth of Fraser's leaving actually meant.
Thoughts for now should only be of the way Fraser was touching him - he had to concentrate, concentrate, memorize every line of Fraser's body, every touch of Fraser's hand, burn it into his memory in case there was never another -
No, no, no thinking of later. Only of now. Only of now.
Only of how Fraser against him still felt as exciting, as crazy-hot, as electrifying as it had the very first time. First, last, always. His Fraser, his Mountie, his partner. Leaving. Touching. Kissing. Biting. Leaving. Rubbing. Sucking. Leaving. Loving. Fucking.
He couldn't see Fraser, could only feel him, hear him, taste him, smell him. Love in the darkness, like a ghost, almost like he was already gone. "Fraser!" He clung to the Mountie, only barely hearing the words of reassurance murmured in mindless repetition against his ear. Needed Fraser so badly, wasn't going to have Fraser any more. Loved Fraser, needed Fraser.
Had to let Fraser go. Had to let Fraser go. Had to let him go, because his arm was falling asleep where Fraser's weight rested across it. Didn't want to move - his body didn't want to move from beneath its blanket of Mountie, didn't want to change the way Fraser's arm cradled his head, Fraser's legs entwined with his, Fraser's chest moved against his side.. "You really leaving tomorrow?"
"I think that would be for the best."
"One quick yank - like pullin tape off a guy's mouth." Ray had wanted that to go slow, too, but Fraser hadn't done what he'd wanted then, and probably wouldn't now. "You gotta pack?"
The tips of Fraser's fingers pulled through his hair, grazing against him with gentle affection. "I can do that in the morning." He sat up, pulled Ray with him, led Ray in to bed. Once there, Ray curled tightly around Fraser, trying to express with his body all the love and the loss that he would never be able to put into words.
"You love me, Fraser?"
"Always, Ray. I promise."
He didn't expect to be able to sleep, didn't want to sleep, but his body had other ideas, and exhaustion pulled Ray into darkness.
* * * * *
Five am, and Ray dragged himself out of the conspicuously half-empty bed. Fraser was in the living room, tying the last knots in his pack under Dief's supervision. "You weren't gonna leave without saying good-bye...were you?"
The sound of Fraser pulling taut the drawstring was clearly audible in the quiet of the apartment. Even for early morning Chicago, it was unnaturally still, as though the entire city were holding its breath, watching Fraser prepare to leave. "It's very early, Ray. I didn't want to wake you."
The pre-dawn hour was cold as well as quiet, and Ray wrapped his arms tightly around himself. "You mad at me?"
"No." A simple answer, given without hesitation, and Ray could see the truth of it in Fraser's eyes, the deep honesty. Strange, that this moment of parting would be one of those when Ray could see all the way into Fraser, could touch that part Fraser shared with no one.
"It's gonna be...." What could he say? What words could express what it was going to be like without Fraser? Lonely, weird, sane, crazy, different - nothing was quite right, quite enough.
But Fraser understood. Of course, Fraser understood, because they were partners and that's what partners did. "I know, Ray."
And suddenly Ray had to know, had to ask the question that scared him more than anything else. "Hey, Frase? You said once, said this thing about still being partners, no matter how far apart, or how long, or...or whatever. You still - you really believe that?"
"With every fiber of my being."
They might have stood frozen in that moment forever, gazing into each other's eyes, had a soft knock at Ray's door not broken them from their reverie. Somehow, it didn't surprise Ray to open the door and find Vecchio standing there.
"I called him," Fraser explained softly. "I wanted to say goodbye to both of you at once."
"You really leaving, Benny?" The Ray-I'm-so-cool-Vecchio mask was tight and flawless this morning - as flawless as Fraser's Serge, and Kowalski felt unusually rumpled, laid open, vulnerable. That Ray Kowalski - always wearin his heart on his sleeve.
Fraser answered the question with a simple nod, finished closing his bag and gave one last sweeping look around the apartment. "I think I have everything."
In less charitable moments, Ray would later think back that it had been a brilliant maneuver on Fraser's part to smooth his departure. Ray certainly wasn't likely to break down and beg Fraser to stay with Vecchio in the room. At times when he felt warmer towards the Mountie, he thought somehow Fraser knew that Vecchio's presence would be the one thing that could possibly make this easier for Ray.
"Gonna miss you, Benny." Vecchio pulled Fraser into a close hug, one tightly returned by the Mountie. "Gonna miss you a lot."
"And I you, Ray."
"Should I go into the other room and give you two some privacy?"
They released each other, and Vecchio flashed a snide grin in Kowalski's direction. "Wait your turn there, Stanley."
Before he could form a suitably cutting response to that, Ray was surrounded by Fraser's embrace, pressed one more time against that warm, solid presence. "Fraser, you know, I - you know...."
"Yeah." There seemed nothing more to say, except to repeat everything that had been between them ever, to say once more things that had already been said a thousand times, and he didn't have to say any of it, because Fraser could speak Ray's thoughts better than he could.
Partners, always. No matter what distance separated them. Ray believed that, believed it with all his heart, and it was that belief that allowed him to let Fraser go. "You want a ride to the airport or anything?"
"No, thank you, Ray. Dief and I will walk." The wolf whined in protest, and Vecchio reached down to give him a long, deep scratch behind his ears.
"Gonna miss you, Dief, buddy. Be sure and write."
"An keep him outta trouble."
Fraser lifted his bag, slung it over his shoulder. "Good-bye, Ray, Ray."
Without any further ceremony, Fraser dropped the sacred Stetson onto his head, held the door for Dief, gave one last wave, and then was gone. Kowalski went immediately to the window, needing one last glimpse of him before he disappeared into the dark Chicago morning. An arm came around his shoulder, rested there - Vecchio.
"We gonna be okay?"
"Yeah, Raymond. We're gonna be okay." Fraser emerged from the building, glanced briefly up at the window, although Ray knew Fraser wouldn't be able to see them in the dark apartment. "I love you, you know."
As Fraser turned and started away, Ray slipped his arm around Vecchio's waist. "That hard to say?"
"Nope. Not when it's true."
"Yeah, me too." The bright red Serge kept Fraser visible long after a more normally dressed person would have faded from sight. But even the Mountie uniform faded to grey, and then to black, and then was gone. Taking a deep breath, Ray turned to face Vecchio, from somewhere deep within him, managed to find a smile. "It's way too early to be awake. Come back to bed with me?"
"Can't think of anywhere else I gotta be."
* * * * *
The sun was rising, sending red-gold fingers of light over the intertwining bodies on the bed. As the light crept forward, it illuminated portions of their crossing bodies, gold against olive, light against dark. Different, and still similar. They did not stir, clinging to each other in sleep with an honest need difficult for both to admit during waking hours. The light brightened, spread, warmed the room for the two slumber-lost lovers, as the Chicago morning opened into the future.
"You know Ray, my father and Buck Frobisher were partners for more than 20 years. Their territory was thousands of miles; sometimes they wouldn't see each other for months. No matter how far apart they were, they always knew that they were partners...."