m/m situation and sex, rated R. Also rated R for a little bit of medical (?) detail near the end of the story.
This story is a sequel to "Questions" and "Advice and its Aftermath", though I don't think you need to have read them to understand what's going on in this one. People just don't stop nagging, and I'm forced to keep writing! I guess I should thank those who nagged me - heh heh. Now for a confession. I actually wrote this story because I rather like Ray's ex-wife and wanted to put her in a story. After that... well, it kinda got away from me. :)
Disclaimer: Of course I didn't create these characters. But I don't deny that I had a lot of fun being possessed by them and writing down what they told me. Don't worry, I'm fine now and so are they. Suing me would be a waste of time, the rand continues to slip against the dollar at a phenomenal rate.
"Benny..." Ray said one night just before they went to sleep, "Don't you ever think we should get our own apartment?"
"But we do have our own apartment, Ray," came the logical answer.
Ray woke up a little more. "No, Benny, this is *your* apartment. Same as if you moved in at my place, it would still be *mine*. I'm talking about making a home of our own." He felt Fraser move restlessly next to him as he pondered what he'd heard.
"Well, that does make sense," he finally said, "but I know you love your family and like living with them."
Ray thought about this. Yeah, get yelled at at the dinner table every night, wait in line for the bathroom every morning... see his nephews and nieces, play with the baby... "I do and I don't, Benny. I love my family, yeah, but Angie and I lived in our own place when we were married, and this is the same thing to me."
"Really?" Fraser asked, almost shyly. "You really think so?"
"Yeah. I love you, Benny. You know that. Just because male marriages aren't legal doesn't mean I don't feel that way about you. This isn't just a fling, Benny. I intend to spend my whole life with you."
"And I with you, Ray." Silence, then. For a long while. Fraser thought Ray had gone back to sleep, but he spoke anyway. "I think you're right, we do need to get our own place."
"Good." So Ray wasn't asleep. But Fraser knew he had more to say, he could... feel it. "Benny... you never wanted... you never wanted to find a church that performs these ceremonies? Go the whole nine yards, whatever?" Ray *didn't* particularly want to do that, but he had to offer it, in case this was something else that Benny wanted. And he tried to give Benny everything he could, to make up for all those years that Benny had been alone, without love. Each time he had done this, he had known that it truly *was* better to give than to receive. The love we give away is the only love we keep. That was true. Taking such a stand would make everything public, but he'd do it if Benny wanted it. But Benny didn't.
"Not particularly," Fraser said. "The people who matter know how we feel. The rest of the world is unimportant in that scheme of things."
Ray *didn't* breathe a sigh of relief, he just thought it. Fraser was right - the people who mattered knew. He snuggled up to his partner. "Goodnight, Benny."
They had found a really nice apartment that was also within walking distance of the Consulate (seven minutes at a brisk walk - Fraser timed himself). Two bedrooms, kitchen, living room, bathroom complete with bath and shower, the whole bit. And now Ray was in the living room arguing with his sister. "I said it must look like a *male* domain, Frannie. The stuff you want all looks girly to me!"
"Ray, I thought you wanted a pleasant environment? What you want looks like something out of a pulp detective novel! I promise I won't embarrass you!"
"Ah, geez! No flowers! On anything! Do you hear me?"
Frannie turned to Fraser. "But you like flowers, don't you, Benton?"
Fraser got that usual deer-in-the-headlights look, torn between telling the truth and loyalty to Ray. "Er... well, actually..."
"Don't you dare say yes, Benny! She'll have roses on the curtains and stuff!"
Fraser just looked at Frannie helplessly, begging her with his eyes to let him off the hook. Francesca got even louder. "And why are *you* deciding all this, huh? Why doesn't Benton get to decide?"
"Because you'll railroad him, that's why! And our apartment will end up looking like your bedroom!"
"What's wrong with my bedroom? Huh?"
"Er..." Fraser put in, stopping the siblings in their tracks. "Look, Francesca, I didn't see the need for this, but I know Ray hates the spartan look my apartment has, so I... agreed to your suggestion. But I don't want to embarrass Ray."
"Well, what do you like, Benton?"
Fraser didn't really care. He could live in a spartan, undecorated rat infested place, he could live in a cabin in the far north; he'd seen Frannie's bedroom and he felt sure it wouldn't bother him in the slightest. It was the people that mattered, not the furnishings. But for Ray, Detective Armani, things like this did matter. He did have his detective image, one that hadn't been tarnished by his relationship with Fraser. Fraser would be quite happy to live in whatever kind of place Ray wanted. And yet he knew that he couldn't say that, because that had already been proven to make Francesca mad. "I... have no opinion," he finally said. "I once lived in a log cabin in the ice and snow. After that, anything will be fine."
"Sure, take his side!" Frannie said.
"I'm not taking sides, Francesca. I just... Look." He tried being reasonable. "Ray's right. He might have colleagues from the station over. Just... be tasteful."
"Gotcha," said Frannie. And when she said that, Ray smiled. He could shout and carry on for hours about how his sister was trying to run his life - but one word from Benny and she'd do whatever Benny wanted. His sister adored Benny. Well, he could understand that.
"Okay, Frannie, you run with Benny's suggestion. We gotta get to work."
Frannie nodded, looking around like a kid in a candy store. She was going to have a lot to do. In fact, she'd hardly been able to believe her luck when her brother had agreed she should decorate this place. But Ray had known two things: one, that Frannie had great taste, and two, there was no way in hell he was going shopping for furnishings with Fraser. Frannie would probably drag Benny on shopping trips, but Benny wouldn't mind. That was fine with Ray, as long as he didn't have to go. Shopping for household accoutrements was for women. Ray knew he was probably being sexist, but too bad. He wouldn't be seen dead in a place that sold furniture and stuff like that.
"C'mon, Benny." Ray walked out of the apartment, followed by Fraser and Dief. When they were in the Riv, Ray turned to his partner. "She'll make you go shopping with her, ya know."
"I know, Ray." Fraser also knew that Ray would never do it.
"Benny... thank you. I know this isn't what you wanted."
"What I want is to be with you, Ray. That's all." He leaned forward to capture Ray's mouth with his own.
The kiss was brief and intense, and Ray forced himself to pull away first. They were still 'in public', here. "Let's get going, Benny, I don't want you to be late. The Dragon Lady might shoot you."
"She's..." Fraser stopped. Thatcher didn't know anything about his relationship with Ray, and for some reason he definitely didn't want her to. But she wasn't stupid; he knew she'd find out eventually. Fraser couldn't continue, he just looked at Ray helplessly.
Ray read Fraser's expression correctly. "You don't want her to know, do ya, Benny?"
"Why not? Just tell me that. You didn't seem to mind when *my* superior officer found out."
What could he say? Only the truth. "Sometimes I feel like I betrayed her. Because... I was attracted to her. I stopped it from going further because of our ranks, but I know she was attracted to me, too. So..."
"Yeah, so it might wound her ego if she finds out you dumped her for a guy? Is that it?" Ray could make it sound so... crude. Cruel.
"I don't think she'd understand, Ray. She can't know that I've loved you since we met, or that I didn't realise it, or that for a while I contemplated..." He paused.
"You contemplated starting something with her, but I got you first," Ray finished for him.
Fraser nodded. "I love you, Ray. But she can be very... unsympathetic."
"I know, Benny. Don't worry, you don't have to say anything to her."
"Thank you kindly," Fraser said, and Ray just smiled. "Let's get to work, huh?"
Finally Francesca was finished. She even had all of their stuff brought round one day while they were at work. And then called the Consulate and Ray, to let them know.
Fraser was waiting outside when Ray arrived to pick him up. "You know, Benny, I'm almost scared to go and look," Ray said. "I'm terrified there are pink roses or something all over everything."
"Francesca promised, Ray. No roses."
"Well, carnations then. Tulips?" Ray laughed at that. Even he couldn't imagine Frannie being that tacky.
"No, Ray." Fraser was smiling too.
"But you saw some of what she bought! You know more!" It was almost a whine.
Fraser, of course, could not be budged. "I promised, Ray."
"Nah, you're just too scared to tell me she's made us look like every stereotype under the sun, that's all."
Ray looked briefly at Benny. "I love you, Benny. Have I said that yet today?"
Fraser didn't smile, but he lowered his voice the way he often did when they made love. "Yes, Ray. Once in bed this morning and once when you dropped me off at the Consulate."
"Oh, well, I guess a few more times won't hurt. I love you, Benny."
"I love you, too, Ray."
"Let's see..." Ray mused, "once while eating breakfast, once while you were climbing out the window to walk Dief."
"That's when you said it to me, Benny."
Ray just smiled wider as they pulled up in front of the new apartment building.
Frannie was waiting for them with a hopeful grin on her face. "So... what do you think?" Fraser knew that she was eager for them to love it, while Ray was completely oblivious to Frannie as he looked around.
"You hate it."
"No! I love it! It looks..."
"A lot like the inside of our house!" she said eagerly.
"Well, yeah. Why?"
"I thought to myself, Frannie, what will be tasteful, please Ray, and show off that red uniform that Benton wears?"
"Oh, so the red uniform was a big consideration, was it?"
"Sort of, yeah."
"Thought so." Ray kissed his sister on the cheek. "It's great, thank you."
Frannie positively glowed. "And you, Benton?"
"It's... very tasteful," Fraser said. "Thank you." And though Ray could tell he didn't want to, Fraser kissed Frannie on the cheek as well.
Thinking to herself that she could die happy now, Francesca gathered her coat.
"Aren't you staying to... talk us through this?" Ray asked.
"Benton knows where I put everything. I don't wanna be in the way." Her tone indicated that she knew just *how* she'd be in the way. "You guys have fun. Bye." And she was out in a flash.
Fraser closed the door behind her, and turned around to find Ray laughing to himself. "Ray?"
"It's so... typical, Benny! Two guys get together, and what do they do? Furnish an apartment! If it wasn't so... so *obvious*, it'd be romantic!"
"Ah." Fraser paused. "I still think it is romantic. I think we should get right into that frame of mind." He grabbed Ray by the coat and pulled him towards him.
Nose to nose they stood, and Ray managed to say, "You do, huh?" just as Fraser kissed him, maneuvering his hands under Ray's coat and jacket and around to the back, feeling lovely warm flesh through Ray's shirt. Ray's mouth opened in response to the kiss, and then Benny's tongue was in his mouth, warming him, and his was in Benny's after that, tasting Benny as he loved to do. Ray began to undo Fraser's tunic at breakneck speed, sliding his hands under it once it was undone, pulling the undershirt out of Fraser's pants, wanting to feel the warmth that Benny always gave to him.
Finally they broke for air, still standing together, touching, each knowing exactly what the other wanted. Their eyes locked, and Fraser reached for the buckle on Ray's belt. "Wait, Benny. The bedroom?"
"Not another ritual, where we have to, er, 'break in' every room?"
"That could take hours."
"Are you saying you don't want to?" Fraser's hand left the front of Ray's pants, where he'd been about to pull down the zipper.
"Hell no!" Ray said, letting his coat and jacket slide off, and undoing the front of Benny's pants faster than he ever had before, plunging his hand inside, touching Benny.
Fraser's hand unsteadily pulled the zip of Ray's pants down, getting stuck twice because he could hardly see straight, let alone think. Finally it was all the way down, and he maneuvered his hand inside Ray's underwear, fingers curling around his friend's desire. "Yes?" he said, in that softer, lowered voice that Ray loved.
"Yeah, Benny... Oh, yeah." And then he leaned forward again so their lips met, sharing their heat and love as they touched each other intimately... having to break apart, though, to accommodate their ragged breathing as first Ray, and then Fraser, let out a low moan and shuddered in his friend's arms, complete.
Finally Ray got his voice back. "Benny, I love you."
Fraser smiled. "That would make it..."
"Who's counting?" Ray asked. He didn't care how many times he said it; the truth was the truth.
"Well, I was, Ray, but... I guess we don't need to. I love you."
And they kissed again, the apartment's living room successfully broken in.
"Benny... we still have a kitchen, bathroom and two bedrooms to do." Ray had an absolutely wicked grin on his face. "But let's take five first, okay?"
"Minutes, Benny. You know, 'take five'. I guess it's just another dumb expression we use."
And Fraser's eyes sparkled with amusement. "I was teasing you, Ray. I know what it means."
"You'll kill me, you know that?" Ray collapsed on the couch, *after* picking up his coat and jacket.
Fraser took off his tunic altogether and joined him, looking around. "Your sister is really talented, Ray."
"Yeah." He paused, thinking. "She's changed towards you, Benny. And not just in that she accepted this, which surprised the hell out of me. I think she's trying to show that you're her brother, too, kinda."
Fraser nodded. "I like your sister. I always did, although she did give me quite a... surprise, that once."
Ray knew exactly what he was talking about. "Are you going to tell me now, Benny? About - you know - whether you slept with her?"
"Of course not, Ray." Ray just looked confused, and Fraser realised why. "I mean, of course I didn't sleep with her. I didn't feel it was appropriate to tell you then, but that's changed. I felt it would have been taking advantage."
"She *wanted* to be taken advantage of, Benny. She even told me. Although I think it's the other way round. She wanted to take advantage of you."
"I'm sure she did, but it wouldn't have been appropriate, for me to sleep with your sister."
"Thank you, Benny."
"For what, Ray? That was a long time ago."
"Just for being you." Ray reached up and touched Fraser's cheek. "I love your eyes."
"Oh, come on, don't say you love mine. Mine are just plain and brown and boring."
"Now that's just not true, Ray." Fraser used his 'logical' voice. "They're wide and expressive and they can be so stormy. I can see what you're feeling just by looking into your eyes..." He trailed off. Ray hadn't moved, but as Fraser had said, he could read what Ray wanted in his eyes.
Ray kept a straight face. "What am I feeling now, Benny?"
"I think you want to... break in the apartment some more."
Ray got up, held out his hand. "Damn right."
So they broke in the entire apartment. After the living room, the second bedroom, then the kitchen, then the bathroom. Actually, they broke in the *shower* more than the bathroom. They'd never been able to take showers at Fraser's place because Fraser's bathroom didn't have a shower and going down the hall to the communal bathroom would have been a bit too much like advertising. They'd managed a couple of showers at Ray's house, but they could only do that when there was no one home... which wasn't often. So this time they took their time, getting all wet and soapy and slippery first, and then making love rather tenderly, considering where they were and that they were being pelted with water the entire time.
The bedroom was the last place, and this was their inner sanctum. It deserved the best housewarming it could get. Fraser, drying his hair on a towel, just stood there, looking at Ray. He didn't say anything, but Ray knew that expression. It was Benny's 'I need you inside me' expression, one which he'd only recently added to his repertoire of gorgeous facial expressions.
Making love this way wasn't exactly high on Ray's list. It could be messy, if you weren't extremely careful it could hurt, and he still had nightmares about cases he'd worked on: blood on the sheets, anatomical descriptions in court, people's horror when they realised just *what* certain terms meant. But Ray also knew that it was the one time when they truly felt a part of each other, when they knew that nothing anyone could do would separate them. And that was a feeling he wouldn't give up for the world. It was also why this was such a rare occurrence: it was too special, and Ray never wanted such an expression of love to become... mundane. So now he stepped forward, not quite close enough to touch his friend, but close enough that he could smell Fraser underneath the scent of bathsoap. "What do you want, Benny?"
"You know what I want, Ray."
"Yeah, I do. But say it anyway. For me."
"I want you to make love to me. Please." Fraser never broke eye contact, and watched as Ray's eyes revealed his pleasure at actually hearing the words.
"C'mon, Benny." Ray went over to the bed, pulling the covers down. Then he stopped. "Er... what about... you know..."
"Here." Fraser handed him a tube he'd fished out of the bedside table.
Ray smiled. "Did you put that there, or..." He trailed off. The thought of his sister arranging such intimate items...
"No, no, I did," Fraser said quickly. "I came over yesterday."
"I thought you worked yesterday?"
"I lied." Fraser looked extremely proud of himself for that.
"You lied? You, Benton Fraser, RCMP, lied?"
"Your sister corrupted me, Ray," Fraser said, his eyes twinkling.
Ray started to laugh. In fact he laughed so much he collapsed onto the bed. "Somebody corrupted you, Benny, but it wasn't my sister."
Fraser got onto the bed as well and leaned over his partner. "I think it was you, Ray, and I'd elect to be corrupted again every time." He kissed Ray then: no pretending to be coy, no holding back, just a complete, open, hard, urgent kiss, his tongue invading Ray's mouth, tasting him, wanting him, wanting him so very badly. He pulled away, looking down into Ray's eyes. "Now, Ray. Make love to me." He turned over, waiting, as Ray squeezed the tube, touching the lubricant to himself, and then into Benny, very slowly. He always did it slowly, never wanting to see blood on any sheets Benny and he had to sleep on. Fraser just relaxed, as much as he could, until it was done.
Ray ran his clean hand down Fraser's back, just absorbing the feel of him, committing it all to memory, then reaching lower with both hands, parting Benny so that he could slide in easily, making them one. And then they were, and Ray lay against Fraser's back very carefully. "Benny? You okay?" he asked, and got the answer he expected.
Ray didn't move just yet. "Let me touch you." He started to move his hand underneath them, but Fraser stopped him. "Not this time, Ray. This is your time, and I'll have mine."
Ray tried not to feel a thrill of anticipation at those words, knowing that despite his fears he *did* want Benny to make love to him as well, that he *did* like making love to Benny this way. That thought was enough to make him move into and against Benny, carefully at first, and then more quickly, reaching the edge faster than he ever had before. Perhaps it was because he wasn't expending thought and energy touching Benny at the same time... he didn't know. All he knew was that he loved this man, and being a part of him was the most wonderful experience they could ever have... He crashed over the edge, calling Benny's name, feeling their souls collide...
A little while later, Fraser moved away, still being careful, and turned over to reach up and take Ray into his arms. "I need you, Ray."
"I know, Benny," Ray whispered. "Same here." He could hardly keep his eyes open, but he wanted Benny to have his time, as well. "Benny..."
"Ssshhh, Ray. Go to sleep. I'm here, and I'm not going anywhere."
Fraser just stroked Ray's neck and back, until he drifted off, aware that he wanted Benny to have the same gift he'd received.
The doorbell ringing the next morning - a weekend, thank goodness, or they would have both hopelessly overslept - woke Fraser first. Ray just pulled the covers over his head and mumbled, "Take my gun, Benny. Just shoot whoever it is."
"It might be your mother," Fraser pointed out.
"Well, you don't have to shoot her. But make her go away."
"Understood." Fraser opened a drawer and found a robe to put on. He didn't normally wear such things, but Ray had insisted he get one. Looked like Ray had been right after all.
Fraser opened the door without looking, thinking it was indeed Ray's mother. She occasionally visited them on Saturdays, bringing breakfast. This had started when Ray had started staying at Benny's for entire weekends. Fraser knew she was concerned that they'd starve if left on their own. And she might not be wrong, either.
But it wasn't Ray's mother on the other side of the door. Fraser found himself looking into the face of Ray's ex-wife.
And he knew he probably looked shocked, but not as shocked as Angie did. She opened her mouth, and her voice came out sounding rather... high. "Oh... um... is Ray here? His mother gave me the address." She hefted a large cardboard box she was carrying.
"Yes. Please come in." Fraser was polite, as usual, taking it from her and placing it on the floor next to the coffee table. "I'll go and tell Ray you're here. Would you like some coffee?" He hoped he remembered where Frannie had put the coffee.
"Um... yeah, thank you."
"Be right back."
Fraser went towards the bedroom, intending to wake Ray. But Ray came out of the room looking all tousled and cute, wearing only a pair of boxer shorts. Which weren't even his, but he'd fished them out of a drawer and put them on while half asleep. "Ma, you're going to overfeed..." He stopped as he finally got his eyes all the way open, and stared at the woman who used to be his wife. "Ange??"
Ray looked at Fraser in a panic. Fraser just said, "I'll go make coffee." And he went into the kitchen.
"Uh..." Ray noticed that he was wearing Benny's underwear. He knew very well that Angie knew he never wore boxer shorts. "Lemme go put a robe on. Hang on." He quickly grabbed one in the bedroom and came back out.
"What do you want, Ange?" He said it kindly; Angie knew he wasn't trying to be nasty.
Angie indicated the box. "I was cleaning out the storeroom in our old place," she said. She had continued living there while Ray had moved back home after their divorce. "I came across some of your stuff. Some old casebooks, mementoes, some of your colourful 'nick-knacks' that I wouldn't let you display in our home? Anyway, I thought you might want it, so..."
"Thanks, Ange." Ray smiled his open, happy smile, forgetting for a minute that he and Benny had probably shocked the hell out of Angie this morning.
"Yeah, well..." She smiled back. "It belongs to you, not me."
Just then Fraser came in, carrying three cups of coffee. Angie was petting Diefenbaker, who seemed to be enjoying the attention.
"Here you are." He handed her a cup, and then one to Ray, drinking his but remaining standing.
Angie drank hers a lot faster than she really needed to, but she felt very uncomfortable. Though neither Ray nor Fraser had said anything, she knew from just looking at them what was going on. It confused her, and she just wanted to be out of there.
"Thanks for the coffee..." She didn't know Fraser's first name.
"Benton," he supplied.
"Benton," she said, getting up. "I gotta go. I just came by to give Ray his stuff back."
"Yeah, okay, Ange." Ray leaned over and kissed her on the cheek. She seemed to accept that as Ray opened the door for her. "Bye, Ange."
"Bye." She left still looking rather confused.
Ray closed the door and went to sit on the couch wearily. "That could have gone better," he said.
"You didn't want her to know, did you, Ray?"
And Ray realised he was having the same reaction that Fraser had had with regard to the Dragon Lady. "No, I didn't, Benny. Like you said, I feel like I betrayed her."
"But you haven't been married for years, Ray."
"I know that. I just... I don't wanna hurt her, Benny. I'm scared this hurts her."
"You could always go talk to her."
"Nah, I don't think so. If she wants to know something, she'll ask Frannie. They got on quite well, before."
"All right." Fraser got up, undoing the robe. "We fell asleep last night, Ray, before..." He trailed off, invitingly.
"I know, Benny. I'm sorry. It was a long day at the precinct, you know?"
"I know, Ray. But now we have a whole day to ourselves."
Ray just grinned. "But I'm actually hungry for food now. Why don't you go walk Dief, I'll see what there is to eat. After a shower."
"All right." Fraser went into the bedroom and put on a pair of jeans and one of his usual flannel shirts, listening to the water sounds from the bathroom. As he opened to front door to leave with his wolf, he found Angie standing there holding a basket. "Oh! I'm sorry, Benton. Ray's mom asked me to drop this off. It's breakfast, and I nearly forgot."
"Thank you kindly, Angela."
"Angie. Just Angie."
"Thank you kindly, *Angie*." Fraser took the basket and put it on the dining table in the corner of the living room.
"You goin' somewhere?"
"Just for a walk with my wolf. He gets... annoying if he doesn't get enough exercise."
"Oh. I see." Angie paused, not sure what to say next. "Um... Benton, do you mind if I walk with you?"
"Not at all. Let me just tell Ray about the food." He went into the bathroom and briefed Ray - on the food only, not on the fact that Ray's ex-wife wanted to have a heart-to-heart (or so it seemed) with him. He'd tell him about it after the fact.
They strolled along, Fraser waiting for Angie to say something. Finally, she did. "That's definitely what I think it is, isn't it?" she asked.
"You and Ray. You're..."
"How... I mean, when..." She trailed off. This was very difficult. "I'm sorry, I know I have no right to interfere in Ray's life. We were over a long time ago. It's just... I care about him, y'know? I don't want him to get hurt." Another long pause. "I still love him, I guess. Not... the way you love a husband, not anymore, but I want him to be happy."
Fraser wondered what to say to that. He knew Ray loved Angie, too, would always love her - not the way you love a wife, true, but maybe more like he loved his sisters. "I promise I'll never hurt Ray, Angie. I love him, too."
"Okay." She stopped and smiled up at Fraser. "He does seem happy."
"We both are."
But Fraser sensed that there was another question in there somewhere, something he wouldn't like. He was right. "Benton... do you think that maybe that's why our marriage didn't work? Because... you know."
"No, I don't." He was very definite about it. "Until we fell in love, neither of us entertained one thought about other men." Fraser felt pretty sure he could speak for Ray, here. "I know it doesn't make sense, but I just realised one day that I loved Ray, and I think the same thing happened to him."
Angie just nodded.
"Ray feels as if he betrayed you, somehow; that his being with me hurts you." He had to know if that was the truth.
"No, it's fine, I understand."
"Yeah." She smiled, a little too brightly, but Fraser could tell it was sincere. "Just make him happy, Benton. That's all I want."
When Fraser got back to the apartment, Ray had finished his shower and unpacked the breakfast. His mother had made enough for five people, which was in actuality a *good* thing, because they could save it for Sunday breakfast, and maybe Monday as well. They tucked in with great relish, the sparkle never leaving Fraser's eyes. Ray knew why that was, and he wasn't surprised when Fraser finished eating much faster than he usually did. But when Fraser was finished he said, "Ray... I spoke with Angie, outside."
Ray was surprised. "You did?"
"Yes. She wanted to make sure we were what she thought. And I asked her your question - whether this hurts her. She said she understood."
Ray nodded. "Good. Seeing her there at the door this morning... kinda freaked me out, Benny. I mean, I lived with Angie, intimately. We discussed having kids... the whole bit. And then things went wrong, and we never got back what we once had. And I've always been sorry about that, and I've never, ever wanted to hurt her."
"She knows, Ray. She loves you."
"She said that?"
"Yes. Not like a husband, but she does love you."
"I know. I love her, too. She's more like a member of my family now."
"I like her, Ray."
"I knew you would, Benny." And they just sat there, smiling at each other for a while.
Unfortunately for them, this was a day for surprises. Just as they finished packing up the remains of breakfast, the doorbell rang again. "Who the hell can it be now?!" Ray fumed, slamming the dishwasher closed. (Fraser had been shocked that Ray had even *bought* a dishwasher.) "I swear, Benny, this is a conspiracy. Everyone we know has decided to come and see our version of wedded bliss or something."
"It could be Francesca."
"Get my gun, Fraser. I'll shoot her this time."
But even as Fraser spoke, Ray had gone into the living room and answered the door. And who should it be, but the Dragon Lady herself. "Uh-oh," was all Ray could get out.
And Inspector Thatcher got to use Angie's opening. "Oh! Uh... is Constable Fraser here?" She probably already had the wrong... well, the *right* idea, since Ray hadn't bothered to dress; he'd just pulled Fraser's boxer shorts and his robe back on. Why bother with dressing? It wasn't like they were going to keep their clothes on for a long time, anyway.
Ray pondered what to do. Just yell for Benny? Go get him? But he was saved from both those options when Fraser came out of the kitchen, holding up an apron that said, 'Kiss the cook'. "Ray, your sister must have..." He trailed off, staring at Thatcher. "Oh, dear."
Thatcher regained her composure very quickly. "Constable, you're needed at the Consulate."
"I have this weekend off, ma'am."
"I realise that, Fraser, but Turnbull took ill and everyone else seems to have disappeared." Her tone of voice was icy; Fraser felt sorry for the others, who would certainly get it from Thatcher when they returned. "And you still don't have a phone," she continued.
"We just moved in," said Ray, then winced. 'We'. Well, it *was* obvious. "I do have a cellphone," he told Thatcher.
"I tried it," she said, staring daggers at Ray. "*Someone* turned it off."
Fraser desperately wanted to turn around and say, "Ray, you didn't!" but he restrained himself. He knew Ray had; in fact, he remembered the exact second when Ray had turned off the phone. "I'll go and change, ma'am."
"Good. I'll be downstairs." And she turned on her heel and left.
Ray turned to Fraser. "Who else doesn't know? What do you bet they all show up today. The line can form at our front door. Or we can print flyers, 'COP AND MOUNTIE ARE SLEEPING TOGETHER'! Or do skywriting!"
"That's just silly, Ray."
"Yeah, the two women we didn't want to know show up within half an hour of each other. Coincidence, Benny?"
"Well, Ray, there have been cases of amazing coincidences. For example, did you know there was a man who was struck by lightning several times in the same spot over several decades? The odds against that are..."
"Benny, just shut up, okay? I don't wanna know."
"All right." Fraser went into the bedroom and put his uniform on, then stopped at the door to kiss his friend. "Ray, don't go to the precinct today. Stay here and rest."
Ray realised that no one, not even his family, knew him as well as Benny did. Without Benny, he *would* have gone. But now he'd stay, because Benny had asked him to. "Yeah, okay."
"Don't let Diefenbaker eat anything that isn't nutritional."
"That's asking too much, Benny," Ray smiled, as Fraser left.
For once, Thatcher was sitting in the driver's seat, and when he got in she simply started the car and pulled into the traffic, not once looking at him. The silence continued until finally Fraser couldn't stand it anymore. "Ma'am, can I assume you're not talking to me?"
She still didn't look at him. "When I have something to say to you, I'll say it, Constable."
"That isn't what I meant, and you know it."
"I... you..." She slammed on the brakes and turned to him. "You could have told me."
"Told you what, exactly, Sir?" Fraser was acutely aware of cars behind them, and loud curses from the drivers. "Perhaps we should be going."
"Fine." They continued on the road for a few minutes, and then Thatcher burst out, "You could have told me I didn't have a chance." She concentrated on driving, not wanting to see the truth in those blue eyes.
"But that wouldn't have been true, not then," Fraser said.
"During the incident with Bolt and the nuclear catastrophe that we averted."
"You kissed me, Fraser." What harm could it do to mention it now?
"I kissed you," he admitted.
"I wanted to."
"I love Ray."
They didn't speak again because they had arrived at the Consulate; only when they reached her office did Thatcher continue. "And when exactly did this happen?"
"A while ago. I... we... It isn't easy to explain, ma'am." The formality was back in his tone. Finally he just said, "We realised the truth."
"And you're going to spend the rest of your life with a Chicago policeman?"
"Yes, if it's at all possible."
"There are no laws against this in Canada, Fraser, but you might still be in for a difficult time."
"I'm aware of that, ma'am. And I'll take the risk."
"We could have been good together, Fraser," Thatcher said, her last personal comment to Fraser, ever.
"I know," he replied, his last personal revelation to Meg Thatcher, ever. She would *not* be unsympathetic, as they'd thought. In fact, in the future she would simply behave as Fraser's superior: no more, and no less. And Fraser and Ray would someday realise they'd both underestimated her.
Ray was watching a baseball game on TV when Fraser arrived back at the apartment. "How was your day, Ray?"
"Like you said, Benny, I rested. Though I gotta tell you, it felt strange to be doing nothing."
"Everyone needs to relax sometime."
"How'd it go with the Dragon Lady?"
Fraser sat down next to Ray, gaining comfort from his body heat. "She didn't take it very well," he said. That was how it had seemed to him; but in fact Thatcher had taken it much better than he'd thought she would. She hadn't even yelled.
"Did you expect her to?"
"Not really, no. I thought it would hurt her, and it did."
"Benny, you aren't responsible for her happiness."
"I know, Ray. She... she said that we could have been good together."
Ray just grunted to show he was listening. But when Fraser didn't continue he sat up a bit straighter and looked into his eyes with concern. "And then?"
"I said, 'I know.'" He looked away, ashamed of that admission.
"I shouldn't be thinking that way, not when I have you. I did... I kissed her, once. And I thought about... well, you know. But I shouldn't..."
"Benny." Ray turned off the TV and sat up straight so he could look at Fraser in all seriousness. "Did you feel anything today? Get the urge to kiss her? Throw her on the desk and have your way with her?"
"Ray!" Fraser was quite shocked.
"Of course not. I love you."
"Then stop beating yourself up about it, Benny. It's the same as me feeling bad thinking I could have worked things out with Angie, or Lorraine. Those are only maybe's. What we have is a certainty."
Fraser smiled, and it seemed to Ray that the room lit up. "When did you get so smart, Ray?"
"I've been around the smartest guy on the planet for too long, that's how."
"I love you, Ray." And then Fraser kissed him. Not a chaste, quick kiss, but the kiss he'd wanted to give Ray this morning, before they'd been interrupted. Ray just let it happen, experiencing it, wanting to savour each and every moment as Fraser's tongue explored his mouth, tasting him, filling him with a fierce need, a new one that he'd just started to learn about. Their arms were around each other then, as Ray clutched Fraser to him with complete possessiveness, knowing that this was going to be Benny's time. And he wanted it, wanted it so badly that he wasn't sure whether he was thinking straight anymore; whether he was saying the words aloud for the first time, or just thinking them. No more euphemisms... but had he actually said it?
Fraser heard, "Benny... I want you... inside me." That statement went straight to Fraser's groin, and he pushed himself against Ray even harder, indicating his total agreement with that idea. "Bedroom, Ray," he whispered, that voice doing things to Ray that no one else's ever had.
"No. Here. I want you to make love to me right here." Ray didn't know why; they'd broken the living room in already. All he knew was, he had to have Benny this way, in this place.
"All right." Fraser got up anyway, causing Ray to reach out for him in almost a panic. "I'm just going into the bedroom. We need..." Some things still could not be said.
"Hurry, Fraser." Almost before he was finished saying it, Fraser was back in the room, tossing him the tube of lubricant, flinging his tunic off, undoing his pants...
And Ray watched, mesmerised, forgetting that he was still fully dressed, as Benny suddenly stood naked before him. "Ray?"
"Oh, yeah." Ray stood up, but his hands were shaking so much with anticipation, with this *wanting*, that he couldn't get anything off. Fraser had to do it, which just gave him the opportunity to touch Ray each time he undid a button, to kiss him and taste him and smell him, and...
"Ray, I..." His throat closed up.
"You want it badly, huh, Benny?" Ray's face had a wicked smile on it. Still strange, after all this time, to see his friend in this state, to know what he wanted, what they were going to do. Strange, and the most arousing thing in the world.
Benny couldn't even meet his eyes. "Yes, Ray."
"Well, you know what to do, Benny." Ray went and deliberately lay face-down, pillowing head on his arms on the arm of the couch, waiting.
And Fraser needed no more encouragement than that; with almost superhuman speed he applied the lubricant to Ray and himself, the urgency making him just a little less gentle than usual. And then he was positioned for entry, and lying against Ray's back, and moving into him with an urgency he hadn't known he possessed. And he couldn't think why this should be, but he was beyond caring, feeling Ray beneath him and around him, and remembering Ray inside him... Everything came rushing together at once, overloading all his senses, and he called Ray's name, spilling himself into his friend in a warm gush. Then it was over and he collapsed right on top of Ray.
Ray moved a little, saying, "Er... Benny... not that this isn't great, but you weigh more than I do."
As if from a distance Fraser remembered how to work his limbs, and he parted from Ray, lying more to the side, so that Ray could lie sandwiched against him. But he couldn't look into Ray's eyes. He kept his eyes closed, ashamed.
"Benny, what is it?"
"I... I've never lost control like that before, Ray. I hurt you, didn't I?"
Ray only smiled. "I'd like to see you lose control like that more often."
"Ray! This isn't funny. What if..." And he looked down. "Oh, no. No!" Blood. Not much, but there, on his own skin, was Ray's blood. He reached behind Ray, touching carefully, and came away with blood on his fingers. He had to scramble *over* Ray to get off the couch, but he did it in one movement, it seemed, and then he rushed into the bathroom and threw up.
Ray came running into the bathroom right behind him. "Fraser!"
Fraser just sat there on the bathroom floor, staring at the blood on his hand. Ray sat down next to him, trying to dislodge the other hand from its grip on the toilet bowl. "Fraser! Benny, talk to me!"
Finally, Fraser lifted his head and met Ray's eyes, seeing nothing but love there. "I did hurt you," he said in a whisper, looking away again.
"Just a little," Ray said soothingly. He didn't add that he'd figured it was bound to happen sooner or later. He'd been hoping for later.
"A little!" Fraser's voice cracked. "You call *this* a little?" He held up his hand.
"Yeah, I call that a little!" He shook Benny rather violently. "Benny, I knew what could happen. I went into this with my eyes wide open. So did you. The minute you saw that stuff in Carol what's-her-face's medical book, you knew."
"Thompson. Doctor Carol Thompson," corrected Fraser absently.
"We both knew, Benny. She told you, and she offered to help, remember."
Fraser shook his head. "It was my fault. I... It was that talk with the Inspector, I..."
Ray cut him off. "I understand, Benny."
"No, you don't, Ray, I wanted... I love you, and I didn't want you to doubt that. *I* didn't want to doubt it. And look what happened."
Ray sighed and pulled Benny into his arms. "Benny, I know. Believe me, I do know, really."
"How can you even look at me?" Fraser wanted to know.
"Because you didn't do anything wrong, Benny. You just wanted me too bad. I can understand that. You didn't hold back this time. I'm glad about that, and I won't pretend I'm not. You keep things bottled up too much, Benny. It's not good for you." Ray couldn't believe he was saying this. *This* was the reason he'd been skittish in the first place. But he knew they had needed to do this; no sense in pretending otherwise. And all Ray wanted to do now was reassure Benny.
"This is wrong, Ray. This is..."
Fraser using the word "wrong" about anything they did made Ray very angry. He got up from the floor and literally *yelled*. "Don't you ever say that! You hear me! I love you, and we'll get through this if I have to handcuff you to the towel rail and yell at you the entire night!"
That did seem to get through. "Ray... I don't know if I can forgive myself."
Ray sat down again, drained. "Benny... you'll have to. Because I want to do this again. I *like* being inside you, and... I know you might not believe this, but I like it when you're inside me, okay?"
Fraser just shook his head.
"We can wait as long as you like, Benny. I don't care about the waiting. I just don't want to lose you."
Fraser stared at his partner, seeing the panic in Ray's eyes, the thought that this might make Fraser leave. Fraser knew he'd never leave; he might as well jump off a cliff - his life would be over without Ray. But this... how could he forgive himself? "You know I'll never leave, Ray. I just... how can I forgive myself?"
"You'll have to, Benny. Because I don't even think there's anything to forgive." He stood up. "Come on. Wash up, and then we go see the doc, okay?"
Relief flooded Benny's handsome features. "Yes, Ray."
It was Ray who had to explain things to Carol Thompson; Fraser just stood there, his face red with embarrassment, as Ray explained the, er, problem. "I'll take a quick look. Come into the examination room, Detective."
"Sure." He looked at Fraser. He'd expected Benny to want to come with him, but this time the Mountie just sat there in Carol's office and said nothing as they went through.
When the door was closed, Carol turned to Ray. "He knew intellectually, but he didn't think it would happen, did he?"
"No. And now it's killing him."
"And did he hurt you as much as he seems to think?"
"No. Just a little, like I told him. He doesn't believe me."
"Uh huh. Take off your pants and get up there." Ray did as instructed; Carol continued to talk as she went to work. She knew it would make Ray less self-conscious - because she also knew the detective wouldn't be here if Fraser hadn't freaked out so much.
"So, you guys moved into an apartment, huh?"
"How -- " began Ray, but she laughed. "Seems everybody in the neighbourhood knows about the Mountie. That's what they call him, you know. 'The Mountie.' Someone saw you two carrying boxes out of that old building he lived in."
"Yeah, we did."
"Then that's all that really needs to be said, isn't it?"
"Try telling that to Fraser," Ray said, sighing.
"It was only three boxes," Ray said then, interrupting the doctor's train of thought.
"Three boxes. That's all Benny had. Clothes, some eating utensils, a lamp and some books."
Carol smiled, although Ray couldn't see that. "Okay, you can get up now."
"So, what's the verdict?"
"Minor tear, that's all. No 'doctoring' even required, only a little disinfectant."
Ray sighed with relief; he hadn't even known that he'd been worried. He opened his mouth. "Tell..."
"...Fraser that. I know. And I will."
And she did. Fraser looked doubtfully at Ray, but Ray only smiled at him. "Told ya it was okay, Benny."
"Are you sure?" Fraser asked Carol.
She grinned. "Trust me, I'm a doctor."
"Why don't I find that reassuring?"
Carol and Ray burst out laughing, and Fraser knew he'd stumbled onto yet another American cliche of some sort.
When they got back to the apartment, Ray was suddenly all over Fraser. "Ray, what are you doing?"
"What do you think I'm doing, Benny? I'm gonna rip your clothes off and make mad, passionate love to you."
"Okay, no more of *that* for a while, I know. But we've proven there're lots of other ways to make mad, passionate love. Maybe we can even come up with a few new ones."
"I doubt that, Ray. I once came across this book..." Ray silenced Fraser by kissing him.
"This is the only way you're ever gonna believe that I don't hold a grudge, Benny," he whispered hotly, "that I can prove I love you, and I want you in my bed. So lemme do this for you, okay?"
"It's *our* bed, Ray."
"I knew that." Ray grinned his goofiest smile, and Fraser found himself returning it.
"I love you, Ray. I love you so much. The thought that I hurt you..."
"We knew the risks and we took our chances. I like the fact that you wanted me so bad you lost control. But I *let* you, Benny. Never forget that. I encouraged you. And I'm gonna do all I can to ensure that you lose control this time, too. You need it, Benny. Don't pretend you don't."
For those fleeting moments before he'd seen the blood, Fraser had to admit that he had felt good - free, almost. But then Ray had been a liberating influence on him right from the start. He needed to be liberated; Ray was right. And he wanted Ray to be free in his loving as well. So he just said, "You're right, Ray. But you hold back sometimes, too. Don't. I need you to love me with everything you are."
"Don't worry, Benny, I will. As long as you do."
"You know I will, Ray."
And they did. They shared their inner selves and desires with one another, and found that together they would always be stronger than when they were alone.
They were beautiful together. And when, finally, they lay together in *their* bed, Ray said, "No holding back, Benny. On anything. We made it through this. Besides, how could I go wrong with Superman next to me?"
Fraser just smiled sleepily. "I'm not Superman, Ray."
"Just myself, and I feel privileged to be loved by you."
"I'm privileged, Benny."
They fell asleep a little while after that, still 'discussing' who was the more privileged. There was someone else, though, who felt even more privileged. Diefenbaker had managed to eat all food the pair had left on the table that morning.