Disclaimer: Alliance owns Vecchio, Kowalski, Stella, Diefenbaker, Fraser, Welsh, Huey and Dewey. Just using them for my own perverse pleasure. 'Gave Up' and 'Suck' was written by Trent Reznor. 'Physical' was written by Adam Ant. Title of the series comes from the song of the same name by Sarah McLachlan. All used here without permission, no infringement intended This started out as a short therapy story and then it became a confession. THANK YOU to Eugenie, who has the patience of a saint. If it weren't for her, I never would have gotten this far. ***WARNING: NC-17 (just to be safe) FOR MALE/MALE SEXUAL SITUATIONS, H/C, ANGST, and HARSH LANGUAGE. IF YOU ARE UNDERAGE OR M/M SEX BOTHERS YOU: GO BACK, LEAVE NOW, WALK ON, BUG OFF. Thank you kindly. **** Series: Path of Thorns Between the Lines by Rae ******************** Perfect little dream the kind that hurts the most forgot how it feels well almost no one to blame always the same open my eyes wake up in flames -- from 'Gave Up' by Trent Reznor / Ray Vecchio's back. Fraser's happy. He and Vecchio have been laughing and joking around all week. I don't really know where that leaves me. I'm happy that Fraser's happy, but other than that I'm......empty. Can't begin to describe what this feels like. I went to lunch alone for the first time in a long time. It was weird. I sat there and I looked around at all these people. So many people. Wander why I never noticed before. Before, it was just me and Fraser. A duet. Most of the time, we were the only two people in the world. Now, I'm kind of.....I'm the only one left. I'm watching all these people. I'm just an observer. Not a part of this life, I just tune in to it like a television show. Can't turn it off when I want to, that's the only problem. Detached, I guess, would be the word. Isolated. Ben was my anchor. Without him, I'm pretty much floating. I can't tell him how I feel. Don't want to. Don't want to be a pain in the ass. Stella always said that was one of my biggest problems; I'm just too damn clingy. Could've talked to Stella. Could have. But now she's sort of dating Vecchio and I can't take my problems to her. I've got my own life back now. That's a plus. I think. Truth is, I like Vecchio's life better. He's got his mum and his sisters and his brother-in-law. I got my folks.....well, not really 'cause they moved back to Arizona. I had Fraser. Had. Vecchio's got Fraser. So I guess that just leaves me. Wow. It really is lonely out here. Haven't felt this way since the divorce. Funny thing is I've been here before, but I don't remember it hurting this much. I'm a replacement for Ray Vecchio. Told myself that. Keep telling myself that, but somehow I still resent the bastard for coming back and reclaiming his life. I was getting comfortable. That is my own fault. I dropped my guard. Should have been more careful. Maybe it's time to pack up and leave. Get on with my life. I just wish Fraser would......./
Constable Benton Fraser slowly closed the journal. /If I would what? /, he thought, /Why didn't he finish? / He turned and looked at the man who was dozing fitfully on the couch. Detective Ray Kowalski was stretched out at an odd angle, with one foot up on a throw pillow, the other hanging just above the ground. He cradled an empty bottle Johnnie Walker in his arm as if it were a stuffed toy. Ben sighed and ran his fingers through his dark hair. He had had no idea that his partner felt this way. He had taken note that Ray seemed aloof from him lately, slipping out for lunch without a word and leaving work in much the same manner, without bothering to say goodnight. In all the excitement he'd neglected to pursue the matter. Until now. And 'now', somehow, felt too late. He shouldn't have read the journal, that much he knew. It had been lying open on the table when he arrived and he'd seen his name. The temptation was too great. Part of him was glad he had read it. At least now he knew what was going on in Ray's head. The blond would never have come to him on his own.
Ben went to where his partner slept and squatted beside the couch. He pulled the bottle from Kowalski's unresisting grasp and set it aside. The detective mumbled softly, but then settled again. Fraser gripped his shoulder and shook him gently. "Ray. Ray. Ray." The American awoke with a start, pulling away from the Mountie. "Ray! It's me." Still somewhat disoriented, it took a moment for recognition to replace the confusion in the detective's glacier blue eyes. He relaxed finally, lithe body uncurling from the defensive posture it had taken on, but he maintained distance from his friend's hands. "Whadaya doing here, Frase?", he asked. The bitter tone in his partner's voice stung the Mountie deeper than he would let the other man see. "Lieutenant Welsh asked me to check on you. You didn't show up for work. He tried your home and cell phone to no avail." Ray's eyes widened. He reached out to pull his watch from his coat pocket. "Oh, shit! I gotta get down there." He tried to get up, but was pushed down by the Canadian. "Fraser!", he yelped, falling back. "You're in no condition to go to the precinct today. You're still disoriented from your recent alcohol consumption and--" "I can't call in drunk!", the blond snapped. "Now, lemme up!" Ben kept his hand pressed firmly against the detective's chest as he struggled. "Ray! I am not going to let you go." Kowalski ceased fighting then and slumped in his seat, breathing hard. It alarmed Ben at how quickly the usually energetic blond tired without so much of a fight. He squatted in front of his partner and placed his hand on Ray's knee. "I haven't seen much of you lately.", he said. The blond shrugged. "Been busy. Working." "I see." "You see." He scoffed. "Anyway, with Vecchio being back, I figured you didn't want me tagging along. Felt like a fifth wheel." Fraser frowned. "You are not a fifth wheel. I find your company very pleasant. And I have missed it." Ray turned his head, muttering something that sounded like, 'could've fooled me.' "I beg your pardon?", Ben asked. "Nothin'." Kowalski's brow furrowed. "You know what's funny? I thought I left that journal open." Fraser followed his friend's gaze to the table where the book lay. He sighed, "I have a confession to make, Ray." Without warning, the detective pushed him away and stood up unsteadily. "I'll bet you do.", he muttered, moving away from Fraser ungracefully. He nearly stumbled once and Ben reached out his hand, taking a step toward his friend. Ray caught his balance and made a gesture that warned the Mountie to stay away. "Don't need your help.", he growled. Ben could see his partner's dangerous temper being to awaken. "I don't think you understand, Ray--" "Yer not a fifth wheel, Ray.", he mimicked sarcastically, "I find yer company *pleasant.* " He spat the last word. Fraser sighed. "Ray--" "I do not need yer fucking sympathy, you condescending son of a bitch.", he snapped viciously. Ben watched quietly as his partner stalked into the kitchen and opened up another Johnnie Walker. He watched quietly as Ray locked his lips to the bottle and threw his head back, swallowing gulp after gulp. "What is this going to solve?", he asked gently, careful to keep his voice neutral. The American slammed the bottle back on the counter. "It solves everything!", he replied, voice rasping. "Get the hell out of my apartment. It's the only thing I have left that is still mine." Fraser saw the tears beginning to rise. He felt the sting of tears behind his own eyes. He needed this man so badly. He wanted to speak, but was at a loss for words. The situation was.... dangerous. Trying to reason with Ray in this state was like walking through a minefield. A wrong word and he could loose what little faith Ray had left in him as a friend. But his silence was not helping either. If anything, it was widening the gulf already between them. "I'm sorry.", he whispered. Ray stared at him blankly. "Assignment's over, 'kay? You don't have to be nice anymore." "You are my friend and my partner." "No. Vecchio is your friend and partner. I'm just.......I am exactly what I've always been, just a replacement. Some things never change." "I did not tell you that I enjoyed your company because I was trying to make you happy, Ray.", he responded sternly. "You know how I feel about flattery. It is cheap and undignified. I told you I enjoyed your company, because it is true. These past few days, I have missed our conversations and the sound of your voice." Kowalski glared at him as steadily as he could manage through his alcoholic haze. "You missed Vecchio." It was not a question. The Mountie nodded. "You're right. I did. He is my friend, but so are you." "I wish I could believe you, buddy." The detective's tough facade was beginning to show deep cracks. "Why can't you, Ray?" Kowalski looked down, his face flushing. "Because.....I can't be..." He took a shaky breath. "I can't be thrown away again, Frase." Ben walked into the kitchen. As he neared Kowalski, the blond backed away. He got no further than four steps and he was cornered. Ben took his friend's face in his hands. "Look at me.", he whispered. The blond blinked twice, but his eyes remained downcast. "Ray, look at me.", Ben said again, more firmly. Ray raised his gaze slowly until it was locked to Fraser's. "I missed Ray Vecchio and I'm very happy to see him again. But I have neglected *our* friendship and for that I have no excuse. You are my partner and you're my friend. Nothing will ever change how I feel about you. Do you understand?" A thin smile appeared on Ray's lips. "Yeah." He sounded relieved, though not completely convinced. Ben frowned suddenly, remembering. "Why didn't you come to me?", he asked. His partner blinked, apparently caught offguard. "I, uh, dunno. Didn't want to be a pest. You seemed so happy with Vecchio. I didn't want to be a burden.", he replied, choking slightly on his words. In his own ears, he sounded childish and petty. Fraser, on the hand, seemed genuinely concerned about Ray's line of thinking. "You could never be a burden to me. I need to know when you are hurt, Ray." He gestured to the bottle. "Please don't do this again. I couldn't bear it if anything happened to you." The smile on Kowalski's lips grew, brightening his weary features. Ray closed his eyes as Fraser brushed his tears away. He found comfort in the feel of the Mountie's hands, the tenderness with which they caressed him. He took a step forward, pressing into the touch. This gesture of trust was heartbreaking to Ben and he wanted now, more than ever to protect him from the outside world. Fraser pulled the American to him and wrapped his arms tightly around the smaller man. Ray's arms moved to encircle his partner's waist, fingers curling into his tunic. Though he dared not say it, Ben was terrified for his Ray. The street tough exterior that the detective hid behind was paper-thin. In their time together Fraser had seen that wall crumble more than once. Behind it, Ray was innocent, frail. The slightest act of cruelty could shatter him. Ben held Ray until the feeling of terror subsided and then he kissed his partner's forehead lovingly. This sent a shiver through both men, which raised the hairs on the back of their necks. Ray tilted his head up slightly. He could feel the heat of Ben's breath against his lips. Fraser stroked his partner's cheek. "Ray..." Their lips brushed, but then parted before they could seal in a kiss. Again, brush and part. Fraser swallowed. He could hear, he could feel the pounding of Ray's heart and felt that same beat echoed within his own chest. He ran his thumb over his partner's quivering lower lip, but still the American's eyes remained closed. Trembling Ben pressed his lips to his friend's. Kowalski's mouth opened beneath his. Gentle. Tender. Soft. Need for air finally separated them. Ray's eyes opened slowly and meeting Ben adores gaze, he smiled. This simple gesture set off a bright spark of emotion inside the Mountie, touched a place deep down. He sighed happily as his partner settled against him, nuzzling his jaw. "Frase?" Ray tilted his head slightly. Flames, flames, flames. Ben's body was on fire, the heating rising within him. He knew what Ray was asking and wanted it. /Why did I wait so long? How could I not have realized? I want Ray in every way a human being can have another. Heart, body, soul. / His eyes must have betrayed his desire, because suddenly the detective was kissing him again. At some point Ben's body must have gone into autopilot, because when his brain finally caught up, he was lying on the bed. Ray straddled him, running his hands up and down the Mountie's still clothed chest. "Ray...", Fraser murmured. The American smiled. "Tell me what you want, Ben.", he whispered. Fraser licked his lips, trying to think. The heat of Ray's body, the weight of him, was overwhelming. "Show me yourself.", he managed. In his own ears it made no sense, but his partner understood. Kowalski pulled his shirt over his head, displaying his slender body for his soon-to-be lover's eyes. Ben moaned. Again his body picked up where the mind left off and he wrapped his arms around the detective's waist and pulled him down onto the bed.
Ray awoke sluggishly, his slender body arching up. He could feel the Mountie's eyes on him and so he made a great show of stretching his aching muscles. It was Fraser's fault that everything ached, but Kowalski wasn't really complaining. It was a good ache. A terrific ache. He felt like a virgin, experiencing the wonders of sex for the first time. He'd never felt this with anyone else, not even Stella. With Fraser it was.... Their lovemaking had been incredible, intensified by the strength of their emotional bond. This was love. This was love. He was still working the kinks out of his stiff muscles when a voice, husky with sleep asked, "Are you teasing me, Ray?" Kowalski looked up his shoulder, grinning broadly. "No. What makes you think that?" The bed creaked as Ben reached out, wrapped one arm around Ray's waist and yanked him down in mid-stretch. "Hey! What gives?", Kowalski demanded, doing his very best to sound annoyed, though his eyes were laughing. "You look like a cat.", Ben murmured softly. The Mountie's hot breath against his ear made Ray shudder. "Rub my belly?", he asked seductively. Fraser smiled, pulling the smaller man against him. Kowalski moaned loudly at the feel of the Canadian's broad, warm, smooth chest pressed to his back. Fraser's hand slid up over his partner's narrow hip. His fingers traced a pattern over Ray's flat belly and then began to rub it in circles. This simple action caused fireworks to go off in the American's groin. He groaned loudly, muttering something that was completely incoherent to him, but that Ben seemed to recognize. He pushed back against his Mountie, pressing his backside against Fraser's erection in a wordless plea. Fraser growled low in his throat, a sound so primal that it sent a shiver through Ray. Ben rose, shifting his weight, so he could turn Ray on his stomach and stretch over the smaller man. The blond sighed happily and closed his eyes as he felt his lover's weight settle over him. / Lover. Hmmm, that sounds nice, like that. I could get used to--- Mmmm. T-that's....oh, man, Fraser. / "Ben.", he moaned. The Mountie's hand found his, Fraser's long fingers sliding between his own. Kowalski felt the hot silk of his lover's tongue on the back of his neck, heard Ben whisper, "I love you. I love you. Promise me you will never leave or do anything to harm yourself. Promise me." "Never, Frase. Never. I promise.", he replied. He heard the Mountie sigh happily. Ray began to speak again, but his words were lost in a choked sob as Ben began to move. God, this was love.
Week after week passed in this manner. Ben had never thought such joy could exist. He rarely slept at the Consulate anymore. Most every night was spent with Ray. And most every day was spent thinking of him when they were not together. Sometimes just these thoughts would raise the heat in his cheeks. Kowalski rarely helped matters. Brushing against Ben as they passed in the squad room, making obscene gestures when no one else was paying attention. Everything the man did, his every tiny gesture captivated and aroused the Mountie. His Ray. There were times when these feelings frightened him. He had not thought it possible to love a person with such intensity. He worried about Ray all the time. Even when he was working a case with Ray Vecchio, he worried about what his lover was doing, if he was safe, if he was being careful. He worried until it drove him to distraction, until he was yanked back into the here and now by an exasperated Italian.
Ben could never speak to Ray Vecchio about his relationship with Ray Kowalski and this was hurtful. His every attempt to bring the two men together, if not as friends then at least as allies, had failed. They both remained vehemently opposed to any kind of peace settlement. Neither ego would allow it. So he went back and forth between the two. Vecchio's patience was wearing thin, however. The Italian knew there was something going on and he continually badgered his friend about it. Ben wanted so badly to share with his new found happiness with his first partner, but it was impossible.
Ray Kowalski was in love. Terrific feeling. An incredible high that no drug could ever copy. Better than it had been with Stella. Everything with Ben was better than it had been with Stella. He walked around with butterflies and bunny rabbits jumping around in his stomach. Nervous, jittery. But it was good nervous. A good jittery. =============================================================================
Almost quittin' time. Ray Kowalski grinned and sat back in his chair. He glanced across the squad room where his lover stood, conversing with Ray Vecchio. Hmm. Loved the way those riding pants curved a perfect line down.....Oh, hell. He shook his head. Not right now. The detective sighed deeply and glanced at the clock. Twenty minutes. Felt like a goddamn eternity. He turned his head back to the Mountie and an idea sprang to mind. Ray reached for a piece of paper and a pen. He scribbled for a few minutes and then quickly read over what he had written. With a mischievous grin, he tucked the paper into a file and called to his lover. "Hey, Frase. Need ya to look at somethin' for me.", he said as he walked toward the Mountie. Ben quickly finished up his discussion with Vecchio and met Stan half way. "What is it, Ray?" Kowalski flipped open the file and held it out, angling it in such a manner that only Fraser could see it. The blond waited patiently as Ben read. The telltale blush began to rise, reddening the Mountie's face and the tips of his ears. Ray grinned. "Whadaya think?" Fraser swallowed and tugged nervously at the collar of his tunic. "I think you have a talent for writing erotica, Ray.", he said quietly. The detective pretended to be insulted. "Erotica? This is down and dirty porn, Ben." Fraser gave him a disapproving glance. "That's hardly something to take pride in.", he chastised. Kowalski scoffed. "Oh. So I guess you wouldn't be interested in getting the, uh, animated version of this." Again the Mountie tugged at his collar. "I didn't say that.", he replied, somewhat hoarsely. Ray's grin grew even wider. "Read the last line and I might forgive you.", he said. Fraser's eyes widened and his face was now a beet-root red. "Ray," he said making a helpless gesture to the squadroom around him, "this is hardly the time or the place." "Look, being a Boy Scout with get you plenty of cookies, but it won't you any nookie. Read it." "Ray, please--" "Fraser! Read. It." Taking a shaky breath, Ben looked down at the last line. "I want to feel you inside me. Fuck me.", he whispered quickly. Ray bit his lip to keep from laughing. "Can't hear you." The Mountie glanced around desperately. "Ray..." "Can't hear you.", the detective responded in a singsong voice. Fraser sighed. "I want to feel you inside me. Fuck me.", he read again, his voice noticeably husky. Ray closed the folder. "Gladly. Now, was that so hard?" Ben's eyes narrowed. "You will be punished for that." Ray smiled flirtatiously. "I should hope so.", he replied as he walked away.
Fraser swallowed slowly as he watched his lover go. Something in that step. He brushed the back of his hand over the tiny beads of sweat that had formed at his hairline. "Benny!" He turned to see Ray Vecchio walking toward him. "Yes, Ray." The Italian nodded his head in Kowalski's direction. "What did *Stan* want?" Ben shook his head. "Just help on a case." Vecchio's eyes narrowed. "Really? What case?" That seemed to catch the Mountie offguard. "Um...uh, a pickpocket.", he replied, going with the first thing that came to mind and kicking himself for it as soon as it left his lips. Vecchio's expression was priceless. "A pickpocket?", he asked incredulously. "Yes.", Ben replied. The detective rolled his eyes. "Sure, Fraser." He tapped the file he was holding across his arm. "Tomorrow, I know you've got work, but you wanna get dinner afterward?" Ben tilted his head. Work? No, he had tomorrow off. Who had told Vecchio that he had to work? It--Oh. He smiled to himself. Ray. His Ray. "Sure, Ray.", he replied, "Dinner would be great." Vecchio grinned. "O.k. How about Gabrielle's at seven o'clock? Unless you got some other place in mind." Fraser shook his head. "No, Gabrielle's is fine." "Good." He sighed, glancing at his watch. "Time to head home. You need a ride or..." "No, thank you. Ray is giving me a ride." Vecchio raised an eyebrow. "*Stan*?" Ben nodded. "Stan." The Italian grinned. "Alright then. I'll see you tomorrow." "Good night, Ray." Vecchio patted him heartily on the back. "Night, Benny." ====================================================================
"Ohhh, God. How many times was that?", Ray Kowalski gasped, stripping the bed sheet from his sweat drenched body. "I lost count.", Ben murmured. "You know, I think Diefenbaker has better control over his sexual urges than we do." Ray chuckled, snuggling close to his lover. "Hmmm. Don't have to be so harsh. We haven't had sex since..." "Last night?", Ben interjected. Ray grinned sleepily. "That's a long time." He shifted slightly, rubbing his thigh along Ben's. "Too long." Fraser slipped his arm around the detective and nuzzled the other man's forehead. He enjoyed this smell. Sex and sweat. There was something wild and primal about it. He stroked the side of the blond's cheek, ran his thumb gently over his lower lip. "Ray?", Ben asked suddenly, "Did you tell Ray Vecchio that I had to work today?" Though his eyes were closed, a smile grew on Kowalski's lips. "Yup. Figured that way you and me could have some privacy." Ben ruffled his lover's matted hair "It was a thoughtful gesture, but--" "Wasn't thoughtful. Completely selfish, actually. I wanted you all to myself." "I am flattered, but I do not like lying to Ray Vecchio." He felt Kowalski's body tense. "And I don't like talkin' about that arrogant bastard after having incredible sex. It just ruins the mood.", the detective growled. This response caused Ben to burst into a fit of laughter. Ray glared at his partner in disbelief. "What the hell is so damn funny?!", he demanded. Fraser was gasping for breath. "You are.", he managed. More irate than ever, Ray started to pull away, but the Mountie held him fast. He took hold the American's arms, pinning him to the mattress. "I love so very much.", he whispered, kissing the detective passionately. "Why? Cause you can laugh at me?", Kowalski asked with as much anger as he could manage. "Yes.", Ben replied honestly. The man beneath him made a face. "I don't like you." The Mountie attempted to keep a straight face. "Mmmm. How can I earn back your love?" "Didn't say I didn't like you, just don't like you." "Ah. I see. Well, what can I do to make you like me again?" Ray thought for a moment. "You can let me make you breakfast." Fraser rolled off his partner. "Agreed."
Ben smiled as he watched Ray move around the kitchen. When the music was on, it seemed that Kowalski lost himself is an entirely different world. The detective turned now and stopped awkwardly in mid-step as he met his friend's eyes. "What?", he asked. The Mountie moved toward him, lovingly brushing a stray eyelash from beneath his eye. "You are so beautiful.", Ben murmured. His lover blushed. "That's funny coming from you.", he replied softly. Fraser moved toward Ray and wrapped his arms around the smaller man. Ray sighed, nuzzling his partner's neck. "I'm afraid for you.", the Canadian murmured suddenly. It was nothing something he had meant to say; it had simply come out. It was now out in the open and somehow that made Fraser uneasy. He couldn't see Ray's face and that made it impossible to know what the other man was thinking. "Why, Ben?", Kowalski whispered. He ran his fingers through his lover's soft blond hair. "I am afraid of loosing you.", he replied. Ray drew away, looking at him intently. "I'm not going anywhere." Ben caressed his partner's cheek. "I know." He kissed the top of Ray's head. "Back to bed?" Kowalski grinned and backed up, tugging at the Mountie's robe. "Uh-huh."
Ben woke feeling wonderfully slothful. He turned his head and felt the soft spikes of lover's hair brush his chin. Ray slumbered peacefully, his head pillowed on the Mountie's chest. He ran his fingers lightly up and down the length of the American's back as he reached over to take his watch from the nightstand. He gasped when he saw the time. 7:02pm. "Oh, dear.", he murmured, softly. He was supposed to meet Ray Vecchio for dinner at seven. Ben sighed, he would have been happy to lie here with his Ray. Forever. Ben pulled himself from the bed, taking special care not to disturb his partner. Kowalski whined at the loss, but did not wake.
Fraser dressed quietly and left a note for his lover on the pillow. Then he went out to meet with Ray Vecchio.
Ray Vecchio didn't like Stanley Kowalski and Stanley Kowalski didn't like Ray Vecchio. No pretense there. But that was the workplace; one can't like everyone they work with. Normally, Vecchio would have just stayed clear of Kowalski and that would be that. But this hate/hate relationship had one major complication. And that complication was walking toward Vecchio with an appropriately embarrassed look on his angelic face. Constable Benton Fraser. One very big complication. Kowalski was a bad influence on the Mountie, of that much Ray was certain. The man was a live wire. Unpredictable, immature and generally a lousy cop. He didn't quite like the idea of Ben still hanging around the skinny little blond and this feeling was further rooted as Fraser settled into the booth in front of him. "Hello, Ray." Vecchio frowned. "You're late.", he said. Ben smiled apologetically. "Yes. I apologize. I had....some business to attend to." Ray raised an eyebrow. "With Kowalski?", he guessed. Fraser nodded. "Yes." "You ready to order?" Both men looked up at the sliver-haired waitress who stood before them. "Yeah. Gimme a chicken sandwich and a large Coke. Benny?" Fraser smiled politely at the waitress. "I'll have the salad." The older woman scribbled down the orders and made it a point to flash the Mountie a 'come hither' smile before she left. Ray watched this with amusement. "You still got it, Benny.", he said. Fraser looked at him with some confusion. "Got what?" Vecchio started to explain, but then thought better of it. "Nevermind.", he replied. He wanted to question Ben on this Kowalski matter, but it seemed trivial now. He had his friend here and that was all that mattered.
"Ray, could you drop me off at Ray--uh, Stan's apartment?" Vecchio glanced at the clock in his car. 10:22pm. "Now?", he asked his passenger. The surprise in his voice was poorly veiled. Ben nodded patiently. "Yes. Is that all right? It *is* closer than the Consulate." "W-well, yeah. B-but...", he stammered. The Mountie tilted his head ever so slightly. "But, what, Ray?" Vecchio slumped in the driver's seat. "Nothing." He glanced at his friend and forced a smile for the other man's benefit. "Sure, Benny." Fraser smiled warmly. "Thank you, Ray." The remainder of the trip was consumed in uncomfortable silence.
Ray Vecchio grinded his teeth as he watched Ben walk into the entrance of Kowalski's apartment. He couldn't even fathom what the two could possibly be doing at this hour. As he pulled into traffic he began aware that he was gripping the steering wheel with enough force, that his knuckles had turned white. He didn't have alot of friends, alot of people he could trust. There was his family, of course, but outside of that, all he really had was Benny. /And I'm loosing Benny. I'm loosing my best friend to my own fucking replacement. I'm loosing Benny to a scrawny, little punk rocker looking...ugh, geek. Moron. Twit. / There wasn't even a word to describe the little fuckhead. /Mountie's holding out on me, I know that. There was a time when I was the only thing he had in this godforsaken city. Now he looks at me like I'm a stranger. He can't even talk to me. / Ray sighed deeply and bit back the sting behind his eyes. He felt himself flush. This was embarrassing. He felt like a small child whose best buddy in the whole wide universe had found a new playmate. Ridiculous. /Grow up, Ray. If it bothers me this much, then I'll go to talk to him myself. The world does not begin and end with Stanley fucking Kowalski. /
He was closer to home than he realized, less than a block away, when he noticed Fraser's Stetson on the dashboard. One part of him thought it more practical to give it to Ben tomorrow morning, but a nagging voice made him turn the car around and head back to Kowalski's apartment. He'd give the Mountie back his hat and put all the cards on the table while he was at it. If he couldn't come clean to his best friend then who the hell could be come clean to?
Music played inside the apartment, something that sounded very much like glam rock. /How does Benny stand this guy? / Ray sighed and raised his hand to knock on the door, but then stopped. There was another sound.....Moaning, gasping. He knew that sound well. It was universal. The language of passion, sex. He placed his palms flat against the door and leaned in, to press his ear to the wood. *... want your roughhouse baby...* A guttural moan. *... want this right in your ear....* Kowalski's voice, but huskier and far more open, unguarded. "God, Frase. Please." Almost a sob. *...You let me feel your danger...* Ray lifted his head from the door. His curiosity had gotten the better of him. He wanted to, he *needed* to know exactly what was going on. He needed to know this was not some figment of a demented imagination. He reached for the knob and twisted slowly. Unlocked. Unbelievable. /Guess some of Fraser rubbed off on Kowalski. /, Ray thought as he opened the door just enough to see in. *...I want the touch of your charms...* Stan was sitting against the couch, his body arched, his head thrown back, eyes closed, Adam's apple bobbing in his throat as he swallowed. *...The heat of your breath...* His legs were spread and a pale hands gripped his thigh. Stan's own hands were flexing, his fingers curling and uncurling into the sable locks of Fraser's hair as the Mountie's mouth moved up and down over the blond's....oh, man. *...I wanna say all those things..* Ray turned away, feeling violently ill. *...That would be better unsaid....* He shut the door as quietly as possible and ran.
He barely made it out to the sidewalk, before he vomited the remnants of his chicken sandwich. Fraser and Kowalski? There was no way. No way. Fraser was a good guy, straight as an arrow. There was no way Benny, his Benny, was a cocksucker. No. Ray shook his head. Kowalski, maybe. The little rat looked like a punk, but not the Mountie. Vecchio leaned heavily against his car, drawing cold breaths into his burning lungs. This was all Kowalski's doing. Of that much, he was certain. He lured Ben off the straight and narrow, turned him into some goddamn.....Vecchio scrowled. He couldn't even think of a word. What was there to describe what he just seen? There was no simple way. Christ, he'd walked in on his Canadian partner going down on a Chicago flatfoot like a 10-dollar whore. It was a sin, pure and simple. /Son of a bitch. /
"Mmmmm. Too early.", Ray Kowalski mumbled as Ben rubbed his belly in circles. "You have to go to work. I have to go to work. We have to get up, Ray.", the Mountie replied, in his most practical tone. The detective groaned and opened his eyes. "Why? Can't we just call in sick or somethin'?" Fraser shook his head. "I don't think so." Taking the initiative, Ben rolled out of bed and yanked the covers off Kowalski. "Pitter-patter.", he said, mimicking his lover's favored phrase. Ray laughed. "Let's get at 'er?", he finished. The Canadian nodded and bent down to brush his lips over Ray's. "Yes. " By some act of God, the exhausted detective managed to pull himself from the bed and follow his naked Mountie into the bathroom.
They were still tangled up in each other and kissing fervently as Ray helped Ben button his tunic. "I'm going to be late." Fraser's plea was muffled against his lover's mouth, but he couldn't seem to tear himself away. Kowalski only grinned and nipped at Fraser 's lower lip. He pressed against Ben until the Mountie was backed against the kitchen counter, with no place to go. The hands that had started buttoning the tunic were now retracing their steps and unbuttoning them. Laughing, Ben caught Ray's hands and held them. "Ray." The detective looked at him with desire glazed eyes. "Hmmm?" "If we want to remain employed it is imperative that we go to work." It took a moment for the seriousness in Ben's eyes to reach his lover. "Fine.", Ray replied with a pout, "But you're not gonna have a whole lotta fun standing guard duty with, um, boner in your pants." The Mountie frowned, rebuttoning his tunic. "I can control my urges, Ray." "Or you could let me help you with it.", the detective suggested gleefully. Before Fraser could respond, the blond had dropped to his knees before him and opened his riding pants.
In the end, they were both late for work.
End of the day. Thank you, God. Ray Kowalski raked his fingers through his blond spikes. Long day. Really, long day. Two drug busts and one assault. /Christ, I have to get outta this city. Maybe go up to the Yukon Territories with Frase./ That thought brought a smile to his lips. He could hear Ben's voice in his head reminding him that it was the Yukon or the Northwest Territories. He had showered and changed here, since Fraser had gotten dibs on the apartment tonight. He glanced at the clock. 8:35pm. Ben wanted him at the apartment at nine. No earlier. Something about a 'special' dinner. /Cool. Love surprises. / The detective pulled on a clean shirt and tossed the dirty one back into his locker. His hand was hardly out of the locker when the door began to close. Kowalski backed away startled, as his locker door suddenly slammed shut. Ray Vecchio stood before him, hand pressed firmly against Stan's locker. His head was slightly bowed, lips twisted into a scowl and fire dancing in his eyes. Kowalski looked over the other man with mild annoyance. "You wanna move Vecchio?", he asked calmly, "I wasn't done." "Oh, you're done.", the Italian snapped. The blond sighed and folded his arms over his chest. "O.k. What's your problem?", he asked with the same tone he would use on a spoiled child. "I want to stay the hell away from the Mountie." "What?" "You heard me, you fucking queer. Stay away from Fraser." Stan's eyes widened slightly and Vecchio continued. "You lured him into your dirty fucking faggot lifestyle, you fucking snake." The blond's jaw tightened, but he was determined not to loose his temper. "I don't think you have all your facts straight, Vecchio, so maybe you should back off.", he replied, but his voice was weak. "He doesn't like you, Kowalski. Think about that. He just doesn't want to hurt you, he doesn't want you to leave. That's all it is. He's just *fucking* you, so you don't go off and commit suicide or something. He's trying to save himself the guilt. You're nothing but a charity case to him." Stan swallowed slowly, those words twisting inside him like a blade. Of course. Vecchio was a bastard, but he spoke the truth. Stan hadn't seen it until now. Of course. This had all begun after Ben read his journal, found him passed out drunk on the couch. Of course. God, he was just.....why hadn't he seen it before? He bit the inside of his cheek to prevent tears, but felt the sting behind his eyes. No way in hell was he going to breakdown in front of Ray. He bit down harder and drew blood. Still the tears rose and he leaned his forehead against the locker. Vecchio scoffed. "You're fucking pathetic.", he said softly. "Just stay away from Benny." And then he was gone and Stan was alone.
10: 52pm. Where was Ray? Ben sighed and drummed his fingers on the arm rest of Kowalski's couch. He had told Ray nine, hadn't he? It was unlike the blond to be so late. His eyes moved between the clock and telephone. *Where is he?*
Ray looked at his watch. 10:54pm. He was thinking he was supposed to be somewhere, but damned if he could remember where. Couldn't have been..too...important. Couldn't really think....'bout that.....right.....now. After one full bottle of Bacardi and half a bottle of Chivas, Ray Kowalski's brain was having a good deal of trouble trying to put a rational thought together. "Hey." Ray motioned to the bartender. "Where is this?" The large man's brow knitted in confusion. "I beg yer pardon?" Ray inhaled deeply and tried to clear his blurred vision. "Where am I?", he asked again. Now the bartender frowned. "Just outside Gary.", he replied. Kowalski blinked. "Where the hell is Gary?" Now the man rolled his eyes. "Michigan.", he replied, taking hold of Ray's Chivas bottle. "And I'd say you've hit your limit, blondie." Ray managed a crooked smile and nodded. "Yeah. Well, then I'll just be on my way." He started to take his keys from the bar, but the bartender gripped his wrist tightly and pulled the keys away. "I don't think so.", he said sternly. "Hey, man--", the blond began. "Don't start with me, young fella. There's a motel around back. Check yerself in and sleep it off." Ray scowled as the bartender turned away. He watched the man drop his keys into a pickle jar behind a Miller Lite sign. Kowalski growled, trying hard to think. /Michigan? Well now, this isn't Kansas anymore. / As he stared into the empty glass in front of him, he wondered why he wasn't getting drunk at home. *Why the fuck did I drive out to Gary to get a drink? Couldn't have been a good thing. I can't remember, suppose that's a good thing. / He rubbed his hands over his face. /Christ, I don't even know what I'm running away from. / He sighed and slid off the barstool. Maybe it was about time to call it a night. /Don't wanna sleep in a roach motel. Wanna go home. Maybe I should call Frase--/ That stopped him. He swayed slightly, realization creeping up on him slowly. "Oh.", he muttered to himself. "Fuckin' charity case. Forgot." He felt the sting of tears behind his eyes, he bit his lip and forced them back. He sniffed quietly. / 'Kay. Now what? / Ray patted his jacket. /Need my keys. Need my keys. What the hell did I--Oh. / His eyes moved in direction on the Miller Lite sign. The bartender was in deep discussion with an equally large truck driver at the other end of the bar. Ray saw the opportunity and took it.
Safely outside, keys dangling from his right hand, he leaned against the wall to take a breath of air and regain his balance. Abit shaky, but no big deal. Ray rubbed his eyes. If his vision would just clear.... Ugh. He staggered slowly to his car, which was parked, between two large Mack trucks. /Funny. I don't remember those being there. Oh, well. /
Once inside the GTO, it took some time to find all the controls. He started the car, put her in reverse, but what was he forgetting? /Oh, fuck me. The lights. Now where the hell did the lights go? Hmm./ The radio was on, blasting really. It made his head ache, but it felt good. Needed that. Cleared his head alittle. "--leaving you with 'Suck' from Nine Inch Nails.", the DJ signed off as the song began *.... there is no god up in the sky tonight...* Ray was still fiddling with the controls, trying to find his lights. *...no sign of heaven anywhere in sight..* Finally locating them, he turned on the high beams and moved his foot from the brake, stomping down on accelerator. *....all that was true is left behind...* The GTO flew backwards into the road. *...once I could see now I am blind...* It was a split second. Ray never got the chance to realize what a grievous error he had made. *...don't want your dreams you try to sell...* Bright lights, blinded him before everything disappeared in an explosion of light and heat. *....this disease I give to myself...*
*... how does it feel...* Lights flickered on and off before Ray's eyes. There was the sharp hiss of steam escaping from somewhere. *...she makes it sweeter than the sun...* The radio was still on. That song was still playing. *....I get too tight I come undone...* He tried to make a fist. His hand was slick, wet. He rolled the moisture between his fingers, wandering what it was. *....I bow my head to confess...* He tried to raise his head, but it hurt. Oh, Christ, it hurt. *....the temple walls are made of flesh...* He moved his other hand, felt broken glass in his palm. *....runs up my arms 'til I'm on track...* He could hear voices faintly. Maybe they were talking to him, he wasn't sure. *...itches my skin right off of my back...* Ray closed his eyes, licking his lips. Weird. Coppery taste. Blood. That thought made him chuckle weakly. *....I'll heal your wounds...* His chest felt heavy. Jeez, really heavy. He tried to take a deep breath, but found it difficult. *...I'll set you free...* Felt dizzy. Really dizzy. Smelled gas. Was something burning? *....I'm Jesus Christ on Ecstasy....* He felt a warm hand on his forehead. Someone was talking to him. *....How does it feel...* Someone telling him that they were here to help. *...How does it feel...* Someone telling him to stay calm. *...I am so dirty on the inside....* Someone telling him that everything would be fine. *...I am so dirty on the inside...* He'd stopped believing that a long time ago.