Disclaimer: These characters aren't mine, of course. I'm just borrowing
them for this story!
Minor spoilers for Third Season episodes: Call of the Wild, Mountie on
the Bounty, Mojo Rising and Likely Story
Rated NC-17 for m/m, Fraser/Kowalski slash
A small note: in current police slang, the word 'bus' means
an ambulance. Dear Abby, for those readers outside the U.S., is a reference
to a national newspaper advice columnist who answers reader's letters.
And the lyrics quoted in this story are from Bruce Springsteen's song,
© September 1998
Email the author at: Ardrian15@aol.com
Won't Fear Love
by Caroline Alert
"Write it down in a letter? To who?"
"That doesn't matter, detective. It could be to your partner, or
even to yourself."
I blink. Stare at the police psychiatrist. Can't believe what I'm hearing.
"Yer kiddin' me, right?"
He shakes his head. "No. I think writing your feelings down in
a letter would be a very helpful exercise for you, Officer Kowalski."
He's trying to look serious. Wise. Like he's Dr. Supershrink, with
a capital S. He just looks pompous to me. "It will help you determine
exactly what the nature of your problem with your partner, Constable
I blink at him again. Shake my head. Not smiling anymore. I'm starting
to get ticked off. I bare my soul to this guy, tell him stuff I've
never told my own mom, and this is the best he can do? Tell me to write
myself a letter? To tell myself what I already know? He's an idiot!
A jackass in an expensive suit with a Ph.D.
"The department pays you to give advice like this?"
He stiffens a bit. Disturbed by my lack of respect. "It's a standard
therapeutic technique, I assure you"
Therapy, shmerapy! What a dipshit. I get up, disgusted. Didn't
wanna come here anyway. Shoulda' known better, but I was desperate.
Couldn't figure out what to do
But I can already see this chump
doesn't have a clue, either. Write a letter to myself, my ass!
"Oh yeah?" I snarl. "Well, do I look like Dear Abby to
He smiles. A superior little smirk that makes me wanna pull his little
silk tie so tight it'll choke him. "Not in the slightest, Detective.
But I think"
I shake my head, way past caring what he thinks. "End of session,"
I tell him, pissed. "Send me yer bill, Doc. 'Cuz I'm outta here!"
I start to turn away. He gets up hastily, holds out a hand like he wants
to stop me. "Please, Detective. I really think we ought to discuss
Now he's trying to look authoritative. Musta' decided serious wasn't
cuttin' it. Must not realize I've always responded badly to every authority
figure in my life
I bare my teeth at Supershrink. "I think we just did. Now we're
Then I bomb out of his office. Pissed off at him and even madder at
myself, for thinking such a stuffed shirt maroon could help me. "Write
a letter", he says. "To identify the problem", he says.
Oh, that's good, doc! That's brilliant. Except I didn't come to
your office to find out what my problem with Fraser is. I already know
that: problem is, I want him. Want him bad. Can't even look at him
without my damn mouth waterin', and parts way south goin' stiff. I don't
get it. I haven't wanted a guy in years, not since a bit of dabbling
in high school that I'd mostly forgotten. But the damn Mountie's done
somethin' to me. Witched me with those big baby blues, or maybe hypnotized
me with all those big words he likes so much. Hell, for all I know,
he used some friggin' Inuit ritual hocus pocus chant thing to mess with
The one thing I know for sure is, I wanna jump Benton Fraser's bones.
I don't need to write a fuckin' letter to figure that out! That much,
I got already. Can't miss the way my dick stiffens up every time he
touches me. What I was hoping Supershrink could tell me is, how to stop
feeling that way. How to turn off this stupid, hopeless lech.
Maybe I shoulda' known better. It's not that easy to turn off feelings,
or hormones, or whatever the hell this is. If it was, I sure as hell
woulda' turned mine off when Stella left. But I couldn't shut 'em down
when she walked, and I can't turn 'em off when Fraser's around, either.
He's completely clueless about it, though. As usual.
Half of me's glad he is. The other half, the southern part, wishes
he'd wake the hell up and pay attention to it
But I know he never will. Not just because he's clueless, but because
he's so damn straight. Uptight. Polite. Moral. He hardly even looks
at all the women who slaver all over him all the time! Even Frannie,
who's a total babe, and who's driven herself half crazy chasin' him for
years. According to Vecchio, he's only been in love once in his lifeand
that was with some crazy bitch who tried to ruin his career and/or kill
him, whichever came first.
I shake my head, just thinking about that. Chicago's full of women
who'd do anything for one night in the sack with the Mountie, and who
does he pick to fixate on? Some Canadian chick who's nuts, and out to
get him. Only Fraser could be that dumb.
Then again, how smart am I? I fell for him, didn't I?
For a guy who probably isn't real eager to try the L word again, since
his first time flamed out so bad. And I can only imagine what he'd do
if he knew his own partner, another guy, wanted to get it on with him.
He'd probably blush as red as his uniform--then his head would explode.
But I want him so bad that sometimes I wish I could risk telling him.
Hell, I might even settle for the S word with him, if I could get it.
I seethe about it all the way back to my car. All the way back to the
station too. About the shrink's stupidity, Fraser's, and my own. Don't
know which of us is worse: me for havin' such an idiotic crush, Fraser
for bein' too blind to see it, or the shrink for bein' clueless about
how to help me get rid of it. Just thinking about it, I grip the
wheel of the GTO so tight while I drive that my hands start to hurt.
I wonder if it's possible to embed your fingerprints into the wheel,
if you hold it tight enough.
But I don't really want to embed them
in the wheel.
I wanna put 'em on Fraser's skin. Put my hands all over that beautiful,
snow white skin, kiss him and bite him and lick him until he howls like
Dief on a date.
When I get back to the 27th, I put my aching head down on the wheel.
'Cuz I know it ain't gonna happen. Dream on, Kowalski.
I'll never know how long I sat there. But I didn't move until someone
knocked on the window. Several mild taps, polite, just loud enough to
get my attention.
I shoulda' known who it was, just from that.
But I was so busy feeling sorry for myself that I was clueless until
I caught the flash of red. Bright red. Mountie red, right beside me.
Then I froze. But it was too late to pretend I hadn't seen him. So
I lifted my head reluctantly. Saw dark hair, cut short but thick, glossy
and black. Shiny as the finish on my GTO. Beautiful. A pair of clear
blue eyes with lashes so long any chick would kill for them, full lips
just crying to be kissed, a strong, square jaw, and shoulders so broad
they filled the whole window frame.
Fraser. Of course. Who else would it be?
I roll down the window, feeling doomed.
Fraser smiles. "Hi, Ray!"
I groan inwardly.
"I just came by to see if you'd like to go to lunch with me,"
he says casually.
I stare at him. Why does he have to be so friggin' handsome? So
polite? So perfect? Why?
God hates me. That's what it is.
"Ray?" Fraser leans towards me a little, a bit of a frown
creasing his perfect brow. I'm so disgusted with myself that it must
be showing. He must've seen it. And it worries him. Panicked, I make
my whole face blank, because I'm afraid he's gonna lean in and put a
hand on my shoulder, ask me what the hell's the matter. He's like that.
Kind. Sensitive. Caring, underneath that formal politeness he tries
to hold everyone at arm's length with.
Every woman's dream, that's Fraser.
But he's mine now too. And it's hard enough, without him touchin' me.
"Sure, yeah, Frase. Fine. Whatever," I mumble, trying to
smile at him so he'll think I'm okay. "Get in. I'll drive."
My fake smile reassures him. He backs away from the window without touching
me. Thank God. The only problem is, he goes around and climbs
in next to me, sitting so close our thighs are almost brushing. And
I know I'm gonna have a helluva time trying not to stare at him for the
next hour or so, while we eat.
"Thanks, Ray," he says, oblivious. "Where would you like
Hell, I don't care! I want to snarl, hopelessly turned on as
usual. Then I remember that Hell's a place, and that I'm already in
it. I shrug instead. "I dunno. What do you feel like?" I
ask, then wince as my mind dreams up a hot answer to that question.
Hard. Muscular. Warm. Deliciousthat's what Fraser would feel
"How about that little Chinese place?" Fraser says. "The
one not far from here?"
"Fine," I mutter. I gun the GTO out of the lot, staring hard
at the road. Not looking at him at all. Hoping he won't notice what's
poking its head up in my jeans.
But looking at the road doesn't help much. I can feel him anyway. Feel
the heat of his big body. I can see him too, even though I'm not looking.
The way he sits, shoulders straight but not tight, the easy, upright
posture of a natural athlete. Graceful. The way his large fingers rest
on the brim of the Stetson in his lap. I know it all by heart. I love
it all. And his face is so familiar that it's burned into my brain.
I see it every time I close my eyes. Not to mention in my dreams. Big
blue eyes. Straight nose. Tempting lips. Perfect. Beautiful. Completely
Idiot, I think, trying to be mad at him. I do that a lot, when
I can't take a cold shower. Sometimes it helps, sometimes it doesn't.
Today it's hard to sustain a burn, 'cuz I'm not sure who's the bigger
idiot, him for not noticing or me for being too scared to tell him.
"What's the matter?" he asks finally, his voice a bit uncertain.
"Would you rather have something other than Chinese food?"
I swallow hard. Clamp down ruthlessly on my filthy imagination. Won't
let it dream up an answer to that question. Because there's a limit
to how much I can takeespecially with Him sitting right next to
me. And I don't ever want him to see what he's doing to me. "No.
Chinese is fine. I'm just
thinkin' about a case," I grate.
"Ahh," he says. But out of the corner of my eye, I see him
looking at me. Curious. Intent.
I don't dare look back. He knows me too well.
Neither one of us says much after that. Not in the car, and not at lunch
And when I drive him back to work, it gets even worse. If that's possible.
After nearly an hour of doing my best to pretend I'm enjoying my burger
while something big, red, and far more delicious sat across from me,
I'm actually looking forward to driving. Staring at the road will be
a relief, after that. But I make the mistake of turning on the radio,
secretly hoping that'll discourage Fraser from trying to talk to me anymore.
At times, even the sound of his voice is a hopeless turn on for me now
But the radio doesn't help. The second I switch it on, Springsteen,
the world class romantic, is moaning, "Promise me, baby, you won't
let them find us. Hold me in your arms, let's let our love blind us,
Shut the door and cover me. Well, I'm looking for a lover
who will come on in and cover me
I get a mental picture, instantaneous and incredibly vivid, of Fraser
lying on top of me. Covering me with his big body, the gold buttons
in that bright red uniform pressing into my chest as he kisses me
Shit! I reach for the dial and switch the music off hastily.
Can't stand to listen to Springsteen screaming my private thoughts out
where the Mountie can hear 'em. Does the whole friggin' world know
how I feel? I wonder, furious. Everybody else, that is, except
Fraser looks at me curiously. "You don't like that song, Ray?"
"No," I lie tersely. "It sucks."
"But that was Bruce Springsteen, if I'm not mistaken. And just
last week, you were telling me how much you love his music," Fraser
points out, confused. "You said he was a working class poet"
I roll my shoulders, intensely uncomfortable with the corner I've just
worked myself into. Damn him for rememberin' everything I say! Why
the hell doesn't he just ignore me, like everyone else? Of course,
that's part of the reason why I want him so bad. Because he does listen
to me, and remember things about me that no one else would. It's
not just his body, it'soh, hell. What's the use? "Yeah,
That was then, this is now," I say. "Besides, what
the hell do I know from poetry?"
Ben opens his mouth, then shuts it again abruptly, as if he has no real
idea what to say to that. He looks completely confused.
He's not the only one.
When I drop him off at the Consulate after, we both try to act like we're
not relieved to be getting away from each other. But neither of us is
I wonder how much longer I can stand this. It's gettin' harder and
harder to lie to him, to hide it. But what would I do if I told him,
and he left me? Transferred out, like he talked about doing once?
Then I'd really be in Hell.
Later that night, lying on his bedroll in his tiny little office at the
Canadian Consulate, Fraser ponders the situation. Something is bothering
his partner, Ray Kowalski. He knows that as surely as he knows his own
name. He also knows that Ray doesn't want him to know about it, because
if he did, he would've told him by now. Ray isn't shy, or secretive
eitherexcept about his deepest longings and fears. Those, he hardly
ever talked about.
Fraser knew of Stanley Ray Kowalski's pet peeves--well-armed criminals,
traffic jams, authority figures, the Toronto Maple Leafs--within days
of their first meeting. He'd learned of his favorite cars, sports teams,
and foods in another week. But it wasn't until almost a year later that
he learned of Ray's love for his ex-wife, or of how dancing with her
transported his normally earthy partner into a state of near Nirvana,
or of his habit of lying to his parents to protect them. And he suspected
that he wouldn't have found out that much about him even by then, if
several of their cases hadn't involved Stella and his parents.
Stanley Ray Kowalski had a tough facade much like his former partner,
Ray Vecchio, did. But a similarly passionate heart beneath it, if you
looked hard enough to see it.
Fraser has looked. And maybe because he has similar walls of his own,
carefully constructed to protect his own heart, he has also seen past
Ray's barriers on occasion. He knows the depth of feeling of which Kowalski
is capable, and something of the pain it has caused him. He knows, even
if no one else at the 27th has guessed, the degree of desperation
involved in Kowalski's decision to take on another man's name, another
man's life, in order to leave behind a past that seemed unbearable.
He has even wondered, at times, if he would've done the same thing, if
anyone had offered him the chance after Victoria.
But tonight, as the moonlight makes abstract, silvery patterns on the
floor beside him, his thoughts center on Kowalski rather than himself.
He wonders what category the shadows in his eyes spring from lately:
longings or fears? He isn't sure. He's seen what looks like both in
Ray's eyes at times lately. Most recently, when he'd surprised him slumped
at the wheel of his car in the station's parking lot. Stan had been
sitting so still that Fraser hadn't been sure he was even conscious.
Alarmed, he'd rapped on the window. Ray had lifted his head promptly,
but there was something in his eyes
Lost, haunted, whatever you
wanted to call it, it had disturbed him. He hadn't seen Stan that troubled
since the night he'd confessed that he still loved Stella.
What is wrong with him? If Fraser didn't know better, he would've
suspected that he'd fallen in love, and that for whatever reason, his
love was hopeless. But that couldn't be true, because Ray always talked
freely about the women he was interested in, and he hadn't so much as
mentioned anyone to Fraser. Not for months now. Nor was he dating anyone.
So what can it be?
Fraser shifts uneasily on his bedroll, wondering about it. He has the
distinct (and distinctly alarming) feeling that it has something to do
with him somehow. The look in Stan's eyes when he'd found him slumped
over the wheel that day had seemed oddly personal. He wonders if he's
done something wrong. Wracks his brain trying to remember if he had
said or done anything to upset Stan in the last few months
He can't remember anything out of the ordinary. Well, Stan did seem
a bit bitter that time he found Francesca pressing my hand to her breast
during their case involving Jerome Lafarette, the voodoo priest, but
he didn't even ask me to explain it. He just made a joke about Frannie
being crazy, then let it go.
Fraser pursues that line of inquiry, intrigued. Hmmm
never thought much about it before, but now he realizes that Stan has
often registered something like disapproval when Frannie has touched
him, or taken his arm, as she often does. He's always assumed that Stan
was just acting the role of her big brother, being protective of her,
but now he wonders if he's misinterpreted his motive. Is there more
to his partner's sour reactions to her clinging behavior than that?
Can it be that Stan has feelings for Frannie himself, and that he's jealous
of Frannie's preference for him?
Fraser blinks. Oh, dear! The more he thinks about it, the more
likely the possibility seems. It would explain Ray's depression, his
seemingly jealous looks when Frannie hangs on him, Fraser's own intuition
that Kowalski's problem somehow involves him, and Ray's unwillingness
to talk about it. Ray had revealed a surprisingly deep insecurity about
his own appeal to women during the Tucci case, and been visibly jealous
about his intentions towards Luanne Russell. If he's now decided
he wants Frannie, maybe he's keeping quiet about it because his mistaken
jealousy over Luanne embarrassed him, and he doesn't want to repeat that
error, or to appear foolish again.
Fraser turns the theory over and over in his mind, but can find no glaringly
obvious flaw in it. It seems a reasonable explanation for his partner's
unrest and odd behavior lately. So he decides he should test the possibility.
It shouldn't be difficult. All I need do is engage Francesca in some
harmless conversation while Ray is close by, pretend to flirt with her
a little, then watch him for signs of jealousy. If he exhibits any,
I'll just take him aside, tell him that my feelings towards Francesca
are nothing but brotherly, and then he will feel free to court her without
Satisfied to have found a relatively easy solution to Stan's problem,
Ben Fraser closes his eyes and finally allows himself to fall asleep.
But the Mountie has forgotten a couple of very important things. One
is that the best-laid plans often go awry in the real world. The second
is that Francesca Vecchio can be rather unpredictable
Due to unexpected business at the Consulate, two days go by before Fraser
sees Kowalski again. When he does, he's gratified, as he approaches
Ray's desk, to find that Frannie is nearby. Never a man to delay when
action is necessary, he nods at his partner, then makes a beeline for
Francesca. He knows Ray is watching and is anxious to implement his
"Francesca," he says, "I wonder if you'd be so kind as
to pull the files on the Henry Allen case for me?"
Francesca perks up immediately. "Oh, sure, Frase," she says,
sidling close to him with a smile. Kowalski is seated with his boots
up on his desk. Fraser watches him out of the corner of his eye. Sure
enough, his eyes narrow as he sees Frannie's smile, the way she leans
towards him. Fraser recalls his partner saying that 'body language is
something I'm particularly sensitive to', and he has to suppress a smile.
His partner's body language radar certainly seems to be active at the
"Uh, did you want all the files, Frase, or just the ones on Billy
Bones' murder?" Francesca breathes, plucking at a non-existent piece
of lint on his sleeve. Deciding to give his theory a good, thorough
test, Fraser leans closer to her and smiles back at her with more than
his usual warmth. "That's a good question, Francesca," he
Francesca practically purrs.
Kowalski's feet come down off his desk at that. He is staring at them
now, his blue eyes stormy, not even trying to hide his interest. Or
is it jealousy? Fraser is increasingly convinced that is indeed the
case, but he needs to make absolutely sure.
"Perhaps you should just get the ones on the murder," he tells
Frannie with a warm look. "I wouldn't want you to hurt your back
carrying a large stack of files"
Ray snorts angrily. "She's stronger than she looks," he mutters
under his breath. Frannie doesn't hear him, but Fraser catches the remark.
"She could hogtie a Mountie in eight seconds flat!"
Fraser tries not to smile. So far, his plan is working perfectly.
But then Frannie suddenly, unexpectedly grabs his lanyard. "I have
an idea," she says, tugging at it with a strength that is indeed
surprising in a woman so small and seemingly delicate. "Why don't
you come with me, and we can both get them out?"
" Fraser tries to object, but she's got a stranglehold
on his lanyard now, and is pulling him along helplessly behind her.
He sees Stan shoot to his feet, a vein throbbing in his temple, but then
Frannie whisks him away down a corridor out of sight. They're ostensibly
heading for the file room, but as they pass a closet which he and her
brother often used for confidential talks, Frannie suddenly says, "Frase,
there's something I've been meaning to ask you
Privately, that is.
Can you come in here for a second?" She pulls him towards the closet
Fraser is beginning to think this isn't the best plan he ever devised
after all. And knowing Frannie's romantic proclivities, he finally manages
a strangled protest. "No. I don't think we should--"
But Francesca isn't listening. The next thing he knows, she's dragged
him into the darkened closet and shut the door securely behind them.
Her arms twine around his neck like clinging vines in the musty darkness.
"What I've been wanting to ask you is, do you wanna kiss me as much
I wanna kiss you?"
Fraser freezes in terror. And before he can say 'No, please don't,'
or anything at all, Frannie drags his head down in the darkness and kisses
him, softly but firmly. Several times
"God dammit!" someone curses. The next thing Fraser knows,
the door is wrenched open so hard it's almost pulled off its hinges.
Light spills over the shameful scene, and Frannie is torn away from him
so abruptlyand so roughlythat she shrieks in protest.
"Owww!" she cries, as she's jerked unceremoniously back into
Fraser himself is nearly jerked off his feet. But he doesn't protest
as he steps back out into the hallway. He's shamed into silence.
Because Stan stands there like an avenging angel, his eyes burning, his
face flushed with anger as his eyes rake them both. Totally unmoved
by Frannie's cry of distress, he roars, "What the hell do you think
yer doing?" And pushes her even further away from Fraser.
Frannie rubs her elbow, equally furious. "None of your"
Stan shakes his head, shoves his face intimidatingly close to hers.
"No, don't answer that! I know exactly what you were doin'!"
he yells in a savage voice Fraser has never heard him use outside of
an interrogation room before. "You wanted a little Mountie nooner!
Ray looks wild, red-faced and so close to a nuclear meltdown that for
once, even Frannie is cowed. Fraser hears her mutter "Prevert"
under her breath, but she doesn't look at Ray, or try to argue with him.
Which is probably wise. But Fraser opens his mouth to chide Stan on
her behalf. He has no idea what a 'nooner' is, but judging by Ray's
tone of voice, it's a crude sexual reference, and he means to ask him
to apologize to Frannie for it. After all, this whole situation is his
But he doesn't get the chance. Ray suddenly turns on him with a look
that is, if possible, even more dangerous than the one he just hit Frannie
with. "What I wanna know is, what the hell were you doin'?
Huh? Get yer brains caught in yer zipper?"
Fraser flushes. Ray Vecchio once told him what that particular expression
means, and he's so embarrassed at the way his little plan to establish
Stan's jealousy has gotten totally out of hand that for a second, he
doesn't know how to answer that charge. That is, after all, exactly
what he wanted Ray to think. Well, maybe not exactly that, he
corrects himself hastily. I just wanted Ray to think I was interested
in Frannie, possibly even dating hernot that I would have sex with
her in a closet at the 27th! That very idea is so outrageous
that he blushes.
Ray notices it, and his nostrils flare. He clearly thinks it's a sign
"Uh, no," Ben manages to croak at last. He knows it's not
much of an answer, but with Ray hovering over him, nostrils flaring,
arms crossed belligerently, it's hard to think of a more plausible denial.
Behind Kowalski's back, Frannie is making some kind of strange, covert
motions across her mouth, as if she's trying to warn Fraser about something.
He's so distracted by the sight that for a minute, he doesn't say anything
"Well?" Ray demands furiously. "Come on! You can do
better than that!"
"You really have this all wrong, Ray," he says at last, with
a puzzled shrug at Francesca because he can't figure out what she's doing.
Ray's lips thin in a nasty parody of a smile he usually uses only on
criminals. "'Zat so?" he hisses. "Then why the hell
have you got her lipstick all over yer mouth?"
Frannie rolls her eyes in disgust.
Fraser finally realizes what her mysterious hand signals were all about.
She was trying to tell him to wipe her lipstick off! "I can explain
that, Ray," he says hastily. He digs out his handkerchief to remove
the telltale marks, but he's Too Late, with a capital T. His guilty
swabbing only seems to increase Ray's ire.
Kowalski's lips set in a cruel line. "Okay. Let's hear it!"
He plants his hands on his hips, waiting for an explanation. But it
crosses Fraser's mind that he should be looking at Frannie that way instead
of him. Why isn't he focused on her, if he's in love with her? Why
isn't he more concerned about her innocence than mine?
That question prompts another. Fraser suddenly remembers another time,
another place, when Detective Dewey was teasing Stan about Stella being
in love with Alderman Orsini. He remembers how Stan didn't wait then,
didn't hesitate. He attacked Dewey for merely insinuating the woman
he loved had been with another man. Went for his throat like a wildman.
But this time, though the situation is even more damning, Ray hasn't
hit him. This time, Ray, who is always impulsive, has waited. Asked
for an explanation, though Fraser's guilt is written all over his face
in bright red lipstick.
For a moment, just for an instant, a wild thought crosses his mind.
Can it be that?
No. He rejects the idea as absurd, impossible. Ray isn't--He
No. Of course not. He shakes himself. Forces his mind back
to the task at hand. Tells himself that this incident, awkward though
it is, has proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that Ray is, in fact, in
love with Francesca. So how is he going to convince him that she really
didn't touch him just now, when Ray already saw her lipstick smeared
all over his mouth? Logically, there are only two possible explanations
for that: one is that he kissed her, the other that she kissed him.
And neither explanation is likely to meet with favor in his partner's
eyes right now.
It doesn't occur to him to clear himself by pinning the blame for the
kiss on Francescathat would be unthinkable, since it would violate
the code of chivalry long ago drummed into him by his grandmother.
And lying to clear either of them is equally unthinkable. The Code will
not allow him to invent a spurious explanation for the presence of her
lipstick on his mouth, either. Even if he could think of one with Ray
glaring at him, which he can't. So he does the only thing he can, the
only honorable thingthe only fair thing, since this whole mess
began as a kind of jealousy test on his part. The Code does permit little
white lies, for noble purposes such as the preservation of a lady's reputation.
So Ben gallantly tells one, shouldering the blame.
"All right, Ray! If you must know, I lost control and kissed Francesca
just now. But it was entirely my fault, and"
Ray's mouth twists in the ugliest sneer Fraser has ever seen on his handsome
face. His eyes turn dark and bitter with betrayal. He backs away, towards
Francesca, but his eyes never leave Fraser's face. "Yeah, sure!"
he hisses. "Lemme guess: she overpowered you, right? You couldn't
Fraser and Frannie both blink, taken aback by Ray's unexpectedly bitter
Ray stops beside Francesca, waits ruthlessly until she looks up at him.
Then he thrusts his face down until it's only inches from hers and snarls,
"Don't let me spoil yer fun, Frannie! Go aheadhave yer little
nooner! Jump him! See if I care!"
"Ray, stop it!" Frannie cries, so hurt and embarrassed she
has tears in her eyes.
Fraser is shocked too. Even furious. He's never seen Ray behave like
this to a woman, ever. He's at Ray's side in a heartbeat, drawing a
stunned Francesca away from him. "Ray! That was"
Uncalled for, he meant to say, but he never gets the chance.
Kowalski grabs him, shoves him up against the wall, his face twisted
with rage. "Don't," he growls. "Don't talk to me! Just
shut up!" He holds him against the wall, his hands twisted deep
into his jacket. Fraser can feel Ray's pulse pounding in the wrists
that have balled into fists against his chest, and he knows he's a hair
away from explosion.
"Benny!" Francesca whispers from behind them, fear and shock
in her voice. She takes a tentative step forward, as if she means to
try and pull Ray off of him. Fraser cuts his eyes at her, warning her
not to even try it. He doesn't move himself, doesn't raise his hands
or even try to defend himself. He just stares at his partner silently,
hoping his gaze can reach past his rage to the saner man inside him.
After a long moment, Ray lets him go.
But Fraser isn't sure if it's because he's mastered his rageor
if despair overcame it. Ray's eyes are hooded, revealing nothing, but
his shoulders sag a little as he turns suddenly and walks away.
"Ray, don't be like that!" Francesca calls after him, surprising
Fraser. "Come on
I'm the one who kissed him, really. And
I was just kidding, you know
Fraser raises an eyebrow at her belated confession. She sounds as if
she feels sorry for Ray somehow, which is strange under the circumstances.
Ray doesn't pay any attention to her. He strides off without a backward
look at either of them.
Fraser expects Frannie to vent her feelings at last. Throw up her hands,
spout a little Italian and ask, "Geesh! What's up with him?"
But to his surprise, she doesn't. Instead, she stares at the spot where
Ray disappeared around the corner with a stunned look on her face. As
if she's had a minor but very disturbing revelation.
He can't imagine what it could be. And Frannie evidently isn't going
to tell him. Which is so unlike her that it almost scares him. People
aren't reacting at all the way he expects. First he completely miscalculates
the intensity of his partner's reaction to his little experiment, then
Francesca begins acting queerly. It's been a very strange day so
far, Fraser thinks glumly. Not to mention upsetting. He
can pursue dangerous criminals unarmed without a qualm, but the idea
of his friends not getting along worries him. He asks quietly, "Are
you all right, Francesca?"
She nods. Rubs the arm Ray grabbed, then shivers. "Yeah. Yeah,
I'm fine. But I don't think he is."
"I think you're right." He moves to go after him, but Frannie
catches his arm unexpectedly.
"I don't think you should do that, Frase," she says softly.
"Just leave him alone for awhile. I'll try and talk to him later.
He stares down at her, wide-eyed. He knows Ray's unexpected fury scared
her, which makes her offer to make peace between them doubly surprising.
"Are you sure that would be wise, Francesca?" he asks at last,
Frannie nods. "Yeah. I mean
It was kinda my fault, you know?"
she says quickly. "So I should talk to him."
Fraser nods after a moment. Though he could've sworn she was unaware
that Ray evidently has romantic feelings for her, Frannie seems to understand
what just happened better than he does somehow. "All right,"
he nods finally. "I've got to get back to the Consulate. But call
and let me know if he's still upset after you talk to him, would you?"
Frannie smiles at him a little. Pats his arm, but in a proper, sisterly
way this time. "Sure, Frase. I'll let you know. And umm
sorry about that. I didn't mean to
He pats her shoulder. "Don't worry about it," he says, meaning
it. "I've forgotten about it already."
But he is sure Stan hasn't.
Later that night, Ray tries to watch a game on TV. Hawks vs. the Leafs.
Not that it's much of a game, the Hawks are wiping the floor of the rink
with the Leafs, as usual, but he usually enjoys that.
Not tonight. Tonight, he doesn't even see the plays. All he sees, over
and over again in his mind, is himself, acting like an asshole at the
station. Grabbing Fraser and Frannie like some goddamn high school chaperone
gone berserk. Freaking at the sight of Frannie's lipstick on Ben's gorgeous
mouth. Knowing she'd had a taste of what he'd been wanting so badly
for so long, and that she might've had moremight've bagged the
Mountie in a closet, for shit's sake!--if he hadn't come along and stopped
Freak, he groans to himself. Because he'd had absolutely no right
to do that. No right to grab them, less still to holler at them. If
they want to screw each other's brains out in a closet, what business
is it of his? After all, Frannie isn't even really his sister
She'd surprised the hell out of him, afterwards, too. Despite the way
he'd grabbed her, hard enough to hurt, she hadn't confronted him, hadn't
said a word about his manhandling or his screaming fit of jealousy.
He'd avoided her after his rage died away because remorse had set in,
and he didn't think he could stand to hear the angry words she was entitled
to heap on his idiotic head. Hell, knowing Frannie, she was liable to
hit him with something to boot. Besides, he was too busy hating himself
to deal with her hatred too.
But she didn't hate him. Didn't hit him. Didn't even scream at him.
Instead, she came up to his desk a couple of hours after it happened
and asked him quietly if he was okay. Her big brown eyes were worried
and sincere, like he really was her brother and she didn't want anything
coming between them. "It's okay," she'd said, laying her hand
gently on his for a second. "I understand, Ray."
And he'd had the strangest feeling that she did; and that she didn't
hate him for it, either. Her eyes had held his for a long time, and
something wordless had passed between them, something warm and good that
he couldn't put a name to. She'd given him the feeling somehow that
she wouldn't be dragging Fraser into any more closets for awhile. At
least, not while he was around.
"Thanks," he said. "I'm sorry."
Not the greatest speech in the world, or the most original either, but
then he'd never been good with words. But Frannie hadn't seemed to mind
how tongue-tied he was after she touched him. She'd smiled at him anyway,
then gone quietly back to her desk.
But he wondered if she understood his reaction, if she guessed that her
unexpected forgiveness had overwhelmed him. He wasn't used to being
let off the hook like that. Couldn't quite believe it. She'd been far
nicer to him than Stella would've been if he'd grabbed her and yelled
at her like that. Stella would've taken his head off, would've made
him feel like pond scum. But Frannie had smiled at him, touched his
hand, let him know they were still tight. Maybe it was because she was
Italian, and more used to noisy displays of emotionor maybe she
just wasn't the vengeful type. Maybe both. All he knew for sure was,
she'd forgiven him when he didn't deserve it. She'd made him really
glad, for once, that her real brother was away, and that he could be
her brother, at least for awhile.
"Flowers," he mumbles as the Hawks score onscreen. "I'll
have to get her some flowers."
That will make Frannie happy, and make him feel better about behaving
like such a shithead. Like he halfway deserves having her for a sister,
even if it's only for awhile.
But what the hell am I gonna do about Fraser?
He groans again. Frannie might understand now, but he doubts Fraser
does. How the hell is he going to explain the way he went ballistic
on him for kissing her? He acted like a jealous boyfriend, when he and
Frannie aren't even dating!
Get yer brains caught in yer zipper? he hears himself snarl at
his partner for the thousandth time. He winces. Yeah, someone did,
he thinks sourly. But it wasn't Big Red. It was you.
He wonders if Fraser will draw the safe conclusion that he has the
hots for Frannie because of it. Wonders if he has the guts to set him
straight, tell him the truth.
He shuts off the TV before the game even ends. Fuck the game.
He doesn't give a damn. All he's given a damn about for months now is
Benton Fraser, the perfect Mountie. Who somehow managed to look gorgeous
even after being dragged out of a dirty closet with bright red lipstick
all over his mouth. Who kissed a woman instead of him. Who'd stood
there begging him, with those beautiful eyes, not to lose control and
let the stupid scene become a knock-down dragout brawl.
Fraser was the only person in the universe who could've stopped him at
And the only one who could hurt him enough to have caused it.
Ray groans again. What the hell am I gonna do?
Fraser discovers, later that afternoon, that Frannie is as good as her
word. She calls him to tell him that she's spoken to Ray, and that he's
calmed down about the incident between them in the closet. "He
just lost it for a minute, but he's okay now. He's not mad at us anymore."
"I'm glad," Fraser says. But he's also curious. "What
did you say to him?"
Frannie is unexpectedly evasive. "Oh, you know
The usual stuff,"
she says airily. "Sister stuff. I know I screw up with the computer
sometimes, but I'm good at that."
Fraser smiles long distance at this woman who is the sister he never
had. "Your computer skills are quite good for someone who hasn't
had any previous training, Francesca," he says warmly, "and
your skills as a sister have always been outstanding. Thank you."
He feels her smile back. "You're welcome, Benton," she says
But Ray himself doesn't call. Fraser decides it might be wise to let
him cool off for awhile, despite Frannie's reassurance, so he doesn't
go near the 27th for awhile either.
That night, when he finally goes to bed, Ray has the Merman dream again
He's had it before. Many times. It started some time after he nearly
drowned on the Henry Allen.
He is floating in dark, icy water. Swimming as best he can, which isn't
well. Trying to bloom like a flower, but floundering instead. But he
keeps going, because the water's so cold and he's scared. Terrified.
He has to get out but he's trapped, there's no end to the water, and
he's running out of air.
He pushes forward, but his panic mounts. It's dark, and so cold, and
his heart is pounding so hard it seems to boom in his ears. There's
pressure building in his chest, building
I can't breathe
His terrified heartbeat grows louder, until it fills the world.
He can't swim any further, knows nothing but the intense, aching need
to breathe. He falters, drifts down in the coldness, starts to black
out. Float away from his body.
Then it happens. Something touches him. Something warm, impossibly
warm in that icy water. Big, strong hands cup his cheeks, hold his face
warm, commanding mouth closes over his, forces his lips open, breathes
life into him again. Air. Warm, beautiful, wonderful air. He gulps
at it, takes all the stranger has in several deep gasps. Feels the contact
like an electric shock all through his body
Then he opens his eyes. Sees long, dark hair floating about him, black
as a raven's wing. Azure eyes, blue as the sea, smile into his as the
stranger breaks the kiss, floats effortlessly in front of him. He sees
pale white skin, a gorgeous torso with broad shoulders and well-defined
biceps, and for a second, he thinks I know you
But then he sees the tail. The long, scaly, bright red tail stretching
out below the stranger's upper body, where his hips and legs should be.
But he doesn't have legs. Just that scarlet tail with flecks of gold,
that ends in a graceful, bifurcated curve like a whale's tail.
Jesus! It's a mermaid, he thinks, awestruck. Then, with
a second glance at the superbly muscled chest, he corrects himself.
No, make that a merman.
Ray blinks in wonder. He's never seen anything like it before. Never
expected to. The merman looks back at him calmly, its eyes dancing with
secret merriment. Its tail beats slightly, gracefully back and forth
in the water, in flashes of red and gold, keeping it close to him. Its
hair hovers about it, moving in slow, dark, sinuous swirls, almost as
if it has a life of its own. It's the most beautiful, magical, incredible
thing he's ever seen.
He reaches for him, enchanted, longing to be kissed again, and the merman
comes to him. Draws him close again, long dark lashes sweeping down
over those sea blue eyes as he kisses Ray gently. The merman tastes
salty and sweet at the same time. Ray draws breath from him again as
their tongues entwine, as the merman's strong arms enfold him, dispelling
the chill of the water, rocking him in a gentle, tidal rhythm. He relaxes
completely, knowing he's safe now. The merman has saved him, he loves
him, he won't let him drown. He's making love to him with that salty-sweet
mouth; and Ray is aroused beyond belief. Rock-hard, just from kissing
Then the merman slides his tail between his legs. Begins rubbing it
against his crotch as they hang there in the water. Twines the end around
his leg as he undulates against him, muscles rippling
whole body around him. Ray clutches at the merman's broad back, buries
a hand in the long, silky dark hair that floats around him. It's cool,
silky, and incredibly erotic sliding between his fingers. His heart
is pounding, pounding from the pleasure of their silent, aquatic lovemaking.
He's delirious, the blood's pounding in his head, his whole body is one
throbbing pulse of ecstasy
He comes. Hard, so hard his whole body shakes with it. He springs bolt
upright in bed, spurting, throbbing, gasping for breath. When it's over,
he reaches out blindly for his merman lover, but the darkness around
him is empty. For a second, all he knows is that he's lost him. And
even on the heels of his climax, that realization stabs at his heart.
He cries out hoarsely into the darkness. "Benny!"
But there's no merman with red scales there. Not even a Mountie in a
red uniform. Then he realizes: It was just a dream.
He's alone in his bed. Alone.
He lies back, panting and sweaty and completely wretched. "God
damn it!" Goddamn dream! He hates it, hates it with a passionbut
he can't stop dreaming it. And he knows why.
And that makes it even worse.
"Screwin' a goddamn fish," he breathes, trying to banish the
memory of magic with crude words. "It's stupid. Shit!" But
cursing it doesn't remove the ache in his heart. Doesn't make his room
any less empty. He rubs at his stinging eyes, but can't stop the tears
that roll down his cheeks, over his lips.
They taste salty. Like the merman.
Fraser waits patiently for two days after the kissing incident, to see
if Ray will call him to mend fences, so to speak. He doesn't. But two
days later, much to his surprise, Ray's GTO is parked outside his apartment
building when he leaves for work in the morning. Though he hasn't spoken
to him since the incident with Francesca, Ray waves to him casually,
as if nothing has happened. Fraser climbs into the car, trying not to
look as surprisedor as relievedas he feels. "Hello,
Ray," he says, retreating into formality for safety's sake. "How
Ray smiles at him. "Hangin' in there, Benton buddy," he says.
The smile is brief, but the tone's affectionate. Fraser gets the message:
All is forgiven. But Ray doesn't want to talk about what happened.
But Fraser himself is madly curious. What did Frannie say to him,
to calm his rage? What magic words did she utter, to tame the Kowalski
beast? "I see," he says. "Uhh
Stan pulls away from the curb suddenly, his fingers tightening unconsciously
on the wheel. He looks at the road, avoiding Fraser's eyes. "Yeah,
Frannie talked to me. We're cool," he says.
Fraser looks down at his hat. "That's good. I'm glad," he
says. And he is, but he's still frustrated by Kowalski's terseness.
What exactly did Frannie say? What did Ray say to her? And what
should I say to him, to make up for my part in this mess? He turns
his hat around in his hands, thinking about it. Sneaks a glance at Stan,
trying to read his mood. But he has his dark sunglasses on, and his
leather jacket, and his eyes are on the road. He's in full Cool mode,
and Fraser knows he won't get another word out of him about it. He sighs
to himself. Because something, some sixth sense tells him that Ray is
still unhappy. The dark cloud that's been hanging over his head has
not been dispelled one whit by that nonsense with Francesca; and he knows
he is partly to blame.
He swallows hard, nerving himself for more than just an apology. He's
decided to stick to his original plan, and tell Ray that he's not interested
in Francesca romantically, so that he will feel free to pursue her himself,
and stop misunderstanding her little gestures towards him. Then Fraser
remembers her ardent kiss the other day in the closet, and blushes a
little. All right, so maybe Ray didn't entirely misunderstand that
Francesca wants him, and she's never made any bones about it.
But Fraser suspects that Ray wants her just as badly. And since he's
an attractive man in his own right, perhaps if he feels the way is clear
to court Francesca, he'll win her over in time. Fraser fervently hopes
so, since Francesca's ardent pursuit has caused him no end of difficulties
over the last few years. "I'm sorry
about the other day,"
he mutters at last.
Fraser clears his throat awkwardly. "I don't
Well, that is,
Francesca is a wonderful woman," he stutters. "Attractive,
Did you know she also cooks very well too?"
Stan shoots him a sideways look. Ignores his complimentary words about
Frannie, and focuses on his original apology. "So? What about
the other day?"
Fraser turns his hat over, vastly uncomfortable. "What I'm trying
to say is, that was a mistake. On my part. I've been lonely, and I
it's just that Francesca can be very
persuasive, and I"
"Lost yer head?" Ray says.
"You could call it that
"Got swept away?"
"Something like that, yes"
"Were too sexy for yer shirt?" Ray suggests.
"What?" Ben asks, completely confused.
Ray grins. "Never mind. I'm just messin' with ya'. Don't worry
about it, Fraser. It's over. Finito Benito. Anyway, I got a little
'swept away' there too. Sorry I yelled at ya'."
"It's all right."
What were you sayin' about Frannie?"
Just that she's a great cook, and she has a kind
she's like a sister to me," he says carefully, staring
out the window. "Just like a sister."
Ray turns his head and gives him a long, silent look. Fraser wishes
desperately that he could see behind his dark glasses, see what emotions
are swimming in those intense blue eyes, but no such luck. After a long
moment, Ray turns his head back to the road again. "Uh huh,"
is all he says.
Fraser gets the feeling somehow that Ray doesn't know what he is talking
about. He isn't surprised. These are deep emotional waters, and he's
often been accused of babbling hopelessly when required to speak of such
things. He assumes he hasn't been very clear this time, either. "What
I'm trying to say is, I'm not
That is, I have no romantic feelings
Stan gives him another sideways glance. "Uh huh," he says
again. Only this time it's tinged with disbelief.
"Truly," Fraser insists.
Stan is suddenly glad he has his dark glasses on. Because he suddenly
realizes that what he thought was just kind of silly babble about Frannie
isn't really babble at all. Fraser is trying to tell him something.
Something important. That he doesn't want her. Despite the kiss in
the closet, the lipstick, and his blushes and all. And the implications
of that are so stunning that Stan's afraid he may lose control of the
GTO. He tightens suddenly sweaty hands on the wheel.
Damn! Is he saying what I think he's saying?
Naawww. Can't be.
After all, he and the Mountie have had communication problems before.
Actually, they have them fairly often. And he can't afford to be wrong
about this. Needs to be sure this is real. Not some pleasant little
daydream his imagination (which is overactive in the extreme regarding
the Mountie) may have cooked up. So he pretends to be skeptical. "Uh
huh," he says, in his best 'Yeah, right, tell me another one' voice.
Holding the wheel hard all the while, so his hands don't start shaking;
and watching Fraser just as hard, out of the corner of his eye.
"Truly," Fraser says. And gives him the big-eyed Mountie look,
to prove it.
Stan can't look away. That look is gospel, like the Bible, something
to be sworn by. If Fraser says something and gives you the Look, you'd
better believe it. Damnhe means it!
He stares into those wide blue eyes, lets himself drown in them, in the
Look. Lets himself imagine, for just a minute, that it means something
more than what Fraser has said. Not just that he's not in love with
Frannie, but that he's in love with
The next thing he knows, his little daydream is interrupted. Fraser's
perfect lips are moving. Forming his name. Yelling at him. "Ray.
Ray. Ray! RAY!"
Ray breaks out of his stunned trance just in time to see that he's
somehow hit the gas while drooling over the Mountie. They're now going
85 mph., and he's about to drive the GTO up the back of a Caddy in front
of them. Fraser is clinging, white-knuckled and wide-eyed, to the dashboard
while shrieking his name. He swerves madly into the next lane at the
last possible second, narrowly avoiding a collision.
Both cop and Mountie breathe heavily for a moment. Neither speaks.
Then Fraser picks up his hat, puts it on his lap again, and clears his
throat. He's even paler than is normal for him. "I'm sorry,"
he says. "If I'd known it was going to upset you that much, I wouldn't
have told you that I'm not in love with Francesca."
Ray grimaces, highly embarrassed at his momentary lapse. He grits his
teeth and hangs onto the wheel grimly, pretending to be in complete control.
Not just of the GTO, but himself too. "Upset? Me? I'm not upset!
What gave you that idea?" he snorts.
"Well, the way you almost hit that Cadillac was certainly indicative"
"Indicative!" he echoes scornfully. "Whaddaya' mean,
'indicative'? What the hell kinda word is that?" He actually knows
perfectly well what it means, but he also knows exactly how to distract
the Mountie. He's been down this verbal path before, and knows there's
no surer way to get him off track than to mock his amazing vocabulary.
And sparring with him about that will give Ray time to recover from his
trance, and their near accident.
"It's an adjective, Ray, which means 'to indicate or point out'"
Stan tries not to smile. Works every time! "Then why don't you
just say so? Say 'pointing out'! Use plain English, for once! Indicative,
"All right then. In plain English, 'I'd like to point out that
I think you're upset because you almost crashed the car'!" Fraser
says, a trace of exasperation in his normally calm voice. "Is that
Ray shrugs. "Guess so. I just don't happen to agree with it.
I was makin' a lane change, that's all. Do it all the time." He's
relaxed by now. Hidden behind his glasses again. Cool. Tough. Completely
in control. Happy that he's managed to distract Fraser from the treacherous
subject of what he doesn't feel for Frannie, and may or may not feel
for anyone else. For him.
He needs time to deal with the whole thing. Can't take all that in now,
while he's driving. It makes his head spin, fill with fantasies of what
he could do if he just pulled the GTO off the road and
"Lane change, my eye," Fraser mutters.
Ray tries not to grin. "What?"
Fraser sighs. Turns his hat in his hands. Gives him a sideways look.
"Nothing," he says at last.
Good, Ray thinks. This is good.
I need time
As it turns out, he doesn't get much. Seven days later, he and Fraser
are crouched behind a filing cabinet in an old warehouse where they've
chased a member of a ring of computer thieves to ground. The problem
is, the thief is bold and well-armed, and holed up behind an even larger
bunch of cabinets, where he can shoot at them with impunity. And Ray
is running out of ammo.
And scared shitless, worried that Fraser is going to get killed. That
he's going to lose him
"Keep yer head down, dammit!" he yells, as the Mountie stands
up a bit behind him. When the perp nearly shoots a hole in his hat,
Ray almost loses his lunch. He's not a guy who thinks much about the
future, but all of a sudden he's having horrible visions of Fraser in
a coffin, and him left all alone. Shit! Goddamn idiot! I've never
even told him how I feel, and he's tryin' to eat a bullet! "Down!"
he hisses, heart pounding. He turns his head to make sure Fraser is
obeying him this time. "That means down, not up! In case you haven't
noticed, his aim is pretty good!"
Ray's worried enough that he's already put his glasses on. And he'd
never admit it, but his hand is so slick with scared sweat that he's
having trouble holding onto his gun.
As usual, the Mountie is unflappable. "Oh, I've noticed that he
can shoot, Ray. But I've also noticed" He starts to rise
Ray grabs his lanyard and yanks him back down hard, just as another bullet
whines overhead. "What the hell did I just say?"
"That he's getting a bit careless," Fraser continues,
unperturbed. "He's starting to lean far enough out when I stand
up that if you could just aim for his right hand"
"Oh, sure! You just stand up and get your head blown off, so I
can get a good shot at him!" Ray sneers, to cover the fact that
Fraser's idea of a plan terrifies him. TV detectives are always doing
shit like that, shooting guns out of perp's hands, but in real life,
it's damn difficult. Even though he has his glasses on, he's not sure
he can do it.
"Try, Ray," Fraser says sternly. Then he pulls his lanyard
away and jumps to his feet again. So Ray sights desperately at the perp,
heart hammering so hard it feels like it'll burst right out of his chest.
Difficult or not, he's got to try the shot, because this is Fraser.
Please, God, please! he prays. Don't let anything happen to
And then he sees it. Fraser's right, the little scumbag is leanin'
out too far! He aims at his hand. Prays please, just lemme make
Two shots ring out, at the same second. The perp screams, drops his
gun and falls to the floor, cradling his bloody hand. But Ray has no
time to pat himself on the back for making the shot, because at the same
time, he hears Fraser grunt behind him, hears him stumble.
He's on his feet in a second and reaching for him. Doesn't realize his
face is white with fear as he looks down at the rip in Fraser's right
sleeve. A bullet's gone though it a few inches below the shoulder.
"Fuck!" he breathes, his hands shaking. "You okay?"
He isn't, he's been shot!I let Frase get shot
"Language, Ray!" the Mountie says primly. "I'm fine,
it's only a flesh wound."
Ray isn't very reassured by that, since Fraser would say the same thing
if he were on the ground with bullets in both his arms, legs and every
vital organ. "Lemme see!" he demands, freaked by the sight
of his blood. He peels his ripped sleeve back with trembling hands,
sees that the bullet dug a deep crease along the outside of his bicep.
It's bleeding and no doubt it hurts like hellbut it won't kill
"Okay. Okay, that's not too bad," Ray croaks, trying to sound
cool. To look cool, instead of on the verge of complete panic, like
he was. He can't lose it in front of Fraser. Even though he now knows
he doesn't have a thing for Frannie, he still doesn't want him to suspect
how he feels, either. Lose your partner to a bullet, or to a guilty
secretgone is still gone.
But Fraser is getting impatient. "Quick, Ray! Go get the thief,
before he gets away!"
"No. I'm gettin' you a bus first."
"That's really not necessary, Ray."
Ray ignores him. He pulls out his cell phone and calls it in, asks for
Fraser is busy watching the thief. "Hurry, Ray!" he urges
as soon as he hangs up.
Ray draws a deep, shaky breath. Runs an unsteady hand across his eyes.
"Okay. You just stay here," he says. Only then does he go
after the perp, like he's supposed to. When he runs, gun in hand again,
to get him, the thief's lying on the ground moaning and clutching his
bloody hand. "Stay down, you shithead!" Ray yells. "And
kick the gun away!"
The guy moans in protest. "You shot me, man!"
He keeps his gun trained on his head. "KICK IT NOW!" he yells,
ruthless. You think that's bad
Yer lucky, you little sonuvabitch.
If you'd really hurt him, I'd've capped you.
He watches as the guy kicks his gun away. "Smart move,"
he says. He doesn't let himself think of what he would've done if the
little twit had killed Ben. He doesn't even want to imagine that.
Fraser watches his partner closely as he disarms the thief. The Mountie's
apparent calm is only a mask. Inside, he's profoundly disquieted.
Why is Ray so upset? Kowalski is a seasoned policeman, with a
lot of gun battles under his belt, but he turned white at the sight of
his blood. Dead white, as if he were going to faint. His hands shook,
and his voice was a hoarse, panicked croak as he examined his wound.
It fairly crackles with rage now, as he screams at the downed suspect.
The fact that he's been shot has changed the situation from a normal
arrest into something intensely personal for Ray.
Then again--is it his wound that set Stan off? Or is this just part
and parcel of his strange behavior lately?
Keeping a hand firmly clamped to his arm to stem his bleeding, Fraser
wonders. He remembers the wild suspicion that crossed his mind the day
Frannie kissed him, and Stan became similarly enraged.
He's tried to put that suspicion out of his mind, but it returns to haunt
him now, as Stan hauls the thief roughly to his feet and reads him his
rights. He'd assumed his wild explosion that day was caused by jealousy
over Franniebut now he's not so sure. Though Ray has known for
a week that he's not romantically interested in her, his behavior towards
her hasn't changed in the slightest. Though he did send her flowers
the day after the incident, it was clear they were meant as an apology.
He's made no effort to ask her out on a date. Hardly the actions
of a man who's wildly in love with Francesca.
Still, everything Ray has done lately--his brooding silences, his
fit of rage at Frannie's kisses, his preoccupation while driving, and
his overreaction to his current wound--would fit the pattern of a man
who is very much in love. The only question is, with whom?
Fraser thinks he knows. He closes his eyes, more frightened of the possible
answer to that than he was of getting shot.
"Hey, Frase!" Ray calls instantly. "You okay?"
Despite his duties with their prisoner, Ray is obviously still watching
him closely. Still very worried about him. Fraser groans silently at
the implications of that. Dear Godwhat if it's true? Then
he opens his eyes again, and tries to smile. "Yes. I'm fine,"
he calls back. Contradicting the popularly held idea at the 27th
District that Mounties don't lie.
That night, Ray can't sleep. He's put away another bad guy. Knows he
should feel good about it. But he doesn't. He keeps hearing those bullets
whining over Fraser's head, keeps seeing his blood, knows how close he
came to losing himand it makes him shudder. Makes him feel sick
inside. Fraser has saved his butt many times, so many he's stopped counting.
He even saved him from drowning on that damn ship with that buddy kiss
But I let him get shot.
He can't get past it. He told Thatcher once that he wouldn't even know
who he is anymore without the Mountie. He isn't happy about that, never
knew it would happen, but it's true. Fraser's more than his partner,
more than his friend
I love him, he thinks. And it scares him. Bad. Enough to make
him want to run for the hills. But where would he go? Where on earth
could he possibly go that would be far enough away to make him forget
those blue eyes and that brave heart? Where could he ever find another
guy who will like him and accept him like Fraser does?
And why can't that be enough?
Because I want him too. I didn't ask for that to happen either, but
He runs a worried hand through his hair, touseling it even more than
it usually is. Funny, how he used to think losing Stella was the worst
thing that could ever happen to him. That had been bad, that had been
really badbut this is even worse. At least he'd been able to tell
her how she'd hurt him; at least they'd been able to talk about it.
He'd talked to his mom about it too, and Benand it had helped.
And at least he and Stella are still friends, even though they aren't
But he can't tell Ben, or his mom, or anyone about this--and he's never
been Ben's lover. Not even once. And he's never going to be. Because
he's broken all the rules this time, fallen in love with a guyand
not just any guy, but Mr. Straight personified, who's never going to
even look at him like that
He finds himself pacing the floor. Up and down, up and down. He knows
it isn't going to solve anything, but it's not his nature to sit still.
And he's so wrought up now, after almost losing Ben earlier, that it's
either move or jump out of his skin. So he paces some more.
But it just keeps hurting. It keeps getting worse until he can't stand
it. He keeps seeing Fraser's arm, and the blood. He let him get shot
today, almost let him get killed
When he found his wound wasn't
serious, he was shaking with relief. Shaking. It was all he could do
to keep from hugging him once he saw that he was all right.
But I didn't even do that, he thinks bitterly. Couldn't.
'Cuz what would he've thought? He paces faster. hating himself.
What the hell kind of life is this, where I'm livin' that kind of
lie? Where I can't even touch the one person I love the most, when I
almost lost him? Huh?
He paces, but all he finds are questions. All he feels is a huge hollow
inside of him, with pain licking around the edges of it. Swallowing
him whole, like white fire. He doesn't find any relief; and there are
Finally, in desperation, he turns on some music. Tries to dance to it,
imagining he's holding the Mountie. But that only makes him laugh.
Bitterly. Because he's never done that, so he can't even imagine what
it would be like. Who the hell would lead?
Another stupid question he can't answer.
One too many. He shuts off the stereo, opens a cabinet door. Takes
out a bottle of Stoly, plunks down on the couch and starts swigging.
It burns down his throat. So what. He sips some more, staring into
space. Trying to blot out his guilt, and the sight of Ben's eyes staring
back at him.
Language, Ray! The words echo in his mind, taunting him. He
takes another, deeper pull at the bottle. His eyes sting. His vision
blurs a bit. And he tells himself it's the vodka.
It has to be.
Deep in the night, Ray hears a knock on his door. He's almost finished
the bottle of vodka by then, and though it hasn't put much of a dent
in his pain, it has made him foggy. A bit sleepy. Though that just
could be his body booking on him, after the day he's had. Wanting to
shut down for awhile. He's not sure.
Either way, he doesn't feel like getting up. Doesn't want to talk to
anyone. About anything.
"Go 'way," he mutters.
The knock comes again. Louder this time. Too loud for a woman,
his cop brain thinks, automatically assessing the sound despite his exhaustion.
And I didn't phone for a pizza
Maybe he did. Because there's another knock. Clearly, whoever it is
isn't going to take No for an answer. Must be some delivery boy,
wantin' his tip, he thinks. He gets blearily to his feet, fumbling
in his pockets for money. Finds some, hopes it's enough for a pizza,
and stumbles to the door.
Opens itto find Fraser standing there.
Kowalski doesn't answer his door at first. Fraser knocks again and again,
growing more and more concerned. Ray's car is parked outside, so he
should be in. Why doesn't he answer?
Maybe he's asleep
Fraser doesn't stop knocking, though. After the way Ray's been acting
latelyespecially this afternoonhe's willing to wake him and
face his wrath, just to assure himself that he's okay. Fraser doesn't
have any hard evidence that he isn't, but he's worried because Kowalski
acted strange when he drove him back to the Consulate after the paramedics
were done bandaging his arm. Despite his earlier concern, he was withdrawn
afterwards, almost completely silent. Clammed up, as Americans were
fond of saying. Fraser isn't sure if he regretted his overreaction to
the shooting, or if he's angry with him for endangering himself. He
needs to know, because Ray is his partner and his friend.
But he has another question to ask him, as well. A question that has
to do with partnership, and friendship.
He needs to know if Ray wants to be more to him than that.
He knows it won't be easy. He's scared to even ask, afraid that Kowalski
may punch him, or shoot him himself, if he's guessed wrong. And the
idea that he may be right is even more terrifying. Once, he wouldn't
have asked. Once, he would have stayed silent. Kept himself safe.
But that was before Victoria. Before Ray Vecchio. Before he had loved
and lost twice over, and learned just how important love can be to a
man who has known far too much loneliness.
Some men would have turned inward after such pain. Fraser has been wise
enough not to. He's learned the hard way how rare love really is, and
how precious. So this time, scared though he is by the unknowns involved
in this particular question, he will ask it anyway.
Ray deserves at least that much.
And perhapsjust perhapshe does too.
Finally, Ray opens his door. He stands there clinging to it, dressed
in a tank top and jeans. He's barefoot. His hair stands straight up
as usual. He blinks like an owl. Sways ever so slightly. He looks
dissheveled, tired, maybe a little depressed. And he's been drinking.
Vodka, by the smell of it.
Fraser doesn't care.
He feels a wave of pure affection sweep over him, strong and unexpected.
Ray Vecchio may have left him, but the man who took his place has burrowed
deep into his carefully guarded heart somehow. Ray but not Ray
is definitely not Ray Vecchio, but he's as good a cop, as brave a man,
as close a friend. And Stan seems to need him somehow, in a way his
old Ray never did. A rose, he thinks, by any other name
His affectionate little reverie is broken abruptly. "Fraser!"
Ray croaks. "What the hell are you doin' here?"
That's so like Ray that he has to hide a smile. Well
exactly poetry, he thinks, but it will do.
"I couldn't sleep," he says. Which is at least partially
true. He couldn't have slept without knowing that Ray was all right,
anyway. "And I wondered if you'd like some company."
Ray blinks again. Doesn't say anything for a minute. Fraser waits patiently,
half expecting to be told gruffly that it's late, that Ray is tired,
or that he doesn't feel like talking
Instead, Kowalski suddenly pulls open his door. "Sure," he
says, and motions him inside.
Ray scratches his head. Wonders what the hell he's doing. He's had
a hard time keeping his cool around Fraser under normal conditions lately.
He doesn't even want to think about what he might do now that he's halfway
hammered, and still scared from the shooting earlier. But he took one
look at him, one little glance at those blue eyes and that earnest face,
and he couldn't send him away. Couldn't. But he tries not to stare
as the Mountie moves past him.
Still, he can't help noticing that Fraser looks perfectly neat, as usual.
The bandage on his arm is out of sight under a blue shirt that's neatly
tucked into blue jeans. No hat, but his hair, as always, is perfect.
By contrast, Ray knows he must look like something the cat dragged in,
ate, and then spat up again. He runs a hand blearily through his hair,
not sure if he's making it better or worse. He knows his eyes are probably
red, but there's nothing he can do about that.
Fraser pauses by his couch. Stands there staring at him, with a funny
look in his eyes. Almost like he's thinking of some private joke Ray
doesn't know about.
It makes him nervous. Reminds him somehow of his damn merman dream.
For a second, just an instant, he sees long, dark hair floating around
Fraser's head. Feels a hot mouth on his
Shit. He turns away, instantly aroused. Don't be doin' that,
he warns himself. Just don't go there
This is going to be
hard enough without that. "Come on, siddown," he says awkwardly,
gesturing towards his couch. "You want a beer or something?"
"No, thank you, Ray."
He rubs his forehead, feeling stupid. "Yeah, that's right. I forgot.
You don't drink." Or smoke, or sleep with guys. He forces
the thought away, concentrates on being polite. Not that he can ever
hope to match Fraser in that department, but he has to be on his best
behavior now that the Mountie's here. He'd never admit it, but Fraser's
opinion of him matters. He doesn't want him to think he's a hopeless
drunk. "How 'bout some tea or somethin'?"
"Tea would be nice. Thank you."
"Okay. I don't have any of that bark stuff you like, but"
"Whatever you have will be fine, Ray."
He pads into his kitchen, trying to remember if he still has some of
that tea he bought because Fraser said he liked it. It's the only reason
he'd have any, he never touches the stuff himself. He just keeps it
around for the Mountie. "It's Gary something
no, Gray. Gray
Earl? Is that it?" he mutters to himself, opening cupboards.
"If you're talking about the brand of tea, Ray, it's Earl Gray,"
Fraser says instantly. Ray shakes his head, smiling. Those guys
were right. He's got ears like a bat. "Yeah, that's the one."
Dammit, where the hell did I put it?
He rummages around, finally finds the tin of Earl Gray in the back of
a cabinet, up high. But drinking has made him clumsy, and while he's
getting it out, he knocks over a bottle of Bacardi Breezer. He grabs
for it, and misses. It falls out of the cabinet and onto the floor.
Breaks with a big crash. Splatters across the linoleum. He closes his
"Ray?" Fraser is on his feet in a second, beside him in
Great. "It's okay. I was gettin' the tea, and I just dropped
a bottle o' rum cooler," he mumbles, feeling like a fool. "No
big deal. I'll just clean it up"
He puts the tea down, grabs a towel from beside the sink, crouches down
to wipe up the spilled liquor.
"Here," Fraser says. "I'll help you."
Next thing Ray knows, Fraser's grabbed a towel too, and they're both
crouched on the floor, knees almost touching, swabbing up the mess.
"You don't haveta do that," Ray says, almost twitching because
he's so close. "I can get it
Ben smiles at him. "No problem."
Then, in the midst of their swabbing, their hands collide. Ray freezes.
Stares at the big, pale, muscular hand touching his, and swallows hard.
Wonders what Ben would do if he grabbed it, kissed it, pulled him down
onto the floor
Oh, right! a little voice inside him snarls.
There's a good idea! That'd turn him on for sure! What a brilliant
plan! Why do it in a bed, when you can roll around on the floor in broken
glass? Hell, that's probably how they do it in Canada! What, are you
outta' your friggin' mind?
He shakes his head to clear it. The stupid impulse passes, but he feels
dizzy. He feels Ben, who's gone very still beside him, watching him.
Willing him to look up. He tries hard not to look at him, but he can't
stop himself. He remembers how he once thought Fraser's head might explode
if he ever figured out how he feels about him. He can't resist checking,
now, to see if it's still there, or if it's splattered all over his kitchen
out of sheer shock. To see if Fraser knows
When he looks up, Fraser's head is still there, and he's watching him
closely. His eyes are bright blue, intensely alertand aware of
Ray pulls back as if he's been burned. Snatches his hand away so fast
it's a blur. He's confused, embarrassed. His heart is beating way too
fast. Fogged from the vodka, he can't think clearly. He doesn't know
what to do, what to say to make that look in Fraser's eyes go away, to
make that whole stupid moment just vanish. Part of him wishes he could
think of some smart lie to cover up what he just did. But part of himthe
drunk part, or maybe the crazy parthas this insane urge to tell
him the truth. Just tell him. Stop hiding. Quit all the lying that
he hates anyway.
"I'm sorry I didn't plug him sooner," he blurts out. It isn't
the big bad truth he wants to tell, but it'll do for starters.
Fraser blinks at him in surprise. "What?"
"That thief. Burlinson," he says. "I'm sorry I let him
There. It's out. Some of it, at least. He feels the load on his shoulders
lighten a bit. He even risks a glance at Fraser, to see how he's taking
"Is that what's been bothering you, Ray?" Fraser asks; and
the note of surprise in his voice goes a long way towards alleviating
Stan's guilt. He can tell, before his friend says another word, that
Fraser doesn't blame him for itand that makes all the difference.
Ray shrugs, chokes down the growing impulse to let it all out, not just
part of the truth but all of it. The whole ugly, messy, painful truth.
That he loves him, that he needs him so much he almost panicked when
he was in danger earlierthat he wants him so bad it's all he can
do not to pull him down onto the floor and take him. Right here, right
now. Best friend or not. Broken glass or not.
But he doesn't dare. He knows Fraser will forgive a lot. Hell, he's
even forgiven him for letting him get shot. But even he has his limits,
and Ray doesn't want to test them just now. So he just says, "Yeah.
It's been buggin' me. I feel like I shoulda' got him sooner. Then you
wouldn't have gotten hurt."
Fraser suddenly reaches out, puts a hand on his shoulder gently. "I
had no idea you saw it that way, Ray," he says, just as gently.
"I don't. My arm is fine, it hardly even hurts. And you're not
responsible for shooting me, Mr. Burlinson is. Besides, getting shot
is a risk we both run as policemen. And there was no way you could have
shot him sooner, since he was behind cover until the instant you did.
You made an excellent shot under difficult circumstances, hitting his
hand at a distance while under fire like that. Not many cops could have
done it. So you didn't fail in your duty, Ray. You protected me. As
usual. If you hadn't been there with your gun, I might've been seriously
injured. So please don't worry about it anymore."
Ray's skin is only partially covered by the thin strap of his tank top,
so he feels the thrill of Fraser's touch, of that big, warm hand, right
down to his toes. And his words are even better. Fraser hasn't just
forgiven him, he's made it sound like he's thanking him! He's actually
made him feel proud. Proud of his marksmanship. Proud of himself as
a cop. Fraser is the only guy he knows who'd say something like that
to him, with a bullet wound still in his arm. He feels a surge of love
for Ben, so strong it's almost painful.
He has to pull away from him before he loses control completely, and
tries to hug him. Or something even worse
"Well, okay. But
next time, keep your head down when I tell you to, okay?" he gripes,
trying to sound tough.
But Fraser knows better. "All right, Ray," he smiles.
And that smile does it. Ray's had more than he can handle alreadythat
warm, sunny beam turns him inside out. "Here. Lemme just
get a broom," he chokes out. It gives him an excuse to get up.
To get away. He needs one. If he doesn't get away, right now, he's
going to throw Fraser on the floor and have his way with him.
He stands up, heads blindly for the broom closet.
Ben's voice is very quiet, but Ray cuts him off, sensing danger. "Here's
the broom," he interrupts. "I'll get this. It'll just take
a second. Then I'll make ya' some tea, okay? Go siddown, Frase."
Get out. He doesn't say it, but he does. And he isn't the only
one who can read body language. Fraser gets to his feet obediently,
and goes back to the couch without a word. But Ray can feel something
hanging in the air between them, a kind of tension that's never been
there before. At least, not on Fraser's part. He groans to himself
while he's sweeping. Wonders if he's sweeping away a broken friendship,
along with the shards of glass.
What exactly did Fraser see in his eyes just now? Does he know?
And if he does, what am I gonna do about it?
Fraser eyes Stanley Ray Kowalski closely as he moves around his kitchen
making tea. Ray hasn't said a word to him since he practically threw
him out of his kitchen; and the significance of that, and the way Ray's
eyes darkened when he touched him, and when he smiled at him, isn't lost
on him either. In fact, that little touch has opened up a whole new
world to him; or rather, opened his eyes to a whole new way of seeing.
Just as the touch of Victoria's hand on his once long ago revealed the
meaning of sensuality to him, Ray's touch has just showed him that desiremaybe
even lovehasn't disappeared from his life at her departure, as
he once thought.
Ray wants me. He knows that now, beyond doubt. The hunger in
his partner's eyes was unmistakable. That in itself was an amazing discoveryheaven
in a grain of sand, so to speakbut he's also made another: he
wants Ray too.
He's not sure why. He's never wanted a man before. But Stan isn't just
any man, he's closer to him than anyone else has ever been, except Ray
Vecchio. And Ray left him. Went away, just like Victoria. Like everyone
else Fraser has ever loved. Except Kowalski. Stan had had the chance
to leave him, and good reasons for it too; but he didn't leave. He stayed.
Maybe that's why just now, when Stan's hand brushed his, he had the distinct
urge to take it in his. To touch more of him, all of him.
I want him too, Fraser thinks. It's a frightening realization,
but nonetheless true. He hadn't felt any desire when Frannie kissed
him passionately, nothing but a mildly pleasant sensation of warmthbut
Ray's innocent, accidental touch in the kitchen just now felt electric.
Dangerous. Exciting. Erotic. He suddenly realizes how often he's touched
Ray in the past, when it wasn't strictly necessary; and that he enjoyed
it. I think I've wanted him for a long time, without realizing it.
Ray comes in suddenly with his cup of tea. "Thank you kindly,"
Fraser murmurs aloud as he reaches for it, hiding his thoughts while
he thinks this revelation through.
"Sure, Frase," Ray mumbles back as he hands it to him. His
eyes are hooded too.
And this time, both men are careful not to let their hands touch.
Kowalski drops down next to him on the couch, drums his fingers restlessly
on his knee while he sips his tea. "So, whaddaya' wanna do? I
got this video, "Great Moments from the Superbowl"
Fraser shakes his head. He hasn't had much time to process these revelations
and come to a decision, not nearly enough really for something as important
as this. But he is sure of one thing; well, two things actually. One
is that this isn't a moment for football; the other is that they can't
go on as they have been, with Stan brooding and flying into rages, and
both of them denying or ignoring how they feel. That would be cowardly.
And though the mere idea of discussing the issue, let alone possibly
having sex with another man, scares him, the idea of being alone forever
is far worse.
He is sick of being alone. Tired of coming home to an empty apartment,
with no one but Diefenbaker for company. Victoria gave him a taste of
what living with someone is like, what loving someone could be like,
and he wants more. Granted, Stan isn't female, but is that sufficient
reason to refuse him? Where will he ever find someone else who will
understand and accept him like he has?
"No," Fraser says quietly. "I hope you don't mind, but
I'm not really in the mood for football."
Ray shrugs. "Okay. Ya' wanna just talk, then?"
Fraser nods. "Yes. I'd like that." He came here to ask Ray
a question, after all. And though chance already provided him the answer,
he decides to ask it anyway. To force the issue, so to speak. He knows
this probably isn't the most opportune moment. Stan has been drinking,
and he shouldn't take advantage of his vulnerability. Then again, maybe
that makes this the perfect time to ask. The man's defensive walls are
normally so high that he'd have no hope of getting a straight answer.
But the vodka has predictably weakened those walls, enough so that Fraser
now has a reasonable hope of getting through them.
What is that old saying? "In vino, veritas." In wine,
there is truth. Indeed.
However, he suddenly remembers Ray Vecchio's version of that old saying:
"In vino, violence." It's a salient point. Fraser isn't sure
if Stan will admit to his feelings, to the sexual tension between them.
In his slightly intoxicated state, he may get angry instead. Take offense,
strike out and ask questions later. He came dangerously close to that
the day Frannie kissed him. Fraser sighs to himself, resigned to the
possibility of failure. After all, nothing ventured, nothing gained.
At worst, he's in for a long walk home with a sore jaw. (He refuses
to admit, even to himself, that he might lose his partner entirely over
it. If he allows himself to admit that, he'll be too scared to ever
ask his question.) But if he doesn't speak up, he has the distinct feeling
he'll regret it all his life.
He puts down his tea and takes a deep breath, gathering his courage.
"Ray, can I ask you something?"
Kowalski yawns a little. "Well, that depends. If it's like 'Why
is the sky blue?' or 'Why did Mounties start wearin' red?', then I can't
help ya'. That's not my department," he teases. Anything else,
His partner has obviously relaxed again, after their tense moment in
the kitchen. Fraser regrets having to upset him as he knows this will,
but he forces himself to go on. "I think this falls under the heading
of 'anything else'," he says carefully.
Ray nods. "Okay, shoot."
Fraser almost winces at that. "All right. Well, what would you
say ifthat is, if I asked you"
"Asked me what?"
Speaking hypothetically that is"
"About what?" Rays asks, getting a bit impatient.
"You. Me. Us. Our
relationship," Fraser chokes out,
over a big lump in his throat.
Ray tenses instantly. His eyes hood over, and his shoulders are suddenly
taut as a drawn bowstring. "What about us?" he asks flatly.
Kowalski may be a bit the worse for wear, but he's not so drunk that
he can't see where this line of questioning is going. Fraser feels like
he's walking over a mine field as his partner's blue eyes bore into him.
There's no mistaking the danger in those wary eyes, in that tense body.
One false step, and he'll be walking homeand probably minus a partner.
Nevertheless, he goes on. Stay the course, he tells himself.
"Well, what I'm trying to say is" But he stops. At
the last possible second, he chokes. Can't get the words out. Can't
say, "Are you in love with me?" Because he's more than a little
afraid that he's in love with Ray, too; and those words, that emotion,
have always been a curse to him. Every time he says them, or even thinks
he loves someone, that person either dies or leaves him. And if Ray
loses control and hits him when he hears them, throws him out into the
night and doesn't want anything to do with him again, he doesn't think
he'll be able to stand it. He's been hurt too much, too many times now.
He suddenly feels like this is his last chance, and that if he ruins
it, he'll be lost forever.
"What the hell are you tryin' to say, Fraser?"
Fraser's heart sinks. Ray's words are terse, curt, unencouraging. Fraser's
heart beats frantically, making it hard to think. He suddenly fears
he's made a mistake, a terrible mistake, that he's somehow misinterpreted
Ray's actions lately. Because if he did love himif he cared for
him at allwouldn't he be trying to make this easier for him? Instead,
he's glaring as if he wants to punch him.
He nerves himself to try one last time. Heart pounding, he wets dry
lips, clears his throat. Prepares himself for the blow he fears is inevitable.
"I'm trying to say
To ask you, that is, if you
Ray," he breathes at last, in a voice hardly more than a whisper.
Stanley Ray Kowalski stares at Fraser, blown away by what he's just heard.
He shakes his head a little, thinking this must be a drunken hallucination.
'Cuz he could've sworn he just heard the prim, proper Mountie ask him
if he wants him, while his pale skin blushes the most beautiful shade
of red he's ever seen. But shaking his head doesn't dispel the image.
Fraser is still sitting there looking at him, wide-eyed and a little
desperate, like he's afraid he's going to be hit or something.
Holy shit! He really said it. He knows. Wow.
And then another thought hits him: He's not running away. He's
not disgusted. Freaked out. Whatever.
Fraser wants to talk about it. And that means he's not saying no. He
would've run in that case; Ray knows him well enough to know that. But
he didn't run. That must mean he cares, that there's some possibility
they can get together. The realization bursts inside him like a bomb.
Blows away the last of his already ragged self control, his caution.
He wanted to stop lyingnow he will. Wanted to tell Fraser the
truth. Now he can.
He moves forward on the couch, holding the Mountie's gaze. "Yeah,"
he says, his own voice a bit unsteady as he looks into Fraser's azure
blue eyes. The eyes of the merman
"Yeah, I want you. I want
you bad, Frase. So I got a little question for you: what're we gonna
do about it?"
Fraser's heart goes into overdrive. Stan isn't angry! He hasn't hit
him. Hasn't thrown him out into the night after all. That's an immense
relief. In fact, contrary to his expectations, Stan has admitted that
he wants him. Wants him badly. The problem is, that's frightening in
an entirely different way. And now he's edging closer, with the hungriest
look he's ever seen on his face. Asking him what they're going to do
Fraser suddenly remembers a moment long ago in Meg Thatcher's office,
in a somewhat similar situation, when he was trying to reply to a question
he'd assumed (wrongly) that she'd asked him. A similar kind of question,
involving intimate physical matters. He remembers his fear, his desire
to take things slowly. The flowers he offered her, the suggestions he
made of conversation, dancing and taking their relationship forward in
Ray won't let him do that. He knows that instinctively because he knows
Rayand the look in his eyes confirms it. That heat will not be
sated by mere hand holding or dancing, or allow any tiny, cautious steps
to be taken. This will be a headlong, sensual rush to unimagined ends---with
no going back. If he doesn't leave, and leave now, he may well be devoured.
He knows that. Yet he doesn't move. Doesn't get up, doesn't even try
to get away as Ray edges even closer. So close that their thighs are
suddenly touching. So close that his burning blue eyes are all he can
"Well, Benny? What're we gonna do?" Ray whispers again. The
corners of his mouth turn up in a slight, very slightly wicked smile.
And Fraser thinks, God help him, that those are the most erotic words
he has ever heard. That perhaps he wants to be devoured after all.
He swallows hard. Wets dry lips with his tongue again, watches Ray track
the tiny movement, sees it whet his already obvious hunger even more.
He suddenly wonders if his own eyes have begun to burn, as Ray's are
doing. Perhaps they have, because the next words out of his mouth shock
him. "I think
I think I'd like to kiss you," he gasps
Ray's wicked smile grows wider. He leans even closer, angling his head
towards Fraser's in the breathless hush. "Ya' think?" he breathes.
Fraser feels faint. He knows Ray's going to kiss him first. Waits breathlessly
for him to.
But Ray doesn't. Instead, he waits. Blue eyes burning, lips tantalizingly
close to Ben's, he freezes. Stares at his mouth hungrily, his lips slightly
parted, and waits.
Fraser realizes that Kowalski may be drunk, but he's not stupid. He
realizes the importance of what they're about to do, the profound changes
it will make in both their lives. So he's not going to seduce him, or
give him any grounds for later resentment. He waits for Ben to move.
To commit himself. To answer his desire. To kiss him, as he just said
he wanted to do. He wants Fraser to ante up, put his money where his
mouth is. Or is it the other way around, in this situation?
Or maybe, he thinks, he's just trying to seduce me. To drive
me mad, as he has no doubt been driven mad for some time now, by our
sheer proximity. Now that he knows the truth, Fraser feels more
than a little sorry about that. He never meant to cause Ray any pain.
And as far as seduction techniques go, this is a powerful one. The feel
of Ray's warm breath on his face, the sight of his chest rising and falling
rapidly as those burning blue eyes rake his mouth, the sensation of coiled,
rising excitement in the slender body so close to his, is incredibly
So Fraser takes a deep breath. Closes his eyes, leans forward a little
and does it. Puts his cards on the table. Takes the plunge. Commits
himself. Presses his lips to the waiting mouth so close to his. It's
a surprisingly pleasant sensation. Ray's lips are warm and soft, and
Fraser prolongs the contact, moving his mouth against his partner's gently.
Ray moans softly, deep in his throat, at the gentle caress. Takes his
shoulders in his hands and holds him tightly as he comes back for more.
He angles his head to deepen their kiss, but Ben pulls back a little.
He remembers that Ray has been drinking, that he probably shouldn't be
doing this. Or at least, no more than this. So he makes one last effort
at caution, for Ray's sake. He stops kissing him, pulls away again.
"Ray, I don't think I should"
"Don't think, Frase," Ray orders hoarsely. "Please.
Don't talk. Just feel
" He bends his head again, covers Ben's
mouth with his, trying to pry it open. And Ben does feel: the hardness
of his mouth, the roughness of his beard stubble against his face, a
wonderful, erotic friction that he loves. The insistent probing of his
impatient tongue. The wild beating of Ray's impulsive heart against
his chest. Ben trembles a bit, and Ray seizes the moment. Bites Fraser's
lower lip lightly, until he gasps in surprise. "Open up,"
he whispers. Tantalizing. Sexy. Impossible to resist. Fraser obeys
with a slight shiver, and Ray thrusts his tongue into his mouth.
Then all hell breaks loose. The next thing Fraser knows, he's down on
his back on the couch as Ray plunders his mouth like a pirate. They're
both breathing heavily, hearts pounding wildly as they kiss deeply.
Hot, wet, tongue-thrusting kisses that go on and on. Ben's head is spinning.
Ray tastes like cinnamon, vodka and something he can't even name. He
tastes fiery and spicy and delicious. And he feels unique, too. Fraser
is used to holding women, used to a soft kind of yielding. But Ray isn't
soft, he's hard, muscular, heavy; and he isn't yielding. Far from it.
He's strong, amazingly so, and he's pushing against him, pushing his
kisses deeper into his mouth, grinding their hips together, their erections
Fraser groans helplessly. He's lost. Overwhelmed by new and extremely
erotic sensations, he's quit trying to slow Ray down. He's just trying
to hang on now, holding on for dear life while Kowalski drives him out
of his mind.
Ray can't believe it. He's got the Mountie. At last, at long last,
Benton Fraser is in his arms. Not the merman, not the dream lover, but
the real man. Mr. Polite, Mr. Straight. Fraser, the God of Ice and
Snow. He was a bit shy at first, but he's been working on him. He's
got his sweet mouth pried open now and he's kissing the hell out of him,
going as deep as he can with his tongue. Eating him up alive. And Ben
is kissing him back, so hotly he can hardly breathe. Using his tongue
with remarkable skill. And thank you kindly Benny, because it's good,
so good he can hardly stand it. And he isn't the only one who's getting
off on it. He can feel Ben's heart pounding against him, can hear him
moaning, feel him shiver. He knows he's liking it, and it's great, better
than any dream he's ever had
Because Fraser the Snow God isn't cold. He's hot, so hot Ray feels like
he's on fire. And he tastes salty sweet, just like the merman.
Ray starts touching him, rubbing his flat abdomen through his shirt.
Fraser moans and twists a little under him, and he grins into their kiss.
Good. Ben likes that too. Encouraged, he pulls his shirt up out of
his pants. He breaks their kiss just long enough to rise up and yank
off his own tank top. He throws it on the floor, then jerk Ben's shirt
up even higher, baring his nipples and most of that gorgeous chest.
Oh God, what a chest! Smooth, hairless, muscularlike one
of those marble statues you see in museums, only better, because its
warm and alive; and (even better) heaving with passion.
"Oh, God, Ray"
Kowalski doesn't know if that's an Oh God, Ray, stop or Oh
God, Ray, that feels goodand he doesn't wait to find out.
He knows if he gives Fraser time to think about this, he'll probably
get scared. Talk himself out of the pleasure he's feeling, and the even
greater pleasure Ray wants to give him. He's not going to let that happen.
He's waited far too long for this. They both have. So he lowers his
head again, puts his tongue on one of those flat brown nipples, and starts
licking it like an ice cream cone. Rubbing the other one too. He doesn't
want to neglect one spare inch of his precious Mountie. He likes to
hear him moan, would love to make him scream.
"Ohhh!" Fraser bucks underneath him, gasping. Hands clawing
at his back. Not screaming yet, but he's getting there. Ray is making
noise too, loud gasps and groans of his own because it's been too long,
and Ben just feels so damn good. Ray's cock has been hard since their
first kiss, and it's straining so hard against his jeans now that it
feels like it may go off any second. He holds on desperately though,
because he's not going to let it end that fast. No way. He wants to
make Fraser go over the edge first.
He forces his mind away from his own pleasure, focuses it ruthlessly
on the beautiful body underneath him. He sucks at the hardening nipples,
one after the other. Raises his head long enough to see Ben, face flushed,
eyes closed, biting his lower lip as his back arches like a bow. Ben's
hands are on him, one on his shoulder, the other digging into his bicep.
"God, Ray!" he moans.
Beautiful, Kowalski thinks. He's so beautiful
skin, that's flushed deliciously under his licks and kisses. Thick dark
hair, slightly touseled now that he's run his hands through it. Brown
nipples that have hardened under his mouth and hands. Everything about
Ben is beautiful. He's as gorgeous, in his own way, as Stella once was
to him. Lying there half out of his shirt, with his cock straining against
his jeans, he's as exotic as the merman in his dreams.
Ray undoes the buttons on his shirt and takes it off him gently, making
sure it doesn't catch on the bandage on his arm. He hasn't forgotten
about Ben's injury, not for one second. He's kept his hands off that
arm, to make sure that he doesn't hurt him. But once Ben's shirt hits
the floor beside his own, he yanks at his zipper impatiently. There's
no need to be careful with that, and he's too aroused to slow down.
But he pulls too hard, and the zipper gets stuck.
"Shit!" Ray bites his lip, tugging at the tangled metal and
cotton, almost snarling with frustration. Fraser just brushes his clumsy
hands away gently. Takes the zipper and, with his usual efficiency,
gets it unstuck within seconds, and pulled all the way down. Ray blinks
at him in surprise, suddenly not so sure who is seducing who here.
Fraser just smiles a little, then pulls his head down. "I want
you too, Ray," he breathes against his mouth. Then he kisses him.
Ray doesn't need to be asked twice. While Ben kisses him, he grabs his
jeans and pulls them down, baring his hips. Then he pulls away from
their hot kiss, not without a slight groan of his own, and slides his
tongue slowly all the way down Fraser's body, from his neck to his erection.
Caressing him with both hands, all over, as he goes.
By the time he reaches his destination, Fraser is panting, all but sobbing.
"Please, Ray, please
" Ray just smiles, because the best
is yet to come
Ray touches him, thinking how beautiful he is here, too. Pale flesh,
darkened by the rush of his heated blood to a dark, sexy pink, strains
against his flat stomach. He's large, but not overly soperfect.
He strokes him gently.
Fraser shudders all over at that. Nearly comes up off the couch. "Ray!"
Ray pushes him back down, holds him down with an arm across his chest
as he takes a long, leisurely lick of his cock. Ben writhes, moaning
helplessly. Ray knows that no man has ever touched him here before,
that Frannie has never heard him cry out like that, never done this to
himand he's savagely glad of it. He lowers his head and takes
the end of it in his mouth. Sucks at it a little. Fraser cries out.
Ray knows he's on the edge. He is too. He's so close he can feel his
own cock weeping. Throbbing powerfully. He's not sure how much longer
he can hold out. So he takes him in deeper, sucks a bit harder.
Ben yells. Bucks. Explodes in his mouth.
Ray cries out too.
They both come at the same instant. Sweating, shaking, holding on to
each other tightly. Perfect. Beautiful.
Ray doesn't let Ben go, even then. He tastes him, wanting all of him,
everything Fraser has to give.
When it's over, he feels like he's run a mile. Been dropped out of a
plane or something. He has to almost crawl back up Fraser's prone body,
his breathing still unsteady. But he grins while he does it, because
he's tired in a good way. He feels like the sun is shining. Like the
Cubs have won the Series. All is right with the world. With his world,
anyway. Because this time, when he wakes up, the merman will be here
with him. In his arms.
Stanley Raymond Kowalski is one happy man.
So naturally, he teases Fraser. "Ya' know, I'll have to arrest
you now. For takin' advantage of a fellow officer who was under the
influence and all."
Ben, who still has his eyes closed, smiles. "I didn't know there
was a law against that, Ray," he says hoarsely as Kowalski makes
it up to his chest, settles down over him again. Then Fraser's eyes
open, and Ray's heart almost breaks. Because Ben's eyes are very blue,
and he smiles at him a little, like they're sharing some secret joke
that the rest of the world isn't in on. The merman smile.
Ray shakes his head, so moved he can't begin to put his feelings into
words. But he tries. "There oughtta' be," he says, reaching
down to smooth that silky dark hair. "There oughtta' be a law against
anyone bein' as beautiful as you."
Ben blinks at him as if he doesn't know what to say either. Then he
pulls his head down and kisses him gently, tenderly. "If there
was a law against beauty," he says softly, "I'd have to arrest
When the kiss is over, Ray puts his head down on Ben's shoulder. It
looks like a gesture of affection, and it is. Besides, it feels good
lying on the Mountie. He's big, hard and beautifully muscled, better
than any body pillow Ray could imagine. But that's not all of it. The
truth is, it's a way to stay in his arms, but hide his face for a minute.
So he can take in the fact that he's just made love with Benton Fraser.
Benny the Beautiful, wanted by every woman in Chicago, including the
real Ray's own sister. That he made him scream.
And his head didn't explode after all, he thinks, grinning to
Then the smile disappears as he remembers that Fraser just told him he
thinks he's beautiful.
Not that Ray believes that, not for a secondhe's been looking in
the mirror at his angular, average face for too many years to accept
that idea. But Ben just said so, which means he believes it; and Ben
never lies. And it's the thought that counts, isn't that what they always
say? And what a thought
I love you, Ray thinks, slipping his arms around him. I love
you so damn much
But he can't say it. Even here, even now. He used to be able to say
that out loud, but that was before Stella walked out on him. Before
pain taught him not to trust. So he takes a breath, and says, "Yer
crazy, Benny, ya' know that?"
Fraser holds Ray Kowalski, stroking the blonde head that lays on his
shoulder gently. He can hardly believe what Ray just did to him, what
they did to each other
Ray made him moan, made him quiver, made
him scream. And Ray yelled out too, at the end. A loud, harsh cry,
like the roar of a jungle animal. The mere memory of that sound makes
Fraser shiver all over again.
Best of all, Ray didn't leave him afterwards. Victoria always did, she
always pulled away from him as soon as the sex was done. But Ray didn't.
He held on. Smiled at him, teased him, cuddled with him. He's holding
him still, as if he never wants to let go. And the way he said 'Benny'
.Ray never calls him that, never
Fraser knows what that means. Knows Kowalski well enough now to listen
for what he's not saying, for what lies behind his gruff sarcasm. And
he's only heard that note in Ray's voice once before, when he told him
that he still loved his ex-wife, Stella. So while someone else might
think 'Yer crazy, Benny' is an insult, Fraser knows better. He's touched,
and glad he finally had the courage to ask his question tonight. Very
glad. He brings Ray's hand to his mouth, opens it and kisses his palm
tenderly. "So I've been told," he answers, feeling absurdly
Ray sighs just as happily, burrows his head even deeper into his shoulder.
"That's okay. I kinda' like crazy," he whispers. "Get
kinda' crazy myself sometimes."
Fraser isn't sure that either of them have much of a claim on sanity,
considering what they just did. But he doesn't regret it, either. He
lays Ray's hand back down on his chest again. Feels him yawn against
his shoulder. A deep, satisfied, weary yawn. He smiles. "Go to
sleep, Ray," he says softly.
Fraser reaches up to switch off the nearby lamp. Ray's arms tighten
around him instantly, as if he's afraid he's going to leave. That little
revelatory twitch speaks volumes to Fraser. He's used to thinking of
himself as the one with a terrible fear of abandonment. It's sobering
to realize that Ray bears similar scars.
"It's all right, Ray," he says gently. "Go to sleep.
I'll stay with you."
Ray doesn't answer, he just nods against his chest. Shortly afterwards,
his breathing gets slow and deep. Done in by the vodka, the lateness
of the hour, and their combined exertions just now, he's fallen asleep.
Fraser suddenly realizes that he's tired too, for some of the same reasons.
He closes his eyes, but doesn't let himself drift off just yet. He wants
to savor the moment. He holds onto his partner, luxuriating in the warm,
solid weight of him. He strokes his blonde hair gently, until Ray sighs
in his sleep.
He suddenly wonders what Ray Vecchio would think, if he could see him
now. The thought makes him wince. Ray wouldn't understand, he
thinks. He's not really sure he does either. He doesn't know what it
is about him that's made Ray Kowalski fall in love with him, when he
irritates him so much sometimes. Maybe we're both crazy, he reflects
ruefully. Like he said
After all, Ray's been scarred, and
so has he; and one bout of lovemaking, no matter how passionate, isn't
going to erase those scars. Or their differences.
Maybe he'll regret this in the morning, in the cold grey light of day.
Maybe Ray will, too.
But Ben doubts it. He finds no sadness in his own heart for what's just
passed between them. On the contrary, he feels stronger somehow. As
if Ray has started to mend something inside him that he didn't even know
was broken. Healed some of the scars left there by other, more careless
hands. Something tells him that maybe they're together because of those
scars. Maybe that's why they need each other.
Fraser holds onto his partner in the darkness. My partner
word now has a whole new meaning for him. He kisses Ray's hand again.
Softly, so as not to wake him. Savors the warmth of his body, the taste
of his skin. The knowledge that Ray loves him, and that for once, he
isn't falling asleep alone.
His last thought, before sleep takes him, makes him smile.
It isn't so bad, being crazy together.
Email the author at: Ardrian15@aol.com
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