Stained Glass Saint
Disclaimer: They're not mine, but the story is. I didn't make any money and I didn't intend to infringe on anyone's, well, anything really.
Author's Notes: Big, BIG thank you's to Nicci for hand holding and wise counsel, and to Cimmie and Misapocalyptic for great beta work and helpful suggestions.
The door handle pulses in time to the beat of the music we can hear blaring out from inside. It's late, it's raining, and we're in a nasty part of town on the promise of some information.
"You don't have to do this," I say one last time.
"Ray, I am perfectly capable of handling myself in a situation like this. Honestly, you act as if I'd never met an informant in a bar before."
He looks out of place...as usual. I wonder if I will ever actually see Frase somewhere he doesn't stand out. But tonight, for some reason, it's worse than usual. The drizzle in the air and the gaudy neon from the nightclubs conspire to make him glow a little - like a stained glass saint - one of those kick-ass ones with the swords and helmets, full of so much righteousness, it kind of shows on their beautiful faces...
Riiiiiiiiiiiiiight, moving on.
To stop myself gawking, I turn and shrug. "This is not your average bar, Frase," I toss over my shoulder and push the door open.
To his credit, Fraser makes no comment as we weave our way through the clientele of the Pressure Point. It's Friday night and the place is heaving. The driving beat of the dance music slams through my body and takes possession of my heartbeat, demanding that it submits to its rhythm. The place is full of hyped-up, half-drunken men, some more exotically dressed than others, but all looking for the same thing. See, this is one of the rougher gay clubs in Chicago - and it's a label it totally embraces.
I know Frase is right behind me; we attract attention from the regulars as we push through the mass of bodies. They must be able to scent fresh blood as I catch some of the admiring glances being cast at my partner; I should be used to it by now. I don't normally send the visual equivalent of a "Fuck off, he's taken," but tonight that's exactly what I'm doing. No joke, guys - step away from the freak. You want one? Go find your own.
I know it's irrational, but I'm pissed off at all these guys giving him the once over. But then, what the fuck is it to me? We've got nothing going on. He doesn't even know about me, and I'm pretty sure that Frase doesn't need sex of any kind, let alone what's plainly on offer here.
I pick up the pace, aware that I'm shoving from all the 'Excuse me"s, "I beg you pardon"s, and "So sorry"s from Captain Courteous back there.
We're moving away from the dance floor and are almost at the bar when someone plants himself directly and deliberately in my path. I look up with a snarl that dies instantly on my lips.
Fraser collides with my shoulder I've stopped so abruptly.
"Hey, David, how've you been?"
"Oh...err...hi!" Now that's smooth Kowalski.
"Cameron," the guy supplies with a smile that says he's used to people forgetting his name.
"Yeah, I knew that...Cameron." This is unexpected and seriously not cool.
Cameron stands waiting; his fingers are tucked into the pockets of his too tight, too faded jeans and a slim fitting black t-shirt just emphasises how well built he is. His dark head is cocked to one side and the strobe lights catch the diamond stud in his ear, making it sparkle dementedly.
I watch as his eyes slide from my face and over my shoulder.
"Who's your friend?" Cameron asks with a quick glance back at my face before smiling at Ben.
"Hello, I'm..." Ben is reaching a hand around me to shake with Cameron.
"Jim...this is Jim," I blurt and step in between Ben's outstretched hand and this fuck-up. "Look, sorry, Cameron. We're here to meet someone. Can we catch you later?"
"Sure," he agrees with a fleeting smile. "Nice to meet you, Jim," he nods and steps aside, quickly swallowed up by the crowd.
I piss people off by demanding beer over the top of everyone else and try to compose myself. I must look like a freak snapping my fingers and tapping on the bar while I wait. I wonder if Fraser noticed or understood my encounter with Cameron and figure, if he didn't, he will now from my behaviour. I can't look at him so I turn to scan the dance floor and almost immediately, I spot my mark.
"Do you see him?" Ben asks tightly in my ear.
"Yup. He's seen us. Just let me do the talking, okay?"
The guy, Niall, casually makes his way to the bar beside us and orders water. He's older than he dresses, but still in good shape.
"You must be Vecchio," he murmurs as he accepts the plastic bottle. "Can you dance?"
"Yeah," I say, surprised. I don't often get to say yes when people ask me if I can do things. Particularly these days. These days it's 'Can you ride a horse?' or 'Do you speak Italian?' or 'Can you swim?" - all no's.
Niall chugs down his water and loses the bottle, then takes me by the arm. "Wait here," I tell Frase. "Try not to lick anything." But he doesn't smile and my heart does a weird tight thing in my chest. I want to touch him, connect with him, reassure him and answer some of those questions I can see in his eyes, but Niall pulls again and I have to go.
Okay, so this is new; dancing with a guy. It's a lot more tactile than I imagined for a start. I figured a first dance would be more... well... cautious, but Niall is pressed up against me, his hands on my hips and no subtlety at all. I glance around, but this seems to be the norm, so I go with it.
Niall keeps me on the floor when the next number comes up and I now have time and opportunity to look over to where Frase is waiting. I'm expecting to see him keeping an eye out, doing his Mountie thing...and I wasn't joking about the licking, either.
But he's not.
He's having a nice, cosy chat with Cameron. And his body language is way off. I mean, the guy is stiff, but right now he looks like he's turned to stone over there, leaned in to Cameron, listening to him intently.
It's Cameron's eyes nervously scanning the dance floor that tell me what's happened. He spots me, catches me looking at him and immediately makes his excuses to Ben and slides into the crowd again.
Gritting my teeth I manage to keep myself moving in time and not following the little bastard to find out what kind of damage he's done.
But there's no need.
It's writ large all over Frase's face.
His eyes bore into me as if he's never really seen me before and I feel my face begin to burn. I try to tell him to wait - that I can explain. He's maybe twenty feet away and every ounce of strength that isn't holding me up is willing this message into his thick Mountie skull.
Of course, Niall chooses this moment to decide we've created almost enough of a cover and just to make sure, he plants a hot, wet kiss on me when I'm not concentrating. It's all I can do not to jerk away from him. He pulls me from the dance floor toward the men's room. His hot hand is in my back pocket and his head is tilted toward me, gazing at me like I'm steak and he's a starving man.
The last thing I see over my shoulder as the door swings shut are Fraser's eyes, following me.
There's a guy in there, just finishing up, so Niall hesitates for a second before pushing me up against the wall. I know how sleazy and low this is, but my traitorous dick gives an interested twitch as my back hits the cold, hard tiles. Niall holds my head and kisses me again, hard. Pissing guy hurries out, slipping me a knowing smile that irrationally makes me want to kick his head in.
I push Niall off roughly, and he smirks at me. My anger is redirected at him and I'm almost begging for him to make a stupid remark, 'cos I'm about three seconds from smashing that fucking smile off his stupid, rat-bastard face. He shrugs and walks into one of the cubicles, motioning me to follow.
It's at times like these that I fucking hate being a cop. I know this could be critical; this could be the break we need to put away this ring of scumbag GHB suppliers. But the hard fluorescent light, the smell, the chill of the tiled room and the knowledge that desperate, meaningless, drunk or drugged sex is performed exactly where I'm standing every night of the week... it makes me sick.
And that I brought him in here with me... Fuck - what was I thinking? I want to smack my head until it's thumping harder than that damn music. Ben should not be in a place like this - he doesn't belong in this sordid scum-hole. It's just not right, cosmically speaking.
Dragging my thoughts back to Niall - and what the fuck kind of name is Niall? - I concentrate on what he hurriedly tells me and grunt a few questions. He pushes some photocopied sheets into my hands, warm and creased from being in his pocket.
He leaves the stall first, pretending to zip up as he walks out. I stow the paper and wait 'til he's gone then quickly return to the bar.
Only momentum keeps me going when I see Ben. His head is bowed and his shoulders hunched as he plays with the untouched bottle of beer. He looks... different... hinkey... and if I ever see that asswipe Cameron again, he and I are going to have a little chat.
I grab Ben's arm and sweep him along with me, and we're out the door and down the street before he digs in his heels and refuses to be led any longer. He shrugs my hand off and looks at me warily. My fingers feel icy where they're not touching him anymore - how stupid is that?
"Did you get it?" he asks, quiet and controlled. He's asking about the information, I know he is, but his eyes are asking something totally else.
"Yeah, I got it," I reply shortly, avoiding his gaze. I really, really don't want to get into the conversation he wants to have, right now...or ever, in fact. And suddenly I realise that I'm not gonna lie to him about this - and it's enough to make my head spin.
Either some of his Mountie 'honesty being the best policy' thing is rubbing off on me or it's that I'm sick of hiding from him. I have the whole story mapped out in my head; that I was undercover, that it was necessary to assume an identity and that I only did it out of duty - I know Frase would go for the duty thing. But I'm not gonna do it. I can't lie to him at the best of times, and on something this important, he'd see through me in a heartbeat. Especially since he saw me freak on the dance floor - that wasn't cool - that wasn't "Don't worry, I'll tell you later," - that was fucking terror in my eyes. He knows it; I know it.
I start to walk back to the car, not turning, but relieved when I hear his footsteps follow me. This is fucking ridiculous! Fifteen minutes ago, I was making him laugh - teasing him about his lack of street-cred and trying to persuade him to let me mess his hair up a bit, so he didn't look so perfect. Now we can't even look at each other and all because...all because...
This is a part of me I'm not proud of even though I've known about it for a long time. I've been dealing with it since my mid teens, I guess, but this is the first time it has become a problem. You see, I like guys. Like as in... like.
And don't get ideas about Stella and me - that was real. I loved Stella, always will, and she knew about me. We were best friends for years before we were lovers and she was brilliant and amazing enough to love me even when she knew I looked at girls and boys. And I was faithful to her - it was only after, when it all went to shit that I went with a guy for the first time.
And that Ben can't even bring himself to walk beside me now is exactly why I don't do the gay thing. Sure, there are gay cops. No one takes them seriously - no one beats up on them so much any more or bad mouths them to their faces, but they don't get promoted and they don't find it easy to get a partner to work with; they're different...and hell, I'm different enough without that added to the pile.
So I suppress it as best I can. Most of the time, my own right hand is company enough. But then there are the bad days; the ones where it has to be another person. Days when it has to be skin and heat and touch and contact, to remind yourself that you're still alive. It's only when the craving drives me batshit fucking crazy and forces me to take risks that I come to places like the Pressure Point and pick up guys like Cameron. And girls too, I like girls when they'll give me the time of day. But guys are most often what cause me to take the stupid risks.
I stop beside the car, finally, and fumble for my keys. Suddenly Ben's hand is on my chest and his face is in mine as he pushes me against the rough alley wall. I can feel the damp cold of the brick leech through my jacket and into my bones. He doesn't even notice that he thumped my head hard enough to make my teeth rattle.
I've never seen him look like this. In the poorly lit alley, his face looks like a bad dream, all shadows for eyes and a sickly colour to his skin. "Why?" he demands in a voice so deep, I barely recognise it as his. His jacket creaks and the smell of the damp leather is overpowering.
I reach for his hand and try to push it away, but he resists and presses against my sternum so hard, he must be able to feel my heart hammering.
"Get your hand off me, Fraser," I command. I'm not joking - he might be stronger, and I will pay for it, but I will break his fucking jaw if he doesn't let go of me right now.
For a second, I think he's gonna hit me first. His eyes burn with anger, making them look hard and bright even in this shitty, dark alley. Then, as suddenly, he steps back and turns away from me, his boots making a scrape that echoes too loud as I stagger, and try to get my balance.
"Just tell me why," he says coldly, looking away up the street.
"Why?" I repeat, and instantly I'm as angry as he is. Who the hell does he think he is? "Why what? Why I lied? Why I didn't tell you? Why..."
"Why, in the name of God, would you go looking for someone like Cameron?"
"That is none of your fucking business," I shout at his back. And that's it; I'm done. I deflate, like a burst balloon. This is my best buddy I'm bawling out. He might be massively pissed with me, but...fuck...I probably deserve it. All my anger turns sour and tastes like bile on my tongue, and I'm so very tired. "This...this has nothing to do with you, Fraser."
I know I've let him down, disappointed him. Ben is a good man, a guy who called me a friend, a guy who believed in me, even when I didn't believe in myself...he deserved better. And the weirdest part is, it's not that someone has found me out, that is making me sick, it's that Ben is never gonna look at me again like he used to.
He used to love me; I know he did. Like buddies; like a brother. He'd look at me and I'd believe all the things that he thought about me - that I was worth something, that I wasn't a total fuck-up, that I had something to give. Ben made me think that was true. So what does that leave me with when he doesn't believe that any more?
I drag my ass around the car, get in and wait. I watch his profile through the windshield; he's chewing his lip - something I've never seen him do before. I'm just about to give up and leave him there, when he opens the passenger door and slides in.
I drive him back to the consulate in silence. I feel ridiculously close to tears, knowing there's every chance that he might never sit in that seat again. Frase values honesty above almost anything. He doesn't lie. So, I guess that is how it must look to him; that I've been lying.
I'm really hoping that he's not homophobic. I'm almost certain he's not but we've never discussed it. The guy has conscience leaking from every pore, so I don't think he'll hate me for the fact that I like men - unless it's a duty thing for him and deep down he's disgusted by it.
As I pull up outside, I'm barely holding it together. I can't wait for him and his disapproving silence to get the hell away from me, but at the same time, I can't let him leave without some assurance that we will be seeing each other again.
"Would you wait for a moment, please?" he asks and gets out of the car, leaving the door open. He's speaking just like nothing's happened. That's his polite voice, like the one he spoke to me with on the first day we met - before we became friends. Not that any of his speech mannerisms really count as impolite. But after that guy who looked like Ben in the alley, only an unhinged, furious, one word away from beating in his partner's face kind of Ben, this coldly polite thing is somehow worse.
I have no idea what he's doing; maybe he's remembered something of mine that he wants to give me back so he doesn't need to drop by, especially when he asks for a transfer tomorrow. But Dief bounds down the steps and waits by the door for Frase to let him in the back.
As he gets in, Dief sticks a cold nose against my cheek and huffs hot wolf-breath at me, then vocalises a little sigh and settles down on the back seat. Ben gets back in the car and waits.
"You want me to take you somewhere?" I'm not arguing, unless it's the train station, but it's only Dief that he's collected, so I don't think he's leaving... yet.
"Your apartment, Ray," Ben announces.
"I thought we might talk."
Talk - greatness. It's gone eleven, I'm tired, my best friend has found out I like men's dicks up my ass and he wants to talk. Life is good. Let's call Stella round too; this kind of 'rip Ray to bits' evening really used to be her thing.
Once again we lapse into silence as we cover the few miles to my place. Dief's claws click on the stairway as we walk to my door and even that small noise is welcome in this heavy stillness between Ben and me. I click on the lamp when I walk in, and Dief makes straight for my bedroom, to leave wolf hair all over my quilt again, I expect.
Ben hangs up his jacket; I throw mine over a chair. He looks as if he doesn't know where to start; I fetch beer. If I weren't desperate, I wouldn't do this. I'm not one of those people who feels better after talking about 'stuff'. I'm one of those people who copes better with 'stuff' on my own. My 'stuff' - my problem. But this is Ben we're talking about, the guy who brings out the most needy places in me - makes me open up despite myself; he's always had that effect on me. If he thinks there's something worth talking over; something I can say to make this better and keep him around, then I'll try it.
And yes, I know how deeply pathetic I am.
He's standing in my living room; I hand him his beer and wait for my cue.
"I don't really drink," he mutters, offering the bottle back to me.
"No?" I take a swig of mine, "Well I don't really talk." I'm here, I'm doing this, but I need some fucking slack to work with.
His eyes harden and once again that stranger is looking at me - the one with the hostility and the issues.
He watches me for a moment, poised between staying and going, then shrugs a little, puts the bottle to his lips and takes a good, long pull on the cold beer.
Satisfied, I sit down and hide my eyes behind my hand. "Look," I start, "I think I can guess what Cameron told you, but..."
"That since last year, you've been a customer of his on several occasions," Ben challenges as he takes the couch. There's an edge to his voice for all that he's trying to be calm.
"Yeah... yeah, I was. So, where do you want to start?" I still have my eyes lowered, hidden from Ben. But he's quiet for too long and I have to look. I spread my fingers and peer up toward him.
He's frowning, looking miserable and a little lost.
"Frase," I say softly, uncovering my face. "I'm sorry."
"Why would you do that? I don't understand," he confesses and he actually looks like it pains him to speak. He's slumped where he sits and that has me more worried than ever. Frase doesn't slump; Frase has bearing and posture and a spine of steel. Yet it's definitely him sitting on my sofa, curled in on himself almost.
"Look, it's something I don't do often. Last year was... well it was hard for me and I just needed..."
"I was here last year," Ben interrupts.
"Yeah, I know that."
"You could have talked to me."
"It wasn't talking I needed, Frase." And I feel like I'm explaining sunlight to a bat; a creature that doesn't need it, doesn't want it and can't understand why it is necessary to someone like me. "Sometimes, you just need... skin... I dunno. You need a connection... heat... something."
"Something I couldn't give you," Ben says softly and his voice sounds weird, like he's laughing at himself.
And the thought of Ben giving me what I crave, undoes me. Too many nights I've spent thinking how that might feel. It's such a frequent fantasy of mine, I don't even have to try to imagine it, and it's all right there waiting for me when I close my eyes. Ben's smile, Ben's eyes dark with need, Ben's mouth on mine and his tongue rhythmically stroking into me, shaking me apart, making me burn.
"You should have told me," he says quietly, dragging me back from my dreams.
"Why? What difference would it have made? I'm still me, Frase. Nothing's different."
"Everything's different," he argues immediately, sounding almost petulant. He strokes his eyebrow with a knuckle, a tell-tale gesture that he's less than composed.
"No. I've always been this person. The only thing that's changed is how you see me," I accuse, and he turns his face away from me. "Okay. Fine. Have it your way," I concede when he doesn't speak. "What are we gonna do about it?"
I'm doing my best to stay reasonable. And he has no idea that he's the only person on earth I'd do this for.
But he's distracted, his eyes roaming around my apartment, not settling anywhere or seeing anything. His shoulders are tense as he leans forward, elbows on his knees. I don't know if he's looking for something to say, or if he's waiting for me to talk.
"How long have you been doing this?" he finally asks.
"A couple of years," I answer cagily.
"Is this why you and Stella...?"
"No!" I cut him off. But I can see why he'd think that. I'd think that. So I explain how it was with me and Stella and how I have been attracted to women in the past.
"But not now?" he asks immediately.
"There isn't a woman I'm currently attracted to, no," I confirm. I mean, I look, but it's not easy, dating when you are pretending to be someone else; the complications are too great. Add to that the fact that I have someone in mind and no one is ever gonna stack up against them, ever again.
"A man?" Damn him, could he miss something just once?
"It's complicated," I counter.
"And that leads you to require Cameron's company?" Fraser's gaze is direct and uncompromising.
And the freak has hit the jackpot in some ways. Yes, I started to go with Cameron and others like him once I'd fallen for my uptight, upright, clueless ass of a partner. It was his name I'd speak when I came, his face I'd see when I was fucking them or being fucked. We're close, Frase and me, closer than buddies, and the tension I used to feel, being so close and so far from him made me fucking nuts. Demented. Desperate.
"I dunno Fraser," I say and I've got to move, so I get up and start pacing around, trying to avoid looking at him. "Most of the time, I'm fine. I'm good. But some days I can't remember the reasons why not... it just seems to make sense, you know?"
Of course he doesn't know.
Mr. 'Laws of physics and simple common sense' wouldn't know lust if it jumped up and smacked him one in those perfect, white teeth of his. He has women throwing themselves at him on a daily basis, and some guys too that I've noticed, and he doesn't even register. Not a fucking clue. So how would he be expected to realise that his numbnuts sidekick has been mooning about after him, trying to be noticed, trying to be what he wants, trying...
"Everyone needs it, Frase," I sigh. When he doesn't reply, I look over to him. He's still slumped, his gaze following me as a stalk about like a madman.
"Almost everyone," I amend. I exclude nuns and Fraser.
The crappy lamp doesn't cast a lot of light in the living room, so he's mostly in shadow again. But I can see his face, thoughtful and tense as he analyses my words, looking for his next point of attack. It takes him some time and when it comes I can hardly hear him, he mumbles it so low.
"Everyone," he asserts.
Right. Fine. Now he's going to try to baffle me to death by agreeing with me. Freak.
I feel another wave of that irrational anger coming and spin away from his eyes. I can't fucking read him tonight - I have not a clue what he's thinking. We're normally so good at the non-verbal stuff. We look; we know, that's how it works - how we work. This is a shitty time for that to desert us, now we need every break that's going if we're going to sort this out.
"Jesus, Fraser." I lean a hand against the wall and use the other to wipe the fatigue from my face. "It's just sex. Does it really matter? Or is this about the gender of who I'm having sex with?" I watch him now; maybe I can catch a glimpse of what he thinks if I hit him with hard questions. He snorts a humourless laugh and rolls his eyes. Right - dumb question. I knew that.
He gets to his feet, arms crossed over his chest and head tilted. "I thought you might be a little more discerning in whom you trusted with this," he explains patiently, like I'm stupid.
Bad move, Ben.
"Trusted?" I yell. "Fuck, Fraser. There's no trust! It's not love. It's money and sweat and sex and then you come. That's it."
"And that is what you want?" He matches my tone and then some.
"Yes! No! No, it's what I can get." God, my chest hurts, my head hurts, my shoulders ache, but I am not fucking gonna cry; I might up-chuck, but I'm not gonna cry. My throat is raw from shouting and swallowing tears. "Look, I'm sorry, I've disappointed you. I'm not what you thought. But sometimes that's what I need."
"Need?" he snarls and he's shouting; really going for it. He moves into my space, crowding me, forcing me back. His skin is flushed and his jaw is set. God, he's so angry, he's almost trembling with it.
"Need." I assert, glad to hear my voice is firm.
"As a substitute for love? You need the physical act? You need cheap, meaningless sex with strangers?"
"Yeah, need. You wouldn't fucking understand it," I yell in his face; can't believe I'm doing it - but I am. I'm close enough to see his eyes harden, his pulse jump, and his mouth compress into a grim line.
And his hand is on my shoulder, his heat burning through my shirt and making me sweat. He looks amazing... terrible... so furious and in so much pain. He looks like he did in the alley, earlier, only ten times worse. It's like the light through that stained glass window has switched angles and suddenly the saint you thought was cold and light and impossibly distant turns out to be hot, dangerous and close enough you can feel the flames.
He spins me around effortlessly; I always forget how strong he is because he's so gentle usually. But when he wants to, the guy is a force to be reckoned with. His arms come across my collar and around my chest, pinning my arms to my sides. He pulls me back against him, hard enough to make me grunt. His breath is hot and short, close against my ear, gusting over my skin and making goose pimples all up my arms.
I'm hard in about three seconds, gasping air into my lungs to counter the dizziness I feel as all my blood drops to my dick. I know how fucked-up this is, believe me, but my dick doesn't and right now he's in charge. Ben is solid behind me, his chest broad and defined, his belly is hot against my back. I think if he let go, I'd hit the deck, hard, but there's no indication that I'm any burden to him as he holds me.
"Is that what you need?" he growls against my neck and he presses his groin against my ass and oh my fucking GOD, he's as hard as I am...harder. He runs a rough hand down my body and slides it deliberately across the bulge in my jeans, taking his time, feeling every inch of me. I try to bite back the moan, but I can't and it comes out as a kind of whimpered groan, which just seems to encourage him.
With the heel of his palm he starts to rub, up and down my dick through the denim of my jeans. I drop my head back, trying to think, trying to breathe. And now with every slide of his hand, he's rubbing his cock against me. Even through all that material I can feel the pulse and twitch of him as he presses into me, angling his hips to get just the right friction.
He's rough and it's almost painful as he jerks me, but I'm delirious with need and I could take whatever he wanted to do, the way I feel right now.
"Is that right? Is that it?" he pants in my ear, he still sounds angry but also deranged with lust. "That what you need?" He's totally lost it, and it's that fact that gives me back my wits.
I have to stop him - not for me, no way. I'll take it, I'm not proud. Ben wants to jerk me and rub himself off on my ass? I'm good with that. It's all I'll ever get because, let's face it, after this, he's as good as gone anyway.
But imagine what something like this is gonna do to Ben. He doesn't do impulsive. He doesn't do out of control. If he finishes what he started here, he'll punish himself for the rest of his life. I know him; he'll never let this go.
"B...b...bbbben," I whisper. He doesn't stop, but his pace slackens slightly and he stops grunting. Either he's about to come, or he hears me.
"Ben... don't," I manage. The cold taste of salt on my lips tells me that I'm crying despite my promises.
The effect is instantaneous. He's totally still, then his arms slowly unwrap from around my body and I stumble forward, shocked at my own weight. I make it to the couch, but miss and wind up on the floor beside it, my head lolling stupidly against the seat cushions.
The tears won't stop. I can feel my body shudder with the strength of the sobs like a pale echo of Ben's body rocking me. I'm so shaken; lust, surprise and self-pity saturate me and leave me weak. I don't even know why I'm crying. I realise that I need to look at him, check on him and make sure he's okay, so I wipe my face as best I can and turn.
He hasn't moved. He's frozen. His hands hang by his sides and his eyes are huge in his too pale face. I realise he's in shock.
I pull myself up from the floor and walk unsteadily toward him. His eyes track me, but he doesn't make any effort to move. I go to grab his sleeve, so I can bring him to the couch - he needs to sit, but my fingers hesitate, just for one second before I clutch at his shirt and he notices. His eyes flick up to mine and I look away.
"Ray..." he croaks, as if he's only just realised it was me. Then he's diving past me and slamming the bathroom door. I hear a thump, then the terrible sound of retching. Ben is throwing his guts up and it's my turn to stand frozen.
After three minutes that seems like forever, I hear him flush, run some water and spit mouthfuls of it. When he eventually opens the door, he looks bad... really bad. The black smudges under his eyes and the whiteness of his skin scare me. Our gazes meet and he pauses. He drops his head and he's walking towards me. No, walking towards the door.
"I have to go."
I match his progress, walking backward, keeping myself between him and his escape. I put a hand against his chest and I see the memory of his action in the alley, flare in his eyes. For a moment I think he's going to insist and get past me. I know he can. But he stops when I keep my hand light on him; asking, not demanding.
I take a handful of his shirt and tug him back couch-ward, but he resists. He looks tired, confused, deeply ashamed and all out of fight.
I pull harder and he folds and lets me steer him, like a pair of drunks, to the couch. I push him down, fetch whiskey and return to sit beside him. Still shaking, I unscrew the bottle and realise I haven't brought glasses. Fuck it. I take a swig and feel it burn through the numbness that has taken hold of me. It's like the only real thing in the world for a minute. I hold the bottle out to him, ignore his shaking head and wait until he concedes again and takes a mouthful of the stuff.
It does its work and Ben finally speaks as he passes the bottle back.
"I'm so sorry, Ray," he grates. "I have no words to apologise enough. What I did was..."
"Understandable," I interrupt. He sounds hollow, unimaginably distant and I don't want to ever hear his voice like that again.
"How can you think that?" He looks horrified. "There is no excuse for... for..." he nods his head in the direction we came from and his face crumples. I'm too shocked yet to offer him a comforting touch, but I have my voice.
"That was need, Frase. That's how it gets." He has his head in his hands, so I can't see him weeping. "Look..." I can offer him this, it will either make him feel better, or it will finish this whole sorry thing, once and for all. When he gets the gist of what I'm saying, I'll get that punch in the head I've been expecting or...well nothing really. I don't get to win either way; let's keep it real here. But if it will stop Frase looking like that - sounding like that, it's worth it.
You see guys like me don't get guys like him. Guys like me get married to women who never really know them. Guys like me deal with wanting something else. Guys like him get... lost. Lost in a career or a cause or a religion. They stay apart from us mortals; we just get to look.
"Look," I begin again. "I wasn't exactly trying to stop you, Frase. It wasn't your fault. I am as much to blame."
"No," I hear him through the muffle of his hands; he's sniffing.
"Yes, Fraser. You see all this stuff with Cameron, it's all kinda... well... linked with you." That gets his attention.
"Cameron? Me? How? I don't see the connection," he twists his head to the side, so I can see his profile and he can listen.
"I... Cameron and me, we got together after I met you. It wasn't a rough patch with Stella that had me looking for... that. I had affairs after Stella, not... whores."
"I fail to see what that has to do with me."
"Well, the thing about Cameron is that he's... well... about the same height as me, bigger built, broader, you know?" Jeezus, I'm sure I'm making sense here, but for once the Mountie's not three steps ahead of me. Figures. "And he has dark curly hair and blue eyes."
I see Ben's eyes close and his fists curl - he still doesn't get it.
"He looks like you, Ben," I sigh. "If you're half demented with wanting and not getting, he looks just like you. And I'm sorry; I never meant it to happen. If I could make it go away and be what you want me to be, I would."
He looks at me finally, straightening so we are face to face. I think the light is dawning but let's give it one final push to be sure. If I'm getting that beating, I may as well deserve it.
"You may have... done what you did, but I... I wanted you to, Frase."
He stares at me. He's done that a lot tonight. I guess it's a lot to take in, so I just sit and let him stare. All the time he's staring, he's not shouting or accusing or...leaving.
The bottom of that whiskey bottle is looking good right about now, and I reckon ten minutes should see me there. I tip the bottle to my lips and take a sip before it is gently, but firmly, removed from my grasp.
"I need that," I tell him quietly.
"There's that word again," Ben says intently. Funny, he doesn't look like he's thinking of hitting me. Nor does he look at me like I'm a pitiable bastard. He doesn't even look disgusted, but the non-verbal thing between us is still out to lunch and that's about all I can tell.
"We should discuss this tomorrow," he states quietly.
No. If he walks now, that's it. I'm done. All the emotion tonight, all the revelations and surprises have created a kind of cocoon around this. It's like we're outside time, in a place where nothing else can make it any worse. This has to be over tonight - whatever the outcome.
"You got somewhere you need to be?"
"Well, yes, actually. I need to go and surrender myself to the local precinct house for aggravated assault, sexual harassment, sexual assault and conduct unbecoming a law enforcement officer."
I just stare at him. Where does he keep dragging up this weird shit from? We've been partners for over a year and every time I think I know him, he pulls something like this on me.
"Frase, I've just admitted that I'm in love with you. And you're gonna go and turn yourself in for giving me what I've been dreaming of?"
"Well, strictly speaking, you admitted that you employed Cameron because he looked like me, that does not necessarily imply that you are in love with me. It could be that..."
"I am," I cut him off.
"Is that it?" Is he fucking joking?
"No, not really. But given the fact that I assaulted you..." he says and his eyes close briefly "...I cannot, in good conscience, begin to explain my feeling on the matter for fear that anything I said would be tainted by my deplorable behaviour tonight. If, as it would appear, you are willing to... forgive me..." he snatches a glance at me, "...then perhaps once I have been charged and released, we could discuss the matter further."
I blink. And again. "I... what?" Fraser opens his mouth to explain again. "No wait... don't say anything."
He snaps his mouth shut and looks at me. I'm glad to see he has a little more colour, but I can feel myself getting paler with his every word. My secret, my big, humungo, earth-shattering secret is out there and he's sitting there talking as if nothing's happened. Did he hear me? Does he even understand what I mean by 'love'? Discuss it? Is he totally unhinged? Either he hits me and gets it over with, or he tells me he understands and that he'll ask for reassignment - I'm not waiting 'til tomorrow to find out HOW he's gonna leave me.
"I'm not filing charges," I tell him, baldly.
"No. I won't do it."
"I restrained you, I... I... hurt you... if you hadn't..."
He's losing it again. "Shut up, Ben. You're not reporting this. You apologised to me. I apologise for provoking you... we're good," I assert, although the final two words have yet to be proven.
"Provoking me?" he yelps. "No amount of provocation should be enough for me to do what I did. I couldn't control my anger and I have to deal with that. When you said that you went with that man out of need, I became deranged. I couldn't believe you'd value yourself so little that you'd resort to that. Not when you had other options," he shakes his head and looks at me in exasperation.
But I got nothing. A big fat zero. So he tries again.
"I was furious that you'd consider Cameron as a sexual partner, when you wouldn't look twice at me."
Now I'm getting pretty good at Canadian. I didn't realise when I took this gig that I would need to learn a foreign language, but I did. Canadian. Why say one short word when sixteen long ones will do the same job? For example I say 'please' - he says 'if you would be so kind'. I say "listen' - he says 'if you would allow me a moment of your time, I have a theory I'd like you to consider'. I say 'I love you' - he says - I have no idea what he says because it's fucking CANADIAN! And it's not in any of the phrases I've learned so far.
"Fraser, I have just spilled my guts to you. I'm a little tired, a little freaked out and I need a drink, which you won't give me. Would you please cut the polite crap and put me out of my misery," I moan, close my eyes and lay my head on the couch back.
"How can I do that?"
"Just tell me whether you're asking for reassignment, you're going to be polite and distant until I can get reassigned or just hit me, okay?"
He takes a deep breath, "I..."
"Ah!" I jump in before he starts again. "In words of one syllable - two if you say them slowly."
"None," he replies.
I'm so tense awaiting his answer that it takes a few moments to register that he's done. The anti-climax is overwhelming and I whoosh out an exasperated breath.
"None? What is none?"
"None as in I'm not going to utili... do any of your suggesti... ideas."
"What are you gonna do?" I ask in a small voice, roll my head and open my eyes to look at him sat beside me. He's watching his hands in his lap, then he raises his head to stare at the opposite wall - apparently my paintwork is fascinating.
"Well, I thought maybe I'd ask you to dinner," he replies.
"Why?" This isn't Canadian - this is dicking about with Ray's head and he's a past master at it.
"I think it's a traditional... tried and tested dating technique. Not that I have much experie... knowledge of such things."
"You're gonna take me on a date?" My head hurts and I really, really need that whiskey.
"Yes. Unless you'd rather not," he muses.
"Again, I ask...why?"
"Well, it would be presumpt... Ray, I need more than two syllables."
"Fine," I tell him, "Spill."
"It would be presumptuous of me to assume, after the miscommunication we have experienced this evening and over the past year, that you would be willing to embark on a relationship with me without us addressing the issues that have precluded us getting to this point before."
"You want to talk about us being a couple," I translate.
"Yes. Maybe if I can regain your confidence in me, I can begin to atone for the embarrassing display of my baser nature that my jealousy of your interaction with Cameron engendered."
"You wanna be with me," I decipher.
"Yes. A basic breakdown of communication between us has occurred, the direct upshot of which, is that although you did not make me aware of your feelings for me, I also did not appraise you of my deeply felt desire for you."
"Deeply felt... you're in love with me," I blurt.
"Yes. Is it really necessary for you to repeat everything I say?" he asks a little testily. And he's actually blushing.
"You love me, you wanna be with me, you wanna take me to dinner and chat about feelings and stuff."
"Yes. Could you stop reiterating now, please?"
Fraser is in love with me.
In love with me.
In love with me.
Fraseris in love with me.
Reiter... whatnot isn't working either. This is freaky. Weird. Hinkey. I'm saying the words, he's saying the words, but for some reason, I'm just not getting it. I need to move this into a language form I can speak.
"Take off your boots," I tell him, as if that was a totally normal thing for me to say. And he complies as if this were a totally normal thing for him to do.
"Ray, I really think you should let me go to the local police and..."
"No. Undo your shirt."
"I don't think you understand the enormity of..."
"Yeah, I get it. The enormity of it. Still no. Socks."
If I wasn't getting harder by the second I might see this as funny - Ben's formality and his worried expression while he is doing everything I tell him to. His shirt is unbuttoned revealing his smooth pale skin and hairless chest. He's sitting there with only his jeans still intact, using those long words of his and frowning.
With a quick smile, I catch him up, shedding everything but my jeans onto the floor and I kneel on the couch beside him and wait.
"....and the obvious conclusion is that it would be the best course of action all round," he finishes and finally looks at me properly. "Oh Lord!" he murmurs as he registers my nearness and all the bareness.
"You want to make it up to me? For you actually being human after all?"
"Yes, of course I do,"
"Good. Kiss me."
"I fail to see how that will..."
"Ray, I think..."
"I can't help thinking..."
"Fraser, if you don't kiss me right now, I swear mphhhh..."
God, what a rush! His mouth is warm and firm and moving over mine, seeking to touch every inch of it. His arms come around me, but gently this time, cradling and supporting me - which is good because I can feel my grip on upright fading fast.
He makes as if to pull away, but I have a better idea. I grab his head; my fingers slide across his skull through his perfect hair and hold him as I nip at his lips. His mouth opens slightly in response to me bringing our bodies together, his chest against mine, hard and hot. Instantly I'm there, diving deep into his mouth, stroking my tongue over his, wet, burning and so hungry I'm shaking with it.
It takes a minute for Frase to understand where I'm going with this. Each time he tries to withdraw, each time he wants to gentle us, I catch him and provoke him with lips, fingers, tongues, whatever - just to keep him with me. Talking is done now, I've heard him. Now I'm explaining my half of this story, in a language I know he speaks, if only he'd listen.
My hands are on his fly, feeling the pulse and twitch of his cock as he struggles for dominance of the kiss. My fingers are sure and confident, popping buttons and peeling back the denim and damp cotton to reveal his solid dick. His eyes close briefly as my hand wraps around his length, but that brooding blue gaze returns to my face when I start a slow, sliding stroke on his hot skin.
He rips his lips from mine with a shuddering "Ahhhhhhhh." He looks fucking amazing, hot and mussed and lustful. And I can't wait any longer.
I stand up, back away from the couch and quickly shed my remaining clothes, standing wild eyed and panting before him.
"Frase..." I warn and finally, finally our groove is back. I see recognition, understanding in his dark eyes and he gets to his feet to strip, quickly and efficiently.
For a few, breathtaking moments, we just stare, then we move. The smack and slide of skin when we lunge for each other is strangely satisfying; it sounds solid. Feels better than solid. Feels right.
His hands are everywhere, grasping, pinching, pushing, tugging, and mine are equally wild. There's nowhere on us that's taboo, I won't let it be. I have to have all of him. We don't speak, our hands and our kisses do the talking for us. And I know he's understanding what I'm saying when he lets me drag him into my bedroom. As horny as I am, I'm not fucking Fraser for the first time on the couch.
We don't bother with lights, the glow from the living room is enough that I can find what I want from the nightstand. I throw him the condoms and the lube, which he catches deftly.
He peers closely at what he's caught and his eyes come up to mine. The Can I? is so clear to see, I smile. Sure. Want you to.
He grasps me round the waist with his free hand and brings his lips down onto mine with a sweetness I hadn't noticed in our earlier kisses. His heavy tongue fills me, deep, slow and intoxicating. His mouth is like a drug, heady and mind-altering, and I'm clinging to him to stop myself disappearing altogether into the sensation of it.
With a knee on the mattress, he takes me down to the bed, then pulls back to hover over me. With a smile I hope is seductive, but could just be goofy, I roll onto my front and settle my head on my hands.
His fingers slide down my back before leaving me altogether and where he touched I can feel the loss of his warmth. Quiet noises keep me up to date with his actions, but I'm still surprised when I feel his lips touch the cheek of my ass; tiny baby kisses all over my lower back and ass and down onto my thighs, making me squirm and whine for more.
He lifts my hip and with a confident hand, he cups my balls, rolling them in his hot palm. With the other, he runs a finger along the cleft of my ass, leaving the cold slick of lube in this wake. And again. And again. Almost crazed by his gentle touches, I push back on his next pass, seeking to spear myself on his teasing fingers. The chuckle I get in response is pure filth, but at least he's with the programme now.
I huff out a long breath as his finger slowly breaches me, and again when he withdraws to replace it with two. I feel the subtle stretch of my skin against the coolness of his slick fingers. It's been a while, but my body remembers. He builds up a rhythm, stroking me, stretching and preparing me. His fingers ghost closer and closer to that spot inside me that seems to burn for his touch. Then he's gone.
I feel the mattress shift as he kneels closer, and out of the corner of my eye I notice a movement. I screw up my eyes and peer in the subtle light and I see that what I noticed was a reflection in my bedroom mirror. My breath catches as I watch Ben rolling a condom down his straining cock, then stroking himself with a palm of lube, arching his neck at the sensation.
I should tell him; let him know that I can see him, but it's such a gift to watch him unawares. He has an unconscious grace about him, a sensual sort of beauty and my mouth waters at the sight of his skin, like a conditioned response.
He licks the corner of his mouth and lets his hands trail down my back before resting on my ass and hip. The muscles in his thighs flex, tightening his ass when he guides the head of his cock to my hole. I'm prepared for the cool touch and arch my back as he presses slowly in.
It feels...extraordinary ...mind-blowing to have him inside me, filling me. But what's even better is seeing his face as he does. His head is tilted back, baring his strong neck. His eyes are tightly shut and it's such longing on his face that it looks almost like pain as he oh-so-gradually eases his way into my body. I struggle to keep my eyes open, to watch him, the burn of his cock is making me almost delirious. His lips are parted, and he breathes hard, biting his bottom lip once or twice. He drops his head forward as his groin touches my ass and he sighs.
He pauses there, giving me time to adjust I think, but I don't want that. I want to know he's there, I want to feel the heat of muscles pushed to accept more than they're used to, I want him to fuck me and I want it to hurt a little...or a lot, I don't care. I want my body to remember this forever, what it feels like to get what you wanted.
I lift up onto my hands and feel his angle within me change, and I shudder. I pull myself off him, delighting in the drag of his cock inside me. His hands dig into my hips and I watch his reflection as he shakes his head slowly, trying to hold it together. I know he can, so I slide my hips back again, swallowing him. Off him, on him, over and over while he breathes deeply, holding as still as he can while I fuck myself on him.
I see the second his resolve breaks, when his chin lifts and with a low, growling moan, he jerks forward to meet me. My head drops forward and I lose it for a minute, overwhelmed by the sensation - he's deep, so very deep.
When I open my eyes again and search for his face, he's looking directly at me in the mirror, a small smile on his flushed face as he jerks into me again. He knew all along, I realise as he really starts to work it. I thought I was seeing Ben break apart, but what I saw was Ben letting me see him break apart. And that's just...wow...intimate. Which sounds stupid considering what we're doing, but it's true nonetheless.
In a kind of daze I watch him, the sensation of his body in mine, rhythmic and so right, I'm drunk on it. I'm mesmerised by the ebb and flow of his muscles, like a tide beneath his skin. He's quiet and intent, and when I catch sight of my own face, I'm the same. And I wonder if he's still angry with me; if he's trying to remove the taint of Cameron from me with his own body. And then I wonder if I'm doing the same thing.
It's always like this when I go looking for this kind of connection; either me on my knees, or me taking them from behind. It could be anybody - any body. But for the first time since I split with Stella, this isn't just another body to work out my need on. It's Ben - really Ben; not random dark haired guy, not guy whose smile reminds me of, not guy with Canadian accent - really Ben.
And watching him second hand like this isn't enough. He groans when I pull off him and I catch a glimpse of his eyes; he looks confused and wary.
"Need...need to see you, Ben," I pant as I twist onto my back, my legs tangling with his as I try to flip myself over. He gazes at me for a second when I finally manage to lie down, he looks like he wants to say something, but instead he stoops to give me a soft kiss.
He runs fingers through my hair, lingering over the feel of it. His hands come lower and touch the stubble on my face, his gaze tracking from my eyes to his fingers over and over, as if he's not quite sure if this is allowed. I lay quiet for him, wait for him to have touched and looked his fill. He sinks to the bed beside me and with the odd smile but mostly a kind of wonder, he maps my body with his fingers. Like we have all the time in the world, he traces the line of my collarbone, my hip, my knee. He pauses over old scars, his thumb gently brushing the different texture.
My body is thrumming, invisibly vibrating like iron attracted to a magnet, but somehow held back. His touch ignites me; everywhere his hand passes is flame. He must see my struggle, he bends to kiss me again, soothing me with gentle lips.
Silently he kneels between my thighs again and arranges me before him. His hand closes around my cock and he pumps me slowly, thoughtfully. Then with a hand behind my knee, he lifts me and encourages me to slide down the bed and onto his knees. I arch my back, taking my weight on my shoulders and without fuss, Ben eases his way back inside me. I'm breaking apart at the scratch of the hairs of his thighs against my lower back and the potential in his muscles.
He starts to rock, slow and easy, and it's like nothing on earth. There's no hurry, this isn't a headlong rush to come, this is enjoying the journey, this is making love and nothing like my sordid fantasy fucks with the 'almost' Bens. Carefully, not losing his rhythm, he leans in to kiss me again and wipe tears I didn't know I'd cried from my eyes. God, what he does to me.
He doesn't falter in his pace, nothing to give away how close he is, and I follow his lead, lifting to meet his thrusts, but holding myself together, not rushing. Ben's hand on me keeps the pace, keeps me with him. I feel release twist within me, growing so slowly, giving me time to know it. I fasten my hand around his on my dick and let this slow burn happen. Finally, when I'm so full and coiled almost too tight to speak, his breathing betrays him. He pants, his face strained and flushed, eyes closed and head back.
"Ben," I whisper over the soft slide and slap of his skin on mine. He opens his eyes, gives me the most brilliant smile I've ever seen, and we're there. He shudders and moans, his self imposed rhythm finally gone and I feel him deep within me, pulsing as I reach flashpoint and I come hard and long on my belly, his belly, scalding heat and slipperiness between us. Every muscle in my body is seized and I can't breathe for what feels like an eternity. Christ, it's like nothing I've ever felt before. I mean coming is great...greatness, but this...it just goes on and on. Can't see, can't speak, just can't...think I might be dying.
His touch shows me the way back. He slides his hand from my dick into the stickiness on our skin, smearing it, tracing patterns on us as our shudders subside. He slips from me and lies down on his side beside me. He leaves his warm, heavy hand on my belly and I'm reassured by that, 'cos I guess this is the talking part.
It's quiet for a really long time, and stupidly, I'm too scared to turn my head and look at him. Maybe talking after is a chick thing...or even a Stella thing and I'm just thinking that maybe I've got away with it when Frase takes a breath.
"Don't do it anymore," he says quietly. I don't need to ask what; I know he's talking about Cameron.
I get up wordlessly and go to the bathroom. His eyes follow me when I return with towels. I kneel beside him on the bed and gently wipe the evidence from him, taking the opportunity to run my hands over his skin. He sighs when I take the condom from him, accepting my intimacy without embarrassment. He waits for me to speak and I'll never get how he does that. He has so much discipline.
"I don't need to anymore...do I?" I'm glad to hear that I don't sound pathetic, sounds like I'm just checking. He reaches up and cups my face, bringing me to lay with him with the gentle pressure of his hand and I drag the quilt up with me and cover us. He shifts his weight over me, so his chest pins me and I smile to let him know I'm good with that. I shiver a little; this is another one of the things I've been dreaming of - possessive Fraser. Getting a reaction out of him, cracking that Mountie reserve.
He leans down and kisses me, not hard, but comprehensively and totally in control. I guess that answers my question. We fall quiet again and Ben settles at my side after biting my neck gently.
"Frase, I meant what I said earlier," I offer softly. Dammit, now I'm doing the talking thing. "I liked you getting all...Not that I didn't enjoy what we just did. That was...wow. But when you...hold me..."
Ben kisses me again and I can feel the smile on his face. I can't believe I'm telling him this stuff, I mean, this is intimate. It's not your standard stakeout or taking in a game type conversation. Telling your lover of one night that you jerk off to fantasies of being pinned with your hands over your head is a first for me.
"I was just proving that I could do it slowly," Frase murmurs, his voice giving me chills, so close by my ear.
"Slow's good," I whimper.
"But?" he prompts.
"Maybe, sometimes...you know, we could...you could..."
"Behave like a crazy person?"
I snigger at him, then nod, watching for his response.
"Well that shouldn't be a problem as you basically drive me to distraction every damn day," Frase murmurs sleepily. His eyes drift closed and I'm torn between licking him awake again and watching him fall asleep. My dick is gonna be massively unhappy with me, but I choose the latter.
A few minutes later Dief pads into the room and I'm overtaken with embarrassment, wondering where the wolf has been all the while Frase and I have been doing the wild thing. At this point I know I've lost it; if I'm blushing because a wolf has been a witness to me getting some, than I need a shrink.
He comes around the bed and butts my hand, looking for a scratch. I oblige and he licks my shoulder quickly before walking back to the end of the bed. I lift a finger to my lips when he pauses beside Ben and I swear he gives me a withering look, then clicks his way back into the living room.
I turn back to Ben and move closer to feel the gust of his breath on my face. I know how lightly he sleeps, so I stop myself from touching him even though my fingers are itching to feel his skin again.
The rain has got harder outside, and I can hear the hiss of it in the street and on the window. It sounds cold. But Ben is warm and I bask in the heat from his skin and listen to the gurgle of the drainpipes with a smug smile on my face.
I think I could lay here forever, watching him, and I'd be happy. This is the longest I've been still, when not unconscious, in years. His skin is darker than mine, but still pale in the dimness. He has scars I can only just make out on his chin and his shoulder. His face is relaxed, his lips softly parted and I'm reminded of my weird thoughts from earlier this evening...or was it a hundred years ago? About those frozen saints, captured forever in the throws of religious passion but never knowing about love. And I realise that's not who Ben is.
Lying here, in my bed, naked and happy, he's just like me; only human. He needed every bit as much as I did, he just didn't know what to do about it. He snowed himself in duty and self-discipline and I ignored it until I couldn't stand it and picked up Cameron or whoever. Same problem; different solutions.
We're neither of us saints. We're neither of us sinners.
And I can live with that.
End Stained Glass Saint by Berty
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