Well, Tam told us to watch the end of Eclipse because it looked like Paul was misbehaving. I did. I think she's right. Actually, I watched the whole episode. This was the result.
Spoilers: Uh...duh - Eclipse
Disclaimers: Fraser and Kowalski. Not mine. Alliance. WhatEVER. Even if I wanted to (which I *don't*), I can't get them to leave. I also can't seem to get them to shut up.
PG for language. No sex. I'm sorry, but at the moment, I'm still really intrigued by all the different ways Ben and Ray K might come to the realization that they want each other.
Feedback: Most definitely at LaToot@aol.com

by LaT

I look around the bullpen. There's something kinda weird, almost surreal, about the whole thing. Almost everybody's got a party hat on, my beloved Crowbar is playing all over the station, those whacked-out waiters are actually *serving* people cake, ice cream and whatever else is on offer, and people keep wishing me "Happy Birthday."

They know it's not my birthday because they know I'm not *really* who I'm supposed to be, but they keep coming up to me and sayin' it. 'Happy Birthday, Ray.' 'Hope you've got some great plans tonight, Ray.' 'So...what'd you get for your birthday, Ray?'

What's so wild about it is that they're sayin' it like they mean it. Like they really *do* wish me the best or somethin'.

This is all the Mountie's fault. I'm pretty sure he's the only one who'd a) remember that it's Vecchio's birthday, and 2) do somethin' about it. Even though he knows I'm not Vecchio. Has known it since the minute he laid eyes on me. But this whole odd little set-up's got Fraser written all over it. What'd he say? Traditional Yukon birthday celebration. Complete with bobbin' for trout. *Trout.* Why am I not surprised that in the Northwest Areas they'd bob for *fish*.

The really whacked thing is that as strange as this is - a birthday party for me that's not really for me because it's not really my birthday - it's the first time since I took this gig that I've felt good about it. Cool with it. Like, maybe some of these people like me. Or, at least, think about me as part of things here. *Me*. Not him. Not the guy I'm supposed to be. 'Cause they know I'm not him, so it really wouldn't matter if they said "Happy Birthday" to me or not, but...they do.

"So this is a traditional Yukon celebration?" I look at Fraser.

"It's a fair approximation. Without the snow, of course." Fraser looks at me as he says this. Like he wants to know that I'm having a good time. It's been a while since anybody's wanted to know that about me. It feels...good. I smile and nod at him to let him know. It *is* going well. People are enjoyin' themselves.

He smiles at me then. He's got a great smile. One of those room-lightin' suckers where you can't help but smile back. Looking at him, you'd think that smile'd gotten him everything he ever wanted. That that's how he *uses* it. But I've read his file, and I know this isn't true.

Fraser's not a user. True, you can't get to know somebody just from readin' a stack of paper, but somehow, I know this about him. I can tell he doesn't use this makes-you-feel-like-life-really-is-just-a-bowl-of-ripe-red-cherries smile of his to get people to do what he wants. Nah. The smile is...special. It feels weird havin' it turned on me. Weird and nice at the same time.

Huey walks up to us. I'm not certain about it yet, but I think I like Huey. He's smart and fast. A good cop. I know from the files that he and Vecchio didn't always get along - in fact, got on like oil and water most times - but he's been cool with me since I got here. Like, even though there's this whole undercover thing goin' on, he's gonna give *me* a fair shake. Not let whatever was between him and Vecchio be there with me and him just 'cause I'm supposed to be Vecchio.

Huey's gonna try the funky, pinata-like thing Fraser's set up. It's another Yukon Birthday Special. Somethin' about breaking open the paper-mache ball, except you gotta kick it while the thing's hangin' from the ceiling. I tell Huey I'm not sure he can do it, but he tries anyway and ends up on his back on the floor.

"Party's going rather well, I think," Fraser says, as if Huey hasn't just busted his ass right in front of us.

"Oh yeah, " I say. Not that Huey on the floor isn't kinda funny, but suddenly, I want all of Fraser's attention. I look at him again and somehow I know he hasn't been watching Huey at all, but he's been watching me. I don't know why, but havin' those pretty blue eyes on me makes me feel...warm.

I felt the same way earlier in the day, when I stepped around that statue in the crypt, and he was just...standing there.

"Hi Ray," he said. Almost...sweet, with a teeny, not-quite smile. Like it was just another Pleasant Valley Sunday, hangin' out at the cemetery with a gun pointed at his head.

I was mad. No one was supposed to know where I was, let alone *join* me for the ride, but...He's standing there, looking at me, those eyes boring into me, and all of a sudden, I felt hot. Really hot. I got pissy with him to distract myself from that fact that I was hot and it was because of his eyes. Because of him.

*Jesus*, it's been a weird day. The stake-out, coming face-to-face with Ellery after all this time, the party, Fraser making me feel hot. Okay. I need to stop comin' back to the Fraser-makes-me-feel-hot thing. Ellery. That's why I want his attention. I want to tell him about Ellery.

I'm not sure what I was expectin' to happen when I saw Ellery again, but I didn't think feelin'...free was gonna be a part of it. But that's how I feel now. Somehow, when Ellery said he didn't remember me, it was like whatever chip I'd had on me over the whole thing just disappeared.

The stuff I told Fraser about Stella was only part of it. Maybe, deep down, what bothered me too was that I hated it that Ellery knew he'd scared me so much I humiliated myself in front of her and all those other people. And I knew, just *knew* that it musta stayed with him the way it stayed with me. That every time he wanted someone to know how bad-ass he was, he'd trot out that story of the kid who got so scared he pissed himself.

I know it's stupid to give a shit what some two-bit criminal thinks, but maybe I couldn't stand the thought of being the punchline of Ellery's best joke. When he said he didn't remember me, and I knew he meant it, it was like some big weight just fell off me.

I wanna explain this to Fraser 'cause it's partly his...well, not fault, but I was all set to let it go as best I could, knowin' I'd never be satisfied about it. Then, I threw that dream-catcher and it led me to Ellery. And I only had the dream-catcher 'cause that was Fraser's birthday present to me. And I really do think it was for me. Not Vecchio. Me.

Fraser's still lookin' at me. His eyes make me think of blue flames, the kind you get when you turn on a gas stove. Stove. Hot. Fraser's eyes. I should probably talk now.

"You know Fraser, seeing Ellery again was weird," I say as we step on and over Huey because I've started walkin', tired of standin' in the doorway of Welsh's office. Fraser is walkin' in perfect sync with me, which is kinda spooky and at the same time kinda nice.

"Yeah, I can imagine," he says, with this tone that makes me think he probably can.

"I mean, that guy dogged me my entire life, but then, I saw him, and it was like the sky opened up or somethin'. It just...I don't know...," and then I look at him.

Fraser's beamin'. Smilin' that incredible smile. He's happy about somethin' and at first, I think somebody must be doing somethin' behind me to make him smile like that. Then I remember that this is Fraser. Once you get his attention, you get it in spades. So I know there's nothin' behind me that's makin' him smile like that.

Then I get it. He's smilin' at me. No. *For* me. He's smilin' because...I'm happy. I can't remember the last time someone was happy about somethin' just 'cause I was happy about it. And I feel myself beamin' back at him, grateful maybe, for him understandin', and lovin' that, as pretty as his eyes normally are, they're even prettier when he smiles.

Why the hell am I pretendin' that it's just his eyes? It's all of him. But not pretty, though. Not really. No, he's the real deal. *Beautiful*, with a capital 'B.' But I gotta stop thinkin' like this because he's my partner, and "they" always say you don't fish off the company pier. But damn, that high beam's shinin' on me right now and I'm...just...gonna...bask. And shine my own beam right back. He's talkin' suddenly.

"You know Ray, my father once told me that the sky isn't just above you; that if you look at the horizon, you'll see that it actually touches the ground. So, if you think about it, wherever you go, you're actually walking in the sky."

We've only known each other for two months, Fraser and me, but already, I just know he's gonna have one of these stories for everything. As he tells me this, he looks serious and happy and gorgeous, all at once. The gorgeous part is probably the best at the moment, but I bet Fraser happy is worth even more. But walkin' in the sky? That's just nutty and I can't help it and I tell him so.

"You're a freak, " I say, bein' sure to grin a little. He *is* a freak - a beautiful freak - but I don't wanna hurt his feelings.

"Understood," he says, lookin' at me, the blue flames risin' just a little higher, flickerin' just a little brighter. His eyes really are amazing.

For some reason, we start walkin' again, in step with each other. In sync. I have no idea where we're going and I'm sure Fraser doesn't either. We're just walkin'. The waiters are still servin' people, everybody's still got their party hats on, Welsh is bobbin' for that damn trout and just walkin' with Fraser feels good.

As we head out of the bullpen, he looks at me, kind of sly, and a little somethin' else I can't name.

"Ray. I have something of a confession to make."

Oh. This could be interesting. I don't even try to fight the urge to do some teasin'.

"You really are from another planet, aren't you?"

"Not that I'm aware of, Ray."

Okay. "You're not really a Mountie, are you?"

"Oh, no. I assure you, I am a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police."

Fraser is and isn't easy to tease. I stop tryin'. "What's up?"

"Well, I'm afraid that I've...well, I...I've broken a promise. A small promise, but a promise nonetheless."

We're in the hall now, still walkin', and as much as I wanna look at him, I also don't wanna run into anything either, and I'm not ready to stop movin' yet. "Uh huh?"

"You see, Ray, when your landlady let me into your apartment, I told her I wouldn't take anything."

"Uh huh?" I slow down a little, wondering *again* why the idea of Fraser in my apartment makes my skin tingle.

"I'm afraid I did."

*That* makes me stop. My skin's still tinglin', but Fraser also just said he....

"You *took* somethin' out of my apartment?"

"Yes. And I'm sorry. I shouldn't have, and I even promised, in a manner of speaking, that I wouldn't. But I just...I thought you'd like it for the party so I..."

"Fraser, you're makin' me nuts. Just spit it out." A beautiful, exasperating freak.

"Your Crowbar compact disc. I...took it out of the stereo and brought it with me so it could be played at the party."

Oh. That explains why it's playin' in the bullpen. But how did he...

"How did you know I was listenin' to it?"

"You left the stereo on. I was...curious about what type of music you favored, so I opened the compartment. It was the only compact disc in the stereo and because you failed to turn it off before leaving...."

"...you assumed I was listenin' to it as I got ready to go to the cemetery?"

"Yes. That led me to believe that you would welcome its inclusion in the festivities of your party."

At some point we'd started walkin' again. He was right, but it hadn't even occurred to me. I didn't even think about how it happened to be playin', just that it was and I loved that it was.

This thing is, that *is* my gettin' ready music. Not just for today, but kinda in general. I mean, "Oh, What a Feeling" is one of my "I'm-a-bad-ass-mutha-fucka" themes. Makes me feel like I can handle anything, maybe even do it with a fuckin' *smile* if I choose to. Fraser couldn't just *know* this. He's freaky, not psychic. But there's somethin' a little spooky - good spooky, but still spooky - about him thinkin' that bringin' it to play at the party was a good idea. What is it "they" always say about little things meanin' a lot? I should thank him.

"Well, you're right about that, Fraser. And if *you* don't tell my landlady, she'll never hear it from me." I wink. It's the closest to flirtin' with him I think I can get. A smaller version of the high-beam shines my way and Jesus, but I *do* like bein' on the receivin' end of that smile.

We've made our way back to the squad room. I head straight to the box and fiddle with the buttons 'til I hear the openin' notes of my song. It looks like Welsh got the trout, so I'm stuck with the pinata thing. Huey tries to warn me, but hey, I'm ready. I faced down one of the biggest boogey-men in my past today. This stupid paper mache ball hasn't got shit on me. I listen to a few bars of my song, then move into a leapin' kick.

The floor hurts, just like I figured it would. I was gonna just stay here for a few, but there's a flash of red and Fraser reaches down, offering his hand to help me up.

I take it, looking into his beautiful face and the blue flame of those eyes as I do. His grip is strong and his touch feels good. Smoothly, easily, he pulls me up, steadies me once I'm on my feet. Somehow, all of a sudden, that story about walkin' in the sky makes sense.


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