The Course

by Bone & Aristide 

November 2000 

Disclaimers:	The due South characters remain the property of Alliance
Atlantis. Written for pleasure, not profit. For adult readers only. 

Notes:	See, what happened is, Bone got infected with a plot virus, and
we wrote this in an attempt to cure her of it -- feed a cold, starve
a fever, smut a plot. Desperate measures, baby. Our boys don't have safe
sex, but we strongly encourage *you* to. 

Acknowledgements: 	To Kat Allison and Crysothemis for awesome beta support,
and to Mouse for a little discussion on perception. 

Dedication:	To nancy, from both of us. Wholeheartedly.

Pairing:	Huey/Dewey (just *kidding*, geez...Fraser/Kowalski)

Rating:	NC-17 (and we're *not* kidding on that one)

Summary:	Randomness. Inevitability. Smut.

Feedback:	Would be gratefully welcomed at and


March 18

Fraser put me in charge of the weather diary. Weather diary? What do
we need a weather diary for? How many different ways we got to say, "Cold
today"? He reminded me the Inuit have sixty different words for snow.
I reminded him we weren't Inuit, we were plain old white folks who had
one perfectly good word for snow, and he said that was because we lacked
imagination, and I said I saved my imagination for better things than
*snow*, and it went downhill from there. 

Upshot is he does everything else, and I make like ballast in the sled
and write in the weather journal that it's cold today. Personally, I
think it's so when they find our skinny carcasses frozen in a snowbank
somewhere, they'll know what took us out -- whether it was the nor'easter,
or the Screaming Virgin, or the lefthook, chinhook, whatever else names
they got for all those winds. Just like the snow, they got all these
names for wind. Me, I just think it's fucking cold. And windy. Cold and
windy. That should just about cover it. 

March 20

Cold today. Cloud cover. No wind, no new snow. We made good time today,
whatever that means. I'm just along for the ride. A little adventure,
me and Fraser off on a little adventure with Dief and his buds. Woke
up spooned around Dief this morning. Not a good sign. 

March 23

Colder today. Light snow, sledding into the wind. Wind made me tear up
and my eyelashes froze together. Fraser put his hands over my eyes and
blew on them, breathed on them, thawed them out. Freaky thing to do., not talking about that. I can't imagine him out here doing
this by himself, like I know he's done. What happens if his eyelashes
glue up? Who blows on him? 

March 25

Damn cold. Sky's a weird color. Looks bigger or something. Hope we find
that hand soon. Think I'm headed down a slippery slope here, and it's
got nothing to do with living on a sled. Fraser leaned over me today,
reaching out to untangle a line, and there's his wrist in front of my
face. Skin. Like, two inches of it. Blue veins, white skin, pinked up
from the cold. It's 15 below 0 (and I don't speak metric, so that's fahrenheit),
and I've lost some eyelashes, and we're in the middle of freakin' nowhere,
and what happens? I'm popping a boner over two bare inches of Fraser.
Not even a *good* two inches. Which is just...nuts. Stupid. Crazy. Not
a good idea. *Not* a good idea. 

March 26

Blizzard. Never heard anything like it. Makes Screaming Virgins sound
like a choir of angels. Scariest thing I ever heard. Thank God for all
that Mountie shit I give Fraser a hard time over. He got us cocooned
in a cave in about twenty minutes. Dogs up front, us behind, smooshed
together in the sleeping bags, riding it out. Couldn't stop shaking,
no matter how close he got. 

March 27

Still snowing. Embarrassed myself in the sleeping bag last night. Woke
up rubbing him up. Guess it could have been worse. Could have been Dief,
and wouldn't *that* have been hard to explain. Fraser took it pretty
good, considering. Just rolled me over, patted my shoulder and said,
"Perfectly natural, Ray," then went back to snoring. Perfectly natural
to want his ass? Is there *any* chance that's what he meant? No. So.
Okay. Not okay. Y'know, it's one thing to like a guy as much as I like
Fraser. He's a great guy. So I can kind of make that okay in my head.
It'd be weird if I *didn't* like him, right? But that's not what this
is. Yeah, it's that, but there's more to it. The boner problem puts a
whole different spin on things. This isn't like the kid stuff I've done
before with guys. This is grown-up stuff, too important to fuck with.
Probably just as well he's staying and I'm going. There's just no point
going there. There's no *there* there. Leaving's gonna be hard enough
as it is. 

March 29

Three days of snow. Not the fluffy White Christmas stuff, either. This
is sandy, stinging snow, feels like getting scrubbed with sandpaper going
out in it. Hell, it looked like it fell *up* sometimes. Okay, okay, I
admit it. I could use another couple words for "snow." We've been cooped
up in here with the dogs since whatever day that was (should have been
writing day *and* date, cuz I don't have a clue). It's smoky and I stink
and I've gotten to where I won't even go outside to pee by myself. I
make Fraser go with me, tied to me with some rope. No way am I letting
him out of my sight in this mess. Gotta say, though, if you ever have
to live unwashed in a cave with some dogs and an indoor campfire, Fraser's
your man. He acts like we're at a Hilton. He belongs out here. Honest
to God, he does. 

March 30

Pen froze. Fraser told me to stick it in my mouth -- guess it's no stranger
than some of the stuff he's stuck in his. 

March 31

Blizzard wore itself out, temp's up a little, and we're on the go again.
I don't know which direction's up anymore. Don't know which way we're
headed. Don't care. The sky and the ground are the same color. Everything's
white, or gray, really. Makes me look for color. Makes me look for Fraser.

April 2

Forget the Hand of Franklin. Give me the Hand of Fraser any day. I'm
the reaching out one, totally at sea, and he's right there, one hand
out, two sometimes. Mittened or bare. I don't even have to look for it.
He's right there, giving me a hand-out. Some quality Fraser time. Hell,
this is his idea of a vacation. 

April 4

Cold outside. Cold inside. We didn't find Franklin. Doesn't matter. Wasn't
why I went. We'll hit the RCMP outpost tomorrow. Civilization, Canadian
style. Means we get to cook indoors, but we still have to whiz outdoors.
I get a hopper from there to Wherever, and from there to Whocares, and
eventually, I guess somebody'll take me back to Chicago. So we got one
last night out in the wild gray yonder. I could try...but I won't. Don't
want to ruin what we got, and don't want to get tangled up any more than
I already am, so either way, it's no good. Nothing good about this not-being-together
crap. Hate that. Hate it. 


Fraser raised his head abruptly. Unconsciously, he'd drawn closer and
closer to the slightly smoke-scented pages of Ray's journal, losing himself
there so profoundly that his surroundings had completely disappeared.
He'd been *there*, back on their adventure, a strange doubling of perspective
as Ray's narrative was echoed by his own memories of Ray in the firelight,
intent, writing. 

Writing. If he'd known then, what Ray was writing, he'd... well, certainly
he'd have been as flushed as he was right now, his face hot, his skin
itchy. He closed the notebook and touched it to his forehead -- it was
cool, almost cold, despite the length of time he'd been holding it, as
if it had somehow absorbed the qualities of the atmosphere it had traveled
through. He inhaled. Smoke, from a fire of scant wood. Something else,
musky, perhaps a little spicy, elusive and faint, but compelling. Yes.
Fraser made himself put the book down. 

He had always enjoyed watching Ray write in the weather diary; it had
provided a rare opportunity to look at Ray without words distracting
him. Ray had been very dear to him in those moments, very dear and very
strong, glowing against a backdrop of nighttime ice-field, almost fire-bright
himself: an adventurer. His companion. His partner. 

But now, in the wake of reading what Ray in all probability had never
meant for him to see, Ray was even more dear, somehow; his fortitude
visible in a whole new way, even more impressive than before. And that
really should have been a *good* thing, except... 

Fraser sighed, loudly enough that Dief whined at him. 

Except that Ray had gone. And was still gone. And only now was Fraser
becoming aware of how much he'd lost, that day he'd waved good-bye until
Ray's departing flight was no more than a speck on the low horizon. 

Reading Ray's words had brought Ray closer, yes, for a moment. And the
surprising content of the journal entries had engendered... something...
a sentiment, a feeling wholly unconnected with (and much warmer than)
simple 'surprise' -- but now the words were read, and the discoveries
made, and Fraser found that he was not happy. He could only be overwhelmed
anew with how much distance lay between them, could only feel even farther

The exact opposite of what he'd been striving for in opening the book
in the first place. 

The extent to which he missed Ray had been so all-encompassing that,
for the first few days, he hadn't even been consciously aware of it.
At first he thought he might have contracted a low-grade virus of some
sort, or that perhaps his body had adapted to Chicago's urban environment,
and returning to the northern clime had exposed him to germs his immune
system could no longer combat. Either would have explained the fatigue,
the insomnia, the mood swings, the restless, jittery feelings. 

But there were never any substantive symptoms of illness. And so the
next most likely explanation was that his unrest stemmed from the fact
that he didn't know what to do with himself. He was, for the first time
he could remember, actually bored -- an unheard of, and vaguely shameful,

The RCMP central office had requested that he commence his next posting
with a clean slate, and so he had an extra month of leave left after
Ray went back to Chicago. He had decided to spend it in Tuktoyaktuk,
as much of a home as he'd ever had; an interim alternative while he made
his decision regarding which outpost he'd like to be transferred to.

Carte blanche, he'd been told. Wherever he'd like to go, that's where
they'd send him. An unusual offer; he knew that. An apology of sorts.
He knew that, too. 

So all was right with his world. He was home. He was back in the good
graces of the RCMP (at least for the moment), he had three more weeks
to spend however he liked, and he had the Canadian world as his oyster.
All he had to do was...choose. 

He should have been happy. He wasn't. Even in the very moment when he'd
received the RCMP's offer and carefully veiled apology, what had suffused
him was neither a righteous sense of justice done to the memory of his
father, nor a feeling of satisfaction in amends for his own sacrifices,
but an impression, somehow, of conclusion: a closed chapter of his life.

Yet another thing that had passed away from him. Something else to mourn.

And so he'd taken his leave and filled his days as best he could, and
tried not to pay too much attention to how he was constantly weary, and
irritated, and couldn't sleep more than thirty minutes at a time. He
hadn't known what was wrong with him, and he might never have figured
it out at all if he hadn't one day turned in the street to tell Ray something,
and Ray...wasn't there. 

He'd stood there with his mouth open, looking stupidly at the empty air
where Ray *wasn't*, feeling pieces click into place inside him. An unhappy
sort of epiphany, but an epiphany just the same. He missed something...someone...he
hadn't even realized he wanted. 

He wasn't sick. Yes, he was bored, but it was more than that.

He missed Ray. That was all. 

But that was enough.

And so tonight when he'd been exhausted from doing nothing but entirely
unable to sleep, Fraser had decided to go to the shed behind the cabin
he'd rented, and break down the gear he and Ray had used on their adventure.

The task should have been done as soon as they'd returned, but Ray had
left the next day, and Fraser had just put everything away, already feeling
that hum of exhaustion in his ears. In retrospect he was glad he'd done
so, even though it had been frightfully neglectful of him. It gave him
something to do, and a way to reconnect. A means, hopefully, to find
a way to move on. 

The shed had been cold, but that just woke him up a little, which didn't
seem like a bad thing. He'd made quick work of his own pack: a few articles
of clothing, an extra pair of mukluks, some rations, maps, flashlight
and batteries, waterproof matches, and the tool kit he'd vowed on the
Henry Allen to carry with him from that point on, and had. 

Ray's pack took longer. He remembered Ray handing it over with a grin
the morning he left, saying, "What do I need dehydrated peas for? I'm
calling Sandor on the way home from the airport." 

Fraser opened the pack and peered inside, and marveled at the mess. No
wonder the sled had felt so heavy. He removed a variety of items, none
of which were suited for the arctic environment, grimacing when he came
upon a half-eaten chocolate bar stuck in one corner. 

And at the bottom of the pack, wedged under one of the aluminum struts,
was a notebook. Small. Spiral-bound, black. Their weather diary. 

He'd thumbed through the pages, wondering how many different ways Ray
had found to say, "Cold today." 

Blue scribbles filled some pages, while only a line of text adorned others.
A couple of entries rambled on for pages, and Fraser saw his own name
flicker up at him from time to time. Any mention of the weather was apparently

Ray had kept a journal. Just like Dad had. And like his father, Ray had
left it for him. Given it to him, really; surely some small subconscious
part of him had to have known it was in the pack he deliberately handed

Fraser had pushed aside the empty pack, then leaned back against the
wall of the shed, opened the book, and begun to read. 

Dief huffed at him again, breaking his reverie. He looked down at the
small book. It couldn't hurt to read it again, could it? More carefully
this time? 

"Yes, it's past our bedtime. Again," he said, taking a handful of Dief's
ruff and shaking it lightly. "Come on, let's go." 

He sorted the gear quickly into piles for shipping, then tucked the notebook
in his pocket and retreated to the comparative warmth and comfort of
the cabin. 


Sleeplessness was customary now, and so the exhausted tossing and turning
process was intimately familiar to him. But tonight, this darker-than-usual
night after finding Ray's diary, the constant flow and chatter of his
thoughts was more absorbing, and yet more enervating than ever. He felt
bombarded with bright shards of memory, far too many to close his heavy
eyelids upon, and haunted with phrases, auditory echoes that he heard
in Ray's solitary voice, as if Ray were there, perhaps by the window
where the best light was, reading out loud to him, one line after another
of missed chances. 

One line after another, and oh, he was so tired, so very, very tired
and it was so *good* to hear Ray's voice and he wished, he wished he
could, because hearing Ray's voice would be -- 

*Skin. Like, two inches of it. Blue veins, white skin, pinked up from
the cold* 

He lifted his arm, looked at his wrist, then stroked two fingers down
the tendons, across the veins. Ray had found his wrist...arousing. 

He dropped his arm abruptly, feeling his pulse speed up. His eyes drifted
closed. God, he needed sleep, wanted it, wanted it, wanted... 

*Woke up rubbing him up.*

Voice and memory combined, that time: Ray's voice as it was when he was
rueful, or ever so slightly embarrassed, and memory, of waking to Ray
burrowed hard into him, almost under him, Ray (oh, Ray) arching in his
sleep and sighing, so gently. Voice and memory combined and that didn't
make him any more awake but now he was certainly a different sort of
sleepy, the sort of sleepy where he didn't think twice before dragging
his pillow down to his hips and rolling over on it. 

As he could have done back then, perhaps. If he'd known he wanted it.
If he'd been paying proper attention. He could have had that, had this,
had he known then what he knew now; could have had Ray aroused and happy
under him, could have been the sole inducement to those so-gentle sighs.
Ray would have sighed, he was sure of it. Ray would have moved with him,
against him, Ray would have moved like a perfect partner. 

He knew now. He knew, and wanted, and Ray... 

Ray. Ray. Ray. Ray. Ray -- it occurred to him, perhaps belatedly, that
thinking about this, about Ray like this, wasn't the sort of thing that
was likely to make missing Ray any more tolerable. But with a certain
sense of ironic parity he realized that in either case it was too late
-- too late to stop Ray from leaving, and entirely too late to stop himself
from pushing hard into his abused pillow and spilling out and shuddering,
Ray's name on his lips, Ray inside and outside and everywhere and all
around him-- 

And not really there at all. 


God, what a sucky way to start a day. Any day, but especially another
Day Without Fraser. He had seven of those under his belt now, all of
them shitty, and from the look of things, Day Eight was gonna be even

And had Welsh's office always been this hot? He breathed in deep -- coffee
and copy machine toner and somebody's nasty aftershave, and missed the
smells of Canada. And Fraser. Even Dief's funky, wolfy smell was better
than the 27th on a Friday morning. 

"You've got to be kidding." 

"No, Detective, I assure you, I'm not."

Oh, this wasn't good. Wasn't good at all.

He knew what the trouble was. Wasn't any big mystery. That woman, the
fancy dancy counselor chick he'd gone to when he and Stella split up,
she'd even had a name for it. They'd made him go cuz he'd kicked a few
people in the head, scared some folks, destroyed some public property.
He'd laughed in her face when she said it: "No shit, lady. I'm separated.
Of course I'm anxious." 

Then she'd tried to sell him on some other malarkey that basically implied
he'd still be breast-feeding if he could -- at least that's what it sounded
like -- and that pretty much took care of counseling. 

But the phrase lingered. Two words.

Separation anxiety.

Still, knowing what to call it didn't help much when it came to knowing
what to do about it. People were either with you, or they weren't. With
you in body, in spirit, or...not. And the tough thing about Fraser was
that he'd *been* there, right there with him, and now he just...wasn't.

Seven days in, and it just kept getting worse.

He'd been doing his part, showing up every day, moving papers from one
pile to another. That oughta be good enough some days, right? He was,
what was it, in a transitional period. Yeah, that was it. Remembering
how to move around without snowshoes, fourteen layers of clothes, forty
pounds of equipment. So how come he felt heavier not lighter? And why
couldn't Welsh just leave him alone, let him do it his own way? 

He could remember, back when he'd been freezing his ass off in the middle
of nowhere, fantasizing about everything that was waiting for him back
home: pizza, and hot showers, and streets to walk on that didn't slope
down into crevasses. Right. The hot showers had been pretty outstanding,
granted, but every time he thought about food all he could hear was Fraser
talking about the long-term preservation benefits of nuts and pemmican,
and boy, didn't he feel like a total idiot sitting in his dark apartment
eating peanut butter and beef jerky sandwiches... 

"Why pick on me? Why not somebody else for a change?" 

Yeah, the whine was new. He didn't much care for it, but he didn't seem
to have much control over it. Over anything, really. Flying blind, that's
what he'd been doing. Get up, go to work, eat, sleep, just like the ad
said. All of it sort of unreal, fuzzy. Nothing as clear, or as pure,
as the snowiest day up north. He could feel the city on his skin now,
like somehow he'd been peeled up there and now he was getting rolled
in a daily coating of Chicago grit. Weirdest goddamn sensation. 

Welsh's face was the clearest thing he'd seen in days, and still, looking
at him was like aiming at something when his glasses were dirty. Focus,
come on, focus. Big dealies going on here. 

"Kowalski, you've been twiddling your thumbs for a week now. I thought
you might actually appreciate the opportunity to, oh, I don't know, *work*
for a change?" 

Still a surprise, hearing that name and it not being attached to "Assistant
State's Attorney" at the front of it. Not much chance of hearing *that*
now, was there? Not even Mountie bat-ears could hear that all the way
from F.L.A. 

Nope, he was the only Kowalski game in town now.

Welsh's snide tone was surprisingly comforting. Familiar. People'd been
walking on eggshells around him since he got back, sure he'd go postal
over Stella hooking up with the Style Pig. Wasn't Stella he was mooning
over -- not like before, anyway, which was kind of funny when he thought
about it -- but she made a damn good excuse. 

"There's gotta be somebody better for the job, sir. Somebody, um, smart,"
he said. Chances weren't real good on talking himself out of this one,
sure, but that was no reason to just bend over and take it. 

Welsh snorted and crossed his hands over his chest. "It's not Harvard,
Detective. It's a community college in Glenview." 

"They don't have, whatsits, campus police?" 

"They have four security guards, two of whom are under suspicion themselves."

"If they've got a drug ladder going on, why not bring in one of their
own guys?" Seemed like a reasonable question. 

"The town has a force of nine officers. Nine, Detective," he said. "In
addition to which, one of the college administrators is an old friend,
who asked a favor. A favor, I might add, I was perfectly willing to grant."

Oh, now he was getting the real story. Old friends, favors. Same shit,
different day. Not sure how that added up to *him* going undercover in
the freakin' suburbs, but there you go. 

"I got any choice?" he asked.

"None whatsoever," Welsh replied succinctly. "Come on, Detective. Doesn't
a change of scenery sound good?" 

"I just got back from the Arctic, sir," he felt compelled to point out.

"Be that as it may, I think this will be good for you."

"Good for *you*," Ray muttered. Welsh pursed his lips at him, but let
it go. 

Damn. Undercover again. He wondered how often he could do that without
turning all Sybil. Hadn't been too hard with Fraser there, keeping it
real for him. This time he'd be all by his lonesome. 

All by his seriously lonesome.

Speaking of which...he'd have to get somebody to feed the turtle (again),
he had about eight loads of laundry to do, he'd have to figure out how
to get word to Fraser...Oh, shit. No, not really any reason to expect
that Fraser'd be looking for him. But still...just in case. 

"Um, when I get a new cell phone, can I give you the number, in case...anyone
calls?" he asked, stumbling over his words. 

"What happened to the old one?"

"Crevasse, stuck, squished, long story. So...that okay?"

That look on anyone else might have been sympathy, but Welsh managed
to hide it well. "I don't think she's going to call, Kowalski." 

She? She who? *Ohhh*.

"Well, still, you know, just in case anybody's looking for me," he mumbled.

"Not a problem, Detective," Welsh said. "Now, get out of my office. *Some*
of us have work to do." 


How was it possible that everything he had once longed for now no longer
seemed enough? How could he have so much of what he'd asked for -- his
good name, a home base, air and barren vistas and clear bright skies
-- and find it totally lacking? 

How could he feel so...empty?

Was he old enough for a mid-life crisis? Was he in love? Or was it just
worms? Frankly, none of the options appealed. 

Fraser reached the end of one street and turned down another, counting
his steps, searching out the indent of his own bootprint from the day
before. It took exactly 432 steps to get from his cabin to the RCMP office,
then it was another 628 to Miriam's almost-restaurant, where (for a small
donation to her Ohio State-bound son's college fund) he could get a sandwich
and a canteen-sized bowl of soup. He'd only been there a week, and he
had already established routines. 

He had little enough else to do. Dief stayed at his side most of the
time; worried about him, he supposed. Or else Dief was as bored as he
was. Dief hadn't had a month's leave since they'd teamed up, and he,
too, seemed restless and out of sorts. 

"Isn't this what we've been hoping for?" he asked. Dief cocked his head
and yipped once. 

"No, I didn't know it would be this way. How could I?" Honestly, he thought
Dief expected clairvoyance sometimes. 

Diefenbaker snuffled softly and bumped his leg. "Yes, Dief, I miss him,

Acknowledging it didn't help. Turning his mind to other things didn't
help. Nothing helped, not even being home -- the thing he'd desired most,
then found simply wasn't enough. 

He was home. He repeated the fact to himself multiple times a day, hoping
the doggedness of the message might overcome the inherent weakness of
the delivery. He was home, not just to a climate and landscape he recognized,
but to Tuktoyaktuk, whose streets he knew as well as the lines in the
palm of his hand. He could walk its perimeter in an hour, and in that
time see twenty faces he knew; older, plumper, some wreathed in lines,
others simply adult versions of faces he knew as a child. 

He was surrounded by people he knew, and he'd never felt more alone.

Despite the visible decline of native culture and the audible increase
in the number of snowmobiles, nothing much fundamental had changed in
Tuktoyaktuk in the time he'd been gone. There, in the corner store, he
could see shadow images of a much younger version of himself, stalwartly
trying to hold together a scout troop of three. If he closed his eyes
when he walked by the place where his grandmother had set up her small
traveling library, he could almost hear her voice, hushed and insistent;
the peremptory whisper as effective as a shout from anyone else. 

One more ghost.

During the long, hot summers in Chicago, he had sometimes dreamed of
being here, in the familiar, the known. He would lie at night in an undershirt
and boxer shorts, with Dief panting on the floor beside him, and he'd
remember how things were here, how they had always been, how they would
undoubtedly still be. If he closed his eyes and concentrated, he could
almost feel the cooler breeze, see the slant of midnight light, and it
had soothed him. 

He didn't find it soothing anymore. Instead the sameness of it felt sluggish,
mired, as if the world had left this place behind, and he'd moved on,
too, no longer capable of matching its sleepy rhythms, no longer able
to find contentment in its narrow borders. 

Now he lay on yet another cot, in another familiar cabin, set on a street
he could walk blind-folded without getting his boots muddy, and he longed
for more. It wasn't Tuktoyaktuk's fault. It still offered everything
he'd thought he wanted. 

The town hadn't changed.

He had.

Geography was no longer enough. Neither was the ritual comfort of the
RCMP. His father had had both of those. His father had spent his life
in the environment he loved, providing the duty he lived for, and then
he'd died. Alone. 

As Fraser himself might. Would, probably, if he stayed here. Here, where
he belonged. Here, at home. 

At least his father had found someone to love, had fathered not just
one child, but two. He had managed all that, but still, he'd lived a
solitary life, warmed only by satisfaction, not the body of a loved one.
Fraser had accomplished far less, and faced the same fate. A solitary
life. A solitary death. 

If he stayed. If? For the first time, it seemed a question worth asking.

His father was now gone. For good, it seemed, although he'd learned not
to take anything for granted. His mother was long gone. His grandparents,
too. A sister he barely knew followed her own duty, and his few true
friends were scattered across the continent like leaves blown from a
raked pile. 

And Ray...gone.

What a woefully short list of people to care about, who cared about him.

Fraser shook his head, clapping his mittened hands together with a dull
thud. Excellent, yes, by all means add self-pity to the heap. 

He picked up the pace, making the forty-five degree turn down toward
Tom Brirweaver's place, where Diefenbaker had made a lady friend on one
of their previous walks. No reason to deprive Dief of companionship.
No reason why they both had to suffer. He wasn't looking forward to explaining
why Dief only had three more weeks to spend in courtship. Although for
a wolf, three weeks was probably enough to cement a lifelong mate. 

Yes, three weeks should be plenty of time.

He stopped in the middle of the street. Dief barked at him, surprised
at the change in routine, he supposed. 

He still had three weeks of leave. Three weeks of unfettered, unscheduled
free time. Thirty years of duty remaining, and three weeks now with no
heavier responsibility than making sure he ate breakfast. 

The surge of energy that coursed through him startled him. A little bubble
of hope blended perfectly with incipient panic. What good could three
weeks do? What would the RCMP think if he took his holiday in...Chicago?
What would *Ray* think? Ray, who hadn't wanted to risk the friendship
they had with something more. Who had no desire for additional...tangling.
Ray, who had left without ever saying with word or deed how he felt.

All right, so the plan had some flaws. After all, it was perfectly possible
that Ray had succumbed to a mild form of Stockholm Syndrome, transferring
affection to the person who held his life in his hands. Or he could have
become mildly delusional from the cold. Or perhaps it was Fraser who
wasn't thinking clearly, responding to the erotic charge of Ray's journal
entries at the expense of his common sense. 

But the lines in Ray's journal that meant the most, that stayed with
him, burning through his mind and searing his heart night after night,
weren't the ones that implied sexual desire (although heaven only knew
what sort of penance he would have to perform to absolve himself of the
punishment done to his pillow in the past few days.) No, it was more
than the compulsion of his body; it was the echo he felt inside, deep
in his core, of the connection that Ray had written he felt, the sense
that they were supposed to stay together, to be together. 

Being together made everything better; being with Ray, being *with* him,
might fill the empty space that yawned inside. 

He knew it. As certain as the sun setting, as sure as geese fly south
for the winter, he *knew*. 

Now, of course, the trick would be to convince *Ray.*

"Kowalski." Short, to the point. The staff lounge, even deserted as it
was, wasn't the place for official business; the only kind he ever seemed
to conduct over his cell phone. 

"It's Welsh. You ever think about checking in? You've been out there,
what, four days? They on radio silence or something?" he heard through
the wonders of digital wireless. 

Great. Welsh in sarcastic mode. Just what he needed. Perfect.

"I got nothing. If I'd had something, believe me you'd have been the
first to know. And, sir, with all due respect, I want to know what it
was I did to make you do this to me," Ray said. "What terrible, awful
thing I did that this is what you do to me." 

"What's the matter, Detective?" Welsh sounded harassed. Well, fine. He
wasn't the only one. 

"I can't do this," he said. 

"You're *doing* it, Kowalski. I don't need any lip about it, either,"
Welsh said. "Come on, you like kids. How bad can it be?" 

"I *suck*," he snarled. "And they're not 'kids'. Ever hear of continuing
ed? Half of them are older than me; they call me 'Sonny,' for God's sake.
Get it? Sonny? *Ray*? The other half don't care about anything except
who's getting some off who and where their next beer's coming from. And
none of them listen to me, let alone talk to me. I'm a big old dead end.
And I have to wear a *tie*." 

Bitch, moan, complain. Four days' worth spit out in one big gush. If
Fraser'd been there, he could have doled it out a little every day, and
then he wouldn't have to be here copping a 'tude with his boss. Yeah,
he knew he could find a way to pin it on Fraser. 

A significant pause on the other end of the line told Ray his little
diatribe hadn't gone unnoticed, but all he got was a mild, "What are
you teaching? Auto Mechanics 101? Shop? VoEd for the New Millennium?"

He paused, trying to decide just how much this would cost him when he
got back in the swing of things at the 27th. "Creative writing." 

Ray held the phone away from his ear to let the shout of laughter disperse
to the universe, but his terse response sobered the Lieutenant with surprising

"Now, Detective, we don't need that sort of language," Welsh said. 

"Sorry, sir, just getting...creative."

"Save it for the classroom." He could still hear a smile in Welsh's voice.

"Yeah, yeah, okay. I'm in. Don't know what kind of college has its druggies
in the *English* department, but I'll keep my ears open. Just don't hold
your breath." 

"I expect to hear from you, news or no news, every forty-eight hours.
Is that clear?" 

Good old Welsh. You know, he put up a pretty crusty front, but underneath,
he was mush. Mush with butter. 

"Yeah, clear." Okay, how to ask. Just ask. Go on, couldn't hurt anything.
"Um, did I have any...I mean, anybody wonder where I went?" 

"I told everybody who needed to know, Detective. You've got a good strong

Wasn't what he'd asked, but he had the answer anyway. Nobody was looking
for him. Nobody'd missed him. 

Pretty much what he'd expected, but still, it stung a little.

He ended the call, then looked at the silent little phone. There it was
-- his only connection to the real world. Pretty sad, huh? 

Wasn't the first time he'd been alone, but somehow it felt different
this time. *More* alone than usual, or something. 

That first day in, that had been a rowser. Standing up in
front of a bunch of strangers, pretending to be someone he really wasn't,
to know things he really didn't. All by his stupid self up there, writing
his name in big scrawly letters on the board, wondering if the kid in
the front row could tell his hand wasn't exactly steady, wondering just
how long a fifty minute class could be... 

...and getting a weird little rush off the adrenaline, the total impossibility
of it. Standing there, balls to the wall, alone and hating it, and God,
it felt familiar... 

Something about it reminded him of his own time in school-- not college,
when he'd finally lost his Dad and gained a Stella, but back before then,
high school, back when everything seemed to be a big weird messy combination
of way too fast and way too slow, too little and too much, all at the
same time. Back when his life was so up and down, always up and down,
riding the coaster highs of sweet, perfect kisses and swiped beer, or
digging through the endless seconds of an hour-long eternity of detention.

He'd *hated* detention, which was too bad because he ended up spending
a hell of a lot of time there. The hardest thing about it, always, was
to sit still. The not talking thing, that was a cakewalk compared to
the sitting still thing. He didn't need to talk. He could think about
Stella. But Stella moved with music in his head and of course he moved
too, and his assigned desk rattled like crazy and the dickweed detention
hall monitor, Mr. Frickey, wouldn't let him swap, and so he had to sit
still. Or get more detention. 

And as it turned out, his desk rattled like that because somebody'd stuffed
a bunch of ball bearings into one of the legs, and he managed, over the
course of one eternal hour, to work one out, and after that he was never
in detention without it, that ball bearing, small and solid and packed
so smooth and flawless within itself-- cupped in his palm, pressed between
his fingers. His detention distraction, his shortcut to avoid the heebie-jeebies.

He'd press it *hard* between his fingers until everything went numb,
until his fingers looked blotchy and his muscles shook from the strain.
But when he finally let up and dropped the bearing, his finger would
have a perfect, round little divot in the center, like someone took a
miniature ice cream scoop and just dug out a bloodless chunk of him.

It was actually kinda cool looking, in that gross, teenage way. 

And then he would touch things-- his desk, his books, his own knee, whatever--
and every time get blown away by how *much* it felt like whatever it
was he was touching had a big old hole in it-- he could have *sworn*
that there was a hole, there had to be a hole, because that was *exactly*
what it felt like. Exactly. 

But eventually he'd take his finger away and look, and there it was,
his desk, his books, his whatever -- no hole there, no hole at all, there
never was. Never had been. 

An illusion. What he was touching, that was perfect. Perfectly smooth.
Perfectly intact. 

The hole was in *him*, all the time. 


Oddly enough, the first person Fraser saw was the last person Ray ever
mentioned to him: Sandor. The man quite literally ran into him just outside
the doors of the station, walking fast and grumbling in the direction
of his watch. Dief, of course, recognized him immediately, and gave a
hopeful whine. 

"Pardon me, Sandor, I'm terribly sorry." That was automatic, even though
Sandor was the one who'd run into him. He might have gone on (probably
would have, since he seemed to have less control over his verbalizations
when he was nervous, and it was silly to be nervous about this but, well,
he was, so...there you are), but before he could even open his mouth,
Sandor slapped him on the back so hard he lurched forward. 

"Hey, Fraser. Hey, wolf." Sandor didn't sound particularly surprised
to see them. He merely sounded heavily congested, much like he'd always
sounded. "Didn't expect to see you back here so soon. Tony, though, he
said you'd be back -- swears there's no decent pizza in Canada." 

Dief made a noise of resentful agreement, and it was impossible not to
smile at that, as erroneous as the sentiment might be. "Indeed. Well,
I must say that even I myself wasn't expecting--" 

"Hey, hold on," Sandor interrupted. "I almost forgot -- jeez, I can't
believe I almost... I mean... he woulda skinned me if..." Sandor drew
a fairly amazing stack of folded, crumpled papers from his pants pocket
and began to sort through them. Fraser waited patiently until Sandor
thrust one at him, with an occluded but triumphant, "There you go." 

Fraser blinked, and focused on the grease-spotted paper. "One large extra-sausage
caveman special with hot peppers on the side?" Sandor snatched the paper
out of his hand, flipped it over, and handed it back. A scribbled telephone
number -- one of the Chicago area codes, but an unfamiliar exchange.
That was all. "What is this?" 

"It's a telephone number," Sandor explained sagely. "Look, Fraser, I
really can't hang around and talk -- I was, like, late with Ray's pizza,
and he reamed me out so bad he threw off my whole schedule, here." 

"Oh, of course," he said instantly, stepping to the side. "It's good
to see you, Sandor. Oh, and thank you very much for..." he waved the
paper at Sandor's wide, retreating shoulders. "This." 

He watched Sandor hurry away while he folded the mysterious paper and
placed it in his hat for safekeeping, and at the same time kept his peripheral
vision trained on the faces entering and leaving the station, alert for
anyone he knew. 

But all the faces were unfamiliar, and not a single one of them was of
any help at all with the low, nervous flutter in his stomach that for
some strange reason brought to mind spawning salmon. Eventually Sandor
disappeared from view, and Fraser squared his shoulders, opened the police
station door, and bowed fifteen or twenty people past him until an elderly
woman tried to tip him a dollar, at which point he finally went inside.


His first feeling was shock: Ray had cut his hair brutally short. It
took a bit of the wind out of his sails, so his initial, hearty "Ray!"
was perhaps not quite so hearty. But Ray looked up anyway. 

Which led to the second feeling: *extreme* shock. Because unless Ray
had aged twenty years and gained thirty pounds and bleached his buzz-cut
hair white and had plastic surgery, that wasn't Ray sitting at Ray's
desk, although he did bear a striking resemblance to Ray's father. 

"Yeah?" The stranger asked casually, picking at a pizza slice.

The sense of deja vu was... preternatural. "Ray?" he said again, helplessly,
unable to articulate anything about the sinking feeling inside, about
how he couldn't, couldn't do this again, not again, no, not this time

"Ray. That's me. Can I help you?"

Fraser stood up straight. It was some consolation, at least, that he
hadn't been expected, that this stranger hadn't come running at him with
an enthusiastic cry of 'Fraser!' and a hug. That would have been simply
too much. "Let me guess," he answered, his voice harsher than he liked
it to be when talking to blameless parties, "Ray Kowalski, I presume?"

The man shook his head abruptly. "Nope. Ray Schumacher, I just transferred
in from Detroit PD. Kowalski, he's--" 

The man (Detective Schumacher, presumably), cut off abruptly and stared
at him a moment, and then at Diefenbaker, blinking. "Wait a minute. You're
that Fraser guy, that Mountie guy, right?" 

"Yes. Yes, I am. I was hoping to locate --"

"Wait a minute," Detective Schumacher repeated, scanning the wall next
to his desk, which Fraser now noticed was quite covered with an astonishing
assortment of notes, all of them bright orange. "Yeah, here we go." The
man peeled off one note and handed it to him, a creased, folded note
with a now-familiar telephone number written on it, somewhat blurred
due to a brown stain that seemed to be... indeed... that tasted plainly
of one of Francesca's excellent cafe lattes. 

Detective Schumacher was frowning at him. "Yeah, you're that Fraser guy,
all right." 

Fraser placed the note likewise into his hat, and nodded. "Thank you
kindly, Detective." He walked away from the desk toward Lieutenant Welsh's
office, waving a come-along to Diefenbaker before he took it upon himself
to discover where Detective Schumacher kept his snack drawer. 


By the end of the day, Fraser had collected five post-it notes (three
yellow, one orange, one pink); one page torn from a memo pad; a cocktail
napkin from some establishment called The Groove Thing which had been
written upon with bright red lipstick; one pizza receipt; a racing track
bettor's form; and a sheet of instructions on the proper method of tatting
an Irish lace doily -- all of which had the same phone number on them.

Ray's landlady had given him the racing form. The doily was Turnbull's
contribution, which somehow seemed fitting. Diefenbaker had certainly
appeared to find it amusingly apt. 

Of course, Lieutenant Welsh had been able to provide him with much more
than a telephone number -- specifically, an address, which he'd noted
gratefully on his own pad, and also, most importantly, an explanation.
A conjunction which managed to dispel the dark ball of dread that had
begun to sink into his stomach, and impelled him right back into that
spawning-salmon feeling. Which, by comparison, was infinitely preferable.

So no, he hadn't *needed* to go any further than Lieutenant Welsh, hadn't
needed to seek out any other acquaintances-in-common in order to have
all the necessary information. 

He hadn't needed to, but he'd done it anyway. Because Ray had taken the
time to put such a system in place, because Ray had gone to the trouble.
For him. 


Several of the people he'd talked to had spoken of Stella, about how
Ray just hadn't been the same since he came back, and of course it must
be because of Stella, the future Stella Kowalski-Vecchio. The notes could,
indeed, have been for Stella -- goodness knows there was no way that
Ray could have expected him to come calling. But still, something, perhaps
one of Ray's 'hunches' that lingered in the vicinity of all his familiar
haunts even though the man himself was far away, suggested that it was

And he couldn't for the life of him, despite spending considerable time
on the matter, convince himself that Ray had ever expected Stella to
contact *Turnbull* in order to locate him. Such an eventuality did more
than strain logic; it confounded reason. 

In the space left there, where Ray's surprising thoroughness met Fraser's
innate meticulous attention to detail, hope bloomed. 

So collecting the notes had been in part a tribute, in part an investigation,
and, he had to admit, in some part, a delaying tactic. Because now that
he knew what he knew, there was nothing else for it but to... well, to
finish his own personal quest. 

To go to Ray. And to learn, perhaps, whether or not Ray's hunches worked
for both of them. 

To learn what worked for them both.


Fridays used to be good. Fridays used to mean two days of nothing to
do, nowhere to be, nobody to answer to. Well, okay, that wasn't what
it meant while he was married, but he wasn't married anymore, so his
weekends should have been...his. 

But no. He'd spent Friday night at the library. He'd spent Tuesday and
Wednesday nights there, too, and by Thursday, the librarian was calling
him by name and intercepting him at the reference desk with handouts
and copies of articles and complimenting his 'admirable academic interest'
in the art of creative writing. 

Right. Write. Not write.

He wasn't getting anywhere. Forget the case; he could barely get his
students to put pen to paper. And, yeah, 'forget the case' wasn't going
to win him any bonus points with Welsh, but he couldn't figure out a
way to put any major amount of effort into it when he was all tensed
up, waiting for someone to yell 'fraud!' at the end of every class. 

He'd found one book he thought had real potential. 'Writing Down the
Bones,' it was called. All this timed stuff, using your river of consciousness,
or whatever they called it. Thing was, not to lift your pen off the paper
for the whole time -- twenty minutes straight writing about a painting
or a poem or an idea. But his students, those shining examples of the
Ritalin Nation, had looked at him like he'd lost his mind when he suggested
it. So, fine, how about ten minutes? he'd asked. No? Five? They acted
like he'd asked them to pull off their skin instead of write down their

So now what? He was running out of reference books. At least that one
had seemed easy. Everything else used way bigger words and asked way
too much -- not of the students, but of him. Wasn't like he was switching
professions, you know? He just needed something to get him through. 

He'd even tried thinking about what Fraser would do, but he couldn't
imagine Fraser ever finding himself in this kind of pickle, and anyway,
he'd probably be a really good teacher. He knew everything, for a start,
and he had a way of making even little accomplishments seem like big
deals without ever sounding like he was praising a toddler for going
in the potty. 

Students'd probably be all over that. Yeah, Fraser could probably teach
creative writing with one eye shut. So thinking about how he would do
it wasn't much help, except that thinking about Fraser was always better
than thinking about most other things, even now, even though it was even
dumber than it was before, and it had always been pretty dumb. 

But thinking about Fraser wasn't getting the work done.

The librarian had taken pity on him at closing time the night before,
sending him home with two of her precious "library only" reference books,
suggesting he get a good night's sleep and telling him things would look
better tomorrow. 

Well, tomorrow was today and it looked like shit. He looked like shit.
He'd been half asleep when he shaved, so he had patchy bits of fuzz here
and there. His boxer shorts and undershirt had seen better days, and
he really needed to do laundry, but the possibility of running into any
of his students at the Suds-n-Duds seemed too awful to risk; the potential
of talking to one of them outside of class totally overwhelmed by the
dread of any of them seeing what passed for pajamas in his world. 

Some things were sacred.

Like ratty boxers. And weekends. 

He sighed, scratched his hair, thinking idly how weird it felt when it
wasn't up. Hell, even his hair was depressed. 

When the knock came, he decided he'd wished it into being, since nobody'd
missed him, and Welsh wasn't likely to appear at his door at 9:00 AM
on a Saturday, and even less likely to appear at what wasn't really his
door, since he was borrowing the digs, just like he was borrowing the

But thinking he'd wished the knock had nothing on the shock of opening
the door and seeing Fraser standing there. Out of uniform, holding a
knapsack, Dief sitting at his side; standing there on the stoop of somebody
else's house with a little half-smile on his face, like he wasn't quite
sure he was where he was supposed to be. 

"Hello, Ray," he said, like he'd seen Ray just the night before. "I hope
I didn't wake you." 

Whoa. None of the previous week had seemed entirely real, but none of
it had seemed as *unreal* as conjuring up Fraser out of nothing. So Ray
reached out and poked him. Hard. Right in the center of his chest. 

Fraser looked down at Ray's finger, then back up. "Perhaps I should have

That broke the spell. Fraser shouldn't have to call ahead. Fraser was...Fraser.
His partner. His buddy. Buddies didn't have to make appointments. If
they wanted to drop in from North Buttfuck on a whim, who was he to complain?

He stepped back, gesturing for Fraser to come in. For some reason, he
couldn't feel the floor under his feet at all. He had to force himself
not to look down, not to check and see if he was really floating. 

Fraser stepped inside, with Dief right behind him, but stopped short
in the foyer, looking around. Dief immediately wandered off, and Ray
spared a fleeting thought to the fact that if Dief was expecting to find
unguarded Chinese take-out cartons on the floor *here*, he was in for
one big wolf-sized disappointment. 

"Got my message, huh?" Ray asked, impressed with how normal his voice
sounded, under the circumstances. But of course Fraser'd got his message
-- had to have, unless he'd tracked him, which, knowing Fraser, wasn't
entirely impossible to imagine. 

The smile Fraser turned on him then was all different, not the polite
one he'd thrown out on the stoop. This one was warm, and full, and it
made Ray feel like that, too. Warm. Full. Oooh. Been a while since he'd
felt that way. 

"All of them," Fraser said. "I believe I got them all."

"Uh, good. That's good." Ray stuttered a little, still off-kilter from
that smile. 

Real. Not real. Fraser wasn't supposed to be here. Of course, neither
was *he*. But he was here, and...he was Fraser, tall and
sturdy and utterly out of place in the stuffy foyer. 

"Come on in," he said, leading the way into the study. Books and papers
littered the desk, the floor, the coffee table and two of the three chairs.
He cleaned off one seat, then waved Fraser into it. 

"Whose house is this, Ray?" Fraser asked. "I was expecting something..."

"Like my place? Yeah, I know. I've got a bull/china shop thing going
on; afraid I'll break something," Ray said. "I think Welsh said it belongs
to one of the deans. He's on some kinda leave, religious vacation or

"A sabbatical?"

"Yeah, that's it. Jewish, I guess."

Fraser opened his mouth, then closed it again. "It's very nice," he finally

"Yeah. Hey, you want anything? Breakfast or anything?" 

"No, thank you, we ate earlier," Fraser said.

Earlier. Only Fraser had an 'earlier' than this on a Saturday morning.
But there, he'd done the host thing. Sort of. Good enough. Time to figure
out what the hell was going on. 

"Fraser, what're you doing here?"

While he watched, Fraser turned a little pink and cracked his neck. "I
still have more than two weeks of leave left, and I thought, well, that
is, I decided I had plenty of time to spend at...up north...and--" 

"You're spending your vacation in *Chicago*?" Excuse the disbelief, here,
but he'd seen the look on Fraser's face in the middle of that snow field.
Wasn't exactly the look of a guy who'd head south a couple weeks later.

"Yes," Fraser said simply.

Before Ray could figure out what he was supposed to ask to get the kind
of answer that was an answer and not just whatever that was Fraser'd
just said, he got the tables turned on him. 

Fraser gestured to the piles of papers and books and asked, "What are
*you* doing?" 

Ray followed his glance. Looked pretty sad, he had to admit. "Remembering
why I dropped out of college." 

Fraser raised his eyebrow and tilted his head. God, he'd missed that.
Fraser's undivided attention. Fraser's brain, working on something. Fraser...he'd
really missed Fraser. 

"Welsh tell you what I'm doing here?" he asked. 

"Only that a student or students appear to be connected to a larger drug
issue, and you're here to see if you can identify those students, without
drawing undue attention to the fact that the college has a drug problem,"
Fraser said. "I'm afraid I didn't wait for additional details." 

That almost sounded like the guy'd been anxious to see him. Ray squelched
the fizzle of happiness that tried to bubble up inside. Could have been
a lot of reasons Fraser came back. Didn't matter anyway. Didn't matter
what had brought him. He was *here*. In the flesh. Helping already, just
sitting there, and who knew what good ideas he might have once he heard
the whole sorry story. 

Ray handed Fraser one of the reference books from the floor, took a deep
breath, and spilled. 

"Okay, here's the deal. They've got me substitute teaching a course --
creative writing, if that's not good for a laugh and a half -- three
sections of it, so I'm screwed in triplicate. I don't know what the hell
I'm doing, and even if I *could* figure out what I'm doing, that's only
half the problem. The thing is, they're never gonna trust a teacher with
this. It's not like I'm making buddies in there. In fact, I'm not even
*supposed* to be buddies. They got rules. Policies. All that shit. No
hanky-panky, no beers after class, none of that." 

Fraser nodded. "I imagine fraternization would be frowned upon."

"Uh, yeah." Just like cops weren't supposed to... "So to boil it down
to a nutshell, we got a month left until graduation, the Powers That
Be want the thing resolved by then, and I'm not getting anywhere. Went
about this whole thing wrong. I mean, come on, you really see me being
a teacher?" 

Hearing it out loud made it sound even more impossible, but Fraser was
already nodding again. 


There was that word again. Damn, he made it sound good.


"Yes, Ray, I can see you as a teacher," Fraser said, and he sounded pretty
darn sure of himself. "You coached Levon, didn't you? What's that if
not teaching?" 

He had to see the difference; he was just trying to make Ray feel better.
"That's different." 

"No, it isn't." 

Wow, that was almost...insistent.

"I know how to box, Fraser; some anyway. I don't know anything about
writing," he said. 

There was an odd little pause, then Fraser put the textbook down, stood,
and said, "Yes, you do." 

And again with the yes thing, with the confidence, but Ray knew he was
a fraud; just had to get Fraser to admit it, then they could start hatching
the Plan B he was sure Fraser had in his back pocket. 

Back pocket. Fraser was reaching in his back pocket, pulling something
out. What? A picture? His wallet? Holding it out, some little black thing
with a spiral... 

Oh, *shit*.


Fraser had imagined a dozen scenarios that might lead to the revelation
that he'd read Ray's private musings, that he'd absorbed Ray's interior
barometer, each line written on his heart. It seemed a critical step,
a necessary confession -- openness offered in hope of receiving the same.
Never had he dreamed an opportunity would be, literally, handed to him.

Fortuitous didn't begin to describe it.

Miraculous came closer.

But it didn't appear that Ray shared his delight. Fraser had expected
to see Ray flush -- as he himself had when he first read the scribbled
pages, but instead, he watched the blood drain from Ray's face, leaving
him pale, the only color in his face the bright blue of his eyes and
the sharpened shadow of his stubble. 

He knew it wasn't Ray's writing skills that caused the reaction, but
that seemed a logical place to start. 

"You write well, Ray. There's an energy to it, an immediacy," Fraser
said, taking one step toward Ray, who stood and backed up one matching
step. "You express yourself...very well." 

Ray backed up another step, tripping over a footstool laden with stacks
of paper. 

", you read that?" Ray whispered.

Fraser took one more step -- toward, not away from.

"I memorized it."

Ray halted his retreat and stood, suspended, not moving, not even blinking.

"Because there's 'nothing good about this not-being-together crap. Hate
that. Hate it.'" 

So strange, to hear Ray's words in his own voice. Strange, but perhaps
symbolically apt. 

Now Ray's eyes did blink, and, finally, a tide of red started to steal
up from under the thin cloth of his undershirt, spreading across his
shoulders and neck, washing into his face. 

"You weren't supposed to see that," Ray protested, his voice cracking.

"Then why did you leave it for me to find?" Fraser asked mildly.

"I didn't. I *didn't*. I mean, no, I..." A vehement denial. And yet...

Fraser held the book up. Hard to deny the physical evidence. He took
another step closer. Ray had run out of room, backed into an olive-colored
wall, trapped between a painting on one side, and the mantel on the other.
Now Fraser stood close enough to see the rapid pulse in the base of Ray's
neck, the unconscious clench of his fists at his sides as Fraser leaned

"You wrote it," Fraser said, placing the notebook on the mantel beside
Ray's head. Start with what couldn't be denied, and move on from there.

Ray closed his eyes. "Fraser, what are you...? We can't--"

"Why not?" It wasn't their first touch; no, they had touched often. But
the hand Fraser reached out, placed on Ray's shoulder, was a first of
sorts. It was the first time his touch provoked a moan. He prayed it
wouldn't be the last. 

"We can't," Ray said again, sounding desperate, breathing hard. "Come
on, Fraser, we're like a fish and a bird." 

A fish and a bird. Yes, he was a salmon straining upstream, instinctively
seeking his destiny. And Ray was wary, ready to take flight. But there
was no denying the spark between them, not now, not when they were this

"You wrote it," he repeated. "Do you still feel that way? Do you?" 

Ray shook his head, but his hand came up, lighted on Fraser's chest.

Contact. Connection. Fraser felt heat begin to burn low in his stomach.

He leaned in, sliding his hand around the back of Ray's neck. "Do you?"

The hand on his chest grabbed a fistful of shirt. "I...okay, yeah. Yeah."

Fraser let his relief propel him the rest of the way, his mouth finding
Ray's, homing in there on lips that had opened for a breath, taking the
gasp that Ray puffed into his mouth. 

Ray's mouth worked against his, the hand fisting his shirt twisted, pulled,
then Ray melted into him, opening his mouth wide, and dropped back against
the wall, drawing Fraser down with him. 

And so there he was, with his arms full of pliant Ray, having achieved
the goal he'd set out for, and he had only the vaguest idea what to do
with him. He'd always imagined them naked, prone, in the dark. Standing
Ray up against a wall in the light of a Saturday morning flummoxed him.

Now what?

Ray had sounded, in his journal, as if it wasn't the idea of attraction
to a man that struck him as wrong -- it was his attraction to *Fraser*.
Ray had stated his reasons quite clearly; valid enough reasons, he supposed.
Reasons Fraser still intended to tear away one by one, until Ray lost
interest in reason, in excuses. 

Perhaps simply keeping his mouth on Ray's...forever...would do the trick
of keeping him in one place. Kissing was good. Kissing was...wonderful.
Ray's mouth was wet and hot, his tongue an agile muscle stretching to
meet his own. 

It seemed plausible, given what he'd written, that Ray had some experience
with this, this experience that was all new to Fraser. It wasn't so much
the mechanics that confounded him; he was simply out of practice, and
unprepared for the flare of heat slowly dissolving him. The reality of
Ray, the solidness of skin and bone, the softness of hair under his fingertips,
of lips against his, was so much *more* than he'd ever imagined in his
lonely cot, so much *better* than his battered, unresponsive pillow.

Ray was not in any way unresponsive. In fact, he was *so* responsive
that Fraser was having a hard time hanging onto him. Every time he tried
to pull Ray's undershirt over his head, Ray slipped from his grasp, his
own hands finding some part of Fraser's back or shoulders or neck and
touching him in ways that made thinking difficult and coordinated movement
virtually impossible. 

He felt...awkward. Too forceful, too rough. Only his mouth seemed to
communicate his want appropriately; kisses blending, deepening, until
he breathed Ray's air, and Ray breathed his, until his heartbeat shook
in his chest, until the pressure in his groin demanded equal pressure
to meet it, and he rocked his hips sharply into Ray, thrusting hard against

Too hard. Ray yelped into his mouth, the hands that had been stroking
across his back now moving to his sides, easing him back. 

"I'm sorry, I'm sorry," Fraser moaned.

"You got any idea what you're doing?" Ray asked, panting against his

"None at all," Fraser admitted. "At least, this."

Ray groaned. "Fraser, this is, oh God, this is a terrible idea."

"No, no, it isn't," he said, sliding his mouth down to Ray's jaw, biting
down softly. "You know what *you're* doing, right?" 

Ray dropped his head back, exposing his neck to Fraser's mouth. "Fraser,
that's not the point. We can't. You don't even know--" 

"Teach me," Fraser murmured, licking his way up to Ray's ear. 

Another groan, and Ray's hands clenched hard into his sides. "Wha..."

Good, yes. Incoherent worked. "Teach me."



Think. He couldn't think. Couldn't breathe, couldn't do much of anything
except squirm under the enthusiastic untutored tongue making intimate
with his ear and wonder what the fuck he'd do when Fraser got *good*
at it, cuz even using the finesse of a thirteen-year-old on his first
stint at "five minutes in the closet", Fraser wasn't having any trouble
at all getting him worked up. 

Fraser, licking his ear, whispering things to him. Fraser, *here*, which
was enough of a shock already without him suddenly turning into Sex In
The City. And God, did Fraser have any idea what that breathy little
'teach me' did to him? 

Fraser reading the damn journal was bad enough without him creeping into
Superhot Fantasy #139, the one where The Innocent Mountie hit up The
Man About Town for some love lessons. He'd hidden that fantasy pretty
good, he thought. Smothered it down there with the one featuring Dr.
Fraser and Ray as the Helpless Patient; crushed it right beside the one
where Fraser watched admiringly while he performed the perfect lube job.
And you know the sad thing about that one? It was about the *car*. 

But fantasy was one thing, and this was, *God*, this was something entirely

He cocked his head, pulling his ear out of Fraser's mouth. "Slow down,
Fraser. Back up." 

Immediately, Fraser's grip loosened and he took two steps back. Wow.
Fraser'd never minded him that good when they were working together.
Maybe there was something to that teacher/student thing. He bet Fraser
was a great student. He bet Fraser followed directions, listened closely,
played well with others... 

...and *damn* Fraser looked good all messy and hot. Made his knees go
weak. Weaker. Whatever. 

"I didn't mean back up," he said, his body swaying toward Fraser's, leaning
in again. "I meant whoa, time out, let's talk about this," he said. 

"Ah." Fraser paused to poke his tongue into the corner of his mouth.
Oh, *man*. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean--" 

"Don't apologize, Fraser," Ray said. "It's just, it's kind of a shock,
you know?" 

Fraser nodded. "It was to me as well, Ray."

Oh, yeah. He bet that was an understatement. He took a breath. A little
easier to breathe without Fraser plastered to him. 

"Let's start over. What are you doing here?" he asked. "And don't give
me that baloney about two weeks' leave, cuz I'm not buying it. Thought
you were dying to get back to the Great White North?" 

Fraser took a matching deep breath. "Well, it all started when I thought
I was ill." 

Incredible, the kick to the stomach that thought brought. "Thought? Were
you or weren't you?" 

"I wasn't. I had thought I might be. I couldn't sleep, I wasn't hungry,
I was tired all the time," Fraser said, lifting one hand from behind
Ray's back and ticking off the symptoms one by one. 

Now *that* was a familiar tune.

"Eventually, I realized the problem was that...I missed you," Fraser
said. "Then I found your journal, and--" 

"Wait. Wait a sec. You figured out you missed me, and *then* you found
the journal?" Had to be the other way around. 

"That's right," Fraser nodded.

"You missed me first." Gotta make sure.


What difference did it make? But it did. It meant it wasn't just some
weird horny Fraser surfacing for the first time, like, ever. Although,
now that he thought it through, it really just made it worse. It was
one thing to think Fraser'd come eight hundred miles due south for...what...a
few rounds of groping?...but to think that it was because Fraser *missed*
him. Him. Ray. Kowalski. 

One-sided fantasy was bad enough. Two-sided reality...sucked.

Because Fraser was Canadian. And a Mountie. And Canadian Mounties belonged
in Canada, doing Canadian Mountie things, not hoofing it to the 'burbs
of Chicago for extended recon. Fraser wasn't cut out to be an urban guy
-- not long term. And three weeks of being ballast had proved that Ray
wasn't really rural material. So, yeah, fish and bird. Doesn't matter
how well they get along -- where are they going to live? 

Fraser would still be going home. Ray would still be staying.

Nothing had changed.

Except everything. Because Fraser's hands were still moving on him --
uncoordinated, eager -- and his own were all over Fraser, like he couldn't
help himself, cuz he...couldn't. 

He knew better than to do this. *Knew* better. But the knowing parts
were losing out, big time, to the wanting parts. The parts that told
him to get everything he could, store it up in his cheeks like a squirrel,
put some away for a rainy day. He had plenty of time to be without Fraser;
what was wrong with enjoying the time he had? 

Well, except for the fact that two weeks *was* all he had, and if he
didn't watch himself, if he didn't make up some basic rules and stick
to them like wolf hair to cheap upholstery, he was gonna be one sorry
bastard two weeks and one day from now. Sorrier than he already was.

He couldn't do that, not again. No way. So he'd just have to do the other
thing -- lay down some rules, and stick to them. He'd just keep it...simple.
Nothing wrong with showing Fraser a move or two. The simple, non-involved
kind of moves, anyway; kissing and groping and stuff -- that couldn't
do *too* much damage, right? So Fraser was curious. And he'd missed Ray.
Liked him. He'd come all this way. 

So yeah, rules. Right. His last remaining tidbit of self-preservation
finally won a point. He was in deep enough as it was. They'd keep it
light, fun. Fraser was on vacation, he deserved a little fun. Ray could
keep it steady. Sure he could. He could keep it together making out with
a Mountie. No sweat. 

Of course, it would be a little... frustrating, but hey, he knew how
to deal with that, and besides, if he had anything to say about it, Fraser
would be nice and frustrated and needing to deal with it himself. Abruptly
Ray decided to give Fraser the bed in the first guest bedroom -- the
one that had squeaked so bad his first night that he'd bagged it for
the smaller room across the hall. Oh yeah... 

"I, um, I missed you, too," he blurted out, realizing Fraser'd made kind
of a big confession there, and Ray'd mostly just been staring at him
like a doof. 

He had to close his eyes against the smile Fraser gave him then. Could've
blinded him, that smile. Could have taken his steady, simple plan and
torpedoed it before he even had a chance to test it out. 

"I know," he heard Fraser say, close now, close as before. Against his
chest he could feel the brush of Fraser's shirt, then the heat of his
body. There, and lower down. Fraser kept coming, pressing in, pressing
up. A little shuffling got his legs in the right place -- solidly planted
on either side of Ray's. Yeah, Fraser took direction *real* well. 

"You were quite eloquent, Ray," Fraser said. "You followed the first
rule of writing -- write what you know." 

Ray opened his eyes. That was a rule he hadn't come across in any of
the too many books he'd read. There it was, a golden rule that actually
made some sense, and it took a lusty Mountie to come up with it. 

"Maybe I could try *that* on my classes," he mused. "What was it again?"

"Write what you know," Fraser said, leaning in to lick his ear again.
"What you see. What you...feel." 

The last phrase, whispered against the ridiculously sensitive skin behind
his ear, turned him on so bad he almost lost his train of thought. But
damn that cop part just never completely turned off, and so he found
himself clutching Fraser and reaching for the elusive thread of coherent
thought at the same time. 

"Yeah, okay, worth a try, but...but...oh yeah, Fraser, right there, just
like that," he whimpered. "But even if that works, it still only solves
half my problem. They're still never gonna open up to me, unless one
of them writes it all down and hands it in." 

Fraser bumped him softly, then again. "Because you're their teacher?"

"Yeah," Ray said.

"Would they open up to a fellow student?" Fraser asked, bringing his
hands up and tilting Ray's head to get better access to his throat. 

"Maybe, but it's a little late for that. No way could I switch gears
now," Ray said, amazed that he could still put whole sentences together
with six feet of Mountie rubbing against him. Rubbing nice, now, not
too hard, not too soft, just, mmmmm, right. 

"I could be your student," Fraser whispered softly into his ear.

"Yeah, yeah, thought we covered that, and can you please do that tongue
thing some more? I think you're starting to get the hang of it." 

"I meant in a more literal sense, Ray. I could go undercover as a student
in your class." 

Ray pulled back, holding Fraser away from him. "Fraser, you'd stick out
like a sore thumb." 

The guy actually looked hurt, like he'd never thought about how he looked
better than everybody else -- cleaner and better and smarter. 

"I can assume some sort of camouflage," Fraser said. "I'm not entirely
without resources. And I *do* have experience as a student." 

Unlike *him* being a teacher, Ray filled in. Well, hell, it might work.
Probably wouldn't do them any harm, though he still couldn't quite picture
Fraser working his way in with the Eminem groupies. Still, it was worth
a try. 

"You really want to spend your vacation working a case?" he asked. 

"I really do," Fraser answered, sliding his hands a little further down
Ray's back, until it didn't even really count as back anymore. No, he'd
have to say Fraser was feeling up his ass now. Wow. 

Fraser's nostrils flared. Fraser was sniffing him, and God, even that
was hot, zinged right through him, but he hadn't had a shower yet, and
he'd slept in those clothes, and...and Fraser's eyes got a little bit
wider, and he made some sound that wasn't quite a growl, but wasn't far
from it, either, so maybe all that was okay. The upside of making out
with a freak. 

He wrapped his arms around Fraser's back and tugged him closer, nudging
his head to the side to get at one of those pink, squeaky-clean ears,
a licking tease up and around and then in, just your basic tongue-in-earfuck
technique, but Fraser gasped and pushed against him in a way that suggested
maybe basic was just the thing, then mirrored the motion immediately.
Oh, yeah, they were gonna have some fun. 

"I still can't believe you read it," Ray muttered before turning his
tongue's attention to the tendon at the side of Fraser's throat. He sighed
as Fraser found the same spot on his own neck and targeted it. 

"You must admit, Ray, that I had no way of knowing you would be writing
anything of a personal nature," Fraser said against his skin. Made even
Mountie-ese sound sexy. 

"Yeah, I know," Ray admitted. "It was a dumb thing to do."

Fraser paused, stilling for a minute against him. "No, Ray. I'm sure
it was a welcome release. I do wonder, though...why didn't you ever say

Why? Fraser wanted to know *why*? 

"Because I still think this is a terrible idea."


Whatever the fuck that meant. 

Terrible, terrible, terribly tempting. God, the guy was a walking, breathing,
rubbing, sniffing...holy cow...fondling temptation. 

And the thing about teaching was you just couldn't let the teachees get
the upper hand. One week had shown him that in class; only took one minute
with Fraser. 

So he tugged Fraser's hand out of the back of his boxers, gave himself
a little breathing room, and shook himself like Dief coming out of a

"There's stuff we can do, and then there's stuff we *can't* do," he said
sternly, wagging a finger under Fraser's nose. 

Fraser's eyebrows said he wasn't entirely with the program, and damn
if it didn't look like he was gonna argue about it, so Ray held up all
five fingers -- 'stop' in any language. 

"Okay? Some stuff yes, some stuff no, and you gotta trust me to know
the difference," he said. "That's the deal." 

Fraser nodded, but those eyebrows still looked pretty skeptical. "If
you say so, Ray," he finally said. 

Oh, yeah, Ray'd heard that tone before. It was the same one that said,
"My dog ate my homework." 

Possibly the only double bill ever of smart-ass suburban kids and Mounties,
and it had to be on his watch. 



Truth be told, Fraser had never thought of himself as the kind of person
who was averse to hardship. Throughout his life he had gone without.
He had persevered despite all kinds of obstacles, both internal and external,
and he had taught himself to enjoy the simple rewards of asceticism.

Nevertheless, his long years of fortitude and self-denial obviously hadn't
sufficiently prepared him for *this*. 

For Ray. For Ray, giving him so much with every kiss, every caress, and
yet somehow withholding...everything. It was what he'd come for, yes,
it was what he wanted, but it was only the most fleeting taste of the
meal he'd hoped for, and in a way it just left him hungrier than ever.

Fraser turned over gingerly, in deference to the bed, which was outrageously
noisy, and to Diefenbaker, who seemed to feel that, with all this extra
space available, he should be awarded the lion's share of it. No need
to wake Ray with his tossing and turning -- even though their rooms were
on opposite sides of the hall, he could often hear Ray mumbling in his
sleep; obviously the man needed his rest. 

It seemed utterly unfair that he'd come all this way and yet still spent
each night in a restless daze, fighting not just imagination now, but
memory, and worse, the stark reality of Ray's proximity. No longer out
of sight, out of reach, out of touch. No, Ray was all too close. 

Fraser took his too-puffy pillow and pressed its smooth coolness firmly
over his hot face, trying to put the thought out of his mind. The thought
of Ray right across the hall, sprawled and loose-limbed, warm and possibly
naked and smelling like Ray-at-rest: deeply layered Ray scent, cotton,
and (more often than not these days), a lingering trace of chalk. 

Terrible, what the smell of chalk on Ray's skin did to him. Absolutely
disgraceful. Worse than Diefenbaker at a confectionery. 

The persistent chalky scent carried with it thoughts of the classroom,
of notebooks and the quiet scratching of pens and pencils, which at other
times in his life might have quelled his carnal imagination, but now
simply fed it. 

Ray was a very good teacher. In class and out. 

He'd only been a student in Ray's class for a few days, but already,
he could see that. 

On Fraser's first day (auditing, he'd explained to the young woman behind
him, who introduced herself as Mandy and wanted to know where he'd been
all her life. He hadn't been able to give her a complete answer before
Ray arrived, but at least the pertinent information had been imparted),
Ray had walked in with an armful of exam notebooks, small pale blue books
with lined paper, and handed one to every student. 

Over the room-wide groan of discontent, he'd said, "Not a test. Cool
your jets." 

Then he'd written what he now referred to as 'The Golden Rules' on the
chalkboard -- big bold letters, strong slant to the right -- pointed
to them, and said, "Write what you know. Write what you see. Write what
you feel. When you fill one book up, come get another. Don't waste 'em;
they cost me 14 cents each." 

The class had tittered, but as Fraser watched the motley crew of students,
a little light came on here and there. Even Bruce, a young man who'd
challenged his selection of desk on arrival and seemed to be referred
to universally as "Bruise", had nodded. On a few desks, paperbacks and
CD liners were pushed aside, the little blue books were opened, and a
new sound started: pens on paper. 

Quiet reigned, for however brief a time.

And Ray had looked...good. Proud. Relieved.

Fraser had wanted to go to him, take him by the shoulders and say, "You
see? I told you so." 

But Ray had never appreciated being told that, and so Fraser had remained
at his desk, suffused with arousal and tenderness, aching inside and

Ray was a good...a very good...teacher.

Fraser shifted again, carefully, put his pillow back beneath his head
and re-settled the overabundant blankets more tightly over his body,
his arms and hands resolutely above the covers. Where they would stay.
No matter how awfully he ached. 

He had turned himself over to Ray, had accepted him as his teacher and
guide in this strange new place that seemed more thrilling and yet somehow
more perilous than the slickest glacier. He had indentured himself to
learn, and so learn he would, and he would take no independent action
that might interfere with that goal. 

Even if it meant coming to feel as if his whole body was nothing more
than a series of twisted, needful knots. Extremely hard, rhythmic knots.

He was inured to hardship. He would endure this, too.

He would stay the course, even if it meant accepting less than he wanted
in the short-term, because he'd seen the truth, read it. 

He wanted more from Ray, much more, and he knew that deep in his heart,
Ray wanted it, too. He could sense Ray's frustration nearly as keenly
as he felt his own, and Ray had demonstrated, repeatedly, that he was
not a patient individual. Ray was just...afraid. Of ruining their friendship,
of becoming attached; afraid, it would follow, of then being abandoned,
as he had been before. 

But taking this step hadn't ruined their friendship -- if anything, it
had reinforced it. Never before had they seemed so in tune, their minds
and bodies humming together with electric ease. 

And he had no intention of abandoning Ray. None at all. He couldn't imagine
ever turning away from Ray, from the essential sweetness of his nature,
the tartness of his tongue, the heat of his... 

Fraser caught his right hand sneaking towards the straining, overheated,
blanket-throttled lump at his groin, and forced his hand grimly but resolutely
back to his side. That insistent, demanding ache of his: Ray had cupped
him there this evening, during the embroiled tangle that had become their
good-night embrace. Had cupped him for long, endless minutes, murmuring
appreciation against his open mouth and stroking him through his jeans,
just a little but so deftly, so tenderly, that Fraser lost himself in
a complete dissolve into bliss, and when it stopped, he almost couldn't
bear it. 

But he did. And he could. And so he would.

Besides which, he knew even if he did succumb, his own hand held none
of the mastery of Ray's simplest touch. Even on himself, his hands felt
clumsy, fumbling, ungainly in comparison to Ray's easy confidence. 

He couldn't touch himself the way Ray touched him. He wouldn't settle
for a half-measure when the brimming whole slept restlessly less than
thirty meters away. 

He would wait.

Still, despite this resolve, his mind inevitably returned to the first
time he'd ever heard Ray express a fear that he would 'die of waiting',
and how very silly a concept that had seemed then. 

Somehow it didn't seem quite so silly now.

And perhaps (just *perhaps*, mind you), he should give some thought to
what he might be able to do about that. 



It had taken him a minute to remember what the cell phone bleep sounded
like. McConlan's Dairy Planet on a Thursday night was noisier than the
teacher's lounge at lunchtime, but at least he didn't have to worry so
much about blowing his cover. 

"I thought we had an agreement, Detective? News or no news?"

Oh, shit. What with one thing and another, checking in with Welsh just
hadn't made the list, not since he'd filled him in on the Fraser part
of the deal, when was that? Sunday? Yeah, not a school day. He was pretty
lucky, actually. If Welsh had called thirty minutes earlier, he'd have
had a panting, tongue-rattled, kiss-addled detective to deal with. 

Ray'd finally made them leave the house, head out somewhere where there
weren't couches to stretch out on, corners to get backed into, beds sending
siren calls that, after five days, Ray was doing his damnedest not to
heed. They had a case to work, right, they were there for a *reason,*
and now that class was starting to chug along a little better, maybe
they could get down to it. 

But when they were home, alone, just the two of them with all that upholstered
furniture screaming 'use me! abuse me!', well, the case just wasn't the
first thing that came up. 

They had a job to do. So out they went.

For ice cream, a deliberate choice on Ray's part, who couldn't imagine
anything more wholesome, anything less likely to send them careening
back to the wonderfully claustrophobic house, where they could get seriously
into each other's spaces. 

Boy, was he wrong. What Fraser could do with a banana split and a plastic
spoon...well, it brought to mind another word the counselor had laid
on him in the aftermath of Stella: sublimation. He hadn't gotten it at
the time, but now he licked his plain scoop of chocolate almost hard
enough to knock it off the cone, and it made all kinds of sense. 

Fraser kept telling him he was a good teacher, and maybe, finally, even
he thought he was starting to get somewhere. But he had nothing on how
good Fraser was as a student. 

Which was a good thing. Good for him. But even more important, good for
the case. 

Fraser'd taken the undercover thing damn seriously, which was also a
good thing, even if it meant he was working his way in with a kinda rough
crowd. Still, it wouldn't do the case much good for Fraser to take up
with the Mother's Morning Out gang, there to think about something besides
toilet-training and apple juice for an hour, or the Elderhostel slackers,
who reminded him whenever they didn't like the assignment that they were
*auditing* and didn't have to do anything they didn't want to. No, only
took them about an hour and three conversations to figure out they weren't
gonna find the connection in the frazzled moms or blue-hair set. 

So kids it was. Kids who still doodled through class. Smacked gum. Chewed
on their pencils. Sighed when he made them do an in-class exercise. Kids
who were a lot like he'd been, back in the day. Made him want to slap
them around a little, kick some sense into them, actually stand up on
a soapbox and give them the "stay in school" song and dance. 

If asked, he'd have said no way could Fraser hook up with those kids.
No way could he blend. But he did, and he was, and the girls drooled
all over him, and the guys thought he was cool because he'd taken apart
a desk with a Swiss Army knife on a dare after class one day. And of
course, since underneath it all he was still *Fraser*, he'd picked the
desk with the wobbly leg, which looked catalog-new by the time he got
finished putting it back together. 

"Kowalski, you there?" 

God, he had to get his shit together. "Yeah, sorry."

"How're you doing? Is Fraser getting anywhere?"

If only he knew. He glanced across the table at Fraser, and Lord knew
what Fraser saw on his face (probably the same look that Dief was giving
him right now, only Dief was after the ice cream and Ray wasn't), but
whatever it was, it made him slide down further in the booth, and then
Ray felt Fraser's feet snug up on either side of his own. Jesus, even
that was sexy. He was in *big* trouble. 

"You know Fraser; he's good at everything." 

Two could play at that game. Ray sent what he hoped was a wicked leer
across the table. Fraser responded by licking a spoonful of ice cream
in a way that could have been outlawed in six Southern states. Jesus.
Spoon envy. Go figure. 

"How much longer you think it's gonna take? I got people breathing down
my neck, here," Welsh huffed. 

Breathing down his neck. Ray liked Fraser breathing down his neck. Licking
it. Biting it with those strong, white teeth. Fraser'd learned a lot
in a little bit of time. 

"I dunno," he said. "We got two more weeks of class, but Fraser's leave'll
be up by then." 

God, it hurt to say that. Even thinking it made his stomach hurt. He
tossed the rest of his cone in the wastebasket next to the table. 

There was a long pause, then he heard Welsh say, "I believe the RCMP
would understand if Constable Fraser were at a key point in an investigation,
especially since he's ostensibly working on his vacation..." 

Hope, that bitch, sent a flare through his already burning gut. He covered
the mouthpiece, leaned across the table and said quietly, "You okay to
stay a little longer, if Welsh can get it approved?" 

Fraser leaned forward, bringing their faces close together, and said,
"Of course." 

Staying for the case? Or for him? Did it matter? Lean back; go on, back
off. Ray thought they might melt all the ice cream in the place with
the sparks they had going on. 

"Yeah, Lieutenant, he's good to go." Wow, listen to that. He sounded
just like always. Never know he was sporting a woody you could hit a
home run with. 

"I'll work it from this end, but tell Fraser he'd better follow up, confirm
it," Welsh said. 

"Yeah, okay. Um, thanks."

"Don't thank me, Kowalski. Get me something I can use."

"We're working on it, sir."

"And Kowalski...keep in touch. I mean it."

"Got it. Over and out."

Ray clicked off the phone. 

"Thanks, Fraser. I mean, you know you don't have to do that. If you're
rarin' to get home..." 

"I'm happy to help, Ray."

And what did *that* mean? "Okay, good, good."

Before he could start asking those questions, the ones that would figure
out if Fraser was staying cuz he *should*, or cuz he *wanted* to, Fraser
shot him a meaningful look accompanied by a quick glance over his shoulder,
and said, "So you're suggesting that each query letter can be slanted
differently, according to each publication's preferences?" 

"Uh... yeah, that's about it--" That was as much as he got out before
a heavy hand clapped down on his shoulder. 

"Hey, Sonny!"

Ray looked up. Three of his students stood behind the booth. The girl,
Mandy, he thought it was, smiled at Fraser. The boys, the ridiculously
named 'Bruise' and the other one, whose name he never could remember,
were smiling, too, but not in a nice way. 

He glanced at Fraser. 'Be polite,' Fraser's face told him. Dief growled
a little, low and rough. Didn't sound like the wolf version of 'be polite'
at all, but then if he'd followed Dief's advice he'd have been licking
his own balls six times a day, so... 

He took a deep breath and turned, so the hand fell off his shoulder.
"Call me Ray," he said, trying for hearty, but only managing civil. 

"Better not," Bruise said, sliding a slow glance between Fraser and Ray.
"You know the rules. Wouldn't want anyone to think..." 

Arrogant little shit. Ray had rules this punk had never even heard of.

"Here, have our table. We were just leaving," Ray said, rising, forcing
the kid to back up. A minor victory. 

"Have a good evening," Fraser said, following his lead. 

Once they got outside Ray pointed out the bastard's bike and told Dief
to go pee on it, but even though Dief seemed to be all for it, Fraser
put his foot down. No fun. 

As they walked back toward the house, Fraser said, "Was he implying...?"

"Yeah," Ray bit off.

"Which would be counter to school policy." 

"Counter to most people's policy, Fraser," Ray said, thinking about how
Fraser'd looked eating that banana, and how much rules, any rules, even
his own, just...sucked. 


The sheer ugliness of his damned rules hit home when, a couple hours
later, Ray pulled himself off the saddle of Fraser's lap, grabbing his
hard-on through his jeans so it wouldn't unzip and climb down Fraser's
throat all by itself. 

Fraser didn't help. Fraser clutched at him, murmured sexy little sounds
against his stomach through his shirt; shit, he could feel Fraser's breath
there, right where... He jerked away, stumbled, mumbled a "'Night, Fraser,"
and hauled his unhauled ashes off to bed, where he lay staring at the
ceiling, wondering what the hell he was going to do. 

Two weeks, he'd promised himself. Just two weeks; he'd accepted that.
Two weeks making out with Fraser, teaching him a few things, nothing
to get too bothered about. 

Ha. What a joke. 

Now his two weeks could get extended, with the full blessing of both
their bosses, and how on earth was he ever going to resist Fraser if
Fraser didn't *leave*? 


If, three weeks ago, anyone had asked him whether he could imagine himself
contemplating less than entirely scrupulous behavior in order to erode
the self-imposed walls his partner had erected, well, he would have assessed
the chance to be infinitesimal. 

But desperate times sometimes called for desperate measures.

The problem was one of approach. Ray seemed to be even more mercurial
and skittish than usual, and so it was difficult to think about saying
something -- anything -- that very well might make him retreat altogether.
At this point, that would be unbearable. 

So -- better by far to hold his tongue, to wait. To work the case. To
be Ray's partner, friend, student. To stay the course. 

However, just because he wasn't prepared to take action on one front
didn't mean that he couldn't do so on another -- the requisite call to
his superior officer, when he took the opportunity not only to confirm
his current role in Ray's investigation, but to break the news that,
yes, he'd determined his preference for his new posting, and his choice
was the Canadian Consulate, Chicago; thank you kindly. It had taken a
good five minutes before he'd been able to convince Sergeant Merrill
that he hadn't recently suffered a massive blow to the head. 

So that decision was now made, and the part of him that felt he should
have consulted Ray first had been submerged completely under the part
that decreed the only sure way to achieve his goal was to stay within

The decision itself had been surprisingly easy. Making the call had been
harder. As always, it seemed easier to *do* than to *talk* about doing.
But he felt no twinge at the thought of remaining, no lingering regret
or disappointment at the idea of not securing a position much farther
north. On the contrary, having the transfer in process lifted his spirits
-- something concrete accomplished, something positive achieved. 

Now all he was waiting for was the right moment to tell Ray. So far,
however, no such moment had presented itself. In his own mind it seemed
tantamount to a complete confession of all he felt, and, well, if he
couldn't bring himself to suggest that he and Ray increase the degree
of their physical intimacy for fear of Ray's response, disclosing all
the rest of it seemed... perilous, to say the least. 

Of course, alternatives suggested themselves, and some of them were quite
tempting. Perhaps he couldn't *say* anything to Ray, not yet, at least,
but he and Ray were communicating, corresponding now in many new and
delightful ways, and so whenever he saw an opportunity to let Ray know,
without words, what he wanted, what he intended, he took it. 

Which presented an idea of learning on a whole new level -- up until
now he'd been a rather passive student: doing nothing more than remaining
receptive, eager for whatever lessons or edification Ray might choose
to give him. But there was something beyond that, something that was
somehow both simple and terrifyingly complex at the same time, something
rooted in the dreamy, dark hunger that Ray evoked in him. 

He'd begun this journey with a great leap of faith, a certainty he trusted
in the face of his nearly absolute lack of knowledge. He hadn't known,
not really -- about himself, about loving a man, about loving Ray. 

But he knew some things, now. And he suspected still more.

Ray's kisses, touches -- the moments of pure and sensual languor that
emerged in those few precious seconds when Ray forgot his reserve --
these things had been a revelation to him. Not simply because of Ray's
gender, that was more akin to a profound discovery, but because of what
it had revealed about *himself*. 

There was no question that, before Ray, his own interior erotic landscape
had suffered, almost withered under the combined influences of neglect,
ravenous need, and blight. Now for the first time there was something
more, glimmers of a wholly unexpected vista, ripe and luxuriant. Nearly
decadent. Which was every bit as extraordinary as it was wonderful. 

Whenever he glimpsed that, whenever he felt the awareness of it within
him, it was as if Ray's touches illuminated him somehow, warmed and fed
him and made him glow from the inside, and it was all he could do not
to just plead for more, to take, to guide Ray's hands right to where
he needed them. Shameless. Even the thought of it stole his breath. 

But he never did it. For all he knew, Ray still thought this was a terrible
idea. So, no grand gestures. Not yet. 

Subtle gestures, on the other hand... 

Well, Ray would probably deem them devious, but Fraser preferred to think
of them as... resourceful. 


There he went, with the slouching again.

Like it wasn't bad enough, having to deal with having Fraser's brain
and Fraser's body in class with him, ready to trip him up one way or
the other at any given moment. Like it wasn't bad enough that Fraser
was 'blending in' in a succession of sneakers and loose-fit jeans that
somehow still managed to be tight across the back...and the front...and
untucked t-shirts that made him look like some half-angel, half-jock,
all-gorgeous sin waiting to happen. 

Like Fraser hadn't already frayed every nerve Ray had with the kissing,
rubbing, groping thing they'd been doing, nonstop, for hours, for days
now. And man, he hated being the prom date, the 'that's far enough' one,
especially when Fraser didn't want to stop. Fraser wasn't at all interested
in stopping. Fraser had his light stuck on green, and it was up to Ray
to put his hand up (take it away from whatever hot smooth spot it had
found itself in and put it up) and be the stop-right-there-paradise-by-the-dashboard-light
guy for once. Not his usual thing. Not at all. And Fraser, who'd always
been the brains of their particular operation, was suddenly coming up
all balls. 

He'd caught himself, more than once actually, sitting at his desk and
waiting out the minutes of an in-class assignment with his head propped
in his hand, staring moonily at Fraser and dwelling on stuff that had
no place in the classroom. Stuff like Tuesday's after-school grope-session,
for example, when he'd touched, slipped, and subsequently inadvertently
discovered how incredibly warm and silky Fraser's pubic hair was. Pulling
his hand back from *that* took... well, he didn't really know what it
took, all he knew was that he was amazed he had it to give. 

It made him shiver every time he thought about it. It made him want...
so much, so many things that were Out of Bounds. It made him... 

It made him dismiss class *early*, because he had stupidly forgotten
his jacket that day and he wasn't about to earn himself the campus nickname
of 'Sonny Boner'. 

Ray Kowalski, you've entered the Twilight Zone. Fraser's climbing down
your throat and up your ass and around every corner you've got, and you,
my friend, are trying to put the brakes on. 

So really, all that was pretty much enough.

But now there was the slouching thing. 

Of course, this was the first long-term undercover assignment Fraser
had done in a while, so it seemed inevitable that Fraser, being Fraser,
would get better at it every day. Fraser knew how to pay attention, after
all. But apparently, what Fraser had been paying attention to was the
kids in class who never paid attention to *anything* other than sex,
drugs, and music straight from hell. 

And yeah, that was sort of the point. But it didn't help matters any
when he was trying to concentrate on something besides whether Fraser
was dressing left or right. 

He knew Fraser was thirty-something, but damn if he didn't drop ten years
when he got those jeans on, when he stopped brushing his hair every fifteen
minutes. He'd look at Fraser there, front row, leaning on his elbow with
his head tilted, and think to himself, 'That's what jailbait looks like.
This is why teachers get fired.' 

Of *course* he was doing it on purpose. On purpose for work, but had
to be for play, too. Fraser was getting a kick out of it. 

Fraser was enjoying himself just a little too much. Fraser was, duh,
on *vacation*. 

Which, for Fraser, was pretty goddamn weird. He'd have to take it up
with Adelle Brubaker, the head of physics: matter and antimatter meet
up, result isn't any kind of explosion -- just a guy who almost made
him come in his pants from all the way across the room. 

Slouching. Sprawling. Pen-licking. God god god...

Pen-licking. Slouching. Sprawling. Sprawling out with his thighs wide
open under the desk, faded denim pulled tight over his thighs, over his

-- and then, like he needed to do one thing more than just sit there
and *be*, there went Fraser's thumb, back and forth on that sprawled
thigh, little rhythmic motion back and forth, rubbing, stroking -- 

Ray stuttered, but it was covered by the clock in the quadrangle, booming
out the chimes that signaled the end of the hour. Thank you, Lord. He
cleared his throat. 

"Mr. Fraser, you got the short straw, you get to see me after class.
The rest of you, don't forget -- this week's assignment's due tomorrow.
You better be ready to wow me." 

A few nods, and Fraser got a few sympathetic (and some that seemed slightly
more than sympathetic) pats on the shoulder as everyone else filed out.
Fraser re-packed his books in a careless, leisurely way, without even
a glance at him, until the door banged shut behind the last chattering
student. Then he was just Fraser, standing up straight and moving to
his side quickly, all business. 

"Ray? Is there a problem? I--"

That was as much as he let Fraser get out before he grabbed one arm and
hauled him bodily into the supply closet. Closed the door. Propped Fraser
hard against it and pinned him there. 

He heard Fraser suck in a surprised breath. "Is there some danger? Did

"Shut. Up. Fraser." Shaking, he was shaking -- not Fraser. Him. "Look
-- are you trying to kill me?" 

One of Fraser's hands touched his bicep for a moment, then fell away.
"I...? Of course not, Ray, I would never--" 

"Then stop licking your goddamn pen in class."

He couldn't see a thing, but he could *feel* Fraser giving him that clueless
Mountie look. "I'm not sure I understand how that could possibly endanger--"

"Just cop to it, Fraser. The pen-licking thing. The slouching--"

"As you've reminded me many times, Ray, I'm supposed to be undercover,
portraying a role. I observed that the licking of pens is a widespread
occurrence, evidently a common unconscious self-stimulatory oral behavior--"

That was as much as he could take. Just hearing Fraser use the words
'stimulatory' and 'oral' in the same sentence was bad enough, but knowing,
even in the dark, that that wicked, evil, pen-licking mouth was just
an inch or two away, saying it -- it was too much. He latched on, happy
to swallow Fraser's surprised grunt, happy to keep his mouth there where
it could do some good while he swiped Fraser's shirt up and out of the
way, took his foot off the brake, floored it, and went straight for the

Hadn't undone a button-fly from this direction before, but wow, pop,
pop, pop, there they went, one after another, easy as you please, and
he didn't care where they were, and he sure didn't think about red lights
or green lights, or brakes, or *stopping*. He'd seen one sprawl too many
to think about *stopping*. 

Fraser was decently quiet until Ray got his cock out, but five or six
fast strokes later and not even the greediest kiss could keep *that*
kind of noise in, so Ray pulled back and slid his free hand quick over
Fraser's mouth and just kept pumping. He pressed his whole body close,
as close as he could, wishing that the crack under the door was just
a little bigger so that he could *see*, see and not just feel Fraser's
heat, sudden sweat and wet slick slip-and-slide dribbling cock -- oh,
shit, that's a *foreskin* -- not just pull Fraser away from the door,
so he wouldn't bang it as he tried to climb Ray like a tree. 

God, he wanted to see him. Wanted more than that. Wanted it all at once,
all at once. Put him in a dark room and off went the blinders -- Ray
wanted it *all*. Now, if possible. 

If he hadn't had his hand over Fraser's mouth, Fraser would be *bellowing*.
As it was, it suddenly became very clear that choked-off, desperate,
needy Mountie sounds were not any less sexy for being choked-off. He
leaned into Fraser's neck, felt the vibration there go right through
him all the way to his toes and then he *squeezed*, stripped, pumped
Fraser hard and found Fraser's hip with his own raging dick just in time
to... ohh... 

Fraser's stifled grunts were just perfect, the absolute perfect thing
to hear while shooting off in his pants and getting another load tossed
on him by a big, hot Mountie cock for good measure. He was *soaked* in
it, he could tell from the feel. Inside and outside his pants, and what
were the chances that Fraser hadn't had a single drop land on his tight,
faded slouching jeans? 

Ray sighed, lowered his hand from Fraser's mouth, and gave him what he
hoped was a sincere 'that was your own damn fault, you can make it up
to me later' kiss. 

...About the same time he realized he was supposed to be up in front
of the room again, teaching, in fifteen minutes. 

And maybe it hadn't been the best time or place to have a sudden lack-of-virtue
attack, but damn he felt good. And Fraser felt good. And he'd *made*
Fraser feel good. And if that meant keeping his jacket buttoned for the
rest of the day, okay, so be it. Small price. 



That was...

Fraser found himself grinning as he walked the mile or so distance from
the college to their temporary abode, pausing every so often to enjoy
the sunshine while Dief investigated some intriguing springtime smell.
The afternoon sun felt good on his face and bare arms. He liked the casual
clothes that had become his de facto uniform. They were comfortable,
easy. Had he been in regulation RCMP garb, Ray never would have had time what he did...he'd have been struggling with fastenings and knots
and his next class would have filed in before he'd ever had a chance

As good as the sun felt on him, the close darkness of the closet had
felt better. Without any input from sight to distract him from the heat
of Ray's touch, those desperate fingers flicking through the buttons
on his jeans like they were reading braille, he'd only been able to feel;
had, amazingly enough, forgotten their surroundings, the inappropriateness
of their actions, and surrendered to the driving, almost punishing rhythm
Ray had set, propelled beyond thought into a place where nothing existed
except the churning need in his gut and the remedy of Ray's hand. 

A wave of dizziness washed over him. Renewed lust? Or sense memory? Most
likely a hazy combination of both. He felt light-headed, his skin still
tingling in places, awash with a feeling startlingly close to giddiness
at Ray's sudden capitulation. He supposed some of that feeling could
be attributed to pure physical gratification, that oh-so-elusive satisfaction
finally within his grasp, or, rather, within Ray's. 

His minor word play pleased him. The walk pleased him. The mild sunlight
on his face pleased him. The world suddenly seemed a brighter, better
place. Quite an achievement from a few seconds' mindless pleasure. Yes,
certainly some of his 'all's well' feeling was undoubtedly owed to the
endorphins released in his body, but it wasn't entirely chemical. 

More had passed between them than a smothered exchange of bodily fluids:
he'd found a chink in Ray's wall, and he fully intended to continue chipping
away at it. Because, well, that was...what had happened in the stuffy
dark of the supply closet had been worth waiting for. Worth striving
toward. Certainly worth repeating. 

And yet...he knew there was still so much more there to be discovered.
Ray had shoved him to climax in what was probably a matter of (he was
embarrassed to realize) seconds. If he'd lasted a minute, it was only
because shock delayed his precipitous heave. But as delightful as it
had been to finally feel the grip and heat of Ray's fingers where he'd
wanted them so desperately, he wanted...more. 

He wanted to linger. He wanted to draw it out. He wanted to watch it
happen. He wanted to be unclothed, lying down, and for Ray to be unclothed
with him, his body pressed against Fraser's. He wanted to touch, too,
to learn the length and breadth of Ray, with his fingers, with -- if
Ray would permit it -- his mouth. 

Ray, in an apparent attempt to assuage his own hunger, had merely whetted

Fraser kept his eyes firmly ahead, wondering if the people he passed
could *see* these things, see what he was thinking about written plain
on his face. For once, it didn't seem to matter. He didn't know them;
they had no intersection of life or work except the sidewalk they shared,
and it suddenly seemed as freeing as the sun on his skin to walk down
a street and not *care* what people saw when they looked at him. 

Well, except for Ray, of course. He cared what Ray saw. And it seemed
a good bet that if Ray were there, he would have looked at him with pleasure.
No matter what his face was giving away. Or, actually, because of it.

Fraser entered the cool quiet of their borrowed home, put away his things
and made a snack for himself and Dief. Routine, everyday activities,
but somehow they didn't *feel* at all routine. Not today. He caught himself
testing the textures of things when he touched them, losing himself in
long spun-out moments of recollection: some meltingly warm, some breath-robbing,
some simply, achingly fond. 

He'd left Ray still looking mildly flushed, flustered, babbling apologies
as he poured half a bottle of water down the front of his pants, washing
away the evidence of their indiscretion, practicing his 'I'm a klutz'
rationale in case anyone asked. Ray had one more class to teach before
he could rejoin Fraser. A fifty-minute class, a fifteen minute walk home.
A little over an hour, then, before they could once again be together.

He thought it interesting how very little it had taken to push Ray over
the edge. All right, he had to admit the phallic qualities of the pen
had crossed his mind, but he'd never imagined Ray's visceral reaction
to it. 

Subtle had worked...beautifully.

He wondered (after he'd showered, as he slid, naked and still damp in
places, under the covers of Ray's bed), what *overt* might do. 


How dumb could he get? Really, did they measure that? Degrees of sheer
stupidity? Forget that he was a cop posing as a teacher (strike one,
strike two), but to engage in full-out sexual relations with a fellow
cop (strike three) posing as a student (strike four) in a closet? On
school grounds? In between fifth and sixth periods? Strikes five, six,
seven. Baby, you're so out you're in the parking lot. 

And what would he have said to anyone who opened the door, looking for
chalk, or an envelope, or a ream of copy paper? Anyone who could have
seen him with one hand clamped tight over Fraser's mouth, the other frantic
on Fraser's dick? 

What could he say? 'I've been drinking' wouldn't help him out much. 

He'd screwed up. In a big old way. Knew it as soon as the glow faded,
which just happened to be right about the time Fraser left the building.
Probably not a coincidence, that. 

Should've expected it. Could've predicted it, probably. Pressure like
that's gonna blow eventually. Could have been worse, he guessed. He could
have grabbed Fraser in the middle of the cafeteria, dropped to his knees
and sucked him off right there, with the jocks on one side of him and
the geeks on the other. 

--Whoa, hey, that was one hell of an image, there--

Ray ran one hand through his hair and tugged on it, hard. Hard enough
to make his eyes water. He was thinking about how he fucked up -- right.
Not thinking about fucking, or sucking, or any of those 'ucking' things
he wanted to do so bad. Nope. 

But knowing how much *worse* he could have fucked up didn't make what
happened any better. Come on, he was a grown-up, not some kid with his
first itch. He could control himself. He'd been doing pretty good (at
least, he'd been doing pretty good in the real, non-fantasy world), right
up until then. He could do it again. It just took...self-discipline.

He shook his head. The walk home from the college, usually good decompress
time, good chill out time, wasn't doing anything for him today except
giving him more time to think than he wanted. Self-discipline. Yeah,
right. That was Fraser's deal, there, except Fraser wasn't self-disciplining.
Fraser was as amok as a guy could get who still measured his shoe laces
to make sure they were the same length. 

Fraser'd put it all on him, counting on him. Depending on him. Ray was
the know-it-all, Fraser was the how-do-I? guy. 

Which, when he thought about it, was kind of a heavy responsibility.
Another one. Which seemed to be a theme, lately. Not a good theme. 

He let himself in the front door, said a quick hello to Dief, who was
lounging in the late-afternoon sun streaming in through the living room's
western window, then put down his bookbag and took a deep breath. Amazing.
All he had to do now was walk in the door and his gut went tight, warming
up, all systems on overdrive -- a sort of 'where's Fraser-where's Fraser-is-Fraser-still-wearing-those-jeans'
kind of thing. 

Ray took a deep breath. *Down*, okay? Not right now. Need to talk. Need
to work the case. Put it in neutral. 

But neutral just slid right into hyperdrive when he walked into his room
and found Fraser asleep in his bed. Not wearing those jeans. Not wearing
anything. Naked, in his bed. Funny, he'd never have taken Fraser to be
a nap guy. 

Of course, he'd never have taken himself to be a Canadian-craving, closet-defiling
pig, either, which was why he was going to get a friggin' grip and *not
act like one*. 

He perched himself on the side of the bed and shook Fraser's (mmm --
warm, smooth) shoulder. "Fraser. Wake up." 

Fraser murmured under his breath, a seductive little "Ray," which didn't
do much for the 'hold back' part of his argument. 

"Fraser. We gotta talk."

Fraser opened his eyes, smiled at him, rolled on his side and slid his
arms around Ray's waist. "No." 

"What do you mean, no?"

"No, I don't want to talk," Fraser said, and Ray felt his shirt getting
tugged out from the back of his pants with a newly learned expertise
that made his dick throb to life again. 

Oh, God. What good was it to have a brain if it constantly lost out to
his dick? No way could he hold back. No way could he have *that*, warm
and sleepy and ready for him, and convince himself it was a bad idea.
No way he could pull back, not when he could have Fraser (sleepy, naked,
*horny* Fraser!) under him in five seconds flat. 

Ray licked his lips, and felt all his resistance, all his arguments,
all his reasons of 'why not' just seeping away, like someone'd just drilled
a hole in him to let it all out. Goodbye, brain -- see you when the dick's
done boogeying down, okay? 

But hey -- maybe he had something there. Maybe instead of trying all
the time *not* to do it, he oughta just get it the fuck out of his system.

Oh *yeah*. Oh, that would be... yeah. Yeah. Oh hell *yeah.*

Okay, okay. Fine. TGIF had never been more profound, cuz he had two days
in front of him. *Two days*. He'd break one rule and make another. He'd
do it, go for it, the whole shebang, let it all hang out, just for the
weekend. That was it. That was all. They'd fuck themselves unconscious
and then, maybe then, he could work the case, concentrate on class, do
something (anything) besides look at Fraser and *want* him. 

He felt better already. "Okay."

Fraser, having finished with the untucking, moved on to Ray's tie, working
through the knot. "Really?" 

Funny -- ties *sucked*, but there was something about wearing one and
having Fraser take it off him that suddenly made it worth all the hours
of feeling like he was being slowly strangled. 

"Yeah, we'll call a ...what...a memoriam, a moratorium for the weekend,"
he said, reaching under Fraser's hands to unbutton his shirt. 

He looked at Fraser. Fraser looked at him. Oh, right, right, he was in

"So, we can... uh, I mean... it's your party, Fraser. What do you want?"

Fraser licked his lips, and pulled the tie off him. Slowly. The sound
of the fabric snaking through his collar seemed awfully loud. Ray stayed
cool, stayed steady, as if there weren't random bubbles of carbonated
lust fizzing up all over, popping like crazy and building up the pressure.

"I want... that is, I'd like to..." and he pulled one of Ray's hands
away from its button task and licked a warm stripe up the inside of his

Pop. Crackle. 


"Or, ah..." and damn if Fraser didn't take that thumb, stick it in his
mouth, and...Christ on a crutch...start to suck on it. 

He could, he realized. He could come from getting his thumb sucked; he
could sit right there and watch Fraser's mouth work on him, and shoot
another load in his no-drycleaner-wants-to-see-that pants. 

Wasn't what Fraser had in mind, though, cuz he stopped as soon as Ray
started squirming and said, "I'd like to learn...that." 

"Uh-huh." Oooh. That didn't sound very steady. That sounded kind of like
a fourteen year old trying to play it cool. But Fraser didn't seem to
mind, or even notice -- Fraser was blushing, seriously red-faced, yeah,
but even so, Fraser didn't look away for a second, or hide himself under
the sheets, or anything like that. It was all just... right there, Fraser
being shy but right there and right with him -- in body, in spirit --
all the time now, wanting it. Wanting him. Wow. 

Suddenly that was almost too much, like if he kept staring at Fraser's
shy-but-wanting-him face he was gonna lose it -- one way or the other
-- so he stood up, and used taking off his clothes as an excuse to look
somewhere else, just for a minute. Just enough so he could breathe. 

So he breathed. And stripped. And when he was done with both he looked
at Fraser, and Fraser looked the same except with the addition of mildly
raised eyebrows of interest -- curiosity, that was Fraser's curious look,
aimed right at his hard-on -- and then, somehow, it was okay. 

"Okay?" He asked, and then felt stupid -- he wanted to know if *Fraser*
was okay, but the way the question came out it sounded like he was asking
Fraser if his dick passed muster. Idiot. 

"Lovely, Ray," Fraser replied, eyes catching his with a quick glance
before they bounced right back down again. "*Wonderful*." 

Sounded like the answer to both questions at once. Good enough. Ray slid
onto the bed and partially onto Fraser, trying to take it slow because
this was the first time, the first time naked and both of them and they
weren't gonna stop, not this time, so he tried to go slow. Fraser sighed,
not just warm against his neck now but warm against all of him, finally.

"Kiss me," he said without knowing he was going to, and Fraser did. Familiar,
something familiar and he needed that right now, for some reason, needed
the amazing and familiar miracle of making out with Fraser. Taste and
warmth and both of them wanting and *God* that was good, wonderful, yeah,
he hadn't realized how much of this he'd been missing, being all wrapped
up in knots of don't-go-too-far. Better this way. So much better. 

Fraser rolled on top of him and crushed him hard into the mattress, and
Ray let out a groan of pure happiness because he *didn't* have to stop,
not this time, Fraser could pretty much go to town on him as far as he
was concerned. And Fraser did. Fraser licked him, nibbled, bit down in
a couple of surprising places and *slurped* occasionally, messy and wet,
which made him grin. 

"You taste good, Ray." This came from somewhere around his navel. 

"Huh. You'd think that. No shower since this morning."


Freaktongue. Mmm. Yeah. He closed his eyes and thrust up with his hips,
just a little, only a hint in case Fraser was looking for clues. 

"Ray? May I...?" Breath. Warm breath, right on the tip of his cock. Oooh,

"That'd be, uh, yeah. Good. Uh-huh."

Fraser's mouth. Hot. Slick. *Deep* -- *oh* -- and brief. Gone.

"Fraser? You okay?"

No answer. Just Fraser's mouth again. Wow-oh-*wow* yeah, like that --
so good -- and -- gone. 


That unmistakable Fraser throat-clearing noise. Ray opened his eyes to
find Fraser scrutinizing his wet erection like he was looking for instructions
written on the back. "*Fraser*?" 

Fraser looked up at him, and his cheeks went bright pink again. "I''s
just that...this is more difficult than I imagined," he said. 

"You been imagining?" Ray liked that idea. Liked it a lot.

Fraser's eyes went smoky on him. "Frequently."

"That so?" He had to smile at that. He just had to. "Well, maybe it'd
be easier if you just... um... if you didn't, you know, try to wolf the
whole thing." 

Fraser blinked, looking very serious for a guy who was busy fooling around.
"But I want... I'd like you to enjoy yourself, Ray." 

"Oh, I'm enjoying myself, Fraser, no doubt about that." He reached down
until he found one of Fraser's hands, tugged it up to where he needed
it, and wrapped it around himself, solid. "Here -- just let the hand
deal with the bottom part, okay?" 

Fraser looked weirdly out of place and yet weirdly perfect, naked, frowning,
with Ray's dick in his hand. "Are you sure --" 

"Open wide, Fraser." Enough of that, get started discussing *method*
and they'd be here all night and nobody'd be getting any. He kept his
hand on Fraser's head, gentle but definitely there, and Fraser followed,
and opened wide, not another word before he had Fraser's hand, stroking
him slow, and Fraser's mouth, sliding on-off-on the needy tip of his
cock in a way that made him feel like his spine was melting. 

Which was just...perfect. Wasn't the first time he'd had a mouth on his
dick, not even the first *guy's* mouth on his dick, but none of the other
mouths did it for him like Fraser's did. Not even close. Okay, maybe
Fraser wasn't gonna win any prizes for technique, but he had the natural
aptitude thing going for him. Tongue down, lips down, down to where Fraser's
fingers were squeezing, until he was smothered, covered in Fraser. 

Suck, lick, back it off, bring it on, *squeeze*. Hot mouth, strong fingers,
tongue...Fraser might be a freshman, but that tongue was working on a

Oh, yeah, Fraser had it down now, had going down down pat, and it was
sort of amazing just how *good* it was, how good it felt. God, yes, yes,
oh, shit, that's it, that's it, that's -- 

"Leggo, Fraser." Fraser didn't seem too enthusiastic about letting go,
but Ray could only stand so much Mountie-tongue without totally losing
it, and he'd be hitting that point in about three more of those messy,
enthusiastic stroke-sucks. Or maybe two. Oooh, one. "C'mon, Fraser, let

Fraser made some weird, almost Dief-like growl, and that was that. Ray
was laughing and rocking and -- oh, shit, gonna come right now, goddamnit
-- so he latched onto Fraser's head and pulled hard, up and off, and
got one fist in Fraser's hair to hold him still while the other hand
wrapped around Fraser's and took charge of Old Faithful, quick pump and
squeeze and let's point that somewhere away from Fraser, shall we? thank
you kindly-- 

--watching Fraser watch him with eyes so blue and so amazed; Fraser watching
him stretch right up into it and shoot all over his own stomach. Damn,
that felt...mmm, oh, yeah-- 

And probably he shouldn't have bothered getting Fraser's mouth pried
off him before the crucial moment, because Fraser shook off the now-weakened
grip on his hair like it was nothing, flared his nostrils and went for
it anyway: one long slow lick through the nearest trail of spunk and
then right back down on him in time for the last gasp and shiver, in
time for Ray to push once, hard, helplessly, and spit out one last little
bit of come right on Fraser's tongue and moan way too loud, and wonder
what the hell he'd gotten himself into this time. 


How...delightful. How utterly, surprisingly, delightfully...delightful.

Not that he'd expected any less, of course, but still...the intimacy
of what he'd just done, what Ray had encouraged him to do, *showed* him
how to do... 

He couldn't say it had been beyond his expectations -- between Ray's
emphatic erotic lessons, his own tutored imagination, and the torturous
delay, his expectations had reached stratospheric levels. But oddly enough,
the somewhat awkward reality had been better. 

He would take the stutter of real over the fluent of fantasy any day.

And nothing in his imagination prepared him for the swell of primal possessiveness
that coursed through him when he realized that his mouth, his touch,
had reduced Ray to this -- shivering, panting, his body still jerking
roughly in the final tumultuous throes of orgasm. 

*He* had done that to Ray.

Ray tasted salty. He should have expected that; he wasn't entirely ignorant.
But Ray's saltiness was unique, blended slick and hot with whatever else
it was that made his throat tingle, that lingered on his tongue, echoes
and afterthoughts, undertones of the stronger flavor he'd lapped off
Ray's stomach. 

He wished with all his heart that Ray hadn't pulled away at the critical
moment. As much as he'd enjoyed watching, he would rather have completed
the act, absorbed everything Ray had to offer. He wished he'd been allowed
to literally drink him in. 

Perhaps another time.

Soon. Very soon, if the renewed squirming underneath him indicated what
he thought it might. 

The thought made him shiver. Ray had given him the weekend. Sixty hours,
give or take. A moratorium, Ray had called it, although Fraser would
rather think of it as a respite. Two days of no longer having to curtail
his desires, and two days to demonstrate beyond question to Ray that
they were *meant* to be this way. 

This way. Connected at the core. The way it *should* be.

With one last lick, Fraser released Ray's softening penis and crawled
up his body, lowering himself slowly, sliding his arms underneath Ray
and gathering his pliant form close until they were twined together,
skin to skin from head to toe. As good as it had felt to hold Ray in
his mouth, having all of him pressed against him felt even better. 

Against his own pulsing erection, he could feel the damp tracks his tongue
had made as he cleaned Ray. Of their own volition, his hips surged forward,
pressing into the slick space, and underneath him, he heard Ray groan.

"Ray, did I hurt--"

"No, no," Ray said with a sigh. "Do that some more."

Permission. Encouragement. No more restraint, no pulling back. He could
do...anything. He thrust again, short, sharp, and felt Ray's stomach
muscles ripple beneath him. Ohh, that felt good. So very, very good.

"Yeah," Ray murmured. "S'good. Don't...don't stop."

Fraser smiled at the slur in Ray's voice. Finally, he seemed to have
reduced Ray to the state he himself had been living in for too long;
that place where there were times when he would have literally begged
for one more stroke, one more kiss, one more minute pressing his jeans-covered
erection into the heat of Ray's hand. 

And he remembered the sleepless nights in Tuktoyaktuk, spent just like
this, face-down, thrusting, wanting, needing more than the softness of
cloth beneath him. Needing this -- the solidity of Ray's body, the heat
of it, the strength so apparent in it, even in its current, tranquil

He leaned down, kissed him again, and felt Ray's tongue dart into his
mouth. He opened wide and wondered briefly what Ray thought of his own
taste, then slipped easily, naturally, into the rhythm he knew, the one
he'd learned and they'd practiced countless times, for timeless minutes,
the deep, drugging kisses exponentially better when accompanied by the
smooth spread of Ray's naked body beneath him. 

He writhed against Ray, needy sounds scratching at his throat, demanding
voice. The unbridled pleasure bolting through him felt foreign, decadent.
So long, so long since he'd just...let go. He couldn't even remember
when, or who, and it hardly mattered now. 

Only Ray mattered.

Ray, whose arms wrapped tight around him and held him, who spread his
thighs and lifted them around Fraser's hips, holding him firm, a steady,
solid force Fraser could pound into without hesitation. It was almost
enough. Almost. Beneath him, he felt Ray's groin begin to swell again,
astonishingly soon, and for long, ragged, precious moments, that, too,
was enough. 

The mutuality of it, the give and take of motion, the friction, the ease,
all of it merged with a shimmering, joyous feeling building inside. Arousal,
yes, but more than that, more than just physical pleasure. He wanted
to share that with Ray, wanted to be part of Ray, wanted Ray to be part
of him. 

Part of him. More than tasting him, more than rubbing rhythmically against
him, more than melding their mouths until he could no longer distinguish
Ray's taste from his own. He wanted...Ray. Yes. If Ray were willing.

He supposed it couldn't hurt to...ask. He drew away from the well of
Ray's mouth and looked at him, but had to close his eyes against the
brilliant shine in Ray's eyes. Now *that* might have been enough. 

"Ray?" A whisper, now licked against the tendon straining in Ray's neck.

"Hmm?" Another whisper, breathed into his ear, while strong hands moved
down, down, then gripped hard and pulled his hips, rocking up to meet

"Have you ever...that is..." Words failed. There were things he could
express, and things he...couldn't...and this apparently fell into the
latter category. 

"What?" Good, that Ray wouldn't let him retreat. Good. It would
good...if he could just find a way to say it. Surely he could find some
way to express his desire. 

"I want you to show me one more thing."

He sat up, straddling Ray's torso. He shivered as air cooler than Ray's
warm skin touched him. The shift in position had one immediate benefit
-- Ray's now full erection rested snugly between Fraser's buttocks. Perhaps
he wouldn't have to actually come out and *ask*. Perhaps they could rely,
once again, on non-verbal communication. 

It had worked admirably so far. 


Fraser winced.

And this wasn't exactly an ideal moment for wincing. Ray smacked the
back of his own head against the wall one time, not too hard, just enough
so that he could keep it together for just a little longer, and made
sure his hands on Fraser's hips weren't doing that grabby, pulling thing,
made sure his dick in its crushingly tight new home wasn't going on without
him. No way. He was gonna do this right, even if it killed him. Which
it felt like it might, especially when Fraser squeezed down on him. Steady.
He was steady. He might be sweating like Welsh at the annual summer picnic,
and yeah, so maybe his heartbeat was rattling on every nerve ending he
owned, but for right now he was steady enough. 


Fraser grunted, his brows drawn down low, and shook his head fast, once.
"Oh, no. No." 

"Uh. Good." That was all he felt like he had breath for, because Fraser
was on his lap in a whole new brain-destroying way now. Fraser was on
him, around him, surrounding him, everywhere. He hoped Fraser wasn't
lying. He'd just worked a pretty big thing into a pretty small space,
and it hadn't been easy, and it had taken longer than he'd have thought
it would, and they'd needed a whole lot of slippery stuff and some serious
exertion on both their parts to get where they were, which was in a good
place. A really, really good place. The staggering fact of being *inside*
Fraser kept washing over him every few seconds, and he was terribly afraid
that he might hurt Fraser, or come, or probably manage to do both at
the same time. 

He hadn't really believed it at first. God knew Fraser'd never come out
and say, "Fuck my ass, Ray", but damn if his *body* hadn't said that.
Just right straight out like that. He'd sat up, wriggled around until
he got Ray's dick right in that hot, humid space, and then he'd
he was moving now, only now it was better. Now Ray was *in* there. 

Fraser rocked slowly, moving like a dance, the best dance, liquid and
not stiff at all, except where it counted. Ray took a deep breath and
let himself relax just a little, holding steady, holding still, ready
to go with it -- ready to chew through his own lip if that's what it
took not to get pushy -- but then Fraser went still, and winced again.


"It's doesn't *hurt*, Ray. But I'm...that is, I don't want to..."

Ray looked down. Fraser's dick was hard and thick and standing up straight
and had already dripped a nice little puddle of clear fluid onto his
belly, and as he watched, it bobbed, twice, and Ray dimly wondered if
he would have been able to see the veins pulse there if he'd had his
glasses on. "You gonna come, Fraser? You that close?" 

His hips wanted to thrust so badly at the thought that his spine tried
to turn itself inside out, but he held on. Christ, he'd never imagined
anything like *this* when he'd been thinking hot, hot thoughts on cold,
cold nights. Never dreamed up Fraser, stretched around him, doing a little
holding on himself, trying to drag it out, trying not to come just from
this. Not from getting touched, not getting sucked, just...this. Fucking
sexiest thing he'd ever seen. Good thing he hadn't imagined it -- he'd
have come all over that RCMP bedroll. 

"Mmmm," Fraser hummed, and his cock bobbed again, dripped a little more.
"Ohhh..." Another slow rock, then a gasp, wince, and still *again*. 

"Fraser--" Ray found the slippery threads of his patience from somewhere,
and stayed still, held on, even though his whole body was starting to
shake. "It's okay, go on, go on, you know, just go for it.
Come your brains out. Go nuts." 

"But--" Fraser swiveled, just the littlest bit, and Ray hoped his eyes
weren't actually crossing the way it felt like they were. "But we've
barely begun." 

Ray surprised himself by coming out with his own Dief-style growl. "So

Was he really going to do this? Was he really going to kick into an argument
while they were...while Fraser was... 

Fraser stopped moving again. Ray couldn't stop shaking. So yes. Yes,
apparently, he was. "Fraser, whenever you're ready, you just go for it.
That's what you're supposed to do, that's what we're here for." 

"But it doesn't seem very *courteous*," the guy actually said. Well,

"Oh Jesus--" and that was enough of that, really, the idea of courteous
fucking; so Ray let go of some of that control that had been twisting
everything from his balls to his innards to his brain in knots, then
went ahead and tightened his hold on Fraser's hips. Squeezed gently.
Pulled down, carefully. And lifted himself up, finally finally finally,
moving smooth and deep and shivering from the sweetness, in and out and
together and apart and *goddamn*, that was fucking wonderful-- 

...Oh, wow...

And yeah, he'd kind of noticed, before, that Fraser went a little wild
when he got really close to coming, but that was nothing compared to
*this*, to being pinned down and held there with solid Mountie muscles
while Fraser threw back his head and drove himself down and shuddered
and just *took* from him, no longer seeming to care about anything except
taking, humping, using him in a fierce and desperate way that knocked
Ray flat and jacked him right up and gave him time to get out one surprised
grunt before he came, hard. Then he felt sudden wet spurts, hot on his
stomach, and Ray shivered under them, under Fraser, who had bent abruptly
and was groaning right in his ear in a very uncourteous way and panting.


He'd never felt this. Nothing he'd ever known had felt like this. A day
in the cold with the dogs came close, in terms of that feeling of rightness
in the universe, the spike of adrenaline. A night wrapped warm by a fire
created a similar lassitude, a languorous, lazy torpor. But never had
he experienced both feelings at once -- exhaustion and exultation sliding
seamlessly together, singing in his nerves, slipping across his skin.

He sprawled on a warm bed of Ray, feeling him soften in minute increments
inside the stretched boundary of his body; still part of him, still vital
inside him. He wished they could just stay this way, literally connected,
fitted together. It seemed strange, on drowsy reflection, that he hadn't
considered just what it would mean -- what he'd asked of Ray. What he'd
offered. Given. Taken. He'd thought of it in physical terms -- how good
it would feel to have Ray inside him, part of him, sharing an elemental

He hadn't known it would seal his fate. 

There would be no turning back, now. 

The decision he'd made with his heart had just been confirmed by his

He sighed and let his full weight sink onto Ray.

"You okay?" The words were whispered against his shoulder. He dragged
his heavy body up again, supporting his weight on his elbows. Ray gasped,
his eyes sliding shut, and deep inside, Fraser felt one last twitch,
then Ray slipped free of him. The emptiness he felt startled him. 

"Very much so. And you?" he asked.

Ray stretched his arms over his head and yawned. "I don't know what I
am, Fraser, but I'm pretty sure I'm not okay." 

Fraser stilled, looking down at him. He could interpret Ray's words in
a variety of ways, some of them better than others. 

"Great, maybe, or awful," Ray continued. "One or the other, none of that
in-between stuff. Not sure yet. Ask me Monday." 

"I don't follow." 

"You're, um, you're a force of nature, Fraser," Ray said sleepily. 

"Is that good?" he asked. Agonizing, to feel so uncertain.

"It just is what it is, okay? Don't make me try to explain it."

Fair enough. Maybe it was very different being on the giving end. On
the penetrating side of the equation. He knew Ray had enjoyed what they'd
done, as he'd enjoyed Fraser's mouth on him. Maybe it was the enjoyment
itself that dismayed him. 

They were now -- beyond question -- tangled.

Perhaps he could *show* Ray what it meant, how it felt, prove to him
that the literal link of their bodies was merely the most powerful manifestation
of a soul-deep union. 

Yes, he would do it. Ask, in their own private code. He would. 

As soon as Ray woke up.


He hovered for hours in the warm, soft space between waking and sleeping,
opening his eyes every few minutes to look at Ray, at the changes the
dwindling light gave the planes in his face. He chafed at the thought
of sleep, not wanting to waste a single moment of his allotted reprieve,
his body charged again already, ready, aching. 

But Ray needed his sleep. Teaching was hard work, regardless of subject
matter. Ray deserved a chance to rest. He didn't even stir when Fraser
eventually untangled himself and went into the connected bath to wash

Fraser mopped Ray off, too, then climbed back beside him, drawing him
back into his arms, exhorting patience. 

They had time. Just not enough.

They were naked, prone, in the dark. Just as he'd dreamed. Finally. 

For a little while, it was enough to be there, hearing Ray's breath in
sleep, the little murmurs he'd been hearing across the hall even more
seductive up close. For awhile, he was satisfied just having Ray present
in his arms, his body boneless in sleep, molded to him.. 

But the time came when it wasn't enough just to be there. He wanted more,
needed it, could no longer ignore the arousal throbbing through him,
so he rolled, shifting Ray onto his back beneath him, and started to
wake him the best way he knew how -- with slow licks, and soft, tiny
bites, and long, smooth kisses on all the places he'd learned Ray liked
them best. The darkness gave him courage, their closeness paved his way,
and it was surprisingly easy to let the hunger sweep over him, burying
the courtesy that would have allowed Ray his sleep, smothering any impulse
to wait to be invited. 

He couldn't wait. Not anymore.

Ray awoke in stages. His penis woke up first, lifting, filling under
Fraser's deliberate touch. He moved, thrusting slowly into Fraser's hand,
shifting slowly on the bed, and Fraser moved with him, kneeling up between
Ray's legs, spreading his thighs wide. In the weak glow from the streetlights
through the blinds, he could see when Ray opened his eyes, and he paused
for a moment, one hand lightly holding Ray's firm erection, the other
still resting on Ray's thigh. 

"Ray...Is it all right if I..."

"Yeah, Fraser, yeah. Anything you want." The right answer, murmured in
the sultriest voice imaginable. Sleepy Ray, with his hot skin and malleable
limbs, offering Fraser...everything. 

Fraser took a deep breath and tried to think of glacier walks, Miriam's
elderberry pie, anything to hold on for a few more minutes. What he wanted
to do was launch himself at Ray, rub against him until they both came,
then do it again, and again. He wasn't sure he could ever get enough.
But he'd had a goal in mind, earlier, a way to bridge heart and mind
and body, and this sleepy, unguarded, tractable Ray might just let him
do it. 

Curbing his own craving, he set about bringing Ray to his level, using
every skill he'd acquired (and a few he'd only imagined) to arouse Ray.
It took gratifyingly little time or effort on his part. Ray was with
him in startlingly short order, writhing beneath him, reaching for him,
struggling to pull Fraser down on him. 

When Ray spread his legs wider of his own volition, cocking his thighs
around Fraser's hips, Fraser knew he'd succeeded. He left one hand stroking
Ray's leaking penis, then slid his other hand underneath, pressing the
pads of his fingers firmly against the swollen root. 

Ray gasped, his head lifting, and his hands scrabbled on Fraser's hips.

Fraser did it again, even further down, almost to where...and then he
was there, feeling the tender muscle contract around one finger while
Ray groaned deep in his throat and rocked up into one hand, then down
onto the other. 

Not too rough, not too hard. The litany wove through his hunger. He needed
something to ease his path. Reluctantly, he let go, ignoring Ray's protests
long enough to reach for the open tube of lubricant on the nightstand,
grateful that Ray had shown him what to do. 

Two slick fingers slid in with almost no resistance, and he realized
Ray was consciously trying to relax, taking deep breaths, continuing
to rub his penis into Fraser's clasping hand, distracting himself. 

A third finger made Ray's face scrunch up with discomfort, and immediately,
Fraser withdrew. 

"No, no, you're doing good," Ray gasped, grabbing Fraser's hand and pushing
it back between his legs. "It's gonna hurt, you know? But it's okay.
Just go slow." 

"Ray, I don't want to hurt you," Fraser said, startled when he heard
his voice crack. 

Ray laughed under his breath. "It's not this. This won't hurt me." 

Before Fraser could pursue what he meant, Ray had taken his fingers and
pushed them back inside, holding his wrist tightly, so he could only
move forward, not back. Move forward he did, his fingers stretching up
inside, stretching out, opening Ray as carefully as he could. Ray's grip
on his wrist slackened, and then he lifted his hands over his head, turned
his cheek into the pillow and said, "Go on, Fraser. Do it." 

He was Fraser's for the taking, now; a sacrifice draped around him. Sweat
broke out on his skin at the picture Ray made there, his lithe body utterly

Good. Better than good. He liked his active role, he liked Ray's easy
acquiescence. And he loved the heat of Ray's body around his fingers,
the tight ripples inside, the smooth clutch of muscle. Time, it was time
now. He withdrew his fingers, took his hand from its curled spot around
Ray's penis and slicked down his own erection with a healthy amount of
the cool, slippery gel. Then he lifted Ray's legs over his, moved in
closer, close enough to smell Ray's arousal, close enough to feel it,
and began to squeeze his way inside. 

Time. Not enough time. The sensation he felt at the clench of Ray's body
around him as he entered, slowly, slowly, pushing his way through, and
in, and deep, was something he would like to have dragged out for hours,
for days. He had the strangest sense of tunneling his way home. He felt
his thighs tremble under the weight of Ray's legs, felt Ray's legs also
begin to shake. 

Somewhere in there he knew there was a place that would give Ray the
same degree of pleasure he himself was feeling. Somewhere. He moved,
lifting Ray, changing the angle of penetration, the depth, and everything
he did seemed to suit Ray, who was making sounds now that said there
was no pain in his world, none at all; only pleasure. Then Fraser moved
again, jabbed his hips up, and found the place he'd been seeking. He
knew immediately: Ray's back bowed, his muscles contracting wildly. Ray
whimpered through clenched teeth, and his complacent hands abruptly turned
urgent, reaching for his own cock, grabbing at it. 

"No, Ray. No. Don't." Fraser trapped Ray's hands solidly in his own and
took them with him right back to Ray's hips, lifting, pulling, and Ray
tugged a little but without much strength behind it. "Just this, Ray...
just this --" 

He angled forward again, pushing, feeling his way, knowing he'd got it
again when Ray's head arched back into the pillows, revealing the tempting
cusp of Adam's apple under sweat-glossy skin. It made him thirsty. 

"Fraser -- you don't -- I mean, I'm not like you, I can't... I don't...
Oh, God." But the words, like Ray's struggles, lacked strength, and Fraser
suddenly *needed* this, needed it so much, and so he just kept moving,
thrusting, holding Ray open to him and going deep, going deeper. He closed
his eyes and just listened, felt: sensed Ray's beautiful, responsive
body shaking, lunging in his grip, groans that washed over him and pulled
him under, guiding him where he needed to go. 

"Oh... Fraser... That's... I'm... But..."

"Please, Ray." He opened his eyes and moved harder, faster, lost in the
heat of Ray and the unfamiliar heat of being sure, yes, this was where
he should be, this was right. So right. A drop of sweat fell from him
and he imagined it splashing into the well of Ray's navel, a juxtaposition
of detail that somehow brought Fraser fully back into himself, seduced
utterly to the furthest edge. 

Ray's bared, stretched throat was etched with darker lines of muscle
and tendon, tight with a litany of 'fuck, fuck, fuck' that seemed more
sacred than profane at the moment. When tense words became wild cries
and Ray jerked, shuddered, and thrust greedily downwards, Fraser cried
out himself, losing his grip, letting Ray's hands go as he drove in and
in, groping for whatever handhold he could find to secure Ray to him.
Blinded by pleasure, he held Ray tightly through every shiver, every
echoing tremor of his own. 

And he decided, then and there -- still shaking, his hips thrusting without
discernible form or rhythm, clawing for the last dregs of sensation --
that a lifetime of this, of Ray, might be enough to satisfy him. Anything
less would cheat them both. They had so much together, on every level,
so much still to be explored, so much already known between them. 

People did this; he knew that. People managed to merge the diverse facets
of their lives, successfully coalescing work and love and the mundane
details of life into a unified whole. He wanted that with Ray. Wanted
to take all the good things they had going for them and shape them into
something strong, something lasting. 

Something real.

Ray thought he could still pull back. Thought he could put a time limit
on this, that he could stop what he'd started. He was wrong, and Fraser
would prove it to him. If Ray tried to rebuild the walls between them,
Fraser would scatter the bricks, hide the mortar. He knew how to do that

He stroked Ray's stomach, feeling the muscles quiver beneath his fingers,
then reluctantly tugged himself from the heat of Ray's body. Ray protested,
a short moan that might have signaled discomfort, but the hands that
clutched his hips spoke only of pleasure. 

Oh, yes. Thanks to Ray, he'd learned exactly what to do.


He had created a fucking monster.

Literally. And maybe he should have seen that coming, but he hadn't.
He'd been paying so much attention to the dividing line, to the thought
that their weekend of wild nookie was over and now they were on the case
and he was *seriously* committed to not getting more hooked than he already
was, so Fraser was now his cop-partner, his *cop-partner*. That, and
nothing more. 

Only, Fraser didn't seem to have really grasped the rules as they'd been
laid down -- or maybe he had, but he didn't think Ray's reasons for them
were good enough. Whichever it was, Fraser didn't seem to be too concerned
about holding up his end of the deal. Didn't, in fact, seem to remember
that there had been a deal at all. Might have been a good idea if Ray'd
reminded him that there *was* a deal. 

It was on Monday, after their day was done, their first day back on the
case after what Ray had come to think of as The Weekend, when Fraser
first jumped him. Ray had been trying hard to make the adjustment to
thinking of his current situation as 'being at home with Fraser his cop-partner',
rather than 'being in a place with a roof over it that would keep him
and Fraser dry while they screwed each other senseless'. He wasn't doing
so hot. Every place he saw -- the kitchen counters, the shower, most
of the floor, the wall in the hallway, the recliner in the den -- provoked
an instant and intense memory of him and Fraser pawing each other there,
going deep together there, turning on, getting off, and getting it on

He must have been nuts, to think that would work. Just fucking nuts.

He was pondering his own stupidity, and staring kind of longingly at
the ottoman in front of the fireplace, when Fraser's arms suddenly came
around him from behind -- one hand pressed against his chest and the
other at his crotch, and a whole lot of hot Fraser snugged up against
his back. "Fraser!" he said, kind of scandalized, and more than a little
shocked, but no matter how shocked or scandalized he was he didn't do
dick about it when Fraser pulled him back, draped him back so that his
head got a nice lolling-spot on Fraser's strong shoulder, or when Fraser
unbuckled, unbuttoned, unzipped, and fucking undid him. 

Determined Mountie. He hadn't expected that. He hadn't expected that
at all, and that was probably a good thing. Because if he'd expected
it he would have spent a whole lot of time *wanting* it, because Fraser
being determined was such an amazingly hot concept he couldn't believe
the fantasy department of his brain hadn't come up with it before. 

So he didn't do anything, or say anything. Well, that is, he didn't do
anything except come *really fucking hard* about a minute and a half
after Fraser grabbed hold of him, about two seconds after Fraser had
clamped down on his hips, humped his still-pants-covered backside fast,
twice, and grunted like an animal right in his ear. 

And after that, he just didn't know what to say. Like... yeah, rules
were rules, and he'd had a lot of practice at discipline lately and so
he *knew* that it was important, really important, to lay down the line
and then stick to it, but... 

But how the hell was he supposed to bawl Fraser out for... for... for

And so he didn't say anything.

And so on Tuesday after school, Fraser barely gave him time to close
the door before he was on him, grinding and licking and stuttering half-articulated
suggestions in his ear, things that he never, ever expected to hear coming
out of Fraser except maybe if he lucked out in the wet-dream sweepstakes.
He'd barely hauled his own dick out of his pants in time for that one.

After that, patterns had developed. Fraser seemed to be following certain
paths of research, satisfying one kind of curiosity at a time before
moving on to the next. For example, Fraser had Orifice Exploration Day,
where he went from his tongue in Ray's mouth to his fingers in Ray's
mouth to his cock in Ray's mouth, and then his tongue, fingers, and cock,
in that order, in Ray's ass; and by then Ray was out of suitable orifices,
as well as most of his bodily fluids, and was nothing more than a drained
and sopping guy-shaped puddle in the middle of the bed. 

Fraser teased him. Fraser jerked off with him. Fraser straddled him and
rode him slow and sweet until Ray felt like he was risking whiplash by
all the thrashing around and begging he was doing, and Fraser had the
gall to come *first* and then held way too still, held *Ray* too still
while he slowly rubbed all the splashes and dribbles into Ray's skin
-- a task he attended to with Mountie-like thoroughness. Ray would have
killed him if he'd been able to do a single thing other than whine and
shiver and make pathetic clawing motions. 

Fraser the lust-monster. *His* monster. His own creation. And, yeah,
the Frasermonster was seriously fucking with the original plan, the one
he'd been counting on to keep him less-than-entirely-wrecked, and that
was bad -- but, as he'd come to realize in those few dreary minutes he'd
had on Monday before Fraser snuck up and monstered him -- 

For something that was supposed to help him stay sane, that sure had
been a stupid plan. 


The weirdest thing of all, the part he was having the hardest time figuring
out, was that in between the hours of school and the bouts of hard-core
hi-jinks, they *were* working the case now, and they'd actually started
to make some progress. Stuff that had flown right by last week suddenly
looked like a map this week, and he finally decided there really had
been something to that get-it-the-fuck-out-of-his-system deal. Even if
it was still *in* his system. Even if getting it the fuck out seemed
to get translated into getting it the fuck on. 

Still, getting over that proverbial hump seemed to have given his remaining
six brain cells the ability to work on something else for a change, something
besides his Resistance Is Futile partner. 

Or maybe it wasn't the cave-in. Maybe the real key here was that when
he and Fraser worked together, they *worked*. When one thing worked,
*everything* worked. They were in the zoom zoom zone, hitting their marks
in every department, which rocked. Hell, they were practically finishing
each other's sentences, and this was what he'd wanted, way back when.
This was how he'd loved it best, what he remembered most, only it was
even better now. Yeah, it was all that and then some. 

All week, Fraser'd been doing his Mountie thing, MTV-style, going like
a house on fire. First, Mandy'd made a slip of the tongue in class one
day when Fraser casually expressed concern over the health of a fellow
student. Then there'd been a little after-school observation session
behind the gym. And finally, a real break: a conversation in the caf
that Fraser lip-read while pretending to choke down creamed corn and
salisbury steak; a conversation that led a little trail of bread crumbs
right to Bruise's door (surprise surprise), and if the goombahs coming
and going were any indication, it looked like Bruise might be able to
take them one more step up the ladder (and maybe more) if they played
it right. 

And now it was just a matter of watching and waiting, and adding a cursory
stakeout to the list of things to do in the day. Only took one time trying
to watch Bruise's place together to figure out that Ray plus Fraser plus
nothing to do equaled cock-sucking in the front seat, so they took to
trading off, and Ray'd ended up doing chicken scratch lesson plans on
the backs of envelopes while he waited for some action. No point wasting
Frasernaked time with *that* kind of busy work. 

So he worked while he worked, then played guilt-free when he got home.

All work, all play. All good.

Except... God, what a mixed bag. Mixed up. Whatever. Not get hooked?
Not likely. And it sucked as much as he'd thought it would, cuz every
step closer they got to solving the case was one step closer to Fraser
going home. He knew -- and if he knew, then Fraser probably knew, too,
since that's how they usually worked -- that they could've picked up
Bruise at any time: probable cause, get a warrant, done deal. See the
problem? Done. He just couldn't deal with being done yet. 

So he had some bitter mixed in with all that sweet. Fraser was marking
him so deep he'd be scarred for life, and there wasn't a goddamn thing
he could do about it. Which was... ironic, that was it. Ms. Gottlieb,
the old bat who always sat in the back row and always went on and on
about irony and how 'delicious' it was, she would've loved this, once
she got her blue-rinse hair to stop standing on end, that was. Irony.

Ironic that, smack in the middle of finding out that he really could
do more than he ever thought he could, he should find this one thing
that he couldn't do at all. Here, Ray, juggle these three balls: undercover
case, teach writing, bang a gong with your partner -- no problem, no
sweat. Just don't get too deep, that's all. Don't forget *none* of that's
real, none of it's gonna last. Okay, easy, should be easy. Nothing he
had going on here would be something he'd have going on in, say, a month.
Or a year. He just had to keep those balls in the air a little longer.



Not easy. Not easy at all.

He loved working with Fraser, pointing their opposite minds in the same
direction and getting stuff done. They were good together. He loved that.
And all that teamwork, shared thoughts, diametrical viewpoints thing
worked even better in the bedroom (and the kitchen, and the floor of
the bathroom). 

He loved seeing Fraser let loose, loved seeing him put into practice
something Ray'd shown him. It just got better and better, the more they
tried, the more Fraser managed to show Ray what he wanted, the more Ray
listened to the stuff Fraser couldn't say. Fraser soaked up everything
Ray threw at him, absorbed it, then turned around and used it on him,
and there was something...geez, it sounded dumb...magical that happened
when they moved together, rocking in a rhythm all their own, just theirs.

Sex hadn't always been this good. Okay, truth, sex had *never* been this
good. He remembered the closest thing -- the early days with Stella,
crowded in the little single bed in her dorm room, surrounded by fluff
and stuffed bears, and he remembered thinking then that all that pink
and white and soft he was smothered in made him feel like a man. Not
a boy, not a teenager. A man. 

Didn't hold a candle to this, though. No, not like being man to man with
Fraser. Fraser pushed him, wanted him to use his strength, wanted it
rough sometimes, wanted it fast and hard, liked being manhandled, liked
to manhandle back. He was like a big puppy in bed sometimes, all oversized
paws and wet tongue and playfulness. Fraser wanted it all, and he made
Ray feel like he had it to give. He could do stuff with Fraser he'd never
have thought of with Stella. 

Which made it better than anything he'd known before.

He couldn't put his finger on what made it so. It could've been because
anything Fraser put his mind to, he could get a blue ribbon in. Or it
could've been because Ray'd wanted it so long, waited for it, worked
for it. 

Or -- and this was his cold-light-of-day thought -- it could've just
been Fraser giving him a hand-out again, spreading a little of that quality
Fraser time his way one last time. One for the road, one for the Gipper.

He could see it all -- all the different sides. He could see that they
were living in some dreamworld, where the living was easy, the case was
falling into place, and he could have sex on demand. Not even demand.
He could have sex on the slightest *suggestion*. And he could see how
little all that really had to do with him being a cop in Chicago, and
Fraser being a goddamn Mountie. 

See? Mixed up, messed up. Upside down, inside out. Nothing resembling
simple anymore. No, this was about the most complicated course he'd ever
tried to navigate. 


So far, so good.

His weekend respite had stretched to almost a full week now. He kept
waiting for Ray to admonish him, to back up, back off, holding his hand
up so he could tick off all the reasons why they weren't going to continue.

He never had. He'd never protested, never shunned an advance, never done
anything except open up to Fraser, accept and return Fraser's caresses,
drawing them deeper, forging a stronger bond every day. 

At least that's how it felt to Fraser. He still wasn't sure about Ray.
Ray offered up his body, his experience, his willingness. He just never
*said* anything. 

Fraser looked up from his book, watching Ray across the room. For once,
they were spending a quiet evening at home. Dief had laid claim to the
large rug in front of the fireplace, picturesque even though there was
no fire, and Ray was reading blue books, one after another, writing comments
in the margins. 

In the pile was one of Fraser's own little blue books, half-filled this
time -- a description of Inuit fertility myths. Although it hadn't been
a deliberate choice, he realized he had shied away from writing anything
particularly personal. He'd never been able to be dispassionate about
anything relating to the native culture of his homeland, and so undoubtedly
some of that ardency bled through, but he never achieved the same degree
of intimacy, or self-awareness, in his own writing that Ray had in his.
Ray never said anything about it; never wrote comments in what he turned
in. Seemed surprised, in fact, that he actually did the homework assigned.

He'd told Ray that it helped with his cover, working as the students
did, and there was some truth to that. But down deep, he knew he was
also trying his best to equalize the situation between them, even if
he didn't succeed with the written word. Ray had written, and he had
read it. It seemed only fair that he should write, and let Ray read.

He'd asked Ray once what he tended to write when he made comments, and
Ray had turned self-conscious and defensive, then finally muttered something
about trying to be encouraging. Fraser hadn't asked again, but he liked
the idea that the Mandys of the world would be on the receiving end of
Ray's motivation and support. Heaven knew *he* had certainly benefited
from the same, which he *felt*, even if Ray never wrote it...or spoke

"Have you thought about your final exam topic?" Fraser asked. While Ray
never seemed entirely comfortable in his teacher role, he'd persevered,
cajoling his students into handing in their assignments, browbeating
the few who resisted with a combination of humor and sharp-tongued tenacity.

Ray finished scribbling something, then looked up. "Um, sort of. Thought
I'd make it a take-home, no more than one of these," he said, holding
up one of the exam books. "About a person. Anybody they want. Somebody
they love, hate, someone they feel strongly about, whichever way. They
can make somebody up, I don't care." 

"That sounds like a good idea," Fraser said.

Ray shrugged and returned to his work. "It's a slide course, I know that.
Wish I'd had me when I was in school." 

Fraser smiled. Ray continued to deride his abilities, but Fraser knew
he'd made an impact on at least some of the students in his classes.
The pile of blue books still waiting for Ray's penciled comments was
testimony to that. 

"Can't believe graduation's in a week. Hope we can kill the case before
then," Ray said. 

"The time has certainly passed quickly," Fraser said, nodding.

Ray's pencil stilled on the paper. "Yeah," he said quietly, then started
writing again. 

"Ray? What is it?" 

"You're supposed to be home now," Ray said, closing the book he was working
on and slapping it on the coffee table. He pointed the pencil at Fraser.
"I mean, your leave was officially done, when, Tuesday?" 

He'd wondered if Ray had been keeping track. He nodded. "Yes, but --"

"But you stayed."

He nodded again. He felt off-balance, unsure what Ray was trying to say.


Why. He could tell Ray now, not only that he'd stayed, but that he didn't
intend to leave. He could swallow hard, take a deep breath, and tell
him. It was time. Perhaps it was past time. Why was it so hard to say?

"I stayed because my supervisors allowed me to," he said, stalling a
little, then talked right over Ray's scoff. "And because I wanted to."

It was a place to start.

"Because you asked me to."


"You stayed for me." Ray said, his voice low and flat.

"There would be no other reason," Fraser said, still feeling his way,
still uncertain. 

Ray dropped his head onto the back of the chair. Fraser could see the
arch of his throat, every centimeter known to him now, intimately. 

"Wouldn't be because you felt sorry for me, would it?" Ray asked. 

Shock pulled Fraser to his feet, tugged him closer to Ray. "Sorry for
you? Why on earth would you think that?" 

Ray had his eyes closed. "Cuz of the stuff I wrote, all that stuff."
He waved his hands in the air. "Pretty schlocky." 

A word not in Fraser's lexicon, but the meaning was clear enough. "Ray,
the only person I felt sorry for was myself." 

At that, Ray opened his eyes, seemingly surprised to see Fraser hovering
over him. "Huh?" 

Fraser leaned even closer, putting his hands on either arm of Ray's chair,
boxing him in, and spoke slowly, clearly, wanting to be sure Ray heard
every word. "I missed you. I liked being with you. I still do. I came
to be with you, that's all." 

The pinched look on Ray's face eased, and the corners of his mouth lifted
in a little smile. "Yeah?" 

"Yeah," he said, leaning over to punctuate the affirmation with a kiss.
Ray lifted his face, meeting him halfway, his lips parting reflexively,
and Fraser felt his throat tighten at the implications of Ray's instinctive

He pulled back before they could follow their traditional route from
kissing to more intimate touches, feeling compelled now to tell Ray the
rest. He crouched in front of Ray's chair. "Ray, there's something I
need to tell --" 

Before he could finish his sentence, the doorbell rang.

They froze. It was the first time the bell had rung since Fraser himself
rang it, almost three weeks earlier. 

Ray leaned forward, and Fraser stood, giving Ray room to get up. "I'd
better get it," Ray said. 

Fraser went to the edge of the foyer, out of sight of the door. He was
a little surprised at his protectiveness, but he'd learned the hard way
to trust his instincts, and his instincts said to stay close. 

Ray opened the door. "Hey, Bruce, what brings you out so late?"

Bruce. Bruise. The mountain had come to Mohammed. Fraser was proud of
Ray's nonchalant tone. 

"Came to see Ben, actually," Fraser heard him say. "He around?"

Fraser felt his heart kick. They hadn't made any serious attempt to camouflage
the fact that they were sharing quarters, although they'd been careful
not to arrive or leave the campus at the same time. Obviously, that hadn't
been sufficient. 

Ray hadn't said anything more, and the silence stretched uncomfortably.
Then Fraser heard Bruce again. 

"Come on, *Ray*. I know he's here." The tone was insolent. Yes, they
had a problem on their hands. 

Fraser heard the door open further, and he stepped out into the foyer
just as Bruce came in the door. Under a thatch of dirty blond hair, the
boy's eyes narrowed when he saw Fraser, and Fraser found himself being
scrutinized, from his bare feet up to his own tousled hair. 

"Come in, Bruce," Fraser said, indicating the study. He glanced into
the room. Ray's work was spread around one chair. His own book lay face-down
on the couch. The scene could hardly be misconstrued. "Can I get you
something --" 

"Save the happy homemaker shit. I'm not here on a social call," Bruce
said, jamming his hands in his jacket pockets. "Just came to tell you

"What's that?" Ray appeared in the study doorway, leaning on the jamb.
Again, Fraser was impressed with how well he was keeping his cool. 

Bruce looked from one to the other. "I don't need no goody-goodies screwing
up my life, got it? You been watching me," he said to Fraser. "I've seen
you. And don't think anything you say to Mandy's gonna stay just with
her. Girl's got a mouth the size of Texas. I want you to leave me alone."

"Bruce," Fraser started to say, but the kid cut him off.

"You been watching me, but I been watching you, too. You know about me,
and I know about you, so I figure we'll make ourselves a deal." 

"What kind of deal?" Fraser asked, although he knew very well what Bruce
meant. They needed Bruce to *say* it. 

"You forget you even know my name, and I won't get Ray here fired." 

At that, Ray moved, coming into the room in stealthy strides that brought
him within arm's length of Bruce. Fraser waited, tensed, ready to act
if necessary, but willing to see what Ray had in mind. 

"That's a pretty big threat, there, Bruise," Ray drawled. "How you gonna
do that?" 

Bruce laughed. It wasn't a pretty sound. "You're kidding, right? You're
living with a student. A *guy*. You're *doing* a *male* student. You're

The sneer on his face doubled in his voice. "You're breaking all the
rules, man. *All* the rules." 

"And you're not, with that crap you're selling?" Ray's voice matched
Bruce's. To Fraser, they sounded like snarling dogs. 

Bruce backed up a step, then stopped, as if he hadn't meant to show that
minor weakness. "Hey, I'm covered. I got people behind me. Who you got?"
He pointed to Fraser. "Him? Pretty boy? You sure he's worth it?" 

That seemed to try the last of Ray's patience, because he snapped, one
hand going out, taking Bruce's arm and twisting it behind his back. "I
got people, too, you little shit. I got the whole Chicago P.D. behind
me," he growled into Bruce's ear, pulling his badge out of his pocket
and shoving it in Bruce's face. "And you just made what sounds an awful
lot like a confession to me." He turned to Fraser. "That sound like a
confession to you?". 

"Well, technically, Ray --"


"Yes, it did sound something like a confession," he said.

To Fraser's surprise, Bruce laughed in Ray's face. "A cop? You're a *cop*.
Oh, now that's funny. No, I guess you're not worried about losing your
teaching position, are you? That's nothing on the shit they'll shower
on you if your precious Chicago PD finds out you're a *fag*." 

"Don't think I need to worry about that," Ray said, turning Bruce against
the wall and holding his hands tight behind his back while Fraser handed
him the handcuffs he'd left sitting in a crystal bowl on the mantel.

"How come? What makes you think I won't scream it from the rooftops?"
Bruce said. Fraser felt a moment's flickering admiration for the young
man's poise under duress. 

"Well, for one thing, you're going to need all the character witnesses
you can get, especially if there's a chance we might toss you back in
return for some bigger fish," Ray said calmly. "For another, who you
think they're gonna believe? The two-bit hood? Or the Mountie?" 

Bruce deflated a little, sagging in Ray's grip. "Mountie?" he muttered.

"Benton Fraser, Royal Canadian Mounted Police," Fraser said, refraining
from putting his hand out given Bruce's current hand-cuffed predicament.

"Well, fuck," was Bruce's only response.


"Case closed."

Usually, he loved saying those words. Not tonight. Might as well have
just said, 'Thanks for your help, Fraser, have a nice life.' 

Ray closed the door, shutting out the sight of the blue-and-white with
Bruce slumped in the backseat. 

Case closed. Welsh would be so proud. Ray'd get to go back to his dumb
little life, and Fraser...Fraser'd get to go back to his. He turned and
went back into the study. Fraser was standing in the middle of the room
with his hands in his jeans pockets. Jesus, he looked good. 

Fraser rocked once on his bare feet, and said, "Good work, Ray. I think
Bruce will be quite helpful once he loses the chip on his shoulder."

Ray snorted. "Which should be right about the time he spends his *second*
night in jail." 

Fraser didn't smile, but he nodded. "A harsh lesson, perhaps, but a necessary

"Yeah. And hey, we beat the deadline by a whole week. Cool beans." 

He wondered if Fraser could hear the hollowness of the victory in his
voice. Fraser started to say something, hesitated, then cleared his throat.


"Ray, you should know that I wouldn't lie...about us...if asked. I couldn't
do that. It would never be a case of my word against his." 

No shit. He knew that. Fraser knew that. But with any luck, Bruce didn't
know it. Still, it was just the latest example of why it was good that
Fraser'd be headed home. It was for the best. Really, it was. 

He wondered how long he'd be telling himself that, and how much longer
than that it would take before he believed it. 

He walked back to his chair, stacking the unmarked blue books in one
pile, the marked ones in another, then wondered why he'd bothered. They'd
been living out some Joe College sandbox daydream, but everything Bruise
had said was true, even if he'd gotten some of the parameters wrong.
Didn't matter how well they got along -- where the hell would they live?
And how? 

"Yeah, I know. Probably just as well we're all done here."

Fraser swiveled towards him, his eyes intense. "Did what he said bother
you that much?" 

"He had a point." Did he ever. When it took a punk like that to open
Ray Kowalski's eyes wide to the world, something was seriously screwed

"You wouldn't even be willing to...try?" Fraser asked. He looked funny.
Pale. Ray thought that should've been his line, there. Thought he was
the moony one. 

"Come on, Fraser. Let's think this through. How would we *ever* make
this work in real life? Admit it -- we've been living in some fantasy
world here." 

Fraser moved toward him, not letting him look away, and then he was there,
his hands firm on Ray's biceps, filling up his whole field of vision,
filling up his world, looking him straight in the eye. 

"It's hard to predict what the future might hold, Ray, but I suppose
we'd face whatever obstacles we encounter the way we always have." 

"Which is?"


He looked at Fraser. He'd been right all along. This was a terrible idea,
getting choked up like this over Fraser, getting in this deep. How could
he possibly watch this man walk away from him? 

"Fraser, it's gonna be hard to do that if you're in Canada."

"Well, technically it's true that the Consulate is on Canadian soil,

...the hell?

"What Consulate?"

"The Consulate in Chicago."

"What about it?" He felt like he'd come into a conversation that had
already been going on for awhile, cuz he didn't have a clue what Fraser

"That's the closest I plan to get to Canada in the foreseeable future."

"Fraser, what are you talking about?"

Fraser wasn't looking pale anymore. He looked flushed, and stubborn,
and damn, Ray knew that look. That was Fraser's determined look. He'd
seen it a lot in the last couple weeks, usually followed by some touch
that drove him out of his mind. 

He backed up. Fraser stepped forward. Man, deja vu all over again. Wasn't
this where the whole crazy thing had *started*? 

"I'm sorry, Ray," Fraser said, barreling on until Ray was backed into
his habitual spot next to the mantel. "This is what I was trying to tell
you earlier this evening, and I should have told you sooner, days ago,
but I didn't know how you'd...and then we...and there just never seemed
to be the right time..." 

Amazing how much more Fraser's body told him than his mouth. Patience,
Ray. Let him work his way, he'll get there. Nope, no patience. Not this
time. His heart was pounding, and going way too fast. All of it, everything,
too fast, and still, he felt slow himself. 

"Fraser. Spit it out before I pop you one."

Fraser took a deep breath and straightened his shoulders, and he might
have looked like a Mountie if he'd had his shirt tucked in and a pair
of shoes on, but as it was, he just looked like the guy Ray kept waking
up with. 

"I've asked to be transferred, permanently, to Chicago."

Huh? What was that?


"As opposed to temporarily."

Permanently, as opposed to temporarily. That meant, shit, that meant...oh,
no way. No way could he let Fraser do that...for him. 

"But...but...I thought...Fraser, you can't."

"It's already done."

"Then undo it."


Christ, Fraser'd picked a bad time to be dense. He couldn't believe he
was having to stand there and explain to Fraser why he had to go home.

"Because you belong up there. I saw your face, Fraser. That's your *home*."

"Home is more than the space you occupy, Ray. It's where you're happy.
And I'm" 

Oh, no, no, he wouldn't do it. He would *not* give in to that scratchy
feeling in his throat and that hot feeling behind his eyes, even if it
wouldn't be the first time Fraser'd seen him bawl his eyes out. He didn't
know what to say. Had no idea what to say to that. 

Fraser was turning down wide open spaces. For him. Fraser was leaving
home and coming to...him. 

He still didn't know what to say, and so he just stood there, probably
looking like a total idiot, and stared at Fraser, blinking back the hot
stuff in his eyes, swallowing down the scratch in his throat. 

Then Fraser backed up, one little hesitant step.

"Unless you don't *want* me to...unless I've misinterpreted--"

Whoa, okay, time to reel that bad boy back in. Just cuz it was a shock
didn't mean he wasn't coming around. 

"Fraser, you didn't misinterpret anything. Like you would." 

He swallowed. Come on, Kowalski, spill it. If it all goes straight to
hell, don't let it be because you didn't have the guts to say it out
loud... "No, once I stick, I stick pretty good. You're gonna have to
pry me off, and even then I won't go quietly. Got it?" 

Fraser's eyes widened, and only then did Ray realize how tense he must
have been. Waiting. Wondering. Only then did the sheer weight of what
Fraser had been carrying make itself known. 

"I think so," Fraser said.

Like he wanted to get it, but still wasn't quite...

"Don't just think so, Fraser. Be sure."

Hard. Tough. He sounded so hard and tough, even to himself, and that
wasn't what he meant and it wasn't what he felt, but somehow Fraser seemed
to know that because his eyes and his mouth went gentle, all gentle and
glad all in a moment. 

Gentle Fraser. Mussed-up hair, so shiny it looked almost oily, even though
it never felt that way. Faded jeans. Bare feet. Sexy goddamn feet. 

Hard to believe all that was...his. Fraser was right there, not going

Fraser was his to take. His to keep. Really hard to believe that. Might
take some convincing. Might take a little time. He shook his head. Looked
like they had plenty of that now. Time. Space. Place. 

And he could look at Fraser now, really look, with no rush this time,
no gobble-it-up need, no God-we-can't desperation to color it, to cover
it, and when all that got subtracted out of the equation, what was left
was this: this beautiful Fraser, standing there, looking right back at
him, looking at him like they were twisting up the sheets already, looking
stark naked and sweaty at him, with all his clothes still on. 

Couldn't look at that and not touch, not start to take, not try to keep,
so he moved a little closer, and Fraser met him halfway, and then there
they were, together like they'd been, only better. Fraser burrowed his
head into Ray's shoulder, butting against his collarbone, and his hands
grabbed at Ray's back, digging in, holding on. 

Yeah, looked like Fraser might do some taking, too. No argument there.
No, no more arguments from his end of the deal. 

"You're really staying?" He rubbed Fraser's head with his chin, blowing
a strand of hair out of his mouth. 

"Yes," Fraser said, his voice muffled by Ray's t-shirt.

"Okay. Okay. Good."

Fraser heaved a deep breath against his shoulder and relaxed against
him, like he'd been waiting to hear that, that it was okay with Ray,
that he was okay with it. With him staying. The guy was *staying* here,
city streets, city eats, no air anywhere. 

"Um, maybe we can get up there some. Like, vacation, or whatever," he
offered. "Maybe go in summer next time." 

He felt the smile that Fraser pressed into his shirt. "That's a fine
idea, Ray." 

That helped. Made the whole 'permanent' thing not sound so...permanent.
Couldn't let the man just give it all up like that, not without even
trying to see if the other shoe might fit. So. Okay. Looked like it was
gonna turn out okay. 

But one little niggle still pricked at Ray, and he found himself asking,
"And what about the rest of it? The kid made some damned good points."

Fraser lifted his head, so Ray could see his face, and he shook Ray lightly
by the shoulders. 


We. He had to admit it sounded good.

It even sounded...possible.

Could it really be that simple? After everything he'd gnashed his teeth
over, agonizing the rights and wrongs, and ins and outs of it? Could
there possibly be a lesson that simple? 

The look on Fraser's face said yes. That was a good look, there, the
one Fraser was wearing. It was his determined look, only there was more
to it now, something warmer he'd said...happier. It said they
were starting something here, not ending it. It said this was just the
beginning of whatever they were gonna be. 



He loved that. Loved it.


The end.

Feedback would be very welcome at: and

Writers' Note:	Crysothemis has created a lovely cover graphic to accompany
the story. You can find it by pointing your browser here:
Thanks, Crys! :)