Disclaimers: "I suppose the character is public ground. If you're willing to bring it into people's houses every week, the [fans] are entitled to certain liberties, wherever their imagination is carried by those characters." -- Paul Gross, quoted in the Toronto Globe & Mail, August 8, 1998. Reason 876 why we think Paul Gross kicks almighty ass.

Acknowledgements: Big, mushy thanks and gratitude to The Craft and Kat and Crysothemis for sweet beta goodness. Thanks to Bone's hubby for the apt summary.

Notes: Careful assessment of the Bone/Aristide collaborative method has revealed a certain undeniable formula at work: swap file, add more smut, repeat. Just so you know what you're getting yourself into.

Rating: NC-17 for m/m sex in scandalous quantities, language, and some (gasp!) heteroerotic imagery.

Summary: How Ray got into Fraser's groove.

How Ray Got His Groove Back

by Aristide & Bone

April 2000

From his vantage point just at the edge of the chaos, Fraser thought the scene looked like something out of a bad movie. A "B" movie, he thought the Americans called it. Even the setting seemed almost staged: a dance club, robbed at gunpoint. The gunmen were long gone, but the hubbub they had caused remained. In the muted light, customers mingled with uniformed officers, a mirrored ball suspended over the dance floor continued to spin light in dizzying patterns, and the smell of beer and smoke hung thick in the air, all underlaid by the throbbing beat from a sound system no one but the DJ seemed to know how to turn off, and said DJ currently lay sprawled unconscious under a table weighed down with culinary atrocities apparently known as 'buffalo wings' and 'Cajun popcorn'. The EMS technician hovering under the table with him appeared to be tending to his work with one hand and filching appetizers with the other.

The whole thing made Fraser's head ache. He pinched the top of his nose, trying to clear the smoke smell from his nostrils, then blinked a couple of times. The last time he'd seen Ray, he'd been trying to calm a key witness, a petite olive-skinned brunette, who, judging by the waywardness of her sleeveless top and the way she'd leaned on Ray, had perhaps imbibed a little more than her small frame could support gracefully.

Usually, he and Ray split the list of witnesses to interview along gender lines: Ray talked to the men, while Fraser generally found that women opened up more to him. Not tonight, though. The young woman, who wasn't really that young if you looked at her face instead of her... not that he'd been looking at her... but in that blouse, what there was of it, there wasn't really much else to look at.

At any rate, she had taken one look at Fraser and gone off into gales of giggles, pointing and saying any number of things, most of which were buried under her laughter, but he caught "Hey, it's Smokey the Bear!" and "Who's the cat in the hat?" before Ray steered her off into the crowd, and he lost sight of them.

Silly to feel offended by that. Not everyone understood the meaning of his uniform, he knew that. Still, he appreciated Ray's intuitive response, leading the woman away before she said anything hurtful. More hurtful.

Of course, it was more likely that Ray's intuition had less to do with protecting Fraser's sensitivities than the fact that a half-naked (and more than half beautiful, in that rather obvious way some women had) girl was leaning on him, wrapped around him so closely that she could have reached down and pulled his socks up for him.

Fraser straightened his shoulders, dismissing that particular thought as unworthy of him. It wasn't the time, and it certainly wasn't the place. Not that there was any appropriate time and place for such... unworthy thoughts. No. A fierce, bitterly honest amendment: jealous thoughts.

Ray was his partner. And his friend.

They'd established those parameters quite nicely during Ray's temporary stint as a refugee in Canada. Whether Fraser found Ray attractive (which, with more of that bitter honesty, he felt compelled to confess that he did) was irrelevant. Ray was just another in a long line of unattainable men he'd had the misfortune to find irresistible: A hockey player. An Inuit playmate, now grown into a man. And now Ray, who had an ex-wife he still loved to distraction. An ex-wife. As in a woman. Not a man. Ray loved women. It helped, sometimes, to repeat those known facts. Logic and truth invoked their own atmosphere of comfort, whether or not those truths aligned with his own desires.

Sometimes he wondered if he did it on purpose -- choosing only the most improbable objects of desire, fixating on those least likely to be able to give him what he needed. The more out of his reach, the more he wanted them. A fairly sorry state of affairs, he had to admit, but not one to be solved on a dance floor sticky with something he'd almost prefer to think was blood, but was probably something worse.

Right. Well, first things first. The infernal noise came to an abrupt end mid-caterwaul with the expedient use of his hunting knife through the speaker wires. The mirrored ball ceased its eternal rotation after he flipped the row of switches on the wall behind the DJ's booth, and bright fluorescent light cast its sickly pall over the crowd. Without the flattering light of the... dark... the club's customers looked even sillier in their leather pants and barely there skirts and their garish make-up. He was sure Ray would have a good laugh over them later.

Or perhaps not. Now that he could see and hear, finding Ray wasn't a problem. There he was, in the corner, leaning solicitously toward the young woman, his bright head tilted down to her dark one. Fraser made his way over, his progress hampered by three mildly hysterical women who approached him from his blind side, one of whom got his attention by tucking her hand under his tunic jacket from behind and... squeezing. He decided one of the female officers might be better suited to their needs, and handed them off with a sigh of relief and without a shred of guilt.

His primary concern right now was Ray.

He found his way blocked by some tables and chairs and paused, still not close enough to hear what Ray and the woman were saying over the din, but close enough to observe them carefully. The woman had her head tilted back, exposing the long line of her throat and extravagant cleavage. She didn't look anything like Stella, but Ray leaned over her with the same protective stance Fraser had seen him exercise with his ex-wife. Did they really need to stand that close? It wasn't that loud in here. The woman laughed at something Ray said, and he leaned even closer. Were it not for the EMS personnel and the unconscious DJ, you might have thought it was just another Friday night at a club, another chance to... what was the word Ray had used once? Trawl? Troll? A mating dance, urban style. Males and females of the species, sending out their primal signals through the intricate and, to Fraser, often incomprehensible patterns of pre-coital behavior.

It seemed unlikely that Ray was actually interviewing the woman about the incident. He wasn't writing in his notebook, for one thing. For another, given the way Ray's head inclined toward the woman's chest, Fraser didn't think he was giving her testimony his full and undivided attention. He moved so he could see Ray's face. Even from this distance, he evinced all the characteristics of an animal in heat: flared nostrils, increased respiration, and, after a quick glance below Ray's belt, a discernible erection.

Fraser's eyes watered, and he inwardly cursed the smoke as he rubbed them clear. Smoke, or perhaps shame -- bad enough that he was assessing the patrons in such an unfavorable manner, but it seemed an outrageous breach of conduct to evaluate Ray through the same lens of bias and frustration. Not that that had stopped him from looking, not that that had stopped him from tormenting himself with yet another image designed to somehow simultaneously mortify and entice him.

They looked good together. Both so slender, one light, one dark. One tall, one small. He could picture Ray leaning over, nudging her ridiculous excuse for a blouse out of the way, sucking strongly at a pointed nipple. He could see the woman arch her back, thrusting forward into Ray's mouth, lifting one tanned leg over Ray's hip, grinding against his groin. He could see them writhing together, hands and mouths frantic, see Ray easing her to the floor, sliding his hands up under the abbreviated leather warmth of her skirt, then lowering his zipper and...

Abruptly, Fraser stepped back, putting physical distance between himself and the subjects of his mental lapse. Too bad he couldn't distance the burning images as quickly. He felt dizzy, too hot suddenly in the uniform he'd so recently wanted to defend, his pants tightening over his own response to his perverse thoughts. Time to move, think of something else, do something else.

He stepped forward resolutely, ready to tell Ray he was going to see if the other officers needed assistance, when Ray's whole demeanor changed: he leaned back instead of forward. His arms crossed over his chest in a classic defensive posture. The woman leaned toward him, stepping so close she blocked Fraser's view of Ray's face momentarily, then Ray stepped away from her, and Fraser could hear him say, "... for your statement. Thanks for your help."

Ray passed Fraser with a quick glance and a jerk of his head, which Fraser took to mean that he should follow him. Fraser glanced over his shoulder at the young woman, who was balanced precariously on her narrow-heeled sandals and looking wistfully after them. He wondered what she could possibly have said to cause Ray to bolt so precipitously. He tipped his hat to the young woman, then turned to follow Ray, whose long legs had taken him all the way out of the club by the time Fraser caught up with him.

"Ray? Should we... " he asked.

"Let the uniforms take it from here; we've got what we need," Ray said flatly, giving no clues to the cause of his distress other than that inward focus, that silent signal that somewhere, for some reason, Ray was in pain.

Fraser hated that. Ray upset and vocal was much easier to deal with. Ray silent and withdrawn was much, much harder, as he'd found on more than one occasion. And apparently, this occasion would be no different. Fraser hesitated, unsure what exactly he was trying to ask. Asking about his sexual response to a witness would be beyond inappropriate. The case. Yes, he could ask about the case.

"Did the witness know anything?" he asked, thinking that was as safe as anything he could think of.

Ray laughed sharply, an ugly sound. "Oh, yeah, I'm sure she knew --" He shut his mouth down on whatever else he'd planned to say, took a breath and said, "No, she doesn't think she saw anything."

"Oh," Fraser said, more confused than ever. "Perhaps when she's more rested."

"You mean more sober," Ray said.

Fraser inclined his head to the side in acknowledgement. "Did you get her name?"

Ray turned to him, his face set. "Name, phone number, where she works. Yeah, I got all that."

Ray didn't seem at all happy about that, which was... puzzling. It was perfectly obvious that Ray had been attracted to her, and quite clear that his interest had been returned. Which left Fraser only with the unaskable, and possibly unanswerable question of what had necessitated Ray's abrupt change from interested male animal to this stranger, this tense and tired man.

"Look, Fraser, it's been a long day. I've handed over my notes and I'm packing it in. You need a ride?" Ray already had his car keys out, his attention no longer on the club, or Fraser.

Fraser stopped. "No, I'll walk, thank you anyway."

"Right," Ray said. "Okay, then I'll see you tomorrow." Then he was in the car, the engine gunned, and he peeled out of the parking place, leaving a small amount of rubber behind to show he'd been there.

Fraser stood, watching him go, the turmoil of his own thoughts diverted at once with a startling ease that was nevertheless commonplace when concern for Ray surfaced. Something had upset Ray. Badly. Something to do with the woman. He thought for a moment about going back into the club, to find her and ask her to explain, but reason intervened. Interviewing witnesses about crime scenes was one thing. Interviewing them about their sexual appeal to his partner was something else entirely.

Sexual appeal. Such a strange, wondrous, unpredictable thing. He'd never been able to control his own yearnings; merely suppressing them took most of his energy without trying to actually force his desires to more appropriate targets. Maybe that was Ray's problem, too. Perhaps some uncontrollable part of him still yearned for Stella, and felt it would be a betrayal to admit attraction to another woman, especially one so different from the tall, reserved blondeness of his ex-wife.

That made sense. As much sense as anything. The last time he'd seen Ray that upset, he'd... well, really, the only word for it was 'stalked' Stella. Maybe it would be a good idea to check on Ray, make sure he was all right, that he wasn't about to do anything...ill-advised.

Yes, checking on Ray seemed prudent. With the ease of long custom, Fraser pressed down all the other reasons his headstrong heart told him he was going to Ray's, and pulled forward duty, and prudence, and reason. And instead of heading sensibly to the Consulate and his paperwork and his narrow cot, he turned in the direction Ray had sped off in, and started walking.


The answer was porn.

The answer to this godawful, never-ending ache was not a half-hammered witness to a felony, even if she did smell like gardenias and have the most beautiful tits he'd seen in person in his lifetime. Tits like that came with baggage. All he'd had to do was drag his eyes up from them to her face, to that 'I'm-interested' look in her eyes, to that lean she had, that hand looking for a place to settle on him, and he'd known she wasn't the solution to his problem. No way. No, she was just another problem waiting to happen; another heartache, heartbreak waiting to shake up his life.

One time around that block was plenty, thanks anyway.

It had taken no time at all, when he was talking to her, to go from a tight, hungry thought about how good his cock would feel sliding between those gorgeous tits to a memory of how he couldn't stop shaking in the aftermath of Stella, how the hurt went on and on until he felt weak from it, how sometimes it had been so bad that his teeth had chattered, and he'd had to clench his jaw shut until it ached.

One led to the other. Not necessarily the dick-tit thing, that was just your basic garden-variety fantasy, but all of it, the whole stinking package. You'd start out good, right, but you'd end up bad. No other way to look at it. Good ended up bad.

It made him feel like a fucking lab rat, sitting next to the food dish and slowly starving to death because, hey, he might be a lab rat but he wasn't a dummy lab rat, and he knew an electric shock when he felt one. His dick had wilted in his pants so fast that it made his head -- hell, both his heads-- spin. Pain would do that to a guy.

So no girl.

No soft, wet, warm places to explore with his tongue and dick. No long hair to grab onto, no hips to hold hard underneath him. No drag of nipples on his chest, no brush of smooth calves on the backs of his thighs, no gardenias, no tits. None of that.

Just porn. Lots of porn.

Porn was definitely the answer.

You didn't have to buy it dinner and you never had to ask afterward whether it was good or not. He was not going to be ruled by his dick. Not again. So what if it had been one year, three months and twelve days since he'd made love to anything except his own adoring right hand? He'd actually developed a callus -- and not on his hand -- from the repetition, but he wasn't going to fall for that happily-ever-after crap again. Nope. No more of that shit. His right hand was just fine. His right hand was, in fact, already, pushing his t-shirt out of the way and sliding into the stretched-out gym shorts he reserved for things like sleeping and jerking off.

Now all his left hand had to do was push 'play'. Easy enough to do.

Ray eased back into the couch cushions, just cupping himself as the tail-end of the scene he'd watched last night played out (a pair of hot nurses going down on each other and on a nearby patient, and how come whenever he went to the hospital all the nurses looked like Phyllis Diller?) The next scene started out with some kind of horrible exposition that was supposed to support the idea that fuck-movies actually came with a plot, so he hit fast-forward and watched the skidding, swift-moving images flow right by, until he got to some skin.

There. Skin. And lots of it -- the redheaded nurse in question had her uniform unzipped from throat to crotch, and was bent over a shiny wooden desk while some guy wearing just a pair of surgical scrub pants and a stethoscope gave it to her from behind. The camera angle switched every minute or so from the front view (bouncing tits, pretty face scrunched up in obvious ecstasy over the pounding she was getting) to the back view (big honkin' dick pistoning smoothly between round white cheeks, male abdominals rippling with every thrust). Ray watched and stroked lazily -- he could do this quick, of course, no problem, but this was... well, this was as much feelgood as he got these days, this was as good as it ever got -- even if it was stupid and kind of boring. It was just... all he had. And he wasn't going to rush it.

The redhead had nice lips, no doubt about that -- painted sweetly red and wet and open, curving and lush, and from between them came sounds -- groaning and moaning and whimpering like she'd never had it so good, like doc cock was just it for her, panting words now and then that Ray had for sure never heard from Stella's mouth. He watched them mindlessly, squeezing down on his cock every time she groaned, sliding his legs apart just a little further. He was... he was...

...he was sixteen years old when he'd thrown his underwear into the laundry hamper without checking, and Stella's lipstick was just the faintest shell-pink but it had been there and when his mother asked him about it he'd thought he'd die between the horrible, crushing embarrassment of that and the electrifying memory of that first touch of Stella's mouth, sweet, hesitant lollipop sucks of Stella's lips and tongue, so shy about it, so Stella...


Ray's muscles tensed and his hand stopped moving, everything rising up in one big cramp of... Jesus. Lust. Loss. Love. Pick your fucking 'L' word. He bit his lip, hard. Enough. That's enough, now. Put that away. Be done. Move on.


Ray sighed. Redhead, right. Back to the screen. Nothing but the screen. Nothing but nurse. Well, nothing but nurse and the mechanical, regular thrusts of that doctor guy. The stethoscope hanging around his neck bounced mellow time in rhythm, a distracting, stroboscopic flash, and it captured Ray's attention long enough for him to actually look at the guy's face --

Which at first was either funny or horrible, he couldn't tell which, because the guy looked kind of like an older, sleazy version of Fraser. Ray grinned reflexively, and made a mental note that, if Fraser ever mentioned a desire to grow himself a pussytickler moustache, he should tell him to think twice about it. Definitely.

It was stupid, but smiling over Fraser's sleazoid doppelganger actually somehow managed to beat back the gloom that always settled over him after one of his Stella-slips. Which was pretty amazing, and kind of cool, and let Ray get his attention back to where it belonged -- on his dick, and on the jiggle and slide of flesh moving, rippling with impact, on swaying, tight-nippled breasts, on the redhead's full-lipped, open, groaning mouth...

Which was groaning louder, now, because, whoa -- Ray fumbled off his glasses and squinted -- because Fraser was really putting it to her. If he looked at it like this. Like that.

There was a moment of confusion while he tried to figure out whether or not this was a bad thing -- there was something about the idea of sex fantasies starring your partner that just seemed... well, wrong was a good way to put it. But then a soft inner voice spoke up with an opinion that, hey, if fantasy's all you've got, it should damn well be open season. Fantasy's just... fantasy, right?

His dick twitched hard in his hand. Ray thought he could pretty much figure out where that little voice had come from.


So yeah, it was pretty weird, watching a dizzy, shifting blur of Fraser making some redheaded nurse moan out nineteen different shades of 'Jesus' -- but this wasn't what it had been before, something that was only as good as it ever got -- this was actually good. This was kind of... weirdly... hot, strokes zipping through him with each one an actual pleasure, his whole body soaking it up like he'd been starved for it, because maybe he had been. And yes, he was going to see to it that tomorrow he'd be able to look Fraser square in the face and not think about this at all, not think about Fraser's thrusts getting ragged, or squirming bodies on a smooth, shiny desk, or anything other than--

A polite knock, at the door.

Polite. Which ruled out his neighbors, or his landlady, whose pounding thuds were usually accompanied by shouts of "Turn that shit down!" and were never about porn, but always about Creed or Fuel or something else marginally musical, and always managed to add a three-dimensional rhythmic stomp to the throb he could only feel if he had it cranked that little bit too loud.

So not them. Which probably meant...

Which, really, to be honest, could only mean --

Ray whipped his hand out of his shorts. If he didn't answer the door right now Fraser was going to hear the TV, and that would be --


Lost, the remote was lost somewhere in the couch cushions, and his overheated ears seemed to be stuffed full of the moans and groans of that goddamn overacting redhead, and how the hell did he get himself into these... Jesus-- remote remote remote --

Found. He hit the button with a vengeance, and the bottom dropped out of his stomach as the volume soared up just in time for...

"That's right, you big stud, GIVE IT TO ME!! Oooooh, YEAH!!!"

"Awk," seemed to be all he could manage, but thank God there was the 'stop' button, pressed and done, blessed silence and that little stint had wilted pretty much all the enthusiasm he had to his name so he didn't have to wait any longer to go to the door, shorts and t-shirt but that would be okay, cuz he felt like he was boiling hot anyway, and besides, it was just...

He yanked the door open. Yup. There was Fraser's back, walking away.


Fraser stopped and turned around, looking a little flushed, looking guilty, shifting from one foot to the other. As Ray watched he blinked, cleared his throat. "You have company. I'm sorry. I... I came at a bad time."

Ray felt his face burn but still had to laugh. No way to stop it. "No."

Fraser's head tilted, that inquisitive tilt Ray recognized as Fraser putting together the pieces of something. "No, you don't have company?"

"No. It's, um..." He scratched his head, easing the itch of residual sweat. Talk about a rock and a hard place. Uh, no, scratch that. "It's a movie."

"A movie?"

Ray shifted, leaning on the doorway, and fought the crazy urge to smile, his own chagrin fading now that Fraser's seemed to have seen his bet and raised it. Leave it to Fraser to be shocked -- like such a thing had never occurred to him. That was pretty funny, and somehow annoying at the same time.

"Yeah, a movie. What, did you suddenly get hard of hearing or something?"

"No, Ray, I hear perfectly well."

Fraser's face was so red it looked like maybe he was boiling -- oh yeah. Good ears. No doubt about that.

Like someone had flipped a switch, Ray felt his face get hot again. He sniffed. "It's, um well, it's blue."

Fraser's eyes dropped nervously down to hip-level, then shot back up. "What is?"

"The movie," Ray said, trying not to fidget against the doorframe. "It's a blue movie."


One beat, two. He waited. Fraser just stared at him, almost smiling and flushed, looking like it all made sense to him now. Ray knew better. "You have no idea what that means, do you?"

"Well, no."

"It's the coping mechanism of the modern American male."

Ha. For once, he had Fraser looking at him the way he was forever looking at Fraser -- like there were words coming out of his mouth, but he'd be damned if they sounded like English.

"Coping... "

"With this," and Ray made the universal pull-the-hotdog motion with his hand.

Fraser just stood there, fondling his hat. That not-quite-smile looked frozen in place, and that was kind of funny, yeah, but still -- unbelievable. He'd just done the jerk-off sign in front of Fraser. Christ, he was losing it.

"Did you want something?" Ray made himself ask.

Fraser jumped a little, and Ray realized that Fraser was staring at his mid-section, where his hand had made the gesture. Jeez.

"Excuse me?"

"You at my door for any particular reason?"

He watched Fraser swallow, and watching Mr. Flustered pull himself back together gave Ray a momentary urge to go find a hot redheaded nurse and let her loose on him, just to see what would happen.

"Oh. Yes. Well... earlier, you seemed upset. I wanted to make sure you were all right."

Upset. Yeah, he had been. Felt better now, though. Still, it was pretty cool of Fraser to come by, even if he had the world's worst timing. "Yeah, yeah, I'm fine. Just, you know... " he caught himself about to use some of that universal sign-language again, but made himself stop. "C'mon in."

The air in Ray's apartment was not particularly arid, but nevertheless Fraser found that his throat was perfectly, entirely dry. He kept trying to swallow, but the result was nothing more than a parched rasp. He should ask for water, but that would entail trusting his voice, which seemed unwise. To say the least.

Part of him could only marvel at the shift in himself -- from the despondency he'd felt when it seemed clear that Ray was... engaged, to the muscle-loosening weakness and heat that had set in as soon as he understood that Ray had simply been... indulging himself. And apparently doing so without a significant amount of shame; despite the blush, Ray had been entirely forthcoming. Most likely, regardless of the fact that he'd known Ray Vecchio for two years without ever encountering the topic, this was yet another one of those American forms of casual behavior that he would need to adjust to.

At the moment, that seemed entirely beyond his abilities.

Ray entered the living room from the kitchen and wordlessly handed Fraser a glass of cool water, reaching for Fraser's hat at the same time and tossing it on the table. Fraser nodded his thanks, drank so deeply he felt like he was being irrigated, and found that he could speak, now. "Thank you, Ray."

"Welcome. No problem." Ray sank onto the couch, sighing. "C'mon, sit down, okay? I'm gonna strain my neck looking up at you like that."

Fraser wanted to sit down. Wanted very much to settle onto the couch next to Ray, and perhaps surreptitiously admire in closer proximity what he'd already coveted from a distance -- the fine, golden hairs on bared thighs, the substantial swell of fabric (just one thin layer, washed and faded to a comfortable-looking softness) between them. He wanted that. However, he had arrived unannounced, and although when Ray had invited him inside he'd accepted automatically, it wouldn't do at all to forget what he'd come over for. "I shouldn't... I didn't mean to intrude on you, Ray. I just wanted to make sure that you were all right, and obviously, you are. I certainly don't want to--"

"She asked me if I was married."

Fraser hesitated. "I beg your pardon?"

"That woman, the woman at the club. She asked me if I was married."

If there was a conclusion he was supposed to draw from that disclosure, he wasn't at all sure that he'd grasped it. "And that... disturbed you?"

Ray scowled. "Will you sit down, Fraser? I'm not gonna bite you."

Which was, of course, simply another in a long line of disappointments, although it wouldn't do to say so. He sat gingerly on the couch beside him, and forced himself to look at Ray's face. And only that.

"She asked me if I was married," Ray repeated, still scowling. "And she didn't back off any when she asked it. That means one of two things -- either she's looking to get married herself, or she's got a thing for doing married guys and that's just trashy. Either way, I do not want a piece of that. Well, I mean, I wanted a piece, but I... screw it. You get it now, Fraser?"

"I believe I do, Ray." Indeed, he did. And part of him couldn't help being proud of Ray for acting with such integrity, even though it was painful to think of Ray being frustrated. "You're not interested in remarrying, then?"

Ray's face darkened, and Fraser immediately regretted asking the question. "I've been married, Fraser. I was married to the one woman I ever loved, and it didn't work out even though I wanted it to, needed it to. No. I'm done. No more marriage, no more love. Me and love are quits."

That seemed terribly sad, given Ray's innately loving nature. He would have liked to say something about how sorry he was that Ray and Stella hadn't been able to resolve their differences, how there was undoubtedly someone out there who could make him happy, but with Ray in this strange and volatile mood it was more than likely that he might hit a nerve, no matter how diplomatically he framed his words. "I understand."

Ray looked at him intently, as if he were assessing Fraser's statement for more than the words it contained, then shrugged. "So, you know, I'm okay. I mean, yeah, I feel like I'm half-crazy sometimes, but I can, uh, there's always..." An eloquent hand gesture -- not the same one that had nearly melted him out in the hallway, but evocative nevertheless.

No love. Just...release. Self-induced release. Fraser felt something tight and achy in his chest at the thought of Ray cutting himself off from not just the potential for a lasting relationship with a woman, but even the momentary pleasure of a... liaison, as if any physical lapse would automatically lead to emotional collapse. Perhaps, given his history, he had reason.

Fraser cleared his throat. "Hence the...coping mechanism. I understand." Compulsively he reached for his water, and drank some. It seemed important to acknowledge this and then move on, hopefully quickly -- he'd cut his visit short, and reserve his private meditations on Ray's 'coping mechanism' and all the attendant details for a time when he was in bed, and alone.

Ray grinned, and the lines in his forehead smoothed away as if they'd never been there. "Yeah. Hence that. You ever seen a porn movie, Fraser?"

Through a herculean struggle, Fraser managed not to spray water all over the both of them. He swallowed convulsively. "I... That is... well, I've..." He coughed, aware that his eyes had begun to water. "Not as such, Ray, no."

"'Not as such'? What's an 'as such', Fraser, some kind of Canadian thing? Either you have or you haven't."

It was perfectly normal, he reminded himself sternly, perfectly reasonable to discuss this. That American casualness. Which felt, right now, like it just might cause him to explode. "Well, I've seen... various health-oriented filmstrips, which were designed to impart knowledge of procreation, human sexuality, and the associated risks thereof--"

There was no point in continuing, because Ray was in the grip of laughter so violent that it shook the couch beneath them. He supposed it would be easy to take exception to Ray's response, but the truth of the matter was that it was good to see Ray laughing, even if it was at his own expense.

"Oh, Fraser, Jesus," Ray said eventually, pulling up the hem of his t-shirt to wipe his eyes and thereby giving Fraser a momentary but compelling glimpse of the smooth skin of his stomach. "That hurts, but it feels so good, you know? Oh jeez..." There were a few moments of what sounded like sniffling, and then Ray was blinking at him with tired but exceedingly bright eyes. "Okay, Fraser. Don't say I never did anything for you, all right? Hand me the remote."

"Ray, I don't... I'm sure that's not... I... oh, dear." He had no idea of what to say to that, none. While the idea of viewing a pornographic film had no appeal at all, the idea of watching Ray and Ray's possible responses was... well, nearly irresistible. And probably extremely ill-advised.

"Consider it like, educational, or something. Just like those f-filmstrips, Fraser --" here Ray appeared to be struggling to not break down into further laughter. "Like research of customs. Something. So make like a normal American guy and gimme the remote."

The darkest of temptations stirred in his blood, his loins, wicked and intriguing. And that was the danger -- that he wouldn't be able to get through this without divulging... something; that the lure of Ray's proximity would ultimately prove too much. "Ray," he began in the most reasonable voice he could find, but, perhaps not surprisingly, Ray seemed immune to reason and simply leaned over him, hands wandering aimlessly -- groping, touching -- in search of the remote. "Ray!"

"S'okay, I got it." And Ray sat up as if nothing was amiss, as if he hadn't just pressed himself firmly down into... Fraser's... lap...

Above the thundering rush of his own heartbeat Fraser heard a distant click and whirr, and before he could deal with the shock of being abruptly, painfully erect inside his pants there was another shock as Ray's hand slipped over his eyes, blinding him. He gasped softly. "Whoops -- hang on, Fraser. I forgot, I gotta... I gotta fast forward this one scene, and then we're good to go."

"Why?" he heard himself ask, although he didn't feel his lips move. He felt nothing but Ray's hand -- hard, callused, warm -- over his eyes. Ray's right hand. Probably the hand Ray used to --

"Um... there's... uh... it's a bad camera angle. You wouldn't like it."

While that was undoubtedly true, it also seemed completely clear that Ray was lying for some reason. Curiosity was utterly beyond him at the moment, however; at least, any curiosity that didn't pertain to how Ray's hands might feel on other parts of his body. "I see."

"I hope not," Ray muttered, and then Ray's hand was gone. Ray was grinning, settling back into the couch cushions, and Fraser heard a woman's voice say, "Oh, Doctor, how can I ever thank you for saving my sister's life?", and Ray said, "Three-way, her and the sister. Betcha," and then some appallingly bad music started playing, and then Fraser was... lost. Watching Ray.

Ray glanced at him, then pointed at the screen. "C'mon, Fraser, look -- nurses and doctors and stuff. Something to keep your mind off what they're doing to you next time you land in the hospital."

Forcing his head to turn took incredible effort. And not really worthwhile effort, as it turned out, because after a few seconds of staring unseeingly at a blur of images he didn't want to look at, his head turned right back as if of its own volition, towards something he did.

Ray appeared to be absorbed, still faintly grinning, chewing absently on the edge of one thumbnail. His eyes were heavy-lidded and sultry, and Fraser hoped Ray was too focused on the screen to see him shiver.

Moans, cries, ecstatic gasps of 'Oh, Doctor!', and none of it seemed real, all of it an unnecessary soundtrack to his own private dramatization playing out before him, watching Ray stretch, relax his thighs so that they lay open... open... watching the bulge at Ray's crotch as it stirred, swelled, grew... he was dizzy, absolutely dizzy, and so hot, far too hot for this. He wouldn't be able to stand this much longer. He couldn't imagine how he would feel if it stopped.

Ray glanced at him, and for a moment Ray almost looked... sheepish. "You look like you're about to pop a vessel there, Fraser." He shifted restlessly, and Fraser nearly groaned aloud. "I guess I... you're hating this, aren't you?"

No way to equivocate -- not when he felt this passionately. "No. No, I'm not." Let Ray make of that what he would.

Ray didn't seem to know what to make of that, but eventually he shrugged and turned back to the screen, and Fraser got back to the business of observing Ray in an aroused state.

It was an easy, simple trick of the mind to translate what he saw into something that was not stolen, but freely given -- Ray, hard and wanting, waiting for his touch, waiting for him. Relaxed, boneless Ray, sprawled out in lazy indolence and taking his pleasure from Fraser, finding warmth and comfort and satisfaction of every hunger from Fraser's mouth, hands, body. Ray's sleepy head on a shared pillow, Ray's fine hands dragging his head forward for a deep kiss, then sleepily tugging him down under a haven of blankets to the dark, to where Ray wanted him. Ray in his mouth, Ray thrusting in, and finding release there, and moaning -- Ray staring at him.

Ray was staring at him. Right now.

Fraser dragged his gaze back to the screen.

From the corner of his eye, he saw Ray do the same.

Fraser swallowed, and attempted to get his breathing back under control.

Ray shifted again, as if he couldn't find a comfortable position.

And it was that movement, he told himself, that drew his eyes, but whatever it was it was true that he was back to watching Ray again, and Ray appeared to be fully, hugely erect inside his thin shorts, perfectly outlined in faded cotton. A stray thought crossed his mind and he wondered if Ray's pubic hair was blonde, and that seized him, shook him, a tumultuous but silent spasm of want that occupied him entirely until he realized that Ray was staring at him again.

He met Ray's eyes. All his own fears, all that terrible deep wanting and blissfully wicked lust, he knew all of that had to be written incontrovertibly on his own face; he could feel it. And he saw Ray's eyes spring wide with sudden comprehension, sudden awareness, and something in him tightened down, braced for whatever disastrous consequences were now his due.

But Ray only blinked once, and then looked back at the screen, his face carefully blank, and apparently unseeing.

His heart, his heart was out of control now, because some part of him that usually remained deeply, justly buried had now sprung forth with a vengeance, at a terrible cost for what had been a lifetime of restraint and...his hand was moving...toward Ray.

Ray, his face still smoothly calm, taut with something that might have been anticipation, or watchfulness, or dread, blinked. And Fraser's hand was still moving, across the couch cushion neutral zone between them, and then beyond.

Easy, it was easy because he was drawn there, all he had to do was relax his own control the smallest bit and his hand just went, settling gently on smooth, hard, overheated flesh left laughably vulnerable by the meager shield of cloth, just holding. Only holding. He heard his own sucked-in breath faintly, distantly.

Ray turned to him as slowly as if moving through water. Fraser met his eyes again, everything in him racing, pulsing; trying to be prepared once more for the unknown, unimaginable penalty doled out for this kind of... transgression.

Ray looked down into his own lap, to Fraser's hand. Fraser felt a powerful twitch under his palm, and gasped again.

Ray looked up at that and licked his lips. "Uh-oh."

Fraser tensed. "What?"

Ray shivered, arched a little, drew in a deep breath... and came, hot spurts wetting down his shorts, allowing Fraser to feel the heat and strength of him all the more clearly.

"Oh," Fraser said calmly, and then started to shake.

What... the fuck... just happened?

One minute he was watching two girls play swivel stick on the good doctor's eight-incher -- safe, because the camera never, not once, panned above the guy's waist, like it knew the real appeal there wasn't the pussytickler moustache but the Wadd-esque club down below, and how sad was it that he'd seen so many of these stupid flicks that he could predict where the blowjob scenes were? -- one minute he'd been watching two pink tongues licking and slicking, and the next minute he'd looked up, just to see how Fraser was doing, see that wide-eyed Canadian thing going on, only that wasn't what was going on.

Not at all. Fraser wasn't even looking at the screen. Fraser wouldn't know one of those tongues if it came off-screen and licked him on the... Fraser wasn't paying any attention at all. Fraser was looking at him. Wide-eyed, yeah, he was that, all right. And flushed red, like Ray thought any guy would be on his first look at a porno flick, and probably hard, though he couldn't tell that just by looking, not that he was looking, but the jacket was too thick to tell, even if he had been looking, which he wasn't...

But Fraser was looking at him and doing the wide-eyed, red-faced, probably hard thing.

Looking at him, stretched out in his porn-mode and, aw Christ, he should have pulled his t-shirt down, would've been something, some protection... but no, there he was, stiff in his shorts, and it wasn't like he could hide that; hadn't been able to since he reached down one day in early pubescent amazement and found a new best friend. No, there wasn't any hiding that, and the thought that he was sitting there, with Fraser right there next to him, and that he was hard, and Fraser could see that...

Then it was sort of like Fraser was the guy from the movie, only without the moustache, and Ray was the hot-to-trot redhead just begging for it, because he didn't turn away, or turn the damn movie off, or lift up his leg to hide his hard-on, or anything like that. He just sat there, trying to remember to look at the screen, letting Fraser look at him like he was the porn.

Looking at him... with his eyes lit up like Ray had never seen, full to the brim with some kind of feeling that Ray wasn't sure he'd ever seen before. Maybe Stella'd looked at him like that, back in her petal-pink lipstick days, before she got all lawyery, with plum-raisin color on her mouth that he wasn't supposed to muss once she got it how she liked it. Maybe Stella had looked at him once or twice like that, too long ago to remember. So long that he forgot what it could do to him, a look like that, full of...

Sex. Not flirtation, not potential interest, not casual checking out -- sex. Do-me-do-me-do-me sex.

Fraser looked like he was thinking about... sex. Which should have been the point, they were looking at porn, right, but not the way he was doing it. Fraser looked like there wasn't anything on the screen that was anywhere near as interesting as Ray's face, Ray's... and then his hand had moved, slow, so slow Ray could have pulled away anytime. Could have, but didn't.

Didn't move at all until Fraser had his hand there, warm and firm, five long fingers and the curve of his palm right there on him, pressing, holding. Fraser, holding his dick through his shorts. Even then, his only move had been one, sharp, involuntary twitch, as his already hard dick swelled impossibly, his balls crowding up, like they wanted that hand on them, too.

Uh-oh, he'd thought. No, fuck it all, he'd said it out loud. Had to have, because Fraser said, "What?" and it sounded like he was really far away, which was crazy, because Fraser's hand on his dick was still attached to his arm, and his shoulder, shoulder-bone-connected-to-the-neck-bone, so how far away could he be? And then it was just too late, way too late, to do anything but suck in a breath, let his back arch like it wanted to and just come all over himself, and his shorts, and that big hand of Fraser's in his lap.

So... what...the fuck... just happened?

His heart was just about to kill him, it was pounding so hard, and his dick was still squirting out dribbles of come, so goddamn happy to have a hand on it besides his own that it couldn't seem to stop coming. Usually, he had the presence of mind to drop trou before succumbing to the one-eyed bandito's selfish wants. Not this time. This time he had a big spreading wet spot vaguely the shape of Australia.

He'd just come on Fraser. Sort of. Maybe a big hole would open up on the floor, suck him in and save him the trouble of having to ever look Fraser in the face again. He'd been worried enough about picturing Fraser giving it hard to some nameless redhead from behind; but this was...so much worse.

The spark of reality flared brighter. Now that the show was over, the show on the couch anyway -- the sisters were still raking Doc's coals over there on the TV screen -- he felt, well, kind of like he always felt afterward. Relaxed and tense at the same time, like he hadn't really gotten enough. He was a little surprised, frankly, that it didn't feel all that different. Like someone else's hand (some guy's hand? Fraser's hand?!?) making him come should have felt more different.

His dick had known so little in the way of variety. His hand. Stella's. And her mouth, and her warm, tight pussy. Twenty years of those four things, and really, the last three had pretty much dried up a while ago. Pussy, sometimes. Her hand, late at night, when he couldn't stop himself from bugging her and she was too tired for the whole enchilada. Her mouth? Hardly ever anymore, not after college, when it still seemed sort of daring and hip to go down on your boyfriend in the bathroom of a bar, getting off more on doing it there than on just doing it.

He knew guys who kept track of the women they'd slept with on gym lockers and notebooks and honest-to-God notches on the bedpost. He'd have the most pristine bedpost in all of Chicago. Just one little notch.

One cut.

Now he'd have a matching one on the other side. Couldn't really count Fraser the same way, could he? If he were counting, which seemed crazy... counting one, two... it didn't exactly require higher math. Now he'd have to add Fraser's hand to that very short list. Did it count if Fraser hadn't touched his skin? Hadn't really even done anything to him?

The shivers still playing out over his skin told him hell, yeah, it counted. So maybe this wasn't exactly like he usually felt afterwards -- because instead of the aggravated relief of 'hey, cool, the dick still works, now what's on TV?', there was a whole bunch of... something, all mixed up and jumbled together, something that started with 'what the fuck' and ran right on through to 'hand good. want more'. His skin didn't much care who touched it, or why; just how often, and when would it happen again? Fuck. He lifted a hand that had a fine tremor to it, fumbled for the remote and cut off the sisters mid-squeak. In the silence, he could hear his pulse in his ears, his ragged breathing, obscene in the quiet. From Fraser, he couldn't hear a thing.

He shifted restlessly. The puddle inside his shorts had started to congeal in his pubic hair, the welcome, easing warmth stealing into cold and clammy. When he moved, so did Fraser, and for the first time he realized that Fraser had basically frozen in place. Fraser had seized right up. Probably freaked him the fuck out. Probably ought to think of something... anything... to say.

He took a breath, but before he could even begin to shuffle his thoughts around until something close to appropriate came to the front, Fraser's hand moved... again. Moved up, under his t-shirt, spreading warm damp fingers on his belly.

Below his wet waistband, his cock stirred sleepily. A mellow beat of warm-warm-warm-touching-so-gentle-warm started up from somewhere inside and just made itself at home, and that was nice but at the same time it was also pretty damn scary, and before he knew it he'd stiffened up, in a couple of different ways.

"Ray... " Fraser's voice sounded rough, like it was rusty.

"Don't," Ray murmured. Whatever it was, he didn't want to hear it. Wasn't really Frasertalk time, was it? Okay, so maybe Fraser'd done something a bit outside the Mountie lines; he still wasn't the one who'd introduced the wonder of porn to a cultural virgin and then come all over himself. Besides, that hand felt... that new hand, that third hand ever on his skin, felt... oh, shit...

... like it wasn't moving anymore.

It took a lot for Ray to turn his head, to look at Fraser. He wondered what Fraser saw in him, no, wait, not that. He wondered what Fraser was seeing in him right this very second, what his face said. Surely he could tell by the wet spot and the shaking thing his body continued to do that "don't" didn't mean "stop."

Fraser sat still as a statue, with one hand still snuck up Ray's shirt, the other braced against the back of the couch. Above the tight collar of his uniform, his face was bright red, and Ray could see little beads of sweat at his temples. He didn't seem to have noticed that the TV had gone blank. Fraser was totally focused on him, pinning him there with just the weight of his eyes and that big, hot hand.

Fraser, too, seemed to be shivering. The good kind of shivering.

Fraser... wanted him.

Fraser wanted him. That look, that sexy, achy look he was still wearing, had nothing to do with porn, and everything to do with him.

God, the shit you never knew about people. He'd never have believed his Gold Coast girl would get wet for a career instead of bridge clubs and rugrats. And he'd never have believed his buttoned-up partner would ever, under any circumstance he could imagine, voluntarily put his hand... there.

And he would never have believed how much he wanted Fraser to go right back to it, put his hand there again, touch him again.

Ray turned, just a little, so the hand slid a few inches on his skin, leaving a warm trail glowing behind it. He liked that, so he did it again, twisting from side to side under Fraser's steady hand, warmth gliding down into his groin and up to his face, radiating from that stroked place on his stomach.

"Don't say anything," he managed to get out, and waited to see Fraser's hesitant nod before he closed his eyes, dropped his head back onto the couch and put his hand over Fraser's, moving it back to his crotch, but under the shorts this time, inside the swampy mess where his dick had decided once and for all that someone else's hand beat that same old Ray hand, well... hands down.

Fraser's hand went easily, eagerly. Certainly more eagerly than Stella's in recent memory, more eagerly than his own hand earlier on. God, how long had it been since his dick had been touched with any kind of genuine enthusiasm? So no matter that it was Fraser's hand wandering around down there, somehow it still managed to be righter than anything else he'd felt in awhile.

It took the rest of him about a minute, no, make that half a minute to catch up, to push aside random thoughts about how weird it was to be doing this, with Fraser, how odd it was that he'd only ever thought of Stella, and the occasional bimbo, while doing the necessary. He wondered briefly how long he'd been paying attention to the men in the skinflicks, and the size of their dicks, and whether their faces looked like... Fraser's, with or without a moustache, without even knowing he did it, getting off as much on the money shots as he did on the widespread thighs of the bimbo of the moment.

Then he was there, all of him, from sweaty hair to curled toes, finally focusing on Fraser with the same intensity Fraser had focused on him. Fraser's hand had done that eagerness one better, had taken the cue and now cradled his half-hard erection gently, squeezing the tip from time to time, stroking the damp length of him rhythmically until Ray lifted into the touch, rocking up into that strange, familiar hand.

Ray gave up trying to control either heart rate or breathing, deciding if he stroked out, Fraser probably knew CPR, or at the very least how to dial 911, and tried not to think of the implications of Huey and Dewey arriving at his apartment to find him awash in spunk and mostly dead, with Fraser's dripping hand still on the cordless phone.

Crazy thoughts, crazy. The whole thing was crazy. But good. Crazy good. He was letting this... letting this happen. This crazy-but-good thing.

He guessed Fraser had finally bought a clue, because he had both hands on him now, tugging his shirt up until Ray lifted his arms and let it be taken from him, pulling down his shorts until most of the sopping mess now lay trapped in cloth on the floor instead of in his lap. Then he was naked, with Fraser in full uniform moving between his thighs, kneeling in front of him, spreading his legs wide open, and that flash, the picture in his head, and then the reality of it before his eyes, took his half-hard erection and pumped it up to its full, throbbing stretch startlingly fast.

Alarmingly fast.

"Fraser--" he got out, fighting with words in one direction, while his body slid and spread on the couch in a big old 'fuck-you' to anything his mouth might have to say--

And he'd never seen Fraser's eyes like that, a bit past the wide-eyed stage now -- wide-eyed was getting eaten alive by something fierce, something wanting... "Can I?" Fraser said, so soft and hungry. "Ray, can I... "

It was too late now, once again way too late to do anything but let it happen, let his own hands reach out finally, touching Fraser's hair for the first time, then his cheekbone, then his mouth. He pulled before he knew it, pulled Fraser's head toward him, toward his yearning cock, and he should have closed his eyes then but Fraser made a quiet, happy-sounding noise and then he couldn't, couldn't close out the sight of Fraser's tongue darting out, tasting him, tasting the come smeared into his pubic hair, the loose skin of his balls, lifting one with his good, strong tongue, balancing it for a minute before moving on to the other one.

Back and forth, up and down, above and below, everywhere but on his dick, until he thought he'd scream, or worse, cry, or even worse, come again, and then Fraser was there, wet mouth taking him in, tongue doing that tasting thing way down on him, way down inside; down farther than Stella's little mouth could take him, down a big, wide, man's throat, down, and with a convulsive swallow, down some more, until he could feel Fraser's lips right at the base of his cock. In. Inside. Deep inside. He rocked up helplessly; wondered, wildly, if Fraser did have a moustache, whether it would make this feel any better, then decided nothing could make this feel better than it already did.

He revised his opinion five seconds later, when, with his entire length snugly compressed in the tightest, hottest place it had been in years, he felt Fraser start to suck. "Jesus!"

No porn-star cool here, for sure. No cool at all because that was so good, good enough to take over his body and jolt something straight through him that was kind of like a shock and kind of like what had happened to him on those few, unhappy occasions when he'd been kicked in the nuts -- it was that intense, only not pain, it was the opposite of pain, it was just way more goodness than his body had been ready for. So there was some part of him that knew that he was clutching Fraser's hair much too tightly, and being way too pushy about thrusting hard and fast, getting while the getting was good, but God he couldn't get enough, couldn't stop, couldn't do a single goddamn thing except fuck Fraser's mouth and groan.

The need... the need was an old friend, familiar; but giving in to it was not. Fraser slurped, sucked, swallowed, and Ray pushed and pulled and panted, and both of them were acting like a couple of fucking animals who should never have been let out of their cages -- but even that felt good right now. He realized his head was shaking back and forth, over and over like 'no' but it was 'yes' all the way, no letup, no teasing. No trying to find the right rhythm because the right rhythm had found him, the right rhythm had him, had him tingling all over and shivering and shocked by the knowledge that he was going to come again really fucking soon.

So he looked down, lining up the words in his mind so that he'd be able to actually say them rather than just grunt some warning sounds, but all that came out was a long, drawn-out noise that didn't sound anything like any of what he'd meant to say. Fraser... it felt like Fraser had at least ten inches of tongue hidden away in that proper mouth of his, and every single inch seemed to be wrapped tight around him, a slick, wet, throbbing squeeze. Fraser's eyes were wide open, and he looked... he looked like... Fraser... liked doing what he was doing, that much was clear.

That made his heart spike almost painfully, and while there was some kind of background noise going on -- some distant voice blithering something about how he needed to get his dick out of Fraser's mouth before he completely lost it -- that was nowhere near enough noise to distract him from the wild, explosive pleasure of watching Fraser take it. His own hands were clenched white, holding hard in dark, silky hair while he rocked, circled, plunged in and out so deeply it wrenched him, somehow -- undiscovered country, outlaw territory -- and there was no way, no way he was going to be able to stop.

"Can't. Stop --" but Fraser just grunted out something that sounded like gratitude and that was it, game over, everything in his body seized up in one massive spasm of uncontrollable pleasure and everything -- from his wildly tossing head to his cramped, curled toes -- went with it. He was going with it, going purely crazy with his cock pulsing and twitching, spurting all over... ooh... right over Fraser's hot tongue, rubbing himself right there and moaning until the last shudders and twinges died away.

"God...damn." It hurt to say it because his head was arched so far back that he could barely breathe, but it needed to be said anyway. At least, he felt like he needed to say it -- what else was there to say, really?

"Mmm," Fraser hummed in amiable-sounding agreement, and wham just like that Ray felt every bit of what he'd put off in the name of lust catch up to him all at once: shock, and something that didn't know whether it wanted to be guilt or euphoria, and a goodly helping of pure embarrassment. If he hadn't been wrung out like a limp, damp rag he would have cringed, or grabbed for his shorts, anything. As it was all he could do was pant and shiver. Oh, and -- he could let go of Fraser's head, finally, but when his hands fell away he could still feel quite a few silky strands in each: Fraser could blame him for the bald spots. Great.

Random words floated through his mind, all the possibilities of what he could say now, every one rejected because it wasn't right -- there probably was no right thing to say. Everything from 'you learn that at the Mountie Academy?' to 'what the hell did you just do?' -- none of that quite covered it. In the end, he went with the statement which wasn't maybe the loudest, but definitely took the 'most panicked' trophy: "I like women, Fraser."

He dragged his head back up in time to catch a look of concern settling over Fraser's face -- that was a Fraser he knew, taking the place of that good-looking stranger with the wicked eyes. "Of course, I'm... I'm aware of that, Ray."

Fraser didn't sound hurt, and he didn't look hurt, but somehow Ray got it that he was hurt, anyway. His mouth opened before he knew it was going to. "But I really... um... I mean, I liked... what you just did. I liked it."

Fraser blushed. Jeez -- the guy had just given him the blow-job of the century without a second's hesitation, and now he was blushing. "I'm glad. "

Okay. Okay. Things were starting to settle a little, now, and the world was the world again instead of some weird place where everything went screwy. There was something familiar going on, something going on with Fraser that Fraser wasn't talking about, but Ray got it anyway because he knew that one, he'd been there so often they should have put his name over the door...

Bottom line, it went like this: I want you, and it hurts me to want you because I know I shouldn't, but I just can't stop.

"Come up here, Fraser. Sit down." This wasn't about how weird it was that Fraser wanted... whatever it was that he wanted, this was about that 'can't stop' feeling. This was about the kind of panic and pain that had been the worst thing Ray had ever gone through, and about how he wasn't going to do that to somebody... didn't want to... he wasn't Stella. That was all.

Fraser moved slowly, and settled himself on the couch stiffly, as if he was hurting. Right away Ray's eyes were drawn to the flap of tunic over Fraser's lap. Yeah, the guy was probably hurting, all right. He swallowed, hesitated for one moment, decided that all hesitation was going to do for him was make this into a bigger deal than it really was, and reached for Fraser's pants.


Fraser had a grip that felt strong enough to crush iron, but let his wrist go right away when he shook it off. "Easy, Fraser. Just... just take it easy, okay? I'm... I got it."

That look in Fraser's eyes -- he knew that one, too, from the other side. That was the look of a guy who knew he was getting some pity-petting and hated it, but didn't have what it took to turn it down. A miserable, horny, desperate look -- and on Fraser, who had never seemed to be any of the three, that look was pretty damn strange. "I got it," Ray said again, and eased his hand back under the tunic. Fraser shivered a little and his brows drew down into something that was almost a scowl, but although his hands twitched, he didn't stop him this time. Ray wished there was more he could say -- something, anything that might ease that edge of misery -- but really, there was nothing. He was, after all, just doing this... well, out of friendship, really, and because fair was fair, and there was no use in pretending otherwise. Sure, he could always take a cue from a certain redheaded nurse and start moaning about how he needed that big Mountie cock, ooh, yeah, give it to me... but there was zero chance he could do it with a straight face. His lips twitched, and he realized he could barely think it with a straight face. So that wasn't an option.

"It's okay," he said, and that was true -- surprising, but true. This was okay with him. So he didn't waste any time messing around or teasing or giving himself a chance to freak, he just groped around in Fraser's lap until he found a way in. It had been a long, long time since he'd tried to undo someone else's clothes one-handed, so yeah, that took a while, but Fraser just kept breathing and giving him that sad look and not getting twitchy on him, so that was okay.

And then he was in, and digging under stiff, starched fabric towards something warm. His heart took a flying leap, and a little voice asked him what the hell he thought he was doing, but he barely noticed because Fraser bit his lip at the same moment that Ray found something not warm but hot, silky and hot, and he and Fraser drew in identical deep breaths like neither one of them could help it and then they were off and running.

Big guy. Big hot guy. Maybe he should have tried a few of those nurse-isms after all -- Fraser seemed like the perfect candidate for it, and it was no stretch to imagine that a woman would have to be pretty damn happy about getting into these itchy Mountie pants... Or... or a guy, he supposed, and that brought up a question and he asked it without thinking. "You... like guys?" Well, duh, Ray. Try it like a fact, not a question. "You like guys."

"I like you, Ray," Fraser said softly, and Ray had to smile at that. When he did Fraser's eyes flashed dark again -- back to that handsome-devil look that had seemed so strange before. But maybe he was getting used to it now because yeah, that was still Fraser, and Fraser looked better like that than when he was being damn miserable, so Ray just let himself smile and gave Fraser a little squeeze.

"I didn't know that," he said, starting to get into the squeeze-release thing. Knew that move like the back of his hand. "I mean, about the liking guys thing."

Fraser shifted, then stilled, his fingers digging into the couch cushions. "I didn't intend for you to know," he said through clenched teeth.

Ray knew now, though. Boy, did he know. Wasn't any mistaking that for something else. Wasn't anything else you could call it when one guy blew another guy. He was still trying to decide whether to have a 20/20 hindsight panic attack about that or just get over it when he must have hit on some good rhythm there on Fraser's dick, because everything on him stiffened up to match it.

"Oh, my." Fraser's teeth were giving his bottom lip another workout, and hey, this was actually kind of fun, watching Fraser try to keep himself all still and quiet, watching Fraser put up a good fight... that he couldn't possibly win. Wouldn't win, if Ray and his trusty hand had anything to say about it.

A long, twisting stroke from the bottom up, which was how he liked it, and Fraser made some sort of controlled grunt which probably meant that he liked it just fine, but still, it felt different. It was different. Hard, rock-hard, but... looser skin.

"You uncut?" he asked as his mouth ran away from his brain once more. Fraser blinked at him twice, uncertain, but nodded and blushed a little after Ray rephrased the question to, "Uncircumcised?"

"Take your pants off, Fraser." Right away, Fraser got wide-eyed on him again. Ray swallowed and felt his face get hot, but hell -- it wasn't like he could take it back or anything. "C'mon -- I'm sitting here buck naked, right? So even it up. I want to, uh, I wanna see what I'm dealing with."

Ray let Fraser go with a little see-you-later pat, and watched Fraser struggle out of his boots and pants while he took a little mind-trip on the fact that hey, here he was, waiting for his best friend to get out of his clothes so that he could check out his big uncut dick and then get him off. The only really disturbing part of it was the fact that he hadn't run out of the room screaming yet.

To his surprise, Fraser didn't bother with folding his pants, but just left them at the foot of the couch, piled on top of the boots. When Fraser finally sat back Ray fought off a smile -- here he'd gotten himself all nerved up to look at Fraser naked, but Fraser still had the damn tunic on and... well, the big-and-hot parts were still hiding out under there, in a way that was more funny than sexy.

"This too," he said, tugging on Fraser's sleeve. Thankfully Fraser didn't stall anymore -- just one piercing, inquisitive look and then Fraser was stripping down, bit by bit, so many layers and buckles and snaps that it seemed like a miracle that the guy didn't suffocate under there.

There. Naked Fraser. Naked, horny Fraser. Naked, horny, nervous-looking Fraser, somehow still as rigid and proper as he was when he was fully clothed.

Okay. Ray took a deep breath, and looked. Broad chest. Nice nipples. Pink. Muscles. Good skin. Strange, half-hungry, half-terrified look on that handsome face, the only part that should have been familiar but actually wasn't, not wearing that expression. Ray fell back on his tried-and-true standby. "It's okay, Fraser."

Fraser swallowed visibly, nodded, and looked very much like he didn't believe Ray for a second. Ray could fix that. He reached out, keeping eye contact with Fraser until his hand had gotten situated, and then looked down.

So that's what an uncut dick looked like. Not that different, except for the fact that his hand was wrapped around it -- that was pretty damn different, all right. He stroked a little, found that it was better to pay attention to how that extra skin slid around than it was to pay attention to the fact that this wasn't his dick his hand was getting friendly with, and settled down into a slow rhythm. Up. Pause. Down. Squeeze. Up, twisting a little. Pause and squeeze. Down again --

Fraser's legs were shaking. Just a little tremor, not a big deal, but it zinged him anyway because that too was familiar -- when it was really good, when he really wanted it, his legs did that. It brought his head up to look at Fraser's face again, and then...

...Everything seemed to slide into place all at once -- touching Fraser, and it was kind of a shock that it hadn't occurred to him before but yeah, he hadn't just missed being touched, he'd missed touching, too, he'd missed that, missed doing this thing and that thing and seeing heat and pleasure spread out on someone else's face.

It was... a rush. A helluva rush. It was a whole other kind of satisfaction, a kind he never got when it was just him and his hand and the screen, and that was too bad because...

He squeezed, flicked the tip of Fraser's cock with his thumb, heard the resulting gasp, and felt Fraser push just a bit into his hand, like that. Like that.

...Because he'd missed it. Oh yeah.

Good. Good to touch, good to give and see what came down from giving. Fraser wasn't tipping him off with any porn-inspired clues or anything, no loud, burlesque moans or showy writhing around, but yeah, his legs were still shaking, and his breathing had sped up a lot, and besides that Ray could feel Fraser being into it, really into it, and that was good.

At least, it was good right up until Ray caught his other hand trying to sneak into the act. Not on Fraser. On himself. On his... dick, which was... trying to get hard. Again. Right now.

Hard, from touching Fraser. Watching Fraser.

And it would be easy to shove that off on desperation, but the problem there was that he'd already come twice and so wasn't desperate anymore, except obviously some part of him was, and that wasn't part of the game plan at all -- good to touch, right, he got that he'd needed that, but he wasn't...

This was... that friendship thing. Supposed to be. That friendship thing, with him giving something to Fraser because he wanted to, on a friendship-thing kind of level. That was the plan, that worked.

Not this. Not him turning on, getting off on petting Fraser's big, hot dick. That was...

That was scary enough to make him break out in an instant sweat. To make his heart pound like crazy and make his mouth go dry. To forget all about how good it was that Fraser's legs were still shaking, and just...

Stop. He stopped.

Ray... stopped. All at once. Fraser couldn't say that it was unexpected -- he'd been waiting for this, for Ray to be overcome with the realization of what he was doing, for Ray to finally see clearly through the post-coital haze of gratitude.

So, it was indeed not unexpected. But... he couldn't stop himself from wishing that Ray could have kept... that it had been otherwise. For just a little while. For just a little longer.

"Ray," he said, and he put everything he had into it, all the understanding and acceptance and apology he could bring to his voice. They must get through this -- Ray was his friend, his best friend, and to lose that would be intolerable. "Ray, I..."

But his initial plea for amends remained unspoken, stopped cold in his throat by the sight of Ray's absorption...

With his renewed erection. Ray was staring down at his own partially erect shaft with an expression on his face that looked like a combination of astonishment and resentment. That and... fear?

Ray was scowling at his own penis. This was something Ray hadn't expected, perhaps, which of course would completely explain why he stopped, why he had needed to withdraw that touch that, to Fraser's surprise, had felt so much more than clinical, had in fact felt almost...eager.

Ray was uncomfortable with his own arousal. That was understandable. It was also familiar, reassuringly so, and reawakened all of the need Fraser felt to offer Ray comfort and assurance, to offer confirmation that Ray's pleasure was a welcome, wonderful thing.

"Ray," he said again, but this time he allowed the warmth he felt to speak clearly. Ray's head jerked up at that, his cheeks flushed, his eyes brilliant and dark and full of confusion.

"Fraser --"

He could feel Ray's rising panic, could see it in that defensive, troubled stance with both hands raised. He reached out and grasped one warm palm before he lost the nerve to do it.

"Come here." Ray's eyes widened. Fraser didn't wait for any demurral, but reached over slowly with his free hand, touching Ray with one soft, smooth stroke from shoulder to groin, gliding easily over skin that had dewed with sweat. Apparently it was his turn to offer reassuring inanities. "It's all right."

"But... I'm not... I mean--" Ray's stutters also sounded familiar, and Fraser found himself smiling, while at the same time he hoped he could find the right words to soothe Ray.

"It's human nature, Ray," he said quietly, stroking his chest and arms, soft, non-sexual, non-threatening. Gentling him. Lulling him. "An instinctive response to the atmosphere, to my... arousal. Male animals often feel an empathetic sexual response."

Ray now seemed to be fixated on their clasped hands, though his body moved wherever Fraser's other stroking hand went, following the touch. "So, um, it doesn't mean anything?"

Oh, that one hurt, but he'd asked for it. He'd asked for whatever he got, good or bad, by coming here when he knew he shouldn't, by not stopping Ray from playing the ridiculous video, by not controlling himself for just five more minutes and excusing himself, and leaving before his hand had reached out for what it... he... wanted.

You act, and then you live with the consequences.

He took a deep breath. "It means your body understands the appropriate response to stimulation."

Ray's eyebrows drew together. Oh, dear. Perhaps that had sounded too clinical.

"So you're saying I'm responding to you because you're responding to me?" Ray asked, turning his hand so their fingers meshed.

"Essentially," Fraser answered, letting his other hand roam closer to Ray's groin, where, despite the conversation, his penis continued to show unmistakable signs of interest.

"That's fucked," Ray said succinctly, but he didn't pull away.

"Human sexuality can be a strange and --" Fraser started to say, only to have his pseudo-lecture cut-off in mid-sentence by a laugh from Ray. Unexpected and sharp... and genuine.

"I know, I know, you've seen the filmstrips. Spare me the details," Ray said, leaning forward into Fraser's hands.

Fraser felt that laugh all over his body. Felt it, literally, through the hand he held, and deep in Ray's stomach, where his other hand rested. Felt it sneak inside his heart, lick into his groin.

Whether it was his words or his touch, Fraser couldn't tell, but although Ray's eyes didn't entirely lose their wariness, he did indeed lean towards him, moving slowly as if under some kind of spell.

Fraser reassured himself with a quick glance at Ray's now sturdy erection, then shifted Ray to kneel astride his lap, swallowing back a rising, rampant excitement at this, this reality burning so close to what had been, until now, forbidden imaginings.

He could feel the moment Ray let go of his hesitation. One minute he was an awkward armful of elbows and knees searching out a comfortable position, the next he seemed to melt a little, and Fraser heard him murmur, "Fair's fair." He couldn't bring himself to ask what Ray meant by that, couldn't shatter the mood beginning to rebuild. Slowly, yes, but surely.

Fraser shook his hand loose from Ray's, wanting the freedom to touch as much as possible, and Ray moved his own hands to Fraser's shoulders, where at first Fraser could barely feel them. Then he slid one finger down the length of Ray's erection, and those two hands dug into his shoulders, hard.

Too powerful and too heady, that rush of feeling -- the role of the seducer was an unfamiliar and altogether new thing. He stroked Ray slowly, letting his senses fill with the delight of having Ray -- sight, smell, sound -- so very close to him. The ache in his own groin was a half-pleasant, half-maddening thing, vast and nearly painful, but he wouldn't have given it up for anything, this pulse of want that Ray drew forth from him. Ray's head was bowed, his attention fixed on one or the other of them, he couldn't tell which. But when his own cock twitched at the idea Ray promptly gasped, and then it seemed like the easiest, simplest thing in the world to pull Ray closer, to slide down a little under that welcome weight so that he could... oh yes...

"Wow," Ray said softly, and shivered, and Fraser couldn't help but shiver himself because Ray's erection, Ray's body felt so good against him, strong and warm and moistly alive, sliding together like they'd been made to fit this way. His hand had adapted to the grip and firmness necessary to keep them pressed together, and now he was able to hasten his strokes a little, dizzy with shared pleasure and the sensual effect of Ray's sighs.

Ray seemed mesmerized; leaning closer and closer with his long lashes cast downwards, his hips rocking slowly in rhythm. Fraser watched a droplet of sweat trickle from Ray's forehead down to the mild curve of one stubbled cheek and then Ray groaned just a little, and before he knew he meant to do it Fraser moved forward to taste. Salt -- salt that echoed what he'd tasted of Ray before, piquancy that flooded him with memory and further hunger.

Ray didn't resist, in fact Ray leaned into him at once, and Fraser couldn't stop himself from tasting, seeking more, until, yes, there were Ray's lips, here were Ray's lips on his own. Both of them uttered some sort of subvocalization at the same moment, and Fraser shuddered as he felt Ray's mouth open a little against his, felt his tongue reach tentatively for his own.

He welcomed it, brought it inside his mouth and tasted it, sucked on it, wishing he could make Ray's tongue come, wishing he could make it feel that good. Ray leaned into him even more, spreading himself out so they touched skin-to-skin in a thousand different shocking places.

There was a brief moment when he had the presence of mind to register and retain these details -- how perfect Ray felt under his hands, how delicious his mouth was, how good and right and true it felt to hold him, to kiss him and feel that longed-for mouth kiss him back. Then arousal, so long banked, flared inside, consumed him until he couldn't think of anything except the heated body pressed up against his, the hot mouth he found he couldn't release.

He held Ray's head to his until he was dizzy, until he had to let go or pass out, and he didn't want to miss a single, solitary second. He opened his eyes to find Ray looking at him. Staring at him, his skin flushed, his eyes glazed. No longer just confused, he looked... dazed.

Fraser opened his mouth, to ask what he didn't know, but Ray slid a finger across his lips, then... then... pleasure exploded when Ray's wet finger dropped unerringly to his right nipple.

Fraser shuddered, shifted, told himself sternly not to beg by arching into that touch, and then did it anyway. He had a brief moment of amazed curiosity -- how had Ray known? Was this an established habit, or was it intuition? Because, if it was intuition, that kind of unerring accuracy was... formidable, to say the least. But that only lasted a moment, because all kinds of wonderful things were happening now, shocks and jolts and shivers of sensation, electric and astonishing, and so Fraser gave up wondering and gave in to feeling.

A circle. First Ray painted a circle. Then retraced it, with his fingernail. Fraser felt the hairs on his arms stand up, and his erection, still held loosely with Ray's in the trap of his hand, jerked violently.

Ray thrust against him in response, sliding his cock alongside Fraser's, heightening the streaks of pleasure darting between his peaked nipple and his penis. Time and again, Ray repeated the motion: gathering moisture from Fraser's mouth, transferring it to his ultra-sensitive nipple, then rocking their cocks together. A one-two punch, in boxer parlance, Fraser thought. Devastating. Prelude to a knockout.

Watching Ray's face gave him almost as much pleasure as feeling Ray's hands on him. He looked absorbed in his task, focused intently on a specific pattern he'd created, drawing it out until Fraser had to arch up again, press harder into that maddening finger, trying to muffle his desperate moan, but not succeeding.

Then the hand was gone.

Fraser dropped his head back and squeezed his eyes shut tight, shutting out Ray's face, not wanting to see the hesitation come back, the clarity of realization that he was close... very close... oh, God... so close... to bringing Fraser to orgasm.

And of course Ray wasn't the only one afraid of that, as much as he himself wanted it -- that loss of control, that point of no return that threatened to liquefy his very bones -- dangerous on so many levels, to himself, to Ray (who just might bolt at that, yes), so maybe it was better... maybe better that...

It was good that he had his eyes closed, because the sight of Ray bending over him, taking the tongue that had felt so good in his mouth and applying the same delicate torture to his nipple would have thrown him over the edge. As it was, he had to grab hard at his penis, and therefore Ray's, as well, clutching tight to keep from spilling immediately.

Ray yelped at the tight grasp, then pushed hard into it, his hips thrusting smoothly, powerfully. Fraser felt the rush of air across his nipple, cool where it was wet, hot everywhere else, and then suction. Deep, sweet, regular suction, in the same rhythm as the forceful thrusts into his hand.

That was... overwhelming. Somehow, he managed to keep from shouting his pleasure right into Ray's ear. The stifled sounds in his throat would have embarrassed him if he hadn't been so far gone, but he was. He was gone, floating on some other plane now, tethered to the room only by the slick heat of Ray's cock against his own, held tight in his hand, and the wet suction of Ray's mouth.

Everything else faded, leaving only the feeling building inside, all the stronger for having been so long denied, and when he felt Ray's teeth for the first time, a precise, determined little bite, right on the center of his nipple, he gave in, gave up, leaving control and fear to battle each other on some distant, misty field while he went on heedless without them. He let loose years' worth of not getting what he wanted, what he needed, spraying Ray's penis and stomach, and his own hands and stomach and chest, feeling as if each streak and splatter healed something that had been left aching inside him.

Minutes later -- how many he didn't know, but his muscles had started to stiffen, and the wetness streaked along his skin felt cold -- he raised his head and slowly opened his eyes.

Ray sat crouched over him, his hands braced on his thighs. Fraser realized he was still clinging to both their penises with a grip that could be construed as beyond possessive, and he forced his hand to open, wiping his damp palm on his thigh as casually as he could.

Ray looked... calm. None of his earlier apprehension showed on his face. He was no longer flushed, or skittish, or any of the things he had been.

He was, however, still mostly erect, and Fraser could see no evidence that Ray had joined him. He'd come alone, even with Ray right there. The thought tugged at him, casting a slight shadow on his bright pleasure.

"Ray, you didn't... "

Ray looked down at his penis with far less trepidation than he had just a little bit earlier. Although still engorged, it lacked the angry stiffness that preceded climax. As he watched, Ray pushed down on it, then grinned as it popped back up to about half-mast.

"No," he said, seemingly untroubled. "Two's usually all I'm good for. Don't worry... I mean, I didn't do this for... that."

Which begged the question of why Ray had done it, why he'd overcome his confusion and fear and touched him with such ease and... expertise, but Fraser couldn't bring himself to ask. They'd come far enough tonight, farther than he'd dreamed they could, and to want more was just... selfish.

And if refraining from orgasm had made Ray feel more comfortable with the rest of it...

"Thank you, Ray," he said quietly, his throat tight.

"You're welcome, Fraser," Ray said flippantly, his grin widening.

Fraser didn't have the strength to do more than smile back at him.

Sleep alone long enough and you forgot how to share. Fraser was taking up way too much room: a hot, heavy leg trapping him here, a hot, heavy arm pressing too hard there.


Ray cautiously opened one eye. Light, but not up-time bright yet. It was that in-between time, that thinking time of day, caught between asleep and awake, when all the rotten stuff you managed to put off with work all day and sleep all night crashed in and whaled on you.

Usually that meant Stella, and all the shit that had gone wrong, and all the shit still left that could go wrong.

Not today, though.

No, the Stella folder had been filed in the basement, and he had a new case to work on.

Fraser was asleep in his bed, touching him with his hands, arms, legs, everything that stuck out, practically, except (quick glance down) no, that wasn't touching him. Yet. Would be in about two inches, though, which given how fast it was growing would be in about two seconds.

Ray closed his eyes, put his head back on the pillow he was also having to share (the bed was a queen, but they were using it like a single), and tried to regroup.

Fraser was asleep. In his bed. Wrapped around him like saran wrap. Getting hard. Fraser liked men. Fraser liked... him.

And here he'd thought the whole Stella thing was a big cosmic joke. This made that look... well, at least this had come with some personal satisfaction. Remembering the way he'd exploded in Fraser's mouth, and on his hand before that, seriously personal. And seriously satisfactory.

Funny, how even though there were a few key differences, it wasn't really as different as he'd thought it might be. Sex with a man, that is. Sex with Fraser. Not that he'd thought about it. Until recently. Real recently. Right.

It was interesting -- very, very interesting -- how the biggest difference he'd been able to find (beyond the obvious -- the obvious was pretty, um, obvious) was that Fraser, who'd always seemed so cool on the outside, was really warm -- hell, hot -- on the inside, once you got him out of his clothes and his mind and into... stuff. As opposed to, say, Stella, who was warm on first look, but turned out to be kind of cold underneath.

But as far as the whole physical thing went, it just hadn't been all that different. Yeah, some things stuck out where he was used to spaces going in, and some places were flat where he was used to curves, but smooth skin was just... smooth skin. And Fraser had acres of it. A mouth, tongue, lips... well, those things on Fraser weren't really that different from Stella, just wider, and more mobile, and, God, could he even say it? Hotter. When Fraser kissed him, it was like that was all he was, like his whole self narrowed down to his mouth. It was... flattering ... and arousing as hell, being the focus of attention like that.

Some things were different, no question, but some things were the same. Judging from his reactions last night, Fraser loved having his nipples played with, sucked on. Stella had loved that, too, and he'd loved doing it, so it was good for them both. He knew what he was doing there, too; never heard a word of complaint about that (and he'd heard words of complaint about just about everything else he'd ever done, so it meant all the more) and it felt good to have one thing where he didn't even have to think about whether he was doing it right. Given how crazy Fraser'd gotten over it, he'd done right by him, too.

Wasn't like it was a hardship, sucking on Fraser's nipples. They were... pretty. Pink, and not too big, and they tightened right up under his tongue, just like they were supposed to. Couldn't hide that, even if you wanted to, which Stella had sometimes seemed to try to do, but even if she kept quiet, her nipples talked.

Fraser's nipples had a lot to say. In fact, Fraser's whole body was pretty... eloquent, or something. Everything Fraser had felt showed up somewhere, even though Ray knew he'd been trying to clamp down on it. Didn't want to freak him out, probably. Of course, by the time they got to the point of Ray sucking Fraser's nipples, he'd been pretty much beyond freakdom. No matter how hard Fraser tried to stifle those noises, they came through anyway. And how hard he'd been breathing, that had told Ray a lot, and those tight little nipples, and that big, hard, leaking...

Ummmm... Okay, maybe he didn't really need to do a play-by-play. Not with the guy right there, asleep. Didn't seem quite... sporting. So. Back to the comparisons.

Good skin. Great skin. And good nipples. Yeah, pretty much even money there. Ray didn't even miss the cushy pillows he was used to finding under pretty pink nipples. Fraser's chest was... just fine the way it was. Wide handfuls of muscle instead of soft puffy hills, that was all.

That was all.

Just guy wrappings instead of girl trappings.

And that was surprisingly... cool.

Before last night, he'd never imagined being able to have fantastic (he could admit it; it had been fantastic) sex without it automatically leading to a cling thing -- meeting the parents, going to the IceCapades, shopping for tampons.

But Fraser... well, come on, it wasn't like Fraser was going to wake up wanting to go pick out china patterns, now was it?

This could be... this might be... perfect. All that skin, those great nipples, that mouth... he even had to admit Fraser's dick had a certain novelty appeal to it... but with none of the hassle of second-guessing what he wanted. Ray knew what he wanted. Ray knew what guys wanted. He was a guy and he knew what he wanted.


Lots of it.

As messy as possible.

And that was another thing. Fraser hadn't traipsed daintily off to the bathroom when they were done last night, bitching about the mess he'd made. No, he'd just sat there, covered in it, smiling at him, and then he'd pulled Ray to him, and they'd stumbled to the bed, and then they'd gone to sleep. No towel, no comments about the sheets, just... sleep. Deep, easy, no-nightmare sleep.

He stretched as far as he could in the cage of Fraserskin he found himself in, luxuriating in the feel of a for-once-sated body. He couldn't remember the last time he'd really felt, what was it? Full? Or empty? Some of both, he guessed. He didn't have that hungry beast crawling up his back anymore, searching for something he really wasn't finding watching redheads boff the ER staff on video.

Fraser had given him a whole new perspective on things, and he didn't think it was just from having his head cleared up by a couple of truly spectacular orgasms. Fraser'd opened up a whole new world. Even in the cold half-light of day, he was having trouble coming up with a downside.

He stretched again, rubbing unconsciously against all that smooth skin against him, and yup, there went those last two inches. Pretty cool that he could get Fraser hard even in his sleep. Or maybe Fraser was always like that in the morning. No way to know without trying it a few more times.

More. He could handle more. More of Fraser.

He slapped his hand to his forehead. Way to make a left turn, Kowalski.

Human nature, he reminded himself. He'd asked, Fraser'd answered, and it sounded like as good an excuse as any. Male arousal, animal responses, pretty nice of Fraser to take all the responsibility like that. Made it real easy to--

Fraser moved against him -- first with his dick, then with a grope of hands and scissoring of big feet, rumbling and grumbling until finally his eyes opened and Ray found himself staring down a well of good-morning Fraser.

"Hi," he said.

"Hi," Fraser answered, and then just looked at him some more.

Ray turned a little, feeling the hot streak of Fraser's erection slide from his side to his stomach as he rolled to face him. Fraser left his arms where they were, so basically they were lying there, hugging.

Which was... cool.

"We stink," Ray said, thinking how nice it was to be with someone who didn't leap out of bed with her hand over her mouth, headed for a toothbrush and mouthwash and deodorant.

"I'm afraid so," Fraser said, sniffing the warm air pocket between them. He didn't seem terribly concerned about it.

"Want a shower?" Ray asked, unsure whether he'd just offered to shower with Fraser or not, but figuring since Fraser was the guy-on-guy guy here, he'd leave it to him to do the morning-after interpretation.

"Not yet," Fraser said, and buried his face in Ray's neck.

Didn't look like Fraser was seeing any downsides, either. No, Fraser had a way upside thing going on.

Ray felt a moist tongue, hot breath (not bad breath, just Fraser-sleepy-smelling breath) licking up that tendon in his neck, the one that kinked when he got too uptight. The one that felt like spaghetti this morning. Licked it right up to his ear and then licked behind and over and (oh yeah, mmmm) right inside it before meandering back down his neck and sniffing him some more.

"Weirdo," Ray muttered.

"Should I stop?" Fraser asked into his neck. Ray could feel his lips form each word on his skin.

"Did I say that?" he asked.

"No," Fraser mouthed against him.

"No," Ray agreed.

Ray was just about matching him in the hard-on department when Fraser pulled back. Ray protested. At least he thought he did -- he mumbled something, and put his hands on Fraser's back and pulled on him. Fraser seemed to get the message because he rolled, pushing Ray on his back and sliding over on him, pressing down on him, rubbing a little, getting their cocks lined up and talking to each other.

Damn, he felt good. It even felt good being under instead of over. Everything Fraser had done felt good, all along. Made him wonder what else might be out there he hadn't done, and how good it might feel.

"So, Fraser," Ray said, reaching up to mess up Fraser's hair some more.

"Yes, Ray?" Fraser replied, rubbing his head into Ray's hands.

"We're already gross, right? Might as well get grosser," Ray said, sliding his hands down from Fraser's head, down that long, broad back to his ass, where he took a double handful and squeezed, thinking this was one place where Fraser had curves even better than Stella, then was mildly shocked at himself for thinking that.

Fraser spread his legs, dropping them on either side of Ray's hips, and sat up a little and then... well, he shimmied, that was the only word Ray knew to describe the move Fraser made, and Ray's fingers, instead of just squeezing Fraser's ass, which he thought was kind of bold to begin with, were actually... oh, shit... dipping in between the meaty parts, to the... place where there was a... space that went in, like a girl's, only... smaller. And tighter.

Fraser looked at him. He looked at Fraser. Then he moved one fingertip, just one, real slowly, real carefully, right over that... place. Fraser closed his eyes, lowered his head, and sighed. And he started to tremble, just a little. And his dick twitched.

Looked like Fraser liked that. Better do it again, make sure.

Two fingertips this time, still just rubbing real lightly, right there, where... no, he wasn't going to think about what usually happened there. This wasn't about that. This was about giving Fraser back a little bit of what Fraser had given him, and if Fraser liked having his fingers... there... well, okay.

The third time he did it, Fraser made a countermove, circling one way while Ray's fingers circled the other and that must have felt really good, because he made a little sound in his throat, and his hands clamped down hard on Ray's shoulders. Ray kept on doing what he was doing, waiting to see what Fraser wanted next. He had a feeling Fraser knew. He hoped Fraser would let him in on it.

Still, he was kind of surprised when Fraser reached back and took Ray's hands away from him. Shit. Maybe he'd done something wrong after all. That wouldn't surprise him. But no, Fraser didn't seem to be packing up his toys and going home, he was... eww... putting two of Ray's fingers, the two that had just been wandering around his ass, in his mouth.

Okay, it was official. The Mountie would stick anything in his mouth.

Then Ray forgot all about that because he learned something he didn't know about himself -- he liked having his fingers sucked. No, he really liked it. It made his dick throb. Made his eyes blur. Fraser sucked on his fingers like he was sucking on his dick, and his dick knew that, wanted that mouth back on it, wanted some of that suck-suck on it instead of wasted on his fingers.

But it didn't happen. Fraser was, for once, not paying too much attention to Ray, and even that was kind of cool. Very guy-like, getting your own. He could get into that. With a final swab-suck, Fraser tugged Ray's fingers out of his mouth and put them back where he'd found them, right in the crease of his ass.

Oh. Okay. Didn't need that college degree after all, because there were only so many things wet fingers could be asked to do down there, and so Ray did it, shutting out everything except the thought that oh, yeah, guys could get fucked, too, they just didn't provide the water for the slide like a woman could. It seemed a good bet, given the way Fraser'd pretty much taken charge, that this wasn't anything new to him, but better to make sure than fuss about it later. "Um, Fraser? You done this before?" he whispered.

"Mmmm hmmmm," Fraser answered, and it wasn't "no", so Ray tickled him a little then pushed one finger inside, going slower than slow, cuz even a wet finger didn't go in real easily.

No going back now, Ray, my friend: you've got your finger up Fraser's ass.

Fraser straightened his back, right up into what could have been Mountie posture, except that he was naked, and sitting on top of Ray, with a finger in his butt. And that move took away Ray's plan for going slow, took the plan right out of his hands, and put it right back in Fraser's... deep inside Fraser's... stretched right up all the way into Fraser's...

Fraser bucked against him, moaned, and sat down on him even further, his hands now gripping the sides of Ray's ribs like he'd fly right off if he didn't have something to hang onto. Then he lifted up, and when he came back down, Ray slid the other finger in, figuring, hey, if he'd only wanted one, he'd only have swabbed down one. Two could go even further. Did. God, it was hot in there. Snug, too. And ripply, kind of. Rougher than... and Jesus, had he mentioned how hot it was in there? Hot out here, too. Hot. It was all just fucking hot.

Fraser lifted again, then came back down, just impaled himself, and since Ray didn't have another wet finger to give him, he moved the ones he had, rubbed Fraser inside best he could given the really small space he was in.

Good move, it turned out. Fraser shivered all over and gasped, "Ah! Ray... do that again."

"What, this?" Ray said, stroking again, pressing in hard with the tips of his fingers. Fraser arched above him, his chin lifting as he moaned deep in his throat.

"Oh, that feels... I didn't know... ," Fraser moaned, rocking against him, forcing Ray's fingers against the same place over and over.

"Thought you said you'd done this before," Ray said, and twisted a little on the sheets. That response-thing that Fraser had told him about had to be kicking in again -- he was hard before, yeah, but now he was hard and... and really ready, responding to... this. To Fraser like this. Responding to Fraser's response. Helluva good deal.

Fraser breathed in deep, then spread his thighs wider, and Ray took advantage of the extra room to reach in even further. God, he couldn't believe how much he was enjoying doing this, sticking his fingers in Fraser's ass. And no question that Fraser liked having it done to him; no, he didn't have to wonder a bit about that, but his reaction made it seem like something was new. "Fraser?"

A long pause, while Fraser swallowed hard and dropped his chin enough to look at Ray. Ray's fingers twitched at the look on Fraser's face. He was, like, gone, eyes wide open and hungry, his mouth opening and closing, like he was trying to talk, but had forgotten how. Holy shit. He'd made Fraser look like that.

"She didn't have... the advantage... of your... oooohhhh... long fingers," Fraser managed jerkily.

Ray jerked a little himself at that, stabbing his fingers inward accidentally, and Fraser flinched. "Sorry, sorry," Ray said, spreading his other hand on Fraser's stomach and rubbing in little circles, while he withdrew his fingers just a bit and went back to the stroking thing he'd just learned.

"You let a woman do this to you?" he asked, trying to decide if that was any worse than letting him do it. Kinkier, for sure, in a weird way. Men who liked men only had so many options, but a man with a woman... well, put it this way -- in twenty years of doing Stella, he'd never had her fingers up his butt.

"I would have let her do anything," Fraser murmured, drawing Ray's attention back.

Okay, yeah, he'd been there. Probably if Stella had wanted to put her manicured nails up his backside, he'd have let her. But... wait a sec... hadn't he just spent like an hour wrapping his brain around the idea that Fraser, poster child for manly men of the great outdoors, was... geez, what was the sensitivity training phrase of the week? He settled on gay, which didn't really seem to describe Fraser particularly well, but he couldn't come up with an alternative that wouldn't get him a slap on the wrist if he said it out loud in the station.

He probably shouldn't ask. Fraser hadn't asked him anything. But they were here, and Fraser was about as open (God, in all kinds of ways) as he'd ever seen him, so...

"You like women, too?" he asked.

"Just one woman," Fraser gasped, and Ray could see him sliding back toward his little pleasure zone. "I loved one woman."

Just one woman. Just like him. Maybe he and Fraser had more in common than he thought.

"Scarred you for life, huh?" Ray asked, and he thought he heard a low, almost bitter laugh from the writhing, sweaty, panting man he had skewered.

"In a manner of speaking," Fraser said quietly, and it looked like he might pull back, which Ray didn't really want, because, hey, he'd gotten this far, right? So Ray leaned up further, almost sitting up, with Fraser pretty much sitting in his lap, reached for one of Fraser's nipples and bit down on it lightly. Yeah, that did it. There went the writhing, and with a swipe of Ray's tongue, there went the panting again. But his brain wouldn't turn off, had to know more, even as his body turned itself right on, revving up in the face of the lust factor; funny how it worked like that.

"So you loved... uh... one woman," Ray persisted. "What about men? Have you loved any men?"

It wasn't any of his business, he knew that; but then he wouldn't have thought what Fraser felt like from the inside was any of his business either, so he decided all normal bets were off for the duration of... whatever it was they were doing here, and besides, he really wanted to know. Fraser was like his own little island, and Ray was suddenly really curious to know if any ships had ever docked there.

"I... oh, Ray, I... only ones I can't have," Fraser blurted out, then Ray guessed Fraser'd had enough of that topic, because he lifted Ray's head, latched onto his mouth and wiped every unspoken word out with his tongue.

What a weird, connected circle: his fingers, stroking deep up inside Fraser, using every bit of technique he'd ever learned from Stella and trying it out on Fraser; and Fraser's tongue, stroking deep inside Ray's mouth. Felt like Fraser was talking to him, giving him instructions with his tongue -- how fast to go, how hard. Kind of nice, getting it in code like that.

That tongue felt... damn good.

Rough, and not shy at all. No, not at all. In fact, once he had his clothes off, Fraser was just not at all like he looked -- kind of starchy and stiff. Well, okay, he'd give him the stiff part; at least part of him was stiff. But Fraser was into it, into what he was doing to him, and so if you'd asked him a day or two earlier if he'd have thought what he was doing was gross, he'd have said hell, yeah, but now that he was doing it, and seeing how much Fraser liked it, and feeling how much Fraser liked it...

He decided Fraser could definitely walk and chew gum at the same time, because somehow, he managed to keep one rhythm going in Ray's mouth, a different, counterpoint rhythm to his hips on Ray's penetrating fingers, and yet a third in the strong grip of his hand on Ray's dick, which was good because he'd been about to ask for it, and he didn't really know how.

It wasn't even that gross, when, a couple of heart-pounding minutes later, Fraser arched his back, groaned out loud and came on him, scorched him down without Ray ever touching his dick. Kind of amazing, watching that happen. Hadn't ever seen it from quite that angle before, hadn't ever made somebody else feel quite that good, he didn't think.

His mind was still working on that when Fraser surprised him and pulled off his fingers. He maneuvered his way down Ray's body, and before Ray could even take a deep breath, he'd tugged Ray's dick into his mouth. The first lick told Ray last night hadn't been a fluke. It wasn't just the novelty of it that made him shudder when Fraser licked right there. Goosebumps don't lie, and Ray had them from head to foot, everywhere except his dick, which was happily, easily, enthusiastically thrusting into the furnace of Fraser's mouth.

Human nature being what it was, and morning woodys being what they were, and Fraser's tongue being Fraser's tongue it didn't take long. Three licks around the head, three swipes up that vein underneath and a couple of strong sucks, and Fraser got his morning dose of protein right there in the bed.

Swallowed it like syrup.

Stella'd never swallowed.

Not even once.

Fraser'd done it twice in twelve hours.

Fraser let him go with one last little dick-tingling lick and put his head down on Ray's stomach. They were breathing like they'd just chased a suspect five miles, the whole room reeked of sex, and Ray felt better than he had in one year, three months, and twelve days.

After a minute or two, Ray worked up the energy to put his hand in Fraser's hair and shook him a little, wanting to tell him how much he'd appreciated that, but Fraser didn't move. Fraser had conked right out, with his hand still holding Ray's dick like a wet security blanket.

God, what a totally guy thing to do.

Get off and then drop off.

It made Ray smile. Yet another plus to sex with a man -- you didn't have to apologize for sprawling unconscious thirty seconds after you were done. No having to explain that that's just what men do.

Ray glanced at the clock. They had another good forty-five minutes before they had to get up. Let the man sleep. He decided he could do with another little nap himself. He closed his eyes, let his fingers stay trapped in the silk of Fraser's hair, and tried to go back to sleep.

Forget sheep; he'd just count his lucky stars.

A new day.

A new Ray.

The man sitting across the kitchen table from him stirring chocolate candies one by one into a mug of coffee bore little resemblance to the tight-faced, shoulders-hunched man who'd left him outside the club the night before. The habitual squint was gone, leaving Ray's bright blue eyes wide open and... beautiful. The tight lines at the side of his mouth smoothed out to nothing when he smiled.

He looked... as if he'd finally had a good meal. As if he'd literally been starving for touch, and Fraser had fed him. He hoped Ray would let him continue to feed that need, but he'd make no assumptions. No, he would wait for Ray, take his signals from him. Whatever Ray wanted, that's what he would do. In the meantime, he would focus his own energies on convincing himself that yes, all that had just happened; he hadn't imagined it. Dreamed it.

So far, there'd been little in the way of clues from Ray regarding how he felt about the precipitous change in their relationship. When the alarm had gone off, Ray had just pulled himself away from all the places they were stuck together and pushed Fraser toward the bathroom, mumbling, "G'head, need coffee."

Cold water on Fraser's face and hot water on the rest of him had revived him, and he sent up quick heartfelt thanks to Ray for bringing him his slightly wrinkled uniform. He couldn't have imagined walking out into the sunlit living room... naked...

Not in the daylight.

Not without a reason.

Not that there had ever been a reason, per se.

Not that that seemed to have stopped him.

The comforting habit of buttoning this, lacing that, buckling down, and strapping on had gone a long way toward restoring his sense of balance. Clothed, he felt more like himself again. The familiar self, anyway. Not the self who had begged for Ray's fingers inside him. Not the self who just grabbed at what he wanted, like a dog at a bone.

He hardly knew that person.

Although Ray hadn't seemed... displeased... to meet him. On the contrary -- Ray had given every appearance of taking him surprisingly in stride.

Ray had greeted him in the kitchen with a grunt. He'd dressed in another pair of shorts and a t-shirt, and stood leaning against the counter, fingers drumming impatiently while he waited for water to heat. He'd poured Fraser a bowl of slightly stale, shockingly sweet cereal that Diefenbaker would probably have loved but that made Fraser's teeth tingle, and poured milk over it after sticking his nose into the carton and taking a good long whiff.

Now they sat, Fraser politely trying to choke down a few spoonfuls of cereal, Ray stirring his coffee. The silence held no particular tension, for which Fraser was grateful. It gave him time to try to formulate possible answers to the questions he could almost watch forming on Ray's face. The more coffee Ray drank, the more awake he seemed, and the more likely it was that this precious quiet time would come to an end. Two cups and a handful of chocolate later, Fraser could see the synapses of Ray's quicksilver mind start to fire, and mentally braced himself.

"So," Ray said, more hesitant than Fraser had expected. "Um, you must be missing Vecchio pretty bad."

Fraser dropped his spoon, splashing milk on the table. Ray tossed him a napkin, and he mopped up the spill. Of all the things he'd prepared himself for, that wasn't one of them.

"Excuse me?" was the best he could do on short notice.

Ray took another sip of coffee, then put his elbows on the table and leaned forward. "You said something about only wanting guys you can't have --"

Love. He'd answered a question about love.

"--and you sure can't have Vecchio, cuz he's not here, and I know how tight you guys were; everybody said so... so I added two and two --"

"And came up with six," Fraser interrupted.

Ray's mouth snapped shut, then opened again with, "Huh?"

Not quite so awake after all. He'd have to speak slowly, make sure Ray understood every word.

"Ray Vecchio is a good man," Fraser said. "And an excellent cop. I was proud to be his partner, and glad to be his friend, but there was never anything more than that between us. I never wanted there to be."

Ray looked surprised. Why would that surprise him? Did he really think...

"You're not a substitute, Ray," he said quietly. Ray cocked his head at him. "Not here. Not with this."

Ray looked at him steadily for a minute, then nodded.

"Can I ask you something?" he said.

Fraser shored up his mental defenses again. The conversation felt like walking across an ice field, littered with unexpected rough spots and hidden crevices. "Of course."

"Had it been a long time for you? You know, since you... " Ray floundered. Understandable.

"Since I did anything more than... cope?" Fraser answered, and earned a bark of laughter from Ray.

"Yeah, that," Ray said.

Fraser rubbed his eyebrow. "Over a year," he admitted.

"Yeah, me, too," Ray said, then added, "Stella. Duh."

Even though Ray hadn't asked, Fraser offered in return, "The woman who... with her fingers... that was the last time for me." His face grew hot, and he quelled himself with an enormous bite of crunchy-sugary awfulness.

The smile that Ray had worn off and on throughout the morning disappeared, showing those tense lines again around his mouth. "She leave you? Or you leave her?"

"She left me. It was... complicated," Fraser said.

"Yeah, I hear that," Ray said. "And then, what, she turned you? You woke up one morning and decided 'I know -- guys!' or something? Now why didn't I think of that?"

Fraser squirmed a little in his wrinkled uniform. Two options: honesty or prevarication. He settled for a mixture of the two. "It's not that simple, Ray."

Ray stood and reached for his half-empty bowl, then went to the sink to wash the dishes. "I guess not. But guys are... easier, right? It's different."

Here was another chance to tell Ray how little he actually knew of such things, how his heart had only taken him to doors he couldn't enter. Another risk that Ray would see just how complicated this was for him, being with him like this. He wasn't ready for that.

"I don't think I know enough to say," he finally said.

Ray looked at him over his shoulder and flicked water on him. "Come on, Fraser, don't give me that Mountie run-around. Just tell me."

Fraser took a deep breath and found a truth he could say easily enough. "Every person is different, Ray."

Ray turned off the faucet and spun around, wiping his hands on a towel. "But come on, you've got to admit it's easier to know what men are looking for. I mean, women... God, you never know what they want."

His own experience had taught him that it wasn't easy to know what anyone was looking for, man or woman, but he found himself agreeing. "I do think," he said slowly, "that men tend to be more... straight-forward."

Ray nodded firmly, as if Fraser had confirmed something he'd thought all along.

Before Fraser could continue, Ray took a look at the clock on the stove and said, "Shit, I gotta get a shower or I'm gonna be late. I'll drop you at the Consulate on my way in, okay?"

"That's fine, Ray," Fraser said, wondering if they would leave things in this... limbo.

Ray turned when he got to the doorway, then shifted from one foot to the other, obviously uncomfortable. Fraser waited as patiently as he could, but he could feel his toes tapping inside his boot, a small outlet for a whole body's worth of anticipation.

"Was this, uh, was this a one-time thing? I know guys... do that... sometimes. I know that," Ray stuttered.

Fraser sucked in a breath and felt another flush creep up from the collar of his uniform. "It can be whatever you want it to be, Ray," he answered.

The smile flashed again. "Okay," Ray said easily, and disappeared from view.

Okay? What did that mean?

They didn't touch on the topic again until Ray pulled up outside the Consulate, where Fraser had exactly twenty-three minutes to get into a clean, pressed uniform, feed Diefenbaker, gather the day's mail, and prepare Inspector Thatcher's morning cup of Earl Grey.

Ray put the gear in park and tapped his fingers on the steering wheel. He coughed once, then said, staring out the windshield, "Um, thanks, Fraser. That was a... well, that was a really long year. Plus some."

"As I'm sure you could tell, Ray, it was entirely my pleasure," Fraser said, staring out at the hood with the same degree of fascination.

"And you... it's okay? Doing this like this?"

"I'm not sure--"

"It just seems real simple, Fraser, you know, like not complicated for once. I mean, it's you, right? I know you. Just now I know you better than before," Ray said, his words almost tripping over themselves.

"Considerably," Fraser said, thinking what a vast understatement that was.

"Yeah." A beat of silence, then two, and then Ray said, "So, we're cool?"

He knew what Ray meant. He'd been quite clear about his romantic motivations. He had none. No aspirations. No intentions. No hopes. Ray and love were... quits. There was little room for negotiation or interpretation there. What they had was simply an extension of the yin and yang of their working relationship, taken to new, delightful levels. Nothing more. There could be nothing more.

He repeated it once, for good measure. There would be nothing more.

It would be enough for him.

It would have to be.

He would make it be enough.

"We're... we are indeed cool," he said after a minute, and beside him, Ray exhaled slowly, as if he'd been holding his breath waiting for the answer.

"I'll see you after work, at the station, okay?" was all he said, though, and after agreeing Fraser got out of the car. He watched Ray's car disappear from view, feeling as if he'd left a dream world behind, then turned and went inside the Consulate, where the real world would no longer wait.

He'd better watch it.

He'd better shake off the haze and buckle down and pay some attention, that much was clear. Because he'd been at his desk five minutes tops when he realized that Huey was staring at him, and that made no sense until he realized he was humming -- something he used to do, all the time, actually, but not here. Not lately.

Not since the Good Old Days with Stella. Man, it had been a long time, hadn't it? He used to sing in the shower, hum at the breakfast table, dance on the stairs. Christ, what a loser. Too dumb to know it was all going to go splat one day; humming "Stella By Starlight" on the way to work every day like love conquered all and all that crap.

That was before he got his teeth kicked in and his nuts tied up in knots and Stella by any light at all had lost her glow.

Yeah, it had been a hell of a long time since he'd felt like humming.

Not that this was the same thing. No, this wasn't like that. "Fraser by Starlight" just didn't sing with the same kind of swing. This was just...

"Song," he mumbled towards Huey's squint, "on the radio. This morning. Coming... driving in." He made himself stop there, because since fucking when did he ever explain himself to Huey? Might as well be wearing a goddamn sandwich board: 'End of the World Must be Here, 'Cuz I Just Got Laid'.


And it was all up and down from there. Up: he had just gotten laid. Had, in fact, pretty much come his brains out. There was nothing like it in the world -- nothing like it to put a little extra bounce in his step, mellow him right out and make him prone to smiling at nothing. Down: bouncing and mellow and smiling was not what people expected of him. So he had to keep that under wraps, or people might start wondering, and wondering led to asking. And asking would be bad.

Up: guys were different. He and Stella had always had a good time in bed, no problem, but all of that stuff seemed less important than the rest of it -- all the little questions that added up to one big question: did he have what it took to keep her happy? And the answer to that one had been clear enough. But apparently, all Fraser needed to be happy was... Ray, naked and willing to feel good. And it didn't get any easier than that.

But... Down: guys were... guys. That was such a loaded truth that he couldn't look at it for long -- if he paid too much attention to that, he'd lose his happy thoughts and come right down off the ceiling, and start thinking about what he might do if Fraser wanted him to put any other... parts... up his ass, or what parts Fraser might want to put in his ass, and then it'd be everybody out of the pool. So he pushed it away, but it wouldn't really stay gone. Kept sneaking up on him when he didn't expect it.

Up. Down. Up. He rode the rollercoaster all day until he found himself watching the clock as it edged closer to the time Fraser was due, and made himself stop. No point in it, when he couldn't decide whether to be freaked out about it, or glad about it, or if maybe it was just no big deal.

The third time his pen went sailing off across the room because he was fiddling with it nervously rather than actually working, he jumped up from his desk and went to the bathroom, determined to try to pull himself into some version of normal.

He could do that. He could take where he was and bring normal right into it; he could get himself there. Normal would be better than down-up-down. An even keel would be a good thing right about now. Right. All he needed to do was figure out what the fuck 'normal' was.

While he washed his hands and splashed water on his face, he tried to break it all down into pieces, like clues from a crime scene. Normal, with Fraser, was good -- getting stuff done, eating together, talking. Up, with Fraser, was... God, the sex was a big up. Down, with Fraser, was... well, worrying about stuff that hadn't happened yet, that might not ever happen, what did he know? Besides, he was a big boy; he could always open his mouth and say 'no', right?

He ignored the little voice inside that poked him and told him how 'no' hadn't been part of his vocabulary when Fraser was sucking him like a Hoover.

Hard to say no to that. Still, didn't mean there had to be any serious butt-pirating going on, did it? No. That wasn't... normal. He wasn't up for that. No way he was down with that.


They'd keep things normal as they could, work like they always did. They could make this work. They could keep the ups up without jumbling the mix; he felt pretty good about that. Good enough to hum a little on his way out of the men's room.

He'd have fun with Fraser, and be partners and buddies and go ahead and let stuff happen... to a point. Stay in the safe zone, draw a little line. Keep it fun. Stop worrying about what might or might not happen, because, well, that decision's already been made. Just the fun stuff, the safe stuff. That was normal, right there.

Keep it in the safe zone.

Fraser could probably get behind that.

And that little bathroom break seemed to do him some good, because he stopped clock-watching and started doing some actual police-type work, and time passed faster than he'd thought it would. So when he heard, "Hello, Ray" coming from somewhere in front of his desk, it startled him. Startled him hard, in fact, and though surprise didn't usually give him a hard-on, today was a day for firsts, and there was another one.

Just meant he wasn't going to be polite and stand up to greet the man. No point advertising.

"Hey," he said, waving his hand at the chair in front of his desk. "Have a seat."

Fraser settled across from him, looking like... normal. Perfect, in other words. Pressed suit. Combed hair. Posture like a girl with a book on her head. Worlds away from sweaty, naked Fraser, with his swollen up mouth and his sleepy eyes. You'd never know to look at him. Never know what was simmering there, just under the surface. All it would take was one hand -- unbuttoning his jacket, reaching down his pants -- and he bet he could have that Fraser back.


So much for the even keel concept.

He blinked at Fraser, then scooted his chair further under his desk, hiding himself from the waist down. Fraser could probably tell by looking at his face, but nobody else knew him as well as... Fraser did.

Now his ears felt pink. Fucking great. How was he supposed to work like this? How would they ever get anything done? This didn't feel anywhere close to normal. He tapped his pen on the papers in front of him, drawing Fraser's eyes to the desk.

"Any news from the robbery at the club?" Fraser asked. The question was normal enough, sure, but Fraser didn't sound quite like his normal self, and that actually somehow made him feel a little more steady.

Robbery. Right. Ray shuffled through the folders on his desk. He'd read that; he knew he had. In one eye, out the other.

"Um, yeah," he said, his fingers finally lighting on the right file. "We're interviewing witnesses again tomorrow. The DJ thinks he can describe one of them."

"That's good news," Fraser said.

"Yeah," Ray replied, and then couldn't think of anything else to say.

Fraser just sat and looked at him, and as Ray watched, his ears got pink, too. Yeah, he wasn't the only one having a problem. But that was okay. That was actually... good.

And maybe that was normal, too. Maybe it was too much to expect them to just sit there and pretend they hadn't slobbered all over each other.

Maybe he needed to come up with some new definitions of normal. Either that, or they needed to get way over themselves and just deal.

"How 'bout you? How's things at the Consulate?" Ray asked.

"Fine," Fraser said.

Stiff. God, they were stiff together. He was searching for another line to throw when Fraser leaned infinitesimally closer and said, "I found myself... distracted... from my work."

Under the desk, Ray's dick throbbed. Status there: normal.

"Yeah?" Ray asked, and was surprised to hear his voice crack.

"Yes," Fraser said slowly. "I kept wondering how things were coming along... here."

The case. He was talking about the case. If Huey were listening in -- which he wouldn't be, cuz why would he? -- that's what he'd think. Welsh wouldn't think a thing hearing their little conversation.

But Ray knew what Fraser meant.

Nobody knew Fraser like... he did.

He reached for his jacket, shouldering it on and buttoning it before he pushed back his chair and stood.

"Let's get out of here," he said. "Dinner."

Fraser stood when he did and said, "Indeed," and Ray wondered for one knee-wobbling moment if maybe Fraser could smell it on him -- excitement, nervousness, all of it. Probably not, it was probably just a stupid thought, but it stuck. He waved Fraser ahead of him, willing his body to cooperate long enough to get out of the station and into the car. From there, he figured he was safe.

Safe. Keeping things safe. They didn't have to go any farther than he wanted to; Fraser had said so. What had he said? Right, right. It could be whatever Ray wanted it to be. So that probably meant it didn't have to be whatever he didn't want it to be, either.

Keep cool. Keep safe. You don't have to do anything you don't want to do.

He repeated the mantra under his breath as he followed Fraser out the door, stopping halfway to adjust the bulge reforming in his pants.

"Anything..." Ray panted, his body twisting in the midst of the rumpled, damp sheets. "Anything, Fraser, just... do something."

Fraser drew in a deep breath. Oh, but Ray didn't... couldn't mean that.

After all, there had been a certain level of reserve to overcome. Ray had appeared remarkably calm, self-contained, all evening. Through an unhurried dinner and over a surprisingly lucid conversation about the night club robbery and several other cases, Ray had seemed much like his usual self -- a little frenetic, darting from subject to subject as if reading a conversational map upside down -- but seemingly normal. Fraser had mostly listened, nodding from time to time, answering any direct question, but willing to follow Ray's lead.

He hadn't asked the one question that burned in his mind, searching every nuance instead for some subtle clue to an answer -- and finding none that he could interpret with any certainty. He couldn't bring himself to ask if Ray still wanted what he'd wanted before -- their conversation this morning had pointed in one direction, but Ray'd had an entire day to reflect on it since then, an entire day to allow any possible regrets to develop. And it was entirely possible that Ray might be indecisive, in which case Fraser actually asking the question might very well tip the balance.

So he didn't ask. He just let Ray talk about what had, amazingly, for him, become trivialities, and did his best to respond appropriately.

In a way, being able to speak so easily of ordinary things was a relief. He wasn't sure one night of satiation would have been worth the price if Ray had balked, backed up, or any of the other things Fraser had worried about during the interminable day, when he wasn't sweating inside his uniform remembering all the things they had done together that might cause Ray to reconsider their... liaison. He'd spent much of the day in a fog, his usually focused mind blurred with images, remembered sounds, his senses still swimming at the slightest reminder of the evening before.

So at least he had the consolation of knowing that, even if Ray didn't wish to continue their physical intimacy, at least they could have this. This partnership. And that was something he'd never esteem lightly.

He forced down his food, more for the energy it would give him than any appreciation of the flavor. Lingering uncertainty over the next step they might or might not take plagued him, and kept him from bringing up anything even remotely personal, even after they returned to Ray's apartment.

Even after Ray invited him to take off his jacket. And his boots. And his socks.

Even then, it was likely that Fraser wouldn't have initiated anything were it not for the fact that Ray's attention kept wandering from the basketball game they were ostensibly watching; were it not for the fact that it had finally been absolutely clear that Ray was erect inside his jeans.

And still, there were doubts. Perhaps there were questions he should have asked, that should have been asked when they were still clothed, but in the moment all he'd been aware of was the fact that Ray wanted to be touched. To touch. Ray... wanted. Ray hadn't played coy. Ray had, once again... responded.

All it took was turning his body, turning towards Ray, a tentative, careful encroachment into the space polite people kept sacred. He turned and leaned, and Ray mirrored him, leaning right as Fraser leaned left, and just that easily, their mouths had come together, fitting like a tongue in a groove. Just that fast, Fraser left behind the complex mesh of doubts and dove headfirst, straight through heart-poundingly intense relief and on into yet another of his daydreams -- Ray, moaning into his mouth, his hands reaching for Fraser's head, tilting him to the angle he wanted, stroking deep in Fraser's mouth with his tongue, panting into his mouth. Just one kiss. Just one, which had led to two, then three, until Fraser had all the answer he could have wanted and couldn't tell where one kiss ended and another began, and Ray only broke away to protest the lack of maneuvering room on the couch.

Which had brought them here, to Ray's bed, for the second night in a row. Which had brought Ray against him like a whirlwind of fevered touches and half-heard whispers of urgency. A nearly overwhelming onslaught of desire, under which all of his own uncertainty seemed to have eroded as if it were nothing more than an evanescent qualm.

It was tempting to satisfy Ray quickly, to ease that blatant hunger with all the skill and expediency at his disposal. It proved to be more tempting, however, to draw things out, to allow himself the pleasure of experiencing Ray's hunger as his own. And so he indulged his craving for the touch, taste, and scent of Ray without allowing either one of them release, which had led to his current predicament.

"Fraser..." There was nothing, in either his experience or the realm of fantasy, to adequately brace him for this -- Ray, dissolute and imploring, wearing nothing but his own sweat-moist skin as he writhed salaciously against the sheets. Such abandon immediately ushered in a host of thoughts of what he could do, if he dared, and a deep shudder gripped him. Oh no. Not that. He couldn't ask that of Ray. Not in his current state.

"I'm dying here, Fraser--"

Fraser shivered again, staring at the flushed length of Ray's erection. No, not that. But perhaps... he could ask... he could take... just a little?

"You should try to slow your breathing, Ray," he said, amazed at how even his voice sounded. "After all, hyperventilation isn't--"

"Fuck that," Ray snapped. "I've got a woody I could use for a hammer and I'm ready to go hump a greased knothole, and I will if you don't... don't... ooh. Oh..."

Ray's erection was still wet from being well-licked earlier. Fraser's hand slid and gripped there easily while he lowered himself down Ray's body, moving between his thighs, and his tongue skimmed lower, seeking and teasing, lower, and lower still until Ray stiffened underneath him, hands grasping urgently at his hair. "You can't... Fraser... don't, that's gross... stop it," he panted, but Fraser kept going, relentless, ignoring the sting of Ray's hands yanking at his hair in uncoordinated jerks. He stayed where he was, holding Ray open, sampling, licking softly until Ray relaxed abruptly under his touch, his hands going lax in Fraser's hair, and he heard whimpers issue from above: "Jesus, okay, okay, don't stop, ummm, do not stop that." Then he lapped at him with the broad flat of his tongue until Ray cried out and bucked wildly, sighing a broken stream of 'yeah's as Fraser reveled in the fact that yes, even this intimate caress could be accepted; was, in fact, welcome.

There was an edge to this, something dangerously sensual that tingled through him as he fluttered his tongue against twitching muscle. Ray's wantonness was an addictive thing, an unexpected and nearly shocking freedom that was... compelling, utterly so; and therefore a threat to whatever poor command he might have over his own desires.

His self-discipline seemed to have met its match in Ray's surrender. He couldn't think of another word that fit more aptly. Ray, despite his superficial reserve, and the time he took eating dessert, and the questions he'd asked about their cases, and the agonizing minutes he'd spent watching basketball, went up in his arms like a flame at the first touch. Wherever Fraser took him, he... went. Willingly. Openly. Kisses and touches were accepted and returned as they relearned the territory discovered so recently. The luxury of being horizontal, the room to stretch and breathe, the ease of already knowing some of what Ray wanted... it all made him want more.

He wanted... everything.

Unacceptable. To risk that was to risk... everything. There had to be a line, a boundary firmly drawn, and he would have to count on his own sense of discipline not to violate it. This far and no further. No further than this.

"Oh fuck... Fraser..." Ray's voice was low, rough with lust, and Fraser felt the erection in his grasp throb fiercely. Ray's hips lifted and sank in rhythm, seeking, wanting two things at once, a silent plea for more, and Fraser admonished himself to go no further.

...Until he felt Ray start to come. And then he completely, unquestionably, failed.

He breached Ray's body with his tongue, thrusting in as deeply as he could and using all his strength to hold Ray still because Ray went wild, groaning out something that sounded like a potent combination of amazement and ecstasy, gasping, blissful surprise that made Fraser's heart pound in his chest. He held Ray through it, slowed the strokes of his hand gradually until Ray merely twitched, and then gently withdrew, easing back onto his knees.

Ray looked... conflicted; entirely enervated and drenched in sweat and semen, yet glaring at him balefully, as if somehow the circumstances were all his fault. "You," Ray started, but then had to stop for oxygen replenishment.

"Yes, Ray." He kept his voice as level as he could. If he'd... gone too far, if he'd transgressed, he'd need all the levelness he could muster.

A deep, deep breath. "You just teased the fuck out of me, Fraser." Ah. Well, that was rather... undeniable. Muscles he hadn't known were tense abruptly relaxed. "Yes. Yes, I suppose I did."

Ray drew one arm across his sweaty forehead, and sighed. "You're in big trouble, Fraser."

Truly dismaying, the lack of control he seemed to have here. He shouldn't be smiling at that, and yet, it was impossible not to. "Am I?"

"Oh yeah." Ray made a spasmodic attempt to sit up, then flopped back down onto the bed and went back to glaring. "Oh. Yeah. As soon as I can move, I'm gonna give you the world's most amateur blowjob. Trust me, you'll be sorry."

The fact of Ray's novice status was nowhere near sufficient to keep Fraser from swallowing convulsively at that. His face grew hot. "Ray, that's... I'm sure you... there isn't any--"

"Don't try to sweet-talk me, Fraser," Ray interrupted, levering himself up slowly to a kneeling position, his head lowered threateningly. "You made, uh, that is... you made me come in my bed and now you have to lie in it, how's that?"

He was still trying to formulate the best possible response to that when Ray jumped him.

Amateur, yes. But there was something achingly sweet about that, about the clumsiness of his mouth, about the way Ray tried to swallow him whole before coughing him back up, about the enthusiasm he brought to bear in place of experience. In fact, that enthusiasm quite effectively undid Fraser, more than any commensurate amount of experience ever could have.

It was as if, once Ray had decided to jump in, there seemed to be no point in only going halfway. Of course, that shouldn't have surprised him -- no, with Ray there were no half measures. At least not in this. Ray, for all he protected his heart, seemed to have placed no such limits on his body. He responded to everything Fraser did; if not whole-heartedly, then whole-bodily.

And in return, Fraser clamped down on the things he wanted that he couldn't have. It took effort, yes, but he'd had practice.

Years of practice.

He loosened the noose of control only at the very last minute, gasping out a warning that Ray heeded -- proving that, even if he wasn't an especially quick study, at least he was a good listener. Fraser spared him the decision of whether to spit or swallow, and only gave in to his urges for the briefest of moments: holding Ray's head close to him, feeling stubble scour the skin of his hip, petting and petting and petting that soft head and letting all the words drift loosely through his mind that he couldn't possibly allow from his mouth.

Instead, only a mopping up process was required, which Ray provided with more nudges and choking laughter and comments about where in the hell he'd been storing all that, and didn't he know it was bad for his testicles not to get some relief now and then?

Fraser had just stretched, and yawned, his body utterly unaccustomed to pleasure and satisfaction two days in a row. It wore him out.

When Ray dropped back down beside him, Fraser reached for him instinctively, drawing him close as he had the night before, turning so they lay chest to chest, arms finding comfortable spots to rest, legs twined together. He breathed Ray in -- the lingering scent of their mutual arousal, the muted smells of soap and shave cream. Things he had never known he was missing wafted into his nose and buried themselves deep inside. Into the soft down of his drowsiness came a moment's sharp thought: was it better to know or not? Better to have experienced this... connection... once and live on its memory, or would it have been better to never know, and therefore never have the need to miss it?

It seemed too harsh a thought to survive the warmth embracing them, and Fraser pushed it aside by pulling Ray closer, burying his face in Ray's throat. Ray drew back briefly, then put a hand on the back of his neck and held him there, as if that had been where he'd wanted Fraser's head all along.

"This is...this is good, Fraser," Ray murmured.

Fraser didn't answer. Couldn't, over the sudden tightness in his throat, so he nodded, knowing Ray would feel it.

"What you did, you know, with your tongue?" Ray said quietly.

"Yes, Ray, I'm sorry, I know you said to stop, but I--" Fraser stammered, only to be cut off by Ray's voice, low and rough.

"I never felt anything like that. Ever. But... I mean, there? You really like that?" he asked.

"Oh, yes," Fraser said firmly. He would have raised his head then, the better to gauge Ray's true reactions, but Ray wouldn't let him. Ray pressed his head firmly into his neck, and Fraser subsided eventually.

"I spent the whole day worrying about how to make this normal," Ray said after a minute. "But that was... that wasn't normal, Fraser."

Oh, how he longed to see Ray's face. There was no accusation in Ray's tone. No censure. Just astonishment... and wonder. Still, he knew abnormal wasn't generally considered a goal to strive for, so he apologized one more time.

"Ray, I didn't mean --" and once again, Ray shushed him.

"No, hang on, Fraser. Don't split your seams," he said, shaping his hand to Fraser's skull. "I'm trying to say that... I've been normal. I've done normal, and if what we're doing isn't normal, then... I guess I don't want to be normal anymore." He paused, and Fraser felt his fingers move through his hair. A caress. A definite caress.

"This feels too good," Ray whispered.

Indeed. It felt too good. Too good to be real. Too good to last.

Too good to just be the physical relationship Ray wanted and nothing more.

And too good to stop, he admitted, even as his heart protested. He had, as was always his wont, succumbed to the allure of an unattainable man. The fact that Ray had opened his door, and his arms, and his bed to Fraser did nothing to placate his aching heart.

Stop, he admonished it. His heart always wanted more. Always. His heart never listened to his head.

Perhaps it would listen to his body, which seemed to be entirely in favor of continuing this... he had no name for it... of continuing until either Ray came to his senses, or he drove Fraser out of his. Perhaps he could learn not to want so much. Perhaps that could be taught.

Ray seemed to have honed that particular skill; perhaps Ray could teach him.

Two weeks now, doing a guy, and what had he learned? Newsflash: he liked blowjobs.

Getting 'em. Giving 'em.


Blowjob. Sucky-sucky. Playing the skinflute. Knees-bent zipperworship.

Any way you put it, it had always been something he'd had a lot of enthusiasm for, something that had always perked him right up in every sense of the word. A good thing. A 'buy me a lotto ticket 'cuz this is my lucky day' kind of thing. The kind of thing he could really get behind.

Until he had tried being on the other end of it, that is.

And it wasn't even the doing it part of doing it -- well, yes, the words 'safe zone' had floated through his mind, but hey, he'd figured, he'd have Fraser's dick in his mouth, how much more safe could he be? -- no, it wasn't putting Fraser's dick in his mouth that was the hard part. It was what the hell he was supposed to do with it once he had it there.

All of a sudden, every professional porno queen he'd ever seen gobbling cock achieved the rank of 'major-league sports hero' in his mind, once he really got a grip on what a fucking challenge it was. Of course, Fraser had been really good at it right out of the gate, but that was Fraser for you, anyway.

Who knew where Fraser had come by his know-how, but somebody out there deserved a Teacher of the Year Award.

It just seemed... so wrong... to gag when you were down there and doing it -- the times Stella had gagged he'd made her stop. And yeah, sure enough, Fraser had tried to make him stop, but... well, he might have his lips wrapped around a guy's dick but he was no fucking pussy thank you very much, Fraser, and this was... a personal challenge: Ray Kowalski vs. The One-Eyed Canadian Monster.

He'd won that first bout. Barely. And been really, really tempted to never risk a rematch.

But eventually of course he did, because he liked licking Fraser, and Fraser got off on being licked in a way that just revved his motor like nobody's business, and getting revved up by horny Fraser was turning into the best hobby he'd ever had. So a few days later he'd tried it again and hey -- whaddya know -- not so hard, that second time.

So he did it again, and again, night after night, and damn if he couldn't make Fraser come like a freight-train doing that, which was seriously cool. And somewhere around the fifth time he tried it something happened -- not just getting off on Fraser's desperate sounds anymore, or trying not to smile when Fraser grabbed the sheets so hard he thought they'd rip. Fraser had cupped his head, so gently, not tight at all, and Ray held still and let Fraser rock up into his mouth, over his tongue a little, and wham! Everything seemed to fit together just like that, and suddenly there was some connection between his mouth and his dick that left him wide-throated, that had him humping the bed like he couldn't stop.

He couldn't stop. Fraser came in his mouth, and he came on the sheets, and that was, like, a whole new thing and maybe it should have freaked him out a little but Jesus it felt good, so in the end he blew off any questions he might have had about how his safe zone was doing, and just let it ride.

And after that one thing led to another, the way stuff always did, and he followed his body and followed Fraser and every night it got easier, and hotter, and finally one night Fraser let him ride -- splayed out on top of solid Mountie muscles in the classic sixty-nine position (which turned out to be a hell of a lot more classic when there wasn't a big height difference to bother with), giving as good as he got. Well, almost as good. As good as he could give, anyway.

The hardest thing was to stay still. The first time he'd tried it, it had taken his body about ten seconds to figure out that Fraser didn't seem to mind no matter how hard, or deep, or fast he went, and that was unfuckingbelievable, to lay there on top of Fraser and screw himself senseless in Fraser's hot, silky throat, and he'd lasted probably fifteen seconds total.

Which was kind of embarrassing.

So the next time he stayed still, as still as he could, and tried to distract himself with all the nifty things he could do with Fraser's equipment. Still, it seemed like Fraser had an unfair advantage -- some kind of weird Canadian politeness thing, probably: never come before your partner. And if he'd wanted to hear some long, boring lecture about voluntary and involuntary reflexes, he would have asked. But he didn't. So he wouldn't.

But he did get the bright idea, while licking long swipes down the length of Fraser's dick and trying to stay still, to maybe do more than just say a silent 'hello' to Fraser's ass on every upstroke. So he got his fingers nice and wet and then put them where they'd do the most good, and -- wow, just like magic -- Fraser went kind of quietly nuts and groaned in a way that Ray hoped wasn't a sound of suffocation, and sucked and bucked and wriggled and lifted both of them up off the bed and came one split second before Ray did. Victory.

And at last, a level playing field. Because Fraser never passed up a chance to tease him, or at least it felt that way, but Ray had long fingers and Fraser really appreciated it, loved it, would go off just like a rocket if he was touched right, and so finally Ray had found it -- an evil secret weapon that even SuperFraser couldn't withstand. Pretty goddamn cool.

They'd been messing around for a good solid two weeks, moving from one spine-tingling, I-can't-believe-I'm-doing-this thing to another when, during another hornier-than-thou sixty-nine session, Ray noticed the way Fraser's thighs just quivered every time his fingers pushed inside, the way Fraser's cock throbbed against his tongue at the same moment, and without stopping to think he backed off, holding tight to Fraser's dick and talking into it like a microphone, wiggling his fingers and watching Fraser twitch.


"Mmmf!" Oooh, steady, Ray. That vibration does *not* mean 'let's get funky in Fraser's mouth', whatever it might feel like.

Ray swallowed, held himself still, and licked the tip of Fraser's dick gently. Wiggled his fingers again. Heard Fraser pulling in urgent breath through his nose.

"Um... I think I wanna fuck you. Would that be okay?"

"Mmmf!!" Oh, bad mistake, there. Because he was still holding Fraser's dick right in front of his face, and while he'd gotten used to Fraser coming in his mouth (as weird as that was), Fraser coming in his nose and on his chin and practically in his fucking eye was a real shock. He tried to say something and couldn't, had to just roll away groping for a sheet, a piece of clothing, anything to get this stuff off his face, and then Fraser was there with a pillowcase and about a zillion words of intense, horrified apology, and then there was nothing else in the whole world he could do but laugh.

Hard. Hard as he could ever remember laughing.

And eventually, after about six billion more 'I'm so sorry, Ray!'s, Fraser joined in.

If he'd ever been more mortified he couldn't remember the occasion. Was, in fact, having trouble remembering much of anything beyond the erotic blast of the previous few minutes. His world, which had at one time encompassed a vast wilderness, seemed to have narrowed to the width of a queen-size bed.

Ray wouldn't let him retreat, wouldn't let him duck away and hibernate with his mortification. Ray, who, before Fraser had reached for him in a moment of singular capitulation, had always been so tense, so self-conscious, was now laughing helplessly, naked, his face dripping wet strings while he tried to control himself enough to clean up the mess Fraser had made.

A mess. A wonderful mess, but a mess nonetheless.

Fraser found himself laughing with him because, as with so many things with Ray, he couldn't help himself.

Yes, there was no other way to describe it. This was, indisputably, a mess.

Strange, he'd never thought of himself as an opportunistic individual before. Of course, that had been before Ray... welcomed him, before providence or destiny or whatever served for fate in his life had so casually tossed him this complex gift. So much of everything he'd ever wanted, so close to fulfillment of a hundred closely guarded desires, blocked from perfection only by the daily awareness that it might all be withdrawn at any moment.

That however easily Ray had bestowed that gift, it could just as easily be taken away.

He could clearly imagine dozens of scenarios, perhaps a hundred, which would necessitate the end of... this. So many, but one in particular haunted him, tinged with the dread of inevitability. At the start of their physical relationship, Ray had clearly stated his conviction that he was done with love, and was therefore entirely unwilling to attempt another romantic alliance. However, experience indicated that Ray was a changeable individual, moreover, that he was generous, prone to affection, and deeply, earthily physical. Those facts combined to suggest a powerful likelihood that Ray might see his... liaison with Fraser as a successful 'test run' -- as proof that he could maintain a physical relationship without heading down whatever path had led him to disaster.

In essence, it seemed certain that, sooner or later, Ray would awaken to his own limitless opportunities. And while that was a good thing, it also meant the certain end of what had been the most wonderful, rewarding, contented period Fraser had ever known.

It went without saying that, in light of those thoughts, the most rational course of action would be for him to withdraw, perhaps with some carefully placed words of encouragement for Ray, drawing his attention to the fact that, with such a generous heart and warm disposition, all things were possible. To call an end to it before he went any deeper into his own helpless attachment.

But of course he couldn't. Perhaps it would be prudent, but it would also be nearly impossible -- the height of folly -- to imagine that he could give up one moment, one kiss, one touch which Ray might willingly offer him. A flat impossibility.

And so it was equally impossible to entertain the notion of refusing Ray anything he asked for -- including the casually worded request Ray had just made. Even though that act had taken on a talismanic, nearly legendary quality in his own mind -- the apex of his longings, of connection, something as deeply desired for its intimacy as it was feared for its possible repercussions.

He would be... ruined, after that (not that he wasn't already, but like many things there was always a matter of degree), ruined for any hope of... solace. Eventual or otherwise.

All of which simply comprised another truth to bear, another wrinkle in the fabric of his existence which would never be smoothed away. A silent companion as he wiped Ray's face until Ray batted him away impatiently, as he kissed Ray soundly, as he happily absorbed the shiver that resulted from bending to one round ear and whispering the portion of truth he could part with.

"That would be wonderful, Ray."

Apparently, he just wasn't cut out to be a safe zone kind of guy.

Because the only thing that really seemed to hold his attention as he rummaged in his bedside drawer for hand lotion, as he got Fraser nice and slicked-up and got himself as smeared as he could get without going over that ooh-that-feels-damn-fine edge, was the thought of how good this was gonna be.

So it was past that line he'd set -- so what? He'd come up with that whole 'line' thing based on a stupid idea anyway: the idea that there might be anything he could do with Fraser that might not be what he wanted. But, as it turned out, everything he did with Fraser felt good, good, good, and now he'd get to try this new thing, and he'd be willing to bet a year's pay that this was gonna be good too.

It was obvious (really obvious) that Fraser wanted it. And he wanted it. And so it would be good.

But none of that stopped him from wondering, even while he had three lotion-coated fingers as deep as they'd go in Fraser's ass, even though Fraser seemed pretty happy about it, pushing down on his hand and getting -- oooh -- seriously into it; none of that stopped him from wondering whether it might not... hurt. Like, maybe a lot.

Lotion or no lotion, three fingers were a tight fit. Way tight. That meant 'be careful', because the only other thing he could do was wish that his cock was smaller, and that was, like, sacrilege. No way. So he'd just have to be careful.

"I'll... uh... be careful," he told Fraser. Just in case Fraser was worrying about it. But Fraser only nodded, panting and flushed, half-erect again already and spread out on his back on the bed with that do-me-do-me-do-me look on his face again, waiting.

Waiting for him. To go ahead and... right.

Ray swallowed. Okay, so maybe he was a little nervous.

"I'll be careful..." that seemed like an important thing, whether he was telling Fraser or himself, but then he leaned forward and felt Fraser's furnace-heat against him, and Fraser's strong, solid legs wrapped around him and he could feel Fraser wanting this, lifting up for him, wanting it... and this was the right thing to do, hold on, feel, point himself straight for where Fraser was hottest, and...

Push. So he pushed. A little. Fraser sighed, sweating now and so easy to slide against, easy, and relaxed, Ray felt him relax, and he thought he'd stopped pushing but apparently he hadn't because hot-hot-tight-slippery suddenly squeezed him and he was inside, at least halfway in, and gasping.

"Fraser --"

"Don't stop, Ray. Please. Just... don't."

So he didn't stop, and even though this was different his hips remembered how to do this, this going into thing, and ohh, it just didn't get any better than this, any better than snug inside and moving -- but then it did get better, three slow strokes and Fraser was at full-mast, looking lost in it, looking wild and messy and hot. And one more thrust, fast and hard this time and just like that Fraser lost it and shot all over their bellies, groaning so loudly it hurt his ears.

"Jesus, Fraser..." Ray pushed forward and stayed there, trying hard not to think about Fraser coming twice before he came even once, or about Fraser coming just from being fucked, because if he thought about it he'd go off, and it might be nice if one of them had some kind of self-control.

The thing was, this had always been about... him, about taking -- a guilty kind of taking. Stella came when he went down on her, or when he was inside if he touched her just right and managed to wait her out. And yeah, he'd always felt like a total stud afterwards but it was nothing like this, like Fraser coming so easy and shaking and moaning the roof down, and making him feel like he was the fucking champion of... of fucking, or something.

It was embarrassing and stupid, how much he got off on that, and his face burned -- more heat, more warmth when there was already so much, almost too much. The muscles in his arms were starting to go weak and achy, everything in him just wanting him to give up, give in, let it go -- but he wouldn't, didn't. And from somewhere he found the strength to hold himself up so that he could keep on, thrusting again and half-crazy with it but keeping on, focusing on the ache in his shoulders to keep himself distracted while he kept on... being a fucking champion. Oh yeah.

And Fraser wasn't exactly making it easy on him. Fraser had settled down to a steady, horny-sounding murmur in which Ray caught his name but not much else, and had gone back to that dark-eyed Mysterious Stranger look, the one that meant he was really turned on. Thing was, though, that particular stranger hadn't really been much of a stranger anymore, considering what they'd been up to for the past couple of weeks; and now he wasn't a stranger at all, what with the way Ray was doing his level best to screw him through the mattress.

"Fraser." He said it just to say it, just to make sure it was all real. He found he couldn't stop, though, once he'd started, and boy, that seemed to be the story of his life lately but... what the hell. "Fraser, Fraser, Fraser..." He kept it quiet, as quiet as he could, anyway. Eventually it stopped making sense to him, eventually it became just a sound, the sound, the sound of this, of where he was, of all things good... hot... wonderful. His lips were numb with saying it but that was okay because the rest of him felt so good, so fucking good.

"Harder, Ray." He couldn't answer that but shook his head, no, not harder, no finish line, not yet, but Fraser's thighs locked around him and gentle hands found his nipples, gentle at first and then harder, yes harder, he could do harder because he had to with wicked, electric pleasure shivering all over him like this -- fucking Fraser's tight, round ass just as hard as he fucking could.

His arms gave out, but that was okay because landing on Fraser meant that he had a shoulder, a neck to occupy his mouth with, something to sink his teeth into because he was making some serious noise now, seriously out of his mind embarrassing noise. And when he bit down on Fraser's neck Fraser heaved under him and twisted his nipples one last time and that was it, he came howling like an animal, pushing and pulsing and shaking and coming hard, everything around him gone except... Fraser.

Fraser, who was whispering 'yes' and squeezing him and shuddering and maybe coming again, he couldn't tell. Jesus.

Ray kept his eyes closed until it was quiet, until his body felt like a body and not a gazillion separate blissed-out molecules. Then he kept them closed for a little longer, because that had been... intense, intense in a way he hadn't quite expected, and anyway there was no law against keeping his damn eyes closed, so he just did.

He kept them closed until his dick slipped slowly out of Fraser, and Fraser made some kind of deep sound in his throat, something that sounded almost like it was supposed to make sense --

But probably not, because Fraser was out, down for the count. Mumbling in his sleep. He did that a lot.

Okay, so some things hadn't changed. Ray had to smile at that. The smile stayed with him while he eased himself out of the bed and made his slow way towards the bathroom on legs that felt like nothing more than stretched-out pencil erasers, but then he swapped the smile for a wince while he cleaned up -- sensitive. Ow. Man, if he was sensitive, Fraser must be...

The smile came back to him when he wobbled into the bedroom again, however. He decided Fraser must not be aching too bad; not and be sleeping that deep already. Fraser always seemed so... contained, when he was awake, but he seriously made up for it when he was asleep. Bed-and-cover hog -- and right now, a really goddamn messy one, at that.

Ray shivered. He was wet, and it was cold in here, but as soon as he eased himself up close to Fraser the Furnace that would all be taken care of. He slipped into the bed, thankfully remembering to snuggle up to the non-messy side of Fraser, and closed his eyes.

It felt... wonderful. Ray sighed. He'd been so wrong, about so many things -- freaked himself right out when there was no need for it, because Fraser was... good, a good guy, a good friend, a great partner, and a fucking nuclear meltdown between the sheets. Always good. And that had... changed him. Not just because of the guy thing, although that was certainly a mindblower, but because of the friend thing too -- they were still friends. Working together, sleeping together, and it was all... good. Not scary, not cold, just one thing leading to another, and it all worked. And that meant... that meant...

Well, he didn't know what it meant, exactly, but it felt like if he gave it a chance, he might figure it out. Like something was right there, staring at him, if he'd just open his eyes and look.

'Safe' had turned out to be one of those relative terms. He'd been wrong -- dead wrong -- about the sex thing. What if he'd been wrong about all the other stuff, too? What if what he'd thought he didn't want anymore had snuck up on him, wearing emergency signal red and size eleven boots?

It wasn't that much of a stretch, really, to think about. He'd never had a fucking lick of control when it came to that shit. The only way he'd managed to keep himself under wraps for that long year was by not letting anybody get close enough to even make him think about starting anything.

Except Fraser. Fraser got close. Worked with him. Played with him. Teased him and touched him and got sarcastic with him when he did dumb stuff. Did things to his body he didn't even know could be done. Things that made him feel...like maybe it wasn't just the feeling outside that was so good. The feeling inside was good, too.

Feeling. Something he'd sworn he'd never do again.

But he'd been wrong about so many things. Maybe he'd been wrong about... that... too.

If Fraser had thought concentrating on his work was hard before, it was almost impossible the morning after Ray... he couldn't even think the word, but he could remember with perfect clarity every moment of how it had felt. He could still feel Ray inside him. When he walked, even just sitting at his desk, every minute of the day the dull ache inside reminded him, and he reveled in it, in the physical echoes of the best night of his life.

It had been better than he'd imagined. Deeper. Stronger. An exhilarating, explosive, gut-deep connection he'd never formed with anyone before, not even Victoria. To be opened up like that, opened and... penetrated.

His pen slipped on the paper, and he realized unless the Consular General in Ottawa had a code reader, he'd be unable to decipher anything Fraser had just written. He was useless here, and it was almost the end of his shift anyway. Perhaps Ray could use his help; they seemed to get more accomplished together than apart.

He wondered if their physical closeness had in some way translated to other aspects of their lives because they had worked better in recent weeks than at any other point -- and they'd always worked well together, their differences complementing rather than hindering their efforts. They seemed to be firing on all cylinders, or, as Ray put it, they were in the groove.


Fraser realized as he walked from the Consulate to the precinct that he had, for the first time in a long time, something in his life besides work. Work had filled his empty spaces adequately, providing activity and some measure of satisfaction, and an equal measure of interaction -- all that human beings generally required. But Ray had given him more than that, more than the basic requirements. At its simplest level, when he was with Ray, he didn't feel alone.

So as long as Ray was willing to give what he could, Fraser was willing to... take it.

Perhaps it was the folly of having come to some internal resolution -- the fates liked nothing more than toying with a settled soul. Perhaps it was simply imagining the possibility of Ray moving on that conjured the means to make it happen. Whatever the cause, the result was still a shock: Fraser walked into the station just in time to see a familiar scene -- Ray standing over a petite brunette, his head tilted as he listened to what she had to say.

The witness from the club. Looking... not at all trashy. She looked, in fact, rather smart. Like someone someone else might like to get to know better. The look on her face was familiar, too. She liked Ray. Was interested in him, was, at this moment, leaning toward him, her face -- certainly prettier without the heavy makeup -- tilted up coquettishly, her eyes wide.

Once again Fraser found himself standing in a room, watching the man he loved fall under a spell.

Seeing them together felt like getting a faceful of cold water, and he moved (again, such a familiar thing to do) so he could see Ray's face. He needed to see for himself the transformation, the transition, had to scald himself with the actuality of Ray's arousal. Then it would be real. Then he could accept it. So he moved closer, took a steadying breath, and looked.

Ray looked... like he was listening. He nodded at something the woman said, then scribbled in his notebook. He looked... normal. A detective at his work. From this angle, Fraser could see that he wasn't even standing as close to the woman as it had first appeared.

Fraser resisted the first trickle of relief and dropped his eyes to Ray's groin, assessing. Nothing. No evidence of arousal. Not even when he squinted. Ray was keeping it strictly professional, and it didn't seem to bother him in the least.

Yes, strictly professional. The difference between strictly professional and intensely personal became clear when Ray lifted his head and saw Fraser. His eyes... lit, he stood up straight, and he smiled. A beautiful smile.

Just beautiful.

Fraser blamed the sudden weakness in his knees on the long walk from the Consulate and the previous evening's... exertions.

By the time he got his breathing under control, Ray had turned back to the witness, jotting additional notes and nodding some more. Then he shook her hand, pointed her toward the exit, and said goodbye.

Fraser remained rooted to the spot while Ray came over to him. Ray clapped him on the shoulder and said, "I think we're getting somewhere. One of the guys was wearing a t-shirt with a logo on it -- what a loser, you believe that? -- and she remembered what it said. So we got a good lead."

"Good," Fraser said, pleased when the word came out without cracking.

Ray went to his desk and put down his notebook, then looked at him hard. "What?" he asked.

"Nothing," Fraser said, still trying to come to terms with the fact that Ray had stared temptation in the face and turned away from it. Turned toward him. "That is, I'm glad the witness was helpful."

"About damn time," Ray grumped, shuffling papers into a somewhat neater pile. "I can't believe how much time we've spent on that stupid case."

Stupid... it was stupid to push, but Fraser had to be sure. "Will you be seeing her... the witness... again?"

Ray's hands stilled on the paper, and he looked at Fraser for so long he started to feel uncomfortable. "In court, maybe. Otherwise, no."

This time, relief made him light-headed. He'd had no right to ask. They didn't have that kind of relationship. He knew that. But he'd asked. And Ray had answered. And it seemed to be... all right.

"You ready to go?" Ray asked. "What're you in the mood for? Tuesday's manicotti night at Donato's."

Fraser let himself be turned, encouraged toward the exit. He hoped his confusion wasn't visible to anyone besides Ray, who seemed to be treating him like he was a little bit slow, which he indeed felt himself to be.

Tuesday meant manicotti. With Ray. Thursday would probably be Chinese take-out. With Ray. Saturday usually included a basketball game, or bowling. All of it with Ray.

He and Ray were... together... in every way, every day.

Surely that counted for something.

He was glad when Ray headed towards the street rather than the parking lot, happy to walk to the restaurant. The early evening air felt good, just cold enough to be bracing, and movement, any movement, felt better than sitting still.

Ray seemed to have something on his mind. Twice he started to say something, then stopped. It was only when they had reached a relatively deserted stretch across from the park that Ray finally spoke up.

"I got a question for you," he said, sounding very matter-of-fact, but it was easy enough to hear the uncertainty underneath. Fraser wondered if he'd read Ray wrong, if in fact there had been something more to his conversation with the witness than he'd admitted. He held his breath.

"Um, when you were... " Ray stopped, cracked his neck. "When you've done this before, did you... damn, how to say this... did you go back and forth?"

Fraser stopped in the middle of the sidewalk. A dark storefront reflected Ray's image, so he could see two of them facing him -- both extremely uncomfortable. "What do you mean?"

"You know," Ray said, jamming his hands in his jacket pockets. "Poker and pokee?"

It took Fraser a minute to realize that whatever Ray was trying to ask him, it had nothing to do with a witness, or a case. It took him another minute to realize he wasn't talking about the card game, but about... He was asking about what Fraser had done... with other men.

A misapprehension that Fraser had let stand too long. If they were going to be... together... like this, then Ray deserved the full story.

"Ray," he said, tugging at his collar, "I haven't done this before."

Ray shifted his balance to his other foot. "What, switching off?"

Fraser couldn't believe they were standing outside, on a public sidewalk, talking about... this. Fortunately, the only activity was across the street in the park, well out of earshot.

"Any of it," he admitted, then took a deep breath and said, "I haven't been... involved... with any other men."

Both Rays, real and reflected, looked at him with narrowed eyes. "No way."

"It's true," Fraser said, stepping a little closer.

Ray dropped his voice, as if he, too, had just realized where they were, and said, "But I thought... you know... "

"My... feelings... for others were never returned, and so I never... " Fraser's voice trailed off as he realized what he was saying -- the one thing Ray had insisted he didn't want.

"But you're so good at it," Ray said, disbelief tingeing his tone. "How'd you get so good at it?"

The flush he'd managed to keep at bay swept up his neck and into his face. Perhaps Ray had missed his slip; he seemed to be concentrating, as always, on the physical. "Well, I've thought about it. A lot."

Ray grinned, a surprisingly flash of light in the increasing dark. He looked over at the park, then back at Fraser. After a minute, he shrugged and said, "So I'm the only one? I'm it for you?"

Oh, there were so many ways he could interpret that. As had happened so often in recent weeks, they seemed to have fumbled their way to a critical place, with the only options being moving forward or moving back. Each and every time, they had, through desire and urgency and surrender, moved forward. And each and every time, moving forward had made it... better.

Fraser summoned a memory of the light in Ray's eyes at the station before, of that smile, then straightened his shoulders and said clearly, "Yes, Ray. You're it for me."

Ray rocked on his heels, a little smile playing across his mouth. Fraser had said all he could, more than he should. Now he could only wait, let Ray have his say. When Ray turned in the direction of the restaurant and cocked his shoulder at Fraser, they started walking again. The activity made waiting easier.

They were almost to Donato's, back in the hustle and bustle of evening in a neighborhood, when Ray leaned toward him and said under his breath, "You remember what you said once, about you and guys you can't have?"

Fraser glanced around him. No one was paying them the least bit of attention. "Yes," he said. His heart pounded in his throat, as if it would leap out to make its own case if it could.

Ray kept his eyes forward, his feet moving, and Fraser walked in cadence with him. Easy -- it was so very easy to do that.

"You can have me," Ray said quietly. "If you want."

"I want," Fraser said fervently, and Ray laughed a little.

And still, Fraser felt an urge to move forward, just that little step further.

"More than want," he stressed, unable to articulate any better than that, but wanting to be sure Ray clearly understood that what they had went well beyond the physical. "It's more than want."

Ray turned to meet his eyes and nodded. "Yeah, I figured that out," he said, and then he flashed that smile, the new one. The beautiful one. "I can handle...more."

Heat and warmth combined inside, residual embarrassment being trampled by the slowly dawning realization that they had just... well, it wasn't a romantic declaration, but then where would either of them have learned how to do that? No, it was like everything else between them -- half spoken, all felt.

And plenty good enough.

Ray bounced a little, executing a dance step on the sidewalk. "So you'll do it?" he asked.

"Do what, Ray?" Fraser said, finding it hard to concentrate when Ray... moved... like that.

"The old switcheroo," Ray said patiently, reaching out to hold open the door to the restaurant.

"I will if you want," he said, brushing against Ray as he entered the warm spicy air.

"I want," Ray said, throwing his words back with a wicked grin.

Fraser firmly clamped down on the impulse to nudge Ray up against the wood paneling in the entry and give him exactly what they both wanted, and wondered what Mr. Donato would think if they ordered their manicotti to go.

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