Disclaimers: The due South characters belong to Alliance Atlantis. Written for pleasure, not profit. For adult readers only, please. Many thanks to Aristide, Dawn P and Crysothemis for beta-reading and encouragement. Comments are welcomed at JBonetoo@yahoo.com

Pairing: Fraser/Kowalski

Rating: NC-17 for language and sexual content

Summary: Ray and Fraser have some stuff to work out.


Layers

Part Three

by Bone


"Look, Fraser, just forget about it, all right? I am not having this conversation with you."

We're not even across the Illinois border yet, and he's already pissing me off. So much for afterglow. So much for kissing and feeling up and getting off. The whole shebang's dead in the water -- kaput, snuffed. I'm sure of it. Lasted, what, twelve hours? My last relationship lasted twenty years and now I can't even get from Green Bay to Milwaukee without wanting to rearrange his face.

I'm an idiot.

And he's just…I don't even know what he is… an alien, maybe.

I'm trapped in a car with an alien.

Nobody's this way on purpose. He's either been brain-washed or brain-damaged or some other nonsense. Took a hockey puck to the head as a kid, sniffed a few Lysol cans, got left outside the igloo too long and froze something important. I dunno.

He's just… God, he's aggravating.

He's a persistent fuck, is what he is. Tenacious. Almost obnoxious.

"I don't want to simply forget about it, Ray. It's obviously something to which you attach great importance, and therefore - "

"Fraser. You're not listening to me," I start to tell him, but he jumps in again.

"On the contrary, Ray; I hear you quite clearly. You, on the other hand, seem determined to -"

"La da la da da da la la la." Sing or sting. Those are his options.

"Now you're just being childish, Ray."

All right. That's it. If I don't get out of this car, and out of his space, in the next five seconds, I'm going to blow a gasket.

Fortunately, Wisconsin's mostly cows and grass, with occasional McDonald's and cheese factories, and we're on a stretch where it's just me and the King of the Obvious and a few heifers and a bull for an audience. I slide the car onto the shoulder and ratchet it into park.

We just sit there for a minute while I try to get my blood pressure down to something lower than I'm-having-a-stroke, then I get out and go lean on the fence keeping the cows from us, or us from the cows, I'm not sure exactly.

I think he gives me all of three minutes to myself before getting out of the car. He stays just out of arm's reach, which shows that while he may be an alien, he's not stupid. He's got his hat in his hand, and even on the third day in a row in that same uniform he looks better than I did in a tux on my wedding day, which might normally give me a little shiver, but now just adds to my list of grievances.

"Ray, I've obviously upset you, which I can assure you was not my intention. If you could just explain to me -"

"Just shut up, Fraser," I tell him. "Just…be quiet for a minute. Can you do that?"

He closes his mouth tight and nods once, dropping his eyes.

"I didn't mean anything by it. I was just… you know… talking. Talking to have something to talk about. It's not like a what, what do you call it, a pledge or anything."

If he makes me get into it again, I swear I'm going to start chewing on him.

He takes a step forward, brings his chin up and makes me meet his eyes. "You asked if I loved you. I said yes. Then I asked you the same question, and you said -"

"I know what I said, Fraser. Can we please, please not go into it again?" I can't believe I'm standing here begging him. "Come on, I said it once, didn't I? Twice, even."

"Yes, but it was my understanding at the time that you were being symbolic rather than literal, and last night it seemed to be an expression of appreciation for potato salad, which isn't really the kind of assurance I was looking for."

I've gotta say, he's taking this pretty well.

"I think you're scared," he says, and he's taking another couple of steps closer.

Oh, okay, now he's crossed the line. I'm not scared. What's to be scared of? A big guy in a red coat?

Scared.

Ha.

"Back off, Fraser. I mean it," I tell him. Fair warning. One more step and he's gonna, or I'm gonna …oh shit. He's right in my face, breathing in my ear, and he's got a big hand on my shoulder.

"I think you're afraid of your feelings," he murmurs in my ear.

I'm trying to laugh it off, but he's right here, almost leaning on me, and I can't keep my heart from going thud-thump-thud in my chest, and I can't keep my dick from filling up, and I can't keep my hands to myself.

"I think you're deliberately provoking me to create some distance between us, to serve as a form of buffer against the intimacy we shared last night… and this morning."

Oh, fuck.

This morning.

This morning, when we did all the stuff we'd done the night before, only with both of us buck bare. And lying down. And kissing while we did it. Added a lot, the kissing part, speeded things up, too, right up to when Fraser bit my tongue in the heat of passion, and then I yelled too loud in his ear, and I ended up getting blood on the pillowcase.

We both still came, though. It'd take more than a little injury to keep that soldier down.

And then I said some stuff, and then he said some stuff, and then he wanted me to say some more stuff, but it all started unraveling right about then, and before I could figure out where we'd gone wrong, we were back in the car headed south.

And you know Fraser - he's never been one to let a sleeping wolf lie. All through the drive-through breakfast, through the discussion about whether to take the interstate or the scenic route (scenic route won, of course; Fraser's sort of a prude about the interstate system), right up to the pulling off and taking a breather, he's been rubbing me raw with one leading question after another.

So, okay, this is a new technique. It's the "let's-drive-him-wild" way of getting answers out of me. Hell of it is, it's working.

"Okay, okay, you're right."

Here we go, there we are. Now I've done it. Never tell the Mountie he's right. Never ever. It's just that it's kinda hard to do anything except tell him what he wants to hear when he's got that tongue action going. Around my ear, down my neck, out here in the open in front of God and the cows and please, don't let anybody drive by while he's got his mouth… ohh, Jesus, yeah… right there.

"What am I right about, Ray?" How can he talk and do this at the same time? I can't even think and do it. This is not the smartest thing to do, getting each other all worked up like this.

He's got his hat hung on a fence post and he's got both hands under my shirt, and excuse me, are we not by the side of a public road here? Ever hear of indecent exposure, Benton buddy?

His hands are already starting to work south of my belly button when I finally realize if I don't say something, he's just going to keep going and I'm going to be waving in the breeze in about a minute and a half. And trust me, next to the bull in that field right there, I'm small potatoes, so we don't need any comparisons, not to mention the fact that we're in Wisconsin's equivalent to public.

"Yeah, I've been trying to provoke you," I manage to spit out, and boom, he's backing off, taking his hands off me, licking his lips and putting his hat back on.

I can't believe it -- he played me. Didn't know he had it in him, and if it wasn't me on the wrong end of his deal, I'd probably be congratulating him, but it is me he's fucking around with, and so…

"You have?" he says, like it's news to him. Well, duh, Fraser. I guess he was expecting something else.

"Yeah, but not for why you think." I'll give him that. Took a lot for him to try that stunt on me; I'll give him points for it.

He's breathing hard, and his cheeks are all red, so I guess I wasn't the only one up and at 'em, there. Makes me wonder what made him go that far, why he didn't just keep carping away at me like he usually does.

Maybe it's not that over? Maybe there's still a little wick on the candle?

He's waiting for me to do something. What? Pop a vein? Melt into a puddle? He doesn't look quite so sure of himself anymore, not sure of himself at all, in fact. He's bobbing from one foot to the other, and he looks like he's not sure what do with his hands now that they're not groping me.

He looks at his feet, then back up at me. "Then why?"

I hear a truck engine in the distance and watch as it gets closer, pulls even, then zooms away. I'm grateful I didn't have my pants around my ankles when the Coors truck went by.

It's dumb, really. Like I said, I'm an idiot.

It's not that I'm trying to create distance between us, really it's not. I'm just trying to give him an out if he wants it. Let's think about it -- Fraser getting it on with a guy? With me? I know he's into that loyalty friendship partnership thing, but I don't want him to feel like he's got to toast my bagel to keep all that other stuff.

And let's face it; it's not like the guy's screwing around every night of the week. He's probably so happy to have a hand on him it hardly matters whose it is. I'm not saying I don't appreciate it. I do. And I'll take whatever chunk of him he feels like dishing out, but he doesn't have to, and I guess maybe I'd better tell him that.

Somehow.

Somehow that doesn't irritate him, or make him go courteous on me.

Somehow that doesn't screw it all up.

"Why are you pushing me, Fraser?" I ask him, which isn't what I meant to say, but I don't seem to be firing on all cylinders yet. Probably because most of the blood that's usually in my head is pulling duty somewhere else.

He presses his lips together for a second, then says, "I just thought perhaps the discussion would be easier held away from the distractions that undoubtedly await us back in Chicago."

Oh.

Well, when he's right, he's right. Where are we gonna talk about it? His closet at the Consulate? The break room at the station? I can count on one hand the number of times he's been to my apartment, so… the man has a point.

"Okay," I say, already moving back toward the car.

"O*kay*?" He answers. "That's all? Just 'okay'?"

"Just get in the car, Fraser," I toss over my shoulder. "Unless you want to do this in front of the cows."

"Understood."


Of course, that's not how the conversation goes. We're barely back on the road again before it takes a severe left turn. The conversation, not the road.

I decide to take the bull by the horns (hey, I've got cows on the brain), so I get the ball rolling with, "How long's it been since you got some, Fraser?"

Beside me, he stiffens. Oh, I'm sorry, did I offend your tender Canadian sensibilities?

He stutters out, "I'm not sure why that's relevant to the current - "

"How long, Fraser?" Just tell me. Come on, just tell me.

"A little over a year," he finally confesses.

"How long?" I know he knows.

One breath, two, and then, "One year, five months, and four days."

See? I knew he'd know.

"So it's been that long since you got la… since you had sex… with another person?" I'm gonna keep peeling him 'til I get to the core.

"With another person? Who else… oh………I see… yes, of course, I've…well, that is… yes, it's been that long since I've had sex with another person."

Gotta love Fraser. He's the cutest shade of red right now. Good to know even Mounties beat the meat sometimes. Makes the alien theory hold less water.

"So you didn't," I make a motion with my right hand that's got to be universal because he sucks in a breath when I do it, "with the bounty hunter chick, what's her name? Janet?"

"No," he says.

Man, really? I saw the goo-goo eyes they were making at each other, and he had her right there at the Consulate, with a baby-sitter and everything. Hell, if she hadn't acted like I was dirtier than the mud on her boots, I'd have made a play for her myself. So he and she didn't… I'd have thought if anybody could get him out of uniform, it would've been her.

"And you, Ray? How long has it been for you?" he asks, still radiating from every pore.

Should have known he'd turn the tables. He's good at that. I didn't even get to the part about how I think maybe he's just confusing serious deprivation with something else.

"About the same," I tell him. I'm not embarrassed about it. I could probably have… There are women who… All right, all right, I admit it: we've both got sucky taste in women.

Hey, wait, maybe I'm onto something there.

"Have you been with anyone since your wife?"

Oh, good, Fraser, yeah, just get right down to it. Who's having this conversation anyway?

"No," I mumble.

"So it isn't something you take lightly," he says, and he doesn't sound tentative anymore, not even a little.

I take my eyes off the road long enough to see that he's watching me, looking at my face.

I just shake my head.

He lets the quiet fill the car right up before he says, "Nor do I, Ray."

He kills me. He really does. It's like he's wandering around inside my head, pulling thoughts out before I've had a chance to go through them, tame them down. Only it's not my head he's pulling from; it's my heart.

Who's peeling who, here?


You can only go so slow, even on the scenic route, and before I'm ready, before I'm even close to ready, we're back in civilization, back to traffic lights and honking horns. Back on our home turf.

Somewhere along the way, I lost track of whatever I was supposed to be talking to Fraser about. Something about me thinking he can't really want to do this, that was it. Something about him just being hard up and hormonally addled, and me being at the right place at the right time.

Or maybe it's more about him worrying about staying partners, and then me pouncing on him soon as he tells me, yeah, he's nixing the transfer, and I want him to know it's not about that. At least it's not just about that.

I also don't quite put it beyond him to do me because he knows that's what I want.

It's not like I can hide it, is it? Not after the stunts I've been pulling the last couple of nights. Could be that he just feels like he should. It's not like he ever had a role model to follow or anything. Not when it comes to this stuff.

I appreciate what he said back by the cows, about not taking it lightly. No, I guess he wouldn't. He's not exactly a casual person. So whatever, whyever, at least it's good to know he didn't jump into it blind.

Damn, it's hard to watch the back of him going up the steps to the Consulate.

We've been practically attached at the hip for days now -- waking, sleeping, the whole nine yards -- so it's weird to be by myself in the car; no Fraser, no Dief, no risks to my life, no gut-clenching lip locking, nothing.

Just me, headed for my own place. My own empty space.

I could get used to being with Fraser all the time. It's kinda nice, really. When he's not driving me insane, he's good company. Knows a lot of stuff. He got into a running commentary on all the flora and fauna of southern Wisconsin pretty much the rest of the way back. He might've talked about other stuff, too, but I thought we'd had enough soul-baring for one day, so every time he tried to bring it up again, I goosed him. Took longer than I thought it would to shut him up about it, but he got it eventually.

Only way I could let him out of the car was to make him agree to go eat with me later. We've been on short rations for awhile now, so we're going to splurge and go to Donatelli's, eat some good filling Italian food. Get that last taste of rabbit out of my mouth.

So now I've got four hours to fill. Gotta get milk and cereal. Gotta (seriously gotta) do some laundry. Throw out the junk mail, see how many bills I got. Get ready for getting back to the grindstone. I've got plenty to do.

Four hours. Four stinking little hours.

No problem.


Okay, so I'm half an hour early. Only made it three and a half hours, but who's counting?

Fraser's out of uniform, which used to just mean he's out of uniform, but now it seems to tell me all sorts of things. Like maybe he doesn't need the mask with me. Like it's one less barrier between us. Like flannel and denim make him just my Fraser, instead of Constable Benton Fraser of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

Or maybe I just need to get a grip.

Maybe he spent the afternoon filling out forms and didn't get to do his own laundry, and that's what's clean, so that's what he's wearing.

Whatever, he looks damn good.

It feels weird to be back in the city, walking on concrete instead of a metal deck, or grass. It's louder than I remember, and it smells funny. I keep jostling into Fraser while we're walking, but he doesn't say anything about it. Maybe he's gotten used to me being in his back pocket.

Or maybe those three and a half hours seemed strange to him, too.

"So, you get a lot done?" I ask him.

"Yes, actually, the afternoon was quite productive," he says, and then spends the rest of the walk telling me everything he did.

I'm at the point where I can listen to him with half an ear now. I've got this Fraser filter that sends up a signal when something important comes down the pike, but otherwise, he's just white noise in the background. Gives me time to think.

Seems like he's willing to go with the flow for once, and it's nice not to be butting heads, or trying to think like a Mountie, or repeating to myself all the reasons I think he's making a big mistake with me.

All the reasons he's making a big mistake.

And don't tell me he's a grown man and can make his own damn mistakes. Look what happened last time he let himself get involved with somebody. He's a menace -- can't be trusted to save himself. I know; I've read the files. Victoria Lost-Her-Mind Metcalf. Oh yeah, she was a real prize.

Hell, next to her, maybe I do look good.


"I've been thinking about something you said," he tells me over dinner. I can hardly taste it. He's sitting across from me, eating spaghetti one rolled-up forkful at a time. I swear, that tongue oughta be outlawed. Roll, lift, slurp. Roll, lift, slurp. I've got a hard-on that could lift the table, and he just keeps on rolling and lifting and slurping.

"I said a lot of stuff, Fraser," I remind him, then think maybe I shouldn't, cuz I really don't want to get into the whole I-said-you-said rigmarole again.

"You admitted that you've been deliberately provoking me, but said it wasn't for the reason I proposed," he says, licking tomato sauce out of the corner of his mouth in a way that makes me want to jump across the table and smother him. "You never explained the real reason, and I'd like to know what it is."

Oh, he would, would he?

"Come on, Fraser, what difference does it make? You piss me off, I piss you off. It's not like it's anything new," I tell him. I'm stalling. Think he knows that?

"I think you'd have to concede that we've added another component to our previous relationship," he says firmly. "And in light of that, I'd appreciate it if you'd tell me what the hell's going on."

Hell? Fraser said hell? Wow. Guess I really did piss him off. I'm thinking back, trying to decide if I've ever heard him say it before. Not that I can remember, not even when he was all snarky on the boat, ship, big floating tub. Nope, that's a new word in the Fraser vocabulary. I think I'm ashamed of myself for getting his dander up so much he said a swear word. It's like seeing a nun take up exotic dancing.

"Okay, okay," I say. "But can we not do it right now?"

He looks like he might pull that mule thing he does and dig in, but when I jerk my head to show all the people around us, he nods and goes back to his spaghetti, and I go back to watching him eat.

I've wondered what Fraser's limits are.

Looks like I'm about to find out.

Twenty minutes later, we're stuffed to the gills. Neither of us ate the garlic rolls, which I take to be a very good sign, but we ate pretty much everything else they put in front of us, so we're sort of waddling back to the Consulate.

I know the next move's up to me, so before we even get to the place where he'd hang a right up the stairs and I'd hang a left for the car, I say, "Want to come back to my apartment for awhile? I'll make you tea."

"If I recall correctly, tea isn't one of your normal provisions," he says, but he's already moving toward the car, so I guess it's cool.

"Well, then I'll make you something else," I tell him.

"I'm sure whatever you have will be fine," he says.

Before I start the car, I hold onto the steering wheel a little too tight and say, "Fraser, we can talk right here. We don't have to go back to my apartment, if you don't want."

Options, choices, open doors. I want him to have all of them.

"I'm aware of that, Ray," is all he says, then he's buckling up and settling in.

Okay, then. Okay.

He's waiting for me to start explaining, but he doesn't say anything more about it. We get back to my place, hang up our jackets, and I make hot chocolate, which is the only thing I can find that goes in a mug besides instant coffee, which he raises his eyebrow at when I offer. So hot chocolate it is.

And then I'm out of excuses. Out of things to do, out of reasons not to talk. Flat out out.

He's sitting on the couch, holding the mug between his knees. I'm sitting beside him, facing him, with a leg crooked up on the couch. Close enough to touch, but we're not. Not yet.

"Okay, Fraser, so here's the thing," I start.

He turns his head toward me.

"Just hear me out before you start, you know, summarizing, or analyzing, or whatever, all right?" I ask.

He nods.

"Way back when, when we first started this partnership thing, you were sort of… standoffish," I tell him.

I see a little furrow start between his eyebrows, so I plow on. "Didn't take me too long to figure out you're not stuck-up, just Canadian. You know, too polite to everybody."

"Too polite? Ray, I don't think there's any such thing," he says.

You believe that? He's already talking.

"You want to hear this or not?" I ask him.

"I'm sorry, Ray. Please, continue," he says, and he puts his mug on the coffee table and turns toward me. Whoa. I've got full Mountie attention now.

"And then one day, I said something that unlaced your boots, and you snapped at me, and then, I'm like, wham, there's a person under there. Flesh and blood, just like me," I tell him.

He tilts his head to the side, and I'm trying to keep eye contact with him, but it's hard, cuz he distracts me. I want to stop talking and touch him. Peel him out of that flannel shirt and spend some time on him. We've been so rushed, we rushed ourselves, and what I'd like to do is spread him out and linger a little.

But I've still got a few more steps up the mountain to go, so…

"And so then, I kept doing it, trying to get you to show me the real person underneath all that polite outside, and I think maybe it just got out of hand," I say. "I sort of forgot why I was doing it, and you started to get under my skin, in a not good way."

"You provoked me because you felt my irritation was more honest?" he asks me.

"Yeah, pretty much. You showed me something you didn't show most people, and…I liked that, even if it meant you got mad sometimes."

Can I just say for the record here that I hate doing this? I hate laying it all on the line like this. What if he decides he doesn't want to hear it? What if I do all this and he's like, 'Well, Ray, thank you for telling me, now I've really got to go.'

"Ray, that's -"

"I know, I know, dumb, huh." Hey, I got it out. Now maybe I can spin it or dilute it or something. I mean, it's not really something to be proud of, poking at your partner like he's a bear in a cage.

"Not dumb," he says, putting his hand out, patting my knee. "Just misguided."

Now I'm the one who's got a brow getting furrowed.

"I think you're quite correct that I have shown more of myself to you than to most people," he says. "But there are many paths to the watering hole."

"Many paths to the watering hole? What is that, Chinese?" See? I'm already exasperated with him.

"There are different kinds of provocation, Ray, and you've just recently discovered a different way to evoke a response from me," he says, and he's sliding closer to me.

I have no idea what he means. Okay, brain, get to work. Provocation. Different kinds of provocation. Provoke, provoked, provocative.

Provocative. Like sexy, not like mad.

I get it. I get it.

Many paths to the watering hole, my ass. Why can't he just talk like normal people?

"So I'm just as likely to see the real Benton Fraser by feeling you up, you mean?" I ask him, and yeah, I guess I'm a little giddy or something. He's this close now, smiling a little, his hand moving up my leg.

"I wouldn't put it quite that way," he says.

"No, of course you wouldn't. Wouldn't be polite." I'm teasing him, and it's so good. So good.

"Ray, will you believe me if I tell you that you know me as well as anybody ever has?" he asks me.

I nod. Feels like my heart's just going to jump right out of my chest.

"Thank you," he says, like it's not me who should be thanking him.

I wave it off. It's nothing; just everything I'd hoped for but wasn't sure about, and then he's on me, knocking the breath out of me, and I'm wedged tight into the corner of the couch by a Mountie with busy hands and a wet mouth.

Shy Fraser's cute. Shivery Fraser's hot. But this guy, this on-top guy… well, he makes my head spin. I get the feeling he's been holding back, and he's not holding back right now. His tongue's touring my back molars, and his hands are stripping clothes off me so fast I think I heard something rip.

I'm trying to return the favor, get him naked with me, but every time I move, he growls at me, like Dief guarding a cheesecake, so finally I just lean back and let him do whatever he wants to with me. It's not like I'm not going to enjoy whatever it is, you know?

I've been watching that tongue for hours, days, months. He's put that tongue places a dog wouldn't lick. I hate to even think about what he's done with that tongue. But I can guarantee you nothing he's ever licked has appreciated it like I do.

He's all into it; teeth, lips, the whole deal -- in my mouth, down my neck, across my shoulders. And now that my clothes are where he wants them, which I guess is anywhere besides on my body, he's using his hands to hold me down, hold me still. That's fine with me; I got no place to be. I just lay my head on the back of the couch and let him do his thing.

Everything about this turns me on. Everything. Me doing stuff to him, him doing stuff to me; I don't care who does what to who so long as somebody's getting it done. Partners share, right? It's not like we're on a deadline. I'll give him his. With pleasure. With interest. With whipped cream and a cherry… no, better not do that.

I kind of want his weight on me, but what he's doing feels good, too, and he's a man on a mission. This isn't idle licking going on. No, he knows how to read a map. My chest is slowly getting covered in a coat of clear Fraser paint. It's a little damp where he's been, and kind of itchy where I know he's going, like my skin's waiting for him or something, getting ready.

Then the bath stops. Stops long enough for me to raise my head and look down at him, see what turned the faucet off. I can only see part of his face and the top of his head, but I can tell he's looking down, looking down at me, at my dick.

Oh.

Yeah.

Last night I was still in my jeans. This morning we were under the sheets. So this is his first good look at me. I mean, he's spent his whole life around men; I'm sure he's seen his fair share of dicks. But maybe not this close. And probably not quite this happy to see him.

He's just sprawled there, in between my knees, staring at me. I feel him lift one hand off my hip, and it's moving toward my dick, slow, real slow. Too slow.

I put my hand on his head. "Fraser, you don't have to do that… do this."

The hand freezes in mid-air. "Do you want me to stop?" he says, so low I can hardly hear it.

"I just…Look, we decided to stay partners, right? And then I… sort of pounced on you, and… um… I know I'm not the smoothest move you ever saw," I tell him.

"You move just fine, Ray," and then it's like he wants to prove it, because his hand finishes its trip to my dick, and he slides his fingertips from top to bottom. Before I can help it, I've got his hair in a death-grip and I'm shuddering all over. I can feel my heart beating against my ribs like it wants to get out, and I'm breathing really funny, but I've come this far. I want to finish it.

"I'm just saying, in case you thought… Look, you don't have to do this to have that."

There. I couldn't say it in the motel, or the car, or the restaurant, but get me naked with a Mountie leaning hard on my ribs and then I can spill it.

He rests his head on me, which doesn't make me any harder, but it does do something weird to my heart.

"But if I want both, that's all right?" he says, rubbing his cheek on my ribs.

"Yeah, it's all right," I tell him, petting his head. "We've just got to be careful."

"I would never do anything to hurt you, Ray," he says, and he's starting to move his fingertips on me again. It's hard to be this turned on and laid open and still laugh, but I manage to do it.

This makes all the other times he endangered my life in wildly bizarre ways look like peanuts.

His hands are strong, hard on me, but his mouth's really gentle, and he's humming a little under his breath, so it vibrates on my skin. That's sexy as hell, which I'll tell him as soon as I can breathe again.

He doesn't fuss when I put both hands on his head and push him lower, down my stomach, down to where I've been living these last couple of days. I'm about to the point where I think I'm losing brain cells, where two more minutes of that lick, nibble, kiss thing he's doing is going to make me start crying, when he starts to talk again.

"Will you answer one more question for me?" he puffs against my stomach, drawing a lazy circle around my navel.

At this point, I'd jump off a building if he asked me to. One more question can't hurt me.

"Sure," I say, only I think it sounds more like "Shhhhhhrrrr".

He licks me again, right there where it should tickle, but doesn't, and says, "Do you love me?"

It's like he bit me. I don't believe it. We're back to that? We're back to that? All these hours later? I should have known. Persistent fuck is right. Is he predictable or what?

"Does Turnbull whiz in the woods?" I can't help it. The instinct to mess with his head is way too deeply ingrained to toss just because we had a heart to heart, but maybe I should have waited until his teeth weren't quite so close to my dick.

"Is that supposed to be an answer?" he says, and yeah, he's edging toward an edge in his voice.

Oh, God. Do I love him? I do. I really, really do. I'm like that dog that drools when it hits a lever, or hears a bell, or whatever. He gets snappy and I'm putty in his hands. Of course, to be honest, at this point, he does pretty much anything and I'm putty in his hands. Kinda scary, that. Kinda cool, too.

"I think it's a reasonable question, Ray," he says, and the parts of him that I can see, like the tip of his ear, and his left cheekbone, are starting to turn red.

Aw, to hell with it. He knows. He's got to. It's not that he can't tell; he just wants to hear it.

"Yes."

"You do?" Surely that's not disbelief I hear in his voice. If anybody should be kneeling down worshipping the love gods, it's me.

"Yes."

"Good," he says, and then I'm in, licked right up, sucked right down. My Dirt Devil Upright's got nothing on Fraser's mouth. God, I hope he lets me do this to him. I'll do it good for him. I'll be good for him.

I really want to be good for him.

"Good," I say back, holding his head, rubbing his ears. He sort of sighs around me, and his hands squeeze down on my hips.

This is good.

Yeah, it's good. It's very good. It's better than good.

It's great.


The end.