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

Pairing: Fraser/Kowalski

Rating: NC-17 for language and sexual content

Spoilers: Dr. Longball

Summary: Ray reflects on love, sex, and baseball, not necessarily in that order.


Layers

Part Four

by Bone


Is it just me? Or do we live in a wacky world?

I've been a cop for, what, fifteen years? Nabbed some bad guys, solved some crimes, tried to make it so folks could put their kids to bed at night knowing they'd be safe. Wait, no, that's Fraser's reason. Mine was more along the lines of making up for something really lame that I did before I was old enough to know better. But once I got into it, I got into it. I love the charge I get from making an arrest, I love the bump and grind of the interrogation room, the odd chance here and there to kick somebody in the head.

It's all for what Fraser calls the greater good, right? Cops and robbers. Good guys win, bad guys lose. White hats versus black hats.

It's a rush.

But it's got nothing on the thrill of bat smacking ball.

Nothing.

Marriage? Kids? A pension plan? Who needs 'em? I hit a fucking home run.

It was a Thing of Beauty, I'm telling you.

Women wanted to touch my bat afterward. The guys hoisted me up on their shoulders like I'd won them the World Series or something, and damn, if it didn't feel just like that.

Rockets red glare, bombs bursting in air, the whole bit. God bless America.

Even now, a couple of days later, watching the video of it again and again (and again, Frannie would say), I get a thrill out of it. I feel like I'm there, like I can feel it all over, all over me.

I'd like to think I've been doing some good in the world, all these years I've been in it, but nothing's ever felt quite like that.

Only one other thing's even come close.

You think I was scared waiting for that pitch? That 3-and-2 pitch? That end-of-the-ninth pitch? There I was -- count the seams, count the seams, count the seams, you dumb fuck, count the seams -- in the moment. It all came down to that. Do or die time, my friend. Do or die.

The wind up. Me and the pitcher, the only two people in the world. My eyes on the ball. Eyes on the ball. The wind up, the pitch, and crack, I smacked it, right on the sweet spot. Up, up, up it went, up, up, up... and over. Not a worm burner or a dying quail. Not a pop fly or a foul. Nope, I smacked an honest to God out-of-the-park homer.

You think that was scary? You think that was a big scary amazing honkin' rush?

You should have been there the first time Fraser let me fuck him.


We'd probably been partners with a capital P for a couple of weeks. Doing the dirty work during the day, getting good and clean at night. We'd eat somewhere, talk about the cases, and the Cubs, and the weather, and then we'd go back to my place for a couple of hours and fool around until we couldn't see straight.

Nothing straight about us.

Nope, we're bent as a beginner's nail.

So we had this sort of routine down, where I'd make us something to drink and we'd sit there, not drinking it, until he reached for me, or I reached for him, but anyhow, we'd get skinned and stretched out and make each other feel all kinds of good.

Fraser, once you get him out of the belt and that hat and those boots, is pretty much just a regular guy, only better, cuz, you know, it's Fraser. But I mean he loosens up good, once he's not so worried about what I think of him, which usually happens somewhere between me licking his ear and me rubbing his balls. I think up until then he's still thinking like a Canadian, but once I get down there, once I let my fingers do the talking, he close his eyes and opens his mouth, and polite isn't the first thing that comes to mind when I look at him.

I've learned what he likes. He likes my hands more than my mouth. Hey, whatever. He likes it when I talk to him; he likes to be face to face, which may be why he'd rather have me jerk him off than blow him.

Or maybe I'm just better at jerking. I dunno. I haven't asked.

He likes to watch. He likes me to use my hands on myself, which freaked me just a little the first time I figured out what all those stutters and blushes were trying to ask for, but now I get off on it, too. I mean, I get off on it. I'll be there, trying to be all, what is it...nonchalant... playing with myself, and I'll look up, and he'll just be sitting there, not moving, not touching himself, just...riveted on me.

When we do it that way, it's over quick.

I can draw him out. I've learned how to do that. When he starts the growling thing, like he's going to pop in the next ten seconds and I'm going be cleaning come off the ceiling, I just grab his balls and pull. He never thanks me at the time, but he's usually grateful later.

Anyway... the first time.

Like I said, I don't remember the specific day. What do you want, I'm a guy. Guys do good to remember wedding anniversaries and shit; don't give me a hard time about this. Fraser could probably tell you, but then he's weird.

We were messing around on the couch, like we do. Haven't made it to the bed yet. Haven't had any more sleepovers, either. Thatcher's worse than a mom when it comes to wanting all her ducks home to roost by midnight. "Early to bed, early to rise," she says. Yeah, he's bedding and rising at the same time, Ice Queen. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

So we've been couching it. It's fine, it works. I'm flexible and he doesn't give a shit about discomfort or awkward positions. He sleeps on a cot on a regular basis -- my couch isn't going to wing him.

I had one hand down under his balls, playing there like he likes, and my tongue behind his ear. I was half on top of him, holding him down with a thigh over one of his legs, and he had his hands on my back, half hugging, half rubbing. Given the way he was moving, I figured we were maybe two minutes from the main event, but he surprised me, put his foot flat on the couch and lifted his hips, and my hand slipped lower.

Way lower.

Before I could even figure out if I was supposed to apologize for touching him there, he put his head back over the arm of the couch and kind of gasped out, "Okay, Ray, okay."

Okay, Ray?

I must've froze up or something, because he opened his eyes again, looked right at me. Man, he looked wild. Hot and hungry and not quite all there.

"Okay, Ray?" he whispered to me.

"Um, yeah, okay," I told him, shaking off the freeze.

I let my fingers move, just a little, right around the... Geez, I didn't even know what to call it. It wasn't like I'd had much time to think about what I was going to call it. Especially not Fraser's.

I let my fingers move, just a little, right around his... hole. He moaned when I did that, and pushed up against my fingers. Oh my Lord, he felt good. All warm muscle and soft skin.

He pushed me off him, over onto my side, then took one of my hands and stuck it in his mouth, sucked on three of my fingers. I wanted to just climb right down his throat.

He likes my fingers -- I like his mouth.

That could have distracted me right there. I'm not ashamed to admit it -- he can make me come just by doing that. But he had other ideas (all kinds of other ideas; the man's a deep well, that's for sure), so I pushed down all the stuff I wanted, and tried to figure out what he wanted.

For being Mr. Talkative, he sure goes non-verbal quick when you get him hard. He slipped into that Fraser zone, where I have to recognize one groan from another, but it didn't take a genius to figure out that whatever I was doing to him, he liked it. Warm wet fingers must feel pretty good in your ass, because when I dove back down and started working my way in, he lost his mind. Thrashed all around, grunted some, pushed me in further, pushing down until I got all three fingers in him.

He rode those for awhile, breathing hard, sweating, gorgeous thing that he is. His face was red, and he had his eyes scrunched up tight, like he was concentrating hard. I thought that might do it for him. It would certainly have done it for me. Talk about liking to watch. I lined my dick up on his hip and every time he pushed up, I pushed against his side, rubbing all that smooth hip skin.

But Fraser had a goal, and my fingers weren't it. The man can hold it when he wants, and this time, he wanted.

He wanted me. On the inside. Lubed up, rubbered, and not gentle, either. Fraser's a man's man. Fraser can take it hard.

So that's what he got. He let go long enough for me to find the orphan condom in the medicine cabinet; long enough for me to practically bust a blood vessel trying to remember whether Neutrogena lotion has mineral oil as a base. He knew, of course, that it doesn't.

"Why didn't you just ask me?" he'd say later.

"Oh yeah, right," I'd say back. "By then, you weren't even speaking English, Fraser."

He conceded the point and the next day provided me with an economy-sized bottle of Astroglide, which now lives behind the Listerine in the bathroom cabinet.

But at the time, it was just me having a minor lube freakout in the bathroom, and Fraser wiggling around on the couch, waiting for me.

Waiting for me to fuck him.

I'd never fucked a guy before. I hadn't fucked anybody in what felt like five years, and this was like deflowering a serious virgin. Like deflowering a southern Baptist fundamental Italian girl raised by nuns. Given the state of me, and the state of him, I just didn't know if it was a good idea. Not to mention that if his insides felt anywhere near as good as his mouth, the whole kit and kaboodle would be over in about seven seconds, and then where would we be?

So I took a deep breath, told my dick to just chill already, read through the Neutrogena ingredients one more time, and headed back to the couch.

He was ready. I mean, really ready. He was kneeling on the couch, facing the back, with his hands braced along the back and his thighs spread. I wanted to take his picture, just like that, and keep it under my pillow for the rest of my life. Seeing him like that, so different from the way anybody else got to see him, made me want to do so right by him. Made me think I could last more than seven seconds if it was something he wanted, something that would make him feel good.

Made me think I could do it, after all.

He dropped his chin down to his chest when I put my fingers back in him, all slippery now, all slicked up. I moved on him and he moved on me, and we had a good rhythm going, like a slow dance where you hardly even have to move your feet, cuz it's all in the hips. Then I slid my fingers out, patted his hip so he knew I wasn't going anywhere, and rolled on the condom, feeling that stuffed-sausage feeling for the first time in years.

Even that was almost enough to make me lose it.

I knelt behind him on the couch, put one hand on my dick and the other on his hip and pushed. At first nothing happened, and I thought, shit, shit, shit, I knew this was a bad idea. Then Fraser took a deep breath and rolled his hips back and a little bit sank in. Then a little more. More deep breaths -- mine, his, who knows? -- and then half of me was in.

Inside him. Inside him, where it was hot, and rough and smooth, both at once. Weird. Different. Tight. Good.

A few more little pushes, a few more hip rolls, lots of deep breathing, and then we were there. Close as close can be. Couldn't get any closer than that. I leaned my chest on his back, felt his muscles quiver under me. I could feel his ass against my balls. Wild. What a wild, crazy feeling. I was part of him, inside, where it counted.

It made all the other stuff we'd done seem light as air.

I wished I could look at him, see his face, but I guess it was easier this way, for a first time. That made me realize I already wanted to do it again.

"You okay?" I said against his back.

"Hmmmmm," he said, which I took to be a yes.

"Okay if I move?" I asked him.

I got a thrust in response. Pulled himself right off me, then pushed back on. It was incredible. I just braced my hands on his hips and he did all the work. Took me in as deep as he wanted while he got used to it, then took me even farther in. I felt swallowed up, jacked in, turned on, like I was everything he'd ever need, right there on the couch.

"Ooooh," he moaned, one hand dropping down to cover his dick. He was close, I could tell, just from the sounds he made, by the way he moved. He started to pull away from me, but I grabbed his hips and held on with every scrawny bit of strength I had left in me.

"Where the hell do you think you're going?" I asked him, and he shook his head, one hand still on his dick.

"Towel," he muttered.

Oh, for Christ's sake. I'm fucking the man blind, and he's worried about coming on the couch? Obviously, I wasn't doing something right. I grabbed my t-shirt off the end of the couch and shoved it in his hand, then I pushed him down, and instead of letting him push back against me, I thrust in, hard, harder, changed the angle on him, anything to get rid of that last bit of Mountie decency in him.

It worked. He got maybe half of the stuff in the t-shirt, and the rest we scrubbed out of the couch cushion later. It's not like it was the first time that ever happened, and if I had my way, it wouldn't be the last.

And then, once I knew he was done, that I'd done it okay, that I hadn't hurt him, or screwed it up, I let myself go a little, too. Let myself get a little lost, until I couldn't feel anything except him against me, the heat of him, his body, inside and out. I rocked into him, slow as I could, deeper than I should, and he just let me, just stayed there, all pliant and strong, giving me everything.

Everything.

I closed my eyes, thought about who I was with, and what he'd wanted me to do, and how that made me feel, and came as hard as I ever have in my whole life.

Came so hard it scared me.

I hadn't known. I hadn't had any idea.

I loved Stella. I loved sex with Stella.

But this...

This was like walking into a final for a class you never took.

This was the real deal.

This was some scary fucking shit, right here.


He thought I was scared after a couple of handjobs and some tongue tangling; scared of my feelings, of getting that close

Nah. That stuff, I could handle

It took the fucking to really flip my wig.

So, of course, in good Kowalski fashion, I hooked up my metaphorical RV and high-tailed it to Mexico with a chick named Laura. A bad-check-passing chick with a hankering for a warmer climate.

The total opposite of Fraser, in other words.

I don't need a degree to figure that one out.

We didn't even make it on the plane before I figured out we were a total mismatch, mish mash, a big fat mistake. She gave the gate agent a hard time about what seat she got. Can you imagine Fraser ever doing that? Of course, lie down with a dog and you'll wake up with fleas -- it's not like I thought she was Betty Crocker.

It all went downhill from there. We didn't have anything to talk about. Not a thing. Me and Fraser can be on stakeout for like a bazillion hours and never run out of things to say. Well, he doesn't, anyway. And if it's quiet, that's cool, too. Nothing wrong with a little quiet.

Laura didn't seem to understand that.

So I adjusted the Fraser filter to Laura's frequency and tuned her out entirely, then spent the flight thinking about Fraser, and what a candyass I am, and wondering what the penalty would be for encouraging the pilot to go back to Chicago. Laura could probably have told me; she looked like she might have the penal code down.

I'd just thought maybe I could... I don't know. Cool my jets a little. Like maybe a change of scenery could put some... perspective on things. I'd forgotten how much energy it takes to love somebody that much. And I think maybe I never learned how to do it right. Maybe at thirty-five you're not supposed to fall head over heels like you do at twelve, but that's the only way I know how to do it. I didn't get much practice falling in love just a little. No, I only have one speed and it's full steam ahead, screaming stripped gears and all.

Or, to keep my baseball thing going, If I'm going down, I'm going down swinging.

Anyway, it wasn't like she broke my heart when she headed off with Pablo the poncho vendor. He got Miss Annoying (not to mention Miss Fraudulent -- hope he keeps his pesos somewhere safe) and I got a bitchin' poncho.

The call from Welsh was a relief, to tell you the truth.

And when I got up there, bat in hand, Fraser was just fine, pretty much like always, really. I made sure he knew right off the bat that the whole girl thing hadn't worked out, so he'd know I hadn't slept with her or anything.

I guess he knew what I meant; he didn't say anything about it after that, just went back to the day job. He helped me work on my stance, such as it is. Gave me some good advice, too. The man pitches like a demon. Where'd he learn to pitch like that? I thought he was all hockey and curling and shit. He's got a fast ball that could put you in the hospital.

I probably wouldn't have hit the home run if he hadn't helped me out. So some of that rush, that YESYESYES! feeling, belongs to him.

And that's my point here. Hitting that homer felt just like rounding third and heading for home with Fraser. Talk about do or die. Talk about a rush. Talk about wanting to shout it from the rooftops, wanting to watch the video 'til it's just white lines from all the pause-rewind-play action it gets.

(No, I didn't videotape it; what kind of creep do you think I am?)

It's just that it's the same feeling. Like I finally realized what God had in mind for me. Like all the shit I had to go through to get to that point suddenly made some sense. Like it was a reward or something. Or a way of making up for some stuff. Or a gift, just because.

A gift.

That's what Fraser feels like to me.

That's what it felt like to fuck him.

A gift.

Pure, sweet goodness from start to finish. Like he crawled in my skin and started building himself a cabin there. Like if I tried hard enough, I could just stay there, right in that good, good place. Like I'd wanted it all, and then, all of a sudden, I had it.

So what did I do?

Risked it all, all because I'm a chickenshit.

I could excuse it. But I won't.

But now might be would be a good time to explain it, I hope. I'm still kind of drunk on adrenaline and sports machismo, giddy from watching the tape sixteen times in a row with Dief. Still feeling on top of the world. It's not like I saved a life or anything -- all I did was hit a ball with a bat, but I can't stop grinning about it.

It was just about the rightest moment in the universe.

Okay, where was I? Right, right, talking to Fraser. About Mexico. About Laura. He's already seen what I got out of it: the poncho, which, even though I ditched him like the sorry dog I am, he still called "fetching."

Poor Fraser. He deserves better than me. Better than somebody who gets more excited about making a catch than solving a crime. Better than someone who gets freaked out when it looks like things might get deep and messy.

I'm not sure when the rest of the crowd went home, but now it's just me and Fraser, and Dief. I go pop the video out of the VCR and pat Dief's head when he whines at me.

"I know, I know, but we gotta get home. We'll watch it again tomorrow," I tell him.

He wags his tail at that. Good to know I've got at least one fan left at the Canadian consulate. I'm having a hard time reading Fraser, which I know is my own damn fault, but it still bugs me. I'm not nervous, exactly, but just curious about where we're going from here, both literally and figuratively. Will he come back to my place? Or is he gonna want to go home? And where'd we leave this thing we've got going? All right, there wasn't any "we" involved. Where'd I leave it?

I bailed on him. Bolted. Skedaddled. Left him high and dry at the mercy of Welsh and his out-of-town plans. Could have been me up there... wait, it was me up there. I can't believe Welsh pulled me off vacation to go to his brother's dippy dumb town on a case. Even if I went down there for all the wrong reasons, with all the wrong person, vacation time's, like, sacred to cops.

Still, it worked out good. Mexico didn't do much for me, except for the poncho, which I really do kinda like. Makes me feel like Steve McQueen. Of course, where am I going to wear it in Chicago? Maybe I'll throw it over the couch and it can be our designated come corner.

If he ever lets me do stuff to him again.

If he ever really talks to me again.

Now that's a scary thought.

I had some time to think about it on the way up there, and some more on the drive through cow country back to Chicago. That's a lot of thinking time.

The only real conclusion I came to is that I don't want to screw this up. I've already screwed up one love of my life, and I bet you only get so many chances. If my second go-round has to be a big, occasionally annoying, straight-and-narrow Canadian guy, well, okay, I can do that.

Obviously, the whole Mexico/girl thing was a big dumb mistake. Wrong girl. Wrong person, place, time. Wrong in so many ways. You name it, it was wrong. I ran away from something pretty great for something pretty stupid, and now I've got to fix it.

Hope he's up for that.


"Where to?" I ask him on the way to the car.

He just looks at me.

"Want to come to my place?" I ask him.

"All right," he says, and that's that.

So far, so good.

We're pretty quiet on the way home, and we go through the whole drink routine like we've got it choreographed or something, but when we get to the part in the program where we're supposed to start sucking face, he just sits there, staring at the carpet.

Okay, it's up to me. I got no problem with that. I just don't have a fucking clue what I'm going to say, that's all.

"I guess you'd like an explanation or something," I say. "For me leaving, I mean."

He takes a deep breath. "You don't owe me -"

"Of course I do, Fraser. Come on, I screwed up, all right?" He's not just going to deny there's anything here, is he? I mean, please tell me I didn't screw up that bad.

"All right, Ray," he says, but he's still not looking at me.

"All right, I screwed up, or all right you want me to tell you why?" I ask.

"Both," he says, and it almost sounds like there's a little smile in his voice.

"Yeah, yeah, I'm on my knees here," I mutter.

That gets him to turn and look at me, all quizzical.

"I don't mean I'm on my knees, Fraser; it's a thing, a turn of phrase."

"A metaphor," he says.

"Yeah, a metaphor for me being in the dog house."

That makes him look more confused, so I plow on.

"That thing we did, before I left, you know what I'm talking about?" I'm determined to get through this, however sucky a job I do.

"Are you talking about the night you made love to me?" he asks.

Uh-huh. That's it. That's it in a nutshell, and of course he doesn't think of it as fucking -- he probably doesn't even know that word. Well, of course he knows the word, he's spent two years in Chicago, but he wouldn't say it, or think about sex like that, or think about me like that.

Have I mentioned that he deserves somebody better than me?

"Yeah, that's what I'm talking about," I tell him.

"That's why you left?" he asks, and God, he sounds like a little kid.

Shit, I really fucked this up. Really fucked it up. He told me flat out, when we first started this, that he'd never do anything to hurt me, and I didn't even get two weeks in before I screwed up big time. I hurt him. Got all caught up in myself and left him hanging.

"Sort of," I tell him, scooting a little closer to him. "You know about me and Stella, right?"

He nods, and I can almost see his brain trying to work out the connection.

"I loved her since she was twelve. I went out with a couple of other girls, but never anything serious, you know? And then we got married, and I just kept loving her more and more," I tell him.

He looks down. "I know you love Stella, Ray."

He doesn't get it. See this nerve, right here? It's my last one, and it's starting to fray.

"That's not what I'm talking about, Fraser."

"Ray, of course you're talking about Stella," he says.

I forget, sometimes, just how literal he is. "You're right, you're right. I'm talking about Stella, only I'm not. I'm talking about you."

He rubs his eyebrow, a sure sign that he's either upset or confused, or both.

"Ray, I'm afraid I really don't know -"

"Okay, okay, here it is. What we did, you and me... I never felt anything like that before," I tell him. "Never. Not even with Stella, not even the first time with Stella."

He's gone really still. I can hear him breathing, but otherwise he's not moving.

"I...it freaked me, okay? It's just hard to... feel that much." I'm about whispering now, trying to get it all out. "I didn't know I could feel that much."

He looks at me again, and I can see that he got it this time. I don't have to figure out some other way to say it. He's not upset, or even confused. He's right there with me, along for my ride. It's okay. Or if it's not quite, it will be. I see that on his face, too. I guess I came in loud and clear, fuzzy as it sounded to me.

"But you're all right now?" he asks. "It's all right to... feel that much?"

"Yeah, well, I think so. I want it to be all right," I tell him. That's about as honest as I know how to be.

He leans over, so his arm's touching my thigh. "I have my own confession to make," he says.

"Yeah?" Man, am I glad to be off the hot seat.

"I'm the one who suggested that the best approach to the case might be to bring in an objective third-party, someone who could infiltrate the team and report back to us," he says.

Huh. Well, that's not too surprising. That was a good idea, and Fraser's got a good head on his shoulders.

"Still, Welsh could have brought in anybody," I say, putting my arm around him, tugging him closer, snugging him in.

"Actually, I suggested you would be best candidate, given your experience with professional baseball," he says in a rush.

I grin into his hair. "Fraser, you dog. You'd have spoiled my vacation, just like that?"

I think I'm feeling better. I think I'm honored.

"Just like that, yes," he says firmly, and for the first time he lets me hear just how mad I made him.

"You'd do it again, wouldn't you?" I ask, running my hand down his arm, feeling his muscles under his shirt.

"In a heartbeat," he says, and when he turns his head to look at me, his mouth is right there, right there where I can take it.

Right where I can tell him the best way I know how that he'll never have to do that again. He's not going to have to worry about me anymore. No more bolting. If I freak, he'll just have to deal. He's a big guy; he can handle it.

And as far as what I'm going to do, well, I'm going to make sure he knows how good it is to be with him like this. I'm going to show him just how all right it is.

I'm going to show him how it feels to slide into home.


The end.