Many thanks to Crysothemis, Dawn P, Kat and Aristide for beta-reading and encouragement.
Comments are welcomed at JBonetoo@yahoo.com
Rating: NC-17 for language and sexual content
Spoilers: Easy Money
Summary: Money might be easy, but sometimes love is hard.
Fraser scared the shit out of me today.
I thought I'd lose my mind out there in that stinky alley. What good is all that firepower if nobody'll use it? Even Welsh didn't get it. The guy was going to kill Fraser and his friend, and they were going to make me stand out there and listen to it happen.
Yeah, well, not while I still had breath in my body.
I guess I did lose a clump of my brain, cuz I don't know shit about motorcycles, and even less about jumping one through a window, but that's what I did. I don't remember too much about it, except Fraser's face. I've gotta say, he looked pretty happy to see me.
I said to myself right then and there that Fraser and I needed to have a little talk about the definition of partnership. I always thought it meant you worked on stuff together, thought that was sort of the whole point. Not that you work together until some old Eskimo... excuse me, Inuit... friend appears out of the blue and you head off with him instead, hide stuff, go off and get yourself in all kinds of trouble.
It's not that he doesn't deserve his own life. He does. Hell, if anybody deserves a choice here and there, it's Fraser. His whole existence is practically mapped out for him. The entire Consulate staff is wound pretty tight, and Fraser's the rudder on that dinghy, if you know what I mean. He doesn't get to make a lot of choices in the course of a normal day.
So it's no skin off my nose if he'd rather go spend a few days with his friend, his... what did he call him? His guide. I'm a grown-up. I can take it, if he just wouldn't go get himself tied up and threatened. That's what I have trouble with. That's not so much to ask, is it?
It's not like they were sight-seeing, doing the ferris wheel on Navy Pier. No, they were doing nitty gritty Chicago cop work, only neither of them are Chicago cops. Fish out of water, that's what they are. Babes out of the woods.
All right, all right, it's over. He's fine. He's fine, Quinn's fine, and I hear Dief missed the whole thing for a plate of spilled ratatouille. I bet he'll be hearing about that for awhile. The window's a goner, and the cycle's going to need some work, but on the whole, it turned out more good than bad. Welsh grumbled a little at me for not following procedure, but even he said it was a creative use of a motorcycle, so I guess I'm good.
Good, but still a little shaky. Not from the jump (or the landing, which hurt like a son-of-a-bitch about half an hour later), but from the worry.
And Fraser just acts like it was nothing. Like being tied to a post and trying to talk his way out of getting his brains blown out wasn't anything to get upset about. For all I know, that's standard training procedure for Mounties, but it would've scared me speechless. I wouldn't even know all that if Quinn hadn't told me later. Told me how cool Fraser kept it, how he worked on the knots. It almost made me think Quinn knew about us, the way he talked. Like he wanted me to be proud of Fraser, of how he held his own in there.
It's no surprise that Fraser's good under pressure. I've told him that before, and as soon as I get him alone somewhere, I'll tell him again. For now, it's good enough just to have him close by, walking and talking. Probably just as well we're not alone. I'm still see-sawing from "Damn, I'm glad he's still alive" to "What the hell did he think he was doing?" and I might say something that'd piss him off.
'Course, that's not an all-bad thing, not now that I know all those different ways to provoke him.
But now's not the time to think about that. It's really not the time. See, before I can get myself even halfway put back together after all the excitement, I get Shock of My Life #2 for the day.
Mom and Dad, in the flesh, astroturf and all, parked in the back lot. I'm not sure what that does to the whole Vecchio cover thing, but I guess we can always say they're cousins or something. Not sure a cousin would go to the trouble of towing a GTO from Arizona to Chicago, but we can probably make up something if it ever comes up.
The GTO. The beautiful GTO. She runs like a dream. She's clean as a whistle. She's more than a car; she's a state of mind. A state of mine.
I love this car.
I love knowing my dad thought enough of it, if not enough of me, to keep it in such good shape.
That's a good place to start. I think. Or else he's sick of looking after it and wants me to take over the job. Could be that. Could be. I'll never ask him, and he'll never tell me. We'll just stick with what we know we can talk about, like drive shafts and spark plugs.
Still, they came all this way, both of 'em, after all this time. They're a little whacked, but I think I'm glad they're here.
Yeah, it's been a hell of a day. Downs and ups, which isn't how my days usually go. I've got to go pay some attention to my folks. It's not a hardship; I mean, I love my folks. But I'd rather be going back to my place with Fraser, where I could take his clothes off and yell at him until he knows just how much I love him and just how much I do not want another day like today.
But instead, it's me and the 'rents, headed for Perkin's, where you can get the Tremendous Twelve breakfast any time of day. Now there's an upside to going with them instead of Fraser. Fraser looks at me like I'm going to keel over right there in the booth when we eat there. I think it's the gravy on the biscuits that really offends him. Too much of a good thing.
Too much of a good thing.
I'm not sure, when it comes to Fraser, that there's any such thing.
I hope Mom and Dad still set their clocks by Wheel of Fortune.
Maybe I can swing by the Consulate on my way back from dinner, take Fraser for a spin in the GTO. He'd probably like that.
Hey, it's as good an excuse as any.
I know it's been twenty years since I really dated anybody, and I wouldn't exactly call what me and Fraser are doing "dating," but there's still a little thrill in going up to the Consulate door and ringing the bell, knowing he's in there, knowing he'll come to the door and he'll get that 'Ray' look on his face.
You know what I'm talking about. Something softens up -- eyes, or mouth, I'm not sure since I'm usually looking at the whole package. But lately there's this look he gets that I don't see on him when he's looking at anybody else.
Yup, there he is. And there's the look I like. I don't know, maybe he's just answering something he sees in me. I'm not real good at hiding how I feel. I can stomp it down when I have to, like when we're at the station, or Jesus, with my parents -- you think the Academy went over like a lead balloon? -- but if there's no reason to hide it, well, then I see no reason to hide it.
I'm undercover enough as it is.
"Ray, I thought you'd be with your parents," he says, opening the door wide. "Would you like to come in?"
"Okay, sure," I say, stepping inside.
It's quiet as a church, and Fraser says, "Inspector Thatcher and Constable Turnbull have left for the day."
Cool. So it's just me and Fraser, just the way I like it. We haven't been by ourselves in the Consulate for awhile, not since being by ourselves meant anything more than arguing over dumb stuff without having anyone to referee.
"My folks have a routine they like to stick to, so I dropped them off back at the RV," I tell him.
"I see," he says, and invites me into the sitting room at the front. I haven't spent much time in here. It's a little formal for me.
"Can I offer you something to drink?" he asks me.
"No, thanks. We just ate. They saved you from a trip to Perkin's," I tell him, and that makes him smile.
It feels weird to be here by ourselves. Like we need a chaperone now, or something. At my place, it's easy. We know the deal, there. It's gotten so I can't even sit on the couch anymore without getting a hard-on. I have no idea what I used to do on that couch. Read, maybe. Watch some TV. Listen to music. Now the couch only sees one kind of entertainment, and that suits me just fine. That couch I get. This stiff loveseat thing I don't.
But today was a strange day right from the start, so I don't know why I'm surprised it's going to end the same way.
Fraser quits playing host and sits across from me, in one of the wing chairs. I guess maybe it feels a little strange to him, too, but it's not like I'm going to jump him in front of the Queen's portrait.
Neither of us says anything for a minute, but just when it starts feeling like the air's too heavy, he says, "The car your father brought, is that the one you told me about?"
"Yeah, yeah, that's it," I tell him.
"It was kind of him to maintain it all this time," he says.
"Yeah, it was," I say.
There's stuff there that I'm not ready to talk about yet. I don't know what it means, exactly, that Dad took such good care of the car, took the time to bring it to me. I think it's good, it's not that I don't. I just don't know what to think of it all yet, seems too early to say. He'd barely even talk to me. Before, I mean. It's like he was dead, or I was. Now I guess maybe he's giving me a second chance.
I look over at Fraser. He's got no Dad. No Mom. Alone in the world, pretty much, except for me and Dief, and the job, and a few people up north, like Quinn. Maybe that's why he went so gung-ho today. Maybe he's got his own way of getting second chances. That makes it a little easier to understand, but I'm not letting him off the hook that easy. He's got to know he can't just go off like that.
"You had me worried today, Fraser," I finally say.
"I had a moment or two of worry myself," he admits.
"What were you doing out there?"
That's what I say. But I'm really asking 'why wasn't I with you?' When I went back to the station, he wouldn't even tell me where he was going, let alone what he was doing. I knew he had something simmering, stewing in his head; knew something was off. He kept saying he was fine. Guess that might've been a clue, huh. If you've gotta ask your partner if he's okay four times, maybe he's not. Can't make him talk, though. Can't make him spill the stew.
But maybe if he'd talked to me, I could've helped.
"I was trying to help a friend, Ray," he says. "A friend who's gone out of his way many, many times to help me."
He's going to go the reasonable route, like he does. Which will probably make me pop my top, since that's what usually happens. The more rational he sounds, the more pissed off I get.
"I get that, I do. That's not what bugs me." It's not. I can understand wanting to help a friend. That's not hard to understand. I just don't get... I don't get why he didn't think I could help him with it.
"Then what is it?"
He wants to hear it? Fine, he can hear it.
"Why'd you have to go do it all on your own? I thought we were partners. More than partners, right? But there you go, getting yourself all tied up in a knot, and where am I? Standing outside, pulling my hair out, and Welsh is telling me to wait for the fucking SWAT team."
"Ray, there's no need -"
"Bullshit. There's every need. This is something we've gotta get straight, and I mean right here, right now."
I can feel a vein thumping away in my forehead, and my palms are sweaty. He looks sort of taken aback, like he really wasn't expecting a fight. What, I should just let him go off and get killed? It's like he didn't even think of seeing if maybe I could help.
"Ray, I'm sorry --," he starts to say, but I'm not really in the mood for it.
"What? What are you apologizing for?" I ask him. I can hear that tone coming into my voice. The one that totally gets his goat, that gets him up in my face like I'm up in his. Okay, okay, if that's what we're doing, that's what we're doing.
"I don't really know, Ray. I did what I thought was right," he says, and he crosses his arms across his chest.
Stubborn as a mule. I swear, he's stubborn as a mule.
"You ever think maybe I might have helped, if you'd asked?"
Aw, shit. That was supposed to be all tough guy, all in his face, but it came out sort of wimpy. I'm losing my Fraser edge.
"I'm sure you would have, Ray. But it wasn't something I felt I had any right to ask for your help with. There was a chance we would have to work outside the parameters of the legal system, and I couldn't ask you to assume that risk on my behalf," he says.
Even after all these months, and all those sweaty hours up close and personal, I'm still not entirely fluent in Fraserspeak, but that sounds to me like he thought they might have had to break a law or two, and he didn't want me to get in the middle of it, so he just did it by himself.
Typical. Just when he starts to see a shade of gray here and there, he cuts me out of the deal. He's finally seeing some gray, but I'm seeing red, and it's got nothing to do with the shade of that uniform jacket he's still wearing, even though it's almost eight o'clock and there's nobody here but me and the Queen.
He couldn't ask me to assume that risk.
He could have.
Feels like there's something heavy sitting on my chest. Like waking up to Dief squatting on my lungs. Or maybe he was right about that breakfast being the end of me.
I've got two choices: leave, or wring his neck.
Think I'll pick leaving.
"Next time, ask," I tell him, and I'm up, headed for the door, headed out to where I'm less likely to punch him in the nose.
I make it out the door, but that's probably just because I surprised him. By the time I get to the car, he's right behind me, climbing in the passenger seat of the GTO like he's got every right to be there.
"What are you doing?" Oh, yeah, that's good. Belligerent works.
"I'm trying to finish our conversation," he says, and he's pretty much matching me in the belligerence department.
"That wasn't a conversation, Fraser," I tell him.
"Well, what would you call it?" he snaps back.
"Oh, now you need my help?" I can't help it. He gets like this and I can't help myself.
It goes on pretty much like that, getting louder by the minute, and pretty soon we're talking over each other. Okay, shouting over each other. Doesn't stop him from bitching when I roll through a stop sign, either; he just adds it to whatever line of crap he's feeding me at the time.
We manage to control ourselves while we're walking up the stairs to my apartment. No need to flap our dirty laundry in front of the neighbors; I hear from them enough as it is about the dance steps in the middle of the night.
So I wait until the door's not just shut, but locked, before I turn on him again.
Whoa. He didn't get very far, did he? He's right there, chest to chest with me, face to face, and before I can even take a breath to start in on him again, he's got me backed against the door, held there with that good strong Mountie body, not quite rough, but definitely determined, and he's shutting me up the old-fashioned way.
Oh, God, yeah, that's better than yelling. That's what I wanted. That's...this is what I need.
All the worry and anger and, okay, yeah, fear, all hunker down in my insides, burn a hole in me. He's here, whole. Damn, I'm glad he's still alive. We'll get to the what-the-hell-did-he-think-he-was-doing later. Much later. Now I just want him to...I just want him... I just want...
And then I'm kissing him back, heat for heat, snaking my arms around him and grinding myself up into him, opening up wide for him, letting him in, sucking on his tongue like I could live on it. Against my belly, I can feel his belt, feel the straps and buttons of his uniform, and below that, I can feel him hardening up against my hip. His mouth's hot, fiery hot, like all those layers of wool he wears make him steam inside and it's all coming out through his mouth.
We're fighting, mouth to mouth, twisting and turning, trying to get closer, biting and licking. He doesn't get like this very often when he's in his uniform; it's like a chastity belt or something. Guess I really pushed his buttons this time.
Forget breathing, forget arguing, I just want to do this for the next three days, keep feeling that mouth, hearing the catchy sounds in his throat when he starts to move against me, tight hard pushes against me. I get my mouth off his, pull it off with this noisy suction sound. Holy cow, we were deep that time. Talk about your Six Fathom Shoal. He's got his eyes closed and he's already trying to find my mouth again, but I want something different, I want more. I want him to...
I push him just far enough for me to turn around. I rest my forehead against the door and let myself fall back into him. It's maybe an inch, no more. He's all around me; we're making this hot little air pocket with our bodies. He catches me, holds me around the chest, and his mouth finds the strip of skin between my hair and my shirt and homes in there.
"Do me," I whisper, rubbing my head against his.
Right away, one of his hands slides down between my legs, takes hold of me through my jeans.
Oooh, that feels good. He's got the greatest hands. But that's not what I want. I rub my ass against him, feel him adjust his stance automatically, so his dick's tucked in between. Yeah, he knows, he knows. At least his dick knows.
"Do me," I whisper again, and it sounds half desperate to me.
"No," he moans, rocking against me, finding the rhythm.
I drop my forehead back onto the door with a thud. Okay, okay, so it's not the best idea I ever had. Door-thumping sex is likely to get me evicted. I just want him so bad, want him in every possible way.
"Not like this," he says into my neck. "Not angry like this."
Oh, Fraser, you slay me sometimes. Slay me, flay me, slice me wide open.
He's always thinking. He never turns off, not even when he's turned on. I'm not thinking about anything, I hardly even care if the neighbors can hear us going at it, but not Fraser. Fraser keeps his head. Fraser's good under pressure.
Fraser's got it under control.
I guess it's a good thing one of us does.
I'm starting to rock harder, pushing myself into his hand, then back against his crotch. I've got both hands on his thighs now, pulling him closer, holding him there, where I want us naked and slotted together, but have to settle for the feel of him through all those layers of uniform, the sound of too many clothes rubbing against each other. I'm bracing myself with my head, and he pushes a hand between my forehead and the door, making a cushion between me and the wood.
His other hand's busy, unbuttoning, unzipping, and finally, he's got me out, hot in his hotter hand. He doesn't waste any time stroking or playing, he just starts pumping me hard, the long, sure strokes he's learned I like. I push my head into one hand, my dick into the other. It's good that he's holding me up, that's good, because my knees aren't doing their job, and I'm starting to shake. He digs his thumb in right below the head, presses hard right on the ridge there, and then I'm gone, making a mess on his hand and on my jeans, and probably the door, too, and he'd better get a better grip on me, somewhere besides my dick, cuz I'm sliding, headed for the floor. My knees just gave up completely.
He grabs me before I hit the floor, pulls me up with an arm around my middle. I can still feel him, hard, on my hip. Oh yeah, I forgot. Can't sully the uniform.
He's hugging me, smearing come all over me, but I don't care. Hell, that seems to be my shirt's second job most days. He's wrapped himself around me, so all I can smell is wool and my own sweat and come. He tucks his head between my neck and shoulder, rubs his mouth on my shirt, still just holding me back against him.
We stand that way for a little bit, breathing in sync, then he says, "Do you really want that?" His voice sounds kind of husky, like his mouth's dry.
I know what he's talking about. I nod. I can feel his hair against my neck, soft as a mink.
He's got one hand under my t-shirt now, and he's rubbing his thumb along one of my ribs. He knows I love that.
"Can we go into your room?"
I'm a dipshit. Of course he's not going to fuck me in the foyer. What was I thinking? Well, I wasn't. It's his own damn fault. He gets me riled up and worked up and then kisses me; what's he expect? Clarity? Decent conversation? He's lucky I didn't just strip him down and have him in the hallway.
"Yeah, sure," I tell him. I tug out from under his arms and lead the way, losing laundry as I go.
I don't know what I expected, but this isn't it. It's like drowning all over again. I can't breathe. I'm floundering, gasping for air, weighed down and floating, both at the same time. For once, I'm really, really glad Fraser's an in-control kind of guy. One of us should be, doing something like this, and it's obviously not going to be me.
God, I didn't know how different it would be. Didn't know I'd fall this far apart, didn't know I could let someone get this close, get right up inside me like this. I think I'm going to be finding strewn scraps of myself for days. I can't still be all here. I can't feel like this, feel this good, this...filled up... and not have it show.
I'm on my stomach, stretched out across my bed. Clean sheets, thank God. I'd made the bed and everything. I think we just bid a fond farewell to the couch -- if I'd known how much better it was to do this with some elbow room, we'd have been in here weeks ago. Maybe. Maybe something else was keeping us out there. Couching is one thing. Bedding him (or being bedded) seems like something else.
It's something else all right. It's out of this world.
Fraser took an agonizing amount of time putting me just where he wanted me: face down, one knee crooked, pillow under me. Like I was a sculpture or something, that had to be just so. Then he spent another agonizing amount of time getting me ready. Like I wasn't already loose as a goose, primed time. He rubbed me here, slicked me up there, and even that blew me away. Even just his fingers made me crazy. I could have come on just the fingers.
But Fraser's nothing but thorough, and so it felt like it took him ten minutes to poke his way in. I don't know where he got the patience. I sure didn't have it, when it was me doing him. I didn't mind. It hurt, a little, right there when he started. Slow worked, slow was good.
Slow didn't last very long once he wedged it all in, though.
Slow's not the word I'd use now, if words were still appearing like they should, which they're not.
He's hovering over me, propped up with his hands beside my head, and every time he thrusts in, I can feel him brush my back; rolling on, rolling off, rolling in, rolling out, like a wave. Maybe that's where the drowning feeling comes in; it's like he's sucked me in with him, pulled me under with him, like I'm feeling what he's feeling, and the other way around, too.
He feels humongous inside me. He's good-sized, but we're not talking John Holmes, here. I guess it's a question of proportion. Whenever he pulls back, I can hear the mutter moan I make, the protest. I don't want him out. I want him in, in as far as he can go, all the way in. When he gets in far enough, he rubs this amazing place, feels like I'm getting jerked off inside out.
I'm sweating up the sheets, leaking stuff, too, where I'm rubbing against them. I could probably get a hand under me, but I don't have much in the way of motor control. Mostly I'm just lying here, letting him do whatever he wants, however he wants it. He's sweating on me, makes it nice and slick, a smooth, smooth ride. His skin's hot where he's sliding on me, hot and tight, and he's pushing me, starting to push me, thrusting longer, harder, deeper, oh, yeah, that's right, just like that.
I'm struggling a little, trying not to just die down here, trying to remember to breathe, and my dick feels like it's going to just explode, shatter, like I'm breaking, falling.
"Fraser..." Oh, man, I sound... crazy. Like I've lost it.
"I know, Ray, I know," he says against my shoulder, and he drops down on me, lets me have his weight on my back, lets me feel him, solid on top of me, real. It helps. It helps. One more thrust, the deepest yet. Another, and I hear him groaning, feel his mouth open on my shoulder, feel him jerk inside me, and then it's okay, it's okay to let go, and it's a relief to come, to feel that wave break over my head, wet stuff gushing out under me, hot and slippery.
And then I can breathe again. I'm panting, drinking in big gulps of air, but when Fraser tries to lift himself off me, I throw an arm back, awkward, but I don't care, and hold him down, hold him on me. He's not going anywhere just yet. No, he can just stay right there. He did this to me, now he can just hang out while I figure out what the hell happened. God in heaven, I thought doing this to him changed my world. I thought I knew what sex was all about. I thought I knew how love and sex went together.
I didn't know shit.
He's talking to me, right into my ear, low and sweet.
"It's okay, Ray, it's all right," he's saying, crooning almost, and he's wiping sweat off my face. Sweat. I think it's sweat. Could be something else, but if he's not going to make a big deal out of it, I won't, either.
He understands. He understands me. He knows.
He's been me.
He knows how this feels.
I guess I sweated out most of my mad. He's pretty relaxed, too, compared to how he was. We had a pretty hard day. I don't guess it's any easier being the one under the gun than being the one standing outside worrying about it.
We're both on our backs, breathing hard, trying to cool off, trying to cool down. My muscles are still quivering, like they could do it all again with just a hint of encouragement, but we've still got some stuff to talk about before we steam things up again.
And this time, I'm not going to let him distract me.
It's gonna be a race, I can tell. If I can just keep his mouth off me for two minutes, I've got a fighting chance. Of course, if it comes down that -- win, lose, whatever -- it's all good. I take a few more deep breaths, loving the rush of air, how it makes me sort of dizzy. Okay, okay, I'm not so scattershot anymore. I might make some sense. We'll see.
"You know, Fraser, you almost got yourself killed today," I say.
"It was a precarious situation, yes," he says back.
"What makes you do stuff like that?" I ask him, gathering enough strength to roll up and lean over him.
"It's my job, Ray," he says, but he won't meet my eyes. "My duty."
"Not like that, it's not. Not without backup, not without some protection," I tell him. God, I want to tattoo that on his body somewhere. He just barrels ahead all the time, doesn't think about anything but The Job, doing his Duty. Being a goddamn Mountie every minute of the day.
It takes him a while, but eventually he lifts his chin and looks up at me. His hair's wet, sticking up, and he's pale, everywhere except his mouth and his eyes. I love this Fraser, this unwound, undone Fraser. Love the sweat under his lip, love the shiver he gives when I breathe on his skin.
"I haven't had much reason to be careful, and I suppose I've become accustomed to living with a certain level of risk," he finally says, real low.
"Is that another way of saying you haven't had anything to lose?" I ask him.
He tilts his head back and looks away, up at the ceiling, then nods, slowly.
"Yeah, well, now you do. So just get yourself accustomed to that, okay?"
Honest to Pete, he can be a scary guy. It's like he's got no idea how important he is. Nothing to lose, my eye. He's so good at so much stuff, but it's like he's got no clue that any of it adds up to anything. Or that maybe he's plenty good enough even without the uniform. How can he not know that?
He nods again, and looks back at me, narrowing his eyes, like he's thinking hard about something.
"Ray, I've been wondering... How did you find us?" he asks me.
"Our location, this afternoon. How did you determine where we were?"
"Oh. Well, Turnbull called, faxed over a sketch of Kelly, and I busted Storey's chops 'til he sang like a bird," I tell him.
"I see," he says. "In other words, you did find a way to help."
Clever guy, isn't he?
"Oh, no, Fraser, don't make like that makes it all right," I tell him, and he pulls me down onto his chest, lines us up so I've got my face in his neck. He smells sweaty and Mountie-y, like soap and shaving cream.
I can feel the breath he takes under my chest, and under my mouth, I can feel his voice hum in his throat. "Ray, I couldn't...I didn't exclude you on purpose. I..."
I slide my hands under his shoulders. "I know."
I do know. He just does what he thinks is right. Ninety percent of the time, it works out fine. It's the other ten percent I worry about.
He's more tentative than before. "Does that mean..."
"It means don't do it again, Fraser, okay? Just... don't."
I feel him sigh under me, then his arms go around my back, squeeze tight. I'd like to keep him this way, all relaxed, and naked, and safe underneath me.
"Understood," he says.
I know what that means. That means he heard it, and he doesn't necessarily agree with it, but he's not going to fight me on it now. He knows he might as well let me have this round. It won't change anything. Next time he hears a cry in the wilderness he'll still be gung-ho, tilting at windmills, saving the day, but at least he's smart enough to tell me what I want to hear right now.
With Fraser, half of it's about the stuff he doesn't say. You just have to know how to listen.
See? I understand him, too.