Working on Forever
© Dec. 2001 by Starfish

Pairing: F/K
Disclaimer: Still not mine. Still hoping.
Rated: NC-17 for sex! Between two men! I'm shocked, I tell you, shocked.

Notes: This is Part Two of Wildly Courteous Ways. It follows immediately after, but from Ray's POV. I have to dedicate this one to Colleen Kane, who gave me nearly instant feedback for WCW containing the fateful words "...wish there'd been a denouement." Then Ray popped into my head, saying "I sure as hell hope that means 'sex' in Canadian, lady, 'cause I didn't get none yet..." So. Here we are. And Ray had some things he wanted to settle, anyway. He's never been happy to let Fraser do all the talking.

Thanks to Amy for the read-through, and everyone else who encouraged me to keep writing in this new fandom. It sure ain't the X-Files!

I follow Fraser up the stairs at a run. Don't quite know how he can move that fast in those jeans, but I guess he's motivated. Christ knows I am.

Ooops. Mo-ti-va-ted. That's another David word. I think my days of playing dumb are over, at least for a while. It may take some time to put him back in his box and be me again. I have to do it, though; I'm pretty sure Fraser didn't like David much at all. Which is fine, 'cause I didn't either. He was a supercilious twerp, you want my honest opinion.

But it's weird how people treated me differently when I was him. Just by speaking correctly, I became another person, one that got respect. I got...deferred to. I won't pretend I didn't enjoy it, but it was a lot of work, too. Remembering all those rules makes me crazy. So on the outside, I was a person Fraser could maybe not be ashamed to be seen with. Somebody he could dress up and take places, and I wouldn't stick out like I do usually. On the inside, though, I was still me.

Which isn't a problem, 'cause Fraser likes me. Oh, yeah. I got no doubts whatsoever on that count. I feel like a junior-high-school kid about it sometimes. Get this funny feeling in the pit of my stomach I never had before, not even with Stella. Certainly not with Luanne, or any of the other chicks I dated since the divorce. It's a FraserFeeling. Took me some time to come to terms with it, feeling that way about a guy and all, but it got easier after I stopped fighting it. And him.

And who would have thought he was so good at phone sex? Surprised the hell out of me, that's for sure. But every night, there he was. Making suggestive remarks, making me crazy 'cause I wanted him so bad; or else just talking, telling me about his day, what stupid thing Frannie said, how him and Vecchio worked a bust, one of Dewey's bad jokes. And then I could sleep.

So now I'm about to find out how good he is at the up-close and personal kind of sex. I don't think either one of us is gonna last more than a couple of minutes this first time. I've been taking care of things on my own all week, cold showers, jerking off, thinking about Mort (biggest turn-off ever, in my opinion) - nothing works for long. It might have been a mistake to swipe his pillowcase. (Fraser's, not Mort's. Eeuw.) But it smells like him, and that's all it takes. Pavlov's dog, that's me. Only it ain't just my mouth that's drooling...heh.

We're at the door, and he's fumbling with the keys. Mister Control, Mister Stand-Back-I'll-Take-Care-of-This -- I'd laugh to see him like this, but I want to get in that door as much as he does.

Okay, door's open now and he's pulling me through it. Kicks it shut behind us and pushes me up against it. Hot damn, this is good. He's leaning against me full length, hands on the door on either side of my head. Oh, God, and then he starts to talk. I can feel his voice where our chests are pressed together.

"Ray?" Sounds a little breathless and a lot turned-on. Goodie for me. And I am loving how he says my name right now. Wanna hear it again.

"Raaaaay." Oh yeah. Juuuust like that...I push my hips forward as much as I can with 200 pounds of Mountie bearing down on me, and he groans.

"What's up, Benton-buddy?"

I swear he giggles. "At the moment, both of us." And then he dives in and bites me on the neck, right under my ear. Jesus, that's so good. I lean my head over so he gets the idea, and push against him again.

"Want you so bad, Benton Fraser. Come on, that's right, do it, right there..." Got my hands on that gorgeous body now, and I am never letting go. Nuh uh. They'll have to pry him out of my cold, dead fingers. My T-shirt is so tight on him I can't see how we're gonna get it off, but I'll use my teeth if I have to. Ooh, there's a thought...

Okay, got some skin now, managed to pull the shirt out of his jeans in back. He's hot - well yeah, that too, but really hot, burning my fingers almost. A little sweaty too, and I'm gonna take the shirt and seal it in a Ziploc bag after this, see if I don't. I bury my nose inside the collar of his jacket and inhale. Niiiice. Woo hoo, looks like I got a kink.

My fingers are trying to get under his waistband, but it's just not working, so I give up and grab on through the jeans. More groaning, not sure if it's him or me this time, 'cause now his tongue's in my ear.

"Want these jeans off, Fraser."

"Mmmm." Shit, now he stopped with the licking. "Ray, I have to tell you something first." Okay, nuzzling is good. Real good, in fact.

"Fraser, this is no time for True Confessions."

"I lied about your underwear."

"Knew that. I wasn't missing any, and they wouldn't fit you."

"But I'm, uh, not wearing my underwear, either."

Then whose ... ohgodohgodohgod. Commando Fraser. I whimper, and my knees literally get weak for a minute. Start to slide down the door, and he catches me by the shoulders so I don't fall. He's got that wicked grin on his face, and I remember I haven't kissed him yet. Oh jeez, not since Sunday morning, and that wasn't my best effort.

I lean forward and plant one on him, right on that grin, and Bam! Ladies and Gentlemen, we have tongue. He's not shy at all, just opens right up and I am so all over that. Love to kiss, always have. Never kissed another man before, but I'm the 'try anything' guy, and this is way better'n I ever thought it could be. I can tell he's into it as much as I am, that's for sure. Don't have to wonder if he's just being polite, don't have to be careful not to go too fast...'cause he's in high gear right now. At least, I hope this is his top speed. God help me if it's not...

Shit, if he doesn't slow down, I'm going to embarrass myself here. But damned if I want to stop either, so I give up on control and just let it happen. I know this isn't a one-time deal, so maybe slow can wait.

His hands are getting busy now, trying to take off my jacket. It's the only one I own that I really like, so I help as much as I can 'cause I don't want it to get torn. He gets me out of that and the shoulder holster and I guess the shirt is next. His shirt, actually -- yeah, I'm a romantic fool. Wanted him close to me today. I think he gets that, seeing's how he's got one of mine on. He breaks the kiss, just when I was about to run out of air, and puts his forehead right up to mine. All I can see is one big eye.



"You're wearing my shirt."

"Oh, am I?"

His hands are busy pulling the shirt out of my pants, then they get underneath it and he's touching every inch of my skin he can reach. "It's my shirt, Ray."

"So you said."

"I want it back."

"Do you. Do you really. That's very interesting." This little break is giving me a chance to get back some control. Plus I love this playful side of him.

"Can I have my shirt back now, please?"

"Well, since you said please..."

He growls, which puts me back on the edge again. It's pitiful, really. Here I am, 37 years old, ready to come in my pants and he's barely even touched me. I'm gonna need to start taking vitamins or something.

He gets the shirt off but keeps it around my wrists, which he's got pinned to the door over my head. He's still wearing his leather, and he leans in and rubs against me sideways, so the zipper catches on my nipples. Oh, Christ, that's good. The sideways action is also doing incredible things to my cock, which is very happy to finally meet Fraser's cock, even if they're still separated by a couple layers of clothing.

And wouldn't it be great if we were naked? Oh, I am so ready to move this little party into the bedroom. But I think Fraser has other ideas.

He stops rubbing and he's just kind of swaying now, back to licking my neck, it's very nice but I need more. And I know just how to get to him...

"So, Frase, you gonna do me up against the door?"

"I just might," he says, and grinds into me a little harder. Ohhhhh, yeah...bedroom? What bedroom?

"Sounds good to me. Can I get my hands back? I need to touch you. I want you so bad, Frase. Want your skin next to mine, wanna feel your sweat, I need you, want you, please..." I'm babbling, I can't think any more. He lets go of my hands, and I peel his jacket and T-shirt off and go for his jeans.

But the damn things are so tight I can't undo the button - I'm afraid of hurting him. "Fraser, help me out here. You do yours, I'll do mine."

His eyes are glazing over - I know that look, I've had that look before. We don't have much time left and I want to see him. My hands are fumbling with my belt and then my zipper is down, and my pants fall right down to the floor. The boxer briefs get pulled down too, stopping around my knees, and I'm sure I look ridiculous, but Fraser's eyes say different. He stops struggling with his jeans and goes down to his knees in front of me.

I'd ask him what he thinks he's doing, but by the time I can even get out "Wh-" it's very obvious what he's doing.

"Oh, Ray," he says, and his tongue does that thing with his lower lip and then he licks me. Licks my cock like it's a Tootsie Pop and he wants to get to the center; and I can't even get it together enough to smile at that 'cause he's really, really good at this. Both hands on my hips and he just sucks it right in, tongue twisting around the tip...and one hand leaves my hip and grabs the base of my cock and strokes and strokes...and I'm gone. Don't even have time to warn him, but it doesn't look like he cares. In fact, he looks very pleased with himself.

My knees aren't working too good anymore, so I try to fall over sort of gracefully. Works about like you'd expect, since I've still got my shoes on, so my pants are stuck at my ankles, but Fraser catches me and pulls me down on top of him. Feels so good...

"God, Ray, that was...magnificent."

"I think that's my line, Frase. Hey, what about you? I'm not gonna leave you hangin'."

He laughs. "Well, you see, between the friction from my jeans and, well, the anticipation..." He's blushing like crazy and I get it.

"Oh, man, Fraser, you didn't."

He nods. "On the bright side, though, I should be able to get my jeans off now with very little problem." I press my face into the side of his neck and snicker, then move up to give him a kiss. It feels different now, without all the urgency. Feels, I can't go there yet.

We lay like that for a few more minutes, until I start to get cold.

"Okay, come on, buddy. Take me to bed. I need to sleep so I can keep up with my new boyfriend."

A very un-Mountie-like snort comes out of him. "Boyfriend, Ray? I hardly think that's accurate."

"Oh, sure, you men are all alike. Show a guy a good time and then dump him by the side of the road." I've managed to get my shoes off, and my pants and briefs don't give me any more trouble. Socks off too, then I go to work on him. He tries to bat my hands away, but I'm very determined and I finally get his jeans undone.

Oh, man. I rock back on my heels and just take in the picture. He looks... debauched. "Hey, Frase."

His smile gets bigger, like that's possible. "What?"

"I messed up your hair. Hell, I seduced a Mountie. What kind of badge they give you for that?"

Happy, sappy Fraser. He says, "I'll see what I can do."

I'm still staring at him, can't quite believe it's finally happened. We've been building up to this all week, hell, since the first day we met, probably. Yeah, 'cause I don't give just anybody a full-body hug. Should'a realized right then. Nope, me, it takes a punch in the jaw and a story about a Great Lakes freighter.

Fraser reaches out and grabs my hand, gives it a squeeze. I squeeze back, shrug, and settle down on top of him again. Floor's a little cold, but not too bad. He makes a thoughtful noise.

"Ray, it suddenly occurs to me that you might think I was 'seduced,' so to speak, by David. Nothing could be further from the truth."

"Yeah, I know that. You didn't even like David."

He looks a little startled. "How did you know that?"

Instead of answering him directly, I reach over and grab my jacket from where he dropped it. Fish around in the pockets until I find the ID case I got back from Welsh earlier tonight.

I flip it open in front of his face - another echo of the past. "Fraser. What does this say?"

He looks puzzled. "Actually, Ray, it says 'Chicken Inspector'."

"What? Fuckin' Dewey, I'm gonna kill him..." I peel off the tape and hold it up again. "Take two, Fraser."

"Ah. 'Detective First Grade'." I throw it back over on my jacket.

"And what am I good at?"

He smirks, and I thwap him on the arm I'm not on top of. "Work with me here, Frase. Police-type stuff. You can flatter me on my sexual prowess later."

Another smirk, and he gets serious again. "As a detective, I'd have to say your finest attribute is your instinct. Your 'gut', I think you'd call it."


"Oh. Hmm...."

"Body language, Fraser. You never looked me in the eye when I was being him. At first I thought it was the flirting making you nervous, but then I realized it was the fact that it wasn't sincere flirting. It was...a façade, something I did so I could bury me a little bit further. And -- I probably should apologize for it."

"Ray, you needn't apologize for anything. I understand that what you do when you're undercover is...necessary."

"Don't like lying to you, Frase. I gotta do stuff sometimes I'd never do if it was my choice. But I don't ever want to lie to you. And not just because now we're..." Damn. I want to say lovers, but I can't yet. And it's way more than fucking, so...what are we? And Fraser answers me, like he can hear what's in my head.

"A duet?"

"Yeah." Good word. That's exactly what it feels like.

"Indeed." We lay there, just...being. I've got one hand in his hair, just playing a little like I've been wanting to for a while. He's got his hand brushing over my tattoo, and I notice he's wearing my bracelet. Gives me a lump in my throat for a second. I knew he'd found it, he said he was wearing it, but seeing it on him Shit, this is so far beyond what I expected, I can't even see it from here.

"So, Frase, you done this before?"

He chuckles, and I know he's gonna get all - what's the word - pedantic on me, so I wait.

"I'd like to think you'd remember it if I had, Ray."

"Doof. I was trying to be oblique about it, but I guess I'll just come right out and say it - that was a damn fine blow job, Constable Fraser. Not your first, I'd imagine."

Oh, great, now he looks guilty. He moves out from under me and sits up. Then he kind of hunches over, like he's waiting for something painful. Fuck, can't believe I did this. I sit up too and reach over, rub his shoulders, trying to tell him it's all right.

"Fraser. Cut it out. Didn't think you've been living in a plastic bubble all these years, okay? It wasn't a slam. Just an observation. And I'm not going to 'broil' you about it. Tell me if you want; names, no names, whatever makes you happy. I'd reciprocate but you've met mine already."

His eyes get real big. "Stella? Stella"

"First, last and only. And I swear if that gets back to Dewey I will track you down and gut you."

"Ray, it's nothing to be ashamed of. I think it's admirable for you to have been faithful to her like that. But...since the divorce?"

"Well, I've dated and stuff, but sex is a really big deal for me. I mean..." Oh, now I've done it. Way to play it cool, Kowalski. Scare him off, why don't you?

He just looks serious and thoughtful. "For me as well, Ray. And I'd like you to know ... aside from Victoria, about whom I have told you, there was only one other...a man. I'd rather not tell you his name, as I don't have his permission. But it was over long before I met you. He was...very special to me. He taught me a lot about myself in the short time we were together. But it was never meant to be forever. We both knew that."

I want us to be forever. But I don't honestly know if I can say it. I thought that's what it was with Stella, but she had other ideas. What if I'm wrong again? What if I'm nobody's forever guy?

An awful thought occurs to me. "This other guy, it wasn't...ah, jeez, you weren't doin' Vecchio, were you?"

He looks at me solemnly and says, "Like bunnies, Ray. Every chance we got. Stake outs, late shifts in the supply closet...he used to call me his Benny-Bear."

The blood's pounding in my ears, and then I hear what he said. Son of a bitch, he almost had me. I tackle him back down to the floor and kiss him hard. "No fair tripping my jealousy trigger, Frase. You could'a just said 'No'."

He hugs me just as hard. "There's no need for jealousy, Ray. Ray is brother. We are close, but there is nothing of a romantic nature between us, nor will there ever be. And -- I would ask that you don't imply such to him. Even as a joke, Ray. It would not be taken well."

Oho. "You told him."

Awkward pause. Then he nods.

"Quite some time ago. Not about us, obviously. About me."

"And?" Can't shut him up unless it's important, then it's like pulling teeth, I swear.

"And ...we reached an understanding."

Jesus. "Which was?"

Half a smile now. "That he didn't understand. That we wouldn't talk about it. That it made him uncomfortable to think about it, so he wouldn't."

I want to kick the selfish bastard in the head - Vecchio, not Fraser - but I know I can't. "That's really not fair, Frase. He shouldn't have done that to you."

He smiles again, not so sadly. "It's all right, Ray. He did the best he could - it's how he was raised. And he never treated me any differently after he knew."

Okay, he can live. "So I guess he's not going to know about us?"

"We'll certainly have to discuss that. If we are to maintain a friendly relationship with him, it will become difficult to conceal our intimacy for long."

"Yeah, I'm gonna have trouble keeping my hands off you, too. So -- tell him?"

Fraser sighs. "I think we should. And sooner, rather than later."

"We could have him over for dinner tomorrow. Today. Friday night."

"Yes. That will work admirably."

"Should we get a movie? Maybe 'The Bird Cage'?"

"Perhaps something a bit more subtle, Ray."

"The Crying Game?"


"Okay, he brings the movie, I buy the pizza. Deal?"


I lean over and kiss him, because I can and it's a lot of fun, but I've had enough of this floor for one night.

"Okay, bed. Now. Sleep."

"Bathroom. Clean up. Brush teeth."

"Silly Mountie."

"Sexy detective."

Oooh, he's doing that growling thing again. I haul him up to his feet and turn him towards the bathroom. Have to go back for my bag, which I dropped by the door when we came in.

We brush our teeth side by side, which is about the stupidest thing in the world to get turned on over, but I guess 'cause it's Fraser, it's working for me. I'm way too tired for any more sexual hi-jinks tonight, though. It's been a hell of a week.

But when we're in bed, I can't go right to sleep. First we get comfortable, which finally works out to me spooned up behind him, my hand on his wrist over my bracelet. And then there's that thing that's been nagging at me. Want to tell him how I feel, that this is the real thing, and I think I can do it if he's not looking at me. Don't know why I'm so scared; I already said it once, even if I backed right off a second later. 'Symbolically,' Jesus. That was lame. But I don't know if guys do this. 'Stranger in a Strange Land,' yeah, that's me.

And just when I decide I don't care if 'guys' do this, we're not just 'guys' here, we're us, and I open my mouth, he says, "Ray? Are you still awake?"

I kiss the back of his neck. "Yeah. Are you?"

Gets a snicker out of him. Hey, any time I can make him laugh I'm gonna do it. I don't think he's laughed enough in his life.

"What you said before about sex being a big're right, it is, for me as well. And I want you to know that I...." He stops, and takes a big breath, but before he can go on I put my hand over his mouth.

"Fraser, I love you," I say. "I did before, I do now, and I will tomorrow. Before, it had nothing to do with sex and everything to do with who you are. You taught me how to be a better person. And I don't mean the Canadian lessons. And now, now that it's this kind of love," and I take my hand away from his mouth and hug him hard, "the naked kind, I feel like I can finally tell you."

He sounds a little choked up when he says, "And tomorrow?"

"And tomorrow I will tell you again."

He sighs happily. "Good. I look forward to that. Ray, I -- I've loved you for a long time also. I just didn't face up to it until we were on our quest. And I hope you can forgive me for not saying it sooner."

"God, Frase, what's to forgive? It's a scary thing, telling somebody that. Even just saying 'I want you' is a huge risk."

"But you did it, Ray. You made the first move. And if you hadn't, we -- I never could have done it. I was so afraid of losing our friendship. How...what made you do it?"

"I guess I was scared too. But not about losing our friendship. I was about 95% sure you weren't gonna pop me one. I was scared of waking up someday and realizing that I had the chance, and I threw it away. Could'a, should'a, would'a; and then it's all over and you got nothin'. And I knew I had the chance right then for something bigger and better than anything I ever dreamed of, and hell if I was gonna throw it away 'cause you weren't a chick."

After I say it, I realize how it sounds. But we all know it's a happy hetero world out there. It takes a lot to walk away from what your parents and everyone else thinks is 'normal'. It was a huge deal for me to do it, and that's what I'm trying to tell him.

"What I'm sayin' is...I gave it a lot of thought, Frase. I almost thought it to death, in fact. What will my parents think, what if the guys in the squad find out, and what it all came down to was that none of that mattered as much as what if I don't, and it's my last chance at forever?"

I stop, 'cause I've said what I needed to, or maybe too much, and now I wait for his reaction.

"Forever?" he asks, and I hope I get this right, 'cause it means everything.

"If you don't mind. I mean, I didn't figure you for anything less."

"Forever sounds...good. Great, in fact. But what if -"

"No more 'what ifs' allowed, Fraser. I'm a goal-oriented kind of person, I don't let stuff like that slow me down. If we have problems, we deal with them. But I'm not gonna lose out on life 'cause I'm worried about 'what if'. Or weren't you listening just now?"

He's quiet for a minute, and I really hope I didn't blow it, and then he says, "I think that's an eminently practical attitude, Ray."

And just because I like to play, I say, "What's that mean in American?"

"It means 'Go to sleep, you're going to need all your strength to keep up with your new boyfriend'."

That gets me laughing, of course, but finally we settle down and get sleepy. The last thing I feel is Fraser's wrist with my bracelet still on it, and I smile and kiss his shoulder. First night of forever, hope they're all just like this.


I get woken up in the nicest way possible. Fraser's got his mojo workin', that's for sure. And that licking habit of his? I will never, never say another bad word about it. 'Cause evidently my nipples are one of the things he wants to lick, and God, I didn't know it would feel like this, but I don't want it to stop.

So I'm squirming and moaning, and his hands are doing all sorts of things to me that I'd like to do to him, given half a chance. And then I realize that there's nothing stopping me, so I reach out and put my hand on his hip. Slide it around until I find his cock, which is a weird feeling, but I'm beyond thinking about that. The angle's really awkward, he's a little too far away for me to get a good grip, but I can tell he's enjoying it anyway. He scoots up until he's working on my collarbone (jesusgod that's good) and now I can use a little better technique. Not that I have one, mind you - I'm just using what feels good on me.

It's been too long since I had to figure out what somebody else wants, and even though I got an idea, I figure communication is good. "Hey, Fra-" Damn. I can't keep calling him that. Not in bed, anyway. 'Benton' is out, and so is 'Benny', but I'm adaptable. "Ben?"


"Hey, up here. Leggo my shoulder for a minute."

He does, and I can see his face for the first time this morning. His eyes are so bright, and he's smiling like it's Christmas and his birthday. And the thought that it's me making him look like that is just sizzling right down to my cock. I wrap my free hand around the back of his neck and yank his face down so I can kiss him. We kiss for about a month, I think, until even his lungs need air. When he pulls back, I feel like one of those cartoon characters after they get bopped on the head. I expect to see little birdies flying in a circle over me, but all I see is Ben.



"You like the name?"

"Very much. Why do you ask?"

"Just wondering. Can I ask something else?"

He's a little breathless. "Are you always this talkative?"

"You like what I'm doing?"

"God, yes."

" 'Cause if there's something else you want, you just need to tell me. Or uh, show me. I can do whatever you want, Ben. Well, I can learn, anyway. I'm a real quick study." And ohhhh, what his hand is doing now....

"Ray, there is one thing I'd like you to do for me."


"Shut up for a minute, would you?" He smiles so I know he means it in a good way, and leans back down into another kiss.

He moves his hand away from my cock now, and then he angles himself over so he's lying on top of me. I get my own hand out of the way just in time, and my cock and his are right next to each other. I remember this from high school, down in Stella's basement rec-room, before we were ready to go 'all the way'. Me and her, all our clothes on, rolling around on the couch, trying real hard to be quiet. It's a lot different with two naked guys, though. Hotter, for one thing, but that's probably just Fraser the Furnace. And the friction is incredible, there's just enough sweat and pre-come to slick things up a bit.

I've managed to last a little longer than I did last night, but there's no way I can stop now. His tongue's in my mouth, and my hands are on his ass, pulling him closer, closer, until it feels like he's part of me, inside me, under my skin, I can't stop, it's so good, and I'm coming, and so is he, I can feel it. Then I feel him shaking, and he collapses hard on top of me for a minute. Oh, God.

He rolls off, and reaches for a washcloth and cleans us up. I laugh and he looks at me.


"Nah, just thinking about that 'Proper Preparation' thing. Figures you'd have something to mop up with."

He smiles. "Well, I am well acquainted with the...aftermath...of such activities. Even when they are solitary ones."

And thinking about him and 'solitary activities' is gonna get me cranked up again if I'm not careful. I'll have to save that particular picture for later. I roll over on my side and snuggle into the blankets. Never been fond of that 'up-and-at-'em' attitude, and I figure it's a good morning to wallow. Not really all that tired, though, so it can't be too early.

"What time is it, anyway?"

"9:15. I've been unbearably slothful."

"Yeah, right. Do we have to be anywhere today?"

"I did tell Turnbull I would pick up Diefenbaker later this morning, but I was not at all specific."

"So...we have time for a nap?"

"Ray, we just woke up."

"Yeah, well, I liked the way you woke me up. I was kinda hoping to do it to you next time." I waggle my eyebrows, and I get Blushing Mountie again. I love it. Love him. "Love you, Ben." Feels good to say that. From his smile he likes hearing it too.

"And I you, Ray. But I don't think a nap at this time would be prudent."

"Not prudent? And why not, pray tell?" More eyebrow action, and he leans over and gives me a kiss, right between them. Freak.

"Because you told your mother she could call you this morning."

"Oh, yeah. She gets so weird when she can't keep tabs on me. Couldn't tell her where I was, I was afraid she'd show up at the hotel and want to do my laundry or something."

"Ray, are you..." And he stops. After a minute, he gets up and starts putting on his shorts.


"Never mind. It's not important. I just..."

"What? What what what? Don't just stop like that, Ben. There's nothing you can't ask me. I got no secrets left from you now." I sit up and pat the bed beside me. I'll drag this out of him if I have to. Benton Fraser does not ask idle questions.

He sits back down and says, real slowly, "I was wondering if you were going to make your parents aware of your changed...situation. Whether you think they should know. About us."

I've actually thought about this a lot, this past week, so I have an answer ready. "Listen, Frase. My parents are kind of old fashioned in some ways. I don't expect them to understand what we have. But if I don't tell them, and they find out, which they will, it'll be like I lied to them. And that, my friend, would be worse. So I'm gonna tell them, this weekend. I can't imagine it'll be a worse scene than when I went into the Academy. And it's my life. I can't be a cardboard cut-out for them. I'm in love, they gotta deal with it."

He looks happy and worried both at the same time, which is a trick I think only he could manage. "Ray, I don't...I don't want you to risk your improved relationship with your father just for my sake."

I shake my head at him. "My father is my father, Ben. He and I will never see eye to eye on anything except cars. But he's not a bigot; at least I don't think he is. It's gonna be a shock, no doubt about it, 'cause I know they were hoping for grandkids. I guess they'll have to settle for Dief."

That gets a half-smile out of him. "He's certainly as recalcitrant as any two-year-old. But -"

"But me no buts, Benton. My decision. This is not going to be an all-day argument here. Any more outta you, and I'll make you come along."

He sighs, and says, "Understood," which, translated from the original Fraser, means 'I don't agree with you, but I'll make it look like I'm giving in. For now.' Which is not good enough for this situation. I lean over and grab his shoulders, plant a kiss right on the pout I knew he'd have going.

"Hey," I say, "You think they were thrilled about Stella? Meatpacker's kid marrying a Gold Coast girl? They had that whole reverse-snobbery thing going on. And of course her parents thought I knocked her up, which got pretty ugly for a while. Ironic, as it turns out, but anyway...point is, it turned out fine. Well, not for Stell and me, but nobody got disowned. So trust me on this." I pull him back down onto the pillows with me, and we lay like that for a bit, until my phone rings.

He grabs it off the nightstand and hands it to me with a kiss. Then he says, "Breakfast?" I nod and answer my phone, watching him leave the room, grinning like a fool.



"Yeah, it's me, Mum."

"Where are you?"

I had my home phone forwarded to my cell all week, and it still is as far as I know. Frannie was taking messages and dealing with telemarketers for me 'til she gave me the phone back last night. Which means Mum must have called my cell number instead of home. Which means...

"Mum, what are you doing there?"

"I came by with a coffeecake. I thought it would be nice to see you in person for a change. Dad's got something he wants to tell you, too. Where are you?"

"I'm at Ben's. Uh, Fraser's. Listen, don't move, I'll be there in fifteen minutes. Start some coffee, okay?"

So much for a lazy morning. I throw on jeans, a shirt, and sneakers, and run into the kitchen. Ben's just gotten out of the bathroom, I guess, 'cause he's filling the kettle and no breakfast stuff is out.

"Change of plans, partner. My parental units showed up at my apartment with food, and Mum says Dad needs to tell me something. I'm gonna head over there, uh, you can come if you want to, but I think I'll probably take the opportunity to tell them. So it's your call. Big family scene, but we'll have coffeecake, so it's not a total loss."

He looks uncomfortable. "Ray, it's not my place to horn in on your family time."

"It's not horning in. It's...I don't even know what that means. Anyway, you're a part of this. Don't want you to think I'm ashamed of you. Just giving you the chance to get out of a potentially messy situation. If I wanna be there when you tell Vecchio, I figure I have to let you choose whether you want to do this."

"Do you want me there?"

Damn. I do and I don't, and I got no time to go into this now. Make a decision, Kowalski. "If you want to go, I'd be happy if you were there, Ben. But I can't guarantee it won't get nasty. An 'F'-word may be used."

He looks amused. "Not in front of your mother, I trust."

Huh? Oh. "Not that one. Fairy. Fruit. Faggot."

"Ah. You needn't protect me, you know. I'll get dressed. Should we bring anything?"

"Ben, it's my apartment." I think about that for three seconds, and say, "We'll stop for OJ and milk on the way."

"Cool," he says, and I crack up. Give him a hug and he says, right in my ear so it makes me shiver, "Forever, Ray."

He gets a kiss for that and I say, "As you wish."


I'm standing outside of my apartment, feeling like I should have my gun out. I do some deep breathing to steady myself. If my Mum starts crying, I'm gonna lose it. Ben's right beside me, looking at me weird. "Cover me, I'm going in," I say, and he smiles and pantomimes racking a shotgun. Makes the noise and everything.

So when Mum opens the door to see what all the ruckus is, she finds the two of us laughing like loons. Makes all her mother-type noises and gets us inside. The coffee's ready, of course, and she's got the coffeecake all laid out on a nice plate I forgot I had. While she's fussing with the OJ and glasses and getting another plate and cup for Ben, I re-introduce Ben to my dad. They've met a couple of times before, but I'm all over the polite stuff now, so I figure it can't hurt.

"Dad, you remember my partner Ben Fraser, right?"

" 'Course I do. Good to see you again, Constable."

"It's always a pleasure, sir." They shake hands, and then we just stand there kind of awkwardly. I know Dad's wondering why I dragged Ben along, but I'm not gonna jump right into that. My mum will give me a good lead-in to it, she always does. So...

"Mum said you had some news or somethin', Dad?"

My dad pulls out a business card and hands it to me.

"Ronnie's Klassic Kars. What's this?"

He's beaming like he won the lottery. "I found that car you were lookin' for. Guy's got one in pretty good shape, you should give him a call."

Holy shit. This may make things good enough with Vecchio that he doesn't kill me for stealing his Mountie. "Ben - my dad found a Riv."

He gets that smile that makes me want to kiss him and says, "That's wonderful, Mr. Kowalski. Ray will be thrilled. He's mentioned several times how difficult it is to find another to replace the one we..." He stops and looks at me. "Is 'totaled' the right word, Ray?"

"It's one of 'em, yeah. 'Blew up and sank' would be more accurate, though."

"Ah. In any case, Mr. Kowalski, you've done a very good deed. You must have some first-rate connections."

From anybody else, my dad would call this 'brown-nosing', but he can tell Ben isn't like that, so he turns all red and mutters, "I do okay." The he reaches over and does one of those fake-punches at Ben's shoulder and says, "Call me Damian, why don't you." My jaw drops. I swear, the Mounties must have some freaky power over people. All that rampant sincerity.

Ben looks a little uncomfortable, but he sees it's a big deal for my dad, so he says, "I'd be happy to." I can tell he's going to try to avoid it, though.

Mum's got everything ready now, so we go sit. She's pouring the coffee, and when Ben says "No, thank you, " I smack my hand on my forehead.

"Dammit, Ben, I forgot. Hang on, I think somewhere I got some tea you can have."

"No, really, Ray, it's fine. I'll be content with juice."

"I am making you tea, do not fight me on this, Benton."

He chuckles, and says, "As you wish, Ray."

Oh, Christ, that voice goes straight to my cock and I practically run over to the sink. Put the water in the cup, cup in the nuke. Think cold thoughts. Luckily, it's kind of cool today, so I got on a baggy sweatshirt, kind of covers my crotch. "I, uh, got some Lipton here, Frase, is that good?"

"It's fine, Ray. But really, there's no need -"

"Don't make me look bad in front of my Mum, okay?" I turn around and he's smirking like he knows why I jumped up. Bastard. Microwave dings and I dunk the teabag and go back to the table.

Mum's served the coffeecake, and we all eat and drink for a few minutes. But I know what's coming, and I'm getting tenser by the minute. Maybe I should just blurt it out.

But Mum saves me the trouble by asking the question she always asks. "So, Stanley, are you seeing anyone?"

I look across the table at Ben and smile. "Yeah, Mum, I am."

She's totally shocked, since I haven't said 'yes' to that question yet, and it takes her a second to process. She gets a huge smile on her face and says, "Oh, really? That's wonderful! Since when?"

"Less than a week ago. It'll be a week Sunday, in fact."

"Oh." She's disappointed. "So it's not serious."

"Yeah, it is. Very serious."

She's happy again, and my dad gets in on it. "So this one's a keeper, eh?"

"Definitely a keeper, Dad."

"When do we get to meet her?"

Ah, the fateful pronoun question. I look at Ben one more time. His look says I don't have to do it, he'll understand; but that's why I have to. I take a deep breath.

"You uh, already have. But it's...not a her. It's a him." Blank stares from both of them, so I say the rest of it. "It's Ben."

There's total silence in the room. Not the regular silence you get when people just stop talking. This is like anti-noise, like there's a sonic black hole in the room. I almost think I've been struck deaf, then Mum makes a funny little squeaky noise, and covers her mouth with her hand.

My dad stands up fast and almost knocks over his chair. He walks into the living room and just stands there. Mum's still sitting, but she's looking from Dad to me and back again. I'm sure she'll go along with whatever he decides, but while she's here I try to tell her how it is.

"Mum, I'm...." That's as far as I get before I stall out. Don't know what to say, exactly. I'm not sorry I love Ben, I'm not sorry I told them....

"I'm sorry if this hurts you. But I didn't want to lie about it. It's too important."

"How can this be, Stanley? You were fine at Easter, and now...this? I don't understand."

"Mum, I'm still fine. I just...decided what I really wanted for my life. And by some miracle, it's what Ben wants too. So how could I ignore it? I know you just want me to be happy, Mum. That's what you told me when Stell and I..."

"I remember that, Stanley. And I remember that you said she was all you'd ever wanted, and nothing would ever change your mind."

I look down at my plate and make designs in the crumbs with my fork. "I really thought that was true then. And if she hadn't divorced me, we'd still be together, I guess. But we're not. She kicked me out, and I had to move on. It was really hard to lose her." I put the fork down and start playing with my napkin instead. God, this is hard.

"I've changed since then, Mum. I'm not the same person I was when I told you that. I'm not even the same person I was a year ago. And Ben's a big part of the reason why. He helped me get over Stella. He helped me become a better person, and a better cop too. I love him, Mum. I love him and I'm in love with him."

My hand is shaking and Ben reaches over and puts his hand on mine. It happens to be his right hand, and my bracelet slides out from under his Henley sleeve and clinks on the tabletop.

Mum looks at our hands, and then she looks at Ben. She says, really fierce, "So. Do you love my son?"

"Indeed I do, Mrs. Kowalski. Very much."

"He's stubborn. It's a family trait."

"Yes ma'am. I mean to say, I'm well aware of Ray's faults...and perceived faults, which are not the same at all. He and I...we..."

He can't get a sentence out, so I turn my hand over so I can grasp his, too.

"This is real, Mum. I want forever with him. I thought about it for a long time, and I know. He's not perfect either. But together, we are." I sound really dangerously sappy, but when Ben looks at me, I don't care.

My dad can't avoid hearing all this; my apartment isn't that big. But he's good at the head-in-the-sand thing. I hear him get his jacket, and then he says, "Barbara. We're leaving."

But instead of jumping right up, she says, "Just a minute, Damian." Then she says to us, "I'm making a roast on Sunday. Why don't you come and we'll talk more then."

"But..." I look over where Dad's got the door open, waiting to leave.

"Don't worry about it," she says. "I'll talk to him." She leans over and kisses me, strokes my hair, then stands. It surprises the hell out of me when she walks around the table and kisses Ben, too. "I'll see you two on Sunday. Five o'clock."

And they leave.

There's more silence then. I can hear the fridge kick on, and the phone in the apartment next door starts ringing, but we just sit, still holding hands like teenagers. I'm going over it in my head, seeing real hope that it maybe won't be as bad as I thought. I look at Ben, and he looks confused and worried.

"Hey," I say. "Smile. I think we're good."

"Ray, your father -"

"Didn't yell, did he? And Mum'll work on him. She likes you a lot. I think...he's not gonna like it, Ben. But he'll ignore it like Vecchio did, and that's maybe the best we can hope for, at least right now. We'll see what happens on Sunday."

He still looks lost, and I stand up and walk around the table. I stand behind him and wrap my arms around him and squeeze. He grabs both my hands now and holds on tight. "Trust me, okay?" I say quietly in his ear. "Whatever happens, you're stuck with me now."

He turns his head and we kiss, nice and slow and sweet, until my back starts to complain, and I have to stop. He doesn't let go, just pushes out from the table and pulls me into his lap so I'm straddling him. Folds me right up in his arms, and we kiss some more. Sounds weird but it feels good, and I don't see anybody with a list of rules around here, so whatever he wants, I'm fine with it. Even sitting on his lap in a chair I'm not sure will support the both of us.

The kisses are heating up now, and his hands are under my sweatshirt, roaming around my back and occasionally venturing under my waistband for a second, before he yanks them out and moves upwards again. After the third time this happens, I get distracted and pull out of the kissing position, push back and give him a hard stare. It's not quite my 'shake, bad guys, shake' look, but he sees I'm ticked.

"I'm sorry, Ray. I was going too fast, I know."


He's about three shades of red now, but he carries on. "I know you' this...type of activity..."


"Ben, you can touch whatever you want. If I have a problem with any of it, I'll let you know. No, I haven't done the deed with any guy but you, but I do have some idea what guys do together. Don't let the blond hair fool ya, I ain't dumb."

"Of course not, I never thought you were. It's just --"

"Just nothing, Benton. I liked you putting your hands there. I want you to put your hands there. Not that I got much there to hold on to, but it feels good, Ben. I bet what comes next is gonna feel good, too. Everything you do to me feels good. I love you, remember? That means I trust you, too. I know you're not gonna do anything to hurt me. I'm not breakable, I'm sure as hell not shy...are you with me here?"

He nods his head, still red as a beet.

"Okay, now what happened to Mister Aggressive? I liked him a lot. You wanna know why? He made me feel wanted, Ben. It was the best feeling ever. I hope it never goes away between us, the way we feel.

"So. You wanna put your hands back where they were, and kiss me some more? Then we'll go rescue Dief from Turnbull...or maybe vice-versa, I'm not sure."

His eyes start to change then, and I know I made my point when he reaches out, puts both hands on my ass, and pulls me back right up against him. "You know, Ray," he says, and it's that silky-smooth voice I remember from the telephone in my hotel room. "We were in such a hurry to get here, neither one of us was able to shower. Perhaps we should take care of that before leaving." And he smiles.

Oh, I think he got my point all right. Hope it's the last time I need to make it, but at least he can be taught. I start pulling his shirt out of his jeans. Glad they're not the ones from last night or we'd be here all day.

"Gee, Ben, I'm not sure if there'll be enough hot water for us each to take a shower. Maybe we should try to figure out some way around that problem, hmm?" Got his shirt off, and mine too. One more kiss, and I get up and pull him towards the bathroom. Hope there's at least one clean towel on the shelf, and then I see Mum did my laundry, so they're all clean. Shit. Mum....

I stop dead with the towels in my hand and Ben says, "What's wrong?"

"Don't move. I'll be right back." I run to the door and put the chain on, then run back. "Sorry, just didn't want any interruptions. Where were we?"

He gets it and makes a face. "Thank you for thinking of that, Ray. I would have been quite distressed if..." He shudders.

"You? You would have been distressed? Fraser, if my mum walked in while we were -- Gah, I can't even talk about it. Come on, shower. But I think I lost the mood."

I'm only about half serious about that, and just being near Ben is enough to get me jazzed up anyway, but he gets a thoughtful look on his face and says, "We'll have to remedy that situation right away." Happy day, it's back to Mister Aggressive again.

But as much as I'm enjoying the ride, as it were, it strikes me that I've been pretty passive about most of this so far, at least when we get down to the skin-on-skin part. And maybe he's thinking I'm not as into this as he is or some crazy thing like that, and that's why he was all hesitant before. Trouble is, I don't want to stop him from doing the stuff he wants to do, 'cause it really does feel great, knowing somebody wants me that bad. And I know he's getting off too, but somehow I need to do more. maybe what he did to me last night? My cock twitches, and oh, yeah, that feels scary and good and...right.

I let my fabled instincts take over, and pull him into the bathroom by the waistband of his jeans. Once he's in there, I start by unbuttoning the top button, and then very slowly running the zipper down. I lean forward and put my mouth on his collarbone, give it a nibble. He jerks and moans, whispers my name. God, if that isn't the hottest fucking thing I ever heard...

"Ben, can I ask you a question?"

"Now?" he groans.

I look him straight in the shoulder. "The first time you -- uh --" Shit, I cannot believe I'm embarrassed to say this. Try it again. "When you, um," just say it fast, you can do it, "suckedmeofflastnight," okay, now I'm blushing, I can feel it. "Do you think I could, um, learn how to do that? To you?"

He exhales roughly, and I feel his hands on my back pulling me close. "Anything you want, Ray. Oh, God, anything." Which is not quite an answer to my question, but how hard can it be, after all?

I start off slow, just tasting his shoulder where my mouth is already. Stick out my tongue and lick. His fingers flex on my back. I want him to know how I feel; I want him to know everything I feel, so I try to tell him. "Can't let you lead all the time, Ben," I say. "I don't always know the best way to get where we're going, maybe, but you could, uh, give me directions. If I seem like I'm getting lost, that is."

I bend a little and find his nipple, lick it once, then again, and then just suck on it, hard. I flick the very tip of it with the tip of my tongue, and he jerks again. Yeah, I thought that might feel good. Teeth? Nah, maybe later. One more flick, and I move on across to the other side. Equal time, left and right, it's only fair.

I move my hands from his waist where they were resting and start pushing his jeans down. He likes to wear them tighter than I wear mine, and although I enjoy the view, it may get a bit frustrating eventually. 'Course it's probably just that his thigh muscles are a lot more developed than mine, with all the walking he does. I get the jeans worked down past his knees and he moves finally; kicks off his boots and steps out of the jeans entirely. I've got him standing there now in his boxers and socks, both just as white as white can be, like the snow we fell into when we 'exited' Muldoon's plane. It's a hell of a good look on him, but the socks have to go first, then the shorts, 'cause I want him naked for this.

I look down at the floor and find the towels I dropped, use them to cushion my bony knees. Kneeling in front of Ben, I thought I would feel degraded, but I don't. I feel powerful instead. Powerful, and very, very turned on. Like nothing ever in my life before. The bulge in his shorts is right in front of me, and I lean forward and press my face into it. Smells good; different, but good. Very hot and alive. I back off and run my hands down his outer legs, down to the tops of his socks.

"Lift your foot, Ben," I whisper. Don't know why I'm being quiet, but he hears me, and we get his socks off without anybody falling over. The I bring my hands back up and grab the waistband of his shorts and slowly ease them down. I get my first real look at his cock then.

Yeah, I saw it last night and this morning, but not like this. Not all hard and red and ready for me. "All for me," I breathe.

I didn't mean for that to be out loud, but it was, and he hears me again and says, "Always, Ray. All for you."

I get the shorts the rest of the way off him, and then it's just Ben in front of me. I reach out with one hand and gently grasp the base of his cock to steady it, and then I lean forward and taste it. Hmmm. I remember my lollipop idea from last night, and it seems like as good a technique as any, so I try it out. Slow licks circling the head, and there's a new taste now, which I guess is pre-come. It's a little salty, and I get even more turned on thinking about what I'm doing to him. Give about a second's worth of thought to what I'm going to do when he comes, and decide I can probably handle it.

I fit my mouth over the head of his cock, and slide down it as far as I can. This is harder than it looks, no pun intended, and I don't want my teeth to get in the way, so I'm being very careful of that. With the hand that's not holding his cock I make gentle circles on his ass. I don't get too bold, don't want to presume too much, and then he makes it easy for me by reaching down and moving my hand right to the middle. Pushes my fingers down, and I catch on and stroke one finger across the opening I find there. It's obviously pretty sensitive, 'cause he bucks a little, and it's a good thing I had my hand on his cock, 'cause it stops me from taking him too deep. I back off, trying not to gag, and just suck the head, playing around it with my tongue like I did on his nipples. One hand strokes his cock and the other one just barely presses in, just the tiniest bit, and all of a sudden he's making noises, saying my name over and over like he does, and all I can think is, I want to make him come. I suck harder and stroke faster and press in more, and there it is, he's coming, I did it, and I try to swallow it all, but I can't quite do it, and some of it hits me on the chest when he pulls back.

I bet my face looks just like his did last night, and I want him to see it, but his eyes are closed. "Hey, Ben, open your eyes," I say, and he does. Beautiful blue eyes, he looks so fucking good like this I could cry. Want him to look like this forever.


When we get to the Consulate an hour later, Dief and Turnbull are both very glad to see us. Dief because we're his pack and he wants us around all the time; Turnbull because the Ice Queen is making his life miserable long-distance today, and he wants to share the wealth with Ben. I really don't want to know the details, so I ignore the conversation and make a fuss over Dief, who I haven't seen in almost a week. We got real close up north - he's almost as warm to sleep with as Fraser, and I'm not proud. Fucking place is cold, let me tell you. Couple times I almost thought I could hear him talk like Ben does, but it was probably just that hypothermia thing again.

Looks like Ben and Turnbull are done with whatever, and I got some unfinished business. "Hey, Turnbull."

"Yes, Detective Vecchio?"

"It's Kowalski, Turnbull. Or just Ray is fine."

"Oh. Certainly, Ray. How can I help you?"

God, he's being so nice and I feel like such a creep for how I fooled him last week.

"You remember a week ago? Fraser brought a friend in to say hi?"

"Of course I remember that, Ray. And may I compliment you on your fine acting job. I was very nearly taken in."

Very nearly? He was totally fooled, I'd have bet money. "Okay, I have to know. What gave it away?"

"Your bracelet. I saw it when we shook hands. Also, you have a distinctive smile, which I believe I would know anywhere."

I look down at my wrist, once again sporting the silver beads. "So it was a case of you knowing me, rather than me not being convincingly...Canadian." For some reason I need reassurance on this. And the fact that I need it from Turnbull is just...sad.

"You were quite convincing, Ray."

"Thank you kindly, Turnbull. I appreciate your input." What? I have to get out of here.

"Fraser. Yo, let's get at 'er, buddy. Time to go find Thing 2." I grab his arm and steer him out the door.


"Okay, he can be Thing 1 for today."

"Ray. I've asked him not to call you Stanley. Please don't aggravate the situation by taunting him unnecessarily."

"So I can taunt him if it's necessary?"


"And who made you the taunting police, anyway?"


We're at the car, and Dief happily jumps into the back. We continue making like the Bickersons until we get to the 2-7. But while we still got some privacy, there's something important I need to say to him.

"Fraser, before we go in.... Listen, you've been in the city long enough to know that bad things can happen to cops, right? Especially cops who have to wait a little extra time for backup 'cause somebody doesn't like their lifestyle?"

"I'm sorry, Ray, but I'm not following you."

"Okay, Ben, words of one syllable, just for you. Gay cops don't last long. It sucks, but it's true. So we can tell Vecchio, 'cause he's your friend. But nobody else can know. Nobody. You could end up dead over this, Ben, and I could too."

He looks...okay, I have to use a David word...aghast. Stunned. Shocked. Dismayed.

"Ray, I never thought...I didn't want...I'm so sorry, Ray. I shouldn't have..."

"Fraser. Enough of that. God, you and the guilt thing...look, I was trying to make a point, not scare you off. We are doing nothing wrong. And I will not let you break up with me just because of a situation which is never going to happen, because we are going to be very careful, right? Not even Welsh can know."

"You don't think Lieutenant Welsh would condone...."

"No, of course not. But he would have to split up the liaising thing, I guarantee it. I mean, he'll probably know, anyway, but just as long as we don't tell him, he can fake ignorance."

Ah, God, he looks so sad now. I want to hug him, but the precinct parking lot is not a good place for that. So I slip off my bracelet and put it in his hand. It's somehow turned into some kind of symbol, like a whatsis - a talisman. I don't get why, but whatever works, I go with it. "You can't wear it, but you can put it in your pocket for now. Will that help?"

I get a smile for that. "Yes, it will. Thank you, Ray."

"Anytime, Ben. Anytime, anything, you just ask."

He tucks in into his jeans pocket and we're good to go.

Inside, people are surprised to see me for some reason. Jeez, can't a guy go to work on his day off...heh. No, guess not. Frannie comes zooming over like a Fraser-seeking missile. Two months of absence have made her heart grow a lot fonder. At least her shirt covers most of her today. Except for that heart-shaped cutout in the back. I get evil.

"Hey, sis."

She gives me a quick look. "Hey, bro."

"You know what would look really great?"

"The back of your head as you were leaving?" Oooh, sharp as a tack, our Frannie.

"I was thinking a tattoo. Right about here" - I poke her on her bare skin in back - "a nice tasteful one. I could go with you, help you pick one out."

"Get away from me, you freak," she says, and swats me with a folder. Goes back to working on my Mountie. "So, Frase, you want some lunch? Ma made lasagna last night, and I brought way more than I can eat. There's plenty if you want to share..."

Okay. This is going to be much harder than I ever thought. My one consolation is that Ben's had ample time and opportunity to take her up on what she's offering, and besides that I trust him. I guess my best bet is to remove myself from the vicinity and let nature take its course. I do the signaling thing with Ben to say I'm going to look for Vecchio, and his eyes say not to leave him, but he's got to learn sometime. Some women you just have to hit over the head with something big and heavy. Frannie's one of them.

I find Vecchio in the lunch room cursing the vending machine. I have a smart remark all ready to go, then I stop myself. Fraser's right, why taunt him unnecessarily? He's Ben's best friend, I'm Ben's...everything else. I can make the effort.

"Need some help?"

He turns around fast. "Hey, Sta- Kowalski." Nice save. "Damn thing won't take my money. My last quarter, and all I got is a Canadian."

It's too good to pass up. "I know the feeling." He looks at me quick, and laughs. I dig in my pocket and come up with two dimes and a nickel. "Here. Trade ya."

He tales my change and tosses me his quarter. "Thanks. Thought you were off today."

"Yeah, well, I got a nice surprise for you. My dad found a Riv."

"What? Where?"

I pull out the card and give it to him. "Me and Fraser could go out, look at it for you, if you want. Or you could come with." I don't want him to, but I know I'll get extra points for making the offer. He thinks about it for a second, then makes a face.

"Nah, the Lieu would have my ass. I got paperwork to take care of and I'm waiting on two phone calls. You go check it out for me, okay? See if the guy's open tomorrow. Have him call me here if he wants to talk. Hey - don't let Fraser ride in it, though. He's like death to these cars. I don't understand it, but..." He laughs, and so do I. Holy shit, a bonding moment. I have to be careful, I'm starting to like the guy.

"So, what are you doing tonight, Vecchio? You want to maybe come over to Ben's and do the movie and pizza thing again? You can even pick the movie this time."

He looks at me weird. Okay, he always looks at me weird, but this is a different look. "What's going on?"

"Duh - movie, pizza, maybe beer. See if we can get Ben to drink one, even."

He grabs my arm and says "Not here. We can't do this here," really quiet. Then he drags me out into the hall and down to the supply closet and in. Okay. This is different.

"Vecchio, what the fuck do you think you're doing?"

"Me? What am I doing? I am trying to put my life back together. You, on the other hand, are trying to ruin it."

"English, please."

I get what must be an Armando look, and frankly it shakes me a little. He's good.

"Don't do this to me, okay? The you-and-Benny thing. I don't want to hear about it, I don't want to know. You need to end it, now."

"Vecchio, what the fuck...." I repeat myself when under stress.... "How did you...I can't believe...shit." He starts to say something else and I give him a look of my own. It says I know he's not gonna shoot me, and I also know I can take him easy in a fist fight. He closes his mouth.

Son of a bitch. "Okay. First point. It's already done. The me-and-Ben thing, as you so eloquently put it, is a done deal. And I don't mean that like in 'it's over', either. Me and him, we're forever. I don't need your permission or your blessing. It's not about you.

"As far as you hearing about it, I'd be just as happy to never talk to you again, right at this moment. But Ben thinks you have to know, seeing's how you're his best friend and all. You do realize that you're the closest thing he has to family, right? And I'm real sorry if we offend you, Detective Vecchio, but you need to either deal with it, or get a new Mountie. Because I will not stand by and let you say this shit to him, is that clear?"

He nods, but I'm not done. "Okay, next point. In Ben's apartment or mine, if he wants to touch me, he can. If I want to kiss him, I will. We are not going to make out like crazed teenagers in front of you, but if I want to hold his hand while we're sitting on the couch, it's gonna happen. It ain't gonna strike you blind to see it.

"Last point. You and my parents know. That's it. I already explained to Ben what happens to gay cops, and he's a pretty private person anyway, so nobody even asks him about dating and stuff. We already spend a lot of time together, so I can't see it being a problem. But Dewey's got a big mouth, and he runs it all day long. You need to not freak out if he says something about me and Ben."

"He already did."

Why am I not surprised? "And what did you say?"

"I said that nobody else would tolerate you."


"Any time."


"Back at'cha." He stares at me for another minute, then he sighs. "What time?"

"What time what?"

"What time you want me there tonight?"

I know I look surprised, and he says, "Hey, it's not like I've got an over-abundance of friends. Can't afford to lose one. Or...two. And...." He looks down at his expensive shoes for a minute, then he looks back at me and kind of grins.

"Oh, hell, Ray. It's not like I didn't see this day coming. I've been waiting for it since he told me. Never thought it would be you, but I knew he needed somebody. I guess you're it, huh?"

"He thinks so. That's good enough for me."

He nods. "Did he tell you about...Victoria?" Wow, that's some hostility there when he says her name. Which, of course, I can understand.

"Yeah. We had a lot of time to talk up north, and one night he just...started talking. We lost a day's travel the next day 'cause he wouldn't go to sleep until he was done, and we were exhausted. You ever do anything about her?"

"Honestly? I thought real hard about putting out a contract on her when I was in Vegas. Let's face it, I knew guys there that could make it happen. was too cold. Too impersonal. I want to look in her eyes again, remind her what I told her."

"Which was?"

"That if she hurt him, I would kill her."

"Yeah. Too bad you missed."

"Tell me about it."

I realize we've been in this little closet way too long, and Ben's probably looking for us, but I think this was the way it had to happen. And now I think we really have bonded a little. Maybe he's not just an expensive suit and an attitude.



"Tonight. Seven okay?"

"Depends. Are you talking about the time or the movie? 'Cause I am not in the mood for any kind of creepy psychological drama, thank you very much."

He grins. "You said I could pick. You buy the pizza, I pick the movie."

"Asshole. Seven o'clock is fine. Get a comedy."

The door opens and it's Ben. He looks so pleased with his detective work in finding us, and when he closes the door behind himself, I say to Vecchio, "Close your eyes," and make a grab for Ben.

"Ray! Not in -" is all he has time for before I kiss him. I'm careful not to let it go too long, but I needed the connection.

"It's okay. Vecchio figured it out. I don't know how, but he's good with it -- right, Vecchio?"

He looks a little sheepish, and I figure he didn't close his eyes, but I don't really care. That's as much as he's ever gonna get to see, but he should get used to it now.

"Right," he says. "I'll be there at seven tonight, Benny. Now, you guys get out of here and go check out my new car. I'll see you later." He squeezes past us and opens the door. Then he looks back. "And as for how I found out, Ray, you want to be careful about using his first name. The way you say it, it's a dead giveaway." And he's gone.

Ben's looking at me like I'm Moses parting the Red Sea or something, so I put on my most casual face and just walk out the door behind Vecchio.

"C'mon, Fraser, pitter patter. We see about the Riv and get some lunch. Unless you already sampled Frannie's lasagna?"

He says, real quiet, "I don't want Francesca's lasagna, Ray. I much prefer yours."

I turn back and smile, to let him know that I know, then I keep walking toward the door. "Dief! We're leaving!" Maybe it's just Ben's voice he can't hear, 'cause he comes running around the corner at top speed. Ben catches up to me, and we walk out into the sunshine together.

"You know, Ray...."

He starts telling me about when he was pretending to be a used car salesman, and I don't even care that it's a Vecchio story. I know how I fit into his life now, and I'm perfectly happy with it. And as I drive, and he talks, I think about what's really required to become a Canadian. 'Cause I got five, maybe six more years of being a cop left in me, and after that, maybe we could go up north together and work on forever.

I look over, and he's fished my bracelet out of his pocket and he's putting it on his wrist again. Yeah. Forever. And after that, who knows?



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