Title: The Perfect Setting
Set four years in the future after the end of COTW.
Actually, it's moreorless the conclusion of a really long story that 'Falling' was the start of. ;-p Beginning, End, someday I'll get to the middle.
Quick summary to a couple things -- At this point in the timeline, Benny and Ray live in Vancouver, British Columbia, working together in the law enforcement offices. Benny's still a Mountie. Ray works for the ATF in special jobs, but not undercover. Assignments sometimes take him out-of-town. They share an apartment, but not a relationship... yet. (g)
Um, I'm still working on a nickname for RayK. 'RayKay' was the best I could come up with for the moment while trying to still use 'Ray' in the nickname (hey, if we can think of it, so can they ;-p). ~..^ It was either that or "Rakey/Rakie." (g) - Suggestions are welcome! (no Stanley or Stans -- I wanted a friendly nickname, not a disliked name).
As they got out of the car and hiked along the trail, the wind blew, chill but not biting, bringing with it the smell of the ocean and the forests between. Clear and fresh, without the smells of the city or people. Even as Fraser breathed in, enjoying the air, he couldn't help glancing over at Ray to see how he was taking it. But Ray had changed over the years and he didn't show even an inclination to grumble; rather he was striding happily along with his head up in such a way that showed that he also was enjoying the fresh smells.
Dief ranged ahead and around them. Older now, less inclined to go dashing recklessly about, but as with the humans, the years had taught and matured him.
Lagging back for a half-step, Fraser took the opportunity to watch Ray. The quick glance that Ray gave Fraser to check if something was wrong showed the trained wariness of the law enforcement officer. The smile and return of his attention to the path in front of them showed the knowledge and trust of Fraser's best friend. He has changed... but it is less 'change' than developing those qualities that were already within him.
In Chicago, Ray had always been a bundle of energy, quick to take action, quick to speak and react. As much as his mom fed him, very little excess meat built up on the wiry frame. He was strong enough, a police officer has to be, but he didn't go out of his way to exercise. The year undercover... it had taken Fraser a long time to realize exactly how much his friend had to change to survive. Every impulse stifled, every action thought out. Every word another's, every move watched. Even after three years, some of those traits still existed and Ray was a quieter and more reflective person now. So different than the man Fraser had first met and fallen in love with; yet still dearly loved for it was Ray. How could I not love Ray?
Even darker bronzed than before from three years in the sun and travel, with regular workouts and special programs, Ray was a beautiful sight. He always had been, but Fraser now had license to study the slim build and slender neck, the elegantly shaped head and the way the buttocks moved and flexed as Ray walked...
“Enjoying the view?” Ray's amused voice drifted back to him.
Fraser raised his view but Ray hadn't actually turned around -- somehow he just knew where Fraser's eyes were. “Why, yes, thank you. I'm enjoying it very much,” Fraser replied seriously but allowing a glimmer of teasing to be heard.
Ray chuckled easily and switched the pack over to his other shoulder as he continued on. “Just a bit further. Another five minutes or so.”
I love him so. Bittersweet longings and impulses rose within Fraser but he pushed them back down again. The years with RayKay (as Ray liked to call him) had taught Fraser what it was like to have constant physical gratification and while he enjoyed having Ray's friendship and closeness, sometimes the desire for the baser feelings overwhelmed him with need. Ray was truly a good friend to know how he felt and still allow Fraser to be near him and to even be easy with Fraser's blatant admiration of his body. If the feelings didn't sometimes get in the way, everything would be perfect. But they were so nearly perfect now that Fraser didn't feel that he had any right to complain. Just to be with Ray is all I really need.
It was funny; Fraser had spent the years helping RayKay to be more self-reliant and to be able to have a firmer sense of self-esteem on his own, things that Fraser had thought he was very good at. But now that he was back with Ray, working with him on a daily basis, spending long nights talking about anything and nothing, sharing an apartment with him, going on weekend hikes together... Fraser found that he was much more in sympathy with RayKay than he'd ever been before. How could I have built my life around Ray and not even known it?
Fraser knew that, if needed, he could be without Ray, and Ray without him. But he wouldn't like it and would rather not if that unforeseen 'if' could be avoided. Every time Ray received an out-of-town phone call, Fraser's heart knotted up and he was anxious until Ray put down the phone and kindly told him he wasn't going anywhere. Except that sometimes he did go somewhere, and then Fraser would wait impatiently---
“Here we are.”
Ray's voice broke into Fraser's contemplations and he looked up. The vista stretched out before him. Beautiful, lush, and wild, were the highlands of British Columbia, with no sign of civilization despite how close they still were to Vancouver. Ray had brought them to an outlook of soft meadowland in a break between rough terrain and the ocean. Behind them and along the coast, forests stretched for miles, and rocky cliffs above which wild eagles flew. Before them, the surf stretched out neverending with the blue-grey seas and pounding waves upon the rocks. In the impossible break of grass where they were, the sun shone steadily, warming the breeze and lending a glow to the surroundings.
Ray was watching him, happy with the sight of Fraser looking over the area and waiting impatiently for his approval.
“It's beautiful, Ray,” Fraser said sincerely, impressed with the sight but even more impressed with the effort that Ray had gone to find this place and to bring him here.
Blindingly brilliant, the sun swept over Ray's features as he flashed the open, delighted smile that was Fraser's secret weakness. That smile that Ray bestowed on Fraser so willingly and so often. Every time he saw that smile, Fraser melted under its glow and warmth, drinking in the love and joy that Ray gave him.
“Really?” Ray asked, in the manner of his old self, believing yet still seeking the reassurance that Fraser hurriedly gave him.
“Really.” Fraser smiled at him and was happy to see the doubts smooth over into Ray's open joy. “How did you find this place, Ray?”
Busying himself with unpacking the backpack with picnic supplies, Ray replied easily, “I asked Shelly -- she knows the area better than anybody, and then I made her take me up here and I had to agree with her; it's the perfect spot.”
Fraser raised his eyebrows, “Now Ray, there are many beautiful locations in the wilderness, especially here along the coast. You can't really say that one place is any more 'perfect' than another, when---”
Ray interrupted him, “Perfect for my purpose.” He looked over with a wicked grin as he held up a plastic bag, “Caviar?”
Doing a double-take, Fraser regarded the layout of the picnic supplies with surprise and some apprehension. Even if Ray was more used to 'roughing it' than he had been when Fraser first met him, Ray still also liked his comforts and to indulge his more expensive tastes. “Oh dear,” Fraser muttered as he surveyed the grapes and cheeses and Italian bread with the can of liver pate; and the bottle of white wine, all laid out on a beautiful afghan blanket that was going to require some serious hand washing to get the grass stains out...
“You don't like it?” Ray's face crumpled.
Fraser hastened to reassure him, letting him know it was just fine and that he was greatly enjoying himself. Which he was, as he watched Ray reanimate with eagerness. But there was also a certain amount of nervousness there. Puzzled, Fraser studied Ray as he bustled around, cheerfully wrangling with Diefenbaker about what he'd brought for him and when the wolf would get to indulge in his own sweet tooth. Yes, Ray was definitely nervous about something. He didn't accept another assignment, did he? Fraser's heart sank and he prepared himself to accept it and to deal with an empty apartment for a week to a month, waiting each night for the phone calls that would tell him that Ray was still alive and doing fine...
Blinking, Fraser turned back to his friend, “Yes, Ray?” Ray was regarding him with those warm green eyes, the color and shadings of the forest around them.
“Come sit down, Benny,” Ray patted the blanket next to him. “The food's all ready and we've already had our hike getting out here.”
“Yes, Ray.” Fraser moved over and sat down, enjoying the closeness of his friend and the easy acceptance of the same. He reached out and pulled a few grapes off the batch, popping them into his mouth.
Ray's eyes tracked his movements and he swallowed and turned away.
With a frown, Fraser decided to get to the bottom of this now -- he wanted to enjoy his time with Ray, and this was distracting. “Why are you nervous, Ray?”
“Nervous?” Ray jumped slightly and started fussing with the plastic dishes, cutting the bread into slices on which he layered the pate for open-faced sandwiches.
“Nervous.” Fraser affirmed.
“Ah, I'm not nervous.” Ray fumbled through the backpack and sheepishly brought out some plastic cups, “I didn't want to risk the glass while hiking -- you don't mind, do you?”
Gravely, Fraser assured him that, no, he didn't mind. Internally, he was enjoying their easy banter and teasing, as they both knew full well that Fraser didn't care one whit about the cups but it was fun for them to exchange the words. “I hate to contradict you, Ray, but you are definitely nervous about something.”
Ray snorted, “Oh yeah, nervous as a girl on her first date... Say, Benny, tell me about your first kiss.”
Fraser's eyebrows were almost climbing off his face as he accepted the cup of wine that Ray handed him. “My first kiss?” First date?
“Yeah, you know. When you finally get up the courage to kiss a girl that you think won't slap you silly for doing so, and are wondering if this is a good idea or bad, and what all it might lead to...” Ray gulped. “I'll go first. My first was Irene.”
Somehow, Fraser had already known that. In Ray's voice was the usual combination of wistful remembrance with anguished remorse. Ray, if I could take it all back. If I could have changed something, anything about the past... I would even leave Victoria in, if I could save Irene for you.
“We were young; I was 12, she was 10. We'd been running around through the neighborhood, terrorizing the bullies.”
Ray laughed, “Ah, it was a joke between us. Though it was sortof serious too. Nobody ever laid a hand on Irene 'cause she was Zuko's daughter, and I was just too full of myself to care, so we'd pick on the neighborhood bullies -- mostly Frankie -- by taking their victims away from them. The cats, the dogs, the kids... It started off accidentally; we'd come across Frankie tying cans on a cat's tail, and Irene cornered him with a lecture while I untied the cat. And then it sortof snowballed from there.” Ray sighed, “It was fun while it lasted.”
Fraser propped his head in his hands and studied Ray intently, absorbing the picture of his friend as a youth.
Glancing over at his friend, Ray grimaced, “And you're wondering about Marco?”
Ray restlessly got up and paced over to the cliff edge, staying far enough back that Fraser wasn't worried. Fraser stayed where he was and was careful to be quiet. Ray didn't reveal his childhood often, and it was a treasured moment when he did as it was understood between them to be a special sharing.
“Things change. People change. Life ain't a fantasy world, and people get hurt, and sometimes there just isn't the knight around to save people.” Ray's voice dripped with pain. “One night, Pop came home from the pool bar... and he wasn't drunk, he was beaten up. Battered, bruised, bleeding... My pop. Who could knock 'em down in the boxing ring and brawl with the best of his buddies, but never ever came back with more than red knuckles. He told Ma -- us kids were hiding around the corner -- that Ikey had mouthed off to Zuko's goons when they'd come by for the neighborhood fund, and that the goons had decided to teach Ikey a lesson. Pop was there, and they made him the lesson too.”
His back to Fraser, Ray shook his head, “My pop wasn't the greatest of pops, but he was still my dad, you know. And I'd always believed that nothing could be bigger and stronger and more there than he was. And then he got beat up. By Zuko's men. Frankie's dad. Frankie had always tried to scare us kids with his dad's name, and his dad's men... I always scoffed at it. I'd had my share of fistfights, and come home bloody, but I always had my two cents and gave as good as I gotten. But suddenly...” Ray shivered and walked back to the blanket, sitting down next to Fraser and drawing his knees up to his chin.
“When Frankie was bouncing that basketball off Marco's face, his eyes were on me the whole time and I knew that if I tried anything, I'd get the same. And for the first time in my life... it really struck me as a possibility. I could get hurt like that. Frankie could have me beat up and nobody would say a word. I knew I was letting Marco down even as I stood there, but all that time I couldn't move a muscle because I could feel every bounce of the ball on my face. Damn.” Ray fell silent.
Fraser tried to radiate sympathy. He knew exactly what Ray meant, and disillusionment of one's self was the hardest thing to take. Being betrayed by one's friends and family was one thing, but when it was your own body and mind that failed... Fraser had had it happen to him more times than he could count, and still anguished over every one of them. And knew he could look forward to many more.
Clearing his throat, he offered his thoughts, “I'm over 40 now, and my leg hurts. I can't jump out windows now without spraining something. One day, I won't be able to do it at all. I think that's one reason I push as hard as I do, because I know that I can't really.”
Ray gave him a wry grin, “The scary part is that actually made sense.”
Taking his arms down from his knees, Ray shook himself like Dief and then poured some water into his cup and drank deeply. “Well, that incident wasn't for several more years. At the time I was talking about, Irene and I still thought we were the top of the world. And we were curious.” Ray grinned. “We'd seen the movies, we'd seen our older cousins, and had just come back from a wedding we weren't supposed to be at -- or at least not together.
“So we found ourselves out by the touristy part of the lake, you know, out by the pier, where that little park has all these nice hiding areas for a couple of young kids, and we decided to try it. After we compared notes as to what we'd seen the others do, we first pressed our lips together, bumping noses on the way.” Ray laughed, “Eventually we got that part straightened out, and we wondered what all the fuss was about. We tried the tongues bit too, but that was just weird. So we gave it up as a bad deal and went home again.”
Fraser looked at his friend in wonder. “You two actually talked about it ahead of time?”
Ray grinned again, “I told you, we were young and curious.” He shrugged, another reminiscent look upon his face, “It wasn't that way a few years later...” Clapping his hands together, he trained an expectant eye on Fraser, “So, come on -- what was yours?”
“Your first kiss. Remember?”
“Oh, yes. Er, well...” Fraser sighed to himself. Ray wasn't going to let him get out of this one. “Uh, well it was much like your own. I was 14, she was 12, and she kissed me but I wasn't sure what was happening.” Fraser glanced around and settled his gaze on Diefenbaker.
“I do not want to hear about his first kiss!” Ray stated firmly. “Eww...” Then he glared at Fraser as he passed another slice of bread and pate over, “Come on, Benny -- that was an awfully darn quick summary! Some details here.”
Fraser took a bite out of the sandwich and didn't answer until he swallowed, “Well, I'm not sure what exactly you want, Ray -- I answered the question.”
Ray rolled his eyes. “Okay, next on the list of first kisses was Sarah. You should have seen her, Benny, she was a dream girl with golden hair and blue eyes and perky breasts...”
Fraser choked on his next bite.
“Geeze, Benny...” Ray passed the water over to him. “Okay, I'll leave the breasts out of it.”
“Thank you, Ray,” Fraser said sincerely once he could speak again.
“Anyhow, she was in my class, 8th grade, and one day we were out under the bench raisers and I was looking at her and she was so beautiful...” Ray's voice caught in his throat and Fraser sighed at the look on his face. “I kindof lost my mind and leaned in towards her without saying a word, and she got this nervous look on her face but didn't move and shut her eyes... and I kissed her. This time it was actually something as I felt her, and she felt me, and we were kissing...” Ray gulped and blushed. “So, that was the first real kiss I gave a girl.” He glanced over at Fraser expectantly and defiantly.
“Oh dear.” Fraser scratched a thumb over his eyebrow.
“Come on, Benny. Give.” Ray grinned, “What was your first real kiss?”
“Uhh...” Fraser was starting to panic.
A look of comprehension spread over Ray's face, “Oh hey, girls or guys -- I mean, I know you... uh, you know... and have been, so I guess your first kiss wasn't necessarily a girl. I don't mind hearing about it.” Ray blushed.
“Oh dear.” It was Fraser's turn to get up and walked a nervous circle around the glade before looking out over the view of the ocean waves pounding against the rocks below. He could see a small group of elk down the beach, wandering out unafraid. “I was 16. He was 18. He'd graduated from High School and was going to be moving to Toronto the next week.” Fraser blushed, remembering that day. “We went out by the hockey rink and he sat me down and...” Fraser couldn't say it. As much as he remembered the feel of the lips pressing down on his, the tongue that slipped into his mouth, the hot surge of passion that came over him... he just couldn't tell Ray about it. “Ray, is this really necessary?”
There was a stirring as Ray got up and moved over to him, and then Fraser felt a strong arm around his shoulders and Ray's hip and side pressed into his own as he was given a sideways hug. Oh dear. Combined with the memories just stirred up, Fraser's body was reacting in ways it really shouldn't. Betrayal of the body, Fraser thought with some amusement as he took the opportunity of closeness to hug Ray back, slipping his arm around Ray's waist, reveling in the feel of the firm body along his own. Fantasies whipped through his mind as his imagination ran amok.
“Never mind, Benny,” Ray was saying affectionately, “It was just a topic of conversation, you know. We'll find something else to talk about.” He didn't move his arm from around Fraser's shoulders, and seemed content to stand there with Fraser's arm around his waist.
Fraser was not about to look a gift horse in the mouth and happily stood gazing over the waves, “You know, Ray, there are many different types of kisses depending on the culture. It's our European background that defines a kiss as pressing the lips together, and putting tongues inside mouths isn't done everywhere.”
“Oh really?” Ray's voice was affectionately resigned curious, “And just how do the Inuit kiss, Benny?”
“With their noses, Ray.”
“Yes, Ray. The Inuit rub their noses together as a sign of affection and regard it in the same manner that the Europeans regard a pressing of lips together.”
There was a chuckle from Ray, “Actually, that sounds like more fun, and I've sure got that one covered with my snozzer. Hold still, Benny.”
“Ray?” Fraser was taken completely by surprise as Ray turned to face him and then leaned in to rub his nose along Fraser's before drawing back with a laugh in his eyes and a slight blush on his face.
“Hey, it's like bumping noses only allowable!” Ray grinned and wandered back to the blanket, sitting down and taking a large gulp of wine.
At this point, all of Fraser's suspicions were aroused as he mentally reviewed the comments Ray had been making on the way out here. “Just what is this a perfect setting for, Ray?” He walked back but didn't sit down, instead standing over Ray looking down at him.
Ray nervously fiddled with the grapes, breaking off a branch and then starting to peel one of them. “Want one?”
Fraser considered for a moment, then sat down next to Ray and opened his mouth.
Ray gulped, his green eyes wide.
Fraser kept his mouth open and licked his lips.
Emitting a sound very like a squeak, Ray popped the grape into Fraser's mouth and then sat back hurriedly, panting as if he'd just run a marathon.
Thoughtfully, Fraser chewed the grape and swallowed. “Very nice,” he said, while eyeing Ray. “So, 'a perfect setting'?”
Ray gulped again and started shredding a piece of bread. “Uh, well...” He glanced shyly over at Fraser and then down at the blanket, “I thought it might be a good place for a first kiss.”
“A first kiss,” Fraser drawled the words.
“Would this be any type of first kiss?”
“Benny...” Ray gulped, “You're going to make me say it, aren't you?”
“Yes, Ray, I am.”
“Uh, well then, I thought it was a nice setting for our first kiss.” Ray raised his head defiantly but with a gleam of nervous eager anticipation.
“Our first kiss, as in you, Ray Vecchio, and me, Benton Fraser?”
“Well, yeah.” Ray scowled, “If you don't want to, then never mind.” He started packing up the dishes sulkily.
“Oh, I didn't say that,” Fraser purred, and shot his hands out to grab both of Ray's and to pin him up along the rock they were sitting next to. He leaned in and watched Ray's breath go faster and the pulse along his throat beat rapidly. Ray's eyes fluttered down and he sat still with his lips slightly parted. Fraser let go of one hand and popped a grape into Ray's mouth before leaning back.
Half-choking, Ray swallowed the grape and sat up, glaring at Fraser, “Benny!”
Fraser grinned tightly, “And how long have you been planning this 'first kiss' between us?”
“Uh, you're mad at me, aren't you?” Ray sighed and hung his head. “I'm sorry, Benny. I know I shouldn't have assumed so much... but... I mean, you and RayKay, and RayKay was the one who told me you were transferring back up north and, well...”
“And the two of you connived without telling me to get me transferred instead to Vancouver where you also were going,” Fraser interrupted smoothly, “So?”
“Well, I assumed...” Ray trailed off again. “I'm sorry, Benny. I thought...”
Fraser took a certain amount of pity on the former Chicago cop. “I do want you, Ray.” He reached out and trailed a hand over the closely shorn hair down the slim neck and along the arms covered by a long-sleeved shirt. Ray shivered, his wide eyes fastened to Fraser's and his breath starting to speed up again. “As you already knew,” Fraser sat back, “I just didn't know you wanted me.”
Ray blushed a bright solid red. “Well...”
Fraser raised his eyebrows -- he really wanted to hear this one.
With a sigh, Ray met Fraser's eyes with all the caring and love he'd always shown revealed there in the green view, and also the new nervous physical awareness, “You and RayKay were so happy together... and comfortable, and were still friends... Well, after I split with Stella, I was thinking of all the women in my life, and what Jack had said all those years ago about how there wasn't just one right women, there were a hundred, and it just mattered where on the list they fell... and I eventually realized that the number one person in my life, the one I always wanted with me, was you. The other women don't seem as interesting anymore because they're not at that number one spot. And you...” Ray swallowed again, but his eyes didn't leave Fraser's, “You're not a woman, but you've definitely got that number one spot, and... and, well, if you and RayKay were happy, then why couldn't you and I be?” He raised his chin in defiance of the conventions, but Fraser could tell that he was still scared.
“Oh, Ray...” he said softly, his heart going out to this bundle of affection and joy, who had the courage to reach for a dream.
But he wasn't going to let him off the hook that easily. “When did you decide this?”
“Well,” Ray eyed him uncertainly, “I thought of it when I was in Houston, but you and RayKay were still together.”
“Houston,” Fraser repeated, and he walked out to the cliff edge and glanced out at the ocean. “So you knew you loved me when we came to Vancouver, after Ray and I had broken up.”
“I've always loved you,” Ray protested.
Fraser had to allow himself a fond smile at that one, and a bit of a reward for the sincerity in Ray's voice. He went back to Ray and gathered him up in his arms, holding him close and tracing the smooth lines of his face with a gentle hand. “I know,” he murmured, delighted at the way Ray was simply melting on him, his eyes shutting and a look of bliss on his face. “As I have always loved you.” With a chuckle, Fraser let Ray go, “but that's not the same thing, and you know what I meant.”
“Ah, Benny!” Ray staggered. “Geez, you really are pissed, aren't you?” With a sigh, he sat down again and leaned against the rock, looking up at Fraser. “Yeah, I knew it. And I'd planned on it eventually. But... you'd just broken up with RayKay and I wasn't going to be a re-bound thing. And I didn't know how you'd take it. I wanted us to be friends, the way we've always been, together. And I didn't want to mess that up by starting something if it wasn't wanted.”
“If it wasn't wanted...” Fraser mused, also sitting down and edging so close to Ray that their bodies were pressed together, legs, hips, waist, and shoulders. “Ray, you numbskull, if anything, RayKay was a rebound from you!”
Ray blushed, “Well, okay, maybe, but you can't tell me that when you and RayKay got together that you hadn't thought it was forever. Even if I was there somewhere in the back of your mind, you knew, well, thought, that I wasn't going to ever go for it, so you two were going to make a go of it without reservations.”
“Well, yes, that's true.” Fraser smiled, happy with his memories of the years he and Ray Kowalski had spent together. “But you and Stella had always intended to be together for only a few years, and yet you two were so happy and comfortable together...” Fraser shrugged, the movement rubbing against Ray. “When it was time, because of your example, it was easier for Ray and I to realize that it was over.”
“Ah, geez, Benny, I didn't mean to---”
“Were you listening to me?” Fraser interrupted him and turned to place his hands alongside Ray's face, cradling the strong cheekbones in his fingers, “It was time. We both knew it, and we both agreed. No regrets and certainly no mournful tears. Though certainly a bit of wishful thinking...” Especially on long nights, but perhaps he wouldn't tell Ray that. Tenderly, Fraser stroked Ray's cheek with his fingers, slipping one hand up to brush through the short hair and enjoying the feel. “Let's see...” he continued thoughtfully, “You found out about this 'perfect spot' from Shelly, and you took the time to go with her to check it out before bringing me here, and the last time you would have had an opportunity to do that was... oh, two weeks ago.”
Green eyes stared sheepishly into mock-stern blue-grey ones, “I'm not going to get my kiss, yet, am I?”
“I haven't had a kiss in two weeks.” Fraser trailed his hand down Ray's chest and played with the shirt buttons.
“Benny, you're driving me crazy here...”
“Oh, I know,” Fraser purred happily. He could feel Ray's heart through his shirt and was taking great pleasure in the staccato rhythms and the heat that was radiating off the slim body and the smell of nervousness and musk. Breathing in deeply, Fraser leaned back against the rock and pulled Ray with him until Ray was nestled against him, relaxing with his back along Fraser's chest, Fraser's right hand over Ray's stomach, and his left running along Ray's arm. Ray's hands were gently clasping Fraser's right one. Diefenbaker came over when they were settled and laid down along the length of their legs.
“A perfect setting wasn't our apartment?”
Ray groaned. “Benny, I don't know how you do it up in Rumaluyak, but down in the U.S., we have such a thing called 'romance.' And when you're taking someone out to seduce them, you don't do it by chance. You plan it. You make sure they're having a good time, and you bring them flowers and fine food, and make them feel special before going in for the kill. I mean kiss.”
Ray twisted his head to look at Fraser. “You like them alive,” he whispered.
Fraser was so happy at that moment that he very nearly gave Ray his kiss without any more teasing. But the devil in him kept him from it and instead he swept a finger over Ray's lips and smiled at him. “Seduction?”
Ray blushed and turned his head back to face the ocean.
Ah Ray, you still aren't quite sure, are you? Fraser's own heart was beating rapidly, and not just for the close physical proximity. That Ray, his Ray, would be so daring and so brave, to venture into such an unknown world for him... he loved Ray. He loved him so very much.
“So,” Ray cleared his throat, “What would you consider a perfect setting for a kiss?”
“A perfect setting for a kiss between you and I?”
“That's the general idea.”
“Without regard to all the romantic mushy planning?”
“If that's what you go for.”
“A perfect setting...” Fraser mused, nuzzling close to Ray's ear and feeling him shiver. “Lake Michigan, 1:42am, a moonlit night, you dripping wet all over the hood of your first Riv, me watching your eyes blink open and knowing that you were alive, and you still cracking jokes and reassuring me.” Fraser raised his hand and held his fingers together, thumb and index finger barely separated from each other, “You were this close to getting a kiss right then.”
“Really?” Ray sounded impressed and a bit shaken.
“Really.” Fraser clasped Ray to him and dipped his head in to run his mouth gently through Ray's hair. “I was so worried for you...”
When Ray had his breathing under control, he asked, “Was that the first time?”
Fraser regretfully raised his head from Ray's hair, “The first time I wanted to kiss you? No. Nor the last, either.”
Ray made a puzzled sound within his throat, “You really wanted me all that time? How come I never saw it?”
With a laugh, Fraser dismissed it as a concern. “You loved me, Ray, with all your heart. And you knew that I loved you. Why should you think that my love for you was any different than your own? And yours didn't extend to wet dreams.”
The heat through Ray's body as he blushed was hot enough to make Dief complain and move away before resettling on the blanket next to them. The heat made Fraser shift, delighted shivers going through his body as he contemplated the fulfillment of some of those many dreams.
“Let's see...” Fraser dipped his chin to rest on Ray's shoulder as he looked out over the ocean. “The very first time was in a small diner off 32nd Avenue, about 6pm on an autumn night, while I was reading my father's journal. There I was, wrapped in my gloom and glum, and this bright Ray of sunshine and delight came walking in through the door neither looking left nor right, but coming straight to me.”
“Benny,” Ray said with some awe, “that was when we'd first met. Well, a few days after.”
A gulp that made Ray's body shutter. “Was that really how you saw me?”
“'Is' Ray. It is how I see you, for that is how you are.”
Ray laughed a little, “Aw, Benny...” He was silent for a long moment. “I hadn't had a good day at work. I knew better than to run that sting, but in a lot of ways, I just wanted it over. I was tired. So damn tired of it all. And then you came breezing in, fresh as the northern wind, blowing out all the crap with your simple mistake...” Ray chuckled, “'Detective Armani.' I still want to strangle Mike for that some days, 'just look for 'armani',” Ray mimicked the Desk Sergeant's voice.
Fraser raised his eyebrows in some surprise; he'd never told Ray what the Sergeant had said.
“Mike apologized to me later about it,” Ray explained, seeming to read Fraser's thoughts. “But I told him it was okay.”
“Because then you knew it had been a setup.”
Ray snorted, “I knew it was a setup before I went in.” He sighed, “But I didn't know that there was somebody in the world who could still try and do me a favor even when mad as hell at me.” He shook his head, barely missing banging Fraser's as Fraser moved quickly out of the way. “You were pissed, and rightfully so. I was being a deliberate ass... and you went through all my careful shields and anger with one quick barb that was both help and reprimand at the same time.” Ray laughed, “No wonder you and Welsh got along so well.”
Fraser was silent, rather ashamed at the way he'd been manipulating Ray from the start. He'd seen the hurt within the dejected figure and had thought to shame him into looking up the numbers. He'd never expected to get such a response from Ray, to the generous apology of the next day to spending nearly all of his time helping him... to pushing him out of a window saving him from a bomb. “Do you know when I fell in love with you?”
“In the diner?” The smile was in Ray's voice.
Fraser chuckled, “No, that was when I fell in lust with you. Well, actually, the lust part was earlier.” Much earlier. Like, trailing a furious Ray out of the cell block earlier. Damn, but Ray was cute when he was mad.
Resettling his arms around Ray, Fraser brought his chin back to Ray's shoulder, “When you showed up at my father's cabin when you should have still been in the hospital.”
“Oh, they always try and make me stay longer than I should,” Ray expressed his distain for all hospitals and doctors.
And Ray was going to be that nonchalant about it because that was the way Ray was. “The second time was when you exhausted yourself trying to help me get Dief to the veterinarian. There you were, curled up on the less-than-comfortable chair, your arm at this horrible angle, and your beautiful eyes shut and still, though you still woke up when I came near so you could ask if there was anything else to do.”
Ray reached out and tangled his fingers in Dief's fur, “Hell, the mutt deserved it.”
Dief whined in agreement.
Fraser shook his head at the two of them and smiled happily at his family.
“Okay, when else?”
“When were some of the other times you were going to kiss me.”
“You're enjoying this, aren't you?”
Ray settled back against Fraser, wrapping his fingers around Fraser's hand and tracing Fraser's fingers gently, “Yeah, I am. And if I'm not getting my kiss now, I want to hear about the other ones I missed.”
Fraser smiled ruefully. Ray would have been shocked out of his socks if he'd ever gotten any of those other kisses, and he knew it, but now was different and Fraser couldn't believe he was sitting here with Ray in his arms. “Chronological?”
“Nah. Perfect setting ones.”
“Ray, they were all perfect settings.”
Ray snorted, “Oh yeah, me nearly drowned and looking like a wet cat was a perfect setting.”
“I certainly thought so.” Fraser nibbled gently on Ray's earlobe and Ray jumped before settling back again.
“Let's see...” Fraser said thoughtfully, leaving his lips near Ray's ear and feeling the shivers through his body. “There was the time you were haranguing me about not having any feelings and I was so very tempted to show you wrong right then and there... but of course you weren't really there, so it wouldn't have done any good even if I had even in to that temptation.”
Ray twisted around to stare at Fraser, “If I wasn't really there, than how the heck was I harr... harassing you about feelings?”
Fraser blushed. “Well, sometimes I have conversations with you when you're not there, and well, sometimes we end up yelling at each other in them.”
Surprisingly, Ray relaxed into a smile, “Now, that I'd pay money to see.” He turned again and leaned back, “You're talking about the thing with the train, right before the Bolt brothers were at it again, aren't you?”
With a blink, Fraser affirmed it.
“Yeah, I remember that. I was angry then. So angry I might even have kissed you back if you'd done it.” Ray's voice was smiling.
“Ray, that's not very logical.”
“Logic doesn't have much to do with emotions, Benny, and if I didn't care so much I wouldn't have been so angry.”
With a sigh, Fraser buried his face into the back of Ray's neck, kissing and nibbling on the flesh there as Ray groaned. Ray was so good at talking about those emotions... He'd said, once, that guys didn't talk about them, but once he was comfortable with Fraser there didn't seem to be any boundaries about what he would or wouldn't talk about.
“Benny...” Ray twisted around, reaching his arms out to return the embrace and moving his head to try and meet Fraser's lips with his own.
Recalled to himself, Fraser tucked his head into Ray's chest and refused to raise it, though he allowed the embrace and was happily absorbing all the feelings of having Ray pressed up along him.
“Arrgh!” Ray moved back and stood up, stomping off along the cliff edge and throwing his arms up in the air. “Why do I let him do this to me?”
Straightening himself out, Fraser ran his hands through his hair and tried to calm down himself.
“Come on, Dief!” Ray started off along a smooth path, breaking into a quick run as the wolf jumped up and followed him.
Fraser stayed behind and watched Ray as he ran. Ray would come back. That was something that he knew down to the marrow in his bones; no, down to the strands of DNA in his blood. Ray would always come back to him. Fraser's lips curved in a smile.
A while later, Diefenbaker and Ray returned.
Fraser held out his arms, and Ray came to him, throwing himself down on the blanket next to Fraser and easily moving into the warm embrace, placing his head on Fraser's chest as he closed his eyes and relaxed. Fraser stroked Ray's head and back and marveled at the gentleness of the wild creature he loved.
“Benny, am I ever going to get my kiss?” Ray whined desperately.
Fraser carefully controlled his grin, “Setting includes both place and time. We have to wait until the moment is right.”
Ray groaned. “All right, Benny. I've paid. Okay? I should have kissed you two weeks ago. Heck, I should have kissed you five months ago.”
Thoughtfully, Fraser pressed his hand flat on the middle of Ray's back, feeling the sweat of the run on the shirt. “I don't think so.”
“I was already... uneasy with the unexpected transfer, and seeing you there was joy beyond my dreams...” Fraser shook his head, “It took me awhile to get used to the idea that you weren't going anywhere.” Next to them, Diefenbaker whimpered in agreement.
Ray raised his head to look him in the eyes and then he turned around and resettled against him. “I really hurt you bad, didn't I?” Regret was laced through his tones. “I'm sorry, Benny. If I'd kno---”
Fraser pressed a hand to Ray's lips, “Hush, my love. Hush.” They were past that, and Fraser had had more to do with his own hurts than Ray. How he can only think of mine and never once all the times I hurt him... It was something that Fraser had long puzzled at and finally come to accept as simply part of Ray.
Moving Fraser's hand off his mouth, Ray asked in a strangled voice, “What did you call me?”
“It's called an 'endearment,' Ray.” Fraser brushed his lips across the side of Ray's head, noticing that Ray wasn't flinching from it anymore. “When a person loves someone, they give them nicknames.”
“'Benny' is a nickname, Benny. That was... well, that was...” Ray trailed off helplessly.
Fraser smiled, “I promise to only call you it in private, Ray -- and it isn't very easy to make a nickname out of a one-syllable name.”
“Did you call---” Ray snapped his mouth shut before finishing the sentence and there was an uneasy silence from him. Fraser could tell he was trying to figure out how to apologize.
“I had other endearments for RayKay,” he replied to the unspoken question easily. It was actually a bit startling to him to realize that 'love' hadn't been one of them, though there was no doubt that he had loved Ray Kowalski. But Ray Vecchio... Ray had already claimed his heart and soul a long time ago by giving his.
With a sigh, Fraser settled against the rock, squirming just a bit as his back let him know that he'd been sitting there for a great while already.
“Hey, want to trade places?”
Fraser thought about it, “No, too much temptation.” He tightened his arms around Ray.
Ray snorted, “On whose part?” He shifted just enough to let Fraser know that the erection he'd been sporting since Ray had brought them here hadn't gone unnoticed.
Releasing a hand from his grip on Ray, Fraser brought it up to tussle the shorn hair. “Je ne sais quoi.”
“Ah, Benny; don't go on about that again.”
“No, no. Or at least, that was another perfect setting.” He could feel Ray's disbelief. “You called my hair, 'pelt,' Ray, and left baby vomit on your shoulder for me. It was adorable, Ray, and so was the puffin face.”
Ray's shoulders shook with laughter and he turned towards Fraser, his expression open and full of humor and love. Keeping a measured distance between their faces, Ray reached up a hand and cupped Fraser's cheek gently. Fraser kept his gaze on Ray and leaned into the touch, allowing a sound of pleasure out. The green field of Ray's irises were alight with wonder and he tentatively slide his hand up to brush through Fraser's hair. “It really is pelt,” he said softly, playing with the soft strands.
Fraser felt like purring, delighting in the feel of Ray's hands on him.
Ray raised his other hand and traced the bones under Fraser's eye. He smiled at Fraser, apparently knowing full well what Fraser was up to and was, as always, going along with it. Fraser dared to allow his own hands to roam over Ray's back and was rewarded with seeing Ray's eyelids dip down in pleasure.
Glancing out across the ocean, Fraser noted the position of the clouds and the colors starting to tinge the edges. “Ray, sunset.”
“Already?” Ray murmured, turning his head to look.
Fraser leaned over and kissed the side of Ray's mouth. As Ray turned back, startled, Fraser moved his mouth over Ray's and kissed him again, pulling him close as Ray's mouth opened under his and all time stopped.
Eventually, they pulled a little apart from each other.
Ray was alternating between looks of wonder, satisfaction, and wordless joy. Fraser was sure that his face reflected the same.
“You were right, Ray,” Fraser leaned back in, “This is a perfect setting.”