This story is rated NC-17 (adults only). It includes explicit male/male sex. If this is what you came for, scroll down. If it isn't, hit the Back button.




















by Resonant

I remember the stupid things,
the mood rings,
the bracelets and the beads ...
-- Third Eye Blind, "Never Let You Go"

First thing he did was buy her a ring.

OK, it was a flimsy little adjustable thing from Six Flags, just one step above the ones that come out of the gum machine. But the mock gold was nearly as bright as her yellow hair, and the glass gem was a perfect match for her eyes.

He never had the guts to give it to her. Who was he kidding? Her father could buy her real gold, all she wanted. And if she wanted a love token, Brian Cusick, who was a junior, would probably give her his uncle's class ring from Northwestern. It was bigger than her thumb knuckle, and she'd wear it on a chain around her neck, between her little breasts.

So the little bendy ring stayed at the bottom of Ray's sock drawer, where he could take it out and imagine it was warm from her delicate Rose Milk-scented fingers instead of from his sweaty palm.

Still, whether she ever saw it or not, he bought it for her.

Fraser sleeps still as a statue, on his back, arms at his sides. Unless it's like fifty degrees or something, he doesn't need covers for warmth, though of course at the Consulate he uses them for modesty. In Ray's apartment, he doesn't need modesty.

Ray leans on the doorframe and looks at Fraser's naked form. In the dim light from the streetlights outside, Fraser is so pale he glows. Smooth. It's incredible how smooth the guy is, considering the life he's lived.

Ray's body is a roadmap of his life. Three tats, including one that nobody but Fraser's ever seen, even though it's not new. Both ears have been pierced at least once at various times, and he was that close to piercing his septum, back in his safety pin days. So far, he's been content to let Fraser think the brand on his ankle was an accident.

There's more when Ray gets dressed. Bracelet. Rings. Even his hair is dressed -- nature didn't make it that color, and she certainly didn't make it stand up under its own power.

Ray likes his body to show the touch of human hands, like somebody cares for it, even if it's only himself.

Fraser, though -- Fraser's like a river-smoothed stone. Those hips don't show the mark of Ray's fingers. That neck is unmarred by Ray's teeth.

Every time Ray puts a hand on Fraser, the river of time washes it away.

Fraser's going to go back to Canada eventually. Ray knows this. It's impossible to imagine the guy settling down here.

Ray's gotten to where he can recognize the days when Fraser's city-crazy. But there's not much Ray can do about it. He can't make Chicago shut up. He can't make the horizon the right shape, the wind the right temperature, the sky the right color.

He can make tea, though. He can let Fraser lie down in his arms and pretend the city's not yelling for attention a couple of flights down.

And he can think silently: Nothing I have here is worth staying for, if you go. Take me with you.

He knows it's hopeless. Yeah, fat chance, Kowalski. Fraser's not gonna want to be saddled with you. He's gonna want to be free.

Unlike you, Fraser 's gotten used to being lonesome.

Happiest day of his life, he sometimes thinks, was when he bought Stella that engagement ring.

Two months' salary? Hell, he could spend three if that's what it took. The important thing was to find something that was perfect, perfect, perfectly her, that would prove how well he knew her. He went to high-toned jewelers at Water Tower Place. He went to funky little boutiques on Clark Street. For weeks on end his head was full of diamonds and gold, and when he closed his eyes he'd see the glitter of metal and stones.

Worst day of his life, without a doubt, was the day she took that ring off and wordlessly handed it back to him.

The first time Ray bought Fraser a bracelet, he really thought he'd done a good thing. Fraser gave him a hot look, and then he pushed up his sleeve and let Ray help him fasten the leather thong to his wrist, and then he gave Ray a still hotter kiss. On Fraser's naked, trembling body, the bracelet stood out like a beacon; Ray couldn't keep his mouth away from it. Even when they tumbled, exhausted, to sleep in Ray's bed, he found himself with his fingers tangled through it.

In the morning, Fraser put his uniform on and took the bracelet off, and Ray never saw it on him again.

When Ray gave him the second bracelet -- a white-cotton turkshead knot, this time -- Fraser looked so uncomfortable that he nearly snatched it back.

"Ray," Fraser said, in that prepare-for-disappointment voice that he must have heard so much himself as a child, "I can't tell you how touched I am that you want to give me jewelry, but to be honest, I just can't feel comfortable wearing it."

When Ray tried to take the turkshead back, Fraser clung to it with surprising force. "Just because I can't wear it doesn't mean I don't want it, Ray," he said, looking almost desolate. "It's a gift from you. I want to keep it."

Maybe it went into the bottom of his sock drawer.

Fraser's hair doesn't stay in place because he combs it a lot. Unlike Ray's, it doesn't owe anything to L'Oreal, either. It stays in place because, well, because neat is how he is.

Fraser's outside corresponds with his inside. If he ever felt like a messy-hair person, then he'd have messy hair. Otherwise? Nope.

Not that Fraser's totally unmarked by life. But in some fanciful moments Ray thinks that his body just absorbs the marks.

Like even the bullet hole would disappear, if the wound inside ever healed.

The first time Ray touched Fraser -- jeez, he doesn't know why it took so long. He was interested from day one, and he was getting some hints that Fraser was interested, too. He liked Fraser. Fraser liked him. He wanted Fraser. Fraser -- well, it was possible, even likely. You never knew till you asked, right?

And Fraser wasn't the type to freak out on him. If Fraser wasn't interested, he'd say, "No, thank you, Ray," like he was turning down a cookie or something.

Thing was, though, Ray had fallen for Fraser almost immediately. By the time they knew each other well enough for Ray to make a friendly proposition, what he felt was so far beyond friendly that that "No, thank you, Ray," would have killed him.

So he didn't ask and he didn't ask and he didn't ask, until finally being half in love with his partner and keeping his mouth shut about it started to seem normal to him.

He might have gone on that way indefinitely if Fraser hadn't one day come out of the storage closet at the Consulate and said, before the door had time to swing shut, "Ray, I hope you are aware that I love you."

And while Ray and Fraser were cleaning up the cup of coffee Ray had dropped, Ray admitted that, yes, he was aware of it. And he said, "You, too," which was chickenshit. So that night after dinner at Ray's apartment, Ray made up his mind to say it for real. Except that apparently their earlier conversation had knocked a screw loose in his brain, because what came out of his mouth was, "Go to bed with me."

Which was absolutely totally the most shocking thing anybody had ever said for the couple of seconds it took before Fraser said, "All right."

After that, Ray did say it for real, said it into Fraser's ear and into Fraser's mouth and into his own pillow and finally down into Fraser's hair as they lay with Fraser's head pillowed on Ray's chest. And that last time, Fraser answered him, softly, smugly, sleepily, "I knew you did."

And it wasn't that a moment like that should necessarily lead to necking in the men's room at the station, but it was almost surreal how things the next day were just the same. Exactly the same, and Ray just had a hard time talking about armed robberies with a guy who knew what his belly button tasted like.

All day long that sense of displacement got worse, because even when they were away from the station and in relative privacy -- at lunch, in the car -- Fraser was still giving no sign of being the same person who had left several clear and separate bite marks on Ray's shoulder the night before.

Which made Ray crabby, which made Fraser distressed, which made Ray perverse enough to answer every question with some variant of "Nothing" or "Fine," which eventually made Fraser quit asking, which made Ray so mad that when they got in the car to go home, he just drove Fraser to the Consulate and sat there, daring him to say anything.

And Fraser looked at Ray with a satisfying level of shock, and then his face went all determined and he said, "Take me to your apartment, please, Ray."

It did cross Ray's mind to be really pissy, like say by pointing out that Fraser hadn't been invited. But some angel or demon made him keep his mouth shut, and he was grateful forever afterward, because as soon as the deadbolt clicked home, he found himself with his back to the door and every inch of his front plastered with warm, sighing Mountie. His hands were clasped, his face was nuzzled, his hair was sniffed, even his feet were pinned between two well-polished boots. "Oh, my god, Ray," Fraser breathed into the side of his neck.

All Ray's paranoia went away so fast it prickled his eyes a little on the way out. "Hey, hey, Fraser, what was with the untouchable act all day long, then, hm?"

He wasn't sure how much of that was audible, since he spoke most of it into Fraser's forehead and temple, but the gist must have gotten through, because Fraser responded, without raising his lips from Ray's neck: "We have a duty, Ray, and we owe it to those who are in jeopardy to give them our full attention. Without --" he punctuated this statement with a lick behind Ray's ear -- "distraction."

"Um. Yeah?"

"So I thought it best to put it out of my mind."

"You can put it out of your mind?" Jesus, he hadn't been able to go five minutes without some vivid image from the night before. Had been wondering if it was really safe for him to drive.

"Well." Fraser hesitated. "I wasn't entirely successful."

When Ray moved out, Stella offered to give back all the jewelry he'd given her. But he wasn't going to let her. She knew that as well as he did.

Smooth gold chain still warm from the back of her neck and tasting faintly, bitterly of her perfume. Two-strand bracelet that divided just so over the bones of her wrist. Little dangle of citrine beads that brushed the side of her neck when she laughed.

"Nah. Bought 'em for you. You keep 'em."

And she said, "Thank you, Ray," and touched his face, and softly shut the door.

One time in one of those foofy New Age stores, Ray smelled a cologne that reminded him so much of Fraser that it made his mouth water.

By then, though, he had learned his lesson.

A year and a half Fraser's been living at the Consulate, and his room still looks like a barracks. All the little day-to-day stuff that you accumulate -- keys and pocket change, tissues and spare boot laces, hand lotion and business cards -- well, either Fraser puts all that stuff away neatly every night, or else he's not the same kind of stuff magnet that everybody else is.

There's no washcloth drying in the bathroom, no half-empty coffee cup by the bed. Fraser's living his everyday life like a wilderness hiker. Pack it in, pack it out.

Fraser in bed. Well. Not at all what Ray imagined.

For one thing, he's demanding as hell. Deeper. There. Slow. Yes. Yes. Yes.

Turns Ray on something fierce, but also stuns him. This is the guy who doesn't care what he eats or where he sleeps?

Fraser wants Ray to be demanding, too. Demands it, if that's not a contradiction.

Tell me.

God, Fraser -- your mouth --

Lick or suck? Tell me.

Ray waited nervously at first for some kind of roleplaying thing to take shape around this, but it never did. Fraser just wants to give Ray exactly what he wants. Well, that, and it seems to turn him on to hear Ray say the words.

He'd feel guilty except that just as often, Ray's the one being told what to do, and he loves it. Loves that Mr. Polite Mountie can make so free with his body.

So Ray's getting into some really bad habits, and he's going to have to unlearn some stuff if -- when -- if he ever has another lover. One who won't appreciate being dragged by the shirtfront into the bedroom and told, "Take your clothes off. Slowly."

At first, Ray could only ever think of about three things to ask for. But Fraser's pretty creative. One time he walked Ray through a hand massage, which made him do even more moaning and sighing than he does in bed, and he's very fond of having his back scratched. So now Ray's trying to get creative, too, and he's got a mental list of stuff he might one day have the guts to ask Fraser to do.

Wash my hair for me.

Kiss me till I come.

Put your hands over my eyes, all dark and warm until I can stop thinking and sleep.

Sing me a song. Something long and sad.

Love me forever.

Let's not sugar-coat it: Ray used to hate his apartment. One time he had to pay extra on his rent because he punched the bathroom mirror so hard the landlady had to put in a whole new medicine cabinet.

It didn't rent furnished, and it seemed like whipping himself to have to go out and spend good money on a bed he didn't want to be sleeping in and a couch he didn't want to be sitting on and a television he didn't want to be watching. Towels. Damn it. Sheets.

Everything in the housewares department seemed to be mocking him. You used to have a microwave. Yeah, and a woman who loved you, too. Loser.

The stuff he had with Stella had mostly been wedding presents, which meant a nicer class of stuff than they could have afforded just starting out. Nicer than what he has now, that's for sure. He didn't understand at first why anybody would pay more for sheets than they had to, but after a few nights on his new ones, he got it.

He bought a vacuum cleaner. Then it crapped out on him and he bought another one, one that wasn't mostly made of plastic. And replacement bags. He owns rubber gloves, now, too, and a toilet brush.

The first purchase that he really took any pleasure in was the glasses: tall skinny things with pink flamingos on them. Bought 'em on a whim one time when he'd only gone out to get something to unstop the sink. It still makes him smile a little every time he pours milk into one of those glasses. Funky. Tacky, Stella would say.

He likes them.

"I swear he does it on purpose."

"Does what, Ray?"

"Look at him over there. I don't think he itches all that much. I think he's trying to leave wolf hair all over my chair."

Fraser watches Diefenbaker scratch for a moment. "It's possible," he says, "that he's marking his territory."

"That's not his territory. It's my territory. I paid good money for that chair."

"In the wild, there's little concern for who pays for what," Fraser says. "A territory belongs to the one who marks it and uses it and defends it." On Ray's armchair, Dief gives one final scratch and subsides into a comfortable sprawl. "Of course," Fraser goes on, "in the wild, wolves mark their territories primarily with urine and feces."

Ray glares at Dief. "Do not even think about it, wolf."

"It's possible that Dief has decided to modify his marking technique, given that his primary competitors are humans and not fellow wolves."

Ray snorts. "Mighty civilized of him."

"Oh my."

"What is it, Fraser?" Ray goes back to find Fraser looking into the shower.

"You certainly have a lot of bottles and jars in your shower."

"Yeah, well, I'm high-maintenance, Fraser, you knew that."

Fraser just smiles. Then he moves aside two bottles of shampoo to make room for a bar of soap.

"Lemme see that." Ray picks up the soap. It's perfectly rectangular and perfectly white and it doesn't smell like anything at all. "Great," he snorts. "Canadian soap."

The first time Fraser stayed over, instead of getting up and taking a shower and going home, was a Friday night about a week after the first first time. Ray doesn't remember whether they talked about it or not. They must have, surely?

What he does remember, crystal clear, is what it felt like to wake up with Fraser's leg lying heavily over the backs of his thighs. Not great, strangely enough. Totally unfamiliar, for one thing, and it was kind of scary to be immobilized like that, and the extra weight made his knees ache.

And then he remembered. And felt so good he laughed out loud.

Woke Fraser right up, and then Ray had to kiss the curiosity out of him, because it was easier than explaining what was funny.

Fraser stays over a lot now. He won't stay if he's got some early-morning duty at the Consulate, or if he thinks Ray needs more sleep. But some weeks he spends more nights here than in that glorified monk's cell he calls home. Ray thinks surely someone has noticed -- Thatcher, Turnbull, someone who went looking for Fraser in the dawn hours and found his bed still neatly made. But no one says anything to Ray, and if anyone's spoken to Fraser, Fraser's keeping his mouth shut about it.

Ray won't let himself think about how nice it would be to have Fraser move in for real.

Sunday morning. They've just woken up for the second time, after passing out after what they did when they woke up the first time. Fraser's gotten up long enough to make coffee, but Ray's settled in for the duration: lying on his belly, the Trib sports section spread out in front of him, a cup of coffee in easy reach on the floor. He's just starting a nice piece on exactly how and why this year's Blackhawks suck when he feels a warm mouth at the base of his spine.

It used to make him feel weird when Fraser did stuff like that. Like he was supposed to be Superman in the sack or something, always up for more. And lord knows he did his best, and lord knows Fraser could inspire a personal-best performance in anyone, but sometimes a guy just needs a break, you know?

Now he just smiles, and moves one leg to give Fraser more room to sprawl out down there, and goes right on reading the Hawks' injury list. Because he's finally figured out that Fraser doesn't want anything from him at times like this. Fraser's just enjoying his body. And, hey, if Fraser wants to spend a little low-pressure time admiring Ray's lower back, who is Ray to object?

Fraser's being a little less exploratory than usual at the moment, and it doesn't take long for Ray to figure out he's up to something. There's an unfamiliar crinkly noise and then an unfamiliar sensation, something flat and dry in the smooth spot at the base of his spine, and then a wet tongue in the spot. The sports page is getting a little less interesting.

The tongue goes away, and Fraser makes a sort of "hunh" sound that communicates nothing at all, and rubs firmly over the spot in a way that momentarily takes all the energy out of Ray's curiosity and puts it into one long purr.

As soon as Fraser stops rubbing and makes that "hunh" sound again, Ray starts craning back over his shoulder in a vain effort to see his own butt. "What did you do to me, Fraser? You put a 'Kick Me' sign on me? What?"

"Don't be silly, Ray." Fraser shelters whatever it is with one cupped hand.

Ray wiggles his hips in a way that he hopes will be either seductive or funny. "Lick me there some more."

"I can't do that, Ray." Fraser is sounding distinctly smug now. "It would ruin the image."

"Then lick me someplace else -- image? What image? Fraser -- hey, you put one of those tattoo sticker thingies on me, didn't you. Like I don't have enough ink on me already. I ought to put one on you."

"That would be inappropriate, Ray." Good lord, the guy actually has a hand mirror. Freak. After a little adjustment, he gets the angle right and Ray can see the tattoo.

"It's a -- panda? Hey -- Fraser, you put the logo of the World Wildlife Federation on my ass?"

"Strictly speaking, I'd call it your back," Fraser says mildly. "And I removed the organization's name before applying the tattoo."

"You put a vicious wild animal that also happens to be a charity logo on my ass." Ray rolls carefully onto his side. "You know what you gotta do now, don't you?"

"What's that, Ray?"

"You gotta inspect it for damage. Every day. Thoroughly."

Fraser smiles. "I shall endeavor to do my duty."

Fraser and Ray are interrogating a suspect. That is to say, Fraser is taking a sobbing confession from an old guy who bilked a bunch of widows out of a bunch of pensions. Ray and Frannie tracked him down, and Ray arrested him, but Ray doesn't kid himself that he's serving any purpose in this interrogation room except making it all official for anybody who might be touchy about jurisdiction and international law. They wouldn't be getting anything but more scamming out of the guy if they didn't have Walking, Talking Justice In Red on their side.

"You still have many years ahead of you, Mr. Osiecki," Fraser is telling the weeping con artist, "and I'm sure your particular sales skills will help you find legitimate employment once your debt to society is paid."

Some guy with a laptop comes in, and Fraser says, "Mr. Osiecki is prepared to make a full confession." Then Fraser offers the old guy a handkerchief ("Oh, no, please keep it") and turns to look at Ray, and Fraser's eyes do that soft thing they do, and Fraser almost smiles.

Ray's not sure how he feels about that. Fraser's sincere, no question, Fraser's the very definition of sincerity. On the other hand, there's also no question that Fraser's letting affection show on his face because he knows Ray needs to see it, and Ray's not crazy about that. What, he's so needy that he's gotta have puppy-dog eyes in the middle of the station where anybody could see?

But it warms him in spite of himself, and he smiles back, a private smile for a couple of seconds before the public smile comes back. "Let's get outta here," he says. "I hear a calzone calling me."

"Calling you? How unusual, Ray."

"They're very demanding, Fraser," he says. "You do not want to keep the calzone waiting, got it?"

Ray gave Fraser a key on the way to work one morning. He did it in the car because he wanted to stop himself from making a big deal of it.

This plan was not entirely successful. After five blocks of jittering and jiggling and tapping and twitching, Ray saw out of the corner of his eye that Fraser was taking the deep breath that would undoubtedly lead to his asking Ray what on earth was the matter with him. To stave off the question, Ray stopped at a traffic light and maneuvered the key out of his pocket and handed it to Fraser and said, "Look, this is for you."

Fraser had a big old ring of keys in his lap -- the Consulate had a gazillion things that had to be unlocked every morning and locked up every night, door after door after cabinet after cabinet -- but Fraser didn't put the key on that ring. He looked at it for a moment, and then he said, "Thank you, Ray," and then he looked at it for another moment before slipping it into his hatband.

Ray started to give the practical, you-might-wanna-watch-something-on-TV-sometime explanation, and then he started to give the romantic, mi-casa-es-su-casa explanation, and then before he could open his mouth again, Fraser said rather scratchily, "Your welcome has always meant a great deal to me, Ray."

Ray and Fraser sat there looking at each other for a minute and then Fraser said, "The light's," and then he swallowed and said in a more normal voice, "green."

When Ray took his foot off the brake, the tires spun a little.

Ray has to grin when he sees the living room. Looks like one of those scenes in the movies where they pan over all the discarded clothes to tell you the boy and the girl finally got together. His leather jacket is a crumpled heap just inside the apartment -- it barely escaped being slammed in the door. Fraser's Stetson made it a little further in. Ray shakes his head as he finds it on the floor, half under the couch.

Jacket goes on its usual hook inside the coat closet door: the one to the left, crusted over with layer upon layer of paint. Fraser's hat goes on its usual hook, meticulously placed precisely between the outer two. The brass is beginning to tarnish.

Ray wonders if Fraser's going to polish that, too.

Ray used Fraser's Canadian soap one time. It really didn't have any smell at all, but it made a surprisingly nice lather. Those Canadians and their secret luxuries.

When he picked Fraser up at the Consulate that morning, Fraser began sniffing the air as soon as he got in the car. Ray figured he might as well go ahead and confess.

Fraser didn't seem displeased. "But I like the smell of your soap."

"Yeah? You can use it any time, you know."

"On you," Fraser clarified.

Stubborn? Jesus. Ray's been called stubborn, but he's got nothing on the Mountie. "Look, Fraser, if you don't like it, you can just say so. It's only soap."

The next morning, Ray actually stood there in the shower hesitating like an idiot for a minute. Then he went ahead and used his old soap just to piss Fraser off.

When Fraser got in the car, he actually leaned over, right there in front of the Consulate, and buried his face in Ray's neck, sighing in satisfaction.

"Crazy Mountie," Ray muttered.

Dief made some comment from the back seat, and Fraser said, "I quite agree," with unusual emphasis. But Fraser was just wanting Ray to ask, so he didn't.


"What is it, Ray?"

"Closet doorknob came off again. Could you -- never mind, you don't know where it is --"

But Fraser's already there with a pair of pliers and two screwdrivers. "Phillips or flat?"

Ray puts the doorknob back on and tightens a couple of kitchen cabinet knobs on the way to the drawer where he keeps everything he doesn't know where else to keep. The drawer's a little neater than he remembers it being, and some of the things look unfamiliar.

"Hey, Fraser, what's this?" Intriguing little brown leather box, about the size of his palm.

Fraser looks up from his newspaper. "Ah. That's my repair kit. I hope you don't mind, Ray; it seems I'm more likely to lose a button here than anywhere else."

Ray responds to Fraser's smile with a slightly darker one of his own. "Now, I wonder why that might be."

"Ray. That's my shirt."

"Is not." He keeps on buttoning it.

Fraser makes an irritated noise. "Your workshirt is right here in the closet. You see?"

By now Ray's just being contrary. "How do you know that one's not yours?"

"Well, for one thing, the last time I went shopping, Marshall Field didn't have a branch in Toyuktuk. Also, the shirt you have on is a little" -- here Fraser gathers up a handful of chambray at Ray's back and uses it to tug Ray closer -- "large."

Ray pivots and uses his momentum to push Fraser back against the closet door for a kiss.

"OK, you're right, it's your shirt," he admits cheerfully. "Mind if I wear it anyway?"

Fraser folds back the collar and delicately kisses Ray's neck. "Oh, not at all," he murmurs. "Be my guest."

"Ray, are you sure?" Fraser's sounding all concerned again.

"Hey, if it's too out there for you, Fraser, that's OK."

"No, no, it's just -- are you certain that's what you want?"

"Yeah. It's what sounds good to me right now. If you're OK with it."

"All right." Fraser puts a pillow against the headboard and sits, patting the spot in front of him. He still has a little wrinkle in the middle of his forehead.

Ray leans back on Fraser's broad chest and drops his head back against Fraser's shoulder, closing his eyes. "OK, go ahead," he says.

He can feel Fraser's chest expand as he takes a breath, and then Fraser begins to sing softly:

In the city of Chicago,
as the evening shadows fall,
there are people dreaming
of the hills of Donegal ...

Ray opens his eyes in the near-dark, wondering what woke him. He doesn't think he's been sleeping long, but he's on Fraser's side of the bed, face in Fraser's pillow, and from here he can't see the clock without his glasses.

Without moving, he sort of stretches his senses out, and suddenly he's aware of Fraser standing in the doorway behind him. "You're home," he murmurs.

"You're awake," Fraser answers.

"Yeah." Ray rolls over on his back and opens his eyes. Very consciously he doesn't pull up the sheet to cover his body. Fraser's leaning one shoulder on the door, backlit by the streetlight that keeps the living room bright at night. Ray can't see his face, but despite the relaxed pose his body looks somehow alert. "The ambassador get off OK?"

"The plane was an hour late in leaving." Fraser must have changed at the Consulate; whatever soft thing that is that he's wearing, it's definitely not the uniform. "The ambassador is rather tedious company." Ray hears him breathe in and out once, slowly, before adding: "I want you."

Ray swallows. "Jeez, it turns me on when you say stuff like that." When Fraser remains standing in the doorway, he says, "You can do whatever you want with me."

"Let me look at you."

The first time Fraser did this, Ray made a bunch of excuses about looking the way he looks, and Fraser actually spoke a bit sharply to make him stop. The second time, he did all his apologizing mentally, but Fraser must have felt it in his muscles.

After that, Fraser seemed to consider it his duty to more or less introduce Ray to himself. The cup of his hipbone. The exact spot on his belly where hair gives way to no-hair. The slight difference between the color of his nipples and the color of his mouth, and the way they both get darker when kissed. Fraser told him about all these things, hotly and at length, until he made a gift of Ray's own body and wrapped it up and gave it to him.

So now Ray kicks the sheet the rest of the way off, and Fraser's gaze moves to his feet, which he has some kind of weird affection for, and then upward. Ray's half-hard, getting harder, and he sees the movement draw Fraser's eyes. And then for a long time Ray watches Fraser looking at him.

At last Fraser says, "Ray. Close your eyes, please."

Ray does, and he hears the rustle of cloth, and then the bed dips as a naked Fraser lies down beside him. Fraser's hand curls over Ray's bare shoulder, and Fraser's breath stirs the hair around his ear.

"What do you want me to do?"

"Listen." Fraser runs his hand down Ray's arm, slowly, making a faint hissing noise. "Feel." He breathes warmly in Ray's ear, and then Ray feels the tip of Fraser's tongue there, making him shiver.

"Hey, kiss me," Ray says, and Fraser kisses him softly, and then not so softly.

Fraser sometimes pulls back briefly between kisses -- looking at him, enjoying the way their kisses make his face flush and his lips puff. Ray knows this because Fraser has told him so, and Ray keeps his eyes shut because Fraser hasn't told him to open them.

In the next pause, he says, "How long were you watching me?"

"A few minutes. Until my eyes adjusted to the dark." Fraser runs a hand up Ray's ribs -- firmly, because Fraser knows he's ticklish there.

"That panda still back there?"

"Yes. Though it's beginning to show signs of wear."

"Poor guy's almost extinct, huh?" It's only a tattoo.

There's a smile in Fraser's voice. "I have others, Ray."

Fraser pushes Ray over and begins to map out all the sensitive places on his back -- back of neck and back of shoulders, along the wing of a shoulderblade, down his side and then inward along the line where his waistband rides. Ray can hear the brush of Fraser's lips and tongue, the little happy noises he's making. Then Fraser moves down suddenly and bites, not gently, in the meaty part of Ray's buttock. Ray grunts with surprise and pleasure, and Fraser puts his hand there and shoves Ray's hips down to rub his cock against the sheet.

He feels Fraser's thumb smooth over what's left of the panda tattoo. It must be peeling off, or Fraser would be licking it. Instead, he makes a wide circle around it with his tongue, and then he makes a wet, direct plummet down between Ray's buttocks.

"Fuck!" They hardly ever do this because Ray likes it too much. "Jesus, Fraser, don't --"

Fraser doesn't stop. Instead, he uses the hand that isn't keeping Ray open to pull up on his hip until one knee comes up to support him, while his tongue continues to work at Ray's hole. Ray draws a hissing breath. "Fraser!" He hears the whine in his voice. "Ah, god, stop, stop, Fraser, you do that and I'm gone in thirty seconds, you know that --"

"Yes. I want that," Fraser says against his skin.

Against his will, Ray's hand slides down into the triangle of knee, hip, and bed. He's not jacking himself, just holding his hand there so he can rub his cock against his open palm. Fraser's watched Ray do this before, and he likes it; he makes an approving noise now and brings his hand around to cup it behind Ray's. After a moment Ray takes his own hand away. And how can it feel so different, rubbing against Fraser's palm instead of against his own?

He's panting now, right on the edge, and Fraser knows it, Fraser moves his hand a fraction so that Ray can't get quite as much pressure. Just a little change, just enough to hold him there on the verge for a few long seconds until Fraser makes some sort of demonic little flutter with his tongue, and Ray rasps out his name and spills all over his hand.

Ray rides out the last shuddering wave and lies there, panting, feeling Fraser scattering soft kisses over his lower back. "Oh my god," he says. "Fraser. In. Now, do it, now."

Fraser brings his wet hand around and smooths it over Ray's hole, but Ray knows that won't be slippery enough for Fraser, and sure enough, he leaves their bed and goes over to the nightstand to dig the slick out of the drawer. Ray rolls over on his back and opens his eyes as he hears Fraser pop the top. "Let me watch you do that."

Fraser obligingly turns around to give Ray a better view as he slicks up, maybe a bit more thoroughly because Ray's watching. He snaps the tube shut, but brings it back to bed with him.

He comes down heavily on top of Ray, giving him a long kiss. Ray's had sex with guys before, but not the lying-down kind of sex, so that weight is a sensation he associates only with Fraser, sex and security both. Fraser catches Ray behind one knee and pushes his leg back, and that's all the warning Ray gets before he's pressing in.

And god. Ray's asked for it like this, with no fingers first, but Fraser's always said no, not willing to risk hurting Ray even if Ray's willing to risk being hurt. What convinced him that Ray can take him like this now? Ray's not about to ask.

It's a long slow push to get things started, sting of almost-pain that's so impossibly good, and slide to a stop, and wait a little. Fraser's breathing hard but still in total control. Another long slow push and Fraser's all the way in, looking at Ray with something that looks like astonishment -- and then out out out, and when Ray protests, Fraser says "Patience, Ray," in his don't-argue-with-me voice. Slicks up again (and Ray is amused to note that this time he does not snap the cap shut) and then it's just one easy slide and he's in.

Ray hooks his knee over Fraser's shoulder and uses it to lift his body a little, get a better angle. When he's settled, Fraser smiles a little and begins a slow rocking movement that's so -- ah -- and Ray's neck and thighs go all goosebumps, and he looks up and sees Fraser's head bent over, Fraser watching him get hard again.

God, it's just what he needs, just what he needs, and then suddenly it's nowhere near as much as he needs, and he puts a hand up and lifts Fraser's face to look into his eyes and says, roughly, "More." Fraser nods and takes a deep breath and starts to fuck in earnest.

And then the moment Ray watches for, the moment he lives for -- when Fraser stops thinking about what Ray wants and starts going after it for himself. His eyes are still open, but not really focused. His mouth is open, too. Ray starts talking, low, encouraging, and that makes Fraser shut his eyes and throw his head back, which is beautiful, too.

"Ray," Fraser grates out after a while, "you first -- do what you need --" and Ray takes his cock in a real grip this time, strokes it fast and hard. He knows Fraser's watching, and like everything else he offers this up to Fraser, his need and his pleasure and his sex-born selfishness, and he looks in Fraser's eyes and sees that Fraser sees, and he comes again.

The minute he stops clenching, Fraser falls down on him, pumping fast, and just like always Fraser's whispering, "Ray, love you, love you," and Ray wraps his arms around Fraser and holds him hard as he comes.

Jesus, they're loud, even their breathing is loud, and Ray isn't sure he really meant to be squeezing Fraser so hard, but Fraser doesn't seem to mind. Ray feels teeth on the front of his shoulder, and he nudges Fraser's head with his. "Hey, Fraser, that's gonna leave a mark."

Fraser raises his face with a wicked smile. "Of course, Ray."

First snow of the winter. Ray waits while Fraser changes out of his uniform, and then they go out walking just to listen to the quiet. A couple of blocks from Ray's apartment there's a little triangle of green in the angle of two streets, hardly worth calling a park, but it's a place where you can get under trees instead of under buildings, and they head there without a word.

No wind blowing, this once, and the cottony flakes are settling lightly on each leaf and stem. They sparkle when the streetlights hit them. The snow cover is still light enough that when Dief runs across the grass, the snow melts in the heat of his paws. Ray touches Fraser's wrist and nods at the wolf trail, and Fraser smiles.

Fraser looks good. Relaxed. He hasn't even bothered to put a coat on, just pulled on some ridiculous reindeery mittens and the big red scarf Ray gave him in the fall. His eyes on Ray are soft as a caress, and in the spell of the silence Ray moves in close. Kisses him, not deep but lingering, right here under the trees, and when he's done Fraser's eyes are softer still, and Fraser's smile is the one Ray swears nobody has ever seen but him.

Maybe when Fraser goes back to Canada, Ray can think of some way to convince him to take Ray along.


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January 2001