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

"But I ain't seen nothin' like him in any amusement hall ..." Ray sang in a weedy voice, tapping joyfully on the steering wheel.

It was an idiotic song, Fraser had always thought. Surely when one found oneself writing both "disciples" and "crazy flipper fingers" in a single composition, that should be a clear signal that something was awry.

Still, when fate was kind enough to send them a day like today, Fraser was happy to float on the current of Ray's good spirits. Ray was bobbing his head and humming along with the chord changes, and his enthusiasm was contagious.

"Did you see his face? Did you see his face when he realized who we were and what we'd heard and what he had in his hands?" Ray was almost giggling with delight. "We got Antonio Vargas! We arrested Antonio fucking Vargas, Fraser!" And then he was singing again, filling in both voices: "How do you think he does it? -- I don't know. -- What makes him so good?"

Outside, the streetlights were coming on one by one, as if the city were going ahead of them, lighting their path. Ray pulled to a stop at a traffic light and leaned back in his seat, air-guitaring the cheerfully mindless two-chord bridge. He glanced over at Fraser and grinned suddenly, reaching over to clap him on the back of the neck.

"And you, my friend," he said. "You didn't say, 'But, Ray, there's no reason to think Vargas would meet with Whitmore tonight rather than last night or tomorrow.' You didn't say, 'But, Ray, there's nothing to distinguish this door from a dozen other doors.' Nope. I said, 'Tonight,' and you said, 'All right,' and I said, 'This door,' and you said, 'All right,' and you jimmied the lock, and we went through and found Antonio Vargas with half a kilo in one hand and a plane ticket in the other."

And what an effort it had cost him to hold his tongue! He was pleased that Ray appreciated it.

"And as a reward ..." The light turned, and suddenly Ray swung left across three lanes of traffic, waving away the blast of horns. "I'm going to introduce you to some good semi-clean American fun."

The bar was dark, the music was deafening, and the air was rank with the ghosts of a thousand cigarettes. But this early in the evening, there was no crowd, just one man in an enormous cowboy hat who evidently made a career of drinking, judging from the half-dozen empty plastic cups on the table in front of him.

"Heineken and Bud Light on draft tonight, Ray," said the girl behind the bar, an angel-faced redhead in a white lace T-shirt.

"Two Cokes, Heather," Ray said. "I'm driving and he's Canadian." He pushed the cold plastic cup into Fraser's hand and then put a hand on his shoulder and began steering him back into the back corner. "That's what we're here for."

It was -- Fraser felt he should have been expecting this -- a pinball machine, decorated with a scene that would have been at home on the cover of a lurid sword-and-sorcery novel. In a momentary pause in the music, a female voice cried, "Eat cold steel, goblin warriors!"

"The young woman in the chain mail is extraordinarily fit, Ray," he said.

Ray gave him a sidelong grin. "Yeah, she's a good, vital specimen, probably have lots of healthy children. Plus you gotta respect a chick who can handle a sword that big." He draped an arm around Fraser's shoulders. "Come on and I'll introduce you. Fraser, I'd like you to meet, uh, Wanda. Wanda, this is my partner."

"Very pleased to make your acquaintance," Fraser told the machine gravely. He was indulging in a favorite fantasy: that Ray's flirtatiousness wasn't half habit and half game, but the real thing. Aimed at him in particular. With intent.

The machine played a husky female laugh, followed by a metallic sound that was probably supposed to be the clash of swords. "There, see, she likes you, Fraser."

Fraser shook himself inwardly. Ray's arm was still around his shoulder, and Ray's voice was warm when he said 'partner,' and only a fool wished for what he couldn't have.

Ray was behind him now, steering him to the front of the machine with a hand on his shoulder. "Now she wants to know if you're any good with your hands." Fraser heard the clink of quarters.

"What did you tell her?" Fraser asked in as innocent a voice as he could manage.

"Told her I didn't know yet." And then Ray's hand dropped belatedly off his shoulder, and there was a little pause, as if Ray were trying to figure out a way to un-say that "yet." Sometimes he seemed to forget that he wasn't really flirting; old habits apparently died hard.

After a moment, Ray picked up the dropped stitch: "She says, OK, red dude, show me." And he dropped two quarters into the machine. The silver ball rolled down with a metallic clatter and Fraser gamely put his fingers on the buttons.

He lost the first ball almost immediately, but it gave him time to learn to tune out the lights and sounds and Ray's warm presence at his shoulder. He began to have a bit more respect for those silly lyrics, though he was playing less by sense of smell than by sense of touch, guided by the percussion of the machine under his fingertips.

Each button operated three flippers at once, a sensation rather like discovering one had two extra arms on each side -- disorienting at first but not too difficult to adapt to. There was a split-second's delay in the response time of the left-hand button, but this was likewise easy to compensate for. He quickly discovered that it was possible to control the ball's speed and trajectory by catching it on a flipper, then letting it roll down until its position was correct for the desired arc.

And with the correct angle, that bumper with the goblin's face would propel the ball into that lane of bars and belts decorated with rearing horses, setting off a chain reaction of back-and-forth motion which, with luck, would send the ball down the chute with the wine goblet at the bottom at just the right speed to capture it on the second flipper and repeat the whole sequence --

He became distantly aware that Ray was swearing in an awestruck voice beside him as he tipped the ball delicately off the point of the top flipper and watched it roll in a leisurely fashion right up into the center of the field -- slide past a bumper without touching it -- and arc gently into a cup in the mouth of a skull.

There was a moment of breathless silence, and then a bell began to clang and a siren began to howl and a light came on behind Wanda's ample bosom. Ray cried, "Holy shit, Fraser!" in a high delighted voice and hugged the breath out of him for a second before spinning away to wave both hands at the numbers mounting up on the digital readouts. "Holy fucking shit!"

"That's really quite exhilarating, Ray," he said, yielding his place at the table.

Ray stopped his end-zone dance to stare at him. "Do you mean to tell me that you never --" He shook his head hard. "No, no, don't tell me, I do not want to know." Still mumbling -- "Stands right there like he's reading a goddamned book and never raises a sweat and --" he thumbed two quarters forcefully into the slot.

Fraser started out watching the ball, but almost immediately he found himself watching his partner instead. Ray played pinball as if he were dancing with the machine, or attempting to subdue and arrest it. Every thump of the ball against a flipper was accompanied by a corresponding twist of his hips, and he leaned and shoved and jigged in front of the machine until Fraser found he could picture the ball's trajectory simply by watching Ray try to negate the laws of physics through sheer force of will.

"Come on, sucker -- shit, no -- go, go, go --" Ray flung his entire body weight at the front of the machine, jarring it and getting back another sword clash sound and a "Get the point?" from Wanda. His long fingers moved against the buttons, flipping restlessly without pausing. Bells rang and music played and the lights cast colored shadows over Ray's grimacing face, and Fraser watched him, all but holding his breath.

"Shit!" With a final clatter, the last ball rolled down the center, out of reach of the frantically thumping flippers, and was lost.

It must have been a respectable score -- there was no siren, but an orange police light began to rotate on top of the machine, and Wanda's most significant charms were once again lit up from within.

"That's hundreds of hours of my godforsaken adolescence there, Fraser," Ray said, grinning and patting the machine. He had actually worked up a sweat, which darkened the hair at his hairline and temples. Fraser realized he was staring a moment too late.

"I'm -- er --" Fraser cleared his throat and began again under Ray's sharp gaze. "I'm surprised you weren't disqualified for unbalancing the machine." His voice still sounded a little fuzzy, but there was nothing to be done about it.

Ray's eyes went back to the machine. "Ah, but, see, I pushed, but I didn't tilt." His voice sounded a little hoarse, too. "Sometimes you gotta walk that fine line, Fraser, gotta help gravity along."

Ray was looking at Wanda as though the secrets of the universe could be found in her swirling copper hair, yet somehow Fraser could feel the focus of all Ray's senses on him. Fraser took a step closer.

"Do you, now," he said. Heat was welling up under his breastbone. Was this the way Ray's hunches felt? So terrifying, so inevitable?

Ray nodded.

"And if you push too far?" He took another step, still watching Ray's profile.

"It's a, uh, a gamble, Fraser," Ray mumbled rapidly. "Can't win unless you're willing to risk losing."

Fraser took one step closer. By now Ray had to be able to feel Fraser's breath stirring his hair. His cheeks were flushed.

"You're blushing," Fraser said very quietly.

Ray swallowed. " 's Wanda," he said, "red light, that's all it --"

His mouth shut with an audible click as Fraser's lips touched his cheek.

Fraser moved very slowly. Up, where the taut skin around Ray's temple was slightly damp with sweat. Down, where his stubble prickled against Fraser's lips. There was a barely perceptible tremble in Ray's body, but otherwise he was perfectly still. Fraser slid his lips slowly over Ray's face, pausing at the corner of his mouth and then pressing on to cover Ray's lips with his.

For a long moment that was the only point of contact between their two bodies. Then Ray's lips moved in what might have been his name, and Ray's hands came up to fist in the back of his tunic, and finally, finally, Ray's mouth opened to his.

Ray never stopped talking, even as his tongue touched restlessly over and behind Fraser's lips. Ray was murmuring, "Fraser," and "yes," and "oh jesus it's about fucking time." And at last Ray pivoted and pushed Fraser back hard against the pinball machine, which let out a startled little bleep of electronic music, and he pushed up heavily against his chest, tasting every part of his mouth, shivering as Fraser's hands went into his hair.

The machine clattered, and Wanda's husky voice cried, "Eat cold steel, goblin warriors!"

Ray took a stumbling step backward, looking stunned and wide-eyed and very thoroughly kissed. The flashing lights lit his face with a wash of flame-colored light.

Fraser suddenly remembered where they were.

The barfly in the cowboy hat still had his back turned, but Heather was drying a glass with such ostentatious care that Fraser was certain she'd been watching them. Oh lord.

He turned back to Ray, mouth opening to apologize, and found him grinning. "Jesus, Fraser," he said, shaking his head, "you don't do anything by half, do you."

His long fingers closed around Fraser's wrist, and he tugged them both toward the door, calling, "Night, Heather," making no pretense of being anything but what they were -- two people with a sudden urgent need for privacy.

Heather called after them, "Don't do anything I wouldn't --" and then the door swung shut, cutting off her voice.

Ray's hand came off his wrist and his arm went around the back of Fraser's neck, heedless of the passersby. He was still grinning.

"I oughta stop and get a couple Lotto tickets," he said, "because clearly this is my lucky fucking day --"

Daring greatly, Fraser brought his hand down solidly on the right back pocket of Ray's jeans. "No," he said firmly.

And Ray was unlocking the car door with one hand and tugging Fraser's head in with the other. "You realize that's -- mm -- millions of dollars I could be losing -- oh --"

"Drive, Ray," Fraser said, shoving him away. "I'll owe you."

Ray knocked Fraser's hand off his thigh, and put the car in reverse, and knocked Fraser's hand off his thigh again, and took off the parking brake, and knocked Fraser's hand off his thigh again, and gave Fraser a very stern look.

"You," he said. "Behave yourself. Wrecking the car is not gonna get us home any faster." He pulled squeakily out of the parking space and accelerated.

Fraser watched Ray for a moment in the light of the streetlights, and then an idea struck him and he bent forward and began to unlace one of his boots. Ray spared him a glance, and then a longer look.

Once the bootlaces were loosened, he could, with a little effort, get his hands inside the boots and loosen the ankle laces as well. After a moment of thought, he unbuttoned his epaulettes and loosened his lanyard.

"Fraser ..." Ray's voice was almost a whine.

"You'll thank me later, Ray."

Getting the Sam Browne loose under the seatbelt was tricky, but it was worth it to hear the quick intake of breath over the slap of the leather sliding out of the loops. Fraser glanced over at Ray, who was breathing fast through flared nostrils, and applied himself to his tunic buttons, then to the snaps of his henley.

As he was unbuttoning his braces, Ray pulled into his own parking space and shut off the car, letting his head fall forward against the steering wheel.

"That," he said, "was cruel and unfair, Fraser."

Fraser undid his seatbelt. "I'm simply trying to use my time in the most efficient way possible," he said reasonably. Ray made a choking noise, and his head fell back against the headrest.

Helpless to resist, Fraser leaned across the gap and put his fingertips on Ray's throat, feeling his adam's apple bob as he swallowed. He leaned closer.

"Don't kiss me," Ray said hoarsely. Fraser drew back. "You kiss me, I'm gonna do you in the car, Fraser. I won't have any choice."

Fraser swallowed. "I understand." Then he reached over and removed the keys from the ignition, careful not to touch Ray.

Ray gave a little shudder as Fraser released his seatbelt, then let go of the steering wheel, with some apparent difficulty, and held out his hand for the keys.

Ray neither turned on the lights nor closed the curtains, but set the deadbolt and led Fraser silently through the dark apartment to the bedroom, dropping his windbreaker on the hall floor. Shutting the door behind them, he turned in the beam of the streetlight and approached Fraser slowly.

"You ready for this, Fraser?"

He hooked two fingers into Fraser's waistband, and Fraser told the truth: "Not really."

Ray nodded. "But you're gonna do it anyway."

Fraser cupped Ray's cheek, feeling the prickle against his palm. "You said, 'Tonight,' did you not? You said, 'This door.' "

Ray gave his pants a hard tug and hauled him in for a kiss, opening to taste him, to warm him. Ray's hands framed his hips, drawing him closer, and soft as the kiss was, Ray was hard against him, hard and not hiding. Fraser pressed still closer as Ray said Yes and Please and Now and Now.

A nudge, a turn, a slow step backward, and Fraser felt the bed behind him and sank down to it. Ray followed, straddling his lap, never breaking their kiss. When Ray's fingers pushed up under his clothes and found his nipples, Fraser bucked upward with surprising force, and he felt Ray's lips curve against his mouth. Ray gave him one more devastating pinch and then his hands busied themselves with pulling the henley loose from the trousers.

Together they got the tunic and shirt off, and then Ray moved to one side and started on the hidden hook and button of the trousers. Hardly knowing what he was doing, Fraser lifted, and trousers, braces, boxers, and boots all hit the floor together.

And then he felt Ray's fingertips moving delicately over his overheated flesh. Ray's tongue moving out to taste him, to swirl wetly over the crown of his cock. Ray's hands holding hard to his hips.

"Ray --" Fraser gasped. "No, please --"

Ray looked up at him through heavy-lidded eyes. "I want to," he said. "I like to." And he returned to wetting Fraser's cock with tiny soft licks, taking his breath away, over and over.

"Please, no," Fraser said again, tugging at Ray's shoulders. "I can't -- can't last --"

When Ray released him, all he could do for a moment was breathe and shudder and try not to climax on the spot. When the urgency began to recede, he opened his eyes to find Ray giving him the same hungry look he'd worn in the car. Fraser fell back across the bed, opening his arms in wordless appeal, and Ray lay down heavily on top of him. Ray's clothes were cold and rough, an exotic pleasure against his bare skin, and Ray was panting in his ear -- "Later, yeah? Nice and slow now, if that's what you want, but you'll let me do you like that later?"

And then Ray was kissing his face -- his cheeks, his nose, his eyelids -- still murmuring: " 'Cause, you know, I like fast, too, fast turns me on, I wanna get you there any way you wanna go there --"

Dear god. He was going to humiliate himself if he didn't take back a little control.

He rolled them to their sides, but when he tried to end the kiss, he found he couldn't; his mouth reached out blindly for Ray's, unable to endure a moment without the flutter and press of Ray's tongue, the surprising softness of his lips.

Fraser rocked forward, gasping at the delicious pain-pleasure of Ray's jeans against his cock, and Ray took his hand out of his hair and brought it down protectively between flesh and fabric. Ray's skin on his, so much more than he had let himself imagine -- but he had to wait, he had to --

"Wait," he whispered, and grabbed Ray's wrist, stilling his hand. And his body moved, heedless of the commands of his brain, thrusting against Ray's knuckles even as he said again, "Wait --"

Instead, Ray shifted his hand enough to take Fraser's cock in a firm grip.

Ray couldn't move -- Fraser was still holding Ray's wrist. But Ray didn't have to move, because Fraser couldn't stop moving, thrusting into the tunnel of his hand, ashamed of how little restraint he was showing.

Ray watched him narrowly for a moment, and then he took advantage of Fraser's weakened grip to begin a slow pumping motion.


"No?" Ray said, stopping.

"No -- Ray -- I can't -- I'll --"

And Ray leaned closer, until they were almost nose to nose, and Ray said fiercely: "You'll give me this." He tightened his grip and began to move again. "Because it's mine."

And with a cry Fraser lost control, pumping into Ray's fist again and again, and hard as he tried to bite his lip, he was helpless to stop the whimper he made as he came.

The thought of opening his eyes was embarrassing, so he did it immediately.

Ray was still completely dressed; Fraser couldn't even recall his removing his shoes. His green T-shirt was dotted with dark blotches where it was wet with Fraser's semen. Ray wasn't, thank heaven, laughing at him for his lack of control; there was humor in his face, but affection, too.

Perhaps it would be best simply to acknowledge his own incompetence as a lover and then move on to making amends.

To that end, he began by releasing, with some difficulty, the white-knuckle hold he had on Ray's T-shirt. "Ray," he said, "I'm sorry."

"Shut up, Fraser," Ray said cheerfully.

Fraser winced. "Well, I'm sure that wasn't exactly what you might have imagined ..."

Ray raised his eyebrows suggestively. "You got no idea what I been imagining, Fraser," he said. And then he leaned in, closing the distance Fraser had put between them. "And don't go thinking I'm done with you, either, because I'm not."

He moved closer still and pushed Fraser over on his back again, and his tongue came out to swipe lewdly over Fraser's mouth, and Fraser's breath caught.

And then all thought left him as Ray's tongue left his mouth and came down on his chest -- on his belly --

Licking him clean.

Fraser might have been, for the moment, incapable of any physical expression of desire, but the idea was so erotic that it took his breath away. He lifted himself up on his elbows to look, and Ray raised his head with a grin.

"Knew you'd be the type who'd wanna watch," he said. "Get all the way on the bed, why don't you. Make yourself at home."

Fraser hauled himself awkwardly up to recline against the inexplicably abundant pillows piled at the head of the bed. "Ray," he said, feeling alarmed at how selfish he was being, "I can't let you --"

"Newsflash, Fraser. Wasn't asking for your permission."

"But you're still wearing all your clothes --"

Ray's words suddenly caught up with him. I want to. I like to. Give me this. Not done with you.

Fraser looked again at Ray's smeared T-shirt, his baggy jeans, his scuffed boots. "Perhaps," he said, trying a new tone, "you'd take them off for me?"

Ray gave him a satisfied look. "Yeah," he said, "yeah, that's it. You ain't stupid, Fraser, you just got -- blind spots." And he stood up and toed off his boots.

He rubbed a long finger over the smear on his belly, giving Fraser a lewd and knowing smile that filled him with both discomfort and longing. Then he pulled the shirt off in one swift move and flung it away. The pants and underwear followed quickly.

He gave Fraser a moment or two to look at him, and then crawled up the bed with a predatory look that stirred Fraser's blood. "Now," he said, "before I was so rudely interrupted ..." And he returned to licking his way down Fraser's belly, nudging his soft cock with his tongue.

It was ... odd but pleasurable, Fraser thought vaguely. All the nerve endings were, of course, still there, though without the -- the customary bloodflow --

Ray gave him a gentle experimental suck.

"Oh, god, Ray," he sighed, and Ray laughed, a sensation he seemed to feel in his entire body, and released him, moving back up to look him in the eye.

"You with me now, Fraser? We on the same page?"

"I believe so."

Their kisses now were less hungry, more exploratory. Ray seemed to be having no difficulty keeping his urgency under control. He thrust lazily against Fraser's thigh, sighing with pleasure, kissing as though he had no ambition ever to do anything else.

As for Fraser, the experience of making love without the constant focus on maintaining control, on holding off orgasm -- it was a revelation. Now instead of pulling back from pleasurable sensations, he pursued them, sliding closer for more of the intoxicating sensation of skin on skin, pressing back eagerly against Ray's thumb on his nipple.

Ray chuckled against his mouth, and then bent and put his tongue there..

"Ohh," Fraser sighed as the pleasure intensified. "Yes, please, Ray, harder -- oh, yes --" And then he felt the faint sting of teeth, dangerous and breathtakingly exciting.

Ray's hand slid over his belly to grip his cock. It was fully erect again but unwontedly sensitive after so recent a climax, and Fraser pulled quickly away.

Ray raised his head and gave Fraser a stern look, only somewhat marred by his flushed face and swollen mouth. "Now don't be starting that again."

"Just -- be gentle," Fraser sighed, and Ray's expression cleared.

"Yeah, OK," he murmured, "gentle, I can do gentle," and he shoved his body down the bed and took Fraser's cock in his mouth again.

"Ohh." Gentle, yes, he was gentle, but he was relentless: wide hot mouth, mobile tongue, delicate fingertips all bent to the task of driving Fraser mad with desire. "So good."

The urgency was returning; sooner than he would have believed possible, he was climbing up toward climax again. Ray seemed to sense it somehow, settling into a perfect rhythm, tightening his mouth and his fist. Ray was going to take him there, any way he wanted to go there.

If only he could stay here until the end, could spill all his passion into Ray's beautiful mouth. It was probably too much to hope for. Just because he had such shocking fantasies himself didn't mean others were equally freakish -- but oh, the thought was so incredible -- and Ray had given him everything else he had asked for --

"Ray," he whispered, "can I? Can I?"

And Ray gave him a hard suck that couldn't mean anything but Yes.

And Fraser gasped --

and gasped --

and let out a long, helpless wail as he came, as he tumbled, as Ray drew every pulse of pleasure from his trembling body.

He felt Ray lift his head, and opened his eyes to see Ray grinning at him, tongue darting into the corner of his reddened mouth. "There," he said breathlessly, "that's what I wanted in the first place."

Fraser had to smile back. "Remind me," he said, cupping Ray's face in both hands, "not to question your judgment again."

"Damn right," Ray said, and crawled back up for a long, slightly salty kiss.

"Is that me?" Fraser murmured. "I taste like lobster."

Ray snorted. "That's you, Fraser. Weird yet tasty."

Fraser gave in to a months-old impulse and ran his thumbs down the smile grooves on either side of Ray's mouth. "What do you taste like, I wonder," he said, and then after a moment's thought, "Come up here and show me."

Ray blinked at him. "Really?" he said, and then, "Never mind, never mind, stupid question."

Propped on Ray's pile of pillows, Fraser found his mouth at a very useful height. Ray straddled his chest, put one hand on the headboard, and gave Fraser a questioning look down the lean length of his own body.

Even when he was standing up, his cock remained hard and tight against his belly. "You've been waiting a long time," Fraser said.

"Gonna be worth it." Ray reached down with his other hand and tipped his cock out, rubbing it wetly against Fraser's lips and sighing.

It was hot, and wet, and so smooth. Fraser made a small gap between taut lips, and used his hands on Ray's hips to press Ray forward until it slipped in. Ray said, "Ahh."

Fraser swirled his tongue around the crown, and Ray's hips made a tiny jerk. Fraser looked up at where Ray was still watching raptly. "Yes," he said. "I want you to."

Ray closed his eyes and opened them again, opened his mouth and closed it again, bit his lip. "Christ, Fraser," he said tightly. "I don't -- don't wanna hurt you --"

Fraser gripped his hips, licked out against his cock again. "I won't let you," he promised, and Ray pushed slowly into his mouth, rubbed forward and backward over his tongue.

Fraser closed his lips and gave an experimental suck, and Ray cried out, bucking about half his length into Fraser's mouth, until his fingers bumped against Fraser's lips, and back out again. Encouraged, Fraser did it again -- another cry, another thrust, and Ray's head thrown back. What they must look like! Fraser wished, blushing, for a mirror to show him this.

Ray's knuckles were touching Fraser's lips again, and Fraser licked out at them, and now Ray was trembling, his thighs tightening against Fraser's ribs. Fraser could have this. Ray wouldn't stop him. He pulled rhythmically at Ray's hips, encouraging him, making his mouth as tight as he could, listening to Ray's strangled groans above him as Ray picked up the pace.

Until the rhythm stuttered and Ray stood almost still, making tiny circles over Fraser's tongue for a moment, and then jerked and flooded Fraser's mouth in four long spurts.

After a moment, Ray released his hold on his cock, let it slip out of Fraser's mouth, and cupped Fraser's face, looking down at him. Then he lay down on top of Fraser, burying his face in Fraser's neck. "Oh, jesus, Fraser," he said.

Fraser rubbed his damp hair, the back of his neck, his shoulder blades, until his trembling stilled. "I've never done that before," he confessed.

Ray nodded against him. "You learn fast." Then he raised his head, smiling. "So was it, uh, exhilarating?"

"It was, actually." Fraser felt an answering smile on his own face. "Though I would imagine that the rewards are greater for an experienced player." He raised his eyebrows at Ray. "You are an experienced player, I take it."

"Can't play pinball all the time, Fraser," Ray said. "For one thing, you run outta quarters."

"I see," Fraser said. "Well, a resourceful person can always find a rewarding way to occupy his time."

"Exactly." Ray laid his head back down on Fraser's chest, his hair tickling Fraser's chin.

In his own godforsaken adolescence, his hands had known the feel of ax and flint and rifle, the vibration of a snowmobile engine, the subtle messages that a dog team could send up the reins. Not cold droplets condensing on a flimsy plastic cup, not the click and thump of a pinball machine under his fingers. Not a lover's skin.

As though reading his mind, Ray said, "Your love life hasn't been that great, has it."

"That would be putting it mildly." Fraser smiled a little. "I've been shockingly deprived of arcade games, as well."

Ray nodded against his chest. "Have to do something about that," he said. Then suddenly, without warning, he somehow wedged a thigh under Fraser's legs and levered them over so that Fraser was on top of him. Fraser let out a small "oh" of surprise.

Ray grinned up at him. "Eat cold steel, goblin warriors," he said.


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October 9, 2001