Translating Fahrenheit to Celsius

by Speranza

Note:  A snippet written for LauraKaye and posted to LJ.  Thanks to Julad and Mia for the beta!

Ray was fumbling with the buttons of his jeans—bastard things hadn't really fit right since he'd done that super-hot wash by accident. The holes had warped and swelled, and he was having a damn hard time getting the brass buttons back through the—

He heard the bathroom door squeak open and then shush shut. Two soft steps to the sink and then the water started running.


Ray instantly lifted his head, hands still clutching his open fly. Because that was Fraser's voice, except Fraser didn't normally come into the bathroom and say things like, "God." He stretched up his neck and looked over the thin blue wall of the stall.

Fraser was bent over the sink, scrubbing his hands, and then he lifted his dripping hands and began washing his face.

"Hey," Ray said.

Fraser jerked and spun around. He looked caught off-guard and guilty. "Ray. Hello."

Ray finished buttoning his pants. "You all right?" he asked.

"Yeah." Fraser turned back to the sink and finished washing his hands and face.

"You sure?"

"Yes." Fraser glanced up and caught Ray's eyes in the mirror. "Yes, I'm fine."

Except that was not a good answer; Ray'd learned enough Mountie-speak to know that that was not a good answer. "I'm very well, thank you," meant that Fraser was okay; "I'm fine," meant that he really wasn't so good; "I'm all right," meant that he was bleeding and his intestines were hanging out of his abdomen; and "I don't feel so well," meant that he was dead.

You had to take everything a couple of notches down with Fraser; sorta like translating Fahrenheit to Celsius.

Ray turned, flushed the toilet, and came out of the stall, frowning. "So what is it?" he asked, moving to the sink next to Fraser.

Fraser was drying his hands meticulously on a paper towel. "Nothing, Ray."

"Sounds like something." Ray couldn't get any soap out, and he banged hard at the dispenser with his hand. He managed to get a little pink slimy soap and worked it into a lather. "Nothing's always something with you."

"It's really nothing," Fraser insisted, but Fraser still wasn't making eye contact with him. Fraser was looking at the floor, at the opposite wall, at the water rushing over Ray's hands.

Ray switched off the tap and shook his dripping hands. "Something happen?" he asked, reaching past Fraser to the paper towel dispenser.

Fraser shook his head.  "No."

"Somebody do something?"

"No, Ray."

Ray studied Fraser's face. "Somebody say something?"

Another quick headshake, but Ray'd been doing interrogations for years now, plus he knew Fraser like the back of his fucking hand.

"Huh. Somebody said something to you." It wasn't a question. "What'd they say?"

Fraser tried to look exasperated, but Ray knew a put-up job when he saw one. "Nobody said anything to me, Ray."

Ray replayed Fraser's words in his head, looking for the loophole. "Somebody said something to—no, not to you, just near you.  Maybe not even, since you could probably hear them a block away."

Fraser didn't deny it. Fraser might split hairs into tiny pieces, but he wasn't an out-and-out liar, most of the time.

"Come on—right?" Ray demanded, but Fraser wouldn't meet his eyes. "Hey, c'mon." Ray took a step forward, clutched Fraser's arm, and lowered his voice. "What'd you hear?"

Fraser shook his head. His mouth had gone all hard and tight.

"Somebody said..." Ray searched Fraser's face and tried to adjust his ideas to Fraser's reactions. "Somebody said something about... something about..."

The world around him grayed out a little. And then he had it.

"Something about me," Ray said, surprised.

Instantly Fraser's eyes snapped back to him.

"Somebody said something about me?" Ray asked.

Fraser didn't say anything for a long moment, and then he nodded, once. "Yes," Fraser said, his face stained pink with embarrassment. "Something about you. And—me."

The words hung in the air between them. Ray felt suddenly, strangely, lightheaded.

Well, there you go, that was the ballgame. That was the whole ballgame, right there.  Queer, separated, divorced, transferred, partnered, exposed, fired, thank you for playing.

He felt weirdly calm, calmer than he would have thought. "Oh. Okay." He became aware that he was still clutching Fraser's arm tightly, and he carefully, deliberately, moved his hand away. "Okay. Look, I'm sorry."

But Fraser frowned at him. "Why are you sorry?"

"Because I— You know. Because." Because he didn't watch himself enough? Because he watched Fraser too much? Because somehow he'd slipped up? Because he was gonna drag Fraser down with him?

No. No way was he taking Fraser down. Over his cold, queer body, he decided.

"Okay, look—I'll back off," Ray whispered, instantly shifting into full-out, defensive-strategy mode. "Maybe we can work out something where you push me off—like, staging a scene or something. Because I don't want you getting tainted with this, Fraser. You don't need this kind of reputation—"

He stopped, because Fraser had covered his eyes and was shaking his head. A moment later, Fraser quietly started laughing.

Ray opened his mouth, suddenly enraged. "What? What the—"

Fraser inhaled deeply and let his hand fall away from his eyes. "Backwards, Ray. You've got it completely and entirely backward."

Now it was Ray's turn to shake his head. "I don't think so, Fraser."

"Oh, I should think so, Ray." Fraser's eyes were sad, but his mouth was twisted in a wry sort of smile. "You aren't doing my reputation any damage. Quite the reverse, in fact."

God only knew what Fraser thought they were talking about.  "Fraser, you don't know what you're—"

But Fraser had him, then; Fraser had him by the arms and was moving him, pushing him forward steadily until Ray was backed up against the bathroom door. And then Fraser's fingers were skimming his face, and they were surprisingly rough, those fingers—callused and cracked, dry edges rasping against Ray's beard.

Okay, he'd mis-translated something somewhere.

"Ray," Fraser murmured, and then there was hot skin and hot breath and the hot, soft whisper of his name into kisses, "Ray. Ray." And Fraser wasn't having any trouble with those damn buttonflies, which was all the more of a miracle because Fraser was doing it backwards—

(completely and totally backwards)

—and Fraser's callused fingers were touching him and Ray's felt the scratch of rough, red wool wherever Fraser pressed against his skin. Blindly, Ray fumbled to unbuckle Fraser's pants, but his own fingers were clumsy. Fraser was touching him. Ray couldn't breathe, couldn't think. Fraser's cock was hardening, and Ray stopped to fondle him through his pants.

Fraser was now panting open-mouthed against Ray's temple. "This is my fault," he breathed. "I wasn't careful enough. Somebody must have noticed that I—that I want—" Ray fisted Fraser's erection and Fraser's voice faltered, then broke. "—you."

For long seconds there were only gasps and grunts and the frantic sound of skin against skin as they stroked each other, and then Ray, feeling like he'd go half out of his mind in a minute, reached out and tightened his hands on Fraser's hips. Fraser took the cue—shoving him hard against the wall and humping him—and Ray moaned contentedly, lifted his head a little, and kissed him wetly.

The warm-spicy smell of Fraser's come triggered Ray's orgasm, a gut-wrenching thing that left him weak and gasping. Fraser seemed hit equally hard, and sagged forward into Ray's arms. They held onto each other while they got their breath back.

When Fraser lifted his head and drew back, his face was strangely resolute. "They made it sound ugly."

Ray, feeling helpless, could only nod. "Yeah. They do that."

A pained expression flitted across Fraser's face, and he lowered his eyes. It took Ray a second to realize that Fraser was focused on the exposed strip of his abdomen, his softening cock. Heat flared in Ray's stomach. His throat went dry.

Fraser slowly drew a callused thumb just above Ray's pubic hair, making him tremble. "I don't want anybody to hurt you," Fraser said quietly.

Ray sank his fingers deep into Fraser's thick, dark hair and roughly tugged his head close for a kiss—mainly just because he could. Fraser let him, moaning slightly when Ray nipped his bottom lip with his teeth. "Nobody's gonna hurt me, Fraser."

Fraser's finger slid into the belt loop of Ray's jeans and crooked, tightening, jerking Ray forward a little. "I would never have exposed you to the risk."

"I—" Ray trailed off, mesmerized, as Fraser's tongue licked a slow, wet trail across his lip. It took some effort to remember what he was going to say. "Believe me, I got no reputation to lose."

Fraser's eyes flicked up to meet his, and there was life in them now, and mischief, too.  "In that case," Fraser said, "I'm inclined to resist the tide of public opinion, and throw my lot in with you."

Ray tilted his head to the side, translated Fahrenheit into Celsius, and then grinned wolfishly. "Okay, fuck 'em.  Let's give it a shot."  

The End

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