PART THREE

Shit.

Well, that fucked things up, Ray thought, tossing and turning in bed after the crew dropped him off.

Flying off the handle… what the fuck was all that about? About Fraser, about the Ice Queen, about a stupid kiss… four years ago.

Ray could practically hear Dewey mocking him for being such a total fucking pussy.

And he could hear the spray of gravel, the sudden silence as he'd killed the engine, feeling the tacky pull of the steering wheel in his hands.

“This is what it’s about,” he'd said, leaning forward to kiss Fraser. He'd kissed Fraser! Shit!

But since the detachment, all he’d been able to think about were the Ice Queen’s refined, glossy lips. And Fraser kissing them. And he’d wanted to get that image out of him, to kill it dead, erase it, just—

That was all, that was all, he didn’t want anything to change. Or he hadn’t wanted that and now it all had changed—

Ray had gripped Fraser’s shoulder and pushed him backwards, driving forward into his space, ambushing him, and it wasn’t even really a kiss, it was more like the punch by the lake, revenge for the pounding thought of Fraser doing this with Thatcher, but more and sexier and all soft-focus…

And then Ray'd felt Fraser brace himself, heard the creak of Fraser’s hand gripping the leather seat, and an answering force pushed forward into his space.

It had brought him to his senses.

“Ray,” Fraser had said intensely, and Ray had—

He heard a slam outside and tensed, realising Fraser was home. His ears and the back of his neck felt hot, all of a sudden. Shit shit shit.

He heard footsteps crunching across the snow, a key in the lock, and then Fraser stepped into the hallway. Ray heard Dief’s nails clatter on the wooden floor and Fraser's footsteps moving straight down the corridor, towards Ray's room, stopping outside Ray's door.

tap tap tap

Fraser knocked tentatively. Ray didn’t answer.

tap tap tap

“Ray?” Fraser said quietly.

“I’m asleep, Fraser,” Ray said eventually.

There was a long pause. Neither of them moved.

“Understood,” Fraser said finally, and Ray could hear him moving across the hall, into his own room.

Then Ray heard the door close.

Shit. 

*** 

Denial ain’t just a river in Tuktoyaktuk, Ray thought, standing in front of the mirror smoothing his hair forward.

He’d woken at seven with his stomach in knots and a certainty ringing in his head: today was going to be hell. For today was Interview Day. The camera, the questions, Fraser... a vivid picture flashed into his head – Fraser’s face, out of focus in the darkness, too close, breath shifting momentarily over Ray’s cheekbone. He rubbed his brow furiously, desperately trying to scrub out the image, feeling his stomach clench even further.

Okay, he thought, leaning forward with both hands on the sink, staring into his reflection. You can do this. Denial. That’s the way to go. Denial is great. Denial is greatness. He breathed deeply for a moment, then stood up, straightened his shoulders, and furiously spiked up his hair.

***

By the time they were finally ready for the interview the sun had started to set. Their living room had been turned into a movie-set and the crew had already broken one lamp, spilled a cup of coffee and eaten every cookie in the house.

They’d also somehow managed to offend Diefenbaker, who had growled and barked ferociously at Pete the soundman until a deeply apologetic Fraser had been forced to put him outside with the rest of the sled dogs.

“Ok, Ray? Fraser? If you want to come over here and sit yourselves down,” Carla directed them to their seats as all around them people hefted lights into position, unfurled big reflecting screens and unravelled what seemed like hundreds of miles of cable. “We’ll finally be ready in about ten minutes. Pete will come over and mic you up, check the sound, generally make sure we’re good to go, and then Susan will start with the firing squad.” She grinned. “I mean interview, of course.” 

Ray sat awkwardly next to Fraser, extremely aware of the inch or so separating them. His only consolation was that Fraser looked just as uncomfortable, sitting rigidly, staring straight ahead. Of course, he could just be playing Mr. Good Mountie again. 

Fraser’s head twitched towards him slightly, then turned properly. Ray instantly looked away, out the window. He could see Carla walking from the people carrier, carting a huge canvas bag over one shoulder. 

“Ray,” Fraser said softly. 

“Don’t, Fraser,” Ray said instantly. He didn’t want to have this conversation. Especially not in the same room as two cameras, three spotlights and five total strangers.  

Fraser turned his torso towards Ray, his movements precise and well executed. He looked intently at Ray. “Really, Ray. We need to — there has to be— I think—” 

“Frase, not now, okay. Later or something. Just… not now.” He looked up for a second and met Fraser’s eyes, before looking away again. “Please.” 

“Very well,” said Fraser with a solemn nod. He took a deep breath and seemed to pull himself together. “The results of the fingerprint test on the gun we found in Shingal’s cave are due to come back today,” he said steadily. “Today, or possibly tomorrow.”  

“Great,” said Ray, wincing as the big camera emitted a steady high-pitched tone. “So then you’ll know. About that.” 

“Yes,” said Fraser, arranging the potted plant on the coffee table more neatly. “And an officer from the nearest post to Carcross is sending across some footage they have of Donen in the local store – luckily they’d recently installed a security camera on the premises.” 

“I guess they get a lot of shoplifting beavers around there,” Ray muttered. 

“Indeed,” Fraser said. At the same time, Pete walked towards them, unwrapping the long microphone wires carefully. 

“Ready, guys?” he asked, beaming merrily. 

*** 

They started with the easy questions. Ray could’ve kicked himself for not expecting it – he’d been a detective for thirteen years, didn’t he remember anything? – but he’d gotten into the swing of the easy questions and then Susan had sucker-punched him with a real toughie. Or effectively kicked him in the head. 

“Were you never uncomfortable living in such close proximity?" 

Ray looked carefully at the carpet, hoping Fraser would field this one. 

“Well,” Fraser said. A good start, but then he coughed slightly. “Ray and I have always been very good friends. Comfortable with each other. It wasn’t really an issue.” 

“Well, you guys live together now. Weren’t you ready for a break after – what was it, six months? – in each other’s company?” 

Ray couldn’t resist looking at Fraser for this one. He wanted to hear the answer. “Living together… it just seemed natural.” Fraser said eventually. “Organic. We lived apart, then we lived together. It didn’t seem that different.” He looked helplessly directly at the camera, and Ray glanced over as well, seeing his and Fraser’s reflection, small and upside down. It was how he felt. “I can’t describe it,” he eventually said, quietly. 

Susan scribbled briefly on her notes, and then said mildly, “So, do you two date?” 

What?” Ray growled, “No!” 

“Not at all?” Susan seemed shocked. “There aren’t any local girls you’ve been seeing?” 

“Oh,” said Ray, shifting slightly, “No, not really. I mean the population’s quite small and there aren’t that many women that aren’t already married...” he trailed off. 

“Don’t you miss it?” Susan asked gently. “You used to be married, didn’t you?” 

“Well, yeah sure, you miss someone to be with—” Ray felt Fraser stiffen next to him. “But, uh, Fraser and I—” He had no idea how to finish that, so just fell silent.  

No one broke it. In fact, Ray was pretty sure this was the longest silence he’d ever, uh, heard. 

***

Two hours later, Ray paced around the kitchen opening cupboards at random.  

“I really think we should talk, Ray.” Fraser persisted, following him from cupboard to cupboard. 

“I really think there’s nothing to talk about,” Ray said, pulling out a giant bag of potato chips and tucking it under his arm. 

“I don’t know how you can say that after last night.” 

Ray knelt in front of the refrigerator and began pulling out vegetables, Fraser kneeling beside him and aggravatingly picking them up after him and placing them carefully on the table. One potato escaped and rolled away under the stove. 

“Nothing happened, Frase,” Ray said from inside the refrigerator. “It was just a fight. I apologise – I was, whatever, insensitive. I’m sorry.” He finally got to the six-pack hidden at the back and pulled it out determinedly, standing up.  

Fraser stood up as well and crossed his arms. “That’s not what I’m referring to, Ray, as you know full well.” 

Ray moved to the drawers and started noisily rifling through cutlery, Fraser still on his heels. “Whatever, Frase. I’m tired, ok? I’m taking my beer and I’m taking my chips and I’m going to bed.” He waved the chips in front of him aggressively. 

“It’s seven-thirty, Ray.” 

Ray started emptying the contents of the drawer onto the counter. “Yeah well, I didn’t sleep— I mean, I’m tired, is that ok with you? And where the hell is the bottle opener?” 

“You said we could talk.” 

Ray slammed the drawer shut. “What do you think we’re doing here, Fraser, cooking eggs?” He spotted the bottle opener by the knife-block and snatched it up. 

Ray made it to the hallway before Fraser gripped his elbow and pulled him to a halt. He stepped in close and paused. “Ray,” he said, “You… kissed me.” 

Ray shifted his feet and looked away. “I— It wasn’t—” Ray felt the bottle opener digging into his hand, clutching it too tightly. “Look, Fraser, we should just forget about last night. It was, I don’t know what it was. But it wasn’t us. We need to just… draw a line under it or something.” 

The hand gripping his elbow twitched. “I don’t know if I can do that, Ray.” 

Ray gathered his courage and met Fraser’s eyes. “Well, you gotta, Frase.”

Ray pulled firmly away and walked to his room, closing the door behind him. He thought he heard Fraser sigh.  

***

It was two-thirty in the morning, and Ray was still awake. He’d wanted to drink himself into oblivion, but he’d stopped after the first beer did nothing but give him a splitting headache. He’d then tried counting sheep. Then caribou. And when that hadn’t worked, he’d resorted to actually thinking about the goddamn problem. 

Every time he thought of the kiss, everything inside him clenched. He went over and over every second of it -- the brief press of lips, the slight softening of Fraser’s mouth, the push back into it. He swung between thinking Fraser wanted it, Fraser wanted him, and knowing that was stupid, Fraser didn’t swing that way, Fraser was straight as an arrow, Fraser blushed when Molly came on to him. Fraser didn’t want him.  

And after a while he realised that there was only one thing that started to unravel the knot in his stomach. Leaving. Getting out. So long, Dawson, I’m outta here – Chicago, here I come. Say ‘welcome home’ to one Stanley Raymond Kowalski.

Face it, he thought, you can’t cope with this. With the consequences of… what had happened. Can’t face Fraser saying ‘no’, and can’t imagine him ever saying ‘yes’.

So he should just go, Ray decided. Leave. Pack up – he could start right now; he certainly wasn’t sleeping – say goodbye to Frase in the morning, catch the first bus out of this one-horse town. 

He rolled over onto his side and looked into the darkness beside his bed. Ok, that’s a plan, he thought. A definite, no-going-back plan. So, time to pack, then.  

Standing up, he looked around the room, trying to decide where to start. 

*** 

“Fraser.”

Ok, so he’d decided to start in Fraser’s room. 

“Fraser!” 

Fraser’s eyes opened blearily and he lifted his head, blinking. “Ray?” He leant up on his elbow, reaching for the bedside lamp. “Is everything okay?” 

Ray stopped him from turning on the light by sitting down abruptly on the edge of the bed, the force of his movements causing its frame to shake. Fraser clutched at the mattress and sat up slightly.  

Ray ran his fingers through his hair fleetingly. “I should go,” he said quietly. 

There was a pause. “Well, you do have your own room, Ray.”  

“Yeah,” Ray said slowly. He reached up and pulled his t-shirt over his head.  

Fraser’s frowned slightly and sat up properly, the quilt falling to his waist. “Ray—” he sounded more awake suddenly. 

Ray dropped his t-shirt onto the floor and shifted closer to Fraser, reaching out for the small buttons of Fraser’s long johns. He felt calm, completely and utterly serene.  

Carefully he unbuttoned the top button, pulling it free from the soft fabric and tucking his fingers inside, where it was hot. His hands slid down to the next button on their own, then the next, and the one after that.  

Ray marvelled at how this actually felt. To actually be doing this. To have Fraser looking at him guardedly, hair rumpled with sleep, arms by his side, the feel of his skin, the sleepy warm smell of Fraser, just like they’d been on the adventure— 

“Ray, I really think you should—” Ray leant forward and pressed his lips to Fraser’s. Soft, was his first thought. Something he hadn’t been able to savour in the car, soft and waxy-tasting, like balm. Fraser didn’t react, and at first Ray thought that was good; he wasn’t saying no. And then he realised that Fraser wasn’t reacting at all. Was completely, blankly passive. 

He felt his throat tighten, and not wanting to give into the reality of Fraser not wanting him, he kissed Fraser again, putting everything he had into it, teasing with the tip of his tongue until, at last, Fraser’s mouth opened slightly.  

He licked his way inside, breathing heavily, palms on Fraser’s cheeks feeling warm as his skin began to flush. Ray pulled at the shoulders of Fraser’s long johns, pulling them down over his body, kissing him deeply, intensely. Fraser’s breathing was starting to shorten, Ray was sure he could feel Fraser fighting his response. Years of teasing Stella into responding had taught him that. But he was still taking what Ray had to give and giving nothing in return.  

Ray kissed and licked his way across Fraser’s cheek, jaw, neck, shoulder, collarbone, nibbling, teasing, rubbing his stubble against the soft skin of Fraser’s throat. C’mon c’mon c’mon, he thought angrily, just give it up. In his peripheral vision he saw Fraser’s hands clench on the sheets and felt a spark of triumph.

“Ray, really,” Fraser’s voice was strained, “You should— I think that you might be the worse for the alcohol you’ve imbi—” 

Ray ignored him and bit at Fraser’s lower lip gently – something he’d been wanting to do for months now – and Fraser kept talking, or trying to talk until Ray’s tongue pushed back into his mouth, hands sliding down Fraser’s ribs.  

Fraser shivered, and goosebumps spread on his skin, and Ray was aware of his hands lifting and then stopping in mid-air, as if there was a gun levelled at him - put your hands in the air, Ray thought, irrationally reminded of all the times he’d said those words. He pulled back and stood up, standing beside the bed to quickly pull off his joggers. 

“They say that it lowers your inhibitions…” Fraser was saying roughly as Ray pulled back the covers and resolutely tugged Fraser’s long johns down over his hips. “I think that perhaps…” Ray lay beside him and pulled the sheets over them both, then gripped Fraser’s shoulder and pulled Fraser’s body over him, hand pulling Fraser’s still-talking mouth towards his. 

“And it can severely affect your judgement—” They kissed again, and this time – yes! – Fraser took control with a groan, kissing him messily, deeply, tongue pushing into Ray, at the same time as Fraser pushed his body down into him. 

Fraser lifted his head, panting. “Although, of course, it would be difficult to prove that alcohol could affect your judgement to that extent—” Ray made a vague sound of agreement, and gently bit his earlobe and ran his tongue around the shell of his ear. Fraser twisted into him in response, his voice trailing off, and they both shivered as their erections brushed. 

“And, of course, one must look at— extenuating— circum… circumstances…” Fraser suddenly buried his face in the crook of Ray’s neck and held onto the headboard with one hand, pushing Ray’s hips down with the other as he thrust against him. Ray’s head fell backwards and he moaned, pushing up into Fraser’s thrusts. 

Ray’s hands skimmed down Fraser’s back, using his nails, and Fraser writhed, any rhythm he’d created stuttering. Ray could feel the heat trapped between them, could feel his skin starting to sheen with sweat, could feel Fraser’s thigh pushing between his own, thrusts pushing them up the bed until Ray could feel the headboard brushing against his hair. His cock was leaking onto his belly, slicking their way, and Ray closed his eyes.  

Fraser distractedly mouthed Ray’s neck, hot breath fanning Ray’s skin as his thrusts gained pace and the bed creaked and groaned.  

“R—Ray,” he gasped, lifting his head and kissing him deeply, burying his hand in Ray’s hair.  

Fraser, Ray wanted to say, but his voice had gone, and then he felt Fraser groan over him, around the tongue deep in his mouth. The rhythm faltered and Fraser came, and Ray couldn’t control himself any longer, couldn’t hold anything in, and he came with a cry, hands clutching Fraser’s back and sides, hips lifting off the bed. 

Ray panted, coming down, and wrapped his arms around Fraser, feeling a rush of tenderness as Fraser’s soft hair brushed against Ray’s chin. 

Ray stroked Fraser’s back, smoothing through the sweat and feeling Fraser’s breath start to lengthen, deepen. Eventually, Fraser pulled himself up and rolled to the side, Ray’s eyes following him warily.  

Fraser’s cheeks were a deep pink, and he looked down the length of their bodies rather than into Ray’s eyes. Ray shivered, feeling cold; he suddenly couldn’t stand the thought of post-coital discussions. He ran his hand through his hair, wiping the sweat away from his forehead and in his peripheral vision watched Fraser settle on his side. 

Ray rolled over and they lay on their sides facing each other. Fraser’s hand settled almost tentatively onto Ray’s hip, and Ray closed his eyes in exhaustion. He waited for Fraser’s thoughts on the subject, but it seemed that Fraser finally didn’t want to talk.  

So Ray closed his eyes, feeling the warmth of Fraser’s hands, Fraser’s taste in his mouth. If this was all going to blow up tomorrow, he thought, he might as well enjoy it now.

 

Part Four