Rating: NC-17
Pairing: Kowalski/Volpe, Fraser/Kowalski
Warning: Volpe is dead. Its canon, so I dont know whether it technically requires a warning. But just in case you forgot.
Thanks: Huge dollops of whooo! yay beta, omg! thanks to sprat and sage
Notes: For mergatrude, and the Broken challenge on ds_flashfiction

Asylum Redux (Whos gonna ride your wild horses)

by china_shop

Ray wore Fraser's shirt home, once the press and the US Marshals dispersed and he was finally allowed to leave the Consulate. Fraser didn't ask for it back and Ray didn't volunteer it, so there it was—Fraser's plaid shirt balled up on the chair in the corner of Ray's room that night, like a presence, keeping him from sleeping.

Maybe it wasn't just the shirt. In all the tumult and craziness of the last 36 hours, Ray hadn't really taken any time to think about Volpe. Bad guy. Bad guy, pretty guy. Died right in front of Ray and Ray still couldn't remember that, but he remembered other things, other meets, Volpe treating him like a cop, and then like a jerk, and then like a friend. Or something. Maybe not a friend. Volpe's big paws patting him down, pretending to check for a wire, hadn't really been friendly.

It was never about the wire. Never. The wire—the hypothetical wire—was just an excuse.

I'm a criminal. What would I be doing wearing a wire? Ray could still hear him. He moved his cheek to a cooler patch on the pillow. Fraser's shirt. Volpe's not-wire. Ray's fucked-up head.

"What would I be doing wearing a wire?" The words were spoken out loud this time. They hung like smoke in the empty air of Ray's bedroom.

Ray sat bolt upright. "Stop that," he said to the room. "I'm not going crazy. Not." He stabbed his fingers into the air. "Going. Crazy. So don't try anything."

"Little too late to try anything," said Volpe, stepping out of the shadows by the closet. "Should have, when I had the chance, though."

Ray stared at him for a second, wide-eyed. He was wearing the same clothes—black leather jacket, black pants. His earring glinted in the moonlight. His white shirt was immaculate and he was moving easily. Didn't look injured. Didn't look dead. Ray's brain clicked into gear, into fear and he scrambled backwards away from him. "Jesus! What the fuck?! You're dead!"

Volpe tilted his head and looked at Ray through his lashes. "You should know."

"I didn't kill you." Ray was practically hugging the headboard. "I was exonerated. That weasel Cahill did it." His gun was in the living room, but he had a hunch if he could get to Fraser's shirt, he'd be safe, as if the shirt had protective qualities woven into the blue and olive plaid. It was on the other side of the room, though. He'd have to get past. Better keep Volpe talking till he could maneuver his way around. "Anyway, you were a crook. You knew the score. This was an occupational hazard."

"Same goes double for you, Vecchio," said Volpe, prowling closer. "Doesn't mean you wouldn't be pissed if someone whacked you."

"Pissed?" Ray ducked away and fell off the far side of the bed with a thump. The cold wooden floor knocked the wind out of him. "I'd be dead," he gasped. "I'd be too busy being dead to be pissed."

"Nah." Volpe shrugged and something moved behind him, a dark glassy sweep like a cloak billowing, faint and textured like feathers, whispering like wings. "It's not as time-consuming as you'd think."

"Uh, what?" Ray had lost track of the conversation, what with it being long past midnight and there being a dead guy in his bedroom talking to him. A dead guy he was pretty sure had wings. Ray's t-shirt was stuck to his clammy sweat-damp skin and oh jesus, Volpe was leaning over the bed toward him, and where his hands were on the covers, he wasn't making any indentations or anything. Like he had no substance, no weight.

"I'm dreaming," said Ray, and the vise around his neck relaxed a little. He rubbed at it, trying to loosen the muscles before he got a headache. "You're just a dream. Get out of here." He started to climb to his feet.

But Volpe smiled darkly, and his wings snapped out with one thunderclap downbeat that made every hair on Ray's body stand up, made his ears ring. The next thing Ray knew, Volpe was standing inches away, angling close, and Ray could smell him—musk and blood and church incense—could almost taste him. Ray fell back to the floor and banged his knee. "Ow!"

Volpe's eyes gleamed in the shadow of his face.

"What are you?" Ray meant to ask it in his tough-guy interrogation voice, but it came out barely a whisper.

"Still figuring that out." Volpe's gaze flicked off to the middle distance for a second. "Doesn't really matter, so long as I can keep one step ahead of Them."

Ray didn't ask. The incense smell was making him woozy. He reached over Volpe's shoulder and smoothed a ruffled iridescent feather into place, half expecting his finger to push right through. It didn't happen like that, though. The wing was staticky under Ray's hand, dry and smooth. Not soft. Not forgiving.

Ray glanced at Volpe's face, his hooded eyes. He didn't look angry.

"You wearing a wire?" Volpe asked, and his voice was low now, like sex and temptation, like all the things Ray knew he shouldn't want.

"Uh." Ray's mouth went dry. "Why would I be wearing a wire to bed?"

Volpe grinned wickedly. "Posterity?" He pulled Ray up off the floor, then put his hand—his dead hand—his warm, slightly rough, dead hand—on Ray's chest, and slid it down to his waist. "So, Vecchio, you swing this way?"

"Uh," said Ray, faintly. Volpe's hand was on his shorts, now, his hip, the top of his thigh, nudging up against—oh, that was, that was—"Sure."

In the back of his mind, a voice was protesting wildly, listing a whole encyclopedia of reasons this was a very, very bad idea—a list that started with Dead Guy and ended with Fraser, and Ray Not Being Queer, and Fraser and, oh, Dead Guy—but jeez, Volpe knew what he was doing, and Ray's resistance in the face of Volpe's full-lipped smirk, and Volpe's large hand, wrapped around Ray's dick now—

Ray had no resistance to that. Nothing in Ray's life had equipped him to say no to gay supernatural sex. And given the way his body was responding, given how good it felt and how long it'd been since Ray last got laid with anyone

"Oh," he said, and now Volpe was jacking him and Ray's clammy fear sweat was mixed on his skin with hot sex sweat, and Ray's pulse was blood red and desperate.

It wasn't like Ray had never wondered about being gay. And it sure as hell wasn't like he'd never flirted. But this was neither of those things. This was sex. Sex, pure and simple, and Ray had never gotten this far with anyone without kissing first. Maybe that was a gay thing. Maybe guys didn't. But Ray did. As far as Ray was concerned, kissing and sex were a one-two punch. And since he was going along with the sex—going, coming, wanting, needing, really getting into the sex, his legs quaking as he tried not to thrust into Volpe's fist—that didn't leave him too many choices.

Volpe twisted his hand, a nasty, dirty, practiced squeeze that drew a moan from deep inside Ray, and colors exploded in Ray's head, and he gave up. He shut his eyes and flung his arm around Volpe's neck, grabbing the tough black leather of his jacket, and planted one on him.

Volpe didn't taste of anything, which was freakish and just enhanced the acid-trip quality of it all. His wings raised up and stiffened against Ray's arm. His cock was pressed against Ray's thigh. But none of that made much impression at all past the technicolor glide of his hand, up and down, hard and fast, driving Ray out of his mind. "Oh, fuck."

Volpe smiled against his lips, and pushed him onto the bed, and Ray wobbled, lust snap-freezing into fear and ohshitwhathadhegottenhimselfinto.

Volpe was strong—superhuman strong—not to mention dead, and Ray didn't like to harp on about things, but the dead thing was a stumbling block he kept falling over. Dead. With wings. And unfastening his pants.

"No," said Ray, holding up his hands. "No, nuh-huh. Stop right there."

Volpe did. He paused with his pants halfway down his thighs, dick sticking straight out, and his wings half-cocked, counterbalancing his body as it leaned forward. He looked at Ray. "What?"

Ray shook his head. "Nothing. Just. Give me a minute."

Volpe pulled his pants back up, tucked his cock away, folded his arms, and waited.

Ray took a deep shaky breath. Okay, so the problem here—the encyclopedia voice started up again, on and on about Fraser, but that wasn't the thing, and Ray concentrated hard and managed to get past that. Fraser wasn't here, wouldn't know. This didn't have a damned thing to do with Fraser. No, the problem was that Ray didn't know who he was trying to be. Vecchio or Kowalski? Cop or regular guy? Regular straight guy or—something else?

Something he'd never dared let himself be, because Stella would've killed him or Sam would've backed away with disgust on his face, or Fraser—god only knew what Fraser would do.

But Volpe was okay with this. Volpe was dead. Volpe wouldn't tell anyone.

"Why are you here?" Ray asked him.

"I want to forget." Volpe came over, came close, leaned in and bit Ray's earlobe, hard, making him jump. "Want to hide." He licked along Ray's jaw. "Want to fuck you, or be fucked by you, or taste you, or—" He pulled back and smiled, his lips shiny with spit, his eyes dark. "You got a sweet ass, Vecchio, and you're a kook. I like that."

"Don't call me that," said Ray. "I'm not—I'm Ray. Just call me Ray, okay?"

A gleam of amusement lit Volpe's gaze. "You want to get personal?"

"Yeah, I just—" Ray let his breath out in a rush. "This is fucked up enough without bringing Vecchio into it." That was dangerously close to stuff Ray wasn't allowed to say, but Volpe wasn't telling anyone. Volpe was. Dead.

"Fucked up," repeated Volpe. He put his hand back over Ray's dick and squeezed. "Just my type."

Ray couldn't tell if that was mockery or sincerity, or some game he didn't know the rules of. He grabbed Volpe's wrist and held it still. "No games," he said firmly. "No games, and we only do stuff we want to do, and we don't tell anyone, and then you go back to—"

"Being dead?" A tremor like fear crossed Volpe's features and was gone.

"I can't help you with that," said Ray, automatically. "It's out of my jurisdiction." As soon as the words were out, he felt like a jerk. This wasn't a parking fine or a misdemeanor. He touched Volpe's cheek. There was a drop of dried blood by his nose. Ray scraped it off with his fingernail. "I'm sorry. Sorry I couldn't save you."

Volpe shrugged it off. "You barely saved your own ass. I saw you lying next to me with a goose egg on your head. I saw that cop shoot at you."

Ray gestured a protest. "I should have—"

"Nothing you could've done," Volpe told him.

"I'm sorry anyway." Ray looked at Volpe and asked again. "So, uh, why are you here? If it's not for revenge."

Volpe sighed impatiently. "Like I said. Comfort. Somewhere to hide. Looking for a shield—"

"I can't give you that." Ray could imagine what Welsh would say if he showed up and confessed he'd given Vecchio's shield to a dead gangster. Maybe not exactly, but his hunch was Welsh wouldn't take it so good.

Volpe shrugged. "Looking to get laid. You up for this or are you going to keep stalling till the sun comes up?" He kissed Ray before he could answer, his tongue slick and cool, pushing into Ray's mouth, and it didn't taste of nothing anymore. Now everything was dark and cloying, like sex and death. Ray hated death, hated it—it creeped him the hell out—but in Volpe's mouth, in his hands, it was turning him on something fierce.

"That smell—that's not drugs, not some kind of aphrodaisical incense, right?" Ray got up and leaned against Volpe as he said it, ground forward, eroding the last of his own qualms.

"You tell me. I don't know any better than you do." Volpe stopped with his mouth on Ray's throat. "You've never done this before."

"What?" The list of things Ray hadn't done was endless—gangster, dead guy, guy with wings, guy. He stepped back and poked Volpe in the chest. "Listen, I'll try anything. Uh, anything that doesn't hurt or kill me, anyway."

"Good," said Volpe, "'cause this might be my last chance. I need this."

"Okay," said Ray. He hadn't been able to stop Cahill, but he could give Volpe this. They looked at each other.

Volpe put his hands on the button of his pants. "Are you done talking yet?"

"Fuck you," said Ray, too aware that his motives were murky, that he was taking advantage of a dead guy. Or maybe the dead guy was taking advantage of him. His head swirled.

"Sounds good to me," said Volpe, clarifying matters with four simple words. He took his pants off. He wasn't fully hard anymore—still long, but hanging heavy instead of sticking out—and Ray got distracted by that and missed seeing how he got his shirt off, over or around his wings.

And then Andreas Volpe—dead guy, bad guy, dead bad hot guy—solid and tough-looking, with his warm brown skin and his broad shoulders. Volpe. Volpe was naked in Ray's bedroom in the middle of the night, asking to be fucked, and Ray switched gears again—almost gave himself whiplash—and suddenly really wanted to oblige.

He peeled off his sweat-damp shirt and shorts, trying not to feel self-conscious. He was a cop, he was divorced, he was thirty-six and his partner was a Mountie. He had more than his share of scars.

Volpe didn't seem to care. He lunged for Ray, tumbling him onto the bed and rolling so Ray was on top. Volpe's wings shimmered and shifted, first squashed flat and then sinking into the mattress like fingers dipping into water. When he moved, the sheets and covers rippled. But his body was hard and hot. Ray pushed him down and the mattress tilted beneath them—not as much as it should have with two guys, but near enough.

Anyway, Ray had Volpe under him now, groping and stroking him, and he stopped caring about anything else, caught up in the familiar internal rhythm of fuck fuck fuck.

Volpe parted Ray's ass cheeks and ran an insolent finger down the crease, and Ray jumped and squirmed. "Not that. We're not doing that."

"Just checking," said Volpe in a smoky voice, and smiled up at him, half-mocking. "Okay. You do me, then."

Ray didn't bother to answer, just knelt up and reached between them. Volpe widened his legs and Ray touched him—his cock, now hard again, his balls, and behind them, further back. "I don't have any lube," he said, only now thinking of practicalities.

"Don't care." Volpe yanked him into his arms, their chests thudding together. "I'm fucking dead. Just fuck me."

So Ray pushed in, wincing in anticipation, but somehow—maybe all the sweat from the two of them, or maybe something supernatural and magical—or maybe Ray didn't know squat about it and not all guys needed lube—whatever it was, he just slid in, smooth and tight, but not painful, not rough or forcing anything.

Volpe's wings beat inside the mattress, their edges slipping above the covers, the sheets twisting unnaturally from the movement. And Ray started fucking him. Jesus, it was good—hot and tight. Ray hadn't fucked anyone since the last time Stella let him in, but even off-balance, with wings and a smooth sweaty chest that should have a gaping wound in it and didn't—even in spite of everything, his body knew this dance, and Volpe was pressing up, flushed and eager, really getting into it. Ray's background fog of loneliness—always there—rolled back leaving Ray and Volpe, interlocked and panting, driving against each other in the near dark.

Volpe was almost folded in two and was rocking onto Ray's dick, and Ray had sweat trickling down his spine and a ten-ton orgasm bearing down on him, towering and relentless, gaining momentum with every second.

Volpe grabbed his own cock and started beating off raggedly, and Ray could almost feel that in his dick, too. "Je—" he started to gasp, but Volpe clamped his hand over Ray's mouth.

"Don't." His eyes were dark, suddenly serious.

Ray grabbed his wrist, not to push him away—just because—and there was no pulse there, not the faintest flutter. And then Ray came, long shuddering twists of pleasure and fear spiking through him, Volpe's hand still tight across his mouth.

Volpe's mouth fell open. "Yeah," he said. "Yeah, just—fuck." He tensed beneath Ray and groaned as he came, and his wings beat hard, rocking the whole bed. "Fuck."

"You didn't—" Ray pulled out carefully and gestured at Volpe's dry stomach. "Uh, you—"

"I did," Volpe told him, or maybe it was I'm dead. He dragged Ray down and kissed him before Ray could check, rolled on top of him, his wings filling the air like bruise-purple storm clouds.

Ray was lax and sex-stupid like he always got afterwards. He kissed back blindly, barely aware of who or where or what had just happened. His body was buzzing and warm, and okay, he had a dead guy's tongue in his mouth, but the dead guy was a good kisser, he was hot, and Ray was fucked-out and alive, and happy on both those counts.

They kissed for a long time, maybe hours. Ray got beard burn, and started to get turned on again, started thinking about maybe a round two, but just as he was about to say something or make a definitive move, Volpe reared up like a hawk or an angel, and stared out the window.

The sky was getting pale, tinged with silver. An airplane was coming in to land at O'Hare.

"I have to go." His voice sent shivers down Ray's spine.

Ray swallowed protests. This was over his head. "Okay."

By the time he said it, Volpe was already across the room, shrugging into his white shirt. He pulled on his pants and shoes and then stopped in the corner and picked up a bundle of plaid. "I need this."

"What?" Ray sat up, leaned forward to see in the dim light. It was Fraser's shirt. "Why?"

Volpe pulled it on over his other shirt, daring him to object. His wings sliding though, and the plaid flannel settling on his shoulders. "I told you—I need a shield."

"Oh." Ray frowned, trying to turn that into something that made sense, but all he got back from his brain was a slurred kind of sex-buzz. "Okay." Volpe was a gangster, a crook. Petty shirt larceny was barely a blip on the radar.

"Thanks," said Volpe, and was gone. Just like that. No kiss goodbye. No word goodbye even. Just poof! Vanished.

Ray lay back and blinked at the slowly lightening ceiling for a few minutes, and then sank into a deep dreamless sleep.

* * *

When he woke, the lingering scent of incense sent him stumbling to the shower—numb and jumble-brained. Volpe had put his dead hands on him and the memory turned rancid, making Ray feel ill. He reached for the soap and started washing, head to toe, behind his ears, everything.

It was nuts. It had to have been a dream, a weird mindfuck of a hallucination. What wasn't a hallucination, though—a new certainty that was both mundane and terrifying—was that Ray was gay. He'd liked it. He really was queer.



"What's this?" Fraser picked up the package Ray threw into his lap, and examined it.

"It's a shirt," Ray told him. He pulled away from the curb and negotiated his way past the road crew on the corner. "Don't get excited. I had yours and I lost it. This is just a replacement."

"I see." Ray could feel Fraser's gaze on him, but he kept his sunglasses on and refused to look over. "That's very thoughtful of you."

"No, it's not." Ray frowned at the road ahead. "It's just a—what's that thing, that French thing?"

"The Bastille?" Fraser sounded politely baffled. "The Eiffel Tower?"

"No, the other thing. Noble something." Ray waved his hand in the air. "You know. You lend me a shirt, I'm gonna give you back a shirt. It's no big deal."

Fraser nodded and turned the package over in his lap. "Well, thanks anyway, Ray. I appreciate it."


Epilogue 2

"You believe in ghosts, Fraser?" The moon was rising over the lake, and Dief was sniffing avidly around the trashcan further along the path, apparently having discovered some important wolf tabloid news story.

"I—" Fraser glanced at him. "There's a wealth of evidence that suggests that paranormal phenomena have a basis in—"

"Not evidence," Ray interrupted, sharply. "Belief. Do you?"

Fraser didn't answer. That was a paranormal phenomena right there, Fraser not talking.

Ray kicked at a pebble, sending it skating along the path in front of them. It hit a crack and bounced into the trees. "You ever seen one?" asked Ray, casually. "A ghost, I mean."

Fraser let out a deep breath that sounded like years of stored-up secrets. "Yeah."

Ray glanced at him, startled. Fraser too, huh? Maybe the Volpe thing hadn't been a freakish hallucination after all. "Did it have wings?"

A couple of joggers passed by, their reflector bands glowing in the streetlight. Fraser watched them, probably memorizing all their identifying features or something, in case of emergency.

"What?" he said. "Ah, no. No wings."

"Oh." Ray stopped at a park bench and sat down. He stretched his legs out in front of him and crossed them at the ankle, and waited until Fraser sat down beside him. "Mine—the one I saw. It had wings."

Fraser nodded convulsively, then stopped and licked the corner of his lip. "Mine is—well, it's my father, actually."


Epilogue 3

"God, yeah, oh—" Ray would never have guessed that a conversation about ghosts would lead to a conversation about them, nor that that conversation would lead to this, but hey, he wasn't complaining. At least they'd made it back to the car before Fraser had turned into the octopus guy, hands all over the place—all over Ray—and that hungry look in his eye like he needed this.

"It's okay," said Ray, against his mouth, Fraser's mouth, sweet and fresh and hot. "It's okay. Jesus!"

And how screwy was it that Fraser's experience with guys was limited to making out with a disgraced hockey star, and Ray's consisted, up to this point, of fucking a dead gangster? Not that he'd gone into that much detail telling Fraser, because there were some things Mr. Pure and Proper didn't need to know, even if Ray was rapidly finding out that Fraser was neither pure nor proper, given the right motivations. "Just—just stop," he gasped, and dragged Fraser's hand out of his lap. "Public place, Fraser. Public. Remember? No lascivious acts."

"Mmmm," said Fraser against Ray's throat, his voice deep and turned on as if Ray was talking dirty.

Ray tried to get his breathing—hell, all of his anatomy—under control. "Got to take this home. Got to—" He shoved Fraser over to his side and started the car, then stopped it again. "Shit. Where's Dief?"

Fraser reached over and smoothed down Ray's hair, and his fingers set Ray's skin humming with want and now and fuck it, it's dark here, let's just—

Of course, by the time he gave in, Fraser had got his marbles all lined up and insisted they track down Dief and then beat a strategic retreat to Ray's apartment. Dammit.


Epilogue 4

"Today, Fraser." Ray kicked the apartment door shut behind him and dumped both bags of groceries on the kitchen counter just as one of them split. Tomatoes and packages of dried peas and milk powder, and all the other weird shit Fraser had written on the shopping list in his neat Mountie handwriting avalanched out, mingling with the normal kitchen clutter Ray had acquired over the years.

Fraser was wearing the shirt Ray had bought him. He looked up from the kitchen table where he was cleaning and re-assembling his watch and raised his eyebrows. "Today?"

Ray sifted through the spilled groceries and found the package of condoms and the bottle of lube he'd bought especially. He held them up. "Today."

It had been three weeks and they still hadn't, which was no mean feat given how much time they spent naked together, but it turned out Fraser was born for blowjobs—both giving and getting—and Ray—

Well, Ray had been shying away from it, scared it'd get tangled up in his head with that weird dream-thing he'd had the night after the Cahill case. But it was time. He needed to lay that ghost to rest, and lay his boyfriend. It was time.

Fraser came over and backed him against the counter, bending Ray back so he knocked half the groceries onto the floor. "All right."

His lips grazed Ray's cheek, then found his mouth, and they kissed, full luxurious kisses that heated up fast. Ray tilted his hips forward, rubbing against Fraser, and groped his ass, and Fraser grunted and his breathing sped up. His hands were in Ray's hair, on his neck, angling his head so he could deepen the kiss.

Ray kicked Fraser's legs apart like he was going to pat him down, and yanked him forward, hard up against him. "Oh fuck, yeah," he breathed. "Do me. Fuck me. Come on."

Fraser pulled back and met his gaze, so much love written in his face that Ray had to touch his cheek, had to stop and say thank you to the universe—God, whatever—for this, for having this.

"No, I—" said Fraser. "Me. I want you to. Please."

Ray felt his jaw drop, and wiped the corner of his mouth where he was maybe drooling a little. "Uh. Okay. Okay, if that's what you—"

Fraser nodded fervently, his eyes already closing in anticipation, and he leaned in to kiss Ray again.

Me next time, thought Ray, but he couldn't say it out loud right then, because Fraser's tongue was in his mouth, eager and hungry.

* * *

Fraser was spread out beneath him, his shirt unbuttoned and his undershirt pushed up—and this was nothing like that time with Volpe, that time that was maybe a dream and maybe wasn't, but either way was impossible.

It didn't matter. There were a thousand ways this was nothing like that, Fraser being the most important one. Fraser taking deep breaths, his chest rising and falling evenly as he forced himself relaxed and pliant. And fuck, that was hot, how he could do that. All the starch just melted away leaving Fraser, Ray's Fraser, the guy no one else got to see. Sexy and funny and one hundred percent human.

Ray pushed in further, another finger, stretching him, and Fraser moaned softly. "Please, Ray. Please, just—"

Fraser's cock was hard and his ass was slick, and there was nothing to stop Ray, nothing. He pulled his fingers out and put on a condom, trying not to think why condoms seemed so necessary for two guys whose sexual histories could be summarized on one postage stamp between them. He wanted to spill the beans, then and there—but this wasn't the moment. This was one in a long endless stretch of not-moments. Ray put that aside, and leaned over and kissed Fraser. "Love you."

Fraser blinked up at him, hazily, smiled and pulled him forward. "Do it."

Ray smiled back. "Yeah." He guided his cock to Fraser's ass and started to press in. As soon as he didn't need his hand there anymore, he brushed aside the unbuttoned sides of Fraser's shirt and pressed his hand to Fraser's chest over his heart, feeling every beat, every beat, as Fraser let him in.

* * *

"Hey." Ray lay wrapped around Fraser, both of them naked. The sex had been good, it had been great, but now Ray was tense instead of satisfied. The Volpe secret itched at him like a mosquito bite. "Something I have to tell you."

"Mmm?" Fraser sounded lazy and happy, and Ray was going to ruin that, ruin everything, but he had to. Had to be upfront about this. He couldn't spend his whole life waiting for the shoe to drop, wondering if Fraser would still be with him if he knew.

Fraser started to turn to face him, but Ray held tighter, pressed his forehead to Fraser's shoulder and told him the bare bones truth about Volpe.

"You gave my shirt to Andreas Volpe?" said Fraser, when he'd finished.

Ray took a deep breath and wished he'd left that part out. "Yeah."

Fraser didn't say anything else for a long minute, and Ray hung onto him. No way he was letting go without a fight, not now he'd got Fraser here—in his arms, in his bed, in his heart.

"Don't—" Ray started, and swallowed. Shouldn't have told—stupid, stupid, stupid. Should have learned to keep his big dumb mouth shut by now. He was an undercover cop who couldn't keep a secret when it counted.

Fraser peeled Ray's arms away and twisted to face him, a serious look in his eye that made Ray panic.


"Yeah." He forced a reply. Forced himself to meet Fraser's gaze.

"Do you regret it?" He sounded more curious than anything, and that didn't make sense but Ray thought hard about the question. Regret. Where he'd be now if he hadn't done Volpe.

"No," he said at last, sticking his chin out. He was pretty sure that wasn't what Fraser wanted to hear, but he was done with keeping secrets. He hooked his foot around Fraser's leg to keep him close. "No, 'cause if I hadn't done that, I wouldn't be here with you. I had to—had to try it with a guy, had to find out. Thought I could, didn't know for sure. And you—" He cupped Fraser's cheek and willed him to understand, willed the words to come out right. "I couldn't experiment with you, Fraser. Trial run and then maybe change my mind? Couldn't do that. Couldn't risk it. You deserve better than that."

Fraser's mouth twisted wryly, but he threaded his fingers into Ray's hair and made a fist. Held Ray down and kissed him hard. "We're here now."

"So—we're okay?" Ray's heart thudded. Fraser wasn't leaving, wasn't pulling away in disgust or vanishing, poof!

"Much more than okay." Fraser ran his hand down Ray's side and tugged him closer. "We're—" He shook his head and kissed Ray again, licking into Ray's mouth. Kisses instead of words, maybe. Or maybe not, because then Fraser pulled back and looked at him, intensely.

"You're stuck with me, I'm afraid," said Fraser, "whatever routes we had to take to get here."

And Ray broke open with relief, nothing left to hide, and said, "Yeah, Fraser. This is—this is everything." He smiled and met Fraser's gaze. "You're stuck with me, too."

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