Rating: PG
Pairing: Fraser/Vecchio
Thanks: Huge leafy bunches of gratitude to aerye for outstanding beta and Vecchio-coaching; thanks and hugs and llamas and cruiseliner!fic to mergatrude for beta and listening to me initially enthuse and, later, wail and tear my hair out; thanks and sparkles and hugs to sprat for beta and reassurance.

Conviction

by china_shop


Ray was married to Ange for nearly five years before they got tired of trying to make it work, divvied up the record collection and the wedding gifts, and Ray moved back home, older, tired and divorced. After the initial shock of failure and dealing with telling his family, and then dealing with Ma telling the priest and the old ladies at church, Ray decided he was mostly okay with how things had turned out: his career was moving along, now that he'd finally got out of Vice, and at least he and Ange weren't sniping at each other through their lawyers, like Ray's cousin Raoul and his ex Magda. Plus, Chicago was a big city full of beautiful women: there was bound to be someone else, some day.

Chicago had some beautiful men, too, which Ray tried not to notice and, when he couldn't help it, tried to tell himself it was just an aesthetic appreciation, like looking at art books. Noticing guys was a problem he'd had since he was a kid, but he knew to keep it hidden. And if, sometimes when he was jerking off, his mind should happen to settle on the new guy behind the cheese counter at the corner grocers, or on the way Joey Russo's eyes glinted when Ray went in for a haircut, that didn't mean nothing, and Ray made sure he was always thinking about girls when he came. No way was he anything but straight-up normal.

Then the Mountie burst onto the scene in a flurry of explosions and hired killers and deaf half-wolves, and within days Ray had gotten blown up and tossed out a third-floor window, and ended up in the hospital—which was as good a metaphor as any for how Fraser turned Ray's life upside-down. Ray followed him to the ends of the earth without a moment's hesitation—without even an invitation—and it wasn't until he was on the plane, on his way home, a No Smoking sign glowing above his head, and the pilot yapping away about altitude and wind velocity over the intercom, that Ray was forced to admit to himself that not only did he have a type that included guys but, even worse, he had the same taste in guys as his little sister Frannie.

So, back in the real world, with Fraser in the mix on a daily basis now, distracting Ray from his official caseload with weird imaginary crimes like Schnauzer abductions and disappearing bag ladies, and with Frannie wearing skirts that got shorter and shorter, and makeup like a two-dollar hooker, it all added up to this: not only were Ray and Frannie still jostling for attention like when they were teenagers, they were this close to fighting over Fraser.

The big question, of course, was—well, there were two big questions. First, did Fraser go for Vecchios? All Ray knew about Fraser's type was that he didn't seem to have one. And if he spent all his free time with Ray, and came around for dinner two or three nights a week, and seemed happy with that state of affairs, well, that was good, but it didn't prove anything.

The second thing was, if Fraser went for Vecchios, would he pick the girl Vecchio or the boy Vecchio? Given Fraser's habit of keeping at least twelve inches and a lot of starched red serge between him and Frannie, given that he was always scrupulously polite to her and never made fun of her in that deadpan pretending-to-be-naïve way he had, some days Ray could convince himself he knew the answer to this one. Other times, he thought maybe being standoffish was Fraser's way of flirting or being chivalrous, or maybe he was just shy.

It killed Ray not to know. He kept an eye on the situation, and flip-flopped like a dying fish. One day he'd decide that Fraser and Frannie were a match made in hell, no way would Fraser fall for her innocence act and her big girly eyes. And then the next day, Ray'd be snapping at everyone who crossed his path to hide the fact that he wanted to shove himself in between the two of them and yell at Frannie to back the hell away from his Mountie. It was confusing and it gave him a headache, but he got on with life as best he could, and did pretty much everything Fraser asked him to, sacrificing dozens of suits and shirts and pairs of shoes—not to mention his dignity a hundred times over—at the altar of Canadian Justice.

He tried not to worry about it too much. He was of two minds about whether he wanted anything to happen anyway, because jeez, that wasn't real life. Being with a guy, being with Fraser—kissing Fraser, touching him, running a finger along his smooth jaw and curling his hand around the back of Fraser's neck where his skin would be hot and a little sweaty—that was a fantasy thing. A dream thing. Like with Joey Russo. That wasn't something you actually did.


"Ray, the driver never got back in." Fraser's voice was smudged with static by the walkie-talkie.

Ray reached out his hand, and felt water trickling in. "I think they're getting the car washed again," he said. It smelled—off—like something rotten. "I don't think they use fresh water at this place. And they sure are using a lot." The trickle turned into a gush, icy water streaming over Ray's hand, and coming up through the wheel well. Ray lurched upward, panicking. "Too much. Way too much! Fraser!" He yanked on the rope.

The Comet tilted, jolting Ray onto his elbow, and the walkie-talkie dropped into the water with a splash. "No!" said Ray. He fished it out of the water—there was water everywhere, splashing and churning, and filling up the small space. Jesus! "Fraser!" he yelled, pressing the transmit button, but it didn't hiss or crackle now. It was just a $150 paperweight. He shook it, banged it against the side of the trunk. Nothing. "Shit!"

Ray tugged desperately on the rope, but it still wouldn't give, no magic open sesame letting in fresh air and safety. He'd have to fight his way out. He rolled onto his back, getting soaked to the bone, and tried to get his feet up so he could kick the trunk open. Everything was moving. There wasn't room. It was stuck.

Water poured in everywhere. Now it was three inches deep, sloshing and splashing, now five. Ray had to get up onto his knees and elbows to keep his head above it.

He heard the rasp of a lighter, saw gold fire, and then it vanished, and the afterimage streaked across his vision. When it cleared, an orange dot was hanging in the dark. "Look at you!" said a mocking voice. "Such a stooge!"

Ray's heart clenched, cold water and fear. "Jesus Christ! What do you want?"

"Nothing you've got, chump," said Pop.

"Go to hell, Pop!" Ray shook his head. The water level was halfway up his arm now. "Jesus, I'm gonna die. Fraser! Fraser, don't let me die in the trunk of a three hundred dollar car!"

"You got yourself into this. I told you being a cop was a loser's game."

"You'd know all about that."

"Wasting your life with that clown in the uniform."

"Shut up, Pop! I'm not talking to you." Ray couldn't stop shaking. Trapped and cold and alone with his father. If there was any justice in the world, at least when he died his Pop would leave him alone.

"If you had any smarts, you'd be the one up there in the car with the pretty girl, and he'd be the one down here with the fishes." Pop was on a roll. Ray wondered if he'd been drinking, if they even had booze in hell. The little orange light danced in an arc.

Water lapped at Ray's chin. He twisted his head sideways, and snapped, "That pretty girl is your daughter, Pop!" He scrabbled at the roof of the trunk trying to find a hand hold. There were only four or five inches of air left, and he was starting to float, couldn't keep his balance. "Fraser!" He banged on the roof. "FRASER!"

The little orange light blinked out. Ray took a deep breath all the way down to his lungs, and held it as long as he could.

Not long enough. Cold. Dark. Nothing.

An eternity later, hands grabbed him and dragged him out of the nothing. Water tugged at Ray's clothes and arms and legs, sucking at his face, but the strong hands latched on tight and pulled him up.

Then, sploosh! Air and noise and Christ, he still couldn't breathe, couldn't—Fraser's shoulder pressed against Ray's gut, and water gushed up Ray's throat, pouring from his mouth and nose and jacket. He coughed and choked, and coughed again, and then he was upside-down or right-side up, and Fraser was steadying him.

"Ray? Ray?" Warm hands on his face.

Ray blinked, air burning his lungs, his mind churning. "Fraser. Fraser, I don't think that was a car wash."

"No, Ray," said Fraser. His voice was full of worry and relief, and Ray tightened his grip on Fraser's shirt. Fraser turned his head and asked Frannie for a blanket.

She argued with him. Of course, she argued with him. Didn't she know what had happened here? Did she not see Fraser saving Ray's life with his bare hands, Fraser holding him like he mattered? "Get the blanket," Ray ordered, not even looking at her.

Fraser was pale, and his collar was unbuttoned. Water was streaming off him. Everything smelled rotten. But his eyelashes were wet and spiky, and his eyes were huge and close, and his hands were on Ray, holding him, saving him. Holding him.

Fraser was beautiful, like an angel. "You okay?" he asked.

Ray stared at him. His angel. "Yeah."


After that, Ray couldn't forget the feel of Fraser's hands on his face or the look in his eyes. It'd been a significant look. Special. A magical Moment.

At least, Ray hoped it'd been a Moment. A day or two later when nothing had changed between them, when it was all business and teasing as usual, and Fraser hadn't dragged Ray into the supply closet to kiss him, and Fraser's hands weren't coming back to Ray's face, to his neck, and Fraser himself was weirdly distant and distracted, avoiding Ray's puzzled gaze—then Ray realized it was possible he'd had that Moment all by himself, and Fraser had just had a series of minutes, with no special stick-in-your-mind Moment in there that he would remember afterward, and think about, and maybe relive late at night when he couldn't sleep.

Either way—whether Fraser had had a Moment with Ray or not—Ray couldn't forget about it, and one night not long after the Comet incident, he admitted to himself that, okay, yeah, he'd stopped thinking that being with Fraser was just a fantasy thing. Now he thought maybe it might be good if it was a real everyday thing. Not a thing that he'd want to tell his folks about, of course. But a thing, nonetheless.


About a week after that, Ray and Fraser got into an altercation with half a dozen well-armed paleontologists who objected to Fraser interfering in their smuggled dinosaur bone scam. Ray and Fraser both got beat up pretty good before Fraser laid his hands on a length of tyrannosaurus rib and Ray managed to unholster his gun. Then they turned the tables and arrested the perps. Fraser was hurt worst, but Ray wasn't in great shape either, so he called Frannie to collect them from the hospital, and then drop Fraser at his apartment before taking Ray home.

When they got to Racine, Ray told Frannie to wait in the car, but she insisted on coming up too, even though Fraser thanked her kindly and said he was fine. Frannie was as willful as Ray's 2-year-old niece Lucia—and about that useful. Ray had to help Fraser up the stairs (one of the perps had got him in his bad leg), grumbling all the way, but secretly enjoying having Fraser's arm heavy on his shoulder, and Fraser's body pressed up against his side, even if Ray did have his own arm in a sling.

Frannie talked non-stop, though, which took some of the shine off. "Do you need me to stay with you, Benton?" she asked. "I could wake you every two hours and make sure you're not compressed."

"Thank you kindly, Francesca, but I'm sure I'll be fine," said Fraser, although Ray could tell he was gritting his teeth with each step. They reached Fraser's landing, and Fraser took his arm from Ray's shoulder, leaving Ray feeling cold.

"Huh," said Frannie, doubtfully. "Okay, well, let me just turn down your bed for you." She hurried over to open the door, releasing a flurry of anxious wolf.

"Oh, that's really not necess—" Fraser called, raising his voice to be heard over Dief's scolding, but Frannie had already pushed her way into the bedroom, and if she hadn't been Ray's sister and he didn't know better, he would've thought she was acting like a slut. But he did know better, so he shoved that thought aside. He knew she was just playing Florence Nightingale.

Fraser calmed Dief down, and after a few worried whines Dief went to curl up by the radiator, although he kept his eyes fixed on Fraser.

Frannie was calling advice from the bedroom—"Don't forget your painkillers, and if there's any sign of fever, the doctor said to—" and after a moment her voice sounded muffled, which Ray guessed meant she was investigating the closet.

Fraser limped to the kitchen. He took the milk carton from the fridge just as Frannie came back out of the bedroom, saying, "Do you need a glass of—Oh."

She glared at Ray for no good reason and tucked her hair behind her ear. "Well," she said, temporarily at a loss. "Well, let me help you out of your clothes. I mean, I don't mean—" She blushed, but pulled herself together again quickly. "I've had a lot of nursing experience, what with Maria's kids, and Ray being a cop, and, y'know, having been married. I know all about subduing fevered brows. Let me—"

"Frannie," said Ray, "he does not need you to help him strip!" He turned to Fraser who was draining the milk carton dry. "You okay?"

"Yes, Ray. Of course." Fraser smiled at him, his bruised eye puffy and dark. The bandage around his head made him look like a pirate.

Frannie straightened up the chairs at the kitchen table, and rearranged the dishes on the draining board, and then picked up the pill bottle from the kitchen counter. "Have you taken the painkillers they gave you at the hospital?"

Fraser smiled at her. "There's really no cause to worry, Francesca."

"Benton, I really think you should—" she started, but Ray interrupted.

"Jeez, would you give the guy some room to breathe? Go wait in the car."

Frannie scowled at him. "Why don't you just beat him over the head if you're going to be such a grouch? I'm helping!"

"Car," Ray barked, his head throbbing in time with his sore arm.

"No!" Frannie folded her arms, and looked like wild horses wouldn't budge her.

"I'll tell him what happened at your senior prom," threatened Ray, and Jesus, it was a miracle, but she gave in, though it took her ten minutes to say goodnight and make sure there was a glass of water next to Fraser's bed and pat his arm and bombard him with instructions and then say goodnight all over again.

Finally, though, she was gone. The door shut, and Fraser relaxed with a sigh against the counter, and quiet swept through the apartment. Ray's heart started hammering but he ignored it. He took a step toward Fraser, holding his gaze and keeping his voice low. "I do all the crazy things you ask me to, Benny. I jump off things, and climb into things, and end up with maggots on my clothes. And do I complain? Well, yeah, I complain some, but Jesus, Benny. Maggots! Who wouldn't complain? The point is, I do it anyway. So do this thing for me. Take your pills and stay home tomorrow, and get better."

Fraser shook his head, then winced. "Honestly, Ray," he said. "I'm perfectly well. I just need a good night's rest and I'll be right as rain. I'll see you at the station tomorrow, as usual."

"Why are you arguing with me? Why d'you always gotta argue?" Ray shook his head, but couldn't keep from smiling too. "I'm not asking you to play hooky, here, Fraser," he said. "I mean, look at you! You look like something out of a horror movie—all blood and bandages. Any sane person in your condition would welcome the chance to stay home and rest up."

Fraser opened his mouth, then shut it again. His eyes were fixed on Ray's face. He licked his lip.

Heat flooded Ray's face, and he started to sweat, wondering how it would taste if he just leaned forward and covered Fraser's mouth with his own. He ran a hand over his own face, trying to get his thoughts straight.

"Ray?"

Christ, Ray could barely breathe. But this was no time to be thinking like this, with Fraser all banged up and Frannie waiting in the car. He grabbed the pill bottle from the counter, glanced at the label, and shook two little pink tablets into his good hand. Then he took a water glass from the cupboard and filled it with tap water. "Here you go, Fraser. Minimum dose."

Fraser looked at him for a long moment, his eyes dark and faintly puzzled. "All right." He took the pills, which Ray considered a victory on a par with the Cubs winning the pennant. And then he gave Ray a smile that made his knees weak. "Thanks, Ray."

"Yeah, uh," Ray stuttered, backing toward the door. "Well, someone's gotta take care of you, if you're too dumb to take care of yourself. Get some sleep." And he fled.


After that, Ray was pretty convinced that being with a guy—and not just any guy, but a certain stubborn, warm-eyed Mountie of his very good acquaintance—was not just a nice idea, not just a maybe-I'll-get-around-to-it-someday dream. It had to happen. Ray wanted to get his hands on Fraser. More specifically, Ray wanted to get his hands and his mouth on as much of Fraser as possible, and he desperately wanted Fraser to return the favor. And if Fraser couldn't, or if he didn't want to—well, Ray tried not to think about that.

It never seemed to be the right time to bring it up, though. Months passed. They chased perps and saved people, and Ray followed Fraser into blind alleys crowded with guys with guns, into slums and sewers, saying I love you with every footstep. He even blew up his fucking car for Fraser, but he still couldn't make himself make a move, not a real one, not a pulling-Fraser-into-his-arms-and-kissing-him move. Partly he was waiting for Fraser to be the one to do it, for Fraser to figure it out and say something, do something, give him a sign. And partly, yeah, Ray could admit it: he was scared. The thought of taking that step made his stomach curl into painful knots. It gave Ray vertigo, and it wasn't like there wasn't enough stress in Ray's life already. There were so many ways it could go, that conversation they weren't having, and a lot of those ways would hurt like hell.

So he veered off at the last minute, again and again, and stewed on it, and snapped at Fraser and Frannie and anyone else who came near him, and nothing changed.

Nothing, until the Madison case and—tangled up with it in a big confusing sleep-deprived mess—the question of whether Fraser had slept with Frannie. Just the thought had Ray feeling feverish and sick. All of a sudden, he felt like he was the one in the dirt pit with choppers overhead, about to be buried alive. Why the fuck didn't you do something sooner? Why didn't you talk to him? he asked himself, over and over. And I trusted you, he thought, staring at Fraser when Fraser wasn't looking. I thought we fucking had something. I thought we were going somewhere.

He head was bursting with these things he couldn't say. Too fucking late. The kicker was when Frannie told him he was too scared to dream. Too scared, huh? What did she think he'd been doing the last eight months? What the hell did she know about it? And what the fuck was the point of dreaming if he didn't have a chance? If Frannie had Fraser, if the two of them were together now, then that left Ray all alone. More alone than he'd ever been in his life.


Ray started working harder, working late. He didn't want to sit across the dining table from Frannie's triumphant smile and imagine what she'd been doing with Fraser. He couldn't do that. So he chained himself to his desk, and plowed through paperwork and mulled over cases. One night, when he finished up around eight-thirty, the station was quiet, and he was about to head home when he remembered he'd left a forensics report in the viewing room for Interview One. He went down the hallway, into the viewing room, and stopped dead.

"You're as bad as he is," Frannie was saying. She was in the interview room, standing real close to Fraser, her hand resting on his chest. Fraser's face was bent down toward her, and Ray's heart stopped. He shouldn't be seeing this. He didn't want to see this. But for a minute, he couldn't look away.

It took a while for the words to sink in.

"You know what your problem is?" Frannie said to Fraser, with a quiet smile.

Fraser shook his head a little and Ray, standing there in the dark, watching with his fists clenched at his sides, shook his head, too, in sympathy. Don't do this, Frannie, he thought. Don't fucking do this.

But she did. "Your problem," she told Fraser, passionately, "is you spend so much time saying no to people that you forget you can say yes, if you want to." She pushed him away with the flat of her hand. "You forget that life—life is for living, Fraser."

Ray took a deep, shaky breath and backed out of the room. He couldn't watch this. He just couldn't. Some things, you were better off not knowing, and how it looked when the guy you loved kissed your sister? That sure as hell was one of them.

Ray turned his back on the interview rooms and walked out of the station, and he didn't stop till he reached the lake. He sat and stared blindly at the cold murky water for a long time, and realized there was no easy way to get home from here.


The next morning, he tried to sneak out early, before the breakfast hullabaloo started, but Ma caught him with his hand on the doorknob, and nagged him about being home for dinner once in a blue moon. He sighed, but was too tired after tossing and turning all night to say No, so he promised, "Yeah, Ma. I'll be here."

He stayed away from the station all day, interviewing suspects and following up leads, and, okay, yeah, avoiding Fraser. It was too much to deal with, and Ray had to focus on putting one foot in front of the other and keeping on breathing. He couldn't cope with seeing Fraser right now, or pretending they were just friends.

He couldn't avoid Frannie, though. He got home just after six. When he opened the door, she was walking down the stairs, hooking a diamante earring through her ear with one hand and adjusting the top of her little strapless dress with the other.

Ray stopped dead and looked up at her, full of a horrible certainty. "You got a date?" he croaked.

"Oh my God, what time is it?" she demanded when she glanced up and saw him. She looked at her wrist and squeaked, "Bracelet! Bracelet! I'm gonna be late!" and disappeared back up the stairs.

Ray was going to go after her, going to tell her—Christ knew what. Don't go or Leave him alone or, if he could dredge up some self-respect, even Jesus, Frannie, good for you! But go easy on him, okay? But Lucia came running into the hall, yelling, "Uncle Ray!" and dragged him into the living room to look at her new coloring-in book, and he let her, because it was easier than looking Frannie in the eye.

"Cute," he said, tearing his gaze from the doorway long enough to look at the scribbled-on pictures of fat puffy clouds and square houses with picket fences. "You done good, Lucy-lu."

A vehicle pulled into the driveway, and Ray took an involuntary step to the window, wondering where Fraser had gotten a car. It was a late-model gray Chevy Ray didn't recognize—and he didn't recognize the guy who got out of the driver's seat, either.

Ray let out a breath, and ran his shaking hand over his head. He couldn't take much more of this.

Frannie yelled down the stairs, "Is he here?"

And Ray started to call back, "No, it's not Fraser. It's just some guy in a cheap suit."

But Frannie had already run down and opened the door, was bringing the suit guy in and introducing him around. "This is my brother Ray. Ray, Brian Prentice. And this is Lucia, my niece."

"See my picture book?" said Lucia, waving her coloring-in book at the guy.

Ray shook the guy's hand, numbly, and then Ma and Maria bustled in to meet him, both of them wiping their hands on dish towels and smiling, and Ray gripped Frannie's arm and dragged her into the hall, shutting the door behind them. "Brian?" he hissed. "What about Fraser?"

Frannie's eyes widened, and she pulled away. "Brian asked me out," she said pointedly, rubbing her arm where he'd grabbed her. "He's a good guy. He's in insurance. You tell me about Fraser."

Ray shook his head. "I thought you two were—" He stopped. He still couldn't say it.

Frannie lifted her chin, and met his gaze. "I'm not stupid, Ray," she said. "There's dreaming, and then there's wasting your whole life." Ray frowned, and she sighed, exasperated. "Jeez, you guys."

And that didn't make any sense, unless…

She turned and opened the living room door before he could get his head together enough to answer. A few minutes later, he stood in the front doorway and watched Brian (and who the hell was this guy, Brian?) open the car door for Frannie. Frannie started to get in, but stopped and looked up at Ray. She gave him a tight smile.

He nodded, and her smile widened. Ray turned and shut the door. They were good. They were good, and Ray had a second chance.


Ray sat through dinner because he'd promised, though he wasn't hungry. The moment Maria started clearing the table, Ray was up and out of his seat. "Sorry, Ma. I gotta go see Fraser." Taking a leaf out of Fraser's book, lying by telling the truth.

On the drive over, he rehearsed what he was going to say, each phrase careful, testing his ground at every step, but by the time he'd climbed up the three flights of stairs, he was shaking so hard that he had to make himself get angry just so he'd keep going. He knocked twice on Fraser's door, then burst in. "Jesus Christ, Fraser! I am so mad at you!"

Fraser looked up from the kitchen sink, in surprise. "Ray?" He was wearing his undershirt and suspenders.

But Ray couldn't let himself stop and think. He slammed the door behind him. "You drive me crazy, and you know it! You and your stupid code of honor." He yanked off his jacket and dumped it on a chair, and paced the room, too wound up to look at Fraser yet. Just needing to get it out. "I mean, I don't get it, Fraser. I could understand if you'd slept with her and you couldn't say, but why can't you say if you didn't? What the fuck are you protecting her from? Virgin sacrifice?"

Fraser moved into Ray's path. "Did she say we didn't?" he asked urgently.

Ray sidestepped him and kept pacing, clenching his hands so he wouldn't throttle Fraser. "She didn't have to. I know Frannie. If she'd slept with you, she'd be trying to do it again. She wouldn't be on a date right now with Brian."

Out of the corner of his eye, Ray saw Fraser fold his arms, dishtowel still in one hand, and watch Ray circling the room. "Brian?"

"Nice guy. Drives a Chevy." Ray dismissed him with a wave of his hand.

Fraser took a step forward. "Ray, I—I missed you today."

Ray shook his head. "Jesus, Benny. Do you have any idea what you put me through?" And he finally stopped and met Fraser's gaze head-on. Fraser frowned, shocked, and moved toward him till they were less than a foot apart. A flush swept across his face, and he raised a hand like he was going to touch Ray's cheek, but then dropped it, and lowered his eyes.

"I'm sorry," he said quietly.

Ray caught Fraser's hand before it could fall back to his side, and brought it up to his own cheek, closing his eyes at the feel of Fraser's fingers, hot on his face. Feeling like his heart was going to burst out of his chest. He heard Fraser take a breath, felt Fraser's body radiating heat as he stepped even closer.

"Don't just say you're sorry, Benny." Ray slid his hand up Fraser's arm, so terrified he couldn't let himself think about it. He gripped Fraser's shoulder. "Make it up to me."

A thumb brushed his lips and was gone, and Ray's eyes flew open. This was real. Real and exactly what he wanted, and Fraser was looking at him with shining eyes, so beautiful, so real.

"You want this, Ray?" he asked in a low voice, but before Ray could answer, Fraser leaned forward and kissed him, soft brief pressure on his lips.

"You know," Ray whispered. "Don't pretend you didn't know."

Fraser pulled him close, wrapped strong arms around him. Ray held on tight, smelling the tang of chili sauce, and soap and skin, and shaking so hard.

"I didn't know if it was—if you were aware," Fraser murmured in his ear. "I didn't want to presume." Ray felt the words vibrating in Fraser's chest as he said them, felt the rise and fall of his breathing. He smoothed his hands down Fraser's back, feeling the soft cotton of Fraser's undershirt, warm from Fraser's body, feeling the hard muscles underneath.

"Presumption of innocence, huh?" Ray murmured back, and opened his mouth as Fraser kissed him again, tasting Fraser's tongue, pulling him even closer. Ray was still trembling, but it wasn't fear now, or anger. So long since anyone had touched him like this. But Fraser was touching him now, yeah, Fraser's hands were all over him, unrestrained, like they'd been imprisoned until now, like they'd been dying to learn him.

Ray buried his hand in Fraser's hair and held on, moaned when Fraser pushed him against the counter and leaned into him, the bulge in his pants pressing against Ray's own erection. This was better—rougher and truer—than any of Ray's fantasies. He kissed Fraser frantically, and then wrenched himself away, panting, and dragged his tie from his neck and unbuttoned the collar of his shirt, his eyes never leaving Fraser's. Fraser looked hungry, all the need that Ray'd been feeling reflected there. Ray's hurt and confusion were a hazy memory, burned up in the heat of Fraser's kiss.

Fraser shrugged his suspenders from his shoulders, and pulled Ray back into his arms. "I missed you," he murmured again, licking into the hollow at the base of Ray's throat.

Ray took Fraser's head in his hands and pulled his face up so they touched, forehead to forehead. It didn't make any sense to miss something you'd never had, but Christ, he knew the feeling. "Me too, Benny," he said, and kissed him again.


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