Thanks: Sparkly gratitudinous thanks to Lyra Sena for brilliant beta
Notes: For the ds_flashfiction Mute Fraser challenge
It started with the explosion in Giggenbach's Antique-Style Telephone Factory. Thanks to the mix-up with the ballet tickets, the Fourth of July parade, and the Lieutenant's friend on the Zoo board, they were all there, converging on the factory, all set to take down Amy Earhart and bring her to justice.
A number of things didn't go according to plan, though:
First there was the small spluttering fizz of a lit fuse.
Then Fraser yelled, and shoved Frannie down behind the scarred wooden counter. Welsh and Huey and Dewey, who were pushing through the double doors, turned and bolted.
Fraser's big red uniform crashed heavily into Ray, blocking out light and sound, smooshing Ray's glasses painfully against his nose. The two of them fell together—almost in slow motion—like a hard solid two-for-one body, smack! onto the smooth concrete floor. They bounced a little, and a split second later the world exploded BOOM! in a white hot flash of light, a sizzling popping splatter of molten plastic, and a shatter-thwack of metal disks whizzing all over, embedding themselves in walls and furniture and—fuck! ouch!—arms.
* * *
Later, Ray leaned against the wall in the emergency room and stared into a cup of undrinkable coffee, torn between a) thanking God they'd all made it out alive and 2) gesturing his left fist (with its stiffly splinted-and-bandaged middle finger) heavenward.
The door opened and Fraser stumbled out looking a little rough around the edges, a doctor hard on his heels. Fraser's uniform was torn and dirty, his throat was bound, and there was an air cast down to the knuckles on his right hand. His thumb and the tips of his fingers peeked out. Each of the fingers on his left hand bore a separate surgical dressing.
The gang gathered together for the medical verdict, and Ray looked around. They'd been hit hard: Welsh was leaning tiredly on crutches, his pant leg awkwardly covering the cast on his broken ankle; Frannie nervously fingered the dressing on her stomach, which hid her navel for the first time in living memory; Huey was wearing a scowl and a neck brace; Dewey's wrist was broken, his arm in a sling. Ray had gotten off pretty good, thanks to Fraser, with just the broken finger, a cut on his nose from his glasses, enough white gauze wrapped around his forearm to make a shirt for Frannie, and the imprint of an old-fashioned telephone dial on his butt.
"You're all free to leave," the doctor told Welsh. "Go home and rest. The only proviso is that Constable Fraser should avoid putting any strain on his vocal cords for forty-eight hours." He frowned reprovingly at Fraser, who'd opened his mouth to argue. "That means no talking. You form one single word and you could permanently damage your voice box. Other than that," he spread his hands in a gesture that encompassed them all, "you're in remarkably good shape, considering the circumstances."
* * *
"Okay," Ray announced, throwing the phone and his mail onto the pile of junk on the coffee table. "I've ordered pizza. What else do you need?"
Fraser, who was slouched on the couch, shifted uncomfortably in the sweater Ray'd lent him, and said nothing. He looked pale and rebellious, but he'd managed to keep his trap shut so far.
"What?" Ray's eyes narrowed, and he hunkered down so he could look Fraser in the eye. "You want something. What is it?"
Fraser's lips moved, mouthing something. Ray cocked his head and tried to understand.
"Tea? TV? TV and paper?"
Fraser shook his head, frustrated, and furtively cased the table. Ray thought he was looking for a pen, and scrabbled around till he found a pencil, which he held up before he noticed the lead was broken. Meanwhile, Fraser had found the phone.
"Hey, no! No phone calls," said Ray, trying to snatch it out of his hand. "No talking." He lost his balance and fell to his knees, lurching forward across Fraser's lap to grab the phone.
Fraser held him off with his cast, and dialed with his left hand. He listened to it ring.
"Fraser! You're not supposed to—"
Fraser shoved the receiver to Ray's ear just in time for him to catch the tinny click of the pick-up, and the mindless cheer of Turnbull's, "Canadian Consulate. Good afternoon, sir or madam. How may I be of service? Just say the word, and I shall do my utmost to meet your requirements in any way possible, to the fullest extent of the—"
"Turnbull," Ray interrupted, taking the receiver from Fraser. Their hands tangled briefly in the process, Ray's finger splint catching on one of Fraser's dressings, and they dropped the phone onto the rug. Ray disentangled their fingers, grabbed the phone, and sat back on his heels. "Turnbull, you still there? Just wanted to let you know that Fraser's sick. He got a speed-dial in the neck, and he's not allowed to talk for a couple of days." Ray met Fraser's intent expectant gaze. This wasn't it. He wanted Ray to say something else, ask something else. Tea. TV, paper. Huh?
"I'm very sorry to hear that, sir. I hope Constable Fraser is—"
"He's okay. He's gonna stay at my place tonight." Ray said it almost like a question. Was this what Fraser wanted him to say?
Fraser blinked, then nodded, but he didn't look any less intent. His head was tilted, just a fraction, like he was straining to hear Turnbull's side of the conversation, too. Ray angled the phone so Fraser could listen in more easily.
"I'll inform Inspector Thatcher," said Turnbull. "It's unfortunate timing, since I've just baked a large dish of cherry stroganoff with marscapone dressing. I'll put some aside until Constable Fraser is better."
"Yeah, uh, thanks. Oh, and his hands are incommunicado. If he's got any, I dunno, reports due, he probably can't get them done for a while." Another half-question, but Fraser shook his head, leaning forward. He patted the air just above knee height. Fuck. Ray had always sucked at charades. Tea. TV. Something Canadian. Curling, maybe? "Hey, is there, uh, any curling on TV this evening. Like, maybe a big match I should know about?"
Fraser frowned, so no, that wasn't it. And Turnbull started babbling about stones and sweeping and bonspiels and god knew what the fuck else. "Never mind, never mind." Fraser was writing in the air, now. A curve, like a "C". C but not curling. Clothes? "Oh, we might come by later and get him a change of clothes."
Fraser looked torn between frustration and resignation. Ray squinted at him. What? And then Turnbull was talking again.
"Certainly, detective. I'll be sure to see to Diefenbaker, too."
At the name, Fraser leaned forward urgently, and tapped Ray on the arm, hard and repeatedly, like a demented woodpecker, and mouthed the word again.
"Oh. O-kay," said Ray, finally getting it. Not TV. Dief. "No, actually, Turnbull, I think we're coming to get him."
Fraser nodded firmly, relief written across his face like a neon sign.
"Uh, we'll be there soon." Ray hung up, and rubbed the spot on his arm where Fraser had been poking.
* * *
Mostly, when bad guys were shooting at them, or when they were hurtling down a crowded Chicago street in hot pursuit, dodging fruit carts and mimes, or when they were threatening (Fraser called it interrogating) a suspect—at times like those, Ray didn't have to wonder what Fraser was thinking. He knew, like he knew the back of his hand, the inside of his eyelids, the zing of the first mouthful of coffee in the morning. He just fucking knew. They were in tune. They both wanted to catch the guy, save the day, win one for the home team. It was like all the best partnerships, like magic.
Today was not one of those days.
Ray put music on to hide his irritation, and he and Fraser had a 50-50 half-grumbled, half-silent battle about whether or not to wait for the pizza before they went to get Dief, which stalemated with Fraser standing mulishly by the door in his coat, gobbling down three slices of pepperoni and pineapple deep-dish, while Ray sprawled on the couch, demonstrating that they had all the time in the world, and that civilized people—at the end of a long hard day of investigating and getting shot at and being blown up—fucking ate sitting down.
He felt maybe a little bit guilty, because Fraser seemed to really want to see Dief, but at the same time, fuck it. Fraser was a grown man. He wasn't hurt that bad, communication issues notwithstanding. He already had his partner for company. He could wait ten extra minutes to see his dog.
* * *
The look on Fraser's face when they finally stepped into the Consulate and Dief came running, barking his furry head off, made Ray feel like shit. I suck, he told himself a dozen times, and he held his fist up, palm outwards, splint extended, so he was giving himself the much-deserved finger.
Fraser looked at Dief until the wolf shut up, and then the two of them had a serious talk without either of them moving a muscle.
Turnbull poked his head out of the kitchen. "Detective Vecchio! Constable Fraser! How delightful to see you. Would you like some vegan ratatouille?"
There was the unmistakable sound of food bursting into flames, and a cloud of smoke billowed out behind him. He looked over his shoulder, squeaked, and dove back to the oven.
"No, that's okay, thanks, Turnbull. We're leaving," called Ray. He stood by the door, jangling his keys, letting guilt sour his brains, and practiced saying sorry in his head.
Fraser and Dief kept staring at each other. After a couple of minutes, Fraser nodded, and Dief came over and barked at Ray.
"What?" said Ray. He looked up. "Listen, Fraser. I'm sorry about the whole pizza thing. I—"
Fraser nodded impatiently—apology accepted—and pointed at Dief.
"What?" said Ray. He looked at the wolf. "What?"
Dief blinked, and flicked an ear back and forth.
"What?" said Ray, again. "You got something to say?"
Fraser's bandaged fingers brushed the back of Ray's neck, and Ray jumped, shooting a startled glance at Fraser, whose attention was fully focused on Dief. Dief stared up at Ray, his eyes shining, like he was trying to—like he was—
Ray shook his head. In the back of his mind, there was a hissing sound, like static, and a weird prickly feeling tickled down his neck and over his scalp. "What?" he asked for the fourth time, quieter now and vaguely creeped out.
Dief opened his mouth, and panted.
"Ray." The voice bloomed in Ray's head like he was dreaming. He didn't hear it, exactly, but it was there, scratchy and wolfish. It kept going: "Ben says to tell you that Giggenbach set you up."
"Holy shit," breathed Ray, his heart and his pizza both trying to escape out of his mouth. "What the hell—?" He took two quick steps backwards, and crossed his arms. "I think I'm, uh, coming down with something, Frase. I gotta lie down."
Without waiting for a response, Ray hurried through to Fraser's office—tiptoeing past the kitchen, so Turnbull wouldn't know he was there—and flung himself onto the neatly made cot. He shut his eyes and threw his arm over his face. What the hell kind of drugs had they given him at the hospital?
Footsteps and clicky pawsteps followed him into the room, but Ray determinedly stayed put. Even when the deranged woodpecker attacked his arm again, he refused to budge.
A hot, wet wolf tongue swiped Ray's neck and ear and hand. Ray squirmed away, and sat up, yelping. "Stop it! Stop it, you mongrel."
"I'm not a mongrel. I'm a wolf," said the voice, which Ray was going to have to eventually admit to himself was Dief, so he might as well get it over with.
"Half-wolf," snapped Ray, resenting the way Dief was messing with his sanity, "i.e. mongrel. What do you want?"
"Philosophical question. I'll have to think about it." Dief sat down and scratched his front leg with his hind leg. Then he looked up and laughed at Ray. Actually laughed at him.
It was a familiar expression, too. Ray glared down at the wolf, other worries forgotten. "Exactly how often do you make fun of me, mutt?"
Dief's hackles rose slightly. "Get over yourself, human," he said. "I could snap your neck like a twig, so don't think that threatening tone of voice is going to cow me into submission. I know who's alpha round here."
"Oh yeah? Gonna buy your own donuts from now on?" said Ray, showing Dief his damaged fist. He looked up at Fraser, who was watching the conversation warily. "He always this much of a pain in the ass?"
Fraser's mouth tilted up at the corner, and he nodded quickly.
"Cuts both ways, dickhead," said Dief. He sounded scornful, but uncertain. The donut threat had taken some wind out of his sails, maybe.
They glowered at each other for a long moment, and then Ray buried his face in his hands. Going mano-a-mano with a wolf. Jeez. He was now officially Canadian-grade certifiable. He might as well go the whole hog and fill out an RCMP application form while he was here.
* * *
"If you could pull your head out of your hominid ass for long enough, you'd see that Earhart was set up and Giggen—"
"No fucking way!" snorted Ray, almost shouting. "You're out of your lupine little mind, wolf-dog. Giggenbach had everything to lose. His apartment, for one, since he and his wife live on the top floor of the factory. Why would he—"
Fraser, his expression tense, stepped bodily between Ray and Dief and clapped a hand over Ray's mouth, effectively stopping the argument, since Dief couldn't read Ray's lips unless he could see them and the creepy voice-in-the-head thing apparently only worked in line of sight, too.
Ray tried to keep talking anyway, but it just sounded like muhmuhmuh and Fraser's dressings tasted of antiseptic. He shut up.
Fraser shook him, not too hard, and looked firmly into his eyes. Yeah, Ray got the message. He nodded, and made a T with his forearms. Time out.
Fraser nodded too, and held him there a moment longer, his cast on Ray's shoulder, his palm warm against Ray's lips. Then he slowly released him, hands brushing lightly over Ray's arms on the way down, and turned to speak to the wolf.
Dief gave a short disgruntled growl, and trotted out of the room.
Ray breathed in as much as he could and let it out slowly, to a count of ten. He shook his body to loosen all the frustrated muscles, and tried not to think how much he missed Fraser's voice. A whole fucking lot. He scrubbed his good hand over his face, and then groaned. "He okay?"
Fraser nodded, and mimed drinking out of a glass.
"Oh, yeah, he's just gone off for a beer," said Ray, ironically. He sat down on the bunk with a whump. Jeez, what a day. "How 'bout you? You holding up?"
Fraser shrugged off the question and went to his desk to get a pen and paper. God, it had to be incredibly frustrating not being able to talk, especially when he no doubt had the perfect Inuit folk tale for the situation that would clear things right up, if only he could tell it for a half an hour.
And listening to his two best friends duke it out had to suck, too. Ray took a deep breath and resolved to try harder to keep things polite and Canadian-like.
Fraser sat down next to Ray on the cot, and put the pen and paper on the floor at his feet, then bent down and started unlacing his boots.
"You need a hand with that?" asked Ray, and didn't wait for a response before he knelt on the floor at Fraser's feet and batted his battered hands away. "I got it." The finger splint made it tricky, but hell, it was still less painful than watching Fraser fumbling with his cast and his dressings. Ray glanced at the pen and paper next to him. "You can't write with that cast on, you know. And I don't care if you're amphibious or whatever—you gotta rest your hands as well as your voice."
He looked up to see Fraser nodding, and then pried off the second boot. Fraser's feet were hot and dry. They didn't even smell bad. That was it—conclusive evidence that the guy wasn't human (as if having a talking wolf wasn't enough).
Fraser peeled his socks off, and picked up the pen in the toes of his right foot.
Ray gaped. "You're kidding me."
"No, Ray," wrote Fraser in neat cursive script. "You must know that some disabled people write and paint with their feet."
Ray nodded. He'd seen the Christmas cards.
"One particularly harsh winter in the Yukon, I taught myself to do likewise."
"You guys really gotta get cable up there." Ray turned so he was sitting with his back against the cot. His side was pressed up against Fraser's left leg, and he leaned over to read what Fraser was writing.
"Of course, my foot typing is much better than my footwriting, but the typewriter's currently being repaired."
"Of course," said Ray. "So, Giggenbach, huh? What's up with that?"
"Before the bomb detonated, I detected traces of lavender oil on the door handle, whi" Fraser suddenly dropped the pen, and made a small grunting noise.
Quickly, Ray twisted to his knees and grabbed his shoulder. "What is it? No speaking, Frase!"
Fraser's face was tight with discomfort, his foot flailing in the air. He reached down, but Ray got there first.
"Cramp, huh? Guess you haven't practiced your footwriting in a while." Ray pulled Fraser's clenched foot into his lap and held it there. "I can deal with this, okay, but you gotta relax."
Fraser kicked out, slightly, and Ray tightened his grip and looked up over his shoulder. Fraser's face was red, his jaw clamped shut. His whole body was braced tight.
"God, cramp and ticklish?"
Fraser nodded grimly.
"Okay, I'll be careful. Just—just relax. Think of uniform inspections or something."
Fraser quirked an exasperated eyebrow, but did manage to ease his muscles a few degrees, and Ray took a firm hold of the foot in his lap and dug his thumbs into the arches. This'd be easier with some kind of lotion or ointment, but—hey, Fraser always had that stuff.
Ray went to the desk and rummaged in the top drawer—whale blubber moisturizer: bingo!—and came back to resume treatment.
Like the rest of him, Fraser's foot was beautiful: long and strong and nicely shaped, with a high arch. A smattering of dark hair grew on the knuckles of the toes and across the top of his foot. The skin was soft and smooth and warm. Ray fought back a truly bizarre urge to bend down and lick it, and put more of the herby smelling ointment on instead.
After a few minutes, Fraser's leg slumped against Ray, and Ray figured he was getting somewhere.
Then Dief came in. "What the devil's going on?" The words spiked indignantly across Ray's mind.
"You gotta problem?" said Ray, but he hastily pushed Fraser's foot aside, and wiped his hands on his jeans. Dief was looking over Ray's shoulder, up at Fraser's flushed face.
Ray could only hear Dief's side of the conversation, but he knew Fraser. He could fill in the gaps. "Well, good, because Turnbull's in the next room and what it looks like—" said Dief.
Ray screwed the lid back on the ointment jar and felt his face get hot.
"Yeah? And where were you planning to get a cramp next, exactly?" said Dief.
Fraser jumped to his feet and went to the closet to get his hiking boots.
"That's not what it looks like to me," said Dief.
"Hey!" said Ray. "Stay out of this, wolf!"
Dief was too deep in conversation with Fraser to listen. "You keep saying that, but everything you insist isn't important really is. You're in denial, Ben." Dief yawned and licked his lips, then threw Ray a scornful glance. "Yes, you are. Both of you."
"Okay, that's it," said Ray, springing to his feet. "I'm outta here. Sorry, Ben. I mean, Fraser. This is just—get the damned wolf out of my head or I'm gonna—" He growled expressively, and Dief's hackles rose.
"He started it," said Dief sulkily. "Howling hurricanes, Ben, why don't you use the goddamned computer?"
Fraser spun around and put a bandaged finger to his mouth, urgently.
"Screw state secrets," said Dief nonchalantly. "If you don't tell him, I will. You're not going to turn me in." He jumped onto the cot. "For a start, no one would believe you."
Fraser dropped his boots with a loud thud so he could throw his hands in the air, like he was asking for God to strike the wolf dead, but Dief just sat on his haunches and looked at Ray, with his tongue lolling dopily out of his mouth.
* * *
"Let me get this straight," said Ray. "You have a computer that talks like the Queen."
"How many times do I have to tell you, dumbass?" said Dief, which was apparently wolfspeak for "yeah".
Fraser was sitting at his desk with his face buried in his hands. His ears were burning, and every time either Ray or Dief mentioned the Queen, he twitched nervously.
"Uh, okay," said Ray. "But why?"
"Phone interviews," said Dief, "Christmas messages, or if she gets laryngitis when she's in Chicago."
Fraser raised his head.
"Ben says it's an matter of security and governance for the entire Commonwealth, and that by rights I should be put to death for revealing its existence to an American citizen." Dief turned and panted at Fraser. "You could always make an honest Canadian of him."
* * *
"This is freaking me out," said Ray, leaning against the brown-painted wall of the Consulate's top-secret basement control center, hoping that Turnbull had been too busy with his chicken meringue pie to notice them slipping through the secret trap-door under the stairs.
Fraser tapped at the keyboard with his bandaged hand, and a second later the Queen's voice said, in its prim British accent, "I don't see why."
"Yeah, well, that's because you're a freak. Look, let's just get on with this, okay? You don't think Earhart set the bomb?"
"No, Ray," said Fraser, via the Queen's computer. "As I was trying to tell you before my foot seized up, the letter from Giggenbach's wife indicated a rift in their marriage, and we know that Giggenbach had also argued with Earhart. Adding to that the lavender, the traces of nitroglycerine on the outside of the envelope, and the fact that Giggenbach was allegedly having his haircut this afternoon—even though he's entirely bald—I think it's safe to conclude that Giggenbach was trying to murder his wife, cash in the insurance on his failing telephone factory, and frame Earhart for the explosion. Three birds with one bomb, so to speak. It was foolish of me not to have made the connection earlier."
"Yeah. Foolish. Right." Ray shook his head despairingly, and looked at Dief, sprawled at his feet. "Hey, wolf. Could you give us a minute?"
"One minute," said Dief, grudgingly. "And don't try anything." He rolled to his feet and left.
"What's with him?" said Ray. "I thought he liked me."
"Oh, he does, Ray," Fraser typed into the Queen computer. "He wouldn't be speaking to you if he didn't like you."
"He's got a funny way of showing it," said Ray, going to stand at Fraser's shoulder.
"Wolves are noted more for their territoriality than for their courteous manners," Fraser pointed out, but Ray had already moved on.
He dropped his hand onto Fraser's shoulder. "What he was saying earlier—"
"Ray," said the Queen, and then Fraser stood up and faced him. They were only a foot apart, the air between them humming with energy, and Ray's hand was still on Fraser's shoulder, gripping tight now. Ray wasn't sure if he was holding Fraser close or keeping him at arm's length.
"Frase?" he said, nervously.
Fraser ducked his head and licked his lip, then looked at Ray with big dark eyes and nodded.
"Yeah, me too." Ray slid his hand sideways till his index finger brushed the edges of the bandage around Fraser's neck, and their gazes locked. God. "Miss your voice," Ray said softly.
Fraser took Ray's hand in a tight clasp, and something was gonna happen here. They were tipping forward, they were this close to something unbelievable—
Dief growled, loudly, right behind them.
Ray stumbled backward in surprise, tripped over the wolf, and fell onto the polished parquet floor, landing on his sore arm with a yell.
"I haven't got all night," said Dief.
Fraser sat back down at the computer, and tapped away briefly. "You are truly the most infuriating creature alive," said the Queen.
* * *
Ray phoned the station from Fraser's office. "They've arrested Earhart," he told Dief and Fraser. "Giggenbach's still on the loose."
"Come on, then," said Dief, rudely.
Fraser smiled apologetically at Ray, and went to get his coat.
* * *
They ran Giggenbach to ground in Earhart's apartment. When they kicked in the door, they found him hunched over the computer, surrounded by stacks of sporting goods, women's clothing, and kitchen appliances.
"Chicago PD! What the fuck are you doing?" said Ray, aiming his gun at the guy, but Giggenbach swung at him with a ski and scrambled into the bedroom and out onto the fire escape.
Ray raced after him, his feet clanging on the metal steps. Whenever he got a glimpse of Giggenbach's shiny head, he took a shot, but the chances of hitting him were tiny, particularly since Ray'd left his glasses at home.
Fraser was right behind, his footsteps juddering the old metalwork, sending flakes of rust raining through the air. They were three flights from the ground when Ray caught his splinted finger on a bolt sticking out of the railing. Fraser careened into him, yanking his finger free. Ray bellowed in pain, and the two of them tumbled down the next two flights in a tangle of limbs and surgical dressings, knocking Giggenbach to the ground in the process.
While Ray and Fraser struggled to disentangle themselves, Giggenbach made one final bid for freedom, only to be stopped at the corner by a snarling half-wolf.
"We've got you now, you wascally wabbit," Dief said triumphantly inside Ray's head.
Ray raised his head to blink at him, and then let it thunk back onto the concrete. "He speaks cartoon," he said to Fraser, who was on his feet now, offering Ray his good—well, relatively good—hand. "He pick that up in the arctic?"
Fraser mouthed something incomprehensible, and Dief translated: "I used to watch daytime TV with Mr. Mustafi."
* * *
"Let's get this straight," said Ray, glaring at Giggenbach in the rear view mirror. "You frame your girlfriend for blowing up your factory, and then top it off by selling all her possessions on e-Bay to make enough money to leave the country. Man, you suck."
Fraser was mouthing something long and complicated.
Ray turned and said over his shoulder, as clearly as he could while driving 40 mph, "Hey, Dief! What's up with Fraser?"
"He's telling that caribou story again," said Dief, long-sufferingly. "He always tells that story." There was a pause. "Yes, you do. You tell it all the time. I can't count the number of times I've heard that story." Pause. "I can so count, Mountie-man."
"Do I know that story?" Ray asked Fraser.
"Everyone knows that story," said Dief.
"Which story?" Ray insisted.
"When he was thirteen years old, he found a caribou on a mountain. He tried to coax it down, but the caribou got scared and by the time it'd let him near, it was practically dead," said Dief, all in a rush.
"Oh," said Ray. "That story. I like that one."
Fraser leaned his head against the passenger window and closed his eyes.
"Who the hell you talking to?" said Giggenbach.
* * *
Ray shut and locked the door behind them, and dumped the box of donuts on the floor. "You," he said, pointing at Dief, "sit down and shut up."
Dief tilted his head and said nothing. Apparently the donut bribe still worked.
"You," said Ray, grabbing Fraser's elbow, "come with me." He bustled him into the bedroom and shut the door.
Fraser struggled out of his coat, grimacing in pain as he tugged the sleeve over his cast, and hung it on a hanger. Ray paced the room, wondering what the hell to say. They'd nearly—they were gonna—
He really had no idea.
Fraser sat on the edge of the bed and tapped on his knee. Tap-tap. Tap. (pause) Tap-tap. (pause) Tap. Tap-tap. Tap. (pause) Tap-tap. Tap. (pause) Tap-tap. And on and on.
It took Ray a while to figure it out. "Hey, uh, I don't know morse code," he said, sitting beside him. "I used to when I was eleven, but—" He took Fraser's wounded fingers in his hand, and added, "Let's keep this simple. One for yes. Two for no."
Fraser nodded. He looked really tired, the lines around his eyes more pronounced than usual, and sort of scared.
"Hey, you know, we could talk about this some other time," said Ray, gently. "Like maybe when you're allowed to actually talk."
Fraser squeezed Ray's hand twice. Two for no.
"Okay." Ray tried to think of the right question. "Was Dief—?"
But Fraser clutched Ray's hand and just held on. No little squeezes, nothing. And Ray thought suddenly that maybe codes and translations weren't the way to go here. Maybe he should go directly to the source.
He returned Fraser's grip, and leaned against his shoulder, feeling his own heart speed up, trying to keep his breathing even.
The air between them fizzed with electricity.
Ray cleared his throat—the sound loud in the quiet room—and pulled Fraser toward him, so they were face to face. It was like in the Consulate basement, tension and anticipation, only now they were home. Now they were sitting on Ray's bed.
Fraser sighed, softly, and tilted forward till his mouth met Ray's, and Ray stopped thinking, stopped worrying, stopped doing anything but focusing on Fraser's soft lips pressed against his own.
After a long moment, the two of them fell slowly together back onto the soft bed. They bounced a little, and Ray put his arms around Fraser and held him tight, careful of the air cast. Fraser's hands roamed up and down Ray's back; his bandaged fingers stroked Ray's hair. The world melted in a warm golden glow, the firm pressure of their bodies against each other, the rustle of hands against clothes and cheeks, and the soft sounds of their lips. Kissing. Yes, this was it.
Ray pressed his hand to Fraser's chest, over his heart. "I got you," he murmured.
Fraser looked at him with shining eyes, dark and blue and happy, and nodded. "And I you," he mouthed silently, and kissed him again.