Rating: NC-17
Pairing: Fraser/Kowalski
Thanks: Grateful beta thanks to Sprat and mergatrude
Notes: Dear Due South fandom, Happy Thanksgiving. Love, me.

Awfully Fond of You

by china_shop

From his vantage point next to the buffet table, Fraser watched Turnbull side-step the Chilean ambassador and narrowly avoid causing the Deputy Mayor to spill champagne down her silk evening gown. He sighed. Turnbull should never have been allowed three espressos this afternoon: he'd claimed he would need the caffeine in his system to stay awake past 9.30pm, but as it was, he was bouncing around the room like a red rubber ball. The chances of the evening ending without a diplomatic disaster were small to nil.

Luckily, Inspector Thatcher was deep in conversation with the Canadian poet laureate, John Keating, and hadn't yet noticed Turnbull's antics.

Fraser smiled mechanically at the Secretary for the Interior's eldest daughter as he offered her the canapés. She tossed her hair over her shoulder and took three, then turned on her heel and disappeared back into the throng of elegantly dressed diplomats and civil servants. Fraser returned the platter to the table behind him, squared his shoulders, and resumed parade rest.

"Constable Fraser!" Turnbull popped up at Fraser's side so suddenly that Fraser jumped back and nearly overturned the caribou ice sculpture.

"What is it?"

"There's a phonecall for you, sir." Turnbull seemed oblivious to Fraser's impatience. He leaned forward and cleared his throat, before adding in an undertone pregnant with meaning, "It's Detective Vecchio, sir."

Fraser sighed. He'd told Ray several times that the Consulate was hosting its customary Thanksgiving party this evening. "Did you tell him I was otherwise occupied?"

"Of course, sir, but he was most insistent. He said it was an emergency." Turnbull lowered his voice even further. "I suggested he dial 911, but that only served to infuriate him, I'm afraid."

"Thank you, Turnbull," said Fraser curtly. He glanced around the room. No one was looking. He took two steps toward the doorway and came face to face with Inspector Thatcher.

"Constable Fraser," she greeted him, apparently having single-handedly consumed an entire bottle of Veuve Clicquot. "Are you having a wonderful time? I'm having a wonderful time." She narrowed her eyes. "For God's sake, loosen up, Fraser. You look like a stuffed firetruck. And go and check on the caterers: it's nearly time for dinner."

"Yes, sir," said Fraser gratefully, and escaped.

Two ageing minor politicians were arguing about the price of North Atlantic salmon on the staircase. The phone receiver was lying on the unattended reception desk. Fraser picked it up. "Ray?"

"Fraser? That you?" Ray's voice was strained and tense.

Fraser sat down and bent his head over the meticulously tidy appointment book. "Yes. What's wrong?"

"I can't—I can't say, Fraser, just—I, uh, I need you."

"Of course, Ray," said Fraser without hesitation. "Are you at your apartment? I'll be right over."

"Yeah, take a cab, make it snappy."

"I will." Fraser started to hang up, then hesitated. "I'll be right there."

"Thanks, Frase. I, uh, I didn't know who else to call." There was a second's silence. "Frase?"

"What is it?"

"Could you, uh, not bring Dief?"

Fraser blinked. "As you wish."

"Oh, and, uh, you might have to—to let yourself in."

"I'm sure I can manage, Ray. Just stay there."

There was a desperate laugh, more worrisome than any words could have been. "Yeah, Frase. Stay here. That's a good one."

"I'm on my way." Fraser waited another moment or two, in case Ray was going to reveal more details of his predicament, but nothing else was forthcoming. He carefully placed the receiver on its cradle, and went to deputize Turnbull with only the faintest of misgivings. Ray needed him.


* * *


The apartment was dark and silent. Fraser returned the bent hairpin to his belt pouch, and shut the door behind him. "Ray?"

There was a small thud from the bedroom. "Fraser!"

"Ray, I'm here." He made his way down the shadowy hallway. A faint glow emanated from the bedroom. "Is everything all right?"

"Oh yeah, it's peachy." Ray's voice rose in panic. "Hey, don't come in yet. Stay—stay there. For a minute. Just. I need to, uh—"

Fraser halted obediently, two steps from the bedroom doorway, feeling concerned. "What's wrong?"

"I didn't know who else to call, Fraser," said Ray. "I—not my mom, that's for sure. Not anyone. Stella, maybe, but she'd think I did it on purpose to get her to—Fraser, you got to promise me not to tell."

"Stella?" said Fraser, indignant at the suggestion he'd betray Ray thus.

"Anyone. Promise you won't tell a single soul, your whole life. Not even Dief."

Fraser cracked his neck and considered this. "Is it anything illegal, Ray?" he asked, finally.

Ray laughed again, but it turned into a groan. "Ow! Fuck. No, Fraser, it is not illegal. It is just stupid and fucking embarrassing, and if you won't promise, you can leave now, because I'm not letting you see me like this if you're gonna—"

Fraser ignored Ray's fevered ranting and took a resolute step forward. He could see the backs of Ray's long naked legs stretched out on the bed. His heart began to thump. "Ray?"

"—if you're gonna tell anyone, 'cause if this gets out, I'm not just moving cities, I'm moving to deepest darkest Africa, to live with the gibbons. And that is not pretty, Fraser. I saw a nature documentary one time, and let me tell you, gibbons are not a fairytale come true kind of ending."

"There are no gibbons in Africa, Ray," Fraser corrected him automatically. "They live in Southeast Asia and the rain forest, from—" Fraser took another step, and stopped, stunned by the scene before him. "Ray, how—?"

"Don't ask, Frase. Do not ask how I got like this, okay? I'm not telling. No power on God's green earth could make me tell. It was a freak fucking accident. Just get it out of me."

"Ray." Fraser was having trouble forming—sentences. Words. Thoughts. Ray was lying naked, face down on his bed with a pillow positioned neatly under his pelvis. He'd clearly attempted to pull a sheet across his rear, but without much success. And protruding from his sphincter was the unmistakable yellow bulge of a rubber duck. "Are you—?"

Ray glared over his shoulder at Fraser, his face red and sweaty. "What?" The twist of his body dislodged the sheet entirely.

Fraser moved forward, mesmerized by the warm glow of Ray's skin. How many times had he longed to see Ray naked? And now Ray was spread out before him, at his mercy. Fraser resolved to keep a tight rein on his reactions. He was here as a friend only, and he would under no circumstances take advantage. No matter that Ray's rear was just as enticing as Fraser had always suspected it would be. No matter that his shoulderblades were smooth works of perfection. No matter that his hair was curled with sweat, and the nape of his neck begged to be kissed. "Are you in a lot of pain?" Fraser asked gently.

Ray slumped back onto the bed and buried his face in the sheets. "Yeah," he said, muffledly. "Yeah, I was just trying—you know, experimenting. You heard that phrase, fuck a duck? Yeah, probably not, knowing you. Anyway, it's a thing. An ideogram. I was having a bath and I just thought, well, it was there. And it's smooth and not that big, I thought. And I thought it'd be—something. Good. But now I can't get it out and yeah, it fucking hurts, Fraser." His speech reached a crescendo of despair.

"It's all right, Ray," said Fraser soothingly, wondering how on earth he was going to extract the object. "You need to relax."

"Yeah. Yeah," said Ray. "Relax. Okay. Relax." He took a deep breath and choked. "I can't relax, Fraser. I can't—every time I move, the damned thing's beak jabs me in the I-don't-know-what. I think it got twisted around or something, and I—"

Fraser put a hand on the small of Ray's back, and Ray abruptly stopped talking.

"Ray," said Fraser, as soothingly as he could. He tried to hide his excitement at finally touching his partner behind a layer of professional reassurance. "Ray, I'm going to have to, ah, to investigate the matter further."

Ray didn't respond. Didn't move.

"Ray?" Fraser slid his hand from side to side on Ray's back.

"Yeah," said Ray. "Do it."

With his free hand, Fraser extracted a rubber glove from his belt pouch, and put it on. The sound of it snapping into place made Ray wince.

"I'll try not to exacerbate the problem," Fraser promised.

"Good," said Ray. "It was exacerbating that got me into this fucking mess."

Fraser slid his gloved hand down Ray's back, trying not to notice the warmth of his skin, the gentle curve of his rear. "Just think of me as a medical professional," he said, half to remind himself that this was merely a mercy mission, and in no way an opportunity for seduction. He clasped the rubber duck's body, and tugged at it carefully.

"Yeah, you should've worn your nurse's unif—Fuck!" Ray's hips bucked off the bed. "Ow! Stop! Jesus!" He slapped at the air in Fraser's general vicinity. "Can't you just—fucking—Ow!"

Fraser desisted at once and crouched down beside the head of the bed so he and Ray were eye to eye. "I'm sorry, Ray," he said sincerely, "but if you can't relax, I won't be able to remove it, and I'll have to take you to the hospital."

"Jesus," said Ray. He reached out and grabbed Fraser's lanyard. "I am not leaving my apartment in this condition. No one sees me like this but you. Promise me."

"Ray, if I can't remove the duck myself, you'll have to consider—"

"Can you spell? Do I have to say all the letters, Fraser? No one sees me like this. No one, period. Not even the drunks on the corner. I cannot live in this city, I cannot pursue happiness and bear my fucking arms if anyone but you sees me like this. It's unconstitutional. I will kill myself, Fraser. And I'll take you with me."

"I think you're overreacting," said Fraser, unable to prevent a small smile from spreading across his face. "Many people suffer much worse humiliations on a daily basis."

"I am not one of those people," Ray declared firmly. "I'm not equipped. Just do what you have to do to get me out of this."

Fraser cleared his throat, and stood up to unbutton his tunic. "All right." He stripped down to his undershirt and suspenders.

"Anything," reiterated Ray, watching.

Fraser glanced at him, startled. He couldn't possibly mean—? Fraser averted his eyes and smoothed his eyebrow, thinking furiously. Ray had humbled himself before Fraser. Had let Fraser see him in this humiliating position. Surely Fraser, too, could take some small risk.

Fraser unlaced his boots and knelt beside the bed again. "I have a plan," he said, pleased at how steadily he was able to say the words. "But you may not like it."

"Anything, Fraser," said Ray. "What is it?"

Fraser stared at Ray's worn geometric bedcover and summoned all his courage. "I suspect," he said, "the reason you're in such discomfort is because of the tension in your sphincter. It stands to reason, then, that the most efficacious method of extraction would be to relax you thoroughly."

"Yeah," said Ray, watching him like a hawk. "And how do you plan to do that? You gonna take my mind off my problems? Because I'm telling you Fraser, my problems are fucking pressing."

Fraser cleared his throat. "If it—if you wouldn't object," he said, unable to meet Ray's eye. He was about to make an outrageous suggestion, but then, it was not your ordinary situation. "If you would allow it," he started again, "I, ah, I propose to, ah—" He took a deep breath. "I propose to arouse you. I'm reasonably certain that a measure of, of foreplay, along with sufficient lubrication would be sufficient to remove the, ah, the object in question."

Silence blanketed the room like snow in December.

Fraser risked a quick glance at Ray's face. He was still flushed, but thoughtful, now, too. His blue eyes were fixed on Fraser's face. "You'd do that?" he asked.

Fraser licked his lip and ignored the thumping pulse in his ear. "Yes, Ray. You're in an awkward, not to mention painful predicament, and anything I can do to help—"

"Okay." Ray closed his eyes, his long lashes brushing his cheeks.

"What?" Fraser blurted. He'd expected more protestations.

Ray's eyes opened again, narrowed this time. "You said that's what it'd take. I said okay. Okay, Fraser. Do what you gotta do."

"Right," said Fraser. "Right. Okay. I—" He bit off the words. Eloquence was not with him this evening. He would have to rely on more primal and direct means. He leaned forward and pressed his lips to Ray's shoulder, and at the same time stroked his hand down Ray's spine, feeling the bumps of vertebrae, the slight dip toward Ray's waist, the occasional scar that gave Ray's skin its strong vibrate texture. Made him real.

Ray made a soft sound in his throat.

Fraser pulled back. "Ray? Are you—"

"I'm fine," he growled.

It was clearly time to throw caution to the wind. Fraser returned his gloved hand to the base of Ray's spine, holding him steady, and threaded the fingers of his other hand into Ray's hair. Then he leaned forward so their mouths met, and kissed him hard, licking into his hot mouth, meeting his tongue with his own.

When he broke away, they were both breathing hard, and Ray's expression was unreadable. "Is the kissing part—do we—is that necessary?"

Fraser swallowed . "Not strictly, no," he admitted. "But I'm afraid I'm something of a traditionalist, Ray."

"Traditionalist," said Ray. "Right." He laid his head on the bed and regarded Fraser. "So you're saying you wouldn't fuck me without kissing first."

Fraser felt his face heat, but he simply nodded. "It's not in my nature."

"So—I'm just trying to get this straight here—so it's not that you wanted to kiss me," Ray said slowly. "It's just a part of the package deal: airline tickets, hotel accommodation, and three meals a day, all inclusive."

Fraser's stomach clenched at the look in Ray's eye. "Something like that," he murmured, and kissed him again, wet and hungry and sweet.

"You're one hell of a travel agent, Fraser," said Ray breathlessly. He shifted his weight to the side, and winced, but his gaze was dark and intent. "You know, it's kind of unfair how I'm butt naked here except for the duck, and you're still covered up like a nun."

"Ray." Fraser shut his eyes, suddenly terribly afraid of misstepping and ruining everything. "Are you—?"

He felt a rasp of stubble on his neck, the soft press of lips, Ray's breath uneven in his ear, and he trembled. "I am if you are," said Ray huskily. Another press of lips, wetter this time. Tongue licking a path up to his earlobe. "Are you?"

"Ray." Fraser looked up, torn between fear and laughter and passion. "I'm not convinced you're in any position to be making decis—"

"Fraser." And now Ray was staring at him with a wild light in his eye. "Get this stupid duck out of my ass and fuck me."

Instinctively obedient, Fraser shrugged his suspenders aside, and stripped his undershirt over his head, but couldn't prevent himself from protesting. "Ray, surely we should talk about th—"

"Please." Ray rolled back onto his front. "I'll do anything, I'll give you—jesus, take my car. I don't care. Just—"

His frantic outburst cut off suddenly when Fraser bent forward and licked his way down Ray's spine, from the hollow between his shoulderblades down the curve of his lumbar, and further yet, until he encountered the duck's yellow body. He licked along the tight stretch of Ray's anus, where skin met plastic, tasting lubricant and soap and skin. Ray shuddered and groaned loudly.

"Are you all right?" The duck appeared to be wedged tight. Fraser stroked the back of Ray's legs, spreading them wide, his thumbs brushing the sensitive areas of Ray's inner thighs and then straying further up to the root of his penis, behind his scrotum. Ray shuddered again. "Sorry," said Fraser instantly.

"Christ, Fraser," he breathed. He twisted his head around and pushed up against Fraser's hands. "I gotta—" He winced again. "Now. Just—do it."

This seemed as good a time as any. Fraser found the lubricant on the floor beside the bed, applied it liberally to the affected area. "Ready?" he said, but he didn't wait for an answer. With one hand holding Ray's hip in a reassuring, if somewhat slippery grip, he carefully rotated the duck's body until it was in what he judged to be the most promising position. Ray's breath came hard and fast, but he didn't say anything. "All right, Ray. Take a deep breath. Good. Now let it out slowly, and try to stay relaxed." And Fraser firmly angled the duck's body, to allow for the duck's bill, and maneuvered it free.

"Jesus!" Ray slumped on the bed, limp as a Salvador Dali clock. "Jesus Christ!" It wasn't entirely obvious from his demeanor whether he was still aroused or merely relieved.

Fraser stood up and placed the duck on the dresser, wondering as he did so how the thought of using it sexually had even occurred to Ray: there was nothing erotic about it that he could see. He peeled off his latex glove and dropped it in the wastepaper basket by the window, and then stood awkwardly watching Ray, unsure what would happen next. Fraser's body teemed with desire, but he was used to ignoring that. Physiology wasn't rational, and his partnership with Ray was far more important to him than any fleeting bodily release.

Had Ray meant what he'd implied—I am if you are—or had that merely been the heat of the moment? Fraser had, after all, set out to arouse Ray, and had been successful to some degree, but Fraser was aware enough of his own complicated responses to the various women in his life to know that a physical reaction didn't necessarily indicate an emotional attachment. It briefly occurred to him that a man who was prepared to be intimate with a bath toy might welcome any human companionship, even if it wasn't the kind he'd seek out by preference, but he instantly dismissed that thought as unworthy of both of them.

"Fraser," said Ray, in the tone he used when he was trying to sound nonchalant against all his natural inclinations.

Fraser straightened his posture and cleared his throat. "Yes, Ray?"

"I can hear the cogs whizzing around in your head from here. Stop it." Ray pushed himself off the bed, and walked with some apparent discomfort toward him. Ray's back was to the light, and Fraser couldn't see his face. However, it was obvious even from his silhouette that he was—stimulated.

"Well, forgive me if I think it's wise for us to stop and think about this," snapped Fraser, averting his gaze from Ray's pelvic region. "To find out where we stand, before we irrevocably—"

Ray's teeth gleamed in the half-light. He place a warm hand on Fraser's bare shoulder, and Fraser closed his eyes and swallowed.

"Before we what?" said Ray softly. "Before we get, uh, intimate? You licked my ass, Fraser. How much more intimate are you planning on getting? Because in my book, that's—"

"That was purely medicinal," Fraser interrupted.

Ray's hand slid to the back of Fraser's neck. His palm was damp. "Right," he said. "So you'd have done that for anyone. For Welsh or—or Frannie."

"I hardly imagine that Lieutenant Welsh would call me, in the unlikely event that he found himself in such a predicament," said Fraser, his resolve weakening. Ray was naked and hot, and standing barely an inch away. Ray was giving every indication of sexual interest. Ray was coming onto him.

"You liked it," Ray said, and Fraser detected a quiver of uncertainty in the declaration, and couldn't withhold the reassurance Ray needed.

"Yes," he admitted. He rocked forward—or maybe Ray leaned in—and Ray's chest grazed his own. Fraser bent his head and whispered in Ray's ear as though it were a secret (and it was; it was a secret he'd carried hidden away for months now), "I wanted to." He slid his arms around Ray's waist and pulled him close—glorious skin and warmth, Ray's body trembling, Ray's arms winding around him, Ray's erection pressed against his thigh, thick and hard through Fraser's uniform pants. Fraser turned his head and closed his lips on Ray's earlobe, and sucked gently, struggling to control himself, to take this slowly.

Ray clenched his hand in Fraser's hair, and dragged his head back so they were eye to eye. "This is it, Frase," he said, and kissed him, a kiss as sweet as cotton candy that spoke of everything Fraser had dreamed of: longing and romance and love.

And it was easy, as though they'd practiced this. As though their bodies already knew each other. Fraser relaxed, trusting Ray utterly, knowing that nothing Ray asked of him would be too much. He would do anything—

"Fuck," Ray said into Fraser's mouth. "Me." Ray's fingers slipped beneath his waistband, crossing the border to dark secret places.

Fraser shook his head. "You're sore." He skimmed a gentle hand over Ray's rear, which had been so misused this evening.

"Don't care." Ray pushed him toward the bed.

Fraser's desire was dizzying, but he struggled to be logical. "There are, ah, there are other things we can do."

"No." Ray canted his hips toward Fraser, his penis heavy between them. "No, I want you to. I want you, Frase. Want to have you."

His urgency left no room for hesitation. "All right," Fraser said, his heart hammering. "But we have to be careful. Slow. I don't want to—"

"Trust me." Ray touched his cheek, pulled back to gaze into his eyes. "It's okay."

Fraser's breath caught, and he pressed his mouth to Ray's, letting his eyes fall shut, inhaling Ray. Ray's hands fumbled at the front of his pants, confounded by the complicated fastenings. Finally giving in and just tugging at the waistband in frustration.

Fraser broke off the kiss, and rested his forehead on Ray's shoulder while he composed himself. "The, ah, my boots," he said, incoherently.

"Right. Yeah." Ray took a deep breath. "Okay. Boots."

Fraser reluctantly disengaged, and sat on the side of his bed to remove his boots. Despite the loosened laces, they were tight about his ankles—or perhaps his haste was making him clumsy—but he managed to pry them off, followed by his socks.

"Pants, too," Ray prompted him, and Fraser stood up again so he could comply. His erection was blatant despite his underwear, and self-consciousness washed through him for a moment. Then Ray was on him, pushing him onto the bed, and all else was forgotten. Ray stripped off his boxers and handed him a small foil packet that he'd collected from somewhere.

Fraser put the condom on the nightstand, and lay back on the bed, pulling Ray into his arms. Oh God, he felt wonderful. It had been too long since Fraser had lain with anyone. Far too long. And this was Ray—whom he trusted, for whom he'd longed, and who was now miraculously returning his desire. Fraser wondered how he could have been so blind to Ray's feelings all this time. Unless—

"Ray, is this—?" he struggled to put his question into words. "That is, I didn't realize you, you felt this way. About me."

Ray blew out an impatient breath, then seemed to rein himself in. "Okay, okay," he murmured to himself. "Okay, the Mountie wants to talk first. Okay, sure. Yeah, Frase. Yeah." He rolled off Fraser and propped up his head, rubbing circles on Fraser's chest with his other hand. "I've, uh—since the first day we, uh, we met. Thought you knew. Christ, I thought everyone knew. Thought it was following me around in giant neon letters: Joanie loves Chachi." His gaze dropped, and he smiled ruefully. "Tried to play it cool, you know. Didn't know if you—And didn't want to put you in the hotspot, seeing as how we gotta work together."

Fraser hesitated. "What about—?" He cleared his throat, but couldn't make himself say her name.

Ray understood, though, and thank God, seemed to consider the question fair, too. "Stella?" He shrugged. "I dunno. I guess for a while I thought maybe I was on the rebound with you. I got kind of confused." His hand slid lower, and curled around Fraser's erection. "It's not that," he added, "in case you're wondering. It's you. You and me." He squeezed, and then stroked up and down. "And god, Fraser, can we just—"

Fraser cupped his head and pulled him down and kissed him, their bodies colliding and sliding together, hot and satisfying. He reached for Ray's penis to mirror his actions. Before long, Fraser was fighting for restraint, determined not to give in to orgasm yet. He pulled away from Ray's grasp and licked down his torso, tugging at his nipples with his teeth, and stopping to investigate Ray's navel. It was such decadent pleasure to enjoy Ray's body like this, sinuously laid out beneath him. Fraser thought he might burst with gratitude and desire.

He slid his mouth over Ray's erection, reveling in Ray's gasped response, the hot solid weight on his tongue, and the salty tang of pre-ejaculate. He sucked, increasing pressure until Ray moaned and thrust up into his mouth. But then Ray reached for him, pulled him up so they were face to face. "Please, Frase," Ray said hoarsely. "I want—I gotta know how it feels."

And maybe that would be the closest he'd ever get to an explanation for the mystery of the rubber duck. Regardless, Fraser kissed Ray's mouth, silently acquiescing, and then rolled him over, and pressed kisses down his spine to his abused, reddened entrance where, overcome with tenderness, Fraser licked gently, licked away lubricant and the taste of plastic. He fancied he was soothing each nerve-ending individually, but Ray's writhing and the colorful language that filled the air suggested otherwise.

Fraser took the condom and rolled it on. "I doubt I'll last long," he said. "I warn you now."

"Don't care," said Ray, and thrust his rear into the air in invitation. Fraser held his hip, and positioned himself, and slid in as slowly as he was able, instinct and a tumult of desire urging him to make haste.

"Oh God, Ray," he ground out, barely able to form words.

"Jesus," Ray moaned. "Oh jesus, Fraser. Yeah."

Fraser wondered, hysterically, whether he ought to complete the Trinity and invoke the Holy Ghost, too. The thought brought to mind a fleeting image of his father, truncated hat in hand and wearing a prunish expression. That was enough to reduce Fraser's ardor so he could plunge into Ray again and again, without coming quite yet.

The welcome of Ray's body, the passion welling up in Fraser, and the heat of their coupling quickly drove parental visitations from his mind. A mixed blessing: soon he was leaning over Ray, his hands on Ray's back, driving in steadily. Staving off orgasm was like trying to stop an avalanche. He clutched Ray's hips, and his thrusts turned ragged, and he shattered. For a long moment, his body shook with the intensity of a snowstorm, wind whipping his senses to a frenzy, leaving him torn out by his roots.

Ray was still pushing back against him, working himself on Fraser's decline. Fraser gently stopped him, and pulled out. He kissed Ray's entrance again to lessen the loss, pushing his tongue in instead, and took advantage of the way Ray's hips were angled in the air to grasp his penis and stroke him there as well. The combination made short work of Ray's control, and he trembled and groaned, and spent himself, spurting ejaculate over his sheets and Fraser's thumb and forefinger.

Fraser raised his head, pressed his sweaty forehead to the small of Ray's back, and they collapsed in a heap, panting.

A few minutes later, Ray shrugged Fraser off him, and rolled onto his side so he could see his face. "Hey."

Fraser smiled, and pushed Ray's damp hair off his forehead. "Hi." Ray looked drowsy and relaxed, and Fraser couldn't help kissing him: soft, lingering, and sweet. "I should go," he said reluctantly. "I left Turnbull in charge of the caterers."

"Don't," said Ray, running the tips of his fingers along Fraser's collarbone so lightly that it tickled.

"I—I'll phone," said Fraser, weakening. "I'll see if they need me." He sat up, looking away from Ray so that he could think clearly, and dialed the Consulate.

"Canadian Consulate," Turnbull answered, sounding harried. "Constable Renfield Turnbull, at your service. Please hold."

"Turnbull!" Fraser interjected, before Turnbull could escape. "It's Constable Fraser."

"Oh Constable, I'm so glad you called! The mascarpone doesn't have enough vanilla and the caterers simply refuse to listen to me. The fruit salad is sour, and the meringues crumble as soon as one takes a bite. The antique tablecloth is on the verge of ruin! And Inspector Thatcher keeps asking your whereabouts."

Fraser sighed, only partially distracted by Ray's hand closing around his wrist. "I'll be there as soon as is practicable," he told Turnbull, and hung up before the litany of woes grew any longer. "I have to go."

Ray's grip on his wrist tightened. "You want me to drive you?"

"That's quite all right, Ray," said Fraser automatically. "I have legs. I can walk."

Ray sat up and shook him gently by the shoulder. "I know that, you idiot. I said want, not need. You want me to drive you?"

Fraser kissed him quickly, and stood up, searching for his clothes. "Stay here, Ray. I'll be back as soon as I can. That is, if you—"

"Yeah." Ray lay back and watched him dress. "Yeah, I want you to. Want to wake up with you, Frase."

Fraser swallowed the lump in his throat, and smiled. He sat down on the edge of the bed to lace up his boots, then went to the dresser, and paused, regarding the duck. "Are you sure about this, Ray?" he said, gravely. "I'd hate to think I was merely a substitute for your little yellow friend."

"Hardee har har," said Ray, climbing out of bed and wrapping his arms around Fraser. He kissed him hard. "See that? That was just a substitute for me punching you in the face. Get outta here."

Fraser lowered his gaze and grinned. He kissed Ray again, and went to the door.

"And come back soon," said Ray. "You can bring Dief this time, if you want."

"Yes," said Fraser. "I'll—we'll be back as soon as I can get away. And I'll, ah, I'll endeavor to bring you some, ah, dessert." He didn't stop to see whether Ray had cottoned on to the double entendre. He let himself out into the night, and stood on the street corner for a long minute, breathing deep, and thinking that perhaps, just perhaps, if Chicago had brought him love, he could learn to love Chicago.

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