Thanks: Many many thanks to Sprat and Mergatrude for beta
A hand slides down my spine, warm and lazy, and my eyes flicker open long enough to register the red 3:28am on the bedside clock and then fall closed again. It's Vecchio's hand, I can tell. Fraser's is heavier, thicker somehow. Politer. I smile at the thought, because there was nothing polite about the way Fraser was digging his fingers into my back earlier while I fucked him.
It's been two weeks since Fraser moved in and none of us has had more than four or five hours sleep a night, but I'm too juiced—horny and warm and reveling in it—to care. And the others feel the same. I can tell by the way Vecchio wakes me with his hands and mouth, from the breathy murmurs Fraser's making as I move into his arms. I can feel his smile, his body responding to me already, his cock pressing against my stomach.
It's stupid to sleep when we can have this—more than I ever dreamed of, hotter than I could've imagined.
Vecchio winds his arms around me and presses his cock against my ass like a promise, like a kiss, and for a moment I imagine looking down at us from above. Three grown men naked and sweaty under dark blue sheets, waking and shifting lazily against each other, stroking whatever we can reach, working ourselves up for another round.
I groan under my breath, stretch myself awake, and push back against Vecchio.
At lunchtime I swing by the 2-7 to see Kowalski and Fraser. According to my boss, I'm making contact with an undercover agent on the South Side but I haven't made the call yet and what diVanna doesn't know won't keep him up nights. I figure the meet can wait another hour or two, and I've got more important priorities. When I lay eyes on Kowalski and Fraser, my pulse ratchets up and everything else flies out of my head.
We've been fucking pretty much non-stop since we convinced Fraser our queen-size bed was big enough for three and I'm walking on air, my body clumsy and warm, my brain like cotton candy. I can't keep the stupid grin off my face. I had to tell diVanna I won a couple of grand at the races to explain my mood, and even then he barked at me to get out of the office and make myself useful.
Which is what Welsh is telling Kowalski when I turn up. "We're not paying you to sit at your desk and play tic-tac-toe, detective," he snaps from the doorway of his office, waving a brown file folder in Kowalski's direction. "Get out there, work your snitches and dredge up a lead on the Maxwell case by five o'clock tonight or the next case involving kittens and little old ladies will have your name on it. Do I make myself clear?"
Fraser's face is bland with embarrassment and his fingers tighten on his brown leather jacket, bunched up on his knee. Kowalski looks too out of it to care he's getting an earful. Sleep deprivation's always turned him into a mushball, I remember from when him and me first got together. But he says, "Yes, sir," and sits up straighter.
Welsh scowls at him for a moment, then snorts. He goes back into the office and slams the door.
Kowalski and Fraser exchange glances, Fraser frowning and Kowalski giving him a look that's got nothing to do with cases or snitches or any kind of work.
I come over and lean my elbow on the filing cabinet. "You guys, too, huh?"
Fraser twists around in his chair to see me and his eyes light up. Not like they weren't happy before, but that look's special for me and I smile back before I can stop myself. "What's that, Ray?" he asks.
"Getting your chops busted for being off your game," I say. "Someone's gotta invent a new kind of leave for this kind of thing. Falling in love leave."
"Horoman leave," Kowalski offers, propping his chin on his hand.
"I think you mean 'hormone'," Fraser says, and then suggests, "Reunion leave."
"Insatiable lust leave," I say under my breath, distracted by Kowalski's jaw tightening as he swallows, and the way Fraser's sweater clings to his shoulders. "I should've known better than to come by."
"Yeah," says Kowalski. "Save the coming for later. Apparently we got work to do." He rubs his face and sighs.
"Just make sure you stay out of the line of fire," I say. "Fraser, you'll keep an eye on him, right?"
"Of course," says Fraser, and that makes me feel better even though I know Fraser's as likely to get Kowalski into hot water as he is to rescue him from it.
"Okay," I say. "I gotta go call a guy about an uzi."
Mr. Maxwell turns out to be a sturdy middle-aged gentleman with a perpetual glare who inexplicably believes that his name gives him the right to murder his acquaintances with a silver hammer. Through a series of fortunate coincidences, we manage to track him down in the freight tunnels under the city, and since the only weapon he's carrying is the hammer in question, Ray easily apprehends and cuffs him, although there's a hairy moment shortly thereafter when the two of them come close to being mown down by an eighteen-wheel goods-carrier and I have to shove them both out of its path.
In the process, Ray tears a hole in the knee of his pants, and he takes his annoyance about this out on Maxwell, threatening him with all manner of physical violence until I intervene and point out that he still hasn't read him his rights.
"Oh, right," says Ray, glassy-eyed and only semi-conscious. I tap him on the head to activate brain function, and then he rattles off the Miranda at top speed. "Do you understand these rights?"
"John Lennon told me to do it," says Maxwell.
"Newsflash, Lennon's dead," Ray tells him.
"I think you'll find that the song in question was written and performed by Sir Paul McCartney," I add, "and also that The Beatles constitute neither a moral nor legal authority in the United States."
"What about Come Together?" asks Ray, with a gleam in his eye.
I blush. "Well, yes, Ray, that particular song was written and sung by John Lennon."
Welsh grudgingly congratulates me on the Maxwell collar, and once we've done the paperwork, Fraser and me head home for a shower and some pre-nookie making out. Vecchio gets home an hour later and finds us both half naked on the couch with our cocks sticking out of our pants and definitely no closer to deciding who's going to call out for dinner. He makes a choked sound, drops his coat on the floor and joins right in.
It's perfect. It's all I ever wanted. Which doesn't explain why I'm lying awake at one in the morning, sandwiched between Vecchio and Fraser, my heart pounding a hundred miles an hour as I get my breath back from the latest in a long line of mind-melting orgasms, and I say out of nowhere, "This isn't working."
The others turn to stone, and Vecchio's fingers dig into my hip like pincers. "What do you mean, this isn't working?" he asks. "This is working fine. It's perfect."
I let my head lie heavy on the pillow for a moment, struggling between dropping off to sleep and hashing this out here and now. Then I turn to face him. "I don't know about you, but me, I need more than four hours' sleep a night."
Behind me, Fraser says quietly, "You have to admit, it's crowded. Queen-size beds aren't really designed for extended relationships."
Vecchio scowls at me like it's all my fault. "Fine," he says, "you don't like it, go sleep on the couch."
I put my hand on his shoulder to make peace.
Fraser says, "I have my bedroll with me." He starts pushing the covers out of the way.
I reach back with my free hand and flap it around until I grab him. "No, Fraser. No, you don't have to—"
I'm torn. Half of me feels like shit at the idea of kicking Fraser out of the bed—we only just got him here. The other half of me knows that if I don't get a decent night's sleep pretty soon, I'm going to die. I can't do this anymore, not the way we have been. Not and face down murderous perps and stomach-ulcery Welsh.
Fraser leans over me and Ray, and says calmly, "It's no trouble, Ray. In the interests of us all getting a decent night's sleep—"
"See what you did, Kowalski?" Vecchio sounds pissed. "Benny, get back in the bed. Lie down and go to sleep."
I'm too tired to deal. I tighten my hold on both of them. "Yeah, Frase. You shouldn't have to—"
But Fraser pries my hand from his wrist, kisses it, and then gets up and walks to the door. "Goodnight, Ray."
I slump back, already half asleep. "Jeez," I say, guiltily as the door shuts, "we gotta get a bigger bed."
Vecchio's still tense and pissed, but then he lets out a long deep sigh and says, "Not just the bed, either."
"How do you mean?" I move my head to a cool place on the pillow and settle my foot against Vecchio's, like holding hands but less likely to lead to anything I don't have the energy for.
He rubs his toe along the sole of my foot. "Closet's getting pretty full."
I smile without opening my eyes. "Are you talking closets or closets?"
"Clothes." He sounds tired. "Storage. Maybe we should be looking for a bigger place—"
"Maybe," I agree, moving closer. It's nice having him to myself again for a change, even if I can barely keep my eyes open. I rest my hand low on my belly, rub it dry, and say drowsily, "Hey, you ever miss when it was just us—just the two of us?"
In less than a second, Vecchio's wide awake. I can feel it without either of us moving. "What are you saying?"
I struggle to stay conscious. "Nothing, nothing, nothing. I'm not—I'm not saying anything." I pull him into my arms. "I'm good with this. I just—you know what I mean?" I nip the side of his neck, and murmur, "Not having to be considerate or make sure everyone's on board. Sometimes this thing with all of us is—it's hard work."
Vecchio starts to protest, so I put my fingers on his lips.
"Don't get me wrong—I don't want to give it up, either. I don't want to lose either of you. Not gonna happen." I roll over and pull his arm across my chest so he's holding me. "I just miss it being easy sometimes, you know?"
Vecchio's quiet for a long time and I start to drift off, and then he says, "Yeah, I know."
I tighten his arms around me like a seatbelt and turn my head—can't see him in the dark, but he kisses my cheek.
"So what do we do?" he asks. "If we tell Fraser that, he'll pack up and move back to Igloosville faster than you can blink."
"I know." I shake my head. "I don't know. We sleep on it. I'm pretty sure I'm thinking in circles—don't think I've ever been this tired before in my life."
I bring it up over the breakfast table. Fraser's looking better after his decent night's sleep, all bright-eyed and pink-cheeked and wholesome. He's digging into his oatmeal, apparently completely blind to how much I want to push him against the wall and peel him out of his shirt and slide my hand down the front of his jeans. And Kowalski's picking distractedly at his cereal, his hair sticking up all over the place. I wrap my hands around my coffee to keep from going over and smoothing it down and biting the back of his neck.
Instead I lean against the counter and announce it like it's already decided. "So, we need a bigger place."
Kowalski glances up at me, nods, then looks at Fraser. "And a bigger bed."
Fraser puts down his spoon and clears his throat. "I've been thinking about that, actually. Please don't take this the wrong way, because I can't—There's no way to express how much I appreciate—"
"Fraser!" Kowalski scowls a warning at him.
"Well, I do appreciate it," says Fraser calmly, staring him down. "And I hope you'll be kind enough to have me visit again soon. But I think it's time I went home now."
I almost drop my coffee. "What?"
"No, Fraser!" Kowalski springs to his feet, his fists clenched. "No way." He pulls Fraser out of his chair. "We just got you here. We just—" He looks like he wants to shake him.
Fraser disengages Kowalski's hands, and I come up behind Kowalski and physically, obviously take his side. Fraser looks surprised. "I'm on vacation. My CO is expecting me back on Monday, and—Ray, Ray, this isn't sustainable in the long term. Surely you see that."
"Yeah," says Kowalski, bouncing on his toes in frustration. "That's what we were just saying. We need to make it sustainable. We can't just let you go again. I can't."
I step around him and confront Fraser face to face, man to man, drawing on our years of friendship as well as the last couple of weeks of being even closer. "I can't believe you'd leave, after everything."
Fraser still looks baffled by our objections. "Ray, I don't belong here."
That makes me furious. "Bullshit." I fist my hand in his shirt.
"In Chicago," he explains reasonably, touching my wrist to calm me down. "I have no legal right to stay, even if—"
"Even if," says Kowalski behind me. "Even if you wanted to."
I step back so I'm not blocking him out. So it's the two of us facing Fraser again. Kowalski rakes his hand through his hair and adds, "I don't believe this. A few raunchy nights with us and it's wham, bam, thank you kindly, Ray."
"You know that's not what I meant." Fraser folds his arms and scratches his eyebrow, buying time.
But I'm not letting him off the hook that easy. "Kowalski's right. We're not letting you go, Benny. Not now." I try to make a joke of it. "Even if we have to tie you up to keep you."
"Don't tempt me," says Kowalski, and it's only half innuendo.
Fraser sighs. "Believe me, nothing would bring me greater pleasure than to stay with you, but I don't believe you've thought this through." He looks at me. "What would your family say?"
That gives me a moment's pause, the thought of breaking the news to Ma, but then I lift my chin. For these guys, I'll risk it. Anyway, it's not like I have to live in the same house with her anymore, and I know Ma already loves Fraser like a son. "They got used to Kowalski, they can get used to anything," I tell him.
"Hey!" Kowalski thumps me on the arm, then goes over to Fraser and cups the side of his neck. "Fraser, you're a good guy. You're like a beacon of goodness. No one could look at you and think you were doing something wrong."
Fraser frowns at that. "I won't live a lie, not even for you, Ray."
Kowalski shakes his head violently. "No, no, I didn't mean lying, that's not what I meant. Jeez, it's too early for me to make any kind of sense. Vecchio?"
I pour him a cup of coffee and then turn back to Fraser. "Leave my family to me, Benny. They'll come around. And you can bet your boots, once they do, they'll be telling me for the rest of my life I don't deserve either of you."
Kowalski sets his cup on the table and slings his arm around Fraser's shoulder. "He's right. Everyone'll be so happy you're staying, they won't care who's doing who. You got no idea how much we missed you, Fraser."
"No idea." I stare him down, daring him to argue.
"So stay." Kowalski squeezes Fraser's shoulder, then lets him go and reaches for his coffee again. "That's settled. Now we just have to figure out the, you know, the logistics."
"Bigger place," I say. "Green card. Easy."
Fraser looks from me to Kowalski and back again, and I realize he really wasn't expecting this. He knew we loved him, but he had no idea we wanted him for keeps. He opens his mouth to speak, snaps it shut again, and then says, "Well, it's certainly something to think about."
Kowalski and I exchange glances. Push, says Kowalski silently. I shake my head. Give him time.
I spend the day in a daze. It's not merely the idea of a permanent move to Chicago that throws me, but my gradual acceptance that Ray and Ray want me to make that move. I'd assumed their relationship was essentially exclusive—that they'd opened their hearts and their arms to me temporarily, on a generous whim, and that I should relish the intimacy while I could. It wouldn't last.
It seems I was utterly mistaken. It's humbling to be wanted—to have them demand that I stay. Every time I catch Ray's eye across his desk at the station, my heartbeat accelerates and I have to look away before I betray myself to everyone in the room.
By the time Ray arrives to join us for burgers at the diner down the road, it takes all my self-control not to drag both of them into the supply closet and molest them.
Instead I find myself sitting in a booth next to Ray Kowalski and across from Ray Vecchio, who asks without preliminaries, "You done thinking yet?"
Before I can answer, the waitress arrives to take our order. She's in her late fifties and her arches have fallen, but there are signs of laughter around her eyes. Her name tag says Judy. She rests her weight on one hip and holds her pen poised. "What'll you have, boys?"
"That depends." Tension written on Ray Kowalski's face and in the lines of body. His hands are unscrewing the lid of the salt shaker, seemingly of their own accord. He glances at me. "Are we celebrating?"
I take the pieces of the salt shaker from him and reassemble it without spilling a grain. The decision has made itself—all I need do is tell them.
I place the salt shaker carefully in the center of the table next to the pepper, and glance from one to the other. My friends, my partners. I feel my pulse speed up. "It would seem so."
There's a split second of silence, and then Ray Kowalski blows out a breath. "Thank God," he says, taking my hand despite Judy and all the other diner patrons. "When you couldn't look at me all morning, I thought we were going to have to handcuff you to something to keep you here." His grip on my hand tightens.
"No escape now," says Ray Vecchio. "We've got witnesses." He grins up at Judy. "You heard him, right?"
"I don't know what I heard," she says gruffly, "but it weren't your order." She winks at him, though, and a smile lifts the corner of her mouth. I'm sure she doesn't understand the import of our conversation but it's clear that nor does she begrudge us our private dramas and delight. Her kindness feels akin to an official welcome from the city of Chicago.
I hope Dief will forgive this third—and hopefully final—relocation. I suspect he'll find, as I do, that there are compensations to living in the city.
That evening we make love. Ray Kowalski pins me down with one hand on my shoulder, one clasping my wrists above my head, while Ray Vecchio penetrates me with deep, even strokes. Both of them are claiming me, separately and together. It's extraordinary, the pleasure is almost too intense to bear, and I cry out helplessly, aroused as much by the strength of their love for me as by the exquisite sensations they arouse in me.
When Ray Vecchio is spent, Ray Kowalski kneels across my chest—still holding my wrists in place, running his free hand up and down my arm—and thrusts into my mouth, while Ray Vecchio strokes my erection until I come. It sounds coarse to describe it thus, when it's so much more than mechanics and bodily fluids. I feel spiritually connected to both of them, a feeling that stays with me and stays with me.
Fraser peels his body away from mine and starts to get out of bed, to go be one with his sleeping roll, but I pull him back down and wrap myself around him. "Don't go."
He rubs his face against the side of my head, then murmurs in that deep post-sex voice of his, "If I stay, it'll be at the expense of a good night's sleep."
"So?" I'm feeling stubborn about this. I want them both with me, and I don't want Fraser to be stuck on the outside. We already came too close to losing him.
"We can take turns in the bedroll until we figure something out," says Vecchio. "You went last night, me tonight."
I blink, surprised Vecchio is even considering it. "You'd sleep on the floor?"
"I'll take my turn," says Vecchio. "I've camped out before, you know, in the actual outdoors. And it's only fair this way."
"It's really not necessary. I sleep better on my own." Fraser reaches across me and clasps his arm. "It's no hardship for me, Ray."
"Turning down a night in the sack alone with me, Frase?"
He smiles down at me, a curl of dark hair stuck to his sweaty forehead, and I don't think I've ever seen a better sight, and then he ducks his head and kisses me briefly. "I'm afraid so."
"Wise move," says Vecchio. "He kicks."
Fraser laughs when I deny it, so I have to wrestle him back down onto the bed, but Vecchio's distracted. By the time Fraser cries uncle thanks to some dirty tricks I happen to know, Vecchio's sitting up, pillow at his back like he means business.
"When did we last shoot some pool?" he asks.
"The day after you moved in." I let Fraser go and sit back on my heels. "Vecchio?"
He sighs and gives me that sweet resigned smile that gets me in the gut every time. "That's what I figured."
"You love that pool table," I say, even though I know he's right. We have to make space for Fraser somehow. We don't all fit in the bed. And the table's gathering dust in our tiny spare room that's really little more than a walk-in closet.
"I love the idea of the pool table." Vecchio shakes his head and I can see him letting it go. "One day maybe we'll get a place big enough that we can actually use it—hold the cues horizontal without smashing a window. In the meantime—it did fine in Ma's basement for twenty years."
Fraser rolls onto his side to face Vecchio. "Ray, I don't want you to make any sacrifices on my account. I assure you, I'm perfectly content—"
"Long term, Benny." Vecchio slides down until they're face to face. "We're talking forever, even when you get old and your back hurts, and none of us is in any shape to take a turn camping out." He kisses Fraser and I can't look away. My throat aches. "Anyway," Vecchio adds huskily, pulling away, "no boyfriend of mine sleeps on the floor."
Fraser leans in and gives him one more brief kiss. "For tonight, I'm afraid I have to insist."
I know what he means. After last night's taste of quality sleep, I can't stomach the thought of not getting some decent shuteye tonight either. "We'll owe you," I tell him, giving in.
Fraser pulls me down and kisses me goodnight, his hands cupping my face tenderly. When he lets me go I sigh and lie back, so tired I don't even hear him leave the room.
"So, you're staying. That's settled," Kowalski says over breakfast the next morning. "The next question is how do we get you back at the 2-7 for real. Officially, I mean."
"Green card," I say, repeating myself from yesterday. "Then—I don't know, Benny. You want to join the CPD?" It's hard to picture.
"Actually, Ray, after Ray and I captured Muldoon, the RCMP offered me my choice of postings."
"Even better. But you can't go back to sentry duty, Benny," I tell him. "You're too good for that."
"How about some kind of permanent official liaison deal?" Kowalski says. "Take care of all those cross-border cases, keep in good with the Feds." He elbows me. "Help people. Help us clean up this town."
Fraser nods slowly, like he's trying to absorb this idea. Then a shudder runs through him, and I step close and wrap my arms around him. "It's okay, Benny." I kiss his temple. "It's all gonna be okay."
Tony and Maria know a guy, Sol, who's got a truck. Kowalski leaves for work, and Sol and Fraser and me manhandle the pool table down the stairs and into the alley around the corner where the truck's parked. I put my hand on the rosewood and say goodbye to it, and then I don't look back. When I moved in with Kowalski, the pool table was one of my conditions. It was a symbol of something. But now I look at Fraser, his hair shining in the sunlight and his shirtsleeves rolled up over his forearms, and none of my symbols mean a goddamned thing next to what I got.
We go back upstairs and I look around the dusty shoebox of a spare room and clap my hands together. "Next step, furniture."
Somehow the three of us have reached an unspoken agreement that this will be Fraser's room, somewhere he can get some peace and quiet when the city's too much—or when we are. I'm determined to make it nice for him.
"All right." Fraser looks wary. "It's not a large room, Ray."
"Hey, what do you take me for—Frankie Zuko?" I know what he wants, and it's not like I'm going to force big old antiques on him. "I'm talking a bed and a dresser, nothing fancy."
And sure enough, he relaxes at that, nods, and then backs me up against the wall and kisses me while his hands work their way into my clothes, touching me, making me crazy.
We don't make it down to Bassett's furniture store until a couple of hours later.
I finish unpacking my rucksack into the new dresser in the corner, straighten the thick blue rug Ray insisted on buying for me—soon to turn blue-gray with wolf fur, no doubt—and sit on the edge of the bed. I have laughably few possessions here. I'll have to go north to get the rest and Dief, but at least now I've a home to come back to, warm and right. I look around. The walls are bare, the curtains slightly tattered, but it won't take much to make it cozy.
There's a light knock on the door, and Ray and Ray file into the room with packages in their hands.
"We got you something," says Ray Vecchio.
My heart swells. "More? You've already—"
"You're rattling around in here like a pinball, Benny." Ray hands me a large soft parcel.
Ray Kowalski drops his own package on top of it. It's smaller and heavier. "You can pay us back in sexual favors."
"Oh, is that how this works?" I grin down at the gifts in my lap.
He leans against the wall and folds his arms. "Better believe it."
They watch while I open the presents. Ray Vecchio has found a warm patchwork quilt in jewel colors. I spread it on the bed and the room is instantly brighter and homier. Then I open the parcel from Ray Kowalski to find a dream-catcher made of string and car parts, clumsily woven but still unmistakable.
"It's certainly original," I say, examining it. In place of an eagle's feather is a scrap of tan vinyl, presumably rescued from a car's upholstery.
"It's the, uh, industrial urban variety," Ray explains. "You like it?"
"It's perfect." I push the curtain aside and hang it in the window, where it casts spider web shadows across the floor. It's dusk, and the sky is orange and gray. I look out across the parking lot to the street, across the road to other apartment blocks. Kitchen lights blink on. "Actually," I say, and I turn to face them, Ray and Ray, both of them so dear. "Actually, I was hoping you'd help me."
"Anything," says Ray Kowalski without hesitation.
"What do you need?" asks Ray Vecchio.
"I thought we might take the bed for a test drive," I explain solemnly. "I've never had a new bed before, and there's an old Inuit custom whereby—"
They're both on me before I can finish, pulling me down and laughing, kissing me and touching me and each other. I kick the new quilt out of the way so it won't get stained, and we pull off our clothes, and glory in our nakedness and our need of each other. Our caresses are by turns urgent and luxuriously slow.
Afterwards, we lie tangled together, sweaty and panting. I shut my eyes and picture the city unfolding around us, complex geometric shapes, and the lake, and the millions of people who live here. I feel as though we're at the heart of it, as if we can create the world anew. It may be wishful thinking, it may be hubris, but it pleases me. I pull Ray Kowalski close and kiss Ray Vecchio's hand where it rests on my shoulder, profoundly grateful to them for giving me this—this blessed mix of companionship and solitude. Compared to my northern home, this world is unfamiliar and rife with unexpected dangers and challenges, but I've never shied from danger, and for all its appearance of hostility, Chicago offers warmth and honesty. I love my Rays for sharing it with me. I think perhaps they've saved my life.