Thanks: Many thanks to Brynn for beta
Notes: For keerawa
Ben lay awake listening to the sounds of the city night, barely muffled by the walls of his apartment. Sleep eluded him, and after half an hour he got up and went out onto the fire escape and sat at Eric's side.
Eric wasn't asleep either. He was cross-legged on his bedroll, with his back against the wall. "This air tastes like sweat and car exhaust."
"And old socks," Ben agreed, staring out with him at the darkened windows, apartment blocks and roofs. Beyond them, far in the distance, was home. Down the street the traffic lights changed yellow to red, then green. "I loved a thief once," he said. "It ended badly."
Eric's gaze didn't waver from the cityscape. "Who are you calling a thief, Mountie?"
Ben nodded, acknowledging the challenge. Still. "You've come a long way."
"For some prizes, no distance is too far. You know that." Eric rested his forearms on his knees and clasped his hands. "Besides, it's an opportunity to catch up with old friends."
"You have other acquaintances in Chicago?" asked Ben, deadpan.
Eric met his eye and smiled. "You once said you'd make a better wife than any woman. I didn't think you meant it."
Ben gave him an answering smile, remembering the week of summer days they'd spent together, camping in the woods. Then he sobered. "That was— a long time ago. I'm on a different path now."
"And a Mountie never strays from his path."
Eric shrugged, apparently taking this as Ben's final word. Accepting defeat far too easily for Ben's taste.
"He may, however, take a rest stop." Ben leaned subtly against Eric. "Time out to enjoy his journey."
The traffic lights changed again. A few blocks away, a car alarm sounded. Finally Eric spoke. "Your cop friend wouldn't mind?"
Ben looked to the north. "Ray and I are— No. He has no claim on me."
"Not yet," said Eric, annoyingly sure of himself.
Ben refused to be drawn. "What about David?"
"David is young and headstrong. He thinks only of the masks." Eric's gaze grew intent, focused on Ben, and Ben's pulse sped in anticipation.
"Well, then," he said, gesturing to the open window. "Would you like to come inside?"
"I can't sleep indoors," Eric reminded him.
Eric's hand landed lightly on Ben's shoulder, his thumb smoothing the cotton in a caress. Ben reached to touch his familiar face. There was a small, fresh scar by his eyebrow.
"It's good to see you again, my friend," said Ben, and kissed him lightly on the mouth.
Eric responded, taking charge in his usual way, and Ben met him gladly, holding his own. After some time, Eric broke the kiss. "The forest has been too quiet without your noisy footsteps."
They grinned, then kissed again, their hands slowly taking liberties, pulling aside clothing — in Ben's case, his union suit — until Ben pulled his mouth away. "There are public indecency laws in the city," he pointed out, softly. "Certain acts cannot be performed under the stars."
"I don't see any stars in this sky," Eric joked, and he licked into Ben's mouth, taking his leisurely time about it, feeding the fire between them. But when they stopped and rested, forehead to forehead, he conceded. "Inside, then."
He let Ben lead the way into the apartment. Down the street, the lights changed from yellow to red, then green.