Thanks: Thanks to mergatrude for beta
Notes: For the Superpower challenge on ds_flashfiction and for Sprat
The aniseed-scented smoke cleared and the tingling in Fraser's extremities subsided. Fraser took a deep, cleansing breath and opened his eyes.
Ray was sitting across from him, his eyes still screwed shut behind his glasses. He was an odd, neatened version of himself now, after Fraser's occupancy—fingernails pared, face shaven, hair slicked down, button-down shirt crisp and tucked into his jeans. He was almost unrecognizable.
"Ray," said Fraser, softly. "We're back."
Blue eyes flew open, and the tense lines around his mouth eased. "We're back," he echoed. "Thank Christ."
He caught Fraser's eye and flushed a deep red, and then sprang up and disappeared into the back of the magic shop. Bottles clanked. Emmanuelle had told them to make themselves at home, use whatever supplies were necessary to switch back to their own bodies, but Fraser wasn't sure appropriating the beer from her private refrigerator was in the spirit of her invitation. Still, he wasn't Ray's keeper, not any longer.
Ray parted the beaded curtain in the doorway and stood studying Fraser intently while he consumed his drink.
Under his regard, Fraser touched his own face self-consciously, noting the rasp of an imperfect shave. The rough texture felt like a souvenir left by Ray, a reminder that only minutes ago Ray had inhabited this body, breathed with these lungs, seen with these eyes and felt with these fingers. It was painfully intimate.
When Ray lowered the beer bottle, his mouth had a bitter curve to it.
Fraser climbed to his feet, aware of slight dehydration, the ache in his lower back more pronounced than usual, and stepped towards the counter. "Ray?"
Ray held up his hand, a sharp gesture forbidding him to continue. The understanding which had flowed between them, drawing them more and more tightly into each other's orbits over the last few days seemed a dream now, more distant with every swallow of beer Ray took.
"I can't," said Ray, flatly. "I know what I said before, but—" He shook his head and folded an arm across his chest. "I can't." He took another gulp of beer. The bottle was nearly empty.
Fraser's heart sank. "May I ask why?"
"You'll say it's stupid." Ray was hunched and bristling. "And you'll probably be right, but that don't change anything."
"Ray, please." Fraser felt as if he were begging for his life. In a sense, he supposed he was—he and Ray wanted each other, had finally admitted it the night before, although Ray had refused to act on it while they were in each other's bodies. To resume a charade of platonic affection, to repress his feelings now that he knew Ray returned them—that might very likely drive Fraser mad. "What's going on?"
Ray burped resonantly, smacked the bottle onto the counter and said, "You don't fart."
"What?" Fraser stared.
"You don't fart," repeated Ray doggedly. "You don't burp, you only take a dump twice a week. You're all neat and perfect and you don't have normal bodily functions."
"That's—that's simply not true, Ray." Fraser felt his ire start to rise. "You're exaggerating wildly. I'm as much at the mercy of my anatomy as you are."
"Oh yeah?" Ray narrowed his eyes and pointed at him. "You don't even wake up with a hard-on every morning."
"I do sometimes," said Fraser, feeling absurd. "And regardless, I fail to see why that should interfere with us being together."
"I can't do it again," said Ray. "I can't be the messy, stupid, uncouth fartmonster with the perfect superhuman partner. I'm tired and I'm getting old, and my knees don't work too good, and I can't handle trying to live up to some impossible standard of bodily, uh, containment."
"But that's ridiculous," Fraser burst out. "I don't want you contained. I want—"
"What?" Ray gazed at him, his eyes dark with frustration and self-doubt, and for a moment Fraser couldn't speak. "See?" Ray told him. "It won't work. I am what I am, and I'm proud of what I am. But I can't give you more than that, and it ain't enough."
"It's more than enough. It's everything." Fraser came around the side of the counter. "Don't you see? I know your body. I know everything about it—your scars, your aches, how it feels when you urinate, when you ejaculate." Fraser's face heated, but he had Ray's attention now. He pressed on. "I know all your sounds and your smells, and I—"
"Wait. You jerked off in my body?" Ray seemed taken by this. "You did that?"
Fraser raised an eyebrow and answered truthfully. "It was partly accidental, but—yes."
"Where?" Ray cocked his head. "In the shower, right? Nice and tidy, wham-bang down the drain?"
Fraser dropped his gaze. "On the couch," he admitted, embarrassed. "After you left last night." He cleared his throat. "I'm afraid I may have ruined your t-shirt."
"Oh." Ray inhaled deeply through his nose and scratched absently at the base of his neck. Fraser could still remember the feel of Ray's skin under Ray's fingertips. "Uh, how was it?" Ray asked, apparently trying to sound casual. "You know, um, comparatively?"
"It was—" Fraser searched for an accurate description. "It was thrilling. And extraordinarily erotic." He came around the counter and stepped up to Ray.
"Fraser!" Ray sounded torn. "I can't!"
"We're not our bodies," said Fraser insistently. "We're much more than that. But if that's what concerns you, then—physically speaking, I know you. I know every inch of you." He reached out and touched the sensitive skin below Ray's ear, watched with mingled hope and satisfaction as Ray pushed into the touch. Then Fraser leaned in and let his breath fall on that same place. "And I still want you."
He pulled back and met Ray's eye. "The question appears to be: do you want me?"
Ray's lips parted, and he stared at Fraser for a moment, apparently struck dumb. Then an inarticulate noise escaped him and he launched himself into Fraser's arms, wound himself around Fraser and locked their mouths together. It was the emotional equivalent of a beer-flavored tornado, and Fraser surrendered utterly, let himself be caught up and turned around, and touched and held and loved. He kissed Ray back, full of hunger and need, discovering Ray's body from the outside this time and reveling in every caress.
After a long time, they washed up against the doorframe, strands of rainbow-colored bead curtain tangled around their wrists, draped around their necks and arms, rattling against their cheeks. They were both breathing raggedly. Fraser's pulse pounded in his ears; his skin felt tight and hot. They explored each other with their hands and mouths, and Fraser had to use every last iota of self-control not to let himself succumb to desire. That would definitely be a betrayal of Emmanuelle's trust.
Being aroused seemed paradoxically to have calmed Ray down. He leaned his head on Fraser's shoulder, still gripping his hips tightly, and muttered, "Pretty stupid freaking out like that, huh?"
Fraser slid his fingers into Ray's hair and held him there. "It's been a trying week."
It was easy to be charitable now he had Ray pressed bodily against him, Ray's erection hard against his thigh.
"Trying, yeah." Ray blew out a laugh, the warmth sending a shiver across Fraser's neck, down his spine. "I just—" He trailed off.
Fraser nibbled his earlobe. "Mmmm?"
"Mmm." Ray squirmed his head away. "Tickles. It's just, y'know, weird. Having been inside you like that." He cupped Fraser's cheek and brought them face to face, kissed him lightly, and then again, lingering.
Fraser smiled against his mouth. "I know."
"Yeah, I know you do." And that seemed to be that. Their connection was renewed, even stronger than before. "Come on," said Ray, softly, still holding Fraser tight. Not moving a muscle. "Let's go home."