Thanks: Many heartfelt thanks to the wonderful aerye for beta
Three weeks in and I'm still not sleeping.
It's not the dread of being found out, not anymore. The Feds are keeping an eye on things, and Jesus, I don't think Claudius, the Bookman's personal bodyguard, would let anyone touch a hair on my head or leave so much as a fingerprint on my lapel. And then there's the butler, Nero—he's got a thing for Katharine Hepburn. I let him watch The African Queen on my 50" TV the other night, and to thank me, he made ricciarelli like you wouldn't believe. In fact, Nero's bought the switch so hard, I could've charged double the price for half the goods. I didn't expect that. I didn't expect any of this to be easy.
And it's not that I'm lonely. I mean, hell, it's lonely, sure. Undercover is lonely. They warned me about that. And everyone here's tiptoeing around, polite as you crazy Canadians (but not Canadian polite, no: scared polite). But that's not it.
You know what it is, Benny. Yeah, I wonder if you're getting any shut-eye either.
I keep writing you letters in my head. Can't risk putting pen to paper, not again, but I got so much to tell you, and so much to ask. And here's the big thing, Benny, the million dollar question that's keeping me up at night: what have you told him?
You know what I'm talking about. The new guy. Have you told him about the first time you kissed me? How you dragged me into the supply closet to tell me you couldn't give me backup on the Presley case 'cause you had to fold napkins for the Dragon Lady all afternoon, and I ragged on you for taking it. "She walks all over you, Fraser," I scolded. I know it came out angry but that's because you're an amazing guy—fucking incredible, even if you are nuts—and you let her treat you like dirt.
"She's my superior officer," you protested. "It's her job to determine my duties."
"She's a bitch," I said. "She doesn't have a clue what you're worth. How many guys can do what you do? How many? You gotta stand up for yourself, Fraser."
"I—" You frowned at me, but I was on a roll.
"I mean it. Do it for me, if you won't do it for yourself." I shook my head and sighed. "What do you think people think when I tell them I need backup because my partner's making table decorations and can't get away? How does that make me look?"
"I'm sorry, Ray. I hadn't realized—" You gave me that rueful smile, your mouth all soft.
I looked away. "It's not fair on either of us, Benny."
"I understand," you said, but you sounded a million miles away. "Ray?"
I glanced back at you, met your eyes. "Yeah? What is it, Benny?" It came out husky, and I flushed and tried to take a step back but there was nowhere to go.
You were looking at me steadily, your hands coming up to hold my elbows, and I knew what you were going to say. I just knew. All this time, I'd been wondering if it was Frannie or the Dragon Lady, or someone else who you were making puppy eyes over when you thought no one was looking, and all of a sudden I knew. I got an instinct for these things. "There's something I need to confess," you started.
"No, there isn't," I interrupted. "Some things are best left unsaid, Fraser. Don't you know that? Don't they teach you anything up there in Canada?" The truth, Benny, was I was just too chicken to hear you say the words. It was enough to know you were thinking them. I could feel a nervous grin starting to creep across my face.
You started smiling too, though of course you had to spout off like always. "Of course, Ray. The school syllabus is prescribed by the Ministry of Education, but I don't believe it covers—"
"Benny," I said, taking hold of your lanyard. You stopped mid-sentence and raised your eyebrows, and the warmth in your eyes made me stammer. "Does, uh, does your school syllabus have anything in there about, uh, kissing?"
Your hands tightened on me, and for a moment I was terrified. What was I thinking? What if I was wrong and you hadn't meant that at all? Or, worse, what if I was right? What if someone found out? But if I was a lucky enough guy to have you want me, then maybe I was lucky enough to survive the fallout.
You licked your lip, and I couldn't breath. My heart was banging around, making me deaf and dumb. And then you leaned forward, and pulled on my elbows, and there I was, hard up against you with only my arms and a few layers of clothing between us, and your mouth on mine, soft and sweet.
That kiss, Benny. That first kiss. I don't know about you, but for me it was magic. I mean, the whole deal is impossible, and we both know it. We can't tell anyone. This is not the kind of small-talk you bring up at poker night, say, or when your Ma's asking after your day. But for those first few moments, I could feel a future ahead of us: family and everyone smiling, and the two of us together.
That kiss. If I close my eyes and touch my tongue to my lips, I can still feel it. Can pretend that you're here with me.
What's it like to sit in my car, Benny? To sit in my car with him, the car where we spent so much time, talking, and driving to secret places so we could make out—and more. What's it like to pretend that he's me, to have to lie?
Ah, what's the difference? We've been lying to everyone for months, anyway. Now we both got new songs to sing. What we don't have is each other, and that's what I want to say to you. That's what the postcard was. I know you'll understand, Benny, and I hope it makes it easier. We'll always be connected, even now. I haven't forgotten. I love you.