Rating: R
Pairing: Fraser/Kowalski
Thanks: Many thanks to sprat for beta on all three parts, and mergatrude for beta on part 1. MWAH!
Notes: Part 1 was written for the Turnbull Loves Cheese challenge on ds_flashfiction.

A Whey From Home

by china_shop


Part 1

Fraser hung his tunic on a hanger in the closet. Then he removed his boots and socks, lined them up by the door, and sat with a sigh on the quilted bedspread. The carved relief grapevine on the wooden headboard dug uncomfortably into his back. His bare feet stretched out before him. Clarissa Claremont's Bed and Breakfast was clean and competently managed, he acknowledged to himself, trying to be fair, but its fussy combination of potpourri, religious iconography, and bilious green-patterned carpeting made his eyes water. He thanked his stars that Diefenbaker, who could be relied upon to complain about poor aesthetics for hours on end, had elected to stay home.

Fraser reached for the phone and dialed. The electronic brrp brrp was indecently cheerful, and continued far too long. Finally he heard the click-click and habitual whine of the answering machine. "Vecchio," said Ray's voice. "Leave a message."

"Ray," said Fraser. "I'm sorry to say I won't be able to keep our date to go to the Illinois State Vintage Car Museum on Saturday."

There was a loud clatter—"Fraser? Frase? Hang on a sec."—and the resonant thwack of a thin wooden object repeatedly smacking against an electronic appliance. The answering machine's whine ceased, and Ray's voice came on the line, warming Fraser to the bone. "Ha! I knew you'd find an excuse, Frase. Cough it up. You got a sudden unexplained can't-be-denied urge to iron your suspenders?"

"That's hardly fair, Ray." Fraser bit back a smile and carefully injected the requisite note of reproach into his reply. "After all, you accompanied me to the display of seaweed-related native art last month. And if nothing else, the car museum would have given us a chance to spend time together—"

Ray groaned. "Yeah, it's been like forever, Fraser. Where've you been? Pulling double paperwork shifts in triplicate? You didn't even answer your phone yesterday."

"Ah, well, that's why I'm calling." Fraser paused and stared at his feet. "I'm in Canada."

"You're what?!" Ray said, then continued on before Fraser had a chance to respond. "You're coming back, right? Tell me you haven't suddenly gone AWOL on my ass."

Fraser's free hand, which had been resting on his stomach, slid a little lower. "Trust me, Ray, if I were to go anything on your delectable ass, it would not—"

"Delectable?" Ray snorted

"Yes, Ray. If I were to go anything on your delectable ass, it would not be AWOL. Have I given you any reason to think I'd willingly leave you?"

"Not since I started putting my dirty socks in the hamper," Ray conceded. "Yeah, okay, okay. I'm guessing this is official Mountie business then. D'you need backup? Say the word."

"I'm not in any immediate danger," Fraser said truthfully, half-wishing he were, so that Ray would fly to his side.

"You sure? Okay." Ray sounded reluctant. "How long're you gonna be away?"

"I really can't say," Fraser told him, distractedly. His mind teemed with vivid memories of the taste of Ray's mouth, of the kinesthetic pleasure of nibbling on Ray's ear. "As per Inspector Thatcher's instructions, I've traced Monsieur Jean-Raoul Chartreuse to Newfoundland, but he refuses to see me. Apparently his Roquefort is at a very delicate stage of development and the slightest upset could wreak havoc."

"Wait a minute. Hold your horses. Heigh-ho Silver." Indignation colored Ray's voice. "Are you telling me Thatcher sent you to Canada to talk to a cheesemaker?"

Erotic mental pictures swept aside, Fraser sighed and rubbed his eyes. "All I know is that Turnbull has always been overly partial to a variety of dairy products. Perhaps I left Inspector Thatcher too much in his company, or perhaps I'm being punished for some oversight of duty. I'm not entirely clear. Regardless, I'm currently in Nova Scotia, trying to make an appointment to visit an 86 year old retired gorgonzola specialist."

Ray's voice was muffled. "Say what you like, Frase, I think Thatcher's onto us. She's trying to separate us before we—"

"Before we what, Ray?" Fraser asked, though he knew exactly what Ray was implying. "And onto us how?"

"You know what I mean," Ray told him. "I'm not gonna spell it out for you."

"More's the pity." The words came out deeper, rougher than Fraser had intended. He abruptly changed the subject. "You must see that it would be a gross abuse of her authority for Inspector Thatcher to send me haring across two American states and four Canadian provinces at the taxpayers's expense on a wild goose chase for cheese merely to thwart my private life."

"You say what you like, Frase," Ray repeated stubbornly, "but I know women. That chick's into abuse. I think it creams her panties. She's got twisted authority coming out the whazoo."

Fraser contemplated that verdict for a long moment. "I miss you very much, Ray," he concluded finally.

"Yeah," said Ray. "Me too. And when you get back—" He hesitated, and lowered his voice. "When you get back, we are gonna do it till our dicks drop off from exhaustion, you got that? I am sick to tears of this formal courtship dating thing, Frase. We are grown consenting horny adults, and I want—" Another hesitation.

Fraser's pulse beat sharply at the base of his throat. "What?" he said, sounding strangled to his own ears. "What do you want, Ray?"

"I want you to fuck me till I can't see in a straight line. Let Thatcher and her stinky mozzarella try and stop that, and I'll kick her up the Consulate flagpole. We'll see if anyone salutes her then."

"Ray!" Fraser's hand inched even lower.

"You down with that?"

"More to the point, Ray, I'm up for it. Remarkably so, as a matter of interest."

Ray's groan made Fraser shiver with desire. "When's the next flight?" Ray asked, hoarsely. "I'm on it. I'm coming to get you."

"I'll be home soon, Ray."

"Promise?"

"Soon."


Part 2

Fraser sat down and studied Ray through the shatterproof glass. He reminded himself that they'd waited three weeks, four days, seven hours and twenty-six minutes to physically gratify each other since their mutual declaration and, moreover, had waited many of those weeks, days and hours voluntarily, choosing to give themselves time to re-form their relationship, to learn each other anew from this different angle of romantic interest. So it was simply perverse suddenly to find the delay unbearable, merely because it was enforced.

Or maybe it was unbearable now because they'd decided to end the wait. Anticipation had fizzed through Fraser's veins on the flight back from Newfoundland, distracting him from the safety announcement, the unappetizing airline food and, catastrophically, the Customs declaration. His mind had been taken up with images of Ray spread naked before him on pale sheets, aroused. Of how the slanted sunlight would illuminate his curves and planes. How he would taste when Fraser finally, finally licked down the hot skin of his neck, rough with stubble and smelling faintly of sunscreen, perhaps. Licked over his collarbone onto the longed-for terrain of his chest, his armpits, his belly, his—

And now Ray was here, his neck in full view, tempting and eminently lickable, and entirely out of reach. Fraser unhooked the telephone receiver from its place on the cubicle wall. Ray mirrored his action.

For a moment, neither of them spoke. They stared at each other. Ray was tense, his muscles bunched tight with frustration or anger. Finally he said, "You okay?"

That broke the spell. Fraser cracked his neck and relaxed a fraction, leaning forward instinctively. "Yes, Ray. Of course. It was a foolish error on my part, and the officials have been most understanding, but they're not able to release me until Inspector Thatcher has made contact with Ottawa."

"I can't believe they busted you for smuggling cheese, Fraser." Ray seemed torn between outrage and incredulity. "What the hell were you thinking?"

"I was—" Fraser blushed, and lowered his voice. "I was, ah, thinking about you, Ray."

Ray's inhalation was loud in Fraser's ear, and he dropped his gaze to the tabletop. "Yeah?" he said, faintly.

Fraser pulled his chair closer to the table, and tightened his grip on the receiver. "I was thinking about—" He stopped.

"What?" breathed Ray, utterly motionless, his head tilted so that that his face was obscured.

Fraser licked his lip, and concentrated on the smooth surface of the wooden table in front of him. "I should have checked the permit matched the shipping slip before I filled out my Customs declaration," he said, huskily. "But I was—distracted." He glanced up, at the top of Ray's bent head, at his tousled hair, and the energy that was radiating from his tense frame, and he said, so softly he wasn't sure Ray would even hear him, "I was imagining the taste of your skin."

Ray's head jerked up, and he blinked rapidly, his blond lashes fluttering in the glare of the fluorescent lights. He slumped forward to rest his elbows on the table until his nose was barely an inch from the glass. His eyes were fixed Fraser's face. "Jesus," he breathed. "You're killing me."

"How it would feel to—to touch you," Fraser went on, feeling braver, now that he'd started to explain. He couldn't look away from Ray's lips, lush and full, slightly parted. "To hold your hip." He took a deep breath, feeling color rise in his cheeks. "And lick down your—" He ran the flat of his hand lightly over his stomach, to illustrate. "—and, ah, feel your—feel you. Against my cheek."

"Frase—" Ray groaned softly. "Christ, do not do this. I have to walk out of here."

"Ray." Fraser shook his head and dug his nails into his palms, forcing himself to focus on here, now. Hoping his arousal would subside before the visit ended. "I'm sorry, Ray. I'm afraid I seem to find you—" He cleared his throat. "—ah, dangerously distracting."

"Yeah, well, don't apologize for that," said Ray, roughly. "Apologize for this." The quick tilt of his head indicated the other prisoners, the guards, the glass that separated them.

"I'm truly sorry, Ray."

"I know, I know." Ray's voice softened. "It's okay, Frase. We'll get you out of there pronto, if I have to dig the tunnel with my bare hands." His lips twisted. "Nah, it's okay, it won't come to that. Stella, Welsh and Thatcher are all on it, and I distracted Turnbull with Dief so he wouldn't fuck things up. You'll be a free man, this time tomorrow, I promise. But, man, Fraser, I want you now."

"What do you want, Ray?" It was unwise, irresponsible, and most of all unfair to ask, but Fraser couldn't help himself. His skin prickled. He'd never before felt this overpowering physical need.

"Frase." Ray swallowed, his adam's apple shifting in this throat.

The tip of Fraser's tongue traced the roof of his own mouth, teasingly, and he imagined mapping a path along Ray's jaw and—This is disgraceful, he thought wildly. Remember where you came from, who you are! An officer of the RCMP. A representative of Canada. Dear God, it's not as though you're seventeen! Have some self-control!

"I want you out of there." Ray closed his eyes tightly. "I want you on top of me, inside me, under me. I want you everywhere, Benton Fraser. Mostly, though," he opened his eyes, and stared at Fraser with humor and passion, "I want us to be alone."

Fraser's lips twitched. This was a ridiculous situation. A far cry from their phonecall of the previous night, when both of them had been safely behind closed doors. "Perhaps we're star-crossed, Ray," he teased, solemnly. "What if we never have the luxury of privacy?"

Ray studied him a minute, then shook his head. "Don't give me that," he said. "This isn't fate fucking with us. This is Thatcher and her goddamned cheese. Once the gorgon's got the gorgonzola, there'll be no stopping us."

"Actually, it was premium export quality Roquefort and six wheels of blue brie," Fraser told him. "The gorgonzola was unavailable due to an unfortunate mishap with a small-footed bat, a French horn, and a tray of burned bannocks." He caught Ray's narrowed eye. "That's not important. What's important is I believe you're right, Ray. There'll be no stopping us."

"Yeah." Ray was silent a moment, his eyes bluer than Fraser had ever seen them. "Yeah, Fraser. I'm gonna lock us in my apartment and throw away the key."

Fraser bit back an admonishment about fire safety and the eventual acquisition of food supplies, and licked his lip instead. There'd be time enough for safety in the weeks and years to come. Tomorrow—tomorrow was for freedom and passion. "That sounds," he murmured into the plastic receiver, "like an excellent plan."


Part 3

Ray was leaning on his car, arms folded, sunglasses in place when Fraser exited the Metropolitan Correctional Center at 9am the next morning. He was freshly shaven, and it appeared he was wearing a new t-shirt, with the words Brace Yourself emblazoned across the front in blue lettering.

Fraser hesitated, wondering whether or not to embrace him, but Ray said, "Hey," and indicated they should get in the car, and Fraser nodded and did so.

Apparently Ray wasn't feeling talkative. He seemed both tired and energized. When Fraser commented on it, Ray smiled and shrugged. "Didn't sleep too good. I was, uh, subliminating."

"Ah." Fraser swallowed a pang of disappointment. Perhaps this reunion wouldn't contain all of the fireworks and passion he'd anticipated. Nonetheless, they'd make the best of it. He was about to voice his pleasure that they were alone together at last, when Ray spoke up.

"What do you want to do about Dief? He's with Turnbull, and Turnbull's willing to keep him for a few days, if you want, or we can go collect him now." The question sounded neutral, but Fraser wondered whether there was some deeper meaning. Perhaps this was a test.

"I'm sure he'll be fine with Turnbull," he said. "Besides, I'm not particularly looking forward to Diefenbaker's commentary on the cheese debacle. He can be remarkably condescending on the subject of bureaucracy."

The corner of Ray's mouth curved up, but he kept his eyes fixed on the road. "Tell me about Newfoundland."

Oh dear! Were they reduced to awkward chitchat so soon? The whole purpose of dating was to ensure that the relationship progressed gradually, discomfiting neither one. They had abided by the age-old rules of romance in order to prevent exactly this eventuality. And yet—"Ray, has something happened? Are we moving too fast?" Fraser turned his hat in his hands. "I'll—I will understand if you've had a change of heart."

Ray pulled his sunglasses down his nose, and glanced over at Fraser. "I'm driving, Frase," he said, pointedly. "Tell me about your trip. And, uh, make it as boring as you know how."

Ah. Fraser smiled down at his hat. "Understood." He cleared his throat. "Well, Ray, records show that in 986 AD Bjarni Herjólsson from Scandinavia sailed along the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador. And then, later, the Vikings founded and settled L'anse aux Meadows on the Northeast Coast—"

Ray grinned at the road ahead of them. "Yeah, that's good. Keep going."

Fraser continued on, explaining the history of the area, the local politics, and describing the formation of the cheesemaker's colony in the late eighties. "Newfoundland cheese became extraordinarily fashionable," he noted. "To the surprise of the rest of Canada."

Ray parked in his usual spot, and switched off the ignition, pausing with his hand on the key. He didn't look at Fraser. "You ready for this?" he said, softly.

Fraser's heart jumped. "Yes, Ray." There weren't words to express exactly how ready he was. How detailed his fantasies had become. He settled for repeating, firmly, "Yes."

"Good." Ray's fingers touched his knee, fleetingly, causing Fraser's leg to tremble. And then Ray was out of the car, was waiting impatiently for Fraser to follow. He locked up, and led the way into his apartment building, where he took the stairs two at a time, meeting Fraser's eye at every turn of the staircase, until they were both grinning.

At the door of his apartment, Ray paused with the key in his hand, and looked over his shoulder at Fraser, who was close behind. (But not too close. It wouldn't do to rush Ray into anything he wasn't comfortable with.) "You know, Frase," he said, softly. "I gotta tell you. The dating—the dating's not so different from partners and friends. We go out, and sure, we're not looking for the criminal element, but being us, we usually find it anyway. Even at that seaweed show, which I, for one, thought would be a total bust." He turned back to the door and unlocked it, pushing it open.

"True enough," Fraser agreed, following him inside and shutting the door behind them. "Finding that counterfeit twenty-dollar bill was pure chance, but it certainly livened up the afternoon." He noticed in passing that the apartment was unusually clean and tidy, the kitchen counter clear of its customary clutter.

"Yeah." Ray nodded, and dropped his keys and sunglasses on the side table. "Here, though," he said. "Here's where the rubber really meets the Rhode Island red." He took two steps toward Fraser, and suddenly Fraser had difficulty breathing.

"I, ah, I assume we're not talking about tires, Ray," he managed.

Ray grinned, and leaned close, his eyes falling shut. "No, not tires, Frase," he said softly. "Not talking about chickens either."

"No," Fraser agreed, and pulled Ray into his arms, holding him, at last, at last. He kissed the lines beside Ray's eyes, his cheek, his lips, chastely at first—as all their kisses had been until now—but then Ray made a soft dark sound in the back of his throat, and it was as though Joshua's horn had sounded: Fraser's tightly held control crumbled, walls tumbling down. He ran his hands down Ray's taut back, over the waist of his jeans, and lower. Oh yes! And he leaned into Ray, burning with a wild, hungry relief. As one, they opened their mouths, their tongues finally touching, the kiss demanding and sweet.

"Oh god, Frase, oh god, I been—" Ray's voice was muffled as he tugged at Fraser's clothing, pushing fabric and leather roughly aside, until he found skin. "I been dreaming about—"

"Ray," Fraser gasped, and grasped his hips tight, pulling their bodies together. He shook with arousal. "It's been—"

"Too long," Ray finished for him, and again sought out his mouth with his own. His hands gripped Fraser's back through the thick fabric, under it. Fraser pivoted them both, maneuvering so that Ray was leaning on the coat closet door, and held his head and kissed him, rocking into him helplessly.

Ray was lean and firm and eager in his arms, kissing him back, loving him. Fraser groaned, and licked a stripe up Ray's neck as he'd longed to do the day before, tasting hot skin and soap, and traces of shampoo. Ray tilted his head away, stretching the tendon in his neck and baring his throat to Fraser's hungry mouth, and the gesture was too much, the implicit trust overwhelming. Fraser clasped Ray's shoulders and thrust raggedly, and his orgasm reverberated through him like the clash of cymbals, leaving him weak.

Ray's eyes blinked open. "Jesus, Fraser," he said, as though amazed by this proof of Fraser's desire. His movements grew increasingly urgent. He clutched Fraser's head and waist, and thrust insistently, and Fraser was torn between stopping him, thereby prolonging the pleasure, and granting Ray the release he so clearly craved.

The decision was taken out of his hands: Ray threw his head back, panting, and screwed his eyes shut, and came. Fraser kissed him greedily, his mouth open and wet on Ray's. "Yes," Fraser told him, without taking his lips away. "Yes. Oh god, Ray, you're perfect."

Ray slumped against the door, still holding Fraser tight, while his breath gradually slowed. Then he flushed and pushed them apart, looking down at their clothes, stained with ejaculate and in serious disarray. "Hardly perfect, Fraser," he said, smiling, but shaking his head ruefully. "This wasn't the grand plan."

Fraser kissed him again, ignoring a twinge of disappointment that their coupling was over so soon. There would be other occasions, no doubt, and in the meantime, perhaps Ray required coffee or breakfast. He was about to suggest adjourning to the kitchen, when Ray caught his chin and tilted it up so they were eye to eye.

"It's not over, Frase," he said quietly.

Fraser smiled affectionately, leaning into Ray's hand. "Well, no, Ray. Of course not. But it seems that we're spent for now."

Ray licked his lips. "Nuh-huh." His eyes were warm and intent, and he brought Fraser's hand up to cup his cheek. "We could do this, what we did, a hundred times," he said softly. "Two hundred. I'd still want you, Fraser. Still want to touch you." He pulled Fraser close again, and whispered in his ear, "Do you hear what I'm saying?"

Fraser could only nod.

Luckily, that seemed to be enough. "Good," said Ray. "Great. So, you want to get something to eat first, or you want to take your clothes off and lie down with me?"

Fraser groped for words. "I'm not especially hungry," he said. "And these pants aren't especially comfortable."

He felt Ray's smile against his cheek, the smoothness of his newly shaved chin. "Yeah, well, you're not supposed to come in them," he said. "C'mon."

He took Fraser's hand and, with an odd air of self-consciousness, led him into the bedroom. At which point, the reason for his awkwardness became apparent: the room was cleaner than Fraser had ever seen it. All the drawers were neatly closed, the surfaces dust-free and shining. The closet door was shut, and the bed was made. As well as that, the clutter on the nightstand had been hidden away, replaced by a startling array of pharmaceutical products: several brands of lubricant, a stack of brightly colored condom packets, and an unopened box of tissues.

On the dresser there was a folded pile of clean sheets and pillowcases. A wastepaper basket sat on the floor beside the bed. Even more impressively, Ray appeared to have relocated his stereo to his bedroom. He turned it on, now, and a sultry Latin song curled sinuously into the air.

"Ray," said Fraser, gazing around the room. "You tidied."

Ray shrugged and pulled his t-shirt over his head. "Preparation," he said. "Don't you ever say I don't listen to you." He grinned. "Told you I was subliminating last night."

"Yes, but when you said that, a vacuum was not the image that came immediately to mind," said Fraser. He slid his gaze quickly over Ray's exposed chest, and looked away while he unbuttoned his own tunic and went to hang it in the closet.

Ray moved to intercept him. "Uh, no. Don't. This is all for show. I mean, I didn't turn into Martha Stewart or nothing." He took the serge and hung it on the doorknob. "You open my closet and six years of dirty laundry's gonna fall on your head."

Fraser ran a tentative hand down his arm, and then, when he remembered there was no longer need for hesitation, hugged him close, pressing soft kisses along his bare shoulder, smoothing his warm golden skin. "Well, I appreciate the gesture," he said, huskily. "I don't know what to say."

Ray kissed him hard, then pulled back and grinned at him. "Say 'thank you kindly', and make the most of it. That's my advice. This kind of tidy don't last more than a couple of days before all the kludge comes creeping back. And anyway, don't forget you still owe me a trip to the car museum."

"How could I forget?" Fraser watched Ray begin to unfasten his jeans, and stopped him. "Let me." It was half question, and he waited until Ray nodded, before bending his head to the task.

His senses were full of Ray, of his scent, of the feel of bodywarm denim in his grasp and hot skin against the backs of his hands as he finished undoing the button fly, and pushed Ray's jeans from his thin hips.

Ray was breathing through his mouth, murmuring profanities as though he were praying. His penis was already starting to respond. Fraser blinked slowly, mesmerized. He rubbed his thumb across the wet patch on the front of Ray's briefs and smelled it. The rich spicy scent of Ray's sex was like a drug, sending his senses spinning. He peeled away the briefs and knelt down, and gently licked Ray's hardening penis clean, savoring the salty taste and the quivers that ran through Ray's body.

Ray swayed, and gripped Fraser's shoulders to steady himself, and Fraser stopped. There was plenty of time, he told himself. Time to do this properly. He leaned his forehead against Ray's hipbone, skin to skin, and dug beneath Ray's rumpled jeans to untie his bootlaces. Ray slipped Fraser's suspenders down, and tugged Fraser's undershirt free of his pants, stroking each inch of skin as he bared it.

By the time they were naked, Fraser was shaking with need, and Ray's breath was loud and heavy. "Yeah," whispered Ray. "Anything." Fraser took him to bed and touched him everywhere, stroking paths across Ray's skin, learning the tilt and angle of his limbs, the way he curled toward Fraser and returned every caress in kind until Fraser broke apart with pleasure. "I love you," he whispered into Ray's hair, and Ray turned his head and smiled, incandescent.


* * *


Hours later, Fraser woke and stumbled to the kitchen for a drink and sustenance. The interior of the fridge was a sight to behold. "Good Lord," he said, smiling at Ray, who'd followed him and was leaning, naked, in the doorway. "Did you rob a delicatessen?"

"Yeah, me and my band of gourmet desperadoes." Ray grinned. "Yeah. Figured you and me'd need to keep our energy up if we were gonna do half of what I had planned."

Fraser turned back to the astonishing array of food in the fridge and smiled. "How's our progress?"

"Barely made a dent," said Ray, coming up behind him, and sliding his arms loosely around Fraser's waist. Fraser shivered as Ray's hands skimmed up and brushed over his nipples. "Good thing we got plenty of time, huh?"

"Indeed." Fraser reached back and held Ray's hips, held him hard up against him. "I believe I need to refuel. Can I interest you in a panini?"

"Yeah." Neither of them moved. "Frase," Ray murmured against his neck. "Do something or we're gonna freeze here in the cold from the refrigerator, and turn into ice sculptures, and when Mrs. Lennox comes to get my rent she's gonna find two frozen naked guys and have a heart attack."

Fraser laughed and reluctantly released his hold. He selected a pair of panini and put them on a tray while Ray lit the grill.

Seven minutes later, returned to the bedroom with a cup of tea on the nightstand and Ray at his side, Fraser bit into the freshly toasted snack and paused. There was something startlingly familiar about the taste. He chewed thoughtfully and swallowed. "Ray," he said. "Where did you get this?"

"Marciano's on East Chestnut Street," said Ray through a mouthful of food. "Why?"

"Because while the panini may be from East Chestnut Street, Chicago, Illinois," said Fraser, dryly. "The cheese inside the panini, unless I'm very much mistaken, is an aged gruyere which hails from the cellar of one Monsieur Jean-Raoul Chartreuse of Newfoundland."

Ray blinked and swallowed. "You're kidding."

"No, Ray. I never kid about cheese." Fraser looked again at the sandwich on his plate. "You realize what this means?"

"Yeah. It means your crazy boss lady sent you haring across Canada on a wild cheese chase for something that she could've bought right here in Chicago." Ray's voice was thick with indignation. "I'm gonna—"

"Ray," Fraser interrupted. "If I hadn't been duty-bound to travel to Newfoundland, at this very minute we'd be at the Illinois State Car Museum. Looking at old cars. Instead of—" He gestured at the room, the bed, the depleted pharmaceutical supplies, and the two of them.

Ray stared at him for a second, then gave a crack of laughter. "Jesus!"

"Yes, Ray." Fraser smiled. "The Inspector has inadvertently, ah, brought us together." He studied the remains of his panini and then added, "I'll have to be sure to thank her."


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