Sometime, Ray thinks, when he doesn't have twenty cases on his desk and Fraser isn't trying to rid Chicago of every speck of crime, from casual littering to the smuggling of illegally-acquired human hair wigs, Ray is going to take Fraser on a vacation.
Somewhere quiet, he thinks, but really out of the way, where they can fuck in a giant bed and yell when they come and not have to worry about little old Mrs. Waterston downstairs with the beady eyes and (for all Ray knows) eavesdropping spy gadget. Ray imagines it's a big cone thing that she holds up to the ceiling to try to catch them in the middle of doing something perverted and exciting. Perverted according to her, medium-exciting to Ray, because Fraser doesn't let loose down here in Chicago, not like he did up north those few days before the trip was over, when Fraser had said—
"So, by this time tomorrow you'll be back on a plane to Chicago, Ray."
And Ray said, "Yeah. I kind of don't believe it. Seems like we've been up here forever, you know? And now it's, sayonara, snow. Hasta la vista, Canada."
"Yes, yes. Amazing. Yes."
—but even as Fraser said it, clapping his gloves together like it was a done deal, his eyes were saying something else completely. And when Ray didn't look away, when Ray just stood there like a big dummy, thinking about how he couldn't stand it—partners were supposed to be partners, forever, that was the deal—Fraser had taken a few steps forward, his big feet positively dragging through the snow, until he was standing in front of Ray.
So, Ray knew it then. He knew right then that they were both a couple of cowardly, lying liars, because no way was it going to just end like that. No sayonaras, baby. Just Fraser looking down and taking off his gloves with this weird, deliberate motion before he brushed the backs of his warm fingers across Ray's cold cheek.
And Ray still just stood there, a perfect ice sculpture out in the snow, until Fraser said, "Ray—" and curled those warm fingers in the gap between Ray's jacket and the back of his neck, and pulled once, a frown creasing his eyebrows as if he was defusing a bomb, something dangerous and complicated and scary as hell.
Fraser had kissed him then, just one touch, warm and soft and a little clumsy. It reminded Ray of the first time he'd kissed Stella way, way back when. Back when he didn't know what sex was or why his entire body was hot, hot, overheating, his heart beating so fast he thought he was dying.
Just like that. It was just like that, kissing Fraser out there on the snow with Diefenbaker staring at them like they were nuts, and Fraser laughing suddenly, breathless, joyful, like Ray had just bought him a brand-new sled. Or pushed him out of a plane. Or something good in Fraser-world—like Ray was that something good.
Seemed like just seconds later they were making out like crazy in Fraser's tent, going at it so hard they scared the dogs and Diefenbaker wouldn't speak to them for days afterward. Fraser was hot beneath the blankets, and he'd thrown his head back and groaned out loud when he came, his glazed eyes staring up at Ray like he was some kind of miracle.
Down here though—back in Chicago—winter has melted into the black slush of spring, and Fraser is quiet in bed. Not like he's not having fun—no, he moans a lot, soft and intense and with his mouth muffled by Ray's neck, by his shoulder, and he certainly comes pretty damned hard, if that little vein puffing out on his forehead is any indication.
But it's like he's dimmed a little since they came back down here. Like he just isn't as happy. Ray gets that, because Chicago is the pits after the wide spaces of the Territories. Every time Fraser frowns at the garbage crusting over on the curb, or comments about the traffic, or gets stuffed up from the pollution, Ray feels like he should apologize for Chicago, and for keeping Fraser out of his natural habitat.
It doesn't matter how many times he tells himself that Fraser has been living here just fine for going on five years, or that Fraser wouldn't be here if he didn't want to be. None of that matters because Ray's seen the difference, and he knows. And he can't say jack shit about it to Fraser, because that would bring it all out in the open, where Fraser would have to say stuff like, "It doesn't matter, Ray;" or, worse, "You're worth it."
See, because Ray just isn't sure that he is.
They close a really big one, shutting down a major drug supplier and pissing off the local mafia at the same time.
The lieu is both smug and even a little proud, and actually claps Ray on the back, although it could be he's just dusting some of the protein powder off Ray's jacket.
"And they were shipping this stuff out tucked inside health food drinks?" Welsh says. "That's some gumption, right there."
"Yes, sir. I believe they were marketing it under the name, 'Powdered Beaver Buzz.'"
"I hear it's 'dam good,'" Ray says, and Fraser steps on his toe. "Ow. Yeesh, Frase—"
"But now you have the local boys a little unhappy with you," Welsh says, and purses his lips. "I don't suppose I could trouble you two to make yourselves scarce for a little while until this dies down?"
Fraser looks confused, so Ray pipes in, "Hey, yeah. No problem, sir. We'll just, you know, lie low."
"Somewhere not in my city, Detective. I don't want to have to put Huey and Dewey on solving your murders."
"But, sir, I'm not sure if I—"
"I've already spoken to Inspector Ymes, Constable. She said, and I quote, 'Please, make that man take a vacation.'"
"She did?" Fraser looks a little hurt.
"How many vacation days are you carrying right now?"
"Well, after the trip Ray and I took last year, I believe I'm down to seventy-seven days, sir."
"So?" Welsh shrugs. "Take a couple of weeks. Let things cool down."
"Yes, sir, we'll get right on that," Ray says, yanking on Fraser's arm as subtly as he can. Fraser finally gets with the program and follows Ray out the door. "See you in a few, Lieu."
Welsh grunts something, but Ray is already heading toward his desk and the stack of vacation pamphlets he's been collecting.
"Here," he says, tossing them to Fraser. "Take these."
Fraser looks down at the pamphlets, and Ray wishes he could just lean over and kiss Fraser, kiss the puzzled smile from his lips, but he can't. He's at work, and it's an unspoken rule that they don't do anything to let on how things have changed.
"Vacation spots," Ray explains. "Help me pick out something on the way to dinner."
Fraser whistles at Dief, who was already crawling out from under Ray's desk as if he'd heard the magic word. Sometimes Ray isn't so sure exactly how deaf the wolf really is.
They go out to the Goat, and while Ray steers them out of the parking lot, Fraser frowns down at the pamphlets in his lap, then picks up the top one and opens it.
"'Elegance at Heart,'" he reads. "'Find your inner romantic at Ashview Harbor Inn. With our soothing spa treatments and candle-lit dinners, we're the perfect getaway for a perfect couple.'"
"'The Bay Harbor Golf Retreat, located at the of America's Summer Golf Capitol, features some of the finest greens you'll ever lay a club to.'"
"Golf. As if."
"'Come enjoy the luxury of the Elegia Victorian Inn. Filled with antiques and all the modern conveniences, our Inn will delight the senses and soothe the spirit—'" Fraser drops the flier and rubs at his eyebrow. "Ray, this is pointless."
"Yeah, pretty much. I just thought—I dunno. Get away. Go somewhere quiet."
"I like the sound of that." Fraser shifts a little closer on the car seat, almost by seeming like he doesn't do it, except there he is, a little closer, a little warmer. "We'll get a cabin somewhere—"
"—no potpourri, no mud baths—"
"No golf." Ray suppresses a shudder.
"No golf," Fraser agrees, smiling a little at him before looking out the side window. "Somewhere...private."
There's a low note of yearning in Fraser's voice. It's something he wants really badly; Ray can hear it.
"You mean somewhere with nobody for miles around—"
"Yes! Somewhere we don't have to worry—"
"Worry?" Ray jumps on it, turning his head for a second.
Fraser scratches his eyebrow twice. "Somewhere quiet," he says finally.
Afraid to push, Ray lets it go.
They finally settle for a cabin on Bear Lake, about a five-hour drive from the city, except Ray's pretty sure he can make it in four. He makes the reservations from a pay phone and under an assumed name, just in case. Ray's contacts haven't been bubbling up about anything going down, but he can't be too careful.
Early the next morning, he throws a bunch of stuff in a duffle bag, hardly caring what goes in there, just making sure he has plenty of underwear and lube, before driving over to the Consulate.
Fraser is more serious about his packing, and Ray has to hang out in his tiny room while he neatly tucks his razor and soap and brush into an ancient-looking shaving kit, then folds his jeans and flannel shirts and stacks them into bag with shoulder straps. He doesn't bring a uniform—Ray sees him twitch his fingers at the serge before turning away, and has to stifle a laugh. But Fraser does put on his hat, and picks up a bag of kibble with his other hand before waving Ray and Dief out the door.
After they get on the road, Ray makes sure they aren't being tailed, then relaxes when they're finally out of the city and are tooling north along the lake. As soon as they hit the open, Fraser and Dief both start staring, mesmerized, out the windows at the scenery.
They should have done this a long time ago, Ray realizes. It's been eight months since they got back, and that whole time they've been stuck in the city. The way Fraser acts, you'd never think he was miserable about it. Not until you saw him getting out of the car and throwing back his head to take a big whiff of the open air, Dief already bounding around at his ankles before going off into the bushes.
"Do try to hunt us some dinner," Fraser yells, completely uselessly, because Dief is already a flash of white diving into the green.
"I already took care of that," Ray says. "Picked up a bunch of groceries and packed a cooler before picking you up." He goes around to the back of the Goat and unlocks the trunk.
Not just good cuts of meat in the cooler, either. He bought some actual vegetables from Mrs. Ming's stand, the funny-looking leafy ones Fraser likes that look like really dark lettuce with white stalks. Plus, of course, a couple of six packs, since Ray prefers his vegetables in liquid form.
Fraser helps him haul everything inside, then unbuttons his flannel and takes it off before immediately going back outside. Ray sticks stuff in the refrigerator before joining him. He's got his gun, but he won't need it. They got out clean.
Ray follows Fraser down the hill and they stand at the edge of the lake and look into the green-blue water, which is so clear Ray can see straight to the sandy bottom.
"They have a boat," Fraser says. "Do you think there are fishing rods?"
"Bet there are. And hey, look—" Ray waves along the shore, "—we're all alone out here."
They really are. The silence is so deep Ray's ears are still ringing a little from the car ride. There's just the gentle sound of the water and a light wind brushing the branches of the trees.
"Nobody for miles," Ray says, although he guesses that's a little bit of an exaggeration. Still, there are no other cabins along this stretch.
"It's perfect," Fraser says, sounding reverent; and, "I hear birds. Black-capped chickadees, I believe." Fraser turns and smiles at Ray. It's a smile Ray knows, but hasn't seen that much lately, and it squeezes his heart a little.
"Birds are nice," he says lamely.
"Oh, yes." But Fraser doesn't seem to be thinking about birds anymore, because he's stalking back up to Ray, walking loose-limbed with his eyes looking just a bit wild, and before Ray can say a word Fraser has clamped both hands hard at Ray's waist and is leaning in for a kiss.
Right there, outside, kissing Ray in the open air like he hasn't since Canada.
It tastes sweeter somehow, kissing Fraser out here, the wind ruffling around them as Fraser slides his hands into the back pockets of Ray's jeans to give him a grope.
Ray groans and shoves with his hips, gets a good feel of the hard-on Fraser is sporting in his pants. And it occurs to Ray they could fuck right here, just strip naked and go for it down on the dock, with no one at all to see them except maybe a chickadee or two.
Well, except Ray's forty year-old bones wouldn't be too into the idea, so he pulls away from Fraser's hot, kissing mouth and mumbles, "There's a bed in there, somewhere."
Of course, they only make it as far as the big living room, one wall a picture-window view of the blue-green lake, and it's almost as good as being outside, and with the plus of no bugs or sand in his crack. Just Fraser's big hand stripping him down, pausing to stroke over Ray's belly, over his shoulders and down his back, with Fraser murmuring things the whole time—"love you in this light, Ray, God," and, "let me, let me do this," when Ray tries to help, "so many things I want to do to you, Ray. So much I want to show you—"
And Fraser does. He takes off his own clothes and throws a blanket down onto the thick, soft carpet, his skin so pale in the afternoon light that he almost glows. And he lies down, takes Ray's hand and brings it to his chest, saying, "Touch me."
Ray's got no issues with that. Touching Fraser, and the stuff it leads to, is maybe his favorite thing in the world. He spans his hands over Fraser's ribs, draws them up to thumb his nipples and then squeeze them a little.
Fraser says, "Harder, make me feel it." He makes a sharp sound when Ray obliges, and his legs wrap around Ray's hips, trapping them together, cock against cock, and then Fraser says, "God, that feels good. You feel so good to me, Ray."
Ray is mindless with wanting it so bad, out of his head from what Fraser is saying, and the way he seems completely unembarrassed, begging for more, thrusting his cock against Ray's then looking down and saying, "Look at us. Look, Ray." And Ray looks down and sees the head of his own cock rubbing against Fraser's, sees the way their shafts bend and move together, and it's maybe the hottest thing he's ever seen in his life when Fraser suddenly freeze and his cock spurts, coating Ray's cock and belly.
And the sounds—Jesus, the sounds Fraser's makes, groans turning into a long, loud moan that shivers right down Ray's spine into his nuts.
Fraser is barely finished coming before he flips Ray over and starts licking his own come off Ray's cock. And that's it—Fraser only just manages to get his mouth around Ray's cock before Ray is giving it up, shooting so hard he almost breaks something important.
Outside his own moans, he can hear nothing at all. And as he lies there, Fraser's head on his shoulder, Ray thinks, It's a good start.
They go fishing. Well, actually, Fraser fishes while Ray sits in the back of the rowboat and drinks beer. Dief is chasing birds on the shore, but Ray can tell by the lazy way he's bounding around that it's just a game. Which is good, because if he kills anything, Ray is pretty sure Fraser will make them eat it for dinner.
Every so often Fraser winds up his lure and casts it out into the water again with an elegant motion that has Ray staring at his pale wrists and hands, at his biceps bulging in his short-sleeved T-shirt. Fraser catches him looking more often than not and crinkles at him. There's a faint blush of red starting across Fraser's nose and cheeks, and Ray goes digging into the paper bag at the bottom of the boat and offers Fraser some sun block.
"My hands are busy," Fraser says, a total invitation. Jesus, when did Fraser become like Mata Hari or whoever that chick was, so sexy and relaxed and asking for what he wants? It makes Ray's chest hurt a little to see Fraser so damned happy, like Ray has been totally screwing up in the boyfriend department, because he should have thought of this a long time ago.
Ray kneels in the bottom of the boat, the curved wood hard beneath him, and rubs a little sun block on Fraser's face, across his nose, over his cheeks. Fraser holds his fishing rod out to the side and closes his eyes, a smile on his lips. Ray grabs the chance to kiss him, nibbles on Fraser's funny lower lip that pooches out just a little, and Fraser kisses back lazily, opening his eyes when Ray pulls away.
"Just needed to get that out of the way," Ray explains, "before I rub this gunk on your lips. Seriously, Fraser, you're gonna burn."
"All right, Ray," Fraser says, way too accommodating. Hell, he's been totally easy since they got here, and Ray wonders what's going on in that Mountie noggin.
Ray smoothes the sun block over the side of Fraser's neck, and Fraser tilts his head back. Ray places a kiss on the other side, sucking a little to make a mark, and Fraser's breath whooshes against his ear, like he's surprised. Ray pulls away and finishes the job, all the way down to the divot at the base of Fraser's neck, before starting on his left arm.
"You'll spoil me," Fraser says, sounding almost embarrassed or something.
"That's in my rights. I have dibs on your skin. The sun will have to take a number."
Fraser smiles suddenly, so brilliantly he almost stops Ray's heart.
"I'm all yours, Ray."
Ray chokes a little, then rallies. "Oh, do not say that. Not while we're on a tippy little boat in the middle of the lake and I haven't practiced my bloom and close in a while, Fraser. Plus, I think this lake has eels. And maybe piranhas. "
Fraser laughs, a big laugh, his voice echoing out over the water, and Ray grins.
"Oh, a bite," Fraser says, still laughing a little as he swings to the side to tug on his fishing rod. "Perhaps one of the piranha."
"Gotta be pretty hungry to eat that tough old bait you found in the tackle box."
Fraser fights with and reels in a medium-sized fish, and even mutters, "Great Scott, he's a strong bugger," under his breath, which has Ray choking on his beer.
After bringing in two more slightly smaller fish of the same kind, which Fraser contentedly says are smallmouthed bass, Ray rows them back to shore while Fraser sits in the back of the boat and watches Ray. Rowing is a good workout, and Ray tells himself that's why he's sweating so hard, and not because Fraser is staring at him with a hot, fixed look, like Dief targeting a doughnut.
"I should really clean the fish," Fraser says after they dock, but instead he drops the cooler on the butcher table in the kitchen and drags Ray to the shower, where he rubs Ray all over with soapy hands. Fraser still tastes a little bit like sun block, but Ray only gets a few kisses before Fraser rinses him off and then drops to his knees to give Ray a fast, furious blow-job, sucking his cock with wet-sounding moans.
"Jesus Christ," Ray says after he comes, his knees like jelly. Fraser has to help him out of the shower, and rubs him down with an oversized towel before coaxing him into the bedroom.
Plopping down on his back on the big, fluffy bed, Ray looks up to see Fraser standing there, one hand wrapped around his terrifically hard cock.
"Ray, I need you," Fraser says, sounding almost hoarse, and Ray rolls to his belly and spreads his legs, feeling the best kind of slutty when Fraser groans, "Ray. God."
There's a scrambling sound, and Fraser says, "Somewhere, here, I know I brought—"
"Side of my bag," Ray says, grinning against the crisp pillowcase. He knows the minute Fraser finds the three tubes of lube Ray packed—Ray swears he hears another "Great Scott," which just makes him grin harder.
Then Fraser is on him, is nibbling down his neck and rubbing his thumbs in the small of Ray's back and whispering things against Ray's skin, and even though this part is usually a little tough—the part where Fraser's slick fingers are pushing in and opening him up—Ray feels so goddamned loose right now he thinks Fraser could pretty much fuck him open with that big cock of his and Ray wouldn't mind. God, he does not mind at all, especially when Fraser hooks his fingers before dragging them out to make room for his cock.
"Oh, God," Fraser groans when he pushes in. Ray feels every bit of the stretch, and loves it, loves how Fraser wraps his big hands around his hips and then moves him, working him down onto Fraser's cock, fucking him open with little hitches of his hips.
Once Fraser gets in he leans low over Ray's back and pants against Ray's neck. "Ray..."
"You feel good," Ray says, and squeezes down a little. Fraser's cock jerks inside him and Fraser moans directly into his ear.
"I love this," Fraser croaks. "God, I love—"
"Say it," Ray says. His heart is beating too hard. Fraser shifts inside him, just a little, and it makes both of them moan.
Fraser whispers, "I love—I love f-fucking you, Ray. I—" And, God, that's the sound of Fraser breaking, because he moves up to plant his hands beside Ray's shoulders and starts fucking him, with a long, slow twist of his hips on each stroke. Ray whines and spreads his legs a little wider, wanting him even deeper, and there it is, Fraser's cock hitting Ray just right, over and over, while Fraser grunts with the effort.
It's not likely Ray will be able to come again so soon, but that just means he can relax and let Fraser take him, use him, and it feels good, each thrust giving him a little burst of pleasure right behind his nuts, like he's almost-coming, over and over, and the sounds Fraser is making are another big pay-off. He's that hot for Ray, and it makes Ray feel like a fucking god. One who's really good in bed.
Fraser speeds up a little, going from long and deep to short and fast, and Ray tightens up around him and arches his back to make it even better, and then Fraser's mouth is pressing against the side of Ray's neck, gasping humid and hot, telling Ray, "Yes, God, Ray," so Ray is ready when he feels Fraser throb inside him, his come warm inside—Jesus, Ray will never get over how good that feels.
Fraser rolls them both to the side, but doesn't pull out right away, just wraps his arm around Ray's chest and holds him close. It's a little uncomfortable, but Ray doesn't mind. He wants Fraser to have everything he needs right now, and if that means a sore, sticky ass, so be it.
"Thank you," Fraser says, his voice low, and it takes Ray a second to catch up and turn his head.
"You do not get to say that," Ray says roughly. "I don't care if it's your politeness kicking in, it's not something you need to say to me. You get that, Fraser? Because this is the best thing—both of us got a good thing right here."
Ray can feel his cheeks getting red, but Fraser doesn't call him on it, just gives him a sweet, sideways kiss, cocoa butter mixed with Ray's come, still in Fraser's mouth, and Ray loves it more than anything that he has this, right here, right now.
Fraser's cock softens up and slips out of Ray's ass, and Ray finally shifts around in Fraser's arms so he can see Fraser's face. He looks at Fraser maybe a little too intently, making his eyebrows frown in question.
"It's different," Ray says slowly. "You're different up here. You—you seem happier, and you—you've got to tell me, is the thing. If there's something you're needing, or if you just fucking hate Chicago and you're just sticking around because of m—"
Fraser cuts him off with a thumb to Ray's lips, and shakes his head.
"I'm not unhappy in Chicago, Ray."
He says it like he means it, but his face has that blank, earnest look that means he isn't being exactly truthful and has engaged in slippery Fraser-phrasing that can pass for not lying outright.
"But you're not happy, neither."
"I'm happy with you," Fraser says, looking uncomfortable. "I'm always happy with you."
"But...sometimes it's...difficult. I worry about what people think, what they might see or overhear that might put your job at risk, or your life, for that matter—"
Ray pushes himself up on his elbows. "Who says? Says who?"
Fraser frowns and sits up on one hip. "No one has said anything. But obviously if you wish to keep our relationship...under wraps, we have to continually make the effort to be discreet."
"I didn't ask for that," Ray says quickly.
Fraser raises his eyebrows.
"Okay, yeah—maybe that was the proposition we were both assuming under."
Biting his lip, Fraser looks away. "If you mean we were both working under that assumption, then, I think yes."
"But we don't have to be that careful, Fraser. I don't want to be. I don't necessarily want to go shouting things around, but being careful all the time—I don't want that. I don't expect you to be."
Ray figures that is Fraser-speak for 'gimme a second to think this through,' so Ray lies back down again and puts his hand on Fraser's thigh. There's barely any hair at all on his legs, and his skin is smooth under Ray's palm.
"Does that mean—" Fraser stops and flicks his thumb over his eyebrow with his free hand.
"It means if there's something's been bugging you, if there's something you think we can't do because you've been worried about my job or whatever, you just got to tell me what it is." Ray lifts his hand and grips Fraser's wrist where he's propped his hand on the bed. "Just ask. You know you just have to ask, Frase."
Fraser stares at him for a good long second before stammering out, "If it—I would like—if I could, I would want to stay with you."
"Stay. You mean you want to move in?" God, it's the last thing Ray was expecting, but now he feels like a big dummy, because it makes all kinds of sense. "That would be good. That would be greatness."
"It would?" Fraser looks dumbfounded. "But then, why—?"
"Because I'm brain-damaged or something. Because after we got back, you seemed—I was worried you weren't planning on staying." It's tough confessing it, and Ray looks away, which was why he's a little surprised to suddenly see Fraser's face hanging in front of him, eyes soft and so damned blue.
"Ray, I'm not going anywhere. Not unless you're coming with me."
"Oh. Good." Ray takes a deep breath. "Then I guess you'd better move in with me."
Fraser smiles hugely, and Ray yanks him down and rolls him into a hug. Arms, legs, the whole shebang, and Ray almost feels like laughing, his chest feels so huge with this crazy rush of messy feelings, all centered around the image of Fraser setting his footlocker next to Ray's bed, and his little shaving kit on the counter in Ray's bathroom.
"Jesus Christ, Frase. You should've said something," Ray mutters against Fraser's shoulder.
"I believe I just did." Fraser's deadpan is off, though, because he sounds like he's laughing inside, too.
Anyway, Ray thinks maybe they'd both been saying things all along—not in words, but with their silences.
And out in the quiet, they could both finally hear.