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Second-Best

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It wouldn’t bug Ray so much, seeing Stella happy with somebody else, if it was anybody but Vecchio.

At least, he thinks it wouldn’t.  He hopes it wouldn’t.

It’s not like he has a claim on her.  He doesn’t even want her back anymore.  He’s happy with Fraser, now.  Stella should be happy too.  Ray should be happy for her.  And he is, it’s just. . .

Just, why did it have to be Vecchio?

Ray already went one round of being second-best to Vecchio, is the thing.  Took him almost a year of being Fraser’s partner, his friend, before he really started believing that Fraser actually liked him.  And even then: sure, okay, Fraser liked Ray just fine, they were tight and all, but Vecchio was his best friend, the real deal, and Ray, he was just. . .

Fraser says—and one of the million things Ray loves about the man is that he doesn’t normally hesitate to make it clear when he thinks Ray’s being an idiot, but not when Ray’s hurting.  No matter how stupid the reason, Fraser takes him seriously, then.

So, Fraser says, “You loved Stella, and now you love me.  Loving me now doesn’t make your old love for her any less real, does it?  Do you think of me as second-best?”

Which, of course Ray doesn’t, and says so.

“So, why shouldn’t the same be true of Stella’s feelings for you and for Ray?”

Yes, got the point, thank you kindly, Fraser.  Problem is, everything’s easy for Fraser.  Once he sees the truth, he believes it, in his gut, no doubts, no questions, no middle-of-the-night anxiety.  It’s not so simple for the rest of us poor saps.

Still, Ray thinks he might be able to face the stupid Christmas visit, after all.