Ray settled in on his couch, beer in one hand, remote in the other. Working with Fraser had its own rewards; this was one of them. After a sleepless night and a day taken up by chasing after both good and bad guys, he didn’t have to feel an ounce of guilt, spending the evening lounging on his couch, drinking a six-pack, and watching ballroom dancing competitions on TV.
He hadn’t competed in years, not since Stella’s law school gig had turned into Stella’s law career gig, but he could still yell at the judges and mock the dancers for rookie mistakes. The fact that this particular aspect of his life probably disqualified him from a membership to the All American Boys’ Club didn’t really bother him all that much anymore.
And he watched other competitions, too. There was baseball – definite all-American, red-blooded, rugged-manly competition right there. There was boxing, which was kind of like dancing only with more pain and fewer frilly costumes. And, occasionally, when he was feeling particularly relaxed and magnanimous, and Dief looked at him with those big half-wolf, all puppy-dog eyes, there was curling. And there was Fraser. And, always, there was pizza. Nights like these – well, they were what made the job so worth it sometimes.
Ray double-checked the listing and pressed the “power” button. The TV flickered to life, but the only music he could hear was the mind-scraping noise of static. All he could see on the screen was snow.
“Whoa!” He lunged forward and made a grab for the cable remote. Everything seemed to be on. “Oh, no, no, you can’t do this to me!” He began pounding on all the buttons, in the vain hope that something was going to change.
“No, no, that’s not cool! That is not good, I’ve been waiting for this since – since --”
“Since yesterday, Fraser!”
“This sucks.” Defeated, he slumped back into the couch, banging his head against the cushions. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Fraser rub his eyebrow. A sudden hope sparked to life, and Ray held the remote out to the other man, channeling all his certainty in Fraser through his reach. “Make it work?”
“Ah. Well, I --” Fraser took the remote and proceeded to study it like it was the map to China. “I’m not certain there’s much I can do in this instance, Ray. My – my instinct tells me that we’ll just have to wait it out.”
Ray watched as Fraser set the remote down carefully on the coffee table. He narrowed his eyes.
“Instinct, Fraser? Whatever happened to that great Mountie logic of yours? Can’t you fix this?”
“Well, I --”
“You,” Ray pointed an accusatory finger at Fraser, “just don’t want to watch ballroom dancing.”
He watched as Fraser tried and failed to hide a tiny smile.
“You’re right. I am not, in fact, wholly disappointed.”
Despite himself, Ray felt a smile tugging at the corners of his mouth. “Fraser, that is very devious of you. Bet if that was curling we were missing, you’d be all over that TV like Dief over a chair leg.”
“Perhaps.” Fraser was extremely bad at the whole straight-faced-lying-Mountie routine.
“Yeah.” Ray took a pull of his forgotten beer and sighed as it made its way down his system. “So, no TV. What the hell are we gonna do? I’ve watched every movie I own about ten times.” A second later, he realized that asking Fraser might not have been the best idea. He could practically see the wheels turning in Fraser’s head, all to the pattern of “Inuit” and “stories.” And, sure enough, a second later, Fraser was opening his mouth to speak.
“You know, Ray, television is not the only form of entertainment. For instance, back when I was stationed at Yellowknife, and Constable Fletcher and myself were confined to a small shack for an entire night, we --”
“Don’t tell me, Fraser,” Ray interrupted, his eyes glazing over already. “You told Inuit stories.”
“Actually, I was going to say, we spent the night telling jokes.”
Ray blinked. “Jokes?”
“Yes, Ray. Anecdotes. Jokes.”
“What, like… uh… a seal and a caribou walk into a bar? Those kinds of jokes?”
Fraser had that look on his face, the one that made Ray suspect that not so very deep inside, Fraser was laughing at him. It wasn’t a mean kind of laughter, just very amused, maybe. With anybody else, it would have made Ray want to smack them in the head, but he couldn’t bring himself to feel offended with Fraser. He kind of liked that Fraser let it all hang out when they were together. Made Ray feel like they were buddies, real good friends. The kind that could tease each other and not end up with black eyes and bruises. The kind that communicated good even outside the job.
He turned off the TV, welcoming the silence that ensued in the wake of the deafening white noise, and took another deep pull of his beer. Jokes it was, then.
“All right, Benton-buddy. Lay it on me.”
“Lay what on you, Ray?”
“Uh -” Ray blinked again. “A joke. Tell me a joke.” Was it possible that Fraser had just implied something that Ray had only implied to himself, late at night, with the lights off and his pants down around his ankles, and, if he wasn’t too strapped for time, in the privacy of his morning shower?
He looked at Fraser for another moment and dismissed the thought. Fraser was no dummy, but he was also no queer. That was Ray’s department. Half the time. Mostly, the half that he spent around Fraser. There were times, he had admitted to himself a while back, when he was a really big fucking queer. Take ballroom dancing, for instance.
Which he wasn’t going to do just then, because Fraser was undoing the white string of his uniform, unbuttoning his big red tunic, and launching into a joke, all at once, right there on Ray’s couch.
Ray drank more beer and allowed his mind to open up for any Canadian humor he had coming his way. He hoped Fraser knew some good flatulence jokes.
This was so much better than ballroom dancing. This was him and Fraser, drinking beer and juice, eating pizza, and sharing a lot of good laughs. He hadn’t had a night like this since…Christ. Probably since the early Stella years. Back when their friends were actually mutual and mutually liked, when there was booze, occasional pot, and really bad movies. Back when being with Stella was easy, and they didn’t give a damn about the future. Kind of like what it felt like right now, only without the sex part. And with fewer friends. And with the addition of a half-wolf , a freak of a sexy Canadian, and a whole lot more farting jokes. Apparently, the Inuit liked their flatulence as much as Chicagoans did.
“Ok, ok, I got one –” Ray launched into a joke Sandor’d once told him, the one about the hooker and the elephant. Fraser even seemed to appreciate it, his eyes crinkling at the corners, outright giggling like Ray had never thought he was capable of. Jeez, it was like somebody was tickling the guy. Ray got a brief vision of himself doing just that and hiccupped. It was probably time to put down the beer. He breathed in deeply and the glass knocked hard against the coffee table.
“Oops.” He hiccupped again. Fraser wiped away a tear and half-laughed, half-sighed. Neither of them really cared about the spilled beer on the coffee table, though Ray did care about the hiccups he couldn’t seem to get rid of.
“Crap… I – hic – hiccups.” He whined and hiccuped at the same time. It was starting to hurt his chest. “Fuck. Hang on… need – hic – water…”
He staggered to his feet and began making his way to the kitchen, climbing over Dief, who was asleep and the only person in the room not appreciating the farting jokes. Once in the kitchen, Ray grabbed the first glass that looked sort of clean off the counter and, as the hiccups persisted, lunged for the tap and filled the glass almost to overflowing. He only noticed that Fraser had followed him as he was gulping down the tepid water. Which was worse than drinking warm beer, he decided.
He gulped down the water, and watched Fraser watching him. Fraser was still smiling, occasionally letting out that high-pitched giggle he had, and never once looking away from Ray. He had really blue eyes. And his mouth was doing that weird crooked thing it sometimes did that kind of drove Ray half out of his mind. He was just about ready to do something drastic – what, he didn’t really know – when another hiccup found its way up his throat and he regurgitated about as much water as he inhaled a split-second later, his entire face now dripping with tepid, disgusting tap water.
For a moment, he wondered how to react, and then began coughing, hiccupping and laughing all at once. He barely had time to bang the class down on the counter when he was doubled over, wheezing, and whining, because, damn, his stomach muscles were getting a work-out tonight. From his current position, he couldn’t see much besides his knees and hands, holding his stomach together and wiping his face, but he could hear Fraser attempting to ask him if he was all right, through giggles of his own.
“Ah – I – I’m – good, I’m good,” he managed to breathe out, and made a most valiant effort to unbend himself. It required propping his arm on the counter and counting to ten, but in the end, he was upright again, wheezing and still hiccupping. He whined again, and this time Fraser got the message. He took control of himself in record speed, and before Ray could blink, Fraser had Ray’s wrists in a firm grasp and was lifting Ray’s arms over his head. Ray hiccupped again and looked at Fraser, unable to even ask what the hell he was doing. Fraser was looking somewhere behind Ray, and a light blush now stained his cheeks. He didn’t let go, standing less than an inch away from Ray, but he gave a slight cough and said, his voice gone suddenly strangled and very low:
“It’ll relieve the pressure on the muscle that’s causing the hiccups.”
Ray nodded. Their bodies brushed once and he felt a tremor in his arms. Fraser looked him in the eye and a moment later, let go of Ray’s wrists, leaving them cold and clammy. He stepped back. Ray felt his abdomen ease out, and his chest releasing the pressure of the hiccups. He didn’t feel very relieved. Slowly, he let his arms drop to his sides, and had to stop himself from attempting to chase the smell of Fraser, no longer surrounding him and making him dizzy with adrenaline. Another second, and the moment was over. He scratched his arm and nodded for Fraser to follow him back to the couch.
He was being stupid. It hadn’t meant anything. Fraser was just like that. He stood close to people because he had no sense of personal space (or what his presence could do to some of them, like Frannie, or, well, Ray). And he helped Ray because he knew how. Because Fraser was Fraser. And not because Ray was Ray.
He slumped down on the couch and attempted to get the feeling of ease back into their night.
“So,” he patted the couch to let Fraser know it was safe to sit there. “Got any more jokes? Now that I’m ready to laugh again, and whatnot.”
Fraser seemed extremely relieved to launch into another anecdote. Communication. They had it down.
“In fact, I do, Ray. This is actually one of my favorites.” Fraser sat down on the couch – in the middle, Ray noticed, and not the very edge – and cleared his throat. “A man walks into a bar and asks the bartender to give him a Double Entendre. So, she gave him one.” Fraser’s lips twitched. And twitched some more. And then he was flat-out laughing, while Ray was left blinking and trying to puzzle the joke out. What the hell was Fraser laughing at?
”I don’t get it. She gave him one…what? Why is that funny? He asked for a Double… she gave him one… what’s…”
“You don’t understand?” Fraser managed to squeak out between bouts of laughter. “Really, Ray?”
“Yeah. Really. I don’t get it. Why is that funny?” He watched Fraser try to compose himself, and waited for an explanation. It wasn’t like he was a dumb guy, or anything. Some jokes just weren’t funny. He could appreciate humor that did not involve bodily functions – he was all over that, he could do that. Fraser’s little quip when he won the pot in the game with Farah, that went over every fed’s head in the room, but Ray knew Fraser, and he knew when the guy was making a joke at everybody else’s expense. But this? This he didn’t get. The guy asks for a, uh, a figure of speech, a play on words, and…he gets one?
“What’s the double entendre there, Fraser?” He lifted his chin in defiance. He could hold his own. He could.
“The second part of the joke, Ray.” Fraser was looking at him with an expression that was half-puzzled, half-exasperated.
“But it isn’t funny.”
“Well, of course it is, Ray, if you are familiar with the expression ‘to give him one’.”
“Well, clearly, I am not.”
Ray was starting to get annoyed. So, he didn’t know the stupid expression. So, he didn’t get the joke. It wasn’t such a big deal. Thing of it was, though, he’d felt like this with Stella, and he never really got used to it. Or, over it, for that matter. He had always been the slightly dimmer one, the one who occasionally forgot words, or misused them at really inopportune moments. But most of the time, it was all right. He wasn’t required to talk like a lawyer. He was required to figure out the cases, chase down the bad guys, and kick in some heads. He was good at that; he was really good at that. Most of the time, it was all right. Except for the times when Stella would give him that look, the look that clearly showed he was not her equal, and they were chasing an illusion, being together. He hated that look. He especially hated that look on Fraser’s face, right at that very moment. It wasn’t a look of teasing; it was a look of someone who knew you weren’t his equal. Ray was reminded of their fight, the one that almost broke them apart, before the Henry Allen and the pirates. He never wanted to go there again, not ever.
“Would you --” Fraser cleared his throat. “Would you mind if I, ah, elucidated the meaning for you?” Fraser actually sounded careful, like he was treading on egg shells. For a moment, Ray was sure that he’d been thinking about the same thing; about the fight, and what it had meant to both of them. His wounded pride – hell, he knew what a double entendre was, at least – was slowly healing. At least Fraser, unlike Stella, was making an effort at not acting superior.
“Sure, Fraser. It’s your favorite joke. Why don’t you explain it to me.” He knew the joke was dead in the water – you couldn’t find something funny after it was chewed up and shoved into your mouth. But he at least wanted to know what he was missing. And, damn, maybe it would come in handy one day, anyway. Tell it at parties, maybe, and see how many of those guys get it.
“Well, you see, Ray, the expression ‘to give him one’ comes from – well, what it actually means, in…actuality… is --” Fraser tugged at the collar of his Henley. The movement drew Ray’s eyes to his neck, and now he couldn’t look away, because there was a faint sheen of sweat, right in that dip there, and Fraser’s neck was growing pinker with each second. Ray licked his dry lips and dragged his gaze away from Fraser’s exposed skin. Fraser was looking at him, his hand still holding the collar of his shirt, but not really doing anything with it. A second passed where things seemed to change and shift and fall into a really weird place. Ray was pretty certain he’d just been busted undressing his partner with his eyes. And his partner was looking at him like he was Canadian bacon wrapped in an Inuit story. “A hand job, Ray. Or oral sex. Or, in fact, penetrative sex, the kind involving --”
It took Ray a second to process the words that were coming out of Fraser’s mouth.
What the hell was coming out of Fraser’s mouth?
“What?” His voice actually cracked. He wanted the couch to open up and swallow him whole. The speed with which his dick responded to Fraser’s words left him embarrassingly dizzy. So much so that when Fraser spoke again, Ray had to make a rather monumental effort in order to focus on his voice at all.
“That’s what the expression means. That’s why it’s a…double entendre.” Fraser’s voice had gone slightly hoarse again, and real low, and deep. It was making Ray shiver all over, and something was just not adding up here. He, Ray, was the one who had a thing for his partner, he was the one whose dick was standing at attention underneath the pillow he had surreptitiously placed on his lap, he was the one who had beat off more than once to the thoughts of Fraser, naked, sweating and panting for Ray. It was not the other way around. Was it?
“Ray, if the anecdote is still – I mean, if it’s still unclear, and you’d like it – elucidated further, I could, perhaps --”
Ray’s brain stopped working right at that moment. And that was the moment when Fraser scooted closer to Ray, generating unbelievable heat with his entire fucking being, and – Ray wasn’t sure why he was attempting to stop the pillow slipping from his lap, but it was like the last of his protective shield or something, like he couldn’t let it go without exposing himself, all of him, entirely – tugging the damn pillow out of Ray’s grasp.
“Ray, let me show you.” Fraser’s warm breath fanned across Ray’s lips, because they were that close now. Ray looked at Fraser’s open mouth, the sliver of tongue that was visible behind his teeth.
“O- okay.” His voice felt rough as sandpaper. He swallowed.
Then Fraser kissed him.
When he’d thought about Fraser kissing him before, in his deep-dark fantasies, he imagined the first kiss to be hesitant, maybe. Slow. Uncertain. This was not that kiss. This was an open mouth, put in tongue, suck on your partner’s lip like it was a lifeline, and make him completely crazy kind of kiss. Ray forgot to breathe, he forgot anything that didn’t have to do with Fraser’s mouth, the smell of him, strong and deadly and masculine. It curled around Ray, setting his senses on edge, and he opened his lips wider, tongue-fucking Fraser’s wet mouth, clutching at his head, tunneling his hands through the dark, smooth hair, unable to let go of anything that belonged to Fraser. He had forgotten hesitancy, had forgotten that Fraser was supposed to be straight, and he was the queer one, Christ, he had forgotten what it was like to kiss and mean it. He was remembering now. The vapid effect of alcohol was now replaced by total awareness, an altogether different kind of buzz.
Fraser’s hands fumbled with Ray’s jeans button and Ray was forced to let go of the hot mouth covering his own. Fraser panted, warming Ray’s face with his breath, his eyebrows drawn together like he was in pain. He made these noises, Jesus, they were low, and quiet, but they reverberated all through Ray, his skin prickling as it rose into goose bumps at the sound of it. Ray moaned in frustration and reached for his fly, trying to help Fraser out, because he saw his hands shaking.
“Fuck, I can’t --” His weren’t any better off.
“Here, let me --”
“No, no, I got it --” He popped open the fly button and looked up at Fraser’s face, feeling his cheeks lift in a smile. On an impulse, he reached for Fraser’s lips again and Fraser met him halfway, mouth already waiting, open, his tongue slipping in easily and meeting Ray’s own. He felt Fraser moan and it drove him absolutely crazy. The zipper was tugged down, and now he was reaching for Fraser’s pants, hoping to God they operated with velcro; his hands were shaking badly enough now that another button just might kill him. “Take ‘em - take ‘em off, Frase, please --”
Fraser had pushed him into the back corner of the couch with his body, pinning Ray in place, but now he moved back to undo his pants, and Ray took advantage of his new freedom to push off and plant his mouth on Fraser’s neck, right in that damn hollow where it met his chest, licking and sucking his way all around it. Fraser gasped and his fingers began practically flying over his buttons (all buttons, who the hell did that to pants?).
“Ray... Ray... Ray, wait– I can’t– ”
Ray didn’t wait, because Fraser could. He overbalanced him and pinned him back, sprawling half on top of him, finally grinding their erections together with only two layers of underwear in between. He moaned into the soft neck and felt hands clutching around his back, digging in almost painfully.
The couch sucked. They needed more room. Without even thinking about it, he pushed up, propped himself around Fraser on one bent leg and used the other to slide the coffee table to the other side of the room. Things fell and spilled, but just at that moment, he couldn’t have given jack shit about any of it, because he was already pulling Fraser up and away from the couch, and sprawling them out on the floor, away from the spilled something by the other end.
“Ray --” Fraser sounded breathless, writhing under him, attempting to pin Ray’s hips down, probably needing that friction just as bad as Ray was.
“Hang on, Frase, I – I want to get these– off.” He struggled to rip down Fraser’s and his underwear in the same movement, and once Fraser caught on, the process went by a lot quicker, and a whole hell of a lot hotter. Now they were panting on the floor with bare asses and their shirts still on, so those had to go next. Ray tried savoring each inch of skin that Fraser exposed, but it all went too fast, and all he wanted to do was feel Fraser, feel his skin, smell it, taste it, all of it. He wanted it all, and now Fraser’s shirt was finally off and Ray’s breath got caught in his throat. Fraser was gorgeous, he was almost perfect, he was strong, and smooth, and unbelievably hot. He was laid out like Ray’s personal heaven, and Ray attempted touching all of him at once, from the cut shoulders to the rapidly rising and falling chest, to the dark hair of the very happy trail that led to a hard cock, already glistening with precome. Uncut. Jesus.
That sex-laced voice again, Ray couldn’t get used to it, each time it made him jump practically half out of his skin. He couldn’t get harder if he tried. “Ray, let me see you – please --” Fraser’s hands were already tugging at the bottom of Ray’s t-shirt and lifting it up and over his head. Ray’s arms got tangled and he panted harder, trying to extricate himself, but then, finally, they were both naked, and Fraser had pulled him down and filled his mouth with another deep kiss that focused Ray’s entire world right there, in the hot sealed space between them. Skin to skin, cock to cock, they moved against each other – frantic, unpracticed, rough. It felt so fucking good. Ray nudged Fraser’s thighs further apart and settled his legs in between, lining them up, just as Fraser up-ended his world and flipped them over, never breaking the kiss.
Ray’s head thumped against the hard wooden floor, and his shoulder blades and ass immediately got rug-burn all over, but it was a good pain, because now Fraser was rolling over him, like a hard wave, over and over, his cock sliding against Ray’s, their precome making it feel that much better. Ray couldn’t stop groaning, and he was sure that if he didn’t have short nails, Fraser’s back would have been covered with deep scratches. Fraser was steadily moaning into his mouth, making the kisses vibrate with their breathing, and Ray was close, he was so fucking close, he was going to come now, any second, and it was too soon, he didn’t want it to end, dammit – He pulled his mouth away from Fraser’s and panted:
“Damn, Fraser, stop, please, I’m– I’m going to --”
Fraser shook his head against Ray’s, his hair tickling Ray’s ear, and grunted. He curled one hand around Ray’s cock and kept on moving, faster and harder, driving Ray out of what was left of his mind, blowing it to pieces. It was going to end right there, right at that moment, because another second of unbearable pressure and heat, and Ray was falling, he was coming, his mouth open in a soundless gasp, with Fraser still moving over him, watching, like Ray was – like Ray was– and Fraser was coming, too, Ray felt him shuddering in his arms, shaking, and there was more wetness between them now. Fraser had bitten his lip bloody, and Ray couldn’t look away from it. As his heartbeat subsided and Fraser sagged heavily against him with a quiet groan, Ray leaned his face toward Fraser’s and licked the drop of blood on his lip. He felt Fraser flinch from the sting, and moan.
“Oh, God, Ray...” He opened his mouth and caught Ray’s lips in another kiss. This one was slower, languid. Just the slightest hint of tongue, slipping in, then out, and then it was only lips, and then it was only the remembrance of the slightly metallic and tangy taste. Ray opened his eyes and Fraser was once again looking at him. Like he had earlier this evening; like he had many times before that, Ray knew this now. Fraser had been looking at him, that entire time; Ray had just never really believed it. He grinned.
“Man-- that was good.”
Fraser answered with a small grin of his own and rolled to his side, exposing Ray to the slightly chilly air of the room. The smell of the spilled beer wafted up from around their ankles and he saw Fraser wrinkle his nose. The floor was starting to seriously hurt his back.
“Perhaps a bed would have been a better idea.”
Ray snorted and scratched his side. “Couldn’t wait.” Fraser gave him another one of those “want to eat you up whole” looks.
“Neither could I.”
They looked at each other like a pair of goofs for another moment, and Fraser began moving around the floor. Ray, lazy from the afterglow, watched him as he scooted over to where the tissue box had fallen and picked it up. It took a few tissues, but then the mess around both their stomachs was taken care of enough for them to be able to get up, which they did, and then proceeded to make ‘after you’ gestures in front of the bathroom.
In the end, Ray peed first and wiped his stomach once more, this time with a warm wet towel. He smirked at Fraser’s reflection in the mirror and after Fraser had flushed and turned around, he washed him off as well, as thoroughly as he wanted to. They kissed, their lips lingering. Ray couldn’t taste anything at all now except for Fraser, which was just fine, because Fraser was a lot tastier than pizza or tap water or beer.
“Mmm...” Fraser broke off the kiss, licked his lips and took the towel out of Ray’s hands. “What would you like to do now?” His voice was still rough, and Ray decided that grabbing Fraser’s ass was a good enough answer. He might not have been the smartest guy on the block, but he sure knew how to illustrate a point. He felt Fraser huff a laugh against his neck. “Perhaps in a little while.” Yeah, Ray wouldn’t get it up again for another half hour at least, either.
“Sounds good.” He left his hands positioned where they were most comfortable, kneading the smooth muscle. They stood like that for a long moment, feeling the other breathe in and out, almost matching the exhalations.
And then Ray got the joke.
“Hey, that was a pretty funny one, there.”
“What was?” Fraser turned his head to face Ray.
“The joke. I was a bit slow, but, uh. That was funny, Fraser.” He felt a bit stupid, admitting that it took him this long, but hey, at least it was funny. It was almost as funny as the fact that Fraser’s favorite joke was about a hand job. Or oral sex. He shivered, thinking about the possibilities. “Got any other ones? Maybe I won’t be dumb this time, eh?” As soon as he’d said it, he felt even dumber. Fraser furrowed his eyebrow, and gave him one of his patented serious and concerned looks.
“I never thought you were dumb, Ray. You’re one of the smartest men I know.”
Ray felt something in his chest easing out and letting go. “So how come I didn’t get it, then?”
“A lack of knowledge of some vernacular expressions does not signify a lack of intelligence.”
Ray smirked. “You just wanted to show me what it meant.”
“That, too.” Fraser was smirking right back. They were on the same page.
“Bed?” Ray let go of Fraser’s ass and made to turn off the light.
“That sounds like a very good plan, indeed.” Fraser turned to follow him.
“Hey, Frase, I got another joke for you. It’s kind of like yours, actually. Huey told it to me the other day.” Ray had barely paid attention at the time, because he’d been too preoccupied with watching Frannie stick out her tits, probably in the hope that Fraser would cop a feel, but now that he thought about it, he just knew Fraser would like it. They walked out into the hallway, and Fraser turned to him.
“What is it?”
Ray began cleaning up the mess they had made in the living room. He picked up the spilled bottle of beer, just as Dief started to wake up and huff his disapproval.
“All right, so a Buddhist walks into a pizza parlor, and asks the guy behind the counter, ‘Make me one with everything’...”