The first time Ray and Stella made it, he was seventeen, she was sixteen, and her parents were gone out of town for the weekend. That was just asking for it, in Ray's opinion. Or in his opinion later, at least, because back then he would've been hard pressed to have a coherent thought about anything but Stella's neon pink miniskirt cut up to here and the way she'd been licking her lips and giving him looks in the hallway all week and just the fact that this was it, no turning back, her and him, together and always.
Ray was nervous. All sweaty and stupid from the time he got to her house, which was dumb because this was Stella, right? His Stella, and it was just like always, really. Mostly. But Stella looked just as nervous when she opened the door and let him in, which actually made him feel better in some twisted logic thing.
She smiled at him, almost shylike -- which was never Stella, she was not shy, she knew exactly who she was and what she wanted -- and she led him up to her pretty blue bedroom with the damn canopy. And then it was okay, all of a sudden, because this wasn't anything new, just making out on Stella's bed like they had done eight million times before.
And after a while they were both pretty much just in their underwear, kissing and groping and Ray had his hand in her panties where she was all wet and slick and hot and Stella made this little noise under him and said, "Ray."
He stopped what he was doing and looked at her and she just nodded.
"You sure you're ready?" Ray's voice cracked a little in the middle. But that was okay, because he was pretty impressed he could even manage that, with the way his heart was ready to burst out of his chest.
"I'm ready," Stella said firmly. "Now. Do it."
Stella had taken the bus down to Planned Parenthood with one of her girlfriends and gotten the pill business all settled, but she made him use a condom anyway, because you never knew. It was messy and exciting and over way too quick, but they did it again later that night and it was better. And once Stella wasn't sore they did it even more, and it kept getting better and better, and maybe that was one of the reasons Ray never saw any of it coming. How could things be that bad, how could they have no chance when they could still move like that, feel like that, know each other like that? When it was still so good?
The last time they did it was almost twenty years after the first time. Stella had already kicked him out, one of those "stupid lapses" she always apologized for the next day. He made her come as many times as he could with his fingers and his mouth before she made him stop. She pushed him onto his back and straddled him, and he watched her ride him, fucking gorgeous as ever, and it was just like old times, him and Stella, always and forever.
Except afterwards she couldn't look him in the eye and she scooted away subtlely every time he tried to curl around her or hold her in the bed, until he finally just came out and asked it, whether she wanted him to leave. And that relieved look in her eyes wasn't the sort of thing you could just forget, so Ray went back to his crummy apartment and slept in his crummy bed alone.
And that was that. Even if Ray didn't still didn't want to admit it to himself for a long time after.
The red light was taking way too long to pass, in Ray's opinion, but apparently traffic lights didn't give a damn about his opinion, who knew? He tapped his hands thoughtfully against the wheel and looked over at Fraser in the passenger seat -- he was in normal clothes, not the uniform, because it'd been a fun day. A relaxed day. A halfway normal day. He was looking out the window and not at Ray.
Ray bit his lip -- the hell with it. "Hey, Fraser."
"Yes, Ray?" Fraser turned his head to him, all attentive.
They'd gone to the park and out to eat for dinner and then really whatever they'd thought of -- it felt good, not just hanging-out-with-Fraser good, but a wicked kind of good, too, like even though it was Sunday and a day off they were really playing hooky, like they were getting away with something.
It made Ray think stuff. Stuff he'd been thinking for a while now, far enough back that he wasn't sure even when it had started, when it had stopped being Stella about who he was thinking.
Ray said, "Do you think people can have, you know, two real loves?"
He'd had a lot of time to think this over lately -- too much time, too much everything, because one thing Ray knew about himself was he never learned -- and he gestured vaguely to help Fraser get what he was saying. "Not just anything, I mean, but big time, high stakes, love of your life. The works. You think it can strike twice?"
Fraser looked straight ahead, through the windshield, and his face had changed, so now he didn't have much of an expression at all. He said real quiet, "I'm not entirely certain that can be achieved once, Ray."
"Ah," said Ray, "yeah, okay." He was still thinking that over when the light turned green.
He guessed that was it then, the end of it, because how much more clear-cut an answer was he expecting?
Ray watched Fraser a little out of the corner of his eye while he drove, but Fraser didn't say a word or look over or anything. Nothing. Not even a hint that he even knew what Ray had been saying, just the same plain mask of concentration. It was annoying, kind of, because it wasn't like it was too much to ask.
Ray knew all about asking for too much.
He parked at the curb in front of the Consulate. Fraser looked up then, almost surprised that they'd arrived, and started getting himself together. "Thank you kindly for the ride, Ray," he said, and he opened the door, but Ray's belly was feeling heavy and his chest was aching with he didn't even know what.
"Wait," Ray said.
Fraser stopped, just looked at him, and Ray placed his hand on Fraser's shoulder. Held it there while he leaned forward slow and kissed him. There was a long moment where Fraser didn't respond, didn't move at all, not leaning into it or even jerking away.
So Ray was ready to pull away -- leave the nice Mountie alone and stop molesting him -- when Fraser's hands came up and cupped each side of his jaw, held him there as he kissed the hell out of him.
Ray was breathing heavy when they moved apart. Fraser was looking at him now at least, right at him like he could see all the way through. His face was pale and his eyes were serious.
"Fraser," Ray said. He pinched the cloth on Fraser's shoulder between his thumb and finger and said, "Fraser. Come to my apartment."
Another of those endless moments, and Ray's brain raced through all the different things Fraser might say ("Tomorrow's a work day" and "I don't want to" and "I'm flattered, Ray, but...") then -- yes! -- Fraser finally nodded. "All right, Ray," he said, his voice low and all kinds of raspy, and he closed the car door again.
Ray felt unsteady the whole way home, shaky. Like he was resting all his weight at the edge of the stairs and he didn't know yet if there was another step there to catch him, or if he was just going to fall on his ass.
Fraser didn't touch him while he drove, but Ray could feel his eyes on him, and that didn't help the shivery feeling any. He turned to Fraser as soon as he got the car settled in and parked -- Fraser surprised him by moving right into his space, pressing his lips hard against Ray's mouth and then nipping Ray's lower lip between his teeth.
Ray pushed him away, sucking in a deep breath, and he squeezed Fraser's hand once quick and then climbed out of the car as fast as he could. Fraser was following him inside, he could feel him there behind him -- they didn't even have to talk, Fraser was there with him like always. Fraser was right there with him and when they got to the apartment Ray slammed the door shut and pushed him against the wall.
"I want you," Ray said, pushing their hips together, pressing Fraser, pinning him down. And he was serious, as serious as he'd ever been in his life.
Fraser nodded again, and he put his hands on Ray's waist and said "Yes" and Ray took that as a sign that it was time to kiss him till one or both of them forgot their names.
Ray stuck his hands under Fraser's shirt, skimming over the warm warm skin on his back and his side, and Fraser jerked his head out of the kiss, looking to the side.
"Fraser?" Ray said, stopping his hands, but it was okay, because Fraser just took a shaky breath and came back, kissing Ray's neck, sucking on it, marking.
"Yeah, yeah," said Ray, "come on," and he took a step backward and pulled on Fraser's shirt and Fraser followed him like a zombie all the way to the bedroom.
"Come on, come on," Ray said again, and he let go of Fraser and moved back, throwing his shirt off his head and slipping his jeans and underwear off. Fraser was looking at him, dark and desperate, still fully-clothed, looking at Ray's chest and his hard cock but mostly his face, and Ray had to sit down hard on the edge of the bed.
Fraser looked away from him, not catching Ray's eye as he took off his shirt and pants. Ray's voice cracked as he said, "Fraser--" and he tried to remember just how long it had been since he wanted somebody this damn much.
And then Fraser was naked, too, and he pushed Ray gently down onto the bed and climbed on top of him, and that was it, they were too far gone, there was nothing to do but move and thrust and touch. Ray rolled them over so he was on top, got his hand around Fraser's cock and jerked him off hard and fast. He watching Fraser's face, all scrunched up like he was in pain, like one of those dying saints or something, and Fraser said "Ray" and then he made a hoarse cry and there was come all over Ray's hand and Fraser's belly.
Ray moaned, let go, dropped all his weight onto Fraser -- Fraser should take it, yeah -- and he kissed Fraser wildly, kissing every part of his face, biting, gnawing, rubbing his cock all over Fraser's skin. It all felt good, all of it, and Fraser watched him with -- was that hunger? And when Fraser said his name again, Ray came, too.
He slid off Fraser's body and he lay on his side, facing him. Fraser turned to face him, too, looking straight into his eyes, and his hand came out and stroked slowly down the side of Ray's face. It felt good, as good as all the rest, maybe, and he was still doing it when Ray fell asleep, Fraser still there with him in his bed.
Their combined mess was still on Fraser's skin when he awoke -- cooled now, thick and sticky on his chest and stomach. He extracted himself from the bed carefully and quietly; in the bathroom he scrubbed with a washcloth until he tingled with clean. He splashed water over his face and gave himself a long look in the mirror above the sink.
Back in the bedroom Ray was still asleep, effortlessly sprawled out on the bed, the space Fraser had so recently occupied already reclaimed by his body -- as if he had never been there at all. Fraser's clothes were still on the floor where they'd been abandoned earlier in the evening. He dressed quickly in the dark.
Outside the light had the curious quality that only ever occurred in the last few hours between midnight and dawn. While Fraser walked to the Consulate, he thought about the difference of the feeling in the city during these early, abandoned hours of the morning. He thought about where the constellations would be overhead if the Chicago city lights allowed greater visibility. Stars -- strange to think of all those individual suns, so many millions of miles away, the heavenly bodies floating in space... He thought of the laws of gravitation: the greater the mass, the greater the gravitational field exerted. Inconceivably massive stars, full of light and brightness and heat, pulled on everything with their inconceivably compelling orbits.
He didn't think of anything else.
Dief was lying in the corner when Fraser arrived back in his room; he lifted his head from the floor and made an inquiring remark, but Fraser ignored him and sat down on the edge of the cot to remove his jacket and shoes once again. He lay down on his back and watched the ceiling until it was time to begin the day.
Dief barked pointedly when Fraser rose.
"Yes, well, I'm sorry. I didn't know I would be out so late," Fraser said sharply. "I can assure you it won't happen again."
Dief looked him for a moment, then got up and walked over to Fraser and sniffed him obviously. He made another inquiring noise.
"Ray is a good friend, and I spend time with him. There is no reason I shouldn't smell like him."
He ignored Dief's response to that and went to shower and dress.
He managed to find enough work at the Consulate to justify his absence from the precinct that day. It was cowardly, he knew, and perhaps unfair to Ray, but he was still unable to force himself to go.
As it turned out the point was moot, as Ray called in mid-afternoon, not entirely to Fraser's surprise. Ray was always brave, it seemed.
"Good afternoon, Ray," Fraser said, keeping his voice even.
"You. Me. Talk."
Fraser began, "I certainly don't think this is the appropriate time or place for such--"
"Nah, I know that, Fraser. I'm not stupid. You just don't get to avoid me or play hunky-dorky either. I'll come over later after work's done."
Fraser swallowed and said, "Fine."
"Okay, then," Ray said.
He hung up, and Fraser was free to concentrate as fully as he desired on the variety of forms he had to file. There was only so much distraction to be found there, though, in mindless routine. It left too much room and too much space for his own thoughts.
Pictures went through his mind despite himself, small helpless flashes of memories. His arrival at the precinct, only to find Ray Vecchio gone, an imposter in his place. Ray Kowalski -- above him last night, shining, dazzling as he moved, so that Fraser couldn't, couldn't take his eyes away even when he tried. Ray's its careless muscles and the range of scars lined into his skin, each perfectly visible and apparent -- nothing hidden away, nothing of Ray protected at all. His own scar, etched permanently into his back. The ice at Fortitude Pass.
When his hours ended he sat down with the novel he was reading to wait. "Ray is coming over in a few minutes," he told Diefenbaker. "I would appreciate it if you saw fit to give the two of us some privacy." Dief made a short response, and Fraser was slightly testier when he said, "I don't believe it was that laughable a suggestion--"
Diefenbaker got up in the middle of Fraser's comment and walked out of the room; Fraser sighed and rose to follow him to the front doors. Ray was standing outside.
"Hey, Dief. Fraser."
"Hello, Ray," Fraser said, stepping aside to let him in. He was surprised by how tired Ray looked; there was a look to his face, a shadow he didn't recognize. He closed the doors and began walking them to his room. Ray was quiet beside him, biting his lip, and when they reached the doorway he stopped.
"So. You know, Fraser, I realize that you may be new to this whole thing. So maybe you just don't know the whole etiquette, right?" Ray's tone was light, artificially so, at he babbled. "Because walking out in the night -- usually frowned upon. Especially with no note or anything. Notes, phone calls, flowers the next day, they're all nice. American way of making it seem a little less cheap."
Fraser had sat, and he gazed at his clasped hands as he spoke. "I owe you an apology, Ray."
He couldn't see Ray's expression, only his legs and feet over by the closet, but he could hear Ray's snort. "Maybe I'm not so sure I wanna hear it, Fraser."
"Nevertheless," Fraser said, adding as much firmness as he could; it was difficult to put the words together, to find what he was trying to tell Ray. "I have to insist. My behavior -- it was unfair to you, and I shouldn't involve you in my mistakes."
"No, Fraser, I get it, I do." Fraser looked up at him then. Ray's smile was tight and razor-sharp, but it wasn't aimed at Fraser; he was looking in another direction. "It was just one of those, what is it, lapses of judgment, right? Don't worry. I'm used to it. Water under the bridge."
Ray was moving in place, almost jangling or vibrating in motion, and Fraser forced himself to not look away, to watch what he had done. He had hurt Ray, hurt his best friend; this was what happened, this was exactly why he should have known better, why he did know better.
Dief nudged him in the thigh with his muzzle -- of course he hadn't given them space; that would have been too much to expect -- and made a soft noise.
"I don't believe I asked for your opinion on the matter," Fraser said stiffly; it hurt a little to speak now. Dief huffed and walked away to lay down across the room. To Ray, Fraser continued, "I hope this doesn't affect our friendship..." He trailed off at that; it was difficult to think about the alternatives.
Ray sighed heavily once and came to sit down beside him on the cot. Their thighs were almost touching, and Ray put his hand on Fraser's arm. "Look, Fraser, it's not all your fault. I started it, I made you uncomfortable, whatever. Now I know better. You don't want it, I leave you alone, we're back to normal." He stood up again, putting his hands in his pockets.
It slipped out before Fraser could resist. "I didn't say--"
Ray glanced at him in surprise. "You didn't say what?"
"I didn't say I didn't want it," Fraser said, quietly, honestly.
Ray was gazing at him in frank astonishment, and Fraser felt his face heat up in discomfort.
"I don't get it," Ray said finally. "What's the problem, Fraser? You want me, I want you. Sounds good to me."
Fraser cleared his throat. "I believe if you look at the situation fully, you'll see all of the reasons last night was a mistake, Ray. For both of us. The problems--" Scars. Ice. Stars that burned up anything that came too close...
"Well, see, Fraser," Ray said slowly, moving back toward him, "the only problems I'm seeing are the ones you're making yourself. Because I don't know what you did last night, but I got lucky with my best friend, the one I've got the hots for and happen to kind of be in love with." He sat back down beside Fraser, pressing his leg against him this time.
Fraser closed his eyes, inhaling a slow deep breath before opening them again. "It would be nice if it worked that way, Ray."
Ray leaned forward and said, "Who says it doesn't?" Fraser was silent -- there was no response to that, nothing he could say. "I'm ready, Fraser," Ray said, jabbing Fraser in the chest with his forefinger, moving his face close, invading Fraser's personal space till there was no room, no air.
Fraser said helplessly, "Ray, I don't--"
"I do. Come on, Fraser, do it--" Ray said, voice overflowing with urgency, and Fraser sucked in another breath and hoped not to burn up as he let go, stopped trying, stopped resisting Ray's orbit -- and Ray moved back, making space for him, letting Fraser in like the space had always been there for the taking.
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