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A is for Apple

by Pearl-o

[Story Headers]

ZIPPER

Zip went Fraser's zipper, easy as you please, and

"Ah," went Fraser, all nice and breathy, and

Thump THUMP went Ray's heart, slamming all around his chest like he was running a marathon or hopped up on coke or something.

Fraser's hands were braced on his shoulders saying yes and Fraser's cock was in his hand saying please and Fraser's mouth was saying "Ray, Ray" and that was sweet, all of it, so sweet.

But Ray was talking, too, his hand saying god, yes and his cock saying just like that and his hips saying now and his lips saying Fraser right against Fraser's own, just as sure as if he was saying any of it out loud.

"Yes, good, come on," Ray said, closing his eyes, and then everything came together, zip and thump and yes and please and now now now -- and there were no words at all.

YES

It was ridiculous. It was unexpected. It was intensely frightening, and Fraser wasn't sure he was at all adequately prepared to deal with it.

It was amazing. It was new. Was it a cliche to feel like this? Infatuation: there was no other word. He found himself distracted at unlikely times, simply going about his daily routine -- filling out a report, perhaps, or taking Diefenbaker for a run, and suddenly Ray's face would become entrenched in his mind's eye, or the memory of Ray's hands would suddenly overtake him, and he would only return to the world again minutes later.

Had this always been there? How had Ray known this was possible? How long had he known?

One moment, and everything could change. One word, and the world could be made anew.

Yes. Yes. Yes.

XENOPHOBIA

"Fraser?" Stella repeated, her eyes widening in shock. "Oh, my god."

Ray cringed inwardly, bracing himself for the full impact of the Stella's disapproval. It was a force to be reckoned with, always had been.

"Jesus, Ray," Stella said slowly. "But he's... so Canadian!"

Ray had to bite his lip. "Yeah, well, I wasn't expecting it either."

"I had no idea you were even attracted to ... Canadians," Stella said, and Ray gave up the fight against his snort.

WISDOM

Fraser kept a close eye out, just in case, but it seemed that Ray really hadn't changed at all. His actions, his persona, his core being, his values and concerns -- they all seemed to be identical to before.

Fraser pondered this in private for quite a bit. He finally brought it up to Ray after watching him spend a good portion of their dinner one evening charming and flirting with their waitress. When she'd left to get their check, Fraser mentioned it to Ray.

Ray gave him an odd look, and said, "Why would I be a different person just because we're fucking?"

This thought struck Fraser as deeply profound.

VOTE

"Yes, what is it?

"No.

"No.

"I don't recall asking your opinion on the matter.

"Oh, please.

"No, I don't think it is your business.

"Now that wasn't called for.

"You know Ray's never been anything but kind to you--

"What?

"Oh. Yes.

"I quite agree.

"Well, thank you. Not that I actually need your approval, but thank you.

"Yes, I know.

"All right, then."

UNCERTAINTY

Ray was getting nervous.

It wasn't that things were bad with Fraser, because they weren't. Things were good, Ray was pretty sure. Not that Ray knew or could tell what Fraser was thinking about any of it, but he seemed like he was good with it, too.

Still, though. It felt like everything had happened really fast. Suddenly it was serious.

Dating was one thing -- Ray'd dated a good amount back when he and Stella were off again and on again all the time, and now again since they were off forever. Dating was fine. It didn't change the whole unquestioned assumption Ray had, that Stella was it for him.

Ray wasn't sure how it'd happened, but he liked Fraser, he more than liked Fraser, and it was like quicksand. This was his last chance. If he didn't get now, that it, there was no getting out, he was in for it forever.

Ray was getting edgy.

TIME

Time, Ray said. Space.

"Just for a while," Ray had said awkwardly, not quite meeting Fraser's eyes. "It's just a little -- it's too much, Fraser, you know? Let's see what we really want."

All right. Fraser could do this. Take what is offered, no more. Take a few steps back and draw that clear line: friends, partners. Ray was a good friend and a good partner -- Fraser had never really expected anything more -- and nothing lasted forever, did it?

It wasn't hard to adjust in their working relationship, because that had never changed. The rest of their friendship, of course, couldn't be precisely what it had been, what with the new unspoken undercurrent, but there was nothing to be done about that.

What was, was. That had to be enough, Fraser thought. Dief looked distinctly dubious when Fraser shared this proposition, but he hadn't argued.

It was several weeks before he woke up in the middle of the night to the heavy pounding on his door. He made his way across the room.

Ray stood behind the door, looking desperate and pained and slightly sheepish.

"Time's up," he said.

SCENT

"What are you doing?" Ray said, squirming a little beneath Fraser's weight, where he was pinned to the couch.

Fraser ignored his restlessness, taking a deep breath where his face was pressed against the crook of Ray's neck. A day's sweat. The lingering remains of smoke, from their visit to the crime scene this afternoon. Minty gum. Fabric softener. The faint, faint smell of sex.

Fraser released Ray, sitting back up straight. The game was still on, he saw. He reached to the coffee table for a handful of pretzels.

"What was that?" Ray said, beside him.

"I was smelling you, Ray."

"Uh, why?"

Fraser glanced over at Ray, who still appeared rather rumpled. "I like the way you smell."

"Oh," Ray said, leaning back against the couch, "okay, then," and he reached for the snacks as well.

RECOGNITION

The door opened to some guy -- lame mustache, losing his hair, nervous-looking. This was the guy Fraser saw?

"Ray!" said Fraser.

"Ray?" said Ray.

"Ray Vecchio," Fraser said, beaming, breaking his face with this ridiculous smile that must have almost hurt his face -- Ray felt something sink in his stomach or his chest, something around there, something bad, but there wasn't time for any of that now, because there was goddamn Muldoon.

"Oh, dear," said Fraser.

QUEST

He didn't think Fraser thought he was serious at first. People say things when they're about to die trapped under two hundred feet of ice. They probably don't mean all of them, or most of them, but Ray'd meant his.

An adventure. Franklin and that reaching out hand. Him and Fraser -- they weren't done. They had, had a quest to do here. Important stuff. It wasn't over yet.

It was weird watching Fraser up here, seeing the difference between Fraser here and Fraser in Chicago. Because he was the same guy, still Fraser, except he was home, he was where he was supposed to be, he was happy. Ray was sort of glad he got to see it, even it was just for a little bit.

Fraser was singing that song again ("Ah, for just one time..."), as he moved around their campsite, setting things up.

Ray hummed along with him.

PARTNERS

Ray had come along with Fraser to Canada precariously attached to the wing of a plane. Now Ray was prepared to leave and return home to Chicago, this time on a proper plane, as a passenger.

Fraser had expected the sense of loss that he could feel rising as they awaited the plane's arrival, so it didn't come as a surprise.

Ray was turned away from him, looking out the window. Fraser opened his mouth to say something -- perhaps repeat what he had tried to tell Ray once before, around a campfire, about the constancy of partnership -- but instead he simply closed his mouth again without saying anything.

After a moment, he reached out his hand and clasped Ray's shoulder, squeezing gently.

Ray didn't look back at him, but Fraser could feel of his tension dissipate, and after a few moments he brought his other hand up to rest against Fraser's.

ONANISM

It was hot in Chicago, humid and sweaty and gross. The summer heat never gave you a chance to breathe, not even now, like this, in the middle of the night. Ray slept on top of the sheets with every fan running, so it was livable at least, but still not anything like comfortable.

Ray lay on the bed, staring at the ceiling and trying not to move.

It was probably still cool up in Canada. It'd been cool when Ray left, but that was a while now. Fraser was probably snoozing away in the goofy long underwear of his.

That's what Fraser'd worn the night before Ray left, even though it wasn't that cool -- Ray'd just been in his boxers and a shirt, and he'd been fine. They'd been in the hotel, then, in different beds, but Ray'd woken up during the night and Fraser had made room for him in his bed.

He'd woken up again, later in the night, but this time it was because Fraser was saying his name and touching him all over. Fraser was already out of his pajamas then, and he kissed Ray, let Ray fuck him, sweet and deep and both of them silent because there wasn't anything to say.

Thinking about it now still made Ray hard. It was too hot to do much, but it still felt good, reaching down, taking hold of himself, few slow strokes but then quick, fast, come on--

Sweaty and sticky, but the pleasure overcame the rest of it. The feeling of his hand on his dick now, the memory of Fraser's body and Fraser's mouth and Fraser's touch then -- good, good, please, Fraser, Fraser so far away, but Ray had this, even if nothing else, and this still felt good, this was good--

With a gasp, he came all over his hand and his belly.

Ray let himself close his eyes and breathe for a few minutes, and then he pulled himself off the bed. A shower would be good. Help him sleep, maybe.

NO

It was their first telephone call in weeks, but it didn't seem to take very long, going through all of their unimportant updates, the small news of their lives.

There was a silence on the line after they finished, and Fraser was taking a deep breath when Ray said, "I miss you."

He said it low, and quickly, with the words almost slurring together. Fraser might not have been able to understand if he hadn't already imagined the words from Ray's mouth, more than once.

"And I, you, Ray," said Fraser.

"No," Ray said, his voice growing louder with what seemed to be anger. "No, you don't get to do that, Fraser, just dismiss it like it wasn't something important, like the weather or something, because that was hard for me to say, and just because you've got it together all brilliant and happy and a-ok doesn't mean--"

"No," Fraser interrupted.

Ray's monologue seemed to run abruptly out of steam. "No, what?"

"No, that's not -- I miss you terribly, actually. I don't have everything together here, and I'm not brilliant and happy. I feel your absence constantly, like a lost limb. It's not--" Fraser took another deep breath. "I do miss you."

After a few moments, Ray said, "Fuck, Fraser." The anger was gone from his voice, replaced with something that might be tiredness, or sadness. "So what are we supposed to do about it? I mean, you're not about to come back to Chicago."

Fraser bit his lip and then said, "You could come up here, Ray. Live with me."

He braced himself for the 'no' that was coming, the certain rejection of the silly suggestion.

After another long moment, "Yes," said Ray.

MOVING

Ray had a lot of stuff. A lot of stuff. A ton of more stuff than he could remember getting anywhere, but either way he had it now, and he had to do something with it.

Some of the stuff was going along to Canada, so that was easy. Some of it was trash or could get carted down to the Goodwill. Some of it could probably go into storage, and Mom and Dad would take a couple of things, too.

He had been real nervous about telling his mom he was moving to Canada to live in sin with a Mountie in the middle of nowhere, but it didn't really turn out too bad. She'd said "Oh, Stanley and sounded disappointed and sighed a lot, but Ray had expected all of that.

Then she'd said, "Oh, honey, you're thirty-seven years old. You're not a teenager anymore."

Ray said something about how he knew that and everything, but this was what he wanted and he hoped she could be happy for him and stuff.

Mom had sighed again and said, "I guess you're never too old to do something completely stupid," and kissed him on the cheek.

Strangely enough, it made Ray feel a lot better.

LINENS

The sheets were a pleasant shade of light blue, picking up one of the several colors in the plaid of the quilt. Fraser hadn't spent much time debating their selection; if Ray didn't care for them, they could get something else.

The bed was a different story, of course. The bed -- well, that had quite a bit more meaning behind it, and Fraser was determined to do this right.

In the Odyssey, Penelope tested the identity of her long-lost mate with their marriage bed, suggesting the bed be moved; it was Odysseus's knowledge of the bed's true nature, built into and around a growing olive tree, that convinced her he had truly returned. Fraser's grandfather had carved his bed by hand, as a nuptial present for his bride, Fraser's grandmother, when they married. (Of course, that bed had burned, along with one of their early houses, just a few years later, but there was such thing as taking the symbolism too far.)

Fraser had never shared a bed before -- in the sense of joint ownership, at least, and not just the matter of a few night's sleep. This was not going to be his bed, small and functional, but his and Ray's. It would have to be large, and sturdy, and it would last.

He thought the one he had chosen would work well. He finished making the bed, smoothing all the linens with sharp creases, and then stepped away.

It looked warm, he thought; cozy. Homelike. Ready for Ray's arrival, and ready to fit him in.

Fraser was almost sure that he was, as well.

KIDS

One thing Ray noticed up here was the kids.

There weren't that many of them or anything, so maybe it was a little weird how much he noticed. But he saw them out of the corner of his eye every time he went through town.

Ray'd seen Fraser with kids a couple of times. He was good with them, really good, better than Ray was. Fraser liked them, even the annoying ones, and they all liked Fraser somehow, too, even when they started out making fun of them.

When Ray was twenty and twenty-five and thirty he used to walk down the street and imagine half the kids he saw as his kids, his and Stella's. If they'd ever gone ahead and had one, it'd be old now, maybe even a teenager already, high school and dates and hormones and drama. Of course, if he and Stella'd had one, Ray wouldn't be here right now. So maybe it's just as well Stella always wanted to wait a little longer.

Ray had been young when he was imagining all that stuff, though, and he wasn't young anymore, not for a while now, and neither was Fraser. In fifteen or twenty years they'd be old. Ray never thought about being a dad when he was fifty or sixty.

It wasn't like they're anywhere near to thinking about this kind of thing, anyway. Still. It was something to keep in mind, Ray thought, for later on.

JESUS

On Sunday mornings Fraser left early for church and Ray slept in. He usually woke up a couple of minutes before Fraser got home, so he'd have the coffee going and something on the stove and maybe even be sitting at the table most of the way alive once Fraser showed up.

Ray wasn't sure why it surprised him that Fraser went to church, but it did. He didn't know if Fraser had gone in Chicago or not, but he guessed it was Fraser's private little thing.

That was one of the reasons Ray didn't come along and join him ever. Of course, one of the other reasons was just sleep. Another was the fact that Ray hadn't stepped into a church outside of a case in going on twenty years. Eighteen years of early morning mass was enough for anybody, and besides, churches creeped him out. Especially Protestant churches, which always gave him the feeling he was still twenty in an uncomfortable suit exchanging rings while dozens of Stella-relatives glared at him disapprovingly.

So Ray never went along with Fraser or anything. It was possible that he was getting just as much from his sleeping and mornings with Dief as Fraser was getting there, though. At least he thought so.

INUKTITUT

At dinner, Dief and Fraser were talking again. Or, well, Fraser was talking and Dief was doing whatever it was Dief did. Normally Ray didn't mind any of this so much, but it was kind of annoying when they did it in a language he didn't understand.

He wasn't even entirely sure what language it was -- one of the native ones, he guessed, with lots of clicking and vowels and stuff. But Fraser knew more than one of those any way. Along with English. And French. And Chinese. And who knew what else.

Ray spoke English and as much Spanish as you automatically picked up after being a cop in Chicago for enough time. Ray didn't mind so much that Fraser knew all that other stuff, but the fact that the wolf knew so much more than him kind of smarted.

"You know, Fraser, that's kind of rude," Ray said eventually. "I mean, we don't all speak Inuit or whatever here."

Fraser looked up, away from Dief and towards Ray. "Inuktitut, Ray."

"Yeah, whatever." Ray shrugged. "You know, I was always thought foreign languages were supposed to sound all foreign and glamorous and sexy. Girls always loved the guys who could say something in French or something."

"Hmm," Fraser said thoughtfully. He pursed his lips and then said, slowly and clearly, "Nagligivaget."

Ray waited a minute to see if there was more, but that seemed to be it. "Yeah, see, that? Not so sexy, Fraser."

"Ah, well," said Fraser. He leaned under the table again, said one more thing to Dief, and returned up and started speaking in English again.

HOLIDAY

Ray had mentioned, in a vague sort of way, the possibility of going back to Chicago to celebrate Christmas, but somehow they didn't end up going after all.

"I thought you were kidding about the tree thing," Ray said, when Fraser brought in the bush.

"Not at all," said Fraser cheerfully, setting it down in the middle of the floor.

Ray looked at it doubtfully, but in the end he was just as involved in the decorating process as Fraser was. Candles, strings of popcorn, the handfuls of lightweight and inexpensive ornaments Ray had brought with him in his move, plastic and wood and paper mache, all on the far side of youth.

After they decorated the tree Fraser made hot cider, and they spread out the quilt on the floor and sat in front of the fire. There were no lights at all, excepts the flames from the candles and the sparks directly before them. Fraser felt warm, inside and out. Ray was close enough that if he spread out his fingers just a few centimeters more, they would touch, but Fraser didn't feel the need.

After a while, Ray said, in a low and almost dreamy voice, "Merry Christmas, Fraser."

It was a couple of seconds before Fraser managed to return the greeting.

GLASSES

Ray sat at the table, muttering to himself under breath as he fumbled with the papers and reports and files that covered the surface.

"I hate paperwork," Ray said loudly. "I hate paperwork, and I hate the Canadian government."

"That's not funny, Ray," Fraser said from across the room. He went ahead and gave up his pretense of reading, placing his bookmark back between the pages.

"I wasn't kidding," Ray said darkly, turning his glare from his piles over to Fraser.

His glasses were perched on the tip of his nose, and didn't appear particularly secure there, shaking and wobbling in position with each of Ray's strong, frustrated movements. He was bundled up a great deal, but Fraser could still make out the strength of his arms, chest, legs. The strength of his gaze was almost tangible.

Fraser caught his breath in his throat.

Ray said, "What are you looking at?"

"Nothing," Fraser said.

Ray glared at him for a little while longer, apparently just for good measure, before he turned back to cursing his papers.

FELLATIO

There was an unmistakable beauty about the naked form. Not just any naked form: Ray's naked form. Ray's body, lean and tough, sinewy and graceful, flushed and aroused.

Ray's erection was warm, soft, solid; it filled Fraser's hand, his mouth, his mind. The sheer intimacy of this act was something amazing -- that one could get this close to another human being, form this kind of connection.

It had never been like this in his previous relationships. Victoria had never allowed him to pleasure her with his mouth; their affair, brief as it was, had been confined almost solely to a sort of desperate animal rutting. It was telling only in retrospect -- but surely this would have shown him, he would have known, there would have been no secrets to be kept.

Above him, Ray made small noises, small words, repeating himself, almost babbling. Fraser had heard his name, and "good" and "yes" and occasionally "please", but mostly the words just formed a small background noise, the undistinguished pleasure of Ray's sex-formed voice.

Fraser lifted his head slowly from Ray's prick. It was shiny, wet with his saliva, and he jacked it as he looked up to Ray's face. Ray's eyes were closed, shut tight against something -- images, sensation, admission of the word outside this moment, perhaps. His body was tense, though, shot with feeling, and Fraser leaned down again to take him back in.

The intensity of Fraser's enjoyment of this always shocked him a little. But the feeling of Ray trembling beneath him, completely undone, and the knowledge of Ray that it gave him...

There was warm flesh filling his mouth, slipping in and out, over and over. There was warm flesh beneath his hand, as Ray's thighs shook with strain. There were warm hands in his hair, pulling and gently kneading, and Fraser moaned around his mouthful, rubbing his own erection against the sheets, more and more quickly. Ray -- Ray was very close now, and Fraser was not far behind -- just a little more--

Ray moaned once, low and long, stilling Fraser's head against his groin, and Fraser felt his orgasm as a revelation.

EX-PAT

Ray had been -- at one time or another -- a whole bunch of different things. Little runt and skinny Polack and smart aleck and punk kid, pig and cop, Mr. The Stella and loser, freak and partner to a freak. You got used to any of them after a while.

It was still weird the way everybody up here just thought of him as The American, though.

(That wasn't really true all the way. Ray had heard a couple of the older ladies talking about him as "the Mountie's young man" once or twice. It had to say something that that was easier to get used to.)

Being The American, though. It felt like responsibility somehow. Like he wasn't just himself, Ray Kowalski, at any given point. He was a whole entire country, with however many million people, and however many million miles, and however many hundreds of years of history. Like he represented all of it, like when he talked to them he was talking for America. It almost made him wonder if he should carry around a little flag or something.

Ray wondered sometimes if this was kind of what Fraser'd felt like in Chicago.

DEATH

It had been almost a year since Fraser had seen his father. The last time had been his father and mother both, walking hand in hand away, and disappearing in the sunlight. His parents had both died suddenly, murdered before their time. This time when Fraser lost them, he had at least gotten to say goodbye.

All of that was comforting, in its own way, but the fact remained that it had been quite a few months now, and Fraser still found himself expecting the man to show up at random or convenient times, for him to be there for Fraser to consult whenever he needed to. He'd even found himself speaking aloud, responding to things Dad hadn't said. People had been thinking he talked to himself for years, but it wasn't comfortable to think how true it was.

But, of course, Fraser was a grown man; he could stand on his own two feet. He had dealt with his father's death years ago, and he could deal with his father being gone for good now.

And, really, when he thought it over, his father's advice hadn't necessarily been particularly good, anyway, so perhaps he wasn't missing as much as he thought.

CORRESPONDENCE

Fraser had disappeared with Vecchio's letter as soon as he got home, so Ray wasn't surprised when he popped up again a while later, holding it in his hand and looking pretty serious.

Ray was wrestling with the wooden spoon and pot full of soon-to-be supper over the stove. "What is it?"

"Ray," said Fraser, and then he stopped.

"What?" Ray repeated.

"Ray," Fraser said again, carefully, "I have to to tell you something."

"Spit it out, Fraser," Ray said, stirring the gook all around the pot.

"Ray Vecchio has invited me to come and visit him in Chicago," Fraser said, gazing at Ray all wide-eyed. He paused. "He wants me to be best man at his wedding." Another pause. "To Stella."

Ray frowned. And maybe the stirring got a little more energetic, but he didn't say anything.

"Ray."

"What?" Ray looked up at him. "What are you expecting me to say?"

"To tell you the truth, I wasn't sure," Fraser said evenly.

Ray glared at him. "You're waiting for me to lose it."

Fraser talked a lot, but his silence could be freaking eloquent.

"Yeah, well, screw you," Ray said, cheerfully enough. He slammed the spoon down on the stove, and picked up the pot to dump on the table. "Dinner's served."

BEAT

It was Fraser's turn for the dishes tonight. Ray wandered over to the CD player -- it was out of batteries, so he went and got some more from the desk drawer and replaced them. Fraser was a lot faster at washing and drying than Ray was at most stuff, so by the time Ray had the music going, the volume adjusted, Fraser was done, standing there watching.

"Wanna dance?" Ray said. He spread out his arms in invitation, and Fraser's mouth curled in a half-smile. He didn't say anything, but he stepped forward to meet Ray.

Fraser was a pretty good dancer, once you got him out of his uniform. In his uniform he knew how to do everything, but he was kind of stiff -- dancing as a Mountie, not a guy. In his regular clothes like this he could relax, go along with it, let Ray lead.

Ray closed his eyes. Not a lot of space here to move, but they both knew where everything was, they weren't about to run into anything. Eyes closed, just him and Fraser and the music, the beat, as they moved.

When the song ended he opened his eyes again as they stopped. Fraser kissed him lightly on the lips and then moved away, going to pull on his boots and head outside. Ray stood there another couple of seconds, and then he smiled and kept on dancing by himself.

AFTERWARDS

Ray fell asleep immediately, tossing and moving continually through his rest. Occasionally his shifts of position would send his large sprawl over into Fraser's space, suffocatingly close, but a soft kick to the shin generally did the trick, causing another minute repositioning without waking him up.

Fraser closed his eyes and folded his arms over his chest. He could feel Ray's warmth besides him, hear him snoring gently, occasionally whuffling out nonsense syllables from his dreams -- "pizza" or "llamas" or "Dief, no." Dief himself was across the room; Fraser could hear his louder, more obnoxious snores as well. Beyond that was the howling of the wind outside.

He started to go through tomorrow's duties and his plans for the day in his head, but the bed was warm and comfortable and sweet, and before he had made it past breakfast Fraser had fallen asleep.

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Fandom:  due South
Title:  A is for Apple
Author:  Pearl-o   [email]   [website]
Details:  Standalone  |  NC-17  |  *slash*  |  27k  |  07/23/04
Pairings:  Fraser/Kowalski
Summary:  Ray and Fraser don't do things in a straightforward manner.
Notes:  Thank you to Nifra for beta.
Disclaimer/Other:  Not mine. Not mine at all.

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