Disclaimer: If they were mine, the bald guy would get a lot of
Spoilers: Call of the Wild.
Summary: Fraser goes visiting.
Ratings Note: G. I'm blaming the drugs.
Author's Note: It's Laura's fault, too.
Acknowledgments: And Laura even audienced *and* gave me
the title. Bad, good Laura.
Feedback is almost as good as morphine. email@example.com
There is no earthly reason that Fraser can imagine for there to
be a fireplace in Ray Vecchio's Florida home, though there are
many for it to be lit.
It is, after all, the Christmas season, and Ray had hugged him
very tightly, very close. Held onto his upper arms for long
moments while searching his eyes with something like a happy
Fraser had not written ahead. Had not, to be perfectly honest,
known he'd come, but it seems that he is welcome, after all.
Bullets and bowling alleys.
And so there is a small fire lit, and all the windows are open so
that they don't swelter in the Florida heat. Stella is working late.
Fraser offered to go over floor plans for the firm Ray is doing
security consulting work for, but that had been waved off with a
look of half-exaggerated offense.
Ray didn't quite offer a rant on the nature of people who put
their friends to work immediately upon their arrival, but then,
The thought is difficult to finish.
They drink espresso in front of the fire, warmth everywhere
conspiring to heat Fraser clean through. There is an urge to
remind himself that he'll be in the Territories again, soon. His
father's old patrol is, at last, his own.
All he'd ever wanted. (to believe)
The small, unquiet voice of dissatisfaction, and Fraser finds
himself categorizing the house and the man in front of him. All
of it a study in stylish understatement that makes him wonder.
There are so many questions I never got to ask you; he wants
There is silver in Ray's hair now. The curve of his neck still
"You all right over there? You faded for a minute."
"Oh, yes. Quite all right. Just woolgathering."
"So, Welsh sent me a card way back when. Said you and the
new guy went off on some kind of adventure?" Ray is leaning
back, nestled casually in the plush beige leather of the couch.
Offering him space to speak and breathe.
It's all wrong. It would probably be terribly uncouth to jump up
and yell, "my God, man, what has she done to you?"
Especially since that is... not quite right.
There's nothing wrong with Ray at all.
It's himself that's busily ruining a perfectly pleasant evening
and Ray knows it.
Is only waiting for Fraser to tell him why. Calmly.
I remember when you used to wear colors; he wants to say,
though Ray toned his wardrobe down well before he went
undercover. It hadn't seemed so far beyond the realm of
possibility to believe that it was a reflection of a calmer
mindstate. A mindstate that he, Fraser, had helped to foster.
"Well, Ray, it was wonderful to be in the Territories again --"
"Only you, Benny." An affectionate shade of Ray's former self,
fascinatingly different from the man Fraser had inadvertantly
stopped from pretending to be (becoming) Armando
"Actually, I think Ray -- the other Ray, that is, -- was actually
coming to enjoy himself, as well. He certainly became
acclimatized more rapidly than I would've imagined."
"Really? I would've thought he'd run home to mama after a
"Relax, Benny, I know he's a good cop."
Fraser looks away from Ray carefully. "Yes. An excellent police
officer. He returned to the twenty-seventh precinct just this
past week, actually."
"Just hmming, Benny."
"I think I'm beginning to understand how truly irritating that
"We'll make an American outta you yet, my friend."
"There's no call for threats, Ray."
Short bark of laughter, and Ray unfolds himself from the couch,
all lean grace, to get them more espresso. Fraser works on
stilling himself enough to stay cool, stilling his thoughts enough
to understand exactly what he needs to get out of this visit,
"You gonna look at me anytime soon?"
Both of his Rays have always trusted themselves, save for
momentary exceptions. Fraser believes there is no quality
The green of Ray Vecchio's eyes does nothing to detract from
the sadness there. "Benny. You. You've gotta do something for
me, all right?"
"You've gotta learn how to stop being alone. Look, I know it's
hard, I *know*, but you can't keep doing this to yourself. I. I
don't know how to say it more plain.
"There's a million women out there dying for you, Benny. A lot
of 'em don't even know how to *use* a gun. And if. If that isn't
what you need, there's men, too. Stella knows --"
" -- a lot of gay --"
"... I mean, I thought you and the new guy for sure --"
"Ray, *please*. Please don't."
"Benny, I can't watch you ripping yourself up like this --"
"I. I should go."
"Benny, Jesus *Christ* --"
Ray's hand on his arm. Warm, so warm. Long, strong fingers
and they're both sitting down. Closer this time. Fraser
remembers how close Ray would get when they worked together.
Fraser remembers every cologne Ray tried, and those few,
wonderful days when he wore no scent but his own.
"Benny, c'mon, work with me here, isn't there some kind of
natural law about this? Hairless apes? Big no on the alone?"
"Traditionally, primates don't survive very long on their own,
"But, Ray, no one is ever truly alone in modern society."
"Benny, do not, do *not* give me that *bullshit*. You're the
loneliest guy I know, so why don't you tell me *why*?"
Fraser could kiss Ray, if only to show him. The violence he
would gladly take for the memory of Ray's mouth, however he
thinks he might vomit if he moves right now. Touching... he
feels entirely too clumsy.
His tongue feels too thick for speech.
And so he only looks at him, with his walls down. As open as
he can be.
And keeps looking.
"Aw, Benny, no."
For a moment Ray grips his arm tighter and Fraser's heart
lurches, despite the look on Ray's face.
"You can't, you just *can't*..."
And when Ray stands, turns away to pace, Fraser gathers his
light jacket and leaves, walking quickly.
Ray doesn't follow.
Perhaps he will be able to get an earlier flight back to