AUTHOR: Nikki Harrington
FANDOM: Due South
PAIRING: Benton Fraser/Raymond Vecchio
SUB-GENRE: First Time
SUMMARY: Welsh needs Fraser and Ray to go undercover as a couple. Ray is not happy; Fraser however is perfectly okay with the idea.
WORD COUNT: 6,220
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Written for kendermouse: U - Undercover
DISCLAIMER: I don't own these characters, nor am I making any money from them. I merely borrow them from time to time.
Benton Fraser walked into the 27th Precinct, Diefenbaker at his side, to meet his unofficial partner for lunch. Even before he reached the squad room he could hear the sound of raised voices – correction a raised voice. He immediately identified it as that of his said partner.
Oh dear, he thought as he quickened his pace, Ray and Detective Gardino are arguing again. The two detectives did not exactly have a sound relationship. Gardino and his partner Huey seemed to resent - it was not a word that Ben liked to use, but it was too close to the truth to use anything else - Ray. Of course, Ray could be prickly, irascible, outspoken, pushy, even, on occasions, underhand and he was not faultless in the war. However, Ben did not believe that he was biased when he felt that the majority of the tension and arguments were caused by the Gardino/Huey paring.
Diefenbaker seemed to pick up on the mood, because he flattened his ears and raised his hackles. Ray was part of his pack, and pack animals stuck together. Ben put his hand on the wolf's neck.
"It's okay, Diefenbaker," he said, in a soothing tone, even though Dief was deaf. "Let's see if Ray needs our help before we react." His words were as much to calm Dief, as himself. Like Dief, he did not like to think of his friend in any kind of trouble.
As he entered the squad room he was surprised to see that Gardino and Huey were seated at their desks, heads down and trying to ignore (as was everyone else) the shouting coming from Lieutenant Welsh's office. Ben wondered quite what Lieutenant Welsh could have done to enrage Ray. He knew that Ray had a great deal of respect and even a guarded liking for his boss, and although he did try to push his luck somewhat, he rarely truly lost his temper. However, this time there was little respect in the irate tone and harsh words coming from Welsh's office.
Ben came to a halt and his hand went immediately to Diefenbaker's neck, preventing him from charging to Ray's defense. Under his hands he felt the tough tense muscles, and the hackles that had yet to subside. He stroked the neck and tried to calm Dief. He was suddenly aware that everyone was looking at him, but for once his inherent politeness failed him, and he did not acknowledge the looks. Instead he stood staring at the office. Ray was pacing, hands gesturing wildly in true Italian fashion, his short cropped hair was ruffled, as was his usually impeccable shirt. Ben did not quite know what to do.
"I tell you, no. I won't do it. It's not fair, it's not right. And I won't allow it!"
Ben strained to hear Welsh's reply. It was clear that this argument had been going on for some time, and that the same words had been said over and over again. However, he could not hear all of what Welsh said; he only caught the odd word, partly because he was too distracted by Ray's pacing, and in trying to keep Dief calm. The words he did hear were, "not your decision", "grown man," and "his keeper."
"It is my fucking decision." Ben was shocked. It appeared as if Ray had truly lost it. Although given to profanity on occasion, more often than Ben would have liked, Ray rarely used that particular term and he had never used it to Welsh before. Clearly Ray realized this, because Ben heard a grudging, "Sorry." When Welsh apparently let it pass without further comment, Ben began to become more troubled.
Ray yelled again. "I won't do it, and I sure as hell won't let you do it. Damn it, he doesn't even work here!"
Finally Welsh raised his voice. "And since when has that bothered you, Detective Vecchio?"
"I asked since when has that bothered you? I've told you the same thing myself, but have you ever listened?"
Ben felt Ray's angry glare. "That's different," same the stubborn reply.
"Vecchio!" Welsh shouted Ray's name and then said more quietly, "Ray, at least think about it."
"No!" Ray spat. "I've given you my answer. I'll go, but I won't ask . . ." He came to a halt both in words and pacing, as his gaze finally fell on the squad room. "Fuck!" Ben heard. And suddenly Ray swept out of Welsh's office. He paused long enough to grab his jacket from the back of his chair and was by Ben's side before Welsh could react.
"Come on, Fraser, let's get out of here." The correct pronunciation of his name suddenly troubled Ben. It was rare, very rare these days for Ray to call him Fraser. It was usually Frasier or more often Benny.
"Vecchio!" Welsh's voice cut across Ben's answer. "Get back into my office and bring the Mountie with you."
"Piss off," muttered Ray, under his breath and started to move towards the door. Dief whined.
"Ray, Ray, Ray, Ray," Ben called, catching Ray's arm and using his considerably greater body weight to bring Ray under control.
Ray stopped, but his breathing was ragged and Ben could feel the tension. It was the same tension as he'd felt in Dief a few moments before. Without conscious thought, he brought his other hand up and cupped the back of Ray's neck; he felt the tightness there. As his fingers started to move, trying to dispel the tension, Ray snarled, it sounded rather like the noise Dief made when he snarled, and pushed Ben away.
"Get the fuck off me, Fraser!" Dief growled, but the rest of the room went silent. The only other sound was Ray's ragged breathing.
Ben backed off as if Ray had been charged with electricity and his hands came up in the age old gesture of surrender. He was utterly and totally shocked by Ray's reaction to his touch. He frowned as he watched the man he thought was his friend; Ray was now shaking. His eyes met Ray's hazel ones, and he read great trouble, rage and something else. Something he couldn't identify
He tried to get his own face and eyes under control, but he had clearly failed, because Ray reached out and caught Ben's hand. "Oh, shit, Benny, I'm sorry, I'm truly sorry. It's not you, really it's not." His hand remained clasped around Ben's wrist.
"Then what is it, Ray?" Ben asked calmly, accepting without question the contrite look and voice. Whatever it was it was serious enough for Ray to react badly to his best friend. The only time he seemed to do this was when he was trying to protect Ben from something. Thus Ben wondered quite what Ray was trying to protect him from this time.
But Ray said nothing; he just stared at Ben helplessly. His shoulders were slumped and the inch in height he had over Ben, suddenly seemed to be in Ben's favor.
Then Welsh spoke, "Constable, why don't you and Detective Vecchio come into my office?" His tone was mild, and it was phrased as a question, but Ben clearly read the order.
Nonetheless, he was prepared to go with Ray's instincts. "Ray?" he asked gently.
Ray raised a weary head. "Okay," he said, his tone made it clear he was completely defeated. "But Dief stays here."
Ben blinked, and tilted his head in question.
"I just don't want him hearing what Welsh has to say, all right."
"But, Ray, Diefenbaker is deaf," Ben protested.
"Hah!" Ray said, and then before Ben could react he turned to Dief, who had been nuzzling around him and said, "Dief, go and see Elaine. Go and see what she's got for you. There's a good wolf." Ben was only partly surprised, when Dief did indeed trot over to Elaine.
Suddenly Ben was aware that he and Ray were still if not quite holding hands, then holding on to one another. "Ray," he said gently, and indicated Welsh's office. Ray was clearly deeply troubled, but he allowed Fraser to lead him over to the office.
Once inside Ben pushed the door shut. Ray slumped against the table at the back of the room, while Ben stood at rest attention, and watched Welsh regard the two of them.
Ray raised a weary hand and shrugged.
"Constable," Welsh turned his attention to Ben. "A new murder enquiry has just been passed to this department. Detective Vecchio has agreed to go undercover to try and gather some leads that will lead to an arrest and hopeful conviction." He paused and glanced at Ray.
Ben listened attentively. However, he still did not understand what the problem was. It wouldn't be the first time Ray had had to go undercover; indeed they had once done so together. So why was Ray so angry about this assignment?
Again Welsh glanced at Ray; again Ray said nothing. Finally, Welsh picked up a file, hesitated and then opened it; he selected some items and held them out to Ben. Ben heard Ray's intake of breath and saw his friend's mouth open, as if to protest. But in the end he said nothing.
Ben took the papers and glanced down at them. What he saw shocked even him and for a brief moment he wished that Ray had stopped Welsh from showing them to him. There were three pictures in all, all depicting men who were clearly dead. They had obviously been tortured and beaten and two had been dismembered. From the look of the third, it was clear to Ben that he had been raped.
He glanced up and met Welsh's eyes. If this was the case that Ray was going to go undercover on, then Ben did not want him to go without back-up; he wouldn't let him go without back-up. He didn't stop to think just how he would prevent the latter; he just knew that he would, even if it meant kidnapping Ray and taking him to Canada! He almost laughed at the thought, and decided that it was just the pictures which had had that affect on him. He handed them back. Welsh took them, again looked at Ray, who still refused to meet his eye, and then Welsh looked back at Fraser.
"Detective Vecchio will be going to the club where these murders have all taken place. Or rather where the victims were all patrons," Welsh amended. Fraser watched politely. "The club is called Hilton's". Welsh said, and waited; he was clearly expecting a reaction from Ben. However, the name meant nothing to him; but why should it? It wasn't a place that he and Ray had visited.
Finally, Ray seemed to come to life. He gave a harsh laugh and said, "Fraser's Canadian, Lieutenant, the name won't mean anything to him." Then before Welsh could say anything else, Ray looked at his friend and said, "It's a gay club, Benny."
It was absurd but the use of the pet name, seemed to relax Ben, and he smiled. However, Ray clearly misinterpreted the smile because he ran his hand over his head and spoke again. His tone was weary and slightly exasperated. "You know queers, fags, homosexuals, po-"
Ben cut in. "I do know the meaning of the term ‘gay,' Ray," he said gently.
"Oh." Ray shrugged.
"Lieutenant," Ray said, turning from Ray to Welsh. He was uncertain of quite how what he was about to say would go down, but he was determined to say it. "Ray cannot go in there alone. He will need back-up, someone to act as his . . ." He broke off, and felt himself blush slightly.
Ray laughed the harsh, hard laugh again.
Welsh said, "Er, yes, Constable, I know that. That is what Detective Vecchio and I were discussing when you arrived. I'm guessing you've gathered Vecchio here doesn't approve of my suggestion."
"Ray?" Ben turned to look at his friend.
Ray leaped to his feet. "I'm telling you, no!" he shouted. "I keep telling you I'll go with Gardino."
"And I keep telling you, Detective, the answer is no," Welsh said, his tone was reasonable, but clearly he was tired of rehashing the same argument.
"Why not?" Ray snapped, "Don't you think my acting abilities are up to pretending that Gardino and me are lovers?"
"Oh, I do not believe that it is your undercover abilities that Lieutenant Welsh is questioning, Ray," Ben said, before he really thought about it.
"What?" Ray whirled to face his friend.
Ben glanced at Welsh, wondering if he dare say what was on his mind. He knew that Welsh did not consciously have favorites, and would never lessen one of his detectives in front of another, but . . .
"I believe that Lieutenant Welsh does not feel that Detective Gardino, while no doubt a fine detective, has the necessary skills to carry out this particular undercover operation."
Ray blinked, and looked at this boss.
Welsh stared at Fraser and then around his office. Fraser could see him summing up the best way to respond. Finally he spoke, "The Mountie's right, Vecchio, I don't doubt your abilities, but I do doubt Gardino's. You and he can barely manage a civil word under normal circumstances."
"Oh," Ray replied, clearly confused and somewhat mollified. He looked from Welsh to Ben and back again. Ben again read the mixed look in his eyes.
"Ray?" he said gently, but firmly, asking a question the single word.
Ray stared for a long moment, and then threw up his hands and said, his tone defeated, "Okay, Benny, okay. Welsh here thinks that it would be the best thing if you went undercover with me." He lowered his head and refused to meet Ben's eyes. Ben could hear angry mutterings in Italian, and made a mental note to find out just what Ray was saying.
"You want Ray and me to pretend to be lovers?" he clarified, glancing at Welsh.
"Er, yes," Welsh said, his eyes flicking between the two men. "We thought that having an established couple, so to speak, would be safer all round."
"I understand," Ben said.
"Do you, Benny?" Ray said, softly. "Do you, really?"
"Why, yes, Ray, I believe I do," Ben answered.
"The answer is still no," Ray said, defiantly.
"No, Benny. No."
"Trust me on this one, Benny. I said no. Okay, so not Gardino, find me someone else. I don't care who," Ray turned from Ben, towards Welsh. "The discussion's over, hell it never took place, all right? You asked him; I said no, it's over."
Ben forced back a smile. Did Ray really know how that had sounded? Part of him was touched that Ray should be so protective, but part of him was exasperated. Did Ray really think so little of his acting abilities? Did Ray believe that he wouldn't be able to carry out the role of Ray's lover?
Welsh, clearly gauging the moment said gently, "I don't believe it is your decision to make, Ray."
Ray's head came up, sharply and his eyes blazed as he stared at his boss. His hand went to his belt, but Ben caught it before Ray could remove his badge. "Ray," he said, he felt the tension again, as Ray silently fought with him. "Ray," he said repeated and waited. Finally, Ray looked at him. "Lieutenant Welsh is quite correct, Ray," he said carefully." Ray's mouth fell open, and his eyes blazed again. He tried to pull away, but still Ben held firm. "We need to talk, Ray."
"Ray!" Ben made his voice commanding, the kind of tone he occasionally used on Dief. He saw the surprise in Ray's wide eyes, and then his shoulders dropped again in defeat.
"Okay, Benny, we'll talk. But," his head came up again, "I can tell you what the answer will be." This time he succeeded in pulling away from Ben, but only because Ben let him, and he strode to the door. "Leave Dief with Elaine!"
Ben nodded at Welsh and followed Ray out of the room. He was still surprised by Ray's refusal to let Diefenbaker be involved in the talks.
He caught up with Ray in the corridor. Ray was standing and looking around him, as though unsure of where to go. The Riv's keys were in his hand, but Ben did not feel that talking in the car was a good idea. He realized where they were and reached out and pulled Ray's arm. The closet door closed behind them.
"Fraser, why do we always seem to have our discussions in closets?" Ray asked.
"Because we are rarely interrupted," Ben replied, settling himself down, and reaching out to pull Ray down opposite him.
"Oh, I wonder why that is?" Ray's tone was sarcastic and he fell silent. Then just as Ben was about to speak, Ray said, "At least this one has a light." He pulled it on.
"May I ask you what your problem with this assignment is?"
"I don't have a problem, Benny."
"Actually, Ray, I believe that you do. But let us leave that for a moment."
"Yeah, let's," Ray muttered.
"In the meantime perhaps you could tell me why Lieutenant Welsh believes that you and I would make convincing undercover . . ." Ben paused.
"Lovers?" Ray tone, whilst not quite belligerent, was not overly friendly.
"Apparently he thinks that we're 'comfortable together'; that's the term he used." Ray was quite clearly ill at ease.
"Yeah. You know at ease with one another, tactile . . ."
"You're Italian, Ray."
"I know I'm Italian, Fraser, what the hell has that to do with it?"
"Just that you are a tactile person, you touch a lot of people."
"Yeah, but apparently I touch you more than most."
"We are friends, Ray."
"I know, Benny, I know."
"In fact you're my best friend, Ray." Ben's tone was softer, and he felt the hand under his arm (he hadn't even been consciously aware that he was still holding Ray's arm) relax.
"I know, Benny. And you're mine." Ray's tone had lost its belligerence, although Ben thought he now sounded slightly embarrassed.
"So it's natural that you would touch me more than, say Detective Gardino."
"I'd rather touch a wild animal than Lewie," Ray retorted.
"Actually, Ray . . . No, forget it," Ben said and hurried on. "And yet you were prepared to go undercover with Detective Gardino, prepared to act as if he were your lover?"
"Don't remind me," Ray answered. Ben noticed that he hadn't made any attempt to remove his arm from Ben's hand.
"Why were you prepared to do that, Ray?"
"Benny, you saw the pictures, someone has to catch that sadistic bastard."
"Agreed, Ray. But Lieutenant Welsh suggested an entirely logical partner for you, and you rejected that partner, without even talking it over. I just wondered why, Ray? I am able to take care of myself you know and I have, in fact, saved your life on more than one occasion. Admittedly that on several of those occasions, I was the one responsible for putting your life in danger, but I do not see that that -"
"Benny," Ray interrupted the flow of Fraser's words.
"I didn't think you'd go for it, that's all. I didn't want to embarrass you or have Welsh embarrass you by asking you to do something like that. It didn't seem right."
"But you are prepared to do it, Ray."
"It's my job, Benny."
"Agreed, Ray, but on the other hand . . ."
"I am not entirely certain that every detective, no matter how horrified he was by the pictures would willingly have agreed to the operation. And I also do not believe that Lieutenant Welsh would have insisted that someone take on the role if he were not willing. Am I not correct?"
"Benny, Benny, Benny. Okay, let me tell you this, if Welsh had approached Gardino, he'd probably have wet himself at the thought. That or throw up."
"You mean he's homophobic, Ray?"
"I thought that prejudice in any form was illegal within the police force of the United States of America, Ray. Every man or woman has a right to . . ."
"Benny, this isn't Canada."
"I am aware of that, Ray. However . . ."
"Look, Benny, what you believe in is an ideal; it doesn't happen in the real world. I keep trying to tell you that. Everyone, everybody . . ." Ray broke off, and for the first time really looked at Ben. "Almost everybody," he amended, "is prejudiced in one way or another. Me I hate smokers. Dewey he hates pushers. Gardino hates gays."
"But you wouldn't let your hatred for a smoker stand in your way of preventing an injustice, would you, Ray?"
"It's a bit different, Benny."
"I don't believe it is, Ray. In fact I recall your mother telling me that you did once have to go undercover as someone who smoked - smoked heavily, I believe she told me. It was essential for the role. You didn't refuse to do so."
"And did she also tell you that I threw up every night? And was sick for a week afterwards?"
"Yes, Ray. But my point is: you did it."
"Yeah, Benny. So I'm working towards my sainthood."
"Ray . . ." Ben decided not to pursue that line and returned to his original question. "So, Ray, knowing what you know about Detective Gardino, knowing that Lieutenant Welsh believed us to be comfortable with one another, knowing that I am your best friend, knowing that . . ."
"There's a point to this, is there, Benny?"
"Yes, Ray, knowing all of those things, you were still prepared to refuse to ask me, or indeed to let Lieutenant Welsh ask me, if I would consider the role. Why, Ray?"
"I told you, Benny, I didn't want to embarrass you."
"Did you really believe that I would be embarrassed, Ray. Or did you think that I too am homophobic?"
"No, Benny, of course not. That thought never crossed my mind. I swear. It was just . . ."
"Just what Ray?"
"Leave it, Benny." Now Ray did try to move his arm, but Ben would not let him.
"Just what, Ray?" Ben persisted.
"Damn it, Fraser, do you know that you are the most aggravating man in the whole world?"
"So I believe you have told me on several occasions, Ray."
"Yeah, and you still go on being aggravating," Ray muttered; he finally gave up trying to extract his arm.
"Okay, Fraser, you win. You want to know why I didn't want you to be asked? Okay, I'll tell you. Because I wasn't totally sure that you knew what it was, and I didn't want to be the one to have to tell you. And even if you did know, I didn't know if you knew just what . . . just what . . .just what . . ."
"Just what, Ray?"
"Just what two men do together. Okay?" Ray had pulled away and stood up, and he was pacing in the enclosed space of the closet.
"Really, Ray, I am an adult you know? Where do you think I was brought up? I am not entirely ignorant on the subject of sex. After all, you must remember . . ."
"Don't Fraser. Just don't. Okay?" Ray turned on his heel and grasped Ben's shoulder, shaking him. "Don't say her name," he hissed.
Ben was silent. It was the one thing the two of them had not spoken about, not since he had recovered from Ray shooting him. Ray was seemingly more bothered by Victoria's memory than Ben was. He knew that his best friend still blamed himself for the bullet in Ben's back, but more Ben knew that Ray hated with a passion beyond any reason he could think of, Victoria Metcalf. So he kept his counsel and did not say her name.
Ray was shaking, as he always did if the subject ever got close to mentioning Victoria, and Ben caught his hand and encouraged him to sit back down. After allowing him a few moments to recover, he spoke again. "Well, Ray?"
"I don't know, Benny, I guess I just never thought that your grandparents' library would have those sorts of books," Ray said. Again his eyes had narrowed slightly; Ray did not like talking about Ben's grandparents either. He seemed to dislike them as well, and no amount of Ben trying to persuade Ray that he had never wanted for anything, at least not educationally wise, as a child made any difference. Ray was convinced that his best friend had lost out as a child. Sometimes, in a quiet moment, Ben agreed with him.
"They didn't, Ray, at least not any I found. But the Inuit . . ."
Ray groaned, "Oh, not another Inuit story, Benny."
"Not exactly, Ray. It is just that the Inuit do not have the cultural hang-ups that a number of you Americans and other western people seem to have when it comes to the subject of sexual activity with you own sex."
"You mean there are gay Eskimos?"
Ben frowned slightly, but spoke anyway. "Why should there not be, Ray? What does the race matter? The Inuit are attracted to the person first; the gender is unimportant. Indeed, they are like wolves in that respect."
"Yes, Ray, wolves. You know, of course, that wolves mate for life?"
"You have mentioned it once or twice, yes."
"Indeed, well, Ray, some of them mate with their own sex."
"Oh, I didn't know that, Benny."
There was silence for a moment.
"So, Benny, you do know about . . . about gay sex?"
"Oh, yes, Ray," Ben's voice was light.
Ray jumped. "Just how much do you know? I mean did you ever . . . have you . . ." He broke off and blushed, a deep red.
Ben regarded his friend impassively. "No, Ray. But I have observed it."
Ray was on his feet. "You've what?"
"Ray, Ray, Ray, Ray," Ben tried to calm his friend who was again pacing around the small room. "Calm down, Ray."
"Calm down, calm down. Yeah, Benny, I'll calm down. Here am I thinking that you are some nice innocent Mountie and you calmly tell me that you've been a voyeur? What next, a pimp?"
"Really, Ray, there is no need to be sarcastic. And I wasn't."
"Wasn't what?" Ray had allowed himself to be seated again.
"A voyeur. I was invited to . . ." Ben stopped as Ray held up his hand.
"Enough already, Fraser. Enough already."
Silence filled the room again.
"So you think we should do it, Benny?" Ray finally asked.
"Indeed I do, Ray."
Ray licked his lips. "Do you really think you can, Benny?"
"Can what, Ray?"
"Hold my hand?"
"Oh, yes, Ray," and Ben lowered his gaze, to where their hands were now joined.
Ray swallowed. "Dance with me?"
"I have already done that, Ray."
"But you were a woman then," Ray sounded almost desperate.
"I do not think that would make a difference, Ray."
"But it might mean different kind of dancing."
Ben tilted his head, in question.
"We might have to, you know," and Ray let go of Ben's hand to gesture. Bringing his two hands together and waving them around.
"Hold one another?" Ben finally said, after watching Ray's hands for several seconds.
"Yeah." Ray blushed again.
"It wouldn't be the first time I have put my arms around you, or you have put yours around me."
Ray frowned, then he licked his lips again, and muttered something.
"I'm sorry, Ray, I didn't hear you."
Ben blinked. "Now, Ray?"
"No, no, no. Not now, Benny. I meant do you think you could kiss me? I mean if you had to, it might not come to that. That is . . . W might not have to . . . It might not . . ."
"Yes, Ray," said Ben, interrupting Ray's monologue.
"Oh," said Ray.
"What about you, Ray? Could you kiss me?"
Ray shrugged, "Yeah," he said nonchalantly. Then he said more seriously, "Yes, Benny, I could."
"In that case, Ray, I believe there is nothing more to be said." And Fraser started to rise.
This time it was Ray who stopped him. "Just a minute, Benny," he said. "There's one other thing you should know."
"Ah, yes, of course."
"Of course?" Ray sounded flummoxed.
"Yes, Ray, whether you have had experience or not. Oh, dear, Ray, I am sorry, I did not mean to make you choke."
"That's okay, Benny," Ray finally gasped, as he wiped his eyes. "That wasn't what I was referring to."
"Oh. But have you?"
"I believe that it will help the operation if I am fully aware of all the eventualities. That is to say . . ."
"Can we talk about this later?"
"Oh, of course, Ray, if you'd prefer it."
"Yes, Benny, I would."
"Understood, Ray. So what is it that I ought to be aware of, if it isn't your past, or lack of past, experience."
Ray sighed. "If we do this then people, some people," he added hastily, "might get the wrong idea."
"The wrong idea, Ray?"
"The wrong idea, Benny. They might put two and two together, and you know what they'd come up with?"
"Four, Ray." Ben was confused.
Ray sighed, wearily. "No, Benny, five."
"But, Ray, I assure you that two and two do not make five. Even if you . . ."
"If we do this, then some people are likely to believe that we . . . That we . . . That we . . . Oh, shit, that we really are lovers, Benny. They won't believe that we're acting."
"Is that all you have to say, Fraser, ‘oh'? Doesn't it bother you that people are going to be thinking that you and me are, you know. Doesn't it bother you that people'll be making up lies about you? About me? About us?"
"No, Ray, and yes."
Ray blinked. "You wouldn't care to explain that for me, would you, please, Benny? I'm just some poor dumb Italian American cop, I aren't up to your Mountie level of cross talk."
"I'm sorry, Ray."
"Don't be sorry, just explain."
"It would not bother me, as you put it, that people might think that we are lovers. But it would bother me that people were lying about you, about us."
"Oh," said Ray. "I see, I think," he added, not looking terribly sure.
"Would it bother you, Ray?"
"Of course it would bother me!" Ray exclaimed.
"Oh, oh, dear. In that case, maybe you were right."
"To decline Lieutenant's Welsh's suggestion. If the thought of people thinking that you and I were lovers bothers you, then, it is maybe for the best if you find someone else. Someone who isn't so close to you, someone who -"
"Hold on, Benny," Ray said, holding up his free hand. "That's not quite what I meant."
"No. I meant . . . I meant . . . Well, I guess I meant what you meant. I don't care what people think about me, Benny. I don't make friends easily, I know my character, I'm a Catholic Italian American cop; people have thought things about me for years. I just never wanted people thinking that sort of things about you. But I don't give a damn if they think it. Besides -" He clamped down hard on his teeth, and Ben heard them snap.
"Besides what, Ray?"
"Nothing," Ray's tone firm, and he had again lowered his head.
"Leave it, Benny."
"Ray?" For some reason Ben was not prepared to leave it.
"Okay, okay. Some people already think that about us."
"How do you know, Ray? Has someone said something?"
"Yeah. The odd comment about how we're always together. People always asking, ‘Where's the Mountie?' when you're not around. People asking where Dief sleeps, that sort of thing."
"That doesn't necessarily mean that they think that we are . . ."
"Lovers, Benny. You're going to have to get used to saying it, if you really think we're going to carry off this role."
"Understood, Ray. But those comments do not necessarily mean what you think they mean."
"No, I know, Benny. But I also happened to overhear a couple of the guys in the men's room. What they said was pretty damned direct."
"Yeah, really, Benny. And it's no good giving me that wide eyed Mountie look; I am not going to tell you what they said. Just take it from me, it left me in no doubt at all that they thought we were lovers."
"Oh, dear. Do you think that's why Lieutenant Welsh suggested that I be your partner for this assignment?"
"Nah. If Welsh seriously believed what he may or may not have heard, he'd have asked me about it Fraser. Being a gay cop might not be illegal, but it's still not exactly a common occurrence, and superiors like to know."
"You know, Ray, someone asked me where Diefenbaker slept. They also asked me if I liked your cologne. I had no idea that they might be suggesting what you believe they were suggesting."
"I'm sorry, Benny, I had hoped that no one had said anything to you."
"It doesn't matter, Ray. It doesn't bother me, but maybe I should stop coming round so often? Maybe we should stop spending so much time when we are off-duty together."
"No!" Ray snapped at Ben. "Sorry, Benny, I didn't mean to startle you. I don't want that, you're my best friend, Benny, I like the time we spend together. Besides, it'd just give them more ammunition. Make them more sure."
"Yes, Benny. One of the classic signs that two people have moved from being just good friends to sleeping together is when they start to avoid one another."
"Oh. Is that true, Ray?"
"Yeah, Benny, it's true. So what did you tell them?"
"These people - the ones I suppose you aren't going to give names to?"
"I don't believe I will, Ray, no."
"Probably wise. So?"
"Oh. I told them that Diefenbaker sometimes slept on my bed and sometimes he slept on the floor, and that yes I did like your cologne. I liked it very much." Ben looked at Ray who was smiling and shaking his head. "Were they not the right things to say, Ray?"
"Let's say, Benny, that they probably added to the speculation. But, hey, don't worry about it. You told the truth and that's all that's important. Hey, wait up. You like my cologne?"
"You've never said."
"You've never asked, Ray."
"Can we get out of the closet now?"
"Yes, Ray. I believe that it is time we went and told Lieutenant Welsh about our decision. I imagine that he will be surprised."
"Somehow I doubt it," muttered Ray.
"Really, Ray? Why?"
Ray seemed to ignore the question and instead asked. "Benny, have you ever considered that you might be a wolf?"
Ben blinked. "Er, Ray, I do not quite understand what you mean. After all, I have not mated for life. There have been . . ."
"That's not what I meant, Fraser," Ray cut in quickly.
"Oh. What then, Ray?" Ben was genuinely curious. They moved to the door, and he held it open for Ray.
"You once told me that when you let a wolf save your life, you pay and pay and pay for it."
And with that Ray swept out of the closet, nearly bumping into Thompson and Wright as he did so. Ben followed closely on his heels saying. "Ray, I'm not entirely sure that I understand."
"Later, Benny, later." Ray said, and led the way into the squad room.
Ben heard a swallowed laugh behind him, but decided to ignore it.
TWO MONTHS LATER
"You are aware, are you not, Ray, that the case was solved two weeks ago?"
"Yeah, Benny, I am. I remember all the paperwork. Why are you asking?"
"Well, it is just that we really no longer have any need to . . . Well, to do what we have just done. Have we?"
Ray pushed himself up onto one arm and looked down at Ben. "The lease on the apartment still has another month to run. Seems a shame to waste it, doesn't it?" And with those words he put his arms around Ben and began to kiss him.
Ben kissed him back, parting Ray's mouth with his, and pressed his naked body against Ray's, rubbing their erections together until both of them climaxed.
"Yes, Ray," he murmured, quite some time later. "It does indeed seem a shame.