Pairing: Fraser/RayK
Category: First time, romance and a wee bit of drama
Rating: R
Summary: The air was chilly but Ray realized that he'd missed that too. He wondered if the air was even crisper where Fraser was.
Notes: Set a few years after CotW
Thanks to: Aukestrel for the speedy beta -- I love a woman who can point me in the direction of the bad and tell me to fix it *g* -- and thanks for the note about the Depot not being in Ottawa *g*

Ray took a deep breath as he stepped out of the crowded airport. Maybe he was kidding himself, but even Ottawa's air smelled fresher than Chicago's; and he allowed himself a small smile.

It had been a few years since his last trip up here, and this time around, unfortunately, he was Fraser-less, a thought that wiped the smile off his face.

They'd tried to plan ahead, tried to get the same time-off for vacations, but something had always come up, cases, weather, crime, etc.

Ray's smile returned somewhat. Of course, getting a cab was easy with polite people around him and before long, Ray was on his way to his hotel, watching the streets of Ottawa flash past him.

Being back in Canada made Ray's heart ache again. Not that it had ever really stopped. So, here he was, alone in Ottawa. Tomorrow and the coming weeks, he'd be ass-deep in meetings. Yeah, old Chicago flatfoot Kowalski was a wanted man. Ray sighed and looked out the window. His life sure had changed this last year. He'd gone from crime solving to crime prevention. One last ugly case had taken away that little part of him that had still enjoyed his job.

Coupled with the lack of suitable partners, he'd been close to burning out when an old buddy of his, a social worker who hung around the gym, had asked him to help with a new project.

Welsh, of course, had pushed Ray as well and as much as Ray fought it, he knew Welsh had wanted only the best for him.

A flash of red made Ray turn his head, but of course the chance of seeing the red serge was far greater up here than in Chicago. Damn, he wished he'd known earlier that he'd be in Canada, because maybe, just maybe he could have gotten word to Fraser in time for him to take a quick trip to Ottawa.

Ray lost himself in fond memories of their quest for the hand of Franklin. It had been good. So damned good. Maybe if he'd been more stubborn, if he'd told Fraser that he wanted to stay...

Nah, Fraser would probably have told him some Inuit story that was to be interpreted as a 'no'. Ray wasn't sure he could handle a no. Not that this way was much better, but at least he didn't know that Fraser didn't want him.

Fuck, he was giving himself a headache.

The next time he concentrated on the street outside, the cab was slowing to a halt in front of his hotel.

Paying the driver, Ray had to smile as the guy actually got out, helping him with his suitcase. Wow, he could actually get used to this. No pissy taxi-driver here.

Checking into the hotel took no time and before Ray knew it, he was closing the door to his hotel room, looking longingly at the bed. Okay, it wasn't a huge hotel room, but it was more than enough for his needs.

If only it had come with a Mountie too. Ray grinned at the thought, although any old Mountie wouldn't do.

Ray dropped his suitcase next to the bed and let himself fall back on the bed, feeling the softness envelop his body. "Oh, Frase," he whispered as he closed his eyes tiredly. "What if we'd done things differently? If I hadn't been such a damned coward?"

Wasted breath, really, Ray thought to himself. Feeling more than his years weighing him down, Ray forced himself back up, for a shower, a cup of coffee and then proper sleep.

Okay, he needed another cup of coffee, ASAP. Half the day had been boring as hell, meeting with the brass who was interested in the project. At least Ray had mostly been there as a counselor so he was simply expected to answer specific questions.

Brady, who was the man behind the Ottawa Youth Foundation -- nicknamed 'Chances Project', had fought tooth and nail and Ray was impressed. They really wanted this to work. Ray didn't blame him. He'd been surprised himself at how well the project had worked in Chicago.

A slight smile flitted over his lips as he went out into the streets of the city. Late afternoon. Too early for dinner, just right for coffee. He'd had trouble fitting into the project when he'd started helping out, but now he knew their results and he figured there wasn't much difference between kids in the US and Canada. Well, except people expected Canadians to behave. Which of course they didn't, they were, even if Ray occasionally claimed otherwise, human.

He'd seen teens who would have ended up to their necks in shit pull themselves together with the right type of motivation, get through school and actually strive to get to a better place than their parents had.

Yeah, he was proud of his kids, that was for sure. He'd told Fraser in a letter that his 'kick 'em in the head' attitude seemed to work better than lecturing the kids. So he told the kids exactly what he thought and somewhere, most of them, respected that more than some soft empathic approach. And Ray knew perfectly well he'd never be considered soft or empathic.

Hmmm, now to find a decent coffee shop, then maybe dinner or something. The air was chilly but Ray realized that he'd missed that too. He wondered if the air was even crisper where Fraser was.

Damn, he really knew how to depress himself. Ray tried to swing his thoughts back to the kids Brady had introduced him to earlier. Nice kids, a little rough around the edges, but good kids nevertheless.

A distant howl made him turn his head. If he didn't know any better he'd have guessed it was a wolf, but figured it was probably a dog somewhere disagreeing with its owner. He grinned at the memory of Dief. Man, that wolf sure knew his way around donuts.

Shuffling along the street, Ray hardly noticed the people around him. He'd bought himself some time by working with the kids, that was for sure. He'd have been one burned out cop if he hadn't changed venue. Still, it might not be enough for the future.

Maybe he should find Fraser after this? Take a nice long leave and find Fraser and damned well tell him how he felt -- Ray smiled as he remember Fraser's soft, reassuring words about partnership, about how his own father and Frobisher had been apart for long periods of time but never once lost their partnership.

"There's red ships 'n' green ships, but no ships like partnerships," Ray muttered to himself. Fraser had told him he'd said that at one point of their crazy hunt for Muldoon.

Life sure never had been boring back then. Not with Fraser around. The man attracted weirdness like no one else.

God, how he missed... Ray's world tilted as something his him hard in the chest, throwing him on his ass on the pavement. Ray threw his hands up to defend himself against his unknown assailant, but his face was bathed in bad breath and drool...

Wait a second.

Digging his fingers into the thick fur, Ray pushed the writhing bundle far enough away to get a good look at it. As he sat there on the pavement, an overjoyed wolf danced around and over him, yipping and licking him like there was no tomorrow.

"Dief..." Ray whispered. Holding on to the thick fur, he shook the wolf before pulling him close. "Dief, you crazy mutt."

"Hey, Mister, you okay?"

Ray turned his head and found several people staring at him. He wondered what they thought might be going on -- at least no one had tried to put Dief down as a mad dog.

"I'm... I'm fine," Ray gasped, realizing for the first time in ages that it was the truth. His audience shrugged and there were a few smiles as Ray concentrated on saying hi to Dief and then tried to get to his feet.

Dief danced around him, then bit into his long coat, dragging him in the direction he'd been going. Ray's heart beat a little faster. Where Dief was, Fraser...

The wolf seemed to understand that they were on the same page, because he let go of Ray's coat and set off in a run. Ray grinned and set off after Dief. Dodging and diving between pedestrians, he never once lost sight of Dief, knowing that he'd have to follow the wolf to find Fraser.

If indeed Frase was here and Dief wasn't just a figment of his imagination.

It felt both surreal and strangely right to chase a deaf half-wolf through the streets of Ottawa. People stopped and stared, but Ray couldn't care less as he ran, coat flapping around him and he knew he had a huge stupid grin on his face. Wasn't a dream, couldn't be one...

At the next intersection he stopped, couldn't see Dief anywhere until a howl pierced the street noise and Ray found Dief impatiently waiting for him. Ray skidded to a halt in front of a large building. The mother ship, he thought with a smile. He watched Dief disappear through the front doors and with butterflies wreaking havoc, Ray slowly followed.

Inside, there was a low buzz of activity and Ray stopped to adjust to the light and to find Dief. Who, of course, had disappeared.

Maybe...? Maybe he had dreamed Dief up and run like a maniac through Ottawa. Just when he was about to give up and leave again, Ray heard the bark, then he heard the admonishment. So very familiar and missed.

Ray turned and looked at one of the hallways and froze. Around the corner came a familiar sight, impeccable as always, perfectly edible in that damned red serge...

"Frase?" Ray's voice broke and he fought the feeling of unreal.

"Ray?" Fraser's eyes were wide with disbelief. Never in a million years would Ray forget the sudden motion, the long legged stride and the hug he was engulfed in.

"My God, Ray..." Fraser's warm breath puffed against Ray's cold neck. Strong fingers dug into his back and kept him tightly within Fraser's arms. "Ray, Ray, Ray..."

Ray bit his lower lip and sniffed Fraser's neck. Yeah, he'd missed that smell. Wool, soap, sweat and Fraser.

When they finally let go of each other, Ray noticed how reluctant Fraser was to let him step back. Maybe... Ray grinned as he noticed several RCMP members staring at them with interest and surprise. Judging from Fraser's flushed face, he'd noticed too.

Ray lifted his hand and squeezed Fraser's shoulder. "Ben," he said in a low voice. "What are the odds?"

Fraser opened his mouth as if to answer and a peculiar look crossed his face. "You... you called me..."

Ray coughed. Oops, he'd gotten so used to being more intimate with Fraser in his fantasies, become so used to saying Ben instead of Fraser... "Oh... um, I'm sorry if you want me to just call you Fraser..." Ray backed off. Christ, wasn't he the needy one?

Fraser's face softened. "I'm simply not used to anyone using my name..." Fraser ducked his head a little, a small smile playing on his lips. "But if anyone has earned the right to use it, it's you."

Ray grinned back.

"Corporal Fraser?" They both turned to find a middle-aged man in a dark suit, accompanied by a dark-haired woman, whose gaze sent shivers down Ray's spine. And not the good kind either.

"Oh, I'm sorry, Assistant Commissioner Garner." Fraser stood at attention. "This is my ...partner, Ray Kowalski."

Ray cocked his head but shook the proffered hand. The woman frowned at him but Ray chose to ignore it. She looked like she wanted to ask who the hell he thought he was, but the AC went on before she could do that.

"This young lady here is Tricia Adams, one of our finest defense lawyers." Garner took a deep breath and went on before Ray could say hello to Ms Adams. Not that he minded. "Say. You wouldn't be the Detective Kowalski who aided our Fraser in the hunt for Muldoon?"

Ray smiled lightly. Oh, this he knew how to handle. The nuclear sub thing had definitely made the news, and he'd had to live with the fact that whenever people recognized his name, it was because of that damned Russian sub. He nodded.

"We are most happy to welcome you here in Ottawa, then," Garner said with a smile. "What brings you here?"

"I'm working on a youth crime prevention project in Chicago and a friend asked me to help set up a similar project here." Ray shrugged.

"Ah yes, our youth seems in some cases to lack the manners of our generation," Garner said with a wink.

Ray grinned, deciding he liked the guy.

"Corporal Fraser," Adams finally put in. "I was wondering if you would join us for dinner."

Ray hid his frown. No, the woman definitely rubbed him the wrong way, but that might just be because she was so obviously interested in Fraser.

"I eh...," Fraser replied with a neck crack and Ray tried not to smile. Ah, an uneasy Fraser. Fraser turned his head to give Ray a sidelong glance.

"I'm sure Corporal Fraser wants to catch up on things with his friend," Garner put in. "I take it you do not speak often?"

Ray watched Fraser blush and had to grin at it. Yeah, that was kinda a no-brainer for those who had seen Fraser's reception of him. And it had been kinda hard to miss...

"Nearly two years," Ray admitted, trying to keep the sadness out of his voice. "We've spoken and written a little in between but that's all."

"Oh my goodness," Garner exclaimed. "Well, I'm sure you have a lot of catching up to do. Good, solid partnerships are hard to find and should be treasure when they do occur."

Ray grinned. "There's green ships 'n ' red ships, but there's no ships like partnerships." He noticed the softening in Fraser's eyes. Oh yeah, they were still partners, somewhere deep down.

Adams looked slightly miffed, but Garner simply nodded and took her by the elbow, bidding them a good evening.

Ray grinned. Yeah, he liked the Canadians, at least most of them.

Ray turned and the smile that met him was nearly enough to make his knees buckle.

Ben put a hand on his shoulder and nodded. "Ray," he said softly.

Ray grinned and mirrored his movement. "Ben." Oh man, he had to promise himself that he'd tell Ben how he felt... well, at least the PG-rated version. The X-rated one in Ray's mind might scare the guy too much.

"Dinner?" Ben asked and Ray nodded, seconded by a yip from Dief. Ben smiled and gestured for Ray to follow him. Out of the building and down the street with Dief in the lead. Trust the wolf to know where they were going, Ray thought with a small smile.

A small diner with some pretty inviting smells wafting through the open doors. Yeah, trust the wolf to know where the good stuff was and where they'd let him in.

They quickly found a place in the far corner and Ray studied the menu, or rather he studied Fra... Ben. Ray chomped down on the warm mushy feeling. All in good time. First they needed to find each other again, as friends and partners. So jumping the Mountie was a big no-no.

"I am glad you have sent me letters and kept me apprised of the situation in Chicago," Ben started, looking like he was a little embarrassed with Ray's attention. Though Ray noticed that he had Ben's full attention as well.

"Hey, I know it's hard to get mail through to where you were patrolling," Ray said, feeling the pang of the memories. As much as he hadn't enjoyed the cold he missed the clean air and sense of solitude and privacy that they'd had on their quest.

Even Chicago had been too noisy for Ray when he'd returned. Crappy cases and annoying partners hadn't made it any easier.

"Communication has indeed been difficult," Ben admitted as he put the menu down. A young man came over to take their orders and Ray had no idea what to order, he couldn't remember a single thing on the menu. "I'll have the same as the Mountie," he told the waiter.

Turning back to Ben he continued. "But I bet you've been happy out there in the great white open."

Ben's smile turned a little sad. "It was... I was..." he struggled with the words.

Ray sighed and decided to go out on a limb, if only a little bit. "Alone?"

Ben echoed his sigh. "Alone."

"Got used to my jabbering, didn't ya?" Ray said, trying to joke, though it felt too weak to actually work.

"I did indeed find myself missing your company," Ben admitted. They sat in silence for a few minutes while Ray digested that news.

Finally, as he opened his mouth to respond, their plates were put on the table. Ray looked down at it and found a nice mixture of meat and healthy stuff -- sorta like he'd gotten used to eating with Ben around. Still, as hungry as he'd been before, his stomach seemed to be tied in a knot. Finally he looked up to find Ben watching him with a peculiar look on his face.

"Missed ya too," Ray blurted out.. He watched Ben's features melt into one of his rare and beautiful smiles. Heart stopping? No way. If anything, it made Ray's heart race faster. So it had been the right thing to say.

Suddenly Ray felt his hunger again, and he and Ben dug into their dinner, sharing stories, sharing what had happened and through it all, Ray tried to figure out if he should tell Ben or not. When he finally got his head out of his ass, he started to really watch Ben. And all the little things added up to something Ray wasn't sure how to interpret.

Ben looked... well, thinner, although the red serge still looked good on him, but while he didn't exactly have dark circles under his eyes, there were most definitely lines of tension. His features were drawn into a look that Ray realized, half way through dessert, he knew... It was the same lonely look that greeted him every morning in the bathroom mirror...

"So, you're in Ottawa..." Ray said, while they waited for the check.

Ben sighed and looked a little embarrassed. "The RCMP wants me to teach a few courses in wilderness survival and they have asked me to speak about US law enforcement techniques over the next couple of months, although I can't see what they expect me to teach them."

"It's a solid move -- getting you to teach those Mountie kids a thing or two," Ray said with a grin as he hijacked the check before Ben could. "Ah! You can buy breakfast tomorrow." For a moment he wondered if perhaps he'd made assumptions,. Then Ben smiled that smile again and Ray figured a third time and he'd die a happy man.


Ray bit his lip. Damned, but he'd missed this. "And you can teach the kids all sorts of cool stuff, Ben. How to be a real Mountie."

"Last of a dying breed," Ben mumbled.

"One of a kind," Ray corrected.

As they left the diner, Ray was reluctant to let Ben go. Outside, he was pulled into a hug that told him he wasn't the only one. Ben hung onto him and Ray held on.

"I find myself reluctant to let you leave," Ben admitted, voice soft against Ray's neck.

Ray swallowed hard. "Me too, Ben. Me too."

"But we both have to get up tomorrow..." Ben said, arms still wrapped around Ray.

"For breakfast," Ray said with a grin. He felt Ben's body shake with the chuckle.

"For breakfast."

"Here," Ray prompted. He liked this diner.


Dief yipped in full agreement, which Ray put down to the large bone the waiter had given him.

Ray rubbed his face against the scratchy wool of Ben's uniform. "Now I've just gotta find a cab back to my hotel," Ray admitted.

"Which hotel are you staying at?"

"The Hampton inn," Ray replied.


Ray rolled his eyes. "'Ah' what?"

"It's just down the street and to the right," Fraser said, the smile evident in his voice.

Ray squeezed him one last time, then late go. "Tomorrow at eight?" he suggested.

Fraser nodded and cracked his neck, looking a little embarrassed by standing in the middle of the street, hugging another man.

Ray hid his own emotions as he bent down to ruffle Dief's fur. And of course get his face slobbered on. Not that he minded it. He'd take wolf slobber if it meant he could be with Fraser again. Be with Ben... Steeling himself, Ray straightened back up. "Sorry, buddy," he told Dief. "The place probably doesn't allow wolves."

Dief's snort sounded vaguely annoyed and made Ray smile.

"'s a deal then," he said, taking a few reluctant steps down the street. Ben seemed equally reluctant to part, but they finally managed to get turned in each their directions and Ray felt as if a thin cord was pulled out between them and all he could do on the way back to the hotel, was pray that it wouldn't snap.

Ray should have known that spending time with Ben in a city would bring trouble their way.

Breakfast was... fantastic. And he wasn't just talking about the food. They reverted into their old, easy routine within minutes. Ray slipped bits of food down to Dief and Ben acted as if he wasn't noticing.

Man, he'd missed that. The more he enjoyed Ben's company, the more he dreaded his promise to himself. What if Ben said 'no' and then fled back to the icy plains?

Ray very much doubted that Ben was a homophobe, but it was quite a jump from accepting other people's sexuality to jumping into it yourself. Heck, Ray could testify to that. His own attraction to Ben had scared the shit out of him until he'd lived without the other man for a while.

That had driven the truth home like nothing else. He'd realized that he wasn't willing to let his insecurities dictate how to feel. Yet he'd never managed to tell Ben how he felt... there was no way he was pouring his heart out in a letter. It had to be face to face. And he wasn't going home without doing so.

Ben had seemed so quiet, distant, well, even tired the day before, but today his eyes had lost a little of the haunted look and small smiles kept cracking the facade. Ray wondered if he was kidding himself or if perhaps Ben would be more open to advances than Ray had expected.

Since Ben had most of the day to himself, he offered to walk Ray to the Youth Center. Ray wasn't about to turn that down. The more Mountie time he could get, the better. Besides, he was sure the kids would love Ben and Dief.

They heard the commotion before they got there and Ray didn't for a second doubt that it was coming from the roof of the Center.

The four storey building came into view and looking up Ray watched the movement at the edge. Oh shit, he'd hoped the Canadians were too polite to be jumpers.


"I see him, Frase."

One look at each other and they moved through the front doors. Inside they were greeted by a couple of the kids, who turned to them the moment they saw them.

"He's going to jump," a girl said. Ray searched his memory for a name. He'd talked to her the day before...

"It's okay, calm down," he told the nearly hyperventilating girl. Barely sixteen and she looked too scared for words. "Shelley, please!"

The girl blinked and took a deep breath. A younger boy pulled at Ray's sleeve.

"Can you stop him?"

"Okay, one at a time," Ray told them, sending Ben a thankful look as Ray caught him intercepting and calming some of the other kids.

"Mr. Brady's trying to talk Jason down, but he's still up there," Shelley explained, her eyes wide with fear.

Ray tried to remember if he'd met Jason, but the only kid that came to mind ... well, Ray couldn't imagine him being unstable enough to jump off from anywhere.

"Ray..." Ben's voice was low and calm and Ray felt it pulling him back into years of partnership.

"There's red ships 'n' green ships..."

Ben's smile widened.

"Shel, stay down here," Ray ordered her. "Take the others into the main TV-room and stay there."

Shelley nodded, putting up a brave face.


"I am right behind you, Ray."

Ray smiled as he herded the kids into the large room and turned to lead Fraser up the stairs toward the roof.

"I can't believe it's that kid..." Ray puffed as he ran up the stairs. "He seemed so damned rational..."

"Ray..." Fraser sounded disgustingly not out of breath.

"I know, I know... I've only known the kid less than a day, but..."

"It's okay, Ray. You're a good judge of character."

Ray snorted as he rounded the 3rd floor. "Yeah, right... Except when it comes to women."

Fraser thundered up the stairs behind him and it was so very familiar that it made Ray smile.

"With young people, however," Fraser said calmly as if he wasn't running as fast as he could up the stairs, "you've always been good."

Ray would have blushed if he'd had the time and breath. Praise from Fraser, this kind of praise, was rare and it made him all tingly. "Let's just get this one down, okay?" he said gruffly.

"Right you are, Ray."

"Get away from me!"

They heard the shrieking voice the moment they came through the door to the roof.

Brady said something Ray couldn't make out and Jason, standing on the edge of the roof, wavered for a moment.

Ray gestured to Ben to stand back and gave Dief a warning glance. He wasn't sure if he could do what Brady couldn't, but he wouldn't just stand there and let the kid jump off the roof.

Inching closer to Brady, Ray caught his eye for a moment. Looking up, he found Jason watching him warily.

"Don't come any closer," the teen warned him, still swaying too much for Ray's comfort. The eyes were wide and dilated and his shirt was stained with sweat.

"I'm not," Ray said with a deceptive easiness.

"Why... why are you up here? You're not getting me down," Jason warned him.

"Up here, what do you mean? Up on this building, up North? What?" Ray shrugged. "You gotta be a little clearer, kid. I'm just a stupid Chicago flatfoot."

Jason blinked in confusion, for a moment inching a little further from the edge.

"If you meant why am I up here in Canada," Ray continued as if he was sitting at a table having a nice cup of coffee with the kid. "I first came here on the trail of a crazy Mountie," Ray pointed over his shoulder where he knew Fraser was standing with Dief at his side. "I got a little stupid for reasons that don't need exploring at this juncture, and returned to Chicago for a shitty job and shittier coffee."

Jason watched him with a confused look.

"I got wiser," Ray said with a shrug. All the while he kept slipping closer to where Jason was standing.

When he did make a grab for Jason, Ray's only thought, as he saw the flash of metal, was 'oh-shit-I-shoulda-known-better'. The pain as the blade bit through the skin of his lower arm barely registered though, with the adrenaline pumping through Ray's body as they teetered on the edge of the roof.

The next thing Ray knew, he was sitting on his ass on the cold roof, holding a shaking Jason in his arms as the kid lost all urge to fight. He could feel how his sleeve was sticky with warm blood, but he still held on, smiling tiredly as Fraser took the bloody knife from Jason's unresisting fingers.

"Ray?" Brady was kneeling next to him.

"Call an ambulance," Ray muttered. "He needs to be under observation, gotta get the drug out of his system."

Brady nodded. "I never figured Jason for a user."

"I don't think he normally is," Ray said and he gave Fraser a small smile as the Mountie knelt at his other side, gently pulling Ray's coat down and off his injured arm. "Just a hunch, though."

Jason was still shivering in his arms and Ray wasn't sure that he was fully conscious anymore. Brady was still crouched next to him, cell phone in hand as he called for an ambulance. Ray quickly checked Jason's pulse with his free hand

"You'll be needing stitches," Fraser told him as he stripped off his coat and Serge jacket. The pristine white shirt underneath went the same way and the Serge was back on.

"Frase, no," Ray tried as he watched his partner tear the shirt apart to use it to stem the flow of blood.

Fraser gave him a firm stare that told Ray to shut up.

"Pushy Mountie," Ray muttered without too much vehemence. A low, inquiring whine from behind Fraser had Ray smiling again. Ray turned his head so he could see Dief, meaning the wolf could read his lips as he muttered: "'s okay, Dief. It's not as bad as it looks."

"It's bad enough," Ben muttered, his eyes catching Ray's and Ray was taken aback by the worry he saw in them. Though it warmed him too.

Ray hid his flushed face by concentrating on checking Jason's pulse again. A little too fast, but not as erratic as he'd feared.

"The ambulance will be here in a minute," Brady said, finally standing up. "I'll take Jason," he continued tiredly. "Corporal," he greeted, "if you'll take Ray, I think we should try to get downstairs. It's getting cold out here."

Fraser nodded and squeezed Ray's arm to cut off any arguments from him. Not that Ray would argue the point, he was feeling damned tired, his ass was numb from the cold and the cut hurt like a bitch.

Brady went first down the stairs, carefully carrying Jason.

"Don't even think about carrying me," Ray warned, although he felt a little unsteady on his feet.

There was an odd twinkle in Ben's eyes, but he nodded. Instead he slipped an arm around Ray's waist, offering him support he would never turn down.

"I got through years in Chicago after returning from our quest, without getting hurt. The moment I come back here, run into you, shit starts happening," he whined.

"I'm glad Canada can offer you some excitement in your otherwise dull life," Fraser muttered, sarcasm not lost on Ray.

"It's not Canada," Ray grinned. "It's you, you unhinged Mountie." Fraser's brand of sarcasm almost always made him want to hoot. The man was nowhere as polite as everyone thought. Well, some days he wanted to kick him in the head for the sarcasm, but Ray had to admit he'd missed it.

"I have missed you too," Ben said softly, his mouth close to Ray's ear as he assisted him down the stairs.

Ray swallowed a sudden lump in his throat. He fought to find the right words for a moment, realizing it was easier than he'd thought. "Yeah... it's not been good without you," he admitted sheepishly.

"I have to admit to a certain lack of stimulating activities without you by my side," Ben grinned.

"What? You've missed chasing suspects on foot through Chicago?" Ray asked, hiding is emotions behind his usual glib exterior.

"I..." Ben began and was interrupted by a whine from Dief who was ahead of them on the stairs. Every time they came to a platform, the wolf would turn and wait for them, making sure they were keeping up.

"We," Ben amended with a chuckle. "We have missed your company, Ray."

Ray was saved from having to give into his sappier urges as they entered the lobby of the building and were surrounded by some of the older kids. Brady told them to go off into the TV-room and wait for him there. Outside the front glass door Ray could see the blinking lights from the ambulance and two paramedics were pushing through the door with a stretcher between them.

With a sigh he steeled himself for a trip to the hospital. This he had not missed.

"I've got no jurisdiction, but I want to nail the bastards who gave the kid drugs," Ray growled, his mood at a shitty low. His arm was still throbbing even though the painkillers were slowly kicking in.

"I'll try to see if they will keep us apprised of the situation," Ben said, sitting next to Ray on the hospital bed. His body was large and warm and wonderfully familiar to Ray who figured having Ben there was better than any painkiller.

"Brady said Jason's no user," Ray mused. He wasn't just going to sit around while they waited for the doctor to okay him leaving.

"We won't know anything until Jason wakes up, unless one of the other teenagers know something," Fraser agreed.

"As much as I wanna chase after those shit-heads," Ray growled, "I have to accept that this is way out of my jurisdiction and my obligations are to the kids."

Ben nodded. "As a member of the RCMP I have a certain pull with the local police force. I'll find out what I can."

Ray put his hand on Fraser's arm and squeezed a little. "Thanks, Ben." Ray turned his head and gave him an assessing look. "Weren't you supposed to be with the RCMP today?" he asked.

"There was nothing important planned," Ben said lightly. "I called them and explained about the situation."

Ray smiled a little to himself. It felt good to know that Fraser worried about him. Not many people did these days.

"I'm glad that Mr. Brady agreed to let Diefenbaker stay at the Youth Center," Ben muttered.

"The kids loved that damned wolf on sight," Ray grinned. "They'll spoil him rotten."

"That's what I feared," Fraser said, the age old argument about the wolf and its natural habitat. Ray knew it by heart. He'd had that thrown at him every time he'd dropped something under the table for Dief.

"He'll be good and it'll give the kids something else to concentrate on," Ray said softly. "He's good at that."

Fraser's smile softened. "He is that," he agreed.

Ray wanted to ask how often Ben had needed Dief as a distraction and from what, but the curtain was pushed back and a young woman stepped up to the bed.

"I'm Dr. Monroe," she said lightly, eyes flickering from Ray to Fraser and back again. "I have the paperwork for you to fill, Mr. Kowalski," she continued. "You should come back and have the stitches removed in ten days or have your own doctor do so if you're no longer in Ottawa."

Ray nodded. "Sure thing," he said lightly. "Can I go now?" A nudge from Fraser told him to have patience.

With a small smile, she nodded. "Fill out the paperwork, leave it at the front desk, pick up your prescription and promise me you won't put a strain on the arm," she warned him. "Then you can go."

"Scout's honor," Ray said, holding up his hand. He could feel Fraser shaking his head in exasperation next to him.

"He will do as you ask," Ben said mildly. "I'll make sure of that."

"Pushy Mountie," Ray muttered good-naturedly.

"All part of the RCMP training," Ben said smoothly, nodding his goodbye to the doctor who simply shook her head and turned the papers over to Ray before leaving them alone again.

"Can we swing by the Center?" Ray asked as he put his signature on the bottom of the page.

"You should rest," Ben said, a frown marring his face.

"I know," Ray said, rolling his eyes. "I just wanna check up on Brady and the kids. We should see if we can get some info on Jason too, so we have some kind of news to bring them."

Ben stood with a sigh. "I'll see what I can find out before we leave," he said. "Go drop off the papers and get your prescriptions filled. I'll meet you at the front desk.

Ray grinned and gave him a sloppy salute. "Aye, aye, Corporal, sir!"

Ben shot him a look that Ray figured was supposed to be menacing, but it was just a little too much on the soft side to work properly.

"Go on," Ray grinned. "I'll be fine and I'll meet you out front, okay?"

Ben finally smiled, nodded and then disappeared out the door.

Ray shook his head. Just like the good old days.

It was early evening when they left the Center, walking slowly toward Ray's hotel. He could have taken a cab, but he was reluctant to part ways with Fraser and Dief.

"I'm glad we could bring a little news," Ray muttered as they walked with their usual perfect pace. The painkillers were pretty good. He wasn't feeling terribly fuzzy, but the pain was bearable, so he wasn't going to grouch about that.

"It seems that Jason will be okay once the drug is out of his system," Fraser agreed. "And it was indeed good to be bearer of such good news."

Ray opened his mouth to ask Fraser if they could have dinner together, not wanting to end the day too soon. He never got that far.

A car came down the street at high velocity, tires screaming as it swung toward them. Only Fraser's quick reflexes got Ray out of harm's way at the last moment.

Ray cradled his injured arm, cursing a blue streak as he stared after the car. He hadn't been able to see much, but he'd caught a short glimpse of the driver. There had been something familiar about him... Ray just couldn't place it.

Dief whining worriedly into his ear brought Ray back and he let Ben help him to his feet.

"Your arm, Ray. Are you all right?" Ben's deep voice was colored by worry as well.

"Yeah... I think I managed to shield it well enough," Ray assured him.

"I wonder what hornet's nest we've put our hand into this time," Fraser muttered.

"I know that guy," Ray said. "I just can't remember from where."

"We should got to the police," Ben said, gently leading Ray in the opposite direction of where they had been going. People around them were staring, visibly shaken by what had happened. A few even asked if they needed help.

"No, thank you kindly," Fraser told them firmly. "We are okay. Though if someone would be so kind as to call the police..."

"Shit, Ben... I'm so tired I can't stand on my feet," Ray said with a yawn as they got out of the patrol car.

Ben didn't seem to hot either, he didn't even correct Ray's language. They waited for Dief to get out as well and Ray grumbled as Ben took his luggage. They had spent hours at the local police station and since everything indicated that the car had been aiming for Ray as he thought he'd recognized the driver from somewhere, everyone assumed he was in danger.

Especially Ben.

That was the reason that the patrol car had taken them to Ray's hotel to get his clothes and then had brought them to the housing that the RCMP had provided for Ben.

"Night, and thanks," Ray called out to the officers in the car. Ben leaned down and exchanged a few words with the men before straightening up, turning to guide Ray inside the house.

Ray noticed the RCMP guard at the door but didn't react to it. He was too tired to be annoyed with the mothering. Besides, maybe the guard was standard OP for an official RCMP house? What the hell did Ray know? He just wanted to sleep and if sleeping in Fraser's quarters would get the Mountie to calm down, who was he to argue?

If it got the damned wolf to calm the fuck down as well, Ray would do this any day, any time.

"I'm afraid there is only the one bed," Ben said as he unlocked the door, guiding Ray inside. "I have, however, brought my bedroll..."

Ray held up a hand and was thrilled that they were still in tune enough for that to work. Fraser was quietly watching him. Ray looked over at the bed. "We've slept in tighter quarters," he mumbled sleepily, the day definitely catching up with him. "I'm not letting you sleep on the floor."

Dief whined in agreement.

Ben watched them both with an annoyed expression, then finally nodded. He put Ray's luggage by the door to the small bathroom. "Go get ready for bed," he told Ray softly. "We both need rest and thankfully I do not have any obligations with the RCMP until after lunch tomorrow."

Ray yawned and nodded, digging his toothbrush out of his bag. "Sounds good," he agreed. "I can't think straight when I'm this tired and those painkillers aren't exactly keeping me awake either."

Ben smiled, took his jacket and ushered him into the bathroom.

Ray closed the door and looked at himself in the mirror over the sink. He wanted a shower, but he feared he'd fall asleep, fall over and hurt himself, if he tried.

He wondered if Ben would take a shower before they went to bed, and found himself hoping not. Ben had slept close to him on the quest where neither of them had showered for weeks at a time. As tired as he was, Ray's body still tried to react to the memory of how Fraser had smelled after a few weeks on the trail.

Ray finally managed to find the energy to brush his teeth. He stripped off his clothing until he stood there, shivering in his boxers and undershirt. He really should think about getting himself some of that wonderful long underwear Fraser had made him buy for the quest.

Ray turned off the light in the bathroom as he left it and went over to the bed. It wasn't big, but it was more spacious than two sleeping bags zipped together.

Ben gave him a smile before disappearing into the bathroom himself and Ray slipped under the cool sheets, shivering as his tired body finally began to relax.

Ray was nearly asleep when the sheets rustled and a short burst of cool air hit his body as Ben joined him in the bed. Ray shivered, but only for a short while as he was treated to another thing he missed from the quest. It was the human furnace that he'd shared the adventure with. Even though Fraser was barely touching him, the sheets were quickly warmed with both their bodies under them.

Damned, here he was, for the first time in ages he was sharing a bed with Ben and he was too damned tired to appreciate it. Sometimes life sucked...

Sleep was fairly calm, yet Ray woke again in the middle of the night. The dark room was disorienting for a moment, then Ray remembered as he felt the heat along his back.

They had fallen asleep laying next to each other, and Ray figured Fraser had been sleeping on his back as he normally did. That just wasn't the case anymore and Ray wondered if that might have been what had woken him.

Ben was plastered to his back, one heavy arm was wrapped around Ray's body. The large warm hand was covering the thin cotton of his shirt just above his heart. Ray closed his eyes and exhaled slowly, then drew in his breath again, filling his nose with the familiar scent.

Damned, but it made him ache. This was so unreal, so much like what he wanted. To go to sleep, sharing a bed with Ben and waking up wrapped around each other. Ray wanted nothing more than to turn around and embrace the other man in his sleep, but that would mean laying on his injured arm and Ray wasn't stupid enough to try that.

As it were, he put his hand over Ben's and closed his eyes again, letting the warmth of Ben's body pull him back to sleep.

It was lighter out the next time he woke. Ray looked at his watch. The glowing numbers said a little past 5AM. He wondered when Ben would wake up. Then again, it had been late when they'd gone to bed.

Ray wanted nothing more than to stay where he was, all wrapped up in Ben, his face mashed against Ben's collarbone. Their legs were tangled and arms were wrapped tightly around each other.

Wincing, Ray realized that he'd managed to roll over onto his injured arm. Combined with the need to take a piss, he knew he couldn't stay where he was, no matter how good Ben felt and smelled.

Getting out of bed, however, proved to be quite the challenge, because sleepy Ben didn't seem inclined to let go of him. Ray strangled a laugh when Ben muttered something that sounded suspiciously like a swear-word. Giving into the urge, Ray ran a hand soothingly down over Ben's bare arm. "'s okay, buddy. I'll be back in a minute."

Ben grumbled something, but he loosened his grip and Ray managed to get out of the bed.

When he came back to the bed, he stopped for a moment, staring through the little light there was. Ben had rolled over onto the spot that Ray had occupied and was currently nose down in Ray's pillow.

Cute. Ray allowed himself the thought for the first time since he'd left Canada after their quest. "Who am I kidding?" he sighed to himself.

Even though Ben looked older, he was as hot as ever. Ray could admit that to himself at this early morning hour. A chuckle escaped him as he realized he'd spent the night in the same bed as Ben, wrapped up in his arms for about half of it, and he'd been too fucking tired to enjoy it.

Which might have been a good thing, because Ben hadn't showed any signs of leaning that way.

Ben made a snuffling sound, burying deeper into the pillow. Ray shook his head with a fond smile and went to the other side of the bed. This way, at least, he could lie down on his good side.

Ray slipped under the sheets and sighed as he realized he was still sleepy. No use in fighting it then. Closing his eyes, he drifted for a little while.

A shift in the bed next to him jolted Ray back to wakefulness. Opening his eyes, he found Ben had rolled over, facing him again and a moment later, he was pulled close to Ben's warm body.

A chuckle escaped Ray. It was so darned funny. It seemed Ben knew where he was and went for him whenever he got near enough... Unless, of course, Ben was dreaming of someone else.

"What's amusing you?"

Ray stared into the shadows that engulfed Ben's face and realized that he was being watched. He tried shrugging. "I just hadn't expected you to do the octopus thing."

"The octopus thing?" Ben asked, sounding more than a little amused.

"Yeah, I woke up with you wrapped around me and when I got back from the can, you reeled me right back in," Ray said with a grin.

The heat from Ben's face was almost tangible. "I'm sorry," he said, voice neutral and guarded and he moved to let go of Ray.

"Hey," Ray said with a tired grin. "I didn't say I wasn't liking it, did I?"

Ben hesitated for a moment, then relaxed a little.

Ray sighed contentedly as he felt Ben's heat against his front and the warm hands flat on his back and between his shoulder blades.

Brady let out a sigh as he sat down next to Ray, handing him a cup of fresh coffee. "The hospital called. Jason's going to be fine, once the drug is out of his system. But they still want to keep him there for observation."

"Who covers the bill?" Ray asked tiredly. It was early in the afternoon and he felt like he'd been handling both the kids and press calling for weeks instead of hours.

"It's taken care of. We've got free health insurance," Brady said as he stirred a few spoonfuls of sugar into his own cup. "There was some talk about suing us. They thought he'd gotten the drug here."

Ray looked over at the other man, noticing that Brady looked as tired as he felt.

Brady shook his head at Ray's unvoiced question. "No. The kids here are clean and they're not here for major stuff. A few of them have taken this or that, but none of them are addicts or sellers." Brady paused. "I know these kids."

Ray nodded. "And you're sure none of them could have sneaked it past you?"

Brady shook his head. "I'm not sure about anything anymore," he admitted. "But Jason woke up this morning, and he said he hadn't taken anything from anyone at the Center."

"And before that?" Ray asked.

Brady shrugged. "The police is investigating it, asking him questions. He was at school before coming here, so who knows what might have happened?"

"They aren't telling you anything, are they?" Ray asked softly. At least in Chicago, he'd been a cop and when needed, he had drawn the information he wanted from the files. Here? Well, Brady wasn't a cop and he was way out of his jurisdiction.

Brady shook his head and sipped his coffee. "No, of course they aren't."

"Maybe if I asked Fraser to look into it..." Ray mused.

"Well, it's worth a try," Brady agreed. "I didn't even know that you knew one of the Mounties," he added with a grin.

Ray shrugged and smiled. "We were partners in Chicago. Don't ask, it's a long and strange story involving the mob, performance arsonists, ghost ships and nuclear subs among other things."

Brady laughed. "You have to tell me about that some day. I was just surprised at the level of... I don't know. You just seemed very close."

Ray fought the urge to claim no such thing, but he couldn't find the heart to do so. Not after the night he'd spent in Ben's bed. "He's a freak," Ray admitted with a small smile. "He attracts the weirdest cases. He's so damned honorable and he's driven me to desperation more than once."

"And you make one heck of a cute couple," Brady said with a wry smile.

Ray blinked rapidly. "We're not... I mean, Be... me and the Corporal aren't..." Ray coughed.

"We are not what?" Ben's voice broke the silence and Ray nearly tipped the chair back in surprise. He hadn't seen Shelley showing Ben into the small kitchen where Brady and he were taking a small break.

"We're eh..." Ray fought to find his footing, both mentally and physically as the chair balanced precariously on two legs. Maybe if he fell down, Ben would forget his question?

Ben stepped forward, putting a hand on his shoulder. A small push brought the other two legs of the chair back on solid ground.

So much for that plan, then.

"We're not... partners anymore," Ray burst out. He winced as Ben's grip on his shoulder tightened and he didn't miss the mask that went down over Ben's face. Oh fuck. "At least, not the way we used to be," Ray said, trying to save the situation.

Ben just raised an eyebrow.

Ray groaned. "I'm not getting out of this one with one shred of dignity, am I?" he whined. A whoof from Dief who was sitting by the door pretty much told him the answer he already knew.

Brady sniggered and nodded a hello to Fraser. "I might be partly to blame for that," he admitted. "I think I might have implied that there was more to your partnership than just the ordinary crime fighting kind."

"There is," Ben said.

Ray's eyes widened as he caught the glitter of amusement in the blue eyes watching.

"Mr. Brady?"

They all turned to look at the door where Shelley was hovering, looking like she was a little unsure if she was supposed to interrupt them.

"Yes, Shelley?" Brady turned his attention to her.

"There's a phone call from the hospital," she told him.

"I'll take it in the office," Brady said, getting to his feet. "If you'll excuse me, gentlemen?"

Ray waved him out, turning to glare at Ben. "You knew exactly what we were talking about," he accused.

Ben smiled softly. "He's not the first one to comment on a close partnership."

Ray frowned. "Anyone give you trouble?" he asked.

Shaking his head, Ben sat down on the chair Brady had vacated. "No, but Welsh once asked if I was aware that a close partnership could be perceived 'wrongly' and that it could get too close."

"Well, you always were close to Vecchio," Ray said with a shrug. He wasn't jealous, really. He wasn't.

Ben frowned. "Ray, this was after the Henry Allen incident."

"Oh..." Ray felt his mouth stretch into an involuntary smile. "Yeah?"

Nodding, Ben seemed to be fighting a smile too.

"And were we? Are we?" Ray asked curiously.

"Are we what?" Ben asked, leaning on his elbows, on the table, cutting the distance between them in half.

Ray mirrored his move, which put his face about an inch from Ben's. "Are we too close?" he asked, voice barely audible.

"Is there such a thing as too close?" Ben asked.

Ray opened his mouth to say 'no', that he'd gladly get closer. And maybe, just maybe, Ben was more open to the idea than Ray had thought.

"Ray." Brady's voice made Ray sit back so fast he nearly toppled the chair again.

"Yeah?" Ray answered, turning to see Brady entering the small kitchen again.

"We might have trouble with the press," Brady said with a sigh as he went to pull another chair over to the table, staring forlornly into his now cold coffee.

"Trouble?" Ben asked with a frown.

"Since the police aren't sharing anything with the press, they assume that Jason got high here." Brady shook his head. "I don't have to tell you what that kind of publicity will do to the project, do I?"

Ray growled. He fucking hated when this shit happened. Looking up, he found Ben watching him with an odd expression. "What?" he asked.

"Nothing..." Ben said, obviously a little lost in thought.

Eyes narrowing, Ray bit his lower lip. "Ben?"

"Yes?" Ben seemed to pull himself together.

"You got any pull with the local PD?" Ray asked.

"The local law enforcement does not answer to the RCMP," Ben began.

"Ben..." Ray warned. "Do you think they'd tell you something that they won't tell us?"

"They might," Ben admitted.

"I've got a funny feeling about this shit," Ray muttered.

"Ray, language," Ben said, more out of habit than out of disapproval, and that made Ray smile.

"Yeah, yeah, Frase," he grinned. "Work your magic and get us some info," Ray said. At the arched eyebrow, he added: "Please?"

Ben sighed. "I shall see what I can do." Turning to Brady he asked: "May I use the phone in your office?" he asked.

Brady nodded and stood to show him the way. Ray sat back on the chair, wondering about the case, trying to forget the moment he'd shared with Ben just before Brady had returned. He was still sure that there'd been something familiar about the guy in the car that had tried to hit him.

"Don't you have any Mountie stuff to do?" Ray asked as he put his suitcase and bag by the bed in Fraser's room.

"I have yet to receive a timetable for any lessons," Ben said as he opened the closet, pushing his own clothes aside to make room for Ray's. "I don't have any scheduled for the next few days."

Ray shrugged as he stretched his arms above his head. He looked over at Ben, just quick enough to catch the blue eyes dipping down to watch where Ray's t-shirt had pulled up.

"Huh," he muttered.

"I beg your pardon?" Ben asked, carefully keeping his eyes fixed above Ray's chest.

"Oh, nothing," Ray grinned. "I still don't think this is necessary."

"I would feel better knowing that you are alright," Ben said seriously. "And there is plenty of room for the both of us."

"There is that," Ray admitted. Last night he hadn't taken a good look around the rooms, but he kinda liked it. There was a small bedroom, a small kitchen/living room and a bathroom with a shower.

They argued about dinner for a while, and Ray finally got Ben to concede and agree to call for pizza. For old times sake. He even managed to find a place that had a pizza with pineapple on. Now, Ray needed very little more to really be a happy man.

Ray was amused that the housing came with TV... and cable too. They even managed to find a halfway decent game of hockey.

When Ray finally climbed into the bed, he felt too wired to sleep. The night had been... pleasant. In the aching sort of way. Ray found himself wanting more of such evenings, but he wasn't sure how to ask, how to put it right. He'd never been good with words.

"Is something troubling you?" Ben asked as he shifted to get comfortable, facing Ray.

Ray closed his eyes for a moment, then shrugged awkwardly. "I've missed Canada."

Ben's eyes widened a little "Pull the other one."

Ray grinned. It was always amusing when Ben got the sayings right. Ray had always figured that half the time he said them wrong just to annoy people. Or rather, to make them underestimate him. Harmless Mountie. Riiight. "Seriously... Chicago summers are as hot as hell and twice as noisy. The three months we were here together were the best time I've had in decades."

"You are here now," Ben said softly.

Ray nodded. How the heck did he broach this? "Brady cornered me today," he admitted. "He ah... he said he wouldn't mind the help up here. Kinda long-term. Maybe even in some smaller community later on."

Ben drew a deep breath. "Do you want to? You are good with them."

Sighing, Ray nodded. "God! Do I ever. As much as I'll rave and rant about the kids, I love them. Doesn't matter if they're American or Canadian."

A warm smile curved Ben's lips and Ray found himself getting hugged. Hard.

"If I say nice things about Canada and Canadians, will you do that again?" Ray asked with a laugh when Ben let go of him.

Ben hesitated for a moment, a worried expression on his face.

Ray swallowed hard. "Whatcha gonna do if I say I wanna stay in Canada?

No answer came from Ben, but Ray was pulled in close again. Ben buried his face in Ray's neck, the warm breath against his sensitive skin making Ray shiver a little.

Taking a deep breath, Ray moved a little further out on the limb. "And if I say I wanna stay with you?" He felt his heart hammering like it was trying to escape from his chest.

Ben pulled back, studying Ray's face for a moment. His arm twitched a few times and finally, just when Ray was about to give up, Ben reached up to cup Ray's cheek.

"Ben...?" Ray's voice sounded terribly shaky to his own ears.

Ben opened his mouth as if to say something, then closed it again. For a moment it looked as if he was going to lean in for a kiss, then he lost his momentum.

Ray bit his lower lip and decided this was it. Time to piss or get off the pot. He'd see if the limb would hold all the way. He mirrored Ben's move, cupping Ben's cheek, slowly closing the space between them.

For what felt like ages, they stayed that way, breathing the same air, lips a scant inch apart.

"Ray..." The whispered name was like a secret password and as it had seemed time had frozen, it thawed and afterwards Ray wasn't sure if Ben had moved or he had. Maybe they'd done it as one. They'd been a duet since day one, so it kinda made sense.

It was odd to kiss another guy, or at least Ray figured it should be. It just... well, it just wasn't as weird as he'd expected. The first tentative brush of lips over lips and Ray felt as if someone had opened a valve inside him, pouring fire through his veins. Actually, it was more like someone had blown the valve off.

Ben moaned against his lips and Ray opened his mouth to deepen the kiss. This time Ray moaned as Ben's tongue slipped inside. Everywhere they touched Ray felt as if he was burning. Scrabbling under the covers, he found the hem of Ben's shirt and pulled until he could get his hand up under it.

Muscles shivered under his fingers and Ben pulled at him until Ray found himself on top of Ben. Who was trying to eat him alive.

Ray was the first to break the kiss, gasping for breath, trying to catch his bearings. He put a hand on either side of Ben's head and levered himself up a little.

"Ray, Ray, Ray..."

Ray had been used to Ben saying his name in rapid succession before, but never ever like this. He stared down into the darkened eyes, the red, swollen lips that were slightly parted.

Parting his legs a little, Ray slid down to straddle Ben's hips and even through two layers of clothes, he felt the jolt that seemed to wrap itself around his spine. As Ray leaned down for another kiss, Ben leaned up.

They both froze at the whine from the bedroom door. Which they'd left open.

Ben turned his head slowly. "No," he said, breathlessly. "We are not fighting, as you very well know."

Dief made an oddly enquiring noise. Ray watched as Ben's eyes widened.

"What's he want?" Ray asked, wondering if he even wanted to know.

Ben's face colored.

"He wants to watch," Ray guessed, eyes narrowing as he sat up, grabbed a pillow and threw it in Dief's direction. "Go sleep on the couch," he growled. At the annoyed yowl, Ray bared his teeth. "I'll buy you a fucking donut, now get!"

Ray never knew if Dief answered, because he was yanked back down and kissed and groped within an inch of his life.

Resurfacing, Ray felt like a fish on land, trying to pull enough oxygen into his lungs to get his brain to work. "What the..." he mumbled.

Ben pulled him back down again.

Third time Ray got back up to catch his bearings, he grabbed Ben's wrists and pinned them to the bed. He damned well needed a moment to figure out what was up and down. And there was no way he could do that with the way Ben was kissing him.

Much to his surprise, Ray was lifted from the bed as Ben arched his back.

"Jeez! Ben! What the hell's gotten into you?" Ray wasn't sure if he should panic because things were moving so fucking fast, or because he'd never imagined Ben behaving this way.

What had brought this on? He'd just... Then it dawned on Ray and he felt an evil grin spread on his face. "You like this, don't you?" he asked in a low voice.

Ben was flat on his back again, panting for breath while he kept his eyes on Ray.

"You went bat-shit when I growled at Dief and when I hold you down you..." Ray trailed off. That day, in the kitchen at the Center. He'd caught Ben looking at him pretty strangely. He recognized the same look now, only ten times more intense.

Ben didn't answer, but he never took his eyes off Ray either.

Ray bent down, rubbing his cock against the heat of Ben's erection. "That's kinda hot," Ray whispered before covering Ben's mouth with his own again.

Shifting his hands, Ray locked his fingers with Ben's. The kiss was deep and messy but Ray didn't care about that. All he could think about was the taste of Ben, the feel of the hard body under his, the movement of powerful muscles as Ben strained against him.

Ray couldn't believe just how fast it all went. One moment he was striving to keep up with Ben's frantic movements, the next he felt wet heat against his crotch. Knowing that Mr. Control Freak had lost his precious control was more than enough to trigger Ray's own release.

Even if Ray did fight it for a moment, he only lasted about twenty more seconds before burying his face against Ben's neck, biting into the tendon where neck and shoulder met, trying to stifle his cry.

Ben yelling his name wasn't muffled in anyway and Ray collapsed on top of him, laughing helplessly.

"Ben..." Ray hiccupped. "I think I just lost the hearing on my left ear."

Ben was breathing hard into Ray's ear. It kinda tickled, but Ray didn't feel like moving anytime soon. "I'm sorry," Ben muttered breathlessly.

"Don't be," Ray mumbled as he slid to the side, pushing off his sticky boxers, then pulled off his t-shirt and dumped both on the floor next to the bed. "'s a small price to pay."

Ben's hands reached for him again, but Ray pushed them away, then stripped Ben of his underwear as well. It was kinda funny to undress a boneless Mountie. He didn't even say anything when Ray used his shirt to wipe them both off before dumping it all on top of his own discarded clothes.

"Ray..." Ben pulled him close and this time the kiss was slow and wonderfully easy.

"Think we can take it a bit slower the next time?" Ray asked as he made himself comfortable, head on Ben's shoulder, arms around his waist and one leg shoved between Ben's.

There was a moment's silence, then Ray found himself kissed soundly.

"Sorry, Benton-buddy," Ray yawned. "You're not getting rid of me now."

"Good," Ben mumbled as he turned off the light and pulled the sheets up to cover them.

"Never, ever, ever..." Ray yawned.

"Ray, go to sleep," Ben muttered, placing a large, warm hand on the small of Ray's back. The other one slipped down to cup Ray's ass.

Ray sniggered.


"I know, I know, sleep," Ray mumbled, already halfway there. He'd get more. Later. Tomorrow. Soon.

Ray yawned and burrowed into the sheets and pillows. Something was off... Popping one eye open, he realized the room was fairly light. Another check and he realized that the bed was empty.

Had he been dreaming?

Burying his face in the sheets he grinned. Nope. Smelled like Fraser, him and sex.

The sound of the shower drew his attention. With a grin he disentangled himself, yawning and rubbing his stubbled face. The room was a bit cool for a trip in the nude, but Ray nevertheless decided that getting dressed would be moot.

Halfway across the living room area, an enquiring whine from Dief stopped Ray. "No, go back to sleep. You can have a donut later." Dief's grumbled reply made Ray roll his eyes.

The bathroom was full of steam and Ray grinned as he watched the bulky shadow moving behind the shower curtain.

"Ben?" Ray decided against trying to give the Mountie a heart attack by simply pulling the curtain aside.

The shape behind the curtain froze. "Ray?"

"I hope to fuck you weren't expecting anyone else," Ray said with a grin.

The curtain was pulled to the side, revealing a nicely wet Corporal Fraser. "Language, Ray."

Ray slipped into the shower stall, dropping the curtain closed behind him. There was little room for two people, but Ray simply took it as an excuse to get nice and close.

"Whatcha gonna do about it?" he asked in a low voice.

Ben's eyes darkened considerably. "I could reprimand you," he warned.

Ray put his hands on Ben's chest, sliding them down over the firm muscles.

"Would that include cuffs?" Ray asked. He hadn't failed to notice how hot it had made Fraser the night before when he'd held him down. Or when he'd growled. With a grin, he leaned forward, nuzzling Ben's neck, rumbling deep in his throat.

A moment later he was pressed up against the cool tile and Ben was trying to eat him alive.

The kissing gentled slowly and Ray sighed contentedly when Ben pulled back, grabbed the soap and started washing Ray. Very thoroughly.

The ache filling Ray made him moan and Ben watched him from under lowered lashes. "Ray..."

"Shhhh," Ray whispered. He reached out and took the soap, put it aside and then pulled Ben close, the soap making it entirely different from the night before. It was a strange slip and slide, but Ray liked it. A lot.

Ben's fingers tightened on his arms as Ray let his hands slide down to grab Ben's ass, pulling their bodies impossibly closer.

"Ben," he whispered.

Ben didn't answer, simply buried his face against Ray's neck, groaning deeply.

Ray closed his eyes and let his head fall back. It wouldn't take much before he'd have to let go, before his control would be blown to hell. Again.

Then Ben's hands slid down his back and mirrored Ray's hold on Ben's ass. They moved perfectly against each other, just the right amount of pressure, just the perfect amount of friction.

Ray whimpered and dug his fingers into the muscles of Ben's ass when he couldn't hold back any longer. It felt so good. Not just because it was more than himself and his right hand. This was Fraser, damn it. This was what he'd hardly ever allowed himself to dream about.

Ben's own completion wasn't far behind and for a long time they just stood there, under the spray, holding on.

Mouthing down along Ray's neck, Ben alternated between nipping and kissing the wet skin. Ray grinned and slid his hand up and into Ben's wet hair, pulling his head up so he could look into those dazed blue eyes.

"Got a better place for that mouth of yours," Ray muttered and pulled Ben in for a long, slow kiss.

"Ray..." Ben pulled back, watching him for a moment, the reached around him to turn off the water. "Did... did you mean it?"

Ray almost asked what, then got it. "Yeah... Yeah, Ben. I wanna stay up here." Then he grinned. "And 'here', in case you're wondering, is wherever you are."

Ben laughed and kissed him again. "I'll be here a full semester, teaching. And I take it you'll be with Mr. Brady for quite a while as well."

Ray nodded. "We'll see about coordinating all this, Ben. We'll make it work."

The smile that got him was nearly blinding. The kiss wasn't bad either. Most definitely not.

The next few days were quiet and Ray was kind of thankful for that. The local PD seemed a lot more forthcoming and he figured Ben had talked to them. Probably been so polite they'd realized they just had to share what they had with the American cop.

Private life wasn't bad either. No siree. Not bad at all. Ben had a few full days teaching, but they had the evenings to themselves and oddly no one said anything to him bunking with Ben.

Then again, Ray was pretty sure Ben had used the excuse of protecting Ray. He could be such a mother hen at times. Not that Ray was complaining. Only an idiot would complain when the outcome of Ben's actions was Ray in Ben's bed.

So all was well. Ray should have known that it wouldn't stay that way for long.

"This shit only ever happens when the Mountie's around," Ray muttered to himself as he tested the ropes binding him to the chair.

"Talking to yourself now, Kowalski?"

Ray glared at the figure in the open doorway. "No, I'm talking to my invisible friend, Sanchez," he sneered. "We're plotting how best to kick your ass."

Sanchez's grin widened. "As always, you're a delight, detective. Too bad we have to do away with you."

"Do away with me?" Ray tried not to laugh. He was afraid that it would come out a little on the hysterical side. "Sanchez, you were an idiot, that's why I was able to stop you. Though why the fuck you aren't still behind bars is beyond me," he continued. Damned, but he was hoping that Fraser would find him... soon. Before Sanchez could... do away with him.

And he'd been right, he'd known the guy in the car.

"The parole office made a mistake," Sanchez said with a shrug. "They accidentally put me up for parole."

"Ah... dumb luck," Ray said with a sigh. The whole fucking world was conspiring against him.

"Mama Sanchez raised a lucky kid," Sanchez grinned. "I got out and I got you."

Ray had always figured Sanchez for small fish, even back when he'd put him behind bars, shortly after he'd reclaimed his place at the 27th. Yeah, the guy was more luck than criminal mastermind.

"Figures you'd try to get to me through the kids, you sick fuck," Ray growled, testing his ropes again as Sanchez simply grinned and shrugged.

"Ever heard of the RCMP?" Ray asked conversationally. Buying time, he could at least try to do that.

Sanchez raised an eyebrow.

"Mounties," Ray clarified. "The official motto is 'Maintain the right', but the one we all use is 'A Mountie always gets his man'."

"What are you babbling about, Kowalski?" Sanchez asked in an annoyed tone of voice.

"Well, they'll want me back... alive." Ray shrugged as much as he could, being tied to the chair and all.

Sanchez rolled his eyes. "They're a bunch of dressed up circus clowns," he snorted.

Ray shook his head slowly. And even slower, Sanchez mirrored his move with a questioning look.

"I got this... friend. Granted, they don't make 'em like that anymore, but he's the last of his kind. A good old fashioned Mountie... And he always... gets... his... man," Ray grinned.

"You're exaggerating," Sanchez snorted, but there was a wary look to his eyes.

Ray shook his head again. "I've seen him do the weirdest shit, short of flying..." Ray halted for a moment. "Although, there was that business with the nuclear sub where we jumped out of a plane without parachutes... and that time where we escaped the sinking ship, we kinda flew there..."

Sanchez just stared at him. "You're a fucking loony, Kowalski."

Ray just shrugged. Or rather, tried to.

"Doesn't change the fact that I'm going to kill you," Sanchez said with grin.

"What happened to 'do away with'?" Ray asked.

Sanchez stopped, then shrugged. "Okay, I'm going to do..." the radio on his belt cracked to life and Sanchez sighed deeply as he unhooked it to answer it.

"Yes?!" he barked into it.

"Boss?" The sound went for a moment, then crackled back. "We got a guy out here asking about Kowalski."

Sanchez looked like he was about to explode.

"He won't go away."

"So shoot him!" Sanchez growled.

"Boss, he's got a wolf."

"Shoot it too, then," Sanchez was beginning to look a little purple.

"Boss, I can't shoot a Mountie."

"You... imbecile!" Sanchez looked like he was going to blow a gasket.

"My mom taught me that you shouldn't piss off Mounties. They'll hunt you down. Never heard that a Mountie always gets..."

Sanchez threw the radio across the room and it shattered as it hit the wall.

"Told ya so," Ray gloated.

"I've still got you," Sanchez said, pulling out his gun.

Ray shook his head. "Don't matter if you kill me or not. He'll still get you."

"I can use you," Sanchez said.

Ray shook his head again. It wasn't that he didn't fear dying, but as long as he didn't show fear...

Sanchez lifted up his gun and Ray closed his eyes and swallowed hard.

A low growl from behind Sanchez drew both their attention. Ray grinned as he opened his eyes.

"I'm gonna shoot the dog," Sanchez muttered.

The growl changed in cadence.

"Half-wolf," Ray corrected. "He's a little touchy about his heritage."

The growl changed again.

"And he doesn't like you pointing a gun at me," Ray explained to the perplexed looking Sanchez.

"Nor do I."

Ray's grin widened. "Like Mountie, like wolf, huh Corporal?"

Sanchez looked like he was considering making a run for it, or maybe shooting Ray.

Then there was a slight commotion and the doorway behind Ben was filled with people Ray figured were cops. They moved and sounded like cops.

Sanchez took one look at them and for once wasn't dumb enough to ignore the fact that he was outnumbered.

"Hey, Ben. Good to see you," Ray said nonchalantly.

"I am pleased to see you as well," Ben said, a glint to his eyes that had Ray very worried.

"Untie me?" Ray asked.

Ben pursed his lips as he watched the cops take Sanchez away.

"Please?" Ray figured he'd probably have to beg.

"If I keep you this way, I won't have to worry about you," Ben mused.

Ray lifted an eyebrow.

Ben never wavered.

Dief trotted over and licked at Ray's ear. "Cut it out, Dief," Ray growled.

"He agrees with me," Ben said smugly.

Ray turned his head to look at Dief. "You do know who brings home the donuts, right?"

Dief looked thoughtful for a moment, cocked his head to the side, then yowled something.

"You are so easily swayed," Ben told Dief.

"Come on, buddy. Untie me." Ray's eyes narrowed. "This ain't fun when it's not in the bedroom," he added in a low voice.

Ben's lips parted and a moment later Ray was loose.

"I'm okay," Ray assured him. "You can check me over when we get back to your quarters."

Ben flushed but obviously couldn't fight a grin.

Ray knew just how he felt.

"Detective Kowalski?"

Ray turned to the cop who was looming behind Ben.

"Yeah?" he said.

"I would like you to come down to the station for a few questions."

Ray sighed. Oh, didn't matter if it was American cops or Canadian. There were always questions.

"I vote for finding some outpost, where no insane criminal, grudge or not, can ever find us," Ray said, lounging on Ben's bed.

Ben sat down, untying his boots. Then he lay down, uniform be damned. "So you meant it?" he asked, sounding a little tentative.

"Huh?" Ray turned to look at him. "Oh... staying? Fuck yeah!"

"But what about...?" Ben began.

"Chicago? There's nothing in Chicago, except from the project and that's pretty much being run by others these days anyway. While I'm up here."


Ray shook his head. "My parents are in Arizona and you... you'll be up here..."

Dief yipped from the open door.

"Yeah, you too, mutt," Ray grinned. He turned his head to look at Ben again. "So I'm staying."

"Ray..." Ben's voice was a mere whisper.

"Ben... if you say no, I'm gonna stalk you," Ray warned him, as he reached up to undo the Velcro of the collar on Ben's uniform.

Ben laughed and Ray could feel the motion as his fingers brushed against Ben's throat.

"I can't believe how easy this is," Ray whispered.

"Easy?" Ben raised an eyebrow.

"Okay," Ray admitted. "Semi easy." He watched Ben's tired eyes for a moment. "Wasn't easy being alone," he acknowledged. "No..." he smiled when Ben shook his head. "No," Ray repeated. "It wasn't easy getting here at all..."

Ben leaned in for a slow kiss as Ray awkwardly undid the tunic. "I feared you would leave again..." he whispered against Ray's lips.

"I feared you would let me," Ray admitted before slipping a hand behind Ben's head, pulling him down for another kiss.

"We have nothing to fear but fear itself," Ben muttered.

"Shhhh," Ray mumbled as he slid the tunic open, feeling the play of muscles under the white shirt. "I'm not going anywhere."

"I know," Ben replied as he seemed to melt against Ray. "I know."

The End