Tailored Dating

PAIRING: Fraser/Kowalski
SUMMARY: You have to tailor any date to specifically fit your date's personality. And you plan and plan, but inevitably, the plan never quite works the way you planned it to.
NOTES: Orignally done for the ds_flashfiction dating challenge, though not used for it
THANKS TO: bertybertle for her lovely comments and her mad betaing skillz *g*

Ray's been thinking about it pretty much from day one. Hell, he'd let his mouth run at every female he'd come across. Not just because he was still struggling a little with the role of Vecchio, but because he needed to prove a point.

He wasn't gay.

Unfortunately his brain had kept coming up with date scenarios from the moment the red uniform and its wearer had materialized before him. He'd practiced it in his mind. A huge, shit-eating grin and a hug.

After all, 'his' partner had returned from the frozen North.

The first thing that went through his head had been: 'Remember it, this is your partner and friend'. The second had been more along the lines of 'Shit, this guy's a looker.'

Then the date fantasies had started. At first they were just the the standard stuff. You know, the Crystal Ballroom, dancing, martinis, and ...him. Like the line he'd desperately thrown at every female within twenty feet as Fraser walked alongside him, staring at him like he was crazy.

That was then.

These days the date fantasies have taken a different turn. Especially the ones that crowd Ray's mind before he goes to sleep. The ones that sometimes cross with him into sleep.

Sure, he still has his occasional wet dream, more often than not starring his crazy Canadian partner, but there's more now. When he thinks of dating Fraser, it's not the usual stuff that comes to mind.

Ray closes his eyes. Tonight he's really having dinner with Fraser. No make-believe here. They do it often, but this time it's different, this time Ray's planning ahead. Normally it's just a trip to a Chinese restaurant or a diner... just two friends hanging out.

Ray's even cleaned the apartment, he's put on new sheets, even though he knows it probably won't happen tonight.

See, Ray's been wooing Fraser for the past month, and he's pretty sure even Fraser has noticed it.

Heh. Ray smiles to himself as he checks on the chili in the pot. He doesn't cook often, but he knows this will be worth it. He knows it will make Fraser smile. It's nothing fancy. Not because Ray can't do fancy, but because he knows that the only way he can do this, is to focus on what Fraser might want.

Fraser likes the simple things in life. Ray knows that much.

This is why Ray is cooking him a simple dinner, this is why Ray's wearing casual clothes. A pair of soft jeans and his favorite Chicago Bulls t-shirt.

He doubts there'll be any dancing, because that's not Fraser's thing. Ray hopes he can get Fraser to do it some day. That he'll be able to pull the man close and just sway together.

Ray has a hunch. Fraser does have rhythm, even though everything points to the contrary. It's just that to get the rhythm out, Fraser has to be relaxed, and Ray knows it will take time and work to get to that point.

Until then, Ray's fine with waiting. And wooing.

The knock takes Ray a little by surprise and he feels a surge of panic. Is it right what he's doing? Is the food good? Is he delusional? Crazy? Lost his mind...?

There's another knock. It's a polite knock. It's an 'I am invited, but I need to know if I'm welcome' kinda knock.

Ray feels a little sinking in his stomach as he opens the door. Fraser's in uniform. Fraser's never in uniform unless they come to Ray's place directly from work.


Ray's not stupid. He knows that Fraser uses that damned red thing as a shield. It's all that he has to hide behind along with his politeness.

"Hi, Frase," Ray says, with a forced lightness he's not feeling.

"Hello, Ray." Fraser stays where he is, hat in hand, looking nervous.

"Come on in, buddy." Ray steps back and gestures at the apartment. "Where's the wolf?"

"I ah...," Fraser says hesitantly. "He opted to stay at the consulate."

"Oh..." Ray says, not feeling at all suave or in control. "Go sit down, Frase, food'll be ready in a moment." He's desperately trying to remember what he's planned but his mind goes utterly blank.

Fraser looks, if possible, even more nervous as he walks over to the table and sits down. He looks so stiff and formal, and Ray feels his determination waver.

Fleeing to the kitchen side of the counter, Ray tries to focus on the food. Fraser left Dief behind. Could that mean that he's hoping that more than dinner might happen? Ray frowns. Or maybe he wants to have an out. He might use Dief as an excuse to leave early...

Ray bites the inside of his cheek so hard he can taste the coppery tang of blood. He's promised himself he won't back down unless Fraser says 'no' specifically.

But what if Fraser means no, but is too polite to say it out loud? Ray might be good at reading Fraser when they work together, but he doesn't quite know how to read the signals directed at him at the moment. The nervousness, the stiff set of the shoulders...

A dinner date that is supposed to be nice and easy, according to Ray's plan. But it's no good. The Benton Fraser he normally watches hockey with, the one he hangs out with... isn't really there.

Or maybe he is. Somewhere underneath the uniformed exterior, Ray imagines that there's a more supple Fraser, the one he's caught a lot of glimpses of since he's gotten to know him.

Unfortunately there isn't as much as a tiny inkling of hope that he'll see that side tonight.

Delusional, Ray tells himself. That's what he is.

It's not that dinner is quiet. They do talk. But it's all idle chit-chat about work, about Turnbull's latest mishaps, even if those do bring a small smile to Fraser's face in the telling.

Dinner is quiet in an entirely different way.

Ray tries to find the right words as he puts the dishes in the sink.

"Would you let me help with the dishes?" Fraser asks, standing stock still in the kitchen, though still managing to look fidgety, holding his hat again... looking like he's about to leave.

"Nah, I'll do those tomorrow," Ray says.

"Ah..." Fraser says, looking like he wants nothing more than an excuse to just... go. "It has been a good night," Fraser tries.

Something breaks inside of Ray.

"No," he says.

Fraser blinks, looking confused. It's not a good look on him.

Ray shakes his head. "No, Fra... Ben." Ray pretends he doesn't notice how Fraser's eyes widen in surprise.

"But..." Fraser tries.

"No," Ray repeats. He takes a deep breath and shakes his head. Subtlety won't get him anywhere. It's not like Fraser doesn't know what tonight has been, what Ray has put into it, what meaning he's given it.

If he hadn't noticed, Fraser wouldn't be this damned nervous.

"I planned this night as a... a...," Ray bites his lower lip and wonders why Fraser is staring.

Fraser shakes his head, looking like he wants to cover his ears.

"For fuck's sake, Ben!" It just snaps and Ray takes a step closer, watching Fraser with exasperation. "Do I have to spell it out? I thought if I did this in the simplest possible way, you'd understand that this was meant as a ..."

"...compensation." Fraser mumbles as he stares down at Ray's cracked linoleum floor.

Ray blinks. "Huh?"

"At first you were keeping a lot to yourself, you hardly shared for a long time... then lately... You have been so happy," Fraser says, almost inaudibly. "You have paid attention to me, and you went through all this tonight... I take it you've met someone?"

"What the hell's that got to do with compensation?" Ray can't see how the hell Fraser can have gotten from point A to point Q, bypassing sanity without a pit stop.

"We have spent so much time together, almost from day one... you're a good man, Ray... but you needn't feel guilty about neglec... about spending less time with me... as long as you are happy."

Ray tries to figure out what the hell's going on, but he can't quite follow Fraser's crazy ways of thinking. Like that's new.

"Ben... what the hell are you talking about?" Ray shakes his head. "I've been planning this for ages, you unhinged idiot."

Fraser's shoulders slump a little more, and the man still looks like he's halfway out the door, defeat hot on his heels.

"This isn't just a dinner with a close friend," Ray sighs. "I planned this as a fucking date, you moron."

Fraser seems to freeze, his fingers no longer worrying the rim of the Stetson. When he finally looks up, surprise is evident in his face.

Ray feels the weight lighten somewhat on his shoulders. Fraser's getting it... slowly getting it. Three... two... one... and the thumb comes up and brushes along the eyebrow.

Lifting a hand, Ray puts his on Fraser's raised one. Fraser stands completely still, thumb still resting against his eyebrow and Ray's fingers curling around the hand, stilling it, keeping it in place.

Ray smiles and puts his free hand on the one holding the hat. "Put down the Stetson, Frase..." He pushes at the hand and guides it to hover over the kitchen table, before patting it until Fraser lets go of it.

Fraser finally looks up and the look on his face hits Ray right in the guts. "For someone as smart as you," Ray mutters, "...you can be pretty stupid sometimes."

Letting out a stuttering sigh, Fraser nods. He opens his mouth but Ray shakes his head. He knows what's coming.

"Don't be sorry," he says softly as he pulls Fraser's still raised hand down and holds it against his own sharp hipbone. He does the same with the other, the one that was holding the Stetson. "Be honest."

Fraser takes a deep breath, holds it back before letting go of it, very, very slowly. Then he nods. His fingers clench lightly on Ray's hips.

Heat flares in the pit of Ray's stomach, curls around the base of his spine and he allows himself a slightly more predatory smile. Not too much, don't want to scare off his prey.

Not that he has to worry, because the look of hope on Fraser's face turns downright hot and Ray has just a split second to wonder who's the predator and who's the prey. Right until Fraser pulls on his hips and they end up, front to front, with no space between them.

For a moment, suspended in time, they just stand there, eyes locked. Ray can feel Fraser's hot breath gusting against his face. He can see the flush coloring Fraser's cheeks... he can see the fine lines at the corners of Fraser's eyes...

He can feel Ben's heated interest against his own. Through two layers of clothes.

Ray lets his smile widen, slides his hands off Fraser's, because he's not afraid that he'll run anymore. Dragging them up, Ray grips Fraser's shoulders for a moment, then goes further up, running his fingers through the dark hair. He tightens his fingers in the softness and slowly guides Fraser's head down.

They don't break eye contact, even for a moment, not until their lips are millimeters apart. Then Ray sees Fraser's eyes flutter shut and his own follow a moment later.

Ray doesn't know how long they stand there. He doesn't care. Right now all he can focus on is the warm body against his own, the Sam Browne's buckle digging into his belly, telling him that it is Fraser he's got enthusiastically going for his tonsils.

Tugging on the hair twined around his fingers, Ray pulls back, keeping his lips resting against Fraser's mouth. He can feel and taste the panted breathing.

They're both short of oxygen it seems.

"Ben..." Ray whispers, not even sure it's audible.

Fraser shakes in his arms and turns his head sideways, hiding his face against Ray's neck.

Ray doesn't say anything, he just holds on, rubbing Ben's neck soothingly. This is the worst and it's over and done with. Whatever comes now, Ray feels he can take on the world. The weight in his arms gives him the strength he requires to go on, the support he craves and the love he knows he needs.

He knows this man as he knows himself. Neither of them are capable of not caring about the other, neither of them are here for a short-term fling.

Ray hums under his breath, slides his hands down Ben's neck and rests them lightly on the back of his shoulders. Then he begins to sway, slowly from side to side, feeling Ben's body following him, nice and easily, in perfect sync.

The End