When Ray woke up in the morning and made his coffee, he lucked out, because he thought he was all out of M&Ms, but there were seven of them left, the perfect number, and he dropped them into his coffee and waited until they melted and got that coffee/chocolate/sugar hit just perfect with the first sip—the first sip was always the best—and he knew it was going to be a good day.
He was even more sure of it when he stepped out the front door and for a second got that Oh, crap feeling as he started toward the GTO because it was standing all on its lonesome by the curb, not another car around because it was Thursday, and like an idiot, he'd parked on the wrong side last night—Goodbye, fifty bucks—except for some completely mysterious reason, there was no parking ticket on the windshield. As if the Parking Control Officer just totally missed the giant hunk of metal in the middle of the patch of dirty street where the street cleaners had had to mow a swatch of clean around it.
When he got to the bullpen, the little hum under his skin just got louder—Welsh was out of the office today on a big chief seminar-gig, and someone had brought doughnuts in, and there were still two chocolate glazed left on the breakroom counter. Then Ray sat down at his desk and discovered Fraser really was a busy little beaver yesterday when Ray was interviewing Fuchs, because there was no paperwork at all waiting in his inbox except a memo from Human Resources telling him he would be getting a small refund because they'd been deducting wrong for his health insurance the entire past year. He was suddenly two hundred and forty bucks richer.
Which meant a steak dinner with Fraser as soon as the check arrived, for sure.
And because today was Thursday, it meant Fraser and Dief would be in soon for the whole day, the three of them knocking around town, and Ray loved that. Sure, it was a little bit of a pain when Fraser would suddenly grab the dashboard and say, "Stop, Ray! I see a ______ _______-ing a _______!" where the fill-ins were always "an escaped tiger mauling a street vendor," or, "a mime kicking a little old man," or, maybe even "the Mayor assaulting a nun from St. Christopher's!" Man, that was a fun case. Fun, fun, fun. Ray still had some strips missing from his ass from where Welsh had torn into him.
Politics? Were not Ray's strong suit.
But, still, a good day was when he could spend a lot of time with Fraser. Ray had stopped wondering why a long time ago, mostly because he'd figured out part of it—Fraser was like his Red Kryptonite. Superman was completely helpless against it, but it didn't really hurt him, it just made crazy things happen to him, and sometimes helped him, or made him feel incredibly loopy and do stupid things even the Man of Steel had no business doing, but it all turned out in the end.
Which was all right by Ray. Even if the crazy part wasn't so much fun sometimes. Especially when it involved machine guns, or dumpsters filled with popcorn butter. Or machine guns filled with popcorn butter.
Ray sat down at his desk and pulled Fuchs's file. They hadn't managed to get the bastard to crack yesterday, and he'd been out on bail less than an hour after he lawyered up. But with today starting out so good, Ray thought as he bent his head and re-read the file, maybe it would rub off and give them a break on the case.
Hey, weirder things had happened.
Fraser showed up exactly at nine a.m. as usual, looking pretty much like he always did: red uniform, shiny boots, tiny smile just for Ray, white wolf dogging his heels. He was also sporting a haircut—shorter than usual, which made his hair look straighter. Also, even shinier. Which wasn't fair—it wasn't like it wasn't already shiny enough that Ray always wanted to put his fingers in it.
"Good morning, Ray," Fraser said. He always said it like he meant it—that it was a good morning, and he wanted it to be for Ray. Ray happened to agree with him this time, so he nodded back before standing up.
"Come on, I found something we might be able to use on Fuchs. I got a warrant on his accountant's place."
And with that, they were off to the car. Fraser let Dief in and got in next to Ray and fidgeted a little, tugging at his collar.
"What's up?" Ray asked. "You got ants in your pants?"
Fraser made a little sound. "No, Ray. It's—I got my hair cut this morning, and it itches like the Dickens." He scratched the back of his neck again.
"The Dickens, huh?" Ray grinned. "C'mere," he said, reaching over, and before thinking about it, he'd pushed Fraser's head down and was running his fingers around the back of Fraser's neck, over the smooth skin, brushing off the little flecks of trimmed hair. He touched the little uneven curl of hair that was cut so close, and it was stiff yet soft under his fingers, so he did it again, pushing against the grain.
Fraser's neck seemed to get warmer and turned red in front of his eyes. It was right about then that Ray realized—Jesus—he'd pushed Fraser over like he had a right to; he'd manhandled Fraser, and Fraser had let him, and now Ray was totally fondling the back of Fraser's neck.
"Uh." Ray's left hand was still on Fraser's shoulder, holding him down, and he yanked it away. "I think I got it all." There was this annoying little break in his voice.
Fraser straightened and, yeah, his face was completely red, what Ray could see of it. "Thank you kindly, Ray." He cracked his neck. "That's much better," he said after a moment, sounding funny and hoarse. But then he looked over at Ray, almost deliberately, like had to make himself do it, and when Ray saw Fraser's eyes, something went thunk in his guts.
"Anytime," Ray said. He cleared his throat and started up the Goat. He needed to drive just then, and his foot jittered on the gas, lurching them out of the parking lot. He smoothed out once he hit the street.
They went to the address Ray had dug up, and in a perfect trifecta caught Fuchs' accountant in bed with an underage hooker and a bag of heroin big enough to charge him with dealing. He was so eager to talk, Ray practically wanted to gag him with the pillowcase.
They got the books from him, both sets, and in the real ones it was laid out all pretty—just who Fuchs's suppliers were, and dates and amounts, all in Hansen's tiny, perfect handwriting.
"Jackpot," Ray said, grinning at Fraser, who smiled back and spun his hat at Ray, once, twice, and then, ooh, a third time.
"A job well done, I'd say."
"Oh, I'd say you're right, Constable. Let's get the goods back to the station before we jinx it with an exploding car chase or, I dunno, a herd of zombie litterbugs."
Fraser frowned and waved Dief down the stairs. "I don't know that zombies are much into littering, Ray."
"Sure they are. They litter body parts like nobody's business." Ray pushed Hansen ahead of him, being not so gentle considering the age of the poor girl he'd had in bed with him. What a jerk. The uniforms already had custody of the girl, who was going into CPS, not that Ray thought she'd stick around for very long. She had that wary look around the eyes.
Although it looked like she'd taken quite a shine to Fraser, who offered her a blanket from the trunk and wrapped it around her. He said something to her, and she smiled suddenly, her face transforming as she ducked her head, suddenly shy.
Ray shook his head and shoved Hansen into the back of the GTO.
"C'mon, Frase. We got an accountant to book, and books to crack. And then we gotta pick up Fuchs—"
"Right with you, Ray," Fraser said, and sure enough he was right there, lickety-split, and off they went.
Ray didn't think the day could get any better, he honestly didn't. He kind of figured they'd have a heck of a time tracking down Fuchs again after they'd had to cut him loose the first time, but then their BOLO turned him up downtown at a city planning commission meeting where he was disturbing the peace, no less, raising a ruckus about there not being enough parking spaces in his neighborhood.
What a day. The expression on Fuchs' face when they showed up to arrest him was just too much, and Ray almost laughed himself silly getting out his cuffs. Fraser had to clap him on the back a couple of times to get him to can it.
"Ray. Ray. Ray. Do you want me to do the honors?" There was a crease in Fraser's cheek, small but deadly, as if he were having a really hard time not cracking up himself, and just then Ray really—well, not to go all mushball or anything, but if they weren't surrounded by CDOT officials, city council members, and four or five patrol officers, Ray would have been tempted to plant a big juicy one right on Fraser's mouth.
The thought made Ray blink for a second. Then he finished cuffing Fuchs and started reading him his Miranda warning.
But all the way back to the car, Ray thought about it—kissing Fraser. Now that would put a cap on the day, wouldn't it?
So, the thought didn't really go away, all during booking, when the computer for once did everything Ray asked it to, or even when Francesca started making doe eyes at Fraser and brought him a special mocha-frothy-whatever cup of coffee, and Fraser took one sip, crinkled his eyebrows, and handed it to Ray. Man, that was a good, sweet, chocolate-tasting cup of java right there, so Ray forgave Francesca on the spot. Plus, putting his mouth where Fraser's had been didn't really help with forgetting about kissing him; nope, not one bit.
Then Welsh came back from his big, dick-swinging shindig and looked suitably impressed by what they'd accomplished; he even patted Ray on the shoulder, for chrissake, and said, "Well, gentlemen, to be frank, I was expecting a little more mayhem; maybe I should leave you to your own devices more often." Which was Welsh for "Attaboy," so Ray was totally jazzed.
Then they went out to the diner for celebratory cheeseburgers. The perfect end to a perfect day, Ray would have thought, until Fraser broke into one of his weird stories.
"It was my grandmother's idea," Fraser was saying to him over the remainder of their fries, and he looked so fucking earnest that Ray wanted to smack him. Or kiss him, or something. "She had decided it was for my own good—chocolate being bad for the teeth as it is—so she told me the Easter Bunny is actually a gigantic, rabid creature with long fangs and sharp claws, and when the little children go out to hunt for Easter eggs, that's when he grabs them, you see? He's hiding in the tall grass, and he springs up to get unsuspecting, greedy children."
"Yow." Boy, the more Ray learned about Fraser's family, the less he wanted to learn about Fraser's family.
"She called him The Mighty Furry Bunny," Fraser said in a big, deep voice. "Be wary, children, for his claws are sharp and his eyes are keen—"
"Just like Michael Sowa's Easter Bunny painting," said a woman sitting next to them at the counter, butting in. Ray turned and gave her a, Don't you know you're in Chicago, lady? glare. She looked startled.
"Yes. That's it precisely," Fraser said, sounding pleased. "I admit the first time I saw that print, a hundred childhood nightmares came back in a flash."
He and the brunette shared a grin around Ray. It was enough to seriously piss him off, because Fraser didn't do that. He didn't smile at women, not like that, not relaxed and happy and confidential-like. This was supposed to be Ray's big day, after all, not the day some strange gal got into Fraser's pants.
"Come on, Frase, time to get a move on." Ray dropped some cash on the check, grabbed Dief's take-out bag, and pushed away from the counter.
"Right you are." Fraser picked up his hat and twirled it in that flirty way as they walked toward the door. The bell tinkled and they stepped out. "She seemed quite nice, don't you think?"
"Oh, yeah. She's a peach," Ray growled. His mood was totally busted. "Take you home?"
"Ah. Well, I suppose so." Fraser dropped his hat on his head and squared it. "Unless...it seems a shame...to end the evening so soon." The words stuttered out so awkwardly that Ray stopped and stared.
"Sure. I guess," Ray said, caught flat-footed. "I mean, yeah. Okay." But Fraser was already turning away and striding toward the GTO.
"Of course, you must be exhausted. It has been an eventful day." Now Fraser was speaking smoothly as always, slick as soap, and Ray got it all of a sudden, because Fraser was backing away from what he wanted. Which was maybe to hang out with Ray.
Fraser wanted to be with him.
"Oh, hell, no. Not tired at all," Ray said. "Feeling great."
"Oh? Are you certain?" Fraser stopped by the passenger door and waited, head tilted so his hat shaded his eyes.
"Certainest. For sure. Yup."
Fraser's tongue came out to wet his lower lip before he broke into a smile. "All righty then."
"All righty. Get in the car already."
There was a special kind of feeling Ray had when he knew he was on the edge of cracking a case—like a tingle that made his scalp tighten, or maybe it was more like a pressure in his jaw, like if he just opened his mouth, the pure logic of the scenario would come rushing out. That was usually why he talked it out while he was detecting, and Fraser was always right there with him, filling in the gaps or sometimes even pushing Ray into a sudden left-turn—
That was where he was at right now, jittering on the toes of his shoes as he flipped on the overhead lights and stuffed yesterday's T-shirt under the couch cushion, because his scalp was tingling, and Fraser was passing the brim of his hat through his fingers over and over, not quite in a nervous way but not in a playful way either. More like he was getting ready to jump out of a speeding train.
Ray went over to the kitchen and put Dief's cheeseburger into a bowl on the floor, giving him a pat in passing. Then he grabbed a couple of brewskies from the fridge and popped the caps on the counter, making Fraser raise his eyebrows.
"Siddown, Fraser. Take a load off. Get unstrapped. Or...whatever," Ray said, dropping one bottle on the coffee table and then turning his back. Nothing to see here, right, Ray thought as he heard Fraser unbuckling and unbuttoning and Christ knew what else. Mounties had more extra features than a Lincoln Town Car. Ray went over to the stereo and put on Aretha's Gold, because Aretha was the goddess of understanding lost causes like Ray. She'd give him the boost he needed.
This was his day. The best day ever, and he was going to prove it.
When he turned around, Fraser was sitting on the sofa, Mountie jacket, buckles, and straps gone, boots tucked away, in just a long-sleeved undershirt, suspenders, poofy pants and socks, and Ray's heart decided right then to chug hard in his chest, bump it up a notch, because Fraser was definitely with the program, here—no doubt about it. Especially when he leaned over and snagged his beer off the coffee table and took a swig, then wiped his lips off the back of his hand, just like a normal joe.
"This is excellent beer," Fraser said, and Ray grinned.
"Yeah. That's me: cheap pizza and good beer. I know my priorities."
"Indeed you do, Ray." Fraser's mouth quirked in a smile. The red chili pepper lights were glinting off his dark hair and giving his skin a pink glow that looked like a blush, only Ray knew it wasn't. But it reminded him of earlier in the car, when he'd brushed his fingers over Fraser's neck. Ray's dick gave a little twitch "hello."
Shut up, Ray said to his dick. "So." Ray headed over to the sofa and plopped down next to Fraser. "Best day ever, or what?" Of course, Ray pretty much loved Thursdays in general, anyway.
"It was a good day," Fraser said, nodding, "but no more so than usual."
"What? What're you talking about?"
Fraser's hand came up and he stroked his eyebrows with his index finger and thumb. Ray was always tempted to reach over and muss them up when he did that.
"Well, what I mean to say is..." Fraser gave his right eyebrow an extra flick with his thumb. "I find every day is a good day with you as my partner, Ray."
Okay. That was just underhanded. "Argh! How do you just—you always do that!" Ray grabbed Fraser's shoulder, startling him. "You always just come out and say the thing I wanted to say before I get a chance, Frase. That's not buddies."
Fraser relaxed under his grip, a smile spreading his mouth. "Isn't it?"
God, that smile was doing things to Ray's insides that just weren't legal. "No, it ain't."
Looking smug all of a sudden, Fraser took a swig of his beer, his lips curling around the rim. Ray's mouth went dry, watching.
Fraser swallowed and licked his lips. "Well, then, I suppose you'll have to beat me to it sometime."
Ray blinked, but his eyes were just plain stuck on Fraser's mouth. "Beat you to it."
Ray blinked again, but it was no good. Because Fraser's tongue came out, his teeth white against the pink, and he wet his lower lip again, and it was just—it was like Ray's brain was a record with a big old scratch in it, ba-woop, ba-woop.
In the background, he could hear Aretha singing, Oh yeah, oh, good God Almighty, the man sure makes me feel real.
Ray's brain just went and said fuck it. "How about if I said I wanted to kiss you right now?"
Fraser dropped his beer, caught it, and stared at him for a second. "I...I would say you win, Ray."
"Yes, you—yes." Fraser put his beer on the coffee table, almost knocking it over in the process.
Ray's heart went chug-chug-chug. "What do I win?"
"I'm—whatever you—oh, whatever you like, I suppose," Fraser said, the grin taking over his face.
"All righty, then." Ray wet his whistle with the last of his beer, then chucked it, because Fraser was already moving toward him, and Ray had won. He'd won this day, this round, and good God Almighty, Fraser was kissing him, lips beer-cold but warming up, his tongue sliding into Ray's mouth. Ray clutched at Fraser's arm, felt the strong muscles moving under the thin cotton of his white undershirt, and held on tight, because the world was spinning, and it wasn't the beer doing it. It was Fraser's mouth, and the little sounds he was making—maybe because Ray's other hand had somehow found its way onto the back of Fraser's neck and was stroking the little curl there.
"Fraser," Ray said, breaking away for a second. "Dyin' here."
Fraser made a questioning noise; his eyes were closed and he was nuzzling Ray's jaw now, which was no fair, especially if he kept up with the teeth thing: that was going to make Ray's dick bend in half where it was caught in his pants.
"Seriously," Ray said, pulling back. And, oh, Fraser's face was all flushed for real now, his hair messed up, and he looked confused as hell, like why did Ray stop him? Ray demonstrated by reaching for the buttons of Fraser's pants and yanking on them until they cooperated and he could shove his fingers down the front. And then he had Benton Fraser's dick in his hand.
Fraser made a hilarious squeaking noise and dropped his head against the back of the couch.
"Yeah. That's what I'm saying." Ray grinned and rubbed his thumb over the soft, wet frill of Fraser's foreskin that was growing tighter by the second. Ray jacked him slowly a couple of times, then went back to rubbing him since that seemed to make Fraser moan the loudest. "Like that, huh?"
"Yes, Ray." Fraser's arms flopped, as if he wanted to contribute to the whole enterprise, but was too discombobulated to even try.
It didn't seem like it would take anything complicated to make him lose it completely, by the sound of Fraser's breathing and the way his eyes were glazing over, or the way he kept licking his lips. Ray just kept stroking him and rubbing him with his thumb.
"Never thought I'd get to see you like this," Ray said softly, and Fraser hitched in a breath and just seized up, his hand squeezing Ray's thigh as he came all over Ray's fist.
Damn, that was hot. Ray's dick was definitely complaining about the tight quarters at this point, but he didn't want to let go of the moment just yet; seeing Fraser all relaxed and gorgeous and come-stupid—that was something he wanted to snapshot for his personal scrapbook.
"Ray. Ray. Ray. You can let go now," Fraser said, sounding breathless and, yeah, really relaxed.
Ray pulled out his hand and wiped it on his own shirt, because that was the kind of considerate guy he was. Fraser made a hilarious face and tugged on him, pulling until Ray was lying across his lap, and then leaning over him to kiss him while his other hand got busy on the fly of Ray's jeans.
Finally, Ray's dick said. "God, yeah, Fraser," Ray said when Fraser took hold of him, big warm Mountie hand wrapped around his aching dick. Then Fraser twisted sideways so he could—Holy fuck—sink his mouth down around Ray's cock, the back of his wet tongue swiping against the head.
Ray groaned. And tried not to squirm, because that would be plain rude, and he wasn't a rude guy. But he wanted so badly to just shove his hips up right then, it was ridiculous. Only Fraser was holding him down and bobbing his head a little, just enough so Ray was getting plenty of soft, warm, wet action up and down on his cock, and down below, Fraser had a counter rhythm going with his hand, a little awkward and jerky, but Ray wasn't complaining. Not at all. Not even a bit. In fact, if Fraser kept that up even a little while longer, Ray was going to do the ungentleman-like thing and come right into his mouth.
Which, from the whimpery sounds Ray was making, shouldn't come as too much of a surprise.
"Fraser. God. Uh, I'm—"
Fraser just sped up, which was foul play, not buddies.
Ray gave up and gave it up. Came his brains out.
A little while after that—after Fraser zipped him back up and patted him on the leg and started nuzzling him again, Ray mumbled, "Hey, you know what? I was totally right."
"Whatever do you mean?" Fraser's breath brushed over Ray's stomach, and Ray shivered.
"Best day ever," Ray said, and Fraser laughed, sounding glad, sounding surprised and happy.
"Best day ever, Ray," he said, straightening up to stare down at him. Christ, his eyes were blue. "You were right after all."
Ray heard a whine from under the coffee table, and Dief's tail thumped against the floor.
"What? You got a double cheeseburger, didn't you? That counts."
Fraser laughed, which also counted in Ray's book, so he had to kiss him again for bonus points. From now on, Ray figured, he was in the bonus round.
And he planned to stay there for a long time.