Her lips are warm against his, so warm, it's like falling back in time. She moans, pushes herself against him. Her ass is sweet and firm against his hands, he's pulling her in tighter, he never wants to stop, never wants to--
She twists, pulls her mouth away from his. "No," she pants. "Ray. No."
No means no, Stella's no will always be no to him, and so he drops his arms, backs off three steps so they're not even touching anymore. He dries his palms off on his thighs and swallows, tries to get his breath back. "Okay," he says. "Okay. All right. Sorry--"
"Don't be sorry," she says. "Fuck." She puts both hands over her face and exhales, hard and sharp. He waits for her--waits one second, ten seconds, a fucking minute, because he's been waiting for her for eight, nine months now, waiting for this bullshit trial separation to be over, and maybe now--maybe--if he just waits it out long enough, then maybe, maybe, maybe--
"Okay," she says. Her voice isn't very steady, but she looks up at him, and her eyes are clear even if her lips are all bite-swollen, kissed red and glossy. "Okay, look--it's not--goddamnit, Ray." She rubs at her forehead. "I--do you know how much I want to tell you it's all right, that you can come home, that we're going to make it work this time?"
He swallows down how much he wants that, tries to do what's going to actually lead to that outcome for a change. He doesn't say a word.
"Just--I know, Ray. That you--" She reaches out, and she touches his bracelet, and all of a sudden the panic and shame flares up in him hard. He doesn't jerk away, but it's only because he's so frozen with shock. She knows. She's probably always known.
"Stella--I don't--I don't have to be that way," he tries, but she just shakes her head and turns away. "I mean it. I wasn't--I didn't ever cheat on you, I--"
Paul Haskell, a sunny summer day when he was helping Paul work on his car. The way Paul's neck looked when he tipped his beer back and swallowed down a third of it in one gulp. His stomach, faintly sweaty, pale, when he raised up the hem of his t-shirt and wiped the sweat off his face. For a split-second Ray could feel it, the concrete under his knees, the denim under his palms, could even taste Paul's cock as Paul pushed into his mouth and whispered out that's it, cocksucker, you want it, you always wanted it...
So he put down his beer and went home, and that was the way it was. Day in and day out. Twenty fucking years, not because he was afraid of getting the shit kicked out of him or how his mom would cry if she found out her son was a faggot, but because of Stella.
"I know you didn't," she says quietly, "but didn't you ever ask yourself if you were sure? If I was really what you wanted?"
"No," he says, right away, because there is no way that can be the wrong answer--it's true, it's right, it is the answer, Stella is the only answer Ray has ever needed--but she's shaking her head, stepping even further away from him.
"I just--I can't live with not knowing. Not knowing if this is going to be the week you find out there's somebody you were meant to be with."
The words are ash in his mouth before he even says them, but he has to say them anyway. "Stella--baby--I was meant to be with you--"
She meets his eyes, and he goes cold all over. She's already got this round; whatever she says, he's going to agree to. They both know it from the minute their eyes lock.
"Find out," she says softly. "I mean--be safe, okay? Find the right guy to--" She closes her eyes; she can't finish the sentence. "Just--if I'm wrong, then--maybe. Just... maybe. But if I'm not--" Her mouth twists; it almost looks like a smile. "Then maybe you'll find what you've been looking for all these years. And I won't be angry at you for it."
His heart is a dead weight in the pit of his stomach as he leaves her apartment, as he gets into his car. His fucking wife wants him to find someone else, some guy to fuck. And if he can pretend to hate it for long enough, she'll take him back.
It's a cosmic joke like his life is a cosmic joke, but he starts thinking up names all the same.
There's Tommy Gleason, but the fact is Tommy's got a big mouth, and he's a mean drunk. Ray hits on him, and maybe Tommy puts up with it in the moment, maybe Tommy lets him suck his cock or even gives it to him up the ass, maybe Tommy even loves it and tells Ray how great it is, but down the road--down the road, Tommy's going to come out swinging with that, maybe in public, maybe just to be cruel. Bad idea. Not going to work. Not him, then.
He runs through other possibilities and discards them just as fast. Harry Donald, not good-looking enough; Ray's seen him in the shower twice and didn't think anything of it. It'd be copping out to go after someone he doesn't actually want so he can prove Stella wrong, so no. William Sanchez, hot as all hell, but no poker face to speak of; the whole station would know inside of a week. Paul, he lost touch with; Jared, too damn young to understand what this is really all about; Eddie, he'd go ballistic if he found out he was just Ray's test case on the way back to his wife. There's no one.
Ray's vision goes completely red one day at work, serge blotting out everything as Fraser tackles him to the ground. The bomb goes off seconds later, and Ray looks up at Fraser with lights flying behind them, Fraser's big, heavy body sprawled all over his, Fraser's thigh pressed tight against Ray's cock. It's a coincidence, yeah--hell, the zipper's digging into his balls and Fraser's got his elbow on Ray's ribs--but Ray grunts softly as he feels his body starting to respond. If he's allowed to look at guys right now, how the hell did he miss this one? Fraser's been right in front of his face for a while now.
Fraser shifts, and Ray grunts again. Fraser's eyes go a little wide and unfocused, and the tip of his tongue sweeps over his lips--none of it for show, none of it for Ray's benefit. Fraser's startled, but he knows what's going on underneath him--and he knows Ray isn't trying to shove him off or throw a punch his way.
He eases his way off Ray, and Ray lets Fraser give him a hand up. "Thanks," Ray says softly.
"Any time, Ray," Fraser replies, and Ray starts really giving it some thought.
It's not like things have ever been easy for Fraser, either. Ray knows the stories, knows there was some woman--once, a long time ago--and it went about as bad as it can go; Fraser's still got a bullet in his back. And he knows Fraser's never once taken anybody up on it, none of the women who fling themselves at him, none of the men who stand a little too close.
He thinks about this as his shoulder brushes Fraser's, as his thigh bumps into Fraser's hip. Standing too close--how long has he been standing too close? Was he, did Stella know, did she see him and Fraser together and--
He slams himself off his desk chair and double-steps it to the lunchroom; he can't deal with these thoughts while Fraser's right there, eyebrows drawn together, poring over case files.
He wasn't. He wasn't hinting, couldn't have been, because if he had been, if he'd been sending off those same fuck me signals as Johnny down in Records does when he runs into Fraser, Fraser wouldn't have been surprised like he was on Thursday. Surprised by the way Ray got hard, surprised by the way Ray was--was--
Hell. The way he was looking up at Fraser. The way Fraser was looking down at him. Same look.
And now that he's seen it, he can't un-see it. He can't stop thinking about Fraser, on him, all over him, the way he's been all hands with Fraser since the day they met. He knows what Fraser's body feels like on top of his, under his, squeezed up tight against his to get through a narrow space. He knows Fraser's hands, strong and wide, hard from use, callused in ways that are different from anybody Ray's ever known.
The more he lets himself see it, the more turns out to be there to see. Fraser's eyes, dark and hopeful; Fraser's hands, reaching out but rarely making contact except when strictly necessary. Fraser licks his lips a little more when he looks at Ray now, and Ray's not sure, but he thinks Fraser's breath picks up some when they look at each other just a little too long, when Ray looks away because it's that or say something stupid.
And Fraser would never kiss and tell, not in a million years. He's nice enough that when it doesn't work out, he'll--he'll probably apologize is what, and then he'll go, and it'll be like nothing happened.
These are all the things Ray's thinking, right up till the point where Fraser opens his mouth under Ray's and moans, softly, tongue stroking against Ray's and then brushing over his lips.
It's--he's--it's good, Ray realizes, good and hot and strong, and-- "Fraser," he gasps out, "God--"
Fraser kisses him again, hot, hungry, like he's dying or drowning and he needs Ray's mouth to stay alive. Ray pulls Fraser tighter against him, falls back onto the sofa. Fraser goes with it, squirming until he's between Ray's legs, and then suddenly he makes some space between them and shoves his hand down the front of Ray's jeans.
Ray grunts out a muffled cry, caught between Fraser's teeth and his tongue, and then everything clicks together--the scrape and scratch of Fraser's stubble, the musky smell of his sweat, the hardness pressing into Ray's thigh, just--everything, and Ray jerks forward, bumping heads with Fraser, gasping out a breath as he comes in stunned pulses against the inside of Fraser's wrist.
It was--this was--it was gorgeous, and Ray wants to do it again, and again, and again, right now, right here, until they're wiped out and their clothes are filthy. He doesn't want Fraser to leave, not ever, not if he can make Ray feel like that. Like--
Fuck. Like Stella never has, and Ray turns his head away, clenching his jaw.
After a few seconds, Fraser draws his hand back out of Ray's jeans--good. Fuck. Good.
"It's all right," Fraser begins, hesitantly, and no, Ray can't deal with this, cannot deal with Fraser being cool and calm and polite about this.
"You should go," Ray tells him, and thank God, Fraser does, mumbling something polite and then licking his goddamned hand as he heads for the door.
Licking his hand. Jesus.
Later, when Ray's standing under the showerhead, hoping he can wash off the sickly sweet smell of shame he's got all over him, he raises his hand to his mouth and licks, once, twice, just like Fraser did. And then he can't stop himself; he wraps his hand around his cock and jerks himself, angry, brutal, fast and rough and just this side of painful, coming with a strangled moan as he thinks about Fraser's mouth on his fingers, Fraser's tongue licking up the last traces of Ray's spunk.
What he did to Fraser wasn't nice or fair or anything like that. He calls Fraser up the next day, in theory to get his help on a case, but in reality he wants to say I'm sorry and That was fucked up and See, there's this deal I made with Stella...
But every time he thinks about starting a conversation like that, like any of that, he just--can't. It won't come out of his mouth. He can't do it, doesn't want to.
By the end of the day, Fraser's almost squirming from the awkwardness, and Ray himself feels like jumping out of his skin. It's bad. It sucks.
Fraser must think it sucks, too, because at the end of the day he turns to Ray and says, "Would you like to have dinner?"
Ray's shoulders sag, and he looks around, trying to come up with a reason to say no. There's a pitch and roll in the pit of his stomach, and he wishes--wants--he doesn't know what he wants.
So he says the only thing that comes to mind, which is "Sure, Frase. Yeah."
They get pierogies on the way home, takeout, but Ray glances over at Fraser, who's holding the bag and staring steadfastly out the window. Yeah, they both know what they're really going home for, and as soon as they hit Ray's apartment, there's no reason to stall. Ray puts the bag down on the counter, turns to Fraser, and says what's been going through his mind all day, all last night after Fraser left.
Fraser's eyes go wide, but he doesn't hesitate--good, good, this is going to work out fine. He comes forward, slips his hands onto Ray's hips, and God, Ray can feel himself drawn to Fraser, wanting him--it's like knowing that he can actually have Fraser turns the dial on his libido up to eleven. He's practically panting like a dog, like Diefenbaker, who got left at the Consulate today--did Fraser know they were going to come back to Ray's place and do this? Did he suspect? He's one up on Ray, maybe, or... or maybe he's not. God.
It would be chickenshit not to kiss Fraser after all this, so Ray leans forward, brushes his lips across Fraser's. Fraser gasps softly and clutches Ray's hips, body close and moving closer, and finally Fraser whispers, "How do you want me to...?"
God. Fraser's so damn sweet, he's going to be so sweet about this. Ray reaches up--what are you doing, are you crazy--and cups Fraser's face in his hands.
It's only going to be this once, he reminds himself. Just this once, so he can go to Stella with a clear conscience and say I don't want this, I want you. He can afford to be sweet, too.
"In the bedroom," he tells Fraser. And then, trying not to blush from just admitting it, "I got stuff."
Fraser nods at him, and they go, Ray first, Fraser on his heels. Ray stops at the foot of the bed and starts stripping.
Just this once and then you get Stella back, Ray reminds himself. He finishes undressing and slides into bed, face-down. He spreads his legs. Stella's not going to be able to argue with his methods, here; he's not taking it by halves.
The bed dips between his legs, Fraser coming up behind him. Behind--oh, God, he's going to--Ray swallows, clenches his fists. He'll do it and he'll go. Like the last time.
The last time? You'll come so hard you'll want him to stay and do it again and again until you can't fuck anymore?
Shut up, Ray fires back at himself. This is for Stella. It's for Stella and nothing else.
And then, God, there are two fingers at his ass, slipping down into his cleft, and Ray almost moans, it's so good--but no, no, if it's good like that then Stella was right. He jerks away.
"Ray--" Fraser begins; Ray can almost see the little crease between his eyebrows. Christ, this isn't fair to Fraser, either, it isn't going to be fair to anybody, but--they've got this far, he can't tell Fraser to go now.
"Just do it," Ray mumbles. He takes a breath. Fraser needs to know where his head is, needs a clue, at least. "Don't--I don't need it to be sweet, okay?"
"I--all right," Fraser whispers. "I just... I'd rather not cause you any discomfort..."
And that actually makes Ray laugh--that is just like Fraser, to want to be kind, to want that so bad he's naive about what it means, what's possible. "Whatever," Ray says. "It's getting fucked, how's it not gonna cause discomfort?"
Fraser doesn't say anything to that, but a few seconds later his fingers are back. And this time he doesn't stop when Ray tightens up; he keeps going until his fingers are--are--God, fuck, they're in him, Fraser's opening him up all quick and businesslike, which makes Ray wonder who the hell Fraser's been fucking. Is it always like this, is it always business? Does he--he couldn't, right?--does he pay for it? Christ, maybe it's the safest thing for him, picking up strangers, paying for it so they won't come back in the morning. Maybe it's all he has left.
His chest feels tight, but his body knows what it wants. And God help him, it wants Fraser; it wants Fraser's fingers, it wants more than Fraser's fingers. It wants--oh, God, yeah, yes, he grunts consent into his pillow, because maybe he wants to hate this for Stella's sake, but right now, for his sake and for Fraser's, he can't. He can't.
"Ray," Fraser whispers. Like a friend, at the least; maybe like a lover. There's nothing businesslike about it. Nothing cool or collected about the sounds he makes as he presses the thick, blunt tip of his cock, sheathed now, into Ray's ass. He groans, groans when he moves forward, groans when Ray clenches at him--Ray might want it, now, but he's never--he doesn't know how.
"Ray--let me..." God. He would if he could; doesn't Fraser know that? "Please, Ray..."
Maybe--if he opens his legs, maybe--he spreads his legs wider, and Fraser sinks in, gasping again, and it's deep and hard all at once, opening Ray up, turning him inside out. Ray shakes, softly, and for a moment there's this odd sense of relief as his erection fades away--but then Fraser's hips are pressed up against his ass, and he kisses the back of Ray's neck, sloppy and openmouthed, and holy shit, there's his hard-on, all perked up and nowhere to go. He's almost shaking now, almost begging, because this is--this is--
"Ray," Fraser moans.
"Yeah," Ray tells him; just this once he can be honest with them both. "Okay," he murmurs. "Fuck me."
For a moment, Fraser hesitates, but then--no, he's going for it. He's moving inside Ray, and there's no pain, no discomfort, it's all this amazing fucking thrill of sensation all the way up his body. Fraser tugs at his hip for a second, but Ray's too busy taking it all in to let Fraser move him around--this time, no, just like this, just--he wants to tell Fraser keep going, keep going, but Fraser's doing that already. He doesn't have to talk, doesn't have to move, he can just be here, just have this. Right now, right here, this moment, he can have this.
And then it's over, Fraser's finishing it, coming deep inside Ray with a groan and a gasp and a shudder. Ray swallows heavily, trying to be nice right now, trying to be kind--but this is it. Christ. It's over, him and Stella. Finished. Done. Stella was right about him.
"You should go," Ray murmurs; he can't take having Fraser around right now.
And true to form, Fraser's polite about it. "All right," he whispers. "May I clean up a bit first?"
Christ. How fucking cruel would it be to say no? "Yeah."
Fraser disappears then, quietly closing the bathroom door behind him. As soon as he's gone, Ray lifts himself up off the mattress, holding himself up with one hand, getting his other hand on his cock. He's rough with himself, almost cruel, needing to get off as much as he hates that he needs to do it, and in just a few seconds it's all over.
He rolls off the wet spot and closes his eyes, but just for a second. Just a second, while the ache in his ass is still bright and--goddamn it--fucking gorgeous, and while he's coming down from the rush of orgasm.
Stella was right all along. There's not going to be any coming back from it.
He gets dressed and looks out the window, looking at nothing--all he really needs right now is to get Fraser the fuck out of his apartment, make that happen now so he can figure out what he's going to tell Stella.
The shower cuts out, and a few seconds later he hears the door open. The floorboards creak as Fraser takes a step forward.
Ray cuts him off fast. "I'll see you tomorrow. At work. Okay?"
He knows when he asks it that it's not okay. Later, though. He can apologize to Fraser later. Fraser's not a guy to hold a grudge, thank God, and Ray's using the fuck out of that right now, but--later.
"Yes, Ray, of course," Fraser says.
And then he's gone.
Ray stays where he is a while, seeing nothing, having conversations in his head--with Stella, with Fraser, with his mom. Christ.
When his vision clears up some and he stops shaking, he heads for the phone. Stella first, he decides. Now. No stalling.
It's not like she doesn't already know.