Hunger and a sad, Kowalski, really sad caffeine addiction eventually drove them out of bed. Ben found himself smiling broadly when Ray bumped him on the way to the kitchen seeking more coffee. It was just -- they filled his home, even though the house was not so very small. Even Diefenbaker seemed to take up more space as he wandered between them, spending minutes leaning up against Ray, before wandering to nose Ray into scratching his ears, and then circling back to Ray. Ben suspected that Diefenbaker would prefer even less space between them. Ben could hardly fault him, though he found a certain degree of separation was necessary for meals and conversation. He wondered if Ray and Ray ever became accustomed to it, whether they could sit on the same couch in Chicago without succumbing to the seemingly inevitable pull towards each other.
Ray brushed at the wolf hair on his trousers as Dief trailed after Ray into the kitchen. "So, make any big plans for us?"
"Not as such," he answered, now wondering if he should have after all. "You did ask me not to 'make a production.'"
Ray's hand stroked deliberately across his shoulder in passing as he rejoined them at the table, placing his mug back beside the box of candy laid out for him. "And you listened?"
"Yes." He wrapped both hands around his own mug to keep from fidgeting.
Ray leaned across the table. "Good," he said right as he pressed his lips to Ben's, fast and hard, then sat back in his chair. He caught a glimpse of Ray rolling his eyes at Ray, at them, but smiling. "So, what's new in Freezerland?"
Benton really couldn't help rising to the bait, but despite the digression, the discussion quickly turned to Ray's intended exchange of stories from the past six months. They had, of course, spoken on the phone since Ben's last trip to Chicago, but the stories sounded different without the distance hissing between them.
Ray was regaling him with a story involving former Detectives Huey and Dewey's newest nightclub and an improbable amount of kettle corn, parts of which Ray was strenuously refuting, when the phone rang. He wanted to ignore it, keep his feet tangled with Ray's under the table and not answer. The only reasons he'd had a phone installed were both present and accounted for, but unfortunately, having the phone had meant accepting the outside world's ability to impinge, and it could be an emergency. He excused himself and picked up, hoping he'd successfully hidden his ill grace at the interruption. He's sure he failed to hide his surprise when the caller asked for Ray Vecchio.
"It's for you," he said and held the phone out towards Ray.
Ray and Ray exchanged a look containing a conversation he lacked the context for, then Ray rose, accepted the phone, and proceeded to have a remarkably uninformative conversation -- from the half he was privy to, at least. He looked to Ray, but he was scratching Diefenbaker's ruff, and Ben couldn't catch his eyes.
"Okay, thanks," Vecchio said and hung up. He rubbed his hands on his thighs as he walked back and leaned on the back of the chair instead of sitting down. "That was faster than I expected." The curve of his mouth settled somewhere near wry. "I had some stuff shipped up. I need to pick it up from the post station today or tomorrow."
Ben's eyebrows drew up. Ray frequently grumbled about weight restrictions on the flights, but it had always seemed his usual pro forma complaining, and he was curious what had tipped complaint into action. "Ah. Well, I'd be glad to--"
"Nah, I got it. It'll give you and Kowalski a chance to do the outdoor thing without me."
Ray glanced up at his name, and he and Ray had another moment of silent communication that ended with Ray's hands raising slightly in apparent surrender and Ray releasing Dief with a final, almost triumphant scratch. "We could do that. What do you feel like today, Fraser -- sledding, skiing, shoeing?"
Ray grinned, which was the reaction he'd hoped for. He'd found learning to snowshoe frustrating -- made worse by the conditions surrounding his initial attempts -- but the effort made his pride in the accomplishment shine even years later, and it looked good on him.
"Okay if I borrow your truck?"
Ray knew, had to know that he was welcome to anything of Ben's, so he assumed the question was more about timing than permission. Ben had no particular need of the truck until they -- until the end of the week. "Of course, Ray."
Ray smiled, closed the few steps between them, and dropped a kiss to his temple. Ben considered drawing him down onto his lap, but Ray had straightened and stepped away before he'd decided whether he should act on the thought. "Okay. I'll go now, get this out of the way." He brushed a matching kiss against Ray's forehead before pulling on extra layers, gathering up his wallet and Ben's keys, and heading out the door.
The door shut, and Diefenbaker whimpered and lay down across Ray's feet. Ben could sympathize. Ray glanced down at the half-wolf pinning him to his chair and gave a fond huff of laughter. His eyes caught Benton's, and the smile he received was something more than fond. "Guess we're not doing the outdoor thing yet," he commented.
"I'm sure Diefenbaker can be convinced to move."
Ray held out his hand, palm up, across the table. Ben set his hand in Ray's, and he clasped it. "No, I'm good."