I open the door and my mind is blown, just POW, oatmeal, 'cause on the other side's Fraser, and he's all crumpled and rumpled and, who knew it was even possible, dirty. Dirty like he'd been dragged behind a bus, or caught in a bar fight, thrown in a dumpster, and then dragged behind a bus. Whatever he was wearing before, he's only got half of it left, white t-shirt with a ripped sleeve, a pair of jeans and--
There is a hole in--
"What the hell happened to you?"
"Please, Ray, let me in," he says urgently, glancing over his shoulder. "I can't be certain they're not still following me."
I pull him inside and look up and down the hall. "Who? Who's following you? Johnny Kreviazuk? Fat Lou? That guy you got his hot dog cart shut down 'cause of sauerkraut violations?"
Fraser tries to smooth his hair down, but it's seriously traumatized, sticking out like someone's been pulling on it. Out of nowhere he turns to glare into the kitchen, muttering something I don't catch, shoulders all angry and tense.
"What? What? I leave the milk out or something?"
"You can't possibly know what it's like," he hisses at the stove.
"Hey, I may not be so good with moose, but I know this city. Try me."
Fraser just crosses his arms over his chest, still pissed and muttering. I can only hear every other word, but one of 'em's the big scary kind that'd break your legs as soon as dump you in the river.
"Hold on." I edge around until I'm standing between him and the kitchen. "The mob. You got the mob after you?"
He perks up like he forgot I was there. "Not the mob in the definitive sense, no. I was simply beset by a mob in the more general sense, an unspecified group carrying no association with..."
Mob or not, he's a real mess, streak of something black across his forehead and another on his arm. He's got a few bumps and bruises, his elbow's scraped, and he's favoring his right leg, but he's not bleeding from the head or anything. It's mostly his clothes that are hurtin'. His t-shirt's got a notch missing from the collar and the back pocket of his jeans is ripped loose.
"...at which point I returned the rickshaw to its owner and ducked into a..."
Me, I been trying not to look, but there's a hole in Fraser's pants. Not really a hole, more like a flap, right there on his thigh. I can see the torn edges and I want to pull it open like he's a Mountie Advent calendar and it's Christmas Eve.
"...with the youth choir distracting them long enough that I was able to break free and make my way here."
I jolt to attention, feeling kinda guilty about ogling the guy, but he seems okay. I mean, he couldn't have been in too much danger, he's still got his hat. Though he is holding it kind of funny.
"I apologize if I've inadvertently led them to you." He drops his head and scratches his neck, and that's when I see he's got some kind of rash up behind his ear. Big patch of red, but blotchy and in the shape of--
"Lips!" I shout, grabbing him by the neck. Fraser's got lipstick kisses smeared across the back of his neck in this really trampy shade of red. "What the fuck kind of mob was this, Fraser?"
"I'm afraid I must again admit my ignorance regarding the power structure of the street," he says, rubbing a thumb over his eyebrow, then frowning at it and wiping it on his shirt. It leaves a blue smudge. "They wore pink and claimed affiliation with Mary Kay, though they seemed to have no set territory. In fact, they pursued me across several rival gang--"
"Mary Kay. You got attacked by. Mary Kay. Yeah, of course you did. Siddown. I'll get you a towel."
"Thank you kindly." Fraser collapses on the couch, which for Fraser means he's slouching a little and his knees aren't pressed together like a Catholic schoolgirl.
On my way back from the bathroom, I hear a scratching at the front door. I look out the peephole but don't see anything. Either it's a really short Mary Kay lady or there's a wolf at my door. I let Dief in and he trots over to Fraser and whines.
"No thanks to you," Fraser says. "And I'll have you know I don't appreciate the insinuation."
Dief shakes himself then crawls under the table.
"Just remember this the next time you want my help. Thrown over for a plate of petits fours, shameful behavior, really. You know dairy doesn't agree with you."
"Eh, give the wolf a break. Those chicks are scary." I toss him the towel and curl my hands into claws. "Did they have the fake nails?"
Fraser winces and pulls up his shirt, exposing several sets of parallel scratches low on his belly.
"Holy shit! You could have rabies or or dyspepsia."
"That's highly unlikely," he says, wiping at his stomach with the damp towel. "While they were quite determined I not leave, none actually attempted to bite me."
He's fine. He's safe. He's been groped and manhandled and kissed on the neck and he looks used, but in the good way -- bad. In the bad way.
"That's it," I say, staring at his neck. "We are getting you a cell phone. I don't care if you have to carry it in your hat. You gotta be able to call for backup."
"I confess it would have been nice to have your assistance in this matter."
"You bet." Fraser should probably take his shirt off. It's really dirty. He hates being dirty.
He stops what he's doing and looks up at me. "Ray?"
"You got lipstick." I grab the towel out of his hands and step closer to rub at his ear. He bows his head and the back of his neck is so beautiful that it makes something growl inside me. Then I'm holding his head and standing in front of him, one leg between his and I can feel his hot breath through my shirt, and Fraser's holding onto my hips like he's the one about to fall over, and christ, his neck.
"Ray," he says, sounding strangled and it's maybe 'cause I'm pushing his face into my side, but there is so much lipstick on him and I want it all off.
"Strange women should not touch you, Fraser. They got no right."
He says something against my stomach, fingers tightening in the waist of my cords.
"No one should touch you," I say, then realize what I'm saying. "I mean, unless you want them to. That's okay. That's how it should work. None of this grabbing you in the street and ripping off your clothes. That's no good." I am in so much trouble. My hand is in his hair. I tilt his face up and scrub at the mark on his forehead like I meant to do that.
"I was fairly certain their behavior was not within the bounds of propriety," Fraser says in that overly prim tone he uses when he's playing dumb. Then he ruins it by giggling.
He giggles again and drops back into the couch, looking all loose and comfortable like I had no idea he could do. Fraser doesn't even look comfortable when he's asleep. Meanwhile, I'm left standing over him like an idiot with a towel.
"You can take a shower if you want. You know, wash those girls right outta your hair."
"That would be wonderful, Ray." He smiles at me and all I can think is that he'd better stop or I'm going to do something stupid with my mouth. Like kiss him.
"We can wash 'em out of your pants too," I mutter, wringing the towel's neck. Fraser reaches up to take it from me, 'cause clearly that sort of thing goes against his delicate sensibilities, and then I go a little crazy because some bitch named Mitzi's written her phone number on his wrist.
That growl, the one started up by the back of Fraser's neck, growls right outta my insides and out into the outsides, Dief and Fraser staring at me like I'm insane, and I am, I am absolutely nuts, out of my head, off my tree. I land next to Fraser, sling my leg over his, grab the back of his neck, and kiss him. Once. Hard. Like ripping off a bandaid to see if it hurts.
I pull back to stare at him, nose to nose, kneeling over his lap, ready to bluff my way out, take a punch to the jaw, ready for pretty much anything but what I get. Fraser blinks, slides a hand up my back, and kisses me. And it's not slow and careful, it's not shy or polite, no after you or thank you kindly, it's yanking on my hair and mashing our mouths together, it's something he wants bad enough to take and that makes me all wound up inside, totally wild for it, like being young and stupid and driving fast with the windows down and the headlights off, no thought of what's around the next curve.
This time when I pull back to stare at him, I'm panting. "You tricked me."
"How so?" He looks completely baffled, which is how I know he's faking.
"You used your Mountie mind tricks on me."
"I'm afraid you'll have to be more specific."
I stare at him some more, push at his lips with my finger. "I kissed you, Fraser. I wasn't supposed to do that. I've gotten really good at not doing that."
"Oh, well," he says, and because I'm sitting in his lap, I can actually feel him mentally tapping his notes on the podium, straightening up and switching into lecture mode. He is a bigger freak than I ever suspected.
"If you'll allow me, I can attempt to address that. Your need to connect with me was driven by instinct, one Diefenbaker could probably explain better than I, but, simply put, you sensed a threat to your place in the pack, as it were, and--"
A great big freak.
"I was jealous," I interrupt.
Under the table, Dief makes a noise that sounds suspiciously like a snort.
Fraser tilts his head in thought. "That's rather coarse, though I suppose you could characterize it in those terms. However, it doesn't account for the..."
I got no idea if he's talking to me or the wolf. All I know is he's talking too much, so I get up real close, nose to nose again. "Hey. I kissed you. You liked it. I liked it. What else do we need? Let's do it some more."
He opens his mouth at that, like he's gonna argue, but I'm no dummy. I shove my tongue in there and kiss him. We mess around for a while, and I bite his neck like I wanted and get his shirt off except--
"You smell fruity," I tell him. "Like umbrella cocktail fruity."
Fraser sniffs himself, and, okay, that should not be hot. "If I'm not mistaken, that's Mary Kay's new spring fragrance. Though it is possible those mangoes were riper than I thought."
"Let's get you that shower," I say, ignoring the part about the mangoes. "And scrub that phone number off while you're in there. Because if I have to keep looking at it I'm gonna call up Mitzi with a kick to the head."
"Ah," he says, "perhaps you'd like to assist then."
"Assist?" For a moment it doesn't register because he sounds as stuffy as ever, but I adjust for Fraser being Canadian and a giant freak and it turns out he's asking if I want to get all wet and slippery with him. Shoulda known. He's got this special talent for sucking all the fun out of stuff. "Here's a hint, Fraser. Where I come from, we say, 'Wanna take a shower with me?' Like that. Easy. You try."
He gets this look, like this is a test, like it means something. "Would you like to take a shower with me, Ray?"
I thought I'd seen everything, but boy does that turn my crank, him being all serious and Mountie polite about getting naked together. I crawl up his chest and kiss him. "Yeah, yeah, love to, sign me up."
And that's how the lipstick mafia got me and Fraser in the shower.