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mornings most of all

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Ray woke up to the sound of Frannie shouting. Judging by the volume and proximity, Tony had locked himself in the upstairs bathroom for too long. Again.

He groaned and turned his face into the pillow, hiding for a moment, before shoving himself upright. There was no chance he'd fall back asleep, especially since Maria was guaranteed to join in any mo- yep, there she went. He idly wondered which side she'd taken this time. Ray scrubbed his hands through his hair and glanced at the clock. If not for the family circus going on in the hallway, he could have slept another two hours before going on shift. Which would have been nice, since he needed to bring his A game today. A rumor had gone around the station that vice would be going after mobbed up guys in the garment district today. Stupid little nuisance charges, the kind that only stuck if they found something worse in the process - and Ray was going to be the one to get that extra something today.

Tony must have relented, because the shouting stopped, and the door slammed as Frannie seized control of the bathroom. Ray sighed. Clearly, he wouldn't be getting into the bathroom anytime soon, so he might as well go start the coffee, if Ma hadn't yet.

***

Ray woke up in the driver's seat of his car to Dief's tongue swiping across his ear - which didn't really obscure Benny talking to himself in low tones in the passenger side - and wondered how stake-outs with a clearly deranged Canadian Mountie complete with canine companion was his life now.

***

Ray woke up curled in a waiting room chair, huddled under his jacket. He attempted to stretch out, winced at the cricks and creaks of joints that had been fixed too long into awkward positions. The nurses had kicked him out again.

He'd have fought it harder, if Benny had fought it at all.

He grimaced, then looked at his watch. Morning rounds would wake Benny shortly - if he wanted to be there (which he did, unless Benny actually said otherwise), he needed to get moving.

***

Ray woke up to a throbbing shoulder. The pain, simultaneously present and distant, told him he was on the strong painkillers. After a moment, he remembered why. It'd been a 'simple' gunshot - and that meant he'd be released shortly. He opened his eyes and saw -

Benny in his wheelchair by the window, watching the people outside.

Ray smiled and drifted back to sleep.

***

Ray woke up, his nose pressed against a warm, broad shoulder. Sweat and wool, with a hint of Chicago streets and dog-with-wolfish-aspirations. He smiled, and drew his hand up Benny's stomach to his chest and pulled him even closer. Because he was allowed - encouraged- to touch now, so he was going to take advantage.

Benny shifted, mumbled in a sleep-muddled voice, "Ray?"

His arm tightened involuntarily. Benny knew who he was with; he wanted the person he was with. "Hey," he murmured, his own voice morning-rough. His hand slid up across frankly ridiculous muscles, coming to rest over his heart. Benny hummed happily. "Can't believe I didn't see this coming. The signs were right there."

"Perhaps I should have eaten more cheesecake in front of you." Ray pinched him for that, and he squirmed in interesting ways - notably not away. "I still don't understand how you can discount psychic abilities when you believe in signs."

"Completely different," Ray replied, then set his teeth experimentally against the curve of Benny's shoulder.

"I don't see how-- ah!" Benny gasped, his back arched, pressing into both the bite and Ray's groin. Ray smiled against his skin. He figured this trick wouldn't work long - Benny was nothing if not stubborn about seeing conversational topics through - but he planned to get as much use out of it as he could.

***

Ray woke up, reaching across cool, smooth sheets for -

Nothing. Just the best sheets, soft pillows, and perfect mattress. He hated this fucking bed.

This bed always reminded him where he was and who he was supposed to be. In just a minute, Nero would cautiously enter the room, morning coffee and the paper in hand. And Ray would have to be Armando. For just a moment, though, he let himself miss Benny's godforsaken field cot and the ancient, sagging twin he slept on at home, and he regretted letting the feds talk him into taking this job, especially on such short notice.

Then he shut that line of thought down. If Ray hadn't taken it, he wouldn't have been the guy Benny clearly thought he could be. And maybe Benny would never have known that (though, given his relationship to the local FBI office, maybe he would have found out), but Ray always would. It hadn't been much of a choice, but he'd made one. It was the right one, and he stood by it.

Even if it meant leaving without an explanation or even a proper good-bye. Even if it meant waking up alone in a stranger's luxurious yet sterile bedroom, hoping Benny might be waiting to take him back if he ever got out.

***

Ray woke up on a couch in Florida and wondered what the hell he thought he was doing.

***

Ray woke up in darkness, his feet crushed under Dief's weight. Since that meant his feet were also warm despite the overnight chill in the autumn air, he couldn't complain. Well, he didn't complain which was nearly the same thing. Benny was curled on his side beside him, an arm slung over Ray's waist. Really, Ray had no complaints. He'd been so certain he'd never have this again, and he's never been so glad to be wrong. Benny's breath washed against his shoulder, and he counted the breaths until he fell back asleep.

***

Ray woke up when the blankets lifted, letting out some of the heat. Benny's skin was chill to the touch, but Ray shifted closer anyway. "Missed you," he said. Tried to say, maybe mumbled.

"And I, you."

He managed to crack an eye open to favor him with an incredulous look. That was... stiff. It must have been a bad patrol. Benny's eyes were already closed, and he looked ready to do that whole stiff-as-a-board, Dracula sleep thing. Ray felt exhausted just looking at him. He levered himself up and over, keeping the blankets over them as best he could. The cabin got cold at night, banked fire be damned.

Ray wrapped his hand around one of Benny's wrists and slowly, deliberately moved it up and away from his body, pinning it to the pillow beside his head. Benny's eyes opened, dark and nearly unreadable, and he watched as Ray did the same with his other wrist. Ray pressed his weight down on Benny and kissed him, hard and thorough. Then he paused and repeated, "I missed you."

Benny blinked up at him, softer somehow. "Me, too."

Ray smiled and leaned back in.

***

Ray woke up to Benny's lips pressed to his temple. He stretched his hand out across the bed before realizing the angle was wrong. Benny was up and - he opened his eyes - dressed. "Patrol?"

He shook his head. "Training."

"Right," Ray said. He'd known that. Baby Mounties. Cold weather rescue training with an emphasis on safety during the spring break-up. He started to push back the quilts, but Benny caught them and pulled them back up.

"I'm on my way out. Sleep in. Wallow."

Ray groaned and buried his face in the pillow. "That is a Kowalski word. You've been talking to Kowalski again."

"You're the one who wanted the phone." He could hear the smile in his voice.

Ray humphed, the sound muffled by down and cotton. "Go away; I'm wallowing."

Benny laughed and straightened up. Ray's hand darted out and snagged the cuff of his jacket. "Come back safe."

He leaned back down and kissed him again. "I always do."

***

Ray woke up, Benny lightly snoring by his side as he only did when exhausted. He kissed his cheek, and Benny didn't even twitch. Must have been a late end to the pursuit. He slipped out of bed and went to feed the dogs, the summer morning already bright with sunlight.

***

Ray woke up, happy.