When Fraser gets sick, Ray doesn’t notice at first. Not because he doesn’t care, or anything — more like, well, it’s Fraser. And Fraser and sick — these are not two words that overlap in Ray’s brain. Fraser’s like Superman, he doesn’t get sick. Sure, he coughs, and Ray’s even heard him sneeze once in a while, but sick? Nope, never.
But then Fraser’s late getting to the precinct one Wednesday afternoon, and late is another one of those words that doesn’t mix with Fraser, but Ray doesn’t say anything to Welsh; first time for everything, right? All afternoon, Fraser talks a bit less than usual, and sniffs a bit more than usual — Ray wonders if maybe he forgot to put deodorant on, but not even a Mountie would notice that through three layers of clothes, would he?
“Fraser, what’s going on with you?” Ray finally asks the next day when it happens again (and when Ray knows for a fact he put deodorant on).
“Noth—” He clears his throat, and Ray winces; the sound’s a little like crunching glass. “Nothing, Ray,” he rasps.
“Shit, you’re sick,” Ray says, dropping the case file he’d only half been reading.
“I’m fine, Ray,” Fraser protests, but Ray might have believed that if he didn’t have to strain his ears to hear him.
“Come on, I’ll drive you home,” Ray decides. He gets to his feet and grabs his jacket, but Fraser stops him with a hand on his wrist. He says something, but his voice is like a whisper and, given the noise level in the bullpen at any given moment, Ray gives up on making out the words and just tugs Fraser up with him.
“I can walk,” he hears Fraser say when they reach the hall, or maybe he says “work.” Either way, Ray shakes his head.
“Just go home, Fraser,” he tells him. “Watch soaps under a big blanket, have a bowl of soup, maybe some junk food.”
Dief barks at that and races ahead of them to the exit, where he sits with his tail wagging. Ray glances over in time to see Fraser roll his eyes.
“See?” says Ray, gesturing at the least deaf deaf half-wolf in existence. “Dief gets it, don’t you, boy?”
“You’ll only encourage him,” Fraser replies. His voice cracks, but he goes on. “Really, Ray, I— I’d rather stay here and work.”
“Work,” Ray repeats with a dry look. “Is that what you call hanging out here and infecting us with the plague?”
“The plague? Now, really—” Fraser begins, but he coughs and falters before the lecture can really begin.
“Come on,” Ray says again, and he leads the Mountie out to the GTO. Dief hops in the back like always, and Fraser climbs in like always, but he sighs, real heavy, once he gets the door shut behind him. Ray starts the engine, thinking that maybe another spiel is coming and he’d rather not hear it.
But Fraser doesn’t say anything. In fact, Ray glances over at one point and he’s pretty sure Fraser’s asleep, or zoned out if nothing else. His eyes are half-closed, and he’s breathing through his mouth. As they get closer to the Consulate, Ray thinks about waking him up, but he’s distracted by the wall of vehicles, the crowds of people outside the building. It takes him ten minutes of circling to find a place to park, and then some ass pulls up out of nowhere to steal it, right under Ray’s nose.
“Jackass,” Ray calls, flipping the guy off.
There’s a huff of laughter to his right. “There’s a conference,” Fraser explains, his voice now almost completely a whisper. “The Consulate will be very full the next three days.”
Ray blinks, makes a decision, and pulls back into the flow of traffic. “Then I’m taking you to my place.”
“Ray,” says Fraser, but it’s more of an exhalation than a word. Husky and weirdly distracting. Ray shakes it off.
“You can’t get any rest at the Consulate if there’s people all over,” he explains. “Especially assholes who steal parking spots.”
“You steal parking spots sometimes,” Fraser points out.
“Never mind,” Ray growls.
Fraser chuckles again, and Dief makes a chuffing noise as well — like father like son, Ray thinks — but neither of them argue with him the whole rest of the way back to Ray’s apartment, so that works.
He gets Fraser up the stairs, sits him on the couch, and is in the process of heaving those heavy Mountie boots up onto the coffee table when Fraser looks up at him and honest-to-God giggles.
“What?” asks Ray, and he realizes that he’s holding on to Fraser’s legs, which is maybe a little weird. He didn’t question it a minute ago — he’s never been shy about physical contact, and they practically live out of each other’s pockets most days. But maybe it is weird, and maybe Fraser’s just never called him on it. “What’s so funny?”
“Ticklish,” says Fraser, his fragile voice breaking on another half-laugh as Ray puts his feet down.
“Oh,” Ray says. He feels his face heat up, but he shrugs, playing it cool as he files that piece of information away in the List Of Things About Fraser That Probably Won’t But Maybe Someday Will Come In Handy.
Fraser doesn’t say anything back, he just keeps looking up at Ray with a small smile, like there’s something worth seeing there, something that makes him happy. Ray wonders how much cold medicine Fraser took this morning.
“I gotta get back to the station or Welsh will have my hide,” he says, handing Fraser the remote. “I’ll be back around 6 with soup, okay? What kind do you want?”
“Want— what?” Fraser answers. His eyes, now that Ray’s really looking at him, are bleary. Very un-Fraser-like.
Maybe he shouldn’t be left unattended, Ray thinks, and he sinks down onto the couch beside him. “You sure you’re all right?” he asks Fraser seriously, and he catches himself reaching out with his right hand, about to touch— but that’s weird, he shouldn’t— that’s not buddies, not—
—but Fraser leans into Ray’s hand, presses his sweaty face into it, like he knows that’s what Ray was going for, God, like Ray was his mother — ugh, no, not helpful, brain, Ray almost says out loud — and Fraser’s got his eyes closed and he’s breathing deep, still pressing against Ray’s hand like a needy cat.
“Headache,” he murmurs. His voice is husky and distracting again, and the half-groan that follows....
Ray makes another decision. Raises his other hand to the back of Fraser’s neck, rubs his fingers into the tight muscle there. Fraser makes that little breathy sound again, and Ray finds his mouth is very dry.
But he can’t move. He’s never been shy about physical contact, but he’s never been this close to Fraser, either, and he’s scared that if he moves, Fraser’ll snap out of it, become all upright and Fraser-y again. He’ll get up, put on his hat, and insist on walking back to the Consulate or something, and that would be bad, because Ray wants him, he wants him wants him — wants him here, wants him like this, wants him quiet and sweaty and needy, and—
—and pressing his damp lips against Ray’s.
There’s no water between them this time, no sinking ships, no excess lung capacity. In fact, Fraser’s the one having trouble breathing as he pulls back, as he drops his eyes and starts to straighten up, to re-Fraser-ize himself, so Ray dives in and closes the gap between them, lets him know that it’s okay, that they can be this close, that they can kiss and — oh, okay, Ray thinks, as Fraser falls back and pulls Ray with him, still kissing him like there’s nothing else he’d rather be doing. The thought does wonders for Ray’s ego, while Fraser’s tongue is doing wonders for the wanting that’s been building in Ray for over a year now — everything in him is becoming hot and sharp and now.
Ray shifts and hears something fall off the sofa, the remote probably, but it’s not important because he’s even closer to Fraser now, and good God, Fraser’s hard, he’s so hard in those stupid Mountie pants that slip and slide between them as Fraser somehow works his hand between them. The not-enough touch is driving him crazy, Ray’s sure the friction’s gonna kill him. There are too many clothes and not enough room on this couch, but a second later Fraser gets his pants open, and wriggles until he gets the Mountie pants open, too.
Suddenly there’s hot skin next to Ray’s, and Fraser’s hand still in-between. Ray hears himself sigh and make a little sound that Fraser echoes, and from a long ways off he realizes that Fraser’s a guy like any other; he just wears it on the inside more than most. The outside is so stiff and shiny that most people don’t see it, don’t know to look for the man underneath. But Ray looks, and, fuck it’s so hot the way Fraser’s all flushed, his hair curling slightly against his forehead. Ray has to close his eyes again. He curls his toes tight in his boots, riding the high, trying not to come. Just a little bit longer, but—
“Ray,” Fraser gasps into his neck, and Ray looks again, he can’t help it when there’s a jolt of hot liquid between them, and Fraser’s blissed-out expression makes it. Ray’s gone, he’s done, he’s spilling into Fraser’s hand, his hips shifting against the damp fabric of Fraser’s destroyed uniform.
He sighs and drops his head on Fraser’s shoulder. The metal buttons are cool and fresh compared to the way the red wool clings to Ray’s sweat. He breathes in the smell of sex — he’s always loved that smell — and thinks for a moment that he could sleep, right here against this warm Mountie pillow. He drifts, listening to Fraser inhale and exhale. So quiet and normal, aside from being crammed on the sofa at 3 in the afternoon.
“Ray,” Fraser says, a minute or an hour later, Ray isn’t sure. Below him, Fraser shifts, and all at once Ray’s awake, alarm bells dinging in his head. Fraser’s gonna want to talk about this, Ray’s positive of that, and he’s almost as positive that Fraser’s gonna tell him it was a mistake, a moment of weakness that can’t ever happen again.
Ray can’t just lie here for that, he lifts himself like he’s doing a push-up, and tries to back away, at least do his pants up before it all goes to shit. But his legs have gotten tangled up in Fraser’s somehow, so he doesn’t get far. Fraser repositions himself, and Ray realizes that Fraser’s actually trapped him with one leg, and he pulls Ray back down, tilts his head up like he wants another kiss.
“Whoa,” Ray says, dodging. “We shouldn’t,” he begins, but he can’t seem to find the rest of his words.
“You’re right,” Fraser replies in that hushed voice of his. It relieves Ray, even as it hurts, to find that they agree on this.
But then Fraser smiles crookedly and adds, “I don’t want to give you the plague, if I haven’t already.”
“The— the plague?” Ray sputters. “No, Fraser, I— let me up,” he says finally, and with an almighty wrench he makes it off the sofa. He glances down in the process and winces; he’ll have to change before he goes back to work, and a shower probably wouldn’t hurt, either. For now, though, he buttons up his damp pants and tries to figure out what in the hell just happened.
“Sorry,” he says, for starters. “I’ll pay for that.”
Fraser’s looking up at him, more confused than Dief gets when someone says diet. “Pay for what?” he rasps.
“The, uh— the,” Ray gestures with a rolling wrist at the mess they just made of his fancy Mountie clothes. “You know.”
“It’s fine,” Fraser says, and then he frowns. “It is fine, isn’t it? That I— and you, that we—”
Had sex, Ray thinks, but he can’t say it, and from the look Fraser’s giving him he doesn’t have to.
“I’m sorry if I got carried away,” Fraser goes on. He swallows— it looks painful. “I’ve been wanting to kiss you again for some time now, and you were...”
“I was what?” Ray asks, deciding to blow past the again that made his stomach flip over with hope.
“You were taking take care of me,” Fraser finishes in a whisper, and Ray’s seen him turn red tons of times, but he’s never seen Fraser this bashful before.
“You love me,” Ray hears himself say. It wasn’t what he meant to say, and if he did mean to say it, he should have phrased it better, but the words are out now, and there’s nothing he can do but wait for what feels like an eternity until Fraser nods, giving him that little smile again.
“Very much so, yes,” he says, and then he falters, coughs. “Is that— I mean, do you—”
Ray’s back on the couch before he can finish that thought, kissing him until Fraser’s laughing into his mouth, and Ray pulls back to let him breathe.
“Sorry,” he says again, but Fraser shakes his head. “Let me get you some water,” Ray insists, hopping up. “And then I’m gonna call Welsh, tell him I’m taking the day.”
“Why?” Fraser asks when Ray returns. “Thank you,” he adds, sipping the water.
“Well, I’m sick,” Ray explains, settling beside Fraser and picking up the remote. When Fraser shoots him a confused look, Ray grins. “Caught it from you.”