Fraser’s never thought of home as the place where you live.
He’s taken shelter in lean-tos, and cabins, and rooms. He’s had dwellings, and lodgings and four (well, yes, usually four) walls. He’s had enough, and maybe too much; the suffocation of looking around and seeing his mother everywhere. The loneliness of being sent away by his father. The incarceration of staying with his grandparents.
For Fraser, home’s not usually the place where you are.
It’s the place where you want to be.
The place you belong.
Ray Vecchio was always loud in his objections.
He hated climbing the stairs to Fraser’s apartment. He hated the dodgy pipes, and the fact he couldn’t sit in any one place too long before some part of his body - his knees, his spine, his backside - would hurt in protest. He hated being too cold, or too hot, or the smells of the street wafting up through the window.
“Come have dinner at my place,” he’d say, or,
“Don’t you want to live somewhere safer?” he’d argue, or,
“You have a neighbour who’s furnishing his place with all your stuff, Benny!”
and Fraser heard it for what it was, concern, and Fraser had never had a better friend.
(Victoria only said, “It’s more than we had, last time,” which said a lot about them, about Fraser when he was with her, about searching for a place that probably never existed.)
Janet understood about as much as anyone with three kids and no money could.
“You don’t need much,” she’d told Fraser, and it had felt warm, and it had felt right, until she walked away from him with an ex-husband who had traction. History. Space.
You don’t need much, she meant, as in, a single man with no obligations, he doesn’t need much. But Janet did. She needed more.
It just wasn’t for herself.
(Francesca thought his apartment was just a stepping stone, tried to tell Fraser “- fine until you get set up in a proper house, you know, with big rooms and one of those big wardrobes I can walk into, I mean - ” except she wasn’t wearing clothes and Fraser couldn’t focus, save stare at a spot on the wall and wait for her to put her coat back on.)
Lieutenant Welsh was a man of purpose.
“You spend all day here?” he’d asked, because he couldn’t see a place to eat, or sleep, or clean. He couldn’t see the motive or the means. Welsh would often ask questions that felt like interrogations, Why are you here, Fraser, Where is Vecchio, Fraser, What do you do in your spare time, Fraser? Fraser’s answers never seemed to appease him, but he accepted them. He respected them.
And as nothing more than a simple man, in a small room, in a big city - as nothing close to the myth of being Robert Fraser’s son - that was a kindness Welsh didn’t have to afford.
But he did.
(Inspector Thatcher was a woman of logic. It made sense for Fraser to be there, it made sense to keep Fraser close at the Consulate. It was just all the other walls they could never get through. The distance was too much, in the end.)
Ray Kowalski never seemed to worry.
He would come by the Consulate more times than Fraser could count. He’d bring a case, or take out, or a novelty item that he’d picked up from the store that he wanted Fraser to see. He’d go on apartment hunts with Fraser but get distracted by food, or chess, or a pretty woman asking Ray for a light.
It didn’t matter, and didn’t matter, until they were standing in ten feet of snow somewhere around Keller Lake and Ray yelled,
“You live in a shoebox, Fraser!” as if they hadn’t just been arguing about setting up camp. “Well, you did live there, and now you’re, well I don’t know what you are - the point is, I’m not stupid, you know?”
“I don’t remember saying you were.”
“If this is what you want for the rest of your life, then fine. I always knew you weren’t gonna stay in Chicago.”
“It was never home to you, it was never this,” Ray stretches his arms wide, motioning to the landscape, “And so here we are. Here I am.”
Fraser feels the familiar dread churn in his stomach. They’d been out here for a long time now, the days were adding up. He’d lay awake wondering when Ray would throw in the towel. “Do you wish to leave?”
“No!” Ray yells, and it’s loud enough for Dief to huff and trot away. “No. I don’t want to go anywhere if it’s not with you. I don’t wanna go back to my apartment, or back to the station, or back to that bakery on West that makes that disgusting danish thing you like, because you’re not there, Fraser. Don’t you get that?”
“I - yes, Ray.” Fraser breathes - snow and air and the nearness of Ray - willing himself to tread closer. “I think I do.”
“All this time I thought we’d get lost out here, and Christ,” Ray says quietly, and finally, he’s smiling, and looking up, and his cheeks are red from the cold. “I’ve never been more sure of where I want to be.”
“Me too, Ray.”
(Diefenbaker found home wherever they went. It was usually in the curve of a doughnut, or the scratch of a friendly hand, or the warmth of a soft pillow.
He was always giving his heart so easily.)