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It's Not Unusual To Be Loved By Anyone

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For reasons that don't need exploring at this juncture, Ray was battered and bruised.

Benton was walking out of a hospital. He was holding Ray up as they walked. Ray's steps were slow and clumsy while Fraser's were solid and carefully measured. Apparently the medicine for Ray's pain made him slow. Ray was always fast and passionate but that was neither here nor there.

Ray's arm was in a sling and a dark bruise had already blossomed around his eye. Benton wanted to tend to Ray, covering his wounds with oil of goat would be a good start, but it had been hard enough to get Ray to go to the hospital.

'Would you prefer if I drove your car to the entrance while you wait here?' Benton asked. He didn't want Ray to overexert himself.

'Nah. I'll walk.'

They walked through the parking lot, chrome glistened and heat rose off the pavement.

They walked up to Ray's car, a black metal beast and Ray pulled his keys out. 'Here. Here. I don't think I should drive.'

Ray reached into to his pocket and handed the keys to Benton.

'That's very considerate of you.'

'Considerate nothing. I don't wanna wreck it.'

Benton unlocked the doors and Ray slowly got in. Benton slid behind the wheel, the smell of heated leather filled his nose. He had only driven the GTO once and he felt his stomach flip as he gripped the steering wheel. The GTO was very important to Ray and his father, it was akin to Bob Fraser's journals. Something that was more important than it seemed.

The interior was dark leather and a dark dashboard. It should have made Benton think of Victoria and her darkness, but instead all he thought of was Ray sitting next to him and Ray was golden.

He slowly pulled out of the parking space and made his way through the city to Ray's apartment. Cars rushed by and Benton's hands sweated; he didn't think he would ever get used to how fast everything moved in the city.

Ray was certainly a child of the city, his movements were always fast and unexpected. Benton glanced at Ray, he was curled up in his seat and was quiet.

'Are you all right?' Benton asked.

'Yeah. Pain killers make me sleepy and loopy.'

'Ah, I see.'

Benton pulled up next to Ray's apartment and stepped out of the car. He opened the passenger side door. Ray was asleep where he sat.

Benton reached over and gently shook Ray's shoulder.

'It's time to awaken. We're at your apartment.'

Ray opened his eye, his other had swollen shut and looked at Benton.

'Okay. Okay. You wanna help me?'

'Of course.'

Benton helped Ray out of his seat and the walked to Ray's apartment. They stood so close that Benton could smell Ray scent; a combination cologne and sweat. It was intoxicating, but Benton pushed that out of his mind.

Once they arrived at Ray apartment, Ray pulled a key out of his pocket and it took him several attempts to put it in the lock.

They walked into the apartment and Ray made his way to the couch. The apartment was a mess. Stacks of paper were falling off Ray's coffee table and crumpled clothes lay of the floor.

'Do you need anything?' Benton asked as he stood by the couch.

Ray held out his hand. 'Could you help me to my bed?'

Fraser took Ray's hand and lift him up. Ray stood close and his lips brushed against Benton's cheek. Benton gasped, but was still able to help Ray to his bedroom.

Once Ray was laying in on top of his light blue blankets, Benton walked out of the room and shut the door. Once he was alone he touched the spot on his cheek where Ray's lips had been.

He walked out of Ray's apartment and made his way through the city. He longed for cold, crisp air to breathed in and clear his head; Instead he breathed in warm air that smell of gasoline and concrete.

Once back at The Consulate, Dief met him at the door and whimpered.

'Of course everything is fine. Ray was hurt, but I'm sure he is well on his way to healing.'

Dief barked.

'Of course I'm fine.'

Dief rolled his eyes and grumbled.

Benton went to the kitchen in The Consulate and decided on a cup of tea. If he was the kind of man who drank he would have drank something strong, a cup of peppermint tea seemed strong enough.

The kitchen was small. The counter was made of honey colored wood and held a copper coffee pot and a variety of white porcelain tea cups. An old stove sat against one wall and a round wooden table sat in the middle of the room.

Benton pulled his tea pot down from a cupboard. Filling it with water and sat it on the stove. Turning on a burner he thought that it may not be a complex as a Japanese tea ceremony but it was soothing. Sitting down as he waited for his tea pot to heat up he thought about what had happened.

Ray had kissed him. It had been unexpected. He had never been kissed by a man before, not even Mark, but he wouldn't mind if Ray kissed him again.

Turnbull walked into the room. He was holding a large bouquet of yellow flowers. Narcissus if he wasn't mistaken. Benton caught a whiff of a sweet scent. He pushed his thoughts aside.

'Those are very lovely flowers. Are they for you?' Benton asked.

'Oh, no. They are for Frannie. I was going to give her a twenty pound wheel of cheese, but Dief suggested flowers.'

'Ah, I see. This may be forward of me, but you seem to enjoy spending time with Frannie.'

Turnbull broke into a big grin. 'I do. She is wonderful. She always reminds of the color yellow.'

Benton knew how he felt, he felt the same way about Ray. Although he had to admit when he thought of Ray he thought of golden hair not yellow.

The tea pot whistled.

'Would you like a cup of tea?' Benton asked.

'That would be wonderful.'

That night, as Benton lay on the floor of his bedroom he thought about Ray.

He knew he had feelings for Ray Kowalski that went deeper than partnership, the kiss had awakened them. He had known the real Ray Vecchio for years and while they had done many things, Ray had never kissed him.

He rolled over and wished Ray Vecchio was there. Ray would know what to do. When it came to matters of the heart Ray was something of an expert.

The next day, Benton walked into Ray's apartment building. The air inside the building smelled of dust and while it used to make him sneeze, now it was comforting. He needed comfort, today would be a day of changes. Above him a bare lightbulb flickered.

He stood in front of Ray's door and lifted his fist to knock, but he couldn't bring himself to rap on the door.

Living in Canada had taught him that if you didn't act you could easily die, but now he couldn't move.

Something was going to happen to tonight besides watching a baseball game.

He knew that once that door opened he would have to do something. He had once said he had loved Ray and Ray said he loved Benton symbolistically, but like a flower that pushed its way through snow hope sprang eternal.

He was nothing if not an optimist.

As he stood in front of Ray's door he had pictured how the declaration of his feeling would play out; some were bad and some were good, but he knew he would make the declaration regardless.

Not knowing for certain killed him in a thousand different ways.

Dief stood next to Benton and barked. He was of the opinion that they should mate.

Benton looked down at Dief. 'There will be no mating.'

Benton was wearing a flannel shirt and jeans. He wished he was wearing his uniform, there was a certain amount of comfort he took from the well worn fabric.

He strengthened his resolve and knocked on Ray's door. Ray opened the door and grinned.

'Hey, great timing! The game's about to start.'

Benton walked into Ray's apartment and sat on the couch. He wiped his sweating hands on his jeans. He knew he had to talk to Ray, but for once words would not come. It was ridiculous, he could talk a miscreant into surrendering, but he couldn't talk to the person he trusted the most.

Ray sat down and drank his beer.

'Listen, Fraser. I got something to ask you. Did I really kiss you the other day?'

Benton turned to look at Ray. Ray was looking back at him, there was worry in his eyes.

'You did.'

'Oh, crap. Sorry about that, it was a joke.'

Benton's mouth went dry and he felt a tightness in his chest. Of course Ray didn't return his feelings. At least he now knew for certain.

'Of course.'

'We cool.'

Benton suddenly didn't feel in the mode to watch a baseball game. 'Of course. I'm suddenly feel ill, perhaps I will take my leave.'

'Really?! Want me to drive you to The Consulate?'

'That's quite all right. The walk will do me good.'

Benton stood up and made his way to the door. Dief followed close behind. They walked through the city and for once Dief didn't complain about the physical exertion. Other than that the walk happened in a blur.

Once back at The Consulate, Benton went to the office that served as his bedroom and laid on his cot. The bedding smelled of orange scented soap. Boxes piled up to the ceiling stood like cardboard statues.

He stared up at the ceiling, the plaster was cracked and thought about his relationship with Ray. He should be content with Ray's friendship, but that one kiss had awakened something that tore at Benton like a badger.

He decided to take a page from Ray's book and put his feelings in a box marked done. He had had a lifetime of practice.

Dief jumped on the bed and rested his head on Benton's stomach. Benton smoothed Dief's soft fur, at least he could always count on Dief for comfort.

Dief whimpered.

'I know you think Ray should be my mate, but Ray just wants to be my friend.'

'No need to be melancholy, son,' Bob Fraser said. He stood at the foot of Benton's cot.

'I don't see how my feelings are any concern of yours.

'Of course they are. You could have at least had affections for someone who likes curling.'

Benton closed his eyes hoping his father would understand that he wanted to be alone. When he opened his eyes Bob was still standing by the bed.

'I hardly see what sports has to do with my affections.'

'It's all about common interests. Why your mother and I both enjoyed reading romance novels.'

'Really?'

'Oh yes. Her favorite was Flames of Passion.'

'Ray and I have many common interests.'

'Really? What could you and the yank have in common.'

'We both enjoy baseball and Ray has a strong sense of justice.'

'Of course in fact...'

The rest of what Bob was going was lost as the door opened and Ray stuck his head into the room. Dief jumped off the cot to greet Ray.

'Hey, Fraser.'

'Hello, Ray. What brings you here?'

Ray walked over to Benton's cot and sat down. 'Since you were sick I brought you some some soup.'

'That's very thoughtful,' Benton said as he sat up.

Ray handed him a thermos and as Benton opened it he caught a whiff of vegetables and chicken. He took a sip and let the warm liquid slide down his throat.

'You like it?'

'Oh, yes. It's wonderful.'

Ray arm was still in a sling, but with his free hand he grabbed Benton's shoulder and gave it a squeeze. It was something Ray had done countless times before, but now it was painful. It hurt having Ray so close knowing that he would never return Benton's affections.

Benton gripped the thermos. 'Please don't.'

'Don't what?'

'Don't touch me.'

Ray'a eyes went wide. 'Is this about that kiss. I said it was a joke, it didn't mean anything.'

'Of course. That is the problem. You will never return my affections.'

'What? You mean you wanted me to kiss you?'

'Yes, but that's neither here nor there.'

'The hell it is. Why didn't you tell in the first place.'

Benton sighed. 'It doesn't matter you have made it clear that you don't return my feelings.'

Ray ran his fingers through his hair. 'Okay. Okay. What if I did return your feelings?'

'As much as I enjoy intellectual games, I don't think this is the time.'

'I... I just wanted to tell you that I do have feelings for you.'

Now it was Benton's turn for his eyes to go wide. 'Really?'

'Really.'

'Why did you say the kiss was a joke.'

Ray shrugged. 'I don't know I guess I was afraid it would mess up our partnership. Stella loved me back and I didn't think I could be lucky enough for you to love me too.'

Benton sat his thermos on the floor. He looked at Ray. Ray looked so despondent and he couldn't meet Benton's eyes. Benton wanted to reassure Ray, but words failed him.

He took a page from Ray's book and grabbed Ray's shoulder. Ray should never feel that he wasn't loved. Benton didn't think he could ever put into words how he felt about Ray and he decided to act instead. Benton leaned forward and brushed his lips against Ray's cheek. Benton could smell Ray's scent and feel Ray stubble against his cheek.

Ray closed his eyes and a small smile played across his lips.

Ray turned his head and their lips met. Benton had never kissed a man before, but it didn't seem all that different from kissing a woman.

Benton brought his hands up and ran his fingers through Ray's hair. Ray kneaded Benton's shoulder.

Benton wanted to feel Ray's hand on his bare skin, but there would be time for that.

Ray's tongue brushed against Benton lip and he opened his mouth to Ray's tongue. When their tongues brushed against each other Benton felt his cock twitch in his pants.

After several minutes, not nearly long enough in Benton's opinion, Ray broke the kiss. He rested his head on Benton's shoulder.

'Wow! That was... That was...'

'Indeed,' Benton said. Perhaps in was a side effect of their partnership, but Benton knew exactly what Ray was trying to say. He felt the same.

'You wanna... You wanna go to my apartment? We can do stuff if you want.'

Benton grinned. 'There is nothing I'd like more.'

As Benton and Ray walked out of Benton's bedroom he grabbed Ray's hand and intertwined their fingers. Pink spread across Ray's cheeks.

Benton walked out of The Consulate and climbed into the passenger seat of the GTO. Ray slid behind the wheel and started the engine.

As Ray drove Benton looked out the window and watched the city pass by. He had spent his life surrounded by brown dirt and green trees, but now he was surrounded by gray concrete and red brick.

He had often thought that having to stay in the city had been a punishment, but not it didn't seem like that. If he had never been in the city he never would have met Ray.

Once they were at Ray's apartment building they walked close. Ray threw his arm around Benton's shoulder.

Ray only stopped touching Benton long enough to open the apartment door. The walked into the apartment and made their way to Ray's bedroom. Once in the room, Benton started to sweat nervously. His experience with pleasing a man was nonexistent and he wanted to please Ray.

'You okay?' Ray asked as he went over to his bed and sat down.

'Yes. My nerves are just getting the better of me.'

'Oh? Why? You don't wanna have sex with me.'

'I do, very much so. I just don't want to disappoint you.'

Ray held out his hand. 'Come here.'

Benton sat next to Ray. He feared that Ray was rethinking being intimate.

Ray brushed his fingers against Benton's cheek. 'It okay. You could never disappoint me. We don't have to do anything.'

'Oh,' Benton said trying to keep the disappointment out of his voice. Maybe Ray was rethinking things.

'Hey, don't be like that. I was thinking we could sleep together in my bed and tomorrow I'll take you to the book store and we'll buy every book about gay sex they have.'

'Really?!'

'Yep. I know how much you like to read. We can try the stuff in those books,' Ray said with a wink.

'I'd like that very much.'

'I'll bet,' Ray said as he yawned.

Benton noticed how tired Ray looked. 'Let's sleep.'

Ray took off the sling around his arm and struggled to pull his t-shirt over his head. Benton reached over to help. He pulled the shirt over Ray's head and stared at Ray's bare chest. He had seen Ray shirtless before, but now it felt more intimate.

He wanted to touch Ray's chest, so he did. He started at Ray's shoulder and slid his hand down to Ray's pectoral. Ray's tanned skin was smooth under Benton's finger tips.

Ray put his hand on top of Benton's grinned.

'Let's go to bed. You wanna barrow something to sleep in?'

Oh, dear. Benton had been so eager to get to Ray's apartment that he had left his long johns at The Consulate.

'Are you certain you'll have clothes that are big enough?'

'Don't worry. I got just the thing.'

Ray stood up and walked over to his dresser. He dug around and pulled out some kind of clothing. Handing it to Benton, he sat back down.

He unfolded the clothing and looked at it. It was a very large t-shirt with a kitten on it. Dried paint was stuck to the fabric.

He pulled off his clothes until he was in his boxers. He pulled the shirt over his head and was surrounded by the scent of Ray. He looked over at the bed and Ray was laying down. He was dressed only in a undershirt and plaid boxers.

Ray reached out to Benton and it would have taken a stronger man to resist Ray.

He joined Ray. He laid his head on Ray's chest and sighed when Ray's fingers combed through Benton's hair.

'You like that?' Ray asked.

He nodded, he didn't think he could speak. He was surround by Ray's warmth and Ray's scent and it reminded him of the warmth of a roaring fire.

As he closed his eyes and fell asleep he hoped he woke up in Ray's embrace.

Through out the night Benton and Ray slept peacefully. Darkness covered them like a blanket.

In the morning Benton's eyes opened. Sunlight shown through a window making Ray look golden. He lifted his head to look at Ray. His eyes were closed and he looked peaceful. His eyelashes were dark against his skin.

Benton had the sudden desire to touch Ray so he did. His fingers brushed against warm skin, the stubble on Ray's cheek was rough. It was quite the contrast, but Ray was a study in contrasts. He liked to say he was a Chicago hard guy, but he had a soft spot for Dief.

Ray's eyes fluttered open. He smiled as soon as he saw Benton.

'Morning,' Ray said.

'Good morning.'

Ray lifted his head and their lips brushed. As they kissed Ray rubbed his groan against Benton's leg. The feeling of Ray's hardness made Benton's cheek heat up.

Ray broke the kiss. 'Looks like I'm sporting some serious morning wood. You mind if I take care of it?'

'Morning wood?'

'Ya know... An... What's the word... An erection.'

'Ah, of course you can take care of it.'

Suddenly Benton had an idea, he just hoped Ray didn't think he was being too forward.

'May I watch?' Benton asked.

Ray's eyes went wide, but then a smile spread across his face.

'Sure you can watch! That's real kinky there, Benton-buddy. You might wanna move over.'

Benton rolled off Ray and laid next to him.

Ray lifted his hips and slid his boxers down. His cock was hard and the head was deep red. His balls were covered with dark blond hair. Benton wanted to reach out and run his fingers through the hair, but he wanted to see Ray pleasure himself even more.

Ray pulled up his shirt and slid his hand down his stomach. Benton pictured himself licking his way down Ray's stomach. Ray grabbed his own balls and kneaded them. After several moments he moved his hand to his cock and slid his hand up and down the shaft.

As Ray's hand moved up and down Benton felt himself harden. He had seen pictures naked women in various erotic poses, his uncle had kept them in the secret compartment of his trunk, but they seem tame compared to Ray. His hand moved up and down his shaft, a shaft that was thinner and longer than Benton's own, and his tanned skin was golden against his light blue bedding.

Ray looked over at Benton and their eyes met. Ray's back arched and he came while he shouted profanities.

'Wow... Was that good for you?' Ray asked panting.

'It was. Thank you,' Benton said.

'Thanks for what?'

Benton thought about it. He wanted to thank Ray for being a friend and now a lover and he certainly wanted to thank Ray for being so warm and inviting while they slept, but he didn't know how to put that in to words. Frasers were notorious for being unable to express their feelings. Martha Fraser had never said I love you, not even to her own husband.

'For everything.'

'Ah... You always so sappy in the morning.'

'Not always. I just thought you should know.'

'Thanks. You wanna take a shower first?'

'Of course.'

Ray bent over the bed and wiped his come covered stomach with a dirty t-shirt he picked up off the floor.

'Im gonna make some coffee. Let me know when you're done.' Ray kissed Benton on the cheek. He stood up and walked out of the room.

Benton got out of bed and gathered up his clothes and made his way to Ray's bathroom.

The bathroom had yellow walls with a blue tile floor. A pair of green towels hang on towel rods. Benton dropped his clothes on the floor, he pulled off his over sized shirt and boxers. He stepped into Ray's shower.

He turned on the shower and groaned when warm water hit his skin. He grabbed a bar of soap and lathered up. His hands slid across skin. His cock was still hard. At any other time he would have just waited for it to subside, but now he thought he might as well pleasure himself. Perhaps Ray was rubbing off on him.

He took himself in hand and stroked himself. He preferred a tight grip. As he stroked himself he pictured Ray stroking himself.

His hand moved up and and down as he braced himself against the shower wall.

After several moments Benton felt his orgasm coming and sped up his stroke. As he came with a shudder he pictured Ray's smirk.

He cleaned himself again, turned off the shower and stepped into the bathroom. He put on his badly wrinkled clothes, he wondered if Ray had an ironing board, and walked through Ray's apartment.

He found Ray in his small kitchen. Ray was dancing, he swung his hips and he moved back and forth. All Benton could do was watch. Ray was very graceful.

Ray turned around. He grinned.

'Hey, you want breakfast?'

'That sounds wonderful. What are we having?'

'I was thinking maybe some eggs and toast. I know how you like to eat healthy.'

'I see. What do you usually eat?'

'Coffee with Smarties in it. Breakfast of champions.'

Benton highly doubted that champions had Smartie flavored coffee for breakfast.

After breakfast, Ray took an shower and Benton occupied himself by washing the pile of dishes that were stacked in Ray's sink.

As he sunk his arms into warm, soapy water, he thought about the turn his life had took. Just yesterday he would have been content to have Ray's friendship, but now he couldn't imagine not being so close to Ray. He hoped he would be able to see Ray wake up more. Perhaps he would take pictures of Ray asleep. He had only one picture of his family after all.

As he was scrubbing dried cheese off a plate he felt Ray's arms snaked around his waist.

'You didn't have to do that you know?'

'I know, but it only takes a moment to to be thoughtful.'

'Want me to drive you to The Consulate?' Ray kissed the side of Benton's neck.

'If you wouldn't mind.'

'Nah. I'm not looking forward to work today. All I'll be able to think about is how good you looked in my shirt last night.'

'Just try to think of something calming. An ice flow perhaps.'

Ray laughed.

Benton finished the dishes and Ray drove him to The Consulate. Before he got out of Ray's GTO Ray kissed him.

Benton opened The Consulate door and Dief was waiting for him.

Dief sniffed Benton and barked at him.

'I know I smell like Ray and no there was no mating.'

Dief barked.

'Of course we will mate, we're just taking things slow.

Dief grumbled. He was of the opinion that they shouldn't take things slow.

Benton went to his bedroom, closed the door and pulled off his flannel shirt and jeans. He brought the shirt up to his nose and inhaled, the fabric smelled like Ray. He sat his clothes on his bed and put on his parade red uniform. As he buttoned buttons and tightened straps he tried to put Ray out of his mind. There was much work to do.
****************

Benton stood outside The Consulate. Even though it was Turnbull's turn at guard duty, Benton needed to do something that didn't require too much thought. He had stood guard so many times that he could have done it while sleeping.

Earlier that day, he had tried to write reports, but images of Ray had ran through his mind and his writing had suffered for it. His normally precise writing had turned into a scrawl that his Grandmother would have been appalled at.

It wasn't even eroticism he had been thinking about, but Ray dancing in his boxers and Ray's lips brushing against his own.

Even now, Benton could feels Ray's lips.

After several hours he thought he had gotten his desire under control when he heard a familiar voice.

'Hey, Benton-buddy. Still on guard duty huh?' Ray asked as he stepped in front of Benton's field of vision.

Ray was grinning, his blond hair was sun kissed and golden. It took every ounce of Benton's willpower not to comb his fingers through Ray's hair.

'Hey, I know you can't talk right now but there's something I gotta ask you. Come over to my place after you get off.'

Ray leaned forward as if to kiss Benton, but he stopped at walked away.

As Benton stood guard he thought about the aborted kiss. Perhaps Ray was having second thoughts about their near sexual encounter. If that was true he only hoped that they could still have a friendship.

Once Fraser was finished with work he went to Ray's apartment. He walked into Ray's apartment and found Ray sitting on his couch with a beer in his hand.

'Hello Ray.'

Ray looked over at Fraser. 'Hey. Can I ask you something?'

Fraser sat down next to Ray. 'Of course.'

Ray took a sip of beer. 'You and Vecchio ever mess around. Have sex I mean.'

'No. I love Ray just not romantically.'

'Damn. I guess we should keep our relationship secret. I don't wanna put Vecchio in danger.'

'Perhaps we should. As far as I know Ray has never been attracted to other men.'

'Gotcha. It's still gonna suck.'

'Would you want to tell people about us?'

'Hell yeah I would. I never thought a guy like you could want a guy like me and I want everyone to know about it.' Ray sat his beer on his coffee table.

Fraser took Ray's hand in his own and rubbed his thumb against warm skin. There was so much he wanted to say to Ray but instead said, 'I feel the same way.'

Ray grinned and Fraser felt his breath catch. Ray's eyes sparkled and the crease around his mouth appeared. Fraser longed to kiss that crease, but knew if he did he wouldn't be able to stop himself from fornicating with Ray and he couldn't bring himself to do that while he knew they would have to pretend that nothing happened.

'Thanks. You wanna watch the game?'

Fraser settled back against Ray's couch as Ray turned on his television. He tried to concentrate on the game, but Ray was destructing. Ray was warm and his scent seemed to surround Fraser. Whenever something good happened on the television Ray would stand up and punch the air. All Fraser could do was watch Ray's graceful movement.

After the game was over Ray sat back down, his knee brushed against Fraser's.

'Hey, Fraser? I've been thinking. Maybe we shouldn't do more than kiss. It might make it easier to pretend we're just partners. I've never been to good at hiding my feelings. Is that okay.'

'That's a good plan. I was thinking the same thing.'

Ray laughed. 'See. See. This is why we make a duet.'

'Indeed. May I kiss you now?'

'Hell yeah.'

Ray leaned close and their lips met. Ray reached up and kneaded Fraser shoulder. Fraser brought his hand up and ran it through Ray's hair; it was surprising soft. For some reason Fraser always assumed that Ray's hair would be hard. Maybe it was because Ray liked to call himself a Chicago hard guy.
**********

Fraser and Ray were walking down the street to Ray's car. Ray was grinning and practically dancing. Even Dief seemed to be dancing. They had apprehended a group of rubber duck counterfeiters.

Fraser had chased a suspect and Ray had followed close behind. Ray had tackled the suspect with a leap and Fraser had been waiting with Ray's handcuffs.

As Fraser watched Ray dance down the street he had to admit that Ray's good mood was infectious. He too felt like dancing. Weeks before, Fraser had worried that the shift in their relationship would be distracting, but if anything they worked together even better.

Perhaps knowing someone intimately made non-verbal communication stronger. Even though Fraser had only watched once as Ray pleasured himself he thought he knew Ray intimately.

'Hey you wanna go get something to eat?' Ray asked.

'Of course.'

'Cool. You want Chinese or Mexican?'

Dief barked. He wanted tacos.

'Dief would prefer Mexican.'

'Okay. Sounds good.'

They got into Ray's car and made their way through the city. Ray tapped the steering wheel with one hand and grabbed Fraser's hand with the other.

They stopped in front of Ray's favorite Mexican restaurant. A small red brick building with a hand painted sign out front. Inside the walls were painted with bright reds, yellows and oranges and were covered with paper mâché masks.

They made their way to a table by the window. The sun was setting turning the sky red and the clouds pink and purple.

The waitress, an older woman named Mindy, came up.

'Hey, guys. You want the usual?'

'You know it,' Ray said.

'Great. Ray, I have two tickets to the Cubs game and was wondering if you'd like to go with me?'

Ray looked over at Mindy, his eyes were wide. 'You mean like a date?'

'Yeah. You up for it?'

'Sorry, I'm taken.'

'Oh. Well you can't blame a girl for trying,' Mindy said with a wink.

As Mindy walked away Ray watched her.

'Can you believe that? We just met the one person in Chicago that doesn't want to get into your pumpkin pants,' Ray said as turned back around.

'It's understandable. You're very charming.'

'Yeah right. Thanks for that.'

Ray starting talking excitedly and his hands were flying through the air. Fraser tired to follow Ray's train of thought, but all he could think about was Mindy asking Ray out on a date. He knew it was bound to happen, Ray was attractive and he was okay with that; he felt that while woman might want Ray for themselves Ray only wanted Fraser.

Suddenly Ray became quite and still. He was staring at something behind Fraser's head.

Fraser turned his head and saw what Ray saw. A man and a woman were sitting across from each other; they were holding hands and gazing into each others eyes.

'Man that sucks,' Ray said.

Fraser turned around and looked at Ray. His mouth was turned down in a frown.

Ray leaned across the table and whispered. 'I wish...' Ray was cut off by the arrival of their food.

Fraser had chicken tacos. He usually enjoyed the tacos, they were always filled with vegetables, but now he barely tasted them.

They ate in silents. Once they had eaten they got back in Ray's car and he drove them back to The Consulate. Ray turned on his radio and the quiet of the car was broken by the sounds of rock music.

'Are you all right, Ray?' Fraser asked.

'Yeah. Yeah. It's just seeing those two people holding hands made me want to hold your hand in a restaurant, but I can't.'

'I see,' Fraser said. He knew exactly how Ray felt, he also wanted to hold Ray's hand in public. Instead he held onto Ray's hand in the privacy of Ray's car.

Once at The Consulate, he went to his office. He took off uniform and put on his long johns. He laid down on the bedroll that was no the floor. Dief jumped on the bed and laid down.

He tried to sleep but sleep didn't come.

'There's no need to be melancholy,' A familiar voice said somewhere in the dark.

Benton sat up and turned on a lamp. The room was bathed in yellow light. His breath caught in his throat, his mother was standing in the office. She was dressed in fur and was just as he remembered her. He could almost smell the lilac perfume she wore.

'Mother?'

She smiled as she walked over and knelt down next to him. She reached out and brushed her fingers against his cheek. His skin tingled where she touched him.

'Hello, Benton.'

'Are you here for any particular reason?' Was all he could think to say. There was so much he wanted to ask her.

'I just want you to tell you once thought I was attracted to Buck, but then I met your father and we had you. I know I loved your father and you deeply. I just want that kind of love for you.'

Fraser eyes went wide. This was the first time he had heard that Caroline loved Buck. Or that Caroline had talked about her feelings in general. Fraser had once tried to talk to his dad about feelings and Bob had threatened to smack him. He had always thought that Frasers didn't talk about their feelings, but that didn't seem to be the case with Caroline Fraser.

'I had no idea.'

'I know. I guess what I'm trying to say is don't worry about Ray, I'm sure he knows how much you love him and someday you'll be able to express that. Get some sleep son.' Caroline kissed him on the head and began to fade away.

'Please don't leave!' Benton exclaimed as he tried to reach for his mother. He had not seen her for nearly long enough, but she disappeared.

Fraser laid back down and even though his mind was racing he fell into a deep sleep.

The next day, Fraser got up and made a breakfast of eggs, toast and strong tea. He barely tasted any if it. His mother's words ran through his mind; his father had never spoken about love but his mother seemed to have no such problem.

After breakfast, he put on his uniform and waited for Ray. Ray's car pulled up to The Consulate. Fraser and Dief climbed into the car.

After several minutes Ray spoke. 'You okay over there Benton-buddy? You awfully quiet.'

'Yes. I'm just thinking. I like... I like... Chicken.'

He chastised himself. Why couldn't he just tell Ray something simple.

Ray's brow knit in confusion 'Yeah. Sure.'

Benton spent the rest of the drive in silence. He hoped Ray knew how he felt.
************
Weeks later the Beth Botrelle case happened. Ray spent most of the week dressed in dark colors, almost as if he was mourning Beth. Perhaps he was. Ray only seemed to cheer up when Sam Franklin appeared. Fraser was certain that his betrayal had cut Ray deeply; he still remembered how he had felt by Victoria's betrayal.

Several weeks later, Fraser stood outside Beth's house. The sky was dark and the wind was biting as Fraser stood by Ray's car and looked over at Beth's house; warm yellow light spilled out through the windows.

The house might have looked charming, but Fraser still worried about Ray. No matter what happened in that house Ray would come out changed.

Ray came out of the house. His steps were heavy. They both climbed into his car and Ray put the keys in the ignition. The keys fell and Ray looked over at Fraser. he put his face in his hand and cried.

Fraser wanted to comfort Ray, but wasn't sure how. He decided to act he turned his head to give Ray a little bit of privacy and but his hand on Ray's shoulder.

The only sound was that of Ray sobbing. After several minutes Ray's sobs lessened and Fraser withdraw his hand.

Fraser looked over at Ray; his eyes were puffy and red.

'Thanks, Fraser,' Ray said.

'Of course. Is there anything else I can do for you?'

'Yeah. I know we're supposed to be keeping our relationship secret but could come home with me and sleep with me. I need it.'

'I will. I'm sure Ray Vecchio would want my comfort.'

'Thanks. You ever slept with Vecchio. The real Vecchio I mean.'

'Once when we were lost in the Canadian wilderness.'

They drove in silents. Once they pulled up to Ray's apartment building they got out of the car and went to Ray's apartment.

Once inside they walked to Ray's bedroom and both laid on Ray's bed. They were both fully clothed, but it didn't seem ridiculous at all. Ray rolled over onto his side and pulled Fraser into his arms. Ray's embrace was warm.

Fraser neck was wetted by tears. Fraser wanted to assure Ray that everything would be all right but couldn't find the words. Instead he just let Ray hold him until they both fell asleep.

In the morning Fraser woke up alone in Ray's bed. He rolled over and got up.

He went to the kitchen and found Ray standing by the kitchen sink drinking coffee. When he saw Fraser he smiled.

'Hey, Benton. Thanks for staying with me last night. I really needed it.'

'Of course.'

Ray suddenly grimaced.

'Is something the matter, Ray?'

Ray ran his fingers through his hair. 'Nah, I just wish you didn't have to leave.'

Suddenly Fraser was struck by an idea. He walked out of Ray's apartment and went to his car. Fraser's hat was sitting of the back seat. He picked it up and carried it back to Ray's apartment.

Once inside, he placed the hat on Ray's head.

'You're giving me your hat?'

'Yes. I thought it might remind you of me.'

'Thanks. Here.'

Ray took off the bracelet that was around his wrist and put it around Fraser wrist. The metal was warmed by Ray body heat.

'Thank you Ray.' Benton said as he ran his finger against the metal bracelet.

'Yeah, sure. I gotta get ready for work. See you tonight?'

'Of course. May I kiss you?'

'Go for it!'

Benton brushed his lips against Ray's and then left Ray's apartment the bracelet was a weight on his arm. He made his way back to The Consulate and decided that he might not be good at talking about his feelings, but he was certain that Ray knew how he felt.