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The Vigil

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Ray crumpled his coffee cup, tossing it into the basket in the corner. The room was quiet now, the doctor and nurses gone. They had said he could stay, that it might help to have a friend there. Ray shivered. The same friend that was responsible for the bullet lodged next to their patient's spine. The doctor had emerged after the operation with the news.

"Constable Fraser will recover in time. However, the bullet will have to remain. It's too close to the spine to risk removal. An attempt to remove it might endanger his spine, creating the possibility of paralysis."

The first burst of joy at the news that Bennie would get well dissolved at the thought that he would carry Ray's bullet the rest of his life. The others had left, gone back to the precinct, telling him that he was not to blame and that the inquiry would be dealt with.

Now Ray stood at the window, looking out at the night sky. It was so cold out, frost was visible on the rooftops. The kind of weather Fraser loved. Ray pressed a hand to the glass, feeling the chill envelop him, the heat leaching out of his hand. Like Fraser's life was almost leached out. He pulled his hand back, clenching it into a fist. The stars cast an eerie light on the street below and, with a sigh, he turned round, pulling a chair up beside the bed. Fraser looked so pale and helpless under the faint light. There were dark bruised-looking circles under his eyes and some faint bruising along his jaw. He hadn't regained consciousness since the operation and Ray was scared, despite the doctor's reassurances. How would Fraser handle it? He was going to be stuck in a bed and then a wheelchair for weeks. Diefenbaker was still in the animal hospital. And Victoria was gone, Ray reminded himself bitterly. He remembered his words to her, "Listen, you hurt him and I'll kill you." Some threat. He hadn't been able to stop her and, in the end, it was he who hurt his best friend, almost killed him.

Tentatively, he reached out his hand, picking Fraser's up from it's resting place on top of the sheet. It felt cool and he gently stroked his thumb back and forth. The doctor had said he should talk to him but what could he say? After all he had done and failed to do?

"Bennie?" His voice cracked and he took a firmer hold of his friend.

"Bennie, I don't know if you can hear me, I feel pretty stupid but the doctor said people can sometimes hear things even when they're unconscious." He glanced away. "I'm worried about you, you know?  But the doc said you're going to be fine."

 

Unbidden an image flashed into his mind of another hospital room. He had been scared before when Bennie was stabbed by that maniac who was after Frobisher, but it wasn't the same. It was a bad injury but once the blood was stopped, it was a simple leg wound. He'd gone into the room and Bennie had smiled at him, responded to him. Now it was as if he...

No! Don't think that! Ray told himself angrily. He's alive. I didn't kill him. He sniffed, trying determinedly to hold back the tears that had been threatening to fall since arriving at the hospital. A hand scrubbed at his face in frustration.

"Why do you do this to me?" Anger sharpened his voice. "Why'd you fall for her? You knew what she was." He paused, the horror of those moments in the train station coming back to him full force. "I thought she had a gun, Bennie, that she was going to shoot you. I couldn't let her." His words were as much for himself as for his unconscious friend. "I'm so sorry." Still maintaining his grip on Bennie's hand, he leant over, his other hand brushing Fraser's cheek. "I wanted to protect you, not hurt you myself."

Bennie looked so vulnerable beside him, fragile, so different from his typical steady strength. Fraser was like a rock to him, dependable, sturdy. He'd admired him for that, despite his sarcastic teasing. Fraser had saved his life on more than one occasion. Somehow, without noticing it, he'd become dependent on Bennie, emotionally as well as at work, so attached to him that he was afraid. Afraid of losing him, of driving him away. Almost unwillingly, his fingers brushed over Fraser's lips.

"You're gonna be fine, Bennie. The doctor told me and I'm telling you. It'll be hard but I'll be here for you. I won't leave you."

A bare twenty-four hours before, he had promised to stand by Bennie, despite his friend's suggestion to save himself. He put up bail, he'd never considered not doing it. And what had Fraser done? Told him to take the deal offered by the force. "Not in you lifetime." he'd answered, determined to stay with him, help him.

Leaning back in the chair, he maintained his grip on Fraser's hand. "I remember when I first met you, Bennie." He quickly glanced at the sleeping face before letting his gaze drift out the window. "You were just another bother, another case, until you said it was your father that was murdered." He shivered in remembrance. "I looked up at you and your face was so still but I could see you were hurting. It was almost as if I could feel it." His fingers tightened on the lax ones. "You've never been good at hiding your feelings, Bennie." He swallowed.

"I never told you much about my family. Didn't need to, you met my Mom and the others, they never shut up." Unaware, a faint smile was settling on Ray's lips. He watched his fingers cradling Bennie's hand. "You loved your Dad so much and he obviously loved you. I'm surprised you never asked me about mine, you seemed curious the one time I mentioned him." Ray released Fraser's hand and jumped up, pacing around the bed.

 

"I loved him, you know? But I was never good enough for him. I was too small, not smart enough, not strong enough, never enough for him." He took a deep breath. "Not even a good enough pool player." He paused, his gaze settling on Bennie's still features. "He laughed when I told them I was going to become a cop. Said I wasn't enough of a man to do that kind of job." His hands slid over the cool siderails as he leaned into the bed. "You're the only person who ever liked me the way I am. You called me your best friend, Bennie, remember? But you're my best and only friend."

The slow rise and fall of Fraser's chest was his only response. Briefly, Ray rested his fingers against Fraser's throat, feeling the slow, reassuring pulse beneath the surface. Shaking his head at himself, "I'm talking to an unconscious man, I'm getting as crazy as you, Bennie." he walked back to the chair, slumping into it as he reclaimed the limp hand still resting where he had dropped it.

He continued to ramble on, mostly repeating reassurances that Fraser would be okay, telling him Diefenbaker was going to be fine too, until he began to drift off. The late nights and the stress of the shooting were taking their toll. This night his sleep was filled with dreams and nightmares.

 

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Ray rolled over, tangling himself in the sheets.

"What the?" There was a man standing beside his bed. How did he get inside the house? He grabbed at the covers, pulling them up to his chest with one hand while the other slipped under the mattress for his gun. A hand clamped down on his wrist, preventing him from reaching it.

"It's me, Ray." His bedside lamp was flicked on, casting a soft light over the room's two occupants.

His bright burst of fear turning to annoyance, Ray glared back. "Let me explain something to you. It's the middle of the night. I don't know about up in Canada, but in Chicago, we tend to do our sleeping late at night and in the early morning. Have you ever considered adjusting to our customs?" Rubbing at his eyes, Ray looked through long lashes at his visitor.

Fraser was standing patiently, clearly willing to wait out whatever complaints were produced. Business as usual. Ray sighed and sat up, propping his pillow behind him, the covers slipping down unnoticed to his waist.

"What do you want?" His voice sounded resigned.

Fraser's eyes seemed to flash. "I need to talk to you. It's important."

"I should hope so." What was going on? Was Bennie sick? Concern pricked his conscience. His friend looked a little flushed, Ray noted, his eyes seemed very bright. But why was Bennie staring at his bare chest? Ray could feel the goosepimples rise, felt himself heat at the close scrutiny. He was awfully skinny next to his friend's strength. It made him a little self-conscious. "Bennie?"

"Yes, Ray?"

"Why are you staring at me?"

A tiny smile. "I like the way you look."

"Oh." A pause. "Really?" Hopeful for he knew not quite what, Ray looked up at Fraser, watching the combination of lamp and the light from his window throw shadows across the handsome face. Fraser really was very attractive with his classically good looks and sturdy frame. No wonder the girls adored him. That and his gentle manners and general kindness. He was so damned polite!

 

"Yes, you're very attractive, Ray." A hand brushed across the silky hair of Ray's chest and he felt his nipples harden at the sweet caress. The hair on the nape of his neck rose.

"Bennie, don't." Ray whispered. This couldn't be happening, Fraser couldn't want him. His friend's face was downturned, looking at Ray's body, concentration written on his features.

 "Why not?" Fraser countered calmly, his roving hand tracing along Ray's profile. His eyes now following his hand's path.

"Why?" Ray demanded abruptly, grabbing Fraser's hand and holding it tightly. He had to know, couldn't take much more of this otherwise.

"I love you." Such simple words but Ray couldn't believe, didn't dare to. Hoped for somewhere, deeply buried even from himself these months as they'd worked together, spent time together, he'd wished that Bennie would love him, that he could love Bennie back. But he was still unsure.

"Why now?"

"I never knew how you felt before." Fraser sounded so assured, as if he never had any doubts.

"You think you do now?"

"Yes." Ray looked unconvinced so Fraser went on. "Why do you hate Victoria?"

Ray paused, his eyes widening. "I don't hate her."

"Ray." Bennie always knew when he was lying.

"Because she hurt you." There, that should satisfy him, it was part of the truth.

"You didn't know that would happen when you first met her. Why, Ray?"

"How should I know? I just didn't trust her." Abruptly, he looked away. Fraser's free hand came up to his face, cupping his cheek.

"You felt like she was taking me away."

"She did." The words sounded hollow to Ray's ears. He remebered how he felt when Fraser had missed the party at his house, as if he wasn't even worth a phone call, a couple of hours. "You were going with her, weren't you?"

"Yes." One word spoken softly, the source of so much pain. Anger and guilt mixed in Ray's mind. He shouldn't feel this way.

"Then why all this?" He gestured angrily, jerking his head away from Fraser's touch.

"I love you."

"You love Victoria!"

"No. I loved what I wanted her to be." Fraser pulled back, sitting beside Ray on the bed. "I love you for who you are." For the first time since he woke, Ray really looked at Bennie. He appeared tired and drawn, a hint of sadness in the dark eyes. Ray felt his resolve weakening as always in the face of his friend's needs, his friend's convictions. But he still didn't understand and he could tell Fraser saw this too.

"I've loved you, Ray. But I didn't think you felt the same." He smiled. "So eager to find the right woman."

"When did you know?"  Suddenly Ray felt like he had to know, that it was very important to know.

 

"About me or you?" Fraser teased gently, giving Ray a small smile in return for the glare he received. "I knew how I felt when you fell in love with the woman who ran you down, the Federal agent. I didn't know how you felt until Victoria. Your reactions told me what I should have known before. Your words, you told me, 'And I thought this woman would come between us.' I'm sorry, Ray."

"You're sorry? Jesus, Bennie! I'm the one who shot you!" Suddenly it struck him. Bennie was walking and talking, was healthy. Confused, he looked down at their hands then back up. Fraser was still there, still smiling that soft little smile. "Bennie, what..." Fingers brushed his lips, silencing him.

"No more, no more talk." Shaken, Ray reached out and touched his friend's face. His fingers rested against a cheek, the skin warm and smooth with only a faint trace of stubble.

"I love you," he whispered helplessly.

"I know." Fraser shifted closer, his lips brushing against Ray's. Delicately, his tongue darted out, tracing over Ray's trembling lips, slipping inside when Ray gasped. Fraser's hands touched his neck, caressing down to the base, then sliding along his collarbone. To Ray's surprise, his feelings for Bennie intensified, starting a very familiar tightening ache in his groin.

"Bennie?" he whispered.

"It's okay, Ray." Bennie's face was lit by a sweet, gentle smile. "This is how it should be, how we should be."

Fraser's hands travelled down Ray's chest, his gentle touch eagerly exploring, stroking at the light dusting of silky hair, following it down to where it thickened, making stomach muscles ripple in reaction. Ray's hands twisted in the sheets, he could feel the sweat starting to break out on his face.

Suddenly Fraser knelt up on the bed, pressing close, wrapping his arms round Ray and sliding his hands up and down tense back muscles. He buried his face in the join between Ray's shoulder and neck.

Ray ached to move, his cock hard and throbbing beneath the thin sheet. But he was still unsure, still confused. He had shot Bennie, hadn't he? So how could they be here now, in his bed? He gasped as Fraser's hand suddenly slipped down, cupping his now obvious swelling through the thin cotton of the sheet, chasing coherent thought away. Briefly he wondered what had happened to his pyjama bottoms.

"I need you, Ray." Fraser paused, his tongue tickling at an ear. "Remember that."

Ray felt a surge of hope and irresistible desire that overwhelmed him. He had unconsciously held back, afraid of Bennie, of what he was risking in loving the infuriating Mountie. But no more. He pulled Fraser's sweater up and over his head. He pressed his lips to Bennie's muscular chest, licking at salty nipples that stiffened under his tongue's assault. He was rewarded with a faint moan. Such soft skin, his hands rampaged over the sweat-damp surface, feeling the body in his hands tremble in arousal at his touch. Bennie needed him, wanted him! He felt hands caressing him through the sheet again and thrust upward, arching into the pleasure of the firm touches.

 

He pulled Bennie on top of him, finding incredible pleasure in his new-found power to bend Fraser's body to his will. His friend willingly followed him down onto the bed, squirming as Ray's hands slid down his back and delved into his jeans. His fingers squeezed and caressed the muscular cheeks. Ray felt an overwhelming need to possess the greater strength of his lover's body, to tie it to him. He felt Bennie rise up and straddle his hips, watched avidly as boots and pants were discarded. Fraser was beautiful, smooth skin and hard muscle, the faint dusting of hair on his chest thickening over stomach and groin. Bennie's cock was erect, a faint dampness making the head shine. Ray gasped as his sheet was stripped away and scorching skin pressed against him, Bennie on fire against him, cock rubbing against his thigh. Hungry lips travelled down his body and he quivered in anticipation. As excitement began to throb in his balls, Fraser pulled back. Ray lay panting, confused by the hesitation and shaking with need.

"Bennie?"

"Yes, Ray?" The Mountie's voice was warm, indulgent, rich with promise.

"Please, don't stop."

"I won't." Bennie paused. "You may not think so, Ray, but you are beautiful."

With that Bennie's mouth closed over Ray's aching erection and with a gasp, Ray thrust hard, pushing into the soft heat. He reached out, seized Bennie's hips and pulled. Agreeably, Fraser stretched out next to him and he quickly reached for Bennie's cock. He took it deep in his mouth, sucking, tasting, trying to give back the pleasure he was receiving, the desperate love he felt for his friend. Hands and mouths worked until climax, which left them both shivering in reaction to its strength.

Ray was acutely aware of Fraser's head, heavy on his belly. He reached down and touched it, running his palm over the soft pelt of hair. It had been so good, it could be even better. Images of other activities chased through his brain, Bennie writhing beneath him, himself taken and possessed by his lover's strength and passion. Stretching his aching muscles, he rubbed against his lover.

"Bennie?" he whispered.

No response. A coldness seemed to descend on the room.

"Bennie?" Ray's heart began to pound. The weight against his lower body was fading.

"Bennie!"

 

                                             **********

 

 

Ray jerked awake, heart racing, covered in sweat. Bennie lay before him, still unconscious. A dream then. Hell of a dream, Ray thought. He ached all over, especially his groin which felt as if he had been hard for hours. Did he really want that, he wondered, to have Bennie as a lover? He had never wanted a man before but he had never felt as close to anyone else as he felt to Bennie. Yes, he admitted to himself. If he were honest, his feelings had been growing a long time. He wanted his friend as his lover. He wanted Bennie's love and forgiveness whether he deserved them or not.

"And you know you don't." He muttered, rubbing at his eyes. Could Bennie possibly feel the same way? Victoria crowded into his thoughts but then, he liked women too. He just liked Bennie more, much more. But it wasn't the same thing. Everybody loved Bennie. He sighed and stood, looking down at his sleeping friend.

"You make me crazy, you know that, don't you?" he accused. He stepped closer, closing his eyes. He'd have this one kiss if he might never have another. Bending down he brushed Fraser's lips very soffly before pressing a gentle kiss to the smooth forehead. Except that it wasn't smooth against his lips. It was wrinkled as if puzzled. His eyes flew open in astonishment, staring right into Bennie's soft, sleepy gaze.

"Hello, Ray." His voice was rough, very soft, but it brought a brilliant smile to Ray's face along with a flush of embarrassment. Had Bennie been awake when he...

"You're awake!" He knew he was grinning stupidly but he couldn't stop himself. "I'll get a nurse. They wanted to know when you woke up." Fraser nodded slightly and Ray paused. "You're going to be okay." He touched his hand to Fraser's arm. Bennie smiled slightly, closing his eyes.

"Ray?"

"What?" He picked up Bennie's hand, giving it a squeeze. Fraser tugged it weakly until it rested against his heart.

"Thank you." A sharp stab of pain lanced through Ray's heart. He was the reason Bennie was in here. "Don't." He looked down. Bennie was watching him. "Don't hurt yourself." 

"I'm sorry."

"I know." Calmness itself stared up at him, the calm assurance of the dream. Was it possible? Maybe later, when Bennie was back on his feet? After I'm back on mine. We could rebuild his Dad's cabin together, see if we feel the same way. Even if they didn't, he owed Bennie that, the chance to recover from Victoria, to get on with his life. If it separated them, he'd have to live with it. Foolish to think Bennie could love someone like him anyway. Didn't stop him from loving Bennie, though. He brushed the back of his fingers against Fraser's cheek and retrieved his other hand.

"I'll get the nurse."

Fraser nodded tiredly as Ray slipped out the door. But Ray turned to glance back through the window. There was a look of desolation in his friend's face that made him ache in sympathy. No matter what happened, he wouldn't leave him.

 

 

"And I would be the one to hold you down, kiss you so hard,    I'll take your breath away and after I'd wipe away the tears, just close your eyes dear."

 

"Possession" by Sarah McLachlan