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Gold Gash Vermillion

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I had no idea what I was getting into, not that that's unusual with Fraser. We were just playing to start. The first time, I'd used a couple of neckties to tie him to the headboard. I'd thought his head was going to explode, he was so turned on. And believe me, Fraser with his mind blown is a beautiful sight. So I invested in a set of leather cuffs, brown ones, the color of Mountie boots. Fraser got hard just at the sight of them. Then he sniffed them and put them in his mouth, because he's Fraser. When he was done, I cuffed him to the bed and fucked him through the mattress. It was awesome.

After that, things started getting a little more intense each time. He wanted me to hurt him a little, nothing hard core, just a little extra stimulation. Look, I'm not a detective for nothing, okay? It was obvious from the first day I met him that Fraser's a fucking adrenaline junkie. When driving a flaming Riviera into the Lake They Call Michigan is a typical day for you, extreme sports in the bedroom are gonna require a little bit of an edge, right? And I wanted him to be happy. He deserves it. He deserves to get whatever he needs, no matter how strange and Fraseresque.

So I did a little bit of research and came up with this idea. I set the atmosphere carefully. Clean sheets on the bed, lights down low. I cuffed him to the bed naked and got him good and worked up, not to the point of begging but pretty desperate, lots of good chemicals flooding that high-powered brain of his. I kept my clothes on, just a tank and jeans, because I knew I'd be done before we started if I was naked too. I wanted it to be special for him, something to remember. Once he was all set, I pulled these candles and holders out of the drawer where I'd hidden them. That's when things started to get weird.

Fraser's eyes flew open at the sound of the match and he got this look on his face, I can't even describe it. He was still totally turned on, his pupils wide and dark, but he looked afraid. Fraser, who wasn't even afraid when he should be, looked terrified at the thought of some candles.

"Ben, it was just an idea," I said. "We'll do something else if you want. You don't have to do this."

But he shook his head, hard, like he meant it. "No, I want to. I do. I was just . . . startled. For a moment." And he looked better then, like he was sure, more like himself.

So I nodded. "You say stop and I stop. Anytime, do not pass go, do not collect $200."

"Yes, Ray." He smiled at me, so gorgeous, and I kissed him until neither one of us could breathe and I could hardly remember what I was supposed to be doing. But after a few minutes I got it together enough to pull away and get started.

I picked up the lit candle and brought it over to the bed. I leaned down to whisper in his ear. "Because I love you," and let a little of the wax drip onto his chest.

He hissed a little and arched up into the burn. His skin was pale as paper and flushed pink around the hot wax right away.

"So beautiful," I whispered. He opened his eyes and I could see that drugged, soft focus that meant he was floating, and a shadow of something darker that I hadn't seen before.

"Ray." His voice caught. "Again." So I did it again, a longer mark this time, another arch, and a moan that became words. "The night - Victoria - she lit candles." Fraser was panting and suddenly I understood. That murdering bitch had given him a candle complex.

"We'll stop," I said.

But he pulled against the manacles and gasped, "No. Ray, I want to, want it, want it, please."

Jesus. I nearly lost it, him begging like that, which he never did, not until the very end, at least. So I made another stripe down his belly and he moaned some more.

"God, yes, Ray." I blew air across the marks and he shuddered. "More, please."

Another stripe on his belly. He jumped and arched. "She saw through me," he murmured. "She knew."

"Knew what?" I dripped another line into him, slowly.

He moaned. "What I wanted, how I am. Put her fingers in me, so good, oh Ray." I licked up one stripe and down the other and he shook. "Don't stop, please, Ray."

So I went back to the wax. It was like the pain of the burns was pulling this weird confession out of him, sucking out the poison, maybe.

"Did you get all twisted up about it, about your sexuality?" I asked.

He shook his head. "No. She tried but – was so good, never knew . . ." More wax, on a nipple this time. He moaned and twisted in the manacles. "She whispered, what she wanted, a strap-on, fuck me until I cried."

Christ on a cracker. The thought of that harpy trying to humiliate Fraser made my skin crawl. But he was too strong for her. She'd managed to do a number on his head, for sure, but he was way too used to the idea of being a freak to be all that disturbed by new sexual kinks. Plus, adrenaline junkie, like I said.

"I'm glad she didn't ruin things for you," I said.

"Tried –"

"I know. I know she tried. But here you are."

"With you."

"With me."

"More Ray, give me more, God, I love you, please, please."

I did, over the other nipple, and he writhed. "In the Pass," he gasped, "She recited Hopkins, like singing. No wonder of it, sheer plod makes plough down sillion shine, and blue-bleak embers, ah my dear, fall, gall themselves, and gash gold-vermilion. Gash gold-vermilion."

I licked across the stripe I'd just made. "Ben? I have no idea what the fuck that means, but it's really fucking creepy."

That startled a short laugh out of him, that turned into a moan as I licked the other nipple. "More Ray, don't stop, please."

I worked my way down his chest with the wax, across his hip, onto the inside of his left thigh, holding the candle closer to his skin to increase the temperature. He groaned and twisted.

"Never told anyone, never told Ray," he rasped.

Vecchio, he was talking about, not me. "It's okay," I said, "you can tell me, if you want. Whatever you need, Ben."

I ran more wax up the inside of his right thigh, close and hot. Whatever this was about, we were getting to the center of it, and for whatever reason, he needed the pain to get there. As the wax hit he cried out, not quite shouting, but an admission of pain, an admission of losing control.

"I was going with her," he said, tears leaking from the corners of his eyes as he arched his back in pleasure and pain. "To escape. Not to bring her in. To run."

Now that was a shock, the last thing I'd expected. Nothing in Vecchio's reports hinted at it. Maybe he didn't know, or didn't want to know. Maybe he knew and was covering. But whatever, they'd never cleared the air. Fraser's guilt must have been killing him, all this time.

I put the candle in the holder and kissed him, deep, to show him I meant it. "It's okay," I whispered. "I've got you." I reached down to bring him off, which took about three strokes as wound up as he was. Then I made love to him slowly, until he was begging me again, but this time just for pleasure. When we were done, I released him from the cuffs, pulled him into my arms and tucked the sheet around us.

"You okay?" I asked.

He nodded sleepily. "Thank you."

"Can I ask you something?"

He nodded again.

I could understand him wanting to go with her. God knows he's a romantic bastard, and so much of his life is caught in all these layers of duty, and responsibility, and what other people thought he should be. Constable Fraser, RCMP, didn't leave a lot of room for Benton, and I could totally understand why he might want to run away. But there was one thing that just didn't add up for me. "She shot Dief."

"Ah," he said quietly. "How could I go with her when she shot Dief?"

"Yeah."

"I convinced myself that he'd tried to stop her from leaving with my father's gun, that she'd become frightened and shot him in what she thought was self-defense. He can be intimidating when he makes the effort, you know."

"I know."

"That's the worst of it. Not that she manipulated me and set me up, or even that she nearly killed Diefenbaker, as horrible as that is. I betrayed Ray, and Diefenbaker, and myself, and I didn't even have the courage to be honest with myself about what I was doing and why. Everything she did required my full cooperation, and I gave it to her. I gave her everything and I lied to myself about it." He shuddered in my arms.

"Shhhh. It's all right. It's over."

I could feel him nodding against my chest. "Yes," he said. "There's no room for her anymore."

I tightened my hold on him and listened to him breathing until I fell asleep.