His world was so quiet all of a sudden. He let his eyes fall shut. There, peace.
This wasn’t how he had thought he would die.
I’m sorry, Ray.
“Frase… hey, Ben…” Ray’s hand touched his cheek. He gasped in shock at how cold he felt. He shook him slightly and got the barest moan in response. Frantically, Ray grappled with the knots tying Fraser’s hands together. When the rope came loose, Fraser’s hands dropped limply to his side.
Oh God. OhGodohGod. Please… Ray prayed.
“Fraser!” Ray shouted, delivering a stinging slap to his cheek. “You gotta wake up.” Ray shook him again and this time, Fraser’s eyes opened. Glassy blue looked right through Ray and he was pretty sure that Fraser didn’t even recognize him—if he even knew he was there.
Fraser’s lips moved, but no sound came out. His head lolled to the side and then dropped forward; he would’ve toppled out of the chair if Ray hadn’t been there to catch him.
“Hey, buddy,” Ray whispered, freaked out. He lowered Fraser to the floor and touched his face again. He couldn’t make out any breathing. Shaking fingers reached for Fraser’s throat to check his pulse.
Ray pressed his fingers tighter against the skin when he couldn’t find any.
His throat closed up and tears stung in his eyes, but Ray hardly noticed. Then his hands clenched at his sides and Ray curled them into Fraser’s shirt until the knuckles turned white.
“No, dammit, not like this. You are not going to die on me, you hear me?”
He hadn’t been able to save Gregory Klein, but Ray would be damned if he lost Fraser.
Hell, why couldn’t their positions be reversed? Fraser was so much better at this.
Ray loosened his grip and placed his palms on Fraser’s chest. He counted under his breath as his hands pushed, 1-2-3, in fluent succession. With shaking hands, Ray tilted Fraser’s head back and bent down to place his mouth on Fraser’s. And then he breathed.
“C’mon,” Ray mumbled when he straightened again. His hands moved back to Fraser’s chest again and Ray resumed the compression.
“Buddy-breathing… remember?” Ray asked hoarsely and breathed into Fraser again. He felt almost light-headed and his hands looked like something that didn’t belong to his body as Ray watched them pump blood through Fraser’s heart again.
With a gasp, the body beneath Ray suddenly heaved, and for a second Ray stared blankly into Fraser’s blue eyes.
“God, Ben…” Ray breathed and his hands tightened on Fraser’s shirt.
Fraser took another breath, but appeared to have trouble coordinating his limbs.
“It’s the drug… you’ll be all right,” Ray whispered.
It wasn’t even two minutes later that their back-up arrived to secure the warehouse. Two blue-and-whites took Peters and the rest away, but Ray hardly noticed. He couldn’t tear his eyes away from the glaring red of the ambulance where two medics were checking Fraser over.
Fraser looked barely conscious, but at least he was breathing on his own and he seemed to try to exert some control over his body.
The paramedic put his flashlight back into his pocket and turned to Ray.
“He’ll be fine, thanks to your quick intervention. I think you saved his life.”
Ray felt too shaken to do more than nod his assent.
“We can’t get the drug out of his system for him. He will just have to endure it.”
“How long will it take?”
The paramedic shrugged. “Hard to say. It depends on his own tolerance, the potency of the drug, and the quantity he inhaled. Had it only been a quick whiff, the effects probably wouldn’t even last an hour. The amount he ingested, though… It might be anything from 4-6 hours.”
Ray nodded. “Thanks.”
A moment later, Welsh appeared at the door.
“How is he?”
“He’ll be fine… you know Fraser, he’ll survive anything,” Ray tried to joke. Welsh looked at him intently.
“Are you alright, Detective? You did a good job out there.”
“Yeah... yeah, I’m fine.”
“Are you up for the big deal?”
Ray threw Fraser a long look. He seemed to be sleeping. He would be fine.
Ray wanted to nail them. He wanted the charges piled up so high they’d never see the outside of the MCC again in their life. He owed it to Fraser.
Ray was going to kick some heads in.
He drove back to the Skydeep and found Jack stacking the fridge. Jack turned around when he heard footsteps.
“Stan—I mean, Detective—”
“Stick with Stan for tonight… next time,” Ray added with a smirk, “you better remember my name is ‘Ray’, got it?”
Jack beamed. “Got it. How did it go? Is Ben…?” Jack trailed off unsure how to put it.
Ray’s look darkened. “He’ll be all right. But it was too close for my liking.”
Jack nodded with a scared look on his face.
“Don’t worry,” Ray said. “You’ll be all right.”
Ray moved next to him and helped him stock the bottles.
“So you and Ben aren’t really… I mean… you probably laughed your ass off, but I really thought you had a thing for him.” He looked at Ray as if to share the joke.
Ray was momentarily lost for words. He had no idea what to say.
Jack’s eyes widened as he took in Ray’s speechless state. “Hell… oh, man. You really don’t like life too easy, do you?”
Laughter bubbled up inside of Ray and spilled over. “No, seems like I don’t.”
Jack was really wired and Ray had to remind him a couple of times to calm the fuck down. Unobtrusively, Ray noted his colleagues taking up position as the club began to fill. One sat at the bar, staring into his drink; two more were seated at one of the tables, talking together; one leaned against the wall near the entrance, scanning the crowd; and Ray knew that there would be two unmarked cars on each side of the alley that accessed the hidden room.
Another car would be in the garage and Jack had let two more into the security room before anyone else arrived.
The arrival of the VIPs was a direct repetition of the last time and Philly again served the champagne himself.
Ray’s fingers turned white where he gripped the counter. Now it would show if Peters had lied to him or not.
Ray had spent the aftermath of the warehouse deal at the station, interrogating Sasha Peters—or as Ray found out ‘Aleksandr Petrovitch’. He loved how fingerprints didn’t lie.
And Peters had not taken kindly to Ray’s snooping around his past.
He had spat on the floor when Ray addressed him by his Russian name. “I don’t answer to my mother’s name. I’m an American—”
“You,” Ray stressed, “are a worthless piece of shit. I don’t care where your mother came from or what you would like to be called. You damn near killed my partner and cops don’t take lightly when one of their own gets hurt.”
“He’s not a cop,” Peters declared, but a flicker of uncertainty flashed over his face. “I know one when I see one.”
Ray grinned savagely. “He’s Canadian, maybe your nose isn’t so good with Canadians. You know, Mounties hunt you to the ends of the earth, but you haven’t met me yet. Now you spill how this deal is going down tonight or you’ll get to meet me.”
Ray might have bashed his nose in a little, which might have helped a little in loosening his tongue.
Peters had chosen the victim, always someone susceptible to Push, but he had only given them a little. That’s how he had gotten them outside into the alley, explaining they needed a quiet spot for the exchange.
He’d only given them enough that they would follow him into the back room, thinking he’d make it worth their while. Once inside, the victim was strapped to a chair and the games began, giving him more Push as they progressed. And once they were done, Ray shuddered at the pleasure with which Peters had described it all, they gave him something to wipe his memory and dumped him back outside in the alley.
“Showtime,” Ray murmured.
Jack’s eyes were anxious. “Be careful.”
Ray nodded. He had volunteered for this. Hell, he had begged Welsh to let him do this.
Ray used the way through the garage to get out of the club and nodded at Huey and Dewey, seated in the car at the mouth of the alley. He swallowed nervously. This was the only problem with the plan. Peters was cooling his heels in a holding cell, he couldn’t take Ray into the room.
Ray only hoped that his acting was good enough and that Takeda was foremost interested in keeping his customers happy.
Jack had already delivered a message to Philly, telling him a Mr. Morgan had called and that he would be late tonight, something about a shipment that wasn’t ready yet. Ray had watched Jack’s little show with appreciation and Philly seemed to buy it, hook, line, and sinker. Ray had no idea if Takeda had believed the story, too, though.
Too much hinged on luck with his plan, but Ray had seen no alternative. He wanted to see this through to the end.
Ray felt oddly naked with the wires underneath his shirt. He did feel a little better knowing that people were watching him. He only hoped the feds weren’t as thick-headed this time as they were at the poker game when it had been Fraser putting his life on the line.
There was no turning back now. Ray followed the hallway to the door at the end. He took a deep breath and squared his shoulders.
He pulled the door open and staggered inside with mock-confusion. “Hey, gorgeo—” He smiled vaguely at the men in the room. “Where did he go?”
Takeda’s eyes narrowed. “Who are you looking for?”
Ray leered. “Gorgeous guy, dark hair, light skin… told me we would have a good time, go somewhere a little more private.”
The four other men all shared a dirty grin, eyes roving all over Ray’s body.
“You promised us something special for tonight,” one of the men murmured appreciatively. “He looks like he can hold his own.”
Another one laughed softly. “Let’s see for how long.”
Ray grinned at them and looked confused. “Are you talking about me? Have you seen the guy I’m looking for?”
Takeda made a subtle gesture and a tall man placed iron-strong hands around Ray’s arms. Ray figured this was Mr. Morgan’s replacement.
He pushed Ray into a chair and cuffed his hands behind his back. Ray swallowed dryly. He needed to get them talking.
“Mhm, you have strong arms, too,” he looked at the tall man from underneath his lashes. “Why are you cuffing my hands?” He pulled against the cuffs.
“We need to give him more Push. I don’t want to be kicked in the groin by him,” the man to Ray’s left cautioned.
“Oh,” Ray smiled dopily. “Do you have more? I’d like to have more. Do you give Push to all the guys who come in here?”
The men smiled at each other.
“Of course, it’s much more fun that way.”
Takeda opened a small box and poured a line on the glass surface of the table. Ray gulped.
“Hey, why do you have me cuffed? And where’s the guy that brought me here? I’m not sure if I want to have fun with you,” Ray babbled, looking from one man to the next.
“Oh, but we want to. Very much. And you’ll like it too in a moment or so. You’ll see.”
The tall man behind Ray placed strong fingers on the back of his head and pushed his head against the glass surface. Ray held his breath and tried not to panic.
The next instant, all hell broke loose. The doors flew open and there were guns all over the place and a lot of shouting. Of course, the moment Ray raised his head to see what was going on was also the moment he automatically breathed in and realized with widening eyes that he was also inhaling Push, if only a small dosage of it.
Ray wanted to raise a hand to his face to brush the remaining powder from his face, but his hands were still cuffed behind his back. And no one paid much attention to Ray’s calls of “Guys! Hey, guys!” what with suspects to handcuff and evidence to secure.
By the time someone had the courtesy of releasing Ray from the handcuffs he knew why the stuff was called Push. Hell, this was like a push off a cliff—everything came into stark focus. Somehow better. More real. He felt warm and loose-limbed and everything he touched felt kind of… sexy… Ray stared fascinated at his fingers as they glided over the glass table. He liked the tingling sensation down his spine.
Shit. Ray tried to keep it together, but it was kind of distracting. Thankfully, everyone around him was busy so Ray brushed past his colleagues mirandizing the VIPs and stumbled into the almost empty club. The people had been sent out when the police had charged in and Ray made his way to the bar, feeling very much high and relaxed.
Jack beamed at him. “You did it. Thank God you’re alright.”
“I’ve been in worse scrapes,” Ray said, trying to squish the low hum of arousal. Of all the inconvenient things that could’ve happened to him…
Jack bit his lip and looked meaningfully at Ray. “There’s someone here to see you.”
Ray’s eyes followed the line of Jack’s arm and he saw Fraser standing at the end of the bar, looking a little tired, but smiling at him nonetheless.
“Frase,” Ray breathed and before he had thought about it, he engulfed Fraser in a tight hug. “You should be at the hospital,” Ray mumbled, feeling the arousal cascade in waves through his body. Fraser’s scent throbbed through his blood and the memory of his skin made Ray’s fingers tingle. He had to get out of here.
“There wasn’t anything they could do for me so I released myself. I feel fine. I’m proud of you… and thank you,” he said softly.
Fraser released him and took a step back to look at him. He did a double-take when he saw Ray’s face and his gaze moved quickly from one eye to the other when he noticed the dilated pupils.
Fraser had seen him aroused often enough to know what it looked like on Ray, so Ray figured explanations were probably redundant.
Ray watched him reach out and brush a speck of white powder from Ray’s upper lip.
“Ray, did you inhale Push?”
The smile asserted itself on Ray’s face all on its own. Damn, Fraser’s fingers had felt nice against his lip.
“Yes,” Ray replied, still smiling. “But only a little. Not enough.” This was simply the power Fraser held over him, amplified a little, but Ray would’ve been lying had he passed it all off on the effect of Push. He hadn’t been about to maul Jack, after all.
“Ray?” Fraser asked, puzzled.
“Can you drive? Can you please get us back to my place?”
“Certainly. As far as the hospital is concerned I am fully functional again.”
They met the Lieutenant outside talking to another officer, but Ray let Fraser do the talking. He promised that they would come in tomorrow for the paperwork and Ray earned a thump on the back and a ‘well done’ and then they were finally on their way home.
They climbed the stairs to Ray’s apartment and once inside, Ray flung his arms around Fraser’s neck and kissed him. He didn’t care if Fraser would push him away a second later or if Fraser didn’t feel that way about him. He had almost lost him today and arousal still sloshed through his body with every breath he took. The heat prickling underneath his skin had almost stopped though and Ray supposed that the effects of the Push were receding. Not that it made much of a difference, he thought as he inhaled deeply, filling his lungs with the way Fraser smelled.
But Fraser didn’t push him away. Quite the opposite. His arms pulled Ray close as if he might never get another chance and he kissed with an urgency that rivaled Ray’s.
“Ray…” Fraser breathed against his skin in between kisses. “Dear Ray…”
And without planning it they were moving into Ray’s bedroom. Fingers found shirt tails and hems of t-shirts and Ray found that opening someone else’s jeans while kissing them wasn’t all that complicated.
Naked, Ray pushed Fraser back on the bed and he climbed into his lap, bringing their bodies as close together as possible.
Without words, Ray handed Fraser the bottle of slick and heard his breath hitch. Ray’s mouth was captured in another kiss, drowning his moan out when slippery fingers begged for entrance. Letting Fraser in seemed like the most natural thing.
“Frase…” Ray swallowed around a dry throat and tried again. “Fraser… I…”
“Shhh…” Fraser murmured, strong hands tightening their grip on Ray’s hips. “Go slow,” Fraser murmured and Ray nodded, eyes closed, lost to feeling. Ray groaned as he lowered himself, taking Fraser in inch by inch.
Fraser’s hands smoothed over Ray’s quivering stomach muscles as Ray gasped for air. Ray settled the last inch in Fraser’s lap and opened his eyes with a shuddering breath. Ray could see the muscles in Fraser’s arms tighten as he steadied Ray’s back with one hand while he moved Ray’s feet with his other one so that they were slung behind the small of his back. Ray slid another half an inch deeper that way and he saw a small bead of sweat drip down Fraser’s temple.
“Move,” Fraser murmured into the corner of Ray’s mouth. And Ray did. He tightened the grip of arms and raised himself up, wringing a low moan from Fraser.
“Fuck,” Ray gasped and repeated the movement. He moved faster and felt Fraser’s fingers digging into his back and hip, always pulling him back down—tighter, stronger than before. He had never seen Fraser look quite like that.
The heavy-lidded eyes and the flushed cheeks, the relaxed, partially opened lips, the abandonment of anything and everything that wasn’t pure pleasure. “Oh God… Ray…” Fraser whispered breathlessly, sweaty hands roaming over Ray’s heated skin, committing every dip and curve and angle to memory.
Ray rocked again and his lips parted to take in more air. It was effortlessly, the slide against Fraser’s body, moving in tune with him. “Ray…” Fraser murmured. One of his hands left Ray’s skin to reach for the lube bottle. Ray’s heart did a little jump when he heard the ‘click’ as Fraser popped the cap.
Dark eyes focused on the bottle in Fraser’s hand and then Fraser upended the bottle and squeezed, dribbling slick onto Ray’s aching erection. Ray hissed at the cold, unable to decide whether he wanted more of it or to get away from it.
Fraser closed capable fingers around Ray’s cock, spreading the slick over the whole length.
“Oh God… oh God… Fraser…” Ray chanted, the eyes closed, biting his lip as if in concentration. Ray’s body flowed in a fluid arc, impaling himself and then arching up into Fraser’s fist.
“Ray, you’re…” Fraser licked his lips. “…my god… Ray…”
With a sound like a sob Ray dug his fingers into Fraser’s back and raised his hips at a frantic pace. Fraser tightened the grip of his fist and felt the muscles in Ray’s thighs jump as his whole body tensed. He felt Ray push down hard as his body shuddered with the force of his climax, his chest heaving as he tried to catch his breath.
Fraser was biting his lip, gathering the last shreds of willpower to keep holding on. Ray’s kiss was sudden and wet, his tongue filled Fraser’s mouth as if he was trying to taste his soul. Fraser’s arms came up to support Ray’s back and Ray limply followed the push of Fraser’s body, going over backwards and taking Fraser with him.
Suddenly, Fraser’s weight was pushing Ray into the mattress and Fraser rolled his hips, pushing deep into Ray and Ray gasped, fingers leaving red streaks on the moist skin of Fraser’s back. “Oh… yes… Fraser, please…” Ray mumbled, his hips coming up to meet Fraser’s thrust without any conscious thought.
Harder, Fraser slammed in, burying his face in the crook of Ray’s shoulder. He was murmuring something into Ray’s skin, but Ray couldn’t make any of it out, and then Fraser pushed in again with a broken moan on his lips, buried deep inside of Ray as he came, arms shaking with the strain of supporting him.
Ray lay there, eyes closed, just breathing. He had no idea what had just happened. It hadn’t felt like a charade at all to him. And if Fraser didn’t feel like that about him then why had he kissed him so desperately when they had reached the apartment?
Why hadn’t he pushed Ray away? Why had he made love to him?
Fraser’s breath stirred the soft hairs on Ray’s arm. Slowly, Ray opened his eyes to look at him. Fraser was propping his head up with one hand and his other was just a hairbreadth away from touching Ray’s skin. Ray watched Fraser’s hand as it slowly crept closer, caressing the soft skin of Ray’s stomach with the barest of touches.
A sad smile played around the corner of Fraser’s mouth.
“I believe I owe you an explanation,” Fraser sighed quietly. “I was surprised when I found out that you wanted to explore this side of yourself.”
He didn’t look particularly happy about it, though, Ray thought.
“My decision to indulge you in this need was not completely selfless, however.”
Ray frowned, but Fraser was busy watching the movements of his hands.
Fraser bit his lip and his hand stopped for a short moment. “I can understand that there is a certain urge to experiment when one first finds out that attraction is a much broader field than one had initially thought. It is only natural to look for someone close to oneself for this and I am honored that you trusted me with it… But I know I should never have said ‘yes’ when you propositioned me because—”
Anger flashed through Ray. He was not about to have a repeat of last time.
“Damn right you shouldn’t have,” Ray snapped. “Poor Ray needs someone to experiment with, how noble of you. And it’s just sex, right? Just a charade,” Ray spat. “Of course, it doesn’t mean anything to you. Why should it? Well, guess what? It meant something to me,” Ray exclaimed angrily. “It means the world to me,” he added quietly, suddenly more nervous than angry.
Fraser’s eyes widened in shock and Ray realized that this was indeed news to Fraser.
“Oh dear. Ray, you misunderstood… when I called it a charade I didn’t mean that it meant nothing to me. Rather the opposite, I’m afraid; it was acting like it was merely sex to me that turned it into a charade.”
“Wait, what?” Ray stared dumbfounded at Fraser.
“Ray, this is probably rather late to tell you, but I have been attracted to you right from the start. I just never thought you might return my feelings… and when you were suddenly curious I… I couldn’t pass up on the chance. I’m sorry for deceiving you.”
“Fraser… Ben…” Ray felt like kicking himself. “It was you that made me think gay things, that made me, er… curious.”
Fraser smiled. “You know, Ray, bisexual is not a dirty word.”
Ray paused. Fraser still wasn’t listening to what he was trying to tell him. “You still don’t get it, do you?” How could someone as brilliant as Fraser be so thick?
Fraser’s smile trailed off and he sighed. “I do understand, Ray. Certain sexual encounters leave an emotional attachment and first times of any kind are prime examples of that. I am telling you that there is no need to assume this is something more than mere curiosity on your part. Pheromones and endorphins create a bond that makes you believe you feel something for me when in reality this feeling is only a result of the intimacy that we shared.”
Ray wanted to smack him. Good, he had been afraid this urge would vanish when he fell in love with him.
“Damn it!” Ray snarled. He pushed Fraser flat on his back and leaned over him.
“I tried to tell you that this was all you. I wasn’t curious about other guys and turned to you to find out, okay? I wanted to kiss you, get it? Before we ever ended up making love I wanted to be the one to kiss you, to touch you, hell—I couldn’t stop thinking about you!”
Fraser opened his mouth and closed it again. His tongue flicked out to wet his bottom lip. “Make love?” He asked in a scratchy voice.
Ray felt the heat steal up his neck and cursed silently. “Yes, you freak.”
Fraser smiled softly. “You didn’t let me finish before.” He cupped Ray’s head and pulled him down. When their lips were almost touching, he murmured, “I’m sorry for not being honest with you right from the start. I should have told you that I was already in love with you when you first asked me.” Ray fell into the kiss with abandon. Gasping, Ray broke away, rubbing his renewed erection helplessly against Fraser’s hip, but Fraser was in a similarly aroused state.
“Ray,” he moaned. “Are you sure this isn’t the drug talking?”
Ray rolled his hips to brush their cocks together. He gasped for breath before he had enough air to answer. “I think… ah… I think the effect wore off sometime after we climbed the stairs to my place, told you it wasn’t much.”
“Good,” Fraser panted and reversed their positions.
“Greatness.” Ray signed his statement with a flourish. God, it felt good to put the jerks behind bars.
Dewey walked past and remarked, “Are you sure you won’t miss the nights at the gay club, all those guys trying to pick you up?”
Fraser seemed ready to break up a fight, but Ray only leaned back in his chair and looked at Dewey. “Why? I see you every day. Besides, I think you’ll find someone else at the club to make a pass at—but I’m touched you’d miss me.”
Dewey spluttered and Huey laughed. Ray winked at Fraser and pulled him along the hallway towards the exit. It had taken longer to get all the Is dotted and all the Ts crossed, but one week later they were finally able to close the file.
“What do you think? For old time’s sake?” Ray asked as he stopped the car on their way back from a late dinner.
Fraser smiled softly and then nodded.
They entered the Skydeep together. Ray was happy the club had been able to stay open. The ownership was still questionable since everyone involved with Meissner & Fish had been convicted, but Ray was sure someone would buy the place and keep it running.
Even without Push circulating the club it was packed and it took Ray a moment to reach the bar.
“Hey,” he grinned at Jack.
Jack’s eyes widened when he caught sight of him. His whoop of joy was probably even heard outside.
“St—Ray, I mean. How have you been? Wait.” He pushed a beer in front of Ray. “This is on me. Man, it’s good to see you.”
“Can I have a water, too?” Ray cocked his head in the direction where Fraser was waiting.
Jack’s mouth dropped open a tiny bit. “You didn’t!”
Ray’s lip twitched. “Maybe I did.”
“All the good guys are either straight or taken,” he sighed wistfully, sliding a glass of water over to Ray.
“Thank you,” Ray smiled.
“So there’s no chance to get you back behind the bar, huh?”
“Not at the moment,” Ray laughed.
“Pity. Drop by now and then… and bring Baby Blues with you, he’s good for business.”
Ray shook his head with a grin and went back to Fraser.
Ray placed their drinks on a nearby table and crowded Fraser against the wall. Fraser’s eyes sparkled with amusement.
“Yes, Ray?” he asked politely.
“You have no idea how often I had to watch some other guy coming on to you.” Ray brushed his lips against Fraser’s and heard the sharp intake of breath.
“You have no idea how many nights I spent watching Jack coming on to you,” Fraser murmured back, claiming his mouth for a kiss.
“Well, what are you going to do about it?” Ray smiled and touched Fraser’s ear with his lips as he spoke. Fraser’s grip on him tightened.
“You just wait until we get home,” Fraser promised, his crooked tooth showing at the corner, a flash of white in a room of shadow.
Ray shivered. “Can we go now?”
Fraser’s pleased laughter made Ray feel warm all over.