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The Secret

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The snow was softly falling, but it wasn't just falling outside in pretty white, Christmas-movie-of-the-week flakes. In her heart, the snow had been falling for some time. Maybe it would've been easier to avoid the weather if she hadn't seen the way Ray acted around certain men. Yet Stella had known Ray for far too long.

She knew, more than anyone else, the one thing he would never admit. She just didn't think it was worth mentioning to him; if he hadn't figured it out for himself, it wasn't her place to point it out to him. There were a hundred other things that had played into the freezing of her heart where Ray was concerned, the foremost among them being that she wanted a career and he wanted children. That, however, didn't stop her awareness of the fact. Sometimes, she even admitted that it had been a deciding factor in not wanting his children.

Now, standing just on the threshold of the squad room, watching him interacting with Fraser, she wondered if he realized he was in love. The part of her that would always love Ray cracked with the strain of holding back and for one long moment, she ached with the knowledge. For a long moment, she wanted to shake him, wanted to make him listen as she once had to power to do, wanted to demand an accounting for his sensibilities.

Who did he think he was to fall for the one man he could never have? Unless Stella was seriously mistaken, Fraser wasn't like Ray. Another man would never turn the Mountie's head unless that man was in the middle of committing a crime. Duty was that man's lover; no one would ever replace that. She didn't need any further confirmation of that than the man's dedication. Even across the crowded squad room, she could see the military set of his shoulders, the rigid way he held himself even while seated.

Moreover, wasn't it just a few short weeks ago that Ray had been telling her that he would always love her? That night at her apartment, being in his arms, kissing him, feeling like they had somehow stepped out of time and there was no divorce between them, no irreconcilable differences... well, she would be lying to herself if she didn't admit she had hated to be the voice of reason that night. For that singular space in time, she'd felt safe... secure... loved... comfortably so in a way that had always been Ray's and hers alone. It wasn't a feeling she felt all that often anymore.

It wasn't really fair to think that he'd somehow been lying, had wanted her as an odd sort of substitute for the one he really wanted. He'd been truly upset that Fraser had interrupted them, though he got over his irritation when he realized Fraser had saved their lives.

She closed her eyes, took a deep breath, and shoved the odd feeling of jealousy away.

Resolutely, she strode forward. What she had shared with Ray was past. What he did with his future and who he did it with was none of her business unless it collided with hers. Out of respect for their long-standing friendship, she would keep his secrets, let him discover the truth on his own. With an almost rueful smile, she acknowledged that he was the detective; he could figure it out in time.