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Tactics in Amnesia Recovery Operations

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Fraser waits a week after the incident with the amnesia to confront Ray.

He tells himself that it’s prudence, giving him time to prepare, though a small part of him worries that it’s mostly cowardice and uncertainty instead. The thing is, Fraser does remember the entire experience. He remembers the entire barrage of comments Ray made that had seemed normal at the time, but now, in light of his recovered memory, still baffle him.

Some of it, he doesn’t even think they can discuss; he’s fairly certain Ray would balk at bringing her into any conversation, and for his part, Fraser would be happy to never see that particular revolving door again in his life.

But there are other things - things that gnaw at him as he lies awake at night, or stares down the field manual drafts he’s supposed to review at the Consulate, or gazes out the window of Ray’s car. That, and the overwhelming desire he has for honesty, those things manage to push him forward.

So at the end of the day he invites Ray up to his flat for a cup of tea. (Ray never drinks the tea, of course, just leaves it to get cold as he talks and gesticulates and laughs - and Fraser’s never found it odd before, but maybe that’s just another sign that he’s come to the right conclusions.)

“Ray,” he says when Ray has just finished a story about his nephew and a rather unfortunate accident involving a baseball and a window, “I need to ask you something.”

“Uh, okay,” Ray says, puzzled. “What is it?”

“Ray, when I’d lost my memory, you told me I had slept with your sister.”

Fortunately, he seems to have forgotten Fraser’s little post-amnesia lie – really, tricks of memory have been working largely in Fraser’s favor recently. Ray just groans, rubbing his forehead with one hand. “Christ, Benny, do we really have to talk about this again? You have no idea how much I do not want to know the details of your and Francesca’s night of passion.” He makes a face. “Ugh, even saying that aloud makes me want to gag.”

“But Ray, that’s just it,” Fraser says, trying to impress the urgency of the statement upon Ray. He wishes he’d been better trained for this sort of thing. Instructions on wilderness survival were all well and good, but where was the RCMP standard-issue field manual on Techniques of Effective Heart-to-Hearts? “You were wrong. We didn’t.”

Ray looks at him sharply. “What?”

Fraser shifts, uncomfortable. “Francesca and I – we didn’t – you know.”

Ray gapes at him, mouth bobbing open in a way that would probably be comical in any other context. “Then why on earth didn’t you tell me that?”

“I…didn’t know what she had said, what she had told people,” Fraser said, voice quieter than he wants it to be. “I didn’t want to embarrass her by contradicting whatever she had said.”

“And you couldn’t have just asked her?”

Fraser flushes, looking at his feet. “It didn’t seem proper.”

Ray closes his eyes, giving a little snort. “‘It didn’t seem proper.’ God, Benny. You are really something.”

“I’m sorry, Ray.”

Which just makes Ray open his eyes again and glare at him. “I mean, this is exactly what I’m saying - you really need to be able to stick up for yourself, Fraser. Especially with people like Frannie – you know she always goes for exactly what she wants, no matter who gets run over in the process.”

Despite himself, Fraser feels a little affronted. “You know I am quite capable of being assertive, Ray.”

“When you’re coming to someone else’s defense, sure. For yourself?” Ray shakes his head. “I don’t think so.”

“As you are well aware, I often stand up for myself in arguments with you –”

“I don’t count.”

“– and my father, and Diefenbaker –”

“They don’t count either!”

Fraser is inclined to dispute that, but instead he comes upon a much more persuasive example, “– and Inspector Thatcher!”

That, evidently, gives Ray pause. “…really?”

Fraser gives an emphatic nod. “Yes, Ray.” The only problem is, that particular example reminds him of another confession he is honor-bound to make. “Though, in the interest of complete disclosure, I should clarify that some of this aforementioned self-assertion came in the form of a libidinous act that, frankly, bore more similarity to the assumptions that you had made about myself and your sister.”

Ray takes a minute to sort that out, then boggles at him again. “You slept with the Dragon Lady?”

“No!” Fraser says hurriedly. “But we did share a…moment. On the train. Quite literally, since we were, in fact, on the roof of the train at the time.”

“A moment.”

“Yes.”

“What kind of a moment are we talking about here?” says Ray, spreading his hands out in front of him. “A deep, longing gaze kind of moment, or a macking on each other kind of moment?”

Fraser feels briefly tempted to pretend that he doesn’t understand the slang, but he’s not sure he wants to draw this out any longer than necessary. On the one hand, he’s glad that Ray is not upset at him again; on the other, if Fraser’s current hypothesis is correct, why is Ray not upset at him? “The, uh, latter, Ray.”

“I gotta say, Benny, I am impressed,” Ray says, giving a slow whistle.

Honestly, Fraser is not sure if he should feel flattered by that or not. “In any case, Ray,” he says, feeling a spark of impatience starting to prick at him, “the point is that all of these examples, combined with my recent amnesic experience, have brought me to the conclusion that there is something I should ‘stick up for myself’ for, with you.”

Ray frowns. “Me?”

“Yes, and with something else that you said when I was memory-impaired.”

Fraser’s not sure if Ray can sense the seriousness of his tone, or if Fraser is just fabricating a suitably dramatic ambience for himself, but he could swear that the atmosphere in his small apartment thickens. Ray is still frowning, but he seems jittery as well, walking over to the window and drumming his fingers on the sill. When Ray speaks, Fraser thinks that his tone of exasperation is merely put-on to hide an underlying sense of worry – at least, he hopes so. “Yeah, what is it, Fraser?”

“You said,” Fraser tells him, feeling the words scratch not-unpleasantly in his throat, “that I looked good in my uniform.”

Ray blinks at him, but Fraser can tell that underneath his nonchalance, his expression is guarded. “Yeah, so?”

Fraser takes a deep breath. “I’m given to understand that for many people, such an observation would be an indicator of…attraction.”

He’s expecting some kind of denial – a joke, perhaps, or even a curt dismissal. Something for Ray to deflect the implied question. Instead, Ray narrows his eyes and says, “What do you mean, you’re ‘given to understand’? And ‘for many people’? Are you excluding yourself from that description, Fraser?”

“Well…in a sense.”

The look Ray is giving him now is flat, skeptical. “You’re going to have to explain that a little more, Benny.”

Fraser sighs. “It seems I don’t experience attraction in the manner that is commonly accepted or conventional. I rarely find myself drawn to the physical characteristics of strangers who would be considered conventionally good-looking, for instance.” He runs a thumbnail over his eyebrow. “I don’t know why – until recently, I’d never given it much thought.”

“So, what? You’re saying you were never attracted to – Thatcher?” says Ray, though Fraser is almost certain that wasn’t the name he’d originally wanted to say.

“No, no, I was.”

“But you said –”

“Only after we had built up some kind of connection, rapport,” Fraser tries to explain. “I don’t quite know how to describe it, Ray. I do have…desires. But it appears that I have to come to know and feel for someone first.” Fraser shifts, knowing that Ray must be able to see how uncomfortable he is. Trying to say this aloud is both a relief and another constricting fear – Fraser’s never felt so helpless with his own words.

And maybe he went about this the wrong way; maybe it wasn’t reasonable to expect Ray to understand Fraser’s way of thinking. So far, he’s been surprised by each revelation, but it is this last one that Fraser fears will elicit disbelief or derision, the kind of verbal blow that Ray wouldn’t even know the power of.

It doesn’t come. Ray looks thoughtful – confused, certainly, but without any appearance of judgment. “Basically, you’re telling me that that along with your countless other virtues, you like people for what’s on the inside,” says Ray, impossibly cracking a smile. “Really, Benny, couldn’t you have had the decency to at least be as shallow as the rest of the human race?”

His tone is light, teasing, but with obvious affection, and Fraser feels a sudden rush of gratitude for the easy way that Ray accepts not only every crazy task that Fraser throws at him, but every little thing about Fraser himself. And perhaps Fraser could leave it here, let Ray believe that this is a heartfelt confession of another way that Fraser finds himself different from the rest of the world – let Ray believe that he has no part to play except to watch and support Fraser, to boost him up.

But the fact that Ray would settle for that, if Fraser asked him to, makes Fraser even more determined to see this confession through.

“You also said,” Fraser continues, trying to get back to his original point, “that the reason we’re friends is because each of us is incomplete, but together, we’re better than we are apart.”

Just like that, Ray’s smile dies again, so quickly that Fraser feels a jolt of panic shoot through him. He can see Ray swallow. “Yeah?”

“Did you mean that, Ray?” Fraser asks, stepping forward.

“Would I have said it if I didn’t mean it?” Ray says, throwing up his hands. “God, Benny, what’s with the Spanish Inquisition, here? Every time I think you’ve wrapped up your questions, you just plow right on. Do you even have a point to go with all of this?”

“Yes,” says Fraser, and steps even closer to Ray. “You look good in your suit too.”

Ray’s jaw dropping still isn’t comical, but this time it manages to be satisfying in a way that Fraser can’t entirely explain. “You – what?”

“I said,” Fraser says, leaning in to repeat the words just into the curve of Ray’s ear; he can somehow hear that his voice has pitched itself low, throaty, and Ray himself is shivering ever so slightly. “I think you look good in your suit too, Ray.”

Ray makes a frustrated noise in the back of his throat, a you’re the most annoying man in the entire world kind of noise, and launches himself at Fraser.

Fraser isn’t quite prepared, and stumbles backwards into a pillar; in fact, he is almost entirely unprepared, even though he’s been thinking about this for days, ever since Ray had said incomplete and Fraser had been hit with the realization. But nothing could have prepared for him for the way Ray squirms against him, the hot press of Ray’s leg between his thighs, the way his own hands clutch at Ray’s shirt, the taste, oh god, of Ray’s mouth. If he had to write a manual on Emergency Preparedness For Being Kissed By Ray Vecchio, the only thing Fraser could say would be practical experience highly encouraged.

Ray breaks away from him, breathing heavily, and only extensive training in simulating a statue gives Fraser enough discipline to keep from trying to follow Ray’s mouth. “Fuck, Benny,” Ray says.

“Ray, language,” Fraser admonishes, though secretly he agrees with the sentiment.

Ray just laughs, rubbing a hand over his head. “I’ll say it again: you really are something, Benny. Also, I can’t believe you tried to seduce me by starting a conversation about my sister.”

“Well, you kissed me, Ray,” Fraser points out.

“That’s kind of the definition of seduction, Fraser – you compelling me to make the first move, so that you can put all the blame on me.”

Fraser considers this. “But I don’t think there’s anything I want to blame you for.”

Ray’s exasperated tone is belied by his almost blinding smile. “Yeah, well, next time, try a different strategy, okay, Benny?”

“Alright, Ray,” says Fraser, already sketching out a draft in his mind. It may take extensive research, but this is an activity for which, he thinks, he can more than adequately prepare.