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Lessons Learned

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It was fall in the Yukon and Benton Fraser and his partner, in more ways than one, Ray Kowalski were chopping wood for the upcoming winter. It was an unusually warm day for this time of year. Beads of sweat were forming on Ray’s brow. He swiped a grimy hand across his forehead to dislodge some of the moisture. He could see sweat droplets running down the length of Fraser’s neck, glistening in the sun along their journey under the collar of his faded blue t- shirt. Ray stood back, taking a momentary break from stacking wood, admiring Fraser’s muscles under his damp t-shirt.

“Hey,” Ray called to Fraser. “I’m uh… gonna go get some iced tea. You want a glass?”

Fraser stood up tall and placed the ax over his shoulder. Ray shuddered, ‘God, what he doesn’t do to me.’

“Tea would be great, Ray. Thank you kindly.” Fraser’s smile was easy as he rested for a moment.

“I’ll be right back, then.” Ray retreated to the cabin as Fraser resumed chopping wood. He poured two tall glasses of iced tea and grabbed two apples out of the fruit bowl off the counter. They had been chopping and stacking wood for the better part of an hour and Ray was ready for a break.

He dropped his sunglasses back over his eyes as he stepped out into the sunshine and fresh air. “Hey, Ben… I have our tea. Come take a break with me.” Ray took a seat on the step to the porch and leaned his head back, basking in the sun. “God, Ben, what a beautiful day.”

Fraser dropped his ax into a chunk of wood and worked the aches out of his shoulders and neck. “The weather is perfect this time of year.” He took off his gloves and unconsciously wiped his brow on the sleeve of his shirt. Fraser walked over to where Ray was sitting on the porch step and leaned over his partner, quickly capturing his cold, wet lips in a kiss. “Mmm, you taste like spearmint.”

“And you’re all sweaty… just the way I like you.” Ray returned Fraser’s kiss and then patted the porch step beside him. “Have a seat, relax a little… apple?”

Fraser smiled at him, accepting the apple and glass of tea. “Have you seen Diefenbaker and Liaison?” he asked curiously.

Ray scanned the horizon and spotted the two half- wolves in the distance. “Way over there.” Ray pointed to the left where he spotted Dief. “Ben, what are they doing?”

Fraser followed Ray’s outstretched hand and watched as Diefenbaker and Liaison were pouncing on what appeared to be a large hare. “Well, now I’ve seen it all.”

Perplexed, Ray looked at Fraser and then back to the wolves. “What?”

“Ray… I think Dief is teaching Liaison how to hunt.” Fraser beamed proudly. “I was certain the city had ruined him.”

“Really? Looks like they are playing with the poor thing.”

“No, that is how parents teach their young. I’m quite impressed. Dief hasn’t shown any signs of hunting since we’ve been back home.”

“You can take a wolf out of the snow, but you can never take the Northwest Areas…”

“Territories,” Fraser corrected with a loving smile.

“Territories,” Ray repeated with a roll of the eyes, “Out of the wolf. I do that on purpose you know.” Ray returned the gesture with a bump to Fraser’s shoulder and a quick kiss.

“I know.” Fraser pulled him closer and deepened his kiss. “Come on, let’s finish up and then grab a shower.”

“Together?” Ray raised an eyebrow.

“Of course, we need to conserve water after all.” Fraser teased.

“I’ve taught you well, Benton Fraser.”

 

After chopping and stacking wood, Ben and Ray shared a shower. They scrubbed the dirt and grime from each other’s bodies before exploring each other in more intimate ways. When the water began to run cold, they made the joint decision to finish things in bed later that night. With a swat to Fraser’s backside, Ray stepped out of the shower, wrapping a towel around his waist. He tossed one to Fraser and then pulled him close.

“Round two in our bedroom later… don’t be late.” Ray stroked Ben’s cheek with his thumb.

“I wouldn’t dream of it, Ray.”

 

Fraser started dinner while Ray phoned Vecchio. He was beaming that Dief was teaching Liaison something important and he wanted to share it with his friend. Fraser smiled from the kitchen as he watched Ray’s animated form pace back and forth in the living room. He was talking with his hands as he explained to his friend how Dief was teaching his son how to hunt.

“You should have seen it, Ray… Dief was showing him how to stop the rabbit and pounce on it. Ben didn’t think he had any hunting skills left in him anymore, but Dief proved him wrong. I thought all Liaison was going to do those first few months was chew up everything in sight. Who would have thought a dog could chew through so much stuff.”

Ray listened to Vecchio tell his own stories of his puppy, Jefferson. “Like father, like son,” he said into the phone. He glanced into the kitchen and caught Fraser staring at him. “Jefferson’s swiping doughnuts,” he mouthed quietly. Fraser rolled his eyes and chuckled. He left Ray to his conversation and went back to finishing dinner.

 

Later that evening, Ray snuggled up against Fraser’s warm body on the couch. He pulled the green afghan from behind him and covered up. “Brrr, it got chilly this evening,” he snuggled closer to Fraser, trying to share his warmth. Ben wrapped an arm Ray’s lean body and pulled him closer. The two fell into an amicable silence. Listening to each other breath, the drifted off to sleep.

Behind the couch, Diefenbaker was belly to the floor, stalking towards the kitchen. Liaison was following behind, but didn’t quite have the belly to the floor stalker approach mastered.

Ben opened his eyes when he heard a table chair being scooted across the floor. He nudged Ray awake. “Shhh,” he whispered in Ray’s ear. “I think they are hunting your doughnuts you left on the table.”

Ray threw the blanket back and sat up quickly. “Diefenbaker! Paws off!”

Dief and Liaison scampered out of the kitchen quickly, but not before each had a doughnut dangling from his jaws.

“Sometimes you just can’t take Chicago out of the wolf…” Fraser settled back into the couch and pulled a defeated Ray against him. “Like father, like son…”