Rated NC-17 for M/M sex. As usual, Benton Fraser and Ray Kowalski belong to Alliance/Atlantis, not me. *sniffle*. Don't go looking for deep meaning, this is just a PWP. Nothing here to burden a reader's cerebral cortex. (What can I say? Sometimes girls just wanna write smut.) Inspired by Kalena & Purna's "Punch." Once I read that, I couldn't stop thinking about what it would be like to turn the equation around. :-) Thanks for the inspiration, guys! I also owe Kalena for the title. Much thanks to Ardent, Beth H. and Betty for beta!

Soundtrack: Seven Nations: Wonderful, Up To Me, Asleep For Days, Jump Start, Last Call, Train. Gin Blossoms: Found Out About You.



Scotch Courage
2002 Kellie Matthews

Fraser walked into the bar and looked around, squinting a little in the smoky darkness, but after a moment he spotted his prey: He didn't immediately spot Albert Hanrahan's bald head, but Ray's blond spikes were unmistakable, if a tad less deliberate than usual. He was sitting alone at a table for two, and judging by the glassware, Albert was only temporarily absent. Fraser wove his way among the other tables, only having to turn once to level an admonitory look at the fiftyish woman with excessive amounts of badly-dyed brunette hair who had fondled his posterior. Finally he came to a stop beside the table.

"Hello Ray."

"Fraaaaser!" Ray said cheerfully. "Buddy! Siddown, have a. . . " he picked up the bottle of scotch that sat on the table and tipped it over a glass, then realized it was empty and put it back down. "'s broken. Sorry." He looked around. "Where's Dief?"

"He's spending the night at Francesca's, visiting Ante."

"Oh. Hey, if they had puppies would they be wolfoodles? Poolves?" He shook his head, making a face. "Yeesh."

Fraser stared at him. The concept was somewhat mindboggling. Fortunately Albert walked up just then, distracting him.

"There you are, Mr. Fraser!" He sounded relieved. "Good of you to come."

"I got here as quickly as I could after you called. You said there was a problem?" Fraser said, watching Ray, who appeared to be trying to make an origami . . . something. . . out of a bar napkin. He frowned. "Ray appears to be inebriated."

Ray shook his head, and made little flapping motions with his surprisingly well-executed bird. "Not knee-brated. Just flyin' a li'l."

Albert gave a disgusted sigh, and motioned Fraser close, lowering his voice confidentially. "I had no idea the boy was such a lightweight! Only half a bottle and look at him! He certainly can't be allowed to drive like that. He really ought to come with a warning label!"

Fraser thought so, too, though he was sure for entirely different reasons. "Ray rarely drinks anything stronger than beer. What on earth possessed him to drink half a bottle of scotch?"

Albert drew himself up regally to his full five-foot-four. "Until today, the most games anyone has ever won from me in a row was seven. When that happened, in nineteen-sixty-two, I made a solemn vow that if anyone ever broke that record, I'd take them out to celebrate with a bottle of Lagavulin. Tonight, Ray won his eighth straight game, so we had to fulfill the terms of my vow."

"Ah. I see." Fraser supposed he understood. A vow was a vow after all, no matter how imprudent. Ray would regret it in the morning, no doubt, but eventually the memory would be fond nonetheless. "Well, then, I'll see to getting him home. Where are his keys?"

Albert gestured irritably at the bartender. "Toby's got 'em. He wouldn't let us have the bottle until Ray forked 'em over."

"An excellent idea. I'll just go fetch them. May I give you a ride home as well?"

"No, Leora there is going to take me home." Albert waved at a svelte redhead in her twenties who was sitting at the bar watching them avidly, and then he turned back to Fraser. "She thinks I'm a tycoon," he said with a wink.

Fraser suppressed a smile. "Ah. Well, you're rich in friends."

Albert guffawed. "That I am, Benton, that I am. Now, take your friend and get him out of my. . . well, I'd say hair but that would be silly, now wouldn't it?"

Fraser chuckled. "Somewhat. I'll just take Ray home now, and thank you for calling me."

"Not at all. I knew you'd be upset if I didn't."

Fraser turned to Ray, who was making his origami bird swoop and dive as he voiced an annoying screeching sound. "That's quite an interesting bird you have there, Ray," he said, trying to distract him into being quiet.

"'s Rodan, not a bird."

"Rodin?" Fraser asked, puzzled. "The French sculptor?" He didn't recall that Rodin had sculpted birds, and besides, Ray had once declared rather emphatically that sculpture did not turn his crank.

Ray rolled his eyes. "No, Rodan." He waved the bird and screeched again. "The petro. . . terror. . . um. . . flying mutant dinosaur thing?"

"Pterodactyl?" Fraser ventured.

Ray nodded. "Yeah. That."

Fraser eyed the cocktail-napkin creature. "Ah. I see. Well, perhaps you'd like to bring your friend Rodan out to the car?"

"Why?"

"Well, because it's time to go."

Ray looked around. "Alber's not going," he said, with a hint of petulance.

"He will be as soon as he's sure of your safe departure." He looked around, and decided to risk a minor equivocation since he had a feeling if he didn't, they might be there all night as he tried to explain to Ray why they needed to leave. "You see, the good people who work here would like to close up and go home and get some rest."

Ray contemplated that for a few moments, and then nodded. "Oh. Okay."

Fraser breathed a quiet sigh of relief and hoped that Ray was too drunk to think of looking at his watch, as it lacked two hours to closing yet. Ray stood up, swaying a bit, and shook his head.

"Whoa," he said, putting a hand on Fraser's shoulder for balance. "Was I boxing?"

"No, Ray, you were playing chess. And drinking."

"Oh. Right." Ray turned and looked at Albert. "Good game."

"An outstanding game, my friend, and I thank you," Albert said with a slight bow. "But don't think you'll win next time." He shook a finger at Ray warningly.

Ray smirked. "'s what you think!"

"And on that note, we'll take our leave," Fraser said, deciding it was time.

He began to steer Ray toward the door. However, Ray's legs were clearly less than cooperative, so he ended up sliding an arm around Ray's waist and pulling Ray's arm across his own shoulders in order to keep him steady. Thus entwined, Fraser made a wide detour around the brunette's table, stopped at the bar to retrieve Ray's keys from the bartender, and eventually they reached the door.

When they stepped out into the cool night air, Ray stopped, leaned into him, and took a deep breath. "Smell good."

"Yes, well, it was rather stuffy in there," Fraser said, trying to ignore the fact that Ray's nose was buried in the collar of his leather jacket. "Perhaps you should search out a non-smoking establishment next time."

"Mm. Make you go with."

Fraser didn't really see how that would help matters, but then, Ray wasn't exactly coherent. "Where did you park?"

Ray lifted his head from Fraser's shoulder and looked around, orienting himself. "There." He pointed with his chin at a parking lot across the street.

Fraser followed the gesture, and saw the GTO's sleek form where it was parked directly under the single streetlight that graced the lot. It almost glowed, light reflecting endlessly in seven layers of gloss black. Somehow it didn't surprise him that Ray could still find his car, drunk as he was. Ray's affinity for his car was nearly supernatural, perhaps akin to a homing pigeon's directional sense. He re-settled his arm around Ray's waist, and Ray obligingly moved closer as Fraser began to walk them toward the car. It should have been clumsy, but it wasn't. It was . . . like dancing. Only not so awkward. It was easy. Good. Perfect.

Lord. Anyone would think he'd been drinking.

He walked Ray around to the passenger side door and unlocked it, opened it, then stepped back. "There you are."

Ray looked from the open door to Fraser. "You driving?"

Fraser nodded. "I thought it best."

Ray looked at the car and contemplated the idea. Fraser braced for an argument. After a few seconds Ray lifted his gaze and looked at Fraser very solemnly.
"Okay."

The fact that Ray hadn't put up even a token argument stunned him, and he found himself smiling at Ray mindlessly. Ray smiled back. They stood like that for some time, until the sound of a passing bus brought him to his senses. He shook his head and put his hand on Ray's shoulder, urging him into the car. Ray ducked to avoid the door-frame and settled into the seat. Fraser headed around to the other side, opened the door, and got in. Despite the fact they were much of a height, he had to adjust the seat slightly. Ray carried more of his height in his legs. He glanced over, his gaze moving up Ray's long thighs for a moment before he resolutely turned his attention to adjusting the mirrors, and then starting the car.

The engine purred to life without hesitation, and for a moment as he pulled out into the street, he thought he might just understand Ray's attachment. It was rather like riding some sort of sleek, powerful animal. He glanced at Ray again, only to find Ray was watching him intently. Flustered, he managed to grind the gears as he shifted from first to second gear. He winced, expecting Ray to scold him, but instead he felt a warm hand settle over his on the gearshift. Ray left it there as Fraser accelerated, making him wonder what he was doing, until he spoke softly.

"Clutch in."

Swallowing hard, Fraser clutched, and Ray smoothly guided his hand, and by extension the gearshift, into place.

"Ease off."

Fraser let off on the clutch carefully, and the car transitioned without a grind or a lurch. Ray patted his hand, then he left his hand there, thumb idly tracing the tendons on the back of Fraser's hand. Not as if he were worried about Fraser's next shift, but simply as if he . . . liked it there. It was disconcerting, and he regretted it a few moments later when he had to slip his hand out from under Ray's in order to put both hands on the wheel for a turn. Except that then Ray put his hand on Fraser's thigh instead. That was even more disconcerting. Especially when his thumb started that idle stroking there too.

Somehow Fraser managed to get them back to Ray's apartment without incident. He wasn't quite sure how. He got Ray up the stairs, not an easy task as, predictably, his jeans were just really too snug to be anything but uncomfortable after Ray's . . . fondling. He finally got them to the door, and then was stymied trying to figure out which of the myriad keys on the key ring belonged to the locks. None of them seemed to work. After trying every key, he finally held up the ring.

"Which keys are they?"

"Hmm?" Ray leaned on Fraser, his fingers skimming back and forth over the short-cropped hair at the back of Fraser's neck as he squinted at the ring. "For what?"

"For the door, Ray." Fraser shivered as Ray's fingers evoked a sensation that couldn't be called a chill.

"Oh." Ray peered closer. "None of 'em."

"Excuse me?"

"Wrong ring." Ray cocked his hip and dug in his pocket.

Fraser watched the outline of Ray's fingers move beneath the fabric of his slacks as he searched for his keys. When Ray removed his hand from his pocket, Fraser was suddenly aware that fingers weren't the only thing he could see. Flushing hotly, he jerked his gaze upward to where Ray dangled a different set of keys.

"Here," he said amiably. "These."

He dropped the ring. Fraser barely managed to catch it. His hands were shaking a little as he fumbled the first key he came to into the lock, and felt a disproportionate surge of relief when it turned out to be the right one. He got the door open and urged Ray into the apartment with a hand on the small of his back, and then turned to close and lock the door behind them. When he swung back around, he couldn't keep himself from colliding with Ray, who had apparently not moved an inch further into the room after Fraser had taken his hand away.

Ray wobbled unsteadily and Fraser grabbed him to keep him from falling over. Startled, Ray tried to pull away, which put Fraser off-balance as well, and after a moment of wild flailing and clutching they somehow ended up nose-to-nose with Fraser's back against the door and Ray pressed full-length against him. Fraser hoped like hell that his erection had subsided enough, or that Ray was drunk enough, that it wasn't noticeable.

Ray leaned against him, staring at him with an oddly solemn expression, showing no sign that he intended to move any time soon. After a few seconds, Fraser cleared his throat.

"Ray?"

"Yeah?"

"Perhaps you'd like to . . . move?" Fraser prompted.

Ray thought about that for a moment, and then he moved.

Fraser gasped. That hadn't exactly been the sort of moving he'd meant. "Ray . . ." his voice sounded like he'd been stranded in the desert for days.

"Mmm," Ray said. "Moving's good." He moved a little more.

Moving was good. Very good. More than good. Fraser closed his eyes and gritted his teeth and tried to think of something. . . anything. . . to distract himself. Nothing worked. Nothing at all. God. He had to stop this. "Ray, you're drunk," he managed.

Ray's mouth curved up in a sweet, closed-mouth smile. "Mmhmm."

"Ray, really, you need to let me go," he said firmly. He pushed against Ray's shoulder, though not very hard. "I . . . ah. . .I don't . . . er. . . like this."

Ray chuckled. "Liar." He rolled his hips against Fraser's, proving his point. Then he leaned closer. "Close your eyes."

"What? Why?"

"You really gotta know?"

Fraser thought about it. "I. . . yes."

Ray smiled again. "'Cause I said to."

"Oh." Fraser frowned. "That's not a reason."

Ray just looked at him. For some reason, though Ray didn't say a word, Fraser heard "Go that way." He closed his eyes. Felt Ray's breath on his face, and then something warm and moist brushed silkily along his left eyelid, ticklish and strange.

"Are you licking my eyelashes?" he asked, incredulously.

Ray repeated the action on the other side, then drew back. "Yeah. Always wanted to."

Fraser opened slightly damp eyelids and stared at him, then shook his head. "And you say I'm a freak?"

Ray laughed. "Takes one t' know one." He leaned close, and burrowed his nose between the collar of Fraser's jacket and the neck of his henley, and licked there, too, his tongue warm and soft against the hollow of his shoulder.

Christ. He felt that to his toes. Fraser pushed Ray away as he firmly told himself to stop responding. This was insane. He had to put a stop to this right now. Ray clearly had no idea what he was doing, and Fraser wasn't going to risk their friendship simply because Ray was too drunk to tell Fraser apart from his ex-wife. "That's enough, Ray."

"'s not." Ray said mulishly, reaching out to put his hands on Fraser's shoulders.

"It's not what?" Fraser asked.

"Enough," Ray said, and then his mouth came down on Fraser's.

Hot, sweet, and potent, tasting of peat-smoke, oak, and vanilla, though a thousand times more intoxicating than the substance that lent Ray's mouth those flavors. He kissed Ray hungrily, greedily, framing his face with both hands, afraid that Ray might change his mind and try to get away, but he didn't. Ray kissed back, all prickly stubble and slick, clever tongue.

They rocked against each other, breathing through their noses, making harsh sounds of desperation and desire, until it dawned on him that he and Ray were mutually molesting one another up against a door in defiance of all reason and common sense, and he opened his eyes. Stared into Ray's eyes, alight with mischief and. . . well. It was like looking into a mirror, seeing his own need reflected back. "But you're. . . heterosexual," he managed weakly.

Ray snorted, and shifted his hips, rubbing his erection against Fraser's hip. "That feel straight to you?"

Distracted, Fraser concentrated for a moment, analyzing. "Well, it's difficult to tell without. . . " Fraser began.

Ray put his palm over Fraser's mouth, laughing. "Not that kinda straight. Jus' . . . trus' me, Frase. Or ask Stel."

Fraser's eyes widened. "What?"

Ray's gaze dropped, hidden behind his lashes, and Fraser felt a brief impulse to try some eyelash-licking himself. "She knows."

He couldn't have been more surprised if Ray had announced he was trading in the GTO for a mo-ped. "But . . . ." There were too many questions in his head, he couldn't think which one to ask, so in the end he asked none.
                
"Yeah. But . . . ." Ray shrugged, one corner of his mouth lifting in a wry smile. He reached out, trailed his fingers down Fraser's face, let them come to rest on his mouth, then leaned in again.

Fraser let their lips touch, just enough to taste that hint of vanilla again, and the more intriguing flavor he hand no name for, then common sense reasserted itself and he turned away. Ray didn't seem to mind, he just kissed whatever was handy; his jaw, his cheek, his ear. That tickled in a way that made him ache.

"Ray, stop."

"Uh-uhn."

"You're drunk."

"'m drunk, not stupid."

Fraser sighed, and pushed Ray away, gently, holding him at arm's length. "It goes against my principles to take advantage of someone who's not in full control of his faculties."

Ray blinked at him owlishly, frowning a little. "Wha's that mean?"

"It means you're too drunk to know if you're saying yes or no."

"Do too." Ray crossed his arms and stuck his chin out pugnaciously.

"You may think you do, however I'm not convinced." He let his hands slide up to Ray's shoulders. "Ray, if you weren't drunk, would you be wanting this?"

That seemed to get through, at least a bit, then Ray smiled at him. "Yeah. I'd want it. Just wouldn' have the guts to do it."

"Ah," That rocked him a little. "I see." He thought for a moment, and decided perhaps honesty might work. "I must confess that I'm . . . a little afraid."

That clearly took Ray aback. "Af. . . oh. Shit." He stepped back and turned away, suddenly drooping. "Sorry." He cleared his throat. "Didn' mean to." He held onto the back of a chair, staring at his fingers.

Fraser sighed, frustrated, and rubbed his eyebrow. "No, Ray, it's not. . . you don't understand." He moved closer, put a hand on Ray's shoulder. "I'm not afraid of you. I'm not afraid of. . . this. I suppose. . . I suppose I'm afraid that when you're sober, you'll change your mind."

Ray thought about that for a moment, scratched his cheek, and sighed. "Oh." He slanted a glance at Fraser, and then headed for the kitchen, weaving a little.

"Ray?" he asked uncertainly. "What are you doing?"

"Making coffee."

"Coffee? Why?"

Ray nodded. "Sober up, so you'll trust me."

It was a wonderful idea, if misguided. "Ray," he said gently. "If you have coffee, you'll just be a wide-awake drunk. Only time negates the effects of alcohol."

Ray seemed perplexed for a moment, then he smiled slyly. "'k. So y' gotta stay 'til I'm sober."

Fraser eyed him narrowly. It sounded suspiciously like an oblique effort on Ray's part to get his way. On the other hand, he doubted Ray was currently capable of being that crafty, considering the amount of alcohol he'd consumed. He analyzed the idea. It might not be a bad idea to stay, so he could be on hand to help if Ray felt ill, which was a distinct possibility. He would just put Ray to bed and let him sleep it off. In all likelihood Ray wouldn't remember any of this in the morning, or if he did remember it, he would think it simply a drunken hallucination. For some reason that thought depressed him. He looked up to find Ray gazing at him expectantly, and somewhat against his better judgement, he nodded. "All right, Ray. I'll stay."

Ray grinned triumphantly. "Great! Bedtime." He caught Fraser's hand and started to pull him toward the bedroom.

Fraser balked. "Now, Ray, I didn't say. . . ."

"Chicken." Ray leaned back against the counter, arms crossed, smirking.

"Ray," Fraser said severely.

"Bwaak, bwaak, bwaak," Ray clucked, a sound every bit as irritating as his earlier pterodactyl imitation.

"Ray!"

"Fraser's a chicken," Ray sing-songed.

"I am not!" Fraser said, not sure whether he was more annoyed with Ray for provoking him or with himself for being provoked.

"Prove it."

"You're acting very immature."

"Chicken."

"All right, fine." Fraser snapped, sweeping a hand toward the bedroom. "Have it your way." He stopped, realizing what he'd said. "Well, not entirely your way," he amended. "I'll sleep with you. But that's it."

Ray grinned. "Hot. . ." his grin faded. "Sleep?"

Fraser nodded. "Sleep. With clothing on."

"Oh." Ray's face fell. "Shit."

"I'm sorry, but I think it's best." Not for the first time, it occurred to him to wonder if he ought to see a therapist about this masochistic streak he appeared to have.

Ray sighed and walked to the bedroom with considerably less enthusiasm than he'd shown a moment earlier. Sitting down on the bed, Ray kicked off his boots, and peeled off his sweatshirt, leaving just his undershirt, which rucked up to show his stomach and one pectoral. Fraser caught himself staring and looked away, only to find his gaze drawn back a moment later when he heard the sound of a zipper.

"Ray! I said. . . ."

"Yeah, yeah, yeah." Ray flapped a hand at him as he kicked off his jeans, struggling a little to get them off his feet. "Didn' say how much."

Unfortunately that was true. Well, even if Ray was wearing only boxer-briefs and a t-shirt, Fraser had no plans to remove his own clothing. He sat down on the other side of the bed from Ray, and started to swing his feet up onto the bed.

"Hey!" Ray said. "You born in a barn? Shoes off!"

"Actually, yes," Fraser said, leaning over to unlace his boots and toe them off, following them with his socks. "I was. As I told you . . . ."

"You never told me." Ray sounded aggrieved.

"Certainly I did. During the Leggett case."

"That was Vecchio."

"Ah."

Ray eyed him narrowly. "You mixing us up? 'Cause if you can't tell us apart I'm leaving."

"Don't be silly, Ray, this is your apartment."

"Don' care. That'd just be creepy." He shuddered eloquently.

Fraser sighed. "Ray, I have no trouble telling the two of you apart."

"Really?" Ray asked dubiously.

"Really. For one thing, your nose is . . . ."

"Fraser!"

Fraser chuckled. Ray hit him with a pillow.

"Violence never solves anything," Fraser said primly.

"'Zat so?" Ray lay back against the bed, stretching languidly. "So wanna make love not war?"

It was going to be a very long night. Fraser pointedly ignored Ray's suggestion as he sat back against the headboard and shifted a pillow behind the small of his back. He wished he had something to read. Ray lay there, posing outrageously for a moment or two longer, then he sighed.

"You meant it."

"I meant it," Fraser confirmed.

"Damn."

Ray sagged. Fraser wasn't quite sure how he accomplished that when he was already lying down and he didn't change position, but he did. Then he rolled onto his side and pushed up on one elbow, leaning in so close that Fraser could smell the lingering scent of scotch. He'd never liked the smell of alcohol. Until now. Remembering the taste of it in Ray's mouth. . . .

"Not even a g'night kiss?"

God. Sometimes he wondered if Ray could read his mind. It certainly seemed that way when what came out of his mouth was so often precisely what Fraser had been thinking about. A kiss. One kiss.

"I'll be good," Ray wheedled.

Fraser looked at Ray. He looked. . . innocent. Guileless. His eyes were closed, a faint smile curving his lips. Waiting. All right. He could do this. After all, He wasn't the one who'd had too much to drink. It would be easy. Simply brush his lips briefly against Ray's. He had impeccable self control. He leaned down.

Ray's lips were soft, warm, moist, still holding that faint, faint hint of smoky vanilla. He slid his hand behind Ray' s head, moving him to a better angle, urging his lips to part. When Ray opened to him, he searched out deeper hints of that flavor, and Ray's own, the two blending indelibly in his mind. He shifted, pressing Ray down against the mattress, feeling the lean, hard strength of him. There was a great deal of bare skin he could reach, despite the fact that Ray was technically still clothed. His fingers slid beneath the neck of Ray's shirt, traced the curve of his collarbone, his shoulder, down the biceps. Skin so warm, so fine, like some rare silk under his hands.

He rocked his hips against Ray's, feeling the half-hard length of his cock so close, so little hindering his touch. It was so tempting, so tempting. He pulled his hand out from inside Ray's shirt and slid it down to his thigh, feeling where the soft, snug cotton gave way to bare skin, rougher there with the scrub of hair beneath his palm. He kissed Ray harder, tongue mimicking the movement of his hips, and, oh, yes, Ray was touching him too, both hands against his chest, a strange sort of caress. . . .

The world spun momentarily, making him wonder if one could get contact drunk. He blinked up at Ray, who was looking down at him, panting a little. Ray had stopped them? Ray? And how had he gotten on top? Ray must have pushed him over, and onto his back. That would explain the world spinning, though not why Ray had done it. Then Ray grinned.

"Couldn' breathe," he explained.

Oh. He was still processing that when Ray took his face between his hands and kissed him, softly, sweetly, without any urgency at all. It was strange, but good. He kissed back, trying to match Ray's calm, slowing his breathing, letting his hands skim up and down Ray's back, not quite brave enough yet to venture lower. They kissed and caressed one another that way for a little while, until Ray sighed, and turned his head, kissing Fraser's neck, and his ear. Fraser waited, breathless, to see what would come next.

Nothing did. Ray's breathing deepened, grew more even. A damp spot began to develop on the shoulder of his henley, just below Ray's mouth.

"Ray?"

Nothing.

"Ray?" he said again, slightly louder.

Still nothing.

"Ray!"

This time he tried shaking Ray. Again, without result. Ray was well and truly down for the proverbial count. Fraser lay there beneath him, aching erection trapped behind snug jeans and beneath Ray's sleeping weight. He hurt. Worse, he couldn't even blame Ray, as this particular predicament was entirely his own fault. So much for self control. He supposed he ought to be grateful to whatever higher power had decided to assist him in honoring his own resolve, but he wasn't. If the gods really wanted to be helpful they would magically supply him with looser trousers.

After a few moments, helped not at all by Ray's tendency to nuzzle and snuggle in his sleep, he worked a hand between their bodies and managed to get his jeans unbuttoned, and unzipped an inch or two. The relief was instantaneous, if not total. The remaining discomfort was an appropriate reminder of his failure.

* * *

"Stoppit, Dief," Fraser muttered, jerking his foot away from the tickling touch of warm, wet tongue.

Dief laughed. That was sufficiently bizarre to drag Fraser the rest of the way up from sleep and into waking. He lurched to his elbows in a sit-up and stared down at his foot, which Ray was holding in his hands as he stared up at Fraser with a grin.

"Hey," Ray said.

Fraser stared at him. "What the hell are you doing?"

Ray's grin broadened. "I'm the one with the hangover, why're you cranky?" he asked with surprising good cheer for someone professing to be hung-over. "Or has it got something to do with that?" He reached up to flick the open fly of Fraser's jeans with the tip of a finger. "Blue balls make you grouchy?"

"Ray!"

"Just asking," Ray said, then he gave Fraser's foot a little squeeze. He leaned down and ran his tongue along Fraser's instep, making him jerk and laugh involuntarily. "Ticklish?"

"Yes, so kindly let go. Why are you licking my foot?"

"It was skin. It was showing."

It wasn't right for that to sound so reasonable when it wasn't. Fraser yawned and scrubbed his hands through his hair, trying to make his brain start working, trying to put all the pieces together. "Why would you want to lick anything if you have a hangover?" he said, desperately grasping for something that might make sense. Having once had a hangover, he clearly recalled not wanting to do anything but moan for a good seven or eight hours.

"Well, because I don't." Ray looked puzzled, which made Fraser feel a little better. "Have a hangover, mean. Not much of one anyway. I don't know if it's my misspent youth, or the stuff Albert had us drinking, or just what; but even though I should, I don't. Of course, the fact that I woke up around five, pissed, took four aspirin and drank about a gallon of water probably helped. You slept through it all. Man, you sleep sound. Good thing I didn't fall and crack my head on the tub or something."

Fraser felt his face get warm. Half of his rationale for staying last night had been to make sure someone was there if Ray needed help. "I can't imagine why I didn't wake up," he muttered. "I never sleep that soundly at the consulate."

"Yeah, maybe it has something to do with being in a real bed. Or maybe it has something to do with me." Ray cleared his throat. "I, uh. . . last night. . ." He coughed, and raised hopeful eyes to Fraser. "I'm sober now. You still want to?"

Fraser felt the heat in his face deepen, and not from embarrassment. "Do you?" he asked, his voice raspy.

Ray let go of his foot, sitting down next to him on the bed, and gave him an exasperated look. "Nah, I lick everyone's toes. Speaking of which, you got something going with Dief that I ought to know about? I mean, I'm not poach . . . mmfh!"

Fraser dealt with Ray's smart mouth the way he'd wanted to for months. It was immensely satisfying.

In short order Ray was straddling his waist and Fraser had both hands up under his shirt, splayed out across his back, feeling the muscles shift and stretch as Ray moved. Ray shifted forward, rolling his hips against him, and Fraser suddenly realized that even if they'd wanted to continue last night, Ray probably couldn't have. Now that he could feel the full length of Ray's cock pressed hard against his belly he could tell that last night Ray's brain had been a lot more willing than his body. He didn't seem to have any such problem this morning, thank God.

Fraser thought about how long it had been since he'd touched a man like this, felt the honest proof of desire against him, felt strength that matched his own. Thought about what Ray had said last night. . . wondered how long they had both been repressing this. His fingers tightened in the longer hair toward the top of Ray's head and pulled his mouth down hard against his own, wincing at the bite of stubble and the press of his own teeth against the insides of his lips, but fiercely glad for both. He realized he'd been living in a sort of bubble ever since. . . ever since her. Afraid to feel. Afraid to touch. This felt so damned good.

"Ray," he said.

Ray lifted his head, licking his lips, looking a little dazed. "Yeah?"

Fraser shook his head. "Just. . . Ray."

Ray thought about that for a moment, and smiled. "Yeah. Fraser." His hand slid down Fraser's shirt, and pulled the tails from his jeans. "Get naked."

He usually only took orders from superior officers, but he could make an exception in this case. It took a certain amount of twisting and squirming, and Ray ended up having to temporarily desert his post, but he got his shirt off. Ray knelt beside Fraser and stripped off his shirt, then peeled off his boxer-briefs, and Fraser had to stop trying to get his jeans off and just look. Ray, with clothing, had always been a pleasing sight, but Ray, naked, erect, and watching him with smoky eyes was enough to make him reach in his jeans and grab himself a little too hard.

Ray reached out and wrapped his fingers around Fraser's wrist, tugging his hand out of his pants.

"Don't," Ray said hoarsely.

Using both hands, Ray lowered Fraser's zipper the rest of the way and peeled the fly open, then he unbuttoned the boxers beneath the denim. Long, warm fingers slipped into the opening, and wrapped around Fraser's aching erection, drawing it out. Fraser clenched his teeth, sucking breath in through his nose, hissing it out over his teeth, his hips bucking upward as he fought for control. Ray grinned, and slowly leaned down, keeping his eyes locked with Fraser's until finally his lashes feathered down to hide his gaze just as his hand eased the foreskin back and his mouth closed around the head of Fraser's cock.

Someone growled like a wolf in rut. God. Was that him? He would have been embarrassed, but it stopped mattering as Ray's tongue clicked softly against the underside of his cock. Fraser cupped Ray's face, feeling the muscles in his jaw work, stroking his cheeks with his thumbs, feeling them hollow a little as he sucked. He was trying so hard not to shove himself into that hot, wet welcome that his thighs shook with the effort. Ray soothed a hand up and down one thigh, kneading a little, and he shifted position, taking Fraser deeper into his mouth, humming as his other hand worked the base.

The sensation was like an electrical shock, an explosive burst of pleasure that tipped him over the edge. He moaned, ecstatic, but mourning the too-soon end as his the waves of pleasure washed through him, and out of him, into Ray's mouth. Ray swallowed once, then pulled back and kept stroking with his hand, letting the rest of Fraser's ejaculate paint his lips, his jaw, his throat. He licked his lips, and Fraser's whole body shuddered in response, almost feeling it himself.

He reached down and hauled Ray up, until he could kiss his mouth, tasting himself in it, feeling the slick slide of semen against his chin and cheek. He turned his head, licking Ray clean, relishing the rasp of stubble against his tongue, feeling Ray's throat move as he gasped, feeling the strong, rapid beat of Ray's pulse, savoring the mingled flavors of semen and sweat. He tried to turn, found himself hampered by the jeans and boxers that were still around his thighs, trapping him. Impatiently he shimmied and kicked free of them and then pushed Ray down against the mattress, shouldering between his thighs, lifting him to his mouth.

Bitter salt stung his tastebuds and made his mouth water. He slowly slid his lips down around the thick, heavy shaft, filling his mouth, more than filling it, with sleek, tight flesh. He traced the faint ring of scar tissue from Ray's circumcision, and felt him shiver. He grasped Ray's hips, holding him down with just the barest pressure as he drew his mouth slowly away, only to ease down again, once, twice. Ray's fingers twined in his hair, stroking, encouraging. He let Ray's cock slip out of his mouth, tonguing the head, lapping at the welling beads of pre-ejaculate there until Ray whimpered, and then he moved lower, mouthing the tender flesh there carefully, sucking, licking.

The sounds Ray was making were not words. Not even close. Just sounds of pure animal pleasure. He spread his thighs wider, and canted his hips upward, and Fraser smiled and cupped his hands under Ray's buttocks, lifting him higher, until his tongue could find the shallow crease there and tease his way down to the small opening. He heard the sheets creak as Ray fisted his hands in them tight, humping air as Fraser's tongue glided over and into sensitive flesh, opening him up.

"Please. . . ." Ray gasped. "God!"

Fraser sucked on his thumb, and gently pressed it against the furl, feeling it yield easily.

"Christ, yeah. . . do it. Do me," Ray moaned.

He wondered if he could. He thought about it, and his cock, already half hard once more, twitched and tightened. Yes. God yes. "Do you have anything?" he asked roughly.

There was a moment of silence, then a groan, and Ray thumped his head against the mattress in a way that would have hurt had it been any other surface. "Fuck. No. Nothing. I wasn't. . . I didn't expect. . . I haven't. . . ."

He made a mental note to stock up on lubricant on his next trip to the store. "Neither was I. Next time."

He felt Ray nod, and before he could say anything else, he brought his mouth down on Ray's cock once more, tonguing the slit as he eased his thumb in deeper. Ray bucked in his mouth, the head of his cock pushing deep, until he had to swallow or gag. Ray went taut, shuddering, his name a raw whisper.

"God, Fraser!"

He kept swallowing and moved his thumb in a circular motion, rubbing carefully. Ray bucked again, up, then down, up one last time, every muscle flexed hard as he arched, and then the rippling shudders moved through him and Fraser felt the liquid warmth of semen, tasting it on the back of his tongue as he coaxed Ray through his orgasm.

When he was sure he was finished, Fraser released him, and Ray sagged against the bed, as boneless after release has he had been taut during it.

"Oh, man," he sighed, as he reached down and carded his fingers through Fraser's hair. "Oh, man." He repeated, shivering a little.

Fraser squirmed up until they were side-by-side, then groped around until he found the covers and pulled them haphazardly over both of them. Ray pulled him closer and gave him a soft, contented sort of kiss, then he leaned back to look in Fraser's face.

"You've. . . um. . . done that before."

Fraser felt himself flush a little, which was ridiculous, but he nodded. "Yes."

Ray nodded. "Thought so." He shook his head. "You deserve an Oscar for best performance day-in-day-out for your whole friggin' life, Benton Fraser."

Fraser stared at him, puzzled. "Excuse me?"

Ray grinned. "Frannie thinks you're a virgin."

That surprised a laugh out of him. "You're joking!"

Ray shook his head. "No."

"But she knows about. . . ." He stopped. No. He wasn't going to say her name, he wasn't going to invoke her here.

Ray nodded. "Yeah. Guess she thought you guys just held hands or something. Or she hopes so, anyway."

Fraser sighed. "I wish I could make her understand. I love Francesca dearly, but . . . not the way she wants me to."

"Yeah, I know," Ray said sympathetically. "I think Frannie's just got this idea that she can make the universe what she wants by thinking it."

Fraser frowned. "The holographic paradigm? There is some support for that in scientific circles. I wouldn't have thought Francesca knew of it, though."

"I got no idea what you just said, and I bet she doesn't either. On this planet it's called 'wishful thinking.'"

"Ah."

Ray's hand curved over his shoulder, stroking idly. "Thought that's what I was doing, too."

Fraser reached up, threading his fingers through Ray's. "As did I."

"I'm not still drunk and hallucinating am I?" Ray asked, suddenly looking a little anxious.

"Not unless I am," Fraser assured him.

"Okay, good. Since you don't drink you can't hallucinate."

Fraser decided not to mention his father's recurring appearances. After all, they weren't hallucinations. He hoped. "You've done this before?" he asked, not quite as certain as Ray.

Ray sighed, and looked up at the ceiling, his fingers twitching nervously against Fraser's. "Um. . . only in the Jimmy Carter sense."

It took some mental gymnastics to decipher that reference. Fraser knew that Jimmy Carter was a former U.S. president, however he couldn't remember anyone ever leveling any accusations of homosexuality against him. In fact, the only sexually-related anecdote he could recall about the man involved an interview in Playboy in which he had mentioned something about. . . oh. Lust in his heart. The realization stunned him. If Ray meant what Fraser thought he meant, at any rate.

"So you've never . . . ?" he asked, cautiously.

"Not for real," Ray admitted, a slight flush darkening his cheekbones.

Fraser digested that. "I. . . never would have guessed."

Ray looked at him then, studying his face intently before a lopsided grin curved his mouth. "Really?"

Fraser nodded. "Really."

"Cool." Ray looked pleased.

"But, forgive me, I'm a little confused. I thought you said that Stella knew."

"She knew, yeah." Ray sighed. "It's complicated. She was the one, you know? She did it for me. Didn't matter that she was a girl. Or it didn't when we were younger. I loved her and that was enough. But the older we got, the harder it got, for me, and for her. She knew me well enough to know that I was wanting something she couldn't ever give me. And that bothered her. It didn't matter that I never did anything, that I would have been fine staying with her for the rest of our lives, she just . . . wanted to be everything I needed. I guess I can't blame her for that."

He paused, and Fraser nodded. "I understand that. I've been in a . . . similar situation." He closed his eyes briefly, heard Steven telling him, gently, that he couldn't be what Fraser needed, that he didn't have that sort of commitment in him. Yes, he understood.

"She told me she wanted me to find someone who made me happy, all the way, That she wasn't it, and she knew that. At the time I thought that was just a line, something to make me feel better, but maybe it wasn't. Maybe she knew something I didn't. Huh," he stopped, gaze distant as he stared at nothing for a moment.

"What?"

Ray blinked, and returned from wherever he'd been. "I think maybe I just figured out why Stella doesn't like you."

"The feeling is mutual."

Ray grinned. "Yeah, I know. Little bit of the green-eyed monster going on there?"

"You think I'm jealous?" Fraser asked, piqued. "That's just. . ." he paused, rethought his denial, and cleared his throat, ". . . probably true."

Ray laughed. "Yeah. So I guess you can stop now."

"No."

That drew a startled glance. "Why?"

Fraser pushed him down on the bed, and kissed him hard before lifting his head to answer the question. "She had you for fifteen years. I've had you for less than an hour."

"Oh," Ray said. "Could've been more like eight or nine hours by now, except you had to go and be a gentleman." Ray winked.

"Well, I won't make that mistake again."

"Good. 'Cause you know, I kinda like you snarky."

Fraser stared at him. "Snarky?"

"Yeah, you know. Snarky. Bitchy. Rude."

Fraser started to object to that but found his mouth otherwise occupied. When Ray finally let him go, they were both breathing heavily.

"Not to mention real," Ray said hoarsely.

It took him a moment to figure out what Ray meant by that, but after a moment he did. He smiled. "I save that for you."

Ray grinned. "Thank God." Ray burrowed deeper under the covers, flinging an arm across Fraser's chest, rubbing his nose against his shoulder. "Hey, Fraser. You know something?"

"What, Ray?"

"I think I'm happy. All the way."

Fraser closed his eyes. "So am I, Ray. So am I."


* * * Finis * * *



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