Length: About 2500 words
Warning: Randomness, and nobody loses a limb.
Disclaimer: I didn't create the characters. I'm just a slave to the music.
Summary: Post CotW. Some stuff explodes, Fraser's got a secret crush, Ray is annoyed, and Diefenbaker has just about had it with the pair of them.
A/N: A while back our delectable nos4a2no9 hinted oh so delicately for a fic including those little candy Valentine hearts with goofy messages on them, and I thought it was a cute idea, and really wanted to do it. Naturally, I'd intended it for Valentine's Day, but the silly thing just would not work out in time. Here it is at last, a bit late, but with plenty of love anyway. Happy Birthday, Nos!
"But Ray," Fraser pleads, "there were miscreants, and they were getting away!" He trails his partner further into the apartment, struggling to balance a large pizza, a box of chocolates, a substantial bunch of yellow flowers, and a plastic grocery sack containing a six-pack of Bass pale ale. He brandishes the bouquet awkwardly when his knee hits the swaying grocery bag and the pizza slides suddenly left.
"Ook, Ray, Ray..."
"You!" Ray turns, pointing a long finger at Fraser and scowling narrowly, "You..!" Ray curls his forefinger back into his fist, snatches the pizza box before it can hit the floor, and slings it onto the kitchen counter, where it spins a few turns before easing to a fragrant stop.
Ray has recently showered and changed his clothes. His damp hair spikes up angrily. He wears a thin black t-shirt now, with elderly red sweat pants, and his feet, as he stomps into the living room, are pale and bare. A laundry basket containing a green shirt and blue jeans splattered liberally with a gooey, pale yellowish substance rests near the bathroom door.
As Fraser shrugs out of his leather jacket and hangs it and his hat on a hook near the front door, he doubts whether he should have come, as he only seems to be irritating Ray further. Hardly an hour has passed since Ray flung himself into the GTO and screeched out of the alley next to Beauford's Fine Foods at an alarming rate of speed for entering traffic backward, leaving Fraser to explain the chain of events as best he could to Lieutenant Welsh. Marooned, and by nature inclined toward detail, Fraser found himself chided gently by the lieutenant, who then solemnly advised a peace offering of pizza, size large, with plenty of pineapple. Elaine suggested that a gift of chocolate might cover a multitude of sins, and Diefenbaker was adamant in his recommendation of yellow Marguerites.
Fraser enters Ray's small kitchen to set the Bass, the candy and the flowers on the counter next to the pizza, and he turns to begin a lengthy apology. "Ray, I'm terribly sorry for what happened to you today, it's just that--"
"Bad Mountie!" Ray glares at him fiercely from the other side of the cutaway counter.
The angry forefinger is back, jabbing into the air between them. "Bad, bad Mountie! No cookie! No cookie for you!" Ray bounces on his toes and bares his teeth for emphasis.
Fraser blinks. "Cookie?"
"You just had to get into the middle of it, didn't you!"
"Er, I--Ah." Fraser rubs guiltily at one ear.
"Didn't you! Death by molten pudding is not a fit end for a cop, Fraser! You think I want 'Drowned in pudding in service to the people of Chicago' carved on my headstone? As it is, I may never be able to look pudding in the eye ever again!"
"But Ray, they were improperly storing five-gallon buckets of detergent near a fragile riparian habitat! I felt obliged to point the danger out to someone in charge--"
Ray interrupts, his arms everywhere at once, like an over-caffeinated Shiva. "Guns! Knives! Muscle-bound goons all over the place! Christ on a pogo stick Fraser, they had M-16s, military issue! There was a guy in there, eight feet tall, with 'Death to Pigs' tattooed around his neck--"
"It may interest you to know, Ray, that tattoo artists often discourage people from receiving artwork on their neck, as the skin of the neck is very delicate, and with time, and frequent turning of the head--"
"--and you could not have picked out a single clue from that list to get it through your skull that that was not a happy situation for two off-duty cops not wearing vests to walk into?"
His standard evasive maneuver having failed, Fraser attempts plain reason, with perhaps a hint of sarcasm. "Certainly our discovery that they were smuggling cocaine throughout Chicago, hidden in containers marked as Beauford's Angels' Food Cake mix was important enough to warrant our immediate attention?"
"There's a little thing called 'backup,' Fraser," Ray explains through clenched teeth, "of which even the greenest rookie knows to avail himself." He jabs at the air again, his entire body jolting forward with the force of the gesture. "Back. Up. It's there to be used!"
"I do see your point, Ray, but once the smugglers realized that we had discovered their nefarious activities, speed was of the essence, in order to prevent--" Fraser can hear Ray's back teeth grinding. "Do you have a large vase, Ray?"
Ray twitches, as though someone has prodded him in a tender place with a sharp stick. "What?"
"A vase." Fraser smiles reassuringly.
Ray eyes the bouquet of yellow flowers as one might a sleeping python. He scowls at Fraser. "You almost get me shot, dismembered and entombed in pudding, and then you bring me food and a floral arrangement. This is a sneaky Mountie trick, isn't it."
Fraser clears his throat nervously, keeping a wary eye on Ray as his partner stalks around the cutaway counter and into the kitchen. "A trick? Goodness no, Diefenbaker merely felt... well, Dief thought that perhaps..."
"Do not drag the wolf into this, Fraser!" The vein in the middle of Ray's forehead throbs ominously. "A sneaky, Mountie, anti-angry-partner trick, that's what this is, thinking you'll feed me chocolate and pizza, and, and... and woo me with daisies and beer, and I'll forget all about that you nearly..." and Ray is, as the saying goes, right up in Fraser's face when he shouts, "...got us both murdered today for like the millionth time!"
Oh dear oh dear oh dear, if Ray is lovely when he's happy, he is magnificent when he's outraged. Fraser tries very hard to concentrate on what Ray is shouting, and not on what his mouth looks like, or how bright his eyes are, and all that Fraser would like to--never mind.
"Why do you keep doing that?" Ray flails again, his wiry arms wide in a unique semafore, expressing Ray In Distress.
His voice drops into a heartfelt sigh of genuine bafflement. "After everything we've been through, two years partners." Ray ticks off on his fingers, "Burning car, dead guy in the wall - which was gross - and spies, and kidnapping, and acres of broken glass all over the place, and the pirate ship where I almost died but you saved me, you remember that?"
Fraser nods dumbly, hardly likely to forget.
"And there was the nerve gas thing and the Russian submarine, and the Big Canadian Adventure, where you taught me how to do stuff, like not freeze to death, or get eaten by rabid mooses, and now that we're back you're the poster boy for the RCMP, and they practically begged you to be Liaison Officer at the Consulate, without you ever having to count paperclips, or pick up anybody's dry cleaning, or explain the existence of Turnbull."
Ray rests one hand on Fraser's shoulder, the other gesturing between them. Fraser licks his lower lip fretfully. The lingering scent of vanilla on Ray is delicious, but if Fraser mentions it, Ray will very probably rip his head off.
"You're my partner, Fraser. Full-time, you and me. Why do you keep acting like you need to prove yourself? To who, huh? Me? You? The Vast Chicago Territory?"
Oddly, it is here that a belated, but bright light goes on in Fraser's head. Ray used the term, "woo." Not distract, nor deflect, nor divert, but woo. He's reaching, he knows, a tiny hope born from two years of wishful thinking, but, as Diefenbaker so pointedly put it earlier this evening, perhaps it is past time for Fraser to pull his head out of his arse and quit faffing about.
"It's you," he confesses to Ray.
Ray stands looking sandbagged for a moment before yipping, "Me? The hell for? Did I not just list a very small percentage of the amazing and limb-endangering adventures we have had together? What in the name of the northern lights d'you think you need to prove to me?"
Fraser reaches into the breast pocket of his shirt and pulls out a small, bright pink box that he bought on impulse at the flower shop. It seemed a ridiculous gesture by the time he'd stepped back out onto the sidewalk, but now... He offers the little box to Ray, his stomach doing uncomfortable, squirmy things just below his rib cage.
"'Oh you kid,'" Ray reads aloud. He smiles faintly, "I used to buy these for Stel every Valentine's Day when we were--"
Fraser snatches the box from Ray's hand and shakes it, rattling the contents and regarding it accusingly. "The candy piece showing in the front cellophane when I bought this said-- well, it said something considerably more illuminating than that!"
"The hell are you gettin' at, Fraser?"
Fraser takes a deep breath, looks Ray in the eyes and blurts out, "It's important to me to prove myself a worthy suitor."
Ray's eyebrows shoot skyward. "A w-ha--?"
"Suitor. For your affections. Your non police-related --non police partner type--affections. That's why I've been, so to speak, exerting myself. For your. Er. Manly affections." None of this is proceeding according to Fraser's well-practiced fantasies. He stands up straighter in order to help himself think, only to find himself blushing painfully and at a complete loss. "Um," he adds helplessly.
Ray blinks rapidly. "You're romancing me?"
Fraser shuffles backward and scrubs at his left eyebrow. "Yes?"
The vein in Ray's forehead is throbbing again. "So let me get this straight. You wanna date me, and your idea of impressing me as a, a suitable mate here, like we're back in high school, or we're wolves or something, is by showing off and maybe getting both of us dead?"
Fraser finds that he has backed himself up against the refrigerator. He can hear the shamrock on the door crinkling between his shoulders. "Exactly. W-well, except for the getting you dead part, which I assure you was never a part of my--"
"Uh-huh," Ray licks his teeth thoughtfully and regards Fraser from beneath lowered brows.
The gesture is at once sultry and faintly terrifying, and Fraser begins to babble in self-defense. "You see, Ray, in the animal kingdom, or indeed in most human societies, it tends to be the bolder, stronger males who attract the most mates, and as you yourself are a very bold, er, male, I felt that as a potential suitor, in order to impress you... that I needed, that I would be required... Oh, hell."
Fraser droops, defeated by everything he can't read in Ray's face. "There may have been a small error in my reasoning. I'm very sorry, Ray." If the earth could just crack open and swallow him now, please.
"For cryin' out loud," Ray growls, and Fraser has but a heartbeat to realize that this is not Ray's usual 'kick you in the head' growl before Ray has grabbed him forcefully by his shirtfront, and kissed him hard on the mouth.
"Mmmmmfff!" Fraser's hands make an instinctive grab for Ray's waist.
There is a wet, sharp sound as Ray pulls abruptly away and shoves Fraser back against the refrigerator. He remains attached to Fraser's shirt, scolding, "You didn't figure you could just talk to me about this? You yammer on about every other goddamn thing in the universe, but you don't trust me enough to talk to me about something this important?"
Fraser's lips tingle pleasantly, and he struggles for a moment to drag his thoughts away from the solid warmth beneath his hands. "Well, you weren't talking either, Ray!" and he gives Ray his best 'so there!' expression, and feels as though he really could leap a tall building.
"I was waitin' for a sign!"
Fraser splutters, "A sign? Good God, we slept together in the same sleeping bag for three months!"
"That does not count, Fraser! We were doin' that so as not to freeze our nuts and our ears and other important stuff off. That is not a sign!"
"Everything I've been doing since our return to--"
Ray holds up a restraining forefinger, and Fraser's mouth snaps shut. Honestly, if Ray only understood the power of his hands, Fraser would be… well, that's a thought for another day.
"Fraser, endangering our lives in freakish ways does not communicate to me, 'Ray, my very good friend and partner, I want to be your love-muffin.'"
"Shut up. No. What that tells me is, you are unhinged and a hazard, and need to be restrained, before you strike again. Y'see the difference there, buddy?"
Fraser licks his bottom lip. Yep. Vanilla. Yowza. He manages, "All right. It's a fine line of course, but I believe I understand your argument. The thing is, you see, the problem was, that when I first became conscious of my feelings toward you, I was unsure as to whether you'd be amenable, what with our genders being, with the two of us being, as it were..."
"Guys," Ray finishes helpfully.
"Precisely. And then over time I noticed that you seemed to be, on the whole, not overly constrained by culturally imposed gender roles--"
"Like sleeping with you in the same sleeping bag."
"--which gave me some hope, but still I feared endangering our partnership were I to interpret your feelings incorrectly, and there was that awkward moment after the buddy-breathing incident, and... I honestly don't know what I'd do if you and I weren't friends anymore, Ray."
"I'll make you a deal," Ray offers.
"Me, I'm willing to give us a shot. But you? No more showing off! No jumping from skyscrapers after pickpockets, or trying to appeal to the better natures of homicidal maniac drug lords. You wait for backup. Got that?"
"Okay." Fraser wriggles a bit, hoping Ray will stop talking now and kiss him again.
Ray worries at Fraser's shirtfront. "I mean it, Benton! The job is crazy enough as it is, without you intentionally adding to the mayhem. You wanna prove you got a thing for me, don't make me a cop widow!" He huffs pinkly, "Or, y'know, anything like that."
Fraser can feel himself grinning like a loon. "If I promise to be good, do I get a cookie?"
"If you promise," Ray says, pressing his lean, warm self against Fraser's front and tugging suggestively at his shirt, "you get a cookie. If you actually prove you can restrain yourself from excessive life-threatening weirdness," and here Ray's smile is bright and very near, "you can have the whole box o' Freak Newtons."
Fraser leans back against the refrigerator and slings one leg around the back of Ray's knee, pulling him snug. "Oh you kid," he agrees huskily, and after that he and Ray are far too busy doing other, more interesting things, for them to stand around in the kitchen, quoting candy.