Robert Fraser: She's not coming back to you and why in God's name would you want her to?
Benton Fraser: Because. [Ben starts crying] because I need… Oh God.
Robert Fraser: You're not going to get it. Sometimes in life all you need is that second chance and it's the one thing you're not going to have.
(From a DS Script: Victoria's Secret)
I did need. I needed to be loved, to be needed, to be wanted. But, as my father said, there was no second chance. He's right. At least, that's how it's always seemed.
Looking in Ray Vecchio's eyes right now, I realise there is no second chance there, either. We were friends, good friends, but now I don't think we can ever go back to that friendship – he's… changed, he's different, and me? Well, I'm different too.
He says his goodbyes, loads his new wife into his latest green Buick Riviera, and drives away on his honeymoon.
I glance at my partner, Ray Kowalski, and he's staring at the ground, his hands shoved into the pockets of his jeans. "Ray?"
He glances up, his face unhappy. "Huh?"
"Are you all right?"
He shrugs then sighs. "Yeah, Fraser. I guess I just sort of thought there would, you know, maybe be a second chance there."
"There are never second chances," I say sharply, feeling that telltale ache in my heart that I feel every time I think about second chances, every time I see snow falling.
Ray looks at me, the expression on his face showing how perplexed and unhappy he is, and as I walk away, Dief at my heels, I feel his gaze boring into my back.
I putter around my new apartment, Dief whining almost constantly because Ray is not present, and I grow crosser and crosser as each minute ticks by, also because Ray is not present. Not that I blame him for staying away from me. For God's sake, I bit his head off without any provocation. It's not his fault if I am… damaged, as he would say.
Damaged doesn't begin to cover my problems. I'm sure any competent mental health professional would have a field day delving into my psyche.
I want Ray with me constantly, but don't dare ask for his love. I'm afraid. I think about him all the time, I dream about him, but yet, I can't ask him on a date, I can't tell him what he means to me. I'm too fearful of the consequences of what could happen if I voice my desire out loud to him. The last time I loved, it was a disaster. I was a fool. It was folly, sheer madness.
I've never been good at love, never really had much practise, actually, but I suppose that in this day and age that's a good thing. Still, I often wonder what the nape of Ray's neck would feel like under my mouth, what the curve of his arms would feel like around me, and how his body would feel twined with mine…
Going on our adventure was both madness and folly as far as I could see, but Lord, I couldn't resist him or his dream of going on an adventure. So I took him on his adventure, and even though I wanted him badly, I managed to behave like a gentleman during our time in the North and get us both back to the States alive.
I loved him more and more every day out there, and would fall asleep next to him at night, imagining how it would feel to be permitted to kiss him, touch him – make a home with him.
A small tap at the door draws me from my reminisces and Dief barks happily, gambolling about like a pup. I open the door, and Ray stands there, his face serious, his hair awry, his glasses on his face, holding a bag out to me.
"Peace offering? For making you mad?" Ray asks, sounding hesitant, looking down at the brown paper bag in his hands as if he cannot meet my eyes.
Ever since we returned, ever since Ray Vecchio's marriage to Stella and Ray Vecchio's reinstatement at the twenty-seventh precinct – thankfully, Ray Vecchio's injuries from the bullet were not as bad as feared – Ray Kowalski has been – with very few exceptions – quiet. He looks sad frequently, but swears he's not upset over their marriage. I believe him; he has no reason to lie to me. Therefore, he must be upset over the fact that Ray Vecchio is coming back to work, and I'm not really sure why.
When I take the bag, stunned that he thinks I am angry with him, he sort of smiles at me, and then reaches down and pets Dief. "So, um…" he glances at me, then looks away. "See you on Monday?"
"You're not coming in?" I ask, surprised. Judging by the weight of the bag, there is plenty of food here for all three of us.
"Didn't – don't," he corrects himself, "want to, uh, impose."
"Nonsense Ray. Come in. You never impose. You know that." I move back and let him by, and he comes into the apartment, looking nervous.
In silence I put his and my food out on the table, and Dief's in his bowl while I think over his demeanour. It worries me. It has worried me for quite a while, actually, but I thought he would snap out of it. Ray can be moody at times. But it's just getting worse instead of better, so I vow to get to the bottom of it, if I can.
I pour us both a glass of milk and he sits down, in his usual place, and I sit across from him and begin to talk of inconsequential affairs as we partake of our meal.
Ray finally looks up after playing with his sandwich for ten minutes and asks, quietly, "Are you gonna tell Welsh you don't want to be my partner anymore when Vecchio gets back from his honeymoon? Or you want I should just transfer out? The tenth and the sixth both want me back. I wanted to stay at the two-seven, because –" his voice drops so low I can't hear him, then regains some volume. "– but I get it if you want Vecchio back."
"I thought this was settled?" I ask, confused.
"Me too. But you said no second chances, so I figure that meant you wanted Vecchio back as your partner, instead of me. I figure that's why you got mad at me, 'cause you want the first Ray back and don't know how to tell me." Ray sighs, takes off his glasses and rubs his face.
"I was not referring to us, Ray," I tell him gently. "I'm sorry if I gave that impression. It was not my intention. I meant there are no second chances in life. In love. And of course I want you as my partner. How could I not?"
"Oh." He takes a bite of sandwich, his eyes on the table.
I finish eating and watch Dief wait for the crusts of Ray's sandwich, his head on my partner's knee. Ray plays with his sandwich a bit more, then feeds Dief the crusts. He then looks up at me. "You know, I know that."
"That there's no second chances in love," Ray says, his voice betraying his unhappiness. "At least, that's what I've always been told."
"I'm sorry I bit your head off Ray," I say as apologetically as I can. "I shouldn't have." He still loves Stella, I tell myself, feeling as if someone stuck a dull knife through my heart. It's nothing more than I deserve, for desiring him so. He has never tried to make something more of our relationship than there is… unlike myself.
"No, it's okay. Not your fault." He stands up and brushes off his jeans. "So…"
"Yes?" I prompt. I watch him closely and notice his hands trembling, and wonder at that.
"We still partners?"
There is but one answer to that. "If you'll have me." God, I wish he would – I wish he would have me.
He looks at me and smiles a smile that doesn't reach his eyes, nods, and goes to the door. "See you, Fraser."
"Yes, Ray. See you."
He slips out and shuts the door behind him, and for a long time I just sit there and think about him and how there are no second chances.
"Constable, my office," Lieutenant Welsh calls out as I step into the precinct, Diefenbaker at my heels. I nod and walk through the sea of desks and the clamour to find Ray sitting in Lieutenant Welsh's office. He's studying his jeans intently and I look at Lieutenant Welsh quizzically.
"You want to take your partner home, please?"
"Of course, but –"
"He's afraid I'll do something else dumb," Ray interjects, looking up at me then, his hand on Dief's ruff.
"Yeah, Constable, something else. Seems Kowalski here has a problem with being called 'Vecchio' now." I look at Ray in alarm and he scowls at me.
"Dewey's okay," he protests before I can inquire as to what happened.
I look at Lieutenant Welsh and he gives a long-suffering sigh. "Take him home, Constable. He's got three days off."
Ray scowls again and I nod, following my partner out of the Lieutenant's office. Once we get outside the precinct, I draw him aside. "What happened?"
"Nothing," Ray says sullenly. I sigh and he rolls his eyes. "Okay, I dunked his head in the toilet."
"He – never mind." Ray stomps off and I put my hat on my head and Dief and I follow him to his vehicle.
We're driving towards his apartment when he looks over at me. I watch him steadily, concerned about the dark circles under his eyes. "Are you all right?"
"Do you want to –"
We sit in silence until we're near his apartment. I'm perplexed. "Ray, I can't possibly help you if you won't talk to me," I say, attempting to keep my voice as mild as possible.
"Who said I wanted to talk? Who said I wanted help?" he snarls, pulling into a parking space and before I can formulate a response, he's out of the car and heading into his building. Startled, I look at Dief. Dief whines and I shake my head.
"I don't know, Dief. Let's find out, shall we?"
We get out of the car and follow in Ray's footsteps.
The door to his apartment is unlocked, and he's standing in front of his television, looking at something in his hand. I shut the door behind me, and Ray says quietly, "You ever feel that no matter what you do, it's not good enough?"
"Well, I – yes, frequently." I step up behind him and to my surprise, it's a picture of me that he's looking down at. Why would he have this picture of me? It was taken when I left Depot, years ago. Who would have given him such a picture, one I haven't seen in years? "Ray?"
He glances over at me, and nods, turning towards me to face me fully. "Yeah. You. It's you. Not her. It's been you for a long time, but guess we both got kicked in the teeth but good." He looked down at the picture and his mouth softens. "Frobisher gave this to me during our adventure. Welcomed me to the family." His mouth turns down in a slight frown, and he says quietly, "Guess I should have told him the truth."
My world is spinning around and I feel quite light-headed. Can he really be saying what I think he's saying? "What? What do you mean, it's me? And tell him the truth about what?"
"Yeah, you. You wanted him, I used to want her, and now they got each other and we got nothing." Ray shrugs. "It was just a fairy tale, you know?" His lips quirk. "I always wanted to be the one for you, always prayed and hoped that you'd fall in love with me, me the skinny polish kid with a learning disability from the wrong side of the tracks." He makes a noise that sounds like a cross between a laugh and tears, and it tears at my heart. "What a fucking joke, huh? Like someone like you'd ever love me. Like you could." He pauses, and I can feel every single beat of my heart pounding through my blood. "The whole Dewey thing, about Vecchio, well, I just couldn't take it. I don't want to wear his name anymore because there won't ever be any more pretending that it's me you love. Guess that's why I'm so good at undercover – I'm good at pretending. But like you said – there's no second chances." He puts the picture down on the television.
"Ray –" I sound as if I'm being strangled.
"No, it's… it hurts, but… I…" he looks at me again and shrugs. "I suck." His lower lip trembles slightly and he shoves his hands in his pockets. "Never meant to tell you all this shit, never meant to lay it on you, Fraser. I'm sorry. I'm sorry. And I'm sorry I didn't tell Frobisher that he should keep this picture, to give it to someone you really do love."
He presses the well-worn picture into my hand and turns away from me.
I stare down at the photo, wondering how many times he's looked at this picture, this picture of me as a young man, and then I look at him for only a brief second before stepping in front of him and taking his hand in mine, placing the picture back in his hand. He looks at me, startled, and before I can lose my nerve, I lean into him and brush my lips across his.
Ray makes a startled noise and backs away from me. "What the hell?"
"You said you loved me," I say, confused, reaching for him.
"But you love Vecchio!" Ray shouts.
I frown. "I most certainly do not."
"You do! You're the one who said so!"
I shake my head. "Ray, I never said I loved him. Why would you think that?"
He looks uncertain now but says, "You said that there aren't second chances."
"Yes. But I was referring to something my father once said to me. He told me that there are no second chances – that sometimes in love all you need is a second chance… he also told me I'd never get that second chance." Ray looks at me, his gaze unwavering, so I plunge onwards. "I've never been in love with Ray Vecchio. At one time, yes, Ray was my closest friend, but I can assure you that is no longer true. You are my closest friend." Ray just stares at me, and in his hooded gaze I can see the glimmer of hope there. I continue speaking. "Not only are you my closest friend, but I fell in love with you shortly after we met."
"You…" Ray's eyes widen and I nod.
"I love you," I repeat.
"Yes." My stomach clenches. "You." I stare at him, silently willing him to believe.
He comes closer and I pull him into my arms. Hesitantly, his arms come around me, and his hands rest flat upon my back. For long moments, I just hold him, feeling how tense he is beneath my hands. Finally, he relaxes and turns his head. He nuzzles my throat and I release a breath I wasn't even aware that I was holding.
Carefully he steps away from me and puts the picture back down on the television. He looks down at it for a moment and turns to me, looking serious. "You said there's no second chances."
"That's what I said, yes."
"Then what're we?" Ray gestures between us.
He looks frustrated, but repeats himself. "What're we? If there's no second chances, why are we bothering? Is it just casual sex for you?"
I stare at him, speechless at first. How could he think that? Then, I quietly reply, "You know me better than to think that. You know I'm not man who would take that casually."
Ray shakes his head. "If there's no second chances, why bother?"
"Because," I say, stepping close to him and holding onto his biceps, my voice low and angry, "I love you whether I believe in second chances or not! "
"Then don't give up on us before we start!" Ray says furiously, his hands fisting in my serge. He kisses me hard and deep, his tongue sliding into my mouth as I gasp. My hands go up into his hair; I feel like my world is spiralling out of control.
And even though I'm a man who always wants control of every given situation, I give in to the kiss willingly – I give in to him.
I let him back me into the wall, pressing his groin against mine, and I press mine against his, rocking my hips from side to side. Our hands slide across each other's body and I'm becoming increasingly frustrated by the clothes that impede my way to his skin.
He tugs at me, trying to undress me, then growls in apparent frustration. I have never heard anything so sexy in my life. Pulling away from me, his eyes hot with desire, he pulls off his holster and his t- shirt, leaving him bare-chested, and I quickly begin to undress. He pulls me close for another kiss – Lord, can he kiss. I tear my mouth away from his and gasp, "Bed. Take me to your bed." I need him. I want him.
I want this chance.
His eyes grow even hotter, and he all but pulls me into his bedroom.
We finish undressing as quickly as possible, and we tumble onto the bed, kissing and touching and rolling around, and when my hand fastens around his penis, he stiffens and moans.
"Can I suck you?" I mutter in his ear, sliding my tongue across the swirl of his ear.
"Yes!" Ray moans again as I stroke him twice more, and I slide down his body, licking across his hip before raising up slightly and looking down at him.
"God, Ray," I breathe. His penis curves slightly, and he's not as wide as I, but none the less wanted or desired by me. I nuzzle the crease between leg and torso, and he moans, a beautiful noise. I gently draw my tongue across his scrotum over and over, becoming increasingly excited as I smell him and taste him as he writhes under me.
Ray's moaning almost non-stop now, and his penis is leaking profusely. Regretfully I stop licking him there, and draw my tongue up the length of the shaft of his penis. He hisses as I swirl my tongue across the head of his penis, and I stop, looking up at him. "Are you all right?"
"God, Fraser, please," he begs, reaching for me. "More. I want you!"
I turn so that we can pleasure each other, lying next to him with my head at his groin, his at mine. He turns towards me, and I turn towards him, and then I take him back into my mouth. This is wonderful – feeling him on my tongue, tasting his ejaculate, giving him pleasure.
His mouth is hot and wet on my penis and little spikes of pleasure are emanating throughout my body with every touch of his tongue, every suck of his mouth.
I begin sucking him in earnest, wanting him to feel the pleasure I'm feeling, and I run my hands over every part of him I can reach as we make love.
He stiffens next to me and orgasms in my mouth, and I swallow greedily, loving this taste of him. He trembles as I pull out of his mouth and turn around, rolling over onto him, kissing him deeply as I thrust against him, my orgasm flowing across his thigh as my penis pulses against his skin.
Ray moans again, a quiet, soft moan, and I tell him, the taste of him still in my mouth, "I love you Ray Kowalski, I love you."
"Enough to give me a chance? To give yourself a second chance?" he asks quietly, his mouth by my ear, holding me tight, his breath hot on my skin.
"Yes, Ray. Enough for that."
"Good," he breathes, dropping a small kiss to my cheek, whispering, "Love you too, Fraser."
I close my eyes and hold him tight as his fingers curl into my skin, anchoring me to the here and now, to this man who wants me, to this man whom I want, releasing me from a woman in the snow, a woman who never really loved me, a woman with whom there would never be a second chance. And now, for that, I'm truly grateful.
I'm truly grateful my second chance seems to have been reserved for the man in my arms.