In My Dreams

by

Bast

Written May 23 2002

This work is not to be reproduced in any way or archived
anywhere without the express written permission of the author


Ray Kowalski stared out the window into the night. There was a light outside his hospital room, illuminating a small garden, complete with a tree.

He'd been lucky, he had to keep reminding himself of that. He could have died. His parents died. He was lucky.

"Ray?"

"Yeah, Dale?" Ray didn't even turn his head to look at his brother, he just kept staring out the window at the tree. It swayed in the wind under the light and he shivered despite himself. Winter was upon them.

"The doctor says you can go home tomorrow."

"Good." He kept his voice even.

He was lucky. He knew it. He could walk now. He was actually almost fully recovered. He was just tired of the surgeries on his leg, he just wanted to be able to walk and run, and he missed his mum and dad. But at least he had Dale. His brother had been there almost from the beginning, coming back from Belize when he'd gotten the news.

Ray was doing good. Except for the dreams. And that voice. He wondered if the car accident had damaged his brain somehow.

"I'm gonna go now, okay?" Dale said softly, turning off the overhead light.

"Yeah, sure." Ray closed his eyes tightly and pulled the blanket up further around him. He heard his brother leave the room, the door closing quietly behind him with a 'snick', and Ray let himself think back to the accident….

+++++

"Ray. Ray. Ray. Ray," someone said insistently. "Ray, you have to wake up."

"Huh?" Groggy, he did his best to open his eyes, disoriented, thinking at first he was late for school.

"Ray. Ray." No. Not late. School was long ago. He was grown now. This was a stranger's voice. Who? Who was calling him? "It's me, Ray."

"Huh?" Ray struggled to open his eyes but couldn't, not quite yet. "Whosis?"

"Ben, Ray." Soft voice, gentle voice. He almost drifted back to sleep… so tempting… so tired and cold. "Ray. Ray, Ray, Ray," buzzed around his head until he finally forced his eyes open and realised he was hanging upside down, held in place in his seat by his seatbelt.

+++++

He shut his mind to the other horrors that he'd seen in what was left of his parents' car, letting himself drift on to the dreams.

In his dreams walked a dark haired, blue-eyed man named Ben with a beautiful smile, saying something to him, something he couldn't quite catch – sometimes he'd hear him say his name. It made him feel better, so every night, while he was getting better, he'd concentrate on Ben, hoping to dream of him. He usually did. When he didn't, he woke up crabby and irritable.

Sometimes, he'd dream about touching him. Touching that face, kissing that throat, and Ben would kiss him back, love him back. He'd wake up half-hysterical, hiding it, because he knew that Ben wasn't real. He wasn't. It was a figment of his imagination. Not real. Not. No. No.

And he wasn't gay… he'd never even looked at men. He had been married. Granted, she left him, but… Ben somehow filled an empty ache inside him, one he never knew he'd had.

Confused and bewildered over the dreams, he wondered if he was losing his mind.

Ray finally drifted into sleep, hoping, nonetheless, despite the confusion rushing through him over wanting and needing an imaginary person, that he'd see Ben again in his dreams.

A Month Later

Snowflakes fell gently from the sky as Dale and Ray drove home from the doctor's office. Ray was improving by leaps and bounds, and the doctor thought that this last surgery had done the trick. Ray sighed as he shifted impatiently in the seat, still discouraged by his limp, wondering what he would do with his life now. He'd accepted that he'd never be a cop again a long time ago during the second – or was it the fourth? – surgery. Didn't make the wanting go away.

Dale talked about the new photography book he was working on and Ray listened, interested despite himself, glad to take his mind off of his depressing, lonely future.

"So I'm trying to get pictures of cops, past and present. Got a line on another photographer who wants to sell his collection of photographs, and supposedly he has a lot that I can use."

"Don't you need, you know, a… a… statement of... damn, uh, release from the person in the picture?"

Dale grinned. "Yeah, but this guy already has the releases. They're unconditional, he claims. We'll see. Want to go over there with me tomorrow?"

"Sure." Ray paused, running his fingers across the cold glass of the door as they pulled into a parking space in front of Ray's apartment.

"Come on, bro. Let's heat up some pizza and watch Twitch City."

"Sounds good," Ray said, smiling as he got out of the car and limped towards the entrance of the building.

The Next Day

"How much is he asking for them?"

"Five."

"Hundred?" Ray looked at his brother, surprised.

Dale shook his head, his ponytail wiggling. "Thousand."

"Can you afford that?" Ray asked sharply.

"Well…"

"Look, Dale. I got all this money, I don't need it all –"

Dale looked exasperated. "Ray, Mum and Dad –"

"– were assholes and you know it. They shouldn't have left you out of the inheritance. Especially not because of you being gay. So the hell what? You're still their kid. Not like I'm any better than you, or whatever." Ray scratched his head. "You doing okay?"

"Yeah, Ray. I'm good." Dale grinned at his brother and they swatted at each other playfully before climbing into the car and heading to their appointment.

+++++

Ray limped into the back room where more photographs were displayed and opened a dust covered box, briefly glancing inside before closing it back up. He felt as if he'd lost something and had to find it, had felt that way since they walked into the building.

He glanced back in the other room at Dale and the other photographer, deep in shop talk. Boring. He squinted, trying to see in the dim light before sliding on his glasses. Something told him to head to the darkest corner and look in the middle box.

As he pulled it out, grunting softly, Franz, the man they were here to see, said, "I wasn't planning on selling this part of the collection." Ray sat down on a milk crate, ignoring him, opening the box. It was crammed full of photos, and Franz said again, a little insistently, "Really, I wasn't."

"How much?" Ray asked, not looking at him. Instead, something compelled him to look through the box – he felt an urgency that he hadn't felt in a very, very long time. He felt almost weak from anticipation.

"I wasn't –"

"How much?" Ray slammed the lid back down on the box. He'd be damned if he'd leave without this box.

"That box has a lot of irreplaceable photos in it."

"I don't care," Ray said sharply. "How much?"

Franz sighed. Dale looked at Ray curiously and Ray waited quietly.

When Franz didn't speak, Ray twitched impatiently. "I'll give you a thousand dollars for this box," Ray said through clenched teeth. The idea of leaving it behind was too painful to contemplate. Dale looked astounded.

Franz looked startled then nodded slowly. "But of course. Let me write you a receipt for all. You will take it with you, ja?" Ray nodded and Franz left the room, shaking his head. Ray struggled to his feet, clutching his box of photographs.

"Ray, what in the hell –"

"Just… I'll tell you later, okay?" Ray tried to smile at his brother and Dale nodded. When Franz returned, Dale helped him load the box into the car, and made arrangements to have the others delivered to the apartment.

As they were on their way home, Dale asked casually, "So. What's up? What's in the box that you wanted so much?"

"Don't know. I really don't." Ray shook his head. Then, "Just… felt it was important."

"One of your hunches, huh?" Dale asked, turning onto the street they lived on.

"Yeah. A hunch," Ray grinned, then turned and looked out the window. When they pulled into a parking space, he blurted, "I've been dreaming."

Dale looked at him curiously, shutting off the car. "About?"

"A man."

Dale's green eyes widened, startled. "You? Dreaming about a MAN? Thought that was my thing, you know. I kind of had the impression you were one hundred percent het."

Ray's lips twisted and he shrugged. "Me too."

"So, where'd you meet him?" Dale's eyes sparkled.

"I… haven't. I just keep dreaming about him."

"Huh?"

"Weird, huh?" Ray's voice turned soft, dreamy. "When we were in the accident, I heard him talking to me… he made me wake up so I could get out of the car. His name's Ben."

Dale stared at him and blinked.

Ray grinned and shrugged. "Told you. Weird. Too weird to believe."

"You know," Dale said, running his hand through his hair, "I believe you, Ray." At Ray's surprised look, Dale continued, "I think that there's things that we will never understand, ways that people who are soulmates can connect, no matter what or how."

"Yeah?"

"Yeah."

As they headed into the apartment, Ray felt a glimmer of hope – maybe Dale was right. Maybe someday he would find Ben.

++++++

Dale brought Ray a soda, looking over his brother's shoulder. "Anything good?"

"Stuff you can maybe use," Ray said, negligently waving a hand at the pile of photographs near his good leg.

"Mounties, huh?" Dale sat down next to Ray and started going through the pile Ray had set aside for him. So engrossed in his task, he felt, rather than saw, Ray stiffen, and when Ray made a little broken sound in his throat, he looked up, worried. "What's up, bro?"

Ray was staring at a photograph in his hands, trembling.

"What?" Dale asked again, reaching for the photograph Ray had.

Ray turned to him, his face pale. "This is him." He held the photo out.

"Yeah?" Dale grinned, and took the photo. He looked down at it and then flipped it over, looking at the pencilled date on the back before looking back at the front of the photo. "Ray?" he asked slowly.

"Yeah?" Ray whispered, his voice breaking.

"This… this is from the 1800's."

"Yeah. I saw."

Dale looked up at his brother. "Maybe, you know, he's got –"

"It's him. I know it is." Ray struggled to his feet. "I… uh… excuse me." He bolted towards his bedroom, and Dale looked back down at the photograph.

The man in the photograph was broad shouldered and handsome, dark hair, standing with a dog – a husky mix, Dale guessed – sitting at his feet in the snow, looking at the camera with a small smile on his lips.

Dale rubbed his eyes, letting himself think of the accident. His parents, well, he'd been estranged from them for years, so hearing they were dead wasn't as bad as it could have been. Sure, he shed some tears, felt some regret, but Ray… Ray almost bled to death. Ray, with his broken leg, and head wound, would have died if he hadn't woke and managed to drag himself out of the twisted wreck of the car, further damaging his leg. Dale turned the photo back over and read the faint words on the back.

"B. Fraser, 1896, Yukon." Dale swallowed hard. "Shit."

The Next Day

"Ray?" Dale asked worriedly, putting a plate of bacon and eggs in front of his brother. Ray looked up at him but didn't say anything. Misery poured from his eyes. "You okay?" Dale sat down next to Ray; fork in hand, ready to eat.

"Yeah. I guess."

Dale shoved a forkful of eggs in his mouth, not saying anything while Ray poked at his food, moving it around the plate. Finally, "Ray, he –"

Ray stood up, shouting, "I know, okay? I fucking goddamn well know! He's dead! How can I hear someone who is dead, someone I never knew?" When Dale didn't answer him, Ray sat back down with a sigh, saying tiredly, "But I do know him. Somehow I do. I did. Do. Did. Whatever."

"I believe you," Dale said mildly. "I do."

Ray stared at him a moment, then smiled a small smile, saying, "Freak."

Dale grinned. "Yeah."

They ate in silence for a few moments, then Ray said softly, "Sorry I yelled at ya, Dale. I know you weren't trying to jerk my chain. I just… he…" Ray sighed.

"No problem, bro." Dale stood and started clearing the table. "No problem." When he started to load the dishwasher, he turned back to face Ray. "Oh yeah… someone called for you while you were in the shower. It's about the Lassiter case. Message is by the phone."

Ray made a face. The Lassiter case was his last completed case before the accident. "Thanks." He headed to the phone and peered at the message. After reading it twice, he frowned. "Dale, did they say anything else?"

"No, just for you to call," Dale said, drying his hands on a dishtowel.

"Fucking assholes," Ray grumbled. "I'm not a cop anymore, but they still gotta call me? Jesus." He dialled the number, leaning against the wall. "Yeah, this is Ray Kowalski," he growled. He paused for a minute then grinned. "Oh hey, Lieutenant Welsh. You got a new number? Sorry, Sir, I didn't – yeah, okay… I can come down now, not a problem. Yeah. Sure. See ya soon." Ray hung up and went to get his coat.

"Dale?" He knocked quietly on his brother's bedroom door. "I'm going down to the precinct. I don't know when I'll be back."

"Okay," Dale called through the door. "Bye."

"Bye."

++++++

"So what we have here, Ray," Lieutenant Welsh said tiredly, "is a clusterfuck. I know, I know, you're not a detective anymore –"

"Not because I don't wanna be," Ray interrupted. Welsh's door was open so he could see out in the bullpen.

"I know, Kowalski," Welsh said, the tone of his voice speaking volumes as to his regret that Ray was no longer one of his detectives. "But I really could use your assistance on this. Since this joker Lassiter is Canadian, they're extraditing him and –" Welsh held up his hand to silence Ray's next words, "they want to talk to you about him. That's all."

"Yeah, okay. I guess," Ray said quietly, turning in his seat, no longer able to look at the commotion in the bullpen, fiddling with the hem of his coat. "When?"

"Well, how about now?" Welsh said looking over Ray's shoulder. "Come in, Constable."

Ray turned to look at the person stepping into Welsh's office and felt all the blood drain from his face as the man who walked through his dreams stood before him. "Ben?" His voice cracked.

"Ray?" Constable Benton Fraser stopped dead in his tracks, staring at the man sitting in the chair, and he, too, paled.

"You two know each other?"

"No. Yes. No," Ray and Ben said simultaneously.

Welsh looked between the two of them and shook his head. "Never mind. I don't want to know." He waved at them. "Use interview room six, gentlemen."

Ray stood and headed out of Welsh's office. Numbly, silently, he led the other man to the very last interview room and stepped inside. Benton Fraser did the same, shutting the door behind him as Ray sat down at the table and looked at the scarred and scratched surface.

Neither man spoke for long moments then Ray, still looking at the tabletop, said, "So. What do you need to know about Lassiter?"

"I just have some routine questions that my superiors have asked me to ask the detective in charge," Ben said quietly.

"Okay, hit me."

"Hit you?" Ben asked, obviously confused.

Ray looked up with a wide grin. "Yeah. Means ask away."

"Oh. Yes. I see," Ben said with a nod. "But before we –"

"No," Ray shook his head. "Not yet. Let's get this over with, then we'll go somewhere else to talk. Okay?"

"Yes, yes indeed," Ben said, looking flustered. "Yes." He pulled out a notebook and they began to discuss the case, Ben jotting down notes as they talked.

+++++

Ben sat stiffly in Ray's car, staring out of the window.

"So…" Ray shivered, despite the heater going full blast. "You…" he felt awkward, strange, and so desperately wanted to touch and kiss the man sitting next to him.

In a low, husky voice, Ben said, "I dream of you. Almost every night."

"You do?" Ray squeaked.

"Yes. I do. And… I… I've often wondered if I was going insane, because I thought I would never find you, never see you… never hold you."

"You…" Ray's voice trailed off and he shook his head before continuing. "You want me like that?"

"Yes." One simple word but it said so much.

Ray and Ben stared at each other, their hearts pounding, the tenuous connection they had forged in their dreams strengthening when faced with one another – the very air crackled between them.

Ray blurted, "Let's go to my place."

They made it to the apartment in record time.

Once there, Ray led Ben to his door. As he started to slide his key in the lock, he heard music playing softly within. "Shit. Dale," he whispered, rubbing his hand through his hair.

"I apologise. I… I'll leave," Ben said, backing up.

Ray looked at him sharply. "What? Why?"

"You have a…" Ben seemed unsure what to say and Ray shook his head.

"No, Ben… it's my brother." Ray shook his head. "I wouldn't – I'm not like that. When I fall in love, that's it."

Ben's face cleared. "Oh. Yes. I see." He licked his lower lip and said, "That's a very admirable trait, Ray."

"What? Being faithful?" Ray looked at him, surprised.

"Yes," Ben said softly. "I like that." They stared at each other, slowly moving closer to each other, when another noise from inside the apartment caused Ben to jerk away.

Ray stepped closer to him and said firmly, "You're not disappearing on me. You do that every single morning almost and I – I – I don't want that. I… I don't want you to go."

"Then I'll stay," Ben said resolutely, his fingertips brushing Ray's cheekbone like a caress.

Ray trembled under that gentle touch – it had been so long since someone had touched him like that – and just looked into Ben's eyes and said helplessly, "I love you and I don't even know your last name… anything about you."

Ben nodded. "And I you, Ray. I never thought to find love this way."

Ray swallowed hard around the lump in his throat. "My brother, he says that people that are soulmates will find a way to connect, no matter what."

"I believe he's right," Ben said softly.

"I'm Ray Kowalski."

"Ben Fraser."

With a look that could be described as nothing but asking permission, Ben slowly wrapped his arms around Ray and embraced him. Ray sighed, leaning against Ben, letting himself be held close.

"Ray?" So intent on each other, neither man realised that the door behind them had opened.

Ray turned in Ben's arms, a smile on his face. "Dale. Uh… wasn't trying to bother you…"

"No bother, I was just going – Ray?" Dale sounded stunned when he saw Ben.

Ray stepped away from Ben and opened his mouth, but Ben was already stepping forward, his hand outstretched, introducing himself. "Constable Benton Fraser, RCMP."

"Dale Kowalski," Dale said, his eyes wide. "You… you're a long way from dead."

"Dead?" Ben asked, confused. "Well, yes, last I checked –"

"Tell you later, Ben," Ray said, not wanting to cross that bridge yet, wrapping his hand around Ben's elbow as if to keep him by his side. "You going out, Dale?"

"Yeah. Maybe I'll get lucky tonight… I think you are," Dale smirked. Ray blushed beet red and scowled, but tightened his grip on Ben's elbow.

As Dale walked past them, Ray muttered, "Play it safe, Dale."

"Will do," Dale said with a nod, "you too."

And then Ben and Ray were alone again, standing on Ray's doorstep. Ray cleared his throat. "Uh… go on in." Only then did he release Ben's elbow.

Ben stepped inside, taking in Ray's apartment, looking around intently. Then, as Ray was shutting the door, he asked, "Dead?"

"Yeah, dead…" Ray said bleakly. He crossed to where the picture sat on top of the box and picked it up. He turned back towards Ben and held the picture out.

"Your limp… it's from the accident?" Ben asked as he crossed the room. Feeling horribly self- conscious, Ray nodded. "It's all right, Ray. I was there, remember?" Ben reminded him.

"How'd you know my name?" Ray asked. "When you were talking to me, I mean?"

"I don't know. I don't know," Ben said, with a shake of his head. "I think that it's one of those things that are unexplained in the universe." Taking the picture from Ray's hands, Ben looked at it for a long moment, and then flipped it over to look at the back. Finally Ben spoke. "Well, this isn't me, as I'm sure you've ascertained. This is my great-grandfather." Ben's lips twisted in a small smile. "He was somewhat of an eccentric. I'm named after him – he, too, was a Benton."

"Oh." Ray's voice was small, and Ben looked up at him then.

"You thought this was me?"

"I didn't know… yeah. I thought it was you." Ray nodded, rubbing his thigh. It was starting to ache.

"Ray, I…" Ben started, stopped, then started again, "Ray, I…there are no words," he said with a shake of his head before he stepped close to Ray and kissed him. Ray surrendered, melting against the other man's bigger body.

Finally, they parted and Ray gasped, "Bedroom, okay?"

Ben nodded and Ray took his hand, lacing their fingers together. "Ben… I…" Ray shook his head, like a dog coming out of water. "I've never done this. But it feels right. It feels…"

"Yes, it does," Ben said solemnly, looking into Ray's eyes. "This is what I've dreamed about."

"Me too," Ray whispered, leaning against Ben. Ray wrapped his arms around the man from his dreams and asked, "When do you have to go back? Back to Canada?"

"Tomorrow, Ray," Ben said, running his fingers through Ray's spiked hair.

"Oh." Ray tried not to let his disappointment show, but somehow Ben knew, Ben felt it too.

Ben leaned back, looking into Ray's eyes. "I'm disappointed too, Ray. But…somehow, somehow, we'll get this straightened out. We'll… we'll work it out, we'll be together. Forever." Ben nuzzled Ray's throat. "I promise," he whispered against Ray's skin.

Ray didn't say a word, he just led Ben to his bedroom and undressed without fanfare in front of the Mountie. When the last of his clothes fell to the floor, he looked into Ben's eyes and said, "I love you. Don't know how or why, I just do." He pulled the blankets back, climbed into bed and waited for Ben to join him.

When Ben finally got his uniform off and slid into bed with Ray, they both sighed and held each other close for a long time. As they lay skin to skin for the first time, Ray realised that he was complete for the first time in his life and he never wanted to give it up. Not now, not tomorrow, not ever.

He turned in Ben's arms and began kissing him, slow, long, sweet kisses, ones that seemed to last for an eternity and not long enough, never long enough. Their tongues slid together, wet and hot, their hands caressed and stroked, touched and fondled.

Ray rolled onto his back, tugging at Ben, wanting Ben on top of him. Ben got the idea, sliding onto Ray's sweat-slick body, his mouth fastened to Ray's in a hot, nasty kiss as his cock bumped against Ray's. They began to move together, a slow slide, cock against cock, fingers digging into flesh, mouth to mouth, sweat mingling, their bodies speaking to each other in the ageless mating dance that binds flesh with flesh, heart with heart, soul with soul.

Ray stiffened and whimpered, coming hard – it had been so long, and never like this, not ever – never such a hot sweet rush, never such a soul stealing event.

Ben's eyes were closed and his teeth worried his lower lip as he continued humping against Ray in an almost frantic way, his entire body shaking, his breath coming hard. Finally, he too reached the pinnacle, and as Ray stared up at him in wonder, Ben's eyes opened and Ray saw forever in those blue eyes. He saw forever, and belonging, and needing, and wanting… and love.

+++++

Morning came all too soon. Neither had slept. They lay in each other's arms all night, alternating making love with talking about their future.

When Ben left Ray's bed, when he dressed and got ready to go, he looked back once and said simply, "I love you, Ray."

"I love you too, Ben," Ray whispered, his hand stroking over the pillow that Ben had used.

Then Constable Benton Fraser RCMP walked out of the bedroom and Ray heard the front door shut quietly. He closed his eyes and let himself wonder if it had been real – if he would ever hear from Ben or see him again.

Two Weeks Later

Ray sighed as Dale hurried around the apartment, grabbing odds and ends to shove into his suitcase. "Are you sure you'll be okay by yourself, Ray?"

"Sure," Ray shook his head as Dale stopped in front of him, hands on his narrow hips. "Look, Dale, you've put your life on hold for me way too long. I'll be fine, geez."

"Well, all right," Dale said softly. "I just – I mean –"

"Yeah, I know. Me too, okay? But you, you, you can't stay here forever, babysittin' me. I'm good. Greatness," Ray said with a forced smile. He didn't want to admit the idea of being alone gave him the heebie jeebies. He wasn't sure why. Maybe it was because he'd been having nightmares about the car accident again. He kept seeing himself die in the accident – he never dreamed about Ben anymore and some part of him thought that Ben couldn't keep him safe any more. He wondered why, why he never dreamed of the man he loved anymore. Was finding Ben, tying his soul to Ben the way he had, wrong? No. Ray gave his head a slight shake as he watched as Dale shut his suitcase with a snap. The love he felt wasn't wrong, and he had to keep believing that he would hear from the other man, and soon.

"You haven't heard from him?" Dale asked gently, moving to sit next to his twin brother.

"No," Ray admitted with a shrug.

"Maybe, you know, they've got him busy doing, I don't know, Mountie stuff."

"Mountie stuff?" Ray grinned in spite of himself.

Dale grinned back. "Yeah."

"Maybe," Ray shrugged again. "Then again, maybe it was just, I dunno, a one night stand." The words sounded hollow even to himself.

"Don't think so, Bro. Something about him – something in his eyes showed me it was way more than that. Give the guy a chance. Okay?" Dale patted his leg and then rose. "Gotta get going. You sure you'll be okay?"

"Yeah. Send me a postcard from – where you going, again?"

"Vienna." Dale smiled and slung his camera case over his shoulder as he picked up his suitcase.

"Be careful, okay?" Ray stood and gave Dale a hug. "Sure you don't want a ride to the airport?"

"I'm sure. Thanks, though. I'll talk to you later, all right?"

Ray nodded, watching his brother leave. After the door shut behind Dale, Ray's eyes were drawn to the picture of the 'other' Ben. He sighed and sat down on the loveseat just as someone knocked on the door. He shook his head. "Forgot something and left your key here, didn't you?" he was muttering to himself as he opened the door.

Ben stood there, Stetson in hand. "Hello, Ray."

"Ben?"

"Yes," Ben smiled a little uncertainly. "I hope you don't mind me showing up without a word. I… I, ah, forgot to get your telephone number before leaving, and when I called information, it was unlisted."

"Yeah, no problem. Forgot to give it to you." Ray stepped back to let Ben come in, but when Ben just stood there, Ray grinned. "Come – come on in. I thought you were Dale. He just left for Vienna."

"Oh." Ben stepped into the apartment, and Ray shut the door behind him.

Awkward, they stared at each other for a moment, then Ray cleared his throat. "So, um, whatcha doing here?"

"Yes. Well, I've, ah," Ben turned his hat in his hands, looking as nervous as a cat on a hot tin roof, "I've come home."

"Home?" Ray echoed.

"Yes. Well, if you'll have me, that is. I've transferred down here to Chicago."

"You – you transferred to Chicago?" Ray's eyes widened. "Why?"

Ben swallowed hard and looked Ray in the eye. "Because you're my soulmate, and I need you. I love you. And I promised forever with you."

"Jesus. You came all the way from Canada, from the places you love – all those snowy places that you told me about – for me?"

Ben nodded, uncertainty written on his face.

Ray launched himself at Ben, holding the other man tightly, the Stetson falling to the floor as they clutched each other tight.

"I never thought – I thought you'd forgotten me," Ray breathed.

"Never," Ben vowed.

"I didn't dream about you anymore," Ray said in a rough voice. "I worried – I thought –"

"No," Ben said, dropping kisses across Ray's jaw. "This is better than anything in our dreams."

"God, yes. Better than dreams." Ray's eyes closed. He knew it wouldn't be easy, but what in the hell ever was?

They hugged again, their bodies fitting together as if they were made for each other – two halves of one whole, never to be separated ever again. Not in their dreams, not in their life together. Soulmates.


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