Ray's Christmas Epiphany

By

Bast

Copyright December 2001 Bast

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


"So if you were in the Northwest Areas, what would you be doing tomorrow on Christmas, Fraser?" Ray Kowalski asked as he leaned against the building, waiting for the bomb squad to go through the precinct; a bomb threat had been phoned in a few minutes earlier.

"Territories, Ray," Benton Fraser replied, looking up into the grey Chicago sky. Snow fell around them, thick and fast.

After a few moments of relative silence between them – Ray's fidgeting didn't count as noise – Ray asked, "Well?"

"Well what?" Fraser looked at his partner, slipping his hands in his pockets to warm them.

Ray's aggravation at Fraser not following what he was thinking about showed in his voice. "What would you be doing on Christmas?"

"Nothing at all. Perhaps working," Fraser scanned the crowd for Diefenbaker. His voice rose slightly as he called out, "Diefenbaker, leave that –"

"He's deaf, Fraser," Ray pointed out.

"– donut alone," Fraser shot his best friend a dirty look as Diefenbaker swallowed the donut whole and trotted off to beg from some other unsuspecting soul.

Ray cackled then shoved his hands into his pockets. "Damn, my hands are cold."

"All clear!" The call finally came down and Ray glanced at his watch. As everyone headed back to work, Fraser moved to walk closer to Ray. They walked side by side, their strides matching, their shoulders touching.

At Ray's desk, Fraser asked, "What will you be doing tomorrow?"

"Spending it with you," Ray said, picking up the phone. "Kowalski." With a roll of his eyes, he sat down to listen to the tirade on the other end of the phone. Fraser stared at him in surprise.

When Ray slammed the phone down, Fraser stammered, "But Ray –"

"Say 'Thank you, Ray'," Ray instructed, studying a piece of paper as he sat down.

"Thank you, Ray," Fraser repeated. "But –"

"Say, 'I'll be glad to spend Christmas with you, Ray'." Ray's lips twitched as he glanced up at his partner whose lips twitched in return.

"Yes, I will, Ray, but –"

"Fraser, what?"

"I'm merely trying to ascertain the reason for the invitation," Fraser said, sitting down next to Ray.

"Reason? Reason? What kind of reason do you think you need? You, me, three days off, a wolf, presents, food… sounds good to me. You?"

Fraser nodded. "Yes, Ray… it sounds wonderful." He hesitated then said quietly, "Ray, please don't feel you need to invite me –"

"Fraser," Ray scowled, "I don't have to do anything. You and me, we're partners. We stick together, right? It's not like you've never been home with me!"

"You're correct."

"Okay."

"All right, then."

"Greatness."

"Indeed."

Grinning at each other, they bent over the paperwork and proceeded to finish it up as quickly as possible.

"Hey…" Ray nudged Fraser as he spied Francesca chatting with an officer as she got ready to leave for the day.

"Yes?"

"You get Frannie anything?"

"Well, er, that is to say, I…"

"You didn't get Frannie anything?" Ray was astounded.

"I was afraid she would take it as a far more personal token than I intended. I meant to ask you for advice on what to get her, but after she cornered me getting your coffee last week, I –"

"You're scared of women," Ray stated, pulling the printout out of Fraser's hands.

Fraser sighed. "Not precisely scared, no. I just have no idea what to do with them for the most part. Their attentions are sometimes quite overwhelming."

Ray glanced around. They were alone – most of the people still working were gathered around the cookies and chips and drinks set up by the coffee machine. "You gay?" Ray asked quietly, scrawling his name on the report.

Fraser's face paled and he stared at his best friend. "I…" he swallowed hard and rose to his feet. "I'll just be going –"

Ray grabbed his arm, pulled him back down into the seat and hissed, "You're not going anywhere." Fraser started to rise again and once again, Ray pulled him back down. "Listen to me Fraser. Don't you run off on me. I'm your best friend, right?"

"Yes, Ray, you are."

"Then spit it out."

"Here?" Fraser sounded plaintive.

"Here." Ray's jaw jutted out.

"I don't feel that –" Fraser shook his head, looked around, and sighed. "No. Bisexual, I suppose, although I'm far more attracted to men than women."

"Really?" Ray leaned back in his chair and smiled at Fraser. "Thanks, Fraser."

"For?"

"Sharing something with me. You never tell me anything."

Fraser frowned. "That's not precisely true. Did I not tell you last week when your –"

"Fraser, I'm talking about private things. Not shit about cars or things. I'm talking about best friend things. Like, your hopes… dreams… stuff you always wanted… those kinds of things. Ready to go?"

Hesitantly, Fraser asked, "You still want me to go home with you?"

Ray scowled as he stood. "You being funny or something?"

"Well, no, but –"

"Then let's blow this joint."

As they headed out of the precinct, once again they were in step, walking side by side, shoulders touching with Diefenbaker following close behind.

Scraping the windshield, Ray watched as Fraser started the GTO before climbing out and going around to the passenger side of the car, unlocking the door and getting in.

As Ray scraped the snow and ice from the passenger side of the windshield, Ray thought about what Fraser had told him, and thought about how his and Fraser's life was intertwined so tightly they were rarely apart. Fraser had keys to his house, his car… Fraser had a cell phone, sharing Ray's account… Ray had even added him to his bank account after Fraser refused to use Ray's ATM card on several occasions, as the card was not his. So Ray got Fraser one with his name on it. Problem solved. Ray chuckled, remembering the look on Fraser's face when he handed him the card and the sealed PIN number. Fraser had just stared down at the gold coloured card and then his hand had tightened around it.

Ray's smile faded a bit as he thought about other things – things like Fraser having clothes at Ray's apartment, and Diefenbaker having stuff at the apartment, too... Ray could think of other things too… the easy acceptance of each other, the way they touched, the closeness they shared even if Fraser wasn't too much into sharing, which Ray had to admit hurt sometimes, but Fraser did share more now than he used to.

Ray moved over to the driver's side and thought about how much he cared about Fraser. It didn't bother him to admit he loved Fraser. He did. He loved him more than anyone else in the world, with Diefenbaker and his parents coming in second. Stella was a memory, and that was all. She had moved on, marrying the Style Pig, and he was good with that now. It didn't even hurt anymore. He pulled out another memory and studied it, the scraper slowing on the glass – Fraser telling him that Stella had called and left a message that he should call her. Fraser, standing behind him at home as he dialled her Florida number… Fraser holding him tight as he cried, his tears flowing down his face, nose running, face buried in Fraser's chest, his arms locked tight around Fraser, because once again he wasn't good enough – she would have children with Vecchio but not him. He could remember Fraser wiping his tears away and whispering savagely in his ear, "It's not you, Ray, it's not you."

And a little later, sitting on the couch, leaning against Fraser, exhausted from his tears, still being held by the man he loved more than life itself – for what and who was he without Benton Fraser? – he realised that Fraser was right. It wasn't him, it was her. He remembered falling asleep against Fraser; his hand wrapped around one of Fraser's braces to keep him there, to keep him with him forever.

He could always count on Fraser. And Fraser could count on him.

"Holy shit," Ray breathed. "It's like we're married." Strangely enough, this revelation didn't bother him. In fact, it warmed him to the core.

"Ray?" Fraser was getting back out of the car. "Everything okay?"

"Uh…" Ray looked down at the windshield and the scraper in his cold, wet hand. "Uh… yeah, having a… what do you call it? When you realise something you've known all along even if you never admitted it?"

"An epiphany?" Fraser asked, a questioning look on his face.

"Yeah," Ray said, opening his car door. "An epiphany. I've had one."

"Ah. I see." Fraser reached inside the car and pulled out the Stetson. "I understand, Ray. Come on, Diefenbaker." He pulled the seat forward and Dief whined.

"Fraser, what are you doing?" Ray stopped half in and half out of the car.

"I'm going to walk – well, Dief and I will walk – home," Fraser said, looking confused.

"What in the hell for? The Goat's running fine, we'll be home in two ticks." Ray slid in and closed the car door, turning up the heater.

Fraser looked in the car at his best friend. "No, Ray… to the consulate."

"You wanna pick up clothes or something? 'Cause you got clean clothes at the apartment, you know. Mom washed them after last time you stayed over," Ray informed him. "Get in, let's go."

"Ray, you said –"

"Fraser, get in the car, okay? I'm cold and tired of being here. Let's go. We can finish this conversation at home."

With a sigh, Fraser put the seat back, removed his hat, and climbed back in the car.

+++++

The answering machine light was flashing as they stepped into the darkened apartment. "You wanna check the messages, Fraser?"

"Certainly, Ray."

Fraser hung up his hat and coat, and then removed his tunic, hanging it in the small closet in the living room. Ray hung his coat next to Fraser's, then headed to the bathroom.

Dief drank noisily from his bowl as Fraser began to play back the messages.

[beep] "Ben, please tell Stanley that I found his pocket knife here at the house, and I'll drop it by tomorrow when I bring you boys your presents. Damien is still sick with a bad cold, so he won't be coming. You or Stanley call me to let me know when a good time to drop by is. You boys have a good Christmas together." Fraser shifted uncomfortably and wondered what to write down. Finally he wrote 'Call Mom to let her know when a good time to come by is.' He pushed delete.

[beep] A high-pitched gentleman's voice informed him that Ray needed to come by the Cellular Universe. Fraser, looking puzzled, deleted it, writing down 'Cellular Universe wants you to stop by.'

[beep] "Ben, this is Mom again. It's snowing so badly, I hope you boys don't mind, but I don't think I can drive over there in this weather. Maybe you two can come by. I've gotten you the loveliest present for your apartment –" Fraser stared down at the machine, not even hearing the rest of the message. Ray would surely be angry that the implication was there that they were a couple.

"Hey, what's Mum saying?" Ray pushed rewind and glanced down at the pad of messages. "Cool! I'm going to just run right over and talk to them. Be right back – why don't you put us on some tea?" He grabbed his coat just as his mom's recording started anew. "Damn, Fraser, pause that. I want to hear it when I get back. I'll be back real quick, I'm just walking over to the corner."

"All right, Ray."

Fraser busied himself in the kitchen, humming softly under his breath. He glanced up at the clock on the wall by the television, and his eyes were drawn to the pictures Ray and he had hung. Pictures of he, Ray and Diefenbaker dominated the entire wall. There were pictures of Ray's parents and Ray's brother, Dale, also, but the majority were of him and Ray.

He sighed and looked out the window at the snowfall. He was worried. His revelation hadn't seemed to faze Ray at all, but Ray had had some kind of epiphany – what if that meant he no longer wanted to be around him? He hadn't acted like it, to be sure – in fact, the opposite was true.

Perhaps it was over the new file clerk, Sandy, a pleasant young woman despite the eyebrow piercing. She had her sights set on his partner, Fraser knew. He also thought that Ray was somewhat oblivious to her fawning over him, but perhaps not. No, that was unfair. Just because he wanted to be with Ray didn't give him the right to degrade another's ambition of the same.

"Whew!" Ray exclaimed as he walked back into the apartment. "The snow is coming down and the wind is picking up. Got the tea ready? I could use a warm cup of something." Fraser looked down at the two cups sitting on the counter. When had Ray started drinking tea? "I was thinking we'd have the leftovers from the meatloaf and veggies you made for dinner last night, whattaya say?" Fraser nodded. When had Ray started eating well? Perhaps their lives were more intertwined than Fraser thought. Perhaps Ray was not interested in Sandy after all.

"That's fine, Ray," Fraser made himself speak normally.

"Great." Ray scowled and made a 'turn around' gesture.

"What?" Fraser looked over his shoulder.

"Turn around!"

"Oh." Fraser turned and heard rustling and Ray's delighted little chuckle he gave when he had something he wanted to show him. Fraser smiled.

"Okay, you can turn back around," Ray said. Fraser turned around and looked at Ray who was looking at their – when had things become 'their'? – Christmas tree.

"Ray, I hope you didn't buy me another gift," Fraser said sternly.

Ray just cackled and took off his coat.

Fraser laughed and took the two cups of tea to the kitchen table, getting out a bag of biscuits to go with the tea. Ray bought biscuits for him, Ray… Ray was the dearest friend he had ever had.

"Get the big assortment out – I don't like those," Ray called out as he plugged up the tree. Fraser put the blue bag up and got out the box.

"They're on the table, Ray," Fraser replied, sitting down as Ray came to sit next to him.

They sipped their tea and ate biscuits, enjoying the peace and quiet.

Finally, Fraser broke the silence. He had to know. "You said you had an epiphany."

"Yeah," Ray chuckled, digging through the box of biscuits for a chocolate one. "We're married."

Fraser spit his tea out and choked.

"Shit! Fraser, are you okay?" Ray jumped up and pounded on Fraser's back.

"Quite well," Fraser gasped, his eyes watering. "What did you say?"

"I said… well, " Ray faltered, looking into Fraser's eyes. Suddenly, Ray looked sad and sat back down. "Never mind."

"Ray, please… tell me."

"I said we're married," Ray muttered, looking down at the half-eaten chocolate biscuit on the table where he had tossed it when Fraser had choked.

"Oh. I thought that's what you said," Fraser said faintly. "Er, when?"

"I don't know. I mean, it's like it all crept up on me," Ray sighed, scrubbing his face. "I know, I suck."

"Well," Fraser cleared his throat, "I honestly wouldn't know."

Ray shot him a startled glance and then grinned, the grin broadening when Fraser grinned back.

"Ray?" Fraser asked, mopping up the tea that he had spit out.

Warily, Ray said, "Yeah?"

"You, ah… don't seem, very… disturbed by the fact that we're 'married' as you call it."

"Nope, I'm not." Ray shrugged. "Guess you are though, huh?" He looked sad again.

"No, no, not at all. I was reflecting on how tightly our lives are intertwined while I was preparing tea," Fraser said softly, daring to cover Ray's hand with his. Ray looked at him a long moment and turned his palm, lacing their fingers together. Both men relaxed at that simple touch.

"I think," Fraser said, after a few moments of smiling foolishly at each other, "you should know something."

"What?" Ray's hand tightened on Fraser's.

"I love you."

"I love you too."

"You do?"

"Yeah."

"Was that part of your epiphany?" Fraser asked, curious.

"Kind of… I already knew I loved you," Ray shrugged. "I just wasn't really aware of it. It's just… I just don't think I can live without you, you know? I mean, everything I do is, in some way, because of you. We share everything." Ray blushed. "Well, almost everything."

"I'd like to share that with you too, Ray," Fraser said softly, leaning across the table and gently kissing Ray.

Ray made a soft noise and cupped the back of Fraser's head with his free hand as they kissed. Fraser pulled back first, looking happy.

Ray grinned. "Wow."

"Yes, wow."

"When you want to open presents?" Ray asked, glancing over at the tree.

"Whenever you're ready," Fraser said.

"Eat first," Ray decided. "Then open presents. Then go to bed."

"Your mother called," Fraser reminded him as he rose and began pulling food out of the refrigerator to reheat.

"Oh, yeah!" As Ray headed over to the machine to listen to the message, Fraser touched his lips with his fingertips, scarcely daring to believe that Ray and he had kissed. Intimacy…

"Hey. Fraser."

"Yes, Ray?"

"Can… can I call you Ben?"

Fraser looked pleased. "Yes. Please. I'd like that very much."

"Coolness." Ray beamed at him. "I'm gonna call Mom back."

"Tell her I said hello."

+++++

As they settled in front of the tree, Ben in his sweatpants and Ray in his grey shorts, they looked at each other and then grinned.

"Weird, huh?" Ray asked with a slight laugh.

"Strange in a way, yes," Ben said, leaning towards him a bit.

Ray leaned closer until they were nose to nose. "Yeah. Nothing's changed, but everything is."

"Exactly."

Silence filled the room as they kissed in front of the small tree.

Diefenbaker flopped down by them and nosed his present.

Breathless, Ray said, "Right. Presents." Ben nodded, his eyes sparkling as he handed Ray the first gift.

When Ray opened it, he stared down into the box, his eyes looking suspiciously shiny.

"Was I… presumptuous in getting you an article of jewellery, Ray?" Ben asked worriedly. Ray had commented several times at how he felt naked since a perp had broken the bracelet that he'd worn for years. Ben hadn't been able to find another like it, so got a heavier, thicker linked bracelet for his partner.

Ray lifted the bracelet out and stared at the silver links. "No… not at all, Ben. Put it on me?"

When Ben fastened it around Ray's wrist, he dropped a kiss on Ray's palm.

Ray shivered and stroked up Ben's jaw with his long fingers. "I love you, you know that?"

"Yes," Ben said softly, leaning into the caress. "I love you too."

It was almost too easy, this love…

Ray handed Ben a small bag and while Ben was opening his gift, Ray helped Dief open his.

Dief gave a satisfied 'woof' and licked Ray as a huge chew bone was unwrapped. Dief carried it off to his bed and Ray scooted closer to Ben.

"You like it?" Ray peered at the new cell phone faceplate in Ben's hand.

"Yes, but… precisely how do I…"

"Gimme your phone," Ray chuckled. Ben reached over to the end table and grabbed his phone, handing it to Ray. He watched as Ray popped off the faceplate and slid the new one on. "See?" He held up the phone.

"Thank you, Ray," Ben said, smiling, as he ran his fingers over the Canadian Flag faceplate.

"Welcome." Ray grinned and grabbed another present for Ben. "Here." It was soft and squishy and Ben grinned.

"Here's one for you," Ben said, putting a box in Ray's hands before opening his own gift.

Ray tore the box open and pulled out a three pound bag of Smarties. He laughed and hugged Ben, who was running his hands over the soft sweater that Ray had bought him.

"This is gorgeous, Ray," Ben said quietly. "You spent far too much –"

"Hey, hey, you're the only husband I've got, right?" Ray chuckled and moved to kneel next to Ben. "I wanted to get it for you because I care about you."

"And I you."

Ray began to kiss him and Ben pushed the sweater to one side, pulling Ray closer. Ray's tongue slid across Ben's lips and into his mouth, running across tongue and teeth, his hands tightening on Ben's shoulders as they moved to lie down on the floor.

"Ray. Ray. Ray," Ben chanted as Ray pressed against him, rocking against him.

Part of Ray was screaming that he should be seriously freaked by making love with Ben, but he didn't much care. He was happy, Ben was happy, they were together. No one ever needed Ray like Ben needed Ray – and he had never needed anyone like he needed Ben.

With a grunt, Ben rolled them over and kissed Ray harder as they moved together, not even bothering to remove their clothes. There wasn't enough time, they needed this too badly.

Ray groaned as Ben took him over the edge, the release was so intense. Ben just held him tight as he orgasmed, pressing against Ray so tightly that they felt like they were one person instead of two.

Maybe they were.

They were together, and this was the best Christmas ever.

The first of many, Ray hoped. Looking into Ben's eyes, he saw the same hope reflected there and slumped against Ben, sated and content… and truly happy.


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