Written May 28, 2002

Big thanks to Shadow for betaing. This is dedicated to aouda.

I tell Ray Vecchio I love him and he just looks at me. Doesn't say a word at first. Then, "Don't say that. It's a sin, Benny." And he walks away.

Love is a sin? I never thought that. I am well aware that some people think such, yes, but I think the glory of loving another person must surely be the most beautiful thing in the world. I mean true love, soulmates… not a one night stand, nor a partner set out for deception and lies, but the kind of love that grows and never ceases. I, personally, never have known such a love. I had hoped that Ray Vecchio would be a love like that, but he's not. I understand that now.

I do not want a lover who will be ashamed of what we are together, of who we are. Ray's reaction proves to me that he is not what I need. I need a lover who will love me for who and what I am – I realise I am selfish and hard-headed and no doubt hard to live with. I need to be in control, I need someone who needs me, who will let me take care of them. I need someone who will let me love them.

When Ray tells me that love's a sin, I nod, apologise for making him uncomfortable and that's that. It hurts, I won't lie, but there's nothing I can do to make him love me, make him be who and what I need and want. I honestly don't want to 'make' him do anything… I just want to be wanted, loved, needed.

We never mention my words between us again.

Then I come back from vacation to the shock of my life.

"Fraser! Buddy! You have a good time up there in the Northwest Areas?"

"Territories," I supply dumbly, shocked almost – but not quite – into speechlessness.

This… this isn't Ray Vecchio. This… stranger… is… indescribable. Manic energy, quick smile, a face and body that would send any heterosexual man over the edge into lust, and as our day chasing the performance artist called Greta Garbo slides by, I find myself drawn to him in ways that I've never quite thought of before. Granted, I'm not a stranger to male love and affection, but somehow this goes so much deeper… dare I say love at first sight?

I tear my thoughts away from his body and the enigmatic postcard from Ray Vecchio long enough to ask, "Hey, Ray... would you like to go and get something to eat with me?" Something flutters in my stomach as I ask, and I swallow, hoping that he'll say yes.

A smile breaks out over his face, transforming him into a creature of breathtaking beauty and I feel lust spiral through my body. I catch my breath, hoping he does not notice the tightness of my jeans. "Yeah... I just got to, uh, I'll put away these files and meet you at the car."

"All right. Good." My father is nattering away at me and I talk to him as I make my way outside to where Ray's vehicle is parked. My father speaks of Ray, mysteriously saying that the Yank will turn my life upside down. I have no idea what he means.

By the time Ray arrives at his vehicle, slightly breathless and looking… nice… my father has gone, and Diefenbaker and I are discussing various eateries. Ray doesn't even look fazed over the fact I'm conversing with my half-wolf.

"Where to? You guys decide?"

Dief gives an approving 'woof' at me and I smile down at him. If Ray only realised what Dief just said –

"Yeah? I like him a lot too, Dief," Ray says as he slides into his car. "I got just the place to go."

Aghast, I look from Ray to Dief and feel discomfited. No one but me has ever understood Diefenbaker. Until now, obviously. How could he have known what Dief said? Is he teasing me, and merely happened to luck out with a guess? I open the car door when Ray unlocks it and I let Dief in the vehicle and slide in next to my partner.

Ray laughs as he starts the car, hits 'play' on his car stereo and the expected cacophony of noise does not materialise from the speakers. I never would have thought that Ray liked country music. Ray seems as if he'd be far more, ah, violent in his tastes of music. He is so energetic, so… alive.

Now he's singing along with the song as he drives, and I use the time to study him. Ray is a lithe, graceful man, handsome, silver-grey blue eyes, and very long. Even though we are much of the same height – how would it be to kiss him? To hold him at night? – his legs seem impossibly long. The thoughts of intimacy that I've had since he first wrapped his arms around me and hugged me seem intent on plaguing me continuously this evening as they have all day.

His voice interrupts my ruminations. "Hey, you want to listen to something else? I got lots of CDs. I know that country isn't everyone's cup of tea. Got all kinds of stuff. The case is in the backseat."

Curious, I reach back to get the case and once it's settled on my lap, I open it and start looking through the discs. He has everything from people I've never heard of – Rational Youth and Meatloaf, to those I have – Gordon Lightfoot and the Beatles.

"Eclectic tastes," I remark, putting the case back.

"Yeah, you might say that," he laughs. "I love music. It's just… it's, um, important. Something to lose myself in."

Something compels me to ask. "And do you often find yourself needing to… be lost?" The car jolts as we pull into a dark parking lot full of potholes and my hand tightens around the door handle.

He turns off the ignition and looks out the windshield for a long moment before saying quietly, "All I ever wanted to be was found." He exits the vehicle and I follow after him, Diefenbaker at my heels.

I don't quite know what to make of his words, but perhaps I can ask him someday. He's at the door, talking to a gentleman covered in tattoos.

"Thanks, Bobby," Ray says as he gestures at me to follow him. When I hesitate because of Diefenbaker, Ray gives me a sideways grin and says, "C'mon, Dief."

With a happy whine, Dief follows after Ray and with a smile at the man at the door, I follow them.

We step into a quiet, dim bar and Ray makes his way to the back of the room, nodding to those who call out to him, past pool tables and a small dance floor to a booth. A large woman takes our order and as we're waiting, we talk quietly, Dief at our feet.

I learn quite a bit about my partner, and as he looks at me from under his lashes almost flirtatiously, I wonder, if I made an advance towards him, whether it would be welcome.

When we finish our food, we head back outside and he stands by the car for a moment, looking uncertain. Finally he speaks. "I'll take you back to the consulate."

For a moment, I am almost sure that he wants to ask me something, but it is, no doubt, wishful thinking on my part, so I nod and say, "All right."

As we drive, I notice his hands – beautiful, long fingers, and I wonder what they would feel like on my skin. I think back to Ray Vecchio's assertion that love – love between men, that is – is a sin. Is it? I study Ray's profile as we pull to a stop in front of the consulate.

"I, uh… thanks for asking me to dinner, Fraser," he says, staring out the windshield at the softly falling rain, tapping the steering wheel as he shifts in the seat to the music playing on the radio. Suddenly, he turns to me, something in his eyes, something that I can identify as loneliness and need and fear.

I lick my dry lips, take the plunge. He's not the only one afraid. "Would you like to take me home?" When he looks over my shoulder to the consulate I elucidate. "To your home?"

His eyes widen and he looks around the car nervously. "You – you want to go home with me?"

"Yes," I say simply, unable to lie. Unwilling to lie.

"Yes?" He looks so disbelieving, sounds so stunned.

"Yes." Then, "If not, I understand. I apologise for –"

"I'd, um, like that." With that, he puts the car into drive and heads down the rain slick street.

My stomach rolls with nervousness as we pull to a stop in front of an older apartment building, and I wipe my hands on my jeans. Dief snuffles in my ear and I shoot him an imploring glance, not wanting him to mock my choice. He regards me back steadily, and I fancy I see approval in his eyes.

In silence, we follow Ray to his apartment. He invites us in, his voice quiet, subdued, and I worry I have offended him despite his assertion that he'd 'like that'.

"Want a drink?" Ray asks, his brow furrowed.

"No thank you."

He puts down a bowl of water for Dief and then we look at each other. He still looks worried, confused and I haltingly say, "I certainly did not intend to make you uncomfortable, Ray."

Ray shakes his head and then says, "You didn't."

"Then –"

"I want you… you're fucking gorgeous. I just, um, feel a little – okay, a lot, out of my depth." He frowns, as if puzzled by that, and I step close to him, wanting to reassure him that I am not out of his reach, but instead I bend my head and suck gently at his jaw. His hands come up and clutch my shoulders and he angles himself to allow me access to the soft skin of his throat, giving himself up to me. My heart pounds at the sight of him baring his throat to me, and I want – I need – possession of him.

"Do you understand what you're offering me?" I ask hoarsely. "Do you?" God, I want him, want him so badly.

He presses against me tightly, his breath warm on my throat, his voice low, trying to assure me. "I want you." I'm shaking as his fingers trace my erection through my jeans. I bite his throat, not gently, and he shivers and whispers, "Yes."

"I'll own you," I vow, taking sharp nips at his skin, binding him to me. "I won't share. Can't."

"Own me," he echoes, grinding his erection into mine.

I can't hold out much longer, so I gasp, "Bed?"

"Bed," he assents, taking my hand and leading me towards a doorway at the back of his apartment. We both try to shed clothing one-handed, and I can't believe this is happening, can't believe he wants me, wants me to be with him, wants me own him, to love him.

Once in his bedroom, his eyes glitter in the soft light from the lamp that he's turned on by the bed, and he undresses in front of me, letting me see his body. He's so handsome, his body lean and enticing. I run my hands down his smooth chest, rub my thumbs across his nipples, let my fingertips brush his flat stomach before sliding down to his penis, holding him gently in one hand while I explore his face and ear with the fingertips of my other hand.

He stands quietly, letting me touch and caress, letting me map his body with my hands for long moments, then I step back, away from him, undressing quickly, needing more than the simple touch of my hands on his body.

Ray lies down on his bed and I cover his body with mine, pushing his legs apart slightly so that I can settle against him, letting his skin sear mine with his heat. I lick his ear, sucking his earlobe into my mouth, and rock gently against him.

He gasps and trembles under me, his fingers digging into my skin as he marks my back with his fingernails.

"Sweet," I mutter, taking his mouth in an almost savage kiss. He clutches at me, his nails scraping my skin and the pain is welcome, it's intoxicating and lovely and somehow, he knows that, flipping us over, raising up over me, letting me see the fire in his eyes as he burns for me. I have done this to him, made him a creature of lust and sex, and I want to be inside him, want to cause him to burst into flame.

He kisses me, his teeth sharp on my lip, his tongue hot and wet. Then he breaks the kiss. "Heard you loved him," he pants harshly, looking down at me, "heard it, I don't want it, don't want this to be a fuck, just a fuck, god… don't want –"

"Love you," I say with a shake of my head, cupping the back of his head in my hand, pulling him down to kiss him again, feeling his soft hair slide through my fingers, trying to reassure him that I won't close my eyes to him, that I won't leave him for someone else, someone long gone.

"Promise?" Ray asks, his voice and his body telling me he was hurt badly by someone, and for a brief instant, fury erupts inside me, wanting to kill whoever hurt my Ray so, whoever sliced him open and left him for dead.

I don't, though. Gentle, loving, I touch him. "I promise," I vow, rolling us back over, dropping soft kisses on his chest and stomach. I slide down further and let his penis slide into my mouth, closing my eyes as his taste explodes over my tongue, as his hands cup my head, as his groans fill my ears.

Slowly, I rock against the bed as I suck him, worship his body with all I am. This love is not a sin, and while I may have only known this Ray for hours, I know I can trust him with my heart. He needs me as I need him. It's in his eyes – I see it, I know it.

He tugs at me, pulling me away from his penis and I slide back up his body, looking into his eyes.

"Take me," he says, and it's a command and a plea all at once. How can I resist? I cannot. I do not want to.

I nod and reach for the small bottle of lotion on the bedside table. "Condoms?" I ask as I peer at the label, checking the advisability of using this with a condom.

"No," he says softly. "Bareback."

I lift my eyes, startled. Our eyes lock and he shrugs, trying to look nonchalant and not succeeding. "I'm it for you, right?"

"Yes," I nod. "But –"

Ray smiles, a sweet, slow smile. "You own me."

I do. I will. Mine. My love, my future. I nod and began to prepare him, rubbing lotion across and into the entrance to his body, before slicking myself up. "Turn over." I sound harsh, but if I wait much longer, this will be over before it truly begins.

He shakes his head, drapes his legs over my arms and takes a deep breath. "Now."

I press inwards, sweat rolling down my face as I take him, as his body pulls me inwards. Tears leak from his eyes and I kiss them away, whispering promises of love and forever as his body struggles to accommodate my penis.

His chest heaves and he swallows hard, nodding as I begin to move in him, feeling the pull and stretch of his body. I know I should go slower, but I can't – I need to be with him. "I love you," I whisper, kissing his throat, his shoulders.

"God, Fraser," he pants, meeting me thrust for thrust, his cock trapped between our bodies. I can feel it leaking, can feel it throb with need as I move in him, as I kiss him harder, holding him in my arms. "Oh Goddamn…" he shivers and floods the space between our bodies with his orgasm.

"Oh Ray," I moan, leaning my forehead against his as he licks the sweat from my face. He nips my jawline and I tremble, struggling to make this last between us. But it's too much, too much all together, and I wouldn't change it for anything.

I thrust into him once more, my orgasm tearing through my body, leaving me trembling. It's been a long, long time for me.

Sweaty, sated, we slump together, holding each other tight, the sheets and blankets bunched together at our feet. He reaches over and turns off the lamp, and we lay there in the darkness together, still connected.

I finally whisper, "Did I hurt you?"

"No," Ray whispers back.

Silence begins to fill the bedroom, and I feel myself sliding towards sleep. I fight it, opening my eyes with a struggle. First I must tell him… "Love you," I slur. "Not just a fuck."

"You don't even know me," Ray laughs quietly in the dark. "You could –"

"I found you," I tell him firmly, meaning every word. "I know enough of you. I know." My penis slips from his body, and I roll over, pulling him with me, holding him close. He relaxes against me, then kisses my collarbone.

"Stubborn," he mutters, but I hear a smile in his voice.

"Yes," I agree. "Very."

He shifts against me, and takes my hand in his.

We fall asleep, hand in hand.

A Year Later

Our love is even stronger now, but Ray sometimes asks me what will happen when Ray Vecchio returns. I think he's afraid that after our time together, I could choose someone else to be with, but I can't. I rely on him to keep me human, to warm me inside and out. He does. Ray's a mass of contradictions, yet I love him with everything I am, and plan on spending my entire life showing him that.

We've had our moments, times when things have not been well between us, but I don't think we loved each other any less. In fact, I think of how Ray told me that all he ever wanted was to be found on the first day we met, and I am thankful he let me be the one to find him.

My father was right – Ray has turned my life upside down and inside and out, but I do not regret it.

Sometimes at night, when I hold Ray close, I think of the other Ray's words – "It's a sin, Benny."

It's not.

It's wonderful, and exciting, and scary, and there's no one I'd rather be with. My Ray is a tough man, yet he can be sweet and gentle, and I will never stop loving him.

Love is never a sin, and those who think it is are wrong, terribly wrong.

Love is salvation and forgiveness and revelations.

Love is fighting for each other, never giving up on each other as well as learning to give in to each other.

Love is warmth, laughter, and happiness.

I may own Ray's heart, and his body, but that ownership goes both ways. I own him and he in turn owns me.

If that's a sin, then so be it. I ask no forgiveness, and want none. I am happy. I am loved.

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