Handprint by Miss_Zedem

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Title: Handprint
For:
bluebrocade
Pairing/Characters:
Fraser/Kowalski
Warnings:
R-rated
Author's Notes:
Thank you to jadesfire2808 and athousanderrors for hand-holding, pom-pom waving and all around awesomeness.  To my recipient, I hope you like it; I struggled to incorporate the elements you wanted, and can only hope I succeeded &hearts

This is a sequel to http://miss-zedem.livejournal.com/294240.html, although it makes sense without having read that...

~
"Constable." Ray hears Welsh's voice before he sees Fraser, 'cause he's wearing the blue uniform these days and that makes him stand out a bit less than before. Not to Ray, obviously - Ray can still pick him out in a crowded city street even without his glasses - but there isn't that flash of red anymore, the one that used to send Frannie scurrying to the door like some sort of tiny little Mountie detector. Course, Frannie's kinda got her hands full right now, what with one ankle biter already and another on the way, plus she kinda got the message that Fraser wasn't all that interested in her after Ray and him came back from Canada and moved in together. So all in all, Ray's lost all his old cues that hey, Fraser's in the building, which may or may not be a good thing.

"Corporal, I mean. You would think I'd be used to that by now, wouldn't you, Fraser?" Welsh is still talking and Fraser hasn't said nothing yet, and that's weird enough that Ray stands up, grabbing his jacket and his Sig. They need to be somewhere that's not here, and they need to be there now if not sooner. "How're things going down at the Consulate with the new guy?"

Fraser scratches his eyebrow and tilts his head. "It was his first day today, Lieutenant, so largely administrative thus far. I'm sure things will work out well, however. Inspector Dalgleish is a highly capable officer."

Ray steps up, grabbing Fraser's elbow and pulling him toward the door before he strains something with that goddamn politeness thing he's got going. "Gotta be better than the Ice Queen, huh?" He half-grins at Welsh, getting a narrow look in return. "I'm gonna check out that... thing, Lieu. You know. With the thing." He gestures at the door, half-pulling Fraser, half-walking backwards, almost falling over the wastepaper basket in the process. "You know?"

Welsh sighs heavily. "Bright and early tomorrow morning, Detective. Or you'll be 'checking out' that 'thing' with the parking tickets. We clear?"

"Like a bell, sir." Ray tosses off something between a salute and a wave, turning and dragging Fraser out of the bullpen and down the stairs, into the parking lot and as far as the Goat before saying, "Do I gotta kick his head?"

Fraser just looks at him over the roof of the car, and Dief, who Ray hadn't even noticed, gives a worried bark. And that's enough for Ray to think 'screw it', to make him round the car and pull Fraser into a hug, and to hell with who's watching or what they think. Fraser just kinda sags into him, and Ray frowns, looking down at Dief and getting the wolf-y equivalent of a glare as if it's all his fault, as if it's him who broke Fraser, which okay, maybe it kinda is his fault what with him being the one who wanted to come back to Chicago and all.

"That bad, huh?" he murmurs, and Fraser just shakes his head, his hands too tight on Ray's hips, his breath too hot and unsteady against Ray's neck. They stand there for ages, Fraser clutching Ray like he's gonna fucking go somewhere which yeah, never happening, not in this ever, and Ray staring over his shoulder, seeing but not seeing the comings and goings from the precinct, the banging doors and scattered conversations and heavy footsteps. At some point it starts to rain, or maybe it was always raining and Ray just didn't notice, and he strokes the back of Fraser's head, presses a kiss to his ear and says, "Let's get you home."

~

The assignments are posted at last, and Bob joins the crowd of men jostling for a look at the noticeboard. Ottawa. His heart sinks and he turns away, telling himself it's not important, that there's every chance he'll be relocated after his initial training post. And really, being in a city will give him useful skills, a whole set of new experiences he could never hope to gain otherwise.

"I heard there's some secret service stuff going on back east." Dalgleish is talking loudly to that other chap he's become tight with - Samuels. Horrid little man. "If you're in Ottawa and you say the right things to the right people, you'll get in on it."

"Yeah right, Dalgleish," someone says, and Bob's too far away to tell who it was. Sounds like Baines. Good kid, youngest in their class. Got his head screwed on tighter than a lot of these fools, Bob's always thought. "They're not going to give postings like that to us! We'll be directing traffic, filing witness reports, working the desk - all the rubbish they don't want to do."

There's murmurs of agreement from everyone - excited as they are to graduate, they all know what they're getting into. Lowest of the low, one instructor told them, and they'd better get used to the fact.

Dalgleish shakes his head, sneering at Baines. "Maybe that's true for little fairies like you," he spits, and Lord, Bob would dearly love to hit him, right in the middle of that condescending face of his. "Some of us are better than that though, eh?"

Bob snorts to himself, giving Baines a sympathetic look but saying nothing. As far as he's concerned, Dalgleish is better than no-one, and a lot worse than many. Prejudiced against anyone who isn't just like him - white, middle class, Christian, thick as two short planks - but with the money and deluded self-confidence to back up his delusions. Bob had disliked the man on sight, and twenty-four weeks of sharing barracks hasn't done anything to improve his opinion.

Baines looks like he's going to argue, but thinks better of it, walking away rather than dignify Dalgleish with a response. Good for him. Bob doesn't know whether Dalgleish is right about Baines; it doesn't matter either way as far as he's concerned. Baines is a better man than Dalgleish will ever be, not to mention a better peace officer. But the mention of secret service activity is worrying. Bob reads the newspapers, he knows the kind of thing the Yanks have been up to with their own politicians and public figures, and it would hardly be a surprise to discover the RCMP is conducting something similar behind closed doors. All he can do is hope that men like Dalgleish are not in the driving seat...

~

"Ray is an unusual name."

Ben looks up from the report he's typing, suppressing a sigh as he stands to greet Inspector Dalgleish. "Sir?" he asks, schooling his face into an appropriately bland expression. He's been expecting this conversation ever since Dalgleish arrived, although things being what they are it's taken almost five days. Five tense, awful days, every one of which has added a knot to Ben's shoulders, a twist to his spine.

Dalgleish smiles unpleasantly. "I was just reading your personnel file, Corporal. Your next of kin is listed as 'Ray Kowalski', your 'partner'." The smile fades. "Unless it's a mistake, of course? I can easily amend it for you?"

"No thank you, sir." Ben straightens his back through sheer force of will, fixing his gaze somewhere over Dalgleish's left shoulder, a technique which served him through many a bewildering conversation with Inspector Thatcher.

"You care to elaborate on that, Corporal?"

Ben swallows. "On what, sir?" He's not hiding, he's not. Nothing wrong with asking for clarification.

"On the fact your partner's name appears to be 'Ray', Corporal." Dalgleish's look is smug, knowing, and Ben has to clench his fists at his side. Suddenly Ray's offer of physical violence seems more appealing.

"It doesn't 'appear to be', sir. His name is Ray."

"'His'?" Dalgleish narrows his eyes. "Ah, I see. By 'partner' you mean your contact at the Chicago Police Department?"

He's giving Ben what Ray would no doubt call an 'out', providing him with the option to make life easier, less uncomfortable. Ben draws himself up to his full height, forcing himself to meet Dalgleish's sharp gaze.

"That is correct, sir." He waits, letting Dalgleish relax a little before continuing. "However, if I understand the tenor of your inquiry correctly, Ray is also my life partner." He lifts his chin. "If we were residing back home, I have no doubt we would have registered our union by now. The United States has no such recourse, unfortunately, although we have enlisted legal help in ensuring that our partnership is as protected as possible."

The hiss of indrawn breath is gratifying, and Ben has to fight his smile.

"I see." Dalgleish's voice is like glaciers cracking. "Very good, Corporal. See that report is on my desk by the end of the day." He turns smartly on his heel and exits the office, leaving Ben blinking after him.

~

Ottawa is big, noisy and dirty. Nothing in Bob's life thus far has prepared him for being surrounded by so many people, so much relentless noise and commotion; he's tempted more than once to ask for a transfer, to leave altogether if it means going home.

But there are compensations. The way people look at him when he wears his uniform, for one. Bob's not a vain man, not given to fussing and preening as so many of the young men he meets seem to be. Yet there's something about The Uniform - and it always has capitals in his head - something which makes him stand taller, straighter. He spends hours working neatsfoot oil into his Sam Browne and his boots, whole evenings polishing the buttons of his dress uniform and even those of his brown working uniform. He stitches, darns, strengthens - the whole process is fascinating to the landlady of the boarding house he stays in, who often watches him when the evening is mild enough that he can sit at his open window and work.

One of his instructors suggests his time might be better used keeping a journal, and Bob reluctantly adopts that into his nightly routine. Before long he has pages of notes on cases, interviews with suspects, comments on his working day and soon it's as much of a habit as the maintenance of his uniforms.

"Still working on that novel, Constable?" It's a balmy late spring evening, and Bob is sitting on the rear steps of the boarding house, chewing his pen and watching the lazy progress of a bee around the small garden. The voice of his neighbor, Professor Jacobsen, startles him, and he looks up, smiling.

"Evening, Professor." Jacobsen joins him on the steps, and Bob shuffles across to make space. "How was work today?"

"Fine, honey. And yours?" Jacobsen's voice is light, teasing, and Bob can't help but respond in kind.

"Good, thank you, sweetheart."

Jacobsen laughs, as he always does when Bob goes along with his gameplay. He may be older - perhaps ten or fifteen year Bob's senior - but he's a genial chap, youthful in his outlook and attitudes, most likely due to his teaching Literature at the local liberal arts college.

"No major crimes to report?" he asks, pulling out a battered packet of cigarettes and offering one, as always, to Bob who declines, as always. "No fascinating tales of the seething cesspit of vice that is Ottawa?" His eyes are dancing with merriment as he lights his cigarette, and Bob laughs, shaking his head.

"I'm afraid not," he says truthfully. The most he's had to do in days is chase after a purse snatcher and hand out the odd parking ticket - hardly the kind of stories he thinks Jacobsen wants to hear.

Jacobsen slaps his shoulder, shaking his head. "That's too bad, Constable. What's the use of my having a Mountie for a neighbor if I don't get to hear dramatic stories?" He grins. "You could make something up. Or hey, how about an Eskimo story?"

"Inuit," Bob corrects mildly, settling back against the rail and smiling at the other man. There are worse ways to spend an evening than talking to the closest thing he has to a friend in this city, and telling stories from home reminds him of that other, cleaner world. Something rustles in the bushes - a rat, most likely - but for the most part it's quiet here in their little garden, relatively so at least, and Bob settles in for another story. "There were two little boys and they had no father and no mother, and they went out every day hunting ptarmigan, and they had never any weapons save a bow. And when they had been out hunting ptarmigan, the men of that place were always very eager to take their catch..."

~

It's late afternoon by the time Ray looks at his watch, frowning slightly at the numbers and shaking his wrist to make sure it's right. Jesus. Almost four-thirty already, and no sign of Fraser.

Glancing at Welsh's office - on a call, good - Ray grabs his Sig from the desk drawer, packing up as unob-, inob-, quietly as he can, tugging his jacket on and leaving without saying anything to anyone. There's a definite chill in the air still, not quite right for almost-summer, and Ray tugs his jacket tighter around him, hurrying over to the Goat and jumping in, peeling out of the parking lot before anyone notices.

He's not sure what he's expecting when he gets to the Consulate, but Fraser standing statue duty isn't it. Ray watches from the car for a few moments - even the Ice Queen didn't used to make Fraser stay past four - but there's no sign of movement, no hint that Fraser's going to come running down the steps any second.

Well, if the mountain won't come to Mohammed... Ray clambers out of his car, glancing up and down the street as he wanders over to lean against the wall near Fraser, close enough to see how cold he looks, and fuck, that means he's been stood here for hours and his back has got to be hurting, and to see how he's barely controlling the urge to say something.

"Hey," Ray says softly, glancing at the big ass door of the Consulate, like that's gonna explain what Fraser's doing out here. Fraser just keeps staring straight ahead, although the lines around his eyes lessen some, and that's a good thing, right? Means Ray did the right thing coming over here rather than just waiting in the car. "Diefster in your office?" Silence, 'cept for the tiniest twitch of Fraser's lips that Ray knows means 'yes'. "You gonna be here much longer?" Quick blink that means 'no'. "'Til five, right, buddy? Okay. Tell you what. I'll go get furface, get him in the car, get your stuff, and by the time I done that you'll be finished, yeah? Then we can make a quick getaway." Nothing, then oh, crap, almost missed it - just this quick little glance that might as well be words for all that it says, and then Fraser's back to statue mode, like a goddamn Mountie cutout or something.

Ray nods sharply, taking a deep breath as he jogs up the steps and into the Consulate, not stopping to see if anyone else is home before he makes his way through to Fraser's office. The door's shut, and Ray braces himself for impact, laughing as Dief launches himself at him, licking every patch of skin he can reach. "Alright, wolf breath, knock it off." Ray ruffles Dief's fur, then stands, getting Fraser's peacoat from the closet, tidying away whatever stuff looks like it needs tidying - not that that's much in Fraser's freakishly neat office - and nodding his head toward the door. "C'mon, let's blow this popcorn stand."

"Corporal?" Aw, crap. Ray runs a hand through his hair, scowling at the door in anticipation of it being pushed open. "I thought I told you to stand guard this after - ah. Hello." A tall man, bulky in that way that boxers turn bulky when they stop training, steps into the room, staring at Ray like he's some kind of fucking exhibit. He might've been handsome once, but he's got frown lines and wrinkles and an unfriendly expression that makes him almost ugly, contrasting weirdly with his still thick blond hair and sharp blue eyes. Dief growls softly, pressing himself up against Ray's legs, practically vibrating. Ray knows how he feels.

"You must be Inspector Dalgleish." Ray smiles nastily. "I heard a lot about you."

Dalgleish returns the smile, and it sits oddly on his face, like the muscles aren't used to being used that way. "I don't believe I -"

"Ray. Ray Kowalski?" Ray pushes his chest out, bouncing a little on his toes. "Come on, I know you heard of me as well." The unpleasant smile becomes a vicious grin. "Corporal Fraser's lover?" Oh, that gets a reaction alright, makes the creep flinch. Ray's tempted to keep going, 'cept for the fact he can just imagine Fraser's pissy look if he does, and no amount of point-scoring's worth that.

"Ah yes." Dalgleish looks like he just smelled something nasty, and Ray grins wider. "Mr Kowalski, might I ask -"

"Detective."

Dalgleish breaks off, looking annoyed. "Excuse me?"

Ray leans his hip on the desk, folding his arms and fishing a toothpick out of his pocket and popping it in his mouth before answering. "It's Detective Kowalski. If you're gonna be condescending at me, least you can do is get my title right."

"Detective Kowalski." He manages to make it sound like an insult, but Ray's been dealing with jackasses for too many years to care. "This is an official office. May I ask what you are doing in it?"

Asshole. "Plotting the downfall of Canada." Ray rolls his eyes, pushing off the desk and into Dalgleish's face, holding up Fraser's coat between them. "Starting with my boyfriend's peacoat." He spits his toothpick out, twirling it in his fingers before pitching it over his shoulder, hearing it hit the trashcan. "That a problem, Inspector?"

Dalgleish eyes him narrowly, and a little warily Ray's pleased to see. "Corporal Fraser is on -"

"Statue duty. Yeah. I tripped over him on the doorstep." Ray lifts his wrist, checking his watch even though he knows perfectly well what time it is. "And oh, look at that. Thirty seconds to an hour since Fraser should've knocked off." He glares at Dalgleish, not even trying to hide how much of a jerk he thinks he is. "You done proving your point now? I mean, he's pretty smart. Think he'd've noticed the badge on your office said 'Inspector' without you having to slap him down." He doesn't give Dalgleish chance to respond, stepping round him and pulling the door open. "C'mon, Dief, we're outta here. Good to meet you, Inspector."

Dief growls softly as they leave the office, and Ray reaches down and scratches his ears because apparently at some point in his life he started understanding deaf half-wolves. Or maybe it's just his own conscience talking. Either way, he's pretty sure he just made life harder for Fraser...

~

"Hey, Constable! Just the man I wanted to see." Jacobsen beams as Bob walks into the coffee house on the corner of their street, waving him over to his table and gesturing to the waitress to fetch some fresh coffee for them both without waiting for Bob's answer. "How'd you like to become an assistant professor for a couple of hours?"

Bob frowns, removing his stetson and nodding at the waitress in greeting before joining Jacobsen at his table. "What would that involve, precisely?" he asks, humoring the man for the moment. They've been neighbors for several months now, and if Bob has learned one thing it's that there's little point in rushing a conversation; Jacobsen usually meanders to the point eventually.

Jacobsen slaps Bob's shoulder, winking at the waitress as she brings their coffee, getting an odd look in return. "I'd like to educate my students," he says grandly, seemingly unnoticing of the waitress' disapproval. "They think literature is all bound in books, in type face, in volumes, that all stories have already flowed from the pens of Dickens and Shakespeare and Joyce." He grins, and Bob finds himself grinning back without knowing why. "I'd like to shake them up." He does a little shimmy on the word 'shake', and Bob laughs, shaking his head.

"Where does my becoming an assistant professor fit into this grand scheme, might I ask?" He sits back, taking a sip of his coffee, still smiling at Jacobsen's infectious enthusiasm. He can't imagine how Jacobsen's students feel about him; Bob's teachers in Depot and high school had tended toward stern rather than enthusiastic, so he has no frame of reference.

"That, my friend, is the genius of it." Jacobsen raises his cup in salute. "Your stories, or rather their stories. The Eskimo ones - sorry, sorry, Inuit." His eyes are sparkling, and Bob has the sinking feeling that he's going to end up saying 'yes' to this idea. "You've told me them, and I love them! How wonderful would it be if you came and told a classful of Literature students?"

Bob shakes his head slowly, less sure, although he can see Jacobsen's point. The stories he knows are ancient things, handed down through generations of people back home. The idea of them being picked over by college kids...

"Come on, Bob. You know you're going to say yes eventually." Jacobsen scrapes his chair across the floor as he leans closer, earning himself another glare from the waitress. "It'll be fun. I'll make it fun." He winks again, and Bob laughs, his reservations melting away like spring snow.

"They must be respectful," he says sternly, even as he knows he's giving in to Jacobsen's will, again. "I will not tolerate any jokes or whispering about the people whose stories these are."

Jacobsen nods seriously, pressing his hands to his chest. "You have my word, Constable." The twinkle in his eye remains, and Bob finds himself laughing along, kicking Jacobsen's foot under the table as they each settle back to finish their coffee.

"You want to be careful, Constable," the waitress tells him later as he pays their bill, her sore-looking hands on wide hips as she watches Jacobsen gathering his belongings. "Keeping company with men like him won't do you any favors."

Bob wants to ask what she means, wants to know what she thinks Jacobsen is 'like', exactly. But as he turns he thinks he sees a face he recognizes, someone from Depot perhaps, and he leaves without asking for clarification, glancing up and down the street in some confusion. Maybe he imagined it, he thinks, falling into step with Jacobsen as they strike out for home. Whatever would someone from Depot be doing in this part of town?

~

The sound of shuffling feet and the smell of strong coffee mixed with candy make Ben stop outside their apartment, key in hand, Diefenbaker nudging impatiently at his leg. Shuffling feet means Ray is dancing. Dancing means Ray had a bad day, which means he's probably looking forward to an evening with Ben, perhaps trying (again) to teach him the finer points of the foxtrot, or possibly the American smooth. Ben can picture the evening in his mind; Ray laughing at Ben's competent but rhythmically challenged dancing, his attempts at instruction becoming lingering touches, heated caresses...

Maybe he shouldn't mention Dalgleish this evening. Perhaps he should just go in, ask what Ray is doing, allow himself to be drawn into the game. The distraction would be welcome after all...

He raises his hand, unlocking the door and stepping into their apartment, shrugging out of his coat and hanging it on the hooks near the door. This place is larger than they need, really, much larger than Ray's old apartment, and positively palatial compared with Ben's lodgings at the Consulate - yet it is home, and Ben feels safe here, comfortable, although it is well within the realms of possibility that that is merely Ray's presence, his aura, for want of a better word, that makes it feel that way.

"Hey." Ray doesn't stop dancing, and for that Ben is glad. "C'mere."

Ben obeys thoughtlessly, stepping into Ray's arms and allowing himself to be pulled into the sway of the music. He's marginally better than he was, although still nowhere near Ray's level of ability, his movements too stiff, too formal. Ben may be able to dance, but Ray is a dancer, something Ben will never be.

"S'American smooth," Ray's saying, his arms looping around Ben in an intimate hold that surely cannot be approved in any dance style, regardless of country of origin. "Fred and Ginger, Gene Kelly - all the greats danced this, Frase. S'like... all the best bits of ballroom, rolled into one." Ben feels Ray's smile against his neck. "Don't think I could lift you, though."

"And I don't believe I could manage it backward in high-heels," Ben murmurs, mostly to make Ray laugh. It's successful, and buys him a little extra time before Ray pulls back, looking at him quizzically.

"So. You gonna tell me, or do I gotta drag it outta you?"

Ben tilts his head, electing to go for 'clueless'. "Tell you what, Ray?"

Ray scowls, eyes narrowing as he looks at Ben. "Don't do that. Do not do that, you hear me?" He steps back, pointing at Ben with both hands, shaking his head. "Nu-uh. We are not having this argument. Because A, it was old a year ago so it's like, dead now, and two, I know you, I fucking know you, Corporal Fraser, and you do not get to insult me by acting like there isn't something biting your ass when there really fucking obviously is."

Ben blinks, on the verge of pointing out that actually there is nothing currently near his posterior, let alone gnawing on it, before deciding that Ray is speaking metaphorically.

"Inspector Dalgleish says that my duties at the Consulate should supercede my duties at the precinct." He sighs, stepping closer and letting himself slump just a little against Ray.

"Inspector Dalgleish is an asshole," Ray says, and while Ben would not couch it in quite those terms, he's unable to disagree with the sentiment. Ray loops his arms around Ben again, pulling him into a slow sway, little more than a gentle rocking motion with the beat of the music. "You tell him to fuck off?"

Ben laughs, letting Ray pull him as he wishes. "Not quite," he murmurs, kissing the side of Ray's neck, smiling as Ray arches his neck in response, leans into him.

"Shame." Ray's laughing too, his stubble scratching against Ben's cheek, his lips. "I'd've liked to have seen that." He turns, kissing Ben's temple, nuzzling softly until Ben gives in and lifts his head, kissing Ray slowly. The worries and tensions of the day, the week, the month, melt away under Ray's hands, his lips, and Ben leans into him, muscles relaxing by increments.

"You know I would never use that word," he scolds gently, barely pulling back enough from the kiss to make himself understood.

He feels rather than sees Ray's smile, feels his own lips curve in response. "Not to Dalgleish you wouldn't," Ray says, and his voice is dark and full of promise. Ben cannot help but respond to it, leaning into Ray as he deepens the kiss, hands curling in the worn fabric of Ray's sweater, dancing forgotten.

"No," he agrees, tugging Ray closer still. It's not a solution, not even partially so. But it helps, Ray grounding him in ways he doesn't understand, could never explain.

Ray doesn't say any more, doesn't need to, his hands heavy on Ben's hips as he leads him toward the bedroom, half-stumbling, half-dancing still, the steps ageless and familiar. By the time they reach the bed they're both mostly undressed, although Ben doesn't remember moving, doesn't remember sliding his hands under Ray's shirt, pushing it up and over his head.

He falls back on the mattress, pulling Ray with him, smiling as they land in a tangled heap amongst the bedding. This is the part he loves; the anticipation, the gentle, teasing touches, too much and not enough all at once. And Ray understands, Ray knows how to take him apart piece by piece until he's trembling, pleading, uttering words he would never say outside the darkness of their bedroom, the very word he claimed he would never use, minutes, hours, days ago.

"Ray," he breathes, and Ray complies, finally pushing into him, so slow and perfect it almost hurts. He curls his hands around Ray's shoulders, drawing him close and kissing him, kissing him until he cannot tell where Ray ends and he begins.

"You could leave," Ray says later, much later, as they lie entwined in the sheets and each other. "We can go to Canada." Ben feels Ray's smile against his cheek. "You'd have to make an honest man outta me to get me in, mind. Reckon you could handle that?"

Ben blinks in the darkness, tightening his arms around Ray, kissing him when the words he needs won't come. Home, and Ray. It sounds perfect.

~

The news that he's going home comes on the same day as the news Jacobsen's been arrested. Bob stares at the landlady for perhaps a whole minute when she tells him, before turning tail and running down to the detachment.

Dalgleish is there, smiling smugly when Bob rushes in. "Oh look," he says, and his voice is full of spite. "It's the professor's friend."

Bob scowls at him, about to ask just what the hell he thinks he's talking about, but the desk sergeant chooses that moment to appear, glancing between the two of them before nodding at Bob to come closer.

"I understand Professor Jacobsen is a close friend of yours," he says, glancing around a little nervously, Bob thinks.

"We live in the same boarding house, sir," Bob confirms, still trying to figure out why it matters. "I wouldn't call us close friends, exactly, but we get along well enough."

The sergeant nods briskly. "It would do well for you to play down your connection with him, Constable." He's flushed, cheeks clashing dreadfully with his brown tunic, and Bob's getting the distinct impression that he doesn't like what he's doing - unlike Dalgleish, who he can hear talking loudly in the corridor. "The man has been under investigation for quite some time, and now he's been brought in..." He leaves the sentence hanging, and Bob nods, still at a loss as to what is going on.

"May I ask on what charges, sir?"

The look on the sergeant's face is sympathetic as he shakes his head. "You've done nothing wrong, son. Let's keep it that way, eh?"

Bob blinks, nodding slowly, still more than a little confused as he salutes the sergeant, getting a quiet 'dismissed' in return. Whatever Jacobsen's done or hasn't done, it must be to do with national security. He doesn't know how Dalgleish got himself onto that team he'd talked about back in Depot, but his involvement makes Bob worried. Nothing that slimy little man is involved with can be good...

The landlady greets him anxiously when he gets back, wringing her hands as Bob tells her what little he knows.

"I told him to be careful!" she says sadly, turning back to her kitchen. "No fool like an old fool, eh?"

Confused as he is, Bob cannot help but agree, climbing the stairs to his room with heavy steps. He always thought he'd be happy to be reassigned, always thought he'd be relieved to leave the city and its noise and dirt behind, and he is, or will be. Just as soon as he stops feeling like he's abandoning a friend.

~

Ottawa is small, ordered and too goddamn clean. Ray should be used to Canadian cities by now, but every time he steps out of the airport he gets this freaky urge to mess it up a bit, to drop some litter or light a cigarette in a prohib-, prehob-, banned area or jump the queue waiting for cabs or something.

"You're doing the right thing y'know, Frase." He's said it twenty times or more since they left Chicago, but he's still not getting anything more than a twitch at the corner of Fraser's mouth that might be a smile, or might be some kind of neuro-whatsit from all those bangs on the head the guy's had. God knows that'd explain a lot...

It's not until they're in a diner somewhere downtown and Fraser's constructing some kind of modern art sculpture thing with his fries rather than eat them that he finally says something.

"The last time..." He stops, and Ray bounces his leg up and down under the table, waiting. "The last time I turned one of them in, they took away my home."

Ray frowns, turns the sentence over in his head, runs it through his Fraser-English translator a couple times. Nope, nothing. He takes a drink of his coffee and waits, pretty sure Fraser's not done.

Fraser scratches his eyebrow, glancing up at Ray sadly before continuing with the modern art. "They sent sent me to Chicago, and while I cannot pretend that that did not have some unexpectedly wonderful repercussions, I cannot help but wonder -"

"What they're gonna do to you this time." Ray gets it now: if catching a murdering Mountie gets you demoted to a desk job miles from home, what's this gonna do? He reaches across the table, grabbing Fraser's hand and making him look up. "They won't do that," he says, low and fierce. "I won't let them, okay, buddy?" He squeezes Fraser's hand, smiling when Fraser squeezes back. "'Sides, it wasn't you who reported him. You even know that Welsh'd written that letter?"

"No." Fraser smiles uncertainly. "I had no idea..."

"There you go then." Ray nods decisively. Neither of them had known Welsh knew what was going down at the Consulate, that he'd been down there to have it out with Dalgleish and had decided all for himself that the guy was an asshole. Welsh might not exactly be marching in the Pride parade, but he liked Fraser, and he'd stepped up without even being asked, proving yet again why Ray'd always liked him.

He leans across the booth, kissing Fraser quickly before sitting back down. "We're not going back to Chicago after this, are we?"

Fraser blushes, looking down at his plate. "I - no. Unless they -"

"They won't," Ray says firmly, because no-one is punishing Fraser for something that's not his fault, not on his watch. He smiles suddenly. "Hey, if we're not going back to Chicago, does that mean...?"

Fraser blushes harder, and Ray has to laugh. "Maggie and an old friend of mine from Depot are meeting us tomorrow at the City Hall," he says, smiling shyly. "We need to obtain a license, but that's simply a matter of signing a few forms and providing adequate identification."

"All of which you packed for me, didn't you?" Ray's grinning as he hauls Fraser across the table for another kiss, destroying the fries sculpture and nearly knocking over his coffee in the process. He loves Chicago, loves his job - but he loves Fraser more, and hell, he'll learn to love Canada, right? "Come on, let's get outta here. Sooner you give your statement, sooner you can help me pick out something to wear so I look pretty tomorrow."

Fraser laughs, and Ray kisses him again, right there in front of God, the waitress, and Canada. There's no way of knowing, but right now? He's pretty sure they're gonna be okay.

END.



Footnotes: The story Bob starts telling can be found at http://www.sacred-texts.com/nam/inu/eft/eft48.htm, along with a bunch of other cool stories if anyone's interested :D

Anyone interested in what the RCMP were up to can find more at http://www.clga.ca/Material/Records/docs/details/rcmp.htm

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27 Comments

Wow, that was fascinating - the parallels between Bob's experience (what a different backstory for him, very cool!) and Fraser's, flipping the situation, very clever!

I hope Dief gets to take a good chunk out of the Inspector's leg before they go off to live happily ever after... :D

Thank you, Stars - I'm glad you liked it!

Musegaarid Author Profile Page said:

Ooh... intriguing! Going to go read those links you provided to find out what happened. Nicely done.

Thank you :) I did a bunch of research a few months ago about the RCMP's historical involvement in the monitoring of suspected homosexuals, and found it completely fascinating. I've been dying to do something more with it ever since, so here we are!

bluebrocade said:

Thank you SOOOOOOOO MUCH, sekrit santa! I love love love "outed" stories, and this one was just PERFECT. I really enjoyed seeing the non-sunshine-n-roses reaction of Dagleish. I love Welsh's role and the alternating with Bob's story. Thanks! This is fabulous! *bookmarks permanently*

Thank you, blue - I'm so relieved you liked it! I'm a fan of 'outed' stories as well, so that section of your prompt was what my brain leapt on and ran with, although I also tried to incorporate the relationship stuff you were looking for, even if I failed utterly on the porn front /o\ And Welsh so would have Fraser's back *pets him*

Gloriana said:

A serious topic for this time of year. I thought the theme of abuse of power was beautifully handled: there isn't the big Ray yells Dalgleish out scene that would have been tempting to write, but far too simplistic an answer for the kind of behaviour Ray and Fraser are facing. It's a fact that sometimes even the best of men are helpless to undo injustices; and I loved the way you showed both Fraser and Bob in this situation - Bob made partly helpless by his own ignorance. To have Welsh, seemingly unaware and yet a better detective than he's often given credit, be the one who sorts it out, felt right.

Of course, the contrast between then and now, between prejudice and the power to marry, are pointedly drawn (though never in a way that overwhelms the story). I liked that you kept Fraser so strongly in character, particularly to Seasons 1 & 2, although somewhat less naive, perhaps. I love him refusing to take cover behind a fiction; and the way Ray backs him up without pushing him to reaction against Dalgleish in a way he isn't suited to. That alone showed us the depth of the relationship, and the depth of knowledge of each other, that Fraser and Ray have built by the time the story starts.

Thank you for such a thoughtful comment! I'm glad the strength of their relationship showed through - I was worried it was becoming too issue heavy, and while the issue was an important one, I didn't want it to overwhelm the story. The main difference of course is that Bob had no-one he could turn to who might have been able to help, while Fraser has a network of supporters even if he doesn't always realise it...

I'm in total awe of this story, Anonymous Author! My heart ached for Bob's friend, Professor Jacobsen. The fact that Bob knew deep down that he was abandoning his friend for "something" he wasn't even aware of made Bob's part of the story be all kinds of ouchies.

Fraser's (and, of course, RayK) story was interesting while being grounded in the realities of what queer/gay/bi/trans couples sometimes go through (especially those with partners involved in law enforcement).

Can I just tell you that I went all starry-eyed at knowing that Welsh was backing the boys up? \Welsh/

Favourite quote:

He falls back on the mattress, pulling Ray with him, smiling as they land in a tangled heap amongst the bedding. This is the part he loves; the anticipation, the gentle, teasing touches, too much and not enough all at once. And Ray understands, Ray knows how to take him apart piece by piece until he's trembling, pleading, uttering words he would never say outside the darkness of their bedroom, the very word he claimed he would never use, minutes, hours, days ago.

*smishes the two of them* BOYS!

Thank you, lucifuge! I'm glad the story worked for you, and particularly young!Bob and his confusion at the situation he found himself in. In my head, as he gets older he finds out more about it, which of course makes him feel worse about abandoning Jacobsen :(

I'm pleased you liked the F/K relationship. I have a bad habit of wanting my characters to exist in the real world, where not everyone is as open-minded as we might hope, and I'm glad that worked. And Welsh is awesome, and would totally have Fraser's back \Welsh/

wihluta said:

I can only second what the commenters have said before me. This is a marvelous (double-)story and I very much enjoyed reading it. You dealt wonderfully with a rather serious and touchy issue. &hearts &hearts

Thanks, wihluta! I'm pleased you liked it :)

Mal Author Profile Page said:

What a wonderful story. I'm in love with the parallel structure, the quietly true characterizations, the whole story painted in elegant understatement, all of it artistically rendered. Just marvelous.

Thank you, Mal! I'm glad you liked the characterisations, and pleased you enjoyed it :)

Ohhh, this is both heartbreaking and heart-melting. Lovely. I especially loved unexpected wonderful Bob.

Thank you! I spent a lot of time trying to figure out what Bob would have been like when he was a newly-minted Mountie, so I'm pleased what I came up with worked for you :)

Luzula Author Profile Page said:

Oh, how interesting to have Fraser meet the same man as Bob went to Depot with. Now I'm picturing Dead!Bob's reaction if he'd still been around. Also, I guess Dalgleish's ill-will wasn't lessened by Fraser being Bob's son.

I love this bit, it's got such wonderful Ray body language and speech. And also good Welsh:

"I'm gonna check out that... thing, Lieu. You know. With the thing." He gestures at the door, half-pulling Fraser, half-walking backwards, almost falling over the wastepaper basket in the process. "You know?"

Welsh sighs heavily. "Bright and early tomorrow morning, Detective. Or you'll be 'checking out' that 'thing' with the parking tickets. We clear?"

Loved the dancing, too.

Thank you, Luzula! The idea of Fraser working for someone Bob had known was something I'd touched on in a previous story, so I wanted to explore it a bit more and this was the perfect excuse. Dalgleish doesn't mention Bob, but yes, in my head part if his treatment of Fraser is down to him being Bob's son (although Fraser was prepared to dislike Dalgleish based on what he knew from his dad, so the bias goes both ways I suppose).

Anyhoo, thanks - I'm glad you enjoyed it :)

What I liked about this was the realism - the fact that Fraser and Ray do have to deal with prejudice like normal people do.

Also, I like how quickly Ray picks up on the problem with Inspector Dalgleish. And the added subtly of Bob having had to deal with him as well.

I liked this a lot, Miss Z. Congrats on a well-written story.

Thank you, Aka. I'm pleased the realism worked for you

This was a great story! Fascinating history intertwined with disturbing reality, intertwined with a beautiful relationship. &hearts

Thanks, Mergatrude! I'm glad the various strands of the story worked for you :)

azamiko Author Profile Page said:

Wow...Was I the only one totally creeped out by what the RCMP was doing? Good story, but now I'm pretty darn disturbed...O_O

The RCMP's historical treatment of LGBT people is horrifying, as is the fact that this wasn't just going on in the 50s and 60s as you might expect, but right up until the 1980s. People were imprisoned, lost their jobs, their reputations... all because the RCMP was convinced that being gay was a threat to national security.

Sorry for disturbing you though!

galenlisle Author Profile Page said:

This was a great read. I liked the solidity of the boys' relationship and yay, Welsh! The Bob flashbacks were fun to see too; it's nice to see him as a person before he was Fraser's father.

vicki said:

Wow brilliant, and can I ask do you have a link to your story Duty, couldn't find a working link sadly :'(

vicki said:

Wow Is there a part 3 please would love more brilliant work

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