It had to happen that some day, on some list, Moo the Prude, Defender of all that is Het and Wholesome, would get a birthday request for slash. She faced the awful choice whether to cop out (mountie out?) or not. Well, the poet of the North said "A promise made is a debt unpaid."
Here I am sitting in Ray's living room, sipping tea while he makes supper in the kitchen. He doesn't want me in the kitchen. He says anybody watching him cook makes him nervous. Ray is a nervous man. Much more nervous than Ray was. While I miss my first Chicago partner and wish I had him back, still, there's something about my new friend . . .
Sitting in his home, the smell of him all around in the upholstery, the curtains, the air . . . I never felt like this toward another man. I always thought it was shameful, even evil, how some men and their partners came to treat each other while alone together on the trail. Oh sure, I understood it, intellectually, how the cold and isolation could drive a man to the most intimate bond with an inappropriate person. But that's not me; that's not now. I'm safe, warm, among crowds of people every day. And still seeing Ray-Stanley everyday and not telling him how much I yearn for him is torture.
Ray comes in from the kitchen. "Pitter patter let's get atter, buddy. Supper's . . ." He stops dead and is staring at me. That intense, almost loving, stare that I saw that day on the docks when we quarelled and almost lost each other. But he's not looking at my face.
I follow his gaze to my own lap. Damn! That which I cannot say in words is being proclaimed another way. And Ray is seeing it - how me must loathe me now! I can't raise my eyes. I can't look him in the face. Force yourself, Benton. Look up and take your punishment.
I force my eyes upwards to meet his. Then, instinctively, downward to the part of him that corresponds to the part of me that has betrayed me. Can it be? Yes! He feels the same way! And to think I held it back from him so long!
"Look at you, Fraser. You're sweating like a pig."
What is this? What is he saying?
"I think you need a shower, buddy. You want a shower? Come on, let's go take one. Supper can wait."
More than anything else, I want to shower with him. I follow him to the bathroom. There he strips off all his clothes and stands before me, beautiful and unadorned as God made him. He's waiting for me to do the same, but I hesitate. I've grown so soft and flabby with all this city living. I'm ashamed to let anyone see me unclothed.
"You going to let me stand here like this all by my lonesome?" He teases me. Then he reaches for my chest and begins to unbutton my shirt. Foolish to be so modest. What have I to hide from him? I shrug and take over, undressing myself while he watches. He enjoys what he is seeing so much I know I don't have to be embarrassed in front of him. I actually leave my clothes on the floor. Only for him would I do this.
Now Ray turns on the water, takes both my hands in his and leads me past the shower curtain with him. We stand there together while the hot water droplets hit us. Tiny sharp shocks to that part of me that is already over-stimulated. I cannot hold back and let go right away before we can do anything at all, I am THAT out of control just being with him.
Does he hate me for this weakness. No, he is smiling. "Wow, Fraser. Without even touching it! Can all Canadians do that?" Bless him for being so thoughtful, making a joke to cover my embarrassment. Hot water washes away the evidence of my lack of control.
Now I reach for his face and draw it near to mine, to kiss him. "Ray . . . Ray . . . "
Something is wrong now. He's pushing me away. He's turning the water off and looking angry. A second ago I was nude, unencumbered, free. Now, suddenly I'm cold and naked. He's taking a towel from the rack, draping it around his shoulders and storming out of the bathroom. I follow him to the living room. Both of us are dripping water on the carpet.
"What's wrong? What have I done?"
"You called me 'Ray'."
"Oh course I called you 'Ray'. That's your name. I don't understand."
"Something about the way you said it. Seemed like you meant HIM, not me."
"No, Ray. I never felt this way about him. He was my friend. Is my friend. You are so much more. You must believe me."
He shakes his head in disbelief and turns away. Roughly I grab him and throw him on the couch. I rip the towel away, although it wouldn't have mattered, it was around his shoulders anyway. I grasp his lanky haunches with both hands and bend down to show him that HE is the one I care for, and no one else. In light of what I am doing to him he cannot help but believe it. I feel his excitement mounting . . . tense . . . tense . . . tense. . . and then he shudders his sweet release.
When all is done, I lay my head on his gaunt, concave stomach. His hipbones cut into my cheek. We are true partners at last.