|Tonight Fraser was at Ray's apartment cooking supper for both of them. He had been doing that a lot lately and Ray was sitting at his kitchen table thinking that Fraser really was a better cook than Stella had ever been. Ray wasn't sure what there was about spending time alone with the Mountie that made him feel so easy, so comfortable. Time spent with Fraser, when off-duty, was peaceful time and Ray had come to accept this as a perk of being undercover without really analysing it too much.|
"I can get the week of the 14th off after all," Fraser was saying from his place at the stove, "so I was thinking we might go to Toronto together." He actually pronounced it "Trawna" so for a moment Ray didn't know where he meant. Then he figured it out.
"If you think I'm going to waste vacation days in Toronto, you're crazy!" He pronounced it with three syllables, as an American would.
Fraser turned the heat down under the pot he had been tending, covered it with a lid and came and sat beside Ray. There was a look of pleading in his blue eyes that for some reason that Ray didn't quite understand, he couldn’t resist.
"You won't regret it, Ray. I promise you we'll do things there together you've never dreamed of doing.
The Harbour Castle Hilton had a beautiful view and was conveniently located on the waterfront near many tourist attractions. But it was expensive, so when Fraser suggested the two of them share a room, that made sense to Ray. As they were unpacking in the room, Ray asked, "So Fraser, what're we going to do that I've never dreamed of doing."
"We're going to a hockey game," was Fraser's happy announcement. "We're going to see the Leafs right in their own home town!"
Ray had no trouble at all staying calm. But seeing Fraser so excited made him feel very good. Idly, he wondered why that might be.
Ray trotted along, letting Fraser lead the way up Bay Street towards Air Canada Centre. It felt strange having Fraser in control. As they walked Ray started thinking that he was more used to having Fraser trail along behind him like a dutiful wife. Wait a minute. What kind of thought was that? He pushed the weird idea from his mind.
At one point, Fraser paused to look at something he saw on the sidewalk. Ray looked away, just wishing that whatever it was Fraser saw he would leave it on the sidewalk, not put it in his mouth, as he was wont to do with interesting objects he found on the sidewalk. Just as Ray happened to turn around, Fraser bent over to pick up whatever he was looking at. Fraser's rear strained against the material of his jeans. Ray noticed that Fraser's back end looked much better in jeans than in those poofy Mountie pants.
Ray was bored at the hockey game. He knew Fraser well enough not to bother to hide his feelings, or rather lack of feelings. Fraser was having enough fun for both of them, anyway, jumping up and down and shouting along with all the other Canadians. Fraser had a large Coke in his hand and when he cheered he also waved his arms around, splashing Coke on Ray. Ray knew his friend had to be pretty excited to be that messy.
Finally, Fraser took a moment to notice his partner was leaning back in his seat, legs extended, arms crossed and gazing at the far-off ceiling.
"Aren't you having a good time, Ray?"
Ray just crossed his eyes to match his arms. "Team sports, Fraser. They don't do anything for me. I like boxing. Just a man alone – and his partner." Then Ray felt a little embarrassed by his choice of words. "I mean, his sparring partner."
"Hmmm." Fraser seemed bothered that Ray wasn't enjoying himself. That's like him, always so considerate of me, always taking care of me, Ray thought.
"You know, Ray, if you join with the emotions around you, you might get into it a little. See the men in the white jerseys?" Fraser pointed to the rink. "They are our team. When they make a good play, you cheer."
"Like I'd know what a good play was." Ray sulked.
"Then just copy me. When I cheer, you cheer. When I boo, you boo."
"I do boo," Then Fraser drew the conversation to a close by inserting a clashing vowel sound,"Ray."
Ray figured he had nothing better to do so he kept an eye on Fraser and copied the Mountie's every move. In unison they jumped up, punched the air, jeered the other team.
One of the white-jerseyed players put the puck into the net. The crowd went wild and Fraser went wild right along. He threw his arms around Ray and hugged him tightly, his whole body against Ray's whole body. Ray couldn't help be aware of Fraser's shoulders against his shoulders, Fraser's chest against his chest, Fraser's belly against his belly.
Fraser had a nice soft belly to be against. Stella was as thin as himself, Ray recalled, and when they were belly to belly their hipbones rubbed against each other. But this wasn't the case with Fraser. Belly to belly with Fraser was quite comfortable, actually, and maybe . . . Ray squelched any further thoughts along those lines.
Ray stumbled on a crack in the sidewalk as they walked back to the hotel. Fraser grabbed him as he went down, but too late to stop Ray from twisting his ankle.
"Would you like me to carry you back to the hotel?" was Fraser's offer.
"You'll have to, or else we'll have to take a cab."
Fraser scooped Ray up and carried him in front of him, not over his shoulder as Ray was expecting. Ray leaned his head against Fraser's shoulder, enjoying the motion of Fraser's stride and he rhythm of his friend's breathing.
Fraser deposited Ray on the bed.
"Ankle feeling any better, Ray?"
"Yeah, it's all better. Thanks for the lift. Say, I'm hungry. Let's order a pizza. They got pizza in Canada?"
Fraser grunted acknowledgement and started to undress. It occurred to Ray that he had never seen his modest partner actually strip before. It looked strange to see Fraser unbutton his shirt. Since Fraser wore a shirt every day Ray knew that he probably unbuttoned it every night, but Ray hadn't ever actually see him do such a thing. There was something suggestive about it, like a strip tease.
Kowalski, you're nuts, Ray chided himself.
Eventually Fraser was down to only his boxers. Ray watched intently, wondering how much further the Mountie would go, but Fraser stopped there. It seemed a companionable, buddy kind of moment so Ray decided to have a buddy kind of companionable conversation.
"Fraser, I've been wondering something."
"Well, you understand that I wouldn't ask this if it weren't a companionable buddy kind of moment."
"Okay, so here's the thing. When we were on that ship and we were sinking, and we were doing that swimming, you know . . . bloom, close . . . " Ray paused.
"And remember when you put your mouth on mine?"
Fraser came over and sat on the bed next to Ray.
"Fraser, was that a kiss?"
Fraser chuckled. "No, Ray. You were out of oxygen, I was just blowing air into your lungs, like this." Fraser took Ray's shoulders, pushed him down on the bed and demonstrated buddy-breathing. "Did you feel the air, Ray?"
"Yeah. So, then it wasn't a kiss."
"No. But this is a kiss." Fraser made another demonstration.
They never got around to ordering pizza.