ALL HE CAN DO

 

By

 

Nikki Harrington

 

Ray can do little more than sit and wait and wish for yesterday to return.

An established relationship story.

Written: February 2013. Word count: 2,360.

 

 

Ray sat on a less than comfortable chair, although given he'd been sitting on it for ten hours he doubted any chair would b comfortable, in the well lit hospital room, listening to the sounds of machines beeping, watching the far too still form of his lover.

 

Benny was always pale, but the color of his face as Ray kept a careful eye on it for even the remotest sign that Benny was alive and was going to come back to him, took 'pale' to a new level. There was no movement beneath his eyelids, his lips were dry and lacking in any real color, a machine was breathing for him and there wasn't the slightest hint that he was alive - other than the sound of the machines which told Ray his lover was still alive, at least technically.

 

The hand Ray held was cool, the skin dry and lacking any hint that it belonged to a living, breathing human being whose heart was still beating. But a beating heart was just about the only thing that Benny was doing on his own. It wasn't a strong heartbeat and sometimes it fluttered and even paused for a second or two which made Ray jump and reach for the bell to call for a nurse. However, despite the stuttering it kept on beating - and while Benny's heart was beating, there had to be hope, right?

 

At least Ray hoped that was the case. The doctors and nurses seemed unwilling to commit themselves as to the likelihood of Benny opening his eyes and returning to Ray. They talked about brain patterns and possible long term damage and a worrying level of unconsciousness and all kinds of other things that Ray for the most part blocked out, didn't understand or chose not to understand.

 

They talked about contacting other family members; well there weren't any. Ray was Benny's only family. Well, apart from Diefenbaker the second and the hospital wouldn't allow a dog, not even a dog that was half wolf and cleaner than a lot of humans Ray had during his years in Chicago come into contact with, into the Benny's hospital room. So Ray was alone in this. Sure he could call his family, but what could they do? They were all still in Chicago, over a thousand miles away from Montana where Ray and Benny had made their home. Like everything in their lives it had been a compromise; Ray wouldn't go and live in Canada, but Benny wanted mountains and scenery and cold weather and snow and small towns. So they'd moved north and found a new home in a small town where Ray was the lawyer and Benny the librarian.

 

And anyway Ray didn't want to worry his mom, she'd suffered a mild heart attack the previous year and Ray didn't want to risk her having another one during her mad dash to get to Montana - because no matter what Ray said, she'd insist on going to him. Frannie and Maria had their own families to care for. No, the time to tell his family was if Benny didn't make it - and Ray wasn't going there. That wasn't going to happen.

 

But still as he let Benny's hand go for a moment so he could stand up and stretch and walk around the room for a minute or two, he allowed his mind to wander for a moment and he wished that it was yesterday again.

 

 

It was just another day in the Raymond Vecchio and Benton Fraser household. Benny got up first as he always did, let Dief out into the yard before showering and dressing and going to the kitchen to put the coffee on and start fixing breakfast for them and Dief. Ray showered while Benny was dressing and by the time he'd chosen his suit, dress shirt and tie for the day the coffee was ready and breakfast was on the table.

 

He greeted Benny with a kiss on the cheek that turned into a kiss on the lips and an embrace that threatened to make them late - again - before Dief barked in his half wolf, half dog way while pushing himself firmly in-between them, forcing them to laugh and break the embrace.

 

They'd been lovers for twelve years and they were still as fond of kissing and embracing and making love as they'd been from the very first day. From the day Benny, Kowalski in tow, had walked into Ray's office in the bowling alley in Miami and had calmly informed him he was taking him home and that Kowalski would stay and run the bowling alley with Stella.

 

Six hours later as he found himself on a plane sitting next to Benny, Ray realized Benny hadn't asked him, hadn't discussed it with him, he'd told him. And then later on in a hotel room in Chicago Benny told him something else which had led to - Well, which had led to a lot of things, many of which surprised Ray as he'd always thought Benny was so . . . Na´ve, innocent even in many ways, certainly when it came to sex and love. He'd had his eyes opened that night and he never wanted them closed again.

 

It had been Benny who had suggested Ray retrain as a lawyer and Ray had found he liked the idea; he liked the idea a lot. It meant he still got to be involved with the law, but wasn't in danger of bring shot at, stabbed, hit over the head or having his suits ruined. And it seemed like the most natural thing in the world for Benny to become a librarian.

 

They sat at the kitchen table talking about what they were going to do that day. Benny had a new assistant starting that day and had plans to overhaul the filing system; Ray had a new client and Mr. and Mrs. Washington coming in to sign their wills - they certainly led exciting lives! But those lives where exciting enough for Ray; a lawyer and a librarian in a small town where everyone knew everyone else and knew everything about everyone; the town had accepted them in a way that had surprised but pleased and reassured Ray.

 

Benny, of course, hadn't been at all surprised by how easily the town-folk had accepted that they suddenly not only had two strangers (you didn't stop becoming a stranger until you'd lived in the town for at least thirty years) in the town, who were taking over the law practice and the library, but these two strangers were both men, men who openly lived together along with a pet deaf wolf.

 

It was Ray's week to take Dief to work with him, which he knew would please Mr. and Mrs. Washington as they were great fans of the second Diefenbaker. As he surreptitiously fed Dief pieces of bacon under the table, Ray wondered not for the first time quite how they'd ended up with a second half wolf, half dog - how the first Dief had found him.

 

They'd been having dinner one evening a few years back when Dief, who was very elderly and showing signs of serious heart problems, had arrived at the backdoor accompanied by a small puppy, who couldn't have been more than a few weeks old. Dief had nudged the puppy into the kitchen, over to his food and water bowls and finally into his basket. When they had got up the next morning Dief was lying on his side on the floor and the puppy had its head on its paws as it stared at the unmoving body.

 

And that's how they'd ended up with Dief the second (just sometimes Ray wished he hadn't insisted on naming their new pet Dief, but hey, he was used to the name). They never did find out who his parents had been, who had owned the dog, and how it had mated with a wolf. It wasn't Dief's off-spring and yet in everyway except for the fact he wasn't deaf, he was in fact identical to Dief and once grown he even had Dief's personality - including a penchant for stealing Ray's donuts.

 

As it was Thursday they would go out to dinner at Nell's Home-Cooked Diner a place where Dief was not only welcome, he even had his own bowl. And that was another good thing about their new professions; they could make plans and know they wouldn't have to break them. They both, like pretty much everyone else in their small town, worked nine to five, Monday to Friday. It was a much slower, more leisurely, far more gentle pace of life than his life in Chicago had been and Ray wouldn't go back to that.

 

Even though they were experiencing the first snowfall of winter, they decided to walk to work as they did most days - it really was a very small town. As they walked along side by side with Dief leading the way Ray found himself smiling at the fact that not only was he walking along in the snow and not slipping on the snow covered sidewalk, it had been his suggestion that they walked. Whoever would have thought it? Certainly not Ray himself.

 

The day was like any other day; the Washingtons, as they always did, brought treats for Dief and spent as long petting and talking to him as they did discussing their wills with Ray. Ray had lunch, did some paperwork and walked home.

 

Benny got home a few minutes after Ray did, they greeted one another as they always did, before washing up and heading out to eat. The snow was thicker, it had been falling all day, the evening cold and bright and again they chose to walk to Nell's.

 

Dinner was excellent, as always, and a couple of hours later they walked home. Ray watched a game on TV while Benny read. Then they let Dief out one more time before going to bed where lips met and hands wandered and bodies came together and names were called before they finally fell asleep.

 

That had been yesterday. That was what Ray wanted back. A perfectly normal, mundane, nothing special, relaxed, calm, stress-free day.

 

 

Today had begun that way. Showers, suit and tie choosing, breakfast, surreptitiously feeding Dief under the table, talking about what their days had in store, getting something out of the freezer for dinner, donning hats and coats and heading out into the white world to walk to work.

 

It was just any other morning, any other walk to work, any other day. At least it was until an hour later.

 

Suddenly Dief who had been sleeping, as he always did, in the corner next to the radiator leaped to his feet and started barking frantically as he raced across the room, rose onto his hind-legs and began to paw at the door.

 

Seconds later there was the sound of screeching brakes, followed by a huge crash that seemed to shake the building. At the sound of the crash Dief put back his head and howled in a way that chilled Ray to the bone before again pawing at the door while barking frantically.

 

Not even bothering to grab his coat Ray ran across the office and with Dief ahead of him raced through his secretary's office, past the waiting room and out into the snow. Dief bounded ahead of him, heading down the hill towards the library and skidding and slipping Ray ran after him. He came to a sliding stop as he stared at where the library had stood; stared at the truck that was now wedged through the wall; stared at what had been the library. Dief put his head back and howled again and before Ray could grab him raced off vanishing into the smoke and dust and still falling bricks.

 

That had been fourteen hours ago.

 

It had taken them two hours to find Benny, secure the area around him, rescue him and get him to the hospital. It had taken another two hours for the nurses and doctors to do whatever it was they'd done with Benny, hook him up to the machines, stabilize him and take him the room where Ray now sat and watched and waited and hoped and even prayed.

 

It was all he could do. For once in his life there was nothing he could do than sit and watch and wait and hope and pray and wish once more that he could have yesterday back.

 

It didn't matter how many hours, how many days, how many weeks, how many months, hell, how many years, went by, he'd spend them where he was, in the room with Benny sitting, watching, waiting, hoping, praying and wishing for yesterday.

 

"You are not going to die; do you hear me, Benny?" he said, as he once again sat down and took Benny's hand and held it between both of his. He wasn't certain but he thought it felt just a little warmer, just a little more real - but he knew that could simply be because that's what he wanted to feel.

 

He leaned a little closer to the bed and stared at his far too still lover; peered down into his face and focused on his closed, still eyelids willing them to move. "I said, do you hear me?" he said. "You are not going to die, Benny. And that's that."

 

And that was that. Benton Fraser was not going to die, because he, Raymond Vecchio wouldn't allow it. He suddenly felt more peaceful than he'd felt since the moment he'd said goodbye to Benny outside his law office and he and Dief had stood for a moment or two watching Benny make his way down the hill to his library.

 

Benny was going to live and in the meantime Ray would sit and watch and wait and hope and pray and wish for yesterday. But it was all right, because Benny was going to live. Anything else simply wasn't acceptable.

 

 

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