NO LONGER APART
Set after Call Of The Wild.
Circumstances have parted Ray and Benny. But it is it what either of them really wants?
An established relationship story.
Written: April 2007. Word count: 2,000.
Ray Vecchio - the real Ray Vecchio, not the odd looking blond with the experimental hair and the Polish name, not the Bookman Armando, but the Italian American cop – sat in his hotel room. In his hand he held a glass of whiskey. He'd already topped the glass up three times, and had called room service for another bottle.
When had he started drinking so heavily? The answer was simple: when he returned from the undercover assignment. He'd had to drink during the assignment, and when he came home he'd continued. In fact it had gotten worse. He hated what he was doing. He hated it because it reminded him of his pop, and he never liked to be reminded of that man.
What was he doing alone in this room? Why wasn't he still in Chicago, surrounded by family and friends? Why had he left with Stella Kowalski, to supposedly set up a bowling alley? That had been nine months and nine states ago, and still Ray hadn't settled. Or was it more that he couldn't settle? He and Stella had never even made it to Miami; well, they had, but not as a couple.
He missed Chicago.
He missed his life as a cop.
He missed his family.
He missed his fellow detectives.
He missed Lieutenant Welsh.
He missed Diefenbaker.
But most of all he missed Benton Fraser.
He still found it hard to believe that Benny had gone. Had gone off with the blond. Had left Ray as easily as Ray had left him. When they'd re-met and Benny had blown his cover, Ray had believed that everything would return to normal.
He'd taken Benny into his arms and told him he'd missed him. It had been too long since he'd last held that firm body, but at the time he couldn't hold him for long enough, not with the blond in the room, glaring at him and muttering, "Benny, how cute." So he'd let Benny go then, and he'd known it was wrong.
Just as, a few hours later, he'd let Benny go again, when he'd sent him off to ‘get his man.' The man who had put Ray into a hospital bed. The man who'd succeeded, where everyone else had failed, to possibly end Ray's career. And once again they were apart.
Ray had seen the look in Benny's eyes as he'd stood by his bedside, but he'd found the blue steady gaze unreadable. He'd known what he wanted to see, but he wasn't sure if he had seen it.
Then everything had moved speedily on. And Benny had gone off with Kowalski. Even now Ray could hear their exchange.
"We still partners?"
"If you'll have me."
And as he'd heard the words, Ray had known. He had lost Benny. Lost him again. This time forever.
Unable to acknowledge that Benny had left him, Ray instead had gone, had fled. Oh, first he'd helped to save Benny and Kowalski, but then he'd gone off with Stella.
Going, in a way had been right. He knew that he'd need to talk through the months he'd been undercover. Knew that he couldn't just return and get on with his life as if nothing had ever happened.
Too much had happened during those months away, too many bad things. Ray had had to do too many things he regretted. Things he did not know if Benny could ever forgive; another reason why he had let Benny go.
Ray had stood by and seen people beaten, bullied and even killed. He'd had to do his own share of threatening, and had fucked women out of sheer necessity. But never once during all those faceless, nameless bed sessions, had he thought of anyone except Benny.
But Benny was in the past. Ray had let him down. Ray had walked away. No matter how much he told himself that it had been his duty, he had still left Benny. Done what he'd promised Benny's dad he never would do.
And so he was alone with no one to blame but himself.
During his months of wandering, he'd wondered all kinds of things, mostly about whether Benny and the blond had become lovers. In fact he'd tortured himself with the thought, deciding that they probably had, certainly once Benny knew that he'd left with Stella Kowalski.
A knock on the door pulled him from his reverie.
He pushed himself to his feet, moved sluggishly to the door and opened it. He was almost knocked off his feet as a white whirlwind threw itself at him. Staggering, clutching at the doorway to save himself, one hand automatically going to pet the wolf's ears, he looked into blue eyes.
Diefenbaker was still licking him, pawing at him, nuzzling him, and Ray was still petting him without realizing it. But his gaze was locked on the man in front of him. All his hopes and dreams in one package.
Oh, that voice. That beautiful, cultured voice.
"Benny." It was all Ray could say. Dief was still licking, nuzzling and whining. Ray pushed at the white head.
Finally Benny spoke, his tone a command. "Diefenbaker." And the wolf stopped. Whined once, but dropped to the floor.
"I've come to take you home, Ray."
"May I come in?"
Suddenly Ray realized that they were still standing there. He backed away. "Yes, yes, of course, Benny. Oh, God, Benny, Benny, Benny."
Ray backed further into the room and Benny followed him. On the edge of his vision he saw Dief bound into the room and leap onto the bed, but it didn't matter. All that mattered was that Benny was here. Benny was standing in front of him.
Then Benny took him into his arms, lowered his mouth and found Ray's. And nothing else in the world mattered.
Not the fact that Benny had gone away.
Not the fact that Benny may have slept with Kowalski.
Not the fact that Benny may have thought that Ray had slept with Stella; which he hadn't.
Not the fact that Ray had stood by and, if not condoned, then at least not condemned murder.
Not the fact that Ray had been responsible for putting at least one man in hospital with his own hands.
Not the fact that Ray had fucked a dozen or more women.
Not the fact that a wolf was lying on his bed, rolling all over it; something Ray had vowed would never happen.
And five seconds later, not the fact that the door opened and the room service man appeared with a bottle of whiskey.
Ray heard the gasp from the man, but he couldn't bring himself to move, to react, to do anything except almost laugh. Benny was not releasing him either; Benny, staid, upright, Canadian Benny, was standing in a hotel room, still holding his male lover.
The man stared first at Ray and Benny, and then at the bed where Diefenbaker was still lying, legs now in the air.
"Dogs are not allowed in rooms," the man said.
Ray almost laughed aloud.
"Actually," Benny said, still not releasing Ray, "he isn't a dog. He's a wolf. Although strictly speaking -" Ray shut him up with another kiss.
The man's eyes had opened even wider. Before he could say that wolves were even worse, Ray acted. As Benny still wasn't releasing him, he had to reach for his wallet that was on the table, near where they stood. Flipping it open within the circle of the safe arms, he tugged out his credit cards. There was about $3,000 in cash; Ray had planned on visiting the casinos that night.
"Here," he said, tossing it into the direction of the hapless man. "Take it, take all of it. Get out, lock the door, and forget that you ever saw a wolf."
The man caught the wallet and opened it. His eyes widened even more, but Ray barely noticed as he returned to what was important: kissing Benny.
On the periphery of his hearing, he heard the door close and the lock being turned, and the rustle of what he assumed to be the, ‘Do Not Disturb' notice being hung on the knob.
No, nothing mattered.
Not the fact that a bellhop had caught him kissing another man.
Not the fact that he'd just handed over $3,000 to a perfect stranger.
Not the fact that his most expensive, brand new Armani suit was being crushed and wrinkled by the ferocity of Benny's embrace.
None of these things mattered. All that mattered was that Benny was here; Benny had come to take him home.
SEVERAL HOURS LATER
Dief had been unceremoniously moved to the sofa, where, after sighing in the way that only he could, he'd settled down, with his nose on his paws.
Ray, limp with love, totally and utterly sated, looked up into the blue loved filled eyes and asked, "How did you find me, Benny? And why?"
Benny had already told him that his and Stanley's quest to find the Hand Of Franklin had lasted for exactly six days. Then Benny had taken Stanley back to Buck Frobisher and had asked Buck to ensure Stanley's safe passage back to Chicago; or wherever he had wanted to go. They had parted as friends, just before they became enemies.
Benny had told him how he had then returned to his father's cabin and rebuilt it, adding, somewhat shyly that he'd included an indoor bathroom. He had heard about Ray and Stella, heard about it from Buck. However, of course he hadn't heard that they had split up, that there never had been a 'they' in the first place.
"The how was relatively easy, Ray. The last time we spoke you asked me if Mounties still always get their man. Well, they do. The why. The why, Ray, is something I remembered reading in one of my father's journals. It was the time when he had been grievously injured in a bear trap. No one knew where he was, thus he expected to die. And then Buck turned up and carried him to safety. He had written: ‘A friend is someone who won't stop until he finds you and brings you home'."
"Is that what we are, Benny?" Ray asked, suddenly cold, suddenly unsure.
"Oh, yes, Ray," Benny replied, smiling and erasing every shred of doubt in Ray's mind. "That and so much more."
"Benny," Ray wanted to speak.
"Yes, Ray?" Benny kissed him.
"I'm sorry, Benny, I never should -"
Benny silenced him with another kiss. "Hush, Ray, not know. Later. We have all the time in the world to talk about anything and everything."
"All the time in the world?" Ray repeated. "That sounds like a proposal to me."
Benny blushed, and Ray realized that he wasn't going to say anymore.
"Benny," he said.
"Will you let me talk to you, later I mean? Will you let me tell you about those months as Armando?"
"Of course I will, Ray. Who else could you tell?"
"You might not like some of the things I have to tell you, Benny. Some -"
But he was silenced again. Ray took the hint.
"Was it a proposal?"
Therefore, Ray made the decision. "Benton Fraser," he said formally, pronouncing Benny's surname correctly for the first time in a long, long time. "I love you. Will you marry me?"
Benny's mouth claimed his, and then he said, "Thank you kindly, Raymond Vecchio." The kiss deepened.
Ten minutes later Ray finally came up for air, for more than a few seconds.
"Benny," he gasped.
"Yes, Ray?" blue guileless eyes blinked at him.
"Was that a yes?"
"Indeed it was, Ray. Indeed it was."
The lovers kissed.
The lovers finally slept.
Diefenbaker did not. He was keeping guard. His pack was back together again, and he knew that they would never again be separated.
Wolves mate for life.
Well, so do some humans.
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