THE THINGS YOU DO FOR LOVE
Ray and Benny are in Canada.
A first time story.
Written: March 2012. Word count: 1,575.
Ray stamps his feet on the hard ice, pulls his fur hat further down over his ears and pushes his gloved hands into the pockets of his heavy overcoat. "Benny?" He ignores the whine in his voice and hopes Benny will as well.
"Yes, Ray?" Benny says brightly, as he glances at Ray.
"What are we doing here?"
Benny beams at him. "We are watching the sunset, Ray."
Ray rolls his eyes. In the time he'd been undercover with the Mob and the months he'd spent in Miami, somewhere along the line he'd forgotten how literal Benny could be. He grits his teeth and forces his mind away from the endless sunshine, the heady warmth, the comfortable chairs, the indoor plumbing; away from the beauty, the complete lack of snow and ice that had been Miami, and instead stares up at the sky.
So it was a sunset? Okay, it was a beautiful one, probably the most beautiful one Ray had ever seen. But it was still only a sunset! They happened everywhere, didn't they? They happened every day wherever you were in the world and he'd seen countless ones over the years. What made this one so special? What was about this particularly sunset that had made Benny drag him from the marginally less cold cabin into the frigid outdoors just to look at it?
He stamps his feet again, almost losing his balance on the ice and then begins to wave his arms around in an attempt to keep warm.
Benny looks at him. "Are you cold, Ray?"
Ray bites his lip, bites back the sarcastic comment he's been about to make and instead just nods. "Yeah, a bit, Benny," he says.
"Would you like to go back to the cabin?"
And Ray knows all he had to say is 'yes, Benny,' and Benny would hook up the dogs and back they'd go. But one look at Benny's face has him silently groaning as he knows he can't say 'yes, Benny'. He can't say it.
Just as he hadn't been able to say 'no, Benny', when, after his return to Chicago and Benny's return from the aborted hunt with Kowalski for the Hand of whatsit, Benny had asked him to go to Canada with him for a short holiday. Ray had vowed once he'd never set foot across the border again; nothing good had ever happened to him in Canada; thus he'd made himself a promise not to return.
Yeah, right. All that had gone out of the window when Benny had looked at him with those big blue eyes, which Ray had sworn had gotten bigger and bluer since the last time he'd seen him and asked. Ray had heard himself saying 'sure, Benny'.
And that is why they are now here, somewhere North of somewhere, standing on hard ice, just watching a damn sunset.
"No, Benny," he manages, belatedly realizing he hasn't answered the question. "I'm good."
Benny squeezes his arm and Ray feels instantly warmer. "Thank you, Ray," he says, letting go of Ray's arm far too quickly for Ray's liking. Then Benny looks at him and says, "If you're cold, Ray, why don't you go and sit in the sledge and pull the furs around you? You'll still be able to see the sunset," he adds.
Ray glances at the sledge and the dogs sprawled around it; they seem perfectly happy to lie on the snow and ice. It is tempting, very tempting. But there are a lot of dogs and to Ray's eyes they look hungry and they all seemed to all be watching him, just waiting for him to get near to them. Even Dief, who is, sensibly in Ray's mind, sitting upright rather than lying down, seems to be eying him in the way he eyes a donut or a packet of peanuts or anything connected to food.
So he stamps his feet once more, rubs his nose that feels like the ice he is standing on and shakes his head, saying once again, "Nah, I'm good, Benny." He stares up at the sky again and wonders just how much longer it will take for the sun to finally slide down behind the horizon. He doesn't know if he's imagining it or not, maybe it was just the cold, but he's sure he's never seen a sun take so long to set before. It must be some Canadian thing.
"Of course," he hears Benny say, "we could share body warmth."
"Well, it would of course be far more effective if we took our clothes off, but -"
"Benton Fraser, I am not taking my clothes off in this Godforsaken frozen . . ." Ray trails off as he sees a hurt look flash across Benny's face. He smiles at Benny and touches his arm.
Benny sighs softly. "I wasn't going to suggest we removed our clothes, Ray. Indeed it would be an extremely foolish thing to do, given the temperature out here."
Oh, right, and it wasn't a foolish thing to have left the fire-warmed, tepid cabin to go out into the middle of nowhere to watch a sunset? No, of course it wasn't; that had been a sensible thing to do. You agreed to it, he mind reminds him.
Yes, he had. And he suddenly has a horrible feeling that had Benny suggested they did take their clothing off, he'd do it. He'd do it for the same reason he did anything and everything else Benny suggested. He'd do it for the same reason he'd ruined suit after suit rummaging through dumpsters; the same reason he'd gone into sewers; the same reason he'd let a wolf into his car to shed hair all over it; the same reason he'd left sun-drenched Miami to return to Chicago; the same reason he'd says 'yes, Benny' when Benny had invited him to go to Canada with him.
The same reason he'd done everything Benny had ever asked him to do: love. He loves the damn Mountie and his Dudley do right ways, his big blue eyes, his perfect hair, his even white teeth; he loves Benton Fraser, the most annoying man he's ever known. And maybe one day he could tell him.
He suddenly realizes Benny is still talking; he wonders what he's missed. "Of course the last time I suggested we share body heat you declined. It was the time we were shut in the meat locker; do you remember that, Ray?"
Of course he remembers it! He remembers every thing he'd done with Benny. Remembers every look, every touch, every word. "Yeah, Benny," he says, "I remember. But that was different."
"Oh? Why is that, Ray?"
"Well," Ray says slowly, playing for time. Why had it been different? Oh, yes, because he hadn't trusted himself to get that close to Benny, hadn't trusted himself to be in Benny's arms, hadn't trusted himself to be pressed against Benny. He wasn't even certain he could now. But given how cold he was, it was probably quite safe. "It just was," he mutters, realizing how lame it sounds. Suddenly inspiration hits him. "We were working." He grins at Benny who just nods.
"We were indeed, Ray," he says. "But we are not working now." And he takes a step towards Ray and then another one and then a third. There is a look on his face that Ray has never seen before, a look that makes Ray's mouth turn dry, a look that makes him suddenly feel more than a little warm. A look that makes him, against his will, take a step backwards, a step backwards that causes him to lose his balance as his foot slips on the ice.
But before he can hit the ground, Benny is there, catching him, steadying him, pulling him upright, gathering him into his arm, tugging him close against his body and . . . And . . . And . . . And . . . Ray's brain suddenly makes sense of the 'and'! And he is kissing him! Benny is kissing him!
And he's kissing Benny back and goes on kissing Benny back, until he starts to fell light-headed. Benny doesn't seem to be troubled by the long time without oxygen, but then he wouldn't be, would he? It's no doubt all part of being the perfect Mountie - not needing to actually breathe.
But Ray isn't any kind of Mountie, perfect or otherwise; he needs to breathe. So reluctantly he breaks the kiss and takes in gulp after gulp of frigid air. "You kissed me, Benny," he says.
Benny nods. "Yes, Ray. I am aware of that."
"Is it some Mountie way of keeping warm?" Ray asks, because suddenly he wonders if that's all it is.
Benny frowns slightly and Ray can see him running through the Mountie manual in his mind. "Why, no, Ray. I am quite certain that it is not."
"Although given you no longer seem to be shivering, maybe I should suggest it as -"
This time Ray kisses Benny and goes on kissing him and kissing him until he realizes the sun has finally set and Dief is by their side, whining and pawing at them. He seems to be saying, "Get into the sledge already so I can get home and be fed."
That suits Ray very much indeed. But first he just has to kiss Benny one more time.
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