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Diefenbaker soon ceased from his anxious pacing in the back seat, settling down to wait out this crisis. The sound of Ray's sobbing went on and on, arrhythmic, broken, a shock to the senses every time he drew breath. The small space of the car's interior filled with the sound of his grief, the salt smell of tears and sweat.

Fraser kept his hand steady on the back of Ray's neck, running his thumb occasionally back and forth across the bare skin. He stared intently out the window, unwilling to intrude on Ray's moment of collapse by watching his face, though it was undeniable that Ray seemed undeterred by his presence, unashamed.

Fraser shifted minutely in his seat, fighting his own slight discomfort at the openness of Ray's emotion, forcing his breathing to remain even. His own body responded sympathetically to Ray's, and it was difficult not to be drawn into the erratic pattern of his gasping, hitching respiration. Each sob sounded painful, as though it was ripped from Ray's body; Fraser could feel Ray's shaking, the heaves of his breath interspersed with a subtler shivering, under the hand he rested on the back of Ray's neck. The space where his palm rested against Ray's neck was damp with sweat, and even under his slowly-moving thumb, Ray's skin felt warm, flushed with his agitation.

He shifted again in his seat, his eyes sweeping across the landscape visible outside the car's windows, and then Fraser stopped short. His instinct was to freeze, but he managed, somehow, to keep his hand on Ray's nape steady, gentle, his thumb moving mechanically back and forth over Ray's skin.

Another surreptitious shift in his seat confirmed it beyond all doubt, though he scarcely doubted what he felt, now that he was paying attention. He was becoming aroused. His own pulse was beating fast, his face flushed, his groin heavy and becoming increasingly sensitive to the mere touch of fabric brushing against his penis.

A wild sob broke free of Ray's throat, shaking him anew, and the sweat-damp skin under Fraser's hand slipped, skidding against his palm. He barely felt the motion as such, overwhelmed by the answering jolt of arousal shooting through him, his penis hardening, pressing up against the constriction of his jeans. Fraser clenched his free hand into a fist, and kept breathing, in through his nose, out through his mouth.

His next inhalation brought him the scent of Ray, his sweat and tears and skin and leather jacket and hair gel, but strongly overlaid now with the musky sharp scent of Fraser's own undeniable arousal. It was surely obvious in the confined space.

He turned his head, finally daring to look at Ray to see whether he'd noticed, but Ray was lost in his own grief, and Fraser was transfixed by the sight of his partner and friend in this miserable state. His face was flushed, crumpled against the indignity of the tears which ran down his face. The tear-tracks picked up the distant glow of streetlights and shimmered on Ray's skin. His eyelashes were darkly spiked with moisture, standing out starkly against his fair cheeks. Ray had one fist pressed to his face, and as Fraser watched he rubbed ineffectually at his nose, the back of his hand coming away visibly wet as he took another gusty, shaking breath.

Well, he could at least be certain that Ray wouldn't smell anything--but then Ray hunched over further, ducking his head lower so that Fraser's hand slid nearly into his hair. His damp hand closed around the steering wheel, and, barely visible in the dimness, Fraser could see tears dropping freely from Ray's eyes to land in his lap.

His own exhalation threatened to escape as a groan, and Fraser strangled back the sound and forced himself to look away, shutting his eyes tight, treacherously glad that Ray's misery so distracted him that there was little danger of him noticing.

Fraser's erection throbbed with his own rapid pulse, but his desire was fueled by every shuddering breath Ray took, as surely as if Ray's breath touched him there, as if Ray--

The mental image came to him with hallucinatory clarity, perhaps not as wholly unbidden as it should have been--he could see himself suddenly tightening his grip on the nape of Ray's neck, pulling him bodily across the distance that separated them, and then--

Fraser opened his eyes wide, staring out at the dark silent street, trying to restore himself to some sense of reality, of normalcy. Ray, his partner, his friend, was in horrible distress. To imagine taking advantage of him in such a state--to take advantage of him as he was doing right now, by being titillated by his breakdown--was a terrible betrayal of trust.

His body did not seem inclined to care much about the ethics of the situation, but, thankfully, Ray's breathing stuttered to a stop, and started again at a slower, more even pace, accompanied with much sniffling. Fraser took a few deliberate breaths--through his mouth this time--and had managed to bring himself under some semblance of control, save for his persistent erection, by the time Ray sat back and said, quietly, "Uh, sorry, Fraser, I just--"

"No," Fraser said, quickly, guilt coursing through him as tangibly as his arousal had a moment before, "Ray, please, you have nothing to apologize for."

Ray snorted--a damp sound, in the circumstances--and said, "Yeah, I guess my mom would say I'm overtired, huh? Need to go home and get some sleep."

It was perfectly true; Ray had been in motion almost non-stop for more than sixty hours now, between solving Mrs. Botrelle's case and personally attending the processing of her release. Add to that the terrible strain Ray had been under, the betrayal by a trusted superior, and Ray's reaction was hardly surprising. "I think she very well might," he said, in a voice that sounded very nearly normal, forcing himself not to shift in his seat now that Ray was capable of noticing him again.

"Yeah," Ray said, "yeah," and then he started up the car and pulled out of the parking spot, heading down the street in the direction that would take them back to the Consulate before Ray continued on to his apartment.

His surroundings were suddenly utterly ordinary: Ray beside him, the familiar vibration of the GTO in motion over familiar streets, Dief's breathing in the back seat. What had happened before might have been a strange waking dream, but for the occasional congested sniff from Ray, and the lingering evidence of his own arousal, less urgent now but still undeniably present.

Ray pulled up in the usual curbside spot in front of the Consulate and put the car into park. Fraser released his seatbelt and popped the door open, then turned back to say something to Ray, something innocuous or perhaps encouraging. He had his mouth open and was groping for the right words when Ray abruptly leaned--practically flung himself--across the intervening space and engulfed Fraser in a hug. His face pressed against Fraser's throat, and he could feel the lingering wetness of tears on his own skin, now, Ray's eyelashes fluttering near his own newly-pounding pulse. The concentrated smell of Ray's body surrounded him, floating up from the clothes he'd been wearing for three days continuously, his arms holding Fraser fast. "Thanks, Fraser," he said, and Fraser could feel Ray's hot, humid breath like a touch through the neck his old worn sweater. "Couldn't've done this without you."

Fraser bit his tongue hard, eyes open wide and fixed on the same storefronts he often stared at during sentry duty, a familiar and numbingly dull sight. He was using all his will, all his attention, to keep from reaching spontaneous orgasm right then and there, and it took him a moment to remember to pat Ray gingerly on the back, to nod so that Ray could feel the motion.

Ray pulled away, and Fraser quickly opened the door, jumping from the car with little remaining care for whether his behavior seemed strange. He barely remembered to let Dief out of the back seat, and would have run up the steps to the door if he could have managed it with his revived erection throbbing in his jeans. As it was, he was hard-pressed not to limp.

Once inside, Dief quickly abandoned him, trotting in the direction of the kitchen, doubtless to commit mayhem on the trash cans. Fraser remained just inside the door, in the official, professional space of the Consulate's front foyer, his arms crossed over his chest, his fists clenched tight. He would not give in to his body's bizarre and untenable demands. He would not.

Even undressing to sleep, even moving, seemed as if it would be a concession, so he remained where he was until his arousal faded. Dief had long been asleep on the cot, and false dawn was lighting the sky, by the time he was willing to go to his office and try to sleep.


Fraser was at the end of his rope.

It had been ten days now since that night in Ray's car had plunged him into something like a second adolescence, with random stimuli leaving him horribly aroused at the most inconvenient possible moments.

Though the stimuli were not, if he were honest with himself, and he might as well be, actually random. No, he had become aroused, on levels from a vague low buzz of awareness to sudden erection, at any time when he was reminded of the incident in the car. Any time Ray seemed upset--once when he blew his nose, of all ridiculous things--Fraser remembered Ray crying, and had the same bizarre reaction.

Other people's tears didn't seem to affect him so, and it had become apparent to him, in the last week and a half of dreadful consciousness of the phenomenon, just how often he encountered crying people in his line of work. As a peace officer, it was inevitable that the majority of people he saw, he saw on some of the worst days of their lives.

This was a majority that did not--fortunately, he reminded himself, very fortunately--normally include his partner. Once rested after the grueling push of the Botrelle case, Ray had been back to his normal self, on as even a keel as ever he was, and as disinclined to cry as Lieutenant Welsh or Inspector Thatcher or Fraser himself. And still--when a man in interrogation suddenly broke down in tears, filling the small room with his sobs, Fraser had found himself remembering how it had felt to sit beside Ray in a similar state, had stolen a glance at Ray only to find him looking back, seeming to acknowledge the similarity of the situation.

Fraser had had to excuse himself, then, and spent a very trying ten minutes in the washroom getting himself under control.

Today, though--today had been the worst. They'd been pursuing a suspect, as they often did, and split up, as they often did. When Fraser had rounded the corner to make his approach, he'd found Ray at a momentary disadvantage, on the ground, having stumbled perhaps, his quarry seeming to loom over him--and Fraser had suddenly seen in his mind's eye what might happen next--Ray injured in a scuffle, perhaps bleeding, and afterward, the suspect secured in handcuffs, waiting with Ray for backup, Ray's eyes leaking pained tears that cut the sweat on his face...

Fraser had stumbled himself at the powerful erotic jolt the mental image gave him. The sound had drawn the man's attention away from Ray, and in that instant Ray had been on his feet, gun drawn, shouting out the arrest. In the interval spent waiting for backup to take the man down to the station, Ray had paced across the width of the alley, his stride bouncing with triumphant energy, and Fraser had leaned against the wall and watched him, trying to understand his own peculiar reactions. Trying to fathom why he couldn't have developed an insatiable desire to see his friend happy, as he was now.

He'd always known Ray was attractive; a man would have to be blind not to notice, and Fraser's visual acuity had always been excellent. He'd always felt a certain level of physical attraction toward Ray--but Ray wore his frenetic energy and wild moods like armor, so that Fraser's attraction to him had never pushed too close, never become more than an academic question. Until that night in the car. Until he'd wept.

And now, the long day done, the Consulate shut down and locked up for the night, safe in what privacy his office-cum-living-space afforded, Fraser had to acknowledge that this situation could not continue. His lapse today had done no harm, but it could as easily have gone the other way--could very easily go another way the next time, if he continued to allow himself to be so distracted by his body's unruly interests. He couldn't cut himself off from contact with Ray, but he had to do something. He couldn't remain in this state, a part of him wishing for Ray to be upset or, worse, injured. He couldn't trust himself like this. He would have to face his peculiar fascination with Ray's tears, get it out of his system and get on with his life.

Fraser undressed methodically, putting his clothes away neatly, setting his boots beside the desk, noting that they would need to be polished soon. He pulled on the long-johns he generally slept in, but didn't bother doing up the buttons, and retrieved a small, soft towel from the box where he stored such items. Then, as prepared as he knew how to be, Fraser laid down on the cot, stretched all over, and closed his eyes. He folded one arm behind his head, and rested the other on his belly, more or less neutral territory so far. His body was alive with anticipation, heart beating slightly fast. This wouldn't be at all difficult on the physical end, Lord knew. But this wasn't about the merely physical; he would have to think the thing through, find some sort of satisfaction, some closure, so that he could leave it behind.

He would have to imagine Ray--Ray coming to the consulate, perhaps, in the middle of the night, finding his way inside, all the way here, all the way to Fraser's office. Not tonight--not finding him like this--Fraser would be asleep until he heard the knock and then wake to Ray at his door. Ray would be upset, agitated; something terrible must have happened. Fraser started to concoct some explanation for that odd occurrence--some tragedy having befallen his parents, perhaps, or Stella, whom he still loved so well despite everything--but he shut off that line of speculation, and the wracking guilt that followed in its train. It was only a fantasy. It didn't matter why. It wouldn't hurt anyone. It only mattered that Ray appeared at his door in distress. Looking for him.

He could imagine it clearly--Ray had done just that, once, after all, woken him from a sound sleep in the middle of the night, and he had seen Ray in any number of degrees of upset and exhaustion. His penis twitched, blood rushing, and Fraser nodded to himself, running his fingers absently over the skin of his abdomen, and pushed on. He would bring Ray inside, sit him down--here, on the cot, the covers still disarranged, the mattress still warm where he'd been lying a moment before. Ray would sit, shoulders slumped, back bowed, and put his face in his hands. "Fraser--" he would say, his voice muffled and broken, and get no further, his breath catching on a sob. Fraser would kneel beside him--he drew up one knee now, his penis reacting predictably to the imagined sound of Ray's hitching breath--and put one hand on Ray's shoulder, feeling it shake under his grip.

"Shh," he would say, "It's all right," and Ray would only cry harder, racking painful sobs, making no effort to stop himself, no effort to hide his tears from Fraser. Fraser would--oh, yes--would lean his forehead against Ray's temple, so close he could smell Ray, smell the tears washing over his skin, feel every shudder that shook him. His hand would slide across Ray's back to rest on his opposite shoulder, and his other hand would cup Ray's knee, and he would murmur, "Shh, shh," but Ray would not stop, could not stop, fresh rushes of tears pouring down his face. So close, Fraser would feel the flushed heat of Ray's skin against his own mouth, and it would be beyond his power to resist turning his head, touching his tongue to Ray's cheekbone, licking at the flowing tears there. Ray's breath would stutter with shock, and Fraser would raise his hand from Ray's knee--he raised his hand now from his belly--and hold his face still, gently restraining, and lick again, tasting the bitter-salt of hot tears against his tongue, feeling the smoothness of Ray's cheek, the tension of the muscle beneath as Ray's face tensed with weeping.

He licked a stripe through the sweat on his own palm, not as strong a taste as tears, but good enough for now, and lowered his wet hand to his erection, skimming his palm lightly up the underside, sending a shudder through his body. He was tempted to take firm hold then, to finish it this way, with simple familiar touch--but that was not his purpose tonight. He kept his touch light, the barest tease, and returned to fantasy.

Ray's mouth would part with surprise, perhaps even wonder, and Fraser would shift to taste it, lips dry with his rough breathing, wetted at the corner with tears, Ray's breath even now coming in ragged sobs against Fraser's mouth. Fraser would push him down, gently, tenderly, to the cot, and Ray would resist a little, his body clinging for a moment to its protectively curled posture before letting go. On his back, Ray would look up at him, his sobs slowing, tears still running freely from his eyes, back across his temples to his hair, his ears. Fraser would lick at those freshly blazed trails, and feel the flutter of eyelashes against his jaw as Ray closed his eyes in surrender. So close to the pillow, he would smell the scent of Ray mingling with the scent of himself, tears and sweat and arousal over all.

He would lower one hand to the front of Ray's jeans, cupping the hardness there--he curled his hand around himself then, and could not stop a convulsive jerk of his hips up into that welcome friction--Ray's hips would jerk up against his hand, mutely asking for more. As Ray's harsh breathing in his ear slowly evolved from sobs into moans, Fraser would unzip Ray's pants, freeing Ray's erection. He stroked its sweat-damp length, relishing the hardness in his hand, the softness of Ray's cheek against his own, his hand moving quickly now, almost roughly. Ray said, "Fraser--" his voice differently broken this time, and the penis in his hand jumped and pulsed, and Fraser came.

He came back to himself after a floating dark moment, and reached down with his clean hand for the towel, wiping himself up and buttoning his long-johns. He folded the towel, mess to the middle, and stowed it beneath his cot, making a mental note to rise early and do his laundry before Inspector Thatcher arrived in the morning. Post-coital lassitude was already dragging him down into sleep, the aftershocks of arousal still warming him, and that was all for the best. When he woke in the morning, this would seem no more than a strange dream, and though images from it might recur at odd moments, it would have no more hold over him than that ratatouille-induced unpleasantness with the waltzing teapots.


Fraser had meant to warn Ray about warming his hands too fast, but he simply forgot.

They'd been unable to refresh Ray's supply of coffee at their last stop, and deprivation had made Ray fractious--he'd doubtless been suffering from rather fearsome headaches, which would only feed the inherent irritability of caffeine withdrawal. Fraser knew this intellectually, of course, but Ray's quick temper had combined with his inability to completely conceal from Ray the very real danger they'd been in at times over the last few days, and lead to some rather touchy moments. Fraser had had to repeatedly remind Ray that only one of the two of them was an expert in Arctic survival and, in case Ray had become addled in the last several hours, further reminded him that Ray was not that one. It had lead to a rather hostile atmosphere between them, in no way mitigated by the extra hours of mushing and short sleep as they'd pushed on to reach shelter.

So when Fraser had noticed that Ray had taken off his heavy outer mittens and was staking out the dogs with just an inadequate pair of gloves covering his hands, he'd bitten his tongue and said nothing. Ray was hardly risking frostbite or hypothermia, after all, as they'd reached the trapper's cabin where they would stay the night, and the temperature had risen to twenty below. It wouldn't be any problem at all, so long as Ray remembered--so long as Fraser reminded him--not to try to warm his hands too quickly once he got inside.

But once Fraser had lit the fire, he went back out to the sled to bring in the rest of their supplies and to check that Dief and the dogs were already digging in comfortably for the night. He'd passed Ray headed inside with his arms full of packs, and it had completely slipped his mind to say anything at all.

Now, coming back inside, he was greeted by Ray's pained yelp, and a very heartfelt mutter of "Shit, shit, shit," as Ray, kneeling before the fire with his hands out, fell back into a sitting position, his hands curled at his chest. Fraser, instantly filled with remorse, reminding himself sternly that he was the one who knew these things, that he was responsible for Ray on this adventure, dropped his load and hurried over to Ray, kneeling at his side and taking hold of his hands. "I'm sorry, Ray," he said quietly, chafing Ray's cold chapped hands between his own, "I should have warned you."

"Not your fault," Ray said, his head bowed, breath coming unevenly, his voice oddly strangled, "We have winter where I come from, too. I should've known better."

Fraser nodded, unseen, and went on rubbing Ray's hands, hoping he was not worsening Ray's pain as his own hands were too chilled and stiff to be quite gentle. Ray's breath remained uneven, but not remarkably so until Fraser felt something hot and wet strike his hand. An instant later another drop splashed down on Ray's hand, and Ray whispered, "Fuck," in a breathless broken voice, and his shoulders heaved, and his next inhalation was a sob.

Fraser froze, his hands still surrounding Ray's, but still now, and Ray bowed his head lower as tears continued to fall onto their hands. Fraser tried to breathe silently, through his mouth, tried not to feel all the memory and sensation of months ago rushing back, but it was useless. He was instantly, undeniably hard, his heart racing. He could only be glad that he still wore the heavy snow pants that would conceal his state from Ray.

Ray's reaction wasn't surprising, really--they'd both been under enormous stress, they were both exhausted, and now Ray was in sudden and shocking pain. Ray's shoulders shook, his exhalations sliding on long fricatives that might have been the beginning of his name but were almost certainly just repeated obscenities. Fraser shared the sentiment, mentally groping for something useful to say. You're overtired, while absolutely true and springing from something Ray himself had said once in similar circumstances, would too strongly recall their struggles for control over the adventure in the last few days.

"Ray," he said, helplessly, desperate to say something, to stop Ray's crying before it affected him further, "Ray--"

Ray raised his head, showing the unchecked tears spilling from his eyes, and all reason fled. Fraser raised his hands to Ray's face--the prickle of beard against his palms a last futile reminder that this was reality he was dealing with--and lowered his head to lick away the tears on Ray's cheek.

Ray went rigid under Fraser's hands, and he pulled back quickly to see a mixture of shock and confusion in Ray's eyes. "What the f--"

Fraser, doused with horror as effectively as a pail of water, didn't wait to hear the rest of Ray's words. He jumped to his feet and bolted, his fast-wilting erection causing him no difficulty at all. He'd nearly reached the door when Ray's voice cracked the silence in the tone of command he'd been practicing on the dogs. "Fraser--Fraser, come back here."

Fraser stopped--hesitated and was lost, because he could not possibly go running out into the snow half-undressed, parka unfastened, head and hands uncovered, and no more could he leave Ray stranded here simply to spare himself embarrassment. Ray said, in an only slightly moderated version of his first tone, "Fraser. Come on."

Still he hesitated, until he heard Ray take a step toward him, and then Fraser turned. Ray was standing near the fire, his red hands at his sides, his face still visibly dampened with tears, wet tracks in the scrubby growth of beard he'd accumulated in the last two weeks. He raised one hand and beckoned Fraser closer with stiff fingers, and Fraser walked over to him.

When he was close enough, Ray's hands came up and caught his face, holding Fraser still as Ray stared into his eyes. Fraser wanted to hide, but couldn't, held fast by his friend's gaze as much as his grip. Finally, Ray stepped in, as close to Fraser as they could be with their outdoor clothes still on, and kissed him.

It was a long kiss, wet and hot inside their mouths as their tongues met and slid against one another, rough where their perpetually chapped lips met. Ray's hands were cold on either side of his face, and Fraser kept his own hands at his sides, balled into slightly painful fists. Ray broke the kiss after a moment and leaned back, searching Fraser's face, his shoulders heaving with quick breaths. "That what you were going for?" Ray asked.

Fraser licked his lip, and, as he always tended to do at the worst possible moment, told the absolute truth. "Sort of."

Ray's eyes narrowed, and his hands dropped from Fraser's face. He raised one hand to his own mouth, curling it with obvious effort into a loose fist, and bit down on the knuckle of his index finger. Tears sprang up in his eyes, and Ray blinked rapidly, spreading them to his eyelashes, spurring them to fall to his cheeks, and Fraser shuddered with want and bit his own lip. He could feel himself hardening again, his pulse tripping faster. He had never imagined that Ray might somehow understand--and indulge--him in this. When Ray lowered his hand from his mouth and said, "Or was it something more like that?" Fraser could barely summon enough wit to nod.

Ray nodded once, decisively, and then his hands were against Fraser's chest, pushing him backwards, off-balance for three strides until the backs of his thighs hit the heavy rough-built table that was one of the few pieces of furniture in the cabin. Ray kept pushing, shoving Fraser down onto his back, and kept moving forward until he was standing between Fraser's parted thighs, their hips pressed together at the edge of the table.

Ray leaned over him, his breath coming quick, and every time he blinked, he dropped a tear onto Fraser's face, into his open mouth. Fraser's hips bucked at the first drop of salt water that hit his tongue, and Ray thrust right back so that Fraser could feel, even through two layers of heavy snow pants, that Ray was as hard as he was. "You like that, Fraser?" Ray gasped. "You like it when I totally--lose--control?"

Caught between the relentless motion of Ray's hips and the unbearably arousing experience of Ray's tears falling upon him, Fraser arched his back, fighting to get closer, his hands scrabbling for purchase on Ray's parka. He jerked his head in something he hoped would be intelligible as a nod, and Ray leaned close enough for Fraser to touch his mouth to Ray's face, blindly kissing anything he could reach--the scratch of beard, faintly damp and salty with tears and sweat, and then Ray's mouth, Ray's tongue thrusting roughly into his mouth, moving rhythmically in obvious suggestion.

Ray raised his head and went still, pushing Fraser back down to the table, and whispered, "What do you want from me, Fraser, huh? Tell me what you want, and I mean say it. Short words."

Fraser shut his eyes, gasping for breath, and tried to think over the rushing of his blood, the insistent throbbing of his erection. "Fuck me," he gasped, and then opened his eyes, a little surprised at how much easier that was to say than he could ever have imagined the rest of it being.

Ray's eyebrows lifted, but then his hips snapped roughly against Fraser's, and Fraser knew that he wasn't the only one who'd been wishing for this, and Ray nodded quickly, his furious passion visibly giving way to eagerness. "Okay, we can, um--slick--"

"Vaseline," Fraser suggested, "but I'm afraid we haven't--"

"Don't care if you don't," Ray assured him, "but I don't think I can--" He raised his the fingers of his right hand and wiggled them stiffly, and Fraser winced at the thought.

"It shouldn't be necessary," he said, "as long as you go slowly."

Ray nodded. "You've done this before?"

"Not for a long time, but yes. Have you?" Ray met his eyes and then nodded, just once, sharply, and turned away. Fraser stayed still a moment, catching his breath, trying to process the fact that this was actually happening, and then he rolled to his feet and went to his pack, quickly locating the Vaseline in its designated pocket. Ray was unwrapping their sleeping bags, unzipping them and tossing them down to create a pallet before the fire.

Fraser set the Vaseline down on the hearth to warm a bit, and then sat down on the floor to take his boots off, thanking heaven and Sgt. Frobisher once again for the fur-lined boots that went on without laces and pulled off easily, even with shaking hands.

Ray dropped to the floor on the opposite side of the blankets and did the same. They shucked out of their outdoor clothes quickly, and then Fraser looked across at Ray and their eyes met. Ray smiled tentatively at him, and crawled across the bedroll. Fraser met him halfway, and they knelt there, kissing, until their hands of their own volition began to unfasten buttons and zippers. Within a few minutes of mutual help and hindrance, they were naked, shivering, from the chilly air or lust or both.

Fraser paused, taking in the sight of Ray's naked body, his evident arousal . He'd lost weight since they started, his body harder now, muscle molded to bone. Ray was watching him right back, as open and breathtakinglyavailable to Fraser as he'd ever been, though his eyes were dry. Fraser couldn't resist another second, then, and reached for him, and Ray's hands--finally starting to warm--landed on his own skin at the same time, pulling him close. Ray kissed him fiercely, driving their bodies together, their erections thrusting side-by-side against their bellies. Fraser tasted a hint of blood on Ray's rough lips and moaned, thrusting harder, shaking with the force of his desire, and then Ray pulled away, pushing Fraser gently down to the floor.

Fraser rolled over onto his stomach and felt Ray shift to kneel astraddle his hips. He picked up the Vaseline and passed it back to Ray, their fingers making brief contact, and then he heard the pop of the lid and the slick sounds of Ray readying himself, and buried his face in one arm, thrusting slowly and shallowly against the soft lining of Ray's sleeping bag. The sleep-scent of Ray surrounded him, and then he felt the heat of Ray's body moving over him, Ray's mouth soft and wet against the back of his neck as Ray's hard hand slid down the valley of his spine and then lower, Ray's hand parting his buttocks, his thumb pressing lightly over his opening. Fraser muffled a keening sound against the softness of the sleeping bag, and Ray's mouth shifted against his skin into a smile. "Shh," Ray whispered, "Easy there, just let me. Shh."

Ray's hand shifted, palming his buttock, holding him open, and then the blunt slick heat of Ray's erection was pressing against him. Fraser remembered to breathe, breathe, holding to his own steady rhythm rather than succumbing to the quick rush of Ray's gasps against his ear. He could feel the moment when muscle-memory took over, opening him to the long steady slide of Ray entering him, filling him. For a moment it shook him, the invasion of his body hitting him in the gut with a feeling like falling, but Ray was licking at his ear, murmuring unintelligible words of reassurance as he pushed deeper, and the feeling passed quickly into pleasure, a sense of fullness, and more, of connection. He could feel Ray moving minutely inside him, letting him adjust. He imagined he could even detect the throb of Ray's pulse.

Ray's palm stroked slowly up Fraser's back, and then his fingertips slid down the groove of Fraser's spine, and stopped just there, in the middle of his back. "Y'know," Ray whispered in his ear, "One thing I learned from boxing--from being rubbed down after--is everybody's got a spot on their body where they put everything that hurts. Some guys it's their chest, right under their breastbone. Some guys it's their shoulders. I knew a guy once who kept it all in his left calf. And if you find that spot, and you push it," Ray's touch slid slowly, inexorably sideways, just to the edge of the ordinary skin, just to the border of the scar. "Anybody will cry. Can't help it." Fraser gasped as Ray trailed a fingernail lightly down the very edge of the bullet scar, his eyes prickling. "I figure yours is right about here," he whispered.

Fraser couldn't hold back a small sound, arching up into Ray's shivery touch even as he pressed his face hard against the sleeping bag. He couldn't bear it, wasn't strong the way Ray was...

Ray stroked his fingertips over the spot, lightly, forcing nothing, and said, "Yeah, that's what I thought." Then his hand slid down again, settling on Fraser's hip, and he began to move. Fraser had to turn his head to breathe, gasping as Ray withdrew and thrust with exquisite slowness, rocking his hips to shift the angle. Again, and again, and Fraser was moving his own hips, pushing up against Ray's weight to meet him. Ray's breath was ragged, broken, and Ray's face pressed against his shoulder. Fraser could feel the wet flutter of Ray's eyelashes against his skin, caught his breath and came hard, thrusting roughly back at Ray. Ray's hand on his hip held him through it, Ray's thumb stroking like a metronome across his skin, and when Fraser had gone still, Ray kept moving inside him, sending aftershock jolts of pleasure through him with every motion until Ray thrust into him one last time and came, pressing awkward open-mouthed kisses across the nape of Fraser's neck, his hands squeezing too hard on Fraser's skin.

They both lay still for a long breathless moment, and then Ray muttered, "Breathe," and Fraser nodded, exhaling steadily as Ray pulled free of his body.

He said "Ray--" but it was too late; Ray had already grabbed his long underwear and was using it to clean them both. Fraser resigned himself, without particular bitterness, to digging through the chaos of Ray's pack for the clean pair, later, while Ray waited naked in the warm refuge of their sleeping bags. In the meantime, he merely shifted until he could free a layer to pull over them, and Ray pressed himself close, his hand running up and down Fraser's side until Fraser caught and stilled it with his own. Fraser blinked at the fire and smiled, drifting into sleep as Ray murmured in his ear, "Fraser?"

He managed to make an encouraging noise back, and Ray said, sounding half-asleep already, "Remind me later that I like chopping onions."