Ray Vecchio tried to concentrate. He had a lot of work to get through before he could meet Fraser, but no matter how hard he tried he just couldn't find the bottom of his in-tray. Despite the distractions of the squad room, Ray couldn't help remembering that his house was currently empty, his family were all away visiting relatives, and his excuse of staying behind in Chicago to work had been utterly believed! He and Benton Fraser would have the whole house to themselves until the hoard returned. And Ray was certainly looking forward to it!

They walked together down a city street, the well-dressed man and the good-looking fellow in uniform. They walked together talking softly. The one wearing the uniform was carrying a vacuum cleaner, and yet somehow it didn't look out of place.

"Fraser? What's going on?"

"Ah...nothing, Ray, I thought...I thought I saw a woman I used to know."

Looking across at the man beside him, Ray heard the emotion in Fraser's voice. Ray's own voice was slightly sarcastic when he suggested, "Thought she needed a vacuum?"

The Mountie shook his head, then started walk again. "No," he said with a sad smile. "No, I was mistaken...."

As the two men walked further along the sidewalk, still talking, the sound of brakes squealing, a loud bang and then screaming came from down the street they'd just crossed. Fraser stopped again, but Ray pulled him forward.

"Come on, Fraser. Look, there's a cop there already, we have to get to the station."

The two men walked on, even though the one in uniform kept looking around behind him. The sound of an ambulance siren came towards them and in moments it passed them, heading back the way they'd come.

"See, everything is under control. Now, come on..."

Fraser dished up dinner in his small kitchen, and as he stood there he became distracted by the face he thought he'd seen. "No, it wasn't her," he muttered to himself. "...It wasn't her," he added as memories floated through his mind.

*Listen as the wind blows
from across the great divide
voices trapped in yearning
memories trapped in time
the night is my companion
and solitude my guide
would I spend forever here
and not be satisfied?*

In the building across from Fraser's apartment, a pale face stared through a grimy window.

Walking into the squad room, Fraser nodded hello at the people he passed until he came to Ray's desk. Hanging up his hat and coat, Fraser took his normal seat and waited for Ray to appear from wherever he had gone to. Fraser found his eye roving across Ray's desk, easily reading the upside-down paperwork. A corner of something caught his eye, and with a slight frown Fraser reached out and picked it up. A familiar face in the classic line-up pose made him catch his breath, then he read on...

"Dead," he whispered to himself. "She's dead? Positive ID on a hit-and-run accident," he read softly. Then when he saw the time and the location, he remembered the previous day and how he thought he'd seen her. "Ah, Victoria...it was you."

Ray found Fraser still sitting there when he came back a little while later, and Ray was struck by the way Fraser was staring at the paper in his hand. "Fraser? Benny, you OK?," Ray reached out and let his hand touch Fraser's hunched shoulder. "Benny?"

Fraser lifted his eyes from the paper in his hand and Ray could see the pain in those blue eyes. "Fraser, for God's sake, talk to me..."

"Do you..." Fraser cleared his throat as he heard the roughness of his own voice. "Do you have anything more on this?"

Ray took the paper from Fraser and looked down at it. "Yeah, it only got up this far because according to her jacket she was killed a couple of weeks ago in a car accident up in Alaska. It's Huey and Louie's case, they're out checking a couple of things."

"Alaska..." the Canadian muttered.

Sitting down in his seat, Ray stared hard at his partner. "Talk to me, Benny. What the hell's going on?"

"I knew her, Ray. I knew that woman a long time ago," Fraser, still staring at the grainy photo of Victoria Metcalfe, told Ray the story he'd related when they'd been sharing a stake-out. The first time, Ray had slept through it.

"So you arrested her ten years ago? Was that why you were so surprised when you saw her yesterday?"

"Well, we don't know it was her, Ray..."

"I'd say by what we heard, and the time on that report, it's a good bet it as this Metcalfe person that you saw,"

"Yes," muttered Fraser, "a good bet. But it was ten years ago, Ray... and that's a long time."

"What I'd like to know is why she was thought dead in the first place. I mean, when you saw her she was very much alive, right?" Ray saw Fraser wince, and wished he could take back the words. Reaching across the desk, after throwing a quick glance around the squad room, Ray touched the back of Fraser's hand. "Her -- She's down at the medical examiner's, if you want to..."

Fraser jerked back as if Ray had hit him. "God, no, Ray. I couldn't do that!"

Ray held up a calming hand. "I thought you might want to be certain that it is this Metcalfe person." As Ray watched the emotions flash across his lover's face, he felt jealousy swell in his chest. Damn, Benny must have loved her a lot.

"You're right, Ray," muttered the Mountie, almost too low for the detective to hear. "If I don't go and see her, a part of me will always wonder if she's really dead." Taking a deep breath, Fraser pulled himself out of his chair. His smile was strained as he looked at his partner. "You said Detectives Gardino and Huey are on the case?"

"Yeah," said Ray with a nod as he followed Fraser to the door. "They found a couple of things in her belongings that looked interesting, so they've gone to check them out."

While Fraser and Ray headed down the street to the medical examiner's, Huey and Louie parked their car outside the police station. Then, as Fraser hovered uncertainly outside the white-painted door, the two detectives lugged a couple of heavy suitcases up the stairs and into Welsh's office. And, as a white sheet was being pulled down to uncover a beautiful face, Welsh found himself staring at a fortune in two battered cases. "Two lockers?"

"Yes, sir," Gardino nodded. "The cases were in two different lockers, right beside each other,"

"That's the strange thing, sir," added Huey as he lifted a bundle and checked out the notes. "There was more than enough room in one of those lockers for both cases.... more than enough."

Welsh leaned forward in his chair to pick up a bundle as well, and examined the money. "I want a background check on this woman. I want to know everything, and I mean everything, about her life."

"Excuse us, sir, maybe we can help a little there," came a voice from the doorway.

Lifting his head, Welsh saw Vecchio and the Mountie waiting there. Before Gardino could open his mouth, Welsh nodded and waved the two men in. "You know something about all this?"

"No, sir, not me, but Fraser does. Go ahead, Benny..."

Welsh turned to Fraser, and blinked when he saw the expression on the Canadian's face as he stared at the money in the suitcases. "Ah, Constable?"

Fraser shook himself and answered, "Sorry, sir." After a moment the Mountie seemed to get a grip on himself, pulling his eyes away from the opened suitcases. "I arrested Victoria Metcalfe ten years ago, sir. She and her partners robbed the bank where that money came from. When I found her, she was alone and lost in the Yukon..." Fraser went on, giving away only what the listening cops needed to know.

Ray stood back and watched Fraser as he talked. In his mind's eye Ray could still see the shock on his lover's face a Fraser looked down at those pale beautiful features from his past. Clenching his teeth, Ray moved up beside the Mountie as Fraser finished talking. How can I be jealous of someone who's dead?

Welsh stood, looking down at the suitcases. "Huey, Louie, find out if this is the cache from that robbery. Vecchio, I want you to find out who the person actually was who died in the car crash in Alaska."

Huey and Gardino picked up the suitcases and left the office. Ray was also about to leave when he noticed Fraser was still standing in front of the lieutenant's desk.

"I'll be out in a minute, Ray."

Ray left the office, closing the door behind him. Moving over to his desk, the detective kept throwing looks over to the shuttered windows of Welsh's office.

"Yes, Constable? Can I help you with something?," Welsh watched as the Mountie stood in front of him, still staring at the spot where the suitcases had lain.

"Sir, I was wondering if I might ask a favor."

Welsh sat back in his seat in surprise. "A favor, Constable?"

"Yes, sir, I was wondering if I might make the arrangements for...for the funeral."

Welsh stared hard at the Mountie, looking into those sad blue eyes. "You arrested this Metcalfe woman ten years ago for a robbery, and now you want to handle her funeral?"

"I...Yes, sir. I would."

Ray watched as the two men talked, his hand automatically picking up the phone and punching out numbers -- and he found himself listening to the weather report. Shaking his head, Ray hung up and started again. She's dead! Victoria Metcalfe was dead, and Fraser was his. Ray had nothing to worry about. The door to the office opened and Ray looked up as Fraser walked over to his desk. Fraser lifted his hat and coat from the coat rack. Raising an eyebrow Ray asked, "Where are you going?"

"I have a couple of things to do, Ray. I'll see you tonight."

With that, Ray watched as the love of his life walked out of the squad room. Welsh's voice bellowed for him and, frowning, Ray walked over to the office and knocked. The lieutenant's muffled voice called him to come in. "Ah, yes, sir?"

"How well did the constable know that Metcalfe woman?"

Ray stood there staring at his lieutenant, and wondered what to tell him.

Welsh sat forward, his arms resting on the desk in front of him. "The Mountie has gone down to the morgue to arrange the burial of a woman he arrested ten years ago for robbery. I want to know the truth, detective."

Ray felt his heart clench in his chest as the lieutenant's words sank in. "Arrangements..."


Looking at his lieutenant, Ray lied for all he was worth. "I only knew what he told you, sir. Fraser tracked her, found her, and turned her in as soon as they reached civilization. But you know Fraser, sir -- it seems she has no one here, and he might just feel sorry for her."

Welsh stared up at the detective, his eyes searching for anything that would tell him Vecchio was lying to him -- but he found nothing. "Get out, and get me that information I want."

Ray nodded and escaped the office. Reaching his desk, Ray looked through the file they had on Victoria Metcalfe, searching for the name of the town where she was supposed to have died. As he was doing this, Ray's mind went over and over what Welsh had told him…Arrangements.... Damn that Canadian. Why the hell did he have to make funeral arrangements for her?

Once Ray was finally able to put a report on Welsh's desk, he escaped from the station house and headed for Fraser's apartment. The bitch had identified her own dead sister as herself. But why come here? Victoria was free of where she had half a million in cash hidden away.. Why come to Chicago?

Slamming the Riviera's door closed, Ray strode into the run-down building, taking the stairs two at a time. He didn't even bother to knock, he just pushed the door opened and stamped into Fraser's bare apartment.

Fraser, sitting on his neatly made bed, heard the door slam and looked up from the photo he held.

"Is that a picture of her?" growled Ray, hearing the jealousy in his voice but unable to hide it. Striding across the room, Ray pulled the photo from Fraser's grip and looked down at the fuzzy picture. "Where did you get it? Did you have a camera in your pack up in the Yukon? Did you snap a couple of shots between snowstorms?"

"Ray?" Fraser blinked up at the infuriated man.

The cop heard the bewilderment in Fraser's voice, but it ignored it as he waved the picture in the Canadian's face. "She's dead," Ray said brutally. "Dead and gone!" With that, Ray gripped the picture in both hands and ripped it in half, then in half again, and tossed it on the floor. "She's dead and I'll be damned if I'm gong to share you with a corpse!"

With a shove, Ray had Fraser right where he wanted him -- underneath him.

With elbows resting on the pillow, Ray gripped Fraser's head in both hands and kissed him hard, kissed him in ways that would show the mourning Canadian just who belonged to whom. As he pulled him mouth away from Benny's bruised lips, Ray heard his lover mutter his name. "Shut up, Benny," growled Ray as he fought the anger that the jealousy had released.

"Ray, stop, please...Wait a minute..."

"Why? So you can tell me how much you loved her? Tell me that you're never going to forget her? Tell me goodbye?" With those words spoken, Ray gathered up the man he loved beyond reason, and ravished his lips. Using everything he'd ever learnt from the months they'd been together, Ray coerced the man beneath him into excitement. Made love to Fraser's body in such a way that the Mountie's mind was lost in delirium.

and I would be the one to hold you down
kiss you so hard
I'll take your breath away
and after I'd wipe away the tears
just close your eyes, dear...

"Why, Ray?," asked Fraser much later. The two men lay beside, but not with, each other on the narrow bed.

Lying there facing the window, Ray sighed. And then at last he turned over to face Fraser instead. "Possessiveness, insecurity, neurosis, delusion, take your pick." Ray looked into Benny's confused blue eyes and winced. "God, I'm sorry, Benny," he mumbled, lifting a finger to caress the Canadian's bruised lips. Ray was ashamed to see that Benny didn't try to pull away, that the man actually closed his eyes and enjoyed the touch. "I hurt you because of what you once shared with someone in your past."

Fraser opened his eyes and looked at his lover's clouded expression, and asked again, "Why, Ray?"

Ray took a deep breath. He owed Benny the truth -- after what just happened he owed his lover that and more. "I saw how much you loved her. Your face said everything when you saw her in the morgue, Then, when I found out from Welsh that you were making arrangements for her funeral...God, Benny..." Ray reached out and gathered Benny into his arms, his hold just as hard as it had been only a short time ago, except that the hardness now came from grief rather than anger. "I saw myself losing you to someone I couldn't fight. A memory that was sweet and loving and perfect...Ah, hell, Benny, I just saw myself failing all over again."

through this world I've stumbled
so many times betrayed
trying to find an honest word
to find the truth enslaved
oh you speak to me in riddles
and you speak to me in rhymes
my body aches to breathe your breath
your words keep me alive

Fraser lay stiff and straight in Ray's arms as the man tried to explain why he'd...done what he did. And the Mountie listened with every sense he had to those words. But it wasn't so much what his lover said that finally let Fraser move his arms up around Ray's unyielding form. Fraser could feel the bunched muscles under Ray's smooth skin. Could feel the tension, the stress of his body as the man poured out his insecurities.

Running his hands over Ray's shaking back, Fraser murmured into his ear. "Ray...Ray, you are such an idiot. Victoria was someone from another life...She was a dream that I remembered when I was lonely...She was part of something I haven't been for a long while now." Ray's hold got tighter as Fraser rested his chin on his lover's shoulder and softly blew into his ear. "It was the shock of seeing her after so long, Ray. The shock of seeing someone who once was alive as Victoria, now dead. That's all, I swear."

"And you didn't love her?" Ray's voice was muffled against Ray's pale chest.

"Once, a long time ago, in that other life. I might have...But now I don't have enough room for another love in my life, do I?" Fraser pushed Ray away from him, lifting his lover's bristly chin, stared firmly into hazel eyes. "Well, do I?"

"No," muttered Ray. "You don't!"

Fraser smiled his old smile, and Ray felt his heart lurch in his chest. "I haven't destroyed that love, have I?"

Hearing the fear in Ray's voice, Fraser gathered the man close, kissing his forehead, his cheeks, then kissing lips that were as bruised as his own. "If I told you all that you mean to me, you'd be blushing for a week," whispered Fraser.

"Tell me," begged Ray just as softly.

And Fraser did.

and I would be the one to hold you down
kiss you so hard
I'll take your breath away
and after I'd wipe away the tears
just close your eyes, dear..
into this night I wander
it's morning that I dread
another day of knowing
of the path I fear to tread
oh into the sea of waking dreams
I follow without pride
'cause nothing stands between us here
and I won't be denied

"Everything about this Victoria Metcalfe case is weird," grumbled Welsh as he paced across his office. Huey, Gardino, Ray and Fraser stood and watched. "First the suitcases of money in two different lockers, then that call about the money found in your father's cabin after the fire, Constable."

"I'm sorry, sir. I honestly have no idea how it got there. I haven't been back to the cabin since the incident with Gerard."

"The money was definitely from the same bank job?" asked Ray.

Welsh nodded as he moved to sit down behind his desk. "The only idea I've come up with so far is that she planned to make trouble for the constable because he turned her in." Welsh looked up at the Mountie. "Does that sound feasible?"

The only reply Welsh got from the Canadian was a look of bewilderment.

"Well..." Huey rubbed his chin, looking across at his partner. "Detective Gardino and I discovered that Metcalfe's other partner was released not long ago. And this is the kicker, sir -- his description matches that of the hit-and-run driver who killed her."

"So, sir," put in Gardino, "we think that she might have run with the money, with this guy close behind. Maybe she hid some money at Fraser's place to frame him, or maybe she hid it there so that if this Jolly guy did get the cash down here, she'd still have some stashed away."

"Weird..." muttered Welsh. "Find this guy, I want him, And see if you can find out where Metcalfe's been staying since she hit town."

As they left Welsh's office, Ray mumbled to his partner, "How the hell can anyone think that you would take money from that woman?"

Fraser looked across at his friend and smiled. "You thought something along the same lines last night, Ray, and you know me better than anyone alive."

"That was stupidity, Benny. I know that now. And, anyway, thinking that you would take a bribe and what I thought are two completely different things."

Fraser just raised an eyebrow and sat down in his seat.

The hunt for Victoria Metcalfe's partner was a time-consuming job until that evening, when Ray and Fraser walked into Fraser's apartment and found the place ransacked. The lab guys found a partial print that told them Jolly had been exploring.

"This guy knows about the connection between you and Metcalfe," observed Welsh as he looked at Fraser's wrecked apartment. "Anything missing?"

Fraser grimaced. "Yes, sir. My service revolver and six bullets. I kept them locked in my father's trunk, but he must have taken them."

"He's after you, Constable, and it might be best to find him before he gets you," Welsh looked around the apartment again, then turned to Ray. "Keep an eye on the constable. And come to the station early tomorrow, we need to figure out a scam to catch this guy before he uses that gun."

Ray nodded and watched as his superior officer walked out of the apartment. "Jeez, Benny," he grumbled, as the last of the lab guys packed up to leave. "I can't believe you had enough stuff in this place to make such a mess."

Fraser shrugged, tossed a few things in his knapsack, called Dief, and then followed Ray out the door. The trip to Ray's home was made in silence, but as Ray unlocked the front door, he muttered to Fraser, "I'm glad Ma and Frannie are still out of town."

"So am I, Ray."

Without thinking about it, Ray took Fraser upstairs and into his room. Fraser's words pulled him up short, though.

"Do you think this is a good idea, Ray -- sharing your room?"

Ray bit his lip, and then nodded. "You're right. Put your stuff in the spare room, muss up the bed, then you can spend the night in here with me."

Fraser silently agreed and followed Ray into the room across the hall.

Pulling the knapsack out of Fraser's hands, Ray tossed it onto the bed and gathered the man into his arms for a long kiss. "I'm going to make sure the place is locked up. Why don't you have a shower, then come down and I'll get dinner ready."

As Fraser sorted through his gear, Dief followed Ray downstairs.

It was the wolf who discovered that the back door had been left slightly open. Ray's hand was holding his gun before he even realized it, and he was heading upstairs just as he heard the sound of a gunshot. Fear filling his heart, Ray bounded up the stairs and down the passage to the bathroom. There he saw a towel wrapped Fraser holding his own gun on a pale-faced man who was huddled in the shower cubicle.

"I think you should dial 911, Ray."

"You do it," ordered Ray, as he kept his gun on the cowering man. "And get dressed. I'll keep an eye on our guest here."

"Well, at least Welsh is happy," grumbled Ray as he stared at the hole in the wall of his bathroom. "But what the hell am I going to tell Ma...?"

Fraser stood in the passage and watched as the uniformed cops took Victoria's partner away. "Tell her the truth...Tell her that a bar of soap saved my life."

Ray threw a laughing look across at his lover. "I can't believe it, the guy slipped on a bar of soap."

"Believe it," said Fraser as they headed downstairs.

Fraser's gun was bagged, as was the slug from the bathroom wall. Welsh stood in the middle of the Vecchio living room, smiling to himself. "Detective, I still want you and the constable at the station early tomorrow. I want a full statement and a report on my desk first thing."

"Yes, sir," echoed the two men.

Nodding, Welsh left the house, and Ray locked the front door behind the man.

"Thank God that's over," muttered Ray, heading for the kitchen. "Now, how about that dinner I promised you?"

"Ray..?" murmured Fraser, as he trailed along behind his partner.

"Hmmm, yes, Benny?" Ray opened the fridge and started to pull things out.

"How long did you say your mother and sister were going to be away for?"

"Couple of days..." started Ray as he turned and met Fraser's glance. "Couple of..."

Fraser was standing at the doorway. The kitchen light abruptly went off. There was enough light from the street and from upstairs for Ray to see Fraser move toward him.

and I would be the one to hold you down
kiss you so hard
I'll take your breath away
and after I'd wipe away the tears
just close your eyes, dear

Dinner became a very early breakfast, but neither of the men cared. All that bothered Ray was the chill he thought he'd caught from lying on the cold tiles in the kitchen..

I'll hold you down* kiss you so hard
I'll take your breath away
and after I'd wipe away the tears
just close your eyes....