What Dreams May Come...

a Round Robyn from RideForever by Manna LaDroit, SandyR, Vicki, Birgitt, Courser, and Ro

(NC -- 17 -Slash)


Part I: Manna LaDroit


"It's just a birthday present, Ray. I'm sure whatever you get will be fine."

"You don't know Maria and Tony when it comes to presents, Fraser. One chokable button and suddenly I'm watching the "Lynch Bad Uncles" episode of *Jerry Springer. *"

Benton Fraser, RCMP, looked up from the display of Beanie Babies with a look of mild concern. The light from the window flashed in his blue eyes. "Surely not, Ray. A present given with affection and concern will doubtlessly serve only as a reminder of the affection you have for your nephew."

"More like a reminder that I didn't read the warning label, Benny, but thanks for the thought."

Ray looked down at the models of vintage cars in his hands. He couldn't help thinking that the Buick Riviera was the best, even though it was the 1975 model. However, he knew that model would be met with open suspicion, if not hostility. Tony Jr. liked that show with the talking car, though, which was supposed to be a special prototype, but looked a lot like a Trans Am.

"Do you think Antonio would like it if I gave him some magic crystals, Ray?"

The detective turned to see the pack of crystals in Benny's hand, packaged along with a tiny deep sea diver.

"They're crystals, Benny. They grow inside a jar of water. Not a high-action item there."

Fraser frowned slightly, his lips puckering slightly. "They're a visually exciting demonstration of chemical reactions. They reward patience and care."

"You read that off the pack?"

"No, I read about them as a child."

Ray looked at his friend a long moment. Guileless eyes watched patiently back. "You asked for these for your birthday and got a book, right?"

Benny's head ducked down slightly.

"Aw, Benny," Ray grumbled, grabbing the pack out of Fraser's hand and replacing it with one of crystals and a tiny scuba diver being eaten by an octopus. "He'll love it."

Fraser smiled up to his eyes. "Thank you, Ray."

Ray "harrumphed" slightly and took the Trans Am model to the cashier.

It was a beautiful spring day, the type that usually got ruined by an icy Chicago wind right off the lake. But today the flags flying along the buildings barely swirled. Ray swung the arm not holding his bags and enjoyed the feeling of fine silk along his skin.

"So the party starts at five. You want me to pick you up?"

"Actually, Ray, I will be on assignment tomorrow with a delegation from the Alberta Environmental Arts and Crafts Society. My working expenses will cover taxi fare."

"Okay, but get there by five-thirty or you'll miss the cake."

"Understood, Ray."

They got into the Riv while Diefenbaker settled on the backseat. It was a short enough trip to Fraser's apartment that Ray's driving only gave rise to one comment about turn signals.

The green car pulled up in front of the run-down complex and slipped into a smooth idle.

"I will see you tomorrow night, then, Ray."

"Sure thing, Fraser."

The Mountie led the wolf inside, and Ray pulled out into traffic, rushing the lights a bit to make sure he got home a good hour before supper.

The car model went up to his room in the plain brown bag he had put on the back seat that morning. With his bedroom door closed, he got out wrapping paper, confetti, and little candies and went about the business of turning the toy into a proper-looking gift. After that, he locked the gift in a drawer and went downstairs to help Tony move the TV for the party tomorrow, fished an earring out of the shower drain for Frannie, and then carried Antonio around on his back while his mother hid the bag with decorations and made a few calls to Antonio's friends' mothers.

Dinner was a little noisier than usual, but everyone stopped short of actual violence. He watched the end of the game with Tony and waited for the kids to get to bed, then helped Ma clean up a bit so the house "would be fit for the guests."

After a kiss on his mother's cheek and a warning to Frannie that if she touched his shaving stuff again he would kill her, Ray went upstairs for a shower, then slipped into the top half of his pajamas and got into bed. The pajama pants he draped over the foot of the bed. He'd need them later.

He turned off the lamp at his bedside and allowed his eyes to enjoy the dark while his ears soaked in the blissful quiet. For a while, he listened to himself breathe.

Now it was time to close his eyes. He made the small movement last, pressing down a little, getting his eyes shut up nice and tight. He didn't want to open them for a while.

*Breathe. Relax. Don't spoil it. Don't rush. *

There. He had it: Benny standing in the toy shop with the light from the window flashing in his blue eyes.

He separated out the foreground from the toy shop and allowed the image of Benny to remain, to linger...and then finally to transform. He didn't need Benny right now.

He needed Evil Benny.

Ray smiled to himself. Yes, Evil Benny, who looked just like the regular Benny, but agreed to do things that the real Benny would never, ever do.

Evil Benny, for example, never wore the uniform unless parts of it were unbuttoned, and if he wore casual clothes they were tight and downright undone. Ray had once tried putting Evil Benny in black leather pants, but the best he'd managed was dark jeans. The leather jacket, however, was a natch.

Today Evil Benny was in a red T-shirt and jeans and looked absolutely wonderful. His hair was just slightly mussed, just the way Fraser would never allow. His lips were curled in a little smile similar to the one Fraser wore, but full of all those meanings unknown to his wholesome partner. His innocent, wholesome, good partner who would be so disgusted if he had any idea the *disgusting* thoughts his supposed best friend --

Ray forced himself away from the guilt trip. Time enough for that after he'd soiled the washcloth in his hand. Time enough for that during yet another trip to church and yet another decision that very soon now he was going to have to go to confession. Father Behan might --

*Enough!* he told himself firmly, running a hand over his chest to distract himself. He tried to imagine it was Evil Benny's hand on his skin, but he'd never managed to get that far before, and tonight wasn't going to be any different.

But Evil Benny stood there in the light, his eyes flashing and looking so good Ray felt himself get hard before his hand even made it to target zero.

He forced himself to relax again, calling on the comfort of routine. Evil Benny's lips pouted. Evil Benny's chest stretched tight under that T-shirt. Evil Benny just stood there and accepted it while Ray stroked his cock and looked.

Then Evil Benny stepped up to him, all fluid grace and poise and warmth and not his goody-goody partner at all, but someone who would touch him and kiss him and press up against him and maybe one day even reach inside his pants and --

"Mmmmm," Ray hummed, feeling himself getting closer even though by now he was sure God and a few angels were watching and getting ready to throw up. He needed this so much, so *damn* much, that surely God and the angels and even his dead father if he was watching would just have to understand. Beautiful blue eyes, perfect lips and that *fantastic* ass just didn't cover it.

Oh God! He'd thought about Benny's ass! And it was fantastic, too. He thought of touching it, of caressing it with his hands through that warm, thick denim, of cupping the curves in his palms and just staying like that forever.

He clamped his jaw shut and breathed hard through his nose. Evil Benny was getting ready now, he could tell, moving a little closer. He could feel sweet breath on his face, and now pink lips were opening, coming closer still, and closer, and then pressing on his lips, as though it could happen, as though what he wanted was okay, because this was Evil Benny, who wanted sex with his best friend and would probably never help an old lady across the street unless she had hired him for a gigolo or something.

"Ray..." Evil Benny whispered, low and desperate.

Ray came into the cloth, shuddering with unexpected force. He'd never gotten his fantasy to talk before. The entire day's stress seem to pour out of him all at once.

He managed to fold the cloth over and set it on his nightstand. He'd wash it out in the morning's shower.

Quickly, he slid down further into the sheets, hoping, like he always hoped, that this time he'd just slip into sleep, and maybe dream of Evil Benny a little more.

As usual, however, the stress came back like the tide and he was soon unable to think of anything but the real Benny. What would his friend say, what would he *think* if he had even the slightest clue what Ray allowed himself to dream about? How fast would Benny run? Or even worse, how polite would he be?

Ray turned over and forced his eyes to stay shut. He knew Benny had no idea, and if it cost him absolutely everything he had, Benny would never, ever, *ever* find out.

He really ought to go to confession.


Part II by SandyR


"Nonsense, Diefenbaker. You are in no danger of death from starvation."

Fraser opened the door to his apartment and ushered the wolf in first. Dief made straight for the kitchen and his food dish. Finding it empty, he announced his displeasure with a series of wolfy grumbles. Unmoved by the display, Fraser took a few moments to set down the bag he was carrying and hang up his jacket before following the wolf into the kitchen. When he didn't immediately reach for the dog food, Dief barked and pawed at the empty dish.

"Oh, for the love of..." Fraser stopped and rubbed his left brow with his thumb before he continued. "Your tendency toward exaggeration is becoming most annoying. If you don't remember the last time you had anything to eat, allow me to refresh your memory. During our shopping expedition this afternoon, at exactly 4:37, we stopped at a street vendor's wagon and Ray bought a giant pretzel -- of which you consumed at least half. I would have thought that would stave off malnutrition for a few hours."

Realizing that he was wasting his breath, Fraser finally relented and filled the dish with dry dog food. "You're hopeless," he vowed, more for his own benefit than for Dief's. The wolf was happily crunching the dry chunks and no longer looking at Fraser.

The Mountie sighed and dismissed the ungrateful lupine from his mind. He had a lot to accomplish before he could go to bed tonight. There was his own dinner to prepare and consume. Then there were his boots that needed to be polished in preparation for tomorrow's delegation. A loose button on his dress uniform that needed resewing. And, of course, a child's birthday present to wrap.

Fraser, methodical as always, proceeded to tackle the first thing on his agenda by opening a can of stew. He emptied the contents in a sauce pan and put it on the stove to heat. It would make a hearty, if uninspired meal. He smiled as he sliced a piece of bread to go with his dinner, remembering Ray's shudder when Fraser had purchased tonight's dinner.

"Canned stew?!" Ray exclaimed and backed away as if Fraser had placed a dead rodent in the cart instead of a harmless can of stew. "Jeez, Frasier, why not canned spaghetti sauce? Or better yet, *frozen* ravioli? Yuck."

Fraser had hid his amusement at his friend's reaction and asked, "Really, Ray, what can be so offensive about a simple can of stew?"

Ray stared at him, unbelieving. "What can be so offensive? I'll tell you what. That stuff smells like dog food and looks like somebody already ate it."

Then it was Fraser's turn to protest. "Please, Ray. Surely you're exaggerating. The label states that it is a home style stew made with farm fresh vegetables and the finest cuts of beef."

Ray rolled his eyes. "Of course it says that, Frasier. It would say it'll put hair on your chest and make you an inch taller if they thought it would make it move off the shelves any faster. It's sure as hell ain't gonna say it's made of vegetables nobody in their right mind would buy and parts of a cow you don't even want to think about."

Despite Ray's continuing protests, Fraser stubbornly refused to relinquish the offending item and had paid for it along with the rest of his groceries. Or rather, Ray had paid for everything when the contents of Fraser's wallet fell a few dollars short of the total bill. Ray hadn't even raised an eyebrow. He simply handed over his credit card to the cashier and muttered, "Well, don't ever let Ma know that I bought you canned stew. I'll never hear the end of it."

After his first taste proved it was quite edible Fraser was happy to note that Dief wasn't the only one with a gift for exaggeration. He made short work of the meal and the washing up afterwards. As Fraser gathered his boots from the corner and his polish from his father's chest, he wondered if Ray had any notion of the way he hoarded times such as that to himself, much like a miser does gold. He sat down on his bed and with a soft cloth and started to apply polish to the smooth leather. Filing bright memories away in the back of his mind was something that he had always done as far back as he could recall.

*His father's early return from his rounds the month of Fraser's ninth birthday. The pride shining in his grandmother's eyes when he had graduated from the Academy and her unexpected embrace after the ceremony. The soft feel of a woman's body pressed tightly to his as they clung to life in under a lean-to. *

All these moments had been relived a thousand times through the long arctic nights of his homeland. And now, since he had come in exile to this strange city, despite how dark and dangerous it could sometimes be, there were so many moments to remember and cherish.

*Ray...throwing his head back in full-throated laughter at some predicament of Detective Huey's. Ray ... sharing a conspiratorial grin with Diefenbaker as he snuck him a choice tidbit when he thought Fraser wasn't looking. Ray... staring over the rim of wax paper coffee cup as he worked out the wording of a report that would get him in the least amount of trouble. Why, just this afternoon the look in Ray's eyes when Fraser had confirmed the fact that he had received a book instead of the hoped-for present. A look that encompassed both empathy and sympathy but never pity. * Never pity. He loved Ray for that. And for so many other things, but most of all for making life in this bewildering place full of bright memories. Enough to fill the empty hours of the night.

The sound of a slamming door down the hall startled Fraser out of his reverie. Much to his chagrin he realized he had been staring at the same dab of polish for a considerable amount of time. This would never do. Fraser resumed working it in with more force than was truly necessary. He was becoming mawkishly sentimental. It was ridiculous. He simply had to find a way to control these thoughts. Especially considering that there were times when they didn't stop being merely maudlin but became downright unacceptable. It had to stop. The man was his friend, that's all. His best friend. Perhaps the best friend Fraser had ever had but, nevertheless, just a friend. And here he was mooning over Ray like a love-sick teenager. Maybe Dief wasn't the only one getting soft.

Fraser finished with the boots and retrieved his tunic and sewing kit, determined to restrict his thoughts to the tasks at hand and the agenda for tomorrow's delegation. The first meeting was to be held at the Lake Shore Hilton at eight am. It would be necessary for him to leave a full half-hour earlier than usual. Considering the fact that he would be walking to work, perhaps it would be best to bathe tonight in order to save time. The bath that he shared with his neighbors was always busiest early in the morning. Ordinarily Fraser didn't mind waiting but it wouldn't do to be late tomorrow. The Inspector wasn't exactly pleased with him as it was. Yes, he would take his bath tonight and shave over the sink in the morning.

By the time his plans for his ablutions were decided to his satisfaction, the button was reattached. That left only one more thing to do -- wrap the present. With supplies in hand Fraser sat at the table. With a few deft movements and several pieces of tape his task was accomplished. He was still uncertain of the choice of wrapping paper, however. It was covered by illustrations of four figures in every imaginable pose, each wearing a different colored body suit with matching helmet and face mask. Ray called them 'Power Rangers' and assured him that they would be a big hit at the party. This paper had not been Fraser's first choice. He had picked out a wrap in a respectable blue, decorated only by an occasional 'Happy Birthday' printed in bold sober type. When Ray noticed what Fraser had chosen, he sadly shook his head and replaced it with the one that was now before him. His only comment was, "Trust me on this one. Okay, Benny?" Bowing to Ray's expertise, Fraser allowed the switch to be made without protest.

Birthdays, in his experience, were something to be acknowledged quietly, with as little fuss as possible. In his own childhood, he would wake on the fateful day to find a card or a handwritten note along with his present, invariably a book, beside his plate at the breakfast table. His grandmother would wish him a happy birthday while serving his breakfast and that would be that. Nothing at all like the raucous celebrations that went on at the Vecchio household. The sheer time, energy and enthusiasm that they expended on not just the younger generation but every member of the family was truly astounding. Perhaps such celebrations could be justified for the youngsters but Fraser couldn't help but think it was, well, a little silly when came to the adults. He had mentioned as much to Ray once.

The cop had stared at him in disbelief and said, "You gotta to be kidding me, Frasier! A person's birthday is the one day that's theirs alone. I mean, it's special, ya know? Everybody's has got a right to feel special at least one day out of the year, don't you think?"

Fraser had tentatively agreed but added, "Of course you realize, technically, considering the population of the world is well over five billion souls and that there are only 365 days in a year, that would mean everyone shares their birthday with approximately 14 million others. So, therefore, one could hardly say that one's birthday is theirs alone."

Ray hung his head in defeat and replied, "It's a Chicago thing, Benny. Just go with it, alright?"

Fraser stood and stretched to relieve the tension from between his shoulder blades. Yes, a bath sounded good. He stripped quickly, donned a robe, gathered his supplies and made his way down the hall. Gratefully finding the bathroom empty, he hung his robe, allowed the tub to fill and stepped in.

In a rare moment of self-indulgence, Fraser allowed himself to slip down until only his head and shoulders were above the water. For a moment he was afraid he had been too generous with the hot water but after a few moments he became accustomed to the temperature. He luxuriated in the heat, feeling it ease away the stresses of the day. It couldn't last, he knew that. Someone was sure to come knocking at the door at any moment. However, he was determined to enjoy it while he could.

Ray would never understand how he could relax in a bathtub used, as Ray put it, "by everyone and their dog." Fraser refrained from mentioning that the bathroom in the Vecchio household seemed, at times, to be no less communal. He remembered the day he stood in that room while Ray took a shower. Despite Ray's protests nearly every member of the family had made an appearance. Fraser smiled as he recalled Ray hurrying to his room still dripping and clad only in a towel. Fraser followed him, not realizing his mistake until Ray whipped off the towel and began drying his hair with it. Oblivious to Fraser's presence, he finished with his hair, threw the towel aside, and proceeded to gather his clothes from various parts of his room. As Ray bent over a bottom drawer, Fraser suddenly remembered where he was and turned away from the sight of the firm, round buttock so innocently presented.

A pleasant ache in his groin brought Fraser back to the present. The hot water, in combination with thoughts of a naked Ray Vecchio, had had an inevitable effect. His member was fully erect and demanding his attention. Fraser sighed. Well hadn't the idea been to relax? Taking care of this problem would certainly relax him. He surely wouldn't get any rest otherwise.

Giving in, Fraser let his hand slip down between his legs. He bit back a moan as he slid two fingers up the sensitive underside of the shaft. His eyes drifted shut as his fingers closed around it and he began a slow, rhythmic pumping.

Suddenly he was back in Ray's bedroom, but this time when Ray bent over Fraser didn't turn away. This Dream Ray looked back over his shoulder and watched Fraser watching him. Fraser let his gaze travel over the wide shoulders and slip down the long, slim back until it reached the perfect slope of buttocks, before bringing it back to meet the green eyes. The Dream Ray smiled, stood and turned to face Fraser. "So, you like what you see?"

Fraser took in the slightly furry chest, the long flat plane of stomach and soft swell of Ray's sex before he whispered, "Very much."

Dream Ray glanced down at himself and shrugged. "Kinda skinny for my tastes, but hey, to each his own, right? Me, I go for the more muscular type." The Dream Ray's gaze traveled over Fraser, leaving no doubt that the Mountie fit the bill. To a tee. Now Dream Ray was no longer across the bedroom but was standing right before Fraser. Close enough to touch. Close enough for Fraser to feel his breath. The eyes that were now only inches from his own were now full of light and mischievous challenge. "So is that all ya gonna do? Look?"

"You're not real," Fraser managed to say, his breath coming in fast, panting bursts.

"How do you know?" Dream Ray countered, moving closer until mere millimeters separated their lips.

"Because the real Ray would never do this."

"If that's what you think you're a fool, Benny," Dream Ray said and leaned forward into a kiss.

For one long moment Fraser could actually feel that long, hard body pressed up against his. Almost taste the honeyed lips that covered his own. Then he was spiraling down from the peak of sensation. He opened his eyes to find himself in the rapidly cooling water, his spent seed splattered across his chest, and Mrs. Gamez pounding furiously on the door.


Part III by Vicki

There is a place somewhere between sleep and wakefulness where dream collides with fantasy head-on. It exists for all but is accepted by few mortals. Those who believe in its existence visit often. Those who don't never make it through its narrow gates. Occasionally, just occasionally, someone will visit and never leave... These are the people that dreams are made of... .


Dream Ray stormed down the corridor and barged through a large golden door. He was angry -- no, he was mad -- no, he was just really, *really* frustrated. The Illustrious Illusion sat on his throne at one end of the seemingly infinitely long, yet quite short, cloud lined-room. As he passed, the guards raised their ethereal weapons but Dream Ray, dressed only in a white bath towel, ignored them and marched straight up to the Illusion.

"What the fuck are you playing at?" Dream Ray demanded loudly as he moved quickly towards the being, scattering water as he went.

"What do you mean?" The Illusion settled back onto the throne and smiled as he waited for the onslaught.

"I mean when you asked me to slam that 'Real Benny' up against the bath tub, did I argue? Did I make a scene? Did I even question your judgment or timing? No! So the very least you could do is get rid of that woman and let me finish the job. Geez, it's the closest I've come to getting him to 'come' out of himself and you have *her* bang on the door. No job satisfaction in a uncompleted task -- that's the real problem..." Dream Ray's anger was quickly dispersing into a grade A sulk.

"I believe your task was indeed completed."

"But I didn't..."

"Your task, as well you know, is to cause the two lovers to realize that they are made for each other...literally."

"Yeah, I know, I know, but killing that one's parents and then getting him to come to Chicago by pulling the old 'on the trail of his father's killers' ruse...I mean it's hardly original, is it?"

"No, not original, but effective."

"What I don't understand is why they can't have 'The Lady' put them in houses next door to each other from the start. Why does *she* have to play games with the mortals lives? Hasn't *she* got anything better to do than that?"

"*She* likes to play games. Many eons ago she did just as you suggested; she made it easy for them. Then she became bored. Games are her diversion. The more complicated the game, the more satisfying the result. Besides, if she didn't like her games then you would not have a career."

"She's a bitch is what she is."

"Calling 'The Lady' a bitch has never been a wise thing to do, as well you know, and I believe she has taken a personal interest in this particular case...she has a 'thing' for that Mountie. She's 'played' with him before. You would be unwise to fuck it up."

"Who said anything about 'fucking it up'?"

"He did." The Illusion pointed across the room, and Dream Ray watched as one of the clouds in the wall began to move, almost imperceptibly at first and then more quickly until it revealed another room through the opening. The form of a man could be clearly seen, and, with a sigh, Evil Benny climbed off the chair in the center of the newly revealed room and turned to enter the Grand Hall.

Evil Benny walked forward a few steps towards the Illusion.

"What?" Evil Benny demanded.

"I require your report. Did you complete your mission?"

"Yeah, you know I did. *He* jerked off as usual." Evil Benny reported, annoyed at being disturbed. He'd been hard at work. He had finally worked out an interesting new way to gain and sustain an erection with only the use of his feet...and he'd always believed in the old motto: "practice makes perfect."

"Could you put it any more crudely?" Dream Ray asked. "That's me you're talking about."

"No it's not. Shit! To get you to jerk off all I'd have to do is look at you like this." Evil Benny raised a single eyebrow and watched with a crooked smile on his face as he saw Dream Ray's hand move involuntarily towards his groin. Evil Benny's smile broadened. Yes, his power over Dream Ray was still as strong. Evil Benny continued with his report. "Yeah, he jerked off. Didn't have to do anything -- just stood there fully clothed -- in that T-shirt he likes so much and that old leather jacket I borrowed from the tooth fairy...I thought I was going to have to do more to get him off but Real Ray came through for me -- as he always does. Listen I can do *my* job, Real Ray's a foregone conclusion. It's this guy you have to worry about." He pointed at Dream Ray. "He couldn't make a fantasy if he had the whole fucking dream factory at his disposal!"

Evil Benny stormed out of the room and the clouds slid shut behind him once more until you couldn't tell that there had ever been a gap.

The Illustrious One's eyes followed Evil Benny until he'd left the room then turned to Dream Ray, looking at him a despairingly. "OK, so what did you two fight about this week?"

"I can't remember something about...umm...Oh yeah! I got it! I forgot his birthday. Then when I gave him this really nice book -- all about currency fire marks -- he threw it back at me and told me where I could shove it. He wasn't very nice to me at all." Dream Ray pouted.

"Didn't you give him a party?"

"He said he didn't want one," Dream Ray replied.

The Illusion sighed. "Look, you've obviously got a lot to learn. If one of the 'Evil ones' *says* he doesn't want a party then that means he does. I thought *everyone* knew that. How long have you two been going out now?"

"Six months...It was so good in the beginning...I just don't understand him any more...What's more, he doesn't understand me..." Dream Ray shook his head and stared intently at the floor, blinking back the tears.

"I'm sure you two will make up -- you always do." The Illusion paused; he'd heard it all before. Second in command in the entire Universe and he was listening to one of 'The Dreams' and his relationship problems...

The Illustrious one shook his head and looked both ways before continuing with the job in hand. "Look, I shouldn't be saying any of this but Eflactem said that if 'you two' don't get 'those two' in Reality together by the end of this week -- real time, she's going to send for you both. You know what that means, don't you?"

Dream Ray looked terrified, and he stared up into the Illusion's face. "The *other* place?"

The Illusion nodded solemnly. "Yes -- the other place. She said that this was your last chance."


"Oh, come on...You remember the last time? When Real Ray was a Cowboy and Benny was an Indian?"

Dream Ray looked slightly embarrassed. "Well, Ray didn't *mean* to shoot Benny *twelve* times in the head."

"Maybe not, but what about the time before that? And the one before that? And, oh yes, the one before that as well..."

Dream Ray's head hung down as the Illusion continued.

"Now go quickly. Between the two of you, you must arrive at a plan and carry it out. You must succeed or you know what the consequences will be."

Dream Ray nodded solemnly and set off towards the door.

The Illusion called after him. "Oh, and about your other problem?"

Dream Ray turned and looked back at his Mentor. "Yes?"

"Try chocolates."


Part IV by Birgitt


"This is not FAIR!"

Yes, she liked that. Very much. Yelling gave herself and those hovering around her a tiny glimpse of her power. If she could yell that loudly...well, she shuddered at the thought what she could do with a look, with a gesture of her hands, with a kick of her booted feet. She was losing it again. The third time after breakfast. And that had been only two hours ago, by human standards. She didn't even try to calculate what that meant in measurements appropriate for eternity. But it felt so good to be her!

Mary Sue started pacing to appease herself. Ooops! No, her name wasn't Mary Sue. Not today. She'd changed it this morning. What was it again? Names were her weakness. One of her weaknesses, to be honest. Ah, yes! Yesterday was M. Today it was N. Nemesis. Right. She could remember that. It reminded her of her sister. 'The Lady' of the other place. Ha, Lady. Just because she preferred to clothe in red and black leather, wore boots, and used some not-so-decent make-up her sister thought herself to be something else...better, of course. Well, she -- Nemesis -- would show her. And this was the perfect occasion.

One of her little pets, a slorg, a little fuzz ball with a myriad of eyes and ears, was capable of flying soundlessly and had just reported that there was a crisis in the other place involving two old acquaintances. Two earthlings. A Chicago Cop and a Canadian Constable. Nemesis loved alliterations. And the Illustrious One had made a decisive mistake. He had meddled with earthly affairs by giving one of the dreamlanders -- Dream Ray to be precise -- a warning. Now she had every right to interfere as well.

After Nemesis had cooled down a bit she turned to her second in command. Not a big, shining being like the Illustrious One, shorter and more dull-looking, but nonetheless he was a capable being. The Notorious One made up with his brains for what he lacked in looks. Nemesis smiled down at him. "This is my chance to give my dear sister a long-deserved blow to her overconfidence. And those two boys -- or should I say four boys? -- will be of great help. And I will do this myself. There is enough time before Evil Benny and Dream Ray will work out a plan. Time we should put to a good use. Would you like to join me, my old friend?"

The Notorious One licked his lips in anticipation. Anything to get out of those damp rooms was welcome to him. Of course these premises were luxurious and well-equipped for all pleasures of body and soul. But still...that constant humidity took their toll on him after all those years. He was all game for a little diversion on Earth.

"Of course I join you. I would never let you down, Nemesis."

Nemesis smiled. Such a clever one. Never forgets the names I chose.

"Well, let's see. I have the first pick. Green eyes. Yes, I like those. So I will visit the cop. That leaves you the Mountie. You sure you are up to it?" Her formerly no-nonsense tone had turned into a teasing one. The Notorious One didn't bother to answer; he just nodded to her challenge.

The two dreamlanders went into the center of a pentacle that was drawn on the floor in the middle of the room -- drawn with blood. Nemesis' servants had a hard time refreshing the symbol each morning. Dreamlanders were bloodless creatures, and so fresh blood was hard to come by and precious. But it was necessary for the magic to work. And it worked well now. First, a blinding flash and then an enormous amount of smoke blurred the visions of those who dared to witness the transformation. Nemesis and the Notorious One stepped out of the pentacle, now the spitting images of Ray Vecchio and Benton Fraser.


A sharp knock on his bedroom door woke Ray out of a fitful sleep. He sat up in alarm, checking the clock on the nightstand beside him. Three hours. He'd slept only three hours. It was still dark outside, still hours before he had to get up for work. He sighed and let out an angry, "Yes?"

The door opened, and a second later the lights flared up. Ray blinked rapidly.

When he recognized the man who entered, his jaw dropped open and he stared speechlessly at what he guessed to be an apparition. Before he could pinch himself to make sure that he wasn't dreaming anymore the apparition spoke: "Ray, I am well aware of the fact that this is an...ahem...unusual hour to visit a...uhh...friend, but I just had to come and see you."

Ray swallowed hard, unable to think, unable to speak. Benton Fraser stood in his bedroom, clad in his usual red serge, his hat in his hands, fingering it nervously. The Mountie evaded the staring look of his friend and studied his boots. "I apologize for my intrusion, Ray, but...I had to come and see you."

"See me," Ray repeated tonelessly, swallowing again. Then his gaze fell on his pajama pants that he had draped over the foot of his bed. He looked up again, realizing that Fraser had followed his gaze. With an effort Ray avoided looking at the washcloth that still lay on the nightstand beside him.

"Yes, Ray, see you. I have to tell you something. Something important." Fraser's voice was rather breathless.

Ray tried to sound cheerful, but he failed miserably. His voice shook tremendously. He just managed to avoid a stutter. "Well, it must be important if you come here at this hour. Spill it, Benny."

Fraser gave his friend a smile and nodded eagerly. "Thank you, Ray. May I sit down?" Ray looked around his room. Before he could say something Fraser sat down on his bed, nearly touching him. Fraser lay his hat on the nightstand, covering the cloth. His right hand reached out and took Ray's. The hand was warm. Ray's own felt like ice. Ray shivered slightly. Or was it a shudder?

"Oh, Ray, to be near you...to be with you...Why talk? I can explain this far better by showing you what I feel." The next thing Ray knew, Fraser pressed his full lips onto his own. Ray tried to pull back, but he realized that his head was already pressed onto the pillow. Fraser had gripped his wrists and pinned them down beside his head.

At the next moment Fraser forced his lips open, and his tongue slid searching and scorching into Ray's mouth. Hot like fire, cold as ice at the same time. Ray responded without thinking. He finally closed his eyes, giving into the sensation. Fraser was too near for him to see something else than a piercing blueness, anyway. And it was better to hide his soul from those knowing blue eyes. For now, at least.

Two tongues explored each other for what seemed eons, and Ray ran out of breath. Part of him wanted to stop the kiss, but he couldn't. He knew he would rather suffocate than push this gorgeous man off himself. What a way to die!

Fraser pulled back, breathlessly. He let go of Ray's wrist. "This...important...enough?" Ray forced his eyes open, his green eyes had turned nearly black. His sweetly aching mouth was unable to smile. He nodded.

Still out of breath, he panted, "More," and reached up to Fraser's head with both hands. He pulled the Mountie down for another desperate kiss. There was a need in him that had to be sated or he would go nuts. Here and now...

Again it was Fraser who pulled back. The Mountie undressed himself frantically, throwing his boots and his uniform down on the floor without hesitation. His shirt and his underwear followed. Ray watched the show in a daze. He came to when Fraser threw the blanket out of the bed. It took him only a second to pull the pajama top over his head. Looking up again, he realized that Fraser was watching him. Those wonderful blue eyes traveled up and down Ray's body. Jesus, that felt like a caress. And then the looks were replaced by touches.

Tenderly Fraser's hands caressed Ray's face, exploring again. With a sigh, Ray lay back, closing his eyes. Go home, Evil Benny. This is the real thing. Even better.

Fraser placed a feather-light kiss on the closed eyelids of his friend. Then he kissed the tip of Ray's nose, then his mouth. Before he could escape further down, he was captured in another of Ray's demanding kisses. Those kisses seemed to feed the other man. And they did. They fed him with love, desire, passion. Ray released the Mountie's tongue, ready to wait for the next step. And Fraser didn't hesitate any longer. His tongue slid out of Ray's burning mouth, and went on for the next target.

And like an attack it was. Ray moaned as Fraser's sucking mouth found his right nipple. It became hard under the contact and Ray's hands reached involuntarily to his groin. As he touched his shaft he let go of a hissing sound. Fraser moved his attention to the other nipple, repeating the delightful sucking there. He let his body down on Ray's and Ray's erection pressed into Fraser's muscular stomach.

And the mouth and the tongue didn't linger. They slid down Ray's body, fleetingly caressing his stomach and his navel. At the next moment Fraser reached the ultimate destination. His tongue slid up and down Ray's penis, teasing it, licking it. When it touched the tip of the shaft Ray let out a small cry, followed by a shiver that ran through his whole body and that was absorbed by Fraser's welcoming mouth, taking in Ray's erect manhood. Ray was beyond crying now, beyond thinking. He started thrusting in a slow rhythm. Natural, but never experienced like this. Unbidden, but welcomed. Sweet, but hurting at the same time. Heaven and hell.

Ray knew he would come shortly and the thrusting became faster, harder. Fraser caught every movement with and in his mouth. His hands guided Ray's movements to perfection. Just another second...

Abruptly Fraser pulled back, letting go of Ray's still-hard penis. Ray's protest of frustration came out in a wretched moan and he had difficulties understanding Fraser's next words: "My turn now."

He searched for the Mountie's eyes and when he found them he wished he had not. The wonderful expression in them was gone, replaced by a cold, colorless stare. What had been like a caress was like an insult now. Fraser looked at him like he was a...mere thing.

Ray gasped. "What is going on here?"

It wasn't before Fraser slapped him across his mouth that he realized he had spoken those words aloud. "Shut up, man. I said it's my turn now. And my rules." And then he gripped Ray's wrists again with one hand and pinned them down behind the Italian's head. Fraser sat down on Ray's legs, leaving the other man unable to move. With his free hand he reached down on the floor, without giving Ray an inch of space to free himself. Ray blinked in horror when he saw the handcuffs. Seconds later he was shackled to his own bed...by his own best friend...in his own personal nightmare...Be careful what you wish for...

In horror Ray watched as Fraser's face neared his own with an expression void of any tenderness or love. Fraser's lips came down hard on his own. Like before, but totally different now. Ray refused to open his mouth and was rewarded with a bite in the upper lip. He smelt and tasted his own blood. Infuriated and in frustration he managed to cry out. But that was silenced by Fraser who started to suck at his tongue full force, taking it into his mouth. He was going to tear it out. Ray's eyes opened even wider. Tears started to flow down his cheeks. That seemed to distract the Mountie, who stopped the sucking. While Ray tried to catch his breath, taking in lungfuls of air, Fraser licked those tears away.

The gesture that should have comforted him now felt like a blow, like a humiliation. Fraser let out a harsh laugh. "I never expected you to taste like this, Ray. I never believed you to be the fearful kind. But I like you all the better now. Let's have some fun, will we?"

"Get off me, asshole. Get off or..." Another slap on his mouth stopped Ray's words.

"Or what, Ray? You're going to call your mama? Or your sisters? Go on, coward, there's always room for dessert. Although I planned to end this little meal with peaches." With that, Fraser lifted his body and stood beside the bed. Before Ray could react Fraser had turned him around, twisting his still-cuffed arms awkwardly. Fraser placed a hand in Ray's neck, pressing his face into the pillow. It was only seconds before the hand released him, but still Ray gasped in panic. He surely won't kill him, would he?

There was no time to find an answer. Fraser started caressing Ray's buttocks, pinching him from time to time. Ray yelped like a puppy. Fraser laughed each time at his reaction. "Isn't it fun? Wait a second, this will get even better."

Fraser gripped Ray's legs, spreading them apart. He probed the cleft between the ass-cheeks with his thumbs. "I'd say you're ready for the next course, Ray. But first, I'm a little bit thirsty. Let's have a little bit of dark red wine. Quite fitting to accompany Italian red meat, don't you think, Ray?"

The next thing Ray felt was the cold steel of Fraser's hunting knife, sliding down the side of his neck. Ray lost control. This man had gone insane. He lifted his head as high as he could and let out cries of horror and panic. He cried and yelled and screamed. Screamed until the world around him turned black...


"Ray...Ray...Ray..." Francesca shook her brother impatiently. She looked worried. When she came up the stairs she had heard him screaming like he was being murdered or something. And before she reached his door the screams had abruptly stopped. She had opened the door and found Ray unconscious on his bed, half-naked under crumpled bedclothes. She had rearranged the blanket to hide his nakedness and then she had tried to wake him.

Finally he seemed to hear her. His eyes blinked and she let out a sigh of relief. "Ray, are you all right?"

He looked up at her, squinting his eyes against the light that streamed in through the windows. He sat up in panic.

"What?" Ray had difficulty thinking straight. What had happened? Fraser had been here, with his hunting knife. Ray looked around himself in panic. No, no Fraser. Thanks to God. That must have been a nightmare. He was alone now. Well, not all alone.

There was his...sister? Yeah, that being that stood there looked like Frannie and spoke like her but what happened to her eyes and ears? Her ears were pointed, reminding him sharply of Mister Spock! And her eyes...not the usual brown, but green like his own. And then her clothes. She was clad in green from head to toe. Ray shook his head in shock. This must be another dream. No, not again. He felt his anger rising...

Francesca bent forward to inspect her brother. "Ray, are you OK now? I came up to show you my dress for the party tonight when I heard you..." She never stood a chance to end the sentence.

Ray raised his right hand in a fist and hit her full force on the jaw. "No...more...nightmares!" he shouted. With horror he discovered that the apparition who looked like his sister didn't vanish, but fell to the floor with a sickening thud.


Part V by Courser


The moment his fist connected with Frannie's face, Ray knew she was no dream. He lurched out of bed and knelt on the floor next to his prostrate sister.

"Oh, Christ, Frannie! I'm sorry! Are you all right?" He cradled her head in one hand, stroking her cheek with the other, no thought given to his state of undress.

"Yeah Ray! Excuse me for being concerned." She pushed his hands away and got up. "And put something on for God's sake."

"Frannie, I'm sorry, really," he tried to explain as he put his arms into a robe, "but I had this horrible dream. I mean it was really, really awful. Fraser..."

Ray realized his mistake too late, his anxiety making him incautious.

Frannie perked up like a guard dog scenting an intruder. "Fraser? Fraser was in your dream? Nightmare, whatever?"

"Yeah, Frannie. Now go on, get outta here. I gotta get dressed."

As he dressed, Ray tried to make some sense of what had happened. Things had really gotten out of control, he was aware of that. All of his anxieties about his forbidden attraction to Fraser were making him crazy. It was the guilt, that was it. Evil Benny. God, he should never had thought of that nickname. Whatever visited him in his dreams had been truly evil.


Across town, at the Lake Shore Hilton, Constable Benton Fraser was already hard at work. Well, the work wasn't exactly hard, tedious was more like it, especially considering that he'd had a very restless night filled with disturbing dreams. It must be something about these delegations. He'd had nightmares during the trade delegation last year. But they hadn't featured Ray. A very different one from the man he knew, or even dreamed about, for that matter. Nightmare Ray had been cruel and selfish, taking his pleasure from Ben's body without a single kind word or gentle caress. Ben had been deeply disturbed to discover that he'd ejaculated towards the end of his humiliation by this evil specter, the release devoid of any pleasure. Nothing in his relatively good grasp of psychology could explain either the dream or his subconscious interpretation of his dear friend. Fraser did his best to push his unease and concern into a secure compartment of his brain and give the delegation his full attention.

*Oh, would you look at that. Such a fine display of Scrimshaw etchings. And over there...why, I haven't seen one of those in years,* Ben thought to himself, desperately wanting to pick the unusual item up and examine it.

"May I please have a closer look at this piece?" he asked, blushing just a trifle at the pretty Inuit craftswoman.

"Of course, Constable. It's genuine, too, not a cheap knockoff for the tourist trade." She handed him the delicate bone.

The piece depicted a dogsled team delicately rendered on the os penis of a beluga whale. Possession of the penis bone of such a large and majestic creature had long been considered a symbol of virility among most of the Northern native peoples. This particular carving reminded him of Ray's dedication in helping him uncover his father's killer and their very first sledding experience together.

The artist watched the handsome Mountie examine her handiwork, confident that he knew what he was looking at. His delicate blush had been so charming. Traditionally, these items were given as a gift to a lover, or as an invitation to become lovers.

"Constable, please accept it as a token of my...our appreciation of your services." She smiled shyly at him, looking up at him through thick, dark lashes.

"Oh, uh...Oh! No!" Fraser stammered, fully aware of what the woman was offering. "I mean, I do appreciate the offer, but as a member of the RCMP, I cannot possibly accept such a generous gift. Please, allow me to pay for it."

Ben was relieved that he could hide behind the regulation against accepting a gift for merely doing his job. As lovely as she was, he only had eyes for a certain Italian detective.

Disappointed, but hardly surprised, the artist named a ridiculously low price, in Canadian funds, no less. She wasn't a petty woman and he deserved to have a gift for whomever had managed to turn his head. Boxing the carving in a gift box, she handed it to him, accepting his payment in return.

"Good luck, Constable," she whispered, just to see him blush again.

He didn't disappoint her.


Pandemonium had broken loose in the land of dreams. The Illustrious Illusion had just concluded an extremely unpleasant meeting with "The Lady." It seemed that his little warning to Dream Ray had caused huge repercussions "down below." Feeling a bit less Illustrious than usual, he summoned Dream Ray and Evil Benny before him. Dream Ray looked haggard and distressed and Evil Benny no longer looked quite so sultry. More like pouty, which, while still attractive, just didn't have quite the same impact.

The Illustrious Illusion addressed them formally:

"As you may or may not know, the project you both have been working on, one that is of utmost important importance to "The Lady," was seriously compromised last night. It is time for you both to set personal matters aside and put all of your considerable resources into play. It is imperative that your earthly counterparts consummate their union soon, before there are any further disturbances from...below."

Dream Ray and Evil Benny shared a look. They both knew without speaking exactly what was needed. There was no more time for an elaborate seduction.


For the better part of the afternoon, Fraser stood guard over the delegation. It wasn't like guard duty at the Consulate, of course. This was a less official version of guard duty, though he was still required to wear the red serge.

He found it increasingly difficult to keep his mind focused on the business at hand. It was Dream Ray again. Not the Dream Ray of last night, who'd ravished him thoughtlessly, but his own version. Oddly enough, though, this version wore considerably more than a towel, dressed in one of his better Armani suits. At least it started out that way.

Fraser shook himself imperceptibly. This wouldn't do, wouldn't do at all. He tried to find something else to concentrate on. *Oh look. Hand-woven blankets. Lovely workmanship, beautiful detail.* He directed his attention to a display not far away. Blankets. Warm, soft blankets. Soft like Ray's skin against him. Ray's lips on his. Ben felt himself starting to stiffen in his uniform. No one noticed that his eyes had sort of glazed over.

Ray's lips moved from his mouth to his neck, sucking and nipping at the soft flesh just above his uniform collar. Ben suppressed a low moan as Ray's hands began working the brass buttons through their holes, somehow expertly unfastening the Sam Browne. Ray's hands danced across his chest and unbuttoned the Henley, his teeth grazing Ben's overheated skin in their wake. Ben's own hands raised, unbidden, to unknot the silk at Ray's throat, slowly pulling it free, then sliding the jacket off his shoulders and down his arms. Ray pulled Ben's suspenders down and opened his trousers. The flush of anticipation drove Ben to claim Ray's mouth with his own, their tongues sparring and exploring...

"Excuse me, Constable," an elderly woman addressed him.

Ben flinched perceptibly, doing his best to suppress the blush he felt begin at this collar.

"Yes Ma'am, how might I assist you?" Fraser replied in his most "official" voice.

He listened intently, giving the woman his total attention and hoping that his erection would somehow magically disappear. Oh, it would eventually fade on its own, he just wished that it would happen sooner, rather than later.


Ray sat at his desk at the 27th doing his best to review his cases. No matter how hard he tried, his thoughts kept drifting to Benny, in spite of the horrifying dream he'd had. He really couldn't imagine Fraser doing any of those things to him. Ray was soon thinking of the things he would like Benny to do to him and the things he'd like to do in turn. Evil Benny...no, Ray suppressed a shudder, Nasty Benny maybe. A snort escaped him and he looked around to make sure he hadn't been overheard. "Nasty Benny" was just silly. Benny, just Benny. For once, he saw Ben in his formal uniform, the scarlet color setting off his fair complexion. He'd never fantasized about Benny in uniform before, not while it was all still done up and everything.

Benny approached him, his hand outstretched and his fingers stroking Ray's cheek. Ray heard the soft rasp of Benny's fingers across his jaw stubble, smelled soap on his hand, felt the gentle pressure on his face. In his mind's eye, Benny met his eyes, slowly lowering his head to press a kiss on Ray's lips. Ben's lips were cool, but ignited a fire deep inside him. He dropped his jaw slightly, inviting further exploration, and was rewarded with Ben's firm, soft tongue stroking his lips before venturing within. Ben's hand on the back of Ray's neck steadied him as Ben deepened the kiss. Ben was like a starving man feasting on Ray's mouth and he moaned low in his throat. Ray wrapped his arms around the larger man, holding him close. Ben worked a hand between them to unfasten the stiff leather of his Sam Browne and it slid to the floor with a rattle and a thump. Following Benny's lead, Ray unfastened the buttons of the tunic and slid it from Ben's shoulders until it joined the leather on the floor. Ray massaged the long muscles of Ben's back while Ben moved from his mouth to his neck, licking and nipping. Ray had always imagined that Ben liked to use his teeth, and he wasn't disappointed.

Ray felt his cock stiffen as Ben pushed his suit coat off his shoulders while suckling on an earlobe, carefully holding it with his teeth. Unfastening the uniform trousers, Ray was rewarded with a hitching sigh from Ben, who was removing Ray's tie. Ray slipped his hand inside, encountered starched cotton, then finally the hard length of Ben's cock. Ray felt a rush of arousal at the realization that Benny was hard for him.

"Ray? Hey, Earth to Vecchio," a familiar voice chided.

"Huh? Oh, yeah? Elaine!" He reluctantly returned to the here and now.

"Where'd you go? From the look of you, I could use a visit myself." She told him, "Uh, I just needed your signature on this report."

"Oh, okay." He scrawled his name at the bottom of the paper. "Thanks, Elaine, Welsh'd chew my butt if I forgot again."

"No problem...seriously, Ray, you okay?" Concern colored her deep brown eyes.

"Yeah, fine Elaine, thanks." Ray looked at his watch. It was just about time to leave if he was going to be in time for Tony's birthday party.


Ben did arrive in time for the birthday cake and gift opening. In all the excitement he'd been able to hide Ray's surprise in the coat closet. He'd wait until after the child's party to give it to him in a more private setting. He was still unsure how he would explain it to Ray, but was sure that something would come to him.

To everyone's surprise and relief, young Antonio had delighted in the sight of the wildly multicolored crystals transforming into tiny spears rising from the bottom of the jelly jar sacrificed for the purpose. The boy had wanted to begin building the model car immediately, but had been convinced, somewhat reluctantly, to wait until a more quiet moment. The most exciting part of the party over, Ray and Ben retired to the den.

"So, Benny, how were the arts and crafts folks?" Ray asked casually, even though the most uncasual thoughts were swimming through his thoughts.

"There was quite an unusual variety on display, Ray. In fact I, uh, saw something that reminded me of you," Ben told him, pulling nervously at his ear.

"You did? What?" Ray asked, inordinately pleased that Ben had been thinking of him.

"I'll get it."

Ray found himself alone in the den, but only a moment later, Ben returned with a rectangular box. Ben felt his stomach turn over as he handed the box to Ray.

"Benny! What's this for? It's not my birthday." He said excitedly. Ray couldn't believe that Ben had bought him a gift.

"Well, you haven't seen it yet. Open it." Ben wouldn't meet Ray's eyes.

Ray lifted the lid of the box, finding an ivory colored, long, slender...something. Gently lifting it out of the cotton cradling it, he saw that something had been carved into it. He looked closer and recognized the finely drawn dogsled, every detail lovingly rendered.

"Benny, it's beautiful! This reminded you of me?" Ray was overwhelmed at Benny's thoughtfulness.

"It reminded me of our first case together. How you helped my catch my father's killer. Your first dogsled ride." Ben's voice was quiet, too quiet, as a matter of fact.

Apparently gift-giving was as foreign to him as gift-receiving.

"But this must have set you back quite a bit. I mean ivory is...well," Ray started.

"It's not ivory, Ray. It's bone. It wasn't terribly expensive," Ben explained.

"Oh. So what kind of bone is it, Benny? Caribou?" Ray asked, examining the artwork closely.



"No. It's whale bone," Ben answered finally.

"Oh. Whale bone, huh?" Ray turned it around in his hands, trying to determine where such a bone might be located on such a large creature. "What kind of bone, Benny?"

Ben didn't reply immediately, scratching his eyebrow with a thumbnail in a gesture Ray knew was a sign of nervousness.

"Um, it's the os penis, actually." He finally met Ray's eyes, seeing them go wide at his understanding.

Ray made sure he didn't drop the fragile piece in surprise. Was Benny trying to tell him something?

"Penis? You mean this...?" Ray stammered quietly.

"Yes, Ray, many mammals have them. Well, male mammals, that is, because, of course, females..."

"I get it Benny," Ray smiled and drew his friend into an appreciative hug. "Thank you."

After a moment, Benny's arms came around him to return the gesture.

"You're very welcome."


Part VI by Ro


After all the dreams and fantasies he'd experienced these past few days, it was hard for Ray to ignore how good...no, how all-around right Fraser felt in his arms, even if it were just a platonic hug. Their heights, their builds, even the way their heads were angled to look over each other's shoulders while they embraced -- all seemed to indicate that their bodies had been designed with each other in mind. The closeness was nothing short of perfect.

Ray supposed that he was over-indulging a little here. Protocol called for a brief hug to commemorate the special gift Benny had given him. Ray knew he should let go of Fraser and step back, but he just couldn't, not yet. Maybe Ray would have withdrawn if Fraser had gotten all squirrelly the way the Mountie did whenever someone inflicted unwanted closeness on him, but Vecchio couldn't feel a bit of uneasiness in the solid body he held so near. In fact, if he didn't know his proper friend as well as he did, Ray would have sworn that Benny was enjoying the contact as much as he was himself.

And, who knew, perhaps Fraser was enjoying it, Ray thought. It wasn't like his friend let anyone else get close enough to hug him this way. Vecchio knew that Fraser didn't have any family or any other real friends besides himself. No matter how independent and self-sufficient a person was, deep down inside of them, there had to be a lonely part that cried out for simple human contact. So Ray quit worrying and just enjoyed the closeness of the moment.

Way too soon, Vecchio felt his partner's muscles tense. He immediately loosened his hold, allowing Fraser complete or partial withdrawal. To his surprise and delight, Benny only stepped far enough back to look into his face. Fraser's hands remained loosely placed on the detective's shoulders, the Canadian's torso and lower body resting temptingly close.

Ray met his friend's gaze, and found himself immediately drowning in the crystal depths. Though an incredibly beautiful color of blue, Fraser's eyes were normally a little remote, distant as one of those arctic lakes Benny had shown him that time Ray had gone up to help Fraser find his father's murderer. Benny's eyes were always intensely beautiful, but like those lakes, they were usually untouchable.

But not tonight. Tonight Fraser's gaze was warm. No, more than warm, those eyes burned hot as gas jets; they were shimmering, hypnotic blue flames. The stunned detective lost himself in their heat. Stunned, Ray recognized that there was open desire there, and a hunger that matched his own.

Benny felt the same as he did? Was it possible? Well, there was only one way to find out. Vecchio positioned his head for a kiss and began to move in.

Ray saw the exact moment Fraser's intellect caught up with what was happening. As quickly as an oven burner being extinguished, all that heat was turned off as normal arctic blue reasserted its dominion. Ray detected the uneasiness that no one else would have noticed in the Mountie's bland expression as Fraser stepped a respectable foot away from him. Beneath the implacable Mountie mask, Fraser looked shell-shocked and scared, like maybe he was waiting for Ray's Italian temper to explode.

And even though Fraser had pulled back from the impending kiss, everything was suddenly all right in Ray Vecchio's world, for Ray knew that it was going to be okay now. His handsome partner wasn't disgusted by the idea of them together sexually. Benny was experiencing the same fears and reservations that Ray had endured himself these past few weeks.

His guts twisting in sympathy at Fraser's contained worry, Ray offered a smile. It wasn't his normal one. This one was shyer, uncertain, for, despite their obvious mutual attraction, it was quite possible that Fraser mightn't want to take this to the next step. Just because desire existed, it didn't always mean a person wanted to act upon it. Fraser was probably the most repressed man Ray had ever met. Benny mightn't want to walk down this particular road with him, mightn't want these kinds of complications in his life.

"Thank you for the gift, Benny," Ray said softly, meaning more than just the fragile sculpture he held in his hand. "I'll treasure it forever."

Although Fraser had mastered control of his facial expression long ago, his friend had absolutely no control over his automatic reflexes. Fraser's gulp was loud and pronounced, the Mountie's relief almost a palpable presence. "I am glad you like it , Ray. The medium of the carving has deep significance among the Northern Tribes. The os penis bone of the beluga whale is steeped in tradition."

Fraser was trying to tell him something here, Ray realized, recognizing that his partner was using each word to feel out the emotional terrain the way Fraser would check each step on an ice floe before trusting his weight to it.

"Oh?" Vecchio softly inquired, making damn sure that his features were open and receptive to any long, rambling Inuit tale.

"Yes. Traditionally, an Inuit will give such a gift to a lover or to someone they wish to court." Although Fraser did not rush through the words, the Mountie looked as though he were waiting for lightning to strike him dead now that the words had been voiced.

Ray barely stopped himself from jumping around the room and crowing with joy. There was no way Fraser was going to tackle this issue openly. Everything was going to be nuances and euphemisms at the start, until his old-fashioned friend was completely confident. The fact that Fraser had told him the significance of the art piece indicated that Benny wanted them to move forward.

"That sounds pretty cool, Benny," Ray assured, not sure himself what else to say here. Fraser was so old-fashioned, so proper about things. Ray didn't have a clue when it came to romantic etiquette. He wasn't dealing with a street-wise Chicago girl here. He was attempting to win a guy who'd been raised by his grandmother, a guy who had only had a single lover in his entire life. Benny's sensibilities were almost Victorian at times, and Ray had no idea as to how to move this to the next level without offending his friend.

"It does?" Fraser appeared both relieved and startled.

"Yeah, Benny, it -- " Vecchio's words were cut off by a loud pounding at the closed den door.

"Uncle Ray! Uncle Ray!" Antonio's high childish voice penetrated the thick wood.

Ray was so startled by the reminder that he'd been about to kiss his partner here with his nosy family all around that he nearly dropped the carving. Grabbing it tighter in his hand, Ray called out, "Yeah, what do you want, Tony?"

"You promised that you'd help me put the model car together once my friends left and they're all gone now!" the petulant voice reminded through the closed door.

Ray wanted to scream. The magic of the moment had been utterly destroyed. Fraser's face had blanked of all emotion. Benny looked as unapproachable to romance at the moment as any Mountie on duty. "We should return to the party, Ray," Fraser gently said.

"Yeah, but this isn't over, okay? We still have things to talk about."

"Yes, Ray."

Sighing, Ray shouted to his nephew, "I'll be out in a minute."

Ray took a moment to carefully store the bone sculpture in the drawer of a nearby desk. He'd bring it up to his room later, once everyone had gone to bed. Mentally bracing himself, Ray turned to face a roomful of partying relatives. Antonio's friends might have departed, but Ray knew his family. It would be hours before all the visiting Vecchios finally went home.

Ray's expectations were not disappointed. It was a full three hours before the visiting relatives left and the birthday party actually ended. During that time Benny and he had played with the kids and hung out with the older folks, the two generations that were most charmed by his partner's anachronistic personality.

They hadn't been alone together for a second since their discussion in the den. It was no big surprise to Ray that Benny seemed almost nervous around him now. The tension in the Riv as he drove his partner and Dief home was thick enough to cut with a knife. The few conversational gambits Ray had attempted had been met with polite disinterest. Now, as he stopped the car in front of Fraser's building, Ray was struck with the horrible feeling that his partner was going to cut and run, that their interrupted conversation was never going to be concluded.

He stared over at Fraser's shadowed profile. There was little encouragement to be found in those artist-perfect features. Fraser wasn't even looking at him. In retrospect, Ray realized that the Mountie hadn't allowed himself to look at his American partner for the entire trip home. Ray wasn't sure how to interpret that. It could be a good thing if Benny didn't trust himself to behave when they were alone together. Or, far more likely, it might just mean that Fraser regretted their entire exchange. Whichever the case, Vecchio knew he couldn't just let it end like this, stillborn. He wasn't willing to let their love die simply to avoid personal embarrassment.

"Goodnight, Ray," Fraser said. His nervousness would have escaped anyone other than the man at his side.

Ray said in a soft, non-threatening voice, "Thank you again for that beautiful sculpture, Benny. I'll always treasure it."

Vecchio chose his words with great care. Too forward an approach was bound to scare Fraser off. Ray knew that his only hope of reviving their interrupted conversation was to give Fraser an opening and see if the Mountie were interested enough to go for it. Benny's response would give Ray some idea as to how important this was to his friend.

"You're welcome, Ray," Fraser replied, looking directly at him for the first time in twenty minutes. The silence stretched for a long, heavy moment between them before Fraser gulped and asked in a breathless rush, "Are you busy tomorrow night?"

Ray's entire body went weak with relief. Benny had taken the verbal bait. What's more, Fraser had made the first move and asked him out. Obviously, this relationship was of deep significance to Benny.

Trying very hard not to play it too cool, for this particular suitor would balk at the first hint of unwelcome, Ray replied, "No, Benny, I'm not doing anything. What did you have in mind?"

Some of the tension seemed to fade from Fraser's carefully controlled features. "Dinner, perhaps?"

Ray wanted to tell his partner to relax, that it was just him and there was nothing to be afraid of, but he knew that wouldn't go over well with his proud friend. So instead, Ray offered his brightest smile. "Dinner sounds great, Benny. I'll pick you up about seven?"

"All right. I'll see you then."

Seeing that Fraser was ready to flee the Riv, Ray quickly called out, "Benny?"

"Yes, Ray?" His cheeks a bright enough pink to be seen in the low lighting; Fraser appeared endearingly flustered.

Ray didn't want to push things, but for his own peace of mind, he had to know. "We are talking about a date here -- a real date, as in courtship?"

Vecchio knew he might have just thrown everything away with that blunt question, but he didn't want them working at cross purposes. If he was misinterpreting these signals, it was better he find out now.

"Yes, Ray," Fraser answered, proving once again that he was the bravest man Vecchio had ever met. "That is, I would hope..."

Taking mercy on his floundering friend, Ray interrupted, "All right, then. Seven o'clock."

Looking fully as frightened as Ray felt, Benny bit his lower lip and nodded. "Seven o'clock."

"Oh, and, Benny?"


Ray took a deep breath and said what needed saying, "Just for the record, my intentions are honorable."

His statement seemed to totally vanquish Fraser's nervousness. Looking and sounding far more himself, Benny assured, "That was never in doubt, Ray."

"It wasn't?" Vecchio couldn't help but ask. He was so accustomed to people thinking the worst of him that when someone actually believed in him, it came as a shock.

"No, Ray. You are an honorable man. It is one of the many things I find attractive about you."

"You really find me attractive, Benny?" That was probably the stupidest question he'd ever asked another human being, Ray realized. If nothing else, it spot-lighted his insecurity -- which no one found appealing. But even though he loved and lusted after his beautiful partner with all his heart, deep down Ray found it difficult to believe that Fraser could want him the same way.

"Very much so, Ray. I..." Fraser seemed to pause to consider the prudence of his next statement before continuing with, "I dream about your charms."

The blush that claimed Benny's cheeks told Ray that they were talking about the same kind of dreams Ray had suffered from himself lately. Why it should happen to the both of them now, after all this time together, was beyond his ability to comprehend. All Vecchio knew was that it made life that much simpler. If Benny were experiencing those same erotic wet dreams, at least he didn't have to worry about shocking his sheltered partner with his base desires.

"Yeah, I've had some pretty wild ones myself lately," Ray admitted.

"You have?" Fraser appeared stunned.

"Yeah, you do some very un-Mountie-like things in them." Finding nothing but open acceptance in those shadowed features, Ray cautiously continued with, "I call you Evil Benny in them."

"You're Dream Ray in mine, because I could never imagine that you would want to do the things in real life that I dream of us doing together."

Shocked to his bones, Ray realized that it was exactly the same for them. Fraser burned for him the same way he did for Benny.

"There's nothing I wouldn't do with you, Benny. Nothing," Ray whispered, trapped in the endless blue of those incredible eyes.

Fraser gasped like he'd been hit below the belt. The bland Mountie expression was gone, in its place was one of tender torment.

Ray had never seen anyone look like they needed a touch as bad as Fraser did at that moment. He knew that he should stick to his guns and remain a gentleman, but he couldn't ignore Benny hurting like that. Even though he knew Fraser would probably be mad at him for pushing things too fast, Ray moved closer to his partner. Giving Fraser every opportunity to pull back, Ray slowly angled in for a kiss...


Part VII by Manna


"Ray," Fraser breathed, his right hand lifting suddenly, almost startling his partner, ending the kiss before it began, to touch Vecchio's cheek.

"I'm here, Benny. I'll always be here."

Benny smiled, even though it looked like it hurt a little. "I know that, Ray. I can't quite believe it sometimes, but I know it." His eyes went sad. "It's the best thing about my life now, knowing you're there."

Ray winced, hurting for his friend. "I know. I'm sorry."

Benny frowned at him slightly, tracing a line down to Ray's chin.

"I know you miss Canada and the ice and snow and all that," the detective explained.

But Fraser shook his head. "No. I mean, yes, I do miss it, but that's not why you're the best thing in my life."

"It's not?"

Benny shook his head again. "If I were still in Canada. If Diefenbaker and I were bringing in a notorious criminal. If I were given an assignment in the most remote and frozen wasteland." Benny's eyes twinkled with soft mischief. "You would still be the best thing about my life."

"Oh, God, Benny. Please let me kiss you."

Ray stopped breathing the second the words left him. He really hadn't meant to say that.

But it was all right. Benny shivered slightly under his hands - How had they made it all the way up to Fraser's shoulders? - and then sighed, very gently, before leaning in just a little bit, half an inch perhaps, and yet far enough. More than far enough.

Ray did all the rest, and it was only as his lips found softness and warmth that he let go of a fear he hadn't known he felt. The dreams weren't better. The dreams weren't close.

Benny had a taste. How strange that he'd never imagined that before. Like pure, sweet water, like that water had tasted in the river he and Benny had found after the plane crash: Evian champagne.

Hoping to heaven he wasn't slobbering, Ray pressed a little closer, wanting more, wanting to drink Benny in with long, deep swallows. Benny allowed this, but the lips beneath his did not part. That was all right. This was just a first kiss. Ray let himself pull back, planting a last, super-soft kiss just on Benny's bottom lip, before he settled back into his seat.

God, but Benny's eyes were so blue.

"Soft and warm as your kiss," Ray whispered.

Benny's brows raised up.

"Your eyes," Ray explained.

Fraser's breath caught and Ray felt the heat of his friend's blush, but right in the middle of it all the man smiled with his perfect lips.

"Being with an Italian is going to involve lots of sweet nothings, then, is it, Ray?"

And now, damnit, Ray felt his own face heating up, though his blushes weren't, thankfully, the kind that showed.

"Well, the women don't dig me for my low hairline, Fraser."

But it turned out not to be the best thing to say. Benny pulled back slightly, and Ray's hands were cold without those shoulders beneath them.

"What if this doesn't work, Ray?"

"Then we stay friends, Benny. That part doesn't change."

"Even though I annoy you sometimes?"

Ray smiled and let himself relax. Here they could always find themselves. The trick was only not to let fear make them stay here forever.

"Maybe especially because you annoy me sometimes, Benny."

Fraser was reaching for both the door handle and his hat. "I'll bear that in mind, Ray."

"Tomorrow night, Benny. Seven."

"I'll wear my best suit, Ray."

"The red one, Benny?" Ray was calling this out the door now, watching Dief's fluffy rear hop down to the street. "Not the red one, but the red one?"

"As you like, Ray." And Fraser closed the car door with an easy swing of his arm.

Ray laughed and watched Fraser go inside.


The next day passed, somehow. Ray did paperwork all through lunch and ignore Elaine's pointed stares. He spent the afternoon chasing down leads on an assault case and managed to get the perp booked before six.

At six-thirty he was staring at his closet. Unlike Benny, he had more than two choices for formal wear. He'd managed to get as far as a green silk shirt that matched his eyes, and now he was standing in that shirt and black briefs and nothing else in front of his closet, staring like an idiot at pants and jackets. He needed to get into the car. He needed to get Benny. He couldn't be late, for Pete's sakes.

*Just pick something! Anything, you moron!*

He could see Benny so clearly in his mind, as though he were standing in the room in his red suit, Stetson squarely on his dark-haired head, Mountie boots so shiny he could see right up Ray's pants leg to his black briefs.

Maybe he should go commando.

"Argh!" he shouted, reaching blindly into his closet and coming up with...the perfect thing: his gray "Detective Armani" outfit, the one he'd been wearing when they first met.

"You want sweet nothings, Benny?" he muttered, sliding into the pants. "Sweet nothings you're going to get."

He knocked on Benny's unlocked door at seven, exactly, and waited for Benny to be there in his uniform, exactly.

And waited.

Finally, his hand shaking just a bit, Ray knocked again. The door opened under the force of the knock, just slightly, and Ray peered through the crack.

Diefenbaker snuffled at his hands and seemed to draw him inside.

He found Benny sitting on the bed, dressed in his jodhpurs and boots, his suspenders over his snow-white, long-sleeved undershirt, his elbows on his knees, his eyes gazing at the floor.

Ray had to get some moisture into his mouth before he could speak, and the noise of his own swallowing seemed grotesque.


Benny's eyes were brilliant with brimming moisture when they looked up. He saw his friend recognize the suit, and then proceed to look even more miserable.

"Benny, what is it?"

"I can't do this, Ray."

"Then we won't." Vecchio dimly realized he didn't care what he promised. He had to get that look out of Benny's eyes. He spread his hands wide. "We won't do anything, I promise. We'll just go on, the way we always have. I told you, we're friends first, last and foremost."

"But you want me, sexually."

Ray felt his throat close up. This was somehow worse than the dream where Benny had carved him open with a hunting knife. "It's nothing I can't get rid of, Benny." He moved forward, propelled by desperation on lead feet. He knelt in front of Fraser so they were eye-to-eye. "Come on, put a sweater and we'll go get some Chinese, maybe catch a movie and pick up some girls."

Fraser didn't smile. "You could bring one of those girls home with you, Ray. You could introduce her to your mother as the girl you're going to marry."

Ray blinked. "Is that what this is -"

"You could kiss that girl on the street and no one would care. You could take her to dinner and hold her hand, check into a motel with her and brag about it the next day at the station. You could do whatever you liked with her in public and no other officer would turn his back on you and call you names because of what you'd done."

Ray got up off the floor, keeping his anger in a box somewhere in his chest. The box pressed on his lungs, though, and made his voice tight and hard.

"You mean you could do that, Benny. *You* could do whatever you wanted without messing up your life." He spread his hands again. "Hey, that's fine. If this is too much trouble for you...I mean, it's fine. I don't want you to be...you know. It's fine." He looked at the door. Dief stood in front of it and all but bared his pointy white teeth. Hey, he wasn't going anywhere, not until Benny was okay.

Benny was looking at him now from the bed, looking at the suit, at Ray's green shirt, at the socks he'd bought special to go with his shirt: dark gray with little green pinstripes.

"I saw you," Benny whispered.

"Saw me where?"

"I saw you hurt, surrounded by people who wanted to hurt you. Your family. Your friends. Your fellow officers. And it was all my fault."

"What are you *talking* about, Benny?"

"I saw you... in my mind."

Ray felt his patience about to end. "You mean you had some sort of vision? You had some weird sweat lodge vision and you want to end us before we even begin?"

"This all started with dreams, Ray."

"This all started because we're falling in love with each other!" Ray only barely managed to keep his voice down. "This all started because...damnit, Benny. Don't you see we're just perfect for each other? Kissing you last night - I've *never* had a kiss feel like that! Have you?"

Benny stared at him, eyes wide.

"Have you?" Ray insisted.


"Benny, you're right. My family *is* going to have a huge problem with this, and you're right, I'm *not* going to be broadcasting our relationship to the entire precinct, but we can work all that out, can't we? Aren't we worth it to you?"

"If something ever happened to you because of me, Ray -"

"Nothing is going to happen to me because of you, Benny! Except that I might die of frustration if you don't let me kiss you again!"


They both turned in alarm to the door. Mr. Mustafi stood there, looking at anything but them.

"There's a call...for Fraser."

"Thank you kindly, Mr. Mustafi," the Mountie said, very Mountie-like, as he stood and walked out the door.

Ray stayed in the center of the rooms, his hands thrust deep into his pockets, his heart refusing to beat normally.

Mr. Mustafi made a sort of chuckling sound. Ray glared at him, but the man bore it without flinching.

"Seems not so long ago I did this before," Mustafi said.

"Did what?"

"Came to tell him he had a phone call that turned out to be...he's such a good man, a good neighbor in a neighborhood where you don't find good neighbors. I don't like busting into his life like this. I didn't mean..." The man trailed off.

Ray tried to let it go with a duck of his head. "It wasn't anything."

"He was so sad."


"Before, when he was waiting for her call. He'd been crying, I could tell."

Ray felt sick. Victoria. It had to be.

"But then he was so excited, so anxious anyway, about the phone call. I was happy for him," Mustafi said next, so quietly Ray had to strain to hear it over his own impotent anger. "He seems so lonely here. It's not good, a man like that, to be all alone. But when I saw...later, when it was clear she'd been bad for him, it was hard to wish him another phone call."

Ray floundered. "It's nice of you, taking his calls like you do."

Mr. Mustafi looked slightly annoyed. "It's just his boss, that woman. I'm trying to tell you...I'm trying to say..."

Ray waited, trying to look nice.

"If you and Fraser work out. It would be a good thing."

Ray felt his jaw drop, literally. Like he was some sort of animated cartoon. Benny's neighbor just smiled at him.

"Well, you shot him that time, right?"

Ray nodded. The rest of his body felt frozen.

"What you gonna do to him worse than that? I figure, if Fraser can survive that from you, he can survive anything."

"It was an accident," Ray heard himself protest.

Mr. Mustafi shrugged.

"That was Inspector Thatcher, Ray." Benny walked back into the room and Mr. Mustafi smiled at him before taking his leave. "She wanted to remind me to pick up some blank invitations on the way to work. She was most concerned about them."

"I'll drive you."

"That would be very kind, Ray."

Ray took a breath, held it, released.

He had no idea where they went from here. He waited, made of nothing, for Benny to speak again.

"Will we be late for our reservations, Ray?"

He looked at his watch.

"Not if we hurry, Benny."

Fraser nodded, then crossed to his bed and picked up his tunic. He buttoned it up the front, then did up the belt and the lanyard, before placing his hat on his head, exactly.

"Then we'd better hurry, Ray."


Part VIII by Sandy


Although the restaurant wasn't far, the ride there was one of the longest Ray could remember, filled as it was with uneasy silence broken only occasionally by stilted conversation. Twice along the way Ray came close to turning the car around and calling the whole thing off. The second time, after yet another attempt at small talk had fallen flat, Ray got as far as turning towards Benny to tell him they were going home, only to find the Mountie already looking at him. Something in Benny's eyes kept Ray silent. There was a sadness and resignation there as if he knew exactly what Ray was going to say. There was also yearning that tore at Ray's heart. That's when he knew that Benny wanted this as much as he did, but that Ray would have to be the one to make it happen. So, instead of heading home, he kept the car pointed toward Tony's and reached for the Mountie's hand where it rested on the seat to give it a gentle squeeze. When he felt it turn over and interlace its fingers with his, Ray knew he had made the right decision.

Two minutes before their 7:30 reservation Ray pulled up in front of the restaurant. He stopped directly before the covered and carpeted entry. Ray turned and, for only the second time since leaving the apartment, looked directly at the Mountie.

"Benny, would you mind going in and getting our table? We're not late, but by the time I park and get back here, we probably will be and Tony's isn't the kinda place that takes excuses."

"It says, 'Valet Parking,' Ray."

The cop rolled his eyes. "Oh yeah, right. Frasier, how long have we known each other? Like I'm going to give some pimple-faced kid with a week-old driver's license and dreams of being the next Mario Andretti the keys to the Riv. I don't think so."

"Of course, Ray. I'll just meet you inside then."

"Great, I'll be back before you know it."

Fraser quickly climbed out, closed the door, and watched as Ray sped past a bewildered parking attendant. As soon as the Riv disappeared around the corner he turned and made his way into the restaurant's elegant foyer. After giving his name to the Maitre 'D, he was lead through an archway into to a large room lined with rich oak paneling. Tables were arranged throughout the middle of the room and along each wall booths were set, but unlike most establishments that Fraser was familiar with, these booths were not butted directly against one another but were spaced a few feet apart. They were semicircular in shape, almost three quarters around, and separated by hanging plants so that they formed a very intimate space and would give an illusion of privacy to their occupants. It was to one of these that Fraser was led and left with the reassurance that a server would be with him momentarily.

Ben slid into the booth and dropped his hat on the seat next to him. Having accomplished his mission of securing a table, the nervousness that had plagued him during the ride to restaurant began to grow again. Absolutely refusing to display such un-Mountie-like behavior such as fidgeting, he tucked his hands in his lap to keep from fingering the napkin fan on the table in front of him.

"Good evening, sir."

Fraser jumped slightly as the waitress' voice took him by surprise. He silently chastised himself for not noticing her approach. He looked up at the smiling woman and couldn't help noticing how her smile widened as he returned her smile. He felt the familiar unease as he saw soft shine of her eyes turn into a predatory glint.

"My name is Candy, and I'll be your server tonight."

She handed him a large, multi-paged menu and placed another on the table across from him on the table. She bent closer and said, "Could I help you in making a selection? We have some wonderful choices."

Something in her voice made Fraser uncomfortably aware that all of his choices were not necessarily on the menu.

Fraser cleared his throat. "Thank you kindly," he said as he glanced at the empty seat across from him, "but I think it would be more appropriate to wait for my dinner companion to arrive before ordering."

"Oh, excuse me. Of course, you are expecting someone. Could I get you a drink while you wait?" she asked, bending closer. "Aperitif? Anything? Anything at all?" She punctuated the offer with a wink.

Fraser's smile faltered as he fought the urge to slide further back into the booth.

"Uh... I... uh... I'm... . yes... er... no... I mean..." Fraser coughed and tried again, setting his menu down on the table. "No, thank you, I'd really rather wait..."

The young woman glanced at the empty seat. Undeterred, she continued. "Waiting for your wife?"

"No, his husband, actually."

Startled, the young woman turned at the sound of a voice close behind her. Smiling sweetly at her obvious discomfort, Ray stepped between her and Fraser and slid smoothly into the booth beside the Mountie, nudging him further into the booth with his hip. Ray's eyes met hers in obvious challenge. "You got a problem with that?"

Crestfallen, the woman straightened even further as she looked from Ray to Fraser and back again before answering. "Oh, no. Not at all. Would you care for a drink while you look over the menu?"

Ray inwardly laughed at how quickly she had changed from sultry seductress to bored waitress. His eyes never leaving her face he said, "Yeah, I'll have a coffee. And my friend here will have some tea. Chamomile, if you have it."

"Of course," she nodded. "I'll be back with that in a moment." Ray watched as the woman turned and walked quickly away.

Ray studiously avoided looking at the man beside him and instead scanned the crowded restaurant. "Tony's is a nice place, don't you think?"

When this opening gambit was met with resounding silence, he chanced a glance to his right.

Benny sat motionless, arms crossed, lips pursed, eyes glaring. Ray quickly looked away, reached for the menu across the table and began leafing through it. A slight movement to his right made him peek up from the list of delicacies. He watched through his lashes as Benny scooted around to the far side of the table, still glaring.

Ray pretended to read the menu about ten more seconds before he brought his head up and looked Benny square in the face.


Benny crossed his arms, cocked his head slightly, and maintained his stony silence.

"What?" he tried again.

Nothing. Not so much as a twitch.

Ray put his menu down and sighed. "Okay, so it was a stupid thing to say. I'm sorry, all right? It's just that I hate it when women do that to you. Treating you that way, like you're a piece of meat or something. Isn't that what they're always bitching about? Being treated as sex objects? But let a good looking guy walk in and they start acting like they're in the first row at a Chippendale's show."

"You were rude, Ray. And, believe it or not, I am perfectly able to order for myself."

"Well, it didn't look like that from where I was standing. Anyway, did you look at the menu? Do you know what you'd like to order?"

"I'm not very hungry."

"Aw, geez, I said I was sorry. I was out of line, OK? Can we just move on?"

Benny turned his head and let his gaze drift around the restaurant, as if searching for something to say. Before he could find it, the waitress appeared.

As she set their drinks in front of them, she asked, "Are you gentlemen ready to order?"

"Not quite yet, thank you," Benny replied before Ray had a chance to answer. "Would you be so kind as to give us a few more minutes?"

"Certainly," she said and left them alone once again.

As Benny picked up his menu Ray reached for his own, but before Ray could pick it up Benny sighed and put his down again. Ray crossed his arms on the table and leaned forward. "What is it, Benny? You got something to say? Let's hear it."

Benny brought his thumb to his left eyebrow and rubbed across it a few times. With a deep breath he gathered his courage and looked deeply into the expectant, green eyes.

"I don't know if this is right for us, Ray."

Ray looked down at the table and rubbed his hands over his head. After a moment he dropped his hands, resigned, and met Benny's gaze again.

"Okay, Benny. I told you before, if you don't want to do this, we won't. We'll go back to the way it was. I'll pick you every morning and I'll take you home every night. You'll help me out on my cases and ruin my suits and invite me up for coffee at the end of the day. I'll bitch at you about tasting things and you'll tell me something your father said and round it all off with an Inuit story. Just like always. But I'll still want you. Every minute of every day. This thing that's going on between us, what I got inside of me for you -- I gotta tell you, Benny...it's got a real permanent feel to it. It's not just going to go away because it ain't convenient or because we didn't plan on it happening. It's real and it's here and we gotta deal with it. But if you don't want to, we won't. We'll play this your way. I'll be whatever you need me to be. If it's your best friend and only your best friend, then that's what I'll be. But before you decide, I need to find out something. Can I ask you a question?"

"You can ask me anything, Ray."

"Anything? Well, look out 'cause I just might hold you to that. But for right now, I'll settle for asking just this. What are you so afraid of? And don't give me any bullshit about not being able to kiss me in front of God and everybody. Or about my family or how my job will be affected. Those are my concerns, Benny, and I will deal with them if and when it becomes necessary. I want to know what it is about this situation that scares you so badly. And by the way, if you think you're the only one who's scared, you've got some rethinking to do."

Startled, Benny asked, "You're afraid, Ray?"

Ray leaned back and gave a humorless laugh. "Oh, Benny, there's nothing about what's going on between us that doesn't scare the shit out of me. Not just things like my job or my family, no, I got more than that to worry about. Do you want to know what's number one on my hit parade of fear?" Ray paused and drew a deep breath. " Or should I say, who?"

Benny stiffened and looked away.

"Yeah, her. She's still alive, Benny. She's still out there someplace. How do I know she won't come flying back on her broom one day, scoop you up and leave me standing here with a stupid look on my face, huh?"

"That won't happen."

"It already did."


Dream Ray jumped up from his cloud in exasperation, causing small white puffs to scatter in all directions. "That's it! It's hopeless. Pack the Bermuda shorts and sunblock two million 'cause these guys won't get it together by the end of the decade, let alone by the end of the week. Of all the mortals we could have been alter-egos for, why did we have to get the sexually impaired?!"

Evil Benny leaned back on his own bit of cloud and smirked at his lover. "Don't look at me. My guy is doing his best. If he had his way, he would have had the Mountie in bed six months ago."

"Oh, sure, you get the easy one. He's Italian, for the goddess' sake! It takes longer to turn on a faucet. Just try working with a Canadian sometime. The man makes Mother Theresa look like Dr. Ruth!"

"Well, my friend, I suggest you come up with the wet dream to end all wet dreams, one hot enough to melt his frozen libido because if they aren't doing the nasty by this time on Friday, you and I are heading due south. And I don't mean Chicago."


Part IX by Vicki


The Illustrious Illusion combed his ethereal hair nervously. Why had she summoned him once more? What could she possibly know? She seemed to have eyes everywhere...well she *did* have eyes everywhere, but that was besides the point...couldn't she over look things once in a while? He took a deep breath (not that he needed to breathe but on occasions like this he somehow felt reassured by the rise and fall of his chest) and walked into the room through the small silver colored double doors.

Eflactem tapped her foot on the ground as she watched the Illustrious Illusion walk towards her. She was getting inpatient.

"My Lady," he said as he knelt to kiss her hand, but she pulled away from him.

"Don't give me that 'My Lady' crap...what have they done this time? You promised me that it was going to plan."

"Well, my Lady, it was...then Real Benny backed out."

"Backed out? What do you mean 'backed out?'"

"Well, Ma'am, they kissed, and then Benny got cold feet and ran away."

"He *ran* away?"

The Illustrious One shuffled in his vaporous shoes. "Ummmm yes."

"Like, literally?"

The Illusion ran the scene in his head. He watched as Benny placed down his napkin, climbed to his feet and ran through the restaurant and down the street in the direction of his apartment. He watched as Benny climbed the stairs and collapsed in floods of tears on his narrow cot. He watched as Diefenbaker licked his face dry and as Benny picked up the book off the small table and began to read.

"Are you listening to me?" The Lady's words snapped him back into the dream world.

"Ummm. Sorry, I was just thinking."

"You're not paid to think!" Eflactem snapped back

*I'm not paid at all,* thought the Illustrious One before continuing. "No, Ma 'am."

"Now have you given that Dream Ray his instructions?"

"Yes, Ma'am."

"And will he carry them out to my satisfaction?"

"Yes, Ma'am."

"Because you know that if they go down there...you go down there too...Do you understand that?"

"All too clearly, Ma'am."

"Good. Then you are dismissed."


Ray sat on the corner of his bed and wondered. He wondered how long it would be before he would get to kiss the Mountie again. He was sure that it would happen. He had seen, he had felt the mutual attraction when he kissed him the first time. He was determined that the first would not be the last kiss or even the penultimate one. What he needed was a plan...a courting agenda. *Slowly, slowly,* he repeated to himself as he planned out the seduction.

He planned out the whole thing. It must be intricate in its detail. Like him. It must be perfect in its preparation. Like him. It must be tasteful. Like him. Everything must be considered and then acted upon. For once in Detective First Grade Raymond Vecchio's life, fucking it up was not an option.


Dream Ray was nervous. He'd failed too many times -- he'd had too many last chances; a few more and he might run out. The thought of the other place and Mary Sue or Nemesis or whatever she called herself this week was just too awful to comprehend. The only thing now was to try romance. It wasn't the modern way, but then the modern way had failed too many times. So Dream Ray had fished about in the Lascivious Library and come up with a few more traditional methods to get your lover into bed. That was what the brief was. He looked at the cold box in his hand that contained one beautiful, yet too feminine wrist Corsage. As he walked down the street he spotted a bag lady and handed the small arrangement of Orchids to her. She smiled slightly at the well-dressed Italian apparition before stuffing the flowers into her mouth. They tasted vaguely strange but it made a change from McDonalds left-overs...who was she to look a gift horse in the mouth?

Dream Ray climbed the steps that led towards Benny's building -- just as Real Ray climbed out of the Riv, parked illegally fifty yards from the same building.


Ray reached across to the car to the passenger seat and grabbed the bottles of wine. His plan was simple: get the Mountie drunk. He wasn't quite sure how he was going to do this but he felt it was the only way. Dizzy and Delightful...yeah that sounded good. The fact that the Mountie never drank alcohol was a mere blot on the landscape.

Ray scanned the labels. He'd bought two bottles: one white, one red. He preferred red, but then, Benny might prefer white.

He leaped out of the car and over the hood and as he jogged down the street, one bottle in each hand and he thought of all the fun they could have together if they ever *got* together.


Ray climbed the stairs in Benny's apartment block. As he turned the corner he saw someone standing at Ben's door. He looked familiar. Very familiar.

"Excuse me!" Ray shouted at the person

Dream Ray spun round to see Real Ray standing there...

*Oh shit -- this is going to get complicated* thought Dream Ray as he tried to fade into the background. But Real Ray seemed to be able to see him -- this was highly irregular. The Real people should only be able to see the Dream people when and if the Dreamlanders wanted them too. No something was quite wrong. When they did meet and it happened occasionally...it was usually very, *very* embarrassing.


Eflactem looked into the glass screen as she watched the events unfold. It wasn't often she played this game and when she did she liked to hold all the cards. The cards themselves lay on a small table to her left. She pulled one off the pile and smiled as she lay it face up on the table. 'The Mirror"...symbol of reflection.

She picked up the dice and rolled. A double xix. Once again she allowed herself a broad smile as she turned back to the screen.


Real Ray stared at the apparition in front of him. He reached out a hand and touched it on the shoulder. Yes it was quite real. It was quite...well...him.

"What the..?" For once, Ray was stuck for words.

"Yeah, yeah. Chill, will ya? So I'm the dream you...no need to blow a gasket."

"But you're real."

"Nah, I'm a figment...always have been," Dream Ray replied in all honesty. "It's not a bad job, really, and you know somebody has to do it, don't they?"

Real Ray was confused, but then meeting yourself is enough to confuse anybody. So he shrugged it off and continued with an alternative form of questioning. "So why...I mean what are you doing here?"

"Trying to save your butt, and mine, come to think of it. I mean, that Mountie' s a hard nut to crack, ain't he? And if I don't get you two together I end up...well...you don't want to know where I'll end up, but I assure you it won't be a pleasant experience. I wish The Lady would stop playing games with us all. I mean, you'd think if she wanted you two together she'd make it easy, but no...never could do that could she...she has to play her stupid games."

"Who's Lady?"

"That's *the* Lady. Well, she's kinda my boss, really...and you don't mess with her. She holds all the cards."

"So what you're telling me is that 'The Lady' is pissing about with my and Benny's life?"

"Yeah, yours and Benny's and mine and Evil Benny's. Ya see, that'd be OK if she didn't keep changing the rules."

"So all this is just a game to her?"

"Yeah it's a game...and not a very fair one at that."

"So can we win?"

"I don't know...never considered the possibility before...but perhaps if we work together, just maybe it'll work out to everyone's advantage."

"What did you have in mind?" Real Ray asked.

Dream Ray grabbed the bottle of red wine from Real Ray and said, "I don't know, but I'm sure one or two glasses of this may help us come up with something. You in?"

Real Ray nodded and followed Dream Ray back down the stairs... .


Eflactem shrugged. She'd never seen the Dreams work with the Reals before. She liked the novelty of the turn of events. For once she settled back to watch without considering interfering. She was intrigued to see how this would pan out.


Part X -- by Birgitt


Evil Benny was bored to death. Well, he knew Dream Ray had to do his job. And he had to be good at that, too. But he already looked forward to the time when their task was accomplished and he and his lover could see to their own needs. Not that he wanted to complain about his work. After all, it was...interesting, to say the least. But then there were times he would wish for more privacy with his lover. At any time his boss, The Lady, could burst in and give them another assignment. Most of those were the usual romance stuff -- blue-eyed boy meets brown-eyed girl.

Their current task was much more complicated. And somehow Evil Benny loved the tension in it. It was obvious that Benny and Ray belonged together. All the same, there was a great danger that they would fail in getting them together. The interference from the other side...Well, the Lady had been pissed about it. Evil Benny wouldn't have dared to tell her this, but he thought that Nemesis had had the right to meddle with things. The Lady herself had thrown the gauntlet first. On the other hand, Benny and Ray would be a gorgeous pair and he was determined to do anything in his powers to make them happy.

Still, he was bored. He turned and tossed on his cloud, sighing repeatedly. Dream Ray should have been done by now. Evil Benny cursed under his breath. He hated the waiting...Damn. Why didn't he think of it in the first place? While Dream Ray was with Benny he could easily be with Ray. Not that this was as good as being together with Dream Ray, but, after all, Ray was the man who had inspired the current image of his lover. And the next second Evil Benny stood on the front porch of the Vecchio house.

He looked up at the window of Ray's room. The lights were turned on and Evil Benny smiled in anticipation. Ray's imagination was so vivid that his dreams felt almost...real. Evil Benny concentrated shortly and stood in the middle of the room. Immediately he knew there was something wrong here. Terribly wrong.

"Hi, Benny. Ray, may I introduce you to Evil Benny. Oh, I'm sorry, you already know him, don't you?" Dream Ray grinned at his lover, full of mischief. "Don't look so shocked, love. We are playing by new rules. Honestly, I am not even sure if we are playing by any rules at all."

"This is impossible. We can only communicate with them via their dreams. But he," he nodded in Ray's direction, "isn't dreaming. Not even daydreaming. I think I have to use the bathroom." Indeed he felt a little peculiar in his stomach. Confused, he shook his head. "No, this is not possible. I think I must be..." He broke off, staring at the two men sitting at a small table, a bottle between them. Both held a glass of red wine in their hands.

"Dreaming?" Ray came to his help. "Join the club, Benny. Serves the two of you right to be stuck in this mad little game. After all that you did to Benny and me in our dreams. Couldn't you've done this a little more...decently? No wonder Benny, real Benny, I mean, is scared to death by now."

Dream Ray jumped up and glared at his counterpart. "I already told ya it wasn't our fault. We only did our job!" he yelled at the detective.

Ray followed the example of his apparition and stood. "Geez, just admit you two screwed up. And me and Benny have to deal with the consequences now. Why didn't you leave us alone in the first place? We would have probably worked it out together." Evil Benny had to suppress a grin at the similarity of those two.

"Hah, you must be joking. You and that Mountie had so many opportunities. Remember your first case, the murder of Benny's father? So much potential for hurt/comfort. You even followed him into the wilderness. You should have fucked him then and there and that would have been the end of it, for us I mean, not for you two, of course. And have you forgotten about the time Benny had been beaten up by that Zuko guy? It should have been you and not your sister looking after him..."

Ray snapped. "Nothing happened between Benny and Frannie, absolutely nothing."

Dream Ray gave him a smile, a smile that made Evil Benny proud. "How do you know that? Whatever...Then just think of Victoria."

"Leave her out of it. Benny was not himself then."

"And neither were you!" Dream Ray threw down the glass he still had been holding in his hand.

Evil Benny knew he had to step in before the two Rays were at each other's throats. "Stop that now! Fighting doesn't help us. We just have to accept that we can't do this by the book anymore. We need a plan." Both Rays stared at him, still fuming with rage. "You know I am right. Behave yourselves for a while."

Ray muttered. "Look who's talking. Does your Ray know what you did to my Benny in his dreams?"

Evil Benny just glared at him. "Now, why don't you pour us all another glass of that stuff and we start from scratch?" The Rays nodded, but not very enthusiastically. All the way back from Benny's apartment they had discussed the matter, with no great success. This whole thing was a mess. It was hard not to get confused by all the apparitions, dreams and fantasies. "Okay, any suggestions?" As the two men let their heads hang over their new-filled glasses, Evil Benny sighed. Rays. If their brains would only work as well as their mouths.


Nemesis nearly danced as she witnessed the scene in the Vecchio house. Better and better. Rules had been abandoned by now. That was the way she loved it most. The Lady had made a big mistake by allowing the situation to get out of hand like this. Nemesis was tempted to step in once more herself but she decided against it. Although she loved shape-shifting, she didn't want to endanger the game. Now that the Bennys and Rays were able to team up it was too dangerous...She might even get caught in the real world. Nemesis shuddered at the image. It had happened before on a similar occasion where reality and dreams had clashed. It had taken her fifty-three years, three months and fourteen days to return to her kingdom. She had lost much ground to the Lady in those days and she didn't want to repeat the experience. She still had nightmares about it. Suppressing another shudder, she returned her attention to Evil Benny and his two Rays.


"Ray, you said you were about to visit Benny when you met my Ray, right?" The detective nodded. Evil Benny continued, "And what had been your plan?"

"I wanted to get the Mountie drunk." Ray studied his long fingers intently. He was sure now that it had been a dumb idea in the first place. Even if it had worked...he would have hated himself afterwards.

"Ray, Ray, Ray..." Evil Benny's voice oozed with reproach.

Ray's head jerked up. "Stop that, will ya?" His voice had taken on a hard edge.

"Sorry, I can't help it. I am him." Evil Benny met Ray's angry stare.

The detective sighed. "I know. I know all too well." He stood and started pacing the room. "Geeze, guys, why is this so complicated? I do love him and I know he loves me too. Why can't I just go to him, tell him that I love him, make love to him, and then be happy with him for the rest of our lives?"

Dream Ray snorted. "That would be only possible in a dream."

The three men stared at each other in stunned silence. Could it be that simple? Ray was the first to find his voice. "Exactly, in a dream. Ray, you're a genius. No wonder that I'm your role model."

Dream Ray grinned at the detective. "No, I'm your role model. Get real, Ray!"

"I already am, Ray!"


Part XI by Courser


Their plan required just a little bit of coordination. Real Ray was met in the Riv by the two apparitions. He was afraid that the sight of them trooping through the house would be just too much. Already Frannie wanted to know just who the hell he'd been talking to.

They all felt quite fortunate that Real Benny kept such early hours. Otherwise, they'd have been waiting half the night to put their plan into action. On the street around the corner from Fraser's apartment, Ray shut off the engine, but when he turned to speak to his counterpart, he found him already missing.

"What the hell? Where'd he go?" he demanded of Evil Benny, suddenly reminded of just how sexy this alter-ego was.

"Benny's asleep, and, if I'm not mistaken, already experiencing troubling dreams. It's up to my lover now to turn them around," the shade answered, his own plans forming in his mind's eye.

Why should Dream Ray have all the fun? His partner was likely to be occupied filling the Real Benny's minds with all sorts of lascivious visions. Didn't he deserve some fun too?

"Ray, why don't you park over there?" He pointed out the entrance to a dark alley.

"Why? Why should I? God knows what's in there," Ray protested.

"It doesn't matter what's in there, we won't be getting out. Just park over there and lock the doors," Evil Benny insisted.

Ray hesitated, then started the Riv and did as he was told.

"Now what?" He had that pouty, petulant look that Evil Benny found so appealing in his lover.

"Now, just lean back and relax. Close your eyes. Everything will be fine, you'll see."

He was soon rewarded with even, sighing breaths from Ray.


Ben had retired with a heavy heart. Normally sleep would be difficult, but he was so drained from his mental gymnastics that sleep quickly claimed him, not to mention some subtle intervention from Dream Ray.

Ben heard a knock at his door. In his dream, he rose from his bed to answer it. What was on the other side twisted his heart. Ray, his dearest friend, was dressed in one of his nicest suits, a crimson pocket square matching the perfectly tie knotted at the base of his slender throat. How much temptation was he supposed to resist? Ben wanted to take him into his arms, kiss that beautiful mouth, see his eyes grow dark with desire.

"Hey Benny, what's the matter? Cat got your tongue?" Dream Ray said as he brushed past Ben, entering the meager apartment.

"Ray? What are you doing here? I thought..." Ben looked down at himself, still clad only in his red longjohns.

"That's your problem, Benny, you think too much, you know that?" Dream Ray sauntered around the apartment, taking inventory any the items that might prove useful.

"I'm sorry. I'm afraid..." Ben started again, only to be cut off by Ray again.

"C'mere, sit down." Dream Ray indicated a chair at the ancient dinette.

At Ben's hesitation, he added, "C'mon, I won't bite...hard," he finished with a sexy smile.

Ben had started to comply, then stopped at Dream Ray's teasing, looking distinctly ill.

"Humor me, okay?" He decided that pleading might help. Geeze, the guy was spooked.

Ben nodded his head and sat down in the indicated chair. Looked at his knees encased in the red wool as if they were the most fascinating things he'd ever seen. Dream Ray took advantage of his inattention to step behind him and handcuff his hands together behind the chair.

Ben's head shot up, abject fear rimming his eyes, "No! Ray, please."

"Benny, I'm not going to hurt you, I promise. I just can't have you takin' off on me, okay?" Dream Ray turned another chair around and straddled it, facing him.

Ben nodded his head again, still wouldn't look at his friend, but seemed to find his voice.

"Ray, you don't need to do this. I'm sorry if I, well, upset, you. Let's just..."

"Benny, shut up. Just stop talkin' because you're not sayin' anything I want to hear," Ray began. "Okay, better. Now, you're, uh, interested in me, right?"

Ben just sat there looking miserable.

"Right? Well?"

"You told me to shut up, Ray. I'm merely complying with your wishes." From anyone else it would sound petulant, but Fraser was merely stating a fact.

Ray got up and shoved his chair away, stepped towards Ben, squatted and touched his fingers to his face.

"Right?" he asked more softly this time.

"Yes." His answer was quiet, defeated.

"So what's the problem, huh? I thought things were going good," Ray said as he stood, then straddled Ben in the same way he'd straddled the chair, settling his ass on Ben's thighs.

Ray stroked Ben's face and buried his fingers in his hair, "This all right?"

Ben finally met his eyes, "Yes, Ray."

Dream Ray traced Ben's lips with an index finger, "And this?"

"Uh, huh." Ben's eyes reflected abject need and desperation

Dream Ray slowly pushed his finger into Ben's mouth, rubbed the pad across the lower incisors. Unconsciously, Ben touched it with the tip of his tongue, tasted the salty skin. Ray. It was Ray's scent he was tasting. Ben turned his head away, dislodging the intrusion.

"Ray, why are you doing this?" His voice was quiet and strangled.

"Because I care about you, Benny. I always have." Dream Ray caught Ben's head between his hands, turned it so he could look into Ben's eyes. "I just didn't know how to show it." His thumbs brushed over Ben's cheekbones, caught a tear falling from the outer corner of one eye, "Now, I do."

Dream Ray lowered his head and brushed Ben's lips with his own, the touch so soft it was almost imperceptible.

"You want this; I know you do," he whispered, his tongue following the same path, ever so gently.

He leaned over to whisper in Ben's ear, "Am I wrong?"

Ben took a long, shuddering breath. "No."

"I didn't think so," Dream Ray moaned, his tongue flicking over Ben's ear, then taking the lobe between his teeth, sucking on it.

Ben whimpered and Ray felt Ben's cock pulse under him.

"Oh, yeah, you like that, don'cha, Benny?" Dream Ray moved to Ben's mouth, claimed it in a searing kiss.

Ben's mouth softened under his, lips parting, allowing Ray to enter that hot, wet space, Ben's tongue slick against his own. Dream Ray moaned. This Ben was just as sweet, just as enticing as his own. Soon, Ben was returning his kisses, sucking on his tongue before starting his own exploration of Ray's mouth. All too soon, Ray pulled away, began unbuttoning the long underwear, slowly, laving every inch of exposed skin with his eager tongue. Ben panted and groaned when Dream Ray scraped his teeth over each hard nipple.

"Dear God, Ray, please," Ben whispered.

"What do ya want, Benny?" Dream Ray answered, his voice muffled against Ben's chest.

"Please, Ray...touch me," his voice was tight, arousal making it hard for him to form words.

Ray touched him, stroked the palm of his hand over the hard length of Ben's cock through the stretched fabric.

Ben's breath hitched in his chest, the sensation almost beyond bearing. Dream Ray moved back, unfastened the rest of the buttons. To his surprise, Ben wore nothing beneath the longjohns. His penis sprang free, the head glistening and wet.

"Oh, sweet Jesus, Benny, you're so beautiful." Dream Ray knelt on the floor between Ben's thighs, wrapped his hand around the thick shaft, felt Ben's pulse pounding against his palm.

As much as he wanted to take it into his mouth, he knew he wouldn't stop until he felt the hot jet of Ben's come hitting the back of his throat. And that couldn't happen. Not yet and not with him. This was meant for the real Ray.

Instead he satisfied himself with the sight and smell of Ben filling his nostrils. That warm musky odor as he milked precum from his cock by working the foreskin over the head, gently squeezing it between his fingers.

"That feel good, Benny?" Dream Ray asked as he indulged himself by licking a large drop of fluid from the engorged glans.

"Ahhh! God! Ray!" Ben shouted, his hips rising from the chair.

Dream Ray smiled. The plan was just about complete.


Evil Benny smiled. This was the easiest job he'd ever had. Knowing Ray as he did, it was quite simple to construct a fantasy that would spur him to action.

At first he simply channeled Dream Ray's seduction to Real Ray, smiling in his light slumber. But when Dream Ray began unbuttoning Ben's longjohns, Evil Benny took over.

His bonds magically disappeared. After all, it was a dream, wasn't it? Evil Benny rose from the chair, cradled Ray's head in his large callused hand and lowered his mouth to Ray's. Plundered his mouth, pushing his tongue past Ray's lips and teeth to learn its secrets. Ray tasted like coffee and, uh, chocolate and something indefinable. Surprised, Ray didn't respond immediately, simply enjoyed the fact that Benny was kissing him.

Evil Benny's hands went to his throat, unknotted the tie, opened his shirt. He brought his mouth to Ray's neck, pressed his teeth to the pulse point, then soothed it with his tongue. Ray moaned deep in his throat, almost a growl, as he buried his fingers in Evil Benny's hair.

"Oh, Ray, I've waited so very long for this," he breathed into his ear, the warm caress made Ray break out into a fine sweat, his cock stiffened.

"God, Benny, this feels so good," Ray gasped as Ben stripped off his suit coat, let it drop carelessly to the floor.

"Watch it, that's Armani!" Ray protested teasingly.

"If you'll excuse me, the hell with Armani," Evil Ben growled, tugging Ray's shirt from his trousers and over his head, cuff buttons popping off, skittering across the floor.

The two men now stood face to face, bare chests pressed against each other. Ray pulled Evil Benny into another kiss and pressed their groins together in a delicious slide.

Real Ray was now ready as well. Now all that was left to be done is put the two together and let nature take its course.


Ray came awake in the driver's seat of the Riv. He put his hands to his chest, relieved that he was still clothed. There was a sweet ache in his balls and his cock was hard enough to pound nails. He looked over, and Evil Benny was still sitting in the passenger seat, a cocky smile on his face.

"Time for you to go get your man, Ray," the dream Mountie suggested.

Ray just sat there for a moment, turned to go, then stopped and addressed Evil Benny.

"Uh, thanks. For everything. Geeze, I hope this works out." He held out his hand and Evil Benny took it.

"It'd better or we'll all be in deep shit." Evil Benny warned.

"I can't believe you said that."


"'Shit.' You never talk like that," Ray explained.

"Just because he doesn't say it, doesn't mean he doesn't think it. Quite a bit goes on in that head of his. You'd be surprised," Evil Benny said.


"Really. Now you'd better get going before my lover gets carried away." It sounded like an order.

"Okay. Thanks again," Ray told him as he got out of the car.

After he'd walked a few steps, Ray turned. The passenger seat was empty.

Ray's cock throbbed with every step, every stair towards Ben's apartment. Before he knew it, he stood in front of Fraser's door. He took a deep breath and knocked, spent a moment wondering what he'd find on the other side, then knocked again.

"Benny, come on, open up." Ray heard a soft exclamation from the apartment

Ben's eye's popped open. He'd been having the most erotic dream of his life and his penis was so engorged it was almost painful. As he sat up, he realized that his long underwear was unbuttoned to his waist.

"Oh dear."

He stood up and put things to rights as best he could, pulling at the crotch of the longjohns. The pounding at his door resumed and he heard Ray demand to let him in. He considered not answering the door, but knew Ray would just come in anyway. With a strong sense of deja vu, he finally answered it, peeking around the edge to hide his lower body.

"Ray, it's late..." Ben began.

"I know, Benny, but we gotta deal with this tonight. Right now," Ray insisted, and walked in.

Ben closed the door, but didn't turn around. He tried thinking of the tundra in hopes his erection would subside.

"Benny, I know this is hard. Believe me, I know..." he turned and realized that Ben still had his back to him.

"What are you doin'? Come on, look at me."

For a moment Ben said nothing, his nervousness writ across his tense shoulders and back. Ray's eyes rested on his tight ass and felt his cock pulse. Christ, the man was a work of art, miserable as he looked.

"I, I can't Ray. Not just now, please," Ben answered quietly, sounding ashamed.

Ray considered his own condition and suddenly understood. That had been the plan, after all. Get them, Ben particularly, spectacularly aroused and then put them together. Well, it had sounded good at the time. It was going to be up to him to get the ball rolling. Ray stepped behind Ben, facing the door.

"Ok, I understand." Ray put his hands on Ben's shoulders, hard as iron with anxiety.

"Do you, Ray?" Ben said suddenly, knowing he'd either have to admit his obsession or combust on the spot.

"Yeah, Benny, I think I do. You want something you think you can't have. And you want it so bad that it's easier to ignore it than to find out it's impossible. But you'll never know unless you try." Ray's voice, soft in his ear, warm breath blowing over it with each utterance, sent a fresh rush through Ben's veins

But still he was unsure. The front of his long underwear was damp with precum. He could feel the moisture cooling against his heated flesh. Ray's voice had released even more of the fluid and he struggled to resist the urge to press his hand against the hard length and his balls felt heavy and hot.

"Turn around, Benny. It'll be okay, I promise," Ray pleaded.

Ben turned around, his head hanging low, looking for all the world like a little boy, full of shame. Ray caught his breath, filled with affection for the man standing before him. Ray put his hand on Ben's cheek, encouraged him to look at him.

"I love you, Benny. I always have and I always will. No matter what," Ray confessed.

Ben's eyes took on an almost otherworldly glow.

"And I love you, Ray. I was afraid..."

"I know. I was afraid too. But, Jesus, Benny, how could I not love you?"

Ray looked down. Saw Ben's cock outlined in sharp relief against the taut wool and the dark spot marring the front. Without speaking, he reached out and caressed the rigid flesh, felt it twitch under his hand. Unable to control his passions, he used his free hand to pull Ben's head nearer and kissed him roughly. He'd imagined himself as gentle, but he wanted this too much. Ben didn't seem to mind and took Ray's head in both his hands, using his teeth on Ray's lips and neck. It was almost more than Ray could take and he dragged Ben over to the bed, pushed him down and opened up the front of the longjohns.

"Oh, Benny, I knew you'd be beautiful, but this...this. . Christ," Ray gazed at Ben's cock, thick and uncut.

"Ray, please, I need you," Ben moaned at Ray's touch.

Ray slipped the foreskin around the head and Ben whimpered loudly, pushing himself deeper into Ray's hand. Ray understood his urgency, felt it himself, and straddled Ben's thighs, put both hands on Ben's cock, squeezed the base and was rewarded with a low moan. He moved his hand lower and rolled the testicles over his fingers, using long, firm strokes from the base to the head. Ben's hips began an undulating rhythm under him.

"Ohh, yes, God, yeah, that's right, oh Ray," Ben sighed incoherently as Ray added a little twist of the foreskin on each upstroke.

Ray was hungry for Ben's orgasm to take him and quickened his strokes. There would be time in the future for lengthy lovemaking. Ben began chanting his name on each breath, and Ray thought it was the most beautiful sound he'd ever heard.

"Come on, Benny, let go. Let it go," Ray implored him, his own cock throbbing in harmony with Ben's

Ray delivered several hard, quick strokes and Ben was coming, gloriously, his semen arcing through the air in long streams, his voice rough and loud as Ray milked the last bit of cum from him. Ben came back to earth slowly, his eyes eventually settling on Ray.

Ray stood and shed his clothes quickly, adding them to jacket and shirt on the floor. He stretched out next to Ben, who'd stripped off his longjohns and used them to clean up, before tossing them aside as well. Ray's long slender organ pressed insistently against Ben's hip and he reached for it.

"God, Benny, yes..."Ray moaned as Ben gave it a squeeze.

Ben sat up, then pulled Ray out of the bed.

"Hey, what're ya doing?" he protested, but Ben didn't reply.

He sat in the dining chair, then pulled Ray into his lap facing him. Ray's hot balls hung over his own penis and his testicles rested on the seat. Ray held on to Ben's shoulders as Ben took his cock in a firm grip. Ben used his fingers to spread precum over the head, then brought his fingers to his mouth to taste his lover's essence.

"Oh, Ray, you taste so good," Ben growled as he began jacking Ray's cock.

He needed Ray's release desperately and used a long squeezing stroke to achieve that goal. Ray's fingers dug into his shoulders and his calves entwined with Ben's, trying desperately to gain some leverage to push his cock deeper into Ben's hands. Ben was fascinated with the way Ray's cockhead swelled and darkened with each stroke, fluid steadily leaking from the tiny slit and coating his fingers. He was so fascinated, in fact, he almost forgot to look at Ray's face, his head thrown back as his chest heaved with each breath.

"Benny, fuck, God, I'm gonna come, oh god, please, I need..." Ray's words stopped abruptly as Ben quickened the pace.

Ray's body arched violently, fingernails digging into Ben's shoulders as the first drops of cum erupted from Ray's cock. The drops were followed by hard spurts that splattered across Ben's chest, searing him with their heat. Ray's cry was shrill and joined with Ben's quieter exclamation of joy at giving Ray this pleasure. When Ray was finally released from the grip of his climax, he pitched forward, draping himself over Ben's chest and shoulders. As he became aware of his surroundings again, he felt Ben's erection nudging up against his balls.

"Benny, that was, that was..."

"Yes, Ray, it certainly was."


Part XII by Ro


It was some time before the spinning room righted itself. The force of his climax was still thundering through Ray's body, leaving him a shaking, panting wreck. His pulse was wild, his breathing jumpy. He stared down at his partner, barely able to believe the sight before him.

Benton Fraser was sitting stark naked on a straight-backed chair in the middle of his apartment, with another man's drying semen speckling the smooth perfection of the Mountie's chest. Ray still couldn't attribute the raw carnality of what they'd done to the Benton Fraser he knew. And perhaps he shouldn't. This was more Evil Benny and Dream Ray's work than their own. In retrospect, Ray realized that Fraser had moved them to the chair to continue the seething fantasy those celestial match-makers had implanted in both their minds. With the way that wet dream had primed them both, neither of them had had any real choice in the matter.

As if in response to his own thoughts, Ray saw the glow of passion fade from Fraser's flushed cheeks. As the blood drained from his face, leaving an ashen white, shell-shocked visage in its place, the disheveled Mountie looked more like a rape victim than a partner in seduction.

And maybe in a way that was exactly what Fraser was, Ray thought, consumed by guilt. His conscience couldn't help but remind him of how Fraser hadn't chosen any of this. Those dream specters, angels, demons or whatever they were had gotten into both their minds and pushed their libidos to hyper-drive.

Now, Ray himself wasn't particularly resentful about how things had turned out. He'd decided that Fraser's love was worth the risk and all the shit they were going to have to take from bigots. He'd had the best sex ever with Benny here tonight. That was all that mattered to Ray.

But he knew his partner wasn't like him. Fraser was the least spontaneous human he'd ever met on this Earth. Benny lived his life by a set code of honor, out-dated though it might be. A runaway libido was not sufficient excuse for this kind of scene in Fraser's world.

More than that, Benny hadn't come to any decisions about the change in their relationship. Fraser was still very much on the fence, vacillating between what his heart and mind wanted. As much as Ray would like to believe differently, he knew that this mind-blowing sex was just going to confuse the issue for Benny. His Mountie hated nothing more than not being in control of a situation, let alone his own actions.

As he watched that beloved face become more and more confused, eventually shutting down completely until only the Mountie remained, Ray couldn't help but worry what the best sex of his life was going to cost him. He had the abrupt memory of Fraser running out on him at that restaurant a few nights ago when their first official date had gone bad. This scene had the same feel to it, a mistake in the offing that Ray hadn't a clue how to prevent.

Well, the first thing he could do was give his partner some thinking room, Ray decided before awkwardly easing his bare butt off Fraser's lap. He couldn't help but notice how relieved the naked Mountie seemed by his action. Trying not to feel hurt, Ray stood there like a fool, not knowing what to say or do. He'd had many an uncomfortable morning after, but nothing in his past had prepared him for a scene like this, with someone like his partner. Previously, all of his lovers had been at least as experienced as he was in sexual matters. Fraser was so removed from the norm that Vecchio almost felt as though he'd raped a child or a virgin. Which was patently absurd, of course. Fraser was neither of those things. Nevertheless, Ray couldn't help but feel that way.

As the silence stretched beyond Ray's capacity to endure, Vecchio finally broke it by hoarsely demanding, "Did you lie to me before, Benny?" Of all the things Fraser might have expected him to say, that obviously wasn't one of them.


"You told me you loved me before. Was that a lie?"

The pause was the longest Ray had ever suffered through. Finally, Fraser slowly shook his head, his mussed up hair giving him an absurdly young air.

"No, it wasn't."

His limbs almost went rubbery with relief. "Good, then we can work through this."

"Ray, this wasn't...I mean, I never intended..." He'd never seen the Mountie so flustered, not even when faced with Francesca in her worst vamp mode. Benny looked almost terrified, and that...hurt. Way too much.

"I know," he soothed, trying to bring calm to the situation.

"It was...I mean, I had a dream before you came...I mean, before you arrived and..." Fraser was actually stuttering.

"Yeah, me too."

"You did?"


"Then none of this is of our making," Fraser determined. Ray almost hated him for the relief in his tone.

"Does that make a difference? It got us where we wanted to go," Ray pointed out.

"Ray, we've been used. If you've been experiencing the same...dreams that I have, we've been manipulated by forces controlling our thoughts and deeds..."

"I didn't do nothin' I didn't want to do before I started dreaming of your evil twin. You telling me that you never felt this way before those dreams showed up?" Vecchio was relieved to see some color return to his companion's face, even if it was in the form of a blush. After another prolonged silence, Fraser shook his head almost in defeat.

"No, I...I entertained such feelings before that."

"Then what's the big deal, Benny?"

"We didn't choose to initiate this, Ray-"

"I don't know about you, but I sure as hell have been trying to 'initiate' this," Vecchio interrupted. "What are you so scared of, Benny?" He thought for a moment that the naked man might actually hit him, but after a few deep breaths, the storm of sudden emotion passed from Fraser's eyes. Then Benny turned away from him to stare off at the dark window, effectively cutting off Ray's connection with his soul.

"What do you think is gonna happen here, Benny? You think I'm gonna screw you and walk out the door?"

The audible gulp and the silence which followed told their own story.

"Why would you think such a thing? What have I ever done to make you mistrust me so much?"

"It isn't you, Ray," Fraser whispered at last. "It's the...nature of this relationship. A sensible man would walk away from such...a complicated entanglement."

"Who ever said I was sensible?" Ray challenged, trying to lighten the mood.

Those blue eyes flashed fire at him as they turned back to sear him.

"Despite what you wish the rest of the world to believe, we both know that you're a practical man. As soon as the passion wears off here, I'm going to become an embarrassment to you, then a liability. When this is done, we won't even have a friendship left. I -- I don't want to lose that, Ray. You and Diefenbaker are the only true friends I have."

Fraser's fear was as naked as his body, on display for all to see. Ray had never seen such ruthless self-honesty. He gulped around the lump trying to choke him and hoarsely commented, "You make it sound like a foregone conclusion that this is gonna end badly."

"How else can it end?" Fraser asked dismally, a cynical streak that Ray had never even suspected existed rearing its head.

"Sometimes there are 'happily ever after's. I know you believe that, Benny."

"Not for me," Fraser whispered so low Vecchio barely heard him.

"Why not for you?" Ray challenged.

"It just doesn't work out for me that way, Ray. Some people are meant to find someone and be happy. Others are meant to be alone. I fall into the latter category."

"That's bull--" Ray just barely kept in the expletive. Calming himself, he continued, "That's just not true. Of everyone I know, you are the most worthy of being loved. And I love you, Benny -- with all my heart. Why can't you believe that?"

"I'm not doubting that you feel that way now, Ray, but in time -- "

"I told you my intentions were honorable. I am not gonna love you and leave you. If I could, I'd marry you tomorrow."

"But you can't, Ray. Don't you understand? Your family, your mother..." Fraser almost seemed to choke on that last word and suddenly Ray understood just how much Fraser feared losing the regard of his adopted family. Of all the things Vecchio had shared with his exiled friend, Ray knew that the orphaned Mountie cherished his inclusion in the Vecchio family circle the most.

"I can't promise you it'll go over well with everyone at first, but they'll come around. You'll see," Ray assured.

"Are you saying that you intend to tell them about us?" Fraser sounded stunned.

"Of course, I'm gonna tell them about us. They're gonna find out anyway and if they don't hear it from me first they're gonna think we're something dirty, something that I'm ashamed of."

"You could really tell your mother about...what we just did?"

"Well, not the details, of course. She doesn't need to hear the particulars, but I'm sure as hell gonna tell her that we're in love with each other. Not that it's gonna come as any big surprise to her. I swear she knew before I did," Ray informed him.

"What do you mean?"

"Benny, she's my mom. I've never been able to hide anything that big from her."

"Your mother has spoken to you about...us?" Fraser seemed fascinated by the concept. Ray sighed. He would have much rather discussed their new relationship, but he was so glad to see the fear leaving Fraser's worried eyes that he was willing to talk about anything, including the dreaded Inuit. "Not in so many words, no, but she's let me know she knows."


"A lot of ways. When I first broke up with Ange, mom was always inviting Francesca's friends and anyone else she could find over, trying to set me up. A month after you moved permanently down to Chicago, she stopped with the match-making. She used to tell me all the time that she didn't care who I married, so long as the girl was Catholic and loved me. A couple of months ago, out of the blue, she says to me that it doesn't matter to her anymore if the person I settled down with permanently was Catholic, just so long as that person loved me and made me happy."

"Ray, that hardly qualifies as suspecting what you felt for me," Fraser protested.

"You don't understand, Benny. She didn't say 'the girl I married.' She went out of her way to be unclear, saying, 'the person I settled down with permanently,' like she knew there was no way I could legally marry that person. You know my ma. She's never anything but direct."

Fraser nodded, digesting this. After a moment, he hesitantly said, "Even so, there's the rest of your family --"

"Who? Frannie? Marie? Tony? Do you think I need their approval to live? If Ma turned her back on me for loving you, that would hurt. But as for the rest...their approval isn't gonna keep me warm on a cold and lonely night, Benny. Only you can do that now. Unless, of course, all this hesitation isn't about me at all. Maybe you don't want a balding flatfoot in your bed? Maybe all you want from me is a few nights of hot monkey sex and --"

"Monkey sex?" Fraser sounded mystified.

"Don't go all pedantic on me. You know what I mean. The kind of teeth-rattling lust we just unleashed on each other here a few minutes ago. Hot, seething, meaningless."

"You think what we did here was meaningless?" Fraser almost sounded crushed.

"It is if that's all it's about, if all I mean to you is a convenient body to get your rocks off with."

"Is that what I have led you to believe?"

"I don't know what to believe, Benny. I know that I don't measure up to you in any way, shape, or form. I'm not good-looking or smart or --" Knowing he'd said too much, Ray killed that line of thought. "I guess there's a part of me that just doesn't understand why you bother with me in the first place. When you gave me that sled sculpture last week, I thought I'd found my answer. I thought you stuck with me because you...you were maybe falling in love with me. But if I was wrong about us and it's just lust induced by those hot dreams, then maybe you're right, maybe we shouldn't-"

"Ray, I swear, it's not just monkey love --"

"Monkey sex," Vecchio corrected, loving the man very much at that moment for the raw panic in his eyes.

"Whatever you want to call it. You were not wrong about us. I -- I am in love with you. I'm just...so afraid that I'm going to ruin your life --"

"The only way you're gonna ruin my life is by denying what's between us," Ray raggedly admitted. He couldn't go through much more of this. Fraser could always talk circles around him and, no matter how strongly he might be against something, Ray knew he would eventually cave into whatever Fraser wanted. And if Fraser wanted no sex between them...then Ray knew he didn't have a snowball's chance in hell here.

"Ray..." Fraser's uncertainty was a palpable entity as he dropped his gaze to his naked lap.

"Please, Benny, give us a chance. Trust me. It's not all gonna be like before, a rush of sex so fast and hard that you can't stop it, can't think around it. I don't want you like that, Benny."

"Like what?" Fraser questioned, seemingly genuinely mystified.

"Carried away by hormones, like you don't have a choice in the matter. I don't want to have to plan every seduction like an assault and take you by surprise when you're too hot and bothered to say no. That's too much like rape."

"Ray...sex has never been any other way for me," Fraser offered in a tone that told Vecchio the Mountie wasn't certain of the wisdom of betraying this much information. "I don't know that I can...give in any other way."

"That's nonsense. You are the gentlest man I know."

"With Victoria it was always --"

"I'm not Victoria. We get to choose what we want our relationship to be like."

"But before we-"

"It was so wild before because we've been wanting each other so bad, so long. Next time, it'll be different. It'll be gentle, with all the tenderness and attention to detail I wanted for our first time."

"You wanted it different?"

Not wanting to offend, but determined to be honest, Ray admitted it. "You're something rare and fine, Benny. I wanted to cherish you from head to foot, to court you slow and gentle like I would a virgin."

"I'm not a virgin, Ray," Fraser said in that near-affronted tone he so often got when his pride was offended.

"I know that. But there's something pure and untouched about you, anyway. I would have loved to have paid my proper respects to that the first time."

Ray heard his partner's gulp from three feet away. After the slightest of hesitations, Fraser asked in a gruff, uncertain tone, "Well, there's nothing stopping you from paying your proper respects now, is there, Ray?"

"You giving me your permission?" Ray asked, frozen with disbelief. There was a part of him that was so shocked he'd won through in this argument that he almost suspected that Fraser was toying with him. Only, Benny would never stoop that low. Fraser might rip his heart out, but he'd do it honestly, out in the open. "I won't touch you without it."

"I'm giving you my hand, if you want it."

"Huh?" Ray blinked.

"I'd pledge thee my troth in a traditional manner, were I able to, take your name or offer you mine, whichever you preferred. But since we can't do that...I offer you my hand and heart, willingly," Fraser added, looking as nervous as any prospective bridegroom popping the question as he held out a not quite steady hand.

"You mean that?" Ray whispered, trembling at how much he needed those words to be true.

"Yes, Ray. Will you have me?"

"I'll have you. In any way, shape or form you want me to," Ray growled and gathered his partner's out-stretched hand into his own, lifting it up to his mouth. His lips touched the dry, callused knuckles, so different from any woman's hand he'd ever kissed. He was torn with uncertainty, worried that maybe this was too mushy a response, but the deep, contented sigh Fraser vented assured him that he'd made the right move for once.

"Oh, Ray, I love you so much," Fraser whispered, in a shaky tone that bore no resemblance to his normal voice.

Vecchio felt Fraser's free hand grip the back of his neck to pull him forward into the Mountie's embrace. He went willingly, accepting full responsibility for the commitment he'd just made to this idealistic crusader. He didn't know where this would lead them. All he knew was that they were in this together, and they didn't need any cosmic yentas screwing up their hormones anymore to get them in each other's arms where they belonged. Tonight was for love and paying his respect to this unique, gentle man with every bit of tenderness he possessed in his soul.

With that in mind, Ray drew his partner up into his arms and then into a kiss, the sweetness of which told him that either of them would follow into hell itself. It was little trouble to lead the Mountie to the tiny narrow bed, and even less trouble to shower Fraser with the attention to detail the man deserved.


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