the weather outside
"...is frightful, like the song says, Frase." Ray made no move from the couch, where his legs were folded under him in what Fraser would have considered an... uncomfortable position.
"A brisk walk will do me good," Fraser reported, and although he was already pleasantly situated, he was rather looking forward to the first soft drift of snowflakes, and the promise of clean, white streets in the morning.
With a disgusted little whuff, Ray uncurled himself from his couch and made for a window, shoving the shade aside to reveal:
"That's freezing rain, Fraser. Sleet. That is not snow. That is not fluffy. That is hard, pelting slippery ice, and if you walk home in it, you will break your Mountie neck. And I'm a peace officer, and public safety is my gig, so I'm telling you, you can't go home tonight. I will not drive you, and you will not be walking."
Dief lifted his head as if in approval, and Fraser saw him smile at Ray, even sparing him a few thumps of his tail before grunting happily and returning to his nap. He was sleeping on what Fraser recognized as Ray's rather fetching poncho.
Fraser felt something like a chill race through his blood, but it passed quickly. He doffed his hat, placing it on Ray's coffee table, and nodded graciously at his host.
"Very well then. If I might borrow a blanket, I'm sure I could be very comfortable on your floor." Cocking his head, he cleared his throat softly, unsure if his next request would be considered rude. "Ah, Ray, I don't suppose you have a... broom handy?"
His friend scowled at him ostentatiously.
"I'm a pig. I have dust. Infestations. I *get* it, Fraser. And no *way* are you sleeping on my floor. You're the guest. I'll fix you up with some clean sheets, and take the couch."
"Ray, I couldn't put you out of your bed," he insisted, and again he felt that... peculiar sensation. Not a chill. More a *thrill*, he suspected.
"Hey, you're stuck here, you might as well get some sleep on an actual mattress." Ray was... lounging, Fraser supposed you could call it, in the doorway of his bedroom. One blond hand rested on his narrow hip, fingers tapping some song or another in a quiet tattoo that strangely echoed the sound of the sleet falling outside. Fraser realized that Ray had continued to speak, and now looked... almost nervous. Fraser, surprised at himself, focused immediately. "I know it's not that blanket on a two by four you call a bed, but uh, hey, you'll have make do, huh?"
"It's... very generous of you, Ray. I'm sure I'll sleep like a baby." He smiled, trying to demonstrate his appreciation.
"Well, the way I understand it, babies wake up in the middle of the night crying and yelling and needing uh, milk. And I don't have any milk."
"So I'll just..." And Ray trailed off, as if he'd forgotten what he was doing. "Get the sheets."
But Ray made no move for a long moment, and Fraser wondered if he, as the guest requiring clean sheets, shouldn't also be responsible for changing them. He raised a questioning eyebrow, and when that elicited no response, he took a step towards where he reasoned Ray's linen closet to be.
"Hey! What are you doing?"
"I thought... I was getting the sheets, Ray."
"What is wrong with you? Haven't you ever stayed over at a friend's house before?"
Fraser deemed it wiser not to answer.
"Jeez," Ray grumbled, as he hustled over to a narrow door in the hallway across from his bathroom. "It's the host's duty to... Fuck." He glanced at Fraser apologetically, hands spread out, gesturing towards the closet. Which appeared to be empty save for two washcloths and a colorful sort of table cloth. Fraser recognized it as the mat for the popular party game known as 'Twister'. "Uh, I'm... all outta clean sheets." Ray ran a hand through his buoyant, wheaten hair and sighed. "It's way past laundry day," he explained.
"I'm sure it'll be fine Ray."
"They're not-- I mean, I've hardly even slept in 'em myself, you know? Double shifts and the Merletti case... hardly been home to lay my head down. So... they shouldn't be gross or anything like that."
Fraser, preoccupied with a sudden idea that it would be... appealing to rest on sheets where Ray had lain, waited longer than it would seem appropriate to answer, and Ray apparently took that as a refusal.
Keeping his eyes on the floor, Ray ruffled his hair again and muttered, "Dirty sheets. Sure. That's hospitality, Ray. What the hell are you thinkin'?"
"Forgive me, Ray. I should have answered more promptly. I'd be honored to accept your...hospitality, and assure you that I am looking forward to a soothing night's rest in your wonderful bed." Fraser almost frowned when he'd finished the sentence; it was certainly an odd thing to say. The modifier "wonderful" did seem to catch Ray's attention. But Ray shook it off, and waved Fraser over to his bedroom.
"Cool. Okay then. So, you go get some shut eye, and I'll drive you home in the morning, after they salt the roads."
Fraser and Ray were both sharing the doorway, and standing very nearly chest to chest. In fact, when Fraser breathed, his flannel shirt grazed Ray's black, close fitting, long-sleeved cotton tee.
"Very... wise of you, Ray."
"Uh. Thanks. See you in the AM, Frase."
"Up with the sun," Fraser murmured absently.
"Yeah. Up with the... sun."
Ray's soft breath feathered across Fraser's chin. Without thinking, he pressed his tongue out to swipe his lower lip-- and was surprised to learn that he could *taste* Ray's breath. Coffee and peppermint... Ah, yes. He'd seen Ray unhook several candy canes from the holiday tree at the station.
Ray seemed to be staring at him.
The word was spoke so softly that Fraser wondered if Ray had meant to say it at all.
"What are you thinkin' about?"
"A poem," he replied reflexively. And he wondered why he'd said that, when in actual fact, he'd had nothing specifically in mind, other than an aesthetic appreciation of the way the glow of a nearby lamp limned Ray's skin and highlighted his golden hair.
"A poem?" Ray's forehead scrunched up, and his blue-green eyes shone with amusement. "Like, Edgar Anderson Poe? Somebody like that?"
"No. Not Edgar Allen Poe," Fraser corrected automatically. "Tom Clark."
"No. He's an American poet, actually."
"Huh. What's it called?"
"What is what called?" In consternation, Fraser scraped a thumbnail along his browbone, feeling out of step. Moreso even than usual.
"The poem, doofus."
Ray was shifting his weight from one leg to the other, as if anxious, or perhaps out of a need to urinate. His fidgeting was... somewhat distracting, and Fraser noted that his own breathing had sped up, and that his flannel was now brushing Ray's shirt with increasing frequency. It was creating a sort of... *friction* that was decidedly stirring. Fraser could feel his skin tingle, tighten.
"Poem," he echoed.
"Yeah, what's the poem called?"
"The poem is titled 'Poem', Ray."
Eyebrows lifting at that, Ray squinted and cocked his head, a smile playing in the corners of his mouth.
"So, uh, what about this... poem?" Ray spoke the word as if it had only one syllable, and Fraser found that somehow endearing.
"What is it... that you'd like to know?" Fraser was finding it difficult to follow the thread of what was ostensibly a simple conversation. Ray's proximity was making it exceedingly difficult to concentrate.
"Why're you thinking about it?"
"Oh. Well." He made a vague, sweeping motion with his hands to stall for time. "I'm not so much thinking about it as... reciting it in my mind."
"So recite it then. Then you can stop thinking about it. And get to... uh, bed."
Something about the emphasis on the word 'bed' made Fraser's blood thunder in his ears.
His obedience ingrained from years as a Mountie, Fraser obliged.
"Like musical instruments, abandoned in a field, the parts of your feelings are starting to know a quiet. The pure conversion of your life into art..." Fraser cleared his throat, and noticed that Ray's eyes were wide and nearly golden in the rich yellow light from that nearby lamp. The man looked... mesmerized. Fraser felt it prudent to continue. "Seems destined never to occur. You don't mind. You feel... spiritual," and Ray nodded, as if he could feel it, too, this curious bubble of peace laced with a bright anticipation of some sweet, as yet unnamed event. "And... alert. As the air must feel turning into the sky. Aloft and blue."
"Walkin' on the sky," Ray murmured.
Fraser felt a warmth blossom in his belly. He was gratified to learn that Ray had remembered a past conversation, and still more impressed by Ray's astute grasp of his meaning.
"Yes," he answered, hushed and trembling, on the verge of something... reckless. "You feel like..." And Fraser paused, gathering his resolve before forging on. "You'll never feel like touching anything or... anyone. Again."
Ray had lifted his chin slightly, lips parted, his coffeemint breath rapid and intoxicating against Fraser's mouth.
"And then you do."
And Fraser dipped his head and brushed his lips against Ray's, so briefly that in the moment after it happened, he'd wondered if it had, in fact, happened at all.
Ray looked stunned, eyes wide, mouth slack.
"Did you just kiss me?"
"Just makin' sure," Ray interrupted. And then he *hurled* himself at his friend, clutching at Fraser's shoulders, nearly dragging Fraser to the floor with his weight and enthusiasm.
"Always wondered," Ray gasped out, before swooping down to kiss him again. "Wanted to. Wanted to," he assured Fraser as he clawed at Fraser's shirt and scrabbled with the buttons.
"I didn't know," Fraser managed, before testing the sweetness of Ray's mouth, the agility of his tongue.
"We know now."
"Indeed," Fraser sighed, claiming another kiss.
Hiking Ray's shirt up to reveal his narrow chest, Fraser counted the detective's ribs with his fingertips. Under his palm, he could feel the glorious tumult of Ray's bounding pulse, the syncopation of his beating heart, a sheltered, tender counterpoint to the still-falling rain that slapped against Ray's windows… with no sign of stopping.