Need To Know Basis
Warnings (highlight to view): nothing to warn for
~ for Estrella, who provided the first sentence. ~
“I don't think I ever told you, no. Does it matter?”
Uh-oh. Fraser was in full Dudley-Do-Right mode here: spine straight as a flagpole, hands at his sides, face showing as much expression as Tutankhamen after he dried out. This wasn’t a good sign.
“Look,” Ray sighed, rubbing a hand against the back of his neck. The old Ray wouldn’t have backed down from a fight, but the new Ray was learning all kinds of stuff from living with Fraser, like how to drive a dogsled and make pemmican—yecccchhh—and be, like, almost diplomatic when the situation called for it. Adlai frickin’ Stevenson, that was him.
And Adlai knew this was one of those situations.
“I’m not saying anything about it one way or the other, Frase. I’m just letting you know what I overheard down at Marta’s place this afternoon. That new asshole—”
—okay, so there was a limit to diplomacy—
“—who works security at the mine used to be a Mountie, and he was shooting his mouth off about you and this Victoria chick. I’m just giving you a heads up that the gossip mill is churning butter. I don’t give a shit—”
—yeah, and that was a big fat lie, because he did give a shit, he’d looked it up in Fraser’s file, then Vecchio’s file, and then he’d done some serious digging, because one thing Ray Kowalski knew real well was making an idiot of yourself for love, and somehow knowing Supermountie’d done the same thing made him real, made him human. A real, human, fucked-up mess, just like the rest of them.
And the weirdest, the most fucked-up thing about it all, even more fucked-up and weird than Victoria and Fraser?
It was when Ray found out the whole story that he started falling in love with the crazy bastard.
Even now, when he woke up sometimes in the middle of the night and Fraser was lying on his front, Ray’d trace the bullet scar with his gaze and think about love and death and fate and fragility and all that deep, important shit you thought about at four in the morning.
“—about your old girlfriends, okay? S’just that I wanted you to know what was going on.”
Which didn’t mean he was going to tell Fraser the whole story, such as the part where he’d stepped up to Asshole Boy and threatened to create several new assholes for him, all of them extra-wide, if he ever talked trash about Fraser again. Still, the damage had been done, and there was no way of knowing how this thing would play out. The Mountie and his Yank boy toy were already hot copy in this one-musk-ox town, and this would keep the biddies down at Marta’s wagging their jowls for a long time.
Then Fraser just—sagged was the only word that fit. He lost the Dudley posture, and his face went from solid rock to pure, bone-deep tired in an instant.
“I should have told you, I know,” he murmured. “It was just—I didn’t know where to begin.”
Ray stepped up to him then, laying his hands on Fraser’s upper arms, giving him strength and support and as much of himself as he could manage standing up fully clothed in the middle of Fraser’s office. “Hey, hey, hey,” he said quietly. “You tell me what you want, when you want, if you want. You hear me? I’m not—I don’t need that from you.”
Fraser looked at him, brows raised, and Ray chuckled. “Yeah, okay, it’ll be a first, right? Something I don’t need.”
Fraser shook his head. “That’s not what I was thinking.”
“I was just thinking how much I need you. And whether or not I’m strong enough to tell you this.”
Ray shook his head and smiled faintly. “Trust me, Frase. There’s nothing you can tell me that’ll make me love you any less.”
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