Jesus, I couldn't do this without the assistance of both Lynn and Estrella. It's an involved process, and the both of them are patient, and funny, and are the best betas I could ever, ever ask for.
Fraser was a liar. He lied all the time. Ray figured Fraser would argue with that, if Ray pointed it out to him, so he mostly didn't say anything, but it was true.
Fraser lied by being so good-looking, and so Canadian. Meaning polite. Meaning, in Chicago terms, a big liar. He was polite to a fault, that was for damn sure - tipping his hat, and holding open doors, and dancing around like he was on crack in order to be so damn helpful and kind and polite. In Chicago - hell, in most of the United States - that was the same exact thing as lying.
Because you didn't do that. You didn't smile at girls with a twinkle in your eye, you didn't hold doors, and you didn't help them across the damn street. ("They make walk lights for that, Fraser.") You didn't make eye contact like that, deep meaningful eye contact, not when you were as good-looking as Fraser. That was making promises that Ray knew Fraser was in no way gonna keep.
Because, truth be told, Fraser was queer as a three-dollar bill.
Ray knew this because he, himself, was at times dubious currency, and while, okay, he was only kinda bent while Fraser was folded practically in half - still, Ray was good at reading people, and Fraser, man, when he was being so polite to girls? He was lying.
Ray rocked back on his heels and lit a cigarette and watched Fraser lie through his teeth again, this time to the manager of a toyshop. The four of them - Fraser, the girl, the wolf, and Ray himself - were standing behind the shop, by the boarded-up window. Fraser was doing that thing he did - standing too close, watching the girl talk with his head tilted, listening, really listening - only the girl thought he was listening to more than just her little story, that he was picking up her signals, her body language, the fact that she was practically vibrating with the desire to throw herself at Fraser.
Fraser was playing oblivious - the same way he did when Frannie did it. Ray tilted his head back to blow smoke upwards. Frannie, man - you'd think if Ray got it, then Frannie, after all this time, would buy a fucking clue. But hope sprang fucking eternal, and Frannie was stubborn. Jesus, it would be easier if Fraser would just put her off once and for all - just say something, right out. It would make it easier on everybody if Fraser would do that.
But uh-uh. That would be too easy. Fraser didn't so much do things the easy way. Ray snorted softly to himself, watching now as Fraser looked deep into the toy store girl's eyes, took a breath, and asked, "And Ms. Mullane - Deborah -" He pronounced each syllable, too - "did you actually see him go out the window?"
The girl - Deb-or-ah - crinkled her eyes in thought. "Well, no, but -" She gestured at the broken glass still scattered over the ground. "The window was broken, and the front door was still locked, so I just assumed…" She blinked prettily up at Fraser. "You think something different?"
Oh, you handsome, smart, manly Mountie, Ray added sourly in his head. He concentrated his attention on his cigarette, tuning out whatever it was Fraser was going on about, knowing he'd hear it all again after Fraser got rid of the girl. Because make no mistake, Fraser was going to ditch the girl, as soon as possible. Ray could read Fraser's body language as well as he could read the girl's. And while the girl's was saying "take me, I'm yours," Fraser's was telling a whole other story. The way he was leaning in, tilting his head to listen, and even - yeah, there it was, touching the girl's arm as he said thank you - that was all big-body-language stuff, the type of stuff it was really easy to play with.
What Ray saw was how Fraser tilted his head towards her, but kept the rest of his body away - kind of like how straight guys hug each other. And he saw the smile on Fraser's face, one that didn't even come close to his real smile. Ray had been watching Fraser do this for so long, he could even pinpoint the moment when Fraser pasted it on. And while the pat on the arm made the girl think Fraser was interested, what it meant in Fraser-land was "step away from the nice Mountie."
And sure enough, with a smile and a tip of his hat, Fraser turned and walked back towards Ray and the face he had on now was his working face. He'd gotten the information he needed, not just by what the girl said, but how she said it, and the stuff she'd left out. Fraser had a whole story the girl didn't even know she'd told.
And sure, Fraser wasn't a normal guy - Ray was absolutely certain Fraser would be able to recite back to him the girl's eye color, her name, her freaking hometown, and possibly her shoe size, if someone asked him - but that was just 'cause Fraser was a freak, a freak with a freaky brain, and he did stuff like that. It didn't mean any more than gathering information - it didn't mean he meant it when he gave that girl hope that he'd really seen her.
Ray tossed his cigarette away as Fraser walked up to him, but Fraser still wrinkled his nose at the smell. Fuck that. Fraser had his own vices. "Well?" Ray asked dryly. "What did you get out of her?"
A tiny pause while Fraser raised his perfect eyebrow the smallest amount at Ray's pissy tone. "Ms. Mullane was very helpful -"
"I'm sure she was," Ray muttered.
Fraser's eyebrow went a little higher this time. "…and she told me that the break-in occurred after hours, when she was still here doing inventory - she works late a lot of nights, she says - and that it was very similar to the break-in at the liquor store just over on Fairfax."
Fraser headed down the street in the general direction of Fairfax, the wolf trotting after him. Ray sighed and followed crankily. "Liar," he said conversationally as he caught up to Fraser.
Fraser pivoted on his boot heel to face Ray. Ray stopped, his arms crossed over his chest. "Excuse me?" said Fraser with that smile on his face, the one that was - guess what - another lie, because it wasn't a smile and it sure as fuck wasn't polite.
"Liar," Ray repeated, slipping on his sunglasses, and lighting another cigarette. "You, not the girl," he added helpfully.
"Huh," Fraser said, looking sort of - both offended and amused at the same time. "And what, may I ask, do you think I'm lying about?"
"You, my friend, lie about everything," said Ray, poking Fraser in the chest.
"I most certainly do not," Fraser responded stiffly, waving away the smoke from Ray's cigarette. "I am a Mountie."
"Yes. You are. You are a lying Mountie," said Ray.
The look of amusement dropped away. "I don't lie, Ray."
"All the time," Ray assured him. "C'mon, where's that liquor shop again?" He pushed past Fraser.
Fraser sputtered for a second, and seemed to be muttering something to the wolf, before following after Ray. "Fairfax," he said shortly.
"Fine," said Ray. "Let's go."
"We're going," said Fraser. "We're walking there now. In case you hadn't noticed." He lengthened his stride, easing past Ray.
"I noticed. I notice a lot," said Ray grimly, not even trying to catch up. Fraser would just have to fucking wait.
Fraser shook his head, not turning to look at Ray. "Let's go."
"We're going," Ray said spitefully, and blew smoke at the back of Fraser's head.
The thing was, once Ray got a hold of a mood, he had a hard time letting it go. Interviewing the guy in the liquor store describing his break-in, Fraser apologized for Dief stealing beef jerky off the counter and ignoring Fraser's scolding. "I'm sorry, he's deaf, and also woefully mannerless…"
"See?" Ray burst out. "Right there."
Fraser broke off his apology to look at Ray. "Right where?" he said, looking around like the robbers were maybe hiding behind the counter or something.
"There! You lied. You always lie about that."
Fraser gave the store manager a pained, apologetic glance before turning back to Ray. "About the fact that Dief has no manners? Let me assure you, it's the god's-honest tr-"
"That Dief is deaf. Unless you're actually deranged enough to buy that, in which case you got way more problems than I can help with, buddy. Also, you just did it again." Ray smiled viciously.
"Did what again?" Fraser's force, polite tone had turned to exasperation.
"Lied. Pretending to think I was asking about the wolf's manners. You know what I'm talking about, when you're, like, on purpose being dumb about things."
Fraser looked at Dief, who grinned up at him with a mouthful of jerky. He looked at the liquor store manager, a middle-aged Italian guy with a mustache and a substantial stomach, who seemed both bewildered by and interested in the discussion between Fraser and Ray. Fraser looked again at Ray, who crossed his arms and lifted his chin at Fraser. And then Fraser very deliberately turned his back on Ray and went back to questioning the liquor store manager, while Ray exchanged a knowing glance with the wolf.
So by the time they got to the flower shop a few blocks over from the liquor store - the flower shop had also been robbed recently - and Fraser said to the girl at the counter - the not-so-pretty girl who was being made to feel very pretty indeed under Fraser's attentions - "And this is my partner, Ray Vecchio," Ray said, "Ha!" and did that hand-clap, finger-snap, pointing thing. "There's another one, right there."
Fraser just stood there for a moment, not looking at Ray, though Ray could see the corner of his mouth tighten. Then Fraser said, very politely and calmly, to the confused-looking girl, "Could you possibly excuse us for just a moment? Thank you kindly."
Then he wheeled around, and grabbed Ray's arm hard - ow - and motioned to Dief to stay, and yanked Ray out the door.
Which maybe wasn't the reaction Ray was particularly looking for, but was better than nothing.
Fraser jerked him around the corner and down the narrow alley that ran between the flower shop and the hardware store next door, and shoved him up against the wall (again, ow).
"All right, Ray," he said, and man, he sounded mad. "Do you mind explaining to me your point, exactly?"
And something just snapped inside of Ray. "Yes. Okay. Fine. I'll explain. Sure thing. No problem. The point is that you - you -" And Ray pointed at Fraser, so there'd be no fucking mistake about it, so that Fraser couldn't pretend Ray was maybe talking about someone else. "You lie. All the fucking time. And then you lie about lying."
Fraser took in some air through his nose. "I lie."
"About what, now? And further, why do you care?"
Ray gestured furiously. "Everything! You lie to every woman you look at! You make them think you care -"
"I do care!" Fraser sounded primly offended.
"Liar," and Ray was shoving at Fraser, and Fraser, shockingly, shoved him right back, up against the wall, but that was good, great, because the thump he got just made him all the more sure. Fraser was pissed, because Fraser didn't like being called on things. "You don't care like you make them think you do. You care because it's your job, because it gets the job done, when you're all making eye contact and leaning and making them think they stand a chance."
And that was the thing right there, that was it exactly, that was Ray's fucking point. "It's a million things you lie about - you lie just by being so, so -" Ray flailed. "You. But it's more than that - you do that thing where it seems like you mean it, like there's something they can do, like there's a follow-through you're handing them, and hey, look, hot Canadian guy, it's gonna happen if they just figure out the next move that you're looking for!"
Fraser pressed his lips together, and responded stiffly, "I'm not looking for a next move. I'm not looking for any move."
"You are not giving me new information here, Fraser!" Ray slammed one fist back against the wall. "I got that! I know that. I know that. I know that because I watch you and guess what? I know that. They don't know that. They're not looking for it, and so you're fucking playing them, and you can't even admit it, not even to yourself. You're such an asshole, Fraser, when you play the nice guy. You're lying, and it's not fair."
"To whom?" Fraser said in tone he had, the one that was, like, designed to make Ray feel like an idiot. All patronizing, like no way would Ray have an answer here.
Ray ground his teeth together. "Jesus Christ, Fraser, lie to them, fine, but not to me, okay? I know."
Fraser snapped, "You know what, that I'm a liar, that I'm -" He stopped, then, stopped like it was the edge of a cliff, just - stood there. Looking at Ray. Ray could almost see it in his eyes, things falling into place, because guess what?
Fraser watched Ray, too.
Jesus! Who did shit like this? Who shoved up against their partner in a fucking alley like this? Who did that and then tried to make pretend like it was normal, like there was nothing to see here? Ray grabbed Fraser's arms, pushed him back, and swung him around. Fraser just let him. "Look, guys don't do shit like that unless they mean it, unless they want something."
And Fraser, back to the wall - looking angry, and not polite and not fronting, fucking finally - said tensely, "What? Mean what?"
"Yeah," said Ray tightly. "Like you don't know. Right?" His body felt tight with tension, like he was going to snap, just fucking snap. "Tell me to stop, then." He shoved Fraser up against the wall hard, hard. Fraser just looked - closed. Not startled, just - frozen. Ray shoved against him again. "C'mon. Tell me not to do this." Crazy, Ray was crazy. He couldn't stop. "Come on, Fraser." Fraser fucking owed him this, owed him the truth, and then - Christ, Christ - Ray was up against Fraser, was - oh fuck - kissing him. His lips against Fraser's, his whole body shaking. It half-felt like he was going to cry, because this was just so wrong, so fucked. All the lies, everything between them, it was just so fucked, and Fraser still wasn't getting the fucking point of all this.
His hands were all knotted up in the heavy serge of Fraser's uniform jacket. He yanked his mouth away from Fraser's and glared at him, panting. "Tell me to stop," he gasped out. "You want me to stop?"
And Fraser, standing there, tried to nod, his eyes hollow, his head jerking, and Ray, anger surging through him, growled, "Fucking liar," and kissed him again.
He just wanted Fraser to fucking admit it, to tell the damn truth, to himself, to anyone, to just stop fucking around and fucking asking for it. Playing all, "oh god, uncomfortable Mountie, rescue me, Ray" when that was the same - that was the exact same fucking thing as he did to the girls. Because somewhere in Ray's stupid, stupid mind, he'd thought - he'd thought - Christ, he was just like those stupid-ass girls, thinking he'd get something out of helping Fraser, thinking those looks were promising something.
Jesus. Ray couldn't stop kissing Fraser's stupid, frozen mouth. Till Fraser jerked back, his hands closing tightly on Ray's arms, leaving Ray panting and furious. Fraser's eyes were brutal. "Obviously, I'm not the only one who's been lying."
Ray glared - fuck that! Just fuck that. He wanted to kill himself or maybe Fraser - mostly Fraser. He wrenched himself back, but Fraser wouldn't let go of his arms.
Fraser shook Ray hard. "It's just - Jesus, Ray -"
And then Ray was the one being kissed. Ray had his mouth open in a second, and Fraser had his tongue in there a second after that. Fraser's mouth was hot against Ray's, and Ray's cock got hard so fast he was dizzy. Fraser's hands were still wrapped tight around Ray's upper arms, like he thought Ray would try to get away. When what Ray really wanted was to get inside Fraser, he couldn’t fucking get enough.
Fraser was just hanging on here, and he was kissing Ray like if he stopped, that would be it, it would be over. Like this was it, the one chance to stop fucking around and just - do this. Ray was pressing forward, shoving his tongue into Fraser's mouth. And Fraser, with all his lies and misdirections and politeness and his fucked-up need to hold everything - just fucking everything - back - he just gave in to it. Like he'd been wanting to be kissed - needing to, like sometimes you need to in order to keep breathing - he'd been wanting this, and wanting this from Ray, and it should have blown Ray's mind. Only, hi, Ray'd known, he'd fucking known it. This was the one thing that was the truth. This was the one fucking thing - Fraser always standing too close to him, always touching him the way no guy ever touched another guy, always looking at him like that - that was the truth, only Fraser lied so fucking much just by being that Ray hadn't been able to call him on it.
Only - he kind of had. Fraser, being Fraser, had made Ray do it the hard way, but he had.
Jesus Christ. Ray yanked his mouth away again, and Fraser lurched forward, his eyes on Ray's mouth.
"Fraser," Ray managed. "Say it."
"Ray," said Fraser, still looking at his mouth, his hands flexing where they still clutched Ray's arms.
"Say it," Ray ordered. "Come on, give me something here, just fucking say it."
Fraser snapped back into himself, looked up at Ray's eyes. "Ray, I don't -"
Ray brought his hands up between them, broke Fraser's grasp on his arms. Fraser made a sound in his throat, and then Ray was up against him, the thick serge scratchy against his sweaty hands. "Tell me something that's not a lie," Ray said urgently.
Because Ray was open here, Ray was fucking cut open, his whole fucking life spilled out on the ground right here in this dirty alley, his hands on Fraser's body, the taste of Fraser in his mouth, his cock hard in his jeans, Fraser's breath on his face. Ray was on the fucking brink here, and Fraser -
Fraser was staring wide-eyed at Ray as he said, "God, just -" He swallowed, and was quiet for a second. "Kiss me again," he said thickly.
Ray shook his head once. Wrong answer.
There was a flash of frustration in Fraser's eyes. Ray's cock got harder. Fraser's hands were under his jacket, then, and fuck, they were hot, Ray could feel it through his t-shirt.
Fraser shut his eyes. "I want -"
Ray waited, aware that he was pressing forward against Fraser. He couldn't breathe.
Fraser breathed in through his nose, and his hands clutched Ray's sides. "Just - take me home." He breathed out hot against Ray's face, and opened his eyes. "I want - take me home."
Ray shuddered hard, trying not to come from just that. "Yeah," he said hoarsely. "Okay."
"Yeah," said Fraser, his eyes on Ray's mouth again.
"Go get the wolf," Ray said, suddenly aware that dusk had fallen while they'd been in this shabby alley. It was dim all around them, the piles of boxes and bags around them shadowy, making Ray feel weirdly uneasy.
"Yes," said Fraser, and when his hands slid out from under Ray's jacket, Ray shivered hard, and felt cold. "The break-ins…?" he said vaguely.
Fraser shook his head. "We're done. It was the girl at the toy shop. It had to be her boyfriend, Daniel. How else would she have known all those details about the other break-ins in the area?"
Ray just looked at Fraser. "Fraser. If you knew that, why the fuck did we spend all day -"
"I wasn't sure. I wanted to double-check. But all the details matched up, and I matched a thumbprint from the doorway to the toyshop to a thumbprint from the counter in the liquor store, and given that Daniel -"
"Daniel?" Ray was trying very hard to keep up.
"Ms. Mullane's boyfriend, who works at the docks, and the fingerprint is marred by what seems to be a scar peculiar to those received by a certain type of fish-hook which…"
Ray blinked. "How did you … When did you… No. You know what? Forget it. That's good. Perfect. Solved case. Let's go get the girl."
Fraser took a breath and smiled slowly. He bent - carefully - to pick up his hat from where Ray had knocked it to the ground. "Okay." He took two steps towards the head of the alley, then stopped, and turned to look at Ray. "I -" He paused, like he was lining up the words in his head, which Ray hadn't thought Fraser ever had to do. "I don't think of it as lying," he said awkwardly. "It's a sort of - defensive maneuver." He was standing there, turning his hat around and around in his hands, like even he knew it was a pretty poor excuse. "I - nothing else works, in the short run - disinterest just makes them all the more tenacious in their attentions and I can't - there isn't - I just -"
"It freaks you out." Ray shut his eyes for a second, shook his head a little. Oh, Fraser. You dumb fuck.
Fraser took a breath. "Yes. It freaks me out. If I just - give them something, then they mostly - they're mostly satisfied, and it's just -"
"Yeah. That works, huh? That worked real well with Frannie. She's totally backed off, hasn't she? Man, she hasn't pressed her tits up against you once yet today. Good plan, there, Frase."
Fraser just looked at Ray then, looking just really very tired. "It's the best one I've managed. And you usually -"
"Us against them, huh?" Ray chewed on his lip a little, hating how he knew - even if Fraser didn't - that he had been in the exact same spot as Frannie, for way too long. It was just too fucking pathetic. "Yeah, well. Coulda clued me in on that one."
"I'm sorry." Fraser sounded sincere.
"Coulda let me know you liked me."
"I'm sorry," Fraser said again, but this time his eyes flicked up and met Ray's, and Jesus, the heat in that look made Ray start to sweat. "Ray," Fraser said softly. "Let's go home."
Ray swallowed. "Okay," he said, putting his hand on Fraser's back and nudging him towards the front of the alley. "Let's go."
Fraser put the Stetson firmly on his head, and headed out to get the girl, while Ray shook his head, and shrugged, and lit another cigarette.
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