The Hard Way

by BrooklineGirl



Ray and Fraser (sort of) talk about all the stuff they (sort of) haven't been talking about. Written for the DS Undercover challenge at LiveJournal.

This was quite the project, and I owe thanks to many people: to Dira for helping me figure out just why Ray and Fraser wouldn't be together (she's entirely too good at that). To Estrella for her spontaneous, wonderful beta and for listening to my never-ending bitching about word count. To SnowFlake for a kick-ass beta job, and for helping me ditch a whole bunch of unnecessary set-up. I could not have done this without all of these wonderful women!


He looks up at me, glaring. "What, Fraser, what the fuck do you want from me?" His shoulders are hunched forward, his eyes fierce as he kicks at the ground of the parking lot. With his hands jammed into his pockets, he looks like a teenager who fears getting grounded. Seeing him like this makes my throat hurt.

"Ray, are you -" I pause, in the very act of asking. It's not a question he wants to answer and we both know why. Maybe he's right. Maybe it's better that we don't go there, that we leave it unspoken, this thing that we both know.

He peers at me again and his shoulders relax a little, his hand moving to rub at the back of his neck. He knows this isn't anything I want to do, either. He reads me too well.

"God," he sighs. "This sucks." He looks up at the sky, then his gaze skates over to the GTO, then down to my boots, before finally meeting my eyes. "You know, huh? It's that obvious?"

"No," I say, shaking my head. "No, it's not obvious. It's just - there."

How the two of them are able to be rough with each other, in a way that's strangely tender. I watched, just now, as they argued, Ray Vecchio laying a hand on Ray's shoulder, spinning him around roughly. Ray exploded, grabbing onto Ray Vecchio's jacket, turning him, slamming him hard against the wall. But even as I was stepping forward, alarmed, to intervene, Ray Vecchio cocked his head to the side, grinning sharply at Ray. Ray loosened his grip, shrugging his shoulders with a sigh, and brought his hand up, not to hit, but to cuff lightly at the side of Ray Vecchio's head. And Ray Vecchio pushed forward from the wall, elbowed him in the stomach, and the two of them were fine.

Not obvious - not really, and not what I would call affection - but it's there, and I can see it. How easy it is between them, and in those gazes they exchange, how they are more than friends.

Ray's eyes do that erratic dance once again, darting to the side, and then up, before he finally shrugs, and sighs, and again scuffs his boot against the ground. He knows that I know. And he knows that it hurts, even though it shouldn't.

Because it's not like the two of us would have ever had a chance.

Ray is all fiery emotion, flammable and explosive and passionate. The words don't always come as he wants them, and he reacts more than he listens. He wants more and more and then some, but he doesn't know how to ask - is better at showing than telling - and doesn't know how to give any less than his whole.

I want everything, as well, but there's a part of me that is too careful - that is afraid that the giving might be a sort of giving up. Giving in. Giving over. He knows that, he sees it, he understands it - but he can't handle it. It's all or nothing - all and nothing. Late at night, when I am alone, I think that maybe I could give it up to him, in the heat of passion, if I were to give it a chance. But in the light of day, the reality of it all strikes fear in my heart, and I just - can't.

It's as though neither of us have the tools to make it work. I fear the rupture that would come from trying to balance our friendship with something more. That had we tried it, the frustration would have built until we burned each other out, leaving us with nothing, not even friendship. Ray is too important to me, too much a part of me, for that.

Seeing him, though, with Ray Vecchio makes my heart - hurt. But logic doesn't dictate what I feel - obviously - and so, I think what I need is to just hear it, hear what I already know is true.

"See, listen," Ray says, and his voice is harsh as he says it. I realize he's half-desperate to tell me, despite how hard this is. "It was like, you and I are -" He makes a complicated gesture with his hands, which I interpret to mean so very different. Too very different. "And then Vecchio, you know, he's an asshole, and he pisses me off, all the damn time." He nods rapidly, reassuring himself of that fact.

"But," here he pauses to scrub his hand over his face, then back through his hair. "The thing is? Him? I know how to deal with. We were, like, going back and forth and it was just - I don't know. All of a sudden easy. Like, this is something I can do! And with us -" He stumbles over that last word, and his face is tight and miserable.

"It wouldn't be," I say softly, for him.

He takes a deep breath, and looks at me. "No," he says. "It wouldn't be. Not that I wouldn't want - "

"No," I interrupt. "I know."

"Yeah," he says. "Yeah." He looks away, looks back. "You okay?"

I look at him, and his shoulders relax fractionally, and he nods. Even with this, there don't always have to be words.

He nods once more, shortly, to himself, and says, "Okay." He pats his pockets. "Okay. I'll, uh, see you later."

I turn away as he heads to his car, settle my hat on my head and straighten my shoulders. And I am okay. I have to be. Just because you want something to be more than what it is, doesn't mean it gets to be that way. I remind myself that I should know that better than anybody at all.


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