Warnings: AU, Angst
Word Count: 7800
Disclaimer: These characters belong to Paul Haggis. No profit derived. And I put them right back where I found them which was snuggled under a blanket together.
Author’s Note: This is my entry for Prompt 31. Harlequin titles are wickedly long and literal which I hadn't realized. (i.e. The Italian’s Inexperienced Mistress and The Frenchman’s Marriage Demand). I have shamelessly borrowed an actual title Sicilian Husband, Blackmailed Bride and made the obvious change.
For some reason I was under the impression that actual Harlequins weren’t angsty. They are. Which is good for me because it's hard for me to do anything else. The key, I guess is that they have happy endings. I made perhaps more of an attempt to write in the Harlequin style this year than last, but in the end it's probably not as Harlequinesque as it could be.
Prompt 31. Blackmail forced Ray Vecchio into marriage—although he could not be forced to bed his Canadian spouse. But Benton Fraser was as fair as he was determined to be a proper husband….
Robert Fraser watched the man from a vantage point which allowed him to see without being seen. He watched intently as the man spoke to the Maitre’d then fell easily in step behind as he was lead to the private dining area. Robert Fraser watched with great amusement as the man, who had no idea what was in store, fussed with the line of his suit and flashed a flirtatious smile to the waiter just inside the doorway. The Armani suit was just this side of being more than the man should have been able afford on his salary. As Robert Fraser stood and smoothed out the jacket of his own gloriously expensive suit, he thought, this man will do nicely.
“Detective Vecchio it is good of you to come.”
“Mr. Fraser, I’m surprised you know who I am,” the Detective said as he broke into a dazzling smile and puffed his chest out just a little.
Robert Fraser smiled eagerly at the man’s preening.
“I understand that you are a man of many talents Detective and I like to know talented people.
With an elegant sweep of his hand, the older man motioned, “Have a seat. Something has come up. I am in need of a service that you are in a the unique position to provide.”
The pounding of Detective Vecchio’s heart crescendoed in his own ears. This was big time. Robert Fraser was a man of reputation, a man not to be toyed with. The Detective knew that he needed to play it cool, keep his cool. He swallowed and concentrated on keeping his voice steady.
“As I am sure you can understand Mr. Fraser I have to maintain certain appearances.”
“Oh, I understand Detective. What I require can be accomplished fairly discretely, at least for a time. Were you aware that I have a son? ”
“Um, no. No, I don’t think that I was. Is he in lock-up? You need me to try and get him out?”
Robert Fraser smiled benignly.
“No, Detective, that would be my attorney’s job. My son needs a husband and I believe you will fit the bill quite nicely.” While he watched the information smack the Detective in the face, the older man motioned for the waiter.
The waiter, one of Robert Fraser's regulars knew precisely how to conduct himself. With ruthless efficiency, he stepped in to serve coffee. The Detective who had given him an appreciative once over when he first stepped into the private dining room now barely spared him a glance. The unexpected request had crowded out every other thought in Detective Vecchio’s head.
His obvious discomfort and the slight slipping of the cocksure attitude did not go unnoticed by his potential father-in-law.
With the coffee service completed, the waiter retreated leaving the Detective and Robert Fraser to their business once more. Needing more time to get his head together, Vecchio reached for the delicate china coffee cup and took a slow sip. It was his favorite blend. It helped restore a little of the equilibrium stolen by the old man’s words. It restored it enough for him to blurt out ,
“Husband. No one needs a husband.”
Mr. Fraser took his own considered sip before he responded smoothly . “My son needs certain protection, Detective. That protection would best be accomplished by his marriage.”
“Protection? I’m sure professional bodyguards -”
“I have business in Europe indefinitely. I wish for my son to remain in this country and I wish him to have the protection of citizenship in this country.”
Detective Vecchio felt sweat prickle on his forehead. This wasn’t how he had expected the meeting to go when he was contacted by a go between for Robert Fraser, rumored to be one of the most elusive crime bosses in the world. He’d felt a certain thrill in making the man’s radar. If the rumors were correct, Robert Fraser was into everything, in just about everywhere. Every major law enforcement agency were trying to put cases together against him and to date they had all failed.
The Detective had figured there might be a way for him to work both ends against the middle, until now. He set his coffee cup down carefully to avoid it shattering in his tightening grip.
“I know that you’re no stranger to male flesh Detective.”
“Everyone knows that.” Vecchio couldn’t help but smile. “The greatest thing about male flesh is that when you leave in the morning it doesn’t make a big deal about whether you call or not. No strings.”
“I see your point Detective, but it isn’t particularly relevant to this discussion. Perhaps this can impress upon you how right you are for this particular job.”
The older man inclined his head slightly and his Israeli trained bodyguard stepped out of the corner of the room and handed a manila envelope to the Detective. Robert Fraser sipped his coffee and watched intently as Ray Vecchio opened the folder.
Vecchio was good, but Robert Fraser had been around longer and knew how to find the bodies no matter how deeply buried. He watched with twinkling eyes as the color in Vecchio’s face drained to nothing while his hands sifted through careful documentation and photos.
“Where did you -?”
“Does it really matter? The important thing is that family looks after family. I know how important family is to you Detective. There is no reason anyone else should have to see that file. Is there? ”
The Detective stared at the evidence of one of the worst things he had ever done. Evidence that could send him away for a long time. He had lost this fight without having the chance to even really lace up his gloves. There was nothing left to do, but negotiate the terms of his surrender.
“It’s a green card thing then, no sex.”
“You and my son are adults. Whatever arrangements you make in that regard is between the two of you.”
“Okay, okay, I get it the kid must be some kind of a -”
Robert Fraser’s hand flew up immediately to forestall the rest of that statement.
“Detective, do not let the lack of convention in our arrangement or my reputation lead you to believe that I do not care for my son.”
“Sorry.” Ray slumped a little in his ornately upholstered chair.
“I appreciate that this is a fair amount to digest. Please order whatever you like. If it is not on the menu, I have left instructions for them to make whatever you would like. Enjoy your lunch. Welcome to the family. I will be in touch.”
Robert Fraser rose from the table with the grace of man at complete ease, of a man who ruled destiny and strode out of the dining room with his bodyguard close on his heels.
“Shit, shit, shit -.” Ray groaned as his head dropped to the table.
Benton Fraser stood at the window of the beautifully appointed mahogany paneled study in his Chicago home and tried to remain calm. In the dark cool room, surrounded by the books of his childhood and photos of his mother, grandparents and family friends he could usually find a kind of solace when he needed it. He had received only three days notice about what his father intended him to do. Nerves were not an issue exactly. He hadn’t asked for particulars about the man his father had chosen. His father had certainly vetted the man in question so Benton knew that that his personal safety was not at issue. So that would, should make the rest. Attracting male attention had never been a particular problem for the younger Fraser. It was not something he had ever gone out of his way to garner, and he caught the eye of both men and women more often than made him comfortable.
Pressing his forehead against the window pane, he sighed into the empty room. The suit he wore was custom made by his father’s tailor, flown in specifically three days ago to get new measurements from Benton. The suit had arrived yesterday. It complimented his complexion and his eyes. That’s what Frobisher had said as he'd shown Benton the material. Frobisher then winked at him in a way that had made Benton blush to his hairline. The same tailor made his first real suit for his mother’s funeral many years before. He'd been a solemn boy even in the best of circumstances, but he remembered Frobisher had complimented him on his ability to stand still for so long and had given him smarties. There were other suits for other occasions and Benton suspected that had Robert Fraser not been his father, his suit fittings might have taken a decidedly different turn as got older. The thought elicited a hard shudder from Benton. He shifted and tried to refocus his thoughts on what would happen in less than an hour. Men responded strongly to him, this man more than likely would be easy in that regard. Sexual compatibility was important in a marriage. Benton had read that in a book and he was prepared to do his part, right up until the door to the study opened and the groom made his first appearance.
“Again I apologize for the haste, Judge Carter. But I will be out of the country for an extended period of time and I did not want to miss my son’s wedding to his young man.” His father explained as he stepped through the study door. They had all arrived fairly close together. First Judge Carter, about the same age as Benton’s father, short in stature and nearly completely bald. The elder Fraser arrived in a suit, tailored from the same material as Benton’s, but double-breasted where Benton’s was single.
As his father stepped into the study, Benton stepped forward automatically to shake his hand and then froze in his tracks. His eyes darted past his father to the god standing right behind him. All the calm he’d worked on achieving in the hours before deserted him. Instead of continuing to move toward his father, he faltered.
“Good morning son.” Benton locked his knees against buckling and forced his eyes back to his father’s face. He had never thought his father a cruel man. And even now as he looked at him, he saw no trace of cruelty in his face, but this -." Benton couldn’t help it. His eyes darted back to his groom dressed in a pale olive suit that brought out stunning green eyes above a nose full of character and below a head of close cropped thinning hair. Where others might have seen flaws, Benton saw only peerless beauty. His fingers suddenly itched to touch the man he was to marry, everywhere. And then he looked right into the eyes of the man he had been told was Detective Ray Vecchio and saw what he’d already anticipated staring back at him. The other man looked slightly uncomfortable, but there was no mistaking the lust in his eyes. And the anger. Benton barely knew the man, but he found he could read him, clearly. He saw the man fighting the anger, fighting to keep the smile on his face as his future father-in-law introduced him to the Judge. Benton began to tremble.
Less, than twenty minutes later, with his father actually beaming beside him and his father’s bodyguards as witnesses, Judge Carter pronounced them.
“You may kiss your husband.“ There was a fleeting moment of awkwardness, broken by a hearty laugh from Robert Fraser.
“Go on, boys. Don’t be shy.”
Benton glanced quickly at his father. He never imagined that his wedding day might be one of the more painful days of his life. He turned his eyes back to the man he had just married in time for a quick, chaste peck to land on his cheek.
The touch of the Detective's mouth to his skin was electrifying. His fingers flexed against the urge to grab the other man and kiss him into the next millennium.
“I am sorry son, but I really must go.” The elder Fraser pulled his son into a tight hug. “I do love you Benton.” He stepped back and held his hand out to the Detective who stepped into place beside Benton bristling with energy.
“Welcome to the family Raymond Vecchio. There is nothing more important than family. Take care of my son.” As Ray took a step forward to shake his father-in-law’s hand, Benton was almost singed by the anger/lust combo rolling off of his green eyed groom.
“I will.” He intoned solemnly. And Benton’s stomach flipped.
With his father, bodyguards and judge departed a silence descended on the house. Earlier in the week, in a fit of optimism, Benton had purchased some of the trappings of a proper wedding reception.
He hadn’t known fully what to expect once they were alone. He half expected the man to make immediate demand for his matrimonial rights. Benton had no intention of refusing that request. He’d already made those preparations as well.
As soon as his father and entourage were out of the house, Benton had taken off his jacket lay it along the back of his couch and loosened his tie. Green eyes avidly tracked the movement of his fingers against the silk knot of his tie. Men always made the first overture toward Benton. He could not recall one instance in his life when it had been otherwise. There had been an instance fairly recently when he could have imagined himself making the first overture. He had thought about it quite a bit after the moment passed. And now that he was married that moment was lost to him forever.
Given the silence, Benton found he could think of nothing else, but to offer his slight reception preparation into the tense silence between him and his arranged groom.
“I bought a cake and a bottle of wine I‘m told it is a fine vintage. I do not drink myself, but I thought perhaps…Or if there is something else you would like me to do for you. If there’s some way I can make you more comfortable --.” It was as close as he could come without seeming a whore. He did not want this man to think he was a whore.
Green eyes stared at him intently, before sweeping over his body from head to toe. They lingered long enough on his mouth for Benton to feel compelled to part his lips wantonly and for his tongue to dart out as though seeking to taste. He held his breath waiting for his green eyed groom to follow up on the desire unconcealed in his eyes. Waited, tried not to pant out his answering desire. And then Detective Ray Vecchio did the last thing Benton Fraser expected. He got up and walked out of the house.
Two blocks away from the house he had just gotten married in, Ray Vecchio pulled the Riv off the street into an empty parking lot. He knew how to play the game, but he didn’t think he could do this. He knew that he’d made a stupid move. Robert Fraser could have had someone watching the house. It wouldn't look good that Ray had left the marital residence less than an hour after the exchange of rings. He looked at the band on his finger and didn’t resist the urge to pull it off. Discrete, he thought. He was just being discrete. It wouldn’t do just yet for Welsh or anyone else at the two seven to know.
This wasn’t a turn he’d ever expected his life to take. And the son, the son was tall, fair and gorgeous. Not anything like Ray had expected. He'd half expected that Fraser's son would be in a coma or in some other way impaired. Instead, the guy had politely offered him cake and then seemed to be offering something much hotter. Ray could detect nothing in Robert Fraser's son to suggest that he was an heir apparent or that he had any power. He could have ordered Ray to stay, but he hadn't. At first and second glance there was nothing wrong with Benton Fraser except maybe his name. Maybe he could avoid ever having to say the name, maybe he'd give him a nickname. God, Ray thought as he slammed his palm into the steering wheel. He should have found some way to have Robert Fraser snatched up or killed. He had the resources to have at least made an attempt. With that grim thought, Ray slipped his wedding band into his coat pocket, started the Riv and turned the car in the direction of his mother's home.
Eight weeks later
Benton tried not to have any reaction to the sound of the front door opening and the familiar, but hesitant footfalls of Italian leather shoes across the living room's hard wood floors. He continued to wash the dishes dirtied at breakfast during his father's impromptu visit. Both he and Ray had been caught completely by surprise.
In the weeks following their ceremony, they had fallen into what could best be described as their own dysfunctional routine.
Ray always left the house for work in the morning well before Benton woke. That particular morning, when Ray opened the door to make his early morning getaway, he'd found his father-in-law, with hand raised, prepared to knock on the doorstep. Ray had blanched. badly.
"Hello, Ray how are you this morning?" His father-in-law had asked without missing a beat.
When Ray offered to fetch Benton, the elder Fraser told him that would not be necessary. He gave the same response when Ray offered to stay.
"I understand that crime waits for no man Detective." Then he smirked. Vecchio's blood ran cold.
"Really Sir, it's no problem I can just run upstairs and let uh your son, uh Benton...let Benton know that you're here." And plead with him not to bust me, he thought desperately.
"My understanding is that my son has always gotten up very early, the fact that he's not available now must speak to your talents as a husband." Ray had nothing to say to that so he simply stepped back and allowed the other man into the house. As he stepped out into the chilly morning air, "Stay safe Detective," floated out after him.
A double homicide, two hours into his shift, distracted Ray from trying to figure out how long it would take his father-in-law to either put a hit out on him directly or cause the same to happen by releasing the contents of the manila envelope. At the end of shift, with nothing having yet hit the fan, he considered going to his mother's house where he bunked on the nights he didn't return to Benton Fraser's house. He wasn't that bad a son yet, he mused as his pointed the Riv in the direction of the Fraser house. If something was going to do down it might as well go down where the mess had been made. Perhaps Benny and his father had spent all day digging a hole in the backyard for Ray's body.
“You saved my life.” The voice behind Benton murmured softly, incorrectly.
“No I didn’t,” Benton answered as he turned around to find the Ray standing behind him with his hands jammed in his pockets. The gaze that met Benton’s was more open than it had been in the eight weeks since their ceremony. On those rare occasions when they had been in a room long enough for their eyes to actually meet, Ray never really looked at Benton. But now,
“Yeah, you did. Your old man would have told certain associates of mine things they don’t need to know or he probably woulda put a bullet in my head if you had told him the truth. That I don't spend much time here."
“You're a busy man. My father would never….." Ben protested automatically, out of long habit. The dark look from the other man him shut him up instantly. He turned back to the sink and began to dry the just washed dishes.
That morning, Benton had been stunned to find his father in the kitchen. He had actually been asleep when Ray left for work. In the preceding eight weeks, he'd trained himself out of the habit of awaking early so that he could stay up late into the night in case the Detective came home from work. At first he'd thought that the nature of the man's job had made him an extremely early riser. It was a feat which impressed Benton immensely since he had always risen just ahead of the sun. The fact that his groom never actually made it home from work most nights was closer to the truth.
On the rare nights he did, the younger Fraser made the most of them. Benton listened keenly late at night to him open the oven, and take out the carefully prepared meal left to keep warm. Alone and still in the bed where their marriage remained unconsummated, Benton tracked the man he'd been tied to for the rest of his life. Listening. Listening to him as for ten nights as he managed to find his way quietly to the doorway of the bedroom without ever crossing the threshold. Benton had lain naked and aching beneath the new linens he'd bought for the bed. He'd tried to display himself in as appealing a fashion as possible. On some nights he'd allowed the sheet to barely cover his groin and left his leg cocked in what he hoped spoke of invitation, consent.
Other nights he'd lain in a sprawl on his stomach without any bedclothes to hide his nakedness. He'd listened to Ray Vecchio hesitantly stutter step into the room a couple of times only to hear him eventually turn away. That certainly wasn't information that his father needed to know.
“Your father blackmailed me into marrying you. A guy shows up on your doorstep with a wedding ring and you thought what? Arranged marriage isn't really a big thing here, you know. You can’t be that naïve. You must know what kind of guy he is. What he does.”
"I-, when I was younger he wasn’t around very much, it was easier to pretend that he was doing great things. That he was someone else."
“I bet it get's a little bit harder to pretend when he buys you a husband. Still, I owe you.”
“I am sorry,” Benton replied softly. He hoped that the Detective could feel the full measure of his sorrow.
Ray shrugged and made himself comfortable at the perfectly set dinner table. The table was always perfectly set, perfectly matched flatware, bone china. Always with an empty wine glass and a good vintage at Ray's place setting.
“It’s my own fault. I been a bad guy for a lotta years.” A wry smile crossed his lips as he rolled up the sleeves of his erratically patterned green and blue silk shirt.
Benton dried his hands on a dishtowel and turned off the oven. “You’re not.”
“I got blackmailed into marriage. That doesn’t usually happen to good people.”
Benton smiled in spite of himself. They were having an actual conversation. There was no reason to ruin it by pretending the marriage hadn’t been arranged.
“No, I suppose not. Dinner is finished. Would you like to eat now or shall I put it in the oven for later?”
At the table, Ray ducked his head sheepishly. "Sorry 'bout that."
"I know that you've taken my suits to the cleaners. Somehow you managed to get the blood out of my Ferragomos and - ."
"Really, I -." Benton had done both of those things and it embarrassed him to have it pointed out. If the Detective didn't want to sleep with him, and it was more than clear that he didn't, Benton needed to fulfill some part of his marital duty.
"Have you eaten?" Vecchio asked as he loosened his tie. It didn't look like he was going to die tonight, so he allowed the tensions of the day to ease away. He uncorked the wine and poured.
"Eat with me."
A frisson of excitement ran through Benton. "Alright. I'll just, um let me. Okay."
A frown creased the Detective's face as he watched Robert Fraser's son flick his thumb across his eyebrow nervously and shift his weight from one foot to the other.
"I'm sorry, if you don't want to, I mean I haven't been exactly you know."
"No, no. I would enjoy the opportunity to share a meal with you. I hope you like it."
“You’re a great cook. It smells great. I can't imagine I wouldn't like anything you make."
The praise overwhelmed Benton. Grabbing, potholders he covered with the business of getting dinner on the table. His hands shook ever so slightly as he retrieved the dinner salad from the refrigerator and the casserole dish from the oven and placed both in the center of the table.
" I really hope you like it."
Leaning forward, Ray lifted the lid on the casserole dish. "Lasagna? You made lasagna? Ah, it smells soooo good."
He scooped out a generous helping.
"You don't mind, he asked as he stabbed his fork into the steaming concoction of beef, cheese and pasta.
"No it's quite alright," Benton answered as he continued to serve himself.
"This is my favorite, ” Ray exclaimed as he eagerly put a forkful in his mouth.
“I know.” Benton was unable to hide a pleased smile.
“How do you know?”
“I called your mother.”
It took quite a bit for the Detective not to spit his food across the table. Benton tried and failed to contain his laugh. Swallowing fast, Ray's eyes flashed at the man opposite him at the table.
“You did what?”
“I was discrete. I didn’t tell her who I was. I simply told her I was a colleague and that we were thinking of throwing a party for you.”
“You lied to my mother.”
“Would you have preferred that I tell her the truth?”
“I would have preferred that you not tell her anything. That you not talk to her at all,” Ray growled low and dangerous.
“I was simply trying to be a good husband.”
And that deflated Ray immediately. Because there was nothing about this son of an alleged crime boss to suggest otherwise. Vecchio reminded himself , that like a perfect 'mob' wife Benton had remained loyal to him when he could have gotten him hurt, was apparently trying to take care of him.
“Yeah, okay. Okay. I'm sorry. Ma, god. I think this might be better than hers.”
“Thank you Ray.” With the smile back on Benton's face, Ray felt the stirring below his belt he'd successfully ignored for two months with the help of cold showers.
“Where did you learn to cook like this?” Ray asked around another mouthful.
“I have had a rather eclectic, primarily rural upbringing.”
“You’re nothing like your father.”
“I was raised by my mother and her friend Quinn.”
“How exactly did this happen?”
“Well of course there was a trip to the market down on –.”
“No, no. This. Why aren’t you with someone? You’re gorgeous. I mean you must know. You keep a home to rival my Ma's. I should be tripping over ten guys trying to get through the front door, every night. How is it that your father has to buy you a husband? How is it that you aren't fighting this?”
“I, I made a rather poor choice a some years ago. It didn’t leave my father with a favorable impression of my decision-making skills.”
Benton put his fork down carefully on the table. He hadn't expected to have this conversation tonight, or ever. The blackmailed man's previous inattention never suggested he would ever have any interest in Benton's past or his lovers.
“Two years. Victor Metcalf and I were together for two years. And I think he loved me, in his own way of course.”
Ray hunched forward. “What way was that exactly?”
“He, um. He lead me to believe that he had no idea who Robert Fraser or more specifically who I was with regard to Robert Fraser when in fact, he had quite an elaborate plan to steal money from my father.”
“A long con.”
“I beg your pardon.”
“It’s called a long con. Get in, stay in, win trust, then take everything you can get.”
“Yes, Victor was very good at the...long con. He -.” Enough time has passed for the ache to be dull, but sometimes like now, Benton felt the blow of discovering Victor's betrayal as keenly as he had that first moment. It had left him hollowed out, until ten weeks ago.
“I didn't mean to bring up bad memories.”
“Would you like another helping. I made enough for you to take to work and share with your co-workers if you like.”
“No. I’m about to burst as it is. Really this was great. All the other dinners have been great too. I‘m sorry I haven‘t told you that before. I'm sorry that I don't come home at night.”
“Well I’ll just get the dishes.
"You haven't eaten anything.”
“I nibbled while I was preparing dinner and I had a rather large breakfast with my father. I am really quite full. I was simply eager for your reaction to the lasagna."
"Okay, I’ll help you load the dishwasher.”
“I enjoy doing them by hand.”
“Then I’ll help.”
“Let me help. Please. I know you haven‘t been able to tell over the last couple of months but I was actually raised better. My ma would be ashamed of the way I've abused your hospitality.”
Benton glanced up from the dishes in his hands to the Detective focused on him in a way the other man hadn’t been since the marriage ceremony. There was the unacted upon desire in the other man‘s eyes, but there was something else there that devastated. Concern was in place of the checked anger of the wedding day, concern for him. Something he never expected he would see. His stomach clenched and the plates bobbled in his hand.
“Here let me take those.”
Benton stared dumbly at his hands, rooted to the spot as Ray stepped into his personal space and carefully took the plates and glasses out of his hands.
He realized his experiences with the lust/concern combination was not nearly as keen as it took more than a few moments for him to realize that the Detective had already stepped past him and had begun to run water in the sink.
Benton listened to the splash of the water and the clink of the dishes and tried to will himself to turn around. To stick his hands in the soapy water with Ray’s and perhaps get to touch his groom for the first time since the wedding ceremony.
“Are you alright?” Ray’s warm breath on his neck caused him to shiver again. Ray’s hand pressed lightly against his shoulder and the heat of it seared him.
“No,” Benton gasped as he turned to face the Detective, “I don’t think that I am.” Ray’s hand traveled the short distance from Benton’s shoulder to the nape of his neck and his eyes lingered for the briefest of heart stopping moments on Benton’s.
"Benny," Ray murmured and watched as the other man's pupils dilated. "You like that? You like Benny, the name of a temptation, Benny," Ray whispered as he moved to inches away from the other man's lips. "Benny," Ray whispered one last time as he wrapped his arm are around Benton's waist and pressed his mouth to the soft inviting in front of him. There was no hesitation as Benton's arms encircled Ray and held him tightly. Ray's tongue sought entrance and Benton opened to him immediately. His tongue danced with Ray's reveling in the taste of Ray's favorite meal. His arousal ratcheted up as Ray pulled their bodies closer. Their panting reverberated off the kitchen walls.
At last they were touching, kissing Benton's knees nearly buckled with the relief of it. Then suddenly, Ray pulled away from him. Absently, the Detective pulled at his clothes trying to straighten them. What had he been thinking? There was no way that he could do this. With one last look at the flushed aroused man in front of him, Ray Vecchio fled the kitchen.
Benton lay on the bed fully clothed and listened to the sound of the Buick Rivera’s engine through the open bedroom window. The cold air through the window had done nothing to quell the hurt of hours before. He listened to the car idle for a few minutes and then listened to the silence it left behind after the engine suddenly shut off. And then he waited for the sound of the front door opening. Several minutes passed. The front door did not open.
He had thought once when he was much younger, to be a Mountie. An RCMP dress uniform that he bought years ago was stored in a trunk at the foot of the bed. Occasionally, in the years since the uniform’s purchase he had taken it carefully out of storage and worn it in the privacy of his home. Perhaps, he thought in despair, Ray Vecchio would find him harder to walk away from if he, at least on the outside, was a brother in arms. He sat up, stared at the trunk and considered.
At first, he was afraid that Ray wouldn't unlock the car door. He pulled his winter coat more tightly around his body and waited. The Chicago winters were nothing compared to the winters where'd he'd grown up in the North West Territories, but he couldn't seem to stop shivering. He hoped Ray relented soon.
The passenger side door popped open. Benton clambered into the car gratefully. He spared a quick glance at the Detective, who didn't look at him. He faced forward the same as the other man. They had made tremendous progress in the kitchen earlier and there was no part of Benton that could let that go. If he had never touched the Detective there might have been a chance, but now -.
“I know that you watch me at night. The nights that you do come home. I know." He didn't falter at the sharp inhale from the driver's seat. "I know that you want me. And I wanted you too. Want you, so I don’t understand…”
Harsh, broken laughter suddenly filled the car.
“I’m dirty. So very dirty," the Detective ground out. "For the first time in a long time I wish I was clean. That’s what you should have, someone clean. I’m too dirty for you Benny. I’ve done terrible things. I have blood on my hands. Actual blood. And you, you have no idea how beautiful you are. How incredible you are. How good you are. How much more you deserve than some cop on the take. How much more you deserve than a father that would do this to you. You're so perfect. I don’t want to do this to you.”
Benton swallowed hard and spoke a truth he had never fully acknowledged until now.
“Perfect? I am the son of a man who does terrible things. I benefit from those things. My education, my food, the clothing on my back, the places I’ve lived, my husband. I have never made my own living. I’ve never been man enough to walk away. I’ve never had the courage to be anyone other than Robert Fraser’s son. Victor hurt me very deeply and I think …there was a car accident and I think, well I am not entirely certain it was an accident. But I have never asked my father. I’m a coward Ray. I have always been a coward.”
A tear slid down Benton’s cheek and before he had the chance to wipe it away, there was warmth on the side of his face as Ray brushed it away with the back of his hand. He leaned into the touch which caused Ray to turn his hand palm up.
"This is my fault. This is all my fault," he moaned.
"How can this be your fault?" Ray asked as he undid his seatbelt and shifted closer to the passenger side.
This time it was Benton's pained laugh that filled the car. "I am so sorry. I had no idea he would do this. I should have known, but I never would have thought. I thought perhaps, after all these years he was punishing me for Victor."
"Just tell me what you think you've done."
"My father asked me to accompany him on an errand. It isn't something he normally does and I figured he was, ah multitasking. Seeing me while conducting business. We were in the car, a limousine actually, parked outside the courthouse. He was on the phone and I wasn't really listening to him. His car windows are tinted quite dark and so I watched the people passing by, maybe wondering what it would be like to be someone else and I saw a man. He moved with such confidence and grace, so well put together. An original face, a face with character. So beautiful. I didn't hear my father complete his phone conversation. I don't know how long he watched me...watching you."
He expected Ray's hand to drop away but it didn't. "Did you ask your father to come after me?"
"Of course not, no," came the adamant reply, "of course not. But neither did I, when you walked into the study that day, tell him I wouldn't go through with it."
"You're a coward. I'm still dirty. I still did things that made it possible for your father to put us in this situation. All you did was appreciate how good I look in a suit."
“Maybe”, the younger Fraser smiled sadly, unable to stop himself from pressing more against the soft leather of Ray’s gloved palm, into the comfort that remained, “if we make a true effort, together, maybe we can figure out a way to get you clean, maybe I can figure out a way to be my own man.”
Benton inhaled sharply as Ray’s hand drifted from his cheek to stroke across the small patch of exposed skin in the v of his coat.
“Please kiss me,” Benton breathed out. The words were barely out of his mouth before Ray’s weight was pressed against him, pressed on top of him, resuming the kiss in the kitchen. The passion of the kiss burned Benton to his core. He closed his eyes and pressed his fingers to the buttons of Ray's coat. Finally he would be allowed to touch. In answer, Ray's hands slipped under his coat and anchored themselves on his hips. His thumbs found there way just inside the sides Benton's waistband and stroked.
On the verge of giving his entire self up to the passion, the physical heat suddenly disappeared allowing the chilly Chicago air to jerk Benton against his will, back into the reality of the car parked in the driveway.
His eyes fluttered open and found Ray again fully seated on the driver's side panting. The color in his cheeks was high and his coat and shirt were undone nearly to the navel. Benton stared down at his own hands, not remembering having done that.
“Ray?” Ben tried not to let the full measure of his bewilderment bleed through, but he didn't think that he could bear a repeat of the kitchen.
“Ray, please,” he implored quietly, “please don’t stop. Not now, please.” He watched warily as Ray reached forward and clasped his hands firmly around the steering wheel, instead of around Ben’s hips.
“I can’t Benny. I really can’t do this.”
And it was all there in Benton’s voice. He couldn't help it. The pain ran too deep. In those moments of watching Ray on the street he'd imagined a lifetime with him. To have Ray walk through the study eight weeks ago destroyed the fantasy. To have Ray kiss him in the kitchen had given him hope that he was unprepared to have dashed. He wasn't going to give Ray Vecchio back.
Ray’s head jerked toward him and the hunger on his face startled Benton breathless.
“Oh no, no. Benny. That’s not what I meant,” Ray’s murmured softly as he lifted one of his hands from the steering wheel and brought it down to stroke Ben’s thigh.
"This marriage has already been done wrong, I want to at least get this one thing right. I want to do this properly, in a bed. In the bed upstairs, our bed. I want to feel your skin, skin to skin not through gloves and naked. If we get naked in this car we'll probably turn into icicles.”
Ben thought as he felt tears well in his eyes, in Ray’s words he heard a life promise.
“Yes, of course Ray.” He scrabbled for the door handle and flung open the door as Ray did the same. Laughing, they both scrambled for the front door.
In the room that was finally to become theirs, Ben held his breath at the hesitation in Ray’s hands. They stuttered across his bare chest.
“Ray?” He asked gently.
“If we, if we do this, really do this, consummate this marriage, I need you to be sure. We will be married. You will be my husband. No going back, ever. Vecchio’s don’t get divorced. We stay in 'til the bitter death do us part end. I will never let you go.”
“Then you will have no objection to me changing my name.”
“Benton, Ben Vecchio. I’d like to change my name legally to Ben Vecchio.”
Benton wished instantly that he could take the declaration back, simply to say Ben Vecchio again and watch the intense emotion on Ray’s face give way again to the sun rivaling smile.
“When was the last time you uh -?"
"With Victor, ten, ten years ago."
"Oh God," Ray kissed him. "I know that it shouldn't, but that turns me on so much." His kisses rained across Benton's face as Ray's hands lost their stutter on his body.
"I'm glad I turn you on. Sexual compatibility is very important in a marriage."
"You have what we need?” Ray husked in his ear.
Benton glanced to the nightstand and smiled wickedly.
“Yes, Ray. My hope did spring eternal.”
Ray laughed. "On the bed." Benton complied eagerly to his husband's command. He assumed the position he'd taken on those nights that had ended futilely. With arms over his head, his leg cocked, and his aroused boxer clad manhood on full display, he blatantly invited. Watched with pleasure as Ray licked his lips before lowering himself to the bed.
"You usually had on fewer clothes when I saw you like this."
"Is that how you would like me now? With fewer clothes."
Ray swallowed hard. "Yeah, that's what I'd like." Benton shifted up and shimmied out of his underwear. Ray groaned as his soon to be lover's erection sprang free. At the reveal of all that smooth pale skin, finally truly his for the taking. Unable to resist the urge to touch, his fingers reached for Benton and stroked. "Caro, Benny."
Arching into the touch, Benton managed to gasp out. "Take off your underwear Ray, let me see you.
I want -."
"I know, I know caro.." Using his free hand, Ray pushed himself out of his boxer briefs and on top of the man he'd married. Reaching toward the nightstand, Ray managed to retrieve what he assumed was lube. He didn’t' t recognize the packaging, but it was the only thing he could feel in the drawer. There were no condoms.
"Benny, I thought you said...."
"My father checked you out thoroughly. He would have said something if -."
"How do you know I haven't been with someone since we got married?"
"No, but -."
"Would you prefer we use prophylactics."
"Then make love to me. Please. Let me feel you, all of you."
With shaking hands, Ray prepared them both gently, tenderly. He had never been like this with a man before, never really wanted to be. He'd meant what he'd said eight weeks ago to Robert Fraser, but eight weeks ago he'd never met a man like Benton Fraser. A man who knew the worst of him and still wanted him. And he guessed maybe that was the way it should be. That it should be different with a husband. He watched with avid interest the emotion that flickered across his husband's face. Wondered for the briefest of instances if this was what Robert Fraser had truly intended for his son. Then said son drew his knees nearly to his chest, spreading himself.
"Please, Ray I'm ready."
Ray sank into the tight heat slowly, inch by inch until they were fully joined. "Are you okay?"
"Yes," Benton gasped. "Yes. Take me, please take me." Blunted nails dug into Ray's back and he began to move slowly in and out, in and out. Shifted angles which elicited low dirty growls of pleasure from both of them. All the while their eyes were open, staring into each other's. Panted out words of desire, words that were almost love flowed into the what little space there was between them until they both came a fraction of a second apart from each other.
Spent, Ray pulled as gently as he could out of his husband and collapsed beside him on the bed. They sought each other's hands and held on tightly as they both came down from their climax.
"Mr. Vecchio," Ray asked drowsily as he squeezed the hand wrapped tightly around his.
"Yes," Benton affirmed as he rolled toward his husband and propped himself up enough to place a kiss on his mouth, before letting his head find its place against Ray's heart.