My Lyric Wheel story for the TwoAxes May Flowers challenge, PG-13 F/V slash. Thanks again to Jatona for the lyric, which follows.

Stupid
by Laura Mason

"Hey! HEY!!! Argrh!" He'd moved too sharply, for the chair rocked and almost toppled.

"Ray, exhausting yourself is not the answer."

"You've been fiddling with your wrists for two hours, now. That's not the answer, either."

He'd hit home. Ray could tell by the way Fraser's lips pressed together in a sulky pout. Silence for a moment, then Ray shouted again. Fraser jumped, and though he contained it for a moment, his almost-annoyed tone spoke volumes.

"This is an abandoned building in an empty industrial park. We're in a sub-basement. Who do you suppose will hear your cries?"

"I guess I shouldn't do anything, right? Just wait for the big, brave heroic Mountie to rescue me? Ha! I ain't some damsel in distress, and you've gotta stop believing your own press, Fraser."

"Benny."

"What?"

"You used to... You haven't... Why am I always Fraser, now, Ray? Why are you always so angry?"

"Benny, we're gonna die here. Another hour and the bomb's gonna blow, and Frye will collect his insurance money 'cause no one will ever find us here under all the rubble -- or by the time they do, he'll be in South America with his millions. And ya know, while this is practically an every day occurrence in my life now, before you came to Chicago, no one had ever tried to blow me up. So I'm a little testy, okay?!"

Silence, Fraser's arms moving steadily, sawing at the ropes holding his wrists behind his chair. Ray was too tired to even yell again.

"It's true we're in a life-threatening situation this afternoon, Ray, though I believe Diefenbaker will bring help eventually. But your anger..." He trailed off, then Ray saw the stubborn determination push him to continue. "I feel it even when we're not in such mortal danger. You've been angry for a long time, and while I hoped... well, it doesn't seem to be lessening with time. So I thought, perhaps while we're here and I endeavor to break these bonds, we could discuss whatever is bothering you, Ray."

"It's not important."

"It is very important to me Ray, for it affects our friendship, which is something I highly value."

Ray's head dropped forward. Fraser's honesty was gonna kill him one of these days. He'd just keel over from the sheer weight of so much simple-minded Mountie goodness.

"Ah, Benny -- I know I'm being unfair and taking things out on you that really aren't your fault. You saw the connection between the arson cases and Frye's holding companies, but I know it's not your fault he caught us. I picked that spot for our surveillance, and I never realized he'd be able to see us there from the lake. Hell, I didn't even know he had a boat."

"While it's very generous of you to shoulder part of the responsibility for our current situation, Ray -- and completely unnecessary as well, since neither of us could have known about an unregistered smuggling boat Mr. Frye has been using on the Great Lakes to supplement his arson income with drug money -- and I must say he's truly what I believe you've referred to in the past as a low-life--"

"There was a point somewhere, Benny."

"Well, Ray, it doesn't truly address my concern with this anger which you've been expressing for months now. Since the encounter with the Bolt Brothers, or perhaps even before that case. I don't mean to imply that you're constantly angry, of course. At times you're as cordial as ever, Ray, and I hope you know how much I value all your assistance with transportation and the many times you've welcomed me into your family dinners, as well as allowing me to participate in genuine police work with you."

"Benny, shut up," Ray said in the weariest voice imaginable. "I don't "let" you participate -- I need you -- er, your help. If I wasn't smart enough to know that, Welsh would probably order me to involve you." He looked over at Fraser's shoulders, steadily moving. But slower now, too. "How're you doing on the ropes?"

"Not well, I'm afraid. This is taking much longer than I anticipated, Ray. The rope cannot contain pure nylon fibers..."

"Yeah. Doesn't look good, does it?" Ray looked away before continuing, unable to meet Fraser's eyes while he said this. "I have been angry, and I guess I owe you an apology for that before we die here, Benny. An explanation, too. I've been holding something against you that was never your fault at all. I was stupid, and that's my flaw, not yours. It's just that sometimes ... when I see you, it reminds me how stupid I was. And I get mad."

"I certainly understand that no one enjoys feeling that way, Ray."

"No, but I shouldn't take it out on you. I'm sorry."

"Apology accepted, Ray. In fact, I've always felt that our friendship was such that apologies are not necessary between us."

"That's great, Benny." Ray twitched, then laughed. "I wanted to shake your hand, and I forgot our hands are otherwise occupied."

Fraser only looked confused by that, and there was silence once more. Only the faint noise of his relentless sawing at the ropes filled the dank air around them.

Then it came time for the other shoe to drop. Of course.

"Ray? Do you think... Could you please tell me exactly what happened?"

"Did Frye's goons knock you in the head, Benny? Can't you remember?"

"I wasn't referring to our capture, Ray. I'd like to know what happened that wasn't my fault but makes you feel so bad you've remained angry for almost two years now."

"Why does it matter now?"

"Well, I'm curious by nature, and mysteries annoy me. And perhaps my perspective could help you in return, Ray. You may have been feeling badly for no good reason, and a fresh perspective could show you that the behavior you thought unintelligent was actually quite reasonable. Perhaps even wise. I've often found you don't see yourself as clearly as others do, Ray, and I feel certain that's true in this case."

"Nah, Benny. Not this time. I really was being an idiot. A stupid idiot."

"It sounds to me as if you're hearing the voice of your father, Ray, telling you that your endeavors will be unsuccessful due to some failing of yours. But that's simply not true."

"Benny, I got us into this mess."

"We both made errors, Ray, though I would attribute this situation to bad luck which neither of us could have prevented. And such statements only convince me that you need to hear an objective point of view regarding your situation."

"Fine."

"And now you're angry again."

"Benny, I can't talk about this. It's just impossible, okay?" Silence. A long, uncomfortable, heavy silence. "It's really killing you not to know, isn't it? Even though we're gonna be dead in an hour or two, this is pissing you off." Continued silence, and when Ray snuck a glance to his left, Fraser wouldn't even look back at him.

"Okay, let my humiliation be complete before I die. Maybe this can be my penance, I'll confess to you and see if it means I'll get Purgatory instead of going straight to hell.

"It happened the day after you came over to help me move the pool table. That morning someone left a flower on the front porch, on the mat in front of the door. I found it when I got the <i>Trib</I>.

"It was probably for Frannie, I knew that even then. A tribute from some poor love-struck schmuck who didn't know she was in Florida that week. But there were a few minutes, there, where I thought it was for me."

Fraser started to open his mouth, but Ray interrupted immediately. "Just let me finish, okay? It wasn't red -- every married guy knows what red roses are about. But it was pinkish, maybe peach -- and I thought maybe that meant there was a chance for love, like love could develop. A friendship could deepen into love.

"That's what it was, Benny. That I was stupid enough to think that rose was meant for me. Didn't take long for me to see just how ridiculous I'd been. I only had to visit you when you called in sick to see how things really stood. I knew right away, even before you blew me off Friday night.

"And it's not that I can't forgive you -- I can't forgive myself for being so presumptuous and foolish and ... just stupid. Like I said."

Silence yet again, and when Ray looks over, Fraser's arms are still moving but his face is creased with confusion.

"That's very interesting, Ray, but I don't really understand..."

"God, no. Don't do this to me, Benny!"

"Well, I mean the words make sense, but the connection between the first part of your story, finding the rose and hoping it meant something, and the last part -- coming to find me with... her... I'm afraid the connection..." He trailed off, exuding innocent Canadian-ness, and Ray groaned.

"See, this is why I didn't want to tell you! And now I have to spell it out, right, 'cause I was so stupid and yet you didn't even have a clue, not once, not ever, that I go climbing into sewers for you and get locked in freezers for you and throw myself in front of bullets for you because I love you, you stupid Canadian lug, and you still don't understand that I wanted to think you could love me back and--"

With a twist of his shoulders and a grimace, Fraser pulled his left hand out of the ropes holding it, revealing a bloody wrist. He stood up and freed his right hand, while Ray sat in horrified silence, wondering if the Mountie would just leave him here to be blown up after what he'd said.

"Ray, I believe I can hear Diefenbaker barking outside. We should start moving, so we don't endanger any of our rescuers. I'm not certain how much time is left," he continued, walking toward the chair where Ray was still pinned. He felt very trapped as Fraser loomed over him and pulled out his pocket knife.

Instead of walking behind him, Fraser reached around him to cut the ropes, and it seemed to take a very long time for him to do so, too. Ray closed his eyes, inhaling the smell of Fraser, his sweat and shampoo and the wool of his tunic.

Then his numbed hands were free, dropping heavily to his side. But Fraser didn't step back. He stayed right there, his hands deftly closing the knife, then clamping on Ray's upper arms to pull him to his feet.

"We really have to leave right now," he said in an almost-whisper. Then a hot, sweet mouth closed over Ray's as those strong arms pulled him closer.

He couldn't judge how long the kiss lasted, though he was dizzy and breathless by the time Fraser pulled back, a smile on lush red lips and a glint in his eyes.

"It was peach, Ray. Some day I'll explain just why I chose that color."

And the man Ray loved closed a strong hand around his and led him up the stairs, into the light of a brand new world.

 

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Thanks to Jatona for the following lyric.

Flowers

There might have been some doubt
And so I had to find out - if you were the one who sent those flowers.
But you don't have to say it;
I see it in your eyes
It wasn't you - I guess I'm not surprised.
I don't know why I asked, I should have known.

Chorus:
For now that she's around, you don't see anything else
And the world has slipped away, you have slipped away.
Well I'm just glad you've found the one that makes you happy.
And as for me, I'll get along OK - I'm OK.

I guess I should have known;
But when I'm all alone - I dare to hope you might have changed your mind.
I know I can't compare, I just don't have her style
And you need someone to give you what I can't supply.
I don't know why I asked, I should have known.

Chorus:
For now that she's around, you don't see anything else
And the world has slipped away, you have slipped away.
Well I'm just glad you've found the one that makes you happy.
And as for me, I'll get along OK - I'm OK.I'm OK.