Disclaimer: Characters belong to Alliance, not to me. I don't make any money from this story.

Note: This is a 'what if' story. Not exactly an Alternate Universe, it's my take on what might have happened if, after Fraser hit Ray during 'Mountie On The Bounty', the dead pirate had not fallen on Ray's car, and he and Fraser accepted their respective transfers.

Mountie Not On The Bounty by Iris Gray

Benton Fraser looked around at the tiny office that had been his home for the past year. He supposed he should feel something, but he wasn't sure what, exactly.

Two days ago he and Ray Kowalski had ended their partnership. Ray had struck him, then he had insisted that Fraser strike him in return. So Fraser had done so, then Ray had driven him back here and said "Nice workin' with ya." Then he had driven away, out of Fraser's life for good. He was also going to transfer, to a different precinct, where he no longer had to pretend to be Ray Vecchio.

Fraser had said his goodbyes to everyone at the precinct, even searching for Elaine and finding her at her new post at another precinct. Francesca had cried, and Diefenbaker had licked her face. Fraser had asked Frannie to give a message to her brother — her real brother — when he returned, telling him where Fraser could be contacted in Canada.

He had said goodbye to Jack Huey, telling him once more how sorry he was that he had been unable to reach Louis Gardino in time to prevent his being caught in the explosion that had killed him. He didn't know Tom Dewey well, but he had wished him luck in his new position. Finally he had said goodbye to Lt. Welsh, who had shaken his hand and thanked him for all the work he had done for the 27th for the last three years.

All the while that Fraser was saying goodbye to the people at the 27th precinct, the ones who had been his friends, Ray Kowalski had just stood there, his arms folded across his chest, staring into space. Apparently he had refused a farewell party.

Ben did not know why Ray was so angry at him. It seemed he had done something to upset his partner, but he had no idea what. That was Benton Fraser, Mister Clueless. Good at hunting down and apprehending suspects, but a failure at anything resembling a personal life. He sighed.

He had few possessions. Everything he owned had been destroyed in the arson fire at his old apartment. He had some clothes, a spare uniform, a few books. And one small postcard, his most prized possession: all he had of Ray Vecchio.

Turnbull entered the office. "Are you finished packing, sir?" he asked. "I don't want to rush you, but the Inspector sent me to ask."

"Essentially, Turnbull, yes. I will be remaining here one more night and catching a flight to Ottawa in the morning."

"It's been good working with you, sir. I hope I can live up to your example one day," said Turnbull.

"Thank you, Turnbull," said Fraser. "I have enjoyed working with you also."

Turnbull offered his hand to Fraser. "Bonne chance, mon ami," he said. Ben smiled. Turnbull's French was improving.

"Merci, Constable. Au revoir."

Turnbull turned to leave, then hesitated. "Is it really, sir?" he asked.

"Really what, Turnbull?"

"Really 'au revoir.' You know that means ''till I see you again' — well, not literally, but..."

"I take your meaning, Constable," Ben sighed. "All I can say is, I really don't know."

"Understood, sir," replied the younger Mountie. "A demain."

"Until tomorrow, Turnbull," said Fraser, and returned to his packing. He was unaware that someone else had entered the office until that person spoke.

"So you really don't know if you're coming back, Fraser?" asked Ray Kowalski, sarcasm in his voice.

Ben turned and saw his ex-partner leaning on the door frame. He tensed and braced himself. "Hello, Ray. What are you doing here?"

"Came to say goodbye to ya," the detective responded.

"I thought we had already said our goodbyes."

"Nah, that wasn't goodbye. That was us poppin' each other in the face," said Ray.

"Oh." Fraser reminded himself not to show any feelings. He had known that Ray Kowalski would leave eventually, the way everyone else in his life had left him. Perhaps he had inadvertently encouraged Ray to leave with his behaviour — pushing his partner away before he got too close. But it had turned out the same, in the end. "Well, then, goodbye, Ray. I am glad we had a chance to work together, however briefly." He offered Ray his hand, but the detective ignored it.

"Fraser, is that all you're going to say? Just, 'nice knowin' ya, Ray, see ya around'? We were partners, Fraser. Don't you think that's worth fighting for? Or didn't our partnership mean anything to you?" Kowalski was definitely angry.

Oh Ray, it meant more to me than you will ever know. And that is why I must leave. You must never know how I truly feel about you. Ben felt suddenly drained. The events of the last two days must have caught up with him. He sat on his cot and put his head in his hands. "What do you want from me, Ray?" he asked in a tired voice.

"The truth, Fraser," Ray replied.

Benton raised his head and looked at Ray, his expression carefully neutral."I am sorry, Ray, but I don't understand what you mean."

Ray turned and struck the wall in frustration. The walls at the consulate were stronger than the walls at the precinct, however, and his hand met with more resistance than it had the times he had punched walls at the 27th.

"Ow!" Ray exclaimed. He swore under his breath. "Dammit, Fraser, stop playing the innocent with me. You know what I'm talking about. I may be damaged" — he tapped his head &mdash "but I ain't stupid. I'm talking about us. You an' me. We were partners — friends. And then what happened? Suddenly we're fighting all the time. What changed? What aren't you telling me?"

What changed is that I fell in love with you, Ray, Fraser said in his head. "I don't know, Ray," is what he said out loud.

Ray sighed. He didn't believe Fraser, but he chose not to pursue it for the moment."Listen, it ain't entirely your fault. I tried to push you away. I could feel us getting close, like when we had that thing with bodyguarding Stella, and when you gave me asylum, even that time in the crypt when you said I was attractive." He smiled slightly at the memory.

"I started thinking that, hey, maybe my life didn't end when Stella left me. Maybe I could make a new start, even if it is under somebody else's name. I got this new partner, and he seems to think somethin' of me. Even wants to be my friend. And maybe we could even be more than friends, one day. And then I got scared, 'cause, you know, I thought I had it all with Stella, and then one day, boom! She didn't want me anymore. I was afraid you would do the same, so I started pushin' you, and I hoped you would push back, not let me get away with it. But I guess I was right. You're doing just what Stella did."

Fraser stared at Kowalski. He was at a loss for words. Did Ray really want to be 'more than friends', as he had put it? Did he have a chance with Ray after all?

Kowalski must have misinterpreted his silence, however, because he was on his way out of the office. "Ray!" Fraser exclaimed.

Ray stopped. He had never heard Fraser put so much feeling into his name before. "Uh, yeah, Frase? What is it?" His heart was pounding so hard he was certain Fraser must be able to hear it.

"Don't go, Ray. Please. I owe you an explanation. Will you listen to me?"

"All right," said the detective, a touch of skepticism in his voice. He perched on the edge of Fraser's desk. "What's yer explanation?"

Ben got up and paced around the small room. He rubbed one eyebrow as he began to speak. "I have walls, Ray. Walls that have been erected over many years to keep people out so that they do not have a chance to hurt me. The few times I have allowed someone to get past these walls, it has ended badly. Everyone I have cared for, it seems, has left me, the latest being Ray Vecchio.

"Then when I met you, it was as if you didn't even notice the walls were there, because you pushed your way right through them as if they didn't exist. And I found that I was falling in love with you, Ray. It frightened me. I was afraid you would leave as well. In fact, I tried to force you to leave me, and when it didn't look as though you were going to, I chose to leave instead, before you got too close."

Suddenly, astonishingly, Ray laughed. "Oh, Fraser, we make a perfect pair! I tried to force ya to leave me, an' you tried to force me to leave you. What do ya say we prove each other wrong, and stay put?"

Fraser swallowed the lump in his throat and rubbed his eyebrow again. "I would like that very much, Ray," he said.

Ray crossed the room in a single stride and took his partner into his arms. Their mouths closed on each other and they were kissing, hard, each afraid to let the other go for a single second. Then a voice interrupted.

"Constable Fraser!"

"Ice Queen," Ray mouthed silently.

The two men moved apart. "Yes, sir?" asked Fraser, as innocently as he could manage.

Inspector Meg Thatcher studied her deputy liaison officer and his American partner. "Does this mean you aren't taking that transfer after all?" she asked.

"Er, yes, sir. I mean, no, sir. I mean, I'm staying in Chicago, sir," stammered Fraser.

Thatcher smiled. "Good. Carry on, gentlemen. Don't wait up for me, Fraser. I have a date tonight." She turned to leave, then added, "And Fraser, I suggest that you get a lock for this door." She sashayed away, leaving Ray and Ben staring after her, open-mouthed.

Ray turned to his partner. "Speaking of dates..." he said suggestively.

"You have something in mind, Ray?

"I thought we could have dinner, and then maybe we could head back to my place for dessert," answered Kowalski.

"May I make a suggestion?" asked the Mountie. "Why don't we go to your place first, and order dinner in?"

"That sounds logical to me," Ray answered.

Fraser smiled. "I'm operating purely on instinct right now, Ray. Logic has nothing to do with it. Let's go."

"Best suggestion I've heard all day, Benton-Buddy. Pitter patter, let's get at 'er." He took Fraser's hand, and they headed out, toward their new life together.