Author's note: I stole the "cops trapped in a basement" idea from an episode of Third Watch. Needless to say, this story turned out rather differently than the Third Watch story.

'How do I let myself get into these things?' Ray Vecchio wondered as he sat on the floor in a cold, dark basement next to Fraser. The two had been chasing some young men who had stolen a woman's purse, and had followed them into this basement. Obviously the youngsters knew this place, because somehow they'd managed to double back and get around Ray and Fraser, making it outside and locking the door behind them. Now the cop and the Mountie were trapped.

Ray tried his cell phone again and cursed. The battery was dead. Why hadn't he noticed the dead battery earlier? Now they had no way to tell anyone where they were. He'd tried shooting the lock off the door. That had worked, but the door was still stuck firmly. Apparently the kids had shoved something in front of it. Ray shivered.

"Are you cold, Ray?" asked Benny.

"Yeah, I'm cold, but I'll live," Ray replied. "Nothing we can do about it."

Fraser shifted so that he was sitting closer to his friend. He tentatively reached out with an arm and placed it around Ray's shoulders. "If we sit close together, with our bodies touching, we could share body heat," Ben suggested.

Ray thought about objecting, but the warmth of Benny's body did feel good. With a shrug, he moved so that he was pressed up against the Mountie.

Fraser wrapped his arms around his partner. "Are you any warmer?" he asked after a few minutes.

"Yeah, I am, Benny. Thanks."

"You're welcome." Fraser was beginning to wonder if this was really such a good idea. He wanted Ray to be warm, but he was afraid that his body would betray him. He'd tried to suppress his attraction to the detective, and for the most part he'd succeeded. But with Ray so close, their bodies touching, he was afraid that his feelings would become all too obvious.

Ray turned in Fraser's arms so that he could see the Mountie's face. Benny looked troubled about something. "Are you okay, Benny?" he asked in concern. Without really thinking, he reached up and brushed his fingers against Fraser's cheek.

"Ray...." Benny bent his head toward Ray's. Just as their lips were about to touch a voice cut through the darkness. "Hey! Anyone in here?"

The two men sprang apart. "Over here!" Ray shouted. A beat cop shone his flashlight in their faces. "Am I glad to see you!" the Italian exclaimed.

"I saw the dumpster shoved up against the door, and it didn't look right," the cop explained. "There's gangs of kids in this neighbourhood who would pull tricks like this, so I thought I should check it out."

"We're very glad that you did," Fraser told him.

Ray explained about the purse snatchers and gave a description of them to the officer. Then he turned to his partner. "Time to go home, Benny!"

Reluctantly, Fraser followed. He didn't speak on the ride back to his apartment. There were a million things he wanted to say, but he had no idea where to begin. He didn't think he could ask Ray, "Were you really going to let me kiss you?" Maybe Ray had just been being nice, hadn't wanted to hurt him by refusing.

But surely, if Ray hadn't wanted it, he'd have said something &mdash wouldn't he?

When they arrived at the building on West Racine, Ray simply dropped him off without saying anything. Ben went up to his apartment, suddenly feeling very tired. Diefenbaker was there to greet him. The task of feeding the wolf and himself &mdash though he didn't eat much &mdash occupied him for a time. He tried to find other things to do, but nothing worked. His mind always came back to Ray.

What was on the Italian's mind? What would have happened if they'd actually kissed?

It was no use speculating. He'd simply have to talk to Ray tomorrow.

But the next day, Ray didn't come to pick him up the way he normally did. By the time Fraser realized his partner wasn't coming, he was almost late for work. He couldn't get away from the Consulate until late afternoon, and when he finally made it to the precinct, Ray had already left for the day.

This pattern continued for several days. Ray didn't pick him up for work, or arrive to drive him home afterward. When Fraser tried to catch up to him at the Precinct, Ray would make excuses about having too much work to do to talk to him. Obviously, his partner was avoiding him. And Fraser knew why.

How could he have misjudged his friend so completely as to think he would want to kiss him? Ray had never shown any sexual interest in men. There had never been any indication he would want to kiss any man, even his best friend. Former best friend. Ben had probably lost Ray's friendship completely.

That realization hurt. He hadn't had many friends in his life, and he'd done his best to avoid making close attachments to anyone. He simply moved around too much. Most of his postings only lasted a short time before his superiors got tired of his unorthodox crime-solving methods and transferred him somewhere else. But Ray accepted him so completely it was hard not to let himself get close to the Italian, and harder still not to fall in love with him. It would be even harder yet to lose him.

About a week after the basement incident, Fraser got a phone call at the Consulate. "Canadian Consulate/Consulat du Canada," he answered.

"Benny," came a familiar voice. It was Ray!

"Hello, Ray," Fraser answered, trying to keep his voice somewhere near normal.

"We need to talk, Benny."

"I agree." Ben tried to calm his rapid heartbeat.

"I'll pick you up after work, and we'll talk at your place &mdash all right?"

"That would be fine."

"I'll see you then." Ray hung up the phone. He'd arranged to talk to Benny, but what the hell was he going to say to him? "Do you usually go around kissing guys, Fraser?" No, he needed to tell Benny the truth.

That was not going to be easy. Ray considered himself to be a fairly normal guy, which meant he didn't go around talking about feelings, especially with other guys. But he was going to have to talk about his feelings, or he would risk losing Benny, and he couldn't let that happen.

The afternoon dragged, but eventually it was time to leave and pick up Fraser. Ray couldn't remember when he'd felt so happy to see his friend. Happy, but scared at the same time. What he had to say to the Mountie would change everything.

"Ray...." Benny said as he got into the Riviera.

"Not in the car Benny, okay? Let's wait until we get to your apartment &mdash please," he added.


When they reached the apartment and were safely inside, Ray finally brought up the subject that had been weighing on his partner's mind for the past week.

"I guess you're wondering why I've been avoiding you lately."

"No, actually, I haven't," answered Fraser. "I know exactly why you've been avoiding me. I should never have tried to kiss you in that basement. I'm sorry, Ray. I should have known better. You've never shown any signs of attraction to men. I took advantage of our situation and I had no right to do that. Can you ever forgive me?"

"Oh, Benny," sighed Ray. "There's nothing to forgive. I wasn't avoiding you because I didn't want you to kiss me. I avoided you because I did want you to kiss me, and that scared the crap out of me."

At the puzzled look on Benny's face, he tried to explain. "Look, you know my family. You know the kind of culture I come from. Men in my family are supposed to be masculine &mdash macho. I'm not saying that it's a good thing, but it's the way things are. My Pop beat us and my Ma because it was his way of proving how macho he was. And guys who kiss other guys are definitely not macho."

He took a deep breath before continuing. "So when we were in the basement, and you made like you were going to kiss me, and I realized that I wanted you to kiss me.... It wasn't something I was ready to deal with, ya know? So I ran away. I avoided you until I was ready to deal with it. God, Benny, I don't want to spend another week like this last one. I don't want us to spend any more time apart."

"What are you saying, Ray?"

"I'm saying that I love you, Benny. And that I want to be with you &mdash in every way. I want you to kiss me. I want to kiss you. I want us to make love. I'm not saying that it doesn't still scare me. I have no idea how I'm going to deal with my family, or with my fellow cops, if they find out. But I'll manage, somehow. That is, if you want me the way I want you. Do you, Benny?" His voice cracked on the final question.

Fraser crossed the room in a heartbeat and took Ray in his arms. "I do, Ray. I want you, and I love you &mdash very much."

"Thank God," Ray breathed as he simply allowed himself to be held for a while. Finally, looking into his partner's eyes, he asked, "Can we try kissing again, this time with no interruptions?"

Casting a warning glance at Diefenbaker, who did his best to look innocent, Fraser slowly kissed Ray, savouring every moment.

Ray melted into Fraser's arms, leaning his head on the Mountie's shoulder. "That felt even better than I imagined it would," he said.

"You've imagined me kissing you?" asked Benny.

"Every day since we were shut up in that basement."

"What happens now, Ray?"

"I was hoping we could continue this in your bedroom," answered the detective.

"And after that?" Fraser asked.

Ray sighed. "I don't know for sure, Benny. I do know that I want us to be lovers, and not just for one night. I want us to be together permanently. Like I said, it won't be easy. There's my family, and there's the guys at the precinct. They'll find out, sooner or later. But let's just take things one day at a time for now. And right now, I want to go to bed with you."

Benny smiled. "I want that too."

And there was no more talking after that.