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by shalott

Ray yanked open the passenger door. "—just to make me insane, don't you?" He leaned over and unfastened the seatbelt.

Ben struggled to swing his legs out of the car. It was remarkable how difficult it was to maneuver without using his hands. "I'm sorry, Ray. I had no idea that Mr. Pilsudski and his associates would take such strong exception to my actions."

"What, you thought they were going to send you flowers? You were standing outside their door telling people they were ripping them off! Are you getting out of there or what?"

"I'm having some difficulty—"

"Yeah, no kidding." Despite his aggrieved tone, Ray slid an arm behind Ben's back and helped lever him out.

Ben leaned on Ray gratefully and let him close the car door. "You must admit, offering their clients less than half of the refund to which they were entitled—"

"Fraser, when you walk into a place with a sign on the front door containing the words cash, free, and instant, you know you're going to be taken for a ride. If somebody goes in there anyway, they're just getting what they deserve. Like some other people I could name. Where are your keys?"

"Left front pocket. Ray, are you suggesting that I deserved to be assaulted?" Ben felt vaguely offended.

Ray *smirked*, that was the only word for it, and turned him around to slide a hand into his pocket. "You sure they're in here?"

Ben paused. "Oh dear."

"No, wait—let me guess."

"I think they might have fallen out—"

"—while you were getting your fingers stomped on," Ray finished. "Forget it. We're not going back there at 2 in the morning." He banged on the glass. "Hey! Somebody let us in here!"

"Ray! This is a school night."

"Jesus. Only you would get the door fixed and then lose your key. Okay, give me some room." Ray knelt down and started fiddling with the lock. Ben leaned against the wall and waited. At least it was mild for March. He sighed.


"Oh, it's nothing."

The door clicked open. "It's not nothing, that was a sigh, that's something. Come on, what?"

"It simply occurred to me that I'll have some difficulty performing most of my duties this way."

Ray held the door for him. "Dragon Lady's going to have you playing statue for a couple of weeks?"

Ben followed Ray up the stairs. "Yes, I expect so."

Diefenbaker rose from the rug and whuffed softly as they came into the apartment. He trotted over to his food dish expectantly, and Ben guiltily realized he hadn't given Diefenbaker's comfort a thought all evening.

Ray glanced over from the sink. "Don't fall for it, Benny, I fed him when I dropped him off. Yeah, don't give me that look, you greedy mutt."

"Diefenbaker! Ray, I do appreciate—"

"Don't worry about it. You going to be okay? You hungry? Want something to drink?"

It never ceased to warm him when Ray dropped his usual pose of disinterest. "No, I'll be fine," Ben said softly, glad all over again for this unlikely man. "I'll just get to sleep."

Ray nodded, then hesitated, looking at him. Ben looked down and realized he was still in full uniform. "Ah. Ray, would you—"

Ray sighed. "Yeah, come here."

It was odd, being undressed by someone else. Ray's knuckles, warm, accidentally brushed the skin below his collarbone. Their eyes met.

And for the first time that night, he truly longed for the use of his hands.

(599 words)

All feedback much appreciated!
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