dearly beloved

Fraser deserved to be happy, and Ray approved of Mary Chang for Fraser, in the abstract. From everything he'd heard, she was smart, funny, and vivacious; she loved the Arctic Circle and small children; she was upstanding, dedicated, and a natural brunette.
Beta: chaperoned, who told me where I could put my semicolons ♥


"Oh, don't tell me you're drunk," Stella hissed, the words almost as low as the rustle of the crisp silk dress she wore. She looked good: tan, highlights in her hair, a little filled out, which Ray thought might be due to all the Italian food. She also looked as tense and accusative as ever. Her mouth was pinched beneath the shine of expensive lipstick.

"I'm not drunk," Ray said, and smiled, slow and lazy, the kind of smile that he knew made Stella's blood simmer. "No, really," he added, because her chin had gone up, and crap, he must really look bad. "I drove up non-stop. Just got to the hotel last night. This morning. Early."

He saw the moment belief happened, a change in the way light reflected from her eyes. Anger bled into exasperation. He'd escaped being the embarrassing alcoholic ex-husband; now he was just the irresponsible 40-something going on 8.

"Too bad you didn't make it to the dinner last night," Stella said. Ray didn't point out that the rehearsal was for the people actually in the wedding. "Mary's lovely — she can hold her own." From Stella, that was high praise. "And Benton adores her."

"So, it's not a shotgun wedding?" Ray said, the words whipping out, sharp and cruel and angry, before he could stop them. Stella jabbed her elbow into his arm, hard.

"Ray."

He wanted to fidget, but he already stood out as one of the few non-Mounties on the groom's side. Even Frannie's herd of foster kids, dressed like extras from a hip-hop video, were on their church manners. Of course, she probably took them to Mass regularly; with all the maternal responsibility, she'd become comfortable in the role of a good Catholic girl. Ray had given religion up when he discovered sex in high school. He'd hated confession once he had a few real sins under his belt, and he'd have been lying to God if he said he was resolved to sin no more, at least where sex was concerned.

Which was something he shouldn't be thinking of at a wedding.

Stella fiddled with the skirt of her dress again. It was pretty, which meant it was probably uncomfortable. Women's clothes were like that. She caught him looking, and he rolled his shoulders in a shrug and looked away.

"You could've brought a date," she said. "Well. If you'd flown in like a normal person. Are you seeing anyone?"

Ray tried to imagine the look on Stella's face if he'd brought the guy who'd fucked him last. He imagined introducing him to Fraser: Ben, this is — oh, hey, what was your name again?.

Fraser would look appalled. Hurt. Fraser might suspect that the man's name didn't make a difference, because it was still his name Ray shouted when he came.

"I'm a little busy at work, Stel," he said. The pet name was a mistake. She gave him that pinched-around-the-eyes look of pity, thinking he still wasn't over her.

She patted his arm, trying unobtrusively to scan the church for single women. He hated this. He tried hard not to hate her, because this was the thing: he still loved her, and he always would. He was just made like that. He wished he wasn't.

"Vecchio tell you to be my babysitter?" he asked, a wild shot that turned out to be a hole in one. Stella flipped her hair back, and again with the chin coming up. "Relax. I'm not going to make a scene."

He knew that she was afraid he'd be loud, mabye say horrible racist things to Mary's family, talk about Chicago's latest child abuse debacle. The kind of scene he had in mind, though, was like all those Hollywood films where the boyfriend or the girlfriend stood up at the or forever hold your peace and stopped the whole wedding right there. He'd thought about it, in the car driving up here; he had been thinking about it ever since he got the invitation, a fat cream coloured envelope sealed with the Chinese character for happiness.

But he couldn't do that to Fraser, couldn't hurt him like that. They'd made their decision years ago, talked it out like rational adults, and lived with it. If Ray was stupid enough to have not fallen out of love with Fraser, either, that was his own damn problem, because Fraser loved this Mary Chang person.

Fraser loved her with his whole heart, or he wouldn't have asked her to marry him, wouldn't have called Ray at 3 a.m. to tell him, with stunned wonder in his voice, that she'd said yes. Fraser deserved to be happy, and Ray approved of Mary Chang for Fraser, in the abstract. From everything he'd heard, she was smart, funny, and vivacious; she loved the Arctic Circle and small children; she was upstanding, dedicated, and a natural brunette.

Ray couldn't hate her for being everything he wasn't, and he couldn't stop loving Fraser. So, he buttoned his aching heart into the new blue shirt and darker blue suit. He spiked his hair for old times' sake, even though he hadn't had it dyed and the grey showed. He forced his body to relax, and he made mostly pleasant conversation with his ex-wife while he waited for her husband to be best man at his ex-lover's wedding.

It was fucked up. He was fucked up.

The music started, piano not organ, and people took their places. There was Fraser, standing with Vecchio, and the minister. The music changed, and every head in the church turned to look at the bride as she came in on her father's arm — every head except for Ray's, that was, because he was still watching Fraser, who looked untouchably gorgeous. Fraser was watching Mary Chang.

Ray let his eyes slide shut. There was a lunch afterwards with speeches and photographs, but he'd be free by mid-afternoon. He didn't have to stay another night. If he didn't get caught for speeding, he could be in Calgary by tonight, in the clubs. He could get completely smashed and get fucked. The thought made him smile, a little, and he opened his eyes, listening to the vows and counting down the hours.

the end

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