Three Aprils

Shay Sheridan

For the prompt "spring rain." Apparently spring rain makes me angsty. And Fraser, too, as it turns out.

"Green," Benton says.

Grandfather nods, the deep lines of his face settling into a rare expression of approval. "Indeed, Benton. As you've noted, we're approaching the vernal equinox, and thus, as you've pointed out, the trees and shrubbery even at this latitude begin to shed their barren limbs and cover themselves in buds and greenery which…"

Grandfather's voice dulls and fades into the whooshing of the wind. The spring rain is soft, but persistent and cold. It spatters on Benton's face and tickles as it drips down the back of his neck. Perhaps he should have listened to Granny and worn a hat with a brim. He holds out one small hand, watching the drops patter on his palm and splatter out of his grasp. He slides his hand into Grandfather's, but the old man shakes it away to gesture.

"–over there, which you'll find in books about the changing of the seasons, which we keep next to the section on the universe. I think this year we'll venture into astronomy, as well as further investigations of botany, concentrating on native plants of the taiga and tundra. You're seven already, and your grandmother expects you–"

Benton's mind strays. His eyes turn again to the special place at the end of the garden, where the brown earth of autumn, replaced by white snow in winter, is changing again, sprouting green as sprigs of early grass take tentative hold. There's greenish-gray winter moss on the simple stone marker, but next to it a yellow bud pokes a curious head out of the hard soil.

"That's Artic dryas," Grandfather says, following his line of sight. He's animated for the first time since they set out today. "In late April, of all things! Early this year. The rain, I suppose, after such a dry winter. It's good for flowers. Of course, usually at this time of year the conifers–"

Rain is no good, Benton thinks, feeling it drip and patter, soak and chill. Mother. He looks at the grave, worried. Mother will get cold.


He looks up into angry eyes. "What, Ray?"

"You wore red to a funeral?" Ray Vecchio is about to explode. His hands are curled into fists; his red-rimmed eyes threaten violence. The weather has shifted again, and the forecast rain has come, turning this April day foul and cold. "What kind of–"

"My uniform. It's my uniform, Ray." Benton puts a hand on his friend's shoulder. "Ray. Please."

Ray's eyes refocus. He drops his head, nods in acknowledgement. "Yes, right. Christ. Sorry. Benny, sorry, it's just that– I'm just so–"

"I know, Ray. We all are." Benton breathes in the cold, damp air and regards the gathering. It's an enormous turnout, a testament not only to Louis Gardino, but to the brotherhood of all policemen when one of their own is killed. His bright tunic does indeed stand out against the deep blue and black of the mourners, but he makes no apology for it. This is how he shows respect for a fallen comrade.

"Christ. This rain, on top of everything," Ray mutters. The expression in his eyes has turned from anger to despair, and Benton thinks about pulling his friend close into a comforting embrace. But he doesn't know how to do it, how to complete so intimate a gesture without invitation. Ray is caught in his own grief and doesn't feel Benton's yearning. And so they stand a foot apart in the cold and damp, not touching. Surrounded by hundreds of fellow officers, Benton Fraser is completely alone.

If only it weren't raining, he thinks. For this somber gathering, the rain is almost too much to bear. It beats a muffled tattoo against the flag-draped casket, and Benton feels it echo inside him, as if his body were a casket containing a mummified and shrunken heart.

"Red," Ray mumbles, coming out of his reverie, nodding. "Good. It's good, Benny. It's right."

"Yes." Benton says, but as he looks up into the appalling sky the rain falls into his eyes, dulling everything to a pallid gray.

"Black," Benton murmurs.

"Sort of blue, really, if you look at it in the light. Heh, black and blue, story of my life."

"Because you take too many chances." Benton's fingers slide along Ray's skin, tracing the lines of the tattoo. He chides for good reason. Next to the tattoo is a long scar – twenty stitches from a knife wound – and down Ray's thigh is an old bullet wound, the long slice whitened by the years. There's also a scar on Ray's ribs, and one on his hip. "You take too many chances," he says again. He turns his head to the window, watching the rain drip down from the fire escape.

"Don't be like that." Ray Kowalski slides out from underneath him, slithering on top so his bare chest covers Benton's. "You always get like this."

"I do not."

"Yeah. You do. Whenever it rains." Ray's hand's stroll leisurely along Benton's sides, curling underneath him to cup his ass. "Don't think so much." He squeezes, his fingers seeking the valley between Benton's buttocks.

"Ah…that's nice."

"Mmm. How 'bout this?" Ray's tongue paints a hot stripe down Benton's chest and his entire body clenches in response. "Or this?" Ray slides south, licking Benton's belly, going lower, ignoring Benton's rising cock. Benton groans in frustration and Ray presses Benton's legs back so he can lick down below, from scrotum to the tight pucker beneath.

Benton's vision goes white/silver/gold."Ah! Ray!"

Ray pauses only to smile triumphantly. His tongue is a spear, and then it is a soft caress, and then a barely-sensed flicker of light, and then an arrow that cuts right through Benton, turning his limbs to boneless jelly, his groin to molten lava. He tenses and relaxes, twitches and shakes as Ray destroys him one wet swipe at a time. And then that wonderful, terrible tongue goes away, and Benton hears himself whimper for more.

"Hold on, Frase." Ray sounds as if he, too, is hanging on by his fingernails.

Ray, hard and slick, presses into him now, and he yields and presses back and opens. Above him, within him, all around him, Ray is a hot golden presence dispelling the drabness of the afternoon. Ray moves. Benton groans, shudders, holds onto Ray's arms, his back, his shoulders. Sensation crests. Ray plunges into him, each stroke driving thought away, replacing the damp day with sunlight.

Ray's thrusts grow shallow and faster. Benton wraps himself around the straining body above him and rises to meet each movement. Together they rise and fall, groan and sweat, until Ray shakes and shudders and comes in a rush.

Benton's close, but not there yet, but Ray's a considerate lover. He shakes sweat from his eyes, catches a breath and wraps his large hand around Benton's straining erection. It doesn't take much, just a few strokes, before Benton spills come across his own stomach and Ray's chest.

Perhaps he dozes off. When he opens his eyes, Ray is propped up on one hand, grinning at him. "Hey."

Benton smiles, feeling lazy and lethargic and slightly bruised from Ray's sharp hip bones. He turns his head to look out the window; he's surprised to see it's still raining.

"I thought the sun came out."

"Nah. It's gonna rain all day. That's what April's like in Chicago." Ray lies down, gathers Benton close. His hands stroke Benton's skin, bringing it alive. "Rain's no good for anything."

"It's good for grass, Ray, and trees, and–"

"Concrete, Fraser. That's what we got here." Ray leans in to close his teeth playfully on Benton's shoulder. "What're you thinking now?"

Benton looks past Ray's golden presence to the gray square of window. The rain patters on the metal fire escape, splashing in small puddles and splattering upward. His hand stretches out toward the rain, closing involuntarily on phantom droplets. He feels content, protected. Warm. Loved.

"I like the rain," Benton says.

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