Seperis (seperis) wrote,

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dsfic: the three second answer

Title: The Three Second Answer
Author: Seperis
Codes: Fraser/Kowalski
Rating: PG-13
Spoilers: CotW et al
Summary: "Fraser, just admit it. You kidnapped me."
Author Notes: Thanks to winterlive, celli, and niqaeli for the betas and pre-reads and chopchica for encouragement.

Sometime Past Midnight, Sort Of:

It's around three o'clock in the morning--Ray hits his watch and gives up--anyway, sometime dark, which is pretty much twenty-four seven, which is why Ray needs a fucking *watch* to know day from night, that Ray has his ephim--epipin--epis--



The tent isn't big enough that Ray has to shout, but in a weird turn of events, Fraser sleeps like a fucking *rock* out here. All that cold air and exercise and hiking and long conversations with the dogs just takes it right out of him. After the first few times Ray had tried to talk and was greeted with snoring (Fraser snoring; definite surprise), Ray went with what he knew.



Usually, Fraser would either wake up or Ray would get bored and fall asleep. But not tonight. Tonight he'd had a epi-phn--epidu--


"*Fraser*. Wake up or I'll--"

"Kick me in the head, I know." There's shifting and what Ray knows is a deliberate kick to his knee no matter how many "My apologies, Ray" he gets, and then focused attention. Don't need light to see that. Fraser? Not a subtle guy.

Case in point. "What's that word for sudden, life changing revelation?"

Fraser answers immediately, no surprise there. "Epiphany."

"Right. Epiphany." Staring at the ceiling, Ray takes a deep breath. "I had an epiphany."

"That's excellent, Ray." There's a short pause. "Ray?"

"Or indigestion from whatever that was for dinner." Ray rubs his belly absently, though after all these weeks, his body's given up protesting anything it's given. Go to the Arctic Circle, learn to never ask what you're eating. Ray learned that lesson the hard way.

"Pemmican," Fraser says in the Voice of Experienced Mountie to Hapless Chicago City Native, which is so irritating Ray *knows* he made it up just for this trip, "is a perfectly nutritious food, Ray. In fact--"

"Probably an epiphany, though." Ray frowns in the general direction of Fraser's voice. "Didn't I say don't tell me what I'm eating?"

"Yes, Ray."

"As I was saying." Shaking himself, he rolls over and shoves a pointed finger in the general direction of Fraser's chest. "I know what this is."

Pretty sure it's a chest.

"Ray, stop poking my arm."

Close enough. Ray moves four inches to the right and tries again. "This entire--thing. Trip. Adventure. *I know what this is*."

"And that is?"

"I've been kidnapped."

Over the course of their partnership, Ray has discovered that Fraser has an answer for everything, and Ray means *everything*--criminals, laws, fifteenth century architecture (Ray still finds himself using the word cupola correctly and hates himself), what to eat for dinner, Jesus, the best way to organize the refrigerator (alphabetical). If there's a question, Fraser knows the answer.


Once in a while. It's not like Ray counts or anything (fifty-five), there's a moment where someone, somewhere, says, asks, yells something that Fraser doesn't have an answer for. The silence lasts for three seconds (by the clock). And when Ray can pull it off, he feels like he's fulfilled his purpose in life. That *makes his day*.

Fifty-six. Count em, one, two, three….


Ray stretches his knee and doesn't even hiss; it would give Fraser too much satisfaction. "Yep."

One, two, three….

"You think I kidnapped you."

Ray frowns. Federal offense, across international lines, hmm, that's federal territory. Jesus, he hates the FBI. "I think we both know that you kidnapped me."

The blankets shift resentfully; Ray knows the sound of Fraser mentally reciting his Mountie oath or whatever. "Ray," he say slowly, "I didn't kidnap you. You came willingly. It was your idea."

"Undue influence, then." Ray searches for the perfect word; there really isn't one. And Fraser's in denial, so no point asking him.

One, two, three….

"Ray, are you feeling all right?"

"I'm just saying, I get it."

"Why would I kidnap you?" If possible, his voice gets even calmer. It's a gift, Ray thinks.

"Jesus, I don't know. I just had the epiphany. Gimme some time." Checking his watch, Ray wonders if it's actually three o'clock, because it's been that time for about a month now and maybe he needs to just accept that the Arctic does not have time. "I'll tell you when I figure it out."


Morning, Kind of, If You Squint:

Fraser's a morning person, which Ray completely is not, but partnerships are about compromise and the fact that Fraser's the one who knows where the hell the coffee is in their bags. Ray has no idea how to find anything except the guns and bullets, which Fraser had said was typical or something, but Ray does not care.

Stumbling out into the complete lack of the light of day, Ray takes in the entirety of wide, endless fields of white, tries to find it inspiring and fails, then heads toward the smell of coffee. A cup is shoved into his hand, and Ray sits down and has a moment.


A *moment*. With coffee. The only thing in a million miles that's not *white*.

"Ray. Ray. Ray. Ray. Ray."

And done with the moment. Finishing, Ray sets the cup aside and braces himself for a long day of snow. Dief wanders over, snuffling curiously at the empty cup, and Fraser starts looking nervous. "Hey, Dief. Listen, gotta ask you something--"

"Diefenbaker," Fraser says, sounding unearthly composed and not like he's possibly considering homicide. If there was ever a place to do it, it would be here, Ray thinks contently, squinting into the empty cup. Lots of space, no witnesses, and they won't find his body until the quest for the Hand of Ray.

"Ray." Boots come down in Ray's direct line of sight, completely blocking the view of white.

Ray holds up his cup.

"No. One cup a day. We had to keep the weight down, so there was limited space for coffee."

"I coulda gone on a diet if I'd known that."

Three seconds. By the clock. It's a good day.

"We leaving now?" Ray says hopefully.


Chicago, Circa Almost Gone, Thank God:

Ray mostly remembers Chicago in that way that makes him not exactly panting to go back.

Take, say, Vecchio. Exhibit A.

Chicago, Where The Person You Were Pretending to Be Seems Okay Then Nails Your Wife (Ex-Wife, Whatever).

Ray's last day in Chicago did not end with Vecchio dead, no matter how much the guy deserved it, and he should have received a medal for that. Because hey, fine, everyone's moving on and everything, have a good life, but was it too much to ask for the guy not to suck face with Ray's ex in the interrogation room?

Vecchio: not one of Ray's favorite people.

Asshole stuck around the room and watched while Fraser went on about attacking cops and closure (Jesus, he must have been listening to Frannie) and Ray had tried to get across punch to the face equals resolution for all, and also, *ex-wife*. Didn't work too good. Not that it ever did.

"Excuse me," Vecchio said abruptly, turning toward the door and going out. Fraser slowed down enough to blink in confusion, which Ray took as an opportunity to explain, *again*-- "Ex-wife! In the interrogation room!"

Weird sounds floated into the room, and Fraser turned on one polished heel and went out the door, where Ray caught a glimpse of Vecchio leaning against the wall looking like he was stroking out. Served him right. Ray, occupied with cradling the hand that had hit the wall where Vecchio's face was supposed to be, pointedly ignored the man's impending death and blackly hoped the nurses were male and ugly.

After a few minutes, Fraser came back in, hat in both hands, looking bewildered.

"He's fine," Fraser said distractedly, despite the fact that Ray did not ask and did not care. "How's your hand?"

Ray shook it warily: nothing broken. Craning his neck, he watched Fraser sit down, completely forgetting Ray's justifiable rage. "Problem?"

Fraser got that look on his face. That "Have you noticed all the people here are freaks and thank God we are going to Canada" look. "He said 'Benny, welcome to my world'."

Ray shared the look with him. People here were *weird*. "Chinese," Ray said firmly, shaking out his hand again. "It's not like I'll get takeout up there." Though. "Does Canada have takeout?"


Back to Maybe-Morning:

Fast forward six months later, same look, different sitch.


Ray considers kicking him, but it's not worth it. Every time, somehow, Ray ends up covered in snow by the end of the day. Fraser always apologizes afterward. Ray's suspicious, though. Bracing himself, he waits to hear about body mass and body fat and something about slow death for the skinny (not in those words; Ray's beginning to think the words Fraser uses aren't actually real, because how the hell does he know so many?), but it turns out, not so much.

"I didn't kidnap you."

Ray extends a mute hand, waiting patiently until Fraser pulls him up. Winter is a very heavy season for clothes. "Yes, you did."

"No, I didn't."

"Fraser, just admit it. You kidnapped me."

This time, Fraser doesn't miss a beat. "And why would I do that?"

Ray gives him the cup. "Just woke up. Give me some time." He's a detective; this kind of thing is his job. He'll work it out. "More don't-tell-me-what-that-is for breakfast?"

Fraser closes his eyes. Almost as good as that silence thing.


Chicago, Circa When Everything Got Interesting:

What Ray thinks about that last month in Chicago, it's a lot like watching a movie in fast-forward. There were questions and insinuations and paperwork; Christ, the paperwork never ended. Things that ran eternal, world without end: criminals and paperwork, amen.

The consulate was depressingly dark, and Ray broke in more from habit than anything. Fraser, looking in his closet with a weird expression, motioned distractedly at Ray to come in before closing the door.

"Something wrong?" Ray asked, sitting on the neatly made cot. What he'd wanted to ask was, *when are you leaving?*, but unlike Stella, Ray assumed that Fraser would give him advance warning and not, say, divorce papers in the place of dinner. Not that this would be a divorce, though in a weird way, it kind of was: *we don't want the same things* and *we've both changed* and *I'm leaving the country to commune with the caribou*, which Ray had discovered was a lot more common than you'd think. Replace caribou with Buddhism or religion or self-help or whatever and you got a lot of celebrity divorces.

Divorced twice in five years: Ray slumped down and wondered if it was time for a mid-life crisis yet.

"Nothing's wrong, Ray." Leaning against the closet door, Fraser gave him a searching look. "Do you hear--never mind." Crossing the short space, he sat neatly on the opposite side of the bed. "I'm not going to miss this room," he said, which was Fraser for "I wish I could burn it down and salt the ground it stood on." Ray totally understood.

"Hungry?" Ray asked, getting out his phone. When Stella had left, he'd eaten a lot of pizza. This felt like a pizza moment.


Silences with Fraser were pretty rare; again, answer man, and if you didn't ask a question? Really didn't seem to matter. Ray forgot his half-formed thoughts of buying a Corvette and taking road trip or embracing alcoholism or something, because Fraser was giving him that look, that "I have something I have to tell you of monumental importance", and the last time Fraser had looked like *that*, it was right before he told him that Stella was fucking Vecchio ("Dating, Ray." "That's *fucking* in American, Fraser.").

"I'm leaving in a month," Fraser said all at once, giving Ray that look, that "I am going to snap and become a serial killer if I don't get out of this city and back where I don't have to deal with all these *people*" look. Then he took a deep breath and said, "Do you still want to find the hand of Franklin?"

Ray hung up just as Sandor got on the line. "Hell yeah. Chinese okay?"

And that was that.


Brief Criminal History Digression:

But now that he's thinking about it (up here, in the great white, with nothing else to do but eat, sleep, and not die), it seems weirdly sinister. Maybe not cauliflower group hypnosis sinister, but it's up there. So he'd saved Fraser from becoming America's Most Wanted Canadian, and possibly the first Canadian serial killer ever--

"Fraser, are there any Canadian serial killers?" Ray asks, predictably in the tent, where wind and snow won't get in the way and almost kill him again, though Fraser swears it was an accident.

"Actually, Ray, there have been several--" And he's off, answer for everything, that's Fraser. Ray settles down in the warmth of the sleeping bag and drifts off to the sound of Fraser giving him the history of criminal justice in the country of Canada.

Ray's not saying he objects to the kidnapping or anything. He just wishes Fraser would admit it already.


During This Blizzard-Like Thing:

There are three more days of snow, more snow, surprise! More snow!, a glacier, five polar bears, three trees (almost like a forest if you squint and ignore they aren't actually trees) and more snow. Ray drives three times (what a rush) and eats something unrecognizable ("Remember what I said about naming the food? Don't wanna know."), and feeling so generally content with the world that he decides the entire kidnapping thing doesn't really matter. Corvettes cost a lot, alcoholism is so eighties, and he's still only been divorced once. What more could a guy ask for? Nothing, that's what.

And if there hadn't been a blizzard, that might have worked just fine. Fraser is all about selective perception, and Ray approves heartily and practices that himself. After that voodoo thing, Ray thinks that selective perception is pretty much the only way to live.

"Ray," Fraser says at some point when the world would normally be sunny. "Ray. Ray. Ray. R--"

"Yes?" Ray scowls; soon he'll be saying please and thank you kindly and eh. He already finds himself wondering about the curling championships. Note: if he ever sees civilization again, look that up. "Huh?" Better.

Fraser's playing with the cards again; by weight, that's a quarter pound of coffee. Ray doesn't resent the cards. Much. "I didn't kidnap you."

Ray frowns, scrolling back through the week: snow, snow, polar bears, almost fell into crevice, saw mountain--oh. Right. Ray sits up, stretching, trying not to groan as Fraser's eyes lock, flicker down, and fix on the cards. "Poker?"

"Excellent idea."

Looking relieved, Fraser makes a space and starts dealing while Ray figures out how much air he wants to bet.


Ten Hands Later:

"Did you not want to come?" Fraser asks abruptly, throwing a king into the pile between them. "I thought you did."

Ray's about ten airs down here; interrupting his concentration is not buddy-like at all.

"Course I wanted to." Potential full house; he can work with this. "I'm just saying. Quitting, packing up, visa-ing, and going to look for a dead guy." Ray's beginning to suspect his perception of weird has shifted quite a bit since meeting Fraser. Though he can't be sure, he doesn't remember ever having any kind of burning desire to camp out and didn't he used to hate winter? "You in?"

"Three air," Fraser answers shortly. Then, "I didn't force you."

"You did get my visa pretty fast." Like, before the Chinese arrived. Ray would wonder about that, but this is Fraser, so it had to be legal. They'd ended up in the main consular office while Fraser talked politely to several people over the phone, and voila, Ray was free to wander Canada as he liked. And then he'd had eggrolls and realized that soon, he might not ever see an eggroll again and that had to be when Fraser had started telling him that Canada was not Mars and yes, there were eggrolls.

"That's my job," Fraser says, staring at his cards intently. He doesn't seem to notice that they're backward.

True. "Raise four air." His cards suck, but Fraser's not exactly on top of his game right now, so maybe he has a chance here.

Fraser deals him another card. "You said you wanted to go on an adventure," Fraser says, then frowns at his cards and turns them back around. Ray, in the spirit of partnership, decides not to remember what they were.

"Yep. Call." Ray puts his cards down and smiles in satisfaction, not even marred by the fact that Fraser doesn't even react to a total sweeping loss. Picking up the deck, he considers how much air he wants to bet. "My deal."

Fraser takes the cards, still frowning; feeling a little bad, Ray decides to let him win the next game.


Chicago, Circa Stella Can Be Confusing:

That visa thing now, not so weird. He'll go with that. What was weird, actually, was the *reactions*.

"Canada?" Stella said, blinking at him like she'd never seen him before. Her eyes flickered over and narrowed on Fraser, who for some reason hadn't had anything better to do for the last week but follow him around while he put his affairs in order. Not that Ray didn't appreciate the help or anything, but still. "Why?"

"The hand of, uh--" Ray looked at Fraser.


"Him. Looking for the Beaufort Sea."


"Didn't we talk about correcting me?"

"Yes, Ray."

Stella sat back on her desk, brows drawn together sharply. "You want to go to the Arctic to find the hand of Franklin," she said slowly, like it was the most insane thing he'd ever said. Which was crap, because he'd been saying and doing insane things for years. She shot a look at Fraser that kind of reminded Ray of the way she looked at defendants. "With him."

Fraser nodded earnestly, but Ray knew that look. That "people can be very slow" look. And boy could they. "Ray and I will be fine," Fraser assured her. "I've lived in the North most of my life."

That didn't seem to make her feel any better. Hands braced on the edge of the desk, she focused her attention on Ray like she did on her witnesses; Ray could see why she had such a great conviction rate.

"Ray," she said gently, "I know it's been--well, everything. With us. With Ray--Detective Vecchio," she added hastily, eyeing him like she expected him to leap up and call the guy out or something. Which wasn't a bad idea, but would interfere with the entire packing up and preparing to cross the Arctic on a dogsled thing. "But running away won't fix anything."

Ray nodded, because that was true, even though how it related to the Hand of Franklin, he had no fucking clue. "I know."

Her expression softened suddenly, and Ray had the uncomfortable feeling that this was going to Meaningful Conversation places he just did not want to go. He had a lease to break and dinner to eat and a book about dogsleds from the library that he might even read, considering how relevant to his life that was about to be, and because Fraser kept making comments that made him think there might be a quiz later.

"So I just wanted to say goodbye," he said, hoping that forestalled the entire Conversation thing, because thank you, no, been there, done that, not fun, moving on now. To the Arctic. "And you know, good luck with Vecchio." He could be the bigger man here. Getting up, he pulled her off the desk for a hug and a quick kiss and didn't even try to slip her any tongue. "I'll miss you."

Stella said, "You're serious."

"Fraser got me my visa," he told her, wondering if she was worried he was trying to illegally emigrate.

Stella turned her head, staring at Fraser darkly, who looked back at her with a cheerful smile. "I bet he did."

Ray's still not sure what the hell was up with that.


After the Card Game (Ray Won by Five Air):

"I wanted to help," Fraser says at some point that's still not night, but long after the entire cards thing, and Ray, kind of comfortable in his doze, really wants to ignore him. But.

"Ray. Ray. R--"

"Right here!" But he's damned if he's sitting up. "You helped, yeah. Living the dream. You want me to say thank you?"

"Well, not right now, though it wouldn't hurt you to be courteous once in a while." There's a second where Ray's worried they're going to the Good Manners Conversation place, because Fraser's convinced that Ray has an inner Canadian that is dying to get out and if he just uses enough words, it'll work. "What I meant is, I'm quite used to being alone up here."

"So you've told me." Ray can see the appeal, actually. Quiet, calm, peaceful, tons of space, and not a crazy criminal in sight. A little short on company, maybe, but Fraser's a city all by himself.

"It's not like I needed anyone before--"

Then Fraser stops. Just like that. Ray rolls on his side, bringing him up against a lot of warm Fraser. Better.

One, two, three…wait. Fraser's not so much as twitching. "Fraser?"



Despite the fact that prone and warm is possibly the best thing ever, Ray sits up enough to get a good look at Fraser. Leaning forward, he waves a hand in front of Fraser's face. If he's having a stroke, well, they're going to die. Not what Ray has on the agenda for this adventure, thanks. "Frase? You okay?"

Fraser blinks slowly at Ray. "I think I had an epiphany."

Oh yeah, Ray knows *all* about those epiphanies; they're fucking *exhausting*. "Take a nap," Ray advises, pulling on his arm. Fraser relents with startling ease; Ray had figured he was in for at least an hour or two of arguing, because Ray suspects that Fraser lives to irritate him. When Fraser's stretched out and buried in sleeping bag (since Fraser's not objecting to the touching, Ray takes advantage and gets up right against his side), Ray takes a deep breath. Possible Meaningful Conversation. This is his buddy. He can do this. "You want to talk about it?"

Fraser turns his head and blinks at him; he also doesn't move away. Perfect. "I think I need to sleep on it."

Excellent idea. Ray closes his eyes, feeling unutterably relieved. Relaxing, he gets a foot over Fraser's ankle, just in case he tries to move. "I hear you."

Ray loves the Arctic. He's never been so well-rested.


Morning, Definitely (Maybe):

The next morning, the sky is clear, the snow is--there, and Ray gets to drive the sled, since Fraser seems to be off in his own world and doesn't fight him at all.

Ray really, *really* loves the Arctic. Best thing ever.


Sometime at Night, Later:

"Ray, I haven't been completely honest with you."

Ray's awake so fast it feels like someone just gave him speed. Sitting up, he looks at Fraser, who had abandoned being Ray's favorite source of heat to sit up and *talk*. Now Ray's awake, getting colder, and definitely not getting his rest. Which he needs for the sledding and death-defying. "Huh?"

Fraser looks at him, blue eyes wide and guilty. It used to make Ray feel like he'd kicked a particularly cute puppy and even kind of want to apologize. Now--well, he still feels like he kicked a puppy, but he also knows Fraser does this shit on *purpose*. He's really good at that.

"It's just--" And Fraser gets the look. The "I feel the need to express my feelings with many words" look, and while Fraser is nothing like Stella, like, at *all*, Ray can't help but wonder if he's getting his second divorce in the Arctic. Not that they're married, but still. "The Inuit have this story--"

Oh God. Ray flops back down and pulls the sleeping bag over his head. "No," he says. Supportive buddy, yes. Voluntarily listening to Fraser express his feelings by way of the Inuit oral tradition, no. There are limits. "No," he says again when Fraser starts pulling open the top. "I'm not kidding. No more Inuit stories. None. Zip. Period. We are done with the stories."

"Ray, come out of there."

Ray keeps his grip and starts to wiggle away. The tent flap is pretty close. Like, three inches, tops. "No Inuit stories! Forty-eight hours of Inuit-free time or I swear to God I will go crazy and kill you."

"For God's sake--" Ray's almost to freedom (tent flap) when something large and heavy and Fraser-shaped lands on him, sticking him in place. Trapping him for all time (or the next however many goddamn hours) in a world of Inuit legends and wolf metaphors. Fraser is a community college class that never fucking *ends*. "Just--Ray--stop trying to get away."

"Death in the snow is fine," Ray says, enunciating each word. Oh God. He's *enunciating*. Fraser and his Canadianness are *everywhere*. And now he's thinking of curling again. Giving up, Ray lets Fraser pull back the top of the sleeping bag. "If you're going to torture me, can I at least turn over?"

Fraser's eyes narrow. "Are you going to try to die in the snow?"

Dammit. Ray takes a deep breath and resigns himself to the story of three Inuit walking into a bar or something. "Fine."

Fraser gives him just enough space to turn over, then straddles him, like Ray just might make a crawl for it anyway.

"I was saying--" Fraser stops, swallowing hard. "Perhaps I did kidnap you, under some definitions of improper influence."

Ray grins, pulling an arm free to point. "I knew it!" He's not above gloating, because Fraser just does not give him these kinds of opportunities. "And?"

Fraser takes a deep breath. "I'm not sorry for it."

Ray opens his mouth to protest that--what, an apology will kill him?--then rethinks his position (warm, comfortable, Fraser on top of him, hey, follow that thought later). He's not all that sorry either, if he's being honest.

"You mentioned the hand of Franklin, so it occurred to me it would be a convenient way to convince you to come with me."

Ray frowns, thinking of Stella's reaction. *"You want to go to the Arctic to find the hand of Franklin."* "Did you think it was weird to go looking for it?" Ray asks. Weird, not-weird. Canada, Chicago. Fraser, no-Fraser. One of these things is not like the other. "Did you *want* to go look for it?"

One, two, three…

"If that's what you wanted, yes."

Huh. Ray feels the beginnings of a idea glimmering in the back of his mind. Something he hadn't considered. Something *significant*. "If I'd stayed in Chicago," he says slowly, testing each word, and yes, he's enunciating, oh fuck it, "would you have stayed?"


Chicago, Circa Sleep Deprivation:

That month. That crazy, busy, when did Fraser start sleeping on my couch and when's the last time he was actually at the consulate month, when Ray had woken up at two the morning before their flight and realized he was going to Canada.

He had *quit his job* and was *going to Canada*.

"I can't believe this," he said, pacing the living room and trying to remember if he'd already packed his toothbrush. "Fraser, wake up. PTD. I think I have PDE--crap, trauma. From the falling from planes and the submarine and all those singing Mounties." And the voodoo. Couldn't forget the voodoo. No matter how hard he tried.

Fraser opened one eye, then pushed himself up on both elbows with a sigh, hair ruffled and weirdly un-neat. Ray stopped for a second to contemplate a messy Fraser and almost lost his train of thought.

"I don't think you have post-traumatic stress disorder," Fraser said seriously, being the answer man that he was. Answer for every fucking thing. "You should drink less coffee. It can cause insomnia."

"I'm moving to *Canada*!" Ray said--

Wait. He hadn't said that at all, not then.

In the Arctic, months and miles later, Ray has his second epiphany, and it's a doozy. Ray stares at Fraser.

"Did I *move* to Canada?"

Fraser looks worried. "Well. Yes."


Still in the Tent:

"But I would have stayed in Chicago," Fraser says, pinning him before he gets to the tent flap in a very-warm, not-cold-at-all kind of way. When he's less freaked out, Ray wants to explore that. "And we can go back. Ray. Ray. *Ray*. Stop trying to die in the snow. You’re upsetting Dief. Wolves are hypersensitive to discord within the pack--"

Dief, blocking the tent flap, gives Ray a disappointed look, a "being moved to Canada is no reason to die in the snow" look. "You were in on it!" Ray says, trying and failing to point at Dief. "Weren't you?"

Dief barks acknowledgment.

Ray gives up. He's outnumbered, in the Arctic, and actually really comfortable. "I can't believe you moved me to Canada and didn't tell me."

"Well, it's not like I dragged you to the airport," Fraser snaps, then shakes himself. "At the time," he continues, sounding a little calmer, "it seemed like an acceptable solution to the problem."


Eyeing Ray for further leaps tent-flap-ward, Fraser sits up again, keeping his weight on Ray's hips. It's distracting. "I didn't want our--partnership--to end," he says finally, looking pained. "I thought we would go find the hand of Franklin--which in fact I did want to do, though I can't say it was a lifelong dream--and, well--"

"I'd just not leave?" As plans went, it's not actually all that bad.

"Yes. Exactly."

Ray nods thoughtfully. "Good plan."

"I thought so."

That's Fraser; answer for everything. "And assuming we don't die--"

"I'm assuming that, yes."

"I'll just--stay here. In Canada."


"With you?" Which has to be where this is going; otherwise, it's just crazy.

Fraser takes a deep breath. "Yes."

"In a tent?"

"I have a cabin," Fraser says defensively, then flushes, looking away. "You've expressed a great deal of enthusiasm for the Territories," he continues, eyes fixed on some point on the back tent wall like he's reading a cue card. "We work well together. I thought you would, in light of these advantages, consider permanent residency."

So okay, true; Ray's really come to appreciate the variety of snow out here. Mountains. Quiet. Sleeping. Sledding. Other--stuff, which he doesn't know about yet, sure, but Fraser's here, and Ray figures where Fraser is, he should be. That's a no-brainer. That's *partners*, and Ray's too old for another divorce.

Fraser, though, is looking worried again, like Ray will make another mad crawl for freedom. Ray isn't planning on doing that now, but he supposes he can see why Fraser's suspicious. "Can I sit up now?"

"Oh." Fraser glances down, looking shocked he's still holding Ray down, and the flush spreads down into the collar of his shirt as Ray watches in interest. Going up on his knees, he starts to pull back, which, when Ray thinks about it, he's just not down with. Ray sits up quickly, getting two handfuls of shirt to keep Fraser in place. Fraser freezes. "Ray?"

"Just a second. Thinking. You can sit back down."

Fraser raises an eyebrow. "In your lap?"

And now he wants *Ray* to have the answers? "You have a problem with that?"

Fraser sits back down with a faint frown, like Ray's being unreasonable, but he's warm and familiar and Ray thinks that Fraser may know him better than anyone he's ever met. Fraser *moved him to Canada* because he wanted to keep him around, which on the surface, sure, might be a little weird, but then again, Ray really has no idea what constitutes weird anymore.

Almost three years, many near-death experiences, dozens of pizzas, two separate submarines, a wolf that gets upset when they fight (divorce can be hard on kids)--if he's honest, this really isn't a surprise. Actually, the only thing they haven't been doing together is--

"…Ray. Ray."

Warm fingers slide against the side of his face, hesitating before cupping his jaw. There's a pause, plenty long enough to dump Fraser on his ass and make a run for certain death, then the slightest hint of pressure, tilting his head up.

Fraser knows all the answers, always has, even to questions you didn't know to ask. There's an answer here as bright as the stars outside.

Ray licks his lips. "Oh."


Not-Chicago, Circa Huh, That Wasn't Subtle At All:

Ray nodded absently when Frobisher (apparently having started a regimen of anti-gas treatments) clapped him on the back and knocked him into the snow. For an old guy, he was strong. Maybe that was a Mountie thing.

"…don't like most Americans," Buck was saying, giving Ray a hand up and brushing him off; Ray frowned at the multiple swipes at his ass. He couldn't have that much snow on him. "But I like you. Don't lose track of this one, Benton!" he yelled at Fraser, who froze abruptly mid-turn. "You know what they say: possession is nine-tenths of the law!"

And *winked*.

Then Fraser suddenly started talking about the Inuit and sweat lodges and his father's advice on hunting wolverines while carefully herding Ray toward the sled. Ray was totally on board with this.

Buck was *nuts*.


Still in the Tent:

One, two, three…

Oh, screw it.

"Right," Ray says, and slides a hand around the back of Fraser's neck, soft hair tickling the back of his hand, and pulls him into a kiss, going straight for tongue; it's been six months and three stops at various villages, two shared showers, and a tiny tent in the middle of nowhere. What was Fraser doing through all that? Nothing.

"Ray," Fraser says against his mouth, and Ray gives up and pushes him over on his back, catching the next word on his tongue and pushing it back into Fraser's mouth in answer.

Ray figures that maybe it's his turn to answer some questions.
Tags: fic: other fandoms
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