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To Unburden

by s.a.

Date: Monday, March 31, 2003 1:01 PM

     Title: To Unburden
     Author: s.a.
     Rating: PG13, slash
     Pairing: Fraser/Kowalski
     Fandom: due South
     Disclaimer: I don't make up the 'verses, I just fuck with them.
     Spoilers: The Kowalski years.
     Feedback: Always appreciated. email: sa@bluezfire.org
     Distribution: HiTG, http://hole.adamao.org as well as list
     archives. Everyone else, just ask.
     Author's Notes: This falls into the Bordello's Backwards
     Challenge--i.e., write a story from end to beginning. I'm
     grateful to Nestra for her patience and beta-skills.
     Summary: Fraser got out of bed and thought that it might be
     a good day.

a.

"Why didn't you just tell me?" Ray asks, tracing lazy patterns on Ben's arm.

"Because," and here Fraser pauses for a moment, carefully weighing his response before speaking, "I couldn't risk it all without having some idea of how you would react."

"Well, that's really stupid, Fraser."

"Yes, I know."

"Any dumbass could've seen this from day one."

"Yes, I know that too."


b.

So sweet, so slow. So different from what he expected. An ache he'd never acknowledged, finally soothed.

Warm hand on him, cradling him, then moving back and forth in a motion so tuned to the paced rhythm within him that he cannot help but cry out, cannot help but spill out Ray's name as though it were the only word he knows. Lips drag across his own, and the sensation transfixes him into stunned blindness. This is it, this is it, why had he been so worried when this is what came of it all--


c.

Ray is stunned into speechlessness, followed by incomprehensible muttering, and finally pacing.

And then he takes Fraser's hand and drags him back towards the bedroom.


d.

Fraser's picking at his food, which is never good, always a bad sign, because the man eats for survival, which means packing away as much as he needs and then waiting patiently for Ray to finish.

But instead he's looking at his burrito like it's telling him the secret code to destroy Siberia, and Ray can feel the tension coming off of him in waves, like when he's out on the lake and he puts his hand down to the water just to feel the lapping against his palm.

He pokes Fraser's foot with his own, and waits expectantly when Fraser's head bobs up. Fraser just gives him a weak smile and then goes back to his food, which makes Ray huff out a sigh and shovel down the rest of his Mexican rice, making sure to pocket some fajita meat into his napkin for Dief. Fraser doesn't even do him the courtesy of looking on disapprovingly, which just makes Ray a little more upset.

Finally he finishes off his beer and bangs it on the table loud enough that it pulls Fraser out of his zone and interrupts the conversation in the next booth over. Ray doesn't apologize. He puts his palms flat on the table, captures Fraser's wandering gaze, and grits out, "What the hell is wrong with you, Frase?"


e.

It's three in the morning, and something smells odd in the kitchen of the Consulate. It pays to be thorough, Benton tells himself, and pads to the rather dismal room, harsher now because of the fluorescent lights warring against the night-darkness outside.

He spends an hour hunting for the oddity that tweaked his olfactory senses, going through every cupboard and drawer. He finds it eventually, a mere crumb of cheese that managed to fall behind the sink's counter, and he harrumphs to himself over this small conquering.

Benton is not a night owl, and while the occasional night-long stakeout can be a refreshing change of pace, he requires at least six hours of unbroken sleep. Which he most certainly will not be achieving tonight, he tells himself with apathy.

He is self-aware enough to know that he has fashioned a channel for his own denial--though he honestly does not know what to do otherwise. His father chimed in with the oh-so-helpful advice of "just face up to it, son," which, while appreciated, does not really aid the issue at hand. He can't face it, and he obviously is not mentally prepared for the task if he is dipping this far into denial.

Perhaps he can try this "facing up" thing when he meets Ray for dinner tomorrow night.


f.

They are riding in the car with the radio tuned to some horrendous station, and Ray is telling a story about his brother, a goat, and the GTO, and he is laughing so hard he can barely hold the wheel.

When he turns to grin at Fraser, the sunlight coming through the window lights all around Ray's head, shining through his hair and illuminating his face with all the artistry of the hand of God.

Fraser's breath catches, and he thinks he has never loved a person more than he loves this man.

He finds, suddenly, that he cannot breathe.


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