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by s.a.

Date: Friday, February 07, 2003 12:58 AM

     Title: Follow
     Author: s.a.
     Rating: PG.
     Pairing: Fraser/Kowalski.
     Fandom: due South.
     Summary: Beyond the red wool.
     Disclaimer: Other people's gardens. I just like to play in them.
     Spoilers: Not a specific episode, but post-Mountie on the
     Bounty and pre-Call of the Wild.
     Feedback: It's the best kind of crack. email:
     Distribution: Hole in the Ground,; List archives. Just ask.
     Author's Notes: One more in my ongoing exploration of due
     South. Another one of those things briefly addressed in
     fanfic, but never really explored.

"How much of you is the Mountie? Really?" Ray shouted, throwing his hands in the air.

Fraser shifted uncomfortably in his chair, his tongue peeking out to stroke his bottom lip nervously. "I'm sorry, Ray, I don't know what you mean."

Ray glared at him, stomped up right into his face and peered into his eyes. "How much of the guy I talk to in the morning, eat takeout with every other night, and catch the bad guys with is the Mountie, and how much is the man?"

He paused, puzzling over the question, noting that his boots needed to be shined again, and looked up. "Well, Ray, I don't really see that there's a difference."

Ray gave him a pained look and sat down across from him, placing his hands on the table. Fraser had the uncomfortable notion that that was how Ray tended to interview his suspects.

"It's just, that, Fraser--Ben--you drive me crazy, like you don't even know. You can do anything, everything. You defy the laws of physics on a daily basis--you're like SuperMountie, and sometimes it sucks being Jimmy Olsen."

Ray held up his hand, probably, Fraser mused, to prevent him from responding. He chose to acquiesce. For the moment.

"At the same time, Frase, I know you hate that. You don't think I can see it, the way that look flashes on your face like you'd rather be anyone but you, anywhere but here. I know every flinch and tick you have, Fraser, I've studied it. You. Fraserology. I've practically fucking majored in it.

"I know that when I see that lip lick, or the eyebrow thing, or the neck cracking thing, or one of like a million other signs, that you hate it. You. Everything. I know it, 'cause I've been there. It's like looking into a mirror, only--not."

Ray paused for a deep breath, took a good look at Fraser. He was looking at his hands, tightly clutched in his lap. Ray sighed and launched himself over the table to wrench Fraser's right hand away and clasp it in his own. Fraser looked shocked at the touch, the intrusion.

"It's like," Ray continued, softly, "at the end of the day, we're buddies, right? And things are cool, because I watch your back and you watch mine and even though I can't mime or build a house or tie a knot or whatever else it is you do, it's cool because I know that none of that stuff matters with you. You don't even realize you're doing it half the time, which is why I get so angry and frustrated and, like, forgiving all the time.

"And I drive you home, to that little tin can you call a living space, and you just smile at me and everything seems okay, but I know it's not. It's like when I got you to punch me, and it hurt like a motherfucker, only this hurts all the time.

"And most of the time I want to get out of the car and follow you, talk to you or make you do something to deal with this, to admit you're tired and claustrophobic and unhappy, but I'm double-parked and some asshole is honking at me so I just look at you again, flip them the bird and drive off to stare at the TV till I fall asleep.

"Because, Fraser--Benton--I think what's really stopping you from saying all this stuff, from talking to me, from trusting me, is that you've been a Mountie all your life. I bet even when you were a kid you knew you were going to be a Mountie and you practiced all the time until it seemed weird to not be the Mountie, and that's all you've got left so there's only this little tiny sliver of Benton Fraser, not the Mountie, the guy from Canada who's stuck in the wrong country in a city full of schmucks with no forest and one wolf."

Fraser's eyes didn't move from their spot on the floor, and one part of his mind was desperately counting the flecks in the tile he was concentrating on. He heard the scrape of Ray's chair as he backed up to move around the table, but he didn't look up.

"But most of all, Ben," Ray said, his voice raspy and harsh, "I really just wanted to do this," and he kissed him for a moment that seemed like every year of Fraser's life, doubled.

Ray pulled back and leaned against the table, still grasping Fraser's hand. "So, um," Ray mumbled, "do you hate me now? Because I'd understand if you did. You can hit me again, if you want," he offered.

Fraser stared dumbly at the wall. "No--no thank you, Ray, I'd rather not hit you."

Ray fidgeted, his leg jumping madly, and Fraser reached out a tentative hand to calm him. "I like Audrey Hepburn movies," he said suddenly, looking up at Ray, willing him to understand. Ray nodded hard, and blindly moved to pull Fraser into a hug.

If you enjoyed this story, please send feedback to s.a.

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