Attention: This is very strongly, if not to say directly, inspired by the song “Unusual Way” by Frank Griffith and I would dearly recommend listening to this song while reading it or beforehand.
‘I had known on our very first meeting that you were different. I am proud to call you my friend. And we are friends, right, Ray? Our start was certainly unusual, as all the rest of our time together… I am sorry that I had been so hard on you that very first day but I was hurt when I returned and found Ray Vecchio gone… it wasn’t your fault but it wasn’t easy to deal with this loss.
But you came to me with open arms and you offered me everything I could hope from a friend. You were right next to me, again and again no matter what the danger was. You trusted me, for better or worse, you stayed by my side. Never doubt that I’ve cherished your friendship more than anything else in my life.
I don’t know when I realized that I felt much more for you than friendship. I know I was instantly drawn to you. Yet, the exact moment is impossible to pinpoint but… at some point… I crossed the line. I love you, Ray; more than you’ll ever know.
And now…’ his throat constricted, ‘I have to watch you go, I have to watch you leave,’ Fraser swallowed the tears that rose up.
‘The few meters between us seem like a vast chasm and you’re getting further away with every step. I know I have to let you go. Chicago is your city, it is your home. The people you love are waiting for you back there… but I… I won’t, I will be standing here, still 2.850 kilometers away.’
Ray had only one bag slung over his shoulders. He had been ecstatic when he found out that Frannie had sent him his leather jacket, stating that he was probably itching for something stylish to wear again.
And Ray had grinned and shrugged it on and said something adorably foolish like Who would’ve thought you get four seasons in Canada? It’s warm, Fraser! No ice in sight.
And it might have been important for Ray that the summer had returned after their time on the quest with nothing but snow and ice around for miles and miles.
To Fraser summer had only signaled the end of their adventure… and the end of his time with Ray.
The sunlight gleamed on the soft leather of the jacket while Ray made his way through the entrance hall of the Yellowknife airport towards his gate. So far it couldn’t be more than 5 meters away but it felt like a life time.
‘You’ve won, Ray. I’ve never told you, but you have. I said I don’t gamble and I still don’t and yet, somehow, you managed to conquer me. You’ve won my heart as effortlessly as if I had offered it to you on a silver platter.
Trust is something that does not come easily to me… which caused you no little agony, I know. But somehow… I’ve surrendered. Your idiosyncratic personality and the depth of your emotions that your face and your body betray even when you tried to hide them… they made it impossible for me to resist.
You don’t know it, maybe you suspect it, but you were my only reason Ray. You were the reason I’ve stayed in Chicago, the reason I wanted to go on our adventure looking for the hand of Franklin, you were the reason for my hope… my belief… my love.’
Ray was half-way to the security check and Fraser wanted to look away, he didn’t want to see the man he loved leave. But he had a penchant for punishing himself and he felt unable to look away.
Fraser swallowed the bitterness he felt in his mouth like ashes.
‘You don’t know Ray… because I’ve never told you. You are completely oblivious to the effect you have upon me, unaware of the hold you have. You’re beautiful, Ray. Another thing I’ve never told you and certainly something you wouldn’t agree with.
You don’t see what I see when I look at you. I ache with tenderness when I hear your self-deprecating talk when all I can do is admire your tenacity, your brazenness and your gentle heart.
I’m afraid, Ray. You can’t imagine how much my love for you scares me. The sheer depth of my feelings for you makes me vulnerable, a position I have never mastered. The level of my dependence on you rocks the very core of me.
It is the reason why I have never told you any of this; your rejection is something I cannot even imagine to face. I am not certain if my poor heart would survive it, battered and bruised as it already is.
And yet, you deserve to know. You made me the man I am today, Ray. All of you, your brazen behavior, your foul language, your personal attitude and your openness, all of it took its toll on me.
You are a very unpredictable man, Ray Kowalski. I can’t remember ever meeting someone as distracting as you are.
You rattled me; you enveloped me with the strength of your emotions, the fierceness with which you confront everything head-on and your very own silver-tongued way of expressing yourself.
Everything we’ve been through together and everything I’ve learned about myself I have only you to thank for and I am deeply grateful for it. I am not sure what I will do when you’re gone and I have no one that takes it upon himself to go to painstaking lengths to get a look behind my mask.
Isn’t it ironic that you had always assumed I would leave the first chance I got? When I can’t even walk away from you now? I’m still standing here, Ray. I could never turn my back on you.
I didn’t have the courage to ask you to stay, neither the defiance to demand that you take me back with you but I am not leaving you, Ray. You are the one walking away from me and I couldn’t put a single step more between us were you to stop walking now.
But of course you don’t. You squared your shoulders, lifted your bag and marched straight on once we had said goodbye…’
Fraser tried to keep the smile on his face with every bit of willpower he possessed.
‘Goodbye… I said goodbye to you, the one thing I had hoped I would never have to say. It was foolish to believe that the day of our separation would never come but I had hoped so dearly that it wouldn’t.’
Ray was almost at the security check where a guard was currently patting-down a slightly overweight, middle-aged man.
‘Oh god… Ray. You are the one true thing in my life. You can probably never comprehend how very special you are to me. You’ve turned my whole life upside down; there is nothing that compares to how dear I hold you in my heart.
You’ve changed everything the moment you entered my life. You and your most uncommon behavior, welcoming a total stranger with an engulfing hug and an open smile… I’ve never told you how profound your impact on me was.
Uncommon is perhaps the best way to describe you… unique… inimitable… unrivaled… I was never a match for you; the way you make yourself vulnerable by wearing your heart on your sleeve is something I could never hope to resist. You’ve touched my very soul, right down to the very core of my being.
I don’t think that anything will ever be able to fill the hole your departure creates. You’ve made me whole, Ray. You complement my weaknesses, you balance me. I fully expect to live with this loss for the rest of my life… nothing, not even your friendship over a distance, will ever be enough compared to having you walk beside me.’
Ray was now the next in line for the pat-down, maybe 20 meters away… and after this security measure he would be gone for good…
“Ray!” I shout and my voice shakes so badly I marvel that it doesn’t break.
Ray turns around instantly, a puzzled frown on his face which turns into a grin when he looks at me.
“I—“ I falter. “Ah… have a safe trip,” I finish lamely.
Ray shakes his head in amusement a grin curving the corners of his mouth.
“Fraser, it’s a Canadian airplane!” And he stresses the word ‘Canadian’ as if it was spelled s-e-c-u-r-e.
The guard addresses Ray and Ray turns back around with a flourish and shrugs apologetically.
Too fast, too soon Ray is through the security check and he turns around and waves one last time before turning around to move to his gate.
I close my eyes tightly.
I think I’m going to break apart.
(Sequel can be found here)