Part 1 /2
– This is less than beta-ed, this is so far un-betaed it’s a wonder if you find any coherent text between typos, grammar mistakes and logical insconsistencies! –
Fraser was in hot pursuit of the man who had brutally bashed the pub owner before taking the content of the cash register and making a run for it.
The bald man with the black leather jacket rounded the corner and Fraser heard Ray shout his name somewhere behind him but he was so close, he knew he could bring him in, so he rounded the corner – only to be met with a two-by-four to the head.
The crack of the impact was deafening and the last thing Fraser saw was the smirk of the fugitive and Ray’s face somewhere in the distance when he started to fall backwards from the force of the collision.
When he came to he saw green trees and smoke in the air. He blinked a few times but the image remained solid.
He looked around and found the vestiges of a light aircraft. This all seemed strangely familiar.
He felt nauseated and the blackness was pulling at him. Fraser tried to remain conscious but he started to lose focus and the next thing he knew everything went black.
Fraser had no idea how long he had been unconscious but he could still hear the sounds of animals and the rustle of trees even though he couldn’t see a single thing when he next regained consciousness.
“Ray?” he asked unsure.
“Yeah?” was the relieved reply. That was… strange. Ray’s voice sounded unusual.
“Where are we?” Fraser asked, hoping against hope that Ray would disabuse him of the notion that he was reliving an old memory of his.
There was a sigh before Ray answered.
“I couldn’t say for sure but it looks as if we crashed down right in the middle of this jungle.”
“Ah, I see,” Fraser answered, thinking ‘please let this be a bad dream’. After a second of thought he added, “Or rather I don’t see but I understand what you mean.”
In the next instant he felt a warm hand on his arm.
“What do you mean ‘you can’t see’?” Ray’s voiced was urgent even though it still sounded off. Had Ray Vecchio’s voice always sounded like this?
“It means I’m blind, Ray.”
“Holy shit!” There was some more cursing, but the comforting arm stayed on his arm. “Okay, I got you. Don’t worry, you’ll be alright all we need to do is get you to a hospital and—“
“Ray, the man who hijacked our plane is still at large. It is our duty to apprehend him before he can harm any more people.”
“Fraser, are you unhinged?” Fraser started almost violently.
This wasn’t Ray Vecchio at all! He had completely underestimated the power of assumption; the brain would gladly provide the framework for any given situation.
He had only expected the former Ray Vecchio which was why he hadn’t even entertained the notion that he could relive this particular episode with Ray Kowalski.
But he would recognize this parlance everywhere.
“Ray, it’s you! I mean, of course, it’s you but it is the new you. I wasn’t prepared for that.”
There was a shocked gasp before Ray’s voice sounded slightly hysterical near his ear again.
“Fraser, we are going to get you to a hospital right this instant. If you can’t even tell who I am then God knows what you’ll try next.”
“No, no, Ray. I assure you I’m fine – I was merely surprised.”
“Surprised?” Ray repeated doubtfully.
“I am capable of handling myself in any given situation, Ray. Right now it is paramount that we bring the fugitive criminal in before anyone else comes to harm.”
Ray’s long suffering sigh made it perfectly clear that he was long used to this pattern.
“You won’t stop pestering me before I agree, right? – And if I say ‘no’ I only end up doing it anyway …fine, let’s go bring him in. But you’ll accompany me to a hospital afterwards – just that we’re clear on this point.”
“Whatever,” Ray said well aware that Fraser would bring up enough reasons never having to set foot inside of a hospital once they got their man.
Fraser fished inside of his pockets and produced a small compass.
“Can you read a compass, Ray?”
“Of course Fraser, it was all part of my boy scout training, along with ‘talking to squirrels’ and ‘talking to owls for advanced learners’,” Ray answered sarcastically.
“Well, Ray, we’ll have to head west. We should come across a river valley then.” He handed Ray the compass.
“Greatness,” Ray said trying to make sense of the compass.
“Okay, okay,” Ray’s voice sounded slightly forced. “I can do this. West is— that way,” he mumbled.
“Ray, if you just keep talking it will be quite simple for me to follow you—“
“Talking? Fraser you could just put your hand—“
“I assure you I still have four senses intact. There isn’t a thing in this forest that I can’t hear, taste, touch, smell, feel. It’s a finely tuned ability gained from years of experience. So if you’ll just stand aside I’ll be on my —“
“Fraser!” Ray shouted – too late.
The ‘thud’ with which Fraser’s skull connected with a low tree branch had Ray wincing.
“This looked like it hurt,” Ray commented.
“A simple miscalculation on my part. A white ash, Fraxinus americania to be exact, branches close to the ground. Shall we?”
“Fine, have it your way.”
Ray stopped them when they came to a cliff. There was no damn river to be seen and certainly no other sign of civilization. Shit! Fraser should really see a doctor with that head wound. Stay calm, Ray told himself, Fraser doesn’t have to know how bad this looks.
“Ray, can you describe what you see, the river should be just about here.”
Ray silently worried his lower lip for a second.
“Yeah, just a bit further Frase.”
“Perfect. Onward,” and Fraser started to walk off the cliff.
Ray flung himself out and snatched Fraser around the chest.
“You always do this, do not do this Fraser,” Ray panted angrily.
“Do what Ray?”
“Do your own thing! You can’t even fucking see! So let me do this, ‘kay? I just—I just need a moment, is all.”
Well, the cliff made direction an easy decision. There was only one side they could go if they didn’t want to go back.
“It’s dangerous here, alright? I know, I know, you can navigate by smell and whatnot but right at the moment, I don’t care. So let’s just skip the demonstration for now, okay? Just grab some part of me and hold on.”
Fraser had a stubborn set to the jaw but after a second hesitation he nodded. “Very well, Ray.”
They walked silently for a moment before Fraser spoke again.
“Ray, I can feel the sun on the left hand side of my nose.”
Ray’s effort to roll his eyes was completely wasted on the blind Mountie.
“I think you’re a little off.”
More than a little if you asked Ray but what was he supposed to do? Jump down the cliff? Jeez… Fraser couldn’t do anything about the non-existent river either so all Ray had to do was make believe – he had always aced ‘make believe’ in school and in life, this should be easy.
“Trust me Fraser it’s easier this way. I’m just leading us around –uh- an obstacle.”
“Ray, even an error of one or two degrees could put us—“
“I know what I’m doing. I spent a few nights in the wilderness without any guide, alright? And I still found my way back, just for your information.”
“Alone?” Fraser asked.
Ray was quiet for a moment. “With …Jimmy Perkins, okay? …it doesn’t matter.”
They walked for hours without coming across either a river or help.
Just a moment ago Ray had even thought he’d recognized a bush that was shaped a bit like a turtle – if you squinted. They climbed up another small hill and when they reached the top Ray took in the scene in front of him.
He really hated having to admit defeat.
“I think we’re lost,” he said quietly.
“We merely don’t know where we are, Ray. Being lost is usually accompanied by a feeling of panic that causes people to walk in circles until they, well, eventually they die but as I said we—“
“It’s the plane crash,” Ray said annoyed.
“Another one? What are the odds?” Fraser asked surprised.
“No, you freak. Our, it’s our damn plane crash. WE walked in circles.”
Suddenly shots rang out and Ray shouted “Get down” before he pushed Fraser behind the cover of a tree.
He pulled out his back up gun and fired in the vague direction. There was a dull sound when the bullet hit a tree. Shit, only two more left.
Ray aimed again and fired two more rounds into innocent green stuff.
“Ray your aim is truly appalling!” Fraser complained.
“You know I don’t see all that good without my glasses,” Ray mumbled.
“Then might I suggest you put them on?” Fraser asked annoyed.
“They didn’t survive the crash, okay?” He snapped. “I can see, just not good enough to make out one lone criminal hidden in this green jumble.”
There was rustling in the trees that got further and further away from them until it was quiet again.
Ray pocketed his useless gun and rubbed his neck. “Let’s see if we can find anything useful at the wreckage.”
Ray pulled on one of the almost ruined passenger seats and finally managed to get one out in the open. He pushed Fraser into one of them.
“Just wait here for a second. I’ll check if we really can’t do anything about the equipment of the plane.”
Ray climbed into the cockpit and gave the radio another go. The light on the damn thing was still flashing but all he managed to pick up was white noise. Great, radio silence, big fucking help.
It wasn’t like he had really expected it to work – sometimes he just didn’t like being right.
He tried sending an SOS signal again but with the state the radio was in it was impossible to tell if anything got through – and who might receive it. Maybe he was only alerting the polar bears with his radio waves.
Ray ransacked the rest of the stuff left inside of the plane but safe for a few bottles of water and a blanket there wasn’t much to work with. Dief was a wolf, couldn’t he come up with something for dinner?
When he climbed out again Fraser was unraveling a bandage. He walked over and took it out of his hands.
“Here, let me.” He pressed the cloth against the gash and fastened the bandage around Fraser’s head. Dief whined softly.
“Yeah, I don’t like it either, furface,” Ray murmured with a slight smile at the wolf.
Ray surveyed the wood next to their makeshift fireplace. At least something he could do; he might not be the biggest guy for survival in the wilderness but he was really, really good at barbecues.
In Ray’s mind he had spent half his teenage years at some BBQ area in forests or parks, he and a few buddies – no girls allowed – having a couple of beers and leaving the sausages too long in the flames and laughing about it afterwards. He smiled.
True, they had mostly used charcoal but they had built real fires often enough when they still thought that they had to prove their masculinity in some ridiculous way.
That was before Jimmy went out and… he shook his head, it didn’t matter anymore. It was a long time ago.
He started arranging the branches and the tinder.
“You know what I’m guessing… “ Fraser said. “I’m guessing the blow I received caused a subdural hematoma the resulting swelling of the anterior cerebrum put pressure on the optic nerve. Well at least it’s not getting any worse. If I became disorientated, we’d really be in a pickle.”
The next thing Ray knew the fire he had just been about finished building was forcefully destructed by 190 pounds of Canadian Mountie.
“Ray if you’re going to insist on moving this thing you really should tell a body.”
Ray looked at Fraser with a shocked expression on his face, he was just glad that Fraser couldn’t see his wide-eyed stare. He was really beginning to feel afraid for Fraser.
“Fraser, I—“ he thought of something comforting he could say when Fraser interrupted him.
“No need to apologize, Steve.”
Steve? Ray mouthed silently.
He stood up and gripped Fraser by the upper arms, peering intently at his face.
“Who am I, Fraser? Answer me!”
“Don’t be silly, Ray. I know who you are. I don’t suffer from memory loss.”
“Good… good,” Ray said trying to calm his heartbeat.
“Fraser if you don’t have any objections to my identity, can you just sit down again and let me finish the damn fire before we freeze to death?”
“You will need more tinder.”
Ray hung his head and rubbed his face. Fraser really, really wasn’t terribly good at this let-others-take-charge-for-once-thing.
“Be right back.” He went to get more tinder, more to get away than because he really believed that they needed it. This was just Fraser’s inability to surrender control.
Fuck! He was driving him nuts! Even after all this time Fraser couldn’t just freak out because he was blind all of a sudden and let Ray handle this – Ray couldn’t be any worse at this than Fraser the blind bat!
Okay, okay. Fraser was probably freaking out which was probably exactly the reason why he was trying so hard. Jesus… only a freak like Fraser would feel the need to prove something when he was stone blind.
Ray would be busy just keeping it together.
Fine, Ray could humor him – couldn’t be any worse than Ray’s fumbling.
“Where are you going?” he heard Fraser call when he approached their campsite.
“You wanted more tinder, didn’t you?” Ray asked puzzled. Maybe Fraser did have memory issues after all.
Ray relieved himself of his burden and rebuilt the fire.
While he was working Fraser started talking again. Ray wondered if it felt reassuring to Fraser, being able to at least hear himself if he couldn’t see himself to make sure he was still there?
When he was a small kid Ray had believed that he could become invisible if he closed his eyes hard enough in the dark… yeah, Ray had been a bit of an odd child when he was young.
“The wood’s damp. Matches may not be the solution,” Fraser paused for a moment. “You know Ray, my father taught me how to build a fire when I was 6 years old. He took me out into the woods, gave me a piece of flint and a hunk of granite and he walked away without turning back.”
Ray watched Fraser for a moment. Maybe others had had an even shoddier childhood. “Are you sure he was trying to teach you how to built one? I mean, how were you supposed to know how it’s done?”
The longer he knew Benton Fraser the more Ray felt that his childhood explained a lot of things.
“You know the funny thing, I have absolutely no memory of the fire itself but I have this very vivid memory of the darkness and knowing that I was all alone.”
That was the saddest thing Ray had ever heard.
“When I was thirteen I had this buddy, Jimmy Perkins, he always had a rough time at home. Father was always drunk, he would hit him when he came home late… but of course, he always came home late because then he wouldn’t have to find his mother crying,” Ray sighed and rubbed a hand through his hair.
Fraser watched him silently.
“So one night, Jimmy wanted me to run away with him. And that’s what we did,” Ray chuckled quietly.
“We camped in the woods for two nights, none of us had any idea what we were doing, we only had milkduds and other sweets as provisions… quite heroic, huh?”
“I think it takes a certain amount of bravery from a thirteen year old to brave a forest at night.”
“Yeah, well… it only lasted those few days before we eventually had to get back.” Ray didn’t want to think about the reason why now.
“I’ll be right back… I need… we could use a bit more of the stuff that helps the fire burning.”
He went back between the trees and once he was out of earshot he started cursing.
“Shit, shit, shit!” He kicked a tree. He had not wanted to think about this particular memory. Fuck! And now Fraser was sitting out there, blind as a goldfish and Ray couldn’t do a single thing to help! Fuck!
“Stanley Raymond Kowalski!”
Oh no. This prim voice was Ray’s least favorite by a long shot. At some point in his life Ray’s voice of reason had started to sound like Mrs. McDevitt, his English teacher in Junior High. He had hated her with a passion… she had always made him do lines when she caught him using a four-letter word.
He could almost see her in front of him, with her librarian style glasses and her hair in a tight bun.
“You are not responsible for this man. It is quite obvious that his mental state is more than a little worrisome. Don’t you have any survival instinct at all, Stanley?”
She had always been a right old cow.
“He’s not just any man, he’s my best friend… and he was crazy right from the start.”
“He’s only going to get you killed. Where will you be then with your foolish loyalty?”
“I’d rather die trying to save him then live with myself for the rest of my life for abandoning him!”
Ray realized that he was shouting at thin air. Suddenly it made a world of sense that Fraser was always carrying on a conversation with no one but himself.
He needed rest, desperately so evidently.
He sighed and returned to the camp site. He looked at the matchbook in his hand and then back at Fraser who sat there looking pale, with his bandaged head and a tired twist around the mouth.
“Hey Frase, I seem to have problems with the finger thing. Think you can help me with it?” He tried to suppress the smile at Fraser’s eager expression.
“Certainly Ray, if you’d just hand me the matches.”
Ray got up and pushed them into Fraser’s waiting fingers. It didn’t even take Fraser any effort at all to get the fire going, eyesight or no eyesight.
He handed Fraser a blanket.
“Thank you. I’ll go get some rest. We’re going to have to double our pace if we want to catch him tomorrow.”
“Fraser… “ Ray closed his mouth again. If that’s what it took for Fraser to see this through than he would play along.
“Good night,” he said instead.
“Good night Steve.”
Ray’s head snapped up again to look at Fraser. Ray didn’t care if they ever caught this guy but Fraser needed to see a doctor. The way he saw it, they needed to reach the river whether Fraser wanted to get his man or if he wanted to get Fraser back to civilization.
He just feared that getting out of here and catching the guy was related despite what he or Fraser might prefer – with Fraser it usually was. He was a magnet or something when it came to crime, the perps probably couldn’t even help crossing his path.