The vast whiteness was actually really beautiful… in a scary way. Ray just couldn’t appreciate it at the moment. He was dead tired; he could literally sleep on his feet.
“Ray,” Fraser’s voice sounded stern or maybe he was just worried. “You have to pay attention where you’re stepping.”
“Uh-hu,” Ray nodded. This tracking through the wilderness was a lot more exhausting than it looked and the stupid snow shoes made everything that bloody bit harder.
Ray knew that he had to be on his game for this. Fissures or whatever they were called, those cracks in the ice that were covered by snow and—
Suddenly the ground gave way beneath him. Ray looked shocked but was absolutely helpless to do anything about it. The ground was slipping beneath him and Ray tried to reach for something but there was nothing, only air.
The wind rose up to meet him and Ray almost wanted to laugh because didn’t they tell you that you could see your whole life flashing by in moments like this? This was like the damn scene from this Hitchhiker movie with the stupid flower pot.
Ray heard a shocked gasp leave his lips but no scream followed.
All he could see was the blue sky above him as his body started to go over backwards.
And where would this leave him? Just another missing person on this hand of Franklin quest and Fraser would never forgive himself for it and—
Ray’s feet lost the last bit of firm ground beneath him but even though his heart beat a panicked rhythm he felt completely calm. His mind felt crystal clear for maybe the first time in his life – as if time itself had stopped.
He called Fraser’s name, at least that’s what he thought he shouted because the sound seemed to take forever to leave his throat.
Maybe he could come back as a ghost? Keep Fraser company for a bit longer? If he only broke his neck Fraser might still be able to look at him without flinching.
Ray’s arms flailed with the pull of gravity and a feeling of weightlessness set in.
There wasn’t much he was regretting; he’d had his adventure after all. But… Fraser….
Probably the biggest regret of all.
Maybe it was better this way, that Fraser never knew how much Ray loved him. That way Ray couldn’t fuck it up and— bullshit, God, what a load of crap.
Nothing could be good about dying like this! Without stealing even one kiss from Fraser. He had to kick the bucket without even knowing how Fraser’s lips felt like. That sucked.
Ray could just about make out the edge of the fissure, so the blue sky was probably going to be last thing he’d see. Not the worst image for an end.
How stupid was it that you couldn’t even look down to see how long you still had to live when everything was happening too fast and too slow at the same time? This was what timelessness felt like, everything happened at once and not at all.
Maybe Ray would be granted one last wish? He’d been a good guy… more or less anyway. And he had suffered Fraser for a partner for the last two and a half years, that had to count for something right? So maybe Ray could use his wish to tell Fraser how he felt after he was done breaking his neck in this ice crevasse thing.
Falling was a funny feeling, like you weren’t really there because you couldn’t really feel yourself.
But that wouldn’t be fair to Fraser now would it? Saying, by the way buddy, I’m dead now but I just wanted to say ‘I love you’ and I thought hey, you might have been in love with me, too, while I was still alive because you agreed to do this adventure stuff with me. I guess it’s too late now; I just wanted you to be miserable for the rest of your life because now you know what you could’ve had.
Nah, Ray wasn’t such an ass. He just wished… and wasn’t that the only thing he’d ever done? Wishful thinking? If he’d just said something earlier…
It was too late now anyway – maybe he should close his eyes? Might make it easier, he could simply ignore his own death.
His hand reached out towards to world above him on its own accord, the edge didn’t look that far away just too far for Ray’s hand to reach – and wasn’t that the story of Ray’s life? – and suddenly Fraser’s face appeared over the edge, face pale with fear but the jaw was set in grim determination and it all happened in an instant while it took forever to take place, but Fraser’s hand closed in a firm grip on Ray’s wrist and Ray heard Fraser’s exhalation of breath as his fall was halted all of a sudden and Fraser was rocked with the force of Ray’s weight.
Ray looked up wide eyed. Fraser managed a small smile of relief even though supporting Ray’s weight with one arm could not be comfortable.
Ray was alive. He wasn’t going to die at all. He still had time. This was his second chance.
Fraser started to pull and Ray looked up at him with a giddy mixture of happiness and disbelief.
“Fraser, I love you.”
Fraser almost lost his grip on him. For a second he looked at Ray in utter shock before his face broke into a smile.
“And I you, Ray.”
Fraser pulled again and Ray managed to find a chunk of ice to use as a foothold and with a bit of effort Fraser dragged him back to the world above.
“Ah, what brought this on exactly, Ray?” Fraser asked while color started to return to his cheeks.
“Are you kidding?” Ray asked dumbfounded. “I almost DIED!” Ray wasn’t alone with this, he knew that. He had read about countless other people that had near death experiences – it did stuff to you.
Fraser’s tongue crept out to wet his lips but the grin appeared anyway.
“Actually, Ray you were still secured with the climbing rope,” Fraser gave the cord that ran between them a soft tug. “I was prepared for the pull so you would only have fallen another 3 feet and 54 inches before it would have caught you had I not managed to reach you myself.”
Ray’s jaw dropped open. He had completely forgotten about the rope.
“Uh, I…” Ray rubbed his neck. “I didn’t think of that.”
Fraser smiled. “Did you mean what you said?”
“Yes.” Ray said defiantly.
“Come here,” Fraser said quietly and pulled Ray close against him. He pressed his lips to Ray’s in a soft kiss.
“We should really talk about your level of concentration, Ray… but I’ll give you a free pass this time.” Fraser smiled shyly.
Ray grinned knowingly. “Really? Lucky me. And why’s that?”
“Those were,” he licked his lips, “exceptional circumstances.”
“Exceptional circumstances, how so?” Ray tried to rein his grin in but he was feeling so giddy it was a lost battle.
“Ray, you almost died after all,” Fraser replied cheekily so Ray had to kiss him again just to shut him up.