Fandom: Due South
Disclaimer: Due South is the property of Alliance Atlantis. Written for fun not for profit
Words: ~5.140 Notes: Thanks to Ride_Forever for her stellar beta-skills 🙂
Summary: 5 times Ray felt out of his depth (and 1 time he needn’t have)
Inadequate. That’s a good word right there. Big word, too. The kind of word Ray never uses. He’d say fucked up or useless or stupid. But really, while it is fucked up and while Ray knows that everything he could do is useless and that he’s probably too stupid to come up with a good plan anyway, what he really feels, deep down, is this: inadequate.
It’s a Stella word. And it sends a jolt through Ray’s heart, staring at his signature underneath the divorce papers, how damn apt it is. He never was good enough, was he? He should’ve known, when he just about managed to scrape together a fair average and threw away his chances of going to college, that he could never be what Stella wanted him to be.
Forever the Gold Coast girl. So they were different. So they had different goals in life. So what? That doesn’t mean he has to feel as if their failed marriage is his fault. And he even knows that Stella doesn’t think it is – but that’s her part of the script, right? ’Cause they’re friends and if you split up and want to remain friends you say stuff, like, ‘it’s not your fault’ or ‘it’s not you, it’s me’. Which Ray knows is bullshit.
Shit. Sometimes, he thinks it’s his own helplessness that drove her away. That she couldn’t stand seeing how much he needed her. And that if he could just pull himself together and be strong for her, then everything would be okay.
But he can’t and he does – need her that much, that is – so he tries harder, ever more desperate, and she hates him a little bit more for being so damn needy.
His signature is his last effort to prove that he can do this; he can let her go. He’ll cope. Or at least he hopes so. But as month after month drifts by, he realizes it’s not so easy. He swallows hard with a glance at the calendar. 162 days. He can do this. Time will pass and then it will be 365 days, and then 812, and after a while he will forget to count.
There’s just one thing he can try – to protect himself, to not get hurt like that again – not to be so damn helpless.
Powerless. That’s what Ray feels like since he’s started working with the Mountie. That man is a damn steamroller. How is Ray even supposed to keep up? Fraser doesn’t even understand the word ‘no’ – how is Ray supposed to stay in control when his partner doesn’t even speak the same language?
Ray is pretty sure that he enunciated perfectly clearly when he told Fraser that they would not – under no circumstances – not ever – follow their suspect up a rickety fire escape to the roof. He still isn’t sure which part of the sentence Fraser did not understand.
Ray’s mouth had probably not even closed by the time Fraser was already halfway up the fire escape, calling ‘coming, Ray?’ – the nerve of the guy.
Partners. Ray reminded himself and bounded up the stairs after his crazy-assed friend. Maybe it’s the hat, Ray wonders. He remembers some science fiction movies in which a thinking cap or some other weird hat-like technical contraption influenced the wearer, making him believe the craziest shit. This sounds like Fraser alright – except Ray knows that Fraser does weird shit with or without the hat. Must be a Canadian thing then.
The resonating clang of his boots on the metal of the stairs is not the least bit reassuring. Did it have to be five stories? Before Ray can think anymore about it he has to watch Fraser jump from one building onto the roof of the next. Ray stares open-mouthed and dumbfounded for a second before he reaches the edge of the building. It’s not too far. Maybe 6 feet…. but come on, five stories – hello?
Ray’s not the praying kind but when he takes a few steps back to leap over the gap he promises God that he will not wank for a month and let the wolf have control of the remote for two weeks if he lets him survive this.
Once his feet hit the concrete on the opposite side, he wonders belatedly why he could go one month without wanking but only two weeks without control of the TV? It’s a sad statement about his sex life, is what it is.
When Ray reaches the end of the roof he finds Fraser and the perp in some odd Canadian/Chicagoan version of an Italo-Western standoff. The opposite roof is obviously too far to jump. Obviously. Who knows what the Canadian jury would have had to say about that. But at least the Chicago perp had enough sense in his head not to try.
Ray draws his weapon and advances slowly. One step at a time. All this hassle for one lousy pick-pocket, Ray thinks with a sigh. He and Fraser will really have to talk about proportional action.
For each step Ray takes, their fugitive wannabe criminal takes one back until he’s standing on the edge of the roof.
“Whoa, take it easy,” Ray cautions. “You do not wanna go over that edge. You would leave nothing more than a puddle on the pavement and a few shattered bones, you hear me? You want me to tell your mother that?”
The young man’s obviously still young enough to care for his mother and his eyes widen with a fearful glance at the nothingness behind him.
“Son,” Fraser says in a soothing voice, but the perp whips his head around – probably startled because he had been so focused on Ray’s gun for the last minute – and loses his balance.
Ray feels all color drain from his face as the man starts going over backwards. But there’s a flash of red and then Fraser’s hanging half over the edge of the building with a firm grip on the arm of their runaway.
A split second later, Ray is next to him and helps him pull up the frantic man. The guy is in a state of panic and Ray has a hard time just keeping his grip on him in order to help him over the edge. And when he finally pulls him onto the firm concrete, the man shoves him and Ray loses his balance. His knees collide with the low wall enclosing the roof and he feels himself falling backwards.
Which is not exactly a good idea five stories high on a roof at the edge of a building. The next moment, a hand holds Ray’s in a tight grip. Ray feels the skin on the palm of his free hand tear as the rough stone scrapes over it in his futile attempts to find some purchase.
“Are you alright?” One has to hand it to him, Fraser doesn’t sound that strained, even though he is solely supporting one skinny, but not weightless, Chicago detective.
“A little help would be appreciated,” Ray gasps.
Really, what was it about people way out of Ray’s league that made him go stupid over them? The Gold Coast lawyer wife – ex-wife – wasn’t enough, Ray needed the Canadian equivalent of Superman for a partner, too?
Secretly, Ray wonders if he is pathologically co-dependent. Ray frowns… that’s probably not the right word. Fraser would know the right one – but then Ray would have to tell him, which, no… some sick part of him apparently gets a kick out of being helpless and dependent on someone else. Ray really needed to stop that part.
Useless. Yeah, okay, so Ray is back to feeling useless. He’s probably not the only one who would feel like that in his situation. Ray’s pretty sure that other people, being handcuffed to the bottom of a boat – ship – whatever – with their own handcuffs no less, would feel equally stupid.
He was just so sick of always doing everything Fraser’s way. Ray had to pull his own weight at some point. Because someday, Fraser would go back to Canada and then Ray would be all on his own again and Ray has not forgotten how bad being left felt.
For a second Ray is startled because comparing your partnership of a little over a year was not exactly the same as thinking about your marriage falling apart… but this partnership… with Fraser… it’s nothing like losing his old partner O’Toole when he decided to take over the Vecchio gig.
Losing Fraser… that would be…
Ray doesn’t want to think about it. It’s Fraser fault after all, that Ray’s going to die a miserable, painful death in the watery hold of this stupid boat… ship… – how Ray knows that drowning is painful? Well, it’s bound to be, isn’t it? Just his luck.
And even after Fraser rescues him just in time the list keeps on growing. Just peachy, it all gets better and better. First, the lecture on neatness – and if Ray hadn’t felt completely useless before, he felt it when Fraser couldn’t find the key to his handcuffs because Ray simply owned to many fricking keys to make sense to any sane person – not even to Canadians, apparently.
And then, oh here comes the kicker, having to admit that he can’t swim, now that’s got to be the high point of Ray’s day.
Which brings him to his third point, almost drowning. Ray shudders just thinking what would have happened to him had Fraser not pressed his lips to Ray’s own. A blush creeps over Ray’s cheeks.
This isn’t the time to think about it anyway.
Being Fraser’s partner makes Ray’s marriage and his worries about seeming too needy back then look like a joke. Ray’s never needed anyone like he needs Fraser… even if he doesn’t consider all the times – make that all the time – when Fraser gets them in situations in which Ray needs his help simply to get out of them again.
Ray really doesn’t want to need Fraser like that.
Paralyzed. Scared. Terrified. Lost. Ray doesn’t need a dictionary to find enough words to cover his emotions. Sitting in a hospital brings them all into stark contrast. The words come floating up out of the darkness – almost detached from the feelings that are working Ray over.
It’s like he feels how clammy his hands are and his brain helpfully provides ‘nervous’. Or he realizes, because he can’t swallow anymore, how dry his throat has become and the word ‘fear’ appears in front of his mind’s eye in bold letters.
The ticking of the clock, though regular, is by no means soothing. It only brings to Ray’s attention how very long he has been sitting in the visitor chair.
He should be glad that he’s not the one in the hospital bed, he thinks bewildered. And then, I would give everything to swap places. But he can’t and why should this time be any different from all those others in which Ray could do absolutely nothing?
He thinks, almost choking on hysterical laughter, that he needs to be strong. If he never managed to stand on his own two feet, this is the time to start. He can’t give in to this helplessness, all the while he feels himself dissolve. Into panic. Into soul-deep despair. Into numbness. Yes, almost catatonic in its calmness.
He thought Stella leaving him was bad? Well, think again, he snaps at himself while his hand reaches for Fraser’s pale one – just to feel that it’s still warm. Like he has done countless times all night, probably every few seconds or so. By now it’s almost a reflex.
It’s warm. Ray sighs in relief, but he can’t bring himself to remove his hand.
He had told Fraser that it was too dangerous. That they should wait for backup. Ray glowers vindictively at Fraser’s almost lifeless form. Did Fraser listen? Oh no, of course not. After all, it was much better to get shot and be unconscious for the part where Ray could tell him ‘I told you so’ than simply listen to Ray and wait for once in his fucking life!
“Wake up, you bastard,” Ray shouts, the voice hoarse with tears. His fingers curl into the stupid hospital night-gown that Fraser is wearing and he starts shaking the motionless form.
“Wake up, you stupid son of a bitch! Don’t you dare die on me! I swore to myself that I would never again hurt so bad watching anyone leave, so don’t you dare leave me now—” Ray’s voice collapses finally and he falls back into his seat with a broken sob.
When morning comes, and the doctor pronounces Fraser’s condition stable and makes the cautious prognosis of his full recovery, Ray feels weak with relief.
Never. He swears to himself. Never again.
Vulnerable. Ray’s shaking ever so slightly. He feels open, like a book to which Fraser knows all the words by heart. Like the fingertips that follow each word, line after line, Fraser’s fingers write into Ray’s skin. Ray gasps.
He knows all his vows. He remembers each and every single time he swore that he would never give anyone that much power over him again.
But as he had correctly realized, right at the beginning of their partnership, he’s completely powerless when it comes to Fraser. And now here they are, right inside of Ray’s bedroom. How had they even ended up here?
Ray remembers how they had taken cover in a sudden gunfight, and how his body had slammed into Fraser’s, trying to get him to safety. He can still see Fraser’s eyes widening – at first Ray had thought in shock, but when Ray finally realized that he was still holding so very tightly onto Fraser and that there were voices of their backup, busy arresting their gunmen, he caught on that something in Fraser had finally clicked.
And Ray had opened his mouth to tell Fraser that it was nothing, that Fraser was wrong, but then his detective skills had alerted him to the fact that Fraser was neither looking as freaked out as he should, nor about to run away. That had given Ray pause. But only his brain, his mouth worked very well without any intelligent input. Which was why his mouth had simply gone on and produced words without Ray’s knowledge: “I’m gonna kiss you now, okay?” Ray had whispered and Fraser had managed one terse nod and then their lips had touched.
And now here they are. Instead of dumping Fraser at the consulate for some well-deserved rest, they had somehow ended up at Ray’s apartment. And Ray is still none the wiser whose idea that had been. But he isn’t complaining.
Fraser’s feverishly hot fingers are ghosting over every inch of Ray’s naked body they can reach. Fraser’s mouth is hot against his own and suddenly, Ray thinks he knows how he can take some control back.
He pulls away, holding tightly onto strands of Fraser’s hair, as his lips form heated words against the shell of Fraser’s ear. “Suck me,” Ray moans softly. Fraser’s answering gasp is the sweetest thing Ray has ever heard.
Eagerly, Fraser nips his way south and Ray feels his open-mouthed kisses as a fiery trail down his sweaty skin. Fraser moves down onto the floor and pushes Ray’s legs further apart. Holding his breath, Ray watches Fraser take him in.
The sight is almost enough to make him come. Fraser’s mouth is stretched tightly around his erection and his cheeks are flushed. It’s wet, oh god, wet, and tight and Fraser’s tongue is everywhere. Ray can hear the wet sucking of Fraser’s mouth. He feels Fraser’s lips stretch to hide his teeth and Ray shudders. His hips hitch up, into Fraser’s mouth, into that glorious wet heat, and Fraser lets him.
Fraser looks good like that, kneeling at Ray’s feet. And for once Ray can make himself believe that it’s not him always following Fraser around, not with Fraser looking up at him with those fierce eyes, lips wrapped tightly around his cock.
With a moan that is more a sob, Ray pushes in again, feels his cock sliding past Fraser’s velvet lips. Yes, Ray thinks, take it. Fraser looks like a choirboy, the dark hair and the dark lashes throwing shadows over the creamy, perfect skin. What Fraser’s mouth does, however, is nothing angels learn to do. Even though, if Ray has anything to say in it, this should be part of any Bible. Because this is something he could praise until his dying day. Fraser’s damn perfect mouth.
“Fraser” is therefore drawn from his lips without any conscious thought on his part; he doesn’t even recognize the voice, husky and low, as his own.
Ray knows that his knuckles must be white by now from his tight grip on the sheets, but he doesn’t care. This is so, so good. Just a bit more—
A slippery finger circles his hole all of a sudden and the moan is torn from Ray’s lips before he can think about it. He doesn’t think that he really wants that, but before he can decide, the finger has already entered him.
Whatever Ray had planned to say is lost in an inarticulate groan. Ray draws a deep breath into his lungs and the scent of his customary hand cream wafts up to him. He wants to think something like ‘sneaky Canadian’ or at least ‘way to be resourceful,’ but all he can think is ‘guh’.
Fraser’s isn’t in any hurry. He reaches deep into Ray, only to withdraw again a moment later and Ray feels his hips beginning to rise and fall with the movement – torn apart between the delicious choice of moving up into Fraser’s mouth or back onto his finger.
A whimper escapes Ray and a heartbeat later a second finger joins the first. Ray starts panting as the fingers stretch him. He wants to tell Fraser that he’s not ready, wants to explain to him that he can’t offer himself up just like that. It’s not that he’s afraid – or at least not afraid of the physical aspect. But he can’t surrender, not that easily, not that completely. Fraser already owns all of him – all of him but this.
Ray’s afraid that Fraser would penetrate him much, much deeper than just his body. And then Ray would be defenseless. There would be nothing left to keep Ray from wanting Fraser without rhyme or reason on top of needing him like air.
But there’s the third finger and still no articulate word has left Ray’s lips. Instead, he arches his back and Fraser sucks him harder – as if in reward. Three fingers feel thick, but Ray’s blood is already burning for the stretch of Fraser inside of him.
And it’s too late and he knows it. He wants to keep all of this from Fraser, how much he needs him – how much he wants him, but he knows that it shows. In every moan, in the way he bares his throat, in the barely contained movement of his hips, in the way his body sings at Fraser’s touch.
Fraser pushes his three fingers in as far as they can go and Ray feels the stretch at the base where the fingers meet the palm; he falls back, it’s too much, and his legs stretch wider across the mattress.
Suddenly, Fraser’s deliciously hot lips leave Ray’s erection and his fingers withdraw. Ray wants to protest, but he fears that he has already shown too much. But Fraser’s body comes into view again, hovering directly over his own. Fraser’s other hand comes up to smooth a few sweaty bangs away from Ray’s forehead.
And then Ray feels Fraser press in. Fraser’s breath is hot against his throat and Ray’s arms close around Fraser’s muscular shoulders without Ray’s doing. He pulls him close and then they are joined as close as possible, there’s not an inch between their sweaty bodies and feeling Fraser so deep inside of him, filling him, stretching him, is almost more than he can take.
There’s nothing of him that Fraser doesn’t have. There’s nothing Ray can hold back. Ray had thought that he could get back on even footing with this – after all, sex was his thing, not Fraser’s. Of course, Fraser had to prove him wrong. Fraser always did.
But feeling Fraser move inside of him, hearing his moans and sighs, Ray can’t care anymore. Let Fraser see how much he needs him. How much he wants him. How much he loves him.
Fraser presses him closer, as if he couldn’t bear even a hairbreadth of air between them and Ray draws his legs tighter behind Fraser’s back. Fraser’s stomach is rubbing tantalizingly against Ray’s cock and he gasps wetly, he won’t last much longer – but Fraser simply goes on and on, as if he never wants this to end.
Fraser raises his head to find Ray’s lips with his own and Ray drowns in the taste of Fraser, the feel of his tongue against his own. Ray’s breathing hitches with every push of Fraser’s hips and he feels his legs begin to quiver.
“Oh god…” Ray croaks, again helpless and overwhelmed, and there’s Fraser everywhere – inside of him, around him, smell, sight, taste, and sound.
“Please,” Fraser whispers and Ray doesn’t know if he means himself or Ray, but he can’t hold back anyway.
“Hah… Fraser,” Ray gasps as he comes, shaking in Fraser’s arms. Filling the non-space between them with warm wetness. And before Ray can even fully disentangle haze and reality, he feels Fraser tense, the mouth going slack as he comes inside of Ray.
“Oh Ray,” Fraser mumbles and Ray has to smile. Fraser never mumbles. The smile helps; it makes it easier to gloss over the fact that Ray is terrified. He can’t want Fraser this badly. He simply can’t afford it. His heart is mended with so many band-aids and glued together in a thousand cracked places that he can’t risk placing it in the hands of someone else.
Fraser’s answering smile is quiet and radiant. Ray has never seen him like that. It’s a while before Fraser carefully pulls out to prevent crushing the air from Ray’s lungs. He pulls Ray close to his chest and presses a warm kiss to the tendon in Ray’s neck.
But Fraser isn’t just anyone, right?
Fraser’s arms tighten their hold on Ray. No one has ever held him like that.
Insecure, Ray thinks wildly. Maybe that’s the reason for all those other helpless feelings. Well, Ray has good cause to feel insecure, he thinks sullenly. You don’t get left by the love of your life every day.
“Ray, can’t we talk about this?” Fraser’s hand closes around Ray’s arm as he is about to storm off. Ray breaks free and whirls around – it’s much more effective to glare daggers at someone if that someone can see it.
“Why? Huh? Do you think I want to hear that you’re going to stay here because you’re finally home and you’ve never been this happy in all the time you’ve been in Chicago?”
Fraser opens his mouth to reply, but Ray doesn’t let him get anything out.
“You think I’ll feel better if I hear it from you that you won’t come back with me?” Ray throws his arms in the air in a frustrated gesture. “Well guess what, it doesn’t!”
Ray stomps with his foot and for a moment he is pleased by all the snow around them. It makes an impressive cloud of white powder around him. Another bonus is the relative wilderness. Ray doesn’t need to feel stupid about making a scene when the only witness – besides Fraser – is an elk – moose – caribou – whatever.
Well, that and maybe a whole camp full of Mounties. Almost a whole village made out of tents. But the camp is a good five minutes’ walk off, they won’t hear Ray’s outburst – bat ears or not. And even if all the Turnbull cadets at the camp could hear him, they are all still way too Canadian to ever mention it to Ray; they are way too polite for that.
Did Fraser really think that Ray hadn’t seen the grin that almost broke his face when they had fallen out of the airplane? Did he think Ray had forgotten how he had said ‘I’m home’ with that stupidly happy light in his eyes? Did he think Ray wasn’t aware that he could choose every posting in the whole of the Northwest Areas – Territories –whatever – now that he caught a nuclear submarine and avenged the murder of his mother?
Canada should be begging him on its knees to come back. And it was doing so, if what Ray has gathered from Fraser’s conversation with Thatcher a little while earlier is correct.
So yes, of course, Ray should be freaking happy for his friend.
Except he isn’t. He’s downright miserable and there is absolutely nothing he could do about it. Helpless – again. Even though he had sworn to himself that he would never again watch someone he loved turn their back on him.
“Ray,” Fraser says in his exasperated tone number #5.
“You wanna hear me say that I’m happy for you? That what you wanna hear?—”
“Ray—” Oh, this is forceful interruption tone number #2 – it’s the most common one, Ray’d know that one anywhere.
“Here you go: I’m—“ But here Ray chokes on the words because no way can he go on and say something like that straight to Fraser’s face without bursting into tears.
“I’m…” happy? He’s good at undercover, but no way can he make Fraser buy it.
“Ray—” Hm, this isn’t exasperated anymore. This is gentle, comforting—oh, this is the ‘stupid Ray’-tone, the nice one, not the I’m-gonna-kill-him one.
“No, it’s—it’s okay… it’s just that I’m… I am…” In love with you, Ray thinks. Completely at a loss now. Because this would put him so far at Fraser’s mercy that Ray could just stomp on every chance of ever making it out alive again, just like you would on a sudden ember that’s leaping out of the flames.
Suddenly, Ray realizes that his eyes feel hot and he thinks, anything, just don’t start bawling now. But before his tears can overflow his eyes and spill over, Fraser is right in front of him, right in his personal space. And there isn’t a frown of disapproval or disappointment to be seen anywhere on Fraser’s handsome face. Instead, a small private smile softens the curve of his lips.
“Come look with me for the hand of Franklin,” Fraser says quietly and Ray blinks stupidly.
“Huh?” Is that supposed to make any sense?
Fraser blushes ever so softly and if Ray didn’t know that mundane stuff like that didn’t affect him, he would swear it was just the coldness of the snow and the briskness of their recent walk.
“You said you wanted an adventure and you surely have some accumulated vacation time. So what would you say if we took a bit of time off to look for the hand of Franklin reaching for the Beaufort Sea?”
For a second, Ray only stares at Fraser. And then he remembers their talk in the fissure. And the moment when he gets, that Fraser is proposing a month-long Arctic adventure, it finally hits Ray that Fraser is proposing more than a quest for the hand of a dead guy.
“You really mean it?”
Fraser’s nod is almost shy and Ray can barely contain his excitement.
“For how long?”
Fraser looks oddly indecisive on this point. “Well,” he says, “the quest itself would probably take a few months. But I would—” and this time the red on his cheeks really gives him away, “I would propose a month in advance at a cabin, maybe, to, ah, to prepare for the, well, the expected exertions.”
Ray knows Fraser well enough to know that this cabin idea isn’t so much about getting Ray snow-fit as it is about getting some quality time alone – really alone, with no one around for miles to disturb them.
Ray thinks he knows what Fraser is really saying. It sounds a lot like ‘stay’. But Ray’s a burned child and Ray does not want to say yes to a month-long Arctic adventure if it turns out that what Ray thought this was about wasn’t at all what Fraser meant.
Ray feels as if his face must show a million expressions at once, like a kaleidoscope. He can feel his smile crumble in sudden fear and he can see it mirrored on Fraser’s suddenly anxious face.
“What are you saying, Fraser?” It’s more of a whisper, but Ray knows that Fraser could hear an ant carrying a leaf, so he’s not afraid that Fraser might not have heard him.
Fraser looks about ready to bolt when he takes one look at Ray’s own pale and drawn face. Ray knows there’s hope showing on his face when he sees a small smile tug on the corner of Fraser’s lips.
Decisively, Fraser takes a step closer.
“I love you, Ray Kowalski.”
Ray can feel his eyes grow wide.
“I…” Fraser takes a deep breath, he’s not looking so sure anymore. “I can’t lose you,” and, wow, the hurt in his eyes really takes Ray’s breath away.
“If you could just give us a chance, I’d like to show you that we can find a way… I… if you want to return to Chicago I… won’t be able to let you go… not without accompanying you.”
Ray knows he’s gaping like a fish out of water, but he still can’t get any air. Maybe he and the fish have more in common than he thought.
“I’d like to show you my home… if you give me the chance.”
And Fraser is looking so earnest, like a boy scout, and Ray simply can’t believe it. Fraser would return with him. Fraser, who has never been happier than when he fell out of an airplane right into a field full of snow.
He can see Fraser fighting for control, can see him trying to keep a lid on the neediness. It makes Ray love him just that bit more. And it makes Ray’s heart a bit lighter.
Impulsively, he throws his arms around Fraser’s neck and pulls him close for a heated kiss, rubbing his cold nose against Fraser’s own frozen one.
“Show me,” Ray whispers between kisses. “God, I love you. I wanna see everything. Show me we can make this work.”
Fraser’s fingers tighten over Ray’s back. “I will,” he murmurs. And he sounds just as sure as he does about everything else.
It might be the exultation of the moment, it might be the euphoria after hearing what you never thought possible, but Ray thinks that he might have learned something. He’s not insecure. He’s just in love.
And the way Fraser is smiling at him, Ray doesn’t think he could give up on that.