References to Mountie on the Bounty, Eclipse, Odds. I suck at summaries. Um.
Very Extraordinarily late response to the Document Challenge over at ds Flashfic.Ray snoops where he shouldn't.
Great thanks to lamardeuse for beta-ing, and for certain key insights into the way Ray thinks and talks.
“It’s a journal.”
“It’s a diary, Fraser. What are you, a teenage girl?” I lean my hip against his desk, enjoying this.
Fraser just looks at me, all calm, like he does when I’m being deliberately annoying. Like, settle down now, Ray, he's saying
“It’s a journal, Ray. My father kept one. His father kept one. And I keep one. It’s useful for…many things. Remembering key details of cases. Thinking things through. Devising a plan for doing things differently next time.”
Yeah. Okay, Frase, whatever floats your boat. I just cross my arms and raise an eyebrow. He holds his gaze steady. His cheeks are maybe a little red. Just a little. Not so’s you’d notice really, unless you’re looking.
I’m looking. ‘Cause this little book on the desk in front of us is really just too funny for words. I can play this one out for a while, I think. Give him a real hard time about it.
“Okay, Fraser. It’s a journal. Sure thing.”
“Yes, Ray.” He reaches out his hand, like he expects me to just hand it over. Uh-uh.
“So…” I keep my hand on top of the leather-bound book lying on the desk between us. “It’s a journal.”
“Yes,” he says again, patiently.
“About work and stuff, right?” He’s easy, he’s real easy; it’s almost a shame to play him this way.
“Yes, Ray.” His patience is getting strained, but it does hold. “Writing about past cases helps keep the details fresh. What might not seem significant at the time can be very important in retrospect. Looking back at even inconsequential details can lead to some very interesting perspectives.”
“Yeah, yeah,” I say. “I can see that. Real interesting.”
“Yes,” he says, reaching out for the book again.
“So you don’t mind if I read it.”
He goes very still. I gotta hand it to the guy, he never jumps or cringes, but I can see him withdraw and that’s about as big a tell as any.
“I mean, if it’s about cases and stuff, maybe I can get something out of it.” I pull my glasses out of my jacket, push ‘em on my face, like I’m all ready to dive right in here.
He just looks at me. I push it. ‘Cause that’s what I do.
“If it was like a diary or something, like a personal diary, then no way, but a journal, like a casebook, that’s okay, right?”
If he says no, then he’s admitting to hidden depths he so doesn’t want me to know about. He’d pretty much be admitting that he was lying about what I’d find in there.
I have trouble accepting what Ray perceives as fact: that this is about actual pirates. He likes this idea, I think. Perhaps it’s the classic simplicity of it. I will admit that we have all the traditional pieces of a pirate mystery: the hook hand, the treasure map, the trunk, the gold, the ghost ship. But it’s more complicated than that. I know Ray knows that as well. I find it interesting that he tries to turn this into a story more than a case. I wonder about that. Wonder if he’s trying to make what well may be our last case together into something more, or something less, than what it really is.
I think that his transfer has arrived at the worst possible time. I know he is confused. That is something I can plainly see. What I don’t know is what he is confused about. I know he would not have struck me under normal circumstances. And while I will accept responsibility for “niggling”, as he says, I still don’t see him striking out in his anger. Or at least I don’t see him striking out at me, over something as minor as our disagreement over the chain of events. I know he finds me exasperating at times. What I don’t understand is what it was that compelled him into violence towards me.
My reciprocation of said violence disturbs me as well. He did, as a matter of absolute fact, ask for it. Specifically. Asked me to hit him, so as to render us "even" in his mind. But the way it happened...I just don’t know. I lashed out at him, and it was more than just a response to his request. I don’t know why or how it got to that point, but if I am to be no less than honest with myself, I must admit it: I wanted to hit him that night by the water.
Fraser walked away the minute I opened the journal. I don’t know why I did it; why I just had to push him on this one. A lot of reasons, I guess. Can’t let him be Mr. Perfect Mountie all the time. Gotta push his buttons while I can. Plus, he’s got an argument for just about everything and it’s not often I get him to give up and walk away (by the way, if I were a stickler for detail, I’d call it stomping away).
Funny, though, that I don’t feel like I won.
But I’d opened the book already, so I had to take a look. And my first thought was hey, look, not so much a journal, not in the work-sense anyway. So I was right. But again, there’s that feeling of not-so-much-winning and as I read, it starts to feel like what he said in there: just like when I hit him, I didn’t win or make a point. Didn’t accomplish much of anything except making both of us feel pretty awful.
And I couldn’t fix it that time.
I get up, leave the book there on the desk. I open the door and look out in the hall. No one there except Turnbull sitting at the front reception desk. He turns around when he hears the office door open, smiles real big, and starts to get up. I shut the door quick and go sit back down at the desk. While I’m here yanking his chain, Fraser’s gone somewhere else. And I feel bad again, like I’ve done something real wrong, instead of just a funny argument that’s maybe gone just a little too far. Not too too far, but something that can’t be taken back real easy.
But it’s Fraser we’re dealing with here, so I gotta remind myself: it ain’t ever easy when it comes to him. Plus I’m here in his office so he’s out in the Consulate proper and he doesn’t really have anyplace to go out there. No place where he’s not gonna be annoyed by Turnbull or maybe harassed by the Ice Queen. So not only have I maybe probably embarrassed him with the whole diary thing, I also have tossed him out to the wolves while I kick back in his office and read his personal journal-type stuff.
Great friend there, Ray. No wonder he wanted to hit you.
There are levels here that aren’t being taken into consideration. The FBI has its agenda, Lieutenant Welsh has his agenda, Miss Scarpa has her agenda. Even Ray has something at stake here, though I’m not sure of what it is. He is concerned, that much is certain, but over whose safety or what outcome, I’m not certain. It seems to me that all agendas in this particular case are mutually exclusive, with none of the participants endeavoring to see things from anyone else’s point of view.
I would like to say that my role here is to be the objective party. One would say I have nothing to be gained from this. Only that in my role as a liaison to the police department, and as Ray’s partner, it’s my duty to stand by them in this case.
But this case is more complicated that it seems. I am endeavoring to remain objective, but both Miss Scarpa and Ray seem to have other ideas. Ray, in his insistence that I not get romantically involved with Miss Scarpa, has me thinking about it when I might otherwise not have. Which is not to say that this is a romantic liaison that I intend to pursue. It’s just that, by talking about it, he has me considering the number of reasons there are to keep away from her (and there are reasons of which even Ray himself is unaware). Considering the reasons why Ray is expressing such an interest in the proceedings. Considering the hunched, guarded look about him when he arrived at the consulate last night, and how threatened he seemed by Miss Scarpa's presence.
And I wonder what would have happened had he known about her hands on my body.
I drop the diary - journal - whatever - onto his desk with a thump. Her hands. On his body. What the fuck.
I stand up fast enough to slam the chair back against the wall, which is close enough that the chair, of course, rebounds directly back into me. Great. Fucking great. I shove it away again and escape from behind the desk, glaring at the journal as it lies there. Pace around the tiny office, which pretty much amounts to a couple of steps then a tight turn around and another couple of steps. How the hell does Fraser stand it? How does he exist in this tiny fucking office? If it was me in here all the damn time, I’d blow my top, go stir crazy, lose it entirely.
Kind of like I’m losing it now.
Fuck. I knew it. I knew there was something between them. I mean, before he even told me about kissing her, I knew there was something there. That night I came to the consulate so late, and she had that cat-who-ate-the-canary smile, I knew. Threw me off. There’s something about Fraser, makes me want to make sure he doesn't get taken by anyone. Not that he’s real innocent, not like he plays it, but he’s just not tough. I mean, he’s tough, physically: he can hold his own in a fight (and the guy sure can pack a punch, I’ll tell you that much from experience), but when it comes down to feelings, when it comes down to getting played, the guy is... Well. He’s an open book.
Like with the poker game, when we were trying to teach him about bluffing. He drove everybody up the wall, telling the truth about every damn hand. He does it with people, too; with women he likes, especially. It doesn't happen real often, that someone gets to him, but when it does, it's dangerous. I read the files. I know about Victoria Metcalf. And I know how he can fall. He doesn’t say it to them, how he feels - I don’t think he has the words for it, big surprise - but they figure him out real easy. Figure out which buttons to push, and he just folds. Folds real quick.
Never bluffs, he says. I wonder about that. Sometimes it feels like he’s bluffing his way through all of this. With the consulate job, with Vecchio leaving, with me. Like maybe he just keeps moving, keeps trying, because he doesn't know what else to do, and sure doesn't have anywhere else to go. He takes me at my word, when even I don’t know what my word means. I mean, I’m not even me right now. Don’t know why the guy trusts me.
Her hands on him. What does that mean? Fuck. I quit pacing, crack my neck real quick, and grab the damn book off the desk. Flip through it again. Don’t know what I'm looking for here. Or what I'll do when I find it.
He makes for a most bizarre partner, though I suspect that both Ray and my...previous partner would indicate that I should really not be one to throw stones. But the case we had yesterday... Well. What occurred yesterday could not be called a “case,” per se. A decades-old bank robbery. An elderly woman with a firearm. Smugglers. And, of course, Internal Affairs. None of these things involved me personally, except for my connection to Ray. And yet I found myself caught up in this man’s peculiar drama, something that was unanticipated, yet satisfying, in an odd way.
He was intent upon putting to rest this thing that occurred long ago, an event that some might say he should be past by now. I found myself drawn to this agenda of his for several reasons. There is a certain neatness in putting something such as this to rest. Coming full circle. Further, the time spent seeking him out, and the hours in the crypt with him, gave me insight into this man whom I’m supposed to know very well. He doesn’t hold himself back. This is a man who wears his heart on his sleeve.
He asked me if I found him attractive. I was thrown by the question and all I could do was talk around it. How else does one answer a question such as that from one’s partner? Attractive is such a subjective term. What attracts one person to another?
And yet when he pinned me down and asked again, I could do no more than to tell the truth. That I find him attractive. And he took it very much in stride. There was no chance to pursue the question, to explore what led him to ask it of me, and he never asked me to clarify my response. But my mind has been working at the question ever since. Not so much the one that was asked, for my answer there was clear, but the one that followed in my head: why I find him attractive. What it is about him that fascinates me. He is utterly different from anyone I've met, either here in Chicago or in the Territories. He exudes a certain...heat. I know that is not an accurate term to describe the sheer energy that flows from him, but it’s the closest I can come. And I find myself curious about that heat, that energy, and wanting to get closer to it.
I find it startling that I don’t have the words to describe him, to describe how he makes me feel. I lack a frame of reference, having never before experienced this avid interest that consumes me when I look at him. Perhaps it is just that openness, his inability to disguise those feelings simmering so close to the surface, which captivates me. Intrigues me. Attracts me.
The consulate is echo-y, always, and my voice is louder than usual, ringing through the hallway. Turnbull turns, startled, but again, I close the door right away. I know Fraser will come running.
Almost immediately, the door swings open. “Ray, I do wish that you would modulate your tone when you are here, as the consulate is...”
“How do I make you feel, Fraser?” Abrupt. In his face. I want answers and I want them now.
He blinks at me. "At the moment? Irritated. Could you possibly quiet…"
I reach past him and slam the door shut. The bang of it echoes loudly, but I just can't bring myself to care. I am right in front of him now, close enough to feel the heat from him, and I am breathing real fast, angry and wound up and just more confused than I've maybe ever been.
"Fraser. Answer the damn question. How do I make you feel?"
His eyebrows go up, all innocent. "It depends upon the moment in time in which the question is being asked…"
"How do I make you feel."
He licks his lip. His eyes flick away from mine, then back. "Right now, a bit uncomfortable, as you are standing in my personal space. If you would be so kind...?" He makes an almost shooing gesture with his hand.
What little patience I had snaps and I shove him back, not gently, against the door. He falls back hard. Closes his eyes.
"How. Do I make you. Feel."
"Stop." He sounds tired now, not even mad, not even pretending anymore. Looks tired. Drained.
"Stop, Ray. Please."
"When I hit you, when I fucking punched you, how did it make you feel, Fraser?"
Nothing. He doesn't even move, just closes his eyes a little tighter.
"When you hit me back…how did that make you feel? Did you like it?" My voice falters, loses that angry edge and I hate that.
He shakes his head. Eyes still closed. Skin so pale he looks like a ghost or like a fucking statue leaning there.
"Fine. Need an easier question? All right. Answer me this one. When Lady Shoes had her fucking hands on your fucking body, how did it make you feel? C'mon, Fraser, tell me." The anger is back. That's good, that's better. Anger is an energy and I like it.
His shakes his head again, rolling it back and forth against the door. No. No. He's gotta do this. Gotta say this. Gotta put this into words.
"No? No, what? No, you're not gonna answer? Questions aren't easy enough yet? Okay, got another one for you. Real easy one here, Fraser, we been through this before. You find me attractive?"
He doesn't say a damn word. He's still slumped there against the door. I wonder if Turnbull can hear us, then realize I don't fucking care if he can or not. This is between Fraser and me. Exclusively between him and me.
"Come on, Fraser, answer the goddamn question. Do you find me attractive?"
His eyes snap open. His eyes darken as he looks at me, and I know I've made him mad. I'm glad. I need that. Need him to get mad, to be real, to answer me. His voice, when he speaks, is edged. Frosty. Hard.
"I believe, as you said, that I've answered that question previously. In no uncertain terms."
"I want you to tell me, Fraser…"
He interrupts me, his voice stronger. He straightens a little bit. "Not only that, but you have had ample opportunity to peruse my journal, and from the tone of your question, I believe you must have found the response clearly stated within. Not only stated, but with supporting evidence as well."
He's leaning forward, in my space now, and his tone is threatening, almost, and angry, definitely. And if he sounds angry, then inside he must be really fucking furious, and that's all right by me. I'm so tied up in knots inside, so angry over all of this, over everything, over every fucking thing. Over this tiny office, over his hitting me, even though I made him. Over him leaning all pale up against the door, over her fucking hands on his fucking body, and I don’t know, I don't know. Only that I need something here, and he knows that, he fucking knows that, and he's not giving it to me, this thing we both need, whatever the fuck it is.
"You're the one who keeps the diary, Fraser. You know, you knew, so tell me, just fucking tell me. You said it before, so say it again. Say it like you mean it, because I think you do. Jesus, Fraser, have a fucking backbone for once and don't hold back…"
His hands are on me, grabbing hold of the straps of my holster and dragging me close, and the only thought in my wildly fucked-up mind, is man, he's strong. Then he's got me right up against him and we both land against the door with a loud bang. And he's kissing me, hard, and it's what he knew, it's what I knew, it's what we both needed. And it's so fucking surreal, because there's only a tiny little corner of my brain saying, yo, Kowalski, this is weird, this is seriously fucking weird, because the rest of my brain is saying, yeah, so what, you knew this, why the fuck did it take so long to get here?
You talk about getting lost in something. I am lost, like, lost in this. It's not a sweet, gentle sort of thing. It's harsh and it's aggressive and he's pulling on my straps so hard they cut into my back and why that feels good too, I just don't know. I don’t know anything at all. Never did, never will.
It ends abruptly, like it started, and he pushes me away from him. I stumble back a couple of steps. His face is flushed and angry, and he glares at me. "Yes, very much so."
That kiss blew every working brain cell I might've had. "What?" I say stupidly.
"Last time, Ray, so pay attention: Yes. I find you attractive. Very much so." He talks slowly, like to a small, dull child. I can't really blame him. Wish that maybe not so much blood was flowing down to my dick right now, because I can't seem to focus here.
Deep breath, Kowalski. "Yeah, okay," I say.
He pauses, looks at me consideringly. "I must insist that you make that response more clear. Or else I very may well be forced to strike you." He takes a deep breath. "Again"
Jeez. Sensitive Mountie, much? "All right," I snap. "All right." There is, like, no oxygen left in my brain. "So I guess," I say slowly, trying to get my brain to work, "you find me attractive."
He takes another deep breath and I think he might actually mean that thing he said about hitting me. Again.
"Jeez, hang on a sec, let a guy catch up, will you?" I say quickly. "First I find out all this stuff about pirates and Scarpa and how you wanted to hit me and that you like me so much you can't even put it into words…"
"I can find quite a few words to describe how I feel about you at the moment," he says sharply. "Irritated. Annoyed. Exasperated."
"Yeah, I get that a lot," I agree. "But listen, so, you find me attractive…"
"Oh, for the love of God…" he says between gritted teeth. "Fed up. Incensed. Frustrated. Provoked…"
He's on me then, hard up against me. Pushes me back till the edge of the desk cuts into the back of my thighs. He's kissing me again, mouth devouring me, tongue thrusting in, and now his hands are at work too, grabbing roughly onto my hips, yanking me forward so I can feel him hard against me. Don’t know how he manages all those vocabulary words, when there can't be too much blood going to his brain. Must be a Canadian thing.
He breaks away, panting a little, but still looks pretty damn pissed off. Again, the corner of my brain telling me to just enjoy this and shut the fuck up loses out. "Guess you're not gonna hit me, then?"
It would have been better if my voice sounded more grouchy and less like I was begging him to fuck-me-do-it-harder.
His voice comes out as a growl. "I just might."
"Because you find me attractive?" I'm trying to shut up, but my brain just will not cooperate. This is why it's so complicated to be me. Or to be friends with me. Or to be around me.
"Because I find you irritating. Annoying. Exasperating…" That last part comes out a little muffled 'cause he's sort of tasting my neck. With his tongue. And, oh, teeth. Mmm.
"Attractive?" I manage to gasp out, as his teeth sink into my neck, which makes me arch up against him, which makes him kinda groan and press even harder against me.
His voice is a little muffled against my neck, but still really sort of mad. "Ray, I am quite serious when I tell you: Stop. Asking. Me. That. I know you can read. I've seen you read. I should think the answers found within my journal…"
"Diary." I swear to god, I can't help it.
"…journal should be quite sufficient."
"Yeah," I say, only it comes out as kind of a gasp, but that's okay, because it's almost drowned out by the knock at the door and a hesitant voice asking, "Constable Fraser?"
"Yes," Fraser snaps (seriously, he snaps, I just love it, never mind sensitive, this is Mr. Pissed Off Mountie, pissed off because he had to take his mouth off of my neck in order to answer).
"Is everything… all right, sir?"
Mr. Pissed Off Mountie is still right up against me, and I'm pretty sure he's as aware of my hard-on against his thigh as I am of his against mine. He raises an eyebrow at me, and I can't help it: I crack up laughing. Because this might be the most wildly ridiculous situation I've ever been in, pinned up against a desk by a Mountie. But I'm really okay with it, especially since he's trying very hard not to grin back at me. Can't grin at me, because he's trying to let me know that I'm still really very annoying to have as a partner. Yeah, like I didn't know that before.
"Yes, Constable Turnbull, quite all right." Fraser's voice only sounds a little out of breath. He's good.
"Is there anything I can assist you with, sir?"
This time it's me who raises an eyebrow, and Fraser's lips twitch again, trying to keep a straight face. "No, Constable. No help is necessary. You may proceed with your duties."
There's silence behind the door, and Fraser's eyes refocus on me, and he bends his head down. It's pathetic how desperate I am for him to kiss me again, but I can't really bring myself to care about my patheticness. He brushes his lips against mine, and then…
"If you need assistance in moving furniture, sir, then I would be more than happy to…"
Fraser wrenches himself away from me and turns, strides towards the door. I lean there against the desk and I can't seem to stop grinning. Fraser yanks the door open, and Turnbull is there. He snaps to attention. "Sir," he says, formally, either not noticing Fraser's flushed and messy state, or doing a damn good job pretending not to.
"Constable Turnbull, I assure you, everything is quite fine here. You may proceed with your duties."
Turnbull opens his mouth, and Fraser interrupts him. "Your duties, which require you to be situated at the front desk."
Turnbull stands there, looking a lot like a deer in headlights.
"There," Fraser says gently, indicating the front hall. "Go."
"Yes, sir." You gotta hand it to the guy, he's damn pleased to be provided with a sense of direction.
Fraser shuts the door again. Turns to look at me.
"So…" I fidget a little there against the desk. "You were saying you find me attractive?"
He closes his eyes briefly. "Please shut up, Ray."
"Make me." 'Cause belligerent is what I know. I'm good at belligerent, and it looks better on me than desperate. Which is kind of what I'm feeling.
His eyes flash. "Very well." Then he's got a hold of me again, pulling me off the desk and turning to push me against the door. He smothers my mouth with his, and that is a very, very good way of getting me to shut the fuck up. I'm guessing that I have my answer here, that he finds me attractive in way that's more than, whadaycallit, hypothetical. And I think I'm kind of really okay with that.
There's a tentative knock on the door behind me. "Constable?"
I tear my mouth away from Fraser's. "Fuck off, Turnbull," I growl. "Like, now."
Now it's Fraser shaking with laughter up against me, and I like that, too. Like it a lot. He puts a hand up against the side of my face, looks at me for a second, kisses me soft. Says, "I think the question that is begging to be asked would be, do you find me attractive?"
I widen my eyes at him, thrust slightly against his hip so he can feel how hard I am. "Can't you find these truths to be self-evident, Frase?"
He's grinning for real now, and I think I kind of love that. "I believe I can, Ray."
"Good," I breathe, leaning in and stealing another soft, hot kiss. "Damn, I'm glad I read your diary."
"Journal, Ray," he says stiffly, pulling back slightly.
"Whatever, Fraser," I whisper back, kissing him for real now, hard and deep. When I pull back, he takes a deep breath, and nods slowly, looking in my eyes.
"Whatever, indeed, Ray." He breathes in, eyes wide. "Whatever you want."
"Good," I say again. "'Cause what I want is you."
"Yeah?" he says, leaning in close.
"Yeah," I say, just before I kiss him again and ignore the renewed knocking on the door as if I didn't hear it at all. "Yeah."
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