Pairing: Fraser/Kowalski, Kowalski/Vecchio
Warning: Character death, angst.
Thanks: Many thanks and restorative chocolates to sprat and mergatrude for their excellent betaing
Notes: For mergatrude, engenda, damned_colonial (with thanks for the inukshuk suggestion), girl_clone (with thanks for the totally inappropriate title), and arysteia.
Fraser's grave was buried in snow, just a few icy inches of the small inukshuk peeking out from the blanket that muffled the world. Ray didn't need the rocks to know where it was, though. He felt it every time he walked close.
At least Dief had stopped digging it clear every day. He seemed resigned now to letting Fraser rest in peace, choosing instead to lie curled on Fraser's old hiking boots, his head resting glumly on his paws.
Ray pulled his thick padded jacket tight around him, the rustle loud in the still landscape, and hunched on the rough wooden bench he'd hauled up from the cabin to the outcrop next to the gravesite. Below, the countryside spread out around him, white and empty.
He curled his fingers around the mug of hot chocolate and focused on breathing slow, paying careful attention to the bite of the arctic wind in his nostrils.
Ray didn't have stubble burn or hickeys from making up with Fraser after they'd fought—again—about whether Ray wanted to stay in Canada. He didn't have a bruise on his hand from slamming that psycho Mary Stuart's harpoon aside just in time, either. Ray didn't have anything.
A hard edge dug into Ray's chest as he huddled forward—the corner of Fraser's dad's last diary—and maybe it should go into a fucking museum so people could remember this family of Mountie freaks who could do anything, who gave their lives for justice and shit like that, but Fraser hadn't left a Will, dammit.
And fuck Canada—Ray needed something. He needed to remember Fraser as a person, not a folk hero or a stupid cartoon of himself. He needed to remember the teasing and the hurt, and the way Fraser's fingers would linger on Ray's hips when they kissed, like he was torn between fucking Ray right then and there or finishing up whatever they were doing—dishes, cooking, chopping wood, buying groceries. One time, Fraser had kissed Ray behind the hardware display in the Tuktoyaktuk local store, and for a breathless moment they'd teetered on the brink of losing control, of tearing into each other.
Ray didn't ever want to forget that.
A splash of cooling chocolate soaked through Ray's mitten, and he realized his hands were shaking. He shoved his damp hand in his pocket so the mitten wouldn't freeze to his skin, and he thought about going back inside. It was probably time to eat again. It had been a number of hours—he wasn't keeping track. He wasn't hungry, either, but up here in the cold, if you didn't eat, you died. One death was enough.
He'd stretched out his legs, ready to get up, when he heard the crunch of footsteps, and a bottle landed with a soft thud at his feet. Scotch.
He looked up, expecting Rosie or John from the next cabin over. They'd been keeping an eye on him. But it was someone else entirely.
"What the fuck are you doing here?" Ray snarled, unable to keep the bitterness out of his voice.
Vecchio stood maybe ten feet away. His ski jacket was shiny and new, his gloves expensive. He looked at Ray pityingly, but all he said was, "Came to say goodbye to Fraser."
"You're too late."
"Yeah, I know." The words hung in the air, surprisingly gentle.
Ray blinked a couple of times, and put his mug down on the bench beside him, so he could pick up the Scotch with his free hand. "Can't drink out here. It's seven below. You want I should get exposure?"
"I'll look out for you." That kindness again.
Ray swallowed. He didn't need this. "You think I can't look after myself?" he asked, dangerously. "You think you could've done better? Maybe you could've stopped this?"
"Don't be a moron, Kowalski," Vecchio said, and Ray could hear the strain in his voice, trying to stay nice. It would only take a little push.
He raised his hands, faking surrender. "Sure thing. Wouldn't want to steal your thunder, Vecchio."
"I mean, I been you, but I'm not you anymore. Guess my moron days are over." He made it mean, and then wobbled to his feet, light-headed with hunger he couldn't feel, and waved the bottle wildly. His boots had sunk into the snow, and he nearly tripped.
Vecchio's hands closed on his waist to steady him. Ray could feel them, even through the padding and the numbness, and it nearly broke him. It wasn't Fraser, it wasn't Fraser's hands on him, touching him, but for a second Ray closed his eyes and let himself pretend, and oh god. He lunged forward, letting the bottle slip from his fingers, ignoring the crash of breaking glass, and kissed Fraser. It wasn't Fraser, couldn't be. He tasted wrong, tasted foreign and unfamiliar—aniseed and the sharp tang of tomato—but Ray kissed him anyway, until rough-gloved hands touched his face, held his head. Until the mouth under his opened. Until their lips and tongues were frantic on each other, and oh god. Fraser.
Ray pulled back, gasping, and tugged off his mittens. Vecchio was gasping too, was wild-eyed and freaked, his hands dropping away, flailing in the air, like he was about to have his own little operatic meltdown. Ray didn't have time for that. This was his last chance, his last fucking chance to feel this, to remember. "Shut up," he said, half-question, half-demand, and he hurled himself at Vecchio, forcing him down and back, back, down into the snow that blanketed Fraser's grave.
Vecchio wasn't even cold. Ray pushed his fingers under Vecchio's jacket, and found a soft, fancy-feeling sweater—Fraser would never wear that, would never do this. Ray dug further, and there, there under the sweater and another layer of fabric, beneath that were thermals—the slight static of manmade fibers, and yeah, that was it, that was Fraser there, his red long johns hot under Ray's palms, his body pushing up and forward into Ray.
Vecchio said something, muffled, and the words drifted in the air like snowflakes, sinking into Ray's brain a moment later. "Jesus Christ, Kowalski."
And Ray said, "What? Shut up, shut up." And kissed him again, except not kissing, but something wild and desperate that they were doing with their mouths. Something that spoke of fury and regret, and helplessness that wouldn't go away. Ray was humping, now, rubbing against all those layers of clothing, rubbing away the stupid things he'd said, the wasted time.
Vecchio squirmed. It was Vecchio, it wasn't Fraser—and Ray's anger scoured his veins like ice, stripping out all thought. He pushed hard, his hands tight on Vecchio's shoulders, relentless. Vecchio gripped Ray's hips, right there, right where Fraser used to.
Christ, it was over, it was really over. Not like that time Ray and Fraser had fought, and Ray had stormed out swearing black and blue he was going home this time, he was really honest-to-god gonna hop a flight to Chicago and fucking stay there. Ray groaned, shaking his head at the memory of cold roads and the overheated Tuktoyaktuk bar, and the look of blinding relief on Fraser's face when he'd shown up on the doorstep at four the next morning, drunk and horny and trapped by this thing they had between them that would never let him go, give up, finish it, kaput. Fraser.
Ray twisted wildly, and even without really noticing, like it was someone else's body and he was only half-paying attention, he came, shuddering. His mind kept racing—Fraser, Fraser, Fraser—but fuzzy now, softer, and the pain he'd been blanking out spilled through him, staining him black and broken. For a second, he wanted to kill Vecchio, he wanted to close his hands around that long neck and do it, so no one would ever see Ray like this.
But Vecchio jerked against him, his body pushing up urgently, stiffening. And Vecchio growled between lips pressed tight together.
And fell back, panting. They lay like that a minute, cold burning into Ray's damp hand, and shit, Vecchio must be freezing, lying on the snow. Ray crawled off him, back to the bench, and sat on it, ignoring the wetness in his shorts. He stared blindly at his boots and tried to push the hurt away, push everything away. Tried to go blank again.
"You're not the only one who loved him, Stanley."
Ray looked up. Vecchio was standing above him, dark against the bright world. He had a long damp patch down his arm from the snow, and a smaller spot on the front of his pants. He was hovering like he was waiting for a fucking invitation to sit down.
Ray shook his head. "Fuck you." It was over. It was all over.
Vecchio's eyes narrowed a moment, and then he nodded grimly, backed off, shut down. He took a couple of steps back so he was standing in the hollow where their bodies had been, and then he crouched down and carefully gathered together the broken shards of the Scotch bottle.
The snow at the head of Fraser's grave was stained amber from the booze, like a dog had pissed on it. Ray's gaze flinched away. He could see Fraser, clean cut and righteous, back in Chicago. The shocked look on his face when Ray had socked him one time, down by the lake.
The ground wavered and blurred, and then Vecchio's boots swam into view.
"I'm not gay." Vecchio sounded hoarse.
Ray shrugged one shoulder, without looking up. "Do I look like I care?"
There was no kindness. No more goodwill. They'd used up all their fellow feeling. Spilled it onto the snow, into their pants. Ray listened to Vecchio's footsteps fade, and sat there for a long while, watching the shapes and shadows stretch out toward the horizon.