PART FIVE

Ray sprawled back into the snow, feeling the grit and ice soaking through to his cold skin. How the hell did he miss that punch? Jeez, he needed to get back in the ring, he thought as he fingered his jaw gingerly. And more importantly, why the hell—

He sat up swiftly, staring back down the bridge. Thompson – Donen? – was running along it, the knife clutched in one hand.

“Well you’ve screwed things up now, Kowalski,” he shouted back at Ray as he reached Fraser, who now seemed barely conscious, barely holding himself up, head lolling, a streak of drying blood snaking down the side of his face. Well, shit.

“I had me a nice little plan,” Donen continued, “All worked out and complete with Mountie hostages – ok, so one of them was me, but still, would’ve kept me safe. Then you come along and cause problems for everyone.” Ray stood up quickly and went to run along the bridge. Donen quickly raised the knife to Fraser’s throat. “Wouldn’t do that, if I were you,” he drawled. “Not if you want to keep your boy here.”

Ray paused, wondering how quickly he could reach for his gun. But he didn’t have his glasses and the snow was thick enough to make that a major issue. He might hit Fraser, or nothing at all, and he didn’t know how many bullets he had left. God, he was so off his game.

“So now, looks like I have to think ‘outside the box’.” Donen sketched an air quote with his empty hand, then slowly began securing Fraser to the bridge with two pairs of handcuffs, locking ankles and wrists to the old ropes, keeping a careful grip on the knife.

I wouldn’t have hurt him, you know,” he laughed slightly, raising his voice over the howling wind. “Well apart from the gaping head wound. But still, I’d just have kept him with me for as long as necessary, then dumped him somewhere. People might have found his body. Then he’d have been fine. I’m not a bad guy,” he said winningly. Ray felt nauseous. “But when I’m in the middle of a storm in the fucking Yukon – ” his voice rose and Ray caught the first glimpse of psychosis in his face “ - well, you do what you gotta do. And now, I gotta skidaddle, so if you wouldn’t mind staying on that side of the bridge–” he started to back away “– we’ll be good to go.”

Donen turned and ran down the bridge, and Ray jumped onto the old wooden slats and began to follow. Donen, hearing his footsteps, turned and viciously shook the bridge. Ray clutched  the sides, and as Donen shook the bridge again, Fraser’s body slid dangerously to one side, foot slipping off the edge.

Finally, Donen reached the far bank of the ravine and turned again, leaning nonchalantly against the stakes of the bridge.

“Oh, one last thing,” he shouted. “Just in case you take it into your head to follow me…” He held Ray’s knife against the taut ropes of the bridge. “Thanks for the knife, by the way! Didn’t expect the Mountie’s girlfriend to be carrying such fun toys around!” he shouted merrily as he started to saw.

Screw what Fraser would do, thought Ray, and pulled out his gun. This would have to be good, heck, this would have to be spectacular, he realised, flicking open the bullet chamber. Two bullets left, no glasses, no visibility. He could see Donen in the Mountie red, could see him hacking away at the ropes, the bridge swaying in one huge motion as the first cable started to give. Suddenly snapping, the whole bridge sagged to one side, and Fraser’s body slipped further sideways and down, hanging on only by his bonds.

Ray fumbled with the gun, trying to get a good sight on Donen, his fingers frozen and stiff. He looked at Fraser hanging there, woozily opening his eyes and looking back at him, and took a deep breath.

Ok. C’mon, Kowalski, he thought. You can do this. It’s just like that double-dougal-fur thing. No problemo. He raised his gun, focused on Donen, then on where he thought Donen was, then on Donen again, and, feeling the wind lifting up his jacket, fired.

Bang! echoed round the canyon. Bang bang bang… it sounded like he was shooting repeatedly, firing wildly, but a shower of rocks down into the crevice below confirmed that he’d hit fuck all. Shit! He could hear Donen laughing on the other side of the rocks.

Ok, one more go, Ray thought, pulling himself together. He focused carefully on the movement over the bridge, holding the gun in both hands. Please, he prayed, I swear, if you give me this I won’t ever ask for anything ever again. Ray carefully squeezed the trigger.

Bang! Ray desperately looked over the bridge. There was no ominous shower of rocks this time, and he looked hopefully to where he thought Donen should be. He squinted carefully but—suddenly the bridge heaved again and twisted, the horizontal planks now vertical, Fraser hanging down over the crevasse, binds biting heavily into his wrists where they held his weight.

“Sorry kid,” Donen barked across the canyon, “better luck next time.” The snow cleared briefly and Ray saw Donen tying up his backpack and slinging it over one shoulder, tucking the knife into his boot. “Now you got something to occupy you, I’ll be leaving.” 

Ray nearly threw down the gun in frustration. Donen was going to get away and the bridge wasn’t passable. He didn’t even have clue how he was going to get Fraser back onto solid land. Then he felt the weight of the gun in his hands. Who the hell throws a gun?! he could hear his own voice saying, months and months ago. Oh screw it, he decided, why the hell not

He closed his eyes tightly and, putting all his force into it, hurled the gun across the canyon. The fates were smiling on him; a gust of wind came from behind, so hard that Ray stumbled forward with the weight of it, and the gun soared across the canyon and crack!— did he? He couldn’t see! Then the snow cleared again and he saw a flash of red, lying on the ground. Ray grinned triumphantly. Hah, he thought, shake, bad guys, shake

Then Donen pulled himself upright, slowly, clutching his head, and stumbling on the rocky ground. As Ray watched, Donen tottered and fell headlong over the edge of the canyon. 

Donen’s shout echoed down through the trees, and Ray looked over, expecting to see crocodiles snapping up his body like in that Indiana Jones movie. Hell, like all Indiana Jones movies. But Donen wasn’t a body on the rocks, he was suspended underneath the bridge, hanging on to the dangling rope by one hand, the wind buffeting him against the cliff face.

“Help!” he yelled. “Please!”

“Oh, yeah,” Ray called back mockingly. “At this stage what I’m looking for is politeness.”

 ***

Ray carefully pressed a disinfectant wipe to the side of Fraser’s head.  

“You see, Frase,” he said teasingly. “This is what happens when you don’t do that five-p’s thing. I thought I’d taught you better than that.”

“Indeed,” Fraser said, eyes closed, head back against the couch cushions. “I’m afraid I was lax in performing my duties to the best of my ability.” He winced slightly. “I shall try to do better in the future.”

They and what felt like half the town had piled into Ray and Fraser’s little cabin, fire roaring, people chattering excitedly. The rescue party was drinking most of Fraser’s good whisky, and the film crew was triumphantly filming the after-show-down party, all except Carla, whose exultant return with everything caught on tape had earned her a night off. She was sitting on the sofa feeding chips to Dief, who was feeling very sorry for himself, pawing at the bandage over his right ear. 

“So, Inspector, when did you first realise that Donen was, in fact, masquerading as your newest recruit?” Susan asked, gesturing for Steve to get the camera in as close as possible.

“Well,” said Fraser, sitting up slightly. “I would have to say right around the time he hit me over the head with a rather large rock. That provided me with all the pertinent information.” 

“You think?” Ray grinned. 

“And what will happen to Donen now?”

“Well, he’s in our rather small but perfectly secure holding facility, and as soon as this storm passes someone from Yellowknife will be by to pick him up and take him away to face the consequences of his actions.” 

“But not until I’ve kicked him in the head a few times,” Ray said seriously. Fraser smiled at him, but he looked tired. Ray clapped his hands, “Ok, everybody out, the Mountie needs his beauty sleep.”

There was a collection of the usual polite protests, and then people started collecting coats and partners and shuffling out slowly. The film crew took their time putting away their equipment, and by the time they left Fraser was listing to one side on the couch, nodding off. 

“Fraser,” Ray said softly, tentatively putting one hand on Fraser’s shoulder. He shook lightly. “Hey, Frase, c’mon – up and at ‘em.” 

Fraser blearily opened his eyes, taking  in the empty room, then rubbed his face decisively and sat up. “No, I don’t want to go to sleep just yet, Ray.” 

Ray took a step back and casually crossed his arms. “Uh, ok, well what do you want to do? Electricity’s out, so no TV—”

“Talk,” Fraser said simply.

Ray coughed lightly into his hands. “Talk. Ok,” there was an awkward silence, and Ray leant back against the mantelpiece. “Quite the storm we’re having,” He attempted. “Hey, remind me never again to complain about the weather.”

Fraser tipped his head to one side, “We’re talking about the weather?” 

“Well, sure, why not? That storm saved your life.”

“I thought that was you,” Fraser smiled.

“Nope,” Ray shook his head decisively. 

“Ah, very well then. That was excellent weather. You should never again complain about it,” Fraser said teasingly.

Ray pulled at a loose string on the hem of his sweater, causing it to unravel all along the hem. 

“Why don’t you sit down?” Fraser asked, shifting to one side of the couch.  Ray looked up quickly, and then back down, slowly pushing himself away from the mantel and walking across the room, sitting down as far away as possible. 

“We need to talk about other things than the weather, Ray,” Fraser said, and Ray wondered if he had consciously used the four words no one ever wants to hear. Is that the sort of thing Fraser knew about? Ray thought probably not. We need to talk. He shivered.

“Now? You’re too tired. You should go to bed,” he insisted, not making eye contact, his hand drumming a persistent beat on the arm of the couch.

“Now,” said Fraser firmly.

Ray sighed. “Fine. You go first.”

“Ok,” Fraser nodded and turned slightly to face him. He slid swiftly along the couch, invading Ray’s personal space, and pressed the nervously tapping hand firmly into the cushions, stopping the motion. Ray turned his head in surprise, and fuck he hadn’t realised Fraser was so close, their noses were almost touching, and geez Stella would kill for those eyelashes— and then suddenly Fraser closed the space between them and kissed him. 

Ray froze briefly – fuck, this was nothing like last night, this was fully-lit and awake and – he moaned slightly, gaspingly, opening his mouth and leaning greedily into the kiss. Fraser groaned at the capitulation, pushing into Ray with his mouth, with his tongue, with his whole body, kissing him with all the intensity that it had taken Ray an age to coax out of him last night.  

Finally he pulled back, Ray’s mouth following blindly, swollen and wet. Leaning his forehead against Ray’s, Fraser muttered, “Why didn’t you tell me?”

“Tell you what?” Ray panted, still focusing only on Fraser’s lips.

“What it was that you wanted. Why you were here. All of it.”

Ray stiffened and pulled away. “Hey, I’m not just here ‘cause of you, y’know,” he protested angrily. “I have stuff going on. I like the… weather. I’m not some— some poodle that follows you around the frozen north.” 

“I never suggested that you were,” Fraser said soothingly. “I only meant that you should have told me how you felt. It would have made everything much simpler.” 

“Hey, you can’t sit there and tell me you felt the same way. You had no fucking idea what was going on.”

“Well, I will admit that I was somewhat blind to my— to the situation. But—”

“Yeah ‘somewhat blind’,” scowled Ray. “You could say that.”

“But just because I’m not as in touch with my emotions as you appear to be—” 

“Jeez, could you make me sound more girly?” Ray stood up and paced back over to the mantel.

“That’s no reason to protest now that I am finally… coming around to my true feelings.”

“True feelings? Fraser, you’re straight.” Ray flung his arms wide in exasperation, almost knocking a hideous stuffed owl that had belonged to Fraser’s dad off the mantel.

“That’s a somewhat restricted view of the situation, Ray. I have never believed one should confine oneself to an outmoded populist view of the socially acceptable—”

“Speak English, Fraser!”

Fraser stood up angrily, then swayed, his face paling. Ray rushed over and grabbed his arm, muttering about ‘taking things too fast’ and ‘serious head wounds.’

Fraser stopped him fussing by slinging an arm around his waist and pulling their bodies firmly together, leaning on him slightly. Their eyes met. “I want you,” Fraser said urgently. “I want you more than anything. If you’re not happy here we can go back to Chicago, or Florida or anywhere you want. I just want you.”

Ray blinked slowly, inhaling Fraser’s scent, carefully avoiding the ugly gash on Fraser’s head. “I— yeah, I want you,” he breathed. “I love you.”

“And I you, Ray.” Fraser smiled, and kissed him again.

They sat back down on the sofa, arms around each other.

“So,” Ray said, after a short pause. “Florida huh?”

“Well, it was just an example, Ray,” Fraser said nervously. 

“I don’t know,” Ray looked up and met Fraser’s eyes, smiling. “It sounds like an idea with potential. I could do with a change of scene.”

“Well,” Fraser cracked his neck uncomfortably. “If you are interested in moving on I’m more than happy to. More than happy,” somehow, Ray didn’t believe him. “Of course, due attention should be paid to locality, weather conditions, the feasibility of one or both of us finding paid employment—” 

“Oh yeah – sun, sea, sand… sounds good to me.” 

“There is also the case of my current contract here. It may not be possible for me to move on so quickly.” 

“Anything’s better than the weather here, after all,” Ray grinned. 

Fraser paused. “I believe this is where I am supposed to tell you that you are not to say anything against the weather here ever again.” 

“You got it,” Ray looked around at the sparse furnishings, the candles making up for the lack of electricity, the old, rattling window-panes. “After all, why the hell would I want to give all this up?” he asked, and kissed Fraser once more, lingeringly.

***

 Outside, in the snow, Susan gestured for the crew to cut.

  “Ok, guys that's a wrap," she said, brushing the snow from her eyelashes. "I think we’ve got everything we’ll need.” 

The End