"I can't believe you're tracking poachers while you're on vacation, Fraser. I mean, I can, because you're a freak. But on a deeper level there's still a part of me that can't believe you think this stuff is fun."

"It's satisfying," Fraser said. "There are times when a man needs the knowledge that justice has been done."

"Yeah," Ray said. "I get that." They were silent for a while, watching as the men they were following finished off their alcohol supplies and stumbled into their tents.

"You know, Ray," Fraser said, "the Tlingit have a folk tale that's very applicable to the current situation."

"Does it involve caribou?"

"No," Fraser said. "A wolverine, actually."

Ray shrugged. "OK. Tell it."

Fraser stared. "You want to hear it?"

"Sure," Ray said. "I got time." He nodded at the unmoving figures by the campfire in the distance. "As much as they drank, they ain't going nowhere till morning."

"Well." Fraser cleared his throat. "The story, as I said, involves a wolverine. He, er, was lying in wait for his prey to come out of its burrow-"

"What prey?"

"Pardon?"

"What was he waiting on?"

"Oh. Ah. Well, it was… a snowshoe hare. Yes."

"Kay."

"And, as I said, he was waiting for it to emerge from its burrow when he heard the sound of… hooves."

"Like caribou hooves?"

"Yes," Fraser said. "Caribou hooves. And-"

"I thought you said there wasn't a caribou in this story." Ray glanced at him, the corner of his mouth turning up.

"Well, the caribou is only involved peripherally. I didn't think it counted…"

"Fraser."

"Yes, Ray?"

"Admit it. There's no wolverine story."

"Actually Ray, there are a great many stories centered around the wolverine, and it plays a very important role in..."

"Fraser."

"Yes?"

"Is this particular story, the story you are now telling me, one of this plethora of wolverine stories of which you speak?"

"Not as such--"

"So I am, in fact, correct when I say that there's no wolverine story."

"Yes, fine, in this instance there is no wolverine story. But that doesn't alter the fact that there are a great many fine wolverine stories…"

"Stories that you're not, in fact, telling."

"Well… yes."

Ray laughed, an open, gleeful sound.

"Ray," Fraser said. "They'll hear you."

"They can't hear me, Fraser."

"Perhaps not, but if you persist in talking so loudly you'll make me respond in kind, and they can definitely hear me."

"Oh. Sorry," Ray said. "I didn't think about that part."

"It's OK, Ray."

"Am I bothering you? Cause if I'm bothering you I can leave-"

"No!" Fraser felt his stomach clench, and grabbed at Ray's arm, feeling a surge of bitter frustration when his hand passed through Ray's body.

"Hey, hey, easy," Ray said, patting at Fraser's head. His fingertips tingled on Fraser's skin. "I didn't mean leave leave. I just meant, I could go home for a while, leave you to it. Your dad invited me over for checkers in the linen closet."

Fraser looked away. "You'd probably find it much more entertaining there."

"Nah," Ray said. "Bob always tells me Frobisher stories when we play checkers. There's only so much Gorgonzola one man can take." He looked at Fraser wistfully. "Close your eyes," he said, and Fraser obeyed.

A few moments later he felt a soft weight on his cheek. His eyes flew open, and he gasped; Ray was thinner, transparent, a bare glimmer of Ray that could almost be a shadow on the snow, but the hand Ray was using to stroke his face felt cool and soft and there.

"Ray," he said, forcing the words out past a thickened throat. "I can feel you."

Ray's thumb moved, brushing something off his face. His smile was no less radiant for the trees Fraser could see through it. "I can do it," he said, and laughed, low and triumphant. "Bob said it was impossible and I said fuck that, and I can do it!"

Fraser wrapped one hand around Ray's wrist. He could feel the beads of Ray's bracelet move under his fingers, and for some reason that was the thing that undid him. He felt himself crumple, somewhere, and he shut his eyes against hot tears as he felt himself being wrapped in solid invisible arms.
 

~End~

Send Feedback

Go Back to Laura's Due South Fiction