torch, July 1999

Disclaimer: when a man loves a Mountie, who am I to object? Set during the episode Good for the Soul. Place the title, win a yellow rubber duckie. Do not archive this story without permission.

The latest party

He pulled up in front of Warfield's club with a squeal of brakes, almost skidded right up on the curb, the street all sleet-slick, the wheels of the GTO spinning. He'd only run two red lights to get there. Or only one, really. The other one was practically yellow. Didn't count. It wasn't important. He was here, and—

Fraser was standing just to the right of the entrance. To the left was the line of people waiting to get in, all of them carefully not looking, keeping their eyes on the bouncers. Off Fraser. There was snow in his hair and blood on his face, and Ray left the engine running as he jumped out of the car and ran up, taking hold of Fraser's arms, remembering at the last moment not to grab as hard as he wanted.

"C'mon, Frase — c'mon — get in the car — you all right? No, 'course you're not all right. Forget I asked." Fraser in motion was Fraser in very slow motion, stiff as an old man, holding himself like his joints would fall apart if he overbalanced too far. "You don't look all right. You look like someone dragged you into an alley and beat you with a length of pipe, which in case you didn't notice is because someone did—"

"Nobody — actually dragged me, Ray, I was lured by a false cry of distress from a young woman who turned out to be one of my attackers."

"Whatever. Easy, take it easy," as Fraser folded himself into the passenger seat like someone trying to fold a road map against the creases. Ray went around the car again, stepped in a puddle and got slush in his left shoe. He slid in behind the wheel. "I'm taking you to the hospital, Fraser."

"No." Fraser sounded so quiet. "That won't be necessary."

"Not necessary? You think that's cranberry sauce on your face?"

"I'm fine, Ray."

"You're fine?!" That was blood on his face. The Mountie was bleeding. It was obscene, to see this, to see Fraser hurt, to see Fraser damaged. Ray wanted to pull him close, to hold him tight and never let go. "Fine." He put his hands on the steering wheel, away from temptation. "So I'm taking you to the station."

Fraser drew breath, paused, and then just nodded. Didn't say anything, just bent his neck, and it was like being kicked. Ray stamped down viciously on the accelerator and made a squealing u-turn. They had to get away from the club and the alley and the people standing there who must have known, who must have heard and not done anything because they were just ordinary people, ordinary scared people, they weren't like Fraser and that was why Fraser was the one who got roughed up in an alley and those people were going clubbing and there was no blood on their faces.

This time, he braked when the lights turned yellow. Looked sideways at Fraser seeing red light on pale skin. Fraser looked like something had broken inside him, like those goons had aimed for the ribs and cracked his soul. And no one but Fraser would look good like that, all miserable and bloody and tarnished and somehow more desirable than he'd ever—

Ray banged his hand against the steering wheel hard enough to hurt.

"What is it, Ray?"

"Nothing." A chorus of blaring horns had begun behind them and he stamped on the gas again. That's sick, Kowalski, that's so sick. "Nothing, I was just thinking."

And all the way to the station, he thought about other things, things that weren't Fraser broken open and vulnerable, things that had nothing to do with fucking Fraser to make him feel better, fucking him hard with the blood still on his face. He was going to forget about that. He was the only witness, and he hadn't seen anything. Fraser might want a confession for Christmas, but he wasn't going to get this one. Fraser would never know.

Ray wished he didn't have to, either.

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