Spring Thaw
by lamardeuse

Rating: R

Pairing: Fraser/Kowalski

Warnings (highlight to view):  nothing to warn for

A short ficlet for yunitsa.


City smells like dog shit,” Ray said, wrinkling his nose at the morning air.

Fraser opened his mouth, then closed it. The truth was that he had noticed the smell, as he did every spring after the thaw, but he sensed that agreement wasn't what Ray needed right now.

He'd been thinking far too much lately about what Ray might need. Most of his theories, he imagined, were products of his own fancy.

Frase. Frase. Earth to Fraser.”

Yes, Ray, I'm here. I haven't left the car.”

Geez, you might as well have. Half of the time lately it's like you left your brain someplace. With Turnbull, maybe; could explain why he's been reading that Shakespeare lately.”

I believe it's Donne, actually –”

Yeah, poetical English dead guy, I was close.” Ray pulled up at the Consulate and glanced at his watch. “So, crappy stakeout's over, we got the whole weekend in front of us, want to clock out and get some breakfast or something?”

Certainly, Ray.” Fraser took a deep breath, some madness pushing him on. “Or we could –”

Could what?”

Ray, do you trust me?” Fraser blurted, and dear Lord, what was he doing?

What kinda question is that? Course I trust you.”

Then I'd like to show you something.”

Ray gazed at him for a long moment, his expression unreadable. “Okay. Lead on, MacBeth.”

Okay, Fraser, when you said 'I'd like to show you something,' I wasn't exactly expecting – trees.”

Not just any trees, Ray,” Fraser said, surveying the forest stretching around them with satisfaction.

Yeah, uh, right, not any trees. Trees with tubes stickin' out of 'em.”

Slightly daunted by Ray's continued bad humour, Fraser took refuge in instruction. “They're sugar maples, Ray. Every year the cycle of freezing and thawing at the beginning of spring causes the sap to run, and from this, man derives the bounty of maple syrup.”

And the sap all runs out of these tubes?”

Fraser pointed. “All the way down the hill to the sugar shack, yes. Of course, it has to be boiled extensively in order to concentrate it. It takes forty gallons of sap to make one gallon of maple syrup.”

Huh,” Ray said. “I thought that was a Canadian thing. Didn't know we had any sap places in Illinois.”

Well, the province of Quebec does produce over eighty percent of the world's supply. However, farms such as these provide amply for the local –”

Fraser, Fraser, it's okay, I get it,” Ray said. “You can nix the lecture.” He took a deep breath of the crisp air and let it out slowly, and Fraser watched as some of the tension disappeared from his muscles. “No dog shit here. S'nice.”

Yes,” Fraser said, because it was the only coherent thought he could form here, in the middle of the sugar bush, with the life blood of a thousand trees singing around them and Ray's face looking so utterly beautiful in the warm spring sun.

Hey, all this nature is making me hungry,” Ray said. “Anyplace you can get a flapjack around here to put some of this syrup on?”

It took Fraser a couple of attempts to find his voice. “I believe there's a restaurant just down the road,” he managed.

Well, now you're talkin',” Ray said, clapping Fraser on the back. As he walked, Fraser continued to feel the imprint of that touch long after Ray's hand had left him.

This is the mother road, you know,” Ray said around a mouthful of pancakes in the nearby diner they'd found. “Route 66.”

Yes, Ray,” Fraser said. He'd thought about the connection when he'd first seen the brochure for the farm over a month ago, thought Ray might appreciate it.

Know what I'd love to do?” Ray asked. “I'd love to take the Goat all the way down her sometime, right down to New Orleans. Maybe next vacation, huh? Whaddaya say?”

Fraser nearly choked on his tea. “Do you mean you want me –”

Ray waved a hand. “You know what? Why don't we make a little vacation of this now, huh? You bought me flapjacks, I'll buy you ribs. We can make it to Saint Louis by nightfall. Sound like a plan?”

Fraser gulped. “I'm afraid I didn't pack –”

They got stores in the big city, Frase. You need a toothbrush and some longjohns, I'm good for that.”

Fraser knew he should say no. He knew he should resist temptation, because this would be temptation almost beyond bearing. Through pure chance, he'd tapped into one of Ray's hidden needs, and now it seemed as though the floodgates had been opened. But there would be a point at which their needs diverged sharply, and Fraser was not equipped for that sort of disappointment any longer.

But there was a mischievous twinkle in Ray's eye that Fraser had seen far too infrequently through the long, cold winter, and despite the risks, he was loath to give that up just yet. And so he found himself saying, “Well, then, I suppose I have no objections,” and even mustered a smile to match Ray's own.

Which was how eight hours later Fraser found himself walking with Ray down a hotel corridor in Saint Louis toward their room (Ray had insisted on paying for Fraser's room, and Fraser had refused, and the next thing he knew Ray had made it sound reasonable that they share, since certainly Fraser could have no difficulty with him paying for his own room, could he?). Ray had indeed bought Fraser a toothbrush, but no longjohns, which meant that Fraser would have to strip down to his shorts in front of a similarly unclad Ray – no, of course, he could undress in the dark, and he didn't have to look, and oh hell, the two beers he'd drunk were making him completely light-headed and foolish.

Fraser fumbled in his jeans pocket for his key, but when he looked up Ray was already turning his key in the lock. Ray chuckled. “That's what you get for wearing those jeans so tight,” he said, and then his cheeks pinkened oddly and he shoved the door open.

The room was pitch dark, and Fraser stumbled and nearly fell when he bumped into Ray as he walked in the room. Ray's hands shot out unerringly to his shoulders, steadying him, and he murmured, “Okay?”

Fraser swallowed and nodded, then realized Ray could see neither of those actions. “Yes, I'm fine,” Fraser managed.

Ray's hands released him after a moment, and then Fraser could hear the sound of his palms gliding over the (vinyl, from the smell of it, and recently applied) wallpaper. “Shit, where's the – oh.” There was a click, and the room was suddenly bathed in light.

Oh,” Fraser said, staring. “There's only one bed.”

Right, yeah, they told me that,” Ray said, gaze also on the bed as he rubbed the back of his neck. “There's this convention in town, see – elks, moose, donkeys, something like that – and this was the only kind of room they had left.” He paused. “That okay?”

Fraser schooled his features to calm, but it was much harder than it should have been considering his long years of practice. “Yes, of course,” he said. “I can't imagine why it wouldn't be.”

Can't imagine, yeah,” Ray muttered. “Look, I'm pretty worn out from all that nature and driving and stuff. How about we catch an early night and start off fresh in the morning?”

Certainly, Ray, if that's what you –”

Great. You don't mind if I take the bathroom first, right?” Ray said, not really waiting for an answer as he disappeared behind the bathroom door.

No,” Fraser murmured, closing his eyes briefly. “Not at all.”

When Fraser emerged from the bathroom, he was surprised to see the room awash with light. He stood in the doorway for a moment, clad only in his boxers, stupidly blinking.

You okay?” Ray asked. He was already in bed, the covers pulled only halfway up his chest. Fraser felt a sudden chill, which was ridiculous; he didn't get cold.

I only thought – I'd turned out the light before I went in.”

Yeah, you did. I had to – uh, get somethin'. Earlier.”

Fraser frowned. The light switch was all the way across the room, at the door; he'd have to walk past the bed to turn it off. Of course, going back in to get dressed or asking Ray to put it out was ridiculous. Nothing else for it, then.

Just before he switched off the light, he glanced briefly at Ray, and was shocked to see Ray staring at him as though –

No. It was impossible.

And then, as soon as he realized he was being observed, Ray's gaze skittered away, and Fraser's heart leapt in his chest.

Flicking off the light, Fraser made his way back to the bed on legs that were only shaking slightly. He climbed in, and felt the shift in the mattress as Ray moved as well, restless energy perhaps, or something else; Fraser was still not completely sure.

Thanks for getting me out of town,” Ray said, after a long moment. “I was getting kinda sick of the old grind.”

It was my pleasure, Ray. We needed to celebrate the spring thaw.”

Yeah, thawing,” Ray murmured. “I been thinking a lot about thawing lately.” He shifted again, and Fraser could feel the faint puff of breath on his shoulder that indicated Ray had rolled to his side, facing him.

You have?” Fraser ventured, holding himself so still he feared his bones might crack from the tension in his muscles.

Yeah,” Ray said again. “Things melting together, getting hot. You ever think about that?”

About – changing states?” Fraser swallowed. “From a solid to a liquid?”

Physics, sure,” Ray murmured, shifting once more, breath warmer, stronger on Fraser's bare skin. “But not the boring kind. Atoms smashing into one another, boom. Energy like you never seen, new universes to explore, that kind of – dammit, Fraser, no more metaphors. Just – tell me I'm not alone or tell me to go fuck myself.”

You're not alone,” Fraser breathed. “Ray, I –” That was all he could get out before Ray's mouth collided with his, making a new compound never before seen. And Fraser gasped and threaded his hands through Ray's hair and held on through the transformation.


Mmmm?” Fraser said, nuzzling at Ray's hip. He traced the sharp jut of bone with his tongue, and Ray shivered beneath him.

Think I'm – gonna like this thawing thing,” he managed.

Fraser's tongue sought another, earthier taste, and Ray groaned deep in his throat and threw his head back against the pillows. “I'm glad to hear it, Ray,” he said, joy bubbling up under the surface of his skin.


April 2010

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