The Best-Laid Plans
Rated: PG -13
Warnings (highlight to view): nothing to warn for
Eight months in, Ray realized his plan was a little nuts.
Well, okay, he'd known the plan was nuts from the beginning, but he hadn't made a plan since he was thirteen (marry Stella, and everybody knew how that had turned out), so he wasn't sure how they were supposed to work any more. Maybe they were all kind of crazy. It started off something like this:
He made it through three months with Fraser, until the ice gave way to millions of mosquitoes and shocking carpets of tiny, perfect flowers, and all that time they danced around one another like two seventh graders on a first date. When Ray reached the point where his dick got hard whenever Fraser so much as breathed near him, he knew he had to either do something about this, jump out of the plane and risk everything, or run with his tail between his legs.
Thirty-six hours later he was going through Customs at O'Hare, not really knowing how the fuck he'd gotten there.
He rationalized it by telling himself that it wouldn't have worked anyway, that no way would he have been able to stay up there; eventually he'd either have gone schizo from lack of pizza or they would've deported his ass. Either way he would've had to let Fraser go, and that – yeah, he couldn't even think about that. No, it was better this way. He was a Chicago cop, this was who he was; he just needed to get off the magical tundra and back to reality and he'd be fine.
On Monday, he walked back into the two seven, and everybody either was way too fucking cheerful to hide the fact they were totally surprised to see him, or (in Frannie's case) came up to him and hugged him like he'd lost a lover.
He walked out of the building at lunchtime and never came back. And the hell of it was that Welsh understood.
“So what are you gonna do?” he asked Ray one night a couple of weeks later, when all the paperwork had been signed and filed in a box marked done, and Ray didn't exactly know who he was any more.
Ray finished his beer and popped the cap on another one. “Guess I'll try something different.”
Which is how he ended up in Alaska.
Yeah, so the first part of it hadn't been much of a plan. But once he arrived in Juneau he got organized. He figured if he made it through a winter there, he could move on to someplace that didn't have Subways and McDonald's, and if he made it through another six months, he was most of the way there. He got a job in an auto shop and learned a lot fast. He'd spent years working on cars, his own and others, but the newfangled computer diagnostics were new to him. Pretty soon, though, he was working on everything from fancy-ass SUVs to beat-up old snowmobiles and his boss was giving him a raise.
The winter was hard, but not because of the cold or the darkness. That part was easy. The hard part was being alone, cutting himself off from Fraser because he knew if he e-mailed or wrote or called the guy would track him, try to figure out what the hell Ray was thinking. The thing was, Ray himself didn't know what was going on in his head, so he didn't want to have to explain it. He'd made everybody he knew at the two-seven promise to say he'd gone undercover if Fraser called, and that he probably wouldn't be able to communicate with anyone for a while.
Spring came again, and Ray was still in one piece and didn't hate Alaska and snow and everything, so he quit his job in Juneau and moved to a town of about five hundred people who really needed a mechanic, and set up his own small shop there. He also started researching how to become a Canadian. They were looking for several types of job classification Ray wouldn't be able to do in a million years, but they were also looking for skilled tradesmen who were willing to work in the ass end of nowhere, so Ray applied on that basis. He filled out about a million forms in triplicate, spent a small fortune on postage, and then spent weeks getting really aggravated when nothing showed up in his mailbox. That was the starting-to-think-this-is-nuts stage, because he'd given up his whole goddamn life and he didn't even know if Fraser wanted him. Hell, he'd been incommunicado for so long that Fraser'd probably forgotten about him, maybe hooked up with some hunky Trapper Joe with a plaid shirt.
Then Ray remembered he owned four plaid shirts now, and he had to put his head between his knees for a few minutes and breathe nice, shallow breaths.
Ray was working on a snowmobile when Frank Norris, who owned the only store in town, ran into the shop. “You got a letter!” he exclaimed. “From Canada!”
Ray banged his head on the engine cover. Rubbing at the back of his head with one hand, he snatched the letter with the other. “Thanks,” he murmured, trying to appear like he wasn't about to shit himself. The envelope was plain, official-looking, with no hint of the fact it held Ray's fate inside.
“Aren't you gonna open it?” Frank demanded. Ray looked at him, and Frank actually took a step back and held his hands out. “Right, yeah, I'll, uh, see you around, Ray,” he said, and then he was gone.
Ray staggered over to a chair and sat down. He couldn't handle this standing up. He didn't think he could handle this, period.
It took him a stupid amount of time to get the envelope open, and when he did, it took him another minute to get the letter unfolded. There were smudges of grease on the edges of the paper, but he could still read the verdict.
“Oh, Christ,” Ray murmured, closing his eyes and leaning his head back against the wall. “Now you got no more excuses.”
Ray wiped his palms on the legs of his jeans as he waited outside the door. He could do this. He had a plan, a speech all prepared and memorized. When Fraser opened the door, he wasn’t going to let him get a word in edgewise, just jump out of that plane and fuck the parachute.
The door opened.
It wasn’t Fraser. It was a good-looking guy, a few years younger than him, with dark hair and green eyes.
Ray had planned for this, too.
“Can I help you?” the guy asked. Greatness, he had a sexy voice, too, kind of French. So it was a Trapper Jacques, not a Trapper Joe. Same difference.
Ray shook his head. “Sorry, I got the wrong house.” He turned away and was down the steps and headed down the road before he could catch a breath.
“Ray. Ray. Ray!”
Of course the dumb bastard would chase him. Ray turned slowly, cursing the fact that of course Fraser couldn't be bothered to have a driveway like normal people, no, his house was a quarter mile from the fucking road and so Ray couldn't make a quick escape. He probably sled dogged to work, even in the summer.
Ray heard Fraser's heavy footsteps drawing nearer and spun around before Fraser could touch him, maybe try to haul him around. “What? What, Fraser? What do you want?”
Fraser stopped dead in his tracks about ten feet away, and Ray felt a small, mean jolt of satisfaction. “I – that's an incredibly difficult question to answer.”
“Oh, yeah? And why is that?”
“Because I want so – ” Fraser cut himself off and looked away, shaking himself like Dief after a bath, and Ray took a second to drink him in. Christ, he was even more beautiful than Ray'd remembered, but he looked a little tired, maybe. Fraser took a deep breath, then met Ray's gaze again, and the look in his eyes – it didn't make any sense considering Jacques was back there waiting for him. “Ray, I'm – I'm glad to see you.”
And just like that, Ray's anger – well, most of it, anyway, Ray was no saint – drained out of him, leaving him exhausted. It was like he'd spent the better part of a year chasing something that didn't exist, and it sucked, but at least he knew, now, instead of twisting in the wind like he'd been doing. “Yeah, I'm glad to see you too, buddy. I – uh. Look, take care of yourself, all right?”
Fraser blinked at him. “Surely you're not leaving after you've come all this way?”
Ray wanted to laugh at that; he was working in a town twenty miles closer to Yellowknife. Talking about how easy the commute would be had been part of the speech he'd rehearsed. “Yeah, well, uh, I just wanted to see how you were doing. And now I know things are good, and you're – uh. Not alone and everything. And that's good, that's really good, I'm glad for –” Okay, and that would be the point where Ray could stop babbling like an idiot. He nodded and smiled, because he could do this. “Take care, Frase.” He turned to go, but he only made it halfway before Fraser's voice stopped him.
“Ray,” Fraser said, soft and hesitant, like he wasn't sure if he was on the right track or not. “the man who answered the door – that's Maggie’s husband, Maurice.”
Ray turned back slowly. “Maggie's not married.”
“She is, actually,” Fraser said, and now there was a tiny little smile appearing and disappearing on his face, like he was trying to hold it back but it kept getting loose. “Last month. She wanted to send you an invitation, but since you were undercover...” He spread his hands. “They're here for the weekend, visiting.”
“Oh,” Ray said. He had the whole speech ready to go, but he felt so stupid now he didn't know where to start.
Fraser took a step toward him, then a couple more. “So your earlier assumption is wrong. I'm still alone.”
“Oh, that's – uh, you know something, that's –” Fraser was coming closer, he was, shit, right in front of him, and all Ray had to do was lean a little and he'd be –
“That's what, Ray?” Fraser murmured, the puff of his breath tickling Ray's lips.
Ray reached up, hooked an arm around Fraser's neck, and decided it was time to ditch the plan and go back to instinct. What the hell, might as well go with your strengths.
“Fucking fantastic,” Ray murmured, just before his mouth found Fraser's.
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