Ray stays up north way longer than he meant to, after the Quest. He’s not really sure he’s gonna have a job still waiting, even with the extra leave for coming out from under a long cover. But Welsh seems happy to have him back, doesn’t ask too many questions.
Ray wouldn’t have any answers, none he could explain to Welsh. He mumbled something to Fraser about the long night coming up, how he wasn’t ready for that. And that was true, but he let Fraser think it was about--getting depressed in the dark, or something. Fraser talked a lot about Seasonal Affective Disorder and Ray just nodded--yep, buddy, can’t handle that.
What he really couldn’t handle, though--it was the thought of spending the night with Fraser, the very longest night with Fraser. It was already getting hard, uh, getting really difficult, coming back to the cabin when the light was lost for the evening. Early winter dark like that, with Stella, he just always wanted to take her to bed right after supper--come on, baby, let me warm you up. Weeks of dark with Fraser, weeks of having to work so hard not to say that--no, Ray couldn’t take it.
Chicago, though, all of a sudden a Chicago winter seems too fucking bright, how is that even possible? Ray squints and hunches from the light, huddles into his hoodie, miserable. And when he gets a postcard from Fraser, just saying, “The night is even longer since you left,” he wonders if Fraser could possibly mean what that sounds like, and he turns the card over and over, looks at it in the light from the nearest window, weak winter light through dusty glass that’s still too much, too strong.