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I can't move. I'm absolutely frozen here, flying blind in the darkness.

This has never happened to me before.

*

Life gives me colored days.

Like, when we wrap up a case, sweet as can be. When we get the bad guys on so many levels that all the lawyers in the world couldn't help them, that's a green day. When Fraser is being extra Mountie-like, telling more stupid stories about igloos and whatthefuck, and he insists on helping every single little old lady across the street, that's a yellow day. Stella-days are orange and warm with memories from before things went sour. When Frannie looks coyly at Fraser's oblivious face, and wiggles her hips at him, I see a flash of pink. When we find some poor kid dead in the streets 'cause he got messed up in shit he shouldn't have been messed up in, my entire fucking world goes gray. Welsh can scream at me and I'll see lightning bolts of white, but Fraser can smile at me, and it'll be golden.

I've never had a fucking black day before, though.

I'm pretty sure Fraser ain't, either.

The first time I really caught a glimpse of Benton Fraser, the first time I really started to understand the guy, was back in that damn crypt. I was pissed off and embarrassed and generally sick of my entire job - hey, I was having a really bad day - and I asked him why we kept doing this?

"For the pride and honor of knowing we make it possible for good people to tuck their kids in at night, turn out the lights, and know they'll be safe," he said, rattling it off like a rehearsed speech. Hell, what do I know, maybe it even was.

That sentence told me volumes. No, Fraser has never had a completely black day. Nobody who sees life that way, who deals with the shit we do and still manages to believe in good things, has ever had a black day.

I'd never met anybody like him.

"You never doubt it?" I asked, and he didn't even fucking hesitate! Not even for a split second!

"Never," he said, and his voice had such a finality to it.

And, hey, the guy might be a fucking loon, but I completely respected that. I did. And in a way, I was jealous. In a way, I envied his ability to see the best in everyone. It's a fucking naive thing. I mean, the guy was practically kicked out of his own country and is stuck with a nut-job, halfway-burnt-out cop in Chicago, and he still believes in good things.

Me, I ain't so lucky. I know what goes bump in the night, and I know that when we do find that poor kid dead in the streets, it's because the kid made some bad fucking choices. Nobody's innocent here. The thing is, Fraser thinks it. He thinks all of our victims are pure as the driven snow, and he thinks all the bad guys have some good in them, like they can be lured into a confession or an apology. He thinks that everybody will eventually come around and see exactly what would be the right thing to do.

Fraser thinks everybody's got as strong a sense of justice as he does.

Sometimes I just wanna pop him one but good, 'cause anybody else? They'd have gotten it by now. They'd have grabbed a clue long ago, but Fraser? No, not Fraser. He wouldn't have caught the clue bus if it ran over him! It's like Fraser likes to be the big Mountie-man, and he likes to talk about justice and right and wrong, but he just doesn't get it.

I'd have thought after his father, after Victoria, that he'd have seen what this world really can do to some people, but I guess he just didn't. Any guy who'd gone through what he's gone through - and he's been through a lot, and he's got a freakin' bullet in his back to prove it - would not have been able to view the world the same ever again.

It's possible he did it on purpose. Blocked it all out, like nothing could touch him. Knowing that some people are just evil, and far beyond any redemption, is tough on everybody. I guess it's easier for him to think that some part of Victoria truly loved him because it meant there was something good in her after all. Or maybe, after her, he clings on just to convince himself that everybody's not like her? But what do I know. I wasn't there.

Either way I'm grateful that Fraser's not like the others. I'm grateful he's not like me. I rarely admit it out loud, but he's grown on me. When you first meet Fraser he comes off as pretty weird, and I guess a lot of people will agree with me there. But a lot of people don't know him like I do. I've always respected - hell, even admired - his belief in justice. It's one of the most defining things about the guy. I guess that's why this hurts me so much.

The first time I saw black was at Christmas. A call on my cell-phone, and then I threw myself into my car, driving, speeding, and finally screeching to a halt in front of him. He was... he was bleeding. And in the blood, I saw black. In his eyes, I saw black. And it was just. fucking. wrong.

Fraser's a sort of blue-ish guy, you know? Not depressing blue, but royal blue, like everything he does sorta radiates justice and belief in the right thing. He'll stand up straight and look like a fucking King of Doing The Right Thing, or whatever. If we'd been in the Middle Ages, he'd be a freakin' knight in shiny armor; one of the untouchable white hats, the Dudley Do-Right of sainthood or something. I know Fraser, okay? I know that what makes him tick, his belief in justice and doing the right thing. And I know he's pure fuckin' royal blue. I know he smiles gold, I know his eyes are as royal blue as his soul, I know his hands are clean and white. It's symbolic or something.

When I saw black in all that color, all that nobility, the black jumped at me like a pack of rabid wolves, tore at me, went straight for my jugular.

I blinked it away, got him in the car, spent a good ten minutes arguing with him and trying to convince him a hospital was the thing. But finally I gave in, cursing more than I knew he liked, and taking back to the station to let Frannie patch him up good.

The black lingered, and I hated it, wanted to forget it, wanted to have never seen it.

I tried fixing it by yelling at Welsh and the others until they finally got the point. But I guess some part of me knew all along it was only puttin' off the problem. Like telling your five-year old kid that the real Santa is busy, after he's pulled the fake beard off the guy in the mall, and that the real Santa does exist, he does!

Even five-year olds catch onto the clue bus eventually, and I guess that's when Fraser started lookin' around for a bus stop.

Even after Warfield had said sorry, the black still lingered on, even at the Christmas party. I just stood there stupidly, with actual colors in my eyes, red and green and gold and silver from the Christmas decorations, and black in the corner of my eye. I laughed and smiled and drank eggnog and tried to drive the shadows from my vision, but it didn't work.

It took nearly four days for the black to fade.

The second time I saw black was in an alley off Freemont's.

I should have seen it coming. Life had been a series of greens lately. Eight purse-snatchers, two robbers, three drug dealers, and one killer were all apprehended by us. Frannie was her usual pink, and Stella was her usual orange, and Dewey was actually being bright yellow and behaving - and Fraser's smile was just starting to get that familiar golden glow again. I should have seen it coming, really, I should have. Life never stays that good for that long.

It was an all-hands-on-deck kinda deal, 'cause this was no ordinary victim. She was chocolate brown, wrapped too tight in a blanket and barely a month old. The press was having a fucking field day, and Welsh was looking even grimmer than usual. When we got there, we had to force our way through the crowd of grieving onlookers and press, pushing at people to get to the Do Not Cross tape. And then we had to weave our way through the other crowd. It almost seemed like every detective, every police officer in Chicago, was there, whether it was their district or not. Problem was, it was our district. And we got to where Welsh was standing with the coroner and a fucking truckload of forensic agents, and Fraser's eyes went black again.

No blood this time, thank God, but his eyes were black pools of nothingness as he stood there, frozen to the spot. Diefenbaker whined softly at his side, and Welsh looked darkly at us both, nodding once. He wanted us to have this case, and me, I was fine with it. I wanted the case, too. Wanted to know who can take a newborn baby, wrap it up, and leave it in an alley to die, starve to death, little hands fumbling towards the Chicago night sky until they just didn't move anymore...

Diefenbaker whined again, and I patted his fur softly, offering the comfort that I really wanted to give Fraser.

The black stayed with him, this time, and it seemed to grow. Every time a new piece of evidence turned up, every time we found a new suspect or witness to interview, and I thought I knew pain, but holy hell, I hadn't seen anything until I saw the utter darkness in Fraser's eyes.

When we finally found the child's mother, when she explained to us, broken and sobbing, how she had no money, how she was high as a fucking kite, how she didn't know what she was doing, how nothing went right for her and in her twisted mind this was the only right thing to do, Fraser just...

He looked at her, didn't offer her a tissue for her tears as he'd normally do. He didn't show sympathy or hate, he was all black and in pain and drowning.

"Why?" he asked, and the word was almost a whisper as it tumbled from his lips. "Why?"

And it didn't matter that she'd just given us a whole list of reasons, bullshit or not, because she didn't know what to say to that, and the only color that penetrated my world of fuzzy gray was the utter blackness that was Fraser. He didn't say anything else, just stood there in his usual Mountie-posture. A dark toy soldier on the edge of hell, staring down into the flames and not having a single clue why!

This time it took nearly two weeks for the black to retreat, and I hated that darkness so much that I actually called up Stella and almost fucked her, but instead ended up being subject to one of her depressingly blue speeches. Pretty much what I'd counted on, y'know?

At least it gave my own life some color back. Gave me a pain I could focus on, I could actively work to fix. I didn't like Fraser being black. I liked Fraser being Fraser, being royal blue in a bright fucking red uniform, with stupid-ass pants and sacred hat. I didn't like him being black at all.

"I don't understand," he suddenly said one day, as I was finishing the last of my French fries from my plate, trying hard not to stare at his omelet where it still sat, uneaten.

He put his fork down; the omelet might have been uneaten, but it had definitely suffered a good poking.

"I don't understand," he repeated, and I knew what he was talking about. I had waited for it, actually; had even considered pushing him, 'cause everybody needs to talk about this shit. If I'd pushed him, though, he could have made with the whole silent treatment, so it was risky. No, this was the way to go, and if he wanted to talk about it over lunch, outta nowhere, I was gonna let him.

"She had a number of options," he continued, "including adoption and welfare. None of which required such a young life to be lost." He met my eyes evenly, and black pain washed over me from his gaze. "Why would she do something like that?"

"Some people are just fucked up, Frase," I told him. "You can't help it. 'S just how things work sometimes."

"But it's wrong!" he said, and oh yeah, there was anger there, too.

"The world ain't nice."

He looked away and got real quiet then, and I gave myself a good, solid kick in the head. I mean, I know I ain't Mr Sensitivity, but Fraser? The guy makes me at least want to try. He's worth trying for.

"Look," I pressed on and tried not to sound so harsh, "you can't save 'em all, okay? Some people are beyond saving."

I took a deep breath.

"Not everybody understands the concept of right and wrong like you do, okay?"

He just glanced at me, then picked up his fork and continued to poke his omelet.

I just watched dumbly as the darkness seemed to spread again, and Fraser was fucking slipping here, and I had no clue how to save him, bring him back, or even help him a little. How do you tell a guy - especially a guy like Fraser - that his beliefs, however good and pure and correct up in assfreeze, Canada, are completely wrong down here in Chiacgo? Fraser had finally found a problem he just didn't have a solution to, and it's killing him.

Today, I guess, was the final straw. We brought in a guy to the station after watching him beat the crap out of his wife, right there on the fucking street. We took 'em both to the station, left the wife with Frannie, hauled his ass into one of the interrogation rooms, and I went to town. Not literally, of course, even though I wanted nothing more than to slap him around like a sack of potatoes. I was pretty fucking surprised Fraser was there in the first place, 'cause if things had been normal, he'd be out with the wife, comforting her, throwing out big fancy words that really just meant "I'm here to help you," and trying to convince her to press charges. He wouldn't normally be in here with me, radiating black and watching me do my Bad Cop routine with this guy, not when there was a woman in need of his help.

Benton Fraser never knew how to say no to a damsel in distress, and yet here he was.

About the fifth time Prince Charming told us the "fucking bitch fucking deserved it!" Fraser was pretty pissed off. I could tell 'cause the Mountie stance was more tense than usual, and he was actually frowning, and his jaw went click-click-click.

"I want you to apologize to your wife," he told the guy in that Mountie no-nonsense voice of his, but in my ears he didn't sound calm at all. Oh yeah, Fraser was pissed off alright. "I want you to give her an honest apology, and a divorce, and then you'll sign an official confession."

The guy actually laughed and normally that wouldn't faze me, but this time I actually winced. Fraser was all black and his no-nonsense voice was almost quivering, I could tell, with... desperation?

"You will apologize," Fraser said again, and the guy spat on him. The glob of spit hadn't even hit the red of his uniform before I was yanking him out of his chair and shaking him.

"Ray," Fraser said behind me, and I scowled at the asshole before dropping him back in his chair.

"Hey," he protested, "that's police brutality right there!"

I growled once at him, and he shut up.

"You will apologize," Fraser said again, and yeah, I hadn't been imagining the desperate edge to his voice, 'cause there it was again.

"Why?" the guy asked, slouching back in his chair and giving us both a grin full of ugly, yellow teeth. "That fucking bitch isn't good for anything and she deserved it. Why would I want to apologize for giving her what she deserves?"

"Because," Fraser said, and for a moment he almost looked as if he was gonna end his sentence there. "Because regardless of what you might think, what you did was wrong!"

The guy snorted and shrugged. "So?"

That threw Fraser completely off track, and hell, he looked like somebody had just kicked his puppy. Then, abruptly, he turned and was out the door in a second.

"You stay put!" I ordered Prince Charming, and did what I always do; I followed him.

After getting a uniform to watch the door, I found Fraser in the bullpen, talking to Prince Charming's wife, and before I even reached them I could completely see the darkness spread and spread and spread, and suddenly my day was completely black for the first time.

***

I'm standing there in the bullpen, watching Fraser talk to Mrs. Prince Charming, and there were no more colors, and there ain't no way Fraser's just gonna bounce back from this, the way he usually always bounces back from everything. Supermountie has been brought down, and brought down hard. The wife is sniffling a little and forcing brave smiles to her face, and being all "no, no, it's no big deal, really," and "no, I won't be pressing charges."

Fraser is clinging to his last hope like a drowning man would cling to his... well, his Supermountie. He's trying once more, throwing out big words and sympathetic nods, and my head is spinning, 'cause I've never had black days before, never ever.

"But surely you must agree that this is no way to continue life," Fraser says, and I can't even bring myself to walk closer, 'cause my entire life has just hit me a little too hard. I hadn't even realized before now that I'd never had a black day before Fraser lost all hope in humanity and realized that right and wrong just wasn't that fuckin' simple, and maybe Victoria had just been evil all along and never really loved him. I just stand there like a big dork, staring.

The wife says something else I don't catch, 'cause of the head-spinning thing, and then Huey comes to take over. Fraser gives him a polite nod, turns, and walks towards me. His jaw is going click-click-click again, and I'm about to say something, but he just strides past me on those long Mountie legs and walks out. Fuck. He barely even looked at me, and I give Frannie a confused look and then turn and follow him again.

Those Mountie legs are really fuckin' long, and by the time I catch up with him in the parking lot, he's leaning against the hood of my car, sacred hat in his hand, and apparently staring at nothing. I walk over, rest my own ass on the car, and cross my arms.

"You wanna talk?" I ask carefully, and normally I'd be waiting, not pushing at all, but this ain't a normal day, not by a long shot. Not when Fraser's face is all black and crumbled like that, and I've never seen him like this.

"I had hoped..." he starts, then raises his head.

"I believed," and uh-oh, he's correcting himself, "that she would do the right thing. I was so sure there would be no other way this would happen. She would press charges, he would apologize and pay for his mistakes."

When he puts it like that, it sounds fucking stupid.

"I-" I start, not really having any clue what to tell him. I'm flying blind here, blind in the black and the darkness. "I'm sorry," I finish lamely, 'cause it seems like the only thing I can say.

We lean in silence for a while, before my spinning mind finally put together an actual sentence. "You do realize they're not all like this, right?" I say. "There are plenty of people out there who would do the right thing."

He nods and then jerks his head a little.

"Walk with me."

What can I say to that? Nothing. So we push up off the car and slowly walk across the parking lot, down the street, side by side. I can feel it in my guts. Fraser's gonna start talking soon, 'cause Fraser's a talking kinda guy. So I'm being real quiet, waiting and biding my time, and if I'm wrong and he hasn't started talking in a little while, I'll give him a little push again.

"You know," he says, and Bingo! we have liftoff, Fraser's talking.

"The little time I spent with my father as I was growing up, he taught me the difference of right and wrong. My entire life, I've been taught the importance of doing the right thing, even if it's hard. Expecting others to have been taught the same was, I suspect, rather foolish of me."

"Nah," I reply, shaking my head. "Not foolish. Maybe a bit unrealistic," and oh, yeah, I'm twisting the truth just a wee little here, "but not foolish. I think it's good of you to think that."

He doesn't seem convinced, and oh, boy, I really have to bring out the big guns here, don't I?

"You remember that day in the crypt? You told me why we're doing this job?" I ask. "Well, you were right. All along, you were right. Cause it's the people who are willing to do the right thing that we're doing this for. I just have a hard time seein' it sometimes, y'know?"

He's looking at me now.

"I asked if you ever doubted it, remember? And you said never. And I kinda always envied you for that." Great, I can feel myself blush. "I envied you for that outlook on life, Frase, 'cause there's so much shit going on and you still believed in the good in people, y'know? You still believed so fuckin' firmly that there is good in people, that there's a chance even the bad guys would know right from wrong eventually, and that we could help them see that and make the world a better place."

"I-" he starts, but I cut him off.

"Me, I ain't so sure. Wasn't, anyway. And I think we've both been kinda wrong about things, don't you Frase?" And I look at him and silently beg him to understand, to see that he needs to come down to earth a little, like I've raised my head from the muck since meeting him. "It's just that... everybody can't be saved, y'know? But those that can... those that can, Fraser."

He's quiet for a real long time, just looking at me. We turn and head down an alley to head back to the station.

"I see your point, Ray," he finally says, and I don't doubt for a minute that he does, but he's still all black.

"It gets easier," I blurt out, stopping and facing him. I need to make him understand that eventually you stop asking yourself why there are evil people in this world that can't be helped, and you learn to focus on those that can. "You learn to cope. Trust me on this, Fraser."

He forces a smile, and it's not quite golden, but it's there.

"I trust you, Ray."

The knowledge that he really, truly does isn't new - not since the Henry Allen - but it still manages to baffle me every damn time he says that. On a whim, I lean in a kiss him. Just a quick, barely there peck on the lips, but it's definitely a kiss all right.

It's a mistake, I know it, it's a big, fat, huge mistake. Fraser doesn't say anything, he just stares back at me, and I quickly avert his eyes, clearing my throat. I don't know what to say either, and suddenly I'm painfully aware of my trembling hands. My heart feels like it's gonna pound its way through my chest, and my ears are ringing. Say something, I think, then quickly correct myself to Don't say anything, please!

But then he moves forward and I have a split second to notice that through the darkness, his eyes are so fucking blue I could lose myself in them forever, and then his lips are on mine again. I'm speechless, I'm stunned, I'm shocked, I'm shaken to the very fucking core here! Then my eyes slide shut and I let myself fall into the kiss. It's like falling into blue. Falling into water, but I'm not drowning, I'm swimming, I'm floating, I'm drifting, lost in the sensations and the feelings and the emotions and the colors. It's like freakin' fireworks, all in blue, royal, royal blue, Canadian blue, Fraser blue.

His lips are soft and warm, and he has a five o'clock shadow that scratches my chin. His breath is going unevenly through his nose, and his arms come up around me, hands tentatively touching my back. I grip his shoulder with one hand, and embrace him with the other. I can't get enough. I've been lost all along, and have finally found something to hold on to, and I need it, I need him, I need more!

We end up by the wall, him against the bricks and me against him, the alley protecting us from onlookers. His mouth moves against mine, tongue seeking entrance, and I let him. I welcome him. He's trembling, he's fucking shaking in my arms. I know what he's doing, I know how he's feeling. He wants more, he wants it all, I can tell, but at the same time he's trying not to rush it, trying to take it slow so everything can be memorized and kept. Warm hands clutch at my waist, at my hips, and I grind into him, driving my groin forward to meet his, and he's hard there, hard for me, just like I am for him, and he lets out this breathy little groan into my mouth, and I nearly lose it right then and there.

When I pull back in desperate need of air, his face is shining, his eyes are blue, his smile is golden and radiant and holy mother of God I'm about to need sunglasses here. I suck in huge gulps of air, letting it fill my lungs. Chicago has never felt greener, never felt more pure, never been more colorful! Chicago is a fucking rainbow, and Fraser's my pot of gold. I want to kiss all that darkness right out of him, kiss the black away and never see it again. Never want to have another black day like this. Never have another day where Fraser feels like he's lost all hope in the good in humans.

"Ray," he whispers, and I know, I know. This is not the time or the place.

I cut off anything else he might've said with another kiss, but this time slow and gentle, not hungry or rushed. When we finally break apart, we're both breathing heavily again, and I rest my forehead against his, looking down at our bodies. We're pressed tightly against each other. It feels right.

When I raise my head to meet his gaze, his eyes are colorful and clear. And his serge is bright fucking red and he's almost completely royal blue again, and I've never seen anything more beautiful in my entire life. If I'd known my kisses could drive the dark away, I would have kissed him this Christmas.

I'm not quite sure what to say, so I just say the first thing that comes to mind.

"I won't let you break, Fraser."

For a second there, I think he's gonna spit out some big words and go all Mountie on me, but then he just kinda nods a little and replies, brokenly, "I know, Ray."

We hold hands like a couple of teenagers down the rest of the alley, and regretfully release each other as we turn back out on the street again. We walk the rest of the way to the station in companionable silence, and this has been the darkest day of my life, but by God I couldn't have stopped smiling if my life depended on it! The world is vivid. It's colorful in the spring sun. The streets are wonderfully yellow, the sky is a fresh green, and Fraser's so fucking royal blue and golden and uniform-red I'm almost going blind!

I hope he never goes black again. Sometimes I don't know if Chicago's really healthy for him, because I do admire his ability to see good things in all people, and it's hard to do that here. I envy him that ability - but it just doesn't work like that down here. And I think some of Fraser's innocence was lost today, and it's killing me to even think it.

I never want to see darkness in his eyes again.

He turns his head to me, turns that golden smile right fucking at me, and I know - I know - that it'll be okay. He'll be okay. He'll make it through this, because that's what Fraser does, he bounces back. Supermountie isn't dead after all. He just takes a little longer to be himself again this time, that's all. Besides, I ain't leavin'.

I'm gonna be there, right there, right next to him, every damn step of the way. I'll stick to him like Diefenbaker to a hot donut, 'cause that's what partners do. We're a team, him and me, a duet. I need him to believe in the good in people, so he can be the yin to my yang. It's how we work. He sets 'em up, I knock 'em down, and he's my friend and my partner and now maybe something more? So I'll see him through this. He'll have to fucking clobber me if he ever wants to get rid of me. Right now, his smile says he doesn't want me to go anywhere, though, and the thought warms me from the inside.

His golden smile blends in with the rest of the colors, and we continue our walk through the rainbow in silence.

End.