Actions

Work Header

Outer Space Is a Lovely Place

Work Text:

Canada was dark and quiet. It smelled like office supplies and Lemon Pledge and Fraser. It was the last one that was the problem - that and the sound of his partner’s slow, even breathing coming from the floor next to the cot Ray was pretty sure he was going to fall out of at some point in the night. As long as he didn’t fall on top of Fraser. As long as he could resist falling on top of Fraser, lying next to him down there all sleepy and warm in his red pajamas with the buttons that you could slide your hand into and.... Ray’s legs twitched a little, achy. He was too tired to sleep.

There are people things happen to, was Ray’s theory. He’d never been able to explain it, even if he’d had someone to explain it to (who wasn’t yelling at him at the time - there were always a lot of those someones). But this was why he was having the kind of day he was having, because Ray had a magnet lodged somewhere under his ribs that was about the strength of the kind they used at junkyards to pick up wrecked cars. Except his was for weird. Usually the bad kind of weird, otherwise known as trouble.

One person could stop for directions at a gas station and walk away with nothing more dangerous than a bad cup of coffee and some notes scribbled down on a napkin, and another guy will hardly get past the jingling bell before being confronted with a disgruntled ex-plastic surgeon wearing a chicken suit and pointing a gun at an attendant who's quoting Rudyard Kipling. You could twist the tab off every can of Coke you drank and carry them in your hip pocket for luck, you could wish on the first star you saw every night since you were a kid, but you couldn’t change the kind of person you were underneath. So you got used to solving things on your own, because nobody else could ever believe the kinds of messes you got yourself into. Sometimes that worked okay. Sometimes everything worked against you.

Because the thing was, there was a difference between having things happen to you and being able to make things happen.

Fraser could make things happen. If he ever lost a button off his uniform, Fraser could probably whistle and make cartoon birds swoop in and sew it back on. Fraser was also the cause of weird happening to normal citizens who’d lived perfectly normal lives up until they met the Mountie: Ray saw it every day, working with the guy. If Ray had a magnet in him, Fraser had some kind of alien tractor beam. And today Ray had run towards it, gotten caught up in it, dragging the wrecks of his own troubles behind him like a chain on his ankle.

Every time he’d tried to break free, today, do something for himself, things had just gotten worse. And now here he was, nothing to do but wait for the morning, and it wasn’t that he didn’t think Fraser could pull something off to save him. He just wasn’t sure why Fraser bothered. (Except that he bothered for everyone.) He wasn’t sure he wanted to be saved. And he really wasn’t sure he could get to tomorrow without doing something stupid.

When he closed his eyes, he kept getting flashes of things he’d seen that day. Like when you were a kid and you went to the carnival for the day, and then when you went to bed, at the corner of your eyes you saw flickers of colored lights, and your body felt the lurch of the Tilt-a-Wheel starting up, and how it was to rise into the air held by only your own weight and the flimsy wall at your back. Like that, except Ray was seeing a warehouse hanging upside down above his head, and hearing Fraser’s voice, in that reasonable tone he always used when he was trying to get Ray to do something completely nuts, saying, You’re going to have to trust me.

Ray tried to roll over, carefully. It wasn’t so much a roll as a three-point turn, shifting his right side bit by bit, trying to keep his balance on the center of the cot, and not to jab himself in any of the fifteen hundred bruises he’d collected today. And then finally he was facedown, and the pillow smelled like Fraser. Fraser, who was right next to him, still breathing steady, in and out. Ray wasn’t used to having someone sleeping next to him that he wasn’t – that wasn’t Stella. He tried breathing in time, but it felt like he was trying to hypnotise himself, or like Fraser was reaching out from his sleep to try to hypnotise him. Ray shifted again under his blanket.

His brain got like this sometimes, this thing where it would not freaking turn off. Before Fraser, what he did a lot of nights was knock it out with the application of a few fluid ounces of whatever he had around. Ray knew that was bad, but he knew how to deal with a hangover – it was easier than banging his head against the wall. Booze was probably out, tonight, though.

He’d been like this all day. It was the having nothing to do, on top of the having nothing go right. Wandering around the Consulate, reading the plaques on the wall. (There was one that said “Trudeau Room”: Ray wondered why Canada had a room named after the guy who drew Doonesbury.) Feeling like all the woodpaneling was going to come closing in on him. Looking for something else to read, finally settling for a back issue of National Geographic, which was pretty much like listening to Fraser talk except with pictures, finding himself getting all upset about the plight of the Queen Alexandria birdwing butterfly of Papua New Guinea. Honestly, at that point it had pretty much been a choice between getting out of the building and killing himself.

Ray rolled over again, and pulled the pillow out from under his head to hit himself in the face with it a couple of times. He reminded himself that, at this very moment, in this building, there was at least one sarcastic wolf and three Chinese tourists sleeping. And maybe Turnbull, too – Ray wasn’t sure whether the cardboard box the guy lived in was kept on Consulate property. Any of them could overhear if he and Fraser…did anything, any of the things he was carefully not thinking about.

It wasn’t as much of a turn off as it really, really should have been.

Behind his eyes, he could see flashes of Fraser’s face, tongue poked out one side in concentration as he stared at Ray, a little too much, too intense, while his hands moved below his neck unbuttoning and untying, shucking off his suspenders, opening his flies…

Ray knew way more today about how a Mountie’s uniform came off than he’d known yesterday. He wasn’t sure his brain could be trusted with that knowledge.

“Ray?” came Fraser’s voice out of the darkness, warm and a little raspy with sleep.

Ray covered his face with the pillow. “Yeah, Fraser,” he said, muffled.

“Are you all right?”

“Can’t sleep,” he said, miserably. He heard Fraser shifting in his bedroll, sitting up.

“Is there anything I can do?” While Ray’s tongue was glued stuck trying to come up with an answer to that, Fraser went on, uncertainly, still a little muzzy, “Another blanket? A glass of milk?”

Ray decided that if he was twisted enough to be turned on when he had warm-milk aftertaste in his mouth, he should probably just be locked up. Which he had a good chance of being, tomorrow. So he might as well find that out. “Yeah, sure,” he said, resigned. “Milk sounds great.”

---

“You know, Ray, throughout history people have sought to overcome insomnia with many different substances. The Greeks used opium, and Hypnos, the god of sleep, was often pictured holding an opium poppy. The flower was also identified with the goddess Persephone, who, as you may know, was abducted by Hades and made queen of the underworld.” Rambling, Ben thought. It had been a long day, and Ben had woken out of an old dream of candles at a window.

“Uh-huh,” said Ray. He was padding behind Ben, a step or two behind, with his hands tucked into the arms of his – Ben’s – borrowed flannel shirt, his bright head bowed.

“More recently, in the early nineteenth century, artificial sleep aids were invented, such as chloral hydrate. As a policeman, you may be familiar with the terms ‘Mickey Finn,’ or ‘slipping someone a Mickey,’ as the drug was unfortunately co-opted and put to bad use by the criminal classes.”

“That is so interesting, Fraser.”

Ben was glad Ray thought so. He was feeling a little uncertain about his skills as a host, which were so seldom put to use these days. Never, in fact. Not since – since his home had burned.

It was a pleasure to be able to offer shelter to a friend. It was a pleasure to feel that this building, his de facto home, was really at his disposal, really his if only for one night. He flicked on the kitchen light and headed towards the refrigerator, but Ray stepped ahead and flapped one hand in his direction.

“You. Sit down or something. I can make it.”

Disconcerted, but feeling it would be rude to argue, Ben sat down at the small kitchen table and watched Ray open the fridge.

“No milk.”

“Oh, I’m sorry. I can…”

“Don’t worry about it. I’ll make…tea, I guess.”

Ben started up. “It’s in the…”

“Yeah, yeah, I got it.” Ray had already opened the appropriate cabinet and was peering at the tea boxes as though they had personally offended him. He yawned, open-mouthed, infectious: Ben picked up the yawn, and held his hand in front reflexively. No finicky, habitual politeness for Ray Kowalski, he thought, vaguely: no early training of please, thank you, holding doors and standing up straight. Ray slouched, and scratched when he itched, and leaned into other people’s space. It gave his friend a boyish air, and was equal parts endearing and objectionable.

“What do you do when you can’t make your head shut up?” Ben opened his eyes, which had somehow drifted closed again, to see Ray puttering with a kettle. It was very domestic. A warm feeling, his frequent companion today, rose again in Ben’s chest, with a twisting unease beneath.

It was wrong, perhaps, to be so simply, instinctively glad to have Ray here with him – Ray didn’t want to be trapped under his roof, Ray had come to him out of desperation and need.

“I picture a…a vast, snowy landscape.” The Northern Lights bright before them, the last of the snow falling gently all around. There was a sudden touch on his arm, and Ben jolted in his chair to find Ray at his elbow, holding two steaming mugs.

“Freezing to death’s real relaxing, huh? I don’t know how you ever happened, Fraser,” said Ray, which wasn’t fair: Ben wasn’t the one who could apparently de- and re-materialize while bearing hot beverages.

He let himself be herded out into the dark, quiet environs of the waiting room and sat down on the sofa. Ray sprawled next to him, and nudged Ben’s foot with his, lightly. He looked down, baffled as to the proper response. Ray slung his heel casually over Ben’s ankle. As the warmth in Ben’s chest grew, he took a sip of tea – chamomile, sweet with honey – as cover.

“I have a weird magnet,” Ray said. His voice was hushed and thoughtful. Fraser attempted to parse that statement.

“In what way is this magnet weird?”

“It attracts weird.” Ray slanted a parlous look at him, eyes heavy-lidded and challenging. “The stuff we get into, you and me. I’d love to blame Vecchio for putting me in range of you, but. I figure, I’ve got a weird magnet, you’re the weirdest thing in Chicago. It was bound to happen.”

Ben took a sip of tea. He’d thought, before meeting Ray Kowalski, that he’d developed some facility with Chicago parlance, but at least half the conversations he had with his new partner made his head spin. He himself seemed constantly in danger of causing offense or unexpected explosions of laughter. He wondered if it was possible for two people to care for each other at cross purposes.

(It occurred to him, as he swallowed, that this flavor, this taste of honey and chamomile, would be in Ray’s mouth, too. He attempted to dismiss the thought.)

“What I worry about is, you and me together. You ever think maybe we’re, um,” Ray’s hand described a wave in the air, “warping the space time fabric continuing thing?”

“Ah…”

“Just,” pointing at Ben. “You think about that.”

“All right.” Ben shifted slightly. His shin, covered with the soft cotton of his union suit, rubbed against the underside of Ray’s bare calf. He longed, suddenly, to take Ray’s hand.

“It is a cause for concern,” said Ray softly.

The silence lay between them for a moment. In the hall, past the door, the nightlamps glowed like candles, but with a steady, unflickering light. The windows were black and cold, and the walls of the consulate were a bulwark around them, protection against the howling wilderness of the city. Here, now, they were safe. Ben could keep Ray safe. His skin was prickling with the thought, and his chest was tight.

“It will be all right.” His partner was silent, fearful or lost in self-mistrust. “I won’t see you punished for something you didn’t do, Ray. I would never allow it.”

“Yeah.”

“You can trust me, Ray,” he insisted, his voice shaking.

“I know. I know that.” Ray turned his head to look at him, and Ben saw him frown, before Ray’s hand was touching out to his face, his thumbs brushing the corner of his eye. “Hey,” he said. His voice creaked a little; it was very gentle. Ben reached out, hardly knowing what he was doing.

---

When Ray’s mum was eight months and one week pregnant, she went to a funfair held in the back lot behind St. Mary’s, and because Barbara Sullivan Kowalski was crazier than a drunken snake – born that way, never got a day saner – after two ice creams and a hot dog she decided she wanted to go on the flying swings to cool off her swollen ankles. The carnie let her on, who knew why.

Fifteen minutes later, Ray was getting born.

This went to show two things: one, that Ray came by his nuttiness honestly. And two, that he was always doing the wrong thing, getting the wrong idea at the wrong time.

Here he was, sitting next to Fraser, just trying to wind down. Trying to let the day go. Fraser was out of it, Ray could see that, but still trying to make Ray feel better. Which, Ray didn’t really know why Fraser bothered, and it was starting to twist him up inside, that guilt of not knowing, not having anything to give back. But it was, it was nice, was what it was.

And still there was this part of Ray thinking how they were sitting close, too close, really, but Fraser wasn’t pulling away. How he could smell Fraser, leather and wool and wolf, a little eau de pizza tonight. And underneath it, a guy smell, like paper bags, clean sweat, some kind of spice, and something tangy, a little like the sludge you got at the bottom of a bottle of wine. Ray thought about tasting Fraser’s skin, maybe on the inside of his wrist, and his mouth watered.

And then Fraser said, You can trust me, like he hadn’t been saying that all day, like it wasn’t completely obvious anyway. His voice sounded strange, so Ray looked over. And there was a tear glinting in the corner of his eye.

There was something going on here, something big, and Ray hadn’t even noticed. He’d been too busy with his own freaking out.

“Hey.” Aghast, he reached out to wipe away the tear, and Fraser clutched at his arm. Too tight. “Hey, what…?” Putting down his cup and shifting up onto his knees, he scootched a little closer to Fraser. Which put him practically in the guy’s lap, but Ray was determined not to think about that. “Frase, hey, I’m sorry. What..?”

Fraser was still hanging onto his upper arm, like it was an anchor, like he needed it. And that was backwards, all wrong, because Ray was the one who always needed something to hold onto. He was the one who was spinning off into thin air.

He didn’t know that much about Fraser, he realized, feeling sick. He wanted to, he wanted to know everything. He wanted to crack Fraser’s chest open and climb inside. But they always seemed to end up talking about Ray’s problems, and this – this was bam outta nowhere. He had no idea what this was.

He didn’t know what to do, so he petted Fraser’s hair. It was thick and rumpled under his hand, like the fur of something wild. He was shaking a little. They were both shaking.

Fraser muttered something into Ray’s shoulder. Probably something stupid like I’m sorry. Ray wanted to tell him to shut up, wanted to make him some kind of promise. Wanted to say, what is this and whatever’s wrong, you just tell me, and I will beat it to death with my bare hands and I should’ve never gotten you up. “Shh,” he said, instead. And dropped a kiss on Fraser’s forehead.

And then, because he didn’t know what to do, because his head was in outer space, because Fraser was his best friend and Ray had never once in his life learned how not to be in love with his best friend, and after today there was just no denying it – because all of that, and because he wanted to, he kissed Fraser on the lips.

It was good. It was easy. It felt like something he did all the time. And then Fraser’s breath hitched, and Ray pulled away and saw his eyes, wide in the darkness –

And fuck, fuck, fuckityfuckfuck.

Ray started to stutter out about twenty kinds of sorry. Something was shifting in Fraser’s face. “I, uh,” said Ray, his stomach flipping. But Fraser still hadn’t let go of his arm. So Ray leaned in again – what, god, what was he doing? – and Fraser met his lips this time.

Fraser’s mouth was hot and hesitant and so, so sweet; his lips were just a little bit chapped, just so they dragged a little against Ray’s. And this was good, this – Ray work with this, because kissing was one language he was pretty fluent in. He tried to slow down his own beating heart, and make his kisses say all the right things, like it’s okay and I’m here. Tried not to be pushy. Fraser kept opening and closing his eyes, like he couldn’t believe what he was seeing, but he kept needing to see more of it, and then somehow without ever having made the decision to move Ray was straddling Fraser’s thighs, and Fraser’s hand was starting to drift up underneath Ray’s shirt, his fingertips dragging up Ray’s back and –

That was when it all went nuts. Because Ray gasped into Fraser’s mouth, and Fraser grabbed Ray’s hips and yanked him forward, and then he was holding Ray’s head in both hands, keeping it still, keeping it right where Fraser wanted it.

“Wait a second,” Ray tried, and totally failed, to say. Fraser nipped his lip, and Ray tasted iron and wanted to rub up against him and to squirm away at the same time, and so he sort of did both. Fraser made a frustrated noise which went directly to Ray’s cock, and hooked one hand down behind Ray’s knee, and …whumph.

Okay, so now Ray was flat on his back on the sofa. And Fraser was between his legs.

Holy, holy shit.

“Fraser,” he tried to get his tongue coordinated for non-kissing purposes. “Fraser, Fraser. Fraser!”

Fraser pulled away about half an inch. “Yes, Ray?” he said, in a completely reasonable tone. Ray shivered all over. Fraser’s eyes went, impossibly, even darker, and he went in for another kiss.

“Whoa, hey, stop,” said Ray. Fraser stopped. “You – you sure you want to do this?”

“Yes, Ray,” said Fraser patiently, his eyes fixed on Ray’s mouth, and his hips shifting, grinding. Ray did not feel reassured. Other stuff. Not reassured.

He wriggled again, and said, “No, but. I mean, uh.” One of Ray’s hands managed to detach from clutching at Fraser’s side, and he waved it around. “This. Bad idea.” He pushed at Fraser’s shoulder, and Fraser backed off slowly, reluctantly.

“Ray,” he said, and licked his lips. Ray kind of wanted to kick himself in the head.

“Because, see. You’re upset. Tired. I’m tired. We should, we should sleep.” Fraser sat back on his heels, frowning. Ray felt cold, where they had been pressed together. He struggled up to his elbows. “You, you go back to your room. I can sleep here.” He thumped one of the throw pillows in illustration. It fell off onto the floor.

Fraser was – it was like he was folding himself away, buttoning himself up, even though all he was doing was shifting his weight back, away from Ray. “Yes,” he said. “Of course. I – understand.”

“Because,” said Ray, helplessly, “we’re not thinking straight. And we’re, I wouldn’t want to do anything - ”

Fraser stood, and Ray not to let his eyes drop to a certain point where the long-johns were just really not hiding what they should be hiding. Also, a couple of buttons were open, and Fraser’s hair was all messy, and Ray squeezed his eyes closed, because he could not look at that.

“It’s all right, Ray,” said Fraser, and his voice was soft. Ray’s heart twisted inside his chest. He kept his eyes shut and heard Fraser’s footsteps shifting, turning, walking away. He felt like he’d gone blind and gotten super hearing powers, because every step vibrated inside of him, until the click of Fraser’s office door closing.

Ray pressed the heel of his hand against his dick and hated himself. After a few seconds, he gave up and sprang to his feet to pace. Walk it off. His tea mug was still on the floor, he saw, and Fraser’s had gotten knocked over. He could clean that up: that would be a thing he could do. And then maybe go into the bathroom and beat off – except no, impossible, bathroom was broken. Also, wolf, Chinese tourists, Turnbull’s cardboard box. Ray rubbed his temples.

The thing was, Fraser had said it was all right, but he had not sounded all right. That had not been an all right tone of voice. And it was fine to say, I will be a gentleman and not take advantage of your fragile emotional state – that seemed like something Fraser would approve of Ray saying. Except Ray still didn’t understand what the fragile emotions were about. He had no idea, and Fraser had been cracked wide open, hurting. Ray just couldn’t help feeling like he’d done the wrong thing. Once again, for the millionth time today, the wrong thing.

He couldn’t leave well enough alone. And he couldn’t leave Fraser alone.

Maybe Fraser wouldn’t answer the door, he thought as he was drawn towards it. Maybe Fraser was already lying down and tucked in, angry with Ray or just tired and not wanting to open up again. And Ray would knock, and wait, and then go away back to the sofa, and that would be it.

He raised his hand to knock. The door cracked open.

---

Ray’s back hit the doorjamb: Ben could feel the impact shuddering through his body, under his hands. There was only a faint strip of light coming through the door, but Ray was luminous. He closed the distance again, nuzzling Ray’s jaw, the side of his neck, prickly against Ben’s flushed cheek, savory under his tongue. Pulse point, and Ray was gasping: Ben bit down, gently.

Ray was writhing, trying to get his hands between them – why? – unbuttoning Ben’s buttons. Wonderful, clever Ray. Ben tried to help, and caught one of Ray’s hands accidentally, and oh, Ray’s hands. He carried it to his lips, kissed the open palm, tasted the skin.

Ray groaned, and pushed back, shoving Ben against something – file boxes containing paperwork and forms which shifted and gave against his shoulders. A dangerous joy made him want to shove them back further, let them all fall, spilling their tedious contents. He was here again, where he’d thought he never could be again: his head spinning, his heart pounding out of his chest with hope and gratitude. But it was right this time, he insisted to himself. This was Ray, Ray Kowalski. He’d never – never let himself imagine this as a possibility, but it was, it was possible, it was happening, and there was no reason to feel guilt or shame this time.

He pulled at Ray’s shirt (his shirt, on Ray), wanting it off, wanting contact. His hands found the lower edge of the t-shirt, and the hot smooth skin beneath. He drew his blunt nails across Ray’s back, up and over his ribs. Ray leaned back yanked his own shirt off, nearly clipping Ben’s ear. Arms settled over Ben’s shoulders, wiry and strong, and Ray whispered, “What – what d’you want…?”

A good question, a terrifying question. When he was with – well, if he were with a woman, never mind her name, there would have been a known sequence to follow. Ben captured Ray’s mouth again in an effort not to have to think about it. Not to have to talk, not when they could be pressing their hips together instead, stealing breath from each other’s lips. He could feel the heat and pressure of Ray’s erection at the join of his hip and thigh, close to his own: he wanted it, wanted to cradle it in his hand, his mouth, wanted the slow grind of it exactly where it was right now.

“Let’s get you out of this,” said Ray into his ear, tugging at the shoulders of Ben’s union suit. And yes, that – that was a good idea, excellent; together they opened the buttons, yanking and letting the fabric fall. Ray’s shorts came off, too – Ben felt the scrape of Ray’s thigh against his own, stepping out of them. The deliberateness of it, the intent, the soft sound of the clothes hitting the floor was overwhelming: he walked Ray back one step, two, till he hit the edge of Ben’s desk. And then they were kissing again, deeply, deeply. Fraser’s hands came up to cover Ray’s where they were clenched against the desk.

Ray drew in a ragged breath. “Have you got anything?” Ben leaned over, fumbled in a drawer before bringing out a plastic bottle and pressing it wordlessly into Ray’s palm. Ray took it, teeth tugging at Ben’s lower lip as he unscrewed the lid. Then paused. “What is this stuff?” he whispered, rubbing a little between his fingers, brushing his wrist against their bellies.

“Neatsfoot oil.”

“What the hell is a neat?” he demanded, then, huffing a laugh as Ben opened his mouth to explain, said, “Don’t tell me, not important, don’t wanna know.” He slipped his hand down, a little tentatively, and took hold of Ben. Slick, warm. Ben trembled, and ran his hands down Ray’s back from his shoulderblades to the small of his back, and then below. Ray hummed approval.

“What do you want?” he asked again, stroking gently. Ben moaned and bit his shoulder. “C’mon, say it. Tell me.”

“I ….” said Ben, then rocked to the side, turned them so that he was the one perched up against the desk. He guided Ray’s hand back. Ray sucked in a breath.

“You sure? We don’t…we don’t have to…”

“I want to,” he said with growing certainty. “Do you know…?”

“Yeah,” said Ray. “Yeah, I know how.”

Hands stroking under his thighs, bringing them up. Ray’s long fingers moving. It was uncomfortable, it burned, it didn’t matter. It was so good. Ray’s fingers were inside of him, touching; they went deep and there was a field of stars in Ben’s eyes, and he was sweating, shaking. “God, Fraser, you –“

He pulled Ray against him, into him. It was difficult. The ache of it throbbed in his tongue, his teeth. He wanted to bite.

“Is this what you want?” Ray said into his ear, half angry, half pleading, filthy. “I’ll give you anything you want, you know that. Anything. What do you want from me?”

---

Morning light was creeping in somehow. Ray hadn’t thought he’d slept, but something had shifted – the room was brighter than it was. And so much for Mounties being up with the sun, because Fraser was still out, zonked, down for the count. Apparently Ray’s stomach was some kind of amazing ergonomic pillow.

He studied Fraser, craning his neck uncomfortably to see. Fraser’s hair had gotten kind of curly in the night. Ray’s fingertips hovered for a moment above his eyelids, the shape of his mouth, before letting his head and his hand fall back down.

The light was turning the room back into someplace familiar, the place where Fraser did paperwork and stored files. The place where Ray and Fraser split deli sandwiches and ate potato chips on the days when Fraser had to work through lunch. Up on the wall, the Queen of England looked down on a whole bunch of knocked-over papers and spilled boxes. The Queen had watched him and Fraser doing the midnight mambo. Ray didn’t know how to feel about that.

He didn’t know how he felt. Kind of peaceful, right now, although he didn’t know how long that would last. Bruised all over, in places he didn’t know he had places. Peaceful and bruised?

There was a whuffling sound, a scrape of nails at the door, and Dief poked his muzzle in. Apparently they hadn’t ever closed the door all the way last night. Ha ha ha whoops oh god. Dief sneezed, then gave Ray an old-fashioned look. Ray had to admit, the room kind of looked like a hurricane had blown through.

Eye of the storm, now, maybe. Ray’s stomach was starting to twist in anticipation of the morning ahead; he’d better get up, find his clothes. Wake Fraser up. Fraser being up was the most important thing. This did not make the prospect any easier.

Ray shut his eyes. He wanted just one more second of weightlessness and weird Canadian safety. One more second of being away from all the questions he was going to have to ask and answer.

Shutting his eyes didn’t really work. He could still see the daylight burning through.