For Elisabeth, just because.
Insomnia is worse hell for an impatient man. The hours before
dawn stretch out like years. Some have names, the midnight and
the witching and the wee hours. Some don't. Those are the ones
that truly suck. Though Ray Kowalski knows better, the silence
in his bedroom is so pervasive, so palpable, it seems that
everyone in the city must be asleep and dreaming. And if they
are awake... at least they're not alone.
Ray is alone, and his bed is too big. The night is like an
empty room and the hours are like the streets in dreams that
fold and twist and turn back on themselves. There are no maps
to tell you how to get through these hours, which is why, not
knowing why, Ray rolls out of bed.
Usually when he can't sleep and there's no one to get lost in
bed with, Ray fills the hours by dancing. All good girls and
boys may be asleep, but somewhere in the city there's always a
beat for bad boys and girls to get down to. Mostly he dances alone, though,
at home. Company may not be as good, but the music's sure as hell better.
Ray kicks the rug back. CD cases click sharply against each other. Dancing
to music you love is a little bit like dancing with someone you
love, but tonight somehow that's just not doing it for Ray. Tucking his
sleep-worn T-shirt into the waist of yesterday's jeans, he gets the hell
Sliding into the front seat of the sable GTO, Ray does mean to
go dancing. But halfway to somewhere he looks down, fooling with the
radio, trying to find something that doesn't bite, and on public radio
some torch singer that sounds like Ella Fitzgerald, all dreams and teasing,
is crooning "Sugar Blues." One of the classics.
you can say what you choose
but i'm all confused
i've got the sweet sweet sugar blues
The streets twist and fold and bend. Ray taps his hands on the
steering wheel, lets the song carry him, and the next clear
thing, he's swinging into an empty parking spot in front of the
Consulate. The GTO's engine mutters as it idles.
i've got the sugar blues
Ray starts in his seat, and turns the car off. The radio dies.
The Consulate is dark but Ray thinks he saw light behind the
windowshade in Fraser's office. The night outside the GTO is
bitter cold. There hasn't been snow yet this winter but it's
there, in the air. It's waiting. Ray is up to the door, hand
fisted to knock before he realizes he's got no good reason to
roust Fraser out of bed-- or whatever-- in the middle of the
night. The door swings open before he can think of one, or
decide not to knock.
Fraser's wearing dark jeans, dark deep blue the way denim only
is when it's new, and a deep brown sweater with the sleeves
shoved up above his elbows. He pushes a wayward half-curl
of hair off his forehead, and blinks curiously at Ray, who
suddenly feels awake, more awake than he's felt in days. He
doesn't analyze the way his spirit suddenly lifts; it's pure
reflex, almost Pavlovian. He goes with it.
Funny how Fraser doesn't even look tired, Ray thinks with the
internal freewheeling whimsy of a sleepless brain. The Mountie's eyes
are lucid, bright, no bags underneath them, not even those
little lines that show when he's worried or determined.
"Hey, Frase. What the hell ya doin' awake this time of night?"
Ray slaps Fraser's shoulder, stepping over the threshhold. Home
and the Canadian Consulate-- the two places that, when you go
there, they gotta take you in. A rush has started at the soles
of his feet, shooting up to the roots of his hair with a tingle
like the best sugar rush ever. His heart jitters, hurts a little, like
he's had a couple too many coffees. Still, it's the best thing Ray's
felt all day and all this long night. He doesn't resist it; the thought
never even occurs to him. It's too good.
"I could ask you the same question," Fraser replies, but there's a smile
in his voice, cordial and welcoming. Ray walks further in. There's wavering
light spilling from Fraser's doorway, like he's got an oil lamp in there,
something with a flame. He turns back to watch Fraser lock up, and notices
that the Mountie is barefoot.
Something low in his gut does that same jittery thing as his heart.
"No you couldn't-- you wouldn't say 'hell.'" he responds.
Suddenly everything inside him is curled in a tight coil,
waiting. "An' besides that, it wouldn't do ya no good, as
I wouldn't have an answer."
Fraser raises an eyebrow and turns, coming closer. Abruptly the
hall seems all too dark. Half-blind as a beetle already, to Ray
this dim vaulted space seems to lack coherence at the convergence of
ceiling, wall and floor. Where corners ought to be are mere
puddled shadows, black as ink. Fraser's bare feet make no sound
on the Consulate's lush carpets as he comes closer. "Oh?"
"Nope. Not a clue." Ray informs him. He parks himself against the desk
at the foot of the stairs. Crossing his ankles, he jams his hands into
his pockets and shrugs. "Just couldn't sleep."
"Maybe." Insomnia. The other sugar blues, the ones Ella forgot
to tell you about. Yeah, it's gotta be the insomnia, thinks Ray. He's
noticing things that have been there, maybe, in the daytime; he just
wouldn't have noticed before with other people around,
other things going on, a case or a quest to hold his attention.
The only question now is: what's he gonna do about it.
One of the sleeves of Fraser's sweater is slipping down over
his elbow. He pushes it back up, adjusting it with the same
care he uses to get his Stetson set just right. "Perhaps you
should consider decreasing your caffeine and refined sugar intake."
"Perhaps I didn't come here to get a dietician's advice." Ray
holds up his hand in warning. This isn't the time for small-
talk, Canadian-style or otherwise. "Fraser--" He closes his
eyes for a long couple of seconds. He's never been a coward.
Been a liar, a fake, but never a coward. "Tell me somethin'."
Fraser tilts his head slightly. "Yes?"
"I can't sleep, and..." the night is so fucking long. Ray takes
a breath. "Sometimes it seems like no one ever gets
anywhere-- like I ain't gettin' nowhere. I mean, day in, day out,
we move, we go, we punch the clock, we're always movin',
but... maybe that just distracts us, you know?" He scowls down
at his boots. "Maybe it just keeps us from seein' things."
Fraser blinks, silent for a moment, and then he moves, turning
to lean against the desk, next to Ray. He purses his lips
slightly, glancing sideways. "Such as?"
"Don't know." Ray exhales. "I mean, we move. But maybe we're
never gettin' anywhere." Like dancing. "Like that." He sighs,
offering Fraser a wry, apologetic smile. "Middle of the night,
you come up with this crazy stuff... I don't know."
Fraser nods and his eyes go a little distant. Ray can't
help but smile a little at the sight; it never fails. Sure,
what the Mountie comes up with may be 'did I ever tell you
about my Dad and the three-legged elk,' but what the hell.
Effort counts with Ray.
When Fraser finally looks up, lips already slightly parted to
dispense some of that northern wisdom, he is obviously nonplussed by
Ray's amusement. Ray raises his eyebrows, waiting, and sure
enough Fraser doesn't disappoint. "Zeno of Elea was a Greek
mathematician in the 5th century B.C., a student of Parmenides." Fraser
says. "He was mainly known for his paradoxes of endlessness."
"Endlessness." Ray echoes.
Fraser nods. "For example: when you got in your car to drive to
the Consulate tonight, you first had to get halfway. Then you
had to travel half the remaining distance, then half the distance that
still remained. One can divide space an infinite number of
times, which Zeno took as proof that motion is illusion."
"No one ever gets anywhere." Ray summarizes. Simple, but it
makes sense. Divide distance enough and you're barely moving,
all effort and energy expended in order to batter through
smaller and smaller half-slices of space. It's a depressing
"It's a function of logic." Fraser lifts one shoulder, drops
it precisely; it's far too neat a movement to be called a
"Like the whatsit, the... theory. Theorem. Godel's theorem." Ray chafes
his hands together, like he always does when he remembers the Henry Allen.
He'd never been so cold.
"Yes." Fraser opens his mouth as if to speak, closes it. Tries
again. "I thought it might perhaps be comforting to know
"Others, I am not the first," mutters Ray just to fill the
space. It's the first line of some poem-- something from
fifteen years ago, Mrs. Dalton's English class-- and of course
he's forgotten every other line not to mention who wrote it but
the rhythm, the pulse of it stuck in his head. Good beat, you
can dance to it.
Fraser glances at him, a little startled. "Yes."
"Yeah." Ray mutters. Others-I-am-not-the-first, have... done
something. Felt something. Some fucking thing. "Like us."
"Pardon?" Fraser looks up, and Ray puts his weight on his feet
again, pushing himself forward and away from the desk. He
feels more than a little off-balance.
"It's like us." he insists, and strikes off down the hallway,
hands flailing in the darkness, boots scuffing on carpet.
"Partners is halfway, friends is halfway again." He reaches
the door and wheels back. He feels like he's in the ring for
some reason. "Right now, right here is another halfway,
Fraser," and his momentum carries him right into Fraser's
space, and the Mountie stares up at him, and then his eyes
"You can't guess why I'm here?" Ray says, his shoulders
hunched forward, his neck thrust out. "You got no idea?"
Fraser's mouth is open, his eyes are wide. It's not a full-
blown gape but it's close.
Ray swallows hard, and reaches up, bringing his hand close to
Fraser's face. He's near but not touching; he can only go halfway. Zeno
maybe didn't mean his paradox like this, but you can only
ever go halfway. No matter how much you love someone you can't
make up for their lack. It doesn't seem like it should be true,
but there it is. The Stella paradox, maybe.
Ray's hand hangs halfway in space, and Fraser stares. And then,
just when he's beginning to think that maybe this was a
mistake, just like the last time he raised his hand to Fraser
but maybe worse-- (you fucking idiot Stanley Ray worse)
Fraser's head turns, slowly. His eyes are closed as he angles
his face into Ray's touch. His face is cool, then warm.
Slowly, Ray draws the back of one finger over Fraser's cheek.
It's only the lightest touch, a test, but Fraser's reaction is
wild. A small, hoarse noise escapes his throat, and he chokes
the rest down, shoulders tensing, shuddering. What a trip;
he's getting more of a rise out of Fraser with this than the
time he lost it, socked him. Ray wasn't thinking too clearly
back then but he remembers wanting something, so desperately.
Connection. The wrong kind, or maybe just the wrong way.
This is better. Shit scary but better. Fraser's eyes are
closed. Ray's heart is jackhammering, and he wants to close
his eyes too, wants it bad, wants--
His hands are holding Fraser's face, keeping their mouths
matched as their bodies jerk, drawn almost magnetically to
each other. Fraser's mouth is warm and his grip is iron, one
hand on the small of Ray's back drawing him so close he can
hardly breathe right. The Mountie is hard, his body muscled
beneath that deceptively soft-looking sweater, and he pushes
Ray back against the desk hard and steps between his legs and
oh yeah, he's hard where it counts, too.
Fraser's other hand slides down to grab his ass. Ray gasps and
Fraser swallows the gasp. His fingers are splayed as if to
touch as much of Ray as he can, and each applies bruising
The Mountie's kisses are hungry, plundering-- Ray usually kisses like
he dances, careful at first, getting-to-know-you type kisses that set
some kind of a rhythm-- now it's all he can do to breathe, burn, kiss,
hot, breathe and then suddenly it's over. Fraser's two steps away and
their only point of contact is his outstretched fingers, trembling against
Ray's shoulder, like that's the only thing keeping him from falling back
into the fire.
"Uh." Ray gasps, getting back a few of those missing breaths.
He checks in with his brain briefly. Worth getting out of bed
for? Worth losing sleep over? Worth doing again? Yes, yes, and
oh hell yes. He leans back against the desk, shaking a little.
Fraser drops his head and shakes it like he has water in his
ears. "Ray-- I--"
Ray reaches up and puts three fingers over the Mountie's
mouth. He chews at his own lower lip consideringly. Words have
been, he knows, and words will be again. This is not the time,
though. Not now.
He pulls his hand away a little, holds it palm up. Not
reaching for anything this time, just showing Fraser that it's
there. Fraser studies his face for a long moment and Ray looks
down, away from that sudden scrutiny. Fraser already knows
everything about him he'll ever need to know. He just watches
as Fraser's hand lifts, curls into his.
He holds Fraser's hand. This touch, this grip is familiar, to
both of them. It settles Ray a little, and when he looks up into Fraser's
eyes he sees it's settled something for the Mountie as
Carefully, slowly, Fraser leans close and kisses him, chaste
and gentle. Ray's already abused lips tingle. It's nice. It's
sweet, is what it is. Ray smiles against Fraser's mouth, can't
help it. Before tonight, what with being a caffiene fiend and
hooked on sugar, he had addictions enough for one man. Looks
he's just going to have to deal with being a Fraser junkie,
"Couldn't sleep," Ray murmurs. Some rooms, he's realizing, are
not empty. Only unexplored. "There was this song on the radio.
And... we were already halfway there."
"Yes." Fraser's fingers spider curiously across Ray's temple,
through his hair. "I suppose we were."
Ray leans in for another of those nice slow kisses. God, the
Mountie's mouth is sweet. Well? So what's another addiction? Coffee and
sugar may be bad for Ray, but they haven't been so bad to him.
After all, so what if they keep him up at night?
"Ray," Fraser gasps.
There's lots of things to do at night. Oh, yeah. Ray smiles,
licks at Fraser's earlobe, thinking of all those empty hours,
those bitter nights dark as black coffee, just waiting for
maybe, just maybe... the night may not be long enough.
Author's note: 'Sweetness' is my first
DS story that's anywhere near full length,
so I'd really appreciate feedback at
Constructive criticism is welcomed, as are pats on the
head and scritches behind the ears.
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