You Zig and Then You Zag by Lucifuge5

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Title: You Zig and Then You Zag
For:
Caersmane
Pairing/Characters:
Fraser/Kowalski
Warnings: 
AU. Rated R for language.
Vidder's/Author's/Artist's Notes:
I am BEYOND grateful to my Betas Exbex, Malnpudl and Verushka70 for the fabulous concrit and fierce cheerleading that kept me going even when I'd go /o\. *g* Any remaining mistakes are entirely my own.

Caersmane, I hope you dig this fic!




Catch the bad guys, save the day and ride off into the sunset. End of story, right?

 

Nah. Nothing is ever that simple.

 

For a couple of Level-3 Covert Operatives like Fraser and me, bringing down a triple Agent like Holloway Muldoon meant having to come up with Plans B, C and Z  if we wanted to keep breathing. No one had any idea of how much money had exchanged hands, but everyone knows that someone who had been active for more than thirty years can sometimes have liquid assets estimated in millions. Muldoon's very short but sure to be volatile list of clients would be looking for all that dough in lieu of one nuclear submarine that never made its final destination, never mind sending their own Operatives to take him down before he could even say boo. Didn't matter really, since the Agency would make sure he wouldn't be talking for a long time.

 

I was standing far away from the recaptured sub, the ice under my feet groaning, while I searched for an uncompromised signal on my satphone. Dief was poised near the opening of the mine Fraser and Muldoon had fallen into. His whole body was on high alert, white fur raised as if by static. Like him, I was ready to jump in if things got hinky. Backing Fraser up trumped Agency protocol every time.

 

Fraser looked paler than the snow beneath us when he got out of the cave and handed Muldoon over to the Mounties. We nodded at each other as I listened to the long-short beeping sequence that established the connection to a secure line. His face was like polished marble, which told me a lot about how tight a leash he had on his anger. I didn't know or care what was going to happen to the submarine. All that mattered was giving our recon and getting the hell out of Dodge.

 

It's not as if either of us was going to make the news. A made spy is a dead spy.

 

I began to pace until a woman's cheerful voice came on the phone. "Good morning, Transatlantic Incorporated. How may I direct your call?"

 

"TomatoZ14SA."

 

I had barely finished giving my ID when the voice turned cold, almost mechanical. "Status?"

 

"Completed."

 

"One moment please." I was placed on hold long enough to listen to the better half of "Wind Beneath My Wings". Whoever it was that uploaded this music should be shot. The song cut short just as Bette Midler was reaching her peak.

 

A grunt echoed in the receiver. "Vecchio."

 

"It's in the bag," I said as I tracked Fraser's movements. I eased into autopilot, years of debriefing experience making my tongue roll, while something like a block of ice dropped in my gut. This whole thing was too close to Fraser. Something like this could break him.

 

Fraser finished talking to a nervous looking Mountie and started walking towards me, Dief at his heels looking every bit like a wolf protecting a pack member.

 

It was unusual, but seeing how well Fraser and I worked as partners during the Aruba assignment, we shared the same handler. Cost-effective, they said. To me that sounded more like no one else would put up with the likes of the two of you. "Later, Vecchio." I ended the call and turned all the way to face him. "So, Frase, the world is safe once again. We're still breathing and have earned some heavy down time. What now?"

 

He ran a thumbnail against his left eyebrow. "I don't really know, Ray." Something in his tone of voice made me think of a kid lost in the woods. That block of ice in my stomach? It was starting to grow into an iceberg.

 

"Hey." I stepped close to him and placed my hand on his shoulder, squeezing it as hard as I could so that he could feel it, feel me, underneath all the layers. "How about this: we camp with the redcoats tonight," I said as I jerked my head towards the Mounties, "and tomorrow we go looking for that Franklin dude you've been flapping your chops about ever since we jumped on that plane."

 

There was a hint of a smile on Fraser's face, just like I'd hoped. "Sounds like a sensible plan, Ray."

 

I pressed hard one more time before I released him. "Let's get going then. My stomach's howling for some Bambi stew."

 

Between you and me, I never expected Fraser to consider my suggestion to go on an actual trek through Freezerland seriously. Should have known better really. Fraser wasted no time in getting gear, provisions and an honest-to-goodness sled by the following afternoon.

 

Next thing I knew, we were on a hill top, Fraser had stopped saluting Frobisher and had begun yelling orders at the dogs.  I made my hands into tight fists, fighting against the instinct to scream when my stomach plummeted to my feet, cold wind making me squint as we went down that first mountain. The adventure had officially begun.

 

Questing was hard work, even with Benton "Ray, please don't call me Nanook" Fraser keeping us from becoming permanent popsicles. Between prepping camp, breaking it down, hunting for food--which turned out to be a good way to keep my gun reflexes sharp--and trying to survive our trek through the Arctic, an unfamiliar kind of peace began to settle around us.

 

The romantic in me would say that it happened because all we had to lean on was each other. If the idea was to keep as far away from civilization as possible, I gotta say we were doing a stupendous job. I think a month went by before we saw another human being.

 

*****

 

I don't remember wanting to be a spy or playing cops and robbers as a kid. My parents dreamed of me becoming a doctor although they never told me exactly what was so appealing, other than the money, about having your hands deep in other people's guts day in and day out.

 

It wasn't until my second year in college, struggling to keep a grade point average decent enough to be able to enter medical school, when my life changed. I was trying to make heads and tails of some chemistry notes when a tall guy, almost as young as me, knocked on the door.

 

"Sorry, buddy, but I've got a killer chem test in about," I looked at my watch and winced, "four hours. Room's rented til 3."

 

He walked into the room, closed the door behind him and offered me a card for what looked like an import-export company. "We've been keeping our eye on you. My name is Turnbull," he said, maybe wanting to sound kinda dangerous I guess but totally failing. He had an eager-to-please expression on his face that didn't jibe with whatever it was he was saying.

 

"We have, have we?" I looked at the simple business card and flipped it back to him. "Sorry, not interested."

 

"But you're not going to be a doctor." He raised an eyebrow. "You've never wanted to be one."

 

The hairs on the back of my neck stood up. "Is that a fact?"

 

"The probability that you will carry a successful career in medicine is about 3," Turnbull squinted at me, "maybe 4.5 percent at best." He gave me a quick smile before handing me the card back. "Be at that address ten a.m. sharp. You won't be disappointed." At that, he stood up and left the room.

 

I studied the card.

 

*****

 

Fraser grew more relaxed as the days went on. That guarded look he carried around in Chicago--the super-spy mask--fizzled out and went the way of the dodo. He smiled more too: at the dogs' collective snore after a day of hard travel, at the way I cursed every time it was time to get up and at the way I liked to pack my stuff. Dief was actually romping whenever he wasn't hitched onto the sled. I think he liked to play the top dog with the other mutts. As for me, I was a little too over my head, that first week out in the snow, to do more than snark in between checking paws and melting snow for coffee. But I returned every single one of Fraser's smiles and gave him some of my own.

 

I never intended to coast my way through the Arctic, though. I think Fraser knew it, too, 'cause it wasn't long before he was teaching me about caring for the dogs, reading the snow and setting up our tent, singular.

 

We were digging into our dinner one night, sitting side by side in our parkas as the fire kept us from freezing up completely. Fraser gulped his tea in one take and set the empty cup on the snow between his feet.

 

"I didn't know if I was going to make it." He was staring at the fire as if he was expecting answers.

 

"You mean back at the cave? Muldoon and all that business?"

 

Fraser nodded.

 

I studied his profile: the hard line of his mouth in contrast to the golden reflection of the fire on his pale skin. "You didn't want to come back alive. You wanted to kill Muldoon or get killed by him."

 

Fraser gave me a sideways glance. "I--I'm not sure, Ray." He sighed. "I haven't been sure in a long time." He got up and began to clean the camp before turning in. I picked up my cup of tea and stared at the night sky. Everything got really cold after a while, so I went inside the tent and started the very annoying (because it involved undressing in the fucking Arctic) but necessary (dry socks in the morning meant no Fraser-nagging) task of getting ready for bed.

 

Fraser was sitting on his side of the tent, cross-legged Indian style, with a map on his lap and a notebook by his side. Every so often, he would lick his lips as he made some Fraser-math calculation on the paper only to erase it and start from the beginning.

 

I waited until I was relatively warmer, meaning in the sleeping bag wearing my thermals and two pairs of socks, to start talking. "You know, when I was ten, there was nothing more that I liked to do than to play with my toy soldiers."

 

"Hmm," was all he said as he studied the map.

 

"My friends and I had wars that took all freaking afternoon to stage." I put my hands under my head and closed my eyes as I thought back to that particular summer. "There was a kid called Mike who would wait 'til my friends and I were almost done with placing the soldiers behind bushes and small rocks, and then steal them and do stupid shit to them."

 

The scratch-scratch of pencil on paper stopped. "Ray?"

 

"Like throwing them in the sewer or run them over with his bike. He was one of my brother Robbie's friends, so he got a pass on messing with my soldiers far longer than it was logical. Anyways," I opened my eyes and turned to my side until I could return Fraser's look, "one day, I just had enough. It wasn't fair that this dude kept stirring the shit and getting away with it, you know? So, I got in his face, like I usually did. This day though, Mike must have had a tall drink of crazy 'cause he pushed me into the street and I nearly got run over. My mom and his mom saw everything and that's the last I saw of him. According to Robbie, Mike spent the rest of the summer having the least amount of fun being grounded while my friends and I kicked it all over town."

 

Fraser wrinkled his forehead while he worked out what I was saying. "Ah."

 

I clucked my tongue and lay on my back once more. "Sure I felt vinced--um, vendi--"

 

"You mean vindicated?" Just like that, Fraser broke out his inner dictionary.

 

"Um, yeah, 'cause I had gotten my payback and all that." I burrowed deep into my sleeping bag. "That didn't last long though." I yawned. "Sometimes, revenge can be an empty win."

 

*****

 

When I was first recruited into the Agency, after taking enough psych and physical tests to last a lifetime, I was 'warned' about Fraser. Everyone from Turnbull, my first handler, to fellow selectees like the Duck Boys gave me some advice on how being partnered with Fraser meant getting a target tattooed on your forehead. Huey corned me in the locker room, Gardino trailing him, one afternoon after the hand-to-hand combat class. "He'll set things up in such a way that making it out alive will be like playing Russian roulette."

 

I cocked my head to the side. Unlike the Duck Boys, I figure I probably aced the psych stats. "You mean Fraser's his own dog or that he's up to the rim in attitude?"

 

Both Huey and Gardino began to shake their heads. "It don't matter what you want to call it. All I know is that his partners don't last. Smithbauer, who just joined the Elite squad, by the way, requested a transfer before the end of his first month with him."

 

"If he's such a liability, why would he be kept around?" I crossed my arms and stared at the both of them.

 

Gardino raised an eyebrow. "Maybe he just knows too much."

 

I rolled my eyes and opened my locker. "I think you guys have watched too many movies."

 

*****

 

By the third night, we had gotten into the habit of offering up another piece of our past to each other. The most dangerous thing in any spy's life is for someone to know all of your secrets. It's not that I didn't trust Fraser or vice versa. We had saved each other's lives way too many times to count. But your heart and your history outside of the Agency are the most lethal weapons of all.

 

In any case, Fraser and I were sharing one of the few precious chocolate bars in our provisions one night after having dinner when he spoke up.

 

"I've lost more than my parents, you know." He snapped another milk chocolate square and popped it in his mouth.

 

I let that roll around in my head until it could make sense. "What was her name?" Fraser might be a master when it came to double-speak, but Vecchio always said that I ran rings around anyone when it came to lateral-thinking.

 

He made a face like he was chewing the bitterest and darkest of chocolates. "Victoria."

 

Something in my gut tightened the way it does when I'm in the middle of a fight. "Was she in--"

 

He wrapped the remaining chocolate and put it in one of his pockets. "Wetworks."

 

My eyebrows jumped up at that. That was the one department that allowed so-called rehabilitated rogues. It was, not surprisingly, the department with the highest burnout rate in the entire Agency: something like ninety-eight percent. I had heard rumors--from Vecchio himself back when he told me about the possibility of Fraser and me becoming a team-- about the one time Fraser almost went rogue, but Vecchio's intel didn't jibe with the Fraser I knew. "Hmm, before my time then."

 

He shrugged and something about it just about ticked me off. Mostly because I could almost feel him curling up, withdrawing into himself and I wasn't about to stand by while he did that. So, I stretched my right arm out and pulled him toward me, grounding him. It might not have looked as suave as I would have wanted (we had too much clothing on) nor did it feel particularly buddies-only. But I soon felt Fraser give into the hug, practically lean his full weight into me, and relax.

 

Once we turned in, I stared at the darkness--for out in the Arctic, nighttime takes a whole new meaning--thinking that Fraser should have carte blanche to run away, if only for a little while.

 

*****

 

Fraser and I were among the few Operatives in the Retrieval department. Higher-than-normal risk, some crazy travel and shitty coffee--that's the bulk of it. The most basic description would be something like high-class bounty hunting with a little bit more leeway than in other departments. Both Fraser and I had full clearance (also known in the biz as the Bond clause, i.e. license to kill), but we'd never had to use it. "We aim to maim," I once told Fraser and followed that with a quick wink, as we made our way through a thick forest in Hungary. Apparently, Fraser's natural crazy and my instincts worked well enough for the Agency.

 

The fact that Fraser was a pog--plogy--could speak many languages helped us keep our goal rate at higher-than-average levels. Plus, Fraser's brand of pretty didn't hurt either. His charm ratio was something like 1,000 to 1 from the Panamanian jungle all the way to Siberia. About the only person who really didn't like him was my ex-wife, Stella.

 

"Don't you find him, I don't know, cold?" She sipped her coffee as we sat on the café that was far enough from both our jobs to be considered neutral territory.

 

I moved my head side to side as I thought about Fraser. "He's a freak, I'll give you that. But he's good enough to become Elite."

 

She narrowed her eyes at me. "You've been working with him, how long now?"

 

"Going on three years." I picked up a couple more of the sugar packets and ripped them open.

 

"And he's put you how close to dying?"

 

"In wild and bizarre ways?" I scratched my chin. "Too many times to count. Goes with the territory." I made a face as I stirred the sugar.

 

"Some said that it would be better for Fraser if he went into politics."

 

I snorted. "Thatcher should stop being sore about Fraser moving on from the redcoat fastrack. Wasn't meant to be."

 

Stella almost dropped her cup. "How did you--?"

 

"We all have eyes and ears, Stell. Best to leave it at that." It had taken years after the divorce for the two of us to become civil, let alone be friends, again. I took a sip of the coffee and then cocked my head to the side. "Now tell me, how's the UN these days?"

 

*****

 

So Fraser and I hung out on the frozen winterland past the point where the idea of Monday, Tuesday and the rest stopped making sense--enough time to decompress and lose the trail of anyone seeking payback. Spending all that time together wasn't that different from Chicago . . . for the most part. The only thing that really changed was how close our partnership got.

 

By something like the second week, I grew tired of pretending I didn't want to rub against his body like the most loving of cats. Fraser, who had had a strict policy of not dating co-workers after that whole Victoria mess, got over that and ended up kissing me awake early one morning. We both had morning breath and scratchy beards, we might have even been stinking to high heaven, but we were soon both feeling breathless and yet so very alive as we continued kissing. Some part of me even thought I was still asleep until I felt a warm hand grabbing me through the sleep bag.

 

Everything felt like we were coming home.

 

I hadn't given myself to someone in a long time. When your job involves being in Kiev today and Maracaibo the next week, it's hard to fall for someone. Sex is not a problem. People are always looking to get naked and sweaty no matter the language. But love? That is rare.

 

We didn't get to knock boots 'til we came across a small town where we rented a room in the only hotel in town (with indoor plumbing, even) and rutted like snow bunnies until we were too raw, inside and out, to do more than make out like a couple of teenagers.

 

After dinner, I turned the TV on and managed to catch a showing of Singin' in the Rain almost from the very beginning. Fraser was out walking Dief. I slipped under the covers, wearing my boxer briefs and a thermal long sleeve t-shirt, as I hummed along with the songs.

 

The door creaked open and in walked Fraser followed by a grumbling Dief. I smiled at Fraser as he began to undress. "So how cold is it out there?"

 

Dief jumped onto the king-sized bed, settled down on a corner and zonked out. Fraser gave me a sideways smile as he slid his jeans off. "It's  . . . nippy." He folded his pants and placed them on a chair alongside most of his clothing.

 

I shuddered. In Fraserese that meant that it was beyond freezing for the likes of me. I opened my arms. "C'mere."

 

Fraser, wearing a dark green Henley and white boxers, pulled the covers off, pushed my legs apart and curled up against me. He pulled the bed sheets back on us and wiggled until he was comfy. He had grown up touch-hungry; not something many would pick up because of Fraser's extreme politeness. I didn't notice it until I saw him grow stiff like a statue when Grace from Accounting gave him a hug during the office holiday party two years back. But then, why would I, when he had always let me past whatever personal space he had?

 

I rubbed his belly as Gene Kelly splashed on the street. Soon a soft snore rumbled against my chest. Placing a soft kiss on Fraser's head, I slowed my hand down into a barely-there caress and began to think of the best way for the two of us to get out of the Agency for good. The trick was coming up with a plan that could keep us this side of showing up as rogues in the Agency's Directory. Something told me that Fraser wouldn't care whether we stayed in Canada or ended up in Nepal as long as we remained a duet. Me? I'd go anywhere Fraser was. With our combined luck of savvy (me) and freakdom (Fraser), chances were we didn't have to go anywhere.

 

Maybe it was time to call in a few favors though. I made a quick mental list of our shared contacts. Unlike me, Fraser leaned heavily on the side of logic which meant he could bitch and moan about our 'retirement' if I didn't give out some facts for him to work with.


Someone over at the local tv station must have been in love with Gene Kelly that night because no sooner had Singin's end credits finished rolling that An American in Paris began. I tightened my arms around Fraser, basking in the warmth that was coming off his body, and let the music wash over the two of us.



 

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22 Comments

I am madly in love with and deeply intrigued by this AU. Very cool. And props for Stella at the UN. \o/

I am now going to sit on my hands so they can't get all gimme-grabby about begging for a prequel/sequel/series in this AU, because that would be ungrateful and unCanadian. So I'm not doing that whole begging thing. Really. I'm not.

Thank you for the kind comments, Mal, as well as for all of your wonderful and encouraging feedback. *offers cookies*


. So I'm not doing that whole begging thing. Really. I'm not.

*winks* Uh-huh. Suuure, you're not. :)

I left a comment on this yesterday when I first read it - but that was before I figured out how to sign in, so it was anon and I still don't see it? :(

But I think you saw my squeeing over at ds_ssdiscussion, so you know how much I loved it.

:::hugs it and squeezes it and calls it FABOO::: &hearts

*beams* Thankies, Stars! I'm quite touched that you called You Zig and Then You Zag FABOO!!! Hee!

Also, yes, I *did* read and replied to your comment over at the dSSS Eljay comm. Like I said then, I'm not done with the Agencyverse stories. :)

exbex said:

\o/ so cool. Very much in-character, especially for an AU (an amazing AU, at that). Nicely done ;)

Awww, , I'm so very happy that you dug this story!

In truth, your fb was priceless. *offers brownies* Thank you for being such a fantastic Beta! :D

OMG I am not ignoring you :D I've just been so so busy and want to be able to sit down and read this without rushing. And I will comment after I've read it as well, but I want to say THANK YOU. You are amazing, and you wrote me a fic! And I love youuuuuuu! *spins you*

Thank you for the heads up. I'll admit I was feeling a little 'Oh, noes!' 'cause I didn't know if you had read the story already.

Anyhoo, like I said in my notes, I really hope you like this story, ! :)

Anonymous said:

Wonderful, characterizationally canonical, yet totally AU -- and all the DS characters, references and dialogue really make this impressive, without being overly long and/or overwhelming. Which of course begs for a sequel or prequel. Heh. Simply smashing.

Oh, Anon, are you trying to prompt me to tell a few more stories about the Agencyverse? *offers a cupcake for the not-quite-subtle way of prompting*

Thank you for your comment, Anon. :)

I love Ray's voice here - matter-of-fact and the quick pace of this story just moves you along. And it worked for me - I can totally see these two as Seekrit Agent Men.

Lovely job, mystery author!

I love Ray's voice here - matter-of-fact

I'm very happy you liked it, Aka!

Truthfully, I had been a leeetle worried that Agencyverse RayK would come across being somewhat 'less' like the dS, i.e. canon, RayK.

Thankies for reading and commenting!

This is a very interesting *twist* on the usual COtW fic!

Also: belly rub + cuddling = OTP!

Favourite line:

"Sometimes, revenge can be an empty win."

I liked the ambivalence in RayK's words. :)

And this is me commenting on my story as a way to throw off the scent (of this being my story) in case anyone was wondering who had written this (prior to the Big Reveal, obviously). *facepalms with embarrassment*

For the record, what I wrote in the comment above were some of my own notes after I had gotten my Betas' fb.

Oh, and this:

"Sometimes, revenge can be an empty win."

*is* my favourite line in all of the story.

This is exceedingly cool! \o/

Thankies, Mergatrude! I'm glad you liked it! :)

Azamiko said:

Cool AU. ^^ I wish we'd seen their first meeting...

Why, thank you, Azamiko! I had tremendous fun with the Agencyverse so, I know I'm not done telling stories about it!

I wish we'd seen their first meeting...

So do I. However, neither Agencyverse RayK nor Fraser said anything about it. Apparently, it's still listed under CLASSIFIED. ;)

galenlisle Author Profile Page said:

This was great and creative fun! Especially "The probability that you will carry a successful career in medicine is about 3," Turnbull squinted at me, "maybe 4.5 percent at best." snicker.

I'm glad you liked this story, . The Agencyverse is twisty fun! :)

Ooh, I liked this a lot! The idea of Fraser and Ray as spies is very compelling, although Fraser's suicidal reputation makes me sad for him. I'm glad they're getting out of it!

Lucifuge_5 said:

Thank you, Miss Z! Initially, I wasn't feeling sure this AU would work outside my head since everyone in the Agencyverse is a little to the side of the tv show canon (which explains why Fraser is angstier than in dS.)

I'm glad they're getting out of it!

And I think they are going to have tons of fun when they do. :)

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