Ghost Song by (Exeter)Linden

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Title: Ghost Song
For: akamine_chan
Pairing/Characters: Kowalski/Fraser, Victoria
Warnings: PG-13 for violent imagery, angst
Vidder's/Author's/Artist's Notes:
Thank you, thank you, thank you to my fantastic betas <3

This story has a soundtrack which you can find here:
hxxp://www.megaupload.com/?d=8X6N2OH0


In 1986, in the northernmost part of the Yukon, a young Mountie hikes up from Peel River to search for survivors from a plane that locals saw go down somewhere on the near side of the mountain ridge, only hours before.  

Winter has set in, and the Mountie has to make his way through the season's first heavy snowfall. It takes him most of the day to locate the crash site, and it's dusk when he finds the plane, along with the body of one passenger who apparently died on impact. The corpse is frozen and already mauled by scavengers. He has nothing to secure the body; there is no way to bury him in the powdery snow or the frozen ground. It is not the first dead body the Mountie has seen, but he still kneels silently by the dead man for longer than he should in the subzero temperatures.

After he gets to his feet again, he circles out from the body, and finds the tracks of a survivor, leading away from the crash site. The footprints are made by a light tread in narrow-soled boots, most likely a woman, and the tracks wind up the wrong way of the mountainside, moving further away from civilisation. An experienced tracker, he estimates that he should be able to catch up with the stray passenger before nightfall.

But he ends up following the trail for two days with no sign of the woman. The tracks are uncommonly difficult to follow, breaking off and reappearing in a pattern that seems entirely inconsistent with the wind and the snowfall. He has come unprepared for a longer trek, and every day he carefully makes estimations and measures out his supplies.

On the morning of the third day, an unexpected, early blizzard sets in, and the Mountie is forced to abandon his tent. He spends two days in a small snow cave that he digs into the mountain side. In the cave it is warm and dark, and the sounds from the storm are muffled and dim. The Mountie sleeps fitfully, dreaming of running after the woman, a small figure on the horizon, struggling to catch up, without ever reaching her.

When he finally digs himself out, the world is silent and blindingly white. His pack carrying his supplies is gone, and so is his tent. The storm has pushed the snow into high, steeping drifts, changing the landscape and erasing the track he was following. The woman, who has already spent days out on the ice unprepared, may not still be alive.

There, in the snow, he assesses his own fatigue and thirst, the slight tremor in his extremities that signals the onset of hypothermia, and he realises with an almost calm sense of dread that, unless he finds the woman alive soon, they may both be lost on the mountain.

The clouds above his head are purple and black. The Mountie knows his only hope is to reach the saddle between the twin peaks where he can cross to the lee side of the mountains before another storm arrives, and so he struggles upwards.

After a couple of hours hard work, he reaches Fortitude Pass well before the storm hits, and there he spots fresh boot prints that make his heart thump with new hope, makes him push himself forward even after dusk sets in. He loses the trail by midnight, but he doesn't stop searching until a couple of hours later, when the howling wind starts pushing the loose snow over the icy crust, around him. By then he has lost sensation in his toes and fingers, and his face is covered in frost from his own exhalation.

He finally seeks shelter in a crag, huddling around himself and rubbing his chest with his shivering hands.

He doesn't see her at first. She is quiet and unmoving in the shadows. It is her breathing that makes him aware of her presence. It takes a moment for his snow tired eyes to locate her in the darkness of the folded rock.

It's a female artic wolf, watching him with apprehension and panting heavily from stress. The fur of her face and muzzle bristles with ice and frozen blood. Her eyes are dark and glassy, and her instinctive movements to flee or charge are slow and sluggish. She gets to her feet and then collapses back down as the Mountie slowly approaches her on his hands and knees. She growls uncertainly.

"Don't be afraid, I don't mean to hurt you" His voice is rough and startling, even to himself, after three days of silence. Moving up close, he reaches out towards the wolf, towards the only other warm and living thing in the vast expanse of ice and snow surrounding them.

...

It appears on the fire escape one late evening in early winter, big and dark and silent.

Ray is dancing with a nameless, shapeless form. His one hand is gripping a beer bottle, the other empty air. He is turning, dipping, swirling, when he glimpses it, catching the light reflected in its eyes, first, then the massive, black bulk of it. He drops the beer bottle, and shouts out involuntarily. The dog only reacts by lifting its head from it's paws and pricking its ears forward.
 
"Fuck! Shit!"

He stops in his tracks, runs a hand over his face, shuddering. He's embarrassed by how scared he is.

He bends down and picks up the bottle which is unbroken but spilling thick foam onto the carpet. He hesitates before walking forward into the living room, closer to the windows, to place the bottle on the coffee table.

The dog follows him with its eyes, ears raised attentively. He straightens under its gaze, put his hands on his hips. Bites his lip.  

The dog doesn't show any signs of aggression, but. It's a fucking big dog. Ray has no clue how it made it up here. The fire escape stairs are steep - Ray didn't think a dog could manage them.

"Fuck," he repeats to himself, and then tells the dog "Shoo!", and then louder "Shoo, shoo! Get the fuck out!"

He feels shaky, the taste of beer suddenly sour in his throat, but he covers it with yelling, making himself look bigger by standing straight, arms wide, walking to stand right against the glass.

"Go, get away!"

The balcony is level with the windowsill, and when the dog sits up on its hind legs, it is nearly at eye height. It doesn't challenge him; it keeps its gaze deferentially fixed on some point to one side and behind him, but it doesn't budge either. Up close, in the light from the living room, Ray can see the coarse, pitch-black fur, thick around the neck and shoulders, fanning out from the broad wolf-like face, lighter in colour around the eyes and lips. Big ears.

Ray doesn't know dog breeds, had a mutt himself, but he knows one wolf-hybrid, and he's pretty sure that this must be another. The dog shifts its gaze to meet his eyes. The pupils are almost indistinguishable, and the black of the irises bleed over to colour the whole eye dark brown. Ray realises that he's staring the dog straight in the eyes, and is immediately aware of its size, the thick muscle underneath its fur, the thinness of the glass separating it from him. He backs away slowly, feigning indifference.

"Okay, stay. What do I care?" he says loudly, mostly for his own benefit. He goes to the kitchen and pours the now flat beer into sink. He gets a new one, and drinks it leaning against the kitchen counter and keeping an eye on the dog through two doorways. Soft jazz is still playing from the stereo.

The dog stays. It stays through Ray drinking his fifth beer of the night, and it doesn't flinch when he slams it down on the counter. Stays through Ray deciding to reclaim the living room and settling down demonstratively on the couch, with his hand trembling a little around the sixth bottle.

Its only reaction is to scratch it's paw, once, against the window.

When he wakes up, in the morning, dry-mouthed and heavy headed - fully clothed on the couch - it is gone. Ray yawns, curses himself at the pain in his temples, looks at the bottles on the table and decides that he probably dreamt the whole thing. He decides, once again, to cut back on the booze.

...

That morning, Fraser is waiting for him at the precinct, falls into step with him as Ray pushes open the door to the bull-pen.

"Hey." He ducks his face down to avoid Fraser's searching look. He knows he looks ragged. He showered and shaved to cover the worst of it, but he knows he still looks like someone who got drunk and passed out on his couch last night.

"Are you feeling all right, Ray?"

"Yeah, just... Just didn't sleep that well."

Ray takes in Fraser's appearance, the tired lines around his eyes, the impression of exhaustion underneath the wholesome Mountie surface. "You don't look too good yourself there, Fraser buddy."

"I'm alright, Ray," is all the response he gets.

Ray doesn't try to press for more. This is how it's been for a while, now, Fraser slowly withdrawing, cutting off conversation, declining invitations, closing himself off. Fraser says that there's a lot of work at the consulate, that it's a busy season. But Ray can't help worry if it's something else, if maybe it's his own doing, if he's ruined everything by wanting more all the time, by wading too far into Fraser's personal space, thinking maybe they were headed in a direction that he's now pretty sure they aren't.

He shakes his head.

Just, for a while there, Fraser had been happy to go to dinner with him, come over for games on Saturday evenings. Ray even cooked for him one time, feeling silly and obvious, but Fraser had complimented the food and thanked him warmly.

Fraser'd sat with him on his couch watching some stupid-ass European movie, all relaxed - even slouching a little - while next to him, Ray felt anxious and tense, and recklessly excited.

At one point Fraser glanced at him, to share some on-screen joke, and there was something about the moment that made Ray's adrenaline spike, his stomach clench, this is it this is it this is it, strumming through him, for just a moment, before he saw a flash of fear on Fraser's face, quickly replaced by a blank nothingness. Fraser carefully turned his head back to the TV like nothing had happened.

And that was it.

That was a while ago, now. Ray pushes past Huey in the bullpen, grimacing.

He lets himself fall into the chair by his desk. Fraser sits opposite him. He takes off the Stetson and runs a hand over his carefully combed hair. Ray follows the motion and then has to stop looking, busying himself with case files, flicking a pen between his fingers.

...

The dog comes back, defying Ray's determined belief that the whole thing was a booze dream. To be fair, the second time, two weeks later, he is drunk again. But the third time he is stone cold sober.

It doesn't seem to want anything, seems content to just watch him, and even that stops freaking him out somewhere along the line. It never shows up in the daytime, so Ray guesses it has an owner somewhere that kicks it out at night. It isn't wearing a collar, but it seems like it's being fed, even if it's starved for human contact.

Ray figures that the dog just needs a sheltered place to spend the night, maybe a little company. He's got no problem with that. Hell, he could use a little company himself most nights.

From his place on the couch, he toasts the dark form, which is lit up intermittently by the TV. The dog remains motionless.

"I am watching curling," he states, morosely, turning his head towards the window.

The dog keeps staring at him, its eyes reflecting the blue, flickering lights.

"Yes," he admits, "I know how pathetic that is."

The dog yawns and lays down. It puts its head on its front legs and blinks sleepily.

"Christ, and I am talking to a dog." He shakes his head at himself and takes a long swig of beer.

The dog takes no interest in the curling.

When Ray gets up from the couch and stretches, the dog stands up too, taking a few excited steps - its head swaying impatiently - fogging up the window with its breath.

Ray turns off the TV. "Oh no, I'm not letting you in, you big mutt." He walks out of the living room, turning the lights off on his way. "G'night."

...

They're at the tail-end of December, and the temperature stays just below zero. Ray offers to drive Fraser back to the consulate every day. Fraser usually accepts, but most of the time he sits silent and preoccupied in the passenger seat, glancing out at the city lights and the slush covered streets. The electric light of the street lamps makes him look bluish pale. His breath shows like a dull mist on the passenger side window.

Ray navigates the familiar, slippery streets in the gathering night. The silence is driving him crazy.

He changes gears to take a corner, shifts restlessly in his seat. He casts a glance at Fraser's turned face, his ear, the sharp line of his jaw.  "Fraser, did I... do something?"

He wants to say what the hell is going on with us? But putting it into words like that makes it sound incredulous, makes Ray even surer that it was just something he imagined, all along, some ridiculous, far-fetched fantasy.

Fraser turns his head to look at him, and Ray loses his courage, quickly backtracking, "Like, did I do something to piss you off?"

Fraser reaches out as if to touch Ray's hand on the gear stick, before he quickly pulls back, cradling his own hand against his chest.

"No, Ray, on the contrary, I--" He stops.

"It's--" He kneads his hand like it's hurting.

"I haven't been feeling... well, lately," he finally finishes, turning back to look out the window. They're driving past Lincoln Park, where a thin residue of grey snow is clinging stubbornly to the trees.

The tiredness, the paleness... Ray feels chilled, all of a sudden. "You sick?"

Thankfully, Fraser shakes his head. "No. I've just found this winter unexpectedly hard to -- I suppose I'm homesick."

Ray leans back in his seat, relieved, "That makes sense -- pining for the tundra, huh?"

That at least gets a wry half-smile out of him, "Something like that, yes."

"Well," Ray tries, tapping his fingers nervously on the wheel, "I'm sure we can do something about that. The Hawks are playing the Oilers tomorrow night - maybe we can find you some seal pizza, or something."

"That's very kind of you, but I'm afraid I'm not available tomorrow... Consular duties," he adds, after a moment. He's a terrible liar.

"Okay... Okay."

When they reach the consulate, Fraser doesn't get out straight away. When he finally does, he moves slowly like he's stiff-jointed and aching. He almost lets the door slam, but then he opens it again and bends down to catch Ray's eyes.   

"Ray, I treasure your friendship," he says seriously.

Ray has no clue what that's supposed to mean. "Hey, I'm here for you, if, you know, if you need me, for anything," he offers, helplessly.

"Thank you."

Somehow, the whole exchange sounds way too much like a dismissal.

Fraser flips the back seat forward to let Diefenbaker out. Ray watches him walk up to the consulate door, with Dief sticking closely to his side.

Ray watches Fraser unlock the door and get in, sees the light come on, the door closing - and then he slams his open palm down on the steering wheel, hard, one, two, three times. "Fuck, fuck!"

...

The next time the black dog shows up, it isn't alone.

Ray is startled away from the hockey game by the sound of barking - usually the ghost dog doesn't make a sound. The window is dominated by a familiar form.

"Dief!"

Dief barks again. He's right up against the glass, tongue lolling and tail low, while the black dog slinks along the railing behind him. Both seem anxious.

Ray almost expects Fraser to show up on the fire escape next, and walks over to the window to peer out, but Fraser isn't there.

When Ray leans forward to see down into the alley below, the black dog moves in past Dief to touch it's muzzle to the glass. It looks even bigger next to Diefenbaker, both taller and heavier built, it's fur shaggy and coarse compared to Dief's short white and grey coat. Dief turns to press himself against the other dog until it steps away from the window.

"This guy a friend of yours, Dief?"

Dief whines.

Ray hesitates a second before he grabs hold of the window frame, meaning to let Dief in and give Fraser a call to come pick him up, but the moment he begins to open the window, the black dog rushes forward, pushing past Dief.

Ray has gotten used to it's quiet presence, had decided to himself that it was harmless, but he is reminded of it's size as it puts it's weight against the window frame and pushes it's muzzle into the narrow gap. It's lips are pushed back by the frame to reveal large incisors, its thin pink tongue is licking excitedly at its own lips. It's panting out hot air against Ray's hand.

He takes a step back, startled. "Whoa, easy now!"

Through the glass he can see a flash of white in its wild eyes. Its front paws are working desperately to push under the narrow opening, large nails scraping the paint off the window ledge.

Dief starts barking again, loud and frantic, and after a moment, the black dog draws back, shaking itself, and Dief stops.

The two dogs seem to communicate something, heads low, locking eyes briefly before turning away. They set off down the fire escape, Dief first, without looking back.

Ray stands, stunned, in the cold draft from the open window, before he moves to quickly close it and secure the latch.

He tries to call Fraser a couple of times, but gets no answer. He goes to bed, resolving to sort the whole thing out in the morning. He doesn't sleep well.

...

Ray gets to the consulate early the next day, and a bleary-eyed Turnbull lets him in. When Ray knocks on Fraser's door he hears rushed, muffled sounds: the creaking of bed springs, someone moving around, furniture scraping across the floor. When the door finally opens, Ray is met with a gust of cold air. Fraser is in his trousers and undershirt, barefooted. Behind him the window is wide open, looking out into the consular garden.

"I'm so sorry, Ray, have I overslept?" Fraser hardly meets his eyes before he's moving again, distractedly pulling on his henley and smoothing it into his trousers.

"No, you're alright." Ray leans back on his heels, still standing on the doorstep. He feels like an intruder, watching Fraser scrambling to get dressed. "You shouldn't let your wolf roam at night."

Fraser stands up abruptly, "What?!"

"I mean, it's not safe to let Dief run out at night. He might get picked up by animal control."

"Did you see him last night?"

Dief comes over from his place by the window, as if he knows he's being talked about. He moves close to Fraser, his gaze shifting attentively between them. Fraser doesn't seem to notice.

"Yeah, on the fire escape, along with this other dog. I tried to call you."

"Other dog?!"

Ray hasn't had Fraser's full attention on him for a long time, and now he flinches under it, like he's done something wrong. He thought maybe Fraser would be intrigued by the whole thing, but instead he seems genuinely freaked out.

"Yeah, this mutt that's been showing up on my fire escape for uh --" ... More than a month.

Ray suddenly realises how weird it is that he hasn't told Fraser about the ghost dog yet; usually this would be the kind of anecdote they'd share easily, over a meal or during the quiet part of a stake-out.

Fraser turns away from him. He walks over and shuts his window with a hard, forceful motion. He stays standing there with his back turned.

In the corner of the room, Fraser's sleeping pad is all rucked up, sheets and blanket crumpled together and pushed against the wall.

"What does it look like?" Fraser's voice is blank, but his knuckles are white as he grips the windowsill tightly.

Ray hesitates. "Black, big. Looks like he's got wolf in him, like Diefenbaker. The two of them seem to knew each other."

Fraser nods slowly to himself, and even though his is back turned, Ray can see the tension in his shoulders. "Yes. I know it, too. He could be dangerous, Ray."

Fraser finally turns. "You haven't let him in, have you?"

Ray thinks back to last night.  "No..." He shifts his weight. "Dangerous how? Has it ever hurt anyone?"

"Maybe. I'm not sure." Fraser reaches up to pinch the bridge of his nose, closing his eyes briefly.

Ray is a little taken aback by Fraser's reaction. Except for last night, the dog has been mute and almost motionless, seeming to want nothing more than company.  

"Huh. I don't think Dief would have taken to him if he was aggressive."

"I hope you're right," Fraser says quietly. He doesn't offer any more information.

"Do you know who he belongs to?"

"Yes."

Ray waits for an explanation, but Fraser's moving again, briskly putting on the serge, fastening his lanyard. Ray leans against the door frame. "Well, you should tell them they shouldn't kick him out like that at night. He seems lonely."

Fraser looks up briefly from lacing his uniform boots, "I don't think she cares, Ray."

"Well. Someone should."

Fraser doesn't answer that, only pauses for a moment, before returning to his laces. But when he's fully dressed and Ray turns to head for the door, Fraser grabs his wrist.

"Will you promise me not to let it in, if comes back?"

Fraser's face is weirdly expressionless, but underneath the surface there's an urgency that makes Ray agree.

"Sure. Okay."

Despite the frigid temperature in the room, Fraser's hand is burning hot, like a fever. His breath hits Rays eyelashes, making him blink. Fraser's gripping Ray too tightly and standing too close, and for a moment Ray can feel that adrenaline spiking again, his pulse picking up under the press of Fraser's fingers -- before Dief pushes himself between them, whining, and Fraser lets go.

...

That night Ray wakes up in the dark. Through his open bedroom door he can hear the sound of a dog whining, the rattle of glass and wood, nails scraping frantically over the window. He lies motionless for a long moment, trying to get his breathing under control. Then he gets out of bed, finds his jeans on the floor without turning on the lights, pulls them on and makes his way to the living room.

Outside the window, Dief spies him and immediately redoubles his efforts, jumping up to scratch his paws against the window.

"Shhh, Dief, stop." Ray rubs a hand across his face, relaxing a little. "Where's the ghost?"

Dief steps back to reveal a dark form only half-way onto the balcony, slumped over the last step on the stairs.

Dief nudges the still form, and the dog gets to its feet and hobbles over to the window, where it stands wavering, head bowed. It's left front leg is tucked awkwardly against its body. Up close, Ray can see a mesh of straps and metal clasps gnawing deep into its fur.

"Shit."

He bites his lip, runs a hand along his bare arm.

Even though Fraser said the dog might be dangerous, Ray finds it hard to believe, looking at it now. Outside, Dief's yelping has turned into a low steady whine, while the black dog remains mute, swaying on its feet.

"Fuck it."

Ray undoes the latch and opens the window wide. The dog half falls into the room, heavy and limp. Dief jumps after it, walking anxiously around them while the black dog struggles to sit.

Ray kneels down, heart hammering. The dog's breathing is laboured and loud. This close, he catches the wild winter smell of its fur, the cold emanating from its body, making the hair on his arms stand up. When he reaches out, the dog draws back, black eyes fixing him with a suspicious stare.

He holds his hands up, palms open. "Hey, hey, easy now."

The dog tries to move, but its leg is bent at a weird angle, trapped in a loop in the harness.  

"Someone tried to tie you down, huh?"

The dog coughs hollowly. Ray can see its throat muscles working against the tight straps. He reaches out slowly, and this time the dog lets him, even though it flinches when his fingers close on one of the metal clasps.

"You're not very trusting, are you?"

He works quickly, undoing buckles and clasps, until the dog is able to wriggle out of the harness. Ray is left with a bundle of straps in his hands as the dog rushes to the other end of the room.

It's a sturdy piece of work, not an ordinary leash. Maybe a sled dog harness. It's half gnawed through in several places. A metal buckle is pulled out of shape, and it's trailing a couple of thick rope ends that looks like they were either bitten or pulled apart. On the collar, the sharp, woven vinyl is dark with blood and clumps of black fur.

Ray throws it away disgustedly, and it clanks against the wooden floor.

Across the room, Dief and the dog sit closely together, the black dog leaning against Dief's smaller frame. In the draft from the window, the winter chill stings Ray's bare feet and chest, but he stays seated.

The dogs watch him, their eyes glinting in the dark. Hunched over like this, and in obvious pain, the black dog is one of the saddest thing Ray has ever seen.

"Are you really dangerous?"

At the sound of his voice, the black dog gets up with visible effort, and walks heavily towards him. Its nails click against the floor boards. Ray is sitting on the floor, and the dog stands taller than him. He sits perfectly still, holds his breath when it moves close and cautiously sniffs at his face and throat. Its muzzle touches briefly against his clavicle, and Ray jumps when Dief barks sharply, moving towards them.

The black dog raises its head abruptly and looks to Dief, then brushes past Ray to jump out the window. Dief follows after.

Ray takes a couple of deep, shaky breaths before he gets up.

Outside, it has started snowing. When Ray leans out the window, he still sees the dogs like two shadows disappearing slowly down the alley, below a flurry of snow flakes moving on the wind.

...

The sound of his phone ringing wakes him from a fitful, uneasy sleep, early the next morning.  

"... Yeah?" he says, still half-dreaming.

"Ray?" On the other end of the line, Fraser's voice sounds raw and broken.

"Fraser?" Ray sits straight up in the bed, "You sound terrible."

"I'm fine. I've merely contracted a minor cold." Fraser says, "I'm only calling to tell you I won't be able to work with you today. There's been an unfortunate incident at the consulate. A burglar broke in last night. He seems to have targeted my room. There was quite a lot of property damage." Fraser coughs weakly. "Thankfully I was elsewhere."

Ray is suddenly, instantly awake. "Shit, are you in trouble?" He has to clamp down on the urge to drive over there straight away.  

"No. We suspect that the burglar was merely a junkie, desperate for valuables."

Ray frowns, his police mind working. "But. That makes no sense - you don't have anything of value in your room."

"No, it does seem peculiar." Fraser's voice is strangely blank.

"That it does, Fraser. I'm coming over - we'll figure this one out." He throws his duvet back,  and starts to get up.

"No!" Fraser is almost shouting, and Ray sits back, surprised at his vehemence.

Fraser coughs again. "No. It's of no importance Ray. We're already looking into it." His voice is once again expressionless and even.

Ray rests his head in his hands, confused and a little hurt. "Fraser, look, I wanna help."

"I know, and I thank you, but I really think it's best if I handle this one on my own."

The brush-off is painfully obvious, even if Fraser is still being polite.

After a beat, Fraser draws in a sharp breath. "By the way, has that dog been back?"

And even though it's seemingly a casual question, there's something about Fraser's voice that makes Ray take notice. He lets his hand fall away from his face. In front of him, his jeans are on the floor where he shucked them off last night.

He hesitates. "No."

He's not sure why he's lying.

"Good," the phone line crackles with the noise of Fraser's exhalation. "Good."

Ray doesn't see Fraser for two weeks afterwards.

...

Christmas comes and goes.

They move into January, and Chicago is hit by a series of storms that cover the city in a skin of ice. For a couple of days, the temperature plunges far below zero as soon as the sun sets.

The black dog shows up with frost spikes in its fur, snow on its face. It is still limping.

Ray doesn't mean to let it in, but even though it has a thick pelt, he can't help but worry when it lays unmoving for hours outside his window, while he has every radiator turned to max.

Inside, the black dog stays close but shies away from being touched. The first couple of days, it quietly explores the apartment, walking in and out of rooms, sniffing the furniture. But it soon settles into a pattern, following Ray around at a distance, watching him like it's waiting for something.

"What're you haunting me for, huh? Ghost..."

The dog looks at him expectantly.

"Hey Ghost, quit staring."

The name sticks, as the dog keeps coming back night after night.

At one point, Ray gets out his old dog's food and water dishes from the basement, but he never sees Ghost either drink or eat what he puts out, and after a while he stops filling the dishes.  

"Don't tell me you don't want this." Ray sticks his fork through the steak bleeding into the butcher paper and holds it up.

"C'mon, Dief would be going nuts for this."

The dog is sitting like a statue at the entrance to the kitchen. It inclines its head slightly, but makes no move towards him.

"Huh." Ray plunks the steak into the hot pan, scratches his chest through his t-shirt, "There's something wrong with you, you know that?"

The dog gets up and walks away.

"Who doesn't want a steak?" Ray mutters. He grabs a fork, and moves the steak around in the brown, melted butter, just before it burns.

When he gets out of the kitchen, plate in hand, Ghost is sitting in front of the door, looking meaningfully at the doorknob and sending him soulful eyes.

"Oh no, you want out, you know the way."

With an air of indignation, the dog follows him into the living room and Ray opens the window and lets it out, cursing at the snow that drifts in through the window as the dog pushes itself onto the balcony.

He watches it go, and then closes the window and turns around.

The apartment is quiet except for the persistent low pitched rumble of city traffic. He'd set his plate down to let Ghost out, and now it sits alone on the edge of the coffee table, in front of the TV. One steak, a bun, some coleslaw from a box. In the kitchen, there's another steak, bought out of habit, left raw. He should put it in the freezer or throw it away.

He sighs and leans against the window. The cold seeps through his t-shirt into his skin, but he doesn't move for some time.

...

Ray taps his fingers against his desk, watching the tendons move in his hand. On the phone, Fraser's voice is hard to hear above the din of the bullpen, Frannie talking loudly at the other end of the room.

"Hey, so, any news on the burglary at the consulate?"

"Not yet, no."

"So uh, I guess you're still busy, then?"

"Yes, I'm afraid so."

"Okay. I'll uh, I'll get back to you later?" Ray doesn't mean for his voice to waver at the end of the sentence, making it a question. He pushes his palm flat on the desk, willing his hand to be still.

"Yes... Ray, are you -- " Fraser coughs again, he still hasn't shaken that cold. "You are doing alright, aren't you? At work, I mean, without my help?"

"Sure, no worries, Frase."

"And... And you haven't seen Dief roaming at night? Or that black dog?"

"No."

Against the wooden tabletop, Ray's fingers flex involuntarily.

...

That night, he gets drunk.

He hadn't been prepared for the dull, restless ache of missing Fraser. He guesses it was pretty stupid, to get so hung up on a pipe dream - to throw their friendship away for something that wasn't even anything yet.

And with Fraser, of all people. He laughs at himself, scornfully, and takes another swig of his bottle. He blinks slowly.

He'd really thought - had been convinced - that Fraser was with him on this. But yeah, even if Fraser had been, there were a thousand reasons why it was a stupid fucking idea, and maybe Ray should have thought a bit about that before leaping in head first, like he's always done.

He gets up unsteadily from the couch, runs both hands though his hair, grabs his beer bottle with two fingers - and nearly jumps out of his skin when he looks up and sees the dog sitting straight in front of him, watching him calmly.

"Fuck!"

The dog jerks its head, huffing.

"Freaking ghost," Ray mutters.

The dog gets up and moves to the door. When Ray doesn't follow, it returns and walks up to him, nosing his hand before going back to the door.

Despite himself, Ray pulls on his coat and his gloves and takes Ghost down to the street. The dog seems happy for once, running in front of him with its head held low and its tail relaxed and wagging slightly.

The pavements are greyish white and slippery. Ray stumbles along, swearing for the sake of it, while Ghost moves around him in wide circles, sometimes catching a scent that makes it huff out twin columns of white breath before it takes off without a sound or a glance backwards. The snow has a icy, smog-coloured crust. The dog doesn't leave any tracks for Ray to follow, but it always returns, sometimes coming up behind him, or slipping out from an alley to fall into step beside him.  

They return to the apartment hours after, and the dog stays close beside him as they make their way up the stairs, its shoulder bumping against Ray's thigh.

In the apartment, Ray takes off his coat and gloves, tries to rub a little warmth into his cold cheeks. Ghost lies down content on the rug, and closes its eyes.

Ray lets the dog out the window before he goes to bed. He sleeps better than he has for a long time.

...

He takes the dog out every night after that, each night spending more time traipsing through the city in the dark, the dog drawing Ray further and further away from home.

Downtown the snow is dirty on the pavements. The dog leads them into the parks where Ray walks through the blurry reflection of light on the wet concrete of the paths. Between the trees, the snow is heavy and slushy, dark and sunken in patches, and Ray's jeans get soaked to the knee wading through it.

When he looks up, the night sky is tangled in a net of branches.

They're mostly alone. Not many people venture out in the cold winter nights. Under the full moon, Ghost is a dark shape moving ahead of Ray, between the black spider shadows cast by trees across the snow.

One night they walk all the way down to the promenade, to Lake Michigan, where broken ice is washed up in layers on the shore. Ghost picks its way to the shoreline and sniffs the dark water, raises his head and looks out to the North, as if he's spied something of interest. He runs back and forth along the waterline for a while, peering out across the lake.

"If that ice breaks, I'm not jumping in to save you." Ray warns. He digs his hands into his winter coat and finds half a pack of cigarettes from last year. He shrugs, digs one out and lights it. Ghost comes up to stand in front of him.

"I know, I know. Just this once, okay? Cut me some slack."

Ghost sighs and sits beside him. Ray smokes his cigarette with the dog leaning warm and solid against his leg, both of them looking out over the water.

...

He spends his workdays in a fog, never having got enough sleep, unable to concentrate in the clutter and noise of the bullpen and the chaos of people constantly moving around him.

He nods off at his desk. He writes up old reports, mulling dumbly over each word, going back to erase every other sentence.

When he's called into the lieutenant's office, he expects to get yelled at, but instead Welsh sits him down, gets a bottle out from somewhere and pours them each a drink. He sits down heavily across from Ray, rubs both hands over his face.

"Okay, Kowalski, care to tell me what the hell is going on?"

"What do you mean, sir?"

Welsh fixes him with a look, raises one eyebrow. "We don't see the Mountie anymore. Dewey and you haven't squabbled for weeks - and I know I should think that that was a good thing. You come in here looking like something the cat dragged in, your ex-wife walks past and you don't even notice..."

Ray's about to protest, but then he realises that he can't remember seeing Stella these last couple of weeks, can't remember talking to Dewey or Huey.

"Oh, that." He takes a big gulp from the glass that Welsh put in front of him. The whiskey is hot and sour in his mouth.

"Look, when did you last talk to the Constable?"

"Ten days ago." He remembers too late to pretend he's not keeping count.

Welsh sighs, worn down and weary, "Will you just go sort out whatever's got you fighting?"

"Yes sir." Ray answers, embarrassed that he's been so obvious.

Welsh downs his drink smoothly, and gets up to see Ray out.

When Ray moves to go past him, Welsh grabs him by the shoulder. "And sort yourself out, Kowalski. We have better things to do than to worry about you," he says, voice low so that no one else will hear.

"Yes sir."

Welsh is gruff. Ray's is a little freaked to see genuine concern in the lieu's face, before he lets go of Ray's shoulder.

Ray tries calling Fraser, but no one picks up the phone.

...

That night, Ghost doesn't show.

Ray worries all the next day, thinking maybe animal control got it, maybe the dog got hit by a car. He gets home early, waits in the living room with the lights turned on until midnight. Then he draws the curtains and goes to bed.

...

He sleeps brokenly, listening for Ghost, and when he finally hears the sound of claws scratching against glass, he's out of bed and on his way to the living room before he's even fully awake. Behind the drawn curtain a large shadow moves restlessly back and forth.

"Ghost, thank god."

Ray draws back the curtain, already reaching for the latch, but a flash of white at the corner of his eye makes him look up.

On the other side of the thin glass, right in front of his face, is a white wolf.

It stands taller than Ray, the fur at the back of its neck bristling. Its eyes are small and pale in the faint light, staring fixedly at him. It's black lips are drawn back in a snarl, revealing red gums and large incisors, pink with blood and saliva. Through the window Ray can hear it growling as it snaps its jaws against the glass.

"Jesus!"

He stumbles backwards, almost falling, and the wolf launches forward, once, violently, throwing its heavy frame against the glass.

"What the fuck!?"

He scrambles to the drawers next to his couch, to get to his gun holster, to get to his gun. His hands are shaking. He fumbles the key in the lock, and after he's opened the drawer, he drops the holster to the floor.

When he looks over his shoulder, the white wolf throws itself at the window again, and through the pounding of his pulse in his ears, he can hear the glass begin to crack.

He falls to his knees -- turning his back to the window to fumble the gun out of the leather holster -- but when he swings back, frantically, to aim it, the white wolf is gone

He stumbles to his feet, wiping his brow which is prickling with sweat. In the distance he can hear dogs yelping.

He goes to the window. There's a crack, like a spider web, spreading out from one point, where the glass is smeared with blood and spit.

...

At first light, Ray throws on his coat and hurries out the door. On his way down the stairs, he tries Fraser's number, but there's nobody answering. He pushes out onto the street, fishing his keys out of his pockets - and stops in his tracks when he sees a dark haired woman in a black fur coat, leaning against the GTO.

She's beautiful and she's smiling at him, but something about her makes Ray's pulse pick up.

"Hello." She pushes of the hood of the car, trailing her nails against the varnish. "Is this your car?"

Her pale eyes are unsettling, and so's the sharp, upturned curve at the corner of her red lips. She tosses her head slightly, making her dark hair fall across her shoulders.

Ray puts his keys back in his pockets. "What's it to you?"

She looks at him, eyes narrowed, "You're not Ray Vecchio," she says, matter-of-factly, a small smile still playing on her lips.

"Yeah I am, who the hell are you?" he counters. He tries not to let his uneasiness show on his face.

He has no clue how this woman could know anything about him.

"Well," she says, ignoring him, "it doesn't matter either way. You can't have him"

He's confused for a second, until he realises that she must be Ghost's owner, the woman Fraser told him about.

"Why not? You don't want him." Seeing her, Ray suddenly finds it easy to understand the dog's cautious, restless nature, its need to escape outside.

The woman touches her tongue to the corner of her mouth, slow and deliberate. "He's still mine, even if he's trying not to be."

"Then why has he been coming to my apartment every night for the last couple of months?"

She steps up close, searching his face with cruel amusement. "You have no idea what you're getting yourself into, do you?"

Ray fights the urge to take a step back.

"What the fuck are you talking about? Where is he?"

A little further down the street, a passer-by turns to eye him suspiciously. To his right, Ray sees a news paper vendor casting a curious glance in their direction.

"Your friend is going away." She steps back, turns to go, and Ray has to stop himself from grabbing her, keenly aware of the people around them.

She looks back over her shoulder, "Be a good boy and stay out of it." She's not smiling anymore, and without even the pretence of a smile, her face looks harsh and cold.

Ray stands rooted to the ground, watching her walk away.When he reaches for the keys in his pocket, his fingers are numb.

...

Fraser answers almost before Ray touches his knuckles to the door, but by the look on his face, Ray gets the feeling that he isn't who Fraser's expecting. It's been weeks since Ray last saw him, and he looks strangely alien, somehow, hollow-eyed and weary.

"Ray."

Fraser's shirt is open, and underneath it, Ray glimpses the greenish brown remains of heavy bruising across his chest, creeping up towards his throat. Fraser catches him looking, and quickly starts buttoning his shirt.

The relief Ray feels at seeing him quickly turns into something else.

"Fraser what the fuck is going on?"

He pushes into the room. The window is open and the curtain is whipping around in the wind. There's half melted snow on the floor. The room seems even more severe than usual, stripped bare and empty after the burglary. The windowsill is splintered and broken.

"What the hell is happening with you?" Ray is furious and freaked out. He feels stupidly close to tears.

"You're upset."

If Fraser didn't look wrecked, Ray might almost believe Fraser's bland, polite surprise.

"Fuck yes! I'm fucking freaking out, here, Fraser, I'm --" He shouts, crowding Fraser, who stands unmoving, fingers resting on his shirt buttons.

Ray takes a deep, shaky breath. "I'm sorry, it's just --" he lets himself fall into a chair, wipes his face with a trembling hand. "Things have been weird, lately. Things have been really fucking weird."

"You've seen the black dog."

"No. Yes," Ray admits. "And then last night, there was this -- it's sounds crazy, but I could swear it was a wolf. And then this morning this woman shows up out of nowhere --" He feels so fucking relieved to be talking to someone about it.

"Victoria." Fraser says, like Ray is making perfect sense, like he knows exactly what Ray is talking about.

"She was at my apartment. She told me to stay away from Gho-- from the black dog." Ray hunches forward in the chair, pressing the heel of his palm against his brow.

"I know her. I'll speak to her." Fraser walks over to stand next to him. "It will all work out." His hand lands on Ray's shoulder. He probably means to be reassuring, but his skin feels cold and dead where it touches Ray's neck. "You won't see them again."

...

Fraser shows him out, and on a hunch Ray gets in his car and drives it around the block. He parks it in an alleyway, out of sight of the consulate, and waits.

An hour later, he spies the woman's slender form, easily recognizable by the long dark hair, and the fur coat. She walks quickly to the consulate, keeping her head down.

Victoria.

She knocks once on the consulate door, and Fraser lets her in, like an old friend.  

"You're not Ray Vecchio."

Once they've both disappeared inside, Ray starts the car and drives to the precinct.

...

The case files from Fraser and Vecchio's time are all neatly written up and stored in matching binders, and Ray spares one moment to wonder what kind of guy he's really pretending to be, before he starts skimming through them.

Soon after, though, he's grateful for Vecchio's neat-freak neurosis, because judging by the thick stack of files, him and Fraser solved a lot of fucking cases in the time they worked together.

Ray sorts quickly through the files, stored chronologically, until finally his eyes fall on a fat folder, labelled with date and year, and the name Victoria Metcalf.

And all of a sudden, Vecchio's writing isn't the usual straightforward and no-nonsense: "We went there, we got the bad guy, we booked him, end of story." This report seems messy and unclear, like Vecchio was still too emotionally involved in the case to see clearly, like he was still trying to make sense of the story.

Ray reads with growing horror, and when he reaches the part about Fraser pursuing the suspect, Fraser jumping on the train to apprehend her, he throws the file on the table and grabs his phone. Fraser answers after the first ring.

"Are you leaving?" Ray asks, without preamble, overriding Fraser's greeting.

Fraser breathes down the line, but there's no reply. In the background Ray can hear Dief howling.

"Are you leaving with her?" Ray demands.

"Yes."

Ray is already up and moving, chair pushed back, files strewn across his desk.

"She's a crook, Fraser." Training has taught him to stall for time.
 
"I have to. Ray, you don't understand. She's the reason I am what I am. I --"

Fraser's hoarse and choked. "She's the only one who --" In the background, Dief is going crazy, barking and moving around noisily.

"I've spent so much time fighting it," Fraser says, finally, like that's an explanation.

Ray runs through the bull-pen, one arm shrugging on his coat, the other clamping his cell phone to his ear.

"You don't have to," he says desperately, feeling out of his depth. "Fraser, you don't have to go with her."

"I wish --" A long silence, then, "I don't want to hurt you."

And the phone is disconnected.

...

Outside, dusk is already falling.

Ray drives to the consulate using the siren, skidding crazily on the ice-covered streets.

The consulate door is unlocked, the lobby deserted. Everything is silent.

He throws open Fraser's door, ready for anything, but the room is dark and empty.

The sound of barking outside brings him to the window: it's broken, all the glass shattered except for a few, jagged shards clinging to the frame.

Outside, Dief is going insane.

"Dief! Where's Fraser?"

Diefenbaker jumps up against wall, turns and runs a few steps away, and then comes back again, still barking.

Ray shrugs off his coat and throws it over the jagged edges of glass. He jumps out the window, his fall cushioned by the thick layer of snow. He staggers to his feet and follows Dief through the garden.

As they're running, a noise somewhere ahead of them grows louder and louder: barks and yelps, like dogs fighting.

 At the far end, Dief slips through the cluster of trees framing the garden. Ray follows, pushing clear of the low hanging branches, into a square of undeveloped land.

The white wolf is standing tall and erect in front of them. Her jaws are covered with tufts of black fur, and the ghost is cowering before her, his ears flat against his skull.

The wolf charges, and with a high yelp that sounds frighteningly like a human scream, Ghost tumbles onto his back. The white wolf stands over him, her bared teeth closed around his jowls, her big paws crushing his body into the snow. Ghost whimpers, his body curled around himself.

Ray steps forward without thought. "Hey! Stop!"

The wolf's gaze is on him in an instant, pupils like pinpricks in her white, slanted eyes

He doesn't register her charging at him, before he hits the ground hard, rolling with the blow, snow packing painfully into his throat, his nostrils and ears on impact.

He lays stunned, fighting for breath. There's a heavy weight on his chest. Black spots dance in front of his eyes.

He can't breathe, he feels like he's drowning.

He hears a deep, guttural growl, and suddenly the pressure on his ribcage is gone. He gulps for air. The cold cuts his throat.

Close by, there are loud, terrifying noises - the wolves fighting, growling and yelping in pain, large bodies colliding and rolling on the ground, spraying clumps of snow over Ray's body.

When he finds the strength to roll onto his back and raise his head, the ghost is standing protectively between him and the wolf, closely flanked by Dief, both of them growling, feral and alien.

The snow around them is spotted red.

The white wolf lunges a final time, but is met by jaws snapping, vicious barking. She gives up, backing away, tail tucked low and back arched, before she turns around and disappears.

The dog stares after her. Then it takes a few steps in the direction she disappeared, as if drawn there.

"Ghost, no!" Ray crawls on his hand and knees through the sharp, ice-packed snow. He closes his hand in the black dog's coarse fur before it slips out of reach.

The ghost jerks its head around. Its eyes are frantic and unrecognizing. It growls, low and rumbling. Before Ray can react, its jaws close around his arm, its teeth piercing skin and muscle.

Ray shouts. His hand falls open. His arm explodes with searing pain.  

Ghost takes a couple of running steps away, stops uncertainly, glances back, and then moves on, disappearing into the night.

...

Ray is woken by Dief nudging his shoulder, whining. He returns slowly to consciousness. His body is leaden with exhaustion. His fingers are completely numb and he almost can't feel the bite mark above the deep muscle pain settling in his arms and legs.

He clambers to his feet under Dief's keen gaze, then holds his arm up to assess the wound. The bleeding isn't bad, only a trickle of blood, black against his skin in the moonlight.

For a moment he's tempted to lie back down and wait for the pain to stop.

But Dief pushes firmly against his leg, and Ray starts walking, slowly, back towards the consulate, and his car.

...

Ray is both frightened and relieved when Fraser comes to his apartment the next morning. He wasn't sure that he would see him again.

Fraser's face is covered with fresh scrapes and bruises, his eyes set deeply in his skull. He is carrying a bunched up piece of clothing that he hands wordlessly to Ray. It takes Ray a moment to realise that it's his own coat, left behind at the consulate.

"Oh." He looks up at Fraser's anguished face.

"Are you all right, Ray?"

Ray looks at the torn fabric, at his own hand gripping it tightly. Underneath his sweater, the bite is pulsing with pain.

"I think she's gone," he says, quietly. "I think it's over."

Fraser inclines his head, searching Ray's face, and then his mouth trembles and he drops his gaze to the ground. He moves silently to sit on Ray's couch, and covers his face with his hands.

"Fraser."

He uses his good hand to pull off the sweater, wincing as he gingerly manoeuvres it over the swollen wound. He examined himself in the mirror this morning, saw the purple bruising on his chest, the angry-red swelling around the puncture wounds. He washed the blood away, but didn't manage to bandage it.

"Fraser."

When Fraser raises his head and sees him, the expression on his face is all the confirmation that Ray needs. His shivers in the chill air.

"Who did this, Ray, who bit you?"

"The black dog bit me." Ray moves closer, holding Fraser's gaze. As soon as he is within reach, Fraser grabs his hands and pulls him down to the floor in front of him.

Ray goes willingly, kneeling between Fraser's knees on the rug, staying still while Fraser's hands skim over his injuries. For some reason, he's not afraid anymore.

He winches slightly when Fraser's fingers prod the wound, but he doesn't really mind the pain. He closes his eyes, waiting.

"The black dog did this?" Fraser sounds like he's stuck between wonder and apprehension. His hand move to Ray's sternum. His fingertips are hot against the bruise.

"Yeah."

Fraser's touch grows rougher. He squeezes Ray's biceps, kneads his shoulders, loops his hands lightly around Ray's throat, rests his thumbs against the arteries.

When Fraser finally slides his fingers into his hair, Ray tips his head back submissively, giving him permission.

Fraser's kiss feels like a claim of ownership: He kisses open-mouthed, desperate like he's struggling to control it. His fingers twine tightly in Ray's hair, and Ray keeps perfectly still, breathing shallowly, while Fraser gives him a series of hot, biting kisses.

Ray tastes blood. Their faces are wet with saliva, Fraser's tears. Underneath the thrill of fear, Ray can feel his own lust building up, burning and fierce, humming underneath his skin.

He's surprised that he finds it so easy to give in, that he doesn't feel any shame at handing over control.

Fraser leans over him, pushing him back onto the rug - and Ray is unafraid, glad to let everything go.

...

In the Northwest Territories, a couple of hundred miles north of Great Slave Lake, a small aeroplane starts its descend in wide loops over the deserted landscape.

The pilot - an experienced Yellowknife local - initially refused to bring his passengers out here, insisting it was pure suicide, that they didn't have the necessary equipment to last a winter out here, that they'd freeze to death in the unforgiving landscape.

The only reason he finally relented was because one of them turned out to be a member of the RCMP and claimed to be well trained in the skills of arctic survival. Despite this, the pilot feels unsettled, and during their descent he keeps glancing backwards, eyeing his passengers uneasily.

In the back of the plane, Ray is looking out the window at the vast expanse of white, broken only by rocks and crevasses, tendrils of spruce forest wrapped around the base of the mountains. He isn't even aware that he's jiggling his leg nervously until Fraser places a warm palm on his thigh, stilling the movement.

Beside them, Dief is fast asleep, untroubled by the noise of the engines.

The pilot sets down on the side of a hill where the snow cover is thin and translucent. The two men grab their light packs and thank him briefly before setting out. The pilot takes off again only ten minutes later, to avoid the motor cooling down. As he gains height, he watches the three small shapes make their way across the ground until he's up too high to make them out anymore. He still doesn't feel good about leaving them. Years of experience and common sense tell him that it's wrong.

...

In the spring of 1996, under a low hanging moon, three wolves break out from the tree line - loping up the mountainside across unblemished snow. The black wolf, the largest of them, leads the other two. Their ears are turned forward, tongues lolling, their tails hanging freely. They snap playfully at each other, bursting with excess energy; howling joyously as they disappear into the wild.

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21 Comments

Oh my god. I love this so very much.

I loved the overcast tone - dark and bleak but not totally hopeless.

I loved Victoria, and how she still has her claws in Fraser, how he tries to break free but can't.

I love how Ray and Fraser keep trying to connect but miss, over and over and that breaks my heart.

I loved Ghost, and his brave heart.

Thank you, mystery author, for a story well suited to me. \o/

I have more to say, but need time to let this sink in...

Linden Author Profile Page said:

Yay \o/

:D I am so happy that you liked it! I really wanted to give you angst for Christmas, as you wished for *g*

Wow... this was certainly a thriller. o_O So much foreboding, and then Victoria - I was so worried for Fraser, and for Ray who knew something was wrong, and then for Ray because I wasn't sure if Ghost was evil or not (not evil, just wild &hearts ). The final showdown with Victoria was so scary, it was a relief to figure out the ending just before it happened.

They get to be a real pack! What an awesome story. :)

Linden Author Profile Page said:

I am so happy to hear that you found the story suspenseful! Yay! Thank you for commenting :)

Laurie odell Author Profile Page said:

I loved this story, it was so atmospheric and tense and one didn't know whether it was all going to end badly or well.

And I wasn't sure until late in the tale whether Ghost was not actually too feral and might kill Ray.

Victoria is always good for some major ANGST and I felt so bad for Fraser.

Linden Author Profile Page said:

Thank you for commenting! And yes, this story is a total angstfest! *g* I am so happy you liked it.

And the soundtrack.

This is not my style of music (not that I have a style, per se) - out of the artists I only had heard of Rufus Wainwright, Nick Cave and Eddie Vedder - and even then I'm not terribly familiar with them.

But I've been listening to the soundtrack for a couple of hours straight now and I'm really enjoying it. It fits the story so well, each song seeming to evoke the darkness and the cold, the fear and the hopelessness.

Thank you for this lovely addition to the story. It's beautiful.

Linden Author Profile Page said:

I am thrilled that you liked it! All of these songs were part of the writing process - my personal soundtrack to try and capture the atmosphere I wanted for the story, so I thought I'd include them for you. They're gloomy, but soo good :)

Wow, Anonymous Author, this was an angsty-but-quite-fitting story. I liked the whole Fraser-Victoria angle and how RayK bonded with Ghost.

It made me draw parallels, in many ways, with the movie Wolf . . . only that YOUR story has an ending that isn't as dark and yet remains realistic.

Linden Author Profile Page said:

Thank you for commenting! I am so pleased that you enjoyed the story :) And now I have to check out that movie ;) I think maybe I saw it when I was little..? With Jack Nicholson?

sam80853 Author Profile Page said:

Wow!
Very powerful story. Lots of angst which is always good, I think:)

Awesome job!

Linden Author Profile Page said:

Yay angst! *g*

I'm so happy you liked the story - thank you for telling me :)

YESSS. I love that there seems to be a niche market of werewolf!Fraser stories, and this one was excellent. I love what it explains about him and Victoria, and I love Ray's acceptance of the whole thing.

Linden Author Profile Page said:

Thank you so much for commenting :D

I had a lot of fun converting the Fraser/Victoria backstory to wolf!fic - I am thrilled that you liked it!

Fraser makes a good werewolf, I think ;)

verushka said:

Oh, this was so ominous and chilling, and it was building so suspensefully to a seemingly terrible outcome, that I both wanted to and yet didn't want to finish reading it! I've often thought Fraser was unable to reconcile his animal and intellectual selves, so I find werewolf!Fraser completely plausible as a manifestation of such. I'm so glad wolf!Fraser saves Ray in the final showdown with wolf!Victoria, because I think he totally would, with his last ounce of energy, protect Ray (even from himself, clearly). And although he's tried to protect Ray from himself up until that night, and even though he runs after *her* after biting Ray, it's ironic but perfect that it's wolf!Fraser's bite of Ray that lets Fraser have the loving companion he deserves, that frees them both to give in to what they have both clearly wanted for so long, and that allows he and Ray and Dief to become the pack they should be. What a satisfyingly wild closure to Ray's increasingly despairing certainty that he blew it and Fraser's repeated withdrawal and self-denial. Awesome.

Linden Author Profile Page said:

Oh man, I just want to live in this comment for a while :) I am so happy with all your observations - I *love* that people actually found this story suspenseful and creepy, because that was where I wanted to go with it, but I had no idea if I had achieved it. Thank you so much for commenting!

Ooh, spooky and wonderful. Great handling of suspense and unfolding of the mystery. My heart nearly broke for Ray.

This was a perfect gift for Aka.

Linden Author Profile Page said:

\o/ Thank you so much for commenting!

Is it okay to be pleased that my Ray nearly broke your heart? :)

Mal Author Profile Page said:

I am so deeply delighted to see the finished version of this fic. I madly loved what you sent me earlier, and you've done a masterful job of making the canine/lupine characters enormously real.

The story itself is absolutely marvelous, putting a dark, horror spin on the show's whimsical magical realism. I agree with Verushka's comment about Fraser's primal streak, and how beautifully it is expressed in this story. Awesome stuff. Much love.

Linden Author Profile Page said:

Awww, thank you so much! And thank you so much, both for your thoughful and concise beta help, and your enthusiasm - it was much, much needed at the time, and deeply appreciated

Melv Zak said:

Truly enlightening thank you, I do think your current visitors might probably want far more items of this nature keep up the great hard work.

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This page contains a single entry by agent158 published on December 18, 2009 3:07 PM.

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