Promises To Keep by Elementalv

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Title: Promises To Keep
Miss Zedem
Ray Kowalski/Benton Fraser
My beta described this as "wibble-inducing." I leave it to the reader to decide if that's a good thing or a bad thing.
Vidder's/Author's/Artist's Notes:
Miss Zedem offered "Between the woods and frozen lake/the darkest evening of the year" as a prompt, and the image stuck with me. Happy holidays, Miss Z.; I hope this works for you. Many thanks to Malnpudl, my beta-to-be-named-now.


Whose woods these are I think I know.

His house is in the village though;

He will not see me stopping here

To watch his woods fill up with snow.


Ray stopped at the side of the lake when he finally ran out of steam. It was a good place for him, mostly because it reminded him of one of the smaller parks back in Chicago, the one he used to skate at when he was a kid. Back then, it didn't much matter when the street lights came on, because in the dead of winter, Ray had a ten o'clock curfew. Him and a bunch of the guys would head out straight after dinner to get to the ice before the kids from three blocks over and to the north showed up, because everyone knew that whoever got to the ice first had home team advantage. Everyone claimed it was a big race to get there, but the way it ended up, they usually switched off every week, because where was the fun in always having the advantage?


His breathing slowed down a little, which was good, because what kind of stupid fuck went running after sunset in the subarctic? Other than himself, he didn't think too many people were at that level of idiot. Of course, he didn't used to think he was that dumb either, but the last couple of days had been a real eye-opener for him, and he realized at last that yes, he could in fact be that stupid. He just hoped Fraser wouldn't tell Vecchio, because he probably wouldn't live that shit down anytime soon.


My little horse must think it queer

To stop without a farmhouse near

Between the woods and frozen lake

The darkest evening of the year.


Diefenbaker woofed once, his bark soft in the dark, and Ray said, "Yeah, I know. But thanks for coming out."


He woofed again, and Ray said, "Yeah. Got it. Two donuts when we get back."


The nice thing was that because of his recent stupidity, Dief was hanging around more often instead of heading off to look for someplace to die on his own, which was bullshit as far as Ray was concerned, and he didn't hesitate to tell Dief that. Fraser kept saying that's what wolves liked to do, go off alone when it was time, and Ray always countered that with the fact that Dief was only half wolf, so he could damn well do them the courtesy of hanging around to die, so they wouldn't always wonder. Dief usually chimed in at that point with something about the mystique of wolves, but Ray always waved off that stupidity, because yeah, it was stupid.


Wolves -- and people, for that matter -- shouldn't go off alone to die. Almost everyone had family waiting for them, so it was only right to let that family say goodbye at the right time. No matter what.


"Damn it," Ray said, kicking at a patch of snow and ending up flat on his ass as a result. The Northern Lights flared overhead, and Ray shouted, "God DAMN it!"


He gives his harness bells a shake

To ask if there is some mistake.

The only other sound's the sweep

Of easy wind and downy flake.


Dief nosed at him and woofed again, and Ray put his arm around his neck. "Yeah. I'm fine, buddy. How about you? You okay?"


In response, Dief started licking Ray's ear, which, yeah, just as gross as it always was, and Ray knew from gross. When he was a kid, he'd had this cockapoo named McQueen. He was the sweetest dog ever, but he had breath that could make a corpse wake up long enough to run away, and he liked to get right in Ray's face to lick him all over. Vet never could figure out why his breath was so bad. His teeth were good, and nothing else was wrong, so they chalked it up to "Who knows?"


In the end, it didn't matter. Ray loved that dog like crazy, no matter how bad his breath was, and McQueen lived to the ripe old age of thirteen before -- damn it -- wandering off one night to die alone.


Goddamn dog.


"You," Ray said, grabbing Dief by the ear so he'd look at Ray's face, "you don't get to go off to die alone. You hear me?"


After a moment, Dief sagged a little and gave a quiet woof.


"Good. You know how bad that is, never knowing what happened? It sucks."


"I'm sure it does," said Fraser, scaring the shit out of Ray, who could have sworn Fraser wasn't due back for another day.


The woods are lovely, dark and deep.

But I have promises to keep,

And miles to go before I sleep,

And miles to go before I sleep.


Ray scrambled to his feet and started brushing the snow off his ass. "What are you doing out here?"


Fraser cocked his head and said, "Looking for you, of course."


"Oh. Yeah. Well, uh, me and Dief, we went for a run."


"After sunset on the coldest night of the year?"


"Shut up," Ray muttered. He didn't want to know why Fraser had followed him out, didn't even want to think about it. He couldn't.


"Mum called," Fraser said, killing Ray's last chance to pretend nothing was wrong.


"Oh?" He bit his lip and asked, "So, uh --"


"Dad came out of surgery and will be in intensive care for a day or two before going to the general care ward." Fraser came close enough to put his arms around Ray. "The doctors think he'll be fine. He won't be home for Christmas, but he might be there by New Year's Day."




"Yes, Ray, really."


And that was when Ray finally lost it a little, because the last two days had been sheer hell, and he couldn't take another thing in. Fraser, bless him, just held on and let Ray cry himself out.


A while later, Fraser said, "I've made plane reservations for the day after tomorrow. No guarantees that we'll get there for Christmas --"


"Wait," Ray said. "'We?' I thought you couldn't get time off."


"The RCMP always makes every effort to accommodate requests for leave to deal with family emergencies," Fraser said gently. "I think Dad's hospitalization counts, don't you?"


"Yeah," Ray said with a shaky laugh. "Yeah. I guess it does. What about Dief?"


"I've spoken with Hildy Two Feathers, and she's agreed to board him until we return." Fraser looked down at Dief and said, "I trust you'll wait until then as well?"


Dief woofed once, and Fraser nodded in satisfaction. "Excellent. And now, Ray, I think it's time to return to the cabin, don't you?"


"Yeah," he said. "My feet aren't too happy with me."


"Neither am I," said Fraser, "but we can deal with that another time. Shall we?"


The poem is Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening by Robert Frost.

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malnpudl said:

Makes my heart all achy... but in the good way. I love this a lot.

agent203 Author Profile Page said:

Thanks again for the speed beta. You're the wind beneath my wings...

Aww, thank you, Santa! I love this poem, and I love how you've incorporated the mood of it into this story. Fraser being there for Ray, and Dief looking out for him as well is just so sweet, balancing the sad feeling nicely. Wibble-inducing, yes - but definitely in a good way!

Thank you very kindly, Santa!

Oh, this is so melancholy in the best way. No, Dief, you can't go off to die alone! *sniff* And poor Ray, worried about his dad... Beautiful use of the Frost poem; I know I'll never read it again without thinking of this.

Oh, and FWIW in my head this all has a happy ending. :)

Luzula Author Profile Page said:

Oh, I like how Ray's thoughts wander around, to skating and then to Dief and to his old dog, before we finally find out what happens. This was heartachey in a good way, as Mal says.

Lucifuge5 said:

Interesting fic, Anonymous Author. It was somber without turning out completely hopeless. Yet very real to the characters (oh, Dief, do NOT die alone!) and the passage of time.

I wibbled a bit, but this fic was quite worth it.

I'm so glad that Ray has Fraser, otherwise this would be too difficult for him to deal with. I love the mood, and Fraser's care of Ray. \o/

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This page contains a single entry by agent203 published on December 24, 2009 11:45 AM.

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