Disclaimer: I do not own Fraser, either of the Rays or Dief. I intend no copyright infringement to Alliance.
Author's Notes: I'd like to thank Cerise for an incisive, yet kind beta, and Eloise Fraser for encouragement and beta.
Story Notes: Dark fic, not the usual Fraser.
My voice echoes in my ears. "You have to trust me." I was glad that Ray didn't ask me why or how, since at the moment I couldn't think of one good reason for him to do so.
I feel no shame for the decisions I made; I believe sincerely that everything that I did was in Ray's best interests, even when he looked at me in frustration, even when I knew I was taking advantage. Even when I spent last night reveling in his presence like a young boy excited about his first sleepover.
It's far too late to be sitting on my bed, feet firmly planted on the floor, ramrod straight until I finally let myself slump, tired and again alone. This late night moment seemed so far away during the dusk, when Ray's quick sarcasm filled the usual silence that hangs over the Consulate, and his banter distracted me from my feelings of unease.
Dief walks in and walks out; he senses more than I'd like him to, not all of it flattering to me. His acquiescence in my plan to keep Ray safe, to keep Ray here, comforts me, because Diefenbaker only complies with commands if they are orders he would have given himself.
Dief can sense it when my anger and fear and frustration boils up, overwhelms me. He's been beside me through it all. The first time I lost my way, lost sight of duty, bewitched by dreams of warmth and moist, perfumed possibilities. The first time I realized that I had betrayed myself and others, allowing my naivet and desperation to mingle with the deadliest sort of poison.
The first night out of the hospital, Ray Vecchio pacing and refusing to meet my eyes, my wolf limping from wounds long healed, I realized that I had failed. I had forsaken duty and loyalty and suddenly they meant nothing more to me than words. I did not grieve for their loss, but rather for the disappointment and confusion in the eyes of those I loved.
Dief scratched at the door while I sat in the small, dingy bathroom, confronting my life for the first time in months, razor in hand, almost wishing that Ray Vecchio's aim had been either a little bit better or a little bit worse. I desperately wished that the decision had been taken out of my hands, and I watched as the sparkle of the razor met my arm.
I hadn't quite decided what to do in my head, but the slice of the blade distracted me, Dief whimpering and somehow aware of my turmoil. The blood welling up, the sting of the cut and I was crying, salt mixing with salt as I made two more short, shallow cuts.
I couldn't explain it then, and I can't explain it now, although the research I've done uses harsh words like mutilation and rage. All I knew is that I didn't feel so bad anymore, the knots in my stomach and lump in my throat disappearing in the bloody wake of that blade.
I'd stopped, of course, mopped up and went to bed, heart pounding and hands shaking, yet somehow at peace. If I was unable to sleep, I could blame that on the throb of the healing bullet wound or the unaccustomed effects of the painkillers in my system.
The next day I sat, unwilling to admit it, unable to repeat it, but craving the sting, the punishment, for the scars I'd seen on other people's faces. The forced joviality, the scramble to justify the fact that I, epitome of all that they held innocent and trustworthy, had toppled, soft and rotten with the stink of corruption.
Since those tense few days, when all that I had to redeem me were red serge and redder blood, I've worn my mask well. It fits, these days, and I had mostly given up the idea of there being anything more for me than loneliness and duty. The rage inside me faded, and I took refuge in the shell of the person I used to be.
Then my Rays were exchanged and this kinetic masterpiece of cynicism and innocence took the place of my friend. The mere idea of anyone substituting one Ray for the other is both bizarre and strangely amusing to me, and I would find myself hard pressed to find two more different men.
This new Ray, as I cannot help but think of him, is so fragile and damaged and strong at the same time. I think that he too has tasted the sort of loneliness that bears no relation to how many people you've surrounded yourself with, but depends rather on your self perception and how much you let others see.
I wonder, sometimes, if he knows how much those pats and rubs or the brush of our shoulders inflame me, make me want so much more than quicksilver smiles and effervescent outbursts. But this Ray would not be so cruel or harsh as to tease, so I have to believe that he doesn't understand.
The responsibility that he has laid on my shoulders is staggering, and the trust he's exhibited is far more than I'd have thought warranted. This bright and frightened man believes that I can help him.
I must not fail him, I know that. I have a plan, but it hinges on luck and human fallacy, something I'm not acquainted with, except to the depth of my own shortcomings. I smiled, however, played the bumbling fool, the slick and subtle foreigner, and set the stage as best I could.
Ray is sleeping now, I draped the blanket over him, pleased that he'd finally found some respite from his self-doubts. I am not so fortunate tonight, haunted by twin demons - the possibility of failure and the gnawing ache to assuage my loneliness in Ray.
Slowly, dreading the lack of control yet craving the possibility of peace, I find myself drawing the razor across my arm, almost in the crook, far enough up that I can push my henley up and no one will notice. The sting brings me solace, but the swirling lack of control makes me dizzy, faint with disappointment and anger.
If only I didn't have to be alone. If only I didn't have to be polite and kind and far too forgiving. If only I could ask for what I wanted, courteously and properly, and not run the risk of losing the few things which lend me my stability.
Each fruitless wish emphasized by the sting and drip, until I stop, afraid that Ray will somehow sense the rough rasp of my breathing, the involuntary flinches as I staunch the blood flow. I fear that, more than anything, that he would see my mask drop and know that I am only human, flawed, desolate, and horribly needy.
It's all deja vu now, a dance I've lived dozens of times over. The scorch of the rubbing alcohol, the bandages a necessity for the first day or two and the guilty shame that I'm not so perfect as the image I project.
Finally cleaned up, red long johns on, and I'm stealing out to check on Ray one more time, comforted by his sleeping snuffles, his head pillowed on his hand, and the fact that he seems to have found some peace in sleep. I can't seem to stop myself from reaching out to touch his hair, flattened and oddly disheveled and so soft that I have to wrench my hand away.
Tonight, sleep is elusive, tangled between the adrenaline and my discomfort. I'm praying that my plan works, that I am worthy of his trust. He asked me if it was hard for me to speak of friendship and my knowledge that he was patently incapable of murder.
It was not difficult at all, not when contrasted with my yearning to speak of far more serious things. Things that would shock and disturb my friend, things that I have no right to impose upon him. I could never tell him of long sticky nights, white hot moments when I realize my desire anew. More importantly, I could never explain the lines and scars that have no story other than my own flaws.
As my eyes close and the stinging subsides, my final feeling is one of relief, a relief that overrides the heady loss of control. I can believe, in this dingy late hour that my facade is safe for another day, and even that one day, Ray will be able to appreciate me for more than the mask I wear.