The Fine Art of Cartography
Author's Notes: Inspired by the ds_flashfiction Sexual Exploration challenge and a documentary on the Northwest Passage. Big hugs to ToraK for the beta.
The science of cartography has always fascinated him, the process of learning and defining a landscape, exploring and discovering new features. Making private maps of previously uncharted wilderness or finding passages that are his alone. They belong to him after that, are a part of his own inner landscape in a way that only something deeply understood and known can be.
All his knowledge of the art, all the care and patience that Fraser has learned over the years, he uses now in mapping Ray. He intends to learn every landmark, every hidden path, every shift and change of this new territory.
The discovery of Ray's body is pleasurable and effortless. Everything lies near the surface, easily found and marked by a determined explorer. The planted flag of Ray's tattoo calls his attention first, declaring as it does that this land has already been understood and claimed, but Fraser is not dismayed. The naming of a place is more often about the imposition of a desire than reality, and he knows there is much left unknown for him to find and claim in turn.
His expeditions chart the hollows sheltered in the lee of Ray's hipbones, the ridge of his collarbone, the sharp sloped edges of shoulder blades, the shallow ripple of ribs, and the shape and long, linked curve of his vertebrae. His tongue and fingers track the path of Ray's sweat, memorizing the sea-salt taste, finding their way over and between gentle gradients of muscle, probing further and deeper until Ray shakes and surges beneath him as though caught in a seismic tremor. He seeks out shadowed valleys and hard, hot flesh and learns the touches that make Ray twist and turn. All of it, every contour, line and motion, is carefully set down, known and safely held within him.
Despite their near equality of scars, his own body seems a blank wilderness in comparison to Ray's. His greater bulk smoothes out his topography like a blanket of snow, dense muscles and layers of flesh covering up all but the most extreme landmarks. It is a difference between them that he knows carries beyond the mere physical. Ray expresses every emotion and thought through his words and body. They are displayed openly, easily read by anyone who cares to (though not necessarily so easily understood) with warning signs clearly posted in advance of hazardous or private areas.
In comparison, Fraser's emotional map resembles one drawn in the Dark Ages, full of confusing marks and notations that trail off into nothing. Vague warnings that "here be monsters" mock travellers with the knowledge of danger but give no useful information. Even to him, it is confusing and devoid of understandable features and it has defeated every previous lover. Every attempt on Fraser's part or theirs to open and define him, to make him known, has ended in disaster. Like the Franklin expedition, they tried to find out his secrets while fighting every step of the way to remain within safe boundaries and impose their reality onto his. Eventually, each gave up trying to reveal him and Fraser had simply remained lost.
As he does in so many things, Ray has taken a different path. As Amundsen did, he opens himself up to a strange new world and accepts it on its own terms. He uses knowledge and instinct to adapt, forging new routes fearlessly, finding ways no-one else had ever thought to try and so succeeding where they had failed.
Fraser is being thoroughly charted now, every landmark noted and claimed for Ray's eyes only to read. He is being explored deeply and attentively, the smallest details are uncovered and learned. For the first time, he feels like someone knows him; that he exists. He finally belongs.
End The Fine Art of Cartography by Janne
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