Beware: God Made the World in Six Days

This is the revised version of this story.

Summary: Fraser is on the side of the angels.

Fandom/Genre: Due South AU
Pairings: Het and slash pairings, mostly Fraser/RayK; pants come off, but no explicit fucking.
Warning: Some violence, and a certain quality of creepiness/horror. No death, no permanent injury; see note #2 below.

1) Thanks to Xtricks and Isiscolo for their questions & comments on the previously-posted version, which sparked these revisions; and to Joandarck for proofreading the final draft.
2) For the Cuff ‘Em, Vamp ‘Em, or Just Make ‘Em Come Already Kink and Cliché Multi-Fandom Challenge, using the prompts prison scenarios, powers of attraction, and piercings or body jewelry.
3) This story goes with the Dirty Heathens Map.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Beware: God Made the World in Six Days
by lipsum

~ ~ ~ ~

It ended with a hand-to-hand struggle at an abandoned farmhouse on the edge of the DMZ. They drove past at first, but Ray saw the house at the end of a dirt road, two kilometers east of the highway. “Fraser, do you think–“

Fraser leaned across the clutch to look out the window on Ray’s side of the sedan. “Yeah. I think he’s there.”

While Ray radioed the fugitive squad in the two vans behind them, Fraser thumbed the transmitter on his collar and subvocalized a quick report to Her. He received a brief reply: no additional directions, but that was to be expected, as She rarely interfered in the details of Fraser’s work.

“Did She say how Gardino’s doing?”

“He’s conscious and speaking,” Fraser said.

When Fraser waved the fugitive squad to a halt fifty meters from the house, Martland, Judson, Ritchie, and Hall tumbled out of the sedan and loped headlong down the dirt road, barking excitedly. “I have a message from Louis Gardino,” Fraser said, catching the men’s eyes. “He said, ‘Bring this lost sheep in safely for the Lord.'”

Ray crossed himself. The other men– none of them knew the fallen detective personally– nodded, some of them saying, “Amen.” Fraser pointed for the squad to break apart and circle the house, and Fraser and Ray went in, sidearms drawn.

Kowalski had dropped Gardino’s gun at least thirteen hours ago, but they couldn’t be sure he didn’t have another. Until they heard him shouting and running up the stairs: “Stupid dogs, stupid fucking dogs!” Fraser and Ray scrambled into an upper room just as Kowalski disappeared through the window, sliding down the porch roof and rolling off its edge.

“Got him!” shouted one of the deputies. Ignoring Ray’s, “Benny, no, not the window!” Fraser grabbed Ray’s arm and dragged him in Kowalski’s wake.

It took an endless six minutes to subdue Kowalski, which they finally did by piling on him like American football players. Fraser snapped the lead line onto the iron ring that pierced the hollow of Kowalski’s throat and flooded it with juice. Kowalski screamed, his limbs contracting, but Fraser had already turned it off, ending the pain before Kowalski’s nervous system burned out.

He watched Kowalski uncurl, a beaten-dog whine threading softly from Kowalski’s mouth. “I hope you are finished with this futile struggle,” Fraser said, “as it may appear quite prejudicial to the Board of Behavioral Oversight. At this time, I must in the name of God and the Holy Dominion of Canada place you under arrest for the crimes of occupational abandonment, unauthorized travel, resisting arrest, assault upon a police officer, theft of a firearm, carrying a firearm without a permit, negligent disposal of a firearm, and, er, several counts of petty theft which will be enumerated to you in writing at a more convenient time.”

He looked to Ray next– Ray was nursing a freshly-blackened eye– and then to the fugitive squad. “Gentleman, can anyone explain why none of you fired upon our malfeasant?”

The squad captain jerked his chin at a freckled young deputy, who ducked in embarrassment. “Kowalski landed on the kid. Never saw a clean shot.”

Ray snorted.

Fraser said, “Well, I suppose it’s for the best.”

The squad captain shook his head. “Whatever you say, Inspector.”

~ ~ ~ ~

Two of the deputies took the sedan; Fraser and Ray rode in the van with the fugitive.

In snatches, he had studied Kowalski’s file as they had followed him out of Chicago. Now he studied Kowalski’s face and demeanor, sitting across from him with his wrists shackled. It took considerable overt maladjustment to earn a corrections ring like the one in the base of Kowalski’s neck, but only a few years ago Kowalski had been faithful to God and society; Fraser couldn’t believe him a hardened criminal. He resolved to speak against the usual punishment for shooting a police officer. Sending Kowalski to Them would be a waste of the man’s education and years of service.

“This worked out really great,” Ray said. “We’ll be back in town by the end of the day, and we can go to Little Steve’s confirmation tomorrow.”

Fraser hunched his shoulders. “I was thinking of going into the office. It’s been over a week since I looked in on Turnbull, I shudder to think what he–“

“Fraser, he’s my nephew. I have to be there.”

“Yeah, Fraser, don’t you want to go to your partner’s nephew’s party?”

“You shut up, scumball,” Ray said.

“It might perhaps be more tactful to…” Fraser said, tugging his heavy gold collar.

Kowalski smiled with one side of his mouth. “Even your partner’s family hates you, huh? Ever think about why that–“

Ray sprang across the van and smashed a fist into Kowalski’s jaw.

“Stop!” Fraser rose, grabbing Ray. They both tumbled to the floor as the van stopped.

“Everything all right back there, sir?” The driver peered through the small reinforced window.

“Yes, keep driving,” Fraser said.

Kowalski licked blood from his split lip. “Peachy.”

~ ~ ~ ~

The smithy fitted Kowalski with a pair of wide silver bracelets, which Fraser slaved to the City Hall dormitory before he removed Kowalski’s lead line. “You’ll be given housekeeping duties,” Fraser said. “The cafeteria is beyond this hallway, but since you aren’t authorized to go that far, your meals will be brought to you.” Had he thought about it at all, Fraser would have expected Kowalski to be grateful. But Kowalski had never sweated all day in field or mine– he was a fully-qualified hovercraft technician, as difficult as it was to remember when Kowalski spat curses in Fraser’s wake or flung his dinner tray at Fraser’s head– and his expressed distress at the confinement suggested little awareness of the less physically comfortable accommodations from which he had been spared.

When Fraser spoke to the Board on Kowalski’s behalf, they quickly ruled in favor of his plan to reintegrate Kowalski into society without Their intervention. The next day, he endured the averted eyes of the Vecchio family at the confirmation ceremony and the party that followed. Little Steve gave Fraser a wide smile and a hug. “Did Uncle Ray tell you? I’m going to be a Mountie when I grow up, just like you!”

Maria tugged Little Steve against her side. “You can be a Mountie, baby, but not like Benito Fraser.” Her eyes widened. Fraser’s hand tightened on Ray’s elbow. She added, “I mean– an Inspector, of course that’s a very high rank, very rare. You know.”

The following morning, Fraser finally returned to the RCMP field office. Turnbull’s notion of bureaucracy did conform to Fraser’s standards of completeness and tidiness, so at least he could sort through the past week’s worth of reports from his subordinates with a minimum of confusion. Ray alternated between helping with the paperwork and prowling from the window to the door.

When Fraser had transferred to Chicago in pursuit of his father’s killers, he had known he would have to remain for at least half a year, whatever the outcome of the investigation. But then She had come, the first of Them to make a residence here since the Roaring Twenties.

It would be churlish to complain, but Fraser almost regretted his promotion; he and Ray belonged on the streets, investigating crime directly, as they had done before She singled him out. Today Fraser sat at his desk, pushing papers and interviewing with his subordinates, and in the evening when Ray took to sly sniping at Turnbull, Fraser abandoned his desk, saying, “We should probably feed Kowalski.” This time Ray carried Kowalski’s tray to him while Fraser waited at the end of the hall, but Kowalski aimed his venom at Fraser anyway.

“They always go after the Scottish guy,” Ray said. “Nobody ever looks at the suave Italian. You know, a guy could get a complex.”

“No one doubts your psychological fortitude in the face of many slights, Ray,” Fraser said.

~ ~ ~ ~

Most of the men were home that evening, so Ray easily rounded up a half dozen of them for poker. At Fraser’s murmured urging, Ray invited Kowalski to play as well. Fraser quietly deferred to Kowalski’s sensibilities, sitting with a book as far from Ray as possible.

The next day they had their first glimpse of Kowalski at his new duties. “Oh, good morning, Miss St. Laurent,” Fraser said, emerging into the common room of the bachelor wing.

“–sake, on the men’s side, Louise!” Ray said, overlapping Fraser’s words.

Miss St. Laurent, tidy and perfect in her housekeeping uniform, gestured with the stack of towels in her arms. “Vecchio. You don’t need to protect me. I know you fellows could be scratching yourselves or whatever it is that you do here among yourselves, but I have company.” Kowalski backed out of the linen closet with a footstool and shot Fraser a hostile glare.

At least he didn’t try to spit at Fraser this time.

Over the next few days, Kowalski continued to gallantly shadow Miss St. Laurent every time she entered bachelor quarters. Fraser knew this because Ray asked his sources in building maintenance to keep an eye on them. Fraser didn’t respond to Ray’s muttered threats– Ray could be oddly possessive of women he no longer took to bed– but at Fraser’s initiative they accompanied CPD to the arrest of the Fourth Street black marketeers, which netted them the opportunity for an invigorating rooftop chase.

“You know,” Ray said, shrugging nonchalantly, “when I applied for police academy, I thought my career would be like this. Just like this, all the time. What a sap.”

They hauled the suspect toward the fire escape. Fraser said, “I thought you would find it satisfying. Concrete results– I for one count it a day well spent.”

“That’s because you’re a sap.” As an attempt to distract Ray, it only succeeded for a few days.

Fraser counted another victory when Kowalski accepted a meal tray directly from his hands, saying, “Hey, how come I don’t get dessert?” The following evening when Fraser and Ray returned home early, covered in raw pancake batter, they discovered that Ray could stop worrying about Kowalski’s intentions toward Miss St. Laurent.

Detective Franklin had Kowalski draped over the pool table when Fraser walked into the common room and stopped dead still. Ray walked into Fraser’s back.

Ray shook his head. “That figures,” he said, but he sounded relieved. Fraser watched carefully for several long moments, but Franklin, even in enthusiastic rut, appearing to be taking due care for Kowalski’s safety. Kowalski himself (white-knuckled grip on the edges of the table) offered no resistance, grunting and arching like a beast.

When Ray made impatient noises and jerked his head toward the lounge’s far door, Fraser shut his mouth and followed him.

Later that evening they saw Kowalski on the mezzanine, lighting a cigarette. For a moment Fraser wanted to tell Kowalski to leave; he liked the quiet, the small potted trees, the view of the city from the ornate balustrade against which Kowalski now leaned.

“Oh, I get it,” Ray said. “You and Franklin. Trading favors for smokes.”

“Ray, manners,” Fraser said. Kowalski slanted his eyes at them but said nothing.

“I was kidding. You know, Benny, if I had reason to suspect that someone was turning tricks right here in City Hall, I would have to make an arrest. So I must have been kidding, right? Kowalski gets it. He was just kidding, too, making like this dormitory is a prison or something.”

“The whole fucking city’s a prison,” Kowalski said.

Fraser said, “That’s hardly true, sir–“

“Yeah? Then why don’t you walk around this city freely, Inspector?”

“I do,” Fraser said.

“Believe me, he does. You would cry if you saw how many pairs of shoes I’ve ruined following him into trash heaps–“

“Because you’re always with him.” Kowalski ashed over a dormant annual. “I heard about that. One little grenade lobbed at your back and She decides her personal pet needs his own bodyguard. How long ago was that?”

“Thirty-one months,” Fraser said.

Ray leaned against the balustrade next to Kowalski. “What does that have to do with– what would you call it, ‘Chicago Max Security Institute of Corrections?'”

“Look at what She has done to this town,” Kowalski said.

Ray followed Kowalski’s wave toward the south side, a gap between the buildings revealing concentric rings of new walls, checkpoints, barbed wire. Fraser ran his hand through his hair.

“How do you even know She‘s an angel, huh?” Kowalski sneered. “Because She‘s pretty? Her kind have us slaving our lives away–“

“I don’t have to listen to this,” Ray said, crossing himself. He pushed off the balustrade, walking away, but stopped at three paces, chafing at the limit imposed by his bracelets. He looked at Fraser, who lowered his chin slightly, declining to follow.

Fraser said, “You were a man of faith, once.”

“Still am,” Kowalski said. “I just don’t believe God sent Them.”

“You’ve never met one of Them, have you?”

~ ~ ~ ~

Ray grumbled about it, but Fraser felt that taking Kowalski to see Her was a simple enough step to win the man back from heresy. “His soul is at stake,” Fraser said, and Ray said, “I know, I just hate the way we both get– stirred up, completely squirrelly– it’s ridiculous. You’d think after so much exposure to Her, we’d be used to it by now.”Just inside the door of Her chamber, Kowalski stopped, drawing his breath in. She stood with her back to them, gazing out the window. Fraser felt Her presence like a forty-knot wind at his back; he tightened his grip on Kowalski’s elbow. He and Ray dragged Kowalski to the edge of the dais and let him go.

She turned. Fraser turned his head away, looking at Ray and Kowalski– at the glory of God reflected in their faces.

“Stanley Raymond Kowalski,” She said.

Kowalski groaned and fell to his knees.

“Do you love me?” She said.

“I can’t– ” Kowalski’s lips moved. He leaned forward on his hands. “I… yeah. I do.”

“Do you love God?” She said.

With another groan, he said, “Oh yes, yes, yes…”

She offered him a knife. “Show me.”

It only took a moment, and then Kowalski looked up again, water standing in his eyes. She smiled. He dropped the knife and pressed his hand over the long cut on his wrist.

“Ben,” She said– as always he felt himself spring painfully erect when She spoke his name– “take our lost sheep to the infirmary. I believe his redemption may now be completed in your care.”

“Please,” Kowalski said. “May I touch you?”

“Oh,” She said. “Someday, perhaps.”

Kowalski shook his head like a horse. “Please, oh God, please…”

When Fraser and Ray dragged him out, Kowalski offered no resistance except to crane his neck around for a last look at Her, saying, “Just once, let me…”

“Oh, for Christ’s sake,” Ray said. He propped Kowalski against a wall, pinning his shoulders. Fraser unbuttoned Kowalski’s jeans and licked his tumescent penis. Two hard sucks, and Kowalski shuddered silently, releasing his passion. Fraser spat into a handkerchief. Spatters of Kowalski’s blood had darkened his uniform, turning the dark blue to black.

~ ~ ~ ~

After they had seen Kowalski safely to the infirmary, Ray steered them down a peach-colored hallway to an office bustling with housekeepers and a few ladies of the secretarial staff. Fraser lingered by Miss Besbriss’s desk, making polite conversation and attempting to shift himself subtly within his uniform trousers to accommodate the lingering… effects of their visit with Her. “Hey, Miss Thatcher, I need to speak to you,” Ray said, pouncing on the head of housekeeping the moment her door opened.

Fraser followed, but stopped outside the threshold and let the door close in his face.

Miss Besbriss looked him up and down, not flirtatiously, and appeared to struggle for the dropped thread of their conversation. “So…”

“Is something amiss?” Fraser said.

“No…” Miss Besbriss said.

“May I help you in some way? Perhaps–“

“How short is your tether?” she said. “Does it hurt?”

Fraser realized that he had more-or-less slumped against the door of Miss Thatcher’s office. He straightened his posture. “Two meters. And yes, it hurts very much– but only for Ray.”

The door opened. “Benny, did you want?”

“No, thank you.”

Ray turned to Miss Thatcher. “So that’s it. Thanks.”

They returned to bachelor quarters via the mezzanine, where Martland and Hall were tussling over a bone. In the far corner below an undersized evergreen, Ritchie and Judson slept in a heap. Fraser waited outside beside their door while Ray paced inside; for a few minutes Fraser watched the dogs and missed Diefenbaker intensely.

But when he had lost Dief’s companionship, he’d gained Ray’s.

When Fraser went inside, Ray said, “Sure you don’t want Thatcher to send someone for you?” He waved toward their phone.

Fraser declined the suggestion. He removed his boots and his clothing above the waist, lay down on his bed, and opened his trousers.

Beautiful, she had never been anything but beautiful to him, even before They took her and she became– Herself. But better to think of Her as She was now, than of how she had looked at him then.

He was aware that Ray now also had lain down and was whispering his private prayers, but Fraser’s eyes were closed, his wrist pressed to his mouth. He pulled gently on his prick: Her eyes had been so beautiful today, and Kowalski had loved Her as She was due, and Fraser’s lips ran across the long scars on the inside of his wrist.

The mezzanine door opened as Fraser trembled with passion, and a sweet-faced young blonde in the housekeeping service uniform looked at Fraser and brightened for a only a moment before Fraser’s seed spilled over his hand.

“Oh, no, why did you start without me?” she said.

Ray said, “Not him, me.”

Fraser was thinking about the taste of Kowalski, still in his mouth, but he looked at the girl, at Ray.

Ray was gripping his sheets, not touching himself. “I’m Ray,” he said.

“Hello, I’m Ida,” the girl said, raising her skirt and climbing onto the bed.

Fraser rolled onto his side, propped his head on his hand, and watched Ray wrap himself around her, loosening her corset with his teeth while she giggled and wiggled.

Certainly, service to Her had its inconveniences– much as he loved Ray, sometimes Fraser missed walking in the woods, miles from anyone– but on the whole he couldn’t imagine why anyone would believe that Their reign on Earth was anything but God’s divine love.

~ ~ ~ ~

Wednesday, Fraser and Ray crouched over a trail of dead cockroaches and dried rat droppings, debating whether insects of the order Blattodea were a part of nature’s glorious cycle or evidence of Satan’s creepy sense of humor.

“Consider Ampulex compressa for example,” Fraser said, scooping rat droppings into an evidence bag. “It’s a wasp that seems to paralyze the part of a cockroach’s brain which controls either motility or the flight response, rides the cockroach to its nest, and lays its eggs inside the cockroach’s body cavity–“

“Oh my God!” Ray said. “For the love of Christ, do not tell me whatever you’re about to tell me! And wash your hands. Disgusting!”

Fraser ducked his head, smiling. She had changed them, yes, but not entirely.

After another long work day, Fraser played guitar in the common room, some of the men singing along; Ray played pool.

Kowalski watched, rolling his eyes at the hymns and slouching near the pool table, until Franklin pushed Kowalski over the back of the couch and took him roughly, the other men encouraging and stroking themselves, or continuing at cards or pool according to the direction of their fancy.

After Franklin finished, another made to climb on Kowalski, but Fraser said, “Perhaps you should ask him.” The others whipped around– he realized that he’d allowed too much irritation into his voice. He leaned on the couch beside Kowalski’s dangling head and arms to say quietly, “Are you all right?”

“‘M good,” Kowalski said.

“Did you want… them… to do this?”

“‘S okay,” Kowalski said, and moved in an odd way that Fraser decoded as an upside-down shrug.

“You don’t care…?”

“Kinda. I’d, uh, like to at least get my rocks off. Don’t care who–“

“This won’t do,” Fraser said.

“It’ll do just fine.”

“He’s had enough,” Fraser said aloud. He drafted Ray to help get Kowalski to their room. Kowalski blinked at Fraser, smiled weakly. Then with a shake of his head he seemed to decide; he leaned on Ray. “You guys gonna finish me?” he said, shimmying his hips.

“No… thanks,” Ray said, disentangling himself.

Kowalski put his arms around Fraser’s shoulders. “Do you wanna fuck me, Big Blue? Give it to me hard? Show me how hard–“

“Whatever, Kowalski, just shut up,” Ray said, flopping on his bed and pressing a pillow over his ears.

Fraser kissed Kowalski.

“Oh,” Kowalski said. “So you kiss on the mouth.”

Fraser stripped Kowalski’s shirt off. “This won’t do. You can’t just let anyone in here do that to you.”

“All right,” Kowalski said, getting on Fraser’s bed. “No one else but you. That what you want?”

Fraser climbed on top of him, stopped him from turning over.

“What do you want?” Kowalski said.

Fraser held his face between his hands and kissed him.

~ ~ ~ ~


His hands on her elbows, sliding up her arms to her shoulders. Her endless eyes, shining, her mouth, promising. He couldn’t make himself stop kissing her.

His lanyard around her wrists. She shouted, struggled–

A protuberance at her breastbone– a sharp, shining limb piercing her from the inside, opening her– its faceted eyes passing over him as its heavy exoskeleton emerged from her body.

(Her endless eyes)–

“Hey, hey, wake up,” Kowalski said. His arms wrapped around Fraser, who pressed his wet eyes against Kowalski’s shoulder.

~ ~ ~ ~

“Look, there’s nothing brave or sacred about getting slaughtered for Them. You ask me, it’s just stupid,” Kowalski said, so Fraser and Ray took Kowalski to Fort Sheridan where the young soldiers were kitted up in brown fatigues on their way to the front. Fraser had to explain himself to the youngsters; RCMP weren’t common here in the south.”The dress uniform is blue, for the Emperor…”

~ ~ ~ ~

Fraser’s consciousness slowly surfaced. Ray and Kowalski were talking quietly.

“What were we before They came? Savages. Our most impressive invention was the bayonet. What a bunch of losers.”

“We invented the steam engine. Locomotives, steam boats… I mean us, men. Men from a country where They don’t meddle.”

“And I’m the Emperor of France,” Ray said, grinning. “Those heathens wouldn’t ever have thought of steam-powered machines if They hadn’t brought us the horseless carriage, the hover pod–“

~ ~ ~ ~

Fraser licked Kowalski’s jaw, kissed his throat, sucked on his adam’s apple. He caressed Kowalski’s nipples with his thumb and lipped at the heavy ring that pierced Kowalski’s throat. He traced the edge of it against Kowalski’s skin, slipped his tongue through it, lifted it–

Kowalski had gone rigid.

“Sorry,” Fraser said, and kissed Kowalski’s throat again. Meaning only to distract him, Fraser said, “I find it curious that you tried to run away, even given that you’d lost your faith.”

“Why wouldn’t I run?”

“Your dossier. You have close friends. That librarian, Miss Stella… you left her behind.”

Kowalski grimaced. “Yeah. But go or stay, you lose either way. So I left.”

Days later, as they played fetch with the dogs, Fraser said casually, “How did you get past the guards, anyway?” Every day he fought with the temptation to take Kowalski directly to their room when they returned from work. More and more often he found himself thinking of Kowalski’s mouth, his hands, sucking those long fingers.

Kowalski grinned wolfishly. “Have you ever heard of an ‘open sesame’?”

“You mean a device that can key any electronic gate and leave no record in the gate’s log. There are rumors.”

Ray said, “Come one, you’re winding us up, right? They don’t really exist.”

“Yeah,” Kowalski said, “but a guy can dream, you know?” He threw a frisbee at Martland, who knocked it off the mezzanine. Everyone scrambled to the edge to watch it tumble down twelve flights to the street.

“Obviously you weren’t going to run to the United States,” Fraser continued.

“Obviously, huh?”

“They speak English there. Do you speak English, Kowalski?”

“You’ve memorized my doss– my file, you tell me.”

“It isn’t an easy language.”

Kowalski smiled. “You’re just repeating what other people say about it, aren’t you? You’re anglais. I can tell by the accent.”

“I do not have an accent.”

“Yes you do. Where are you from, Toronto?”

Fraser shuddered. “I’ve been to Toronto. Nothing can survive there.”

~ ~ ~ ~

Fraser half-expected Kowalski to bolt when the Louisiana Free State peace delegation stayed in Chicago, but he didn’t. Fraser received a reprimand from Superintendant Gerard for “running around in the street like a flatfoot”; Turnbull, who could normally be counted on to purse his lips in disapproval every time Fraser left the office, was inspired to comment on the injustice. “It isn’t as if you have to contend with a free press like those vulgar Americans do.”

That evening they caught Kowalski lying on Fraser’s bed, listening to Radio Free Canada. Kowalski sat mute, hands folded between his knees, while Ray yelled, “Where did you get this?” and Fraser smashed the receiver and headset.

~ ~ ~ ~

Kowalski grunted, looking surprised, when Fraser straddled him. “You– why?” Kowalski said.

Fraser sank down, taking Kowalski’s full length, sucking air through his teeth. “Just– just move, please. Touch me, touch my– yes.”

Later, Fraser murmured into Kowalski’s skin, “What do you think those heretics on the radio could possibly know? You’ve seen Her, you know what They are–“

Kowalski said, “I don’t know anything, and neither do you.”

Fraser tightened his arms around Kowalski.

“Yeah, I saw Her, and that threw me. She‘s– I couldn’t have imagined what it was gonna be like, seeing one of Them. But that don’t mean She‘s an angel. No, you listen to me. The Bible says the Lord gave man dominion over the land and the beasts–“

“On the sixth day, yes.”

“–Don’t it seem wrong to you, then, that we aren’t in charge anymore?”

“God never gave us dominion over the heavens, Kowalski, nor over the heavenly beings.”

“Is She a heavenly being?” Kowalski traced the scar on Fraser’s arm. “She did this to you, like She did me, didn’t She? Does that seem like the work of an angel? Seems more like the Devil’s work–“

“Stop!” The girl from housekeeping tumbled out of Ray’s bed, scrabbling for her dress. “I don’t have to listen to this!”

“Ida, they’re just talking,” Ray said, sitting up.

“Talk, talk, talk– it’s blasphemy!” She left their room through the door to the courtyard, Ray on her heels offering placation, though he had to stop only two steps outside, at the limit of his tether.

Half-rising, Fraser said, “Ray, do you want me to…”

“No, forget it,” Ray said, coming back inside.

Fraser settled down into Kowalski’s embrace. “What happened to your faith?”

“My Dad…” Kowalski looked away. “He, uh, he worked really hard all his life, taught me everything. A few years ago, my parents were ‘retired’.”

“They’re in a better place.”

“Don’t you understand? They killed them.”

Fraser kissed the nape of Kowalski’s neck. “They took their souls up to heaven.”

“You don’t know that. You don’t even know if it’s true what they say, that They walk the earth in the bodies of men.”

Fraser pressed his cheek against Kowalski’s shoulder. “Oh, but They do. The City Overseer of Chicago…”

“I saw Her. She was never human.”

Fraser closed his eyes. “Yes, she was. They take criminals, you see. She was… someone I arrested.”

~ ~ ~ ~

On the rare occasions that Fraser and Ray took Kowalski out of City Hall, they slaved Kowalski’s bracelets to Fraser’s collar. They attended a performance of Shakespeare in the park, though Fraser noticed little of it, watching emotions come and go on Kowalski’s face. He wanted to touch Kowalski, but there were women and children present.

As they walked back home, Kowalski took Fraser’s hand and yanked him sideways into an alley for a long kiss.

“This is getting to be torture,” Ray muttered.

~ ~ ~ ~

Kowalski wrapped himself in Fraser’s old brown uniform coat, one of the narrower ones that he couldn’t wear anymore. Kowalski smiled, playing with a button. Fraser swallowed.

“Can I keep it?” Kowalski said.

~ ~ ~ ~

Ray sat on the mezzanine with a book. Fraser stayed in a chair by the door. With it shut between them, Fraser felt bizarrely naked, bereft, incomplete. “Tell me something about your life before,” Fraser said at random.

Kowalski stood at the sideboard of Fraser and Ray’s room, his back to Fraser, making tea. “My dad taught me to work with my hands,” he said. “I used to take my toys apart and put them back together, so Dad got this idea I could be a mechanical engineer. He was pretty disappointed when I dropped out of the eight-year course and switched to the six-year one. After that he, uh, well, we still talked, we just didn’t, you know, talk.”

He brought the tea on a tray, setting it on Fraser’s bed near the chair, and handed Fraser a cup. “Finally, my mom and Stella ganged up on him.”

The tea had far too much sugar. Fraser swallowed it quickly. He struggled to focus on the conversation. Kowalski wasn’t drinking his tea, just talking about, talking about– “You… you used me,” Fraser said. His tongue felt furry.
“What did you expect?”

Fraser’s teacup fell from his fingers. That was the last thing he remembered.

~ ~ ~ ~

He thumbed his collar the moment he awoke, subvocalizing.

No answer. “Victoria?” he whispered. Nothing.

His searching fingers discovered at least two panels open along the collar’s face, and the latch– open. He slipped the collar off, sitting up, his torso lightened without it. Its delicate circuitry, exposed and in some places ripped out, meant nothing to him, but he knew from its weight in his hands that some pieces must be missing.

Dear God, where was Ray?

He flung the door open. Neither Ray nor the dogs were on the mezzanine. Ray could be anywhere.

He shivered. Find Ray, or…?

As he ran to the elevator, Franklin shouted, “What’s the emergency?” but Fraser didn’t spare any breath for a reply. The elevator was open already.

Kowalski had contacts in the underworld. What were the limits of their technology? Where would he go?

Fraser hailed a taxi. “Union station,” he said.

~ ~ ~ ~

The troops had nearly all boarded the train, Kowalski among them in Fraser’s brown RCMP uniform.

Fraser sprinted across the platform, collided with Kowalski in a lateral interception: oof!— Kowalski grappled with him on the ground– obscene catcalls from the soldiers– Kowalski’s hand shoved into Fraser’s pocket?

And before Fraser could get another grip on Kowalski, he felt a pull on his arm, Kowalski helping Fraser to his feet. With a whuff and a rhythmic clatter, the train started to roll.

Shaking free of Kowalski’s touch, Fraser said, “You can’t go.”

“You going to stop me?” Kowalski backed away. “You going to arrest me again?”

Arrest him. Turn him over to Her, and no more second chances. Fraser’s mouth opened to shape the words, but he remained frozen.

“Hey, there!” Kowalski shouted to the enlisted men leaning out the door of an approaching car; he extended an arm, leapt, swung up into the car with their help– green boys from infantry, fooled by the false military decorations Kowalski had added to the uniform.

“Come with me,” Kowalski shouted over the train’s gathering roar.

Fraser glanced toward the station. Ray, gun in hand, running through the terminal toward the platform at the head of a cadre of Chicago police.

“Fraser, come with me. You know I’m right!” Kowalski shouted.

Fraser sprinted.

~ ~ ~ ~

“I’m so sorry. I shot you. I… Franklin had the train stopped. Every soldier aboard has been questioned. Some of them remember a guy who looked like Kowalski, but no one saw where he went. He got away.” Later Fraser couldn’t remember when they’d discussed it, but he knew that they had. He slept, woke, slept, woke. Ray– always there, his bracelets functional again– let Martland, Judson, Ritchie, and Hall into his room. The puppies, in the style of their sire, charmed the nurses who came and went.

As the haze of analgesics faded from his mind, Fraser tried to force himself to think of practical things, of what he should do next. He found what remained of this clothes and effects from that night in the tall maple wardrobe in his hospital room.

“What do you say we go up north to your Dad’s cabin for a while, put this whole Kowalski thing behind us?”

“You hated my father’s cabin,” he said, refolding the trousers. His fingers brushed against something in the folds of his coat.

Fraser sprinted across the platform, collided with Kowalski in a lateral interception: oof!— Kowalski grappled with him on the ground– obscene catcalls from the soldiers– Kowalski’s hand shoved into Fraser’s pocket?

“No, I just hated having to go outside to go to the can. Which brings me to this–” Ray showed him a catalogue of bathroom fixtures. A guilt-offering.

And before Fraser could get another grip on Kowalski, he felt a pull on his arm, Kowalski helping Fraser to his feet. With a whuff and a rhythmic clatter, the train started to roll. “Ray, you don’t have to do this.” The thing in his pocket was an oddly-shaped, unfinished-looking device, gleaming gold like Fraser’s collar– no. Two devices.

“So where do you buy lumber in the Northwest Territories, anyway?”

–collided with Kowalski– hand shoved into Fraser’s pocket?

“You know I’m right!”

“You cut it,” Fraser said.

“Wow. You know how to do that? I’ll have to go buy an axe.”

–hand in his pocket–

Open sesame. Every door in Benton’s mind opened at once onto a long vista of the hard road ahead. “I have two axes,” he said, smiling. “Two.”

~ ~ ~ ~


~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Footnote: Martland, Judson, Ritchie, and Hall are named after John Diefenbaker’s Supreme Court appointees.

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