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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.

Notes:
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.

~ ~ ~ ~

Snow.

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.”

~ ~ ~ ~

THE END

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

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

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