SPOILERS: For "Ladies' Man."
ARCHIVING INFO: May be archived at the main Due South Archive and at the New Ray Archive. Anyone else, please ask first.
DISCLAIMER: Neither Benton Fraser nor Ray Kowalski belong to me. They, and all things related to Due South, belong to Alliance and a bunch of other people. By writing this story, I am rather blatantly infringing on their copyright; however, I can't say that particularly bothers me.
FEEDBACK may be sent to me at either of my two addresses: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. I eagerly await any comments you may have, from constructive criticism to outright praise. Heck, even flames will do -- at least I'll know someone read it!
AUTHOR'S NOTES: "Ladies' Man" has got to be one of my all-time favorite Due South episodes ever. I thought everything about it was extremely well done. I especially felt the last scene was incredibly powerful. This is a rather short story -- it's just shy of 500 words -- but it's my attempt to capture what was going on inside Ray Kowalski's head during the last few minutes of the ep.
Wash me clean
Mend my wounded seams
Cleanse my tarnished dreams
--"Wash Me Clean," k. d. lang.
She thanked him.
It was the last straw.
He'd been doing all right -- well, maybe not all *right*, he'd nearly killed an innocent woman, after all. But she was still alive and, by some miracle, free, so he was managing to hold himself together; and then she thanked him. Him. The guy who screwed her life up big time. Who'd put a piece of paper in his pocket, and turned a suicide into a murder. She'd spent the last eight years on death row because of him, and now she was *thanking* him for it.
He walked out of there in a daze. He couldn't remember leaving the house, but he must have, because he was outside now. He stumbled down the steps, not really seeing where he was going, just knowing he had to get *away*. Away from her, away from that house, away from the memory of his failure, his guilt, away from the helpless shame he'd felt at the sight of Beth Botrelle's picture in the newspaper, under the headline "To Be Executed."
Just away. Before he lost it. Lost himself.
He wasn't going to make it.
And suddenly there was Fraser. Fraser, his friend, calm strength and serenity, standing straight and tall like a tree -- an anchor, solid and substantial and real, in the midst of the swirling, bottomless, chaotic storm of his own emotions. Dependable. Secure. Safe.
The car door shut, sealing the two of them away from the rest of the world. And he knew he could let himself fall. Fraser would catch him.
Ray started to cry.
He hadn't cried since he was a kid -- he was a guy, after all, and guys just didn't do things like that. That was for small children, girls, or mama's boys; *real* men didn't cry. And yet, here he was, bawling his eyes out.
Fraser reached over and rubbed his shoulder, silently offering both support and comfort, and Ray felt a flash of pure, unadulterated affection for the mountie, who accepted people as he found them and who never sneered if they failed to fit the roles they were supposed to play. He doubted Fraser even knew such roles existed.
But Ray knew. Knew it all too well. And sitting in the car weeping like a baby was definitely not in the script.
But this pain was just too much. He'd tried ignoring it, denying it, running away from it, turning it into anger -- none of it had worked. It was still there, pressing in on him, suffocating him. He was just . . . tired. So tired of trying to be strong, of trying to be macho, of pretending that nothing ever got to him. So he stopped. Stopped pretending. He just let it all go, and exorcised his demons.
And let his tears wash him clean.
Well, that's it. Let me know what you think at firstname.lastname@example.org.