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Due South: The Reaching Out One, part 2A

 See part one for warnings, notes, etc

Part 2: A Land So Wild and Savage

Most of the course Fraser plotted went right over the lakes, to take advantage of the smooth ice. On land, Fraser explained, there would be rocks and trees and logs in the way. The feeling of ice under the sled rails was familiar, but they were in sight of shore most of the time. The tall pines blocked out the horizon. The first hour or so felt almost claustrophobic.


Over the years, Ray had learned to read the land up north of the treeline--to see it as something other than an endless sea of white. He wondered how long it would take him to learn to see this land. Maybe they could canoe it during summer sometime--once he knew what was under the snow, he’d be able to keep his bearings better.

They stopped early, when the sun started to go down, and made camp on the shore. After picketing the dogs, they bored through the ice and set some lines, even though Fraser said this wasn’t one of the best fishing spots. “We might get lucky,” he said. “You never know.”

Back on shore, Fraser put his hand on a tree trunk. “You know what this is?”

“Birch tree?”

“Well, yes. But this scar here is where the bark was removed, probably decades ago. Maybe to repair a canoe, or make a cooking pot, something like that.” He slapped the tree. “Let’s see if we can find a downed tree for firewood.”

Fraser found the tree, a few hundred yards from their campsite, and Ray chopped it up, while Fraser put up the tent and fed the dogs. He was pretty good with an axe, for a city guy. Once they had the fire going, Fraser broke a branch off a spruce tree. “Bark tea--you want some?”

“Yeah, sure. I’ll melt some snow.” Bark tea was one of those things that tasted disgusting in town, but just seemed right on the trail.

“Check the lines, while you’re over there.”

They’d dropped a few lines, at different depths in the water. Ray tugged on them one by one, and on the last, deepest one, pulled up a fat whitefish. “Awesome,” he said admiringly. “Hey, Frase!” He held the fish up and pointed to it.

Fraser looked up from peeling his spruce stick and waved back. “Good! Put the line back in, maybe we’ll get one for breakfast, too.”

He smacked the fish against the ice to stun it before sticking a gloved thumb through the gills and removing the hook. He re-set the line and went back to camp, where Fraser tipped the spruce bark into a pot and started cleaning the fish. “Should we boil this or roast it?”

“Let’s roast it,” Ray answered. When they ate the dried fish in their packs, they’d have to boil it.

“Maybe when we get to one of the better fishing spots, we could set some nets and get enough fish to smoke. That would be fun.”

Fraser did not define fun in the traditional way. “Sure, if you want.” Since Fraser was taking charge of the fish, he dug through the packs for side dishes. “Does couscous go with fish?”

“Yes, excellently.”

He boiled a little water in the cooking pot and added some dehydrated carrots. Once they were cooked, he stirred in the couscous.

The fish was flaky and delicious, even seasoned with nothing but salt and smoke. Ray ate his share with his fingers, licking them when he was done. Putting his plate aside, he stretched out with his head on one of the packs, sipping at his bark tea. Fraser started gathering up the plates. “I’ll get those in a little bit,” he objected.

“It’s no trouble.”

“Well, okay, I’m not gonna fight you for it,” Ray agreed.

“Thank you.” Fraser scrubbed the plates and pot with snow and stowed them back in the packs, then came back and stretched out by the fire, his posture mirroring Ray’s.

Ray watched the fire and waited for Fraser to tell him a story. But Fraser just poked at the embers with a stick and said, “You drew an interesting parallel between oral storytelling and email forwards as a method of transmitting culture,” which Ray eventually figured out was his way of saying it was Ray’s turn to tell something.

“Oh, um, okay. Remember when they had the tsunami in--wherever it was, over in Asia, a few years ago?”


“Did anybody send you the one about the hippo?”

“Mm. I don’t remember it.”

“Just about everybody I know sent it to me, ‘cause there’s a turtle in it.”

“It’s about a hippo and a turtle? Was the turtle stepped on?”

“No, it’s a really big turtle. And a baby hippo. It’s a good story. They made a book of it, with pictures--I got it for one of Frannie’s kids that Christmas it came out. The baby hippo was orphaned--I think his family washed out to sea or something, that part’s kind of sad. But the people there rescued him with boats and stuff, and took him to this animal sanctuary.” Ray was fuzzy on some of the details of the story, so he just made up the parts he couldn’t remember. “The sanctuary didn’t have any other hippos--no, I think they did, but they were grown-up hippos and they figured they wouldn’t want a strange baby. So the only place they had to put ‘im was in with this giant turtle. It was a big pen, and it had a pond, like hippos need, and they were about the same size. Turtle was something like a hundred years old, and he’s far from home--you know how back in sailing-ship days they used to stop on tropical islands to get water, and they’d take these giant turtles with ‘em, sort of fresh meat on the hoof?”

“Yes, I’ve heard of that. The turtles lived on isolated islands and had no fear of humans, and the sailors hunted without thought to preserving a viable breeding population. The practice often led to ecological disaster.”

“Yeah. So that’s the turtle’s story. He’s the only one like him in the entire sanctuary, probably the whole country, and the baby hippo was all on his own, too. The people at the sanctuary probably figured, OK, we’ll put ‘em in there together and probably the turtle’ll mind his own business and the hippo’ll mind his, and once he’s grown up he can go in with the other hippos. But the hippo decided he was gonna make friends with the turtle--maybe he thought it was another hippo ‘cause of the shape, or maybe he’s just a friendly hippo; they don’t know. The turtle was kind of bugged for the first couple days, but then he decided he liked this hippo kid, so he started taking care of him. They’d sleep cuddled up together--that could be ‘cause turtles like heat, I dunno--turtle would show him what kind of plants were good to eat, they’d play together in the water--turtles can be pretty fast in the water. Some people figure the hippo thought the turtle was his mother, some people figure they were just pals. But, you know. One of those things.”

When he finished, Fraser said, “That’s really remarkable. Are you sure this really happened?”


“Most reptiles, including tortoises if I’m not mistaken, don’t raise their young,” Fraser pointed out. “I don’t know how the tortoise would know how to take care of a baby hippopotamus.”

“Yeah, that’s what makes it such a great story. It’s kind of the other way around from that Raven story last night. Sometimes things work out okay even though there’s no good reason for it.”

“Hm,” Fraser said. “Ready to turn in?”

“Yeah, that’d be good.”

Getting ready for bed was Ray’s absolute least favorite part of any day on the trail. Because even though the last thing any sane person would want to do when it was freeze-your-nuts-off cold was strip bare-ass naked and put on different underwear, they had to do it. If they didn’t give their inner layers a chance to air out, the long underwear would turn into a clammy, hypothermia-inducing second skin. Or so Fraser said, anyway--Ray had never tested it. The only thing that made the whole process even faintly bearable was the trick he’d come up with, of warming the new set of underwear over the stove immediately before changing into it. Fraser had complained about the waste of stove fuel on the first trip, but by now he was used to it, and--since warming two sets of clothes didn’t take noticeably more fuel than one--warmed his too.

“Cold, cold, cold, cold,” Ray chanted as he shucked out of his clothes, adding “Fuck that’s cold,” as he hit the “naked” point of the process, “cold, cold, cold, okay, getting toasty now. Nice toasty underwear. Yikes.” He dived into the bedroll to put on his socks.

“Does the chanting help?” Fraser asked, buttoning up his union suit.

“It makes me feel better.”


Ray thrashed around in the bedroll. “Hey. How come we have lasagna-bed? It’s not that cold.” Fraser had interleaved the two bedrolls together, making one large one, like he did on the very coldest nights up in the Arctic circle. Ray no longer remembered why he’d decided to call it lasagna-bed--he suspected he’d been slightly hypothermic when he came up with the name.

Fraser crouched beside him, thumbing his eyebrow. “You’re used to having Dief in with you,” he pointed out gently.

“Oh. Yeah.” Ray smiled sadly, remembering how Dief used to crawl into Ray’s bedroll, turned around in a tight circle by his feet, and squirmed back up to lie down with his head under Ray’s chin. “He was a good hot-water bottle.”

“I can separate them if you want,” Fraser said. “I expect you’ll be all right.”

“Nah, it’s cool. Climb in.” He knew from experience that Fraser threw off even more heat than Dief, and, even with the toasty underwear, he was still pretty chilly.

Fraser settled in next to him. “So tomorrow we’ll keep heading north. Two days driving should take us to Nidziika Kogolaa.”

“Which is what?” Ray asked.

“A village--or what used to be a village. It was abandoned after the flu epidemic of ‘29. Most of the foundations and chimneys can still be seen, and even some of the structures are partially standing.”

“Gosh, yeah, that sounds really exciting.”

“It’s an historically important site--it was an important trading center from the late 19th century until the epidemic, and the artifacts found there can aid in tracing the adoption of European technology and ways by the Dene. It’s a fascinating portrait of a culture in transition.”

“Cool,” Ray said vaguely.

“So we’re in for an exciting few days. Better get some sleep.”

And Fraser dropped off, like he did, in about ten seconds. Ray snuggled up next to him and fell asleep too.


The second night, Fraser hesitated setting up the bedrolls. Ray had been surprised to see them folded double last night, and although he’d accepted Fraser’s explanation without question, Fraser himself knew that it was, if not an outright lie, at least incomplete.

Fraser knew that there were plenty of people who were fond of him--his sister, some of his classmates from Depot, the residents of Deline, the old crowd from Chicago. But there were only two that touched him, and now one of them was gone. Dief hadn’t been an especially cuddly dog, but he would jump up on Fraser to greet him, bump against him to make a point or emphasize a joke, rest his head on his knee for an ear-scratch, or--rarely--roll onto his back to luxuriate in a belly rub.

For the last two weeks his skin had hungered for touch. And after Ray left, it would be a long forty-nine weeks before anyone touched him again. He wanted as much as he could get, as though he could store it up in his layer of subcutaneous fat.

But that wasn’t fair to Ray. If he was that starved for touch, he could bring one of the sled dogs in. Resolutely, he folded the bedrolls into thirds, separately, and stepped out of the tent to feed the dogs.

They’d fallen into the rhythm of camp chores, each knowing what needed to be done, and doing it without discussion. Fraser knew without asking, without checking. that Ray would have dug out the feed pans and filled them with high-performance kibble, and topped each bowl with a dollop of oil and a handful of dried fish. Fraser would distribute them to the dogs, and by the time he’d collected them again, Ray would have melted a pot of snow so that he could fill them again with water. Before he even began peeling a branch for spruce tea, he knew the kettle would be on the boil by the time he finished. That was partnership, and it was a kind of intimacy too.

Dinner was dehydrated chicken cacciatore, beef-barley soup, and cherry cobbler. No stories that night--Fraser couldn’t think of one. Instead, they talked about old cases, previous incarnations of the expedition, in the shorthand that Fraser loved. “Remember that time with the ducks?” Ray would say, and Fraser’d answer, “Which time?”

Ray said, “The Russians,” and they were both right there, on the same line of the same page. No further explanation was needed when Ray continued, “That was some old guy. Wonder if he ever thought maybe he really was imagining it all, like everybody thought.”

“Possibly.” Fraser knew that he did, sometimes. Between expeditions.

“Don’t know if I could do it. Keep the faith that long, in deep cover.”

“I’m sure you’d answer the call, if your country needed you.”

“I think if all that’s standing between the U.S. of A and total destruction is one skinny Polack, maybe the skinny Polack had better run for the border.”

“Well, sometimes a tactical retreat is the wisest and bravest course of action.”

After the warming of the underwear, they ducked into the tent, and Ray started his underwear-changing song. “Cold, cold, cold, cold, cold--hey, no lasagna bed?” He paused with his parka, snow pants, and fleece shirt off, but his jeans and flannel still on.

“It’s not that cold.”

“Dunno, I’m kind of chilly.”

“Put your underwear on while it’s still warm,” Fraser suggested.

“Yeah, okay,” Ray agreed, shedding the rest of his clothes. “Fuck that’s cold. Okay, toasty underwear, warming up now. Warm, warm, warm.” He crouched next to the bedrolls and started unfolding his. “You wanna help me make the bed, here?”

“Oh. Certainly.” Quickly, they fixed the blankets and crawled inside.

Ray snuggled up, a warm weight against his back. “My hands are frozen. You mind?”

Mind what? “Not at all.”

Ray wormed one arm under Fraser’s body, draped the other across him, and folded his hands--which were, indeed, quite cold--over his chest. “Okay?”

“Of course. We do have some chemical heat packs in the bags,” he added belatedly.

“I’m good,” Ray answered into his shoulder. “Cozy.”


When Ray woke up, his arms were numb. Both of them. Somehow Fraser had gotten turned around during the night and was laying across him, his head pressing down on Ray’s shoulder. Stella’s parents had had a cat that did that--came in when you were sleeping and camped out on your chest.

At least Fraser’s breath didn’t smell like Salmon Surprise.

He was really sacked out, though, and that was weird. Usually Ray was the last one to wake up. But Fraser probably hadn’t been sleeping real well.


Ray was glad Fraser hadn’t called him on that stupid “I have to put my arms around you because my hands are cold” thing. “I have to hug you because you’re sighing too much” would have sounded weird, but what he’d come up with wasn’t much better. Probably Fraser thought he was scared of the dark or the bears or something, but Ray would let him think that, if he wanted.

One of the dogs started barking, and after about a second the rest of the team joined in. Fraser woke up all at once, the way he did, lifting himself up on his hands and looking confusedly down at Ray. He shook his head a little. “Terribly sorry.”

“No problem. I’ll regain my three-dimensionality in a day or two, I bet,” he said, taking a few experimental deep breaths.

Fraser wiggled into his clothes inside the bedroll, which let a certain unavoidable amount of cold air in, but Ray decided he’d complained enough for one morning. When Fraser left the bedroll and put his boots on, Ray knew the next thing he’d do was open the tent flap, which meant even more cold air, so he did the mature thing and stuck his head under the covers.

Fraser patted him on the top of his furry hat--the only part of him still sticking out--before he left to feed the dogs.

The abandoned village, which they reached in late afternoon, turned out to be surprisingly cool. Fraser wouldn’t let him explore the half-ruined cabins-- “strictly prohibited by Northwest Territorial regulations governing archeological sites, Ray, and dangerous, besides,” but there was no law against walking around them and peering in the falling-down parts.

“This is wild,” he told Fraser. “Down in Illinois this would either be a historical recreation area with people in funny costumes and a hot dog stand and gift shop, or else it would be paved over to make an RV park. Either way, they wouldn’t just leave it sitting here and tell people not to touch it.”

“Hm. People do still camp here, but not enough to require an RV park. And the period when this trail was used for seasonal migration is still--barely--in living memory, so elders in the surrounding communities are able to interpret the site. Costumed re-enactors aren’t really necessary.”

There was only time for a quick look around before they had to start making camp, or else lose the light. Once they had the dogs settled in and the tent up, Fraser hesitated, studying a stand of spruce trees. “What do you think about staying here for a day or two? We can set some nets and perhaps smoke a little fish, and we really should check out the cemetery.”

“Okay,” Ray agreed, although he wasn’t sure what was so special about the graveyard.

“Excellent. In that case, we’ll make a spruce bed.” Fraser took out the axe and started lopping branches.

“We’re going to sleep on branches? Why?”

“Spruce boughs make a surprisingly comfortable and fragrant bed. Here, Take these to the tent.” He piled some branches into Ray’s arms. “You’ll see.”

Once Fraser had cut enough branches and woven them into a rough mat, Ray tried it out. It was a lot more comfortable than you’d think sleeping on a bunch of tree branches would be--sort of springy. “Smells like Christmas.”

“I suppose it does.” Fraser extended a hand and pulled him up. “Let’s go cut ice.”

To set the nets, they had to chop two big holes in the ice, and thread the net through from one to the other. It was sort of like trying to put the drawstring back in a sweatshirt hood after you’d pulled it the whole way out by mistake, only bigger, colder, and much wetter. He wasn’t sure if Fraser was having a harder time of it than usual or not, but after a while he sent Ray back to shore for the lantern.

When he came back, the sun was setting, a ball of fire on the close-up horizon, turning a long strip of ice into orange juice.

Frozen orange juice. Whatever. Ray wasn’t good at metaphors. It was pretty, was all. He tromped over to Fraser, who was poking around at the second ice-hole with a stick, same as he’d been doing when Ray left. “Kinda seems like the old-fashioned fishing-line method is a little easier,” Ray remarked.

“Well. Yes, in a way. Although this method actually predates the use of hooks and lines. But the net allows a larger number of fish to be caught, with less attention from the fisherman. Or men, as the case may be. I believe we may need to drill a guide-hole.”

Ray crouched by the hole. “What do you do? Just poke around under there and try to snag the net with the pole?”

“Yes. Easier said than done, I’m afraid.” Fraser straightened up and cracked his shoulders.

“Let me give it a try,” he said, grabbing the pole, a spruce branch Fraser had cut and peeled, with one of the smaller branches left on at the end to make a sort of hook.

Fraser handed it over without a struggle. “You’re welcome to give it a try, but I can’t imagine you’ll have any more success than I have,”

Ray snagged the net on his first try. He did his best to refrain from an unseemly display of triumph. His best was, unfortunately, inadequate. He was just getting into his victory dance when Fraser gave him a shove. He staggered several steps, like Wile E. Coyote, before he hit a slick patch and fell on his butt, skidding several more yards. Meters. Whatever.

Fraser was watching him with an expression of concern, which changed to a hesitant smile when Ray came up laughing and charged him, holding the fishnet pole like a lance. He managed to keep his feet under him that time, and at the last moment he swung the lance wide and body checked Fraser, tumbling them both ass over teakettle onto the ice.

Fraser wound up flat on his back, sort of pinned, except Ray suspected he could get out from under Ray if he really wanted to. “It’s very bad luck to interrupt a guy’s fishing-net victory dance,” Ray informed him.

“Terribly sorry,” Fraser said. “I had no idea.”

“Yeah. You probably oughta read up on these local customs before you travel.”

“I’ve been remiss,” Fraser agreed meekly.

“It’ll be your fault if we don’t get any fish.”

“Yes, I’m sure if that’s the case, the vibrations caused by your dance on the ice scaring the fish away will have had nothing to do with it.”

“Damn straight. See, the vibrations--from the victory dance--make the fish curious, so they come up and get caught in the net,” Ray bullshitted.

“That’s very logical.”

Ray got to his feet--his knees were starting to go numb where they were pressed against the ice--and helped Fraser up. Ray’s knees creaked, and so did Fraser’s shoulder. He should probably consider himself lucky neither of them broke a hip, horsing around on the ice like kids.

The next day, Fraser got up at the usual time, but Ray took advantage of the opportunity to laze around in the spruce bed, since they were sticking around that day. Hitching up the dogs and moving on, Ray felt connected to every other explorer, every other adventurer--not just Franklin and the Inuit who crossed over the pole in the ice ages, but the ones to come, too. The first settlers on Mars, or whatever. Wanting to find out what’s over the next hill was a universal human impulse. Staying in camp was different. In a good way. Like they were making the wilderness a home, saying, “This place is ours, now.” It was like they were the first people in the world, or maybe the last. Apocalyptic.

When he finally did get up, Fraser was lashing together some straight sticks with twine. Ray shook his head and poured himself a cup of coffee. Halfway through drinking it, he scraped the sleep-crumblies out of his eyes and put on his glasses, and noticed that Fraser’d made one of his camp flagpoles--three sticks lashed together at the ends--and put up the Quest flag.

Fraser had surprised him with the flag on the second leg of the Quest. The bottom third of the flag was white, representing snow, and the top was dark blue. The American and Canadian flags were sewn in the top two corners, and in the middle there was a stylized team of sled dogs--a very familiar white half-wolf at the front--racing eternally toward a reaching-out hand. The words “One warm line” were stitched in gold thread under the dogs. It was incredibly lame, and Ray had almost cried the first time he’d seen it.

They didn’t put it up every time they made camp, but when they were staying in one place for more than a single night, they usually did. Fraser had earnestly explained that if any other travelers passed by and saw their camp, it would be appropriate to have some sign that would identify who they were. Ray chose not to point out that the flag of the Kowalski-Fraser Quest was not exactly an internationally recognized symbol.

Working on his second cup of coffee, he nodded toward Fraser’s contraption of sticks. “So what’s that?”

“A washstand.”

“Looks more like, uh, three sticks tied together,” Ray pointed out.

Fraser made a final knot, then aligned the sticks to the vertical and twisted. The three sticks opened up, crossing each other about a third of the way up, making a sort of tripod, and Fraser nestled a stainless-steel bowl in the crook of the branches. “Tah-dah!”

“Wow, yeah, that’s real impressive.”

Fraser laid out his shaving kit--the cutthroat razor, cake of soap, brush--and poured some hot water from the kettle into the bowl. Ray--as usual when Fraser shaved--couldn’t take his eyes away. He told himself it was completely natural--someone’s holding a knife at your partner’s throat, even if it is your partner himself, you want to keep an eye on the situation. He knew Fraser shaved like that every day--an electric razor was too fancy for him, and disposables were a waste of natural resources--and if he didn’t know how to do it, he’d be dead by now, but on the first leg of the Quest, Ray’d hardly been able to breathe while Fraser shaved, wondering if this was going to be the day his hand slipped. He knew there wouldn’t be a whole lot he could do for a guy with a slit throat, hundreds of kilometers from any help.

He’d gotten used to it, but watching him was a habit now. Fraser propped a small unbreakable mirror against the washbowl and lathered his face, then stropped the razor a few times, lathered again, and began the shave.

Ray remembered the time his dad had taken him to the barbershop--he couldn’t have been more than four or five. Dad had settled down in the chair and said, “Shave and a haircut,” and when it was Ray’s turn, he’d said the same thing. All the guys laughed, but the barber had lathered up his face and then scraped the foam off with the back of a comb, which for a long time Ray had thought was what shaving actually was.

He thought of it now because it almost looked like that was all Fraser was doing--Ray knew that was all down to how wickedly sharp the razor was. When Fraser did his “a straight razor gives the best shave in the world, Ray,” routine, he sometimes dropped a strand of hair and cut it midair with a swipe of the razor.

One of the things a lot of people didn’t get about Fraser was that he was a little bit of a show-off. You just had to know what to look for.

Ray was trying to decide if he wanted a second bowl of oatmeal enough to bother cooking it when Fraser said, “Want a shave?”

Ray considered. He could go weeks without shaving on the trail, but as soon as Fraser shaved and he didn’t, he started feeling like a pig. And his plastic safety razor was buried in the bottom of one of the packs. “Yeah, okay. Try not to kill me this time.” Fraser hadn’t yet, but there was a first time for everything.

“I’ll do my best. Sit here.”

Ray took his coffee cup and sat on a rock near Fraser’s goofy washstand (not quite as goofy as the stick latrine he’d built one time--something like an old-fashioned drying rack, but instead of clothes you hung your ass on it--but still pretty goofy).

Fraser crouched in front of him with the shaving mug and brush to lather up his face--which, really, Ray could have done himself--then stood behind him for the shave, tilting Ray’s head back so that it rested against his hip. The razor felt like water on his skin. Fraser’s ungloved hand in his hair, steadying his head, was like fire.

They checked the net--about a dozen whitefish and one medium-sized trout--and Fraser had him sprinkle some of his tobacco in the holes before they re-set the net.

Fraser cleaned the fish, and then Ray got the job of divvying up the fish guts among the dogs while Fraser raked the coals out and hung the fish between two sticks to smoke dry.

After the fish thing, they hiked over to the abandoned village, Fraser--for some reason--carrying the axe. Each of the graves had its own little waist-high picket fence around it, reminding Ray of the white plastic one his parents put up around their Astroturf lawn wherever they parked the RV. All the graveyards up here had them--even the modern one in Deline. The fences made the graves visible from a distance, and the superstition was that they kept the spirits of the dead from walking. Maybe keeping animals away from the bodies had something to do with it too, but the fences weren’t all that sturdy.

What was funny was that the fences were in way better shape than what was left of the town. “When did you say this place was abandoned?”

“1929.” Fraser leaned over one of the fences to straighten a wooden cross that was tilted drunkenly on its side. “Everyone who comes through this way helps maintain the graves. It’s considered respectful, and the ancestor spirits will help with good hunting and fair weather if they can.”

So they went around fixing up the graves--straightening crosses, wiring up sections of fence that were falling down. Fraser used the axe to rough out replacements for a couple of pickets that had broken or gone missing.

A few of the graves were doubles--one picket fence, two crosses. The area inside of the fence was a little narrower than a double bed--about the size of their spruce bed back in camp. “Let’s make sure we get one like that,” Ray said, pointing to one of the doubles. If he was going to retire in Deline, it made sense he’d be buried there, and he didn’t want his spirit fenced off from Fraser’s.

“Those are mostly married couples,” Fraser said.


“Good point.”

On to part 2B.




( 12 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 17th, 2008 06:16 am (UTC)
I love how casual it all is.

I have to say, the flag choked me up a bit. I can see it ending up in a little local museum somewhere if they died on a leg of their quest.
Apr. 17th, 2008 06:50 am (UTC)
I'm glad you liked it! I hope they don't have to die for it to end up in a local museum, though. Maybe they'll build one at Fort Franklin and have a little section devoted to Hand Of Franklin-seeking....

BTW, I just put up part 2B, since this one was so short--the link is at the end of 2A. I didn't put a new announcement at the noticeboard, so I wanted to be sure you didn't miss it.
Apr. 17th, 2008 06:23 am (UTC)
Mmmmm... I enjoyed that. Shockingly enough. *admires and admires and admires*
Apr. 17th, 2008 06:51 am (UTC)
Glad you liked it! I worked really hard on this one.

BTW, I just put up part 2B, since this one was so short--the link is at the end of 2A. I didn't put a new announcement at the noticeboard, so I wanted to be sure you didn't miss it.
Apr. 17th, 2008 09:17 am (UTC)
“Those are mostly married couples,” Fraser said.
“Good point.”

almost made me tear up.

this story is really good. I love it already. :-)
Apr. 19th, 2008 03:01 am (UTC)
I adore Ray knowing that Fraser is a little bit of a showoff. Yum.

And yeah, the slightly schmoopy things that Fraser does--the badge, the flag--are PERFECT. Because--they're schmoopy but they're OFFICIAL-ish, which lets him ignore the schmoop. So him.
Apr. 21st, 2008 09:29 am (UTC)
Um, please tell me you didn't make up that turtle/hippo story. And that there's photographic evidence of it somewhere on the internet. Please? I feel like I need it in my life.

That being said, this story is AWESOME so far. Your voices for them are perfect, and this future they've scrambled together is lovely, progressing gently. I love all the casual intimacies like the shaving and lasagna bags; I love the fake-Scout badge on the sleeping bag, the flag(!!), the double graves. This is just all SO GOOD.

*scampers off to read the rest*
Apr. 21st, 2008 09:48 am (UTC)
Oh, yes, the turtle and hippo story is real! I think I have a link in the story notes, or you can google "owen and mzee." Their official site doesn't have much on it, I guess because they want you to buy the book, but wikipedia has a good article on it (with pics!), and you can still find the newspaper stories from when it happened.
May. 7th, 2008 09:41 pm (UTC)
Glad you liked it! I worked really hard on this one.

It shows. It was the orange juice line, the underwear chant, and the "hug you because you're sighing too much" bit that got me in this chapter. And all the little cultural and trail details that make it believable.
May. 11th, 2008 12:14 am (UTC)
Imagining Ray's fish-net victory dance made me laugh out loud.

And the description of the quest flag made me cry.

Clicking through to the next part...
Jul. 28th, 2008 10:18 pm (UTC)
This is lovely. I especially liked Optimistic!Ray's hippo-and-tutle story, the flag, lasagna-bags, and Ray coming up with an excuse to hug Fraser because he looked sad.
Mar. 1st, 2009 03:06 am (UTC)
Oh! You're killing me!

From the loveliness of sleeping together, playing on the ice (very sexy image) and the shaving (*guh*) to the heartbreakingness of the cemetery.

Loving this story lots. :)
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