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05:16 pm: Fic: A Question of Time
Title: A Question of Time
Author: Littera Abactor
Fandom: Due South
Pairing: Fraser/Kowalski
Rating: PG-13 or thereabouts
Author's Note: Written for, but not posted to, the ds_flashfiction Diefenbaker challenge. It's a part of the same general worldline and series as "A Question of Faith"; this fills in some history, but should definitely be read second.
Spoilers: None
Feedback: Please



Diefenbaker gently nudged open the door to the bedroom, then paused with just his nose inside, breathing deeply. The room was rich with human smells. The base notes were Ray's sweat and skin and breath and all the other strong scents people seemed to feel the need to give off. Dief could sense the layers of them in the room, from today's strong fresh odors in the air to last year's dusky echoes released from the mattress and the carpet. Just as layered as Ray's own scent, but not as strong, were the smells of hair gel, cigarette smoke, dust, leather, and fabrics.

All these were familiar to Dief; he catalogued them automatically, without thinking, while he focused on the new smells added this evening: semen, of course, both Ray's and Benton's, and Benton's body smells, which were not yet everywhere in the room; the air was nearly drunk with them, but not even the bed released fainter, older hints of Benton. Also, Dief found touches of latex, something oily - he didn't know what it was, exactly, but he knew that Ray kept it in his bedside drawer, that it didn't taste good, and that Ray occasionally had traces of it on his skin - and human blood. The last one made him breathe deeply several times. He was all too accustomed to that smell, and it nearly always meant trouble for Benton, which in turn meant trouble for him. In this case, Dief determined, it was Ray's blood, and in a minute amount, so clearly it was nothing to worry about.

Dief moved the rest of the way in, padding silently. He could now see the rise and fall of both men's chests as they took deep, even breaths, and he could see their closed eyes. Benton was moving into REM sleep and Ray was already in early REM. Neither would wake easily.

He examined them carefully. Both were completely naked, a condition with which Benton customarily was uncomfortable despite Dief's repeated reminders that it was a human's natural state. Benton was sleeping on his back, as he usually did, but with his arms thrown out instead of clenched to his sides or wrapped around himself. His legs were also lax and open, but likely that was because one of Ray's legs nestled between them. Ray was holding Benton around the waist and his head was on Benton's shoulder. They both looked and smelled relaxed, and Dief could tell that Benton was having unusually good and comforting dreams.

They were together, and they would be fine. He could safely leave.

He walked back to the living room and wished that one of the men had remembered to leave a window open for him. It took him several minutes to wedge a paw under the one that never quite closed, and several more minutes to get it open far enough. Once he had, he wiggled through it – it was a tighter fit than he'd expected; surely he hadn't gained weight? – and jumped to the ground. The drop of several stories would have harmed any normal dog, or even wolf, but Dief was sturdier than that, and impatient enough to be careless. It had been a long time since he'd seen anyone from home.

He ran down the street, keeping close to the walls, then turned left and ran down another until he reached a large park. Before he crossed into it, he paused to breathe deeply: yes, she was here. His tail wagged excitedly. Somehow, in this form, it was just impossible to conceal his emotions.

The park was alive with night smells, and many of the trash cans contained extremely alluring food, but Diefenbaker didn't hesitate or deviate as he loped off toward her.

He smelled her before he saw her: she, too, was half-dog, half-wolf. She was about five years old, in fantastic health (as he would have expected), and months away from her nearest heat. Also as he would have expected. Tail wagging, ears alert and happy, he bounded forward.

She was, of course, beautiful, not just in smell but in sight. She was smaller than him, perfectly formed, with a thick, glossy coat of pure and gleaming white. Her eyes were deep, dark blue, her tail perfectly curled and feathered, her ears delicately formed and placed just right on her head. She was lovely. But then, so was he.

Diefenbaker stopped his bounding approximately half a dog-length away from her; she'd long since seen him, of course, but it was polite. She moved forward until they were nose to nose, and they greeted each other in their way. Dief wanted to greet her in the dog way, too, but he knew she wouldn't understand it.

"Brother." She didn't speak aloud; even if she'd had the right body structure to produce speech, she knew that Dief would hardly be able to hear her. Instead, she put the words directly into his mind. Dief knew he wasn't truly hearing, but it felt the same. For the first time in five years, he heard the rolling resonance of a voice, and for a moment his tail stilled from the wonder and pleasure of it; for too long, sounds had been distant and empty to the ears of this body, so empty that often he truly was deaf. "Brother, how goes your task?"

Dief bowed low. Of course, in this body, that had another meaning, but he could still observe the form. And for once he could use the speech he was born to; this body was no impediment to the mind's talk. "It goes well, Sister. Benton Fraser has finally accepted love, love that will stay by him and will not hurt him." Or me, he didn't add. "It was a struggle to bring him so far." Sometimes I thought I'd have to drag him into Ray's bed by his hair, he thought grimly, and it was tempting, but I finally managed the old-fashioned way. Despite his extensive preliminary research, he'd initially underestimated Benton's stubbornness by several orders of magnitude. They all had.

"You have done well, my Brother, and done well where others had failed. You were right, then, about this form; it is key. But tell me, is it not overly burdensome to occupy? I find it pleasurable for just this evening, but I suspect it would be a challenge if I wore it for years. And yours has not worn particularly well."

Diefenbaker sighed. None of them really understood what his life here was like. Considering everything that had happened to him since he'd started walking with Benton, this body had worn extremely well. "I had much learning to do about this form, Sister, but fortunately I was alone with Benton while I did, and he attributed my mistakes to our immersion in ice water.” She smiled indulgently at Benton’s mistake, and Dief was reminded again that there was a reason he chose to live as he did; his people were often - well, not blind, precisely, just extremely focused in vision.

"This is a limited form, but not as limited as I had expected, and there are surprising joys, too. Doughnuts, for example, are better than any food I had previously encountered, or even imagined. Pizza, too. And muffins, the ones with fruit in them, and I also very much like Chinese food, especially Szechwan beef. And sesame -"

She waved a paw, and Dief could hear the pleased amusement in her voice. "I see you are indeed comfortable in this form. You are a constant wonder to me, that you can find so much fun in your lives even in this sad sphere." Dief knew she would never understand the complexities and pleasures to be found on Earth, so he did not try to explain, though he could have listed many: running through snow, sleeping in the sun, mating with attractive bitches of various shapes and sizes, doughnuts. Particularly doughnuts. "Tell me, though, how goes the rest of your work? For I need not tell you that you are greatly missed at home." It was the closest she would come to reminding him that they had a deadline to meet.

"It will be completed within the year. Benton Fraser will return to the frozen North changed in spirit and in company, for he will bring Stanley Raymond Kowalski with him. Stanley Raymond Kowalski will change in his turn, and the stage will be set." Despite himself - again, he was reminded of this body's inability to conceal thoughts and feelings - he felt his tail droop, his ears slacken, and his head drop slightly.

"This saddens you?" Her voice was astonished but not, Dief thought, angry or judgmental.

"I will have to leave him then, will I not? And Benton is my friend, one of the best I've had in any form." He paused, then admitted, "I'm becoming quite attached to Ray as well."

She laughed. "Oh, no, my Brother they call Diefenbaker, you will not be called home just yet. Our plan for Benton Fraser and Stanley Raymond Kowalski is far from finished, and you will be involved in all of it, until the very end. For there are times coming when Benton will need you even more than he has in the past. Furthermore, you deserve to see the end, to see what you have brought about, and to leave this form secure in the knowledge of the future happiness of both your companions."

Diefenbaker's tail wagged, and he snorfled his thanks to her. She just laughed. Then she gently bit his muzzle, rubbed her head against him, and snuffled her farewell dog-style; he was briefly taken aback, then amused by his own assumptions. Of course she would understand the way dogs communicated. It was just another language, really, and she spoke them all. It was her purpose.

She stepped back from him, and he sat down to watch as she changed. Her outline blurred and her body seemed to melt, then expand. Seconds later, she rose on two legs in a huge form that was somehow both human and much more than human. She stretched along her whole length, then shivered slightly, and her shining wings unfurled, white and gleaming and as beautiful as sunlight, as beautiful as her fur had been.

She bowed to him gravely, then leapt into the air and ascended to Heaven on a beacon of light. She left behind her a feeling of brightness and a smell of song.

Diefenbaker stared after that light, unblinking, with his tail still and his head cocked, feeling very small and doggish in this snow-covered Chicago park. For a moment, while the light had burned, he'd missed his own wings, his true home, his - well, but they weren't exactly friends, were they? They were his cohort, and he loved them, but his friends were here on Earth.

And so, after the light had quite gone, he barked once, loudly. Then he retraced his route to his home, working his way through several difficult doors until he could pause again with just his nose in Ray's bedroom, breathe deeply, and make sure that his friends remained well.

They did. And they would all still have some time.

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Comments

[User Picture]
From:littera_abactor
Date:November 20th, 2004 02:31 am (UTC)
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I figure Ray smokes outside - not in his car or house - and only a couple cigarettes a week at this point. So it's mostly going to be scent carried in with him. (Although even that is powerful; I remember when I'd come home from Las Vegas and, after my nose recovered - because LV is a stunning experience for all the senses - I'd be shocked at how incredibly cigarette-y my clothes were.) Because, for one thing, if he smoked in his apartment the smell would kill Constable Twitchy Nostrils.

And, OK, it isn't wingfic. But there's wings, and...well, what else do you call this?

Oh, yeah. Crack fic. The shame.

(My crossover is totally crack-free, you'll be pleased to hear.)

*loves, loves, loves*

*hums ancient Beatles song*

*loves, loves, loves*
[User Picture]
From:qe2
Date:November 20th, 2004 04:47 am (UTC)
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Oh, oh, oh.

::loves this so much::

Benton was sleeping on his back, as he usually did, but with his arms thrown out instead of clenched to his sides or wrapped around himself. His legs were also lax and open, but likely that was because one of Ray's legs nestled between them. Ray was holding Benton around the waist and his head was on Benton's shoulder.

I will fall asleep tonight, propped awkwardly on the cushions from the back of my foldout couch (sister's on the couch, mother's on the proper bed), with that so-clear, so-perfect image in my mind and a smile on my face.
[User Picture]
From:littera_abactor
Date:November 20th, 2004 05:27 am (UTC)
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Oh, wow. Thank you. That is an amazing compliment. I've read it half a dozen times, trying to convince myself that you meant to say that about my story.

Especially this story. I had a really tough time writing the Dief voice, possibly because of my limited familiarity with the internal monologues of angels incarnated as half-wolves. I wanted it to be formal-ish, but then of course a lot of passages sounded stilted. And the first paragraphs of any story are always hell anyway. So I poked at the particular bit you quoted quite a lot, trying to say what I meant in the way that I thought this particular Dief would.

I'm having a lot of voice issues this month, apparently.

(Side note: you have your mother and sister staying with you in a one-bedroom apartment? Good god. I love my mother and my sister, but if we ever tried that, there'd be murder done. We have enough trouble sharing a kitchen for the time it takes to make Thanksgiving dinner, and you don't want to know what happened when my sister had to live with our mother for a while. I am totally in awe of you and your family.)
[User Picture]
From:qe2
Date:November 23rd, 2004 08:35 pm (UTC)
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Oh, wow. Thank you. That is an amazing compliment. I've read it half a dozen times, trying to convince myself that you meant to say that about my story.

Oh, yes. No question. IMO, your story - and that paragraph in particular - stand as ample proof that one doesn't need pages to tell a story (though that, of course, is fine as well): a few vivid images will do it perfectly.

I had a really tough time writing the Dief voice, possibly because of my limited familiarity with the internal monologues of angels incarnated as half-wolves.

Fortunately, no one else who's likely to be reading this has much expertise with that particular voice, either :-).

And the first paragraphs of any story are always hell anyway.

I think that's why so much of what I write starts with a single line - usually one of dialogue, though sometimes not. Much easier to write those than an entire opening paragraph, I find. (Closing lines, now - those are impossible for me.)

Side note: you have your mother and sister staying with you in a one-bedroom apartment? Good god. I love my mother and my sister, but if we ever tried that, there'd be murder done.

::hastens to reassure::

Oh, Lord, us too - definite sororicide/matricide double feature if we tried to pull that off, much as I love my family. Thank God it was only for a night.

Wishing you a safe and nonmurderous Thanksgiving :-) - with lots of time to write...

[User Picture]
From:spainja
Date:November 20th, 2004 04:52 am (UTC)
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So...you've gone from mild mpreg to mild wingfic. Clearly the next stage in your dS corruption is mild tentacles, right? Ha, ha...

*glances over your lj*

...oh.

Well, carry on, then.

I loved this one, too. The third-person view of Ray and Fraser in bed together was so sweet--I found myself reading it over again until I had the picture perfect in my head. And--hee! Doughnuts as the apex of terrestrial life!
[User Picture]
From:littera_abactor
Date:November 20th, 2004 05:33 am (UTC)
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Clearly the next stage in your dS corruption is mild tentacles, right?

Hee. Although I have to warn you, in all fairness, that the tentacle story is not all that mild. It earns its NC-17 rating, thanks to the efforts of my unindicted co-conspirator norah.

But I am right now writing a story that doesn't feature extra appendages or body modifications of any kind. And I'm going to have to finish it, if for no other reason than so that I can prove to people that I'm not entirely crack-brained.

(Thank god I never finished that Diefenbaker/Playstation II story. Some things no one can live down.)

Thank you!
[User Picture]
From:spainja
Date:November 20th, 2004 01:14 pm (UTC)
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(Thank god I never finished that Diefenbaker/Playstation II story. Some things no one can live down.)

As a pairing? Um...

...wow...

Okay, I'm just going to not think about that anymore. Just like that pink elephant in the corner.

But, hey, one of the advantages of being a talented writer is that you can make people believe in the most crackheaded scenarios. Honestly, if you wrote Dief/Playstation, I'd read it. And I'll read your tentacleFic, too. And even if you were to write, say, Stella/Turnbull...

...nah. Let's not get unrealistic, here.
[User Picture]
From:littera_abactor
Date:November 24th, 2004 09:17 am (UTC)
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See, OK, the Dief/Playstation thing was more of an unrequited passion than, you know, hardcore smut. Just - love.

And then my fever broke. Thank god.

But no way could I write Turnbull/Stella. That's way beyond my puny crackwriting skills.

(Unless. OK, see, maybe Ray and Fraser are together and being obvious about it, and Stella's pissed, and jealous because she thought she'd always have Ray on a string, on call for sex, wanting her - you know how people sometimes get with exes, angry and hurt when they move on. Like that. And so she uses Turnbull as, like, a Fraser substitute - she can abuse him as she thinks Fraser deserves and he can give her the sex Fraser took away from her.

But I could never write that, because I long to see Turnbull happy and loved, not all tormented at the hands of a vengeful goddess.)
[User Picture]
From:china_shop
Date:November 20th, 2004 12:10 pm (UTC)
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Oh wow! Angel!Dief! This is gorgeous. :-)
[User Picture]
From:akite
Date:November 20th, 2004 01:13 pm (UTC)
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Dief is an angel! That amuses me. This was a sweet story. I liked the cataloging of smells and the description of Ray and Fraser sleeping.
[User Picture]
From:myriad69
Date:April 29th, 2005 09:58 pm (UTC)
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Oh wow. Both this and A Question of Faith are fantastic. Amazingly fantastic! I love how you can take such wild ideas, so original and never done before and just make them work so damn well.

The description of what Dief was smelling was just beautiful. I had to read that part twice I enjoyed it so much.
[User Picture]
From:shihadchick
Date:December 16th, 2005 09:55 pm (UTC)
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This is gorgeous, it really, really is. It's trying to do that thing that all reallygoodfic does where it starts wedging itself into my brain as canon and I have to dig after it and reassure it that it is wonderful but I'll get in trouble if I don't remember it's not. Butitcouldbe. But seriously, yes, just beautiful. The voice is consistent and steady and it all just fits so well. It kind of gives me echoes of a kind of "Angels in America" type mythos as well as the more canonically biblical one which I like a lot.

Brilliant. :)
[User Picture]
From:ride_4ever
Date:June 13th, 2012 03:22 pm (UTC)
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For this fic, I wag my tail and snorfle my thanks to you! <3
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