by Resonant

"Camp stove," Ray said, handing it over. Fraser found a camp-stove-sized spot on the back of the sled and jammed it in there. "Med kit. Slim Jims."

"That's pemmican, Ray."

"Right, Canadian Slim Jims." Ray handed it over. "Freeze-dried don't-wanna-know. Cooking pot. Little mysterious bag of something or other --"

"Ah." Fraser put the pouch inside his parka without meeting Ray's eyes. "And the rifle next, I think?"

"Ray, I think you'll want to see this."

Ray stuck his head out of the tent and stopped dead. After a few minutes, he remembered to crawl the rest of the way out. "Wow," he managed.

"I had hoped that you would get to see the aurora."

"I never knew you could see stars through 'em. That's weird," Ray said. Fraser slid over to make room for him on the tarp.

When Ray looked too long at the shimmering sky, he began to feel like he was falling, and he reached out without looking and took Fraser's hand to ground him. After a few moments, Fraser took his glove off and maneuvered his hand into Ray's glove instead.

"We really gonna do it, Fraser? Ride off into the no-sunset?"

"It would seem so."

"We do it, people are gonna guess about us."

"Do you care?" Fraser inquired.

Ray grinned suddenly. "Hell no."

It was cold enough to make his nose hairs crinkle up, but it was worth it to look at Fraser, with his face edged with reflected light -- up at the rippling aurora -- back at Fraser again.

"You, uh, think I can hack it up here?"

"Absolutely," Fraser said warmly.

After another silence, Fraser pulled his hand out of Ray's glove and reached inside his parka. Ray turned to look at his outstretched hand. "Present for me?" It was the leather pouch Fraser had pulled out of the supply pile.

"Well, not exactly." Fraser handed it to Ray. "But I'd like you to open it just the same." Ray loosened the drawstring and dumped the contents into his hand.

Thick strip of dark-brown leather with a single sliding pewter bead. Short coil of elaborately woven cream-colored rope.

Ray swallowed, draped the two bracelets over his wrist. "Wondered what you did with 'em," he said thickly.

"I saved them." There was a burr in Fraser's voice. "Until my appearance no longer had to reflect what I represented, and could instead reflect who I was." He extended his bare hand.

Fraser's hand was broad, but once he folded in his thumb, the loop of woven rope slid over without too much difficulty. The clasp on the thong was a little tricker, but Ray was damned if he'd ask for help. His hands weren't shaking that badly.

"They, ah, they look good on you, Fraser." The light of the aurora fractured out into psychedelic colors through the ice in his lashes.

"Yes," Fraser said. "I think they suit me."


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