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dS Fic: December, 1988

Fandom/Character: Due South; Ray Kowalski
Rating: PG-13
Length: 741 words
Summary: The story behind Officer Ray Kowalski's first citation.
Challenge: A very overdue and over-grown response to the ds_snippets Amnesty Challenge #10, prompt: gun, heartbeat, carried.
Disclaimer: The characters of due South belong to Alliance/Atlantis. I just play with them when they follow me home.
Notes: Thanks to nos4a2no9 for the beta.

Mouth dry, breath panting, heart pounding in my throat as I crouch behind a dumpster.

It's not my fault the buy-bust went south. Not my fault that the backup unit didn't cover the rear exit of the club like they were supposed to. Not my fault Frankie grabbed a kid from the bus stop and dragged him down the alley, into a warehouse.

Where are the fucking uniforms? The place rioted when Frankie started taking potshots at me. Maybe they're still dealing with that. I try again, but there's still no answer on the walkie-talkie.

I cannot walk through that door. Frankie is waiting on the other side to shoot me dead.

Soon as my backup shows up, I am out of here. Out of this alley, out of the undercover business. Doneski. I'll go home and take a shower. Sit down to a nice dinner with Stella. She'll tell me about her day. And I'll tell her that today at work, I got a little kid killed.

Fuck.

That's not me.

I put on my glasses with cold, shaky hands. Slow my breathing down. Focus. I can't afford to make a mistake. I can't miss.

Gun out, left hand on the doorknob. Wait for it. Wait for something that'll give me a chance.

A sudden, childish scream. "Shut up, you little – "

I'm in through the door, running low and fast. There's Frankie, to the left, holding the kid in front of him. He's bent over, yelling at the boy's little black face and big puffy orange jacket. No clean shot. No clean shot, but there's a stack of empty pallets ahead that I can use as cover. I dive for it.

" – asswipe!"

And now Frankie's head is coming up, tracking me, and so's his gun. It's a silver monster, a Desert Eagle, great for grizzly hunting, terrible for concealed carry. The bust would've gone down smooth if the stupid fuck hadn't tucked the thing in his belt where the bartender would notice it. I can see the black circle of the gun barrel, but I'm almost to the pallets, almost safe.

A loud bang, and something punches me, hard, in the shoulder.

Doesn't hurt much, so it can't be that bad, right? I land on the floor behind the pallets, glasses go flying, and as I scramble to my feet, I feel them crunch under my boot. Fuck!

Frankie's still firing, and I'm trying to get a bead on him, but without my glasses, it's just a blur. I aim high, over the orange blur, at the green smudge I know has gotta be Frankie's army jacket, and let off three rounds.

A rattle of metal on concrete – Frankie's dropped his gun. The green sinks down next to the orange.

I run over there, kick Frankie's gun away as soon as I spot it. I have to grab the kid, get him safe, but my left arm won't work, so I holster my gun. It takes two tries, and Frankie's just sitting on the floor, staring at the blood on his hands. I pick the boy up with my right arm; hold him tight as he wails away in my ear. I carry him out of there, past all the uniforms that show up outta nowhere, back to the bus stop, and then I put him down. The little guy's clamped onto my leg while I try to give a statement. My shoulder's jagged red-hot pain; feels like I might puke.

I sit down on the bus stop bench before I fall down. The little guy's still crying hard, all messy, face covered in tears and snot and spattered with blood.

"Hey, little man, what's your name?" I ask, tugging him in safe between my legs.

He snuffles a couple of times, little hiccupping sobs coming out when he tries to talk. "Mo … Mohammed," he finally says.

"That's cool," I tell him, using my right sleeve to wipe his face clean, "like Ali, the fighter?"

Then somebody says something, and tries to pull Mohammed away. I yell, and grab him back, and he holds on tight, but it's just the paramedics. They want to check the little guy over, make sure he's okay.

As they load me into an ambulance, I realize Stella's gonna be pissed I got myself shot. But it'll be okay. She'll understand. I saved a kid's life today.

That's me.

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Comments

( 28 comments — Leave a comment )
slidellra
Feb. 20th, 2008 12:31 am (UTC)
I like this!
keerawa
Feb. 20th, 2008 12:45 am (UTC)
Thanks, L!
zabira
Feb. 20th, 2008 12:41 am (UTC)
that's RAY, alright! i love him fierce and brave, and thinking to himself that he wouldn't be able to tell stella if he wasn't.

great snippet, keerawa!
keerawa
Feb. 20th, 2008 12:47 am (UTC)
Fierce and brave like Rikki Tikki Tavi! Thanks for the feedback, zabira!
green_grrl
Feb. 20th, 2008 01:30 am (UTC)
Oh, man, I love this. Ray + kids = super awesome. ♥
keerawa
Feb. 20th, 2008 02:18 am (UTC)
Thanks, green_grrl! I suck with kids, but Ray? He'd be great with them.
vienna_waits
Feb. 20th, 2008 01:43 am (UTC)
You pack so much into so few words--"That's not me/that's me". Beautiful!
keerawa
Feb. 20th, 2008 02:19 am (UTC)
Thank you, vienna! I owe Nos a big box of chocolates for encouraging me to push it past snippet length so I could include the details that make it fly.
kill_claudio
Feb. 20th, 2008 01:44 am (UTC)
I really like this! The pacing is just wonderful, and I got sucked right in. And I love so much the way Ray knows he can't leave the kid - he and Fraser are so much more alike than they realise. I'm all the more impressed because I find first-person Ray POV so difficult, and you pull it off so effortlessly. ♥♥♥
keerawa
Feb. 20th, 2008 02:23 am (UTC)
I'm glad that it pulled you in, kill_claudio. That immediacy was my goal. I think Ray struggles against it, but he gets these heroic impulses. Hangin out with Fraser just sealed the deal.

I can't take any credit for first-person Ray, though, that's easy as falling off a log for me. It's everything else that I have to work at!
hurry_sundown
Feb. 20th, 2008 02:33 am (UTC)
This whole piece is so totally Ray. And this is <3<3<3:

"Hey, little man, what's your name?" I ask, tugging him in safe between my legs.

He snuffles a couple of times, little hiccupping sobs coming out when he tries to talk. "Mo … Mohammed," he finally says.

"That's cool," I tell him, using my right sleeve to wipe his face clean, "like Ali, the fighter?"


I also love that Ray and Mohammed hang onto each other for dear life when it's all over.

Terrific, baybee.

*smooch*
keerawa
Feb. 20th, 2008 03:07 am (UTC)
Thank you! Poor Ray is freaking out, hurt, possibly in shock, and bleeding all over the place. But he just focuses in on saving that little boy, putting him back where he belongs, safe and sound. That bit is all thanks to Nos, who suggested that Ray would try to comfort the boy at the end.
mlyn
Feb. 20th, 2008 07:20 am (UTC)
Whew, intense action! And it's great to read something about Ray's character that doesn't involve how much he pines for someone. Excellent job. :D
keerawa
Feb. 20th, 2008 07:00 pm (UTC)
Thanks, mlyn! "Intense action" is exactly the challenge I set myself for this one. There's nothing wrong with a little gen in your reading diet now and then!
rosiespark
Feb. 20th, 2008 11:30 am (UTC)
Oh, I'm smiling, but with a lump in my throat, because Ray is such a Big Damn Hero and he thinks he isn't because he just wants to go home to Stella and not have to tell her he got a little kid killed, so he gets himself shot instead and he saves the day and.... Oh, Ray.

I like this so much that I'm all flaily incoherence. ::hearts you and Ray::
keerawa
Feb. 20th, 2008 07:06 pm (UTC)
*flails with you* He really is, isn't he! Thanks Rosie!
rosiespark
Feb. 20th, 2008 10:20 pm (UTC)
A bit more rambling: I particularly like the bit where he loses his glasses and then steps on them. And then has to fire half-blind at blurs of colour!

Yes, I wear glasses. ;)

And I love that we don't find out how badly hurt Frankie is. Because HE DOESN'T MATTER. But we DO get to see the important stuff with little Mohammed-like-Ali-the-fighter.

♥♥♥♥
keerawa
Feb. 22nd, 2008 01:17 am (UTC)
I wear glasses, too, and I find it terrifying when Ray shoots without them. And Ray's sort of shocky, by the end, soi Frankie just falls of his radar once he's no longer a threat.

Thanks so much for coming back and telling me more about what you enjoyed about the story, rosie!
leafy22
Feb. 20th, 2008 10:13 pm (UTC)
That's our Ray - brave, comptetent and caring. Much as I love the duet it's great to read about him being a hero in his own right too! A *brilliant* bit of back-story.
keerawa
Feb. 22nd, 2008 01:37 am (UTC)
Thanks for the comment, leafy22!
umbrella_half
Feb. 20th, 2008 11:45 pm (UTC)
Aw, Ray! That's such a nice little snippet, with Ray being a hero, all brave and wild. And the pacing is really awesome, too. =)
keerawa
Feb. 22nd, 2008 01:38 am (UTC)
What a perfect icon! And I'm glad you appreciated the pacing, I worked hard to keep the breathless action going.
sisterofdream
Feb. 21st, 2008 04:30 am (UTC)
Fantastic! I love shiny new Ray backstory. And I adore how he connects with the kid at the end.
keerawa
Feb. 25th, 2008 02:01 am (UTC)
Thanks, sisterofdream! One of the fun things about fanfictionis how you get to take these throwaway lines from canon and run with them. I think Ray would be good with kids.
vsee
Feb. 25th, 2008 01:12 am (UTC)
Oh, wow, Keerawa, this was amazing. The details were all so vivid, and it is a moment of Ray's life I've always wondered about. Very well done.
keerawa
Feb. 25th, 2008 01:59 am (UTC)
Thank you, vsee, I'm glad you liked it!
beggar_always
Apr. 3rd, 2009 06:56 pm (UTC)
Ooo I really liked this! Thanks for writing!
keerawa
Apr. 3rd, 2009 10:49 pm (UTC)
Thank you for letting me know you enjoyed it, beggar_always!
( 28 comments — Leave a comment )