They had celebrated Christmas in the town of Kugluktuk, listening to children singing carols and drinking eggnog in front of a roaring fire in the Inn. They had slept on real beds and Ray had spent two and a half hours soaking in the tub. It had been the best Christmas ever. The only thing that would have made it better would have been Fraser getting in the tub with him, but of course, Fraser was straight, so he'd contented himself with a fistful of shower gel and a loofah.
They'd set out early the next morning, and one day had pretty much melted into the next. But Ray was quite sure this was New Year's Eve. He said as much to Fraser.
Fraser agreed. "Happy New Year, Ray."
"Back at ya." Ray raised his tin mug and Fraser touched it with his. It would've been nice to have some real alcohol to toast with but as Fraser had pointed out, it would take up too much room, and space was at a premium when you were living from day to day out of a dog sled. As Fraser had also pointed out at great length, "In sub-zero conditions such as these, Ray, alcohol ultimately lowers your body temperature and there is a real risk of dehydration...blah, blah, blah." So yeah, Ray got it. Booze was bad.
Fraser got to his feet and offered Ray a hand up. "We should get some sleep," he said, stifling a yawn.
Ray drank the last of his tea and let Fraser haul him to his feet. He was still thinking about the Inuit tale and wondering what Fraser's heart's desire might be. Most likely it would be a nice Mountie girl who could cook caribou fourteen different ways. It definitely wasn't a skinny Polish guy with experimental hair and no tits. Which kinda broke Ray's heart but there was no help for it.
Ray had no clear memory of leaving the tent, yet he found himself standing on a wide, open plane staring up at the sky. He supposed he must have been sleepwalking, and it was damned lucky that he'd taken the time to put on boots and a coat or he could have frozen off something important by now.
The Northern Lights filled the horizon, writhing like a Technicolor snake above his head, and if he closed his eyes, he imagined he could hear them crackle and hiss. Tugging off one of his mittens, Ray checked his watch--11:58 pm.
He felt like a complete idiot, but seeing as how he was here anyway, what harm could it do? He wasn't sure if he was supposed to ask out loud, but as he was trying to figure out how to word his wish the sky above him flared with light. He raised a hand to shade his eyes, but it didn't help. Even squeezing his eyes tightly shut and turning away didn't help. The multicolored light show continued to dance behind his eyelids.
"Fuck," he gasped, falling onto his hands and knees. His head began to pound, and a second before he passed out he thought he heard bells ringing.
Someone was calling his name. Ray opened his mouth to reply and discovered it was full of snow.
It sounded like Fraser. Ray lifted his hand to brush the snow away and flicked even more onto his face. He started spluttering and flailing about.
"Oh, thank God, Ray!"
Strong hands pushed the snow away and cleared it from his face until finally he could open his eyes.
Fraser was staring down at him in utter shock.
"Frase?" he croaked. His voice sounded weird, which he guessed was only to be expected after being buried alive in a snow bank and half frozen to death.
"What?" Ray was beginning to panic now. Worse, he still had that weird, pounding headache. What the hell was wrong? Had his face gone all black with frostbite? Had his nose frozen off? What?
Fraser didn't answer, he just bent and scooped Ray out of the snow and carried him back to their camp. Ray had lost a bit of weight on their adventure but it pissed him off that Fraser could carry him with such ease. He could at least have pretended to be out of breath by the time they reached the tent.
Fraser eased him down onto the sleeping bags and then straightened, staring at him in confusion. Ray used his teeth to tug off his mittens and sat upright. "What?!" he demanded, his voice going up an octave with fear.
"Ray, you...that is...you...you don't seem to be yourself." Fraser reached out and pulled Ray's woolen cap from his head, letting a cloud of golden curls cascade about Ray's shoulders. "What exactly did you wish for out there?"
Ray grabbed a handful of hair in his long, slim fingers and tugged hard. "Ouch!" Okay so it really was his hair. Not a wig. Not an eggnog-related hallucination. He looked at Fraser's concerned face and felt a wave of nausea crash over him. "No!" he moaned. "No fucking way!"
He began ripping at his clothes, tearing off the many layers he wore until he was down to long john bottoms and a thermal undershirt. And then there was no denying it. Those were breasts. Big, round, female-type breasts.
With shaking hands, he took hold of the elastic waistband of his underwear, pulled it away from his stomach and peered inside.
"Ray?" Fraser whispered, "Are you...?"
"My dick's gone," Ray said flatly, letting the elastic snap back into place. "Frase... I'm ...I'm a chick."
"No, Fraser, I did not wish I was a girl. How many times do I gotta say it?"
Fraser held out a mug of hot tea. "Can you recall what was going through your head at the stroke of midnight?"
"Nothing! I wasn't thinking nothing!" Ray snatched the mug from Fraser, sloshing tea all over his leg. "Just how fucking cold I was, and how bright the sky was and how I'd probably be blind from looking at it...nothing about having tits, I swear!"
Ray felt himself blush. "Sorry, but I'm feeling a little fucked up right now."
"Well, never mind. What was going through your head is probably totally irrelevant." Fraser took a thoughtful sip from his own mug. "The legend refers to one's heart's desire, which is often hidden from our conscious thoughts."
Ray was pretty sure that even in the deepest recesses of his subconscious mind, he had never harbored a secret desire to have a sex change. He was still reeling from his recent discovery that he was in love with his male partner. "So how do we fix this?"
Fraser rubbed his eyebrow, which Ray knew was not a good sign. "I, uh, I have no idea," the Mountie admitted. "I always thought that the legend was more of a cautionary tale; a metaphor if you will..."
"Cautionary! Metaphor! Frase! Do something!"
Fraser was across the small tent in a heartbeat, taking the mug from Ray's fingers and wrapping a big, comforting arm around Ray's shaking shoulders.
"Perhaps it's temporary," he said soothingly.
Ray rubbed his hands over his soft, beardless face and looked Fraser in the eye. "What if it's not, Frase? What if it's not?" His head throbbed.
"Oh, it must be, Ray." The absolutely certainty in Fraser's tone calmed him but still, Ray wasn't so confident. Since he didn't know how he got this way in the first place, how the hell were they going to figure out how to change him back? What if he was destined to live out the rest of his life as a woman, getting fashion tips from Frannie and his ex-wife?
Lying in the dark that night with his back pressed up against Fraser's in their double sleeping bag, Ray began to put things together inside his head.
Fact: He'd been wishing that he and Fraser could be lovers.
Fact: Fraser was straight.
Fact: Fraser wanted a woman.
Conclusion: Ray's subconscious was thinking, if only he were a woman, then maybe Fraser would want him.
It made perfect sense. But even if Fraser did suddenly get the hots for him, there was no way Ray could hack staying a woman. Not even for that. What about his tough-guy image? What about his dick? He was very fond of his dick, and Jesus, what about dancing? He was used to leading, dammit!
Fraser snorted and rolled over, throwing one arm over Ray's body and snuggling up close. He mumbled something incoherent and nuzzled Ray's hair. It was hardly the first time; after all they had been sharing a double sleeping bag for the entire trip, and Fraser's habit of cuddling him in the middle of the night had been one of the many clues on the road to enlightenment for Ray. In the morning, Fraser always acted like nothing had happened, so Ray got the message loud and clear: Fraser didn't wantanything more to happen.
In his present state, Ray really didn't feel up to wearing a Fraser-shaped electric blanket. He shoved back against Fraser, trying to push him away, and got the shock of his life. Fraser was sporting wood. Ray froze, too terrified to move.
If Fraser woke up now and put the moves on him, Ray knew he wouldn't be able to resist, and that would be a very bad thing because he wasn't staying a woman. No way! And if Fraser fucked him now, then Fraser wouldn't want to fuck him anymore once he changed back and wasn't a woman anymore. And...and...Jesus, his head hurt.
Best thing would be just to lie still and hope that Frase didn't wake up. Even when Fraser began to snore loudly in his ear, Ray stayed totally motionless, until eventually he drifted off to sleep.
Ray was startled awake by the feel of a warm hand moving up inside his undershirt and what felt like a very eager erection stabbing him in the ass. The events of the previous night came crashing down about him and he elbowed Fraser viciously in the ribs before Fraser could grab himself a handful of breast.
As Fraser recoiled, Ray twisted around in the sleeping bag and glowered at him. "What kinda girl do you take me for?" he asked indignantly, pulling the edges of his sleeping bag right up to his neck.
Fraser was looking at him, aghast. "Um, I'm not sure I understand, but if by that you mean that I've overstepped the mark, then I apologize."
"Right!" Ray nodded vehemently. "Exactly. It's not cool to just grab a girl's tits, you know?"
Fraser's eyes grew wider, which was a minor miracle. "Ray, are you unhinged?"
Despite his words, Ray's traitorous body seemed very cool with the idea of Fraser grabbing parts of it. In fact, he could feel his nipples hardening and rubbing maddeningly against the soft fabric of his undershirt. No wonder women wore bras. Otherwise they would be in a constant state of arousal. "Unhinged? Me? I'm not the one taking advantage of his partner's dicklessness in order to get some pussy. That's not buddies, Fraser."
"First of all," Fraser said in his very best pissed-off voice, "I don't believe that 'dicklessness' is a real word. You just made it up." As he spoke, Fraser inched a little closer. "Second, I fail to see what place a feline has in this admittedly strange conversation..."
Ray was still trying to figure that bit out when Fraser reached over and wrapped his big, warm hand around Ray's cock. It took Ray a good three seconds to understand the significance of that, by which time Fraser's hand was moving up and down, and wasn't that just a kick in the head?
"...and third, it's all moot, as you clearly do have a penis, which, incidentally, has been poking me in the rear end all night. I merely decided that it was time to respond in like kind."
Ray didn't have anything to say to that. His brain had stopped functioning the moment Fraser started jerking him. At least the weird headache was gone. In fact, Ray was starting to feel really good.
"Now, while I agree that this decision takes us beyond the parameters of 'buddies,'" Fraser continued while Ray's mouth grew slacker and slacker, "...it seems to me that we've both been wishing for a more permanent arrangement."
Just to be absolutely sure, Ray fumbled the sleeping bag out of the way and looked down, past his flat male chest, to where Fraser was working him like a pro. "Goo' point," Ray slurred, fast approaching the moment of no return. "Fucking great point!"
Fraser sped up the rhythm, flicking his thumb over the head of Ray's leaking cock with each upward jerk. "So you're all right with this, Ray?"
How the fuck did Fraser do that? Who the hell could keep up a halfway intelligent conversation while jerking his partner off?
"Uh huh," Ray answered breathlessly, and then he couldn't breathe at all because he was coming and coming, and his head was spinning, and he had the mortifying thought that he might be about to pass out from sheer pleasure.
It took a while to get his breathing to even out, but once he'd stopped hyperventilating, he cracked open an eye and saw Fraser gazing down at him with concern.
"Ray, what was all that about?"
Ray reached a hand around Fraser's neck, pulled him down, and whispered against his lips, "Bad dream. Scary, bad dream."
They kissed lazily for a moment, before Ray couldn't help noticing that his partner still had a hard-on. He decided to do something about that very soon. If, that is, Fraser could be persuaded to let him use his mouth for something other than kissing.
Then something occurred to him. "Frase?"
"Hmmmn?" Fraser moved from Ray's mouth to his neck, trailing wet kisses over his cheek and up behind his ear until Ray thought he might actually start giggling.
"We've been on this quest for months. Just you, me, Dief and the dogs. We've been sharing a tent, a sleeping bag for fuck's sake. How come you didn't decide to get fresh with me till now?"
Fraser drew back a little and gazed down at Ray quizzically. "This is going to sound a little foolish, Ray. I'd thought about it many times before, but I lacked the courage to act on my impulses. Then last night, while you were sleeping, I took a little walk under the Northern Lights."
"Like in that Inuit story?" Ray asked.
Fraser kissed him again. "Obviously we are both good and kind men. We deserve a little magic."
Ray grinned and rolled over on top of his partner. "Come here and I'll show you a little magic," he whispered.