Somewhere Else to Be
|Title:||Somewhere Else to Be|
|Length:||440 KB, 59512 words|
|External Links:||at author's site, at DSA, at AO3|
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Reactions and Reviews
This one is a due South alternative universe Fraser/RayK story. Kellie's Ray is funny and smart and sexy and tough. Fraser ain't bad either, but read this one for Ray. 
The other 'Ray K is a mechanic' AU, only this time Fraser is an academic and Vecchio is a mobster (boo! hiss!) For those who haven't been able to tell thus far (i.e., those who haven't read any of my previous Due South recs), I'm a big Vecchio fan, so the fact that I can rec a story in which Vecchio is the *bad guy* must tell you something. And that something is that this fic rocks. Fraser is repressed, Ray K is sparking with energy, and Ray V...well, best I don't think about that too much. On top of all of that, the majority of the story takes place during a Chicago heat wave, and Fraser doesn't have air conditioning. Who does he know who does? Ray K, of course, necessitating long, hot, sweaty hours spent half-naked at Ray's apartment. Come on, how can you possibly skip this story with a teaser like that?
(For those that actually want plot: Fraser is a professor struggling to come back after getting thoroughly screwed by Victoria at his last job. Ray K is the mechanic who works on Fraser's jeep. They bond over chess, spend lots of time together beating the heat, and then run into mob trouble due to the fact that Ray V's marrying Stella and Stella sucks. At least I can get behind that last characterization.)Excellent Fraser and Ray voices, with a good assist from Dief and Welsh. A perfect fic for those who are already missing the summer. 
Note: This one is an AU. Just wanted to tell you that right off the bat so you wouldn't be wondering what was going on. You'd figure it out and Kellie mentions it in the notes. Thought I'd throw it out there anyway. So you'd know what you were getting into. I can't believe I forgot to rec this fic. It's another case of brain freeze I'm sure. I was surfing around the other day and saw either a rec for this or some mention of it somewhere. Can't remember which. I then started wondering if I had rec'd this story or not. Since I love it, I swore that I had. I then searched through my recs and realized I hadn't. Shame on me. So I'm seeking to rectify that little faux pas in in this update. This one is an AU like I mentioned. In this story we have car mechanic Ray paired with College Professor Fraser. Definitely a hot combo. Even though this version of Fraser is a little more used to larger cities, he still has trouble adjusting. It's still hard for him being so far away from his home and finding new friends in the Windy City. The two meet and sparks fly, naturally. This one is a journey into how the boys become friends in this mirror world and from there how they become lovers. Its a great trek that takes you through the boys as they slide from friendship into love. I read this one I don't know how long ago, probably early on when I got into this fandom. I've loved it since I first came across it. It's one not to miss in the fandom overall and definitely one of Kellie's stories not to pass up. I still can't believe I forgot to rec it before. I feel like I'm having to play catch up with these recs, always back tracking and rec'ing old stuff, while trying to rec new stuff along the way. I'm not sure if I'll ever really catch up. One can dream though. It's an aspiration. 
Due South is not one of those fandoms that seems to inspire a lot of AUs (by which I mean stories in which Ray K is not a cop and Fraser is not a Mountie). There are, however, a few dS AUs that are well worth reading. Kellie Matthews's Somewhere Else to Be is among the best of them.
Kellie is one of the "backbones" of due South fanfic. She's a wonderful storyteller - she writes long, involved, interesting stories, always with an appealing underlying sweetness. She's called herself a "fluffy vanilla girl" - but that's a label which, while perhaps technically accurate, doesn't really do her justice. Yes, her stories are often light-hearted and whimsical (e.g., Ray going undercover as a rent boy or a bicycle messenger), and usually they are relatively angst-free - but they have substance and depth of feeling and a certain poignancy; many of them stick in your head for a long time. And maybe she's "vanilla" - but her vanilla is the Madagascar kind, highest quality; she is a truly gifted writer of smut, definitely one of the best I've ever read, and her stories are reliably, invariably sexy. I think her sex scenes work so well and are so hot because she is so effective at interweaving the characters' feelings and identities into the explicit details, so that each sexual encounter feels like a real, unique coming together of two people - and also because she is so good at making sex seem fun and hot and sexy even when it isn't perfect. It's a rare gift.
Somewhere Else to Be epitomizes all these things - it's long and engrossing, sweet and sexy and touching. It's also that rarity in fanfic, an AU that really, truly manages to capture the essence of the canon atmosphere and characters in a fully realized, interesting, believable alternate setting. You get the feeling that if there had been just one slight glitch, one tiny alteration, in the canon universe, things for Ray and Fraser could have turned out like this rather than like canon - it's that recognizable. Kind of like the Butterfly Effect (which, coincidentally, has an appearance by Callum Keith Rennie) - the same characters, same dynamic, just a slightly different context.
The universe that Kellie creates is beautifully imagined and realized. Ray is an auto mechanic and Fraser is a Canadian archaeology and anthropology professor temporarily in Chicago on a fellowship. On the recommendation of one of his students (Levon Jefferson, the boxer Ray coaches in Mountie and Soul), Fraser brings his jeep to the garage where Ray works. They strike up a conversation and gradually become friends and then lovers. Many familiar secondary canon characters appear in one guise or another - Welsh as the owner of Ray's garage, Ray Vecchio as a local mob guy, even Mort as Fraser's department chair and Gladys (from Eclipse) as his housekeeper. And Kellie skillfully and seamlessly adapts events from canon - things like the buddy breathing from Mountie on the Bounty, Fraser's comment about finding Ray attractive in Eclipse, Ray's remark that he'll try anything - preserving their original essence and importance while integrating them into her own universe .
Kellie's characterizations are especially solid in this fic. Ray is particularly endearing - funny and smart, tough and sexy, yet with a surprising vulnerability and great capacity for tenderness. Kellie also effectively and movingly conveys Fraser's loneliness and aloneness, his fear of and desperate, painful desire for connection. The contrast between Ray's and Fraser's reactions to prior hurts - Ray's emotional honesty and inability to dissemble about his feelings, despite the risk, versus Fraser's tendency to keep everything inside, to freeze up and shut everyone out and believe the worst - is also especially well done.
(It's worth noting that Ray Vecchio is characterized a bad guy in this story - the plot (such as it is, this being primarily a relationship-driven story) revolves around Vecchio's hatred for Ray Kowalski, whose ex-wife Vecchio is about to marry, and Ray Kowalski's defiance when Vecchio bullies him and threatens Fraser. Though there are some fans who are uncomfortable with this portrayal of Vecchio, I had no problem with it - to me, it's certainly well within the realm of possibility that in an alternate universe the Vecchio of canon could have ended up a mobster and a bully rather than a cop. They're two sides of the same coin, really.)In sum, Somewhere Else to Be is simply a great read - well written, totally engrossing, touching and sexy and sweet, with just a tiny bit of angst and h/c, enough to add piquancy without detracting from the sweetness. It's one of the best from an author whose many wonderful fics have immeasurably enhanced the fandom.