PG-13 for language and M/M implications
A tiny homage/sequel to Manna LaDroit's "Final Project"


I'm tip toeing quietly, looking like a burglar in my own house. Knowing that you have ears that would embarrass any bat, that you can probably hear my toes rubbing together in my socks, the lint sliding against the carpet. You could probably even listen and tell how many times these socks have been washed since I bought them.

Yet miraculously, you don't wake up as I sneak past you. You must be more tired than I thought. Of course, what we've been doing today would leave anyone tired. Even semi-supernatural Mounties from the frozen backside of the northest north.

Ah. Here we are. I reach inside the drawer, grateful that the wood didn't squeak or scrape as I pulled it open. I lower the brass handle carefully, not letting it click against the front of the drawer. Get the pad of drawing paper, the handful of pencils. Some soft ones, some harder ones for detail, a couple that fall somewhere in the middle. A misshapen putty eraser that looks like someone's chewed gum. A lump of charcoal that shadows my fingers the instant I touch it. I'm not going to close the drawer. Too much noise.

I'm not going to miss this chance. I had thought that guard duty was my only chance to get you staying still. I'm not as good as you are yet. I can't draw things that are moving around, not even if I see them every single day. The problem is that when you're on guard duty, Benny, you look like a lawn ornament, a statue, a doll…anything but a human being with wants and needs and hurts and fears and a perverse little sense of humor that most people never even notice. Now, here, I can draw you being still, yet still draw you looking natural.

Do you have any idea what you look like when you sleep, Benny? No, of course you don't. That's a pretty ridiculous question. You look like a child. Really. I know that everyone looks younger when they sleep, but you look almost indecently so. Don't have many lines on your face to begin with, and when you sleep, they all smooth out, leaving you looking like a really big six year old. Almost makes me feel guilty for some of the things we were doing not so long ago.


Now I'm sitting in the armchair across from you, the pad set just so on my lap. I don't dare to turn on any more lights. I'll have to make do with what spills in from the kitchen. It's strange, but I feel like I could suddenly do this in the darkness. I look at you, and suddenly, I *know* these shapes, these planes, these lines. It's like a self portrait that happens to borrow someone else's skin.

You're flat on your back, and no one would ever believe this, but you're actually sprawling. It's a very untidy position, and you'd hate to hear it described that way, but it's an honest to God sprawl. One arm tucked back, one flung to kingdom come, back bowed into the cushions, hips askew. One leg is stretched out, the toes pointed a little bit towards the back of the couch cushions as your relaxed ankle allows the foot to loll a bit. The other leg is drawn up, the knee bent, as if some small corner of you wants to pull into the safe, secure fetal position, but you're too brave to actually do it.

Shit. What am I doing? It's nothing more than a sleeping position. I'm analyzing it like some kind of shrink. Concentrate on the drawing, Vecchio. If you were lying on your left side with your right toe in your ear, what would that mean, other than the fact that I already know you're more flexible than a circus contortionist? Okay, so it would mean that I have a mental picture that will probably never be erased. Way to go.

Long sweeps of the pencil for your legs, shading with the softer ones to catch the curves, the delineation of the muscles. Thick, sturdy thigh muscles, knees that don't even think of being knobby, calves that are defined enough that the muscle actually looks like a heart from behind.

You have amazing legs, you know that? If you get right down to it, I mean, really look brutally, the rest of your body is nice enough, but nothing beyond well-proportioned and suitably Mountie-fit. Except for the legs. They're smooth as a baby's sigh, and they're the kind of legs that every woman in the precinct would shoot you for if those ridiculous Mountie pants didn't do such a good job of hiding them. They're as long as any swimsuit model would ever want, slender, but pure muscle. I guess that all those ice things you do, like skiing and skating, do a lot for legs. And you're a Mountie, so that means horses, and those help too, right? Whatever it comes from, though, I've just decided not to let you near the 27th in blue jeans.

Bigger feet than I thought. Wide, too. Is that from walking so much? Or do guys born up there come with built in snowshoes? I move to a slightly harder pencil, sliding it along the side of the lead to catch the callused look on the toes, the fact that you have the pattern of your boot laces more or less tattooed into your skin over your instep.

Moving up in the other direction, I switch pencils again. An H this time, two steps harder than the last. I need it to catch the crisp look of your white cotton boxer shorts, donned again upon your own insistence in case the house decided to burn down and we had to run outside all of a sudden. You wore them all day, but I can still see the creases. I guess starch will do that.

The position of your bent leg stretches them tightly against the curve of your ass, but loosens them in front. Those contours are barely hinted at by the line of the shorts. Doesn't matter. I know they're there, and I could probably do them from memory the next time I sketch you.

Then it's on to your torso, flat stomach faintly shining with sweat that hasn't quite dried yet, the gentle curve of your pecs, the rosy discs of your nipples, drawn tightly to little beads by the air conditioning. You may not think much of it, Benny, but it's a chest I'd kill for, broad and strong.

It's coming easy now. Drawing you used to be hard, but now it's easy, so easy that it feels almost wrong somehow. It should be harder to catch beauty on paper, but for once in your life, Benny, you're easier than a two-dollar hooker. I grin wickedly as I catch myself on that thought. Okay, maybe for twice in your life.

Most of your body is completely hairless, but there are a few places where dark curls do make their presence known against the sunless white of your skin. The lush pelt on your head, of course, but also a small tuft under each arm, one at the base of your groin, the lightest shading of tiny, fine hairs, light as chick's down, that arrows from your navel down. I couldn't even see that hair. Had to feel it.

One arm is pulled back, your head pillowed on your forearm. It bunches your bicep tightly against the skin, and I use a soft pencil to catch that curve. It's not ripped, you can't see veins or muscle fibers, but it's tight and strong, and I remember that it's hard as a rock when it's flexed like that. I deliberately do not allow my eyes to wander to my own upper arms. I'm not going there. Not now. This picture is about you, Benny.

Now across those shoulders - broad enough to land something on - and on to the other arm. This one falls from the couch in a loose, sinuous line, the back of the hand flat against the carpet, your fingers falling open. It's back to the harder pencil for those hands. God, they almost don't look like they belong to the rest of you, do they? Harsh, worker's hands. Callused, scarred, weathered and worn, with the veins and tendons clearly marked, the nails recessed a little bit into the ends of the fingers, the joints blocky, the fingertips blunted. They don't look like they could be part of that smooth body and that half-grown angel face.

Of course, they do belong. Your hands are the part of you that whispers of ice burns and arctic storms weathered chasing desperate men, of hard, manual labor, and of being the most goddamned dedicated cop on any nation's police force. It's so right that the only outward sign of your hardness is something people don't notice right away.

Most people don't notice your hardness at all, inward or outward. They see Mr. Canada, Mr. Dudley Do-Right, Mr. Thank You So Very Kindly. I admit I've only seen it once or twice, that look that tells you that there is a dangerous man beneath the pristine serge. I wonder if I can ever capture that on paper. Somehow, I doubt it. It's hard enough to mirror a soul…mirroring a faint shadow that occasionally flickers across a soul is damn near impossible.

I'm at your face now. My fingers are almost a blur, moving so quickly. Can 't let myself think too hard, or I'll turn you into that plastic statue outside the Consulate. Your face is so Ken-doll-exactly-so that it can happen in an eyeblink. One moment, I can have *you* on that paper, the next, a perfectly beautiful wax work sculpture with your face. I won't let that happen this time.

Sweep the charcoal across the line of your jaw, smudging it with a fingertip. Jaw is strong here, here, most of there, but softens out there, the line still square, but the contours smoother. Then curve up over the chin, firm and full, but with the slightest hint of a cleft that I can only see when the light is on you from the diagonal like this. Lower lip is full, moist and shining where you ran your tongue over it in your sleep - use the eraser to lift that highlight - upper lip thinner, but with a cupid' s bow that makes it almost look like a girl's mouth. Use the charcoal left on my pinkie to suggest cheekbones, temples, contours of forehead. Trace my pencil along the sea-shell curves of your ear. Now the nose, straight as an arrow, so sculpted and precise, the nose that you remember from the art book but didn't think you'd ever see on a human being. Dark yet narrow eyebrows, darker eyelashes that lay like a black lace curtain against your cheek. If Frannie ever looked at those lashes, she'd probably scream and fling her thickening/lengthening/curling/darkening mascaras out the window. Use the blackest black charcoal to darken your hair, picking out the highlights and curls with little flicks of the eraser.

I'm done, Benny.

Looking at the image on the paper, I swallow hard. I almost can't believe it. I actually did it.

Okay, so it's not a photograph. That's not the point. In terms of getting all the lines and shadows and proportions right, I think I did pretty damned good. Not quite as good as my guard duty sketches, but a thousand times better at the same time. This time I managed to grab your soul on the tip of my pencil and rub it into the paper. You look strong and vulnerable and hardened and innocent and so beautiful that I want to kiss the graphite and paper lips, except that I know how much sweeter the real thing is.

I sign my name with a flourish, proud for once to identify the work as my own. More than that, I feel as if I'm claiming the subject at the time. As if I have to. By some quirky, unbelievable favor from the God of Insanely Lucky Chicago Cops, you *are* mine. The man, the picture, even the heart suspended between the two.

Quietly, I blow away the little bits of rubber that cling to the paper from the eraser, then turn to the next page in the sketchbook.

Lets see if I can do this again.



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