For keerawa by Stars

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Title:  A Half-Wolf's Christmas in Chicago  (Five Things Diefenbaker Likes About Christmas)
For:  Keerawa
Pairing/Characters:  Dief, F/K
Warnings:  none
Author's Notes:  With apologies to Dylan Thomas for the title.  Thank you kindly to everyone who helped, from brainstorming to beta.  

when it snows, ain't it thrilling

though your nose gets a chilling




Dief loves the snow.  When the autumn weather begins to turn, scenting the air crisp and cold with the promise of winter to come, he wants to caper and cavort and howl with anticipation. 


If he is at home at the cabin with Benton, Dief will yip the canine equivalent of later and be off, sometimes for days.  He trots away purposefully, nose to the ground, tracking the closest pack of his brethren.  Once out of Benton's sight, he quickens his pace, stretching into a ground-covering lope that will tax his city-softened physique.  He runs and runs until his muscles burn, until his lungs bellow in air-sucking rhythm. 


Perhaps he will join the others, or perhaps not.  At times he is content with a distant camaraderie, preferring to snap at the first fat flakes of snow that fall to the ground, or to shovel his nose along a scent-rich tunnel to flush his prey.  Then Dief will hunt, jaws flashing with carnivorous intent rather than domestic good humor. 


Afterwards he will roll in the snow, kicking and pawing and rubbing his face until his fur is once again spotless.  He will stand and shake away the excess, and return to Benton, leaving nothing behind to mark his passage except a patch of pink-stained snow.     


Winter in Chicago means snowball fights with Benton and Ray.  When Dief imitates a snowplow in the city, the only prey he has in mind is the pale pink-gold flesh of Ray's neck, left vulnerable to an icy nuzzle.




a star, a star, dancing in the night

with a tail as big as a kite




Dief is accustomed to extremes - of weather, diet, exertion.  He has thrived in the gloom of a true Arctic winter, and waited in vain for the sun to descend below the horizon in summer.  It is the rhythm of nature, the pulse of the land that courses through his veins. 


In Chicago the cycle of dark-light, day-night changes with the flip of a switch.  Strings of colorful twinkling bulbs adorn apartments and businesses and houses, dripping icicles of light from the rooftops.  Candlelight gleams through windowpanes and flickers in sand-weighted paper sacks set out on porches, illuminating the darkness. 


At Christmastime in Ray's apartment, the ever-present muted red radiance of chili peppers is supplemented by tiny pools of luminosity spilling through evergreen branches, casting shadows on the wood floor and painted walls around the tree.  Dief curls up underneath the lowest boughs, keeping a watchful eye as Benton and Ray string popcorn and cranberries into festive garlands - Dief's horticultural advice having been frustratingly ignored. 


Then Benton speaks of the Lights at home, how the sky ripples like waves on the ocean, sheets of pink and green painting over the blue-black of midnight.  Dief might not hear the longing in his voice, but he can read it in every line of Benton's body, from bowed head and rigid shoulders to the atypical fumbling of his fingers on the needle. 


And Dief wishes Ray would come home with them.     




a voice, a chime, a chant sublime

of peace on earth, good will to men




Dief might not be able to hear as a wolf should, but that doesn't mean he doesn't listen - especially when Benton sings. 


Sometimes Benton sings just to show off.  His voice isn't displeasing, so Dief keeps one ear cocked in case anything important is mentioned but otherwise lets Ray nip at Benton's heels when it's time for peace and quiet. 


I never said what kind of bird, Fraser.


Understood, Ray.


Sometimes Benton howls at the moon with his song, every bit as plaintive and seeking as one of Dief's full-blooded kin.  At home he can - and, on rare occasion, does - throw back his head and fill the woods with sound.  Dief stays by his side, swipes a furtive hand-lick if he judges Benton's mood accordingly.  Together they tramp through the snow, crunching footfalls and the swish of paws over frozen ground a counterpoint to the melody Benton carries like a burden. 


When the music fades to little more than a hoarse hum, they curl up by the fire and sleep.


In Chicago, Ray argues that the Canadian version of The Twelve Days of Christmas is vastly superior to the traditional carol, but still not as good as an American adaptation would be.  Benton is shocked speechless for nearly fifteen minutes, sitting still and silent on the sofa while Ray wanders around the apartment singing fiiiiiiive onion rings and otherwise changing lyrics to suit himself.


And a beer! 




deck the halls with boughs of holly

'tis the season to be jolly



Christmas in Chicago is too much peppermint and fake pine scent (Dief almost believes that Benton's nose suffers as much as his own) and, sometimes, trees that look real but aren't.  Those make Dief sneeze the worst. 


Benton gathers discarded evergreen branches and curls them into a wreath, which he hangs over the tiny window of his office-den.  The familiar, comforting smell of pine resin lulls Dief to dream of chasing ever-elusive Arctic hares, flashing white tails and feet in his face as they flee in bursts of churned-up, powdery snow. 


Chicago is prickly holly leaves and bright red berries, which Benton reminds Dief not to eat as though he were a witless pup.  It is sparkling tinsel on the scraggly tree in the Pack Leader's office-den, metallic silver strips which Ray reminds Dief not to eat as though he, and not Ray, was overly fascinated by shiny things.


Chicago has mistletoe.  Dief approves of mistletoe, if only for the opportunities it provides when two parties are sufficiently distracted as to guarantee the success of a stealthy, low-key canap√©-pilfering operation. 


Chicago, too, is suffering the immeasurable indignity of wearing a wreath around one's neck - and, on one particularly embarrassing year, a Santa hat on one's head and elf boots on one's four feet.  (The things Dief suffers for Francesca.  Or, rather, for the cookies and donuts and other delectables she lavishes on him due to the cuteness of his ensemble.) 


Benton must think Ray looks cute, too, because Ray and the Stetson are inseparable during the holiday party at the police-den.  Dief doesn't think Ray could pull off elf boots with the same degree of √©lan, though.




now the goose is on the table

and the pudding made of fig




Christmas in Chicago is Dief's epicurean delight:  cookies and eggnog and striped candy canes to lick and crunch, mincemeat pie and ham and turkey and hot cocoa with little marshmallows, Turnbull's elaborate cheese platter and experiments in potato pancakes. 


Christmas at home, the one time they spent it at the detachment with Benton's sire, meant goose and vegetables and bread pudding and pie and a rather unfortunate moose hock rolled in wild boar tongue, covered in gorgonzola, that even Dief couldn't stomach.    


Caribou at home tend to kick first and ask questions later, tough and stringy compared to the plump, hand-fed reindeer of the petting zoo in Chicago.  (Not that Dief ever had the opportunity to taste one, but he could imagine.)   The caribou at home are unquestionably real, unlike the visions prancing through the corridors of the police-den that Benton mutters about until Ray loses patience and threatens to kick him in the head.  (Not that Ray ever has kicked Benton in the head, but Dief can imagine what that would be like, too.)


Before Dief and Benton came to Chicago, Christmas often meant pemmican chewed in haste, pursuing a fugitive from one end of the Northwest Territories to the other.  Alone, except for each other.  No reason to celebrate aside from the successful apprehension of their prey. 


In Chicago, Benton is only as alone as he allows himself to be.  They gather in the police-den, at Francesca's loud pack-den, with Benton's police-pack in their own den.  Ray comes along and fetches them, brings them home and ruffles Dief's fur, putting a thick blanket down on the floor for Dief to lump up into a comfortable shape for sleeping.  Ray and Benton work together companionably in the kitchen; Dief's mouth waters from the delicious aromas of cooking.  (Wolves never drool, no matter how much Ray might fuss about it.  Dief chooses to ignore him.)      


Low-voiced laughter echoes from the kitchen.  Music plays quietly in the background, thrumming gently through the floorboards under Dief.  The decorated tree sheds soft light.  All is calm.  All is bright.   


Dief yawns, rests his head on his paws, and settles down for a long winter's nap. 

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Oh, what a lovely Dief-centric holiday story.

This was so well done, lyrical and beautiful.

I really liked this image:

Afterwards he will roll in the snow, kicking and pawing and rubbing his face until his fur is once again spotless. He will stand and shake away the excess, and return to Benton, leaving nothing behind to mark his passage except a patch of pink-stained snow.

V Author Profile Page said:

I adore this. Awesome Dief!fic. :)

Oh, man, this was fantastic. Dief!Fic just makes me a happy girl, and this was beautiful written and funny and really touching. ::pets Dief::

Great job!

Wow! This was really beautifully written, and I loved the way you wrote Dief - his POV is sophisticated and the vocabulary you assigned was expansive, and I really liked the blend of more animalistic qualities in the narrative with the refined narrative voice. Well done!

Awww, so sweet. This goes right on to my holiday reading list for every year. An instant classic. :)

etcetera-cat Author Profile Page said:

I love the way that this whole thing flows and, of course, Diefenbaker can never be made of anything except win.

Oooh, Dief's way of seeing is vivid and wonderful. :)

Oooh, Dief's way of seeing is vivid and wonderful. :) said:

What a lovely Christmas tail--um, tale! *snuggles Dief*

I think I'll take this one out to read every year; it puts a sweet shot of Christmas cheer into my often Scrooge-y heart. :) :)

Oh, this is WONDERFUL!

I was watching my dog play in teh snow this week, and you really captured the joy of it in the first bit. The language of this is lovely, and I really enjoyed your take on Diefenbaker's mind and voice.

Dief might not hear the longing in his voice, but he can read it in every line of Benton's body, from bowed head and rigid shoulders to the atypical fumbling of his fingers on the needle.
And Dief wishes Ray would come home with them.
That made me tear up.

Ray made me laugh (And a beer!), he's so vibrant and I can see why Benton needs him.

The epicurean section was a real delight. In Chicago, Benton is only as alone as he allows himself to be is quite the wise-wolfish insight. I think you've really captured Dief's perspective, and this whole story makes me very, very happy.

Thank you so much!

Jade Lennox Author Profile Page said:

I can't decide which I prefer, how wonderful it is to have a Diefenbaker-centric story, or the fact that you -- completely off the cuff, without calling attention to it -- reference Bob and Doug McKenzie. What a great story.

china Author Profile Page said:

Oh, I really liked this. Yay, Dief! :-)

I echo the 'lyrical' comment, as that fits the tone of this fic beautifully. I love the simplicity of the Dief perspective, how everything just makes sense at an elemental level and in language that I think truly reflects Dief's personality.

Wonderful story! Thank you!

perfect Dief voice! wonderful Dief POV.

...just sentimental *enough* to make it sweet and Christmassy, not too much so that it's sappy. Just enough angst to make it bittersweet.

Overall, an extremely tasty treat!

sam80853 Author Profile Page said:

Oh, Dief!

This is beautiful!

Luzula Author Profile Page said:

Oh, nice Dief POV! And I like the structure, too.

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This page contains a single entry by Stars published on December 15, 2008 11:36 PM.

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