For Nos4a2no9 by innocentsmith

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Title: Christmas Away From Home
For:  nos4a2no9
Pairing/Characters: Fraser/Kowalski
Warnings: kidfic
Author's Notes:  For the fabulous-in-all-ways Nos, in the hope that it being kidfic and holiday fic and established relationship will make up for the extensive presence of an OC and, um, occasional angst amongst the schmoopiness.  Anyway, written with much love and many hearts, from your loving Seekrit Santa.

Title: Christmas Away From Home

For: nos4a2no9

Pairing/Characters: Fraser/Kowalski
Warnings: kidfic
Author's Notes: For the fabulous-in-all-ways Nos, in the hope that it being kidfic and holiday fic and established relationship will make up for the extensive presence of an OC and, um, occasional lack of schmoopiness. Anyway, written with much love and many hearts.

It was late when they returned, and the neighborhood was quiet by Chicago standards, with only the noise of distant traffic and a lone radio playing Bing Crosby.  The house on Octavia Street had lamps still lit in most of its windows, though someone, mindful of federal energy restrictions, had unplugged for the night the ancient strings of primary-colored Christmas lights.

They parted at the the foot of the stairs with a wry smile and a nod, Stella venturing above and Fraser heading to the kitchen to get a glass of milk for him and another of water for Ray. Francesca and Maria were deep in conference by the rack of recently-washed dishes; he did his best to fetch the milk and water without being drawn into their complaints again, and was mostly successful.

As he passed through the upstairs hall, he heard Ray Vecchio's muffled voice insisting, "I'm not saying anything, I'm just saying if it's that little punk Sammy Bracchitta  - " and Stella's exasperated, soothing murmur in response.  The light was on behind Angelica and the younger Maria's bedroom door as well: Francesca's daughters staying up late to share complaints against the elder generation, though he supposed Renata and young Raymond would be off together somewhere else, continuing to sulk.

Stopping just outside of the door to his own assigned bedroom to shift the glasses enough to turn the knob, Fraser heard his daughter's voice.

"--my last name, and the luck of the draw, you know?"

"Yeah, I know," Ray was saying as Fraser entered. He was perched, one foot on his knee, on the edge of the double bed, looking up at a flatscreen above the dresser.

Margaret, dressed still in her blue uniform and a parka, looked down from the screen, her image inflated and a bit blurry and herky-jerky: the camera in Maggie's living room was older and had a lower resolution than the one in use here. He could still see the drops of water from melted snowflakes, clinging to the dark curls of her hair. She'd been too caught up in talking to Ray to take off her coat.

Fraser could tell by the set of Ray's shoulders that he knew Fraser was there, but it appeared he was out of the sightline of the camera by the way Margaret went on, confiding and unselfconscious, "It's like Depot. Half the time I was there I was just trying to do well enough that nobody would, I don't know, find me out. I always felt like I was there under false pretenses."

"Uh-huh. Welcome to life, Junior."

"I know, I know. It's just -- " She was waving her hands, Ray-like.

"I get it, don't worry."

"So -- you'll tell him for me?"

Ray's expression, even in obscured profile, was soft as he answered. "Yeah, I can do that. If that's what you want. Oh -- " turning, and pretending to have just noticed him coming in. "Hey, Fraser." He put out his hand for the water, and then made a face at it. "Nightcap. Thanks."

 "You're welcome. Margaret. It's..." he tried, but was unable to come up with anything better than, "...good, very good to see you."

"Hi, Dad."

"She just got in a few minutes ago," Ray offered. "Maggie's putting the kids to bed -- "

"And fielding inquiries about Santa Claus and the laws of physics," said Margaret, "Lord help her.  So she's kind of wrapped up. We'll all call tomorrow, I just wanted to let you know -- to say hi, and, um, merry night before Christmas."

"That's very thoughtful of you, Margaret." He'd get the rest of the story later from Ray, he told himself firmly. There was no use in worrying preemptively.

"I...wish I could be there."

Ray snorted. "The hell you do. S'World War Nine around here." (They had, Ray had explained to him earlier, run through at least six world wars in previous years.)

"Oh no," Margaret said, before seeming to note her parka for the first time and tugging it off, a smile pulling at the corner of her mouth. "What's up?"

Fraser sat down beside his husband on the bed. "Your cousin Angelica is, ah -- "

"Knocked up."

"Oh dear. Is she...?"

"Oh dear nothing, she's fine. Angie's fine. Frannie's on the warpath, Vecchio's tearing out what hair he's got left." Ray leaned forward, elbows on his knees, his thigh warm against Fraser's own. "Talking about calling out a hit on the kid, which, the FBI clowns he's been consulting for would love that."

Margaret had a worried line between forming between her eyebrows. "Which kid is this?"

"That's the thing, Angie's not saying. She's having too much fun."

"I'm sure she's not -- "

"Oh, sure she is. Hey, she's got a roof over her head, more babysitters than you could shake a rattle at, she'll be fine. She can keep going to college, anything she wants. And she knows it, she's just hacked off at her mom and trying' to be cute about it." Ray had advanced this argument earlier, when Fraser chided him for his blatant schadenfreude; watching Angelica and her mother fight, he had to admit that bringing out the news with the mashed potatoes at the dinner table had probably not been the action of a girl who wanted to keep things quiet.

"Death threats being cute now?" Margaret was skeptical.

Still, it might have been an attempt to garner support from the rest of the family.  Fraser had resolved to speak to Angelica tomorrow about her options and her plans. 

"It's not just that, not just that. I mean, the not-saying about the father has gotta be some kinda time-release karmic blasphemy boomerang thing for my fake sister, yeah, after pulling that 'immaculate conception' bullhockey back in the day. I mean, geez," chasing a familiar tangent, "Frannie went to confirmation class, right? She shoulda known her terminology better."

"Well, it isn't young Maria who's with child, Ray," Fraser pointed out, against his better principles and with a straight face.

Ray waved this off. "Guess what she's threatening to name the kid. Go on."

Margaret frowned still, but her eyes were twinkling. "Ah -- 'Emmanuel'?"

"'Wonderful Counselor -- " quoted Fraser.

"The Mighty God, the Everlasting Father--"

"The Prince of Peace'?" they finished, chanting together.

Ray made an aggravated noise at them, the one that meant wiseass Mounties, why is it my destiny that I'm surrounded by you? "No. Try again. And as a hint, lemme tell you, Ray and Rennie? Not amused."

Margaret blinked, opened her mouth to speak, and then got it. She began to laugh. (Fraser despaired of all of them sometimes.)

"It is not funny," Ray told her.

Fraser thought it was, actually, in a perverse sort of way anyone who didn't know them all wouldn't understand.

Oh, he'd been as disconcerted as anyone at the way Francesca had named all her children for maximum conversational confusion; though he appreciated the compliment he couldn't help feeling sorry for the small bundle of blankets that had had 'Benton' foisted upon him, but this was as nothing beside Francesca's decision to honor both of her brothers Ray as godfathers. Especially by assigning one of them to a girl. "At least she's not named Stanlina or something," Ray had said resignedly, standing beside him at the christening. It was still trotted out regularly as a grievance in family arguments, by all holders of the name.

"It is not funny!" his own Ray insisted as Margaret giggled helplessly. "It is sick. It is evil. Your cousin is evil. We are going to have to start color-coding ourselves if this goes on."

"Really, I'm amazed you couldn't hear the shouting up in Yellowknife," Fraser said mildly.

"And then," Ray said, "then Frase and Stella just walked out and went for coffee in the middle of everything. Everyone's yelling, they go to Starbucks."

"Well, actually, Ray, it wasn't Starbucks." (They'd had to drive twenty minutes to find an independent coffeeshop, Stella driving the car onehanded while flipping through radio stations, before she heaved a huge sigh and said, "I am so glad I never had kids." )   "It was -- "

"Not important, Fraser," Ray said, shaking his head dismissively.

"It's always important to favor small businesses over large corporations." Fraser said, in his best voice.  "What kind of example would I be setting our daughter if I let her think I'd compromised my morals for a mochaccino?"

Margaret was turning pink with laughter. "Dad..."

"What is important here is that you abandoned me..."

"Well, you were enjoying yourself so; we didn't want to tear you away."

"You and Stella, the two of you, because you are both wusses who can't take a little verbal heat -- "

"If you say so, Ray." ( He'd stared at Stella, beside him in the car, and for a long moment could think of nothing to say in response. At last, he'd replied, "I...certainly respect that as your decision." She'd rolled her eyes and said, "Yeah, I bet.")

"I really miss you both," said Margaret, catching her breath.

Later, when they'd rung off - ("Bye, Ray. Daddy," she'd said in parting, "I love you,") and he and Ray were half-into their respective nightwear, Ray said, abruptly casual, "So I guess you're wondering what Junior wanted me to tell you."

Fraser straightened up, his toiletry bag dangling foolishly from his hand before he set it down on the dresser. "Ah. Well. Yes?" There was a sinking feeling in his gut.

"Calm down, geez. It's good." Ray looked down, fiddling with the buttons on his longjohns. "You remember the thing last month with the kids?"

Fraser nodded, mutely. It would be rather hard to forget hearing that one's daughter had negotiated herself into being taken hostage in exchange for three schoolchildren, let alone the excruciating three hours of waiting together by the phone, before they got the call that Margaret had managed to talk the gunman into surrendering himself into her custody.

Ray knew all about what those hours had done to him; Ray's face had drawn and white as his own while he rubbed the back off Fraser's neck absently, steadily. He didn't see how he could now refer to the event in such an offhanded manner.

"Yeah, so. They're taking her off field training, making her a full constable.  Kinda early, but.  They wanted to make a thing about it, put her picture in her class's newsletter and yours."

It took a moment to process. "Ray," he said at last.

"You ask me, she should've got a commendation, but that's the way the cookie crumbles. She thinks probably her field coach just doesn't want to have to deal with looking out for a Fraser any more, which is, you know. Understandable."

Fraser sat down heavily on the bed.

"Hey," said Ray, putting an arm around his shoulders. "S'okay. She did good."

He nodded.  After a second, he said, "She couldn't tell me herself."

"Nah, it's just....hard. You know how it is. She feels weird about it, doesn't think she deserves it or something, it's a family tradition or something. C'mon," and Fraser let himself be pushed back onto the bed, where Ray stroked his hair and kissed him, toothpaste-flavored.

"She wanted you to know, that's why she called," Ray told him.

"I would have preferred to spare her," he said, voice thick, "some of the family traditions. I would have preferred..." To have the same easy sympathy with his daughter that Ray had always had, to know how to tell her how it had been for him as his father's son in the RCMP. She'd had her bachelor's degree; he'd thought perhaps graduate school, travel...

"Yeah, well, she makes choices, that's her job. It's our job to be proud." Ray poked him lightly in the ribs. "They're having some kinda reception thing week after New Year's, she wants us there."

"Yes, yes of course."

"And she'd prefer we didn't go arresting anybody this time around, like her swearing in."

Fraser stiffened a bit, the accusation catching him off-guard. "I suppose we should have waited, but...Ray, the police dog smuggling ring was...."

"Yeah, I know, I was there, wasn't I? Excuse me, who fell through that window with you? Who dragged that German Shepherd off the Chief Superintendent?"

He deflated a bit. "Ray. Do you ever think Margaret is, well. Caused any inconvenience or embarrassment by our, ah, notoriety?  I mean, I had hoped that our presence as guest lecturers during her time at Depot would be supportive, but given some of the, well, situations that arose --"

"Uh." Ray was grinning. "That's a hell, and also a yes, Fraser. You realize, her first date the guy she was with asked her if she'd sign his National Geographic? That is not an innuendo."

 "Oh," he said. It would be the issue with the discovery of the Franklin Expedition, presumably: "Fraser and Kowalski: Northwest Passage" and a dozen pictures of the two of them pointing at one thing or another and smiling like besotted fools. Which, of course, they were and always would be. Margaret's date would've had to have saved it since he was a boy. Fraser didn't realize that he'd begun rubbing his eyebrow till Ray moved his hand aside and kissed it.

"Don't worry about it. Junior's used to it, she gets it. She'd probably understand even if we did crash through another window at the reception, 'long as it was a good cause and all that."

"I wish," he said, hesitantly, beginning to shift and adjust the blankets to cover them both. "I really wish we could be there for her."

"We are. And hey, next year, maybe, we'll get everyone together for Christmas."

Pulling the quilt up over Ray's shoulder, Fraser rested their foreheads together. "...You always say that."

"Yeah, well," said Ray, kissing him again. "We've got the rest of our lives to get it right."

"--chocolates filled with Grand Marnier, which of course Frannie's kids found and inhaled, so now they're running around like they're possessed--"

"Uh-huh," said Ray into the phone, bopping as he stirred the eggnog.

Tell me why is it always this way? sang the CD player. Where is Rudolph? Where is Blitzen, baby?

" -- and apparently someone fed one of them to the cat, so now Ray and Maria are arguing over making it throw up, whether they should and how, and -- Ray? Ray!"

"Yeah, Stell." The nog looked kinda over-speckled.  He leaned in to sniff at it, doing a two-step and carefully avoiding the puppy trying to worm its way underfoot. Too much nutmeg? Maybe if he added more cream...

"You're dancing, aren't you," said Stella's voice, resigned. "I'm telling you why I have a headache, because you asked, and you're standing there on the other end, not listening to a word I'm saying and dancing."

Christmas ain't the time for breaking each other's hearts....

"Uh, kinda?" Ray admitted. "Also I'm making eggnog."

Stella sighed at him over the phone line, long distance reproach all the way from Pensacola. "Hey, I got stress here, too. You!"

The puppy had found a stray drop of nog on the front of the stove and was trying to scour the stove's entire surface with its tongue. Ray nudged the small fuzzy body aside with his ankle, and it attacked his shoelaces. "Quit it." It was the runt of the litter, so they'd been keeping it inside instead of sending it out with Fraser like the rest of the dogs, but it seemed to be picking up some of Dief's attitude and taste in food.

"Sure, I know. He could hear through the phone a muffled whump, Stella flopping down on a bed or a couch or something, and, from the sound of her voice, arranging a cushion or a pillow under her head. "You've got to walk ten miles uphill in the snow just to get to the bathroom."

 "Nah, that was the old cabin." Ray grinned at the soup pan. "Fraser says he misses the walk, invigorating, good for the ..."

"Shut up, Ray."

"Hey," he said innocently, as though it was just occurring to him. "You guys should plan on heading up here next year. We can all go caroling." Only not, 'cause: negative six degrees Celsius. But two years ago they'd been down in Florida for Christmas and somehow Fraser had used his special Mountie persuasion powers to get the Vecchios to go from door to door, getting doors slammed in their faces. It had been pretty scarifying; Stella was now making puking noises on the other side of the phone. (Ha.)

I love you and you love me, And that's the way it's got to be...

"Moving on," she said firmly.

"Moving," he repeated.

"So have you called your brother yet?"  He made puking noises back at her. "Very mature. Look, call him or he'll call me to get your number, because apparently he's incapable of remembering it, and then I'll have to talk to him."

"Yeah, yeah."

She paused, and then asked, with something he didn't know how to read in her voice, "How's Junior doing?" Maybe it was just the connection.

"She's fine," Ray said automatically, glancing up. "She's...good.  Kinda intense about the whole Christmas thing, but good."

It was true. Margaret was currently hanging out under the dining table, a bright spot in her red wool sweater, surrounded by ribbons and rolls of paper, with Dief beside her, head on his paws. Ray didn't get why you'd go to the part of the room with the crappiest light to wrap your presents, but hey, whatever worked for her: she was giving every fold and scrap of tape her full and unswerving attention, though every now and then she'd glance up and smile at thin air, or say something Ray couldn't make out. Probably Caroline she was talking to: Martha definitely wouldn't be sitting with her on the floor, and she didn't have that strained talking-to-Grampa-Bob expression.

"Fraser gets all worried, but she's settling in," he told Stella, and looked down at the eggnog. Ew, skin. He stirred it, and it got all clingy on the spoon.

"I'm glad. Listen, Ray, I...I should probably go." "Okay," he agreed, because what else was he going to say?

Stella was probably the least weird of everybody - everybody non-Canadian - about Margaret, but it was just a weird situation all around, there was no denying. And not everybody could tolerate the same daily nutritional value of weirdness.

He was really looking forward to spring, when the RCMP was going to start sending them new graduates for field training with Frase and Maggie. It would be good for Margaret to have people around who didn't look at her like she was going to run away or vanish into thin air, and Ray figured between the three of them - Fraser-Kowalski-Mackenzie, Terrors of the Territories - the baby Mounties would be too busy dealing with escaped French shoe importers or illegal water bottling operations or getting treed by a bear - whatever came up - to think Margaret was unhinged for talking to herself sometimes.

Once upon a time he'd thought having kids would steady him and Stella, make them...real, somehow. And that had been another example of Ray's basic fuckheadedness in his first marriage, but there might, maybe, have been a screwed up something in it, was good to be needed. It was good to have a living, breathing reason why he couldn't fuck up, couldn't afford to think I'm gonna mess this up, how could I not mess this up, to keep pushing at his and Fraser's boundaries. Kids were life or death kind of important, and life or death was what the two of them were good at.

And tough as it was, some things were, bizarrely, easier. It helped, for instance, when Mags and Fraser got into one of their little powwows talking about eighteen ways to skin an elk, or the time when one or the other of them was six and had faced down a cougar with only a ball of twine and a half-empty tin of golden syrup, that him and Margaret could just lock eyes with each other and think, there is too much Canadianness going on here.

They didn't even have to say it out loud. Before, he used to have to stomp off to fix the water heater or something, the Clash turned up on his walkman till his ears hurt; he knew him walking out kind of maybe hurt Frase and Maggie's feelings, but he couldn't help it. There was none of that when Margaret and Ray would do their little eyes-meeting thing: it was just like they'd passed something between them, like a folded note, and that made it okay. Ray hadn't had that with many people - Fraser and Stella, maybe his dad for a while when he was a kid. He was pretty sure, looking at Margaret sitting with the wolf and (probably) a ghost, wrapping presents, that she hadn't ever had it with anyone.

He and Stella exchanged love ya, babes and then he poured a couple mugs of nog and went out to join his daughter under the table.

"Don't look!" she said as he knelt down, and he shut his eyes and waited through the rustling of paper. "Okay, now you can look."

He handed her a mug, which she accepted and took a considering sip of. "Okay?"

"I don't know, what's it supposed to taste like?" she asked, frowning before setting it down.

 "Like eggnog," he said, peevishly. She made a face and demanded he hold a ribbon in place for her, which he objected to on the grounds that it was his present and there had to be some kind of law against that. And then complied.

The CD changer had switched from one of his to one of Fraser's: there was folky guitar strumming, sounded like Stan Rogers, maybe. Ray decided, out of the deep well of magnanimity in his soul, not to bitch about this, because Margaret was unconsciously humming along.

"Do you think Dad will make it home tonight?" she asked, with a really crappy attempt at being casual. "I mean, I know there were the morons out on the ice, he had to get them booked or whatever. It's cold, it's getting late, if he needs to sleep at the outpost or Aunt Maggie's that's fine. I wouldn't have a problem or anything."

Ray tried to think of a way to say, Kid, Fraser would get here tonight if he had to do it through a blizzard. A blizzard of fire and melting water bottles. A way that was a little less high-pressure, though.

Dief whined and made a snorfling sound, and Ray said, "Pretty sure he'll make it," and Margaret relaxed minutely.

"I'm sorry," she said, and when he made a for what? face at her went on, "I know you usually go down to see the Vecchios for Christmas, I know you didn't go this year because of me. You thought it'd be too much for me."

"Hey..." Too much for everybody, was what it was: they hadn't even considered it, just said 'next year, maybe.' Next year when Margaret was more settled in, had started school, when Vecchio had gotten over looking guilty and furious half the time, when Fraser had stopped acting like he had to keep his daughter wrapped up in velvet every second or she'd, like, break. They were getting better, they were all getting better. They just weren't there yet, and it was fine. "I oughta be thanking you, you got me out of all that. Stella was telling me, they're trying to make a cat barf up chocolates, it's a bad scene. We're good here."

"Yeah," she said, softly, and rested her head on his shoulder for half a second before starting in on wrapping her last present. The puppy, wandering over, batted lightly at one of the scraps.

She'd been in a mood, the last couple days, which meant Fraser had too, at least until they got the call about the rogue water bottlers blowing chunks off the local glaciers. Ray figured it was a mix of Christmas stuff - it got to everybody, even or especially if you didn't have many good Christmases to compare the current year with - and having received another letter from her mother.

Margaret hadn't opened it. She never opened the letters, not since the first one.

Fraser was all antsy about the letters, too, like he wasn't going to say anything but he thought she ought to open them. Or like maybe he and Ray shouldn't be handing them over at all -- they'd had a fight about that, after the second one came, probably the worst fight they'd had since Margaret had come to live with them.

What it came down to, Ray had had to explain, not very coherently, arms stuck under his pits to ward off the wind chill out on the porch, was that those weren't either of their letters, they were Margaret's. And if she wanted to read them and get all upset like last time, she could do that; if she wanted to shove them into a box under her bed, or burn them, or whatever the hell she wanted, that was her right and they were not going to fucking interfere. It didn't matter what Victoria was writing to her kid, bullshit about how much Fraser sucked or that she was being persecuted there in the facility, or even nutso plans to get her sprung out and go back on the lam.

Margaret was there with them because she'd chosen them, and they were not going to make her think she couldn't trust them. Not even for her own good. And if that was understood, then they should go back inside now 'cause if Fraser thought the kid didn't know they were out here arguing he was dumb as a rock. So they did.

That night, after Fraser had pressed him into the mattress, covered him with bites and bruises where he held on, and then gone to sleep kissing him, all dreamy and so, so sweet, Ray laid awake a while thinking. Fraser couldn't stop trying to save Margaret from pain, he couldn't stop apologizing to her with his eyes, every time he looked at her. They both kept apologizing, Margaret for running away those first few hellish months after Victoria was committed, Fraser for - Jesus, everything, ever, from way before Margaret was even born. He'd probably apologize for Mrs. O'Leary's cow kicking over a lantern and starting the Great Chicago Fire if you gave him enough time and a cow suit. Like either of them were going to feel any better throwing all that at each other. Doofuses.

Ray pretty much wanted to cold-cock Victoria Metcalf on a daily basis for the shit she'd put the two of them through, but any idiot could see they both were the way they were partly because of her: like each other, and not like anybody else in the world. So maybe what he really wanted was to say, Ha ha, bitch, you thought they were yours to break? Enjoy the nuthouse, 'cause you're never getting them back. (Okay, Ray had never claimed to not be petty.)

They'd get there. And if Margaret talked to ghosts sometimes - well, as long as she didn't believe everything they told her.

It was at this point that Ray actually paid attention to what old Stan on the stereo was singing. And at least it means no beating from her Dad And if she cries because it's Christmas Day She hopes that it won't show... First Christmas away from home. "Jesus Christ on a sidecar," he said, and knocked his head on the underside of the table scrambling up to change it. "What the -- "

"What are you doing?" asked Margaret.

Ray thought it was pretty obvious: he was stabbing viciously at the CD player till it moved on from the freaking miserable wallowing Canadians apparently thought counted as Christmas music.

"This," he said, bouncing on the balls of his feet, pointing accusatorially at the stereo, "this crap, you are not listening to this. This is a bad example for you --" She had begun laughing, Dief nosing at her curiously and the puppy, deciding there was some kind of incomprehensible but dire threat at work, starting to bark, so Ray had to raise his voice. "I am serious! You're Canadian, okay, fine, but - shut up, already! - but there are limits, and -- "

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.... rolled out of the speakers.

 "That's better," he said, satisfied, and as an afterthought turned it down a little.

Margaret was still laughing like a loon, the puppy was still barking, and so of course that was the moment when the door blew open and Fraser crashed in like the Ghost of Christmas Present, bigger than life and with a whole sea of wolf-dogs surging in around him and knocking things over, including Margaret who was getting her face just about licked off. Most of them started barking, too, just for the hell of it.

Fraser got to be more of a freak every year, thought Ray fondly.

For example: "It's a perfectly good song," was his story late that night, under his breath as he and Ray fell into bed after doing the stealth present deployment thing.

"Is not," said Ray, sleepily, tugging the blankets over Fraser's shoulder, and rebuking him for his bad taste in Christmas music with a kiss.  "Depressing."

"I find it hopeful.  I think you'll find - "

Ray reopened one eye just to glare at him.  "Fraser.  Did we or did we not get the bad guys, almost fall off an iceberg doing it, bring 'em in, book 'em - "

"Technically, Ray, Maggie and I 'booked' them while you returned home - " objected Fraser, burrowing down and grabbing Ray's hand to hold it under his chin.

" - fed the dogs, fed the us, got the kid to bed - "

"And it wasn't an iceberg, it was a - "

" - finished doing the presents, and you're missing the point here," Ray said, eyes slipping back shut.

Fraser kissed Ray's hand.  "And that is?"

"We did good.  And now it is passing out time, not arguing about song time."

"Ah," Fraser's voice went even warmer.  "Well, feel free, Ray."

He was drifting off, thinking nice sugarplum-type thoughts when he heard Fraser add, real quietly, "Merry Christmas, Ray."

"M'r'y Chr'm's."  And then, "Frsr?"


"The song sucks."  And Ray grinned as Fraser kicked him.

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Oh, Santa. This story has absolutely everything I love in a dS fanfic, and I think you've even invented a few new things for me to adore. You did a fabulous job with the kidfic request, nailed the holiday angle, and I give you a perfect 10 for delving into complex family dynamics while still delivering a structurally interesting and engaging story.

I LOVE IT, in other words :-)

Your OC was terrific. Margaret is lovely and complicated and sweet and so determined to do the right thing (must be genetic, at least from the father's side) and I really liked the way you explained her backstory and then built up her relationship with both Fraser and Kowalski. It was a fantastic choice to introduce Margaret as an adult and then include a flashback to her first Christmas with Fraser and Kowalski. You showed us how far they'd all come.

In fact, all of the relationships in this story (paternal, romantic, familial and those that have formed through bonds of affection, like the stuff with the Vecchios) were wonderfully well-developed. I loved older Fraser and Kowalski. I loved Kowalski and Stella, and that Fraser and Stella are, like, buddies, and go out to snag some coffee and decompress when things get too busy. I liked Kowalski's rapport with Margaret, and that Fraser and his sister are still close, and I really, really loved the look at how Fraser and Kowalski function as parents. I can't describe to you how happy this line made me: Kids were life or death kind of important, and life or death was what the two of them were good at.

Thank you so much for writing such an awesome gift, Santa. It's everything I love in a story, plus a few extra elements that I didn't know I'd been craving until you slotted them in here. I feel really touched that you put so much time and energy into crafting something just for me, and I can't wait to find out your seekrit identity so I can *hug* the stuffing out of you. Thanks again, and happy holidays, m'dear!

This is terrific! Neat structure, and the whole bit with Frannie's daughter and the names is hilarious ("Rennie" had me on the floor!!), but it's also absolutely wonderful how RayK and Fraser have become part of the Vecchio family. Margaret is a great OC, and--ouch!--with that touch of angst that I know Nos loves. Perfect, perfect gift for her.

This bit was brilliant:

It was good to have a living, breathing reason why he couldn't fuck up, couldn't afford to think I'm gonna mess this up, how could I not mess this up, to keep pushing at his and Fraser's boundaries. Kids were life or death kind of important, and life or death was what the two of them were good at.

And there were many other thinky-wonderful bits. A great read!

Jade Lennox Author Profile Page said:

this is absolutely wonderful. This is what is best about kidfic -- not schmoop about precious little darlings with their tiny little hands, the children who are real people, who have real back stories of their own, we'd want to read about even if it weren't for the boys. And then you bring in the rest of the family and make them real, too, and Stella, at all of these are characters I love. Thank you!

wihluta Author Profile Page said:

Wonderful story!

I love how Margaret is her own complex person, not just a one-dimensional sidekick. And you described the whole (extended) family so well.

I love the structure, starting with the distant future and then telling how they got there.

And the names... the names... *grins happily*

Aww, this is great! I love future!fic, and I liked how everyone got along and were family, from blood relatives to friends to ex-wives, and this just put a huge smile on my face. Well done!!

V Author Profile Page said:

I really enjoyed this. Great future!fic and kid!fic. :)

Quite nifty, beautifully constructed and absolutely perfect for Nos.

I love this setup...enjoyed Margaret's character, and all the extended family dynamics.
Also -- the National Geographic article, and Fraser taking them out Christmas caroling!

Plus, the existence of a story referencing "First Christmas Away from Home" makes me very happy! (great song although I entirely understand Ray's reaction :) )

Oh, sweet. Well, done.

I love all the little glimpses we get of Fraser and Ray's life and their extended family.

I thought the letters from Victoria was a wonderfully angstful little touch, and then:

Margaret was there with them because she'd chosen them, and they were not going to make her think she couldn't trust them. Not even for her own good. And if that was understood, then they should go back inside now 'cause if Fraser thought the kid didn't know they were out here arguing he was dumb as a rock. So they did.

Very well done.

They both kept apologizing, Margaret for running away those first few hellish months after Victoria was committed, Fraser for - Jesus, everything, ever, from way before Margaret was even born. He'd probably apologize for Mrs. O'Leary's cow kicking over a lantern and starting the Great Chicago Fire if you gave him enough time and a cow suit.

I loved the whole story, but especially this bit. The cow suit made me snort. Yep, that's Fraser all right, and I totally believe his daughter would be the exact, same way.

awwww, I love madcap extended family stories, and the digs at wacky Canadian literary/lyrical darkness cracked me right up. Excellent RayK voice, too. :)

spuffyduds Author Profile Page said:

Oh, this was just marvelous! I love the voices, and the way everyone's relationships have shifted somewhat over time but they're still totally believable and feel just like what WOULD happen. (Fraser and Stella! Slightly awkward buddies! Frannie's daughter cheerfully torturing everyone!)

And Margaret, oh Margaret. So perfect. You just want to squish the serious out of her.

Beautifully done!

Aaaaah I love this! I love how I didn't see Margaret's parentage coming, but it's so *right* when you do find out, and I love Fraser and Ray as parents, and I love all the Vecchios and Stella, and in conclusion, made of awesome.

this isn't THAT long of a story, but it's SO full of exactly the RIGHT kind of details that it feels as if there are ENTIRE WORLDS contained within it. it's just lovely, and i want about 10,000 more PAGES of it. SO MANY HEARTS.

This fic had so many perfect elements, I hardly know where to start: structure was spot on, introducing Margaret Fraser "Jr." and Fraser's fatherly remorse and Kowalski's diplomatic ways. You developed the dynamics in such a wonderful way, especially with Margaret having to face up to the "Fraser Legacy" and doing so in such a Fraser-esque way.

Characterization of Fraser and Ray were also spot on, with the dialogue and the love and the arguments. I can SEE the Fraser and Kowalski you show here, very clearly!

I loved how Stella is now a part of the family in a new way, and I just grooved on Fraser and Stella escaping together for a coffee and some snark. LOL! No one knows the Rays better, so they have a lot to share! Awesome.

The whole "Victoria had Fraser's child" thing is an idea I love in any flavor, as it brings in so many complications and possibilities, and you explored both in a pitch perfect way for a holiday fic -- loving without being too schmoopy sweet.

And Fraser and Kowalksi grinning like loons in National Geographic? AWWWW YEAH!!! They SO would!

the best kind of kidfic!

I loved that opening scene at the Vecchios/Chicago, with Ben and Stella bonding over the crazy; then the next scene in Canada, with Margaret conversing, Fraser-like, with ghosts (and Ray being cool with *that* brand of crazy)

Luzula Author Profile Page said:

This is so wonderful. I think it's actually my favorite of the DSSS stories this year (well, at least the ones I've read. What I like so much about it is how it's got exactly the right details to make it warm and fuzzy and Christmas-y without being at all schmoopy. I can't count the number of times a line made me go "yes!", because it was so right. Here are some examples:

- the National Geographic issue (and the besottedness! yes!)
- Fraser and Stella going for coffee
- Margaret not being able to say what she wanted to Fraser directly
- the ghosts talking to Margaret

Also, I loved the Vecchio household. So warm and chaotic.

Azamiko said:

Good family fic. =D

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This page contains a single entry by innocentsmith published on December 16, 2008 12:04 AM.

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