Trinity by Musegaarid

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Title: Trinity
For: J_S_Cavalcante
Pairing/Characters: Fraser/RayK
Warnings: PG-13
Author's Notes: Happy (belated) Chanukah!  I tried to hit as many of your prompts as possible; all I can say is thank you for making them fun!  I think the only thing lacking is porn, and I do apologize for that.  It just didn't seem to go with the rest of the story... 

Deepest gratitude to my betas, who told me that with a little extra work, this fic could be awesome.  Here's hoping!



"Ray, would you please stop the car?"


Ray twisted his head around to look as he pulled the GTO swiftly to the curb.  "What is it?  Mugging?  Car-jacking?  I'm so not doing the voodoo thing again, Fraser.  Don't you dare get me involved in..."


"Beanie Babies," said Fraser, putting his hat on and exiting the car.


Ray scrambled out after him.  "What the hell?"


"Beanie Babies," Fraser repeated, walking down the pavement.  "Francesca has tasked me with acquiring the final doll to complete her collection.  She is apparently seeking a 'Cubbie the Bear' toy, which was only given to children at Chicago Cubs games and makes the creature rare and valuable, as you might well imagine.  I'm not certain I understand the vehemence she evinces in the face of what are, essentially, children's play things, but..."


Ray did not want to hear a lecture on the respective merits of Beanie Babies.  He wanted to know why Fraser was wasting their lunch hour talking about Beanie Babies.  "And you're telling me about this now, because...?" he interrupted.


Fraser pointed to a guy in a purple do-rag and baggy shorts who'd set up a rickety table on the corner to sell the popular toys.  As they approached, a frighteningly thin woman in revealing clothes - crack whore, Ray's mind helpfully provided, but he could hardly arrest her for buying toys - thrust some bills at the man and walked off with a stuffed frog.


"Frase," he murmured.  "This is a slum.  Those are probably stolen or counterfeit or something."


"It's certainly easy enough to tell," replied Fraser, unconcerned.  Then he turned to the man at the table.  "Good day, sir.  I was hoping to peruse your selection of Beanie Babies."  Only the Mountie could say that with a straight face.


The punk didn't answer, but he looked twitchy, and Ray was getting some seriously bad vibes here.  Fraser didn't seem to notice as he reached for one of the bears and inspected its tags.


"Ah, I was mistaken," he explained.  "This isn't 'Cubbie the Bear' at all, but a first generation 'Brownie the Bear', who is, I believe, an even more rare specimen.  May I inquire as to the sale price?"


Ray rolled his eyes.  Way to negotiate, Frase.


"Ain't for sale," grunted the guy, looking tough and... afraid?


Fraser's eyebrows rose in surprise.  "Well, it is a difficult item to find.  Perhaps you keep it on hand to entice prospective buyers, or you simply enjoy the opportunity to display your own personal collection."


The guy looked at Ray with the is-he-for-real? expression that Ray had come to know all too well.


"I notice another bear in the box behind you," Fraser insisted.  "How much would you ask for that one?"


"Ain't none of 'em for sale."  Jumpy, real jumpy.  Ray's hand went automatically toward his holster.


"That's patently untrue," said Fraser, in his patient voice.  "The woman who was here a moment before we arrived purchased a 'Legs the Frog' from you for what appeared to be three hundred dollars."  He looked thoughtful.  "Although that seems significantly higher than the market value would indicate for one of the more common toys.  Especially if it had the same incision on the underside as this one."  


As Fraser displayed the underbelly of the bear doll to the merchant, the guy jammed his hand into the box behind the table.  Going purely on instinct Ray threw his arm out protectively and yelled, "Fraser, get down!"  


Fraser dropped and rolled just as the guy whipped out a pistol and opened fire.  Ignoring the screams down the street, they scrambled behind a tricked out Acura and Ray pulled his glasses out to return fire.  "Chicago PD!" he yelled.  "Drop your weapon."  Like that ever worked.


The perp just flipped his table over to provide cover and Beanie Babies flew everywhere.  Fraser stared at the one in his hand a moment and looked at their surroundings.


"Got any bright ideas?" asked Ray, his voice thick with adrenalin.


"Perhaps..." Fraser hesitated.  Ray chanced a look over the top of the car and fired off a couple more shots before turning back to his partner.


"Sometime today, Fraser."


"Ray, do you think you can get the gunman moving?"


Wide-eyed, Ray stared at him.  "Uh, yeah, sure."  Squeezing off a few rounds for cover and reloading his gun, Ray dove behind the next car parked on the street and then the next, trying to get around the guy's side.  Realizing the strategy, the Beanie Baby seller fired over his shoulder and took off running.  


The shooter hadn't gone far when the bear that had been in Fraser's hand fell in front of him with a solid plop, releasing all its beans through the gash that had been neatly sliced in it.  Unable to slow down, the perp hit the beans, slid several feet, and smashed into the ground.  Before he could steady himself, Ray was on him, going over the Miranda spiel breathlessly.


Fraser then kept the gunman pinned while Ray returned to the car to radio for backup, but a moment later he was back.  "Right.  Uniforms will be here in three."


"Ray..."  The Mountie's voice was slightly strained.


"Yeah?"


Fraser picked up the plush shell of the decimated Beanie Baby and they both watched a plastic bag full of white crystals drop to the sidewalk.


Ray stared at it.  "I'll get a warrant."


***


Gun drawn, Ray kicked open the door and crept into the apartment.  The place was a total sty.  His own home wouldn't be winning Chicago's Cleanest Apartment award anytime soon - that'd probably be Turnbull's house, wherever the hell that was - but at least Ray wouldn't have left food on the floor to rot.  Well, not for more than one night, anyway.


As Fraser snuck in behind him, his nose wrinkled at the smell, Ray pointed his weapon and swiftly turned the corner.  Nothing.  He scanned the place quickly but silently.  There was no one in the living room, kitchen, or bathroom, which was possibly even more disgusting than the rest of the place and Ray was nearly gagging as he exited swiftly.


Then somewhere nearby he heard a door sliding open and a sharp intake of breath.


"Ray," called Fraser from the bedroom, his voice higher than normal.  "I found..."


"Found what?" replied Ray, coming cautiously into the small room.


Fraser inclined his head toward the closet and Ray whistled.  There was a huge mound of gutted Beanie Babies, a bag of rocks that sure as hell weren't diamonds, and two big brown eyes looking up at him.  


"Jesus Christ..."


***


Welsh jerked his head in Ray's direction.  "All right, who's the guy?"


"Darnell Jackson.  Two-bit gang banger, arrested on two prior felony charges," said Ray, glancing to the open folder in his lap.  "Member of the Black Tygers.  List of misdemeanors long as... whatever you got that's long.  Got him this time on possession with intent, a weapons charge, running from the cops, attempted manslaughter, and littering."


"Littering?"


Ray jerked his thumb at Fraser standing stiffly in the back of the room.  "Sir, I believe you'll find that the synthetic pellets found inside the stuffed toys that Mr. Jackson was using to conceal the illegal pharmaceuticals are less than friendly to the environment, and..."


Welsh just rolled his eyes.  "Yes, thank you, Constable.  All right, Vecchio, what's the verdict?"


"Stella says third time's the charm.  Probably going up for life."


"What with this being the biggest drug bust of the year," Welsh interrupted in disbelief.  "That you just happened to stumble across whilst out scouring a crappy neighborhood for Beanie Babies on your lunch break."


Ray shrugged.  Fraser colored slightly.


"All right," Welsh sighed.  He turned to the fourth occupant of his office, a social worker by the name of Maria Flores.  "And the kid?"


"Her name is Trinity Williams," explained Maria.  "She's six years old, never been to school.  Slightly malnourished and dehydrated but otherwise seems to be in good health.  Mother's name was Sharona Williams.  Died of a drug overdose approximately four years ago.  Father, as you know, is Darnell Jackson.  We can't find any other family; grandparents, aunts and uncles are all deceased."


Welsh nodded.  "We may need to speak with her.  She going into a foster home?"


"System is overloaded," Maria said, shaking her head.  "We've already got more than sixty kids who need places and not enough foster care to go around.  She'll go to a group home."


Fraser stiffened.  "An orphanage?"


"It's a very modern facility, Constable Fraser.  She'll be provided for there and will enjoy the company of other children her own age.  She will be free to leave once she turns eighteen."


"Eighteen..."  Ray watched Fraser's eyes do that narrowing thing they did whenever he was hearing something he didn't like.  "Surely she would be adopted before that time?"


"Anything's possible," explained Maria, "but this little girl is black, already school-age, and was probably exposed to drugs in the womb.  Quite frankly, I doubt anyone would be willing to adopt her..."


"Enough," interrupted Welsh gruffly.  "Detective Vecchio, I believe there are other cases on your desk that do not involve stuffed toys..."


"I will," said Fraser quietly.


Welsh stopped, perplexed.  "Pardon?"


"I will adopt the child, Leftenant," Fraser repeated, standing - if possible - even straighter.


Welsh, Ray, and Maria all stared at him for a moment.  Fraser cleared his throat, but said nothing else.


Ray was the first to react.  He jumped to his feet.  "Sir, if I could just have a word with my partner...?"


Welsh waved him away with a  long-suffering look.  Ray grabbed Fraser's arm and dragged him out of the office.  He waited until they made it to the supply closet and the door was shut before swinging around.  "Are you completely unhinged?!  You can't just adopt a kid like that!"


"I..."  Fraser ran a thumb across his eyebrow.  "The child is my responsibility, Ray.  Because of my actions she has been deprived of a family and a home."


"No.  Her dad's a shithead crack dealer, Fraser.  That does not make her your responsibility.  That makes her... not your responsibility."


"She's very young," Fraser argued.  "She won't understand.  She'll think it's her own fault that her father was taken from her unless someone explains otherwise.  No one will in a 'group home'."


Ray could actually hear the quotation marks.  "Do you have any idea what this takes?  A kid ain't a wolf, you know.  This is an always and forever kind of lifetime forever thing."


"I am well aware of that," replied Fraser stiffly.  "But I have committed myself to the RCMP for the remainder of my life.  There is no reason I could not commit to a person, as well.  In fact, I believe it is a much more common event."


"You don't even know this kid!" Ray objected, his hands gesturing wildly.  "She could be some kind of total spaz!"


"I don't believe that would be a problem, Ray."  Fraser seemed vaguely amused.  It kinda pissed Ray off.


"Well, you know what would be a problem?"  He poked Fraser in the chest.  "You live in your office.  The Ice Queen keeps 'accidentally' walking in when you're in your underwear.  You think a kid is gonna be comfortable in a sleeping bag surrounded by Canadian file boxes or are you gonna shove her in the closet 'til she's thirty?"


Fraser shook his head, looking faintly uncomfortable.  "I will need to find an apartment, of course."


"On your pay?  Great.  Greatness."  Ray threw up his arms in disgust.  "I'm sure it'll be fan-fucking-tastic.  You can let some bum provide childcare whenever you're not around.  He'll buy her milk at the liquor store downstairs."


"Ray. Ray. Ray. Ray."


"What?!"


"She needs a father, Ray."


And then Ray got it.  He finally fucking got it.  He sank onto a box of paper and ran his hands through his hair.  Dammit, this wasn't about the kid at all.  This was about Fraser, whose father wasn't around when he was growing up and whose mother died when he was... six.  Christ.  He looked up, resigned.  "You're gonna do this, aren't you?  No matter what I say, you're gonna do this."


Fraser looked determined.  "I am."


Fuck, fuck, fuck!  "All right."


They walked back to Welsh's office side-by-side.  When the door opened, Welsh raised an eyebrow.  "Well?"


"I would formally like to announce my intent in acting as a foster parent to Trinity Williams until such time that I may adopt her."


Maria stood.  "Constable Fraser, while I certainly admire your attitude, the process for becoming a foster parent..."


"Ms. Flores," interrupted Fraser.  "As far as I understand the Regulations for Legal Representation of a Minor, the only truly necessary requirements to becoming a foster parent are that the adult or adults in question pass a background check, hold a steady job, and retain an appropriate home for the child.  I can easily provide you with fourteen years of references from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police as proof of the first two, and while I have not yet obtained appropriate housing..."


Maria's lips flattened in disapproval.  Ray recognized a Stella 'I've-spotted-a-loophole-in-your-argument-you-idiot' look when he saw one, so he jumped in.  "Actually, they're gonna stay at my place.  Been there two years.  Two bedrooms.  Never been late on the rent or utilities."


"Ray, I can't..."


"Shut up, Fraser."  He cocked his head and threw his arms out.  "That good enough for you?"


She blinked.  "Well, if that is, in fact, true, I don't see any reason why not...  It's not like you'd have to wait in line for this child.  But there is a great deal of paperwork first."


Welsh shook his head in disbelief, Ray snorted, and Fraser just gave a little smile.


***


"Ray, thank you kindly for the use of your home.  In a few weeks I should be able to find an apartment of our own, but in the meantime it means a great deal to me."


"Yeah, yeah.  You thanked me like three times already."  They were in a discount furniture store looking at little beds and dressers.  It was like they were giants in midget land.  Ray was digging the plastic race car bed, but he wasn't sure a girl would properly appreciate it, and besides it was bright red.  Couple coats of paint, maybe...


Fraser was looking at a very plain wooden set.  "I didn't intend for you to have to give up the use of your home office.  Trinity is my responsibility, not yours."


"Hey, that's buddies.  I don't use that room much anyway," shrugged Ray, looking at the price tag on the wooden bed.  "You want this one?"


They bought the most basic set and lugged it home.  The bed was so tiny that it fit in the backseat of the Goat easily and the dresser tucked into the trunk.  When they got back to Ray's place, they spent the rest of the day assembling furniture and cleaning out the room that Fraser and Trinity were going to share. 


Only Fraser didn't seem to want to stop at the one room. 


He kept going until the whole apartment was nicer than it had probably ever been: cleaning like he had a real hot date that night. Ray's bemused look turned Fraser red.


One last run to the Consulate to pick up Dief and the rest of Fraser's meager belongings and then they were standing in the finished room.  Trinity's small bed hugged the shorter wall next to the door; they'd painted somewhat lopsided pink flowers on the headboard to liven it up a bit.  Fraser's cot was underneath the window on the wall opposite and the dresser occupied the space between.  Across from the dresser was a closet, which held Fraser's uniforms on the top bar and a few smaller, empty hangers on the lower one.  It wasn't exactly the Barbie Dream House, but it'd do.  Fraser gave Ray one of those rare, blinding smiles, and Ray bumped his shoulder back.  "C'mon.  Pizza time."  He was almost knocked over by a supposedly deaf half-wolf.


***


Maria came by the next morning with Trinity.  The little girl was clutching tightly to her hand.


"Good day, Ms. Flores.  Hello, Trinity.  It's nice to see you both again," Fraser said, welcoming them inside.  Ray could tell he was nervous because he kept playing with the collar of his flannel shirt.  


Trinity's eyes were wide as she shrank behind Maria.  "You's cops," she demanded.  "My daddy said not to talk to no cops."


Fraser sat back on his heels.  You want to appear less intimidating, Ray, he'd explained about eight hundred and thirty-two times.  Apparently, Fraser had read up on parenting a few years back.  One never knows when such knowledge will prove to be useful.


"Ray and I are, in fact, officers of the law, Trinity.  However, I promise that we will not ask you any questions about your father."


She stared at Fraser and looked up at Maria.  "Huh?"


Maria smiled.  "They are cops, honey, but they won't ask you anything about your daddy so it's okay to talk to them."


"Oh."


"You may call me Ben, if you'd like.  And this is Diefenbaker and Ray."  Maria wasn't too pleased to find out about Dief, but they assured her that he was perfectly safe with children.  In fact, while they talked, Trinity and Diefenbaker became fast friends, running all over the apartment.


After about half an hour of Ray feeling like he was on inspection, Maria finally pronounced herself satisfied with the housing arrangement and she left them all together.  Trinity's little fingers were buried in Dief's fur like she was gonna hide in there.  She looked scared.  Fraser crouched down again.


"Trinity, I want you to know that Diefenbaker and Ray and I are all here to care for you and keep you safe.  I understand that this is a significant adjustment for you, so please let us know if there's anything you require."


She stared at him.


"You hungry?" asked Ray.  "We got peanut butter and jelly or grilled cheese."


Dief yipped, which made Trinity giggle.


"Guess that's grilled cheese all around," grinned Ray, moving to the kitchen.


***


After lunch, they put away Trinity's sparse belongings: a few clothes went into the new dresser and a ratty looking half-bald doll named Rachel onto the new bed.  Fraser made a list of all the things she'd need, including underwear, socks, and most especially a new coat.  The underpants and socks they bought new at a discount store, along with a toothbrush and a little pink towel.  The rest of her clothes they picked up from a nearby thrift store.  Fraser let her pick out her own things as much as possible, as long as the items fit and were fairly practical.  At one point, while Ray was guarding the changing room from pervs and feeling like one himself as he lurked outside, Fraser slipped off for five minutes before returning with an armful of children's books.  With a quick, crooked smile, he added them to the basket before offering compliments on Trinity's choice of a thick purple coat.

 

Ray felt he should have known that things were going too well to last.

 

When they got home, Ray helped Trinity put her things away while Fraser made dinner.  Ray even found a dusty set of baseball themed book ends that The Stella had deemed too ugly to keep, but would neatly hold Trinity's new books on top of the dresser.  That done, they lounged around the living room, Ray watching a baseball game and Trinity playing with Dief until Fraser called them in to dinner.

 

"Chicken nuggets, mashed potatoes, and peas," he announced proudly, setting the dishes on the table.  Ray had to smother a grin.  What kind of freak made their own chicken nuggets?

 

Trinity eyed them suspiciously.  "Those ain't from MacDonald's."

 

"Are not," Fraser corrected.  "And you're quite correct, Trinity; I made these myself.  They have half the amount of saturated fat, a third the amount of sodium, and I imagine taste considerably better than anything that can be procured at a fast food establishment."

 

Dief was certainly interested in them, but Trinity pushed her plate away.  "I don't want 'em."

 

Fraser did that concerned forehead crumple thing, like when he was disappointed in a criminal.  "Do you not care for chicken nuggets?"

 

"I like chicken nuggets from MacDonald's."

 

"And I find them nutritionally inadequate for a small child," Fraser explained patiently.  Ray couldn't figure out how he did that; he'd have lost his temper by now.  There would be threats of head-kicking.  Not his kid, not his problem, he reminded himself and tried to sit still.  "This is what we have," continued Fraser.  "Perhaps if you try one, you may find that you like it as well."

 

"No." She crossed her arms over her chest.

 

"Very well, why don't you just eat the vegetables, then."

 

"No."

 

Ray glanced at Fraser and smirked.  He had totally just predicted the eye-twitch thing that indicated his partner's annoyance.  Oh, yeah, who's the badass detective?  "Then you may be excused from the table.  Change into your pajamas and you may play until bedtime."

 

Trinity gave him an angry glare and stomped off in the direction of their bedroom.

 

With a small sigh, Fraser caught Ray's eye.  "It's a big adjustment..."

 

"Yeah," agreed Ray.  He speared a chicken nugget and dragged it through some barbecue sauce.  "For what it's worth, I like them."

 

Fraser ducked his head to give Diefenbaker the uneaten nuggets, but Ray thought he caught a glimpse of a shy smile.

 

An hour or so later, when Ray was back with the game and Fraser was reading, Trinity came out of the bedroom.  "I'm hungry."

 

"That is because you didn't eat your dinner," replied Fraser calmly, marking his place and looking up.  "I will allow you to make your own decisions whenever I can, but you must realize that those choices come with consequences."

 

She looked suddenly apologetic. "I'll eat 'em.  Those chicken nuggets."

 

Ray wondered what her life had been like for her to suddenly give in like that.  Would Jackson have hit her?  Made her go to bed without dinner?

 

"I'm sorry, Trinity," Fraser explained, "but I gave them to Dief when you didn't want them.  There are no more."

 

Her little face crumpled.

 

He stood and approached her awkwardly.  "But, ah, there may be some soup left over from lunch.  Would you care for some tomato soup?"

 

Trinity looked up, sniffed, and nodded.

 

He nodded back.  "All right.  Sit with Ray a moment and I'll get you some."

 

Feeling oddly relieved, Ray began the task of making Trinity a life-long Cubs fan as Fraser heated up some of the leftover soup in a mug.  She drank it hungrily and started to look very sleepy.

 

"It's time for bed, I believe," Fraser decided, collecting her mug.  They went through the teeth-brushing ritual, which made Ray smile at the contrast of a small, dark head and a large, pale one spitting into the sink together, and then Trinity was tucked into bed with poor bald Rachel.

 

Once Fraser was settled onto his own cot, Ray snapped out the lights and shut the door behind him.

 

***

 

The next day was Monday and Fraser called into the Consulate to request a leave of absence.  At the table, Ray was working on his second cup of coffee and Trinity was gamely attacking her oatmeal, eying Ray's M&Ms like Diefenbaker would a jelly doughnut.

 

"Paternity leave?!" came the shriek from the phone.  Ray looked up as Fraser held the phone further from his ear.

 

"Yes, sir," he explained.  "Although Canadian law allows for a three month absence, I believe one week would be sufficient."

 

Ray couldn't make out the Ice Queen's words any longer, but Fraser's expressions were more than enough indication as to what she was saying.

 

"No, sir."  Fraser tugged at his collar.  "Ah, no, sir."  His eyebrows went up and he started to flush a dull red.  "Not as far as I know, sir.  But, I...  Yes, sir.  Thank you kindly."

 

He hung up and shot Ray a rueful look.  "Inspector Thatcher seems to believe that I've taken advantage of a young woman."

 

"Huh..."

 

"Indeed..."

 

"Well, it's none of her business..."

 

"No..."

 

After a moment's awkward pause, Ray stood, 'accidentally' leaving one M&M within arm's reach of a particular little girl.  "I gotta get in.  Have fun today.  Don't do anything I wouldn't."

 

Fraser smiled.  "Understood."


***


Dinner that evening was nearly a repeat of the night before.  Trinity wasn't interested in spaghetti that hadn't come out of a can.  Diefenbaker wanted her meatballs.  Fraser reminded her of what had happened when she made the choice not to eat the night before, so she managed a few bites and gave the rest to Dief herself.  It was better than nothing.


Ray asked how their day went.  Apparently Fraser had enrolled Trinity at South Loop Elementary.


"I won't go," was her comment.


"As your legal guardian," Fraser countered, "it is my duty to ensure that you do.  It is against the law to not attend school."


"I hate it."


"You may find it an enjoyable experience."


"No."


Rather than continue a pointless argument with a stubborn six year old, Fraser directed his next words to Ray.  "According to the principal, she will be at a slight disadvantage starting school some seven months after the other children.  Additionally, according to her test results, she's had no previous exposure to letters, numbers, or reading, to which most American children are introduced to no later than Kindergarten.  But I feel confident we can get her caught up."


That night, storytime was introduced to the bedtime ritual.  Ray argued that Robinson Crusoe was being a bit ambitious and suggested the Poky Little Puppy as an alternative.  Fraser politely scoffed - not that he would have called it that, but that's so what it was - and suggested they each read their selection.  Whoever had chosen the book Trinity showed more interest in would be allowed to choose stories for her in the future.  She was rapt during Ray's rendition of the Poky Little Puppy but was asleep within four minutes of Robinson Crusoe even with Fraser doing all the different voices.  Ray grinned in triumph.


"Although I appreciate the themes of your chosen book, those of independence and of dealing with the consequences of one's actions, Trinity was fatigued," Fraser argued.  "Whoever went second would have necessarily lost."


"Hey, that was the deal," countered Ray with a little victory dance.  Which was how storytime ended up becoming Raytime.  He didn't mind too much.


***


By Sunday, Fraser had purchased all of the supplies Trinity would need for school and procured a babysitter for the times he and Ray couldn't be around due to their somewhat unpredictable work schedule.  Mrs. Nnagani was a Nigerian woman who lived in Ray's building.  She had a son in the class Trinity would be joining, along with two younger daughters.  She was a kind, trustworthy woman who was willing to let Trinity spend the night as needed, and charged a reasonable amount for childcare, so Fraser was relieved.  Ray, however, was reaching the end of his rope.


"If I hear her say 'no' one more time, I'm gonna kick her in the head."


"Ray!"  Fraser was scandalized.  "You certainly will not."


"Sure I will," he grinned.  "It's small and close to the ground.  Easy."


Great.  Stiff Mountie.  "I would appreciate you never speaking that way in front of Trinity, even in jest."


Ray rolled his eyes.  Like he'd do that to a kid.


"According to Dr. Spock, she is merely asserting her independence and attempting to ascertain her position in the household.  I don't believe it will continue much longer."


"Figures you'd take parenting advice from a guy with green blood and pointy ears."


"I... what?  Dr. Spock is a well respected pediatrician and child psychiatrist.  Although some of his early medical advice has been scientifically refuted in recent years, his core psychological argument dealing with the balance between affection and discipline has never seriously been challenged..."


Ray held up his hands in surrender.  "Fine, Frase.  Fine.  Go with the Vulcan.  Whatever floats your boat."


***


Monday morning again and by now they had the routine worked out.  Fraser and Trinity would wake at 6am; he would take a quick shower while she got dressed.  Breakfast was disturbingly hearty.  At seven o'clock, Ray would stumble out of his room like some kind of decaffeinated zombie and head for the coffee machine.  While Trinity packed her things for school, complaining the whole time, Fraser dressed carefully and then fetched the healthy bag lunch he'd packed for Trinity the night before.  If Fraser was starting his morning at the Consulate, he and Dief would walk Trinity to school and then head to Canada.  However, if he began at the precinct, he and Trinity would then stare at Ray, who, finishing his second cup of coffee, would look up at the clock, say 'oh shit!' and run to get dressed.  They'd all squeeze into the GTO.  'No more kids or dogs, Frase.  I don't have any more seats.'  Then Trinity would be dropped off at school and Ray and Fraser could get to the 27.


Evenings were similarly planned.  Trinity stayed in after-school care until Fraser, Ray, or Mrs. Nnagani could pick her up.  Homework and dinner followed, along with a short amount of educational TV or play time.  (Dief liked the nature documentaries the best.)  Then she'd take a bath, change into her PJs, have storytime with Ray, and then lights out.  Ray and Fraser would talk over the details of the case they were working when she was in the tub and again once Trinity had gone to bed.  It wasn't always smooth, but it worked for them. 


Saturdays were usually reserved for work or errands: hitting the grocery store, chasing down the shoplifter/mugger/crazy ex-employee with a shotgun they would no doubt randomly encounter, going back to the grocery store to actually buy groceries this time, listening to Fraser and Trinity fight over what was healthy versus what tasted good (most of the time Ray agreed with Trinity, but he knew better than to open his big mouth), taking everything home, putting it away, and beginning the laundry saga.  When one shares one's living space with a Mountie, a wolf, and a first-grader, laundry becomes an all-day affair.  For some reason, Trinity seemed to need to wear three different outfits every day.  Or the same shirt for a week, covered in food and art supplies.  Add to that Ray's often disgusting clothes after having rolled around in an alley or sifted through a dumpster, Fraser's ten thousand identical plaid shirts, and cover everything with wolf hair... well, it took a while.  Especially when Fraser insisted they fold everything correctly, often re-doing Ray's or Trinity's attempts, then taking it all back upstairs to put away.  At least at that point Ray and Trinity could sit back and relax, watching old kung fu flicks, while Fraser spent another two hours starching and ironing his shorts, oiling and polishing bits of his uniform, and whatever all else he needed to do, by which time it was dinner.  No, Saturdays were exhausting.


Ray liked Sundays best.  They slept in a bit.  "Seven o'clock," Fraser had once said with a guilty smile.  "I feel almost hedonistic."  Ray and Trinity had stared at him.  Ray, because Fraser needed to learn how to chill, and Trinity because she really only understood about half of what he said at any given time anyway.  Then they'd have pancakes with real maple syrup and sausage, and go for a long walk in the park.  Dief and Trinity would run around while Fraser and Ray followed at a more measured pace, just shooting the shit and enjoying the day.  The afternoons varied.  Sometimes Fraser would take them to a museum or some kind of cultural event with folk dancing and ethnic food.  Sometimes Ray would drag them all to Wrigley Stadium for a Cubs game or to the Vecchio's for moral support; Ma Vecchio was doing her part to fatten Trinity up.  And on occasion, Trinity would be invited to a birthday party for one of her classmates.  Seeing Fraser wearing a pointy party hat while awkwardly defending his virtue against all the divorced moms never got old.  And on Sunday evenings, Fraser would sit a freshly bathed Trinity in one of the dining room chairs and redo all her little braids with the balls on the ends.  Ray'd asked him once how he knew to braid like that and Fraser had said something long and boring about it being an essential maritime skill.  Ray wasn't convinced the little balls were used on board ship, but he kept his thoughts to himself.


It was a pretty good life all told.  Sometimes Fraser made noises about moving out, but it never quite happened and Ray was fine with that.  It was nice having people around again.  Ray drank less, Dief got more exercise, Fraser occasionally thought for a moment before throwing himself off buildings or into stupid situations, and Trinity had made a friend at school, a little girl named Christina.  Apart from some minor tiffs, they were all quite comfortable.


***


A month or two into second-grade and Chicago was sweltering in the midst of an Indian summer.  Ray had his sleeves rolled up as far as they would go and the windows down in the GTO, but Fraser looked ready to keel over.  Though Ray had convinced the Mountie to shed the wool tunic, the long sleeves and pumpkin pants couldn't be doing him any favors when it was 97 degrees out and about 1,000% humidity.  They were working the Scheinbaum jewelry heist but leads were few and far between.  They both figured it for an inside job, but apart from that, who knew if it was the wife, the daughter, the brother-in-law, or the great uncle.  They all looked squeaky clean.


Ray sighed, about to propose they brainstorm over lunch in an air conditioned restaurant when his phone rang.  "Vecchio."


"Hello?" asked a woman's voice.  "Is there a Benton Fraser there?"


"Just a sec," he replied, handing the phone to Fraser.  "You even got women calling on my line, now."


Fraser went pink.  "This is Constable Benton Fraser speaking."  He frowned.  "I see...  You're certain.  Yes, yes, of course.  I don't doubt...  Yes, ma'am.  We'll be there as soon as possible."


"What's up?"


"Trinity is in the principal's office.  She's being suspended for fighting."


Ray stared at Fraser a moment, then swung the car around to head for South Loop.


While Fraser spoke to the principal, nodding and looking all serious and responsible and stuff, Ray got the kid and all her kid crap in the car.  She was working a nice shiner and a split lip, but otherwise wasn't too beat up.  Still, it looked real bad on a seven year old girl.


It was a stiff ride home with Fraser radiating disapproval from the front seat.  Fortunately it was brief and they soon had her in the braiding chair for first aid.  Fraser wrapped some ice in a washcloth to apply to her eye while Ray fetched a popsicle for the lip.  When the popsicle was gone, Fraser knelt by her chair to look in the unswollen eye.


"Now, Trinity, can you tell me what in God's name possessed you to fight with three fifth-grade boys at recess today?"


Ray felt his own stunned expression, but Trinity just looked down.  "They was sayin' stuff," she muttered.


"What were they saying?" Fraser asked, emphasizing the correct tense.  Only he would correct a kid's grammar when she was sitting there with a black eye.


"They were sayin' stuff about you," she explained quietly.  "Sayin' as how you're a big ol' honky and a canuck and a faggot."  Trinity balled her hands into fists and her eyes glinted angrily.  "I couldn't let 'em say that!"


Fraser didn't so much sigh as exhale sharply.  He laid a hand on her arm.  "I... ah, Trinity.  It's kind of you to want to uphold my honor, but violence should only ever be used as a last resort.  Especially when the versimilitude of the objectionable statements is not in question."


She looked at Ray like he was some kind of Canadian-to-English dictionary.  "Huh?"


"I, uh, I think he's saying, Trin, that you can't beat other kids up if what they're saying is true, even if they're being snotwads about it."  Ray stopped a moment to actually process what he was saying and reeled.  "Huh?"


Clearing his throat, Fraser stood, falling naturally into parade rest.  It looked weird without the tunic and those were totally sweat stains on the white undershirt thingy.  "Those sentiments, while expressed in a way I don't particularly care for, and I wish for you never to repeat," he began, thumbing his eyebrow, "are in essence correct.  They are also things over which I have no direct control.  I clearly am Caucasian and I was indeed born in Canada.  And I, ah," stormy eyes flicked to Ray, then back to Trinity, "that is to say, I haven't always...  well, yes, I suppose that if a label were required I would consider myself primarily homosexual..."


Jesus Christ...  You're queer?!  Ray's eyes instantly shot the question at him, but Fraser shook his head minutely.  Later.


At least they had that mind-reading voodoo partner shit still going.  Too bad it didn't stretch to whether said partner was gay or not.


"The way they said it," she tried to explain, "it sounded real bad."


"None of those identities are bad in and of themselves, Trinity.  Only in the way people choose to react to them.  I thank you kindly for your desire to protect me, but I am in no danger from mere words.  And I cannot help how I was born, just as you cannot help being female or African-American.  Fighting about it gets us nowhere."  He reached down and gently took the bag of ice off her eye.  "It looks like the swelling is going down now.  Why don't you put your dirty clothes in the hamper and take a nice cool bath."


"You goin' to spank me?" demanded Trinity with that hint of attitude Ray hadn't seen for a while.


Fraser looked shocked.  "Certainly not.  I believe your injuries and two days away from school are punishment enough."  His voice was soft when he added, "I will never hit you, Trinity."


Looking like she was thinking it over, Trinity nodded, hopped off her chair, and gave Fraser the world's fastest hug around the legs before bounding into the bathroom.  Fraser smiled sadly and let out a shaky breath as he sank into her abandoned chair.


Ray sat next to him.  "You all right, buddy?"


He gave a weak smile.  "I hadn't anticipated any of these events when I woke up this morning."


"Yeah, who would?"  But translated, Ray thought he meant 'I didn't expect to be outed to my partner by a seven year old today.'  "So, uh, you like guys, then?"  Great.  Real smooth there, Kowalski.


Fraser snorted.  "Yes, Ray."


And, of course, the first question that came to mind was absolutely the worst one to ask.  They were partners, they were roommates; he really didn't need to know.  To be honest, he didn't want this thing they had to change.  So instead he said, "What about whatshername?  The one in Vecchio's files...  Victoria."


The sound of water started in the bathroom and Fraser turned blankly in that direction.  Shit.  That was the second worst question...


"Victoria," he finally said, sounding hollow and far away, "was the first person I ever recall telling me that she loved me."  There was a long pause filled only by the sounds of the air conditioner straining to pump out cool air.  Ray realized he'd stopped breathing somewhere along the way and Fraser wouldn't meet his eyes. 


"I thought we were both going to die.  I held her in my arms for a day and a night and a day and I felt I'd known her for a thousand lifetimes.  When the storm broke and we ended up making love under the Northern Lights, I felt more alive than I ever could have imagined.  I wouldn't have cared if she was male, female, or anything in between.  She said she loved me and I was so lonely, Ray.  Nothing else mattered."


And that hurt.  Goddamn that hurt.  Little Benton growing up with some old-fashioned librarians who wouldn't tell a sensitive boy how much they loved him.  Left it up to a psychopathic criminal instead, who ripped his heart out just because she could.


"I ain't buying it, Fraser.  'Cause it wasn't just the one, right?  What about, oh, that bounty hunter chick, with the bratty kids?  There were definite flannel-to-flannel vibes there."  He snapped his fingers quick and staccato.  "And, and what about Denny Scarpa hanging around the Consulate in your underwear?" It was like he was picking at a scab, but he seemed to want to feel that burn.  "Hell, even the Ice Queen was totally feeling you up in Welsh's office that day with the inuk... suck... the big rock thing and the pool boy."


Fraser's eyes looked haunted.  "Ray, you don't...  What do you want me to say?  That I was lonely?  That I was desperate for any kind of human connection?  That I was too weak to say no?  I... I'm not made of stone, you know."


Ow.  Fucking ow.  Stop already! 


But he couldn't stop.


"You're sure...?"


"Yes, Ray.  I've known since I was twelve years old that I prefer the company of men."


Do not ask the question, Ray.  Do not ask the fucking question.


"Okay."


Fraser's eyebrows went up.  "Okay?"


"Yeah," Ray waved his hands expressively.  "I don't got a problem with it.  It's not my thing, of course, but I ain't some gay basher or nothin' either.  Partners, right?"  He ignored the thought that a good partner would have known, even if the Mountie acted straighter than a ruler.


When Fraser finally looked up it was like he thought the sun shone out of Ray's ass.  "You're not going to...  Ray, are we 'cool'?"


"Yeah, Frase," Ray grinned.  "We're cool."


***


Trinity spent the next day at Mrs. Nnagani's apartment while Fraser and Ray continued their investigation.  They were down to running phone numbers all morning when Ray thought he recognized one of the numbers on Nathaniel Scheinbaum's list.


"Frannie!" Ray bellowed.


"Yeah, yeah, keep your panties on."


Fraser cleared his throat.  Ray grinned.


"It's 'pants', sis.  Not panties.  Guys do not wear panties.  Well, unless they're pervs.  You think we're pervs?"


"Well, you might be.  But Fraser's not a perv."  There was more adoration in that look than any of the magis put together.


He looked desperately at Ray.  "I, ah, well, that is to say..."  Ray shot a warning look back.  "No," concluded Fraser, looking frazzled.


Frannie put her hands on her hips.  "See?  Not a perv.  So, what do you want?"


A distraction was clearly in order.  "I want you to run this number: 555-8735."


She put her hands on her hips.  "Would it kill you to say please?"


"Francesca," interrupted Fraser, "we would very much appreciate it if you'd look that number up for us."


Frannie smiled sweetly.  "Sure, Frase.  Anything for you."


"Thank you kindly."


Ray rolled his eyes as she shimmied off.


A moment later she called across the bullpen, "It's the Daniel Rosenberg Retirement Home."


"Ha!"  Ray slammed his hand on the desk.  "We got 'em.  Pitter patter, Fraser."


***


"So there's a Jewish mafia?" Fraser asked on their way back from the nursing home.


Ray was drumming on the steering wheel.  "Yeah.  Marty Goldstein runs it from room #302.  If it was his 'bath time', I'm Mohammad Ali.  But, uh, they don't touch drugs or weapons, deal mostly in diamonds, gold, furs, the old luxury stuff."


"Ah."


"Ah?  What's ah?"


"Well, that's why you made the connection with Adam Scheinbaum's grandmother's jewels and his uncle Nathaniel's phone call to Mr. Goldstein."


Ray made an indeterminate noise.  "You know, Frase, that guy in there was checkin' you out."


"What?"


"The nurse.  Um, Carter something."  Ray felt jittery.  Couldn't sit still. 


"Webb."


"Yeah, him.  He's a good looking guy.  Seems nice enough."  His eyes slid to the passenger seat as he tapped out a quick rhythm on the steering wheel.  "You gonna ask him out?  He looked pretty interested..."


Fraser tugged at his collar.  "No, Ray."


"Not your type?"


"It's not so much..."


"Too young?"


"I don't actually know..."


"Too gay?"


"Ray!"


"What?"


Fraser was staring out the front window.  "I'm... not interested in pursuing a meaningless physical relationship at this time."


Ray looked at Fraser until the person behind them honked.  "How do you know it'd be meaningless?  You might really have a thing."


"Please stop, Ray.  I'm happy now.  I live with three people for whom I care very much and who care for me in return.  I don't need anything more."


Ray snorted.  "Last I checked, you were a guy, Fraser."  Okay, that could have been phrased better...


"Yes.  What does that have to do with anything?"


"Guys have certain needs..."


Blushing to the roots of his hair, Fraser said, "I am perfectly capable of dealing appropriately with my physical needs, thank you kindly."


"Appropriately?  You sleep in the same room as a second-grader and you're with me the rest of the time."


Fraser sat up even straighter, if that was possible in a car with bucket seats.  "I have sufficient personal time.  I trust you don't need color illustrations."


Ooh, snarky Mountie.  "No, buddy, I'm good."  But Jesus Christ, how sad was that?  'Sufficient personal time' equated to showers, as far as Ray could tell, and he knew damn well that Fraser never spent more than five minutes in the shower.  'Sufficient personal time' his ass.


They spent the rest of the drive back to the precinct in silence. 


***


Eleanor Scheinbaum was waiting there for them.  She was a stunning brunette wearing her great-grandmother's necklace.  "I just wanted to thank you both for recovering my family legacy."  Laying her hand across the pearls, she continued, "You have no idea how much sentimental value these have.  I couldn't believe Great Uncle Nate stole them just for some smelly old fur."


Ray nodded, knowing what was coming next.  He suppressed a sigh.


"Now that you mention it, there's actually quite a long and interesting history to luxury fur trapping.  The first written account of it goes back to the Chinese philosopher Zhuangzi in the 4th century BCE..."


"You know," she interrupted, "I was really hoping I could take you to dinner this evening to show my gratitude."  Yeah, there it was.


Fraser looked around nervously.  "While I appreciate the offer, Miss Scheinbaum, I'm afraid I really can't..."


"Not you," she said coldly and turned a smile on Ray.  "You, Detective."


Now this was a good script.  While Fraser was I-beg-your-pardonning, Ray grinned back.  "Hey, sure.  I'd like that."


"Meet me at Zacharelli's at eight, then," she said, and was gone, leaving only a lingering hint of perfume.


Ray turned to Fraser.  "Hey, whaddya know, I've got a date tonight."


Fraser smiled.  "Indeed, Ray.  Congratulations."


"Huh."  And he did a two-step all the way into the break room.


***


Ray got to Zacharelli's on time and met Eleanor at the bar.  After a couple drinks, they were seated, both talking a mile a minute.  Within fifteen minutes, Ray learned that Eleanor was also divorced, loved baseball, and gave up on college to become a fancy salon hairdresser, despite the pleas of her parents.


"Can you imagine me as a doctor?  I mean seriously.  I'd be the worst.  'Bladder control?  This is what you talk to me about?  Get off your tuchus, Mrs. Fleisher, and get laid already."


Ray nearly snorted wine out of his nose and Eleanor didn't seem to care that he was being impolite.  He nodded. "I'm not really sure what my pop wanted for me, other than not working at the meat packing plant.  Some office job, I guess.  Like I could sit behind some desk all day pushing paper.  But you know parents.  They wanted the wife, the little house, the two point five kids...  Oh, shit, I forgot."


Eleanor looked concerned.  "Everything okay?"


"Yeah.  Just gotta make a phone call.  Hang on a sec?"


"Sure," she replied, making nice with the cherry in her drink.  Ray groaned and hurried out back to get some quiet before dialing his home number.


"Hello, you've reached the Vecchio, Fraser, and Williams household, Benton Fraser speaking."


"Jesus, Frase, you always answer like that?"


"Like what, Ray?"


"Like we're a law firm or something?"


"I..."


Ray sighed.  "Nevermind.  Look, I'm just calling because I forgot to set out Trinity's books tonight and I don't want you to be reading her Moby Dick or anything."


How a pause sounded guilty, he had no idea, but it did.  "Surely you don't object to The Old Man and the Sea, Ray..."


"Yes, I do.  I very much do object to The Old Man and the Sea.  She's seven!"


"I read it when I was seven."


"Yeah, well you're a freak.  Read her The Little House and The Red Lemon tonight, okay?"


"But we've already begun..."


"Fraser.  Deal.  Remember?"


Fraser sighed.  "Yes, I remember.  You try to introduce a little culture into a child's life and you pay and you pay and you pay..."


Ray grinned.  "All right.  See you later.  I, uh, might not be home tonight, if you get me."


"I'm quite confident that I do, Ray.  Good night."


"'Night."


He hurried back inside to Eleanor.


"Everything all right?"


"Yeah.  I pick out the bedtime stories for my roommate's kid so he doesn't drown her in great literature.  Forgot before I came out."  He gave a flirty smile.  "Had other things on my mind."


"You have a roommate?" she asked.


And Ray got why she was asking.  It was the old 'my place or yours' question and that was a very, very good question.  He shrugged, playing it cool.  "Yeah, my partner's staying with me for a while."


"Oh.  The Mountie?"


"Yeah.  That a problem?"


She sipped her drink daintily.  "No."


"Most women go nuts over him," Ray explained.


"He's good-looking, I suppose.  But he's such a Mensch, all stiff and polite and uptight.  It'd drive me up the wall.  I don't know how you deal with it every day."


"I drive up a lot of walls."  Sometimes, quite literally.


That made Eleanor snort into her pina colada.  By the time they were halfway through their entrees, they were playing footsie under the table.  Until Ray remembered something else.  "Oh, hell.  Gotta make another call.  Gimme a minute?"


Eleanor toyed with her fork, looking a little annoyed.  "Can you make it quick?"


"Sure, yeah."  And Ray ran out back again.


"Hello, you've reached the..."


"Fraser, it's me again."


"Oh, hello, Ray."


"Just wanted to remind you to make sure Trinity takes her antibiotics tonight.  Don't want those cuts on her hand getting infected."


"Yes, we were just about to..."


"I usually give them to her with apple juice so they don't taste so bad."


"Thank you kindly, Ray.  How is your evening going?"


"Uh, great.  It's greatness."


"I'm very glad for you, then."  When Fraser spoke again his voice was fainter, as if he was holding the phone away.  "Yes, I'll be there in just a moment, Trinity.  Was there anything else, Ray?"


"No, no.  Just checking in."


"Have a good night."


"Thanks, Frase.  You too."


Ray clicked his phone shut and went back inside.  Eleanor had finished her manicotti and was looking at the dessert menu.


"Hey, sorry.  You want dessert?"


She turned the menu around.  "I thought we could share the..."


"Oh, damn it!" Ray exclaimed.  "I should have told him..."


Eleanor stood and threw the menu to the table.  "You know what, Ray?  Screw this.  I like you, but I don't date married men."


"What?!  I'm not..."


"Yeah, right.  Ditch the Mountie if you ever want to get shtupped again."  She threw a couple of bills on the table and walked out.


Ray stared after her, stunned.  He paid the bill, went to the car, and drove aimlessly around Chicago for a while before heading back.  Dief gave a little welcome home wuffle from the couch as Ray headed for his own room, alone.


***


The next day was Saturday, so Ray slept in a little, downed three cups of coffee and headed for the shower.  It wasn't until he'd shampooed his hair that he remembered the conversation of the day before and got a weird little jolt.  Fraser jerked off in here sometimes. 


If he was going to be all efficient about it, Ray thought, he'd probably do it before he soaped up.  He'd only have to wash once that way.  So, what, five, ten good strokes on the morning woody and he was done?  Pant a little and then grab the soap?  But if he did it at the beginning of his shower, Fraser would have zero time to fantasize about anything.  And that was even more fucking sad than all the other fucking sad things about Fraser's non-existent love life.  Although thinking about your partner whacking off in the shower while you were in the shower was pretty fucking sad, too.  Ray rinsed his hair quickly and got the hell out of there.


It was park day, so he threw on some jeans and a t-shirt, pulled on his sneakers, and was good to go.  On the way, he and Fraser walked side-by-side, as usual, talking about inconsequential things while Trinity walked thirty feet or so ahead of them.  They had just passed a bank when Ray felt something shoved against his spine and he froze.


"We get 'em?" asked one unfamiliar voice.


"Yeah.  Two guys and the wolf, all at the same time, like the boss said."


Ray looked down where Dief was struggling in a dog-catcher's noose.  Then he peeked to the side where Fraser looked as panicked as Ray could ever remember seeing him.  He was biting his lip and shooting glances down the sidewalk.  Oh, shit.  Trinity.


But the goons weren't making a grab for her, so maybe they didn't know she was with them.  Ray prayed that she'd keep walking and not see this.  They had practiced several times what she had to do if Ray and Fraser were kidnapped or otherwise endangered, as it seemed to happen with depressing regularity.  She knew to get somewhere safe and call the police.  If Welsh heard the seventh line of O, Canada he'd have the streets flooded with cops in minutes.


"You listening?" came the second voice again.  Ray nodded.  "You two are gonna take ten steps backward, right?  Then you're gonna get in the Cadillac that's parked there."  He nudged Ray in the ribs and Ray nodded again to show that he understood.  "Let's make this look nice and easy.  One... two..."


Then Trinity turned around.  Fraser inhaled sharply as she started running back toward them; Ray thought his heart was going to pound right out of his chest.  Not the kid, oh, god, not the kid...  Then Trinity grinned and yelled, "Christina!"


"four... five... six..."


Both Ray and Fraser watched with concealed relief as she ran right past them to no doubt catch up with her friend.  Fortunately, the toughs didn't even seem to notice.


"eight... nine..."


And then they were all falling backward.  Seizing his chance, Ray twisted hard to one side, grabbing the guy's gun arm and holding on as he rolled until he heard a snap.  To his side, Fraser had also used his momentum to snatch the second man's arm and curve it far enough away that the shot fired harmlessly into the air.  Then Fraser jammed his elbow into the thug's solar plexus and he was down for the count.


At some point during the melee, the Caddy drove off with a squeal of tires.  Ray looked to see what obstacle they'd tripped over and Trinity jumped up off the ground.  She ran to where Fraser was frisking the would-be kidnapper for further weapons and delivered a hard kick to his ribs.  "You leave my Ben-daddy alone!" she screamed.


Half the age he'd been, thought Ray, in some slight shock.  Half his age and a hundred times braver.  Kid didn't even wet herself.  Just faked seeing her friend and threw herself into harm's way to give them a distraction. 


"Trinity. Trinity. Trinity." Fraser was saying as he prevented her foot from making contact again.


"What?"


Fraser took a deep breath.  "Ray and I need to continue restraining these perpetrators.  Would you please free Diefenbaker and then call the police?"


She spun around.  "Oh.  Yeah."  Kid was good with her hands, that was sure.  Trinity removed the loop quickly from Diefenbaker's neck and the two of them ran into the bank to phone the police.  As promised, a few minutes later, uniforms were flooding the scene, reading the guys their rights and carting them off.  Then, just to make the day better, the Duck Boys showed up.


"So, Supermountie didn't get a look at the license plates, huh?" Dewey smirked.


If Fraser's lips were any tighter, he wouldn't have any left.  "I'm afraid not, Detective.  I was otherwise... occupied."


"With two lousy perps?" he persisted.  "C'mon, you could have taken them both out and gotten that plate in your sleep."


"I had a weapon pressed to my back and my daughter was in danger," Fraser ground out politely.  "You'll have to forgive me if I was unable to memorize the license plate of the car speeding away behind us."


Huey glared at his partner.  "Give the guy some slack, man."  But then, Huey had a son of his own, so he'd understand.


"I did, however, detect the faint scent of matzo on the man who accosted me.  Combined with the somewhat gutteral sounds of his vowels, specifically the 'u' sound, I suspect his first language to have been Yiddish."


Ray made the connection first.  "Marty Goldstein."


Fraser nodded.  "I believe the men work for him, yes."


Bouncing on the balls of his feet, Ray said, "Okay.  Lemme go get the Goat and we'll nail this guy."


"No, Ray."


"No?"


"It's the Sabbath.  We won't have the opportunity to speak to Mr. Goldstein."


"Shit."


"Language, Ray."


"Fine.  But tomorrow we nail his ba... testicles to the wall."


Fraser smiled faintly.  "Understood."


***


They talked over dinner about what had happened that day.  Trinity was a tough little thing and seemed all right with it.  She'd gotten the idea, she said, from Fists of Fury, which she and Ray had watched on Kung Fu Theatre the week before.  Ray grinned.  And when Fraser frowned and added, "I'm not certain that martial arts films are sufficiently informative on real world defensive maneuvers," Ray lost it entirely.


It was a good evening.  Trin had her bath, Ray read her stories, and Fraser played guitar, singing some old folk songs.  Everything seemed fine.  Well, until Ray was awoken in the middle of the night by ragged, desperate sounds.  Disoriented, he pulled on some shorts and staggered into the living room.  When Dief pushed past him to scratch at Fraser's door, Ray opened it just enough for the wolf to sneak in.  He didn't mean to pry, but as he turned to leave, another gasping sob reached his ears and he glanced up to catch the whole scene as it was reflected in the closet mirror.  Fraser sat on Trinity's little bed, holding the girl in his arms as she cried.  Ray blinked.  He'd never seen them hug like that before; they both were naturally aloof.  Usually Ray was the one giving comforting little pats all around.  But there they sat, arms wrapped around each other like there was no one else in the world and Fraser was murmuring comforting things into her hair.  As Ray caught the words, though, he found they weren't comforting at all.


"Cry, Trinity.  You're frightened, angry, hurting, lonely...  Go ahead and cry."


Christ, Fraser!  When a kid cried you were supposed to say 'Shh, everything's okay.'  Not, 'Your life fucking sucks.'  What the hell did they teach him in Eskimo land?  He was about to say as much when he stopped. 


That probably was what he'd learned as a kid...  'Shh, it's okay, don't cry, Benton.  Be a man.  Your mom's dead, your dad's never around, you got hit by an otter, suck it up already.'  And now he was all repressed and polite and shit.  How good would life be for a kid who was actually encouraged to feel stuff?  And Fraser never lied.  He knew everything wasn't okay, so he wouldn't pretend that it was.  Huh.  Ray pondered this until he heard his name being called.  Busted.  He gently pushed the door open, giving an embarrassed half-smile.  As he sat on the other side of the bed, intending to just put an encouraging hand on Trinity's back, he was suddenly tackled by a clingy seven year old. 


"Yeah, Trin," he said, holding her tightly.  "Let all the bad stuff out."  And she did.  She sobbed all over his bare chest as Dief licked her knee and Fraser turned to give him a grateful smile.


At that moment, it hit him like a ton of bricks.  Fraser, Trinity, and Diefenbaker: a partner, a kid, a dog.  He might as well be married because this was his family now.  And he was the only one not on board...  He held Trinity until the tears started to slow and then she crawled back into Fraser's lap, falling asleep as he stroked her hair.  They both tucked her back into bed, Dief curled up at her feet, and they shared a meaningful look as Ray slipped quietly back to his own room.


He couldn't get back to sleep.  Ray knew he loved them all; he could live like this another ten, twelve years easy, apart from one thing.  If they stayed the way they were, neither he nor Fraser were ever going to get laid again.  Eleanor had made that perfectly clear.  A decade with only his right hand for company?  He couldn't do it. 


But there was another thought hanging around there and he prodded it as carefully as if it were a live grenade.  If Ray could somehow be gay, too, and Fraser could be convinced to be attracted to him - oh, that dangerous question again - it'd be perfect.  As close to a normal family as he was probably ever going to get.  But he just... wasn't.  He liked women.  A lot.  They were soft and smooth and smelled good...  Okay, so maybe he and Fraser would never get married or anything, but they liked each other.  Trusted each other.  And if they both had needs...  and a hand was a hand, right...?  And even with a guy he had to be a better lay than the shower...  So, it made sense.  He just had to find out if it'd work for him.


***


They'd gone back to the retirement home on Sunday to talk to Goldstein, but they got nothing out of him until Fraser said, "Ray, does it occur to you that most of the residents here have unusually fine teeth?"


And no, it hadn't, but someone apparently had their hearing aid turned up because all of a sudden they were faced with a couple dozen seniors who were packing.  They dove behind an ugly floral couch as Ray returned fire.  Fraser pocketed something that was on the ground and gestured toward the french windows.  "It doesn't appear that they are particularly accurate shots without their glasses, Ray.  If we run for the window before they have time to retrieve them, I believe we can escape."


So they did, crashing out the french doors and rolling across the perfectly manicured lawn.  A bullet grazed Ray's calf and Fraser had a decent scratch across the back of his hand from the falling glass, but they were otherwise unhurt when they reached the car and Ray called it in.  Within the hour most of the residents had been arrested and Ray was sitting in the back of an ambulance getting his leg bandaged.


"So, tell me, Detective," said Welsh, "why do I have an entire shuffleboard club in my cells?  The lawyers look so happy when there's an actual criminal offense on the forms..."


"They drew guns on us!"


"Ah, well, yes," admitted Fraser, "but their main offense is the pearl smuggling operation."


Welsh and Ray looked at him.  "What?"


"As far as I can tell, they were trafficking in antique pearls for the purposes of making vanity dentures."  He pulled a tile out of one of his pouches.  "And incidentally running an illegal mahjong gambling ring on the side."


"I hope you have some kind of evidence of this...?"  Welsh rubbed the bridge of his nose.


"Yes, Leftenant.  Or rather, I believe we will once we search the facility and go through the residents' bank records."


"Of course, Constable.  Please feel free to investigate at any time."


"Thank you, sir."


***


So that was Sunday.  And they did get the evidence to nail Goldstein, but it took all damn day.  Fortunately, Welsh gave Ray the next day off, so he stayed at home with the kid on her second day of suspension and made his plans.  When Fraser got home from the Consulate, he told him he was going out and not to wait up.  Fraser nodded.  "Have a nice evening, Ray."


Ray hopped in the GTO and went to a club he'd once had to raid when he'd worked briefly with Vice.  Parking a couple blocks away, he slid inside without a second glance from the bouncer.  Apparently a Ramones t-shirt and jeans were appropriate enough attire.  Ray's first stop was at the bar for a beer, which gave him a minute to get his bearings.  It wasn't very busy that early in the evening, but there were still a few guys dancing to crappy house music under flashing lights, the whole bit.  Tousling his hair a bit more and feeling like he was working some kind of undercover gig, Ray grabbed his drink and wandered around.


The patrons of Roosters seemed to fall into one of three categories, he noticed.  The bearded, leather, biker guys; the lisping, limp-wristed, fairy guys; and the clean-cut preppie types.  It surprised him that Fraser would have stood out as much here as he did anywhere, but then again, so did Ray.  There weren't exactly a lot of blue-collar guys around.  Of the three groups, though, Fraser would have been most like the preppie guys - if they had a penchant for flannel shirts and stretched-out, ripped sweaters when they were off-duty - so those were the guys he watched.  But it seemed like someone was watching him as well...


It didn't take him long to notice the broad, handsome guy smiling at him.  "You dance?" the guy offered. 


Ray eyed him.  "Ballroom."


"Foxtrot?"


"Sure."


The guy held out his hand with a grin.  The music was all wrong and Ray felt an uncomfortable twisting in his gut, but he sucked up his courage as they headed for the dance floor and yeah, okay, this he could do.  Sort out who's leading, find the rhythm, and go; lose yourself in the dance, don't look at your partner.  The guy was close, but not too close and with his eyes closed, it wasn't too awkward.


"What's your name?" the guy yelled over the music.


"Mark," Ray called back.  Hey, it was better than Stanley.  "Yours?"


"Brendan."


"Nice to meetcha."  He wasn't getting any sparks or anything, but it had been too long since he'd danced with someone else.  It was weird, but he wasn't completely grossed out, so that was something.


When the song ended, Brendan said, "Hey, you're pretty good.  Let me buy you a drink."


And damn, that was weird, being on the receiving side of a drink, but Ray had set down his other beer somewhere and after five minutes of it being unattended there was no way in hell he'd finish it now.


"All right.  Thanks."


Brendan disappeared to the bar and brought him back an unopened Sam Adams.  Ray was vaguely impressed.  Not by the beer - he wasn't into trendy microbrews as such - but bringing it intact and then opening it for him, that was classy.  "I guessed you'd prefer a beer over a martini.  Hope that's all right."


"Good guess," said Ray, taking a swig.  Was this what flirting like a guy was like?  Hell, if it was, dozens of guys could have been flirting with him over the years and he wouldn't have known.  Even Fraser... no, not going there yet. 


"You come here often?"  Christ, Kowalski, that the best you can come up with?


Brendan laughed like he knew how lame that was.  "Pretty regularly.  It's one of the nicer clubs in town."


"Yeah?"  He felt like he was leaning on a snitch for information.


"Sure.  No rooms upstairs, they don't skimp on the drinks, and there isn't a lot in the way of drugs."


"Hey, good to know."  Ray took another drink.


Brendan gave him the once-over again.  "You new to the scene?"


With a snort, Ray asked, "That obvious, huh?"


There was a friendly twinkle in Brendan's eye.  "Not too bad."


They made small talk for a while.  Brendan was apparently an architect from the north side of town.  Ray claimed to be a mechanic.  After a few minutes, Ray tried to imagine himself leaning over and kissing him but that thought really didn't do it for him.  He was a nice enough guy and everything, but no way.  He wondered vaguely if Brendan was Fraser's type; they'd look damn good together.  But then Ray imagined them kissing and he felt a sudden strong urge to punch Brendan's lights out.  He stuttered over his sentence and fell silent.


"Mark, you okay?"


Ray nodded.  "Yeah, just... drank that beer too fast."


"C'mon.  Sit down for a second."


Ray sat in the proffered chair, but it was pretty clear that things weren't working out, so when another guy came by to ask Brendan to dance, Ray waved him away with a smile.  About half an hour later, Ray saw them making out in one of the booths that lined the dance floor.  Honestly, he found it kind of gross, but that was an answer of sorts.


In bed that night, he figured his undercover mission was a wash.  Dancing and flirting with guys wasn't as big a deal as he thought it'd be, but he didn't want to kiss them.  Or at least, he didn't want to kiss Brendan.  Kissing Fraser might be different, though.  He'd smell like wool and leather polish and Ray's shampoo, and he'd probably get that real intense look that he had sometimes when he was concentrating hard and just about to lick something...  Ray inhaled sharply as a spike of arousal went straight to his groin.  God...  Okay.  Maybe he could kiss Fraser.


Tomorrow, he'd try the Fraser method.


***


Trinity went back to school the next day and Fraser spent the morning in the consulate before dropping by the precinct to help Ray finish up the arrest reports on twenty-eight senior citizens.  By the end of the day, Ray had a headache, a shoulder ache, and was starving.  He pulled his glasses off to rub at his temples.  "You ready to go, buddy?"


Fraser glanced at the clock, then at Ray's tired face.  "Certainly."


"Take-out?" Ray suggested.  "On me."


"If you wish, Ray, but I'm certainly..."


"I know you are, Frase.  I know you are.  But I don't feel like cooking tonight and I don't feel like watching you cook.  Chinese okay?  It's got vegetables in there somewhere."


"Ah, yes.  Sounds fine."


They collected the food and Trinity and were eating by half past five.  When all the containers were empty, Ray sighed.


"I'm going out again tonight to run some errands.  Want anything while I'm gone?"


Fraser had that little worried line between his eyebrows.  "Ray, are you certain you want to go to another dance club while you have a headache?"


And yeah, he should have realized that Fraser would have known not only where he went last night - hopefully not exactly where - but that his head hurt.  He didn't sound judgmental or anything, though, just concerned.


"Not going dancing," Ray said.  "If I'm home late, read Trinity the third chapter of James and the Giant Peach and then Fox in Socks.


"I read that yesterday," replied Fraser in his testy voice.  "It's just silly.  And I'm not convinced that it is age appropriate nor entertaining."


Ray winked at Trinity.  "Oh, you don't mind hearing it again, do you, Trin?"


"Nope," she grinned.  "I like it."


"See?" grinned Ray.  "Very entertaining."  And it was, too.  The first time Fraser tried to do the tweetle beetle battles, Ray about pissed himself laughing.  Fraser just got so frustrated.  Especially since Ray was better at getting the words right, for a change.  Probably because they were half made-up, but still.  Ray had even caught him practicing once; Fraser had snuck the book behind the copy of Arctic Mysteries that he was supposedly reading, but gave it away by moving his mouth as he read.


Fraser sighed in defeat.  "Very well.  We could use some more milk if you're going out."


"Milk," said Ray, picking up his keys.  "Got it.  Have fun."


Hopping back in the car, Ray headed for the home of the Fraser method: the public library.  He hadn't been in one since he was a kid, so the first thing Ray had to do was fill out an application for a library card.  Credentials cleared, he found himself with a new piece of plastic in his wallet as he headed upstairs.  Since there was no fucking way he was going to ask the lady at the reference desk for help, he found a free computer at the far end of the row, feeling more like a pervert than he had in the club, and typed in 'gay sex'.


There were... wow... a lot of entries.  But they all seemed to be in one section of the library, so Ray cleared his screen and headed over there.  The first book he saw was called Gay Sex: A Manual for Men who Love Men, which sounded useful, but the picture on the front was so not okay.  He was not going to walk around Chicago carrying a book with a naked guy on the front, end of story.  Most of the others were just as bad.  But there was one there called Ultimate Gay Sex and it had a couple of guys kissing on the front.  Well, he'd seen that already.  And the book seemed to have a lot of pictures in it, which was good since he wasn't much of a reader.  It looked like it would do.


He grabbed the book and held it with the front cover against his leg as he continued looking through the section.  Ray had actually put a lot of thought into how to do this without looking like a total loser.  He grabbed two more medical looking books about normal sex, hoping the lady at the checkout desk would think he was a psychology student or something, and on a whim picked up a book on muscle cars, too.  Rolling his shoulders like he was about to face the heavyweight champ, he headed for the checkout. 


It was a guy at the counter, actually, but Ray had worried for nothing.  He scanned the books, ran them across the demagnetizer strip, and handed them back to Ray without even a funny look.  "These are due back in three weeks."


"Got it."


On his return trip, Ray ran to the corner store to grab some milk and was home in time for the tweetle beetle battles.  He threw the books on his bed and then hovered outside Fraser and Trinity's door just to hear Fraser stumble over the ridiculous rhymes. 

 

"When beetles battle beetles in a puddle paddle battle and the beetle battle puddle is a puddle in a bottle, they call this a tweetle beetle bottle paddle puddle battle muddle."

 

"Puddle paddle," Trinity corrected.

 

"Oh, yes...  A tweetle. beetle. bottle. puddle. paddle. battle. muddle."


"You're supposed to read it fast, like Ray."


"Why, it seems quite late all of a sudden, Trinity," Fraser prevaricated.  "I think it's time for bed."


She giggled, letting him off the hook.


"Here's Rachel," he said, and Ray glanced up just in time to see Fraser press a light kiss to Trinity's forehead.  "Good night, Trinity."


"'Night, Ben-daddy."


Fraser blew out the kerosene lamp and stepped into the living room with a wry expression.


"I think you do that deliberately."


Ray just winked at him, enjoying the disconcerted blush.


"Were you successful on your errands."


"Yup," Ray replied.  "Got the milk, gassed up the car, and stopped by the library."


Fraser smiled widely.  "The library, Ray?  I'm pleased that you've realized what a vast wealth of information it contains, in any number of interesting subject areas."


"You ain't kidding.  You reading?"


"I thought I would, yes.  Do you intend to as well?"


"Sure," said Ray.  He headed back to his room, pulled the muscle car book out of the stack and joined Fraser on the couch.  They read in companionable silence for an hour or so, and while the book was pretty cool, Ray was much more curious about the other one.  Eventually, he yawned.  "Think I'll turn in.  It's been a long day."


"Yes, it has," Fraser agreed.  Carefully marking his place with an acid-free bookmark, he closed his own book.  "Good night, Ray."


"'Night, Frase."


Ray brushed his teeth quickly, stripped down, made sure his door was locked, and climbed into bed.  When all the other lights in the apartment had gone out, he snapped his bed lamp on and pulled out the book.  He tried to read the section on gay identity, but it didn't sound like him at all, so Ray skipped ahead.  He also skipped the sections on STDs, date rape, and domestic violence, because, yeah, none of that was gonna happen, considering who he had in mind for this.  Fortunately, the book settled down afterward, getting into the actual details of how to do it.  And, yeah, handjobs and blowjobs were definitely awesome.  Even the frotting thing seemed kind of cool.  Ray wasn't at all convinced by the part about fucking, and none of the models with the rock-hard abs turned his crank, but on the whole, it didn't seem too weird.


The book emphasized the use of fantasy and imagination, which Ray felt like a damn pro at after ten years of marriage and a couple of years of divorce.  So when it got late, he shut the book, switched off the light, and tried to use his imagination.  First off, the guys in the book were way too pretty for real life.  No one actually looked like that, apart from Fraser, so he thought maybe he'd tried to imagine two regular guys getting it on.  Unfortunately, the first two regular guys he thought of were Huey and Dewey and imagining them in any kind of compromising position made him want to retch.  Okay, wrong tack.  Really wrong tack.  He needed soap for his brain now or something.  Ew.


Right, he could do this.  He was a regular guy.  He'd imagine himself with someone who was not Fraser first.  Unfortunately, the best looking guy he knew, other than Fraser, was, well, Turnbull.  Ray winced.  But Turnbull was okay looking as long as he didn't actually open his mouth...  Nervously, Ray imagined himself getting down with Turnbull, slowly unfastening his tunic and pushing it down his arms before... no, no, no.  This was so wrong.  Turnbull was more of a turn off than the fucking Queen. 


All right, fine.  Fine.  Fraser, then.  Fraser peeling off Ray's clothes and looking at him the same way he looked at huge snowy fields, like he just wanted to dive in.  Fraser falling to his knees as those tiny lines at the corners of his eyes crinkled happily.  Fraser licking his lower lip and leaning in and...


The next thing Ray knew, his hands were down his shorts, his comforter was on the floor, and he'd just had the biggest orgasm of his whole fucking life. 


That would be an all systems go, he thought, dazed.


***


The next night, after Trinity had gone to bed, Ray said, "Frase, you remember when you said I was attractive?" 


"Certainly," Fraser replied, calm as you please.


"Uh, so when you said that, did you mean it as like a gay guy, or as a Canadian, or as my partner, or what?


Fraser looked puzzled.  "I am all of those things, Ray.  I can hardly speak with only one aspect of myself."


This was it.  Time to ask the big question.  "Okay, so you're... what?  Attracted to me?"


"Yes, Ray."


Ray let out the breath he'd been holding.  "Great.  Greatness."


"Is it?"


"Well, yeah," explained Ray, gesturing wildly.  "See, I was thinking that if you liked me and I liked you and we both liked Trinity, that maybe we could do the two dads thing and be a real family.  Not just pretending.  You and me.  And her.  Not so much a one-two punch, duet kind of thing, but a wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am three-part thing."


"A trinity," Fraser smiled faintly.  "It's a very sensible and convenient solution, certainly, but I can't imagine you'd be comfortable in such a scenario, Ray.  You've never shown any prior indication of, ah, being interested.  In men."


"Well, no," Ray admitted.  "I don't think I am.  But I've been thinking about it a lot, you know?  And I'm pretty seriously interested in you, Benton-buddy."


Fraser's eyes went dark.


"So, what d'ya say?  Wanna show me some of those guy moves?"


"You may be lingering under a misapprehension, Ray.  I don't know any 'guy moves'."


Ray stared.  "But you're..."


Fraser looked away.  "I have always been attracted to men, but it doesn't necessarily follow that I've had the means or opportunity to follow up on that attraction."


"So you haven't...?"


"Ah, no."  Fraser licked his lower lip and Ray nearly moaned.


"I've got a book," he blurted, suddenly.  "It explains stuff."


"Oh, yes?"


"And it's got, you know, pictures."


Fraser stood up and walked into Ray's personal space.  With his lips a scant inch from Ray's ear, he murmured, "I would very much like to see your book, Ray." 


Ray grabbed Fraser's arm and dragged him into his bedroom.


The next day, Trinity and Diefenbaker had their own room.  And Fraser and Ray quickly learned to lock their door at night.


***


FIFTEEN YEARS LATER...


Ray and Fraser stood side-by-side, no more or less demonstrative than they'd ever been, but both were smiling.  Trinity stepped off the platform, new baton and shield in hand, and was heading in their direction when she was interrupted by Welsh.


"Officer Williams," he said in gruff welcome.


Trinity saluted cheerfully.  "Captain Welsh.  I'd like to thank you kindly for your letter of recommendation.  There's nowhere I'd rather be than at the 27th Precinct.  I'm very much looking forward to working with you, sir."


"Yeah, well, considering your father, I'm not sure anyone else would have you."  He smiled briefly to take away the sting.  "Try not to jump off too many buildings in the first week."


When Trinity grinned in reply, Welsh sighed, nodded his farewell, and walked to where Ray and Fraser stood proudly.


"Sergeant Fraser, you've raised a fine young woman.  She'll be an asset to the force."


Fraser smiled.  "Thank you kindly, sir."


"Has anyone ever mentioned that she's disturbingly like you?"


"Not to my recollection, Captain."


"Huh."


Behind them, Trinity had just been interrupted again, this time by Huey's son, who was also graduating from the police academy.  They couldn't hear his words exactly, but her reply was loud and clear...


"Jerome Huey, how many times I got to tell you that I ain't interested in yo' skinny ass?  Now you best get out my face before you feel my boot upside your head."


Ray knew Fraser well enough by now to recognize when he was struggling not to laugh. 


"Then again, sir, she may have picked up a few of Ray's finer points, as well..."


15 Comments

sam80853 Author Profile Page said:

Adorable!

Just a nice read, as always.

Awww, adorable is exactly the word for this! It's like the ultimate happy-fluffy-kidfic-firsttime-porn-lite satisfaction of a read, with some poignancy thrown in for realism. &hearts

I love storytime, and poor bald Rachel *g*, and the dinnertime battles, and just all of it, but this part killed me ded:

"If I hear her say 'no' one more time, I'm gonna kick her in the head."


"Ray!" Fraser was scandalized. "You certainly will not."


"Sure I will," he grinned. "It's small and close to the ground. Easy."


Great. Stiff Mountie. "I would appreciate you never speaking that way in front of Trinity, even in jest."


Ray rolled his eyes. Like he'd do that to a kid.


"According to Dr. Spock, she is merely asserting her independence and attempting to ascertain her position in the household. I don't believe it will continue much longer."


"Figures you'd take parenting advice from a guy with green blood and pointy ears."


"I... what? Dr. Spock is a well respected pediatrician and child psychiatrist. Although some of his early medical advice has been scientifically refuted in recent years, his core psychological argument dealing with the balance between affection and discipline has never seriously been challenged..."


Ray held up his hands in surrender. "Fine, Frase. Fine. Go with the Vulcan. Whatever floats your boat."

HEE! BWAH! \o/

Hi Santa! OMG, a vid AND a story! It's like an embarrassment of riches, here. I really am overwhelmed. I don't know what I did to deserve this, but thank you, thank you. What an incredible pair of holiday gifts.

So...

You had me at the Beanie Babies (my kids were into those and we still have way too many, so it hit home perfectly). Wacky dS casefic grabs me every time, but this romp, oh my goodness. The crime, the criminal, and Fraser's method of catching the guy were all perfect dS--they'd have fit perfectly into the show. Where were you when Paul Gross needed you to write eps, seriously? :) He would have LOVED that bit with the Beanie Babies. Commentary on gross American consumerism AND a hilarious law-enforcement scene, all in one! HEE.

What really blew me away was that you took a concept similar to that of one of my own stories and you turned it upside-down and sideways and set it on its ear. And kept a lot of the realism, but with a completely different mood. This had me laughing out loud many times while reading, and since my Internet access here is only in public places, that was pretty amusing in its own right. I have no idea what people thought about a person sitting up all night on Christmas Eve in the lobby of a resort reading and laughing, but that was the scene. (I kept wanting to say something like, "I'm not pathetic, I'm Jewish, and I'm having a ball here," but really, it was quite obvious I was having fun. And I may not have been pathetic, but weird, I'll cop to that. :)

(I don't know how much space I have here, so I'm just going to write off the cuff, and I may not organize this well, but hopefully will remember everything I want to say. Also, I'll leave multiple comments if necessary.)

List in no special order of details I loved:

--the description of the LAUNDRY problem--hahahaha! So them.
--decaffeinated zombie
--RAYTIME (I want Raytime every night before bed. *cough* During bed would also be aces. *cough*)

But seriously. Ray was great in the storybook scenes. Fraser had me in stitches with his rigid ideas of nutrition for body and mind. MWAHAHAHA.
--Fraser braiding Trinity's hair and defending his virtue against the divorced moms.

--the subtle undercurrent of F/K throughout even when Ray's being so "straight" Straight, but don't mess with his boyfriend!

--Ray's Date. Had me on the FLOOR. Mwahahaha. Plus with the Yiddish words, and so on. *dies* And the phone calls, especially. Because it was all so THEM.

--"She looked at Ray like he was some kind of Canadian-to-English dictionary." (Which then he proceeds to be!) HEE!!!

--Trinity accidentally outing Fraser. Priceless!!!

I loved that whole bit with the principal's office, because this is something I kind of suggested in Tip, Slide, Tumble...that it might happen to Jackson in future. Only it won't, not exactly like that, because Jackson is so different from Trinity. I loved seeing the exploration of that idea, though. And I ADORE Trinity, but I'll get to that in a bit.

(to be continued)

Continuing my list of awesome things in this story:

--Dr. Spock. Go with the Vulcan! EEEEEEEEE! Oh, Ray.

--"I have sufficient personal time. I trust you don't need color illustrations." Mwahahaha. Sure we do, Fraser. *volunteers to supply some*

--Eleanor was great. "Perfect" for Ray except that she kind of IS Ray, and also he's taken, as she figured out.

--the attempted kidnapping, and Trinity rescuing them. OMG, she was meant to be their kid

--the Jewish mafia. Operating out of the old people's home. Faint smell of matzo! Pearly whites, literally. I can't even. Plus, the guy will kidnap people and maybe kill them, but he observes the Sabbath? Bwuh? Yeah, that's Due South wacky. Stereotypes abound here and in other parts of the story, and they're played for hilarious effect, coming off as lovingly irreverent. I really love humorous irreverence. People everywhere take themselves way too seriously, and humor is a great antidote.

--Ray trying to figure out whether he can be gay. HEE. The bar, the library, and the research. Especially the "research" in the shower, etc. HEE.

--the epilogue and especially the last line. HEE. But of course!

Okay, so Trinity! I adore well-written OCs. Trinity is just fabulous. I love her feistiness and really adore how much like Ray she is. Trinity is kickass in every sense of the word. \o/ \o/ \o/ \o/ \o/ \o/ \o/

And finally, happy ending with Ray and Fraser together. AND Trinity (and I loved the pun).

So, there's a brief initial reaction. :)

In sum, I can really tell that the story was written for me, and I adore that more than I can say. You were so sweet to try to include so many of my preferences and to target the story so specifically for me. Yet you made it a great read for everyone at the same time. Super, super fic.

Thank you for the wonderful, outstanding Chanukah presents! {{{{{hugs}}}}}

(I'm still verklempt.) \o/

Luckily for me, JS already enumerated all the reasons for why this is a great and fun story.

Personally, though, the part that hit me was the section where Ray's trying to decide if he can be gay or not, including the helpful trip to the library. \o/

There's so much good in this story, so many awesome little details that made it a great read.

Congrats, mystery author, for a job well done.

And hee, the Dr. Spock thing was perfect for JS!

Yes, I actually did say something there above, but for some reason it didn't post. I love this story! Trinity is an awesome little girl. I've said it before, but I'll say it again, Due South is the only fandom I've been in that I read and really enjoy the kidfic. This story is no exception.

This story makes me SQUEAK WITH JOY. You had me at the Beanie Babies, even, but I am also a huge sucker for kidfic. And for oblivious Ray slowly discovering that he is in fact Frasersexual. So, basically, this story was everything I could have hoped it would be. Lovely. :D

Azamiko said:

^^ Cute, sweet, and IC.

Such a happy-making read! &hearts

Jay S said:

This is brilliant & such an enjoyable read! :D

Mal Author Profile Page said:

Adorable is, indeed, the perfect word.

Gunbunny Author Profile Page said:

Trinity's response to Huey's kid killed me. As did the whole book reading and Fraser being terrible at Dr Seuss (and thus getting sniffy about it). I wonder if Ray ever pointed out he educational themes in it.

Also : date with eleanor : ahahahahahahahaha :snort:

Luzula Author Profile Page said:

Hey, I enjoyed this! Especially Ray's date and his trip to the library. And Trinity kicking the attacker.

Ignacia said:

That's such a cute cute article! I love Ray's date.

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This page contains a single entry by agent128 published on November 17, 2009 7:13 PM.

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