Hirsute Angry Thief by bluebrocade

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Title: Hirsute Angry Thief
For:
vienna_waits
Characters:
Kowalski, Fraser, et. al. (gen)
Warnings: none
Wordcount: 8,345
Author's Notes: Happy Holidays!  This is my attempt at an ensemble gen casefic with humor. I hope it pleases.

Ray used the last of his energy to lower his head onto his desk. He'd just worked twenty-two straights hours and desperately needed some sleep. He was almost there, mere moments from sweet, sweet oblivion, when he heard a pitiful sounding sigh.  

"Fraser," he said to the desk, "I'm exhausted. I do not have the energy to be interpreting Mountie sighs. What's your problem?"

"I can't find my hat." 

"That's tragic. Really tragic. How about I help you look for it after I take a quick nap?" He settled in again. Come hell or highly annoying Mountie, he was determined to catch some Zs before the Lieu showed up demanding results on the homicide he'd caught yesterday. 

"Understood," replied Fraser, but he followed it up with another, even more heart-rending sigh. Lessons from Turnbull, no doubt.                             

"That's great. Just great," Ray said, lifting his head from the desk. "Are you sure you were even wearing the hat today--uh, yesterday? I don't remember you wearing the hat."

"You haven't slept since yesterday. You don't even remember where your desk is."

"Hardy-har-har. My desk is right here," he said, pointing, "where my head should be." He started lowering his head back onto said desk. Fraser was perfectly capable of finding his own damn hat.

"Actually, you're seated at Detective Dewey's desk. I find it an odd choice, considering how often you complain of his personal hygiene."

Ray jumped up and started brushing Dewey germs off himself. "Aw, dammit, Fraser. You knew I was touching that disease factory, and you didn't tell me? That is not buddies. Goddammit--I put my face on it. I'm probably going to get face Ebola."


"It's very unlikely Detective Dewey has contracted Ebola. I spoke with him for several minutes earlier. He wasn't exhibiting any observable symptoms. I suppose he could still be in the incubation period, or perhaps, he's just being unusually stoic about the initial symptoms which are much like the common flu. If he begins vomiting excessively or exhibits a maculopapular rash--"


"OK! Aright! I'll help you find the damn hat."


"Thank you, Ray." Fraser smiled his most benign, Canadian smile, but Ray wasn't fooled.


"Damn, passive-aggressive..."
 

"What was that?" asked Fraser, innocently. 

Ray made a face. "I said, 'You're welcome. Can't wait to assist you in this noble endeavor.'" He smiled meanly, then went back to scowling. "Where's the last place you saw it? Allegedly." 

"There. On your desk," said Fraser. He looked at Ray pointedly. Then back at the desk. Then back to Ray.

"What? I didn't take it." 

Fraser said nothing in reply, merely raising an eyebrow. Ray crossed his arms and glared back at him. Two could play that game.

"Perhaps you moved it while looking for something? Your desk is somewhat...organizationally challenged."

"I didn't move your hat. I didn't touch your hat. I didn't see your hat."

"I left it on your desk."

"I didn't steal your hat, crazy Mountie."

"I didn't say you stole it, Ray. But perhaps as one of your funny American jokes--" 

"You got me, Frase. I was keeling over exhausted from investigating Mrs. Thelma O'Grady's murder for most of the day and interrogating her scumbag son-in-law half the night and then, on my way to la-la-land, I decided 'hey, I'll play a quick game of Stash the Stetson before I pass out on Dewey's desk.'" He stuck his hands out. "Cuff me. Take me away. I confess!" Maybe he could sleep in his cell.  

Fraser blinked. "You need sleep, Ray." 

"Ya think?"

"I do indeed." Fraser stepped forward and placed a reassuring hand on his arm. "As soon as we find my hat, you can take a nap." 

"You're a real pal." 

"Thank you, Ray. I consider you to be a 'pal' as well. Now, I think it's best if we begin our investigation by retracing my steps..."

 

* *
 

"While you were guiding Mr. Hayden through booking," said Fraser, "I was logging in the knife we recovered from his toaster." 

"Uh-huh," said Ray absently. Before following Fraser into the evidence lock-up, he stopped to shake himself awake and straighten his hair. Officer Pineda was on duty. She had long, curly, red hair that she pulled back in a sexy Librarian bun when she was at work, and best of all, Ray had smiled at her twice since she was transferred to the 27 and hadn't gotten the stink-eye in return. 

Ray strolled into the room, real casual-like and gave Pineda his best I'm-a-competent-professional-and-a-sexy-bad-boy-action-hero-detective smile. She smiled back, and he did an internal victory dance. Now he just had to make it to her desk and ask her out without making an idiot of himself. Or Fraser making an idiot of him. He glanced over at Fraser...who was on his hands and knees in the corner, sniffing the floor. 

Ray rushed over and yanked him up. "Fraser," he hissed, "Don't embarrass me in front of the pretty lady." 

"Can I embarrass you in front of women you don't find attractive?" whispered Fraser. 

"Yes!" he whispered back, "Just act normal for the next five minutes until I get Pineda to agree to go out with me, then you can sniff garbage, lick dirty floors and talk to the air--and Dief--all you want. Cross my heart." 

Fraser shook his head. "I'm afraid I can't in good conscience accept your offer." 

"Why not?" Ray thought it was a pretty good bargain. 

"I'm not entirely clear on what you consider normal," answered Fraser. 

Behind them, Pineda burst out laughing. They both whipped around. 

"Uh. Hehe. I guess sound travels in this... small room," said Ray, "And you're not deaf, and that's good--not that I got anything against the deaf." Shit! He couldn't stop talking! "I love the deaf--I mean I like them just fine. I like them the amount it's normal to like them. I mean-- 

"I believe Detective Vecchio is trying to say he finds you very attractive and intelligent, as well as a fine officer, and he would be honored if you would agree to accompany him to dinner and dancing at your earliest convenience," said Fraser.

"Uh. Yeah. What he said." Ray tipped his head toward Fraser. 

"Dinner and dancing? I could hardly turn down such an opportunity," Pineda said, still grinning. "How about this Friday? Say, eight o'clock?" 

"It's a date," said Ray. "And I swear I'll have my mouth working again by then. Probably." 

"I hope so," she replied and gave Ray a look that he was kind of embarrassed and kind of proud to know Fraser was also seeing. They stared at each other a few more moments, until Fraser, who Ray noticed was looking a little red in the face, killed the moment. 

"Have--have you seen my hat? I may have inadvertently set it down in here approximately ten-twenty-two yesterday evening while you were helping me log in the evidence from case 98-004792. It's a size 7, 1/8 official RCMP Stetson. Light tan, flat-brimmed, 100% felt with--" 

"Fraser, she knows what your hat looks like. Everyone knows what your hat looks like." 

"Sorry, Constable. I haven't seen it." She smiled again. Ray really liked her smile. He'd like to see it in a more intimate-type setting. 

"Are you quite certain? Perhaps it was mistaken for evidence and logged in." 

Ray snapped out of his daydream. "Fraser, no one mistook your hat for evidence." 

"How can you be sure of that?" replied Fraser.

Ray opened his mouth, then closed it and threw up his hands. Sometimes, it was best to accept the inevitable with Fraser. It usually saved him a lecture on proper procedure or an Eskimo story, sometimes both. 

And so he waited twenty minutes, leaning against the wall, trying to sleep standing up, while Pineda very patiently checked all twenty-six evidence boxes that had been logged in since Fraser's visit. Fraser's hat wasn't in any of them--of course--and when she emerged from the back room with Fraser, Pineda's formerly brilliant smile was showing signs of strain.

"Hey...so...eight pm Friday. Can't wait. We should probably get going, Fraser." Ray shoved Fraser towards the door.                                     

"Thank you, Officer," said Fraser. "I'm impressed with your dedication to duty. I feel confident it's safe to depart for the next destination on our agenda." The last words were shouted in Pineda's general direction from the hallway. 

"Which is?" Ray sighed. 

"The men's rest room." 

"The bathroom?" 

"Yes, after logging in the evidence, I heeded a call of nature." 

Ray followed him down the hallway, rolling his eyes. "You mean you had to take a piss." 

"One needn't be crude." 

"This one needn't be awake," Ray reminded him. 

"Understood."

 

* *
 

"Maybe she just likes cats." Jack Huey's voice wafted out from one of the stalls, as Ray followed Fraser into the men's room.

Ray really hoped Fraser wasn't going to crawl around on the bathroom floor. He may not be the hygiene king, but Ray had some standards. Besides, his stomach was already churning from too much coffee and too little food. If Fraser licked anything in the bathroom, Ray would not responsible for any barfing that might occur. 

"No, that's what I'm telling you," Dewey replied from the other stall. "She has three dogs. No cats." 

"That doesn't mean she doesn't like cats," said Jack.

"If she liked cats, she'd have cats! She's a dog woman. And that purse is obviously--" 

"Maybe it was a gift. From a beloved aunt." 

Ray wondered what they were arguing about this time. No, strike that--he didn't care. "Hey, duckheads, you seen Fraser's hat?" 

"What, in here?" asked Dewey. Ray kicked the door to his stall. 

"What's your problem, Vecchio?" 

"You." Duh. 

"Hey, Ray," said Jack, emerging from his stall. "Our vic's girlfriend is carrying around a purse with a bunch of cats embroidered on it. Tell my idiot partner it's a purse, not a clue." 

"But the dogs!" shouted Dewey. Ray kicked his door again. 

"Does the artwork on the purse depict cartoon cats or real cats?" asked Fraser. Everyone turned to look at him. 

"Uh...real, I guess?" replied Jack. "It kind of looks like a Normal Rockwell painting. Except with cats. They're sitting at a booth, eating ice creams and sipping sodas in one of those old-fashioned diners." 

"Hmm," said Fraser. 

"Ha! I was right," yelled Dewey. He flew out of the stall, still zipping his pants up. "It's a clue. She did it!" 

"You really think it's something?" Jack asked Fraser. He got his notebook out. 

Fraser looked thoughtful. "No, but it reminds me of the handbag Turnbull purchased for his mother's birthday. Hideous. She apparently agreed. Turnbull was quite devastated." 

Jack sighed and put his notebook away. "Thanks a lot, Fraser." 

"Oh, anytime. Have either of you seen my hat? I--or someone--" He looked at Ray. Ray glared back. "--seems to have...misplaced it." 

Neither Jack nor Dewey had seen Fraser's hat, and they left the bathroom still debating whether or not the cat purse was important. Ray noticed Dewey didn't wash his hands. He further realized he hadn't washed his own hands or his face since his up-close-and-person encounter with Dewey's stink. He made a beeline for the sink while Fraser examined every nook and cranny of the bathroom. 

Ray finished up only to discover Fraser trying to look inside the paper towel dispenser. Ray stared, wondering how long it had been since Fraser'd gotten any sleep. Maybe he needed one of his little power naps.

 

"Fraser. Your hat ain't that small and the bathroom ain't that big. Where to next?" 

"I suppose you're right. Let's see...I finished my ablutions--" 

"In the bathroom? Gross." 

"--and then went in search of you." Fraser left the bathroom, with Ray in not-so-hot pursuit. "I thought you'd still be at Central Booking, so I headed in that direction, but then I heard you taunting the suspect and deduced you had progressed to the holding cell." 

"Hey! I was not taunting him. I was prepping him. For the interrogation." 

"You were making fun of his pants." 

"They're plaid. Who wears plaid pants? That is just not right. Not even on a golf course." 

"Mr. Hayden plays golf?" 

"No." 

Fraser frowned slightly, the Canadian version of 'you're very annoying.' 

"I know the feeling," said Ray.


* *

"Hey! I want a lawyer! I'm not staying in here another minute!"

Ray reached through the bars of the holding cell and grabbed Glenn Hayden by the shirt. He slammed him against the bars. "Listen, scumbag. We found a trail of blood leading to a bloody knife in your toaster the same day your mother-in-law was stabbed to death. You'll get your public defender when he or she gets here, but in the meantime and even after that, you ain't going nowhere. So unless you changed your mind and want to confess, shut the fuck up!" Ray let him go, then stalked off to the far corner of the room. Damn, he was exhausted. 

"Ray, there's no need to curse at the young man," Fraser admonished him. "I'm sure he's sorry for what he's done." 

"Yeah," said Hayden, "I'm sorry--Hey! I'm not sorry! I haven't done anything to be sorry for. I wasn't even home when she was killed." 

"That's great, dipshit," said Ray "'Cause she wasn't killed at your house." 

"I wasn't at her house either!" 

"Nor was she killed at her house," said Fraser. 

"You--You--both of you--stop trying to confuse me! I know how this works! You're trying to trick me into saying I killed that bitch! Well, I didn't! I thought about it a million times, and I'll shake the hand of whoever finally did in that meddling old crone, but it wasn't me. I'm not going down for it!" He stalked to the back of the cell and slammed down onto the rickety cot. 

Ray watched the outburst from his corner. A night in jail was finally loosening Hayden's tongue. He'd interrogated Hayden for two hours, and this was the first time Hayden even admitted to disliking his mother-in-law--like most everyone else in her life--much less wanting to kill her. But he still wasn't saying what Ray wanted to hear--a confession--and worst of all, Ray had a hunch that Hayden wasn't the perp. The guy was definitely a scumbag--Ray's scumbag-ometer was redlining. Unfortunately, his lie-ometer was barely flickering. Hayden was probably telling the truth--at least about not killing his mother-in-law.

Problem was, he was their only viable suspect so far. The violence of the crime, the multiple stab wounds, and the very personal slashing of the vic's face, indicated the killer was someone who knew the vic, Thelma O'Grady, and was seriously pissed at her. Ray couldn't imagine anyone being that pissed at a little old lady--until he'd met her daughter. She was a first-class bitch with a serious case of the Better-Than-Yous. If the mother was anything like the daughter but with twenty-five more years of self-centered sourness added on, she'd be the kind of little old lady that even Fraser would be tempted to throw under a bus rather than help across the street.

Ray had seen Fraser twitching with the desire to lecture the daughter, Mrs. Ingrid Estelle O'Grady Hayden--'You may call me Mrs. Hayden, Officer.'-when she'd gone on a tear, reaming the maid out right in front of them for spilling some tea. They'd just finished delivering the bad news about her mom, when Mrs. Hayden suddenly picked up a giant bell on the table next to her and rang it loud enough to hear in Canada. Ray'd momentarily thought she had gone hysterical with grief, but it turned out she was just summoning the maid. The poor kid had been shaking like a leaf when she'd brought in the tea; Ray had expected the whole tray to go crashing onto the floor, not just the teapot. Luckily, Fraser'd held his tongue throughout Mrs. Hayden's tirade--She did just lose her mother, Ray.--and instead simply offered to assist the poor girl in re-making the tea.

It turned out to be something of a lucky break. Fraser was able to get some background info on the vic from the maid who, when separated from her boss, was able to stop shaking long enough to answer a few questions. Incredibly, she'd made excuses for Mrs. Hayden--Fraser'd said it was like she was an abused women making excuses for her abuser. Fraser had listened patiently then, no doubt politely, questioned the maid about her other boss's--Mrs. O'Grady's--friends and enemies. Apparently, no one liked her, but it was doubtful anyone hated her enough to kill her; it was easier to just ignore her. The maid painted a picture of a mean old women who had long ago alienated everyone and so lived a lonely, bitter life. It became slightly less lonely when her daughter moved in after separating from her husband.

Ray, meanwhile, had continued trying to get info out of the 'grieving' daughter; she turned out to be a lot more interested in how soon mommy dearest's estate could be settled than in who killed her. Ray had immediately inquired where Mrs. Hayden herself had been when her mother was killed. She had informed him that she didn't appreciate his insinuation or his tone. He'd replied that she'd like being arrested for obstruction even less. She'd then gleefully informed him of her ironclad alibi, all but sticking her tongue out at him. She'd apparently then realized it was a great opportunity to harass her (soon to be ex-) husband and casually mentioned that he'd been "in trouble with the law" and that he "despised mother."

A phone call to Frannie later, and they had the full scoop on Mr. Glenn Hayden. Mr. Hayden's troubles with the law included nearly a dozen arrests for assault, aggravated assault and assault with a deadly weapon. Ray and Fraser had booked it over to Hayden's house, Ray intent on dragging him to the station and interrogating him despite Fraser's reminder that Hayden had never been convicted of anything. It was a moot point when they'd arrived to find a trail of blood leading from his front door to the bloody knife in the kitchen. 

Now it was the following morning. Hayden was safely ensconced in a jail cell and finally talking after keeping mum for most of the two-hour interrogation the night before. Ray frowned. A perfectly good scumbag, and he turns out to be innocent. Probably.

"If it wasn't you, who was it?" Ray finally replied. "Why don't you think about that while you wait for your lawyer." 

Hayden gave him the finger. Ray returned the favor. "C'mon, Fraser, the hat ain't in here. Let's go." 

"We haven't checked the holding cell thoroughly," said Fraser.

"The cell has bars," Ray explained. "We can see through the bars. The hat ain't in there." 

"We can't see under the cot," Fraser said. 

"Your hat is not--" Ray stopped. Accept the inevitable, sleep sooner. He turned back to Hayden. "Hey, plaidboy," he said. "Get your butt off that cot and lift it up, so we can see under it." 

"Make me." 

Ray rushed toward the cell, but Fraser grabbed him and pulled him away. 

"I suggest you do as my partner requests unless you'd like him to kick you in the head. He has a fondness for threatening to do so, and I am confident that one day he actually will." Ray nodded in agreement. Damn straight he'd actually do it one day. 

"I'm not afraid of your little sidekick!" sneered Hayden. 

"Sidekick!?" yelled Ray. "Let me at him, Frase. I'm going to make him eat those pants."


* *

 
Ray waited in the hallway, while Fraser finished persuading Hayden to move the stupid cot. He paced back and forth, getting more and more pissed.

He was nobody's sidekick. If anything, Fraser was his sidekick. Yeah. Ray was the main guy, the hometown hero. The badass Chicago cop with three citations for bravery. Fraser was the one in the funny suit. Although, come to think of it, wasn't it usually the superhero that wore the costume? And weren't they usually foreigners like Superman, from a different planet? Fraser was definitely from a different planet. Fuck. He kicked the wall. He was driving himself crazy.

The truth was, he'd felt like a sidekick--just a bit--since the first day he started working with Fraser. The stories about him being some kind of Canadian Superman were practically true. Ray'd always thought he was a pretty good cop, smart--well, street smart--and reasonably brave. But when it came to working with Fraser, he was always a day late and five dollars short. He was always chasing after Fraser, trying to keep up. Always one step behind. Physically and mentally. It sucked. Fraser was a great guy with a heart of gold, but he was also really frigging annoying. Mostly because Fraser would never tell him what the hell was going on. He would figure things out and keep them to himself, half the time. It wasn't buddies.

When Fraser finally stepped into the hallway, Ray got in his face. 

"Let's get one thing straight, Fraser," snarled Ray, I am not your sidekick."

Fraser looked at him blankly, hesitating before finally saying, "Understood." 

Ray narrowed his eyes. "What? Is that how you think of me? Your little American sidekick?"

Fraser looked stricken. Hurt flashed across his face. Ray instantly felt guilty. "Ray! Of course not. We're a team. A duet, remember? For heaven's sake, why are you letting this particular miscreant's choice of pejoratives get to you?" 

"Aw, jeez, Fraser," said Ray. He blew out a breath, letting the fight wash out of him. "I'm real sorry, buddy. I'm just tired, and he..." Ray shrugged. "Button." A big, honking 'Ray is incompetent button,' that Fraser was always pushing. It wasn't his fault though. Mostly. 

Fraser looked down at his tunic buttons. 

"Not those kind of buttons." Ray laughed. "Forget it. We're cool. Temporary meltdown due to lack of sleep. Let's just find the hat. Hey--why don't you just ask Dief to sniff it out? He already go home?" 

Fraser tugged at his collar. "Ah. No. I believe he's napping under your desk. I...haven't spoke with him for a few hours." 

Ray smiled. This was going to be good. He looked at Fraser, patiently waiting for the rest of the story. 

Fraser quickly gave in. "Oh, alright," he said, slouching ever so slightly in defeat. "He's not speaking to me. I put him on a diet. A very healthy, nutritionally sound and tasty diet, I might add. Well, tasty to a wolf--a normal wolf."

"Dief ain't normal."

"Indeed. He claims he's experiencing delirium tremens--the 'DTs'--due to donut withdrawal. He fakes a seizure whenever I try to talk to him."             

"Maybe I could talk to him," Ray said in between bouts of laughter. "I could medit--medie--be your go between."

"No, thank you. Even if he agreed, I hardly think being indebted to him for finding my hat will improve his attitude. Let's just continue our search." He clasped his hands together and turned. "Now, after leaving Mr. Hayden in the holding cell, we briefed Lieutenant Welsh."


* *

"Detective!" barked Lieutenant Welsh.
 

Ray jumped up off the Lieu's sofa where he'd been dozing. He looked around for Fraser, intending to glare at him for letting Ray get caught sleeping in the boss's office while looking for his hat. Fraser was nowhere to be found, however, and the Lieutenant's glowering face was demanding an explanation pronto. 

"Uh. Yes, sir. Just waiting on your arrival, sir. So's I could update you on the O'Grady case. Sir." He glanced at his watch, trying to remember what time they'd gone into Welsh's office, the next stop on their hat-seeking adventure. Ray couldn't have been sleeping that long. Where the hell had Fraser gone? Maybe he was heeding nature's call again. 

Welsh sighed irritably. "Well, get on with--Fraser! What are you doing under my desk?" 

Fraser popped up from behind Welsh's desk. "Good morning, Lieutenant. I trust you slept well." 

"I didn't get home until after midnight. I had horrible indigestion and the neighbor's cat was yowling his head off outside my window all night. So, no I did not sleep well, Constable. Is there a reason you're crawling around my office while one of my esteemed detectives--" he looked at Ray, "--snores away his publicly-funded overtime?" 

Ray slumped back onto the sofa and banged his head against the wall a few times. The Lieutenant had only just got there, and he was already in a worse mood then the time Frannie made him switch to fat-free cream cheese. 

"Indeed," answered Fraser. "I'm in search of my hat, which is, as you may or may not know, an official part of my uniform, meaning if I am unable to locate it--" 

Ray could see Welsh was about to boil over, so he cut Fraser off. "I clocked out at six. I was going to get some rest before getting back on it, when Fraser shanghaied me into looking for his hat. Dief's not talking to him, and he's convinced I hid it."                                             

"The dog thinks you hid the Constable's hat?" 

"Wolf," said Fraser. 

"No," said Ray, "Fraser thinks--" 

"Forget it," growled Welsh, "Upon reflection, I find I don't care. Just give me your progress report and get out." He shooed Fraser away from his desk. Fraser looked at him blankly before finally stepping around the desk and standing at attention. 

"Yes, sir," said Ray. "I questioned Hayden--"

"The vic's son-in-law?"

"Yeah. On his way to ex- son-in-law. He's separated from the daughter for almost a year now--I sweated him for almost two hours, but he didn't break. Said he didn't know how the knife got there, it wasn't there before, I was asleep, I don't know nothing, blah blah bah, 'til he finally wised up and lawyered up--public defender--but he ain't here yet. He's--Hayden's still in holding. While we were on the great hat hunt of 1998," he continued, throwing a dirty look at Fraser, "we passed by him, and he must've been rattled by the night in jail. He admitted spontaneous-like that he hated dear old mommy-in-law and fantasized about killing her, but--" Ray shrugged and shook his head. 

"But, what, detective? I'm not a mime-reader."

"That's very funny, sir."

"Thank you, Constable." 

Ray refrained from rolling his eyes at Welsh's comedic stylings. "I don't think Hayden did it." 

"Why not?" 

Ray shrugged again. "I can't say yet. Just a feeling." 

"Unless you've got some hard evidence that points to someone else," Welsh said, his voice rising in irritation, "Hayden's history of assault, admitted disdain for the deceased, and the bloody knife you found in his kitchen trump your feeling." 

Ray just nodded. No since poking the bear. 

"What about you?" said Welsh, looking to Fraser. "You concur with his 'feeling'?" 

"I...don't disagree with the conclusions to which Ray's feeling has led him." Ray translated in his head; Fraser was agreeing with him. 

"English, Constable." Welsh wasn't fluent in Canadian. 

"He means," said Ray, "he doesn't think Hayden did it either, but he's got some fancy logical reason for it." 

"Well, let's hear it." Welsh gestured impatiently. 

"Mr. Hayden clearly has a motive," Fraser began, "and the knife is compelling evidence. I'm confident it is, in fact, the murder weapon. However, why would Mr. Hayden kill Mrs. O'Grady in the park then bring the murder weapon home? There are numerous locations in the park itself--most noticeably the lake--as well as on the route from the park to his home at which he could have easily and very likely permanently disposed of the knife." 

"That's it? That's all you got?" said Ray. "Maybe he kept the knife for sentimental reasons. Maybe he's just stupid."

Fraser frowned at him. "I would also question why Mr. Hayden would leave such a glaringly obvious blood trail in his own home. From the front door directly to the murder weapon." Fraser scoffed. "It's absurd. No, I believe Mr. Hayden is being framed. You'll recall he was asleep when we arrived. Someone made illicit ingress to his home and planted the knife. We need to determine who."

"Anyone can fake being asleep," protested Ray. "And the blood trail wasn't all that obvious. I didn't see it. You didn't see it. Dief was the one pointed it out. And there was no sign of a break-in. You checked the doors and windows yourself."

"Detective, I believe the Constable is agreeing with your assessment."

Ray flushed. "I know. I'm just being thorough, playing devil's what's-it. Advocate." 

Welsh stared for a few more moments, then shook his and huffed out a breath. "You get prelim labs on the knife yet?" he asked. "Are his prints on it?" 

"We were just in the evidence lock-up," replied Fraser. "The analyst hadn't yet picked up the knife." 

"Great, so we don't even know if it's the same blood type as the vic? I'll call Marie and light a fire under her department's ass. What's his alibi?" 

"Uh--he wasn't too clear on that, sir," said Ray. "Kind of squirrelly about the whole thing. I think he was doing something he shouldn't, just not killing his mother-in-law." 

"Hmmph. Go talk to his boss, his friends, the wife again if you have to. Figure out where he was. If you're right, and he's not our guy, I want to know yesterday. I'll have Ms. Vecchio call you when the labs come in."

Ray considered mentioning his lack of sleep, thought better of it, and just nodded. "Aye-aye, sir." 

"Lieutenant, if I may, Ray is in dire need of--" 

"Coffee," interrupted Ray, glaring at Fraser. As if Fraser didn't need sleep too. "I'll grab some on the way." 

Fraser made his 'but, Ray' face. Ray glared harder and shook his head.

Fraser rolled his eyes - 'you're being childish, Ray.' Ray responded by sticking out his tongue. 'I'll show you childish.' 

"As entertaining as this isn't," interrupted Welsh. "I'd like to hear what the Constable has to say."

"Ah," said Fraser. "Indeed." Ray gave him a warning look. "Ray is in dire need of...my assistance on this case, so I shall--ah, assist him."

"That's wonderful news. Thank you for your generosity," Welsh said, eyes narrowed. "The Chicago Police Department is fortunate to have someone such as yourself to assist us with our dire needs," he added. Ray closed his eyes.

"Think nothing of it," Fraser replied, "That reminds me--I have some home-made antacid that I think would be very effective in liberating you from your digestive distress. It's made from ginger and ground Walrus' kidneys. It also helps clogged sinuses, and if applied topically, it can be quite effective in alleviating muscle soreness."

Ray covered his face. 

Welsh yelled, "FRANCESCA!" 

Frannie popped her head in. "You bellowed?" 

"Get me Marie Baclao on the line." 

She saluted Welsh sarcastically, then turned to Fraser, stepping in close. "Good morning, Fraser." 

Fraser tugged on his collar and took a small step backwards, but Frannie just followed him, getting even closer. "Ah. Good morning, Francesca." She smiled up at him. 

"Ray," said Fraser, looking at Ray desperately. "I believe you wanted to depart immediately in order to speak with Mrs. Hayden again before she leaves for work?" 

Mrs. Hayden's work, according to the maid, consisted of schmoozing with her country club pals most of the day and the occasional spot of charity work, and Ray doubted she got up before noon to do either. Regardless, he took pity on Fraser, grabbing him by the tunic and pulling him away from Frannie, towards the door. "Yeah, let's go." 

Frannie scowled at him. "You look terrible," she said, "and you smell like a locker room." 

"Gee, thanks, sis. Good morning to you, too. I hope you enjoyed your nice, warm bed last night. I was here all night, making the city a safer place for kittens and babies."

"Lighten up. I was just kidding. Except for the part about smelling. And looking terrible."

"That's all the parts!"

"Children!" hollered Welsh, "No fighting in my office." He frowned at Ray. "She's right. Go home, get some sleep. I'll put Ortiz and Baker on the alibi. They're not doing anything useful. I want you back here at noon though." 

Frannie smiled at Welsh, and Ray could have sworn he blushed, which was weird and kind of scary. "Nah, I'm fine. Raring to go." He punched the air a couple of times, sparring with an invisible boxing partner and showing Welsh he was ready to fight crime another day. Then he tripped over his own feet and crashed onto the sofa.

"Noon, Detective. That gives you four hours to rest your brain. I only hope it's enough." The expression on his face said he doubted it. "Now," continued Welsh, turning to Frannie. "Would you be so kind as to escort your 'brother' and his partner out of my office. And shut the door behind you." 

"Jeez," Frannie said on her way out, "someone woke up on the right side of the bed."

"It's 'the wrong side,'" said Ray.

"Duh, that's why he's so grumpy."
 

* *
 

Ray tried to slip out the door to go home and sleep like his boss told him to, but Fraser gave him the big, sad Mountie eyes, and Ray found himself following Fraser to the interrogation room. He headed straight for one of the two chairs in the room and collapsed on it.

There couldn't possibly be that many more places to look for the damn hat. After dumping Hayden in a holding cell, he and Fraser'd been joined at the hip, working the case the whole night. The farthest Fraser had gotten from him was the other side of the two-way mirror separating the room he was currently in from the viewing room next door.

He glanced around, his eyes itchy with fatigue. There was nothing in the room except a table and two chairs. It was obvious--to him--that Fraser's hat wasn't there. "Fraser, you really need my help to search two pretty much empty rooms?"

"I'm aware of that," replied Fraser. He was glaring at the corner behind where Ray was seated. Or maybe he was glaring at Ray. It was hard to tell with Fraser. Maybe it was a Canadian thing. Don't glare directly at the person you're pissed at. Except Ray'd been glared at directly by Fraser plenty of times and anyway, he was pretty sure he hadn't done anything glare-worthy recently. Well, there was that little tiff in the hallway, but Fraser'd seemed more hurt than angry.

"You pissed at me?" 

Fraser looked confused. "No." 

"Then why--never mind. What are you aware of?" 

"Pardon me?" 

"What are you aware of? You just said, 'I'm aware of that.' So, of what are you aware?" 

"Ah, I am aware that the interrogation and viewing rooms are essentially empty." 

"O...kay," said Ray. He was way too tired to deal with Fraser's brand of weirdness today. "So you're just dragging my exhausted ass around to torture me?" 

"Not now," hissed Fraser. 

"Fine," said Ray, jumping up and knocking the chair to the floor. He'd had just about enough of this. "I'm outta here." Fraser could find his own stupid hat without Ray. 

Fraser moved fast, getting himself between Ray and the door. "No--my apologies, Ray. I was talking to myself--'Not now! Now is a very bad time to lose your hat!' Hehe." Fraser said, ending with a completely fake laugh. 

"Why's now such a bad time?" he asked. 

"Ah...well... I have to be on duty...soon...and it wouldn't do for me to be out of uniform." 

"Don't you have a spare hat?" 

"...Yes." 

"Then what the heck is your problem? Are you trying to drive me crazy? Are you trying to kill me with sleep deprivation? I know you ain't on duty again until tomorrow morning, and since you sleep in your office, I'm pretty sure you'll have time to grab your spare hat before going to work. Why are you being such a freakazoid? Do you really think I hid your hat? I didn't hide your damn hat!"             

"I know," admitted Fraser. 

"Aghhhhhh!" yelled Ray. He kicked the wall a few times, then leaned against it, and slowly slid to the floor. He leaned back, head resting against the wall and closed his eyes. It sure was quiet in the interrogation room when no one was being interrogated. He started to drift off, when Fraser finally spoke up again.             

"My apologies," he said. "You're right. I'm being--silly. You go home and get some rest. I will complete the search alone and then seek my own slumber." He smiled, but Ray could see he was faking again. He drifted off towards the viewing room, with an obvious and very unMountie-like slump to his shoulders. Ray watched him go, feeling guilty again. Fraser helped him get a date and he repays the favor by flipping out on him and making next to no effort to help him find his hat, which given, Fraser was acting kind of nutty about. 

"Aw, jeez, Fraser," he called out, "I'll help you find the hat." He gazed longingly at the floor, amazed at how comfy it looked, before hoisting himself up. "We only got a couple places left, right? Just tell me why you're being a freak about it first." 

"I'm not--"

Ray crossed his arms and stood there, making it clear that the hat quest wasn't continuing until Fraser came clean. 

"Alright. I confess to being a bit...insufferable about my hat. It's just..." 

Ray made a beckoning gesture. "Out with it." 

Fraser looked away. His ears were turning red. "My spare hat doesn't fit right. It's the exact same make and model, and I've treated it exactly the same. There's no logical reason for it to be so--it itches! And it squeezes my head, giving me rather unpleasant headaches, and yet, it has the most infuriating habit of falling off. It fell off of my head once while I was standing guard duty. I wasn't even moving!"

Ray tried not to laugh.

 

* *
 

The vending machines were taunting Ray. He felt around in his pockets for change, but in addition to exhausted and starving, he was unfortunately, at the moment, broke.

"Fraser, you got any money? I'm starving."

"I gave you all the American money I carry last time we were in here." At long last, they had reached the final stop in their quest to find Fraser's hat. The break room.                                      

"Oh, yeah. Thanks." Ray remembered the four bags of Doritos longingly.

Now that he could see food, dozens of packages of it, he was suddenly lightheaded from hunger. A package of potato chips caught his eye; they were sticking out a bit more than most of the junk in there. He banged on the machine, then grabbed the sides and shook it a few times, trying to dislodge the chips. Nothing. Ray sighed. He was going to starve to death.

"Ray," Fraser tsked from behind him, "that would be stealing. I'd have to report you."

"You wouldn't. And it's not stealing if you're going to die without it. It's self-defense. I'm starving here, Fraser. I need food."

Fraser snorted, though he'd probably deny it. "Nothing in that machine could be called food. There's isn't a modicum of nutrition to be found in there."

"Yeah, well, it all looks good to me. A bucket of corn syrup and a couple packages of empty calories would be just the thing to help a starving Detective remember where he put his partner's hat."

Ray watched Fraser whip around, eyes narrowed suspiciously.

"I'm kidding. I'm kidding. I didn't do anything to your hat. Jeez."

Fraser studied him for a few moments before shaking his head. "Indeed," he said. He packed a whole lot of disappointment and disapproval into that one word. "Since you're right there, why don't you search for said hat under the vending machines, while I check the seating area."

"Sure," said Ray. He glanced under the first machine. The hat wasn't there, of course. Just a thick layer of dust that reminded Ray of his own house. While looking for the remote a couple nights ago, he'd found an Oreo under the couch with a layer of dust on it thicker than the layer of cream--and it had been a DoubleStuf. He was far from a clean-freak, but that had disgusted even him. He decided then and there to hire a maid, someone to come by a couple times a month and do some light cleaning. Just enough to keep him out of sty-territory.

The next vending machine yielded more dust and two quarters. Five more cents, and he could buy some Twinkies. When he'd mentioned his big maid decision to Fraser, he'd gotten a lecture about the merits of cleaning up one's own messes followed by a sermon on the virtues of not making a mess in the first place, and he'd ended up forgetting the whole thing. He wondered now if what's-her-name, O'Grady's maid, could recommend someone.

The last vending machine yielded another score: two dimes. Ray whooped in triumph.

"You found it?" Fraser was at his side in a moment. He looked so hopeful, Ray felt a twinge of guilt.

"No, sorry. But I found enough change to get me some nutritionally lacking sustenance."

"Congratulations."

"Your day will come too, my friend. Hey, remember how I was thinking of hiring a maid? You think what's-her-name, the vic's maid, could recommend someone? I was thinking of asking her when we go back. There isn't some kind of maid, uh--what do you call that? Like they got in India? The levels of people."

"Levels of people?" Fraser repeatedly blankly. He looked up at Ray--from beneath the table he was currently crawling around under--like Ray was the one that was unhinged.

"Don't be looking at me like I'm the crazy one in this partnership. You know what I mean. The different levels of people. Who can talk to who and have what kind of job and marry certain people and whatnot."

Fraser made a face, like he was engaging his own translator. Ray to English. "...caste system?" he finally supplied.

"Yeah! There ain't some kind of maid caste system is there? She's not gonna have some kind of nervous breakdown if I ask her about cop-type maids when she's a high-society-type maid? She looked ready to faint if someone said 'boo' to her. Poor kid. Why's she even working for that bi--uh, woman. Someone treated me like that, I'd quit. And kick 'em in the head."

"I believe Cecelia is a very troubled young woman. I suspect her mother--"

"Who's Cecelia?"

Fraser sighed. "The maid."

"Oh, yeah. Nice name. Go on--Celia's mom...?"

"Cecelia. I suspect Cecelia's mother was abusive and controlling. She shows all the classic signs. She seems to have recreated that relationship with Mrs. Hayden. She loves her and seeks her approval, desperately trying to please her, at same time she--"
                                                                                            
"Fraser. I am way too tired for a lecture on Psychology. Can you just answer my question?"

"I don't know what a 'cop-type' maid is."

"It's a maid that a cop can afford. Who only works a couple times a month instead of living with the boss like Cecily."

"Cecelia."

"That's what I said."

Fraser sighed again, then resumed his search of the break room. Ray took that to mean it was safe to ask Cecelia--hehe, Fraser was so easy--about his maid situation.

He turned back to his own search. He was ostensibly looking for Fraser's hat in the cupboards, but really he was hoping to find where Frannie had hid Welsh's fig newton stash. No luck so far, and Ray was still starving. The Twinkies he'd purchased with the dust-covered coins were a distant, chemical aftertaste.

The break room was the only room he and Fraser had been in while looking for the hat that actually had a decent number of places to hide a hat--if someone had hidden it, but Ray really didn't think anyone had. Fraser must not have thought so either, or he wouldn't be restricting them to just rooms that he'd been in.

Then again, maybe this was just the starting point. Ray froze. Shit. When tracing Fraser's steps didn't pan out, he was planning to expand the search. He'd insist on searching the entire station and then expand outward block by block until Ray found himself trawling Lake Michigan, interrogating the fish.

"Fraser. I am not searching Lake Michigan for your hat!"

"Of course not, Ray. You're not a trained police diver."

* *
 

They completed their search of the break room, then returned to the bullpen sans hat. Despite the dejected slope of Fraser's shoulders, Ray knew he hadn't given up. Ray, however, had already mourned, eulogized and buried the hat. The hat was dead to him. It was time to take care of the living. Ray. So that he could get some sleep and take care of the dead. Mrs. O'Grady--not the hat.

"Sorry, Frase. I have got to get a few hours of shut-eye. I'm sure the hat will turn up." He gave Fraser a consoling pat on the back.

"I understand," said Fraser. His shoulders drooped even lower. "You go home and get some rest. I'm going to try self-hypnosis. The key to finding my hat is very likely--"

Ray tuned him out. Something he'd said rang a faint bell. The key. "The key!" he shouted. "The fucking key!"

"Are you having a seizure?"

Dief yipped from under Ray's desk. Ray snorted. Deaf, my ass. "No--you said someone snuck into Hayden's house and planted the knife. If it wasn't a break-in--and your super Mountie senses are saying no--then it had to be someone with a key, right?"

"I suppose. Are you suggesting Mrs. Hayden is the perpetrator? Her alibi seemed quite solid."

"Yeah, no, not her. The maid."

"Cecelia." Fraser looked doubtful.

"Yeah. You said that she said she'd known the vic for years, ever since she started working for Mrs. Hayden. Not Mrs. O'Grady--she was the daughter's maid. But the daughter lived with her husband, until they separated a year ago. She would've worked at his house. Known him. Known all about his arrests. And she'd have keys to his house. Or at least access to Mrs. Hayden's keys."

Fraser nodded thoughtfully. "But what motive would she have?"

"Other than the vic being a dried-up old biddy who probably treated her like crap, same as the daughter? You said it yourself--she wanted to please Mrs. Hayden. Nothing would please her as much as getting her hand's on mom's money and sticking it to her ex." Ray could feel it in his bones. He was right.

"Hmm," said Fraser. "Someone that psychologically damaged is essentially a time-bomb waiting to go off. The combination of Mrs. Hayden & Mrs. O'Grady together may have finally been too much."

"Yeah! And remember how she was scared to death when we were there? I thought it was just the way she always was--who wouldn't be jumpy with that stuck-up cow always barking at them? But if she was always spilling tea and making mistakes, no way Mrs. Hayden wouldn't have fired her by now."

"Indeed. She struck me as neither forgiving nor compassionate. It's a compelling theory...logical even."

"Logical my ass. That was all intuition." Ray did a little 'I figured it out and you didn't dance.

Fraser wasn't impressed. "I'm afraid a judge won't accept your intuition as cause to issue an arrest warrant."

"They won't accept your logic either."

"Granted. We need evidence. Perhaps the lab will find hair or fibers that we can trace back to her. Chemical cleaning agents. And we still have the problem of--" 

"Was Mrs. Hayden in on it?"

"No, the problem of where my hat is." 

"Fraser! Forget the damn hat. We've looked everywhere you were at. Someone must've taken it in which case it's gone and you gotta start the mourning process or else you just misplaced it, and it'll turn up." 

"I suppose..." Fraser trailed off. He looked around the bullpen one last time, before sitting down and staring at the wall dejectedly.

Ray, on the other hand, was feeling energized now by his brilliant theory of the crime. Forget sleep. He was ready to go have a little talk with Cecelia the maid. He went to his desk to grab his jacket. Dief's tail was sticking out from under the desk, wagging merrily. Ray looked back at Fraser, communing with the wall. Damn. Ray was going to have the bribe the wolf. It was his only chance of diverting Fraser from sulking about his hat when he should be concentrating on solving this case. 

"Dief," he called. "Yo, fur-ball. Why don't you cut Fraser some slack and sniff out the hat for him, huh?" 

"He can't hear you," muttered Fraser.

Ray didn't believe that for a moment. Of course he also didn't believe Dief could understand him and yet here he was, trying to reason with the wolf.

"Dief." Ray got down on the floor and stuck his head under the desk in order to talk to him face-to-furface. Dief's furry face, however, was mostly obscured by Fraser's hat, sitting atop his wolfy head at a jaunty angle. Only Dief's snout was visible and even Ray couldn't deny he was smirking.


The End.

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9 Comments

Musegaarid Author Profile Page said:

ahahahahaha! Awesome. Love Dief in this and everyone is so perfectly in character. Very nice.

Mal Author Profile Page said:

What a marvelous romp! I felt like I was watching an episode, it's all so quirky and true to character and snarky and funny, with just that perfect edge of surrealism. Grand fun!

This was a great romp through the wackiness that is due South. Perfectly in tune with the show, great dialog, great characterizations. Perfect and so well written. Thank you, mystery author!

OMG, I'm literally wiping down tears of laughter off my face. What a fantastic story, ! A good casefic and Fraser-RayK interaction. As a matter of fact, all of the dS characters' voices were en pointe.

I was tittering when I read this:

Ray rushed over and yanked him up. "Fraser," he hissed, "Don't embarrass me in front of the pretty lady."

"Can I embarrass you in front of women you don't find attractive?" whispered Fraser.

It was this next quote, however, what made me laugh so hard, I had to take my glasses off as I guffawed:

Fraser quickly gave in. "Oh, alright," he said, slouching ever so slightly in defeat. "He's not speaking to me. I put him on a diet. A very healthy, nutritionally sound and tasty diet, I might add. Well, tasty to a wolf--a normal wolf."

"Dief ain't normal."

"Indeed. He claims he's experiencing delirium tremens--the 'DTs'--due to donut withdrawal. He fakes a seizure whenever I try to talk to him."

Genius!

Oh and this last quote started another laughing fit:

Fraser looked away. His ears were turning red. "My spare hat doesn't fit right. It's the exact same make and model, and I've treated it exactly the same. There's no logical reason for it to be so--it itches! And it squeezes my head, giving me rather unpleasant headaches, and yet, it has the most infuriating habit of falling off. It fell off of my head once while I was standing guard duty. I wasn't even moving!"

Unlike, RayK, I laughed my head off.

You should be proud of this fic, it's totally brilliant! :)

azamiko Author Profile Page said:

*grin* I knew it was Dief as soon as Fraser said Dief was mad at him. The maid...I should have known, but I was distracted by the hat. :b

Awwww! This was great! It felt like an episode.

Heeeee. So fun! And funny!

And Ray got a date! o.O

vienna_waits Author Profile Page said:

bluebrocade, I am so incredibly sorry you're only hearing from me now. This is the first time I've logged into LJ in at least a month--I just assumed there wouldn't be a story for me, so I didn't bother to come looking for one.

I LOVED this story! It was just perfect, and I am in awe of your Ray-voice. I love how you included some phrases characters have said in the show, but put your own twist on them. Such great banter..

Ray rushed over and yanked him up. "Fraser," he hissed, "Don't embarrass me in front of the pretty lady."
"Can I embarrass you in front of women you don't find attractive?" whispered Fraser.
BWAH!

"Uh. Hehe. I guess sound travels in this... small room," said Ray, I can just see and hear the beat while Ray acknowledges the reality of the situation.

Yay Duck Boys! I'm glad they got to have a cameo.

Ray finished up only to discover Fraser trying to look inside the paper towel dispenser. Ah ha ha ha ha ha!! I can see this too.

"Hey! I was not taunting him. I was prepping him. For the interrogation."
"You were making fun of his pants."
"They're plaid. Who wears plaid pants? That is just not right. Not even on a golf course."

Another big laugh here.

Ray shrugged. "Button."
Fraser looked down at his tunic buttons.

So perfect.

"But, what, detective? I'm not a mime-reader."
"That's very funny, sir."
"Thank you, Constable."
Welsh, oh how I love him!

Frannie smiled at Welsh, and Ray could have sworn he blushed, which was weird and kind of scary. Wow, a teensy hint of Frannie/Welsh! Clearly you read a bunch of my fic while writing this.

"Jeez," Frannie said on her way out, "someone woke up on the right side of the bed."
"It's 'the wrong side,'" said Ray.
"Duh, that's why he's so grumpy."
AWESOME Frannie banter!

"I'm aware of that," replied Fraser. He was glaring at the corner behind where Ray was seated. BOB! I am clapping with glee that you included Bob Fraser!

"My spare hat doesn't fit right. I tried not to laugh but FAILED.

Fraser made a face, like he was engaging his own translator. Ray to English. "...caste system?" he finally supplied.
BWAH HA HA HA HA HA!! I loved this!

Ray took that to mean it was safe to ask Cecelia--hehe, Fraser was so easy--about his maid situation. I love that Ray was deliberately messing with Fraser here.

"Fraser. I am not searching Lake Michigan for your hat!"
"Of course not, Ray. You're not a trained police diver."

SO perfect! Another laugh.

Ray knew he hadn't given up. Ray, however, had already mourned, eulogized and buried the hat. The hat was dead to him. It was time to take care of the living. Ray. So that he could get some sleep and take care of the dead. Mrs. O'Grady--not the hat. So good. I loved this whole paragraph to bits.

"Logical my ass. That was all intuition." Ray did a little 'I figured it out and you didn't dance. The reveal of the murderer worked really well. The whole thing was very believable, and I LOVE the 'I figured it out and you didn't' dance!

Dief's furry face, however, was mostly obscured by Fraser's hat, sitting atop his wolfy head at a jaunty angle.
Hirsute Angry Thief = H.A.T. :-) And Dief is plenty hairy, all right.

This was such a wonderful, awesome story. You managed to work in pretty much the whole cast, had a funny plot AND a casefic, and the humor! The banter! Such brilliance! I bow to the master!

Sorry again for being so ashamed of my total dSSS FAIL that I couldn't even come here until now (I saw your private message and immediately felt like an even bigger ass).

At any rate, I ADORED this story and thought you did a spectacular job of dishing up exactly what I requested! And the funny, OMG the funny! You brought it!! I've already bookmarked it and plan to read it whenever I need a laugh. Thank you so much for all of the obvious painstaking work and effort you put into it!!

galenlisle said:

What a great story! Such a Dief, poor Fraser!

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This page contains a single entry by agent165 published on December 19, 2009 12:46 AM.

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