Phenomenal Cosmic Powers (itty bitty living space) by Ifreet

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Title: Phenomenal Cosmic Powers (itty bitty living space)
For:
brigantine1
Pairing/Characters: Vecchio/Kowalski, Fraser
Warnings:
None
Vidder's/Author's/Artist's Notes:
I would like to thank the instigator who told me to run with this idea and gave me ongoing support and suggestions, and the beta who reassured me that it made sense outside of my head.

Ray dug through his bottom desk drawer. He hit the hollowed out art book at the bottom, wondered again why it was there, then slid the drawer shut. He'd heard the increase in sound, but ignored it while he searched. It wasn't the loud anger-panic of a brewing problem. The cause of those cheerful voices was less important than finding the mislaid ballistics report Wesson swore he'd put on Ray's desk. Ray looked up in time to be greeted by a slobbery wolf tongue.

"Ew, get down, get down," he complained, even as his fingers sank into Dief's ruff. Dief's front paws hit the floor, and Ray grinned. "Missed you, too. Where's Benny?" He looked up to see Stella's ex instead with an odd expression flitting across his face, there and gone before Ray could catalog it.

"Kowalski," Welsh greeted, and the man disappeared into Welsh's office. Ray frowned.

Diefenbaker woofed at him, drawing his attention back. "No, I don't have any donuts. I didn't know you were coming."

The half-wolf grumbled and lay down by his desk. Ray pretended to get back to work, shuffling papers around, picking up pens and writing nothing, ears straining for the quiet sound of Welsh's door opening. He needn't have tried.

"Vecchio!" Welsh pitched his voice to carry over the usual din.

Ray hurried over but paused at the door. Kowalski was still in there, fidgeting from foot to foot. "Sir?"

"Come in, shut the door."

Ray tried not to read too much bad news into the closed door. Diefenbaker followed him in, and he seemed pretty sanguine, so Benny was probably fine. Ray still shot Welsh a worried look, and Welsh shook his head slightly. Nothing serious then. The knot between his shoulders relaxed. "Kowalski's been transferred in. Bring him up to speed on your open cases."

Ray had relaxed too soon. "You can't be serious."

"I'm short two detectives, Vecchio. You bet I'm serious." He stared Ray down for a long moment. Ray was familiar with the technique, but it was still damn effective. He shut up. Welsh's eyes shifted to Kowalski. "And I don't expect any problems."

"Understood," Kowalski said. And that knot in his back was back with a vengeance, because that was pure Benny.

"And Constable Fraser, sir?" He asked Welsh while looking at Kowalski and caught a repeat of the earlier wince, suppressed even more quickly this time.

"Constable Fraser is not a member of the Chicago Police Department and therefore not my concern at this time. If he returns to duty at the Chicago consulate and if he resumes his role as liaison, then I will determine how the department can best make use of his assistance. Clear?" Welsh stared them down until they each nodded, then nodded himself in apparent satisfaction. "Go."

***

Catching Kowalski up on the forty-odd cases on Ray's desk would take the rest of the day, easy. Usually, Ray would have spent some time getting to know the new guy, but Kowalski already knew an uncomfortable amount about him, and habit made Ray inclined to hide the gaps in his own knowledge. He'd see what he could get from Frannie later, maybe call Benny. Stella would be the best source, but he couldn't exactly call her out of the blue about her ex-husband, no matter how amicably they'd ended things after their Florida vacation. Which reminded him, he still needed to pay Frannie back for that 'eloped' rumor she denied starting.

To give him credit, Kowalski didn't seem inclined to socialize much either. He listened as Ray worked through the 'active' pile, though his attention always seemed to be drawn elsewhere, either watching someone across the room or just staring into space. But whenever Ray paused to take a breath, Kowalski peppered him with questions. Ray had to admit the questions were decent -- and sometimes covered an angle he hadn't considered yet -- even if they were dragging the process out further. Kowalski also broke into periodic fidgets, though he stilled if Ray looked at him directly. Ray was starting to feel sorry for his elementary school teachers.

By noon, they'd gotten through the first ten files. Ray set the Benedict burglary case aside, and Kowalski started fidgeting again, shifting in his chair like a sugared-up kid. Ray sighed and rubbed a hand over his head. "You want to break for lunch?"

"Yeah," Kowalski replied, bouncing to his feet. Dief woke at the mention of food, looking hopefully from one to the other. Kowalski headed for the door, and the half-wolf followed. He turned back half way. "Do you wanna --?" It was said with obvious reluctance, and Ray knew exactly whose voice Kowalski had just heard telling him to be polite.

"No," Ray said, letting him off the hook. Kowalski looked relieved and walked away.

Ray's attention was pulled back to the stack of files on his desk. He silently cursed Huey again for increasing his caseload by quitting. And Welsh, even more silently, for making Ray waste his day playing catch-up with Kowalski. Then he picked up the phone to make some follow up calls on the Mead case. He'd better get some real work done while his new partner was out.

***

As Kowalski flopped back into the chair, Ray hung up and added a note to the Boas file -- working with the FBI had impressed upon him the importance of documentation in a way that Benny's mania for filing had not. Dief grumbled and lay back down beside the desk. Kowalski frowned at Ray. "Did you eat?"

"Yes, Ma," he replied, rolling his eyes. Lunch had been a granola bar from the stash in his desk, not that it was any of Kowalski's business. Dief grumbled again. He frowned. "What's up with Dief?"

"He doesn't believe you," Kowalski said. He wasn't smiling, exactly, but he did look amused.

Ray rolled his eyes. "Because I care whether the wolf thinks I ate lunch. I meant, why is he here, with you, instead of -- where exactly? -- with Benny."

The not-quite-smile vanished. "Oh. He's still up in the Northwest Areas. You know about that camping trip we took?"

Ray nodded.

"Well, when we got back, Frase had whole rolls of red tape waiting for him. The Muldoon case, a possible transfer. He figured he's going to be up there for awhile, and Dief missed Chicago -- or at least the food -- so he sent him down with me while he gets everything straightened out." Kowalski shrugged and slouched further into the chair. "You ready to get back to it?"

Ray blinked at the sudden subject change for a moment then picked up the next file. He could get Fraser's number from the consulate later, check out Kowalski's story. "Right. The Levi case. One of a series of robberies near the park on Central. The two-four has some similar ones, so Detective Lawson is supposed to be sending copies of their files..."

When Kowalski took off like a shot at five on the dot, Ray figured that said everything that needed saying about this partnership. They could probably work together, though the true test would come when they hit the streets together. But they weren't friends.

***

By the end of the following day, Ray started thinking that maybe Welsh hadn't been wrong about putting them together after all. They spent the next morning out in the rain doing follow-up on the Benedict case and actually found a viable suspect before noon. Kowalski mostly let Ray take the lead -- and without that nagging sense that his partner was working his own theory close to the chest.

They headed back to the station to dry off and see what Frannie had found on Escher's known associates. Frannie made a scene over Kowalski's return, and Ray was on his way to getting vocally upset that she hadn't made a bigger deal about her actual brother returning from his very dangerous undercover assignment, when she asked where Fraser was.

He snorted and went to check his messages.

Kowalski shook off Frannie and headed out for lunch with a wave. Ray thought about the Corner Deli, but Ms Mead had called while they were out. One phone call and he'd go.

He was still on the phone when Kowalski returned. Ms Mead was both lonely and a talker.

Kowalski looked at him, then turned to Dief. "Well?"

Dief woofed and shook his head, spraying raindrops. Ray was only mostly out of range. "Hey!" he squawked, covering the mouthpiece with a hand. Both man and dog ignored him.

"Yeah, that's what I thought," Kowalski said to Dief and pulled a wax paper bag out of his windbreaker, to set it on Ray's desk. Ray looked at him, and he shrugged. "Corner Deli's Number Five. Fraser would sometimes bring me one and then apologize for no reason, so I figure he'd forget who he was ordering for. C'mon, Dief, coffee."

He fled to the break room while Ray was still gaping at him, Ms Mead saying, "hello? detective? hello?" in his ear. By the time Kowalski came back -- and he took a long time fixing his coffee, long enough for Ray to eat his sandwich -- Ray had decided that he must not want to talk about it.

"Let's go pick up Escher," he said instead.

***

Escher had done time for a similar burglary and been suspected of several others, and he only had a soft alibi for the time of the Benedict job.

Plus he'd tried to run. Always a good sign of guilt in Ray's books.

Kowalski had caught him, slamming him into the alley wall to get the cuffs on him -- which made Kowalski the 'bad' cop. Ray had wondered whether they should switch anyway; Kowalski didn't seem that intimidating.

Until they actually got into interrogation, and all Kowalski's fidgeting transformed into twitchiness. Ray asked the questions, as his partner paced behind him. If anything, Ray's 'good' cop was the problem, since he couldn't seem to connect with this guy. Escher seemed to be having trouble focusing on Ray, his attention sliding past him to Kowalski. They'd only poked a few holes in his story when what they needed was an admission.

Ray started back at the beginning. "So you say you spent all day with..."

"Godel and Bach."

"Now if I talk to Bach --"

"Maybe you should go do that," Kowalski interrupted. Ray turned slightly so he could see him without turning his back on Escher. "Make some calls, talk to Bach. We'll wait, right?" He smiled at Escher -- or rather, showed his teeth at him.

Ray looked at Escher who looked a touch nervous. "Yeah, maybe," he said, filling the words with reluctance. He tipped his head at the recorder sitting on the table. "You're going to leave the tape running, right?"

Kowalski's smile actually got scarier. "Of course."

Ray stared at him for a moment, then shrugged and turned back to Escher. "Okay, I'm going to makes some calls." He stood up, chair scraping against the linoleum. "You want anything when I get back? Water, coffee?"

"Ice," Kowalski suggested.

"Wait," Escher said. "Did you say Crescent Drive? I maybe know something about that job."

Ray sat back down.


***


As soon as the door shut between Escher and the two of them, Kowalski broke into a victory dance, pumping his fist and ... well, the word 'shimmying' seemed to fit. Ray grinned at him and leaned back against the wall to give him space. Because, yeah, they had Escher sewn up and that was worth celebrating.  They just needed to pick up his buddies to tie off the loose ends, and the case would be ready for the DA.  Frannie tried to slip past them, rolling her eyes at Kowalski's antics. Kowalski snagged one of her hands to dance her around the narrow hall. No sooner had he reeled her in than he turned from vaguely ridiculous to ... not ridiculous at all. Graceful. Poised, maybe.


The grin slipped just as Kowalski turned back around to face him. Whatever expression was left in its wake made Kowalski pause, just enough for Frannie to tug free. She smacked Kowalski lightly on the arm.


"Some of us are working here," she informed him pertly.


Kowalski was still looking at Ray. Ray looked away first.


***

The next morning, before they'd even said hello, Kowalski announced, "We need to talk to McDonald again."

McDonald? 'Again' implied they'd talked to him already, so Ray racked his brain for any McDonald they'd talked to once. "You mean McDougall?"

"Yeah, whatever, the farmer in the Geertz case. We got to talk to him"

"Okay, why?"

"It's the wrong season for sheep shearing."

Ray stared at him for a long minute. He'd have sworn that the closest Kowalski had ever come to a farm was the exhibit in Science and Industry. Ray hadn't even thought to wonder if sheep shearing had a season -- he'd figured it was like dog grooming, something you did when they looked ratty or woolly or whatever. Kowalski put on a belligerent expression, and Ray decided not to even ask.

***

Ray knew the time was fast approaching five o'clock. He didn't even need to check his watch, because his new partner was such an obvious clockwatcher. Kowalski had been out the door on time almost every day their first week together, and the one day their investigations dictated otherwise, he'd disappeared around a corner for a minute, cell phone to his ear.

Ray would almost think that Kowalski had someone waiting at home, except his mood turned sour around four o'clock. Quick(er) to anger and subject to slumps -- not the attitude of a man looking forward to getting home. It was a mystery.

Good thing he was a detective.

"Hey, Kowalski," he said, careful not to appear to be paying any attention. "Nice catch with the brother-in-law."

"Huh?" Kowalski dragged his attention away from the clock. "Oh, that. Thanks."

"Buy you a beer?" he offered and glanced up in time to catch Kowalski's smile. He hadn't seen the full wattage version before -- you could light up Wrigley on fireworks night with a smile like that. Ray smiled back even as he realized he was in trouble. He'd always liked a good smile.

But just as quickly, the smile was gone. "Nah, I can't. I've got this thing."

"This thing have a name?"

"It's not like that."

And then Kowalski was gone, too, a whole fifteen minutes early. Dief yipped indignantly and scrambled up from his preferred spot half-under Ray's desk to chase after. Ray leaned back in his chair until the bearings creaked and thought about following him.

Then he thought about Benny. Benny tended to take a direct approach -- if he wanted to know something, most of the time, he simply asked. Ray was amazed how often it worked.

Direct. He could do direct.

Or he could detect.

Ray sat back up, and the chair screeched a complaint. It was past time to call Canada.

***

Ray had put in a long night, but he still made sure to be back at his desk before his partner in the morning. When Kowalski came in, Dief once more in tow, Ray followed him to his desk and leaned against the edge.

"So," he said in a particular quiet, even tone of voice which had been known to make people who'd known the Bookman find reasons to leave the room -- but of course Kowalski wouldn't know that. "Have you heard from Benny lately?"

To give the man credit, he had a decent poker face. "Yeah, he's good. Still treading paperwork up north. Why?"

"Well, I haven't heard from him in awhile, and I'm getting worried."

Kowalski shrugged. "You know how he gets."

"Yeah, I know." He leaned down into Kowalski's space, and the hand he laid on the back of Kowalski's chair cornered him between chair and desk. "But I also know that the consulate hasn't heard from him either. They think he's still in Canada." Kowalski shifted, and Ray froze him with a look. "Frobisher says he came back with you. And I can't find anyone up north that says different."

Kowalski's eyes went wide.

Ray nodded in grim satisfaction. "You've got one chance to tell me what happened."

Kowalski opened and closed his mouth a few times, like he couldn't choose the words. "There's no way you'll believe me. I wouldn't believe me." He drummed his fingers against the arm of the chair for a moment. "Come back to my place, and I'll show you."

Ray raised his eyebrows incredulously. "Right. Is that the last thing Fraser ever heard?"

Kowalski rolled his eyes in a very put-upon and utterly unthreatened way. Then he leaned back in his chair and shouted around Ray, "Frannie, tell your brother I'm not a serial killer!"

"They say it's always the quiet ones," she replied absently, attention on her computer. Then she looked over and gave Kowalski a deliberate once over. "So he's probably okay."

Kowalski made a face at her, then turned an almost hopeful expression on Ray. "Come on, do you think Dief would stay with me if I'd hurt Fraser?"

"Depends on how many donuts you have."

Dief growled.

He glanced down. "What, like you wouldn't throw either of us over for a pizza." Dief looked away.

Ray sighed and gave up on intimidating Kowalski. If he was talking to the dog, the mood was broken, and he didn't really think he'd done anything to Fraser. He was just worried and low on sleep and maybe still a little too used to dealing with scum. "Fine. Let's go back to your hovel so you can show me why Fraser's disappeared."

"Hovel my ass. You're just jealous I don't live at home."

***

Outside the apartment building, in Ray's car (which was very much not the Riv he'd left behind when he went to Vegas), Kowalski bounced his leg and didn't reach for the door handle. "So, it happened out on the Quest."

"The Quest," Ray repeated, deadpan.

"Yeah, searching for Franklin's hand."

"Wait, whose what?" He was utterly lost.

"There's a song; it's a whole metaphor thing," Kowalski said, waving his own hands around in lieu of explanation. "Anyway. We're out there, in the middle of godforsaken snow-where, and Fraser is just... happy, like I've never seen him. Me, I'm not so happy, but I'm doing all right. He's teaching me how to set up camp, how to pack the sled and run the dogs, and I'm slowly becoming better than extra luggage, though still not as useful as the dogs."

Kowalski opened the door and half-threw himself out of the car, practically shutting the door on Dief's tail. Ray followed them into the building, and he started talking again on the stairs. "Fraser-- he just. He made a mistake. A small one, except this is Fraser, and -- well, you know his luck. So because of this tiny mistake, I'm scrambling to set up camp -- tent, fire, get him dry and warm, and -- " He cut himself off, shaking his head.

Ray waited, but Kowalski didn't go on. They left the stairwell. "And?"

Kowalski shook his head as he unlocked the door. Then he actually looked at Ray and took in the worried expression. "He's fine," he reassured. "He just scared me." He sighed and opened the door. "Look, I'm telling this badly. So, uh. Fraser?"

"Ray?" Benny's voice was strong and sure, and after Kowalski's wind up, an utter relief. Ray sagged against the door frame. Diefenbaker sidled past. There was a curl of bluish smoke threading through the apartment, and that was weird. He hadn't thought Kowalski smoked, though it wouldn't have surprised him much, but he couldn't imagine Benny putting up with it. Then Benny appeared out of the smoke, and only the door held Ray on his feet. The smoke wasn't that thick -- he'd just appeared out of nowhere.

Benny looked straight at him. "Ray," he said hoarsely, like him seeing Ray was as much of a shock as Ray seeing him materialize out of thin air, then shot a rather pissy look at Kowalski.

Kowalski held his hands up, placating. "I know you didn't want me telling anyone, but Vecchio's been looking for you, and it was either bring him in or let him go on thinking you were buried out in the tundra somewhere." Ray remembered how Pa's ghost sometimes stepped out of nowhere and wondered if that wasn't exactly what had happened. Just because he could see Benny, it didn't mean he was here and breathing.

Benny's hand went to his collar and tugged. Since he seemed to be wearing one of his raggedy cable knit sweaters, Ray figured it didn't really needed loosening. "Oh."

"Yeah, oh. I told you people would miss you."

Ray found his voice. "So, you're a ghost now?"

"What? No!" Kowalski wheeled around. "Jeez, come in and sit down before you fall down." He shoved Ray into the nearest seat, a soft white sofa, and knelt beside him. "Take a breath. Frase, the door?"

Ray heard the door shut behind them, but Benny was still standing before them. He shivered.

"Very helpful, thanks," Kowalski shot sarcastically at Benny.

He glared and looked ready to retort, but Ray interrupted. "You didn't answer the question."

His attention drawn back to Ray, Benny had the grace to look contrite. "My apologies. No, I'm not a ghost. Though it's interesting you jumped to that particular --"

"Saw one once." More than once, because Pa was pushy even in death, but he was not being led astray by the king of sidetracks. He shrugged it aside. "If you're not a ghost, what's going on?"

Kowalski answered for him. "Fraser's a genie."

He sighed. "It's pronounced 'djinn,' not genie. And only half."

"Whatever."

Benny visibly changed his mind about rising to Kowalski's dismissive response and turned back to Ray.

"Okay, so you're --"

"Half-djinn."

"But that doesn't explain --" Ray cut himself off, flashing on time after time when reality reshaped itself to fit Fraser's expectations. The loans repaid to him against all logic, the dumpster dives he emerged from spotless, the honest answers from suspects offered up after little more than a disappointed look. Ray had always known better. Actually, it explained a lot.

"And this is new?" he asked instead. Ray was proud of that; it sounded much better than 'why didn't you tell me' or worse 'why did you tell him first?'

"Of course not. My mother was djinn, though she chose to live and ultimately die as a human. It's part of who I am."

"Then why are you hiding out in Kowalski's apartment?"

Another sharp look was sent Kowalski's way. "I'm not 'hiding out' in Ray's apartment so much as trapped in it." Kowalski flinched, and Fraser added, "Ray wished me into a bottle."

"I did not." Kowalski stood, bristling. "You keep saying that, and I did not do that. Did I say, 'Fraser, my friend, I would like to hold you captive in a bottle?' No, I did not."

"You were fairly nonspecific," Benny agreed. Ray couldn't remember seeing Benny so openly irritated with anyone but Turnbull. He supposed Kowalski got under everyone's skin, one way or another. "That probably accounts for the rather nontraditional canteen."

Kowalski threw his hands up and stalked out of the room.

Ray frowned. "Back up. You told him you're part-genie --" he ignored Benny's put-upon sigh "-- and, what, he made a genie in a bottle joke or ...?"

"Ah, no. Not as such."

"Are you saying he did it on purpose?" Ray couldn't quite make that fit with what he knew of the guy.

"I didn't tell him. Not in so many words."

"Benny, this is exactly the kind of thing you have to say in so many words. It's not something you can imply."

"I know." He sat -- practically dropped -- into the facing armchair. He was angled towards Ray, but head down, resting his elbows on his knees. Ray reached over and briefly clasped his shoulder, solid and the very opposite of ghostly.

"What changed?"

His head came up, concern and maybe hurt on his face, and that wasn't what Ray was asking at all. "I mean, with the genie thing. I know I made wishes around you before without any dramatic side-effects."

Benny's face took on a faraway look, and he brushed his hand against his forehead. It was different from his usual tics of discomfort -- softer, less abrupt. "It was after we'd-- I'd subdued Muldoon, down in that old mine. I saw my mother, just for the briefest moment. She touched me, here." He brushed his hand across his forehead again, a remembered touch. "I felt something change. I thought -- well, at the time, I thought it was closure. A purely psychological phenomenon." He smiled, but without much cheer. "It took Ray accidentally catching me to realize that I was wrong. That my early memories of my mother and her abilities weren't a child's confabulations of fairy story and memory, but literal truth. And that the change I'd felt was my mother undoing whatever she'd used to contain my powers as a child."

He sighed. "It was an accident, and I'm being unfair to him, I know."

"Then why?"

"Because it's so confining!" The words burst free. "I was home, out on the ice, surrounded by the sky, and a few careless words later, I was trapped in that canteen -- which wasn't empty at the time, which just made it more unpleasant. Ray figured out how to let me out, but even now I'm bound to it. I can't travel more than 50 meters from it indoors."

"How far outdoors?" Ray asked, curious about the qualification.

"One hundred and six meters."

Ray's eyebrows went up. "That's very specific."

Benny shrugged.

"Apparently, genie have more rules than Mounties even," Kowalski said, coming back into the room with a pair of pop bottles and a glass of milk that he set before Fraser. "Of course, he won't tell you about them in advance."

"Well, as you say there are quite a few. And some are more... arcane than others."

"O-kay. You want to give me an example here?"

"'You aren't allowed to wish harm on a badger,'" Kowalski said in a voice that really sounded nothing like Benny. As an impressionist, he made a good cop.

"Why would you wish harm on a badger?"

Kowalski looked at him. "Why wouldn't you? Those suckers are mean."

Ray had no response to that, so he drank his pop in silence. It wasn't entirely uncomfortable, though he wondered if Kowalski and Benny would agree.

"So!" Benny said in his utterly false hale and hearty voice. "I suppose you two had better get back to work. Crimes to solve, people to help..."

Ray blinked. Yeah, it was still morning on a workday, and they should get back to it before Welsh asked them to account for their time. He stood up. "Yeah, you're right." He glanced at Kowalski and back at Fraser. "You could come with -- I mean, if Kowalski brought your canteen, right?"

Kowalski and Fraser shared a look. "We talked about that, but..."

"If my 'bottle' falls into another person's hands, he or she could gain control over me."

Kowalski shrugged. "Too risky at work."

Ray nodded and rubbed his temples. "Yeah. I don't want to imagine what Frannie might wish for."

Benny looked perturbed. "I'd been thinking more about the criminals."

"Nah, they just want money. Frannie wants it all."

***

Ray and Kowalski were ensconced in Ray's car, watching Hofstadter's 'completely on the up-and-up, really' place of business before Ray broached the topic of Benny's... predicament.

"So, what exactly did you wish?"

Kowalski sighed and sank down in the passenger seat. "I said I wished I could keep him safe."

"And that was it?"

"Yeah."

"That's stupid." Kowalski glared at him. "Not you -- I mean, this isn't what you meant, is it? 'Keep safe' doesn't the same thing as 'keep.' And I take it you can't just unwish him from the bottle."

Kowalski frowned at the guys unloading wooden crates from the back of a small truck. "No. Against the rules."

"Could I? I mean, if I had the bottle- canteen."

Kowalski shot him a searching look, and it was his turn to look deeply interested in the proper handling of probably-legal cargo. "Don't know. We can try to get a straight answer out of Fraser tonight."

We? "Tonight?"

"Yeah, you're coming over, right?" Kowalski fidgeted in his seat and turned his attention back to the loading dock. "I mean, now that you know, there's no reason not to. I could order a pizza. Unless you don't want to."

"No fish and no fruit," Ray replied before he'd actually decided to accept the invitation.

"No anchovies, pineapple on half."

"Deal." He stared at the now empty truck. "Do you think they're going to load it with boxes clearly labeled 'stolen goods' any time soon?"

"No. Do you want to tell Welsh we ended surveillance early?"

"No."

They sighed.

"So how'd you know McDougall was lying about his sheep?"

"Fraser."

"Thought so."

***

Kowalski's pizza guy met them at the door. Kowalski shoved the box into Ray's arms while he settled the bill and argued with the guy over whether or not pineapple ruined a pizza's artistic integrity. Dief met them just inside the door with a great deal more enthusiasm. Benny took one look at the box in Ray's hands and shook his head in evident despair. "I'm beginning to wonder why you have a kitchen, Ray."

"You don't cook?" Ray asked, setting the box down on the counter.

"Too busy," Kowalski muttered.

Benny's eyebrows drew in, and he looked ready to argue -- for Kowalski's own good, of course. He stepped into the breach. "I could make dinner tomorrow."

"You can cook?"

"Yeah." He shrugged. "It's nothing to write home about, but yeah. I would invite you guys over for dinner at Ma's, but..." He thought of one of the nephews getting a hold of his own personal genie, and shuddered.

Benny and Kowalski looked equally disturbed.

"Plates?" he asked, and Kowalski shook it off.

Over dinner, they discussed their current cases and told stories about past ones. Ray and Benny were passing a convoluted story back and forth between themselves, but Kowalski seemed to be having fun anyway. He had to have heard most of it before -- if not from Benny, then from the case files he'd been given -- but he didn't seem to mind. Ray caught his eye as he was describing 'Ms' Fraser cutting a rug with him at the school dance and got another bright smile, which had him tripping over his words before Benny took back over the telling. His eyes lingered on Ray, and his smile widened, before he turned his attention to Benny earnestly explaining how difficult the wig was to manage.

Ray watched Kowalski.

After dinner had been cleared away, plates washed and dried and put away, there was little left to do to procrastinate. They gathered back in Kowalski's living room again.

"Kowalski says he can't undo his own wish."

Benny nodded. "Even wishes have to have consequences."

"What about somebody else?" He cleared his throat. "Like me, maybe."

Benny opened his mouth to reply, then tipped his head and frowned. "Actually, I'm not sure." A bit of smoke wafted from the shelf on the far wall, and a moment later, Benny was holding a book bigger than the phone book. He started paging back and forth, muttering to himself under his breath.

Ray shot a questioning look at Kowalski.

"There's enough rules that he hasn't got them memorized yet. I think it bothers him."

Benny gave them something resembling a dirty look. Ray settled quietly back on the sofa. The springs were starting to go; it'd be easy to tip sideways into Kowalski. He leaned further back into the cushions.

Benny closed the book with a clap, and it dissipated back into smoke. "I can't say," he said.

Ray frowned. "The rules don't say?"

"Well, I admit there's a bit of ambiguity. But I meant I can't say."

Ray and Kowalski shared a look. Kowalski turned back to Benny and asked, "So should we try it?"

"I can't say," Benny replied.

"Most annoying man in the world," Ray muttered. Kowalski snorted in what sounded like agreement.

"I think we should try," Ray said.

Kowalski hesitated and looked at Benny, whose face gave away nothing. He nodded once, jerkily, then went to the shelf and brought back a canteen. Just an ordinary looking camping item. He stood in front of Ray for a moment, looking at it, then glanced at Ray. Ray waited him out.

"Okay," he said and thrust the metal container into Ray's hands. There was a strange sensation, not painful but uncomfortable, like a sustained static shock, followed by the full, nearly physical weight of Benny's attention. He waited for the feeling to settle down, but it didn't. He shook his head and tried to ignore it. No wonder Kowalski had been so irritable about going home, if this feeling was lying in wait for him.

"Benny?" He'd only thought he'd had his attention before. To be the center of all that focus was intimidating, to say the least. He swallowed and kept going with the wish he'd been turning over since the afternoon. "I wish you could keep yourself safe."

There was a pause, long enough for Ray to worry about the room he'd left for misinterpretation. Then the canteen jerked and crumpled in his hand.

"Did it work?" Kowalski demanded.

He tossed the canteen to Kowalski. "Feels like it."

Kowalski turned the canteen over in his hands and looked at Benny. Benny smiled, broad and happy. "Yes, I believe it did, Ray." He got a far away look for a minute, then refocused on Ray, though it didn't have the same weird weight behind it. "And I don't think it could happen again, though I am, of course, loathe to test it." He turned to Dief. "Are you coming?"

Dief snorted and laid down.

"Alright."

"Whoa, wait, you're leaving?"

Benny's hand went to his ear. "I'm sorry, Ray," he said. And then he vanished.

Kowalski sat down hard on the sofa. After a moment, still staring at the spot Benny had been, he asked, "Do you think he's okay?"

"It's Benny; he'll be fine," Ray replied, hoping he was right. "He just needs time."

Kowalski nodded, looking less than completely convinced. Ray sighed and stood. As he let himself out, he saw Dief climbing onto the sofa to curl beside Kowalski.

***

"Hey, Kowalski, did --" Ray glanced up and realized he was talking to himself. Again. If Kowalski called in sick for a second day, Ray was going to get a reputation.


It wasn't too surprising that Kowalski had taken the day off. He'd obviously been upset when Benny took off like that, without even a real good-bye. Actually, judging by the way they'd left things at the hospital, that was getting to be a habit with Benny. Ray hoped he hadn't picked it up from his own vague and inadequate phone call, but what else could he have done?


He started to ask Kowalski's opinion on it, then snapped his mouth shut again. Right, no Kowalski today.


Weird how quickly he'd gotten used to having an full-time partner again. Working with Benny had been great, but even if looking out for him sometimes felt like a full-time gig, Benny'd had an official job that could draw him away at anytime. So while he'd been used to seeing a ridiculous hat on his dashboard and a flash of red out of the corner of his eye, he'd also been used to carrying on in his absence. Cases had to be closed regardless of whether Benny was ready with the Inuit story for the occasion. Though he did seem to have one for every occasion.


And he'd had no one to inflict them on but Kowalski for weeks. Jeez, Kowalski must have them memorized by now.


Ray rubbed his eyes and slapped the file closed. He was so distracted by Kowalski's absence, he couldn't have even said what the case it was. Kowalski had better come back tomorrow.


Ray glanced at the clock. Screw it; he wasn't getting anything done anyway, and if he left now, he might beat the after five rush on the grocery store. He grabbed his jacket and headed for the door.


***

Ray shifted the bag of groceries to the other arm and knocked again. "I'm not leaving, so you might as well answer," he muttered.

"Vecchio?"

He spun around. Kowalski had just come out of the stairs behind him. Dief sat down beside him, mouth open and tongue lolling. "I brought dinner," he said holding out the bag like it was Exhibit A.

Kowalski stared at him like he was completely insane for a moment. Then he smiled."Guess you better come in."

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20 Comments

Heeee! I LOVE IT!

OMG, the scene in the interrogation room, so fab! And this:

Then he leaned back in his chair and shouted around Ray, "Frannie, tell your brother I'm not a serial killer!"

"They say it's always the quiet ones," she replied absently, attention on her computer. Then she looked over and gave Kowalski a deliberate once over. "So he's probably okay."

*dies* Perfection.

How much do I love that Dief chose to stay with RayK? Granted, there's a much higher probability of pizza and danish in Chicago, but still.

*smooshes him*

Thank you, Seekrit Santa author! *massive hug*

Yay, I'm so glad you liked it! I'd hoped from what I saw in your journal that you would be alright with the wackier/more supernatural sort of AU. I had far too much fun writing the specific lines/scenes you pointed out -- I'm glad you liked them!

I'm sure Dief's not staying in Chicago JUST for the food. Though it's certainly a consideration.

Anonymous said:

Kowalski turned back around to face him. Whatever expression was left in its wake made Kowalski pause, just enough for Frannie to tug free. She smacked Kowalski lightly on the arm.

"Some of us are working here," she informed him pertly.

Kowalski was still looking at Ray. Ray looked away first.
Mmmm, delicious tension growing there :)

Direct. He could do direct.
Or he could detect.

Heee!

Fraser as a Genie (with a big huge book of rules that he hasn't memorised yet! And it annoys him! Love!) is a lot of fun, and it works in nicely with the canon Mountie Magic that Ray suddenly finds explicable.

Benny gave them something resembling a dirty look. Ray settled quietly back on the sofa. The springs were starting to go; it'd be easy to tip sideways into Kowalski. He leaned further back into the cushions.
Heee, and then, awwww.

Also, the names of the incidental characters are pleasingly canon-esque in their random references, and it's a great title, too :) This was lots of fun!

Thank you! Fraser as a secret genie is not as crazy-crackish a concept as it would be in most fandoms, I feel.

And I'm glad you enjoyed the incidental names -- I had fun coming up with them.

Gloriana said:

The idea of the story was so charming - but the thing that got me again and again were Frannie's lines, which wee just perfect :) :) The offhand way in which she fields the mortars lobbed from the two Rays' poking at each other, and cuts them down to size, is just right :) :)

I loved your description of what having Fraser as a genie purely and intensely concentrating on his giver might feel like; and the get-out phrase was perfect, too - restoring his sense of self to himself. I liked the hesitancy with which Kowalski hands the canteen over: it's the moment when he really does have to decide that he trusts Vecchio completely, and of course he does.

I like that you have Vecchio as a dedicated cop, here. We don't see as much of that as we should for a man who went undercover with the mob at such great personal cost. And though I haven't quoted bits, I thought your voices were perfect.

Hello, my secret santa of AWESOME! I'm glad you enjoyed my story, too.

Thanks for your kind words about the moment Kowalski hands over the canteen -- it's definitely the turning point of the story, and I'm glad it worked.

Vecchio as dedicated cop goes slightly counter to the image he projects early on in the series, which may be why we don't see it as much in fic as he probably deserves. Because, yeah, anyone who goes to undercover-in-Vegas lengths? Not exactly a slacker.

Thank you!

Anonymous said:

Awesome job. Warm and charming and funny. Plus the character's voices were so human (and Genie), and their interactions so rich.

"Maybe you should go do that," Kowalski interrupted. Ray turned slightly so he could see him without turning his back on Escher. "Make some calls, talk to Bach. We'll wait, right?" He smiled at Escher -- or rather, showed his teeth at him.

Ray looked at Escher who looked a touch nervous. "Yeah, maybe," he said, filling the words with reluctance. He tipped his head at the recorder sitting on the table. "You're going to leave the tape running, right?"

Kowalski's smile actually got scarier. "Of course."

Ray stared at him for a moment, then shrugged and turned back to Escher. "Okay, I'm going to makes some calls." He stood up, chair scraping against the linoleum. "You want anything when I get back? Water, coffee?"

"Ice," Kowalski suggested.

Genius. Heeeee!!

Thanks! Kowalski's bad cop gets results!

Of COURSE Fraser is half-djinn, that explains SO MUCH!

I love when whimsical ideas are told in matter-of-fact ways and you nailed that here. Bravo!

(catwalksalone)

Thank you! Fraser is obviously part-magical. I mean, seriously. *g*

snoopypez said:

This is WONDERFUL, and I totally want more. Does Fraser visit ever again now that he's free? How do the Rays get together? It's so tension-y and gradual that it could take months! :D

Love love love.

'I want more' is probably the best compliment out there. At the very least, some same universe ficlets will probably happen. Thank you!

Hee! I enjoyed this, only wish it were longer. *g*

*g* That is simply the best compliment. Thank you!

I liked the final irony of Ifreet making Fraser a half-djinn. *g*

So many hysterically funny moments that I loved, like this:

"'You aren't allowed to wish harm on a badger,'" Kowalski said in a voice that really sounded nothing like Benny. As an impressionist, he made a good cop.

"Why would you wish harm on a badger?"

Kowalski looked at him. "Why wouldn't you? Those suckers are mean."

OR

The next morning, before they'd even said hello, Kowalski announced, "We need to talk to McDonald again."

McDonald? 'Again' implied they'd talked to him already, so Ray racked his brain for any McDonald they'd talked to once. "You mean McDougall?"

"Yeah, whatever, the farmer in the Geertz case. We got to talk to him"

"Okay, why?"

"It's the wrong season for sheep shearing."

Lovely job, Ifreet! *salutes you*

I did sort-of wonder if I were going to get busted over the djinn/ifreet connection. I was relieved when you guessed this story was Luci's!

I'm very glad you found so much of it funny. I certainly had fun writing it! The badger rule came as a suggestion by sisterofdream while brainstorming weird and random rules -- it was too good not to use!

Thank you!

I want more, too! *g* This was fabulous, and chock-full of great moments that made me snigger and chuckle and grin.

Excellent, thank you!

china Author Profile Page said:

Oh, fantastic concept! Genie Fraser is awesomely cranky. This is so cool! :-D

Thanks! The crankiness was fun to write.

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