Prompter: roguemariel | Prompt
Series: due South
Character/Pairing: Ray K / Fraser
Word Count: 2, 343
Synopsis: A new country, a new language.
When Ray first moved north to open up a bakery in Inuvik, he figured out pretty quickly that he’d better learn the local lingo. Being the smart guy he was, he picked up on the survival phrases like “thank you kindly” and “sorry” and “after you, ma’am” right away. The hard part, really, was distinguishing between Canadianisms and Fraserisms, which, it turns out, were not the same things at all.
It didn’t help that his introduction to both concepts came from the same person, his first friend in the Territories.
Ray had been new to town, and doing what all retired-cop-turned-expat-bakery-owners did, which was of course snacking on his own doughnuts while glaring any suspicious-looking customers (i.e. everyone) away from the entrance. This was when Fraser walked in, decked out in full uniform.
And Ray might have freaked out a little.
He was pretty sure he’d filled out all his visa paperwork correctly, but there had been some questions that he might have fudged a little, and there was that sweat-and-scream nightmare two weeks ago where he dreamed he’d filled in the wrong postal code on the third-to-last form...
And so, in response to the surprise Mounty sighting, Ray had turned to pay aggressive attention to his sole customer, a youngish kid who was frowning at the display in great concentration. “Hey,” Ray said, flashing a smile that was hopefully closer to friendly than to Shark Attack. “Do you need any help with anything?”
The kid turned big eyes up to Ray. “Do you have doughnuts?”
“Sure thing,” Ray answered, affecting cheerfulness as he waved a hand over the doughnut display resting approximately ten centimetres from the kid’s nose. “Anything in particular?”
“Because we have a Tim Hortons1 now,” the kid continued, smoothly discarding any goodwill Ray might have felt toward him in gratitude for being a Mounty distraction.
“Great,” said Ray flatly.
“We’ve actually had it for forever.”2
“They have like a million different kinds, and--”
“Shouldn’t you be in school?” Ray interrupted, a little ashamed to be falling back on the hated mantra from his childhood, but desperate times and all that.
“Today’s a holiday, duh. Why do you talk all funny like that?”
Ray twitched. As soon as he figured out all those weird Canadian phrases, he was going to drop the Chicago accent. Somehow. “I’m American. This is how people talk where I come from.”
That caught the kid’s attention. “American? Wow! Do you have a gun?”
Ray rolled his eyes. “Not all Americans have guns,” he said loftily, even though, okay, he totally did.
The Mounty finally spoke up. “Natar, it’s not polite to monopolise this gentleman’s time if you don’t intend to make any purchases.”
“Awww, but Fraser,” the kid whined, but he turned and dragged his feet toward the bakery exit. When he reached the door, he suddenly perked up. “Hey, Fraser--you have a gun, right? Ca--may I see?”
The Mounty shot an amused glance in Ray’s direction. “Not all members of the RCMP carry firearms,” the Mounty informed the kid as he shooed him out the door. Ray glanced down at the gun--clearly visible in its holster at the Mounty’s waist--and had to bite back a grin.
“What can I help you with, officer?” Ray asked, belatedly attempting to be charming. “If you’re interested in doughnuts, we can always call Tim Hortons for a delivery.”
The smile that earned him was brilliant and stomach-twisting. “I will certainly keep that in mind, although it had been our intention to patronise Inuvik’s newest small business.”
Ray blinked. “Our?” he asked, glancing around uncertainly.
A sharp bark drew his attention downward. And held it. Ray felt his jaw drop open.
“Forgive me for the lack of introduction. I am Constable Benton Fraser, and my lupine companion is Diefenbaker.”
“Uh huh,” Ray managed. “Why is he wearing that, uh…”
“Diefenbaker’s position among the local pack hierarchy is something akin to royalty. During our visit to town today, he was obliged to oversee the formation of two inter-pack treaties, mediate four accusations of territory violation, and, most fortuitously, preside over a marriage.”
When Ray’s blank stare remained, Fraser continued, “The ceremonial garb is not required, but it is highly encouraged.”
Ray shook himself. “Yeah,” he said dazedly. “I get that. Uh, congratulations on a successful day?” He gave a sloppy salute to Diefenbaker, who accepted the recognition with a gracious yip.
“Thank you,” Fraser returned solemnly. “If you wouldn’t mind, we’d like a half-dozen box.”
Fraser, Ray discovered that day, was not the kind of cop who’d throw him in whatever Inuvik used as a jail for failing to write his postal code correctly on one form out of a dozen. He was the kind of cop who’d show up with a stack of amendment forms to correct the error, and who’d then stick around to help out with the paperwork.
At that point, Ray wasn’t actually sure which was worse.
It didn’t take Ray long to realise that Fraser was really weird. Not just the seriously-chose-to-live-on-the-Arctic-Oc
“I mean,” Ray found himself telling his royal highness Diefenbaker over doughnuts one morning, “whose first thought when they find someone dumping explosives into ponds or whatever is, ‘Oh no! They’re fishing over the limit!’ You need to be a really special kind of weird to see it that way, you know what I mean?”
Diefenbaker yipped sharply.
“Yeah, yeah--I know the guy technically was fishing over the limit. It’s perspective, Dief, that’s what I’m talking about. Like glasses. Fraser, when he looks at the world, he’s using a different pair of glasses from the rest of us, so he sees everything differently, right?”
Diefenbaker tilted his head to one side quizzically.
“Oh, for--yes, I know Fraser doesn’t wear glasses. It was a metaphor, Dief, don’t you have those in Canada?”
That question, as it turned out, was a terrible mistake.
“‘The Spell of the Yukon’”? Fraser asked the next time he stopped by. “A lovely poem, certainly. I didn’t realise you enjoyed the writings of Robert Service, Ray.”
“Dief recommended it,” Ray replied sourly, shooting a glare down at the smug wolf. “I’m making my way through the complete works.”
“Oh? What poems have been your favourite so far?”
Ray hesitated for a moment, imagining an afternoon sitting down with Fraser--and Diefenbaker--reading and discussing poetry about Canada’s far north. Back when he’d been a cop in Chicago, the idea would have been laughable, but now… Now, he couldn’t imagine anything he’d rather do.
“Lemme serve up some coffee and doughnuts,” Ray said, ducking under the counter for a tray. “And then I’ll read them to you. How’s that sound?”
Fraser smiled at him, a bright smile that was worth all the weirdness in the world. “It sounds wonderful, Ray.”
Ray had made a few other friends in Inuvik, but none he was super close to. Still, with Fraser as a companion, it was impossible to feel lonely, especially if they were going to be living together.
“You guys sure about this?” Ray asked Diefenbaker as he set down the final box in the tiny living room of his flat. “It’s not too late to back out, you know.”
Diefenbaker gave him an unimpressed look as he delicately set a large, leafy ornament onto the coffee table and nudged it with his snout into the centre.
Ray eyed the ornament that Diefenbaker had carried so carefully up to the apartment and said nothing. He wasn’t sure if that thing was a Canadianism or a Fraserism--or even a Diefism--but it seemed important, anyway, so he’d deal. Even if it was leaking sap all over the place.
“Come on, Dief, let’s get some celebratory doughnuts. At this point, I’m not sure why I even make anything else.”
When Fraser arrived at the apartment several hours later, Ray and Diefenbaker had already settled down to watch hockey. The reception through the antennae meant that the game frequently disappeared behind a wall of static, leaving Ray and Diefenbaker to place bets on what was happening and then argue over who’d won them. Ray couldn’t remember ever having so much fun on an evening in back in Chicago.
“Hey, Fraze,” Ray said, not looking away from the television set, where the uniforms of the Jets were just barely visible under the flickering static. “We saved you some pizza.”
When Fraser didn’t immediately reply, Ray forced his eyes away from the game and squinted up at Fraser. “Hey,” he said quietly. “Everything okay?”
Fraser was staring at Diefenbaker’s coffee table ornament, expression stunned. After a moment, he seemed to shake himself, and he replied, “Yes, of course. I admit that I was unaware that you--that is, that we--that is--yes. Yes. Everything is fine.”
Ray squinted at Fraser’s rapidly flushing face. “...Great. Pizza?”
“Yes, thank you,” Fraser replied, seeming relieved. He served himself some pizza and then sat stiffly on the couch next to Ray, bleeding anxiety.
“Fraser?” Ray asked again.
Fraser’s fingers twitched along the edges of his plate. “Don’t you think--that is, under the circumstances, wouldn’t it be more appropriate for you to call me by my given name?”
Diefenbaker was still against Ray’s leg. Something about the atmosphere made the conversation seem more important than their words implied.
“...Yeah, okay,” Ray agreed carefully. “Benton?”
Fraser hesitated. “Ben,” he said finally.
“Okay, Ben. Sure you’re alright?”
Fraser looked at him for a long time. “Yes.” And then he smiled brightly. “Yes, I’m sure. Who’s winning the game?”
Ray scoffed and waved his hand irritably at the flickering TV. “Who even knows?”
Down at their feet, Diefenbaker relaxed.
Ray had always been a physical, touchy-feely kind of guy, but it wasn’t until recently that Fraser began to touch him back in soft, brushing gestures that left Ray feeling as staticky as his TV. It was unexpected, but welcome, and Ray didn’t really think anything of it until he was helping a neighbour fix some faulty wiring and caught sight of a familiar leafy ornament, this one resting on top of a small bookshelf.
“Hey,” said Ray. “What’s that?”
His neighbour cast a short glance in the direction of the bookshelf and grinned. “For the wedding, right?”
Ray stared at him blankly. He knew his neighbour had just gotten married, had attended their small ceremony, but he didn’t really get how that connected to a twisted, sap-gushing monstrosity. “So… it was a… present?” he tried.
His neighbour frowned thoughtfully. “Present? I guess, sort of. That head wolf of yours--”
“His royal highness, King Diefenbaker?” Ray interrupted wryly.
“Yeah, him,” his neighbour grinned. “He and all the packs like to give these to show approval of all their humans’ marriages.”
Ray’s jaw worked soundlessly for a moment. Not a Canadianism or Fraserism after all, he thought. A Diefism. Or maybe some kind of infectious fever. “Oh,” he managed eventually.
“Why?” His neighbour straightened abruptly and fixed Ray with a serious look. “Don’t you and Fraser have one?”
“Uh,” said Ray. “Yeah, we do.”
His neighbour relaxed, and nodded. “It’s nice of them, anyway.”
“Yeah,” said Ray. “Nice.”
“Hey,” Ray hissed. “Diefenbaker!”
Diefenbaker, once again decked out in his royal regalia, yipped an apology to his lupine conversants and padded over to Ray, jumping up to jab his snout painfully into Ray’s stomach in greeting.
Ray knelt down and placed his hands on Diefenbaker’s shoulders. “Dief,” he said, breaking convention to stare into Diefenbaker’s eyes. “I’ve got a question, and I need you to answer me honestly, okay?”
Diefenbaker tilted his head slightly in acquiescence.
“Are Ben and I married? Is that a thing?”
Diefenbaker huffed and pulled away. His expression as he padded back to his compatriots was filled with disdain.
“Yeah, okay,” Ray muttered to himself. “I guess the answer to that is pretty obvious.”
“So, we’re married,” Ray did not say that evening as he stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Fraser in the small kitchen, making dinner together.
“You know how we’re married?” Ray did not ask the next morning when a smiling Fraser brought him his coffee, smarties already stirred in.
“Marriage sure is great,” Ray did not comment as he and Fraser paused during their walk with Diefenbaker to watch the sun set over the Arctic Ocean.
How do you even bring this kind of thing up?
“I’m sorry they’re so late,” Fraser said, handing Ray a stack of forms one evening before dinner.
“I knew it!” Ray scowled at the papers in his hands. “Postal codes. Why do they have to be so hard to remember?”
“I’m afraid I can’t say, Ray,” Fraser responded mildly. “You’ll be pleased to know, however, that I have already filled out all of our domicile information.”
“Excellent,” Ray breathed, flipping through the forms. “What took so long, anyway?”
“There were some slight complications when I attempted to make some informal enquires about finding a License Issuer through the RCMP. My father, who as you know has been a respected member of the Mounted Police since he and his partner, Buck Frobisher--”
“Yeah, yeah, Ben, this caribou story I already know.”
“Yes, well, I’m afraid that my father was not pleased to have not been invited to the ceremony--”
Belatedly, Ray’s eyes settled on the papers’ heading:
“And remained unassuaged even after I explained that we had not, in fact, held a ceremony--”
Of course, Ray thought, affection and amusement beginning to seep in through his shock. Of course Fraser would bring up a topic like this via paperwork. That was the first Fraserism he’d ever learned.
“And has, as such, insisted that we hold a reception to which he is invited.” Fraser looked rueful. “I’m afraid that he even has a date in mind. And a venue.”
Ray shrugged, biting back a smile. “Got a pen?”
1 This is a lie.
2 Such a lie. Yellowknife, the nearest Tim Hortons locale to Inuvik, was still dreaming of its future Tim Hortons in 2012.
3 Apparently, marriage takes effort.