Ambassadoral Status - Part 2
by Diefs Girl
Disclaimer: I don't own 'em, I just play with 'em and hand 'em back, none the worse for wear.
Author's Notes: For Ivy, who asked: I don't actually know how long this one is going to be.
I love those old serialized adventures of the 40's -Flash Gordon and the like- where you got a new adventure every month that was basically self-contained but had an overarching continuity?
I think I might write this one like that, as there's no overall plot to this AT ALL, it's basically just an extended exercise in character development; with Kat and Dief serving as a foil to explore the developing relationship (and denial thereof) between Ray and Fraser.
Story Notes: Set between 'Hunting Season' and 'Call of the Wild'; this is a Diefenbaker story, all the way!
SequelTo: Ambassadoral Status - Part 1
The next day...
"Fraser, are you tellin' me the wolf's got a date tonight? With a girl?" Ray gaped at his best friend. "You are shitting me!"
"Not at all, Ray. Diefenbaker does indeed have a date tonight, with a woman. A very attractive, very charming, very... intriguing woman."
Ray looked, if possible, even more flabbergasted. "Shit, Fraser, and you noticed she was pretty?" His expression did a 180 in a heartbeat. "Hey, are you sick, buddy? Lemme feel your forehead." He leaned across the desk and put a hand on Fraser's brow.
Knowing Ray was only motivated by concern, Fraser sighed internally and waited patiently.
"Well, ya don't feel feverish," Ray admitted grudgingly.
"So who is she?" Huey plunked his hip down on the corner of Ray's desk and checked Dief over. "You look nice, Dief, the trip to the groomer was a good call. Gotta look your best for a first date." He eyed the bundle of long-stemmed red-edged yellow roses wrapped in florist's paper on Ray's desk. "Those for her? Smart not to go with plain red ones. Red on the first date's too pushy."
"That's what Diefenbaker thought," Fraser told Huey, tugging on his ear thoughtfully. "He's a little anxious, frankly. He's quite taken with the Tehari ambassador and this is the first time he's ever been asked out."
The next desk over, Dewey choked on his coffee. "The wolf's got a date with the Tehari ambassador? No joke?"
"Oh, Diefenbaker's quite serious about Ambassador Cutter, Detective," Fraser assured him. "He finds her absolutely fascinating."
"First date, huh?" Lieutenant Welsh stopped on his way to the break room and stared down at Dief. "I don't need to tell you I expect all my officers to be gentlemen, and that includes the K-9 officers, even if it's unofficial," he said severely.
Dief yipped and perked his ears forward.
"Diefenbaker assures you he will be a perfect gentleman, Leftenant," Fraser told him.
Welsh looked mollified. "Yeah, well, you Canadians are all polite to a fault... just remember, it's awright to kiss her goodnight on the first date but only on the cheek."
"And remember to ask her out for a second date," Dewey put in. "You don't have to set a time but you gotta tell her you want to see her again, soon. Since she asked you out the first time, you gotta to ask her out the second time, otherwise you look like a wuss."
Dief whined and put his paws over his nose.
"Really, he had no idea human courtship was so complicated," Fraser said. "But thank you for the advice, gentlemen."
"Hey!" Frannie stuck her head in the bullpen door. "There's some blond in a blue and silver rocket car outside asking for the wolf. What's up?"
Diefenbaker yelped, snatched the bouquet up and bolted. Huey, Dewey, Welsh, Ray and Fraser all scrambled to follow as Diefenbaker shouldered the front door open and trotted down the steps.
Ambassador Cutter was leaning on the fender of a blue and silver convertible the like of which Fraser had never seen. It belonged in a science fiction movie set in the 25th century. Her outfit matched the car, a sleek, backless blue minidress with silver trim and high-heeled blue sandals with needle-thin spikes and tiny silver buckles. Around her neck glittered a set of blue diamonds set in platinum Fraser was quite sure equaled the gross national product of several small countries.
Dewey let out an appreciative wolf whistle and for once even Welsh nodded in agreement.
"The wolf sure nabbed himself a hottie," Huey said under his breath.
Frannie followed them out and was eyeing the Ambassador's outfit with undisguised greed. "Wish I could afford a Versace original and Manolo Blahnik shoes," she said enviously.
Ray, however, was staring with his eyes bugging out at the car she was leaning against. "Hot shit! That's a Maserati MC12 Stradale! Fucking-A, Dief, ya gotta introduce me..." and he pelted down the stairs after the wolf.
Fraser tried not to flinch at the overwhelming testosterone levels that suddenly emerged and descended the stairs to pay his respects to the Ambassador.
Diefenbaker trotted up to Katrina and wagging his tail, offered her the bouquet of roses.
"For me? Thank you, Dief. You're sweet." She took the roses, knelt down and put an arm around the wolf's neck as Diefenbaker licked her cheek shyly, ruffling the fur behind his ears as they rubbed noses.
"It's a pleasure to see you again, Ambassador," Fraser offered politely, coming to a stop beside the convertible.
She raised an eyebrow as she stood up and Fraser ran a finger over his eyebrow, looked slightly embarrassed and corrected himself. "Katrina."
"You too, Constable." She seemed satisfied the formalities had been dispensed with and smiled in much friendlier fashion at Fraser. "You'll be pleased to hear your exchange student program has been approved, Ben," she informed him with a saucy wink, "and one of the Tehari royal family has offered to financially underwrite the program for the first five years as a show of good faith on our part. Send along your first list of names and dates, and we'll get this thing up and running."
Startled but very pleased, Fraser stammered out a thank-you.
Katrina shrugged lightly. "It was nothing, we were glad to do it." She turned her attention to Ray, who was circling her convertible, running covetous fingers over the fenders and fairings, leaning down to peek into the wheel wells, utterly entranced. "You like?"
Ray dragged his attention away from the car and took his first good look at the Ambassador, and the star-struck expression on his face only deepened.
"Heck, yeah! She's a beaut!" Ray recalled his manners with a jerk and shot a silently appealing stare at Fraser.
He obliged. "Detective First Grade Raymond Vecchio, Chicago Police Department, meet Ambassador Katrina Cutter of the Tehari Islands."
Katrina smiled in delight and held out a friendly hand. "You're Ben and Dief's partner! Nice to meet you, Detective."
Ray accepted her hand and shook it, but forgot to let go as his gaze was drawn inexorably back to her car. "Call me Ray," he said. "I didn't think these babies were street-legal in Chicago."
She chuckled. "It's Kat, Ray. She's not street-legal anywhere in the states. I had to slip her in as one of the official Embassy diplomatic vehicles just to get plates. 'Course since it's got diplomatic plates I can't get a speeding ticket, and you have no idea what self-control it requires not to just open her up on the highway."
Ray groaned in shared misery. "What'll she do flat-out? Two hundred?"
Katrina grinned. "She's rated for two-oh-five, but I've clocked her at two-twenty-five on a track and she wasn't full-out."
Ray moaned and his fingers tightened on Katrina's hand. "I've got a souped-up '67 GTO an' she'll do one sixty-five easy, but this baby..."
"A '67?" Katrina whistled. "Vintage! I'd love to see her."
Ray hyped up even higher and true to form, took a chance and laid himself out to get shot down. "Look, uh, they do street racing over at one of the local tracks outside town on Saturday nights... ya can race your own car if ya sign an insurance waiver. You wanna go sometime? We can take the cars over an' race 'em head to head. You'll kick my ass in this baby but it'll be cool."
To Ray's shock, Katrina blushed and shot him a sidelong grin. "That'd be great, Ray. Tell you what, I'll let you race mine if you let me race yours."
Ray's jaw dropped, whether because she agreed to go out with him or because she offered to let him drive the Maserati, Fraser couldn't tell.
Ray shut his mouth with a snap and stammered out, "Sure! Greatness!"
Diefenbaker yipped and nudged Katrina's leg. She looked down at him and transferred her gaze to Fraser questioningly.
"He is reminding you the play starts in half an hour," Fraser translated politely.
"Oops, gotta go." Katrina smiled at Ray. "I need my hand back now, Ray."
Ray started and released her hand. "Oh, right. Sorry."
"Where would you like me to drop Diefenbaker off, Ben?"
Fraser pulled his attention back to Katrina's face, fighting not to be overwhelmed by the remarkably vivid memory of her fingers tasted in his mouth, and how much he would like to perform the same sampling on Ray's fingers right now, and see if they tasted of both flavors.
"The Canadian Consulate will be fine."
"Naw, have her come by my place, Frase." Ray interrupted. "We're supposed ta check out those leads on th' Santa Rosa case first thing in th' morning. You and th' wolf ken crash with me tonight."
"As you wish, Ray."
Fraser wrote out a short set of directions to Ray's apartment in his notebook and tearing off the sheet, handed it to Katrina. Her brow furrowed slightly as she glanced over the directions but she nodded before tucking the sheet carefully into a tiny compartment in the side of her bucket seat.
"Yeah, I can find it no problem. But don't wait up!" She flashed a wicked grin at Fraser as Ray opened the driver's side door and Dief jumped into the passenger seat with a quick bound.
Dief rumbled at Fraser and the Mountie blushed and ran a finger around inside his collar.
"I hope you both have a pleasant evening, Diefenbaker, Katrina."
Katrina slid into the low-slung driver's seat with the ease of long practice, Ray covertly admiring the view of her legs as he shut the car door.
"Thanks, Ray. Catch ya later." The Maserati's engine purred as it shot away from the curb, precisely .5 miles per hour slower than the posted speed limit, Fraser noticed. At least in front of a police station...
"What play were they goin' to see?"
"Shakespeare's 'As You Like It', Ray. I'm sure Diefenbaker will tell us all about it when he gets home. Or perhaps 'gloat' would be a better term."
"Jeez, at least one of us is dating, Frase. It's pretty sad the wolf's doing better than both of us put together in that department but there ya go."
"Not so, Ray, you just made a date with Ambassador Cutter. I admit inviting her to drag the race would never have occurred to me."
"Drag race, Fraser, drag race. Not drag the race." Ray was jazzed, doing a quick complicated dance step up the precinct stairs. "Yeah, she did say yes, didn't she? And she's gonna let me drive the Maz."
"She did, Ray. Ray. Ray. Ray!"
Ray stopped dancing and glared at him. "What, Fraser?"
"We're done for the day, Ray."
"I gotta get my coat, I'll meet ya at the car, Frase. Where ya wanna go fer dinner? It's yer turn ta pick."
"There's a new Thai establishment on Sherman Street I've been meaning to visit, Ray."
"Yeah, Thai's good..."
* * *
Katrina reached over and ruffled Dief's ears as she drove. He responded by lying down across the seats and putting his head in her lap, gazing soulfully up. Katrina's heart melted at the look in those enchanting golden eyes. She stroked the soft fur of his muzzle, luxuriating in the sense of wildness the massive wolf gave off.
"You have the most beautiful eyes, Diefenbaker," she murmured. "I feel better just looking into them... like I can see and feel and smell your home, all sunny meadows and dry sunshine this time of the year. When the hunting is easy because the game is fat and lazy... and the stars are low and bright..."
Katrina sighed and caressed the wolf's brow ridges with a loving hand. "You're lucky, you know, dear one. At least you can look up and recognize the stars here... when I look into the night sky there's not a star I recognize. No Southern Cross, no Little Twins, no Fishhook of Maui," her voice was so sad and lonely Dief whined in shared sorrow. "Even the moon is strange... so far away, and so cold. Where I come from, the moon's so low in the sky you can practically anchor your outrigger on it when you fish the coral reefs at night. It fills up half the sky." Dief rumbled reassuringly and nuzzled her hand. "Yeah... never thought I'd meet someone as far from home as I am in this dreary gray hell. Strangers in a strange land, that's us..."
When they reached the park, Katrina swung the picnic basket out of the trunk and wrinkled up her nose at Dief as his ears perked forward and he sniffed the basket pointedly.
"Wait'll you see I brought for us, Dief. You'll be in heaven." She teased him the whole way into the open-air auditorium with a list of the goodies inside, enjoying the wolf's varying responses to the things she named.
Katrina strolled down to the Embassy's reserved box in the lower balcony level, chatting with the female usher who was as charmed by Dief as she was, and noted with pleasure the caterers filling in for the as yet un-arrived embassy staff did an excellent job setting up. Woven wicker couches and chairs bright with stuffed cushions were arranged around a comfortable low glass and wicker table. Vases of flowers on fluted columns stood in the corners, softening the overwhelming smell of humanity with floral fragrance.
Katrina set the picnic basket down on the table and sank into the soft couch with a contented sigh, patting the cushions next to her. Dief didn't need to be asked twice and jumped right up, sitting up alertly as she spread out a linen cloth on the table and started unpacking the picnic basket. She opened the shrimp cocktail first and fed Dief a fat shrimp before helping herself to one. Dief snapped it down and licked her fingers appreciatively.
"Flirt," she murmured affectionately and laid out the rest of the picnic to Dief's evident interest. "A nice Sangria for me -I'm assuming you don't drink, correct me if I'm wrong- would you like water... or milk...?" Taking the yip at milk as a yes, she poured a crystal bowlful and arranged it on a napkin within easy reach of Dief where he lounged on the couch. He sampled a few licks, rumbled approval and nosed her cheek gently. She giggled.
"Are you kidding? This is the nicest date I've had in years. What would you like to try next? We have baked round of Brie with chutney, shrimp cocktail, fresh fruit cocktail with cinnamon yogurt sauce, herring in dill sour cream, a really excellent Havarti with rye crackers, French bread with pesto, sliced pepperoni and summer sausage..."
The wolf's enthusiastic reaction at the summer sausage decided that, and with a delighted sigh girl and wolf cuddled together on the couch as the orchestra struck up the opening bars of the introduction.
"You know 'As You Like It' is one of my favorite Shakespearean comedies," Katrina murmured, caressing the wolf's ears. "I hear the Chicago Theater's versions are excellent when it comes to the Bard."
Dief rumbled noncommittally and snuggled closer, far more interested in his companion than the play...
* * *
Ray slurped down a mouthful of pad thai noodles and leaned his elbows on the table, every line of his posture conveying moody introspection.
"So whadda ya think a' Dief's date?"
Fraser wound a string of noodles onto his chopsticks and placed them tidily in his mouth.
"In what respect, Ray?"
Ray kicked him irritably under the table, not hard, but sharp enough to let Fraser know Ray was in no mood for his evasions. "Jeez, Fraser. Why ya gotta make me dig every real emotion and thought outta ya? That's not buddies, we've been partners a year now. Don't ya trust me?"
Fraser nearly choked. Oh dear, this was one of those conversations. They got more difficult every time. He and Ray were so habitually in tune with each other -a duet, as he partner characterized it- that Ray could invariably sense when Fraser was avoiding his questions.
"I'm sorry, Ray," he said humbly, knowing a sincere apology was one of the few things that would derail Ray when he got his 'back up', another disturbingly apt Ray-ism. His partner often reminded him of an angry cat at times like this, all lean muscle, lightening fast razor sharp claws and angry spitting. Even his blond spikes seemed to bristle more when Ray was irritated.
Fraser set his chopsticks down and selected a garlic shrimp from the dish he and Ray were sharing.
"I suppose I find Diefenbaker dating... a trifle disconcerting," Fraser admitted, biting the meat off the tail end neatly. "Considering the object of his interest is human, as opposed to canine. At least in this instance I suppose there's no need to worry about progeny."
Ray nearly choked in turn. "Say what?"
A glint twinkled for just an instant behind Fraser's bland Mountie expression and Ray realized he'd been baited and fallen for it hook, line and sinker.
Not that like that was news to him, Ray reflected, half irritated and half amused, he'd long ago fallen for everything about Benton Fraser. Irritated because he'd fallen for it and yet... delighted -hell, fucking thrilled- Fraser let his guard down enough to smart off with him. Fraser didn't do it often, and Ray had never seen him do it with anyone but him. Which gave him another little self-satisfied thrill. In yer eye, Vecchio, Ray Kowalski thought smugly. Fraser mighta been a statue with you but he's a person with me.
"The first time Diefenbaker started dating here in Chicago," Fraser explained, "he was not courteous enough to inform me of his romantic intentions, and the result was three puppies. All of whom required puppy shots, food expenses and licensing fees, plus the location of suitable homes and families for adoption."
Fraser forbore mentioning he'd almost killed his dearest friend over the course of that trying interlude out of a misplaced notion Dief was returning to the wild. Ray Vecchio had stood by while he nearly shot his best friend, troubled but not interfering. Ray Kowalski would have ripped the rifle from his hand, jabbed Fraser in the jaw with the butt and yelled at the top of his lungs about sticking by your friends even in adversity.
Well, perhaps he would have used a term rather than 'adversity'- Ray's vocabulary got blunter the angrier he was, although occasionally he would craft paragraphs of such grammatical and linguistic beauty Fraser was merely glad his tunic hid a multitude of sins. Ray Kowalski's loyalty was difficult to earn but unshakable once bestowed; and he had never failed to understand Diefenbaker was so much more than an ordinary animal. Sadly, the first Ray Vecchio never truly understood that at all.
But across the table Ray was still goggling at the thought of Dief being a father. "Jeez, Frase! And you paid for all this?"
Fraser tugged his ear thoughtfully. "In point of fact, I insisted Diefenbaker pay for it out of his own savings account. I thought having to pay for their puppy expenses and Maggie's maternity care at the veterinarian's would teach him a lesson about parental responsibility."
Ray blinked and scratched at his stubble thoughtfully. "Did it?"
Fraser pursed his lips thoughtfully. "His relationships have, since then, been confined to females who are, in your bizarre American parlance, fixed, which is something of a misnomer as there is intrinsically nothing wrong with a fertile animal..."
"Ya mean like Ante?" Ray interrupted.
Ray flopped back in the booth and regarded his partner thoughtfully. "Well, I ken see why yer a little gun-shy, Frase. Okay. So no puppies this time... so what's got ya all twitchy about Diefenbaker goin' out with her?"
Fraser took a deep breath and let a portion of the truth out. "I'm jealous, Ray. And I am heartily ashamed of myself for being so."
Ray blinked. He hadn't expected that for an answer. "Jealous? What for?"
"I envy Diefenbaker the freedom to pursue his relationship openly. Without having to hide how he feels from anyone." The way I have to hide my feelings for you, Ray, Fraser added silently.
"Yeah, clandestine romances really aren't yer style, buddy." Ray's ready sympathy caught Fraser off guard. "Too much like lyin' for ya, huh?"
Startled afresh, Fraser nodded. Why had he not known Ray would understand so readily? "In part, yes."
"So what's the other part?"
Fraser cracked his neck sharply. "I've fallen for someone... unsuitable, Ray. Someone I am quite sure does not return my feelings."
"Yer wrong, Frase. I mean, don't get me wrong, fishin' off the company pier's always a bad idea. But the Ice Queen's totally got the hots for ya. She just bites yer head off 'cause what she really wants ta do is rip yer clothes off."
For a moment Fraser was so baffled by the 'fishing' phraseology he couldn't figure out what Ray was driving at. "You thought I referring to Inspector Thatcher?"
Ray helped himself to a shrimp as a distraction. "Weren't ya?"
"No, Ray," Fraser said moodily, pushing his food around without tasting it. "While there was a spark of attraction between the Inspector and I at one point, it was merely that. There is no foundation of friendship or affinity on which to build a deeper relationship even if I wished to do so, which I do not."
"Oh." Ray puzzled that over. "So who is it?"
Ray's directness caught Fraser off-guard again. "Ah..."
"Sorry, Frase." Ray's interruption was lightening-quick and totally sincere as he reached over and touched Fraser's hand sheepishly. "That was outta line. Yer personal life's yer own business. Just 'cause I'm yer partner doesn't mean I got the right to stick my nose in yer love life."
"Please do." It leaped out before Fraser could stop it and he could not resist brushing the backs of his knuckles against Ray's palm in the barest caress.
Ray's forehead creased in confusion but he didn't draw his hand away. Fraser savored the lingering contact.
"Please do what? Stick my nose in yer personal life?"
Fraser had to mean that, Ray figured, 'cause there was no way the Mountie could want Ray messing around in his love life... which Ray would love to do but couldn't. Not that Fraser was a bigot, he wasn't. But he'd never evidenced even the tiniest scrap of interest in anyone but women so tough shit for Ray Kowalski, who didn't care whether the outside came boy or girl as long as the person inside turned his crank. And Fraser turned Ray's crank like no one else in life, not even the Stella. Ray dragged his wandering attention back to what Fraser was saying.
"No one else cares, Ray." How it hurt to admit that. To admit that save Ray and Diefenbaker, no one in Chicago really wanted to know the real Benton Fraser. Everyone else wanted some caricature of himself that Fraser felt more and more trapped by every day. Only with this Ray, his Ray, did he truly feel free to be himself. He might have gone mad without it by this point otherwise.
"Hey. I do. I care."
Ray's hand was gripping his firmly, Fraser realized. It felt so right he could barely stand the thought of letting go.
"Don't know what ya want with me in yer personal life," Ray said very quietly, "but whatever I got you need, you want, Ben buddy, it's yours, okay? Anything."
He would have given anything to lean over the table and kiss Ray right now, Fraser thought longingly. To fasten his mouth over Ray's stubble-edged lips and kiss them until they were swollen and wet and hungry.
"Ya hear me, Frase?"
"I hear you, Ray," Fraser whispered hoarsely. His fingers tightened on Ray's in spite of all his resolve not to.
"C'mon," Ray said, squeezing his hand back. "Let's get the rest of this ta go and get outta here. The Leafs are playing the Hawks tonight, we ken still catch the last two periods."
"As you wish, Ray," Fraser said, releasing his partner's hand with heart-wrenching difficulty and signaling for the waiter.
* * *
When they reached his apartment Ray tossed Fraser the remote and shoved the leftovers into the fridge.
"Want some tea, Frase?"
"Yes, thank you kindly, Ray." Fraser mastered the intricacies of Ray's cable long ago and had ESPN on the screen in no time. The second period hadn't started yet so Fraser ducked into Ray's bedroom and changed into the sweats he kept at Ray's apartment now. It always gave him a warm feeling to open the top drawer of Ray's dresser; it was his drawer, one Ray cleaned out and insisted Fraser keep stocked with enough clothing so he could overnight comfortably at Ray's apartment anytime.
Obedient to his partner's insistence, Fraser kept two pairs of jeans, two henleys, two undershirts, four pairs of boxers, four pairs of socks, one pair of red long johns and a set of RCMP sweats there, filling the drawer neatly. He did sometimes wonder what Ray would say if he knew that was effectively a third of his partner's wardrobe...
In the kitchen, Ray filled the copper teakettle he picked up over the weekend and grinned secretively. His mom dragged him out shopping last Saturday to replace some of his ancient, beat-to-shit kitchenware and he splurged on a bunch of stuff for Fraser. Like this copper teakettle, a ceramic teapot, half a dozen different, mysterious tea-making thingamajigs of metal and mesh and wire, and a variety pack of a dozen different organic loose-leaf teas in square glass jars.
Fortunately the variety pack came with an instruction booklet, so after consulting the section on 'soothing nervousness' Ray put chamomile flowers, peppermint leaves and something labeled rose hips -roses had hips? who knew?- into the small metal tea ball, screwed the lid on, and struggled for a minute to hook the end of the little chain around the handle of the mug. By the time he'd managed all that the water was boiling, so he filled the mug with a sense of relief. His hot cocoa with marshmallows only required tearing open the paper packet and dumping the powder into his mug with a quick stir, thank Christ.
Ray kicked off his boots into the hall closet on his way into the living room, flicking a glance at the front door to make sure all the locks were on. Unlike Frase, he kept all his locks shut all the time- he'd worked Vice and undercover way too long to be anything less than paranoid. He slid Fraser's mug down on his side of the coffee table and plunked his feet up on the other end with a sense of relief.
"The Hawks are leading, one-zero," Fraser replied, his eyes glued to the screen.
"Hey, I read some news about a friend a' yours," Ray offered, deciding since Fraser wanted some more friend-stuff in their partnership, this might qualify. "That Mark guy."
Fraser's head whipped around so fast his neck cracked twice. "Mark Smithbauer?"
"That's the guy. One of the new expansion teams picked him up as an assistant coach."
Fraser was so obviously startled Ray cudgeled his brain to remember what else he'd read in that ESPN magazine article while waiting in the ophthalmologist's office for his yearly checkup.
"The team's owner is real big on givin' people second chances," Ray recalled, "Says everyone deserves a chance to start over if they screw up."
"Which team?" Fraser asked, thoroughly disconcerted by this information. His part in Mark's suspension from the league had not been minimal, and he often wondered how his old friend was doing.
"Team's called the Crows. Based outta some town in Kansas. Littleton or something. I only got halfway through the article before the receptionist called me. We ken look it up on the computer at work tomorrow if you like."
"Thank you, Ray. Diefenbaker will be delighted to hear it."
"No sweat." Ray grinned, flopping back on the couch. "That's what friends do, Fraser buddy."
And what, Fraser wondered, would Ray think if he knew the true relationship between Mark and himself? Granted, his and Mark's adolescent fumblings had been little more than that, but he had never even dared intimate that to the first Ray Vecchio, who while not as overtly homophobic as Detective Dewey, very definitely shared the Catholic opinion of alternate sexualities as perversions of the lowest order.
Fraser sighed. He was doing it again, and after he promised himself incontrovertibly this self-defeating behavior would cease. Comparisons between Ray Vecchio and Ray Kowalski inevitably engendered two things: acid-edged guilt for undervaluing his first partner despite his personal foibles, and a helpless, nearly choking longing for his current partner and best friend. He picked up the mug of tea Ray made and settled back to watch the game, appreciating the complexities in a simple beverage, letting all the wonderful, loving implications inherent in this cup of tea wash over him.
Tea. Made with spring water, a tea ball, the tea itself a loose herbal blend that was obviously organic judging from the bouquet, in a RCMP mug that mysteriously appeared in Ray's cupboard not long after the Marcus Ellery incident. All for him, just for him, with never a syllable said; just the tiny crinkling of smile-lines at the corner of Ray's eyes when Fraser would stare at these heartwarming wordless gestures of friendship that Fraser never, ever had lavished on him before in his entire life. And they happened all the time now, these little unspoken kindnesses- these concrete expressions of Ray's affection.
Stella Kowalski was an excellent ADA... but she was an utter imbecile for scorning the gestures of constant love and caring her former husband considered a daily necessity. Fraser treasured them like the priceless gifts they were and stored them up for future lonely times in his life when he would not have Ray's constant energy to warm his heart. These concrete proofs of 'I care about you, you're special to me'... they undid Fraser utterly; melted the icy shields around his heart with their warmth, left him naked and unprotected and helpless against the mercurial heat that was Ray Kowalski. Ray was so deeply embedded in him now that Fraser knew well when life eventually forced them apart Ray would take with Fraser's entire heart along all unknowing.
But that was the future, and the future was always uncertain; Fraser knew that sad fact better than most. For now he had a beloved best friend, a warm, friendly place where he and Diefenbaker were always welcome, and a very good cup of tea to enjoy a hockey game with. He would enjoy it to the fullest.
* * *
Two hours later, the front door buzzer startled them out of the last few minutes of the final period. Ray untangled himself from his boneless sprawl across the couch and padded barefoot over to the door and pushed the intercom button.
"It's me, Ray," Katrina replied. "I've brought Dief home."
The intercom didn't carry the thrumming purr undertone to Katrina's voice and her words sounded weirdly flat without it.
"I'll buzz ya in, c'mon up for a minute."
"Can I leave the Maz parked on the street?"
Ray grimaced. "Nah, actually ya can't. Car that sweet'll be gone in five minutes."
"Rats. I'll just send Dief up then."
Ray perked up. Katrina sounded bummed at not coming up.
"Didja have a good time?"
Bouncing laughter. "We had a great time."
Diefenbaker barked loud in the background and Ray realized Fraser was standing at his elbow.
"Diefenbaker would like to know if you would care to go out again, Ambassador," Fraser said politely, leaning over Ray's shoulder.
"I've got the weekend free," she said hopefully. "I have a lot of unpacking to do at the Embassy, but we could go out in the evenings?"
Diefenbaker barked sharply and Ray could hear the scrape of the wolf's claws as he circled Katrina.
"Diefenbaker would be pleased to offer his assistance with your unpacking," Fraser translated.
"Really? I'd love the company."
"Stop by the Canadian Consulate anytime this weekend," Fraser told her, smiling ruefully at the eagerness in Dief's vocalizations.
"I'll do that."
Another bark terminated in a sharp whine and a noise Ray couldn't identify, but Katrina's delighted laugh made Ray and Fraser exchange baffled glances.
"Fresh," Katrina murmured, but her voice was low and teasing and very definitely pleased.
"Diefenbaker?" Fraser said sternly into the intercom. "Are you behaving?"
"He's deaf, Fraser," Ray reminded him, rolling his eyes.
"Oh, yes, of course." Fraser ran a knuckle over his eyebrow in embarrassment.
"He's on his way up, Ray," Katrina said. "Catch you two later!"
"G'night, Kat." Ray chimed in.
"Good night, Katrina," Fraser said, as always more formal.
Diefenbaker's nails clicked on the floor outside and when Ray opened the door Dief sauntered in, as sassy and happy as Ray ever saw him.
Fraser eyed the wolf with a distinctly jaundiced air. "And what, pray tell, were you doing down in that hallway?"
Diefenbaker rumbled smugly in his throat, licking his chops.
"What'd he say?" Ray quizzed.
"A gentleman never kisses and tells," Fraser explained, his mouth drawn into a thin, unamused line. "You've just been waiting for an opportunity to use that excuse, haven't you?"
Ray started laughing and followed the wolf's waving tail into the living room.
* * *
Friday morning, Fraser was sitting at his desk sorting through the daily mail when Turnbull came scurrying in.
"Inspector Thatcher would like to see you and Diefenbaker right now, Constable Fraser," Turnbull said breathlessly. "She is... quite agitated."
Fraser frowned as he rose, running through a mental list of any possible recent infractions and coming up with none. And what could Inspector Thatcher possibly require the wolf's presence for?
"Very well, Turnbull, thank you kindly."
Fraser and Diefenbaker duly reported to Thatcher's office and he realized immediately his superior officer was indeed, quite agitated. Angry, almost.
"Yes, ma'am." Fraser saluted politely and waited at attention. Diefenbaker sat down politely at his side, despite the fact he had no official rank, and waited as well.
"I would like an explanation, please!" Inspector Thatcher was striding angrily up and down behind her desk, her hands clasped behind her back.
"Of what, ma'am?"
She whirled and narrowed her gaze at the wolf. "I was attending a performance of the theater last night, when to my very great surprise, I observed your wolf in the reserved box of the Tehari Embassy! Lounging, I might add, in the Ambassador's lap!"
Fraser ran a knuckle over his eyebrow and tried to figure out how best to defuse this situation.
"Diefenbaker did, in fact, have a date with Ambassador Cutter last night, ma'am. Not having attended myself, I cannot, of course, vouch for the seating arrangements, but I'm sure Diefenbaker would never behave in any inappropriate manner on a first date, Inspector. In fact, he even promised Lieutenant Welsh he would be a perfect gentleman."
Thatcher jerked to a halt, briefly stymied. "Your wolf had a date with the Ambassador?"
Thatcher exhaled a pained sigh. "Let me be sure I have this correct? Your wolf asked the Tehari Ambassador out on a date?"
"No, ma'am, actually Ambassador Cutter asked Diefenbaker out."
Thatcher sat down in her chair, disconcerted by his calm reply. "The Ambassador asked your wolf out on a date, Constable? Your wolf, not you?"
"That's correct, ma'am."
"And the wolf said yes?"
"Oh, Diefenbaker was delighted to be asked, I assure you, Inspector." He leaned over her desk so the wolf couldn't read his lips. "Confidentially, ma'am, I think he has a crush on Ambassador Cutter. She's very lovely, although of course I imagine that would not be as readily apparent to you as Diefenbaker and myself... you being female, I mean, ma'am."
Thatcher glared at him. "I am perfectly capable of appreciating beauty in both the male and female forms, Constable. I am aware Ambassador Cutter is... attractive. I was not aware she had a thing for wolves!"
Diefenbaker rumbled in his throat from where he was sitting. Fraser glanced down and flushed.
"What?" Thatcher snapped, transferring her glare to the wolf.
"According to Diefenbaker; both he and the Ambassador had quite an enjoyable time, although he felt the performance suffered from the actress portraying Celia's lack of ability to remain oriented stage front during her performance. Makes the dialogue difficult to follow if you're reading lips, you see."
"I was... getting to that," Fraser said awkwardly.
"Getting to what, Constable?" Thatcher snapped.
Fraser ran a finger around the inside of his uniform tunic collar. "Ah, Diefenbaker feels that, as he was on his own time and not representing the Embassy in any official capacity, your interrogating him on this topic is, ah... inappropriate, ma'am."
"Specifically, he, ah, thinks you should..."
"I should what, Fraser?"
Fraser flinched and donned his best impervious expression. "You should, ah, butt out of his personal life, ma'am." He waited, stone-faced, for the resulting explosion.
Thatcher simply gaped at the wolf. "You think what?"
Diefenbaker locked gazes with her, raising his upper lip a fraction as a muted growl issued from his muzzle. Fraser's countenance revealed nothing, but Thatcher realized she was just pointedly warned to back off, recalling this was, in fact, a wild animal.
"I suppose you could officially reprimand me for Diefenbaker's actions in escorting the Ambassador to the theater, if you feel his behavior was that inappropriate," Fraser offered helpfully.
The absurdity of the situation struck Inspector Thatcher and she shuddered at the thought of how on earth she would write up the reprimand without sounding like she'd lost her mind. Leaning back in her chair, Meg Thatcher wondered how she always got drawn into these insane situations!
"Dismissed, Constable," she said wearily, waving a hand at the door.
"Your wolf is correct, Fraser," she grumbled. "His relationship with the Ambassador is none of my business and I do not wish to discuss the matter any further. Dismissed."
Fraser nodded and got while the getting was good. Dief followed him out, tail wagging in smug self-satisfaction.
"She never says that to me," Fraser muttered to Diefenbaker, nearly tripping over Turnbull, who was rather suspiciously polishing the brass doorknobs and key plate on the Inspector's office door.
"How did it go, sir?" Turnbull said anxiously, clutching his polishing rag with nervous fingers.
"Nothing to concern yourself with, Turnbull," Fraser told him calmly. "The Inspector was merely concerned with Diefenbaker's..."
"His blossoming romance with Ambassador Cutter?"
Fraser fixed his fellow Mountie an incredulous stare and Turnbull returned his gaze earnestly, an unlikely candidate for Cupid, Fraser thought.
"I was present last night as the Inspector's aide at the theater, and I thought Diefenbaker and Ambassador Cutter looked... very happy together, sir. Positively charming." Turnbull's face was wistful as he smiled down at the wolf. "You and the Ambassador make a lovely couple, Diefenbaker. I was envious, to be honest."
Fraser sighed. "Perhaps you could make us a pot of tea, Turnbull, and you and Diefenbaker can tell me all about his date."
Turnbull beamed. "I'd be delighted to, sir. I made some delightful lemon biscuits yesterday that will be perfect with the tea."
"I'm sure they will, Turnbull."
Diefenbaker yipped smugly and followed.
Fraser sighed again and cracked his neck; realizing that asking Diefenbaker and the Ambassador to arrange their dates around the Inspector's schedule was not fair to either woman or wolf.
"Yes, I know. I hope your next engagement with the Ambassador on Monday is equally successful, Diefenbaker..."
* * *
End Ambassadoral Status - Part 2 by Diefs Girl
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