Author's website: http://www.ravenswing.com/bas/
Author's Notes: Thanks to Laura Jacquez Valentine for being a most steadfast and trustworthy beta.
Story Notes: Previous stories in this series: Zen, Tidal Waves, Cigarettes, Baby's Breath, Collision.
This story is a sequel to: Collision
I lean a little closer. "He wanted you to what?"
"Felch him," Bayliss whispers. "And you know, you've gotta draw the line somewhere. There are places that I just won't go."
"He seemed so normal," I say. Bayliss has the worst luck with men. First Michael moved home to take care of his mother, then Darren stole Bayliss' TV, now Ricky's a pervert.
"They always do," Bayliss says dourly.
"We've never tried that kinky stuff. Me, I'm pretty vanilla."
"You?" Bayliss raises his eyebrow. "What about Fraser?"
"Look at those boots. You think he's vanilla?"
We both look at Fraser's shiny, knee-high Mountie boots. Bayliss cracks up, and so do I. Fraser looks at me puzzled-like but just shakes his head and starts talking to the brand new baby-face transfer from Narcotics.
His big grey eyes are fine now. I have to listen to Mr. High Strung freak about cataracts once or twice a week, though. Think I'm going to start blowing him whenever he whines.
"So." Bayliss shrugs. "Solo again."
"Yeah." And that's the extent of our guy talk. And Bayliss is giving me big mournful eyes, like there's something he just can't say. I'm not going to let him say it. Last time we talked about our feelings, he told me things I didn't want to know.
Doesn't matter any more. I'm gone. "What do you think the chances are we're gonna get called in on Sunday?" I ask him.
He shakes himself, shakes off his mood. "Fifty-fifty. They're going to work you right until the day you leave, aren't they?"
"Yeah." I lean back and work on my carving, and Bayliss goes to raid the buffet. I'm carving a Hot Wheels-kinda Buick Riviera for Frannie's kid. Vecchio will get a kick out of it.
Dief is sitting under the buffet table being the proud daddy with two pups from his latest litter with Maggie. Yeah, he found her again--it's a love story for the ages. Yeah, we're taking them with us. I think Dief's been filling their heads with stories about chasing polar bears and running with the wolves, because they get excited every time we pick up a suitcase.
"The village is built on a glacier," Fraser is telling the new detective. He's too new to be afraid of Fraser's stories. "It creeps very slowly toward the sea, about thirty feet a year, carrying the village with it. Eventually the village will be lost," and there's this note in his voice that lets me know he thinks that's pretty cool. The earth pushing off the little human things on top of it.
"When the glacier calves an iceberg, there's a crack like a shotgun as big as a mountain, and then the iceberg sends up an enormous wave as it hits the water. It can swamp boats half a mile away."
"Wow," the new guy says. I try to remember being that young. Not so sure I ever was.
Bayliss is over in the corner with a plateful of broccoli, talking to Elaine's brother, and I get a big grin.
"Matchmaker," Fraser whispers in my ear, and I elbow him in the ribs so he knows I love him.
Elaine Besbriss, newly bumped up to detective as a reward for rescuing two kids from a nut job in a holdup, is going to be Bayliss' partner starting November. I think it's a good match. He's an old hand at detecting but still new to the city, and she knows the city like it's part of her but she's new to being a detective. They're both sharp as tacks. And she doesn't know his secrets.
And then there's her brother...
They're talking about the history of Buddhism. They have been on and off since I introduced them. Every time someone else gets too close to Bayliss and Besbriss they get a whiff of the independent roots and growth of the Tibetan practice and their eyes glaze over. It's a good blind, kind of t'ai chi, using the outsider's nosiness against him. They don't even know they're doing it but it keeps anyone else from seeing the way they talk to each other with their bodies. Bayliss has very talky hips.
I met Elaine's brother Avery about a week after I stepped into Vecchio's shoes, when he came to pick Elaine up for lunch. He's a little short but broad, solid, handsome, and we had sparks. I saw to him later at one of those bars, the ones with just enough women in it for a guy to pretend if he gets caught, and we went out for coffee and found out that we didn't really hit it off. He likes book smart, not street smart, and that I cannot be.
But Bayliss is book smart too, and Bayliss understands his job: Associate Professor of Comparative Religion. Bayliss looks like he's about to ask Avery out for...coffee with the dot-dot-dot that means "or tea or me."
I lean back over to Fraser, who's watching them too since the new guy made for the punch. "Kinda makes you feel all fuzzy, doesn't it?"
"Fuzzy?" But he's got a smile that means he knows what I'm saying, he just wants to hear me say it.
Fraser smiles and doesn't point out that Bayliss has celebrated his 39th birthday for at least two years and Avery is already starting to show gray in that little beard thing he has going, because Fraser knows exactly what I mean.
That's old love. We don't even have to speak any more, just wiggle our fingers.
We're in the middle of the Halloween-slash-going away party, and it's a real blow-out. More people seem sad to see us go that I would have thought, but I guess it's mostly that they'll miss Fraser. It kind of reminds me of his fake funeral.
Welsh finds us and pulls Fraser aside, leaving me standing there finishing the Riv. Maybe Fraser can whip up some Yuck Green paint out of grass clippings and White-Out--
"Ray!" Stella, all in black. "Burrell is giving evidence against Stinson. It's in the bag."
I grin. "Did you tell Bayliss? He'll be over the moon."
"Not yet." She looks up at me. "So this is goodbye?"
"Yeah." I never thought I'd say it. I never thought I'd be here. But here we are, and it doesn't hurt. And we're both kind of standing there looking at each other until I speak up: "Bye, Stella."
She drops her eyes and smiles a little, then looks back up and puts her hand to my cheek. She kisses my other cheek. "Goodbye, Ray."
Her eyes are a little wet. Damn, I didn't think she would miss me either... "I'll tell Bayliss," she says, and I watch her walk away.
It feels good.
I go and fetch Fraser again and I tug him into the bathroom, the big stall, and I feel him up, and he smiles and kisses me right there in the station. Hey, he never used to do that. Progress kicks ass. We breathe together, trading breath back and forth, those goofy romantic things. I've got my hands roaming all over, chest and back and butt and thighs, just grabbing soft handfuls wherever I can. He feels nice.
Fraser twitches as I find a ticklish spot and grabs my hands, pinning them against the painted metal barrier. "Later," he murmurs, and runs his tongue along my lip before giving me a smooch and letting me go.
I look at the line of his back as he walks away--okay, I look at his ass--and I think about "later."
"Corporal Fraser! Detective Kowalski! I'm so pleased to see you!" Christ, it's Turnbull!
Of course, we were expecting him--he's coming in from Ottawa to take over from Fraser. He's got a sexy little Harrison Ford scar on his chin from the bus accident. We both shake his hand.
Turnbull starts talking Fraser's ear off about Consulate business so I make a getaway into the squad room. Bayliss is standing near the door and I collar him. "Be discreet when you're talking to Avery," I whisper in his ear. "That's what the supply room is for." I think about what I've just been doing and add, "Or the bathroom."
"I am the soul of discretion," he mutters back.
"Your ass ain't. Tell it to stop wiggling." I sock him in the shoulder and head for the punch bowl to see if it's spiked yet. Which it is. But that's okay, since Vecchio is driving me and Fraser back to his house afterwards; our apartment is cleared out already and the sublet is moving in tomorrow. The furniture went to Goodwill and Fraser's friends, some personal stuff went into storage. My clothes and Fraser's chest were shipped to Frobisher; we have a pack each, and that's all we're carrying with us apart from food. We're picking up Mohammed and the other dogs from Fraser's old buddy Steve, who was borrowing them while we were gone. I pour myself some punch and get happy.
Dief stares up at me. The two pups grin up at me. I look to one side and knock a few mini-weenies off the table.
The vodka punch is warming my stomach as Vecchio walks over. He's all in black, mourning black. Ma Vecchio saw her grandbaby, but not a lot else. I'll miss her too.
Vecchio and Stella are leaving for Florida soon. He leans up against the outside of Welsh's office wall next to me. "How's the punch?"
Vecchio snorts. "I guess I better stick to the Diet Coke, then."
I grin. "Unless you want Fraser to citizen arrest you and drive that shiny new Riviera home, yeah." Vecchio crosses himself and I laugh.
"Are you keeping the bowling alley after all?" I ask. He's been arguing with his uncle for I don't know, months. Yeah, I'll take it. No, you don't have to take it. No, I want to take it. Oh, I couldn't ask that of you, but it would be nice.
"Yeah. Stella's going to be bringing home the bacon, but that doesn't mean I get to just sit around looking pretty."
"That's cool. Call it Vecchio's Mucho Macho Bowling Alley--" I duck as he tries to sock me in the arm. "Watch the hair! You know, I don't think Fraser's ever been bowling."
Vecchio makes a face. "Knowing him, he'd bowl 300 the first time out."
"So where are you going exactly?" Vecchio asks.
And I don't know, I really don't; but I look at Fraser as he walks through the door and smiles at me, and I look back at Vecchio and grin as I say: "North." The puppies under the table yelp at the word.
I shrug. We don't need to be more specific.
"Ray!" We both look up to see Francesca. She hands me her daughter and Ray the diaper bag. "Hold these."
"Okay." I make the puffin face at the baby. She grabs for my nose.
"Kowalski, what's going on?"
I look up at Vecchio and see Francesca heading for the hallway just as Turnbull rounds the corner with Fraser. Turnbull stops stock still, and a good thing too, because Francesca jumps right into his arms squealing "Renny! RENNY!"
I smile at the baby as the squad room starts clapping. "Look, there's your daddy!"
"Him?" Vecchio looks like he's going to faint. "Turnbull!"
I nod. "Where'd you think she got those baby blues?" I poke her nose and she grabs my finger.
Vecchio shoots a look at blond, blue-eyed me.
I grin at him. "We've been relationship-counseling those two for months."
"What happened? No, don't tell me. I gotta--something." Vecchio drops the diaper bag at my feet and makes his way over to his sister.
"You're lucky those two didn't name you Benton," I tell the baby as Vecchio shakes Turnbull's hand.
Fraser sits down beside me. "If they had called her Benton, I'd have broken into the Hall of Records and changed it myself. It was bad enough as a boy." He makes the puffin face. I kiss his cheek, real fast, and he gives me a big beaming smile.
Vecchio comes back, shaking his head. "I don't get it. I thought Turnbull was light in the loafers."
I grin. "He is. He's also a romantic. Like me." Turnbull and Frannie had gotten together after the Tracy Jenkins concert. I guess the music carried them away. They had kind of a don't-look-at-me thing going on until Fraser and I went up north and Frannie got over her crush, and then they hooked up off and on.
And Turnbull went to Ottawa right after Fraser returned, never knowing that he'd knocked Frannie up.... We had to get them back together, right? Fraser's a romantic too.
"Turnbull," Vecchio's muttering. "Francesca Turnbull. This is my brother in law Turnbull." He shakes his head.
"What makes you think they're getting married or that she would take his name if they did? Frannie's a modern gal." I wink at Vecchio but he's too busy fretting. Stella comes up and hugs him from behind. "Turnbull is a natural born housewife," I add.
I hear Frannie coming before she shows. Turnbull's beside her grinning like a fool. "Here she is," Frannie says, so I stand up and show the baby off.
Turnbull's got the most amazing look on his face. Babies are always kind of a sock in the gut--it's a genetic thing, right? Instinctual or something. And when it's your own it's just that much more.
Not that I would know. As such. But me and Fraser have been the stand-in daddies to this little girl for four months now. And, well, hell. I offer her up.
Turnbull takes her slowly and carefully. He's putting on his serious face, the one he found when he was running for office. And I was thinking "don't drop her don't drop her" but it's fading away.
He cradles her to his chest and looks at her, and he looks at Frannie, and he leans over and kisses her with their baby between them.
Fraser puts his arm around my shoulders and leans on me. "I think it'll work out."
"Yeah, probably." I put my arm around his shoulders and lean on him. "Three days and then north," I say.
"Home," Fraser sighs, and he squeezes me, a big smile on his face.
End North by Basingstoke: email@example.com
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