(Standard, all-purpose disclaimer) All pre-existing characters are the property of the creators and producers of "Due South." No copyright infringement is intended. All new characters and situations are the sole property and responsibility of the author.
**MEMO FROM BUFFY** HAH! I was using Katrina's account to surf the web, and my typical luck held out -- yes, I was the one who got the Radio Times magazine. So don't be mad at Katrina, because I'm not giving it to her. In revenge (she can be so petty) she's making me write the story that James mentioned, about Fraser *not* having sex. Hmmph. Like that's going to be any fun.
Warnings: No bad language. Apparent m/m. Apparent m/f. Apparent m/w. And I don't know whether jodhpurs have zippers or buttons, but the joke only works if they have zippers.
"You're kidding. Please tell me you're kidding, Benny."
Fraser turned and looked at Ray. "No, I'm not," he said earnestly.
Ray barely managed to keep half of one eye on the road. "You're telling me that Mounties aren't allowed to have sex?"
"Well, that's something of an over-simplification, but --"
Ray couldn't let this one slide by. "So how do you guys make little Mounties, then? Cloning? You're grown in secret labs on Prince Edward Island? You spring full-grown from the head of Dudley Do- Right? What?"
"Now Ray, that's just silly."
Ray snorted. "You're telling *me*."
Ben tried to keep himself from blushing. "Of course we're allowed to have sex. But the RCMP is very protective of its image, and we're strongly advised that we not engage in any ... untoward activities while acting in an official capacity."
"Ahhhh..." Ray nodded wisely. "So say you're standing in front of the consulate in your uniform, doing that guard duty thing. You'll get in trouble if you have sex *while* you're in uniform, right?" He looked across at Ben, who was gaping back at him. Encouraged, Ray went on. "But if you're off duty and out of uniform, you won't get in trouble. Okay, I get it now."
"No, no, no -- Ray, I would still be violating any *number* of public indecency laws."
"Yeah, but you wouldn't be a *Mountie* while you were violating them, right?"
"No -- I mean, yes, I'm still a Mountie, but --"
"So your bosses would be mad, but not as mad as they would if you were in uniform."
Ben paused, then answered cautiously, "I suppose that's a fair interpretation ..."
"What about the hat?" Ray put in.
"Yeah. What if you were out of uniform except for the hat?" Ray looked over, his face a mask of polite, detached curiousity.
Ben noticed gratefully that they'd arrived at the consulate. "Oh, look! Here we are!" He opened the door and got out before Ray could say anything else, Diefenbaker following reluctantly. "Thank you for the ride, Ray."
Moving as rapidly as he properly could, Ben had almost made it inside before Ray stuck his head out the Riv's window and yelled, "Well, think it over, Benny -- I want an answer by the time I pick you up tonight!" Ben winced ... this wasn't the sort of thing that Ray Vecchio was likely to forget.
"Ummm ... Constable Fraser?" Ben looked up and around in confusion. Not seeing anyone, he shook his head and went back to his paperwork -- Inspector Thatcher was rearranging the books in her office, and she had asked him to work on the shelf list. A diffident throat-clearing made his head jerk up.
"Who's there?" Ben got up from his desk and stuck his head out of his office. He blinked. "What is it, Turnbull?" The younger man, his face as red as his tunic, was standing behind the potted ficus.
Turnbull cleared his throat again. "Well, you see, sir -- I was in the men's washroom --" If possible, he flushed an even deeper crimson.
Ben sighed patiently. "We've been over this before, Turnbull. You can't catch anything from toilet seats."
"Oh, no! It's not that this time, sir ... it's just -- well --" Turnbull took a deep breath and blurted, "My zipper is stuck."
"Your zipper is stuck." Turnbull nodded miserably, and Fraser kept his face emotionless. "And why precisely are you sharing this with me?"
Turnbull's face went up another notch. "What if ... *she* sees me?"
Ben frowned. " 'She'? ... Ah, you mean the inspector. Well, I'm sure the inspector won't faint at the sight of some unfastened jodhpurs -- which isn't to imply that she's *used* the the sight --" Ben closed his eyes and took a deep breath, trying not to blush. Now *he* was doing it. "Come into my office, Turnbull."
"Thank you, sir." Eying the hallway behind him with panicky eyes, Turnbull edged into Fraser's office.
"All right." Ben put his hands on his hips and studied the front of Turnbull's jodhpurs clinically. He looked up. "Constable, I won't be able to do a thing to help you if you keep your hands where they are."
"Sorry, sir." Turnbull lowered his hands to his sides.
"Well. Let's just --" Ben made a tentative movement towards Turnbull, then stopped. "You're sure you've tried everything?" Turnbull nodded. Reminding himself that it was for the good of the RCMP, Fraser took hold of Turnbull's zipper and yanked. It tore right out of the jodhpurs.
"Oh, dear." The two Mounties said it in unison. They looked at each other in unison. And they turned guiltily to the door in unison as they heard a third throat clearing.
Inspector Margaret Thatcher stood there, her eyes traveling impartially from the zipper in Fraser's hand to the matching blushes. "Would you mind telling me what's going on here, gentlemen?" she said icily.
Unexpectedly, Turnbull found his voice first. "Constable Fraser was trying to help me and he tore my zipper out, sir," he said as he ducked behind Ben's desk.
"Well. That explains it."
"No -- actually, sir, his zipper was stuck and he didn't want to be seen by anyone else, so he came here --" Ben had a strong suspicion that his explanation wasn't going over very well with the inspector.
He was right. Thatcher turned to him. "And is there a reason that Constable Turnbull didn't mind *you* seeing him, Constable Fraser?"
"None that I know of, sir." Fraser turned to Turnbull for help, but the constable had crouched so far down that he was invisible below the eyebrows.
"I'd prefer to continue this in my office, Constable Fraser." Thatcher glanced over to Turnbull, who sank down another two inches. "Stay here, Constable Turnbull." She turned on her heel and walked out; tossing the zipper in Turnbull's general direction, Ben hurried after her.
When they were in her office, Thatcher turned to Ben and said, "Constable, what you might do with your free time is your own business entirely. But I'll thank you to keep the RCMP's guidelines on decorum in mind in the future."
"I assure you, sir, nothing inappropriate was going on between Turnbull and myself in my office." Ben paused. "Which doesn't mean that anything inappropriate has occurred *out* of my office, of course --"
"I don't care to discuss it any further, Constable." Thatcher went over to the bookshelf and climbed up on a chair. "But as long as you're here, you can hand me those books." She pointed at the pile on her desk.
Ben looked at the chair in concern. "Excuse me, but that doesn't look entirely safe --"
Thatcher glared over her shoulder, irritated. "Just hand me the books, would you?" Still looking behind her to make sure that Ben was complying, she reached to one side to push the books already on the shelf farther to the edge. She squeeked a little as she felt the chair tip under her.
Dropping the pile of books, Ben dove toward her to break her fall. He succeeded -- Thatcher fortunately landed on top of him. Not so fortunately, Ben's hands ended up on a rather prominent, and extremely personal, portion of her anatomy.
"Oh, my --" Ben and the inspector stared at each other, then slowly turned to see who had spoken. Constable Turnbull stood in the doorway, eyes huge, a very large envelope pressed to the front of his jodhpurs.
Thatcher tried to scramble to a more authoritarian position, but succeeded only in exposing somewhat more of herself. Well, more than somewhat more, if the truth be told -- Ben just sighed, let his head thud against the floor, and wished devoutly that the day was over.
Ben gratefully stepped outside the consulate, Diefenbaker at his side -- Thatcher wasn't speaking to him and Turnbull was avoiding him, which was probably all for the best. He looked up and down the street; no sign of Ray yet. Well, he'd give his friend five minutes, and then start walking.
He looked down as he noticed Diefenbaker hungrily watching two teenage girls coming toward them, nibbling away at chocolate ice cream cones. "Don't even think about it," he said to the wolf; but Dief was apparently having one of his non-lipreading days, and he continued to stare at the ice cream greedily.
Ben stared at the street, pretending not to notice the way the girls eyed him and casually changed their direction so they'd pass a little closer to him. But while Ben wasn't watching them, the girls weren't watching oncoming pedestrians, and before he knew it, he was in the middle of a sidewalk pile-up with two ice cream cones in his lap.
Not being one to miss such an opportunity, Diefenbaker immediately started licking the ice cream of the front of Ben's jodhpurs. Even as Ben tried to think of a way to appropriately scold the wolf, he noticed a pair of Italian shoes, which were right below a pair of Armani trousers ...
Ray looked down and shook his head sadly. "So the RCMP rules don't apply to public bestiality? You know, Benny, I really don't understand this whole 'no sex' thing."
"Neither do I, Ray."
"You never answered my question, Benny."
"Ray, believe me, this really isn't a good time to discuss it," Ben said darkly.
Ray glanced over at Ben's crotch. "There are napkins in the glove compartment." Without a word, and coming as close to scowling as Ray had ever seen him, Fraser got a handful of napkins out and tried to mop the remaining ice cream off the front of his jodhpurs. In the back seat, his matted whiskers showing where most of the ice cream had already gone, Diefenbaker hunkered down and tried to blend into the upholstery. As he wasn't green, he didn't succeed in the least.
"Okay, here we are --" Ray started to say. Barely waiting for the Riv to come to a full and complete stop, Ben got out and slammed the door behind him, not waiting for Dief to get out.
Ray raised an eyebrow and watched Ben stalk into his apartment building. He glanced over the seat; Diefenbaker looked up at him hopefully. "So are *you* gonna tell me what happened at the consulate today?" Dief whined mournfully. "That's what I thought ... Okay, come on. Let's get to the bottom of this."
Letting Dief out of the back seat, Ray went into the building and up the steps to Ben's place. He didn't bother to knock -- as he entered the apartment, he said, "So I get custody of the wolf? Is that the deal here? Because you know that Maria's kids are gonna eat him alive. He wouldn't last a week at my place."
Ben was already in a pair of jeans and a flannel shirt. He looked at Dief, half-hidden behind Ray, and he nodded curtly. "Good." He gathered up his neatly folded jodhpurs and said, "I'm taking these to the dry cleaners down the street." He left without another word.
"Yeeesh. Moody." Ray put his hands on his hips and looked down at Dief. "Well, first things first. In there, pal." He jerked his head toward the small bathroom. Dief growled, but he didn't put much effort into it. Ray shook his head. "Whatever Benny's problem is, I think getting you cleaned up is a good first step to fixing it. So do I do it, or do we let Mrs. Gamez's kids soak you in Mr. Bubble again?"
Dief still looked slightly rebellious, but he went into the bathroom without any more fussing. Ray followed, grinning. One way or another, he *was* going to get an answer to his question tonight.
When Fraser came back to his apartment about an hour later, Ray was seated at the kitchen table, calmly reading a newspaper and drinking coffee. Dief, laying beside him, raised his head and gave his tail a single tentative wag. His face was almost dry, all traces of the chocolate ice cream gone, and Ben was hard-pressed not to laugh at the comical sight. "Did you do that?" he asked Ray.
Ray turned the page and said, "Nah. I just called a 24-hour wolf cleaning service. They took care of it." He looked up at Ben; he wasn't smiling either, but he didn't look far from it. He set down the paper and nodded at the plastic-wrapped package Ben laid on the counter. "So did all the ice cream come out?"
"Oh, yes." Ben seated himself across from Ray. "They did a very good job." Dief edged about a foot closer to Ben; when he wasn't rebuffed, he eased himself closer still and laid down again.
"Good. I'm glad to hear it." Ray folded his hands neatly in front of him and stared at Ben, a slight smile on his face. "So. How about an answer?"
Ben blinked, trying to stall for time. "An answer." He rubbed at one eyebrow.
"Um, an answer to what?"
"You're still a lousy liar, you know that?" Ray said cheerfully. "I'm talking about the hat."
"Ray ..." Ben closed his eyes and rested his head on his hands. "It's been a very trying day ..."
"I bet it was." Still with his eyes closed, Ben heard Ray push his chair back and get up. Walking around the table to stand behind Ben, he rested his hands on the back of the chair and said patiently, "It's a very simple question, Benny. You can just answer yes or no. Are you, or are you not, allowed to wear your hat when you have sex? I'm not talking about the whole uniform -- just the hat."
"It's not that simple, Ray," Ben said, his voice slightly muffled by his hands. "It's true that I'm unaware of any specific regulations either permitting or prohibiting the practice --"
"Ahh, now we're getting somewhere." Ray leaned even closer and moved his hands so they were resting lightly on Ben's shoulders. His lips next to Ben's ear, he murmured, "So the official RCMP rules are silent on the issue of wearing the Mountie hat during sex?"
"Well, if you phrase it that way --" Ben straightened up and turned a little so he could slip one arm around Ray's waist.
Ray grinned down at him. "So what you do with your hat -- or *in* your hat -- on your own time, in the privacy of your own home, is your own business."
Ben hesitated, then nodded. "I'd say that's a reasonable way of looking at it."
"Good. Because there's something I've been meaning to discuss with you for a while ..." Ray leaned down and whispered something in Ben's ear.
"Ray!" Ben sounded equally scandalized and amused.
Dief looked from one man to the other; he got to his feet, went into the living room and curled up on the couch. It looked like things were back to normal.