This section of the story reminds me of the joke about what happens if you play a country song in reverse: the singer regains his job, his stolen car is returned, he reconciles with his wife, and the dog comes back to life.
He came to consciousness feeling achy all over, as if he’d been beaten. Electricity, he knew from experience, did that to you, left you feeling bruised. He felt cold concrete at his back, and cool, sticky wetness on his face--and then he felt another rough swipe of tongue.
Dief was licking his face, and he opened his eyes and saw that Dief was a wolf again, hairy and four-legged and familiar. Dief never did lick Fraser while he was human, did he? Ray, and the lawyer, but not Fraser. Fraser felt strangely overwhelmed by the sight of him, and he sat up on the slushy curb and pulled Dief close, hard against his chest. Dief let out an enthusiastic bark! and pushed his head against Fraser’s palm. Fraser rubbed the furry head and scratched behind his ears. He felt the warmth and strength of Dief’s muscular form, and missed the kind human face, the blurred and distorted voice. I was expecting this to be a moment of unalloyed joy, but the wistfulness works.
He looked up and saw looming metal towers, plumes of flame, and squat concrete factories belching black smoke. "Gary, Indiana, I presume?"
Dief barked, and if Fraser concentrated, he could almost hear the familiar voice. You got it, Captain.
"I suppose we’d better get a move on." He released Dief and hauled himself up to his feet, shivering in his snow-soaked peacoat. "It’s a substantial walk, as you know--really, we should find a phone and let Ray know where we are."
They walked for a while through the industrial landscape of Gary, Indiana, eventually managing to hike a trail through the medians and dividers that paralleled Interstate 90. The highway led them back to Chicago, where they managed to scramble over a low embankment and onto the familiar city streets. Instead of running toward a fire, Fraser and Dief are walking away from the industrial hell of Gary to home, a reversal of the prologue.
Once there, they looked for a pay telephone. The first telephone they found was really only half a phone, as the receiver had been detached and carried away somewhere. The second public telephone had what appeared to be gum jammed into the coin slot. The third phone wouldn’t stop ringing, even when Fraser depressed the metal tongue several times, and the fourth phone ate his quarter and disconnected him.
It reminded him of a conversation he’d once had with Ray Vecchio, right when they’d first become partners. "The problem with you," Ray Vecchio had told him in that affectionately insulting way Ray Vecchio had, "is that you think that ‘the public’ is the public like in ‘public television’--like they listen to public radio and go to the public library and have themselves a public opinion. Whereas you really gotta be thinking more in terms of public pools, public phones, and public toilets," Ray Vecchio said, ticking these things off on his long fingers, "every one of which is disgusting, believe you me."
He’d been right, of course, Fraser thought, racking the receiver with disgust. He was tired and hungry--it had already been a very long day, they hadn’t eaten since breakfast, and it was now well past dinnertime. Diefenbaker whimpered softly, and Fraser agreed and bought them each a kielbasa and a bottle of spring water. Diefenbaker ate his in three snapping bites, but Fraser munched his more slowly as they trudged their way north through the dark Chicago streets.
An hour later, his spirit surged as he saw a woman actually using a pay telephone, and he sprinted across the street towards her just in time to hear her say, "Yeah, okay, I’ll be there in ten minutes," and hang up. Fraser fished a quarter out of his pea-coat, picked up the receiver--and yes, there was actually a dial tone!--before dialing Ray’s cell phone. But Fraser heard neither the slow rings of an unanswered phone nor the rather more rapid tones of a busy signal; instead, he was confronted with a harsh beeping sound that plainly illustrated that there was something wrong with the equipment on the other end.
Frowning, he depressed the metal tongue, and amazingly, his quarter was returned to him. He inserted it again and this time dialed Ray’s line at the 27th Precinct. "Detective Vecchio’s line," Francesca said, and her voice seemed wonderfully sane and real and normal.
"Francesca, it’s Constable Fraser. I’m looking for--"
"Oh hey! Wait! Wait!" Francesca interrupted eagerly. "Lieutenant Welsh wants you--don’t move!" He heard the phone thump to Ray’s desktop, then heard Francesca yelling, "Lieu!! Phone! It’s Fraser!" On reflection, I’m a little disappointed that we didn’t get to see Frannie interact with human!Dief.
Lieutenant Welsh was on the line a moment later. "Constable, are you all right? Where are you?"
"I’m fine. I’m near Evergreen Park," Fraser replied, "and I’m looking for Ray. His cell phone doesn’t seem to be working."
"It’s busted," Lieutenant Welsh replied grimly. "Shorted out. In fact, everything at 14 Wallace Street’s shorted out. Ray’s cell, the lights, the elevator--it’s like the whole building was hit by lightning. Ray had to arrest everybody by flashlight."
"He arrested them?" Fraser repeated, surprised. "The owners of Veni Vidi Vici?"
"Yeah. They came pretty quietly, too. I guess their computers all fried when the bolt hit. They’re at central booking now."
"Is Ray with them?" Fraser asked, looking down at his watch. Central booking wasn’t terribly far, probably another twenty minutes’ brisk walk.
"No. He’s out looking for you--he was pretty freaked out when you disappeared on him like that. I had to, uh," and here Lieutenant Welsh coughed and dropped his voice, "give him a couple shots of bourbon. He said you, uh, vanished into thin air. That a wicked witch had gotten you, and it was all his fault."
Silence hung in the air between them for a moment, as Fraser searched his brain for something resembling an adequate response. "Well, er--she didn’t!" he said finally, with as much cheer as he could manage. "She just sent me to Gary, Indiana. No," he added in anticipation of Welsh’s next question, "I’ve no idea why Gary, Indiana. It seems to be a thing she does."
"Okay..." Fraser got the distinct impression that Lieutenant Welsh was going to need a couple of shots of bourbon himself. "And the witch?"
"Is wicked, yes. Mischievous at the very least."
"He’s probably at the Consulate," Lieutenant Welsh said and hung up on him.
Fraser slowly hung up the receiver, and beside him Dief was making a snuffling noise that sounded particularly like laughter. "Oh, shut up," he said. "You of all people should sympathize."
Diefenbaker replied, I do. Being human is hard, and this struck Fraser as a real and profound truth.
It was nearly midnight when they turned the final corner and walked up the block toward the dark and looming Consulate. Fraser became aware of a sinking sense of disappointment; he’d been hoping to find the lights on and Ray waiting for him.
And then a shadow moved, and grew, and detached itself from the Consulate steps--and Ray was rushing up the block toward them, greatcoat billowing around his legs. Diefenbaker barked furiously, and then Ray was there, right in front of him and somehow everywhere at once. Fraser felt Ray’s fingers digging painfully into his shoulders, and then Ray was lightly patting Fraser’s arms and chest and side, like he was searching him for a weapon--or more likely, ascertaining that he was still all in one piece. "God," Ray was muttering between clenched teeth. "God. Are you okay?"
He wasn’t actually sure that Ray was speaking to him, but he decided to answer as if he were. "I’m fine, Ray. A little tired, but otherwise okay."
"And Dief?" Ray slowly pulled his hands off Fraser and dropped into a crouch beside Diefenbaker, who instantly bounded close to lick his face. Ray buried his hands roughly in the thick white fur and dragged the wolf tight into his arms. "You stupid mutt!" Ray yelled with what sounded like real anger. "You scared the crap out of me!"
Fraser stared down at the bowed head, the spiky blond hair. You should grab him, Dief whispered inside his brain. Grab him by the hair and see what happens. Dief as Fraser’s id.
Ray rose to his feet, and Diefenbaker wisely took the opportunity to high-tail it out of there. "Where the fuck have you been? I’ve been out of my head over here," Ray shouted, pointing two fingers to his temple like a gun. "For all I knew, you could be a dog in Minneapolis!"
"Gary," Fraser said stupidly.
"Whatever!" Ray yelled, and for a second, Fraser thought Ray might haul off and hit him. But Ray just flung his arms up in the air, wheeled around, and stomped up the steps to the Consulate’s door.
Fraser followed, feeling as if he’d had a narrow escape. "I hear you arrested Mark Saunders," he said, more to make conversation than for any other reason.
"Yeah," Ray replied, irritably. "Him and the whole damn lot of them."
Fraser unlocked the door, opened it, and flipped on the light. Diefenbaker raced into the hallway, nails clattering against the hardwood, and began running circles around the place--needing to re-mark his territory, Fraser suspected. Would lupine!Dief be bothered by human!Dief’s scent? Dief zoomed up the stairs, and Ray strode down the hallway and disappeared into the kitchen.
Fraser pulled off his peacoat and went into his office to hang it up, but when he got there, he was overcome by a sudden, overwhelming feeling of frustration, and slung the coat angrily into a corner. The hinge on his office door squeaked and Fraser turned to find Ray standing there, holding one of the Consulate’s good crystal tumblers against his forehead. "Hell of a day, Fraser," Ray murmured, closing his eyes and tilting his head to the side. "Hell of a..."
He took two steps forward and gently pulled the tumbler from Ray’s grip. The crystal was cold in his hand, and the whiskey smelled smoky, woody. Delicious. He closed his eyes and drained the glass, then set it down on the desk. He opened his eyes and saw that Ray was watching him closely, warily, with eyes that were huge and strangely dark.
And now, the sex scene.
Fraser raised his hand--and Ray didn’t move, not an inch, not a muscle. Ray’s eyes never even left his face to follow the movement of his hand.
I think he wants you to, Diefenbaker whispered inside his head.
Fraser gently brushed the spikes of Ray’s hair just above his ear. Ray didn’t blink, didn’t flinch--just kept looking at him steadfastly with those dark, blue eyes. Fraser closed his hand around a thick hunk of Ray’s hair, tightening his fingers and tugging once, hard. Ray did flinch then, wincing with a short, sharp intake of breath--and then it was as if something was falling away from Ray, some near-tangible barrier that had previously stood between them.
Ray took a single, half-stumbling step toward him, but that step was enough to close the gap between their bodies. Fraser again yanked on his fistful of hair and pulled Ray’s mouth to his, blindly reaching with his other hand to tug Ray’s t-shirt out of his pants. Ray’s lips were surprisingly soft, his mouth surprisingly wet. Ray’s mouth had always looked hard to him, and now he wondered if that, too, was merely self-protective on Ray’s part, another element of the barrier between him and the world.
Fraser slid his palm up the smooth warm skin of Ray’s side, feeling the twist of muscle underneath, fingering the indentations in his rib cage. It felt like Ray was opening to him, opening and opening and opening until Fraser was half out of his mind with wanting him, wanting in. He burrowed helplessly into the warm, damp parts of Ray’s body--sucking the slick, sweet tongue, groping the soft, faintly damp hair at armpits and crotch. Stephen Fry’s disparagement of "those damp, dark, foul-smelling and revoltingly tufted areas of the body that constitute the main dishes in the banquet of love" struck a chord with me, so I’m impressed when someone makes body hair sexy. (For the record, Stephen wrote those words several years ago and has since entered a longtime relationship, so presumably he’s more positive about sex these days.) He leaned back against the desk and pulled Ray to him, and when he finally broke away to breathe he saw that he’d pulled Ray half-across his thighs, and more than half out of his clothes.
He’d somehow managed to shove Ray’s t-shirt up high enough to reveal one small, brown nipple surrounded by unruly brown-blond hairs; lower down, Ray’s erection curved out of the V of his unzipped pants. The sight made his heart pound. He had no right to this, to any of this, but he didn’t care--he wanted to touch everything, everything he could reach, from breastbone to groin. He ran his hands over Ray’s body and he soon became conscious of the fact that Ray’s chest was rising and falling rapidly, that the soft head of Ray’s cock was leaking clear fluid onto his abdomen--that Ray was, in short, sexually aroused in the extreme.
Fraser experienced this revelation as strangely terrifying. He stilled his hands, clutching Ray’s side and pale hip in his own white-knuckled grip, and tried to collect himself. Strange that he should be the one feeling vulnerable when it was Ray who’d been laid bare. Whom he’d laid bare. But aside from Ray’s rapid breathing--which could, of course, have been a sign of fear or panic but was plainly neither fear nor panic--Ray seemed physically calm. Calmer than usual, in fact. Almost zen aside from his state of furious arousal.
And then Ray closed his eyes and twisted his face to the side, exposing his long, pale, stubbled throat. Nrrrrgh. It was the easiest thing in the world to press his lips there, to let them drag and hover over the point of Ray’s pulse. His own pulse was pounding loudly in his ears. Ray’s hand was gentle on the back of his head, long, thin fingers sliding deep into his hair before moving down to cup the back of his neck. Ray’s palm was warm and slightly sweaty against his skin. Fraser sucked the pulse point at Ray’s throat and tasted salt.
But he was sweating, too. Blindly he unbuttoned his shirt and tried to wrench it off his shoulders, but his hands somehow drifted back to Ray’s face as he drifted back to kissing Ray’s soft mouth. More. More contact. He needed it--and finally, frustration focused him, and he managed to push Ray down onto his cot and flat on his back. Better. Much better, because now he could lick and kiss the glorious expanse of skin, the still-heaving chest tapering down to the narrow waist.
Ray also seemed to think this was better, if the soft moans vibrating through his body were any indication. Ray’s erection was leaking copiously--smearing Fraser’s belly and chest and even shoulder as he licked and bit Ray’s hip. Fraser was now half-on and half-off the cot, one knee braced on the hard floor. He turned and took the head of Ray’s cock into his mouth, and Ray’s hands clenched. The strong fingers of one hand dug painfully into Fraser’s shoulder, and Ray’s other hand was in Fraser’s hair, pulling hard.
Fraser found the sharp twinge excruciatingly exciting, and his own erection leapt in his pants. Ray’s hand fisted in his hair and he was being tugged downward, forced to take in more of Ray’s erection, which was thick, huge, almost suffocating. This was exhilarating, terrifying, because he wasn’t at all sure he could manage to--
He felt, more than heard, Ray inhale deeply, and then he felt Ray’s fingers ease and withdraw from his hair. Instinctively, Fraser lifted his head, letting Ray’s cock slide, glistening, from his mouth, and watched in slow, thick lust as Ray draped one arm over his eyes and let his other arm fall to the floor. Fraser immediately understood the gesture for what it was: an invitation. Ray was proffering himself, all of himself, and the voice in his brain whispered darkly, "He wants you to." It’s no longer Dief’s voice but the voice. And as if this weren’t enough provocation, Fraser felt Ray’s left thigh muscle twitch under his hand--and then, slowly, Ray drew his leg up, just a little, just enough to invite him to... "He wants you to. He wants you to. He wants you..."
He slid his finger into Ray’s body and Ray bucked upwards, into Fraser’s waiting mouth. Ray was gasping, helplessly twisting his hips up and to the left, again and again, in a rhythmic movement that put pressure first against Fraser’s tongue, then against the finger deep inside his body. Fraser wrapped an arm around Ray’s thigh and held on, trying to keep the heavy body steady as he sucked and fingered him. He knew, from the way Ray was breathing, from the stifled but urgent-sounding noises Ray was making, that Ray was right on the verge of--and Fraser tightened his grip and held on as Ray convulsed beneath him with a loud, gut-wrenching sob and flooded his mouth.
Somewhere in the Consulate, Dief began to howl. Fraser’s blood was shrieking in his veins, and he dragged Ray off the cot and onto the mess of blankets on the floor and got behind him. Desk. Drawer. Vaseline. Ray was making low, guttural animal noises as he fought to brace himself on his palms, but the worn wool blankets kept shifting under his hands, and he couldn’t manage to get a grip. Not that it mattered--Fraser just slung one arm around Ray’s waist and the other low around Ray’s hips and pulled their bodies together, and as he sank into Ray, Ray let out a long, sweet groan that made the hair on the back of Fraser’s neck stand up.
Ray’s thighs were warm against his, and Fraser wrapped himself tightly around Ray’s sweat-slick back and fucked him. So good, so good... Wave after wave of pleasure surged up his body as he swayed forward, burying himself in Ray. They moved together easily, as if they were one body, Ray’s head lolling on his shoulders before he leaned back to press his hot cheek to Fraser’s.
Ray was panting out what seemed like words, but they were faint and didn’t seem to make much sense. "Frase, I...god, I...can’t...in the...need to..."
Fraser’s eyes were closed, and he pressed his face into Ray’s hair. "Shhh," he murmured reassuringly, but he was thrusting very deeply now and Ray was babbling breathlessly.
"Shh. Shh," and that was it, he had to thrust hard and fast, now, and Ray’s babble stretched out into one long, keening wail. Or maybe that was--just possibly that was--his own voice he was hearing--
Fraser buried his face in Ray’s hair, hugged Ray as tightly as his arms would allow, and came with a muffled groan.
Later, when Fraser opened his eyes, he found himself lying in the mess of blankets, curled around a lot of sleeping Ray. The arm that was trapped beneath Ray was now entirely numb, but Fraser didn’t mind--in fact, it seemed fair to him, a reasonable trade-off for the many joys of this moment.
Ray was warming his entire body, and how long had it been since he’d held another human being like this? He closed his eyes again, the better to bask in the delightful feelings--and had it only been that morning that Dief had been his bedmate? And all right, while today hadn’t been precisely typical, it was true that Diefenbaker’s had been the only warm body in his bed for years, and moreover, the only body he’d ever shared his bed with on even a semi-regular basis.
He supposed, come to think of it, that Dief really did know everything about his love life.
In fact, from a certain angle, Diefenbaker was his love life.
But not anymore. Fraser tightened his free arm around Ray’s body and buried his face in his hair. "You’re mine," he whispered--and to his surprise, Ray snuffled sleepily and said, "Okay."
Fraser smiled helplessly against the back of Ray’s neck and murmured, half to himself: "He’s going to be insufferable."
"Diefenbaker," Fraser replied, his lips twitching wryly. "This was his idea."
"Oh. Hm." Ray sounded like he was drifting off to sleep again, but he managed to add, faintly: "Good dog."
"I’m sorry," Fraser said sincerely. "I’m terribly sorry. I don’t know how this happened. He did have them--"
"He’s got to have his tags on at all times, Constable," Officer Franklin insisted. "It’s the law."
"He does have them," Fraser insisted, "or at least, he used to. He must have lost them," he added, shooting an accusatory look at Dief.
Dief just looked up pathetically, and whimpered.
"Or perhaps they fell off," Fraser relented. "We have had a certain amount of...excitement, lately." Constable Benton Fraser, RCMP, World Champeen of Understatement.
But Officer Franklin was not inclined to give quarter. "I’m sorry, Constable, but it’s your responsibility to--"
"Oh, cut it out, Wally, willya?" Officer Diane Jefferson shoved Officer Franklin out of the way with a sour look. "Hi there, Fraser," she added, with a quick glance at him.
"Good evening, Diane," Fraser said, clutching his hat by the brim. "I’m terribly sorry to--"
"Dief’s tags fell off," Diane Jefferson said to Officer Franklin, "and you gotta make a federal case out of it?"
"I’m just doing my job, Jefferson," Officer Franklin said defensively.
"Oh yeah, sure," Diane Jefferson snorted, crossing her arms. "And what do you think Ray’s gonna do when he hears that you gave his partner’s dog a ticket?"
"Vecchio can kiss my ass," Officer Franklin said, but he was noticeably nervous.
"Kick your ass is more like it," Diane Jefferson took the ticket from Officer Franklin. "Up and down the friggin’ street."
Fraser shifted his hat nervously through his fingers. "I wouldn’t want any special--"
"Fraser?" Diane Jefferson looked up at him. "You’re gonna get those tags replaced, right?"
"Right. Yes. Immediately," Fraser replied instantly.
"Right," Diane agreed, and then she slowly tore the ticket in half, and in half again, grinning at Wally Franklin all the while. I like Officer Jefferson.
Upstairs, Ray was on the telephone, but he grinned when he saw them crossing the bullpen, and he waved them over with his free hand. "Yeah, yeah, I got you. All right. Bye," he said into the receiver, and then hung up. "Hey, I wasn’t expecting you," Ray said, standing up. "I thought you were gonna be stuck all day with the Ambassador."
Fraser took a deep breath. "Inspector Thatcher has apparently decided that I am an unfit companion for the Ambassador." He found these constant slights rather easier to take on a good night’s sleep in Ray’s full sized bed. "So I came by to see if you were free for lunch."
"I am, yeah. Love to. I’ve hardly managed to get two bites of anything into my mouth, today," Ray muttered, and reached for a half-eaten donut that was sitting on a coffee-stained napkin. Dief was instantly brushing past Fraser’s legs, and Ray playfully slung the donut at him behind his back--true to form, Dief leapt and gracefully snatched it out of the air. "C’mon, let’s go," he said, and grabbed his coat off the hook.
Fraser waited until they were outside and well down the street from the station before venturing to ask Ray, "You didn’t happen to find Dief’s license tags anywhere, did you?"
"No," Ray replied, glancing down at Dief. "Did he lose ‘em?"
"Apparently," Fraser said--but this was met by a howl of outrage, followed by a series of short, furious barks.
"Whoa," Ray said, raising his hands. "All right, guy--chill out. He says you got ‘em," Ray added, turning to Fraser. Huh. Ray can understand Wolf.
Fraser frowned. "Me? That’s not possible..." but he slid his hands into the pockets of his coat and began to search them.
He felt a little jolt of electricity shoot up his arm as his fingers brushed the stiff cover of Dief’s Canadian passport. He pulled it out of his pocket, half expecting it to be something else by the time he laid eyes on it. No such luck, though, and he stared down at the gold-embossed cover. CANADA. PASSPORT/PASSEPORT. He flipped it open and stared down at the name, at the photograph.
Name: Dave Von Baker. Canadian/Canadienne. The shaggy salt-and-pepper hair framed the grinning, unlined face.
Fraser peered over the top of the passport at Diefenbaker, who stared up at him with the same pale eyes as in the photograph. Cue the theme to The Twilight Zone.
Ray, standing next to him, pulled the passport from his fingers. "Whoa. That’s kind of creepy."
"Indeed," Fraser said, unable to take his eyes off Diefenbaker.
"Just like Jeff Daniels," Ray muttered.
"That must have been Diefenbaker’s dog license," Fraser realized. "But I had it in my pocket, so it didn’t change back when he did."
Diefenbaker barked again. Ray wheeled on Fraser and demanded, "Who tried to give you a ticket? I’ll kick his ass from--"
"It’s not important, Ray," Fraser said through clenched teeth, and then he mouthed at Diefenbaker, "Ix-nay on the icket-tay."
"--here to Des Moines, because that’s somebody who’s trying to fuck with me. By fucking with you. They know you’re my partner, and they know that this is my adopted step-type-dog."
Diefenbaker showed Fraser a mouthful of teeth and a huge, lolling pink tongue, then sat down and ducked his head between his legs. Fraser sighed. Dief manages to combine editorializing and recreation.
"I mean, nobody gives out tickets for dog licenses. That’s like giving out tickets for jaywalking. That’s like a thing that no self-respecting officer of the law should--hey, what’s he doing?" Ray asked, brought up short.
"He’s..." Fraser flung a hand in Dief’s direction. "Being very rude," he said pointedly
"Aw, you’re just jealous," Ray said, grinning paternally at Dief.
"I am not. That is something that civilized people do in private."
They stood there for a while and watched Dief be a dog.
"Hey Fraser?" Ray asked, after a moment.
"Wanna go home and be civilized?"