Title: Not-So-Odd Couple

Author: The Moo.

Category: Dramedy.

Genre: Slash. Really very very mild.

Pairing: Fraser/Kowalski.

Rating: G.

Spoilers: None.

Teaser: The trials and tribulations of domestic life.

Disclaimer: Whatever's the usual to keep The Moo out of jail, hee hee.

Feedback: Yes, please.

Notes: This work was originally featured as part of the Footwear Challenge for the Due South Flashfiction Community on Live Journal.

Warnings: None.



***




Fraser came into the apartment and tripped, as usual, over the jumble of Ray's shoes on the floor of the vestibule. As soon as he had regained his balance, he whined a petulant "Raaaaaay" towards the kitchen.

The blond detective poked his head out from the kitchen, all innocence, "Yeah?"

"Shoes, Ray! Would it be THAT much trouble to line your shoes up AGAINST the wall?"

"I'll line you up against the wall and shoot you if you donít stop nagging me," Ray muttered on his way out into the living room.

"Don't you think we endanger our lives sufficiently without your making our front entrance way into a deathtrap? Just a little neatness, Ray. Just enough to differentiate our home from an obstacle course."

Ray's fist tightened around the spatula in his hand. "If I wanted a nagging wife, Fraser, I'd have stayed interested in women. Maybe I had a hard day. Maybe I'm working hard here to make you a nice dinner. Maybe you should, like, get off my back."

Even as he said this, Ray was thinking that he and Fraser couldn't seem to stop bickering. It had made so much sense at first for Fraser to move in. Ray's lease was ending; Fraser was living in that god-awful room at the consulate. Nobody in either of their workplaces suspected they were lovers - they had been careful to cover their tracks. Being in the same bed every night was heavenly, but the price was putting up with Fraser in every other room during the day.

"I shall be more than happy to get off your back for the rest of the evening. In fact I won't come near any part of your anatomy for the whole rest of the night," Fraser declared. Without either speaking to or looking at Ray, he took off his winter coat and dropped it on the vestibule floor. His galoshes followed. Fraser then marched into the bedroom they called "his" when anybody visited. (There was a bed and Fraser's clothes and personal effects. Nobody had to know he never actually slept there.)

Ray went after him and stood watching in the bedroom doorway as Fraser shucked his uniform and put on an RCMP sweat suit. "You left your coat AND your boots," he pointed out.

Fraser took a hockey stick and a gym bag from "his" closet and pushed past Ray back to the vestibule. "No I haven't. Iím putting them back on." This he did, and went out the door, slamming it behind him.

***


Unlike Ray Vecchio, Ray couldn't have told anybody exactly how many outdoor rinks there were in the greater Chicago area. What he did know was which rink his partner would head for - the same one he always went to when he was miffed. It wasn't a hard thing to figure out, since there was only one such rink within any reasonable walking distance of their apartment. Ray also knew that inside the gym bag were Fraser's hockey skates and a half dozen hockey pucks. Ray debated with himself whether to go after the Mountie or just let him stay out and chase a puck around until he was cold and tired enough to come home.

Let him stay out. The chicken pilaf could just as easily wait in the fridge until that tight-ass neat freak condescended to come home and eat it. Why should I go after him? He's totally unreasonable.

Ray sighed. Then he went to his own closet and dug through the jumble of clothing, footwear, and boxing gear until he found a certain box.

***


A GTO pulled into the school parking lot and a tall, slight, blond man got out and tramped his way across the snow towards the schoolyard skating rink. A pair of skates was slung over his shoulder, dangling by their laces. Another man of similar height but noticeably more width was skating around the perimeter of the rink, guiding a hockey puck with a hockey stick as he went.

Ray leaned against the boards and watched. Fraser seemed to take no notice, but Ray knew better. With a shrug, Ray turned to sit down on a bench by the rink and started lacing on his own skates. With an unsteady gait he then made his way over to the opening in the boards. Fraser twisted to a stop, sending a spray of shaved ice into the air. The Mountie stood watching as Ray tottered onto the ice.

"You know you can't skate. You haven't had those skates on your feet even once since I bought them for you."

"I know that. I know that. You wanted me to learn to skate and I just didn't want to."

A couple of easy glides brought Fraser to where Ray was standing motionless on the ice, ankles bent inwards and one hand leaning against the boards. Fraser caught him up in his own arms.

"Ray, I'm sorry. I just . . . I'm not used to sharing a place. I've lived alone since I was eighteen and I left my grandparents' house. Well, there's Dief, but he doesnít wear shoes."

The two men's eyes met. Ray, distracted from keeping his footing, slipped and found himself held tightly in Fraserís encircling arms. "Let's go home, Ray." Fraser supported his lover for the few steps it took to take him off the ice. Then he scooped the thinner man up into his arms and carried him towards the car, both still wearing their skates. He opened the car door and deposited Ray into the driver's seat. Then he walked around and sat down on the shotgun side.

"I'll race you. Letís see who gets their skates off fastest," said Ray.

"Faster," the Mountie corrected him.

"I can't go faster, I'm unlacing as fast as I can."

"No," Fraser said, "You should say 'faster' not 'fastest' because there are only two of us."

"Yeah. Only two of us," said Ray, significantly.

A few moments later they both had their skates off but, oddly, they stayed in the car for some time without driving away.

***


Once back in the apartment, Ray dropped his skates automatically onto the floor. They landed on top of a pair of sneakers. Fraser let out a low groan. Ray shrugged.

"I didn't want to skate but I tried it for you," Ray pointed out.

Fraser considered the implications.

"Very well. For your sake, I'll try it once." So saying, he dropped his gym bag and hockey stick onto the pile of Ray's footwear, then straightened up like a man facing a painful ordeal and strode resolutely into the living room. There he paused and turned back towards the vestibule.

"Don't look back," Ray coached. "It'll be easier if you don't look back. Just come to the bedroom and I'll make you forget all about shoes."