Queenie

By Julesmonster

Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.

A/N: Just a short one-shot. I was filled with ideas of what might happen to Fraser and Ray after they left for their quest and this idea just sort of demanded to be written. I hope you like it! Jules

FKFKFKFKFK

I shoulda known that it wouldn't be as easy as just sledding off into the sunset. Or sunrise. I shoulda realized that politics and politicians were the same no matter if you're in the good old US of A or Canada. They just wanted to get their names in the papers and fuck what the schlubs who actually risked their necks to save the day wanted.

We only got three days out on the ice before they came looking for us. It was really weird. We were out in the middle of this vast ice field with nothing for miles when we heard a low flying plane. The big jumbo jets weren't that unusual seeing as how they used the arctic as a shortcut to get from North America to Europe, or so Fraser said. But this was a military plane and it was flying much lower than the commercial planes we had seen.

And then the plane started dropping shit with parachutes billowing out behind to slow the descent. We watched it all with fascination. But Fraser wasn't happy just watching at a distance. ("Ray, they might need our assistance.") So we mushed the dogs in that direction and soon found out what exactly the plane had dropped. There were about a dozen men in white military gear, a half dozen snow mobiles, and a couple sleds filled with supplies that could be hitched to the back of the snowmobiles.

"Corporal Fraser? Detective Kowalski?" one of the guys in white asked as Fraser pulled the dogs to a halt nearby.

"Yes?" Fraser said with all that uptight Mountie politeness he's so good at.

"Your presence is requested in Ottawa," the man said. "We're here to escort you back. Two of our team will take the dogs and sled back to Sergeant Frobisher and you will accompany us."

"Now wait just a goddamn minute," I protested. "We're not just going to drop everything just to go play nice with the politicians. We're on vacation."

"I don't think you understand," the guy said and he looked rather shocked that I might not just wanna go with him. "The Prime Minister and the Queen herself have requested your presence."

The Queen? I saw Fraser's face and knew I was totally screwed. There was no way in hell he was going to pass up an opportunity to have tea with the Queen.

But he surprised me. "We don't have to go, Ray," Fraser told me, but I could hear the longing in his voice. It was like me passing up the chance to meet Mick Jagger or Steve McQueen or something.

I sighed. "Fine, we'll go to Ottawa."

It took a couple days to get back, though a lot less time than it would have if we hadn't been with a bunch of military yahoos. I could see why most of the RCMP detachments used them instead of sleds these days. They were faster and cheaper to keep up. Plus, they could pull more. Though Fraser insisted that dogs were better for knowing the terrain, and he claimed to have outrun a bunch of baddies once. Knowing him, he must have, 'cause he don't lie about shit like that. Dief, of course, agreed with Fraser and looked quite smug about it too.

Anyway, they took us to the nearest military base and then flew us to Edmonton and then on to Ottawa. They put us up at some fancy hotel and some uptight guy who was the assistant to the assistant to someone important came to brief us, though he watched Dief nervously the entire time. We were to meet with the Queen, who happened to be in the country when the story broke about the Russian sub we got back from Muldoon, and she wanted to thank us in person. Huh.

At any rate, the uptight assistant to the assistant important guy made sure that Fraser was fitted for a nice new red uniform and then made me stand in as a pincushion for the tailor so that I could have a nice new suit, too. Then we were told to stick around the hotel. Apparently, the reporters knew we were in town. Who knew that reporters even cared about a weird Chicago cop and a once-banished Mountie? Then again, when you foil terrorist plots, I guess they start to take notice.

So Fraser and me, we sat around that hotel room and waited. I got antsy, so Fraser called down to the desk for some cards and candy and we played poker for Smarties. 'Course I lost since I can't seem to keep from eating my winnings. That and because the freak Mountie is a shark or something.

The next day, dressed up in our fancy new duds, Fraser and me were escorted to the Prime Minister's office. Dief was pouting back at the hotel because the very uptight assistant to the assistant important guy told him that dogs were not allowed to see the Queen and when Dief would have argued, Fraser told him that neither were wolves or half-wolves. Furface was really pissed and Fraser and me both figured we had a week of pouting coming our way.

At the Prime's office, there was a tea tray all set up and once the polite introductions were done—and I didn't muck it up because the extremely uptight assistant to the assistant important guy had already made sure I knew what to say and what not to say to the Queen—we all sat and had tea. Queenie didn't say much, and I think Fraser must have been in shock because he didn't say much either. But the Prime guy and I had a pretty good chat about Chicago and baseball and what I thought of the Territories in the little time I actually got to be there.

Then Queenie said something that made me sit up and really think. She said, "The Canadian government is truly in your debt, as are we. Is there anything we can do for you?"

Fraser was about to spout some polite denial, but I kicked him before he could say anything. "As a matter of fact, I think there is."

"Please, tell us," Prime said politely, though I could tell that his opinion of me dropped like a mile. I couldn't blame him. I was a brash American and we brash Americans usually try to take advantage of every situation. It's like in the Constitution or something. So there I was, having done something seemingly selfless by following Fraser to hell and back, now I was trying to use it to my advantage. They probably thought I was going to ask for the crown jewels or something. But that's D-U-M dumb, because what do I want with a bunch of jewelry?

"Okay, see the thing is, me and Fraser are partners," I said. "And he's spent the last four years in Chicago, but he can't be happy there. There's not enough snow or polar bears or something. So the RCMP is all over letting him pick his post after everything with Muldoon, but if he comes back to Canada, that's it for our partnership, you know?"

"I believe I understand so far," Prime said. Her majesty just blinked at me.

"So I don't want to break up the duet we got going," I said. "'Cause we're good together or else we wouldn't have gotten Muldoon and a bunch of other baddies. But I don't want Fraser to give up his shot to go home neither."

"Did you have a solution in mind?" Prime asked.

"Well, I know I can't be a Mountie, 'cause I'm too old for Depot and I'm not Canadian," I said. "But I could be Canadian if you said it was okay or something. And maybe I could work with Fraser if you told the RCMP that it would be okay. Liaise or something like Fraser did in Chicago. Only I'd need a paycheck 'cause no way the CPD 's gonna keep paying my bills while I work in the back of beyond."

Fraser was the first one to break the silence that fell over the room after my speech. "You would willingly leave Chicago?"

I grinned at him. "Sure, Frase. That's what buddies do."

Fraser smiled back at me. "Understood."

"Detective Kowalski," Queenie said, interrupting our little guy moment. But I didn't mind too much once I heard what she had to say. "Your loyalty to your friend is most commendable and you have proven to be of great service to this nation. We would be honored to have you as one of our subjects."

I didn't say nothing about her using we instead of I—'cause even I know that's wrong grammar and shit—but mostly because Fraser gave me one of those looks. The one that says he'll explain later. Besides, I was pretty busy thinking that I'd be a subject. Huh. Americans fought a whole war not to be subjects anymore, but here I was volunteering. Then again, the Canadians didn't seem overly upset by the whole subjects thing, so why should I?

"I shall see to the arrangements myself," Prime told us.

"I'll need a license to carry a gun," I warned him. "Fraser may have been crazy enough to fight the bad guys for four years without one, but I'm not that crazy yet. Give me a few years in the artic and I might get there, but I ain't there yet."

Prime actually smiled at that and told me that he would make sure I was able to carry a weapon. The tea was gone by that point and the way-too-uptight assistant to the assistant important guy—maybe the important guy was Prime? but that still didn't tell me who the assistant important guy was—ushered us out of the room and back to the waiting car.

We had to stick around town for a few days. Partly so that Prime had time to get everything straight and partly because there was some big fancy dinner that they wanted us to attend so they could pin medals on us. I let Fraser show me around the city some, and it was pretty interesting stuff. I never got how different Canadian history was from what we got in elementary school.

We went to the dinner and we met all kinds of important guys and women. Most were politicians, so they weren't very interesting. Some were Canadian celebrities, but I'd never heard of them. Mostly I just stood back and let Fraser do the talking. Now that he wasn't awed into silence by the Queen, he was his usual charming Mountie self. And once we ate the food, we were called up to get those medals pinned on us. And since Prime got my paperwork through in record time, they did the whole swearing in as a citizen thing right there too. I had to bow to the Queen, but it was cool because even Prime bowed to her.

FKFKFKFKFK

The next morning, Fraser and I sat down with the head honcho for the RCMP and another assistant guy—though this one reminded me of Turnbull—to discuss where in Canada we'd like to be stationed. Apparently, when Queenie and Prime say you're going to be liaising, everyone sits up and takes notice. So, the RCMP had to figure out where to send the two of us together. And since they already told Fraser he could pick his spot, they had to keep that promise, too.

"I know you want the Northwest Territories," I said to Fraser. "But could we make it a little further south than Inuvik? I'd like to see some seasons and I'd really miss the trees. We can still go up north for our adventure or something."

"I suppose that isn't too much to ask for considering what you have given up in order to continue our partnership," Fraser conceded. "Are there any suitable posts in the lower portions of the Northwest Territories? Or perhaps the Yukon?"

For the next hour we went over the possibilities. Most were pretty small places without much more than a couple hundred people in residence. Apparently, not many people wanted to take those posts, since there seemed to be quite a few vacancies.

We ended up choosing Watson Lake in the Yukon. It was a somewhat large town for the territory, but really small by my standards. There were only about 1,500 permanent residents. But, it was on the Alaska Highway and saw a lot of visitors in the warmer months. And since it was on the lower edge of the subarctic climate, there definitely were seasons. It didn't even go completely dark in December, something I could totally get behind.

The town was actually pretty cool from what I could find on the internet later on. There were restaurants and motels. There was skiing nearby, though I didn't really ski. It got cold enough in the winter to allow for dog sleds and snowmobiles and warm enough in the summer to actually have a water slide at one of the town parks. There was even a really great museum about the Northern Lights and I knew that Fraser was gonna make me go there.

"Since there's really no way that we can reschedule our adventure now, we ought to consider a trip back to Chicago," Fraser suggested when we left the RCMP meeting.

"Yeah," I sighed. I wasn't looking forward to telling my parents about the move. "But the cool thing about Watson Lake is that a lot of old people take their RVs up there in the summer. My mom's talked about doing that for years, and now she'll have an excuse to do it."

"You will also have to speak with Lieutenant Welsh," Fraser reminded me. Another conversation I was not looking forward to having. "I believe that you are officially still on leave?"

"For another month," I agreed. "But yeah, he should know so he can fill my spot. And I gotta pack up the apartment. Maybe we should find a place in Watson first, so we'll know what we need to ship up here and what to sell."

Fraser knew I was looking for an excuse to put off going back, but he couldn't argue that my suggestion was logical. So, the next morning, we packed up what little gear we had—after all, we'd left Chicago with only the clothes on our backs and had only bought enough to keep us going on our adventure and most of that went with the military boys who took the sled back to Buck—and headed to Whitehorse. Once there, I put down a bit of cash to buy a used Jeep Grand Cherokee and we hit the road. It was a six hour drive, but it was cheaper than trying to charter a flight. Air access was limited because most people simply drove what they considered a short distance up there.

When we hit town, I was glad that it wasn't the height of tourist season, because it was rather simple to find a hotel room. And it didn't take long to suss out a real estate broker.

Three days of looking and we found the perfect place. It was a little ways outside of town, but not so far that I felt completely isolated. The place was more of a cabin than a house, but it was a lot nicer than anything Fraser would have gotten on his own, I can tell you. But since the Canadian government had a bounty out for Muldoon, I got a nice little gift from them—Fraser couldn't get the money because he's a Mountie—to use to pay for the place and Fraser couldn't really object. It a good sized chunk of change, and since they did us all those favors already I felt sort of bad taking it, but they insisted and it was enough to pay for the house and buy the jeep, with a little left over to go into the retirement fund.

The cabin was an A-frame according to Fraser, and I guess I could see how it would be called that. To me, it looked like a big old triangle. The steep roof line helped keep the snow from piling up too much, Fraser told me. The place actually looked pretty cool inside. The first floor had the big living space with a kitchen right there. Behind that, there was the master bedroom and bathroom, a study and a utility room. Then, upstairs, there were two more bedrooms. But the cool thing was that we could completely close off the upstairs if we wanted to save on heat in the winter, but still have room if my folks wanted to come visit, or Maggie wanted to come down.

There was an outbuilding, too. It was big enough to park the jeep plus keep a snowmobile or two. And the property sat on about fifteen acres of woodland so Dief would have tons of room to run around and get into trouble.

We signed the paperwork together—there was never any question in my mind that we'd be sharing the place—and then Fraser insisted that we go back to Chicago. Though Dief was still pissy about the whole Queen snub, there was no way he was gonna pass up the chance to get donuts from Marie's Bakery one last time, not to mention real Chicago pizza, even if it meant spending 24 hours in quarantine.

And so off to Chicago we went. The hardest part of the whole trip turned out not to be telling my mom or Welsh. The hardest part turned out to be selling the Goat. Man I loved that car, but she just wasn't built for winters in the Yukon. Then, I had to give turtle away, though Fraser assured me that we could certainly find a turtle in Whitehorse if I wanted another. I shrugged and decided that it wouldn't be the same. Besides, I'd have Fraser and Dief. The turtle was only there because I was lonely after Stella kicked me to the curb.

My folks were surprisingly excited at the prospect of a road trip to the Yukon. They promised to come up that summer. They told me that they had decided to head back south next winter anyway, so it wasn't like I was deserting them.

Welsh looked like he expected my resignation when I handed it in. I guess maybe not many people were surprised by me following Fraser north. I mean, we're a duet. Everybody at the 2-7 knew it.

Frannie looked slightly depressed when she found out, but she wasn't surprised that Fraser wanted to go home. We had dinner at Ma Vecchio's that night and got to say goodbye to the whole bunch. The only ones missing were the other Ray and Stella. But I'd talked to Stella and Fraser'd talked to Ray and they had both wished us luck, so we were all good.

My folks insisted on helping to pack up my place, which was sort of nice if a bit weird to have my mother packing my underwear drawer. Most of my summer clothes went to the thrift store down the road, as did a lot of the furniture. Most of it was old and worn down and it wasn't worth the cost to have it shipped. We'd stop in Whitehorse and order new furniture on the way back through.

It took less than a week to get my stuff packed up and less than an hour to get Fraser's stuff together. And finally, we were on our way back north, to our new life.

FKFKFKFKFK

I'm not sure when it became standard procedure for me and Fraser to share a bed, but somewhere along the line it had happened. I guess it was in the tents when we were after Muldoon. Then we were on the adventure and there was one tent to share. By the time they took us to Ottawa, it felt like we had always slept side by side. The first night, we tried to use the two beds available in our hotel room, but neither of us could sleep, so I gave up and crawled into Fraser's bed and he pulled the covers back to welcome me. So it wasn't just me, you know?

So when we bought the cabin, I think we both just sort of assumed that we'd share still and that's what we did. The first two weeks, we slept on bedrolls because the furniture took time to be delivered but we still slept right up next to each other. And when the furniture came, we shared the big bed in the master bedroom. It was like we were an old married couple who was past the need to for sex. But we'd never had the sex part at all, and I'm pretty sure I'll be dead before I get past the needing sex part. I mean, me and Stella were still thumping like bunnies up to the very end. Even when nothing else worked in our marriage, that did.

So this weird in between thing me and Fraser had going was starting to get to me after a while. It made me jumpy and nervous like you wouldn't believe. Ray Kowalski not getting sex is not a good thing. Not good at all, really. See I get cranky when I'm not getting any. But not only wasn't I getting any but I was sharing body heat with a hunky Mountie every night and not getting any.

So of course I gotta blow up at somebody. Back in Chicago I woulda just kicked some heads in or beaten up the punching bag at the gym. But Watson Lake doesn't got a gym and after almost a month on the job I figured out there aren't many baddies to kick in the head. And the few we got aren't bad enough to warrant it. So the pressure built.

Now, you gotta picture life in an RCMP detachment. It ain't like a Chicago precinct in any way. And of course Fraser felt the need to go over every rule and regulation with me in the first week on the job together. Annoying as shit, that was. But we're buddies and I get that this is important stuff so I listened as best I could considering I wasn't getting any. But I guess I didn't listen good enough.

Not every Mountie is crazy like Fraser and Turnbull. Sure they were weird, especially the ones out in the back of beyond, but not freaky like Fraser. Take Sergeant Grace for example. He was our boss at the detachment but he was nowhere near as uptight as Fraser. Maybe it was because he'd been stationed there for twenty years and was only two years from retirement. But I think Fraser was just being snippy 'cause he wasn't getting any either.

And because he's a freak.

So we were out chasing down leads on a missing load of equipment for one of the mines nearby. It was pretty routine stuff compared to some of the shit we got up to before. But I pressed the shipping clerk a little harder than Fraser liked. I didn't even threaten the little weasel even though my gut was telling me he knew more than he was letting on. Anyway, when we left the mine office, Fraser laid into me like I'd actually kicked the guy in the head instead of just—what's-it?—metaphorically.

He went on and on about how we had to live in close contact with these people and were representing the Mounties. I argued with him about not letting people off just because they lived down the road. The entire trip back to town was spent fighting. It was kinda like that day by the lake when I punched him. But this time I really didn't want to hit him. We checked back in at the detachment and clocked out for the day before heading back home. We argued the whole way there too. Until finally, as we stepped into the front door of the cabin, I just lost it completely.

I just wanted to shut him up, so I pushed him up against the closed door and kissed him hard, right on the mouth.

Well, that certainly shut him up.

And it settled the whole not getting any problem. When we went to bed that night, it wasn't on opposite sides of the bed and neither of us was wearing clothes of any sort. In fact our clothes ended up all over the room, much to Fraser's dismay come morning. But he had a teasing glint in his eyes as he scolded me for leaving my clothes lying around. I chose not to point out that he was the one who had tossed my shirt on the floor. I was, after all, in a pretty forgiving mood.

FKFKFKFKFK

It turned out that the shipping clerk—John Rainier—was up to his neck in the missing equipment case. He and a couple friends had taken the equipment to try and hunt for gold. The whole scheme blew up in their faces, literally, a few days after that interview. They were messing around with explosives and nearly blasted their own heads off. By then, of course, Fraser was on board with my hunch and we were on our way to check out the property where John and his pals were known to hang out. We pulled up just in time to drag them from the wreckage of their failed attempt at mining and get them to the small hospital on town.

It still amazes me how stupid the bad guys are sometimes. They deserve a kick in the head just for being D-U-M dumb. These three kids really thought they could find gold in them thar hills just because they saw some fool's gold glittering on the ground. The land they were hunting on had been mined out decades ago. But they were stupid kids. They would have made more trying to sell the equipment on the black market.

We got the equipment back for the mine and Sergeant Grace was pleased, so it wasn't a bad turnout, I guess.

There were a couple cases of poaching and a few petty crimes over the next couple weeks. By then summer was in full swing. And I use the term summer loosely. The hottest it got up there was 28 degrees Celsius—Fraser said that was about 82 in American—but most days were around 20-22 degrees—or 68-72 degrees American.

And of course, my folks showed up right in the middle of July. Luckily, we had the guest room set up for them. Unluckily, I was pretty sure my dad would have a stroke if he knew me and Fraser were sharing a bed, even if my mom hinted a few times that she suspected, so I moved up to the second floor for the week they were in town. I took a few days off to show them a little bit of the area and it was a good visit overall. I still couldn't help but be relieved when they left.

"I missed you," I told Fraser that night in bed.

He could have pointed out that it was my choice to keep my folks in the dark about us, but he just smiled and kissed me instead.

See, that's just the kinda guy Fraser is. He gives and gives and he understands even when I'm being completely selfish. I felt like a heal for staying up in the extra bedroom. I felt like a heal for hiding our relationship. Because the truth was that I loved the guy and I wasn't really ashamed of that. I'd take out an ad in the paper if Fraser wasn't so big on keeping his private life private. But I couldn't tell my folks. I couldn't take the chance that my dad would up and disown me again. And Fraser got that. I think he got it even better than me. He didn't have his dad at all and then he died and Fraser kinda got to know him through his journals. And I think Fraser would give anything to have something with his old man. So he wasn't gonna do anything to ruin my chances with mine.

Still, that didn't change the fact that I felt like a heal.

FKFKFKFKFK

My first winter in Watson Lake wasn't what you would call exciting. There was snow and more snow. There were poachers and one lost skier. And that was about it. Kinda boring, really.

See the thing about snow is, when you're out in it and fighting for your survival, it's kinda cool and beautiful. It's you against nature. And if you're in Chicago, snow is just a dirty nuisance. But when you're toasty warm and stuck inside a cabin for days at a time, it's kinda mind-numbing. Then again, being stuck with Fraser did have its benefits. We had more time for "getting to know each other." That's what Fraser called it, at any rate. I just call it wild monkey sex. 'Cause when the snow is blinding, even a Mountie stays inside unless there's a real emergency. And Watson Lake didn't really have a lot of real emergencies.

Even without being in the artic, we were still pretty far north and winter was a lot longer there than in Chicago. And there was more snow than I'd ever seen before. I mean, being out on the ice was one thing, but up there I never really saw it fall and start to accumulate and build up like I did in Watson Lake. One storm the drifts covered both doors to the cabin and it took us two days to dig out. Of course, that didn't stop Fraser from dragging me onto the back of a snowmobile and hightailing it into town to check things out as soon as we could step outside those doors. Never mind that we had a perfectly good radio, or that the Sergeant had said he'd call us if he needed us.

I suppose it was a good thing he did, since we ended up helping a few of the older folks in town dig out. One old lady even kissed my cheek.

From before Halloween all the way through April, there wasn't a time we didn't have snow on the ground. Fraser said we got more than 200 cm of snow that winter. That's about 79 inches American. That's more than twice what we usually got in Chicago. I always thought that Chicago had more than enough snow, but this was twice that. So that first winter was boring.

But then spring hit and it was like the bad guys finally figured out where Fraser went and they all seemed to show up. Sometimes I think they want to get caught and just throw themselves across his path to get it over quick. Sometimes I think he's got some sort of magnet in him that only attracts criminals. Whatever it is that draws trouble to Fraser, it went back into effect while the snow was still melting.

Between April and June, we met up with no less than fifty bad guys. First was a gang of smugglers that were trying to move weapons from Russia to the US by way of Alaska and Canada. We caught all twenty-one of them when their caravan of trucks got stuck in a mud slide. Who knew that melting snow was a crime deterrent? Anyway, we got our names in the papers again and Fraser got another promotion from that one. And when Sergeant Grace retired at the end of April, Sergeant Benton Fraser took over. I admit I was pretty dang proud of him.

After the smugglers, there were more poachers, but these poachers weren't just hunting where they shouldn't be. These poachers were going after whole herds of elk and caribou with automatic weapons and then selling the parts in places like Asia. Weird stuff they'll buy over there. Who uses ground up caribou antlers for tea? Even Fraser has better taste than that.

Next up were the three brothers who were trying to blow up all the cell towers in the area because they thought technology was evil and were afraid that those Terminator movies were real. I was particularly pissed off with them, since I like my cell phone, thank you very much.

Then we had the convention of mob wise guys that came to the ski resort. It was the off season, so the resort was pretty happy to have paying guests. I don't think they counted on those guests being paid killers. (Who knew that the mafia even had conventions? I certainly didn't. What did they do, hold meetings to talk about the best ways to kill a guy without getting brain matter on your new pants?) But Fraser recognized a few of the faces from wanted posters when they drove through town and we quickly realized that there were nineteen hit men hanging out in our town. Every single one of them was wanted in both the US and Canada. Taking them into custody was tricky, since they were trained assassins, but Fraser and me got them when they were in the indoor pool and their guns were far away. Plus we brought about thirty Mounties with us.

And then there were the regular everyday criminals and rescue jobs. So spring was good.

FKFKFKFKFK

"It is hard to believe that it's been a whole year since we came to Watson Lake," I told Fraser one afternoon in June as we sat out on our porch and looked at the view. "I mean, it seems like just yesterday we were clinging to the wings of Muldoon's airplane. And then chasing after him and leaving for the quest. Then meeting with the Queen and all."

"It does seem like time has flown," Fraser said.

"Time flies when you're having fun," I said.

Fraser looked at me real intent like and I knew he was thinking about something big. "Are you truly having fun, Ray?"

"Of course I am," I told him. "I mean, sure I could pass on the long winter and heavy snow, but I figure you like it, so no biggie."

"Do you miss Chicago?" Fraser asked, still looking engrossed, like my answer meant something. I guess it did. Fraser was always concerned with how I felt about stuff.

"Sometimes," I said with a shrug. "I miss the Chinese food and the pizza delivery. I don't care what you say, Johnny Pearce does not make real pizza. He makes a pretty decent fake, but that ain't real pizza."

"Understood," Fraser said with a small smile.

"But yeah, overall, I don't think I miss Chicago all that much," I admitted. "My folks are gone now, back to Arizona to live near Steve and the kids. Stella is off playing happy families with Vecchio. Even Frannie has her own life now what with the kids and all. They've all moved on and there's nothing back there worth missing, really. 'Sides, I got you here, and I couldn't want much more."

Fraser seemed to sag with relief, even though he doesn't really sag. It was more, whatchya call it, subtle. Just the lines by his eyes softening and the tension in his shoulders lessening. "I'm glad Ray. I, too, am content as long as we are together."

I leaned a bit closer to Fraser and he took the hint and wrapped his arm around me. "Guess I should write a thank you note to the Queen or something. Don't think things would have worked out quite this good without her."

"I cannot say for sure if she would get it or not," Fraser said. "But that sounds like an excellent idea, Ray."

I hummed and watched the sun start to set. We were both quiet for a while until Dief showed up with a dead rabbit in his mouth. He plopped it down on the porch at our feet and then yipped at Fraser.

"I see that," Fraser said with a frown. "Yes, you have proved that you are still an adequate hunter, but care you prepared to actually eat your kill?"

Dief gave a disgusted snort and I held back a laugh. This had been an ongoing argument for some months between the two.

"I thought not," Fraser said with some disdain. "In which case, you have killed unnecessarily and my point remains valid. You are a spoiled half-wolf entirely too dependent upon the kindness of your human companions."

"Why don't you dress the rabbit and I can make us a stew from it for dinner tomorrow," I suggested, trying to halt the ongoing battle before it could get heated. That was the deal we'd worked out: he gutted and cleaned anything he hunted and I cooked it 'cause I had no desire to see or touch anything that still looked like an animal.

My distraction tactic didn't work, but I was okay with that. There was something comforting about listening to the two of them bicker. As I went inside and left them to their argument, I thought about my life with Fraser and decided that I wouldn't change a thing. For all the freakishness and all the crazy things that happened, being with Fraser was the best life a man could get. And that was true whether we were in Chicago or Watson Lake or the ice fields further north.

I pulled out some of Fraser fancy stationary from the desk and grabbed his fancy pen. I thought for a moment about what I wanted to say and then began to write.

Dear Queen,

I know this is a little late, but I just wanted to thank you for the tea and the help last year. Being able to set up a life with Fraser is the best reward you could have given me. So, yeah, thanks for that.

Long live the Queen and all that stuff.

Sincerely,

S. Raymond Kowalski

PS. Maybe, if you're still feeling at all grateful or whatever, you might see what you could do about getting same-sex marriage laws passed? Thanks again!

I folded up the letter and sealed it in an envelope before Fraser could read it. No need to give the guy hope if nothing was gonna come from it. But somehow I got the feeling that Queenie might just help out this time too. In my head, I started planning just what kind of wedding Fraser and I would have.

The End