Thanks: Thanks to mergatrude for beta
Notes: For Sionn in ds_con_envy 2009
"Hey, Vecchio," Kowalski called softly down the hall from the bedroom. "C'mere."
Ray shook his head and tried to suppress a grin. "What, you can't wait till Benny's finished bathing Dief?" he said. "You got some kind of urgent condition that means your dick'll fall off if you don't—" He stopped when he got to the doorway and saw that Kowalski was not only dressed, he also looked deadly serious. He was studying Fraser's uniform on its hanger. "What is it?"
Kowalski's fingers hovered over the serge, and for a split second Ray thought blood and Christ, I'll kill Fraser if he got hurt and didn't tell us. But then Kowalski held up a long thin pine needle, and Ray blinked and re-focused.
"Ah, shit." Fraser wasn't physically hurt — he was homesick.
There was a faint bark from the bathroom and the slurp of water going down the plughole.
"That smells— exotic." Fraser came into the kitchen, where Ray was fixing dinner. "Gorgonzola?"
Ray nodded. "Yeah, Benny. Moose hock wrapped in boar's tongue with a gorgonzola cheese sauce." He finished slicing a carrot, put down the knife and turned to kiss the surprise off Fraser's face. "Thought you might want a little taste of home for your birthday, so I called Frobisher and got a genuine Canadian recipe."
"That's— that's very thoughtful of you, Ray." Fraser's eyes were still wide, but his smile was warm.
"Yeah, you have no idea how hard it is to find a wild boar's tongue in the greater Chicago area. I had to set Frannie on it." Ray shrugged. "It's gonna be worth it, right? Where's Kowalski?"
"He's taken Dief to the park." Fraser stood close behind him. Ray could feel breath on the back of his neck. "They'll be here shortly."
"Well, good, because Frobisher said if you overcook this, it turns into cardboard." There was a choking noise, and Ray glanced over his shoulder. "What?"
"Nothing at all." Fraser squeezed his shoulder. "I'm sure it'll be delicious. I'll change out of my uniform."
"Would you shut up?" Ray glared at Kowalski, who was trying and failing to stifle his laughter. "This isn't funny."
"Interestingly enough, comedic references to flatulence date back to Sumerian times," Fraser piped up, but Ray overrode him.
"You shut up, too, and eat." Ray pointed his fork at Fraser and chewed manfully on his mouthful of moose hock. "No one wants to hear about the Sumerians, okay, Benny? This was supposed to be a nice thoughtful gesture, maybe romantic. Not Benny Hill meets the Three Stooges."
"I'm sorry, Ray." Fraser did his best to look penitent for about a second and a half, before his direct link to the Discovery Channel started broadcasting through his mouth again. "Coincidentally, I was recently reading a book about cheese-making. Did you know that during the ageing process for gorgonzola cheese, metal rods are inserted—" There was a scuffling noise from under the table, and Fraser broke off, glanced at Kowalski and then Ray. "Understood."
"So," said Ray meaningfully. "How was your day?"
"As a matter of fact," said Fraser, "I wasn't going to mention this until I knew the figures involved, but—" He hesitated. "I'm expecting to come into some money shortly, and I was thinking perhaps we could all take a vacation."
Kowalski put down his fork. "You want to go to Canada."
Fraser smiled. "Yes, Ray. I thought we could go and visit Maggie for a week or two. My treat."
"For a week or two?" repeated Ray. "That's all?"
"What about the pine tree?" asked Kowalski, at the same time.
Fraser looked from Ray to Kowalski and back again. "Which pine tree?"
"The pine tree in the lobby of the Strattonger Building," said Ray. "You know, the place you go and mope when you're homesick."
"We found the evidence, Fraser," said Kowalski, "so don't deny it." He farted, but they all ignored it.
"Ah." Fraser tugged on his ear and did a terrible job of smothering his smile. "It's true, I was in the Strattonger Building the other day. But I wasn't moping, Ray." His smile faded to earnestness. "I don't mope. As a matter of fact, I was paying a visit to Wilkinson, Howard and Summerling. It seems that Tracey Jenkins has sold the rights to one of her songs to a film studio in Los Angeles, and as I contributed in some small way to the recording, she's arranged to pay me a share of the profits. She wouldn't take no for an answer."
"You couldn't have told us this sooner," Ray demanded, "instead of letting us worry about how you were hating Chicago and all set to pack up bags and leave us—"
"Your song's going to be in a movie?" interrupted Kowalski.
"It's hardly my song," said Fraser. He glanced at Ray, who suddenly remembered it was Fraser's birthday, and swallowed the rest of his recriminations. "Anyway, that's not important. This is a delicious meal, Ray, and it's very kind of you to have gone to the trouble. And I don't hate Chicago."
"You're not homesick?" Ray asked, just to be sure.
"Not in the least." Fraser met his gaze openly. "I'm remarkably content, as it happens."
Ray stared at him for a long moment, making sure he meant it, and then flung down his fork. "Then why the hell are we trying to eat this crap? Jesus Christ, this is a civilized country. We may not personally have a garbage disposal unit in this household, but that's no reason to put ourselves through gastronomic torture!"
Dief looked up from his place by the radiator.
"Who says we don't have a garbage disposal unit?" said Kowalski, grinning.
"That was a really stupid idea," Kowalski told Ray, fanning his face with his hand and grimacing.
"Yeah, well, it was your really stupid idea!" Ray retorted. "Open a window!"
Kowalski stuck his chin out but headed to the window. Meanwhile Ray and Fraser looked down at the sad spectacle of a cheese-bloated Dief.
Dief and Fraser farted in unison, and Ray rubbed his face and tried not to inhale. "This is not going according to plan."
"No kidding." Kowalski's eyes were watering and brimmed with mischief at the same time. "Switch to Plan B."
"If I could make a suggestion—" Fraser had his I'm having an idea face on, which since it normally led to one or both or all of them being threatened with guns, Ray instinctively ignored.
"It's Benny's birthday! I don't make backup plans for birthday celebrations," Ray told Kowalski.
"There's really only one thing for it," said Fraser, and then interrupted himself with a loud report. "I beg your pardon. We'll have to relocate."
"You want to go to Canada now?" Ray stared at him. "It's nearly nine o'clock, already. We have jobs to go to in the morning."
"No, no, no," said Fraser. "Nothing like that. I was merely suggesting we camp in the park tonight."
Kowalski clicked his fingers. "Campfire! Genius. You think that's safe, Fraser?"
Fraser grinned. "Methane is far less explosive when it's diffused. And if we don't get Dief out of doors quickly, we may all lose consciousness. Needs must."
Kowalski nodded, then grabbed Ray by the shoulders. "Relax, okay! It's fine. The smell's going to your head."
"Camping?" Ray said tiredly.
"It'll be fun," Kowalski told him.
Ray yawned and rolled up the packet with the last of the marshmallows. They'd sung songs and Fraser had told an Inuit story about a walrus, and then Ray had told them about the time Frannie locked him in the garage overnight and he saw the ghost of Mario Lanza. He shoved the marshmallows into the bottom of the rucksack, and Fraser poked the dying embers of their campfire.
"It's been a remarkable birthday," said Fraser. "Thank you both."
"It's not over yet," said Kowalski. "Hey, can you zip three sleeping bags together, or would that break the laws of physics?"
"Ray, this is a public park," said Fraser. "It would be highly irresponsible for us to indulge in—"
"Not if we're real quiet," interrupted Ray. "Who's gonna know? And we can set Dief on guard duty."
"Yeah," Kowalski agreed. "And we're outdoors, Fraser. The outdoors belong to everyone, remember?"
Ray leaned sideways and elbowed Fraser in the ribs. "What would be really irresponsible would be letting your birthday pass without all of us getting naked together."
But in the end they didn't get naked. They got Fraser to lie on his sleeping bag, in the middle of the tent, and Ray and Kowalski lay on either side, taking turns kissing him and groping him through his clothes. Kowalski put his hand down the front of Fraser's jeans and when Fraser opened his mouth to exclaim, Ray was right there, ready to kiss the words away before anyone could hear them.
And then Ray unbuckled Fraser's belt and unfastened his jeans, and he moved down Fraser's body and licked over and around Kowalski's fingers, where they were stroking up and down Fraser's dick. All of them kept as quiet as they could. The rustling of clothes and the sleeping bag and the tent blended with the harsh sounds of their breathing, and if Ray didn't think about the smell or the likelihood of bugs or winos, it was the hottest thing they'd done in months. Fraser's bitten off exclamations were like little jolts of electricity, shivering across Ray's skin, until Ray couldn't help but touch himself. He sucked Fraser and jerked himself off, and Kowalski was humping Fraser's thigh.
Then Fraser pulled up his sweater and shirt, and rubbed his own chest and stomach, and Kowalski took his hand off Fraser's dick so he could struggle out of his sweatshirt, and between the three of them they were pretty soon all tangled up and coming, skin and hands and come everywhere.
"Happy birthday, Fraser," said Kowalski sleepily, and then farted.
Fraser snorted with laughter, then met Ray's eye and said, seriously, "Thanks, both of you. It's certainly been a memorable evening."
"Oh yeah, this was a night to remember," said Ray. "I'll be sure to save the recipe and we can do it all over again next year."
"I've heard of worse traditions," Fraser said. "Old Hemlock MacDuff used to douse his children in fish sauce and castor oil every winter to ward off influenza. Jimmy MacDuff was in my class at school, and you could smell him coming several miles off. It certainly put paid to his dream of being a big game hunter—"
"I've got two things to say to that, Benny." Ray reached across him and ruffled Kowalski's hair, and then lay back and left his arm draped across Fraser's chest. "Number one, happy birthday." He gave Fraser a soft lingering kiss. "And number two, influenza or not, nothing on God's green earth is making me cook that recipe again. Not if my life depended on it."
As if to emphasize the point, an extended wolf fart sounded outside the tent. Ray laughed despite himself.
Fraser grinned. "That's probably a wise decision. Good night, Ray."
Ray tried to relax on the hard ground, and for a second it was like every sharp stone in the world was situated directly beneath Ray's body, but then he shifted his focus to the warm relaxed body lying next to him, and the contentment in Fraser's voice, and then the ground mysteriously softened. A few seconds later his eyelids got heavy. "Yeah, Benny. Good night to you, too."