Rating: G
Pairing: none
Thanks: Thanks to mergatrude for read-through
Notes: For the Diary challenge on ds_flashfiction

The New Guy

by china_shop

The new guy was trying way too hard to fit in. He dressed exactly like Vecchio — fancy suit, ugly tie. Of course, none of that made him look like Vecchio — not with all that dirty blond hair sticking up all over the place. He cornered Jack at his desk. "What about this guy, the Mountie guy — Fraser?" he asked, glancing around to make sure no one was listening. "What's he like?"

"What's Fraser like?" Jack rested his elbows on his desk and pondered the question for a long moment. "He's got a hat. He wears a lot of red."

The new guy nodded intensely, his eyes swimming behind his black-framed glasses. "Red, uh-huh, okay. What else?"

"I don't know," said Jack. He'd fished a couple of scuba-diving drug runners out of the lake that morning and he still had water in his ears. It made him irritable. "Why don't you read Vecchio's— I mean 'your' diary and see what you said about him?"

"My diary?" Ray frowned. "Didn't, uh, didn't I get rid of all my stuff? You know— spring cleaning?"

"Well, yeah. 'You' got rid of all your stuff, but 'you' didn't have your diary to get rid of." Huey pursed his lips. "It's sort of— public property."

"Huh." Ray took his glasses off and tucked them into his breast pocket. "Public property, huh? How come?"

"Since we confiscated it," explained Huey.

Ray squinted down at Huey, and scratched his neck. "'We' who?"

"My old partner and me. I suppose now you're not yourself so much, you can have it back." He paused with his hand on his bottom drawer. "That's if you want it."

"Oh, yeah. I want it all right." Ray nodded rapidly. "Returned to its rightful owner, oh yeah."

"If you're sure." Huey bit back a grin, and handed over the worn black leather-bound book.

Ray grabbed it and darted off to his desk, where he settled down to study it like he was cramming for finals.

The next day, Jack was in the breakroom pouring himself a cup of coffee when Ray slouched in. He was wearing jeans, sneakers, and a grubby old sweatshirt, and he grunted as he pushed past to take a cup from the cupboard.

Jack raised his eyebrows. "What happened to your wardrobe, Vecchio? You look like you had an accident in a thrift store."

Ray pressed his lips together in a straight line, and grabbed the coffee straight out of Jack's hand. He poured a cup, drained it, and then poured another. Color seeped into his face as the caffeine hit his system.

Jack was still waiting. "Your clothes?"

"Oh." Ray looked down at his sweatshirt, then glanced up. "Did you ever read that diary?"

"Some of it," said Jack. "Why?"

"Ray— I mean, me. In the diary— I kept track of how many suits I ruined in dumpsters and sewers and dirty back alleys— not to mention the shoes! Dozens of pairs of shoes! I mean, I'm not saying I understand it, but me, I figure if I'm gonna follow someone through the stagnant pits of hell this fine city has to offer, I'm not gonna do it in my best duds, you know?"

Jack smirked, and sipped his coffee.

Ray got a stubborn look about his mouth, and rambled on, half talking to himself now. "I mean, not that I'm gonna follow the Mountie up hill and down dale. That's not how a partnership works, right? You got to give and take— lead and follow, back and forth. I know that. But it sounds like this Fraser guy is kinda queer, kinda accident prone or something. From, uh, my diary, I get that impression. And I only got two good suits."

"Fair enough," said Jack. "But what about your cover?"

"I guess I gotta clear it with Welsh." Ray emptied his dregs into the sink, dumped his cup on the draining board, and squared his shoulders. "You know what else I found out about the Mountie from the diary?"

"What?" asked Jack. He'd had the diary in his desk drawer for months, but he'd never gotten past entry number three— Vecchio's prose style wasn't exactly Dick Francis.

Ray's eyes flicked to the doorway, then back to Jack's face. He licked his teeth. "Uh, nothing. Nothing. I gotta—" He waved his hand at the door. "—go read case files. Get a handle on things. See you later."

But when Jack came into the bullpen a few moments later, the pile of case files was still in Ray's in-tray, and Ray's head was bent over the black leather book. Jack was about to go over to tease him about it, when something changed in the tense angle of Ray's neck, making him take a step back instead. Jack narrowed his eyes and watched as a flush spread across Ray's neck.

Ray thumbed back a few pages and scanned down the page. His eyes widened, and he flicked forward again. Without looking, he groped for a pencil from his pencil cup, and stuck it in his mouth. "Huh," he said around the pencil, and he raised his head and glanced around like he was looking for someone to read a section to.

Jack hastily turned away and sipped his coffee. The Mountie was the weirdest guy on the face of the planet — God only knew what Vecchio had written about him. Jack figured he was better off not knowing: it was the new guy's problem now. Jack sat down and opened the Charlemagne case file, then sneaked another look at Ray. He was absorbed in Vecchio's ugly scrawl, drumming the pencil absent-mindedly against the desk. His hair stuck up like a cockatoo's crest.

Jack grinned. Yeah, it was definitely going to be fun times watching Fraser and the new guy figure each other out. Jack leaned back in his chair and settled in to enjoy the show.

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