Rating: PG
Pairing: Fraser/Kowalski
Thanks: Thanks and virtual Afghan bikkies to Miriam for beta
Notes: For the Anywhere But Here challenge on ds_flashfiction

Wellington

by china_shop


Ray looked out at the heavy horizontal rain. "Remind me what we're doing here again? In New Zealand." They were sitting in a café aptly, as far as Ray was concerned, called the Krazy Lounge.

"Ray, as I've reiterated several times, the New Zealand Government is currently debating whether or not to introduce legal recognition of same-sex relationships." Fraser leaned back in his chair. "Thank you kindly," he said, as a waitress set two long blacks down on the wood-topped table.

"Yeah, I know that. But what's it got to do with us? Huh?" Ray leaned forward. "It's not our country, Fraser. They're not our laws." Ray took a mouthful of coffee and scowled when it burned his tongue. "Besides, I know you. You uphold the law; you don't go trying to change it."

"Yes, well—" Fraser looked out the window at the people struggling against the gale force norwester. "Don't they look almost—Canadian to you?"

"What?" Ray squinted over Fraser's shoulder and tried to see what he was seeing. "I dunno. You think they're all caribou trackers and igloo architects?"

"The indigenous culture here—the Maori—are very similar to the Inuit in a number of significant ways," Fraser started, and Ray could tell by the stubborn set of his mouth, and the way he pushed his hat aside a few inches to make space for some descriptive folk tale type gestures, that this was going to be a long cup of coffee, and that Fraser was doing his best to make Ray forget the question. It had worked the other half dozen times: when Fraser had waved the tickets in Ray's face and announced they were taking a short vacation, and twice on the godawful long plane ride, and at the airport; in the cab and in the budget hotel room that Fraser had insisted they rent, despite Ray explaining that the exchange rate here meant they were practically gods. And now here.

Ray was jetlagged and cranky, and dammit, he wanted to know what was going on. "Shut up, Fraser."

"Ray!" Fraser frowned at the rudeness, and Ray could tell they were this close to the sort of low-grade bickering that would ruin their whole day.

"You can tell me later, Fraser. Tell me all about the New Zealand Inuit and their tribal customs, and the fucking Lord of the Rings. Later. Right now, would you please enlighten me—" Oh god, he sounded like Welsh; he hated when that happened. "—as to what we're doing here?"

Fraser considered him for a long moment, and then produced a brown paper bag holding a pair of large frosted chocolate cookies. "They're called Afghan biscuits," he said.

"And they have what to do with this?" Ray asked, trying for exaggerated patience, and just coming off snippy.

"Nothing, Ray. I just thought you could use something sweet to, ah, lighten your mood." Fraser was being super-bland, and god, he'd bought Ray a cookie that, hmmmm, was weirdly crunchy but tasted great. Ray couldn't help it: he gave in.

"I sorta love you, you know." He said it casual, like it didn't matter. Like it wasn't a miracle that he could say it at all. It made him feel happy and warm—the sugar-chocolate intake wasn't hurting any either—and he knew Fraser wasn't fooled by the throw-away tone.

Fraser's eyes lit up. "Yes, Ray. Precisely. That is what we'll tell the Justice and Electoral Select Committee tomorrow."

Ray groaned, resigned now. "You brought me all the way here to go to a committee meeting? Fine. Half-drown me, drag me through the arctic wastes, fuck me till I'm jello—" Yeah, yeah, he lowered his voice for that one. "— give me seaweed for dinner, make me like curling, teach me yoga, and then, to add insult to, uh, enlightenment, you drag me to the end of the earth to go to a committee meeting that will make my eyes explode from boredom." Ray sighed his deepest sigh. "Okay. Fine. I'll go. Whatever. I have nothing left, no pride, no dignity, no—"

"Ray." Fraser grabbed his hand as it gestured wildly and nearly whacked a passing goth chick in the torn fishnet tights. "Thank you."

"I just don't get why it matters to you, Fraser. I mean, New Zealand? It's just a little tiny island in the middle of nowhere." Ray waved his arms out at the street. "With lousy weather. There aren't enough people in this country to fill the Chicago Stadium."

"Actually, Ray, it's three islands: the North Island, the South Island, and Stewart Island. The first two may not be named with imagination nor style, but I assure you, the grandeur of the scenery more than makes up for—"

Ray looked out at the weather again. "Fraser, you're not taking me hiking, you hear?"

"I hear you, Ray. We'll present our Civil Union Bill submission to the committee and then, perhaps, visit Rotorua, famed for its active geothermal mudpools. We'll be back in Chicago by Friday."

Ray thought of the long plane flight. "I hate you," he declared. "Why are we here?"

Fraser went serious, and finally answered the question. "Because, Ray, it's easy for us. I know—" He raised his hands to stop Ray interrupting. "I know, it wasn't easy. When Francesca inadvertently told Welsh that she'd seen us—kissing, I was certain it would mean—that it would affect your career. And your parents, well, but they've adjusted, Ray. People have adjusted to us being together."

Ray nodded. It had been hard at first. Embarrassing, knowing that everyone knew he was a fag, that they were all wondering whether he was a top or bottom, like there were roles and rules and people just slotted into them neatly. It had made him furious and desperate and lonely, and it had made him spill tears on Fraser's shoulder more than once. But yeah, it was good now—they'd made it good, made people see. "And?"

"And it's because they know us that they've had the opportunity to adjust. When they see us together, when they see who we are for each other—" Fraser's smile more than made up for the plane flight and the weather. "—how much we care, then they understand why it's important to allow legal recognition, to revise their previously restrictive social structures, and—"

"So what you're saying," said Ray, his gaze locked with Fraser's, "is that our love can, like, change the world."

"I hope so, Ray." Fraser put his hands over Ray's and held them right there on the table. Ray looked around swiftly, but no-one was giving them a second glance. (Okay, there were maybe a couple of chicks in the corner who were looking over and smiling, but really, no-one else seemed to have even noticed.) "I believe it's worth the attempt."

Ray curled his hands up so their fingers were interleaved, and nodded. "Okay then. Operation Peace Love and Understanding. I'm in."

 


Miriam suggested I clarify that NZ is actually relatively progressive on GLB rights. In 1986 the Homosexual Law Reform Act was passed, legalising sex between men, and subsequently the Human Rights Act 1993 has made it unlawful to discriminate, either directly or indirectly, against a person on the grounds of their sexual orientation. A Relationships (Statutory References) Bill is likely to pass soon, which will give same-sex and de facto different-sex couples almost all the same rights as married couples. The Civil Union Bill, which would allow legal registration of same-sex partnerships, is also in the middle of the legislative process and will probably pass if we all keep our fingers crossed. *g*

Edited to add: It did! \o/

Also, it's not always raining.


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