"'Kay, Fraser. I'll be there soon."
Stanley Raymond Kowalski, aka Ray Vecchio, closed his cell phone as he waited impatiently for the light to change to green. When it did so, he smoothly dropped the GTO into the free-flowing traffic. Today was the first day back at work for both of them; he didn't know about Fraser but he'd been going stir crazy all day yesterday. He wanted to get back to work... back to normality.
He grinned softly at that thought. Normality had gone out of the window the day he'd met the Mountie. Didn't look like it was going to be back in his life any time soon. The amazing thing was, he didn't care.
Twenty minutes later, he pulled up outside the Canadian Consulate and waited. Immaculate as always, Fraser came jogging down the steps and walked briskly along the pathway towards the idling car and his waiting partner. Diefenbaker showed his usual enthusiasm on seeing his master's second partner and bounded towards the car. He bounced and barked, yelling in 'wolf' for Fraser to get a move on.
The Mountie opened the rear door of the car to allow the wolf to pounce inside while muttering under his breath about the many bad habits that said wolf had picked up in his time in Chicago. Another long-suffering sigh escaped Fraser's lips as he watched his best friend surreptitiously feeding a donut to the salivating and happy wolf.
"Oh, come on, Fraser. It's just one little donut," said Ray with a grin on his face, winking to the wolf as he did so. He bit back a chuckle as Fraser just looked at him and sighed. The Mountie had exasperation at them down to an art form.
Benton Fraser had to fight to hide a grin at the sight of his partner. His hair looked tousled, his eyes were sparkling, he was dressed in his usual comfortable sweatshirt and jeans... and he was practically bouncing in his seat. Yes, Ray was definitely ready to get back to work. To be honest, so was he.
They had arrived back from their ordeal on and below Lake Michigan a little over forty-eight hours ago. Inspector Thatcher and Lieutenant Welsh had sent them straight home stating that the initial paperwork would be handled at the Consulate the next day. Glaring fondly at his most exasperating detective, Lieutenant Welsh had issued a strict order that Vecchio was not to set foot in the precinct for forty-eight hours.
Initially both Fraser and Ray had readily agreed; after all, they had had a busy and emotionally draining couple of days. Ray had only had one major concern, easily remedied by Welsh - the GTO that had been left sitting at the docks. It was his pride and joy, one of the few good memories he had of his stormy relationship with his dad. The lieutenant had given him a reassuring smile promising to take care of it.
That taken care of, Ray had turned to the Mountie with a quiet, shy smile on his face and said, "See 'ya later, Fraser." Watching curiously, their respective commanding officers had seen Fraser give a smile of his own before muttering a quiet goodbye of his own; their eyes had said so much more. Thatcher and Welsh had given quiet, relieved sighs. They had been an indication of relief, one that he and Ray both shared; their partnership - which had been faltering - had been restored better than before. Well, it hadn't really been the partnership... the trust in the other had still been there. Each had known that the other would give their life to protect their partner... it had been the communication between them that had been in danger of breaking down. The one thing that this case had shown to them, though - through the sinking, the submarine escape, and the assault against the criminals, was that their version of communication worked just fine.
"Yo, Fraser. You with me?" asked a concerned Ray.
Fraser dragged his attention back to the here and now and realised that they had arrived at the precinct. Quickly getting of the car and straightening his Stetson, Fraser said, "Always, Ray."
That instinctive response brought a smile of shy pleasure to his partner's face and Fraser smiled. It was nice to make Ray realise how special he was, how much he valued his friendship and it never took much; just a couple of words. Ray didn't need grand declarations of friendship - two or three words would do - as long as he felt the truth in them.
They made their way into the precinct and through to the detectives division. Silence and stares met their arrival and murmured conversations sprung up behind them. They remained completely oblivious to all this, with Ray teasing Fraser and the Mountie, as always, trying not to laugh at his partner's antics.
The silence finally penetrated their attention when everyone in the squad room stopped talking the minute they entered and stared at them with frank curiosity and not a little awe. Fraser maintained a stoic impression under this scrutiny. Ray's frame shifted nervously under all the attention.
Francesca Vecchio chose that moment to walk in carrying a cup of coffee. She smiled at the pair and said, "Hey you, two. It's about time you got back to work!"
"Hey, Frannie," "Hello, Francesca," replied the pair.
She smiled at them and glared at the rest of the squad room. "What? Suddenly you've no work to do?"
The other personnel started nervously, through guilty glances at the Lieutenant's office and hastily got back to work.
Lieutenant Harding Welsh lifted his shoulder from the doorframe of his office; he nodded a greeting to his returning detective and the Mountie and retreated back to his desk.
Get used to it, gentlemen. It's going to be the reaction you get for the next couple of days. Pirates, toxic dumping, one hundred million dollars in gold bullion... You two don't do things half way. They're impressed. Hell, I'm impressed! Your cases are the source of gossip around the break room. The rest of them have cases to solve. You have adventures.
His gaze rested for a moment on the pair who were wading through the paperwork that was the result of their latest escapade. Fraser was patiently assisting his partner while Ray did his usual grousing. A typical first morning back at work after one of their adventures. Welsh smiled. His precinct was once again running smoothly. The strays were back in the fold.