Bugs and Thorns

by Basingstoke

Author's website: http://www.ravenswing.com/bas/

Author Notes: Thanks to #duesouth for poking me until I wrote this here story.

Bugs and Thorns.
by Basingstoke.

Basingstoke gets out her Ray and Fraser hand puppets and regards them.

Basingstoke wiggles her right hand. "Ray, I really don't think you should be doing that."

Basingstoke wiggles her left hand. "Fraser, do not tell me about carburetors."

<Basingstoke> um, cara, can you wiggle that toy car a little?

Cara wiggles the toy car a little.

Basingstoke shouts BOOOM and blows smoke out her nose.

Basingstoke gets the ray puppet all sooty.

Basingstoke wiggles her left hand. "Fraser, not one word."

Basingstoke wiggles her right hand. "I wasn't going to say anything, Ray..."


Ray slumped against the side of the car, wiping his hands with Fraser's handkerchief. "Okay, so now we're halfway to Oswego with no car."

Fraser coughed. "Well, technically, we're halfway back from Oswego..."

"FRASER!" Ray banged his fist against the door. Dief wuffed in protest.

"...but I see your point. No car." The corners of Fraser's eyes crinkled in a way that meant he was trying not to smile.

Ray looked down the road. "No traffic to wave the old badge at, and my cell phone is at the bottom of Lake Michigan."

"Superior, Ray."

Ray glared at Fraser, who looked far too innocent not to be teasing him. "Michigan! Superior! Too far to swim!"

"Didn't the department reimburse you for the loss?"

Ray stopped glaring. "Well, yeah."

Fraser raised his eyebrows. "Logically that would allow you to go and buy a new one."

"Uh, yeah." Ray looked down at the gravel by the road. "Radio Shack is having a sale next week."

"Ah. Very frugal."

"Yeah, frugal." Ray kicked the gravel.

"But unhelpful at the present moment."

Ray turned and kicked the tire.

Fraser was looking around; Ray couldn't imagine what Mr. Nature Guy was seeing. Ray just knew that they were on a two-lane highway which he had taken because he thought the traffic would be light--hardy ha ha, it sure was. There was gravel by the road giving way to tall grass and weeds and then scrubby trees. Beyond the trees were corn fields. Great big fields full of corn. Not a whole lot but corn between here and Chicago.

Fraser beamed and produced matches from his belt. "We could light a fire! It would be like a camping trip. Like the boy scouts."

Ray snorted. "I wasn't ever a scout."

"Well, I was, and I can teach you the songs in no time."

Ray looked at Fraser for a long, long moment, and then he got back in the car. He pulled the lever to lean the seat back some, thinking he might take a nap. Dief harumphed and scooted over.

He leaned back and rubbed Dief's head, watching Fraser roam over the clearing gathering brush and twigs. "Dief, did he not notice that it was raining when we drove out here?"

Dief made a growly noise.

"Figure he's a just a little nutty?"

Dief made a different growly noise.

"Right." Ray patted Dief and watched as Fraser scratched out a fire circle. Finally he sighed, gave in and got out of the car again. "Fraser."

"Yes, Ray?" Fraser looked up.

Ray shoved his hands in his jacket pocket. "Don't sing, okay?"

Fraser nodded. "Ah. What are your feelings on campfire stories?"

"Oh, I'm fine with those." Ray had actually never heard a campfire story, but he was fine with pretty much anything once. Twice if it was fun.

"Well then." Fraser lit a match and touched it to the damp wood, which immediately lit and started blazing away.

Go figure.

It was getting dark fast. The moon was hidden in the clouds and there weren't any street lights around. Dief whined and scratched at the window until Ray went to let him out of the car.

"No, we don't have anything to eat," Fraser told Dief. Dief sighed and settled down with his nose toward the fire.

Ray sat with his legs in a V, wiggling his ankles to shake out the driving cramps. Fraser was crouching over the fire when he suddenly cocked his head.

"Ray! Crickets!"

Ray blinked. "I hear them too, Fraser."

"Those are good eating."

Fraser took off his hat and crouched over the ground instead.

Ray pictured that dinner and his mouth twisted right up to his nose. "Fraser, I have never been that hungry ever in my life, nor will I be if I live to be a hundred without ever leaving this spot."

Fraser looked up and smiled. "It's only twenty miles, Ray. We can walk it quite easily if it comes to that."

Lunatic. Ray pointed at Fraser and then at the ground. "Sit."

Fraser sat.

Ray looked at the fire for a while, wiggling his ankles. Fraser sat cross-legged with his hands folded between his knees and his head tilted so that his hat shadowed his face.

Eventually, Dief began to snore. Ray frowned. "Does he always make that kind of racket?"

Fraser looked up. "I'm afraid so, yes."

"You ever think of taking him to a vet?"

"I tried, once." Fraser rubbed the back of his neck. "Only once."

"Dief said no?"


Dief rolled onto his back and the snores died down a little. Ray leaned back on his hands, safe in driving gloves, relishing the heat of the fire on the inside of his legs. Nice. Fraser was a handy guy to have around in a wilderness emergency.

Fraser clapped his hands. "How about a campfire story?"

"Knock yourself out." It was peaceful out there once Ray got used to it. The crickets were chirping like miniature car alarms. Somewhere in one of the corn fields, a dog was barking its head off, but it didn't seem to bother Dief.

It looked like Fraser's good mood had collapsed; he had his head tilted down again and was rubbing his thumbs together against his crossed boots. "There, ah..." His voice trailed off.

"Yeah?" Ray wiggled his ankles, waiting for Fraser to get his head together.

Fraser cleared his throat. "There once was a blue bumblebee who lived in Silver Meadow."

Blue bumblebee? "Never seen a blue bumblebee," Ray said.

Fraser looked up. "Well of course not, Ray, not in *Chicago,*" he said, and he smiled.

Ray grinned back.

"Anyway, each morning, all the bumblebees flew from one side of the meadow to the other, collecting pollen from the blue flowers and only the blue flowers. They only wanted the blue pollen to cover their blue bodies."

Blue bumblebees, and now blue pollen. "Blue flowers don't have blue pollen," Ray said.


Ray hushed.

"This particular blue bumblebee was a bumblebee who couldn't help noticing things, and one of the things he noticed was that there were a lot of red flowers in the meadow with a lot of red pollen. 'why can't we cover ourselves in the red pollen as well?' the bumblebee asked another bumblebee, a particular friend.

"'Because blue bumblebees aren't supposed to get into red pollen,' the other bumblebee said.

"'But why?' the first bumblebee asked, because he didn't understand.

"'Because our mothers told us so, and they are wise.'

"Now, that answer didn't satisfy the first bumblebee, who never listened to his mother. So the next morning, the bumblebee flew into a red flower to collect pollen."

Fraser paused. Ray shifted his weight on his elbows. "So? What happened?"

Fraser looked at Ray. "The red flowers had thorns in the middle. The bumblebee was caught and died. Their mothers were entirely correct."

Ray blinked. Fraser looked back into the fire.

"Fraser, that's not a very nice story." But as he said that, he thought of the stories his great-grandmother used to tell him before she died, like Little Red Riding Hood where the girl got eaten by the wolf at the end with no woodcutter around to help her out.

"I suppose it's not very nice," Fraser said, "but it's true nonetheless."

Ray frowned. "There are really blue bumblebees out there?"

Fraser looked up. "No, of course not." He stood up. "We need more wood. Just a tick."

And Fraser headed out into the night.

Damn. Wires crossed somewhere.

Ray shrugged and scooted around to lie on his side with his arm under his head. If he ignored the pokey gravel and the bugs, it wasn't a bad way to spend the night.

Ray had his eyes closed when he heard Fraser come back to the fire. He watched under his lashes as Fraser crouched again, feeding sticks into the fire.

When Fraser was satisfied with the blaze, he sat back down at Ray's feet. To Ray's amazement, he rested one hand on Ray's boot. Just kind of set it there, not grabbing or feeling, just like he was stacking up body parts at an arms and legs store.

Ray looked at Fraser's hand on his dusty boot and figured it out. "The story's about wanting stuff that's dangerous, right, Fraser?"

Fraser jumped. He grabbed back his hand like Ray was on fire. "Yes, Ray. Sometimes it's simply wiser to stay away."

Hah. He was a detective. He was detecting up a storm here. Ray pointed his toe and poked Fraser in the knee--at least he thought it was the knee; it was hard to tell through boots.

Then a mosquito bit Ray on the earlobe, making him jump up yelping. Fraser jumped up; Dief jumped up and barked, bouncing on his paws. Ray swatted at his ear until he really felt like the bug was gone. "This sucks! This sucks! I'm gonna have an itchy ear now!"

"Mosquito?" Fraser peered at Ray's ear.

"Yeah!" Ray held still, letting Fraser see what he wanted to see.

"I have some repellent..." Fraser opened another pocket of his belt and pulled it out. "It also soothes bites."

"I hate mosquitos!" Ray held still, grimacing as Fraser stuck a greasy finger in his ear.

"There we are. Now, you apply it to your neck and hands and anywhere else that the bugs might bite." Fraser smeared it over Ray's exposed skin as he spoke.

"Yeah, okay." Ray dipped a finger into the little pot of repellent stuff and touched Fraser's neck above the collar, figuring he would want some too. But maybe Mounties were naturally mosquito-proof, because Ray's touch just seemed to startle Fraser. Fraser stoppped--and they both ended up with a hand at each other's neck, looking at each other in bafflement.

Fraser's eyes were wide. He looked eerie, lit from below; he looked like he was made of snow and shadows.

"This is Canadian flirting, isn't it?" Ray said.

"No, this is Canadian bug repellent," Fraser replied, but it was too late; Ray was kissing him.

Fraser's body was rigid, but he wasn't pulling away, so Ray tugged him in closer.

Kissing. Kissing was good. Kissing Fraser was very good. He should have tried this earlier.

"Fraser," Ray said eventually, panting a little. "That uniform is itchy as hell. How do you stand it?"

Fraser was wild-eyed. "Discipline. Determination. Masochism."

Ray got it. "Into thorns?"

"Most assuredly," Fraser said, and kissed Ray again. Ray shrugged and wrapped his arms around Fraser's torso and his legs around Fraser's knees, which made them both fall on their asses; but that was okay, because Fraser was plenty comfy to lay on, and whiling away the evening hours with smooches was always Ray's favorite hobby.

Ray only was aware that he had been sleeping after he woke up. It was pitch black and Fraser was talking to Dief.

"Yes, I do think he's a good prospect... I realize there won't be any puppies--I wouldn't have puppies anyway, do you realize that? Thank you... I do know he smells like cucumber. I have a nose. No, I don't think that's strange..."

Wasn't that home? That was home. His brother had muttered baseball stats at home in the bunk bed above him; his Stella recited closing arguments; his Mountie had arguments with a wolf. Yeah, that was home all right. Ray smiled and pressed his face into the soft skin of Fraser's neck. He fell fast asleep.

the end.

End Bugs and Thorns by Basingstoke: bas@yosa.com

Author and story notes above.