A Tight Squeeze

PAIRING: Fraser/Kowalski
CATEGORY: pre-slash, humor
SUMMARY: One Mountie, one Chicago cop, one wolf and a boa constrictor
NOTES: It seems when I hit a low with writing all I need is to go looking for trouble in other fandoms *smirks* -- this is my first small step into the realm of Due South, but I have to admit that the muses have been pestering me for a while now and I woke up the other morning with the image of a boa coiled around Fraser that had me getting out of bed with a wide grin on my face *g*
THANKS TO: Elaine and Etakyma for their thorough beta jobs
A special thank you to Mac and Nicci. Mac, you prodded and helped me with recs, mailinglists etc. and you may claim it's because you're a simple slash slut, but I love and adore you because you feed my insane cravings. Nicci, you may not be in this fandom, but still you audienced this story with many laughs and comments that only fueled my muse even more -- You said you'd read anything I wrote, even my shopping list and that has to be the greatest compliment any girl could ever get.

What had promised to be a rather slow, Monday took turns for the bizarre at 2PM (and let's face it, which days do not, when one was partnered with an honest to God Canadian Mountie who seemed to attract the bizarre and dangerous like a magnet). As always, Ray was not looking forward to writing his report.

Ray cocked his head to the side and took in his partner's stiff posture. Why was he even surprised anymore? Fraser seemed to be doing his best to keep a huge snake still, but it kept eluding him and obviously wanted to crawl inside the glaring red uniform, constantly flickering its tongue out and nosing at the opening of the sleeves of the uniform.

Ray knew the urge; actually he had that very urge several times every day. Well, not the sleeves, just... getting inside the uniform.

Looking down, Ray couldn't help but smile. He pointed at the front of Fraser's uniform where the garment was pushed forward before planting his hands on his hips, pushing his open jacket back a little. "Is that a snake in your pants, Frase, or are you just happy to see me?"

'Did I just say that?' Ray did his best to ignore the heat of his own flushed neck.

Fraser gave him an exasperated look, or at least what went for such in the man's book. "It is not merely a snake, Ray. It is a boa constrictor imperator, also known as a 'Firebelly'," Fraser grunted as the snake got a little too friendly with him, seeking to push its head down between his neck and the collar of the uniform. "It originates from Roatan, the largest of the Bahia Islands off the coast of Honduras. They are very seldom found in captivity..." Fraser looked up and he gave Ray a small smile, "but I am indeed glad to see you," he admitted as he unwound the snake's tail from his upper thigh.

Damn, but that snake got more Mountie action than Ray did. Since Ray got none, much to his own disappointment, he found that he was right at that moment quite jealous of a five-foot snake...

Okay, a five-foot 'Firebelly', but it didn't change the fact that that damned snake was practically groping his partner. It was incredible how patient Fraser seemed to be.

Ray scratched the back of his head. "Um, Fraser. Why exactly are you wrapped up in a snake?" As much as Ray had come to expect the unexpected around his partner, this wasn't one of the scenarios he'd ever have been capable of imagining.

"Well, you see, Ray..." Fraser stopped for a moment, a peculiar look on his face before he shifted a bit, tugging at the enamored snake who had managed to squeeze its head down past the waistband of his jodhpurs. Ray wondered if it thought it might fit into the extra space the uniform pants had provided at the thighs.

"It seems that constable Turnbull found it in the basement, wrapped around the furnace."

"Oh..." Ray blinked a few times. Well, some people had bats in the belfry; the Canadians seemed to have snakes in the basement.

"See, Reptiles are all cold-blooded. When it is cold their bodies and blood become cold. Normally they will lie in the warm sun to warm up their blood in order to stay heated, but seeing that this is Chicago in mid-September, it substituted the sun's heat with the heat from the..."

"Fraser," Ray cut in, shaking his head in exasperation. "I know that snakes like it warm, but it doesn't really explain what it was doing in your basement, right?"

"Right," Fraser agreed. To Ray's surprise he seemed a little lost.

"Got any idea what to do with it?" Ray asked, trying not to smile too much at the display. As much as he envied the snake its grasp on his partner, he had to admit to himself that the situation was a mixture of the bizarre and hilarious. Actually, he should be kinda used to that by now. Normally people would be shooting at them, so as much as he wanted to save Fraser's more intimate parts, he had to admit it was a step up from the usual danger.

Constable Turnbull chose that moment to join them and Ray gave him a small nod. Not that he didn't like the guy but... if Fraser was odd, he sure had no label to attach to Turnbull.

"Constable Fraser, I have checked the basement and there seems to be no other reptiles residing there at the current time." Turnbull stopped and stood at attention in front of Fraser who was still struggling with the snake.

An inquiring whine from behind the front desk drew Ray's attention while Fraser and Turnbull exchanged formal words -- Mounties, Ray was never going to understand them.

"Hey, Dief," he greeted, leaning on the desk. "If you're asking me what's going on, I'd say your guess is as good as mine."

The wolf cocked its head to the side and gave him a small 'whoof'. Ray grinned at the wolf. It really looked like it was laughing. Knowing Dief, it probably was.

Ray shook his head and turned back to the two Mounties. "Hey, Frase," he said, interrupting them. It was probably a good time, because Fraser's face had reached a stiffness that Ray knew all too well. It often occurred when dealing with Turnbull. Not that Fraser didn't like the kid, but standing around listening to him for too long had a tendency to grate on anyone.

"Yes, Ray?" Fraser answered so fast that Ray just knew he'd grabbed the interruption like a lifeline.

"Maybe we should find someplace to put it and check to see if anyone's missing a... snake," Ray suggested, gesturing at the animal in question, currently making its way up over Fraser's shoulder. "Though I have no idea where to put a critter like that," Ray admitted

Fraser frowned. "Constable Turnbull, I will leave the Consulate in your hands for the rest of the day and Detective Vecchio and I shall endeavor to solve the mystery of the boa constrictor in our basement."

Turnbull lit up as if Fraser had just told him he could open an early Christmas present.

"Yes sir!" the young Mountie snapped, standing to attention and Ray wondered if maybe someday the kid's spine would snap.

Ray rolled his eyes. "We're not bringing it down to the station," Ray pointed out as he led the way back out of the large doors of the Consulate, stepping aside to let Dief run out the door toward the car.

"Then where do you suggest we put it?" asked Fraser, finally managing to remove the snake from the vicinity of his crotch. Actually, it seemed the snake was losing a bit of its earlier vigor as the cool air hit them.

Fraser 'hmmmm'ed and Ray rolled his eyes as he unlocked the car. "What?" he asked. Ray waited for Dief to get inside, then held the door for Fraser.

"'What' what?" Fraser asked.

"What was that 'hmmmm' about?" Ray asked patiently.

"We should probably have wrapped the snake up in something warm," Fraser said, beginning to unbutton his uniform, still standing on the sidewalk next to the car.

"Fraser, what are you doing?" Ray asked, wondering once again about his partner's sanity.

"It may not be the best thing to use my uniform for this, but it does need warmth," Fraser said stiffly.

Ray shook his head. "Whoa! Frase, hold on -- I'll go get a blanket from inside." Ray shook his head and handed Fraser the keys and then turned around without waiting for Fraser to answer. God damned Mountie. Couldn't live with him, couldn't live without him and if Ray didn't take care of Fraser, who was going to?

Inside he quickly had Turnbull finding him a blanket from the storage room and Ray hurried back to the car. He found Fraser sitting in the front seat with the heat blasting in the car.

"Hey, don't get the damned snake too awake while I'm in here," Ray warned as he turned the keys that Fraser had put in the ignition, hearing the car's engine roar to life. He wasn't too hot on the idea of sharing his car with a snake, and he'd prefer not to share his Mountie with it for much longer either.

"Perhaps we should seek out a veterinarian's office. They should be able to give the boa the sufficient care while we attempt to find the owner." Fraser gave him an inquiring look. "I would volunteer to take care of it, but apart from what I have read about boa constrictors, I must admit I have never had the pleasure of actually touching one before." Fraser tried to wrap the snake up in the blanket while still maintaining a conversation with Ray. It seemed that the snake was enjoying itself in Fraser's lap. Damn, anyone would enjoy being in... never mind.

"Nah, we need to contact Animal Control here," Ray said, keeping his attention on the road, while he pulled his cell phone out of his pocket and flipped it open. He waited for the call to connect.

"Fraser, the snake's staring at me," Ray grumbled as he watched the snake watching him, head resting on Fraser's arm. Ray didn't exactly like the flickering tongue either. If anyone was to taste the Mountie, it'd be him, not some five-foot snake.

"It is not, Ray," Fraser argued as he pulled the blanket tighter around the snake for warmth. As much as it helped with the snake still on the move. At least it wasn't staring at Ray anymore.

"It was giving me the glare of death," Ray defended himself. 'Come on, come on, pick up the phone...'

"Snakes do not have eyelids, and therefore they do not blink. Their eyesight is poor and they find their way by taste, hence the tongue flickering in and out..." Fraser launched himself into a lecture and Ray could have sworn he heard Dief moaning in the backseat. Maybe he was just projecting his own feelings into the wolf now.

"Hey Frannie," he greeted as the call was answered, cutting off Fraser's long-winded talk about snakes, eyes and tongues. "Can you get me the address for Animal Control?" he asked.

"Hi Ray," she greeted at the other end. "Sure, hang on a sec..." There was a moment of silence and Ray tapped his fingers against the wheel, bringing the car to a stop as the lights turned red up ahead. He cast a quick glance at Fraser who was by now struggling with the damned snake again. It looked as if the snake wanted the Stetson now, and Ray kept a suspicious eye on it. He wasn't all that hot about the idea of having the snake too near him.

He was about to say something, not sure what, when Fran returned to the phone. "I've got the address here," she said, quickly giving it to him. Good, not more than a few block away. "Is Fraser with you?" Fran asked before he could say 'thank you' and hang up.

Ray sighed inwardly.

"Yeah, Fran, but right now he's um.... a bit tied up," Ray said, smiling evilly as he watched Fraser's expression turn puzzled. "No, I can't put him on the phone," he continued without giving her a moment to continue. Damn it, he was jealous of every woman who threw herself at Fraser, including the snake currently trying to convey its love to the Mountie by winding itself around as much of him as possible. "Bye, Frannie," he said with a grin and hung up before she could tell him to go to hell or something similar.

Right, time to get going again. He put the car in gear and pulled back into the traffic.

"That was not nice," Fraser said and he'd probably caught most of the conversation. That man's hearing was freakish beyond description. Fraser was still struggling as much as he could to keep the snake in one place without harming it. He looked deliciously tousled.

"What?" Ray grinned, feeling a little better for having annoyed Fran. He knew how much of a crush she had on Fraser, so he felt a certain satisfaction whenever he could get between them. At least as long as Fraser didn't show any interest in her. Even if that were to ever happen, he wasn't sure he could be the bigger man and let it go without a fight.

"You should be a little nicer to your little sister," Fraser told him sternly.

"She's not my sister, Frase," Ray countered as he tuned down the next street. It had to be down here somewhere.

"She is Ray Vechhio's sister and since you are undercover as him, she is by all means your sister and should be treated as such," Fraser lectured.

From the backseat Dief made a noise that Ray figured was either a laugh or agreement with Fraser. Either way... "Hey, no one asked you," he shot over his shoulder and rolled his eyes. "Don't tell me that Vecchio was all nice and sweet with her all the time," he snorted, taking a quick glance at Fraser before concentrating on the road ahead. To the right there. Ray pulled into the side and parked in front of a large red stone building.

Fraser made a disapproving sound. Ray's smile grew a little wider and a whole lot smugger.

Ray got out of the car and went to Fraser's side to open the door, shaking his head as the Mountie struggled to get out. "Need a hand, Fraser?" Ray offered, not waiting for an answer before curving his hand around Fraser's upper arm, shamelessly enjoying the feel of muscles working underneath the thick layers of uniform and whatever Fraser was wearing underneath. Still, he made sure that his hand was nowhere near the snake.

Nice thought if there was nothing, but Ray knew that that was unfortunately not the case. Then again, had to keep the Mountie warm so he wouldn't get sick. Yeah, keep the Mountie warm, though Ray could think of several other ways of doing so without clothes as well.

"Thank you kindly, Ray," Fraser said as they were standing on the sidewalk in front of the building. Ray blinked a few times then realized he was still holding onto Fraser's arm and the snake was slowly making its way down Fraser's arm toward Ray's.

Oops. He quickly let go, trying to look casual. Taking a deep breath he let Dief out of the car and locked it.

They went inside the building and after checking with the sign showing the whereabouts of the Animal Control main office, Ray led the way through a few doors into a nice, open office space. He pulled Fraser over to the reception desk and grinned as Dief jumped up to put his front paws on the wooden surface.

"Excuse us," Fraser said to the young woman sitting there. She turned her attention from whatever it was she was reading and did the obvious double take as she took in the scene.

"Chicago PD," Ray quickly put in, flashing his badge. "We've come across a little something we need your help with," Ray said with a smile. Then of course the usual happened. Fraser just had to smile at her and Ray sighed inwardly as he watched her eyes go wide and flutter invitingly.

Dear God, save us from the Fraser-charm. Really, it tended to get them into trouble. At least in Ray's point of view. Right, so Ray had to run interference and get them out ASAP. Really, he needed to lock Fraser up somewhere safe, maybe tie him to the bed...

"We have a snake here that was found at the Canadian Consulate," Ray said before Fraser could open his mouth and make it worse. Concentrate on the snake and then get out, don't think about Fraser tied to anything. "We don't know how it got in there, but it was found by the furnace in the basement. We'd like to turn it over to you guys if you don't mind."

The woman blinked a couple of times, tearing her eyes away from Fraser who was trying once again to keep the snake from embarrassing him. The blanket had long since lost the fight with gravity and was lying on the floor. The snake was once again winding its way around Fraser thigh, this time trying to get its head up under the uniform from below. Ray had to smile at the sight. The Stetson, normally like glued to the Mountie's head, sat crooked to the side and Fraser looked more than a little flustered.

"You got anywhere we can put it?" Ray asked as nicely as he could, which didn't really say that much. She'd better hurry up so they could get out of there.

She gave him a slightly tense smile, then nodded. "I'll find something for you to put it in," she said. "Until then," she continued and pushed a form across the desk. "Please fill in this form and we'd like a copy of your police report as soon as possible." She turned to leave them, then shook her head. "Is the wolf being delivered to us as well?" She asked. "If so, I'll have to ask you to fill out another form..."

Ray caught the shocked look on Fraser's face. Right, time to run the real interference. "The wolf's with us and part of the family, we're just here to get rid of the snake," he explained sugary sweet.

She gave him an odd look he couldn't decipher before shrugging and leaving them alone, going out through a white door from where Ray could hear a variety of animal sounds. Sounded like a damned zoo with all the squawking, barking and the rattling of metal doors.

Ray really didn't know what was her problem anyway. He figured Fraser had been in enough of a predicament for long enough. No matter if she was envying the snake or just taking in the entertainment, the least she could do was work a little faster. Hey, he was used to the bizarre, other people shouldn't be fazed by it either if anyone asked him.

Not that they ever did.

Ray leaned against the desk and checked the form and quickly filled it with what he had. He really wouldn't have known what to put in under 'animal' if not for Fraser's earlier rant. Some things seemed to stick with Ray, even some of Fraser's lectures.

"I'll just fill this in and then I'll help you," Ray told Fraser. He had to hide a smile as he noticed that once again the snake was curling its tail around something it really should stay away from. And here he had thought that Fraser could hand anything, but the look on the man's face made Ray feel a little worse about it. It really wasn't all that funny and constrictor that size was supposed to the pretty strong.

Right, the faster they got rid of it and the sooner he could get Fraser home and offer him to check for damage... Ray bit back a smile. Now see, there was a good idea. Ah well. Wouldn't be much longer before it would be removed and hopefully he'd get Fraser back in one piece.

"I would appreciate a little help when you have finished with the form," Fraser admitted, looking a little flushed, standing at an uneasy attention in the middle of the floor. There were chairs, but Ray figured Fraser might be afraid of never being able to get back up again because of his... lovely new friend.

Ray grinned and signed the form. He pushed Dief's nose away as the wolf curiously sniffed the form. He turned to Fraser and shook his head. "Benton, really -- you find the oddest admirers," he teased.

"Ray, you make it sound as if I do these things on purpose," Fraser grunted as he managed to keep the head end of the snake out of the sleeve of his uniform.

"Oh, no," Ray assured him as he gently tried to pry the snake away from around Fraser's waist. "I know this is just something that happens around you. If I thought you did it on purpose, I'd be running for the hills," Ray assured him.

Fraser's wry grin froze as the snake chose that moment to struggle just a little more and since Ray was still hanging on, he ended up with his hand between the snake's muscular body and rather intimate area of Fraser's anatomy.

Ray felt heat rush up his neck and he was sure he was more than just a little flushed. Hardly daring, he turned his eyes up and looked into Fraser's wide, blue ones. Several things seemed to flash through those eyes, until the usual mask seemed to cover it up.

"Ray?" Fraser's voice sounded rather strangled. Okay, not as composed as he looked.

'Uh-oh, here it comes,' Ray thought to himself. He really liked where his hand was, and he wasn't entirely sure if his hand would survive it, caught between two hard... Oh... maybe Fraser had a thing for snakes, because the snake wasn't the only strong, warm, thick... hard...

Talk about being caught between a rock and a hard place. Ray swallowed hard.

Dief came over to them, sniffing the snake and gave a little 'whoof'.

"No," Fraser answered it in a rather strangled voice. "This is not what you think it is."

Dief made a sound that sounded suspiciously like a snort.

"I do not care what you think you know, go sit by the door and wait for us."

Dief stuck his nose in the air but did as he was told.

Ray was still fairly sure the wolf was laughing at them. He looked down at where his hand was trapped and swallowed dryly. Then he looked up and found Fraser looking at the very same place, a deep flush coloring his neck and cheeks.

Of course the woman had to choose that moment to return with a large box and a slightly older man who stepped up to their side. Ray faked a smile as well as he could and didn't dare to look back into Fraser's eyes as he untangled his hand and the snake.

"Please," the man said and positioned the box on the desk. "Just put it in here and we'll take care of it. Did Mandy mention that we'd like a copy of your police report?"

Ray cleared his throat. Maybe it wasn't as obvious as he'd thought... Ray caught Mandy's eyes and cringed. Okay, maybe the guy was just a bit oblivious, because Mandy looked more than a little confused and she was looking at him as if he was to blame for some kind of catastrophe.

"Yes, she did," Fraser said, his voice obviously returning to normal now that he didn't have a snake wrapped around his family jewels. Ray gave him a sideways glance and noticed that Fraser was busy realigning the Stetson. A lot more than was strictly necessary.

They shook hands with the guy who introduced himself as John Smithson, but Ray tuned most of it out. His own body seemed to be burning several degrees warmer than normally. It wasn't overly warm in the room, but he still felt sweat trickle down his temple.

Finally everything seemed to be over and done with and Ray returned to reality to find Fraser regarding him with a strange look in his eyes. A look that quickly disappeared the moment Fraser realized that Ray was studying him.

Something seemed to be up with the Mountie, and no, Ray was not going to look down to see if he could use that term literally about Fraser's physical state.

"Maybe we better get back to the station and write that report," Ray suggested, wondering if his voice sounded as rough as he thought it did.

Fraser nodded and they said their goodbyes.

"Yeah, we write the report and by then..." Ray checked his watch. "When that's done, it's pretty close to the end of the day for us."

Fraser nodded and gestured for Dief to follow them back to the car. Neither wolf nor man said anything during the ride from the Animal Control office to the PD. Ray wasn't exactly in a chatty mood either. Somehow he figured that Fraser's silence had to be because he had seen something in Ray's expression during their little... struggle with the snake, that had given the game away.

Oh well, it had been fun while it lasted. 'This sucks,' Ray thought. 'Somehow I don't think our friendship's gonna be the same if Fraser's really figured it out.'

At the PD things actually went according to plan and the police report was quickly done, and a copy of it in the mail for the Animal Control department. Ray had to admit that having Fraser write up the report had its merits. Ray had never been as fast with the typing as Fraser was. Besides, Fraser could fill in what had happened before Ray had turned up at the Consulate.

Ray looked down at Dief who was lying under his desk, seemingly asleep. It seemed the wolf was the only one who didn't have a care in the world. Oh well. Maybe if he apologized to Fraser, then... Maybe he could salvage this and go back to pining for his perfect partner from afar.

'You're getting melodramatic,' he scolded himself, but still. He watched Fraser for a moment and finally Fraser looked up at him. Ray swallowed, feeling as if his throat was dry as the desert.

"Fraser, look... I'm sorry..."

"Ray, please accept my apology..."

They looked at each other, both expecting the other to go on. Ray couldn't help but quirk a smile and just like that, everything seemed so much easier, because Fraser's lips seemed to be stretching into a slightly embarrassed smile.

Dief rumbled beneath the desk, but they both ignore the wolf.

"You wanna go get dinner?" Ray asked, not really knowing where his courage came from. He nodded toward the clock.

Fraser nodded slowly, but there was a slight frown to his features. Then it was gone, replaced by the smile that always made Ray return it, even if he figured he looked goofy doing it.

"Go out or take out?" Ray asked as he grabbed his jacket.

"How about a pizza?" Fraser hedged.

'My place.' The thought flew through Ray's mind.

"We could go to your place and just... I mean..." Fraser looked flustered for a moment and Ray held his breath. This was so unlike the normally stoic facade of his friend.

Ray nodded. "I like a man with a plan," he said, watching how some of the tension seemed to leave Fraser's shoulders. They walked toward the exit, Dief hot on their heels. Ray figured the wolf had heard the magic word 'pizza'.

"So... um. You don't need to go back to the consulate and see if you can figure out where the snake came from?" Ray asked as they exited the PD.

"I think we can safely leave the initial search to Animal Control -- the 'Firebelly' is a very rare species of the Boa Constrictor family. There are very few specimens in the US -- I am sure the owner will show up."

Ray rolled his eyes at the lecture, but grinned as they got into the car. "So you don't need to go back and sniff anything or lick something?" he asked.

Fraser turned his head and looked at him, a strange glitter in his eyes as he fastened his seat belt. "I am not planning to lick anything at the moment, maybe later."

Ray froze with his hand on the ignition. Slowly he turned his head, wondering if he'd been hearing things. At first, Fraser who was looking straight ahead out the window, seemed to have his usual straight face on. Then Ray noticed the light curve of the lips, the barely suppressed smile.

And Fraser had put his Stetson in his lap.

Ray's grin widened. He caught the flush of Fraser's neck and cheeks, noticed that the man was licking his lips more often than strictly necessary. Right, Ray was a detective, so detect he would. He kept his eyes on Fraser for a moment, until Fraser slowly looked down at his own covered lap.

A meaningful glance was turned on Ray.

This was Benton Fraser going out on a limb. It really was Ray's duty to go out there with him. That was what buddies did, what partners did.

"So... a pizza and a nice, quiet night at home," he offered. Just one last accept from Fraser. Just to be absolutely sure.

"A pizza and a night at home," Fraser agreed and Ray caught the flash of teeth as Fraser's grin turned from sweet to feral faster than Ray's GTO could get to a 100.

Dief 'whoofed' from the backseat, putting its head on the back of Ray's seat. The long red tongue lolled out of its mouth and it really did look as if it was laughing.

"Will you be quiet," Fraser told it sternly, avoiding eye contact with Ray as he turned a little to regard the wolf. "What we do is entirely our business and I doubt we need your advice in such matters. I believe we are capable of figuring things out on our own."

Ray whimpered and put the car in gear. How the hell was he supposed to make it home like this? If Fraser was really talking about what Ray deep inside knew he was, it wasn't exactly going to be easy to concentrate on getting them home safely.

Damn, he wanted his own hat to put in his lap. Then again, he had something better resting on his thigh right now. Ray grinned as the heat from Fraser's hand burned through his jeans. A quick look and he found Fraser leaning back in his seat, head back and eyes close. His face was slightly flushed, but Ray knew recognized the determined set of the face. Even as it was now combined with a small, feral smile.

Oh yeah, it would be a long, torturous ride home.

The End