Author: Denise Raymond (rattlecatcher)
Website/link to fic: Fic at dueSlash and DSA
Fanlore page: http://fanlore.org/wiki/Denise_Raymond
First DS fic posted: 2000.
Full disclosure: A fan.
Pairings: F/K, Vecchio/Stella.
Style and strengths: Denise only wrote 5 Due South stories, but two of them would make a required reading list if there were a course on DS fandom. She has an uncanny ability to get into the heads of Fraser, Kowalski and Vecchio, so everything they say and think is spot-on accurate. Her Fraser/Kowalski are funny, passionate, loving and hawt, and at the same time her interpretation of Vecchio is so insightful it's had an impact on how I see the character on the show.
Other DS/C6D activity: Sadly, none.
All the Comforts of Home (DS, F/K, NC-17, 300KB). Short version: Vecchio heads North to seek marriage advice from Fraser, and finds out that Kowalski's up there too, and they're engaged.
While the story goes wonderfully NC-17 at the end, what blew me away the first time I read it all those years ago was the crackling dialogue and pitch perfect POVs as the narrators shift between the three of them. Equal weight and attention are given to the three relationships here: Fraser and Kowalski's love, Vecchio and Fraser's friendship, and even Kowalski and Vecchio snarking their way to find common ground over past and current partners. This was also one of the first early F/K fics where I really liked Vecchio, from seeing how the Armando stint has affected him, to putting best friend's happiness over his own discomfort about Fraser and Kowalski's relationship.
I looked out a window as she pulled the curtain back. The view was of mountains in the distance. Nearer, we had a dirt road about thirty feet away. And Ray Kowalski, on the other side of the road, in someone's backyard, chopping logs into firewood.
His anger and his energy were both apparent in the wild swings that still managed to connect. His solid chops split the wood like atoms. A few men were standing around, just watching him. Loomis came into view and one of them began helping Loomis load the split pieces into the back of a truck.
"He does this when he's mad," Peggy said. "He'll keep at it until he passes out or pulls a muscle. Then he'll sleep for twelve or fourteen hours."
"And you let him do this?" I asked, angry myself. On Kowalski's behalf, too, who'd have seen that coming? But this was cruel, even to me. "Why not find out what's bothering him and get the dumb shit to deal with it?" "Well, Ray, we know what he's angry at," she said in a reasonable tone that sounded exactly like Benny. Apparently it's as Canadian as the Hmm's and Ahh's. "He's angry at you. But if we did as you suggest, we'd all be chopping more wood and he'd still be mad. This way, he gets the worst of the anger out, and we get firewood."
"Do you love her?" I ask. I keep going before that bristling look becomes vocalized. "Could you love her when you're just not on the same wavelength for a few days? Could you love her when she works late and is frustrated when some perp gets a hung jury? When she gets bitchy with you 'cause she can't touch the perp? And when she wants to do over the guest room in –"
"Oh, man, it was Norwegian Sunset when we were together," I groan, grinning. "Dusty Rose sounds –"
"The truth is, Benny, is that I couldn't dislodge you from that skinny Polack's side if I offered you a year's supply of igloo wax."
I looked up to meet his eyes. He had a little smile on him. Not an ear-splitting grin. He wasn't overjoyed, in fact, he seemed irritated, but he'd come to more of a resolution than he was admitting.
"Instead, you'd stay with Ray Kowalski, and you'd deck me, wouldn't you? And your heart would be broken because your best friend had asked you to give up happiness. So you see, Mike and Ray know two things about you, and that's jack and shit – and they're wrong about jack."
I smiled back, breathing easier.
"And you know me better because you're my best friend."
"Damn right," he said softly.
By the time I woke up this morning, I'd had twenty-three specific acts, and I was really hoping to do them in order. I figured Benton would appreciate the methodical approach. Oh, sure, the truck sex would have moved Item One down a few, but overall, it's still a good list. 5P's and all that.
And trust me, in the next few days, all will happen. I won't say I understand the stamina of the RCMP in my bed, but who am I to argue with results?
I hope Maggie didn't eat the canned pears, or use up all the chocolate sauce. I got big plans for those (Item Thirteen).
Chicago Tales (DS, F/K, Vecchio/Stella, NC-17, 850KB). Fraser and Kowlaski return to Chicago so Ray can settle his affairs. It ends up not being a good trip, what with all the coming out to friends and family and then Fraser getting kidnapped.
If All the Comforts of Home made me like Vecchio, then the sequel made me love him. Fraser and Kowalski are still funny and loving and hot. But the best part of Chicago Tales is Vecchio, who has to juggle Kowalski, Zuko and Armando to save Fraser, not to mention dealing with Dead!Pop, Frannie and Stella. Denise incorporated elements of the best Vecchio episodes (The Deal, North and Juliet Is Bleeding), and the result is one of great stories that you wish had been a real episode.
Oh yeah, and it also has one of the funniest scenes in all of DS fanfiction.
"What if I were to leave, Ray?" I asked. His eyes narrowed. I continued. "What if I were - if you and I broke off our engagement-"
I could not go further as a hand clamped my mouth shut. Ray's sudden move was topped only by the action to pull me down on the bed. To prevent my back from torquing, I curled up, then put my legs out straight. He did not release my mouth.
"You mean, if we were to split up? I stay here, you go to Canada? Sell the house, send me my half, and then we write and phone sometimes, because we'll always know we got love, right, Benton? I mean, my parents wouldn't disown me, so the fucking cold bed would be worth it, right? Really pull a fast one on them, hell, maybe even get married to some chick who wouldn't know her husband is a cocksucker, is this what you're saying, Fraser?"
"Well, I wouldn't got that far, Ray, I -"
"Did you pull this noble minded bullshit with Vecchio?"
"Ray, there was no need to with him-"
"Yeah, that, and he'd have hit you so hard you'd still be crawling around West Racine looking for your eyeteeth," he said. He exhaled, a gust of anger and exasperation. "I don't know where you get these bonehead thoughts, Fraser, but I swear I'm having trouble believing it's some sort of Mountie training."
"Ray, I -"
"Shut up. Now, right now, at this very minute, I got you, I got Dief, a home and friends in BC. I also got a dad who just called me a Polish word I didn't think he knew, and an invitation to never talk to anyone named Kowalski in a tri-state area. So don't even think of asking me to give you up too, you got that?"
We both turn. There's Fraser in a towel. The bare minimum for decency, if you're running from a fire. But right here? Right now? This is just downright provocative. Especially with that hickey at the base of his neck, a little to the left. Stella used to see one that shape when she looked in the mirror. Hell, she can probably pinpoint the time I put it there.
I said before I want Stella jealous of him, not me, but I gotta applaud the maneuver. Benton's got a mean streak about two inches wide, and he only takes it out for a walk maybe once a year. I think the last time was Stella-related, too - the Orsini-and-door incident.
The ever-present mental hard-on wants to take him back to bed, but I try to see the big picture. I take in Stella's sudden flush. She can flush angry, embarrassed and aroused. I've seen all three. This one is a cross between embarrassed and aroused. Yeah. Loving this big picture.
"Yeah, Frase?" I say, just as casual and innocent as the Mountie.
"I can't find the deodorant," he says. The deodorant. Not his, not mine, but 'the' deodorant. Implies a real close thing going on, which we got.
"Oh, sorry, I left it in the bedroom," I tell him.
"Thanks, Ray. Mrs. Vecchio," he says, nodding, as if he's in serge. And then, he turns to leave. But here's the cherry on the sundae: he turns away from us, the two-hundred-seventy degree spin instead of the ninety degree, so we're treated to a look at Corporal Benton Fraser's RCMP-approved towel-wrapped ass, made all the more spectacular by that fucking amazing back. I can't get enough of the sight, and I do get enough of it. Thank you, God. And Fraser? You're off the hook about the hat.
I turn to look at Stella when the show is over. She's still catching flies. I give her another five seconds and then sit on the couch to put on my boots. She takes another moment, then shakes her head to clear it.
"He's also a decent cook," I say.
Now, Kowalski knew where we were going, but we hadn't discussed strategy yet. So I got a little antsy when he pulled away from the curb without a word.
"Hold on a minute - when we get there, you -"
"Am I Kowalski or Vecchio?" he cut in. "I got ID for both. Are you Armando?"
I did a fish-mouth.
"What?" he asked, spitting it out and glaring at me. Okay - not so calm. Or maybe this was just how he was.
"Are you bi-polar or something? Most people at least segue in to a new conversation," I said.
"This is not a new conversation. It's the one we were having before Frannie came in. You have some sort of short-term memory problem?" he snapped back.
"Hey, I told you the meet was in forty-five minutes. That was thirty-five minutes ago, and Frank Zuko is not going to be impressed by us being early. I'm just trying -" I stopped as he did some sort of snarl and pulled over to the curb.
"All right, you want to take this slow? I'm zero to sixty in eight point five, but if you need a minute to catch up, I'm cool," he said.
"You're a piece of work, Kowalski, you are -"
"Yeah, I'm the guy your precious Benny fucks on a regular basis but he really loves me for my mind, so shut up and let me give you a piece of it. Number One - you say Zuko's wise to the switcheroo, so what I want to know is, when we play this out, is it as Vecchio and Kowalski or as Armando and Vecchio or do we do a total mind blower and be Armando and Kowalski?"
We're doing this for Benny, I reminded myself. "I don't know. I need to talk to Frank first, see what's up with Vit. Bookman, probably."
He shifted his jaw and nodded. "Okay. I'll go in as Kowalski. If the situation calls for a Vecchio, I'll swap out the ID. Second - we're both used to playing off Fraser, and he's not around. Do you think you can work this with me?"
"You telling me I have a choice?" I asked. "Are you saying if I told you to wait in the car, you'd do that?"
He had that cop glare that a lot of people fail at. It was like have a staring match with a dead guy.
After a three second round, he nodded. "If you can't play this with me, then Benton gets that much closer to not going home. You're the key here. I get that. I get that this is not a ëyou or me' situation. It's a ëyou or you and me' situation. Now, I've done more undercover than you and I'm probably the best you'll ever get to work with. What it boils down to is that I know I can play with you. But it's your call. My ego is so fucking not a part of this, you got that?
"Now, Ray," he said, his voice completely calm, like he was either going to shoot me or offer me a drink, "we are three minutes away at five minutes to go. Which means you have four minutes to decide if I'm on the team or just the chauffeur."
He started the engine.
"And one last thing?" He looked at me over his shades. "I'm not going to hurt Frannie."
That one threw me. Not that I was still thinking he would, but... I could not follow those hairpin curves he called thought patterns without getting lost.
But I knew right then that he'd always be able to follow. Don't let anyone try to fool you, follower is always the harder role to play.
Zuko nodded, almost smirking. He hadn't looked at the envelope since raising the stakes. He'd gotten better at this. Since my time in Vegas, I'd wondered if little Frankie Zuko was ever going to be more than a punk. I still didn't know, but he'd learned some patience, and that little Armando inside my head, the one that was getting stronger every second I stood here, he was very pleased with the progress in the personal growth of Francis Albert Zuko.
"Wait outside, Ray," I said quietly.
"Fuck that! I want to know if we're playing this or not," he said, coming up and putting his hand on my shoulder to turn me around.
I turned, all right, maybe just a little faster than he expected. I know he didn't expect the barrel between his eyes. His eyes popped open, but the scrawny bastard still had that hairpin brain.
"I lied about the one in the chamber," he said, just staring, not even glaring with those blue eyes that, if this went wrong, would stare at me every time I closed mine.
"Not your gun," I said just as easily back. Was this me, the cop, playing it just as hard as Kowalski? Or was this Armando, who always got a rush from things like this, and always finished a day of bluffs with some pussy?
Jesus. I needed to focus.
"You'll do anything for the Mountie, right?" I asked. Did I always sound this harsh?
Those eyes. Even if this went right, the Polack's eyes were going to be waiting for me every time I fell asleep. I always knew I might go to hell someday. I just honestly didn't expect it would be because of Stanley Kowalski.
Kowalski lost color and swallowed, but he nodded without a second thought.
"Then go wait in the living room," I said, and handed him back his gun. "You don't move until someone says Mr. Langostini asks you to do something. You got that, Frankie? He's not there to dust the bookcases."
"I'm fine with that, Ra- Mr. Langostini," Zuko said. I felt high, so I closed my eyes, my fingers touching Zuko's desk as I listened to the Polack reload and walk out.
Ray Saved from Drowning (DS, F/K, R, 28K). Four shorter pieces that perfectly capture Kowalski at pivotal moments: when he decides to take the Vecchio job, his first day with Fraser, the Buddy Breathing, and that conversation he and Fraser have on the way back from Sault Ste Marie (mentioned in All the Comforts of Home) where they acknowledge that there is something between them--even if they cannot agree what IT is.
"Vecchio's deep undercover with the feds," the lieutenant says, sliding the file over to me. The picture on the front looks as much like me as the nun who taught me algebra in tenth grade. "They think if someone notices we're short one Italian, it's gonna be bad news."
He looks at me and I'm betting we're thinking the same thing.
"So… Kowalski's a northern Italian name, is that it?" I ask. Welsh snorts. He's a good guy. "Sir, no disrespect to you, but this is bogus."
"That's an accurate description of the situation, Detective. But there appears to be a dearth of qualified applicants in the CPD, and I won't put a fed in here. At least not any of the ones I've seen around," he says. He's right. The Chicago field office for the FBI seems to be where they put the lulus. Like they can't stir up too much shit in the middle of the goddamned country or something.
"So, I'm just going to sit at a desk and say 'Vecchio' when I pick up the phone?"
"That, and hang out with the Mountie," Welsh says. The phone rings and he puts his hand out to shut me up while he answers.
Buddy breathing. They actually call it that? And mean it? With tongue?
He's got wide fingers. I remember how they feel, cupping my face. And he kisses good, even if he says it's buddy breathing. I'm his buddy, aren't I?
Besides, I'm not interesting in being naked with half the population any more. I'm getting fairly selective. Some women look good, some don't. Like it's supposed to be.
One Mountie looks good, absolutely every other Mountie does not.
So what do I do now?
Due South author profiles
- Author Profile: Denise Raymond