(Other fic)
Written for the Mendacity Challenge on ds_flashfiction. There's a longer sequel or second part to this story, which can be found here.

By joandarck



The dogs didn't want to stop, but they would be sheltered from the wind here and now was as good a time as any.  Benton signaled a break and set out to clear his conscience.

"Ray," he said firmly, peering between his companion's hat and scarf to find the underlying squint, "I have a confession to make.  I'm afraid I have to some extent practiced on your innocence."

"Did what on my what now?"

"Practiced on your innocence.  The truth is–"

"Sorry, I think I got snow in my ears."

"The truth is, it's highly unlikely that we'll find Sir John Franklin's lost expedition.  Well.  We won't find it."  He leaned forward, enunciating as clearly as he could through lips sluggish with cold.  "Equipped as we are, a mere two-man team, our chances are more or less nil."


"Nil.  And I shouldn't have allowed you to think otherwise.  That's why all my colleagues greeted the news of our plans with – well, you may have noticed an odd undercurrent to their reactions."


"And why Sergeant Frobisher kept making those peculiar facial expressions."

"Oh, I thought that was 'cause of his..."

"No, no."  They waved that subject away by mutual agreement.  "He was suppressing comment, like the others.  Because you see, Ray, the task we have set ourselves is impossible."

"Okay, so, if you think it's pointless, why'd you go along with it?"

A fair question.  He squared his shoulders.  "The truth is, I've had little opportunity as an adult to share in the kind of close friendship, camaraderie, that I enjoyed in Chicago with Ray Vecchio and subsequently with yourself.  After you leave, I anticipate being quite ...  lonely."  He wasn't supposed to say it; had never been supposed to; it wasn't supposed to matter.  He got it out and moved on.

"I wouldn't have asked you to stay, but given that you suggested it, were so enthusiastic, Ray, I couldn't resist the temptation.  Do you see?"

Ray raised a hand to his face and scratched just under the scarf, or tried to.  Mittens.  "Yep."

"You understand?"

"Yeah, I get it."

"...Ah.  Well.  Are you..."

"Now see if you get this.  I am not a moron, okay?"

Ray leaned forward and poked Fraser in the chest.  Fine, it was more like his glove under a mitten poked a parka over a bunch of sweaters and thermals on top of that goofy red union suit, but when a Kowalski has a point to make, you feel it.

"I know we're not gonna make the Discovery Channel, here.  I mean, I do know we are not actually gonna find some dead frozen guy sticking out of a glacier.  I realize this whole thing is more like a metaphor for man's quixotic yearning for open-ended adventure similar to the quest for the Holy Grail but embedded in Canada’s particular cultural history."

Yeah homes, he'd memorized that one in case anyone gave him ... dammit, now Fraser was looking at him like he'd invented hockey.

"That was beautiful, Ray."

"Aw, jeez, is it the syllables you get all hot over or the grammar?"

"Both, I suppose," Fraser said absently.

Pause.  Uneasy whuffling from the dogs.

"Okay, when I said, 'get hot,' you know I didn't mean..."

"Naturally, I assumed what you would call a symbolic..."

They stared at each other.

Ice cracked on a frozen inlet, forty miles away.




part 2 here