His Latest Flame
a due South story
by dirty diana
Dief's the one who unearthed the panties from underneath Fraser's desk. He played with them for a moment, and then dropped them at my feet. They're the fancy kind, pink and frilly and lacy. "Um, Fraser..." I say, not quite trusting my eyes, "Fraser, what are these?"
Fraser turns to see what I'm looking at. He doesn't react, his face a mask. "They appear to be a pair of ladies' undergarments, Ray."
"Well, I can see that. What I'm asking is, what are they doing in your office?"
Fraser shrugs, and doesn't say anything. There's no expression on his face, except for a faint pink glow of embarrassment. I know that look, the one that means I might as well go talk to the wall.
"Fraser," I say suddenly, because if he's not going to give me any answers I might as well start making them up, "you've got a girlfriend." And I wait, one Mississippi, two Mississippi, for him to deny it.
But he doesn't deny it, just looks down at the floor.
"Jesus. And you didn't say anything? How could you not say anything? How long has this been going on?"
Fraser looks down at the floor, and mumbles, "six."
"Six what? Six days? Six weeks?"
"Six months," he answers, more clearly.
"Six months?" I repeat in disbelief. "And I gotta find out by accident? Come on, 'fess up. Who is she?"
"Well," he answers, scratching his ear uneasily, "I'd rather not say, Ray."
"You'd rather not say?" I repeat. "What are you, embarrassed? Is it the Ice Queen?"
His face turns red, red enough to match his uniform. "Most certainly not. That would be the height of impropriety."
I'm just staring at him, because sometimes he is too fucking much. "You've got lace panties underneath your desk, Fraser. I think we drove past propriety six months ago."
"Stop looking at me like that," I'm telling Diefenbaker, as he stares at me reproachfully from the passenger seat of my car. "I'm not really following him. I mean, I am following him. But it's for his own good, alright?"
Dief lets out a short, disapproving bark.
"It is too for his own good. Who knows who this chick is? What does he really know about her? She could be dangerous. She could be a bank robber. You know how Fraser likes that in a woman." And then I rub my hands through my hair in frustration, because fuck, I'm arguing with the wolf.
Who turns his back to me, and puts his nose against the dashboard.
"Stop that," I say. "There's no candy in there."
Now he's pawing the glove compartment.
"Alright," I admit, "there's candy in there. But you can't have any."
Dief rolls over on the seat, like he's been shot.
I shuffle in my seat, and start to drum my fingers against the steering wheel. "This would be a lot easier if you could talk, you know. You could just tell me what she's like. I bet you've met her."
Dief barks in agreement.
"And? She's hot, right?"
Another bark for yes.
"Well, it wouldn't have killed you to lie, you know, Dief." I drum my fingers against the steering wheel, thinking. "Okay, so far we know she's good-looking. And she's pretty well-off, either that or she just likes expensive underwear. And she's smart. She's gotta be, since she scammed Fraser into dating her. No woman's been able to do that, not even Frannie, and she struts around the stationhouse half-naked. I was starting to think...well, never mind what I was starting to think." I sigh, and stare at the door of the restaurant, which has a steady flow of in-and-out traffic but no sign of Fraser. Guess they're having fun. "Obviously I was wrong."
Diefenbaker shrugs, and starts nosing the glove compartment again.
I was getting used to being there, almost comfortable, when Fraser and the chick come out of the restaurant, and signal the valet for their car. Which appears almost immediately, a black BMW. I guess she really is rich. I can't see much from here, but she seems pretty, and tall for a woman. Fraser holds open the door for her, and then gets in the passenger side. I push my glasses up on my face, so I can see the license plate well enough to write down the number. Then I turn the key in ignition, waiting a moment before I start to follow half-a-block behind.
After a while, we've made enough turns that I know for sure that we're not headed to the consulate.
"Fuck," I say to myself, and sure enough we pull up at a house, a nice townhouse, and she waits while Fraser gets out first and opens the door for her. I guess she knows him pretty well by now. Then he follows her to her door, and I watch while she fumbles around for her keys in a fancy purse.
Next thing I know they're kissing. And it's not a friendly kiss, like a kiss goodnight, this is all out kissing, tasting and hungry, the kind of kiss that I didn't know that Fraser had in him.
Then she finally pulls out her keys, and opens the door. He follows her in.
"Fuck," I say again, and Dief's just looking at me, a mournful 'I told you so'. I slide the car into drive.
It's four am, and there's banging on my door. I roll out of bed with a groan, pulling on a pair of blue jeans before I answer it.
Fraser's standing there. He's still wearing his dress reds, calm and still like it's perfectly normal to be knocking on my door at four in the fucking morning.
"Fraser, what on earth..."
"Patricia McCarthy," he says quietly.
I just stare at him, my half-awake brain not quite caught up yet.
"That's what the results of your DMV search are going to turn up," Fraser clarifies, as he enters my apartment. "Her name is Patricia McCarthy."
Now I just keep staring at him, because the time for denying stuff is obviously gone.
Fraser takes a breath and continues, like he's reading from memory. "Date of birth, January twenty fourth, 1961. Height, five feet nine inches. Address, 136..."
"Davisville Place," I finish for him. "I know. I've been there. Look, it's okay. You don't have to tell me anything that you don't want to."
"Well, then, perhaps you could answer a few questions for me, Ray."
He's talking real carefully, real slow, blue eyes burning, and that's when it hits me that he's pissed. And instantly I'm just as pissed back, I can't help myself. "Look, Fraser," I says, maybe a little too loudly, "I'm sorry, right? But..."
"But?" Fraser repeats in a half-shout, and I'm so surprised by the idea of Fraser. "But what, Ray? You were following me. You were following me to gain information against my express wishes. I trusted you, and..."
"You started it!" Now I'm yelling back. "You talk about trust! You've been dating this woman for six months, and you didn't even tell me about it! I'm your best friend! Aren't I?"
He nods, mutely.
"Then why would you not tell me something like that?"
Fraser sighs, all the air gone out of him. "Perhaps I was afraid, Ray."
"Afraid? Afraid of what?"
"Afraid that you'd look at me just the way that you're looking at me now. Like I've disappointed you. Except that I'm afraid I don't know what I've done. If I did, I would certainly apologise," he finishes, quietly. "But I don't. I'm sorry."
"Oh, Jesus," I say, and sit down suddenly, thump on my couch.
He sits down beside me, at the farthest end of the couch, not saying anything. And we're both quiet like that, for a bit, while I try to pull myself together.
"Fraser," I say finally, "you haven't disappointed me."
I can tell by his silence that he doesn't believe me.
"You haven't," I say again. "I was just trying to be a good friend, you know? I was worried about you."
"There was no need to worry, Ray."
"Well, excuse me if I needed my own evidence. The cop thing. Old habits, right?"
"Right," Fraser says quietly, and I can almost hear him sorting that out in his mind.
I take a deep breath, searching for the right thing to say. "Dief says that she's hot."
I can hear his ghost of a smile, without looking up. "Well, Diefenbaker's opinion is a bit biased, I suspect. Trish keeps an ample supply of Mars Bars in her..."
"She's hot, right?" I interrupt him.
Fraser pauses, licking his lips. "Yes. I suppose so."
"And she's a good person. She's nice?"
"And she's loaded?"
"Ray!" Fraser admonishes me, but he's laughing, just a little.
"Then I'm not disappointed. I'm happy for you."
"Oh." Fraser breaths out a sigh of relief, and I'm surprised. I hadn't realised that it mattered to him quite that much. "Well, I'm glad. Perhaps?perhaps we could all have dinner one evening."
I nod, quickly. "Yeah, that would be nice, Frase. And maybe I could call off the investigation."
"That would be nice. Yes."
"That's great," I say, trying for a smile, and halfway succeeding. "We'll be like one big happy family. Any chance I can go back to bed now?"
"Oh." Fraser jumps up off my couch like it's hot, snatching up his hat. "Yes, of course. Goodnight."
I close the door, lock it behind him, and then suddenly I'm punching it, bam bam bam, relishing every sharp jolt of pain to my knuckles. Then one last bam, and I stop, leaning against the door and absorbing the coolness of the paint. Because suddenly I'm hot, suddenly my whole body feels like it's on fire, and I can't breathe. "Get it under control, Stanley," I tell the empty room. "It's not his fault."
And it's not. It's not Fraser's fault that he doesn't love me back.