FANDOM: due South
PROMPT: Written for the older_not_dead prompt: due South. Fraser/?. It has been a long time since Fraser hitchhiked, and longer still since he had to 'pay' for it.
WORD COUNT: 980 words
SUMMARY: Twenty-five years ago, Constable Fraser's superior officer transferred him out of Moose Jaw to save his career. Now, at the age of forty-five, Fraser might just be brave enough to re-visit what he left behind.
NOTES: Thanks to ride_4ever for linking the 'Older Not Dead' challenge, and for the kind beta.
DISCLAIMER: I don't own these characters, nor am I making any money from them. I merely borrow them from time to time.
Fraser was perhaps two miles from the site of the protest when he heard a car down-shift and pull into the breakdown lane behind him. He glanced over his shoulder and prepared to dodge into the undergrowth should the vehicle attempt to run him over.
The Idle No More protests were consistently peaceful. The counter-protests by men employed by the pipeline, however, were not. As the only white speaker at the rally, he might have attracted their attention.
The vehicle pulled to a stop, catching him in its headlights. Fraser sheltered his eyes from the beams and squinted against the bright light. The vehicle was a dark-colored pickup truck. Judging by the engine sound, it was an older model in need of some transmission work. The passenger side door opened.
"Hey, white boy," a woman called out in a deep voice. "Need a ride?"
Fraser was certain he knew that voice. One of the organizers of the protest? It wasn't Seelah, or Marguerite. There was a definite francophone accent, as well as hints of a First Nations language. Muscogee, perhaps?
"Come on, I'm freezing my ass off here, Wapuskau."
Fraser's face broke into a smile at the familiar nickname. "Marie?" he asked, jogging towards the pick-up. Marie was watching him, eyes twinkling with amusement, from the driver's side. Fraser closed the door and settled back into his seat, unzipping his coat and fastening the seatbelt.
Marie focused on the car for a moment, fiddling with the gearshift until the pick-up, with a reluctant grinding of gears, moved back into first and pulled out onto the highway.
The warmth of the car was a pleasant shock after a day outside for the protest. Fraser studied Marie in the dim light of the instrumentation. She was still beautiful. Well. Perhaps 'beautiful' was misleading. The conventional ideal of feminine beauty didn't generally include the broad nose and dark skin of a Métis woman, a strong jaw, chapped lips, or the calloused guitar-player's fingertips that had so captivated him 25 years ago.
'Beautiful' also wasn't an adequate descriptor for the changes time had wrought - the crow's feet and smile lines that had carved their way onto her face, or the once-black hair gone silver, woven into a heavy braid down her back. Some part of Fraser's upbringing whispered, Elder, and urged him to treat her with respect.
Yet she was still Marie, even more so than before, and so she was beautiful, like a mountain is beautiful, or a glacier, or anything that is wholly and unapologetically itself.
"I heard you speak at the rally," she said with a quick side-ways glance at him. "You're still a constable, after all these years?"
"Well, I'm not surprised. You always did have a gift for pissing off the bosses. And somehow I doubt this is gonna improve your chances for a promotion."
"I've been granted a week's leave," Fraser told her. "And as I told my superior officer back then in Moose Jaw," he said, surprised by the sharpness of his tone, "I have the right to speak on matters of personal and political importance, as a private Canadian citizen."
She grinned at him. "Private citizen, huh? Well, at least you weren't in your dress reds, this time. But you sure weren't shy about throwing around your connection to the Mounties."
"Given the threats made against Seelah and other members of the collective, there should have been a police presence today. Since neither the local police nor the RCMP assigned anyone, I thought it … prudent to clearly identify myself. To avoid any misunderstandings."
Marie's rich, deep laugh filled the car. "I see." They drove in silence for a few minutes, past trees and tiny houses set back from the road, jumbled in closer to each other as they approached the town. "So where should I drop you?" Marie asked.
"I'm staying at the Snow Birds motel," Fraser replied.
Marie grunted her disapproval. "We'll pick up your kit, and you'll stay at my place tonight," she said.
"I couldn't possibly –"
"Unless you enjoy cold showers and a thin mattress?"
Admittedly, judging by his quick inspection when he'd checked in, the motel failed to meet even his modest standards for comfort. "Yes. I mean, no. That is … thank you kindly, Marie. I would be honored." His face was warm from more than the car's heat now.
She glanced at him again, noting his blush, and then looked back at the road. "And the offer's still open, if you wanted to make it up to me."
"Offer?" Fraser asked.
"Sure. All the times I shared my car with you, back in Moose Jaw, you never did share my blankets. "
Fraser was caught off-guard, reminded of her constant, gentle teasing. Fresh out of Depot, inexperienced and infatuated and hopelessly out of his depth, he had always stammered an awkward refusal, certain that she couldn't possibly mean it. Now, with an additional quarter-century of familiarity with flirtation, he could recognize that Marie's interest was, and always had been, genuine. And perhaps this was a terrible idea, but it had been so long since he'd been touched, been allowed to touch and explore and give pleasure.
I'm far from home, Fraser thought, not certain in that moment whether he meant his current posting, or his father's cabin, or Chicago, and I do not want to be alone tonight.
"That's quite a debt," Fraser said softly, voice slipping into a deeper octave. "Are you certain I'll be able to work it off in one night?"
Marie hummed to herself. "Well, let's say you put in a good faith effort tonight, Wapuskau, and we'll re-negotiate in the morning, eh?"
Fraser sat back in his seat, heart and mind racing. Whatever happened between them, he decided, he would treasure it, and not waste a moment on regrets.