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dS Fic: Scent of a Man

Fandom/Characters: Due South/ Diefenbaker, Fraser (gen)
Rating: PG-13
Length: 1500 words
Summary: Four times Diefenbaker saved his packmate.
Challenge: Written for ds_shakespeare's prompt #78: "If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die? And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge?" - Merchant of Venice, III. i.
Disclaimer: Diefenbaker doesn't belong to me. Neither does Fraser. Alliance/Atlantis lay claim to both.
Spoilers: For Letting Go and Bird in the Hand
Thanks to: My ever-fabulous beta slidellra.

If you prick us, do we not bleed?

I'm trapped in a hole that smells of earth, wood, and old death. A man falls on top of me and I panic. Mother warned me about humans. They were dangerous creatures, she said, clever with sticks, and would kill from a distance if you entered their territory. Father had once lived among them, but that was no life for a wolf.

So I lick the man and grovel, guessing that the hole is man territory, hoping it will let me go. It stands up, tall as an angry bear, picks me up, and throws me out of its hole. I run away. I run and run until an arctic hare startles and dashes away.

Hungry! I chase, but the hare is almost as big as I am, and the one Mother brought back for me once didn't move so fast. I slow to a stop, sides heaving, to lick my bloody paw. I didn't want the hare, anyway.

As I taste my own blood, I remember something. The man in the hole had been bleeding, too. He didn't smell angry or hungry. He smelled … worried, like Mother when she crawled into the den bloody from that last hunt.

I huddle in a hollow in the snow, shivering. A wolverine had driven me out of the den, snarling over Mother's cold form. I am alone.

I follow my own trail back to the hole and wait there, listening and scenting the air. There are no other tracks, no smell of other wolves or dogs or men on him. He is alone.

The man is big enough to hunt for us both, and he clearly needs looking after. I push a stick down for the man, and jump in. We can make a new pack, together.

If you tickle us, do we not laugh?

The world has gone silent.

I lie by the stove. Its warmth curls around me, smelling of resin and ash, but its crackle is missing. The last thing I heard was the ice groaning overhead, as I swam down into the deep cold dark, searching for pack-Ben in the water.

That was many days past. My breath comes free and clear now, and I itch to get back to work. But pack-Ben won't go out. We stay in the house, his scent heavy with sadness. More than the thunder of caribou or howls on the night wind, I miss the sound of my packmate's voice. I lift my head to watch him repairing his snowshoes, weaving a long rawhide strip through the frame.

I'm bored.

I carefully inch towards pack-Ben and stretch out my neck to sink my teeth into the end of the last rawhide strip. As he reaches for the strip, I pull it back out of reach. He glances down at me, then frowns as he leans over to grab the strip.

This calls for desperate measures. I abandon all dignity, roll over onto my stomach, and drag the rawhide across the floor between my paws while my tail flirts in the air. Pack-Ben's scent sweetens as he recognizes the call to play. It's the only warning before he lunges. I dance backwards, and we're off. A leap over the bed, skidding past the stove, he nearly traps me at the door before I feint left and dash through his legs. He dives and tackles me flat to the floor, a proper pack tangle of arms and legs, fur and flannel. Air puffs into my face as he laughs.

His hand grasps the rawhide strip. I shake my head back and forth, tugging it away again. His eyes shine as his lips move. Diefenbaker, I recognize, let go! I drop the strip, spring to my feet, and bark twice.

He freezes, and then turns away for a moment. I sigh. He turns back and kneels on the floor a few feet away. Now his mouth moves slow and deliberate. DIEFENBAKER. COME. HERE. I saunter forward and sit, lolling my tongue at him. He leans forward and hugs me, face pressed to my shoulder.

Well. This shouldn't be too difficult. It's a good thing we don't need to wait for him to become fluent in Wolf. We'd be stuck here 'til spring.

I let my tail thump the floor as I nestle down into the nape of his neck, breath in my packmate's scent, and lick. It's good to be close.

If you poison us, do we not die?

The bitch poisoned him.

It's the only explanation. I've seen pack-Ben hurt before, many times. I've seen him track with a stab wound, hunt with a concussion, climb a cliff with a broken leg, and fight with a bullet wound.

Never have I seen him turn his face to the wall. Not until now. It's not the bullet in his back. It's not the pain. For the first time since I met him, pack-Ben smells like prey, like something that would not fight back. Pack-Ray and I watch over him, all the time, to make sure nothing takes him up on the offer he makes the world with each hesitant breath.

Days and days go by.

I am resting in my chair, letting my eyes close for just a moment, when suddenly there is a figure in red, bending down over my packmate. I spring up to defend him, but it's just Not-There. Pack-Ben thinks Not-There is his dead father. I'm not so sure. It looks like him, yes. But sight is a weak sense, easily confused. Not-There has no scent, and it cannot be touched, but it always makes the air cold. I would forgive all the wrongness, if Not-There could just get my packmate out of that bed. But it fails.

A blonde female comes, makes him move, brings him to the wet place and back. I like blondes. I watch and I wait.

Pack-Ben shakes off the poison, bit by bit, coming back to life. Finally, one night, as he looks out the window, his smell sharpens to one I know as well as my own. We are on the hunt again.

And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge?

The scent of pack-Ben's blood pulls me out from cover. I slink towards the place he was hurt, hoping, fearing. Oh - he's just been shot in the leg again. What was he doing, exposing himself to fire that way? Stupid packmate! I should bite him myself.

Pack-Ray runs, firing, to protect him. I catch sight of pack-Ray's gun. He's out of bullets now. Not good.

More gunshots, sensed as a quiver at the tips of my whiskers. I peer out from behind the shelter of a crate. I always know where my packmates are, but it takes a moment to reacquire killer-Gerard and the long-coats. I start to work my way around the edge of the room. Armed men, like caribou, are best taken from behind.

Suddenly, the enemy's nerve breaks. They flee one way, while killer-Gerard runs the other. I want killer-Gerard, but the long-coats have hurt my pack, as well. I leave the wounded one to my packmates, chasing after the long-coats.

Down the stairs, along a hallway, a door closes in front of me. I throw myself at it, bounce off. It takes three tries to get the door open. Cool night air. I dart around the corner to see my prey in a white car racing away down the alleyway, leaving a scent of burning rubber behind. I throw myself into the chase. I can run down a car. I've done it before.

Something falls from the sky. The car swerves, crashing into a stack of barrels. I rush to find the long-coats inside are hurt, no immediate threat. Back-tracking, I investigate the falling-thing. It's killer-Gerard, thrown against the alley wall by the car. He's alive, but badly injured and very, very afraid. Good. He should be.

I look up. Pack-Ben and Not-There are silhouetted in a broken window. Oh, clever, clever packmate, throwing one enemy at the other, letting us catch them all! I hold in the triumphant howl that wants to burst from my throat. It's not over yet.

I lower my muzzle to the blood on killer-Gerard's throat as he flinches away, a growl rumbling low in my chest. We've spent the day protecting this man while the scent of my packmate's rage ruffled my fur, coiled my muscles tight. And now here he is, the man who shot me, betrayed and killed pack-Ben's father, tried to destroy the pack. I could finish him, easy as breathing.

Movement above. Pack-Ben is leaning out the window, gesturing at me, saying something. I can't see what it is, but I can guess.

Tasting justice, I answer.



( 44 comments — Leave a comment )
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Jun. 5th, 2007 01:51 am (UTC)
I love all of it, but this: For the first time since I met him, pack-Ben smells like prey, like something that would not fight back. Pack-Ray and I watch over him, all the time, to make sure nothing takes him up on the offer he makes the world with each hesitant breath. is most particularly awesome.
Jun. 5th, 2007 02:57 am (UTC)
Thank you, spuffyduds! Hospitals must smell like illness, injury, and death.
Jun. 5th, 2007 02:20 am (UTC)
I love the pack-ben, pack-ray way of refering to them. Dief is hard to pin down when it comes to POV, but you bring something cool to the table with this one.
Jun. 5th, 2007 02:59 am (UTC)
Thanks! It's odd to have a major character with NO canonical voice. Every writer is free to explore what feels right to them, and see if it resonates with the readers.
Jun. 5th, 2007 02:26 am (UTC)
oh! marvelous! perfect, so perfect!

Yay! Dief!

you write Dief so well....
Jun. 5th, 2007 03:03 am (UTC)
*smiles* Thanks, springwoof! May I suggest you go check out the beyond words amazingness of trelkez's "On Home and Beef Jerky"?
Jun. 5th, 2007 03:40 am (UTC)
Oh, yeah! Bring on the Dief love!!! I'd love to hear him howling in full voice one moonlit night...
Jun. 5th, 2007 04:45 am (UTC)
*grins* Wouldn't we all. I hear Dief was, at least at one point, getting more fanmail than any of the human actors on due South.
Jun. 5th, 2007 04:35 am (UTC)
Oh, lovely. I second the awesomeness of the prey comparison in Letting Go.
Jun. 5th, 2007 04:48 am (UTC)
Thank you, Mergatrude. Fraer really did look well and truly defeated, lying in that hospital bed.
Jun. 5th, 2007 06:32 am (UTC)
Awesome. I love Dief's interest in blondes and mistrust of dead!Bob.
Jun. 5th, 2007 07:41 pm (UTC)
Thank you lamentables! I think it was troyswann's Vibrato that first convinced me Dief would have a deep distrust for Dead!Bob.
Jun. 5th, 2007 01:18 pm (UTC)
I'm with spuffyduds - the quote about smelling like prey is awesome.

This almost killed me, though: More than the thunder of caribou or howls on the night wind, I miss the sound of my pack-mate's voice. Lucky for me, that was immediately followed by the keep-away.
Jun. 5th, 2007 07:49 pm (UTC)
Thank you, hurry_sundown! Dief isn't one for self-pity. Which is true of dogs, as well. Three-legged, blind, deaf, just puked their guts out - they shake it off and get on with life.
Jun. 5th, 2007 01:28 pm (UTC)
Bravo! You give Dief a unique voice. I got teary eyed reading the laughter part.
Jun. 5th, 2007 07:50 pm (UTC)
Thanks, Akite! I love that bit, too.
Jun. 5th, 2007 03:57 pm (UTC)
This is great; I love the moments you've chosen and how you've shown them to us through Dief's eyes.
Jun. 5th, 2007 08:02 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the feedback, starfishchick! Dief has this unique perspective, which is a blast to write.
Jun. 5th, 2007 04:37 pm (UTC)
I loved every word :)

I particularly like this line: The man is big enough to hunt for us both, and he clearly needs looking after.

Even as a pup, Diefenbaker had Fraser figured out.

Very nicely done!
Jun. 5th, 2007 08:07 pm (UTC)
Thank you, dragonflymuse! I'd say Dief is the only person in Fraser's life that he cannot successfully lie to (including himself). Which, actually fits nicely with that user-pic. "A wounded deer leaps highest," indeed.
Jun. 5th, 2007 06:43 pm (UTC)
I can't pick a favourite bit, I love it all too much. Your Dief voice is incredible, you picked four incredibly insightful little scenes. Really wonderful.
Jun. 5th, 2007 08:09 pm (UTC)
Thank you, kill_claudio, I'm glad it worked for you. Love the Puppy!Dief pic!
Jun. 5th, 2007 08:51 pm (UTC)
Yay! I like this a lot. Interesting Dief POV and good, insightful choice of scenes.
Jun. 5th, 2007 10:51 pm (UTC)
Thanks! The prompt provided some good inspiration for the four scenes.
Jun. 5th, 2007 11:16 pm (UTC)
Very nice. I like your Dief POV and the ways he saves Fraser more than just physically. The one where Dief lost his hearing was just so sad but still lovely and funny. Dief angst!
Jun. 6th, 2007 02:26 am (UTC)
Really, none of the four are about him saving Fraser physically, although he certainly does his share of that, too. BFF indeedy. Glad you liked it!
Dief stole my porn.
Jun. 6th, 2007 01:57 am (UTC)
I loved all the sections (particularly the "Letting Go" one) but that bit with Dief's hearing loss and Fraser's relief was really, really moving. Fraser staying inside and mending snowshoes and feeling so guilty and alone. And Dief, being so practical and ready to bounce back and pull Fraser out of himself. You touched on something very important about their relationship - it's a man and his dog and there's something very simple and profound about it all. I really loved this a whole lot.

And it made me want to get a dog.
Jun. 6th, 2007 02:36 am (UTC)
Poor Fraser really thought Dief was broken, all because of him. I'm delighted that scene moved you. I was originally planning on writing Dief's first day in a sled harness, which I might get back to some time. (Where's that Iditarod bookmark?) But this scene just needed to be written.

We never really see the two of them playing in canon. But I'm sure they did when Dief was younger and every now and then even now, on special occasions.

Life is just better with a dog.
Jun. 11th, 2007 12:41 pm (UTC)
This is such a good Dief voice. I especially like the third part.
Jun. 11th, 2007 01:55 pm (UTC)
Thank you, luzula!
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( 44 comments — Leave a comment )