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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.



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.