The Price of Expedience
Authors' Notes: This is a revision of the story we wrote for the DS_Undercover challenge. You can find the original version of the story here. Due to the looming deadline and the fact that Mia and Speranza live in two different hemispheres, we weren't able to have a final pow-wow about what the story should look like, and at some point the thing had to be sent in. But this, we think, is more clearly what we wanted the story to look like. Hope you enjoy!
While he'd been expecting a stealth attack for some time, he wasn't prepared for her swiftness. Before Fraser could react, Francesca Vecchio's tongue was halfway down his throat.
She'd backed him up against the filing cabinet in the resource room. "Look, mistletoe!" she'd said, pointing at the ceiling, and Fraser made the mistake of looking up.
After that, it was all a big blur of Francesca's hand grabbing his collar, her soft mouth, her soft breasts, and Fraser's own incipient panic attack.
"Francesca!" he said, and his voice sounded strange and distant over the thud of his heartbeat. He attempted to extricate himself. Behind him, something crashed, but he didn't dare turn around. "I consider you a colleague! A sister. Ray's sister. And—and, I'm gay."
Francesca froze, and Fraser almost collapsed in relief. "What?" she said. She pulled back.
What? Fraser replayed the last few seconds in his head. There was the kiss, and then he'd knocked over—oh dear, he rather suspected that had been Detective Dewey's favourite pot plant. And then, he'd said—oh. Oh. Francesca twitched as though she were about to swoop in again. "Gay!" Fraser said again, clutching at the word like a drowning man. "Gay as—gay as a young girl dancing around a maypole."
Francesca opened her mouth and then closed it again. "You know, that actually explains so— Wait." Her eyes narrowed suspiciously.
"I've had the occasional aberration," Fraser said quickly.
"Oh," Frannie said. "So—really? Gay?
"Yes." Fraser smoothed down his tunic, readjusted his lanyard with shaking fingers. "Quite gay. I uh—I enjoy the company of men. In a very gay way."
"Huh." Francesca patted her hair. "Oh, well," she shrugged. "You want the Ilinovsky files, right?" She smiled suddenly, and it was the most professional, impersonal smile Fraser had ever seen from her.
He sighed in profound relief. "That's exactly right," he said.
"Your Great Uncle Tiberius had homosexual tendencies in his youth, you know," Fraser's father said, conversationally, while Fraser was still recovering in the men's room. "They often found him frolicking naked in the snow with the local boys. Girls too. He was quite the charmer until he went insane."
"I'm not gay, Dad," Fraser said irritably. He splashed cold water on his face.
"It's nothing to be ashamed of, son. I kissed Buck Frobisher once. Of course, we'd been snowed in for nearly a month by then, rations down to nothing. Thought we'd never see a woman again. It's surprising what can be attractive in a situation like that. I suppose in the right circumstances, I might even have eaten him," he mused.
"I'm not gay!" Fraser said again, interrupting this terrifying reminiscence. "I just— And then Francesca— I panicked."
His father looked at him doubtfully. "I don't know," he said. "Turning tail when a pretty girl shakes her tail. Sounds pretty nancy to me."
"I've never heard such nonsense."
"That's what your Uncle Tiberius always said." His father peered at him. "How's the psyche holding up? Not feeling crazy, are you?"
"You mean, aside from the fact than I'm talking to a non-corporeal entity?"
"Good to know!" his father said. He patted Fraser's back with his non-corporeal hand.
Ten minutes later, Fraser crept cautiously out of the men's room, nose still numb from all the cold water. He jumped at Lieutenant Welsh's voice.
"Constable, a moment!" Welsh beckoned, and then ushered Fraser into his office. "Look, uh, I am required by federal law to give you a copy of this handout, produced by the City government, regarding sexual orientation—"
Fraser blinked as Welsh handed him a lavender-colored booklet. "Uh..."
"-and your right not to be harassed. I think you'll find that today's police force is very understanding about these things."
"Lieutenant, there's been some mistake." Fraser blurted. "I mean, there was one woman in Stillwater with a very masculine face, but—"
"Please don't feel that you have anything to hide," Welsh said, sounding as if he were reciting grammar rules. "We in the police force acknowledge that this is difficult for you, but please be assured that you have our full and entire support." Welsh took a deep breath and seemed to steel himself. "And if you ever need to talk about your feelings—"
"Please, no," Fraser said in horror. He tugged at his collar. "I mean, thank you, Lieutenant, but that won't be necessary."
"Oh, thank God," Welsh said. He collapsed into his chair. "Danny's your LGBT rep. You can talk to him instead."
"It really was a lie, sir. I was desperate. Francesca—"
Welsh's face cleared. "Oh, I see. You were trying to avoid— Well, better men than you, Constable," he said grimly. "And as I said, let us never speak of this again."
Fraser nodded. "Understood, sir."
Becky from the bursar's office didn't even look up as Fraser walked past, which was unusual. But Danny grabbed his arm and beamed at him.
"Hey, Fraser!" he said. "Welcome to the clan! Here, have a free pass to the Waterworks. Two-for-one drinks for Friday night." Danny handed him- well, it seemed to be some sort of coupon. The Waterworks' symbol seemed to be a faucet and taps, or perhaps that was—oh.
Danny was beaming with pride. Fraser sighed. "I have to tell you the truth, Danny," he said. "I'm not gay."
"Oh," Danny said. His face fell. "Not even a little bit?"
"I'm sorry," Fraser said.
Late that night, there was a knock at the Consulate door. Fraser sighed and cracked his neck, then slipped out of his warm bed.
Ray was at the door, blond hair spiked messily, as though he'd just gotten out of bed himself. "Hi."
"I, uh." Ray scratched the back of his neck. "I. You know. Heard. What you said, and. Is it, is it true, Fraser?"
"Well—" Fraser said. He stopped. Ray was watching him intently, biting his lip, rocking hopefully on his heels. "Yes," he said. "Yes, it is," and stepped back to let Ray in.