Disclaimer: due South belongs to, like, some Pauls and television companies and stuff.

Notes: Written for ds_flashfiction's Fantastic First Line Festival. First line taken from KassRachel's Ask.

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Ten Feet Under

I woke up three days before Christmas in a pit, and I couldn't see my way out. I could, though, feel that my ankle was probably busted and that I was covered in drool from a wolf who is apparently claustrophobic.

Just- great.

Rubbing my hand through my hair (which? Ow) I blink and sit up. I'm almost immmediately flattened again by the Diefster who is whimpering loudly and licking at my face like I've suddenly turned into frosting.

"Hey, off!" I push and shove until the great hairy doofus gets it into his head that he's kinda heavy and I have no intention of drowning at any time, let alone down a freaking hole in the ground and in wolf spit.

Dief moves to sit next to me and we lean on each other. I don't know about him, but I can see precisely buttkiss.

It's cold and I shiver slightly before tucking my gloved hands into my armpits as I try to figure things out. Stuff like; why is there a hole? And; why the fuck am I in the hole?

At first I think it's a trick, but then I realsie that is actually seems to be getting brighter. Before I can wonder why, the moon bursts out from behind a covering of thick cloud and saturates everything in silver-white light.

Dief and I stare up. I can see tree branches and the edges of the hole, which must be at least eight feet deep.

Now I remember. Fraser had indoor statue duty at the Consulate for some Christmas shindig, so it was just going to be me and the Diefster for the evening. We'd eaten dinner and television had utterly failed to have anything interesting to watch so I decided to take Dief for a walk. After the ten minutes it took me to convince the stubborn animal that Fraser hadn't sucked out my brains and I wasn't turningg over a new fitness-heavy, donut-light leaf, we headed for the park.

It had actually stopped snowing in the afternoon so it actually wasn't that bad wandering around the park. Dief, once he'd managed to con a pretzel out of the one remaining food vendor that was still out, even seemed to be enjoying himself. Just watching him charge around in the snow was enough to wear me out and I decided that it was more than time to go home.

Dief seemed to have different ideas and completely ignored me when I called him. I guess I should be used to being ignored by Canadians by now- it's practically one of the central com-- commandants of my life.

But, no. Clever old me decides he's going to be listened to by at least one Canadian, even if that one is supposedly deaf and rates licking his own butt as a hobby. It that pastry devouring machine is deaf, then I'm a freaking duck.

That's why I stomped into the trees after Dief. It was pitch black in there, because- duh, night time, Ray- and it took God only knows how long for me to spot him. The furry pain in the ass was circling around a patch of ground in a clearing a short way ahead of me.

"What the hell d'ya think you're doing?" I asked loudly.

Dief jerked his head up to look at me and whined. Told you he wasn't deaf.

"Don't give me that," I said as I walked across the clearing towards him. "Some of us are freezing cold and want to go home. I'm sure that patch of dirt will wait for you to come back-"

Whatever else I'm about to say was cut off because Dief barks warningly at me and leaped forwards, knocking me over. Reaching the ground seems to take a hell of a lot longer than it should and I just had time to register that I'm actually falling down, not over, before I hit frozen soil and a large wolf landed on my head.

I blink and glare at the Dief-shaped outline next to me before elbowing him solidly. "This is all your fault."

Dief makes an apologetic sound and leans even more firmly against my side.

Normal cops- normal people- they go out walking their dog and, well. First off it's actually a dog, not a wolf with a processed food addiction. Anyway; they go for a walk, what's the worst that could happen to them? They get rained on, or their dog finds them a dead squirrel, or a flasher jumps out of the bushes at them. Y'know, normal stuff. I'd kill for a flasher to jump out on me, and not for any kinky reasons, but just because it'd be something refreshingly sane and not bizarre.

But, no- Ray partnered, and decided to shack up wtih, a Mountie who makes Superman looks like a wimp and who keeps freakiness magnets in his pockets- I don't get normal. I get wolves who find fucking bear pits in the middle of Chicago, push my in them and then concuss me with their stinky butt.

Sometimes I hate my life.

It's really cold, wolf non-withstanding, the park's probably deserted because it's the middle of the freaking night and no-one knows where we are.

This? Definitely a time when I'm hating my life.

Dief stands up and wanders around the confines of the pit. From the sounds of it, he's sniffing at the frozen soil. My side feels cold without him leaning there.

A little voice in my head that sounds disturbingly like Fraser starts in on some crazy Inuit story about falling down crevasses and I groan, bang my forehead with one hand and then swear. My head's one big bruise. I forgot that.

Dief howls suddenly and I swear again.

"Put a sock in it!" I scrunch my face up as Dief woofs right in my ear and licks the side of my face. "Dammit, Dief!"

The little Fraser, who's apparently moved into my head full time starts chattering on about the athletic abilities of Arctic wolves and I herocially choke down the urge to scream. Way before I turn into a Raysicle, I'm going to Canadian myself to death.

I really hate my life.

In a vain attempt to distract myself I manage to lurch to my- argh- foot and limp over to one of the walls. I lean against it and tentatively prod my right ankle. It feels all puffy and squishy through my jeans and, also? Pain!

"Ow," I mumble as I rest my head against the earth of the wall. It's icy cold, big surprise, and gritty to the touch. The throbbing in my ankle intensifies the pain in my head and, not to be left out, every other part of my body begins to ache.

I feel like shit and barely notice Dief sniffing around my feet, scratching fitfully at the soil and then vanishing off to the far side of the pit. Dief starts making these strange wuffling and snorting sounds, kinda like he does when Fraser insists that they're having a conversation.

"Hey." I twist my head sideways and squint at the vague wolf-shape in the gloom. "What're you up to? I don't think you can dig out."

More funny wolf noises. I sigh.

"I don't have Fraser's freaky wolf-fu, Dief." Even though, you know, I'm having a conversation with one right now. I think the cold's making me delusional.

An unexpected volley of barks makes me duck my head and clap my hands over my ears. "Christ!"

Before I have a chance to shout anything more, Dief's leaping at me- over me- his paws kicking and scrabbling as he uses me as an experimental ladder. I yelp as one of his paws kicks me in the eye, quickly followed by two of them drumming on my head.

I topple backwards, arms windmilling, and hit the ground, winding myself so that instead of yelling I let out a pathetic squeak. Frozen mulch and clods of earth shower down on me and I see Dief peering over the edge of the pit. He barks once and vanishes.

I groan pathetically and close my eyes.

I really, really hate my life.

"Ray, Ray, Ray!"

"Mmrrf," I mumble and try to burrow under the bedcovers, sleepily puzzled as to why the bedroom's so cold.

"Ray!" Fraser isn't giving up and now he's slapping my face which is so not buddies it's not true.

"Ray, wake up!"

I mumble something that, in my head, sounds like 'piss off' and crack open my eyes. Fraser's face is right in front of mine. His eyes are wide and his expression is scared in the yellow light of the lantern that's sitting next to my head. Somewhere above Fraser there's a woofing sound.

Oh, yeah. That's why it's so cold.

"I don't know," Fraser snaps. "He appears to be incoherant."

"Hey." I try to sit up. "I'm not inco- inca- whatever. I'm not. Ow." As well as aching, everything's stiff, and none of it in a good way.

"Ray!" Fraser practically drags me into a sitting position and wraps me in a hug.

"Hey." The pair of us sound like broken records. It seems to be all I can say, rather like Fraser just saying 'Ray' which... at least we rhyme. Christ, maybe I am inco- whatever.

"Um, hey," I repeat. "Not that I'm not happy to see you an' all, but we're in a hole in the ground."

"Yes, Ray."

"Which is all your wolf's fault."

Dief whines overhead. I crane my neck back to stare in his general direction and catch sight of a ladder.

"Fraser, there's a ladder."

Fraser shakes himself slightly and finally seems to remember that, hello- hole.

"Of course, Ray. If you'll just let me-" Fraser starts groping my legs.

"This is so not the time, Fraser!"

Fraser rocks back on his heels and I can see that he's blushing. Jeez. "No, ah, I was merely trying to posistion you for a fireman's carry in order to facilitate an exit-"

"Fraser, I can climb up a ladder myself."

Fraser gets a slightly pissy expression. "You are hypothermic, quite possibly concussed, and have a badly sprained ankle."

"And covered in bruises 'cause your wolf landed on me." I feel the need to add. "I can get myself up one little ladder."

Fraser gives a weary sigh. "As you wish." He stands up and offers me a hand up.

Once I'm standing- note this please; Ray Kowalski is not a wuss. He can still function after falling down a great big hole in the ground. Partnering a mad Mountie with no sense of self preservation and a- a- fetish for jumping off tall buildings and dragging his partner with him is obviously good for something.

Okay, so Fraser may be partly holding me up and, yeah, I'm swaying as I limp to the ladder. But it's me that climbs up the ladder. Fraser kinda pushing me up doesn't help at all, even though it feels like the longest ten feet I've ever climbed.

I scramble over the edge and pretty much collapse on the ground for a moment until Dief bounces over and starts slobbering on my head.

"Oi!" I lurch to my feet and wobble slightly. For some reason, there are car headlights shining through the trees.

Fraser appears next to me and I sag against him.

"Whose car?" I ask stupidly.

"Yours, Ray." Fraser cracks his neck. "I found it parked on the street and availed myself of the spare key you gave me."

I blink. "You drove my car?"

"Yes, Ray." Fraser starts us moving towards the Goat.

"Off the road and along the sidewalk?"

"Yes, Ray."

"Which is illegal, and then you drove it around the park- which is also illegal- and drove here?"

Another neck crack. "After Diefenbaker located a storage shed and I liberated a ladder, yes, Ray."

"You stole a ladder as well?" For some reason that cracks me up and I start to laugh.

Fraser coughs and directs me around to the passenger door of the GTO. He unlocks it and I sink gratefully into the seat.

"It seemed sensible to obtain a means for extracting you from that pit."

Dief jumps onto the back seat and sticks his nose in my ear. I shove him away and turn to look at Fraser as he settles into the driver's seat and keys the ignition. The engine rumbles to life and I groan happily as the car heater kicks in.

"I should take you to hospital," Fraser says.

"Nuh uh." I shake my head, even though it makes my eyes throb. "I need to go home, drink coffee, warm up in the shower and then fall into bed."

"Ray, you could well have a concussion, not to mention hypothermia."

I snort as Fraser carefully guides the car across the snowy ground. "I've had plenty of concussions and you must be an expert on things freezing off, Mister Northwest Areas."

"But, your ankle" Fraser says weakly. I know that he likes hospitals even less than I do, so I press on as the car bumps over the sidewalk and onto the road.

"I'll go tomorrow. I just want to go home and warm up with you."

Fraser licks his lips and gives me an uncertain look. "Very well, but if I'm at all worried-"

"Then you can cart me off to the E.R." I move one of my hands from where they're clamped over an air vent and rest it on Fraser's knee. "C'mon, let's go home."

Fraser rests his hand over mine for a moment, squeezing my fingers. I guess that I'll be dealing with him freaking out over this later, once he's sure that I'm alright myself.

"Home it is," he says softly.

As we drive off into the night, it begins to snow. My hand on Fraser's knee is warm and heavy.

Maybe I don't hate my life so much after all.

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