alex51324 (alex51324) wrote,

DVD Commentary: I Coulda Been A Defendant

I mentioned to Hibernia1 that I wanted to do commentary on one of the short due South pieces, and she suggested  I Coulda Been a Defendant, written late for the ds_flashfiction episode title challenge.

Title:  I Coulda Been a Defendant
Rating:  G
Summary:  Fraser discovers that he is an habitual law-breaker, and insists that Ray arrest him.  Gen.   Humor, short, unbeta'd.

A/N:  I have totally failed at writing anything for the new flashfiction challenge, but here is yet another story that could've gone in the last one.  I've also got another long Fraser/RayK story in the works, so look for that in a few days.   [That long story ended up being the epic, "The Reaching Out One."  Man, I was productive in the Spring of '08.]  


“Ray.” Fraser rushed out to the car to meet him. “I’ve just made a rather startling discovery.”

Ray closed his eyes for a second. From Fraser, that could mean anything from “Turnbull wears a leather corset under his uniform at all times” to “a rare species of dust mite is living in the Consulate drapes.”  [One of the fun things about dS is that you can be as ridiculous as you want to be, and still be canon-compliant.  But you can also be as serious and angsty as you want to be...and still be canon-compliant.  The show has the emotional range of...something with a really long range.] 

Once Fraser had gotten into the car, he said, “What discovery?” He’d have to find out sooner or later. Even if it was the Turnbull thing, which it better not be.

“The Chicago criminal code forbids the building of open fires in parks, except in portable metal containers or grills, in areas designated by the General Superintendent,” Fraser quoted. [Actual quote!  I looked it up!]

“Uh, yeah.”

“I’ve been breaking the law. Several times. Repeatedly. I am a repeat offender.”

“So? It’s a stupid law. We only enforce it when we wanna make some homeless person move along, or kids having a kegger, stuff like that.”

“Selective enforcement is one step along the path to tyranny, Ray.”

“Yeah, and the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step,” Ray said. He had no idea what Fraser was getting at, but matching Fraser’s cryptic and irrelevant statements with dumb and irrelevant ones of his own was a new strategy he was trying out.  [This saying popped into Ray's mind because it has the word "step" in it...he didn't think through how it would seem to reinforce Fraser's point.]  

“Precisely.” Fraser looked at him like he expected Ray to do something.

“What? What do you want me to do? Next time you want to build a fire, we’ll get a portable metal container and I’ll take you to a designated area, okay?”

“Thank you kindly, Ray.” Fraser kept giving him that expectant look.


“You’ll need to arrest me.”

“I am not arresting you for building fires in the park, Fraser.”

“As an officer of the law, you have no choice.”

“Yeah, I do, and I am choosing not to.”  [And in those two lines, we have the difference between Ray and Fraser.  For Fraser, duty is a choice that you make once, and then never have to make again.  For Ray, it's something you choose over and over again--or don't choose, as the situation warrants.  Fraser's system works in a world where there is always one right thing to do.  Ray's works in a world where sometimes all of the choices are both a little bit right and a little bit wrong.  The second fun thing about dS is that you can explore big issues like that even in a humorous story.] 

“Didn’t we just agree that selective enforcement was--”

“I bet you don’t know what the statute of limitations is on illegal fire-building. It’s, uh, two weeks,” Ray lied. “You haven’t built any illegal fires in the last two weeks, have you?” Maybe he should’ve said one week. Or one day.

“It is not.”

“How do you know?”

“I looked it up. If you refuse to arrest me, I’ll have to ask one of the others to do it, and I’d rather it was you.” Fraser ducked his head shyly.  [Third fun thing about dS--you can be as slashy as this, and still have it be a gen story.] 

“I helped you build some of those illegal fires,” Ray pointed out. “I can’t arrest you for illegal fire-building when I’m an accessory to illegal fire-building myself.”

“You have a point.”

“Yes. Yes, I do.”

“You’ll have to arrest yourself as well.”  [In Fraser's moral universe, there is absolutely nothing insane about this.]

Ray thumped his head against the steering wheel.


 [The big jump here is exactly what the show would do--we don't have to see Ray making the decision to go along with the crazy Mountie, because it's a foregone conclusion that he will.  But what's important here is that Ray isn't agreeing with Fraser's conception of duty--he still thinks it's completely and totally whacked.  But he is accepting that for Fraser, it's real, and that to be Fraser's friend he has to act on it.  Fraser's ends up in the judge's chambers out of loyalty to the abstract construct of justice and duty--Ray is there out of loyalty to Fraser.  Or possibly love, which to Fraser can be diametrically opposed to duty (see, Victoria), but to Ray is always and everywhere the same thing  (see, bank incident).] 

“Detective Vecchio.” They were meeting with Judge Hawkins in her chambers prior to trial.

“Yeah. I mean, yes. Your honor. Ma’am.” This had to be the most embarrassing episode of his life. Including pissing himself in the bank. At least that had been over quick. This, he’d been dreading for a week. 

“There seems to be a problem with this arrest report. You’ve put your own name in the spot for the name of the arrestee.”

“Uh, yeah. That’s…I meant to do that.” There was no sane way to explain that.  [Unless you're Fraser.] 

“You…arrested yourself?”

“I did. He made me.” Ray indicated his co-defendant with his elbow.

“Detective, is this some kind of joke?” It was clear from her expression that the judge didn’t find it at all funny.

“I wish it was,” Ray said truthfully.

“Your honor,” Fraser broke in. “If I may make a statement?”

She closed her eyes briefly. “Go ahead.”

“As a guest in this city, indeed in this country, it was my responsibility and mine alone to learn your local laws before taking any action that might be contrary to those laws. My ignorance of the law is no excuse at all, and I am thoroughly ashamed of myself and my behavior. I am completely guilty and I wish to throw myself on the mercy of the court.” He cleared his throat and looked expectantly at Ray.

“Oh. I, uh, wish to request that you throw the book at these here hardened criminals. They, uh--Fraser, I’m not saying the second part.”

Fraser filled in, “He’d like to say that these two malfeasants recklessly endangered this city and its inhabitants and structures with these repeated acts of unlawful fire-building, and for their own safety and that of the city of Chicago they should be punished to the fullest extent the law allows.” [Ray could not say this part with a straight face.] 

“Yeah, uh, hanging’s too good for these guys,” Ray ad-libbed.

“Ray,” Fraser said.


“So you were speaking as the arresting officer just now,” Hawkins said.

“Yes. Speakin’ as a criminal scumbag, I’d like to say we won’t ever do it again, and, uh, we’re very sorry, and we only did it ‘cause he’s from Canada and up there it’s OK to burn stuff, and me I’m just too dumb to say no to him, which explains what we’re doing here in more ways than one, if you get my drift.”  [And here's another difference--Fraser practically fetishizes his conception of Duty, even though it makes him look ridiculous to other people.  Ray denigrates his, even though it's--comparatively at least--pretty understandable to most outside observers.]

She looked back and forth between the two of them. “I see. Will eight hours of community service satisfy you?” she asked Fraser.

“Is that eight hours per fire?”

She looked at the arrest report. “No. Eight hours total.”

“Sixteen might be more reflective of the severity of the offense.”  [No need for dialogue tags on these two statements--there's only one person in Chicago who'd say them.]

“Eight’s good,” Ray said. “I like eight.” Sixteen hours meant blowing a whole weekend on this thing.

“We’ll make it twelve. Does that satisfy you?”

“Yeah. I’ll take twelve,” Ray said quickly, just in case Fraser managed to talk her up even further. “C’mon, Frase, take the deal. If you don’t feel like you’ve been punished enough afterwards, you can spend a couple hours helping old ladies across the street on your own time.”

“That’s true. I’ll agree to twelve as well,” he told the judge.

She signed and stamped some documents. “Sign here, and here, and report to the bailiff to schedule your community service.”



“I hate you. I just wanna go on record saying that,” Ray said, looking at the giant pile of mulch they were going to be spending their Saturday putting on flowerbeds.

“Nonsense, Ray. A few hours of hard work in the out of doors will be just the thing to teach us the error of our ways.” In a display of just how unfair life was, the reflective orange vest the Park District gave him to wear actually looked good on him. Ray looked like a low-rent Halloween decoration. [You know that would be true.] 

“Just the thing to teach me the error of ever listening to you, maybe.”

“It’s true that if you hadn’t aided and abetted my criminal behavior, you wouldn’t be in this mess. Perhaps you need to learn not to bow to peer pressure.”

“Yeah, you’re a real bad influence.” Ray picked up his park-district issue shovel. “Since this is all your fault, you can be in charge of the wheelbarrow.”


[And, credits!  This story would work perfectly as the teaser an episode, wouldn't it?  While doing their community service, naturally, Ray and Fraser would stumble across the crime of the week--maybe it's one of their fellow malfeasants who is in bigger trouble than what got him assigned to community service, maybe they interrupt a mugging...could be anything.  Then the episode would end with Fraser insisting that now that they've caught the bad guy, they have to get back to the park and finish up with the mulch.]

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