Fraser got to his feet, and fell into step beside him. The autumn leaves were crisp underfoot, crunching loudly in the early morning stillness. Their breath hung in the air like a cloud. "More like an unhappy accident actually," he continued, ignoring Ray's look of disgust. "It was Elijah Cochran's twenty first birthday and we had all gathered in the..."
Ray stopped dead, throwing his hands in the air in defeat. "I don't wanna know, okay Fraser? I really don't wanna know. What you Mountie-types get up to in private is best kept that way - private! Okay?"
Fraser had walked on a few steps, but he too stopped, turning back to face his friend with a confused and slightly hurt expression on his face. "I assure you, Ray, there was nothing nefarious about our actions. Merely a group of young cadets..."
"As you wish."
Ray nodded, satisfied that Fraser had given up on the story and strode ahead. He had taken no more than three steps when his legs spontaneously wheeled him back around, and he found himself grabbing Fraser by the elbows. "C'mon Fraser, there's no way, right? This is one of your humorous Inuit fables right? There's a moral in here somewhere?"
Fraser stared blankly back at him. "There is always a moral to every story, Ray. In a round about way, one could say that the lesson here, is that there are few limits to what a person can and will do when their life is in danger."
Ray let go of Fraser's elbow and walked on, deep in thought. Now that the word 'danger' had been mentioned, his curiosity was well and truly piqued. No way could he let it drop and they both knew it. He had to know what happened. Even if it was just made up Mountie shit, he had to know. He ran a hand through his spiked up hair, feeling the sticky gel cling to his fingers as the war between curiosity and self-preservation raged inside his skull.
"Okay, okay, I'll bite!" he kicked at a pile of fallen leaves in defeat. "How come your life was in danger?"
"Well, think about it Ray. Head first, the trout is streamlined and easy to swallow, but had I gagged and tried to spit it back up, the scales would have caught in my throat and choked me. Once begun, I had no option but to keep swallowing."
"Fuck! That's sick. Fraser, that's just sick."
"Of course, that many bones would have played havoc with my digestive system. They had to airlift me to the Hospital for an emergency operation to remove the fish from my belly as the Inuit medical facilities were a somewhat primitive erection. Nothing more than a shack and a portable generator really." Ray had never really believed that 'ducking for trout' was a genuine Yukon pastime. Not even while watching Lt. Welsh stick his head into the tank at the birthday party Fraser had thrown for him a few months ago. He still didn't believe it.
"You are so full of shit Benton Fraser!"
Fraser smiled and continued to walk through the park. "Of course I am, Ray."
And once again Ray realised that he would never really know for sure. But strangely it mattered not one jot in the greater scheme of things. Let Fraser have his small piece of Inscrutability. It was nice to know that there were somethings that would remain a mystery about his friend. To Ray, that added depth and solidity to the man beneath the uniform. It made him real.
QUOTE FROM ECLIPSE
Elaine: "Is that a traditional Inuit game?"