There seemed to be some kind of commotion at the gelaterie and cafe involving the proprietor and a pair of llamas, but Fraser couldn't see any immediate need for intervention and Ray clearly needed coffee urgently. He'd been up half the night before having a staring competition with Dief -- a fruitless endeavour if ever there was one, and Fraser could have told him that, but every time Fraser tried to reason with either of them, they'd growl in unison. Apparently it was just one of those things that needed to be settled between man and wolf.
It hadn't made a particularly good spectator sport, however, and Fraser had given up and gone to bed by ten-thirty. Whereas Ray and Dief claimed they'd mutually agreed on a draw when the sun came up at six o'clock.
It had taken considerable work to rouse Ray from his slumber and bully him -- well, Fraser didn't like to think of himself as bullying anyone, so much as convincing them of the necessity for action, should they wish to achieve certain goals, but that was by the by. He had eventually persuaded Ray to dress, don sunglasses, and accompany him to the cafe for a late breakfast. Said persuasion had involved numerous promises of coffee, and Fraser was honorbound to deliver.
He sat Ray with his back to the morning sun, and signaled to the unfamiliar woman behind the counter for a large cup of strong coffee and a pot of Earl Grey, both of which were produced promptly and without disruption to the animated discussion that Gino seemed to be having with the llamas.
Fraser raised his eyebrows at that -- he hadn't been aware that Gino spoke camelid.
"What's this?" asked Ray, when the coffee was set before him. His nose was wrinkled in doubt.
"Latte," said the woman, briskly.
Fraser glanced at her, startled and distracted from Ray's charms, and tried to figure out why her voice was so familiar, but then she unloaded the teapot, the cup and saucer, the milk jug, the strainer, the teaspoon and the sugar bowl from her tray, and he got distracted arranging these in a logical order so that the teapot wouldn't drip into the sugar bowl when he poured his first cup.
"Fraser." The alarm in Ray's voice made him glance up. Ray's cup was half empty already and his hands were -- his fingers had darkened. Hardened.
"Something's queer," said Ray, "and I don't mean us, for once. What's happening to me, Fraser?" His hair was thickening, frizzing, and his ears appeared to be sliding up his head.
Fraser's heart froze. Surely not! "You seem to be-- Ray." He reached across the table, carelessly casting aside the strainer and his cup, and took Ray's -- paw. "Ray, I love you."
"I know that," said Ray, impatiently. "It's what the fuck's going on that I don't have a clue about!"
"Well, to an untrained eye, you seem to be morphing, that is -- transfiguring--"
"Turning, Fraser!" Ray's voice was hoarse and growly now. "What into?!"
"A koala," said Fraser, taking a deep breath to keep his panic at bay.
"A Koala-ski, to be more accurate," said the waitress, appearing beside their table. "It suits you!"
"Who are you?" asked Fraser, helplessly. "What have you done to Ray?!"
"A Koala-ski what?" repeated Ray. "And hey, either of you got any gum?" Those were the last words he spoke. His nose grew large and black and shiny, and his voicebox apparently shifted so he couldn't form words anymore.
"Dear Lord." Fraser jumped to his feet and grabbed the waitress, shaking her till her teeth rattled. "Who are you?"
china: Hi, I have no idea who the waitress is -- help?
mergatrude: Aren't there several dialects of camelid?
Beside the point.
WHO IS The VILLAINESS?
mergatrude: Aside from you?
china: Why meeee?
mergatrude: You WROTE IT!
china: *looks wounded*
not my fault?
mergatrude: At least I am in no way responsible for THIS!
china: Ha! *blames you anyway*
mergatrude: Heeeeeeee! *pouts* It's my fault for encouraging every cracked idea you ever have, isn't it!?
china: *koff* I mean gives you credit anyway
mergatrude: Someone Fraser recognises...
china: I wondered if it was a Bolt brother in drag, actually.
mergatrude: It's not the bank robber from Free Willy?
china: No, Fraser would've recognised her sooner.
mergatrude: Ian MacDonald in drag??
china: It could be yet another Mackenzie King.
IAN MCDONALD IN DRAG!
mergatrude: Maybe his alien girlfriend gave him special powers?
china: You got it.
Now it's your fault.
mergatrude: (and turned him into a girl)
His alien lesbian girlfriend.
Is it strange that I LIKE what you do to my brain??
china: Think of it as shiatsu for the mind.
china: Ian MacDonald.
Okay, so what's her name now?
mergatrude: Tina is good!@!!!!!
china: No, that's my cousin.
Then there can be Casablanca refs!
mergatrude: I am picturing Fraser with a pissy koala hanging off him! Poor boy!
china: I know, and Kowalski's going to be all, "I WANT SOME EUCALYPTUS!" And smelly and cranky.
mergatrude: YES! And sleepy!
china: Okay. So. Tina McDonald. Does she have a plan? Or has she just been experimenting with stuff to try and turn back into a guy, and it keeps going wrong?
mergatrude: And how does she know he's Kowalski?
china: She's been spying on them. She's overheard gossip. Whatever.
mergatrude: And would we expect her to tell the truth, anyway?
china: Well, nooo. But there oughta be an element of the truth in her lies.
Note: I am not actually planning to write much more of this. Maybe a paragraph at most.
mergatrude: I don't think you can.
mergatrude: I mean, not without risking being committed...