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New Trunk Smell

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Mrs. Vecchio has been making spaghetti since five o'clock. Spaghetti is, apparently, her way of coping with recent events; Ben is fairly sure that Ray didn't give her a detailed account, but Francesca undoubtedly did. So now Ray is wrapped in a thick blanket - hypothermia can set in at any time after you've been in a lake, it seems - and the Vecchios' dining room table is loaded with more spaghetti than two grown men could ever eat in one sitting.

"And you know what I hate most about being locked in the trunk of a car, Fraser?"

He hears his name, and his head snaps up automatically. "Well, I could hazard a guess, Ray-"

Ray twirls a little more spaghetti around his fork, somehow managing to use the fork to gesture at Ben at the same time.

"It's the smell, Fraser. Like oil spills and old socks and stale beer, all together." Ray emphasizes together with another swirl of his fork. "They should make an air freshener for car trunks."

"In case you ever get locked in one again?"


"Mmm," Ben says, which seems the best possible response. And then, because Ray is looking up at him now, still waiting for a more expansive reply: "Where would you hang it?"

That stops Ray short; his fork stills in mid-motion. "What do you mean, 'where would you hang it'?"

"The air freshener, Ray." Fraser scoops a small stack of cut-up spaghetti pieces onto his fork, hoping that Mrs. Vecchio won't notice that he's mostly playing with his food at this point. "Don't they hang?"

Ray frowns. "What, like from rearview windows?"

"Precisely." Mrs. Vecchio is peering into the dining room again, undoubtedly checking on Ray's good health, so Ben makes a point of taking the largest possible bite of spaghetti.

"Not all air fresheners hang, Fraser - some of them spray," Ray says, his tone indicating that perhaps there aren't any aerosol spray bottles in Canada.

Ben nudges the remainder of his spaghetti into a pile. "So what you're really looking for is a room spray?"

Ray hesitates. "Yeah, maybe."

"What you might call a trunk spray," Ben says, just to clarify.

Ray stares at him for a moment, and then makes a violent gesture with his fork. "Are you making fun of me, Benny?"

"Absolutely not. In the future, all policemen will be equipped with trunk spray for covert operations, Ray."

He's usually pretty good at holding in his laughter, but there's something about the situation that just won't let him maintain his composure. It starts with a subtle quake in the motions of his fork against his spaghetti pile, and then it expands into a faint rumble in his shoulders, and before Ben knows it, he's laughing out loud and Ray is giving him a positively deadly glare.

He reins it in and clears his throat, carefully not looking at Ray.

"I'm sorry, Ray - I'm sorry," he says, determinedly fiddling with the spaghetti pile again.

"It isn't funny, Fraser," Ray says, and pulls the blanket a little closer around him, as though to emphasize that he did, after all, almost die in the trunk of a car.

"Absolutely not funny," Ben agrees, and means it.

"Those trunks smell awful," Ray mutters.

That alone would have been tolerable, but then Mrs. Vecchio yells from the kitchen, "Do you want more spaghetti?"

Ben laughs so hard he drops his fork in the process, but he doesn't feel too bad about that - because when he looks up, Ray is laughing, too.