But fishing, Ray heard while he threaded bait onto his hook. Fishing is ridiculous!
“You’re not wrong,” Ray muttered with a slight smile. “Mort, you weird old bastard, you are not wrong.”
Behind him, he could hear Fraser sawing at the ice. Ray refused to look. The sight freaked him out too much, so he baited Fraser’s hook, too, while he was waiting — though for Fraser’s all-clear or for the sound of his splashing into the frigid water and dying, Ray wasn’t sure. Both seemed equally possible at this point. He tried not to think about it too much.
Finally, he heard a small splash — much too quiet to be Fraser or Dief, he assured himself — and Fraser said Aha in a triumphant kind of way.
“You get it?” Ray asked without looking.
“You bet,” Fraser answered him. “We’re ready to go.”
Ray turned, careful not to slip on the ice, and grinned. He’d been waiting for this moment all day.
“Nice hole,” he said finally.
Fraser’s reaction was well worth Ray’s patience. His face — already pink from the cold and wind — went even redder, and he coughed. He didn’t run away or start talking about Inuit legends the way he might have in the old days.
Instead, he looked down at the ice and said, “Nice rod.”
Ray barked out a surprised laugh, while Dief woofed in approval and Fraser looked pleased as punch.
Ray shook his head, but handed Fraser his pole. “Fishing is ridiculous.”
Fraser lowered his line into the grey water that was gently lapping at the edges of the hole he’d carved. “That may be true,” he admitted, “but there’s no one I’d rather be ridiculous with, Ray.”
Ray felt his own cheeks burning as he dropped his line beside Fraser’s. And I you, he thought, but he didn’t say it. He didn’t really need to.