Kelly, the Moo owes you an apology and the newbies an explanation.
Usually birthday fics are happy in some way. The nature of the beast. Kelly asked for Ray V's reflections upon turning 30.
Thing is, the Moo's bunnies didn't see it as funny or even happy. Every time the Moo even tried to think "happy" the bunnies bit viciously. Kelly, it just seems to the bunnies that 30 was really rough on Ray. Take consolation, if you wish, in the fact that your 30th couldn't possibly be worse than his.
The Moo tries to do every fic the best she can, and forcing this to be funny - she couldn't face it. It would have been dishonest and, therefore, not a true gift for you. She hopes you understand.
Ray was at his desk, trying to write a report. The case had been interesting. Writing the report was boring. Such was the nature of report-writing. Or any writing, come to that. Boring. And even worse today when he didn't feel like working. Ray was more musing than composing, when he became aware of a looming presence.
"Happy birthday, Vecchio," said Welsh.
Ray looked up. "Oh, thank you, sir. How did you know?"
"I saw a Mountie go by, carrying a live fish." Welsh squinted and scratched the back of his neck, showing he was reflecting seriously, "You know, a couple of years ago that sentence wouldn't have made any sense."
"Well, Fraser makes his own reality, sir," As it happened, Ray's mood was also reflective. "Actually he sort of changes everyone's reality, doesn't he?"
"That he does." Welsh agreed. "I wasn't supposed to tell you he came in, by the way. He wants this year's party to be a surprise. Snuck into the canteen while you were in the john. Don’t tell him I told you."
Welsh drifted back to his own office, leaving Ray still reflecting. The big three – five today. Ma would have his favourite gnocchi, and some nice big steaks for supper. Three-layer chocolate cake with lots of candles. Maria's kids would sing 'Happy Birthday' and he'd let them blow out the candles for him. Benny would lecture them all on fire safety. A day in the life of the Vecchio family.
The big three – five. Not really supposed to be a milestone, but here it was five years since the big three – oh. Ray started thinking about how his own reality had changed on that other birthday.
"I don't see why we can't go out by ourselves, just this once!" Angie declared.
"Aw, come on, Ange. They all like to do my birthday thing. You know that. It would break Ma's heart if we didn’t stay home tonight."
"Yeah, you worry a lot about your mother's feelings. Ever remember you got a wife?" She jabbed the air in the direction of her own head with her two index fingers to emphasize the point. "Wife with feelings here, Ray. Remember?"
Ray smirked and put his arms around her. "Oh yeah, feelings. Really good feelings."
He kissed her on the neck, but she pushed him away.
"Just tell her she can make your birthday dinner tomorrow. Tell her you want to go out with your OWN WIFE on your thirtieth birthday."
Ray briefly pictured himself telling Ma that and imagined her reaction. He actually cringed. "I couldn’t do that. You know how she gets. Look, you’re going to want our son to stay home on his birthday, aren't you?"
Wrong thing to say, Ray realized immediately after saying it.
"And how exactly are we going to make this son, if we don't have a little time all to ourselves?"
The old story. Did he need this on his birthday? Angie's family had not been the traditional Italian one. She had grown up in apartments with only herself and her parents in them, occasionally a goldfish. Ray, after much eloquent pleading, had managed to persuade her to live in his big house with all the family. It wasn't even a big family, hell, he only had two sisters – and only one of those had a husband and kids. So what was the big deal after all?
For Angie, though, it was a big deal. She had grown up with a luxury called 'privacy'. The Vecchios could never afford that.
He repeated his complaint aloud. "Ange, do I really need this on my birthday?"
"No, you don’t need it. There's lots you don't need. Like a wife. Maybe you'd be happier if I just . . . "
He grabbed her in panic. He stared straight into her eyes, his own frightened eyes boring a hole into her face. "Don't keep saying that! I need you, Ange!"
"Loving me would be better."
"You know I do that. I just . . . you know . . . can't say the words. People don't say it in real life. They just live it."
"I'm not sure we even do that anymore."
"So, you're going to leave me on my stinking birthday, is that what you're telling me?"
She threw her hands up in the air in exasperation. "See! I can't talk to you! You're like your father, you just twist everything. You don't listen."
"I'm not like him. Don't you ever say I'm like him. Do I hit you? Did I ever touch you, even once?"
"You know that's not what I meant."
"You don't think that's important, do you? That's nothing at all! Fine. Do I stay out all night like he does? Do I get drunk and cheat on you? Do I hang around pool parlours instead of coming home? Be fair."
"I think I'm being more than fair here, Ray. Lot's of men don't do those things either, it's not that much to be proud of."
Ray was staggered. In his mind it was everything to be proud of. Not being like Pa. Some days it was the focus of his entire attention, and Angie had no clue how important it was. All she could see was her own little peeves. So what if he didn't slobber all over her and dish out a bunch of mush? Didn't she see what was really important?
"I'm entitled to some attention," Angela was saying, "I'm entitled to . . . "
Their conversation was cut short by the entrance of Ma, in through the front door, and into the living room where they had been talking. They shut up immediately, and stayed waiting for her to go into the kitchen where she belonged. She didn't, though. She stayed in the living room and dropped heavily onto the couch without even taking off her hat and coat.
"Raymondo. Come here and sit by me." She patted the sofa cushion beside her. Ray complied, concerned.
"I've just come from the hospital. They called while you and Angela were out. Raymondo . . . We won't be having a party today . . . Your father . . . "
All colour drained from Ray's face. He stared at his mother. "Ma, he's not . . . "
Her tears released then, and she grabbed him and held him to her. Ray buried his face into his mother's bosom and clutched at her, for this awful moment a child again. Angela stood watching them, sniffed in appreciative grief of her own, and then left the two of them alone. This time, she didn't begrudge them their time without her.
Ray couldn't concentrate on his report. He pushed the paper aside and flipped the pen away. Pen and paper. Next month they were all going to get computers. Everything always changes.
Hadn't his own life changed in five years? Five years ago, he had a wife and a father. Today, he had a Mountie and a fish.