Title: You Are Family
Author: Birgitt Schuknecht
Fandom: Due South
Rating: PG (slash)
Pairing: Ray Vecchio/Benton Fraser
Category: Humour
Disclaimer: The characters used in the following story are not mine. I
do not make any money out of this. It's written for fun and for the fans
of the show.
Feedback: birgitt.schuknecht@uni-essen.de
Spoilers: none
Teaser: Ray Vecchio coming to terms with a part of his Italian heritage.

July 1999

You Are Family
by Birgitt Schuknecht

Author's note: The following story depicts a m/m relationship. Although
it's mild and tame I have to warn you. If you're offended by this kind
of writing please read no further.

It has been a wonderful time. Ray Vecchio, Detective First Grade of the
Chicago Police Department, enjoyed the last hours of his well-deserved
vacation. Together with his lover, Benton Fraser, Constable of the RCMP,
he had spent two weeks at home - without his dear family. His sister
Maria and his brother-in-law Tony had taken their kids camping. They
would not return for another week. Francesca, his younger sister, had
accompanied their mother on an extended visit to his aunt in Florida.
They expected them back tomorrow. Frannie had called yesterday and Ray
had promised to pick them up at the airport.
Ray looked at the man beside him as they lay sun-bathing in the garden
behind the big old house he thought of as heaven on earth. Especially in
moments like these. He sighed in contentment and closed his eyes again,
joining his lover in the last quiet day he would have for a long time to
come. Once the family was back there wouldn't be anything like this.
Only the regular arguments he had with Benny over Diefenbaker's diet had
broken the peacefulness of their days together. Benny was very
determined that his loyal companion, half wolf, half dog, would not go
soft in the city, as he used to phrase it. Ray was equally stubborn that
Dief would not miss the fun to be had with good food. After several
heated arguments which ended in joyful fights and finally in even more
joyful lovemaking they settled on a compromise. Ray refrained from
giving Diefenbaker any junk food, and Benny would allow Dief a share of
the delicious meals Ray was concocting for them each afternoon. He had
certainly inherited his mother's talent. It was a wonderful time.
Still, Ray missed his family. Although he'd never admit it he would be
lost without the gang... When they were all together, life was what it
meant to be for him. His contentment was made perfect a few weeks ago,
when Benny decided to give up his god-forsaken apartment and moved into
the Vecchio home. Ray had stated very practical reasons for this last
step in their relationship. It saved them a lot of time they had wasted
with driving back and forth between the two places, time that could be
put to much better use. Benny, ever a practical man, couldn't do
anything but agree.

Friday morning came and Benny and Ray settled for their last peaceful
breakfast. They weren't quite finished when Ray's cell phone chirped.
Ray looked annoyed which earned him a smile from his lover. "Do you
wanna bet, Benny, that that's mama. I just knew she would have to check
again if we will get them from the airport."
"Stop playing it, Ray. It's me you're talking to. You love your mother
with all her... her..."
Ray couldn't avoid grinning at the now stammering man. Benny surely had
relaxed with him in the last weeks. Adding up to this new mood was the
fact he was dressed casually now, in jeans and t-shirt. This uniform of
his seems to imprison the Benny he had become to know and to love during
their vacation. Hadn't he already been in love with him... His grin
transformed into a warm smile when he picked up the cell phone. "Vecchio
Residence. Bruno the Butler waiting for your message..." An exasperated
voice interrupted him impatiently.
"Ray, stop fooling around and listen to me. Mama had an accident this
Ray felt a hard knot in his stomach. "Frannie, tell me she's okay..."
His voice was barely a whisper and his eyes searched Benny's for
support. In an instant his friend was beside him, placing a steady arm
around his shoulders. Ray placed the phone between them so that both
could hear his sister.
"Don't pass out on me, brother. It's not so bad as it could have been.
She tripped, fell down the stairs and broke her left leg. We are at the
hospital now." Her words seemed to be harsh, but Ray could hear the
strain behind them.
"Frannie, is there anything we can do..."
Again she became impatient: "Ray, no, everything will be okay. I'll take
care of it all. Don't bother to come down here. I have no use for your
fussing, and you won't help Mama either. The Florida branch of the
Vecchio clan is enough to cope with. No offence intended, but you can be
so annoying." Ray shot an embarrassed look at Benny who couldn't help
grinning at this. That's Frannie all right.
"Mama will stay for a few days in the hospital, a week at most. Then
we'll transport her back to Chicago. Do you not worry, Ray, she'll be
fine." Frannie had calmed down considerably. She seemed relieved after
she's delivered the bad news. Ray felt he should back her up a little.
"Yes, Frannie, thanks to you. I'm sure you're doing fine down there. And
I won't annoy you, promise. Benny won't let me, eh, Benny?" He was
rewarded with a gentle squeeze on his shoulders and a giggle from the
other end of the phone line.
"Grazie di Dio that we have Benton."
"I'll second that, Frannie. Can I speak to Mama?"
"No way, Ray. She's under medication now and has fallen asleep just a
few minutes ago. As soon she's fit enough we'll call again. Promised."
"Sure, Frannie. Take good care of her. And tell her our hearts are with
her..." Ray could not prevent his voice from breaking.
"Ray, she knows that you and Benton love her. But I'll tell her again.
Hey, a broken leg won't bring down our mama."
"No, you're right there. I bet she'll run the hospital, doctors and
nurses and all, in no time all by herself."
A giggle again: "Now, Ray, I'll call you again. Tell Benton I love him."

"No, I won't. Bye Frannie." The phone shut down and Benny drew his
friend into an embrace so that he could cry the tears of fright and

The two friends spent the rest of the day at home, awaiting anxiously
the next phone call. They informed Maria and Tony who were shocked by
the news. Maria decided to go to Florida, leaving Tony in charge with
the kids. Ray rolled his eyes heavenwards, but he knew he wouldn't be
able to change his elder sister's mind.
The hours drew on, their anxiety built up even more. Their mood took its
toll on Diefenbaker, who became rather agitated and Benny decided to
take him out for a walk. He wouldn't want Ray to be alone for long, so
he returned after only ten minutes.
It was almost six when the call came. Ray hesitated shortly before
picking up the cell phone. "Frannie?"
"No, Raimondo, it's mama. How you're doing?"
"Mama! I should ask you this. Benny and me have been thinking of you the
whole day." Ray's face beamed with delight at his mother's voice. His
friend reached over to squeeze his hand. Ray gratefully took it.
"Raimondo, I told Frannie to tell you not to worry..."
"Dio mio, mama, you broke your leg. We have a right to worry about you."

"A broken leg won't bring me down, son. You should know that." Her voice
took on a slightly annoyed tone.
"Mama, of course I know that. But still I want to be with you."
"Don't come down to Florida, Raimondo." Her voice was thunderous now.
"You know your aunt and her family. I've enough people to fuzz around
"Mama, surely I would be a different matter. I'm your only son."
"And I love you dearly, caro, but in situations like this you are a
nuisance." Ray smirked a little. He was sure he was reliving the talk he
had with his sister only a few hours ago. Maybe they were living too
close together after all...
His mother continued: "And there is more: I need you at home right now."

Ray snapped back to attention. "Why is that? What would you have me to
do for you?" Thanks to God it can't be the spring cleaning, not in
August. Benny's face showed that his interest was equally piqued.
"There is a great favour I have to ask of you, and of Benny if he's
willing to help."
Ray gave a small laugh. "Mama, you know that Benny has a weak spot for
this boy scout thing. A good deed for every day or something like that.
I won't try to keep him from helping."
"Raimondo, don't be disrespectful. This has to do with family honour."
Involuntarily Ray sat up a little. "What is that supposed to mean?"

After clicking off the phone Ray could only sit and stare. His friend
eyed him curiously. Ray wondered if the Vecchio household had altered
his friend's attitude in this respect as well and he wasn't
disappointed. Benny finally broke the silence. "Oh Ray, please tell me
what she said to you. What does your mother want us to do for her?"
"You know, Benny, once I knew a polite, correct, reserved Mountie. Quite
a likeable fella, though. I haven't seen him in a long, long time..." He
laughed at the furious look on Benny's handsome features.
"Sometimes, Vecchio, I can clearly see why Huey keeps telling you a pain
in the..." Benny couldn't end the sentence since Ray darted forward and
shut his mouth with a kiss.
Ray released him, shaking his head. "Benny, Benny, you've been exposed
to bad company lately."
"Ray, would you please..." Ray held up a hand, sighing deeply.
"Yes, Benny, of course I will. It's about the honour of our family." As
Ray had done before, Benny straightened his back.
"Did I ever tell you that my mother won the cooking contest of this
parish for the last five years in a row?" Benny nodded. He had seen the
trophies exposed in the dining room. Impressive.
Ray went on. "Now, she not only participated every year since it started
twenty-five years ago, she's one of the founders." His friend gave
another nod, to show that he understood how important this was.
"The next contest is due on Sunday..." Benny's eyes widened at that.
That meant...
"... meaning that mama won't be able to take part in it this time." Ray
shook his head lightly. "She's desperate about it. She planned to do the
cooking on Saturday, to present a perfect contest entry on Sunday and to
win the contest again. Perfect plan that was..."
"So?" Benny looked at him expectantly.
"Mama has asked me to take part in her place. There has to be a Vecchio
taking part, no matter the cost. It's tradition."
"Ray, say no more, I'm with you. What little help I can give you - it's
"Thanks, Benny, I appreciate that. Mama left her notices in the
cupboard. It's all there: Recipes, shopping lists, you name it... We can
buy all the stuff we need tonight. Then we can leave Dief with Willie
for the coming days. This dog, ahhh, wolf of yours has a devastating
influence on anything to do with food. I will take no chances. That
leaves us the whole Saturday for the cooking. Mama planned it big time
this year. There was going to be a whole menu, not just a single dish."
"And that is consisted with the contest rules?" Benny sounded doubtful.
"Believe me, if anyone knows those rules it's mia mama. She set them up

You'll probably know those days where anything that could go wrong will
go wrong? They didn't know it, of course, but Saturday was exactly such
a day for Benny and Ray. Chaos Day was upon them. Both of them
overslept. It had been late after they had finished all the shopping
they had to do and the stress of the day had taken its toll on them.
Ray was furious: "Why do I have my own Mountie if he's not even able to
wake up in time?"
Benny looked slightly hurt. "I already apologised, Ray. There is still
time and we can use the whole night as well for the preparations..."
With a great effort Ray controlled himself: "Sorry, Benny, I'm quite...
nervous. It's so important for my mama, for the whole family!" Benny got
behind his friend, starting to massage his shoulders.
"Oh, God, Benny, surely there is no time for THAT!"
Benny chuckled. "I was just trying to help you relax a little."
"THAT won't relax me, you know that!" Ray stomped out into the kitchen,
getting to work. Benny followed with a wide grin on his face.

Hours later the kitchen was a mess. Ray's experiences with a cooking a
complete menu were virtually non-existent. Everything what required an
organised plan was far from him. Benny had tried to keep some order,
both in the kitchen and in the cooking itself. To no great success,
since his friend was extremely touchy and wouldn't follow his advice.
At three o'clock all they had done properly was cooking the coffee they
would have to use for the dessert.
Benny knew that they had to change tactics. He pulled his flour-covered
friend away from the kitchen table, where he tried to kneed a smooth
dough for the home-made pasta. "Ray, stop it. This is not going to
At first Ray wanted to shout at his friend, as he had done several times
before. But deep in his heart he knew Benny was right: "Oh, Benny, what
can I do? I ruined everything. And I yelled at you! If I were you I
would have kicked my butt over and over!" The expression on Benny's face
showed him that he had thought about that possibility.
"Ray, there's only one way out. You have to skip the menu and just
concentrate on one dish."
"What? That's no good at all, Benny! How can I win with a single dish,
prepared to be part of a whole menu? Those single dishes were only
standard, it's the combination of them that should impress the jury! And
what's more I've ruined most of the ingredients anyway." He looked with
regret at the burnt piece of veal, still smouldering in a pan on the
"Well, we haven't started with the dessert. And the coffee you'll need
has already cooled down. So..." He looked at his desperate friend,
hoping he would see the need for another start.
Ray knew when he was defeated. With a deep sigh, he resigned himself
into the inevitable. "Well, Benny, there's no way how we can win with a
simple Tiramisu dish, but all we can do is try our best, ain't we?"
Benny smiled encouragingly: "That's the right spirit, Ray. I'm sure your
mother will be proud on you. After all, it's your first time. We can't
expect too much..."
Ray hung his head. Benny gave him a clap on his back and together the
two friends started anew.

They both woke to a brilliant summer day. Ray thought of the last day as
a nightmare come true. All he wanted now was getting this damned contest
over. They put the dish carefully in the trunk of the Riv and drove to
the parish in silence. Father Behan came over to greet them, inquiring
about Mrs. Vecchio. His face fell, when he heard of the accident.
Ray assured him: "No worry, Father, she'll be fine in no time."
Father Behan looked relieved. "I'm glad to hear that, Raimondo. But I
think the jury members will be disappointed. Your mothers dishes were
the highlights of the last years. And it's sad for your family as well,
Raimondo. It the first time since..."
Ray didn't care if it was impolite to interrupt the priest. He couldn't
stand this phrase anymore. Miserably he put in: "Father, we have a
Vecchio entry for the contest. It's nothing special..."
"You have?" Father Behan beamed at him. "Who did it? Francesca? Or even
Maria? I thought she was still camping...?"
"She is, Father, she is. And Francesca stayed with mama. Benny and I..."
He broke off as he saw the incredulous expression on the priest's face.
So much for spiritual support...
Benny decided to step in: "Why don't we bring it over to the jury? I'm
sure it's not good to leave it out in this weather."
Father Behan regained his composure. "Yes, do that, Benton. The jury
will take care of it until the contest starts. We will begin with it
right after the service.
After delivering their contest entry Ray and Benny went into the church.
During the service God received some very peculiar prayers of three
desperate men.

Ray was pacing the churchyard, with Benny at his side all the time. He
wasn't alone anyway, surrounded by equally nervous women of the parish,
all waiting for the jury to come out. Sometimes the two only men got
looks from their competitors, but Benny and Ray were totally oblivious
of them.
Benny draw a deep breath: "The jury is very thorough in its decision."
Ray shot him a glare: "They'd better be. It was hard work for us to take
part, so they should suffer a little bit as well. Hope the air
conditioning isn't working..."
"Ray, don't say such a horrible thing!"
"Why not?"
"Because it won't do any good to your Tiramisu."
"Our Tiramisu, Benny. Don't refuse your part of the responsibility."
"Ray!" Before Benny could say anything else, the doors of the parish
house opened and the members of the jury piled out. They went over to a
small dais where the trophies were presented. Father Behan nestled with
several papers and began with the announcements.
"Ladies and gentlemen, dear friends. I have the honour to present you
the winners of this year's cooking contest. Sadly enough, last year's
winner wasn't able to take part this year. But her son, Raimondo
Vecchio, has taken her place and contributed an entry for the Vecchio
family." He cleared his throat.
"All dishes had been delicious and the jury had a hard time to come to a
"I bet," muttered Ray.
"It would have been wonderful if we put all the single dishes together
to have an extraordinary menu that would certainly be worth the first
Ray couldn't restrain from another comment: "You heard that, Benny?" His
friend didn't bother to answer.
"But that's impossible and you are quite eager to know who won this
year. So," Father Behan knew how to capture an audience, nestling some
more with his papers, "I proudly announce: The winner is..."
He looked at each member of the jury who smiled at him benevolently and
then continued with a grand gesture of his right arm: "Ramona Zuko with
her Italian version of Death by Chocolate!" There were shouts and
applause all around, but Ray didn't join in. He could only stammer:
"This is it. A Zuko won. Mama will have my head." Slowly he walked away
from the cheering crowd, as the cousin of Frankie Zuko made their way up
to the dais. Benny tried in vain to hold his friend back.
Father Behan cleared again his throat. "Dear friends, that's not the
only prize we have this year. For the first time we'll be able to
decorate a member of the parish with the 'Sash of Tradition'. It is a
prize to acknowledge the importance of traditional Italian cooking.
Since most of the dishes that are turned in are new compositions this
prize has never been given away. But this year we had an entry that was
perfect in it's simplicity. May I request Raimondo Vecchio to come up
here and join us? The jury was unanimous that his Tiramisu deserves this
year's 'Sash of Tradition'!"
Ray had turned, his mouth has dropped open. The crowd gave another cheer
as he walked in stunned silence up to the jury. He couldn't remember how
he got on the dais, how Father Behan presented him with the ice-blue
sash. He didn't see Ramona Zuko receiving her trophy, nor the runner-ups
who came up the dais as well. He just stood there, stared at the people
down there. He missed all the speeches of thanks. Only after Father
Behan gave him several shoves he regained his voice. His eyes wandered
over the crowd, only looking for a single person. Ah, there he was,
applauding like a madman. After clearing his voice he addressed the
parish people. "Thank you, Father Behan, that's quite... an honour. I'm
glad to accept this prize on behalf of my mama who cannot be with us
today, but I'm sure she would be delighted." Several women below him
pulled out brilliant-white handkerchiefs, dabbing their eyes. He
swallowed hard. "But above all I want to thank a man who made this," he
touched the sash, "who made this possible. Benny, would you come up
here?" The crowd turned on Benny, who blushed considerably. But he
smiled broadly when he joined Ray on the dais. The parish people cheered
again. Ray pulled the sash over his head and placed it over Benny's
chest. "Without my friend Benton Fraser I wouldn't be here today." The
friends hugged for a moment.
There came a shout from the crowd: "So Vecchio, who's the winner now."
Ray smiled without hesitation: "We Vecchios won, of course. After all,
Benny IS family."

Ray and Benny rode back home in the Riv. They were silent again, but the
silence was different now.
After a while, Benny burst out: "I liked that, Ray."
"What, Benny?"
"What you said about me, being family."
"Why, that's no less than the truth, Benny! You are family."
His friend nodded. "Yes, it's the truth, Ray." He looked down happily at
his sash. Ray laughed at his expression.
"What, Ray? What are you thinking?"
Rays eyes were full of love when he turned to his lover: "It goes with
your eyes, Benny."

The End