Fandom: Wilby Wonderful, (Due South)
Characters: Duck MacDonald, Buddy French, others
Pairings: Duck/Dan mentioned, Buddy/Carol mentioned
Summary: Duck scowled at the containers of cream and sugar on the counter.
Getting There Is Half The Fun
Duck scowled at the containers of cream and sugar on the counter. This shop had had the clever idea of offering sugar cubes instead of paper packs that Duck could just shove in a pocket and go. He had Dan's double double ready, but he couldn't remember how Buddy took his coffee except that he didn't take it black. Trying to remember was giving him a headache, not that he'd needed much more reason for one than he'd already had.
Not being able to smoke was making him... twitchy. He was pretty sure that was why they'd all sent him off to fetch coffee in the first place. He half-envied Buddy now. Carol had made him quit last year.
He was reaching for a napkin -- he'd just dump some sugar in it and let Buddy figure it out -- when a hand clamped down on his arm. Jumping, he looked over, and scowled again.
"Hey, Buddy. Here, take--"
"Didn't you hear me calling you?" Buddy cut in with a stern, exasperated look.
"Uh." Duck still wasn't used to having a cell phone. He supposed Buddy didn't need to know that he'd probably forgotten to turn it on again this morning.
"Our boarding gate's changed. We have to go."
"What?" He checked his watch. "I thought--"
Buddy tugged him toward the door. "Come on."
Duck scrambled to grab both coffees and follow. They had to dodge other rumpled travelers left and right, suitcases, small children, a couple of dogs even.
They did have to go a long way -- gate 12 instead of gate 3 -- and they were apparently the last travelers to board. An irritated attendant stood next to the counter. She held out her hand to take Buddy's boarding pass, and Duck cursed under his breath.
"Dan has my--" he started to say, but Buddy was already handing over a second boarding pass. The attendant fed it through the little machine like she had Buddy's. There was a muted kachunk and then the attendant was handing Buddy the stubs and chivying them both inside. The ramp was empty. Everyone else must already be boarded.
"Terribly sorry." Duck couldn't help a smile as Buddy tipped his cowboy hat at the harried looking flight attendant at the door. The fact that Duck was wearing one himself didn't make it seem any less silly. He still wasn't quite sure where Dan had gotten them, other than 'the infinite power of the internet', which Duck fully admitted to having as little to do with as possible on a daily basis.
The flight attendant's plastic smile melted into a fond one. Evidently, the French charm worked as well on the mainland as back home. "You'd better get seated. We're taking off soon."
Indeed, the door slammed behind them, and Duck could hear the rumble of the engine revving up. He cast a searching look over the plane, looking for the rest of their group, but Buddy pulled him to a couple of neighboring seats, and Duck had to agree that getting buckled in was their first priority.
Buddy snapped his seat belt closed, then took both the coffees so Duck could do the same. He handed one back and took a sip from the other. He made a face. "How much sugar did you put in this?" he asked.
Duck rolled his eyes. "That's not yours, you arse."
Buddy raised an eyebrow. "Of course." He switched their cups around.
The plane taxied slowly, making its way toward the runway.
"The wildflowers will be lovely this time of year," Buddy told him, as if continuing an earlier conversation. He had to raise his voice above the engine noise
"I read the pamphlet, too," he reminded Buddy drily, before the other man could get started. Buddy made like some professor if he got a few books to read about something. He'd been that way as a kid, too. Drove Duck crazy. Ignoring the other man's excited expounding about their impending destination, Duck tried to look backward between the seats, wishing he could get a glimpse of Dan.
This trip had been Dan's idea, which should be no surprise to anyone. Dan was wild about it, of course. Just that was almost enough to make this trip worth it. Actually, though, Duck did think he was going to enjoy this. Five days on a ranch like out of the movies, riding horses, eating food cooked on an iron grill, sleeping in a log cabin. It sounded simple and fun.
Finally giving up on making x-ray eyes, Duck settled down to look out the window. Beyond the woman next to him in the window seat, he could see the tarmac turning slowly as the pilot positioned them for takeoff. In just a few hours, they would be there: the wild old west -- or as close as a tourist gimmick could get them there.
Remembering the cup in his hands, he raised it, wanting to drink off at least a little in case it might spill once they started to take off. He stopped, realizing that this was the cup that Buddy had drunk out of. Buddy was his friend, but he wasn't sure if he was up to swapping spit with the man.
While he was still deciding what to do, he heard the whine of engines rise, and then the point was moot because they were speeding down the runway. Duck held on to the armrest as they made one false start, and then leaped airborne. He always hated this part, feeling his stomach drop out. He liked his two feet on the ground, thank you very much. Luckily, there were no mishaps -- of the mechanical kind or of the coffee kind.
As they climbed toward cruising altitude, he let out a breath. He raised his cup again before putting it back down, irritated, then dry-swallowed to get rid of the discomfort in his ears. He took his hat off and dropped it in his lap, so he could scratch at the side of his head where he was starting to sweat. He hated being stuck in a plane like this. He tapped his fingers on the armrest, wishing again for his cigarettes.
Buddy's warm hand landed on his, stilling him. Duck looked at the man in surprise.
"Please stop that, Ray. It's very distracting."
Duck stared. "What?"
Looking fully into the other man's face, Duck realized a few things. Buddy was sitting extraordinarily straight in his seat, when usually he affected a relaxed sprawl. He seemed to have cut his hair in the fifteen minutes since Duck saw him last. He had lost a few wrinkles around the eyes as well. The hat that he was holding in his own lap by the flat brim was not in fact a cowboy hat. And he was not... Buddy French.
The other man stared back at him, at first in confusion, and then with what looked eerily like Buddy's 'cop face'. Then his eyes widened, and he took his hand away from Duck's and said, "Oh, dear."
Approximately 1000 feet down and an ever-increasing number of kilometers eastwards, a man was yelling, "What do you mean, everyone's on board? Everyone is not on board, because, look! I am not on board! What the hell kind of joke do you Canadians call security?"
Nine gates down, the man who was actually Buddy French frowned in the direction of the shouting, then shrugged and checked his watch.
"Where did he go to get that coffee, anyway? The Northwest Territories?"
His companions laughed.
A/N: I was inspired to write this by the Canadian Shack challenge, though I'm guessing it doesn't count for the challenge itself, since they don't actually get there. :)