"Really?" Ray asked quietly.
"Really." Fraser nodded and was rewarded with a warm smile from the other man. Fraser returned the smile with a warm one of his own.
"Now that you know that Fraser was worried about you too can we go?" Vecchio whined with increasing annoyance. He was feeling extremely jealous as he watched the partners grinning warmly at each other. The ease and camaraderie between them made him sick. He couldn't believe that in one short year this skinny blond runt of a detective had actually managed to reach the same level of friendship with Benny that it had taken him over two years to achieve. He almost swore that Benny liked this little runt better than him. That idea did nothing to improve his opinion of his replacement.
"What's your hurry?" Kowalski asked the impatient man trying to keep his anger under wraps. He was going to try to like Vecchio if only for Fraser's sake. Just like BJ and Trapper said earlier about Hawkeye, he had no right to claim Fraser solely for himself. The Mountie had the right to have other friends, even other best friends if he chose to. Ray had no right to stop him. "We got time. Sit, chill. Let me introduce you to some new friends of mine." Gesturing to the three older men he said. "This is Dr. Ben Pierce, otherwise known as Hawkeye and Dr. John McIntyre also know as Trapper, and Dr. BJ Hunnicutt whose initials stand for anything you want. Doctors, this is Detective Ray Vecchio - the real Ray Vecchio."
"And don't you forget it." Vecchio warned pointedly, glaring at the blond man slightly. Kowalski pretended not to notice.
"Why don't you have a seat, Ray." Fraser encouraged as Trapper grabbed a chair from a neighboring table and pulled it into the space between himself and Hawkeye.
Vecchio gave the bar a quick glance of appraisal before claiming the chair Trapper offered him. "Charming place." He commented as he brushed some crumbs off the table in front of him.
"Hey, you think this place is bad." Hawkeye piped up, trying to break the tension between the two Rays. "You should have seen the bar we frequented during the war. Now that place was a real toilet."
Vecchio looked at the older man curiously. "Which war was that? World War I or II?"
"Neither." Kowalski replied with mild disgust. "It was the Korean 'Police Action' War thingy."
"'The Korean "Police Action" War thingy'?" Vecchio repeated in a debasing tone.
"I believe Ray means the Korean War." Fraser clarified, trying to be helpful.
"Then why didn't he just say that?" Vecchio nit-picked mercilessly then mumbled under his breath. "'Police action war thingy'."
Trying to rescue the situation, Fraser looked at the three older men and asked. "So do you gentlemen all live in Chicago?"
"Actually none of us live in Chicago." Trapper replied as he took a sip from his glass.
"Then what brings you all here?" Vecchio pressed curiously.
"We've been meeting here every five years ever since 1958." Hawkeye replied.
"Ever since that medical conference." Kowalski interjected. "The one where BJ and Trapper first met."
"That's right." The older man gave the detective a bright smile.
"Wait a minute." Vecchio exclaimed, looking at Kowalski in surprise. "How did you know that? I thought you just met these guys."
"They told me about it before you came in." Kowalski replied slightly impatiently. Then gesturing to the three older men he explained. "These guys were all in the Korean War. Hawkeye and Trapper arrived first and then a year later Trapper got to go home and BJ came. BJ was Trapper's replacement." He paused briefly watching Vecchio's face for any sigh of realization. When the other man just gave him an expectant look Ray continued. "Trapper and Hawkeye were roommates and quickly became best friends. When Trapper went home and BJ came, BJ and Hawkeye became roommates and best friends." He paused for another moment hoping realization would dawn on the other man as he concluded. "Then after the War was over BJ, Hawkeye and Trapper met up again here in Chicago at a Medical Conference and before long they were all best friends: Trapper and Hawkeye; Hawkeye and BJ; BJ and Trapper."
"That's nice...for them." Vecchio commented, still obviously missing the point. "But why are you so interested in their history?"
Kowalski sighed again in frustration. "Doesn't their story sound the least bit familiar to you?"
Vecchio shrugged non-committedly. "Not really."
Kowalski sighed in frustration and flopped back in his seat. He couldn't believe the other man could be so obtuse. Some detective he was. Maybe his year with the mob had dulled his senses.
However, before he could voice any insults as to the other man's lack of intelligence Fraser spoke up with understanding. "What Ray is trying to say is..."
"Hold it, Benny!" Vecchio put his hand up to stop his friend. "Let's get one thing straight once and for all. I'm Ray, he's Stanley." Pointing to himself and then Kowalski he repeated. "Ray...Stanley. See, it's not hard, Ray Vecchio...Stanley Kowalski. We don't look alike so you shouldn't get us mixed up."
Fraser reached up and rubbed his eyebrow with his thumb as he nervously replied. "Actually Ray, you're both Ray."
Ray Kowalski smiled slightly as Ray Vecchio frowned. "How can he be 'Ray' his name is Stanley? Stanley Kowalski. How do you get 'Ray' from 'Stanley'?"
"Well, you don't." Fraser admitted honestly.
"See..." Vecchio exclaimed triumphantly, but his victory was interrupted by his friend's next words.
"But he doesn't get 'Ray' from 'Stanley', he gets it from the same place that you do - Raymond."
"How's that?" Vecchio looked at the Mountie puzzled.
"His full name is Stanley Raymond Kowalski." The Mountie explained, his tone serious. "His dad is a big Brando fan, but since Ray is a Steve MacQueen fan he prefers to go by Ray." Fraser shot Kowalski a warm smile and added. "So 'Ray' is what I'll call him." Kowalski flashed the Mountie a grateful smile. He felt his self-esteem soar at his partner's words.
"Fine call him Ray. Stanley, Ray, Elvis, the green-eyed monster, I don't really care." Vecchio raved a trifle angrily.
Fraser frowned slightly at his old partner's biting tone. He couldn't understand what was eating the Italian. Patiently he continued with his previous explanation. "Anyway, as Ray was trying to explain, there are many similarities between our current situation and the history that these gentlemen share."
"How so?" Vecchio scoffed slightly as he looked at Fraser expectantly.
"Well for example, Dr. Pierce and Dr. McIntyre met in Korea where they worked together and became close friends." Fraser explained looking intently at his friend, watching for any signs of understanding.
It took a moment for the comparison to dawn on Vecchio. Finally he remarked thoughtfully. "You mean just like when you came to Chicago and we partnered up and became friends."