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The Land of Fish (and Bears)

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“So, what do you want for your birthday?” Denny asked, as he joined his husband on the deck, glass of scotch in one hand, cigar in the other. He lowered himself into the second Adirondack chair, setting his glass down and pulling Alan's ashtray across the table.

The question caught Alan by surprise. Busy with cases, he'd more or less forgotten his approaching birthday. Now, considering it, there was nothing that he really wanted or needed. Knowing Denny, though, it was unlikely that he would accept that. Instead, Alan gave the one answer he knew would get a rise from his partner. “Shirley.”

Hand holding the cigar halfway to the ashtray, Denny paused mid-motion and gave him a mock glare. “Forget it. If I can't have her, neither can you. Choose again.”

Alan sighed. “You've already bought me a Mercedes, and we share a lovely house and a thriving law practice. I have everything I could ever want or need, Denny. You don't have to get me a gift.”

“I thought you'd say that.” Denny sipped at his drink. “Which is why I already bought our tickets.”

“Tickets?”

“I'm taking you on vacation. We're going to Canada. Nimmo Bay. We can do some fishing and commune with nature.”

Alan reached for his own drink. “That could be a problem. As I recall, you're a bit of a persona non grata at Nimmo Bay. Something to do with you shooting a salmon, I believe?” he reminded. It hadn't set well with Denny when he had caught over a dozen fish – and Denny hadn't caught a one.

Denny waved the objection away. “I'm persona grata again. Apparently we made a few brownie points going in front of that judge about the farmed salmon and the sea lice. It didn't hurt that I financed the construction of a couple more guest cottages, either.”

Well, bribery was one sure way to make amends. It wasn't that Alan was dead set against the idea, it was just that he wasn't sure he could manage to take the time off. He tried a different tactic. “As much as I would love a vacation, I have trials. I can't just go running off to Canada.”

“Nonsense. I've already checked your calendar. There's nothing on the docket that Hands and Katie can't handle without you.”

That was probably true. They were both more than competent lawyers. Alan raised his hands in surrender. “Very well, Denny. We'll go on one condition.”

“What's that?”

“You leave all your artillery at home. No guns.” Nobody would be shooting any more fish.

“But what if we're attacked by a bear?”

“Just tell him who you are. There isn't a bear alive that would dare attack you.” It was never a bad idea to play on Denny's vanity.

“You have a point. Denny Crane is no bear's snack.”

*-*-*

A week later, their helicopter banked low over the water as it came in for a landing, leaving Alan's stomach behind and reminding him just how much he disliked helicopters. He was relieved once they had landed, and were carrying their luggage toward their assigned cabin.

It really was beautiful territory. The lush forests contrasted with the deep blue of the water, and there was a fresh, clean crispness to the air that was sadly lacking in Boston. He had to admit that perhaps Denny's idea for a vacation might not have been such a bad one, after all.

Their cabin was one of the newer ones, undoubtedly one of those Denny had paid to have built. Alan noted but didn't comment on the double bed. He certainly didn't mind sleeping with Denny, not in the least.

Denny dumped everything he was carrying in a pile on the bed, and started pulling out his waders. “Come on. Don't be a slow poke. Get your gear on so we can go catch some fish.”

*-*-*

That evening found them sitting outside, the campfire before them a counterpoint to the evening chill. With scotch and cigars, it was much like home, and yet it wasn't. There was a peaceful quiet here that didn't exist in the city.

Denny chuckled around his cigar. “You didn't catch any fish.”

Alan sipped his scotch, watching the sky and the fading glow of the sunset. He wasn't about to tell Denny that the reason he'd failed to catch anything was the lack of a lure attached to his fishing line. For him it was the physical motions of fishing that were relaxing, the casting and reeling in, not the actual catching and releasing. Besides, it was kinder to the fish. “You caught enough for both of us.”

“I did, didn't I?” Denny grinned. “They were really biting today. Can't believe you didn't get at least one.”

“Maybe tomorrow. I'm not worried about it.” Perhaps tomorrow he'd use a lure for a time until he caught a couple. It wouldn't do to let Denny get too cocky.

They sat in quiet companionship for a time, faint haze of smoke from their cigars drifting skyward. Finally, Alan spoke. “Denny, thank you.”

He raised a brow. “For what?”

“Convincing me to come here. I needed this, and I didn't even know it,” Alan admitted.

Denny grunted. “We all need to get away once in awhile. Clear our heads. Get away from the dirt.”

Alan wasn't sure if the dirt Denny was referring to was the grit of the city, or the seedier side of their profession. Perhaps it was both.

As darkness set in, the temperature continued to drop. “Ready to go in?” Alan asked.

“If you are.” Denny stood. “The staff will take care of the fire.” He brightened. “Did I tell you they have satellite here now? Over a hundred channels.”

“Oh? Movie night, then?” Alan asked, as he joined Denny in walking back to the cabin.

“Of course. It's your birthday celebration, what are we watching?”

Alan knew that despite their agreement, Denny had secretly packed a rifle. “Something featuring bears?” he teased.

Denny glowered. “Very funny. I don't intend to be bear bait.”

Alan laughed. As if there was a bear alive that would be any match for Denny Crane.

*-*-*