"Whatcha got for me, Benny?"
He'd hoped it was lunch, but of course his luck wasn't that good.
Fraser looked a little out of whack, even for Fraser.
But he wasn't bleeding anywhere Ray could see, and for a pleasant change of pace there was no one holding a gun to his head.
"Well, Ray, I... That is to say, I've... Ah. How best to phrase this..."
Dief wandered into the room with two little kids. One of the kids was trying his damndest to climb onto Dief's back, while the other one tugged at his jacket. Or blanket. Or whatever the hell the first kid was wearing.
"Leave off, will you--"
"Pippin, you simpleton, the beast will have you for supper if you--"
The two of them tumbled together on the bullpen floor, with Dief looking on with detached interest.
"-- but I'd make a fine Warg rider, Merry, I have excellent balance, everyone says so--"
"Don't tell me. They followed Dief home?"
"Not as such. I found them this morning in the park. I approached them to remind them of the city ordinance against open fires, and Dief indicated that--"
"Hey, you two!" The kids continued to struggle; Dief was pawing lightly at whoever was on top. "Hey, Frick and Frack, I'm talkin' to you, here. This is a police station, not Wrestle Mania, you got it?"
They looked up at him, and the one on top dropped his head and whispered to his pal, "Who's Frickenfrack, Merry?"
Ray rubbed his eyes.
"So, are they runaways or what? Got a last name for me? If we're lucky maybe I can get their moms to come pick them up before Welsh gets back from Ed Burke's retirement lunch--"
"Oh, they're not children, Ray," Fraser explained.
"Oh my god, they're circus midgets aren't they? You went and busted a bunch of munchkins--"
"On the contrary, Ray, they're neither circus folk nor little people--"
"We're hobbits," The first one said helpfully. "Tell him, Merry."
He and his buddy (Merry) were finally standing up, and Ray could now tell that they weren't kids. Unless they were really freaky, mutant ones. They had big, creepy hairy feet and pointy ears. And bad perms, if listening to Frannie bitch during the 80s had taught him anything.
"You already have done. I don't think it needs repeating."
"Ray, this is Peregrin 'Pippin' Took and Meriadoc 'Merry' Brandybuck, lately of The Shire... somewhere in Middle Earth, I would imagine."
"Hobbits," Ray said dubiously, eyeing them like they were gonna spring at his throat any second. He tugged Fraser closer to hiss in his ear. "Where the hell did you get these two, Fraser? My nephew's got GI Joes taller than these guys--"
"Look, Merry! Pastries!"
"Just the thing. I've been a mite peckish since that brace of doves--"
"No, Diefenbaker." Pippin was playing keep away with the wolf, three squashed looking donuts in his hands. "You can have Merry's. He doesn't care for sweets."
"I would wish you to talk less, but you'd only eat more and then there'd be no pastries for me at all," sighed Merry.
"Oh, don't go on so. This one has a kind of custard in it. Here, now, it's grand--"
And Ray felt his eyebrows climb as Pippin popped a Bavarian-creamed finger into his friend's mouth, and Merry sucked on it with an appraising expression.
"And this one tastes a bit like biddenberry--" and Pippin replaced his first finger with his second, and Dief licked some excess jelly off the floor.
Dear sweet Christ, Fraser couldn't have just brought circus midgets?
"So if they're not kids," he said eventually, as he tried to tear his eyes away from the spectacle of two guys (or 'hobbits', whatever the hell they were) staring meaningfully into one another's eyes as the first one fed the second one a donut, "Why are they here? Did they actually break a law, or are you just messing with my head?"
"They need our help, Ray. We have to help them find the way back to their own country."
"I'll tell you what, I'll just look up the Hobbit Embassy and get them a cab, and you can buy Dief and me a slice of Delgado's for lunch. How's that?"
"Ray, this is a serious matter. Their peoples are at war, and these two young... fellows are part of a pivotal effort to avert total world domination by an unsavory dictatorship."
"Of course they are." He rubbed at his fading hairline and bit the bullet. "Whatta we gotta do?"
Pippin moved to wipe his sticky hands against Merry's shirt, but Merry laughed and caught his wrists, leaning in to peck his friend's mouth.
"First we'd better get those two a room." Fraser flushed a little, and Ray wondered just what kinda floorshow those little guys had already put on. "And then, I got this crazy feeling you're gonna ask me to go on a quest, am I right?"
Fraser looked relieved.
"Well, not a quest as such--"
And Ray closed his eyes, wondering if Fraser would bitch at him for carrying a firearm across interdimensional lines.