Rating: PG
Pairing: Fraser/Kowalski
Notes: From eledhwenlin's prompt, "Whenever you get around to taking that out of your mouth, we need to have a little chat."

Ceci est une pipe

by china_shop


Ray was making coffee when Fraser walked into the lunchroom. "You want a brew?" Ray mumbled.

But Fraser took one look at him and his eyebrows snapped together like they were on elastic bands. He shut the door behind him and came over. "Ray, whenever you get around to taking that out of your mouth, we need to have a little chat."

Ray kept his pipe between his teeth and grinned. "Hey, I'm about to have a coffee—you're in luck." He pulled the pipe out and stuck it in the breast pocket of his jacket. "What's the matter, you don't think it suits me?" He added sugar and creamer to his mug, and hooked the chair away from the table with his foot so he could sit down.

Fraser stayed standing. "No, I don't," he said in his stuffiest recite-the-regulations voice. "And it's unhygienic. I saw Dief playing with it earlier."

Ray froze, about to hock all the saliva he had onto the floor, but then he squinted at Fraser and relaxed. "Liar." He took a sip of coffee.

Fraser sighed and rubbed his eyebrow. "Well, yes, but I wish you wouldn't smoke in front of him: you're setting a bad example."

"A bad example for the wolf?"

Fraser nodded.

Ray slouched down in his chair so he could see Fraser without getting a crick in his neck, and fished his pipe back out of his pocket. He stuck it between his teeth and watched Fraser avert his eyes. "Ha! You just can't stand me being so cool. Which," he conceded generously, "is understandable when you have to wear a uniform decorated with string." He pulled out his tobacco pouch and fiddled with it, just to push a little harder and see what would give. "C'mon, Fraser. Your head's in the clouds; you'll get altitude sickness."

He kicked the opposite chair out from the table, and Fraser sat down but he didn't relax. "You do not look 'cool', Ray. In point of fact, pipes went out of fashion with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle—not to mention the way it constantly draws attention to your—"

Ray had started stuffing tobacco into the bowl of his pipe, but he looked up when Fraser broke off, and saw that Fraser's ears were turning pink. "My what, Fraser?"

Fraser cleared his throat. "It's not important. What's important is that you're making a fool of yourself and endangering the health and well-being of not only yourself but also Diefenbaker and me." The door opened (because this was the 2-7 and a closed door was like honey to a sugar junkie bee) and Fraser looked around. "Ah, Francesca."

And okay, that was a first. He actually sounded relieved to see her.

"Hey, Frase," said Frannie, walking by with a full glass of water and a swing in her hips. "What's up?" She poured the water into the sink, and then refilled her glass from the water cooler.

"As a matter of fact, I'm trying to convince Ray to reconsider his new hobby," Fraser told her, obviously thinking she'd back him up.

Which she did, wrinkling her nose and saying, "Oh yeah. That pipe thing you keep chewing on? It makes me want to barf just looking at it, bro." She tucked her hair behind her ear and smiled apologetically at Fraser. "I mean, you know, it makes me feel a little queasy."

She sat down at their table, fussing with her skirt like she was trying to win back her Girl Scouts badge in being ladylike, and then Huey and Dewey came in arguing about whether the new girl in Processing was hot and if there was the slightest chance she'd give Dewey the time of day if he maybe had a shower first.

Ray gulped down the rest of his coffee, dumped his mug in the sink, and jerked his head toward the door, and Fraser obediently followed him into the squad room.

"I'm not going to drop it, Fraser," said Ray, picking up where they'd left off.

Fraser sighed. "Well, I wish you would. It's outmoded and affected nonsense and—"

"Oh, right! You're lecturing me on fashion now, Mr. I've Got A Big Hat?" Ray grabbed the Kottke file from his desk, checked his gun and grabbed his keys. They had three witnesses to interview this afternoon, and they were the kind of witnesses Ray liked to talk to on their own turf.

They strode out into the sun. "Well?" said Ray, and paused to light his pipe.

"You're clearly in no mood to discuss this rationally." Fraser pressed his lips together.

"Oh, I'll discuss it all right." Ray sucked hard, drawing a thick rush of smoke into his mouth. He took the pipe out of his mouth and blew the smoke to the side, trying not to cough. "What does it draw your attention to, Fraser? My hands?"

And this was way out of line for them. Ray had never dared corner Fraser like this, but fuck it, Fraser had started it, even if it had been by accident, and Ray had already waited too long to find out for sure what was going on between them. His throat got tight—this was a high stakes game—but he disguised his nerves by putting his pipe back into his mouth and puffing away.

Fraser was staring red-cheeked up the street.

"My mouth?" asked Ray, quietly.

Fraser's gaze swung around and locked with his. "It's not important," he said weakly. And then, yeah, his eyes dropped to Ray's pipe. His mouth.

Ray's whole body got hot. "It's important to me," he said. "You find my mouth distracting, Fraser?" Christ, he couldn't believe they were talking about it. They were talking about it on the sidewalk outside the station.

Fraser blinked and then shut his eyes. "It's a filthy habit."

"I only lit it twice," Ray pointed out. "There's nothing wrong with chewing on it."

"Unsanitary," said Fraser, fighting a losing battle.

"Says the man who licks dirt," Ray mocked him gently.

"Ray." Fraser looked desperate, helpless. His eyes were still shut like he didn't trust himself not to look. Like he didn't know what to do.

Ray moved up close. "I don't mind if you look at my mouth, Fraser," he said. "You can do that."

Fraser's eyes flew open, blue eyes staring at him, so close.

Ray took the pipe out of his mouth. "God knows, I look at yours."

Fraser gasped, his lips parting, and then he licked his lower lip.

Oh yeah, just like that. Ray shivered, and let himself really look. No more hiding. They were gonna do this.

That line was back between Fraser's eyebrows though. "Ray," he said, low and urgent. "We shouldn't. Your cover."

"No one has to know." Ray swallowed, and put his hand on Fraser's arm. "I want this, Fraser."

A patrol car with its siren blaring screeched out of the underground garage, the racket bringing Ray back to his senses. He snatched his hand away. Fuck, they were outside the station. He shook his head to get himself back together and moved away, rolling his shoulders and then raising his hands between them like they were talking about any old thing.

Fraser watched him, big-eyed.

"What are you afraid of?" Ray asked, sticking his chin out. "Me?"

"No." Fraser's voice cracked. He shook his head. "No, I—"

He broke off again, and Christ, Ray wanted to touch him, reassure him. And those weren't the only things he wanted by a long shot. "We've gotta get out of here. Come on, let's—"

He led the way to the car in silence and they got in—Ray pausing only to tap the smouldering tobacco out of his pipe—and they sat staring through the windshield for minutes, felt like hours. Tension hummed in the air, but Fraser was like a statue in the passenger seat and Ray didn't want to freak him out.

Finally Ray couldn't take it anymore. He reached out and grabbed Fraser's hand from where it was clenched on his thigh. Fraser jumped and then huffed a soft laugh and let his fingers relax and twine with Ray's, which, Christ, should not have been a mind-blowing turn-on—not from just that—but it was.

"Fraser," said Ray, raggedly. "We're gonna do this. Say we're gonna do this. I need—"

"Yes," said Fraser, his grip tightening convulsively. He swallowed hard, and then laughed with an edge of hysteria. "On one condition."

He met Ray's gaze, and Ray blinked at him a moment, catching up, and then grinned, maybe a little like he was completely unhinged.

"Abso-fucking-lutely," he said, and flung his pipe into the backseat. "It's done. Okay, so my place?"

Fraser sobered up at once and looked pointedly at the Kottke file, and Ray groaned. "No, Fraser. No, are you kidding me?" He flicked through the file. "If we try to interview Mrs. Leone now, I am not gonna hear a single word she says."

Fraser tilted his head, considering. "True enough," he said, and Ray knew he was talking for both of them. Fraser wanted it just as bad as he did. His heart started pounding. "Well, then," Fraser trailed off, sounding breathless and relieved.

Ray nodded, fast. "A quick—" He circled his free hand in the air to fill in the blank.

"Sojourn," supplied Fraser.

"Yeah. Time out."

"Intermission." The corner of Fraser's mouth twitched.

Ray steeled himself not to reach out and touch. "Recovery period."

"Respite."

"Break." Ray slammed the key in the ignition and took off for home. All going well, they could let off some steam, wrap up the Kottke case, and still be home early enough for a slow, luxurious round two. The mental images that conjured up make him hot all over again, so he took a deep breath and let it out slowly to steady himself. "Hey, remind me to say thanks to my grandpa next time I talk to him."

"Why's that, Ray?" Fraser leaned a little closer when he asked, like he couldn't help himself.

Ray revved the engine and took off when the light turned green. "Why? He sent me the pipe, Fraser. The magic pipe."

"I see," Fraser smiled out at the world with a happy light in his eyes that made Ray's chest hurt. "Then I'll have to thank him myself, too."


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