Notes: For lozenger8
"Three collars in two days, Fraser," Ray shouted as we pushed through the double doors into the squadroom, returning from booking Mr. Delaney and his associate. "Three in two. Those are world class stats, you know that? If this was baseball, we'd have just qualified for the World Series."
"Ray." Although his enthusiasm lit up his face and I personally found his grin engaging, he was also dangerously close to annoying an entire squadroom of fellow detectives within seconds of entering. "Ray!"
"What is it, Fraser?" But he was clearly in too good a mood to pay attention to me. He strutted over to Detective Dewey and Detective Huey, who had their heads buried in a mountain of paperwork for the "Mistletoe" murders, which were proving stubbornly difficult to solve.
Ray ignored the complexity of the case, however, nor did he offer his assistance. Instead, he leaned over Dewey and jabbed his fingers at a forensic report on his desk. "You snooze, you lose."
"Ray," I protested, trying to pull him away. "It's hardly a competition. We're here to perform a service, to make the world a safer place for decent men, women and children."
"This is life in the big city, Fraser." Ray slung his arm across my shoulder and patted me on the chest. "Trust me. Everything's about winning and losing."
Dewey looked on in disdain. "Listen to your boyfriend, Faggio," he said, "and fuck off."
Ray's arm tensed and he paused. Through the serge, I felt his hand twitch. "Those guys," he said, more loudly than was strictly necessary. "Those guys are still playing Little League, but we have hit the big time." He started to walk away with me at my urging, but slipped from my grasp before we got far and turned back to them. "You're snoozing, you're losing," he called to Dewey. "You're shirking your working. You're dozing till closing—"
I grabbed him by the arm and dragged him hastily through the double doors before he could make matters worse. The hallway was crowded, so I bundled him into Interview 2. "Ray, if you don't calm down—"
"We are the champions, my friend," Ray interrupted, raising his arms above his head. Fifty-two hours without sleep was clearly contributing to his boisterousness and impairing his judgment.
"Perhaps you should go home and get some rest," I suggested, as tactfully as I could.
But Ray bounced on the balls of his feet. "No need, buddy. I feel great! I—"
A door slammed nearby, and we both turned instinctively to the one-way glass, to see Huey rounding angrily on Dewey.
"What?" said Dewey, raising his hands defensively. "It's not like it's a secret. They're all over each other."
"That's not the point," said Huey in his rich strong voice. "We do not talk about that. We do not draw attention to it."
Dewey looked taken aback, and then assumed an expression of weary disgust. "Oh jeez," he groaned. "You're not one of them, too, are you?"
"What if I were?" Huey answered Dewey's sneering question. I'd never before seen him so intimidating. "Would that be a problem?"
Dewey clenched his hands. "I'm not working with a fucking cocksucker."
Huey stepped up close to him, and Dewey backed away, but his expression remained resolute.
I glanced sideways. Ray was watching the scene play out, his mouth slightly open, his gaze narrowed and intense. His hands twitched at his side, but otherwise he was completely still. I was surprised—and not a little relieved—that he hadn't stormed next door already and knocked Dewey's head into the drywall, but he seemed hypnotized—content to eavesdrop.
"I'm not," said Huey, shortly. "But you need to get over it. We're all on the same team here."
"Nuh-huh." Dewey shook his head violently. "I'm playing for the other one—I don't know about you." He straightened his jacket, and the line of his shoulders was tight with suspicion. "What are you? A fucking liberal?"
Huey sighed. "My—Someone I used to know was gay, all right? He died, and I respect his memory."
"You respect who you like, but we're cops. I call it like I see it." Dewey was apparently spoiling for a fight, oblivious to the fact that he was significantly outclassed.
"Not while I'm around," said Huey firmly, "or I'll tell everyone you wear women's underwear on stakeouts."
At my side, Ray made a quiet choking noise.
"What?!" Dewey exploded. "I don't! You fucking liar!"
Huey shrugged. "Who are they going to believe—you or me?"
"Man, you are such a dick." But Dewey was apparently defeated. "Fine. What the fuck ever."
"That's settled then. Don't make me discuss your lacy lingerie in public." Huey tugged on his shirt cuffs, signaling the conversation was over. They departed, and I turned to Ray.
His eyes were burning. "Everyone thinks we're doing it, Fraser."
I blushed hotly, unprepared for this turn in the conversation. "It would appear so." I watched him carefully, trying to gauge his reaction to this revelation.
After a moment, he started to laugh.
It was the last thing I expected. I stared.
His laughter had a touch of hysteria, no doubt fueled by sleep-deprivation and social unease. He sagged against the wall and chuckled till his eyes brimmed with tears. I smiled in sympathy, though I wasn't certain I got the joke.
Finally he regained control and wiped his eyes. "All this time I been holding back, scared everyone would know," he told me. He leaned close, his grin fading. "Did you know?"
I licked my lip and steadied myself, but was speechless. How was this finally happening?
Ray swayed forward then back, his confidence wavering. Serious now. "Did you know, Fraser?" he asked urgently.
I took a deep breath. "I hoped."
He nodded slowly, and I could see in the widening of his eyes the moment the words registered. His whole stance changed, alert and focused—focused on me. "Hoped," he echoed softly. "Oh yeah. I, uh, I hear that loud and clear."
We gazed at each other while the world shifted and reformed around us, mysterious and complicated and full of possibilities. My scalp prickled and I watched his pupils dilate, and then I couldn't hold back any longer. I crowded him against the door of the room. "Ray?"
"Yeah," he breathed.
I moved closer.
"Yeah," he repeated. We moved as one, our lips meeting slowly, testing. I started to tremble, and he smiled against my mouth and held me. "Time to get some sleep, maybe?"
I took the opportunity of his speech to kiss him deeper, licking into his mouth, inviting his tongue into mine. He tasted sweet, of chocolate and mayonnaise, an oddly addictive combination. Possessiveness and desire welled up in me, and I determined to get him properly alone as soon as possible so that we might explore this newfound attraction and discover where its boundaries lay.
When I pulled back, his eyes were half-closed, his breath coming heavily, and his erection was obvious in his jeans. He hooked a finger into the neck of my uniform. "Four collars in two days," he murmured, and he kissed me again.