Thanks: Huge sparkly thanks to Miriam, Serial Karma and mergatrude for beta
Notes: For the the Ink challenge on ds_flashfiction
"You have to sign this," Frannie told Ray, her gaze never leaving Fraser's face.
"Okay, okay." Another stupid form, another excuse for Frannie to come over here and flaunt her bellybutton at Fraser. Ray rolled his eyes at the two of them. Fraser was too polite to back away like he clearly wanted to, and Frannie was too repressed to just ask already. Or maybe she didn't want to know the answer. "Hey," Ray added, trying to sound kind. "What happened to your hair?"
"My hair?" squeaked Frannie. "What about my hair?" Her hands flew to her head.
Ray waved his pen in the air. "Oh, you know. It's just kind of—" He gestured vaguely, and somehow managed to hold back his grin until she'd gone running to the ladies' room.
"Ray, that wasn't very nice," said Fraser, the Canadian Delegate from Her Majesty's School of Deportment and Stating the Obvious, radiating his usual combo of gratitude and reproach.
"Nope," agreed Ray. "Funny, though." He scanned the piece of paper in his hand and sighed. Then he shoved the Enderson files back a few inches, and the folders full of CPD Regulations For the New Millennium to the side, nearly knocking six boxes of case notes to the floor in the process (Fraser steadied them before they toppled, thank god, because otherwise it would've been an entire afternoon of "Does this forensics report belong to the Borgia murder or the Caravaggio heist?" "I think you'll find that's the takeout menu for Luigi's, Ray," blah blah) and managed to make a flattish space the size of his fist. He rested the bottom of the form on the lumpy surface and scrawled 'Raymond Vecchio' on the dotted line. Then he threw the form into the OUT tray, the pen onto the desk, and said, "Let's g—uh-oh."
Fraser, who was arguing with Dief about some kind of rhyming math hypothesis, turned and looked at him. "What is it?"
Ray picked up a purple sheet of paper with the tips of his fingers and stared at his desk, not wanting to meet Fraser's eye, not sure how to say it. Fraser was always telling him—well, hinting, but basically telling him—he should tidy his desk, and now this. This was bad. It was like sacrilege or something. Like doodling a moustache on a picture of the baby Jesus. "I'm really sorry, Fraser. Jeez, I don't know where this carbon paper came from. I don't even use carbon paper."
Fraser came over to survey the damage. "Ah," he said.
Ray winced, and squared his shoulders. "You left it on my desk," he pointed out. "This wouldn't have happened if you hadn't—"
"It's stupid anyway. You ever hear about Chicago? The Windy City. What kind of person wears a big hat in a windy city?"
"And how come it never blows off? Even when we're jumping off things, it never—" Ray was starting to get angry. He waved the carbon paper in Fraser's face. "Someone left this here on purpose. It's like a set-up. Like entrapment. And you! You leave your hat on my desk, of course something bad's gonna happen to it. Of course it's gonna be my fault."
"Ray!" Fraser sounded—wait, Fraser sounded calm.
"You're not mad?" Ray balled the carbon paper and tossed it into the bin, then rubbed his fingers down his jeans to clean them. He carefully picked up the hat. There, on the edge of the brim, dark against the tan felt, was his signature—or as close as it got these days.
Fraser took the hat from him, glanced at the imprint, and smiled faintly. "I have a cleansing cream that will make it as good as new—a blend of sphagnum moss and fermented whale—it's not important."
Ray examined his partner through narrowed eyes. "You're not mad."
"But it's the uniform. I've graffitied, defiled, disfigured—" He circled his hand in the air, searching for the word. "—defaced. I've defaced the uniform."
"And you're not mad."
Fraser raised his eyebrows. "I presume this wasn't a deliberate act of vandalism."
"No, no. Accident. Of course it was an accident." Ray stuck his chin out, daring Fraser to contradict him. "And you're okay with that."
"Everyone makes mistakes. You know, Ray, my father once told me that you weren't a real rider until you'd fallen off a horse three times."
"That's dumb. Imagine if we did that with cars." Ray patted the Mountie on the shoulder, grabbed his jacket, and started down the corridor. "Okay. Good. We're good. Where we gonna go for lunch?" Something occurred to him that stopped him in his tracks. He turned. Fraser was a couple of steps behind, the hat hanging from his fingers. "Hey, Frase?"
Fraser caught up. "Yes, Ray?"
"You gonna wear my signature for the rest of the day?" That didn't sound like such a bad idea to Ray.
Fraser stroked the brim of the hat with his thumb. "I was hoping we could drop by the Consulate so I could remedy the problem as soon as possible."
"Yeah, we could do that," said Ray thoughtfully. "It's kind of out of our way though. Maybe you could, you know, wear my signature. For the rest of the day. I mean, it's just little. No one's gonna see."
"That's not the point—" Fraser's cheeks were pink.
Ray overrode him and started walking again, explaining his reasoning as he went. "Because, yeah, who looks at your hat that close? It'd have to be someone tall, and they'd have to be standing right by you."
"Ray." Fraser tilted his head and studied Ray, like he wasn't sure if he was serious.
"And, oh yeah, and you'd have to be standing still," Ray said, letting himself run off at the mouth, "or they wouldn't be able to read it properly. What're the chances?"
"The Consulate," said Fraser firmly.
Ray grabbed Fraser's elbow and backed him into the alcove by the elevator. It was easy, like dancing. He could almost hear the music. He got right into Fraser's space, feeling reckless and wired. "So what you're saying," he said softly, "is you don't want to wear my name on your hat. Is that what you're saying?"
Fraser raised an eyebrow, and Ray froze, wondering if he'd just ruined everything. But then Fraser met his gaze, and his eyes were warm. "Aside from the fact that this—" He raised the hat briefly: Exhibit A. "—is not, technically speaking, your name, that's correct, Ray. I do not want to wear your name on my hat." The emphasis on the last three words was unmistakable.
Ray processed this, and then grinned at Fraser to hide the fact that he felt slightly dizzy. "Yeah. Okay, then. Not on your hat."
"Precisely." And now Fraser was moving closer, and there was hardly room to breathe.
Fraser smelled of wool and something sharp and minty. Ray wondered if he'd taste minty, too. Maybe, if Ray played his cards right, he'd get to find out. Wow. "You, uh, you got some other place in mind?"
Fraser leaned in and murmured in Ray's ear. "Now that you mention it, Ray, yes. I can think of a number of alternatives, none of which would involve my uniform." Which might as well have been in Inuit as far as Ray was concerned, because Fraser's voice was deep and hot, and his breath was on the side of Ray's neck. And then Fraser rested his hand on Ray's hip for a brief moment, fingers burning through the thin t-shirt. Holy shit.
Without warning, Fraser stepped back, and said in his normal voice, "But first I'd appreciate it if you'd drive me to the Consulate so I can attend to my hat."
Ray blinked, confused by the sudden about face, and just then the elevator door clunked open, revealing two little old ladies in green tracksuits and a man carrying a basket of muffins. Oh, right. Public place. "Got it. I mean, yeah." Ray cleared his throat. "Sure. No problem."
"Thank you kindly, Ray," said Fraser, standing back so the muffin guy could get past, and bumping up against Ray in the process. Ray had to shove his hands in his pockets so he wouldn't grab Fraser then and there and, jeez, kiss him? Lick his ear? Sign him all over in long slow loops, starting at his feet and working his way up? All that and more.
Ray's car keys bit into his fingers, hard and angular, helping keep him steady. Public place. Right. "C'mon," he said, heading for the door.
Fraser was right beside him, just like always, only not like always at all. "In triplicate," he said out of nowhere, like he was talking to himself.
"What?" said Ray, trying to get his brain back in gear. They stepped out into the parking lot. Ray put his sunglasses on and looked around for where he'd parked the car.
"On the dotted line," said Fraser. "I'm sure if we search thoroughly we can find some dotted lines."
Ray wasn't sure if that was some kind of weird double entendre, or if Fraser was just out of his mind. "You're unhinged, you know that?" he said as they got in the car.
Fraser rested his ink-stained hat on his knees. "You know, Ray, for millennia, artists have focused on the human form."
"Crazy. Nuts. You're a freak," continued Ray, sticking the key in the ignition, and then he heard what Fraser'd said. Human form. Jeez. He turned and pointed an accusing finger. "Hey, this isn't a joke, Fraser. You're not just messing with my head."
Fraser's fingers brushed Ray's arm. "It's not a joke." He leaned in and pressed his mouth softly against Ray's, setting off the kind of fizzing chain reaction Ray hadn't felt in years. Ray reached up instinctively to hold him there, to pull him deeper into a real kiss, but Fraser caught Ray's hand and pulled back, his gaze flickering out to the parking lot, down to his hat, and then back to Ray's face. His eyes were dark and serious. He licked his lips, where Ray's mouth had just been. "It's not a joke," he repeated, huskily, the corner of his mouth quirking up just a little. "It's a sign."