Pairing: Benton "Billy-Bob" Fraser/Ray Kowalski pre-slash
Notes: For dar_jeeling. This slots into the season 1 episode, Pizza and Promises.
Stella was out of town. That was really the only excuse Ray could come up with for why he was test-driving a run-down Corvette he had no interest in buying, just because the car salesman was tall, dark and handsome. It was crazy. It was looking for trouble, and Ray was supposed to have quit doing that. He'd told Stella never again— but Stella was out of town with her mom, and Ray, Ray was restless. He shot a sideways look at the guy and then bit his lip. Crazy.
He sped up to make an orange light. Jeez, the Corvette sounded like it had emphysema. "She's, uh, running a little rough there."
"Yes, I'm afraid—" The salesman cleared his throat and smiled ruefully. "That is, I suspect there's a minor problem with the radiator. I'm sure a little love and attention would fix it up in no time." He sounded like he'd been schooled to say that, but Ray wasn't complaining. The guy had a voice like warm caramel.
"Spark plugs, too, I'm thinking." Ray took a left. Jeez, the indicator didn't even work. "It's— uh, it's—" He cast around for a polite way to say 'heap of junk'.
"A little the worse for the wear?" the salesman suggested. His hair was dark and soft-looking, and Ray had to fight the urge to reach over and slide his fingers into it, see what it felt like.
"Ray Kowalski," he said, holding out his hand instead.
"B-Billy-Bob Fraser," said the salesman. He took off his horrible sunglasses and folded them away, and then shook Ray's hand with a warm, firm grip that sent tingles down Ray's spine.
"Yeah?" Ray flashed him a grin and felt his stomach flip when Billy-Bob returned it, a little shy, a lot pretty. Something was hinky, though. This guy— Ray instinctively trusted this guy, and that was not a reaction he usually had to car salesmen. "You been selling cars long?"
"It certainly feels that way," said Billy-Bob. His eyes widened. "Oh dear."
Smoke was pouring out from under the hood. "Shit." Ray swerved abruptly onto the shoulder and popped the lid. "Know much about engines?"
"Enough to let it cool down before I take a look," Billy-Bob answered. "Actually, I'm more familiar with snowmobiles."
"Is that so?" They got out of the car, and Ray watched as he came around to the off-road side of the vehicle. His posture was way too good. Maybe military training?
"Yes, there's not much demand for road vehicles in the arctic— ah, that is." Billy-Bob stopped awkwardly, and frowned. "Well, you know, actually I've been in Texas most recently, but—"
Ray tilted his head and tried not to laugh. The guy was so transparent it was a wonder anyone had given him the assignment. "Undercover, huh?"
The guy paused and then there was the slow, wet glide of pink tongue over his lower lip and a fair amount of Ray's blood took a hurried vacation down south. Billy-Bob narrowed his eyes shrewdly, but luckily he only seemed to be sizing Ray up above the waist. "How did you know?"
"Put it this way—" Ray met his eye, teasing. "We've been out of the lot for nearly fifteen minutes and you haven't once tried to sell me this car."
"Ah." Billy-Bob accepted that with good grace. He raised his eyebrows. "And you are—?"
"Cop." Ray flashed his badge quickly and shoved it back in his pocket. He did not want this to be about work, not at all. "Tell me you're on the right side of the law."
"Well, yes, of course." Billy-Bob's posture got impossibly straighter. "I'm a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Constable Benton Fraser. I first came to Chicago on the trail of the killers of my father, and for—"
"Oh, jeez," Ray interrupted. "Your dad? That's rough." He angled forward a little, surprised at the rush of protectiveness he felt. This guy was getting to him on all fronts.
Billy-Bob—no, Fraser. Fraser's eyes dropped and his face went serious. "Yes." Then he shook himself out of it and glanced at the hood of the car. "Shall we?"
There was less smoke but Ray wasn't in any hurry. "Better give it a few more minutes. Don't want to scorch that fancy suit of yours."
The corner of Fraser's mouth tugged up.
Ray leaned against the side of the car in the late afternoon sun and studied him from his leather loafers, all the way up his bright red linen suit to the fine gold chain around his neck. He glanced up and caught Fraser's warm, appreciative gaze in response. The guy might dress like a peacock, but he sure seemed to like the worn t-shirt and denim look.
Ray slouched back deliberately, rolled his shoulders a little, and rested one arm along the roof of the car like an invitation, and Fraser took a step closer like he maybe wanted to RSVP then and there. Ray's pulse kicked up a notch.
"You're not looking for a car, are you, Ray?"
The question was quiet and sure, right out of left field, and Ray blinked at him, hiding his surprise. "What makes you say that?"
"You haven't asked any of the questions prospective car-buyers usually ask," said Fraser simply. "Which leads me to wonder why you're taking this test drive."
Ray ducked his head, then looked away, rubbing his neck. Gorgeous and smart. "Oh. Uh, it's just, you know— to pass the time." He shrugged, and then looked back at Fraser, locked gazes with him. "I got a thing for Corvettes," he said, feeling breathless and a little bit stupid.
"I see." Fraser nodded and moved a step closer, blocking out the sun. "And do you have a lot of experience with— Corvettes?"
"Enough." The word came out hoarse, and they stood there digesting that, staring at each other, and if Ray had known before he got married that he could get this turned on just from looking at a guy, well, his life might've taken a whole different turn.
"We, uh, we should check the engine," said Ray, and Fraser nodded slowly, but still neither of them moved.
Fraser's eyes were dark blue-gray, intent and mesmerizing. Vaguely, Ray was aware that the world was flurrying on around them. Traffic rushed past in a continuous stream. A siren wailed in the distance. Somewhere, a dog barked. Fraser blinked and snapped himself out of it, taking a step back and moving to the front of the car. He opened the hood and checked the radiator. Ray came over and stood next to him, too close but he couldn't help himself. Their arms brushed, raising goosebumps all the way up to Ray's shoulder.
"Guess that's it," said Ray, three minutes later, holding up the worn radiator hose that'd come off in his hand.
Fraser took it from him. "It would appear so."
"You want me to call the lot for you so they can send someone?" Ray went around to the driver's seat and dug out his cellphone, then brandished it to demonstrate.
Fraser's expression was warm. "Thank you kindly."
Ray dialled the number off the sales sheet. While it was ringing, he fought with himself about whether he was going to make a move. Fraser was—well, he was unbelievably gorgeous, for one thing, and interested for another. But he was a nice guy, a serious guy, and he didn't deserve being jerked around. And Stella— there was Stella, beautiful and impatient, and always wanting more. Ray had promised her. Was he going to screw that up again, risk everything on a roll of the dice, for a roll in the hay?
"Tex Markles Preowned Automobiles," said a sharp tinny voice on the phone. "How can I help you?"
You can kick me in the head and send me home, Ray almost said, but instead he kept his mouth shut and handed the phone over to Fraser, watched him while he arranged for a tow truck.
When he hung up and handed the phone back, Ray grabbed his jacket out of the car, stuck his phone into it, and shoved his hands into the front pockets of his jeans. "I, uh." He ducked his head. "I'm going to—" He took a step back.
"You don't want to—?" And the blatant offer laced with disappointment almost undid Ray, so he took another step back, safely out of reach.
"No, I—can't. Sorry." He hunched his shoulders, and muttered, "It was a pleasure." And then turned and walked away, not letting himself look back, not letting himself wonder if Fraser was watching him go.