Thanks: A big gooey chocolate cake of thanks to Sage for beta
Notes: For Sprat
Ray was driving down South Halsted Street, thinking about condoms, when Vecchio suddenly said, "Hey, slow down a minute!"
Ray started guiltily.
Not that Vecchio noticed. No, he just twisted around in the passenger seat, craning his head to look behind them.
"What?" Ray braked, and tried to follow Vecchio's line of sight in the rear view mirror, but all he could see was a travel agents' window display with maple leaves and Mounties plastered all over it, and who the hell thought Canada was a holiday destination, anyway? When you could go to Mexico? "What?" he said again, harsher, figuring Vecchio was messing with him, maybe even trying to get rid of him at last.
A car horn sounded behind them, so Ray sped up again, his blood starting to simmer.
"Would you stop?" Vecchio said, waving his hand without looking over. "That's Christie Buckley's car, there, by the laundromat."
Ray pulled over next to a fire hydrant and checked out the powder blue vintage Chevy. Vecchio was right. "Well, why the hell didn't you say so?"
"What's the matter, Kowalski? You get up on the wrong side of bed this morning?" Vecchio released his seatbelt and got out of the car, pulling his gun from its holster.
Ray was going to say something smart in reply, but then Buckley walked out of the Egg Store Produce Market. She had long red curly hair this time, but no question it was her. Vecchio took off after her, yelling, "Freeze! Chicago PD!" with Ray hot on his heels.
They'd been trying to run Christie Buckley to ground for three weeks, ever since she escaped from jail, stole half a dozen expensive wigs, and went back to scamming bank managers and taking out mortgages on other people's houses. Ray couldn't figure why she'd stayed in town, but she had. Luckily, for once she was wearing high heels and not sneakers, so it was pretty easy to catch her, though when they did, the first thing she said was, "Oh shit! Look, you boys gave me a run in my stockings."
She fluttered her eyelashes and pointed to her long shapely legs, and then looked at Vecchio expectantly, maybe hoping for chivalry and a Get Out of Being Arrested Free card, but Vecchio was too busy looking down the street to notice.
So Ray cuffed her, and then Vecchio said, "Gimme a minute," and vanished into the drugstore two doors down.
Ray squinted after him for a second, then he shrugged and read Buckley her rights, and bundled her into the backseat of the car. Vecchio came back with a small square bulge showing through the fabric of his coat pocket.
They set off for the station, and Buckley complained the whole way about getting wolf hair on her skirt.
Wolf hair. After all this time. "Shut up," Ray told her, and hoped Vecchio wasn't paying attention.
Kowalski let them into his apartment—third night this week, and it was only Thursday. It was becoming a habit. Ray thought perhaps it was time to move out of home and get his own place, so maybe they could go there sometimes, but Christ only knew what Ma would say about it. The clunk of Kowalski's keys on the kitchen counter distracted him from the idea, and he went over and dropped the box of condoms he'd bought that afternoon down beside the keys. Kowalski didn't move.
Vecchio ran his hands down Kowalski's leather jacketed arms, and bit lightly on the back of his neck just below the hairline.
Usually that worked like a charm and Kowalski would have Ray on his back in the bedroom within three minutes flat, but not tonight. Tonight, Kowalski kind of shrugged him away, and moved sideways, rifling through his mail. "You want a drink?" he said, without looking up.
Ray studied him. This wasn't in the script. They didn't hang out at Kowalski's apartment. If they were shooting the breeze, they did it someplace else—over beer or coffee in a bar or a diner. Over lunch a couple of times in the break room at the station. And if they were working, they were working. But at Kowalski's apartment, they just got naked and went to bed (not always in that order), and then Ray went home.
Ray yawned and rubbed the back of his head, and decided to go with it and see where it took him. "Sure."
"Get it yourself, then." Kowalski sat on the couch and opened a bill from the telephone company.
Ray could feel one of his Ma's disapproving expressions spreading across his face, one of those did-I-raise-you-to-be-so-rude? looks. He hid it, and went through to the kitchen to fill the kettle.
"I'll have a beer," Kowalski called.
Ray turned and stared at the back of his head. On the surface, that'd sounded casual, but—
Distracted, he opened the refrigerator and found a Coors, and then went to make coffee for himself. He was halfway through spooning in the creamer when he paused, the teaspoon hovering above the cup. There'd been a lab report taped to the refrigerator door. Maybe forensics. Ray went back over and took another look.
It wasn't a lab report, exactly. It was test results from an STD Clinic. Ray blinked a couple of times, and then scanned it. All negative. Okay, so—
"Jeez, Vecchio, how long does it take to make a cup of coffee?" came Kowalski's voice from the living room. "You want to get laid or not?"
Ray jumped like a kid caught shoplifting, and felt his face get hot, but he went back to finish making the coffee, and soon after he took it and the beer through to the living room, where they got left on the coffee table, forgotten until long after the coffee had gone cold.
Vecchio had been humming off and on for the last few days, always the same tune. Ray didn't recognize it, and he didn't know what it meant, but he kind of liked the sound of it, even now, echoing around the entranceway to Ray's apartment. He gave Vecchio the bags of groceries he'd bought on the way home (it'd been queer and a little domestic scouting around the local Kwiki Mart with Vecchio, but Ray had needed some stuff—milk, toothpaste, cereal, TP—and they were driving right by it) and cleared out his mailbox.
There was a postcard from his mom, a letter from the bank, two chances to win a trip for two to Hawaii, a letter from Readers' Digest Magazine (who'd gotten his name onto their database in the eighties and just would not quit), and a plain white envelope addressed to Raymond Vecchio.
Ray showed it to Vecchio. "You'd think that after eighteen months, people could get with the program and figure out that I'm not you."
Vecchio went a little pink. "It's for me. I didn't want to give my home address."
"Oh." Ray gave him the envelope and took the shopping, and led the way upstairs. Once they were safely inside the apartment, he went to put the groceries away. "You should've told me you gave this address. I might've opened it."
Vecchio stood in the doorway, fingering the unopened envelope. "You can open it if you want."
Ray paused with the box of cereal in his hand. "No, no, you—uh, you open it."
Vecchio shrugged. "I just meant—"
Ray put the cereal in the cupboard. "Open the damned envelope, Vecchio." He put the rest of the food away and listened to the envelope tear, and the crinkle of paper being pulled out and unfolded.
Then everything went quiet.
Ray licked his lips and turned around. "Well?"
Vecchio was holding a sheet of paper in one hand. His face was red. "Well what?" he asked, and picked up the tape from the counter by the fridge. He carefully tore off a couple of lengths, and taped the paper to the fridge below Ray's test results. Then he leaned on the opposite counter and folded his arms.
Ray pulled the milk out of the shopping bag and went over to the fridge to put it away, trying to seem casual, but he didn't open the fridge. He just stood there like a moron, clutching the milk and staring at the list of test results, all negative. "So," he said. "Okay."
"Wanna fuck?" asked Vecchio.
Kowalski kissed him and kissed him, while both of them undid their clothing. It was like a dream, slow and beautiful, like listening to classical music, only sexy. Ray hadn't expected this—hadn't realized that the tests would change everything, but now their clothes felt like barriers between them, peeled away carefully, until they were naked in the kitchen, still kissing, hands stroking over skin.
Ray could feel his heartbeat hammering hard. He couldn't listen to what it was trying to tell him, not yet, so he dropped to his knees in the piles of discarded clothing and ran his hands up Kowalski's hairy thighs. His cock was hard, sticking straight out. Ray curled one hand around the base and blew him, slow and sweet.
Kowalski groaned and grabbed the counter for balance, and put his other hand on the back of Ray's head, just holding him there, fingers warm against his scalp. Kowalski's cock was thick and sweet in Ray's mouth, and for the first time this didn't feel reckless and crazy like hurtling down a highway to disaster with the top down. Ray slid his tongue across the veined underside of Kowalski's cock and sucked, and yeah, this was something he could do forever, for the rest of his life.
He stopped before Kowalski came. He sat back on his heels and looked up at him, and said, "Fuck me."
Kowalski's lips parted. "Yeah," he said. "Yeah, okay. Come on."
They went through to the bedroom. Ray felt weirdly self-conscious. His skin was sweaty and hot, his cock hard. He pulled back the covers and lay on the cool sheets, with his shoulders against the headboard and his knees bent up.
Kowalski opened the bedside drawer.
"You don't—you don't have to—" Ray said.
The corner of Kowalski's mouth curved. "Yeah, I get it. Still gonna need this though." He dropped the bottle of lube on the nightstand and lay down beside Ray, pulling him down so they were face to face, and running his hands all over him.
Ray tried to close his eyes, tried to focus on the feel of Kowalski's hands, the brush of their bodies against each other, but he couldn't keep from looking at him. It was amazing—this strange sexy guy paying him this kind of attention, turned on by him.
Kowalski traced Ray's mouth with his thumb. "Christ, look at you," he said, echoing Ray's thoughts, and suddenly Ray got it, got that he wasn't second best. Everything about Kowalski said he was here with Ray because he wanted to be. Ray flushed from head to foot.
"Shut up," he said, and sucked hard on the ball of Kowalski's thumb for a moment, then broke free and leaned in to bite lightly at his chest, lick his nipples. He took Kowalski's cock and jacked him slow, keeping him hard while they made out. Kowalski slung his arms around Ray's shoulders and rode his fist, thrusting evenly. No hurry.
That was what was different. Before it had always been urgent, desperate. There'd been an undercurrent of What the fuck are we doing? and This is crazy! No one can ever know about this! All of that had been laid to rest, as if by magic.
Fingers brushed Ray's cock, making him murmur incoherently—he had no idea what he could say now, anyway, even if he could form words—and then slipped back, back behind his balls. Energy and desire coursed through him, pushing him forward, right up against Kowalski so the only things between them were their cocks and Ray's hand. "Christ, I—" Ray said, dazed.
"Yeah." Kowalski rolled him onto his back and leaned over him, kissing and kissing him until Ray's lips were swollen with it. He felt heavy and hot, and Kowalski felt great sprawled on top of him, but he wanted him inside him, too.
"Come on, come—" Ray stroked his hands down Kowalski's back, and Kowalski shifted, brushing every nerve in Ray's skin, making him groan.
"What's the big hurry?" said Kowalski, nosing into Ray's armpit, but he reached for the lube a second later, and squeezed some onto his fingers. And then his mouth was back on Ray's and his fingers were pushing into Ray's ass, smooth slide inside. It burned a little—good burn. Ray tilted his hips to give better access, and let himself dissolve into the feel of it—the pull and movement inside him, and Kowalski's lips roaming over his collarbone, his neck, his mouth. He knew he should do something, and he made a half-hearted attempt to jack Kowalski off some more, but the sensations were too much, too intense. He couldn't—he couldn't think, let alone—
Kowalski's fingers slipped free.
Ray groaned, rolled onto his side facing Kowalski, and hooked his leg around Kowalski's thigh, drawing him close.
"Like this?" Kowalski asked, but he didn't wait for an answer. He reached behind Ray's thigh and held his cock steady, pressing it in, in, further. It was an awkward position, really, but Christ it was exactly what Ray needed. Right there, right there.
Kowalski moved in little thrusts, his hand gripping Ray's ass and holding him close. Ray's cock was between them, but Ray was hardly aware of it, so distracted by Kowalski's cock moving inside him, by the sweet frown of concentration and arousal on Kowalski's face.
Ray looped his arms around Kowalski and held him, and it was like his heart was going to burst. He kissed Kowalski, silently telling him all the stuff about the two of them, about Fraser and the past, about the future that he'd never found words for. They were here together now. That was what mattered. That was what—
Jesus! Kowalski had changed the angle or something, was going in deeper, and fuck, that was too much, too much. Ray was gonna—and he was, he was coming, pulsing between them, gasping for breath, his arms tight tight tight around Kowalski, holding him close.
"Fuck!" he gasped, and Kowalski laughed a little and sped up, like he didn't want to get left behind.
"God, you—" Kowalski breathed, and stiffened, holding it, holding them together. Coming inside Ray, nothing separating them, nothing to hold back.
Vecchio made coffee while Ray sat at the table dismantling his gun on some spread-out newspaper so he could clean it.
"Hey, I'm, uh—" Vecchio poked his head through the doorway. "I'm gonna take the test results off the refrigerator door, before we forget about them and Frannie comes over to visit, okay?"
Ray looked up, grinning. "What's the matter, Vecchio? You don't want her to know you passed? I should write you up a report card."
"Hey, I'm a straight A student." Vecchio put the milk back into the fridge and brought the two cups out to the table.
"I don't know about that. Maybe a B minus for taste in TV programs."
"Well, seeing as how you're barely scraping through with a C in clothing, I don't see where you get off—"
Ray reached out and dragged Vecchio's mouth to his, kissing the words out of him. "An A in kissing," he said breathlessly, when they broke apart a minute later.
"A plus," Vecchio corrected him.
"Nah, you get an A plus in being too fucking sure of yourself," said Ray, and kissed him all over again.