Thanks: Many thanks to Brynn for beta
Notes: For woolly socks
They got the call at two a.m. that Harry Handsaw had been caught on the other side of town with a hooker. Ray looked across the car at Kowalski's tired face. They were well past the low-key bickering stage of the stakeout and the talking dirty to each other stage, and had actually, God help them, spent the last half hour sleepily discussing the outrageous state of the real estate market in Chicago and Ray's plan to retire to Florida.
"So much for him dropping by to see his mom on her birthday," said Ray into the quiet of the car.
Kowalski grunted and scrubbed his hands across his face so he'd wake up enough to drive. "Total washout." He started the car and navigated through the dark streets towards Elmwood Park and Ray's home.
"That was a red light," said Ray, absent-mindedly, as they sped through an empty intersection.
"It's two a.m.," said Kowalski. "What are you, a Mountie?"
Ray slanted a look at him. "I can go either way. How 'bout you?" Because they hadn't talked about that yet, had only made out and groped each other, and on one spectacular occasion, exchanged blowjobs.
But either Kowalski didn't get the joke or he wasn't in the mood. He grunted again and gunned the engine. "Fucking Handsaw."
Ray decided discretion was the better part of getting home in one piece, so he kept his mouth shut and ten minutes later, Kowalski pulled over to the curb outside Casa Vecchio. He left the engine running.
"Come in." Ray put his hand on Kowalski's shoulder. "Take the couch. It's too late to go any further."
Kowalski looked pained. "And wake up in the middle of your family? No, thanks." But he turned off the ignition.
Ray's pulse picked up in anticipation. "Coffee?"
Kowalski shrugged. "What's another half hour?" He locked the car and they snuck inside, quiet so they wouldn't wake anyone. The house was dark and still, except for the LED display on the VCR glowing in the living room and the steady motion of the pendulum in the grandfather clock at the bottom of the stairs. Kowalski put his hand on Ray's shoulder for guidance and followed him through to the kitchen.
Ray shut the door, turned on the spot-lighting over the sink and filled the kettle. "Hungry?" He went to the fridge and opened it, spilling light over the linoleum, and squinted through the glare while he rummaged for a snack. "There's pasta, pasta and pasta."
Kowalski snorted softly in his ear, and Ray jumped and half-turned to face him, and then Kowalski's mouth landed on his.
Ray clutched at him and turned the rest of the way, distractedly letting the fridge fall shut and pulling Kowalski close so they were both leaning against the finger-paintings and shopping lists stuck to its door. Magnets dug into Ray's shoulders and Kowalski's fingers dug into his hips, and Kowalski rubbed against him, the pressure sending little bursts of excitement coursing through Ray's blood.
Ray grabbed Kowalski's head and kissed him hard, thoroughly, sliding his tongue into his mouth and opening up, forgetting the coffee and food and only hungry for Kowalski, for release. The rich anticipation from the lewd talk earlier that evening flooded back.
"Fuck, yeah," breathed Kowalski into his shoulder, and he started fumbling with Ray's belt, intent on one thing.
"Not here," hissed Ray. "Are you crazy?"
"Everyone's asleep." Kowalski licked along his jaw and sucked on his earlobe. "Can't wait anymore." He licked the curve of Ray's ear, and Ray bit off a groan and surrendered.
"Christ, just touch me," he begged under his breath, and Kowalski tugged at Ray's zipper and slipped his hand into his pants, his hot, tight hand.
Ray gasped and let his head fall back against the refrigerator, thrust forward with his hips, already at full speed and embarrassed by how close he was, how much he wanted—
The main light came on with a click. "Oh my God!"
Kowalski and Ray both froze.
Frannie was standing in the doorway in a navy terrycloth robe, staring at them wide-eyed.
Kowalski went red and stepped back. "It's not what it looks like. We were— uh, we were—" He looked to Ray for support.
"It's exactly what it looks like," Ray told Frannie, and hastily fastened his pants. "What are you doing up? It's two-thirty!"
"What, a girl can't need a glass of milk in the middle of the night? What are you, the milk police?" Frannie had covered her eyes, but now she lowered her hand. She was as flushed as Kowalski, and Ray's own face was hot, too.
"Just the regular police," said Kowalski. He went and switched off the kettle, and then folded his arms and leaned against the counter.
"Frannie!" Ray wished she'd for once in her life take the hint and give him some privacy.
"What?" she said. "Jeez, Ray, it's not like it's any big surprise." She threw up her hands. "I mean, yeah, sure, it's a surprise you're doing Kowalski — me, I thought you'd look higher up the food chain — but come on."
Ray's jaw dropped. She knew he was queer?
She shook her head and her mouth widened into a teasing smile. "You haven't heard a word I've said for, like, years back."
"I stopped listening when you explained to me for the sixteenth time that you and Fraser were made for each other and you were going to have dozens of his beautiful little half-Canadian children," said Ray, cruelly. If she was going to pick on Kowalski, he was going to fight dirty.
But Frannie just shrugged. "Someone had to set some lightning under your behind, bro." She tucked her hair behind her ear. "I mean, come on. If Fraser was heterosexual, I'd have his ring on my finger by now, and it wasn't like you've ever been any good at drooling in private."
Kowalski was watching Frannie with raised eyebrows.
"Do we have to get into this now?" Ray asked Frannie.
"It's okay." Kowalski shrugged. "It's not like you and Fraser are the world's best kept secret. Even Welsh knew."
Ray felt faint. "Lieutenant Welsh?"
Kowalski gave him a twisted smile. "Told me when I signed on. But Fraser never spilled the beans, so I never got it from the horse's mouth before."
Ray took a deep calming breath. "You still haven't, unless you're calling my sister a horse."
"Hey!" said Frannie.
"Exactly." Ray got the milk carton from the fridge and gave it to her. "Go back to bed."
She scowled at him, but he did his big brother loom until she gave in, and he waited until her footsteps had made it all the way upstairs.
When he turned back to the kitchen, Kowalski was gone and the back door was open. Ray made coffee at top speed and went outside, found him sitting on the stoop, smoking. "That's all history, okay?" Ray said. "Dead and buried."
"You sure?" Kowalski seemed detached, but he was turning his lighter over and over in his hand. One of those cheap plastic throwaways. "You sure you're not waiting for a sign, some kind of Wish You Were Here postcard so you can drop everything and go north?"
"Not me," said Ray. He belonged in Chicago, and he and Benny had made peace a long time ago. He sat down next to Kowalski, ignoring how the concrete was so cold it made his ass instantly numb. "How about you?"
Kowalski exhaled a plume of smoke. "That boat has sailed, my friend. Long gone." He smiled. "Kinda miss the mutt, but I wouldn't emigrate for the sake of a dog."
"Half-wolf," said Ray, automatically.
"That's what I said." They grinned at each other. "Okay, so—"
"We're good." Ray bumped shoulders with him. He was off-balance, still a little distracted by the idea that Frannie knew, but Kowalski's presence was good for his concentration.
"Good." Kowalski took a mouthful of coffee and grimaced. Took another pull at his cigarette.
"So come here and kiss me, you idiot," muttered Ray, leaning into him.
"What the hell are you doing out there?" said Tony from the doorway behind them. "It's three a.m."
Ray pulled back and dropped his head into his hands. "Oh Christ."
Kowalski laughed and stubbed out his cigarette. He got to his feet and flicked the butt into the bushes. "See you tomorrow, Vecchio."
Ray swallowed his protests with difficulty. "Sure thing."
"Did I interrupt something?" Tony had puzzlement written all over his stupid face. He was wearing a t-shirt and baggy old shorts, and that helped considerably with cooling Ray's ardour.
"No," Ray answered him. "What do you want?"
Tony sniffed and wiped his nose on his hand. "You seen the milk?"
Ray shook his head sadly. Who could live like this? He packed Tony back off to bed, turned off all the lights and went upstairs. While he was brushing his teeth, he eyed himself in the mirror. Nearly forty. Fuck it, he thought.
His toothbrush still clamped between his teeth like a cigar, he let himself out of the house and drove twenty minutes to Kowalski's apartment, running every red light. He walked up the three flights of stairs, knocked on the door.
It took Kowalski a long time to answer, and when he did, he was in boxers and a t-shirt, and the contrast with Tony couldn't have been greater. "Yeah?"
Ray took the toothbrush out of his mouth and waved it in the air. "You were right."
"What about?" Kowalski stood back to let him in.
Ray shook his head. "I'd have to be crazy to want to wake up surrounded by my family, too. Okay if I crash here?"
Kowalski tilted his head, considered him for a minute. He smiled sweetly. "I got room."
They went through to the bedroom, got undressed and got into bed. Ray reached across Kowalski to put his toothbrush on the nightstand.
"You brushed your teeth." Kowalski yawned.
"Did you think I wasn't house-trained?" Ray pulled him close, too exhausted to try anything.
"Kids these days," Kowalski murmured into his shoulder. "Who can tell?"
"Who're you calling a kid, grandpa?"
Kowalski got up on one elbow and peered at him, a smile playing at the corner of his mouth. "Vecchio, don't bring the madness with you, okay? Go to sleep."
He kissed him, then switched out the light.
"Sleep," said Kowalski, firmly. And they did.