Rating: PG
Pairing: Fraser/Kowalski
Thanks: Thanks to Sage and Mergatrude for beta
Notes: For the Lube challenge on ds_flashfiction

The Universe Expands

by china_shop


"Dammit!" said Frannie from by the water cooler. She had a stack of file folders propped against her hip, and she was twisting her hands together awkwardly. She turned to the rest of the room, which was crowded and steamy, given how it was raining outside and nearly eighty inside, and called out, "Does anyone have any butter?"

"I've got mayo in my burger," said the damp, ripe-smelling perp by Huey's desk. He waved a soggy still-wrapped burger at Frannie and leered, showing his crooked teeth.

"Quiet." Huey confiscated the burger and dropped it in the trash. "I asked you where and when you took possession of the stolen jewelry."

Ray and the perp both looked at the trash sadly. Ray had missed lunch and the perp looked pretty hungry, too.

Dewey sauntered over to Frannie to see what was going on. "There's margarine in the breakroom refrigerator. It's been there since last year. What do you want it for?"

"My mood ring's stuck," said Frannie, tugging at it. Her whole finger was turning red and swollen.

"Run your hand under cold water," suggested Huey, looking up from the statement he was typing. "Or put some ice on it."

Dewey shook his head. "My mother swore by goose grease."

"Where the hell is she going to get goose grease?" said Ray. "If you twist it, it'll come off. Twist, don't pull."

"I have a chapstick." The cross-dressing con artist Martinez was booking waved a tube in Frannie's direction.

"Put your makeup back in your purse," said Martinez, "or I'll send it down to Evidence."

The con artist snapped his purse shut with a click. "I want my lawyer."

"Maybe the Lieu has some Preparation H," muttered Frannie, tugging at her finger.

Ray snorted. "Don't let him hear you say that."

"I've heard Windex will get it right off," said Carl from the Lab. He dropped a report in Lazenby's In-Tray. "That's what jewelers use."

"Do we have any Windex?" asked Frannie.

"I've got WD-40 in my car," said Ray, getting to his feet. The bullpen was getting crowded and the suggestions were getting louder and stupider. A leisurely walk down to the parking lot and back didn't sound so bad, even in this weather. He started hunting among the crap on his desk for his car keys.

"I got a ring off once by soaking my hands in a sink full of luke-warm soapy water," said a girl with pink hair. "Or, wait, maybe that was when my bracelet got stuck."

Welsh came to the door of his office to see what the fuss was about. He took one look at Frannie's hand and said, "What have you been eating in the last couple of hours? If you had a lot of sodium, you could be retaining fluid."

Frannie glared at him. "Thanks, Harding. Got any Preparation H?"

"No," said Welsh, and turned to the crowd. "Stop this ruckus now, or I'll start banging heads together, starting with yours." He pointed at Huey and Dewey, and then stomped back into his office and slammed the door behind him.

Ray found his car keys and headed for the door, only to run smack-bang into Fraser. He was in uniform, his coat over one arm and his hat tucked neatly under the other.

"What's going on, Ray?"

"Frannie's got a ring stuck on her finger." Ray jangled his keys in front of him. "I'm going to get the WD-40 from my car."

"Oh, no need," said Fraser, heartily. "I have some lubricant in my belt that should do the trick."

Somehow his voice cut through the babble. Heads swiveled in their direction, and silence fell like someone had hit the mute button.

"What?" said Fraser, looking at the gobsmacked faces around him. He went over to Frannie and fished a small jar out of his belt pouch. "Here you are. It's made from the mucous membrane of a pregnant...well, that's probably not important."

She took the jar from him with a slack hand, removed the lid and sniffed it, and grimaced. "Thanks, Frase."

Dewey recovered first. "You carry lube in your belt?"

"Certainly." Fraser calmly hung his hat and coat on the coat stand and looked around at the curious crowd. "It comes in very handy, I assure you."

"I bet!" muttered Dewey. A few people sniggered.

"Shut your cheesehole!" Ray told Dewey, tensing. No one made fun of Fraser on his watch.

Not that Fraser noticed when they did. "Ray, courtesy is a virtue that costs nothing and benefits everyone," he said mildly.

Ray glanced at Frannie, but thankfully she was distracted with the goo and the ring and her finger. He lowered his voice anyway. "Dewey's suggesting you use your lube stuff for, uh."

"Sex," supplied Huey.

Fraser nodded. "Well, yes, amongst other things."

A second silence fell, this one more stunned than the last, only broken when Frannie cried out triumphantly and threw her mood ring across the room.

"He's kidding," said Ray, glaring at all the wide-eyed faces. "He's kidding. Hardee har har." Ray grabbed the jar of mucous out of Frannie's hand, screwed the lid on with one sharp twist and handed it to Fraser, and then dragged him out of the bullpen into the hallway. They stopped outside Interview Two. "You were kidding, right?"

Fraser raised his eyebrows. "Of course, Ray."

"Good." Ray felt his blood pressure simmer down.

"Fat- or oil-based lubricants aren't recommended for use with condoms." Fraser's face was perfectly serious but there was a glint in his eye.

"Uh." Ray felt his own face heat up. "You have sex?"

A crease appeared between Fraser's eyebrows. "It's been known to happen."

Ray hauled him down the hallway, pushed him into the supply closet and shut the door behind them. No one else needed to hear this. It might give them ideas. He pulled on the light cord.

Fraser was looking faintly annoyed, which for him was like threatening to kick someone in the head. "Why, did you think I was some kind of monk?"

"No, of course not," said Ray. "It's just—"

"Maybe you think of me more in the nature of plant life," said Fraser. "A tree or a nice asexual bush of some kind. Perhaps a ficus elastica."

"Maybe," agreed Ray, by accident. "No, I mean, I just. You." He shook his head. "This is not something you talk about."

"True enough." Fraser tilted his head and eyed him narrowly. "Perhaps that's part of the problem."

"What problem?" asked Ray, wondering if he was going to regret the question. He was in over his head. The waters were closing around him. His heart sped up, trying to keep him alive.

"It appears that certain people—people towards whom I have, ah, romantic intentions—"

Ray blinked. "What?"

"—consider me akin to plant life," said Fraser, pointedly.

Ray stared at him, getting hot and prickly all over. "Oh." He didn't know what else to say.

"Ray?" said Fraser, after a minute.

Ray shook himself to get the blood back to his head, get the braincells firing. "Really?" He ran his hand over his face. "You're not—you're not yanking my crank again?"

"I'm afraid not." Fraser stiffened and tried to take a step back, but there was nowhere to go.

Ray moved forward anyway, trapping him against the shelves full of pens and paper and staples. "Good," he said. "That's, uh, that's good." He swallowed hard. His mouth was dry. And Fraser looked as perfect and untouchable as ever, except for the rueful twist to his mouth.

Fraser reached past him. There was a click and the closet went dark.

That was better. Ray raised his hand to find Fraser's chest and patted his way up to the stiff collar of the tunic, Fraser's slightly sweaty neck, his ear and his thick soft hair. Fraser took a shuddering breath, but didn't make a move. He was waiting, testing Ray.

Ray got that. All this time pretending he wasn't interested—no surprise Fraser wanted a sign. Ray leaned in and found Fraser's jaw—all soft skin and hard angle of jawbone and the faintest scratch of stubble beneath Ray's lips. Invisible but there, like Fraser's sex drive, like his longing. Ray touched his tongue to the skin, tasted him, salty and clean, and then tried again and found his mouth this time.

Fraser moaned softly and parted his lips against Ray's, and Ray tightened his hold in Fraser's hair and slid his tongue into the heat of Fraser's mouth. It was crazy. This couldn't be happening. Especially not here of all places. And if it was happening, it couldn't possibly be this good, this hot.

Fraser was starting to shake, and Ray pulled away to murmur reassurance, though he had no idea what to say, but it was like the moment Ray's lips left Fraser's, Fraser's control snapped and he wrapped his arms tight around Ray, crushing him close, and kissed him again, recklessly, wildly, hungrily.

Ray had a moment of sheer instinctive panic, of feeling like Really Honestly This Could Not Be Happening and Especially Not Here. Fraser was big and strong, and Ray was outclassed in a dozen different ways. He nearly shoved at Fraser, pushed him off and broke free. But then his brain caught up with his flight instinct and told it to shut the hell up. He focused his attention on Fraser, on the sweetness and desperation of his kiss, and Ray knew all about that. He wanted that.

He opened up and kissed back, and let the impossible fantasies that'd been haunting him transform into something real and imperfect and wonderful.

Fraser broke away and pressed his face against the side of Ray's head, his breath heavy and hot on Ray's ear. "Sorry," he said. "I didn't mean—"

"Don't," said Ray, and kissed him once, hard. "No apologies."

"I didn't mean to rush you," Fraser told him, stubbornly.

Ray snorted. "Who's rushing? I mean, unless you're thinking of using that lube now."

Fraser tensed in Ray's arms.

Ray cupped the back of his neck and held him close, trying to ignore how they were both getting hard. It wasn't easy. "You know, I've got K-Y at home and that is safe with condoms, not to mention it doesn't stink like something died."

Fraser snorted softly, and then stilled. "Are you sure?"

"Yeah." Ray smiled in the dark. "Turns out I got a thing for trees after all." Fraser cuffed his head gently, and Ray snickered. "Come on, let's get out of here before Frannie has another emergency." He brushed his thumb over Fraser's lips, wanting to kiss him, but his self-control was already hanging by a thread.

There was a knock on the door.

"What do you want?" Ray yelled, hoping whoever it was would think he was hoarse because he was pissed off. There was a click and the light came on. Fraser's lips were red, his eyes bright. To the casual glance, he looked the same as ever, but God help them if Frannie caught sight of him.

"White-out," said a timid voice, and the door opened. It was Jessie Michaels from Processing.

Ray pushed past her. "Knock yourself out." And Fraser followed close behind.


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