Summary: Ray Kowalski's own particular brand of luck apparently wasn't so good anymore.
He was gonna do things differently from now on, by the book.
Ray didn't know if it was good luck or dumb luck or blind luck that gave him Stella, but he did everything in his power to keep her. He had a dozen little tricks that he didn't entirely believe in, but didn't feel safe to stop doing after a while. He saved flip-tops from the cans of soda she drank and put them on his key ring, because he'd heard that each one stood for a kiss. Every time he opened a new pack of cigarettes he counted off the alphabet on each cigarette till he got to "S" and flipped that one over. (He knew it by heart, but he still counted it off each time.)
Stupid stuff (Superstitious. Crazy.) and he knew it even as he was doing it, but stopping seemed to be like tempting fate, sort of. It didn't hurt to do this stuff, and Stella seemed to think it was cute; it showed he was thinking of her, so - no harm, no foul.
He'd picked this stuff up from unreliable sources - the flip-top thing he was pretty sure Jimmy Flaherty had told him about back in the sixth grade, and the cigarette thing he'd learned from Josh Romero in the ninth grade, when Josh was teaching him how to smoke. Josh had taught him more than that, but at the time Ray didn't think of it so much as kissing, really. It was more like practice. That was all. And he and Stella weren't really officially dating or anything yet, so there was no way making out with Josh Romero after school could count as bad luck.
Ray kept that up for years - the luck stuff, not the kissing-guys stuff (though that sort of happened every once in a while, too, when he was a teenager and he and Stella were on the outs). Flip-tops and cigarettes and he figured if he was careful enough, didn't push his luck too much, he'd get to keep his girl. Thing was, the made-up lucky charms were high school stuff, not based on anything but word of mouth, and that wasn't worth anything once life and marriage and fights and fucking careers got in the way.
He couldn't stop though. Couldn't stop thinking that his life was one step away from getting better; if he took those kisses off his key ring, if he stopped turning over that "S" cigarette, then things falling apart would be real, and it would never work itself out.
The last fight he and Stella had - the real last one, where she actually said it, said divorce? (She'd said it before, sure, but she'd never meant it. It had been a threat; a scare tactic, something to let Ray know that this was serious, that they had to try, that fixing this was necessary. She'd never meant it before, he was sure of it.) But this wasn't even their worst fight; they'd had way worse fights than that. (He'd never hit her, never would, Christ, never could, no matter how bad things got. But she threw an ashtray at him once, and it smashed against the wall right over his shoulder. That was months before things ended and the light-switch plate where the ashtray had landed was probably still chipped. Just something else they'd never gotten around to fixing.)
They'd had screaming fights, bad ones, that had the neighbors banging on their ceilings to shut them up. There'd been nights where Ray stormed out and didn't come back, ended up sleeping on his pal Dennis's couch. Those had been the nights where he'd lie there until he couldn't take it anymore, and then come back home at dawn, unshaven and a mess. And even on those nights, when it was that bad, he hadn't tried to make things up with Stella. They were so far gone that she didn't even turn over when he lay down on his side of the bed - fully dressed, and lay there staring at the ceiling, his eyes burning - till the alarm went off.
Ray, standing there in front of Stella now, felt the way he had at fifteen when he'd wanted her so bad and never felt respectable next to her. Never felt like he fit. Never felt like he would fit no matter how hard he tried. He went the other way instead - didn't even try because it was never gonna happen. Jeans and t-shirts and kick-ass boots. Leather jackets and an earring (For a while. In the 80s). Job as a cop, which started out okay with Stella, but then he made detective, and got on the track as an undercover cop and that, to her, just meant he got to dress and act like the punk kid Ray Kowalski had never grown out of being.
By the time they hit their eighth year of marriage, she had apparently decided she didn't really like that Ray Kowalski very much.
They'd had a thousand fights that were worse than this one. This wasn't really anything, this was just Stella sitting there at the table, staring at him unhappily. All he'd done was walk in the door. Stella hadn't been home long - there shouldn't have even been time for a fight to start, but by that point, Ray guessed, it didn't take much. She was there in her smart business suit, heels, and nylons. Still elegant even though it was the end of the day. She sat there sideways, looking at Ray, one leg crossed over the other.
And he stood there, feeling like a panicked teenager again, out of his fucking league. Rumpled and wrinkled, with stupid hair and clothes that belonged on someone a lot younger.
Stella stared at him for a second longer, and swung her foot a little. "Ray-" she said with that tired, done tone in her voice."Ray, listen to me."
"I am. I have been." He was talking too loud, sounded scared, even to his own ears.
"I can't keep doing this. We can't keep doing this. It's too much, we just - " She took a breath and leaned her elbow on the table, and that broke the lawyer front, just a little. Just enough that Ray could see what he thought was hope. Luck. A flip-top, a cigarette, cracks in the sidewalk that could be avoided.
"You're right," he said abruptly, again too loud, but he had to make her hear him. "You're right, I know, we can't, this is -"
She looked up at him. "Over."
Crazy, he'd been going to say. This is crazy. He couldn't move, and the sound in the room faded out for a second.
"We're over, Ray. We just - "
The conversation went on a lot longer than that and Ray's throat hurt from talking by the time he was in the hall with his gym bag at his feet, the door closing in front of him. But it was done before it was started, even, because Stella wasn't going to fold. Stella wasn't going to back down from this one. They were done, done, done. No wish or good-luck charm was going to change that.
Ray picked up his bag, walked down the dim stairway of their apartment building, and went out the back door. He unlocked his car, shoved his bag over onto the passenger seat, and got in carefully, his whole body aching like he was an old man. He pushed the key into the ignition, and then lost any momentum, any energy he'd ever had in his whole life. He leaned his head back against the seat and blinked slowly out at the streetlights, thinking about cigarettes and kisses and stupid, blind luck.
The last thing Ray said to Stella, during that last fight, was, "You'd better mean what you say, because I walk out that door, I'm not coming back."
She had meant what she said.
He wasn't going back.
He got an apartment he didn't like, in a neighborhood he didn't really want to live in. He went back to their - Stella's - place twice to move stuff out, and Stella very carefully wasn't there either time. Packing took so much time, so much energy, more than he had. But he did it - stony-faced and careful and not looking around, not thinking past anything other than the moment. He filled boxes with stuff that was his (and it was hard, so hard, to figure out what that was - what constituted his stuff - after all these years of mixing their lives together). Mostly he didn't care. Mostly he took clothes, bathroom stuff, paperwork and random crap that had built up over the years. Crammed it all in boxes, taped them shut, lugged them down to the car.
When he came back the second time, Stella had packed a few boxes of stuff for him. Stuff she didn't want or didn't need or thought he might want. She left them in the front hall of their - her - apartment, and he didn't even look through them, just lugged them back to the crappy new apartment in his crappy new neighborhood. The boxes sat there for a few weeks, and when he got around to opening them he found that he had gotten the Christmas decorations they never put up anymore, the extra towels that didn't match any of the sets, and the plates from when they first moved in together.
He stared down into the box at the plates (the cheap, thin kind, still wrapped from when they had put them away when they upgraded) for five solid minutes before slowly, thoughtfully, tipping the box over and watching it crash to the floor. He stood there for a moment longer looking at it on the floor before kicking it with the side of his boot, slamming it into the cabinet across the room with a satisfying clatter, shards of the plates flying everywhere.
That afternoon he went out with his charge cards and bought a set of plates with cow print on them. He bought a couch from the second-hand store and paid extra to have it lugged up to his place. He bought a television that he couldn't really afford and, when he was walking by the pet store and the yapping dogs in the window caught his attention, he stood there for a second, staring grimly down at them before walking in.
He came out with a turtle and when he got back to the crap apartment and put the tank on the bar between the living room and the kitchen, he stood back for a second and looked at it.
"Fuck it," he said to himself and the turtle. "Fuck all of it."
He threw his cigarettes away, dyed his hair a new shade of blond, and stuck a four-leaf clover up on the fridge. And later that night, a little bit drunk, he climbed up on a rickety chair and carefully hammered a horseshoe - the right way, points up - over the door.
Ray Kowalski's own particular brand of luck apparently wasn't so good anymore. He was gonna do things differently from now on, by the book. He needed all the help he could get.
Three weekends of drinking alone at home made you an alcoholic, Ray decided. So he hauled himself off the couch, threw on his jacket, and went down to the bar on the corner to get drunk sociably. The way normal people did.
The bar wasn't very crowded - it was early yet, and this place was pretty much a dive. He sat at the bar, over-tipping the bartender for each drink, and pointedly not looking at himself in the mirror behind the bar. He didn't know how many beers he drank, and he didn't really remember making the decision to switch to shots of vodka. But when the bartender put the shot in front of him, he regarded it for a second, then drank it down in one swallow, and gestured for another one.
Later, when he slid off his stool to head to the men's room, he had to blink several times and plot out his route a little before making his way across the bar. The men's room was blessedly quiet and cool, though the brightness of the light in there after the dimness of the bar made his eyes hurt a little.
He was just zipping up when another guy came in. He was a little bit shorter than Ray, with light brown hair and a goatee. He stepped up to the urinal next to Ray, and Ray, fumbling with the buttons on his jeans, glanced up, and accidentally made eye contact. The guy held his look for - well, not long, just a second, really, but still, Ray flushed a little and turned away to go wash his hands. When he looked up into the mirror, the guy had finished and was leaning against the wall next to the urinals, watching Ray.
Ray blinked at him in the reflection. The guy looked a little amused and tilted his head - just barely, just the tiniest bit. Ray blinked again, and he was drunk, sure, but not that drunk, not crazy drunk. This was dumb; he was a cop, he was married -
Wait. He stared at the guy in the mirror for a second longer, and then he turned around. The guy grinned, and said, "I'm just going to go in here." He stepped into one of the stalls and Ray stood there for a second thinking that that was maybe the worst line he'd ever heard in his whole life.
Or maybe the best, because, hell, it worked. Ray stepped into the stall after him and pulled the door shut.
Ray had his head pressed back against the wall of the stall as the guy sucked his cock. The guy had clearly done this before. He was smooth - he got the buttons of Ray's jeans open no problem, and he had Ray's cock out before Ray had the chance to do more than take a deep breath. Now he was sucking on it hard and fast, and Ray shut his eyes tight, dizzy from the booze.
God, the guy was good. He was swallowing Ray down practically all the way. Ray's entire body felt tight, close, really fucking close to coming, really fucking fast. Which he guessed was a good thing in these particular circumstances.
The guy had his hand wrapped around the base of Ray's cock and was jerking him just right at the same time as he gave Ray the hottest blowjob he'd ever, ever had, and - oh god. He managed to get out, "God - gonna -" The guy didn't slow down at all, just tightened his grip around the base of Ray's cock, and pulled off just as Ray started to come. Ray bit down hard on his lip, trying not to moan, as he came all over the guy's hand.
"Jesus," he said, forcing his eyes open and staring down at where the guy was moving his hand slower now, milking the last few drops of come out of Ray. The guy had a tattoo on the inside of his forearm, a circle with some design inside it, and Ray, his head foggy with beer and sex, was mesmerized for a second by the movement of his arm.
The guy looked up at him. "That was hot," he said frankly, his eyes bright.
"Yeah," Ray agreed shakily.
The guy looked at him for a second longer, like he was weighing something, then stood up, leaning in and sliding his tongue into Ray's mouth. The kiss was quick, hot, and Ray was startled for a second - it had been so long, so long since he'd kissed someone his height, his strength - he could feel the muscle behind the kiss, the guy leaning into it.
"Jeez," Ray panted as he broke the kiss. Missing out. He had been missing out, god. Abruptly he fumbled at the guy's jeans, working them open, pulling his dick out. He wrapped his fingers around the guy's cock, and the guy breathed, "Oh, yeah." Ray jerked him swiftly, moving his hand up to get some of the precome that had leaked from the head of the guy's dick, using it to smooth the way. First time in over ten years he'd had his hands on someone else's cock, and god, fuck yeah, he'd been missing out.
This was easy, this was real, and he felt like himself for the first time in forever.
Ray's knees were a little weak when he stepped out of the bathroom, not looking around; he knew how to play it cool. He made his way back to the bar, asked for another shot, and was in the process of swallowing it down when the guy with the goatee sauntered out of the bathroom, shooting Ray a broad grin.
Ray choked, but only a little.
When he got home, it was pretty late. He had to go to work in the morning, but it wasn't the early shift, at least, and fuck it, at least he hadn't had to sneak into the apartment. Didn't have to be quiet, or worry about pissing Stella off by leaving his jacket on the floor or toeing off his boots in the living room. Didn't have to worry about his breath smelling like booze. Didn't have to worry about anything at all.
He headed to the bedroom, tiredly pulling off his clothes. He thought about taking a shower - given the nature of his evening, he probably should. When he closed his eyes, he could still remember the feel of the guy's cock in his hand. He took a deep breath, decided fuck showering, and climbed into bed. "Lucky guy," he muttered into the pillow, and suddenly felt like crying. "Guess I'm a damn lucky guy."
It wasn't a one-shot deal, either. He thought maybe it would be, maybe it was just a matter of him being at the right place at the right time. But a few weeks later, when he went out again (to a gay bar he knew about, and okay, maybe he was stacking the odds a little bit) he got two looks from two different guys. And they weren't the once-over competition-type looks, they were the interested-type looks.
Ray sat at the bar and ordered a beer and drank half of it before he raised his eyes to the mirror, scanning the room behind him. One of the guys - tall, lean, with eyes so blue Ray could see them from here - was looking at him, and when Ray met his eyes in the mirror, the guy blushed - actually blushed- and dropped his eyes.
Huh. Ray still had it.
And when, after a few minutes, he turned around and leaned neatly back against the bar, bottle of beer dangling from his fingers, and made slow and deliberate eye contact with the blue-eyed guy, the guy took a visible breath and came over to him.
"Hey," he said nervously, tilting his head and rubbing the back of his neck nervously. Ray meant to smile at him just a little, but felt his face spreading into a grin, because hey, this guy was hot, and he was nervous because Ray was showing interest in him. But still, he'd got up the guts to come over and talk to Ray. In a straight bar, no less.
They chatted a little - about the game on TV, where the Sox were losing badly, about the beer on tap - but three-quarters of Ray's attention was on the vibe between them. A real strong vibe, not hard to read at all, and it turned Ray on. Just standing here, two guys in a bar, talking real casual about sports, but god, every part of Ray's body was attuned to the situation. This was a pick-up, this was sex being offered, and all Ray had to do was make the right move to nudge it along.
He'd almost forgotten what this could be like, this edge of something exciting, something completely new, something a little dangerous.
The guy - Andy, he told Ray - had relaxed, was leaning on one elbow on the bar. His body tilted a little towards Ray (interested, he was really interested). Ray took a long sip of his beer. This could just be this: a good ego boost, a cool conversation, a little flirting. But god, Ray wanted it to be something more.
When Ray lowered his beer, Andy was watching him shyly through his eyelashes. Ray swallowed. "I need a cigarette. You want to walk out with me, keep me company?"
Andy nodded before Ray even stopped talking, and it was just that easy. Ray shrugged into his coat, touched Andy's shoulder briefly, and headed out, Andy close on his heels.
Ray went out the back way - this place had a lot behind it, dimly lit by only a couple of streetlights. Ray had driven - knowing tonight wasn't a getting-plastered kind of night, it was more of - he hoped - a getting-laid kind of night. Ray walked a few paces away from the door, taking a deep breath of the cool night air, but it didn't clear his head any. He was still half-hard in his jeans, just from the talk, the flirting, the anticipation. He cleared his throat and looked at Andy. "I, uh, don't actually smoke anymore."
Andy grinned a little, and took half a step closer. Ray looked over his shoulder at the door to the bar, then tilted his head towards the back of the parking lot. "I - my car's parked back there. Do you- I mean, if you want-"
Andy nodded several times in a row, and Ray felt a low burn of heat through his body, his cock getting harder still. "Yeah." Andy swallowed. "I, uh. Yeah."
Ray led the way to the back of the lot, and when Andy gave a long, low whistle at the sight of the Datsun 280ZX, he relaxed a little, thinking this was maybe the right choice. "God, nice fucking car." Andy stared openly at the Datsun, sitting there in the unlit back corner of the lot. Ray, for his part, stared openly at Andy.
Andy slid his eyes from the car to Ray and gave a little start at Ray's heated look. "Oh, uh-"
Ray grinned and slid his key into the lock and held the door open for Andy. Andy gave him a eager look, and pushed the seat forward, climbing into the back.
Ray grinned - he had definitely made the right choice. He gave a quick look around the lot - stupid, no kidding this was stupid, but fuck, he wanted it so bad he didn't care - and got in after Andy. Andy seemed more sure of himself in the dimness of the backseat and he pushed up against Ray almost immediately and kissed him. Which was a little startling, but not bad. And Andy wasn't just kissing him, he was making out with him, and maybe this wasn't the way hook-ups usually went (Not that Ray knew from experience, not really, but from the other night, he figured quick hand or blowjobs were the way to go) but Andy was kissing him so hot and wet and intent that Ray couldn't bring himself to mind.
He slid forward on the seat and Andy immediately scooted down, lying on the backseat. It was a little awkward, but when he pulled Ray down on top of him, it didn't matter.
God. Ray pressed against him and groaned against his mouth. Andy made a happy sound - a turned-on sound, a fuck me now sound - and Ray pulled his mouth away, panting, and reached down to open Andy's pants one-handed.
He got Andy's cock out - he wasn't even wearing anything under those jeans - and Andy's eyes fluttered closed as he moaned and arched into Ray's hand. Ray swallowed, looking down at him. Christ, he wanted to suck his cock. It was a stupid, stupid risk, and he knew it but fuck, he wanted to. He really fucking wanted to take that risk.
When he slid down between Andy's legs, one knee on the floor, the other kind of awkwardly bent on the seat, Andy lifted his head, panted down at Ray, "Dude, you don't- I mean- "
Ray wrapped his hand around Andy's cock and looked up at him with what he hoped was heat in his eyes. He jacked him slowly. "Do you not want me to?" He lowered his head, licked a slow circle around the head of Andy's cock, and Andy's head dropped back against the wall of the car with a slight thunk.
"No, go - I mean - " He waved his hand weakly at Ray. "Whatever you -" He gasped as Ray bent and took him fully in his mouth.
Ray hadn't sucked cock since high school, but some things never changed. Andy was hot and thick in his mouth, and the muffled, desperate sounds Andy was making were ratcheting Ray up higher, turning him on like crazy. Ray wanted this, Christ, he wanted this, wanted Andy to want him like this, want him bad. He took a deep breath and reached down to quickly undo his own pants; his cock felt hard enough to pound nails with. Then he wrapped his hand around Andy's cock and sucked it in as far as he could.
"Oh god, oh Christ, yeah, god, yeah." Andy was panting like crazy, and lifting his hips up, fucking Ray's mouth. Jesus Christ, Jesus Christ, Ray was throbbing, could come from just this, swear to fucking god. Like riding a bicycle, he thought dimly, as he stretched his mouth open wider. You didn't forget. He sucked harder, the taste of it thick on his tongue, and Andy's flailing hands found his shoulders, held on.
"God, I - Jesus, I'm going to - " Andy had his head thrown back, his eyes screwed shut. "You gotta - I can't -"
He sounded desperate, close, close, and Ray pulled off, moving his already slick hand up Andy's shaft and jerking him off. Three swift strokes later, Andy shot come all over his own stomach and collapsed backwards, panting up at car windows that were so fogged over you couldn't see through them at all.
"Jesus," Andy moaned, his eyes still shut, and Ray started pulling himself up from the floor. God, he was too old for this backseat stuff. But Jesus, the whole thing was turning him on hard; he was going to come without any help pretty soon, just from watching Andy get off. Andy pried his eyes open, reaching out an unsteady hand to help haul Ray up off the floor, and then he focused his eyes downward to where Ray's cock was jutting hard, out of his opened pants.
"C'mere," Andy murmured, his hand moving from Ray's arm to firmly grip his cock. "God, you're fucking hot. Come here."
Ray gasped and braced himself over Andy there on the back seat. God, he just wanted - anything - he wanted to fucking come. It wasn't going to take much at that point. And Andy was really good with his hands, real talented. Ray thrust his hips forward into Andy's fist as Andy stroked and moaned, "Yeah, yeah," under him, and Christ, Christ- "Andy," he gritted out. "You've - I'm gonna -" He shut his eyes tight and came all over Andy's hand and stomach in quick spurts that seemed to go on forever.
He fell forward finally - he couldn't help it - and Andy was kissing him. Kissing the hell out of him, muttering, "God, hot, that was so fucking hot."
Ray pulled his head up and tried to focus his eyes. "Yeah?"
"Yeah." Andy looked amused.
Ray looked down for a second into his blue eyes, crinkled at the corners, and cracked a grin. "You're a mess, you know."
Andy glanced down the length of their bodies. "Uh, you're not doing much better."
Ray looked down too and half-groaned, half-laughed, and Andy hooked his arm around Ray's head, pulling him close for another kiss.
Later, coming home to his dark, empty apartment, slinging his coat onto the couch and toeing his boots off with a sigh, Ray looked down at himself - god yeah, a mess, his shirt and pants stained with come. Too old for this, sure, but who the fuck cared? He walked his aching body to the counter between the living room and kitchen, dumped his wallet and keys, then flipped on the switch that lit the overhead there. He stood there for a second, feeling sore, yeah, but in a good way - like when he'd been boxing or working on the car all day. The type of physical activity that drained you but gave you something too, and Christ, he hadn't felt like this in a long, long time.
It was funny - this whole night, after he got to the bar, he hadn't thought about Stella once. It felt good. Sure, he still loved her; there wasn't an off switch for that and he wasn't sure, even now, that he would have wished for one. But Christ, he felt like he'd been worrying, been not living up to standards, been exhausted by loving her since he was twelve fucking years old. This wasn't that, this wasn't anywhere near the drain that that had been.
Ray, in the dark of his living room, leaned forward against the breakfast bar, too tired and sore to even pull himself onto the stool. He gazed into the kitchen, at the four-leaf clover he had stuck there on the fridge - defiantly - with a magnet. Have at me, fate. Let it roll. The everyday sort of luck that everyone knew about seemed to be working, better than the luck he'd thought he was making for himself had. Tonight proved it. Right now, Ray Kowalski was a lucky guy. Ray Kowalski was a guy who got lucky. Ray Kowalski could walk into a bar and walk out with someone right there next to him.
Maybe it wasn't his golden lawyer girl, but it was someone who wanted him, wanted him bad enough to go into a dark car in a dark lot and get one hell of a blowjob from Ray, if he did say so himself. Who wanted him so bad he didn't mind Ray coming all over him, liked it as a matter of fact, and even slipped Ray his goddamn phone number afterwards. (And god, if Andy ever found out the guy blowing him had been a cop and could now trace him, he'd probably fucking die. Not too careful, that guy.)
Ray yawned and blinked sleepily at the lucky clover stuck on his fucking refrigerator like it held the secrets to the universe.
He tugged off his come-spattered t-shirt as he wandered into the bedroom, shoved his jeans down his hips, and fell into bed. He sprawled across it, and for the first time, the bed didn't feel too big, didn't feel empty or like it was missing something. It was just him, it was just his, and he was okay with that. He fell asleep right away and didn't even dream.
A couple of years later, dizzy and grumpy from all the many, many times - really a very fucking lot of times - he had risked his life (His very own life. Not borrowed from any-fucking-one else, no matter who he was standing in for) - after all of that, where he seemed to be constantly and consistently thanking God for the fact that he was still breathing - he had a new way of looking at life. The Mountie had turned his whole concept of what was and was not lucky completely upside down.
For example: unlucky was stuff like Fraser climbing out the window of a moving vehicle - the vehicle Ray himself was currently driving - in pursuit of a purse snatcher. Unlucky was Fraser ignoring Ray hollering at him to not fucking do that. Unlucky was Ray slamming the steering wheel several times with his hand, and driving after him, to an alley that was too narrow for the car. An alley where Ray, himself, had to jump out of the damn car like he was as fucking crazy as Fraser and race after a guy with a purse that probably held no more than three dimes and a piece of gum.
Unlucky was Ray skidding to a stop behind Fraser just as Fraser caught the guy by his arm and swung him neatly and solidly against the wall while Ray pulled his gun out just as the perp pulled out his own.
And then there was Fraser, not missing a beat, saying brightly, "Ah, yes, thank you. You do know that carrying a concealed weapon in the state of Illinois is illegal without proper paperwork. Both Detective Vecchio and myself appreciate you providing us with your weapon up front."
Which pretty much confused both the guy and Ray, because Fraser, what the fuck?
And after all of that it said something that for Ray, lucky was now defined as the perp being so confused he let Fraser take his gun.
Of course, not so lucky was the fact that while this worked, it startled Ray so much that he was just staring at Fraser in a sort of disgruntled awe, and didn't notice that the guy had pulled a knife out from under his coat until he'd sliced at Ray's chest and taken off running.
But see, the real problem was that Ray was left on his knees in a dirty alley with his chest fucking bleeding and his favorite Ramones t-shirt probably destroyed beyond repair, while counting himself fucking lucky.
Because the guy hadn't pulled the trigger. And the cut wasn't that deep. And he thought maybe he could sew the t-shirt, make it look like he did it on purpose.
Fraser dragged the guy back - because he caught him, of course - and Ray, his arm curled protectively over his bleeding chest wound, thank you very much, tossed him the handcuffs. Once Fraser had the guy on the ground - Ray watched, slumped there on his knees - Ray handed him his cell phone. "Call it in," he said hoarsely, because man, was he tired all of a sudden. Fucking exhausted of chasing after luck, when everything in his whole life was backwards. Who counted a knife wound as lucky?
This wasn't luck. This wasn't any sort of luck at all, good or bad. This was Ray Kowalski making decisions, year after year, and calling it luck. From way back in the day of making out with Josh Romero in a vacant lot, he'd made one decision after another and it seemed like every one of them had led relentlessly to him bleeding in an alley with a Mountie at his side.
Fraser, the multitasker, called it in, dropping down on his knees in this scummy alley, messing up his uniform with dirt and grunge and blood as he ripped Ray's t-shirt further open (and there went any hope of the purposely-distressed look) to see the wound.
"It's not that bad," Ray said, and Christ, he sounded fucked up even to his own ears, tired and not even caring about the slice down his chest. The thing was, it wasn't bad, he's had much worse. It was bleeding, sure, but it was probably not that deep and he still felt stupidly lucky, and he did not get that. How was this lucky? How crazy was he in the head?
"Ray." Fraser sounded pained, too. He fumbled around, but had nothing to staunch the blood with. It'd take ten minutes to get that damn uniform coat out from under all the straps containing it before it'd do any good.
Ray waved his hand at Fraser, so fucking tired of thinking through every damn thing that he couldn't even hold his head up. He slumped forward, but Fraser had his arm around him quick, so quick. And then his head was against the roughness of Fraser's shoulder. He smelled leather and wool and Fraser and he shut his eyes and leaned there, thinking about four-leaf clovers and cigarettes.
Later on, after the hospital visit where Ray was cleaned up, sewn up, and given some drugs that made him feel loopy and the pain in his chest seem like it was a thousand miles away, he was sent home. He slumped in the passenger seat of his car, because Fraser insisted on driving and Ray, too tired to fight, just handed him the keys.
They crawled home at strictly the speed limit, and Ray was thinking, thinking, thinking. All these years -- flip-tops and cracks in the pavement and horseshoes, all these years of bad and dumb and stupid-ass luck, where did it get him that he wouldn't have gotten already, all on his own?
It got him here, in a car where he'd had tons of careless sex - too much - in the back seat. Here, next to this crazy guy in red, who was shooting him glances out of the corner of his eye as he navigated them home. This guy who thanked criminals as he relieved them of their guns, this guy who jumped out of cars and windows, off roofs, probably, if he ever got the chance. And somehow he got Ray to follow.
The crazy must be catching
Ray took this bus, he walked down this street, he turned this corner -
"We're here, Ray," Fraser said, and his voice sounded concerned.
Ray blinked and looked at him. "Yeah, okay." He let Fraser help him out of the car (even though he was okay, he was fine, this was that sort of good sore, weirdly), and they made their way up the stairs. Fraser was silent, worried, his arm sort of hovering near Ray's shoulder, like he was maybe not sure if he would have to catch him or something.
When they got in the apartment, Fraser tried to guide Ray to sit down on the couch, but he had to do things first, dammit. He wandered over to the fridge, pulled down that four-leaf clover, tossed it in the garbage pail. He snagged a kitchen chair and tugged it over to the door and Fraser was behind him, going, "Ray - Ray - Ray, for god's sakes, Ray, what are you doing?"
"Nothing, Fraser, just -" He tried to climb on the chair, but Fraser was trying to stop him, so finally Ray just used that broad red arm getting in his way as leverage and heaved himself up on the chair. Which hurt his chest, ow, but more importantly, got him high enough that he could get hold of the horseshoe, and pry it out of the cheap plaster of the wall.
Fraser had his hand hooked in the waist of Ray's jeans, the other hand in front of his legs, like Ray was a kid on the jungle gym for the first time. He looked deeply confused. "Ray, come down, you're going to get hurt - well. I mean. Hurt more." And Fraser blushed, actually blushed, which was pretty funny, because he felt bad for Ray getting hurt, looked like. Felt like it was his fault, maybe. Which it wasn't. Ray made his own decisions, and if things got fucked up, well, that was his own dumb fault.
And it didn't have a damn thing to do with luck.
Ray climbed down off the kitchen chair and landed in Fraser's arms and made a decision. He pushed forward against Fraser and said his name and kissed him right there on the mouth in the doorway, just as he let the horseshoe fall to the floor with a loud clatter.
"Ray." Fraser pulled back. Ray blinked at him, but Fraser just looked confused again, not scared or pissed or anything like that. "Ray, what -"
Ray gave him a grin, and slouched against him, and kissed him again. "Fraser," he said, when he pulled back, and Fraser's eyes were wide and his cheeks were pink. "Let me tell you a little story about luck."
"Luck, Ray?" Fraser sounded confused, but he was looking at Ray's lips as he said it.
Ray grinned some more and leaned in close again. "Luck, Fraser," he said softly against Fraser's ear.
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