Less Than You Think

by brooklinegirl




Summary: Summary: Gardino was a goof. Everyone knew that. Pairing: Kowalski/Gardino (seriously. Shut up.)

DEEP and MEANINGFUL thanks to estrella30 for letting me trick her into offering to beta this for me! I owe you big time. This is for my most wonderful stalkee, Dira, on the occasion of her birthday. I adore you madly, ms. Dira, and stalk you with wild abandon, and present you and our tiny little fandom (that would be, uh. You. And me) with Kowalski/Gardino boykissing (and more-than-just-kissing).

Gardino was a goof. Everyone knew that.

Gardino could barely dress himself - or, if he could, then he shouldn't, because man, what an eyesore. Gardino, Ray reflected, watching him trip over nothing and then glare at the sidewalk, had a lack of social skills that was almost alarming. It was like he tried too hard. He wanted to be buddies with everyone, be the cool guy, be the tough guy, but he tried too fucking hard and ended up being just a total goof.

Also, Gardino had even worse glasses than Ray himself did.

They worked in different precincts, but he'd known Gardino for a couple of years now, and sure, he was a goof, but he was a good cop. He jogged over to Ray after the last panel after a long-ass day of "sensitivity" training - when Ray considers himself to be pretty damn fucking sensitive already, though mostly it's sensitivity about his time being wasted with training like this - and suggested they grab a beer, grinning at Ray like he was one hundred percent sure Ray wouldn’t say no.

Ray hesitated. "I should get home…"

"C'mon." Gardino bumped him with his shoulder, turned to start walking slowly backwards in front of him. "One beer. Your treat." He spread his hands and grinned, his paisley purple tie flipping back over his shoulder in the wind, leaving the short end dangling absurdly in front of his plaid shirt.

Ray shook his head, but followed in the direction Gardino led. "One beer, Gardino, and I'm not buying your nasty-ass Pabst Blue Ribbon. You must have a buck you can spare."

"Aw, Kowalski, you just don't have a taste for the good stuff." Gardino slung an arm around Ray's shoulder and pulled him down the street, explaining to him the wonders of two-bucks-a-pitcher beer.


"So listen," Ray said seriously, leaning across the scarred wooden table in the booth and gesturing at Gardino with his cigarette. "I got this."

Gardino, sprawled on the bench on the other side of the table, tilted his head back, taking a drag off his own cigarette. "Yeah, right, Kowalski."

"I'm telling you," Ray persisted, taking a swallow of his beer.

"Oh, yeah?" Gardino leaned in over the table towards Ray. "Go ahead."

"All right," said Ray, taking a deep breath. "Okay. Laura, Sylvia, Julie. Jamie, Kate, Sandy." He counted it out on his fingers as he went along, and Gardino, drinking his beer, bobbed his head along with the count. "Ruthie."

"Uh-huh." Gardino grinned at him. "Go on…"

Ray blinked slowly and thought for a second. "Ruthie…"

Gardino shook his head. "You don't got it."

"I got it! I got it," Ray said stubbornly. "Just gimme - ah! Ruthie, Barb, and - fuck."

"No," said Gardino, chuckling. "Not fuck. Carla."

"Carla," Ray exhaled. That was it. Carla. Dammit. He looked quizzically at Gardino. "How the hell do you get so many dates?"

Gardino took a long drag off his cigarette and looked away. "I get a lot of first dates." He turned back to Ray, and the serious look between them held for a moment, then they both dissolved into laughter. The wood felt cool against Ray's forehead as he lay his head on the table, and he knew it couldn't possibly be nearly as funny as it seemed, but it was. His stomach hurt from laughing.

The bar Gardino had dragged him to wasn't quite a dive, but it was close. Still, it was pretty empty, it being a Tuesday, and Ray had bought the first round, and then let Gardino buy them another. Halfway through the second round, Ray went to the phone out front to call Stella. But her voice when she answered was distracted, her tone short, and when he opened his mouth, what he said wasn't, "I'll be home soon," but, instead, "I'll be home late."

She sounded relieved instead of disappointed - she'd been working like crazy lately, always buried in work even when she was home - and told him to have fun, and when he went back to Gardie, he ordered a third round even though they weren’t yet done with their second. Gardino was game, and drained his glass quickly, swiping his hand over the back of his mouth and giving Ray a grin, and Ray figured they were in for a night of it.

Ray took a deep breath and lifted his head off the table, trying to get his laughter under control, wiping his eyes. Gardino was a good guy. Gardino didn't even have someone at home waiting for him, no phone calls to make, since that last one - Carla - had dumped him a couple of weeks ago. Ray took a fortifying gulp of his beer and reflected that, technically speaking, Ray himself really didn't have someone waiting for him to come home either. He had someone who was kinda relieved that he was out.

He looked at Gardino, with his mismatched shirt and tie and the godawful glasses that he'd shoved on his face when he'd pulled out his black book to show Ray and then forgotten to take off, and wondered, really, which of them was worse off.

At least Gardie knew where he stood.

It was chilly out when the two of them stumbled outside - fall was really here, and Ray could see his breath in the air - but the cold felt good on his face. It was late, real late, probably later than Stella had expected him to be. And he was a lot drunker than he had expected to be.

He stumbled a little against Gardino, and Gardino, laughing, steadied him. "I think you're drunk, Officer Kowalski."

Ray blinked slowly and grinned. "I think you might be right about that, Officer Gardino."

"C'mon." Gardino put a hand on Ray's shoulder, pulling him gently down the empty sidewalk, the light and sound of the bar quickly receding behind them. "You're not driving home," he said.

"No," Ray agreed. "That would not be wise."

This, too, was one of the funniest things ever, and Gardino stumbled into him, none too sober himself, as they laughed like lunatics in the cold darkness. "No," Gardino wheezed, propping himself up against a wall as he wiped the tears of laughter from his eyes. "Not wise. You wanna crash on my couch?"

Ray nodded, snickering and washing up against Gardino, who grabbed his arms and blew hot laughter into his face. "Yeah." Ray grinned. "I could do that." Gardino was still hanging onto his arms, and it felt warm where he was touching Ray - his arms, his breath on his face, and Ray realized his hands were sort of anchored on Gardino's hips.

"Yeah," and Gardino's laughter faded, though he was still smiling at Ray. Ray liked that easy smile, liked that the smile reached all the way to Gardino's eyes, liked that Gardino wanted to spend time with him tonight, even before they were both drunk off their asses. He tilted his head, watching as Gardino licked his lip real quick and lost the smile entirely, and took a deep breath, looking at Ray. "Uh. Ray."

Ray nodded. Right. Not here. This was Gardino's area, his precinct, his neighborhood. Gardino pushed him gently back. "Yeah," Ray said, only he was cold again, the wind cutting through his jacket. He hadn't been cold up against the wall with Gardino. He shook his head, and said, "Gardino," and now Gardino's face was pretty serious, and his eyes darted to the side.

"C'mon," he said roughly, tugging on Ray's shoulder. "C'mere," and Ray let himself be led around the corner, which turned out to be an alley, which turned out to be real quiet and real dark. Ray sprawled up against Gardino and man, his arms were real warm around Ray. He grinned at Gardino and said, "Hey," and Gardino shut his eyes for a quick second, then smiled and said, "Hey, there," back. So Ray leaned in and kissed him till he couldn't breathe any more. He pulled away and asked, belatedly, "You do this?"

Gardino took a deep breath, and his eyes looked huge. "Yeah. I do this."

"But all those girls…"

"I do this too," and then Gardino was kissing him again, and Ray's hands were under Gardino's coat (his ridiculous, dorky, thick black-and-white checked coat that made him look like a demented woodcutter), and, oh Christ, Gardino's hands were in his hair. Ray couldn't stop hitching his hips up against Gardino, and every time he did, Gardino made this sound in his throat and kissed him harder.

Because underneath his woodcutter coat, Gardino was hard, which Ray couldn't decide was a good or a bad thing, he himself being so fucking hard he was feeling kind of lightheaded as he pressed Gardino up against the alley wall. He had a moment where it seemed equally urgent and necessary to get the hell home to Stella, and to put his hand on Gardino's dick. Then Gardino twisted his hand tight in Ray's hair and Ray groaned and pushed his hand between Gardino's legs.

"Fuck." Gardino's head hit the wall behind him and he moaned as Ray rubbed up and down with the heel of his hand against the hard length in Gardino's jeans. "Kowalski," Gardino said vaguely, and Ray dropped to his knees in the filthy alley and flicked open the button on Gardino's pants. He heard Gardino gasp heavily from somewhere above him. "Kowalski, Christ."

But Ray was drunk and on his knees and his dick was thrumming between his legs, and he wanted to do this, more than he'd wanted to do anything lately. So he just looked up at Gardino as he slid his zipper down, and Gardino looked down at him and put a shaky hand on his face, sort of petting the corner of his mouth with his thumb. And Ray leaned in and pulled Gardino's cock out of his boxers and into his mouth.

He thought he maybe heard Gardino's head hit the wall again.

It felt good, it felt so fucking good, Gardino's cock in his mouth, and Gardino's hands were tight on his shoulders as he moaned quietly up above Ray and moved his hips slowly, pumping gently into Ray's mouth. It was good, it was good, and Ray had one hand wrapped around the base of Gardino's cock, and with his free hand he fumbled desperately to get his jeans open.

He heard Gardino above him whispering desperately, "Christ - Kowalski, god, you -" as Ray moved his hand and his mouth to the same rhythm. He was so fucking hard, and this was so fucking good, and Gardino's cock in his mouth was so - fucking - perfect. He felt Gardino's hand move, his thumb stroking over the exact same spot on the corner of his mouth as before, and let Gardino's cock slip from his mouth as he lost it, jacking himself desperately and spilling over his hand onto the ground. He was still gasping, reeling, as he twisted his hand on Gardino, and heard Gardino moan loud and long just as he came, spattering Ray's hand and shirt.

Then Gardino was hoisting Ray to his feet, and they were both scrambling to tuck themselves away, clean themselves up, shooting quick, worried glances to the thankfully-deserted mouth of the alley. "Jesus, that was dumb," Ray breathed, checking to make sure his jeans were zipped.

"So fucking dumb." Gardino nodded several times, and looked at Ray. "Really dumb," he said again, and he leaned closer, and it was still cold and they were still drunk, and Ray let Gardino kiss him for a long time before they pulled away, and shivered.

"C'mon," said Gardino, sticking his hands in his pockets and tilting his head towards the street. "My place." He took a step and stumbled a little, and grinned. "It's not far."

And Ray nodded, and fell into step beside him. "I gotta call Stella," he said.

Gardino lit a cigarette. "She's gonna be pissed."

"Yeah," Ray sighed.

"Buy her flowers tomorrow," Gardino suggested. "Chicks love that."

Ray slanted a look at him. "That your method of getting them to forgive you?"


"That usually work for you?"

Gardino sadly took a drag of his cigarette. "Nope."

"Well." Ray patted his pockets for his own cigarettes. "I'll keep that in mind."

Gardino grinned and lit his cigarette for him with an unsteady hand, and Ray brought Stella roses in the morning.


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