Summary: I can't help but think that maybe cold turkey is the way to go when it comes to separating yourself from Benton Fraser.
Written for Hth for the DS Seekrit Santa Challenge 2004. Many thanks to ms. aerye for organizing the challenge. Beta thanks to go ms. Lynn monster, who was apparently my beta bitch this holiday season.
I look up when I hear Kowalski come in to the squad room - he's stomping around in those beat-up black motorcycle boots, his hair spiked high and his hands jammed in his pockets, his face looking like the wrath of God. He dropped Fraser off at the airport this morning, and that pretty much spells Bad Mood for the next couple of days.
I watch him as he stalks across the bullpen, his expression dark. I know a little bit about adjusting to being alone. Not that I care, not that I know where he even stands with Fraser, now or then, but - just, alone is alone, and I get that.
Fraser and Kowalski didnít last up north. Can't blame 'em for trying, but it didnít take long for Kowalski to be back full-time at the 27th, just a little while longer than it took me to admit that neither Florida or Stella were working out for me. Still, you had to give Kowalski credit - five months up in the frozen north is about four months and twenty-five days longer than I could've taken it. Now Kowalski only sees Fraser when Fraser comes here for long weekends every once in a while - and he does come back, more than I would've thought. Guess he misses Chicago more than he'd ever be willing to admit. I donít know if Kowalski misses the north or not, but he never goes back up there. Don't ask me why.
I have a few guesses, but I keep those to myself.
Kowalski yanks his desk chair back and slams himself into it. It's funny. Kowalski's been back for a while now, and maybe it's because of Fraser's visits, but he's still catching flack about what, exactly, went on up north. Whatever had happened between me and Stella was old news - besides, it wasn't like she was coming back for visits. The guys'd quit harping on it after the first couple weeks, except for Dewey, but he's an asshole and smells like old socks besides, so you really can't take anything he says too serious.
You'd think Canada would have calmed Kowalski down or beaten him down, one or the other, but he came back edgier and angrier and with a shorter fuse than ever. A few months up north and he was different. Colder, you know? And skinny. Skinnier even than he used to be. And he wears his glasses all the time now, like he's determined to see things clear. He's quicker to get angry too - and it's not like he was Mr. Calm and Cool before. There's just - it's like he's looking for trouble, ready for it ahead of time, before it finds him.
I'm trying to work here, get some calls made, get my desk cleared, but I keep getting distracted by Kowalski. There's something about him when he's angry like this - he's almost - well, sparking, you know, like you could light a match on him. The way he moves, so quick and precise, and how his body is all angles and edges - itís not just that he's skinny, it's like he's honed down or something, sharper, in the way that he moves, in the way that he looks at you. I can't stop watching him.
I don't know what went on up there, and I have no fucking clue what these weekend visits must be like - I don't even know what they'd have to talk about at this point. Who's more fucked up? Who's more alone? Who's more likely to put a gun in their mouth some cold winter night? Nothing good, anyway, but the way Kowalski's all fucked up afterwards, I can't help but think that maybe cold turkey is the way to go when it comes to separating yourself from Benton Fraser.
I give them credit for trying to make a go of it, though. They had to try, just like I did down in Florida with Stella, about as far away from the two of them as I could get. Me and Stella, we gave it a good shot, I think, but it was real clear - almost from the very start - that having the same taste in clothes, and wine, and nice restaurants, and making a good impression - well, all that didn't mean true love forever. It didnít even mean true love for six months. More like infatuation. More like, I wish this could be it. We both wanted that - it would have been real easy, you know? Kinda neat and tidy. Kowalski and my ex-partner, all scruffy and roughing it up in the Northwest Territories. And me and Kowalski's ex-wife warm and tanned down on the beach. But it didn't turn out real tidy like that.
It's tough to be back. Getting married right away like that, well, I thought it would make things easier. It didn't. Not on me, and not on Stella, either. You can't tell me Stella didn't still have feelings for Kowalski. Not that she wanted to be with him, but she sure as hell didn't want him to be with anyone else. Kind of hurt her feelings a little bit, maybe. So we just ignored it, wouldn't think about what was going on up in the Arctic between the two of them, and pretended life was good.
But me, well. I had my own set of issues to deal with. Vegas.
Had some major motherfucking rough patches, even after running away to a whole warm world with Stella, where the sun and the sand were nothing like the sun and the sand of Vegas. Nothing like it at all, I thought, but it was still close enough. Enough to fuck with my head, enough to make Stella think twice about the guy she'd married, and - yeah. We weren't either of us cut out for the long haul there. Felt bad for using her like that - sort of my rehabilitation back to society, and she got the brunt of it. Still, she was using me right back - another thing we had in common that had nothing to do with true love.
So. Married. Florida. Divorced. Back to Chicago. Welsh picked me up again at the 2-7. I'm a lucky guy, or he's a good boss, or maybe some combination there, but man, the idea of starting at a new station I didnít know, with people who didnít know me - that wasn't my idea of a good time, and I was happy to be back. Three months of sun-and-sand-and-Stella - the divorce proceedings notwithstanding - and I was ready to be normal again. Normal Vecchio, working overtime in the district I knew, with a lot of the same guys, and definitely the same boss.
I'm supposed to be working right now, actually, got a lot of calls to make, files to finish up, but mostly I'm still keeping half an eye on Kowalski. He's not working either, just sitting there at his desk, and he finally shoves himself to his feet with a grunt, and heads towards the break room.
"What's the matter, Ray," Dewey says with a grin as Kowalski stomps by him. "Prince Fraser ride off in to the sunset without you?" God, Dewey is such a motherfucking asshole.
Ray doesn't even hesitate - the guy never stops to think if he can help it - just whips around and hauls Dewey out of his seat and has him against the wall up in a second, and if you think Dewey up on his toes and struggling to breathe 'cause Kowalski's got a stranglehold on his shirt isn't funny, well, you just donít know humor when you see it. Dewey's slapping ineffectually at Kowalski's arms, and Kowalski's just staring at him like he wants to take him apart, piece by piece, right there. For a second I'm just sitting there watching him, because Kowalski, mad like that - Christ, it's hot, is what it is. Watching Kowalski like this just makes me want to do things to him that I just shouldn't even be thinking about.
I snap out of it when I figure we have about a minute before Welsh shows up. I head over and lean against the wall next to Dewey so I can see Kowalski's face. "You gonna kill him, Kowalski?" I ask, crossing my arms over my chest. "I'm just curious, 'cause that's gonna mean a whole lot of paperwork, and I want to make sure I got my pencils all sharpened."
Kowalski keeps looking at Dewey for a second, then shifts his look to me. "This loser isn't really worth all filling out forms in triplicate." he says tightly.
"Nope," I agree.
Kowalski lets Dewey fall to the floor with a thump and walks away, ignoring Dewey's squeaks of protest and how he's gonna tell on Kowalski to Welsh. 'Cause yeah, you know, what Welsh likes best is to have his detectives run sniveling to him with whiny complaints. That goes over real well.
Kowalski heads to the door, and stands there for a second, looking down, his hands still clenched into fists, before he shakes his head, and heads out to the break room.
I drift along behind him. I don't know what I'm gonna say, I just know this isn't about Dewey at all. But I know better than to ask about Fraser. You don't bring that up with Kowalski. It's a good way to get your face punched in. I know that no matter how many weekend visits Fraser makes, the two of them are done. Whether or not they're willing to admit it yet.
It's tough. And it's weird. Because I get that. Kowalski, well, he's fucked up, and I'm fucked up, and hell, I know it doesn't make us the same - doesn't work that way, it's not that neat - but we're neither of us pretending anymore. Not that we know how to fix things. Not for real. Not like Stella and I both pretended we did.
She and I knew we were faking it, at least. Kowalski and Fraser? I think they both honestly believed that it was the real thing.
Kowalski's pouring coffee, focusing on it like it's the most important thing in the world to fill the cup just so, to get just enough sugar into it, like if he can focus on that beyond all else, the rest of it will just vanish and the caffeine will be more than enough.
I take the pot out from under his hand as he's sliding it back into place, and his skin feels cold against mine. He's standing next to me, stiff and awkward.
"Dewey's an asshole," I offer, to break the silence.
He snorts softly, not looking at me. "That's for sure."
We stand there, not looking at each other, sipping our coffee. I clear my throat, and he jumps. "So, you got plans tonight?" I ask awkwardly.
He takes a long swig of coffee, swallows, then tilts his head a little, looking at me out of the corner of his eye. He shrugs warily.
I push it. "You wanna maybe do something?"
He takes another swallow of coffee, still watching me. "With you?" he asks carefully.
I shrug. "Yeah, you know, pizza, a few beers..."
His eyes go dark and angry, like he can see a pity offer from a mile away and doesn't need any of that crap. He's already turning away, shaking his head no, when I add in a rush, racing to speak before he shuts me down, "...me?"
He just stops - like, freezes there for a second, and I'm sweating here - it's crazy nuts, I know it, but fuck it, so are the both of us. I'm praying for him to just get it, to not make me spell it out.
He turns slowly, his eyes surprised. He just looks at me for a long moment, like he's gauging something. It's hard to hold his gaze, but I've had a lot of practice staring down tough guys. I keep my eyes steady on him and lift my chin a little. I don't know what he sees in my face, but the tension in his shoulders eases a little. He leans his hip against the counter. "Okay," he says real slow.
I nod a couple of times, and try to swallow my coffee. "Yeah," I say a little thickly. "I thought so."
You hear a lot, working at a precinct. Cops, I think, gossip more than a ladies' sewing circle. Before - when Kowalski was up north - there was a lot of wink-wink, nudge-nudge going on about Kowalski and his, you know, partner being all alone together up in Canada and dirty talk about how they'd keep each other warm, har-har. There was nothing these guys liked better than a rumor, and Fraser, you know, man, he didnít help - there was enough to tease about, what with his, you know, ways.
And echoes of those rumors are still flying around here right now, because Kowalski's stomping around - again - like someone stole his lunch money. Yeah, Fraser's been back for another one of his visits, but Fraser's plane left this afternoon. I'm pretty sure Kowalski didn't even get to drop him off this time.
It's almost like that whole time before Kowalski came back from Canada, when I had to put up with stories and speculations and jokes about him and the Mountie, and how everyone shoulda known Kowalski swung that way, that maybe there's a reason why Stella left him, and that reason had to do with Kowalski probably enjoying giving back-alley blowjobs, not to put too fine a point on it.
But, hello, even if Kowalski did swing that way - which, the way things turned out, looked to be pretty probable by then - then their implication was that he swung that way with Fraser, and one thing I'm sure of is that Fraser is not the type of guy to get off on back-alley blowjobs. Fraser is the type of guy you take home and take to bed, and make it real - not a quick groping tangle in a public place. No way.
Me? I'm pretty okay with back-alley blowjobs.
Which is maybe why Kowalski and I get along. Seems like I'm okay with whatever it is that Kowalski wants. I don't know what he's looking for, and I try not to care, because whatever it is, we both get off on it. He's funny - he usually starts off pushing me around, or being annoying enough that I push him around - like it's okay to kiss so long as we start off fighting.
It's funny that, for all the talking the guys at work do, they never notice that the way me and Kowalski go at each other, it's like pulling pigtails on the playground. It's easier for them to see it as hostility and let that be enough - and hey, it's not like me and him are real big on what you might call socializing. We talk, some, and fight, some, but we never hang out or go for beers, or anything like that - we just have this understanding, I guess you'd call it, and like I said: it works for us.
And it's not like we have to make plans, really, and it's not like he expects me, probably, but he's pretty much always there whenever I show up at his apartment, which is pretty much always right after Fraser leaves him - again. Tonight he answers the door on the first knock, and he's in this worn gray t-shirt that looks like it's been washed eight million times, with jeans and bare feet. His hair's a mess, and his glasses are crooked on his face, and he should look like a kid or something. I shove my hands further into my trench coat pockets.
"Vecchio," he says, like it's a surprise, which we both know it's not. And I wonder again how it feels for him to call me by the name he trained himself to answer to.
"Hey," I say. I take the beer out of his hand as I swing the door closed behind me and push past him. He says, "Hey!" but not like he means it. He's tired today. I donít know - maybe it's just him not getting much sleep when Fraser visits. He glares at me as I drink the rest of his beer in a long swallow, and he's still standing by the door. His hands are in fists at his sides, like now that I took his beer, he doesnít know what to do with them.
"Listen," I say quietly, and he looks up, startled, 'cause this isn't how it works between us.
"No," he says real quick. "Just - " He looks kinda desperate for a second, and then he takes his glasses off, tosses them to the table by the door. He leans back against the door and his eyes get all dark and okay, so this is what we're doing. "Come here," he says, and I thought we were fighting, but that's not it. He's still standing in the doorway, and his jeans are kinda loose around his hips - he's still so skinny.
There's just - like always, there's this moment where we're stuck, like we don't even know each other, can't find anything to say. But then I put my hands on his hips, the denim bunched up under my hands, and he makes a small sound in his throat and lets me push him back against the door. He's breathing heavy, his cock's hard; this is what we're here for. This is easy. When I kiss him, he leans forward into it, and I shove him back against the door again, pin him there with my hands and my hips. He growls, which should sound silly, but it makes me hard so quick I'm dizzy with it. His hands are yanking at my shoulders, shoving my coat off. He mouths my neck like he's tasting me, and maybe that's something he picked up from the Mountie, but I'm not fool enough to comment about that.
I've got the heel of my hand pressed against the front of his jeans and he's rocking against me, tilting his head back against the door. I'm humping up against his leg and groaning in his ear, but he's not making a sound, and when I look at him, he's got his lips pressed together tight, and his eyes are closed. He's sucking in air through his nose, but he won't make a sound, like that would be giving away something he doesn't have.
I slide clumsily to my knees, and I get his jeans open and his cock into my mouth in the space of a breath, and still all I hear is him breathing desperately. I've got my mouth full of him, and it shouldn't be this good, it shouldn't. Doing this with him, it's angry and it's sad, is what it is, but I've got his cock in my mouth, and he's leaking like he's been hard forever, and I can't get enough of the taste. His hands are holding on tight to my shoulders, and he's jerking his hips forward unevenly, like he doesn't mean to be doing it, like he can't help himself.
I've got one hand on his hip and I keep stroking my thumb over the soft skin there. I can't stop doing it, and it's stupid, it's fucking stupid, it's tender, and what we're doing here is the farthest thing from it. I'm frantically, awkwardly trying to get my own pants open with my other hand, because he's panting now, his mouth is open, I can hear him panting, and it's not much, it's not anything really, but when I close my hand around myself, it feels so good I almost choke on his cock. I'm hard and hot and wet and I stroke myself against the rhythm of my mouth on him, messy and rough, 'cause that's what we're good at.
Kowalski's opening and closing his hands on my shoulders, and he's fucking my mouth roughly, and god, I want him to make a sound, just one sound. I want to keep the taste of him in my mouth, want to take him to bed and fuck him, fuck him hard while he drives himself back against me, fuck him till he comes all over the sheets and then keep fucking him till he's limp and sweaty and just gone there under me. I want to give him back-alley blowjobs like he'd get from no one else, I want to fuck him in my car, I want to come all over him and I want to hear him beg for it. I think that he would, that's the thing, I think that he would, he'd ask me for it, he'd want it, he'd want it, he'd know what he wants... Oh Christ, I'm struggling, choking, 'cause the only sound he makes is my name, and he's coming in my mouth, half-bent over me as I kneel in front of him, swallowing, swallowing.
He's shuddering and still gasping and pushing me away from him, and I lean back, stroke myself hard, harder, and he can be silent but I can't, can't stop it, can't stop moaning, because I love how he wants it, love that, and Christ, I can't stop, I'm coming all over my fist, wave after wave of it. When the last shudders run through me, my mouth is dry and my throat is raw and I wish I knew what I'd been saying.
I look up, because Kowalski is watching me from under lowered lids and his head is tilted back against the door again. His hair is sweaty and his shirt is a little rucked up, his jeans shoved down around his thighs, and I know he should look ridiculous, but all I can think is that I never really got to find out how soft his shirt is.
I sit back on my heels with a groan, and Kowalski holds out his hand to help me up. I push myself off the floor, and end up leaning heavily against him there. It's funny - he brings his hand up to cup the back of my head for just a second, sort of half-hugging me. I know it's weird, but for a second it works, and then I squirm and pull back, and I wipe my sticky hands down my legs, probably ruining my pants. We're both a mess here, but that's something we're used to.
"Kowalski," I say tiredly. "What the fuck am I gonna do with you?"
He gives me a grin and tugs up his jeans from where they're sliding down his legs. "Whatever you want," he says as he fastens them. He's not selling that grin, but it's okay, we got nothing to hide from each other. Why the other way was so tough - when we made an honest effort, trying so hard to make it work - me with Stella, him with Fraser - and this is so easy, I can't tell you. It's messy, but it's something real - something I can hang on to, he can hang onto, and - whatever. It works.
He's looking at me, and I just - I lean in and press my lips against his for a couple of seconds. He freezes there, doesn't touch me, and it's kind of awkward, but he doesn't pull away. I take a deep breath and step away from him, refastening my pants, trying to get my act together here. He leans against the door watching me, and when I look up, the smile he gives me is lopsided. "Why don't you stay," he says, shoving his hands in his pockets.
I shake my head once. "I gotta get going," I say gruffly.
He shrugs one shoulder and slowly rolls himself off the door. "See you," he says simply, waiting for me to leave, and I do, scooping my coat up off the floor as I go. I tug it on as I head down the hall, hearing the strangely reassuring sound of Kowalski's door clicking shut behind me.
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