In a Little While

In a Little While

by brooklinegirl



For the lovely Vylit 's Johnny Cash ficathon! Lyrics:

I lie awake at night and wait 'til you come in.
You stay a little while and then you're gone again.
Every question that I ask, I get a lie, lie, lie.

- "Cry, Cry Cry"

Kowalski/Vecchio. Summary: See, that was the thing: Vecchio always had to go.

With tremendous thanks to justbreathe80 and isiscolo for beta!

Ray was sound asleep the first time Vecchio broke into his apartment. He had the clip in his gun and his glasses on his face even before he'd completely woken up. By that time, Vecchio was just standing there, not much more than a gray shadow in the doorway to Ray's bedroom. He didn't flinch from the gun. He didn't even seem to notice it, really, even though Ray had it leveled at his chest.

Ray stood there, his heart pounding, his hand steady, one foot on the floor (with the sheets still tangled around it) and one knee on the bed. He sucked in some air when he saw it was Vecchio, but he didn't lower the gun. "What the fuck, Vecchio?"

The shape in the doorway shrugged one shoulder and moved to lean against one side of the doorjamb. "Did I wake you?"

Ray twitched. Jesus fucking Christ. "Did you wake me? Nah. I'm having a party here."

Vecchio did the slow shrug again. "Sorry," he said, not actually sounding like it.

Ray sighed, and lowered the gun. "How'd you get in?" He bent down, hunting around on the floor, looking for his holster. When he stood up, shoving the gun in the holster, Vecchio was just giving him a look. Ray waved it away. "Yeah, okay, fine, whatever. What are you doing here?"

"I -" Vecchio seemed to have to think about that one, and Ray realized, suddenly, that he was drunk. Huh. Ray watched as he pushed himself off the doorframe and wandered further into Ray's bedroom. He kicked a boot out of his way, and ended up at the tall dresser in the corner. He nudged at a few things on top of it with one finger. "I was in the neighborhood," he said finally, and really, if it wasn't for a few tells - the deliberate manner of speaking, the careful way he moved, the fact that he was here in Ray's bedroom at two in the fucking morning - Ray wouldn't have known he was drunk.

Ray sighed and tugged his boxer shorts up a little, switching on the lamp on the bedside table. "And what, you figured this would be the perfect time to make my life more difficult?"

Vecchio squinted at him, even in the dim light. "No, I -" He stopped, thought about it for a second. "Well, yeah, maybe."

Ray sighed again. "Great. Well. Mission accomplished." He watched through narrowed eyes as Vecchio pushed himself off the dresser. Ray really wasn't up for middle-of-the-night brawling. Not tonight. "Can you just-"

"Kowalski." Vecchio's voice was strangely flat, and now that he was closer, Ray could smell the gin on him.

"Yeah." Ray studied him. The guy didn't look like he was looking for a fight. He looked sort of - vacant. His hands hung loose at his sides. God, Ray was a sucker. "Okay, listen. You want the couch for the night? How'd you get here, even? Tell me you didn't drive."

Vecchio blinked at him slowly, and then - and hand to fucking God, Ray couldn't say how it happened - he was leaning in close, up against Ray, and his lips were on Ray's, kissing him - off-centered, sloppy, yeah, but kissing him.

"Jesus Christ," Ray said, trying to shove him back. But Vecchio had his hands anchored on Ray's hips, only half on the worn fabric of his boxers, so Ray could feel the warmth of Vecchio's fingers against his bare skin.

Vecchio's breath - hot, and smelling like gin - was against his face, and he had his eyes open, looking at Ray's mouth. "I didn't drive," he said hoarsely, and his fingers were so tight on Ray's waist they hurt.

"Vecchio," Ray said desperately, because no, uh-uh, this was no good, this was no good, this was what they called a very bad idea.

"That's me." Vecchio sounded like he was assuring himself of it.

"You can't -" Ray couldn't catch his breath.

"I gotta." And Vecchio was kissing him; more than that, slamming into him, and Ray thought he was dizzy for a second, but that wasn't it. Vecchio was moving him, pushing him, had him down on the bed, on top of the messy covers that Ray had been asleep under only minutes ago. Asleep and relaxed and with no fucking idea that Vecchio was - that he would ever - that anything like this was going to -

Vecchio pushed his long wool coat off onto the floor, climbing on top of Ray in only shirtsleeves and pants, and Ray had nothing but a worn pair of boxers between him and the soft, soft fabric of Vecchio's too-nice clothes. "Fuck, fuck." He shoved at Vecchio as hard as he could, bought himself a few inches of breathing room. "What are you doing?"

"You do this." Vecchio was panting at him. "Do you do this?"

Ray just lay there for a second, trying to breathe, trying to fucking even wake up all the way, here. "I - yeah, I do this, I do this sometimes. That doesn't necessarily mean I want to do it with you."

Vecchio was nodding, like they were just having a normal, everyday conversation here, like he didn't have his thigh up against Ray's balls here. "Yeah. I know. I know that. But - do you?" He was waiting for Ray's answer, poised there above him, but his thigh was still flush up against Ray, still right there. "Do you want to do it? With me?" He had to, had to, feel Ray and how hard he was. Hard. How he'd been since Vecchio first looked at him like that.

Vecchio was still just looking at him, and Ray - goddamn it - was nodding, a little, but it was enough. "Yeah," he said helplessly, and it was only then that he realized that his hands were fisted in Vecchio's shirt, that he was holding onto Vecchio, holding him close, not pushing him way. "Yeah, I do."

Vecchio nodded again, and it was like a relief, almost, for both of them, Ray could feel it. "Yeah," he said again, but it wasn't like it mattered, because Vecchio wasn't waiting for anything anymore. Vecchio wasn't waiting at all. He pushed Ray further onto the bed, and pulled Ray's boxers down, and off. And this was fucked up, this was so fucked up, because Ray was bare-ass naked, and Vecchio, God, Vecchio was staring at him, and his eyes were hot and hollow at the same time. Staring like this was something he had to do, maybe, and just - "No," Ray said, and it came out quiet. "Vecchio -" He was uneasy, here, this wasn't a hook-up or even a - how drunk was Vecchio, anyway? What the hell was this? "Vecchio, you don't have to -"

"No." Vecchio's voice had that rough, fucked-up quality again. "No, I really do."

And all Ray could do was spread out beneath Vecchio as he leaned in, one hand undoing his own pants as he kissed the breath out of Ray.


That was the first time. Ray was still panting, trying to catch his breath after coming all over himself, when Vecchio rolled out of bed, and by the time Ray managed to get his eyes open, he was already zipping up his pants. Ray watched in the dimness of the bedroom as Vecchio shrugged into his now-wrinkled shirt and buttoned it slowly, his eyes watching his own fingers like he was doing it for the first time, like he had to pay attention or else he'd get it wrong.

When Vecchio was finished, he smoothed his hands down the front of his shirt, and Ray could see the breath he took before he looked up and met Ray's eyes. Vecchio looked strangely at ease. Ray hadn't thought that Vecchio was - that he would ever - he just hadn't known. All through it, every time Vecchio touched Ray, his eyes had been hot and desperate, and Ray thought maybe - aw, hell, it wouldn't be the first time he was the test subject for a guy who thought he just maybe, might, possibly, but no.

But instead, Vecchio looked like someone who'd figured something out. It was late enough - early, really - that the windows were showing pale gray against the deeper darkness of the bedroom. Ray wanted to say something, wanted to know what the fucking deal was here, but he waited, tense, the sheets tossed over his legs. This was Vecchio's game. Was he gonna leave without a word? He might; the guy had balls. He'd proved that for sure tonight.

Vecchio stared at him in silence for several beats; then the tension drained out of his shoulders, and he rubbed one hand over the back of his head (where the hair was cropped close, soft, and had been damp with sweat when Ray had his hand curled over the back of Vecchio's neck, just hanging on). "Sorry," he said, finally, abruptly. "I just - I'm sorry."

"Vecchio," Ray started, then stopped himself, and just nodded, slowly.

Vecchio was turning away, bowing down in the darkness to slip his shoes back on. "You have cheap locks," he said quietly. "You should get them replaced; it didn't take anything to get in here."

"I got nothing to take," Ray said. He shifted onto his side, propping himself up a little. He could see Vecchio's profile as he stood in the doorway, his face half-turned towards Ray.

"Still," Vecchio said. "It's not safe."

And then he was gone.


And see, Ray saw Vecchio at work almost every day. It had been that way since Ray came back from Canada, since Vecchio came back from Florida, and neither of them talked about the whys and hows of their respective returns to Chicago, because that path led to fistfights and misery and borderline alcoholism. And they were, maybe, both of them still a little bit wary of Welsh and his understated, yet really very ominous, temper. He didn't even have to give either of them a speech about it, either. Ray'd been back for a couple of months by the time Vecchio'd showed up at the station, and when Vecchio came out from the closed-door meeting of Welsh's office, Welsh stood, arms crossed, in the doorway for a moment. He'd given Ray a long, steady look, and Ray'd held up his hands ("No problem here, officer.") and given Welsh an innocent smile.

Welsh had given Vecchio a desk as far on the other side of the room as possible from Ray's, and given him a partner young enough and green enough to keep Vecchio busy, and really, from there on in, Ray and Vecchio'd exchanged maybe a handful of words in the break room, and that was it.

Safest that way.

Thing was, though - yeah. This was the thing, and this was the thing that kept Ray far, far away from Vecchio, if he valued his job, and maybe his life: they were both of them fucked up in the way only someone who had been partnered with a particularly strange Canadian Mountie could possibly be. Ray'd spent maybe a couple of hours - maybe - in Vecchio's presence ever, but he knew the guy. He knew more about the guy than he'd ever wanted to know. And it wasn't just having lived his life; it wasn't about that, and they both knew it.

It was more than that. It was having, and losing, Fraser. Both of them. It was having, and losing, Stella. Both of them. It was heading back to this same job that they - both - bitched and complained about, and loved. Loved enough for it to feel like home, and man, was that like coming from a broken home, or what.

So maybe that had something to do with it. With this connection between them, even when they were polite and distant. With why Vecchio showed up at his house that one night - though who knew, who the fuck knew.

Ray'd gotten drunk and fucked up enough to do some pretty dumb things in his life. And sure, sure, okay, fine, the Vecchio thing - the Vecchio thing on his side of things - was pretty fucked up too. Because he'd never gotten a flat answer out of Fraser, about what went on with him and Vecchio. Never known for sure, and even if nothing ever had - and Ray'd buy it, he'd buy that, Vecchio was a textbook (mostly) straight guy, tucked so far back in the closet he'd never see the freaking light of day unless something forced his hand.

But even if nothing had ever happened - not like that - between Fraser and Vecchio, well, still: Vecchio was a huge part, a big, huge part of what made Fraser who he was by the time Ray entered the picture. Vecchio was a piece of the puzzle. The puzzle Ray had tried to fit himself into. Tried, and failed.

So yeah. Ray'd wanted to fuck Vecchio. Sure.

Why the hell had Vecchio wanted to fuck him, though?

No answers there, and Ray had pretty much chalked it up to one of those "I was really drunk and-" stories. Only he was sitting there watching a game one night on TV - and this was weeks, seriously, like three solid weeks of pretending nothing had ever happened between them, pretending that Ray hadn't ended up with bruises on his hips in the shape of Vecchio's fingers - and there was a knock on his door.

Ten o'clock on a Tuesday. Ray was perplexed.

Vecchio was standing uneasily in the hallway when he opened the door. Ray just blinked at him a few times. Vecchio coughed and ducked his head. "Busy?" he asked in a low voice.

"No." Ray studied him for a second, then took a sip from the bottle of beer he still held in his hand before standing back and holding the door open wider.

Vecchio rocked back on his heels for a second, then seemed to make a decision, and came in.

Ray nodded at the couch and went to the fridge. Vecchio was sitting down when he came back. His coat was draped over the chair in the corner and he'd loosened his tie. He nodded thanks when Ray pressed the cold bottle of beer into his hand. Ray sat down next to him, and they watched the next period of the hockey game in silence, partly because the 'Hawks were playing the St. Louis Blues, and even the fucking 'Hawks could beat the Blues. Halfway through the first commercial of the intermission, Ray said, still looking at the TV, "Nice of you not to break in this time."

"Yeah, well." Vecchio was looking at him; Ray could see it out of the corner of his eye. "I'm a swell guy like that."

At the next commercial break, Ray got up to get them two more beers, and when he sat back down, Vecchio said, "You didn't get new locks."

Ray raised and lowered one shoulder. "I'm not worried."

Vecchio didn't say anything, and didn't say anything, and Ray was really trying to watch the game. Only he couldn't even watch it, really didn't want to even be watching it. He took another sip of his beer, but he didn't want that either. He didn't realize he was playing with his bracelet, circling it around and around on his wrist, until Vecchio's warm hand landed on his, the long fingers easily circling it.

"Nervous about something, Stanley?" Vecchio sounded amused, and Ray made an active effort to relax. He slouched back further on the couch, and put one bare foot on the coffee table.

"Yeah," he said, tilting his head against the back of the couch to look at Vecchio. Vecchio was watching him, and his hand still rested, warm, on Ray's. "Nervous that the Hawks will manage to somehow screw up this lead."

"Not possible." Vecchio took his hand away, and Ray tried to keep breathing normally. Was this what they were doing? Were they just two guys watching the game? But they weren't even that, never had been that. Had never hung out before ever. The one and only time they, uh, socialized was that night when Vecchio broke in, and that couldn't hardly count as anything normal.

The game was back on, but Ray was still watching Vecchio, whose hand was resting on his own thigh, now. Just resting there, and Ray glanced down at it, and Vecchio - Vecchio was hard. Vecchio was clearly hard there in his nice pants, and Ray wrenched his gaze away, only to get caught by Vecchio, who was - calm. Calm, and watching him, and Ray felt the flush rising in his cheeks. Fuck, fuck, wasn't Vecchio supposed to be the one having the freak-out here?

Ray took a deep breath, and turned back to the game, shifting on the couch. Because Vecchio was hard, and Ray was getting hard, here, inside his jeans. Ray was getting really turned on, and what was this, was this a date? What the hell was this?

He watched the game, his eyes glazed over, maybe, because all he could think about was that Vecchio was there beside him on the couch, hard and hot and wanting something. Vecchio was hard, and Ray had seen Vecchio's cock, had watched down the length of his body as Vecchio stroked up against him, his cock long and flushed, stroking right alongside of Ray's, over and over again, before coming in those quick, pulsing spurts all over Ray's stomach and just -

This wasn't helping. This wasn't helping.

When he turned his head again - helplessly, he didn't even remember making the decision to do so - Vecchio was looking at him, and he was close, close, so damn close beside him on the couch. Ray - Ray'd been going to wait, Ray'd been going to make Vecchio be the one to push this. Vecchio was the one who kept showing up, Vecchio was going to have to be the one to take the chance.

Only it took nothing, nothing at all, to move the few inches forward, nothing at all before his tongue was in Vecchio's mouth, and it all happened quick quick quick, because Vecchio was all over him immediately on the couch. It wasn't casual, let's-see-how-this-goes making out. It was God fuck me now making out. It was making out with a goal, and the goal was to get jacked up, jerked off, to come.

Ray's whole body was shaking with it, but that seemed to be okay, because Vecchio had him pinned down, had slid half on top of him on the couch. His hands were firm on Ray's hips, pinning them down against the couch as he kissed him so hard Ray could hardly breathe.

Not that he was complaining. Despite any other issues Vecchio might have, he could kiss.

Only they'd done this before, with Vecchio on top and having an agenda, and come on, this was Ray's space he was forcing himself into. Ray wasn't here to be Vecchio's bottom boy. If Vecchio wanted this, he was going to have to take the whole package.

Ray fought Vecchio for control, fought and won, pushing Vecchio back inch by inch with teeth and tongue. He got Vecchio sitting back on the couch, and Ray pushed his way on top of him, straddled him there. Ray pulled back for a moment, his hands pinning Vecchio's shoulders against the couch, and when he looked down, Vecchio looked almost nervous - a little, a tiny bit, but you'd only see if you were looking for it.

Mostly, Ray was noticing that Vecchio'd lost his tie at some point, and his shirt was open several buttons, so there was the long, lean length of his neck there, and chest hair framed by the deep blue shirt he was wearing. Vecchio's hands were flexing and releasing on Ray's hips, and his eyes were dark. Ray made sure he had Vecchio's attention. before leaning down and licking a long, slow stripe up Vecchio's neck. By the time he got up behind Vecchio's ear, Vecchio's head was all the way back against the couch and he was panting against Ray's cheek. Ray pushed forward and down with his hips, grinding their erections together through too many, way too many layers of cloth, and Vecchio jerked up as much as he could, making a sweet, soft groan against Ray's ear.

Ray mouthed his way back to Vecchio's lips and sank against him into a slow, deep kiss. Every time Vecchio tried to start running the show again - trying to move Ray, or speed things up - Ray would force it back to his own speed, would make Vecchio comply. Because this wasn't a grope in an alley somewhere, this was them, and they knew each other, probably better than they should, and no fucking way was Ray going to give in any more than he wanted to.

When Ray finally pulled back, Vecchio looked flushed and turned on, staring at Ray with his green eyes gone dark. "Kowalski," he said, his voice hoarse and broken.

"Yeah." Ray's hips hitched forward, and Vecchio groaned like he couldn't help it. "Yeah, Vecchio."

Ray wanted to show Vecchio what the deal was here, get him out of the driver's seat. When he pulled away, slipped off of Vecchio's lap, Vecchio said, "Wait," sounding anxious. "Wait, don't - listen, I -"

Ray settled on the floor between Vecchio's knees. "Oh," Vecchio said.

Ray worked Vecchio's pants open, got his cock out and stroked it. "Oh," said Vecchio again, his eyes fluttering closed.

And Ray, well, Ray liked to suck cock, and he was good at it. And having Vecchio's hands tensing and relaxing on his shoulders as he did it, that just made it better. He knelt there on the floor and went at it for a long time, till Vecchio's hands were tight on his shoulders, tugging, and Vecchio was making these needy noises in his throat.

"Kowalski - come on - can you just - please." Vecchio's hips were hitching up, and his cock was sliding slickly in between Ray's lips, and then he was gasping, and coming, one hand moving up to hold onto the back of Ray's head while he murmured, "There, right there, just - yeah, yeah, yeah," over and over again, as Ray swallowed around him.

Afterwards, he wasn't sure what Vecchio would do, how he would handle it. But Vecchio just slumped back, boneless, against the couch. Ray levered himself up beside him carefully, adjusting his cock in his jeans. Vecchio tilted his head to look at him, and then he leaned forward, suddenly, and kissed him. Kissed him, though Ray's lips were still slick and his mouth tasted like come. Vecchio didn't let it stop him, just leaned in further, and before Ray knew it, he was pressed flat on his back.

Vecchio had Ray's pants open and was jerking him off before Ray could do anything at all. Vecchio's hand was moving so smoothly over Ray's cock, controlling this, getting him to the edge, then backing down. He did it again, and again, until Ray had his hand looped around Vecchio's wrist, urging him faster. "Pushy, Kowalski," Vecchio said, panting hotly against his neck.

"Tease," Ray managed, shoving his hips up harder, and Vecchio laughed breathlessly, and stroked him steadily - finally - until Ray came over Vecchio's fist, biting back a million words that he never wanted to say.


"Stanley," Vecchio said slowly afterwards. He'd pulled himself together and was standing up now, his coat slung over his shoulder. He hesitated, and cleared his throat. "I, uh - " He made a gesture towards the TV, and the couch.

Ray, leaning back against the couch, just raised an eyebrow at him.

Vecchio flushed. "Thanks," he finished lamely.

Ray grinned, because - way to thank a guy, Vecchio. "Yeah," he said, amused. "Anytime."

Vecchio looked up at him sharply, and Ray paused, then realized he actually meant it. It wasn't like he had a whole lot else that this was getting in the way of. Besides, it kept him on his toes. So to speak.

"See you tomorrow," he said.

"Yeah." Vecchio nodded. "See you tomorrow, Kowalski."

"Ray," Ray said, pointedly. He'd just sucked Vecchio's cock. He figured he deserved a first-name basis, at least.

Vecchio paused for a long moment, one hand on the doorknob, before saying, "Yeah. See you tomorrow. Ray." He headed out the door, and Ray stayed leaning there for a few seconds, pleased.

Whatever the hell they were doing, it sure beat jerking off alone after the game.


It became sort of a thing. Kind of. Vecchio would just show up every once in a while, at Ray's house. It got so it wasn't weird, and sometimes he'd even show up with a pizza, or a six-pack, early enough in the evening that it could be like they were just buddies hanging out. Only they weren't buddies, not really, because they still hardly ever talked at work, and they didn't really hang out ever except for those evenings at Ray's place. As far as Ray knew, hanging out with buddies very rarely ended with blowjobs.

Almost never, really.

If you didn't count high school.

They would talk, some, about work. Cases. They had that much in common, at least, gave them something to discuss. Sometime they just talked about Welsh, or how bad Dewey smelled the day the air conditioning went out, or even, yeah, Frannie, they could talk about Frannie. Because she'd been sister to them both, kind of. Even though Vecchio would slant him a look when Kowalski suggested that, a sort of you don't even know kind of a look, because, sure, Kowalski hadn't grown up with her as a kid sister, he just knew how annoying she was as an adult - well, still, it gave them something to talk about.

There were things they didn't talk about. They didn't talk about Fraser.

Or Stella.

Or Vecchio's family.

Or the fact that Vecchio kept showing up.

Or that Vecchio really, really liked getting his cock sucked.

Ray figured those things to fall into the category of known facts, and he was pretty much in agreement with the idea that they didn't need to be discussed. Of course, those things they weren't talking about meant a whole slew of other things just sort of necessarily fell into those categories, things like Canada, and bowling, and babies, and stuff like that. There was a whole huge list of things they weren't discussing, and the fact that there was, indeed, a list, was itself on the list.

Truth was, keeping it all in mind gave Ray kind of a headache sometimes.

But mostly, it was pretty good. Mostly, it was pretty great, actually. It somehow wasn't until about the fourth or fifth time that they got together that Ray found out that Veccchio not only enjoyed getting his cock sucked, he was pretty damn good at sucking cock himself. Ray'd gotten home late, real late, after a case, and he'd barely gotten his shoes off when there was a knock at his door. He opened it, and of course it was Vecchio, of course it was, who the hell else would it be knocking at his door at one thirty in the morning on a Thursday?

"Late night," Vecchio offered, slouching there in the doorway. "You close the case?"

"Yeah, I -" Ray studied Vecchio in the doorway for a second. "Yeah." He opened his mouth again to say, you know, some other time, maybe, but instead he found himself looping his hand around Vecchio's tie, tugging it lightly.

Vecchio looked relieved and came on in.

That was the night that Vecchio didn't even try to pretend this was buddies, just kissed Ray and pushed him back and back, bypassing the couch entirely, till they were up against Ray's bed.

They hadn't made it to the bedroom since that first time.

"Tired?" Vecchio has his hands on Ray's pants, was opening them up. Ray moaned and pushed forward a little, but Vecchio grinned, and shook his head, and pushed Ray's jeans down. Ray stepped out of them, confused. They didn't usually do naked, either.

"I - yeah. Long day." Vecchio was nudging Ray's t-shirt up, so Ray twisted out of it, tossing it aside, and let Vecchio push him gently backwards onto the bed. "Vecchio, listen, what's going on here?"

Vecchio just flashed him a wolf's grin, and gave his shoulders a firm push that knocked Ray's elbows out from under him. "Nothing to worry about." He kneed his way forward till he was straddling Ray, then tucked his hands into the waist of Ray's boxers, stroking the backs of his fingers softly against Ray's skin. "Relax."

Ray was anything but relaxed. As Vecchio dragged his boxers down and off, Ray arched his back, moaning as the elastic dragged over his cock. And that was when he found out how good Vecchio was at sucking cock. Because Vecchio, man, he went at it, and Ray was sprawled, sweating and shaking against the bed, and all he could do was take it as Vecchio went down on him so slow and easy that you'd think he'd been doing this for years.

Ray just hung on as Vecchio sucked him, kept his head ducked and his chin down and took Ray in deep. God. God. He'd never even thought - well, okay. Of course, he'd thought, but it was more the jerk-off fantasy of having to talk Vecchio into it, talk him through it, and this was ten times that. This was Vecchio sucking him hard, so hard, so fucking, fucking hard, and Jesus, Ray was - "Vecchio," he grated out, because dammit, he couldn't - "Vecchio-" And he was scrambling for purchase, but Vecchio had no hair to grab, and Ray couldn't - he wasn't - "Oh, God, I can't - you - "

And all he could do was groan and come right there in Vecchio's mouth, while Vecchio sucked and swallowed and eased him through it.

Vecchio was still dressed, even, sprawled there between Ray's naked thighs, his suit pants soft against Ray's calves. He moved up Ray's body, and slid down next to him, and the two of them ended up making out there - slow, steady - for a while, a long while, before Ray finally worked Vecchio's zipper down, got a hand around his cock, and jerked him off - still slow, still steady - Vecchio groaning against his ear as he came.

Afterwards, they stayed sort of curled together in the dimness of Ray's bedroom. Vecchio was half-dressed, still, and Ray had his hand curved over the soft fabric covering his hip, and he just - he just - "Hey," he breathed in Vecchio's ear, and even that felt dangerous, like anything he did would upset the balance. But - "Hey," he said again, and gave Vecchio a soft kiss, felt Vecchio's hand tighten where it rested against his side. Ray tucked his head into the hollow of Vecchio's shoulder.

He was half - okay, maybe three-quarters - asleep, when Vecchio's hand squeezed his hip, and then suddenly, all of Ray was cold, front and back, as Vecchio rolled away.

"Huh?" Ray reached out blindly, because his eyes wouldn't open all the way, but there was nothing but the sheets quickly losing the warmth of Vecchio's body. By the time he blinked his eyes fully open, Vecchio had shrugged into his shirt and was working his fingers quickly down the buttons.

He'd never even got his pants off.

Ray tensed in the darkness, but didn't say a word.

"I gotta go." Vecchio leaned in, and his kiss was hot and sweet. It was over before it even really got started, and Vecchio backed away and became nothing but an outline in the dim darkness of the doorway.

Ray hitched himself up on one elbow. "You could - " He clamped his mouth shut, and cursed to himself.

Vecchio just looked at him steadily. "I gotta go."

He was gone, then, and Ray dropped his head to the pillow, spread his legs out against the coolness of the sheets. It took him a long time to fall asleep.


Because, see, that was the thing: Vecchio always had to go.

It happened all the time. Didn't matter when Vecchio came over, late at night, after midnight even, he was still slipping out the door before the sky was even grey with dawn. Saturday afternoons, he was almost always gone by seven, and Sundays, Ray never even saw him. Even the few times he showed up in the early evening on a work day, it didn't matter what they did, watched a game or messed around, Vecchio was out the door by one in the morning.

Still - Ray wasn't complaining, not really, and it worked for them. They were becoming buddies. Sort of. Kind of. Except with fucking.

There was the time Ray ran into him when he was picking up food after work, and Vecchio was going by to the sandwich shop as Ray was coming out. Vecchio's eyes were startled, then went hot as the two of them stood awkwardly there in the doorway, people brushing by in between them, and Ray unable to tear his eyes away from Vecchio's.

"I got, uh, dinner," Ray said, gesturing a little with the paper sack of sandwiches in his hand. "I got extra." (It was supposed to be lunch tomorrow, but that was okay.) "You busy? You want to -?"

Vecchio looked at his watch real quick. "My ma - "

"Sure." Ray nodded several times. "I get it."

But Vecchio's eyes were still hot, and he moved gracefully around the business guy trying to edge through the doorway between them. "I got time," he said, and his fingers stroked real quick across the back of Ray's hand. And Ray had never known, never once known that that was a hot spot for him, but that touch - only for a second - set his body thrumming. The sandwiches could wait.

That was the first time Vecchio rode in Ray's car - the two of them a little tense but not really uncomfortable as Ray navigated carefully home, trying to keep his eyes on the road. Vecchio wasn't even doing anything, wasn't doing anything at all but sitting there, his long legs spread a little, his hand hanging loose in between them, but still - that was enough. Just that, and Ray's throat was suddenly too dry to swallow, and he took a corner too fast, the wheels squealing.

Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Vecchio's lips curve into a slow smile.

That was the first time Vecchio and him fucked. Really fucked, because by the time Ray got back to the apartment, he was jittery and worked up, needed more than just a hand or a mouth or a combination of the two. He couldn't hold still underneath Vecchio on the bed there, couldn't stop moving his hips, couldn't stop his hands from roaming down Vecchio's back, smoothing over his ass, hanging onto his hips.

Couldn't keep his mouth shut, either, kept asking for it. "Come on, yeah, Vecchio." He was panting a little, and Vecchio was looking both - well, turned on and amused, and Ray kept twisting out of his grasp. He couldn't keep still, he wanted more. "Vecchio," he said urgently. "Come on, I need to just - give me something here, I need - "

Vecchio had his hands clamped down on Ray's shoulders, was trying to kiss him, but Ray was frantic with need, here; he needed, he needed. "Kowalski." Vecchio's voice was rough, throaty, and yeah, that was what Ray wanted. Vecchio was thrusting his cock slowly against the soft skin of Ray's stomach, and Ray groaned and arched up into the touch. Begging for it, and not caring. He just - he wanted -

Abruptly, he rolled over, pushing Vecchio off of him and flailing for the bedside table.

Vecchio sprawled back beside him, was actively grinning now. "Listen, Kowalski, you're not helping - oh." Ray pushed the lube and a condom into Vecchio's hand, and Vecchio was staring down at them like he'd never seen anything like them in his life.

"Come on," Ray said breathlessly, staring at Vecchio and willing him to go along with it. He needed - he really needed - to get fucked.

"Ray, I -" Vecchio rubbed the back of his head uneasily, and glanced up at Ray. "I've never - "

"I want you to," Ray cut him off, and rolled over. Christ. He didn't just want him to, he needed him to. Felt like he was going to break into a million pieces if he didn't.

And Vecchio - man, you had to hand it to him - stepped up. His hands were gentle, and he used plenty of lube, and he took it slow, even as Ray was rocking back against his fingers, pushing himself up on his hands and knees, hard and hot and demanding it. And when Vecchio - finally - pressed up against him, Ray had to bow his head against the mattress and wrap his hands in the sheets. Because Christ, he wanted this, he wanted this so bad.

Vecchio was pressing forward, one hand resting light and sweaty against the small of Ray's back. "All right?" he said, and his voice was thick and unsteady.

"Yeah." Ray shifted his knees, wanting to push back, but Vecchio sounded so unsure. "Yeah, Vecchio, it's good, it's - " He gasped as Vecchio pushed in. "-good."

It was good, it was so good, it was just what he needed, and Vecchio, man, Vecchio seemed to love it too. He drove forward until he had Ray flat against the bed, and was fucking him so good, so good, plastered against Ray's back. He was moaning low in Ray's ear and it was him who couldn't shut up now, couldn't stop mumbling into Ray's ear. "You - Christ, I didn't even - this is - you are - yeah."

Ray trembled on the edge of orgasm for ages, hanging onto the sheets so tight his fingers ached, while Vecchio fucked him into the mattress. It was Vecchio's lips against the sweaty skin of his temple, mouthing kisses there as he drove again - again - into Ray that pushed it just that far, just far enough that he groaned, ducking his head against the pillow, as he came, bracing himself underneath Vecchio's body.

"Jesus." Vecchio lost his rhythm. "Oh, Jesus." Then he was panting hotly against the back of Ray's neck and shaking, shaking so hard as he came.

And even then. Even that time. Even after it took him ages to stop shaking, even after he wrapped himself around Ray so tight. Even then, Vecchio nudged Ray out of sleep by slipping his arm out from underneath him carefully, and sighing softly as he got out of bed.

Ray, suddenly completely awake, shut his eyes tighter, and didn't say a word. Not a word. This wasn't a boyfriend thing, this was just Vecchio. Ray knew it; Vecchio knew it, and if Vecchio didn't want to sleep here, that was fine. Ray got fucked; he got what he wanted. No problem. No big deal. He was just tired. He was just so fucking, fucking tired, and he didn't even listen as Vecchio let himself out and closed the door gently behind him.


Ray never asked Vecchio why, never needed to. He had all of Vecchio's excuses right there in his head. Family. Ma. Frannie. The force. Welsh. His badge, his family, his life. The fact that this wasn't boyfriends. A million things all the time in his head, and he didn't need Vecchio's own words for it.

It didn't mean a goddamn thing, when you came right down to it.

Not that Ray cared.

Truth was, he liked Vecchio. Sort of. Sure, the guy could be pompous, and sure, they had different tastes in almost everything, but you loosen the guy up, he could be a lot of fun. He had a sense of humor, in bed and out, and could laugh at himself. And as the weeks went on, it just - all of it got a lot easier between them. In bed and out. Hell, even out of Ray's apartment, they were edging towards a sort of clumsy friendship thing. Ray ran into Vecchio in the break room one day, and they'd ended up leaning there against the counter, drinking coffee and talking about a case for a while, eventually drifting over to sit at a table, drink more coffee, and talk more cop talk.

It wasn't a date, but it was something.

They didn't talk much, but hey, they were guys, and that's sort of how it worked. The things they had in common (that they could talk about) were:

- cars

- work

- sex

Which was more than Ray had, ultimately, had in common with Stella, when you got right down to it. And Vecchio sort of fit in Ray's life, in a weird sort of way. Ray was a single guy, and he was a cop, and he was messy and self-centered and late a lot of the time. And Vecchio - Vecchio seemed to mostly get that.

Things were just-easy with Vecchio. Sometimes too easy. Sometimes it was sort of like it was all out of Ray's control, or even Vecchio's control, and with no one at the wheel, well, it made things sort of crazy sometimes. The work thing - it was one thing for the two of them to be working in the same place, but never having a reason to cross paths or talk. It was a whole other thing to be working in the same place, and fucking three or four nights a week. Working in the same place, and Ray knowing what Vecchio's favorite beer was (he'd tell you it was some Brazilian crap, but really? It was Old Style.), and what his favorite pizza topping was (bacon), and what his favorite spot was (bottom of his collarbone, right below where his shirt collar would hide the mark Ray inevitably ended up making).

That made the not-talking at work seem really weird, really awkward. It didn't help that when they did talk at work, people would stare at them nervously, or sometimes kick back and grin and wait for a brawl to start.

Not fun.

So they were back to the awkward work thing, and the easy after-work thing, only sometimes, you know, things happened.

Ray was hunting around in the supply closet for typewriter ribbon, and he couldn't find it anywhere, any-fucking-where. He'd just scraped his finger trying to paw back behind some boxes and was cursing to himself in the dimness when the door swung all the way open, and he was face to face with a startled Vecchio. Ray, sucking on his scraped finger, sort of just froze, deer in headlights. Vecchio stood there, half in and half out of the closet (and if that wasn't symbolic, Ray didn't know what was), and stared at Ray for a handful of beats before swallowing hard, and taking a step in. And shutting the door behind him.

Ray looked at Vecchio, and then at the shut door (Shut. Not locked, or anything even halfway safe like that. Just shut.). Then Vecchio was up against him, had his hands wrapped in the front of Ray's t-shirt, and at that, they were involved in this completely frantic and totally inadvertent make-out session. Vecchio had Ray pressed up against the shelves hard. He was kissing Ray so intensely, so fucking deep and wet, turning Ray on so hard, so fast, that his knees went weak.

He had no clue how long they'd been going at it, but he was hard and sweating by the time Vecchio pulled back. And Vecchio was cool about it, actually, breathing hard and giving Ray a sort of tilted smile. "That was sort of dumb," he said softly, brushing one thumb over Ray's lips.

"Gee, you think?" But Ray couldn't even bring himself to sound too put out about it, and Vecchio gave him a real grin, and a pat on the cheek before adjusting himself in his pants, taking a deep breath, and slipping out the door.

Ray, for his part, just reached up and pulled on the string, plunging the room into darkness. He leaned there against the cool metal shelves in the dark for a while, just staring into the black and breathing.

It was startling when the door swung open, letting in the light and sound of the busy precinct still going on out there, and Frannie came in, stomach first. She blinked when she saw Ray leaning there. "What are you doing here in the dark?" She yanked on the string and started hunting around on the shelves, her pregnant stomach getting in the way of her reaching the boxes. "The damn printer is out of toner again, and I'm the only one who knows how to change the thing." She was struggling to reach the last box of toner at the back of the shelf and Ray reached back and grabbed it for her.

"Thanks." She smoothed the hair back from her face impatiently. "Though, I guess, this way they can never fire me, because no one else could even do half the stuff I do." She ran her hands over her round stomach, distracted, and pulled the box out of his hand. "And then there's all the stuff at home, and Ray, you don't even know, my mother is crazy You have to understand that to begin with."

"Uh-huh," Ray said, carefully non-committal.

She was shaking a finger at him like he was arguing with her or something, instead of measuring the distance between her and the door with his eyes and trying to figure out how to angle around her stomach in order to escape.

"She just won't let it go, is the thing, about me being knocked over and there not being a man in my life, but what I tell her is, who needs one, really? I mean, like Tony is really ever even there for Maria? I don't think so. Do you?"

Ray opened his mouth, but she was already barreling on. "And now she's on me more than ever, and Ray's not even there mostly, and that's making Ma crazy - crazier. He's late to dinner half the time, or else he's going out after, and he thinks she doesn't notice when he sneaks in, but after all these years, he still hits that squeaky stair on the way up half the time." She paused, tapping her fingers against the box, and Ray sank back against the shelf. "And then he never even showed up for Tony and Maria's wedding anniversary dinner at all Monday night, and that was a big deal, with a cake and everything."

Monday night. Ray's face went hot, because Monday night was when - Ray remembered Vecchio checking his watch there on the street, remembered him saying something about his ma, and just -

"And see, it's all about men in her world, and really, I think we'd be better off without them when you get right down to it, mister." She gave him a withering look, and he held up his hands, innocent.

"Hey, I'm with you," he offered.

"Right." She stormed out the door, pushing it shut behind her, and Ray - slowly - reached up and tugged on the string again.

He stood there quietly in the dark for a little while longer. Maybe this was the way Vecchio felt about closets. There was something kind of peaceful about the whole deal.


That night, after work, Ray sat at his desk until the precinct was dim and quiet and he had to move his feet so the janitor could sweep underneath them. He just tilted back in his desk chair and studied the cracks in the ceiling and maybe thought a little bit about how having a straight boyfriend who loved to suck cock wasn't, weirdly, all that great.

Eventually he heaved himself to his feet, got up and left. He didn't see Vecchio that night, but that was okay, because they weren't a thing anyway, not for real. He didn't even have the guy's cell number, and what was he gonna do, call him at Ma Vecchio's?

Only, once he got the idea in his head, he couldn't get it out, so he waited two more nights and then he did, he called him at Ma Vecchio's. And he had to talk to Frannie first, who couldn't seem to comprehend why he was calling, and then he had to listen to everything he just said to her being yelled back, word for word, to her ma in the kitchen. And then Maria picked up the line to find out who it was calling for her brother. And really, by the time Vecchio finally got on the phone with a "who the hell is it, anyway?" Ray was exhausted, and hung up, trying to figure out what was so bad about his bed that Vecchio wanted to go back to that madhouse instead.

So he thought about it, and thought about it, and the next night, when Vecchio came over, Ray was wound up and not in the good way. It didn't take much at all for Vecchio to push him too far, not much at all.

"Pizza?" Ray offered shortly, standing there with his arms crossed.

Vecchio was taking off his coat and stretching out the kinks in his neck. "God, again?"

And Ray just - he didn't even really remember making the decision, he just completely lost it, and swung around, smashing his fist into Vecchio's face.

Vecchio stumbled back three steps and hit the wall, stunned. It took maybe a second, and then he was swinging back at Ray, and Ray rolled with the punch, took it, and he had so much adrenaline in his system that he didn't even need to shake it off. He got Vecchio in the face one more time, swinging wildly, and then Vecchio tackled him to the floor with a giant thud that was going to have the neighbors calling if this went on much longer.

Vecchio was heavier than Ray, and stronger, and he had Ray pinned down hard in a minute. "Jesus, Kowalski, what's your fucking problem?" He sounded more puzzled than pissed off

Ray sneered up at him. "Nothing." Because he had no problem; he should have no problem. This was all swell. Fine. Fucking terrific. Ray got it, he totally got it. Vecchio was crammed in the closet because he had to be. Vecchio had family to consider. Vecchio was completely tied up with that, and Ray got that. "No fucking problem."

Vecchio just stared down at him, looking confused, and pissed off. Finally, he got up and Ray just lay there, glaring at him. Vecchio shook his head, and silently shook out his coat, and shrugged into it.

Ray heaved himself off the floor. He just wanted to hit something, still. Because fuck this, fuck this, this was just what he didn't want, this was just what he was cool about to begin with. Easy sex with a decent guy! What's the problem with that? No problem!

Vecchio left. He left, and Ray got up off the floor. He moved his jaw, feeling the ache from where Vecchio punched him back, and then he kicked the door hard, hurting his foot. He went out that night and got drunk enough that he spent pretty much the rest of the weekend sleeping it off. And he didn't see Vecchio at the precinct on Monday, and he didn't see Vecchio that night. His phone rang a few times, but he didn't pick it up, and he didn't listen to his messages.

He was tired. He was old, and tired, and done, and maybe it was just him. Too damn old to deal with bullshit dancing around and people who couldn't find their ass with both hands. Too damn tired to deal with someone who was only in it by half. He had been there. He had done that. He had the divorce papers to prove it.

And he hadn't known this about himself. He admitted that, Friday night, when he hadn't seen Vecchio all week. He was sitting there on his couch, too tired to even lift the beer to his lips, too tired to even reach for the remote to change it from whatever dumbass show he was watching. He'd thought he was still all good with sex with no strings, but who was he kidding? Had he ever been good with sex with no strings?

"Bullshit," he muttered to himself, letting his head fall back against the couch. "It's all bullshit, him and me both." He had no room to judge. Screw it. This was a useless argument, and instead of going around it one more time, he just got up and put himself to bed.


Two weeks without Vecchio, and he was doing fine. Really fine, totally fine, because he'd been fine before Vecchio, and this was no different. Friday night was like any other night: home after work, beer on the couch, bad TV, cold cereal for dinner. He talked to his mom on the phone, and then went to bed, stripping down tiredly to his boxers and pulling the covers up tight. It had been freezing out all week, and he shivered until the blankets warmed up, before falling into a deep sleep, full of uneasy dreams.

He woke up tangled in the covers, his heart pounding, his hand scrambling for his gun. Only it was just Vecchio standing by the bed, giving him a fucking heart attack. Vecchio, who was stripping out of his clothes, and pulling back the covers as Ray stared up at him in the darkness. Vecchio, who was slipping into bed beside him, pushing Ray to lie back down, curling up behind him. He pulled him close with a cool hand across Ray's belly, and Ray was just weary enough to let him.

Vecchio, who had his lips against the back of Ray's neck as he murmured, "Sorry, I'm sorry."

Ray lay there tensely in the circle of Vecchio's arms. "If you don't want to be here, Vecchio -"

"I want to be here." Vecchio was kissing Ray's neck, stroking his stomach gently.

Ray swallowed, and grit his teeth. "If you're gonna keep leaving -"

"I'm not going to leave." Vecchio rested his forehead against the back of Ray's neck. "I'm not going to leave."

"Your mom -"

"My mom is - my mom." Vecchio paused. "My house is crazy." He tugged at Ray again, and Ray relaxed - slightly - back against him. "I could stay here, maybe. Sometimes."

"You could," Ray said guardedly. "Maybe. Sometimes."

"Not Sundays." Vecchio was softly running his fingers along the waist of Ray's boxers. "It's family dinner."

"I get that." Ray was tense again, and Vecchio pet him soothingly.

"I know you do." Vecchio paused. "You could come, maybe. Sometime. If you wanted."

Ray held his breath for a second, and then said, "I like your mom."

Vecchio chuckled, sending tremors through Ray's body. "That's 'cause she's not your mom. It's easier for you."

"Yeah." Ray had a mom of his own. He loved her, yeah, but - he got what Vecchio was saying. He closed his eyes, pressed back against Vecchio. "True."

"So." Vecchio was warm, and Ray was relaxing back towards sleep. "So you and I are -"

"Yeah," said Ray sleepily. "You and I are - yeah." He yawned hugely. "So shut up, and let me sleep."

"Yeah." Vecchio kissed the back of his neck one last time, and Ray shivered sleepily. "Yeah, okay, Ray."

When he woke up, it was full light out, and Vecchio was snoring against Ray's neck, warm against his back. He was taking up too much space in the bed, and he'd stolen the covers. Ray rolled over in his arms and lay there for a minute, watching him sleep.

"Kowalski." Vecchio blinked his eyes open. "Jesus, Kowalski, quit watching me. That's creepy."

"Shut up." Ray grinned at him. "You want coffee?"

"Oh god, yes." Vecchio sighed happily, then rolled forward, pinning Ray down and kissing him sleepily, morning breath and all. "You gonna get up and make it?"

"Yeah," said Ray, quietly happy. "Yeah, I'll get up and make it."

"Good." Vecchio pressed his face into Ray's shoulder. "That's good."

Yeah. It kind of was.


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