Title: Civilized Conduct
Author: SassyInkPen  (Jan 2008)
Paring: Ray/Ray
Rating: Adult
Part: 1/1

Summary: Written for the Courteous Ray challenge.

Thanks to catyah and sageness for the great beta jobs

Disclaimer: I don't own them, I only play with them.



Ray Kowalski turned and started slowly beating his forehead against the wooden porch column he'd been leaning against. Stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid....

The front door of the house opened up and Vecchio stepped onto the threshold. As well he should. It was his house after all. "Are you coming inside or what?"

"Yeah," Ray said, resigned. He turned to see Vecchio, leaning in the door frame all lanky and stylish and laid back ease, shirt sleeves pushed up to reveal his forearms, wristwatch gleaming in the porch light. "No. No, I'm not. Just...give me five more minutes."

Ray went back to beating his head on the post, and Vecchio said, "You're fuckin' nuts, you know that?" He went back inside, but left the door wide open.

The trouble started when all the trouble stopped. That is to say, Ray's trouble started when Welsh's trouble stopped. Welsh was really the key to the problem. Right there in a nutshell. Ray was half tempted to give him a piece of his mind about leaving shit alone, but then his mouth had already gotten him in too much trouble already.

It was a bitch too, because things had been working out just great for Ray. Everything was the way it was supposed to be. One year after the shit hit the fan, everyone was finally where they really should have been all along. Fraser was chasing fish thieves, Stella was prosecuting drug dealers, Ray was a cop again, Vecchio was a cop again, and as long as they could keep from killing each other, everything went smoothly. Well, not smoothly actually, not by a long shot, but bad guys got arrested and crimes got solved, and life had a predictable pattern that Ray could count on. Vecchio annoyed, Ray bitched, Welsh yelled; Ray annoyed, Vecchio bitched, Welsh yelled more, thugs were caught, reports were typed; and the cycle repeated itself in a comfortable rhythm. Neat, tidy, solid.

Until Welsh blew a gasket.

After one especially nasty fight that took up the entire hallway and required outside intervention, he'd called Ray and Vecchio into his office and started yelling, and yelling, and yelling. Ironically, what he was yelling about was the amount of yelling that Ray and Vecchio did on any given day.

"And it's not just the yelling," Welsh said, pacing behind his desk. "It's the constant disruptions, the bickering, the foul language, flying objects, pushing and shoving, broken furniture--"

"I said I would pay for that chair," Ray cut in.

"Fat chance," Vecchio spat, "I'm still waiting for you to cough up the dough for my headlight."

"And you're gonna wait until you're old and your head stubble is gray, because I am not footing the bill for your shitty driving."

"My driving had nothing to do with it, you jackass." Vecchio jumped to his feet and got right up in Ray's face. "You tried to shoot a perp out the driver's side window! You damn near shot my nose off."

Ray smirked and licked his lips. "You can't blame me for that."

Vecchio narrowed his eyes. "Why you little--"

He didn't get to finish the sentence because Welsh stepped around the desk, raised his hands...and smacked their heads together hard enough to make them both swear out loud.

"Now listen up," he said. "If I could afford to throw you both right out on the street, I would. Unfortunately, that would leave me with a shortage of, how shall I put this? Adequate detectives. And I would have a different problem. So the two of you are going to solve this one and save me another ulcer."

Both Rays straightened up to attention and tried to look contrite while rubbing their respective foreheads.

"Here's how it's gonna work," Welsh continued. "The two of you are going to be the very picture of politeness and civility. There will not be one single unpleasant word between you. No dirty looks, no muttering, not even so much as a dark thought. You're gonna make Miss Manners look like a redneck swine. Am I clear on this?"

"Yes, sir."

Welsh put a hand on each of their shoulders and said in a very low, very serious voice, "I mean this. I am not happy about the situation, and if it doesn't change, I guarantee that you won't be happy either. Now get out of my office."

So, that was when the problem started. For Ray, anyway.

It wasn't that not fighting with Vecchio was really all that hard. In its own way, it was just as satisfying as fighting:

"Let me get the door there for you, Vecchio, old pal."

"Thanks, Kowalski, you're a prince, but you go ahead."

"Hey, you know I live to serve. After you."

"No, really I couldn't."

"Oh, but I insist."

The thing was, after a few days, they kind of got used to it, and Vecchio.....shit, Vecchio started to be polite for real. He listened when Ray talked, let him finish whole sentences and everything. He'd lean over and unlock the car door without making Ray beat on the window for a whole minute. He kept his crap on his own desk, actually told Ray when he was leaving to follow up on a lead, and waited until Ray had finished his sandwiches before throwing the garbage away.

For a while, it was almost kind of pleasant. That is, until the coffee incident.

They'd had a late night, what with the drug bust and the gunfire and the bookings, and to make matters worse, they had to be back bright and early for a meeting with Welsh and two guys from ATF about one of their cases. Ray felt like warmed over shit when he stumbled into the station, and he slumped into his desk chair wondering if he could get ten more minutes of sleep before he had to make nice with the big boys.

He'd just gotten marginally comfortable and shut his eyes, when Vecchio walked past him and set something on the desk. Ray listened while Vecchio hung up his coat and stashed his gun in the desk drawer.

Then Vecchio leaned over and said real quiet, "Hey. Here ya go, thought you could use it."

Ray cracked one eye open to see Vecchio holding two cardboard cups of coffee, one of which he set down at Ray's elbow.

"What the hell is that?" Ray asked, eyeing it skeptically.

"It's a cup of coffee, what's it look like?"

"We got coffee here."

Vecchio made a face. "No, this is good coffee. Looks like they're ready for us," he said, and wandered off toward Welsh's office.

Ray took a sip. Jeez, it was good coffee. Damned good coffee, and ten minutes into the meeting, Ray actually felt human again. Now he was gonna have to thank the fucker.

The thanking him wasn't really so bad, because Vecchio didn't make a big deal out of it or act like the God of Bringing Coffee, and it just slipped right in there under the radar. Which really freaked the shit out of Ray, because he had no fucking clue how to deal with a Vecchio who was just a decent guy and a good partner, and maybe even a kind of a friend, almost.

He liked it a hell of a lot better when Vecchio was a bastard and a treacherous asshole with a sharp tongue and a loud mouth, because he knew how to handle that. The arguing and the backbiting had taken all his time and attention, so he'd never had to notice that Vecchio was actually capable of being a nice guy.

And goddammit all to hell, Vecchio was turning out to be a nice guy.

Which would have been fine where it stood. Because it was actually pretty great working together on cases instead of thwarting each other, and bouncing ideas around without coming to blows. And they started buying each other lunch once in a while, and talking in the car, and shooting pool after work occasionally. Which all should have been just fine and dandy, except stupid stupid Ray had to go and develop a thing for the fucker. If anyone had told him that weeks ago, he never would have believed it.

But Vecchio being nice turned his crank? Who knew? So now, instead of sitting on his hands to keep from strangling his partner, he had to do it to keep from jumping him. To keep from putting a hand on the back of his neck while reading reports over his shoulder. To keep from crowding him up against the wall of the men's room and sliding his fingers all over those smooth silk shirts.

Christ, and Vecchio, he had no idea what was going on. He'd come into the station with packages wrapped in tinfoil, "Here ya go, Kowalski, Ma made a ton of lasagna last night, thought you might want some for lunch." "I got the status report, why don't you head on home, you look beat." "Here's that file you needed, I was down in Records anyway." How was he supposed to know that Ray's idea of thanking him properly involved tongue play and messing up that expensive tie.

It didn't take long for Ray to become just as distracted and edgy as he'd been when he and Vecchio were at each other's throats all the time, only now he couldn't do anything about it. He was always tense, wary of the next little favor or pat on the back that would send him lusting after Vecchio like a cat in heat. He couldn't take it anymore.

The solution hit him like lightning while he was watching a Chuck Norris movie on TV and drinking a beer. (The last of the beers that goddamned Vecchio had brought over when they pulled a late night working.) Ray needed this to work because Vecchio had been insufferably pleasant since his whole family had taken off for a two-week vacation, and there were still nine damned days to go. There was no way he'd last.

He didn't bother with a jacket, or stop to turn off the TV as he bolted out the door. Drumming his hands on the steering wheel, fixing all his resolve, he sped along the route to Vecchio's house, single-minded in his plan.

When he got there, he was out of the car and moving swiftly up the walk before the engine stopped ticking. He bounded onto the porch in two steps and beat on the door impatiently. "Vecchio, open up, come on, man!"

There was the sound of muttering, and footsteps coming closer. When Vecchio swung the door open with a concerned look, Ray put up his fists. "You and me, Vecchio, right now. Let's go."

"You're not serious," was all Vecchio said, so Ray punched him right in the face.

Vecchio staggered back into the entryway, eyes wide with shock. He just barely managed to stay on his feet, straightening up slowly while wiping blood from the corner of his mouth. He gaped at Ray with the obvious question unspoken.

That's where things really started to go wrong. Because instead of feeling better, Ray was wired on adrenaline and ready expectation, but instead of fighting back, Vecchio just stood there, wary, watching him with those dark eyes.

Ray took two steps forward and put his hands up, shoving Vecchio, challenging him to respond, to put things back the way they were when everything was chaos and made sense.

"What is this, Kowalski?" Vecchio asked. Not pissed off, like he should be, but...stunned or bewildered, or God forbid... worried.

And, fuck, Ray had that ghost of him on his hands now, solid muscle under soft sweater, and that sure as hell wasn't helping matters. He wasn't supposed to be getting turned on by this, he was supposed to be getting back to a nice seething hate, and Vecchio was supposed to be making sure of that by tossing off snide remarks about his violent nature, his limited intelligence, and his close family ties with the city zoo.

"Dammit, Vecchio," Ray hissed, shoving him up against the wall hard. And that was exactly the wrong thing to do, because now he was right up in Vecchio's space, and he could feel the length of Vecchio's body, and every inch of him was hyper aware. He was pulled forward like a magnet. He couldn't not...lean in. "Dammit, dammit, dammit! "

It was like he had a swarm of bees in his head, and he couldn't think. He really was honest-to-God out of control, and if he didn't do something to make it stop, he was going to splinter into pieces and that was going to fucking hurt.

"What's going on, here?" Vecchio asked, eyes sharp. His voice was rough and edgy, but he just waited. Just stood there, breathing carefully, and fucking waited.

Ray's blood was pounding in his ears, his hands were restless, scrunching Vecchio's sweater, not knowing whether to rip it off or strangle him with it. And his dick was throbbing, because Jesus Christ he had a hard on, and what the living fuck was he supposed to with that? So far, he seemed to be doing the exact opposite of fixing the problem.

His hands, his fucking out of control hands, started pulling at Vecchio's clothes, scratching his stomach as he pushed them out of the way, and tore at his own jeans, because what better way to spur Vecchio to fight? Hi, I just dropped by to molest you in your foyer, what the fuck are you gonna do about it?

And then he was shoving up against Vecchio, bare cock on...what? Hip...stomach? It didn't fucking matter because it was Vecchio's skin, and Christ the man was just radiating heat. He thought he heard Vecchio mutter, "Oh my god," but he couldn't be bothered to care at that moment, because it was so fucking good. He braced his feet and just thrust and thrust, because this was his one chance, and he might as well get off before Vecchio beat the shit out of him and life returned to normal.

He didn't notice Vecchio wasn't pushing him away. All he knew was that he was right there, right on the edge, and he just... couldn't. It was so goddamned good, better than it had a right to be, but he just couldn't push it over.

"Son of a bitch," he groaned, panting on Vecchio's shoulder where he had the sweater pulled away with a white-knuckled grip. He'd been bracing himself with his other hand, and now he pounded his fist against the wall in frustration, trying so hard. "Damn, damn, dammit..."

"Hey, take it easy," Vecchio murmured. He put his arms around Ray's waist, bringing him back under control, pulling him tight. "Slow down, we got time. There's no one else around."

Vecchio was all strong hands, and slow quiet purpose, gentle even, and Ray was suddenly shaking with the strain of that pace and his own need. And when Vecchio whispered, "That's it, that's good," Ray lost it.

"Oh Jesus fuck," he gasped, and thrust hard, pinning Vecchio to the wall and panting as he came, grinding against Vecchio's stomach or his hip, or wherever he was. He fought to stay on his feet, because everything in him just let go all at once. Then Vecchio was there, holding him tight and coming right after him with a deep moan.

For about thirty seconds, everything was still, and quiet, and Ray could breathe again.

Then Vecchio was moving, grabbing some Kleenex off the hall table. Ray just used the edge of his t-shirt, doing a half-assed job before buttoning up his jeans.

Ray dragged his hands through his hair and glared at Vecchio. "Who in the hell fucks polite?! What is the matter with you?"

"What are you talking about?"

"I'm talking about this," Ray said, pointing at the wall. "And why did you let me do that after I punched you in the face?"

"That was you throwin' a punch?" Vecchio grinned. "'Cause I thought that was a love tap."

"Shut up," Ray snapped. "Just shut the hell up."

"You're not makin' a lot of sense, here, Kowalski. You wanna tell me what the hell is going on?"

"No. No, I do not. I don't want to talk about it at all." Ray chewed his lip for a moment and then yanked the front door open.


"No." Ray held up a hand. "Just go back to being an asshole already. I'm out of here."

Ray managed to pretty much avoid or ignore Vecchio for about two days. Not that they were peaceful days, by any means, because no matter what Ray was doing part of his brain was locked on the idea of licking Vecchio's neck and pushing him down on the bed, or the sofa, or the...fucking ground. Anywhere. Plus, he was continually seized with the perverse urge to walk up to Vecchio and say, "So how do you get come stains out of cashmere, anyway?" Really it was best for everyone if he just stayed away.

He was going stark raving mad, that was the only explanation.

To his credit, Vecchio let things slide for those first couple of days, and pretty much gave Ray his space. But then the bastard went and bought him that good coffee again. Ray came into work one morning and found the cup on his desk.

"What the fuck is that?" he spat, hands on hips and glaring at Vecchio.

Vecchio arched an eyebrow. "I thought we'd already covered the whole definition of coffee."

"Yeah, well stop that." Ray picked up the cup, very deliberately dropped it in the garbage, and stalked off. He cringed when Welsh paused in his doorway to watch him walk by.

For the rest of the day, Ray went out of his way to be obnoxious. He tried, at any rate, but none of it felt right, and it sure as hell wasn't very satisfying. Vecchio was certainly no picnic for the day, but didn't exactly rise to the bait, either, and Ray was left feeling cross and irritable by late afternoon.

They were both at their desks, supposedly tackling a backlog of paperwork, but Ray had taken to flicking paperclips up over the row of staplers and pencil cups and bouncing them off Vecchio's reports. And Vecchio's hands. And one especially good shot off the side of Vecchio's face.

"What the fuck are you doing?" Vecchio said in hushed tones. "You tryin' to get us fired?"

Ray leaned forward and hissed back, "I'm trying to get you to man up and quit acting like such a pussy."

Vecchio put down his pen and laced his fingers together, staring at Ray evenly. "I'm not the one having problems acting like a man lately. Why don't you quit fucking around and figure out what's going on in that crazy-ass head of yours."

"Look, my head is--" Ray pressed his lips together. He took a breath and pointed at Vecchio. "You just stay out of my head and I'll be fine."

Welsh walked by and cleared his throat meaningfully, and they both ducked their heads, industriously studying their work.

When he was well out of earshot, Vecchio said. "My place is still empty. Come over for dinner tonight. You and me...we need to have a talk."

"Fat fucking chance. You must be off your rocker."

"Look, I don't especially want to lose my job, and I think you owe me an explanation. This needs to get resolved."

"No. Fuck off." Ray started to concentrate intently on the report he was writing, and violently ignored Vecchio and any and all thoughts of Vecchio's house.

For a short while they worked in silence, and then Vecchio got up to get a cup of coffee. When he returned, he had two cups, and Ray thought maybe he was asking to get decked. Vecchio stopped at the corner of Ray's desk and sat on the edge of it all friendly-like.

He set one cup down for Ray, and sipped his own. Then he said, "It would be a great personal favor to me if you came over for dinner, and I would really appreciate it, Kowalski. Please?"

Ray squeezed his eyes shut and bit at his lower lip and tried not to get hard. "Wait, that's.....that is not fair."

"Everything's fair, Kowalski. You started this game." Vecchio stood up and gave him a good natured pat on the back. "Is seven thirty good for you?"

"You are one evil, devious bastard, Vecchio."

"Meanwhile, I wanna go see if Evidence is ready for us to look at the stuff from Marconi's car." Vecchio smiled and tapped Ray's coffee cup. "Do not throw that in the garbage this time."

Stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid.... Ray left off beating his head and looked at the open door. He could smell garlic and other assorted cooking smells. His stomach growled. Okay, so that was an acceptable reason to go in. Food. He was hungry after all, and he really didn't think Vecchio was just gonna let him go, anyway. He went in and swung the door shut, darting through the entryway to where he could hear Vecchio clattering utensils in the kitchen.

Vecchio looked up when he entered, and slid a glass of red wine towards him. "You want an aspirin?" he said with a grin.

Ray snorted. "Cute."

Vecchio shrugged and leaned back against the counter, folding his arms over his chest. He didn't say anything else, just watched Ray.

Ray felt awkward as hell, and didn't quite know what to do with himself at first. He stuffed his hands in his pockets, then took them out, then took off the jacket and hung it on a chair. He wandered over by the stove and peered into a large pot on the back burner. It looked like lumpy tomato soup.

"What's this?" he asked.

"Cioppino," Vecchio told him.

"What's in it?"

"Pretty much everything that swims or crawls in the sea," Vecchio said. "I made it the other day, it's good."

Ray nodded, slowly, trying not think at all. About anything. There was also a frying pan on the stove, which was where the garlic smell was coming from. It looked like mostly tomatoes and onion, with green flecks.

He pointed. "And what's that?"

"Sauce. For pasta."

"You cook a lot?"

"Yes I do," Vecchio said. "You wanna talk about what happened here the other night?"

"No." Ray shook his head.

"Well, I do."

"Well, I want a flying pony, but we don't all get what we want."

Vecchio groaned, letting his arms drop to his sides. "Would you come off it already? What is the big deal? So, you got the hots for me. You must have noticed that I wasn't exactly complaining, so where is the problem?"

"Vecchio, I would rather swallow a box of tacks than admit that I like you, let alone that I have the hots for you. Which I do not."

"That's bullshit and you know it," Vecchio said with an astonished grin.

"It's not bullshit. I hate you. Everyone knows I hate you. It even says so on my driver's license."

"You didn't hate me when we were shooting pool and having lunch and generally getting along just fine."

"Yes, I did. I just didn't want to make a scene."

Vecchio chuckled and shook his head. He went to the stove and gave the tomatoes a stir, and checked the soup. Then he turned and got right up close to Ray, so close they were almost touching, but not quite.

"So, you have a thing for manners, huh?" He spoke softly, but with a hint of amusement. "Like...thank you so much for coming, and please, may I take your pants off?"

"Jesus, Vecchio," Ray hissed. His fingers itched to grab Vecchio's shirt and kiss the shit out of him.

"I'm sorry," Vecchio smirked, "was that too crude? You're welcome to take mine off."

"That is lame, Vecchio. That is not even funny."

"Come on, it is a little." Vecchio smiled. He turned off the heat on the stove and moved in on Ray again, so that he was trapped in the corner of the counter.

"What now?" Ray asked, "Is it time to eat?"

"No," Vecchio said. He ran a hand up Ray's side, slipping under his t-shirt to slide gently over his skin. His other hand, he brought up and rested on Ray's shoulder, while he leaned in to kiss his neck.

"Hey, stop that," Ray said breathlessly.

Vecchio shook his head, "No."

"Shit, shit, shit," Ray muttered. He put his hands up to try to push him away, but ended up wrapping them around Vecchio's waist, where his fingers brushed bare skin.

Vecchio pressed up against him, still careful and soft and slow, kissing lightly along Ray's jaw line. He was tracing his fingers over Ray's ribs almost delicately.

Ray shuddered and said, "This is sick, Vecchio."

"Sick?" Vecchio lifted his head to look at Ray. "What, because it's gay?"

"No, you asshole," Ray snapped. "Because it's us. This is just fucking wrong."

"Oh, for God's sake," Vecchio muttered. He pulled Ray into a deep kiss, molding his body against Ray's and rocking into him ever so slowly.

For about three seconds, Ray resisted, trying to pull away. Then the buzzing in his head started again and his skin flushed hot and prickly. His control slipped and he moaned, kissing back with a flick of tongue. Then he gave up and tightened his grip on Vecchio's waist, grinding his hips against Vecchio's where he could feel the hard-on that matched his own.

For several long minutes they stood necking like teenagers, until Ray's brain finally caught up with his body. He pushed Vecchio back, breaking the kiss. "No. No, no, no," Ray said, keeping him at bay.

Vecchio put his hands on his hips, breathing hard. "Now that we've established that you clearly do have the hots for me, could you please drop the bullshit?"

"It's not....Oh, jeez," Ray rubbed his hands over his face. "Look, I have a certain order to my life. There are certain things that...that I can count on. There are things that are just...they have to be that way for my life to work, to make sense. Like a man is only as good as his word, tuna fish needs to have cheese...and you and I hate each other."

"Except we don't," Vecchio said, evenly.

"Yeah, we have to, because otherwise I gotta learn whole new rules, and I'm tired of doing that. I liked things the way they were because it made sense, and I was comfortable. I knew what was going on, and things mostly worked."

"All that fighting and bitching." Vecchio frowned. "You liked that."

"Yeah, kinda," Ray said with a shrug. "Maybe."

"You really are fuckin' nuts."

Vecchio started up with the soft approach again, sneaking in on Ray with gentle hands and a light tone. He licked his lip and said, "Fine. So, what if the new rules include getting laid on a regular basis and we can still bitch at each other when Welsh isn't around?"

Ray considered this a moment. He also considered the feel of Vecchio's body, and the taste of his mouth when he kissed after taking a drink of wine. And the fact that his own control was down to its last fine thread yet again. He thought about those days between Welsh's gasket blowing and his own stupid, stupid attraction to Vecchio taking over. Maybe it was a kind of normal that he thought he could live with. Along with getting laid on a regular basis.

"You suck cock?" Ray asked finally, raising an eyebrow.

"Yeah," Vecchio told him. "I expect the favor to be returned, of course."

"Oh, yeah," Ray said, "That's one of the rules. Reciprocal blow jobs."

"That's a good rule."

This time when Vecchio slipped a hand up Ray's shirt and kissed him all slow and gentle-like, Ray pulled Vecchio's shirt right off and pushed him across the kitchen, shoving him against the opposite counter. He ground his erection into Vecchio's groin and panted, "Talk nice to me, Vecchio."