Written for the Common Courtesy challenge at ds_flashfiction. For Carla, because I continue to terrorize her with cock soup over the years. Thanks to Nestra for the read-through.
Ray leaned his forearms against the cart and tapped his fingers on the metal. The store smelled like dust, old rock candy, and a little like raw beef. A college kid in pigtails and lowriders shot him a weird look, and Ray's lip curled up in a sneer. He hated it when they made him feel old.
Too bad he couldn't arrest her for public indecency for the stripe of hot pink underwear showing where her pants didn't quite stay on her ass. Nice ass, but the kid was still the wrong kind of punk.
Ray scratched at his hip where his badge was poking him. "Hey, Fraser, we almost done?" Fraser looked up from the box in his hand, and Ray squinted at the label. "Okay, no," Ray said. Fraser opened his mouth to reply, but Ray cut him off. "There's eating, and then there's eating, Fraser."
"I understand, Ray, but in Jamaica it's considered to be quite the --"
Ray leaned over the shopping cart basket and waved Fraser closer. Fraser stepped toward him, looking curious. "Jamaica-shmaica. Only one cock goes in this mouth, Fraser, and since I still got all my floating ribs, mine's out of the running."
"I see," Fraser said. He put the box of cock soup mix back on the shelf and cleared his throat. "Shall we proceed to the checkout counter?"
"Oh, so we're done here?" Ray asked.
Fraser smiled, and it was the smile that reminded Ray of Dief catching sight of an unwatched doughnut in the wilds of the 27th. The kind of smile that crinkled the corners of his eyes. Also the kind of smile that said, 'sometimes this guy carries a big freaking knife.'
Exactly the kind of smile that made Ray want to rip off Fraser's Henley and do him on top of the frozen peas.
"Stop it," Ray said.
Fraser kept smiling. "Stop what?"
"You know what."
"I'm afraid I don't."
"That thing you're doing with your face that's gonna make me scare the old lady pricing the chicken noodle soup, Benton."
Fraser laced his fingers in the side of the cart. "I don't know that we'd frighten her, Ray."
Ray shrugged a shoulder. "You say potato, I say heart attack. Maybe she goes into shock, falls down, goes boom, cracks her head open. I don't know."
Fraser licked his lip and ducked his head, and when he looked back up the tempting smile was gone from his mouth, but still there around his eyes. "Right you are."
"You're killing me, Fraser."
"I find that doubtful."
"So I'm full of shit. What else is new?" Ray batted Fraser's hand away from the cart and began wheeling it down the aisle. He'd made Fraser choose the cart when they got to the store, because every time Ray picked, it turned out to be one with a wheel that squeaked like a speed-freak hamster.
Fraser chuckled. "Your hair color is new. Your underwear is new."
"You really wanna broadcast that in the middle of Dominick's?" Ray said, snapping the cart around the corner toward the checkout lanes, and then stopping so suddenly that Fraser bumped hard into his back, Fraser's hands grabbing at his hips for balance.
"Ray? Why did we -- oh dear."
Ray grunted in agreement and raised his hands. Fraser raised his too, but stayed pressed along Ray's back like they were back on the sled ride from hell down the side of a mountain.
A lanky guy with stringy hair pointed his gun at them. "Stay back!" he hollered. Ray squinted, wishing like hell he hadn't left his glasses in the GTO. Still, he didn't exactly need his glasses to see that the kid's hands were shaking like he'd downed four pots of NoDoz-laced coffee.
"Hey," Ray said quietly. "We're cool, okay? We're not movin'."
Fraser took a deep breath, and Ray twitched from the effort it took to suppress his natural inclination to lean back against Fraser and pull a porn star maneuver. He'd given up lecturing his dick about inappropriate responses to danger and shitty timing a long time ago, but with Fraser in his life, lecturing his dick about stuff like that would totally put the kibosh on their sex life. So maybe he and Fraser had issues, but Ray wasn't about to seek psychiatric help for something that got him laid on a regular basis. Nobody was that dumb.
"Sir," Fraser said, "I'm sure that if you put down your weapon --"
"Shut up!" the kid yelled, gun swinging around to aim at them, and then back at the terrified clerk. She looked about eighteen, plump, a green apron clinging to her front. Her hands were up, way up, almost on level with the stubby ponytail that was showing off her creative dye-job.
"Sir, I'm sure that if --"
"I said shut up!" The kid's ratty T-shirt was dark with sweat rings, almost as bad as Dewey usually looked after trying to chase down a perp.
Ray turned his head, and said quietly to Fraser's nose, "Do not provoke the whackjob, Fraser."
"I was merely --"
"Fraser!" Ray whispered. "This guy would probably shoot his own Grandma right now, okay? Shut up." Ray could see Fraser glaring at him out of the corner of his eye. "Shut up, please."
Fraser nodded. "It only takes an extra second to be courteous, Ray."
"Where's Tina?" the whackjob demanded. "She's supposed to be here. She said she was working today. Where is she?"
The clerk squeaked out, "Tina doesn't work here."
"That's a fucking lie!" the guy said, lunging closer. "Where is she?"
"Nobody named Tina works here," the girl said, and when the guy took another step closer, insisted, "I mean it, Mister, I swear!"
The whackjob started ranting about liars, bitches named Tina, and some big conspiracy to screw him out of his fifteen minutes of fame by not hiring him for a guest spot on ER. Ray jigged his foot. There was something off about the gun, but Ray couldn't put his finger on it. And while he wasn't completely blind without his glasses, stuff was fuzzy and just got fuzzier the farther away it got.
"Ray?" Fraser whispered into his ear. Ray couldn't help it; he shivered. Fraser's warm breath in his ear caused one of those automatic response things. Something about Pavlov and mice eating cheese.
"What is it?" Fraser said.
Ray shrugged. "Dunno. Gun's queer, or something. Can't see it good enough to figure out how."
"It's a small, .22 caliber pistol, Ray."
"Huh," Ray said. His nose itched. "What's it say on the barrel?"
"The serial number, the caliber size, and the word 'Swordfish'," Fraser said, Ray's very own Mountie binoculars.
"What about the nose?"
"Well, that's peculiar," Fraser said, sounding distracted.
"Well, I've never seen a pistol with a red metal tip such as this one."
It all suddenly clicked, like torquing a spark plug into place. "Fuck me sideways."
Fraser sounded a little startled when he came out with, "Pardon?"
"It's not a gun, Fraser," Ray said.
Fraser cleared his throat quietly. "It certainly looks like a gun."
"That you judging a book by its cover?" Ray whispered. "Never thought I'd see the day."
Fraser snorted, then leaned in so close that his chin was on Ray's shoulder. "Are you certain?"
Last time Ray was out in Skokie, one of his dad's buddies had jumped Ray with one of the same cigarette lighters just outside the trailer door. Only reason the stupid sonofabitch didn't have another hole in his head was because Ray hadn't been carrying that day, and he'd taken great pleasure in marching next door and telling Mrs. Stafinski exactly what could've happened to her husband if he'd tried that on anybody else in blue.
Great pleasure. Maybe even obscene pleasure. The whole thing had scared a couple of years off his life that Ray was pretty sure he wasn't gonna get back, and so he damn well knew what he saw when he saw it.
"Yeah, I'm sure." Ray turned his head, his cheek brushing Fraser's. "What do you think?"
Fraser took a couple seconds to think about it, then said, "On three. One, two --"
"Well, no, I merely stunned the suspect," Fraser said to the reporter, holding up his hands to ward off the credit, "allowing my partner to disarm and restrain him."
"You stunned him with a frozen pizza," the reporter said, but Ray could tell she really meant 'you did not just say that.'
Ray figured she must be new, because the other guys knew by now that, yeah, Fraser did just say that, and what's more, he meant it.
"Thrown like a discus, yes," Fraser said, demonstrating again.
Ray ducked under Fraser's swinging arm and sat on the corner of his desk. "After observing the suspect committing the, uh, aforementioned illegal act, I thought it appropriate to arrest him. So we did."
The reporter nodded at him seriously, but her eyes looked kind of glazed over, like maybe she was imagining herself with helmet hair behind the anchor desk on the six o'clock news instead of hoofing it around town talking to bozos like him. "And how did you do that, Detective?" she asked.
Ray scratched at his ear. "I said, 'You're under arrest.' Then I put handcuffs on him. That's what you do when you arrest people."
Beside him, Fraser made a sound like a muffled snort. "As well as reading the suspect his Miranda Rights, of course."
"Oh yeah, of course," Ray said, nodding.
For almost a minute, the reporter stared like she'd be happy to smack him around with the microphone, but getting arrested for assaulting a police officer must not have appealed. She looked over her shoulder at the camera guy, and said, "That's a wrap. Let's get the hell out of here, Barry."
Watching the reporter walk away, Fraser leaned in and murmured, "That was unconscionable, Ray."
Ray shrugged. "I'm an unconscionable guy, Fraser."
"Ray," Fraser said, in that prissy way that meant he wasn't really angry.
"She was mean, Fraser," Ray said, pulling his leather jacket off his desk chair and slipping it on. "Mean people suck."
"What do nice people do?" Fraser asked.
Ray grinned over his shoulder. "I'll show you when we get home."
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