Ray Kowalski has a tattoo. Ray Kowalski smokes and wears ratty clothes and scruffy boots and instead of doing sports or student government or debate team like anybody else, after school he works down at some restaurant near his house. On the nights when he gets off early and comes around to see her, he always smells like fried food, even though she can see he's showered.
Ray Kowalski is skinny (he's a couple inches taller than her, but he probably doesn't weigh much more) but he's tough. Every Monday he has new bruises, from boxing over the weekend, he says, though she's willing to bet at least some of them are less from boxing and just from fighting, because God knows Ray isn't one to back down from a fight, even when it's obvious to everyone -- obvious to her -- that he's going to lose.
When Ray Kowalski comes to her house to pick her up, she can tell what her parents are thinking from their expressions, just as easily as if they'd actually said it: This boy is bad news. Ray is awkward and horribly polite and formal with them -- she half-expects him to bow one of these days -- and he always looks like this is a pop test in a class he's been skipping for weeks.
Or worse, really, because Ray Kowalski never seems to worry about school stuff at all, not like her. She saw his last report card once, picking it up the floor of the passenger seat of his car when they were driving around, and there were two Ds and a C- on it. And Ray isn't dumb, no matter what he looks like or how he talks or what most of the people at school sneer about him. But he doesn't seem to care about school or any of it.
Ray Kowalski cares about cars, and about dancing, and about his mom and dad, and about maybe doing something worth doing someday, and about her. Mostly her.
Ray Kowalski looks at her and his face softens, like a puppy or a little kid. Ray Kowalski peed himself in a bank when they were thirteen to save her from a bank robber. Ray Kowalski touches her like she's the most important person in the world, and he doesn't know how he got this lucky.
Sometimes it makes her feel really powerful, and sometimes it makes her feel really tired.
She isn't sure how many times she's broken up with Ray and how many times they've gotten back together. When they're apart, she dates other boys, ones who are nice or smart or popular or ambitious, and she has a good time, and nothing feels like it's supposed to be desperately utterly important.
She's never seen him with any other girls during those times, even though she knows he could get a date, she's seen other girls look him over while they're out. She knows for a fact that Ray Kowalski's never gone all the way with another girl, because he's told her. Just her, and that makes her feel oddly proud of herself and oddly protective of him, and sometimes she thinks about it when they're fooling around in his backseat, when he's pushing his fingers slowly inside her, or when she's bracing herself up to put her mouth on his dick and hear him make little noises and say her name like he's going to cry.
She has no idea, really, why she's with Ray Kowalski. But he has the sweetest smile, and he has horrible glasses he's too vain to wear, and he's playful and strange and considerate, and he treats her well. He makes her happy, and that's enough.
Ray Kowalski proposes to her two weeks before they graduate, when she's taking a break from studying for finals long enough to go out with him for a milkshake.
She doesn't know she says yes, but she does. She's going to marry Ray Kowalski.
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Fandom: due South
Title: Eighteen is a Sickness
Author: Pearl-o [email] [website]
Details: Standalone | R | het | 3k | 10/24/04
Summary: Stella doesn't completely understand.
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