Shay Sheridan

Written for "Stop...Drop...Porn." Fraser/Vecchio

The first time he sees it, that surprise flash of red in his peripheral vision, his hand shakes so hard the ice in his hi-ball clinks against the side of the glass and the drink sloshes over the rim.

"You okay, boss?"

Ray forces himself to turn slowly to face the no-neck bodyguard standing to his left. "Sure, Pinky." He scowls, in the way the Feds told him the Bookman scowls, the annoyed face he's been practicing for days. He grunts, "Don't just stand there, douche bag, get me some napkins."

"Sure boss, sure." Pinky lumbers off to get cocktail napkins. When he returns he mops off Ray's sleeve like a slave doing homage to Pharaoh.

"You need to work on your poker face, Armando."

Everyone else at the table turns, aghast, to gawk at Munchie Moran. Ray can feel their tension, but he grins, showing his teeth. "Fuck off, Munchie. You ain't seen my hand yet." A twitch of his head brings the cocktail waitress scurrying. "Freshen this up, sweetheart. No, wait – Make it buttermilk." No more drinking today. Not when the mere glimpse of someone wearing a red jacket can throw him out of character so easily. He turns back to the other players. "What're you mugs looking at? Munchie, ante up or go fuck yourself."

It's only been a week, after all, a week since Ray Vecchio became Armando Langustini. This was too damn close. He can't let down his guard yet – not ever, not if he wants to live.

He takes the hand, and eventually the biggest pot of the night; he suspects the others threw the game. But when he's done for the night and Pinky's escorted him to his suite at the top of the hotel and is firmly on duty on the outside of the door, Ray can finally, finally let out his breath and think about the red jacket.

He lies on his bed, the window thrown open, because even if it's hot out the constant air-conditioning inside sealed rooms is screwing with his mind as much as his sinuses. He misses the mugginess of Chicago; he misses Ma and Frannie and Maria and her kids and even his idiot brother-in-law. He misses Welsh and the Duck Boys and Elaine and the peeling green paint in the precinct locker room.

The empty place by his side where Benny should be would be enough to make him weep, if instead of weeping he weren't lying naked on the bed, his hand on his dick, stroking himself to hardness, feeling the urgency grow in his balls, fucking his own hand and wishing it were someone else's hand instead. He'd rather it be a big, square hand, a confident one, a familiar one, jerking him off. That thought carries him to climax, and when he comes, his back arching as he releases into his palm, he sees nothing before his eyes but red, red, red.

The next time it's a girl in a red one-piece bathing suit by the hotel pool, and if there's anything less like Benton Fraser in his dress uniform than a leggy blonde in a bathing suit, Ray doesn't have a clue what that might be. Still, just that splash of color against the white pool deck as the girl reclines in the burning sun is enough to transport Ray to a colder climate, and a landscape of snow and ice, and to Benny, the two of them in a rustic cabin, Ray complaining about the cold, Benny silent but watching him with eyes so warm they heat Ray clear through.

Ray has the waiter send her a drink.

Her name's Belle, and she's come to the tryouts for showgirls at the hotel, and she's not supposed to be using the pool, and she knows who he is, and she's thrilled to meet him, and she's from Nebraska, and she's blonde and stacked in a Marilyn Monroe-Jayne Mansfield kind of way and he sees right away she's dumb as a stick, but he barely listens as she pours out her story. He's looking at red spandex and seeing red serge, and Benny's perfect, perfectly-composed face as he stands guard outside the Consulate. He's hearing himself mock Benny's rigid posture, wondering how long it will be before Benny finishes so the two of them can go grab some dinner.

She accepts his invitation to his suite.

It's an easy step from the small private bar to the massive ebony bed with red satin sheets.

Langustini's suite –his suite – is like a porn palace, with mirrors everywhere. Most times Ray avoids looking at himself – balding, hairy, the hint of a belly protruding from his lanky frame. Now that olive-skinned, hairy, balding body is twinned into infinity with the creamy whiteness of the girl's voluptuousness. He looks away as they fall onto the bed. He wants to take it slow, but the truth is he's frantic, obsessed, aroused from the moment he saw that splash of color at the pool. Her hair fans out against the scarlet satin, gold against red, gold braid, gold stars on a red serge sleeve. Her eyes open and flutter closed, large and brown (blue, should be blue) with mascaraed lashes that should be naturally black. Beneath his hands is soft plump flesh where there should be angles. He rolls a pebbled nipple, feels her breasts, her rounded belly; his fingers trace the pillows of her buttocks and move into the valley between them, one finger sliding boldly into her ass. She shifts uneasily. He doesn't bother with more foreplay; no fingering of her cunt, no licking her pussy. He should feel shame at how he treats her, but he can't summon the emotion, though later he'll feel it deeply. For now he closes his eyes, lets his own rigid flesh sink into the wet heat of the body beneath him. He thrusts and she makes a noise like a cooing bird, says something like "Ooh, Mr. Langustini, you're so big!" but he grabs her arms hard enough to bruise and growls back, "Shut up, shut up" as he pushes into her again, harder this time, seeking tightness, resistance. She doesn't protest; she remains silent, because she knows who he is, or who he's supposed to be. Her legs clamp about him, her red-lacquered nails score his back. Ray thrusts and thrusts, desperate for sensation, his hands gripping too-soft skin, his nostrils clogged with cloying perfume, but all his eyes capture is red: red satin, red reflection, red serge, red regret.

He thinks he's prepared for it by now, but the next time he sees a red jacket, he does a double-take. The bellmen in the hotel are wearing new uniforms, red jackets over black pants, gold stripes up the leg. The jacket is trimmed in gold, too, with epaulets in a mockery of a military uniform. So fucking unfair, Ray thinks. It's as if God has set an army of young men in red jackets with a military twist before him to mock Ray Vecchio personally.

The bellman on duty must be new; certainly Ray never noticed him before. He's good looking, dark-haired, blue eyed, with an open sincerity on his face that Vegas will turn to jaded acceptance soon enough.

He blushes, clearly flattered, when Armando Langustini singles him out. His name is Joe, he tells the Bookman; he's from Montana. He lived on a ranch. He wants to be a croupier. Ray listens, but doesn't care. He's looking at the jacket, at the black hair, and his thoughts are nowhere near the casino.

Joe's nervously standing outside the suite when Ray opens the door to takes the package he's delivered. He blushes again when Ray invites him in and offers him a drink

His blushes deepen when Ray takes the drink from his hand, and presses him up against the bar. But he doesn't resist Ray's hand on his red-coated back, or Ray's mouth against his neck, or Ray's other hand sliding into his waistband.

And when Ray rasps, "Keep the jacket on," the bellman smiles a little, and Ray realizes the kid is jaded already, and maybe he's really a hustler, or soon will be. But by then it doesn't matter. He presses the bellman down onto the bed, naked buttocks exposed, red uniform jacket covering a muscular back. Ray's hands trail down hard thighs, trace up the inside to fondle hairy balls; his own dick twitches and swells. Beneath the solid buttocks are taut muscles. There is a shiver of anticipation in response as his thumbs pry apart the cheeks, and when his finger slides into the hot, tight ass, he hears a moan that goes straight to his dick. Enough – he can't wait for more. He slides on a condom, lubes up and presses home, slow enough not to do damage, but urgently enough to cause discomfort. His hand slides around to encircle the now flaccid cock. And then he's fucking him, hard, passionately, staring at the uniformed back, feeling muscles clench around him.

And if Ray numbs his mind with the drug of memory and unfocuses his eyes to see nothing but red before him, maybe he can delude himself that his hand and his cock know the body beneath him, and that his ears, hearing wordless sounds, are hearing the right sounds, from the right voice, and not the voice of a stranger.

It has to be enough; he has no other choice.

It will be enough.

...won't it?

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