Deepest bows to Beth H., beta and encourager extraordinaire. It was she who lured me to the slippery slope of slash.
We're in trouble. Big trouble.
I'm in trouble. Worse trouble.
Okay, we've been hunkered down here, Fraser and me, in this warehouse, for about a half hour, not counting the hour we spent waiting for Keeler to arrive, and then he does arrive, but he's not alone. No he's got at least three goons with him, and pretty fast I realize it's not a meet after all, it's a trap, and good guess there, Kowalski, since him and his three goons are shooting at us, so it's pretty obvious we've been set up. Also, my cell phone stopped working about the same time the shooting started, so I have no idea if Welsh got my call, and as far as I can tell no one at the 2-7 has any idea what in hell is going on, and these boxes we've taken cover behind aren't as solid as I'd like them to be, and we're in trouble. Big trouble.
But that's nothing.
Like I said, I'm in worse trouble.
Worse trouble, because I'm looking over at the Mountie, crouched down across the aisle from me, and it's dark in here, all right, but there's enough light to see him clear enough. And as usual he doesn't have a gun, which means I'm the only one with a weapon shooting back at the bad guys, but that's not really the problem. He looks about as unruffled as they come, which is the only way he ever looks, really, except he's got this SMUDGE under his nose, which I guess he got when he rolled across the dirty floor to get out of the way of a bullet, and it's above the left side of his mouth, and I can't stop looking at it.
THAT'S the problem.
It's not like I can explain why I'm staring at the smudge. I mean, sure, mostly Fraser doesn't seem to get dirty, as if he were more Teflon than Reagan was, but once in a while he ends up rolling in mud, or diving through garbage, and that's more than the laws of physics can take, and sure, he gets dirty. Which doesn't bother me. But this smudge, it's, well, it's hypnotic or something. It's right over his mouth. Just a little dark smudge of soot or dirt, a streak about an inch long. Maybe his hand was dirty and he rubbed his mouth. His mouth...
My eyes are stuck on it. And not just my eyes.
Oh, shit. I know I'm in trouble, big, bad, screw up your life trouble. Because I want to go over there, and reach out my hand and...
"Now that's just silly, Ray." I can hear Fraser say it in my head. And my own voice in my head is saying, When did you start getting fixated on his mouth, Ray? This is not partners. This is not even buddies. Wanna talk partners? You never looked at Phil Jackson's mouth like that, or Donny DeSoto's, or, God help you, Murray Kaplowitz', or even Maria Lopecke's, and hers was pretty enough, but they were your partners, and you know, partners don't DO things like that. Especially not guy partners. They don't look at smudges on their partner's lips and get hard.
Oh, crap. I had to think that, didn't I? As if it wasn't uncomfortable enough crouching here.
Shit. Fraser's looking at me, and he probably caught me staring at the smudge. "What?" I hiss back at him, then squeeze off a round in Keeler's general direction. I get four bullets back in MY direction, thank you very much.
"Are you all right?" He has a sharp eye, Fraser does. I lean out again and nearly get my ear taken off by a bullet. "Ray!"
"Yeah, I'm okay, I'm great." Now I know where that shooter is, so I pop up and take my shot and I hear someone grunt. Good. Deadeye Kowalski, that's me, as long as I focus on what I'm supposed to be doing, and not on my partner's...
Dammit. Why'd I look at him again? Fraser's got his profile to me now, and that damn smudge is drawing me back, and oh, Christ! His tongue is wetting his lower lip while he concentrates on figuring out what we should do next. Great, great, just what I needed. Fraser's tongue.
And it strikes me that that tongue IS just what I need, or at least it's what I'd like, and that of course makes me groan, which makes Fraser look at me, because he probably thinks I got shot or something, but it's much, much worse than that, and maybe I should just GET shot so I can stop thinking about Fraser's tongue.
"Ray," Fraser says, in a stage whisper, but I'm not gonna look at him, at his tongue, at his mouth, at his SMUDGE, so I don't look, and he says my name again, louder, and I have to look or he'll come over here, and I can't have him crossing into the open without a gun.
"What?" I know I sound irritated. I am. I don't want to look at him. I don't want to see him, his damn mouth or his tongue, or any other thing about him, because I don't WANT to think things about him that I shouldn't, don't want to feel "that way" about him, and above all, I don't want to look at that smudge any more. But I look anyway. Like I said, hypnotic.
"I have an idea," Fraser whispers across the aisle.
Yeah, I have an idea, too, I have lots of ideas, and they're all about you, Frase.
"Hey, Vecchio!" Keeler's voice snaps me out of my ideas. Good thing, too. "You better just come out, Vecchio. I swear I won't shoot you."
Yeah, and if I "come out" to Fraser you might as well shoot me, Keeler, I think, but what I say is, "You first, Keeler. Put down your weapons. I got two squad cars on the way."
He laughs. "Uh-huh, I'm sure. Last chance, Vecchio."
And then he doesn't wait for my answer, but just starts shooting again. Fucking idiot. Except he's not such a big idiot, because while he and I were shooting the breeze, one of his guys moved, and there's a shot behind me from a different direction, and I'm up and out of my little hiding place, ignoring the barrage that comes as I practically catapult myself across the aisle, firing back. I crash into Fraser.
"Ray," he says, picking himself up from where I've knocked him.
"Sorry, Frase." I will not, I WILL NOT look at the smudge.
I look at the smudge.
I look at his mouth.
I look for his tongue, but it's not out. In fact, his mouth is set in a very determined line.
"Ray," he says, concerned, "you're bleeding." He's looking at my forehead, and I don't feel anything, but then there's this little wet trickle starting down from my hairline towards my eyebrow, so I guess I got creased or something.
"I'm okay." I am, really, at least about getting shot, but that damned mouth, that perfect Mountie mouth of his with the imperfect smudge above it is opening up and THERE IT IS, there's the tongue, and it's flicking out to wet his thumb, and Oh my Lord, he's using that wet thumb to wipe away the blood on my forehead.
I hope that sound I hear in the background is sirens, because it could just as easy be an angelic choir, since I've probably died and gone to heaven, though what a certain lower part of my body is up to is more connected with hell, as in, I'm going to hell in a handcart. I can't make it stop, though, and frankly, I'm not sure if I want to any more. He keeps wiping away the blood, with that determined look on his face. Maybe it's not just determination. Maybe it's something else. His thumb keeps working, but he's looking in my eyes, now, and I realize his eyes are really dark, kinda like smudges...
"Fraser," I say, and I hope to God that the croak I just heard isn't my voice, though I guess I know it is. "You've got a smudge." I gesture on the left side of my own lip. And like everyone else in the universe, he rubs the mirror image of where I rubbed, which means he doesn't come near where it really is, so I shake my head, which actually does hurt, a little, and I suppose I do feel a little dizzy, too. I lift my own thumb to rub it off, and then...
What the hell. I just lean in and lick his lip clean, until there's no more smudge, nothing, only Fraser's mouth.