Oh, The Places You'll Go

Meeting the Curve

Notes: Written for picfor1000. Many thanks to jadelennox and thehousekeeper for beta. The picture prompt can be found here.


"Let me get this straight," says Ray, furrowing his brow and staring into the empty beer glass as if it had some magical sense-making powers. "You want us to get married because the Tampa Bay Devil Rays got renamed to the Rays?"

"Yeah," says Kowalski, hunched and barely glancing at Ray from his seat on the next barstool over. "You gotta problem? You think I'm not good enough or something?"

Ray puts down his glass, rubs at his forehead with his fingers in an attempt to clear the oh-god-what-now? feeling from his brain, and turns to Kowalski, gripping his shoulder and shaking lightly. "Don't be a dumbass all your life. Just. I don't know. Explain, will you?"

Kowalski doesn't look up, mumbling into the bottle in his hand like it's a broken mic, "They were devils, now they're not."

"What?" The fog is not lifting.

"They were devils, now they're not," says Kowalski, louder and over-enunciating with a waggle of his head. He's still not looking at Ray, though. "You know, like us. Like with your ma, like with my dad. I mean, it took years but they've got it figured out now, right? We don't got horns-" ("Speak for yourself," mutters Ray,) "-and we're good guys. With edge." He slices the air to prove his point and Ray rescues his glass just in time. "Well, I got edge," Kowalski adds, with a sly glance at Vecchio. "You, you lost your edge about 20 pounds of donuts ago."

"Would it kill you to finish a thought without some random tangent kidnapping you and taking you off to la-la land?" says Ray sliding his hand up Kowalski's neck to hit him upside the back of his head.

Kowalski gives Ray a real look then. Straightens up, and turns and takes Ray's hand in full view of God and the bartender and says, "They don't- They get it now, see? That we're, you know, you and me, me and you, tag team champions, the whole burrito. We're not some abomination before their freaking Lord. We're not devils, we're just Rays. Just us."

Ray should have, like, a million comebacks to this, but strangely he can't seem to think of a single one.

"And that's why we should get married?"

"Well that, and now we can get personalized shot glasses at MLB prices."

"You think we should get married for merchandising? "

"Easiest gift list ever, am I right?"

"You're not right in the head," says Vecchio, absently, his mind unhelpfully flinging up images of Kowalski in a bridal gown, the guests either horrified (the Catholics) or in hysterics (everyone else). He hadn't ever planned on getting married again. He hadn't exactly planned on falling in love with a crazy lunatic cop with more twitches than Cousin Waldo with the Tourette's (and possessing approximately 100% more penis than Ray was used to) either. It had been a strange few years.

"You will, though, yeah?"

"What?"

"Marry me."

Ray squeezes Kowalski's hand. "I don't know," he says and pretends it doesn't hurt like a kick in the head when Kowalski's face falls.

Nothing happens after that. Kowalski doesn't have the nervous breakdown of insecurity that Ray was expecting, they don't fight, they don't stop having sex. No one moves into the guest room. Life just...continues. And if Ray starts to feel like there's some tiny thing that's not quite right, that's setting him off-center, then that's his problem.

And then, a couple of weeks later, the packages start to arrive. First, it's shot glasses. Ray weighs them, heavy in his hand. "Rays," he says. "Now with added sparkle." He thinks there maybe irony involved--at least, that's the expression he's putting into his smile.

"Oh," says Kowalski, breezing into the room, pulling a bottle from his pocket. "Lucky coincidence I bought this bourbon, isn't it?" He takes the shot glasses from Ray, uncaps the bottle and pours a couple of shots. "Here," he says. Ray narrows his eyes and takes a glass. "Your health," says Kowalski, raising his shot glass, looking Ray straight in the eye and knocking it back.

Ray shrugs and joins him.

The next morning the bourbon bottle is two-thirds empty, the shot glasses are clean and put away and Ray's head is beating out a rhythm bearing a disturbing resemblance to the salsa Kowalski's always trying to teach him.

"If you want, I can turn it down," says Kowalski, waving a remote in the general direction of the stereo.

"Very funny," says Ray and stumbles to the medicine cabinet.

The next thing to arrive is a clock. The face is a picture of a baseball with the Rays logo plastered all over it. Kowalski insists they hang it in the kitchen. Ray tries arguing but gets nowhere. He's used to that.

"Time's a-wastin'," says Kowalski, grinning down at Ray from his vantage point on the counter. "Now pass me that hammer."

Ray does not derive any satisfaction from the predictable thumb-smash. Nor does he spend long minutes waiting for the morning coffee to drip through staring at the clock. No sir.

The third thing is the shirts. Inevitable Rays logo on the front, the backs read Kowalski 01 and Vecchio 42.

"Why am I 42?" asks Vecchio.

"Um, 'cause," says Kowalski, unable to meet his eyes, "It means you're the answer."

"To what?"

"Everything."

Ray's heart clunks in his chest and it's like the world has reset, shifted back into place. He doesn't deserve the 42, it belongs to Kowalski. And you know what?, he thinks. It kinda already does.

He struggles into the shirt and grabs Kowalski around the waist. "Okay," he says, "you got me. I am the answer and the answer is yes. Happy now?" He's going for snark but misses by a mile.

"Yeah," Kowalski curves long fingers around Vecchio's skull. "Thank fuck I didn't have to buy the glass lamp."

"Put it on the wedding list," says Ray and leans in to kiss his fiancé.


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