Oh, The Places You'll Go

Restoration: What's Lost Is Found

Notes: When I told primroseburrows absolutely no sequel to Push and Push and Push Till It Hurts, what I meant was oh, it's the first part in a trilogy. Um. Didn't set out to be that way, but I was inspired to sign up for vecchiofest at Live Journal and the prompt slotted in nicely as a third part. So then I needed a second. This is it. Third part due on November 15th. Beta'd by lordessrenegade, bless her for that.


It's the morning. Ray knows this because his curtains suck at meeting in the middle and a beam of light crosses his face, warming his cheek. He swipes at it, hoping to scare it away like a bug. This fails to work and Ray smacks his cheek in the process. He laughs, and sits up in bed, scooching forward so the beam falls behind him. Stretching, hands on kidneys, arching backwards, Ray cracks his spine then swings his legs out of bed. The floorboards are cool under his feet. He's halfway across the living room, doing a tip-tapping dance shuffle, arms raised tight to chest, one-two boxer style, before he thinks what the fuck? Because he's Ray Kowalski and if there's one thing Ray Kowalski never does it's wake up easy.

Shit, he thinks, catching himself whistling as he fills the coffee machine, Vecchio would not believe this. He's right. Ray's usually subhuman until the first coffee has been followed by a second. Vecchio's had to pick him up early enough times to be only too aware of this fact. On the days when they really have to be up and at 'em, Vecchio's taken to keeping a flask of Ma Vecchio's freshly made Italian roast in the Riv to make sure Ray gets enough caffeine in his bloodstream to be able to function at something approximating normality, Vecchio says.

Ray grins and shimmies from the machine to the fridge. He pulls out a carton of milk, sniffing at it. It's good. Greatness. He finds cereal, a bowl and a spoon. Putting them all together he has the miracle that is breakfast. He's on his third mouthful when he remembers that he hates breakfast. That cereal is supposed to be for dinner. On non-pizza days. Gotta have a balanced diet. Or so Vecchio says. Vecchio's always on at him to at least try something green. He's such a woman.

Dumping the dishes in the sink – because there's always later, right? – Ray heads off to the shower, quick, quick, slow. The water pounds on his head, he's feeling good and he finds himself humming some random happy ditty. He catches himself at it. He has no idea what it is, must be from the crappy station Vecchio's always got on in the Riv; no way is it cool enough to come from the Kowalski collection. He bends his head forward, lets the water roll down his back, down the crack of his ass. Feels good. He gives his dick a squeeze. It seems to like that. Shame there's no time. Gotta get to the good old 2-7. Good? Old? What the fuck? He turns off the water.

He checks himself in the bedroom mirror before he leaves the apartment, pushes his hand through his hair, trying to give the blond spikes just the right appearance of random. He spares a second to think how stupid that is, then looks himself up and down. He's put a bit of weight back on these past months, but no one's ever going to mistake him for the Pillsbury Dough Boy. He's wearing his uniform: jeans, T, leather jacket. He tugs at the silver ring on the little finger of his left hand. It's gotten tight and now it's uncomfortable. Ray pulls it off with a grunt and drops it on the chest of drawers. He checks his hand, there's still a ring there, a pale band of skin. It'll disappear soon, he knows. Thinks about how quickly the band on Vecchio's long finger faded after his divorce was finalised. Only jewellery Vecchio wears these days is a small St. Anthony medallion. Ray picks up his glasses, accidentally knocking the ring down the back of the drawers. He doesn't bother to pick it up.

In the GTO he's got the radio blaring on some alt-rock station and they're having a classic hour. He's Rocking the Kasbah for all he's worth and not thinking about how he's old enough to prefer the classic hour to the rest of the can't-make-up-its-mind-what-it-wants-to-be crap that's churned out by the oil barrel load these days. Fucking waste of plastic, most of it. He's weaving his way through Chicago rush hour traffic, putting his middle finger to good use and thinking about what he's gonna do. There's the strange case of the missing books: libraries and bookshops all over the city are reporting thefts. But only books about Catholicism seem to be taken. Vecchio thinks it's fucking hilarious. Wants to know if any of the books are about confession. Whatever, thinks Ray, it's gonna be a good day. He has no idea how he knows this, he just knows.

Out of the corner of his eye, he catches a flash of red and it dawns on him. That's why today is different. Today he didn't wake up thinking about him. Ray waits for the familiar lurch of the stomach. It doesn't come. Huh. Whadda you know? He realises that he hasn't thought so much about him lately. Vecchio was right. What he'd said all that time ago, he was right. It didn't matter so much anymore. He tests himself. Says his name loud and clear, pushes at the bruise. OK, so it's still tender, but in that good way. The way that reminds you you're still alive. Fuck. Ray can hardly believe it. He's grinning so hard his cheeks are hurting. Gotta tell Vecchio he was right, he thinks. Though it'll get him another told you so. He rolls his eyes. Vecchio knows that'll just push his buttons. They'll probably fight about it all day. Ray shrugs. Arguing with Vecchio. It's just part of the natural way of things, you know?

He's been in the station house maybe two minutes when he figures out that Vecchio's not there. He checks his cell. No messages. Nada. Where the fuck is he? There's this odd sensation he can't quite figure. Maybe he's annoyed. He's good at that.

"Kowalski!" yells Welsh, hanging half out of his office. "A word."

"Chief," Ray saunters over, hands shoved in pockets, because the world is still OK, isn't it?

"You're on your own today, Kowalski," says Welsh. "We had a call about the O'Donnell gang. Had to get straight on it. I sent Vecchio and Sherman as they were the only two detectives who had bothered to get their asses in here on time! No way of telling how long this is gonna take. Hours, days. You should maybe concentrate on the book thing."

"The book thing? Ah, Chief."

"You just have to find 'em, Kowalski; you don't have to read 'em. That is, assuming you can read."

"Har-de-har har, Lieutenant." Ray thinks of something and now he is definitely annoyed.

"Fuck," he says. "Vecchio and me got tickets for the Cubs game tonight. He's not gonna make it, is he?"

"I would say the probability is nearing zero." Welsh shakes his head and shuts the door, with Ray on the outside. Ray's face twists, he's pissed, he wants to see this game, Cubs are on a winning streak. Fucking Vecchio, he thinks. He shoulda called. Asswipe. There's a low settling in his stomach. Like after a meal at the Vecchio house, only without the satisfaction of a belly well filled.

The day passes. Ray thinks he's caught a break on the book case. He needs the new Citizen's Aid's help. She's even more of a ditz than Frannie and giggles every time he says book case. Thinking it through, Ray decides that he may need to rethink the naming thing. He stays late. No point in heading out. He's at Dionne's desk when there's this whole brouhaha. Vecchio and Sherman are making their way larger than life through the bullpen, each one manhandling a red headed, pasty-faced, wannabe hard man. There's lots of yelling and yeah-your-mother's and Sherman's chest to chest with his Irishman, jabbing his finger in his face. Vecchio's frog-marching his towards the interrogation room when Ray catches his eye. Vecchio nods, Mr. Professional, here to do a job.

"You know what time it is?" Ray asks.

Vecchio narrows his eyes, then opens them wide as he gets the question.

"Ah, shit! The Cubs. Sorry, Kowalski, but …"

"Yeah, yeah," says Ray, sliding off Dionne's desk, hitting the ground with more of a thud than he'd expected. "Fuck it. I'm going home."

An hour later, Ray is standing round the back of the station house, leaning on the wall, Marlboro in his mouth. He lifts his hand to the cigarette, takes a long drag, then grinds it out and throws the butt onto the ground. It lies there with several of its friends. The door swings open and Vecchio steps out. It's dark and he doesn't see Ray, so when Ray taps him on the elbow, he jumps.

"The fuck?!" He's all bristles until he sees who it is and then Ray watches him visibly relax. "I thought you were going home. I believe the words were 'Fuck it.'"

Ray decides to ignore this attempt to rile him.

"Want a beer?"

Vecchio cocks his head to one side, considering.

"You were waitin' for me, Kowalski?"

Ray shrugs.

"Yeah. Fuck knows why. You want a beer or not?"

"We could catch the last couple innings over at Taylor's, or wherever."

"How about my apartment?" Ray's watching Vecchio and he can see he doesn't get it. He's still working the O'Donnell case in his head.

"Sure," says Vecchio, "we could have a coupla beers. Been a long day."

Ray's stomach does this twisty thing. It's been a while. Feels odd, but good.

"You coming with me, or following in the Riv?"

"The Riv. You think I'm risking my neck driving with you when I don't have to?" Ray gives Vecchio a little shove towards his car.

"Shut up, Vecchio," he says. Smiling.

Ray drives like the devil's at his heels, same as always. He makes it back to the apartment in time to rinse the dishes from earlier, kick his dirty laundry under the bed, yank the comforter over the sheets before Vecchio arrives. He doesn't stop to think about why he would need to tidy his bedroom. It's not like Vecchio ever goes in there. There's a knock on the door.

"'S open," Ray yells from his position on the sofa, TV blaring, beer in hand. Vecchio comes in, jerks his head in greeting, takes off his jacket and hangs it on the row of hooks Ray's got next to the door. He sighs as he slumps next to Ray on the sofa, legs splayed, holding out his hand for the beer Ray's already got opened for him. He takes a long drink. So does Ray. They watch the game for a little while. Cubs are kicking ass. The part of Ray that's a fan is happy about this. The part of Ray that's an awkward son-of-a-bitch wishes they weren't playing so well, seeing as how he never got to be there. If he thinks about this, it means he doesn't have to think about how it feels like ants are crawling inside his skin. How the heat coming off Vecchio is hitting him in waves, making him hyper-aware of how close they're sitting on the sofa. No one has said anything in a long while. Ray wants to break the silence, it's driving him nuts, but he doesn't know what to say. He opens his mouth anyway.

"So," he says.

"So," says Vecchio, and Ray's looking straight at the TV but he knows Vecchio's turned his head and is looking at him.

"We shoulda been there." He gestures with his beer at the screen. He means Wrigley Field, not the shower with the soapy girl in it that's just appeared in the commercial break. He figures Vecchio will understand.

"Yeah," says Vecchio on a long outward breath, and Ray hopes he understands.

"But Welsh had you working OT."

"Yeah, fuckin' Irish mob wannabes." Vecchio isn't looking at him anymore. Ray's not sure he likes that.

"But I hung around for you anyway." And now his mouth has its own motor, fucked if he knows what's gonna come out next.

"Yeah. Thanks," Vecchio says. "I needed a quiet night. Tony and Maria are at each other again. It's like world fuckin' war three at our house. Gotta get my own place or, swear to god, someone's gonna wind up dead. Or maimed. Or, you know, seriously irritated."

Ray doesn't crack a smile. The ants have brought their cousins to have a party in his skin, but Vecchio isn't getting it. Dumb fuck. Calls himself a detective. What does he need – a fucking neon sign? Hello! It's collection time! He tries again.

"Let's recap, Vecchio. This morning I woke up and I was singing some dumb song happy happy sky sky in the shower. Pretty sure I picked it up from YOUR favourite crappy station. We were supposed to be seeing the CUBS TOGETHER. But you couldn't make it, which SUCKED. I coulda gone home but I WAITED OUTSIDE for you. Right?" He turns to meet Vecchio's gaze. Vecchio is looking puzzled, those dark eyebrows pulled down low, and slightly alarmed.

"Yeah, I know that, Kowalski. Why are you talking in capital letters?"

Ray just looks at him. He's done his best. Now he's just willing him to make the fucking leap already. Don't make me say it, Vecchio, he thinks. Vecchio looks back and looks back and Ray's nerves have gone from frayed to fried and he's about to jump up and say 'fergedaboudit' but Vecchio's face changes. His eyes widen, his lips part.

"Oh," he says.

And, "How long?"

"Long enough," shrugs Ray and hopes he isn't blushing like some fucking school girl.

"Oh," says Vecchio again, and his lips curve in that lop-sided smile. He takes hold of the beer bottle in Ray's hand and places it side by side with his own on the table top.

"It don't matter so much anymore?" his voice is low and serious.

"Barely matters at all." Ray's still not entirely sure this is the truth, but he calls it as he sees it.

Vecchio is still waiting. Yeah, thinks Ray. Fair enough, he needs proof. I'll give him proof. He leans in, and finds Vecchio's lips, warm and waiting. He's not surprised that they're soft; he already knows Vecchio's a fucking woman who carries round a chapstick. Maybe another time he'll crack a joke about it, but right now he's too busy being surprised by the intense zigzag of electricity from his lips straight to his dick. He wasn't expecting – he shifts a little, he's trapped kinda awkward. It works: his dick thanks him. He's not sure what he was expecting, but he wasn't expecting this. And while his brain is stunned his body is doing what it usually does, ignoring him and getting the fuck on with it, and when he catches up, he finds that he's scrambled across the couch and he's half-sitting in Vecchio's lap, one hand wrapped around his neck for support, one yanking Vecchio's shirt out of his pants, tongue exploring Vecchio's mouth like Ray's turned into Marco fucking Mentos or whatever the fuck.

Vecchio's hands are loose on Ray's hips, thumbs tucking into the waistband of Ray's jeans. He's leaning back and Ray's following so now he's half-lying on Vecchio's chest and one thumb is joined by several fingers. Ray feels Vecchio's hand slide round behind his hip, then start to head downwards over his ass. There's a low buzz, Ray thinks his whole body must be vibrating with it. Ray runs his own hand up the inside of Vecchio's shirt, the skin, hair and bone under his fingertips setting up a rhythm in his head, soft, soft, hard, soft, soft, hard. He finds a nipple, circles it with a thumb, swallows Vecchio's groan, makes it his own.

Vecchio's head is tipping further backwards, his neck is stretched out and Ray has this sudden urge to taste it. With a final suck and a nip that promises so much more, he drags their lips apart. Bends his head, puts his nose against the hollow of Vecchio's neck and inhales. Just breathes him in. Once, twice, ticking off the ingredients, sweat, musk, cologne, the vague smell of coffee that Vecchio always seems to wear, no matter what. Ray lifts his head a little, replaces his nose with his tongue. Leaves it there, flat against the skin, pulse beating through them both, tastes what he has smelled. Vecchio is saying something, his voice deep and almost indistinguishable, Ray can feel the hum through his tongue and it's like he's saying it.

He's saying, "Ray."

He jerks his head up, meets Vecchio's eyes, black, shining, alive. He did not just say that.

"Ray," Vecchio says again, louder this time, but his voice is still warm molasses and Ray thinks he might be going mad because Vecchio has never – not once – called him Ray. And he may not be the sharpest tool in the, whatever, Christmas tree, but he knows what that means. So he looks at Vecchio and waits for what comes next. Maybe his hand is trailing down from Vecchio's nipple to an as yet unknown destination points south, but he's paying attention. Really.

Vecchio's tongue comes out to lick his lower lip. Must be a nervous habit because with all the mouth to mouth that's been going on, it's not like he's short on drool. Ray's finger is circling Vecchio's navel now, finding the exit at 6 o'clock, a neat pathway of hair on the highway to. Knock, knock, knock, thinks Ray, and begins to work at the button on Vecchio's fly.

"Can we?" Vecchio starts, one hand fluttering against Ray's hip. Ray blinks at him, waiting.

"Can we, um, take this to the bedroom?" Ray frowns briefly. What's with the guy?

"Sure," he says, unconvinced.

Vecchio's thigh muscles tighten under Ray. Loin girding is going on. There's more to come.

"It's not … there's nothing wrong with making out on the sofa. Making out on the sofa I am good with. Good!" Vecchio's hand has left Ray's hip and is gesticulating in the air. Ray wonders if it would be rude to grab it back, he's never liked the cold.

"It's just that. Sheesh! I wanna do this right, OK? I want it to matter." And just like that Ray gets exactly where he's coming from and stops fidgeting with Vecchio's button long enough to smack himself in the head.

"I know," he says. "And it does." He disentangles himself, stands up, holds out his hand. "Ray?" he says.

Vecchio is naked in Ray's bed, olive skin on white – no, strike that – grey sheets. His thighs feel solid. Real. Ray is hunched between them, his mouth wrapped around Vecchio's cock. Took one look at it and knew where he had to be. He's rubbing the cock head over the roof of his mouth and letting his tongue find its way along the ridges of its shaft. He's steadying himself with one hand against Vecchio's ribcage, the other is cupping Vecchio's balls, middle finger extended, rubbing the skin that marks no man's land. My land now, thinks Ray, as Vecchio shakes and moans. And then he almost chokes on Vecchio's cock because he's fucking happy. With Vecchio. The bitchy, touchy, wannabe clothes horse, Italian not-enough-hair-to-be-a-Stallion. Vecchio.

Ray doesn't even try to understand it, just rolls with it. And it's been so long that he's fucked anyone with, with – fuck it – with joy, that his breathing gets all messed up and he has to let go, come up for air. And there's Vecchio, crucified below him, St Anthony caught on his Adam's apple, watching Ray pant and hiccup, and then Vecchio's ribcage begins to shake and his white teeth flash and he's laughing. It's taken a while – it's taken a fuck of a long time – but Ray knows that Vecchio's laughing with him, not at him and so his reaction is not to pop him in the head, but to belly-flop him like some over-'roided wrestler.

Vecchio's breath comes out of him in an "Oof," but he recovers quickly, grabbing Ray's precisely-random spikes with one hand and his ass with the other. He wraps a leg round one of Ray's and twists until he's on top on all fours, and his cock, still wet from Ray's mouth is trailing a line down Ray's belly. Ray squirms underneath him, trying to direct Vecchio's aim. Vecchio, god bless him, takes the hint, and his cock slides slowly, slowly down over Ray's. Ray's eyes roll in his head. It's good. And up it slides again. Real good. But Ray needs something more. Vecchio is too far away. He needs to be closer. Ray reaches for him, hooks the chain of the St. Anthony, tugs.

"I'm not your fucking dog, Kowalski," growls Vecchio. Ray grins.

"Maybe not, but I'm gonna make you my bitch," he says and lifts his head, trying to find Vecchio's lips.

"You wish," says Vecchio, shoving Ray's head back onto the pillow and following it with his own. His body is plastered over Ray's, making the most of every square inch of skin. He's clasping Ray's hands, bending their arms up above Ray's head. His thumb is rubbing the little finger of Ray's left hand over and over as his mouth tries to be everywhere at once. He's grinding his hips into Ray's and the friction of skin, hair and flesh, soft, soft, hard over Ray's dick is making Ray writhe. Ray frees one hand, licks it, forces it into the no-space between them, takes them both in hand. Vecchio moves off a few millimetres, giving him room to work. Hot, hard flesh against hot hard flesh.

Ray starts easy, finds his rhythm: it's like dancing, like boxing, rhythm's the one thing he's always got. They're both worked up now, slippery with pre-come and they're not small guys. Ray wants to go faster, but he can't figure out how to keep them together. Vecchio seems to get this, because he's releasing Ray's other hand, holding his in front of Ray's mouth. Ray licks it and Vecchio's fingers entwine with Ray's, because two hands are always better than one. It takes them a few strokes to get it together, but they do and they they're flying. Vecchio's mouth and eyes are getting rounder as Ray watches him, sees him closing in on the edge. He looks too stunned to speak and Ray thinks this is funny, so he starts to laugh. He thinks he must be high or something, because he can't remember the last time he found something so hot and so funny at the same time.

Looks like Vecchio's high too, right there with him, yet again, because he's laughing this low, throaty chuckle. Grinning right into Ray's eyes. And you'd think it would shake their rhythm, knock them out of the game, but it doesn't. Because they are good together, Ray and Ray, and it works. Ray's free hand finds Vecchio's ass, strokes down the crack of it, once, twice, three times, getting deeper with each stroke, then pushes a finger in. The laugh changes to a grimace on Vecchio's face – the good kind. Ray strokes down with his finger on the upward swing of their hands. It doesn't take much before Ray feels warm liquid splashing his fingers as Vecchio gasps out, "Ray. Fuck."

"Maybe tomorrow," Ray gets out before Vecchio's lips meet his and then, as Vecchio laughs into his mouth, Ray comes, hard and long, body juddering with the shock of it. He kind of loses the ability to co-ordinate for a while after that, lies there, Vecchio's weight half on, half off.

"You like that, huh?" Vecchio says after their hearts have stopped pounding out a flamenco beat.

"3 point basket on the buzzer," says Ray. Vecchio raises himself on one elbow. He looks at Ray, and Ray looks back, keeping himself as open as he can. Vecchio must see what he wants because he bends down and gives Ray this long, slow, sensuous kiss that sets off peaks of excitement in places that should still be flat-lining.

"Fuck," says Ray as Vecchio pulls away.

"Maybe tomorrow," says Vecchio, and ducks before Ray can swipe him across the head.

***

It's the morning. Ray knows this because his curtains suck at meeting in the middle and a beam of light crosses his face, warming his cheek. He screws up his eyes, sleep-fuddled. Someone's moving around, shuffling, stopping, starting again. They must be looking for something. Ray cracks open his eyelids, sees Vecchio bending down, ass naked, looking under the drawers. Asleep, awake, whatever, this gets his stomach lurching and his dick perks up. Vecchio crouches down, head close to the floor and reaches under the drawers. He smiles, then frowns. He pulls out his boxers, then reaches back under, face pressed up against the drawer front. Ray's more interested in the way the muscles in Vecchio's back move under his skin as he stretches out. Then Vecchio sits up on his haunches, hand open, palm up in front of him. Ray can see a thousand expressions crossing his face at once. Vecchio rubs his St. Anthony between finger and thumb, tightens his lips. Whadda you know? Guy's a detective after all. Ray's stomach lurches again.

Vecchio stands up, pulls on his boxers, crosses to the bed where Ray is making an Oscar performance out of being asleep. Ray hears a tiny click and then Vecchio padding away. He opens his eyes. The silver ring is there on the table, next to the alarm clock. Ray's eyes are wide open now. A few minutes later, when Vecchio comes back with two mugs of coffee, putting one down by Ray's head, the ring is gone. Vecchio slides back into bed, wrapping his cooling body round Ray's warm one, one hand greeting Ray's hard-on with a friendly tug.

"Coffee," says Vecchio. "With, like fifteen million Smarties. Just the way you like it. Freak."

"'S early," mumbles Ray.

"I know," says Vecchio. "Figured an early cup of coffee might help you … get a jumpstart on the day." He pauses. "But maybe you didn't need it." He tugs Ray's dick again and mouths the back of his neck. Ray hears the unspoken question behind the words. Vecchio's not the only detective in the room. He turns round to face him, looks him in the eye then kisses him, answering him the only way he knows how.


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