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Aug. 25th, 2007 @ 06:49 pm Things that are Wrong
Cosmic!Rays AU, Part 21

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9 | Part 10 | Part 11 | Part 12 | Part 13 | Part 14 | Part 15 | Part 16 | Part 17 | Part 18 | Part 19 | Part 20

There were better ways to wake up than the sudden sensation of twenty or so layers being ripped from your skin. There were better ways to wake up than seeing the guy you'd swapped body fluids with the night before dragging himself away from you without even a good morning grunt. Ray was prepared to give some thought to those better ways but what with the stinging skin and Vecchio's towel-covered ass on its way out the door he was having trouble with thinking beyond the now.

"Where you going?" he asked, his voice coming out a little more gruff than he'd been expecting.

Vecchio turned and smiled.

"Just going for a shower, numbnuts. It may have escaped your notice but there were some shenanigans occurring here last night that have left us in a noticeable state of disarray. There's probably a Processing regulation says we can't be seen if we don't adhere to hygiene rules six through forty-two. Let's not give them the pleasure, eh?"

Ray raised himself up on one elbow and looked around wildly.

"There were shenanigans? Here? Dammit, I always wanted to catch one of those in the wild. Promised Ma she could make a pillow out of the skin."

Vecchio snorted and walked back to the bed, leaning down to drop a kiss on Ray's hair and nimbly stepping out of the way as Ray took advantage of his proximity to try to attempt towel removal. Damn, thought Ray as his hand succeeded in only brushing over the fabric, that would have been one of the better ways to wake up.

"Not now, Kowalski," said Vecchio and there was something in his voice that wasn't quite right.

Ray let his gaze snap upwards from where it was resting on the subtle shifting of Vecchio's towel. Vecchio smiled but didn't meet his eyes and then was gone. Ray let himself fall back, slamming his head on the pillow. Last night: hot sex with the residue to prove it. This morning: a kiss and the brush off. Was Vecchio going through buyer's remorse? Had Ray pushed him too far too fast? Why did it matter? And wasn't Ray supposed to be feeling like he was betraying Fraser's memory or something? Why wasn't he?

There were better ways to wake up than thinking yourself to death. Ray stopped thinking.


Frannie came along with the two men to Processing. To keep them company, she said. Vecchio had pointed out that there would be lots of hanging around in corridors but she stayed firm. She was coming and that was that. Vecchio didn't put up much of a fight. Ray wondered if that was because Vecchio wanted Frannie standing in between him and Ray. Frannie's motives he couldn't figure either. There was definitely something going on with her, the way her eyes kept straying to her brother and then skittering away when Ray caught her at it.

Reaching the Processing Service Reception again, Ray could see real people moving behind the glass, going about their daily business. Vecchio's fingers drummed on the counter.

"So help me god they better let me talk to one of those and not another hologram or you might have to find me a cell somewhere in here."

"Chill out, Vecchio," said Ray. "You'll pop an aneurysm and then Frannie'll have to tell your Ma and I got no good suit for your funeral."

Vecchio took a deep breath and pressed the buzzer. A smiling, rosy-cheeked girl appeared at the window.

"What are you? Twelve?" Vecchio blurted out. Ray grimaced. Way to get off on the right foot.

The girl stopped smiling.

"No, sir. I am not. How may I help you this morning?"

"I'm sorry," Vecchio apologized in his smoothest voice. "That was inappropriate and unprofessional. It's that flawless skin of yours, gives an ageless impression."

Ray saw a simper. The girl actually simpered. He leant up against the counter, back to the screen, elbows resting on the cold metal. If that happened to mean his arm touched Vecchio's then it was all purely accidental, wasn't it? Vecchio shot Ray a look that was a mixture of confused and amused.

"We came in last night. Got a prisoner in over-night custody. Frank Zuko? He needs to be Processed."

Ray noticed that Vecchio was just using his regular amount of smooth now. That was better.

There was a moment's quiet where Ray figured the girl was doing something. He waggled his eyebrows at Frannie who stuck her tongue out in return.

"Boring," she mouthed.

Ray shrugged. She'd been warned.

"Ah, yes, sir. I see him here. It appears that Mr. Zuko spent a quiet night in his cell. You'll need to fill out your arrest report before he can be screened and interrogated. You'll find everything you need in the room three doors down on the right. My name is Hally and it has been a pleasure to serve you today. If you need further assistance, please do not hesitate to ask."

"Thank you so much, Hally." Vecchio slapped the counter with his palms. "We'll get straight on that."

Ray pushed himself off the counter, following Vecchio down the corridor. Frannie nudged him and mouthed 'it has been a pleasure to serve', pursing her lips and batting her eyelashes. Ray grinned and put his hand under his chin, doing his best wide-eyed, blushing girl routine.

"Don't hesitate to ask," he mouthed back.

They both dissolved into giggles. Vecchio rounded on them.

"This isn't school!" he yelled. "Will you for one second take this damn thing seriously?" He stared at Frannie. "This is Zuko." And then at Ray. "This is Volpe. Do you not get that this is important? What part of this exactly is fun and games?" He flung his arms in the air in a passionate gesture of disbelief.

And then Ray was crowding him up against the wall. Vecchio did not get the monopoly on righteousness here. He did not get the monopoly on freaking out.

"It's called relieving the tension," he growled, hand twisted in Vecchio's shirt. "It's called escape. It's called finding a way not to split apart because the guy in the cell down the hall shot your partner in the back when he was fucking you. Frannie's got her own reasons. You do not get to sit on the moral high ground and judge us. You do not."

Vecchio's face twisted and his hand came up – Ray could have sworn it was headed to his face – and settled on Ray's shoulder.

"You're right. Too much tension. The sooner this is done the better. Let's go do those reports."

Ray relaxed his grip and took a step back, smoothing down the creases in Vecchio's shirt without thinking about it. He caught Frannie's secret smile and chose to ignore it.

"I hate reports."

"Shame. They always speak highly of you." Vecchio opened the door. "Frannie? After you."

Ray really did hate reports. But they turned out to be the least of their problems. And Vecchio turned out to be really, really good at yelling.

"What do you mean we can't interrogate him?!" Vecchio yelled at a tall, angular man who pushed a hand anxiously through his hair in the face of Vecchio's bombardment.

Ray slumped in a chair in the office they had been assigned, Frannie standing behind him, hands on his shoulders. This had been going on for some time now. Vecchio had sent pleasure-to-serve-Hally off in tears and this new guy, her supervisor Ray assumed, had come in to take the flak.

"I'm sorry, sir. As Miss Temoc has already explained, we have experts on board who will be carrying out the interrogation. Those are rules stipulated in Contingency Law for cases of presumed treason."

"It's our case." Vecchio was nothing if not stubborn.

Ray trod the fence here. He wasn't sure if he could trust himself to interrogate Volpe without doing some serious damage to him but this was their case and Vecchio seemed to really want it.

"Your involvement in the case was terminated when you signed your arrest report. The latest update to the COPS Procedure Manual details these changes to law."

"Yeah? Well, excuse me if I'm too busy catching the bad guys to read up on the bureaucratic bullshit."

"I'm sorry, sir." The man clasped his hands behind his back, rising on his toes and dropping again. Ray thought he looked like a little kid trying to placate an angry parent. "These are the rules. There can be no exceptions. We will keep you informed as best we can, though anything that may be considered a risk to System Security will, of course, be classified."

"Of course," said Vecchio, getting very quiet. "Of fucking course." He looked towards Ray and his eyes were cold. Frannie's hands tightened on Ray's shoulders.

The man cleared his throat.

"Mr. Kowalski will be required to provide a statement regarding Mr. Zuko's involvement in the death of ELEO Fraser."

"You can talk to him direct, you know. I don't take five percent off the top."

The man flinched a little and turned to Ray.

"You will be-"

"Required yadda yadda, I heard you the first time."

So this was it. The whole closure thing. Felt more like a kick in the head. Or a knife in the gut. Frannie's hands slipped off as Ray stood up.

"Now's good for me." He turned to Vecchio. "You'll be here? Right?"

Vecchio gave a sharp nod which didn't make Ray feel any better. But then, as Ray passed him on his way out Vecchio reached out and momentarily laid a hand on his arm, which did. Ray braced his shoulders.

Time to shine.

Part 22
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the riviera
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Date:August 26th, 2007 04:28 am (UTC)
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You make me a very happy girl.
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Date:August 26th, 2007 10:04 am (UTC)
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