Turtle Eclipse of the Heart
Disclaimer: These characters aren't mine and I am making no money off this.
Author's Notes: Inspired by greensilver's birthday trip to the zoo. Beta'd by snoopypez and mrs_laugh_track.
"Hey, uh, Fraser--can I ask you a question? About Kowalski?"
"You can always ask, Ray."
"But you might not tell me, huh?"
"I might not know."
"Okay, fine, I, uh. Look, don't tell him I asked you this, okay?"
"If you don't want me to, Ray."
"I don't." Ray took a deep breath. "So Kowalski, does he like guys?"
There was a long, long pause, and then Fraser said tentatively, "Well, he and I always got along well--well, perhaps not always, but generally--and he seemed fond of Lieutenant Welsh--"
Ray ran a jittery hand over his head. "Not like that, Fraser! I mean does he like guys! Does he sleep with them?"
"Oh. I--do you have any particular reason for asking this question, Ray?"
"What do you think, Fraser?"
"I don't know, Ray," Fraser said. It sounded like he was smiling. "That's why I'm asking."
"Have it your way, Fraser. I'm asking because I want to ask him out. On a date. And I'd rather I didn't end up with my teeth through the back of my throat, thank you very much."
"You want to ask Ray Kowalski out on a date," Fraser repeated carefully.
"Got it in one, Fraser."
"Ray," Fraser said, even more carefully, "I--so have the two of you been getting along better, then?"
"Not really," Ray said cheerfully. "I'm pretty sure all that hostility is just sublimated attraction, though."
"You really think he hates me, huh?"
"Of course not, Ray. I simply wonder if--"
Ray wasn't sure why he even tried to date anymore. Maybe he should just give up and figure he'd be godfather to Fraser's kids when Fraser got around to having them. "His turtle hates me too," he confided. "Today when I tried to pick it up, it scratched me so hard I'm still bleeding."
"Perhaps you startled him, Ray. Turtles are quick to feel threatened."
Ray laughed. "Kinda like Kowalski, huh?"
"The parallels have occurred to me," Fraser said. That was definitely a smile. "Maybe next time you should bring him a few live crickets or a tomato."
"What would Kowalski do with live crickets?"
"I meant the turtle, Ray."
"I was joking, Benny, Jesus. But you know something? You're right. I've gotta win over his turtle."
"You do? Why?"
"It'll be a sign. If I can get the turtle to like me, that means Kowalski might go out with me."
"Ray, I'm not sure--oh, never mind."
Ray dumped his coat on the couch and headed over to the tank by the window. "Hey Turtle," he said. "I got you some strawberries and heirloom tomatoes at the farmers' market today."
Turtle retreated into his shell at the sound of Ray's voice. This plan wasn't working. It had been two weeks and about a hundred dollars in bugs and produce and Turtle hated him as much as ever.
"Heirloom tomatoes," Kowalski muttered. "Dumbest name on earth."
Kowalski hated him as much as ever too, apparently. "I'm sure your turtle really cares what they're called, Kowalski."
"It doesn't make sense," Kowalski insisted. "Old is good for furniture, not vegetables."
"Jeez, what is your problem?"
The phone rang. Kowalski didn't answer it. Ray had been over to Kowalski's place every night that week and every night the phone had rung at least once, and Kowalski never answered it. Ray'd asked who was calling, but Kowalski was so annoyed by the question that after the first couple days Ray had given up.
Eventually the ringing stopped. Then Ray's phone rang.
"Leave it," Kowalski said urgently.
Ray glared at him. "Look, you don't want to answer your own phone, fine. But this could be my mother calling."
"Wow, you live an exciting life, Vecchio. Wouldn't want to miss a call from your mom!"
"Fuck you, Kowalski." He flipped open his phone. "Vecchio here."
"Hello, Ray, this is--"
"Hey Benny, what's up?"
Kowalski groaned. What the hell was going on with the guy? Had that been Fraser calling all week? Kowalski was avoiding Fraser?
"Ray, is that Ray Kowalski I hear?"
"Yeah, he's right here, you want to talk to him?"
Kowalski's head shot up and he began to shake it frantically, waving his arms in the international sign for SAY I'M IN THE SHOWER!
"That would be wonderful, Ray, thank you."
Ray held the phone out. Kowalski glared. "Look, Kowalski, I'm not gonna be in the middle of whatever the hell this is. You don't want to talk to Fraser, tell him yourself."
"Fine, I will!" Kowalski grabbed the phone and headed into the bedroom, hunching his head down and slamming the door behind him.
Ray went into the kitchen and started cutting the tomatoes in turtle-bite-sized pieces, eavesdropping shamelessly. Kowalski started out soft enough Ray couldn't hear him, but that didn't last long. He'd only cut up two tomatoes when Kowalski yelled, "What part of me not answering your calls makes you think I want to talk to you?" and then "No you cannot stay with me if you come to Chicago for a visit, Fraser! You got a lot of nerve!" A couple seconds of silence, and then the sound of a crash. Well, shit.
"You asshole, you better not have broken my phone," Ray yelled, already mentally filling out a requisition form for another one. He gathered up his pieces of tomato and headed for Turtle's tank. He was easing the lid off with one hand when Kowalski stormed out of the bedroom and shoved the lid back down, nearly taking off a couple of Ray's fingers. Turtle yanked his head and legs back into his shell and shut up tight.
"Stop it with the turtle," Kowalski said furiously. "It's not enough Fraser likes you best, you want my turtle too?"
Ray stared. This was it, Kowalski was finally going insane. "What are you talking about? Of course Fraser doesn't like me best."
"Oh yeah? Then how come every time I talked to him, all last week, all he did was tell me how great you are?"
Ray blinked. "Um."
"Yeah, um. Anything you want to tell me, Vecchio?"
Ray wasn't sure what that meant, and this wasn't how he'd planned this. Turtle still hated him, for one thing. But Kowalski was upset, really upset. "Fraser's not--Fraser doesn't like me better," he said roughly. "He's just matchmaking."
Kowalski's jaw dropped. "He, uh. He. So he's been doing the same thing to you? What did he say about me? Did he tell you about the time I rode a motorcycle through a window and saved his life?"
Kowalski still didn't get it. "He hasn't been talking to me about you--" Ray started.
Kowalski's face fell. "Yeah. Figures. You don't know what you're talking about, Vecchio. So let me tell you what's going on, okay? Fraser is infatuated with you and now he wants to come to Chicago so he can kidnap you to the land of snow, and I'll be stuck here with no partner and no sex and a shitty car!"
Ray tried to work this out and failed. "A shitty car? I mean, yeah, the GTO's a piece of crap, but--"
"Not the Goat," Kowalski said viciously. He stuck his hand in his pocket and then shoved something into Ray's hand. A key. A key that said Buick.
Ray's heart started to pound. "But--" he stammered. It couldn't be. "There's not a running Riv left in the world."
"Not yet." Kowalski shoved his hands in his pockets and leaned against the wall, looking at Ray like he was trying to melt Ray's skull with his eyes. "There will be in a couple weeks though. Woulda been, anyway. Not much point to a 1971 Buick Riviera in the Yukon."
"But--but--you can't even get the parts!"
Even through his rage Kowalski looked a little smug. "You can't even get the parts, Vecchio."
"'Cause I'm an idiot. I figured once I got the engine rebuilt, that'd mean--" He broke off and turned the glare of death on his boots. "Stupid."
You're perfect, Ray thought. "Fraser wasn't talking to me about you because he knew he didn't need to," he said before he could chicken out. "I, uh, I sort of told him, well. You know." He watched Kowalski's feet too, even though he really, really wanted to know what Kowalski's face was doing. "And I read it in the files about the motorcycle. It sounded--" He took a deep breath. "It sounded really hot."
Kowalski's feet pushed him off the wall. "It did?" He sounded completely stunned.
Kowalski's feet came closer. "Hey, Vecchio," he said softly. Ray looked up, and Kowalski gave him a soft bright smile. "You wanna put down that tomato?"
"Yeah, okay," Ray said, his voice cracking on the words. "You better call Fraser and apologize."
"Later," Kowalski promised.
End Turtle Eclipse of the Heart by belmanoir
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