azarias: (Default)
[personal profile] azarias
title: Citizen's Arrest
fandoms: The Authority, due South
genre: drama, humor, slash
length: about 11,300 words
warnings: language, adult themes
author's notes: In case you're familiar with one canon but not the other, here's a handy pocket guide. Thanks to [personal profile] jemisard and [profile] rahneregina for beta and sanity checks.

summary: When Fraser arrests the Midnighter, Ray Kowalski knows this won't end well. What he doesn't count on is the situation becoming personal.

Ray stared at Fraser and Fraser's newest citizen's arrestee and felt something bubbling up in him. Like ... rage. Yeah, rage. Or maybe despair. That could be it. Something that made him want to laugh til he fell over, then twitch a little on the ground, and maybe chew on his own gun for a while. The butt end, not the business end -- he wouldn't be able to kill Fraser if he ate a bullet first. Then he'd puke a few times. Yeah, that'd feel good. Probably it was rage.

"Fraser. What the actual fuck are you doing right now?"

Fraser just stood there calm as could be, almost had his breath back, even. "Well, Ray," he said, as if something normal was about to come out of his mouth. Well, Ray, I thought we'd take a half day, go see a movie. Well, Ray, it seems you're right, it's really not worth tracking a shoplifter across half the city to get back a pack of Starbursts. Well, Ray, I apologize for this habit I have of making your life a bizarro hell and resolve to do better about not wrecking your day whenever I get bored.

No. What he said was, "Well, Ray, as you observed, this gentleman was involved in the altercation that caused what seems on first glance to be a considerable amount of property damage. The uniformed officers who arrived on scene appeared to have the other suspects well in hand, leaving you and I free to --"

"Fraser, they were pretending he wasn't here so they didn't piss themselves." He gestured sharply at the hulking man standing quietly bemused and handcuffed next to Fraser, who had one hand on his arm. Even Fraser's hand didn't make it but halfway around those biceps, and those were Ray's handcuffs which had been in his pocket until Fraser decided he wanted them for great justice and they just wound up not being in Ray's pocket anymore.

Ray noticed the big guy was looking at the finger pointing at him and smiling a little. Smiling like maybe he was thinking how fun it'd be to break that finger off. Ray didn't stop pointing, but started doing it a lot closer to his body and a lot farther from the snappy-happy perp.

"Fraser," he growled one last time, all the anger and frustration and what-the-fuck-am-I-supposed-to-do concentrating in the words and making them rough, "it does not pay to go arresting superheroes."

There was a code with these things. Not a law 'cause no one had ever figured out how to write it, but since the '80s when people like this had started popping up in enough numbers to be scary, everyone knew how you handled it. Cops didn't. Guys like this went at each other, and it was the UN's problem, or maybe the Army's if they got out of hand. Cops wound up dead when they got in the middle.

And Fraser had run straight in, not thinking and not caring what happened to him, as long as he did his job. And he didn't even have jurisdiction in America.

Fraser looked hurt. Not a big catastrophic hurt, but a tight little dull hurt that would burrow itself down and throb, like a toothache, and drive you crazy all slow and relentless. Like he'd expected better from Ray and wasn't quite sure why he wasn't getting it. Ray kept the angry stoked and roaring as long as he could, five seconds at least, before he folded like a bedsheet. Uphold the law. Right. Uphold it right in the face of the freaking Authority's freaking killing machine, who was just standing there quiet in handcuffs trying to decide whether the two guys arresting him were for real. Must not happen to the Midnighter too often.

"Okay. Okay, I got this. You, you're under arrest for disturbing the peace, wanton destruction of property, and whatever assault charges get brought depending on how hard you hit those guys and whether or not they had it comin'. Anything you say can be used against you in a court of law, and there's gonna be cameras all over this soon as they realize what's goin' on, so watch your mouth unless you want it recorded. You got the right to an attorney, and if you can't afford one or scare one into workin' for you, we'll give you one and make him do it. Got it?"

"You're serious?"

"Yeah. You carrying any weapons?"

"Do you really think taking them from me is going to make a difference?" It wasn't a threat or anything. Guys who were serious bad didn't have to make threats. They just were threats. The Midnighter just sounded like he was trying to figure out how Ray was thinking.

"To whether or not I still have a job tomorrow, it might," Ray told him sincerely. "You want the pat down or just want to give me a guided tour?"

Midnighter shrugged. "Wouldn't want you in trouble with the union. Both boots." Ray knelt gingerly in front of him and felt for the catches on the booth-sheaths, taking both knives. The one on the right was street-legal, weirdly, short and sharp and stabby. The one on the left, not so legal. "Left thigh, outside. Back of the belt. Both coat pockets at the waist. Inside coat, left breast. Back of my neck under the collar." Ray reached around for that one, didn't even have to stand on his toes. The guy wasn't so big, close up. Only an inch or three taller than Ray, and some of that was the boots. He was just ...

... built like the side of a fucking barn, and moved like a panther. So, fuck, yeah, he was huge and scary. "That it?" Ray prompted.

Midnighter shrugged again. He did a lot of talking with his shoulders, which were big enough they could probably keep up a couple of conversations at once. "There're studs on the knuckles of the gloves, but you'd have to uncuff me to get those off, and ..."

"Yeah, okay. Don't worry about it." Ray looked down at the pile of weapons at his feet. One of the uniforms could get those, whichever one's day Ray didn't ruin by sticking the Midnighter in the back of their squad car for the ride down to the station. Fraser should be happy with him making sure to distribute the labor fairly.

He looked over. Fraser was smiling at him, proud.

"Okay, let's go," Ray ordered, taking the Midnighter by the other arm and heading for the cars.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

"Detective! Constable! So good of you to stop by my office in the middle of your busy day of bringing every news camera in the city to my police station."

Lieutenant Welsh was maybe kinda pissed. He was sitting behind his desk, with his glasses on so he could glare at details and a cup of break-room coffee half gone, without even any cream in it, which meant he was tasting it. There were teeth-marks in the Styrofoam.

Ray slouched against a filing cabinet, letting Fraser stand at parade rest closer to Welsh and a little in front of him. Figure it was fair, with Ray having stood in front of a superguy for Fraser earlier.

Welsh leaned back so he could see them both. Being hard to fool was why they made him lieutenant. "I'd appreciate a report. Just something informal, to catch us up on what exactly you were thinking, Detective."

Ray hacked to clear his throat. Should've picked up a soda before they got here, since he evidently wasn't worthy of lunch. "Well, sir, me and Fraser here witnessed an altercation going down between one big guy in a lot of black and four nearly as big guys in a lot of black. Our one guy won, and some officers from the 28th got on top of the scene, with a little, uh, prompting from Constable Fraser. The Constable noticed that the officers seemed a little too busy to take care of our guy along with everything else, so he got me to arrest him."

Hell, he'd take a bullet for Fraser, any day. Welsh's glare, he was going to point the right direction every chance he got.

"That's substantially correct, Left-tenant," Fraser said, or however he spelled Welsh's title in the Canadian alphabet. It didn't sound like he noticed there was a laser beam glare going right through him. "We haven't had a chance to dictate our preliminary reports, but footage from, I believe, three security cameras was gathered at the scene, and I took the precaution of making notes in transit to prevent our recollections from becoming clouded."

Out came his Clark Kent-style notebook from inside his hat, where he never sweated on anything, and he started reading off points and expounding on them. Every so often he would pause a second or two, like he was giving Ray a chance to jump in, but it never seemed to bother him that Ray kept his mouth shut.

The worst part was, it worked, even though Ray was pretty sure Fraser hadn't even planned on it. A couple of minutes in and Welsh's eyes glazed over, shut the laser right down. Welsh was still listening, but when Fraser started going on you were taking the risk of overloading if you tried to pay attention with more than one sense at a time. Usually Ray let sight and hearing both go and just, like, smelled Fraser's speeches, but the Lieu and him had different methods.

"I believe the suspect plans to plead self-defense, though, honestly, given the sheer variety of illegal weaponry found on him -- well, that's a matter for the courts to decide, of course, but if I may say so, sir, in my experience --"

Welsh's sense of self-preservation kicked in and warned him Fraser was about to dive into a lecture on the legal history of prosecuting gun-running mooses. Welsh turned his eyes back on waved his hands for silence, nearly knocking over his coffee. Good thing he missed, because Ray didn't figure having a hole eaten through his desk was gonna do his mood any good. "Thanks for the, uh, summary, Constable. That's enough information til I see your report."

He settled back to think. The way he crossed his hands over his chest and puffed a few times had fooled more than one rookie into thinking he'd put his temper down and they were safe. Ray stayed behind the Mountie.

"Feds aren't gonna take this one. They're gonna want it, because they can't stand the thought of us handling something this ugly and getting it right, but they're not gonna take it. This guy, his group says they're successors to Stormwatch and got all the rights the U.N. gave them. U.N. says nothin' doin', but it won't call them terrorists and doesn't seem inclined to fight them over it -- probably because the U.N. doesn't have its own supers anymore and can't throw anything at these guys that isn't more likely to piss them off than to hurt them. Government's gotta keep its hands off. Plausible deni-a-bil-i-ty."

He cracked his neck, and either it relaxed him or he liked how Ray jumped at the sudden noise. Either way, he smiled. "So the U.N. isn't calling them terrorists, and they're not calling themselves terrorists, which means they don't want people thinking that about them. They've got two ways they can get their guy back: either come in here, bust the place up, and carry him out over our dying bodies, or come in here and play by the rules. "

He turned off the glare and let the smile hit his eyes while Ray started twitching at the sudden release from being pinned in place. "Detective, Constable. This is your case. You're going to dot every i, cross every t, and then go back and cross each other's t and dot each other's i. I'm counting on you to make them look like jerks if they decide that slaughtering every last one of us is easier than making bail. Dismissed!"

Being good at pep talks was why they made him lieutenant.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Ray wouldn't have nailed the Midnighter for a Better Homes and Gardens kind of guy, but there it was.

He was stretched out on a bench in Holding 5 like he owned it, which in jail terms he pretty much did, because the dozen other guys in the cell were all pressed up against the far wall in a knot so tight they had to be taking turns breathing. There were some Sports Illustrateds scattered on the floor like they'd been dropped in a hurry, and a couple of battered old National Geographics tucked shame-faced in a corner, but the Midnighter looked happy with hearty harvest soups and a fall bulb-planting guide. You hated to interrupt him.

You really, really hated to interrupt him.

Ray heard the start of a polite cough from the Mountie behind him and cut it off with a wave of his clipboard.

"Interview time," he said when the Midnighter glanced up at him. While the Midnighter put down the magazine and stood up, Ray nodded at the duty sergeant to unlock the cell. She looked like she'd rather duck into the knot of guys and hide, except there was no way she could wriggle in -- they'd compressed even more when the Midnighter moved, and Ray was pretty sure they weren't breathing at all now. He was kind of curious to see how long they could keep it up, and whether or not they were packed close enough that they'd keep propping each other up once they passed out, but it probably wasn't worth the Lieu hearing about it.

He handed the clipboard over to Fraser so that he could do the crossed arms, stern-but-casual look instead of the nerdy, squinting clerk look. Took time for a quick prayer that Fraser was planning on doing the silent solid Mountie thing, because the other options were talking a mile a minute about everything or being a smartass and thinking everyone was too dumb to notice -- which, okay, most people really didn't notice the smartassing, but Ray wasn't the brightest tool on the block and he noticed, so he figured the odds of that getting Fraser's head knocked off today were a lot farther above zero than he wanted them to be. Fraser'd been quiet for at least a minute, so Ray was taking that as a good sign.

"This is the part where we ask you what you did and why you did it," Ray told the Midnighter as the guy squeezed through the cell door. "You're not gonna be under oath, but lying really messes up the paperwork, so I'd appreciate it if you don't. Decide about a lawyer?"

The Midnighter shrugged. "I'm good."

"We'll see," Ray said, and he and Fraser took their pet superguy up to Interview One. They didn't bother with the cuffs this time.

Upstairs, Dief trotted over from where he'd been making time with Frannie and Frannie's ma's coda alla vaccinara. The wolf got better food and more girls than Ray and Fraser combined -- or even just Ray, since some of the things Fraser thought were edible probably counted for negative points on the good food score, and the only girls he got were terrifying.

Good old Interview One. Walls hid behind two different shades of institutional green that somebody in the fifties had decided calmed people down, made them happy and cooperative. Sunlight staggered through the frosted windows, weak and brown-tinged after the trip even on days when wind off the lakes cleared the crud from the air outside, dumped it farther south and east to be some suburb's problem. Sometimes Ray drew a smiley face on the chalk board and wrote a threat to whoever thought about erasing it.

Ever since they'd finally got the dead guy smell out of the walls, Ray had started to think of this as their place. Like some cop partners had favorite booths at the diner or lucky pool tables, and him and Stella had had their favorite spot of dance floor and the little copse of trees out in the park where she'd let him get his hand all the way to her panties the first time, and a whole lot of times after. They needed all the luck they could get today, so he hoped all the weird shit that had happened to him in Interview One meant their room had some serious karma IOUs to pay him.

Dief settled down right under the table, which from another dog might've meant he was ready to defend them from whoever sat on the other side, but in Dief probably meant he was maximizing his chance for pets and dropped food scraps from all sides.

Fraser pulled a chair out for their perp, of course, before sitting down himself. The chair creaked but held up under the Midnighter's weight, which might mean Ray wasn't really caught in a Three Stooges routine like he'd started to worry. Then the Midnighter leaned back and got comfortable and, again, looked like he owned the place, and Ray started to get kinda pissed.

It was one thing for him to scare the shit out of everybody in a holding cell. Some of the guys in there probably deserved it, and learning to keep quiet would teach them a valuable skill for their future job as somebody's prison bitch. But this was Ray's lucky interrogation room, and Fraser's, too, and fuck if this guy owned it just 'cause he had eye lasers or something and those had a quick way of ending any argument they got involved in.

"Take off the mask," Ray said, sitting down and grabbing the clipboard off Fraser to thump against the table.

"Huh?"

Ray pointed at his head. "The mask. Off. You're gonna get your mug shot taken anyway as soon as somebody drags a photographer back from wherever they're hiding, and in the meantime I ain't talking to a Halloween suit. Put it on the table or stuff it in a pocket, I don't care which."

Fraser coughed.

"Please," Ray added.

The Midnighter shrugged, and Ray had just enough time to wonder why he'd started smiling. The mask came off, leaving blond hair and brown eyes and a face that was basically good-looking, if you weren't looking for pretty.

"Oh fuck me."

A shrug again, eloquent and yet not enough of a warning for Ray to jump in and shut him up before the retort came out. "Sure. It was a lot of fun last time."

Ray was on his feet. He wasn't even sure if his chair had made a noise when he shoved it back, because the roar of blood through his ears had drowned it out. "You said your name was Jason," was the first thing out of his mouth. Everything else that wanted to get out was either just as stupid, or just screaming, so it didn't really matter.

"Yeah --" He was still smiling, but there was a wrinkle between his eyebrows like he was thinking, too. "Kowalski --"

"Vecchio," Ray and Fraser snapped at the same time, Ray's hands shaking a little on the table before he leaned more of his weight on them. Ray said, "It's Vecchio. We don't say the K-word around here, got it?"

If the Midnighter even wondered -- and he had to wonder, right? -- he didn't ask. Hopefully he'd keep not asking, else there was a good cop about to die in Vegas and there was absolutely jack shit Ray could do about it. "Vecchio," he said, like he was getting his mouth used to it. "You mean you haven't known it's me this entire time?"

More than anything, Ray hated being laughed at. He didn't even like being laughed with much, since it was hard to tell where the line between them was. The Midnighter didn't look like he was laughing, but Ray would've been in his place, and the Midnighter couldn't be a much better person than Ray was, even if you didn't figure in the body count.

Ray was already pissed, and this was making him mad. Fraser was trying to say something to him, probably, but now was not the time for listening. Now was the time for leaning over the table and sticking his finger in the guy's stupid smirking face and growling, "Your name was Jason and his name was David and I thought you were CIA!"

"And I thought you were just fucking with me," the Midnighter said, then frowned like he hadn't meant to admit that. The look from earlier, the look that said Ray might lose any finger that got close, didn't come back. "Vecchio, Apollo is six-eight, doesn't wear a mask, and glows in the dark. You're telling me you didn't recognize him?"

"CIA!"

Fraser broke in before Ray could shout more of the alphabet, mostly by grabbing his shoulders and shaking til he heard, "-- Ray, Ray --"

Ray let himself be pulled away. Fighting against Fraser just wasn't worth it, since half the time gravity jumped in on Fraser's side and Ray wound up with his ass on the ground, wondering how he got there. Fraser herded him over into the corner, stood between him and the table and the guy on the other side who didn't have any kind of normal name like Jason and had gone back to fucking smiling. If Ray stared at Fraser hard enough, he wouldn't be able to see the Midnighter, or maybe it would turn out Ray had missed the fact that he himself was also a superhero and Fraser would catch fire from his eye lasers and then Ray'd really be too busy to have to deal with the rest of this crap.

Fraser let go of his arms when he finished towing Ray into place, but kept his hands kind of hovering nearby in case he needed to grab Ray again. To be fair -- since Ray was a fair kind of guy -- he probably would. "Ray," Fraser said, flipping the syllable up at the end so it was kinda almost a question.

Ray, are you quite all right? Ray, should I tackle him before or after you kick him in the head? Ray, did I ever tell you about the time I caught Belinda Beaver and Johnny Giraffe trying to smuggle counterfeit hockey trophies into Moosechin, which I assure is you completely relevant to this situation and in no way an attempt to distract you with crazy-ass rambling while I do precisely the opposite of what you'd want me to do, so that by the time you figure it out and yell at me, I've already done it and come out a hero and you look like an asshole for being mad?

While Ray resolved to be on the ball with getting pissed off and yelling in a timely and effective manner, Fraser licked his lower lip, that way he did. Then he licked it again like the first time hadn't done the trick. "Ray, am I to understand that you and this gentleman have -- met previously?"

Ray almost laughed. In fact, his nose stung from getting used as a detour without warning, when the laugh tried to come out his mouth and got told to go to hell. "Yeah, Fraser, we've met." He shook his head, and did laugh this time, and one of Fraser's hands touched his shoulder, lightly, Fraser getting antsy and expecting an explosion.

Jeez, you'd think a guy could laugh without his best friend thinking he was about to fly off the rails. This was just a friendly little breakdown between friends. Nothing bad.

He glanced over Fraser's shoulder, quick, before he decided to stop worrying about it. It wasn't like he was saying anything the other guy -- the Midnighter -- didn't know already, up close and personal, and hell if he was having this conversation out on the hall bench where somebody else might hear. "We fucked.

"We fucked, Fraser. Me and him and his partner, who is also his boyfriend who, it turns out, is also a superhero. Did you know Apollo and the Midnighter were gay? I did not know that they were gay. And yet. Gay."

Nope, Fraser did not to get a word in edgewise here. Not longwise or shortwise or any kind of wise words coming out of Fraser's mouth. Ray was talking.

"Some stuff happened, couple of years ago. Real serious, real weird, real off the record. These two guys show up, acting like Feds: tried to push me off the case, and when I wouldn't budge just started giving me orders like they expected me to go along. If that don't scream CIA or NSA or something, I don't know what does, except evidently it was supposed to scream S-U-P-E-R and I was too dumb to see it. So I went along. They acted like they knew what they were doing, and as best I could tell we were the good guys, and the bad guys were some serious bad.

"So we won. We had to lay low for a few days, let stuff shake itself out, so we all crashed at my place. Naked.

"Like I said, couple of years ago. Stella and me, we'd just finalized the divorce, and it was like I was going crazy or something. Every woman I looked at looked like her. Not like I couldn't tell them apart, but there'd always be something about them that reminded me of Stella, and I might not know classy or when to quit, but I know the difference between smooth and sad.

"So, I said, hell with that. Every woman out there was like Stella? Any try I made was gonna crash and burn like me and her did? I was too smart to do that again. So I went gay. Wasn't gonna touch another woman. Not much you can do with a girl you can't do with a guy, you just use your imagination. I'd been, you know, hypothetically gay, til these guys show up, and they got six packs on their six packs, and weren't gonna stick around and weren't giving me any of that creepy shit you get, down in Boystown particularly if you're a cop trying to keep it quiet 'cause you don't want 'oops, backup just couldn't make it fast enough' on your tombstone -- and, you know. Nothing kinky."

Nothing kinkier than it had to be, with three guys all taking out a week's worth of scared and tense on each other, with their hands and mouths and that part he said about imagination? He meant it.

"Anyhow. They left, and I didn't think about them again, and I did the gay thing for a while longer til I quit it. Just didn't feel right as one of them long term plans. You know why?"

Fraser did not know why. Ray knew that, which is why he didn't pause to let Fraser try and answer.

"Because I like tits, Frase. Nice, soft tits that just fill up your hands and feel like rose petals under your cheek, and perk right up when you kiss 'em. Man, I love titties. And you know what men ain't got, Frase? Titties.

"So, yeah. That's how it happened. Thought you should know."

He dodged past Fraser, went back to the table, and sat down in his chair, moving the clipboard back to where he could write on it if the spirit moved him. Sometime later today, he was going to really think about what he'd just said, and it was all going to suck.

The Midnighter looked at him. Ray hadn't really thought the guy's name was Jason. He'd just thought he'd had a real name, somewhere, that he wasn't ever going to tell Ray.

"So, Vecchio," the Midnighter said, conversational. "Let me make sure we're clear. It was okay when you thought we were a couple of fucking spooks, but you've got a problem with superheroes?"

Ray looked at him. Midnighter. Yeah, that's right. You suck a guy's dick, he trades you having to use a definite article in front of his name. Midnighter wasn't sprawling in the chair like he owned it anymore. More like it made his ass ache and his back slant to the side, like God and the CPD intended, so he couldn't be comfortable looking a cop in the eye.

"Not a big fan of surprises," was all Ray said, and by then Fraser had sat down so Ray could grab a pen out of his pocket and start writing on the clipboard like he cared. "Name. Midnighter, The. Got one you'd prefer? Eyes. Brown. Hair ..." Ray looked at him and smirked. Smirking felt great. "I'm gonna be nice and call it blond."

Midnighter glared. Vain sonofabitch, Ray remembered that part, and if the hair was a raw nerve he was gonna poke at it some more.

"Hey, no business of mine if the curtains don't match the carpet," Ray assured him. "I figure a man's got a right to his personal choices, like who he dates and what he bleaches and whether or not he dresses up for a kink club every time he feels like going out and doing some vigilante violence in my city."

He ran through the standard boxes while he talked, height-weight-identifying marks. Oh, some of the marks he knew about -- wasn't going to write those down, of course, in case someone wanted to know how he'd found them.

"Speaking of which." He put the pen down. "Why are you in my city?"

He'd stopped smiling. He hadn't got to see the casualty report yet, but shit like that happened in the middle of the day and people got hurt. People who'd had their heads down and lunch in their hands and other things on their mind than whether or not they were gonna have to get out of the way of superhumans trying to kill each other and not caring if they killed them.

And, yeah, this was Chicago. People here tried to kill each other all the time. Ask a detective. But they were people, just plain, ordinary people, and they had the right to be here. All the awful shit that ordinary people could do to each other was bad enough for anybody. And people, Ray could stop, sometimes at least. And if he couldn't stop them, he could track them down and arrest them and maybe, God and a jury willing, he could make justice happen for their victims. It was a fight the good guys were never gonna win, but it was one they wouldn't lose, either, as long as they kept fighting.

Until things they couldn't fight showed up. Things like a guy who was basically a whole army's worth of killing that just looked like a guy. Who kissed like a guy and laughed like a guy and drank beer like a guy, but who wasn't a guy. Not human, not nearly. Being human meant being breakable, stoppable, being just plain stupid sometimes and screwing up. Humans with power had it because they got people to do what they said, and sometimes they used that power to do good things but mostly to do the same shit everybody else did, just on a bigger scale. Midnighter and the rest like him, it didn't matter if people took their orders or not. They could just do whatever they wanted, all by themselves, and there wasn't a fuck of a lot Ray or anyone else could do about it. Nothing but play pretend, like pretending it meant anything to arrest the Midnighter.

So basically Ray was stuck in a stupid play in a stupid role. Whatever. He'd survived worse in high school, and this time he was going to kick ass with his lines.

Midnighter was trying to look him in the eye, but the angle kept being wrong. His eyes kind of slid off Ray before he pulled them back to meet Ray's look again. The chair was tipping all his weight to the side, just a little tiny bit, and he had to keep shifting in his seat to stay upright. It kept them both where they were supposed to be: cop, perp.

Good. Real good.

Midnighter twitched a corner of his lip up. He had to concentrate to do it, Ray bet.

"Felt like a hot dog," Midnighter said.

"Yeah, I'll bet," Ray agreed. "You're a big fan of buns. Why'd you start a fight in Chicago?"

"That what you think that was?"

Ray really, really wanted to hit something. Not 'cause he was all that angry, but because hitting something tended to get people talking out of circles. Unfortunately his best option was the wall, and that was still pretty bad.

"Listen, asshole --"

Except Ray was halfway to the door before he realized he was moving, with Fraser right on his heels. There was screaming, and not a normal cop station on a Friday afternoon kind of screaming, but the bad kind, over the rumble of scared people moving out of the way of something. He crammed his glasses onto his face without thinking about it and tried not to trip when the world got real sharp all of a sudden.

"Dief, stay," Fraser pleaded over his shoulder, closing the door behind them like the wolf didn't know how to pick locks.

Down the hall to the bull pen, dodging past people trying to get out and shoving past people who were rubbernecking, he shoved too hard the last time and had to grab on to Fraser's shoulder to stop from stumbling into the room. That would have been bad, probably real bad, because the guy with the gun in one hand and Frannie in the other looked pretty much crazy already and probably didn't need any provoking.

"Whoa, hey --" Ray said, which was also what Huey and Welsh were both saying. Frannie wasn't saying anything, just looked pale and tense. Dewey had stopped screaming, at least, and was bent over trying to catch his breath with his arms around his middle like he'd been kicked hard. He had his jacket off; his holster was empty.

Fraser put his hands out, palms up and away from his side. That was good. It would maybe keep the bad guy from noticing Ray's hand sneaking into his jacket in a minute or two and grabbing his gun. Yeah, he had a good look at the guy's eyes now, and he knew he'd been wrong. Guy wasn't crazy. Guy was mean, and guy was looking for someone to hurt. Nice suit, expensive watch flashing where the sleeve was pulled back across Frannie's throat -- somebody paid him pretty good to do dirty jobs.

Lucky fucker, making a career out of his hobby.

"Son, I need you to put that gun down before this gets any worse," Welsh said, stern and calm from the door of his office. Right, he was gonna be Daddy, try and get the guy responding on instinct to some authority. Might work. Or might remind the guy he hated authority, and that'd be bad.

"You know there isn't any way out of this building for you," Fraser chimed in. "There's no need to have additional charges brought."

"What the fuck are you?" the guy demanded, looking at Fraser but not taking the gun off Frannie.

Fraser straightened up and his hands made a little jerk like he was about to straighten his tunic but thought better of making any moves toward his belt with the guy watching. "Constable Benton Fraser, Royal Canadian Mounted Police. I first came to Chicago --"

That's right, Fraser. Work that monologue, buddy.

It had taken some research, but Ray had figured out a while ago that there were basically three situations Fraser used the monologue:

1. He panicked and needed something to say, so he opened his mouth and that fell out.
2. He wanted to get written off as the weird Canadian so he could keep asking weird questions without anyone getting wise to the fact he wasn't actually from Mars and had a reason for doing what he was doing.
3. He genuinely thought people wanted to know. After all, he'd listen to them.

Usually, there was a little of number 3 even in numbers 1 and 2, and it'd be a damned tragedy if Ray ever managed to convince him otherwise. Right now, Ray was calling this a Situation 2, with Fraser also hoping he'd connect with the guy's basic humanity.

Too bad the guy didn't have none of that.

Ray watched the guy watching the room, watched him doing the math and figuring out, yeah, his odds weren't good. Maybe he could get down to the motor pool, drag Frannie with him, demand a car and take off with her for a hostage. Aside from the fact that he couldn't know just how much hell Frannie could raise if she started thinking she had to save herself, what was he going to do once he left the station? In a marked car, with half the news crews in Chicago parked right outside already? He wasn't going to be able to disappear, and wasn't nobody going to save him, either. Some local big man paid him well to keep him working, but he'd just stopped being an asset and become a liability. He wasn't worth throwing people after to save. And this guy didn't know what de-escalate meant.

Ray saw the guy come up with that same answer.

Shit, shit, had to make sure he had his shot lined up before he pulled out his sidearm, because that asshole was going to shoot as soon as he saw Ray draw and was going to shoot in a few seconds even if Ray didn't draw. Had to make sure he went down fast enough he couldn't keep the barrel against Frannie's head, and he had Frannie right over his center-of-mass so Ray was gonna have to get fancy about it --

There was this big, dark blur, and the sound of a sack of potatoes hitting the floor, and Midnighter was holding Frannie up with one arm and had the gun in his other hand, by the barrel where everybody could see it. The bad guy? He was on the floor, face up where Ray could see his nose bleeding and his eyes bugging out. Either he was scared, or Midnighter's foot on his chest was pressing down hard enough he was having a hard time breathing. Maybe both. Both would make sense.

Midnighter had his mask back on, so Ray could just see his lips moving in profile when he said something to Frannie, and she nodded back. He let her go, and she stepped back til she came up against a desk and sat down on it, putting her hand to her chest and breathing hard. Then, because you couldn't keep Frannie down with a truckload of cement and some bungee cords, she smiled at Midnighter and tipped her head to the side, looking cute as someone who was just nearly murdered could look. "That was so heroic and -- super. Kind of superheroic, you know, like you."

Oh, sweetheart, of all the times you've aimed wrong.

Points for rolling with it better than Ray had, though. He still had a voice in the back of his mind telling him that had had its teeth around his dick.

Midnighter handed the gun over to Huey, who took it without blinking, and Dewey didn't say a damned thing about it. The guy on the floor, now, he wasn't so smart 'cause he made a sound, and Midnighter looked down at him. Kept looking down, while Ray could see him shifting his weight a little, leaning more on the foot that was on the guy's chest, til the guy shook his head frantically and stopped making any sound at all. When Midnighter stepped off him, it looked like he was holding his breath for a second, trying to anyway, before he had to wheeze in some lungfuls of air or else he was gonna die.

Ray probably didn't weigh enough to do a repeat of that, but he made a note to try it sometime later.

Ray and Fraser both stepped aside, silent, when Midnighter walked by them on his way back down the hall. They were breathing, at least, not holding their breaths, which made them, Welsh, Frannie, and the guy on the floor who sounded like he was starting to cry. Everyone else was making like the suspects down in holding, crowding together and hoping they didn't get noticed.

"Take your time," Midnighter told Ray as he passed, waving a hand over his shoulder. "I'll wait."

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Dewey did the walk of shame into Welsh's office; Huey and Fraser and a handful of uniforms got together to scrape the gun guy off the floor and carry him down to a solitary holding cell.

Frannie said, "So, do you think --"

Telling her 'no' would just make her decide she could make it a 'yes,' and pointing out she didn't like blonds would make her ask what else was under the mask, and, besides, Midnighter got it out of a bottle, anyhow, so instead Ray said, "Yeah, sure, and Ma'll probably get over you picking up a perp, soon as you tell her he's a superhero --"

Ray could see the scene running through her mind and knew he'd done God's work.

"Speaking of," Ray said, and went back to Interview One to see if Midnighter was still there.

Midnighter was. Sitting back at the table, mask still on, but rubbing the bridge of his nose through it like he had a headache. And Dief was still there, too, with his front paws up in Midnighter's lap, getting his head scratched by Midnighter's other hand.

When Ray sat down, Midnighter stopped rubbing his forehead and looked at him. He didn't stop petting the wolf, though, and didn't seem to mind the drool. "I'm an asshole," Midnighter said.

"Okay, good for you," Ray said. "What --"

"Vecchio," Midnighter ground out. "Ray. You were married, so I know you know how to shut your damned mouth and let somebody apologize."

Well, crap? Ray shut up for a minute.

Midnighter said, "I'm an asshole and a smartass and I've got a bad temper. So I do shitty things sometimes to people who don't deserve them. I'm sorry for outing you in front of your partner. That was shitty, you're a good cop, and I don't want to fuck up what you've got going for you. Are you going to be all right? Need me to talk to him?"

Ray shrugged. "Nah, it's fine. He's Canadian."

"Oh, right." Midnighter nodded.

There was still a clipboard full of statement Ray should be taking, but what actually happened was that he and Midnighter sat there in an awkward I-know-what-your-dick-tastes-like kind of silence until Fraser came back. When Fraser made his apologies, congratulated Dief on making new friends, and sat down, Ray picked up his pen and tried not to start doodling in the margins.

"Okay, so. You came down, and you got into a fight, and you and the other guys managed to tear up most of a city block. I'm gonna assume that means you at least were trying not to hurt civilians, 'cause I don't see how you kept it that small otherwise. The three guys you were punching are over at the neighboring precinct getting the same treatment you are, so you might as well tell --"

"They never made it," Midnighter said.

Ray ripped a hole in the paper, stopping doodling too fast. "Come again?"

"They didn't make it to an interview. Those uniforms you had pack them off, they're probably gonna turn up in a couple hours, missing most of the afternoon and maybe hung over. It's not worth the trouble shutting up grieving families if they can avoid it." He shook his head. "You see how they were moving, Ray? Faster than me, every damned one of them, and if they'd had the neural enhancements to go with it I'd've been in some shit.

"That wasn't human. Endoskeletons, probably hurt like a sonofabitch having them implanted. Explains why they were so pissy. Too many government grants sunk into those guys to let them run their mouths in public. I'm not sure how they got out in the first place, but either they're back where they came from, or they're at the bottom of the lake with the nanites turning them into industrial sludge at about a million times the natural rate -- depends on the kind of mood their CO was in."

Midnighter looked down at Ray's pen and back up at Ray. "You get that?"

"No, and I'm not gonna." Fraser's fingers twitched, like they were wanting to take the pen from him, but Fraser didn't try. That was how you could tell they were partners. Partners shared, and he'd shared Fraser some common sense.

Instead he looked at Fraser, and Fraser nodded at him and left the room again, to go make a call to the 28th and find out what they were doing with the bunch they'd arrested.

Midnighter nodded and settled back, the wolf remembering he had dignity or something and sitting back down on the floor. Midnighter looked -- disappointed, just for a second, and settled his hands on the table. "I really did come down for a hot dog." He shrugged at Ray's disbelieving look. "I spent five years only eating when I had to pretend to be human. Makes you miss some things. I get a craving for junk food like you wouldn't believe. Apollo, he likes hot showers and t.v."

"You go out for lunch and you run into the evil robot conspiracy on accident?"

"Yeah. Shit happens." He didn't sound happy about it.

In response, Ray fidgeted.

He'd've liked it better if Midnighter had been cool with the fact that his life was fucked up. It wasn't anything good for Ray, to hear Midnighter sounding like a guy who was just coping the best he could with the weird shit that went down around him. Hit a little too close to home, that way.

So Ray wasn't okay with more silence. He said, "So why are you still sitting here? I mean, I get it, you're not just going to bust out of here 'cause you can. It'd look bad, you're one of the good vigilantes, whatever. But we both know bail's just going to be a number the judge makes up and you can cover it. Why hasn't anyone showed up to spring you? You've got --" he waved a hand around until the words showed up, "stuff to kick in the head. Robots and stuff."

Midnighter shrugged. "Busy. For the early research, the Engineer and Hawksmoor are about as good as I am. Also, the entire pack of assholes thinks this is funny, and they're hoping you do find somebody to take my mug shot so they'll have mementos to tape up in my bathroom for the next couple months." He sighed. "Roommates."

Ray looked up as the door shumbled open on its heavy, worn hinges. Fraser was back, sooner than he should've been and looking like a storm rolling in across the lake.

"The officers from the 28th precinct were found in Jackson Park approximately thirty minutes ago," Fraser said without saying anything polite first. "They're reported alive and unhurt, and under the belief that it's 8 a.m. and they've just begun their shift."

He sat down. Ray jumped 'cause his legs insisted on moving and he didn't feel like kicking the table. Midnighter didn't say a word.

"What the hell is this, Fraser? They had to have known their guys were missing an hour and a half ago. Why are we just now finding this out? Did they even want to tell you? You had to sweet-talk it out of the desk sergeant, didn't you? 'cause it's not like it's important or anything for us to know when we've got the --" He stopped pacing and looked at Midnighter.

"Oh."

He dropped back into his chair, propped an elbow up on the table and propped his head up on his hand. "Right. Right. Everybody's looking this way."

"They're keeping it quiet, Ray," Fraser told the table.

Ray could see his face out of the corner of one eye, and it looked bleak and grey as November. That was the part of the story Fraser always edited out of the monologue because it was ugly and Fraser didn't tell ugly stories to people he didn't know. Fraser'd first come to Chicago on the trail of the killers of his father, and when he'd tracked them down he'd found out how many people were working to keep it quiet. Not even because there was money involved, some of them. They were doing it just because they liked a nice, quiet lie better than a hard, ugly truth, and they hated Fraser for bringing that truth out.

Fraser really fucking hated conspiracies of silence.

"Ray," Midnighter said, quiet, "my team's on this. This is the kind of thing we deal with. Not you, all right? This is the kind of thing they kill you for. You're not going to get far enough to make dying worth it."

"Let the pros handle it?" Ray snapped, putting more pissed-off into it than he'd meant to. See, Ray? Ray wasn't real good at being told to sit still.

Midnighter just kept talking in that low, reasonable voice. "Last time I brought you in on one of these, I didn't have a choice. Me and Apollo, we couldn't have broken that case without you. We've got more resources now.

"Most of us can get back up from a bullet to the head. You manage that?" He looked over at Fraser, then back at to Ray.

Okay, yeah, Midnighter thought it was that way? Whatever, close enough, and Ray really wasn't going to get much done arguing how gay he and Fraser weren't right now. Ray looked at Fraser, and thought about what they might be going up against, and he got a nice, vivid picture of what Fraser's head'd look like, split open and maybe a few meters from his body. He'd been carrying pictures like that around all day, since he'd tried to get a freaking sandwich and Fraser'd dragged him right into the middle of this crap.

There was brave, then there was stupid. Ray was a scrawny kid from Chicago. He knew the difference.

"Okay," he said.

"Okay?" Fraser looked at him like Ray'd just kicked a puppy and peed on a maple leaf. Ray looked away.

Time to have another private talk: Fraser grabbed him by the sleeve and hauled him the five feet to the back of the room. "Ray. We can't."

It wasn't like he ran out of words or got overwhelmed and cut the sentence off. That was all of it.

Ray put his hand over Fraser's fist, the one that was still knotted in his sleeve. "Yeah. Can't win. Can't handle this one. Can't get far enough to make a difference." He was massaging Fraser's hand, trying to ease the anger out of it, and, again, whatever. Midnighter had his own unbelievably hot boyfriend to go perv on. He could leave Ray to his weird not gayness with his sort of good looking partner.

Fraser looked at him, unbelieving, and said, "The fact --" This time he did cut it off and looked over at the table, where Midnighter was doing a decent job of acting like he couldn't hear every god damned word and probably smell their sweat or something. Ray saw Fraser measure that, calculate just how fucked they were and how much social embarrassment he could take, and turn back to Ray to try again. "The fact that you were intimate with this man seems to be a very bad basis for accepting his word on a professional matter, particularly given his fairly haphazard association with concepts such as legality and morality."

So that took balls on a whole lot of levels, yeah.

And Ray might've gotten angry for real if he'd had more energy to spare. Even now he spat out, "Oh fuck you, Fraser. Do not go there. I'm not saying he's right because I slept with him." Ray had a whole lot of bad habits, but that one had stopped about three years before he got divorced. Maybe some cause and effect there. "I'm saying he's right 'cause this isn't the thing I want us to die for. 'cause it'd be dying for stupid, got it?"

Fraser held on to his anger with both hands. Ray sighed and said, "Fraser ... trust me."

The fight went out of Fraser, and even his hand on Ray's sleeve relaxed. Ray would have to decide later whether or not he was gonna hate himself for that one.

All in all, it was a good thing the wall opened up into a glowing portal and a lady stepped out right then, ‘cause else things might’ve gotten emotional.

She came in with a last breath of smoke puffing out of her nose, the cigarette between her fingers burning right down to the filter. She was blonde and petite, a little bit cute, with her hair pulled back into a severe tail, and the only thing that kept him from jumping up on old Stella reflexes was her suit jacket being rumpled and her slacks stained, and instead of a a neat blouse under the jacket, her shirt said "Lee's Crab Shack, Ocean Breeze" in chipped yellow paint on faded blue. Also, Stella didn't smoke.

Ray coughed and pointed at the sign on the wall. She looked at the crossed-out cigarette, shrugged apologetically, and vaporized the butt with a flicker of light and a little zap.

It wasn't like he hadn't figured who she was. Jenny Sparks. Super-powered being, with electricity in her fingertips. The woman who'd saved London, New York, San Francisco, and most of eastern Europe so far, and who'd wrecked at least one island nation that had pissed her off during. She had a habit of taking over the world's communication channels to let people know when she wasn't in the mood for crap, and, okay, Ray could sort of respect that; if he were sitting in a spaceship holding a gun to the head of the world, he'd probably ask for some good behavior, too.

She was the Spirit of the Twentieth Century, whatever that meant; it was what the news called her. Leader of the Authority.

In other words: Midnighter's boss.

Which made her the best person to walk over and slap Midnighter across the back of his head. Okay, Ray was changing his mind. She wasn’t a little bit cute. She was beautiful.

“Evenin’ detectives,” she said. Midnighter started to open his mouth, and Ray could hear it clack shut when she slapped him again, right behind the ear. The big, scary guy slumped down into his chair and clenched his jaw, like he was thinking really hard about how he wasn’t going to let ‘ow’ out of his mouth.

"Hi," Ray said.

Fraser said, “Good afternoon, Ms. Sparks. Though, to be accurate, it’s detective and constable.”

She nodded, brusque but sort of friendly, like a cop with more crap than this on her mind. “Heard you’d nicked one of my pet bastards. Can't imagine you want to take over the care and feeding of him, so let's talk about getting him and me out the door and those parabolic mikes off your sidewalk."

Everything Ray was going to say, he decided not to bother with. Most of it wasn't really aimed at her, anyhow, and none of it was dignified. He hadn’t been clocked in for six hours yet, but he’d had a long day and wanted to go home. Grab something from the fridge, put something in the VCR to make sure there was no chance of the news landing on his t.v.. Sort through his brain til he found something to jerk off to that involved lots of tits. Lots.

“Gimme ten minutes,” he said. “Gotta get some different forms. Frase, you mind?”

Either Fraser didn’t mind, or he was thinking kind of slow; either way, Ray made it out the door before he could object.

~*~*~*~*~

Turned out, Welsh already had the forms prepped. And he wanted to see the lady himself.

Ray held the door to Welsh’s office for her and she stepped through like she hadn't expected he wouldn't. Not like Stella, then. It wasn't that Stella didn't like having doors opened for her and chairs pulled out, and back in law school she'd always given him this relieved little thank-you smile when he'd carried her books for her, the ones that weighed half what she did.

But Stella always had a little pause, just a heartbeat or so of hesitation where she looked you over and had to decide whether you were dangerous, or being condescending, or about to ask her for something she couldn't give, not in trade for a couple of seconds of basic courtesy. Jenny Sparks didn't take that beat. Just strolled through the place like she owned it, shook the lieutenant’s hand and sat down to negotiate.

Felt sort of bad leaving Fraser to sit with Midnighter, but the two of them had Dief to bridge the gap, and Fraser could always make like a statue if he needed to. Midnighter probably wouldn’t mind.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

"Any chance you could just give me life? No visitation?"

"Cruel and unusual," Ray said. "We go for cruel and entertaining around here."

So this was important to know: there was one thing in the world that scared the Midnighter. That one thing was blonde, weighed maybe a buck ten dripping wet, and was sitting in Welsh's office with a tumbler of the Lieu's emergency scotch in her hand, waiting for Ray to fetch her her minion back.

Ray was man enough to admit he didn't have a damned bit of room to rag on another guy for it, but that didn't mean he wasn't going to enjoy watching Midnighter ask for permission to land. Merciless and feeling a little better about his day, he rapped his knuckles on the door and opened it in the same motion, and waved Midnighter in with his free hand.

"-- and I finally got the ol' son off the train and into the arms of his adoring public, discharge papers in hand and radioempathic control dug out of his skull. Naught that bad about him wrigglin' his hips to justify that. Though between you and me, I don't think the surgeon did as clean a job of it as she said; can't account for the rhinestones later on otherwise, than some part of him missing the way the lights caught off the wires."

Jesus. Now they were swapping war stories.

Welsh threw back his head and laughed, Sparks laughed, and Ray fought the urge to duck back out. It wasn't natural for two people to hit it off that fast. Him and Fraser'd had to get set on fire a couple times and dumped in the lake before they'd even started, and Ray had been trying.

"Now here's a pretty sight."

She'd turned around in the seat, with her arm draped over the back and the glass held up like she about to make a toast. Midnighter didn't snap to attention, but he definitely stood up straight, and Ray was pretty sure he wasn't looking her in the eye. She knocked back the scotch, set the glass on the desk, and stood up -- "Beg pardon, Harding."

In boots with a heel, she came up to Midnighter's chest. There was a twist to her lips like a smile might be trying to get out, but something tight and tired around her eyes. Midnighter ducked his head and did a damned good job looking like a man being towered over.

"What's team policy on calling for back up?"

"'Do it,'" Midnighter said.

Sparks nodded. "Bravo. You've almost got the whole thing memorized. Which makes me wonder just how you forgot and decided to solo in the middle of a metro area." She looked him up and down while he looked somewhere over her left shoulder. Took a breath, and what came after that was a rapid-fire rundown of his personality flaws, things she could do with his skull since he wasn't keeping his brain there, the ugly sexual habits of his nearest ancestors, a couple of references to what she'd done to the last person to go cowboy on her watch, what was going to happen to his dick the next time he decided to go swinging it in public, and exactly how much it pissed her off not to be having dinner and a Seinfeld rerun right now.

Ray got it. Dressing down in front of a couple of witnesses; that would make it sting, but him and Welsh didn't mean anything to Midnighter, so Sparks didn't have to deal with kicking at his pride in front of friends. That took care of one thing she'd promised Welsh. And she really, really wasn't happy about Midnighter taking a fight by himself, when she had a bunch of overachievers she was trying to make a team out of. The point wasn't that it was embarrassing for one of the self-appointed defenders of the planet to get arrested by a Chicago cop and Santa Claus, or that she was more than mildly annoyed at having to take a detour to come sort out the paperwork. That hadn't even cut into her drinking time, thanks to Welsh.

The point was that Midnighter'd been okay this time, and he might get the idea that meant he'd be okay alone next time, and Ray'd be willing to bet she didn't sleep all that good at night, thinking about that.

It wasn't as funny as he'd been looking forward to, after the cheer up she’d given him by slapping Midnighter quiet back in the interview room. Which was good, because she could see him and he really, really couldn't afford to crack a smile right now.

No lie, his life would be a whole lot easier if she didn't sound like Eliza Doolittle.

"-- and you're going to spend the next week convincing me I should let you out without a nanny and a press agent!" The impressive thing was, she wasn't breathing hard, even though Ray was pretty sure he'd heard the glass on the door shake.

She crossed her arms, stopped poking her finger into Midnighter's chest.

"Oh, stop looking like you're waiting for me to spank you. I decide you need that, I'll delegate it to that buff bloke I keep around to keep you happy. I'd break me hand on you, if I tried to give you more than those love taps back there." Oh, yeah. She lost sleep over these people; over Midnighter, at least, and given how tough a guy he was to like, he couldn't be her favorite.

"Clear," Midnighter agreed.

She stepped back, leaned up against the edge of Welsh’s desk this time instead of taking back the seat. There was still a fingerful of scotch left in the tumbler, and she drained it and put it back down without taking her eyes off Midnighter.

"So here’s how it’ll be," she started, but went quiet and let Welsh pick it up.

"You two take walk out the front and down the stairs, and any questions the press manages to throw at you while you're crossing that distance are fair game," he said. "Edge of the sidewalk, you get to do that thing you do with the dimensionally transcendent doorways and go back to Narnia. The city of Chicago calls it even.

"Given that Ms. Sparks has confirmed any and all funds your team may access fall under the category of 'it would make my life harder to know,' the property owners who suffered in today's altercation will be encouraged to settle with their insurance companies, who will be encouraged to take a look at the news and not to push their luck."

Sparks seconded, "And we don't darken Harding's doorstep again."

"Me and Fraser need about three minutes to get out the back door, so try and keep ‘em busy that long," Ray threw in. Midnighter’s eyes flicked to him, but Ray flicked right back a look full of 'yeah, and it’s the least you owe me.'

"All right, ‘bout face," Sparks said, pushing off the desk but turning away from the door, holding out a hand for Welsh. He stood up, walked around the desk, and shook it, and then the next second he bent over and kissed it. Ray thought he saw a little bit of blush on the side of Jenny’s cheek, but that could’ve just been the scotch.

Welsh let her hand go and stepped back. "Can’t say it’s been a pleasure, Jenny, but it’s been enlightening."

She nodded, stepping back herself to put some more distance between them. "Same here, Harding. For everybody, I hope."

Ray got the door again and held it while she walked through, Midnighter a couple of steps behind her. Midnighter paused, looking at Ray like there were a couple of things he was wanting to say.

In the end he just said one, while he shook Ray’s hand and palmed a folded piece of paper into it. "Like I said." It only took him a few steps to catch back up with Sparks, and they moved through the pin-drop silent bullpen on their way to the front door.

Ray swallowed down a lot of things himself then turned back and looked at Welsh.

"Enjoy your day, Detective," Welsh said without looking up from the paperwork he’d gone back to. Sometime between Ray opening the door and now, his tumbler had gotten fuller and his scotch bottle had gotten emptier.

Fraser was waiting for him by the back door, Dief snuffling suspiciously at the handle. They waited a couple of minutes, quiet, listening for a shout and the sound of several pairs of feet hurriedly hauling some heavy audio-visual equipment around front to where the news turned out to be happening.

Ray took the chance to look down at the note in his hand, against his better judgment. Glanced over it, snorted, and crumpled it up. He looked over at the trash can. Easy two points, making the throw from here -- but his hand wound up in his pocket, tucking the note down where it wouldn’t fall out while they sprinted to the GTO.

He wouldn’t have thought Midnighter had a phone number.

Date: 2012-12-10 12:01 am (UTC)
cyprinella: Comic character saying "Yay" with a thumbs up (yay!)
From: [personal profile] cyprinella
Love this one.

Date: 2012-12-10 05:37 am (UTC)
mergatrude: a hermit crab peering from it's shell with the text "lurker" (fraser - salutes)
From: [personal profile] mergatrude
I know I've read this before (and probably failed to comment, sorry), but this was so much fun to rediscover. So. Much. Fun. Thank you (kindly).

Date: 2012-12-12 10:19 am (UTC)
surexit: A brightly smiling girl in a spotted headscarf. (:D)
From: [personal profile] surexit
♥________♥

I loved this so much. Midnighter is perfect, Fraser is perfect, everybody's PERFECT.

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