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"It's cheesy," Alex complained, leaning back in his chair. Spike lounged at his feet, one jealous eye on him, the other on the closing credits of the detective show on the television.

"Rather have it cheesy than corny," Milo grunted, reaching for the bowl of popcorn on the table. "Come on, Alex. If I want real bad guys, all I gotta do is pull a coupla hours overtime. I'll take NBC's cheese any day."

"And you have to admit, Alex, they're easy on the eyes." Rick leaned back expansively, casually slinging an arm behind Milo's shoulders. "Something for everyone - both sexes are showing a lot of skin."

"I hadn't noticed." Milo sat back, pinning his eyes firmly on the screen. "The detective work's not that great at times, and the computer shit's more like magic than anything that pig sitting on my desk can produce, but they got grit. They got integrity. I watch that Nick, I think of how I used to be when I first joined the force. Woulda been a great show if him an' Cody were cops, you know."

"Then it'd be just like Starksy and Hutch," Rick disagreed, sipping his beer. "If they were cops, they couldn't live on a boat - "

"Sonny Crockett does."

"Sonny Crockett's an asshole. Come on, Milo. And they couldn't live together. No TV show would show that. Even for PI's, this is pretty damn out there."

"Out there?" Alex cocked an eyebrow. "What do you mean?"

"Don't tell me you hadn't noticed." Rick shifted in his seat, crossing his legs. "Alex, NBC is showing a committed gay relationship, right here in prime time. It's really pushing the envelope, but because they've been kinda coy about it, they're getting away with it."

"A committed gay relationship? Wait, what are you talking about?" Alex's eyebrows shot up. "We just got done watching a couple of guys trying to date every woman they saw."

"Yeah, sure we did," Milo said drily. "And a half hour later, the geek got the girl. Now what does that tell you, genius? Put that diploma to work."

"She said she liked him best?" Alex looked from Milo to Rick, confused. "Seriously, fellas, I didn't see it. It's just... it's just a cheesy cop show. PI show, whatever."

Milo and Rick exchanged a glance, and Milo chuckled. "For a smart guy, you miss a lot. You want to sharpen up those detective skills some. Rick, rewind, huh?"

"You got it, big guy." Rick pointed the remote at the screen and clicked the button. Onscreen, the picture vibrated with lines, and Alex looked away so as not to give himself a headache.

Gay detectives on prime time? It was unthinkable. Alex ran through the episode he'd just seen, wondering if the short, tight red shorts on the imperiled girl had blinded him enough to miss what Milo was referring to. He'd noticed pretty early on that Cody was wearing way too much eyeliner, but that didn't mean anything--Bo Duke did too, and no-one could accuse the Dukes of Hazzard of being gay. Not even Milo.

"There's a lot of slash on TV," Milo said casually, munching popcorn. "If you know where to look, that is. Riptide's just taking it that little bit further. I got to tell you, Alex, one day soon, it's gonna be right out there. Gay cops, gay taxi drivers, hell, even gay psychologists, right there on network TV."

"Slash? What do you mean?" Alex's eyebrows shot up.

"Slash is when you know two guys on the show are getting it on, and no-one's saying anything," Rick explained patiently. "Starsky and Hutch, Nick and Cody. Kirk and Spock."

"Wait, what?" Alex's eyebrows shot up. "Kirk and Spock? You have to be kidding me."

"Whatever you say, Alex." Rick clicked the button on the remote again. "But this is one thing I'm not kidding about. Check it out."

Onscreen, Nick and Cody were in a small, obviously shared cabin. Cody lay in one bunk, blankets pooled around his waist, golden chest exposed for the camera. A couple of feet away, Nick lay in another bunk. His blankets were higher, hiding more of his body. Alex watched as the two men mirrored each other's body language, culminating in synchronized switching off of the lights.

"They have separate bunks," he tried halfheartedly.

Milo snorted. "That's because it's 1985 and NBC don't want the showrunner burned at the stake. Come on, Alex. Wake up and smell the homo."

"I guess I see what you mean," Alex said, shifting uncomfortably in his seat. "But Kirk and Spock?"

"Forget Kirk and Spock." Milo settled more comfortably. "Rick was just having you on, right, Rick? Now, you ready for the next episode?"

"I guess so." Alex rubbed Spike's back with a foot, and Spike opened one eye, regarding him narrowly. Alex withdrew his foot rather hurriedly. "Is this episode two next?"

"No, I missed that one on the VCR." Rick shrugged. "I'll pick it up on re-runs, I guess. The next one I have's called The Mean Green Love Machine."

"Sounds good." Alex smiled, wondering why Milo roared with laughter.

By the time the credits rolled, he was nodding along with Milo and Rick. The phenomenon could use further study, and if he played his cards right, there might be a book in it. "How many episodes did you say there are?" he asked, shaking his head to clear it.

"Sixteen so far, and it's renewed for next season." Milo grinned. "Told you it was a good show, huh?"

*

"What you reading?" Nick asked idly, rolling over.

"Hmm?" Cody looked up from his paperback, sliding his arm more comfortably around his partner. "When the Bough Breaks. That new detective novel."

"I remember. Gay detective, huh?" Nick wrinkled his nose and pressed a kiss against Cody's shoulder. "Any good?"

"Yeah, I kinda like it. The psychologist guy's an interesting character. He's like Murray - finding the answer with his expertise."

"Mmmm." Nick bit gently at Cody's neck. "He getting it on with the detective?"

"Nick! No!" Cody pulled away a little, pretending dudgeon. "He's got a girlfriend and - "

"So did you, once." Nick grinned, following Cody as he wriggled away. Cody subsided, giggling a little as Nick tickled him, and moments later the book went spinning across the room.

"You lost my place!"

"Uh-huh. And that's not all you're losing."

Whatever Cody was about to say disappeared in a yelp and a giggle, followed by something that sounded suspiciously like a purr...