“The fuck?” Ray muttered sleepily as he tripped over a pile of Vecchio’s clothes. He’d been working flat-out for days, and when he’d finally come home there had been pierogies he was nearly too tired to appreciate (although, damn, Vecchio had put some effort into learning how to cook them just like Ray’s Mum and, if it weren’t for visions of Ray’s mother teaching Vecchio how to cook, that would have been downright sexy instead of just plain affectionate). He’d eaten them with loud, if somewhat indistinct, noises of appreciation, brushed his teeth, rallied one last stand of energy to kiss Vecchio as enthusiastically as he could.
And then damn nearly fallen asleep standing next to the man, who’d just laughed and guided him to the bedroom and practically tucked him in. That had been at eight in the evening. Now it was six in the morning, and Ray was only getting up because ten hours without a bathroom break was just not on.
But now he’d tripped over Vecchio’s clothes, and that forced him to wake up a little bit more. Since when did Vecchio leave piles of his clothes around? Since never, that’s when. Floor clothes piles were Ray’s style (although now that someone else had to navigate the apartment, Ray had gotten himself back into living-with-someone mode, which included not leaving obstacles lying in wait).
“The middle of the main walkway!” Ray squawked as he stumbled off to the bathroom. That had been his Dad’s default threat when a Tonka menaced him in the hall or in the space between the TV and his favorite chair. “You kids, stop leaving your toys in the middle of the main walkway or they’re going to Goodwill!” Eventually, that got shorthanded to “Middle of the main walkway! Goodwill!”
When Ray got back from the bathroom, Vecchio was awake. “Goodwill!” Ray yelled at him.
“What the hell? I don’t speak Kowalski at this hour,” Vecchio groused.
“Clothes!” Ray exclaimed, because he didn’t really speak English at this hour. “You love your clothes! And now they’re in a pile in the middle of the main walkway, and if they stay there too long, they’re going to Goodwill!”
Vecchio looked a little more awake. “Well, yeah,” he said, sounding reasonable. That pissed Kowalski off, Vecchio doing reasonable. Reasonable was for people like Stella and Fraser, and usually deployed against Ray.
“How is that ‘well, yeah’?” Ray demanded.
“Okay, so I told you this last night, but you were pretty tired and also I am confident that you were in the middle of a pierogi orgasm, so you might’ve missed it when I told you that I planned to clean out my side of the closet while you slept off your case,” Vecchio said. “Those clothes actually are going to Goodwill. And I’m sorry you tripped over them. When I got into bed, they were on my side. We apparently did some kind of literal horizontal mambo while we were asleep and switched places, so they ended up coming between you and the john. Sorry about that.” Huh. Vecchio did sound kind of apologetic, and his explanation was perfectly…reasonable…without making Kowalski feel like a dumbass.
Kowalski decided to take a closer look at the pile. “Man, some of this stuff is pretty tragic,” he said. “Did you lose a shitload of weight, or what?” Kowalski held up a giant blazer. He was pretty sure that Vecchio’s weight was fairly stable, but seriously…what the hell?
“Unstructured suits,” Vecchio said tiredly. “It was the nineties, and everything was baggy.”
“Baggy? On you? That, my friend, was a waste of a fine ass,” Ray, even without coffee, was ready to leer at Vecchio.
“Hey, you eventually figured out it was worth grabbing, so I’m good with the whole thing,” Vecchio said easily. “But yeah, I’m not even sure Goodwill can do anything with them.”
Ray found himself distracted by some of Vecchio’s ties. “Hey, these are very much in the wrong pile,” he said, picking up one. The pattern was garish, and even Kowalski knew the width was wrong for modern times, but it was silk and felt really good on his skin.
“You might not see it, Kowalski, not really understanding the concept of fashion in general or ties in particular,” Vecchio said, “but those are just as criminal as the suits.”
Ray grinned at Vecchio. “I’m not saying you should wear a tie designed by,” Kowalski flipped over the tie to look at the label and blinked. “Jerry Garcia, although that is actually kind of cool even though clearly he’d been on the brown acid when this came to him. I am saying that these ties should not be in the Goodwill pile.”
“Really?” Vecchio eyed Ray speculatively. “Not gonna wear ‘em, why not give ‘em away? Tax purposes and all. Not all of us just take the standard deduction and call it good.”
Ray let the accounting snideness pass in favor of demonstrating that he was familiar with at least one use for a necktie by quickly looping it over his left wrist, deftly tying it, then pulling it tight. “’Cause I’m thinking that you could tie the other end of this to the bed, and gather up a few more of these bad boys and show me that, when you say you wish I’d be goddamned still for more than three minutes, you’ve got some kind of action to back insulting shit like that up.”
Vecchio’s eyes went comically, almost Looney Tunes, wide. “Coffee first,” he said, bolting from his early morning wallow and lighting out for the kitchen.
“Make mine with candy,” Ray reminded him, although he knew he didn’t have to. He did his own part by taking all of the ties from the Goodwill pile, setting most of them back in the closet but grabbing three to put on his left wrist and both ankles. He thought about grabbing a fifth for gagging purposes, but Vecchio liked it when he got vocal, so he decided they could save that for another time. He loved it that Vecchio was up for kinky shit even first thing in the morning. And later he’d have hickeys to hide and leftover pierogies for breakfast.
Shake, bad guys, shake, because nothing was gonna keep S. Raymond Kowalski from having the best day ever.