"Just because you're here with me," Mick growled while they were still out of ear shoot of the doorman, "doesn't mean we're together. Got it?"
"Sure, Mick," Ray said, the same as he'd said when Mick had told him, "This doesn't mean I care," after walking two days through a sand storm to save Ray from pirates, or when Mick had muttered something about them not being serious as Ray pulled out of Mick and rolled over to his side of the bunk.
Mick narrowed his eyes, like he suspected Ray was making fun, then grunted and handed their tickets to the young man staffing the door–the young man who was wearing a corset, a little plaid skirt, a full beard and a Santa hat. Ray made himself stop staring–he didn't want to be rude–but not before the kid winked at him.
"What's the age limit on this place?" Ray asked as they passed the cloak room, mostly for something to say, "because he does not look old enough to... oh, wow." After a brief and dizzying sweep of the room, Ray decided that the best option would be to keep his eyes fixed on the back of Mick's neck, and worry about what to do with the massive sensory overload possibilities when he wasn't standing in the entryway and gawking like a rube.
Only Mick picked that moment to drop back beside Ray and side eye him in a way that was unnecessarily judgemental, even for Mick. "You got something to say, boyscout?" Mick demanded, and Ray realised that he'd been gaping.
"No," he said quickly. His eyes slid to the bar, mostly a safe, normal-looking bar. "Just wanted a drink."
Mick grunted sceptically, but said, "I'll get them. You sit over there, and don't talk to anyone."
Over there was a love seat in the back corner with a good view of the door, and well, of other things. Ray had to turn sideways to get past a couple other tables, which all looked pretty normal too, except for some of the outfits, but once he was sitting it was difficult not to look down over the central area that would probably be a dance floor on any other night. Ray swallowed and decided that since lots of other people at the tables were openly enjoying the view, he might as well, though he wasn't completely sure he wanted to.
At the planning meeting that morning, Dr. Stein had gotten a funny look on his face when Mick had mentioned the name of the "party" where he needed to meet his contact, and Jax had asked him if he was okay, and also why Sara was laughing. Then no one had said a word when Ray had volunteered as Mick's backup, except Sara kept laughing, and had told Mick, "Good luck," on the way out. Only asking Gideon for details had revealed that the modifiers Mick had left off "party" were "gay" and "dungeon." Also, apparently, "Christmas."
"What..." Ray asked when Mick returned less than two minutes later with a glass of wine for Ray and something on the rocks for himself, "what is um... Santa Claus doing to that young man?"
"Spanking him," Mick said and dropped down to sit next to Ray. "Obviously." He manoeuvred so that they were sitting at an angle, with one of his legs hooked over Ray's. "I don't see Alderman."
"Could he be down there?" Ray asked, gesturing at the room broadly enough that his wine sloshed over the rim of the glass. It wasn't much of a loss. "It's not like you can see everyone's faces." Unless Mick knew what Alderman's ass looked like, which was possible Ray supposed. When Mick didn't say anything, Ray decided to just ask, "You go to these kinds of things a lot?"
Mick grunted, eyes fixed on the floor, and maybe a little colour in his cheeks. Ray couldn't tell with this light.
"Sorry, none of my business." Right in his line of sight, a big man in a leather biker vest and ass-less chaps was tied spread-eagled to some kind of fixture, and a lean young man was applying a riding crop with poise and enthusiasm. Ray's eyes followed the crop as it traced the length of the bound man's arms, first one then the other, then up under his vest and down his spine before it flicked against his ass hard enough to make his whole body jerk. He wondered if Mick had ever let himself be tied like that, or if he'd been the one doing the tying.
"Mick!" someone said, and Ray snapped his gaze away and up to a compact black man with a shaved head and a waxed van dyke. He was dressed in normal enough looking jeans, like Ray, but his hips had swagger. "Been a while," he said, even though Mick hadn't looked up. "Who's the new friend?"
When Mick still didn't say anything Ray gave his real first name and left off his last. He didn't know if anyone recognised him, but they kid at the door had taken everyone's phones–"Rules," he'd said–so at least there wouldn't be pictures of the resulting Palmer Tech scandal.
The man's name was Hugh, he said, and he seemed to know Mick well enough to ignore being ignored, and had probably seen enough newbies to pretend not to notice that Ray kept looking past him to stare at the floor. Santa Claus and his young man had progressed to something more intimate. At least they'd put a tarp down.
"You looking for a partner tonight, Mick?" Hugh asked, and Ray bit his lip and tried to focus on what Mick had told him going in: they were friends with benefits–often with more benefits than friendship–not boyfriends, and definitely not exclusive. Plus he wasn't sure he didn't want to see whatever Hugh and Mick might do down there. To satisfy his curiosity. For science. When Mick shrugged, Hugh asked, "Or maybe your friend?"
Mick's growl rumbled the couch. "He's new; you'll break him."
Hugh laughed. "I thought that was the point," he said, but didn't press. When Mick didn't say anything else, he faded back with a wave and a "Nice meeting you, Ray."
"Cocky little prick," Mick grumbled, but in the same tone as he used to tell Ray that he didn't care if he lived or died.
Ray absolutely did not look down at the blindfolded man who was kneeling with his hands bound behind him, giving another man's leather boots what looked like a blow job. And if he looked a little bit, he certainly didn't wonder if that was the kind of thing Mick was into, or Hugh, and which of them had worn the boots. "So, do you and Hugh usually..." Ray started, then stopped on Mick's glare. "None of my business. Right."
Mick sighed and hooked his leg to pull Ray in closer. "Used to, I guess. Haven't for a while."
"Since we've been boyfriends?" Ray asked, wiggling his eyebrows, and Mick made to smack Ray across the back of his head, but turned it into ruffling his hair at the last moment. Mick's hand lingered on the back of Ray's neck for a moment, heavy and warm, and Ray leaned into it while it remained then settled back against the couch when Mick pulled away.
"Since I've been a time-travelling bounty hunter," Mick said placidly, which was a good point. Not like Ray had had time for much past ship-board romances himself, though somehow Sara always seemed to get the girl, no matter what time period they were in.
"Well, if you want to go..." Ray hesitated over the word, before settling on, "play with your friend." There, he'd offered, and he was pleased at how generous he was. He was being an awesome non-exclusive friend with benefits.
"We're here on business," Mick said, even as he still watched the floor, not even glancing at Ray when he made his offer. "Not screwing around."
"After we meet Alderman then," Ray said. "We should have time. Or, I guess, if you wanted me to, I could..." do whatever Mick wanted. He would, if Mick asked, he knew, and maybe he was a bit curious about that too, or some of that. Possibly more so the less Christmas-themed parts.
When Ray dragged his gaze away from Santa Claus who was now leading his young man up into the seating area, an arm around his shoulders, he found Mick staring at him like he was trying to solve an equation.
"Probably not a good idea," Mick said, and it took Ray a second to figure out that he meant him and Mick doing anything tonight. The corner of Mick's mouth tugged up in a smirk, and he said, "Wouldn't want to break you."
He might have already, with that speculative look, and his leg still warm over Ray's, and the whole room smelling like sex and leather. "Rain cheque?" Ray asked trying to sound as sincere as he could.
Mick studied his face for a moment longer before saying, "Sure, Haircut. Why not." He didn't add, that doesn't mean I care, but still scowled when Ray grinned at him. Ray figured that counted as progress on the whole.
He was formulating a joke about having to pay Mick for sexual favours now, or possibly in sexual favours, but before it came together, Mick stood and pulled Ray up behind him.
"There's Alderman," Mick said, and raised his hand in a half wave. After he caught the eye of a beanpole in hot pants and a net shirt, he said out of the corner of his mouth, "I hope he doesn't remember that whole thing with Snart."
Apparently Alderman did remember whatever that had been. Ray had the dubious honour of participating in the first ever bar fight in that particular dungeon party's history, or at least the first one with Santa Claus as a participant, and did not get to cash his rain cheque for some time to come.