It’s been... a while, since Carlos felt this way. Longer than he really cares to think about.
Giddy, almost. Distracted.
He’d been surprised when T.K. had texted him about going to a club, taking a friend out with them. “Friend,” huh? Playing third wheel to T.K. and some new guy was not his idea of a fun time. In fact, it made him question T.K.’s motives, even more than he had been already. Because T.K. had been quite the cypher.
Here’s what he knew. Real name was Tyler Kennedy. Hot as fuck. Good with his mouth. Good with his whole damn body, actually. And Carlos’s, fuck. Liked it a little rough... maybe even a lot rough, depending. Firefighter. Captain’s son. Moved here from New York City about three months ago. Has been up really high, forty-plus stories on the, the Chrysler building, was it?
Going, going through some shit. Obviously. He instigated that fist fight at that shady bar, so some adrenaline-seeking behavior, maybe? Apparently had a bad break up in New York, relapsed, is in recovery now (prefers mineral water), has some mood stuff going on...
Is not looking for anything serious right now.
So, yeah, he didn’t have the best reaction to the whole text about the club. Until T.K. clarified.
Paul just got shot down. Think he needs some fun.
Carlos had frowned. Paul. Paul Strickland? He was another firefighter with the 126. Where you thinking?
Thought maybe you could guide us. Then, I want to dance.
Carlos exhaled. Yeah, he wanted T.K. to dance, too. Preferably with him. There’s Rain on 4th.
Sounds good. We get off at 10.
Carlos had looked at the phone, debated what he was about to type, wondered if it was too transparent. Paul ok with going to a gay club?
Yeah, had come T.K.’s quick reply. He’s straight but he’ll be cool with it.
And Carlos had finally relaxed, at that. I’ll drive, he’d typed out, allowing himself a small smile.
He’d showered carefully, brushed and flossed his teeth, styled his hair. Put on a little cologne. Spent too much time debating what to wear, because... because he wanted to impress T.K., dammit, but didn’t want it to be obvious. He’d finally settled on a t-shirt and jeans - casual but still nice. Flattering. And, yeah, he’d even gone to one of those drive-through car washes.
And when T.K. bounded down the steps of the 126, flashing him a conspiratorial smile and leaning easily against his car, hip to hip with Carlos, he knew that all his preparations had been worth it.
It had felt good, walking into the club next to T.K. - even better when T.K. reached for him, brought him in close. Carlos doesn’t think he’s a particularly possessive guy, not one to show off, either, but there was something about being in that club with T.K., seeing people’s eyes on him, on them, together... it gave him a boost, a direct shot to his ego, having this gorgeous guy on his arm, dancing up against him for anyone to see.
Fuck, he’s got it bad.
Which is probably why he’s still thinking about it days later. At work. When he should be finishing up a report.
He sighs deeply and redirects his attention to his computer.
“Hola, Carlos,” comes a familiar, and rather unwelcome voice.
“Hello, Roger,” Carlos says, purposefully. Roger was one of only a handful of out cops in the department, and of that small group, he was Carlos’s least favorite. By far. He’d always found him to be overly familiar. Unprofessional. Vain as hell. He’d been relentless when he’d found out Carlos was gay, making pointed comments about how much he wanted to get to know Carlos better, how helpful it would be to let off some steam together...
Roger was attractive, and Carlos would be lying if he said he’d never thought about it, but after one particularly lewd comment, Carlos had made it very clear that their... preferences were simply incompatible. While that had at least stopped Roger from directly propositioning him, it didn’t stop the conversation entirely, just shifted it. When Roger approached him now, it was often to brag - about his prowess, his partners. The company dancer with Ballet Austin, the hot barista, the musician... Carlos tried to shut it down, when he could, but with a guy like Roger it was hard sometimes.
“How was your weekend?” Roger asks.
“Fine,” Carlos says, nonchalant. “Picked up a shift late Friday.”
“And after that? You go out?” Roger smiles. “Do anyone fun?”
Carlos looks at him sharply, and he’s still grinning. It clearly wasn’t a slip.
Roger just tilts his head to the side. “I saw you. At Rain.”
Shit. “Yeah?” Carlos says, casually.
“Yeah. Waved to you.”
“I must have missed you.”
Roger shrugs. “Yeah, well, I was up on the second level, and you looked a little, ah, preoccupied.” He gives Carlos a lascivious grin, pulls up a chair, and sits down.
Carlos rolls his eyes. “I’m on the clock, here,” he says.
“Um, not anymore, Reyes. It’s noon. Lunch break.”
Damn him. He must have planned the timing of this. Carlos rubs a hand tiredly over his face.
“Eat in the break room with me?”
And unfortunately, he can’t think up a good excuse not to, at the moment. “Fine,” Carlos says, tightly. He takes his time getting his lunch out of the shared fridge and heating it up - anything to delay the inevitable conversation with Roger. He knows that look, on Roger, that tone, and he suspects that he hasn’t heard the end of his night out.
As expected, Carlos barely sits down before Roger’s talking again. “Quite the little piece of ass you were with. Hope you got some of that. Way he was dancing, kid’s a fucking tease if you didn’t.”
He didn’t. Get some. Not in the way Roger means, not that night. What he had gotten, though, was a smile, a genuine one when they’d dropped Paul off at his house, loose and laughing. A firm squeeze of his hand when they’d finally said goodbye at the end of the night. A soft but earnest, “I had a really good time tonight.”
Carlos exhales, looks at Roger. “The guys I was out with are colleagues, actually. From the 126. New in town.”
He sees the recognition, then, on Roger’s face. The realization. “Oh shit, wait, for real? Was that the new Captain’s son? T.J.? T.R.?”
“T.K.,” Carlos says tightly.
“That’s it, yeah.” Roger laughs a little. “They came down from New York City, right?”
“Yeah,” Carlos replies.
Roger grins, all teeth. “Well, shit. Kid knows what he’s doing then, huh?”
Carlos frowns. “He and his father have been good additions to the team. Definitely experienced.”
Roger barks out a laugh. “I wasn’t talking about that kind of experience.” He shakes his head. “I swear, Carlos, you could be cleaning the fuck up if you would just use a goddamn app. You know how many guys the whole cop thing works for?” He smiles again. “I’ve never fucked a firefighter, though. You think he’s into cops? Or better yet,” Roger leans in closer, winks, “you think he likes it when they’re into him?”
And that’s about enough. “Think you’d have to ask him that,” Carlos says, voice cold. He makes a show of snapping his lunch case shut, getting up. “Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a report to finish.”
He’s up and leaving before Roger can say anything else. Moves quickly back to his desk and sits down heavily. Damn. Roger’s comments have left him off-balance, out of sorts. Because he knows, knows he has no claims over T.K. - T.K.’s made that very clear. But the idea of T.K. with someone like Roger...
He shakes his head. Nope. Don’t think about it. T.K.’s a grown man who can do whatever the hell he wants. And Carlos is a grown man, too, with a very real report that needs completed before end of shift today.
But he can’t stop thinking about it. He knows, more than he wants to, about what Roger’s into… and knows it’s not a bad fit, necessarily, for T.K. And the fact that T.K.’s on Roger’s radar now, well... Carlos can’t help but picture them together - T.K. on his knees for Roger, Roger’s hands on T.K.’s skin, Roger using his body to pull all those wrecked sounds out of him...
Shit. This has to stop. He’s not, not usually like this. What the hell is it about T.K. that’s gotten to him like this? He decides to take a lap, goes to the water cooler to refill his bottle. By the time he gets back to his desk, he’s feeling clearer - or at least a little more determined not to think about things he can’t control.
It’s almost a week later, and a delegation of first responders is all gathered at city hall for a training about an impending upgrade to the 911 network. Michelle’s there, as are representatives from the 126 - T.K. and Marjan, specifically. Carlos gives a little nod T.K.’s direction, is relieved when T.K. returns the favor.
They break for lunch - a catered deal with sandwich fixings, chips, cookies. Carlos is about to rip open a little bag of Lay’s when T.K. approaches him.
“Hey,” Carlos replies, looking T.K. over a bit. He looks nervous, almost.
“It’s nice out. Wanna sit outside?”
Carlos glances to his left, at Michelle, who is just about to start in on her turkey sandwich.
She smiles. “It’s pretty bright out, and I don’t have my sunscreen on.” Carlos doesn’t miss her slight smirk, her raised eyebrow. “Why don’t you two go ahead without me?”
Carlos gives her a little look, feels the way she kicks him under the table. “Okay. See you in a bit, then.”
He grabs his lunch, follows T.K. out to a little picnic table. After some standard pleasantries and a brief discussion about a recent house fire they both worked, T.K. puts his sandwich down. Bites his lip.
“You, um, you know a guy named Roger? Roger Sizemore? He’s a cop.”
And now Carlos is setting his sandwich down too, responding carefully. “Yeah, I know him. Why?”
“Just... I dunno, he was working a call with us - that accident out by the airport yesterday, the bad one.”
“You...” T.K. pauses. “You guys friends, or anything?” He glances down. “Said he knew you, and I wasn’t sure how, if it was just, like, work stuff, or...” He trails off.
“Yeah,” Carlos replies quickly. “It’s just work. We’re not, not close or anything.”
T.K. seems to relax a bit, at that. “Okay, yeah, I didn’t think so but figured I’d ask.” He looks up at Carlos with those big eyes. “What do you think of him?”
He’s an ass, Carlos wants to say. Doesn’t. “He... he can be a bit much, sometimes.”
And T.K. blows out a breath, chuckles a little. “Fuck, yeah, glad it wasn’t just me, then.” He shakes his head. “Dude fucking hit on me. Like, hardcore. Right in the middle of a call.” His eyes narrow a bit. “Said... said he heard I liked guys in uniform.”
Carlos closes his eyes, briefly. Fucking Roger. “I... god, I’m sorry, T.K. he saw us together out at Rain the other night, with Paul. Asked me about you. Told him that if he was interested, he’d have to ask you, no one else.”
T.K. nods, a little tight. “Yeah, well, he asked, alright. Honestly, he’s gonna get himself in trouble with HR if he keeps doing shit like that on the job.”
“Don’t I know it,” Carlos mutters. “And I’ve told him that. He used to pull the same thing with me until...”
“’Until I turned him down.”
T.K. leans back a little in his seat. Looks pleased. “Well, that makes two of us.”
Carlos quirks an eyebrow. “Yeah?”
“Oh yeah,” T.K. said, a hint of mischief in his voice. “I just told him the truth, though.”
“And what’s that?”
T.K.’s smile grows. “I just... kindly let him know that I do like a man in uniform. One very specific man.”
Carlos’s eyes go almost comically wide.
T.K. shrugs. “What can I say, Officer, this whole thing,” he gestures to Carlos’s uniform, “definitely works for me.” He ducks his head, then, looks almost a little shy. “And I know I said I wasn’t looking for anything serious, and then you said you weren’t trying to be my boyfriend, but... truth is I like you and, and I have fun with you, and I hope you don’t mind me saying so.”
If they weren’t in the middle of a work function, Carlos would have kissed him right then. Settles for grabbing his hand under the table, squeezing.
“Don’t think I’ve ever minded anything less.”