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Ray knows they're going to have a fight. He can feel it coming on, straining the edges of the day like water in a balloon, all Kowalski's normal ticks grating on his nerves like sandpaper. Like, who cuts their toe-nails and then just leaves them there, in a pile on the floor next to the arm chair? Where does Kowalski think they're going to end up, anyway? Does he figure some kind of toe nail fairy is going to come along and take care of the mess for him? Does he think Ray loves him so much he treasures the disgusting remains of his foot care?

And what the fuck is with that clapping thing Kowalski does? Whenever he makes up his mind about something--like, it could be a big thing, as in what direction they should take a case, but it could be a completely stupid thing, too, like should he get up and take a piss--he does this roll of his shoulders and he swings out his arms and then he slaps his hands together. Sometimes even twice. And...what's that supposed to mean, you know? Ray just does not get it.

And that's not all. He fucking hates the stupid belch-and-smile routine Kowalski does too, that little self-satisfied grin he gets, along with the smug belly rub. He hates Kowalski's middle of the night grunts and snores. Hates the idiotic way he insists on dressing, the favourite t-shirts all worn threadbare and transparent because the guy has owned them since nineteen eighty-six. And Jesus, don't get Ray started about the way Kowalski talks, like something between a grade-school teacher and a Sex Pistol--pitter patter, lets get at 'er Ray's frickin' ass.

Today is Sunday, which means that they get to spend the whole day together, which Ray right now is looking forward to about as much as he's looking forward to his next proctology exam. It's only a little bit after noon and already the back of Kowalski's goddamned neck is annoying the fuck out of Ray, and he's thinking if he has to listen to Kowalski singing along with that stupid Gillette commercial one more time, there's going to be a homicide in here. "Jesus Christ, shut up, shut up, shut the fuck up," he tells Kowalski. Yells it from the kitchen where he's doing the breakfast dishes, and thanks so much for offering to help you ass-licking little Polak.

"What?" Belligerent and amused, which is Kowalski all over. "You don't like my singing, Vecchio?" There's a groaning of springs as Kowalski gets out of the armchair, the pad of bare feet as he walks into the kitchen. Without even looking, Ray knows he's going to be lounging in the door frame, smirking. He finishes cleaning the paring knife in his hands a little more slowly than is strictly necessary.

"No. On account of your singing sucks. You think you could pick up a fucking dish towel for once in your life?"

He hears Kowalski snort, but those footsteps come nearer and then Kowalski's right next to him, towel in hand. He takes a glass from the draining board. Leans in close to Ray's ear. Sings, "...the best a man can get."

Ray feels his jaw get really tight. "You sing that one more time I'm outta here," he says.

He hears Kowalski draw a breath and he knows--just fucking knows--that this is it. They're going to fight over this one stupid thing and Ray will maybe end up hitting Kowalski or vice versa, and at the very least, one of them is going to spend the night in a Motel Six. He feels his hands clench into fists in the soapy water, feels his stomach clench too.

But then Kowalski just lets that breath out again. Ray looks at him. Kowalski's looking back. Has a considering glint in his eyes, a bunch of furrows in his forehead.

"What?" Ray says.

"Nothing." Kowalski drops the towel on the draining board and wraps his fingers around Ray's bare arm instead. Tugs a little, until Ray gives up and lets himself be turned. "Just...fuck the dishes, okay? I got a better idea for how we could spend the afternoon."

Ray feels the rage sort of draining out of him, as if Kowalski pulled the plug. Still, he frowns, makes Kowalski push him hard before he lets himself be backed up against the sink. "Why am I not surprised about that?" he says, a little breathless. "Lazy slob. The things you'll do to get out of housework." Kowalski's wiry warmth is pressed all down the front of Ray now, pressing him up against the counter. Kowalski's hands are moving lightly up Ray's arms, rough and callused, and his lips are soft against Ray's cheek. Ray shivers. Lets his eyes fall closed.

"What can I say?" Kowalski murmurs against Ray's lips. "You know me." And then his tongue is licking its way into Ray's mouth and Ray is groaning, his hands clenching Kowalski's hips, pulling him closer, sliding up and under the t-shirt to stroke along his ribs.

"Yeah, I do," he says when Kowalski moves his mouth away. Kowalski just grins and kisses him again.


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