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Title: The Perils of the Job
Summary: After the fiasco with the prison and Sacks, Chris has a lot of thinking to do 
Rating: PG-13
Characters/pairings: Ray/Chris
Author's notes: I wrote this partially because I wanted to see if I could write hurt/comfort, partially because I've yet to read a Ray/Chris fic that interprets the characters and relationship the way I see it, partially because Leah bugged me to, and partially because of this series of caps. Also, I've never written Ray before so....this may be interesting.

Chris has known coppers who've died before. It's not a safe place, his job. Not even close. Coppers die all the time. He didn't think he'd ever be used to it, not when he was young, and new to detective, and one of his mates, still a plod, was struck in the back of the head by a stick-wielding yob in a riot. Said he was okay and then went home and quietly died. To be honest, he's still not used to it, not really, not with good old Viv, dead in a prison. Not even if he arguably brought it on himself. Coppers are coppers, and Viv came through in the end. But there's the bit in Chris, developed after years on the job, that's telling him two out of three ain't bad, especially when you're one of the three and your best mate's the other.

Which is horrible, yes, and he's struggling with it, and quiet as he nurses his pint at Luigi's and wipes at his nose occasionally. It's been bleeding slightly, on and off all night.


Chris blinks, and looks up, chewing at his split lip.

"Where're you off to, eh?" says Ray, the corners of his mouth twitching slightly in a smile that never quite happens. "I'm talkin' t' you, you twonk."

"Yeah," says Chris, making his own attempt at a token smile. "Sorry. Miles away." Or inside his own head, worse luck. "What were you sayin'?"

Ray's glance flickers down to the table and back up to Chris, and he shrugs slightly. "Weren't actually anythin' important really. Jus' daft."


Ray exhales through his nose, amused, looking down. "I were just sayin'," he says, looking back at Chris, "that I reckon I'll just 'ave t' get meself a new mug now. Instead of nickin' yours."

"Wouldn't be nickin'. I said you could have it." Chris hesitates and then adds, "If I died."

"Yeah," says Ray. "Yeah. But you didn't."

"Yeah," says Chris. But it's got him thinking about the prison again, just them and Sacks there with the gun, and Chris counting his last moments. About to die like an American prisoner, and no hope in sight. Not knowing, the worst part, not knowing. Any second could have been his last...but WHICH second? No heroic or noble last thoughts, not that he really expected those of himself, but it would have been nice, a part of him knowing he was thinking of Shaz, maybe. But all his thoughts dissolved into a sort of helpless pleasepleasepleasepleaseplease as he struggled at the bonds holding him. Like an animal in a trap, that was him, 'DC' Chris Skelton...

Chris swallows the rest of his pint in a desperate gulp and slams the glass back into the table.

"Need another drink," he says, standing up, wobbling slightly.

"Good," says Ray. "Your round."

They are both thoroughly pissed by the time Luigi ushers them out of the pub, flapping his hands at them ("Please! Signores, have pity, I have to sleep before I have to open up again! So get! Go! Out!") and they stagger out into the street, arms around each other's shoulders, only barely supporting each other.

"Who's....." says Chris, and then loses track of his thought.




"No! No....who'"

"Me," says Ray, rolling his eyes at Chris. "Y' still can't 'old your own, drinkin'."

"M'fine!" says Chris, only he isn't, because they walk a bit farther and he has to stop and throw up as Ray laughs at him and leans against a wall, holding onto the back of Chris' jacket so he doesn't fall into his own sick.

"Right." Chris has a go at spitting the taste out of his mouth before he keeps talking. "Right, so, my flat. You c'n walk 'ome y'self." It's difficult to really think about anything except very basically what is happening right at the moment, this drunk, which is why he is this drunk in the first place. He doesn't have to keep thinking about how dying feels.

"Come on, then," says Ray, staggering a bit backwards as he pulls Chris sideways and they stumble back down the street.

Chris has to stop to throw up at least once more before they finally reach his flat but they actually do.

Fumbling his key from his pocket, Chris unlocks the front door and essentially falls into the building, and Ray makes an exasperated sound and braces his feet to help Chris up again.

"You're bloody useless," he says. "You'll never make the stairs, pissed as this."

"M'not," says Chris, not really sure which thing he's protesting.

"C'mon," says Ray, pushing him up the stairs, and Chris just goes with it. He essentially just manages to unlock the door of his flat and once he's staggered in, he collapses bonelessly into a chair. "Right," says Ray, bracing himself on the back of the chair. "I'm off."

"Ray," says Chris.


"Nearly died today."

"Yeah," says Ray, making a face. "I was there."

"I know," says Chris. "Yeah." He pauses. Easier to think, now, not walking, or moving, just sat here in this chair. "M'glad. You bein' there, I mean." He's let his chin flop onto his chest, now. He can't see Ray's expression. "Wouldn't want t' die without me best mate." Chris feels, not sees, Ray crouch down beside the chair.

"Don't want t' die in general," he says.

"Not that--" begins Chris.

"You bein' there were alright, though."

Chris stays quiet for a bit again, thinking, or trying to. Ray isn't standing up again.

"We got out, though," he says.


He pauses again. "You really want my mug?"

Ray exhales, sounding amused. "Not really."

"Yours IS knackered, though."

"Yeah. It is."

Chris rolls his head to get a sideways-upside down look at Ray. He's smiling slightly. There is one thing about nearly dying, and it's that you work out a few things. You have to. It's your last chance. He already knew he loved Shaz. That bit was easy. Easy to verbalise, easy to ask Ray to say if he got out. But there are other parts, other realisations that he's not sure he's even drunk enough to put into any sort of words. Thinking about them? Yeah. There's more immediacy to them with Ray crouched beside him, with him slumped in this chair, not moving. Saying or acting on them is another matter. This moment feels like it will break the second he moves.

"If y' didn't..." he tries to begin. "I wouldn't've... Wouldn't want you not makin' it out."

"Lucky, that," says Ray. "An' me thinkin' you wanted me dead."

"M'serious," says Chris.

"I know. Me neither." He snorts slightly through his nose. "Cos I'd 'ave t' go an' tell Shaz, then, wouldn't I? Don't fancy that job, your bird weepin' all over me."

"She ain't...."

"I know."

"But I really..." Chris tries again. "I dunno what I'd do." He pauses, waiting for Ray to tell him not to come over all nancy-boy, but he doesn't. he just watches him. "Think I'd...." He tries to work it out, what he's thinking and feeling, and settles on "Think I'd be sort of.....lost. Couldn't cope, losin' both of you."

Ray makes a disgruntled noise. "I'm not your bird neither."

"S'not what I meant. Not really. Jus'...dunno. Dunno what I did mean. Can't say it, really."

"Don't need sayin'."

"It......dunno. Sort of think it DOES." He looks at Ray. There's almost a sort of fear in Ray's eyes, mirroring his expression earlier that night.

"Jus'.....don't," he says, looking down, studying the arm of the chair.

"What if, though...." Chris says, swallowing, trying to shift himself a bit upwards in the chair and squeezing his eyes briefly shut from the vertigo of it. "Won't always 'appen like tonight. Could die at any point, me. Or you. Can't go about not sayin' stuff just cos it don't need sayin' cos it might never GET sayin'. Can't...I dunno--"

And then Ray leans in and kisses him. It's at a sort of weird angle because of how Chris' head is tilted and they're both very hesitant about it but it is happening and Chris doesn't quite know what to think about before it's over and Ray is wiping his mouth with the back of his hand and grimacing.

"You taste like sick."

"Sorry. Threw up."

"I know. I were there for that too, you div."

Chris nods slightly. "Right."

Ray nods too, and then looks sort of stern and nervous at the same time. "We don't talk about this, okay?"

"Yeah....yeah, okay. ...s'that mean we can't NOT talk about it, neither?"

Ray's face of complete non-comprehension fades into understanding in a fairly short amount of time and he looks away from Chris. "Dunno. M'pretty pissed right now. None of this's prob'ly a good idea."

Chris nods slightly rather than answer because honestly, it seems like a pretty good idea to him. But then, he's more pissed than Ray is. Ray said so. "I could wash me mouth out an' we c'n see if it's a good idea with me not tastin' of sick?"

Ray sighs. "S'not the issue, Chris." But he hesitates, and then leans down to kiss Chris again anyway before pushing himself to his feet using the chair. "I'm really off, this time."

"Kay," says Chris, letting his chin slump back to his chest and listening to Ray leave.

Half a day ago, Chris thought he was going to die. He thought it was a certainty, that there was no hope. But nothing is certain, and there's so much more to hope for than he thought.

Chris feels alive.


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Leah M

March 2011

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