Out Of Range
by s.a.

Ray was having a shitty day, the kind where one thing goes wrong and you just know from that moment on you were going to be pissy, waiting for the next crummy thing to happen. This morning it was waking up to no hot water and only half a scoop of coffee left in the can, barely enough to get one eyelid open. The car started, but instead of the commercial-free punk on his usual station, they'd switched to some kind of commentary morning show. Ray turned off the radio in disgust and promptly got gridlocked in traffic, even using the back roads.

He got to work, and Welsh yelled that he was desk jockey for the day. No amount of bitching would get Welsh to let up on him, so he threw himself into his chair and hit the paperwork. For four mind-numbing hours he waded through every scrap of paper he'd put off for the past three months, cursing his procrastination with every signature--in triplicate.

Lunchtime rolled around and he tried to place an order at the Caribbean restaurant a few blocks down, but they apologized profusely and said their delivery guy called in sick and they were swamped with the lunch rush and couldn't send someone out. Ray'd been craving jerk chicken all week, and no, he didn't want pizza, Frannie, thanks for the suggestion. He got a gummy sandwich and chips from the machine and sighed as he sat down to continue wading through the now-halved stack of files and paperwork.

He barely noticed when two-thirty rolled around and Huey suggested he take a smoke break before he bounced to the ceiling, pointing at Ray's jittery leg. Ray nodded and weaved through the afternoon delinquent-fest in the main lobby to sit outside the back door and bring a Camel up to his lips.

Frannie glared at him when he hefted a two-foot high stack of files onto her desk around fifteen to five, but he just gave her a cheeky grin and said, "Your problem now, sister dear."

He got home pretty quickly, using every shortcut he knew. Salvador was waiting for him outside his building, and he gave him an extra-big tip for good timing. He ran upstairs, but was disappointed to find that the hockey game was pre-empted by a sappy family made-for-television movie. He sighed, shrugged out of his clothes, and sat on his couch eating pizza and flipping channels.

He organized his mail, paid his bills, picked up his dirty laundry from the floor. Threw a tennis ball against the wall for awhile, looked for a winter coat he thought he'd buried in the hall closet. He found an old typewriter, a box full of photo albums, his sweatshirt from college, but no coat.

Ray gave up and headed to the kitchen, where he realized he hadn't actually bought coffee for the following morning and rolled his eyes, smacked his forehead. He grabbed his keys and opened to door to leave, and there was Fraser, standing in the doorway with his fist poised for a knock.

Ray looked at him, at the rucksack and duffel slung over his shoulders, and threw himself at Fraser, wrapping him in a vise-like hug. His keys fell to the floor, and he stuck his nose down Fraser's collar. "I am so glad you are back from vacation," he mumbled against Fraser's chest, but Fraser seemed to understand and folded Ray into his arms. "I missed you too," he said against Ray's hair.


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