Title: No Sleep Tonight
Fandom/Pairing: ER - Ray/Neela
Rating: FRM (Fan Rated suitable for Mature persons)
Disclaimer: ER and its characters are the property of Michael Crichton, John Wells, Amblin Entertainment and Constant C Productions. No infringement intended, used without permission, please don't sue, yadda yadda yadda.
Content Warning: Sexual content; hinting, mostly. Nothing directly explicit. But Ray also has a very dirty mouth when he's thinking. :P
Spoilers: Light spoilers for the latter part of S12, but none for S13.
Summary: He didn't have a very good track record with words when it came to her. [RayNeela, slight MorrisJane]
Thanks to emony2 for looking it over. :)
If you're drinking or eating something, you might wanna put it down before you click. Just sayin'. ;)
Notes: This is an AU, set during S13. It's been 8 months since Neela moved out and 6 since Morris moved in. I have no idea how far Abby's apartment (the one Neela moved into) is from Ray's, so I made it up. This idea came out of a conversation on the Ray/Neela thread at Fanforum. My muses will do it anywhere, lol.
© 2006, By: Ash Carroll (a.k.a. Shadow_Diva)
It was well past midnight when Ray finally trudged up the front steps of his building. He'd worked the day shift from hell on the heels of a double, and all he wanted was a cold beer and the next twelve hours to sleep off the last twenty-four.
Letting himself in, he dropped his bag and stopped dead.
Jane was standing in his kitchen, wearing a shirt he knew belonged to Morris - and precious little else - holding a can of spray cheese.
He blinked. Sweet Jesus. Hell with beer. This was gonna require something stronger. Like maybe a tequila shot the size of Lake - Fucking - Michigan.
"Oh, hey, Ray," Jane greeted him, as though the situation were perfectly normal.
"Ja-nie!" Morris called in a sing-song voice from the direction of his bedroom, "Your Archie-boy wants some cheese on his salami!"
Ray closed his eyes and shook his head. Okay, check that. Not Lake - Fucking - Michigan. More like Lake - Fucking - which one was the biggest?
"Coming!" Jane called back.
"Not without me, I hope," Morris countered seductively and Ray nearly lost his dinner.
"Never without you," Jane promised as she headed back toward the bedroom.
Ray blinked and shook his head. What. The Fuck. Maybe he'd slept through his alarm and this was all a bad dream. 'Course if that were true, he'd be in deep shit with Weaver when he finally did wake up, but he'd rather deal with her than -
"Oh yeah, Jane. Yeah. Right...there."
The acoustics in his apartment were great to rehearse with a band - when he'd still had one - but not so much for the feature presentation of Morris Does Jane in Dolby Digital Surround Sound. Now he knew what Neela went through when she'd lived here with him.
"Ooooh, Archie. You're so bi-"
The front door slammed shut before she'd even finished the word.
Ray made it as far as the sidewalk before he realized he had nowhere to go. Luka and Abby had a baby to take care of, Pratt was probably in a similar position as Morris, and Bret and the guys were in L.A.
There was always Neela, but he wasn't sure that was a good idea. They were only just getting back to where they were before she'd moved in. And where they were before she'd moved in didn't include him showing up on her doorstep - okay, Abby's doorstep - in the middle of the night. Unfortunately, he was out of options, because he sure as hell wasn't going back upstairs.
Well, that settled that.
Shoving his hands into his pockets with a sigh, he started walking. The streets were all but deserted and he looked up at the darkened windows with a stab of envy; all the people who didn't have an obnoxious, over-sexed roommate were probably sleeping.
With another sigh, Ray trudged on - and found himself at her door fifteen blocks later.
Surprise registered on her face as she opened it. "Ray? What are you doing here?"
There was a time when he would've known exactly what to say to that question, but lately - like the last 8 months - he didn't have a very good track record with words when it came to her. He couldn't find the words then to make her stay, couldn't find the words to comfort her, couldn't find the words to make her let him in, and couldn't find the words now to explain why he was standing at her door at 2 AM.
He knew he had to say something, so he settled for the first thing that came to his mind.
She blinked and moved aside so he could come in. "What for?" she asked, eyeing him curiously as she closed the door behind him.
Ray stopped and faced her, hands shoved in his pockets. "Every band groupie I ever brought home when we lived together."
Neela shot her former roommate a confused glance. "You came all the way over here in the middle of the night to tell me that?"
He seemed to think about it for a moment, then shook his head as if to clear it, and she watched as a string of emotions flickered through his tired eyes. "You're right, I shouldn't have - this was - I'll just - I'm - sorry."
Neela watched as he turned to leave, missing him before he'd even gone - just as she had the last eight months. And her heart forced her to call out and stop him before her mind had a chance to voice its objection. "Ray, wait."
He halted in his tracks, but didn't turn around. It didn't matter; she didn't need to see his face. Even after eight months of separation - after all the tension that had passed between them since she'd left him standing alone on the sidewalk in front of their old building, holding his heart in his hands - she could still read him like a book. She knew every dog-eared page, every tattered corner, and she had a feeling if she let him walk away tonight, it would be the last time. And she couldn't let that happen, not when she'd finally realized how much she needed him in her life.
He turned to face her, uncertainty and surprise written on his face. "It's late -"
"And something drove you here and made you apologize for bringing groupies home," she finished quietly. "What's going on? Talk to me."
He sighed and his shoulders slumped in defeat. "Jane was in the kitchen when I got home."
Neela crossed to the kitchen and retrieved two beers from the fridge, handing one to him. "She's not that bad, Ray."
He followed her to the couch, where they settled in. "Would you still be saying that if she was standing in your kitchen wearing one of Morris's t-shirts and not much else?"
She thought for a minute as she took a drag from her bottle. "Probably not."
"And I won't even mention the rest. Let's just say I've been given a very effective demonstration of how thin the walls really are."
"That certainly explains the apology," she answered, trying and failing to keep the grin off her face, and for a moment, it was almost as though the past eight months had never happened and nothing had changed.
But the levity of the situation was gone too soon, leaving an awkward silence behind, and she cleared her throat to fill it.
Ray drained the last of his beer and stood abruptly, clearing his own throat. "It's late, and I should probably..." He jerked a thumb at the door.
Neela stood as well. "You don't have to. I mean - it's late, and you're probably exhausted, and -" She gave him an uncertain smile. "I rented The Omen, but I was too scared to watch it."
He looked at her for a moment, then answered her smile with one of his own. "The original, right? Not the new one? 'Cause there is no substitute for the real thing."
Her smile widened and she nodded as Ray settled back down on the couch. Digging out the DVD, she put in the player, and filled the space beside him as she grabbed the remote and started the movie.
No substitute for the real thing. Truer words had never been spoken.
X-posted to neela_ray and morris_jane