Title: Wining and Dining
Characters/Pairing: Chris, Ray (pre-slash if you squint)
Rating: White Cortina
Word count: approx. 800
Disclaimer: LoM belongs to Kudos and the BBC. No money being made here.
Summary: Chris finally moves into a place of his own. And what sort of alcohol really says ‘I love you’?
Notes: I wasn’t sure if I could write something that wasn’t Sam/Gene (or anything that was White Cortina, for that matter *g*), but what do you know…I’ve managed this fluffy little thing that has some passing references to alcohol. Hurrah!
“When you said did I fancy a curry, I didn’t realise this was what you meant,” said Ray, taking a seat at the small dining table in Chris’ kitchen.
“Well, I just thought that it would be a good house-warming dinner, you know, seeing as how you’re the first person I’ve had over to my new flat” said Chris, pouring them both large glasses of beer.
Ray took a large swig from his glass as Chris turned back to the counter and fiddled with a pan on the stove.
“I didn’t know you could cook,” said Ray, images of him taking the piss out of Tyler for being a gay-boy chef running guiltily through his mind.
Chris continued to stir the pan, speaking with his back turned to Ray.
“My mam gave me the recipe. My dad was in India when he was in the army and Mam learnt to cook curries ‘cos he likes ‘em.”
Chris turned off the gas and dished some food onto a plate which he set in front of Ray. “She told me the best place to buy spices and everything.” He turned back to spoon food onto a second plate.
Ray, who wasn’t even sure if he himself owned a pan, sniffed suspiciously at his dish. Blimey – it actually smelled really good.
“This smells really good.”
Chris went a bit red as he took his seat opposite Ray.
“Well, you’d better try it before you say you like it.”
Ray blew on a forkful of rice and curry, then took a mouthful and chewed with a look of rapt concentration.
“Yep.” He announced. “I officially like it.”
Chris frowned a little uncertainly at the table. “Me mam said I should have got some white wine to have with it…”
“I’d rather have beer than Liebfraumilch any day” replied Ray, raising his glass in a mock-toast. Chris grinned back at him, and clinked his glass against Ray’s.
For a few minutes they lapsed into a comfortable silence as they both ate. It really was good, and Ray felt quite honoured that Chris had asked him over – and a little guilty that on the odd occasion that Chris had come round to his place Ray had only ever offered him a beer.
Ray paused for another drink, and it was at about that point that he started to realise that something was amiss. There were lighted candles, for a start. Set to one side of the table, admittedly, but they were there, right next to a couple of carnations stuck in the top of an old wine bottle. And napkins, he realised belatedly.
Ray Carling was not, despite occasional appearances to the contrary, a stupid man. A disturbing suspicion started to form. He looked over at Chris, taking in his flushed, happy face.
He cleared his throat. “Did your mam suggest the candles as well?”
“Oh, err, well…yeah. Um, she said that dinner was better that way. You know, more atmospheric, like.”
“Chris,” he asked slowly, “who does your mam think you’ve asked round for dinner?”
There was an uncomfortable silence broken only by the clatter of Chris’s fork on his plate. Ray continued to look at him steadily. He didn’t really want to put Chris on the spot, but felt a strange, compelling urge to get to the truth. Chris’ expression turned from happy to mortified, and he looked down at his hands.
“Beryl,” Chris mumbled, “the new plonk.”
Ray set down his own fork. Chris was his best mate, and although Ray often took the piss out of him, he hated seeing him look so lost. He searched for the right words.
“I don’t know,” Chris blurted out, sounding anguished, “it was the first name that popped into my head.”
“…no, I mean why aren’t you having dinner with her, then?”
For a moment Chris was silent, then he spoke in a low voice, still looking down at his hands. “Because…you’re my mate. And we have a laugh. And I thought…” he faltered. Ray took pity on him.
“Well, you’re right. I am. And we do. Daft git.” He couldn’t help smiling fondly as Chris tentatively raised his eyes.
After a moment Ray cleared his throat. “I know how to make shepherd’s pie.”
Chris’s face brightened considerably. “I love shepherd’s pie.”
“Right then. Next weekend, you and me, round at mine, shepherd’s pie.”
Chris beamed at him as though it was the best invitation he had ever heard.
Ray grinned back, then turned back to finish his dinner in thoughtful silence. He wondered where he could get some candlesticks from, and how he could find out which wine would go best with shepherd’s pie without having to ask that annoying ponce Tyler.