Welsh's voice boomed out across the entire classroom, and Louis flinched instinctively. He knew that eventually his superiors' loud voices would become something to ignore, or at least, not shit your pants over, but he was new to this whole academy thing, and Welsh was scary. So, he shut the goddamn hell up and faced the front of the room. Welsh was actually pretty young, he realized, but he had that "weary cop trying to ignore a crowd of civilians" look down pat. It made Louis want to not be a civilian that much more. Made him want to study and learn and become a cop, finally, so he could be looked upon as an equal. So that nobody would mispronounce his name ever again, or shorten it, or pet him, like his mother still did. He almost scowled as he thought of that, and puffed out his chest. Maybe he could grow a beard while he was at it. He scratched his smooth chin and cheeks. Yeah, being rough and smoking and drinking coffee and carrying a loaded pistol. He could do that. He was behind that a hundred percent.
Louis turned to the guy sitting next to him, watched him for any signs of weakness. He looked all right enough - about his age, scared shitless, like a young punk who found his way to a room full of cops by mistake. Well, not really a punk - maybe that was just the hair. It was kind of rebellious looking; definitely a little odd. Louis wondered if that guy would grow a beard, too. He kind of hoped he wouldn't - he'd look kind of dumb with a beard, or at least not as good as he did now. Louis caught his own thought and stoppered it. Looking down, he saw the guy had a wedding ring on. Yeah, okay, so that had been a near-weakness kind of moment right there. He'd have to watch himself. He counted up all the reasons he was here today, on his first day at the police academy. They all added up to one thing, and he grabbed it and stayed with it. He wouldn't stray from here on out. He'd study and learn and become a cop and learn to smoke and drink bad coffee and grow a beard and he'd make a life for himself. A real good life. And he'd have a real good partner, eventually, and he'd make Detective First Class, and everything would be good, then. A real good life.
He turned to the guy next to him, and whispered:
"Hey, I'm Louis. You new too, right? First year?"
The guy turned to him, a shock of a stare, burning right through him. "Yeah. I'm Ray. Good to meet you. Scary stuff, right?"
Louis swallowed around his dry tongue and grinned. "Yeah. Terrifying. Should be fun, though, yeah?"
Ray smiled and nodded. "Oh, yeah. A barrel-full."