Lighter Footed Than the Fox
A sequel, of sorts, to An Elf by Any Other Name, wherein a boring weekend afternoon gets more interesting than either of the Lads had expected.
Curiosity--and boredom--getting the better of him, Bodie decided now was a perfect time to broach the subject he'd been saving up for days.
"So what was it, then?"
Doyle glanced over at him, puzzled. "Eh?"
"What was it?" Bodie repeated.
"What was what?"
"The name your bird called you."
"What bird?" Doyle asked, obviously completely lost by this point.
Bodie sighed, and explained, "Last week. In the pub. The one you were hiding from--"
"I wasn't hiding!"
Bodie lifted an eyebrow; Doyle turned and stared back out the car window, sliding down an inch in his seat and pushing his sunglasses more firmly up his nose.
"The bird you were...uninterested in seeing just then...had given you a pet name when you were going out with her."
Bodie waited a minute, then prodded him in the biceps. "So, what was it, then?"
"What was what?" Doyle asked.
Bodie took a very deep breath and let it out slowly. "What was the name she called you?"
"All right, all right, no need to burst my eardrum," Doyle muttered, rubbing at the abused organ. "I thought you forgot about that, anyway."
"Yeah, well, I'm bored, aren't I?" Bodie replied. "We've been staring at that bloody house for three hours already, if you hadn't noticed."
"An' what if we've missed something, with you being so nosy?" Doyle demanded, sitting up and looking intently at the house in question. "Anything could've happened."
Not one of Doyle's better evasive tactics, Bodie thought, leaning back against his door and studying the other man. Looks like a bloody pointer, sniffing the air trying to find a duck. "You're avoiding the issue," he announced. "I wonder why...."
"There, see?" Doyle exclaimed triumphantly, lifting one hand just to dashboard level to point at the front door. "Someone's walking up the steps! Oh, damn, 's just the post." He slumped back and jotted the incident down, the disappointment on his face turning to mild outrage as he realised that his partner was bright red from silent laughter. "Something amusing, mate?" Doyle inquired acidly.
Bodie hastily choked down his mirth; no way was he explaining this one. "No, no, nothing, sorry. Just a stray thought. Was nothing, really," he finished, trying to look earnest. He had a feeling that he'd failed miserably. A distraction was definitely in order.
"Okay, so you won't tell me the name--yet. I'm a patient man, I can wait. But at least tell me why she thought you looked like a fairy."
"An elf," Doyle gritted out, "not a fairy."
"Oh, sorry--an elf. Right. Quite different from fairies, I'm sure," Bodie said politely. If Doyle only knew...nasty little creatures, fairies were. Bad-tempered, argumentative, sarky as all hell-nothing like the suave, sophisticated Bodie and his elven kin. Although come to think of it...Bodie tilted his head back to look at his partner from under his lashes more easily, and grinned to himself. Maybe 'fairy' wasn't such a bad description for the stroppy little sod, after all.
Realising the silence had begun to stretch, Bodie lifted a foot to nudge Doyle's thigh. "Come on, mate--why'd she think you look like a fai--an elf? Oi, you got pointed ears?" he demanded, leaning forward to check for himself, trapping Doyle against the steering wheel as he reached for the nearest ear hidden under all the curls.
"Get off, you maniac!" Doyle yelped, shoving him away with a hard forearm--attached to a sharp elbow.
Bodie thumped back into the door, and spared a second's thought to be glad it had stayed shut--not very dignified, falling out of the car on stakeout!--and pouted at his partner. "Was just trying to see," he said.
"Yeah, well, don't, okay?" Doyle replied, tugging his jacket back into place, then running a hand over his ear to make sure no damage had been done. "Besides, it wasn't my ears. It was my eyes," he muttered, staring out the window again.
Bodie, fascinated, watched the ever-so-faint flush creeping up Doyle's neck, and schooled his expression to neutrality--or as close as he could get to it. "Eyes, eh? What about 'em? They're just eyes, right?"
"Yeah, they are! I don't know why she went so nuts over 'em, but she did. That and..." he trailed off into muttering, the flush deepening a bit.
Bodie raised an eyebrow. This was getting interesting. "That and...what?" he asked.
"My 'slender build'," Doyle admitted, glaring at the house they were supposed to be watching.
"Well, you are a bit on the skinny side," Bodie observed, then yelped as very hard, very bony knuckles caught him in the arm. "That's not a very nice thing to do to your best mate," he pointed out.
Doyle didn't reply.
Okay, maybe it would be better to leave the 'slender build' alone for now. "Take 'em off, then," Bodie demanded.
"The sunglasses, mate, take 'em off."
"Oh." Doyle sounded relieved, and didn't even object as he took the glasses off. "Why?" he asked.
Bodie caught him by the chin and pulled his head further around so he could see better, this too good an opportunity to pass up. "Wanna see what's so special about your eyes, of course," he said, matter-of- factly.
"Don't be daft," Doyle said, trying to pull away. Bodie tightened his grip slightly.
"Hold still, would you? I'm only looking."
"This is ridiculous," Doyle muttered, but held still. "Seen enough?" he inquired politely a few seconds later.
Bodie tilted his head to one side, then the other, thoroughly enjoying the chance to study his partner's face and eyes this closely without being thought odd--after all, it was Doyle's own fault he was interested, right? "Well, they're green. And sorta slanty. That why she thought...?" he trailed off delicately, mindful of the minor collection of bruises he was collecting during this conversation.
"Yeah, that's why," Doyle agreed. "I s'pose. I tried not to let her talk about it much. Bloody embarrassing. Can I have my face back now, please?" he added.
Bodie blinked, realising he was still cupping the other man's chin in his hand, and smiled blindingly. "Of course, mate, of course," he agreed cheerfully. He patted the stubbled jaw and let go.
Doyle's eyes widened, then narrowed suspiciously, but he just shook his head after a second, muttering, "Nutter," under his breath. Bodie dared to reach out and pat him again, manfully resisting the temptation to brush a thumb across the full lips, and settled back in his seat with an innocent expression.
Silence descended while both men turned their attention back to the house they were supposed to be watching. A few minutes later, Bodie drew in a breath and opened his mouth to ask another question about the mysterious name, then looked at his partner and shut it again without saying anything. Doyle had tensed ever so slightly at the movement, and Bodie lifted a mental eyebrow at the reaction. He waited a minute or two, then repeated the about-to-talk bit, watching as Doyle tensed minutely again.
Bodie grinned inwardly. New game!
At random intervals over the next half hour, he pretended to be about to start talking, watching in delight as Doyle got increasingly tense, until the other man was practically jumping every time Bodie breathed. Any minute now, he thought to himself, and did it again.
Sure enough--"WHAT?!" Doyle exploded furiously, turning to glare at him.
"What what?" Bodie asked innocently. "And keep your eyes on the house, could be something happening."
Doyle snarled, but turned back. "What is it that you so badly want to say?" he asked tightly. "You may as well just go ahead and say it!"
"Me?" Bodie pointed to himself in shock. "Why would I want to say anything?" He watched interestedly as Doyle's hands clenched on the steering wheel, white-knuckled. He couldn't remember the last time he'd been able to wind his partner up this much with so little effort. Time to back off, just a little bit...he settled back into his seat quietly, shooting the other man a puzzled look or two. Slowly, Doyle started to relax again. Judging his moment nicely, Bodie waited until the hands loosened on the wheel, then announced casually, "Only, I was thinking..." and grinned to himself as the hands tightened again.
"What?" Doyle grated out.
"D'you reckon Cowley'd know if I nipped down to a shop and got us something to eat? I'm starving!"
He watched happily as Doyle's body went completely rigid.
"What?" came the strangled reply.
"Lunch!" Bodie said, injecting as much hunger into his voice as he could. Not difficult; his stomach really was starting to send signals that it was entirely too empty.
"Lunch? LUNCH? You've spent the last half hour trying to work up the bottle to ask about LUNCH?"
"Well, yeah. Knew you'd just tell me I should've packed something," Bodie said sulkily.
"Well, you should've!" Doyle shouted, then shook his head angrily. "I don't believe you!"
Bodie couldn't help it; the laughter bubbled up in him until he couldn't hold it in anymore, and he collapsed weakly back into his seat, howling.
He risked a glance at the furious face, and was promptly convulsed with laughter again.
"Oh, mate, your face," he gasped out finally.
Doyle's jaw clenched even tighter, and one hand shot out to grab a fistful of Bodie's shirt. Bodie, knowing he was asking for a black eye and just not caring at the moment, grinned at him. Green eyes narrowed, then suddenly a reluctant glint of humour shone in their depths. With one final shake, Doyle released Bodie and sat back.
"Set myself up for that, didn't I?" Doyle finally asked ruefully, rubbing his nose.
Bodie glanced over at him fondly. "Yep."
"Yeah, well, I wasn't best pleased about giving you that much stuff to use against me."
"I was," Bodie said happily.
Doyle waved a fist, scowling, but the twinkle was well and truly back in his eye, and Bodie just grinned at him. They settled back to keep watching, until a loud rumble broke the comfortable silence that had filled the car.
"I told you I was hungry," Bodie said defensively as Doyle turned to stare at him.
"That was your stomach? Sounded like Vesuvius about to blow again!"
"Oh, very funny. Look, you want anything? There was a shop just around the corner, I'll be back in a tick." Bodie was reaching for the door handle as he spoke, eager to find something to fill the vast hollow that had taken his stomach's place.
"Yeah, all right, get me--" Doyle began, only to be interrupted.
"Control to 4.5."
Bodie let go the handle with a resigned sigh, returning Doyle's rueful look as the other man reached for the radio. "4.5."
"Operation is cancelled, 4.5. You and 3.7 are off-duty until 7 a.m. Control out."
"Thanks, Control. 4.5 out."
"Did I hear that right?" Bodie asked in disbelief. "We've got the whole afternoon and night off?"
"That's what the man said," Doyle agreed, glee in his tone.
"Wonder why they cancelled the obbo?"
"For God's sake, don't start asking questions!" Doyle said, starting the car and pulling out. "We'll find out tomorrow when we go in."
"Assuming the Old Man decides to tell us," Bodie added realistically.
"Assuming that," Doyle agreed. "You want to have lunch at my place?" he offered. "I've got some stuff in that needs to be used up."
Bodie, never averse to spending time in Doyle's company, promptly agreed. Then, "Oh, damn," he said ruefully.
"I've just remembered, I've got a steak in the fridge that needs to be eaten today."
"Tell you what--we'll stop by your place to pick up the steak, bring it back to my flat, and you can stay for dinner, too."
"Perfect," Bodie said happily. His day really couldn't get any better-- an unexpected afternoon free, an invitation from Ray to spend the whole time together, and to top it all off, Doyle would do all the cooking, since he didn't trust Bodie to do more than open a tin.
Lunch having been a great success--hard to go wrong when Bodie was the one eating--they were wrangling cheerfully over whether or not to do the dishes before they went out, and what exactly they were going to do once they went out. Doyle wanted to go for a long run, since they hadn't been able to that morning, and maybe get in some tennis afterwards. Bodie was pushing the idea of an afternoon on the river, in hopes of getting Doyle to do the rowing so he could take a nap.
Loud rumbling interrupted them yet again.
"After everything you just ate!" Doyle said, shocked.
Bodie cuffed him. "Berk," he said good-naturedly. "It's thunder!"
Together, they moved to stand in front of the window, staring morosely at the downpour.
"Thought it'd got a bit dark," Doyle admitted. "Where the hell did that come from, anyway?"
"Dunno. But somehow the thought of an afternoon on the river--"
"Jogging and tennis."
"--just doesn't sound as much fun now."
"No, it doesn't," Doyle agreed with a sigh. "Still," he added, brightening, "the day doesn't have to be a total loss. The flat could use a good cleaning. Rainy days are best for that, my mum always said. Then I shan't have to worry about it on my next day off." He beamed cheerfully at Bodie.
Bodie stared back at him, horrified. "You expect me to spend my afternoon off cleaning your flat?"
The bright face fell, and Doyle somehow managed to project an image of slumped despondency without even changing position. "No, of course not," he said, voice laden with false cheer. "It's a lot to ask of a mate with free time on his hands. You go on, have yourself a good day-- you wanna take the steak with you, maybe ring one of your girlfriends to come over to your place and cook it for you?"
Bodie glared at the unhappy face, knowing full well he was being taken but unable to resist all that brave, sorrowful loneliness. "All right, all right--where do you keep your hoover?"
Doyle was beaming at him again.
The things I do for him, Bodie thought ruefully a couple of hours later from his spot on the settee, looking fondly down the length of it to the sprawled form of his partner at the other end. "Oi!" he said, kicking lightly at one trainered foot.
Doyle stirred and opened one eye to glare at him. "What?"
"Least you could do is get me a beer, after I've been charring for you all day."
"All day! 'S only been a couple of hours. And you know where the kitchen is."
"Ought to, spent enough time in there today," Bodie grumbled quietly. He hated mopping, and he still couldn't figure out exactly how Doyle had wriggled out of that particular chore. Remembering his purpose, he kicked the foot again. "'M thirsty," he said plaintively.
"Oh, all right," Doyle said, making a great show of heaving himself up and moving slowly--clearly exhausted--toward the kitchen, wincing ever so slightly with every other step.
"And it's no good you pretending you can hardly move, I'm the one was doing the heavy work," Bodie shouted after him. A smug chuckle drifted back toward him, and he couldn't help but grin in response. It was all worth it, for the chance to spend time with Ray alone.
He watched in pure appreciation from beneath his lids as Doyle came back, two cans of lager in one hand and a bag of crisps in the other, moving once again with his customary lithe grace. Definitely worth it, he thought happily as he accepted the beer.
"Not a word," Doyle warned, holding up the crisps before he placed the bag on the coffee table next to the cleaning rags.
"Wouldn't dream of it, mate," Bodie assured him, popping open his beer and swigging almost half of it down. He grabbed the bag and started eating crisps, washing them down with swallows of beer.
Doyle dropped down beside him with a soft grunt, then opened his own beer and took a long draught. Bodie watched the elegant throat working, barely noticing the pang of wanting that had become practically second nature to him by now when he watched his partner doing just about anything. He raised his eyes to find a steady green gaze fixed on him with an unreadable expression. Panicked, Bodie reached desperately for a thread of conversation that would steer Doyle away from asking why he was so fascinated by an Adam's apple, of all things. But it's a gorgeous Adam's apple, a voice protested.
Aghast, Bodie glanced away, praying he hadn't said that aloud. He braced himself and looked at Doyle again, who hadn't changed expression. Safe. He essayed a smile. Doyle cocked his head. Maybe not safe.
"What are you up to, Trouble?" Doyle asked.
Admitting openly, if only internally, to cowardice in this particular situation, Bodie took refuge in his beer, only to realise he'd drained it dry in just a few swallows. Without thinking, he began siphoning off some of Doyle's, knowing that, as usual, the other man would never notice that some of his drink had mysteriously disappeared.
Inspiration struck. Maybe not safe inspiration, but at least it would provide a distraction. "You're gonna thump me," Bodie predicted with a rueful smile.
"I am, am I?"
"Yeah. Was thinking about this morning, in the car."
Doyle groaned. "Not that again," he begged.
"Told you," Bodie replied with a shrug. "But honestly, Ray, why did it upset you so much? D'you really think it'd be so bad?"
"What? Being thought of as an elf?" Doyle replied, tone close to scathing. "Yes, I do!"
"But why? What's wrong with elves? Always thought it'd be rather nice to meet an elf...."
Silence for a moment, then, kindly, "Bodie, mate, I hate to have to tell you this, but there's no such thing as elves."
Bodie grinned in quick appreciation, glancing over to see Doyle's earnestly sympathetic face looking back at him, eyes twinkling. The distraction had certainly worked, anyway.
"Ta. But what if there were? Would it be so bad to be one?"
"What, to really be one, you mean?"
"Christ, you are bored, aren't you?"
Bodie didn't reply.
"Okay, okay. Would it be so bad to be an elf. I dunno--I can't quite see it, meself. All that prancing about in gardens in the moonlight, singing and playing on harps... what is so funny? You're the one who asked the question!"
Doyle sounded slightly offended, and Bodie hastily controlled his laughter, though he couldn't do a thing about the grin plastered across his face. He didn't want the other man to start sulking again the way he had that morning.
"Sorry, mate," he apologised easily, "but that's not the kind of elf I meant. I can't quite see that either--although come to think of it, you'd look a treat prancing around in the garden wearing nothing but a gauze tunic...." He blocked the incoming punch easily, still grinning, relieved at the laughter that was back in his partner's eyes.
Apparently satisfied that Bodie hadn't just been sending him up, Doyle settled back, resigned to the topic of discussion. He wriggled around a bit until he could see Bodie comfortably, then asked, "So what did you mean, then? And what do you mean, the kind of elf? Elves are elves, right?"
"Nah. There's all kinds of elves. Could be a compliment to be called one, really."
Doyle's hand stopped halfway to his mouth as he raised disbelieving eyebrows at his mate. "Oh yeah? And what do you know about it?" He let his hand finish its journey, tipping the can up to drain it, frowning slightly as he realised how little was left in it.
"Drinking that a bit fast, aren't you?" Bodie asked reprovingly. "Ought to pace yourself better, like me." To prove his point, he drained the last several swallows of his, grinning to himself at Doyle's faint look of consternation. This had been one of his favourite games since their very first meeting; he never got tired of it. "And I know enough about elves to know that they don't all spend all their time dancing and playing harps."
"Okay, then," Doyle challenged, "what kind of elf were you talking about, that you reckon it wouldn't be so bad to be one?"
"I meant more like...." Bodie hesitated, not sure he should do this, then plunged ahead. He'd probably never get a better chance to find out how his partner would react to the truth. "Like a real elf would be, not a fairy-tale elf." He stopped, waiting resignedly for the scorn, but none was forthcoming.
"Only kind I ever heard about were the fairy-tale ones. What d'you mean, a real elf?" Doyle asked, clearly willing to play along.
Bodie breathed out a silent sigh of pure relief. The first hurdle passed; his partner didn't think him completely mad. Yet. "I always reckoned they'd be...well, warriors, like. Fightin' to survive, to protect what was theirs."
Doyle didn't reply for a moment, looking lost in thought. "That would be okay," he decided. "Sounds a lot like us, as a matter of fact."
"Yeah," Bodie agreed. "More than you know," he added in an undertone.
Doyle shot him a suspicious look; Bodie beamed cheerfully at him. After a tricky moment when he was sure that Doyle was going to push the matter--and part of him almost wished he would--the danger passed. With a mix of relief and regret, Bodie changed the subject.
"Don't know about you, mate, but I'm getting thirsty again. How 'bout another?" he asked hopefully, holding up his empty can.
"'M not surprised, the way you went through those crisps," Doyle retorted. He reached for the bag, glaring in accusation as he shook it. "You've finished them!"
"It was practically empty when you brought it in!" Bodie protested, comfortably full.
The glare lasted another few seconds, then a reluctant smile tugged at Doyle's lips. "Smug bastard," he said resignedly. "Hope you're not expecting me to fetch you more now!"
Without waiting for an answer, he stood and stretched unselfconsciously, T-shirt pulling up to expose skin, making Bodie's mouth go dry as he watched the play of muscles. Dropping out of the stretch, Doyle gathered up most of the detritus from the coffee table and started towards the kitchen, his hands full. Bodie grabbed his empty beer can and headed after him in hopes of ferreting out more edible snack food, reaching ahead to pat Doyle encouragingly on the bum without thinking. Instead of moving forward from the pat like usual, though, Doyle stopped dead, and as he took one more step Bodie found himself with a palmful of jeans-covered arse, hand reflexively curving happily to hold as much of it as possible. He froze.
They stood like that for a moment, two, time stretching painfully. Bodie longed to move his hand, caressing his prize, but didn't dare--he couldn't believe Doyle hadn't punched him yet as it was. A pat or two was one thing, but this was definitely something else again. Just as he had decided that the only way to get out of this was to move his hand away--since Doyle was showing no signs of going anywhere--and was trying to convince his hand to do just that instead of staying moulded where it so obviously belonged, Doyle turned his head to look at him.
Bodie gulped, frozen again, hand still in place, eyes very wide.
Doyle studied his face for a minute, then nodded. "Don't move."
"No," Bodie agreed, heart hammering. Doyle didn't look angry--but he didn't look amused, either. He just looked...contained. A flash of intense regret swept through Bodie as the other man moved away, leaving his hand empty and chill in the air; he'd probably never dare pat his friend again after this, assuming they even still stayed friends. He'd obviously given himself away completely, and if he wasn't just about to get the push--a distinct possibility, he admitted numbly--there were definitely going to be some "hands off" rules laid down, if he knew his partner. Doyle carried his load into the kitchen, returned and took Bodie's forgotten--and now rather crushed--can away as well, then finally came back and stopped in front of him. Clear green eyes stared into Bodie's for another few seconds, and something cold landed in Bodie's hand.
"Thought we could use that beer," Doyle said neutrally.
"Thanks," Bodie replied, cautious, still unmoving.
Doyle sighed. "Come on back into the lounge, all right?"
Bodie followed obediently, wondering desperately where this was going. Half of him was screaming at him to get out, to get clear, to protect himself. The other half knew damn well it was already too late. He sat down on the settee and put the beer on the coffee table, and waited.
"Would you stop looking like a spaniel that's been kicked?!" Doyle demanded abruptly, sounding irritated.
Bodie's head snapped up and he gaped for a second. "What?"
"You look," Doyle said clearly, "as though you expect me to stomp on you. Or at the very least thump you one."
"Don't suppose I could blame you," Bodie said quietly, eyes dropping briefly.
"You daft...oh, dammit. If I'm wrong, you're gonna kill me."
Confused, Bodie raised his eyes again, just in time to see Doyle closing in, and to feel a lightly brushed kiss against his lips.
He stared, stunned, as Doyle sat back, looking defiant and not a little apprehensive. "Did you just kiss me?" he asked, needing to get that point clear.
"Yeah, I did." The tone was pure belligerence.
"You taking the piss?" He tried very hard to convince himself that his voice didn't sound as desperate as he thought it did.
Doyle shook his head slowly. "No."
Relief flooded him, and Bodie smiled, a great, beaming smile that he could feel spreading across his whole face. "You weren't wrong," he said. Leaning forward, he slid one hand into Doyle's hair and the other around the trim waist. Doyle's chin lifted slightly, urging him on, and Bodie happily obliged, kissing him gently.
"Been wantin' this for a long time," Doyle muttered, trailing hungry lips across Bodie's face.
"You have?" Bodie asked, surprised in spite of himself.
"Yeah." Ray lifted his head long enough to look at him, admitting, "I never dared do anything about it, though. Could never tell if you really wanted me, or if you were just being matey--well, you touch everyone, don't you?"
"Not like I touch you," Bodie pointed out.
"No." Doyle licked him thoughtfully on the chin. "But I still wasn't sure. Tried dropping hints, but then I wasn't sure if you were picking up on the hints and wanted me back, or picking up on them and deciding to take the piss."
"I wasn't taking the piss," Bodie said fervently.
Doyle smiled sweetly. "Good." He started kissing and licking his way along Bodie's jaw again, sliding one hand up to cradle Bodie's head.
Bodie shifted to give Ray better access to his neck, convinced that having that mouth nibbling away on him would keep him happy forever. Tell him. Strong teeth, being so gentle. Warm lips. Wet tongue. Yep, this was just about perfect--and oh, god, he was moving further down, opening Bodie's shirt to go exploring. Who would have thought you could improve on perfection? He's not a one-off, he deserves the truth. No, no, go back to concentrating on that clever tongue.... You've got to tell him.
Later, I'll tell him later--can't interrupt things now, 'd be cruel. He won't believe me, anyway, Bodie tried, without much hope. He'd never been able to win an argument with that little voice. Bloody conscience.
Sure enough--He doesn't have to believe you. If you don't tell him now, you can never tell him because he'll never forgive you for keeping a secret like this, and any future you have with him will be a lie.
"Umm, Ray...." Bodie tightened his grip on Ray's hair, tugging gently.
"I'm getting there, don't worry," Ray promised huskily, raising his head to smile at Bodie out of darkened eyes.
"No," Bodie managed, "that's not what I meant. Can I talk to you for a minute?"
Doyle blinked. "You want to talk?"
"Now?" he checked.
Doyle's face shuttered, and he abruptly sat up and turned away from Bodie. "Sorry, mate, guess I misunderstood after all, didn't mean to--"
"No!" Bodie yelped, sitting up himself and grabbing for him. "No, that's not what I meant," he continued more calmly as Ray let himself be held. "Love what we're doing, been wanting it for years. 'S just...there's something I have to tell you before we go any further."
"Well, that sounds ominous," Doyle said, but looked relieved. "Deep, dark secrets time, is it?"
"Something like that, yeah," Bodie admitted.
"Do this with everyone you start snogging?" he inquired.
"No. Just you," Bodie said shortly.
There was a brief silence. "Why me, then?" Doyle asked carefully.
"Because you matter."
"Can't go any further unless I tell you this. But once I do--this is going to be serious for me. Can't just play around, not with you. So you have to decide--do I tell you, and we get serious, or do we chalk the past few minutes up to a boring rainy afternoon and go out to a pub to chat up a couple of birds?"
Doyle stared soberly at him. "You mean that, don't you? That this won't be casual, I mean."
"Good. Tell me whatever it is, and then let's go to bed."
Bodie collapsed back into the cushion again, bones turning to liquid at the intense glow in Ray's eyes. He swallowed hard. He's not going to believe me. "You're not going to believe me, but--"
"--No, wait, just hear me out, okay? You don't have to believe me, I just have to tell you."
"All right, then," Doyle said, looking confused, glow a bit dimmed now, "go ahead."
Bodie took a deep breath. "Right. Remember what we were talking about earlier, about elves?"
"Dammit, Bodie!" Doyle said, drawing further away with an angry flush staining his cheeks, glow completely gone.
Shit, he thinks this was all a set-up! Bodie lurched forward, grabbed him, and held on for dear life, knowing he had to see this through. "Wait," he said tensely, "just wait. You promised to hear me out, remember? So listen for a minute. Then if you want me to leave, I will."
Doyle stared at the hand locked around his wrist, then back up at Bodie. "Okay, I'll listen," he said flatly.
After another deep breath, Bodie continued. "I don't think you look like an elf. In fact, I know you don't look like an elf. Elves in this part of the world have a more solid build, paler skin that doesn't really tan, usually have darker hair." He risked a glance at Doyle, who was staring at him blankly. "Like me," he finished.
"I'm an elf."
There was a brief silence.
"You're an elf," Doyle repeated.
"Told you you wouldn't believe it."
"Then why'd you say it?"
"Because...I needed to. Because I couldn't go any further without saying it. And I want to go further. If you still do."
Doyle stared at him for a minute, brows drawn together in a frown of concentration.
"You're not having me on?"
Bodie shook his head.
"You really believe you're--an elf?" Doyle asked, disbelief still evident in his voice, but obviously trying to deal with this.
Hope rising in him--at least the other man hadn't left yet, or punched him, or laughed himself silly!--Bodie nodded. "Don't believe it, though-- know it. 'S what I am. 'S okay if you don't believe it," he added hastily. "I just wanted you to know. Won't ever mention it again, if you like."
"It's just--it's a bit much, eh? I mean, elves...you, an elf! Don't know if I can believe that, mate." Doyle shook his head, a faint smile tugging at his lips.
"I know," Bodie said, moving the hand that still gripped Doyle's wrist so he could rub his thumb soothingly across the back of his hand. "Like I said, I'll never mention it again, if you'd rather. But...."
Bodie took a deep breath. "But the next move's up to you. Do we carry on, or not?"
Doyle went perfectly still for an instant, lashes sweeping down to hide his eyes. Bodie concentrated on breathing steadily, ignoring the knots appearing in his gut. Idiot, you should have settled for a one-off, he's gonna think you're a right nutter and walk clean out of your life!
Slowly, the green eyes lifted to gaze at him, and Bodie forgot all about breathing. Those eyes were warm with laughter, and lust, and affection, and maybe even something more, and suddenly he knew everything was going to be all right.
"You, mate, are a right nutter," Doyle proclaimed cheerfully. Bodie blinked. "But at least you're not boring. C'mon, if we're gonna carry on I want to do it in comfort." With that he got to his feet, pulling a willing Bodie up with him, and started for the bedroom.
They heeled out of their shoes when they got there, eyes never leaving each other. Bodie caught Doyle around the waist and tumbled them both onto the bed, pulling Ray on top of him. Doyle groaned softly, and started kissing him again, retracing the path he'd started earlier. Kissing and licking had a very definite appeal, but since Ray seemed to be on his own tasting mission, Bodie couldn't get at anything. He contented himself with using his hands, finally able to learn the planes and contours of the back, and backside, he'd been watching for so long. He tugged Ray's T-shirt up to fill his hands with warm skin, pressing the other man close.
Doyle gave a soft 'mmm' of approval. "Like that," he murmured thickly against Bodie's shoulder. "Be even better with fewer clothes involved, though." He lifted upward against Bodie's hands until Bodie let him sit up, quickly pulling his shirt off over his head. Bodie's fingers instantly started mapping out this new territory, testing the differences between belly and ribs and navel and nipples. Ray arched, pushing his chest into the touch, his head falling back to expose his throat.
Drawn to that elegant line, feeling the echo of earlier aching want when he'd watched Ray drinking a beer and had thought he'd never be allowed to do this, Bodie sat up and headed unerringly for the prominent Adam's apple, licking it before starting to kiss every inch of skin he could get to. Ray tasted incredible, addictive, and Bodie gave himself over to the addiction without a thought. Ray cradled the back of Bodie's head in one hand, encouraging him, and worked the other between them to finish unfastening Bodie's shirt.
Slim fingers slid inside the opened shirt to stroke as much of Bodie's warm skin as they could reach, and Bodie gasped into Ray's neck. He wrapped both arms around Ray and held him tight for a moment, then pulled back and stripped his shirt all the way off. Ray licked his lips as he watched the skin being bared, and a jolt of pure fire lanced through Bodie at the sight, centring on his cock, which was starting to feel very constrained in his trousers.
Reading his mind again, Ray reached out and undid the button, then gently pulled the zip down, easing one hand inside to stroke aching flesh. Bodie groaned, hips pushing forward.
"Easy," Ray whispered. "Let's get you out of these, eh? C'mon, that's it, yeah, lift up for me." He kept up the soft instructions and encouragements while he pulled the trousers and briefs all the way down, tugging off Bodie's socks at the same time.
Blindly, Bodie did as he was bid, relief at being bared vying with intense need to be covered by something else entirely. Ray tossed the clothing carelessly aside, licking his lips again at the sight of Bodie laying there spread out before him. Bodie's cock pulsed at the erotic gesture, need threatening to swamp him.
"You," he managed to gasp, reaching for Doyle's jeans. The other man was happy to oblige, and between them they quickly got him stripped off. Bodie stared for a moment, entranced, at the cock that stood there, as hard and hot and hungry as his own. He watched as his own hand reached out, not quite believing this until he felt the weight of it in his hand. He ran his fingers lightly over the whole length, down to the balls and back up again, learning the size and shape. Doyle shivered, and Bodie looked up to meet his eyes, seeing a matching need in them.
He took the wide shoulders in his hands and tugged, hard, and fell back into the mattress, Doyle tumbling on top of him. Lips met in a searching kiss, tongues lapping hungrily into each other's mouths. Bodie curved his hands around Doyle's shoulders to hold him still for the kiss, then started sliding them down the hard back. He didn't stop until they were cupped around Ray's arse, shifting him until their cocks were aligned against each other. He pulled tight, grinding Ray's groin into his, opening his mouth wide as Ray thrust his tongue in hard. His hips started thrusting, and he kept his grip on Ray's arse, using it to help the rhythm as Ray instinctively started thrusting back.
Doyle drew back, gently breaking the hold. "Not so fast. 've plans for you, m'lad," he said huskily. With one last lick at Bodie's lip, he started journeying downward, licking and kissing and nibbling a steady path toward Bodie's groin. His hands were as busy, stroking and petting, finding all of Bodie's sensitive spots until Bodie was quivering underneath him.
Bodie, hands bereft of their favourite prize, settled for stroking the sweat-damp back as it moved downward, until finally he was caressing Ray's shoulders and neck as Ray settled between his legs. The warm breath against his cock had him nearly whimpering, and his fingers started pleading silently. He caught his breath, hard, as his pleas were answered.
If he had had any doubts left that Ray knew what he was doing, they vanished without a trace as that hot, knowing mouth closed over his cock, one firm hand wrapping around the base. His hips surged up off the bed without volition, pushed instantly back down by a hard forearm.
Ray lifted his head, leaving his hand where it was. "Easy," he whispered. "'S all right."
A quick smile, and the curly head bent back down, burying Bodie in heat and wet and safety. He groaned, hands tangling in Ray's hair, needing more, getting it as Ray went to work with a will. Bodie was flying in seconds, lost to everything but the sensation and the knowledge that it was Ray Doyle doing this to him, for him. And oh, Ray was good at this. He brought Bodie higher and higher, never quite letting him go over the edge, until Bodie was sure he was going to start screaming.
A finger gently traced across Bodie's taut, aching balls, and he knew he wasn't going to be able to last any longer. The only warning he could manage was to place shaking fingers against Ray's cheek, which promptly hollowed as Ray sucked harder. Knowing fingers curved around the base of his cock again and Ray started milking him in earnest. His whole existence narrowing down to one point, Bodie tensed, then arched up further into Ray's mouth and exploded into orgasm, a cry ripping free to echo against the bedroom walls as he poured down Ray's throat.
Spent, Bodie collapsed back into the bed, vaguely aware of Ray staying with him, still gently mouthing his sensitised cock as it softened. After a few final soft kisses on the crown, Ray lifted his head, licking his lips contentedly as he gazed up at Bodie.
"C'mere," Bodie managed, reaching one clumsy arm to bring Ray up closer. Ray wriggled up, eyes glowing, and Bodie pulled his head down for a kiss, searching out the taste of himself in the swollen mouth.
Ray broke the kiss, leaning back to look at Bodie. "Was that okay, then?" he asked politely, lips quivering with suppressed mirth.
"Adequate, I suppose," Bodie judged after a moment's thought. His hands, finally back under his control, were roaming ceaselessly over Ray's skin, and he could feel the hard jut of the other man's erection pressing against his thigh.
"Adequate! You bastard," Ray said, laughing.
Bodie grinned and hugged him tight. "It was fucking incredible, and you know it," he said. "Never felt anything like that in my life before. But what about you, eh?" he asked, one hand reaching down between them to stroke Ray's cock. "Tell me what you want. You want my mouth?"
Ray's head went back at the touch, breath hissing out of him. "Next time," he gasped. "Can't wait, too close. Bodie...."
Bodie hastily shifted them, putting Ray on his back so that he could get a good grip, and started stroking in earnest, a happy little voice somewhere way down inside repeating next time like a mantra.
Ray was even closer than he'd thought, bucking up urgently into Bodie's hand. Bodie reached his other hand down to cradle the taut balls, feeling them draw up further. He shortened his strokes, made them fast and hard, watching Ray's face as the other man began to lose himself.
"C'mon Ray," Bodie urged. "Wanna see you come for me."
Ray gasped, clamped his fingers onto Bodie's shoulders, and went rigid, spurting out over Bodie's hand and onto his own chest and belly. Bodie slowed his stroke, milking steadily, pulling every last drop from him, eyes flicking between the cock in his hand and the hazed eyes staring blindly at him.
The tense body relaxed under him, eyes drifting shut, while Bodie gentled Ray's cock. He smiled down at his oblivious mate, then, after one final soft pat on Ray's genitals, lifted his hand to lick himself clean. He considered the taste for a minute, then decided he'd been right-Ray was definitely addictive. He sucked the last drop off a finger, surveying the shagged-out form in front of him, and grinned. Get it while it's still warm, he thought cheerfully, and leant over to start licking Ray clean as well.
Trembling fingers wrapped gently around his skull before he finished, and he looked up to find Ray smiling sweetly at him. He smiled back. "Back among the living, are you?" he asked.
"Far as I can tell," Ray agreed. "You gonna c'mere and give us a kiss, or what?"
"In a minute," Bodie promised, and bent back to his late-afternoon snack. As soon as he was sure he'd got it all, he pulled Ray into his arms and into a deep kiss, sharing the taste.
They settled into a comfortable cuddle, exchanging lazy kisses until they drifted off into a light doze in each other's arms.
Waking to find Ray half-draped over him, head resting comfortably on Bodie's shoulder, Bodie could feel soul-deep contentment filling him. He smiled, stroking one thin flank possessively.
"'S nice, this, innit," Ray said softly into his ear.
"Yeah," Bodie agreed, smile widening. Peaceful silence descended again, neither needing any words to enjoy the closeness.
"So what made you decide to risk it?" Bodie asked idly a long time later, privately thanking every god he could think of that Ray had decided to risk it, knowing that he would never have dared.
"Hmm? Risk what?"
Doyle smiled, snuggling a bit closer. "Other than the fact that you were standing there with your hand on me arse like you were going to stay there till Judgement Day, and looking at me with what I hoped was your heart in your eyes?"
"Other than that, yeah," Bodie said, grinning. "And it was, you know. My heart in my eyes."
"I know," Doyle said softly, stealing another kiss.
This still too new to take for granted, they both devoted their whole attention to it for a few minutes, gentle and sweet and full of silent promises. Bodie smiled happily at the ceiling as Doyle's head settled back onto his shoulder, then remembered his question. "So what else made you decide to kiss me?"
He could feel the smile against his skin, feel the burn as beginning stubble rasped against him as Ray rubbed his cheek comfortingly against him. "Nothing, really," came the amused reply. "That pretty much clinched it for me. Decided it was now or never. Well--"
"That, and you looking so unhappy when you thought I was going to hit you or something. Couldn't stand that," Ray said seriously, lifting his head to meet Bodie's eyes. "Knew-well, hoped, anyway--that if you were having me on you'd be laughing underneath it all, and I could tell you weren't laughing."
"No," Bodie agreed huskily, trailing one finger along Ray's jaw. "I wasn't laughing."
"An' then when you started in on being an elf!" Ray started laughing softly. "If you were willing to go that far to make up for teasing me this morning--well, hell, knew everything was going to be all right, didn't I?" he asked easily, looking into Bodie's eyes, obviously waiting to see the answering laughter.
Bodie smiled wistfully. "Yeah," he agreed easily. "Everything's going to be great." He slid his hand into Ray's curls, pulling him down for a hungry kiss, murmuring in protest when Doyle pulled away and sat up next to him.
"Bodie?" Doyle was frowning faintly, puzzled.
"Whassamatter?" Bodie asked, a bit puzzled himself.
Doyle bit his lip, then blurted out, "Were you really serious, then? You really think you're an elf?"
"Told you, mate--don't think it, know it. I am an elf. Not that different to you, honest I'm not. 'M still me, aren't I?"
"Tall, dark, and beautiful," Doyle agreed automatically, but he still looked troubled, and he was worrying at his lower lip again.
Bodie ran his hands running soothingly up and down Ray's arms for a few minutes, letting him think it over. "I'm not insane," he eventually offered, voice calm.
"No, I know you're not," Doyle said, eyes wide and serious. "That's part of the problem. Somehow I find myself believing you."
Bodie's heart leapt, and his hands stilled for a moment before deliberately resuming their motion. "Yeah?" He couldn't quite help the smile that started up.
"Yeah. And I don't understand this at all. You--I mean, you don't--what--" Doyle trailed off, one hand gesturing helplessly. "I've known you for years. I've just got to know you very intimately. How can you not be human??"
"Like I said, I'm not that different to you."
"But the stories...."
"C'mon, Ray," Bodie said with a grin, "thought we'd gone through that this morning! I'm a real elf, not a fairy-tale elf."
Doyle's eyes suddenly went huge, and Bodie bit back a groan and waited for the inevitable. "Yeah, but you are a fairy elf, aren't you!" Ray said in glee, and fell over cackling.
Heaving a long-suffering sigh, Bodie pulled his still-chortling mate up into his arms, settling him comfortably next to him. He could get used to having someone snorting and giggling into his armpit.
"Got it all out of your system, then?" he inquired politely a few minutes later when the worst of the storm seemed to have passed.
"I think so, yeah," Doyle said reflectively, wriggling to put his head back on Bodie's shoulder, which he had apparently decided to take permanent possession of.
Christ, you've got it bad, old son, Bodie said ruefully to himself as he realised he'd welcomed the further abrasion of Ray's whiskers on the skin he could feel getting redder by the second. Knowing the glow would dim eventually to a more manageable level, he made a mental note to put an electric shaver in the bedroom for emergencies.
"So you're an elf," Ray said casually a minute or two later.
"That mean that forty years from now I'm gonna go grey-haired and wrinkled and be using a walker and you're gonna look just the same?"
Bodie couldn't help it, he burst out laughing.
"Don't see what's so funny," Ray said, offended. "Be the envy of everyone, I will, with a boy-toy like you on my arm."
Bodie heard the nervousness under the pique, and tightened the arm around Ray's back. "Be the envy of 'em anyway," he assured him, "I'll be beautiful at any age--but that's just natural superiority, nothing to do with being an elf. And I'll probably be stealing your walker to use it myself," he added ruefully.
"Thought elves lived forever?"
"Fairy tales, Ray, fairy tales. My lifespan's probably about the same as yours, maybe a little bit longer--assuming we don't buy it on the job, that is."
"Dunno. Hundred years or so, I reckon. And we do tend to age a bit more gracefully than humans."
"So where did the legend come from, then? About elves being immortal, I mean."
"How should I know? I haven't exactly made a study of this, you know. I always reckoned it was because we were always a bit healthier. I mean, way back when, most people were lucky to live to thirty-five or forty, right? People died off young from malnutrition, or disease, or war. Elves have always eaten well, got lots of protein and vitamins, and we're really resistant to germs, so we lived longer."
Doyle frowned. "How resistant to germs?"
"When was the last time you knew me to catch a cold, or the flu?" Bodie asked. "Or get a bad infection from a wound or from surgery?"
Doyle nodded, eyes thoughtful as he propped his chin on Bodie's chest. "So what else?"
Bodie sighed and made himself a bit more comfortable. Doyle was going to worry at this until he had the full picture, obviously. "Dunno, really. Just being that bit healthier probably started up a lot of the legends--I mean, we were cleaner than most humans, to begin with--"
"Oi!" Doyle thumped him indignantly.
"Not now, you pillock," Bodie said, "then! Back when humans bathed maybe twice a year, and did it fast 'cause they thought it was a sin."
"Oh, well, that's all right then," Ray said peaceably, and started stroking the bit he'd hit in silent apology.
"Don't suppose you could move that hand a bit to the left," Bodie said hopefully, then pouted at the stern look bent on him.
"Details," Ray commanded--but he gave in and moved his hand to rub lightly over Bodie's nipple.
"Oh, that's nice," Bodie sighed happily.
"C'mon, mate, keep talking. What else?"
"All right, all right. So we bathed more--means we probably looked better, smelled better. Skin probably didn't get as wrinkled, either, 'cause we ate better, and we wouldn't have been all pockmarked like lots of humans were. I reckon we probably kept more of our own teeth, and didn't lose limbs or fingers to gangrene--"
"Ugh! Nasty, that," Ray observed.
"--and the women weren't having babies every year from the time they hit puberty, so they tended to last longer just because of that."
"And you reckon that's why folk thought your lot lived forever?" Ray sounded a bit sceptical.
"Think about it. All it would take would be a few run-ins with just the right timing for a legend like that to get started--you know, maybe a son seeing the same elf that his dad had seen, and the elf looking almost the same twenty years later. Legend starts out that elves live twice as long as humans, and then that gets turned into three times as long, and then before you know it, people are saying elves never die."
Doyle's hand stilled on Bodie's chest while he gazed off into the distance, thinking. A minute later he came back to himself, tweaking the nipple playfully before saying, "In a weird way, that all actually makes sense."
"Hmm. So, is there anything else?"
"Don't want to space this conversation out at all?" Bodie asked solicitously.
Doyle grinned and shook his head. "Spill it," he said cheerfully. "What have you lot got these days that us poor humans don't?"
"Not much," Bodie admitted, trailing one hand up his mate's spine. Doyle arched under the touch, making a low sound of pure pleasure.
"C'mon, mate, there has to be something to set you apart, else you wouldn't even know what you were," he urged, refusing to be distracted entirely.
Bodie sighed. "Yeah, there are one or two things," he said.
"One of 'em's a survival mechanism. Helped more in the past than it does now, I reckon, though. Can move things without touching them."
"Move things. Not much, just enough."
"Enough for what?"
"So that if an arrow or a stone or something is coming at you, you can sort of deflect it away. Does sweet fuck all for bullets, though," Bodie added, disgruntled. "They move too fast--can't see it coming, can't shove it aside. Oh, and we can move small amounts of water, too."
Doyle digested all of this for a few minutes; Bodie kept rubbing his back, perfectly willing to lie here for as long as it took, just holding this man close.
"You said 'one of 'em'," Ray said eventually. "What's the other one, then?"
"Most of the real psychics out there are elves--some are human, but most are elves," Bodie replied.
"You can read minds?!?" Ray's head snapped up, wide eyes staring uncertainly at Bodie.
"No, not really--'m not very good at it," Bodie admitted. "I can sorta tell what people close to me are feeling, but that's about it. Well, not really what they're feeling, either--I can just read them easier. Can do it best with you.... Works both ways, you know," he added, feeling the tense muscles relax again under his hands.
"What d'you mean?"
"Think about it--people say we're telepathic with each other, right?"
"So they don't just think I can read your mind, they think you can read mine, too." Bodie waited, patient, for Doyle to get it.
Slowly, it dawned on the other man. "So the way we just sorta know where the other one is, what the other one's going to do...."
"Is because I can feel you, and since we're close, you can feel me, too," Bodie agreed.
"Feel nice, you do," Doyle said contentedly, hooking his leg over Bodie's and pressing close. One hand started tracing idle patterns on Bodie's chest again, teasing his nipples, trailing down to his belly, tickling the skin over his ribs. "So how come you're not as good at it as those others, then?" He raised curious eyes to study Bodie's face.
"Left school when I was fourteen, didn't I?" Bodie said, a bit shamefaced. "Figured I knew everything I was supposed to know."
Doyle's jaw dropped as he stared in pure disbelief, then snapped shut in a vain attempt to stop the sniggers that started pouring out of him. "'s what you get for being such an arrogant bastard," he said decisively as soon as he got them under control, nipping at the nearest piece of bare flesh to punctuate the statement.
"Ow! I don't mind, anyway--never figured I'd be able to do much more than I'd been taught; no one in my family was ever all that powerful. We were always better at blending in. Besides, leaving home when I did led me here, didn't it?"
Ray hugged him tight for a minute, and Bodie revelled in it, still lost in wonder that this had finally happened.
"So you can sort of sense me--and the Cow, I reckon?" Ray added as the thought occurred to him. Bodie just nodded. "Right. You can sense me 'n' the Cow, and you can teleport bits of water and fend off arrows." Ray cocked his head thoughtfully to stare at him, then smiled. "I guess it'll do."
"Thanks," Bodie said wryly, smiling as Ray tucked himself down more comfortably against him, whiskers landing right back on that same spot. "But that water trick is nothing to sneeze at--sometimes being able to get a few drops of water into your mouth is all that stands between you and death. Besides--" he looked down at the curly head, and burned all his bridges without a second thought "--it works for more than just water, you know. I can do it with any liquid, as long as it's only a bit at a time. Sometimes I can do it with small solids, but that's a lot harder."
"Any liquid, huh?" Ray asked lazily. "That's nice. C'n get a cuppa any time you want without moving, then, eh?"
"Mmm." Bodie waited. A moment later, the body in his arms went rigid, then burst upward as Ray levered himself up to balance on his hands over him, staring downward suspiciously.
"Or beer, I suppose?" Ray inquired, narrow-eyed.
Bodie beamed up at him hopefully, projecting an air of 'I'm too cute to kill' for all he was worth.
"Christ. An' all these years I thought I was just drinking faster than I thought! What else of mine have you been snitching, then?"
Beaming seemed to have worked before, so Bodie tried it again.
"Christ," Ray said again, resignedly, and flopped back down.
"Oof! Do you mind, that's my stomach you just landed on!" Bodie said indignantly when he'd got his wind back.
"Don't mind at all, thanks, it's a very nice stomach. Shall enjoy landing on it more in future," Ray said easily.
Bodie blinked, and decided that having Ray Doyle landing on top of him on a regular basis was worth being winded for. He wrapped his arms around his partner and hugged him again, and they cuddled happily for a few minutes.
Eventually, though, Ray lifted his head to ask, "So how do you do it, then? Nick stuff, I mean."
If they were going to keep talking, Bodie wanted his lungs back in proper working order; he rolled them over onto their sides, and propped himself up on one elbow while the other hand kept roaming across warm flesh. "Dunno, I just do it. Have to concentrate, though, so I can't just think 'wish I had a beer' or something. 'S tough to do with other people around--and there's not much point to doing it otherwise!" he added with a grin. "So I don't really do it much." He decided this wouldn't be a good time to add that over the years he'd got so accustomed to snitching Ray's drinks that he could do it and carry on a conversation at the same time. Didn't work that easily around anyone else, but somehow he didn't think Ray would appreciate the honour.
"Concentrate, hmm?" Ray asked.
"Like this morning, in Cowley's office?"
Bodie's jaw dropped--he'd completely forgotten. "Exactly like that," he said, abashed. "Hang about...." He rolled off the bed and padded toward the lounge, aware of the intent gaze fixed on him as he left. Casting about, he spotted his jacket slung over the chair. He went over and reached into the inside pocket, pulling out the hip flask he always kept there, shaking it lightly. Not much, but enough, he decided.
He carried it into the bedroom, grinning triumphantly at Ray as he held it up. "There's not much here, but there's enough to drink a toast, eh?"
"Bodie! You never actually snitched Cowley's scotch!" Ray looked torn between admiration, amusement, and shocked disbelief.
Bodie grinned wider. "Yep! Well, you never know when you're going to have something to celebrate, do you?" he asked innocently.
Amusement won out, and Ray chuckled. "No, you don't," he agreed. "And I'd say we definitely have something to celebrate." He reached out to tug Bodie back into the bed and they settled themselves comfortably against the headboard.
Bodie uncapped the flask and handed it to Ray. Ray looked at it thoughtfully for a second, then smiled at Bodie. "To new beginnings?" he asked softly.
Bodie swallowed. "New beginnings," he agreed.
Ray tipped up the flask for a long swallow, handing it back to Bodie who mirrored the movement. They smiled at each other again, almost shy, until Ray suddenly cocked his head to one side.
"Hang about," he said, "Why didn't Cowley notice that you took it? There's enough there that he should've been shouting HQ down wanting to know who'd been into his pure malt!"
Bodie grinned smugly. "Nah. Don't take that much all at once, do I! I just take a little bit, when I can--less than a swallow, really. Save it up for special occasions. Cowley never notices. Been doing it for years."
Ray gaped. "Cheeky devil! And you never told me!" he added, outraged.
"Well, I couldn't, could I?" Bodie asked reasonably. "You'd want to know how I got it."
Ray had to concede that. "But from here on out, I get half," he said firmly, taking the flask back for another sip.
Bodie watched, the warm glow in his middle having nothing to do with the scotch he'd just drunk. "Absolutely, mate," he agreed. "From here on out, you get half of everything."
Ray looked up, startled, a brilliant smile spreading across his face. "New beginnings," he repeated softly, then put the flask aside and reached for Bodie once more.
He travels far from other skies-
His mantle glitters on the rocks-
A fairy Prince, with joyful eyes,
And lighter-footed than the fox.
-Tennyson, "The Day Dream"
-- THE END --
Originally published in the zine Living Pros, Bovinity Press, May 1999.