You Needed Me
I love you, Ray.
I wanted to say that straight away 'cus if you're reading this then things probably aren't looking too good for me right now.
I know we all have to "take care of our affairs" and write our letters for when we pop off but you know me - always have to be different. So I've asked George to give you this if I get myself into something and it looks like I'm not going to pull through. I don't know if it'll help, sweetheart, but I wanted you to be able to read this while I'm still there with you. Daft, I suppose but then that's me all over, eh?
So as I'm writing this I can imagine that you might be reading it sitting beside me in some god awful hospital room. Don't fret, love - have a cup of tea and don't make the nurses' lives hell, okay? Remember to take care of yourself too or you'll have me to answer to, my lad!
What to say? Oh Ray, there's so much. You know I'm not good with words when we're face to face and I can never seem to tell you exactly how much you mean to me. The thing is that you simply mean everything and that encompasses so much that I end up all tongue-tied. Yeah, bet you're smiling at that - Mr Suave and Sophisticated himself stuck for something to say!
But you do mean everything to me, love - it seems that my life only really started the day I met you.
Okay - before you get on your high horse with me - I know I was a pain to begin with. Fresh from the SAS and thinking I was god's gift to everyone and everything! But you soon had my measure, didn't you, angelfish? You knew just how to put me in my place! Funny how it turned out that my place was right next to you. I don't think I've ever actually thanked Cowley for teaming us together. I'll do that soon - the old bastard ended up changing my life by giving me you!
Who'd have thought that an aggravating little sod of an ex-copper would turn out to be the love of my life, eh? Like I always say, mate, expect the unexpected!
Do you know what has always amazed me the most about you, Ray? The fact that you needed me. That someone as wonderful as you could actually need an emotional cripple like me, well somehow that gave me strength. Right from the word go I slowly started to see myself the way that you see me - not as the ex-merc who didn't give a toss for anyone but as a man that Ray Doyle would make his friend. You'll never know how important your friendship has been to me, mate. Then when we finally realised that what was between us was more than friendship...that it was love...well that was it, sweetheart...my life was complete in a way that I'd never even dared dream about before. You're one in a million, love and I still can't believe my luck.
I don't know if I'm explaining this all that well - can you see that you made me take stock and realise that I was worth something? That finally I had a place in the world and I could believe that what I did actually made a difference? You gave me back my faith in myself, Ray. Or maybe you gave me something that I never really had at all...and I can never thank you enough for that.
Being with you and seeing the world - and myself - through your eyes has made everything seem cleaner and fresher somehow. Yeah, I know we have some shit to deal with in our job and we don't look at it all wearing rose-coloured specs but you give me hope that things can get better...that I can be a better person.
Christ! This is starting to sound like a right bloody hearts and flowers show! Seems like now I'm talking I can't stop. I don't even know if I'm making much sense but I want to try - to make you realise that you're the centre of my world, Ray. It all begins and ends with you, love.
S'funny - while I'm sitting here writing this I can see you outside working on your bike. I'll make you a cup of tea in a minute love and bring it out. Then you'll show me what you've done and I'll ruffle your hair and you'll give me that look. The one that I love - it's like you're saying "Oh you're a berk, Bodie but I love you anyway". I glow inside every time you do that, I wonder if you know?
Have I mentioned how happy I am that we bought this place? I mean CI5 flats are okay but they don't have a lot of soul; always seem to be temporary somehow. But this is a home, our home...with warmth and love in it...well, it has you in it of course and that's all that matters to me. I've never had a proper home before - that's something else that you've given me, sweetheart. Thank you.
Thinking about the bike - do you remember last month when we had that unexpected day off right in the middle of the week? Like a couple of kids weren't we, not knowing what to do first? You wanted to work on your bike and I wanted to work on you! We compromised of course...you tinkered with the bike for an hour and then came in and tinkered with me! Oh but that engine oil got everywhere and we ended up sharing the shower so that we didn't get the sheets filthy. Mind you, by the time we did finish in bed I seem to remember that the sheets needed changing anyway. Oh god you were good that afternoon, lover. You had me spread on that bed doing everything to me and I swear that I didn't know which way was up in the finish 'cus you'd got me so wild. And then finally when you took me...christ Ray but I can't ever remember you being so hot and so hard and so big before. You didn't half give it to me, Sunshine and I loved every bloody minute before you start worrying! In fact I think I ended up passing out when I finally came!
You're a sexy, little bugger Ray Doyle and I love you.
That's the point of this whole letter really - I want you to know how much I love you, sweetheart. You are my life and soul. You've made me breathe again, live again...and you've given me more love than I ever knew existed...or ever thought I deserved. My whole world is right somehow - because you care. You care about me and what happens to me - you've made me see that I'm worth something, Ray. You've needed me...I don't think I can ever explain how very much that means.
So don't cry, sweetheart. You know that if I could stay with you I would - that's my place in the world, remember? But if I can't then don't worry. Remember how I've always said that I only believe in me? Well I've changed my mind, love. I believe in you and me and a whole bloody big afterlife where we're goin' to be together forever. So no tears - my place is right by your side in this life or the next.
I'm goin' to make that cup of tea now, love.
See you soon.
The letter fell from Doyle's nerveless fingers and floated down to land on the starched, white cover of the bed. His eyes were streaming with tears and his vision so cloudy that he could hardly see the silent figure lying motionless beneath crisp, hospital sheets. The shallow breaths, barely observable to the naked eye, were the only sign that Bodie was alive.
Virtually no hope of recovery they'd said...the doctors speaking to him so calmly and with an air of professional detachment. It was up to the patient now - all down to how much will he had to survive - they were sorry but medical science had done all it could.
The nurses were kind, smiling encouragingly and always making sure that he had something to drink as he sat by his lover's bed, hour after hour. They knew about them; that they were together and as good as married. He hadn't been able to hold it back; his actions speaking more loudly than any words ever could. How could he try to hide it? This was his life lying here; the other half of him...the reason that he had to carry on. Oh yes, the nurses had seen it in his eyes and they had understood and treated him with care.
'Don't worry, Bodie-love. I haven't shouted at them.'
Cowley had been understanding - granting him indefinite leave - knowing that he was no good anywhere but right here. It was the only place he could be.
'Your place is right beside me, love? Then where's mine but right beside you, eh?'
The old man had been kind though; dropping by most days to visit and ringing each morning to find out if there had been any improvement. Maybe he did have a soft spot for Bodie after all. Not surprising really, those blue eyes and not-quite-angelic smile could charm the devil himself.
'Well you've always had me wrapped round your little finger, haven't you love?'
Ray scrubbed at the moisture on his cheeks and squeezed the lax hand held tightly in his own.
"It's all right, love. Everything's goin' to be okay." His words were mere whispers breaking the artificial sterility of the small, private room.
Leaning across from his chair that was pushed close to the side of the bed, he smoothed a strand of soft, dark hair back from his lover's brow. Bodie's normally pale skin had taken on an almost translucent quality in the weeks since the accident and was waxy to the touch.
Asleep they said...it was just as if he was asleep. His initial physical wounds had healed but now his body was in limbo; slowly deteriorating. Day by day muscles atrophied and joints became immobile while his injured brain simply refused to wake up.
Only a chance in a hundred, thousand that he might make it now, they said.
'Come on love - we've beaten tougher odds than this before.'
Cowley mustn't think so though. That's why he'd followed Bodie's wishes and given him the letter.
Reaching forward Ray looked at the single sheet of paper again; one finger slowly tracing the neat handwriting that he would've recognised anywhere. It had only been written a couple of months ago. Not that Bodie'd had a premonition or anything - it was just standard CI5 procedure to keep their affairs up to date and in order. He tried to remember the day that Bodie must have written it but it could have been one of many. Bodie often sat at the big, mahogany desk in the study window writing poetry or just reading. He always said that he liked it there because he could keep an eye on Doyle as he was puttering around in the garden or messing with his bike. The day wouldn't have seemed any different from a hundred others filled with similar, happy memories.
But it had been different because Bodie hadn't been writing poetry that day - he'd been writing this. Glancing once more at the water and salt stained parchment, one sentence seemed to stand out clearly through the blur of his returning tears.
...you needed me...
Doyle let himself fall forward with a moan, his head pillowed on Bodie's broad chest and his hands grabbing at once powerful shoulders.
"Oh Bodie!" His voice cracked and came out in harsh, broken sobs. "Don't you see that I still need you, sweetheart? I'll always need you 'cus I love you. Don't leave me, Bodie, please. Your place is right here with me, Sunshine. Remember?" Lifting his head to look at the blank countenance, he shook the shoulders held in his unsteady grasp and shouted in a voice hoarse with pain.
"Damn it, Bodie. I'm not bloody letting you go!"
Burying his face once more in the fabric that smelled faintly of his lover, Ray continued to cry in huge racking jolts that shook his thin frame with their intensity.
He had no idea how long he huddled against the familiar warmth, all the while murmuring words of love and desperate entreaty. Time seemed to be of no importance now - the world had narrowed down to this room and this bed...and the man that he loved so desperately.
Suddenly a small movement caught his eye and raising his head cautiously Ray looked up in wonder into the confused but smiling face of his beloved.
"Don't cry, love," Bodie whispered in a voice rough from lack of use. "I'm right here."
-- THE END --
Originally published in No Holds Barred 20, Kathleen Resch, 2000