Comfort and Joy

Part Two: Joy


Alan Cade yawned and picked up his cold tea, took a sip and hoped the sugar would give him a kick. Bloody hell, why was he here on New Year's Eve, working, instead of out and about? He had at least a half-dozen invitations to parties and gatherings tonight, but had turned each one down. The thought of being with people did not appeal, even friends of long standing.

He pulled off his glasses and rubbed his tired eyes, trying not to think about the friend of the longest standing whom his heart yearned to see. No matter how he tried to convince himself otherwise, the papers he was trying to read did not require his immediate attention, and he could not concentrate on them.

He pushed the documents into a pile and sighed. Fine. Perhaps he should just go home. Home to that big cream-coloured house where his footsteps echoed on the wooden floors so loudly the aloneness reverberated thought his heart and mind.

But he'd chosen this life, chosen to walk away from everything else that mattered when he walked away from the violence of CI5. He just hadn't known that he'd be walking away from half of himself as well.

At first, he'd been too proud to admit what he'd done, and then, he could do nothing to change the course of his life. He was somewhere else, being someone else. The lack of violence had been so welcome he'd tried to convince himself that he could live without the rest. Now, he knew better.

Eight years had passed, and he'd never got beyond the loss of his best friend. They hadn't even been lovers, but he could admit to himself, when no one was around, that maybe they should have been.

Damn, Bodie. How could he have been so stupid to let Bodie walk away? But -- Bodie hadn't walked away. He had, walked right out of CI5 into another life that he'd hoped would fit him better. If he could do it again....

Shaking his head, Alan could not believe he was bemoaning his fate again. What was it about this time of year that made him so maudlin? It wasn't as if he didn't have people to see, or places to go. But nothing interested him. He'd rather be in his office working than out somewhere pretending to have a good time.

Pushing himself out of his chair, he moved to stand behind his desk and gazed out the window at the dark night. Perhaps if he wished hard enough he could weave a fantasy of Bodie. What would he say after so long? Sighing, he knew there wasn't anything left to say. He shook off the image, and turned around at the sound of the door opening.

Like a knight out of a fairy tale, his fondest wish came in with a smile on his face. Alan's stomach plunged into his shoes, his heart beat painfully hard, and sweat broke out all over his body. It was unreal, and for a second he thought he'd finally gone completely mad and had made it up.

Bodie moved forward, holding out his hand in greeting. This was no illusion. How and why Bodie came to be here didn't even matter, all Alan cared about was that he was here.

The touch of Bodie's hand nearly destroyed Alan. Biting back a gasp, he let his fingers linger in the handclasp a little too long.

Damn, Bodie looked good. No man should look that good, especially not to him. The beauty of the other man's appearance was unmistakable, and undeniable. Still straight and tall, Bodie looked unravaged by time. His hair was still dark, grey just kissing the sideburns, which, thankfully, were not nearly as long as they had once been.

Surprisingly line-free, the blue eyes twinkled invitingly, making promises Alan was afraid the other man might be able to keep. Bodie smiled sweetly, and Alan was hard-pressed not let the tears in his eyes fall. Bloody hell, he'd missed Bodie so very much.

"Bodie?" He couldn't believe how breathless his voice sounded, like he'd been running for miles. "What are you doing here?"

"Badged my way in." Bodie face held a sheepish look that said he wasn't sure of his welcome. "Wanted to surprise you."

Trying for a regular tone, Alan spoke firmly, straightening his spine as he did so. It took all the effort he could muster not to throw his arms around Bodie and hold him tight. But he kept his distance. "I'm surprised. Actually, shocked would be more like it."

Bodie shrugged his shoulders and dropped his eyes. "I wasn't sure you'd see me, so I just came in. Your secretary's not out there."

Alan slid his hands into his pockets. He didn't want to reach out, not now, not without knowing why Bodie was here. "I know. It's New Year's Eve. Most of the HQ office staff are gone."

"Why are you still here? Surely you have somewhere better to be."

He gripped the change in his trousers pockets to keep his hands from moving. "Perhaps. I have some reports that can't wait."

Bodie shook his head knowingly. "Reports can always wait."

"Maybe yours can, but mine can't." He tried for righteous indignation and never quite made it. His heart just wasn't in his words because he knew he was lying.


Shaking his head, he couldn't look at Bodie. The blue gaze was too intense to view. "You can't call me that. Not any more."

"I'm sorry, Alan. But you'll always be Ray Doyle in my heart." The heartfelt words were whispered so softly that he had to strain to hear them.

Alan sighed. He'd always be Ray Doyle to himself as well. But he'd given up the right to that name and that person when he'd left CI5. "Me, too." He hadn't meant to admit that, but the look in Bodie's eyes didn't let him lie. "Why are you here? Aside from surprising me, I mean."

"Have a drink with me and I'll tell you."

It would be easy to give into the ploy, especially since he wanted to so badly. He shook his head. "Just like that?"

"Why not?"

Why not indeed? Well, he could think of dozens of reasons, but none came to his lips. "No reason that I can think of, except of course that we haven't even spoken in five years."

"Then it's high time, I think."

Bodie had always had far too easy a time charming him into things. "I expect you're right. Let me turn off the computer and get my coat."

Bodie could not believe it had been so simple. He'd just shown up and Ray.... Alan had agreed to have a drink with him. Of course, it would not be easy. What did he want to say? What should he say? Mentally shrugging, he admitted to himself that he had no idea. All he knew was that it was more than time to resolve the issues between them. He had to have some closure, one way or another. Even if he didn't get what he wanted, he would go on from here.

When he'd left Baltimore, he'd been so sure he'd just march over to Eastland and tell Alan/Ray how much he'd always loved him, but the closer he got to England, the less it seemed like a good idea.

Now that he was sitting in a local with Alan, he found that his tongue was tied into knots; no words seemed to want to emerge from his mouth. His brain turned over and over, not finding anything of importance to say.

"Was it just nostalgia, or did you have a reason to come to see me?" Alan asked after they had drunk half of their lager and the silence had stretched thin.

"Bit of both. I was in the States recently, in Baltimore, Maryland, and I met someone who made me think of you."

"Really? What were you doing in the States?"

"I'm still with CI5."

"Of course." Alan waited a moment for him to continue and then prompted. "And?"

"And I felt... thought...." Bloody hell, he couldn't get any of the words he wanted out of his mouth. What was wrong with him?

"You thought what?"

"That you might miss me and want to see me as badly as I wanted to see you."

Alan's head snapped up, his still green eyes flashing with some emotion Bodie could not even begin to fathom. Shaking his head sadly, Alan sighed and dropped eye contact. "I'm sorry."

Disappointment washed over Bodie; the world started to crack around him and he knew he'd better get out now before he humiliated himself. Standing quickly, he pulled out his wallet and threw some bills on the table. "I've made a mistake."

Moving as quickly as he could, and with his training that was fast, he got out of the pub and onto the street in record time. He tried to calm the abject misery in his heart by taking a deep breath, hoping the sounds of his pain would not escape before he could find shelter.

No. He took another breath. There was no way he'd give into the emotions. It wasn't as if he'd really expected anything different. Whatever vague hope had been in his heart, he'd known it was false. Alan was straight, and while he might have missed his mate, he didn't feel the same way Bodie did. God, why had he even tried? It had been too long; there was too much between them.

As he stood on the pavement, Alan caught up with him, grabbing his arm and pulling him around to face him. "Why did you walk out on me?"

A scene was the last thing Bodie wanted. Why the hell did Alan have to still be so contrary? "You didn't want me there."

"If I hadn't wanted to see you, I would have said so in the first place. Bloody Hell. What is wrong with you?" Putting a hand on Bodie's arm, Alan held fast.

"You said you were sorry when I said I'd missed you."

Shaking his head with a half-amused smile, Alan loosened his grip a bit. "And you assumed I meant that I didn't miss you. Christ, you always were a dumb crud."

Bodie couldn't help smiling, that was pure Ray Doyle talking. And damn, he'd missed him. "What did you mean?"

"That I was sorry for everything. For leaving you when I left CI5, for trying to find solace in Marie-Pierre's arms when I should have been in yours."

The words caught him by surprise, stealing his breath and making him dizzy. He'd never expected to hear anything like that from Alan. "What? What did you say?"

Alan looked around pointedly, and Bodie realised that while it might be early evening on New Year's Eve, and the sidewalks might be less than crowded, Alan was Chief Constable in this city and had to be discreet. "What I said, I'll say again, but not here."

Bodie nodded. "Let's get out of here."

Alan unlocked the door to his house, holding it open so that Bodie could precede him. "The lounge is straight down the hall. Are you hungry?"

Bodie looked back at him and shook his head. "No."

As they moved into the room, Alan looked for something to do with his hands. "Do you want a drink?"

Bodie nodded. "Please."

"Still scotch straight up?"


After fixing the drinks, Alan handed one to Bodie and took a seat next to him on the couch. He was too close for comfort and was immediately sorry that he'd chosen to sit there. The heat of Bodie's big body seemed to radiate towards him, teasing him, making promises he knew neither of them could possibly keep.

Even if they did find a way to be together for a time, it would never work across the long haul of their lives. And Alan knew that he would not be able to survive another failed romance. He could live without it if he had to, but the pain of failure with Bodie would destroy him. And that was all he could see coming his way: failure.

Bodie cleared his throat. "You said something outside the pub?"

Alan couldn't get through this now, couldn't do this after all. He should have let Bodie go when he had the chance. His heart pounded painfully. What was he doing? Was he so lonely and miserable that he would become gay just to have some comfort?

But it was who the comfort would come from that made the whole thing, if not possible, than certainly plausible. This was Bodie. Bodie, whom he missed like an amputated limb. Bodie, whom he still thought of daily. Bodie, whom he still loved as one of his oldest and dearest friends despite the length of time since he'd last seen him. "I don't know if I can repeat it. I don't know anything any more." Alan put his face into his hands, hiding from a truth he did not want to know.

"Should I leave?"

No. That was not what he wanted. "I don't know, Bodie." Alan shook his head.

Blunt fingers touched his jaw, raising his head. It took every ounce of his willpower not to lean into the gentle hand. Fuck, it had been so long since anyone had touched him, and this particular touch cherished as it asked too much of him.

"I don't want to cause you pain," Bodie whispered softly, his fingers stroking softly along his cheek.

Alan eased away from the fingers, and Bodie's hand fell away. "I know. I was thinking about you when you came in."

Joy suffused the smile that lit Bodie's face, stunning Alan with its intensity and beauty. "What were you thinking?"

"That I missed you. And that I wished I'd not left you when I left CI5. Is it too late to try and be friends?"

The light went out of Bodie's smile as he shook his head. "It's not friends that I wanted then and it's not friends that I want now."

Alan had no idea what he wanted. "But we don't know each other any more."

"Shall I court you?"

Alan laughed. "That would be novel. But I'm hardly a simpering dbutante."

"Never thought you were. But I'm not here to just visit you." Bodie stood, putting his hands into his pockets and turned away. "There are things that I must say, things I should have said a long time ago."

Standing too, Alan put a hand on Bodie's arm, feeling the thick musculature through his jacket and shirt. "I know. I knew then and I couldn't deal with it."

The blue eyes widened, in surprise or acknowledgement Alan wasn't sure. "And now?"

"Now, I've had eight years to think about it."

A crooked eyebrow rose in question.

Alan shook his head, having no idea what to say. At forty, he hadn't been able to see himself loving a man in those terms. At forty-eight, he should be less likely to be inclined that way, but the truth was he'd been alone too long, remembered his and Bodie's partnership -- the closeness of their lives. And he had missed that every single second of the eight years, four months, two weeks and some-odd days since they had been partners. "I don't know."

"Neither do I." Bodie sighed loudly. Reaching out, Bodie put a hand on his shoulder, turning them both so that they faced each other.

Looking into the indigo eyes, Alan could see what was coming. His heart jumped in fear and excitement, starting to pound with gusto. The air in his lungs suddenly disappeared and he felt light-headed.

The hand on his shoulder moved up his neck, nudging him gently forward, giving him all the time in the world to say no or change his mind, but he could not find it in his heart to deny what he had secretly wanted for a very long time. Some part of his brain was screaming, "What the hell am I doing?" But most of him concentrated on the lips moving forward towards his.

Contact brought a myriad of swirling sensations; the room and his world tilted with the simple brush of lips on his. The gentleness surprised him. When he'd considered it, he'd always thought men would be passionately rough. But this tenderness moved him greatly, and he couldn't believe how wonderful it felt.

The kiss remained sweet, and a tongue tip traced his lips, begging entrance rather than storming his mouth. Because he could do nothing else, he opened his mouth and let Bodie in. Sighing deeply, he duelled with the tongue invading his mouth, sparks of excitement lighting into him. His hands slid up Bodie's back, enjoying the taut muscles even through the suit coat, and pulled the larger man closer.

Desire ripped through him like wildfire, bringing his cock up hard, bringing out sweat all over his body. In that second, he knew that he would deny Bodie nothing -- whatever the other man wanted, it was his for the asking. Shocked to his core by the surrender of his body, he pulled back, gasping for breath, not believing how out of control he'd become with just a kiss. Raising his eyes to Bodie's, he saw the barely banked passion and desire.

A gentle hand slid onto his cheek, not trying to move him back, just comforting him. This time, Alan did lean into the touch, closing his eyes and relishing Bodie's tenderness. He was helpless against this man, and the realisation of that chilled him.

He didn't know Bodie any more. Not that he expected his ex-partner to have changed all that much in the years they had been apart, but he just didn't know and if he didn't, how could he trust Bodie?

The arms holding him tightened, pulling him against the hard chest. He thought to fight the comfort of these arms for a moment, but he needed the warmth more than he needed his pride. Laying his head on the broad shoulder, he gave in, letting himself be held, absorbing the simple affection like a parched field in a sudden gentle rain, the water seeping into the dry cracks, giving life where there had been no hope of it before.

Bodie held the slender body against his, drinking in a woodsy scent mixed with Alan's own unique warm smell. The countless men he'd held before this moment drifted into nothingness as his fondest wish came true, he was finally holding Ray Doyle -- even if he was called Alan Cade now -- in his arms. As the once-curly head settled onto his shoulder, Bodie knew an instant of perfect peace. If he never got more than this, he would count himself lucky for the gift.

Alan pulled back a little, meeting his eyes, chagrin heavy in the green depths. "I don't know, Bodie. What now?"

A little cheek wouldn't be amiss here, Bodie decided as he painted on a smile. "I suppose ravishing you on the floor is out?"

At least Alan laughed at the joke. "For the moment. I'm still trying to assimilate the kiss."

"Should have done that years ago." Bodie wished fervently that he could go back in time and kiss Doyle eight years ago. It might have saved them years of pain.

Alan shrugged, his eyes dropping to the floor. "I might have clocked you one, if you had tried it on then."

As long as he didn't do it now. "And now?"

"Now? I don't know. I liked the kiss." The bowed head raised up enough for Bodie to see the chagrin in the green eyes.

"Did it turn you on?"

Nudging his hips forward a little, Alan was close enough for him to feel the press of the hard cock into his thigh. "Answer your question?"

"Oh, yeah." He started to tighten his arms again and was strong-armed.

Shaking his head, Alan still didn't step completely from the embrace. "No. I think we need to talk; snogging isn't going to get us anywhere."

Putting on his best pout, Bodie whined unhappily. "But it's so nice."

"It is. But I need to understand where we're going with this, and I do not mean upstairs."


"Later. Maybe. That's another problem, actually."

Bodie sighed. The ever-tempestuous Cade strikes again. "And you always did think too much."

Alan stepped out of his arms completely. "You just waltz in here and expect me to fall into your arms? After eight years? Even you aren't that stupid."

Hurt, Bodie bit back a retort, remembering only too well that when Ray had been scared he struck out, usually viciously. "What are you afraid of?"

The green eyes dropped, and a long sigh escaped the plush lips. "Is it possible that you still know me that well?"

Nodding, Bodie let a smile come to his mouth. "Of course it is. You couldn't have changed that much."

"Sure I could have, and so could you. Probably have." Alan still hadn't lifted his eyes to meet Bodie's.

"No. You and I were forged together by fire, we won't ever change that much."

"Perhaps not." There was defeat in the quietly spoken words.

Taking a step forward, Bodie slid two fingers under the downcast chin, raising the sad eyes to meet his. "What? What hasn't changed for you?"

"I have never moved beyond you. I've never managed to come close to what we had with anyone else."

He couldn't still the joy that started to rise into his heart at Alan's quiet confession. Hearing it raised his hopes, but there was more involved. "What happened to Marie-Pierre?"

Alan's wide shoulders came up in a shrug, chagrin easing into the green eyes. "She left me. Three years ago." The tone said he wasn't devastated by her leaving, actually it almost sounded like Alan didn't care.

"I'm sorry."

"Are you?"

Bodie shook his head. "No. She was not a pleasant woman." And he couldn't stand her, even beyond his jealousy, he'd always believed she was completely wrong for Alan. He'd never understood what Alan had seen in her.

Alan raised an eyebrow. "And you?"

"Nothing, no one." There was no time, no energy, and no interest. His life had been complicated enough without emotional attachments. Added to that, he'd never been able to get past losing his partner.

"Ever." Alan's tone said he couldn't believe that.

Bodie sighed, tracing the pattern in the sofa fabric with a blunt finger. "CI5 doesn't really allow time for it. I wonder sometimes if the job doesn't burn the ability to be happy out of you."

Alan looked up sharply, obviously not expecting him to have said that. "I didn't realise you had any doubts about what you were doing."

It wasn't that he had doubts, not about the job, he still believed what he was doing was right, moral. "I always thought that I was doing what needed to be done, what was right, but I never looked at the price."

"And now?"

"Now, since you left actually, I've started to tally up the cost, and it's damnably high." High enough for him to consider other options for the first time in his life. He fancied more of a life than the job let him have, especially now that there might be something between him and Alan.

Nodding in understanding, Alan reached out and took his hand. "I realised that. My fortieth birthday hit me hard. I looked around at my life and I had nothing to show for my years with CI5. I'd been there ten years and I knew I wasn't likely to live to see my pension. Nearly everything I had was owned by CI5, I had little in savings, and no life whatsoever outside of work."

Compelled to point out that there was one thing Alan hadn't mentioned, Bodie said, "You had me."

"I measured you with the same yardstick. You were part of work. Part of what was grinding me down."

Bodie knew all of this, he'd heard it all before, and he nodded. Maybe Doyle hadn't changed so much after all. "Has nothing changed, then?"

"No. I've changed. I realised I should have taken you with me when I left."

Bodie shook his head "I wasn't going to leave. At least not then."

"And now?"

It was time to admit he'd actually been thinking about leaving CI5, that the job had become untenable, and the most recent job had been the last straw. He'd wasted a month of his time and spent another Christmas in a foreign country. Not that it had been all that bad this year, but he'd spent too much time elsewhere. He wanted a life, wanted more from his relationships than just sex. "I don't know. CI5 does do so much good."


There was always a but, wasn't there? "I'm frustrated by the system, by the politics, by management. It's not like it was when Cowley ran the place." Bodie blew out a breath, telling the real reason. "And I'm tired of killing, even for a good reason. I am damned tired of it."

"I understand."

"I know you do. Maybe that's why I've been thinking of you so much lately."

"Maybe. But why have I been thinking of you?" A small smile touched the full lips, making Bodie crave kissing Alan again.

Shrugging off the impulse, Bodie knew they needed to talk. He didn't care why Alan had been thinking of him, all he cared about was that he had been. "Can I hope that you missed me?"

"I did. I do."

The liquid green eyes that met his showed the misery, and fear, and something else, something Bodie was afraid to hope might be true feeling. "I'm glad."

Bodie couldn't help it. He raised a hand to Alan's cheek, cupping the strong jaw and lifted his head. He had to have another taste, lowering his own mouth slowly... and Alan allowed it, returning the kiss with interest.

Holding the strong slender body in his arms thrilled him; he wanted nothing more in the world than to do it forever. Maybe if they just made love, everything would be as it was before. But even as he formed the thought, he knew it wasn't true. There was far too much water under their bridges for them to be able to just go back to where they had been eight years ago. Still, Bodie couldn't see where it would hurt -- they might not be able to go back, but they could go on. He wasn't leaving Eastland without Alan, not this time. He was beginning to understand just how much Alan did care about him.

"I won't let you leave this time," Bodie told him forcefully, meaning it with all of his heart.

"As it's my house. I doubt I shall be the one leaving."

"I'm keeping you." Damn, he hadn't meant to say it that way, but he made a commitment to see this through and he would.

"I'm not a pet." There was a note of annoyance in the cool voice.

Whoops. He really shouldn't have put it like that. Alan always did get bad-tempered when someone stepped on his toes. "Sorry, I didn't mean it like that. But it's been too long and I want you so badly. I think you want me too."

"I do. I've never even thought about a man the way I'm thinking about you."

Bodie smirked. "I'm flattered."

Cade stepped back, his arms crossing over his chest. The movement was not angry, but more defensive, protecting himself. "I don't know. I do know that the world is right when you're in my arms."

Touched, Bodie closed his eyes against the sting the simple words brought. He couldn't really believe that after all this time his feelings were returned. Meeting the green eyes, he could see that Cade understood too.

Stepping back, Cade held out his hand. "I don't want to talk after all."

Bodie nodded. He didn't either, and just took what was offered, grateful to have it.

Moonlight spilled across the wooden floors, giving Alan's bedroom a cool glow. The dim light would not be enough to really see by, and Alan switched on a reading lamp by the bed. Perfect. He turned towards Bodie, held open his arms, and tried hard not to think about what he was going to do.

What was he doing? Alan had no idea why or how this was right, only that it was not only right, but necessary. Being with Bodie made him feel whole in a way he hadn't experienced in eight long years. How had he survived without this feeling?

The first touch of Bodie's hands on his clothed flesh sent his mind into free-fall. After that, the whole world got hazy as he desperately tried to get his and Bodie's clothes off as quickly as possible. Finally, he was lying naked in Bodie's strong arms, savouring long gentle kisses and hands that touched his body with such reverence and tenderness -- he thought he might die from the experience.

Big hands settled on his bum, squeezing gently over and over. He'd always known Bodie liked that region of his anatomy, but when he gave no sign of letting go, Alan had to say something. "Ahem. Are you planning on making bread?'

Bodie laughed. "Just that it's so nice to touch you. Been wanting to touch you like that for years and years." A hand trailed up his spine to his neck and pulled him back down for another kiss.

It was so strange to be the smaller of the two people in this situation, but he pushed that and other uncomfortable thoughts out of his mind. He'd deal with whatever needed to be dealt with later. Now it was time to enjoy what his loneliness had wrought.

Turning him onto his back, Bodie loomed over him, starting to kiss at his jaw line and moving down slowly. Each kiss and caress drove the thoughts further from his mind, leaving him wanting and hungry as he'd never been before in his life. Anything -- he would do anything to keep the sensations rolling over him.

When he was turned over onto his belly, he did not protest, indeed his legs spread of their own volition. A glorious, hot mouth seared down the flesh of his spine, dragging sparks out of his skin with no effort at all. The cheeks of his arse were parted, lips and tongue driving him to the point of complete surrender so quickly he was never sure the question was posed. All he knew was that he had to have it, now. What he wanted, his mind was too fuzzy to really consider, but he knew he would expire of the pressure, pleasure, pain, if something wasn't released soon.

Bodie pushed into him and the opulent, sexy fog lifted long enough for the pain to present itself, but even that didn't obliterate his passion. Pressing back as he was told to, the pain was quickly replaced by the most exquisite sensation that he'd ever known. It built, sending him higher and higher, until he was sure he could touch all of the stars in the sky. Then, the world exploded and he fell, down through the thin atmosphere of the clouds into an ocean so vast he could only drown and die. He screamed as he came, all the muscles in his body constricting and releasing at once.

When the world righted itself again, Alan Cade knew he'd never be the same. He'd just let a man fuck him blind and worse than that, he'd loved every single second of it. No, worse than that even, he would give all that he owned to do it again. Unfortunately, this didn't sit well with his own image of himself.

He wasn't prejudiced by any means, but he was straight. Or, he had been up until an hour ago. Conflicted and confused, staying still wasn't an option. He pulled out of Bodie's startled arms, sitting up quickly, too quickly. Damn, it hurt to sit up. Which brought his unhappy mind back to where he'd been, and what he'd done. He stood.

"What's wrong, sunshine?" Bodie cooed in a sultry tone that did wonderful things to his nerve endings.

But they were things he didn't want done. "Don't call me that!"

Bodie sighed. "Okay. Alan. What's wrong?"

Wrapping his arms around his middle, he turned away from the warmth of the bed, trying to ignore the wetness seeping down his thighs. "You just fucked me and you're asking that question?"

He could hear the bedsprings squeak as Bodie sat up. "You didn't seem to have any objections at the time."

Alan didn't care that he was being an idiot and totally unfair, he couldn't deal with this right now, not with all the other questions pressing him down. He started to shiver. Damn, it was cold in this room.

Warm hands on his shoulders startled him, and he jumped back. "What?"

"Come back to bed, Alan. Please. We can talk about this."

Shaking his head, he backed away a little. He didn't want to be too close to Bodie's heat. It was too tempting and he was all too likely to give into it. "The last time I tried to talk, you fucked me."

Crossing his arms over his chest, Bodie glared at him. "Is that so? Like I said, I didn't hear you protesting. As a matter of fact," Bodie's eyes narrowed and a smile teased his lips. "I think you screamed loud enough to wake the neighbours."

The blush started at his toes, and had him reaching for his robe. There was no arguing with the truth, so he ignored it.

He left the room, pulling the robe around him tightly and belting it. Christ, what was wrong with him tonight? First, he couldn't get Bodie out of his mind, then as if by magic, Bodie appears out of nowhere and what does he let him do? Fuck him. Bloody hell, how did the world get so damned out of control?

He flicked the lights on as he entered the kitchen and started to fill the kettle for tea.

He had to think without the distraction of that big, pale body tempting him beyond reason. How could a forty-eight-year-old man suddenly decide he was gay? Well, not gay exactly, more like bisexual, maybe. Or maybe it had always been there and he'd denied it, like he'd denied his feelings for Bodie.

He knew better now. Denying that Bodie had aroused him was useless, besides which he wasn't going to lie to himself. The memories of how it had felt to be taken remained imprinted on his mind and his bum. He was not going to live his life without ever experiencing that kind of pleasure again. What was the problem?

Sitting down at his butcher-block table, he had to shift slightly, his earlier activities making themselves known. He sighed, sipping his hot tea. The problem wasn't what Bodie had done to him, but his complete surrender to it. In his entire life, he'd never given up control like that, never felt so possessed. It was as if he could hear Bodie's mind shouting mine every time the fat cock plunged into him.

As appalling as it was to admit, there was some part of him that wanted Bodie's possessiveness, something he'd never had from a lover. He'd never claimed or been claimed by anyone; the extent of his passions for Bodie had never been matched by another lover. But with Bodie, there was so much intensity he could barely contain the urge to go upstairs and take Bodie, possess him as he'd never been possessed, show Bodie to whom he belonged. That was not an option either.

The true problem was that for all the seething emotions they felt for each other, too much time had passed between when they had been friends and now. How could they sustain the emotions when they weren't together as they had been when they'd generated the emotions in the first place? Alan shook his head and took another sip of his cold tea. Perhaps he should just go back upstairs and talk to Bodie.

As if answering a summons or reading his mind, Bodie came down the stairs. Coming into the kitchen, Bodie wore an old track suit that must have been buried in one of his drawers. He should be annoyed that Bodie had gone through his things looking for something to wear, but he couldn't find it in himself to care. There was a ridiculous comfort in seeing Bodie in his clothes.

"Are you all right?" Bodie asked, filling the kettle and plugging it in.

Alan started to nod, but changed it into a shrug. He wasn't sure what he was any more. "Yeah. I'm... I don't know."

Bodie sat down at the table, and met his eyes seriously. "What happened up there?"

A rude laugh escaped his lips and his voice was harsh as he spoke. "I don't think I need to explain that to you, you seemed to know what you were doing very well."

"That isn't what I meant, and you know it." All of the joy and happiness had been erased from the deep blue eyes.

Alan felt a pang of regret. He fancied keeping that look in Bodie's eyes, but not at the cost of his own self-esteem. His head dropped. "I do know it."

"You're afraid, aren't you?"

Raising his head, Alan sighed. "Shouldn't I be?"

Bodie leaned back in his chair and spread his arms. "I only want to love you."

A huge lump entered his throat, threatening to strangle him. Why did Bodie have to put it like that, so simply? It wasn't simple, would never be simple. Their lives were hardly compatible with any kind of long-term relationship. "Bodie, how can you even think this might work?"

The kettle screamed, and Bodie got up to fix his tea. When he sat down again, he put his hands flat on the table. "I've lived eight years without you; if I have anything to say about it, I won't have to wait another eight again for us to be together."

Alan shook his head. "Bodie. Our lives don't fit together. I don't even approve of CI5 any more. I'm not sure I ever did."

"You worked there for ten years."

"I know, and I always had problems with it, you know that."

Bodie nodded. "Yeah. But that's not the problem here."

Maybe Bodie knew him better than he thought. "You're right, of course."

Sighing deeply, Bodie took a sip of his tea. "All right. Tell me."

"I can't. I'm not sure what it is myself." Which wasn't exactly true. He could put his finger on several points that were bothering him, but he could not quite bring himself to say them out loud. Somehow admitting that he liked being fucked, liked the feel of his own submission was not something he could do, not even to Bodie who might understand and would certainly never use it against him.

"Do you want me to leave?" He could hear the reticence in Bodie's voice; that question had to have been hard to ask.

Reacting without thinking, Alan made a split-second decision. "Yes. I do."

Bodie stood and turned away, but not before Alan could see the immense pain in the blue eyes. Bodie started to leave the kitchen, and Alan knew with sudden certainty that if he let Bodie leave now, he'd never see him again. With crushing pain in his chest, Alan stood too, reaching out.

"Wait. Please. I'm sorry. I didn't mean that."

Stopping, but not turning, Bodie's shoulders were stiff, his whole body radiating hurt and humiliation. Approaching the big body, Alan put both hands on the vibrating back, and pressed his face between the shoulder blades.

For a second before he spoke, he let the warm sexy scent of Bodie's body wash over him as he tried to put his chaotic thoughts into some kind of order. "Please. Bodie. I am... confused. I don't know what to do to make this right between us."

The deep voice held a world of hurt when Bodie spoke again. "I can't help you, sunshine. You're going to have to work it out on your own."

Alan pressed closer, expressing the first and biggest of his fears. "Do you really think we can make this work, after all this time?"

Bodie reached behind him and patted Alan's hip. "I think we can only try. But we both have to try, not just me."

"We don't know each other now. It's been so long."

"We do know each other. Yes, it's been a long time, but I think we can work together and it will work."

He shook his head; he just didn't know. But he wanted to believe it, wanted it so badly he could taste and smell his own desperation. He hated himself for needing this so much.

Bodie turned, taking him into his strong arms and holding him tightly against the solid wall of his chest. Alan could feel Bodie's heartbeat, loud and powerful in his ears, comforting him. A big hand ran though his hair, pressing his head onto the broad shoulder. For a long time, Bodie held him, and he luxuriated in the feeling of being safe and warm in the arms of someone he loved.

It came to him in a moment of crystal-sharp self-knowledge that what he wanted could be his, and all he had to do was reach out for it; put his fears aside. But he wasn't sure he could do it, not for any real length of time. For this moment, he might be able to take what was being offered, but not for any other moment. But that would be fine, just for now.

For the feel of Alan in his arms, Bodie thought he could forgive the man anything he'd done. He'd been hurt when Alan had left the bed. Even as much as he tried to understand the other man's reasoning, he could not see why this had to be so damned difficult, so fraught with tension and emotions. May be that was just Alan's nature, a holdover from the days when he was Ray Doyle and his passions ran so high all the time.

Alan was older and wiser now, shouldn't things be easier? Maybe not with Alan. Bodie sighed. At least he was still holding him. "It'll be fine, sunshine."

"Christ, Bodie, I wished I believed that." His voice was sharp with disbelief.

"What can I do to convince you?" Bodie would do anything to make this right.

Alan pulled back a little, looking up to meet his eyes. The green depths showed little hope, and Bodie's heart dropped to the vicinity of his ankles.

"I wish there was some magic cure you could work to make all of this fall into place, but there isn't."

"No. All there can be is the hope for the future." Bodie clung to that promise with a tenacity that surprised even him, but he needed to believe, because there was no life any more without Alan in it.

Alan shook his head sadly. "I have so little of that."

No surprise there. Bodie sighed. "I'll do whatever needs to be done to make this work between us -- but Alan, I can't do it alone."

"You won't have to."

"Then tell me what happened upstairs."

Alan pulled out of his arms and turned to face the sink, looking out the window above it. "I can't."

Bodie put his hands on Alan's slim hips and pulled the other man tight against him, his arms banding across Alan's chest, his cock nudging into the crevice between the perfect arse cheeks. Alan stiffened then relaxed against him. A long windy sigh escaped Alan's lips.

"This is the problem."

Bodie had no idea whatsoever what Alan was talking about. "What?"

Still facing away, Alan shuddered. "I like it. No, more than that, I loved it."

He didn't need to be told what it was. Bodie answered without thinking. "A lot of men do. I do. Liking to be fucked doesn't..." he couldn't very well say that, now could he? At best, it made Alan bisexual.

"Doesn't make me gay? It certainly comes damned close. And it wasn't the fucking part that I have the objection to." Alan turned in his arms, looking up at him.

Bodie could see where it was going. "It was the submission you liked as well?"

The green eyes dropped immediately, but Bodie had already seen the truth of it in their depths. For a straight man, it must come as an awful shock to find out something like this about yourself. Bodie'd always known he was bisexual, always known that both men and woman could and did turn him on. When he'd realised how much he liked to be fucked, he'd just taken it in stride as another quirk of his personality. For Alan, it must be stinging his self-esteem.

He wanted to reach out. "Oh, sunshine. I know all of this has been difficult for you but...." What could he say: that Alan would get used to it? Somehow he thought that probably wouldn't go over too well.

Alan sighed heavily, dropping his eyes. "Do you like it, too?" The words seemed pulled out of him.

"Yeah. A lot." He loved it, but only with the right partner, and he knew that Alan would be the right partner.

"So, you'd let me take you?" The low voice was tentative, almost as if he were afraid of the answer.

"Any time you'd like. Now, if you'd care to." One of Bodie's hands slid down to Alan's hardening cock, and the other up under the silk robe to pluck at a peaking nipple.

Alan's head leaned into his shoulder and sighed. "Christ, Bodie. I want you so badly."

"Upstairs?" Bodie wanted that more than anything, but he couldn't help worrying about their need to make some decisions.

This time, Bodie offered himself up without question or pause and was taken with more tenderness and passion than he could have imagined on his best day. Lying next to Alan afterward, his arse aching pleasantly, he was at peace for the first time in a very long while. He stroked the hairy chest, luxuriating in the feel of the taut flesh under his fingers. "Are you all right with this now?"

Alan laughed, a note of desperation his tone. "No. I can't believe I'm doing this. I can't. I'm sorry Bodie, I do care about you, more than I can probably put into words. But I am not all right with this."

He should have expected this; nothing was ever easy with Doyle, and now that he was Cade, it hadn't changed a bit. But he knew that Alan would see this through, because they were both caught by the same hook. They needed each other. "We're going to try and work this out, though, aren't we?" Bodie hated the hesitation in his voice.

"I don't know that we have any other choice. But it doesn't look good. Our lives are not compatible." A sigh hissed through Alan's teeth, and he tenderly kissed Bodie, taking the sting out of his words.

Yeah, their lives were not compatible and there would be many, many problems.

Too bad. They had to try, because any other alternative was unacceptable.

-- THE END --

Originally published in Second Variation on the Theme of B and D, Keynote Press, 1999

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