(Written for the Drabble Day "line" challenge on the_safehouse livejournal community: use the line "Don't help me" (Clarice Starling, Hannibal))

"Don't help me." Doyle's upraised palm prevented any further discussion, so Bodie backed off, retreating across the room and out of the door, where he could watch without rubbing his prickly partner up the wrong way.

Seeing Doyle struggle to take even a few steps made his muscles cramp in sympathy, and, when he stumbled, Bodie found himself reaching out, despite Doyle being safe in the physio's hands and too far away to catch.

"How's he doing, 3-7."

Bodie turned, snapping to attention at the sound of his boss' sharp voice. "Doesn't know whether he's Arthur or Martha, sir," he replied. "Knocked him about a bit, this one."

Cowley nodded thoughtfully, his gaze fixed on the young man wrestling his own body for control on the far side of the glass panelled door. For a long moment neither of them spoke, for once too much in emotional accord to need words, then Cowley visibly pulled himself together and cleared his throat.

"Take your time, laddie," he said. He could have speaking to either of them, Bodie thought probably both, but the next words were definitely meant for him alone.

"And watch his back."

"Yes, sir." Not that he needed to be told. As his hand came up to rest on the glass and his eyes measured the strain on his partner's face, Bodie felt a familiar tightening in his belly. Course he'd watch Ray's back. It was his sole reason for existing.

-- THE END --

June 2005

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