Holding Back the Flood


Doyle leans easily against the oak bar in the pub. Its varnished surface is smooth under his hands as he slides them absently in opposite directions along the curved edge, waiting for the barmaid to notice him. It doesn't take long until her blue eyes are even with his, and although her smile's tired, it's still a little more sweet than the one she tossed at the bloke ahead of him.

And Bodie'd laid a fiver she wouldn't be interested. Ha! Doyle feels a rush of excitement, the familiar thrum of attraction, the thrill of the chase. All he needs is her number.

Doyle leans closer, using his body to extend the invitation in his eyes. He smiles at the girl, who can't be more than twenty-one, aware that Bodie's eyes are watching him from across the pub. Doyle twitches his hips as if to say "she's as good as mine, mate."

"Two more pints when you've a moment, luv. If you're tired, just give a wave, and I'll collect 'em. You're too lovely a lass to be worn out chasing after louts like me mate over there." He jerks his thumb towards the corner, and sees Bodie give a suspiciously guarded smile. The girl hums in agreement and nods, her smile starting to spread to match his own.

"Aye, that's the truth, darlin'."

Her lilt is definitely Irish, and Doyle feels something in his spirit lift when the smile reaches her eyes. It almost makes him believe the world isn't entirely full of death and blood, even when he knows it is. He hadn't wanted to come out tonight, tired and angry after the foul-up in Bedford. His pride's still smarting, and it's only because Bodie bullied him that he's here at all.

"Have them right up for you," the girl promises, hands reaching for clean glasses. "Won't be a minute. Best you stay close." She pulls a silver lever, dull with fingerprints, and measures out a pint with heady foam.

"Wouldn't dream of straying, luv." Doyle's smile is slow and easy. Smoke and conversation drift up around him, and he thinks it shouldn't be this easy for the world to keep on turning.

Her eyes dip downwards beneath a fringe of curled lashes. As she starts drawing the second pint, Doyle risks a glance back at Bodie who's tapping the sides of his empty glass in some random rhythm and occasionally glancing at the football match on the telly. Of course, Doyle can see he's also scanning the crowd, checking the exits, watching for anything that might go wrong. Be wrong. Doyle takes some degree of comfort in knowing Bodie's got his back even if he doesn't know he's doing it. It's so natural now. For both of them.

Everything so easy when they're in synch, and hell when they aren't.

Like at Bedford.

"I say, are you all right?"

The weight of the hand on his arm is unfamiliar, unexpected, and Doyle turns quickly, reacting not thinking. He remembers himself in time--the girl, the pints waiting on the counter, Bodie safely tucked at the corner table.

"I'm fine," Doyle says. His right hand hangs useless in the air halfway towards his gun, still packed tight against his side under his jacket. He recovers quickly, patting the leather as if looking for a wallet he knows damn well is tucked in the tight back-pocket of his jeans. Without looking behind, he knows Bodie has half-risen from his seat, right hand straying beneath his jacket in case of trouble.

Christ. They can't leave it for a moment. They're nowhere near drunk enough to forget, and Doyle's beginning to think there's not enough drink in all of England to drown out what they've seen. Adrenaline and lager and exhaustion are all spinning through his blood like a familiar chorus of voices, and he almost misses the piece of crumpled paper the girl presses into his hand.

"Eileen," she says, and holds his eyes even as she starts to pour the next order. Her voice is soft among the sounds of laughter. "Eileen Kelly."

"Thanks, Eileen Kelly."

Doyle makes a show of tucking the damp paper into his breast pocket, and patting it as if it were a precious thing. In a way it is. There's trust there, and innocence, although he's not nave enough to think the barmaid's still a maid. He knows right then he'll never use the number. Or probably won't. Might come a night when he needs a warm bird for a little comfort. But looking at Miss Eileen Kelly with the smiling Irish eyes will only remind him of today, and he doesn't want that. Isn't sure he can deal with it.

"Keep the change, luv." Doyle throws a handful of notes on the bar with a wink--definitely too much for two pints, even with a generous tip, but Bodie owes him a fiver, so it only seems fair. He balances the pints through an obstacle course of bodies, chairs and tables, and eases into the booth beside Bodie.

His partner's face darkens. "Bastard. That bird give you her number, di'n't she?"

Doyle just smiles smugly, and takes the first gulp of his fresh pint. It's mostly foam and a little beer, but it hits the spot all the same. He's lost count of how many it's been, trading rounds between them all night, and the world feels warmer all of a sudden, a little less sharp.

"Your smile's not good enough, Doyle. I need proof."

Doyle extracts the piece of paper from his pocket, holds it up between two fingers and waves it at Bodie who snatches it from him. He scowls as he reads the smudged ink scrawl.

"You even look at this?" Bodie asks, knowing full-well Doyle hasn't had time to do more than assume the paper contains the girl's phone number.

"Committed to memory," Doyle says, tapping a finger against his head.

"Then you don't mind if I do this, do ya, mate?"

From somewhere beneath his brown leather jacket, Bodie produces a lighter and sets fire to the scrap. Doyle half-stands, reaching across the table, not sure whether to grab for the paper--now not much more than a giant flame--or Bodie's throat. His fingers swat the charred paper out of the air, bat it into the amber liquid that sloshes over the edge of his pint as he knocks against the table. The black ink smears together with the ash. He can make out a three, or maybe it's an eight. The paper's too wrecked to tell him anything now, and he doesn't know whether to be angry or grateful he'll never have to decide about ringing her up. Never have to send her home in a cab with a promise to call, knowing he won't. Never have to be disappointed because she can't understand why he's hurting, why she'll never reach the places inside him where the job cuts deep.

The three men one table over are sniggering, and Bodie's laughter is wild and too loud, like a kid who's nicked the best sweets from the shop and is careening through the streets, lips stained with sugar. Doyle silences the neighbouring blokes with a glare, but Bodie's another matter altogether. He considers dousing him with his own pint.

"Bodie! You bleedin' fool. You know I didn't--"

"Then how d'you know she wasn't telling you to sod off?"

"A man knows."

"A man knows," Bodie repeats, deepening his voice and arching one eyebrow.


"Relax, Doyle." Bodie waves at him to sit down, and Doyle leans back into the seat, rubbing his damp ash-stained hands on his trousers. His fingers rub idly at the dark marks on his thighs. He should've stopped off to change. "Committed to memory." Bodie taps the side of his head, mirroring Doyle's gesture of a moment before, and his grin is so pleased-as-punch that Doyle finds himself laughing in spite of himself.

"An' I s'pose you'll be willing to share. For a price?"

Bodie winks at him, aims his finger as if it were a gun, and snaps his thumb down with a clicking sound. Bull's-eye. He takes a hearty drink and smiles broadly.

"Aye, my son. For a price."

Last call doesn't stop them, just sends them staggering down the lane towards Bodie's apartment where they'd rolled out from as soon as Cowley'd cut them loose that afternoon. After the paperwork and the medical check-out. The recriminations, the "suggestion" of two days leave that was never a suggestion at all. After the yelling had stopped and the guilt had started to eat at him. The pub had seemed like a natural place to land since it was clear Bodie wasn't going to stop hounding him to go for a pint and he wasn't going to leave him alone either.

Bastard. Sometimes having a partner was the world's biggest pain in the arse.

Doyle watches Bodie fumble with the key. It clatters against the sidewalk twice before he manages to get it into the lock, right way up.

"Need a hand?" Doyle asks, leaning against the fence, finger picking at a crust of loose paint as if it were a scab.

"It's fine," Bodie slurs, and pulls the door before he remembers he has to push. He makes a face as Doyle applauds, watching him navigate the door and manage the alarm. Doyle isn't sure he could do any better, and is grateful he doesn't have to. It won't be the first time he's crashed on Bodie's sofa since they've been partners. It's almost expected these days. They're The Cow's top team. Bodie'n'Doyle. Doyle'n'Bodie. Names slung casually together as if they were one organic thing, thinking and feeling the same, acting as one.

Wouldn't be so bad if it was true.

Doyle pulls off his leather jacket, unbuckles his holster and slips it off. The sofa is soft and sags a little when he sits down, but it's kind of like sinking into a warm bath. It's familiar and comfortable, and right now that's what he wants. Something to buoy him up. Something that feels a little like home.

He closes his eyes and leans his head back against the cushions. The gun's an ominous weight in his hand, and he can almost smell the mix of powder and oil. He hasn't had a chance to clean it yet. He should do it now, but tomorrow'll be soon enough. Still, the scent catches at his nose, and suddenly he's back on a concrete rooftop, wind raw against his skin and Bodie nowhere to be seen. His heart pounds in his ears as he strains to get his bearings. Where's Bodie gone to? The men already on stakeout?

He sets the gun down on the coffee table, squeezes his eyes tighter, and runs his hands through his tangled curls. Somehow he can't seem to stop the pictures parading through his head, like a record with a stuck needle. His temples are throbbing, and Doyle isn't sure if it's the excess of cheap draught or the day catching up with him. They haven't said a word about it since Cowley's office.

But they've drunk enough this evening to put the uni crowd to shame.

There are sounds that mean Bodie's puttering around, turning on lights and generally making too much noise for Doyle's aching brain. Bodie's filling the kettle for tea, then seems to change his mind. There's a rattling around in the icebox. Doyle hears the slide of Bodie's shoes on the floor, the clink of metal cans rubbing against one another as he comes in from the kitchen.

It's too close to the metal ring of handcuffs scraping against a railing, making dull scars in the steel. Doyle had rubbed his fingers along the scored metal, sensed the frantic attempt to pull free at any cost--even the deep bloody gouges of wrists scraped raw with desperation. Ferris had broken his own wrist, crushed the bones in his hand and tried to drag it through the cuffs. His partner's handcuffs. Plucked from McGarrity's back pocket before they'd beaten him bloody and pushed him off the roof. Doyle wonders if he screamed when he fell. If anyone heard him. There's no one left to tell them what happened.

The can drops into his lap, an ice-cold surprise, and Doyle's up and sputtering as Bodie's laughter fills the room.

"Sod off, Bodie!" Doyle yells, hurling the can as if it were a grenade without its pin. Bodie ducks, laughter gone instantly. He examines the can-shaped dent in the plaster behind his head.

"Goddammit, Ray. 'Twasn't even open. What the hell are you on about?" Bodie's gesturing at the spot on the wall, wet brown spatters around it from the punctured can. He wipes at flecks of foam on his face, and stares at his partner, breathing hard. Plaster sloughs off and crumbles to the floor, leaving a thin layer of white powder. Bodie's footstep is clearly visible in the dust when he takes his first angry step towards Doyle.

Doyle doesn't move. Just stands there, feeling the room spinning around him, the space full of anger and heat, the ruptured can spinning harmlessly on the floor, booze seeping out like day-old piss. He knows the sofa is behind him, he can feel it there, but it could just as well be the edge of the rooftop scraping the backs of his calves.

He wonders if that's what McGarrity felt--the cold edge of cement against his legs--as they backed him into a corner. If his throat felt raw and itchy as if it knew it was going to be tested. Scream. Don't scream. Better or worse for the partner left behind--that spiralling shriek as the ground rushes up, or the silence of wind and absence punctuated by the ripe-melon smash of flesh and brains against cobblestones?

Doyle wonders, did they look at each other? Did they know? What would their eyes say in that final moment of knowing? What would his?

Ferris didn't live long after McGarrity bought it. Near as they could tell. Just long enough to feel the blade slicing rings around his neck, digging bloody wells into his chest. Time enough. A few minutes to give up the location of the safe house and sentence three more agents to death.

Although death was too kind a word for what happened to them.

They're supposed to be able to resist torture. They're trained. All of them. But somehow it doesn't seem to matter when they've killed your partner. When there's the slightest hope they might not do the same to you. Doyle tries to understand what Ferris did. Wants to blame him, but can't. He knows where the blame belongs. On whose shoulders.

By the time they'd figured it out, the witness was gone as if he'd never existed. Doyle knows if they find Claremont--the man they were supposed to be protecting--it'll only be pieces in the Thames. Or bones in the foundation of a building years from now. Something slow and painful and entirely his fault. If they find anything at all.

"Doyle! Ray!" Bodie's shaking him now, hands on both his shoulders and the anger's been replaced by something worse. Uncertainty. His partner's not sure about him anymore, and Doyle doesn't think he can blame him. They were running one step behind from the moment they started, and it was Doyle's insistence that the police contacts could be trusted that finally did them in. Pointed in the wrong direction entirely, chasing shadows while the fox ran rough-shod over the hen house. Doyle's certainty in the integrity of his fellow coppers. Good men. Men who could be trusted. Except he'd chosen wrong.

It was his fault for trusting, for letting them use his faith in the force. He'd given his word. He'd made the call, and Bodie had trusted him. Cowley. Ferris. McGarrity. The others whose names he can't remember now, but they'll be in the report. The one marked "closed" when what it should've said was "failed."

"For Chris' sakes, Ray, it wasn't your fault." There's a hand against his chest and a rough shove pushes him back into the sofa. Instinctively, he kicks out, managing to upset the table and Bodie all at once, and the light blinks out as the lamp topples over. There's creative swearing and he feels himself being lifted by the collar of his shirt and dragged towards the window. Somewhere in the distance there's the bleating of a siren.

"Come on, Doyle. This is what you want, isn't it?" Bodie's grip is iron, and it takes concentration for Doyle to stay on his feet as Bodie pulls him onto the fire escape, and pushes him upward. "Climb."

A hard slap on the ass, and Doyle shoots daggers at Bodie, but he does it. Climbs. Hand, foot, hand, foot, the scrape of rusted metal against the soles of his trainers, and when he crests the rooftop, he can feel the first rush of wind slapping him in the face. He wishes he felt less sober. Bodie pulls himself onto the roof behind him.

"You want to be a bloody martyr, throw yourself off the roof, mate. Here's your chance." Bodie sits on the edge and stretches out his arms. His shadow looks like a gnarled tree lifting its branches to heaven, and Doyle wonders for a moment if his partner's not a little bit insane. "All of London's waitin' to see whether the great Ray Doyle's going to check out tonight."

"That would make your life easier, wouldn't it?"

Bodie's face is a mask. "You're a bleedin' idiot."

"You don't understand."

Bodie's on his feet, angry enough to shake him. Hard. "Don't tell me I don't understand. I was there, Ray. I saw it too. It wasn't just you up there. There's enough blame to go 'round."

"Your only mistake was listening to me." Doyle knows it's going to make Bodie angry. More angry. He also knows it's true, and if they'd stuck with the witness themselves, things might've been different. But he knew better. He knew a way to not only protect the witness, but take down the villain at the same time. So he'd asked for someone else to take the safe house, another team to meet the contact, while they tracked down the lead that would let them strike at the heart of the threat.

Except their contact had sold them out, sent them chasing shadows, and their back-up team had been tortured to death for the witness's location while they stormed an empty warehouse a mile away. Ferris had broken, or at least that's what they had to assume, and Doyle had hit the rooftop running, knowing they were too late, McGarrity's bloodied corpse a clear sign of just how much too late they were.

Doyle had stumbled onto the concrete roof, same grey colour as the clouds, gun drawn and looking for someone to blame. No movement anywhere. Ferris's body still warm, blood trickling in lazy rivulets down an exposed neck and throat. Doyle had covered him up, wiped bloody hands on his trousers, and stepped to the edge. Bodie was gone, the street below an empty, lifeless thing with McGarrity's corpse hidden beneath the grey blanket from the Capri's trunk.

The door to the roof had flashed open, Bodie rolling into sight, and Doyle had raised his gun automatically. They'd stood frozen a rooftop apart, guns drawn, breathing hard, until Bodie had shaken his head, holstered his sidearm, and made the call no one wanted to make. Cowley was already aware the whole thing had gone sour. More bodies at the safe house. Burned. A week full of funerals ahead of them.

"Goddammit, Ray, will you just stop already?"

Doyle knows he'll have to get his dark suit into the cleaners. Maybe borrow that deep blue tie from Bodie. He's never quite got the hang of tying a proper Windsor, just leaves his own tie slung over the hanger in the cupboard, tightening and loosening it like a noose when required. He'll get Cowley to tie it for him, fingers moving precisely from one step to the next as easily as if they were assembling a rifle. Yes, Cowley will make sure they look their best, fall into line.

"I knew you were a bleeding heart, but I never figured you for a self-pitying coward, Ray."

Doyle looks up, something in his chest catching. Bodie doesn't understand, and somehow that's worse than the blood and the guilt combined. Partners are supposed to understand. If Bodie doesn't get it ...

"It's not on your conscience, mate," Doyle says, low and dangerous. He isn't in the mood to be mollified. He wants his anger, needs it to keep from letting other feelings overwhelm him. It will make him sharper next time. "So don't, don't tell me how to feel."


"No, Bodie. It was my decision. Mine. I thought we'd manage to bring down the whole lot of them. I wanted it, could almost taste it. I knew it was too good to be true, and I ignored it."

"It made sense." Doyle feels Bodie's hand on his arm, unwilling to be ignored. "And I didn't disagree with you."

Doyle shakes his head. "Wouldn't have made any difference."

Bodie laughs, and the sound carries on the wind. "Think pretty highly of yourself, don't ya, mate? Well, believe it or not, I can say 'no' to you, Sunshine. If I'd thought it was a trap, I damn well would've said. Wasn't just humouring you, you berk."

"I decided to go to the warehouse."

"And I agreed."

"But it was my decision."

Doyle clings to that one truth stubbornly, knowing it's the brick holding back the flood. If he gives this up to Bodie, shares the blame, he'll have nothing left except the pain and sorrow of lives lost too easily. Bodie will want to comfort him, wrap strong arms around him, and sometimes Doyle just needs to hurt alone. He doesn't want to depend on Bodie--he already needs him more than is healthy, and one of these days that's going to come out in the deluge too. All those secrets and hurts and wants he's been holding back for too many years, patching the cracks with anger and distance. He's barely keeping it together anymore.

"Our decision." Bodie's got both hands on his shoulders now, and although the angle of his jaw is stubborn and hard, his eyes have softened. So has his touch. Doyle knows Bodie's not likely to suggest pitching him off the roof again, but this is a much more dangerous space. They've been here before, but the dam's always held.

"Mine." Doyle manages to say it with more force than he feels, knows Bodie's just going to keep at him till he wears him down. Hands are stroking along his arms now, shoulder to elbow and back again, rubbing warmth into his aching limbs.

"Ours, Ray."

Words get caught in Doyle's throat and he closes his eyes, anger seeping away with the sure knowledge that there was nothing they could've done, and nothing they would've done differently. It's their job to follow leads, and Cowley trusts them to do their best, knowing it won't always be good enough. Some days it feels like it can never be good enough.

"Can't let me have one thing of my own, can you?" Doyle whispers when he finds his voice.

"Not good at sharing, are you?" Bodie chuckles and the sound is like the first rush of a spring stream. The flood is starting.


"Partners. Praise or blame, it's ours to share."

Doyle feels a hand at the back of his head, a big hand pressed against his hair, and he can smell the leather of Bodie's jacket as Bodie tugs him into a loose embrace. Doyle resists, makes Bodie take the step closer, and knows his partner understands a lot more than he lets on.

Bodie's hand flexes in Doyle's curls, dragging his head down against Bodie's shoulder. "Partners, Ray. That means being what you need."

There's a tremor in Bodie's voice, one that no one else would notice. It's like one of those tiny earthquakes before the real thing. Doyle senses disaster is imminent.

"What do you need, Ray?" Bodie's breath is hot against his ear, arms loose around him, but Doyle knows he's not going anywhere. They're standing on the rooftop swaying in the wind and it's as if they've been heading here the entire time they've been together. Partnered.

Doyle thinks of McGarrity, pushed to the edge of the roof. They beat him, deep bruising on his face and arms, beat him in sight of his partner. Ferris trying anything to get free, get to the man who'd been his second half for nearly six years. The broken hand, the bloody wrists tell that story clearly enough. But Doyle wonders if there was more to it, more beneath the surface that can never be told.

Did they say good-bye? Thank you. I forgive you. I lo--.

Bodie interrupts his thoughts with a hand on his face, blunt finger wiping at a wetness Doyle didn't even know was there. He should feel embarrassed, but Bodie's seen him half-dead and worse. He's always been the sentimental one, the one whose heart is closest to breaking.

"Tell me what you need," Bodie says again, and Doyle knows it's now or never.

"If it'd been me," Doyle starts, and Bodie flinches, actually flinches, and Doyle presses on needing to know. "If it'd been me, what would you have done?"

"Kept m' tongue in m' head."

"And if they'd backed me to the edge, leaned me over."

"Leapt after you and dragged you back." Doyle can almost believe it too. Bodie's damn convincing when he wants to be.

"You're handcuffed. Nothing you can do."

"I'd find a way."

Doyle smirks. Bodie's still touching him, stroking his back as if he's a colt who needs gentling. "It's the end, Bodie. Nothing we can do. I know it, you know it. I can see it in your eyes. What do you do?"

"Well, I bloody well don't tell them where the safe house is."


Bodie's going to be angry about that for years to come, Doyle knows. He'd sooner take his secrets to his grave than sell out a brother agent. But he knows what Doyle's asking, and he relents. Bites his lip and breathes in slow.

"I'd tell you you're the best mate a man could have."

Doyle can feel the tightness in his chest, the clutch of feeling around his heart. He thinks maybe this wasn't such a good idea after all. It's not too late to plug the leak, stop things before they're out of control.

"You don't have to--"

"I think I do, Ray. 's what you need. Maybe what we've both needed for some time." The look in Bodie's eyes tells Doyle he's misjudged the man's level of understanding. A major miscalculation, and Bodie knows exactly what he's feeling, even the things he hasn't quite admitted to himself. What he wants.

Bodie's going to break him, the way slow drops of water wear down solid rock.

"I'd tell you I'll never tire of your green eyes, those wayward curls, the way you look in jeans."

As if to reinforce his statement, Doyle feels one hand slip down to his hip, long fingers extending down towards the curve of his ass.

"I'd tell you you make me crazy, and sometimes you make me so angry I can't see straight. But when you laugh, God, when you laugh," Bodie brushes two fingers over Doyle's lips, "you make it feel like the sun's shining on me alone."

"That why you started--"

"Yeah, that's why."

Somehow Doyle's always known, but it feels good to hear it. Bodie's fingers are tracing the edges of his cheek, sliding over the rough stubble of his jaw. Doyle's almost forgotten the rooftop and the wind and everything that's gone so terribly, terribly wrong today.


"What do you need, Sunshine?"

Doyle can't help but smile, and he eases closer, lets his hands slip around Bodie's back. No turning back now. He can hear the steady rush of water building in his ears.

"You know I love you, don't you?" Bodie just nods and waits for more. "And you know if it was us, if it came to that, well, it's been worth it. Every moment."

"For me too."

"Only one thing I've ever needed, Bodie." Doyle's eyes find his partner's. He lets the flood wash over him, fill his soul with the emotions he's been keeping buried so long.

"'A tall ship and a star to steer her by'?"


Doyle moves the last few inches, kisses Bodie with eyes open wide. He can feel Bodie's grin beneath his lips, and then the kiss deepens, moves from affection to something more, the sum of three years of waiting and wanting and hiding behind friendly touches and innuendo. Teasing turns into something wilder, and Doyle knows he'll never be able to look at Bodie's mouth without wanting to kiss him. Like this. Frantic and full of moans, tongues pushing and seeking out each other, hands clasped in jackets and hair as if a gale were trying to blow them apart.

They're clinging to one another, holding on, and Doyle doesn't care that he's drowning because it's Bodie and that makes it all right. When they start fumbling with buttons and zippers on the rooftop, get their first blast of cold air on warm skin, they scamper down the fire escape like reckless teenagers. Doyle knows it's as much about what they lost today--five good men and a whole lot of innocence--as it is about them, but it's that too. Needing, wanting, knowing any moment might be the last one, and too many things unsaid are worse than anything they've shouted in anger.

Without much trouble, they're naked and warm in Bodie's bed, lights out and moonlight streaming through the blinds. There's no room for shyness. Doyle knows Bodie's body like he knows his own, has traced its lines a thousand times in his dreams, and when Bodie slides into the warm space between his thighs, nothing has ever felt more right. The last piece of a puzzle slipping into place.

Neither of them speaks, but there's no need. They know what they feel, have always known even without saying it, and the fact it's been said, formed into words and made irrefutably real, only means they have something else to carry with them onto the next rooftop, the next stakeout, the next time when everything goes wrong.

There are none of their usual jokes, but Doyle knows this first time is something separate from the men who fire insults as easily as they fire their guns. The room is made entirely of sensation--the cool cotton against his back, Bodie's flesh against his belly, hard cock slick against his own. There is a silence that is nothing like silence, made up of the small sounds of making love--a graceful exhale, an intake of breath when a fingernail edges along a perfect spine, a full-bodied moan of pleasure. Everywhere the wet, warm sounds of skin meeting skin, lips bruising one another gently in the dark. Doyle can smell Bodie's skin, musk and leather, an undercurrent of sweat and Doyle can't imagine anything more perfect than the taste of Bodie's skin beneath his tongue. His daydreams were never this good. He laps lazy circles against Bodie's neck, memorizes each curve and angle, knows he wants to spend a lifetime worshipping this man with his body. He'll die protecting him if it comes to that. Which it likely will.

When he comes it's with Bodie's hand around his cock, Bodie's mouth open and wet against his shoulder, the sound of his name tumbling from Bodie's lips. It washes over him, pushes him past the edge of feeling into another place entirely. It's like floating and drowning all at once. Bodie kisses him sweetly, murmurs something that sounds like love, and settles down beside him, shoulder to shoulder.

Doyle still aches inside, but it's like the remembered sting of a bee. Tomorrow he'll ferret out his dark suit and nick Bodie's blue tie, and Bodie will gripe that he should buy his own damn tie. Two days from now they'll carry their dead down a narrow aisle and sing hymns Doyle only remembers he knows when he's hoisting a coffin on his shoulders. The words will catch in his throat and Bodie's steady tenor will comfort him like a hand on his shoulder. Cowley will make a perfect Windsor for each of them, clap them on the shoulders, and ply them with single malt Scotch after their duty is done. They'll laugh and drink a toast to each of the lads, and then they'll go back to saving the world, or at least each other.

Someday it'll be them on a rooftop, guns empty, eyes locked, and nowhere to go but down. But tonight, Doyle wraps an arm around Bodie's waist and pulls him closer, kisses him again and tells him he loves him, says it so they'll both remember, so they can't forget.

Someday it'll be their turn. But not tonight.

-- THE END --

July 2005

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