Soul Music


(Written for the_safehouse livejournal community "title" challenge (title: "Soul Music," by Terry Pratchett))

My soul is dark--Oh! quickly string
The harp I yet can brook to hear;
And let thy gentle fingers fling
Its melting murmurs o'er mine ear.

Bodie glowered at the page, wishing he'd picked up anything but Byron when he grabbed a book on his way to the eleventh-hour stakeout; normally of course, he wouldn't bother, but this was an open-ended two-team job, meaning downtime for each team, and it was their off-spell. Having lost the toss, he was reading while Doyle was sleeping... and he was having great difficulty ignoring his partner's warm weight against him. Ray had no compunctions about using him as a leaning post at the best of times, let alone when they were on stakeout, and while Bodie cherished each and every such occasion as a gift from the gods, there were times when his patience and forbearance was severely tried.

Like now. Talk about his soul being dark--of all the things he didn't need to think about, 'gentle fingers' and 'melting murmurs' were high on the list. It was bad enough in normal circumstances, but sitting here in the dim quiet with Ray's curly head on his shoulder, listening to his steady breathing, made his throat ache. Among other things... he blinked furiously, concentrating on the words dancing in the torchlight.

If in this heart a hope be dear,
That sound shall charm it forth again:
If in these eyes there lurk a tear,
flow, and cease to burn my brain.

If a hope be dear? His lip curled in self-disgust. He'd had nothing but in his heart for years, and it would take more than flowing tears to stop his brain burning, as well. It was why he never bothered with letting himself cry; he knew instinctively that it wouldn't help in the least. Not him. Not about this.

But bid the strain be wild and deep,
Nor let thy notes of joy be first:
I tell thee, minstrel, I must weep,
Or else this heavy heart will burst;

Oh yeah... the music in his murky soul ran wild and deep; it was the curse and blessing of his Celtic ancestry, and he'd never quite managed to deny it. Didn't want to, really, it made him what he was, after all. Got him in trouble, before he'd learned to mask the always-simmering anger and stubbornness beneath a veneer of practicality and cold efficiency. Didn't fool everyone, but it was enough to keep him aloof--and safe--from most.


He didn't need to look at the final verse, so he turned off the torch and closed the book, settling himself carefully back against the wall of the van so as not to disturb his sleeping partner, and recited softly,

"For it hath been by sorrow nursed,
And ached in sleepless silence, long;
And now 'tis doomed to know the worst,
And break at once--or yield to song."

He closed his eyes against the dull ache in his gut, suddenly tired to death, daring to let his cheek rest on Ray's hair. It wasn't often he let it get to him, life went on regardless, and no-one ever got what they really wanted; but for some reason, tonight Byron's words seemed aimed right at him. Knowing in truth might very well be worse than living in hope.

Doomed to know the worst. That just about said it all, really.

-- THE END --

With acknowledgement to George, Lord Byron.

July 2005

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