(Written for the_safehouse livejournal community "quotes" challenge (quote: "Seek first to understand and then to be understood." -- Stephen R. Covey ))

Sitting on his couch and nursing the same glass of whiskey he'd poured three hours ago, Doyle gave up studying the shapes in wallpaper and finally faced his feelings.

Why had he thrown off Bodie's arm and then waited for him to catch up? The answer to that was simple. Because however much it hurt seeing Ann drive away, the pain had been immediately swamped by overwhelming relief and the feeling that somehow he'd had a bloody close shave.

Yesterday, being married sounded like the answer to all his problems. Loneliness, lack of focus, a deep-seated uneasiness about where he was going and what the future held, all vanished. With Ann in his arms, he could side step the inevitable bullet with his name on it. A wedding, a house in the suburbs and two point four kids followed naturally. His chance to get out, to walk away before he was carried off in a box.

But in retrospect, it wasn't that easy. Having Ann would have meant giving up Bodie; she'd made that much clear the first time she and Bodie had met. Uncouth, she called him. Nosy. Course that opinion was born out when it came to light that Bodie was investigating her, but even without that, she hadn't liked Ray's partner. Not an unforgivable offence. Plenty of the other agents didn't like him either. Could be a prickly bugger on a bad day, could Bodie. But there was a difference between their dislike and Ann's. Theirs was a genuine, know him, work with him, can't stand the sarky sod, dislike. Hers was fastidious, like someone who'd found something faintly unpleasant in their soup. Or a mother forced to entertain one of her kid's less palatable friends.

She'd looked down her nose at Bodie, and in doing so had shown Ray exactly what she thought of him as well. He and Bodie were as close as most married couples. Closer. Most couples didn't throw themselves in front of speeding bullets every few weeks for the sake of their other half.

Other half. That's really what Bodie was. The flip side of the coin, north and south, AC/ DC, yin and yang. Though they'd fight about who took the feminine role.

Doyle paused at that thought and took a sip of his drink. They were opposites; Cowley had said as much when he'd partnered them; but the thing about opposites is, they only exist in relation to each other. Without one, the other ceased to be. Did that mean that without Bodie, Ray Doyle ceased to be?

Another mouthful of whiskey helped the thought percolate. To start with, it seemed too far-fetched to even think about seriously. Of course he'd still exist without Bodie. But would he? He'd walk and talk, live, breathe, and go for a piss every morning, at least until some bastard got a lucky shot in. But he wouldn't be Ray Doyle as he was now. Because that person existed in the negative space around Bodie, just like Bodie occupied the negative space around Doyle. They constructed each other. Every time they faced an enemy and emerged triumphant, they emerged as a whole, more than the sum of their two parts. When Cowley had put them together, he had created more than two agents working together; he had created gestalt. Mutable completeness. The ultimate explanatory principle in action.

Christ, but this was getting heavy.

Smothering a yawn, Doyle put aside his glass and stood up. It was well past midnight and he had an early start tomorrow writing up the Holly affair. And for once, he and Bodie would be filing separate reports so he couldn't even dump his partner with half the paperwork.

Maybe he'd come back to this again. Try and explain it to Bodie.

With a laugh, Doyle shook his head. Nah, he'd best try and understand it himself before he tried to make himself understood.

-- THE END --

July 2005

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