A Question of Trust
"I spy with my little eye something beginning with F," announced Bodie. He'd get Doyle with this one.
"No. Where can you see freesias?" Bodie demanded to know.
"Number 14, upstairs, left hand window."
Bodie looked hard. Sure enough, there was a vase of freesias. The bleep of the R/T interrupted the mind boggling boredom of yet another round of I-Spy.
"Alpha to 4.5."
"Any movements yet?"
"Nothing, sir. The place must be empty or else they're all dead in there."
"Just keep watching 4.5."
"It might help if we knew what it was we were watching for." Watch the house, Cowley had said, and so for the past four days it had been the subject of an intensive CI5 surveillance. Doyle and Bodie had alternated with Richards and Murphy around the clock. After four days the house was exactly as it was when they had first arrived. Number 10, semi-detached desirable residence with a large garden front and back. Doyle could have included how many bricks made up the facade of the building, but he didn't think that his boss would appreciate that much attention to detail. Everyone seemed to ignore the house. The milkman, postman, baker, newspaper boy and the neighbours all walked on by without so much as a glance at the closed-up windows.
"Just watch it, 4.5. If the net curtains move in the breeze I want to know. Is that understood?"
"Understood, sir." Doyle saluted the handset. He then looked at the house, giving it his undivided attention. "Front door knocker."
"Begins with F, front door knocker."
"Am I getting close?"
"Give us a clue then."
Bodie thought hard, then, "Leads to interesting things." He fixed his eyes away from his partner's and smiled.
"What kind of interesting things? It is something I can see, isn't it?" said Doyle, remembering only too well Bodie's last effort, B for Bloody Boring.
"Yes, you can see it. You could touch it if you really wanted to," he answered in a neutral tone of voice.
"And would I want to?"
"You do, frequently," was the puzzling reply.
Twenty minutes later Doyle still hadn't guessed correctly. The R/T bleeped again.
"3.7 to 4.5. Night patrol reporting for duty. How's things?" It was Richards.
"Quiet as the flipping grave, sod all's been happening. See you in the morning. 4.5 out." He switched off the handset and stretched his cramped muscles. "Right, home, James. All right, I give in. What can you see beginning with F?"
As the car smoothly pulled away from the curb, Bodie turned and said "Flies."
"Flies. Where?" He couldn't see any flies buzzing around. Then he caught the unholy gleam in the blue eyes and recalled his first clue.
"Don't you ever think of anything else, Bodie?" slightly exasperated.
"Not often, 'specially not with you around, flower."
The light teasing mood was still there when they got home to Doyle's flat. Bodie had more or less moved in during the three months since they had become lovers. He still kept his own flat on, but most of his more personal possessions and practically all of his clothes had gradually moved over and taken up residence in Doyle's flat. At the very start of their relationship, Ray had decided that if he was going to end up as chief cook he would much rather be in his own kitchen.
It was amazing that they had fitted together so well. Bodie knew that just because they were good working partners, good friends and even better lovers, it did not necessarily mean that they could live together. The worst of their problems so far had been caused by Ray's tendency as cook to try and dictate what Bodie should eat, and Bodie's idea of a good nourishing meal was very different from his partner's. Home cooking was very nice, but Bodie would find himself longing for a nice, indigestible bag of chips, or a takeaway curry. After existing on a staple diet of convenience foods for several years he often found the withdrawal symptoms to be fairly acute. After a few false starts, though, Bodie finally worked out a good system, whereby when Doyle wanted a healthy wholesome -- and to Bodie's mind, boring -- meal, he would take a trip to the local takeaway.
The past few days hadn't exactly been physically tiring; apart from taking turns to walk around the block or to go and get something to eat, they had spent all their time sitting outside number 10 Wilton Road. This morning, before going on duty, Doyle had insisted that they should go on a long jog, just to keep them in trim, and Bodie had a sneaky suspicion that he was going to make a similar suggestion at the crack of dawn tomorrow.
After a pleasant meal had been eaten and cleared away they spent a comfortable few hours in front of the telly. At what he judged to be a respectable time, after all, Bodie didn't want his partner to think he was sex mad, he nudged him in his ribs.
"If we're going jogging again tomorrow I think it's about time we went to bed, don't you?"
Doyle looked at the clock before answering. "It's only quarter to ten."
"So. By the time we actually get into bed and fall asleep I expect it will be much, much later. Anyway, I feel like an early night."
"Why, are you tired?"
Doyle's dirty laugh rattled around the living room.
"Let's see if I've got this right. You're not tired."
"But you want to go to bed."
"Correct again. All you need to win tonight's star prize is one more correct answer," said Bodie in his best Hughie Green voice.
"You've got this great book that you want to read."
"Too right. I always said I could read you like a book. I reckon I must be dyslexic. I have to keep going over and over the same bits time and time again." As he spoke he pulled Doyle across his lap and began to chew on an earlobe.
"Ouch! Animal. Anyone would think you hadn't been fed."
They broke apart, and after turning off the lights and checking everything was locked up for the night, went into the bedroom where they stripped off in silence, the anticipation already building up. Doyle moved towards the bathroom, silently followed by Bodie.
Squeezing some bath gel onto a sponge, Doyle began to soap his body, only to have the sponge taken away as Bodie soaped his back for him. The shower stall was really only built with one person in mind, and so space was very limited. Each movement meant contact with each other's bodies. Hands began to follow the sponge as it travelled over bare skin, cleaning and caressing at the same time. Having completed its allotted job, the sponge was dropped to the floor and hands moved over silky skin, lingering and rinsing away the lather. By now the cramped vertical position was becoming very limiting and by common consent they stepped out of the shower and began to dry themselves.
In the bedroom the cooler air encouraged them to slip under the quilt quickly, and they cuddled up together to recapture the warmth they had shared in the bathroom.
"Are you really tired?" Doyle asked after Bodie had delivered an enormous jaw breaking yawn.
"Yes, but not that tired."
"Good," was the smug rejoinder.
"And to think I was worried about suggesting an early night."
"Why were you worried?"
"Didn't want you to think I was sex mad, did I."
"You mean you're not?"
Bodie set about dispelling the disappointment in Doyle's voice. He had already, after only three months, come to the conclusion that if Ray Doyle was a drug, he would be a confirmed addict.
With practised ease they coaxed and caressed each other into response. Familiarity had opened the way to a more relaxed form of lovemaking. The passion and fire was still there, but now they took the time to savour and enjoy each sensation that loving hands and mouths evoked.
Doyle came first and Bodie smoothed the creamy liquid into Ray's skin, soothing and calming the fires. After a moment's stillness, Doyle raised himself up to kneel beside Bodie and took the straining organ into his mouth. He knew that Bodie enjoyed this particular caress. With one hand cupping the tight testicles and the other forming a hot sheath around the engorged flesh, he began a rhythmic sucking. He felt Bodie tense beneath him and saw, out of the corner of his eye, one hand clenching at the sheet. As Bodie slumped back onto the bed, Doyle gave the now softening cock a final loving kiss and then moved up the bed to draw Bodie into his arms.
The pleasant aftermath of their lovemaking overtook them and they settled sleepily and contentedly against each other, Bodie resting his head on the curve of Doyle's shoulder. He twisted his head to deposit a soft kiss on the tanned skin.
"You do that very well y'know," he murmured sleepily into Doyle's neck.
"Years of practise, mate."
"How many?" Bodie was astonished to hear himself speak out loud the question which had been at the back of his mind ever since they had first become lovers. The body in his arms stirred.
"How many what?" came the sleepy reply.
"Years. How many years have you been practising?"
The warm body stiffened in his arms, the cosy repleteness vanished.
"What exactly do you mean by that?" All trace of sleep was gone; Ray was now wide awake. He had been expecting this question ever since he had confessed to Bodie that he had known he was bi-sexual for years. Expecting and dreading it. "Was that supposed to mean 'How many years have I been practising with men, other men?"
Bodie felt like kicking himself. How could he have been so tactless. He tried to gloss over how important the question was to him.
"Look, I'm sorry. I don't want to make a big thing out of it. I just wondered... I mean, until you told me I'd had no idea that you could be gay. I'd seen you with lots of girls. I just wondered if there had ever been anyone, you know... special. You don't have to tell me if you don't want to. What you did before you met me is really none of my business. I was just...curious."
The body beside him shifted again and sat up. Leaning against the headboard, Doyle looked down at his partner.
"What do you want to know?" he asked flatly.
"I don't want to know" Bodie said truthfully, "It's just this whole thing is so strange. I don't know how you managed to keep it a secret from me for three years. I just can't imagine you cruising gay bars. Every time I think about it I feel ill. Believe me, I don't want to know, but it can't be worse that what I'm imagining. Can it?"
Doyle believed him. At times, his life over the past three years had been unreal to him too. He didn't want Bodie to imagine all the wrong things, but he doubted that his partner would like the truth any better either.
"When I joined CI5 Cowley already knew that I was bi-sexual. He told me that I should always be careful, not to take casual partners. He knew that I wasn't the cruising type. As long as I reported all liaisons to him, the way I do with girlfriends, the security angle was covered, and it was okay with him. In the past three years I've been with the department I have had to report a grand total of two male relationships. How many girls have you laid in the past three years, Bodie?"
Bodie didn't answer, not that Doyle wanted him to anyway.
"I don't think you ever knew either of the people concerned. They were both cleared by security anyway, and neither lasted very long. Before I joined CI5 there was only ever one man. I suppose you could say he was special. So my total gay experience over a period of ten years is three men, four counting you."
It wasn't as bad as Bodie had been expecting. Only four partners in ten years.
"How old were you when you first -- "
"The special one, he was your first?"
"Yes, he was the first."
"How long did it last?"
Doyle looked across the darkened bedroom towards the window. This was going to hurt Bodie, he knew that. But he also knew that if he lied, Bodie would know. "Six years."
He heard Bodie's sudden intake of breath. It irritated him. What on earth had he been expecting him to say. Six days, six weeks, six months.
"Six years!" came the shocked whisper. Bodie had thought he had already heard the worst; this was a big shock. Six years was a long time.
"Why did it end, you mean?"
"He wanted we to go to Europe, to Brussels when the EEC really got going. Open up a new business with me as a full partner. He also wanted us to live openly together, you know, Come Out, but I couldn't, not then. Also I didn't really want to leave the force. It wasn't long after Sid Parker was murdered. I felt I had something to offer to prevent that kind of thing happening again, and I'd heard about CI5 and I was interested. Because I said no, he thought it meant that I didn't love him anymore, so he packed up and went off to Brussels on his own. We keep in touch. It's been nearly four years now."
The way that Doyle was speaking, in a flat monotone, told Bodie that the memories still hurt, and he guessed that Ray had really loved the guy. He wanted to know more about the man who, like him, had found the key to the real Ray Doyle.
"How did you meet him?"
"I arrested him. Can you believe that. Four times in three weeks. Three times for speeding and once for driving under the influence of alcohol."
"What did he do? Seduce you to stop you from filing a report."
"No, you fool." Bodie was taking it better than he could have hoped. He had been so sure that he would have felt threatened by his reminiscences. "He ended up losing his license. By the fourth arrest I felt as if I'd known him for years. I had to go to court to give evidence on the last charge, and when he lost his license he was stuck at the court with a car and no way to get home. By then I was off duty, and so I drove him home in his car. It all sort of snowballed from there."
Bodie couldn't believe his ears.
"You arrested him. Isn't that against police ethics or something? I mean, doctors aren't supposed to make it with their patients, surely policemen aren't supposed to make it with people they've arrested? After all, the Commissioner has never been to happy about having gay coppers in his force. How on earth did you get away with it for six years?"
"We didn't take out an ad in the Times or broadcast it, Bodie. We were very careful. I don't think many people guessed the truth, and if they did they never said anything to me. All our friends knew how important it was to keep quiet about it because of my job. It surprised me when Cowley said he knew all about it."
"What was his name ?"
"It doesn't matter. You don't know him and you're never likely to meet him so what's the point?"
"Just curious?" pressed Bodie.
"Curiosity killed the cat."
"Satisfaction brought it back. Bet it's something daft like Aubrey or Valentine," he teased.
"Do I look like the kind of bloke who would get mixed up with a berk called Aubrey?" said Doyle with mock exasperation. Then because he knew Bodie wouldn't rest until he knew, he gave in. "Christopher Hetherington. Right. Can I get some sleep now please?" Without waiting for an answer he snuggled back down under the covers and shifted around until he was comfortable. They lay very still for a while, then Bodie broke the silence.
"I'm sorry that I asked, but thanks for telling me. I love you."
Doyle reached up and drew Bodie's face down into a soft kiss, an affirmation of their love.
"I love you too," he whispered. "I knew you were bound to ask sooner or later. It's okay."
The two men lay quietly, each lost in his own thoughts. So far their relationship had not had to weather any emotional storms, everything had gone so well for them, but it was early days yet and they were still learning things about each other.
Bodie lightly stroked a flat palm across the shoulders of his partner. Not to tickle or arouse though. It was almost an unconscious gesture, as if he were just making sure that Ray was still there. The streetlights cast a dim glow through the curtains and he could just see the shape of Doyle in the bed beside him. His mind was busy analysing what he had been told about Mr Christopher Hetherington. All said and done six years was a long time. Twice as long, in fact, as the time he had known that Ray Doyle even existed -- and it had taken them all that time to become lovers. Doyle's words echoed round and round his sleepy mind. "...he thought I didn't love him, so he packed up and went." At the end of their relationship, Ray had obviously still loved Hetherington. The fact that they had kept in touch bothered Bodie. Did it mean that even after four years, Ray still loved him? The longest relationships Bodie ever managed were usually measured in months rather than years, intense and short lived was the normal pattern. But not this time, he thought fiercely. He tightened his grip on Doyle's shoulders. He wasn't going to let Ray slip away from him.
He could feel Bodie's hand moving over his back and looked up to see him staring up at the ceiling. Doyle's heart sank. He could feel the tension in the body beside him. For the past few weeks he'd seen the way Bodie had watched him as they went about their duties. Every time he'd met an old friend he could see Bodie watching, wondering if perhaps this was a former lover.
If only he hadn't been stupid enough to be caught out by the Bodie look-alike he'd picked up in one of those awful gay bars that he normally avoided, Bodie would never have suspected him of frequenting such places, but then if he hadn't turned up the next morning with a black eye maybe things wouldn't have happened as they had and they still wouldn't be lovers.
When Chris had gone to Brussels he'd been so sure that he would follow him. The ultimatum had been clear enough. The Police Force or Chris. At the time he had desperately wanted both and had bitterly resented the choice given to him. More in anger than by careful thought, he had chosen the police. How dare Chris try to dictate his life. Having made his choice he realised that Chris had really meant what he'd said and was not going to come back, only then had he known exactly what he had lost.
But it had been the right choice, even though the past four years had been very empty. At first Bodie's friendship had helped to fill the gap, but then he'd realised that he wanted more than perhaps Bodie was prepared to offer, but now everything was all right. He had Bodie, and this was all he wanted. The past few years had changed him. Chris would always mean something special to him, but Bodie was what he needed now. All he had to do now was convince Bodie of that. He felt Bodie's grip tighten on his shoulders and returned the pressure with a hug of his own. In time everything would work out all right. Cuddled up together, lost in their separate thoughts, they fell asleep.
After a few more fruitless days of observation on 10 Wilton Road, the operation was cancelled and Bodie and Doyle found themselves hanging around the squad room. The weather was dark and gloomy, which matched perfectly with the prevalent mood in the crowded room.
Bodie really hated times like this with a vengeance. The enforced inactivity almost drove him up the wall. Doyle fared slightly better, having been used to such periods of inactivity in the police. It seemed as if all the malcontents and dissidents in the country were suffering from an attack of conscience, or else they had all gone to sunnier climes for a holiday.
Considering the number of men in the squad room it was very quiet. They had just about exhausted every topic of conversation and were now either leafing through files in an effort to look busy or reading the latest pornographic magazine that had been confiscated from some poor felon. Quiet rhythmic rumbles indicated that more than one hardy agent had succumbed to sleep.
A loud knock on the door caused all heads to swing around. Had something exciting happened? No. It was just Florence, the tea lady.
"Afternoon, gents. I need a good strong man in the kitchen. Any volunteers?"
Now, if Florence had been under 40 and even remotely attractive she would have been inundated with offers. As it was, though, poor Flo was only six months off retirement and looked at least ten years past it.
"Don't all shout at once. Come on, if you lot want some tea this afternoon someone's got to help me shift the urn. The usual trolley got broken this morning."
Each of the agents avoided Flo's steady gaze and hoped that someone else would offer to help.
"Come on Flo, let's go and get the tea, shall we?"
"Ta, Mr Doyle. I knew that there had to be at least one gentleman amongst this lot," her voice giving a clear indication of what she thought of the men remaining in the room. Doyle and Flo left the squad room to a chorus of insults.
"He's only doing it for your cream buns, Flo."
"Watch him, Flo, he's got hot blood in his veins."
"Watch out for her cream puffs, Doyle."
The overwhelming excitement of that little interlude over, the agents again fell into a state of stupor.
The strident tones of the telephone bell caused more than one sleepy head to jerk awake.
"Squad room, Bodie."
"Doyle there? I've got a call on the line for him?"
It was the switchboard.
"No, he's just popped out. Shouldn't be gone long though."
"I think it's a personal call, Bodie. Will you take it for him? The bloke seems to want to get in touch with your mate pretty bad?"
"Okay, put him through... Hello"
"No, Ray isn't here right now. Do you want to leave a message?" "You'll be sure to pass it on? I've had a devil of a job tracking him down."
"Yeah. I'll see he gets it as soon as he gets back."
"Well, all right. Tell him Chris Hetherington called and that I'm back home for a month or so. There's a party at my house on Saturday night. All the old crowd will be there if he would like to come as well. Uh, and tell him he can bring a friend if he wants to. Even if he can't come will you ask him to get in touch? He knows my home number. Right, did you get that?"
"Chris Hetherington. You're home. Party on Saturday. Old crowd. Bring a friend. Get in touch. Got it." Bodie was astounded that his voice sounded so normal to his ears.
"Thanks a lot. Goodbye."
The line went dead.
He wanted to smash the receiver down, but wisely decided that it would attract too much attention. Quietly, Bodie left the room. He needed some space, some fresh air. It felt as if the walls of the squad room were closing in on him. He was halfway down the corridor when he recognised the footsteps running up the stairs from the basement. Doyle saw him waiting there and slowed to a stop.
"Phew. One crisis averted. Tea will be served as soon as she gets the trolley loaded with cream buns and gets it into the lift."
"You had a phone call."
"Yeah." Bodie watched Doyle's face closely, "From your old friend Chris Hetherington." He saw Doyle's face light up and a knife twisted painfully deep down inside.
"Chris. What did he want ?"
Bodie schooled his features and voice to as near normal as he could manage, not that Doyle seemed to notice the effort he was making.
"Said to tell you that he's home and having a party on Saturday. You're invited, and he asked that you call him even if you can't go."
"He's home. That's great. We're not doing anything on Saturday, are we? Want to go?"
Bodie couldn't believe his ears. After four years all the bloke had to do was make a phone call to get Doyle running.
"I'll call him back now, tell him we're coming." Doyle stepped into one of the empty rooms and crossed over to the telephone. Bodie followed quietly and shut the door.
"You can tell him you're going, if you really want to, but don't bother to include me."
Doyle froze halfway through dialing the number and Bodie realised, with shock, that even after four years, Doyle had remembered the number without looking it up. Doyle replaced the receiver and looked up. The tone of voice Bodie had used was the one normally delivered to people he wanted to intimidate. It was a voice which revealed a part of Bodie that few people ever saw, and those that did were never in any hurry to repeat the experience. It was the first time he had ever spoken to his partner in that way.
"What do you mean by that?"
"Exactly what I said. You tell him you're going but don't include me."
Bodie's cool voice sent Doyle's temper to flashpoint immediately.
"Let me see if I've got this right. I actually have your permission to go visit an old friend."
"Old lover." Bodie felt the need to clarify that point.
"I stand corrected. Old lover. Old as in past tense. As in 'over and done with'. You know that," he spat, green eyes blazing ice fire. "Chris is a friend, an old friend, and yes, he was my lover but you know damn well that all ended four years ago. I don't need your permission to go and see him. What's the matter, Bodie, don't you trust me?"
The brooding gaze gave its a silent reply.
"That's it, isn't it. You don't trust me, do you ?"
He was about to explode into outraged fury but just barely managed to control himself. Of course Bodie was worried. It must have been perfectly obvious to him that he bad loved Chris very much, but how could he ever explain that their relationship was the opposite of the one he had shared with Chris. Within weeks of meeting Chris they had been deep in a very satisfying physical relationship, and it was only after becoming lovers they found they could also be good friends. He still felt something for Chris. After all, they had shared six years of life together. It would be very hard not to. But once the physical part of their relationship had ended they had remained good friends.
With Bodie it had been the other way around. It had taken three years of steadily deepening friendship before they had entered into a physical relationship. He took a deep breath and tried to control his temper and reassure Bodie at the same time.
"Look, Bodie. Chris is a friend, a very good friend, but that's all. You should know that. You don't have to get worried that I'm going to vanish off into the hills with him. Trust me, Bodie, please."
Bodie swallowed hard. He knew that he was being unfair but that didn't make it any easier.
"But you still want to see him?"
"If you ask me not to, I won't."
The fury had all but gone from Doyle's face and voice. Bodie believed him. All he had to do was say, " I don't want you to go," and he knew that Ray wouldn't, but that would be treading on dangerous ground. If he allowed this jealousy to get control of him, Doyle would begin to feel trapped. He had to let him go and then wait and see if he came back.
"I'm sorry. Forget I said anything. Of course I trust you."
"Then you'll come with me on Saturday."
That was asking too much. To actually see the two of them together. He had to know that Ray came back because he wanted to, not because he had a chaperone. "No. He's your friend and I won't know anyone else there. You go. I don't mind. Really."
He managed a small smile. He was still hoping that Ray wouldn't go but his next words shattered any hopes in that direction.
"If you change your mind, let me know."
Doyle began to re-dial the number. He knew that Bodie didn't want him to go but he was also aware that Bodie was going to have to learn to trust him. In the future there were bound to be times when they would each want to see friends that the other didn't know or like. He trusted Bodie. Bodie was just going to have to learn that trust is a two way thing.
Bodie went to leave to room so that Ray could have his conversation in private, but Doyle was having none of that and bid him to stay with a wave of his hand.
"Hello, is that Mrs. Keane? It's Ray Doyle... Fine. How are you... No, not yet. You have to be in the police force before they make you Commissioner... Not anymore... A while back now... Is Chris there... Oh, will you pass a message on then. Tell him I'll be there on Saturday... Yes, I look forward to seeing you too. Bye."
He hung up and looked across the room at Bodie.
"That was his housekeeper. He's just gone out."
There was a lot Bodie wanted to say, but he didn't know how to break into the uneasy silence in the room. They were both saved by a tremendous banging and crashing from the corridor which announced the arrival of Florence and her trolley of goodies. Ray thumped Bodie on the shoulder.
"Come on. If we get there first we can have the pick of the cream cakes before the rest of the rabble arrive. My treat," he added generously.
The prospect of getting one of Flo's cream cakes at Doyle's expense cheered Bodie up a little and they dived into the corridor to be first in the queue.
The next few days held little excitement for the two men. It was so dull that they were reduced to placing bets on who could guess to the nearest minute when Flo would arrive with her trolley. All the agents were wishing that something -- anything -- would happen. Bodie was wishing harder than most. It was already Friday afternoon; if something didn't crop up soon they would both be off duty for the whole weekend. It was just possible that they would be called in, but as they were at the bottom of the stand-by rota, Bodie didn't think that it was very likely.
The party hadn't been mentioned again. There was a lot to do if they did get the weekend off. Maybe if they were busy enough, Doyle would just forget, but Bodie knew that he was deluding himself.
Saturday morning arrived grey, wet and miserable. Doyle decided that they had a lot of shopping to do, a task which Bodie hated. When he had been living on his own he had always dived into the nearest corner shop and stocked up on packets and tins of whatever looked easy and filling. He'd known it was expensive, but he hadn't really cared. Fighting around a crowded Tesco's on a Saturday morning was not his idea of fun, but he had worked out a plan of attack to persuade Doyle to change his mind about the party and so far everything had gone well. He had done everything with a smile and had gone out of his way to be extra nice and agreeable. They had been in the supermarket for about half an hour and were now standing at the very back of a thirty foot queue for the cash registers -- but he hadn't complained once.
Doyle looked intently at the display of soap powders. If he looked at the ridiculous grin that Bodie had stuck on his face he would burst out laughing. It was obvious what Bodie was doing, and Doyle felt just a little bit guilty. He didn't feel particularly enthusiastic about the party but it was the principle that mattered. If their relationship was going to remain equal he couldn't allow Bodie to dictate to him or to always get his own way. But it didn't stop him from taking advantage of the situation. After all, it wasn't often that he had Bodie this docile, and he decided to see just how far his partner was prepared to go.
"I've got to go and get my suit from the cleaners. Can I meet you back at the car? You can manage this lot, can't you?" he said looking at the loaded trolley.
Bodie looked as if the words were going to choke him and Doyle made his escape. Half an hour later, Doyle caught sight of Bodie just ahead of him, struggling with four loaded carrier bags which seemed to be dissolving in the steady rain.
"You twit, why didn't you get plastic bags? You must have known this would happen. No," Doyle shouted. "Don't put them down. The bottom will fall out if it gets wet."
Bodie didn't trust himself to speak out loud his thoughts on the merits of plastic carrier bags over paper ones and so, for several moments, they struggled in silence. Then, each with a armful of shopping, moved off towards the car.
As soon as they reached the car, Doyle swore profusely.
"Will you look at that!"
"I told you to use the car park," came the smug voice of Bodie.
After dropping the shopping and his suit in the back of the car, Doyle snatched the offending parking ticket from under his windscreen wipers, swearing and cursing traffic wardens to hell and back. Totally unconcerned by his partner's wrath, Bodie climbed into the car.
"You know," Bodie said, "there is one way to make sure that you never get another parking ticket."
"Yeah, in future we use your car."
"No. You have to look at the problem scientifically, collect all the data and then come up with the logical solution that eliminates the possibility of future parking tickets."
Doyle looked very hard at Bodie. There were times when he could sound incredibly intelligent.
"Okay, let's have it then. What is the scientific solution? Sterilize all the wardens, eliminate the species?"
"No. It's quite simple really," Bodie continued with a dead-pan expression on his face. "Remove the windscreen wipers."
"Where do they always shove the ticket? If you haven't got any wipers they haven't got anywhere to stick the ticket. Problem solved."
"Where the hell did you pick up that little gem ?"
"Readers Digest, last time I was at the dentist. It's amazing the bits of information you can glean from those books."
"I wouldn't know. My dentist only ever seems to have Good Housekeeping and The Lady in his waiting room. Pity neither of us can knit. I could pick up some lovely patterns," camped Doyle.
"You obviously go to the wrong class of dentist, my son. Mine always has Readers Digest, Homes and Gardens and Punch, all very intellectual.
The game of one upsmanship continued on the short drive home. When they entered the house loaded down with shopping, Bodie left Doyle to put the stuff away while he prepared some lunch for them both.
It was still only a little after one o'clock. If he was going to persuade Doyle against the party he was going to have to think of something pretty quick, but then the object of his thoughts came up with a few ideas of his own.
"Right. Now we've got a choice. One of us can do the kitchen and living room and the other can do the bedroom and a trip to the launderette. What do you want to do?"
"Housework? You want to spend Saturday afternoon doing housework?"
"It's got to be done. Look at the place. If my mother turned up on the doorstep right now she'd have heart failure. I know you think I'm a bit of a slob but even I have my standards. This place is a mess."
From his vantage point at the kitchen table, Bodie had to agree. He could vaguely remember the mess they had left the bedroom in. He glanced around at pile of dirty cups and plates on the draining board and work top. In the living room, the coffee table and shelves were covered with even more cups, glasses, bottles, magazines, papers and other bits and pieces. Yes, he thought, the flat was in a bit of a mesa. Then a bright thought hit Bodie square in the face. Once Doyle got into a domesticated frame of mind he knew from experience that he wouldn't stop until everything was done, and it was going to take a good few hours of hard work to get the place straight.
"Okay. I'll do the bedroom and launderette."
Once lunch was out of the way, Bodie happily set off for the bedroom which he hurriedly tidied before shooting off to the launderette. On his return a few hours later with a bag of clean, dry washing, he found Doyle collapsed across the settee.
"What took you so long? The launderette's only down the road. Where did you go, for heaven's sake -- Lands End?"
"Look at the weather, petal. It's raining. Launderettes are crowded places on rainy days."
"Why didn't you just leave it and say that you'd collect it on Monday?"
Bodie affected a surprised expression. "I never thought of that." He looked around the immaculately tidy flat. "Finished it all then. I hardly recognise the place."
"Yes, it's safe to come home now. All the hard graft's been done. I just put the kettle on. Go and make us a cup of coffee. I'm knackered."
Having accomplished the first part of his plan, Bodie was only too happy to make a cup of coffee for his exhausted lover.
"One cup of coffee coming up. Why don't you go and lie down on the bed if you're that tired?"
It sounded like a sensible idea and so Doyle heaved his weary self from the settee and went into the bedroom. Bodie followed soon after with two mugs of coffee which they drank in companionable silence.
"Why don't you have forty winks. I'll wake you up in a little while if you want," Bodie offered.
Doyle knew that his partner was planning something, but he wasn't sure what. "Are you going to join me?" he asked suspiciously.
"No, there's something I want to watch on the telly. I'll wake you in about an hour, okay?"
Doyle just nodded, feeling guilty that he had misjudged Bodie, but he had been so sure that he was going to try and use sex to get him to change his mind about the party. Vaguely disappointed, he settled down to sleep.
As Bodie left the bedroom he smiled to himself. He was aware that Ray had been expecting him to try something on which was precisely why he hadn't knowing full well that his partner would be much more receptive if he was caught unaware. He cheerfully trotted off to the living room to watch Saturday Grandstand and to plan the best way of waking up his sleeping beauty.
The bedroom was in darkness when he opened his eyes. He felt as if he had been sleeping for hours. His body felt sluggish and heavy. He was about to roll over and go back to sleep when he remembered the party and continued the roll over the bed to consult the clock. Half past eight.
"Sod you, Bodie, you should have woken me up hours ago." He estimated he had been asleep for about three hours, not that he felt particularly refreshed. Climbing out of the tumbled bed he felt as if he hadn't slept for a week. As he stood upright and stretched the sleep from his joints his head began a powerful and painful throbbing. He turned on the bedside light and immediately wished he hadn't. The sudden brightness caused his eyes to water and his headache throbbed with a vengeance.
The bed looked very inviting. He already felt as if he had been to a terrific party and was suffering from a hangover. He had to go, even if he didn't stay very long, he had to go. If only to prove to Bodie that no-one rules Ray Doyle. Thinking of Bodie made him wonder where his absent friend had got to, and he wandered through to the living room. Apart from the light given off by the television, the room was in darkness. There was Bodie, stretched out on the settee, fast asleep, a pile of plates and cups beside him showed that he hadn't died of starvation while his partner got his beauty sleep.
Leaving him to sleep on, Doyle returned to the bedroom and began to get ready for the party. A shower, shave, cup of black coffee and a couple of painkillers helped him to feel at least half way human again.
It was time to go and still Bodie hadn't woken up. Doyle knelt down by the couch and gently touched Bodie's face, thinking how vulnerable he always looked in his sleep, all the hard image just melted away. Doyle ran a finger across the warm forehead and softly ruffled the cropped hair. Bodie twisted his face into the open hand caressing his cheek and made a sleepy sound of contentment. Leaning forward, Doyle began a slow but thorough kiss on the full mouth which automatically parted to allow his tongue entrance. When the sleepy response became stronger he knew he had achieved his aim; Bodie was awake.
They broke apart and Bodie gave his own sleepy stretch, almost popping his shirt buttons in the process.
Looking round the room, Bodie took in the lack of light.
"What time is it?"
Doyle deposited a soft kiss on the tip of Bodie's nose before answering.
"It's just after nine. I wanted to wake you before I left -- just in case you thought I'd gone sleepwalking."
Bodie struggled to sit upright as Doyle got to his feet and began to walk towards the door.
"Nine o'clock, shit! I meant to come and wake you up hours ago. I'm sorry."
"Don't worry about it. I woke up myself about three quarters of an hour ago. Look, I must be going. I don't expect I'll be back too late. See you later, okay."
Bodie just sat there. No it was not okay, but he wasn't going to say anything out loud.
As he reached the door, Doyle stopped and looked back at the desolate looking figure on the settee. He knew Bodie didn't want him to go and, if he was honest with himself, he wasn't too keen on the idea. His headache was still making itself felt.
Bodie watched him making for the door, trying to resist the impulse to reach out and pull him back. He knew that Ray was aware that he didn't want him to go, but that awareness wasn't stopping him from going anyway. He was determined not to make a complete fool of himself by asking him to stay at this stage. Feigning an indifference he really didn't feel, he leant over to turn the volume of the television up and spoke sharply to Doyle who was still hovering in the doorway.
"Hurry up and shut that door. There's a freezing draught coming in here." Without looking at Doyle, he settled back on the settee and stared intently at the small screen.
At the precise moment that Bodie had spoken, Doyle was about to announce that he'd changed his mind, that he didn't feel like going after all, but the sulky indifference Bodie was projecting tipped the balance right back the other way.
If he didn't go now Doyle knew that Bodie would smugly assume that he had manipulated him into doing exactly what he had wanted all along. He still didn't feel like going to Chris's party or any party tonight but Doyle thought that he was damned if he was going to let Bodie think he'd won this one.
Without another word he slammed the door shut and left the flat.
Once the late night film finished, Bodie got up and turned the television off. He looked at the clock. 1:15 am. Doyle should be home soon, he thought to himself. He tided up the living room and took his empty supper plate and cup into the kitchen. He filled the coffee jug and put it on to heat. He was sure that Ray would want a cup of coffee before they went to bed.
He made all the last little jobs take up time, not rushing any of them. Diligently he cleared all the kitchen worktops, putting the coffee jar and supper things away. He emptied the pedal bin and replaced a new liner and finally laid a small tray with two mugs for the coffee. The coffee had finished percolating and was nice and hot, just waiting to be poured out once Doyle came back. Once everything in the kitchen was done, Bodie went through to the living room, unplugged the television and switched on the stereo. The sounds of "Tubular Bells" filled the flat. A quick glance through the curtains showed the street to be empty.
Bodie went into the bedroom and began to undress. Might as well get ready for bed, he thought. After a leisurely shower he padded back to the living room in his bathrobe. The clock showed it was just after two o'clock. He peered through the curtains again, but still there was no sign of Doyle.
Trying to damp down his rising irritation he went back to the kitchen and poured himself a cup of coffee. In the living room, the LP had finished and he put it on again. Lounging across the settee he took one of the magazines from under the coffee table and tried to lose himself in it. He steeled himself against looking at the clock again.
By three o'clock the coffee pot was empty and "Tubular Bells" had long since finished for the third time. Bodie switched the stereo off and went into the bedroom where he threw himself onto the bed, then rolled over and buried his face in his folded arms. Where the hell are you, Ray? When Doyle had left the flat earlier in the evening, Bodie had promised himself that he wouldn't ask any questions. He would trust Ray to tell him what -- if anything, happened. He really hadn't meant to wait up for him, but then he hadn't thought that he would be this late home either. Maybe meeting Chris again had opened up a lot of new feelings. Maybe they were spending the night exploring those feelings. A fleeting vision of Doyle, locked in an embrace with the unknown Hetherington flashed before Bodie's eyes. No. He's mine, his mind screamed. But as he lay on the bed waiting for his partner's return, his imagination kept supplying vivid, lurid images of what could be happening. He must have dozed off eventually because when he jolted awake from another nightmare about Doyle and his old lover, daylight was just beginning to streak across the sky. The slam of a car door brought him off the bed and over to the window. It was a black taxi. Why hadn't Doyle come home in his own car? And more importantly, why wasn't he wearing the clothes he had left the house in? Bodie continued to watch from the window as Doyle paid the driver and then walked slowly and unsteadily towards the front door. He saw Doyle look up at the bedroom window and then down at his wristwatch. Bodie checked the time as well. 6:15 am. After a few minutes he heard the front door open and close, softly, then some shuffling in the hall. It was another few minutes before the bedroom door began to open and Doyle's head peered round it into the bedroom to be confronted by Bodie standing there, waiting for him.
Doyle smiled sheepishly and then opened the door properly and came into the room. It would have been quite a sedate entrance in only he hadn't tripped over the trailing laces on his shoes. He fell flat on his face and lay there for a moment before rolling onto his back to look up at Bodie. He smiled again.
He didn't seem to mind that Bodie chose not to return the greeting and rolled back onto his front and got up on all fours, crawling to the end of the bed before using it as a prop to stand upright.
"What happened to your car and your clothes?" Bodie asked quietly, hoping and praying for a reasonable explanation. Doyle looked down at the clothes in surprise as if he had never seen them before.
"Well," his speech was thick and his words slurred, "I've 'ad quite a bit to drink, an' I couldn't find me keys 'cos they were in my trousers an' I couldn't fin' them either."
Doyle was totally unconcerned at his apparent loss. In fact he seemed to find the whole thing amusing and began to giggle.
Bodie looked at him in mixed horror and disgust. It seemed that he had been right to be worried about this Hetherington. It was a poor choice of words on Doyle's part that finally lit the ignition paper to Bodie's temper.
"Oh God, I'm absolutely fucked, I'm goin' t'bed." He sat down heavily on the end of the bed and began to struggle out of his clothes. As he pulled off the sweatshirt, the pale light clearly showed up the scratches raking down his back. The evidence in front of him confirmed Bodie's worst fears and he crossed the bedroom in two strides to Doyle who was struggling to get his uncoordinated limbs from his jeans. The blow knocked Doyle sideways to fall in a heap on the floor in a tangle of legs and material. Bodie grabbed him by the back of his neck and jerked him to his feet. Doyle was so drunk that even now he was still unaware of the danger he was in.
"Wasser matter, Bodie, whatcher 'it me for? S'not nice to 'it yer frens."
"Friends are we? Just good friends, like Hetherington. He's a good friend, too, isn't he."
"Yeah," agreed Doyle, "Chris is a good friend. Always bin a good friend, 'as Chris. Shud 'ave come 'night, Bodie. Was a good party. I've 'ad a great time." Doyle tried to disengage himself from the tight grip and turned bleary, tired eyes towards his partner. "Missed you though, you should 'ave come."
"My not being there didn't seem to spoil your enjoyment too much."
"No." Unwisely, Doyle agreed with him. "Was a great party, 'ad smashing time." Doyle leant his weight against Bodie and slid his arms around his waist. "I'm so tired. C'mon, let's go to bed."
Bodie grabbed Doyle's chin and squeezing it brutally pulled him tight against his body.
"What happened," Bodie's rage finally spilled out. "What happened. Didn't you have enough stamina to satisfy your wonderful Christopher! Did he kick you out of bed because you were too tired for him! Maybe you're too old for him now, perhaps he only likes young meat." The desire to hit out and hurt was so strong. Surprise and denial flashed through the wide green eyes.
"Bodie, no, Chris isn't -- "
"Isn't what, Ray? Did you really think that you could just creep back in here and I'd never know what you've been up to, is that it ?"
"You're mine, Doyle, mine!" Bodie's mouth clamped down onto Doyle's blocking out explanations or excuses. He pulled Doyle onto the bed and ripped away the rest of his clothes, pinning the struggling body to the mattress with ease. Hard bruising hands roamed over the smaller body, bruising and pinching, leaving vivid marks on the pale flesh, proof, visible proof, that Bodie had laid his claim.
Doyle couldn't believe it was happening, his drink numbed brain was preventing him from fighting Bodie off, his arms and legs wouldn't work properly, he tried to talk, to explain everything, nothing had happened, nothing. He could feel Bodie's painful touches, his mouth was released from a demanding loveless kiss and he tried again to explain, but he was pushed over onto his stomach and his face was buried in the pillow. He couldn't breathe, his mouth and nose were covered by the soft fullness and he twisted and struggled for air. His heart was pounding away, and a loud rushing sound filled his ears. Bodie lifted off him slightly and he moved his head and took in a gulp of air. Hard fingers began to probe uncaring into his body and Doyle realised what was going to happen. No. It shouldn't be like this, not like this. He struggled even harder to get away.
"Bodie, no, no."
A hard hand on his shoulders pushed him back down into the pillow. The fingers withdrew sharply and Bodie's weight shifted again. Doyle renewed his struggles as he felt strong fingers part his cheeks. Bodie held the struggling body tightly against the mattress, the vivid scratches down the struggling body only causing his fury to grow and grow. Doyle was his! He positioned himself at the tight entrance to Doyle's body and pushed. Doyle moaned and tried to squirm away. Bodie saw the movement as yet another rejection. He held the hips tighter and pushed again. He could hear someone screaming for him to stop but he ignored the cries. Doyle was so tight and dry that Bodie found penetration difficult to achieve, but at last he sank all the way in. He rested his full weight on Doyle's back. He could feel the shudders that rocked the lean body but again he ignored them. The demands of his own body and anger were stronger. He drew back slightly and began to thrust hard into the unyielding warmth beneath him. Doyle was still tight but he persevered and was soon thrusting powerfully.
When Bodie's full weight pounded down, onto and into him, Doyle wanted to scream but again his face was buried into the pillow. He could only catch a quick breath each time the weight lifted off him. He had been unprepared, and each thrust of the hard steel was agonising. He could feel a wet warmth between his legs and guessed that he was bleeding. Fear caused him to stop struggling in case Bodie caused him serious injury. He tried to relax as the agonising thrusts were getting harder and faster. He felt as if he could feel Bodie deep inside him, so deep that he was almost touching the back of his throat. He dismissed the thought as ridiculous. From a distance he heard Bodie give an animal-like cry of triumph, hard hands violently jerked his hips up as Bodie gave a final forceful thrust and came.
Doyle felt most peculiar. He could feel Bodie coming inside him. It felt as if it was scorching a path right through him. The earlier thought of Bodie's cock reaching the back of his throat came back to him. Christ, what had Bodie done! His own body echoed the spasms that were rocking Bodie, but it all seemed so far away, so very far away...
Bodie collapsed onto Doyle's back, still unsatisfied. The climax had been ugly and painful, there had been no love, no sharing, nothing -- except pain, hurt and lust. As his heart slowed down and a measure of sanity returned he realised that Doyle was still lying motionless beneath him. He quickly sat up, horrified at what he had done and turned the still body over.
Doyle was unconscious and had been sick. It was plastered over his face, covering his mouth and nose. Bodie grabbed the first thing that came to hand and wiped Doyle's face, clearing his air passages. He was still breathing, but shallow, raged breaths and his skin was cold and clammy to the touch.
Bodie went into the bathroom to get a face flannel and a towel, acting instinctively. As he reached for a towel he looked at himself, in shocked disbelief he saw that his now softened penis was smeared with blood. Doyle's blood. Christ, what have I done! He ran back into the bedroom, Doyle still hadn't moved. Carefully, Bodie parted his legs to see what damage he had done. There was a lot of blood, but thankfully it seemed to be drying, at least he wasn't still bleeding.
As he cleared away the messed sheets and cleaned Doyle up, Bodie kept remembering the screams he had ignored. Doyle had been begging him to stop, but he hadn't, he'd been so full of his own hurt and anger that he'd ignored the cries completely. The bed was remade before Doyle began to come round. The eyes flickered open, but as they focused, Bodie felt something deep inside him shrivel and die. Only barely conscious, Doyle struggled to get away.
"Sshh. Lie still, everything's all right, Ray, just lie still." Bodie's voice was trembling and hesitant, and Doyle flinched away from his touch.
Doyle's eyes closed again, either he was asleep or unconscious, Bodie didn't know, but his breathing seemed easier and some colour had come back into the lips and cheeks, the awful blue grey had faded. After waiting another few moments, Bodie gently turned Doyle over to examine him again. Doyle didn't move at all as he probed the reddened, raw looking pucker of flesh with a gentle cream-covered finger. It was with relief he found no more blood, but he could feel a small cut or tear just inside the hot channel. After applying some antiseptic cream, Bodie rolled Doyle onto his back again and covered him with the quilt, cursing and hating himself as he saw the darkening bruises that he had inflicted.
He lay down on the bed on top of the quilt, not trusting himself to get under the covers and cuddle up to Doyle. For what seemed like hours he lay there in the growing daylight watching Doyle, eventually, though, he slept.
Doyle awoke to a painful ache that seemed to cover his whole body. Wow, that was some party, he thought. His back was itching. That sodding cat, if I ever get my hands on it I'll wring its bloody neck. The party had been good, and it had been great seeing Chris and all their old friends again. He was sorry that Bodie had refused to go but he'd still had a good time, talking and laughing over old times, and the time had just flown by, the party spirit and alcohol helping to ease his tiredness and banishing his headache. It had been gone two o'clock before he had realised it, and it was when he went into the kitchen to reclaim his jacket that the bloody cat had launched herself at him. His jacket had slipped to the floor and he was just straightening up when 10 lbs. of flying moggy landed on his shoulders. Not surprisingly, Doyle yelled and tried to dislodge the animal. Charlotte, better known to her friends as Charlie, responded the only way she knew how. She dug her claws in! This caused Doyle to renew his efforts to get rid of her, but she was a determined little animal and slid the length of Doyle's back, tearing his shirt and skin in the process. The struggle ended with Doyle sitting in a bloodied heap on the floor in a soggy mess of jelly and blancmange that had been knocked from the table in the struggle.
He had been rescued from Charlie's attentions by Trevor Michaels who had hauled the sorry looking Doyle to his feet and taken him to one of the bedrooms, away from the noise of the party, and bathed his wounds. He must have fallen asleep there on the bed while Trevor was expertly bathing the scratches with a mild disinfectant, for the next thing he knew it was nearly four o'clock. His own clothes had vanished, but there on a chair was a pair of jeans and a sweatshirt, Chris's probably. Going downstairs he'd found the party still going strong and Chris had cornered him with another drink. He hadn't liked to refuse. It was some time later that he decided to make tracks for home. He vaguely remembered giving up the hunt for his clothes, no one was sober enough to help him, and called a taxi.
He rolled over and opened his eyes. What the hell was Bodie doing lying on top of the covers. Suddenly the memory flooded back. Bodie had raped him! That was why everything hurt so much. Bodie stirred slightly, and Doyle decided that he didn't want to be there when he woke up. Panicked, he twisted his legs over the edge of the bed. He felt very stiff and sore. He caught his breath as a sharp pain shot through him as he sat up. Once the pain had dulled to an ache he got to his feet and quietly grabbed some clean clothes before shutting himself in the bathroom and locking the door.
He surveyed the damage in the bathroom mirror. Christ, but he was a mess. His face had been bruised by the hard fingers, his mouth still tender and slightly swollen from the crushing kisses. He twisted to see his back. Charlie's marks were still vivid down his back, but his hips showed clear imprints where Bodie's hands had held him down. His throat felt sore, and when he saw the pile of soiled sheets in the bath he remembered being sick. I hope it went all over him. He spent a long time in the shower, the hangover was bad enough without Bodie and Charlie's help. He felt terrible. His stomach suddenly turned over and a cold sweat broke out down his back. He only just made it to the toilet in time. In the bedroom, Bodie heard the sounds of Doyle heaving his heart up. He wanted to go and help but was sure that his help was not needed or wanted. He didn't want to be in the bedroom when Doyle finally came out of the bathroom so he hurriedly dressed and went into the kitchen. Maybe once they were both dressed and away from the bedroom they could talk.
He sat in the kitchen for half an hour before Doyle joined him. Bodie was unprepared for the state Doyle appeared in. His face was deathly white and the dark rings around his eyes were make even more prominent by the vivid black and blue bruises around his face. Without speaking, Doyle slowly lowered himself into a chair and ran a hand over his eyes. Bodie poured a cup of black coffee and passed it over, noticing that as Doyle reached out to take it, his partner's hands were shaking and that his pale face was covered with a fine sheen of perspiration.
"Ray, I'm sorry. I never meant to hurt you. I just didn't know what I was doing. I was so angry. I'm sorry."
"I got the feeling that you knew exactly what you were doing, so don't try that one, Bodie," Doyle whispered, staring down into his coffee cup. "If there's anyone who didn't know what was going on last night, it was me! What happened to you, Bodie. Okay, so I was back later than I'd expected to be, for that I do apologise, though I don't really know why I should. But I hardly think that being late home merits being raped as a punishment, do you?" Bodie flinched as if Doyle had hit him. Noticing Bodie's reaction, Doyle pounced.
"It's an ugly word isn't it. Rape," he spat out.
"Ray, I'm sorry."
"It's a bit late to be sorry now. You can't undo it all, can you. What can I expect next time I do something you don't like -- an action replay?" Doyle's own pain and ruined dreams were channelling themselves into anger. "Well it's not going to happen again because you're not going to get the chance. I'm going to get my car from Chris's house. Just make sure you're gone by the time I get back."
Without giving Bodie a chance to speak, he got up and stormed out of the flat. Bodie walked to the living room window. He was just in time to see Doyle being sick over the flower bed. Even allowing for the drink he must have had, Bodie had never known Doyle to be so sick before. Maybe he had hurt him more seriously than he thought. He continued to watch as Doyle straightened up and then began to move off towards the main road. He was just about to turn away from the window when he saw Doyle slowly fold over and collapse to the pavement. For a split second Bodie stood rooted to the spot, watching the still, crumpled figure on the ground.
He ran for the door, blood draining from his face, fear choking him. What had he done? By the time he reached the pavement, Doyle was just beginning to come round. Bodie crouched down beside him and supported the wiry frame as it was racked by another bout of dry retching heaves. The white face was running with perspiration and Doyle didn't seem to be too sure of where he was or who was holding him. Bodie helped him to stand, holding him on unsteady legs. Through Doyle's clothes, Bodie could feel that his friend was running a fierce temperature. Waving off offers of help from passers-by, Bodie maneouvered Doyle back indoors and into the bedroom, where he laid him down on the bed. He started to remove the sweat soaked clothes, Doyle moaned as if in pain.
"Ray, can you hear me?"
Bleary, dull green eyes opened slightly.
"Piss off, Bodie, leave me alone. Didn't you get enough last night?" He tried to push Bodie away.
"Ray, please. Where does it hurt?"
"Every fucking where. Why do you suddenly care so much for my comfort? Everything hurts: my head, my back, everything. Now sod off."
"I'm going to call a doctor. Just lie there quietly, Ray."
Doyle struggled to get up from the bed, grasping Bodie's sleeve and holding on. "No! What are you going to say to a doctor. My mate's not very well, doc. I raped him last night and he's a bit off colour this morning. No, Bodie."
Another bout of empty retching stopped his protests. Bodie waited until the heaving stopped and the exhausted man fell back onto the pillows.
Another sound, distant but familiar, came to Bodie's ears. Someone was at the front door. He looked down. Ray was lying still with his eyes closed. He looked all right for the moment. Bodie hurried down to the door.
Pulling the door open sharply he was confronted by a tall, middle-aged man holding up a bundle or car keys. On seeing Bodie, the smile on the man's face faded and he looked a little embarrassed.
"Oh, I'm sorry. I must have the wrong address. I was looking for Ray Doyle."
"He does live here, but he can't come to the door right now. What do you want ?" snapped Bodie.
"His car keys." The man held up the bunch of keys again, and Bodie took them. "He left them at Chris's last night. As I was passing through here to get to the hospital I thought I'd drop his car off for him on the way."
"Yes." The man introduced himself. "I'm Dr Michaels. I work at the Middlesex. Well, I expect Ray's suffering from a hangover, isn't he. I didn't manage to get there until two o'clock this morning , and everyone was well oiled by then. You'll give the keys to him. I hope he won't mind me borrowing the car this morning."
"You're a doctor. You know Ray ?"
Michaels was rather puzzled by the insistent questions.
"Yes, I'm a doctor. I've known Ray on and off for about ten years now. Why?"
"Could you come in? Ray's been pretty sick this morning and he's got a raging temperature. I'm sure it's more than a hangover. I was just about to call a doctor when you knocked on the door, but Ray doesn't really want me to."
"Yes, of course. I don't have anything with me but I'll take a look at him."
Bodie ushered the doctor through to the bedroom. After taking one look at the pale sweating figure apparently asleep, he turned to Bodie.
"Do you have a thermometer in the house?"
"Uh. Yes, I think so. It's probably in the bathroom cabinet."
As Bodie went to hunt for the requested thermometer, Michaels moved to the edge of the bed gently turning Doyle's face towards him, probing at his cheeks and throat. Doyle's eyes blinked in dulled surprise as he recognized who was touching him.
"How did you get here?" he asked thickly.
"Never mind me. Tell me, where do you hurt?"
"Could you try to be more specific?" he asked patiently.
"Head, back, legs and stomach."
"You've been sick?"
"Couple of times."
"Eaten anything you shouldn't have or tasted funny during the past couple of days?"
"No, I don't think so."
"When did you first feel ill?"
"Not sure. I've felt pretty tired just lately, bit of a headache yesterday afternoon. Then this morning, I just thought it was a bad hangover."
While asking the questions, Dr. Michaels had pulled the covers down. He would have to have been blind not to have seen the bruises. As Bodie came back onto the room, Doyle snatched the sheet back out of his hand to cover himself.
"I thought I'd told you to piss off," he said bitterly.
Calmly, Michaels took the offered thermometer and asked Bodie to wait in another room. When he'd gone he turned back to Doyle.
"When you left the party last night you didn't have any bruises on your face. The ones on your hips look new too. What happened?"
A slight flush came to the otherwise pale face and Doyle fidgeted and tried to turn away.
"Come on Ray. You know me. I'm not asking just to be nosy. What happened? The way you behaved towards your friend just now makes me think he's the cause."
Doyle was still silent, and-Michaels persevered.
"He didn't come to the party last night, did he? But you're obviously living together. What happened? Some kind of a fight?"
"Yeah, some kind of a fight. I lost," said Doyle bitterly.
"You lost. What did he do?"
"Look, I don't want to talk about it. I was so drunk it was over before I knew what hit me. It was painful but I don't think he did much damage. I was already feeling a bit rough before I got home anyway."
The doctor pulled the sheet back down and looked at the position of the bruises on the hips.
"He raped you," he said softly.
Doyle was surprised to hear himself spring to Bodie's defence.
"He's not usually so heavy handed. He was worried. He knows about me and Chris and when I didn't come home until this morning I think he just -- "
"He still forced you," the doctor interrupted. "Turn over. Come on, Ray. I'll just check you're okay. Did you bleed?" he asked as Doyle reluctantly turned over.
"I think so; I'm not sure. I think I passed out after I threw up over everything." He flinched and drew a sharp breath as Michaels touched him firmly but gently.
"All right, turn back. You'll be sore for a while but you'll live."
The doctor disappeared into the bathroom, reappearing a few minutes later drying his hands on a towel.
"Open your mouth," he ordered and popped the thermometer in. "You said you've been feeling tired the past few days."
"Sometimes takes a few days before it really hits you. Had you noticed the rash on your legs?"
Doyle shook his head, then winced as his head throbbed in protest.
"I'll get in touch with your own doctor and tell him how you are."
"How am I?" Doyle mumbled around the thermometer.
"Not very well. I suspect you've got a touch of meningitis. Your own doctor will probably take a blood sample to make sure and then give you some antibiotics. If it's any consolation you're going to feel terrible for a few days but don't worry, it's not fatal, not nowadays anyway." He finished with a smile and extracted the thermometer. After examining it, he said, "Always knew you were hot blooded, Doyle."
"How did you get here anyway?"
"Chris gave me your car keys and asked me to drop it off. He had a feeling that you weren't going to be feeling to good this morning. You really had a skinful last night, didn't you. I don't think I've ever seen you so drunk. Anyway, I had to come up this way to get to work and your car saved me suffering from an attack of British Rail."
"Saved me a journey, thanks."
"Not that you are going to be using your car for a week or two anyway. Now, I really have to get on to work. Your friend will have your doctor's phone number, won't he?"
"Okay, settle down then and try and get some sleep. I'll go and call your doctor now."
Bodie leapt to his feet as the silver haired man walked into the living room.
"How is he? What's wrong with him?"
"Ray'll be all right in a week or so. Bodie, isn't it? He looked across at the anxious looking young man. Bodie nodded. "I'll have to call his own doctor, of course, but I'm sure he'll agree with me. Ray has meningitis."
"Meningitis. So it wasn't anything I -- " He broke off before he finished and found the doctor looking at him with hard, ice cold eyes.
"No, it was nothing you did to him, though I don't suppose it has helped to make him feel any better. You really ought to be more careful, Mr Bodie. Your thoughtlessness could have caused Ray serious injury."
Bodie flushed at the condemnation evident in the older man's voice.
"I didn't mean to hurt him. I was just so... I really didn't mean to hurt him."
Bodie's voice trailed away in embarrassment. It sounded so pathetic. Of course he had meant to hurt him. He was hurting and he'd wanted to hit out, to hurt someone. If Hetherington had been within reach he would have killed him -- but he hadn't and Doyle had. He couldn't kill Doyle. He loved him. So instead he'd just hurt him. He stood before Ray's friend with his eyes fixed to the floor, not wanting to see the disgust in the other man's face.
Dr Michaels looked properly at the man before him, recalling how quickly Ray had sprung to his defence. He knew that Ray would never have chosen to live with a pain freak, and Bodie's regret, though a little late, was genuine.
"Sit down, man. You look as bad as he does. Look, I've known Ray for about ten years now and I know that he can be the most exasperating bugger on God's earth at times, but I also know that he neither asks for or deserves the kind of treatment you dished out last night. Let me finish." He held up a hand to stop Bodie interrupting. "Now, why you fought is none of my business, but you'd better not make a habit of it because Ray won't hang around for long if you do. He is the type of man who once he's make a commitment sticks by it, but if he thinks he's made a mistake, he'll back away so fast you'll lose him for good. Is that what you want?"
Dumbly Bodie shook his head.
"Now Ray is going to need a fair bit of looking after for the next few weeks. Can you do it?"
"If he'll let me and providing I can get the time work."
"He'll let you. Just don't push too hard. Take things slowly. Don't rush him and everything will work out fine. Right now, Ray's doctor's phone number and then I really must be going. I should have been at work over an hour ago."
The CI5 doctor was called and Michaels departed in a cab. Upstairs, Doyle was sleeping peacefully. Once the CI5 doctor had confirmed Michaels' diagnosis, he reiterated that Doyle shouldn't be left. He wasn't so ill he had to be hospitalised, but he would still need someone to look after him. Cowley very begrudgingly gave Bodie some time off but warned him that if anything came up he would have to be called in.
Bodie carried the tray carefully into the bedroom. Doyle was curled up on his side with his eyes closed, but Bodie knew he wasn't asleep.
"I've got some soup for you. The doctor said you should try to eat something. Come on, sit up."
Doyle remained still.
"I thought I told you to go. Why are you still here?"
Bodie tried to ignore the cold flatness of Doyle's voice. "The doctor said you needed looking after and Cowley told me to do what the doctor said, so here I am. Now sit up."
"I'm not hungry."
"At least try."
"Put it down, I'll try it in a minute."
"Look -- "
"Put it down and get out."
Bodie decided not to push it and so put the tray on the bedside table and left the room, pulling the door to behind him. He waited outside the door for a few minutes until he heard Doyle shifting around on the bed followed by the chink of the soup spoon. Satisfied, Bodie went on into the living room.
The next week fell into a similar pattern. Bodie prepared light meals and drinks and straightened and freshened the bed at regular intervals. Doyle never once asked him for anything, not even a glass of water, and spent most of the time either sleeping, reading, or watching the portable television. He never left the bedroom except to visit the bathroom and refused to enter into any sort of conversation with Bodie, virtually ignoring him.
For Bodie, it was the worst week of his life. He was still hurt and angry by what he still believed to have been Doyle's betrayal, but he was riddled with guilt over the way he had treated him. He had slept each night on the living room couch, alone and wanting so desperately to go to the bedroom and cuddle up to his partner, but he didn't dare. At least the worst of the illness seemed to be over. Doyle's temperature was almost back to normal and he actually managed to stay awake for most of the afternoon. From the living room, Bodie could hear the restless movements as Doyle fiddled around, trying to get comfortable. Bodie heard the television come on and the charnels switched over and over, then turned of. For a while the radio could be heard but then that was turned off as well. Bodie listened as Doyle padded around the bedroom, then heard the bathroom door click shut and the sound of a bath running. The bath puzzled Bodie as Doyle normally preferred to use the shower.
After about twenty minutes Doyle could be heard moving around the bedroom again and Bodie went to make a cup of coffee for them both. Leaving his own cup in the living room, he took Doyle's through to the bedroom.
Doyle was sitting on the edge of the bed towelling his hair dry. He still looked very pale but at least the bruises had faded from his face. Seeing how awkwardly his partner was sitting made Bodie recall what the doctor had said earlier that morning when he had come to check on his patient's progress.
"Do you feel uncomfortable?"
Doyle just slumped his shoulders and held his head in his hands.
"Yes, everything feels stiff and sore and I feel as if every bone in my body is aching."
Bodie was surprised to hear how tired and depressed Doyle sounded.
"If you lie down on the bed I'll massage you with the liniment the doctor left behind."
Bodie interpreted the look he received as Doyle trying to decide whether or not to trust him -that close. In fact Doyle was actually thinking the reverse. He knew that he'd been treating Bodie badly and felt very guilty about it. All he'd wanted the past few days had been to cuddle up to that firm comforting warmth, but he still couldn't forgive him for what he'd done. So far the party hadn't been mentioned again and never would be if he could help it. Doyle just wished that he had never gone and that the whole sorry business had never happened -- but it had and now he knew that Bodie didn't trust him. Well, he could live with that. He knew he wasn't likely to give Bodie cause for concern. Maybe in time he would learn to trust, but for now...
"Okay, it's my back and legs that really ache most. I'm so stiff I can hardly move."
Doyle stretched out on the bed and helped Bodie to ease the bathrobe off his shoulders. The liniment was cold and made him gasp but Bodie's hands were warm and soothing as they massaged the aches and pains away making the taut muscles relax. Slowly and silently, Bodie worked his way down the impossibly thin frame. Doyle, normally slim anyway, had lost too much weight. The massage continued down over neck, shoulders, back, buttocks and thighs and firmly down to the calves. Doyle luxuriated in the touch. It was beautiful. Bodie's hands were so sure, so firm, easing away all the aches. He knew that he should have asked Bodie to do this days ago, but his stubborn pride hadn't let him and so he had suffered needlessly. He was almost asleep when he felt the warm hands leave him and the bed shift as Bodie stood up to drape the quilt over him. Suddenly he felt very lonely. All week Bodie had only been at arm's reach away but it had felt like a million miles. He twisted to look up as Bodie was fastening the top back on the liniment bottle and wiping his hands on a towel.
"Bodie," he whispered.
The dark unhappy eyes turned to him.
"If I asked you to do something, would you?" he asked softly.
Bodie just nodded, not even daring to guess at what Doyle might want from him.
"Would you cuddle me please... This bed feels so big and empty with just me in it. Please?"
Doyle pulled back the cover for him and Bodie undressed and slipped in beside him and drew Ray into his arms. Neither of them spoke and they lay still in a comfortable silence and warm tangle of arms and legs. Doyle slipped into sleep almost immediately but Bodie remained awake for a long time, holding him close and watching him. Was this how Doyle wanted it, he wondered; were they going to pretend that it had never happened. He knew that he didn't want to lose Doyle, not now, but he doubted his ability to forget the incident. He could try and put it behind him -- but he could never forget it.
The next morning they both slept late, Bodie catching up from sleepless lonely nights on the couch and Doyle, his body still recovering from his illness, slept deeply for the first time since becoming ill.
Bodie awoke first and found himself curled around Doyle's back, knees neatly tucked behind Doyle's, holding the lean body firmly around the waist. Unconsciously sensing Bodie's transition from sleep to wakefulness Doyle pressed back into the covering embrace without waking. Bodie froze. Last night he had done what Ray had asked him: he'd cuddled him until he had slept. There had been nothing sexual about that embrace, only comfort, and Bodie had felt able to give that much. He knew that Ray had only asked for comfort because he was still unwell. After what he had done there was no way that Doyle was going to want any more for a very long time -- if ever. A few weeks ago, waking in this position and feeling the lithe body so close would have caused an instantaneous sexual response, but this morning the cold sickness in the pit of Bodie's stomach prevented anything from happening. As soon as he knew Ray had settled back into a deeper sleep, Bodie carefully slid out of the bed and swiftly showered and dressed.
Once dressed he found courage to approach the bed again. Doyle was still sleeping but even in his sleep he had found that his partner had gone and had rolled over to lie across Bodie's side of the bed, dragging the covers with him in his search for the missing warmth. Carefully, Bodie tugged the covers free and pulled them up to cover the bare shoulders. Doyle murmured something and snuggled down into the warm blankets. Bodie could see the rapid eye movement behind the closed lids. What was Doyle dreaming about, he wondered. Who was he dreaming about? Bodie quickly clamped down on the errant thought.
The brief conversation of last night had been the full extent on the verbal exchanges they had shared since Doyle had told him to pack up and leave the morning after the party. The events of that night still hadn't been talked about, but at least Doyle hadn't repeated the order to get out.
Doyle began to stir again and before Bodie could leave the bedroom, sleepy eyes fixed on him. He forced himself to give a shaky smile.
"How are you feeling this morning?"
Ray closed his eyes and rubbed a hand over them and then through the mat of tangled hair before answering.
"For the first time in ages I don't seem to have a headache. I think I feel wonderful," he said cautiously. The discovery seemed to surprise him and he laid a hand over Bodie's. "That massage last night did wonders too. I should have asked you days ago -- "
Doyle had been about to say more, but Bodie snatched his hand back as if it had been stung. Before he could ask what was wrong, through, Bodie had moved away and was walking towards the door muttering something about going to fix some breakfast.
As he plugged the kettle in and put some toast under the grill, Bodie was trying to work out for himself why he had snatched his hand back like a sixteen year old virgin. The touch had been so innocent, but, combined with the sleep softened eyes and pale elfin features, the cumulative effect had been electric. The last thing Bodie wanted at the moment was a physical response to Doyle's presence, knowing that the anger and pain Ray's betrayal had caused was only just submerged under his own guilt at actually raping him. If he touched Doyle again he knew that the anger would flare up again and he couldn't risk that, not again.
What will I do if Ray wants to see the man again? Bodie wondered. Would he be able to let him go without a fight? If it came to a fight, what would happen? Would Ray side with Hetherington and resent his partner's possessive behaviour. Somehow, Bodie couldn't picture Doyle standing quietly on the sidelines while the two rivals slugged it out between them, content to be the prize of the victor, like some medieval heroine.
"Bodie, the toast!"
Doyle's shout brought him out of his daydream to the sight of flames leaping out of the grill licking around the sides of the cooker, searching for something else to incinerate. Bodie switched into action as fireman and Doyle opened a window to help the burnt smell escape.
"Bloody hell, Bodie. I know I like my toast well done out to cremate it!"
The remains were judged to be beyond salvation and were thrown into the bin. Bodie quietly put a few more slices under the grill.
"Where were you? I could smell them burning in the bedroom," Doyle said as he sat down on one of the kitchen stools and cast a worried glance in Bodie's direction. It wasn't like Bodie to be caught daydreaming, and Doyle wondered what was wrong. But considering how he had been acting towards Bodie since the party perhaps his friend's behaviour wasn't so surprising after all. But even after trying to look at events from his friend's point of view, Doyle still felt that Bodie had over-reacted. Maybe he had given him cause to be worried by coming home so late but then he hadn't asked Bodie to wait up for him -- had he? Thinking back to that night, Doyle had to admit that if he had not already been feeling so terrible he might have enjoyed it a bit more. He had often wondered what it would be like to get Bodie really going -- Well, now he knew!
Bodie was still quietly preparing breakfast, laying the table with plates and cutlery. Doyle went back to his thoughts.
It was obvious to him that Bodie was still on a guilt trip over the attack and his own moody silences over the past week hadn't done anything to alleviate it. Daft sod, Doyle thought affectionately, he ought to know I might like a bit of rough and tumble occasionally. Not too often though. It gave Doyle a nice warm feeling inside to know that Bodie cared so much to be driven to such lengths. All I have to do now is convince him there's no hard feelings about that night and that he can trust me. Doyle knew that the first part would be easy -- the second might take a little more time. He decided that he might as well start 'Operation reassurance' right away. After all, there's no time like the present and he really was feeling much better.
"It's all ready. Come and get it."
Doyle knew that Bodie was referring to the breakfast but he decided to pretend to be obtuse. Moving swiftly across the small kitchen, he slipped his arms around Bodie's waist and drew him into an urgent and demanding kiss.
At his first touch he felt Bodie freeze in his arms and stand stiffly upright. For a moment Doyle felt as if he were kissing a wax effigy as Bodie neither responded or rejected his kiss, standing still, chin up and eyes closed, forcing Doyle to compensate for the slight difference in their heights. He persevered for a few more moments until it was perfectly obvious that Bodie was just refusing to respond, even a little.
Puzzled, he drew back to look at Bodie who remained rigid in the circle of his arms. Bodie's eyes were still shut, refusing to look at him.
"C'mon, Bodie, don't let what happened Saturday night spoil anything between us," he whispered softly, trying to relax Bodie, trying to ease the tension that was holding him rigid. "There's no need to worry about what you did, about what happened, really, Bodie. Okay, I admit it was a bit of a shock, but don't forget I was already feeling pretty awful without realizing I was ill. If it makes you feel any better we can pretend it never happened and just go on from there."
Doyle was beginning to get really worried. His words were obviously falling on deaf ears, and he had the feeling that Bodie was slipping further and further from his grasp. "Bodie, please. What happened that night wasn't important enough to ruin what we have. It just doesn't matter. Bodie. Bodie. Are you listening to me?"
It was like talking to a brick wall, but a wall with a difference. Behind this particular wall were a lot of high explosives and the short fuse was burning away. Rapidly.
Bodie really didn't know what to do. Whether to laugh, cry, or just kill Doyle. His mind was racing as Doyle's words exploded onto his ears. No need to worry about what I did. Christ, he's forgiving me for raping him but he's not even mentioned what he got up to that night. How can he be so calculating? Does he think I don't know? How on earth can he say it isn't important?
Bodie's anguish increased. Maybe Doyle didn't think it was important. He wanted to laugh at his own stupidity. Why had he fallen in love with someone who obviously only wanted him to fill an empty space in his own life? He could easily break down and cry at the pain of realising he'd only been used.
The silence stretched on and on. Then, Bodie's eyes snapped open. The expression in the dark eyes made Doyle step back a pace but the strong hands which clamped down on his shoulders prevented his retreat further. The cold eyes held him fixed to the spot and the hands moved to the base of his throat, curving around his neck with two thumbs exerting a light pressure of his adams apple. The implied threat was quite clear to Doyle who was suddenly terrified by the cold-eyed stranger who held him. He knew that a quick twist of his wrists and Bodie could kill him. It was plain that Bodie was actually considering doing just that. When Bodie finally spoke it was with a flat, toneless whisper while he stroked Doyle's adams apple with deceptive softness.
"So you don't think Saturday night is anything to get upset about, nothing important happened. Well, I'm sorry that you think it so unimportant. I can see now that this whole thing was big mistake. I hope that I filled in a few empty, lonely months for you."
The cold eyes closed and Bodie drew a deep breath. The hands around Doyle's throat were sweaty and trembling and the pressure behind the thumbs increased fractionally. Without opening his eyes, Bodie began talking again.
"What really hurts is that I really believed you cared, that you really loved me. Then all he had to do after four years was snap his fingers and you went running to him. Why didn't you tell him you had someone else? Why didn't you tell me that you still loved him? At least then I could have been prepared for this."
He let his hands slip from Doyle's throat and they hung loosely at his sides. He tried to regain his shattered controls and when he opened his eyes he saw the fear that was still evident in Doyle's face.
"I'm sorry about that night. I didn't mean to hurt you, but I just couldn't bear the thought of you and Hetherington together. I wanted to make sure you knew you were mine so that you'd know how much I love you. I can't share you, Ray, not with anyone. Next time I might hurt you too badly. I might even kill you and I can't do that because I love you and I don't want to hurt you."
Silent tears were beginning to fall down Bodie's face, and Doyle began to comprehend what Bodie had thought happened. But he hadn't been unfaithful. He hadn't slept with Chris, but how could he convince Bodie of that.
"Bodie, I didn't sleep with Chris. Why do you think I've been unfaithful? You know that you're all I want. Please, Bodie, believe me. I didn't sleep with Chris."
Bodie jerked away from the offered hand with such violence that he knocked against the table, scattering cutlery and plates onto the floor.
"Don't patronise me, Doyle," he thundered, his eyes hardening, his whole body stance daring Doyle to approach him again. "If you're going to lie about these things you ought no make sure your bed partner cooperates and doesn't leave any incriminating marks behind. So next time you see your wonderful Christopher fucking Hetherington tell him he needs a manicure!"
Bodie pushed past Doyle, desperate to get away before he broke down completely and begged him to promise never to see Hetherington again.
"A manicure?" What the hell was Bodie talking about, Doyle wondered. He followed Bodie down the hall, still trying to work it out. A manicure? Sharp nails. The scratches on his back. Was that all that Bodie was carrying on about?
"Bodie," he explained with relief, "it wasn't Chris who put the scratches on my back. It was Charlie."
Already reaching for the door Bodie stopped dead. "What kind of party was it? An orgy? All the old crowd, he said, didn't he. Christ, if your old friends are anything to go by I'm surprised you even know who scratched you. Chris or Charlie -- what happened, take turns did they?"
Not trusting himself to be near Doyle for a second longer, Bodie pulled the door open and almost ran to his car, desperate to get a safe distance away. The blood pounding in his ears and his rasping, barely controlled breathing blocked out Doyle's stunned reply.
"But Charlie's only a cat, Bodie. She's a fucking cat! Bodie!"
But Bodie reached his car and drove away without even looking back once. Doyle stood on the doorstep watching the car disappear up the street. How long he stood there, staring blankly in the direction Bodie had gone he didn't know, but gradually the cold air penetrated through his bathrobe and he retreated into the empty flat.
Going through to the kitchen he saw proof that it hadn't all been a bad dream. The lingering smell of burnt toast hung in the air. The table had been knocked sideways, scattering knives and spoons to the floor, and the milk bottle had tipped onto its side depositing at least half of its contents across the table and floor.
Bodie parked his car outside his own flat, wondering briefly how he had got there. He remembered nothing of the drive from Doyle's place, his mind being too muddled to think coherently about anything.
Leaving his car, he walked up to his own front door and let himself in. The house smelt empty and unlived in. There was a pile of circulars and a few letters on the mat. In the past few months he had only stopped by his flat for a few minutes each week to collect his mail. Picking up the letters and papers he walked through to the living room and placed them on the coffee table. He would read them later.
The room felt dead. There was no welcoming atmosphere of 'home'. It felt more like the house of a stranger. Trying to dispel the empty gloom he selected a tape and inserted it in the stereo system. The muted tones of Joan Armatrading filled the air and he quickly switched it off. It was one of Ray's tapes and evoked memories that at this moment he would rather forget.
Wandering through to the kitchen he felt at a loss over what to do. He hadn't showered or shaved this morning and there was no hot water in the flat. He'd turned the heater off weeks ago. Likewise there was no food and he hadn't had any breakfast either. Bodie was hungry, unconformable and downright miserable.
"Sod you, Ray Doyle!" he shouted to absolutely no one.
In silence he filled the kettle and put it on to boil, and then took the hot water through to the bathroom to wash and shave. His usual shaving gear was, of course, still sitting on the shelf in Doyle's bathroom, but a rummage through his own bathroom cabinet produced a small end bit of a shaving stick and a razor that wasn't quite blunt.
The oppressive quiet hung on his nerves. He had grown used to hearing Doyle's singing or whistling around the house. Now, unless he made a noise, the house remained silent.
After freshening up, Bodie left the flat and set off in search of a cafe open for breakfast. The cafe was full, mainly with women from the council depot around the corner and their lively conversation filled the cramped seating area. Bodie found an empty table and slid into the seat, the mingling smells of fried bacon, sausages, tea, and coffee filling his nostrils and making him realise how hungry he was. When his ordered breakfast arrived, though, his appetite deserted him. He chewed on the bacon, struggling to get it down past the lump in his throat and refusing to think about the events of the past week. The happy swell of conversation flowed unheeded over his head, emphasising his aloneness. Bodie pushed the half eaten breakfast away and sat with his head supported by his hands, elbows propped up on the formica topped table, too choked up inside to force down another mouthful. Why did he feel so dead inside, he asked himself. He had lived through enough broken romances to know that he had never felt this bad before. In under four months he'd been lifted to heights never before experienced, only to be dropped with a tremendous crash from those same heights.
"You all right, mate?"
A concerned voice and a gentle hand on his shoulder made Bodie look up, and he realised that he must have been sitting, head bowed and eyes closed, for quite some time.
"Yeah, fine. Rough night, that's all."
Reassured that his customer hadn't died after all, the proprietor returned to the counter carrying the remains of Bodie's breakfast.
Leaving the cafe Bodie wandered aimlessly back to his car, wondering where he should go next. He really didn't feel up to collecting his stuff from Doyle's flat and he was equally loathe to return to his own place. He was still debating when his R/T beeped for attention.
"Alpha to 3.7. Where the hell have you been? Get yourself to Heathrow Airport, Terminal 1. Armed terrorists with hostages. Backup is on the way. I'll meet you there. Alpha out."
The engine roared into life and as he changed the gears on the car, Bodie shifted gears in his mind as well, pushing his personal life into the background as he switched into the frame of mind needed for dealing with this sort of situation. Driving furiously towards the airport, Bodie switched on the radio. Cowley would inform him of everything he needed to know when he arrived but a terrorist situation at Heathrow was big news and the media were bound to have already picked up on it.
"...twelve hostages. The gunmen are thought to have been trying to board a British Airways flight to Munich, West Germany, when confronted by airport security. Two security guards were shot dead and another has been wounded. The injured guard, who so far has not been named, is lying, trapped, only yards from the gunmen's stronghold and attempts to reach him have been met with gunfire. As yet the aims of the gunmen have not been disclosed. In Northern Ireland a boarder patrol was -- "
Doyle switched off the radio. At least now he knew why control had been trying to get hold of Bodie. He did not like the idea of Bodie going in without him but this time he was helpless. He knew from what the CI5 doctor had said that he wouldn't be operational for at least another month. He had another long week at home, then a week or two if he was really unlucky, confined to the office before a week in Maclin's tender care to make sure he was really fit. But the way Bodie had been acting lately, even if he had been called out for this airport caper, he would probably have been accused of having an affair with one of the gunmen. Now he knew that Bodie really believed he had slept with Chris, he thought he understood more about why Bodie had attacked him and the peculiar way he'd reacted in the days afterwards. Even though Doyle had been sulkily nursing his wounded pride, along with trying to cope with being ill and ignoring Bodie when he really needed the help and comfort he was receiving, Doyle had noticed the way Bodie had wanted to get close and touch him properly but had shied away whenever he had forgotten he was supposed to be ignoring him. Now he thinks the party was an orgy he probably thinks he might catch something if he gets too close, he thought bitterly.
Bodie's accusation had really hurt. Maybe going to the party hadn't been such a great idea, but even admitting he was partly responsible, it still didn't reduce the unfairness of Bodie's accusation. If he was going to lie, why would he admit Chris's existence in the first place? If only Bodie hadn't been so stubborn about not going to the damn party none of this would have happened. It was all Bodie's fault, he decided. If Bodie was this strung up about his old friends it was a good job he'd found out now before he really let Bodie into his life, he tried to tell himself. He couldn't let Bodie get away with dictating who his friends should be. If the man was that insecure it wasn't worth the effort of getting involved with him. He was better off out of it.
Deep inside a little voice was crying out to be heard. "But I am involved. He is part of my life. It's already too late."
But Doyle resolutely closed his heart and his ears to the voice and began to try to rebuild his shattered world.
It took the gunmen two long, weary days to realise there was no escape. By the time they had released the final hostage and given themselves up the cost of the siege was already being added up. Along with the unaccountable, pointless loss of three lives, came the tremendous expense of diverting international flights across the length and breadth of the country and of keeping whole armies of police and security forces tied down, all caught up in the lengthy process of trying to convince the four gunmen there was no escape. And all for what? Two suitcases full of stolen banknotes, the proceeds of' a bank robbery.
As Bodie waited up the steps of the Chapel which had served as a headquarters, he shook his head and blinked at the sun's brightness. Two whole days! All because of a trigger happy punk with delusions of grandeur. A voice from the depths of the Chapel called him and he waited obediently at the top of the steps. Bodie received a small jolt of pleasure as he saw Cowley blink as the sunlight hit him square in the eyes.
"You can drive me back to HQ, Bodie. We can leave the clearing up to the police. Where is your car?"
The question stumped Bodie totally. His arrival two days previously had been in the middle of total confusion. He'd had to produce his ID about twenty times on his slow progress through the underpass to the airport. It seemed as if half the army and the entire Metropolitan Police force had beaten him there and no-one knew what was happening. By the time he gave up and abandoned his car in the confused, snarled up traffic Bodie had heard twenty different stories about the morning's events, varying from one lunatic with a submachine gun on the rampage to an invasion force from Russia attempting to take over the airport. His car was out there. Somewhere.
"Well, where is it? I've wasted enough time here already," Cowley repeated.
"It's out there, sir. I'm not exactly sure where though. I got stuck in a traffic jam and walked through."
Bodie stepped to one side as another CI5 man came up the steps from the Chapel. Cowley turned to the newcomer.
"McCabe, where's your car?" he barked.
McCabe held up a hand to protect his eyes from the sun. When Cowley sounded that cross, one was definitely at a disadvantage if you couldn't see him clearly.
"Ah, just over there, sir. Beside that jeep."
"You're driving me back to HQ. Bodie, I trust you will find your car without too much difficulty. I suggest you treat CI5 property with more care in the future. "Which reminds me of another point."
Oh-oh, thought Bodie, here it comes.
"You-were on standby when you were called in and we wasted half an hour calling around London trying to find you. Next time you're on standby make sure that Control knows exactly where you are."
"Yes, sir," Bodie snapped back military style, having drawn himself to stand at attention, his eyes fixed to a point somewhere above the first floor level of Terminal I.
Cowley gestured for McCabe to pass them and go to the car. He looked back at Bodie, sensing that all was not well with him. His gaze took in the military stance and he knew that a casual enquiry into whatever was troubling him would not be answered. This was not the first time over the past few days that he'd noticed Bodie's atypical behaviour. For the first time ever, Bodie had obeyed each order unquestioningly, without a single moan, grumble or comment. There had been no requests for direct action, like an SAS type assault. Along with everyone else, Bodie had followed orders and done nothing -- except wait and sit out the siege -- all very unusual behaviour for Bodie.
"Have you heard how Doyle is?" Cowley asked, guessing that Bodie's partner's illness might be preying on his mind.
"Haven't heard anything since arriving here, sir," Bodie snapped back.
"Well, I daresay he's managed to survive without you nursing him. When you do see him, you can tell him that you both have a three day refresher course to look forward to, once Dr Russell has pronounced him fit, of course."
"For both of us," Bodie repeated, horrified at the thought of a three day Macklin special.
"Aye, Bodie. You're a team. You work together. You train together. Be sure to tell Doyle. It'll give him something to look forward to.
Trying to suppress a smile and not totally succeeding, Cowley strode up the last few steps and towards McCabe.
Careful not to disturb the curtains, Doyle peered through the window at Bodie's car. He wondered how much longer Bodie was going to sit out there in the cold. Doyle had first noticed the car about twenty minutes previously, so how long the Capri had been out there he didn't know. The siege at the airport had ended hours ago. He viewed the car with mixed feelings. At first he had thought that Bodie was coming back to apologise and his heart had leapt as he waited nervously for the ring on the doorbell -- but it hadn't come, and slowly the elation had died and all the hurt began again with renewed intensity. He had now come to the conclusion that Bodie was spying on him, waiting to see someone enter or leave, trying to get proof his infidelity. As the time wore on and still Bodie made no move to drive away or come to the door, Doyle's temper began a slow burn. He told himself that Bodie could sit there until hell froze over, he didn't care. He barely managed to resist the temptation to phone Chris and invite him over for the evening. It wasn't consideration for Bodie's feeling that stopped him making the call. It was because he knew that Chris would come, and deep down he knew that what he and Chris had shared was over forever. Chris knew about Bodie. He'd told him at the party that he loved Bodie and that his commitment to his new lover was total. That thought now tickled his warped humour. Total commitment. That was a laugh. Bodie obviously didn't think he was capable of such a thing.
Wrapped up as he was in his thoughts, the sudden ringing of the bell made him jump. He went to the window and looked down the road at the empty car. Bracing himself, Doyle took a deep breath and tried to force himself to walk slowly to the door. Steeling himself to reveal nothing by his facial expression or voice he opened the door and looked at Bodie.
"What do you want?"
His voice sounded shaky and breathless to his ears.
"My things," Bodie managed to force out.
It was all going wrong. His rehearsed speech forgotten under the glaring eyes and cold voice.
"Most of my stuff is here. I need my clothes and shaving gear."
I also, need you, his mind cried, but the words remained unsaid.
Doyle looked at the arrogant face and saw the accusing eyes boring into him. He doesn't even want to come back.
"You better come in then."
He stepped back to allow Bodie in, then closed the door. "Where are your cases"?
You're really going. Don't you even want to try again?
"Wardrobe, my one -- ah, your spare one," Bodie amended. Nothing in this house belonged to him, least of all the man standing before him.
Bodie walked down the hallway into the bedroom, going straight to the wardrobe and pulling out the cases. In silence he began to remove the clothes hanging on the rail, throwing them, still on their hangers, into the cases. Out of the corner he saw Doyle move across the room to the chest of drawers and begin to remove the clothes that he had stored in there.
Bodie wanted to cry or be sick; he didn't know which. His stomach was in knots. The wardrobe was soon empty and one of the cases full. Bodie tried to close it. Badly packed, the case refused to shut properly and Doyle helped by leaning his weight on one corner as Bodie snapped the locks shut.
Bodie walked through to the bathroom to fetch his shaving gear. It took a few minutes to stuff everything into a toilet bag and when he returned the bedroom was empty, but on the bed beside his bag was his spare gun and holster and the few records and books that he'd brought over from his own flat. He was squeezing the last of the bits into his bag when Doyle returned laden down with and armful of magazines, shoes and foodstuff.
"What's all that?" he asked as Doyle dumped everything down on the bed.
"Your magazines. I don't read them so you might as well take them back. The shoes don't fit me so they must be yours. And what am I going to do with that stuff?" Doyle waved an arm over the food. "I can't stand any of it."
"Got something I can put it in? Bags are full up already."
"There's a box in the kitchen."
Doyle left to fetch the box and then stood beside the bed watching Bodie chuck everything in it.
He's not even packing that properly, Doyle thought. He could hear packets of biscuits being crushed under sauce bottles. The packet of Ready Brex was thrown in upside down and dried porridge flakes spilled out over everything.
He just can't wait to get away.
Doyle turned away and left the room, unable to watch Bodie chucking the life they had shared into a cardboard box.
Bodie heard Doyle leave the room and finally lifted a hand to brush away the tears that were blinding him. He glanced around the room. On the dresser top there were his comb and a tie. He picked them up and stuffed them into his jacket pocket. Now all signs of his occupation were gone. He lifted up the cases. He would have to come back for the box.
In the kitchen, Doyle froze as heard the click of the front door. No, he wouldn't go without saying goodbye -- would he? He almost ran down the hall to the open door. Looking down the street he was just in time to see Bodie struggling to the car with his bags. Slamming the boot shut, Bodie turned to walk back to the front door. He saw Doyle standing in the doorway.
Seeing me off the premises, I expect.
He fished around in his pockets for the door key and snapped it off the ring, holding it out for Doyle to take back.
"Just get the box and I'll be out of your way," he mumbled, pushing the key into Doyle's hand.
Doyle accepted the key and stood back as Bodie brushed past him, then pushed the front door to and leant on it, grateful for the support it offered. He looked down at the key, the warmth it had gained from Bodie's body searing into his palm. His eyes misted over, tears obscuring his vision. He heard Bodie coming back along the passage to the front door.
"'scuse me, please," a distant voice mumbled.
He knew he was blocking Bodie's exit. All he had to do to let Bodie go was to move away from the door. But he couldn't. He just couldn't do it. Head still bent, blindly looking down at the clenched fingers holding his key -- Bodie's key -- he whispered, "Do you really want to go?" He couldn't bring himself to beg Bodie to stay. It still hurt too much, but he had to know if it really was all over.
Bodie heard the question. Of course he didn't want to go. But could he stay? Was it worth loving someone who let him down? Could he share Ray with someone else? Could he bear to live without having at least a part of him?
"No," he whispered hoarsely.
Their eyes met, both surprised to see the other's filled with tears. Bodie repeated it again, louder. "No. Of course I don't want to leave you." His voice cracking at the end of the harshly spoken sentence. He slid the box down to the floor, then stood, arms empty, in front of Doyle, waiting for him to make the first move.
"I don't want you to either."
For a long awkward moment they stood watching each other, their ragged breathing the only sound in the narrow hallway; then, in the same instant, they moved and held on tightly to each other, their faces buried against each other's necks and shoulders. Eventually they drew back.
"You are sure, aren't you?" Bodie questioned.
Doyle sniffed and buried his face against Bodie's shoulders again. Too relieved to even move, they stayed there, holding on, refusing to let each other go.
"Will you do me a favour?" Bodie asked eventually.
"Of course." At that moment, if Bodie wanted to ask for the world, somehow Doyle knew he would get it.
"Those cases were bloody heavy. Come and help me bring them back in."
The immediate danger over, both men found themselves almost light-headed and drunk with relief, and laughing and giggling they stepped out into the night to bring the cases back in.
Following Doyle back into the house, Bodie closed the door and flipped the security lock over, then moved along the passage into the bedroom and dumped his case by the bed. They watched each other, the uneasiness returning, but then Bodie's stomach gurgled and rumbled -- rather loudly, breaking the tension.
"God, but I'm hungry," he said apologetically.
"When did you last eat something then?"
Bodie tried to remember and couldn't.
"I haven't felt very hungry -- till now."
Doyle nodded, understanding exactly what his partner meant.
"Me neither." He moved towards the door. "Cummon. I'll fix us something to eat."
They sat at opposite ends of the small kitchen table and ate a fair-sized meal. Apart from desultory conversation about the operation Bodie had been on and a few typically British comments about the weather over the past few days, didn't really talk. The reasons behind the near bust-up were steadfastly ignored. Neither man wanted to be the first to bring the subject up.
"Oh, by the way," Bodie said as he polished off the last morsel from plate, "the Cow said to tell you that once Rusty Russell has pronounced you fit we've both got a three day Macklin Suicide Course to look forward to."
"Oh my God. Not three days! I'd rather have a week. Does Cowley know that Mac squeezes a whole week's torture into his three day events? You're still half dead at the end of a week -- but at least the pace is a bit slower."
"Judging by the look of pure bliss on his face when he told me, he knows."
Looking across the table, the bright light in the kitchen showed that Doyle still looked unwell.
"When are you due to see Dr Russell next anyway? You still look awful."
"Thanks a lot. I'd just finished convincing myself that I felt a lot better. I've got an appointment on Monday morning at HQ, so I've still got three days grace. I'll probably be okay by then. I hope to god he doesn't clear me for active duty. I don't reckon I'd survive more than half an hour with Macklin now."
"How are you feeling?"
Doyle flashed Bodie an irritated look but then decided that it really wasn't worth making an issue out of it.
"All right, I've got a terrible headache and I feel bloody knackered, so if it's all right with you, I'm going take myself off to bed. I'll leave you to clear all this lot up."
Doyle waved an arm across the table indicating their supper plates, then left the table and headed for the bedroom.
It only took Bodie a few minutes to clear everything away. Then he followed Doyle into the bedroom. Apart from the small bedside light, the room was in darkness. Doyle was already in bed, facing away from the light. Bodie looked around. He couldn't see his cases but he didn't want to disturb Doyle by asking, so he just continued on through to the bathroom. He switched on the light. There on the bathroom shelf were his toiletries, all neatly arranged, his toothbrush, razor, everything. He peered behind the door. His bathrobe was hanging there too. Bodie quickly showered and prepared for bed. Then, shrugging into the robe, padded through to the bedroom. Doyle still hadn't moved. Could he really be asleep, Bodie wondered. He walked around the bed. Still no sign of his cases. Cautiously he opened the wardrobe. It was full. Doyle had unpacked everything for him.
"If you're looking for your cases, I've hidden them. I don't ever want to go through another evening like we just have."
Bodie agreed fervently. He then removed his robe and dropped it onto a chair by the bed and joined Doyle between the sheets.
"How's your head?" Bodie enquired as Doyle rolled against him.
"Took some pills. It's taken the edge off it."
"You'll feel better after a good sleep," whispered Bodie as he began to massage the tense muscles in his partner's neck. The massage obviously felt good, and Bodie could feel Doyle's body begin to relax against him, the warmth seeping into his own body. Doyle lapped it up and just lay there, soaking up the pleasure of lying beside the one person in the whole world who really mattered.
"Not much of a welcome home," Doyle mumbled sleepily. "Sorry. I'm so tired I'm numb."
"It's okay. I think I'm too tired to do you justice tonight anyway. Besides, you've got a headache."
Bodie's martyred tones filtered into Doyle's nearly asleep brain.
"Love you too, mate."
Completely drained by the emotional upheaval of the past few days and safely cuddled up together, they both relaxed and slept.
Waking up to the feel of a warm body pressed tightly against him was, Doyle decided, one of the best ways to start a day. Twisting in the loose embrace that enfolded him he turned to look at Bodie. For far too many mornings recently he'd woken alone and found himself hugging a pillow. The real thing was much better -- it even cuddled him back.
Bodie hadn't said anything about going in to work and as far as Doyle could see, he hadn't set the alarm either. The day after an operation they usually had to go in and prepare reports in triplicate and attend post mortems on what had gone right or wrong -- unless of course Bodie had completed the paperwork before coming to his flat last night. Somehow Doyle knew that his partner had not been in the right frame of mind for compiling reports, which meant he had to go in -- soon.
Bodie was still fast asleep when Doyle ran his hand down the front of his body and took hold of the soft sex as it nestled between his legs. Moving his hands gently he was soon rewarded by a small pulse beat and the slackened organ began to swell. Struggling through layer upon layer of sleep, Bodie felt Doyle's hands moving so beautifully over his body. Pressed against his hip he could feel his lover's hard body. His hand was taken and placed over the engorged flesh. Almost immediately the sensations in his own body rose to a peak and he woke up panting out his release, closely followed by Doyle as he burst into the hand that was holding him, As their hearts slowed down, Doyle wiped their hands and bodies with some tissues, then cuddled up close, giving Bodie a light kiss on the side of his mouth.
"Sure beats the hell out of being woken up by the alarm clock, doesn't it?"
"Dunno," Bodie gasped, still breathless. "You've still got to wait for your heart to slow down." He returned the kiss, "Good morning."
"Morning. Have you got to go into HQ this morning?"
"Yes. Got a ten o'clock briefing. What time is it?" Bodie tried to peer over the tumbled wayward curls to the clock.
"Nine forty-five. I think you're going to be late."
"Shit, I'm already in Cowley's bad books!"
"Not being instantly available when I was on standby, losing my car at the airport, and now I'm going to be late for the briefing." As he spoke, Bodie leapt from the bed and began putting on his clothes.
"You lost your car? How?"
"At the airport, I had to abandon it in a traffic jam in the underpass. Some bloody idiot had it towed away to Hounslow car pound before I could get back. Took me hours to find it." Dressed and ready to leave, Bodie crossed back to the bed. "How do you feel this morning?"
"Feel fine. When will you be back?"
"I don't know. If Cowley doesn't have me up in front of a firing squad I'm supposed to be on protection duty at some international summit meeting."
"Who are you watching ?"
"Ojuka. He asked for both of us but he'll have to make do with me and Pete Craig."
"Take care. Call me when you know you're coming home."
"If I get the chance I will. Look after yourself. Bye."
After a brief kiss, Bodie was gone. Doyle waited until he heard the front door slam and then lay back on the pillows. So, he thought, everything was back to normal -- or was it? They hadn't really talked. So far they hadn't even mentioned the reason for the argument. Bodie still believed he'd been unfaithful -- and with more than one person. If he tried to explain now that Charlie was a cat it would only make things worse. Bodie would probably think he was making it up to cover an even worse indiscretion. Now he knew how possessive and untrusting Bodie was, Doyle knew what he had to do if he wanted to keep him on an even keel: just make sure he never did anything to make him suspicious. Eventually Bodie would come to realise that he loved him and only him.
Friday dragged by and Saturday morning dawned. Bodie quietly let himself into the flat. He didn't want to disturb Doyle if he was still asleep. He only wanted to grab a change of clothes. He tiptoed into the bedroom, then stared in amazement at the empty bed. It was only eight-thirty in the morning. Where the hell was he? Trying to ignore the empty, neatly made bed, Bodie changed his clothes and threw another change into a holdall. As he made for the front door he wondered if he should leave a note telling Ray that he'd stopped by -- but if he did that Doyle would know that he'd been caught out again. Where the hell was he? Mental images of Charlie and Chris Hetherington flashed before his eyes.
Bodie threw the bag down and drove a fist into the wall. The sound of a key turning in the lock made him look up just in time to see Doyle walk in carrying a loaf of bread and some bottles of milk. He quickly schooled his features to reveal nothing of his anguish and bent down to pick up his bag.
"Just dropped by to get a change of clothes."
Bodie refused to ask Doyle where he had been. He didn't think he could bear knowing.
"Have you got time for a cup of tea? The kettle's only just boiled."
"No, I've got to get back. Craig's covering for me. I probably won't see you until after Ojuka flies out on Monday morning."
Doyle moved away from the door, clutching the groceries to his chest.
"Okay, see you Monday then."
"Yes, Monday. See you."
Bodie shouldered past and was gone, leaving Doyle leaning against the wall squeezing the fresh loaf in a crushing grip. It had been written all over Bodie's face. Coming home to an empty flat he had jumped to the conclusion that he'd spent the night somewhere else. How on earth could he cope with Bodie's insecurity? It was going to be impossible to convince him of his commitment if he mis-read every time that happened. Doyle went through to the kitchen and dumped the groceries on the table. Patience, he told himself, he must have patience. In time Bodie would realise that everything was going to be all right. He would just have to be patient and careful in the meantime.
For the rest of the weekend, Doyle didn't leave the flat just in case Bodie phoned or called in, but he did neither.
On Monday morning Doyle reported to HQ to see Dr Russell for his medical which went without a hitch. As he had anticipated he was put on office duty. Walking through to the squad room he looked at the duty boards. Bodie and Craig were still on protection. Ojuka's flight had been delayed until late afternoon.
He turned away from the boards to answer the call and saw McEnross bearing down on him.
"Doyle, you're cleared for office duties, aren't you?" Seeing that McEnross was responsible for compiling the duty boards and that he was probably perfectly aware of the duty status of every single CI5 agent, Doyle knew that the enquiry was only a prelude for what was coming next.
"That's right." Doyle braced himself. Please don't let it be searching the dead files, he pleaded silently.
"I need someone to cover the Box for the next few days. You'll do nicely."
The Box. Oh, no.
"Don't you need the dead files weeding out?" he asked, the desperation in his voice poorly disguised.
McEnross smiled. He had the kind of smile that, if he had been an actor, would have had offers of playing psychopaths flooding in. The Box and weeding dead files were jobs which no-one ever wanted to do and McEnross derived a small measure of pleasure seeing the hardened, rough, tough CI5 boys almost begging to be let off the duties. Someone had to do them though. Today and tomorrow were agent 4.5's turn.
"The Box, 4.5." It sounded like a death sentence. "2.7 is waiting, eagerly I've no doubt, for his replacement. You don't want to keep him waiting, do you?"
McEnross, having started his day on a bright note, turned on his heel and left Doyle standing by the boards. The Box. Doyle shuddered. His last spell of duty in there had been as a new boy three years ago. He didn't think he was really ready for another turn just yet. He knew that he wouldn't be able to find anyone stupid enough to swap duties and so he began to attempt to minimize the discomfort of Box duty.
After raiding the squad room for a collection of magazines and paperbacks he descended into the bowels of CI5 and headed for the Box. His arrival was greeted with near ecstasy by the current occupant.
"Thank God. I thought McEnross was going to leave me here forever."
McCabe hurriedly grabbed his cigarettes and pile of books, stuffing everything into a carrier bag.
"Doyle, you're beautiful." To emphasise the point McCabe planted a wet, sloppy kiss on Doyle's forehead. "Christ, I've been in here all night," he said by way of an explanation.
Doyle endured it all stoically. This was the effect the Box had on people. God. Two whole days. How was he going to survive? The whirlwind that was the escaping McCabe moved down the corridor leaving the small room vacant, awaiting its next occupant -- or victim.
Doyle walked into the Box and promptly stepped back out. The fug was so thick he couldn't breathe. McCabe must have been smoking all night. Taking a breath of the relatively fresh air in the corridor Doyle bravely entered again and struggled to force open the tiny window. Dropping his pile of reading material on the floor, Doyle took his seat and surveyed his office. The Box was so called because its dimensions were eight foot by six foot, and practically every square inch of the room was packed with electronic surveillance equipment. All of CI5's secure premises, all the agents' flats, garages and offices and storehouses were wired up to this room. Unless someone decided to storm the CI5 nerve centre the only action Doyle was going to see would be if someone opened a window without attending to the security system first.
Bodie entered the squad room, his eyes searching for his partner. After drawing a blank he moved to consult the duty boards. When Pete Cray entered the room a few minutes later, he found his temporary partner suffering from minor convulsions, "What's up, Bodie. Found Doyle yet?"
"Look where they've stuck the poor bastard."
"What's he done to deserve that? Poor sod." Craig spoke with feeling. He'd had a turn on Box duty not too long ago. "You going to come and get these reports out of the way then? I don't know about your domestic arrangements, but I have a -wife and a bed that I haven't seen for three days."
"Yeah, okay. Christ. I bet he's really pissed off stuck down there."
Meanwhile the current occupant of the Box was scrambling to his feet having heard sounds of life out in the corridor.
"Hello, Flo. Got a cup of tea going?"
"Mr. Doyle. So this is where they've been hiding you. One cup of tea coming up, You bin a naughty boy, have you? Never seen you doing Box duty before."
"You missed me then?"
"I'd noticed you weren't around. Never like to ask where you boys are -- don't suppose anyone would tell me if I did."
"I've been home on sick. First day back and look where they've put me."
The disgust was clearly audible and Flo made sympathetic noises.
"Sick, were you. No-one ever tells me anything. I knew you weren't dead though. Haven't seen anyone going around with the collection box so I knew you'd be back sooner or later. I've got some fresh cream buns in the tray. You could probably do with one. Help to build you up if you've been that poorly."
"Flo, you're an angel."
Carrying his plunder back into the Box he first checked all his boards and then prepared to indulge himself in a nice cuppa and cream bun.
By six-thirty that evening Doyle was definitely clock-watching. Only another half an hour before his relief would be arriving to take over. At six-forty the sound of footsteps could be heard coming down the corridor -- what idiot turned up twenty minutes early for Box duty! The door opened and Bodie stuck his head around the door.
"Evening sunshine. Busy day?" he enquired cheekily. He knew very well that a person could easily die of boredom in this job.
"Very funny, Bodie. I don't suppose you've seen Mitchell. He's the night watchman."
"Mitchell, Mitchell." Bodie frowned. "Tall guy, black hair, hairy arms. That him?" Doyle nodded. "Yes. He'll be down as soon as McEnross finds the keys to the handcuffs."
"What are you babbling about?"
"Seems the poor chap's spent every night for the past weeks down here. His nerve's gone. Handcuffed himself to the S-bend and flushed the keys down the loo."
Bodie ducked just in time to avoid being decapitated by a flying missile.
"That is not very funny. A person could die stuck in here and no-one would know until they came to investigate the smell."
"Bad as that, is it?"
At that moment Mitchell appeared in the doorway behind Bodie.
"Bodie, Doyle," he acknowledged their greetings. "Don't suppose I can interest you in swapping duties, Bodie? No, I didn't think so."
The unfortunate Mitchell took up his position and Doyle gratefully left the Box in his care.
They left the building together but split up to drive their own cars home, back to Doyle's flat. Once indoors they went into the kitchen where Doyle sat and watched in amazement as Bodie began to prepare a meal.
"You sure you're not going down with something, Bodie?"
"Sarcasm, my friend, is the lowest form of wit," Bodie returned glibly. Got to build you up, petal. Flo said you were looking very peaky this afternoon. We've also got to get your strength up for next Monday. Got a date with Macklin, haven't we."
"Maybe we'll get lucky and someone will break his neck for us."
Bodie agreed fervently and continued to get the meal ready. They talked about everything and nothing. The one subject they ought to discuss was totally ignored.
Bodie leant forward and allowed the stream of water from the showerhead to flow over his face. Bone weary, he put his arms on the shower wall and leant his forehead onto them, the hot stream pouring down the back of his head, causing a river to run down along his jawline before joining the cascade to the floor.
The last two weeks had been absolute hell, with both of them trying to pretend that all was well. He knew that Cowley was worried about them. Macklin had graded them as fit for duty and of course they were, but it was such hard work. The easy camaraderie, the give and take, the teamwork, it had all lost it's sparkle. The extra 'something' that had made them Cowley's top team was gone. He knew why -- but what could he do about it? Doyle had made it quite clear that he knew Bodie didn't trust him. Whenever the telephone rang, Doyle would make a big show about telling him who was on the other end of the line and what they had wanted. If he ever left his side, on his return Doyle would make a point of telling him exactly where he had been and who had been there, even to the extent of naming witnesses. The last two nights had been the worst though. Doyle had all but ignored him at night in bed, not even trying to cuddle up to him. The tension was building and Bodie knew that things were going to come to a head soon. He'd tried Doyle's patience for too long. Tomorrow was a free day, the first free day since Doyle had returned to work, a whole day of each other's company with no distractions. Bodie lifted his head up so the water hit him in the face again. Tonight Doyle had been quieter than ever, seemingly lost in thought most of the time, and Bodie was sure that he knew what he was thinking about.
How long had it lasted? Nearly six months. One month for each year he had loved Hetherington.
Bodie switched off the shower and reached for the towel, patting the worst of the water off. He shrugged into his bathrobe and crossed to the wash basin. Taking his shaving gear from the shelf he watched his reflection as he lathered his face and then began to shave.
Six months. He should have expected it really. That was about average time for his own relationships to last. Why on earth had he expected this to be any different? What was he going to do when Doyle said he wanted to finish it? Bodie flinched as he nicked his cheek with the razor. Red blood welled up and ran down his cheek spreading into the white lather. Wiping the blood away he tried to work out how he really felt. Everything had become so mixed up, confused. His brain was telling him to get out now, to make a clean break, but his heart was telling him to fight for what he wanted, to hang on at all costs. Even during their lovemaking he was torn both ways at once. His body, desperate to feel Ray's warmth and love helpless under him but his mind telling him to hold back, not to give himself away. He loved Ray so much it was ripping him apart, and he wanted to just take him and love him and keep him close forever -- if only Ray wanted the same thing!
Bodie rinsed away the remaining lather and toweled his face dry, splashing on some aftershave. The nicked cheek smarted and brought tears to his eyes. They were never far away these days. The last few nights, after Doyle had finally gone to sleep way over on the far side of the bed, he had fought back the flow, but each night he had lost the battle and they bad trickled from the corner of his eyes, tickling as they ran down the side of his face.
Drying his eyes he left the bathroom. He could hear Doyle moving around in the kitchen. He looked down at their bed, Doyle's bed. Their life together had started in that bed. It looked as if it was destined to end there as well.
Bodie removed his robe and climbed in. Lying down he pulled Doyle's pillow to his face. The scent that was Doyle was there faintly on the pillow. For a brief moment he hugged the pillow, then quickly replaced it as he heard Doyle locking the front door. Maybe if Ray thought he was asleep he would wait until tomorrow before deciding about their future together. At least he would have one more night of sleeping in the same bed. One more night of illusion.
He put the last plate on the draining board and tipped the water away. Tonight was going to be different, he decided. Doyle knew that if they carried on like this they were going to end up destroying themselves. He'd tried waiting for Bodie to see there was no reason for him to worry. He had been deliberately open about everything he had done in the past few weeks, made sure that Bodie knew that he hadn't been having secret meetings with illicit lovers. He had tried so hard to win Bodie's trust but suspected that he was fighting a losing battle. Over the past fortnight he had begun to wonder if Bodie even wanted him anymore. It had been ages since Bodie had initiated any lovemaking or even quiet cuddles, and he only responded to Doyle's lovemaking with enough energy to prove he hadn't fallen asleep on the job.
The last two nights Doyle had deliberately kept to his own side of the bed, waiting to see if Bodie would seek him out. He hadn't.
Checking the front door was locked, he turned out all the lights and walked through to the bedroom. Bodie was already in bed, his eyes closed. Surely he couldn't be asleep already. Probably pretending again Doyle decided. Standing in the glow from the bedside light, Doyle began to undress. Stripped off he turned to lay his clothes neatly over a chair before disappearing into the bathroom and caught sight of two desire-filled eyes drinking in his every movement.
Bodie was staring at the lithe body, trying to store away every little detail, staring so intently it was a moment before he realised that Doyle was watching him and seeing the desire that must surely be etched on his face.
The shower forgotten, his body already responding and stirring into life under that hot gaze, Doyle moved towards the bed and leant down to kiss Bodie. The kiss was electric and the searing heat it produced fused their bodies together, a writhing, heaving tangle of arms and legs all striving to ease the scorching fire that suddenly consumed them both.
Doyle could feel his-heart racing, soaring, and he wanted to scream out his joy. Bodie's touch was already soothing away painful memories and repairing damaged emotions. How could he respond so wildly if he didn't love him, didn't want him? He felt Bodie's firm grasp on his hips urging him to turn over and pulling him up onto his knees, covering him, Bodie's erection nudging him between his parted legs. Bodie leant over his back and kissed his way down his spine, every inch of the way from the nape of his neck to the crevice, then parting the cheeks and running a hot wet tongue down over and into the tight bud, pushing in as far as it could go. With his tongue still teasing and dilating the pucker of flesh, Bodie slid one hand between the parted thighs and grasped the root of Doyle's cock, holding it tightly, stroking with firm decisive strokes.
Even as he moved to position himself, Bodie felt his mind suddenly detach itself from his body. It was as if he were in the audience watching a play. He could see himself, crazed with lust, about to plunge into the body he had pulled and pushed into position. How could he behave like this? Hadn't he done enough damage last time? Did he have to keep on repeating his mistakes? He had already hurt Doyle enough. How could Ray, how could anyone, love a person as selfish as he was? No one could. No one.
Doyle felt Bodie draw away and braced himself, head down on his forearms, eagerly awaiting the blunt pressure as it pushed a pathway into him. He was so close he knew that he would come as soon as Bodie entered him. Bodie was motionless behind him and he waited expectantly, impatiently, and wriggled his hips back against Bodie's groin in encouragement. He felt Bodie flinch away but not before he had felt the slackened organ brush against his skin. In amazement he twisted around. Bodie was kneeling behind him, a look of horror and disgust on his face, his arousal gone completely. Doyle reached out to touch him but Bodie brushed the hand away and threw himself face down onto the bed.
Frustration was coursing through Doyle's body, anger following closely behind. Had it been a game? Was Bodie trying to show that he didn't need him?
"Bodie...Bodie, what's wrong?" His voice cracked as he spoke. "For Christ's sake, what was that all about? What happened?"
Kneeling on the bed beside Bodie, he was desperately trying to understand.
"Will you look at me, tell me what's wrong?"
Bodie remained still, his face turned away. Doyle remembered the horror and disgust on his partner's face.
"What did I do? Did I hurt you?"
He began to shout at the motionless figure. "At least tell me what I did wrong. Don't I at least deserve an explanation?"
His own arousal was gone now, leaving him aching and uncomfortable, and anger was beginning to overcome his frustration. He hit out at Bodie, punching him hard on his shoulder.
"What's the matter with you, Bodie? You went up like a rocket then. We both did. It was wonderful. We were nearly there. Then 'pow'. Nothing."
He punched Bodie's back again, the dull thud filling the room.
"Why won't you look at me, you bastard."
Still Bodie wouldn't respond, and this infuriated Doyle even more.
"To think I thought we had something going for us, something worth fighting for." His voice became contemptuous. "Do you enjoy playing games with people's lives -- you bastard. I loved you, loved you more than I've ever loved anyone, but that's not enough for you, is it, Bodie? You like to see people crawl, begging for your favours, don't you? I love you, Bodie, but I won't crawl for it."
Almost blind with anger, Doyle clambered off the bed, struggled into his clothes and was gone, slamming shut the doors behind him.
Bodie remained on the bed, his face buried in the pillow, his whole body jumping as each door slammed. The distant sound of squealing tyres drifted through the closed doors, but still Bodie remained face down, seemingly motionless. The tremors were so slight at first they were hardly noticeable. Slowly they began to build in intensity until eventually his whole body was shaking and the pillow became saturated by tears as Bodie wept for what he knew he had lost.
He pulled up in front of the house. It was very late but there were still some lights on. Parking the car, he walked up to the door and banged hard on the solid wood. It was a few minutes before the knock was answered and he waited impatiently.
"Who's there?" came a voice from the other side of the door.
"Chris, it's me, Ray. Can I come in?"
The sound of bolts being drawn back could be heard, then the rattle of a chain. At last the door swung back and light and warmth from the hallway flooded out.
"What's wrong? It's the middle of the night, Ray. Is something up?"
"I'm sorry. I know it's late. Did I get you out of bed?"
"No, I was just getting ready when you knocked. Come on in then. Don't just stand there."
Hetherington ushered his friend through to the lounge, noting with concern his haggard, almost wild appearance. He wondered what on earth could have happened. It was clear that Ray was very upset. No, upset was the wrong word, Ray was angry, furiously angry.
"Do you want a drink?"
Doyle just nodded and Chris moved towards the bar to fix them both a stiff drink. He had an idea they were going to need it. As he poured the drinks he watched as Doyle paced up and down the lounge like a caged tiger, his fists clenching and unclenching at his sides. He passed over the drink and Ray downed it in one swallow. Without commenting, Chris removed the glass from his hand and refilled it, passing it back. Taking a sip of his own drink, he sat down on the couch and waited for Ray to calm down enough to talk. The pacing stopped and Ray began to stare into nothing. Once or twice he looked about to speak out, then stopped.
"I'm sorry." He put his glass down. "I know it's the middle of the night. I shouldn't have come. I'm sorry."
He began to move towards the door. Chris leapt to his feet and blocked the exit.
"You're here now so don't worry about it. Just tell me what's wrong. How can I help?"
The drive from his flat had helped to calm him down a little. He had driven very very fast, taking his temper out on the gears and accelerator. Now the stiff drink and the concern that Chris was radiating were washing the remains of his rage away. He felt hurt, confused, and lonely, terribly terribly lonely.
Now Chris was really worried. He'd seen the anger draining away. Now instead of anger Ray was trembling with the effort to suppress tears. He watched as Ray fought a losing battle to keep them back.
"I'm sorry, Chris. I shouldn't have come here like this, but I just wanted to talk to someone." His voice was full of choked back emotion, and acting on impulse, Chris moved forward and enfolded Doyle's trembling body in his arms.
"It's all right, Ray. Just tell me what's wrong."
"I don't know. I just don't know anymore."
The words came out in a choked wail as Doyle finally gave in and let the tears flow.
Holding him tightly, Chris experienced a strange sense of deja-vu. Four years ago he had held Ray in the same way as he'd cried out his grief for his dead partner. Sid Parker's death had been the beginning of the end of their relationship. Then, as Ray had wept, Chris had only felt overwhelming relief that it had been Parker, whom he hardly knew, and not his Ray that had been killed. The relief had been short lived though. Over the six years they had been lovers, he'd seen the sensitive caring young man he had met and fallen in love with become hard and cynical. Until Parker's death, Chris had thought he'd accepted his lover's choice of career, but as Ray began to talk about getting onto the Drugs Squad and the mysterious new CI5 unit, he admitted he had been deluding himself. He couldn't share in Ray's career, and he knew that he wouldn't be able to stand by and watch Ray throw his life away trying to stop some bank robber, drug pusher or assassin. He'd failed to get his young lover to leave England and move with him to Brussels and he knew that he had gone on to work with the Drugs Squad and then CIS.
Chris dragged himself back to the present. Doyle was crying softly now and was holding on more for comfort than out of necessity. Had something happened to his present partner, Chris wondered, trying to recall the man's name. Birdie? No, Bodie. The night of the party, Ray had told him about Bodie, of how happy he was and that now he knew that they had been right to stop when they had four years ago. He was happy with his career and more than happy with Bodie. Ray had been so pleased to be able to tell someone the news that Chris had guessed the relationship was still new. New love was always painful. You usually had to struggle for something worthwhile. But if you made it, it was beautiful.
At last Ray seemed to have cried himself out and Chris steered him towards the armchair and pushed him into it. He refilled both their glasses and settled himself into the chair opposite.
"Better now?" he asked.
"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to cry all over you." He indicated the large damp patch on his friend's shirt.
"What are friends for if not for crying all over? Just don't make a habit of it," he teased.
"I don't think that twice in four year could be called a habit." Doyle had experienced his own deja-vu as well. They sat in silence as memories of the first time flooded them both.
"Well?" prompted Chris. "Am I going to be blessed with an explanation or am I to wait until you publish your memoirs?"
"I'm sor -- "
"If you say you're sorry once more I'll shove you out the front door."
"I'm s -- I don't seem to be able to stop saying it."
"I had noticed."
"They both laughed. Chris was pleased to hear Ray's laugh. It was still subdued but at least it was there.
"Come on, Ray, I know you're not the hysterical type so what's got you so worked up that you cross London at two in the morning to hammer my door down and weep all over me?"
"I'm..." He managed to stop himself this time. "I've made one hell of a mess of everything and I just don't know what to do anymore. There aren't many people I can turn to for help. I really didn't mean to come over here and keep you up all night. I was just driving to get away. I couldn't stay in the flat another minute. I was so frightened of what I was going to do. I really hated him. I was so angry I could have wrung his neck. How can you love someone one minute and want to kill them the next? He's driving me round the bend. I never know if I'm coming or going anymore."
Just talking about it was making him feel angry again.
"You know, Ray," Chris began slowly, "one of the things I remember most about you is that when someone or something hurts you, you could easily turn quite vicious. When you're hurting you seem to need to hurt back. There were times when you frightened me. Jekyll and Hyde had nothing on you. Do you really hate him or has he just been stupid enough to hurt your sensitive feelings?" Chris's sardonic voice cut into Doyle like a knife. He had quite forgotten how sharp his friends tongue could be.
"I just don't understand him. I've tried. God knows how I've tried. But it's like I'm bashing my head against a brick wall."
"What don't you understand?"
"Why can't he trust me. I trust him. He's never liked knowing that he wasn't the first man I've loved. He asked me so I told him. Should I have lied? Ever since your party he's been acting funny. He got it into his head that you and I were going to start up all over again, and when he saw the scratches Charlie had put down my back, he went berserk. He really came down heavy. I tried to tell him what happened but he was so sure he knew, he wouldn't listen. Then I was ill. When I was getting better I realised he was pulling away from me. I tried to patch things up, but he backed away like a scalded cat. He thinks I had it off with every bloke who was at the party that night, including the bloody cat. He ran out on me as if he was scared he might catch VD or something."
Doyle took a swig of his drink and tried to calm himself down before continuing.
"He came to collect his clothes a few days later." Unconsciously Doyle had lowered his voice and the confused hurt he was feeling showed through. "It was really awful. I didn't want him to go but I wasn't going to ask him to stay. It turned out all right though and he didn't go. At first I thought everything was going to be all right but then it all started falling to pieces again. I could see him backing away. He doesn't even want to come near me anymore. He's not even trying to make a go of it."
"Why are you trying so hard?"
"Because I love him." The response came automatically but was no less heartfelt for that.
"But does he love you?"
Ray dropped his head back onto the chair and closed his eyes. The six million dollar question. He had been trying to fathom Bodie's feelings for what seemed like a lifetime.
"I don't know. I just don't know," he whispered.
All of a sudden Doyle looked worn out, thoroughly defeated and exhausted. Coming to a decision Chris hauled the half asleep man to his feet.
"Come on, Ray, there's a bed upstairs. Tomorrow's another day. There's nothing you can do now."
Doyle let himself be manipulated up the stairs and into bed. Yes, tomorrow was another day. Maybe if he was lucky tomorrow would never come and then he wouldn't have to face it.
After settling Doyle into the spare bed, Chris made his way back downstairs to the telephone. There was nothing Ray could do tonight -- but maybe there was something he could do.
His arm was already reaching for the phone before he was properly awake.
"Hello," Bodie mumbled thickly.
"Yes. Who is this?"
Even as he spoke, Bodie placed the voice.
"It's Chris Hetherington, Mr Bodie. I apologise for calling you at this hour but I think that it's important that we meet each other and talk as soon as possible. Could you come over to my house now?"
Fully awake now, Bodie's hand tightened on the receiver. He switched on the light and looked at the time. Four-thirty. Why should Hetherington want to speak to him now, unless --
"Is Ray there with you?" he demanded.
"Yes, he is. He arrived here about an hour and a half ago."
"What's he doing there?"
"Mr Bodie, I'm sure Ray had already told you about me. He came to me because he needed a friend to talk to. It's because of that friendship I feel that you and I also ought to have a talk. Now. Tonight."
Hetherington's voice was calm, undisturbed, and insistent.
"What the hell do you want, Hetherington?"
The calm voice continued, ignoring the burning anger that Bodie was forcing down the telephone.
"I think it's more a matter of 'what do you, want' Mr Bodie. Ray is here at my house. If you really want him I suggest you come and get him. Do you need my address?"
"You keep your address, you fucking p -- "
"There is no need to be coarse, Mr Bodie. I'll repeat what I just said. If you really want him, I suggest you come and get him. I'll be waiting for you."
Click; the line went dead. Bodie stared at the phone in amazement as it continued to hum at him. He smashed the phone back down and fell back onto the pillow, tears of rage brimming over his tightly closed eyes.
Ray was gone, he told himself, gone for good. Let him go. Don't fight against it. Let him go. It was all a nightmare. It had to be. Why couldn't he just break away, cut loose? Why on earth did it have to hurt so much? Bodie tried to block out the quietly spoken words. "...if you really want him...come and get him...come and get him...want him...come and get him..."
The words were still reverberating around his head as, fully dressed, he steered his car in the direction of Hetherington's home. He was going to get Ray. Hetherington had really asked for it. He wanted Ray and nothing and no one was going to stop him. Of course he knew the man's address, but it was about all he did know. He'd run a check on him a few weeks ago and he knew that he was a successful business man and nearly fourteen years older than Ray. His pride had refused to let him pry any further.
Hetherington must have been about thirty-four when he'd first met Doyle. How in God's name had Doyle fallen for an old faggot, Bodie asked himself. He couldn't see Doyle, aged twenty, innocent and impressionable, being taken in by a smooth talking fairy with a penchant for fast cars and good drink. So what was Hetherington like then?
As he drove on through the streets, Bodie's image of the man wavered between a forty year old fairy and a middle aged Mr Universe. Getting closer and closer to the house he really couldn't decide what he wanted to see -- a piddling pathetic fairy he would be able to thrust aside with contempt, a macho he-man he could strangle with his bare hands? The car turned up the short driveway to the house and Bodie switched off the engine. The mood he was in he hoped he was going to be able to thump someone, anyone, as long as it wasn't Ray.
Chris walked slowly to the door and opened it, stepping back Bodie barged in. Turning his back on his visitor Chris returned to the lounge, casually speaking over his shoulder as he did so.
"Close the door quietly, Mr Bodie. Ray is asleep upstairs and we don't want him to wake up just yet, do we?"
Speechless, Bodie watched the retreating figure. Was this Hetherington? Obeying his instructions he closed the door quietly and followed the man through the arched doorway.
"What would you like to drink, Mr Bodie?"
Things were not going at all as Bodie had planned. His host passed his drink over.
"You're Chris Hetherington?"
Bodie felt he had to check. It wouldn't do to floor the wrong man. His host just smiled in return, a friendly reassuring smile that, to his surprise, Bodie found himself returning.
"And you're Bodie. Do you have another name?"
"Yes, but I prefer Bodie."
Hetherington watched Bodie's reaction with well disguised amusement. In the past he and Ray had encountered similar reactions from their friends, and he waited patiently for Bodie to absorb the shock.
"You didn't know what I looked like?"
Bodie shook his head.
"It probably slipped Ray's mind to mention it."
Bodie just looked. He knew he was staring but he really couldn't help it. The man before him looked so much like Ray -- but so different at the same time. It was very confusing. They were about the same height and build and both of them shared the same unruly auburn locks. The differences were small but the effect was startling. Ray was an attractive man; Chris Hetherington was beautiful. His features were finer, eyebrows delicate, eyes clear and very green. He moved with unconscious grace; his clothes were casual, but where on Ray they would look scruffy, on this man they would gain him admittance to a Palace Garden Party. He was the type of man both men and women would turn to look at. But for all that there was nothing effeminate in the face, style, or voice of Chris Hetherington.
"People used to just assume that we were related. I think that our likeness explains why we never experienced problems from Ray's police friends. Would you like a refill, Mr Bodie?"
Astonished, Bodie looked into his empty glass, then nodded mutely, sinking into one of the plush armchairs as his host replenished his glass. Chris's demeanour had completely defused Bodie's rage, leaving him slightly bewildered. The man wasn't behaving like he was about to fight tooth and nail to keep hold of his lover. In fact he was positively radiating reassurance and calmness.
When Chris turned back and handed the drink to Bodie he released a silent sigh of relief. Bodie looked a lot calmer now. The murderous intent had vanished from the clear blue eyes.
"Tell me, Bodie, is Ray your first male lover?"
"Yes." Bodie had replied before resentment at the question had time to register.
"It's all very new to both of you. You haven't been lovers for very long, have you?"
"No." Why the hell was he answering the man? He hadn't come here to talk with him about anything.
"You know that Ray has had experience other men, but that doesn't mean he's finding this any easier."
"What are you talking about?"
"When two lives join together it takes some time for all the rough edges to smooth down. Sometimes the lovers survive the friction and become one; sometimes they don't."
"I still don't know what you're talking about."
Hetherington's attitude was not threatening in any way and Bodie felt himself relaxing and warming towards him.
"It takes years for people to grow together, Bodie. You two are trying to get there in a few months. Stop trying so hard. You're anticipating each other to death. You think he's been unfaithful which, in your eyes, means he doesn't love you. Ray knows that you don't trust him. He's angry that you really believe he's betrayed your love. Then from what I can make out, you decided to forgive him for being unfaithful but still don't really believe he loves you. Ray thinks you're drawing away from him because you don't love him. Am I right?"
The eerily familiar green eyes pinned Bodie back into the cushions.
"I don't just think. I know!" Bodie burst out. Was Hetherington trying to trick him?
"What do you know, Mr Bodie? That Ray came home blind drunk in the early hours of the morning, that he was wearing different clothes, that his back was scratched. Ray would call that circumstantial evidence. Didn't you ask him what happened?"
"He told me about Charlie -- "
"Bodie, if he had told you about Charlie you would already know what a fool you've been."
The barely suppressed amusement in Chris's voice struck Bodie as being oddly out of place, but he was beginning to suspect that things were not as he had believed them to be.
Chris stood up and beckoned Bodie to follow him. They ended up in the kitchen. Without speaking, Chris pointed to a floor mat at the end of the room. Warily Bodie walked up to it. The mat was a plastic rectangle with the words 'Charlie's mat' emblazoned across it.
The sharp voice made Bodie jump. He turned in time to see a Siamese cat poised ready to leap onto his shoulders. A pair of enormously blue eyes peered out of a sleek black face from on top of the kitchen cupboards.
"Charlie has a nasty habit of jumping on people when they are daft enough to bend over, don't you, old girl?"
Chris rubbed his fist under the cat's chin, then reached up and lifted her down into his arms.
"Bodie, this is Charlie, or more correctly Queen Charlotte the fourth. Beautiful, isn't she?"
"Yes," Bodie agreed numbly.
"Poor old Ray. This naughty creature really landed on him. Poor sod ended up on the floor in a pile of blood spattered jelly and blancmange. He got a bit annoyed when we all laughed at him."
"I can imagine."
With Chris still cuddling Charlie, they returned to the lounge and their drinks.
"That explains Charlie away and the different clothes."
Chris carried on knocking holes in Bodie's evidence, and Bodie was happy to let him continue.
"As for getting drunk, well one of my associates brews his own larger. Tastes like weak tea but it packs one hell of a kick. And that leaves me, doesn't it?" Chris smiled. "Do you still think I'm poaching?" he asked mildly.
"For some reason, no, I don't."
Chris gave an exaggerated sigh and made a play of wiping the non-existent sweat from his brow.
"Thank God for that." he said with feeling. "You came through that door like a one man assassination squad."
Both men laughed and Bodie lifted his glass in salute to Chris.
"I must be losing my touch. You didn't look worried. Not once. You should have been quivering with fright on the floor."
"It's the salesman in me -- never let the opposition know if you're getting worried."
The remaining tension vanished from the room and the two men relaxed and became comfortable in each other's company. Bodie knew that Ray was nearby and that he'd see him soon. The fear of losing him was ebbing away.
"I'm beginning to feel like a marriage guidance counselor. I'll start charging consultation fees soon."
"You make it very easy to talk to you, and you seem to be able to judge people accurately. You were quite right in what you said about my looking like a hit squad when I came through that door. That's all I wanted to do -- hit someone. If you'd said one wrong word I could have easily killed you."
"But you didn't. Seems that my psychology course has been of some use after all. Now, let's get down to why you are here. It's perfectly obvious to me that you and Ray deserve each other."
"How come you two managed to stick together for so long and then split up?" Bodie asked, somehow aware that Chris wouldn't mind telling him.
Chris sat still, looking into his drink, trying to put into words the reason for their failure.
"Our relationship was, I think, very different from what you two seem to want. It lasted for six years but during that time we both entered into other more casual relationships with girls, though neither of us went with another man. We both got something we needed from our relationship, a kind of stability, some kind of home base. I was away on business a lot, travelling around Britain and Europe, and Ray was always working shifts. Sometimes we wouldn't see each other for a couple of months at a time. Ray had no interest in my business and I couldn't join in with his choice of career. The reason we stayed together so long is because we were comfortable together; everything in our lives just slotted neatly into place. Gradually, though, things began to change. Ray grew up a lot in those six years. He was still very young in some ways when we first met. What really finished it though was Sid Parker."
Bodie knew the name was familiar, Doyle's partner in the police.
"You know that he was murdered?" Chris asked, and Bodie just nodded.
"After his death, Ray really changed. Up until then I still hoped that he would leave the police and come and work with me, but he wouldn't. He really got the bit between his teeth then. Got onto the drugs squad and started thinking seriously about CI5. I knew then that I'd lost him. It was impossible for me to share in the biggest part of his life. I had to just wait for him to come home, knowing that even if he didn't, it could well be days before I knew what happened. I could hardly be put down as his next of kin."
Chris looked up. All the humour of a few moments ago had gone, replaced by a grave expression. "You're very lucky, Bodie. You can share that part of his life in a way that I never could. Don't throw it away. You've both got to try again and keep trying. It'll be worth it in the end."
"You're still very fond of him, aren't you?" Bodie asked softly.
"Yes, I am. That's why I want him to be happy. But even if you two don't manage to get it together, Ray and I won't become lovers again. We'll always be friends I hope, but we've grown too far apart to be lovers again."
Bodie was surprised to realise that he really meant it too.
"What are your plans now?"
"I'm very glad you asked that, Bodie, because if I don't get a move on I am going to miss my plane. I was just through packing when Ray turned up. I'm off back to Brussels for another couple of months. So I will point you in Ray's direction and after that, my friend, everything is up to you."
For a few minutes there was a bustle of activity as Chris got his cases into his car. Pausing outside the room in which Doyle was sleeping, the two men wished each other luck and said goodbye.
"My housekeeper lives in a flat at the back of the house. She'll come in to clear up and lock everything away tomorrow sometime, or rather later on this morning." Halfway down the stair Chris turned back to offer a final piece of advice.
"Don't ever let yourself think you know what Ray is up to because you're bound to be wrong. If ever you're in doubt -- ask him. So far all your mistakes have been caused because you each thought you knew what the other was thinking. You're not telepathic, so remember, when in doubt, speak out."
Chris disappeared down the stairs and out of the door, leaving Bodie standing alone on the landing.
He opened the door and quietly walked in. Ray was asleep, lying sprawled face down on the bed. Bodie tiptoed over to the armchair beside the bed and sat down to wait.
Eventually Doyle stirred. Bodie watched his breathing change rhythm as he began the slow climb to wakefulness. As soon as he saw the relaxed muscles tense he knew Ray was aware that he was there. Neither of them spoke until Doyle turned his head on the pillow to look at him, his face shuttered, prepared for yet another battle. Bodie knew that this was his last chance. If he blew it now that would be it.
"Ray, I'm sorry. I'm a fool and I'm sorry."
Doyle didn't answer. He just kept looking at him.
"Chris telephoned me this morning, told me where you were." His voice trailed off under the probing gaze.
"You've met him then?"
"Yes. He's quite a guy, isn't he?"
Doyle relaxed slightly. Bodie didn't sound like he'd murdered anyone recently.
"Yes, he is."
"He put me straight about a few things."
"You and him. The bloody cat. Us."
Bodie shifted uncomfortably. Unable to look Doyle in the face anymore he moved towards the window, staring out over the garden.
"Yes, us. He told me that if I didn't want to lose you again I was going to have to open up and trust you more -- a lot more."
Doyle sat up in the bed. He watched Bodie's back as he stared out over the gardens.
"I trust you. I just don't understand why you find it so hard to trust me."
The despair in the soft voice made Bodie swing round. The sight of Doyle sitting bare-chested and slightly disheveled against the plush velvet headboard caused his knees to turn to water. To shut out the sight, he closed his eyes and leant back onto the window frame.
"Do you realise that I've worked in CI5 for three years. I haven't left this country once in three years."
Bodie sounded amazed, and Doyle looked on in growing bewilderment as his partner continued.
"I've never spent so long in one place, in the same job or been surrounded by the same people for so long."
"I don't understand. Are you saying you're bored?"
Bodie gave an exasperated snort and moved away from the window, still refusing to look at Doyle.
"No," he said, "I'm not bored."
He came to a halt, obviously mulling over what to say next. Doyle waited.
"Do you remember when I first moved my stuff over to your flat?"
"You asked me why didn't I move all my stuff over. Well -- I had. Everything that I hold precious, everything that means something to me, everything I need to get by was in those two cases."
Doyle swung his legs over the edge of the bed. It was clear that Bodie was building up to something.
"Before joining CI5 I'd never spent more than about a year in any one place or country. Ever since I left home I've always moved around, different jobs, different faces. Even in the Paras and SAS I was moving around, different units, special squads, West Germany, Holland, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland. I learnt never to get attached to anyone. Then when I moved on it wouldn't be such a wrench."
Doyle felt himself go cold.
"Are you telling me that you're getting ready to move on again?"
Bodie collapsed onto the bed beside him. Blindly he put his arms around Doyle, burying his face in the riotous curls.
"No," he cried. "You won't fit in my suitcase, Ray, and I won't leave you behind!"
Returning the desperate hug, Doyle attempted to sort out the confusion in his mind.
"Then what are you trying to tell me?"
"I don't know."
Bodie pulled away slightly but still held onto Doyle's shoulders. "Over the years, whenever I've felt myself getting in too deep I've always drawn back. I force myself to find reasons why I should get out. It's become a habit, a sort of defense mechanism. I do love you and I do trust you. It's just there's a voice, deep down inside me telling me to get out before it's too late."
Doyle felt the love welling up inside him. All this misery and distrust and all because Bodie was too scared to let go and really love someone.
"Then you don't want us to finish? You're not going to go away?" he said softly.
"I don't want to go anywhere. I can't leave you, not now."
"Then there's only one thing that you can do, isn't there, Bodie?"
"What?" The confident smile and look of happiness on Doyle's face was puzzling Bodie.
"You're just going to have to buy a bigger suitcase, aren't you? Because you're going nowhere without me -- ever."
What Doyle was saying slowly penetrated into Bodie's brain.
"Don't just sit there with that stupid grin on your face, Bodie. Say something."
The smile of delight broadened impossibly until it matched the smile on Doyle's face.
"It's Sunday. The shops are shut."
He laughed and hugged Doyle to him.
"A bigger suitcase. I'll have to get it on Monday," Bodie explained patiently.
"What are we going to do today then?" asked Doyle in all innocence.
Their laughter faded away and by degrees their mood changed.
Bodie leant forward and claimed Doyle's mouth in a kiss that was both passionately fierce and gently loving. Then he pulled away.
"We're going to talk to each other, really talk, so we'll never have to go through all this again. And then we're going to make love like there's no tomorrow. Then we'll do some more talking and some more loving and more talk -- "
His words were cut off as Doyle silenced him with his own mouth.
"That sounds just fine. There's just one thing, though."
Doyle sounded faintly worried and Bodie demanded to know what was wrong.
"Nothing's wrong," he was assured. "It's just...well, do you think we could change the programme a bit? You know, make love like there's no tomorrow first and talk afterwards?"
Although Bodie never actually said anything, Doyle got the idea that he'd agreed to his suggestion. As they both surfaced for air, another thought came to the forefront of his mind.
"Where's Chris now?"
His body fast shifting into another gear, Bodie didn't understand the question.
"Chris," Doyle repeated, pushing Bodie away from him. "Where is he?"
"Oh. He's gone." Bodie looked down at his wristwatch. "His flight to Brussels leaves in about ten minutes. He asked me to say goodbye to you."
Bodie bent his head to give Doyle his own version of Chris's goodbye, but before he could say anything, Doyle smiled at him and whispered, "Let's go home, Bodie, now."
Bodie nodded, banking down his rising desire.
In an impossibly short time they were standing at the side of their own bed, staring hungrily at each other. The few inches of air that separated their bodies was almost crackling with anticipation. They regarded each other solemnly, making no move to reach out and touch, their slow burning stares reaching right down into each other's souls.
"It feels so strange," Doyle whispered, his eyes not leaving Bodie's face. I feel like this is the first time I've ever wanted to make love with you."
"Me too." Bodie reached across and traced a line along Doyle's jaw, skimming over the skin and lingering on the moist, slightly parted lips.
"In a way it is our first time. We know more about each other now. Before we only thought we knew. Maybe that's where we went wrong,"
"Third time lucky?" suggested Doyle.
"Luck's got nothing to do with it. I love you and you love me. With those odds, who needs luck."
Doyle lightly grasped Bodie's wrists, stilling the wandering fingers, holding the square strong tips to his mouth, and gently nibbled and kissed each one, closing his eyes and sliding his other arm around Bodie's waist, drawing them together. His hand finally released, Bodie slid both of his arms down the slender frame to rest on the denim clad buttocks. He squeezed and Doyle moaned appreciatively and wriggled slightly, the movement causing their swollen cocks to collide and turn the moan into a gasp. As they brushed their lower bodies together, Doyle wriggled a hand between their close-pressed bodies and began to unbutton Bodie's shirt, his fingers making forays under the material as access became easier.
In response Bodie tugged impatiently at the tee-shirt that Doyle was wearing. They parted to remove the cumbersome articles, shirt and tee-shirt falling into separate heaps on the floor. Through a tangle of arms they managed to undo each other's trousers and draw the fly zips down, the simple action drawing simultaneous sighs of relief as restricting pressure was eased from burgeoning flesh. Doyle stepped back and slid his trousers, down catching pants and socks on the way, he looked back at his partner who had only managed to divest himself of trousers and one sock in the same time and was still bent over removing the second sock, briefs still in place.
Reaching out, Doyle ran his hand down over the curved arse and between the parted legs, applying gentle pressure to the heavy balls stirring beneath the taut fabric. Bodie nearly lost his balance as of its own volition his body pressed down against the firm hand. Standing upright behind Bodie, Doyle took hold of the broad shoulders and pulled them up to stand in front of him. Because of the slight difference in their heights, Doyle's lips caressed the back of the strong neck just below the hairline. As his lips moved over the heated skin all the little hairs stood erect, bristling against his lips, and he pressed his body tightly against the length of Bodie's back, his cock nudging against the silky, nylon-clad buttocks.
Bodie tried to turn around but was held fast by the strong grip on his shoulders. Once Bodie remained still again, Doyle slid his arms around him properly, caressing his neck and shoulders, then sliding them down to fondle the broad, smooth chest that was so unlike his own. Rolling his hips from side to side and pressing his hardness against Bodie, Doyle moved his fingers to circle and rub the stiffly erect nipples. Helpless, Bodie moaned and tipped his head back, resting against the hot, hard body behind him, his arms going back to grasp Doyle's hips, encouraging the gentle rolling motion. Doyle's hands slowly moved downwards, dipping into the shallow navel, the nimble fingers discovering the line of silky fine hair that led the way down to even greater pleasure. As his hands progressed down, so did his mouth as it licked a pathway down Bodie's spine. His hands reached the waist of the briefs and he hurriedly tugged them down, discarding them and then reaching back to their interrupted journey.
Bodie was sure that he wasn't going to last much longer. Doyle was driving him insane with wanting, and his body didn't know which touch to respond to, forwards into the hot tunnel of flesh which held his pulsating sex or backwards onto the moist tongue that was flicking back and forth over his anus.
Doyle rubbed his face over the cheeks of Bodie's arse, his bristly whiskers raising goose bumps on the white skin.
"What do you want?"
"You... I want...you.," Bodie managed to pant out.
The hands that were holding him left and he felt Ray begin to move away.
"No... you. I want...you...in me." Doyle's sex throbbed anew at the husky need evident in Bodie's voice. So far Bodie had never offered this and had always deflected any lovemaking that was heading in that direction. Stretching out, Doyle managed to reach into the bedside cabinet and grab the tube of jelly. Then he steered Bodie onto the bed to lie face down. Quickly he smeared a generous amount onto himself and then began to apply some to Bodie. As soon as his finger touched the pucker of flesh, Bodie pushed up onto it, impaling himself and raising himself to his knees, pushing back and demanding more. Not wanting to rush for Bodie's sake, Doyle took extra care. This was Bodie's first time and he wanted it to be special for him.
A second finger joined the first and still Bodie arched back demanding more. Doyle positioned himself. Feeling the blunt snub of pressure against his skin, Bodie pressed back, taking his lover into himself. Slowly Doyle pushed in. He had to close his eyes to shut out the sight of his body sinking deeper and deeper into Bodie because he wanted to last a bit longer. Reaching beneath Bodie, he grasped the pulsing rod and squeezed it firmly up and down in time with his own sliding movements.
Bodie could feel Ray above him, surrounding him, and piercing him clear through to his soul. He surrendered his body-completely, urging Doyle on and on, forcing him to take more and more. As if from a great distance he felt the explosions that rocked them and the shattering aftershocks that swept over them as they clung together, locked in a moment in time that would always be theirs.
A long, long time later...
"I reckon we qualify for an entry in the Guinness Book of Records."
"What for?" asked Doyle as he nuzzled against Bodie's chest.
"Going at it for so long. I mean, apart from two showers, the odd meal break and a couple of naps between, we've been having our end away for..." Bodie squinted at the clock as he tried to work out the hours involved. "What time did we get back from Chris's?"
"Dunno. I wasn't interested in looking at the clock."
Doyle broke off from his oral examination of Bodie's left nipple long enough to answer.
"Must've been about seven or eight o'clock yesterday morning, and it's now...seven twenty-three, so that makes it about -- Good god, that's nearly twenty four hours!"
"Mmn. Wonder what we could do on a really good day."
Doyle transferred his ministrations to lower down and was pleased to feel a slight response to his busy tongue. There's still life in the old boy, he thought as Bodie surrendered to his touch.
"'Where," Bodie wanted to know, "are we going to find the strength to crawl into work this morning?"
But Doyle, who had been brought up not to speak with his mouth full, declined to answer.
Like Boadicea with her chariot, Flo entered the corridor pushing her loaded trolley in front of her. At the far end of the corridor she could see one of her boys walking towards her, already rifling through his pockets for change.
My, he looked happy this morning, she thought to herself. She watched as he all but bounced down the corridor, his face glowing with health and happiness. As a second-man emerged from one of the offices, Flo was overjoyed to see the first man's happiness mirrored in the sparkling blue eyes. Was everything all right now, she wondered. The two men reached the trolley.
"Two teas, please, Flo," said Doyle as he bent down to look in the cake tray. "Got any goodies? The walking dustbin 'ere thinks he's hungry."
Yes, thought Flo, a definite improvement on the past few weeks.
"Yes, love, take your pick. Doughnut, scones, eclairs."
As Doyle's hand moved to the eclairs, Bodie's voice drifted down to his ears.
"Forget the eclairs, Ray. I don't think I could eat one in public. After last night, if the cream squirted out of the side I'd probably disgrace myself."
Now, people very nearly always make the mistake of assuming that people, like, for example, tea ladies, are blind, deaf, dumb or stupid. Flo was none of these things, and as she saw the crimson flush spread over Doyle's face she fought back the urge to give them both a motherly hug and wish them well.
Settling for two scones, Doyle paid up and unceremoniously pushed his partner away up the corridor. Flo watched her boys, the innocent look on Bodie's face and the outraged, embarrassed but happy expression on Doyle's making her feel quite gooey and sentimental. Rousing herself from her daydreams, Flo glanced into one of the open doorways in time to see the Boss himself, George Cowley, looking similarly sentimental at the departing duo. Over the top of the tea urn they locked gazes, exchanged knowing smiles, and then turned away to get on with their work.
-- THE END --