Trifles and Confirmations


Trifles light as air
Are to the jealous confirmations strong
As proofs of holy writ.

‘Othello’ - William Shakespeare

Ray Doyle gave out a heartfelt groan and flopped thankfully onto the sofa. "Christ, it's good to be home," he sighed. The fact that he was actually in Bodie's flat and not his own was irrelevant. He and his partner had always been just as much at home in each other's flats as they were in their own, a feeling that had only increased with the new direction that their relationship had gradually taken over the past year. He tipped his head back against the soft cushions and watched from heavily-lidded eyes as Bodie dumped his holdall inside the door and made his way across to the kitchen.

"Hungry?" Bodie enquired as he passed, subjecting Doyle to a quick, all-over glance which was no doubt intended to look innocent but was revealed for what it really was by the obvious concern in his eyes.

"Not really," Doyle replied, attempting to stifle a yawn as he spoke. "More knackered than anything. Can never get a decent night's kip in bloody hospitals. I swear they make some of those nurses wear hobnail boots."

"Only the kinky ones, sunshine." Bodie grinned as he joined his partner on the sofa. He rested a hand on Doyle's thigh and rubbed gently. "I'm glad you're back, Ray."

Doyle smiled back at him. "Yeah, so am I. Always did hate solo ops. Even worse now…"

Bodie leaned forward and kissed him softly. "Didn't have to go and prolong the agony by getting concussion and spending two nights in hospital though, did you?" he complained, with just the slightest hint of amusement in his voice.

"Terribly sorry. I'll have to try and remember not to get my head kicked in next time. Can't have Sir missing out on his conjugals, can we?"

"I should think not. What's the world coming to when a man can't rely on his conjugals, eh?" Bodie stole another quick kiss before pushing himself up from his seat. "Sure you don't want something?" he asked as he made his way towards the kitchen. "I'm starving."

"No, you go ahead. You could make us a cuppa." Doyle raised his voice as his partner disappeared from sight. "What's the Cow had you doing while I've been away then?" he asked.

"Babysitting," came the shouted reply. "Two bloody weeks of it. Hardly set foot in this place during all that time. Nearly drove me crazy."

Doyle rested his head back against the sofa again and listened to the noises emanating from the kitchen as Bodie clattered around, allowing himself a small smile as the sound of the other man singing softly to himself reached his ears. They had a good thing going, him and Bodie. Partners and friends for four years, there were no surprises left for either of them when they had eventually taken that extra step and become lovers just five months earlier. Not for the first time in the course of the past three weeks, Doyle wondered at Cowley's decision to send them on separate assignments. It was only the second time since they'd been partnered that it had happened, and he could not shake off the thought that the old man suspected something. It was just the sort of reaction that Doyle would expect from him if he ever were to discover the change in their relationship. Doyle knew that they would have to deal with the situation sooner rather than later, but their newly discovered attraction towards each other was something that they were still coming to terms with, and as yet they had no wish to let anyone else in on their secret. In fact, if he was entirely honest with himself, the secrecy added a strange sort of excitement to the whole situation for him.

Bodie was still popular with women – nothing had changed about that. What had changed was his lover's response to the signals that were invariably put out by the females who crossed Bodie's path. The polite but firm rebuffs that left these would-be admirers disappointed and more than a little bewildered never failed to send a little shiver of anticipation down his spine, followed as they always were by a sly wink and a quick grin aimed in his own direction. He still found it difficult to accept the fact that Bodie was his, and his alone, despite the other man’s constant assurances, but it was what he'd been waiting for all his life and so it seemed, to his continuing amazement, had Bodie.

The smell of frying bacon wafting from the kitchen brought his thoughts back to the present. He briefly toyed with the idea of eating something before deciding that a shower and then sleep were his main priorities, and he dragged himself wearily off the sofa and over to the door of the kitchen. The sight of his lover tucking into a bacon sarnie at least four inches thick caused him to laugh out loud.

Bodie looked back at him innocently. "What?" he mumbled. "'s lovely, this. Sure you don't want one? Here's your tea."

Doyle smiled and shook his head as he took the proffered mug. "I'm gonna have a shower while you're feeding your face, okay?"

"Mmmnnhhm," came the unintelligible reply as Bodie tackled his sandwich once more. Doyle continued to grin to himself as he entered the bedroom. If it ever came down to a toss up between him and a bacon sarnie, he wouldn't like to bet on which one Bodie would choose.

He took a mouthful of tea, set his mug down on the bedside cabinet and looked longingly at the bed. He was so damned tired that he could just crawl in as he was and bugger the shower. That wouldn't do though; his personal hygiene over the past three weeks had of necessity been patchy to say the least, and he had no intention of submitting Bodie to the dubious delights of a less than fragrant bedmate. Leaving his clothes where they dropped he carried his tea to the bathroom, slurping at it noisily as he went.

He considered his reflection in the mirror as the shower heated up, surprised at how totally exhausted he looked. Not that he should have been, considering that he felt like death warmed up. A shave was needed, no doubt about that. And about twelve hours of solid, uninterrupted sleep. Deciding that the shave could wait until the morning he slipped under the relaxing spray of hot water and allowed the tingling sensation of warmth to cascade over him as he leant against the tiles. The click of the opening door hardly registered with him as he stood immobile under the water. His eyes were just closing as the shower curtain was pulled briefly to one side and the solid figure of his naked partner slid into the shower behind him.

"Thought you were eating," he murmured, catching his breath as two muscular arms encircled him.

"Finished," came the low reply in his ear. "Fancied a bit of dessert."

Doyle sighed as a hand was wrapped around his cock and he felt the involuntary response as it twitched in Bodie's grasp. "Don't think I'm up to much tonight, mate. Too bloody knackered." He knew it was a feeble protest, said without any conviction; even as the words left his lips he could feel his cock growing harder and he groaned at the familiar sensation as his lover's hand began to slowly trace the length of it.

"That doesn't feel knackered to me," Bodie's voice in his ear smugly contradicted as the hand on Doyle's cock increased the strength of its grip and quickened its stroke. Doyle groaned again as he rested his head back onto Bodie's shoulder, exposing his neck to a series of delicious little nips that travelled from his collarbone to his earlobe. He gave himself up completely to the combined sensuousness of the hot water upon his skin, the press of the other man's hardness against his backside, and the ministrations of Bodie's more than capable hand upon his cock. Just a few luxurious seconds later, however, he felt himself released and he gave a small cry of complaint as he reached out to bring his lover's hand back again. Instead Bodie placed both hands upon his shoulders.

"Turn around, Ray," Bodie whispered, barely audible above the hiss of the shower. "Turn around and touch me."

Doyle opened his eyes as he turned and drank in the sight of Bodie's nakedness, feeling himself harden even more as Bodie's cock brushed against his own, and his gaze followed the rivulets of water on the other man's body as they traced a path downwards. They reached for each other simultaneously, each of them gasping with pleasure at the other's touch. As Bodie's arm snaked around his waist and held him tightly, Doyle's free hand strayed upwards to thread itself in the dampness of his lover's hair and pull him closer. They were both oblivious to the streams of water which cascaded over their faces as they kissed, conscious only of the taste of each other and the increasingly frantic rhythm of each other's strokes.

The kiss had barely ended when Bodie shuddered and came in Doyle's hand, sinking his teeth into the other man's shoulder as he slumped forward with a groan. It was all Doyle needed to precipitate his own climax and he clung to the solid frame of his lover as his semen spilled over Bodie's fingers and was immediately washed away. He stretched out a hand towards the tiled wall and steadied himself, as Bodie remained sagged against him, breathing heavily. As his own breathing evened out Doyle felt Bodie's grip on him relax.

"Three weeks is too bloody long," Bodie groaned as he straightened up. He leant forwards and kissed Doyle briefly. "Think I'm becoming addicted to you. Can't go that long without you any more."

Doyle grinned lazily back and replied with an equally brief kiss. "I dunno. A homecoming like that almost makes it worthwhile being away."

Despite his previous weariness – and especially despite the exertions that had taken place in the shower - Doyle felt surprisingly refreshed as he re-entered the bedroom, and he heard his stomach growl as the lingering odour of Bodie's culinary efforts reached his nostrils. Wondering if he could prevail upon his partner to provide him with a sarnie of similar proportions after all, he bent to gather up the rather unsavoury collection of clothing that was currently occupying the centre of the room, and as he reached to pick up one trainer that had somehow managed to make its way under the bed a flash of colour caught his eye, a vivid orange against the bottle green of the bedroom carpet. Intrigued, he forgot the trainer entirely and stretched to grasp whatever it was that was lying under the bed, looking oddly out of place in Bodie's normally tidy bedroom.

As he straightened up he studied the scrap of material that he held in his hand, reluctant to believe at first the evidence of his own eyes. That the article in question was made of silk was obvious to the touch. He turned it over in his hand, the swirls of the paisley-type pattern upon the material suddenly seeming to reflect the churning of his stomach. It was a lady's scarf, and a bloody expensive one at that - "Hermes" according to the label which was rapidly being crushed in his fist. The pile of clothing which he held under his arm dropped to the floor again as he stared at the scrap of silk in disbelief, aware of a growing feeling of nausea welling up inside him. Without realising that he'd moved he suddenly found himself back in the bathroom and on the receiving end of an appreciative leer from his partner as Bodie towelled himself dry.

"Christ, you're not back for more, are you? Bloody insatiable, you are…"

Oblivious to his nakedness Doyle thrust the offending article into the other man's face. "What the fuck's this?" he demanded. The smirk upon Bodie's face disappeared immediately.

"What's what?" Bodie fingered the scarf tentatively. "Ray? What's up?"

"It was under the fucking bed. OUR fucking bed. For fuck's sake, Bodie. Three weeks I was gone. Three bloody weeks! Couldn't get a woman in here quick enough, could you?"

Bodie's expression blackened as he caught hold of Doyle's wrist. "I don't know what the fuck you're going on about, Ray. What is it, anyway? I've never seen the bloody thing before in my life."

"It's a woman's scarf. And as neither of us are in the habit of wearing such things, I think I can safely assume that there's been a woman in here. In the bedroom, to be precise."

Bodie's jaw dropped as the accusation being levelled against him sank in. "Ray, for Christ's sake…"

"How could you, Bodie? After everything we said, too. And I almost bloody believed you as well." Doyle ran a shaky hand through his still damp hair.

"Ray, I've never…" Bodie stopped as his eyes finally focussed upon the wildly patterned article that was being waved frantically in front of him. "No, hang on a minute. I have seen it before. It was…"

"You're not even going to deny it, are you? You make me fucking sick. How the hell did I ever think that you could change?"

Bodie flinched involuntarily as the scarf was flung in his face and Doyle turned on his heel, stalking back to the bedroom and slamming the door behind him with a resounding crash. Bodie stooped and picked the silken scrap up from the floor, screwing it into a ball in his fist as he looked at the determinedly closed bedroom door that separated him from his partner. Crossing the passageway, he threw the door open and watched as the other man struggled into the dirty clothes that he had recently discarded.

"Ray, it's not what it looks like…" Bodie entered the bedroom and grasped at his lover's arm, only to lose his grip as Doyle pulled away violently. "Ray!" he began again. "Just calm down and listen to me!" The face of his partner was barely recognisable as Doyle whirled to confront him, and Bodie involuntarily took a step back as the full force of the other man's fury was directed at him.

"Listen to you? That's a good one. I listened to you once before, remember? Right there in that bloody bed. 'Nobody else, Ray'. Remember?"

Bodie did remember. How could ever forget? For the first time in his life he'd pledged himself to another human being, uttering promises of fidelity and commitment that he had never spoken to another soul before. And now it was all being thrown back in his face. The feelings of confusion and hurt that Doyle's accusations had aroused began to drain swiftly away as a rapidly growing sense of outrage took their place. He reached out again for Doyle's arm and this time his grip was like iron.

"You will fucking listen to me!" he hissed. "We're supposed to trust each other, for Christ's sake! Is that really what you think of me? That I'd go off with somebody else the first time your back's turned?"

For one brief second the fire in Doyle's eyes died and he looked back at Bodie almost pleadingly. But then his temper flared again and he struggled to get loose. "You forget how long I've known you, Bodie. Seen all your little games before, haven't I? Seen you stringing two or more birds along at the same time and not giving a shit about any of them. Well, that's not gonna happen to me, sunshine. All or nothing. Told you that right from the start."

"Are you going to shut up long enough for me to say something?" Bodie's voice began to increase in volume as his temper rose to match that of his partner.

"Not interested in anything you've got to say. And get your fucking hands off me." Doyle wrested his arm once more from Bodie's hold and pulled his still-fastened shirt over his head, turning his back on his erstwhile lover as he tucked it into the waistband of his jeans.

The action infuriated Bodie. "You self-centred, arrogant little sod," he yelled. "Got it all worked out, haven't you? Bodie's a prize arsehole. Don't believe a word he tells you. Only to be expected when he lets you down. Well, let me tell you something. I meant every bloody word I said to you. Still mean it, though Christ knows why I'd want to. And if you're too bloody stupid to realise it then I don't know why I bother."

Doyle's back remained resolutely turned towards him throughout his tirade, and in the face of his indifference Bodie gave full rein to his temper. "There's not even any point in me trying to explain anything to you, is there? You've already got it cut and dried in that tiny little mind of yours. Well, if that's the way you want it, mate, you can just bloody well get on with it."

As he paused for breath the echo of his noisy outburst reverberated around the tiny bedroom. At last Doyle turned to face him and the pair stood glaring at each other in seemingly mutual hatred for several seconds before a discordant whine gradually began to impinge upon both their consciousnesses. Pointedly ignoring the intrusive beeping noise, Bodie opened his mouth to continue his verbal assault but was forestalled by a nod of his partner's head. "You'd better get that before half of CI5 descends on the place," Doyle observed coldly.

"Fuck it," Bodie muttered as he stormed from the room to find his R/T.

Doyle stood his ground, hands on hips, as he listened to the murmured one-sided conversation coming from the living room, his years of training kicking in as he waited to find out the reason for Bodie's summons despite every other instinct screaming at him to get as far away from the bastard as possible. He heard his partner sign off, followed by another mumble of "Fuck it", and then Bodie suddenly appeared in the doorway. The clothes that he'd thrown carelessly onto the bed in his hurry to share his lover's shower were pulled on again with grim determination, and he swore again loudly as he wrestled with an uncooperative sleeve of his jacket. His face was still a picture of rage as he glared at Doyle. "Don't you move from here," he ordered with a scowl. "We've got some sorting out to do when I get back." And with that he turned on his heel and disappeared from sight.

"I'll bloody go if I…" Doyle began, only to be interrupted by the slamming of the front door. "…want to." He stood, not moving for a while as a new feeling of resentment towards his partner began to arise. Trust Bodie to get himself called out just when he was in the mood for a bloody good fight.

The absurdity of the thought did not even occur to him in the midst of his anger. Pulling on his trainers he strode into the living room and looked around for his jacket. If Bodie thought he was just going to hang around here waiting for him he had another think coming. What would be the point anyway? Everything was over between them. There was nothing that Bodie could say to put things right. It was lucky that he had been ordered to take the next two days off sick; he didn't think he could have faced having to work with the other man without having had time to sort out in his mind exactly how their working relationship was going to fare.

Now that he was alone and the object of his fury was out of sight, Doyle suddenly felt completely exhausted. God knows he'd felt knackered enough before all this blew up, now he felt dead on his feet. He shrugged into his jacket and felt in his pocket for his car keys, swearing under his breath as he suddenly remembered that they had come from the hospital in Bodie's car and that his own Capri was at that moment sitting in the CI5 car pool. Checking his watch he was surprised at the lateness of the hour; the tubes and buses would be long finished, and getting a taxi would be a lottery at this time of night. And the way he felt meant that walking the four or so miles to his flat was definitely not an option.

So it looked as though he would have to spend the night here after all. The thought infuriated him all over again. Tearing off his jacket he flung it across the room and stomped back into the bedroom, only to come to a sudden halt just inside the doorway as his eyes alighted on the bed and the enormity of the situation suddenly struck him. To his disgust he felt a tell-tale seizing up of his throat and a prickling behind his eyes. The bloody bed – nothing special about it, not king-sized, not one of those monstrosities with built-in radios and lights in the headboard – just an ordinary double bed.

But Bodie had made promises in that bed. Promises that Doyle had desperately wanted to believe that the other man would keep. The whole backbone of their relationship – both professional and personal – was based on mutual trust and honesty, and Doyle had never had reason to doubt his partner’s word before. But when Bodie had told him that there would be nobody else Doyle’s delight at his words had been tempered with amazement at the fact that his partner would ever utter such a thing to anyone, let alone to him. Doyle had, in fact, been waiting for the right time to broach the subject of exclusivity himself; had been building himself up to saying something to the other man for weeks, and when Bodie had beaten him to it he had been utterly gobsmacked. Oh, he wasn't naive enough to think for one moment that Bodie's feelings for him would ever run as deeply as those he had for his partner, but Bodie's promise had been enough for him for now. Enough to be getting on with...

He banished the memory before he lost his composure completely. There was no way he could sleep in that fucking bed now – the mental image of Bodie and some anonymous woman writhing upon it assaulted his senses, made him feel physically sick. Retracing his steps he made his way back to the living room, collecting a blanket from the airing cupboard as he passed. The sofa would have to do him for tonight; he'd grab a few hours and hopefully be out of the place before Bodie got back from wherever he'd slunk off to. Punching the cushions into place beneath his head he stretched out along the length of the sofa, draped the blanket roughly over himself, and waited for sleep to overtake him at last.

But his mind was still racing, despite both his physical and mental exhaustion. He tossed and turned relentlessly, as far as he was able to within the narrow confines of his makeshift bed, but every time he closed his eyes his mind was assailed by memories. And yet if he opened his eyes the memories were still there; the entire flat was a constant reminder of all that had taken place between them; the echoes of their lovemaking seemed to linger in every corner of the place.

He cursed as he sat up and checked his watch again. It was still far too bloody early to leave; it wouldn't even be daylight for two more hours yet. As soon as it was he'd be off; once out of here and back in his own flat he might be able to get his brain unscrambled a bit. Extricating himself from the blanket, he stretched and wandered into the kitchen, automatically picking up the kettle as he passed. He gave an ironic snort as he turned the tap on to fill it. The Englishman's answer to all his problems - your granny's just died; make a cup of tea. Your house has been burgled; make a cup of tea. The man you love has been fucking some woman behind your back; make a cup...

And he did love Bodie. He must do, mustn't he, if the bastard was making him feel like this? He rummaged amongst the detritus of the meal that Bodie had made earlier, found himself a clean mug, made his tea, returned to his place on the sofa and closed his eyes wearily as he sunk into the cushions.

When next he opened them he was startled to find the sun streaming in through the curtains and his tea standing cold and untouched on the floor beside him. He rubbed at his eyes and attempted to pull himself together. This wasn't the way he'd planned things at all. At least Bodie wasn't back yet, that was one thing he was grateful for. There was no need for him to search the flat to confirm that fact – he knew beyond doubt that he would not have been allowed to carry on sleeping if his erstwhile lover had returned.

He uncurled himself with a grunt from his cramped position on the sofa and got stiffly to his feet, stretching his back as he rose. He couldn't believe that he'd slept as long as he had, not after all the turmoil of the previous night. For a moment he was almost inclined to believe that he'd dreamt the whole thing, but he knew that he was deluding himself, clutching at straws. Something was different this morning, though. The anger had died down, leaving a kind of numbness in its wake. No longer did he have the overwhelming desire to smash Bodie in the face. Instead there was one word churning over and over in his brain and he was powerless to stop it. Why?

He'd revised his plan. He was staying put. His first instinct may have been to run, but that would solve nothing. He had no illusions about himself; he knew that he was a selfish bastard. He also knew that he wanted Bodie and he was fucked if he was going to give him up without a fight. Not until he'd heard it from Bodie himself that Bodie no longer wanted him. And so he waited – waited for Bodie's return, or a phone call, or a summons on his RT. By midday he was nearly climbing the walls. By two pm he was on the tube en route to HQ.

The corridors of CI5 were surprisingly quiet as he made his way to the rest room. A quick search of the building had failed to unearth his partner or, indeed, anybody who had the faintest idea where said partner might be. The obvious solution, of course, would be to subject Betty to his persuasive charms and attempt to inveigle the information out of her, but to do that he would have to stray rather too near to Cowley's office and he felt it prudent to stay out of the old man's sight as long as he possibly could. The lack of personnel in the place could only mean that there was a big op on somewhere and he was under no illusions that he would be press-ganged into service if he was spotted, sick leave or no sick leave. The rest room door served as an outlet for his frustrations as he crashed noisily into the room which, to his surprise, was not as deserted as he'd expected. The sole occupant of the room swore loudly as Doyle grinned at him.

"Sorry, Murph. Did I wake you?" Doyle asked with mock concern.

"Nearly gave me a bloody heart attack," the other agent grumbled. "What are you doing here, anyway? Thought you were on sick leave."

"I am. Where is everyone? This place is like the bloody Marie Celeste."

Murphy shrugged in reply. "Haven't got a clue. I'm as much in the dark as you are."

"Must be something big. How come you're not out there then?"

"The old man wants me to pick Bodie up. Just waiting for the word."

Doyle all but bit his tongue to stop himself asking the obvious question. He slowly crossed the room and picked up a copy of The Sun, tossing it back down onto the table in disgust as he realised that it was three days old. "So what's been going on while I've been away?" he asked, still trying to maintain an air of indifference. "Any idea of what Bodie's been working on? I didn't get a chance to ask him before he got called out."

The knowing grin that appeared on Murphy's face left Doyle in no doubt that the other man hadn't been taken in for one minute by his supposedly casual questions. Cursing silently he found himself wondering whether he should be adding Murphy's name to that of Cowley's on his mental list of those who just might have put two and two together where he and Bodie were concerned.

"Babysitting," Murphy replied matter-of-factly, the grin still in place. "Some South American diplomat's wife. There was a military coup back in her country and some threats were made against her and her husband. She was over here visiting relatives at the time, so naturally we became involved. Seemed to get on pretty well with her, according to him. Randy sod."

Doyle felt his insides clench as the memory of the previous night came back with a vengeance. He turned his back on his colleague as Murphy continued to speak.

"Mind you, what an opportunity. He was practically living with the woman for two whole weeks in one safehouse or another. Just the two of them. And it seems that he was quite the blue-eyed boy. Nobody else but 3.7 would do for the dear lady, apparently."

Murphy's voice became a drone in the background as the full implications of his words hit Doyle like a sledgehammer. No need for him to wonder any more exactly who it was that had taken his place in his partner's bed, then. There was a roaring in his ears as the need to get away overwhelmed him; he needed to be on his own, to think and, above all, decide what the hell he was going to do about this whole mess. And he also knew for a fact that if Murph didn't shut up pretty soon he'd probably end up thumping him. Turning abruptly on his heel he stalked across the room to the door without a second glance in the other man's direction.

"Hey, hang on a minute! Don't you want to know where…" Murphy's words were lost in the confusion as Doyle flung the door open and strode headlong into the oncoming figure of George Cowley.

"Watch where you're going, man," hissed the Scot as he grabbed at the doorframe for support. His eyes widened as he took in the identity of his assailant. "Doyle! What the devil are you doing here?"

For a second Doyle could only gape back at him. "I…er…Something I needed to collect from my locker, sir," he stammered eventually. "Just on my way now, sir." His arm was taken in a firm grip as he attempted to pass.

"How's the concussion?"

"Fine, sir. No problem. I'll be reporting back for duty on…"

"Are you well enough to drive?" the older man interrupted.

"Drive? Well, I…Yes, I suppose so." He inwardly threw every curse known to man at George Cowley and CI5; trust Cowley to land him with a job now when he shouldn't even be here and when he was barely thinking straight enough to place one foot in front of the other, let alone concentrate on anything else. Fucking typical…

"Good. You can go and pick that partner of yours up and save Murphy the trouble. I've got more important things for him to do."

Doyle knew a brief moment of blind panic. Maybe it was too soon. Maybe he should avoid Bodie for a couple of days; give himself a chance to think everything through, to work out exactly what he wanted to say to the bastard. "Sir, I don't think…" he began.

A manilla folder was thrust into his hands. "Give that to 3.7. Tell him I'll need his report by this time tomorrow."

He tried again. "Sir, I…"

"Murphy, you come with me." Cowley was already moving away from him along the corridor. "Get a move on, 4.5. Bodie should be ready for discharge by the time you get there."

His jaw dropped as Cowley rounded a corner and disappeared from sight. "Discharge?" he squeaked at Murphy as the other agent drew alongside.

Murphy nodded. "Didn't give me a chance to tell you, did you? He's in Guy's. Stab wound. Nothing serious, just needed a few stitches. Pumped full of painkillers though, so he's too groggy to drive. Saved the lady's life apparently – bet she'll be grateful, eh, Ray?" He winked evilly then rolled his eyes heavenwards as his name was bellowed from what seemed like the bowels of the earth. "Trust you to come along when you did," he hissed. "Was on for a cushy number and an early finish. God knows what I'm in for now." He slapped Doyle on the back as he passed, knocking the folder that the other man held to the floor as he did so.

A single photo skittered out across the floor and Doyle stooped to collect it. The photo was of a woman; somewhere in her early to mid-seventies, he would guess, expensively dressed, and with an open, pleasant expression upon her face. She looked for all the world like everybody's favourite grandma. "Murph!" he called as the other agent rapidly made his way along the corridor. He held the photo aloft. "Who's this?"

"That's her. Senora Garcia something-or-other," Murphy replied, retracing his footsteps slightly. "Bodie's babysitting job. Not bad for an old girl, eh? I reckon Bodie's on to a good thing there." He laughed raucously and dug Doyle in the ribs.

Doyle, unfortunately, did not share his amusement. He grabbed Murphy by the sleeve and held on tightly as his colleague made to move away. "Just what do you mean by that?" he demanded, unable to keep a faint snarl out of his voice.

Murphy looked back at him wide-eyed, all trace of laughter gone from his face. "Nothing, Ray," he stammered. "A joke, that's all. Jesus Christ…" He knocked the other man's hand away and adjusted his jacket. "Only a bit of a bloody laugh, that's all. Bodie and the old girl got on like a house on fire. We've all been pulling his leg about it. Being her toy-boy and all that. None of us really thought that they were…well, y'know." His expression suddenly changed and he looked at Doyle questioningly. Doyle could practically see the cogs going around in his brain. "What the hell's up, Ray?"

Doyle shook his head and gestured toward the exit with a sigh. "Nothing, Murph. Get going before the Cow has your guts for garters." Murphy raised a quizzical eyebrow in reply, then shrugged and turned on his heel, leaving Doyle alone and still staring at the photograph. And as he subjected the photo to a closer examination, he suddenly felt as though he'd been hit in the face with a sackload of bricks, for this time his eyes were drawn to the item of clothing that the subject was wearing around her neck.

"You fucking idiot, Doyle," he muttered under his breath. He'd done it again; jumped in with both feet and landed in a pile of shit. Only this time he'd taken his relationship with Bodie – the most important thing in his life – with him. He studied the face on the photo once more. "How the hell am I going to put this one right?" he asked it.

Doyle collected his car from the car pool and pulled out into the London traffic. The congestion in this part of the capital was getting worse with each passing month, it seemed. The journey to Guy's Hospital took three times as long as he would have anticipated, and he could only imagine his partner's growing impatience as he sat in the uncomfortable and unfriendly waiting room. But at least the length of the journey and the fact that he was rarely able to get his speed up above twenty did give him plenty of time to consider his predicament.

The thought of Bodie getting up to anything with the woman in the photograph was nothing short of ridiculous, he knew that. And yet he could well imagine the lady's reaction to his partner. He'd seen Bodie in action with ladies of a "certain age" before; charming, solicitous, and exuding just the right amount of flirtatiousness to make them feel young again. He considered his reflection in the rear view mirror as he waited in yet another traffic jam and made the only decision that he could; saying sorry did not come easily to him but for Bodie he would grovel like nobody had ever grovelled before.

Bodie was stretched out on a hard, plastic chair in a corridor when Doyle spied him; head back against the wall, eyes closed, and legs fully extended causing people to walk around him as they passed like some sort of traffic island. Doyle felt a pang of anguish cut through him as he took in the too-pale features and the frown lines between the other man's brows, the result, he knew only too well, of the pain his partner's injury must have caused him. He slid quietly into the vacant chair beside Bodie. "Hello, sunshine," he said softly. "I've come to take you home."

Bodie's eyes remained closed, an eloquent sigh the only indication that he'd heard Doyle's words. "What are you doing here? Thought Murph was picking me up."

"He got tied up with something else. I was available, so…" His voice faded away as Bodie finally turned to look at him. The look in his eyes made Doyle's heart sink.

"Let's go then," Bodie said matter-of-factly. He stood awkwardly and winced slightly before turning away and striding towards the exit doors. Doyle curbed his inclination to run and catch up with him and remained several paces behind as they left the building. Bodie turned to look at him and he gestured to the far corner of the car park.

"Car's over there," he said in answer to the unspoken question. Then Bodie was off again, leaving Doyle in his wake once more. This time Doyle did break into a run, reaching the Capri just ahead of the other man and unlocking the passenger door for him. Bodie snatched the door open without a second glance at his partner and eased himself into the seat with difficulty, a barely stifled grunt of pain the only sound to escape from his lips.

Doyle loped around to the other side and got in to find that Bodie had taken up the same eyes-closed, head-back position that he had in the hospital. Doyle put the key in the ignition, turned in his seat to face the other man and waited. Eventually Bodie broke the silence. "What's the delay?" he asked abruptly.

"We're not going anywhere until we've had a talk."

Bodie almost snapped to attention in his seat. "Talk?" he spluttered. "I was trying to talk to you last night, remember? Only you weren't listening."

Doyle took a deep breath. "I know. I'm sorry."

Bodie's eyes widened in mock amazement. "Bloody hell. This must be a day that'll go down in history. Raymond Doyle apologising to me!" At any other time Doyle knew that such a remark would have been accompanied by a grin. This time, however, Bodie's voice was heavy with bitterness and sarcasm.

"You've every right to be pissed off with me," he replied quietly. "I've been a right prat, Bodie. I'm sorry."

The silence in the car was overwhelming as Doyle waited for the other man's response. Bodie said nothing as his eyes scanned every detail of his partner's face before looking up to meet Doyle's gaze. "And what did it take to convince you that you're a prat?" he asked eventually, his tone still cool.

"I saw her photo – the old dear that you were babysitting. I knew that you couldn't have…"

Bodie looked back at him in amazement before laughing harshly. "Oh, so because she's no spring chicken you knew that I couldn't possibly have been unfaithful to you. On the other hand, if she'd been thirty years old and gorgeous then you still would have thought that I'd been up to something!"

"No! That's not what I meant at all…Christ, I don't know what I meant…"

Bodie shook his head and rubbed his face wearily. "Just take me home, Ray. I'm too bloody tired for all this right now."


"Drop it, Ray."

Doyle keyed the ignition and gnawed on his lower lip as he eased the car out of the car park. He'd been a fool to think that a simple apology would be enough to make things right between them. For the first time he actually began to wonder if things would ever be right again.

The journey back to Bodie's flat was conducted in total silence and Bodie's eyes remained closed all the way. Doyle wasn't sure whether he was feigning sleep or not; nevertheless he knew that his partner was as alert as he was himself, a fact that was proved by Bodie's opening of the door as soon as they pulled up at the kerb.

"Thanks for the lift." Bodie's voice was calm and completely without emotion. As he moved to leave the car Doyle reached over and grabbed him by the arm. "Hang on a minute. Can I come up?"

Bodie turned and regarded him coldly. "Is there any fucking point?"

It was too much for the famous Doyle temper. "Yes, there's every fucking point!" He took a deep breath. "Look, I know that this is all my bloody fault but I want to get it sorted. And I hoped that you would do too." His eyes met those of the other man and he waited, for minutes it seemed, while Bodie's gaze weighed him up.

"All right then," Bodie eventually replied. Doyle sat motionless in the car as Bodie eased himself out of the vehicle and slammed the door behind him. He waited until Bodie had entered the building before following him, sprinting up the stairs to find the door left open for him. He entered the flat to find his partner surveying the state of the place in dismay. Words were unnecessary as Bodie raised his arms despairingly. Doyle looked around, taking in the unwashed cups and plates on the coffee table, the pile of blankets on the sofa, and the newspapers scattered around the floor. "Sorry," he mumbled, moving to pick up the newspapers. "Never thought about tidying up. I'll just…" The newspaper was barely in his hand before it was ripped from his grasp.

"For Christ's sake, Doyle! Just bloody leave it. Say what you've got to say and then go."

Doyle opened his mouth to speak but the words would not come. Instead he sank onto the sofa and watched dejectedly as Bodie moved awkwardly around the room, determined it seemed to do anything rather than meet his gaze. Eventually Doyle could stand the silence no longer. "I don't know what I can say or do to make things right again between us," he croaked.

He waited for a response; it was at least a minute before Bodie finally relented and looked at him. The anger was no longer there; instead there was a sadness in his partner's expression that Doyle had never seen before. He took a deep breath. "I do know that I don't want to lose you. I know I've never said anything, about the way I feel and all that, but…" The words trailed off into silence as Bodie crossed the room to stand in front of him. Doyle stood and faced him, his eyes raking the other man's face, desperate for any sign that Bodie was prepared to give him another chance.

There was a faint tremor in Bodie's voice when he spoke. "If you don't trust me, Ray, then we may as well finish it now," he said quietly.

"Bodie, I…"

"I trust you, Ray. Why can't you trust me?"

"I just…I do trust you, it's just…"

"What? I told you there'd be nobody else, didn't I? Why don't you believe me?"

Doyle ran a shaky hand through his hair and raised his eyes heavenwards. "Can't believe that I'd be enough for you, I suppose. That I'm enough to keep you happy. Not much of a catch, am I?"

"Enough for me…" Bodie reached out and grabbed Doyle's arms, gripping the sleeves of his shirt like a vice. "You stupid bloody idiot. I'm not interested in anybody else. I love you, Ray, surely you'd realised that?"

Doyle's intake of breath was audible. "You…"

Bodie's arms dropped to his sides. "I thought…I hoped…that you might... y'know…"

"Love you?"

Bodie nodded. It suddenly struck Doyle that he'd never seen his partner look so vulnerable in all the years that he'd known him. "Bloody hell, Bodie," he whispered.

For a second Bodie looked back at him expectantly, and then Doyle saw his expression begin to change as one second stretched to two and then three, and the hopeful gleam in his partner's eyes began to dim. It was a sight that galvanised him into action. His hand snaked out, captured Bodie by the back of his neck and pulled him into a searing kiss. It seemed to catch Bodie briefly off guard, but the momentary lack of response only served to intensify Doyle's efforts. And then Bodie was clinging to him like a drowning man, hands twisting in the material of his shirt, kissing him with such ferocity that Doyle was almost knocked off his feet. He reciprocated just as fiercely, tasting blood as his tongue delved into his lover's mouth, not knowing which of them had suffered the cut lip.

Eventually they had to break apart as the need to breathe became unavoidable, their bodies remaining locked together as they gasped in lungfuls of air. Bodie groaned as he buried his face in Doyle's curls, one hand coming up to caress his face.

"Don't need to wonder anymore, do you, sunshine?" Doyle murmured breathlessly. "About how I feel?" He felt the shake of Bodie's head against the side of his face. "Come on then. Let me show you properly."

Doyle led the way into the bedroom in silence but froze as his eyes alighted upon the multi-coloured scrap of silk that was still lying where he had thrown it on the previous day.

It was Bodie who reached past him to pick it up. "Don't you want to know how it got here?" he asked quietly.

Doyle shook his head. "Doesn't matter."

"We were on our way to one of the safehouses when the call came through that the location had been compromised," Bodie continued, ignoring his partner's response. "We were only fifteen minutes away from here, and the flat seemed as good a place as any to bring her until the panic died down. The excitement got a bit too much for her though – she needed to rest so I offered her the bed."

Doyle took the scarf from him and studied it. "If I ever act so bloody stupid again you can shoot me, okay?"

"I'll never give you reason to, just remember that. I never have given you reason to, Ray, believe me. Never so much as looked at anyone else since the day I realised how I felt..."

Doyle looked up at him. "Just never had anyone love me that much before, I suppose," he replied quietly. "Takes a bit of getting used to."

"Well, you can start getting used to it right now, because nothing's going to change."

A trace of a smile began to appear on Doyle's face as Bodie reached out and started to unbutton his shirt. "Throw that bloody thing away, Ray, and let's go to bed."

As the shirt was pushed back off his shoulders Doyle fixed his lover with a quizzical look. "You sure you're up to this?" he asked, a mischievous tone creeping into his voice. "How bad's that stab wound? Let's have a look." He deftly pulled Bodie's jumper up and off and studied the dressing which had been applied just above the other man's waist. "Don't want to pull any stitches, do we?" he teased.

"Haven't got any stitches."

"Bloody liar," Doyle scolded affectionately.

Bodie's fingers fell to his belt and began to work on the buckle. "Get these off, will you?" he said with an increasing note of urgency.

Doyle batted his hands away. "Not so fast, Casanova. I don't want to have to be the one who explains to Cowley why your injury's taken twice as long to heal as it should have done. I think a little bit of care and attention is what's called for here."

Bodie stood, hands on hips, and regarded him suspiciously. "Just what are you up to?"

"Oh, I'm up to plenty, don't worry." Bodie groaned as a hand reached out and traced the shape of his erection through his trousers. "Just like you are. But you're going to take things nice and easy and let Raymond do all the work, okay?"

Bodie nodded dumbly in reply, breathing deeply as his clothes were removed one by one. His hands were knocked away again as he attempted to relieve Doyle of his trousers. "Oh no you don't," Doyle chastised him as he removed them himself. "You get on that bed and just lie there looking gorgeous."

A wicked glint appeared in Bodie's eyes as Doyle's intentions suddenly became clear. "All right then," he replied with a smirk as he eased himself onto the bed. "That bit's easy, at least."

"Oh, I'm going to make it very easy for you, don't worry. You just do as you're told and you won't get into trouble." Discarding the rest of his clothing, Doyle moved to the bed and clambered upwards, straddling the obviously aroused body of his partner. "In fact," he continued, "maybe I ought to make sure that you don't overexert yourself."

Bodie looked up in confusion as Doyle reached over the side of the bed, grunting as he rummaged around on the floor.

"What the hell are you doing now?" he complained impatiently. "Ray, you're driving me crazy here..."

"Aha! Knew it was here somewhere..."

He held the silk scarf aloft as he straightened up. "Feels nice this, doesn't it?" he asked as he fingered the material, an innocent look upon his face that didn't fool Bodie for one moment.

"You're a bloody pricktease, did anyone ever tell..." The rest of his words were lost in a sharp intake of breath as the scarf was trailed over his erection. Doyle snickered mercilessly as he watched Bodie's cock bob upwards.

"I think maybe a little bit of restraint might be in order, just so that you don't hurt yourself. What do you think?" Bodie's eyes widened as Doyle twisted the scarf into a long, thin strand. "Hold your hands out, sunshine," he ordered.

"Ray..." Bodie hissed warningly but complied with the command nevertheless. Doyle tied the scarf slackly around his lover's wrists, then pushed Bodie's arms upwards and fastened the loose ends to the bedhead. His lips brushed Bodie's ear as he moved back down the bed again. "Just a bit of fun, love, that's all," he whispered. "I'll make it good for you, you'll see." He straightened back up again and looked down at the sight that was displayed before him. "Bloody gorgeous," he murmured as his hand wrapped itself around his own cock and pumped several times.

"Ray, please..." There was an edge to Bodie's voice now as his eyes looked pleadingly up at the other man.

Doyle shuffled backwards until he was almost at the other end of the bed. "Put your legs over my shoulders," he commanded softly. "Won't hurt you, will it?"

"I don't give a fuck if it does," Bodie replied breathlessly as he instantly obeyed. There was a chuckle from the other end of the bed, and Bodie struggled to keep control as he felt the brush of curls against the tops of his legs and a skittering of a cool breath over his cock as Doyle bent to his task. Two strong hands under his arse raised him up slightly off the bed before easing his cheeks apart.

"Ready for this?" Doyle's voice huskily enquired from what seemed like a long way off.

All Bodie could do was groan in reply as the tip of Doyle's tongue began to explore him, tracing a path around the rim of his arsehole and making him squirm with unadulterated delight.

"Oh, yes. You're opening up for me, love. That's beautiful. Beautiful."

Bodie's hands gripped the wooden posts of the bedhead as his lover's tongue delved into his anus, teasing him to the point of distraction. "I can't, Ray…too much…" he hissed.

Doyle raised his head slightly to see his lover slip the silken bonds. Bodie's hands gripped the sheet at his sides as he bucked upwards in search of the mind-blowing sensations that had suddenly ceased. "Bad lad," Doyle grinned. "Didn't say you could do that, did I?"

"Jesus Christ, Doyle. Just what are you trying to do to me?"

"Trying to teach you that patience is a virtue." Doyle relinquished his hold on Bodie's backside and slid up the bed to lay spread-eagled on top of the other man. "But you're not proving to be a very good pupil."

Bodie wrapped his arms and legs around his lover and held on tightly. "Do it, Ray," he whispered. "Don't bother using anything. Just do it."

"Sure you're okay?" Doyle replied quietly, all trace of amusement gone from his voice.

"Sure I'm sure. Please, Ray. I want you."

Doyle looked down at his lover and smiled. He changed position slightly, took hold of his cock and guided it to where they both wanted it to be. With a final enquiring look at the other man, and satisfied with the nod that he was given in reply, he placed his hands on Bodie's shoulders and eased forward slowly. His cock met no resistance as it slid in. "Jesus," he grunted. "You are ready, aren't you?"

"Always ready for you, gorgeous." Bodie moaned delightedly as Doyle pushed further in, his cries blending with those of his partner as Doyle increased the pace.

They both knew that it wouldn't take long. There had been too much emotion shown over the past day, too many words spoken and too many revelations for either of them to think about holding anything back. Doyle's climax was followed almost immediately by Bodie's, the evidence spreading stickily between them as Doyle collapsed upon him.

"Am I hurting you?" Doyle mumbled thickly as Bodie's fingers caressed his back.

"Yeah. But if you move I'll be forced to kill you," Bodie replied sleepily.

Doyle slid off him with a groan and snuggled in alongside. They lay silently for a few minutes, waiting for heartbeats to settle and breathing to regularise.

It was Doyle who broke the silence, as Bodie knew he would. "We are all right now, aren't we? Bodie?"

Bodie cracked an eye open and regarded the other man lazily. "We've always been all right, Ray," he replied. "Got a few things sorted out now though, haven't we?"

Doyle nodded. "Yeah. We have."

Bodie pulled him closer and kissed him long and hard. "I don't think for a minute that it'll be a bed of roses, y'know," he said when they broke apart.

"Wouldn't be interested if it was," Doyle replied before helping himself to another kiss.

"It'll be good, though," Bodie continued when he finally had the use of his mouth back.


"The best."


"Sleep now?"

"One more kiss?"

Bodie complied willingly.

Doyle watched as his weary partner's struggles to remain awake eventually failed. As Bodie's breathing evened out into a steady rhythm Doyle continued to study him, relishing the brief opportunity to drink in every facet of the other man's appearance. He cursed himself silently for ever doubting Bodie's fidelity and made a vow to himself never to do so again.

As he lay and studied his lover, Bodie suddenly fidgeted and his eyes opened slightly. Glazed and unfocussed, they fixed upon Doyle's face and the tiniest smile appeared upon Bodie's lips before the eyes closed again and he fell into a deep sleep once more. And so it was that a ridiculously sleepy half-smile was the final element in Ray Doyle's acceptance of his lover's commitment to him. He placed a soft kiss upon Bodie's forehead, wrapped himself around the sleeping man, closed his eyes and slept soundly.

-- THE END --

December 2005

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