Breakfast at Tiffany's
Doyle had good days. Bodie was sure he could remember one, quite recently. Alas, today Doyle's mood had been obvious from the moment he wrenched open the door at Bodie's cheery ra-tat-tat and raged through it like a winter wind. Time to wince and walk three paces behind.
Nothing funny, either, about Doyle's temper. When he had it in for you, you knew it, tongue lashing at you like a gale of broken glass: a thick skin and plugged ears the only known antidote. But all the same, this morning's face beneath unbrushed curls was sour enough to make you want to laugh - if you didn't care too much about your prospects, that was.
"Look," Bodie said mildly, as his hands pulled the wheel steadily around and the van swung away from the kerb, "Better early than late. Cowley's hell when you get the wrong side of him."
Not so much as you are, though, my sweet.
"I've left Deborah back there."
Ah. So that was it.
Bodie sensed a bitter glare burning its way through the space between them, and the snapping words tossed after it: "She was just in the mood - and you come bloody banging at the door!" Doyle's hands shot into the air in pained memory and wrung together.
"Just acting out Cowley's orders, mate," Bodie pointed out equably. "You know," he added, "what we get paid to do."
"You could have left it a bit, ten minutes or so. Not much to ask, is it?"
Yeah, why didn't I. Ten minutes' wait while you screwed yourself soft inside Deborah would have been nothing, compared to what I've got to put up with for the rest of the day.
The van was picking up speed now, out on the open road. "Look, Doyle, I'm - sorry." Ridiculous. His partner was so vicious and so aggrieved you'd think Bodie had stood up and bespoken an impediment to the banns, not thwarted Doyle of one quick fuck for a few mean hours. And here Bodie was apologising - ! He tried to soften his voice over the irritation which kept rising in waves: "It'll go off in a minute, Ray. You know how it does. Imagine you're in a cold shower. All that icy water, shrinking up your - desires." The remark, accompanied by a suggestive swoop of the eyebrows, was supposed to make Doyle laugh, but only silence followed. Bodie had to fight to keep his eyes on the road; they kept straying sideways and downwards. "Nearly there," he said cheerfully, seeing the sign for Hampstead coming up.
"I wish." A dour mutter; beside him Doyle sighed and lay back in his seat with his eyes closed. Now Bodie's gaze was safe to pry. Doyle was wearing a faded lemon tee-shirt and navy denim jeans, zipper tested to the limit. Bodie flicked on the indicator, brooding, silent. It was Doyle who spoke, eyes flying open, snapping:
"If you weren't so damned sweet on bloody Cowley - ! You know, Bodie, there's times I doubt you were ever butch enough for the Paras, way you jump like a little dog any time the Cow clicks his fingers."
"Yeah," said Bodie tightly, and his fingers whitely gripped the wheel, "well, it's our bloody job to. Jump, go 'woof', lay down and die, whatever the man says: he's the one paying our wages."
"Get a life," was Doyle's response to that. Cold. Flat. Dead.
And now he could not summon grace from anywhere. "Yeah, a life away from you would be something. Stop being such a pain in the bloody arse, Doyle."
Which prompted a quick little smile. "Thought you went in for that sort of thing."
The sun went behind a cloud; he flipped the visor up. The moment the words had left him he had sunk his teeth into his lower lip, waiting... He said nothing. But Doyle was onto it by now, a rat with a bone in its teeth, hungry, tenacious: "Yeah, pain in the arse, am I?" He chuckled, not nicely. "Like the sound of that do you, Bodie?"
He had the strength now, the sense, to keep quiet. Not so Doyle, who followed his instincts every time and never let his wits intervene: "Ah, c'mon, Bodie. 'S what turns you on, innit? Someone up your arse. Don't suppose it matters who it is. Can't see 'em anyway, can you, angle they're coming at you from?" He sniggered, very amused by himself. "I suppose I'd be as good as anyone. In fact, you once - "
Why, oh why, oh why did I ever -
- you once asked me, didn't you? Fancied me, you said." He laughed again. Such easy power.
"Yeah well," Bodie said, lips unlocking, "that was a long time ago. I didn't know you then."
"Way I feel this morning," Doyle said reflectively, eyes on the van roof, "I could - almost - go for it."
"Here we are - Clarendon Place - look out for 125, would you?"
"What's it feel like then? Good as a cunt, is it?"
"Are you looking out, for chrissake?"
Doyle leaned out unhurriedly: "Yeah - there it is - oh, big surprise, next to 123." But all too soon as Bodie brought the van in alongside the kerb that troublesome green gaze was there again, on him, through him. "No need to be embarrassed, Bodie." One long-fingered hand reached out, tapped him on the knee, white flash of a grin. "I knew ages ago, remember? You told me yourself."
"Yeah, well, maybe I've changed. Been to therapy and seen the light. I knew I must need help when I started to fancy nasty bits of rough like you."
Doyle laughed as if Bodie were being funny. Then the green gaze sobered, probed again. "Look, Bodie, it doesn't matter to me. You bat for the other team, leaves more birds around for me to deal with, dunnit? I'm not prejudiced."
That was true enough. It was not because he had any hangups about gays that this was such a useful weapon for Doyle to have: it was because Bodie had made the big, the huge mistake of trying it on with him, with Doyle. Brought it out of the general right down to the personal. Cat out of the bag: one drink too many and he had chanced his arm. Doyle threw him off quicker than a spider trapped inside his shirt, but didn't appear to hold it against him.
On a good day.
On a bad day... he would flirt with Bodie outrageously, all the casual expertise of a hooker, then flick him off cold. It amused him; it satisfied his secret cruel streak when he couldn't feed it any other way. Maybe he thought it amused Bodie too, who knew? Maybe he thought it gave Bodie a buzz. Wanking fodder. Well, what if it did?
Hampstead. On a Sunday morning. Nice houses, nice people. Walking the poodle, baby toddling along holding someone's hand. A boy skateboarding, leaning this way and that, selfconsciously hip. A milk float clunking along and stopping, disgorging whistling milkman in peaked cap, twirling pints of silver-top in one hand. It was all very nice and very suburban and not quite real. A far cry from the inner city ghettos they were used to.
"Come to Hampstead," Doyle said, "So cool, it snows." He cackled, looking at his fingernails, rocking back in the van's dodgy front seat.
At least the mood had improved somewhat. "Where's the Cow, d'you think?" Bodie muttered, drumming his fingers on the wheel. "If he's much longer someone'll ring up the police to get us moved on: this old banger doesn't fit in with the Range-Rovers round here." And nor did they. Looked like a couple of gangsters, probably, sitting there behind sinister tinted glass with their grim faces, guns beneath their arms.
"Yeah, why'd you bring it, anyway? Capri grounded or something?"
"Cowley's orders." Bodie nodded at the rear. "Reckon he's planning on going incognito."
"Oh, is that it," Doyle said. "Not because you were planning to have your wicked way with me in the back then?" He snickered again. The joke-theme had clearly set in for the day.
The RT burst into life with its urgent two-tone call. Bodie picked it up calmly; he was proud of himself today, the way he was staying so cool, sitting so still, breathing so even. "3.7.?"
Cowley's acid Scottish tone replied: "If I can see you, Bodie, then so can everyone else. Get yourself round the back, man. 'Undercover' doesn't mean 'out of the rain', you know."
Bodie's mouth twisted, abashed. "On my way, sir." He started the engine, about to replace the handset, but it hadn't finished with him:
"Into the garage and wait. You're too damned early!"
"No pleasing some people, is there?" Bodie muttered, and began to move the van off.
"You see? I'd have had time for Deborah." Doyle groaned, dropping his head back against the seat. "Probably twice."
"Round here, d'you think he meant?" Bodie cruised doubtfully along a line of garages; one glance up at the geography of the buildings confirmed his guess. "Yeah. That's it, innit?" The up-and-over door of number 125 was open. Bodie eased the van into the empty garage, killed the engine and snatched on the handbrake.
"Must be comin' out the back," Doyle said idly. "What's 'e doing here anyway? Got a fancy woman, d'you think?"
"Diplomat in hiding's more like it." Bodie cast his eyes over the terrain, cataloguing possible boltholes and sightlines for hidden gunmen out of sheer habit, not noticing the green eyes that dwelt on him close by; and thus the sort of strike he might be expecting was not the one he got.
"Is it better with men?"
Bodie jerked in his seat, eyes flashing in surprise. "What sort of a bloody question is that?"
"I'm just askin'," Doyle told him tranquilly. "I mean, you 'ave birds, don't you? You're obviously not a hundred per cent queer. Why bother with blokes at all? That's what I'm wondering. You could have any girl that took your eye, it's not that only some old queen would have you. So it must be good, I reckon, or you'd never go for it."
Bodie shrugged. Did not reply.
"Come on, Bodie," Doyle pursued, "I really want to know."
"It's none of your business, is it? Just shuddup, Doyle, I don't want to talk about it."
Doyle grinned, sharp-toothed, deceptively angelic. "But I do." Dark words, dark voice.
"Giving you a thrill, is it?" Bodie said savagely, unwisely, because that opened the way for Doyle's quick retort:
"Doyle, shuddup will you? Okay?"
Just a normal garage, so far as he could tell, all the usual clutter. An old petrol can, a lawn mower, a tool bench with tatty old paint pots. A door at the back which obviously led through to the house, the utility room or something. Cowley would be coming through there. The R/T buzzed again and the old man's acerbic tones filtered into the van.
"Are you in position yet, Bodie?"
"Yes, sir. Quick getaway, is it?" His hand reached out for the ignition key.
"You're not Double-O-Seven, man. Just sit there and wait. Could be another hour yet. At least!"
Bodie did not clench his hand over the mouthpiece fast enough to prevent Doyle's groan making contact. "Is Doyle in pain, Bodie?"
"No, sir, he's - laughing." Bodie bit his lip, flicked a grimace Doyle's way, and Cowley did not keep them long in suspense -
"Aye, well, tell him to make the most of it. Later on he may not have anything to laugh about," came the grim prediction, and then their chief cut the line.
"Laughing!" Doyle rocked back in his seat, shaking his head.
"Best I could do," Bodie shrugged.
"He loves me really," Doyle said, and a little lazy grin flashed whitely, quickly.
"Wanna bet?" Bodie muttered morosely.
"Yeah. And so do you."
Beats of time clicked off in Bodie's head. He ordered himself to reply, roll out some comment, throwaway, meaningless, as meaningless and flippant as Doyle's. Nothing emerged. He heard, like some far off knell of doom, the timer run out.
Too late. Caught in the slips.
He met Doyle's eye. Saw Doyle catch on, take it in, work it out. But, for now, sparing him. Storing it up perhaps, for later fun.
Doyle leaned back in his seat, head back. A little smile played across his lips; one hand stroked, absently, the handle of the gun beneath his arm. "Where were we? Oh yeah - "
"How long d'you think he's gonna be?"
"Oh, ages, you know what he's like, no stopping 'im when 'e's on one of his hobby-horses... So. Tell me. What's good about doing it with fellas then, Bodie? Reckon I should give it a try?"
"Did he say - "
His nerves leapt in reflex action as Doyle's hand thudded down onto his knee; his gaze was dragged around, reluctant, to clash with Doyle's unwinking stare: "What's the matter with you? Never knew you were so shy."
"All right, Doyle," Bodie said very rapidly, "the fact is, some blokes like it and some wouldn't touch it to save their life, and since you've never had the slightest urge to try it before now I think we can safely say you're past the dangerous years, all right?"
"Who says I never had the urge to try it?" Doyle said, and cackled, flexing his fingers; such a game to him all this, an idle topic to toy with this morning, fill in the time. Could be an hour. At least. "I reckon there can't be a bloke alive who's never wondered what it's like, right?"
"Right. Go off and try it then, why not. Shouldn't tell Deborah though, if I was you. You might find she wasn't too keen on the idea of takin' you on afterwards."
"None of her business, mate," Doyle said lazily. "I don't ask her what she gets up to when she goes off for those weekends with her busty blonde girlfriend."
Bodie stared at him, raised a pained eyebrow. "They go to dog shows, Doyle. They show Pomeranians. That's what she - "
"Yeah, that's what she says," Doyle said promptly. "Ever seen her with a dog, have you? Never seen her with so much as a bag of Bonio, meself, let alone a bloody Pomeranian," and for a moment they were together, eyes meeting in quick, shared amusement, laughter bubbling up beneath. Dog shows. And then the laughter left his eyes though the smile remained, and he kept up the look, right into Bodie's eyes, very deep.
"I'm not joking, Bodie."
"Well, I'm not laughing, am I?" Bodie said, very low, very sober.
"I want - "
" - yeah, I get the message." He looked away, out of the window, bitter, embarrassed.
"So how about it then?" Doyle said coolly.
"I can't believe you just said that," Bodie said after a moment, and he did not look back.
"Look, what's the problem? I just can't see it. You swing both ways, and here's me in the mood to try it out."
"Thanks, Doyle. Sweet of you to give me first refusal."
"Don't be like that."
"How did you want me to be? Grateful?" He had to look back sometime and now he did, hard, hard eyes blazing out across the space between them. Doyle grinned back at him, easy, sweet, cool.
"'Willing', was the word I had in mind. Can't see why you're determined to play so hard to get."
"I am hard to get," Bodie jested grimly, but he wasn't out of the woods yet, he knew that. What did they always say about quicksand - ? No use struggling, only drowned you faster, stay upright, calm, and wait for help.
"Come on Bodie," Doyle drawled, watching him, "change your mind. Might never get another chance, y'know."
"What makes you think I'd want one?"
"Okay. You're not interested, message received and understood." Doyle grinned, sharp and quick and disbelieving. "But I'm in the mood to try it, 's been going through my head a while now. Don't want me getting into something I can't handle with some bloke I hardly know, do you?"
Doyle being possibly the most streetwise person he knew, aggressive, tough, self-confident and fast on his feet, to imagine him getting into something he couldn't handle was not the easiest of things. Bodie's voice swooped and dipped along a line of pure irony: "Won't wash, sunshine. I think you could look after yourself all right. You got quite a few things going for you, as if you didn't know."
Doyle smiled at him then, a smile which took his breath away. "But you know, Bodie, I think it'd be best to go for you. Keeps it in the family, so to speak. And more I think about it, more the idea grabs me. Good-lookin' fella, you are. I might even like it."
Doyle paused then, to think, possibly, and suspense made Bodie snap out: "You might like what, exactly? You want me to give you a quick blowjob while we're waiting, is that what you've got in mind?"
Sarcasm dripped off him; he was not expecting the look which, unrehearsed, fell across Doyle's fallen-angel face, the brief closure of the eyes, the quick breath, and the words which followed as Doyle looked across at him, almost in wonder:
"Well, you said it."
Things had moved too fast, he felt he was slipping, the world turning dizzyingly around him and the ground falling away beneath his feet. But he had to stay upright, and he had to think fast, and he had to stay one jump ahead: so in the end it was an easy step to take when Doyle said:
"Would you, Bodie? Would you do that?"
Bodie moistened his lips with the point of his tongue. "Go for that sort of thing, do you?"
"Yeah, I'd go for it," Doyle said, and he smiled at Bodie sideways, quite a sweet smile, unrehearsed.
"In the van - ? You think that's the best place for it?" he said, heavy with irony, heart pounding like a hammer on rock, "With Cowley about to walk in and all...'s gonna look odd if he turns up and your cock just happens to be down my throat, even you couldn't come up with something to breeze that away."
Deliberately provocative, the words seemed to stir the air between them; Doyle gazed at him and Bodie held that gaze, hard, sure, in control.
"Go on like that and I bet I could," Doyle breathed, husky, low.
Oh jesus christ, what was he getting into here? Things seemed to be moving too fast, galloping away from him and out of his control. But how long had he wanted Doyle to take flirtation that one step further, speak to him of things like these just like this? For him to ask Bodie for it, (flirt to be sucked off, for chrissake), suggest that they have sex together in just such a free and easy manner as this - ? And didn't they always say - Be careful what you wish for. You may just get it.
He hesitated: then, reckless, dived right in. "An' you'd love it, sweetheart, wouldn't you just? You always look as if you need a mouth on your cock."
"And if it was your mouth," Doyle came back at him, fast, immediate, a tense smile in his voice: "use your tongue, would you?"
"You bet I would, sunshine. In all the right places. Send you to heaven and keep you there." And Bodie grinned without mirth, predatory like a dog baring its teeth, turning to gaze out of the side window, fingers tapping, drumming on the steering wheel.
And then he looked back. He had seen Doyle look that way before: a bright, soft haze to the eyes, lips parted, his breathing quick and light, his trigger clearly pulled and set to go off. No use to anyone right now. Thinking with his balls. Only one way to go. And Doyle went for it.
He wondered afterwards if he had imagined it, dreamed it up on a dark night as a fantasy. It might have been a fantasy: it was just the sort of thing he might come up with to turn himself on; Doyle, erect to the point of pain, asking him for it, begging, then doing it himself beside him in the van. He heard the sounds, the creak of the zipper, the little sigh, the settling in the seat; caught the edge of movements, the furious rhythmic grace of masturbation; and he turned his head to see it, blank with denial.
There wasn't much to see, clothing obscuring his view, and Doyle wasn't playing about, getting on with it hard and fast, leaning back in the seat, probably almost there already, hand blurring, face screwing in a grimace of extremity. It looked painful; obviously it was not.
Shock and passion shot through Bodie and lifted him, a throb of iron relentless at his loins; sudden sweat prickled on his skin. Pressure sang in his ears, and words and pictures ran fast-forward through his brain; he wanted to, oh, how he wanted to... But Doyle was way, way ahead of him, finishing with a choked whimper, convulsing sharply over his lap. It was all too much: Bodie could watch no longer.
"Sorry, Bodie, sorry, sorry, sorry." The mutter reached him at last; Bodie pressed hard fingertips one final time into his closed eyes then lifted his face from his hands. Doyle was looking at him, an odd mixture of wickedness and shame and as Bodie met his eyes he smiled, brazening it out, his voice gathering strength as he arched his back lazily, began to tuck in his shirt, refasten his jeans, looking at Bodie all the while. "One to you, mate. Got me going, didn't you?"
Bodie tried out his own voice, hearing it gratifyingly light and ironic. "Well, you were right. Learned me lesson, haven't I? I should have listened to you. Taken you back to the lovely Denise."
"Wha - ? Oh - Deborah." He shrugged, as if he too had almost forgotten her name. "That's not what I mean." He yawned, and stretched in his seat, arms clasping behind his neck. Getting over it fast, like a squashed plastic ball, dents popping out perkily all over him one by one, all systems go again. He gazed at Bodie calmly. Even glanced down at his sleeve, picked a hair off, and twiddled his fingers quickly to get rid of it. "Was you, talking sexy like that. Unfair, mate. Very unfair."
Bodie gazed at him, outraged. "What the hell did I - " Well, he did remember. Whatever had come over him? He could have defused it, he knew he could have done, shouldn't have led Doyle on the way he had, half-knowing what he was doing, even (perhaps) half-hoping to turn him on. In revenge. For all the times Doyle had turned him on, and walked away unknowing, uncaring, whatever. He tried to hang on to it, that sense of outrage he knew he would be justified to feel; after all, after all these years of worrying lest he let something slip to Doyle, in the end it had been Doyle who had disgraced himself. Amazing how things went sometimes.
"Reckon you owe me one," Doyle added, with a slow, queer little smile; his eyes met Bodie's wickedly. "And you can pay up now. Come on then, Bodie. I showed you, now you show me. Only fair."
"What you on about?" Bodie asked, though he knew. He felt quite unreal. He would not be surprised now if the van were to vanish, Doyle to turn into a giant banana with big googly eyes, and himself to wake up in his own bed sticky and disturbed. In the cramped little van he could smell the light odour of Doyle's sweat and behind it, just faintly as Doyle moved, the tang of sex. His senses took it in rapidly - oh christ - His body's response to the scent was direct and unambiguous and Doyle did not miss it, glancing at Bodie's groin, perhaps thinking about touching him though he did not, saying merely: "You're gonna burst through that fly any minute. Give it what it wants, Bodie. Go on."
Bodie had been thinking just the same thing, madly, wildly, but he retorted, "Flipped, have you? The Cow could appear through that door any moment ready for a quick getaway."
"Ah, c'mon. Take a chance. Danger gets you off, Bodie, and don't pretend it doesn't. 'S why we're in this job, innit?"
Devil's advocate. He knew exactly why Doyle was leading him on like this, softly, determinedly, working to get back the advantage, settle them on level ground again. He should say no. He shouldn't even be tempted. Now who's thinking with his balls, eh, Bodie...?
But what, after all, was so very new about that? Men did it all the time. Intelligent men, men with everything to lose, men who should know better. Politicians cruising King's Cross in search of whores. Famous actors caught with their cock in some tart's jaws. MPs cruising cottages to shove their shafts through a hole in the wall for a stranger's suck. Exposure. Ruination. Shame. They had known the risks and still they chose to take them. Just like Doyle had, jerking off quick and urgent, his come cooling on his own belly even now...
His decision had made itself for him. "Would you do something for me?"
"Depends," he heard Doyle's wary answer, and that wrung a smile out of him even as he unzipped himself with quick, sure fingers.
"Don't worry, Doyle, I wasn't going to ask for your arse. Or your mouth, come to that." He had hold of his cock now, head turning to look out of the side window, and then back to Doyle, his mouth twisting into a quick, ironic smile as he saw Doyle's eyes fly down to his groin, watching the up-and-down movement of his fist. It felt good, comforting, strong and fine. It just was not enough.
He said again: "Do something for me? Touch your tits."
Doyle said nothing, leaned back, smiled. Perhaps such a request amused him. But anyway he opened his shirt, slipped his hand inside, stroked his own skin lazily, rubbing the thin flesh over the ribcage. Bodie looked; avid, hungry, beating his cock in a sweet fast blur.
"Look at this, Bodie," Doyle said, low, dirtily flirtatious, and he watched mesmerised as Doyle parted the shirt further to allow him a glimpse of silver chain lying on a smooth dark pelt of hair, and smiling right into his eyes rubbed one of his nipples between his fingertips, slowly, lovingly, rolling it around. Bodie came into his own hand, a sharp, furious explosion of pleasure, high-pressure jets into his palm, three, four, five, oh, the sweet, sweet, hell of it...
Almost at the same time the side door of the garage flew open, banged itself on the wall, and Cowley appeared. In five strides he would be at the van.
Doyle's stifled exclamation woke Bodie from a far-off world. His head was dizzy, spinning, his cock still throbbing sweetly and his hand wet. "Ge' in the back," Doyle hissed, and the garage door thumped shut. The mutter of voices outside. Bodie forced leaden limbs to vault into the back space just in time, rearranged his clothes behind the cover of the seats as Doyle, calmly buttoning his shirt one-handed, ushered Cowley into the passenger seat Doyle had just vacated, taking his time over it, overly fussing; even in his state Bodie could not help but register that his partner was overdoing it, that Cowley would suspect something, could not help but read sin and cover-up into this unusual courtesy.
But they were lucky; Cowley had other things on his mind. While Doyle took corners too fast, Bodie bounced around in the un-upholstered rear of the van and blanked his mind completely to past, present, future.
"Why isn't Bodie driving?" their boss asked at one point, voice acid with irritation. "That was my order, as I recall."
"Had a hard night, sir," Doyle answered, meekly insolent. "An' a hard morning," and his eyes flashed up to the mirror to catch Bodie's there. For a moment, there was no-one else in the van, in the world. Doyle spoke only to Bodie, his voice rough still, even exhilarated, a sort of coded snapshot of a phrase which summed it up somehow, the sordid glory of it all:
"Breakfast at Tiffany's?"
And Bodie knew that this was not the last of it, no end but a beginning, and his eyes met Doyle's and picked up the challenge.
"You bet, mate. You bet. On me."
-- THE END --
Originally published in Celebrations, Gryphon Press, 1999