Four Hours On, Four Hours Off
Banner by Agent Xpndble for summer_of_78
Written for the summer_of_78 livejournal fic exchange. With thanks to my beta, PR Zed.
There was still no movement inside the house, not even squatters. Bodie was convinced the entire obbo was a waste of time, since no one had gone in or out for three days, and the post hadn't delivered so much as a flyer in all that time. The Queensway building had been put under surveillance based on one of Cowley's crystal ball hunches that didn't seem to be paying off as it should.
Leaning back from the tripod-mounted binoculars, Bodie stretched, but his eyes never left the building. As it was nearly dawn, he could see everything plainly: the pavement, the black wrought iron grating around the house, the dust bins tucked in the alley. Nothing. No movement of any kind.
Why couldn't gun runners keep normal hours, like everybody else? Three hours into his watch, and Bodie's eyes felt like soft-grit sandpaper. The thermos of coffee that had sustained him since 2am was empty and sleep beckoned, though he still had an hour yet to go before he could wake up Doyle. All Bodie wanted now was his own bed, not the narrow camp bed stowed in the corner, currently occupied by his unconscious partner.
He tried not to think the words "bed" and "Doyle" in the same sentence these days. Didn't always work. Though Bodie's impassive face managed to hide the thoughts that went with those words from the men around him.
He wasn't certain when he'd started thinking about his curly-haired partner in those terms, but he'd taken pains to keep that particular file marked 'strictly confidential.' Nobody else needed to know where Bodie's x-rated mind occasionally strayed. However, it was damned hard not to let it stray when he was given nothing else to do, and was cooped up with the object of those thoughts for 72 hours in a row.
Three days' surveillance, bloody boring, and thank goodness for relief--in the form of Anson and Murphy--sometime soon. Hopefully Murph would turn up before it was Bodie's turn for a kip. Bodie stifled a yawn and put his eyes back to the binoculars, but there still was no sign of anyone moving across the street.
The only movement was Doyle, rolling over in the cot behind him. Bodie determinedly quashed the image of what Doyle would look like in a real bed--naked and aroused--and tried forcing himself to pay attention to the building he was supposed to be minding.
It didn't work.
He heard the camp bed creak, and the sounds of Doyle waking. A sleepy voice behind him asked "Murphy here yet?"
"No, bastard's gonna make us wait until 8am before he turns up, you watch him."
Doyle padded over to the window, coming to stand next to Bodie. His gaze lingered on the house until it flickered down to the thermos next to Bodie. Operations like this ran on alertness and caffeine. "Want some tea, mate?"
"Wouldn't say no."
"I'll put the kettle on."
Doyle padded away, and Bodie heard sounds of boots being pulled on, the bedroom door opening, and his partner walking down the hallway, then footsteps descending the staircase to the ground floor kitchen. Minutes passed, then Doyle returned with two steaming mugs, one of which he deposited at Bodie's elbow.
The camp bed frame complained again, as Bodie heard Doyle climb back in. "Anything happen last night?"
"Aside from the Duchess of Kent's visit? Not a damn thing," Bodie replied with disgust.
"Wonder when Cowley will give up on this one."
Bodie didn't answer. He didn't have to. Doyle knew the answer as well as he did: Cowley would stop the surveillance when he damned well wanted to, not that he'd bother to give his men any warning about when that might be. He took a sip of the scalding tea, and set it back down on the desk.
A long silence passed, then Doyle asked, "What'll you do when Murphy turns up? G'home? Sleep?"
The question seemed odd. Doyle knew Bodie's habits, just like Bodie knew Doyle's. Home, shower, food, bed, followed by as long a sleep as their boss permitted. Nodding his head in silent agreement, Bodie wondered why the question even came up.
"No night-shift nurse you can molest?" Bodie risked looking away from the binoculars to glance back at Doyle, who was grinning. Bodie shrugged his shoulders, then went back to watching the house.
"Sensible birds'll be going to work by the time we're home, my son. A visit to Rosy Palm and her five daughters will have to do." Such risqué allusions were common between the two.
"So, spit and a wank? That's all? Bodie, I'm disappointed."
He tried to regain the initiative, unsure what Doyle was getting at. "Who uses spit? That's only for desperate circumstances."
Doyle's next words nearly made him knock the tripod over.
"So what do you use?"
Bodie couldn't believe his ears. "You mad bugger. What the--"
"C'mon, Bodie. Tell me, where's the harm? Just trying to keep you awake and on the job."
With calm, clipped words that he hoped gave nothing away, Bodie asked, "You want to know what kind of--? You're daft."
"Alright. Something else then. What kinds of things have you ever used for lube? I'll trade you, see whose list is longer."
At least this four-hour stint was no longer boring. Bodie was wide awake but he couldn't see Doyle, see what he was on about. And he'd be hard-pressed not to think 'Doyle' and 'bed' together, if this conversation continued on its current trajectory.
Bodie went first. "Alright. Spit." He picked up the cooling mug of tea and took another cautious swallow.
"Obvious. Margarine. After the butter was gone."
"Bet she liked that: show's your kitchen's well-stocked," he taunted.
"Shut up, and who said anything about she?"
Bodie's head snapped around like an owl's, blue eyes wide in amazement. "You never--"
"What, d'you go in for discrimination? And you with an army background. Bodie, I'm shocked," Doyle replied mockingly. Somewhere in the depths of those green eyes, Bodie saw something else. A hint of curiosity? A test of some kind? Or was he merely trying one on?
Doyle didn't let up. "Your turn."
Bodie's eyes went back to the house across the street, though it definitely didn't have his full attention now. "Hand cream. Scented with lavender, I'll have you know."
"Very English," Doyle replied, imitating a toff's accent. "Vaseline, the old reliable."
Bodie had gone through jars of it, though the current container was tucked discreetly out of sight in his bedroom. "Suntan lotion. On a Greek beach." A subtle hint, nothing obvious.
"I'll bet the sunburn was worth it."
"It was. Next?"
Doyle answered, "Massage oil." He sounded smug, which made Bodie curious.
"Interesting. Salad oil."
"Now who's got a well-stocked larder?" A brief pause, then, "KY. No chafing."
Bodie knew then that Doyle wasn't kidding, not about having other men. Vaseline was safely heterosexual: anyone might have it in the lav. KY was not. A tube of that was as good as a membership card to the queer brotherhood--and it was why Bodie kept Vaseline at his apartment instead of KY. Nothing incriminating. Doyle's loud and clear message made him risk replying something equally all-male. "Beer."
He heard sputtering behind him, the sound of tea being spit out. "Don't take the piss, I'm serious here."
"So were we. Beer was hard to come by in Angola." That ought to put the clue right out in front of him.
Doyle wasted no time asking, "Bitter or ale?"
"Christ, I'll never top that."
"Didn't think you could."
Another pause, then, "Motor oil."
"No wonder you've been doing all that work on your bike--drain the oil and it'll run rough every time," Bodie joked.
Then he realized it was his turn, and his mind went back over dozens of nameless, faceless men, trying to remember what else he'd ever used for lube. There must be something else…ah.
A moment of silence, then Doyle asked softly, "Express?" The Parker-Hale product was a popular one, and Macklin preferred it. The entire squad must go through gallons of it in a year.
Bodie shook his head.
"No. Woodcock Hill. Rangoon Oil." Favored by the British military for jungle-based operations, where the humidity wouldn't cause the oil to break down so quickly. Something a weapons expert like Doyle would know, and another hint about Bodie's not-so-heterosexual past.
He heard Doyle rise up from the camp bed and walk to the window. His partner stood next to him, and Bodie wondered what was going through his mind.
"Do you have any? At your apartment, I mean?" The husky quality to Doyle's voice left little to doubt. Chancing a quick look, Bodie glanced sideways, and saw a prominent bulge in Doyle's denims.
No doubt at all.
His eyes met Doyle's, and suddenly the words 'Doyle' and 'bed' seemed synonymous. And very very essential.
Abruptly, Doyle's eyes darted away when they heard the kitchen door unlatch downstairs, and Murphy began ascending the stairs, Anson close behind.
"If I don't, I'm sure there's something else we can make do with," Bodie answered quietly, ignoring the imminent arrival of the relief team. He stood up and stretched, noting the interest Doyle paid to the tight pull of corduroy across his crotch as he did so.
"3.7, 4.5, it's us," Murphy called out, having reached the top of the stairs. He and Anson joined them, while Bodie and Doyle began gathering their few belongings, ready to make their escape.
"We heard you, all the way from Lancaster Gate. You two don't half make a racket," Bodie chided, even as he pulled on his leather jacket.
"Next time, you can wait 'til eight, then," Murphy sniped back, even as he sat down in the chair and adjusted the tripod to his height. Anson was busy dropping his bag next to the camp bed, wrinkling his nose even as he lay down and curled up into the blanket. His ability to sleep anywhere, anytime, was legendary.
"No movement?" Murphy asked, all business.
"Nothing. Distinctly anti-social since Monday," Bodie answered crisply.
"See you in three days, unless Cowley says otherwise," Doyle added, as he and Bodie left the room, with Bodie leading the way.
At the top of the stairs, 3.7 turned and looked his partner in the eye. "Stop for some eggs and chips on the way? There's no food at the flat." He might want Doyle, but he also didn't want to have to leave. After.
Doyle snorted, unsurprised. "Back to mine, then. I don't fancy stopping on the way." He gave Bodie's shoulder a push in the direction of the stairs, turning him, impatient.
More softly, now that they were out of earshot from the other two agents, Bodie offered, "There's always the backseat." The two men were virtual mind readers in the field; now that skill was paying unexpected dividends.
"Not that much of a hurry," Doyle remarked, though his tone was anything but conversational as they reached the ground floor and the way out.
"Ever the gentleman," Bodie tossed over his shoulder as they walked through the back garden, to the alley where the Capri sat, waiting.
"Always. But where you're concerned…." He trailed off.
"Yes?" asked Bodie as he slid into the driver's seat next to Doyle, who was smiling broadly now.
"I'm willing not to be."
The car's engine gunned to life, and Bodie threw his partner a smug smile before he swung the car out into traffic. "I'd be disappointed if you were, sunshine."
-- THE END --