Telling Marge



He knew it probably wasn't a good idea, but he found he really couldn't resist.

In three years of partnership, Bodie couldn't remember seeing Doyle so completely uncomfortable.

Scared. could say Ray was actually scared of the fate that awaited him.

And to have the eternally cool Doyle begging him quite so desperately for support...Well...couldn't say no, could he?

The thing was of course, not to let Ray realise that, until he'd gone through a satisfying number of hoops. So...

"Sorry. Got other plans," Bodie drawled lazily and he watched Doyle's eyes actually bug with anguish and distress.

"Aw...Bodie...c'mon...You can't let me go there on my own."

Bodie leaned casually back against the edge of the worktop in his partner's kitchen, looking levelly at Doyle, smirking inwardly at his anxiety.

He'd been making bets with himself for days about how long it'd take Ray to ask him along. Beg him for back up. And, give him his due, Doyle'd held out until the last possible minute. But tonight, was indisputably The Night.

"Don't see why not," Bodie returned easily, "She's not gonna bite." He leered happily at his partner "Unless you're a really good boy."

"You bastard. You're lovin' this." Doyle was definitely losing his always tenuous grip on his temper.

"Me? Naw. 'M happy for you, finding a nice girl." Bodie paused significantly. "Woman," he corrected, and he had the satisfaction of hearing Doyle's teeth grind together, before the broken angel's face collapsed into a kind of accepting despair; acknowledging that Bodie really was going to let him go into this on his own.

And that was the point at which Bodie always crumbled, and he was never very sure whether Ray was manipulating him or not. Probably was, knowing Doyle.

"Okay." he sighed, and watched the moody schoolboy gloom lighten instantly with absolute relief. Yeah. Little shit knew how to play him alright. "Don't know how she'll take it though..." he warned, wanting instantly to dampen that infuriating satisfaction in another battle won, "Doesn't like me, does she? Called me a lout," he concluded sorrowfully, actually more than a bit put out that his own attractions had been dismissed so completely in favour of Ray's battered charm.

The moment Marjorie Harper had seen Doyle in fact, she'd gone batty -- not, of course, that she wasn't 99% of the way there already, and Doyle had responded with a kind of calm, if bemused acceptance, as if women came on to him like that every day of his life. So Marge had settled on him very obviously as potential husband number four...or was it five?...if he proved himself in the 'gentleman friend' stakes first of course...and she didn't seem too amenable to rejection.

All in all, not an enviable prospect Bodie mused, inwardly sniggering, and Doyle was shitting himself, because the lady was very clearly not inclined to give up on the chase just because the quarry wasn't co-operating. Constant telephone calls, and the regular appearance of her sidekicks, Alf and Herbert on his tail and outside his house, both unnerved Doyle, and led to endless piss-taking. But the coup-de-grace had to come.

It took the shape of a phone call from Cowley to thank Marge for her assistance, which was instantly transformed into a request from the lady for Ray to call round some evening and say thank you in person. And Cowley, mischievous as he sometimes was, had dumped his agent right in it, announcing that Doyle would indeed act as a grateful CI5's representative.

Bodie thought he'd always treasure the scene Ray made when he was told; the hunted look in his eyes as he tried to insist that nothing on God's earth would make him walk into Marge's clutches again; stomping around and lashing out like a cornered mongrel, until the word 'pimp' entered the tirade, and Cowley decided he'd had enough. His reply was unanswerable: that Doyle was simply required to carry out what was, after all, CI5 business -- keeping a valuable contact sweet; and surely an A-squad agent was adult enough to avoid the advances of a middle-aged lady without offending her.

Thing was of course, that Marge -- with her almost pathological instant affection -- was different, and even Bodie accepted that. Which was why he'd finally agreed to go with Doyle: because, deep down, he really wasn't sure the dozy sod would get out with his virtue or his single status intact.

So there they were, Bodie and the sacrificial victim, trailing out from Doyle's flat to Bodie's car for the journey across to Battersea and Ray's inescapable dinner date.

The route was negotiated in tense silence, until Doyle's composure, predictably, cracked, and he began to rant, clearly infuriated by his own apprehension and raging at being dropped in yet another impossible situation by Cowley. Bodie put up with the droning and periodic yelling for long minutes, and then he decided he'd suffered enough.

"That's not going to get you anywhere, is it?" he interjected as Ray paused to draw breath, "You've gotta figure a way out of it."

Doyle glared at him, clearly infuriated by his aloof amusement.

"You think I haven't tried, you smug bastard? Think I 'aven't bin walking the floor at night?"

Bodie grinned at the melodrama of it, but said nothing, grateful at least that he seemed to have silenced Doyle. Then, after minutes of introspection, Ray burst into agitated life again.

"Could tell her I'm otherwise engaged, couldn't I? Say 've got a steady girlfriend."

Bodie pursed his lips, considering.

"But you haven't seen any birds the last few nights since the op, have you? And Alf an' Herbert 've been watching," he finished, waggling his eyebrows meaningfully. Doyle looked crushed, then, suddenly hopeful again.

"Could say 'm goin' with a nurse. On shifts," he added optimistically. "Could call Claire...She'd probably take me back. If she's not seein' anyone else."

Bodie gave him a disbelieving stare. Claire'd take Ray back, he acknowledged bitterly to himself, even if she'd got married and had sextuplets in the interim, but he didn't say it. Instead:

"You must be joking. You only dumped her last month...she'd nail your balls to the wall. Anyway..." he went on, seeing Doyle's mouth open to protest, "...Marge'd chew her up and spit her out. She'd roll over anyone to get at you." And Doyle could hardly deny that.

He began to chew energetically on his lip, fidgeting in his seat, and then, he just seemed to go still.

Bodie watched him warily out of the corner of his eye. Doyle's face had taken on that serene concentrated look that he got sometimes when he was working out a serious plan, and Bodie decided it would be prudent to stay quiet until Ray let him know what he was hatching. Could be a devious little sod at times, Bodie thought distantly. Put nothing past him.

"Could tell her 'm gay," Doyle said consideringly, and Bodie found he could still be totally astonished by his partner after all. He could think of nothing at all to say. "Well?" Doyle demanded, and Bodie finally managed a reply, trying to see the funny side of it.

"You'd never convince her," he camped, "Butch thing like you."

But Doyle merely turned his head to stare deliberately at his partner.

"No reason why I couldn't. Gay's don't 'ave to be limp-wristed."

"She'll only want to save you from yourself, won't she? Convert you back. Only make things worse." To Bodie it seemed obvious, and he felt strangely desperate to squash the conversation flat.

"Not if I say I've got a steady boyfriend. A permanent lover."

Bodie swallowed, horribly sure now of where this was going. But still he tried to avert it.

"You're forgetting Alf an' Herbert again, aren't you? They'll've told her you've been on your own nights since she saw you." He found he had to struggle to keep his voice level and he glanced at his partner, then back at the road ahead, changing lanes automatically. Doyle looked very calm indeed now, with that strange hunting look he got sometimes in his eyes.

"Maybe I see my lover everyday," he said and Bodie swallowed again hard.

Bloody knew it.


"It's perfect, Bodie. She wouldn't dare try 'n' move in on your territory." Bodie felt the fluttering of panic begin in his stomach and he fought to control it, trying to prevent this; knowing he couldn't.

"No." he said firmly.


"I said, no," Bodie said again, and some quality in his voice -- anger perhaps, or outrage --seemed to get through to his partner. There was silence, long uneasy moments of it, while Doyle looked at him consideringly and then he turned to look out the side window of the car. The silence stretched on, and, imperceptibly, Bodie began to relax, even as he waited for the next argument from Doyle.

"Why?" came at last, quietly and Bodie stiffened again.

"Because I say so," he returned, unanswerably, he thought, but he knew Doyle wouldn't just give up. He sat, still waiting.

"You were keen enough when you tried it on with me before," Doyle said clearly. And there it was -- out in the open at last.

Should have known. Bodie thought feverishly, Should have known he wouldn't just let me off with it. Should've known he'd rub my nose in it someday.

His heart was beating furiously fast and he knew his face was flushed with the helplessness of humiliation, but Doyle was still looking at him and so he continued to drive mindlessly, moving his feet and his hands to an automatic rhythm. He said nothing, because he could find nothing to say, wanting only to belt the little bastard beside him until he could feel the turmoil and the shame choking him begin to thin and ease away. It was his oldest and easiest antidote to emotional pain. Violence. But he knew he could no longer use it.

Doyle was still looking at him, kept staring at him for whole minutes, saying nothing, tension screaming in the silence, and then at last he seemed to subside, slumping into his seat with a muffled grumble, immersed, it appeared, in his own problems once again.

Very slowly, muscle by muscle, Bodie forced himself to relax, but his mind -- his mind was still floundering and struggling in a morass of self-contempt and depression.

He'd hoped -- ridiculously of course, knowing Doyle -- but he'd truly hoped that Ray had forgotten that night, wiped it from his memory. Not so long ago really...three months or so, but they'd never mentioned it since, and he had hoped...

So he'd got it wrong again, misread Ray as totally as he had then.

Should've known Ray would use it; should've known Doyle didn't love him.

But to the Bodie of months before, misreading had seemed so very unlikely. He'd been almost sure then that Doyle felt as much for him as he did for his partner. There was so obviously more than just trust and liking between them -- anyone could see that. But...what was it? Then, Bodie had believed he knew; Doyle's incessant flirting he thought had told him -- that two blokes who were into birds were also terminally drawn to each other... And he'd wanted Doyle so badly himself, captivated completely by another person for the first time in his sad and cynical life, that perhaps he'd seen what he wanted to -- seen enough to believe himself loved.

Look at the way Doyle'd been on this op: the way he'd stood there the first morning like a seductive and recalcitrant schoolboy... 'Nothing I love more than curlin' up in bed with a good book...'; and the way he'd looked at Bodie when he thanked him for saving his life when his gun got a stoppage; an' the way he kept searching out Bodie's eyes at Marge's, specially when he vouched for him...'Yeah, he's...alright..."

God. Just a few months ago, Bodie'd have been cock-a-hoop; so sure of what Doyle was trying to say...

But he knew better now.

Was just Ray's way, wasn't it -- teasing and tantalising; wanting Bodie's attention, his admiration. But nothing more.

The shame of that night, when he'd tried for Doyle's love had stayed with him like an open wound ever since, and he probed its rawness almost every night, every day, whenever he felt himself slipping under Ray's spell again. Sometimes, it even worked.

They'd been in Bodie's flat, sitting together on the sofa as usual, drinking lager, watching the telly, and somehow, Bodie had just...gone for it. After months of trying to raise the courage, on that one night he'd convinced himself that one of them had to try, and he'd slipped an arm around Doyle's shoulders. Doyle, he remembered had turned his head to look at him, amazed, and Bodie had leaned forward and fulfilled one of his sweetest fantasies, pressing his own mouth to Ray's full, soft, perfect lips, not even trying to conceal the emotions which drove him, controlled him.

Only, it wasn't like his fantasies at all, because in his fantasies, Ray always kissed back; this time, he did nothing, just sat there rigid and still, lips closed against the kiss, until Bodie finally, reluctantly raised his head and looked into Doyle's slanted silver-green eyes.

What he saw there told him finally how very wrong he had been; the reactions there, so clear to him: some surprise, cool amusement, speculation, absolute calm. Bodie still remembered how that had felt, how his gut had just congealed into a hard, scared lump, but he'd said nothing, waiting stoically, face shuttered for Ray's rejection and he'd found in that instant that it really wasn't so unexpected after all.

After a moment's embarrassed quiet, Doyle'd sat forward, pulling easily and casually away from his arm.

"Didn't know you were into all that," he said coolly at last, and somehow, that was not what Bodie'd expected him to say, and he found himself blurting the unvarnished truth in reply.

"'M not. Just..."

"With me?" Doyle completed calmly, and Bodie just stared at him.

So he knew. Must've known all along. Must've been playing with him. Encouraging him...

He felt a searing blast of rage take him, cleansing, protecting, but he'd found that it stood no chance at all against the slashing heat of humiliation inside him, unmanning him. So he sat still and quiet again, waiting, until finally Doyle stood.

"Sorry mate. 'S not my scene," he said, almost gently and he'd reached for his holster and his jacket, shouldering into them with his usual easy grace.

"Pick you up tomorrow then...uh...7.30. Okay?" he continued, as if nothing had happened, and Bodie, gazing fixedly at his hands, clasped white-knuckle tight on his lap had taken his cue.

"Yeh. Sure."

So they were to act as if nothing had happened then, Bodie recognised as he heard the slam of the front door, and he'd sat there into the early hours, seesawing between mortification and pain and anger; and an odd gratitude that Doyle had let him off so lightly.

And for the next few months it had indeed been as if it'd never occurred and Bodie had almost stopped waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Well, now it had.

By the time they reached Marge's, Bodie was almost tempted to just drive off and leave Doyle to his fate, but then Ray looked across at him, almost comically hopeless, and Bodie felt his resentment begin to waver and melt. No point in holding a grudge, was there? Hated being out with Doyle... An' it was all in the past anyway. And nothing really happened.

He felt himself smile, unaware of the gentleness of it.

"C'mon then sunshine," he said. "Let's go an' fight the dragon," and Doyle looked back at him strangely, intensely the way he'd done on that roof, when he was saying thanks for his life.

After a moment, Bodie looked away, staring out of the front windscreen, and then he pushed open the driver's door, stretching as he stepped out into the street.

Peripherally, he was aware of Doyle's reluctant emergence on the other side, face buried briefly in his forearm propped on the car roof.

Then Ray straightened and they walked across the street, side by side, to Marge's.

They drove home in a kind of stunned silence, Doyle sitting shell-shocked in the passenger seat beside a near hysterical Bodie.

The evening had been even worse than Bodie could have imagined.

Marge, dressed terrifyingly for business in low-cut black satin, had been barely polite to him once again, demanding to know why he'd tagged along too, and he'd left it to Doyle to gibber out a reply: that since they were partners, Cowley had sent them both round, and the fact that a small, intimate dinner table was laid very obviously for two, merely intensified the determined intricacy of Ray's explanation. At last, with Doyle practically begging that his partner be allowed to stay, Marge'd relented, hostility directed purely at Bodie, and Bodie himself settled down for an evening as official gooseberry. But his presence had barely seemed to slow Marge down at all.

She'd insisted on trying to feed Doyle titbits from her plate and Bodie had almost allowed his mirth to explode at the look of polite panic on Ray's face. But dinner had turned out to be the least of it.

Afterwards, she'd manoeuvred Ray onto the sofa, and having visually checked out his rear end on their first meeting, she appeared to have decided, hands everywhere, to go for a tactile exploration of his front.

Bodie hadn't known where to put himself. His first instinct was just to leave, but the sight of Doyle's desperately rolling eye as Marge attempted to stick her tongue down his throat, told Bodie that he'd never be forgiven such a betrayal.

His next urge was to give way to the hysterical laughter bubbling inside him at the sheer farce of the whole situation. But instead, he'd tried to do the honourable thing, face desperately pulled into a semblance of disapproving sobriety, and he'd cleared his throat loudly several times. The third harrumph seemed to get through, because Ray'd used the excuse to struggle free.

"Got company," he'd gasped out breathlessly, and an equally dishevelled and oxygen-starved Marge had turned to give Bodie a glare of concentrated dislike.

"Yes...well...maybe it's time Bodie was leaving," she said with venom and Ray leapt in urgently.

"Yeh...we both should." He struggled to his feet, fighting her clutching hands. "Lovely dinner, to get up early you know..."

Bodie'd taken his cue and risen as well, just as Ray was jerked backwards by his belt in one smooth movement onto the settee again.

"Alf'll drive you in tomorrow," Marge purred and Bodie felt a giggle leave him.

"No," Doyle returned desperately, "Got to be at home. 'n case of call outs." He looked hopefully to Bodie for support, and Bodie'd nodded vigorously, afraid to speak in case the giggles started in earnest. But the manic gleam in his eye must have registered with his partner, because he got a steel-plated glare for his trouble.

Marge had begun to stroke Ray on his inner thigh then, moving her hand inexorably toward his groin, and whatever she felt there seemed to please her. She smiled widely.

"Couldn't you call in, love...tell them you'll be here? Bodie'd tell them...Wouldn't you?" she demanded, turning a ferocious glare on Bodie, and the temptation was there so strong, to just say Yes and walk out, leaving Ray to his fate...Serve the little bastard right. But he'd taken a deep calming breath, looking into Doyle's pathetic face and said:

"Sorry Marge. Regulations."

After that, the departure'd been easier, in fact they'd made it to the door before Doyle was pinned there, with Marge kissing him desperately on the cheeks, the lips, the chin. Telling him she'd call him, they'd go to dinner alone next time, she'd organize the whole thing...

When they burst finally into the freezing night air, Doyle was flushed and shaken; Bodie was incoherent with laughter, all too aware that Ray was likely to belt him at any moment, but unable, completely unable to stop.

Was just...Marge's total determination to have what she wanted, ignoring all nuances, all hints, such obvious reluctance...and the look of blind panic on Ray's face... And having to hold his hilarity back had only made it worse of course, like trying not to laugh in church.

After a few helpless, whooping, weeping minutes leaning against the driver's door of the car, he finally calmed down, dimly conscious of Alf watching coldly from the doorway, and Ray standing propped against the car just looking at him across the roof.

Almost sheepishly, he wiped his eyes and got in, vaguely surprised by Doyle's self-control, that Ray hadn't just taken out his obvious discomfort on him as he usually did. But Doyle was calm when he climbed into the car after him and ominously silent throughout the journey home, until they pulled up outside his flat.

"There you go sunshine," Bodie said brightly, trying to make amends, "Got you home all safe an' sound. Bodie Chaperone Services always come through."

"Come up," was all Doyle said as he got out of the car and Bodie, surprised as he was by the abruptness of the summons, for once found himself curiously reluctant to obey.

"Uh...don't think so mate," he called after him "Knackered after all that excitement."

But Doyle merely leaned down again and stuck his head back into the car. "Need to talk to you," he said, and slammed the door, walking off with his distinctive, loping grace toward his building, so sure that his partner would follow.

Bodie sat there rigidly for several minutes, irritated by Doyle's presumption, and then, resignedly, he got out too. No gainsaying Doyle when he was in this mood. But his gut was churning annoyingly with apprehension, and he really wasn't sure why.

He trudged in several yards behind Doyle and by the time he'd followed him through the front door of his flat, Doyle was already at his drinks cabinet, pouring two hefty scotches.

"Er...not for me mate," Bodie protested absently, and Doyle stared at him in question. "Better not have any more. The Cow won't love me if I get done, will he?"

But Doyle just smiled very slightly and strolled across to Bodie, still standing by the front door, to thrust a glass into his hand.

"Can get a taxi if necessary," he said casually and walked away to slump down on his sofa.

By now, the strangeness of Doyle's behaviour was seriously irritating Bodie, but he followed him nevertheless, making to sit down in Doyle's single easy chair set beside the settee, balancing his scotch carefully in one hand.

"Not there mate. Here." Bodie looked across to see Ray patting the cushion beside him and he stared, bemused. "Bad spring. Could damage your assets," Doyle finished lugubriously, and more off-balance than ever, Bodie straightened and trailed across to him, unable to think of a reason not to. But as he seated himself gingerly on the sofa, he found himself edging as far from Doyle as possible, crammed up against the arm.

Doyle smiled again, that serene, all-knowing smile that could get up Bodie's nose as few other things could.

"So," Bodie said aggressively into the silence "What's so important?" Doyle said nothing, merely shrugged and widened his smile very slightly and Bodie felt the strange knot of nervousness in his stomach begin to tighten. "Thought you needed to talk."

"Why're you sitting so far away then?" was all Ray said and Bodie felt himself swallow involuntarily, his unease so obvious it infuriated him. What the fuck was Doyle playing at anyway? But he was beginning to suspect he already knew.

"Can't usually get close enough, can you?" he heard, and before he could register the oblique accusation in that, Doyle had shifted closer, until the length of their thighs was pressed together, and he laid a casual arm over the back of the sofa behind Bodie.

Aw.. you bastard... You rotten...sodding...bastard...

It mirrored completely Bodie's own actions on that night three months before, the night he'd wished and wished so hard to wipe out, and he felt now, hurt and mortification drenching him, flooding him like a tide at the mockery of it, and then rage, so great it paralysed him.

Ray was following the script exactly.

Dimly Bodie was aware of his partner's long fingers settling against his chin, pulling his flushed face round and then, Doyle leaned over him and planted a soft, sensuous kiss on his lips.

Bodie's rage exploded.

In one violent heave he threw Doyle off and jumped to his feet, knocking his own glass to the floor, to stand seething with anger by the sofa and Ray just lay there, looking up at him calmly, as if he'd entirely expected his partner to act like that.

Bodie's voice was low and vicious and shaking.

"What the fuck d'you think you're doing?"

And Doyle's easy reply:

"'d have thought it'd be obvious. 'M making a pass at you."

The suavity of it took Bodie's breath and then agonized fury surged ever higher.

"You little shit. This you gettin' your own back, is it? 'Cos I laughed at you you've gotta rub my nose in it? Should've fuckin' known." And of course he should. Should've realised that Ray'd taken it too calmly at the time; should've expected retribution from a bloke who could nurse a grudge, keep it warm for years.

He turned away, wounded beyond belief -- but Doyle was there behind him, hands forcing him round to face him and his absolute self-possession.

"God, you're a stupid cretin sometimes," he hissed "D'you really think I'd do that to you?" Bodie's wounded glare told him obviously that he did, and Doyle rubbed his hand angrily across his face. "Got a high opinion of me, 'aven't you mate?" he said, resentment dripping from every word, then, clearly fighting his own irritation that Bodie was being so difficult: "Just thought we should give it a go, that's all. Thought you wanted to."

Bodie stared at him disbelievingly.

"But you fuckin' didn't," he blurted, infuriated, and regretted it instantly, but Doyle only smiled again.

"Changed my mind," he said easily, all in control again, and so very sure of his own attraction.

Bodie said nothing, mind now racing, chasing an answer...What's behind it...? What's the bastard up to...? And then, like an electric shock to his flesh he heard again the conversation in the car, shoved away to be carefully forgotten, like other painful, hopeless things.

Because of Marge? Just to get rid of Marge? He'd use Bodie like that?

He grimaced, totally stunned by the depth of Doyle's manipulativeness.

Because -- oh yeah...he could see it alright...the whole scenario. Doyle giving just enough to persuade Bodie to do as he wanted -- and himself, all fired up and possessive, telling Marge where to go; ready to take on armies, never mind Alf and Herbert to keep Doyle to himself.

And then -- after he'd rid Doyle of his little embarrassment? Well then he'd be expendable again, wouldn't he?

He felt suddenly, icy cold; all illusions swinging and dying in the breeze.

"Thanks -- but no thanks," he choked out and he turned away before he did something he would really regret, moving swiftly toward the front door, but Doyle was there, darting in front of him and no longer so very calm.

"Why the hell not? You still want it, don't you?" he demanded aggressively, positioning himself so solidly in front of the door that Bodie knew he'd have to go through him to get out.

"Move Doyle," he growled, threatening without much hope, and Doyle didn't surprise him.

"No way. Not till you tell me what the fuck's wrong. We both know you want me. In fact..." he said consideringly "I'd say it's a bit more than that. So now, 'm offering to sleep with you and you look like I've kneed you in the balls."

Bodie stared at him, unable to think of anything to say that would adequately convey his raging sense of betrayal and fury at such condescension, and his silence seemed to infuriate Doyle further.

"Bodie," he said warningly, then, yelling, "What the fuck's wrong?"

Bodie stared at him narrow-eyed. "Get out of my fuckin' way Doyle."

"No! Not till you tell me what's happened."

"I'm telling you to move."

"An' I'm saying no. Can belt me if you like..." a shark's smile "...or try to. But you're not gettin' out of here till you tell me why you're actin' this way."

Somehow, that injured innocence, coming from Doyle, proved to be the final insult, all the provocation that was needed to crack Bodie's tenuous self-control, and it all boiled out of him in an instant: all the disappointment and hurt and resentment festering inside, until, crazy with it, he grabbed hold of Doyle's shoulders and slammed him viciously back against the front door and he didn't even register the lack of retaliation.

"I'm not your fucking plaything Doyle, an' I'm not gonna let you use me like you...use every poor bastard who wants you." He was completely unaware of the admission he'd made, his rage gloriously loose now. "Christ...even poor old Marge...Couldn't just play it straight with her, could you? Had to flirt with her, encourage her..." he thrust his face threateningly close to Doyle's "But you like admiration don't you sunshine, like having people want you, pine after you. Just so long as they don't try an' do somethin' about it, eh? Just so long as they back off when they're told.

"Bodie..." Doyle's skin was very pale now, his tongue moving over dry lips, but Bodie's anger would take no interruptions.

"So what d'you do when one of your admirers won't take no for an answer, eh? Gets too persistent? Well, s'obvious, isn't it? You set up some other poor sod to do the dirty work. 'She won't dare try and move in on your territory, Bodie'," he mimicked cruelly into Doyle's now astonished face.

"No! That's not..."

"Well you can just bloody forget it, Doyle. 'm flattered an' all that, seein' as how you seem to view me as a fate slightly better than Marge, but you really needn't make the ultimate sacrifice for me mate...'cos I'm not gonna get you out've the shit with her. Fact...I wouldn't piss on you 'f you were on fire."

He was puce with temper and contempt when he finished, nose to nose with Doyle, expecting, with relish, Ray's wild-eyed anger in response, because Doyle never liked to hear the truth about himself. But he still wasn't quite prepared for the hissing threat in Ray's voice.

"You stupid... fucking... bastard. You think I'd sleep with you just to get rid of Marge?"

"Course you fuckin' would," Bodie returned derisively "Gave the game away in the car, didn't you?"

"Was suggesting that as an excuse you dumb crud. An easy way out, seein' as how I thought it was gonna be true anyway." The volume intensified. "You think I can't say no to Marge? Was just lookin' for a way that wouldn't hurt her is all. 'S bloody obvious if you've got more 'n' one brain cell."

"Oh yeah?" mocking. "So why all this then? Why'd you come on like Mata Hari if you weren't after somethin'?" There was a pause, a shock of silence, then,

"Oh, I'm after somethin' alright." Doyle said, suddenly quite calm again and he smiled, totally without humour, narrow-eyed and predatory. Involuntarily, Bodie stepped back half a pace at the sheer threat of it, and Doyle immediately stepped forward, closing the gap between them again. "Bin thinking about it for a while..." he continued conversationally, "...since you tried your hand...maybe even before that...only...I hadn't worked things out properly...what it'd do to us an' all... Realised I wanted to try it with you anyway. For fuck's sake..." suddenly irritated again "...bin givin' out enough signals so you'd know I was gonna try it on...even tonight, in the car...was gonna try an' talk about it but you just looked like you were gonna 'ave a stroke... I mean...expected you'd be a bit iffy about it, but this is fuckin' ridiculous..."

Bodie stared at him, disbelieving, yet totally thrown.

Signals? What the fuck was he on about? Doyle hadn't been any different, had he? Behaved just the way he always did...

He was still dredging his memory for clues, unwillingly, compulsively, when Doyle made his move, expertly hooking his hand round Bodie's neck and pulling him forward in one smooth movement into a kiss.

This time, surprise did its work. Bodie's mouth, opened to protest, was instantly invaded by Doyle's strong, probing tongue and from that moment, the battle was more than half-way lost for Bodie. He fought, struggled to hold on to his outrage, his contempt, but he knew he really didn't want to resist: had imagined this for too long in his fantasies; just this -- Ray Doyle's tongue in his mouth.

His legs had begun to jellify by the time Doyle pulled back to look at him, and it took whole seconds for Bodie to gather the courage to open his eyes, expecting to see anything in Ray's face: mockery, triumph, amusement...But when he did look, all he saw was surprise, almost shock, disappearing slowly beneath the thick glaze of lust.

"Bloody 'ell," Doyle whispered hoarsely, grinning that chip-tooth grin, and when he pulled Bodie forward again, Bodie let him, falling into the kiss without any more thought of Marge, or being used, or being hurt.

That second, voracious kiss seemed to snap any remaining control in either of them, because when Bodie felt Doyle's hands frantically pushing his jacket off his shoulders, he immediately began to follow suit, dragging insistently at Ray's clothes until he could reach skin, golden and flawless over rock-hard muscle, and the sweet, hot pulsing between his legs grew and grew until he could hardly bear it.

He was dimly aware of Ray's hands on him, stripping him, revealing him, until finally, Doyle pulled him forward and it was skin on skin at last, such a honeyed, shocking sensation that he cried out with the excitement of it and heard Ray's answering moan, long and lost.

In the end, they went for the simplest, easiest relief, both so hot for it that desperation seemed closer than pleasure; so they pulled each other to the floor, Doyle struggling on top, trousers and underpants around their ankles, shoes still on, and began a primal rhythm so instinctive that neither felt anything but ease with it; slick, swollen pricks rubbing against each other, until Bodie was sure that if only he could open his eyes, if only he could look down, he would see visible sparks of ecstacy.

"Oh Chriiist..." he heard, moaned in his ear "'S fuckin' ...incredible..." and then the rhythm quickened, as the slow, sweet surge began like a molten hot tide through Bodie's loins and thighs, bursting from him in fierce, white gouts of semen, spilling over his own chest and Ray's. Then, vaguely, he heard an answering shout and Doyle convulsed on top of him and he felt more steaming hot liquid squirting onto his skin, dribbling down his stomach and sides onto the carpet beneath him.

He lay there for horrified, gasping minutes, trying to recover his breath and his composure, trying to come to terms with the intensity of it; the beauty of it. And he found all he wanted then was to hide: hide from Doyle, who'd tried it on and got laid; and from himself, deeply and irrevocably in love.

He felt movement at last on top of him and he could sense that Doyle had propped himself up shakily on his elbows and was staring into his face -- he could feel the stare, until finally, terrified and courageous, Bodie forced open his eyes again, fighting for a look of impish unconcern.

"You alright?" was all Doyle said, face inscrutable, and Bodie shrugged, grinning his best false, little boy smile.

"What d'you think?" he said with lecherous repletion and he got his reward when Doyle relaxed, grinning.

"Wellll...I think it was even better than I expected..." Doyle replied, almost teasingly, running a finger along Bodie's sweat-covered upper lip and then down along his bottom one, "...And I've gotta say...I expected one helluva lot." He paused, then, "Like I said...bin thinkin' about this for quite a while..." pensively now " know..." He looked up frankly into Bodie's eyes and frowned as he seemed to see the wariness in them. "Been watching you..." he continued, as if nothing was amiss "...lettin' it grow... Wanting you...Never thought it'd feel like that though," he finished candidly, reflectively, and Bodie, so miserably in love, couldn't control his fear and his resentment at the inequality of it, a moment longer.

"Still not gonna fight Marge over you," he said lightly, trying to show how little it mattered, and he almost revelled in the sudden recoil of Doyle's anger, anything to break the closeness between them, end Ray's purring satisfaction.

"You bastard," Doyle said, almost conversationally, but he seemed to catch himself before real temper took hold, and Bodie found he was appalled by that, frightened of what Ray might see. He stared mutely into his partner's enigmatic green eyes. "You still think that?" Doyle asked, and Bodie shrugged, uncomfortable with the intensity of this, wanting nothing more at that moment than that Doyle should get off him, let him dress, let him leave.

But Doyle didn't move, merely continued to look at him consideringly.

"S'pose I'll just have to prove it to you then," he said at last, full of such suggestive promise, and Bodie flinched, because he knew -- he knew without doubt that he wouldn't be able to go through another session like that with Doyle tonight, without blurting something embarrassing, incriminating, laughable.

"Nothin' to prove," he said quickly "We've 'ad it off like you said...satisfied our curiosity. 'S no big deal any more, is it?" Doyle was still looking at him, eyes narrowed now in calculation until Bodie felt his skin flushing red with nervousness and dawning anger. Hated things like this...

"'f you think that, you're dumber than you look," Doyle said coolly. "But then, whether you believe it or not 's beside the point. 'm not lettin' it go."

"You're not...?" Bodie began, welcoming outrage.

"Yeah...I'm not," suddenly belligerent "You're stuck with me now, Bodie, like it or not an' you won't find me as easy to dump as your birds, so get used to it."

There was a bewildered silence as Bodie digested that, then:

"What's your game?" he asked aggressively.

"How 'bout Happy Families?" Doyle returned and silenced Bodie completely as he tried to work that one out, knowing he'd been wrong-footed by Doyle yet again, still desperately trying to sift out his motives.

"Think we're gonna have to give this a proper go, don't you?" Ray continued calmly and Bodie looked at him, frowning his apprehension. "Mean...we can't waste this, can we?" he ran a hand down Bodie's flank. " Or this..." he said more gently, touching his finger to Bodie's lips. "And especially not this," he finished, laying his palm securely over Bodie's heart. And Bodie said nothing, could say nothing, until Doyle leaned down to kiss him softly.

"Why're you doin' this Ray?" Bodie asked finally, hoarsely, when the kiss ended, hearing his own vulnerability so clearly, and Ray was still so close that their lips brushed when he spoke. Doyle pulled back very slightly.

"Same reason you are," he said, and their eyes met and held, but Bodie, hope tentatively loosed at last, said nothing, absolutely determined in his insecurity that for once, Doyle would use the words; that for once, Ray wouldn't have the upper hand. At last, Doyle's mouth twitched into a wry grin and he pressed minutely forward again till their lips touched.

"S'pose I love you you cretin...why d'you think?" he said gently, resignedly, and Bodie felt each of the words form against his mouth. They turned easily into a kiss, breathless with excitement and emotion.

"You're goin' to break Marge's heart when you tell her," Bodie said gleefully at last, hugging Doyle tightly to him, and Ray raised his head, grinning at him lazily, so seductive that Bodie felt his throat tighten at the beauty of it.

"Nah...'m not gonna say a word about us..." he said "Just gonna tell her I'm not interested." Bodie raised an eloquently sceptical eyebrow "Yeah...well... 've said goodbye to plenty birds 'aven't I? Should have enough practice."

"Yeah...but Marge..."

Doyle silenced him with a long finger against his lips.

"I'll cope," he said. "An' you'll save me if I can't," he added cheekily and Bodie pulled him down again, captivated afresh.

Oh yeh, he thought, hazy with desire and adoration, I'll save you sweetheart... save you from everythin' but me.

Outside, as the night wore on, Alf settled himself deeper in the driver's seat of his car, and began to wonder exactly what he was going to tell Marge.

-- THE END --

Originally published in No Holds Barred 6, Kathleen Resch, 1994

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