Do You Know What I Know
by PR Zed
Story 4 in the Comfort and Joy series, following Making Plans for Bodie, Comfort and Joy, and Family Secrets; and followed by Home for the Holidays
Written for Discovered in the Mistletoe, on the discoveredinalj livejournal community. Thanks to Ancastar and Justacat for helpful beta comments.
It had been a long night and had the promise of being an even longer day. The whole squad had been running around London for weeks, making certain that the rumours and threats of a Christmas bombing campaign from the Irish lot didn't materialize. The sun hadn't even dawned yet on this early December morning, but Doyle had already sat down to breakfast in his kitchen. He was still a little bleary-eyed and hoping a mug of tea would be enough to get him moving when he heard a key in the front door of his flat.
"Bodie," he yelled around a mouthful of toast. "That you?"
"Nah," his partner threw back. "It's the Cow himself, come wondering why you're not already out on the streets, putting villains away by the droves."
"Ha, bloody, ha. It's not even gone seven. And after the night we had, he can bloody well wait for us to come in when we bloody well please." Doyle was still irritated that Bodie hadn't come home with him last night. Not that either one of them would have had the energy for more than a quick wank, but it was the principle of the thing. They spent more time with each other than not these days, and Doyle was finding the times they didn't increasingly difficult. Getting soft in his old age, no doubt about it.
"I'll tell him that, shall I?" Bodie said, entering the kitchen and sitting in the chair across from Doyle, a smug grin on his face.
"You would too, wouldn't you? Be just like you to drop me in it with Cowley."
"I'd never be that mean," Bodie said, though his face told an entirely different story. "'Ere you go. Postman's been early." Bodie slung an expensive-looking vellum envelope, addressed in a flowery calligraphic hand that Doyle didn't recognize, across the kitchen table and nearly into Doyle's toast. "Raymond Doyle, Esquire, you have a missive." Bodie dropped into his poshest piss-taking accent. "Has Cowley invited you to a Whitehall reception and left my name off the list?"
Doyle put down his morning cuppa and squinted at the envelope. "It's postmarked Derby, so I doubt it's an invite to the Home Secretary's Christmas soirée."
"Derby. Christ, it's probably one of your mad cousins inviting us to another christening."
"Nah, none of them's reproduced lately." He gave Bodie a forbidding look. "And anyway, how do you know they'd invite you as well?"
"Whither thou goest, Raymond." Bodie waggled his eyebrows at Doyle and gave him a demented grin.
"I don't know why I bother with you, really I don't."
"It's my handsome looks and the spectacular sex."
"Madman, that's what you are."
"C'mon, Doyle. Leave off slagging me and open the bloody letter. I want to see what's inside, even if you don't."
"I've no idea what it could be." Doyle examined the envelope as if he were expecting it to contain a letter bomb rather than something from his family. "Unless..." He broke off and tore open the envelope, smiling as he read the card inside. "Thought so. She's done it now."
"Who's done what?"
"Cath. She's convinced Kevin to marry her."
"Poor bastard, marrying into the Doyle clan."
"Oi. Don't you go rubbishing my family."
"Oh, your family's all right, Doyle. But I'm not sure about Cath's brother. Right mad bastard he is."
"Idiot," Doyle said, kicking Bodie under the table.
"When's the big day?" Bodie asked, snatching the invitation out of Doyle's hand.
"The week before Christmas." Doyle bit his lip. "Christ, that's not much notice. Hope the Cow'll give us the time off."
"What is it with your lot and Christmas weddings?" Bodie flipped the invitation onto the table.
"You've got me. Don't see why Cath couldn't have waited 'til the spring." Doyle frowned. "And I can't say that I'm looking forward to another family wedding."
"Nothing wrong with weddings, Doyle. Good grub, good booze."
"For you, maybe. All I'm likely to get is an interrogation from the family. 'Why aren't you married, Ray? When are you going to find a nice girl, Ray?' Bloody annoying."
"I could help you out there," Bodie said with a wicked grin.
"Oh, yeah? 'Ow's that?"
"Could find a bit of mistletoe at the reception and snog you rotten. They wouldn't ask about you finding a nice girl then."
"Bloody hell," Doyle said, an almost-smile crossing his face as he considered the consequences of kissing Bodie under the mistletoe. "They'd lynch me for sure."
"No, but some of my big butch cousins might. Don't take kindly to poofs, that lot."
"Don't worry. I'd protect you, petal."
"Stupid sod," Doyle said with a fond look. Then he wrinkled his nose as he considered what would happen if he really did tell his family about Bodie. Some of his family, anyway. "You know, I reckon maybe it's time I tell my mum."
"Tell her what?"
"You must be joking."
"Not in the slightest. I mean, she's got to find out sometime."
"So you want to tell her the day of your sister's wedding?" Bodie nearly choked. "Cath'd have your hide."
"Okay, maybe not at Cath's wedding, but I should tell her soon." Doyle paused. "What about you?"
"What about me?" Bodie asked blithely.
"None of your family you'd want to tell?"
"No," Bodie said, his face closing down immediately.
"Never talk about your lot, do you?"
"I've no interest in them. I don't see why you would."
"Am I ever going to meet this mythical family of yours?"
"Let's just keep them mythical, why don't we?"
"They can't be that bad."
"They can be exactly that bad. And anyway, they're mostly dead now."
"Christ, you're a cold one."
"Well, if you really want to know," Bodie said, slouching down in the chair with a nonchalance so studied Doyle knew it was utterly feigned. "My mam ran off with another bloke when I was ten. Never heard from her again. Gran died when I was near thirteen. And if there's any justice in this world, my old man drank himself to death years ago. And that's it for the illustrious Bodie clan, apart from a few cousins I couldn't stand when I was a kid and haven't seen since I pissed off to Africa."
"Jesus, Bodie," Doyle said, wondering if he'd ever stop stumbling into the minefields of Bodie's past, little patches of land marked Liverpool and Jordan and Armagh. "Sorry."
"Don't be," Bodie said firmly. "I don't think about any of them. No reason you should. Besides," Bodie continued, nudging Doyle's leg with his toe, "it means I can happily appropriate your family with no jealousy involved."
"Sometimes I think my sisters'd like to appropriate you right back and dump their brother in the river Derwent."
"That's only because I'm a handsome charming fella and you're an irritating bit of scruff."
"Ta very much," Doyle said, aiming a kick at Bodie's shin.
"But you're my irritating bit of scruff." Bodie stood and dropped a quick kiss on the top of Doyle's head before turning to the kitchen counter. "Now, where's my tea?"
Cath hadn't meant to drop a family bombshell on her sister. Not at all. She'd only gone to see Nance to get some advice on the wedding arrangements. On how to keep the vicar out of the whisky and how to set up the church hall for the reception. And that's all they'd been talking about, sitting in Nance's kitchen, with Nance peeling potatoes as her oldest, Colin, played with his blocks at their feet.
But then the conversation had drifted to the guest list, and it all went south.
"You inviting Aunt Patty?" Nance asked.
"Can hardly help it, can I? It'd look funny, leaving mum's sister off the list."
"She's such a cow, it'd be worth it, though. Wouldn't it?"
"You're terrible," Cath said, though she couldn't help laughing. Aunt Patty was no one's favourite relative.
"You thought about the cousins bringing boyfriends and girlfriends?"
"All accounted for. Lily's bringing her latest lad. The boys are all coming stag."
"What about Ray?"
"What about him?"
"Is he bringing a girlfriend?"
Cath had to restrain herself from laughing, but managed it. Barely. "No. Think he's bringing Bodie." She knew damn well and fine he was bringing Bodie. There'd never been a chance he'd bring anyone else.
"Bloody hell," Nance said. "Why does that big daft git always have to trail after Ray to family events?"
"Bodie's not so bad," Cath said, privately thinking that Nance didn't want to go disparaging Bodie's good name in front of Ray. He'd flay her alive in seconds flat. "And anyway, the kids love him." She appealed to Colin for an expert opinion. "You like Uncle Bodie, don't you Col?"
"Yeah," Colin said, a grin lighting up his cherub's face. "'E gives us all piggyback rides. And 'e gave me a whole pound on Bonfire Night."
"They only like him because he bribes them," Nance said with a disdainful sniff. She looked down at her son. "And you, young man, need to take your sister and go get cleaned up. I'll have tea on in half an hour, and I know how the two of you dawdle."
Colin whined, but left the room with his toys, and shortly thereafter could be heard dragging his sister out of the lounge where she'd set up her dolls and up the stairs.
"Bet you'll be happy enough to see Uncle Bodie the day of the wedding, though," Cath said. "No one can keep the kids entertained like he does. It'll leave you free to get stuck into the sherry and gossip.
"I wish you wouldn't call him that."
"Call who what?"
"Call that one Uncle Bodie. He's not their uncle."
"Might as well be, though."
"What do you mean?"
"Oh, come on. You can't be that thick," Cath said, overcome with a sudden need to shock Nance and conveniently forgetting her promise to Ray not to say anything to the rest of the family about him and Bodie. After all, he'd had nearly a year to say something. If he hadn't gotten around to it, that was his lookout.
"I don't know..." Nance's voice trailed off, and Cath could see the exact moment when the penny dropped. The colour drained from her face and her eyes went very wide indeed. "You don't mean..."
"That's exactly what I mean," Cath said, a smug smile firmly in place.
"Christ, Ray a poof. I'd never have thought it."
"Then you haven't been paying attention. He's swung both ways since he was in short trousers."
"How do you know?"
"Told me, didn't he?"
"No, about liking boys. Back when we were kids."
"And did he tell you about Bodie too?"
"Nah. I sussed that out myself, back at Pamela's wedding."
"Pamela's wedding? It's been going on a year?" Nance's eyes went even wider. "Ray's never lasted with anyone a year."
"I think Bodie's going to last a lot longer than a year. They're good together, don't you think?"
"Christ," Nance said, putting down her potato peeler and running the back of her hand across her forehead. "Does mum know?"
"No," Cath said firmly. "And you're not to tell her. Ray wants that pleasure for himself."
"I'd like to be a fly on the wall for that conversation," Nance said, a slight smile breaking through the shock on her face. "Wouldn't you?"
"Give mum some credit. I'll just bet she takes the news better than you."
"Yeah, she probably will. Has hidden depths, our mum. Just like Ray." Nance paused and shook her head. "Ray and Bodie. Who'd have thought it?" She smiled and went back to peeling her potatoes.
Well, that went better than it could have done, Cath thought. But then something else struck her. She was going to have to warn Ray...
It was a week before Cath's wedding, and Cowley had finally seen fit to give them a day off. They'd been chasing rumours of terrorists and drug cartels intent on disturbing the streets of old London without break for so long that Doyle knew he had few enough reserves left. Even Bodie was looking less unflappable than usual. They'd decided to take advantage of the time off and go to ground in Doyle's flat with nothing more planned for the day than long naps, a takeaway meal and bouts of desultory sex.
When the phone rang, rousing them both from where they slept entwined on the sofa, the telly chattering in the corner, Doyle half-expected it to be Cowley calling them back in on a surprise operation. But when he'd pushed himself off Bodie's chest and moved across the room to answer the phone, he heard not the Cow, but his sister.
"'lo Ray. How are you doing?"
"Cath. Didn't expect to hear from you." Doyle leaned against the wall and gave Bodie a quick grin.
"Just thought I'd give you a bell. How are you?"
"Fine. Working hard to keep the usual batch of nutters from making the holidays a mess for the rest of us. How about you?"
"And Bodie?" Cath said, entirely ignoring his question.
"He's here, and set on eating me out of house and home." He grinned at Bodie, who only pursed his lips in return and gave him a half-hearted two-finger salute. "Now if you're done with the small talk, do you want to tell me what's wrong?"
"Does something have to be wrong for me to call my baby brother?"
"Usually, no. The week before your wedding, definitely. Now, why'd you call, Cath?"
"Well..." Cath said, and in the pause before she continued, Doyle could almost see her bite her lip like she'd done when she was a kid working up the courage to tell her younger brother that the family cat had died. And he immediately jumped to the worst conclusion.
"What's wrong, Cath? Is it mum?" Bodie sat up immediately straighter and gave him a concerned look.
"No! Nothing like that. Mum's fine. Everyone's fine."
"Then what is it? Kev's not called off the wedding, has he?"
"No. And I'm going to tell him you said that. He'll be hurt."
"Stop stalling, Cath."
"Oh, all right. I think I might have dropped you in it."
"Dropped me in what?"
"Well, you and Bodie, actually."
Doyle felt a wash of ice water flood his veins. "What have you done, Cath?"
"I didn't mean to say anything, but I was over at Nance's talking about the wedding and she insulted Bodie and it just slipped out."
"What slipped out?"
"I told her about you. You and Bodie, that is. That you're, you know, together."
"Christ, Cath, you promised." Doyle ran his free hand nervously through his curls.
"I know, Ray. I knew I shouldn't do it. But you know how Nance gets and I just wanted to get up her nose. I can't help myself with her sometimes."
"Jesus." Doyle slid down the wall and settled on the floor with a thump. Bodie was immediately at his side.
Everything all right? Bodie mouthed silently. Doyle frowned, nodded and gripped Bodie by the shoulder.
"Ray. Ray?" Doyle could hear Cath's voice getting more concerned by the second, but he wasn't sure what to say to her. Finally, he felt Bodie pry the receiver out of his hand.
"Cath. What did you say to your brother? Tell him that Derby's going to get a proper football club at last?"
Doyle roused himself enough at that to punch Bodie on the arm. Bodie pushed him off without effort and then frowned. As Doyle watched, the blood drained from Bodie's face and he took on his best gobsmacked guppy look.
"Christ, Cath," he finally said.
Well, Doyle told himself, this day had to come. As well it happened now as later. He grabbed the phone back from an unresisting Bodie.
"Ray, what happened to Bodie?"
"I think you've given him a bit of a turn, love." At that, Bodie finally closed his mouth and shot Doyle a look that promised retaliation later.
"I'm sorry, Ray. Sorry for both of you. I didn't mean to say anything, honestly."
"No help for it now," Doyle said philosophically. "And I suppose she had to find out sometime."
"It's not just Nance. You know she'll have told Jenny and Kay. Those three never keep secrets from each other."
"I know. As long as they don't tell mum."
"I warned her not to," Cath said firmly. "And I reckon they're all discreet enough to keep their mouths shut. But you're going to have to tell her yourself, Ray. And sooner rather than later."
"You've been saying that for months."
"I've said I'll tell her and I will," Doyle said, and he could hear the exasperation in his own voice. "After the wedding, though."
"Christ, you'd think I was asking you to face an IRA gunman, not talk to your own mother."
"Think I might take the IRA over mum." And that finally got a smile out of Bodie.
"I'm not a coward. I just know when I'm outclassed."
"Listen, Ray, I should ring off. I've got the caterers to talk to and I need to run over to Kev's. He's been on the brink of throwing a wobbly the last few days, threatening to grab me and elope. I need to calm him down."
"Yeah, all right. You get on with it. I'll see you at the wedding."
"Cheers, Ray," Cath said, then hung up before Doyle could say anything else.
"Well," Doyle said, looking at Bodie where he sat on the floor across from him. "Still want to appropriate my daft family?"
"We could get lucky," Bodie said.
"The IRA could launch a bombing campaign and keep us away from Derby on Saturday."
"And Cath called me a coward," Doyle said, nudging Bodie's thigh with a sock-clad foot.
"I'm never a coward," Bodie said, and then launched himself at Doyle and set out to prove exactly how brave he was.
From the moment they walked into St. Anne's church, Bodie wasn't sure he was going to survive Cath's wedding.
He heard the whispering first. He turned automatically toward the direction it came from and found the Sisters Doyle, all but Cath, conspiring together like teenage schoolgirls rather than women grown with families of their own. When Nance looked up and noticed Bodie's eyes upon her, the three of them broke into tittering laughter that made his blood run cold.
Bodie looked over at Doyle, but his partner showed no reaction to his sisters' actions. There was no way that Doyle hadn't seen what was going on, so Bodie reckoned he'd either decided to take the high road and ignore it or was saving his revenge for later. Knowing Doyle, Bodie'd have bet anything that a belated settling of scores was the more likely alternative.
The wedding itself passed relatively uneventfully. Cath was beautiful and Kevin was beaming and they both looked extremely happy. The worst Bodie had to deal with were a few stolen looks from Nance and Kay, Jenny being the only one of the Doyle siblings with any sense of decorum. The third time Kay turned her head to peek at him, Bodie risked giving her his best cross-eyed maniac expression. That earned a snicker from Kay and an elbow in the ribs from Doyle. Which proved Ray was paying attention, at least, even if it would leave a bruise.
Bodie had optimistically hoped he could disappear with the kids at the reception and let Doyle deal with his sisters and cousins. That was the usual pattern at family gatherings, set at Pamela's wedding last year. But this time, the pattern was broken. A teenage cousin was sent off to make sure the sprogs didn't commit any more than the usual mayhem, and Bodie and Doyle were surrounded by Doyle's sisters. Fuelled by sherry and gin and tonics, Nance and Kay and Jenny proceeded to take the piss out of Doyle and to sigh that it was "a waste" that Bodie had taken up with their brother.
It was sheer hell for Bodie. He alternately wished that the ground would open up and swallow them both, or possibly Doyle's sisters, or that Doyle's temper would finally slip its leash and he'd tear a strip off the three of them. Unfortunately, the ground failed to oblige and for once Doyle seemed to have firm control over his fury. In fact, the bastard even had the cheek to look amused by it all. Bodie took refuge in glasses of cheap champagne snagged off trays circulated by bored-looking waiters.
Finally, after an eternity that Bodie's watch assured him was only an hour, they were rescued by Mrs. Doyle, who shooed off her daughters and took her son by the arm. She had the same slanted eyes and curling hair as her children, but her hair was silver and her face was creased with lines caused more by laughter than care.
"Raymond," she said, the pleasure in her voice clear for everyone to hear. "I was afraid your Mr. Cowley might find some terribly serious assignment for you this weekend."
"He wouldn't dare, mum. Think he's a bit scared of you."
"Nonsense," Mrs. Doyle said, but Bodie saw a flash of the family fire behind her eyes and remembered the bollocking she'd given George Cowley after Ray had been shot. She put an arm around her only son and surveyed the crowd around her, her eyes lingering on the dance floor where Cath and Kevin swirled, oblivious to anyone but each other. "Only you left, Raymond." Mrs. Doyle tightened her grip on Ray. "And you're not getting any younger, are you?"
"Leave off, mum," Doyle said, good-naturedly releasing his mother's arm.
"Twenty-five good years I had with your dad. Not all of them were easy, but I wouldn't trade a single day. Not for all the tea in China."
"So you always say."
"Oh, you're hopeless." She slapped her son on the arm and moved over to his partner. "What about, you, Bodie? No one special in your life?"
Bodie nearly choked on his champagne, but managed to swallow it with only a slight tearing in his eyes.
"No, Mrs. Doyle. Confirmed bachelor, that's me."
"I wonder about you two, really I do," she said, somewhat cryptically. For a moment, Bodie had a premonition that she knew exactly what was between them. But then he shook off the paranoia that their occupation encouraged and gave Doyle's mum the sunniest look he could manage.
"Nothing to wonder about with me," Bodie said. "Uncomplicated lad, aren't I?"
"That's the truth," Doyle said with a snort.
"Now, be nice to your mate, Raymond." She pointed a finger at her son in a way that reminded Bodie inescapably of Doyle himself. He clearly got more than his looks from his mother. "And both of you enjoy yourself. Don't let the girls get to you. You know how they are."
"Yes, mum," Doyle said, with a meekness that Bodie recognized as a sham. And clearly his mother knew that as well, as she gave a little laugh and swatted the back of his head.
"Away with you. Raymond, your cousin Charlie wanted a word with you and Bodie." Bodie smiled, cousin Charlie always being good for a whisky or three. "And Bodie, don't you mind my daughters. They're mostly good girls." With a hug for each of them, she was gone.
The rest of the reception passed more pleasantly for Bodie. Doyle's sisters decided to leave them alone, and cousin Charlie did indeed spring for several whiskies apiece, in exchange for fabricated stories of their derring-do in CI5. Cath, looking radiantly happy, claimed a dance with Bodie and then with Doyle, while Kevin looked on fondly from the sidelines.
By the end of the evening, when the guests were finally beginning to drift away, Bodie had nearly stopped worrying about exactly what the members of Doyle's family knew about them.
And then Doyle's mother caught him alone.
He'd been sitting at a table, watching while Doyle took one of his younger cousins for a turn on the dance floor and sipping slowly at yet another glass of whisky. He was pleasantly pissed and feeling for once that all was right with the world, or at least this tiny piece of it. Mrs. Doyle was upon him before he knew it, a glass of sherry in her hand, a smile on her face.
"Mind if I join you, Bodie?"
"Not at all, Mrs. Doyle," Bodie said, indicating the chair across from him with an expansive gesture made more so by the booze bubbling through his bloodstream.
"You might as well call me Margaret. You see me often enough."
"All right, Margaret," Bodie said, though he felt as odd addressing Doyle's mother by her given name as he would calling the Cow George.
They sat in pleasant silence for a minute, watching the few remaining dancers and the remains of the crowd drift past. It was Margaret Doyle who finally broke the silence between them.
"Bodie, can I ask you a question?"
"Of course," Bodie said with a smile. "Anything."
"Do you make my son happy?"
Bodie managed to keep the mouthful of whisky he'd just taken from coming out his nose, but failed to keep it from going down the wrong pipe. As he sputtered and choked, Doyle's mother pounded him on the back.
"I'm sorry, Bodie," she said, with an expression that spoke more of amusement that remorse. "I didn't mean to throw you off."
"You might have warned me," Bodie said. "I could've had a heart attack."
"I thought you CI5 types were incapable of being shocked." Yeah, there it was: the tiniest trace of amused glee lurking behind green eyes remarkably like her son's. Margaret Doyle was definitely enjoying herself.
"You Doyles are going to be the death of me," Bodie said, resting his head on one hand.
"Nonsense. You're a strong lad. You'll survive anything we can throw at you."
It was then that the song ended and Doyle returned to the table, looking cautiously between his mother and his partner.
"Everything all right?" Doyle asked.
"She knows," Bodie said, nodding in the direction of Margaret Doyle.
"I don't..." Doyle began, and then abruptly stopped. He sat down hard at the table and stared at his mother. At least, Bodie thought, he didn't look quite so shocked as when Cath had called.
"How long have you known?" Doyle asked carefully.
"Ages. Since when you were shot, love." Bodie saw a shadow of worry behind the sunny look on her face, even as he felt his own jaw drop open. "Bodie was so worried about you, then."
"But we weren't..." Doyle sputtered and caught Bodie's eye.
Bodie could only shrug. "Don't look at me, mate. I'm beginning to think all the Doyle women are witches."
"Well, if you weren't together then, it was only a matter of time," Margaret Doyle said matter-of-factly. And really, Bodie thought, there was no arguing with that. "I asked Bodie if he made you happy, but he didn't answer. Does he?"
Bodie looked down at the table, more than a little mortified that Doyle's mother was asking about something they barely talked about themselves. Doyle, however, didn't hesitate a moment.
"Yeah. He makes me happy." Bodie looked up to find Doyle grinning at him like a loon.
"And Ray makes you happy, Bodie?"
"Yeah," Bodie said, more sure of his feelings for Doyle than of anything else in his life. "He does."
"That's all that matters. I only want to see my children happy." With that, she stood, kissed the top of Doyle's curly head, patted Bodie's back and walked over to where Cath and Kevin were saying goodbye to the last of their guests.
Doyle pulled his chair closer to Bodie's and laid a hand on his shoulder.
"I reckon that makes you one of the family, Bodie."
"I reckon you might be right," Bodie said, and placed his own hand over Doyle's, enjoying the feeling of the heat of Doyle's skin beneath his palm. "Best Christmas present I ever had."
"Happy Christmas, you great bastard," Doyle said, squeezing his shoulder.
"Happy Christmas, you mad golli." Bodie stood, ruffled Doyle's curls, and then gave him a grin. "Last one to the door pays for the cab to the hotel," he said quickly, and started running.
Doyle never stood a chance. But then, where Doyle was concerned, neither did Bodie.
-- THE END --