No Score Draw
Suddenly I'm not myself
Behind the facade is the lonely fountain head
Suddenly you are the one
Who opens the gates to this unruly garden
Come and let this man adore you
Crumb by crumb in this big black forest
Maybe in you I'll believe
Maybe I'll believe in you."
--Rufus Wainwright, Crumb by Crumb, from Want Two, 2004
It should have been comforting, the Classified Football Results on a dark Saturday afternoon, no lights in the front room. Echoes of uncomplicated youth, too-sweet tea and Grandad sitting by the fire in a string vest.
Doyle knew he should be able to make the instant adjustment necessary, from death to football, and he badly wanted to. Even more so with Bodie perched on the edge of his mastermind chair, the picture of rapt attention, saying, "You ever been to Burnley, Doyle? Now there's a crap ground .. imagine being a Burnley fan, eh?"
Burnley... Doyle couldn't even pin down, for the moment, where Burnley was. North-east? North-west? Was it Yorkshire, or was that Barnsley? He so wanted to join in a ridiculous, rambling conversation about it but he couldn't. The mental and physical detritus of the day was still stuck to him in shards, while Bodie was shard-free.
Irrational rage rattled him where he stood. Did Bodie not register this stuff anymore? Did he not give a flying fuck about shovelling people into body-bags? Especially on a Saturday afternoon when the rest of the world was out shopping. Doyle believed in the wisdom of at least taking a moment to...acknowledge...otherwise, well, you'd get lost in the big black forest. Wouldn't you?
"Stop being so precious," Bodie went on, his voice that tell-tale drawl of squashed emotions, eyes still on the screen. "The dead ones were all on the other side. We won. Four-nil."
Cynical. Aggressive. Unemotional. Worse than that, possibly. Possibly unable to face reality.
All very good reasons why Doyle knew he probably shouldn't be here.
"You know," he said, lobbing in a challenge that would surely trip a heated response. "I never, ever slept with a woman as hard-arsed as you."
"Hard-arsed?" crowed Bodie, rocking back in the chair, but not looking at him. "You don't know the half of it, mate. They wanted to kill us, Doyle. And not in a nice way, know what I mean? I don't care that we got them. I don't care about them. Now will you shut the fuck up and let me look at this." He was glaring at the screen now and if Bodie was Doyle-ing him at this stage, it meant their usual cackhanded attempts to find an accommodation with each other after a job were failing.
"Listen, I'm going home," Doyle said after a minute more, half watching the results tripping along the bottom of the screen.
Doyle hesitated, all but crushed by the dismissal. That must mean something, he supposed, as he let himself out the door. It must mean he was mad. And Bodie must be, too, because he started it.
One minute they had just been mates in adversity, Bodie berating Doyle bitterly for scaring the shit out of him by having the bloody cheek to nearly get killed, a hairsbreadth away from emoting, and then the next he had got this look on his face that completely floored Doyle, literally floored him. Swept off his feet and on to the carpet while his arm was still in plaster, bringing a lamp and a small table down with him. "It's shag pile you know," Bodie had said in his best licentious tone, which might normally have made Doyle laugh out loud. Only on this occasion the rough-gentle way Bodie had got him down, and the shock of those lips on his mouth, just plain whipped the air out of his lungs.
A sobering suspicion that there was a whole lot more to it than the rumpled sheets and disarranged furniture suggested was snuffed out when Bodie abruptly withdrew, bringing down the shutters quicker than a landlady on a wet weekend in Scarborough. It was probably at that moment that Doyle realised how big it really was. Bodie, after all, had forged a career out of covering up that he could be as deep as the oceans.
Take his reaction to today's events, his not-tonight-Josephine act, sullen because he wanted to bury it all instead of sorting it out.
Doyle pattered down the stairs, knowing that Bodie was not really interested in the Division Four results. A cover, as usual. He just wanted to be perverse. Or perhaps he didn't know what he wanted.
"But you now...you want love and romance, don't you, sunshine?"
Bodie had said those words against the back of his neck. Doyle had been face down in a pillow at the time, nursing his cast beneath him, his other hand palmed against the bedhead while the sensation of Bodie, slick, and sliding unchecked into central office, made the breath go missing in his chest.
"I can do that, Ray, only...I can do...this...better."
And Doyle's head had nearly hit the wall. It was a peculiar realisation that this alien invader, smooth as glass and stiff as buckram, was some kind of perfect fit. His breath had come bursting back out in an exultant yelp.
"Hello...wondered if you were still with me."
Despite the brimming delight in the voice breathing into his hair, Doyle had heard insecurity there too and had fallen instantly in love with it. Been an uphill battle to find it again, mind you.
Down on the street he turned up his collar and sucked in the evening air. It was not raining much anymore, but the atmosphere was tacky and the pavement was spangled with lights. He ached, like he was kicked in the guts, and he knew it wasn't bodybags.
Bodie let the Grandstand credits roll before admitting that he felt god-awful.
A hard twenty-four hours' graft had been topped off this morning by a half-cocked operation which had nearly got out of control. At one point a pump-action shotgun had been levelled at the back of his head and Bodie had felt his life trying to pass in front of his eyes. In the end they had been forced to take the whole lot out, do or die It had made Bodie throw up in a drain afterwards, although no-one noticed, and he had only just stopped feeling seasick. And it had rocked Doyle, as usual.
Doyle's world tilted like this every time. Sometimes it tilted so far it nearly tipped off its axis and reeled away into dark space. Bodie feared that one day it would do just that, exploding into billions of sharp pieces and leaving him with nothing.
Which would probably serve him right, he supposed. What George Cowley was pleased to call rashness had got him into a shedload of trouble over the years. Now he was in trouble again. Two seconds before he'd decided to sink his lips against Doyle's that afternoon he had been thinking of something else entirely -- mostly how close Doyle had come to falling out of the car on to his head instead of on to his arm, not to mention how close he had been to falling under an articulated lorry coming the other way. When, after a few more seconds, with his stomach twisted up into the kind of knots he hadn't felt since he was a teenager, and he had found Doyle was coming back at him, strong and absolutely sure, he was as surprised as anyone. He had expected to be knocked into next Friday.
They'd really gone for it that first time, as if it was going to be a one-off. Then all that simulation in the lift, that tang of desire, the hilarity of arriving on the ground floor and the doors opening on to two gorgeous women who couldn't quite be sure what they had just missed.
He had felt that happy, when they tottered out. At that moment they couldn't have been further away from Derby, from Liverpool, from Whitehall, from George. But happiness was not something Bodie embraced without deep suspicion. Because, if it felt that right then it must be dangerous.
Dangerous indeed, for here they were with Doyle going off in a strop and him feeling quite bereft.
Bodie unfolded his protesting limbs from the mastermind chair.
I put just about everything I've got into keeping you alive, matey. Can't expect me to make you happy as well.
He had his head in the oven when someone hammered on the door, although only because he couldn't work out why the light inside wasn't on anymore.
There were several possibilities as to who was outside.
His downstairs neighbour liked to carry on their long-running argument from time to time. The precise cause of the original gripe was long forgotten but injudicious stealing of car-parking spaces, rubbish bags not tied up with string and flowerpots falling from window-ledges had all been recent irritants. Or it could be the paranoid woman on the ground floor who knew that Bodie was something to do with security and often came to him if she felt troubled.
"Yes?" he barked. Often this tone would deter the paranoid woman, although it always inflamed his downstairs neighbour.
"Let me in," came an equally huffy voice.
Bodie opened the door a crack, as if he had the chain on, which he didn't, and peered out.
"What do you want?" he said.
Doyle pushed hard. "Bloody let me in will you?"
Bodie did not resist. He swung open the door and Doyle stepped in, although he paused on the threshold and poked a finger at the chain.
"For God's sake, Bodie...some bloke let me in downstairs, no questions asked. What kind of security is that? And what's this? I could be anybody."
Bodie let the door swing shut. He remained planted where he was in the dim hallway, barring the way through, keeping Doyle in the corner.
"Frost was jumped inside his own front door remember," Doyle blustered on, "...that was less than six months ago...forgot the procedures, left himself wide open...two barrels. You got so pissed at that funeral...come on, Bodie..."
Bodie looked him up and down and knew he had been wandering around aimlessly out there for some time. Doyle was slightly damp, his face flushed from the evening air and his righteous anger.
"Delicate flower, aren't you?" Bodie said. He did actually mean his tone to be quite tender but somehow it didn’t come out right.
Doyle made to barge past him but Bodie's left hand slapped against the wall.
"What've you come back for?" he asked.
"I can smell gas," Doyle said, looking over his shoulder.
Bodie's arm relaxed a little. "Oh yeah," he said. "I thought I'd put my head in the oven."
"Can I?" Doyle questioned, motioning with his eyes.
"Alright then." Bodie led the way. One leg of his tracksuit was rolled up slightly, and Doyle watched the spare, shaped calf muscle working as he followed after him.
They got into the kitchen and Bodie shoved something into the oven and shut the door with a crash. "Dead people come with the territory," he said, and then, with swift, gear-shift flippancy, "but luckily we've got chicken chow mein for two."
Deal with it was the unspoken implication.
You deal with it was Doyle's unspoken response. "I have been to Burnley," was what he actually said. "Turf Moor, 1972. FA Cup third round. We won three-two."
Out in the living-room the TV was still murmuring on, the only source of light.
"So go on then," Bodie said, "What have you come back for?"
"The number 19 was so full the conductor made me get off."
"I'm not going to do that thing, you know," Bodie said ominously. "Spend Saturday night in here with you...deconstructing, or whatever it is you do. It's over."
"What's over?" Doyle asked, unable to avoid the slight hitch in his voice.
Luckily he was distracted by Bodie scratching himself on the back, causing his shirt to ride up. A neat, inward-spiralling navel was visible just for a second. The shirt dropped. Doyle wondered how he had arrived at this point where just about everything Bodie did or said seemed appealing. For his part, Bodie was just starting to feel seasick again. He went into the living room and regained his favoured position teetering on the edge of the mastermind chair. In the kitchen he heard cupboards opening and closing.
"You got any soy sauce?" Doyle called out.
"Oh there's a manky bottle of something around somewhere."
"Charming. Fancy a beer?"
"Yeah, go on," said Bodie, although he really didn't. His instinct was to drive Doyle away again so he could pitch around on the poopdeck in peace, but listening to him rummaging through his kitchen cupboards was actually quite soothing, if not borderline erotic. When he came in and Bodie did not reach out a hand for the can of beer, Doyle balanced it on the end of his knee. Then he threw himself on to the sofa opposite and kicked off his trainers.
"You're not pissed off anymore then?" Bodie said, picking up the can and putting it unopened on the floor.
"I could be if I thought about it."
They both regarded the screen for a while. It was all bright lights and shiny, happy faces. Saturday night telly...marvellous. No wonder they usually ended up in the pub.
The gurning gameshow contestants increased Bodie's feeling of vertigo. He fixed Doyle with an appraising look instead, noting the enervated slump and heavy, unseeing eyes. His gaze travelled down over the light-moving shadows on the white shirt, the deep V of the opening, those relaxed hips and long legs pushed out across the carpet. He looked back up at the face again, remembering something Doyle had said earlier. Which made his chest feel tight.
"Listen," he said, "I don't want to know about all the soft-centred women you've slept with, what I want to know is...what would have happened if you'd fallen in love with some WPC at your station?"
"Fallen in love?"
"Yes, you know...can't eat, can't sleep, can't stop thinking about sex..."
"Oh yeah," said Doyle, heavily sarcastic, "that's love."
"OK then, Jane Austen, there's this WPC, right? And every time you see her black stockings and nobby little hat your bosom heaves, and you just want to be with her all the bloody time, and it makes you feel suicidal, the thought of anyone else having her...."
"Still not quite there, mate."
"She's the one, Doyle. No doubt about it. You'd move mountains for her. You with me now?"
"OK, so you work together at the station and you're mad for each other. What happens?"
Doyle blinked. "Well, one or both of you gets the boot for a start."
"It never actually happened to me," Doyle said.
"Nor me," said Bodie, "Never got it on with anybody in the army."
"I thought you were talking about being in love -- not shagging your sergeant-major senseless. And what about special forces?"
"Ah," Bodie said, "I could tell you that but I'd have to kill you afterwards. It's classified, don't you know."
"Frankly I've no idea what you're on about."
"Our lot are the same," Bodie said. "Yeah? Any fraternizing among the troops...Cowley gets to hear about it...and it's goodnight and thank you."
"It's that fraternizing thing again, Bodie. I thought it was love that started you off."
Bodie chewed a fingernail.
He's very fetching when he wants to be, Doyle thought.
"Are you talking about you and me?" he asked.
Bodie just looked at him.
He's bloody serious, Doyle thought.
"I'm not asking you to sodding marry me, Doyle."
"Well I don't know why not, at least I can cook. I wouldn't give you boil-in-the-bag dinners."
"It's not boil-in-the-bag," Bodie said primly. "It's a proper foil tray you put in the oven."
Doyle gave his derision full rein. "It'll be yellow, Bodie. Full of freeze-dried gristle, grotty little peas and MSG."
Bodie frowned, looked at the TV, then at the wall opposite. He got to his feet all of a sudden as if he was about to go and machinegun the oven.
"Yeah well, if it's all we've got," Doyle said, conciliatory. "Now where are you going?"
In reply Bodie put a hand up as if to signal that he was blocking him out. Then he lurched from the room and Doyle heard him barge against the bathroom door.
Swiftly he got up to follow. He found Bodie suspended in the doorframe of the bathroom, swaying about like a flagpole in a high wind. He didn't seem able to move either forwards or backwards.
"Back off," Bodie said when he felt Doyle's hand on his back.
"Steady on, old son," Doyle said.
"I don't need your...frigging help to throw up," Bodie hissed between his teeth before heading for the toilet.
A volley of expletives followed the crunching sound of Bodie's knees hitting the tiles, as if the sheer force of his own finely-tuned aggression could hold it all back.
Which is why we're so flaming incompatible, Doyle thought in despair, even if it had been a good idea in the first place, which it flaming, obviously wasn't. From the moment he woke up in the morning until the moment you got him, finally, warm and comfortable, safe and sound, in your arms, Bodie's instinct was to avoid surrender. It was quite some feat, even for him, to sound so defiant while retching unproductively into a toilet. Doyle's despair was immediately countered, as it so often was, by a feeling of utter devotion.
"You stupid, miserable git," he said, "you should have told me."
Bodie sat back against his heels. He was breathing hard, his head wagging slightly with the force of expulsion and he wiped his mouth on his sleeve and then just left his head leaning on his forearm as if it was too heavy to lift up again.
"Done?" Doyle asked.
"It's er...not just the thought of the chow mein then?"
"Fuck off, Doyle."
"Would you stop Doyleing me?" Doyle demanded, frustrated beyond belief. He threw caution to the winds and strode forward, tucking his hands firmly under Bodie's arms and pulling upwards, putting his back into it, bracing one shoulder against the wall. When he got him up on his feet Bodie staggered spectacularly. He leaned a crooked forearm against Doyle's collarbone, partly supporting himself and partly holding Doyle off.
"What?" said Doyle. "What?"
While it was not entirely clear if he meant to or not, Bodie dropped the crooked arm, causing his forehead to sink down and take its place against Doyle's collarbone. His shoulders sagged, his other arm grasped hold of a handful of Doyle's shirt.
"Just a reaction," he muttered.
"Today?" asked Doyle, taking the weight, risking a touch on the back of the cropped hair.
"You like to obsess, I like to throw up," Bodie said. He lifted his head, trying to stand up straight again. “And if it wasn’t for that bastard conductor on the number 19 you never would have known.”
Doyle swung him round and propped him up against the wall of the bathroom.
“Gorgeous aren’t I,” Bodie said.
“No, you’re a pain in the arse. And you need to lie down before you fall down.”
Bodie pushed off the wall. “Fuck off, Doyle,” he said again, “I want to have a slash and clean my teeth without you poncing about in my bathroom.”
“You’re not going to eat then?” Doyle asked, letting himself be ejected. He touched a palm to the door panel, not liking the barrier.
Bodie’s muffled voice growled a negative from within.
When he came out of the bathroom he found Doyle waiting by the bed. “Let’s be having you,” he said.
“Come on, get your kit off.”
“Not now, Doyle.”
“Stop Doyleing me, I’ve told you. I’m going to put you to bed.”
“You’re going to get a smack in the gob.”
“Just do it.”
Sulky, Bodie peeled off his shirt and handed it over. The half rolled-up tracksuit bottoms came next and there was nothing underneath. Doyle flicked his gaze down, shaking his head sadly.
"You cold or something?" he asked in sympathy.
"Look I can't be impressive all the time .. just thrown up for God's sake."
"Get into bed."
"Alright, alright, don't be such a bully."
Bodie looked at Doyle a little suspiciously as he rolled the quilt up to his chin.
"I'm not sure about you," he said.
"Why's that then?"
"I still don't know why you came back."
"No," agreed Doyle. "Nor do I. Now, you comfy?"
"Go away." Doyle got as far as the door before Bodie's shoulders came off the mattress. "But not too far."
Some hours later, slightly sweaty from a harsh dreamscape at the fringes of his nausea, he woke to find Doyle spooned around him, ribs tight against his back, belly pressed into his hip bone. Like a limpet, Doyle was, once he decided to get hold of you, especially if he was worried. He felt one hand slide around and come to rest on the inside of his thigh. The side of Doyle's thumb brushed along a familiar ridge on the muscle.
"Match of the Day's about to start," he heard close to his ear.
"Nah," was all he could manage.
"Why's that then? They get beaten, your lot?"
"Nah," he got out again, and then elaborated as far as he was able. "No score draw."
A typically thoughtful silence behind him. "Bit like us then," Doyle said.
"Yeah, but who always needs to score? Sometimes just turning up is good enough."
"Try telling that to a Burnley fan."
Bodie half smiled to himself. Raymond was worth the aggro really. Sensitive soul though. Self-righteous git. And always tenacious last thing at night, too. He could feel the tenacity pressing hard against him, the fluttery tickle of hair at the base of his spine, but his reaction to today was, in truth, even more wholesale than Doyle's.
"In the morning,” Bodie yawned, shifting himself, catlike, against the warm fur to signal he was pleased to be there. “Line it up, straight and sweet, hard as you like...back of the net."
“Actually,” said Doyle, “I might not say yes anyway.”
“You know, if you were sodding asking me to marry you.”
“Oh you would, Ray,” Bodie said confidently, taking hold of the hand still resting on his thigh and drawing it up under his chin. “You would.”
-- THE END --