by Dog Rose
Sequel is Sweets Trolley
Doyle was the perfect professional after Barry Martin went down. He tied the loose ends of Martin's betrayal together with a neat little bow, and left the whole thing sitting like an unwanted gift on the Cow's desk. He was faultlessly solicitous as he helped Bodie to A and E, and waited dutifully while his partner was seen to. And all the while, Bodie knew, Doyle was castigating himself for not shooting Martin the minute Bodie went down with Barry's knife in him.
Bodie didn't blame Doyle. A few things had occurred to that worthy as the local muted the scream of the knife wound and allowed him to finally start thinking for the first time that day. He was in fact so deep in thought that he failed to notice the doctor had finished. It took a busty blonde Florence waving a sling under his nose to bring him out of his fog.
"Don't need that, sweetheart," he smiled. "Do need your phone number, though."
"Bodie!" That was Doyle, spaniel-eyed and determined, grabbing the sling as the flustered nurse dropped it and trying to fit Bodie into it like some sort of half-arsed angel of mercy.
"Ray!" Bodie laughed and ducked. "I don't need it! Straight stitch job, just like Barry." Doyle flinched.
Right. Time to sort this out. Preferably before the daft golly hung himself from the nearest lamppost. Bodie swung his good arm round Doyle and steered his lost sheep out into the corridor.
"Can't even mourn the bastard properly, can you?"
"Why would I want to?" snarled Doyle, as they made their way along the antiseptic scented hallway. "Not even his bird'll miss him. Couldn't get shed of her fast enough, to hear her tell it."
"Not the only one he dumped, though, was she?" Bodie returned. Doyle stopped short, his whole body gone rigid under Bodie's matey armlock. "Come on, Ray, I know I'm slow, but I get there in the end." The corridor had terminated in an oddly placed window just before the stairs, and Doyle pretended absorption in the fascinating view of three dustbins and twenty feet of gray stone courtyard. Bodie pressed on. "You knew what his flat was like, right down to the drinks trolley. He knew what you looked like 'with a paint brush in one hand and a gin and tonic in the other.' How many of those pictures hanging in his flat did you paint?" Silence. "Well...couldn't have been originals, could they?" Bodie added gently. " Not even with Barry's oh-so-generous supplements to his pay packets..." He waited.
"All of 'em," Doyle ground out eventually. "All of 'em." The silence hung between them for a moment. Doyle waited for the slice of the executioner's blade.
"Even that pseudo-Gauguin?"
"Thanks." Doyle's sarcasm was thick enough to cut and have with a cuppa.
"Labour of love, was it?"
"Christ!" Doyle swung round and faced Bodie. His eyes were wide and white ringed, his chest heaving. Bodie thought absently that it was a pity the blonde Florence Nightingale wasn't around to appreciate the sight. Then he carefully, gently and above all cautiously extended a pacifying hand towards his cornered partner. Doyle wasn't having any. He backed up until his back was plastered against the window. "You gonna tell Cowley?" he spat out.
"No!" Bodie lost his temper. "Of course I'm bloody not!" The local was wearing off and the damn thing was starting to sting. He wanted this sorted, and he wanted a drink, neither of which he was going to get until he'd talked Ray off this ledge. Leave this to fester, and he was liable to have a letter of resignation instead of a partner in the morning.
Doyle started to slide past him, and Bodie played his ace. He accidentally-and-very-much-on-purpose bumped his bandaged shoulder into Doyle. He didn't even have to fake the resultant gasp, sway and slide towards the floor. Well, not much, anyway.
The unstoppable instinct of the London copper took care of the rest. The next thing Bodie knew, Doyle was supporting him towards a horrible plastic chair, briskly telling him to put his head between his knees and keep it there, and not at all inclined to abandon him.
"D'you want me to go and get that sling?" Doyle inquired anxiously.
"No! Look, Ray--"
"What?" Shit. Doyle was looking around for medical assistance, and with Bodie's luck he'd find some. He took a deep breath and grabbed his golly by the collar.
"What? Bodie--" Doyle got out a half-strangled yelp as he found himself pulled level with a very annoyed Bodie.
"Have I got your attention now?" Doyle nodded earnestly. "Good. Because I'm only going to say this the once. ARE YOU LISTENING?!" Doyle nodded again, having deduced with his customary copper's insight that this was the only chance he had of emerging alive from the stranglehold Bodie had on his neck. "O.K. then." Then Bodie's voice went very, very soft, its inflection moderated with a kind of gentleness he only used with Doyle. "Look, you stupid sod, you wouldn't be the kind of partner I'd want at my side if you could shoot an ex-lover in the back. You're a good man, Ray, and Barry used that. Used it like he used everyone and everything he ever met. But I don't want you to stop being a good man, Ray, and I don't want you to stop being my partner. O.K.? And as for telling the Cow..." Bodie laughed. "Well, that would be the pot calling the kettle, now wouldn't it!" He let Doyle go, and waited.
Sherlock Doyle didn't disappoint.
"You mean you're..."
"As Julius Caesar."
"Didn't he fall in love with Cleopatra?"
"And a couple of nice lads along the way."
"I've had more enthusiastic receptions."
"I don't doubt it. " Doyle, now seated on the dingy tiled floor next to the plastic chair, grinned sidelong at him. Bodie relaxed. Everything was right with his world now. All he needed was that drink, and Doyle, properly primed, ought to be good for a couple of rounds. At the very least. Maybe even a packet of crisps. He voiced that last thought out loud.
Doyle looked disapproving.
"Always thinking with your stomach, you are."
"I'm a growing lad."
"Growing sideways, you mean."
Bodie favoured Doyle with his best hurt-little-boy look.
"That won't work."
Bodie added a pout.
"O.K., maybe it will. I'm buying," Doyle sighed.
"And I'm drinking," Bodie grinned.
"Get a bottle for the Cow, while we're at it," they finished in chorus.
"Now there's a visit I'm not looking forward to," Doyle said glumly.
"Never mind," Bodie said consolingly. "I'll go with you. Need looking after, you do."
"Me?! You're the one in stitches!" Doyle pointed out as he hauled Bodie to his feet. They made their way back down the corridor towards the stairs, Bodie with one arm over Doyle's shoulders, and Doyle with one arm wrapped round Bodie's waist. Just to keep the daft git upright, mind.
"Yes, you. Aren't safe out alone, you aren't. Need a keeper." Bodie grinned happily at the green eyed glare he got for his trouble. "Anyway, I've been meaning to talk to you about your taste in lads, young Raymond. It's nearly as abysmal as your taste in birds."
"Oi! What's wrong with my taste in birds?! At least I'm not chasing that gymnast--"
"Where do I start?!"
They bickered happily all the way down the stairs.
After "Fall Girl"
The door to the roof-access squealed open on protesting metal hinges. It opened just wide enough for a fruit and nut bar to be waved through the crack in lieu of a flag of truce. Even in the gathering gloom it could be seen that the bar was Cadbury's best.
Bodie sighed and considered his options. The stubborn bastard on the other end of the chocolate was unlikely to go away. Or give up.
He walked over, grabbed the hand holding the chocolate, and pulled Doyle onto the roof.
"Figured you'd be here."
Bodie let his silence answer for him. After a while Doyle joined him in looking at the view over the parapet. Not that either of them really saw it, of course. The night wind blew up, cold and laden with exhaust fumes and crisp packets from the street far below. Some people went on and on about the 'romance of the city.' Bodie himself could never see it. Romance. Hah.
Doyle's shoulder bumped his, warm and unassuming. Reassuring. Bodie didn't move away. After another long, silent while, a question niggled into Bodie's head.
"What did Cowley mean, 'put your own house in order'?"
"Oh, there was this little matter of my covering up a murder. Turned out o.k. though. Bloke didn't do it after all," Doyle responded. His voice was carefully neutral.
"Oh." More silence, then "Why did you follow me?"
"Knew you were in trouble. Didn't know how deep. Figured I'd better be there to pull you out." Doyle waited. Bodie kept looking down over the parapet.
"Was she--?" Bodie finally ventured.
"Yeah. Cowley had a peep at some of Willis' files. She was a Natasha all right. Her 'husband' was the Uncle she was reporting to..." Doyle tensed as he used the slang for for spy and handler. For whore and pimp.
Bodie turned toward him and Doyle held his breath.
It was dark on the roof. There was no one to see. No one to see Doyle cuddling him like a shepherd clutching a lost lamb. No one to see him bawling his eyes out in Doyle's arms. After a while he ate the chocolate.
-- THE END --