First in the "Matchlight" series, followed by Turning Point, Proving Ground, and Night Promises.

Written for the picfor1000 livejournal challenge. For this year's challenge, all prompt pics had something to do with one of the five elements of Chinese philosophy: fire, water, earth, wood and metal. I drew a fire prompt, and the picture is here.

Thanks to Ancasta, PFL, Justacat and Slantedlight for helpful beta comments.

The match flared brightly to life, illuminating a small circle of the squalid room he'd claimed in the squat. In the dancing light of the small flame, he could see his bedroll and his duffle and the rubbish left by the last person who'd dossed down in this fleapit.

Bodie lit the hand-rolled cigarette and held the match carefully, watching as it burned down, its light flickering crazily in the dark of the room. Finally, when he could feel the heat of the flame on his skin, he blew it out. No use burning his fingers, after all. He'd done that often enough, and not just with matches.

He put the rollie to his lips and pulled smoke deep into his lungs, stamping down hard on the urge to cough. Filthy habit, he thought as he exhaled the smoke. But then everything about this fucking assignment was filthy. Drug-addicted kids turning up dead. Law-abiding citizens kidnapped and extorted by villains. Villains hiding behind diplomatic credentials. He loathed it all.

But the one part of this op he despised most was being stuck here while Doyle was off setting himself up as a target for dodgy coppers and drug-dealing Triad members. That and playing house with a detective from Hong Kong.

At least Esther was good at her job. Nice girl, too. Sharp as a tack, funny, cultured. And Bodie was quite sure that he hated her. Hated her because it was her watching Doyle's back, and Bodie didn't like trusting that job to anyone but himself. Hated her for having to pretend to share Ray Doyle's bed. Hated her even more because, if he knew his Doyle, she was probably sharing his bed in fact as well as fiction.

He took another puff of his rollie, its reddish glow an oddly comforting light in the dark of the room, and felt the nicotine flood into his bloodstream in a glorious, headlong rush. He'd have to watch it or he'd start smoking again. He'd given up the habit years ago, after he'd left Africa and joined the Paras, and he hadn't missed it one bit. But tonight it kept him from thinking about another, stronger habit he knew he couldn't break, even if he wished he could: Raymond bloody Doyle.

He didn't know why he did it, why he kept going back to Doyle, time after time, like the hopeless, lovestruck idiot he was. It was bloody clear to anyone with eyes to see that to Doyle, Bodie was only another willing body to fuck, a convenient place to scratch an itch when Doyle was too knackered to go out and pull some slag. Put a bird in the picture, and the only thing Bodie'd be seeing was the back of him.

Stupid fucker, Bodie thought, not entirely sure if he meant Doyle or himself or the pair of them together.

He took a final drag on the cigarette and then stubbed it out on a floor already scarred with a hundred such burns. Then he lay down, wrapped himself up in his blanket and waited for sleep to come.

Sleep, however, decided to be a coy bastard tonight.

Bone-tired he might be, but he remained wide awake, staring at a ceiling he could only dimly make out and listening to the sounds of the other people who made up this ragtag little community as they shuffled and shifted and snored their way through the night.

In spite of any pointless resolutions he might have made, images of Doyle began to flood Bodie's mind. Doyle in a proper bed with spotless sheets, not on a hard floor with a grimy blanket. Doyle with his chest brazenly exposed, the chest hair making Bodie yearn to touch him. Doyle smelling clean and musky with just a hint remaining of the day's cologne. Doyle smiling at him, only him.

Sighing in frustration, Bodie rolled onto his side and let one hand drift down to the front of his trousers as he remembered how Doyle looked when aroused, the flush of his cheeks, the swelling of his lips. He eased his flies open, took hold of his hardening cock and let himself picture how he'd like it to be between Doyle and himself.

He imagined Doyle leaning over him, a mischievous smile on his face as he drew a finger across Bodie's lower lip. Bodie could almost sense the touch, could feel what it would be like to open his mouth and draw that finger inside, to swirl his tongue around it with the promise of more to come.

His imaginary Doyle removed the finger and moved in for a kiss, his touch at first light, tender, then more and more urgent. Their arms and legs wrapped around each other and Doyle's breath sounded harshly in his ear.

Bodie squeezed his cock and bucked against his own hand. But he needed more. So bleeding much more.

He closed his eyes and in his mind, Doyle had him spread on the bed, his arse in the air, his dignity in tatters.

Mine, Bodie, this dream Doyle said. You're mine, and I'm yours. And then he plunged powerfully into Bodie.

Bodie thrust into his own fist as his dream Doyle thrust into him, biting his lip to prevent any sound from escaping his throat until he could feel a bead of blood well up and flow down his chin.

With a last, swallowed gasp, Bodie came, hot fluid covering his hand, his belly, and cooling as quickly as his vision of Doyle faded, leaving him feeling even more hollow and alone than before.

He wiped himself off with the blanket, did up his flies.

"Stupid fucker," Bodie whispered, and this time he knew he meant himself. Because he'd never learn, never stop opening himself up, never stop hoping that Doyle would give him more than he was capable of.

Finally, with a taste of ashes in his mouth that owed more to disappointment than cigarettes, Bodie slept.


February 2007

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