Three Things Bodie Survived and One He Didn't
He survived the third IRA bomb.
Not many others did, mind. In the maelstrom of shattered glass and thick, black dust, many of the faceless hundreds had lost their lives, had been blown to all corners of the pub. He remembered their screams and their horrible choking coughs, suffocating in the fire-hot air. He shuddered in his wheelchair, enough to make the metal rattle. Luckily, no one saw.
But he was lucky... So they said, anyway. He, himself, didn't reckon on a severely broken leg being at all lucky. It would take him months to get back to work, months of sweat and blood and enough pummelling from Macklin to knock him off both feet. Not that he was scared of hard work--never had been--just... what if he never got back to it all?
No. He wasn't lucky. And in his frustration he said so. Repeatedly, and at a high volume.
Doyle filled his whole vision all of a sudden, all bright red plaid and bright green eyes, crouching in front of the wheelchair and glaring up at him dangerously, as if he was about to pounce and beat Bodie's bandaged head off the chair's armrest.
"Look. I know you're banged up, mate, but I swear-" Doyle raised a finger and pointed it aggressively in his face, deathly serious as he shouted. "I swear, if I hear you saying you're not lucky again, I will make sure you'll never get lucky again, alright?"
Before he could open his mouth to defend himself--to ask Doyle how he'd like it if every time he needed a wazz he had to ask for help--Doyle leaned in closer, and his voice got that yawning, trembling timbre to it that only ever happened when Doyle was at his very limit.
"I had to fetch a young lad's head back in a bag yesterday, so don't you fucking dare tell me we're not lucky, Bodie." A quick, jolted swallow, a furiously clenching throat. Then, quieter. "Don't you dare."
And just as suddenly as it had begun, the tirade was over. Bodie was being pushed along the peaceful, suburban street in the sunshine once more, heading for home, mortified into silence for probably the first time in his life.
He survived being trapped with Doyle for three whole weeks.
"... Oi, that's mine."
"No, it isn't, it's mine."
"Don't be so bloody stupid. How could it be yours when you nicked it out of my case?"
"I didn't nick it out of your case, though."
"You sodding well did."
"There's no use lying, old son, because you don't have a very good poker face."
"You joking? I'm a better liar than you, any day of the week."
"Oh, really? Why can't you do undercover work, then?"
"I can do undercover work!"
"Yeah, I suppose, but Cowley doesn't like giving you those jobs, does he? Gives them all to me... You only get them if no one else is available. Last resort, like."
"I am no one's fucking last resort!"
"That's not the impression I got... Macklin, neither."
"What about Macklin?"
"What about Macklin?"
"No, really, don't worry about it, mate. I'm sure he meant nothing by it, you know."
"Alright! Jesus christ, calm your passions, mate!"
"I would do if you'd just clam up and tell me!"
"Clam up and tell you?"
"I swear, I'm going to clobber that fucking mouth off you if you don't tell me in the next five seconds-"
"Oh, it'll take more than five seconds."
"What I have to tell you. It'll take more than five seconds... Had a lot to say about you, Macklin did."
"Tell me... Tell me right now or- Actually, you know what?"
"I don't care. Whatever you want, Doyle."
"I don't care what he said."
"... Y-you do."
"No, I'm fine, really."
"No, but, you're bothered that we were talking about you, right?"
"... I'll tell you if you like."
"But what, mate?"
"Doyle? You sulking?"
"Just fuck off and die, will you?!"
"Alright.... Look, there's yours, you great big tit. You were sat on it all along!"
He survived the worst hangover in the world.
It was the New Year after they lost Jax, and they all took it a bit harder than they'd reckoned on. Three weeks after losing an agent, you were supposed to be back on track--close agents had a scheduled week off for grief, a second week of light duties, and then ideally back on the streets the second Monday after the event. Cowley said it kept the mind sharp and the heart lean.
But, for some reason, the full impact of Jax not being about the place didn't hit any of them till three months after the event. They realised this somewhere in between all the agents standing on their desks at the stroke of midnight, saluting thin-air, and going up to the roof of the building to lie on their backs till the sun rose on the new year, telling stories about the man. Their brave lad, their Jax.
Doyle came to him that night, stricken and needing him, needing him to be strong, needing him to be the one who took him home when they all got down from the roof and shuffled off into the weak promise and shimmering sunlight of a new day. But Doyle didn't want the sunlight, he wanted him, and he'd said so. And when he looked like--that ever-so slightly lost look that sometimes clung to him, the need darkening his eyes, his lips swollen in want--no one could have refused Doyle, even if they'd wanted to. And he hadn't wanted to.
The next time he opened his eyes--morning or evening, he had no fucking clue which way was up anymore--he felt so sick he thought he was going to die himself. Every movement made his skin prickle and crawl in cold shudders across him, made his stomach clench and twist, and sweat tingle on his brow. Every breath hurt, every thought made him feel sick and, as he lay staring up at the ceiling--too nauseous to close his eyes--he wondered idly if he'd ever survive.
But he did. He survived it because Doyle had survived it with him.
Doyle had moaned continuously into his pillow, annoying the fuck out of him--he would have hit him had he been able to move his arm--swearing not to ever let another drop of alcohol pass his lips. Doyle had stayed in bed with him all day, occasionally mustering up the energy to press wonderfully groggy lips to his, wincing at his own breath, but otherwise content to just lie there and suffer with him.
Doyle had survived with him right up until the sun went down on that first day and they risked trying to stand up. They had stood, wobbling and clutching at one another, having survived the worst self-inflicted day of their lives. And when Doyle curled up next to him on the sofa, drifting into a deep and healing sleep at last, he had known he'd go through it all again, just for that.
He didn't survive Doyle not surviving.
Doyle not being there to survive it all with him. He didn't survive that. He didn't survive Doyle slipping away from him quietly, and with an unforgivable lack of fuss, one Saturday morning while the footie was on and he was out the room, making them both a cuppa.
He didn't survive that at all.
He did, in everything but himself. He still lived and breathed and worked for Ci5 and went down to the pub with Murphy once in a while and even laughed sometimes, if he'd had a few. He paid his taxes, he went to the cinema, he was still top of his game, he was still a lady-killer with a smile that could dissolve knickers...
But there was nothing behind his eyes anymore. Nothing hidden away, nothing shining through, nothing glimmering beneath the ice. Nothing to be poked or prodded at, nothing to be chivvied out of him--lucky, really, as there was no longer anyone to do any of those things. There was nothing to those rare smiles, those precious snatched moments of happiness those who knew him had once hoped would signal a return to old form. They soon realised it wasn't as simple as that.
Because he could never forgive Doyle for not making a fuss. For not crying out, for not warning him, for not letting him do anything, for not saying goodbye. Couldn't forgive him for not going out with the bang, like he lived his life. Couldn't even forgive him for the tea stain still on the living room carpet of the flat he refused to move out of.
Not having him there, that was it. Fuck partners--he could watch his own sodding back, he'd survived Africa all on his onesie, and more else besides. No, it was everything else, it was everything else he'd never even thought about before. The million and one things he missed, now, was just not having Doyle there.
Not having Doyle there to frown at him when he put four sugars in his tea; not having him there to wind him up when he was bored; not having him there to manhandle when he was feeling frisky; not having him there to nick half his chips and then lecture him on his eating; not having him there to pat on the back when he'd imbibed his own body-weight and was curled around a toilet bowl; not having him there to snort in derision whenever he wore new clothes for the first time; not having him there to wrap an arm round on gloomy nights; not having him there to ram his ice-cold feet under his thigh while they watched the footie-
It was his heart, they'd said. He hadn't survived the damage done to his heart all those years ago, after all.
And, as he sits alone in the darkness on that self-same sofa, Bodie understands all too well.
-- THE END --