Winter Fuel


Sequel to Brightly Shone the Moon

Written for "Discovered in the Brandy Butter" on the discoveredinalj livejournal community

Bodie stretched luxuriously, before climbing out of bed to open the curtains. A wide, white expanse looked back at him, muffling the outlines of the street with its parked cars beneath the window. He frowned slightly, wondering if the snow would make it impossible after all to get back to London today, but then the low-level noise that had penetrated his dream and woken him grew louder as the gritting lorry appeared. That solved that problem, then.

First, breakfast. Then he could collect Doyle and they could go home. They had three days off, and Bodie intended to make the most of them. And he didn't mean doing Christmas shopping. This latest little escapade had been too close. It was time he and Doyle sorted a few things out.

The noise of the gritting lorry didn't wake Doyle, but only because he was already awake. Although he felt more tired than he could believe, given that he hadn't exactly been running a marathon in the early hours of yesterday - just a slow crawl through the East Anglian fields -- he had woken before the hospital got going on its early morning rounds. The noises drifting down the corridor now indicated that the morning shift was about to take over.

It was strange how shaken he still felt. Near misses were not exactly uncommon in his job, although they probably happened less often than people might think. The high-speed chases, the flying bullets, the explosions -- yes, these happened, but not all the time. Not even every week. Just sometimes -- though a damn sight more often than in most people's lives. But they were a fact of his life -- his and Bodie's, and Murphy's and Anson's and all of CI5's agents' lives -- and you learned to live with it. You had to, to avoid dying with it. But this felt different, and that difference bothered him. He was unsettled, thrown off-balance by his reaction to a situation which was not so very unusual for him.

A shiver took him, unexpected in the overheated room. A flash of wide sky, unremittingly pallid, and bitter cold surrounding him. The uncertainty of his survival on this job had been less because of the armed man determined to kill the woman under Doyle's protection than because of the weather. The weather, for fuck's sake!

An uneasy jolt in his gut startled him, and with it came the realisation that this was the source of his sudden insecurity. He could cope with gunmen, terrorists and partisans; he was trained to cope with them, had techniques for dealing with whatever they might try. There were no guarantees that the techniques would work, but at least they were there. But that the weather might kill him had never entered his head. Living as he did in a country hardly famed for its meteorological extremes, he was more accustomed to ignoring the weather than having to contend with it as a factor in his survival.

Ridiculous, he berated himself. But the strength of his reaction was far from ridiculous. Gritting his teeth, he decided that he was just overreacting because of being off his normal turf. He was city-bred and a city-dweller, only comfortable in the country when he was on his bike. It was perfectly normal to feel a little off-kilter after an experience like he had just gone through. Once he was back home, in his own place, he would be fine.

Just fine.

Thank God he was due to be released this morning. He couldn't get away from this place fast enough.

Given this sentiment, it was unfortunate that the gritting lorries appeared to have missed a few key roads between the hospital and the motorway. It took a lot longer than either Bodie or Doyle would have liked, and a lot more effort, before they were finally on a clear stretch of road heading back towards London. Bodie had the heat in the car turned up as high as it would go, obviously still concerned that the cold would be too much for his partner, and as a result he had to keep winding his window down a bit to wake himself up with a blast of chill air. Finally, Doyle could take it no more.

"For God's sake, just turn the heating down, will you? I'd rather you didn't fall asleep at the wheel, and I'm not going to turn into an icicle if you don't have the heat on full-blast."

"Alright, keep you hair on," and Bodie reached down to adjust the heating control to a more comfortable level. "Want some radio?"

"Not really."

"I'll leave it off then." There was a pause, then Bodie said brightly, "Done all your Christmas shopping, then, have you?"

"What?" Clearly, this was not a question Doyle had been expecting.

"Christmas shopping. You know -- when all the shops go mad selling you overpriced things they couldn't shift off the shelves the rest of the year? Not that long, now. You need to make sure it's all done, mate. Can't leave it till the last minute, can you?"

Doyle sniffed. "In this job, it seems to me the last minute is all you ever get. I've lost track of the number of times I've had to give a present after the event -- and buy it after the event, for that matter."

Bodie nodded sagely. "Yeah, well, that's why I think we should go Christmas shopping tomorrow. After you've had a good night's sleep in your own bed you'll be raring to go. We can get it over and done with in the morning, and then relax in a warm, virtuous glow for the rest of the day. I'll even spring for a takeaway in the evening." He spared a rapid glance from the bleak, grey road in front of him to check the expression on Doyle's face. Encouraged, he continued, "That sound alright, then?"

"I suppose we may as well make the most of having some time off. It's not like either of us have big families to buy for."

"Hardly. Couple of bottles of Scotch for the old man, and we'll be halfway there."

Doyle made no reply, and Bodie decided to concentrate on the road ahead.

Despite having left mid-morning, and making reasonable time southwards, the sky was so bleak that by the time Bodie pulled up in front of Doyle's current flat it felt like twilight. The vivid, crisp night of two days ago, with the moon suspended in a clear sky, could have been a world away from this chill, grey day. The cessation of movement made Doyle stir from the heavy doze he had fallen into an hour ago.

"Come on. Let's you get in the warm." Doyle just managed to shift his weight from where it was resting against the passenger door before Bodie opened it. He managed to extract himself from the car with nothing more than a slight stumble and wordlessly followed Bodie through the main door, up two flights of stairs and through the front door. One part of his mind was irritated by Bodie's calm assumption that he needed an escort, but a small part secretly relished it. Somehow it made him feel an internal warmth that had nothing to do with the ambient temperature.

That realisation effectively doused the warm glow.

"Thanks, mate. You can take yourself off home now. I'll be fine."

Bodie eyed him cautiously from his position just inside the front door. Apparently Doyle passed muster, since the tightly-cropped head nodded once and Bodie turned to leave. "I'll pick you up in the morning, then. Ten a.m. and don't be late." With that, he was gone.

Wandering into the kitchen to put the kettle on, Doyle wondered briefly if he was losing his mind. He could have had a quiet evening with Bodie if he'd kept his mouth shut. Maybe even...?

God, this was stupid. Behaving like a fucking teenager. Totally, totally pathetic to keep skirting around the issue like this.

He'd put it off at first because he wasn't entirely sure he was interpreting his own reactions correctly, but it hadn't taken long for him to decide that actually, yes, he did fancy his partner. A bit more than fancy, in fact. A lot more.

A lot more, in fact, than he'd ever felt for anyone, even in his young and randy (and swinging-both-ways) youth.

The he'd put off doing anything about it because, after all, why fix it if it was broken? Might just make things worse. He and Bodie as a team just worked. Gelled. OK, it had taken some time, a bit of effort on both sides, but now? Now, they meshed. If he changed the dynamic, who knew what might happen?

But he was finally forced to face the truth. The dynamic was already changing. Look at tonight. A perfect case in point. A year ago, Bodie would have stayed for something to eat, maybe even crashed out on the sofa if he'd had a bit too much to drink. And neither of them would have thought anything of it. But now, Doyle was so sensitised to his physical attraction to the man, he was afraid to let him get too close in case he jumped him.

Fuck. He really shouldn't have let that thought past his mental barriers. It conjured up a fantastic image of Bodie pinned to the wall, his lips against Bodie's, his hands wandering, stroking, discovering, unclothing...

Damn, damn, damn.

Right. Face facts, Ray. This has got to stop. Either you forget this whole thing and get yourself back on track where you were a year ago, or you do something about this. Now. Before Christmas. Yeah, a target date's a good thing. And it's not as if you haven't caught Bodie looking once or twice. Or a bit more than that. So it might be alright.

Right. Before Christmas it is then. Maybe even tomorrow, as we've got the whole day off.

Doyle's sleep that night was fitful, plagued by dreams where he was the one pursuing Bodie across a blank, chill landscape unnervingly reminiscent of East Anglian fields at night.

Bodie, on the other hand, slept the sleep of the just.

Midday saw the partners seriously flagging. Even Macklin's exigencies couldn't compete with Oxford Street in the run-up to Christmas.

"We must have been mad," Doyle moaned, dodging yet another gaggle of teenagers flaunting punk hair and safety pins in places no self-respecting safety pin should ever have expected to find itself. "Whose idea was this, anyway?"

Bodie's eyes were still glued to the group who had just shoved past them. "How do you think they get their hair to stay like that? Do you think they sleep on it or have to start all over again every morning?"

"How the hell would I know?"

"Well, you're the one with all the hair, sunshine, so it seemed reasonable to assume you might have some idea." At Doyle's glare, Bodie quickly continued, "How about lunch? I've had enough of this too, and there's a pub just round the corner that does a particularly good pork pie."

"Lead me to it. I can't take much more of this."

Ten minutes later they were comfortably ensconced in a quiet corner with plates of pork pie, crisps and salad, washed down with a pint each. Doyle reflected idly as he ate how they were never really off-duty. Their choice of seating was perfect for keeping doorways and windows under surveillance, and no one could sneak up behind them, positioned as they were with their backs to the wall, sitting side by side instead of the more usual facing each other that most pairs would adopt when in a pub. He hadn't given it a thought when they sat down, the reflex so engrained it had become instinct, and he knew it was the same for Bodie. He snorted slightly into his beer, and Bodie lifted an eyebrow at him.

"Crisp gone down the wrong way, has it?"

"Nah. I was just noticing how we were sitting." Sure enough, it took Bodie less than two seconds to comprehend, and his lips curled slightly in a rueful smile.

"Yeah, well, I blame Macklin."

"He's got a point, though. It's not as though the criminals stop just because we're off duty, is it?"


"It wasn't that so much, anyway. I was just wondering how long it would take us not to sit like this in a pub, but just -- I don't know, sit in the window because it's sunny, or sit with our backs to the door because we've seen a friend we want to talk to who's facing that way, or-"

"I get your drift, mate. And a bloody long time, that's what I think."

Doyle sighed, obscurely depressed by the accuracy of this statement.

"No point worrying about it, is there?" Bodie's pragmatic tone snapped Doyle out of his introspection. "It's just the way it is." He swallowed his last bite of pork pie and put his knife and fork down. "I'm done. You want another half or shall we call it a day and get back to your place?"

"Can't face those crowds again. Let's head back to the car. Maybe we could go for a run once we've offloaded everything."

Bodie eyed his partner carefully. "You're feeling okay then?"

"Yeah, I'm fine now. No lasting damage." His swift grin reassured Bodie as much as the raking glance had done.

"What are we waiting for, then?"

Irritatingly, the route back to the car meant having to traverse Oxford Street again. The end of the lunch hour had made little dent in the numbers of people crowding the street, and it was impossible to walk side-by-side as the heaving masses shifted and swirled in incomprehensible patterns around them. It struck Doyle as odd that there were quite so many pushing towards him, and faster than seemed usual for a crowd of shoppers, but he paid little heed to it. Ending up several yards in the lead, he was just turning down the side street that would take them to the car when he heard the sound of a voice shouting through a megaphone. The words were muffled, and could have been anything, but in this place, at this time of year, Doyle knew what the most probable cause was and his heart sank. Once, just once, he really wanted some time off that didn't get wrecked by his job. But his conscience wouldn't allow him to carry on. Turning slightly, he waited for Bodie to catch up with him and grabbed his arm, tugging him forwards.

"What are you doing? The car's this way," Bodie protested, resisting Doyle's pull.

"There's something going on further up. I can hear a megaphone," Doyle said tersely. Bodie's response was the same as his own.

"Damn. Police?"

"Think so. We'd better have a quick look. They may need a hand."

Definitely going against the main flow of movement now, it took an effort to push forward, but soon, sure enough, they could see a line of police blocking the way ahead, turning people round and directing them to clear the area as fast as possible. Doyle switched direction to a sideways manoeuvre which brought them both tucked inside a small alcove between two large shops. Reaching inside his jacket pocket, he pulled out his R/T. "Good thing I didn't get round to emptying my pockets this morning." He switched it on and was about to press the transmit button when it squawked loudly. He raised an eyebrow at Bodie who was scrabbling around in his own pockets, to no avail. "This is 4.5."

"4.5, this is control. Report your location."

"3.7 and I are in Oxford Street. Bomb threat, right?"

"Correct. Alpha 1 wants you both to see what you can find out. 6.2's been watching Flanaghan's lot, and he thinks it's probably them."

"That lot are even worse than the IRA!" Doyle's exclamation carried across the increasing noise of traffic snarled up and frustrated by incomprehensible delays, and Bodie made 'keep it down' gestures with his hands. "What's he expect us to do, anyway? Whoever planted the bomb will be long gone."

"Not necessarily, 4.5." The voice emerging from the R/T changed to Cowley's clipped tones.


"It seems that Flanaghan has long had a desire to become a martyr to the cause, 4.5. 6.2's observations have led him to the conclusion that Flanaghan is working on his own on this one, and may have decided to blow himself up as well as anyone else."

"But there was a warning?"

"Aye," Cowley snorted. "It makes no sense, I know, but then he was never regarded as one of their brightest operatives."

"Now we know why," Bodie muttered, and Doyle's lips twisted in agreement.

"Surely he won't go ahead with it now he can see the area is being cleared?"

"I want you two to get in there and see if you can find him. If you can catch him now, we can put a stop to his little game before he has a chance to try again. The warning said the bomb would go off in fifteen minutes from now, somewhere inside Selfridges."

"Well, that narrows it down," Doyle mumbled.

The sarcasm wasn't lost on Cowley, who snapped, "It's all we have, 4.5. Now get moving, the pair of you. And don't let that bomb go off!"

"So nice to know he cares," Bodie tossed over his shoulder at Doyle, already pushing his way towards the police line.

Their ID cards got them through in to the cleared area with little fuss, and they ran towards Selfridges with no clue where to start looking. The department store was huge, with so many exits that their chances of finding one mad Irish bomber had to be remote, but they had to try.


"What the fuck are you doing?" Doyle snarled.

"Got a better idea? Look, if he wants to go out with a splash, then let's give him a chance to do just that -- or at least, to think he can. We'll never find him in ten minutes just running round this place."

"Yeah. Okay. You stay on this floor, I'll try upstairs."

It was strange to see the shop deserted, all the Christmas goods laid out in less than neat piles, showing signs of the frenetic activity that had been taking place here only half an hour earlier. Yelling Flanaghan's name at the top of his voice, Bodie was startled when he spun round a corner to see, twenty yards ahead of him, the man they were looking for. He gave one more yell, this time for his partner's benefit, pressing down firmly on the R/T and hoping that Doyle heard him mutter "Ground floor, Christmas decorations section" before all his attention was focussed on the figure ahead.

"I wouldn't come any closer." The man's voice was calm, the accent strong.

Bodie leant back against a convenient, if somewhat festooned, counter, projecting an air of calm he was far from feeling. Lifting one eyebrow slightly, he voice was steady. "Hardly worth blowing up you, me and a pile of tinsel, is it? Why don't you tell me where the bomb is, we can clear out and both live to fight another day."

"I don't think so. I've no fancy to be locked up in Long Kesh, with the only way to get my name heard if I go on hunger strike. Think I'd rather go out with a bang, and be a martyr to the cause that way. Make more of an impact, I would."

"Impact is right, though I think I'd sooner call it a bloody mess." He caught a glimpse of Doyle, creeping slowly through the shop from behind Flanaghan, and fought to maintain eye contact with the Irishman. God knew what Doyle could do if the man was carrying the bomb on him, but the longer he could focus the man's attention forward the more chance Doyle would have for whatever he had in mind. "Come on, Flanaghan, what's the point? The way you lot have been planting bombs the past few years, just two people dying and one of them the bomber -- well, it's hardly going to make much of a splash, is it? And surely a stint in The Maze is better than being dead?" He wasn't entirely sure he agreed with that one himself, but mouthing platitudes was as good a way as any of stalling.

Abruptly, Doyle was clear of the shop fittings surrounding them, slightly off to one side, gun raised. Bodie could hear his thoughts as if they were his own. Can't take a chance with just wounding him. If he's really got the bomb on him, he must have the detonator in his hand or as good as. Has to be a kill shot. Get the angle right so Bodie's out of the line of fire, but not so far over that he'll see me move...

Doyle's aim was as good as ever. As he pulled the trigger, Bodie flung himself to the ground, just in case the bomb exploded. The sound of the gunshot was oddly muffled in the empty shop, hardly louder than the noise the body made as it crashed to the floor. Bodie held his breath for long seconds before daring to raise his head. Doyle was already reaching for his R/T. "4.5 to Control."

"Control. Go ahead, 4.5."

"The bomber's dead. Get the bomb squad in here -- ground floor, near the Orchard Street entrance. Tell them to hurry."

"Roger, 4.5. Control out."

It was still several hours before the CI5 men could leave the clearing up in the hands of the police and the bomb squad and get away. Cowley had turned up shortly after Doyle's message and taken a verbal report. Once the bomb had been successfully defused, he dismissed them both with the order to report back for work as previously agreed. Doyle muttered something as they left about losing at least half a day of the time off they'd already been given, but Bodie dragged him away and hoped Cowley hadn't heard. The old man could be unpredictable with his offers of time off, which were rarely made and easily rescinded.

Besides, standing there beside Doyle, waiting at a safe distance for the bomb to be rendered harmless, he had had little to do but brood. And brood he did, finally coming to a decision that needed instant action. Instant, that was, as soon as they got home.

No more delays.

Almost surprised to find the Capri where they had left it that morning, Bodie climbed in to the driver's seat and waited for Doyle to settle himself before pulling out into the congested traffic. It was almost dark, the car headlights bouncing reflections off windows and damp ground, making the world seem strange and out-of-kilter.

"Fancy Indian, then?"

"What?" Doyle sounded as if he had been thinking of something totally different from food.

"Indian? Or Chinese? I said I'd spring for dinner tonight, remember?"

"Oh yeah. Must have slipped my mind."

"Can't think why." The slight grin they shared put the world back in balance. Bodie concentrated again on the road ahead as he said, "Star of India?"

"OK. Leave the car outside my place and we can get some beers on the way."

The food was good, as it always was from that takeaway, but neither man seemed very hungry. Bodie sat on the sofa with his half-drunk beer as Doyle cleared plates and takeaway containers off the table, dumped it all in the kitchen and came back to sit next to him. "Fancy some telly?" Doyle was already leaning forward, about to get up to switch the television on, when Bodie grabbed his arm and pulled him back down.

"No, don't. There's nothing on, anyway. I checked."

"Some music, then," and he had pulled away and was by the stereo before Bodie could stop him. The sound of Greenslade filled the room, but, maybe sensing Bodie's mood, Doyle kept the volume low. He didn't return to the sofa, instead moving restlessly around the room, picking things up and putting them down again before finally ending up by the window. He twitched the curtain but clearly found nothing of sufficient interest to retain his attention as he let it drop back into place before turning and leaning against the sill.

Before Bodie could speak, Doyle said harshly, "Bodie, there's something I've been wanting to say to you for a while now. I keep putting it off but -- well, the last couple of days have made me realise how stupid it is to keep delaying like this. It's getting to the stage where it's going to distract me, and that could be dangerous to both of us. So, I'm just going to say it, alright, and then if you don't like it you can bugger off and I'll see you again when we're back on duty the day after tomorrow and we can just pretend it never happened."

Bodie's eyes never left Doyle's face, but his partner was gazing steadfastly, and somewhat blindly, over Bodie's left shoulder. A flash of hideous possibilities rushed through Bodie's mind, and he felt the burst of adrenaline hit his system, but before he could say anything, Doyle was continuing.

"I've never told you this -- hell, I've never told anyone this -- but the real reason I left Derby and joined the police down south was because I needed to get away. When I was a kid, just after I left school, I got involved with some people -- men." His swallow was loud even through the music still playing, ignored. "You don't need the details, but -- well, some of it was bloody awful, but some of it I -- I liked. But I already knew I wanted to be a copper, and that sort of thing doesn't exactly go down so well, so I decided I had to make a clean break, from everything."


"I'm only telling you this so you'll understand that I know what I'm talking about when I say that I..." His voice ground to a halt. It seemed that actually saying the words he wanted to say was harder than he thought, even now.

Bodie felt a huge swirl of relief and something he cautiously identified as happiness twisting through his body. Before Doyle could struggle further, he said, "Ray, you don't need to say anything else unless you want to. But I think it's my turn to say something now, which is -- you mad, bloody bugger, get over here so I can kiss you."

Green eyes met blue in a state of pure shock, before a glow caught, lit and spread. It seemed Doyle needed no further encouragement, and he was away from the window and at Bodie's side without blinking. Bodie reached, caught -- and melded. There was nothing now but the feel of Doyle, at last -- not just the casual brushes and pats that were acceptable in public, but the long, slow sweep of hand against skin, shirts mysteriously gone, the hardening length of men eager and desperate for one another, the heated rush of rhythm and sensation.

Seconds -- hours? - later, Bodie lifted his head from Doyle's shoulder. "Bloody hell, mate." He couldn't manage more than a whisper, but his lips were so close to Doyle's ear, it hardly mattered. Seeing as he was in the vicinity, he leant in for a nuzzle, enjoying the small shiver his touch provoked in the lean body beneath his.

"Yeah," was the breathy reply. "So, would I be right in assuming you're no novice either?"

"You might be."

"That's alright, then. Never been that fussed about virgins."

Bodie snorted at the prospect of being a virgin again. In all honesty, though, he felt he should add something. "Been a while, mind."

"Me too, but that's okay. We can refresh our memories together."

"A joint op."

"A partnership."

"We're good at that."

"Yeah." They smiled at each other, in full accord.

-- THE END --

December 2007

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