Third in a series, following Keepsake and Isolation
Written for "Discovered in the Brandy Butter," on the discoveredinalj livejournal community, to the prompt of "Yule Log"
With a click the lock sprang open, as easy as cocking a gun. Bodie slipped the pick into his jacket and opened the door. Inside, the cottage was cold and dark, but he had come prepared and it wasn't long before he had light from a Calor lamp and a small fire crackling on the hearth. The furniture in the room was covered, as he had known it would be. He spread his sleeping bag before the fire, put his pack within easy reach, and poured himself a cup of tea from the thermos. His back against the covered sofa, he settled in to watch the flames.
It had been years since he'd been here, although he knew the cottage had been acquired for a CI5 safe house. It was small, isolated, miles from London--not a good choice for most of the ops they were involved with, but perfect for a "quiet conversation" away from prying eyes. It was where he had first made love to Doyle. It was where the partnership would end, on this longest night of the year.
A sudden squall sent rain lashing against the windows. The weather had followed him from London--cold and bleak. It was fitting. The fire would see him through the night. The safe house was kept well supplied for sudden visitors. In the morning he'd know his future.
He ached to fill the silent space next to him.
We'll talk, Doyle had said.
But he'd left Doyle warm in bed in London. He'd watched him sleeping and had wanted nothing more than to reach out and feel the vitality of him. Wake him. Believe in dreams. But it was here that the pattern had been set, born of the knowledge they held of one another. Doyle had given him what he could; it was time for him to be as generous--and as selfish.
Long ago, he'd said he'd do anything for Doyle. It had been true up until now. He'd found the one thing he couldn't do. And so he'd do the nearly impossible: he'd leave. He'd set Doyle free.
Bodie put the cup down, closed his eyes, and lowered his head to his knees. He let the memories sweep through him.
The hope wouldn't die. He knew how unlikely it was that Doyle would arrive in time. Even if he did come, even if he'd understood the message and guessed right about where they'd taken him--what then? Bodie had been in enough hostage situations to know the score. When the squad arrived--if they arrived--they'd come in hard and fast, without warning. Mullan was too dangerous; they wouldn't want to risk letting him slip away. It was regrettable, but Bodie was expendable. At least Mullan and his bombing campaign would be stopped.
If Doyle had understood him.
"Change of plan. Mullan's moved it up to tomorrow. We're moving to a place closer to the target."
"Tell you when I know, mate."
"But I'll be at the Christmas party tonight."
"Sod. Oi, save me a liver sausage sandwich."
"It's every man for himself."
"See you at the show."
"I hope so."
He'd had Brady's gun pressed into his back and Mullan listening in. Doyle had given him an opening, but had he understood? Was there any basis for the hope he clung to? He was putting all his faith in Doyle.
"Hurry up, James. I want to be out of here within the half hour." Mullan walked to the window, peering out for a moment before he let the curtain drop.
"It takes time." James was packing his tools and supplies--all the paraphernalia that Mullan had risked coming back for.
"Just take whatever's critical. It won't do us much good if we're caught or dead."
Brady kept his eyes and gun on Bodie. "Why hurry? The cops are swarming around central London by now."
Mullan turned on him. "That bugger will have told them about this place."
"But they think we've moved."
"Don't be daft, they'll still come here. I just hoped to buy us a bit of time. Go and help James, dammit."
"What about him?" Brady nodded at Bodie.
"He's not going anywhere."
That, Bodie thought, was true enough. They'd not only tied his wrists together, they'd also bound him to the wooden chair. He knew perfectly well that he wouldn't be leaving this cottage alive. He was insurance, but his usefulness ended when the van was packed.
Up until a few hours ago, the op had gone brilliantly. He'd infiltrated the gang, reported their location, contacts, and activities. But today he'd risked a five minute meet with Doyle in the park, and everything had gone to hell.
There was a silver lining to his impending death: he wouldn't have to face Cowley.
Bodie wrenched himself over in the chair, falling hard onto his shoulder. Gunfire, shouts, the sounds of breaking glass and splintering wood erupted all around him. His heart hammered in his chest. By God, they'd found him! He nearly laughed, despite the chaos raging around him, but then he was familiar with the method behind the madness: create maximum confusion for the villains, and go in with a well-trained team. Within minutes it was over, the shooting had stopped: Doyle was on his knees next to him, slicing through the cords with his jackknife.
"You stupid berk. You blew it." Doyle's hand was tight around his arm, yet Bodie knew it wasn't from anger.
"It wasn't me, mate." Bodie jerked a head towards Brady, who was being handcuffed by Anson. "His bird recognised you."
"In the park?"
"Yeah." Bodie eased into a sitting position. Doyle still gripped him.
"My sentiments exactly." He winced as circulation returned to his hands.
"Why'd you risk it when he was around, then?" Doyle's hand moved up and down his arm.
"He was supposed to be checking a secondary target--nowhere near the park, or his bloody girlfriend."
"Ah. I'd come up with something better than that for Cowley, mate."
Bodie looked at him. "He's not--"
Bodie closed his eyes and ignored Doyle's snort. "Here, sir." He climbed to his feet, and Doyle finally released him.
Cowley glanced around as he walked over to Bodie. "What a mess. Are you all right?"
"Bruised and battered, sir, but fine."
"I see. This is not how I would have chosen to finish the case. But as we have Mullan and his supplies, it will do."
"Thank you, sir." Bodie glanced at Doyle, astonished that Cowley would let them off so easily.
"You can thank Doyle." Was that satisfaction in Cowley's voice? "He was the one who led us here." He looked rather narrowly at Bodie. "First the Myer-Helmut group, now Mullan. You're fortunate to have a partner who understands you so well."
"Yes, sir." He kept his eyes on Cowley.
Anson stepped back into the cottage. "We're ready, sir."
"Very well." He looked at Bodie and Doyle. "You two stay here until forensics and the clean-up team arrive. I'll expect your reports by noon tomorrow."
They nodded and watched as the squad left.
"See? I didn't blow it." Bodie grinned.
"Oh, and that's why we're stuck out here?" Doyle put the chair upright, with a bit more force than necessary.
"Someone had to stay and it was our case. The Cow's happy. We're alive. That's a success."
Doyle rounded on him. "Liver sausage sandwich?"
"Brilliant, wasn't it?"
Doyle stared at him. "I should kill you myself." He walked across the room to the table scattered with electronic debris.
"Why do I get the idea you're not happy?"
Doyle didn't answer that. He picked up a roll of wire.
Doyle slammed the wire down on the table. "What if I hadn't realised something was wrong?"
Doyle's eyes met his, his expression stormy. "Cowley didn't agree."
"You convinced him."
"Yeah." Doyle looked away. "Bloody hoo-ray for me."
Bodie walked over to him, standing close. "Look, it's like Cowley said--I'm bloody fortunate to have a partner who knows me. Maybe he has a point with all this team business, eh?"
"Don't let it go to your head, son."
"Why should I when you've already let it go to yours! Bloody over-confident--I've had it, Bodie. The next time you get bored on an op, you're on your own." Doyle stalked away, back to the centre of the room.
"I wasn't--where the fuck do you get off--"
Doyle turned around. "You get reckless when you're bored. I can point to a dozen examples of that!"
"I thought it was safe. I didn't plan on the girlfriend."
"You didn't play it by the rules. Cowley could throw the book at you--and he'd be right!"
"All right! But since when did we play by the rules?"
Doyle stalked up to him, poked him in the chest. "Most of the time, and you bloody well know it." He glared at Bodie. "How the hell could you call for a meet in the park?"
"I bloody trusted you!"
"Doyle, you're blowing this up--"
"Am I?" Doyle's eyes narrowed. "Understand this, Bodie. I'm not willing to watch you die because you're bored. I'll split the team before I do that."
Something cold sliced through Bodie. "Cowley wouldn't go for it."
"You think I can't convince him?"
Bodie stared at him, watched his chest rise and fall. "It wasn't boredom."
How had this got so damned dangerous? He couldn't lose Doyle, but equally he couldn't tell him what he didn't know himself. Bodie's throat constricted.
"Why'd you risk the meet? What was so bloody important that it was worth--"
Bodie grabbed him, his fingers digging into the leather of Doyle's jacket. For one moment he hesitated as Doyle's eyes widened, and then he kissed him. He felt Doyle's body tense, felt the quiver of shock, but Doyle didn't pull away. Bodie pressed closer, and something close to triumph spread through him. Doyle's mouth opened under his, and he tasted him. He moved his hand from Doyle's shoulder to the back of his neck, cradling his head.
Doyle gasped and stepped back, his mouth still open.
Bodie let his hands fall to his sides. He stayed where he was. They were balanced on a knife edge. All he could do was wait.
Doyle heaved a breath, then another, and with a moan he moved back into Bodie's embrace. His mouth sought Bodie's.
At last. At fucking last. Bodie held Doyle to him, his hands sweeping over his back. One of Doyle's hands cupped Bodie's neck, the other rested on his waist. Bodie reached under Doyle's jacket, seeking skin, but his shirt was tucked into his jeans. He tugged at Doyle's jacket, slipped it off, and attacked his shoulder holster. A few seconds later, he dropped both jacket and holster to the floor. His hands slid along Doyle's waist, followed his belt to the buckle, and undid it. Doyle hissed as Bodie's fingers brushed against his cock, and then he froze. Bodie closed his eyes as Doyle again pulled away from him. He listened to him breathing.
"What the hell are we doing?"
Bodie opened his eyes. Doyle was staring at him, his expression somehow combining desire, wonder, and reluctance. He reached out, grabbed Doyle's shoulder and pulled him close again. "Don't, Ray."
Doyle's voice was muffled by his shoulder. "I'm not...I don't...."
"I know. But it's nothing to worry about. No strings. Just--"
"You want it."
Bodie smiled, although it hurt, and moved against Doyle. "So do you." Doyle lifted his head and looked into Bodie's eyes. Oh, yes, Doyle wanted him. "It's just the moment. Trust me, eh?"
Doyle stilled in his hands, his eyes fixed on Bodie, but Bodie couldn't read his thoughts. "Always," Doyle murmured. And before Bodie could respond to that, Doyle had again claimed his mouth.
They moved together towards the sofa, hands and mouths busy. He got Doyle's shirt open, and his jeans unzipped. At last he was touching skin, feeling the quivering response to his caresses. He groaned into Doyle's mouth as Doyle's hands found his cock. He wanted to explore Doyle, chart every inch of him with his tongue and hands, but all he could do was hold on as Doyle pushed Bodie's trousers down and sank to his knees before him.
He cried out when Doyle took him into his mouth. Reality and fantasy merged as he saw his cock surrounded by Doyle's lips. He shuddered and put a hand on Doyle's face, needing to feel the movement of his cheek and jaw. How could this be real?
"Christ, Ray. Please." He panted. "Oh God, look at you. I want to fuck you." One of Doyle's hands was at the base of his cock, controlling his thrusts. The other stroked his balls, then slid to his arse. "Fuck, oh fuck." He had no control over his reaction, no way to slow it down. He could only ride the surge that crashed through him, and he exploded into Doyle's mouth.
Bodie fell back onto the sofa, gasping for air, while Doyle's tongue swirled around his cock one more time. Doyle slid on top of him, kissing him, and he could taste himself mingled with Doyle. He worked to control his breathing, still sparking from the release. He put his hand to Doyle's head and knew it was shaking, but he didn't care.
"Anything." Bodie opened his eyes. Doyle's smile was one Bodie had never seen directed at him before.
"I shall hold you to that." Doyle's eyes were dark, his skin flushed, his shirt and jeans in disarray.
Bodie rubbed one of Doyle's nipples, loving it when Doyle head tilted back, and his eyes slitted. He used his other hand to push Doyle's jeans down, releasing his cock to Bodie's touch. "What do you want?"
Doyle's eyes opened fully and he gazed down at Bodie. His chest was heaving. "Your mouth," he said.
Bodie smiled. "You're sure? I'm good with my hands you know." He slid his hand along Doyle's cock, enjoying the groan that produced. "Or there's my arse. How'd you like that, Doyle? Hot and tight around you; me beneath you--"
"Come here, then." Bodie slid his full length onto the sofa and brought Doyle to him, his cock to Bodie's mouth. He licked Doyle's cockhead, dipping into the slit, tasting him. He heard Doyle's breath hitch, and he felt pleasure lance through him, almost as if their positions were reversed. Slowly, he took Doyle's cock into his mouth, revelling in the possession. He kept his eyes on Doyle's face, where he couldn't hide his reaction. He sucked and Doyle's fingers bit into his shoulders.
There was nothing restrained about Doyle, nothing kept back. Before tonight, Bodie had only seen Doyle's passion when his temper flared. This was a revelation. Doyle's head fell back and he abandoned himself to Bodie's care. Bodie pulled the orgasm from him, delighting in it and in Ray's trust. Even after Doyle was finished and collapsed on him, Bodie held him. His hands stroked over Doyle's body, soothing and claiming in one.
Doyle lay with his chin on Bodie's chest and looked at him. It took a while, but Bodie could see when Doyle's brain kicked in gear. "You're saying that's why you met me in the park?"
Bodie raised his eyebrows. "We'd get arrested for that. And you a copper."
Doyle's eyes were steady on his own, but Bodie didn't look away. He'd given all he was willing to give. No strings went both ways. "You seemed to know what you were doing."
Doyle's head tilted, and something flitted across his face and was gone. "Before the police." He dropped his eyes and nuzzled Bodie's chest. "You?"
"I don't like restrictions." He grinned.
"Why am I not surprised?" He liked the smile that appeared on Doyle's face.
Bodie laughed. But he cut it off at the sweep of light beams through the window.
"Fuck!" Bodie grunted as Doyle pushed off him. There was no time to complain as they both scrambled and got their clothes, buttoned, tucked, and straightened. Doyle strapped on his shoulder holster and turned to Bodie. "All right?"
Bodie swept a look over him. Doyle was dressed, but his mouth was swollen and he looked.... But then Doyle always did look like he'd just had it, so maybe no one would notice. "Fine. Me?"
"You'll do." Doyle's eyes told him he wasn't thinking about Bodie's appearance.
Bodie clamped down on the joyous glee within him. Decorum was called for. They both turned as the door opened and Matthews walked in. Bodie watched the change in Doyle, the shift to CI5 agent. They all wore masks, didn't they? And sometimes masks were needed within the partnership as well. He'd better perfect his own.
While the forensics team set to work, Bodie went to the other room in the cottage to retrieve his possessions. He packed quickly. Only a few minutes ago his hands had been full of Ray Doyle. He paused for a second and closed his eyes. It wouldn't last. It's just the moment. His promise to Doyle. Doyle was ambitious--he wanted a wife, he wanted a career. Bodie had no place in any of that. And, fuck it, since when did he want to? Ground rules were ground rules.
He turned his head and saw Doyle at the door.
"Yeah." Bodie zipped the bag and turned to face him.
"Good." Doyle's eyes travelled over him. "We're in a hurry, you know."
"Yeah?" His heart rate increased and his stomach tightened.
"Oh yeah." Doyle drew the words out.
"Cowley gave us until noon."
"That gives us fifteen hours. Time enough for you to prove the rumours true. Or false. They'd better be true." Doyle turned and walked away.
Bodie smiled. Doyle was his for now; it was enough. There'd be no reteaming. He followed Doyle.
He'd been following Doyle ever since. Bodie sighed, straightened his legs, and rested the thermos cup on his thigh. It had been easy enough to keep his promise. They came together when they wanted it, when they needed it, but there were no demands or expectations. He'd been there for Doyle, and Doyle for him--sometimes in the background; sometimes foremost. Doyle had stood by him when no one else would. That steady presence had been all he'd needed through the years of their partnership. He hadn't thought about the future; it was enough to get through the present.
He'd been right about Doyle's ambitions. Maybe the dream of a wife and children--a normal life--had disappeared along with Ann Holly, but that had only made Doyle cling to CI5 all the more. Doyle didn't always like what he did, but he had reconciled himself to the inherent contradictions of the job. It had been a long time since Doyle had had a crisis of conscience. June Cook's bitterness had been a pinprick, not a bloody wound. And Doyle had come back to the job after yet another near-fatal shooting.
Bodie cursed as he realised he'd spilt tea on his trousers. He relaxed his grip on the cup. Cowley had been pleased today, and he hadn't tried to hide his pride in Doyle's accomplishment. Very few of the doctors and trainers had thought Doyle had a chance of passing fit for CI5 again. Bodie had taken one look at him and knew he'd prove them wrong--from shooting to coma to returning field agent. But his own heart had never recovered.
He couldn't do it. He'd hung on to this job as long as he had because of Doyle and Cowley. Because he was good at it. Yet at some point self-preservation had to take over. He'd found Doyle covered in blood, dying, twice now. The odds were good it would happen again if they stayed in the field. Once they were off the streets, given Doyle's ambitions, they were over with anyway. It was better he go now. Save himself. Save Doyle's future--if Doyle fucking lived to see it.
Christ. Bodie closed his eyes as despair flooded through him, taking his breath for a moment. He was used to living day to day, not thinking about the future. He'd fought for survival often enough, but he hadn't done it to grow old. What the fuck was he going to do? Every alternative seemed only to extend the bleakness.
He'd promised Doyle no strings. He'd vowed to himself he'd never leave while Doyle was on the A squad. One promise or the other had to be broken. Bodie opened his eyes. All he knew was that he wouldn't survive finding Doyle dying on the floor again.
Light beams swept through room, just as they had years ago. Bodie raised his head, his body tense, his eyes on the door.
It wasn't long before the door opened and Doyle walked in, his jacket patterned with rain, his eyes seeking and finding Bodie. He paused, then he walked across the room and settled next to Bodie on the floor. He stretched a hand towards the fire.
"You must have made pretty good time," Bodie finally said, his eyes on the flames.
"I woke up alone. Is that tea?"
Bodie's gaze dropped to his cup. "Yeah, but...."
"You should've brought another cup, then. Hand it over." Doyle took the cup from his hand.
"It's got sugar in it."
"I should hope so." Doyle drank the cup down, then signalled for the thermos. Bodie handed it to him. Doyle poured the tea, took another sip, then handed the cup back to Bodie. "You ready to talk?"
"It was fucking lonely, Bodie."
Doyle sighed. "Why?"
Bodie shrugged. "It's time to move on."
Doyle was silent for awhile. "I'm glad you've got a fire going. They haven't changed this place all that much--it's still bloody cold. This is the longest night of the year, you know."
Bodie put the cup down and stood up.
"I passed fit."
Bodie walked away. "I was there."
He felt Doyle's eyes on him. "I've got my resignation letter typed up."
Bodie turned around. "What?"
Doyle picked up the cup and raised his eyebrows at Bodie.
"We're through, aren't we?"
Bodie's stomach dropped.
"With CI5, I mean." Doyle's look was piercing as he drank tea.
"You don't want that. Ray, what the fuck did you--"
"Oh no." Doyle's tone was sharp, cutting Bodie off. He put the cup down and stood. The movement was easy, graceful--as it hadn't been a couple of months ago. Bodie felt his throat tighten. "You can't have it all your way, sunshine. You walked out on me, in case you've forgotten. Well, I'm here now." Doyle walked over to him and stared straight into his eyes. "You're going to have to tell me, face-to-face, that you don't want me. That you don't want us."
"What 'us'?" Bodie turned away, then looked at him again. "No strings, remember?"
Despite himself, Bodie felt a grin tug at his lips. He controlled it.
"We've been wrapped up in each other for years. You're what I want."
"You want CI5."
"That's the general idea, yeah."
Again Bodie had to control his wayward mouth.
"Works both ways, mind."
"So if you're leaving because I want to stay in the job but you don't, then that's taken care of."
"Bloody hell! Do you think I want your sacri--"
Doyle moved to him, grabbed his arm. "I would do anything for you." His voice was very level. "Do you get that? Anything. And I know bloody well that works in reverse, so just shut the fuck up about it."
Bodie froze. "Not anything."
"I can't...stay. Not again." It seemed like his voice came from someone else.
And it all rushed out of him, his voice loud: "Why'd you trust him? For Christ's sake, Ray. You went to meet him alone!"
Doyle's head moved back, but he stood his ground. "He was an old mate. I thought I'd helped him before and could help him again."
"He fucking shot you! And then himself."
"Yeah." Doyle's gaze was steady. "I'm sorry. I didn't think."
Bodie reached out to him, but his hand trembled and he let it drop. "I can't do it, Ray. I've found you twice before. I...can't."
"You won't have to." Doyle's voice was fierce. "We're out of it."
"You bloody love CI5!"
"No, you dozy pillock! I love you! I like CI5."
Bodie looked at him, unconvinced.
"Strewth! Yeah, all right, I like being in CI5. I like making a difference--I think we do make a difference. I like being in the know. But there are other ways for me to be involved. What's CI5 to me without you?"
"I know you."
"Apparently you don't know anything!" Doyle paced away, running a hand through his hair, then turned back to Bodie. "I woke up alone. I've not been alone like that since we were last here. Even in hospital, you were always there. Even in my dreams." He walked close to Bodie. "Scared me to death, Bodie. Because I knew you'd left me and I didn't know why."
This time, Bodie's hand found Doyle's face. "I never wanted to force you to choose."
Doyle shook his head. "You once told me we all die alone. Fair enough. But we don't have to live that way, if we're lucky. I want you, and I need you. Everything else is fucking second."
Bodie slid his hand to the back of Doyle's neck. "A dozy pillock, eh?"
A smiled hovered on Doyle's mouth. "Sometimes."
Bodie kissed him. "Maybe you can surprise me now and again, but I do understand you."
"You just tried to run away from me!"
"Yes, and where did I run to?"
Doyle looked at him.
"You knew where to find me."
"Because you're a bleeding romantic."
Bodie smiled. "See? That wasn't so hard, was it?" He placed another quick kiss on Doyle's mouth.
"If you're so clever, then--"
"Hang on to that thought." Bodie walked to his pack, opened it, and pulled out a cup. "Brought one for you after all."
"You--" Doyle looked at the abandoned cup half-filled with tea, then back at Bodie.
Bodie returned to him. "It had to be your move, Ray. I didn't expect it. But I hoped." He didn't know what his eyes revealed, but he saw Doyle's expression soften.
"Ah, Bodie." Doyle leaned forward and kissed Bodie. "Bloody fool. You play for damned high stakes."
"You're worth it."
He put his arms around Doyle and sought his mouth, but Doyle put his fingers to Bodie's lips. "Home? It's more comfortable there."
"Old man." Bodie released him.
"Yeah. See to the fire, eh?"
Bodie headed for the fireplace. "You worked bloody hard to get back on the squad."
He heard Doyle rolling up the sleeping bag behind him. "You know why."
"Yeah. They told you it was a long shot, and you're bloody stubborn." He used a poker to separate the pieces of wood. The flames immediately died down.
"Have to be to stick with you."
"I'm very easy to understand."
"Liver sausage sandwich, mate."
"Well, easy for you to understand. Thank God." Bodie put the poker down and headed for the kitchen.
"Same thing." In the kitchen he rummaged in the cupboards to find an iron pot. He took that with him back to the main room.
"What's that for?" Doyle had placed his sleeping bag and pack beside the door.
"What day is it?"
"The twenty-first. Why? You want to celebrate our resignations?"
"You haven't--" He paused beside the fireplace, then turned towards Doyle. "You said you had your letter typed and ready."
"But you also said 'resigned.'"
"So I did."
Bodie narrowed his eyes. "You already talked to Cowley."
"Well...not officially. And when were you going to tell him, then?"
"When I was safe away. You sod. It'll be worse being second!"
"Do you think so?"
"Yes! Bloody hell, he'll think...."
"What?" Doyle looked very interested.
"Never mind." Bodie knelt by the fireplace and picked up the poker. "You told him today?"
"Shame, really. Well, you heard how pleased he was when I passed."
"That was cruel, Ray. Pre-Christmas." Bodie used the poker to collect the largest pieces of logs.
"Better to get it over with. Anyway, he had a devious look about him when I left. What the fuck are you doing?"
Bodie pushed the log pieces into the pot and put the lid on top. He stood up. "Do you think he might have plans for us?"
"Yes. Why did you...?"
Bodie crossed over to him and kissed him. "If Cowley's plotting, we'll need the luck."
Doyle looked confused and suspicious all in one.
Bodie smiled. Doyle's face had always fascinated him--mercurial, ever-changing, but an open book to him. "It's tradition, Doyle. We've burned away the old, but we keep some of the log to start next year's fire."
Doyle touched the back of his hand. "Next year."
"And the year after."
"It doesn't matter what Cowley wants. We'll decide together."
Bodie nodded. "I know we will." He moved towards the door. "C'mon. Let's go home."
Doyle followed him out into the night.
-- THE END --