After Christmas


(Sequel to "Under the Tree" by DVS)

"You're nervous!" Doyle exclaimed with dark glee, staring at his partner. Bodie had just slid a finger under the edge of his polo, as if he found it constricting.

Bodie gave him a disdainful look, but did not deign to reply. He only opened the car door and slid out. He immediately began unloading the various hampers and boxes. Doyle came around to help him.

"They're just two average, everyday blokes," Doyle said as they turned to walk the half block to their destination. "Joe Public. The ones we work for."

"Just your average gay couple," Bodie agreed, favouring Doyle with a look which said he would rather his partner--and lover--just drop the subject.

"I know we're dropping in on them unannounced," Doyle said. "Hope they haven't gone out."

Bodie was negotiating the steps carefully, since he couldn't see his feet at all, and then he waited for Doyle to ring the bell. He was heartened to hear sounds of life inside; the hamper was getting heavier by the moment.

"Yes?" The door was opened by a young man of perhaps twenty-five. He was a tall plain man, with pale blond hair and pale blue eyes. They were intelligent eyes, however, and the face had its share of laugh lines.

"Ray Doyle. That's Bodie. We've come to have dinner with you." Ray flashed his startling grin, the one which disarmed villains and charmed the ladies, while he gently waved a bottle of wine to emphasize his declaration.

The man glanced at them both, puzzled. "Mark Black, gents, but I do think you've the wrong address."

"Not at all. Do you think we might come in? My partner there is about to collapse under the weight of his burden." Doyle was an expert at getting into houses, his foot was already coming forward, and before Black had realized it, Doyle was pushing past into the interior of the house.

"Will? Are we expecting guests?" Mark called up the stairs, watching with amazement as the two intruders proceeded to make themselves at home.

"Mark? What...." The man coming down the stairs was towelling his hair dry. Surprise caused him to pause. He was, according to the records Bodie and Doyle had read, Wilson Dormer, owner of the house since his father's death several years before, a bank clerk and an upstanding citizen without even a parking ticket to his name.

"Hello," said Doyle, emerging from the kitchen. "Hope you don't have plans for the night. We've invited ourselves to dinner. Of course, as I'm cooking it and he," he pointed at Bodie, "is helping clean up, it should be as nice as going out."

"Mark? Who are these people? Do they work with you?" Will came the rest of the way down the stairs to stand next to his lover. They did not look at all alike. Will was shorter than the other men in the room, with just the touch of roundness that comes to some men as they hit their mid-thirties and stop getting as much exercise. He had brown hair, recently cut and brown eyes behind dark-framed glasses, and those eyes were peering out suspiciously. His moustache seemed to be the heartiest thing about him.

"You don't know us at all," Bodie said, coming forward to offer his hand.

"We, however, know you." Doyle stepped up as well, holding out his ID.

Dormer studied it intently, then lifted his eyes to Doyle's face. Irritation was forming on his face as realization dawned. "CI5!"

"CI5, the men who broke in over the holiday!" Black exclaimed, his expression also darkening. "Ate up the food, left all the dirty dishes!"

"Yes," Doyle agreed, without looking at all contrite. "If a man's home is his castle, we're the Vikings, the Goths, the Vandals and the Gepids as well. If it helps at all, your next door neighbour is in custody and we got the explosives out of his cellar, and most of the members of an international bombing society have been collected up and now reside at Her Majesty's expense in our finest prisons."

"Think of us as a neighbourhood improvement society. Since we couldn't have done it without you," Bodie picked up the tale, "we've come to give you a proper thank you."

"You'll get a cheque to compensate you for the food we ate and use of the facilities later," Doyle said. "Much later, if it takes as long to be processed as our expense sheets. We thought you deserved something a bit sooner."

"I'm afraid I don't understand," Dormer said, looking from one CI5 agent to the other. Bodie and Doyle were dressed casually, but nothing could hide the well muscled bodies or the vague air of danger which clung to them. It was clear he was not ready to trust them just on their word alone.

"We thought you'd feel better about having your house broken into and your things gone through if you knew it was us had done it," Bodie told him.

"I can't think why," Dormer said irritably. He found himself following Doyle and Bodie as they carried the hamper into the kitchen. Black trailed along at the back of the line, looking from one to another as the conversation progressed.

"It can't have been comfortable knowing that just anyone might have had a look at the magazines under the bed," Bodie told him, taking a chair at the kitchen table as Doyle unpacked the contents there.

Black gasped, backing up a step, while Dormer went red in the face. As he opened up his mouth to express his opinion, Doyle let loose with another of his grins.

"Mustn't mind, ducky. As we've said, you're in luck. It was only us, and we made very sure that nothing got into our report which is going to cause you a moment's anxiety." He waved the package in his hand and added, "I hope you like vegetables."

"Vegetables are delightful." Black gave them each a look which implied that perhaps this might not be said of their uninvited guests.

"Do you mean to say you were the individuals who made themselves at home here?" Dormer seemed to be having trouble with the concept.

"Left mud on the carpet? Dirty dishes in the sink? Tea rings on the table?" Black added.

"It was dark," Bodie explained. "We couldn't turn on lights, could we? Did the best we could under the circumstances."

"Only too glad to be here, if you want the truth," Doyle submitted, from the depths of the hamper. "It was fuckin' cold out there that night. Anybody here object to garlic?"

"No. Not that you'd care if we did. Used to having your own way?" Black inquired, taking a seat at the table. Dormer went and put his towel over a hook in the pantry before joining the two at the table.

"Oh, yes, very butch, we are," Bodie contributed, and because Bodie, in his black leather jacket, fit the image more than Doyle, they eyed him sharply, looking for double meanings. Bodie just grinned.

"If you've nothing to do but make remarks, there's celery to chop," Doyle said, looking up at each of them in turn.

Bodie held up his hand as if to ward off the very suggestion and Doyle lobbed a wooden spoon at him, which Bodie deftly caught.

"You're gay," Mark Black said, looking from Bodie to Doyle.

"Oh, no. Just very happy," Doyle said. "You've moved the wok!"

"Up there," Dormer said, pointing. "What do you mean, just very happy?"

"It's all very strange," Bodie explained. "I would have said I was straight. Before I met him," he added, with a thumb in Doyle's direction.

"We're not gay, not the way some are. Just exclusive," Doyle added. "We don't travel in the right circles, go to the right clubs."

"Can't, not with our job, our boss," Bodie added. Doyle had handed him the board, the wet celery and the knife, and so he had begun to chop up the vegetables with enthusiasm and a certain lack of skill which still, unexplainably, resulted in a remarkably uniform product.

"In the closet?" Dormer wanted to know.

"It's big enough for two," Doyle said with another grin. "I thought you two had a closet of your own?"

Black met Dormer's eyes and there was a silent communication which they did not bother to disguise. Bodie looked on with interest, but Doyle was head first in a cupboard, looking for vinegar.

"Closet? More like a coffin," Black said, and went to fetch vinegar from the closet when he saw Doyle's woeful expression when he discovered a bottle with less than an inch of liquid in the bottom.

"A coffin is horizontal, at least," Bodie suggested, with a wink.

"I scent an old argument," Doyle said, smiling his thanks as he took the new bottle from Black.

"About twenty minutes younger than our relationship," Black agreed. "We have an on-going argument about the meaning of 'family'. Not to mention...."

"Then don't," Dormer said in a weary voice.

Black did not seem resentful, he only sighed and said to Doyle, "I suppose you want that sliced?"

Doyle happily delegated yet another job and looked hopefully at Dormer, who laughed and let the CI5 agent hand him a knife and a pile of mushrooms. "What are we making?" Dormer asked.

Doyle would not commit himself.

"It never comes out the same way twice, so he doesn't call it anything. 'S good, though," Bodie told him. "Except for the time he substituted bean curd for the steak."

"You never would have noticed if I hadn't told you about it," Doyle maintained. "Why are you still wearing your coat?"

"Haven't been formally invited to stay," Bodie replied, looking at Dormer, a question in his eyes.

"Do stay and have dinner with us, Mr...?"

"Bodie. Just Bodie."

"It's all he can spell," Doyle said kindly from the other side of the table.

"Oh, I can spell. S-U-N-S-H-I-...." He stopped abruptly as Doyle shoved a bit of water chestnut into Bodie's mouth. Bodie gave him a look, nibbled Doyle's finger until it was pulled away and then he munched up the morsel and looked hopefully at Doyle.

"Berk," Doyle said fondly and went back to his slicing.

"Charming," said Dormer, with a glance at Black.

"Afraid so," Bodie said. "Not that I knock it, mind you. His charm has got us out of more than one tight spot."

Doyle, who was mixing something brown in a cup, and frowning intently, stopped work long enough to grin and say, "The ones he got us into the first place?"

"That's right. Blame me for everything." Bodie had started on the beef, slicing it thin.

"Well, not death or taxes. Everything else," Doyle said generously. "Where's the flour?" Black pointed. Doyle pounced. "Now, you set the table, and Bodie will finish the chopping."

"I feel like I should salute," Dormer told his lover as he went for the plates.

"Could be worse," Bodie leaned out of the kitchen to address their hosts. "We could be...." He was interrupted by the sound of glassware hitting something more solid, and he withdrew for a moment, then stuck his head out again. "Don't worry, no damage, and it was one of Doyle's. Slippery when wet," he added, before popping back to help his mate clean up the mess.

"One of Doyle's what, do you suppose?" Mark Black asked his lover.

"He brought a set of funny looking measuring cups. Fancies himself Ho Chi Minh," Dormer suggested.

"What?" Black looked startled and not a little apprehensive.

"The other name of Nguyen That Tan, one of Escoffier's pastry chefs."

Black rolled his eyes, but still looked impressed. Bodie leaned out of the kitchen again. "Is that true, about the pastry chef?"

Dormer nodded.

Bodie developed a sudden, evil grin, and disappeared again.

"Must have ears like a bat," Dormer sighed.

"The price we pay for a free society," Black suggested, dealing out the silverware.

Dormer nodded. "Smells good, anyway," he said, sniffing the air, which now held a hint of frying beef and oriental spices.

Black nodded, and went to get the other chair from in front of the desk.

In a remarkably short time, Doyle was bringing out platters of rice and Chinese dumplings and two types of stir-fried concoctions. They all sat down at once to eat, and the conversation was sporadic as they eliminated the mounds of food in short order.

"How do you afford him?" Black asked Doyle as Bodie finished the last of the dumplings.

Doyle pretended to consider the matter carefully. Then he whispered, "It's very true that he's good at eating everything in sight." Then he winked, to make sure they knew he wasn't just thinking about food.

Bodie kicked him under the table. Dormer let a smile escape. He seemed to be in a better mood now that he, too, had a good meal under his belt.

They cleaned up together, with Bodie washing up in that quick, army-efficient way he had, and Doyle drying, when he wasn't threatening his lover's bum with the twisted-up towel, and their hosts putting everything away.

Then, just as the last dish slipped into the cupboard, Dormer rather shyly asked if they would like to stay and play a game his cousin had give him for Christmas, and trading a glance, Bodie and Doyle accepted.

They stayed until midnight, laughing at the wild drawings and wilder guesses the game required, and if Bodie and Doyle were better at reading each other's minds, they still made sure, most carefully, that their hosts eventually won the game.

"That was fun. That was a good idea you had," Doyle said, as the door closed behind them and they were once again out in the cold night air. He was toting a hamper considerably lighter than the one they took in.

"Yah. It was," Bodie said, checking their car with care before they climbed in. The neighbourhood had improved in the past week, but there was always the chance they had missed a bad man or two.

"I wish," Doyle said, "we didn't have to be in tomorrow."

"You saw the schedule?" Bodie made a face in disgust. "We've drawn the short straw--duty straight through the new year, and three days beyond that. After not getting Christmas off...."

"We were home for the last eighteen minutes of it," Doyle reminded him. "Got to open our presents, find out what wonderful things were in our stockings...."

"We didn't have...oh. The ones we were wearing."

Doyle nodded, a bit of a smile creeping onto his face as he remembered. "You remember that plan we had? The first time we got two days off in a row, we were going to do something about the mutually virginal state of our arses?"

"I remember. I think about that a lot," Bodie confessed.

"Yeh." Doyle's voice showed that it was on his mind as well. "If we don't get two days off soon, I think we should call in sick."

"Both of us? Subtle, that! Cowley can put two and two together and get four, you know!" Bodie made a turn, eye on the car behind. He was fairly sure the driver wasn't criminal, merely incompetent.

"Putting one and one together was what I had in mind!" Doyle joked, but then he said seriously, "We could do it tonight, call in sick tomorrow."

Bodie said, "We can't. Tired of waiting, Sunshine?"

"Tired of waiting, Bodie," Doyle admitted.

"Just a little longer. Besides, I have something else I want to do tonight."

Doyle sat a little straighter. "What?"

Bodie, who was making it up as he went along, thought frantically. What hadn't they done in the last month? " ever done it in the bath?"

"More than once!"

"With a bird, I mean?" Bodie added.

"I didn't mean by myself!" Doyle laughed, that dry, low laugh that Bodie loved.

"Wasn't sure, with you. Want to give it a try tonight?"

"Why not," Doyle agreed, with more nonchalance than he felt. Bodie was affected as well, for the car began to move a little faster. Fortunately, they were not that far from home.

Home, for tonight at least, was Doyle's flat. They parked the car, locked up, and walked to the flat with a speed others might have attributed to the cold night air. It was with impatience that they observed the CI5 safety precautions, the locks, the inspection of each room. They left the hamper in the kitchen, turned out the lights and went at once to the bedroom, hands busy unfastening, lips busy kissing. Once nude, they occupied the time while the bath filled with kisses. Standing next to the tub, with one side warm from the rising steam and the other cold, they were lost in the exploration of each other, and so hard that they considered leaving the water for later and diving for the bed instead.

Still the water was there, and Bodie bent to turn off the faucet and Doyle, eyes glazed from the wickedly wonderful view that provided, urged Bodie into the water.

That's when they discovered that two blokes in a bathtub took up a hell of a lot of room. The first result was a flood of water out onto the floor, which required half the towels Doyle owned to soak up. Then, Bodie's elbow came into contact with Doyle's eye, and when he shifted to fix the problem, he slid down the porcelain curve half over his partner, who laughed and pushed him away. They wrestled, mindful of the faucets at the far end but dislodging the plug, allowing the water to begin to run out. Too involved with each other to notice, they continued laughing and twisting, caught up in the excitement and just a little alight with the challenge of the game, of pinning the other and 'winning', they did not realize the ramifications until Bodie's hand slipped. He fell forward, Doyle twisted so as not to hit the side of the tub, and all at once they froze, both of them turned to stone at the realization that Doyle's hard cock had not only slid down between Bodie's buttocks, but was snubbed up against the opening there. Even as they paused, panting, hearts pounding, the entrance gave way, just a little, from the pressure.

Bodie took a deep breath, looking over his shoulder at Doyle, who had the face of a man on the rack, a twisted expression made up of hope and burning and a deep fear. Bodie eased the ache in his neck by turning his head away, and he lifted his arse, indicating his willingness to proceed and opening just a bit more to Doyle's thick probe.

Doyle, his hands gripping Bodie's hips so hard he left bruises, surprised them both by moaning and pushing away. Bodie said nothing, but snaked his hand around as he moved, changing Doyle's position as well as his own by the action, and took hold of Doyle's hard, damp cock. It took only a moment to bring his lover to the peak, and to hold him while he shivered and cried out and poured out over Bodie's thigh. Doyle did not let himself rest in the aftermath of orgasm, but wiggled until his mouth could close around Bodie's own thickened and needful flesh. He nursed there, cleverly bobbing his head as he had learned to do, taking Bodie's thrusting rhythm as his own until Bodie froze and gave out his gift to Doyle's lapping tongue.

They stayed together until the discomfort drove them out of the cooling water. Neither spoke as they dried off, and it was not until they had crawled into bed that Bodie spoke.

"You could have," he said, and he did not have to preface his remarks. Doyle knew what he was talking about.

"It wasn't what we agreed."

Bodie turned his head towards Doyle, who was moving closer, wrapping his arms around Bodie. They paused in their conversation to trade a long, slow kiss.

"I would have let you. I wanted it." Bodie's lips brushed Doyle's cheek as he sought another kiss.

"I wanted it, too," Doyle admitted, and gave him what he was looking for. Then, when his mouth was free again, he said, "It's more important to do it the way we planned. When we can do it right. It's going to mean something, Bodie, when I put it into you."

"Like sliding a ring on my finger?" Bodie asked, amused.

"Exactly like that. A ring of you holding my cock, and when we do it the other way 'round, a ring of me, holding you, and you inside me...."

"Hell, Doyle, keep that up and we'll be married before morning!" Bodie groaned, as his cock gave a quiver in response to the images in his mind.

Married? Doyle liked the thought, but all he said was, "You wish! Go to sleep, Bodie." Doyle tucked himself into Bodie's curves and corners, yawning.

Bodie might have protested, but he was ambushed by a yawn of his own. "You're right," he admitted. "I'm tired."

"I usually am," Doyle said smugly, and he knew he had made the right decision when he was answered only by a snuffling sound at his ear. Two days off, and they'd do it. A honeymoon, of sorts. He'd buy a cake, make it special.... Making plans which turned at some point, into dreams, he slept.

-- THE END --

Originally published in To Friends, Chained to the Typewriter Press, 1993

AN EXPLANATION FROM DVS: Originally, this story was to go into a zine called Slippery When Wet, one of the Pros theme zines put out by Noel Silva. Each of the stories in the zine is supposed to have the title phrase of the zine somewhere in the story. It's a kick, and fun to see where the authors slide in the key phrase.

The story "Under the Tree" by DVS was in the zine of the same name last year. This story, "After Christmas", is a sequel to it. It was almost finished when the notification for Slippery When Wet arrived. All that needed to be done was slip in the key phrase and think of a title. Boy, was I pleased with myself! After so many instances of thundering towards a deadline, neck and neck with disaster, here I was not only on time, but scads ahead of time.

I should have known. SWW came out, and--no story. The dreaded post offal, which hadn't given me much of a problem in years (except about letters to Russia, which I have always assumed their post office/government lost), seems to have gulped down the story whole. I said a bad word. I said two. But then I realized that "After Christmas" fit very well into a zine with a theme of friendship, and the story ended up here.

The fun part about "Under the Tree" was seeing how many times I could get in the key phrase without being intrusive about it. In "After Christmas", the fun part was putting the phrase NOT in the obvious place (when they were slippery and wet!). I think Noel's zines spark creativity, they challenge fans, and they are good for fandom. I would also like to heap praise on Noel's head for her pricing policies. For many years she produced zines which were copy-lefted, designed to be copied. The zines for which she charges are reasonably priced and well worth the money. Fandom has been enriched by her kindness and her efforts to keep zines in everybody's price range.

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