A Safe Bet
by D Ramsey
The Red Lion was packed on this Friday evening. A successful mission involving most of CI5's operatives had concluded the day before, and, the paperwork having been completed, it was time to let off a little collective steam. Even Cowley joined in and bought the first round.
From his corner table, Cowley surveyed the room and his agents. He was proud of each and every one of them, damned proud. His eyes scanned the room and alighted on half of his favorite teaming. If pressed, he'd deny to his last breath having favorites, and only to himself would he acknowledge the paternal feelings he felt for Bodie. That Bodie sought his approval in a manner consistent with that of a dutiful child never failed to warm his Scot's heart. Aye, Bodie was like the son he had never had.
The object of his attention sat at a crowded table, laughing and joking with his fellow agents. Bodie's infectious, easy humour made him one of the most popular operatives in CI5.
Not seeing Doyle in the loud group, Cowley resumed his survey of the room. Doyle. If he viewed Bodie as his spirit son, then he saw in the idealistic, moody, intelligent Doyle a near copy of himself, too many years and one bum leg ago. Aye, he was hard on Doyle, but he had to be. Doyle needed the discipline that he and CI5 offered to curb his volatile temper and to force the younger man to think. Cowley was well pleased with the results of his efforts and enjoyed his role as mentor, despite Doyle getting up his nose on a regular basis. If Bodie needed his approval, then Doyle needed his attention.
The other half of the double act stood at the bar making small talk with Benny. Cowley bet with himself that, even with his back to the room, Doyle knew exactly where his partner was and what he was doing. Never before had he encountered two people more aware of each other on every level. They had taken a working partnership and created a remarkable team. He admitted to himself a certain curiosity as to how they fared outside of work.
He knew from overheard conversations that the two spent a fair amount of off duty time together, whether on double dates or just watching a game on the box. Cowley wondered if they ever turned down the level of intensity he saw on the job, or even if they realized the heat they generated between them. Half of every conversation between the two was carried on silently in looks and gestures - if you only heard their words, you missed half their meaning.
Cowley watched as Doyle turned from Benny and leaned back against the bar, one foot hooked in a rung on the stool. Unerringly, Doyle's eyes turned in Bodie's direction. One safe bet won. Cowley smiled to himself and continued to watch with interest.
Bodie, caught up in a tale he was spinning, was seemingly unaware of the scrutiny of his partner. Loud laughter broke out from the crowd around his table as he delivered the punchline. He looked up, and eyes made straightaway for Doyle's, winning Cowley's second private bet for him - the awareness worked both ways.
As the two men's eyes remained locked, it seemed to Cowley that no one else existed for them just then. There was an exclusiveness between them that he almost envied. Almost - he had never wanted the responsibility that such a close relationship engendered.
Bodie ended his private communication with Doyle with a grin and a wink and returned to the general conversation around him. Cowley made another bet with himself that it wouldn't be too much longer before Bodie joined his partner - he had received his summons.
Cowley returned his attention to the bar. Doyle was half sitting on the stool now, again listening to Benny. A figure crossed his line of vision. 'That was quick', Cowley thought as Bodie leaned onto the bar next to Doyle. Neither acknowledged the other's presence, but it was as if invisible threads that had been stretched during the separation were now easing back into place. Cowley wouldn't have been surprised to see electric sparks arcing between the two men.
Cowley watched Bodie watch Doyle; watched as Doyle posed for the dark blue eyes he knew were fastened on him. Bodie surreptiously brushed the back of his hand down Doyle's bare arm, ending the charade of being ignored and claiming the attention that was his due. The movement was innocent enough, the touch lighter than many Cowley had seen Bodie bestow on his partner during any given day, but, in that instant, Cowley would have bet a bottle of his beloved pure malt scotch that the two were lovers. And it would have been the safest bet of the night.
They turned towards one another. Doyle said something, and Bodie laughed. Benny, forgotten, moved toward Bodie's vacated spot at the table. The two never noticed. Doyle picked up his jacket, and they headed towards the door.
Cowley looked up when Bodie stopped in front of his table.
"Good night, sir," Bodie said.
"Aye, lad. In the morning, then." Doyle had stopped half a pace ahead and nodded his head in Cowley's direction. "Doyle," he acknowledged.
Cowley continued to watch as they left. Bodie held the door open and pressed his hand into the small of Doyle's back. It was as innocent and as sexual a public act as Cowley had ever seen, both possessive and protective. It might have told him nothing, but it told him everything. This was not just two highly charged men having it off. Not just bodies were involved here, but hearts and souls are well. This was love - as pure and as real as he had ever seen. He must be losing his touch not to have noticed sooner. Idly he wondered how long it had been going on and who had made the first move.
His money was on Doyle. Even though Bodie was the most outwardly dynamic of the two, he consistently followed the other's lead. Cowley thought it likely Bodie would have worshipped Doyle from afar forever if left to his own devises. On the other hand, maybe Doyle taking the initiative was not such a safe bet after all. As with everything else between these two, it could have been a mutual reaching out.
Shaking his head, Cowley decided it was none of his business. If their work was being affected, then it was only for the better. Bodie and Doyle were undisputably his best team. Rising and shrugging into his overcoat, he decided to leave well alone. When it came to those two, he was winning all the way.
-- THE END --