Ray Doyle settled down on his spine, legs stretched out as far as they could comfortably go, and opened a large brown book.
"Comfortable, are we?" asked Bodie, who was driving, and he gave his partner a scowl which was about three tenths real. It was a pleasant day for a drive, but it had been his day off until Cowley had decreed otherwise. He had sent them north to inspect some property left to CI5 by a government official who had been appreciative of CI5 efforts. Mr Cowley had plans which included use of the house if it proved suitable and he had assigned Bodie and Doyle to take some pictures and make a map of the four acres. He had given them standard inventory forms such as were used to keep track of the contents of their safe houses, and he had marked which items they were to take particular notice of as they worked. They had left at noon, and Cowley had demanded the report be on his desk within 24 hours.
Doyle shifted again, said, "Very, thanks!" and began to read his book. Bodie resigned himself to a conversation-less drive and applied himself to easing his way through the city traffic. Twenty minutes later he stopped and got out, returning in a moment with two cold cans of coke, one of which he thrust cruelly against Doyle's bare neck as he handed it over.
His partner yelped, cuffed him, said thanks and opened it absently, eyes again glued to the page as he took his first sip.
"What're you reading then?" Bodie asked, swinging the car back into the flow of vehicles relentlessly heading away from town.
"Eh? Oh. Remember that stakeout day before yesterday?" Doyle asked.
"Yeah." Bodie said it almost patiently.
"Found this in the dustbin. In the alley." Doyle turned a page.
When he said nothing else, Bodie, eyes still on the road, reached out and gave him a poke. "Doyle?"
His partner jumped and focused on Bodie at last. "There's lots of good bits in here. Very interesting," he volunteered, and his head started to sink down again.
"Doyle...." There was imminent mayhem implied in the tone.
Doyle capitulated. "It's called Man's Body: An Owner's Manual." Doyle held the volume up to give Bodie a glimpse of the plain brown book with 'Man's Body' stencilled in large yellow letters on the front and back. "Tells you anything you might want to know about the male of the species."
Doyle flipped through the pages to a point near the beginning and read, "'The average man is 5 foot 9 and weighs 162 pounds.'" Then he glanced over at Bodie and said wickedly, "Bit over the average weight, aren't you, mate?"
"My 175 pounds of solid muscle sits elegantly on my tall, manly frame, Raymond. But a skinny cricket like you doesn't even get up to 'average', do you?"
"Closer than you do--155 last physical. But we're both too tall," Doyle noted with satisfaction, "to be average. It says here," he tapped the book, "the average woman is 5 foot 3."
"Never did like 'em average. Outstanding's more what I usually have in mind," Bodie replied.
Doyle chuckled and went leafing through the book. "There are a lot of rather interesting things in here. Things about...well, here, for example. About puberty. 'Changes start at twelve,' it says. Mine didn't. But then it says, those who start developing earlier take less time doing it."
"When'd you start, then?" Bodie asked, ignoring the other information to go straight for the personal comment Doyle had made. He'd long acknowledged to himself an interest in his partner's past. It was so different from his own. So comfortingly normal. Raised all sixes and sevens himself, it was somehow made up for by knowing his friend had had family stability. He was always interested in hearing Doyle's tales about his childhood.
"Bit later," Doyle answered. "You?"
"One of the accused. Was this tall at 14," Bodie admitted. It had enabled him to leave home, to lie about his age...but he shook his head, not wanting to remember those years.
"Figures. Your lot got all the girls," Doyle complained, but not bitterly.
"How old were you, then?" Bodie pressed.
Doyle ignored the question, most of his attention on the book. "Listen to this. 'Almost a third of boys develop a slight swelling beneath the breast nipple. This vanishes within 1 to 1 + years.' Glad that didn't happen to me!"
"Nor me. Explains about a mate of mine, though. Got teased a bit, he did." Bodie even remembered being one of those who'd called the names. Girly Earl.
"Here's something. Map of male/female ratios around the world. Don't go to Ascension Island."
"Didn't plan to," Bodie replied truthfully, his eyes on the cars ahead. Beside him, Doyle flipped quickly by the 'How Long Will I Live' chapter. Cardiovascular disorders were not something he expected to have to worry about.
"'The main type of fatal motor accidents are collisions with other motor vehicles,'" Doyle read. "Not precisely news, is it? But '1 1/2% are collisions with bicycles'. More than I'd think." Deciding it probably wasn't a good idea to discuss accidents while driving he flipped a few pages. "'Methods of Suicide. In the UK, self-asphyxiation with domestic gas has begun to give way to the overdose.'"
"You'll never have to worry about it. I plan on killing you off myself one day," Bodie told him fondly.
"Hanging and strangulations, third most common," Doyle said helpfully, paging on. "'How infections occur...germs....' Oh, here. 'Male inherited disorders'. Want to hear about hernias?"
"Not particularly, no."
Doyle read a few more minutes in silence, then said, "Did you know gout is connected with sex hormones? And they have a whole page on haemorrhoids. With pictures."
"Doyle!" Bodie let loose some mock exasperation.
"I'm improving my education, mate!" Doyle protested, slightly offended, "And providing you with entertainment. Did you know 96% of piss is water?" He immediately read from the book, "'Striking unusual colours can be produced by certain medicines or foods.'" Then, with conspiratorial glee he said, "You remember you said you wanted to get back at Finch for that trick with the beer? What do you suppose you feed a bloke to change his urine to a 'striking colour'?"
"If you ever find out, we'll do it," Bodie promised, a grin on his own face. It faded as he glanced over and saw the intent look on Doyle's face. "What?" he prodded.
"Sex. Got to the good stuff, haven't we?" Doyle said. "God, I've never heard of this before! N.S.C. Stands for Non Specific Urethritis. 'A reaction of the penis to the chemistry of the vagina.' Bleedin' hell, you'd be allergic to sex! The symptoms are really disgusting. Pus in the penis, and 'Treatment is antibiotics, and abstinence from alcohol and intercourse.'"
"Might as well be dead," Bodie said sincerely.
"Yeah. Wonder why you have to stay away from alcohol?"
"Dunno," Bodie confessed, slowing to make his turn. "Be the only thing to make no sex bearable, and so of course the doctors say no."
Doyle made a face in agreement. "Should've put the section on suicide right after that," he commented, turning a page. "Oh," he tsked. "Says here there's such a thing as sexual warts: 'very contagious'." He paused, then said in a hollow voice, "'May have to be burnt off'."
"Shit. Know how to make a trip cheerful, don't you?" Bodie complained.
"There's more," Doyle promised with a grin. "Bit on baldness. 'Nothing short of castration can be done about this condition.' D'you suppose that's right?" he asked doubtfully. "Castration?"
"I shall just quietly let nature take her course, when the time comes," Bodie decided.
"Me, too. Maybe baldness does have something to do with virility. I'd always thought...." He trailed off as he turned more pages. "Teeth?" he asked. When it became clear that Bodie had no great longing to know more about teeth, he suggested, "Stress? Sleep...Exercise...Alcohol!" He settled down to peruse this section and almost immediately found something of interest to inflict on Bodie. "Did you know the alcohol content of 3/4 of a pint of UK beer is the same as two bottles of US beer?"
"Naturally superior," Bodie suggested, assuming the face of a naturally superior person. This was taken in the wrong way by a very old man in a white Volvo who made a very impolite gesture as he passed.
Doyle missed the entire byplay. "Has a hangover cure suggested here. 'Milk or raw eggs or a good breakfast.' No shit!" Doyle said sarcastically. It was a phrase he'd picked up recently, and half the reason he used it was to bother and annoy Bodie.
"No shit--not in a hangover cure," Bodie agreed seriously, causing Doyle to giggle and lose his place in the book. He went hunting for it, pausing to scan a page and say, "Quite a few pages on tobacco and smoking. They don't recommend it."
"I don't either," Bodie responded.
"You don't smoke," Doyle dismissed the statement by turning another page.
"Did. Gave it up before I was 20."
"Thank god. Hate being around smokers. I've been on some miserable stakeouts with smokers. If they don't smoke, they fidget. It's awful."
"Ummm," Bodie agreed, remembering a situation long ago in the jungle where the price of a pack was one he hadn't wanted to pay. When the man had discovered Bodie couldn't be lured with cigarettes he'd tried a more direct route to his goal. When the fight was over the cigarettes had become rather blood-soaked and Bodie had decided smoking wasn't healthy. He'd traded his body for other things afterwards, but never for anything so trivial as a few cigarettes.
"Sex!" Doyle found the chapter and announced it happily and Bodie suppressed a start as Doyle voiced the word which summed up the direction of his thoughts for the last five minutes. It took a second to realize his partner hadn't read his mind. He kept his eyes on the road.
"Interesting chart here. Says by age 25 most men...90%...have lost the ability to have multiple orgasm; but in women the rate rises after age 25, because for women, it's a learned response. Here's another chart. 'With age,'" he read, "'the experience of waking with an erection becomes less frequent; the length of time for which an erection can be maintained shortens and the angle of the erect penis becomes less steep.' Noticed any angle problems, mate?"
"Not one," Bodie claimed, perhaps a trifle too loudly. Doyle sniggered, but politely refrained when Bodie turned his head to glare at him.
"Some odd charts in this section. One on sources of orgasm. One of the categories there is 'animal contacts'. According to the chart, the few boys who have 'em give them up by age 20. Guess they finally figure out about 'birds' meaning birds, not birds."
Bodie didn't even try to comment to that. "What else does it say?"
"What you'd expect. Masturbation goes down when intercourse increases."
"No surprise there," Bodie agreed.
"How 'bout this. The youngest recorded erection carried to orgasm was in a boy five months old."
"Yeah. And this part, about masturbation, this is funny. It's most in the young and highly educated."
"I'll never be able to look 'I-got-my-degree-from-Oxford' Anderson in the face again," Bodie agreed, causing his partner to choke in a gratifying manner. "What else?" he asked when Doyle had recovered enough to look at the book again.
"Only two or three men in a thousand can suck their own penises, it says."
"Can you?" Bodie asked.
"Never tried. Doubt it."
"I tried, once, when I was younger."
Doyle looked up with interest. "Can you?" he asked in turn.
"Could do yourself an injury that way," Doyle predicted, and went back to the book. "Got a chart here on 'Bodily Responses Accompanying Male Sexual Process' and do you know what it says next to it? 'The physical process (of orgasm), of irritation and spasm, can be compared with that of sneezing.'"
"Sneezing!" Bodie said, with outrage.
"No comparison at all," Doyle agreed heartily. "Want me to take a turn driving?"
"Nah. More of the book. It's keeping me alert enough," Bodie had to admit.
"Okay. Here's something else on orgasm. 'There are usually three or four major bursts of semen, one every .8 seconds.' Hell...it all happens in less than four seconds?"
"Not me. I come forever," Bodie bragged.
"Oh?" Doyle didn't rise to the bait if Bodie was teasing him. "Seems all too short to me. I hate it when it's over. I want it to last forever...." The intensity in Doyle's voice caused Bodie to turn his head and take a look at his friend.
"Take comfort, mate. You can always do it again after a bit of a rest."
Doyle shrugged. "Still have the same problem, then, don't I?" He seemed reluctant to continue that line of conversation and turned the page. If he was embarrassed he immediately shook it off, for his voice was normal as he read aloud, "'Body size is no guide to penis size: the erect penis has a less constant relationship to body size than any other organ. Nor is flaccid size decisive: penises which hang longer when flaccid tend to gain less when erect." He took a breath. "'The average flaccid penis is 3 3/4 inches long."
"Nice to beat the odds, innit?" Bodie asked.
"Dunno. Never measured it that way. Just, you know, hard."
"And?" Bodie said, genuinely interested.
Doyle ignored him, turning a page with eloquent concentration. "'The average length of an erect penis is 6 1/4 inches long,'" he read. "About 90% of all men have erect penises between 5 and 7 inches in length.' You know, that makes 90% of all the blokes I know, liars."
"Makes me hotter than I knew--no wonder the ladies rave," Bodie said with self-admiration that was almost more than his friend could stand.
"Size doesn't matter. Says so right here!" His finger stabbed the spot on the page and he held the book up as if he were going to insist Bodie take a look at it that very moment. Then he grinned. "Only...this chart on penis size. It's labelled 'small average', 'average' and 'large average'! No matter what, a man is at least average!"
"Ego. Sad," Bodie said, with a shake of his head. "But soothing to you, no doubt."
"You're the one who can't seem to remember how big your most vital part happens to be. Too small to notice, is it?" That was slanderous and unlikely as well. From various trips to the loo and changes in the restroom, he had a very good idea of the size of his friend's reproductive equipment. It was not at all undersized.
"Just don't want to make you feel bad, love," Doyle said kindly.
"Probably the same as yours," Bodie said, in an even more condescending tone, sure that Doyle was not going to tell him. Doyle surprised him.
"Seven...and seven eights."
"Your hat size?" Bodie asked, managing to avoid Doyle's punch to his shoulder and keep the car from changing course even a faction.
"Your turn," Doyle said, relentlessly.
"Seven and a half," Bodie finally admitted, but turned the subject from his size to Doyle's again by saying, "On your skinny frame...gives the birds a pleasant surprise, does it?"
"I suppose. I don't usually get complaints. Usually too busy to take notes, either."
"I bet you are," Bodie agreed. There was indulgence in his tone, a fondness which caused Doyle to look at him sharply before returning to the book. "Read some more," Bodie said when Doyle had been silent for several minutes.
Doyle frowned but obeyed. "An...no, 'On orgasm, a man ejaculates on average about 3.5 millilitres of semen--a small teaspoon full.' Seems like more. But it does say it can be as much as 13ml."
"Still seems like more, the way it can get all over," Bodie noted as he changed lanes.
"150 to 400 million sperm in there," Doyle mentioned. "Humm. 'Ejaculation is preceded by fluid from the Cowper's gland: 1 or 2 drops of clear, colourless liquid, which neutralizes any acidity in the urethra left by urine.' Takes the romance out of it, doesn't it? I always thought it was a sign of how randy I was, and all the time it's just nature's way of cleaning out the pipes."
"Another illusion, shot to hell," Bodie commiserated, not particularly upset by the news.
"Says semen can be shot three feet away but the average is seven to ten inches." A few minutes later he asked, "Have you ever heard of this? 'Intersex...otherwise normal people born with genitals that are intermediate between those of the two sexes: for example, an unusually short penis, perhaps surrounded with folds of skin, and a half or fully formed vagina.' Odd, that!"
"You'd never know it if somebody was. No man'd let anyone else know, would they?" Bodie observed.
"Not likely," Doyle agreed. "Says," Doyle went on after turning another page, "that an infection of the urethra can cause a crooked penis." Bodie stopped for gas and Doyle scarcely noticed, but he spoke again when they were on their way. "Got some real obvious stuff here," he noted.
"No doubt. Skip those. Go on to the good bits," Bodie instructed.
"Useful items designed just for you!" Doyle said with an air of discovery as he turned the page. "Little pictures of various positions. We could copy 'em off for you--tape 'em up next to your bed. For reference," he explained solemnly.
"Not necessary," Bodie assured him, "but you do as you like," he said kindly, somehow managing to imply that Doyle found comfort in meaningless rituals.
"Always do," Doyle replied, ignoring the insult with the ease of practice. "Want to hear about 'Male Disorders of Intercourse'?" He shook his head as he read, "Here's something called 'Ejaculatory Incompetence'--heard of it?"
"Never suffered from anything like that," Bodie said firmly.
"Nor I," Doyle claimed loftily before lapsing into silence again. This time it lasted quite a long time.
Ten miles later Bodie asked, "Run out of material?"
"No," Doyle said, absently, his attention glued to the book.
Bodie, slowing down now that they had left the main road, reached over and pulled the book down far enough to see the chapter heading. "Homosexuality fascinate you?" he asked, genuinely curious.
"Course not," Doyle said half-heartedly, and he was so absorbed he didn't see Bodie's grin.
"Read it aloud anyway," Bodie demanded, ignoring the tightening in his belly. It fascinated him. Always had.
Doyle obeyed. "Here. 11% of all men have experienced fellatio, it says. While nearly 30% have received it. They must mean 11% do it to the 30%? Also 'these figures are probably underestimates' it says."
"Have you ever?" Bodie dared to ask.
"What?" Doyle said, eyes on the page.
Bodie was quite aware that Doyle's inattention was feigned. "You know what," he challenged.
Doyle shrugged, then twisted away as Bodie poked him hard in the ribs. "No," he said, still not looking at his partner. "You?"
Bodie dared. "Yeah."
"Are you asking me if I'm one of the 11%--and 30%?" Bodie asked.
"Are you?" Doyle wanted to know.
"Yes." Bodie kept his eyes on the road, even though he very much would have liked to see Doyle's face as he heard this particular bit of news.
"Africa," Doyle guessed.
"Africa," Bodie agreed.
Doyle swallowed. "Well, it says here that if the genitals are kept clean there are fewer and less harmful bacteria there than there are in the mouth. And, 'no harmful effects have ever been known from swallowing semen, except in the very rare case of someone with a skin allergy to it'--so...." Doyle trailed off.
"Nice to know--twenty years later," Bodie said with a chuckle.
Doyle did some fast math and decided Bodie was exaggerating. Hoped he was exaggerating. "Says here one third of all men have had at least one homosexual experience to orgasm. And it goes on, 'there is more homosexuality in all male societies such as the armed forces', which I've heard is true. True?" he asked Bodie, finally turning to look at him.
"True," Bodie replied, but he did not elaborate.
Doyle did not push or question further, but began to read again. "Gays use the same techniques as heterosexuals," he reported. "The main techniques they list are masturbation, fellatio, anal intercourse and interfemoral intercourse. That's 'the penis is stimulated by being moved between the partner's thighs'. Never knew there was a name for that."
"Lots you don't know, sunshine," Bodie reminded him with mock kindness.
"Obviously. Listen to this bit. 'Two rings of muscles called sphincters, are sited at the opening to and inside the anus. They are normally closed to prevent waste products coming out involuntarily. The outer sphincter can be relaxed or tensed at will, but the inner is less under conscious control.' I didn't know there were two. Thought it was all one."
Bodie failed to confess his equal ignorance and instead put on his smirk and repeated, "Lots you don't know."
"'Most non-homosexuals also think that homosexual partners take on exclusively passive (female) or active (male) roles. In reality, the roles often alternate.' Then," he explained, "it goes on here about the erotic sensitivity of the anus and tells about the prostate gland. 'Stimulation of the prostate seems to produce an especially prolonged and intense orgasm.'" Wetting his lips, he continued, "'During orgasm, the anus automatically tightens and puts pressure on the penis inside it, so intensifying the pleasure of the active partner.'" Turning the page he went on, "'Human societies have shown a tremendous range of attitudes to homosexuality.... Many countries have laws permitting homosexuality in private between consenting adults.' France introduced theirs in 1810. Don't go to Spain, though. There they jail you on a mere suspicion." Doyle turned another page with a hand which trembled very slightly. Bodie noticed, but closed his mouth very firmly on the words which tried to come out.
"Cures for homosexuality," Doyle announced. "'Male hormones, far from making male homosexuals more "Masculine", simply increases the desire for whatever sexual activity they are used to.'!" Doyle gave a startled laugh and continued reading. "'And female hormones reduce all sexual desire in men, eventually produces impotence, and has such side effects as breast development.' Besides, they think it unethical, giving hormones to otherwise healthy people."
Bodie made another turn and stopped the car.
"Why're we stopping?" Doyle said, letting the book drop into his lap as he looked around.
"Because," Bodie explained, as if to a very young or very simple person, "we are here." He was climbing out of the car as he spoke, and then studying the area. Trees, house, open field on the left. The cottage was small, a post-war boxlike affair in a charming setting. It was painted yellow and seemed to glow cheerfully in the early afternoon light. There were pink roses on each side of the door and shade trees along the brick walk which led to the back.
Stretching, Doyle tossed the book onto the seat as he climbed out himself and ambled up to the door, simultaneously fishing in his pocket for the key. He opened the door with the caution which was second nature to them both, while Bodie circled the house, checking the garden and the back entrance before following Doyle inside.
Dust and a quick mouse inhabited the front room, which was furnished very sparsely, as if there had once been much more and all the good pieces had been taken away. The panelling was good but the green carpet was faded. Motes of dust danced in the sunlight which managed to get through the limp lace curtains.
"A palace," Bodie commented as he came up behind Doyle.
"Almost. Got a picture on the wall an' everything," Doyle pointed out.
"But no electricity," Bodie complained with an experimental flip of the switch. It wasn't necessary at the moment, for every room had at least one window, he noted as he and Doyle checked each of the four big rooms. Nice big windows. Hell to heat and a security nightmare, but pleasant, at least in the summer. The house had no hidden secrets, no cellar, no attic. There was running water, but it wasn't hot. There was a bed with a firm mattress, but no sheets or blankets.
"He wants us to spend the night?" Doyle said doubtfully as he bounced once on the bed.
"I'm sure He," there was no doubt about whom Bodie spoke, "wouldn't mind if we got a room in the nearest village or town--provided we paid for it, of course."
"Of course. Glad we brought our sleeping bags. Have to go shopping anyway. There are vital supplies missing in the bath," he waved his hand in that general direction.
"What in particular?" Bodie asked.
"Everything," Doyle replied, sadly.
"Let's get started on the job now and go after them later," Bodie suggested. He didn't fancy counting the spoons by moonlight, and with any luck they could be finished by suppertime.
"Wouldn't you rather get something to eat?" asked Doyle, who had missed a meal somehow.
"No," replied Bodie, who hadn't.
"Slimming, are you? Good idea," Doyle said in revenge. But he was soon busy with the inventory forms and forgot his hunger. Three hours later, with the inside work all done, he made his suggestion again, and this time Bodie eagerly agreed with the suggestion.
"Nice to know your head is good for more than growing hair," he said, reaching out to give Doyle's curls a tweak. After checking the doors and windows he threw the car keys to Doyle, saying, "Your turn to drive."
"You just want a chance to look at me book," Doyle decided, managing to imply that Bodie was a pit of prurient and unnatural interests.
"Moi?" Bodie raised his eyebrow expressively. He had, in fact, forgotten all about it until this moment, but having been reminded, he scooped it up as he slid into the car. He flipped through it as Doyle started the car and turned it towards the town. In seconds he was absorbed.
"I know what you've found!" Doyle chanted with the glee of a six-year-old determined to 'tell'.
Bodie turned the book sideways. "Odd way to show the positions. Bloody chart looks like a race track." He turned it yet another way, adding, "They do seem to be all here," he admitted, admiringly.
Doyle glanced at the page. "Almost," he said gently, with the air of a man who knows more but has decided not to tell you in order to protect your feelings.
"Silly, though. Who has one of these odd platforms around the house?" Bodie complained.
"Improvise, m'lad! Have you no imagination?" Doyle grinned at his partner in that naughty-elf way which never failed to bring a grin to Bodie's own lips.
"Mind your driving," Bodie commanded automatically, and then defended himself. "I've got a very good imagination, thank you."
"So you've told me before," Doyle said, adding, "Steak?" He pointed towards the restaurant as they passed it.
"Keep goin'," Bodie said, tossing the book down now that there was a major decision to be made. Twenty minutes later, after passing dozens of eating establishments, they finally settled on a small pub which promptly justified the extra time they had been forced to take to find it. The food was good, the beer even better, and they lingered a full two hours before forcing themselves to leave. At that point Doyle remembered the missing vital necessities and they drove for another half an hour before finding a place still open which sold such things. Doyle emerged complaining of the high prices and got no sympathy from Bodie, who having manoeuvred Doyle into being the one who paid for the supplies, felt no pain in the wallet at all.
It was well after ten when they finally arrived at the cottage again. In the dark they unloaded their bags and sleeping bags and with the aid of Bodie's military-issue torch they found their way in. There was a moon and the windows were large and so it was relatively easy for them to get ready for bed. They spread their sleeping bags side by side on the bed and encountered their first major difficulty. The ancient mattress sagged to the middle, leaving neither of them with a comfortable spot, and at every movement the equally ancient springs creaked and pinged terribly. After only ten minutes Doyle's irritation had risen to the point where he demanded Bodie get out of bed. When they had both vacated it, Doyle had pulled the mattress onto the floor. This turned out to be firm and extremely comfortable and they had both settled down again when Doyle gave Bodie a nudge.
Bodie grunted and acknowledged.
"Bodie?" Doyle repeated, his voice serious and quiet.
This time Bodie's reply was an equally lucid and quiet, "What?" But he knew. Doyle had something on his mind. It was about sex, that Bodie knew. All that reading about sex today, especially the bits about homosexuality, and then moving the mattress onto the floor. They could've slept on it--except for any activity other than sleep the springs wouldn't have lasted.
Bodie's gut tightened in anticipation. It was here. The night he had fantasized about for years, the night Ray Doyle delivered himself into Bodie's yearning hands. Bodie had wanted this from the first, from the moment he had seen Doyle. He had come up behind the stranger, admiring the tight little bum packaged in modest black, and then the man had turned around, laughing, his sensual face, surrounded by that incredible mop of curls, causing an instant reaction in Bodie. A reaction he had instantly buried, but one which returned the next time he had seen the man, a week later. On that occasion, Cowley had made them partners. No probation period or suggestion that if it did not work out they'd be switched. Just Mr Cowley announcing in his dry voice, "Doyle, here, is your partner." Period. All yours, Bodie.
But not really. The irritating little sod, clever, cocky, argumentative, was straight. And good. Damned good. Too good to have to give up just because one's body suspected there was one more thing Doyle might be good at. And Bodie had always been aware that it was not Doyle's body which would need convincing. Doyle was sensual, and Bodie knew himself to be a good lover--he'd been told so by men and women both. No, it had been Doyle's mind which had kept Bodie's hands off his partner and now, finally, it seemed he'd have his chance to....
To what? What was Doyle considering, one night of experimentation or a short-but-educational affair? Or something more?
"Bodie, about what we talked about, this afternoon," Doyle began. "In the book, y'know. About...uh, homosexuality?"
"Yeah?" Let him make all the running, Bodie thought. Control.
"D'you remember the part that said one third of all men have experienced an orgasm with another man?"
"I never have," Doyle confessed, and for some reason he sounded half-ashamed of it. He was on his back, not looking towards Bodie but staring up into the gloom where the ceiling ought to be.
"Not alone then, are you?" Bodie managed to say calmly. "Must be two thirds who haven't, if the one third number is right."
"Yes, but it said it was normal for kids to fool around with it, that most did, but I didn't. I was afraid to," Doyle confessed.
"Afraid?" Bodie repeated. Of what? Ray Doyle, afraid. Odd thought. Scared perhaps, for a few minutes once and awhile on the job, as anyone with any brains would be. But scared was different from afraid.
"I wasn't big when I was a kid. Cute, I heard them call me once. Big eyes. Those were the good names. The ones the family used. The fellas started in on things like 'faggot' and 'nancy boy' the very first day I went to school. I learned to get 'em for it, with words, and fists. I learned how to be nastier than they were and made 'em leave me alone. But I never...y'know, I...I was afraid if I tried it once, then what they said would be true."
"So you never did," Bodie stated, encouraging him.
"But you wanted to?" Bodie pressed.
"I thought about it. Wondered how it would be. I got offers you know. Especially in art school."
"Bet you did," Bodie agreed dryly.
"Couldn't help but think about it, could I?" Doyle said defensively.
"Course not," Bodie soothed. "But you always said no?"
"I always said no," Doyle repeated, an odd note in his voice.
"And?" Bodie prodded. Doyle was silent except for a slight sound which may have been a deep breath or a fast swallow. "Come on, Doyle," Bodie insisted. "Say it."
"You know what I want to ask!" Doyle snapped, his voice tight, impatient.
"Not entirely, no. You have to tell me, Ray," Bodie insisted, and there was a hard note in his voice that assured that he would not give in.
"I want you to show me," Doyle said, implying that what he wanted was obvious and Bodie was being deliberately obtuse.
"What?" Bodie was quiet--and deliberately obtuse.
Bodie went cold at the very thought. Everything? Oh, no, sweetheart, you don't know the meaning of the word. Out loud he said, "Think you're ready for 'everything'? From me?"
"Course from you. You don't think I'd ask anyone else, do you?" Doyle asked half shocked at the idea.
"Everything?" Bodie said it low, almost ominously, as he came up onto his elbow to stare over at his partner. In the faint moonlight he could see part of an expression on Doyle's face, and Doyle looked neither wildly excited or in any way eager. He looked, in fact, pale and quite vulnerable as he turned to face Bodie.
"Everything," came Doyle's whisper-promise.
Bodie flipped back the sleeping bag--it had been too warm to zip it--and drew a leg out. Like Doyle, he was wearing the bottom half of a pair of pyjamas. He preferred to sleep nude at home when he was not on call, but away from home, in an unknown place, it was safer to wear something. It was not for modesty's sake, although dashing about the countryside starkers was a very bad idea. It was where the men with guns aimed when you were nude. Not at the head, but three feet lower.
"Unzip your bag," Bodie commanded. Awkwardly working together, they arranged the bed to Bodie's specifications, one bag flat, the other folded up. A soft place for your deflowering, was Bodie's thought. But he doubted they'd get that far. His partner might come to his senses--or might not. In either case Bodie was not sure he had the control. Not tonight. Not with his balls practically in knots already.
"Bodie?" Voice from the darkness; Doyle was calling, and Bodie shivered.
"Come here," Bodie told him, kneeling, waiting.
The space between the two walls and the bed was like an animal's den--they were almost on the floor. The window above their heads let in puffs of cool night air and the summer sounds of insects and a little light--but not as much as either man would have liked. Still, Bodie could feel it when Doyle shifted up, knew each movement Doyle made as he scooted over until he was directly in front of Bodie. The scent of Raymond Doyle on the night wind--Bodie shivered again, knowing he would remember it forever.
"Kiss me." Bodie's order was made in a hot whisper, while he held himself absolutely still. Doyle's back was to the window, and perhaps he could see more clearly than Bodie, for he leaned forward and unerringly placed his lips over Bodie's.
Bodie gave way, yielding, falling back, giving Doyle the illusion of aggression and causing the smaller man to react instinctively and press the advantage. Opening his mouth as he sank to the mattress, Bodie encouraged Doyle's instincts by taking the passive role and allowing Doyle the pattern of sexuality he was most familiar with. The tongue Doyle bragged on slipped into Bodie's mouth and Bodie did not hesitate to suck at it as he brought his hands up to Doyle's shoulders and then to his back, holding them together.
Doyle was the one to break away first, his head dropping so that he rested, breathing heavily, on Bodie's broad, naked shoulder.
"More?" Bodie turned his head to whisper it into Doyle's sweat-damp curls.
"Yes." The reply was a movement of lip against skin and the sensation caused Bodie to wrap his arms around the other man and pull him closer. His big hands moved, heavy and needing, over Doyle's shoulder, side, hip and flank. And like an echo, light, but in no way hesitant, Doyle's warm fingers copied the movements until Bodie couldn't endure any more and his hand caught hold of Doyle's. Jerking it as he rolled, he awkwardly ended up on his back with Doyle's warm weight on top of him.
Bodie did nothing else, only closed his eyes. His arms very loosely held Doyle in place. Eventually, Doyle sat up, breaking Bodie's grip, and Bodie's hands came down to rest on Doyle's hairy thighs as the other man straddled him, sitting lightly on his stomach. Behind him, Doyle could sense his partner's erection, tall and alone.
"Bodie?" Doyle whispered uncertainly, one hand going to stroke, very lightly, the bulging curve of his friend's superbly muscled shoulder.
"Second chance at childhood, mate! Have fun exploring!" Bodie's eyes, opened halfway, gave a lazy ease to the offer, but there was a man's banked passion in his voice.
"Never went exploring alone. Mum warned against it--could get lost in the wilderness. I'd better take a native guide. Any recommendations?" Doyle asked whimsically.
"Several," Bodie said, chuckling. He reached a hand up behind Doyle's neck and with gentle pressure urged the curly head down to his. His lips tasted eyebrows, and the bridge of Doyle's nose, before he reached the soft red mouth.
"You taste different," Doyle commented some minutes later as he strove to get his breath back.
"Than what?" Equally breathless, Bodie urged Doyle to ease down on top of him again. His cock jerked as the flesh pressed against it.
"'n anyone," Doyle stated firmly.
"Good? Or bad?" Bodie asked, wiggling to adjust their positions until his cock nestled up against Doyle's equally stiff one.
"Good. Definitely good," Doyle managed to answer hoarsely, but it wasn't clear if he was referring to the taste of Bodie any more, for Bodie's hand was doing delightful things to Doyle's backside. He wasn't kissing now, his head was buried in Bodie's neck. Doyle's arms clutched Bodie's head and shoulders as his hips worked against Bodie's sweat-slick groin.
Bodie's hands came tight around Doyle's exquisitely small rear end and held him still. "Ray?"
"Wha'?" Doyle wondered what he had done wrong. He's been reacting rather selfishly, perhaps, not thinking enough of Bodie's pleasure, but he'd been under the impression that Bodie wanted it that way, had offered him carte blanche.
"Is this what you want?" Bodie asked softly.
"What I want?" Doyle's reply was confused, his mind passion-fogged enough to make thinking difficult.
"This. You know, whatever the book called this. Inter-something."
"Interfemoral. Which we are not exactly doing. It said, 'between the thighs' remember."
Bodie didn't care what it was called. "I mean, d'you want something else? My mouth?" Then, more quietly, "My...arse?"
Doyle went absolutely still, except for the hard twitch his cock made against Bodie's. When he spoke, his voice was not steady. "I...want...."
"What do you want?" Bodie encouraged.
Bodie's hand rubbed Doyle's neck soothingly, then slid down to his buttocks again, wordlessly encouraging his friend to continue.
"I want...a lot. Have I got all night?"
At least. Whatever you want, Bodie thought. What he said was, "Yes. You've got all night."
"All right, then," Doyle said quietly, and got to work. It was different now. He was energetic, but also more generous, his mouth finding Bodie's for a tongue-sucking kiss. Bodie's enthusiasm grew as well, the excitement thudding through him and causing him to arch into Doyle's pressing weight. It had been years since his last man, but his body hadn't forgotten. Bits of memory of other nights spent in tangled passion spun through his brain. Cody, who had been his first man, and, too, Cody's sister Belle. And he remembered Big David stretching his mouth wide while someone--he had never known who--fucked him hard behind. It had been a show put on for 'The General' who had loved so much to watch, and while he watched....
He wrenched his mind away. All those were dead, or at least gone, and they weren't important now. He had a man to enjoy again, and not just any man, but the sweet and sour little sod who was his partner, and he'd yearned for this man from the first moment he'd seen him.
Doyle was panting now. The kiss was broken but his lips were only an inch away, and his head was descending again when rapture came upon him suddenly. He threw his head back as he spurted. Bodie couldn't help it, his mouth followed and fastened on the stretched neck even as his hands grabbed hard, holding Ray until he collapsed, panting even more than before, onto Bodie.
Smoothly, Bodie rolled over on top of Doyle, who was face down, sprawled limply. Bodie's hard cock ached to penetrate but Bodie did not dare, not yet, so instead he pushed himself between Doyle's sweat-damp buttocks. Only a few thrusts and he was shooting. He drew back so that the pearly drops spattered Doyle's back and arse liberally--and more than a damn teaspoons-worth, too, he thought as he reached to rub them into Doyle's skin, massaging himself into his love. Doyle turned over then, so that Bodie found himself rubbing Doyle's chest and belly, and that was okay with him, too. Carefully he lowered himself to Doyle's side, his fingers trailing lightly through the thin-wire curls on Doyle's torso.
Eventually, Doyle spoke. "Bodie?"
Doyle's sigh was part contentment, part exhaustion.
Bodie managed a less than nice chuckle, very self-satisfied.
Doyle weakly punched at him. "'n we have the rest of the night and the morning?" he asked. At the moment his mind didn't want to think about 'again'.
"Morning?" Bodie repeated.
"I still want to try 'everything'. I'm just not up to it tonight."
"Whenever you want," Bodie said, torn between his own tiredness and a curious disappointed hope. Doyle wanted more and maybe....
Disgustingly cheerful bird chatter woke Bodie at dawn--that and another sound he could not at first recognize. He was on a mattress on the floor, in a cottage, with Ray Doyle and last night...last night! He opened his eyes. Doyle was nude, sprawled out on his stomach and a rapidly-becoming-familiar book was open in front of him. As Bodie lifted his head, Doyle leaned over and kissed him on the forehead.
"Morning, lover," Doyle said.
Bodie said nothing, his reactions all ricocheting around inside his chest, his head, his gut. Lover? Lover was too much to hope for, and in fact, it hurt to have Doyle say it so casually. Bodie managed a faint smile as he sat up.
"Reading?" Bodie said. "Light's not very good yet, is it? You'll go blind."
"Nah, that's from something else," Doyle assured him. "I've finished it anyway," he assured Bodie, closing the book. "The last section is about women. 'A Non-Owner's Manual' and I knew most of that."
"Oh?" Bodie managed to express his doubt automatically as he studied his friend. Doyle was not looking at him but at the cover of the book.
"Bodie?" In a different voice, quite serious, Doyle said his partner's name softly as he reached out to touch Bodie's shoulder. "Bodie, I'm ready."
"For what?" Bodie asked lightly, as if he did not know.
"For the rest of everything," he said simply, smiling, and he kissed Bodie.
Bodie was not, but how could he explain the kind of confusion which was trapped inside him along with all the emotions which rose to the surface at the touch of his friend's lips. Fear and anticipation, reluctance and passion, and a strangely pure love roiled inside him. It was in his kiss, though, and he knew his friend sensed it, for Doyle broke away and stared at Bodie quizzically.
"You don't know, do you?" Doyle asked just as Bodie opened his mouth to speak.
"What don't I know?" Bodie said, letting his confusion show.
"You don't quite know everything. Why'd you say you did?" Doyle's hand closed on Bodie's shoulder, holding him in place so Doyle could look into his face.
"I don't?" Bodie let his amusement show through his confusion. "Ray, I know everything--except how this will affect our partnership. I don't want to fuck that up," he declared intensely.
"Won't," Doyle said, and smiled, and lunged at Bodie.
Bodie's body was hot the second Doyle's naked chest touched his. That scratchy-soft tangle of black hairs caught at his skin, his nipples and he was instantly hard all over. Holding on to each other they moved, chest against chest, cock into groin, thigh to thigh and face to face. Doyle's full, sweet lips took Bodie's, capturing them, loving them until Bodie opened his mouth and let Doyle in. The wet-arrow tongue invaded aggressively and he allowed it a moment's exploration before his tongue actively came forward to court it.
Kisses. More kisses, making him ache. Bodie collapsed, gulping for air but still wanting more of them. He was lifting his head to go after them when he felt Doyle fumbling with his hand, pressing something into it. Automatically his fingers closed around it and brought it up to eye level. Blue tube...he jerked his eyes immediately to Doyle's face, searching it for confirmation.
"Everything," Doyle reminded him.
"Where the hell'd you get this?" Bodie asked, with anger he didn't feel. It was unexpected, he felt rushed. And excited to his core.
"Last night. When we got the other things. Overcharged on this as well," Doyle noted, and added, "Didn't mind. I wanted it. Want you."
Bodie nodded, accepting that his inexperienced partner had nevertheless a very clear idea of what he wanted. How much? Everything. When? Now.
One-handed, Bodie twisted off the cap. With eyes which never left Doyle he squeezed out a generous portion onto his palm and made a fist to spread it over his fingers. Then, slowly, he opened his hand, reached out, and closed his fingers over Doyle's large, very erect cock. It was flushed with red blood, becoming even darker at the tip as he moved his hand over it, preparing it. He fuelled his own lust as well as Doyle's; he could sense the place inside himself where he wanted Doyle to be and his muscles clenched spasmodically as he yearned to feel the bulk there. Quickly he rolled away onto his hands and knees, knowing Doyle could figure out the next part without instruction. Half annoyed when Doyle touched his anus so tentatively, he forced himself to be still as his friend cautiously explored. All Bodie wanted was that cock rammed into him.
Only seconds later, though, Bodie felt the blunt nudge he waited for and he pushed into it the moment he was sure of it. Ray's! Ray Doyle's cock and it was his at last and it seemed gigantic as it first slid into him. It had been years since he had had a man. On the second stroke it was merely huge and by the third large, but perfect. Perfect thrust in and perfect drawn out, over and over and over while Bodie buried his head in his hands as if to hide his pleasure-twisted face. He did not touch himself, for he wouldn't have lasted a second if he did. This way prolonged it. Half torture, half heaven, but he treasured every touch because each stroke reminded him of precisely who it was who pleasured him so. Ray Doyle. The heart of secret dreams. Sunshine...so warm...Ray was moving faster now. Soon...now! Hard! Ray was clutching Bodie's back and shoulders and Bodie braced and clenched at just the right moment to give his friend the maximum joy.
Ray gave a little cry as the last of his sperm emptied into Bodie but he miscalculated as he finished, half sliding, half falling along the curve of Bodie's body so that he ended up on his back beside Bodie. From this angle he could see Bodie's cock. Curved, hard, swollen, it was dripping at the slit, and it was so much the embodiment of need that he reached out instinctively.
One touch was all it took and Doyle stared, entranced, watching it jerk and spill white rain. He found himself counting the pulses, part of him remembering that the book had said something about it, part of him disregarding the thought in the wonder of Bodie's masculinity. Bodie eased down carefully, and as he did Doyle scooted closer so that they were pressed together, arms around each other.
Bodie groaned, half amazed, half enchanted, looking into Doyle's eyes only inches away. An entire conversation flashed between them without a word being spoken and then Bodie laughed almost hysterically and gripped Doyle even tighter.
They settled together, resting, while the sun brightened the faded wallpaper. "Got a job to do," Bodie remembered eventually.
"The map. Outside," Doyle agreed with a sigh, but he didn't stir.
"Had worse assignments," Bodie said. Walking behind Doyle had always been a pleasure, but now? "We'd better get up. I have a feeling it could take awhile to finish," Bodie said. He grinned, turned his head, kissed his partner on the cheek as if it were the most natural thing to do and said, "Breakfast first, of course."
"Nothing in. Wished we'd picked up something last night," Doyle said with regret.
"What you picked up last night," Bodie began humorously, but affection overtook him and he kissed Doyle again instead before forcing himself up.
Doyle remained where he was, mischief glinting out of his green eyes as he admired the view from this angle. "Seem a bit worn out," he stated, an eye on Bodie to see his reaction. "Need a...." He pretended to think deeply. "Kip!" he said, with an air of discovery. "You map--I'll nap!"
"Not bloody likely," Bodie scoffed, and offered his hand. Doyle put his into it and allowed himself to be hauled to his feet. He had little to say as they dressed and then drove off in search of eggs and bacon. Even as they ate, conversation was sparse, limited, in fact, to Doyle's comment that anyone who put mustard on their eggs was hopeless. Once in the car again, however, Doyle spoke.
"D'you know what I'm going to do with the book?" He amended, "After I really read it through again?"
"Give it to Cowley. He owns us anyway. Might as well have the manual," Bodie decided.
Doyle looked extremely thoughtful as he seriously considered it, and then he rather reluctantly shook his head. "Nah. But close. I'm gonna leave it in the rest room. See what happens."
"Maybe nothing," Bodie warned him.
"Maybe quite a bit. Look what it did for me. Us."
"Us," Bodie nodded, liking the sound of the word and stealing a glance from the road to see his friend's expression. It was suitably pleased as well at the thought of 'us'.
"Okay," Bodie agreed. "The mob'll enjoy it. If they can keep a straight face every time the Cow says 'Do this one by the book'."
Doyle chuckled in a cheerfully nasty way and smiled in anticipation. "Got a lot to look forward to, haven't we?" He stretched, adding, "Nice morning in the country. Easy work. We can have a nice dinner somewhere...and then guess what I have planned for tonight?"
"What?" Bodie asked, anticipation, as well as a little fear fluttering in his belly. Pub? Birds? Films? Did he want what Bodie wanted?
"Everything," Doyle said with a meaningful smirk.
Suddenly, Bodie's fear was replaced by a soaring joy, which he carefully kept off his face. "Think we can manage that," he agreed mildly.
"Everything. 'Everything' is an absolute," Doyle observed with equal casualness. Then he turned to look at Bodie. "So is 'always'."
This time Bodie couldn't keep the grin off his face, knowing what his partner...no, his lover, was trying to tell him. "Always," he agreed.
-- THE END --
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Man's Body: An Owner's Manual, edited by David Heidenstam, c. 1976 Diagram Visual Information, Ltd., Paddington Press Ltd., Distributed in the US by Grosset and Dunlap
Given the copyright and that it was first published in England--Bodie and Doyle might have, indeed, perhaps come upon a copy.