Two days after Doyle's birthday, Bodie nearly got himself killed, although the two facts were not related.

He and Doyle were still running high on adrenalin after the interrogations of the two men who had survived the gun battle across a derelict area of dockland. It showed in their too clipped voices, and glittering eyes, excess energy virtually crackling around them as Cowley debriefed them.

It took Cowley some time to recognise the anger Doyle was hiding so well; accustomed to the younger man's volatile temper, he made no reference to it, attributing it to some trivial matter between the partners that would be forgotten when their adrenalin-rush dissipated. Bodie's awareness of Doyle's mood showed itself in his caution when he had cause to speak to his partner. For all the attention Doyle paid him Bodie might have been invisible.

"You have three days leave. Make good use of them," said Cowley as he finally dismissed them.

Fierce green eyes seared into him. "We will," said Doyle. His tone insolent, his raking gaze moved to Bodie, who looked away. Doyle got to his feet.

"Thank you, sir," said Bodie.

But it was Doyle who led the way out of Cowley's office, without pausing to check if he was being followed: the alternative didn't seem to have occurred to him.

Feeling as if he was being drawn along on an invisible leash, there was a strange fluttering in Bodie's belly. He stared uneasily at his partner over the roof of his Capri.

"We'll use mine," Doyle told him, in a tone that brooked no argument.

Relocking his car, Bodie moved to the white Escort. He was only half in when the car took off, the slamming door barely missing his elbow. "Bloody hell, Ray. Where's the fire he demanded, grabbing the roof-strap as Doyle took a corner too fast.

"Your place. It's nearer. I want a word with you."

After a glance at Doyle's profile Bodie swallowed his flippant comment. "OK," he said peaceably. The tension between them thick enough to cut with a knife, he concentrated on the passing scenery, wary of expecting anything but another vitriolic diatrabe about his performance earlier.

Doyle got them to Bodie's flat in under ten minutes. They hadn't spoken again.

When Bodie locked his front door behind them and turned, Doyle made a soft sound deep in his throat. "You were so fucking stupid I could kill you myself." His voice rasped, shaking with an intensity of emotion.

His eyes dark in a pale face, Bodie nodded, knowing he had no defence to the charge. His own fear had come when it was over but he could still see it in the back of Doyle's eyes. As was so often the case, Doyle used one emotion to cover another: anger was easier than admitting to more complicated emotions.

"I want you. Now. Here. Strip," said Doyle. Pelvis canted, a booted sole against the wall, he waited with a poorly concealed impatience and no doubt that he would be obeyed.

Mindless, held by that invisible leash, it didn't occur to Bodie to demur. Undressing, he let his clothing fall around him.

"Face the wall," Doyle said, when Bodie straightened from pulling off his socks. "Arms outstretched, feet wide apart."

One heated cheek to the cool plaster, Bodie's outspread fingers twitched. He longed to turn, to speak but the quality in the silence between them made that impossible. He began to shiver, sweat prickling him despite the cool air, both afraid and aroused because he could sense Doyle's bodyheat at his back. He had seen the other man in many moods, but never like this.

"I saved your life today." Unbuckling his worn leather belt, Doyle fastened it around Bodie's throat like a collar and holding it in place with a knotted fist.

"Yes," agreed Bodie. The leather was still warm from Doyle's body; the pressure made swallowing uncomfortable, its threat lifting his cock. Doyle leant against him, his weight pressing Bodie at an uncomfortable angle into the wall; gasping, he inhaled the astringency of Doyle's sweat. He could feel the zip of Doyle's leather jacket patterning his skin, the bulk of Doyle's arousal rigid between his buttocks; his own cock continued to fill.

"That means you belong to me." His voice low, Doyle's rapid breathing tickled Bodie's ear.

Bodie's eyes drooped to as close, that flat, possessive statement penetrating every defence. "Yes," he said, wishing he could see Doyle's expression. The pressure around his throat increased slightly and a ripple of pleasure shook him.

Feeling the ripple of dark excitement which made Bodie quiver, Doyle's teeth closed over salty flesh, ungentle of intent. His denim-encased cock throbbed. "Then I'll have you." Urgent with need, he unzipped, freeing himself. The head of his cock stabbing below and above Bodie's anus, he cruelly parted Bodie's buttocks.

His flat-palmed hands using the wall for leverage, Bodie pushed back. "Do it." His splayed legs shook when the snub head of Doyle's cock opened him.

It wasn't an easy coupling: Bodie was tight and dry, Doyle clumsy with urgency. But when an involuntary sound of discomfort escaped Bodie, a grimy hand snaked round, all other movement stilling. Muttering obscenities under his breath, Doyle worked Bodie's prick, his face against Bodie's neck, drinking in his scent.

Every sense alive, blood thundering in his ears, Bodie pushed back, driving Doyle deeper into his body and wrenching a growl from the mouth fastened over his flesh. "Do it, do it, do it," he chanted, offering himself up. His eyes wide, sweat beaded his snarling mouth.

Discomfort sharpened as Doyle drove up into him. Then it was lost under an even more intense pleasure. It was wild and fast, Doyle slamming into him with ever shortening strokes, but before Doyle was done Bodie's semen pulsed from him to trickle down the wall.

Strong hands held Bodie fast when his knees began to buckle. "No, stay like that," commanded Doyle thickly. "I haven't finished with you yet. I won't ever be finished with you." It had the sound of a threat and a promise. But he, too, was shaking and inevitably they slid to the ground, Doyle supporting Bodie against him, holding onto him as if onto a lifeline, as he rocked them both.

His eyes closing, the sweat drying on his body, Bodie could feel Doyle's heart echoing against his shoulder blade and the bruising grip of his hands.

"Ray... Fumbling, Bodie removed the slack loop of leather from his neck, holding it between his hands for a moment before he let it drop to the floor.

"I'm here," confirmed Doyle unnecessarily, his arms tightening painfully around Bodie before his grip slackened. A shuddering sigh wafted down Bodie's ear. "Christ, I'm tired."

Bodie briefly covered the hand curved across his rib-cage. "From a quick knee-trembler he joked, trying to lighten the emotion-charged atmosphere. When he stirred, Doyle released him instantly, pulling his legs back to hug his naked knees to his chest. His jeans were still tangled round his ankles.

Shifting, Bodie paused in the act of getting to his feet, arrested by Doyle's appearance: he looked dreadful. It wasn't the fact that no designer would have touched his stubble, or the streaks of grime he had acquired during their chase, but the fact he seemed to have aged ten years in as many minutes. There was blood on his neck and shirt collar from the brick shards sent flying by a ricochet. Bodie touched one of the angry-looking marks with a careful fingertip. Doyle jumped and pulled away.

"You should get that seen to," Bodie pointed out.

"Only if you agree to a full lobotomy. You dumb fuck. Christ..." Doyle thrust a shaking fist into his other hand and buried his face his knees.

Watching that untypical behaviour, Bodie's expression was intent, like a cat scenting its prey, but his voice was calm when he said, "I know it was stupid. I stopped watching where I was putting my feet and tripped. It was a one-off. Let it go."

Gaining no response, he laboriously got to his feet, one hand in the small of his back as he stretched. "Come on, mate. It's bloody chilly out here. I'll get the heating on. We could both do with a shower and some food."

"You go on ahead, I'll be along in a minute. Go on," added Doyle sharply, but his glare looked out of focus, his features somehow blurred.

"OK," said Bodie quietly, before he padded away down the long, narrow hall.

When he was finally alone Doyle slumped against the wall, his eyes scrunching to a close before he regained control. "Fuck it," he muttered bitterly, staring at his hands, which had begun to shake again.

Pulling on a tatty old bathrobe after his shower, Bodie poured out two mugs of coffee and was topping them up with a healthy quantity of scotch when Doyle came into the kitchen, wearing Bodie's other bathrobe.

"Drink this and eat that," commanded Bodie, shoving a plate in one of Doyle's hands and the mug in the other before collecting his own and heading for the living-room.

The only sound was the clink of forks against china; even Bodie could not have said what he swallowed, but it was hot and nourishing and he felt better after it. The meal seemed to have the same effect on Doyle. Setting his plate down, Doyle picked up his mug and sat back in his chair, sipping the still warm drink, his gaze settling everywhere but on Bodie.

"I've blown it, haven't I Doyle's voice sounded harsher than usual, and somehow defeated.

"I'd say so," Bodie agreed.

Doyle frowned, as if he had been expecting some other reaction. "So what now? It's a bit late in the day for me to pretend I can stick to your non-involvement rule."

"Why should you, I never bothered with it," said Bodie, his casual tone denying the hope which continued to grow in him.

Stark shock on his face, Doyle's hand tilted, dribbling the dregs of his coffee into his lap. It was a moment before he noticed. "You what?"

"Think about it. Think about the last few months."

"But you said...insisted... You set bloody rules!"

While Bodie's smile was wry, his eyes were warm with affection. "I said what you needed to hear at the time. If I'd said what I wanted to, you'd've run a mile. You were scared to death by the idea of getting in too deep."

"You mean you - The question cut short, Doyle's hands parted in an oddly helpless gesture.

"We were 'involved' long before we started fucking," said Bodie bluntly.

"I didn't know you felt...that I felt...I didn't see it," Doyle muttered in blank disbelief. He ran a hand back through hair still damp from his shower, staring at something only he could see. "I must be simple or something because I... I took us for granted."

"I know," acknowledged Bodie, patient with him because he could see Doyle was genuinely shaken.

Doyle's eyes flickered. "You don't mind?"

While he tried to stop or even to control it, Bodie began to giggle. Probably hysteria, recognised a detached corner of his mind.

"That's one way of putting it," he managed finally.

Still staring at him, understanding flooded Doyle's face; in three seconds he lost ten years. "Bugger me," he whispered.

"Maybe later," said Bodie, fighting the urge to go over to him.

"You rotten bugger. I've been...making a right prat of myself," recognised Doyle, relaxing back in his chair.

"Not for the first time."

"No," admitted Doyle happily. "You might have dropped a clue," he added without rancour.

"I tried to a few times. You either changed the subject, feigned deafness or fell asleep."

"You couldn't have tried very hard."

"Would you have, if our positions had been reversed asked Bodie level-voiced.

"Not while I thought there was a chance you might come round," Doyle admitted. Another smile escaped him. "I feel... How much scotch did you put in this?"

"Not that much."

"Must just be me then." In a mercurial change of mood, his eyes narrowed just before he propelled himself from his chair to lean over Bodie where he sat on the settee. "You didn't pull that stunt today on purpose, did you?" he demanded.

"Don't be daft. I might be besotted, but I'm not stupid. Honest to god, Ray..." His mouth softening, Bodie tugged gently at the front of robe Doyle wore, drawing him closer so that they could kiss: he smelt of soap and shampoo, tasted of scotch and coffee, and gave himself up to the kiss without the single-mindedness that was peculiarly his own.

"You scared the shit out of me," mumbled Doyle, when they finally came up for air, by which time he was kneeling on the cushions beside Bodie.

"And some sense into you - though that wasn't intentional," Bodie added quickly.

His palm against Bodie's cheek, Doyle held his gaze. "Well don't go doing it again," he commanded fiercely, his gruff voice failing to conceal the emotion behind it.

"Enough," said Bodie, his stern tone softened by the activities of his roaming hands.

"Distract me and we'll never settle anything," warned Doyle.

"Like what asked Bodie indulgently.

"Living together. Staying together."

The expression on Doyle's face said what Bodie knew it would probably never occur to him to verbalise. Giving a sudden snort, he hugged Doyle to him, and began to laugh.

"What have I said now asked Doyle with resignation when he judged Bodie to be in any state to hear him.

"Correct me if I'm wrong, but haven't we been doing that for the last five months? I mean, even you must have noticed that we've been living together all that time."

"I suppose it has been a while," conceded Doyle. He frowned. "It all seems a bit easy, doesn't it."

"Never mind, mate. I'm sure you'll be able to come up with a few problems."

"While you're Mr Perfection, I suppose? No, don't answer that, I'm in far too good a mood." Leaning forward, Doyle paused when his mouth hovered above Bodie's, their breath mingling. "OK, you can go back to distracting me again - if you think you're up to it."

"I soon will be," Bodie said positively.

Doyle gave a familiar grin, his thumb stroking the head of Bodie's cock. "Some time this year

"Back seat driver. You've had your turn. Reminds me, the wall in the hall may need a wash," mused Bodie.

Doyle began to chuckle, the last signs of recent stress easing from his face. By the time he had recovered, he was naked. "That was sneaky," he said, straddling Bodie's thighs and kneeling above him.

Humming a small fanfare, Bodie produced a battered tube of KY.

"I'm almost afraid to ask where you were keeping that," said Doyle, watching Bodie squeeze the colourless gel onto his fingers. His mouth settled over Bodie's as he was anointed.

"I want you. I want to bury my cock deep inside you. I want to watch your face when you come. Ride me," whispered Bodie.

Biting Bodie's chin, aware of the hands cupping his buttocks, Doyle reached back to guide the slick head of Bodie's cock where he wanted it most. Arching his back, he took a deep breath and gave a slithering wriggle as he exhaled.

Bodie groaned deep in his throat as Doyle took him in the first inch or so, the tight anal muscle squeezing his cockhead.

Nodding in reassurance, Doyle rose slightly before he drove himself down, this time taking Bodie to the hilt. Gasping and rocking, his intent expression cleared.

"Can feel your cock clear to my heart," he gasped.

"Not yet you can't. OK? "

Doyle's nod freeing Bodie, they began to move. This time there was none of the grim urgency which had marked their previous loving, only the slow climb to climax. Arching back as he fisted his own cock, Doyle gave a husky rasp of pleasure as Bodie's hands tightened on him when the strokes destroying them both gathered pace. His head moving, hair flying Maenad-like, Doyle's voice slurred as he whispered Bodie's name over and over again, silenced only when he tensed and came, his warmth spilling between them. His face buried against Doyle's chest, Bodie arched and moaned as he pumped his life essence into his mate.

"Christ," gasped Doyle, his heart racing as he slumped over his lover.

"No, all our own work that was," managed Bodie, his voice muffled against Doyle. "My back's killing me."

"Cushions are too soft," said Doyle, rubbing his cheek against the top of Bodie's head as he felt him soften. "Want me to move?"

"Not yet."

Mouth clinging to mouth, and close entwined, their kisses were lazy now, and openly tender as lip dragged on love-swollen lip, their tongues flirting.

"We're very good at this, aren't we," mused Doyle, licking the corner of Bodie's mouth in parting.

"Passable," Bodie allowed. "Though you can't have too much practice. Isn't that what Macklin always says?"

"I don't think he had this in mind." Doyle sighed with regret as Bodie slipped from his body, his arms supporting Doyle until he could trust his legs to hold him.

"My knees are bloody well trembling," Doyle discovered, having used the edge of his bathrobe to mop up some of the seepage.

"It must be love," said Bodie without thinking. Seeing Doyle's smile, he looked wary. Doyle's smile only broadened, lighting his entire face.

"Go on, say it," sighed Bodie with resignation.

"OK. I love you. Now come to bed before you fall asleep on your feet," said Doyle practically, methodically beginning the routine security checks which were second nature to them both by now.

Returning to the living-room, he found Bodie still standing in the centre of the room. "Taken root, have you?"

"As declarations go, that could do with a bit more work," Bodie announced critically.

Undeceived, Doyle hooked his arm through his lover's and steered him out of the room, flicking out the light. "You can sort me out in the morning," he promised.

"And don't think I won't," muttered Bodie darkly, as he slid into bed.

"Silly sod," mumbled Doyle fondly as he collapsed into bed next to him, the fingers of one hand settling round his lover's. The light grasp slackened only when he, too, fell asleep.

-- THE END --

Written 30th March 1992
Originally published in No Holds Barred 2, Kathleen Resch, 1992

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