Room with a View


Sequel to Conundrum

With a long-suffering sigh Doyle abandoned any pretence of alert independence and allowed himself to be organised, watching the whirlwind that was Bodie packing and making phone calls with sleepy disbelief. Munching doggedly through the dish of cornflakes which had been set in front of him, his astonishment peaked when his breakfast dishes were whipped from under his nose to be washed, dried and put away again.

"C'mon, sunshine. Let's be on our way then."

Blinking, Doyle found himself being bundled out of his chair, into his jacket and out the door. Confused, he slid into the passenger seat, content to await further developments. Bodie's subsequent behaviour did nothing but confirm that he was in a hurry about something. Doyle was still musing about this untypical behaviour when the car took the slip road off the motorway.

"You do know that you broke the speed limit the whole way down here?" he asked.

Bodie gave an unrepentant nod.

"And that Pete was still mid-sentence when you took off? We left half the tyres back at the pub."


"And that I'm beginning to wonder if you've cracked up completely."

Bodie spared his partner a slow smile. "Not me, sunshine. Still, I'm glad to see you're waking up at last."

Doyle gave a wry grin, still recovering from the impact of that smile. "Sorry about falling asleep on you last night," he said apologetically, arching his spine as he stretched where he sat. His last day down in Bristol had been a rough one. By the time he had wound things up, driven back to Town and finished his report to a cautiously satisfied Cowley it had been two in the morning. After the hours he had put in over the last two weeks it had been too much. His plans for his reunion with his partner had been lost in a fog of fatigue. Bodie, who just happened to be waiting outside Cowley's office for him, had sized up the situation in a glance. Doyle knew Bodie had driven him home, fed him and steered him into the shower but he couldn't remember anything else after he'd toppled into bed. He'd also managed to sleep through the alarm, the backup alarm, Bodie getting up and, apparently, an explanation of what this was all about.

"I should think so," said Bodie, untroubled. "All this gadding about. Too many late nights, that's your trouble."

"And even earlier mornings," Doyle confirmed with gloom. "I sometimes think the Cow imagines we run on batteries."

Bodie spared the drawn face a glance and felt a pang of remorse. "Should have let you sleep in, mate. You look terrible. It seemed a shame to waste the chance of getting away early though."

"I'll survive." Doyle's forehead wrinkled in a puzzled frown. "The only thing I don't understand is why you've spent all morning leaping around like a flea on heat. Where's the fire?"

His attention on the junction ahead, Bodie's tone was absent. "I wanted to get us out of Town before the Old Man had a chance to change his mind. I know you're his blue-eyed boy at the moment but it's not like him to be this generous - this is our second free weekend in seven weeks."

"You're such an optimist. It's pathetic really. I mean, you haven't forgotten he can recall us at any time?" Resettling himself comfortably in his seat, which was pushed back as far as it would go to give sprawling room, the gentle breeze wafting through the window smelled of green things as it ruffled his hair. The sun on his face and Bodie beside him, he closed his eyes with a sigh of contentment.

"Not today he can't," said Bodie with smug glee. "There's a faulty connection on our car radio, we're out of R/T range and I 'forgot' to leave a forwarding address."

His eyes opening again, Doyle regarded him with a mixture of affection and disapproval. "He'll go spare when he finds out what you've done."

"That's all right, you'll protect me."

Caught up in Bodie's euphoric mood, Doyle didn't have the heart to disabuse him of his charming misconception. Besides, when it came right down to it... Smiling, he turned in his seat until his shoulder was propped against the door so he could watch Bodie. He never normally stopped to notice but today he enjoyed the easy assurance with which Bodie drove, the capable hands moving from steering wheel to gear stick to wheel again.

Doyle's attention was diverted when the car flashed past the turning which led to the cottage. He gave Bodie a look of inquiry.

"Food," said Bodie. "Village shops - "

" - and warm bitter at the pub," remembered Doyle. It seemed a long time ago.

"Not today, sunshine. We won't be stopping long enough for a pint." Bodie parked the car with an unnecessary flourish.

"We won't?"

"Nope. We're going straight back to the cottage. You want to help with the shopping?" Bodie added, already standing outside the car.

By the time Doyle had locked his door Bodie was halfway across the road.

Beginning to wonder if he was destined to spend the entire weekend trailing two paces behind Bodie, Doyle gave a mental shrug and relaxed, content to admire the view. And today it was...spectacular. A little glassy-eyed, he decided that Bodie should wear cream more often. Finding himself in danger of being mown down by an old-age pensioner, he concentrated on the task in hand, following Bodie as he sped around the small supermarket with an ease which gave the lie to the pathetic excuses he had used up to now to avoid doing any of their routine shopping.

From the items that had been tossed into the trolley it looked as if Bodie was even planning to cook. He'd always been able to produce a decent steak with all the trimmings.

Hoisting up two bulging carrier bags Bodie glanced over his shoulder. "Well, come on then," he said briskly. "No need to hang around."

With a sheepish grin at the motherly-looking woman behind the cash desk, Doyle went. He nearly lost Bodie when he suddenly disappeared into the off-licence and was virtually running to keep up with him as they made their way back to the car. Doyle fell into his seat and made a production of catching his breath.

"I'm not sure I want to know, now I think about it, but would you mind telling me what all the rush is about?" The village, bustling with Saturday morning shoppers, was already a blurred memory.

"Haven't you got any sense of romance?" demanded Bodie, slowing down as they passed a chain of ponies from the riding school.

"You what?" Doyle gave him a look of surprise. Definitely cracked, he decided sadly.

"No, I didn't think you had," Bodie admitted, not noticeably cast down. "It's been a source of great disappointment, I can tell you."

Seeing that they had arrived outside the cottage, Doyle took the opportunity to grab Bodie before he could take off again, worn out by his partner's energy.

"Right, now, to save me chasing you all around the bloody cottage, will you just slow down long enough to tell me what all this is in aid of? Steak, decent plonk, all the rush. I know I'm a bit thick this morning, so use words of one syllable."

Bodie leant the necessary few inches closer and kissed Doyle lightly on the nose. "How long have we been..." he gave a wicked grin "...intimate?"

Doyle's restraining grasp had already undergone some realignment, one hand comfortably settled on Bodie's inner thigh, the other sliding between unfastened shirt buttons to curve round a warm side.

"Good word that, intimate," he said, savouring it with approval. With the back of his index finger he traced up the cream-clad thigh to arrive at the soft swelling at the groin, circling it with his knuckle. "Refined. Not at all suitable for you and me."

"So how long is it?" persevered Bodie, one glance warning Doyle against making the obvious response.

"Seven weeks and..." Doyle glanced at his watch "...about seventeen hours, give or take a few minutes."

There was a short, disconcerted pause.

"Can't you be more precise?" complained Bodie, the corners of his eyes crinkling as he smiled.

Doyle kissed him.

Disentangling themselves some time later, they made their way into the cottage with their weekend bags and carrier bags of shopping.

"At least the place smells better than it did last time," noted Bodie with approval as he opened windows and doors.

Doyle started to unpack the shopping, leaving out a couple of cans of lager. "How's the spare room?" he asked as he threw away the last of the packaging. "Pete said he managed to get the roof fixed a couple of weeks ago."

"Did he?" With no pretence at interest, Bodie leant against the door jamb, his eyes following Doyle's movements around the room.

Glancing up as he shut the refrigerator, Doyle correctly identified the light in the desire-darkened eyes. "Oh, so that's why you've been in such a hurry."

"Not just that," denied Bodie. "We could've stayed in bed back at the flat if that was all I wanted. I thought... I dunno." He shrugged. "I just thought it would make a change. Weekend in the country, time together. I know you like it down here. Besides, we haven't had much time to...take it slow, enjoy being together," he finished lamely.

Doyle knew he must be wearing an idiotic grin on his face. He had a suspicion that people must have been seeing quite a lot of it recently. "You know, I think I must be a romantic after all," he said, padding purposefully across the kitchen to take Bodie in an unhurried embrace. "I'm feeling distinctly soft-centred at the moment. All soppy and slushy." His stomach muscles twitched in protest when they were lightly prodded.

"Probably all that lasagne you ate last night," said Bodie wisely.

"Nah, I don't think so."

Bodie began to feel acutely self-conscious under Doyle's survey, relieved when Doyle insinuated himself back into the embrace.

"You feel marvellous, you know that," Doyle mumbled into Bodie's neck. His hands stroked across the broad back just for the pleasure of touch.

"Course I do," said Bodie, affronted.

"And so modest."

"You smell pretty good yourself. Better than new-baked bread or cut grass. In fact almost as good as that smell when they're retarring the roads."

Leaning back a little, Doyle's eyebrows disappeared up under his hair. "That was a compliment? Knowing you, I suppose it was. You must've gone down a bomb with the birds using a line as pathetic as that."

Unabashed, Bodie took a pleasurable sniff. "It's no line, mate. You do."

"Yeah, yeah." Releasing him, Doyle picked up the two cans of lager he had left out. "Come on, silver tongue. Let's see if we can't get a bit of a tan on that lily-white stuff you call skin."

Recognising the expression in Doyle's eyes, Bodie accepted that he would follow his partner anywhere. Not that he intended to admit as much.

Wandering around the garden together, they drank their lager and caught up on each other's activities.

"'ve been covering yourself with glory, I've been stuck in Archives," said Bodie mournfully.


"Are you sure we're in England? I can't believe how hot it is." Bodie unfastened another shirt button and took an appreciative sniff as they passed a flower-filled border. The colours and scents of the garden enfolded them in a lush cocoon that denied the outside world. It was quiet, except for the drone of pollen-drunk bees and bird song.

"Ssh," pleaded Doyle, his own shirt hanging free by this time. "It's bound to start raining."

"I don't mind if it does," said Bodie magnanimously. "I can think of plenty of things I'd enjoy doing indoors."

The hand cupping his left buttock helped Doyle to interpret that remark correctly. "I can imagine. I thought you said there was no hurry?"

"I'm not planning on hurrying," said Bodie, trailing after him in a hopeful manner.

"The grass needs cutting," said Doyle inconsequentially as he made for his favourite corner, a cul-de-sac formed by massive shrubs drooping with blossom and entwined with honeysuckle. The air was sweet and alive with the sound of bees.

"So does your hair." Bodie tangled his hand in the luxuriant curls, encouraging Doyle to turn towards him.

"What, out here?" Doyle tried to sound shocked.

Bodie rubbed a dormant nipple in a slow, circular caress, watching the small changes in Doyle's eyes and expression. "Well, I will if you will," he offered.

"Too kind. I'll do anything you want," Doyle added unexpectedly. He arched against the press of Bodie's hand, the nub of his nipple taut against Bodie's palm as he nuzzled Bodie's throat.

Bodie traced the fine line of dark hair, pausing at the navel. "I know you would, lover," he acknowledged, not needing to say more than that. Seven weeks... The hours off-duty they had managed to spend together would measure no more than a few days in total. They had been the happiest, and most confusing, weeks of his life.

Doyle wriggled free, sliding out of his shirt before he bent to unfasten his trainers and pull off his socks. "It's been a long time since I've made love out of doors. I've never managed it in a garden before - didn't think the neighbours would appreciate it," he explained when Bodie lifted an eyebrow in query.

"It's not like you to be so considerate." Bodie dropped his shirt to the ground.

Doyle gave a reminiscent chuckle. "Self-preservation, more like. They weren't too liberated in Tower Hill and that's the only place I've been that's had a garden. It was a police house. Though to be fair it wasn't so much a garden as cement with weeds. Not like here." The grass felt cool and springy to his bare feet, and slightly damp as he wriggled his toes down into it. Stretching, his head went back to expose the strong line of his throat; his eyes were slitted against the glare of the sun. The boneless quality of his pose made him look oddly reminiscent of a cat until he moved his head and the moment was lost.

"Sybarite," said Bodie, enjoying the unselfconscious display. He loved to see Ray like this, totally relaxed and a little sleepy - all that slumbering sensuality waiting to ignite.

"Who are you calling effeminate?" demanded Doyle with mock menace. Stalking closer, his pose was one of hirsute masculinity.

"You what?"

"It doesn't just mean luxury-loving, you know," said Doyle instructively, abandoning his pose to sink to his knees.

"It's time you went back to reading Beano annuals, isn't it? What are you doing down there?"

Doyle looked up with a lazy, affectionate grin and tapped Bodie's well-shod foot. "Come on, lift it up. I'm not having you leaving your shoes on."

Doing as he was told, Bodie found himself being divested of his shoes and socks. Something in Doyle's careful movements and the concentration he was giving to the simple task made Bodie catch his breath, staring at the vulnerable nape of the neck exposed to him. He sank onto the grass opposite Doyle, holding him lightly by the shoulders, caressing the sun-warmed skin where it was drawn taut over the sharp press of bone.

"You didn't have to do that," he whispered, bemused.

"I know I didn't, but I wanted to, all right?" The impulse which had seemed so natural now felt theatrical, Bodie's unease almost palpable. "Don't look so worried, I won't do it again." His voice had flattened, his expression veiled as he looked down. He was too conscious of the irony in the situation - his own hard-won and carefully guarded independence was crumbling around him and Bodie couldn't take it. This wasn't the first time he'd disconcerted Bodie but Doyle took a certain bleak amusement from admitting he had disconcerted himself.

Feeling tension where none had existed before, Bodie's hands continued to caress Doyle's shoulders. "Sometimes... This isn't something I can take for granted yet. Us, living together. You loving me. Then you go and do something like this and it...melts me. To the point where I don't even know if I'm making any sense." To his relief the rigid muscles beneath his hands began to relax.

"It's all right, you don't have to - "

"See? I knew I'd make a mess of explaining myself," said Bodie in exasperation. "Look, I love you. I'm just a bit afraid of how much, all right? You do whatever feels right, sunshine. It's the kind of problem even I shouldn't take long to sort out. Besides, I expect you'll give me a helping hand," he added hopefully.

Doyle never had been able to resist that look. A moment later they were together, their mouths drifting to find each other. The leisurely pace deepened into a more pressing hunger that effectively obliterated the nebulous doubts and insecurities as if they had never taken substance.

"I missed you," Bodie murmured eventually. Leaning over the now prone Doyle, he muttered under his breath as the buckle to Doyle's belt defeated him yet again.

"I can tell," said Doyle, smiling. He slid the buckle free. "I missed you, too. All the time. For so many reasons. It's fun living with you."

"Fun?" Bodie could think of a number of words to describe their weeks together as lovers. It hadn't all been this easy - certainly not this open. He chose not to remember his own withdrawal of only moments before, unwilling to admit it had happened. Instead he remembered how empty his flat had seemed while Ray had been gone, every inch of it offering some small reminder of the man who was not there.

"Fun," repeated Doyle in a firm tone. "You make me happy, even when I could cheerfully strangle you," he added, reassuring Bodie with that familiar acidic note as he wriggled out of his jeans.

As declarations went this one was somewhat lacking in eloquence. Nevertheless, staring at the naked sprawl that was Ray Doyle, Bodie could think of nothing to say, except to smile shakily. Reaching out, he hugged Doyle to him and said flippantly, "No chance of you doing the cooking instead of me then?"

Doyle gave a seraphic smile, sunlight glinting in his hair as he shook his head. "None at all, mate. I'm not that far gone." An unfamiliar sound caught his ear and his gaze slid past Bodie, his eyes widening.

Belatedly becoming aware he had lost Doyle's attention, Bodie turned, squinting as he stared into the sun. He relaxed immediately. "So that's where the noise is coming from. I thought it must be your stomach."

"Very amusing. That bloody animal scared me out of two years' growth when I saw it up on the roof." Doyle scowled at the Siamese cat. "If he doesn't stop staring at me like that he's going to be sorry."

"It won't hang around long."

The cat, sensing himself to be the centre of attention, paused in its precarious passage, one paw hovering in a loss of confidence. It softly repeated the cries which had first caught Doyle's attention, the noise increasing in volume and intensity.

Doyle winced. "The bastard animal's doing it on purpose. Ignore him," he instructed as the sounds reached a skin-crawling level. "He can get down the same way he got up."

Bodie was still watching. "I'm not so sure. It looks like it's hurt its foot. It's not putting any weight on it."

"He just knows a sucker when he sees one," said Doyle, telling himself it was ridiculous be feel jealous of a cat. And immature, insecure and bloody pathetic. But if that sodding mog didn't piss off he'd shoot it.

"Probably. But look at it, Ray."

"Why I suggested coming out here I'll never know. We could be tangled up in a post-coital kip by now," said Doyle, reaching for his jeans and hauling them back on. But he couldn't hang on to his irritation while Bodie stood there with that expression on his face, much as he wanted to. "You have to be the softest touch I've ever met. I didn't realise you're a cat lover."

Slipping on his second shoe, Bodie gave him a look of surprise. "Me? No way. I don't go a bundle on any animals. Except for angel fish. But that noise it's making is driving me nuts. The quicker we get it down from there, the quicker it'll stop making that racket."

"You reckon? Hang on, what do you mean, 'we'?" Doyle stopped in his tracks.

"You mean you're not going to help?"

Doyle ignored the look of pathos Bodie was projecting so earnestly. "Got it in one, mate. I'm not risking my neck up on that rook for some stupid mog who's just discovered he hasn't got a head for heights. He'll get down in his own good - "

At the clatter of a slate tile being dislodged they both swung around in time to see the cat slither down the steeply pitched roof to be caught against the chimney stack. The tile fell to the patio, breaking into pieces on impact while the sounds of distress from above intensified.

Resisting the impulse to go out for the rest of the day, Doyle scowled. "Come on then," he sighed. "Let's find a ladder."

"Noise getting to you, is it?" asked Bodie, all spurious sympathy.

Doyle's answering gesture was predictable.

The ramshackle shed proved to be crammed full of broken furniture and gardening implements. Naturally the ladder was in the most inaccessible spot. They emerged covered in cobwebs, Doyle's eyes still watering from his encounter with a rake. Bodie had known better than to laugh out loud but his expression of desperate sobriety betrayed him and Doyle left him to struggle with the ladder by himself.

"You sure it's safe?" Doyle said, as Bodie propped it against the side of the cottage.

Checking the hooks holding the extension in place were secure, Bodie gave it a fond pat. "Course it is," he said, oozing confidence.

"That wood looks on the rotten side to me. I'll go up." Doyle gave Bodie's trim waistline a pointed look.

"Better not. One look at the expression on your face and the poor little bugger will probably jump." Bodie went up the ladder at speed, only to swear vividly when the top rung gave from under him.

Already holding the ladder, Doyle glared upwards. "Come down and let me - "

"I'm here now."

Retaining his grip on the base of the ladder Doyle watched, resigned, as Bodie clambered with caution onto the steep side of the roof. Hearing the unfamiliar note to Bodie's voice, Doyle grinned.

"Kitty?" he yelled up in ribald disbelief.

"Well what d'you expect me to call it?" Bodie yelled back. "Bloody animal. Look, mog, just stay put and keep quiet. I've come to rescue you." His voice faded away again.

Unable to see Bodie from this angle, Doyle abandoned the foot of the ladder, backing away with his head craned, determined not to miss any part of this heroic endeavour. His grin broadened.

Unimpressed by the blandishments of the man crawling towards it, the cat was mincing delicately away just out of reach, peering over one shoulder to make sure it was still being followed. Cursing the slippery state of the new tiles and the cracked, moss-covered older ones with equal fervour, Bodie carried on after it. As he approached the ridge of the roof, seemingly clinging on like a human fly, Doyle stopped smiling.

"Bodie, stop! There's - "

A portion of roof caved in.

The noise was indescribable, pieces of tile ricocheting off the patio like shrapnel. For a few seconds Doyle was frozen to the spot, staring at the place where Bodie had been. Then he took off, racing round to the front door and into the cottage, taking the stairs three at a time.


His throat raw, he came to an abrupt standstill inside the spare bedroom. Fear-induced adrenalin still pumping into his bloodstream, he began to laugh. Having begun, he couldn't seem to stop, propping himself, weak with relief, against the door jamb for support.

The figure on the listing mattress stirred feebly before the tight-shut eyes opened in the plaster-whitened face.

"Ha bloody ha," croaked Bodie, unamused.

Sprawled on the ruin of the bed he stared up through the jagged hole in the ceiling, then down at himself, still not quite sure what had happened. Every muscle felt stretched, various bumps and bruises beginning to make themselves felt in no uncertain terms. The bed, its head tilting down to the floor from the leg which had collapsed under its unexpected burden, groaned and he sank a little further into the rotten wood, plaster, slivers of tile and yellowing newspaper which had accompanied his fall. While he didn't think anything but the bed was broken he felt too shaken to put it to the test. Glaring at his scarlet-faced partner, he lifted his head with caution.

Doyle slowly stopped hiccuping. "I don't reckon Peter will rent this place out to us again. There's a bloody great hole where the roof used to be. You all right?" he added sharply as Bodie winced, his face visibly losing colour under its coating of plaster dust.

"Mmn. I dunno," he mumbled, managing to sit on the edge of the mattress.

Already at his side, Doyle ran his hands over his head, shoulders, chest and legs. All traces of humour left him as he eased Bodie to his feet, turned him around and checked out the other side, ignoring Bodie's assurances.

Satisfying himself that the only irreparable damage Bodie had suffered was to his pride, Doyle shook him slightly.

"You bloody idiot, taking a chance like that. You could have been killed!"

The cat chose that moment to make its descent. With a look of intense superiority it drifted down onto the bed, light as thistledown, and padded out of the open doorway without sparing either man a backward glance.

Wincing under the grip that held him, Bodie tried to turn. "Ray, I'm all right."

"No thanks to you, you stupid sod!" Doyle's thickened voice shook. He could see, all too clearly, Bodie lying broken on the flagstones. Yanking Bodie back against the press of his body, he gripped him fiercely, trembling with rage as he denied the ugly vision.

"It's all right, Ray. Ease up, I'm fine. You're breaking my ribs," Bodie added plaintively, when he gained no response.

"I could break your bloody neck for taking such a stupid risk." Doyle's mouth silenced whatever Bodie had been about to say.

There was nothing gentle in the kiss, or the hands which gripped him with such savage urgency. Bodie found himself being tumbled down onto the bare floorboards, his face in the dust and debris of his fall, while Doyle pinned him in place.

"You could have killed yourself," Doyle said, horror echoing in his voice. Intent, he stripped what little of Bodie's torn clothing remained to him.

About to voice his protest at the discomfort of the floor, Bodie felt Doyle's weight lift from the small of his back. Hands moved from his naked flanks to clasp his buttocks.

"You nearly died!"

It was then that Bodie decided to relax and enjoy the inevitable. Heaving himself onto his elbows and knees, he ignored the complaint of stiffening muscles as he heard Doyle's ragged breathing and felt the press of his erect cock against his thigh. He understood too well the sick dread which could spear through contentment; the need to reaffirm their lives together, while they still had the chance.

Doyle tried and failed to control the shivering which came from a mixture of terror and the intensity of his need to bury that terror in the warm solidity of Bodie. Fumbling, he tried to ready Bodie.

"Too dry. We need some lubricant," Bodie croaked into a wad of brittle newspaper. His cock tightened in response to the fervour of Doyle's need, despite his own discomfort.

His erection nudging the entrance to Bodie's body, Doyle stared down blankly before he realised what he had been about to do.

"Too dry," he echoed, before he inhaled shakily. "Bodie, I need - "

Bodie smiled at the floorboards. "Me. I know. And you've got me. It's just that we need something."

His hands gentle now, Doyle caressed the firm mounds of Bodie's buttocks, his thumbs stroking inside the cleft. Too dry... He looked around, seeking inspiration. Wrong room. Damn, what could he use?

Cupping his hands, he spat into them. His mouth was still dry with fear for what could have happened. Bodie could have broken his neck.

He spat again, hawking in his efforts to get enough saliva.

Correctly identifying the sounds behind him, Bodie began to shake with silent laughter. So much for a romantic interlude in the country.

"Try thinking about lemons," he suggested fondly, loving Doyle very much in this moment. He must do to put up with this kind of treatment. Fidgeting in an effort to find a more comfortable spot, he froze. Something sharp was digging into his hipbone. He resumed his former position before he did something vital a mischief.

"Lemons?" Doyle's voice had almost returned to normal. "What the fuck do I need to think about - Jesus, I want you." Absorbing the beautiful warmth and vitality of the body relaxed under him Doyle felt that blind imperative to defy the Fates take on a more familiar pattern. Rubbing his cheek against the soft down in the hollow of Bodie's back, his dusty fingers caressed the flesh he had so thoughtlessly bruised.

"You feel like a peach," he whispered. "Sweet 'n' firm and just a bit fuzzy."

"Bit like your brain right now," Bodie said, just before a moan of pleasure escaped him as teeth closed gently over his left buttock, marking him, the small pleasure/pain shooting to his groin. A moist tongue traced over him to dip between his buttocks, stabbing wetly at his anus.

Discomfort a distant memory under the various sensual assaults he was experiencing, Bodie reached back, trying to hold Doyle against him, needing a different, harder touch. "Come on, Ray. Get on with it," he pleaded.

Lost in the heady delight of pleasuring Bodie, Doyle had himself under control now. "In a minute," he promised.

The pressure and warmth and scent of Doyle leaving him, accompanied by a scrabbling sound, Bodie turned in time to see Doyle disappear out of the room. Before he could go to investigate, Doyle was back, tipping out the contents of his shaving bag on the way until he gave a triumphant cry.

"Baby oil?" said Bodie.

"It's that or spit so shut up and put up with it," Doyle told him, softening the reproof with what was supposed to be a quick kiss.

Displaying an untypical generosity when it came to applying the baby oil, the sickly scent was all around them, Bodie's skin gleaming and slippery and moving helplessly under the stimulation offered by Doyle's oil-slick hands. His thumbs circling the sharp press of the exposed tail bone, he lingered lovingly on the relaxed anus, one finger, then two sinking in with exquisite slowness only to withdraw and set up a more demanding rhythm.

His breathing erratic, deafened by the sound of his own pulse, Bodie groaned his pleasure when Doyle's cock brushed the entrance to his body. In some still functioning part of his back brain he wondered if Ray had stopped breathing, just as Doyle eased into him.

It had never been like this before - the interminable pause, exquisite withdrawal, gliding thrusts filling him to the heart, retreating and advancing, gaining pace and power until coherent thought fled and he moved to the pace Doyle dictated.

"Bet that bloody cat's watching us," Doyle whispered tightly, in a moment of stillness.

The sheer incongruity of it caught Bodie. He gave a choke of laughter, inhaled plaster dust and sneezed beyond hope of control, his muscles tightening, speeding the inevitable.

When he could think at all, Bodie supposed in a dazed kind of way that his hearing would return to the left ear sometime in the next ten years. He'd never heard Ray yell like that before.

The room seemed to be tilting at an unusual angle. Unconcerned, he waited for it to right itself. He could feel the limp sprawl that was Doyle, coated along the length of his back, feel the uneven breath gusting across his neck.

"Am I too heavy?"

The words slurring into one another, it took a moment to make sense of them. "Yeah," Bodie told him, surprised by the effort speech required.

"Move in a minute," Doyle promised lethargically, suspended in a dizzy languor. "My heart's going like the clappers."

"I think mine stopped. In case you're interested, you're breaking my back."

Grunting an apology, Doyle slowly disentangled them before sprawling next to him, grimacing as he settled on something lumpy and unyielding. He stared up through the ruined ceiling, through jagged roofing felt to the open sky beyond.

"We'll have to pay to get the roof fixed ourselves," he said, his hand rubbing gently across Bodie's shoulders while Bodie nuzzled his biceps.

"Trust you to think of that." Bodie snorted with laughter, wheezing and choking as he inhaled the dust and plaster in which he had been lying.

Doyle eased him up. "We'll have to do something about you, too. I got a bit carried away."

"Yeah, I noticed," said Bodie happily. He rose unsteadily to his feet and gave a painful stretch before pausing to give the hole in the ceiling a fond smile. "It was certainly different. You all right now?" he added.

Remembering the force of emotion that had ripped through him, Doyle avoided his eyes. "Yeah."

"I'm fine," Bodie told him, slinging an arm around the hunched shoulders. "Come off it, mate. I'm not going to do myself any damage in a piddling little fall like that. You're tired, you over-reacted, that's all."

"Is it?" Doyle shrugged free. "And what if I over-react like that again, when we're working?"

"You won't."

Doyle whirled on him. "Oh, is that a fact? You can guarantee that, can you?"

Bodie leant back against the arm of the only easy chair to eye him thoughtfully. Doyle had over-reacted; he was tired and the unexpectedness of the accident when they had both been off-guard had slipped under his defences. "Us being lovers hasn't affected our efficiency at work so far. I can't see that it ever will. We've never taken each other's safety lightly, even at the very beginning. It's just a bit difficult to admit that... You know."

"Know what?" snapped Doyle unhelpfully.

"That I love you and you love me. If you want a fight, fine, but there's no point you flogging yourself into a tizzy just because I put my foot through a hole in the roof, is there?"

If anything Doyle's glare intensified before he looked away, kicking moodily at a piece of tiling. It skidded across the floor.

"Bugger it," Doyle muttered. Brushing past Bodie, he stalked out of the room.

Sighing, Bodie surveyed the ruin of the bedroom before heading for the bathroom. He had just poured himself a bath and sunk down into the water when a gentle hand touched his shoulder.

"Sorry," said Doyle briefly. "You frightened the life out of me. Then I worried myself." He crouched down beside the bath. His eyes looking light in his dusty face, his smile was uncomplicated and so loving that it seemed to wrap Bodie in warmth. "Next time I'll be the one to fall off the ladder, all right?"

"Fine by me, mate." Bodie handed over the soap and sponge to have his back washed. "So you're not going all broody and protective on me, then?"

Doyle looked at him in disbelief. "I don't believe I'm hearing this. You're a fine one to talk. Yes, I am. You'll just have to get used to it."

"When have I ever gone over the top looking out for you?" returned Bodie.

Without having to pause to think about it Doyle began to enumerate the various occasions on which his over-protective partner had acted less than wisely.

Bodie waved him into a defeated silence. "That was different," he mumbled.

Doyle squeezed the contents of the sponge over his head. "Not any more it isn't. So you'd better be more careful in future."

"Oh, I will be," Bodie assured him, blinking through the rivulets of water trickling down his face. "I'll have to be, won't I," he explained, when Doyle gave him a suspicious stare. "Cowley's going to notice if you start screwing me into the floor the first time someone takes a pot shot at me. I can't see him approving, can you?"

His hair curling damply in the steam, Doyle looked at him for a moment, then without further ado got into the bath, motioning for Bodie to move his feet.

"I dunno," he said, when he was settled as comfortably as he was likely to get given that he was sitting on the plug, with the taps at his back. "We can try it out next time if you like."

Bodie threw the first thing which came to hand.

The full-to-capacity washbag sailed over Doyle's head, ricocheted off the hot water heater and sailed through the open window.

"Missed!" taunted Doyle.

One hand on the top of Doyle's head, ready to duck him, if he could, Bodie froze as he heard a sound above them.

A chocolate and cream face appeared at the open window. Whiskers twitched and a chocolate-tipped paw stepped delicately onto the window ledge. A familiar yowl echoed around the small bathroom.

Doyle was laughing too much to protect himself as Bodie dragged him under the water. He was still spluttering when Bodie sat astride him.

"Had enough?" Bodie said affably.

During the ensuing wrestling match and inevitable reconciliation, they failed to notice the cat's departure. It was, unfortunately, Doyle who stepped in their unwanted visitor's opinion of the proceedings.

-- THE END --

Writted October 1985
Published in HG Collected 2, Doghouse Press, 2002

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