His second trek to the arctic waste of the bathroom finally convinced Bodie that it was going to be a long night. Fidgeting under the covers until warmth returned to his extremities, he mused on the unfairness of life: a clear conscience, full belly and empty bladder and he still could not sleep. It was late - or early - enough to ensure that even the streets outside were quiet. Everyone in the world but the odd tom-cat was asleep.
One thought leading to another, he cast a resentful glance at the deep-breathing sprawl of his partner, wishing that Doyle would wake up.
Having resisted temptation for several hours, Bodie's worse nature finally prevailed, a sharp elbow achieving what loud sighs and intrusive fidgeting had failed to do.
"Wha' - ? Mmn, why not," conceded a sleep-husky voice, Doyle's hands busy under the covers before his eyes had opened.
"I didn't have that in mind," said Bodie, with a dignity impaired by the speed of his response time.
"Could've fooled me."
"It's not hard."
"Almost," consoled Doyle, applying himself.
"Are you awake?" demanded Bodie with suspicion.
"Well on the way." Pausing, Doyle planted his companion's palm over the growing evidence to support his claim.
"So you are." Bestowing an absent caress, Bodie did not take his usual advantage of the situation.
Doyle gave a long-suffering sigh. "What did you have in mind if not a bit of the other?"
"Thought we could have a chat."
The silence from Doyle was pregnant with possibilities. "About what?" he asked with admirable restraint.
"Different things," said Bodie vaguely. "I've been thinking," he confided.
"A historic occasion, I agree, but we could've celebrated in the morning."
"Very funny. I was," Bodie insisted indignantly.
The first of a series of amused gurgles escaped Doyle. He gave Bodie a quick, hard hug. "I believe you."
After a short wrestling match Bodie succeeded in gaining the ascendant and Doyle began to hope this hadn't been a complete waste of time. He gave an encouraging wriggle.
"About when we first met," Bodie added, as if there had been no interruption. "It must be a while ago now."
"Seems like forever." There was a distinct edge to Doyle's voice.
"I'll take that as a compliment," Bodie decided after a moment's reflection.
"Blimey, you must be desperate."
"No one's ever going to accuse you of being romantic, are they." There was no real complaint in Bodie's voice.
"I sincerely hope not - least of all Cowley."
"You're never thinking of abandoning me in favour of the Old Man?"
Doyle got the giggles.
"I take it I can breathe easy," said Bodie.
"Only until he heard about the suggestion. Cretin."
"Careful, I'll get swollen-headed."
Reaching out to investigate, Doyle shook his head. "Afraid not. You've gone off the boil, mate."
"Gutter humour, that's your trouble," said Bodie sadly.
"We're well-suited then."
"I'm not arguing." Bodie's breath caught when he was encircled.
"That's a first."
"Don't be daft, you've done this loads of times."
"Are you saying I'm boring?" Doyle's grip settled a few inches lower.
"Er, Ray... Never," said Bodie fervently.
"Chicken," scoffed Doyle.
"Just prudent, bearing in mind what you're holding."
"I'll keep 'em safe," Doyle promised. His hands slid up to draw Bodie over him, the covers cocooning them against the chill, before he investigated the mouth hovering over his own.
"Mmn. You do have a talent for that," Bodie allowed.
"I know," said Doyle immodestly.
Humouring him, Bodie went back for more, before a fledgling thought intruded on his growing enthusiasm. "Why did you bring Cowley into the conversation?"
"When?" Doyle's mind was elsewhere.
"Eh? Oh, that." Doyle concentrated, although not to the exclusion of everything else. "I was just wondering if he knows about us."
"He must do. Locker-room gossip had us at it years ago."
"You heard those rumours?" Doyle sounded surprised.
"Be hard to miss 'em."
"You never said anything to me."
"I can just imagine the course the conversation would've taken if I'd tried."
"You could have a point," Doyle conceded.
"I do. But if I heard, it stands to reason Cowley must have."
"I'm not sure I like the idea of him poking his nose into our private business," Doyle announced, having considered the idea for all of thirty seconds.
"I'll wait outside the office while you tell him as much," Bodie decided.
"Outer Mongolia might be safer. He must know," Doyle realised.
"Yeah. He's never said anything though."
"While that's not necessarily reassuring, let's hope it stays that way."
"'Strewth, yes." Bodie's tone was heartfelt.
"If he applies his 'need to know' policy we're probably safe enough - unless the papers get onto us or something," mused Doyle.
"Then don't wear your French knickers outside the flat. That hurt!" Bodie yelped.
"No, it didn't," said Doyle positively, although he deigned to soothe the area with his palm. "Unlike some people, I know my own strength. You're in danger of squashing something important."
"Not of mine."
"I had realised. While you've got me like this can't you do something more interesting?" asked Doyle plaintively.
"Say please nicely."
"You're no fun at all," complained Bodie, before he concentrated on the job in hand.
"None?" said Doyle, some time later, a boneless sprawl beneath him.
Pausing in his mopping up operation, Bodie made the mistake of pretending to think about it.
Exhausted by the time Doyle had enacted his revenge, Bodie surreptitiously switched off the alarm, knowing it would give them an extra forty-five minutes in the morning. A prodding finger penetrated his sleep-filled haze.
"It can't be time to get up," he protested pathetically.
"It isn't. Why did you wake me up earlier?"
Both eyes opening to their fullest extent, Bodie stared at his companion. "I don't believe you asked me that," he moaned. "Especially not when I'd just dropped off."
"You must've had a reason," pursued Doyle doggedly.
A happy thought occurring to him, Bodie gave a beguiling smile. "It was love," he said romantically.
Lulled by his partner's softened tone, Bodie relaxed.
"Why did you wake me?" Doyle demanded, placing a muscled forearm across Bodie's windpipe to ensure his attention did not stray.
"Wanted to talk to you," Bodie croaked, desperate measures calling for the truth. The pressure on his throat eased, although Doyle's face remained only inches away.
Seeking inspiration, Bodie rolled his eyes. "Nothing in particular," he had to admit sheepishly. "I couldn't get to sleep. I hate being the only one awake in the middle of the night."
"I thought as much," said Doyle with satisfaction. "OK. Plug the alarm back in. We must have an hour or so left before it's due to go off." Releasing Bodie, he made himself comfortable.
"Is that it?" said Bodie blankly. "I thought you'd kill me if I couldn't come up with cast-iron reason."
"You don't mind?" An equable Doyle was a contradiction in terms, and thus worrying.
"If I did, I'd've mentioned it the first time it happened," said Doyle with asperity. "Healthy sign, this is. Situation normal."
Mystified, Bodie stared at him. "Sign of what?"
"Love." Doyle grinned.
"How d'you work that out?"
"Instead of feeling lonely and wanting a chat and a cuddle with me, you'd be off somewhere else, wouldn't you," said Doyle matter-of-factly into the pillow.
While the logic was warped, it made perfect sense to Bodie. "I suppose I would," he conceded. "Hang on. Are you saying I keep waking you up?" he asked uneasily.
"Every four or five weeks." Doyle sounded unconcerned.
"Oh. Sorry," said Bodie, abashed and feeling defensive now his behaviour had been pointed out to him.
"So I should think." Doyle delivered a forgiving pat. "Intermittent insomnia's only one of the endearing little traits you kept from me before we started shackin' up together. 'S lucky the times don't coincide with the full moon or my suspicions might be aroused. Course, it helps that you don't have hairy palms."
"Don't need 'em with you to see to it for me."
Mumbling something incoherent, Doyle buried his face deeper in the pillow, tucking one arm under it and the other over Bodie. He jumped when a tap jolted him back from the brink.
"This'd better be good," he warned, propping himself up on one elbow the better to direct his glare.
"Now I've proved my devotion, how about you doin' the same," said Bodie plaintively.
"Take comfort from the fact I 'aven't shoved your teeth down your throat. Is that it? Can we get some sleep now?"
Giving him a look of silent reproach, Bodie slid back down under the covers. "I only asked."
Doyle cracked in under a minute. "All right," he sighed. "Get it off your chest. What is it you're really after?"
"Was just thinking... It wouldn't hurt us to say it, once in a while."
"Are you winding me up for a bet or something?" demanded Doyle with disbelief.
Looking hurt, Bodie turned away onto his side, presenting his back.
"You are. You must be. Oh, come 'ere," said Doyle roughly, sliding one arm over him just in case. "I do, all right?"
Failing to muffle his snigger of glee in time, self-preservation launched Bodie from the bed. An accurately hurled trainer caught him in the small of his back.
"I should've known better," Doyle castigated himself. "I do know better, and you still..." Shaking his head at his own gullibility he gave a resigned sigh. He grinned when he noticed his shivering companion, who was eyeing him warily from the other side of the room. "Come back to bed before your bollocks turn blue. I won't bite."
"Promise?" said Bodie, with a healthy mistrust.
Doyle just smiled; together with affection, it revealed an impressive display of teeth.
-- THE END --
Written January 1992
Originally published in Unprofessional Conduct 1, Gryphon Press, 1992