There were times when Raymond Doyle could be the kind of mate for whom a bloke would cheerfully sell his forty foot racing yacht. And other times when the same friend would just as cheerfully shove any convenient part of Doyle's tender anatomy through a door and slam it.
Three times since mid-afternoon, Bodie had come within an inch of throttling him once and for all, and it was only a dogged, resigned sense of duty that sent him back to Doyle's flat. After all, Ray was limping along with a torn ligament in his left ankle, and he had torn the ligament buying Bodie's life for him (again), and he did live three floors up from the street, and the lift was busted as usual.
By the time they made it up to the flat, Ray's temper was at boiling point, and much as Bodie fully appreciated the discomfort he was in, he gritted his teeth as he waited for the dramas to unfold. As the lights went on Ray flopped into his favourite easy chair, hooking his bad leg over the arm of it. Bodie looked down at the sprawled figure, disguising a wry expression. The creases in the blue denim led the eye unerringly to his groin like so many arrows pointing to something on display. If he had been a girl the posture would have been wanton to the point of being lewd, and if the girl had been on the street it would have been display-window stuff.
But Ray wasn't a girl.
Thank Christ, Bodie thought, or the furry chest and the nice, hard muscles and the bulge in the denim would have been gone... Not that he wouldn't have made a very attractive bird, Bodie admitted -- kittenish, with the curls and the eyes and that complexion, and legs just as long but hips a bit wider --
"What the hell are you staring at anyway?" Doyle snapped.
"Mm? Oh, nothing," Bodie said, realising that his scrutiny of Doyle's legs was bound to annoy him. "How's the ankle?"
"After climbing up three storeys? It bloody hurts. Next stupid question."
"Why are you mad at me?"
It made Doyle blink. "I'm not."
"You're giving a pretty good impression of it, then! Want a cup of tea?"
A grunt was his reply, and he chose to take it as an affirmative, because he wanted a cup of tea. The kettle was coming to a boil and the cups were set out when he discovered the problem. "You're out of sugar," he called through from the kitchen.
"I don't take sugar," Doyle shouted acidly.
"No, but I do."
"Tough," Doyle grouched.
Bodie winced. Once, just once, he'd like Ray to be reasonable. Open up, be the understanding type. So he had a bad ankle and Paulette had gone to Paris on holiday with her sister and the lift was out of order... So, Bodie was alive and the drug runners were inside and the weather forecast was decent and they had the day off tomorrow. A day of fishing would have been nice. Or boating. Or just lounging around at home, talking. Bodie poured water on the tea bags and hunted in the fridge for honey. He hated honey in tea as a rule, but the prospects of drinking it without anything at all were worse.
"Where the hell's the tea, Bodie?" Ray's voice called querulously from the lounge.
"Coming," Bodie sighed, "keep your turban on." He stirred the cups and threw the spoon in the sink. One of these days Doyle would get himself throttled, he decided. One day he'd push it that five percent too far and Bodie would let him have it, one way or another. Like... a bucket of wallpaper size for his curls. Like... a whack on the jaw with a lemon merangue. Like... valium in his tea --
And then Bodie's eyes gleamed maliciously. He thrust a hand into his pocket, bringing out a small plastic bag that had been there for three days, totally forgotten. In it were two capsules -- a harmless drug, by any practical standards, one Bodie used himself on infrequent occasions, when he found it impossible to unwind. Less dope-ifying than grass, less obtrusive and damaging than coke, just nice, and exactly what Doyle could do with. They called it Ecstasy, and it worked like a charm. He took one capsule from the bag and rummaged in the wall cabinet, finding aspirin capsules that more or less matched the Ecstasy.
He dropped the one aspirin capsule and the bubble of Ecstasy onto Doyle's saucer and sauntered back into the lounge. Ray had not moved a muscle. The lamp light was low, restful. Bodie checked carefully: no, in this light you couldn't tell the diff between the two capsules. He handed Doyle's cup to him, watched Ray peer at the bits of plastic and frown. "What's this?"
"Aspirin, since you're hurting," Bodie said blandly, taking the other armchair and sipping at his tea. The honey was better than nothing but he still made a face.
"Oh." Doyle flashed him a brief look of thanks. "Ta. Could use something."
"Yeah, I noticed. Drink your tea and relax. You'll soon cheer up."
In fact, Ecstasy did not work that fast. It took half an hour for Doyle to begin to relax visibly, every line of his body drooping in content, but he was still wide awake. The bitching bad temper was gone, he was smiling sunnily, which was always a pleasure to behold, and whistling an old Manfred Mann tune. Bodie let himself relax also. Thank God for small mercies -- and at ten quid a pop it was a bloody expensive small mercy -- but one he counted worth it. Ray had bought his life for him yet again just after lunch, and to feel distanced from him, cut out, was unpleasant.
As he listened, eyes on his crossed feet, Ray heaved a sigh, then, unexpectedly, giggled. Bodie looked up at him. "Want to share the joke?"
"No joke," Ray said affably. "Was just watching you, and thinking. I like to watch you. Been doing it for years."
"Oh, yes?" Bodie crooked a brow at his partner.
"Yeah. Never noticed?" Ray grinned impishly.
"Once or twice," Bodie admitted. "You're a bloody tease, though, Raymond. Sensible thing was to keep my mouth shut -- so I did."
Again, Ray giggled pleasantly. "I know you did. Stoney silence. You watch me, though, don't you? I've seen you do it, so don't deny it, mate."
"It isn't a crime to look," Bodie said mildly. "Nor is it a sin."
Now Doyle guffawed. "What about thinking? Is that a sin?" Bodie just blinked at him, and he elaborated: "What do you think about when you watch me?"
Bloody Ecstasy! Bodie thought hotly. This was typical of the drug. It made you trust total strangers and spew up the innermost secrets of your heart, willy-nilly... He might get more than he had bargained for out of Ray -- and it wasn't as if he shouldn't have expected it.
"Think about? Well, I suppose I think about you," he said with the greatest of care.
Doyle nodded wisely. "Mm. That's what I think about when I watch you. What d' you think about me doing?"
"Well --" Bodie hesitated. Jesus, can I tell him the truth? He'll kill me for it in the morning!
But Doyle did not wait for Bodie's confession. "I think about you in a horizontal environment," he said lucidly, pondering this friend's face and form. "Cool, clean sheets, a bit sweaty, moaning a lot. You know the kind of thing."
Bloody Ecstasy! Bodie swallowed. "No kidding?"
"Noooo kidding," Ray crooned contentedly. "Once or twice I've dreamed about you, too. Great dreams -- want to hear about 'em?"
It was assuming all the characteristics of hysteria, and Bodie felt a giggle come up in his own throat. He choked it off before it could escape. Yes, he did want to hear about Ray's dreams, but he was not going to say it. Whatever was said and later regretted, he was having no part in the instigation of it -- that way at least his conscience would survive relatively intact.
"Whatever," he said noncommittally.
Apparently, Ray took it as approval. His face broke into a wide grin, wicked, like a teenager with his first copy of Playboy and a whole hour alone to read it in. "My favourite's about Tahiti. Water that's green, sand that's white, coconut palms nodding in the sea wind. We're on this beach, you see, and it's deserted. Like we're the only two people in the world. We go swimming in the tide pool, and the water's luke warm, like a tepid bath, and I'm floating, and you... You're all over me. Don't know what could have happened to my shorts. Know what you did to me?"
"I -- can imagine," Bodie growled, grateful that the low light would cover the rise of his colour. That would have been a very nice dream; and a pretty damp one too.
"I expect you can." Ray closed his eyes. "Can still remember what it felt like... Want to know something silly?"
"What?" Bodie held his breath now. Bloody Ecstasy! And bloody silly idea giving it to him -- Ray would kill him if he ever found out. As it was, he'd be embarrassed as hell when he woke up in the morning and remembered how he'd talked, not understanding why.
"I'm getting hard just thinking about it. Thinking about you. Never knew you turned me on, did you?"
"Sometimes I have wondered," Bodie admitted, hiding a smile. "I mean, I've watched you watching me watching you watching --"
"Bodie?" Doyle's tone had the dreaded speculative note.
Oh oh, here it comes, Bodie thought feverishly. And the worst part of it was, his own nerve endings were tingling and he had to cross one leg over the other to make his own responses less obvious. And I didn't take the damned drug! Beware, Bodie: they gregarious past will catch thee with thy knickers at half mast one of these days! "What?" he asked in the same bland, noncommittal tone, and held his breath.
Doyle came right out with it. "D' you ever fancy me? Otherwise, why do you bother watching me like you do?"
"Well, sometimes," Bodie said huskily. If he'd popped the other capsule, maybe he'd be as laid back and comfy about it all as Ray; as it was, his heart rate was ridiculous while Doyle was smiling and didn't give a damn.
"When?" A frown puckered the brows above the sweet smile. "When d' you fancy me, then?"
Oh, to hell with it, Bodie thought rashly. Why not? We're both turned thirty, for Christ's sake, he's been around, I've been around. So what else is new? He hid the grin for just a moment longer and then let it show through. "I really like it when you let your hair grow long, and when your jeans are so tight I wonder how you don't split the seams. And I like you in jewelry. Remember that time we took a weekend off in the country and got fastened up in that house with those hard boys? Remember the way you looked then? Skinny as a kid, your hair real long, and your legs --" He chuckled. "You just about ruined me for the girls, you did."
This time they both giggled.
"Why didn't you say so?" Ray hooted.
"Dunno." Bodie shrugged eloquently. "Not the right time, I expect."
"Lame excuse," Doyle accused pleasantly, and sighed. "You want to know what I like? I like your chest. Smooth, you see. I wonder --" He frowned. "I wonder if the hair on my chest would tickle yours? If we were both in the raw and pressed up together, I mean. I reckon it would. Would that bother you?"
Might turn me on so hard you'd get the lay of your life, Bodie thought aridly, but he said, "Who knows? Do you often get thoughts like these, Raymond?"
Doyle nodded solemnly. "'Fraid so. Thought you'd beat me to a pulp if I ever said anything -- and in any case, I didn't know what to say. Never tried to chat up a bloke before. I'm a virgin, you see."
A virgin. That did it -- the simple, matter of fact admission in those beautifully candid words. Bodie's pulse rate went straight through the ceiling and he was sweating. There was an ache in his abdomen that went down to his knees. It was either a sprint for seclusion and a quick do-it-yourself job, an icy shower, slow strangulation by his underwear and slacks, or --
"A virgin, eh?" He smiled, somehow keeping his voice level. "Well, what d' you know? How long are you going to hang onto your cherry?"
Ray shrugged. "Well, you're the only man I ever really fancied enough to bother with. You're the best mate I ever had, you know that, I must have told you, one way or another... I dunno, Bodie; if you don't want my cherry, I expect I'll keep it, won't I?" He gave his partner a smile that was a curious mixture of coyness and pure cheek. "You don't want it, do you?"
It was Bodie's turn to guffaw. "You making me an offer I can't refuse, Raymond?"
"Yeah," Ray said, quite matter of factly. "Can't think what's got into me tonight. Never had the guts to say all this before. But, if you want it, it's yours. Yours for the taking," he added with a theatrical flourish.
And Bodie swallowed. "You mean it?"
"Course I mean it. I said it, didn't I?"
"Yeah, you did." The ache in Bodie's groin was starting to really hurt, and the look of Doyle, so relaxed he looked sated already before he started, was enough to make a grown man weep. He got his feet under him and extended a hand to pull Ray to his feet. "Mind your ankle, sunshine. Hang on to me for balance before you fall over!"
"I feel a bit tiddley, but I haven't been drinking," Ray said with a chuckle. "See the effect you have on me? Disgraceful, it is."
"Oh, I dunno, I like it," Bodie said breathlessly.
His hands were on Ray's shoulders, feeling sharp collar bones through the thin yellow tee shirt, and the feel of Doyle's fingers at his waist, steadying himself, was exquisite. He traced the big, strong muscles between shoulders and jaw and brushed his fingers over Ray's full lips; to his surprise and delight Doyle's mouth opened and he inclined his head, sucking the caressing fingers and flicking at them with his tongue. For some reason Bodie found the little wanton gesture especially erotic, and he coiled his fingers into the loose curls, drawing Doyle's head towards his own.
The kiss was light at first, hesitant but hot and sweet, then Bodie's tongue ventured as far as Doyle's teeth, learning their shape, the slight, endearing imperfection there. He tasted wonderful, and soon Bodie's tongue probed deeper, learning the texture and feel of the inside of Doyle's mouth. Hot and fine and mobile. When he drew back his head Ray leaned forward, sucking gently at his lower lip while they both took a gasp for air.
Bodie smiled ruefully. "You have a fantastic mouth, Raymond. The birds ever tell you that?" Then he bent to kiss the hollow of his throat where the pulse was hammering fast, just under the skin. His hands passed over the contours of Doyle's chest, finding the nipples hard and caressing them by drawing the yellow cotton to and fro over them. Ray gave a little moan and writhed away just far enough to pull the tee shirt off over his head, and this time Bodie rubbed the nipples between thumb and forefinger, drawing them up even harder and loving the way Ray squirmed, arching toward the caresses. How often did girls think to do this to their partner? Not often enough.
Then Bodie transferred his lips to Doyle's heaving chest and busied his hands lower. While he sucked on a nipple that felt almost painfully erect, he kneaded the aching hardness that was still trapped in denim that was too tight. Ray was swaying, head thrown back; he'd be off his feet in another minute. Bodie steered him a pace backward and unbuckled his belt, drew the zip down and tugged jeans and underwear down also before giving him a push in the middle that landed him in the armchair with a giggle.
Free, his erection was dark, throbbing, and as he watched Bodie undress, eyes heavy and glittering, he stroked himself, long, fluid caresses about his groin that only served to make Bodie more feverish as he shed his clothes. Naked, he went to his knees at Doyle's feet and pulled the jeans, shoes, socks and underwear off altogether. Then he pushed Ray's knees wide apart and knelt between them to drop wet kisses along the softness of his inner thighs. He felt the balls stir, heavy with arousal, and felt the heat of the cock that was waiting for his touch.
This close, Ray smelt different, unique. Bodie knew that, if Ray give him a punch on the nose and chased him for his life tomorrow, he would never forget the smell of him. Or the taste. He rolled the swollen testicles gently in his mouth, and Ray's hands clenched on the arms of the chair. He was shaking like a leaf, and when Bodie drew his tongue up the length of the engorged shaft he cried out, lifting his hips, a trickle of fluid escaping. They would need that, if Ray was not to be sore, and if Bodie was not going to have to leave in search of some messy substance -- but luckily, Bodie always made enough pre-ejaculate to cover the situation even if a girl was dry --
Or when it wasn't a girl at all. And Ray was most certainly not a girl. He was gloriously male, right down to his toes, every inch of him, hot and smooth, the body hair as red brown as that on his head, fine and soft, before Bodie's questing fingers were at his groin, and then the hair became wiry. He tugged at it there, and Doyle tossed his head against the back of the chair, eyes squeezed shut, chest heaving. A film of perspiration glistened on his skin now and Bodie leaned forward to lap at his belly, licking into his navel and feeling his muscles ripple while his fingers stroked deeply behind his balls, where his prostate was alive.
Soft curses were panting helplessly from Doyle's lips now, and Bodie knew he could not take much more. He sat back on his heels, smiling fondly at the reed-slim figure sprawled in the chair, arms and legs spread wide, face flushed, giving himself totally into the care of his --
His lover. The word brought a new rush of heat to Bodie's face. He took Doyle's hand in his, kissed the palms and pulled him upright. Ray seemed to come awake but his eyes were clouded and almost blind.
The rug beneath Bodie's knees was deep, soft and shaggy, and he yanked a scatter cushion off the nearby sofa, coaxing Doyle out of the chair and onto the hearthrug. He bent to kiss his mouth. Ray clung to him, rolling sideways to rub his burning cock against the cool solidarity of Bodie's flank, and Bodie found the tickle of the rug on his own cock nearly unbearable.
He couldn't wait much longer. He had already tortured Ray with pleasure for ten minutes or more, and he wanted to do it right. Doyle was a virgin. If he was going to want it again, it had to be good. Bodie ached to have Ray inside him -- holding him down, sitting on him, kneeling, standing, any way, every way -- but that belonged to other times. He rolled Ray flat on his back, and Doyle spread his legs without being urged. Bodie could have pounced right then and there, but checked himself with a supreme effort of will as his thoughts began to grow dislocated and vague.
A trickle of viscous, milky fluid lay on his left thigh and he scooped up the pre-ejaculate, moistening himself with trembling fingers and then moistening Ray. Doyle whimpered as he felt the pressure at his anus. One finger, two, slick and intrusive, strange but not hurting, finding his prostate with twisting caresses until he could not breathe and howled, long and high, like a wild thing.
He'd never felt his before, Bodie thought, and remembered his own first time -- at fifteen, at sea, on the Dog Rose out of Liverpool. He shivered, coming close himself, and removed his fingers. He waited until Ray's eyes blinked open and his breathing steadied a little, then lifted his knees; Doyle took the hint and lifted them higher himself, spreading himself so wide that Bodie knew he would be pulling tendons off his pelvis. But it made it that much easier.
There was a grunt as he entered but he didn't stop, knowing that it got better as the impalement was completed, and soon Doyle was struggling for breath as he fought for control, his cock pressed tightly between their bellies as Bodie went down onto his chest, and rubbing between hot, sweat-slick skin as they rocked together.
The virgin came quickly, five long gushes of scalding semen that splashed up between their chests; Bodie could have gone on longer but he thrust just twice more, hard, quickly bringing himself right to the edge, and let go, shuddering before the convulsions had faded from Ray's quivering body. Doyle gasped again as his lover pulsed inside of him, so hot as to take his breath away. The pressure lessened as Bodie quickly softened, and as they began to stir, he withdrew.
It was only then that Ray noticed his hips and buttocks felt pulped, and that the very center of him was raw. He yelped, swinging his knees together as Bodie gathered him into a close, sticky embrace and kissed him tenderly. "Are we still on speaking terms, my lad?" Bodie murmured against his ear.
"We're fantastic," Ray panted. "God, Bodie, why didn't you tell me it's like this?"
"You never asked." Bodie licked his ear, nibbled at the lobe. "Reckon you might want me again?"
Ray chuckled deep in his chest. "Don't ask silly questions." He rolled over onto his stomach, pulled the cushion under his cheek and muffled, "put the lights off. I'm tired."
"How about going to bed?" Bodie smiled, tracing the curve of his spine and caressing his buttocks.
"Whaa--?" Doyle yawned.
Too late, he was gone -- and Bodie not far behind. He sighed, got up and padded into the bedroom; he pulled the quilt off the bed and tucked a pillow under his arm. Then he returned to the lounge, put out the light, turned up the thermostat on the gas heater that stood in the hearth, lay down beside his sleeping lover and tucked the quilt around both of them. Doyle heaved a deep sigh of satisfied contentment and shuffled into his arms; then he went out like a light.
Bodie was asleep thirty seconds later.
Before he woke Bodie was worried; the fretting haunted his dreams -- Ray was sniping at him, harsh words, arguments, vicious verbal fighting. He came awake with a start, his back aching -- little wonder. Floors were not the greatest places to sleep. It was very early; daylight was still delicate beyond the drapes. He groaned, and then he discovered what it was that had wakened him.
A draft blew onto the back of his neck, freezing him because the skin there was wet. Which meant that Doyle had licked him. Which meant -- Almost terrified, he rolled over to face the music, and if he had not already been prone he might have collapsed in relief. The green eyes were dancing, and even if that face did need a shave, it was beautiful.
"Morning, love," Bodie ventured cautiously.
"Morning yourself," Ray said throatily. "I can't have been smashed last night because I haven't got a hangover and there aren't any empty bottles around here. Right?"
"Right." Bodie averted his eyes, colouring a little. God, it he ever got to know the truth--
"So I must have gone to the slaughter knowingly. Right?"
"Right," Bodie nodded.
"But I was flying," Ray said, tone husky. "I mean, I let go like I've never let go in years -- too much tension in me... Flying, Bodie. And happy landings, too, eh?"
"So what do you feel like?: Bodie asked quietly. "I wasn't rough."
Doyle gave him a smile that was gentle. "Stiff. Sore. Bloody marvelous. Best I've had it in years. Oh, don't go all smug on me. I know I didn't do much for you but, Christ, what d' you want out of a virgin?"
"That special thing only a virgin can give," Bodie said, and affection softened his tone as he tousled the curls. "Your first time. You didn't have to do a bloody thing, Ray. Just be there and say 'yes' to me. And that you did." He smiled. "I, er, gather you liked it."
A filthy chuckle escaped Doyle's lips by way of an answer.
"Want to do it again?"
Another filthy chuckle. "Christmas came early this year," Ray grinned. "I always wondered what it felt like to be a woman -- you know -- go down on your back and open up and all that... I don't suppose it feels even a bit the same for them but, well, lemme put it this way. You won't have to club me on the nut and drag me by the hair, Bodie."
"Oh, the caveman routine turns you on," Bodie chortled.
"No, twit. That's not what I said! I just said, I liked it, I fancy you like blazes and... I dunno, I'm awful attached to you, somehow."
Bodie gaped at him. "For an artist, you're bloody stingy with your endearments."
"How d' you mean?"
"Tell me you're fond of me. Tell me you care for me. For crying out loud, we've been trying to lay down our lives for each other for years--"
"Whereas now we're just laying each other." Ray smiled. "'Greater love hath no man than that he lay down his life for his fellow.' Mm. What's that tell us? There's a four letter key word in there somewhere."
"Oooh, you bloody rotten tease," Bodie said ruefully, boxing Ray's ears gently. "All right, don't say it today. But I'm going to lay you till you do."
"Promise?" Doyle laughed delightedly.
"Threat," Bodie corrected. "So watch out. What about some breckie?"
"I'll make it," Ray offered, levering himself to his feet. "Got to get myself moving... Good thing I wasn't smashed last night. Or stoned, or anything. Isn't it?"
And Bodie's colour deepened by a shade or two. There was a note in Ray's husky voice that was teasing. It bothered him for hours until, searching for his keys, he pulled out the plastic bag containing the remaining capsule of Ecstasy out of his pocket. Seeing it, his mouth dried: there was a little slip of paper in the bag as well as the capsule.
His fingers shook as he unfolded it. It was Doyle's hand, in pencil -- the pencil out of Bodie's notebook, from his pants pocket: "this fell out of your slacks on the carpet -- found it before I woke you. So that's Ecstasy, is it? Recognised the colour and the effects soon as I saw it. Thanks. Never had the guts to do that. Why did you? Glad you did though. Pop this one yourself next time and I'll do you instead. Love, Ray."
Bodie's jaw dropped for a moment then, in the middle of the street, he threw his head back and guffawed.
-- THE END --