Stevens was good at his job, but it wasn't like it was with Bodie. It made Doyle realise that when he and Bodie were together they'd always had a telepathy going between them... understanding each other instinctively, not needing words to work out a plan of action, relying on the uncanny trust each held in the other, a quick look or signal saying everything that needed to be said.
He leaned back in the passenger seat of the car, face somber lulled by the steady purr of the engine. Stevens drove well, that was one thing in his favour, with none of the erratic flamboyance that sometimes characterised Bodie's driving.
He glanced across at Stevens' firm, grave face. He was a handsome man, ironically enough not unlike Bodie, with something of the same, sometimes aggravating smoothness. The features were all too perfect... thirtyish, self-contained, experienced and apparently unflappable. In the five months they'd worked together Doyle had never seen him so much as hesitate. He was dependable, trustworthy, had everything going for him. And yet it wasn't like it was with Bodie, and Doyle had realised it never would be.
With time and perseverance, Doyle knew he'd succeeded in getting through Bodie's suave exterior to the real person underneath. And Bodie had known it to, however much he pretended otherwise.
Oh, everything was still always very businesslike on the surface even with all the joking around as a necessary defense mechanism for both of them when things became really dangerous.
Even so, what they'd had was special. A feeling of rightness with each other, for all the differences in their natures and the fact that they were almost total opposites in almost every respect.
But Bodie had been gone for over six months now. Special man for a special job. Not with CI5, but with the army -- or someone else's army.
Whoever it was, they'd apparently put in a special request for his services, perhaps already knowing of his previous mercenary exploits, and argued long and hard that no one else would do, even when they'd been told Bodie was technically no longer available to them because he was now employed by CI5. In the end Cowley complied, partly out of pride that one of his men had been chosen for such an important job, partly out of wanting and needing to keep the peace. Doyle privately suspected he hadn't much choice anyway, because the request, so he'd been told, had come from the very highest level. He hadn't learned much more than that. All he knew was that Bodie was out of the country and would be gone for at least six months. He guessed Africa, or perhaps somewhere in the Third World. A hell of a long way away...
He shook himself out of his reverie. Stevens had pulled up outside his flat and switched off the engine. It was late and it had been a long day and Doyle was tired, physically aching in at least a dozen places.
Over the last few weeks it had sometimes been difficult to summon up the minimum energy needed for the job. The adrenaline just wasn't flowing as it normally did and he knew his reflexes weren't as quick as they should have been either. He'd have to watch that. Cowley didn't miss much and there was no loyalty in the game. There couldn't be. If he wasn't up to scratch he'd be out...
But the reality of his working situation was beginning to get him down just lately. He wanted things to be different... was disillusioned with the job again he supposed.
It was an old problem -- dreaming instead of accepting things as they were and there was no room for that attitude in CI5. Oh, he knew he was tough and aggressive enough, and right for the job. It wasn't that. But it was as if without Bodie's solid calming influence he lost the balance he so desperately needed to be really good at the job.
He was certainly no longer able to control the moods of depression and dis-satisfaction which often overwhelmed him...
Bodie was so sane and normal in so many ways, and Doyle knew he succeeded in keeping him from becoming too morbid and self-critical most of the time. There was none of that with Stevens of course. They shared only a straightforward, working relationship and were really acquaintances, not friends...
Doyle had never had these problems of readjustment before, whether he'd been fond of his partner or not, and it worried him. When he'd been on the Force he'd changed partners with monotonous regularity, and not always when he'd wanted to either, and never had any kind of difficulty. It seemed Bodie was special... in more ways than one...
He wondered if the unfamiliar lethargy he was experiencing had something to do with missing Bodie too. He wasn't afraid to admit that he was missing him. It was like having lost a part of himself... An emotional ache that only got worse as time went on.
He turned in Stevens' direction, automatically expecting to meet Bodie's suave, cynical grin, shaken when his eyes found Stevens' features instead.
He sighed, managed a wan smile. "It's been a good day."
"Yeah, productive at any rate," Stevens said expressionlessly.
"Feel like a quick drink?" Doyle invited, suddenly not wanting to be alone.
"Can't mate. Got the missus waiting for me at home."
That could have been me, too, Doyle thought, if I'd played my cards right a couple of times. Why have I never followed through and got married? It'd be better than this...
"Yeah, I forgot," he said, feigning unconcern, opening the car door. "OK, see you in the morning."
It was cold as he made his way to the front door and he turned his collar up against the biting wind. One thing was for sure -- it wasn't cold where Bodie was right now. 100 in the shade at least.
He was feeling insecure at he let himself into the darkened flat, found himself thinking of the number of times Bodie had been there. They'd get drunk together here... had girls together here...
And fought, laughed, played, talked seriously together here...
Good times and bad times here...
And besides being worried about Bodie's safety, Doyle was half worried he might never see him again if things worked out wherever he was and thelure of that kind of adventure proved too strong. It was, after all, that Bodie was used to and what he was trained for. And he guessed having been used to that, CI5 in some way could seem very tame by comparison.
He was angry at himself for feeling so insecure. Here he was in CI5, supposedly toughest of the tough and he was mooning about like a kid.
He poured himself a drink irritably, downed it in one, decided he couldn't face the thought of making himself anything to eat at this late hour and went straight to bed, where he slept little, his dreams peopled with faceless enemies, and the heat of the jungle, and the sound of gunfire...
Bodie looked out of the window of the rolling countryside as the plane descended. He was glad he was arriving while it was still light. He always enjoyed the view on this final part of the flight. He didn't like to think of himself as sentimental, but after where he'd been for the past seven months it made a pleasant change to see this kind of scenery.
One of the stewardesses walked past, distracting his attention. He automatically gave her one of his smoothest smiles, but she flushed in embarrassment and looked away.
Yeah, well, she's young, he chided himself, stick to your usual type. Still, she was pretty and if he got the chance he'd chat her up before the plane landed.
Seven months -- a long time. It felt like a lifetime. He wasn't sure of his feelings now he was almost home. Ambivalent they certainly were. But he'd enjoyed this assignment and he'd relished getting back into the tough army routine -- the camaraderie... the adventure... the danger...
But he'd got himself back into a few bad habits over there too. One in particular which disturbed him more than the rest, that he thought he'd left behind for good several years ago.
So what? It hurt no one, there were no noticeable emotions involved, no hassles, it was simply a way of relieving physical need and the build-up of tension, but there was more to it than that, at least as far as he was concerned, and he was determined not to get back into that scene again now he was home.
It had certainly been tough. There was still nothing quite like it. And that was going to be another problem...getting back to the day to day routine. CI5 action just wasn't the same, rarely had the same sense of immediancy, and it wouldn't be easy to make the adjustment. And yet he wasn't sorry to be back. It meant he'd see Ray again. He'd missed Ray Doyle. His mind had been fully occupied every minute of every day and he's still missed him.
Not that he was happy about that. It showed all the danger signs of an attachment and Bodie cultivated no attachments of any kind.
He had no idea what would have happen when he got back. Nothing definite had been said. For all he knew he'd be assigned a new partner, and that thought didn't please him either. Most of the pleasure he'd got from the job had come from working with Doyle, and from looking after him, whenever Doyle had allowed it.
It all depended on who Cowley had teamed Doyle with all these months of course. If they'd worked well together, Bodie knew he'd have no chance of getting back with him, and that was yet another worry. He knew his relationship with Doyle was special, that it would be nigh impossible for either of them to fit so well with anyone else, but Cowley wouldn't be concerned with that. As long as the job was done efficiently, he wouldn't quibble, and Doyle was so good Bodie could envisage him working with practically anyone and succeeding to an acceptable standard. Fearless, that was the word to describe Ray. Occasionally too fearless, Bodie remembered. Reckless and impulsive as well, but in their job those characteristics could be counted as plusses too.
There'd been times in the past seven months he'd wanted Doyle so badly and been so lonely for him, he hadn't known what to do with himself. He'd never been able to simply talk to anyone the way he could talk to Doyle. It still amazed him at times to think how he found it possible to open up to with him, at lest some of the way. He'd told Ray things about himself he'd never told another living soul. But that was the thing with Ray. For all of his air of often cool detachment, he had the knack of being able to give of himself to others. And he was loyal too. Bodie had often felt he could trust him with anything. He'd never known that before and it was very precious to him.
He turned his head to discover that the pretty stewardess was leaning over him asking him to fasten his seatbelt. Very nice she was too. She smelt of a number of good things and Bodie's nostrils flared in appreciation. He decided to be kind and didn't flash her his special smile again. No sense in embarrassing the girl a second time. He gave her the toned down version instead, but she still blushed...
He decided not to chat her up after all. Too much like hard work. There'd be other flights, other stewardesses, and he wasn't in the mood, his thoughts running too much on Doyle to be bothered.
As he went through customs he wondered if anyone had told Ray he was arriving today. They couldn't have done because he was nowhere to be seen.
He checked that thought as soon has it entered his head. He was breaking one of his most hard and fast rules. Never expect anything from anyone, even from Ray, and that way he'd never be disappointed. It was a Saturday afternoon anyway. Ray'd be busy, probably with a girl if he wasn't working. It was crazy to take it for granted he'd even want to see him.
When he got in the taxi outside the airport he automatically gave his own address, but as they got to the outskirts of London he knew he wanted to see Ray too much, even at the risk of barging in when he wasn't wanted, and gave the driver Ray's address instead.
Be just like him to have moved again, he thought, amused, as he settled back in his seat, heart pounding a little at the prospect of finally seeing him again. Christ, what did it matter? It had been seven months. Ray wouldn't hold it against him even if he was otherwise engaged.
But he wasn't. A second after he'd opened the door Doyle grabbed hold of him and hugged him so hard Bodie was sure his ribs would break. He was taken aback. Doyle wasn't normally this demonstrative.
And God, it felt good -- the warmth of that firm, slim body, and the curly head brushing against his cheek.
"Hey, what's all this about?" he managed indulgently, amazed his voice sounded so calm, "like something out of a Victorian novel."
"Typical," Doyle retorted, voice muffled against his shoulder, "why the hell didn't you let me know when you were coming back?" He stepped back, holding Bodie at arms' length, having a good look at him.
"So I could have this kind of welcome?" Bodie suggested jokingly, masking his emotions as best he could. He hadn't expected seeing Ray again to have quite such a strong effect on him, even though he'd missed him so much.
Doyle picked up one of his cases and led the way inside.
"Not interrupted anything, have I?" Bodie asked wickedly, looking around as he closed the door behind him.
"Chance'd be a fine thing," Doyle said moodily.
"Gettin' a bit thin on the ground, are they?" Bodie went on, "wouldn't listen, would you? Told you they don't wanna know you past a certain age."
Doyle put the case down and threw a handy cushion at him, but missed.
"Out of practice, sunshine," Bodie said, unperturbed.
Doyle flopped down on the sofa with a chuckle. "Yeah, things've changed," melodramatically, "think I'll have to start dyeing my hair."
"Can't wait to see that," Bodie said casually, sitting next to him.
But Bodie was feeling strangely selfconscious. In addition to the over-emotional welcome, which had more or less taken his breath away, Doyle was now looking at him in a very... well, in a very appreciative sort of way. Not far moved from the sort of approving look Bodie'd seen him give some of his girlfriends. It was so unlike Ray too. Bodie couldn't figure it out because he'd never known anyone who seemed as immune to their own sex as Ray was.
They looked at each other for a couple of moments in awkward silence.
"I like the suntan," Doyle said at last, for want of something, anything to say.
Ah, so that's it, Bodie thought, relieved. He's just never seen me with a bit of colour before, and he likes it. He hadn't even given it any thought. He'd had the suntan for so long now he hadn't been aware of any difference.
"Courtesy of the army," he said dismissively, noting that Doyle was still looking at him in that... disturbing way. Bodie decided the sooner he stopped looking at him like that the better it'd be for the both of them.
Perhaps Doyle sensed his unease because he looked away from him and then stood up. "Drink?"
"Yeah, go on then. A small one."
He studied Doyle as he poured the drinks. Funny how many seemingly new details you noticed when you saw someone again after a reasonably long absence. You noticed things you normally wouldn't have thought twice about if you saw them every day. Now, as he watched Doyle, Bodie saw, as if for the first time, just how slim and inviting those jean-clad hips were, how firm the small neat ass, how thick and luxuriant Doyle's hair was, and how the curls pressed inwards at the nape of his neck in clustering confusion, as if they were just begging for a firm, capable hand to run through them and lift them free of Doyle's collar -- noticed how small and almost delicate Doyle's hands were, notwithstanding the length of the slim, tapering fingers and how soft the down that showed at his throat and wrists.
But Doyle looked suddenly older to him too. He looked worn and weary and very tired -- new threads of grey in the auburn hair and harsh new lines of tensions round the full mouth. It looked in fact like Doyle hadn't had an easy time of it while he'd been away. He'd have to ask him about that. Bodie didn't like to think of Cowley overworking his partner, but that was undoubtedly what the old man must have been doing for Doyle to look like this. Fiercely protective of Doyle as ever, Bodie found he was very angry about it.
The unruly, erotic thoughts were bothering him too, and he was angry with himself for even thinking them. Christ, this was Ray, his partner, you didn't start thinking about your partner like this if you knew what was good for you.
He realised some of the experiences he'd have over the last seven months must have left an impression, and probably had a lot to do with his being so turned on to Doyle now -- his awareness of other men had inevitably been heightened. And, he'd have to get over it -- fast -- or it could turn into a problem -- at least where Ray was concerned. The best solution would be a girl, any girl, and the sooner the better. Maybe he should have perservered and made a date with the shy air hostess after all.
"Does Cowley know you're back?" Doyle asked, bringing Bodie back to the present with a jolt as he returned with the drinks. He sat close to Bodie on the sofa, one jean-clad thigh brushing innocently against Bodie's as he sat down. The hot contact sent an unexpected shock of pleasure along Bodie's spine. Worried, he edged away slightly.
"Expect so," he said casually, determined not to let Doyle know how worried he was about the possibility of not being re-teamed with him, "isn't much he doesn't know, is there?"
He paused, remembering... "Oh, by the way..." In confusion and pleasure of seeing Doyle again, he'd almost forgotten. He bent down, undid the case by the sofa, rummaged inside it and threw a small package casually into Doyle's lap. "Try that for size."
He knew Doyle loved to get presents, and had to subdue an indulgent smile as he saw the green eyes light up, and watched him fumble with the wrapping, eager to see what was inside, for all the world like a kid on Christmas morning.
It was a necklace, a thin strand of gold with a weird looking kind of ivory charm dangling from it. Doyle looked up questioningly, holding it in his hand. Bodie managed to keep his face straight as he took in Doyle's bemused expression. He'd been looking forward to this, was determined not to give the game away.
"Leopard's tooth," he said, with a perfectly straight face, "legend has it that if you hang it from the bedpost at the appropriate moment it does wonders for your virility. Sounds like you need it too from what you've told me."
"What an imagination..." Doyle said, laughing softly, shaking his head at him, "dunno where you get these stories from..."
"S'true, I tell you," Bodie said, pretending offense. "I dunno Ray, I go to all the trouble of gettin' it for you... wasn't easy you know, and this is all the thanks I get for it."
"Oh yeah?" Doyle queried disbelievingly, still laughing. "OK, I'll let you know if it does the trick," knowing he wouldn't get anymore out of Bodie at the moment. But it was just the kind of jokey present he'd expected, and the charm was even rather attractive in a strange kind of way. It was certainly unusual. He rather liked it, in fact, and one thing was for sure -- no one else'd have one quite like it.
"Oh, it'll do the trick all right," Bodie was saying with great confidence, smiling cheekily at him. "I have it on the highest authority, it's specially designed for hopeless cases."
This time Doyle's aim was better and the cushion hit Bodie full in the face.
"You look well," Doyle observed, as Bodie neatly replaced the cushion on the sofa. He did. He'd lost weight and looked fit and healthy, and the suntan suited him, emphasizing the deep blue of his eyes. His hair was slightly longer than Doyle was used to seeing it too, and had been bleached a couple of shades lighter by the sun. In fact, Bodie was looking very attractive at the moment.
It occurred to Doyle he'd never before noticed just what an attractive man Bodie was. Oh, he'd recognized his partner was good looking all right, just never paid any attention to it before. But now he came to think of it, it really was an impossibly handsome face, with almost perfect features. And as for the cheeky smile Bodie was giving him, Doyle considered it'd melt a block of ice with no trouble at all. It had even been known to melt Cowley on occasion, he remembered, and that was the severest test Doyle could think of, though he suspected Cowley had a soft spot for Bodie anyway.
And he was suddenly to happy to see Bodie again, he had the urge to fling his arms round him and hold him very tight. Notion, of course. He could just imagine Bodie's face if he did it. He'd give him that oh so superior, smug expression, and then probably throw a fit... but if nothing else, it was pleasant to think about it. To speculate a little. He'd been doing quite a lot of speculating about Bodie just recently.
"Course I look well," Bodie was saying, "it's all this fresh air I've been getting." He paused. "You, on the other hand, look knackered." He noticed Doyle looked a bit worried by that. "I'm OK," Doyle said, shrugging it off.
"Been working you hard, has he?" Bodie said softly, sounding concerned.
Doyle shrugged again. "The usual. I've been with Stevens. He's new. You wouldn't know him."
"What's he like?" he asked, taking a long swig of his drink.
Doyle smiled. "Oh, he's OK. Not the same as being with you though. Hard to get used to someone else."
"Well, of course," Bodie said with typical arrogance, as if it were a foregone conclusion no one could be as good as him.
Doyle chuckled. "I see you haven't changed."
Bodie as yet, hadn't said anything about exactly what he'd been doing for the last seven months, so Doyle asked, "Was it tough out there?"
Bodie shook his head. "Nah... no more than you'd expect. Enjoyed it... lots of action." He sighed, gave Doyle an apologetic look. "Sorry mate, stupid I know and it's classified, even where you're concerned."
Doyle hadn't expected him to be able to tell him anyway. But Bodie still hadn't given any indication he was home to stay, and that was what Doyle was really worried about. He'd surprised even himself by missing Bodie so much, and by the intensity of his reaction to seeing him today. And the thought of Bodie going away again didn't please him at all. From the bright-eyed, healthy look of him, it seemed the last seven months had agreed with him, and Doyle found that worrying. He didn't want to be without Bodie ever again.
"You any plans to go back there?" he asked, needing to know the answer, however unsatisfactory it might be.
Bodie recognized the uncertainty in his voice and could have hugged him for it. "You must be joking," he said disparagingly, "there's easier ways of earning a living you know."
"So you're back with us for good?" Doyle asked with a new, hopeful note in his voice.
"Far as I know," Bodie said.
As usual he couldn't bring himself to say it -- couldn't allow himself to be vulnerable by asking if Doyle wanted him back, obvious as it was that Doyle did. And as it had always been in the past, he waited until Doyle did it for him. It saddened Bodie that it was always like this between them, but he couldn't help it.
"You gonna ask to be re-teamed with me?" he heard Doyle ask.
"Sure. Friend Stevens'll have to go," Bodie said with an air of confidence.
Doyle smiled at him. It was a very sweet smile and turned Bodie's insides to water. "Thank God for that."
Somewhat overcome, Bodie picked up the cushion Doyle had thrown at him earlier on, looking down at it rather than at Doyle, running his hand over it, smoothing non-existent wrinkles from its surface.
"Why? Thought he was OK?" he probed, fishing, the irrational jealousy sweeping over him again at the very mention of Stevens' name.
"Oh yeah, he's fine... but he's not you," Doyle said straight away, "missed you, you know, you aggravating sod."
Bodie knew this was the perfect moment to start making amends for all the times in the past when he should have been more open with Doyle. Yet it was taking him all his time not to make a joke of it and change the subject. Emotional involvement scared him so much, even with Doyle, but he sensed Ray had always know that anyway, and that was why he was prepared to be so patient with him.
But there was a curiously tense atmosphere between them, and it was only making things more difficult.
He put the cushion down, propping it against the back of the sofa again, and managed a compromise. "Yeah," he said, "missed you a lot, sunshine."
At least it was a start...
But his words seemed to have surprised Doyle. He was looking at him with what Bodie considered to be a curious expression anyway -- pleased but puzzled.
"I was wrong," Doyle said softly, "you have changed. You'd never have said anything like that a year ago."
The suddenly intimate tone of his voice was doing very strange things to Bodie's insides. Almost like... a lover's tone of voice -- crazy to even think it but it was the nearest approximation Bodie could make. And Doyle looked so appealing, perched there on the sofa, with his arm resting casually on a cushion, looking ridiculously sexy... was making Bodie feel very ill at ease.
"Yeah, well, you know what they say," he said glibly, "absence makes the heart grow fonder."
"Oh, I'd agree with that," Doyle said even more softly, and so sexily Bodie could hardly believe it. He swallowed nervously, wondered disbelievingly if it could be at all possible Doyle was giving him the come on.
Doyle suddenly stood up, pointed to his empty glass. "Another?"
"OK." Bodie handed it over with a shaking hand. Their hands touched as Doyle took the glass from him, and it was like an electric shock through Bodie's system. He knew Doyle had to have sensed it too.
"So we'll go and see Cowley about this then, shall we?" Doyle said as he fixed the drinks.
"Yeah. Tomorrow?" Bodie said, trying to recover, having decided the best thing he could do was make up any excuse that'd allow him to leave before this got out of hand.
Doyle had sat down again and was cradling his drink, head bent, apparently thinking hard, but he suddenly put the glass down and, without warning, reached for Bodie and hugged him. "Welcome home," he said softly, "means a lot you know."
Bodie was so taken unawares it never occurred to him to pull away and by the time it had occurred to him he'd decided there was no way he was gonna let go. So he carried right on holding Doyle, drinking in the clean, fresh scent of him, enjoying the combination of softness and hardness in the slim, firm body -- so different from what it had been like over the past few months, when any physical pleasure there must have been always overlaid by the heat and the dirt, and the desperate savagery of it all.
He closed his eyes and tightened his hold on Doyle, the feel of the lithe, familiar body helping to dispel the memories he was now so ashamed of.
He felt Doyle's hand stroking the back of his head. The Doyle pressed his cheek against his, the feel of roughness against him, corresponding roughness making Bodie tingle with excitement.
Knowing it was Doyle who was doing this to him made it an even more incredible sensation -- unlike anything he'd ever experienced with any man. These small gestures of affection usually meant so little between men, if they occurred at all, but with Ray -- he savoured every second of contact, whether it led to anything else or not. He concentrated on it hard, imprinting it on his memory, still hardly dared to believe it was happening.
"What have I done to deserve this?" Doyle asked. "Isn't like you."
"Yeah, well, it's been seven months," Bodie said as offhandedly as he could. "I'm prepared to be generous."
"Gone really off the job, you know," Doyle admitted, "no good without you."
Bodie had the distinct impression Doyle might even be attempting to woo him, and it felt wonderful.
"Course you have," he agreed, purposefully flippant, "hopeless when you haven't got me to look after you."
"Arrogant bastard," Doyle whispered, in the same tone of voice he might have used to tell Bodie he loved him.
Things were finally and very definitely getting out of hand. Bodie could feel the familiar sweet tightening in his groin and knew he was almost lost, forced himself to move away, sitting back on the sofa.
"Yeah, we're pretty close, you and I," he said thickly.
"Pretty close," Doyle agreed, eyes holding his, "think we're gonna be closer."
Bodie couldn't stop himself from flushing. "What's that suppose to mean?" he asked, immediately on the defensive.
"Don't pretend you don't know what I'm talking about, Bodie, 'c I know you do," Doyle said, "there's something there between us, so don't deny it. Maybe it's always been there, and it took being apart of realise it, but it's there all right."
"Look, just because there aren't any girls on the horizon at the moment, Casanova, don't start thinkin' you can have me as second best," Bodie joked, scared to death.
Doyle laughed dutifully, but his face quickly became serious again, not wanting to let Bodie off the hook. If he did he might never have a second chance. "Think we might be heading in that direction?" he asked, "just so that I know?"
Bodie looked away, shaking his head.
"Tell me it's all in my imagination then."
"Sure," Bodie said reasonably enough, "it's all in you imagination Ray."
"Supposing it wasn't though," Doyle speculated, watching him, "wouldn't be the first time, would it?"
Bodie's flush deepened. "What? For me?"
"Yeah," Doyle nodded, keeping his voice soft as it had been throughout the conversation, "I've never slept with a man, but I get the feeling you have."
When you were backed into a corner, Bodie supposed the only thing you could do was admit defeat, and strange as it seemed, he suddenly didn't mind admitting this to Doyle.
Christ, Ray had as much as admitted he was attracted to him, hadn't he? It wasn't as if he was gonna be outraged or anything.
"That obvious, eh?"
Doyle shook his head, shrugged. "Only to me. I've sensed it... just knew somehow."
He slid along the sofa, moving closer. "Supposing I told you I'd been doing' a lot of thinking while you were away, and I'd found I wanted you... needed you in that way. How'd you react to that?"
"Feel like a bloody fool for having brought you that necklace back," Bodie said vehemently.
It was still lying on the coffee table where Doyle had left it. Doyle picked it up and ran the chain through his fingers, toying with it. Then, with a deliberately impish, challenging look in Bodie's direction, he slipped it over his head. The chain was long enough and the charm rested over his shirt, halfway down his chest.
"Leopard's tooth," he said softly, disparagingly, "dunno who you think you're trying to kid."
His action had given them both a little breathing space and Bodie was smiling by this time. "Don't believe me, do you? S'true, I tell you."
"Maybe," Doyle teased, "doesn't seem to be having much of an effect at the moment though, does it?"
"Supposed to make you good in bed, not make you more attractive," Bodie said patiently, "not that you need anything to make you more attractive," running his hand over Doyle's cheek, "you'll do as you are."
"So?" Doyle challenged, "you gonna call my bluff, Bodie? Gonna test it and see? Come on, never imagined you'd be backward at coming aforward."
Bodie was amazed at Doyle's confidence. By his own admission, he'd never even considered doing anything like this before, and yet he'd swear he was finding this more difficult than Ray was. Yeah, Ray could be very determined when he wanted something badly enough, and remarkable as it still seemed to Bodie, it was clear he wanted him.
"Yeah, but this is you, sunshine," he said, "not so easy... big difference with you."
"No, there isn't," Doyle disagreed, still with that same confidence in his voice, "come here and I'll show you. Just remember I'm gonna need your help... this is all very new to me..."
"Not that new surely?" Bodie said softly, a hand tangling in Doyle's hair to draw him close for a first, light kiss, lips nuzzling close-mouthed over Doyle's.
"That's not so different from being with a woman, is it?" he asked as he drew back.
"No," Doyle said shakily. The kiss had been a surprise. He hadn't expected it. He wasn't sure why but he'd automatically taken it for granted such a gentle approach wasn't appropriate between men, that it was something he shouldn't expect, even from Bodie.
Bodie had made no move to touch him again and the dark eyes looked suddenly terrified. Doyle couldn't quite understand his hesitation. If either of them were scared, logically, it should have been him. He was the one lacking in experience, wasn't he?
As if answering his unspoken question Bodie said, "Bit worried about this you know... of maybe forcing you to do things that don't feel right for you."
"You're crazy," Doyle said gently, "come on, Bodie, this is me, remember... Ray Doyle... I'm no shrinking violet... I'm your partner, and I want you, OK? Let me show you just how much I want you."
He stood up, taking hold of Bodie's hand pulling him up with him, "Bedroom..."
Once they were there it was obvious Bodie was still playing for time. He pulled Doyle against him, holding him, hands gliding down his back to his buttocks, easing him closer and moulding their bodies together, but he did nothing else, only lowered Doyle's head to his shoulder, running his hands through his hair, needing a little longer to come to terms with what was happening between them.
His feelings were so strong he knew he could so easily make a mess of this -- get it wrong -- lose control so he didn't take it slowly or carefully enough, not making it good enough for Doyle. And this first time, it was so important to him that it be right and good for Doyle -- something Doyle would always remember.
Doyle drew away from him, whispered, "Hang on a minute," and pulled the charm over his head, walking over to the bed with it.
Bodie watched as Doyle hooked the necklace over the headboard, settling it there almost reverently, with the utmost precision, readjusting its position slightly till he was satisfied, and then standing back to admire his handiwork, head to one side giving a final seal of approval.
He nodded and turned back to Bodie with a cheeky grin. No wonder the grin was so cheeky. Bodie noticed the charm had been carefully placed on his side of the bed.
"OK?" Doyle asked, moving back into his arms.
"Now you're calling my bluff," Bodie said softly, "What if it doesn't work?"
"Don't worry, sunshine... it'll work..." Doyle said very confidently as he pulled Bodie down on the bed beside him.
A long time later a husky voice snuggled under the covers of Doyle's bed, and from somewhere in the region of Bodie's left shoulder, said with grudging admiration, "OK Bodie, I believe you.."
"What?" Bodie's voice queried sleepily.
"What you said about the necklace. I believe you."
"Yeah, after all that I think I'm beginning to believe it myself," Bodie observed. "Christ Ray, where did you learn all that?"
"From you," Doyle said, "and from missing you all those months you were away and realising how much I wanted you."
Bodie looked down at him, studying him in great detail. "You all right?"
"Don't I look all right?"
"Yeah, you look wonderful. All cheeky and tousled and bright eyed. But are you really all right?"
"Sound as if you don't believe I could be. What d' you think you're supposed to have done to me, for God's sake? Ruined me for sex for the rest of my life?"
"Yeah, well, it was a bit wild."
"I seem to remember I was just as wild as you."
"Yeah, you were, now I come to think to think of it. Maybe there's something to that necklace after all," Bodie observed thoughtfully.
"We were supposed to be going to see Cowley tomorrow, weren't we?" Doyle said, taking a long, lazy kiss.
"Mmmm, mmm," Bodie agreed when the kiss was over.
"Well, how about goin' to see him on Monday instead?" Doyle suggested, nip kissing his way down Bodie's throat and chest.
"Yeah, why not?" Bodie sighed, shifting into a more comfortable position next to Doyle, "we're gonna have to be good actors after this, you know."
"Oh, we will be," Doyle assured him, "hey you really are tan all over, aren't you? Beautiful..."
"Oh yeah, all nude sunbathin' over there," Bodie said dryly.
"Just as well we're gonna see Cowley on Monday instead," Doyle added.
"Looks like we're gonna be busy the rest of today and tomorrow doesn't it?" Doyle pointed out.
"Looks like it," Bodie agreed, "what's the weekend for anyway. Didn't have anything lined up, did you?"
"No, only you...?" Doyle assured him some time later, with an impish grin, when be was sure Bodie had fallen asleep and wouldn't hear what he was saying.
-- THE END --