Blood of the Lamb
by Lezlie Conch
Ray Doyle jammed the knife into the lock on the desk drawer. When careful finagling failed, he resorted to brute force. The wood splintered under the assault, but the lock finally broke. He jerked the drawer open, belatedly noticing the mess he'd made of Bodie's desk.
The overwhelming guilt engendered was deeply felt, but the moment passed.
He overturned the drawer, spilling the contents over the desktop, and began to sift through the jumble. It was a brutal process. Routine bills and adverts quickly went into the no-interest pile, though rarely in their original condition and never in their original envelopes. The personal letters and other communications that caught his eye joined the pile of papers and personal effects collected from the rest of the flat. After every scrap of paper had been examined, he abandoned the desk, taking only what interested him. He left the overturned drawer on the floor, the papers strewn over the desktop, and settled himself on the settee to sort through the evidence. Slow and careful, he told himself, no snap decisions. After all, there could be no appeal.
It took 15 minutes.
Bodie unlocked his flat and walked into utter chaos. The place had obviously been done over by professionals. Books were pulled from the shelves, furniture was disarranged, and what had been in his desk was now on it. He was lunging for the phone, bending for it technically--since it was on the floor beside the overturned table--when his partner sauntered out of the kitchen.
"Christ, Doyle, when did this happen? And why wasn't I called?"
Doyle took a swig of beer and looked around the room, as if just noticing its condition. "I had to be thorough."
"You did this?" An all-too-familiar tingling began in his hands. It happened every time he wanted to strangle Doyle. "Would you care to explain yourself?"
"You're the one with the explaining to do."
Bodie addressed the heavens, much in the manner Jonah must have and the whale might have. "What did I do to deserve this?" There was no answer. Instead, he righted his favorite chair and flopped into it. "Get me a beer, then start at the beginning."
Doyle tilted his bottle and drained the last few drops. "You're out of beer." He sat on the settee and propped his muddy feet on the table.
Bodie gripped the arms of the chair until the tingling passed. "I could kill you for that."
"But you won't."
"Don't be so sure." Bodie used his best threatening voice, even throwing in a darkly dangerous glare.
Doyle laughed. "Oh, yeah, I keep forgetting your reputation. You like people to think Genghis Khan was a direct ancestor, don't you? Bodie-Khan--cardcarrying member of the Mongol horde."
"Sounds like you need a reminder."
"You're a fake," Doyle sneered. "I know exactly what you are." A pile of envelopes was thrown on the table. "You're sensitive!"
"Sensitive! Who are you calling sen..." Bodie's voice trailed off when he saw the return address of the top envelope. Greenpeace. "I donated a few quid as a legopener for Melissa." A filthy chuckle followed. "It worked a treat."
Doyle silently handed him another envelope.
"So I send a few quid every month to a starving kid--"
"Six kids," Doyle corrected as he carefully placed pictures of six grateful, smiling children on the table.
Bodie took a deep breath. "I thought I was paying child support. I've screwed my way around the world, mate."
Doyle picked up the rest of the envelopes and read off the names, tossing each one towards Bodie when he finished. "Committee for a Nuclear Free Future, Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the Wildlife Preservation Fund," his voice rose in disbelief, "Women's Equality League." The recitation halted. "Do I need to continue?"
Bodie hung his head. Doyle had him dead to rights.
"How could this happen?" Doyle asked. "I mean, you were a mercenary in Angola, for Christ's sake!"
"Not exactly," Bodie muttered bleakly.
"What's that supposed to mean?"
He shifted uncomfortably. "I was in Africa, but I wasn't exactly...a mercenary."
"What?" There was a dangerous look in Doyle's eye.
"I was a...well...." He ducked his head, mumbling under his breath.
Bodie clenched his jaw. "A missionary."
Doyle's eyes bugged as his jaw hit his chest. Finally a nervous chuckle broke the shocked silence. "That's a good one, mate. You really had me goin'."
"It wasn't a joke." It was time to come clean. It was strange, but he felt relieved. The pretending was over.
No longer would he have to utter crude, sexist remarks; feign indifference to the suffering of his fellow man; or react stonily after slaughtering criminals whose only real crime was coming from a bad socio-economic background--at least in front of Doyle. To the rest of the world he had to remain Bodie the Merciless, but with Doyle, he could be himself.
"I went to get away from my father. He was third generation army and was determined that I was going to be the fourth. But I didn't want any of it. I wanted to be a hairdresser." A groan of misery told him he still had Doyle's attention. "He wouldn't sign the papers to let me take the apprenticeship, so I ran away--"
"To join the missionaries?" There was more than an edge of disbelief in Doyle's voice. "I've never even seen you go to church."
"Do all that is in thine heart. First Samuel 14:7."
Doyle looked stricken.
Despite his misery Bodie had to chuckle. "Don't worry, I'm not going to convert you. We helped out at a medical station mostly, but I handed out my share of Bibles."
"Krivas!" Doyle threw the name out as a challenge. "There's no way that animal was a missionary!"
"At first he was. Krivas was with one of the American groups," he explained patiently, "and a thoroughly bad lot they were. They were funded by one of those American preachers on the telly. They had tons of money, but not much of it reached the natives. The blokes spent most of it on themselves. Air conditioned huts, catering, a putting green, and a pool. Finally Krivas got sucked into the black market, trading penicillin for ammo, then selling the ammo to the guerrillas."
"So why did he hate your guts?"
"It was...The Game." Bodie's eyes became haunted.
"Bingo?" Doyle slapped his forehead. "You played bingo in the jungle?"
Bodie sighed. "Yeah, we needed to raise money. Some people took it very seriously."
"Krivas hates you because of a bingo game?" The disbelief was gone, replaced by numb acceptance.
"Yeah, it was a bad situation all around." There was a faraway quality in Bodie's voice, as if he was reliving the events. "I was the caller that night. Doctor Martin had to leave in mid-game. I tried to get his attention before he went out the door--you see, he didn't say who he wanted to play his card."
Bodie could still see the poised, expectant faces waiting for the next number, smell the mix of medicine and jungle rot, taste the tepid fruit punch, feel the little round numbered ball in his fingers. "It all happened so fast. I called out to him, 'Before you go'.
"Suddenly Krivas was shouting 'Bingo.' He thought I was calling B-4, but really--"
"You were saying 'before'. Yeah, I get it." Doyle spat in disgust. Bodie made a mental note to clean it up before the stain set in. "Of all the stupid, ridiculous things--"
"You weren't there, mate. You don't know how ugly bingo can get in the jungle." Doyle looked at him as if he were crazy.
"He got upset," Bodie said defensively. "Krivas was the worst bingo player in Africa. He never won."
"You fought over that?"
Bodie shrugged. "Tempers were short. Besides, we were both after the same nurse."
Doyle suddenly sobered. "Is she the one you loved?"
"Yeah." He was relieved when Doyle didn't pursue the subject. Krivas hadn't exactly shot her in the face. He hadn't shot her at all. But he had lured her off to the City for a dirty weekend.
"This still doesn't make any sense. How did you get from the missionaries to the paras?"
Bodie chuckled. "Chance. When I got tired of the heat and he diseases, I came home, only to find that my father was ill. I told him I'd been in Africa, but I didn't have the heart to tell him I'd been a missionary, so I stretched the truth a little."
Bodie ignored the comment. "Somehow he got the impression I'd been a mercenary." He looked hard at Doyle, hoping to make him understand. "He was an old man, Ray, and it was the first time he'd ever been proud of me."
"The paras?" Doyle prompted.
"Dad called up some old friends, some strings were pulled, and I found myself in the military." Bodie shrugged. "One thing led to another. Everyone knew I was supposed to have been a mercenary, so I had to live up to the part. Luckily I was a fast learner."
There was no way to make Doyle understand the tension of those years, whipsawing between who he really was and the pretense he was living.
Doyle abruptly got to his feet. Bodie followed suit, determined not to let him leave until this was settled. He counted on the height advantage he had over Doyle to help him make his point--that extra eighth of an inch came in handy. But Doyle was wearing his boots, the ones with the 3 inch heels.
Doyle towered over him.
"Is this the end of our partnership, Ray?" Bodie stood his ground and glared defiantly up at Doyle. He could practically see the wheels spinning behind those devious green eyes.
"I should dump you. What if somebody else finds out? Then where will I be?"
"How could you be so cold, especially after all we've been to each other."
Doyle looked at him blankly.
"How close we've been," Bodie hinted, finally wagging an eyebrow. Still no response. "Christ, Ray, we've been lovers."
"We have?" Unfeigned surprise lit the green eyes.
Bodie hoped the hurt didn't show on his face. "I know we never talk about it after it happens, but I thought it was because of your masculine self-image problem, not because you didn't bloody well remember!" Bodie sighed. "Three years ago, after the Christmas party?"
"Christ, was that you? I was pretty wasted." At least Doyle had the decency to sound apologetic.
"Then three months later, we were on that stakeout..."'
"Oh, yeah. I was so hot for it I would've humped Macklin's dog."
The knife twisted deeper in Bodie's breast. Resolutely he pressed on. "How about that time I moved in and took care of you when you got out of hospital?"
Doyle looked confused. "Those were pretty powerful drugs, Bodie. It's all pretty hazy."
"Last week," Bodie ground out, deciding not to bother with the dozen or so times over the last two years. His battered ego couldn't take it.
"Now I remember. It was after the match...no...that was Monica. You were after the cinema!" Doyle sounded pleased with himself.
Bodie turned away, a defeated man. Pain had always been a part of their strange relationship, but he had consoled himself with the idea that it was only his own macho posing keeping them apart, and that once he revealed his true self, Doyle would feel freer to express himself; and that someday the words 'love' and 'caring' would become part of their lives. His hopes were ashes at his feet.
A hand tugged at his sleeve. "Hey," Doyle's voice was softer. "It wasn't that bad. I know you didn't last very long, but we both got off."
Bodie allowed himself to be pulled around. He looked up into Doyle's eyes. There had to be more than indifference behind that green fire.
"I'm beginning to remember a weekend in...," Doyle trailed off, as if the thought was just out of reach.
"Derby," Bodie supplied helpfully.
"Right. We were...."
"Eyeballing Max Peterson." Hope rose, a phoenix from the ashes.
"We were driving the Cortina."
"Oh, yeah. We stayed at the...."
"Bent Man," Bodie supplied helpfully.
"It was right on the tip of my tongue. Max was a good boy all weekend, giving us lots of free time to kill." Doyle looked pleased with himself yet again.
"He had a heart attack on Friday, but we didn't tell the Cow until Sunday." Bodie impulsively wrapped his arms around Doyle. "You do remember!"
Doyle impatiently shrugged off the embrace. "Yeah, yeah, let's not get mushy about this." He looked at Bodie warily. "All this talk about missionaries and sex doesn't change the fact that you're...," he paused, looking pained, "sensitive."
"Why does it matter, I'm still the same person." Pride, when it came to Doyle, was obviously going to be too expensive a commodity. Oh well, he'd done without it for years anyway.
"You must see, Bodie, that it just won't work." Doyle looked down at him apologetically. "There can only be one sensitive person in this partnership and I'm it."
"I don't get it."
Doyle sighed impatiently. "Listen, if you're standing around being wan and morose after a shoot-out, who's going to notice me doing this?"
Doyle stepped back. All expression momentarily disappeared from his face. Then, his eyes filled with a shimmer of tears, and he tilted his head, catching the available sunlight at exactly the right angle. The piece de resistance was the way he blinked back the tears as he turned away, as if he didn't want anyone to see.
When Doyle turned back, the expression was gone, but not the lump in Bodie's throat. vulnerable look got him every time.
"Imagine how confusing things will be if you start getting morally indignant in Cowley's office? You'll ruin my tantrums." Doyle looked pensive. "Maybe the Cow will let me work with McCabe. He's got just the right touch of the primitive."
"But, Ray--" Bodie's world was crumbling.
"Sorry, Bodie. You were the best. I mean, nobody did insensitive lout better than you." Doyle chuckled fondly. "I'll never forget your line in Cowley's office 'Other than that, the honeymoon was fine.' Classic."
Bodie grabbed Doyle's arms and shook him. "But, Ray, nobody will ever find out I'm sensitive! I swear it! You've got to give me another chance."
A blow to the solar plexus doubled him over. "You've lost it. Just listen to yourself." Doyle stepped over him.
"See you around."
Almost retching from the pain, he caught hold of Doyle's boot and hung on. "I'll do better next time. Give me one more chance," he begged as he was pulled across the floor.
Doyle's slow, but steady progress toward the door finally stopped. Ignoring the painful friction burns, Bodie managed to get to his feet.
"Okay, let's hear it." Doyle tapped his foot.
Bodie took a minute to compose himself. His future with Doyle depended on this performance. His concentration was fierce. He threw himself into the role, mustering rude, crude, Neanderthal thoughts. Soon, he began to feel bigger and bulkier, until he physically matched his mental image. By the time he was ready, his knuckles were dragging on the ground.
His eyes were full of fire when they snapped open. He grabbed Doyle's shirt front, roughly hauling him forward. "Listen, you little prick."
He tossed him across the room. "This partnership isn't finished until I say so, do you understand?" He looked down at Doyle's sprawled, attractively disheveled figure. "Now you get this place cleaned up, then get your arse out of here."
Doyle groggily got to his feet. "That wasn't bad, but y- -"
A right cross interrupted him. He was out cold. Bodie rushed over to his fallen lover. Gently, he picked him up and carried him to the settee where he guiltily wiped away the trickle of blood from the split lip.
Hitting Doyle was the hardest thing he'd ever done, but he had come perilously close to cracking toward the end. Maybe this senseless act of violence had preserved the partnership.
Doyle would probably be out for a good half hour. The little bugger never could take a punch, Bodie thought fondly.
He sat down beside him and waited.
The gloom of the flat fitted his mood. A slow tear leaked from his left eye. He winced as the salty liquid made contact with a carpet burn. There was no point delaying, it was time to wake Sleeping Beauty.
He went into the kitchen and filled a glass with water. He paused, then dumped it, replacing it with warm. There was, after all, a sort of gray area between insensitive and really insensitive. Typical of this whole, sorry situation, the dramatic gesture with a half-hearted follow-through.
He stood over Doyle, postponing the moment when their sick charade would have to be renewed. He eyed the glass dispiritedly. If only this water were the cleansing renewal of the baptismal waters...but his dream of sharing that moment with Doyle was obviously far in the future...if ever. Sighing, he set the glass down and gently picked up his love, moving him back onto the floor where he had fallen.
He tilted the glass and let the water dribble, first from a fat auburn curl, down the smooth forehead and artfully over that odd, misshapen face as he wished his hands could. Doyle sputtered when water trailed over his mouth.
Bodie stepped back as Doyle sat up, his eyes spitting fury as he spat water. Bodie's hopelessness turned to rage at the unfairness. His normally well-controlled temper snapped. When Doyle stood up and angrily approached him, he reached out, grabbed Doyle by the front of the shirt, then pushed him up against the wall. The reverberating thump of Doyle's body hitting the wall brought him back to reality, and with it came contrition--until he looked at Doyle.
For once, he had Doyle's undivided attention. Was that a glint of respect in those often dismissive, frequently impatiently rolling, indifferent green orbs? And Doyle's breaths were shorter, almost...panting. And wasn't he standing unnecessarily close?
Could this be the answer? He brushed his leg over the front of Doyle's jeans. There was definitely sinful activity occurring behind the denim.
A plan of action popped full-blown into his head. It was obviously lurking somewhere close to the surface was an issue he'd have to deal with later. Already he dreaded his next confession.
"I'm tired of putting up with your crap, Doyle. You either put out or get out!"
Doyle blinked in surprise at him, opened his mouth, but before he could say anything Bodie interrupted. "Get in the bedroom, get undressed. I'll be in in a minute."
He stepped back, released Doyle, still not entirely sure what would happen or which direction Doyle would go. He did not breathe again until Doyle disappeared through the bedroom door, after first regarding him with a speculative gaze.
He shuddered in the awesome, terrifying depths of extreme distaste. Letting this facade carry over into the bedroom was abhorrent to him. When he shared this with Group tomorrow night, he was sure to be condemned for his behavior. They would certainly question his motives. But their advice that he find Doyle's inner child had so far proved futile. The kid was an elusive little tyke. There was no way to make his brethren understand that he had to find Doyle's inner human first.
It was all for Ray's own good, really, he thought as he unhooked his leather belt. If Jonah could suffer the belly of the whale, if Job could survive the boils and indignities of the punishment for arrogance, then who was he to turn away from the thankless task of dominating Doyle sexually, for a little while? A few months...six at most...maybe twelve. Eighteen at the outside.
He slapped the doubled leather belt across his palm, shuddering with dread at the thought of reddening his beloved's perfect buttocks. But perhaps some good would come of it.
After all...spare the rod, spoil the Inner Child.
-- THE END --