by Kitty Fisher
"Hey, come and have a look at this!" Bodie's voice echoed down the dusty corridor as he poked his head out of the office door and yelled after his partner. "Oy, Doyle!"
"Noisy bastard, what've you found?" Unimpressed by the urgent demand, Doyle sauntered back towards Bodie, hands tucked to the knuckles in the back pockets of his jeans. He was relaxed and content, surprising amiability evident even in the relaxed grace of his walk.
When he was at his side, sighing, Bodie raised an interrogatory eyebrow and asked pointedly, "Remember this room?"
Doyle looked through the door, blankly. "No. We haven't been back here for years, that's why we got permission to visit, so we could refresh our memories."
"Why you wanted to visit." Bodie grumbled. "I'd've been happier visiting a nudist beach. Or a W.I. meeting. Or a Wham concert."
"Rubbish! Look at you, you're enjoying every minute. You're a sentimentalist at heart, Bodie. You can't fool me, I've known you far too long."
"How wounding." Bodie stood to his full height and still didn't top the wild disarray of Doyle's curls, which was funny, as he knew he was taller than his partner, just never looked it. "I am not a sentimentalist. I'm dark, brooding and deeply menacing. Hard men don't indulge in sentiment."
"I must ask one next time I see one." He poked Bodie in the ribs and grinned into the deeply wounded face. "Come on, Butch, what's so special about this room?"
Nursing his wounded sensibilities, Bodie sniffed. "Don't you remember?"
"Bodie, I told you..."
"I know, I know. The question was rhetorical."
"Well, I hope you get over it soon. What about the room?"
Bodie sighed and pressed himself against the door-frame as Doyle pushed past. "You should remember." He grinned triumphantly as Doyle swept his gaze around the empty, box-like room, seeing nothing but the ineptly boarded up windows and illiterate graffiti sprayed obscenely over the walls. He shrugged.
"Well, it wasn't our office." It was only half a statement.
"No. Nor was it Cowley's." Bodie waited a beat. "It was Anson's."
Doyle was only a half-second behind the statement. He chuckled, a filthy laugh that still, after all their years together, had Bodie thinking deeply erotic thoughts and eyeing Doyle's mood with the idea of taking his clothes off. "Anson's office. Bloody hell! I still can't believe he didn't go to Cowley and tell on us."
Bodie examined his nails with great care. "Well..."
"What did you do to him? I knew there was something. He never looked either of us in the face again, so I assumed he was too deeply outraged by the whole thing to even mention it."
"Well, I had a little dirt on him, something that made finding us at it like rabbits across his desk pale into insignificance." Doyle's face was a picture of salacious enquiry. "He'd got a tattoo. Somewhere very embarrassing."
"Yep, Mr. Clean had got very drunk one day and gone out and had some tooling done... to his tool." Bodie grinned at the effect this knowledge had on Doyle.
"Christ, I wish you'd told me."
"You'd have announced it over coffee to the assembled cream of CI5 and probably had a sweepstake as to what exactly was written on it. I kept quiet and at the same time, kept him quiet."
"Clever, clever." Doyle pondered a moment. "I always half wondered why he never took a slash in front of anyone else. So just how did you find out this scurrilous piece of information, eh?"
"Caught him with his pants down, literally." Bodie looked suitably modest. "Took me about a week of planning, but I got him in the end."
"Poor Anson." There was precious little sympathy in Doyle's tone.
"Stupid bastard, more like." Bodie dismissed their fellow agent in a phrase. "And he had the best office."
"We were mad to have it off in here, anyway."
"Ah, but that was in the carefree days when we'd just discovered that we were partners in more ways than one and couldn't keep our hands off each other for longer than about an hour at a time. And I seem to remember that Cowley had just announced that you were to be shipped off to somewhere ungodly for an undecided length of time, so we were just saying goodbye."
"Maybe we should have locked the door."
"Maybe. I don't think either of us gave a toss at the time."
"No. Not that I remember any tossing off being done -- my bum ached for about a week after the pounding you gave it." He held a reminiscent pause. "Very nice it was, too."
"Yeah." They both spent a happy second reliving past glory, then grinned at each other.
Bodie walked over to Doyle, spreading his fingers through the tangling curls, and pulled his lover close to ask a question that wasn't really a question at all, yet he needed to ask. "It was good, wasn't it? Despite it all, life was good."
"Yeah. But only because of you."
"Sentimentalist." But Bodie was smiling, echoing the warmth and the truth as he bent his head, smiling in a way that only Doyle had ever seen. They kissed, lightly, lovingly; years of practise, of knowing without doubt that they were for each other only behind the touch.
After a while, Doyle pulled gently back. "What you after, a repeat performance?" He pressed his groin against Bodie and smiled crookedly, wickedly at the answering bulge in the cream wool of Bodie's trousers.
"Nah. We haven't time, and there'll be plenty of time later." He insinuated a hand between their bodies and gave Doyle a squeeze, delighting at the groan that gusted over his cheek. "Hold that thought, as they say. It'll be all the better for waiting for it."
"What's that, the thought for the bleeding day?"
"Yeah. Load of crap, but you can cope," he hurriedly went on as Doyle opened his mouth to reply, "and there's lots left to see. We haven't visited the Cow's old office yet."
Adjusting with painful difficulty the receding flesh that seemed intent on curling half his pubic hair under his foreskin, Doyle grunted. There was nothing more guaranteed to reverse arousal than the mention of Cowley. Unless it was the thought of the old man naked, of course; that would probably be even more effective...
Watching Doyle struggle with his personal problem, Bodie could only grin. He knew exactly what was happening, Doyle had suffered from the same for years; came from refusing to either trim his short and curlies or trim something else. "You should be circumcised. I don't have that problem." He directed a pointed look at Doyle, at the same time cupping his own well-behaved groin.
"Yeah, but you were cut as a baby. Wasn't something I fancied in later life, thank you very much." Doyle straightened, took a tentative step and relaxed with a heart-felt sigh. "There. Where shall we sight-see next?"
Doyle took a deep breath, then nodded. It was what they'd come for after all. To say good bye.
They walked through the corridors side by side. Everything had changed; dirt lay like a carapace over every surface, rolled in dust-balls in the corners, covered the windows, distorting the light as it streamed through the half boarded up casements. There was nothing in the abandoned building left apart from the vividness of their memories, the faint echo of all the people they had known here; friends and enemies, some a mixture of both. Some of the furniture was the same, though rotting, broken up to use as fuel by tramps or addicts or any of the lost people who might have found some shelter here after the government moved out and before the developers moved in. The evidence of their pathetic attempts at fires lay in various rooms, blackly scarring the faded magnolia walls, though that was all, the squatters were long gone. Bodie and Doyle had the building to themselves. It was an eerie sensation, one they joked to dispel.
But in Cowley's office the laughter ran out.
Bodie paced the bare floor and sighed deeply. "He was a good boss."
"He was a bastard." Doyle met Bodie's glare and went on more gently. "And a good boss. He only sacrificed us in the direst emergency. State of the nation and all that."
"There wasn't room for sentiment. We did a job, so did he."
"Yeah, at least he never enjoyed it."
"No, just drowned his conscience in a sea of best Malt." Bodie paused by the window and stood on tip-toe to peer through a gap, wiping at the glass with his sleeve to improve the view. "He spent far too long in here. Lived for the job, I suppose."
"Died in it, too. Well, brain-dead from the stroke anyway, and it won't be long now before his brain follows his body."
"He'd have wanted to go completely, all at once. He'd have hated being nursed and waited on and treated like an incontinent child, having his nappy changed by some teenager who's gone into nursing because there's no jobs in Woolworths." Bodie turned back, his face grim. "He'd have been better to have shot himself, poor bastard."
"He'd never have done that, he was too proud. If he could have somehow managed it afterwards, maybe. Not before. Not even when he knew the end was in sight and all he'd worked for was heading for the scrap-heap. He fought it out to the end."
"Yeah, he was a cussed old sod."
"He loved you."
Bodie started at the sudden words, then in the silence that followed them gave a snort that was embarrassed disbelief. "No he didn't, he just liked me better than you. Most of the time."
Doyle shook his head. "He loved you, saw you as a sort of son. He appreciated me. There is a difference."
"You might be right." Bodie kicked at the skirting.
"I am." Doyle kept his voice even. "You can't choose who loves you. Or who you love."
Bodie was silent for a long time. Then he gave a wry twist to his mouth and spoke. "I did love him, in my own way."
"I always felt that it was wrong, but my loyalty first of all was just to him, then I met you and it all changed. Deep down I've always felt guilty."
"And you couldn't tell him."
"No. Was hardly able to tell myself."
"The strong, silent type."
"The bloody stupid and not sure which way is up, type. I've always needed you to sort me out, tell me why I feel things, why certain things hurt."
"I only put it into words. You know, really."
"Yeah, but words are the hardest." Bodie turned, his eyes meeting his lover's, his expression openly full of pain.
Doyle reached out and took him in his arms, giving the strong body a slight shake. "When you see him, tell him. He'll understand."
"If you're there."
"I'm not going anywhere. Long as you want me, Bodie."
"Forever's a long time."
"So they say."
"We'll have time to find out, won't we."
"Lucky us." Doyle grinned, hugging Bodie close. "And soon you can tell Cowley exactly what you thought of him."
"I always imagined doing just that, but I never thought the words would be what they are going to be."
"Things often aren't what we expect. You and me, for a start."
Bodie kissed the end of Doyle's nose and stood back. "Unexpected, maybe. But worth every sleepless night."
They looked around the empty room. There were memories, but nothing they didn't already carry in their own minds, in their own beings. It hadn't been a mistake to come back though, the changes were so great that there was nothing left of what they had owned here, nothing but the dust and the fleeting, half remembered echoes of distant lives. Nothing would draw them back again. The exorcism had worked.
Doyle gave a shrug and pushed his hands back into his pockets. "Get a move on then, shall we? The old man'll be there by now. Maybe you can cheer up his day by telling him about Anson."
Bodie smirked. "Yeah, he'd appreciate that."
They left the office without looking back and then, side by side walked down the long corridor.
"Bodie, what exactly did Anson have written on his dick?"
"Mmm. Nothing subtle, I'd bet on that."
"You wouldn't lose. And who said it was words?"
"You mean he had a picture tattooed on it?" Doyle almost spluttered.
"Didn't say yes, didn't say no. You've got to guess."
"Will I get a prize for getting it right?"
"Me, I expect. It's what you usually get."
"And worth it every time." Doyle paused, "Was it an animal?" Bodie shook his head. "Something really phallic, like a rocket, or a gun. Don't tell me had a..."
Bodie was still shaking his head, laughing, as they left. They had caused hardly a stir, the old building creaking and settling around them, waiting patiently for its own destruction. They disturbed none of the mice holed up under the rotting floor-boards, or the rats in the basement. When they had gone, there was nothing to say they had passed by at all. The dust coating the floors remained smooth and undisturbed, innocent of even a single footprint.
-- THE END --