by O Yardley
Groaning under the weight of the box he was carrying - it must be the twentieth at least, Doyle thought peevishly - he was even more annoyed to find himself cannoning off the motionless body of his lover stationed thoughtlessly in the centre of the long room.
"Bloody hell, Bodie," he snarled. "This is your stuff we're moving so don't just stand there as though you were stuffed, get on and help, for chrissakes."
Dumping the box down beside the rest, out of the centre space so as to leave them room to walk through to the bedroom area at the far end, he turned to go out to the van for more, irritated to find Bodie still stuck there like some graven image.
He couldn't help the angry snap of his voice: it was hot and humid and he was tired, thirsty and sick of lugging boxes and furniture about. They had been up and on their feet since dawn and he'd had more than enough of it by 9.00 am. It was now 3.30 and he was almost ready to kill.
"Ray..." A whispered plea, barely audible.
About to raise his voice angrily again, something in the quality of Bodie's stillness, a near-rigidity with underlying tension, made Doyle take a new grip on his temper.
"What's up?" he asked more moderately. "Bodie, what is it?"
"Got this...this feeling..." Bodie turned haunted eyes his way. "You know...when you feel...been somewhere... before..."
Doyle nodded. "It's not that uncommon."
Inclined to laugh, he restrained the impulse seeing that Bodie really was wound up. Moving closer, he put a comforting pair of arms round him, enjoying the feel of his sweat-dampened body, inhaling the scent of him with hungry relish.
"C'mon, lover," he said huskily. "Take a good look around - that usually dispels the feeling, makes you wonder how the hell you could possibly have imagined anything so bloody daft."
Safe within that loving circle of bone and flesh, Bodie lifted his head obediently, looking about him.
It was no good - further study only heightened the impression, churning his stomach...
With an inarticulate murmur he buried his head in Doyle's shoulder, clutching at him convulsively.
"It's like...like...seeing into another life...another time..." he said breathlessly. "God, Ray, I do feel a fool."
This behaviour was so untypical of his cool, together companion that Doyle had quite lost any desire to laugh, finding the quiet despair catching in its intensity.
"Another...time?" he questioned, not quite comprehending. "You talkin' about some kind of former life?" he added, finding such a concept so incredible - particularly coming from such a down-to-earth, matter-of-fact guy as Bodie - that he was almost inclined to believe it himself.
He pulled himself together: this really wouldn't do, two of Cowley's top agents cuddling for comfort in an eighteenth century London house as though they feared some kind of ghost was about to step out of the wall!
Or were they the ghosts?
The thought made him shiver.
In an attempt to console his now-shaking friend he whispered lovingly, "Well, I hope I was there with you as well, lover."
Bodie's shaking if anything increased.
"That's what makes it worse," he admitted brokenly. "You were. I know you were. And yet how could you be?"
"Worse!" Doyle gave him a gentle shake. "We belong, you and I, mate," he said with placid ferocity. "Whatever the place, whatever the time - we belong. And don't you ever forget it!"
Clinging to that thought he lifted his own head and looked about him, taking in the new flat properly for the first time.
My god, but Bodie was right, he thought dazedly. It hit you like a solid wall, the familiarity, the sense of knowing...
"There's a stain on the floor in that corner," he said unsteadily, jerking his head backwards to an area partly hidden by a protruding wall that had once separated into smaller rooms what was now one, open-plan area.
He felt Bodie shudder.
"Don't, Ray. You're only making it worse."
But there was a stain, and he knew it - could even see its shape like a reversed C written by a giant hand.
" 'n the loo seat tips to the left," Doyle went on as though Bodie had not spoken. " 'f you're not careful you fall into the shower..."
Oh god - yes!
Bodie took a long, shaky breath and leaned away from Doyle. Suddenly, his eyes clouded, puzzlement filling them.
"Ray, this place...wouldn't have had plumbing like that then - would it?" he added doubtfully. Historic buildings were not something he knew a great deal about after all.
Green eyes stared back, acknowledging a truth, then moved from his, looking about once again, assessing...
Doyle shook himself, shook Bodie, and moved away to hold him at arms length.
"Bodie, you daft pillock," he said sourly, "gettin' me all het up about nothin'..."
Hyancinth eyes stared at him, hurt and bereft.
"Of course you've seen this place before," Doyle said in patient resignation. "Lived in it for four months, didn't you? Spring of ... um ... 77 was it? Or 78? Can't remember exactly."
Bodie stared about him in comprehending dismay.
Bloody CI5, moving them around every five minutes like musical chairs ...
No wonder a guy couldn't keep track of where he'd been...
-- THE END --