On the other hand, some days you won. Bodie watched with satisfaction as the limousine carrying Majid Asghar disappeared into traffic, taking with it all responsibility for his safety. No longer CI5's business, out of sight out of bloody mind. He turned his eyes upward in a gesture of sheer thanks, breathing in the clear cold air and smiling at the first soft flakes landing on his face.
"Oh, fuckin' hell, it's snowing," Doyle moaned beside him.
His smile widened. "They're predicting a white Christmas, Doyle."
"That's all we need, bloody hell."
Bodie turned to look at his partner. "C'mon," he jostled Doyle with a companionable, if ungentle, elbow. "Think of all the kiddies, their eyes aglow, thumping little hearts, hot breaths, trembling fingertips...."
Doyle kicked him. "What're you on about?" he growled.
"Me and the delectable Cheryl," Bodie informed him, with a leer.
"You've got a date for Christmas Eve?" Doyle demanded, sounding put-out at the notion.
Bodie grinned. "I do with this snow, mate. Won't be able to make that trip to Yorkshire now, will she?"
Judging from Doyle's expression, he wasn't about to congratulate him on his good fortune. "Yeah? Well enjoy yourself, mate."
"Oh, I shall," Bodie assured him.
Doyle hunched a shoulder. "Glad you can. Must be nice."
Knowing better, he nevertheless rose to the bait. "Eh?"
"Go on with your life, mate. Have a great time with your Cheryl. Happy Christmas." Doyle was looking away from him, staring moodily at the ambulances with the bodies of the dead would-be assassins. Martyrs to an old man's megalomania, disguised as religion.
"It is a happy Christmas, Doyle," Bodie told him, annoyance rising. "Asghar's okay, I'm okay, you're okay, Murphy will be okay."
"Yeah, terrific. What about those kids' parents? Brothers, sisters, sweethearts. What about them, eh Bodie?"
"They knew the score." Bodie was fast losing patience.
"They should be decoratin' trees and wrappin' pressies, not getting into a shootout with CI-bloody-five."
"We did our job," Bodie said bluntly, "end of story."
"Our job?" Doyle's voice was incredulous. "Maybe that's how you see it, but I didn't join this mob to be the bloody executioner of sixteen-year-old children!"
"Children who would've happily blown your head off, Doyle," Bodie reminded him in a hard voice.
"Kill or be killed, that's your credo, isn't it?" Doyle said viciously.
"And yours," Bodie reminded him ruthlessly.
Bodie watched the effect of his words, outwardly impassive. Better Doyle should turn on him, he reasoned, than on some innocent he'd flay himself over, afterwards. The tension between them mounted, setting Bodie's nerves to singing, pleasure and pain all in one. He had his own demons, after all. Doyle, however, turned away after a moment. "Bloody fuckin' snow."
They stood in silence as the ambulancemen finished with their grim duty, and the pictures were taken, the evidence gathered, the press and public kept at bay. The mopping up was the worst part of any op, all the worse when the fading adrenaline high was tinged with a sense of failure. The predicted snow fell ever more thickly on them.
Cowley limped into view and ordered them back to HQ, wanting the reports finished for the inevitable inquiry into the matter. "You've tomorrow off, but be in my office by eight Thursday morning. Happy Christmas." His attention was claimed by an officious Detective Superintendent bleating on about the shootout on his patch and what the Chief Constable would say.
Bodie tuned him out, more concerned with getting Doyle and himself back to London--reports or no, it was better than this bloody piece of the realm.
Doyle, predictably, had gone silent and broody, and Bodie left him to his thoughts during the drive back to London. The reports were finished in record time--Doyle's efficiency sharpening as his mood darkened. Bodie kept his opinion to himself, and thought of Cheryl. But when they turned the reports in to Betty, he took one look at the bleakness in Doyle's eyes, and cursed himself for what he was about to do.
"C'mon," he invited, roughly. "Let's get a drink."
"On Christmas Eve? Where?" Doyle said witheringly, striding down the hallway.
"All right, come back to my place," Bodie persisted, keeping pace with him.
"Nah, not in the mood."
"C'mon Doyle," Bodie cajoled, "be good for you."
"What about the delectable Cheryl?"
Doyle shook his head, "Nah mate," he repeated, but his voice had softened. "I wouldn't be fit company."
"Used to it, aren't I?"
An odd smile crossed Doyle's face for an instant. "Have your good time, Bodie. I'll see you." He walked away.
Bodie let him go, watching the slim figure disappear around the corner, then he closed his eyes, and sighed. Bloody fool that's what he was. Had been for four years now. He didn't see the future bringing any improvement to his condition.
The flat was cold and unwelcoming when he arrived, and he set about restoring warmth and comfort with practiced, mindless ease. Dinner was eggs, bacon, tomatoes and fried bread, eaten in front of the telly, which alternated between Christmas programming and updates on the unusually heavy snowfall. Cheryl didn't call, and he didn't pursue it. Wasn't in the mood, really. Even ex-mercs didn't enjoy gunning down acne-covered sixteen-year-olds.
Bed, at an early hour, was welcome. Trained, wasn't he, to catch sleep whenever it was offered? Grateful, too, for the oblivion it brought.
The crash barely registered before he found himself on the floor, crouched by the window, gun in hand. His sleep-fogged brain rapidly cleared in the wake of a surge of adrenaline. Another bash against the window and he eased over to it, peering through the edge of the curtain, every instinct alert to danger. Outside white crystalline flakes lit the night to almost day-like brightness, eerily drained of color. The dark figure below his window stood out in clear contrast.
"Oi!" Doyle's voice, raised in full cry. "I know you're there! Bodie!"
Bodie opened the window with a snap. "What the fuck are you doing, Doyle?"
Doyle grinned up at him, teeth flashing. He was fast gaining a mantle of snow on his shoulders and head. "C'mon out 'n play, Bodie!"
"Are you drunk?" Bodie hissed down at him, strangely inhibited by the muffling snowfall.
Doyle, apparently, felt no such restraint. "Bodie!" His voice was imperious and coaxing all in one. "C'mon!"
Bodie grimaced, nodded, and closed the window, just catching Doyle's penetrating parting shot: "And put some clothes on, cloth-head!"
Bodie looked down at his naked splendour, then gave the window a look of intense dislike.
Some few minutes later he walked out of the door to his building, dressed by guess, but warmly. None of the snow had been cleared yet, Doyle's tracks the only evidence of human occupation on the street. Feeling almost like an interloper, he was unprepared for the snowball that hit him squarely in the chest.
Doyle's crow of triumph sent Bodie on the offensive, scooping up the snow that lay piled thickly around and throwing his own barrage to match Doyle's. It was a fierce engagement, marked by Doyle's unfair and ungentlemanly tactic of seeking shelter behind the Capri, while he had to make do with the meagre protection of lampposts. With his reputation at stake, and a coat already sopping from too many accurately placed snowballs, Bodie resorted to the tried and true British tactic of a full frontal assault against impossible odds. He rushed the Capri, vaulted over the bonnet, and landed with snow in hand and an eye peeled for Doyle.
The little bastard wasn't there.
He had a clear, horrified, moment to realize his mistake before snow cascaded down on top of him from behind and he fell to his knees, admitting defeat.
"Oi, what are you doing grubbing around in the snow like that, mate?" Doyle peered at him from over the Capri's bonnet, with wicked and insincere astonishment.
On the other hand, surrender didn't come easily to an ex-merc, ex-SAS, current CI5 agent, and neither did doomed nobility. In one fluid movement, Bodie sprang to his feet and charged.
Doyle let out a yelp and fled. Bodie chased after him, his weight and strength an advantage in the deep snow, and soon brought him down in a flurry of flailing arms and kicking legs. Doyle, buried in snow and cursing was a gratifying sight, and Bodie sat back, grinning.
As Doyle pushed himself up, spitting out snow, Bodie said conversationally: "And just how many did you have?"
Doyle wiped his face and assumed an angelic look. "'Aven't had a drop, mate."
"Then what are you doin' out here, Doyle?"
Doyle shrugged. "Seemed a pity to waste it." He shook the snow from his head.
"What, this?" Bodie said incredulously, flicking snow at him.
Doyle ducked, then serenely continued brushing off his jacket and scarf. "Besides, didn't wish you happy Christmas, did I?"
"What happened to spending the night alone and lamenting?"
Doyle went still at his words, and Bodie felt his guts clench. Idiot, he castigated himself.
But Doyle answered calmly enough. "Wanted company. And speaking of company, what about your bird?"
"This is a fine time to ask," Bodie pointed out, covertly watching Doyle.
"Ah, threw you over, did she?" His eyes were sparkling now, and Bodie relaxed.
"Nah, just got an early start on her holiday."
"Leaving you stranded," Doyle concluded gleefully. He rummaged around in his coat pocket, bringing out a cloth-wrapped bundle with a flourish. "Lucky you have me."
"What's that?" Bodie asked suspiciously.
"Your pressie. Go on, then."
Bodie removed his gloves and accepted the bundle gingerly, recognizing his own handkerchief as he unwound it. Inside was a smashed but still recognizable swiss roll.
"Didn't spare any expense, I see," Bodie remarked. He gathered up the pieces with his fingers and popped them into his mouth. "Didn't get you a thing," he added, indistinctly.
"Don't need anything, do I?" Doyle said, with a strange look that Bodie couldn't interpret. The next moment, Doyle jumped to his feet, eyes gleaming and an untrustworthy smile growing. "Let's go drivin'," he suggested.
"You're daft," Bodie said with conviction.
"C'mon," Doyle tugged at his shoulder. "It's fun in the snow. We'll use the Capri."
"Oh, no," Bodie tipped Doyle off-balance with a long arm. "I'm not explaining to Father how the Capri got smashed up while we were off-duty."
"Bodie!" Doyle complained, brushing more snow off of him.
"Besides, don't have me key here, do I?"
"Could always hot-wire it," Doyle proposed, but wistfully.
Firmly denying temptation, Bodie climbed to his feet, grabbed hold of Doyle's arm and hauled him up as well. He started dragging his partner back to the building.
"Oi! Where're you takin' me?" Doyle protested, though he didn't resist.
"Inside. Where it's warm. Where most people spend the night," Bodie told him.
"Only get snow like this once every few years," Doyle reminded him as they reached the door.
Bodie pushed him through and up the stairs. "Good thing, if this is what it does to you." He wiped his hands on his trousers. "You're soaked," he added critically.
"So are you," Doyle pointed out equably. "Share 'n share alike, right?" He grinned over his shoulder at Bodie.
Bodie shook his head. "You're hopeless. Don't know what's got into you. Too early for all the ghosts to have visited, isn't it?"
Doyle was indignant. "Who brought you a pressie, then?"
"That's my point, sunshine."
Doyle shook his head sadly, as they reached Bodie's flat. "Don't you know about the magic of Christmas, mate?" And the sidelong look he aimed at Bodie stopped the breath in his lungs.
Bodie fumbled with the locks, got them inside, closed the door and reset the locks, then turned to look at his partner in the glow from the lamp in the lounge. Whatever spirit was inhabiting Doyle, it was still upon him. He saw it in glittering eyes, and the half-challenging stance, felt it in the palpable energy radiating from him. And, quite suddenly, Bodie could deny himself no longer.
"Time for miracles, then," he said, latching onto Doyle's scarf. He pulled Doyle to him, willing to pay for this indulgence. His mouth found Doyle's--cool, firm, unresponsive--payment due now, then. But, with a murmur that was almost a question, Doyle moved closer. And the kiss deepened.
It was sweet, deliciously so, and intoxicating at the same time--to breathe and touch and taste Ray. Bodie closed his mind to all questions and warnings, and surrendered to his senses. This moment was his only reality--and he would make it Doyle's as well.
His hands roamed freely over Doyle, caressed, and tugged at layers of clothing, craving the feel of skin beneath his fingers. Wonderingly, shockingly, he felt answering touches from Doyle, felt his own jacket being unzipped, poloneck lifted, and cold hands caressing his stomach, sides, and back. Had Doyle joined in his madness, or had he joined in Doyle's?
Bodie broke the kiss, gasping as he pulled Doyle closer, needing to feel his solid reality against him. "Doyle," he muttered, blindly exploring Doyle's face with his mouth--the line of bone in his cheek, his eyes, nose-- "Ray."
"C'mon, c'mon Bodie," Doyle's voice shivered through him, unrecognizable. "Not here. C'mon." Doyle was tugging at him, wanting something from him, but Bodie was beyond noticing or hearing. He sought Doyle's mouth again, and his urgency rocked Doyle off-balance until he was caught between the wall at his back and Bodie at his front. And then Bodie lunged into him and was met with a matching need and strength that sent them headlong to the finish like world-class sprinters.
They collapsed together to the floor, breathing raggedly in counterpoint rhythm. Bodie kept a firm grip on Doyle's shoulder, while Doyle's hand rubbed ceaselessly along Bodie's back. Too fast, he'd never live it down, Bodie thought--but then neither would Doyle.
As his breath returned, so too did rational thought and all the questions he had ignored. "Doyle--" he began, searching for words, but Doyle rolled into him, stopping his voice with another of those sensual kisses. Bodie felt himself going under again.
Doyle ended the kiss this time. "C'mon. Bed," he said unevenly, urging Bodie to his feet.
They made slow but steady progress to the bedroom, and when Bodie would have gone to clean up, Doyle ambushed him and brought him to bed instead. Undressed, naked skin sliding together, Bodie gathered Doyle to him, stroking and exploring with shaking hands the body given over into his care. His mouth sought small brown nubs that sprang to prominence against his tongue. Doyle arched beneath the onslaught, as responsive and alive in bed as he was in battle--and as attuned to his partner. Bodie gloried in it, deliberately slowing the pace to prolong the sensation. Doyle's unrestrained cry when, finally, Bodie took his cock in his mouth, arced through him like electricity, blasting every nerve ending. His hands moved underneath to grasp Doyle's arse, searching, and one finger made its way within Doyle, slowly. He felt Doyle tense, felt the sudden clutch of fingers on his shoulders, and then Doyle was coming with an odd sound--almost a sob--and Bodie soared.
Afterwards, he soothed Doyle, lightly caressing him as he worked his way back up to a mouth waiting for him with a deep kiss.
Green eyes, brilliant with emotion, met his for a long moment, and Bodie buried his head in the juncture of Doyle's neck and shoulder. Doyle's hands swept over him, moving down to squeeze his buttocks rhythmically. Bodie groaned, thrusting, his own desire consuming him.
"Know what you want, Bodie," Doyle's voice was husky. He wriggled, and Bodie slid between his legs. "Go on then."
A siren's voice with Ray's eyes, and Bodie shuddered, gasping: "For Christ's sake, Ray--"
"'S okay." A sibilant whisper while strong hands pulled him closer, too close.
Not like this, Bodie thought, with the fraction of his mind that was still functional. He jerked away from Doyle, ignoring his protest, and fumbled for the drawer of the bedside table. Returning to his partner, he unscrewed the cap of the tube he had retrieved, and eased Doyle over onto his stomach. Bodie was shivering, clumsy with the lubricant as he applied it to Doyle, and then to himself quickly, too quickly. No sound came from Doyle as he entered him, but Bodie felt the distress as if it were his own, and he stopped, breathing harshly, until he felt a small thrust back from Doyle. And then he was caught in a spiral of sensation that drove every thought from his head but the need of movement--aware only of a pleasure that seemed endless.
Much, much later--years--he felt Doyle move beneath him, and he shifted, shamed to realize he had collapsed on him. But Doyle merely turned and pulled him close, running his hands over Bodie with exquisite care, and Bodie found himself mumbling, babbling into the ear so close to his.
"Ray. Yes, oh yes. My turn next, do me next, love--" and it was then that Doyle's silence reached him; that he noticed the tension of coiled muscles, the stillness of the hand on his back. He turned his head into Doyle's shoulder, stopped the damning flow of words by filling his tongue with Doyle's skin rather than his own futile hopes. After a moment, the hand resumed its stroking on his back.
They lay entwined, silent, until the rhythm of sleep came to Doyle's breathing. Cautiously, Bodie raised himself up to look down into Doyle's peaceful, broken face.
He wouldn't hold him. He knew that. One night, then. One night when right was left and top was bottom and anything was possible. Should have known that--did know that. One night when Doyle came to him with the all the carefree joyfulness that might have been his without CI5. Might have been his without the forces that had shaped him to the man he was. The man who needed Bodie's silence. The man Bodie would choose above all others, regardless of the pain they both endured. Gently, lightly, Bodie kissed Doyle's sleep-heavy mouth.
Then he lay down beside Doyle and turned his head away.
It was not more than an hour later that he felt Doyle stir. Bodie rolled away from him, as a sleeper might, turning his back to give him freedom, and heard the utter stillness like a drumbeat in his ears. Then came the slightest brush of something soft and warm on his bare shoulder, a fleeting caress. The next moment the bed dipped as Doyle eased himself away, and Bodie felt the chill of the empty space behind him.
He listened to the rustle of gathered clothing and then to the clicking of the door as Doyle left him.
As he had known it must be; accepted in the hour just passed. His hand clenched tightly, and slowly relaxed. Might as well sleep, now.
And then it was morning, bright sunshine streaming through the open curtain in his window. Christmas day, he remembered. With the thought, all the images of the night before crowded into his brain, clamouring. Of its own accord his hand sought out the other half of his bed, finding only coolness. His eyes closed. Dream? Could it have--? No.
Bodie rolled from the bed and made his way to the bath. Tired. He was tired. No reason to be, really, no reason at all. He had a day off, must think of what to do. Christmas day it was, surely there was something he should do?
He showered, then stood before the mirror, grimacing at his own red-eyed, dark-shadowed face. Reaching for the razor, he shaved mechanically, avoiding his own eyes. Would have a big breakfast, he promised himself, ignoring the lack of hunger in his belly. Yes, that would be a good start to the day. He fumbled for his toothbrush, cleaning industriously, and it was only as he was putting it away that he noticed the color.
Blue. He stared at it. Blue. His eyes travelled to the toothbrush holder above his sink.
"Oi! Get your mitts off me brush."
Bodie swung around, nearly falling with the violence of the movement. Doyle was draped in the doorway, leaning against it, arms crossed, eyebrows raised. Bodie stared at him, unable to do anything else.
Light, transfixing eyes flickered and Bodie could read nothing within them, though they paralyzed him. Then Doyle spoke: "Went back for me toothbrush. More comfortable this way."
"Yes," Bodie agreed, his voice unsteady.
"Had a time gettin' through the streets, with all the snow."
"Yes," Bodie nodded.
Doyle straightened, and walked forward. "Reckon even you'd remember Christmas as an anniversary."
Doyle stopped directly in front of Bodie and looked at him, his eyes clear now. Bodie forgot to breathe. "Don't think much of your morning conversation," Doyle remarked. "Is that all you can say?"
"Christmas Eve is our anniversary."
A pause. "Yes." And Doyle smiled.
Bodie reached out to him, brushed the damaged cheekbone, with a fingertip, then pulled Doyle--or was it he who was being pulled?--closer, and found that Christmas morning kisses were every bit as miraculous as Christmas Eve kisses.
-- THE END --