Co-operation Guaranteed


Party Spirit series #21: After "Kickback"

Didn't know what to make of it, the way he reacted to 'is old mate. Didn't know what to make of the way I felt about it either. Was I jealous? If so, it was plain bloody ridiculous of me, but I didn't like seeing him being sent off with him anyway, didn't trust the bastard and it turned out I was right. Thought he'd had a change of heart right at the end which was why Bodie was still alive, but it turned out I was wrong. Still, he did save Bodie's life so I'm grateful for that; Keller'll never be the same again though, but he'll live long enough to serve out his sentence.

I wasn't going to ask about Keller, didn't think it was any business of mine, thought I was quite prepared to try and get something out of Keller about Bodie. Always very cagy about his past is Bodie; probably because there's really nothing to tell, if you ask me. Anyway, Bodie did admit the bugger saved 'is life over in Ireland, took a bullet with W.A.P.B. on it so I owe him a double vote of thanks. Here's to you, Keller, and I'm sorry you got greedy and fucked it all up. I've got news for you isn't money that matters in the end, it's people. Yeah, I know that sounds like the sort of crap the financially unsuccessful churn out to justify their failure, but it happens to be true. I'd swop a million quid for Bodie any day of the week, and I'd give everything I have--such as it is--to have Bodie tell me 'I love you'. Dunno if he even knows what that means: probably thinks it's a synonym for 'get 'em off!'.

I'll just 'ave to show him, won't I.

He went off by himself for a couple of hours a day or so later; wouldn't tell me where he was goin' but I guessed he'd been visiting Keller in hospital. He came back very subdued...for Bodie. Had me quite worried so I hauled him off to the pub and filled him with enough vodka to lay two ordinary blokes under the table and got him to open up.

"How is he?" I asked him, and it showed how off-balance he was because he wasn't even defensive enough to ask me who I meant.

He shrugged. "Weak. What d'you expect?"

"But he'll live?"

"Oh yeah--if you can call it living, bein' in prison."

"He's got to stand trial yet," I said, but there wasn't a lot of doubt about the outcome. If it hadn't been for CI5 Alex Richardson would probably have bought it and Keller wouldn't've given a monkey's cuss so long as he had half a million quid to share with the likes of Sheila Kaufmann.

Bodie just shrugged again. After a minute or two he looked up at me. "You're staring, d'you know?"

"Yeah. At you. And I'm not gettin' any response."

"Nosy bastard, you are," was what he said, but the corner of his mouth lifted.

"So what did he say that's got you all pissed off?"

He didn't answer for a long time, just sat there drawing pictures in the dribbles of liquid on the tabletop. Then he said, "We were good mates, me'n Jimmy Keller...worked well together. And all the time I never really knew him, did I."

"How d'you mean?"

He looked up, a lot of pain lurking in his eyes. I never like seeing Bodie hurt.

"He thought I'd gone there to help him," he said eventually. "Thought I'd go the same road as him if the money was right, you see."

"Embarrassing," I said, carefully noncommittal.

"Yeah. He didn't go a bundle on it when I disabused him of that idea."

"No?" It didn't surprise me Bodie'd left Keller in no doubt where he stood...that's my Bodie for you. Doesn't believe in beating about the bush. Comes right out with it, publish and be damned.

"No. Got quite abusive. Said a lot of things that...that hurt. Well, he was my best mate once upon a time and I don't like..."

He stopped again, and I wondered what the hell Keller could've said that hurt Bodie so much he wouldn't repeat it to me. I said softly, " 's often the way, mate. People hate you worse when they know they're in the wrong. Have to try and justify what they've done to you, make out it was all your fault, don't they."

"What's this, philosophy time? Didn't need you to tell me that, not the way you go on at me when you've cocked things up."

So, Keller'd given him a bad time. I slid my hand under the table to squeeze his thigh, it being out of sight of everyone else, unlike the hand I'd wanted to hold.

He didn't bat an eyelid, just drank some vodka and then said lazily, "Is that a proposition?"

"Not a bad notion," I conceded. "We got interrupted last time if you remember."

"Oh, I remember," he said, staring at me in and up and under kind of way that made me aware all over again how bloody long his eyelashes are.

"Like a couple of centipedes," I said fondly.

"What?" He looked around. "Don't you mean cockroaches?"

"They're not in the least like cockroaches." I was indignant.

"I can't see any anyway. Where are they?"

"Lying along the edge of your eyelids," I told him, and he choked on his drink.

I wiped myself down carefully. "Shan't buy you another if you're going to waste it."

"Bought me too many already. You driving me home?"

"Yes. Your place or mine?" Deliberately I used the same words as last time, knowing what he'd wanted then and letting him know it was still on offer. It was easy to see he hadn't forgotten.

The bedroom was cosy, comfortingly womblike. It was easy to lie at peace with him there, shut out the world. I wanted it to go on forever, loving him. He can amazingly gentle sometimes and it always chokes me, but that night he was special, something I'll always remember, his mouth so damn sexy and saying things that kept making me laugh when I wanted to be serious and his hands everywhere at once rousing me so much I could hardly cope with it. I came between his thights, groaning into his open mouth, clutching him to me so tight I left marks on his shoulders.

"Good?" he asked, and he kissed my neck. I was melting, bones gone to porridge.

"Good?" My voice was barely working. "You trying to sell yourself short?"

"Me? I'm perfect, always have been. Thought you knew. Hey! will you stop kneading my shoulders, you're through to the bone already, for God's sake."

He didn't sound very peeved and a swift peek at him showed me he was smiling, but a second, detailed look revealed the tension echoed in the prodding at my belly.

"Look out, me balls are all sticky," he said plaintively. "Keep it off the sheets if you can, I don't feel like rolling around in it when it's all cold and beastly."

"Lucky to have the opportunity," I told him, but I delved between his legs, rubbing my slickness over his skin and watching his face while I did so...all scrunched up it was, as I was hurting him only I knew I wasn't, knew that concentrated look meant I was making him fly, that I could do what I liked with him if only I took it slowly, made him want it badly enough, and there was something I wanted so badly myself... So I used every sexy touch I'd ever known or fantasised, shed any last lingering inhibitions until I had him shaking and wild-eyed and swearing at me in hoarse, forceful whispers as I mapped every crease, explored every fold, made those firm generous curves all my own and came at last to the incredible pleasure of fucking him with my finger while I sucked him to climax.

Afterwards he was very still, every muscle relaxed, but his arm was thrown up over his face hiding it from me. I needed to look, needed to be sure I hadn't done something else he found unacceptable.

His eyes were peaceful, smiling even, and he hooked his arm round my neck, drawing me to him. "You," he said, "fuck like a rattlesnake and feel about as safe." He wrinkled his nose, pushing me away with finality, softening the rejection with: "But you need to wash your hands."

Abashed, I went and did as he suggested; brought back a towel to clean him up.

"This," I said severely, throwing the towel in the direction of my laundry basket as I got back into bed, "is getting to be a habit."

"What is?"

"You lying around like Lord Muck waiting for me to clean you up. Be nice to 'ave it done for me for a change."

He had the cheek to claim he wasn't the untidy one. "Well, I'm not," he protested when I glared at him. "I wasn't the one spraying it everywhere just now, was I!"

"That," I reminded him, "was because you were offered somewhere neat and tidy to put it."

His eyelids slid shut and a jolt of fear shook me. He knew what I wanted, must know I wanted it. But I didn't want it enough to fuck up what I already had...not yet, anyway, and I had an uneasy feeling it'd be too easy to make him back off.

Eyes still closed he said, "Give me time, Ray, just give me time."

I propped myself on an elbow and looked down, there was a shade of nervousness about him that made me apprehensive. "All the time in the world, sunshine," I promised, hoping I could keep it.

A glint of blue shone from under one lid. "It'll be fun working at it...with your help!"

I leant down and kissed him, leaving my mouth on his. "Co-operation," I said, "guaranteed...and there's no need to snort like that, I mean it."

"Never doubted it for a second," he assured me, rolling onto his side and getting the pair of us comfortable. "And I'm not complaining. There's only one thing that puzzles me."

"What's that?"

"How come I got mixed up with a sexy little bugger like you in the first place? Leading me off the straight and narrow...and me with my chapel-going childhood."

"Bad as convent-school girls," I retorted, "once they break loose. Anyway, it was all your idea."


"Yes, and you bloody know it."

"Thought it was mutual," he said on a ghost of a laugh. "I remember dreaming about something warm and willing and waking up to find it was you. Seemed just right at the time. Wasn't until afterwards it occurred to me I might end up splattered all over your bedroom wallpaper."

"I wondered if we'd be able to work together OK. Thought we might've buggered the partnership. Didn't want that."

"Mmm. Me too. Helped though, sometimes, don't you think?"

I thought about it. "Yeah. Bein' that close. This close."

"But we're crazy all the same."

"Probably," I agreed. "Never been noted for sanity, either of us. D'you care?"

"Not if we're in it together." His arms tightened on me and I grunted. "Sorry. Just that--Ray..."


"Thought I knew Jimmy Keller but I didn't. Know you a lot better."

I tilted my head back. "Is this leading up to something? Why do you know me better?"

"When you work with someone, well you only know that side of them, don't you. I know you in all sorts of ways I never knew him...and I don't just mean in bed, you single-minded cretin. And even if I didn't, I'd still know you're straight as a die. You, you don't even nick pens or fiddle your expenses...well, no more than I do anyway...and even if it's lying around for the taking you don't nick money that isn't yours."

"So I'm honest," I said, slightly bitter and twisted that this seemed to be my only advantage over Keller.

"And if I wasn't," he went on, still apparently thinking out loud, "honest, I mean, you'd turn me in, wouldn't you?"

"Would I?" It wasn't something I'd considered, Bodie's honesty an absolute. "Yeah, probably, if you'd really gone to the bad. You wouldn't be you any more, would you," I added, muddled but pursuing.

"Good. That's all right then," he said, satisfied, kissed my shoulder fervently, and fell asleep--just like that.

He's got his own very individual set of morals, has Bodie, and they suit me just fine.

-- THE END --

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