Fortune, for once, favoured him and Doyle was able to get into Bodie's room without being seen and stopped. Visiting hours were long over but he didn't want to wait until tomorrow. He'd be stronger tomorrow and the opportunity lost.
Bodie was alone in the room, sleeping the sleep of the drugged, his leg and arm in plaster. Doyle moved slowly towards the bed, taking in the spectacular bruising on Bodie's face and body, the bulk of bandages beneath the hospital gown. Nelson had all too obviously enjoyed his work. And still Bodie was the most wondrous sight he'd ever seen.
Pure sentimentality. Bodie would laugh until his stitches ripped if he knew.
Knowing himself for a fool hadn't altered his need to come to Bodie.
He settled himself next to the hospital bed, eyes scanning Bodie, studying him intensely, until the familiar features seemed to shift and it was a stranger he looked at--skin over bone.
Looking away, he stared at the lime green wall opposite. Hospitals had an odd silence about them. They were never truly quiet but if you spent any length of time in one the noises became background, unnoticed, and the silence could press around you like a physical presence. Bodie breathed steadily, his chest rising and falling. He'd just sit here beside him for a while. Keep him company.
He reached out and lightly rested his fingers on the top of Bodie's exposed hand. Blood travelled through the veins beneath his fingers, bringing warmth and life.
"Christ, mate," Doyle whispered and closed his eyes.
Easy enough to make fun of the clichés, until you lived them: he'd almost lost Bodie. He would, almost certainly, lose him one day. Stupid, useless thought--he'd known that from the start. From the first day when he'd looked across Cowley's office into blue eyes that had measured him and found him wanting. He'd changed the expression in those eyes and had revised his own opinion of Bodie as well. Now it all came down to this--to his hand on Bodie's--needing more than Cowley's word, needing more than the confirmation of his own eyes. Bloody ridiculous when you thought about it.
He knew what Bodie would say, could almost see his eyebrow rising and the amused twist of his lips. But Bodie was laid up in hospital, filled with painkillers, so the nurse had told him. There was no one to stop him from indulging himself this once. Get it out of his system. Acknowledge the need and let it go. Bodie might actually approve of that for a plan of action.
So his hand stayed where it was as his eyes devoured Bodie. No permanent damage, they'd said, although they couldn't guarantee his bones would heal well enough for CI5 standards. Only time would tell--time and physio and hard work. Two weeks in hospital and then off for four more at the convalescent home patronised by CI5. The routine was as well known to Doyle as it was to Bodie. They'd begin the physical therapy as soon as possible and, with luck, Bodie would be back to full status in two months. Then he and Bodie would start it all over again--the same clock ticking down on them.
This one had been routine enough, obbo duty followed by contact, all in the hopes of making a connection between drug trafficking and a splinter group from the IRA intent on bloody destruction. They'd cracked it, too, but Bodie had paid the price. His cover blown, beaten for knowledge and vengeance although it'd done the villains little good. Cowley was known for his lightning ops and Bodie had got the information to them before he'd been taken. Bloody hero. One terrorist cell permanently out of business; one CI5 agent nearly the same.
Doyle grasped the hand lying beneath his, then checked for a reassuring pulse. He remembered the strength of that hand as it had gripped him only two days ago. He still bore the bruise from it.
Damn stupid to be feeling this way about him. Sheer indulgence. There was no room for sentiment in his life, nor Bodie's either. He won't thank you for it, will he Doyle?
Giving in, he allowed his fingers to explore the hand beneath his, to feel the calluses on square-tipped fingers, the fragility of the bones, the disconcertingly soft skin on the back of his hand. Concentrating, Doyle slowly moved his own hand along Bodie's arm, noting the scattering of dark hair that did little to cover the pale skin, feeling the texture of it. There were bruises here as well, although Nelson had punished other parts of his body more. The broken arm was the left. Not his gun hand.
Doyle inched closer, unable to keep his distance, not wanting to. He kept his touch light and unobtrusive, checking to be certain that Bodie slept, while his heart began to thud. Avoiding the bruises and the bandages and the cuts and scrapes, he lingered on the few unmarked places. Fine, smooth skin called to him, luring, and he impulsively leaned forward to touch his lips to Bodie's skin, to taste the salt and absorb the warmth of life. The barest touch of his mouth and then he lifted his head to stare at Bodie, thankful to find him still asleep and breathing steadily.
But he never had been one to leave well alone.
Doyle surrendered to the intoxication of his need, seizing opportunity where he found it. His lips moved over Bodie's skin, his hands as well, lightly caressing and exploring, appeasing some of the hunger raging within him. Just this, just to touch and to kiss, it'd be enough, just once to do it. Just once.
And he felt it when Bodie's breathing changed, knew he was on the verge of awakening. So he spoke, the words tumbling from his mouth, soft and soothing and trusted: "Ah, Bodie, don't wake, mate. Don't remember this. 's just a dream. Let me touch you, just a little, taste you. Don't remember. We've no time, just this, let me-- Dream--just a dream--"
The drugs worked to his advantage. Doyle felt Bodie's body relax beneath his hands, his breathing regular once more. Relief stabbed at him, as intense as after a gunfight. Doyle eased away and re-established the necessary distance between them. For a long time he simply sat and looked his fill, connecting sight to touch and taste. And his heart slowed to normal, his breathing matched Bodie's. Silent and still now he felt the familiar distance settle upon him like a cloak, wrapping around him, and he welcomed it.
Doyle walked through the crowds of Victoria, eyes on the schedule board for arriving trains. Five and a half weeks since he'd last seen Bodie, just before they shipped him to Headley Court. All Cowley had told him was that the reports were favourable. Bodie's bones had healed and he was regaining strength and dexterity. It shouldn't be long before everything was as it had been.
He skirted around a woman with a pram, who was kneeling beside a little boy and scrubbing at his face while she scolded under her breath, and made his way through the crowd to platform twelve. He saw a young man and woman walking together, holding hands; two elderly gentlemen strolling at the edge of the crowd, talking to each other more quickly than they were moving.
Nearly six weeks. More than enough time to realise how necessary Bodie had come to be in his life. If Bodie were to leave...well, he reckoned he could get used to it in time. A part of him even longed to try it, to free himself from an untenable position, but then there was no need for such drastic measures. He'd seen to that--he had himself well under control now.
The reasons lined up in his brain, almost like a mantra by now, reduced to essentials: the job, Cowley, Bodie's track record, friendship, obligations. All the reasons why he would never approach Bodie openly. He'd settle.
Arriving at platform twelve he saw that the train had just arrived. Passengers were disembarking, entangled in the usual crowd of greeters. Some rushed away and others scanned the area for a familiar face. He caught a glimpse of a smooth, dark head but was blocked by a family of eight descending on a young girl. He edged around the group and saw that Bodie, bag in hand, was already headed for the entrance into the station proper. Increasing his pace, he caught up with Bodie and fell into step beside him.
"Fancy meeting you here."
Bodie glanced over at him, his smile brilliant. "Where's the fatted calf, then?"
"Happily getting fatter." Doyle slipped his sunglasses on.
"No brass bands, eh?"
"Well...I saw a couple of toddlers earlier. Might be considered dancing, if you're broad minded about it."
"No one missed me." Bodie's tone was mournful.
Doyle considered. "It's been nicely quiet. Restful."
"Dead boring in other words."
"Nothing wrong with a little peace and quiet."
The smile lingered on Bodie's lips. "I'll see if I can liven up your life a little. You all right then?"
"'course. You seem to be moving easily enough. What'd they say about you?"
"That I'm tall, dark, and beautiful."
"Must be blind. Cut a swath through the nurses did you? C'mon, car's this way." He led Bodie out of the station and onto the pavement.
"They were broken hearted when I left." Bodie heaved a sigh. "Begged me to stay. But I told them my heart is already spoken for."
"That reminds me, Cowley wants you at eight tomorrow morning."
Bodie made a face. "Proper passion killer you are. What's he want?"
"Probably to talk to you about your upcoming refresher."
Bodie stopped in his tracks. "Not Macklin."
Doyle smiled at him.
"I'm going back to the nurses."
"Coward. Come on." Doyle jerked his head in the direction of the car and got them moving again. "Sooner over sooner done with. Besides it's not Macklin, you lucky sod. Last time, for me, it was. I'm thinking of putting in a complaint--bloody favouritism. It's just Jack."
"Bad enough," Bodie complained. "Why can't I have a few days of rest and relaxation?"
"Should've stayed away from the nurses, mate. If you're well enough to do that..."
"I'd have to be dead, petal. Still, we've got tonight at least before we have to submit to Jack's idea of a little exercise."
"Oi, what's all this 'we' business then?"
Bodie looked at him, eyebrows raised.
Doyle shook his head. "Nah, you're on your own, mate. About time you left home, big strapping lad like you."
Bodie's eyes narrowed. "You wiggled out of it, you bastard. How'd you manage that, then?"
"Ray?" Bodie stopped walking again.
Doyle sighed. "I'll be coming along in a week or so. Would you come on?" They moved forward. "They just want to ease you into it."
Bodie seemed inclined to grumble at that. "I'm fine. I've got full motor function, thank you very much. Could go out on the street today."
"Not watching my back, Butch. We'll wait until Jack certifies you fit." Bodie groaned. "And then Cowley'll send you to Macklin."
They had reached Doyle's car by this time and he unlocked the doors. Sliding into the passenger seat, after throwing his bag into the back, Bodie settled down with a sigh.
"Nah, just glad to be out of there. What's been going on?"
Doyle started the car and pulled out into traffic. "It really has been quiet. Stuart brought in Traynor finally."
"Give him credit, he got him right and proper. The bastard should be in prison for a long time with the evidence Stuart collected."
"What've you been doing?"
"This and that." Doyle shifted and sped up to pass a slow-moving mini, then slowed again.
"Ah. Files, eh?"
Doyle grinned. "Yeah. Got out now and again, thank God."
"Who'd you work with?"
"No one. Well, Jax once. The Cow's mostly had me working solo."
"Ah. Sensible of the Old Man."
Doyle indulged him. "Sensible?"
"Gives him a hold over the rest of them, doesn't it. Get out of line and all he has to say is: 'Och, I'll partner you with Doyle, lad....'"
"Knew you missed me. What else?"
"Uh...what else? Susan's been lumbered with Turner on obbo duty."
"Is he still walking?"
Doyle cut up a taxi and returned the driver's salute. "Funny you should mention that. He's been very polite to Susan in recent days."
"Always was a slow learner. Speaking of which, did Murphy have to testify?"
"Yeah. Best to keep a low profile with the Met just at present."
"Tell them to stop hiring coppers with the intelligence of your average slug."
"This is why Cowley didn't have you testify."
"Would've been glad to phone it in."
"I was a copper you know."
"Yes but you've had the advantage of working with me, Goldilocks."
Doyle snapped his fingers. "Knew I'd forgotten to tell you something."
"What's that then?"
"Cowley has a stack of your reports, this thick, that he wants you to re-do. Before you're back on duty."
"Seems that a report consisting of, 'At 1403 we went in. At 1409 five were dead' does not quite suffice."
"Clear and succinct that is."
"Be sure to tell him that."
"They have intelligence standards for the SAS, Doyle."
"Very low ones."
"Higher than slugs. Go on, tell me some more about the squad."
"Insatiable, that's your trouble," Doyle said knowingly.
"Never been told it was trouble before."
"Shouldn't boast about that if I were you--having difficulty keeping them satisfied, are you?"
Bodie snorted. "Yeah, all right, come on what else has been going on?"
Doyle regaled him with the tale of Murphy and Jax and the Night in Soho until they reached Bodie's block of flats.
"Coming in?" Bodie opened the door but stayed in the car.
Doyle shook his head, his hands tightening briefly on the steering wheel. "Nah, got something on tonight."
There was no inflection to Bodie's voice but Doyle rushed into speech. "Got some shopping in for you. At least you won't go hungry tonight."
"What sort of shopping?"
"Suspicious bugger. Well, yoghurt, greens--liver sausage, of course. All right, all right, gerroff. The usual, what'd you think? Basic commodities. And Swiss roll."
"You're a prince, Doyle."
"Just you remember it."
"You never let me forget it, do you?" Bodie started to get out of the car, then paused. "Listen, could stop for a pint, couldn't you?" He clasped Doyle's arm. "Nip down to the pub?"
"Yeah, all right, a quick one then," Doyle said, as Bodie removed his hand. No self-discipline, that was his trouble.
They got out of the car and walked the half mile to Bodie's local. It was early yet, Fran was just opening the door when they got there. And old man in a rumpled brown suit scuttled in before them and a red-haired young man followed them.
"Bodie!" Fran greeted them, a bright smile lighting her face. "Where've you been?"
Bodie smiled charmingly. "Ah, good to see someone's missed me!"
"The place hasn't been the same without you, dear. The usual?"
"A pint, love. And one for the lad." Doyle slipped past Bodie, heading for one of the back tables. "Oi, where're you going?"
Doyle glanced over his shoulder. "Your invitation." He settled into a chair, automatically noting that the young man had taken a seat at the bar and was glancing at the door as if waiting for someone else; the old man was headed for the loo.
In a few minutes Bodie was back with two pints and a packet of crisps. "Sausage rolls on their way," Bodie informed him gleefully.
Doyle shook his head. "Told you there's food in. Your poor arteries won't know what hit them." He downed a good portion of his drink.
Opening the packet, Bodie fished for some crisps. "Been on short rations, mate. Criminal the things they feed you in hospital." He washed the crisps down with a long swallow of beer.
Doyle looked away. Fran was flirting politely with the old age pensioner who had returned. He drank more of the beer.
"'s good," Bodie said.
Bodie raised his glass. "Been a while."
Doyle frowned. "You're not on anything now, are you?"
"Don't be daft. Of course not."
Nodding, Doyle hoisted his glass to Bodie. "Cheers then."
They drank in companionable silence for a while. Doyle noticed his finger was tapping the side of his glass and he stilled it. His pint was nearly gone.
Bodie broke the silence after swallowing the last of the crisps. "So what do you have on for tonight then?"
Quickly looking at him, Doyle saw nothing but mild curiosity on his face. "No one you know."
"Ahh, must be Jeannie then." Bodie raised his glass to Doyle and drank, his expression hidden.
"How did you know?"
"Little bird told me."
"Who--? Oh, Anson, eh? Forgot he was dating that nurse from Headley. Who'd've thought it'd last? Why've you been quizzing me about the lads then if you already know everything?"
"It was two weeks ago and I wouldn't trust his opinion on anything. What's she like then?"
Bodie's expression dismissed that feeble attempt at deflection.
"She's a nice girl. Not your type at all."
"I wouldn't dream of interfering, Raymond."
He gave Bodie a dark look. "Chance would be a fine thing." Noting the tightness around Bodie's mouth, Doyle's tone altered. "Ready to go back?"
Bodie looked at him, then drained the rest of his pint. "Nah." He stood up. "Another?"
Before he could answer, Bodie walked away to the bar. Doyle closed his eyes. What the hell was he going to do? The timing was all wrong. He knew about Bodie and debts: You never let me forget, do you? Anyway, the timing didn't matter--it'd never work out. Daft to even think about it. He went over his reasoning yet again. Stay cool. Bodie's advice. Doyle stood and headed for the loo.
Returning a short time later, he had just cleared the doorway into the bar when he heard Fran's choked-off scream. Doyle jumped to the side, hand reaching for his gun.
"Stay there! Don't move or I'll fucking kill you!"
Doyle froze, eyes taking in the scene before him. A dark-haired man in a ripped leather jacket stood between him and the front door, a gun in his hand. Fran was behind the counter, the redhead holding a knife to her throat. The old man was huddled on the bar stool, eyes wide. A few paces away from Fran, at the end of the bar, stood Bodie, two full pints in front of him on the counter. Bodie's eyes met Doyle's for a too-brief moment then shifted back to Fran.
"Don't be stupid," Doyle said to the man with the gun.
"Shut up! Go on Jon." The gun stayed on Doyle as the young man shifted slightly to keep both him and Bodie under his eye.
Amateurs, Doyle thought with disgust. Probably never fired a gun before, either, judging by the nervous hands. Jacked up with adrenaline no doubt; unpredictable. He looked at Bodie but Bodie kept his eyes on Jon and Fran. Doyle stayed still. Robbery was better than a confrontation in these circumstances. Could be in a better position, though, just in case. He shifted his weight.
Jon pushed Fran towards the till, closer to Bodie. He lifted the knife slightly away from her neck, threatening Bodie. "Get back." Bodie fell back a single step. Jon's attention returned to Fran. "Open it."
While Fran fumbled with the key, Doyle edged a little closer to the gunman, stopping as the gun jerked towards him. He spread his hands, placating.
"Stay cool," Bodie said, drawing attention as Jon pushed at Fran to hurry up. "It's not easy working with a knife at your throat."
"Who asked you?" Jon shoved Fran. "Get it open!" Another minute and the till popped open. Jon gave Fran a cloth bag. "Put the money in there, hurry up!" Fran did as ordered, quickly stuffing some notes into the bag.
"Where's the rest of it?" Jon demanded. Doyle saw Bodie lean forward.
"Stay still!" The gunman again, shifting his gun towards Bodie's unprotected back.
"Take it easy," Doyle said loudly, watching the gun dart back towards him. He dared not look at Bodie again.
"That's all there is," Fran said. "What'd you expect?" Her voice was shaky but anger thrummed beneath it. "We've only just opened."
"You must have more somewhere." Jon jerked her arm, pressing the knife closer. "Get it!" He pushed her towards the door to the back of the bar, turning away from Bodie.
With disbelief Doyle saw Bodie start to move, knew in an instant what the reckless bastard was going to do. Alone, without one look at Doyle. Cursing his partner, Doyle moved, yelling and diving onto the floor in a roll calculated to bring him up against the gunman, if he didn't get stopped by a bullet first. He heard the gun go off and then he was crashing into the man, the gun spinning off across the floor. He caught the gunman in a headlock then turned to see Bodie putting the finishing touches on Jon. Fran leaned against the wall behind the bar, staring, a smile slowly starting to grow on her face. The old man on his stool returned to his drink.
"All right?" Doyle shouted across to Bodie, rage coursing through him, reminding him forcibly of the first months of their teaming.
Bodie dragged Jon to his feet, knife clattering to the floor. "Yeah," he answered briefly. His eyes were hard and slitted in a rigid face. "You?"
Doyle cuffed the gunman and left him lying on the floor. "Fine. I'll call it in."
Fran was grateful to them and insisted they have another round on her while they waited for the coppers.
"Ta," Doyle said as he gratefully drank from the glass. Bodie talked easily with Fran, keeping it light and helping to calm her nerves. Doyle let the voices wash over him, forcing himself to relax, and his hands to stop shaking.
It took more time than it should have to get the local coppers there to deal with the aftermath. Doyle surreptitiously showed his ID to the DC in charge. It was Bodie's local and better if he wasn't identified as CI5 in his own neighbourhood. Finishing with the coppers, Doyle returned to Bodie who was leaning against the wall next to the front door.
"All done," Doyle said. "Let's go."
Bodie's hand on his arm stopped him. He looked back. "Ring Jeannie," Bodie said tightly.
"You're not going to make it to dinner." Doyle looked into unsmiling eyes, then to the clock above the bar.
"Yeah, you're right."
"That's not what I meant."
Doyle's eyes narrowed as he met Bodie's look. "I'll ring her." He started back towards the bar but Bodie blocked his way.
"From my place," he said, hand tightening.
Doyle started to brace himself but he saw the tension in Bodie's body and knew they were both too keyed up for a confrontation here. Anyway he had a few things he wanted to say to Bodie, in private. "All right."
They walked out of the pub together, in stride but silent. Macklin would have a field day with them; hell, so would Jack. He wasn't going to put up with that proving stage again. Bodie should know better than that.
Bodie ushered him into his flat and Doyle turned on him as soon as the door closed. "What the fuck did you think you were doing?"
Bodie set the locks with a snap. "What was I doing? You're the one--"
"We're bloody well supposed to be a team. You want to be a hero you can do it elsewhere! Cowley won't thank you for it. Bull in a china shop doesn't even begin to describe it!"
"I didn't--" Bodie's voice cut off, his jaw clenching shut. He took two breaths, visibly steadying himself, his eyes never leaving Doyle. "Oh no," he said in a low voice. "Not this time. We aren't playing by your rules anymore, Doyle. Go and make your phone call."
Doyle looked away, tense and uncertain, then he glanced at Bodie again. He went to the phone.
While he attempted to explain the situation to Jeannie, Doyle kept an eye on Bodie's movements, watching as he closed curtains, turned on a lamp, wandered into the kitchen and then the bedroom. The car should be next, he thought, remembering they'd left the bag there. But Bodie returned to the living room and walked straight to him, crowding close. Turning slightly, Doyle edged away. Bodie followed.
Doyle spoke into the phone. "Thanks for understanding, love. Yeah. I'll see you soon."
The receiver was taken from his hand and replaced on the cradle. Doyle moved a step back.
Bodie watched him, his face unrevealing. "You lie very well." He couldn't read anything in the flat voice, either.
"Plenty of practice--it's nothing you haven't done as well. Anyway, it wasn't a lie, this is work."
"Is it?" Bodie moved in close again.
Doyle stood his ground, his eyes narrowing. "Bodie--"
"No, I don't want to hear it, Ray." His hands reached out and gripped Doyle's face, hard. "No more." Swiftly, he leaned forward.
Stunned, Doyle felt Bodie's lips on his, coaxing and demanding all in one. He gave in to them, unable to resist, overwhelmed in an instant. He allowed Bodie's tongue to consume him, allowed himself to be walked backwards until the wall stopped them and Bodie pressed close, trapping him there. It was only as Bodie met and returned his own helpless thrust that sanity flooded back and he was able to force himself to break Bodie's hold and to push him back. Through the pounding in his ears and the ache in his groin he heard Bodie's voice.
"What are you going to tell me now?"
"What's wrong with you? I don't--"
Bodie stepped forward. "You don't want it?" Bodie's hand found his cock and Doyle squeezed his eyes shut, clamping down on a groan. "Your body is the only part of you that never lies to me."
Doyle's eyes snapped open at that. "You bastard."
"You want this." Bodie stroked him.
He gritted his teeth. "Responding isn't the same as wanting."
Bodie didn't move. "Ray--"
"Get off me." Doyle pushed hard at Bodie, moved away from the wall, then rounded on him. "You're a fine one to talk about lying--talk about trust--since when don't you trust me to do the job?"
Bodie frowned. "What're you talking about?"
"Today! You making a move with a gun at your back."
"It was you that jumped, sunshine. What the fuck did you want? To take another bullet?" Bodie closed on him again, grabbing him by the arms.
"Oh, it took thinking, did it?
"I know what I saw."
"You saw what you wanted to see, just like always."
Doyle pulled away. "You weren't giving me any help, were you?"
"I'm not going to make it easy for you, no."
Doyle rubbed at his head. "What's that supposed to mean?"
Bodie looked at him, then turned and went to the drinks cabinet. "Fancy a drink?"
Failing yet again to read Bodie's expression, Doyle hesitated then said, "Could do." He watched as Bodie poured scotch for both of them.
Bodie brought the glasses over and handed one to him. He held his own up, then knocked it against Doyle's. "To new beginnings."
"What new beginnings?"
Bodie leaned close, his lips brushing against Doyle's. "It wasn't a dream, Ray." Then he turned away and went to lean against the wall, watching Doyle. His expression seemed nearly clinical, oddly remote.
"Wasn't it?" Doyle took a sip of the scotch, barely registering the taste.
"No. Took me a while to realise that, mind."
"I suppose you know what you're talking about."
"Oh yes. You and me. Hospital. Hard to forget."
"I doubt it."
Doyle set his drink down. "What do you want, Bodie? An apology?"
Doyle stared at him, and watched as Bodie pushed away from the wall and walked over to him, his movements smooth and contained. Bodie set his glass down next to Doyle's.
"I want you."
Doyle kept his face expressionless but it took him a moment before he could speak. "Hardly comes as a surprise, mate."
Bodie's smile didn't reach his eyes. "That's your next move, is it?" A finger reached out and began tracing along Doyle's brow and down along his chin. His skin prickled at the touch. "So you've known all along, have you? Played me like a pro." Bodie moved closer, one hand threading through Doyle's hair. "Then why the game in hospital?"
"I--" Doyle gasped as Bodie's other hand settled on his groin.
"Necrophilia turns you on?"
Doyle tried to make himself pull away but Bodie's hands distracted him, robbed him of initiative.
"Or are you a prick tease? Saying you don't want it now."
The confidence in Bodie's voice galled him but then Bodie's mouth found his and arousal flared through him, bringing him up, hazing his mind. He couldn't keep the moan inside this time and he welcomed Bodie's tongue and touch, suffering the loss when Bodie raised his head.
"Your body betrays you every time. Not a prick tease, then, but I don't believe you had any idea about me." Bodie's touch was gentle on Doyle's face, his lips brushing along Doyle's cheekbone, while his hands were hot and urgent on his body. "You're afraid to know. Afraid to find out it's not one-sided, aren't you? It's too late. Let me love you, Ray--"
And Doyle was lost. With a murmur he reached for Bodie, his mouth hungrily seeking skin and lips, unprotesting as Bodie eased him to the floor. He'd wanted this; never thought to have it; never dreamed the reality of it, despite fantasies. Bodie's hands were on him, stripping him, stroking him until he cried out his need, unable to hold anything back. Too quickly he came, overwhelmed, seduced, his detachment shattered.
He gave himself no time to recover, turning sluggishly to Bodie, forcing his hands to obey his will. Some pride remained to him, the need to prove the truth of Bodie's words--or perhaps just to prove himself. So he moved over Bodie, taking as he had been taken, wringing from him the same surrender, the same betrayal of need. And he felt a certain savage pleasure in the sound of Bodie's voice, hoarse and pleading, before he took Bodie's cock in his mouth and drained him.
He fell away from Bodie, rolling onto his back, and the triumph he had so briefly felt faded to nothing. Christ. He turned further, onto his side, away from Bodie. Get up, get away.
But a hard arm wrapped around his chest, a warm body pressed close against him, and Bodie's voice whispered fiercely in his ear. "Don't you run on me now. Not now."
Doyle closed his eyes, shivering, seeing nothing but disaster ahead for them. He felt Bodie's fingers touch his face and knew he'd discovered the dampness there.
A gust of air warmed his neck. "Christ, Ray. Why do you have to make it so bloody complicated?"
And then he was being hauled to his feet as Bodie got him up and moving. He allowed Bodie to guide him to the bedroom, to settle him on the bed. He didn't want to think, he was tired of thinking. Bodie followed him onto the bed and settled himself against the headboard before pulling Doyle close against him. He kept an arm around Doyle, his fingers lightly stroking Doyle's chest.
"All right," Bodie said, "let's have it."
Bodie pinched his nipple, hard. He yelped and Bodie soothed with a fingertip. "Let that be a lesson."
"Why listen to a liar?"
"Oh, that rankles, does it?" Bodie's fingers continued their caress. "That's why I've got you here. I need the truth, Ray--and you don't think as well when I'm touching you."
Smug bastard. Doyle put his own hand out in an exploratory strike. Bodie squirmed.
"Careful! All right, so we're equal." Bodie's voice was a bit breathless but there was satisfaction in it as well.
"See that you remember it."
"I'm certain you'll remind me. Now, why?"
"Thought you already had it worked out."
"I defy anyone to read your convoluted little mind. You wouldn't have said anything to me about that night, would you?"
Doyle looked away. "Didn't see much point to it."
"Did you know I wanted you?"
"No. Maybe. I don't know."
Bodie was silent, his fingers gently rubbing.
"Knew I could get you into bed," Doyle acknowledged.
Doyle shrugged, his eyes on the far wall. "I didn't think it'd be a good idea."
"I know I've told you you think too much."
"Better than not thinking at all. Not looking at the consequences."
"Consequences. So you thought it all out and decided against it, eh? Tell me your reasons." Bodie's thumb outlined Doyle's mouth. "The real ones."
Doyle closed his eyes, his senses alight from Bodie's caress. The job, Cowley, Bodie's track record, friendship.... "It got serious."
"Used to speculate, you know, but...."
"It got serious."
"And that night?"
Doyle opened his eyes but kept them fastened on his hands. "Couldn't stop myself. Didn't want to."
"So you took what you could get."
"Not proud of myself, if that's what you're getting at."
"Then all on your own you decide it isn't a good idea. You never even think of consulting me."
"You'd kill me if I did that to you, Ray."
Doyle moved his hand to Bodie's thigh, stroking up and down. "I know."
"Rationalised like hell then, didn't you?"
"Thought of the job, Cowley--" he agreed.
"You were protecting yourself, mate."
"Not from you."
Doyle looked around at that, indignant. "Then why didn't I know you wanted me? Wanted this?"
Coolly, Bodie said, "You didn't want to see it."
As easily as that, the ground was cut from beneath him, leaving him floundering. "I'm that blind?" He turned away, shaking his head, staring at nothing. "Couldn't read you today, could I? Ah, Christ."
Bodie's hands moved, tightened on him. "No. I lied."
Doyle swung his head around quickly. "What?"
Looking a little self-conscious, Bodie said, "You were right. I was moving on that punk earlier."
Doyle tried to sit up but Bodie held him in place. "Why?"
"Only way I could think to get through to you. Make you talk to me."
"No, why'd you jump at the pub? Stupid thing to--"
"Because I could see you were twitching, you idiot! And I wasn't going to watch you get shot again."
Surprised, he stared at Bodie. "I wasn't."
"You were. You were a live wire at the pub, couldn't even sit still, drinking fast. It's only been six weeks, Doyle. Give me a little time between serious injuries all right? You might have got out of hospital before me but--" Bodie broke off and he shifted against Doyle, speculation entering his eyes and voice. "Ah, now why have you gone all tense at that? You're not blaming yourself for my cover being blown, are you? For what Nelson did?"
"Should've been there earlier."
Gently, Bodie rubbed his hand over Doyle's chest. "Ancient refrain; we all say that. I wasn't best pleased to see you take the bullet meant for me. Didn't like having your blood all over me, Ray."
Doyle shrugged. "Got in the way, didn't I?"
Bodie's hand stilled. "No. You stepped in front of me, knocked me aside. Nelson would've killed me in another second. I owe you."
"You don't owe me anything. You'd do the same and have done."
"I still owe you." Bodie's voice was firm, his hand pressing down on Doyle.
"No." He scrambled up, breaking Bodie's hold, and turned to face him. "You don't owe me a damn thing, and if this was in some sort of payment--" He stopped speaking as he met Bodie's eyes, seeing them widen in comprehension. Dammit. He sat back on his heels.
Bodie grabbed Doyle's chin and forced it up, their eyes meeting. "Thought so." He released Doyle's chin, dropping his hand onto Doyle's thigh. "Where the hell did you dream that one up?"
"You don't like debts," he stated.
"True enough. Neither do you. What's that got to do with us?"
"I don't want you thinking you owe me."
"Oh for Christ's sake, Ray. Of course I owe you--and you owe me. I don't forget that; I don't want to forget that!"
"I remember what you said. About Keller."
Very evenly Bodie said: "You're not Keller."
Doyle gazed at him, then looked away. He shrugged. "Anyway, we're even."
Bodie grabbed hold of Doyle's arm, shaking it. "You stupid git. Did it ever occur to you that I might not mind feeling indebted to you? Do you think I don't know you wouldn't hold it over me like Keller did? I knew that within the first few months of teaming with you. Maybe that's why it came to mean so much, just because you wouldn't bring it up again. And what in bloody hell do you think I was feeling with your blood soaking me, unable to move to help you because of what that bloody sadistic bastard had done to me and you trying to tell me it was all right even as you were passing out. Christ, I could've killed you myself! Damn you, Ray--"
Doyle moved then, gathering Bodie to him, stroking him and soothing him. "I'm sorry. Should've known better. It's all right."
Bodie shoved him away. "It's not bloody well all right." Grabbing hold again, Bodie shook him. "It's not all right until you tell me you're as willing to live for me as you are to die for me."
Astonished, Doyle gaped at him.
"What the fuck was I supposed to think with you charging that punk today?"
"Or you coming into my hospital room, barely able to move yourself, touching me and kissing me--and then the next time I see you, you're with Cowley, and then Murphy?"
"I know." Bodie flexed his fingers. "You didn't think it'd work out. You thought of all the reasons why you shouldn't come near me. So I was reduced to asking after you from Anson, you bastard. And all he'd tell me was that you were out of hospital, rattier than ever and Cowley had you working on files for the most part, much to the relief of all concerned."
"Well, I suppose that's true, but--"
"But, nothing. I know you Doyle. Better than anyone. Knew you'd been wanting me for a long time now. Don't look at me like that, of course I knew. Knew it wasn't serious for you then, either. And I wanted more from you than a tumble between the sheets. Needed more."
Doyle sat up straight again, pulling away from Bodie. "Now wait just one bloody minute! I'm not the one who runs from commitments--"
"No, you're worse. You want what you can't have and then when you have it, you throw it away."
Doyle stared at Bodie, frozen. He forced himself to breathe. "And so you hid it from me."
Bodie nodded. "Self-preservation. I don't have a pretty picture of you, Ray. No misconceptions." He placed his hand over Doyle's mouth, forestalling his words. "But I know what it cost you that night in hospital. What it costs you still when I touch you and you lose control. And I know that you won't lie to me when it comes right down to it. I'm not asking for guarantees, Ray, just that it means something to you."
Throat tight, he whispered, "I thought you'd run if you knew how serious I was."
"Yeah. I thought you were running from it too. Or didn't care. Might have let you get away with it, for a while, but not when it makes you careless."
"I'm frightened to death, mate."
Bodie's face softened. "We both are. You do know me--your instincts weren't playing you false. You haven't got any illusions about me, either. I've never yet made something like this work. Want to now, though. Need to." He took a deep breath. "Reckon you can get used to having what you want?"
"Do you think you'd be willing to live with commitment?"
"I already do. Didn't you know that?" Bodie nodded. "Yeah."
Doyle smiled. "Didn't you know that I've had what I wanted for a long time?" He surveyed Bodie's body. "Nearly everything." He met Bodie's eyes again. "I won't throw it away."
Bodie smiled back. "Come here then."
Doyle went, no longer surprised to find Bodie meeting him half way.
-- THE END --
Originally published in Motet Opus 3 in B and D, Keynote Press, October 1999