Mushroom System


Party Spirit series #23: After "Untouchables"

I could hardly believe how quickly I got back on the squad after nearly kicking the bucket that time, and I didn't let on, even to Bodie, just how knackered I sometimes felt. Even to Bodie, I say, but in fact I reckon he knew. No one could be that maternal and not know how his only chick was doing. Truth be known I was back too soon, but Cowley knows the pair of us get stir-crazy, and besides that we were delighted to shake Macklin out of our hair and get back to the real world where the villains wince when you hit 'em. 's very unamusing thumping someone who almost 'as an orgasm every time you do it. Yeah, I know; I'm not very reasonable about Brian Macklin.

It wasn't the easiest time between Bodie and me. Bodie having said what he did about thinking he loved me--and the way he said it wasn't exactly what I'd call romantic or reassuring, looked more as though he was 'avin' 'is toenails pulled out with pliers--he then started behavin' so matter-of-fact I began to doubt I'd really heard it at all and lost any urge I might have had to follow it up with loud declarations of permanent intent. I didn't have any girl-friends, nor did he, or if he did he was incredibly discreet about it, but we only got together in bed when the lack became more than I could bear. Wasn't what I'd call a close or loving relationship. Reduced me to despair sometimes. And then, around Christmas, Cowley decided it was time CI5 took an interest in a certain Mr. Rahad.

I remember complaining to Bodie one evening--just after he'd been sold of like a packet of birdseed--that I only ever understood about half of Cowley's underhand machinations. He looked at me in that lofty way of his, as though he thinks he's got a nose suitable for looking down, and said, "Your trouble is you're pig-ignorant. Cowley's got one of those special schemes for running his staff."

I knew I shouldn't but I did all the same. I asked, "What do you mean?"

"You know--there's the pyramid system where everybody has someone above them they can go to for advice until you get to the one man at the top of the pile, and the round-table system where evertibe gas access to the man in the middle. Cowley works us on the mushroom system."

He paused, waiting for me to feed him the line: "What's that?"

"Keep 'em in the dark and feed 'em horse-shit!"

Can't say I was exactly enamoured of having to pretend to shoot him, not in view of what had happened to me in the past, but it's no use expecting Cowley to have bowels of compassion or any other kind come to that. I was even less pleased when the bastard just lay there playing dead. Could've paralysed him for life, moving him like I did, but I was out of my head with fright...and then him saying he never knew I cared--

Maybe he didn't know. I'd never told him after all 'cept when he was more than half asleep. Decided that needed rectifying and pretty soon too, so when it was all tidied up and we'd seen Cowley and 'Anna' off the premises after our little celebration and handing her the substantial pay-cheque she'd negotiated, I shut the door and turned to Bodie.

"I've got this place for one more night, let's make the most of it."

"What, sleep here together, you mean?" He did his best to sound shocked. "Cowley'll charge you rent if he finds out you're using it for immoral purposes."

"Him? He can't talk. Employing prostitutes to act as agent provocateurs hardly comes under the heading of virtuous living. Besides, who said anything about immorality?"

"You don't have to," he said, grabbing painful hold of a handful of my arse. "Sometimes it's written all over you."

"D'you 'ave to do that?" Wriggling got me nowhere, he had too good a grip.


"Oh, well in that case... How about a drink?"

"Is there any left? I thought the Old Man finished the bottle."

"Got a secret supply in the cupboard. If you let go, I'll get it out."

"So soon?" He leered. "Don't believe in subtlety, do you?"

I retrieved the bottle in dignified silence and filled our glasses. "Bodie, I need to talk to you."

He paused, glass halfway to his lips. "You sound very solemn."

"I feel solemn." I went and sat opposite him, somehow afraid to be too close. "The other day you said something that...well, that hurt me."

He seemed disconcerted. "I always did have a big mouth, Ray, you know that. What did I say?"

"That you never knew I cared."

"What? When?"

"When you were playing dead...scared the living daylights out of me, you did."

"Oh, that! But I was only fooling, you idiot. And I never meant to scare you, it was only a joke."

"Yeah, I know. But it still hurt, you saying that."

"But, Ray, I..."

"No, listen to me, will you. I wanna say something and I don't want a lot of interruptions. I just want to say I do care, Bodie."

His face softened. "I know that, you pillock."

"No, you still haven't got it, have you. Just listen. I care a whole lot about you...really care. You're the most important person in my life and...and I love you."

"What?" He looked so astonished my heart sank.

"Is it so awful having someone love you?"

He didn't say anything, just licked his lips and gawped some more. "So when did this come on then?" he asked eventually.

"Oh, it isn't recent. I've felt that way about you for ages. Well over a year. More. Possibly two or three."

"You what?" His face darkened ominously and my spirits took another dive. "You little bastard, why the soddin' 'ell didn't you say something?"

I raised my glass, noted in passing the shimmer that said my hand was shaking. "Just as well I didn't, seein' your reaction." The liquid seemed to burn my suddenly cold stomach. Reached for the bottle to pour myself more, reckoned on needing it. "I'm sorry."

"Sorry! Wastin' all that bloody time and all you can say is sorry!" He was glaring at me, nostrils flaring, his whole body rigid with anger. Did my best not to shrink down in my chair.

"Didn't mean to make you angry," I said numbly. "Doesn't 'ave to matter, you can take it any way you like. Won't make any demands on--- 'ang about!" I straightened. "What do you mean, wasting time?"

"If you love me why the devil didn't you say so before?" he said furiously.

Something, somewhere, was beginning to make glorious sense.

"Wasting time... Bodie, you cretin, are you trying to tell me..."

"That I love you. Well you bloody know I do. Told you so, didn't I! Only all you did was stare down your nose and make sarky comments."

"When did you tell me? I don't remember you saying... What, you mean when I got shot?"

"Of course I mean when you got shot," he roared. "Poured me fuckin' 'eart out all over your bathroom floor and all you said was something about not knowing what to say. Felt a right bloody idiot. Thought you were telling me not to be so soddin' sentimental."

"Sentimental!" Angry myself, I got up, paced about to relieve building tension. "You didn't look sentimental. Looked as though someone 'ad a gun at your 'ead. I was sure you'd only made yourself say something because of me goin' all slack-mouthed that time you tried to let yourself get blown up."

"What?" I heard the slam of a glass onto the table and then he was up, grabbing my upper arms with fingers that bit through to the bone.

"I embarrassed you," I told him miserably. "Shouldn't embarrass your best mate but I couldn't seem to help it. Couldn't stop shakin...and then you were...were...didn't seem to care, didn't seem to think I ought to mind if it started raining Bodie...and I did mind...'ve minded for years."

"But Ann?" he said, releasing me as if I burned him and sitting down with a bump on the sofa. "What about Ann?"

I squirmed, rubbing my arms. I'd have a bruise there in the morning. "Might even've married her if things'd worked out that way. Bloody stupid thing to do, selfish too, but at the time...was trying to forget about us, trying to be conventional..."

He laughed, so short and sharp it was more of a bark. "You? Conventional? 's why it never would've worked, you and Ann. She'd've smothered you, and'd've broken her heart."

"If I could've found it," I agreed. "I probably would have."

He stared. "That's a pretty vicious thing to say." I shrugged. He stared some more then said, "It's a good thing I don't have any illusions about you. You're not going to break my heart, Ray Doyle, because I'll beat you into a pulp if you so much as try. Where's that bottle?"

"Here. Well, how about drinking to our future then?" I'd never asked a question as important to me before. Held my breath until he retorted, "What sort of future did you have in mind?" looking as wary as I felt and as scared as coming right out and saying the things that needed saying.

I went and crouched by the sofa. "I love you," I said, choosing my words as carefully as I could to say exactly what I meant to, no more and certainly no less. "I've loved you for a long time--sort of crept up on me. Dunno if it 'as anything to do with going to bed with you, don't think it 'as. I've been to bed with a lot of girls and not loved them thei way--and I've known for ages I want to be with you. Just you. Share your life for always if you'll let me. 'aven't 'ad a girl in a month of Sundays, not since Judy. Found I didn't care for just screwing any more, and makin' love's what I do with you. Not anyone else."

"But why didn't you say?" He sounded bewildered.

Now, I was just as puzzled. It seemed fatuous to have bottled it up, painful to both of us. "I dunno. Yeah, s'pose I do...was scared. Afraid you'd laugh...or be angry. Or get so embarrassed we couldn't work together any more. Didn't want to upset you."

"Upset me? Well, you've succeeded in doing that all right." He began to chuckle. "My god, what a pair of prats, dancin' around each other all coy and girlish!"

"Besides," I added, my unruly tongue uttering dangerous words before I even knew I was thinking them, "you didn't seem to want...didn't like...I'm not going to be bottom man all the time, not even for you..." He stuck his lip out at me in that irritating way of his and I glared back, not prepared to give way on this. "I mean that... I'm already getting impatient..."

He nodded. "Thought so."

"Is that all you're going to say?"

He patted the seat next to him. "Come up here."

His voice was husky, shivered through my blood. I sat beside him, close but not quite touching. His arm pulled me into his warmth, holding me there.

"You always were a contrary little sod," he said plaintively. "Told you months fun working at it. 'n then you went off the idea. Hardly come near me, have you, for ages. And when you have it's felt as if..." He broke off, turning to look at me in obvious puzzlement.

"Felt as if what?"

"Well, as if you were angry about something. As if you'd really rather be with someone else." He said it quietly, almost nervously.

Had I truly got him that concerned? What fools we can be; worry so much and make life so complicated we forget there can be simple explanations for complex reactions as well as the other way round.

"I was afraid, that's all."

"Afraid? What of?"

"Isn't it obvious? Of putting you off. Looking too keen. Acting possessive."

That long upper lip quivered. "Do I make you feel possessive?"

I nodded; better he should know the worst.

"You're a bigger idiot than I'd've thought possible," he said cheerfully, "and that goes for me, too. Pair of us ought to be put on exhibition as examples of how not to go about a relationship. Let's have it all out in the open, shall we? Put it into words."

My stomache lurched. "If you like. But you go first."

"OK." His hand took mine, lifted it to his lips. "Don't want girls," he said, nibbling my knuckles as if he was trying to muffle the words even as he spoke them. "Don't want any more one-night-stands. Want to concentrate on one person. Want that person to be you. Want to be everything you need all in one package. OK? Now's your turn."

"For the abatement of concupiscence," I agreed, dredging up a phrase I'd heard somewhere. "Good word that, innit!"

"Yeah. What's it mean?"

" 'avin it off with all and sundry?" I hazarded.

He gave a sceptical snort. "Think I'd better buy you a new O.E.D. for Christmas."

I looked hurt. "I've already got your pressie."

"Oh? What is it?" He bounced like a small boy, eyes alight.

"Me, of course, UNwrapped!"

"Goody, goody, I'll have it now."

"You," I retorted, fending him off, "will have it in the bedroom and like it."

"I'll like it just as much if I have it here."

"Bedroom!" I pointed.

"Oh, all right, all right," he sulked. "Have it your own way."

"I just remembered something else," I said, propping myself up with my hands each side of his ribs and staring down at him. "As well as abating concupiscence, marriage is for the mutual comfort of man and man."

"Bet that isn't what it says in the original."

"No," I conceded, "but 50% right's not bad."

"Marriage, eh? That serious?"

"I want everything," I told him, deadly serious. "Love, committment, cleaving... 'specially the cleaving..."

"Your best talent," he agreed, "when you finally get around to it, of course."

"Oh, I'm sorry. Feeling keen, are we?"

"I was." He let his head fall back, eyes closing, mouth opening in a feigned yawn that turned into a pained cry.

"That'll teach you to go to sleep on me..." I couldn't go on even pretending to be annoyed; his face wore the happiest smile I'd ever seen on him, a new tenderness alight for me, warming me down to my toes.

"Do you what you did once before," he begged. "You know, sucking me with your finger inside me."

"Kinky devil," I purred, grabbing a kiss before I set off on the scenic route down the bland, baby-smooth body, the narrow line of black hair pointing my path from navel to prick. He smells good enough to eat--just as well under the circumstances. I sat on him when he wriggled, withdrew my attention altogether when he threw me off, and had to make a hurried apology when he threatened to turn over and go to sleep if I didn't get on with it.

"Though you'd never be able to sleep with a hard on like that," I pointed out, running a fingertip up the impressive length of him.

He shrugged. "Nothing to stop me from havin' a wank, is there?"

I paused, snagging my lower lip in thoughtful teeth. "Nothing at all. So why don't you?"

"Why keep a dog and bark meself?"

"Woof!" I said, lips drawn back as I approached the head with its clear droplet. "Woof!"

"You wouldn't. Would you?" But he didn't sound too sure. Good thing, that, didn't want him taking anything about me for granted. I licked him appreciatively, up one side and down the other, lingering over the tastiest part. When I had him satisfactorily eager I said, from somewhere deep in my throat, "How about givin' us a hand, then?"

He took a second to answer. "Huh?"

"Come 'ere, give us your hand."

"What for?"

"You'll see. 's gonna be good. Come on." I wrapped his fingers round the base of his cock. "There, you work on that end, I'll fix the other."

Was a bit bumpy at first until we got a rhythm worked out, but after that it was...fine. Had my finger as far inside him as it would go when he finally came, gushing down my throat like a geyser at full throttle. Well, it seemed like that at the time. Couldn't wait for anything novel myself, just laid myself out on top of him and pushed a couple of times and I was there. Felt a million dollars.

His arms were heavy round my shoulders and his mouth muzzled my ear.

"The night's still young," he said, always the optimist, "don't go to sleep."

"Mnghthm," I agreed.

"Ah, come on, sweetheart. You promised me a night of priapismic bliss. Where's your stamina gone?"

I made a suggestion and he sniggered. "Nah, I'd've noticed. Oy! Wake up! You can't go to sleep on top of me, I want a beer, a shower, a sandwich and you, in that order."

I groaned. "Worn me out, you 'ave. Knackered me."

His arms tightened. "You're bloody good at that, you know," he whispered into my lug'ole. "Never 'ad it done like that before. Love you, Ray."

"Ah! You're a softy. Love you, too." I kissed him sweetly. Then, so he should know it was still the same old me I got up from the bed and strolled to the door, paused there and added, "Must be because I agree with what the Leaning Tower of Pisa said to Big Ben."

"What--you've got the inclination?"

"Nah--I'm a pushover for a big dong!"

He chased me all the way into the kitchen before I let me catch me.

-- THE END --

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