by O Yardley
"It's a bloody stupid idea," Bodie said gloomily.
Doyle added a third rug to the growing pile. "Yeah."
"We'll never make it--just look at the weather out there."
Not needing to--with the wind howling like a banshee he could tell the unprecedented blizzard was still raging--Doyle handed Bodie two huge thermos jugs.
"Inspector Parker's wife has lent us these--says we can send 'em back after Christmas, and one of the woopsies has got some packet soup we can put in 'em. They'll've got the kettle boiling by now."
Doyle chuckled and explained, separating each letter out pointedly. "W. P. Cs. Gets up their noses like nothing else when you call 'em that."
"Not surprised. Infantile sense of humour, you coppers." Bodie brightened temporarily. "Any chance of takin' a couple of them along to help keep us warm? Better than soup any day of the week."
"Not when you're lying in a ditch in a snowdrift," Doyle said tersely.
Bodie sighed. "No point in remindin' you that if we stay here we won't spend Christmas Eve night in a ditch, is there? Nice warm cell, hot and cold woopsies... they even bring you breakfast on a tray... bacon, eggs, nice cup of tea..."
"No. Promised Cowley we'd try and make it if we could."
"'s all right for him, tucked up nice and snug in a fancy hotel. Bet he's got a glass of scotch in his hand right now," Bodie said disgustedly. "Be just like him to forget to tell us the panic was over."
"Bodie, will you shut up?"
"Well, it is a crazy idea," the bigger man insisted.
"I know--'n havin' you moanin' on and on about it doesn't help any," snapped Doyle. "If you don't shut up I'm goin' by myself."
Bodie surveyed him, face twitching into a smile. "I'd say 'over my dead body' only I think it'd be an invitation to disaster." He struck a pose, declaiming dramatically, "Whither thou goest, I will go..."
Doyle raised his eyes to heaven. "If I was your mother-in-law I'd get a divorce. Come on, let's get this lot loaded so we can at least start in daylight."
Four and a half hours later, right in the middle of what looked like nowhere, they admitted defeat. Having slipped, slithered and slid their way along a road that should under normal circumstances have taken less than an hour to traverse, they were now impenetrably stuck, unable to move forwards or backwards and unsure whether they were actually on the road or not. Bodie expressed the gloomy opinion that they had left it some miles back for a cart track leading nowhere and Doyle, although outwardly scornful, was not all that certain he was not right. The snow, which earlier had stopped, was again lashing the windscreen, clogging the wipers. It was the only visible thing in a world of darkness and noise.
Bodie killed the engine, emphasising the wind's howl.
"Shall I say I told you so or would you like to go straight into bashin' me for bein' right?" he said amiably. "I reckon we're stuck here till daylight whether we like it or not. Dunno about you, but I've dug us out of too many snowdrifts already this evening to want to try any more." He wriggled his feet inside his borrowed wellingtons, uncomfortably aware of the snow that had melted inside them during that last sortie outside with spades and sacking. He wasn't at all sure the sole of the left one wasn't defective either, though he was not about to admit as much to Doyle.
"Can't see any lights, can you?"
Incredibly, the storm was apparently growing worse. Doyle had hardly thought it possible. Now that the engine was off, the car was losing heat rapidly.
"Better get ourselves wrapped up unless you want to do a Titus Oates."
"Just to save your skinny hide? Not bleedin' likely." Bodie twisted in his seat. "We'll be better off in the back--specially if we push both these right forwards."
Doyle leered. "You propositionin' me?"
"You should be so lucky, darlin'. Go on, shift your arse. Climb over into the back."
"Wouldn't it," Doyle said with exaggerated patience, "be simpler to open the door?"
"Open that door and I'll scrag you," Bodie threatened, meaning it. "'s already cold enough to freeze Cowley's heart in here."
"Oh, well, look on the bright side. Doesn't take much to do that, does it?" Doyle reached under the seat, groping for the lever that would alter its position. "There we are, that's as far as it will go."
He turned, sliding up and back in one movement.
"Mind my..." Bodie broke off--yelped. "...eye!" He held it tenderly. "God, you've got solid little elbows." He switched on the overhead light just in time to see a neat, brown velvet rump slide past his vision--what an eyeful for someone to dream about on lonely nights, pity it had been wasted on him.
"Oh, very nice," Doyle said sarcastically, drawing his knees up nearly under his ears in order to get his feet over the back of the passenger seat. "Let me tie myself in knots falling about in the dark an' then put the light on so you can see what you're doin'."
"I put it on so you can see to put the grub onto the front seat or the floor for a minute," Bodie said with unruffled dignity. "Don't want to ram a thermos up me backside for one thing, don't want to sit on the sandwiches for another. Wonder if they put in any mince pies for us like I asked." He slid his seat forward, ignoring Doyle's acid comment of "Why didn't you ask for a roast ox while you were at it?" as he helped to transfer the plastic boxes of food, two mugs, two thermos jugs and two rugs across.
"Where's the other rug, then?"
"Goin' under my left side already," Doyle said. "You can put one of them half under you later--wrap it around you, then the third one over the top of both of us and that should keep the draughts out."
"How cosy!" Bodie's tone scarcely matched the words but before Doyle could make any retort his partner reached up and switched the light off adding virtuously, "Can't afford to waste our battery, can we?"
Twenty panting minutes later Bodie at last managed to get his left leg out from between the steering wheel bars and slide the last three inches down onto the back seat. "Bloody ruptured meself," he groaned, hugging his aching ribs.
Doyle's wails of mirth had not helped at any point during the proceedings and Bodie was still darkly certain that at least four times Doyle had deliberately pushed his feet in precisely the wrong direction.
"Shouldn't be so fat," Doyle wheezed. "I mean muscular," he added hurriedly, "muscular--big 'n strong 'n butch!"
Bodie arranged a rug at his side, a big bubble of laughter still filling him: Doyle made everything such fun, even piss awful situations like this. "One thing--the exercise has warmed me up." He rubbed his hands with anticipatory relish, even able to forget his freezing feet at the prospect of something to eat. "Where's the grub then?"
Doyle peered at the luminous figures on his watch. "'s only eight o'clock."
"So? I'm hungry."
"You're always hungry--don't you think we ought to wait till later?"
"Whatever for? Come on, let's get at it. Few sandwiches and some of that oxtail soup...what could be better?"
They munched in comparative silence, inexplicably cheerful under the circumstances. It had been a mad idea starting out in the first place, but with Cowley screaming for every agent he could get and the Dunnaby police equally glad to see the backs of the two maddeningly know-all agents who had walked in and all but taken over their small town for the last two days it had been impossible to stay when there was just the vaguest chance they could get through.
"Mind you," Bodie said, draining the last of his soup, "don't expect the Cow to be grateful. He wouldn't have been that even if we'd got there an hour ago."
Doyle nodded assent, realised Bodie could not see him and said, "Yes," then tapped Bodie's arm with his empty mug. "How about some more soup or have you hogged the lot?"
"I only had a soupcon," Bodie quipped happily, fumbling for the flask down by his right leg somewhere and ignoring Doyle's groan at his pun. He unscrewed the cork, felt around for Doyle's held-out mug and stuck one finger down into it.
"What are you doing?" Doyle said suspiciously.
"Makin' sure I don't pour it all over both of us, of course. Hold still, will you!"
Doyle sucked noisily at the hot liquid, mug held in one hand while he took Bodie's for him in the other. "Better not drink too much of this now."
"Why not?" Bodie put the flask away and put out a careful hand for his mug.
"Be glad of it later on tonight, maybe, 's gonna get a lot colder before morning. Don't want to keep gettin' out for a leak, either."
Bodie shuddered and muttered something so vulgar that Doyle decided to pretend he hadn't heard it. "Just be grateful you're not a woman," he said severely, acknowledging the sentiment behind the words if not their actual significance.
"I am--stuck in the back seat of a car with you all night-- spend most of me time fending you off, I shouldn't wonder. I've heard all about your naughty little ways. Hey, what's this?" He delved into the second plastic box.
The sound of noisy chewing ensued and then Bodie said thickly, "'s a mince pie, that's what. Somebody back there loved us after all."
"Give us one then." Doyle held out a hand. "Glad to see the back of us, you mean."
"You sure you ought to? Full of cholesterol, these."
"I'm sure you ought not to eat the lot," Doyle retorted. "Mmm, lovely, all covered in sugar."
"Yeah." Bodie licked his own lips, suddenly sharply aware that only inches away Doyle's pink 'n sexy little tongue was engaged in scooping its own load of gritty sweetness. Mildly confused without wanting to track down why he said aloud, "I feel a lot better now."
"Me too. An' what do you mean, my naughty little ways?" Doyle demanded indignantly.
Bodie had been sure Doyle wouldn't be able to resist asking. He chuckled. "Shouldn't go out with my birds, should you! I heard all about you from Carol."
"Oh, Carol." Bodie could hear the smile in his partner's voice. "She's a bit of all right is your Carol. Wish I was with her now." He sighed fondly.
"No chance," Bodie told him. "It was me she invited over for Christmas dinner. Playin' hide 'n seek with the IRA's no substitute for Carol's mum's cookin' and a six foot tree."
"You're just a baby at heart. Put the mistletoe back at the station to good use though, didn't we?"
"They were queuein' up for us," Bodie agreed, "even the tea lady. Still, look at the standard of the opposition. Not much to boast about really. D'you realise it's Christmas Day tomorrow?"
"Course I realise it. Doesn't time fly when you've been enjoyin' yourself," Doyle said acidly.
"Yeah. Could've sworn it was nearly midsummer by now the days have gone by so fast up here in the snowy, Arctic wastes," Bodie agreed. He shivered. "You finished eating?"
"Good. Let's put the rug properly over us. I'm getting cold." His feet were rapidly losing all sensation.
"Are you?" Doyle sounded surprised. "Amount of clothes you wear I'd've thought you'd be nice and snug." But he took hold of the third rug and pulled it up higher.
Bodie adjusted his share, tucking it in around him and resisting the temptation to snuggle closer to the beautiful heat Doyle was putting out. "What d'you mean, amount of clothes? Got no more on than you have, mate."
"Thought you'd have a thermal vest and long johns on under that lot, knowing you. Wear your jumpers up to the chin too."
"Polonecks are comfortable, an' they look a damn sight neater than your tatty tee-shirts," Bodie defended himself. "You can use them to keep your ears warm, too." He unfolded his and drew it up, covering half his face.
"Some of us have enough hair to keep our heads warm," Doyle said smugly. "Thought you were getting a bit thin on top."
Bodie pulled the stretchy neck down again preparatory to a precise statement of his opinions when he decided against it and instead announced pathetically, "It's my feet that're so bloody cold. Think these wellies have got a hole in 'em."
"What?" Doyle came upright. "Have you got wet feet?"
He sounded positively accusing, a sure sign he was concerned. Bodie smiled to himself, determined to get his partner's full sympathy at the very least. "Well, my left one's wet," he said, adding bravely, "but I think the other one's dried out now so maybe it'll start warming up soon."
"Stupid fool," Doyle snapped."Get your bloody boots off now-- 'f you think I want to cope with you with frost bitten feet you must be crazy. Get 'em off."
"I am, I am," Bodie protested, smothering a chuckle and struggling manfully within the hampering confines of driving seat, rugs, intrusive thermoses. He paused, "Er...you do mean the boots, don't you?"
"Very funny. Come on, give us your foot, let me have a go."
Bodie obediently raised a foot and submitted to Doyle's ministrations, glad the pervasive darkness hid his satisfied smirk. This was the best yet, getting his partner to warm his feet for him.
"Bloody hell--this one's soaking," Doyle said, running his hand along the socked instep. "Come on, get these off too. What about your right foot?"
Bodie presented it happily. "I think it's just cold. Always get cold inside wellies--'s why I wear two pairs of socks." He separated the wet ones and, stretching forward, draped them over the steering wheel to dry.
"Good thing too. You can put one of this dry pair on your other foot in a minute," Doyle said. "Gimme both your feet up here."
Bodie twisted sideways on the seat, not quite sure what Doyle was going to do and nearly falling off when Doyle clamped the socked one firmly between his thighs, right up to his crotch, and then opened his sheepskin jacket and pulled the bared foot up under his sweater and began to rub it with warm, firm strokes.
Sharply aware of the press of woollen shirt, small buttons and Ray Doyle against one sole and the soft swelling of Doyle's sex beneath the ball and toes of the other, Bodie submitted meekly, encountering sensations he could neither identify nor prevent and so grateful for the warmth against his aching cold that all thought of triumph or protest fled from his mind. After several minutes slowly sensual attention, he was uninhibitedly flexing his foot to the rhythm of Doyle's stroking, eyes closed in silent wonder.
"I keep expecting you to purr," Doyle said abruptly.
"Just so long as I don't use me claws," Bodie said sleepily, arching his right foot to draw his toes down Doyle's belly, finding a hard ridge beneath the warm velvet that had not been there before. He froze, unable to move away, unable to speak.
Doyle said softly, "Doesn't take much to get me goin', I'm sorry. Take no notice. You warmin' up?"
"Very nicely," Bodie said a little stupidly, a warm glow pervading him that was not purely physical. His normally quick tongue had seized up, giving no easy quip to defuse a potentially awkward situation; luckily for them both, Ray seemed marvellously indifferent to his own condition and Bodie could do no less than match his calmness if only outwardly so while the comfortable rubbing continued; he sat back and accepted it without further comment, only shifting the offending foot further down Doyle's thighs which slackened to permit the departure and then closed tightly on him once more.
"OK now?" Doyle folded warm sheepskin around Bodie's foot. "Leave 'em there for a bit; no point in not makin' sure they're properly warm 'n havin' to do it all over again, is there?"
"No, s'pose not." Bodie found an ease from somewhere and stayed where he was. He pulled the rug comfortably up over them and a cosy silence followed.
"Wind's dropped," Doyle said some longish time later, peering up out of the rear window. "Sky's clearing too. I can see a star up there."
"How romantic." Bodie huddled deeper into the rug. "How about Three Kings?"
"Keep forgettin' it's Christmas Eve," Doyle said reflectively.
Bodie chuckled, amused by a sudden realisation. "I don't." He pointed a rug-covered finger towards the steering wheel. "I hung up stockings for both of us, didn't I? Hope you've got a pressie for me stowed away somewhere."
"Incurable optimist, you are," Doyle said sleepily.
Feet nice and warm now, Bodie was still reluctant to move from this enforced intimacy but at last conscience and consideration for Doyle's comfort made him withdraw from his two little nests and pull the spare sock from one foot and place it on the other before pushing both back into the chilly wellington boots.
"Getting bloody cold," he said.
"Bound to if the sky's clear," Doyle muttered, snuggling down.
Seeing his partner obviously settling for the night, Bodie abandoned idle chatter in favour of trying to get some rest. They had passed over the awkward little incident without open embarrassment on either side and after a good night's sleep it would be all forgotten in the flurry of trying to find civilisation once more.
But Bodie could not sleep.
Even huddled inside the rugs as he was, he grew steadily colder and colder as minutes and then hours went by; restless and yet unable to move for fear of disturbing the still figure of his partner he sat and stared numbly at the frosted windows, wishing he dared creep closer and share a little of that always incredible body-warmth. If it had not been for what had happened earlier he would have done it, unselfconsciously and without thought, but for some reason, despite Doyle's placid insouciance, Bodie simply could not behave as if nothing had occurred.
Not much to get him going, Doyle had said, as though such arousal was commonplace with him. Bodie had long known his partner to be a sensual man, highly so, if any woman kissed him he kissed back regardless, even old Marge Harper that time in the back of her Rolls, one desperate eye rolling Bodie's way even while his lips were on a trip all of their own, their reaction involuntary, unstoppable.
A sudden, sharp longing shook Bodie to test this for himself, see if the full, sensual mouth would answer his with the same, unquestioning promptness.
Christ, he'd really flipped, sitting in the middle of a snowdrift on Christmas Eve thinking unprecedented, lascivious and wholly delicious thoughts about the innocently sleeping Doyle. He cast a fearful look at the face just visible in the eerie, white snowlight. Propped between rear and side windows, only the marred cheekbone was clearly to be seen, endearingly familiar...
The bitter cold seemed to have burrowed down to his bones and he was shivering deeply.
A quiet, sleepy voice--but Bodie jumped at the sound. A bright eye peered at him.
Bodie could not deny it, the shakes were getting worse and it wasn't just the cold but he could scarcely tell Doyle that.
The eye came closer, inspected him, and in one smooth movement he was surrounded in a cloud of Doyle heat: hard body, enveloping limbs and fantasy come true...
Frantically clutching at reality only to find that, fatally, it wore Doyle's form, he buried his frozen nose in a mist of warm curls.
"Nice," he murmured inadequately. "Very nice."
Warm mist lifted, resolved into gleam of eyes, thrust of nose touching his--and nearly as cold he noted absently--dark cavern of parted mouth, a moist, enticing heat.
Bodie did not even hear his own throaty rumble as he moved that last, bare inch.
It did, he thought deliriously, even for him the mouth responded, live and giving.
Long minutes later a small shaky voice said, "What's the time?"
Bodie was incoherent enough to take the question seriously. "Just after one, why?"
"That's OK then."
Maybe this made sense to Doyle, it made none to Bodie.
"What you on about?" he asked, mildly cross with this intrusion of the real world.
Doyle's head lifted; even in the starlight Bodie could see he was smiling, eyes huge and shiny. "Wanted that for my Christmas present," he said. "Had one for you. 's in my pocket. Bit squashed. Didn't think you'd want it either. Any case, shouldn't open it till Christmas Day."
"Well, it is Christmas Day," Bodie pointed out. This mad conversation suited the moment, did not even surprise him. "What've you got me?"
Doyle fumbled. "This."
Bodie squinted at it. "What the hell..."
"Mistletoe--pinched it from the bunch back at Dunnaby nick, didn't hope you'd want to use it though."
Bodie looked at the squashed, bent twigs. "You serious?"
Impossibly, Doyle's eyes widened further. "Don't tell me you were still asleep just now," he said incredulously.
"Haven't been to sleep at all," Bodie said irrelevantly.
"I was serious," Doyle said quietly, then added quickly, "You are a dumb idiot, if you were that cold you only had to come over--you're the soldier, know all about survival techniques..."
Getting no reply he tilted his head back, gazing at Bodie resolutely. In the colour-leaching gloom, Bodie knew even those intent, gleaming eyes could not read his expression and so he did not fear self-betrayal; he forgot how well Doyle knew him.
"What's the matter--did I scare you earlier on?" Doyle asked astutely.
"Not scare." Where had that harsh croak come from? Bodie hadn't meant to speak the words but they were out, irretrievable. Doyle was very still for a moment, then a long sighing breath floated past Bodie's face, ruffling his hair, tickling over his neck.
"You jumped a mile." The tone was serious, worried, not accusatory.
"Wasn't expecting it, was I?" Bodie said weakly. "New to me... been thinkin' about it ever since..."
"About us, of course." A sudden yawning pit gaped before Bodie. "You mean...it wasn't me...that you just...I mean..."
Doyle took pity on him. "Course it was for you," he said scornfully, "but like I said, I do turn on easily. It doesn't matter--unless you want it to."
Lightheaded, not quite with reality, Bodie stood at the end of a long tunnel that led where he wanted to be: all he had to do was traverse it safely. "You still got something for me?" he asked softly.
He felt Doyle smile against his cheek and then a hand fumbled for his, took it and laid it over hard, velvet trapped heat. "Yeah. You?"
Bodie was smiling too. "Find it. Half the fun--treasure seeking..." Doyle did. Unerringly. Bodie gulped as he was held, gentle pressure assuaging the growing ache. "You cheated. Knew your way."
A breathless chuckle. "I'll take it slower next time. Wanted to be sure."
Next time! Bodie gulped again, wanting to move, unable to with the combination of Doyle-weight and restricted space. "Wanna love you," he said desperately, hand scrabbling to get some grip.
"Goin' the right way about it," Doyle said in his ear, wriggling ferociously. "Go on like that an'...God, Bodie, I'm gonna...gonna..."
But Bodie was slipping over his own precipice.
"We," Bodie said, his voice breaking even in a whisper, "are gonna regret that in a minute. 's gonna be sticky 'n cold 'n..."
"Beautiful." A warm Doyle-growl in his ear, sensual and contented.
"That too," Bodie agreed. "You know something--it felt like coming home."
There was a kind of muffled 'woof' in his already moist ear and then Doyle hugged him tightly. "Y'know, that's the most wonderful thing anyone's ever said to me."
"Well, it's true." Bodie gathered him in closer, tucked the curls under his chin. "You OK?"
"Perfect...just perfect." Doyle said sleepily.
Bodie smiled. "Think I knew that-- wanted to know if you were comfortable." He pulled the rug around them, a cocoon against a hostile world.
"Think you'll sleep now?"
Bodie was going to answer but all of a sudden, inexplicably, it was light in the car and he was cramped, stiff, aching and happy in feeling Doyle waking close to him.
"Lovely'n warm," he murmured. "Bloody feet are still cold though."
"I'm not warmin' 'em up again--leads to all kinds of things. Happy Christmas." Doyle shifted, kissing him lightly. "Still OK this morning? No second thoughts?"
"Give me time," Bodie grumbled. "I'll think up something. Happy Christmas."
"Aren't you going to open your stocking?" Doyle asked slyly.
"Stocking?" Bodie frowned. "What..." He sat up. "What've you been doing to my socks?"
He leaned over, grabbing them from the steering wheel. One of them contained a squashed sprig of mistletoe and a soggy mince pie.
Doyle chuckled. "Goin' to look after you, you see."
"I see." Bodie surveyed him solemnly. "Well, just carry on the way you have been and I'll make no complaints. Come on, let's brave the elements."
"Just a minute." One hand on Bodie's shoulder, curls brushing his face ticklishly, Doyle said shyly, "Shan't ever want to forget last night."
"Won't get the chance," Bodie said with smug satisfaction. "Intend to keep reminding you--one way or another. But you can always write in down in your diary in case you lose your memory some time."
"Mmm." Doyle considered the notion. "A sort of Christmas memo."
"Or a Yule Log," said Bodie, aware it was a bad pun even by his standards.
The soggy mince pie caught him on the ear as he opened the door.
-- THE END --