Guilty Secrets


Note.: This story is a sequel to another that I never finished to my satisfaction. The earlier story simply laid out the background, which should be clear from context.

A sudden noise woke Ray Doyle from his sleep, and he glanced blearily about the darkened room. Rain tapping against the window pane alerted him to a storm going by; that was what had wakened him. With a yawn, he turned up on his side to face away from the window and cuddled his head into the pillow, ready to drop back into deep sleep.

It was only when his knee bumped the mass occupying the other half of the bed that Doyle remembered Bodie was there. Signs of a security breach at Bodie's flat had forced him to move out hastily, and he had no place to stay while CI5 was preparing him more secure housing. Doyle had offered to share for a few days, and Bodie had taken him up on the offer. That was not so surprising in itself, but it was a minor miracle that Bodie had agreed to sleep in Doyle's bed, even given the consideration that the bed was large enough for three and the sofa a good half-metre too small for one. Bodie knew that Doyle fancied him, and after some of the things he had gone through in his youth, that knowledge had to make him uncomfortable. But since he had found out, he had shown no sign of avoiding Doyle.

And if not exactly a miracle, it was certainly a triumph of good sense that Doyle had been able to keep his hands off his partner. Despite the nature of some of his hottest fantasies, he had no intention of taking advantage of a friend. He wanted Bodie to learn to trust him. Surely, if the man could trust Doyle with his life every day, it couldn't take him too long to realize that his virtue was safe as well.

Recalling this vow of chastity, Doyle moved his knee carefully out of contact with Bodie's still form and prepared to turn back over the other way. Just then, a stark flash of lightning illuminated the room, and Doyle felt the bed jerk as his partner stiffened.

He lifted his head. "Bodie?"

"G'back to sleep, Ray," Bodie replied tightly.

"Did I wake you?"

"Not tired, that's all," Bodie said. And that was a lie, for he had been yawning fit to break his jaw when they finished their long shift that evening.

As thunder rumbled, Doyle had a revelation. "Storm's making you nervous, innit?" he asked with delight. Fancy macho Bodie being frightened of a thunderstorm!

"'Course not. This is nothing to the storms we used to see--"

"--In Africa," Doyle finished with his partner. "Always bloody Africa. Everything bigger and better."

"Bigger and worse," Bodie corrected.

Lightning flashed again, and this time Doyle saw the flinch. He pushed himself up on one elbow. "It really is bugging you!"

Bodie turned his head on the pillow and glared at him. "I'm not afraid of the flippin' storm! It's couldn't sleep through a storm, in Africa. Might get you killed. The rain, the mud--I saw a chap hit by lightning once. Dead instantly."

"We're perfectly safe here, you know. You won't be hit by lightning indoors."

"I know, but I can't sleep through it, any more than I could sleep under fire. If someone was shooting at me, I could do something--shoot back, take cover, run. Now all I can do is lie and wait for it to end."

Doyle considered a moment. "C'mere," he said at last, tugging on Bodie's elbow.

His partner frowned at him. "What?"

Doyle sat up and shifted closer to Bodie's side. "C'mere." He put his arm around Bodie's shoulders.

"What're you doing? I'm not a bloody infant, you know!"

"I know. But it isn't your mind that's scared, it's your reflexes. What you need is a bit of human contact, to convince your instincts you're safe. Just lie down and relax."

Slowly, stiffly, Bodie eased down on his side next to Doyle, who waited patiently for his partner to relax, smoothing one hand reassuringly across the bare shoulders.

Doyle had no intention of starting anything with this embrace; it was meant to be another demonstration of his trustworthiness. He was still groggy enough from sleep that he hardly expected his body to betray him. But as Bodie slowly melted against his side and rested his head on Doyle's shoulder, the scent of him, sharp and musky, rose to fill Doyle's nostrils. Feeling a twinge in his groin, Doyle shifted his hips aside.

It was too late; Bodie had felt the stirring there. For a moment he seemed to freeze, then he exploded into action. In the blink of an eye, he was poised with his forearm across Doyle's throat, his right hand pinning Doyle's left to the mattress. "What the hell are you trying to pull, Doyle?" he growled.

The sudden movement only made Doyle's desire stronger, but he remained motionless, meeting his partner's eyes steadily in the dim light. "Nothing," he said softly, his voice hoarsened by the pressure on his throat. "I wasn't going to do anything, Bodie. You know you can trust me."

Bodie's eyes widened briefly as he stared down; then, with a muttered curse, he threw himself off the bed and stalked around to the far side.

Doyle sat up and crossed his wrists over his knees, heart pounding with a combination of fear and excitement. They both knew that Bodie could have killed him with very little effort, and might have done if he had been anyone else. "Where are you going?" he asked as his partner pulled on a shirt over the briefs he had worn to bed.

"Make myself a cuppa," Bodie snapped. "Can't sleep anyway."

Doyle fell back against the pillows and cursed himself for a fool. He should have left well enough alone. But listening to his friend putter in the kitchen, he couldn't stay away. With a sigh he got up and reached for his robe.

Leaning against the frame of the kitchen doorway, Doyle said, "Truly, Bodie. I didn't mean anything by it. I just wanted to make you feel better."

Bodie slammed the kettle down onto the stove, his back stiff. Stalking to within a few inches of Doyle, he glared into his partner's eyes. "Make me feel better, is that it? How, with this?" He shot out one hand and cupped it over Doyle's obvious arousal.

Doyle gasped in surprise, bereft of speech. He was hard as a rock now, and Bodie had never touched him so intimately before. He closed his eyes and bit back a groan of desire.

Disgusted, Bodie turned back to the stove.

"That's hardly fair," Doyle managed at last, a little breathlessly. "There's more to me than a bunch of sexual reflexes. I wouldn't take advantage of you."

"That's what they all say, isn't it?" Bodie muttered.

"Dammit, Bodie, not every man is like the bastard who raped you!"

"You want sex, don't you? You want to fuck me up the arse!"

Doyle sighed. "No."

Bodie whirled to stare at him. "What, you want me to fuck you, then? That is disgusting!"

There was a bitter taste in Doyle's mouth. "I don't want to have sex with you," he said steadily. "I want to make love to you."

"Same bloody difference!"

"No, it's not." Doyle moved forward slowly. "It's not the same at all." He lifted a hand and pressed it gently against Bodie's cool cheek, stroking down to his neck and shoulders. Then he leaned forward to claim the narrow, mysterious mouth.

It was an affectionate kiss, tongueless, but Doyle could still taste the sweetness of his partner's lips. The stubble on their chins rasped together. When he felt Bodie pull away, he ended the kiss and watched him gravely.

Bodie backed up until he bumped against the counter, frowning fiercely. He raised one hand to his mouth, but did not try to rub the kiss away.

"You trust me every day with your life," Doyle breathed. "Don't you think you can trust me with this?" As Bodie had done earlier, he moved one hand forward to stroke the bulge in his partner's briefs, making it a caress rather than a grab.

Beneath the confining cotton, Bodie was hard and throbbing.

His pulse leaping with delight, Doyle looked into his partner's eyes and saw the reluctant admission of desire there. Very slowly, he eased his fingers inside the elastic of the briefs and pushed them down over Bodie's hips. He sank down to kneel on the floor, stroking the outsides of Bodie's thighs, then moved his hands back to the center and took Bodie in his grasp.

Bodie pushed against his shoulders. "Get away," he growled, an edge of panic in his voice.

Letting his hands fall, Doyle sat back on his heels. He looked up to meet his partner's gaze. "I won't do anything you don't want," he promised. "Tell me to stop and I will."

Bodie's mouth twisted with words he could not say.

Slowly, watching for signs of fear or reluctance, Doyle raised his hands again and stroked Bodie's full, silken shaft. He rubbed one thumb over the sensitive head, finding a drop of dew at the tip and massaging it into the soft skin. Raising one hand to his mouth, he wet the palm and fingers and returned to grip Bodie's arousal firmly, beginning a slick slide up and down the length of it.

Bodie caught a trembling breath.

Still moving slowly to give Bodie time to object, Doyle leaned forward and drew his tongue along the underside of the shaft from base to crown. With smaller strokes, he licked around the bulge at the tip.

"Take it," Bodie rasped suddenly. "Take it. You know you want it."

Disturbed by the tone, Doyle leaned back and looked up at his friend's face. He wrapped one hand around Bodie's cock and caressed it slowly to keep the excitement at a plateau. "I do want it," he said softly. "I wouldn't do this if I didn't. Neither of us has to do anything we don't want."

Bodie stared, his lips moving soundlessly, then closed his eyes and tipped his head back as Doyle moved forward to engulf him. A groan escaped him as Doyle sucked gently, pulsing his lips against the soft skin.

Doyle set up an easy rhythm, moving forward and back as he suckled. When Bodie tried to thrust too hard, threatening to choke him, Doyle set his hands on his partner's hips and firmly established that he was in command here. As the pace of his movements picked up, Bodie's hands came to rest on Doyle's head, tangling in the thick curls and urging him on.

When he tasted the impending climax, Doyle pulled his head back and wrapped both hands firmly around Bodie's shaft, squeezing gently. With a sob, Bodie came, his hot ecstasy spraying over Doyle's chest and throat.

Doyle released his partner and bent to lick away the last drops of the precious fluid. Bodie was panting for air; he must have been holding his breath for the better part of a minute. Doyle rose to his feet, running a hand up from Bodie's hips, over his shirt, behind his shoulder to clasp his neck.

Bodie stared at him, mouth open and blue eyes darkened with desire.

Doyle smiled very gently and rubbed two fingers in the moistness cooling on his chest. His robe had fallen open at some point, and now he was exposed to Bodie's view. He licked at the salty fluid on his fingertips, then swept up another fingerful and offered it to Bodie.

Bodie blinked, then grasped Doyle's wrist with an unsteady hand and pulled the two fingers toward him. He licked tentatively at first, with swift flicks of his tongue. Then, holding Doyle's gaze, he took both fingers in his mouth and sucked.

Suddenly weak at the knees, Doyle reached out to brace himself on the counter behind Bodie. He had the hardest erection he could remember, and felt ready to explode at a single touch.

Bodie released the fingers and glanced down, his brow puckering at Doyle's reaction. "I--I can't," he whispered.

Doyle sucked in a deep breath and forced himself to stand upright. "You don't have to," he said shakily. He pulled his robe closed and tried to gather his wits together. The kettle was sending up merry clouds of steam. "Tea's ready," he got out matter-of-factly, turning toward the stove. "Did you get cups out?"

As Doyle was reaching out to turn off the stove, Bodie came up behind him and pulled the slighter man back against his chest. Doyle gasped to feel the firm muscles supporting him. Then Bodie slipped a hand through the front of his robe and closed firm fingers around Doyle's erection.

Doyle moaned, thrusting uncontrollably into the fist Bodie provided. His partner helped out with knowing moves of his fingers, and within seconds Doyle filled Bodie's hand with hot cream. He would have sunk bonelessly to the floor without the support of Bodie's arm across his stomach.

Once Doyle had gotten his feet under him again, Bodie stepped away silently and washed his hand at the sink. "You want a cup?" he asked in a perfectly normal tone.

"N-no," Doyle stammered. "Think I'd better go have a shower; I'm a mess." He coordinated his muscles enough to head for the door. "Go back to bed, Bodie," he mumbled. "Storm's over. You can still get some sleep before morning."

But when Doyle emerged, damp and flushed, he found his friend sitting on the bed in the darkness, knees drawn up within the circle of his arms. Alarmed by the protective posture, Doyle flicked on the light.

"Bodie? Are you all right?"

Bodie didn't speak or look up. His face might have been graven in stone.

Chilled, Doyle settled slowly onto the other side of the bed. He wanted to take his partner in his arms and soothe away the distress, but he guessed that it might be better to avoid physical contact just now. "Bodie? I'm sorry, mate, I didn't mean to push you into anything."

Still no response.

"I thought--I just wanted you to have a chance to see that, that sex between two men doesn't have to be as bad as what happened to you before. It doesn't have to be about one person using the other." Had he been using Bodie?

Bodie took a slow, deep breath. "I'm all right, Ray." His voice was quite calm. "I just--I don't know what I want, anymore. Not sure I ever did."

Doyle relaxed slightly. "That's to be expected, after all that bastard did to confuse you."

Bodie had not named the man who molested him as a boy; in Doyle's mind he was simply "that bastard" who had hurt his friend. But the abuse had been more than simply physical or sexual; the man had repeatedly told Bodie that he wanted to be raped, giving him a dark, twisted view of passion at an age when children should be unaware of such things.

"Look," Doyle said carefully, curling his hands into light fists to keep himself from reaching out. "If you want, I'll promise never to lay a hand on you again."

Bodie's eyes slid sideways, and Doyle was relieved to see a flicker of humour there. "That would be hard, working together every day."

Doyle shrugged. "Have to admit, I'd hate to lose my best sparring partner. But I'll try, if you want. I'll go sleep on that damned sofa right now, if it'll make you feel better."

"No need." Bodie opened his arms and let his knees fall to a cross- legged position. "Would you really let me fuck you?" he asked distantly.

Doyle swallowed hard. "Yes."

Bodie looked up. "Why? It couldn't be any good for you."

"Yes, it could." Doyle held his partner's gaze. "It can be bloody marvellous, when it's done right. When two people--care about each other."

A long minute went by, with neither speaking. Then Doyle sighed, rose to turn off the light, and hung his robe by the door. He slipped in between the sheets and lay face down on the bed, head turned away from his partner. Bodie showed no inclination to lie down.

Doyle was just starting to drift into the state of vagueness that precedes sleep when he felt a hand touch his shoulder. It ran slowly down the length of his back, caressing him through the sheet. He turned his head the other way, to face Bodie, signalling that he was awake and ready to talk, or listen. But Bodie said nothing, only moved his hand up again to Doyle's shoulders and insinuated it under the edge of the sheet.

Bodie's weight shifted closer to Doyle's side of the bed, and then two hands were playing over the muscles in his back, rubbing gently. At first they confined themselves to his shoulders; slowly they moved downward, tickling a little in the small of his back. At last they reached the curve of his buttocks, stroking first with a maddeningly light touch, then kneading the flesh with more confidence.

After his earlier, explosive orgasm, it didn't take much for Doyle to become aroused again, and he was beginning to be uncomfortable lying on his stomach. But he didn't dare move; he was almost afraid to breathe. He lay perfectly still while his partner's caresses slowly gained confidence and purpose. When Bodie pushed the sheet down to rest on Doyle's thighs, then leaned forward and placed an open-mouthed kiss on his shoulder, a shiver went through his lean frame.

Bodie's hand moved down again, parting the cheeks and seeking. Doyle reached back and circled his partner's wrist with one hand.

Bodie pulled away at once.

Without turning his head, Doyle fumbled open the drawer of his bedside table and brought out a tube of lubricating jelly. He laid it on the pillow above his head, where Bodie could reach it. Then he waited, feeling almost as if he were trying to lure some wild creature to him.

Bodie must have picked up the tube so stealthily that Doyle never felt his movement, for when the fingers returned they were slick and chill. They pressed against the ring of tight muscles and found a way within.

Doyle took a shuddering breath and lifted his hips, as much to free his erection from confinement as to deepen the penetration. Gaining confidence, Bodie continued the exploration, adding moist kisses to Doyle's shoulder and featherlight strokes of his free hand until Doyle was biting his lip to keep from crying out.

Then Bodie's fingers slipped away and his weight shifted on the bed. Doyle moved away from the edge of the bed in anticipation, and sighed when he felt his partner's knees pressing between his thighs. Bracing one hand next to Doyle's hip, Bodie began to push his entry.

It was awkward at first, and Doyle had to inch upward to adjust the angle. Bodie pulled back and added more lubrication, then tried again, and this time he slid in smoothly. Doyle moaned into the mattress. Bodie pulled out slowly and thrust in again, making Doyle shudder with delight.

Suddenly Bodie's movements became sharper, harsher. He grabbed Doyle's hips and dug in with his fingernails. Doyle grunted to indicate discomfort, arching his back upward to control the penetration. Bodie continued to thrust hard and pulled Doyle up to meet him.

"Easy, mate," Doyle said, breaking their long silence. When this brought no response, he called out, "Bodie, it's me. Ray!"

Bodie froze, and his hands leaped away from Doyle. Pressing against the mattress, he started to pull away.

Doyle lifted his hips in protest. "Don't stop," he pleaded. "Just take it slow and easy."

Bodie breathed in tortured gasps. "God, Ray, I'm--"

"It's all right, Bodie. Just keep going."

Slowly Bodie pressed in again, and Doyle moaned with relief.

"Yes, that's good," he encouraged. "Just like that. A little deeper--aah!" Words deserted Doyle as Bodie's cock rubbed against his prostate. He reached down with one hand and squeezed his fingers around his own shaft. Unable to manage speech, he urged Bodie on with passionate groans until he felt his own excitement approaching a climax. Bodie was silent, but his uneven breathing and the fine trembling in his legs as they pressed against Doyle's gave testament to his arousal.

There was that perfect instant, when Doyle felt his orgasm inevitable just over the horizon, when each movement of Bodie's sent pleasure shooting along his nerves, when the two of them seemed fused into one unit--as perfectly teamed as ever they were on assignment--then Doyle came with a cry and felt Bodie spurting into him at the same time. He released one last groan of ecstasy and sank flat against the mattress.

Bodie never relaxed completely. He pulled himself free and rolled out from between Doyle's legs, leaving only one hand on his shoulder as a continuing link between them. "You all right, mate?" he asked.

"Just fine," Doyle mumbled.

"You're sure? I didn't--"

Doyle turned up on his side. "It was lovely," he said. "I told you it could be."

Bodie stared at him inscrutably, then stalked off to the bathroom. He didn't close the door, but Doyle could hear water running. With a sigh, he availed himself of the box of tissues next to the bed, swiping at the wet spot on the sheets.

When Bodie returned, he straightened the bedcovers wordlessly and slipped in on his own side, lying curled in his usual position. Doyle considered briefly, then scooted closer to his partner and spooned himself against Bodie's back. There was no protest as Doyle snaked an arm under Bodie's elbow and clasped it around his chest. Doyle pulled his pillow to a more comfortable position and closed his eyes contentedly, breathing in Bodie's scent.

"Warm," Bodie said at last.

"Hmm?" Doyle was more than half asleep.

"You're so warm, Raymond."

"Spent too much time in the jungle, you did," Doyle mumbled in return. But he extended his legs and found that, sure enough, Bodie's feet were chilled. He tucked his own between them and planted a quick kiss at the base of Bodie's neck. "G'night, sunshine."

"Night, Ray."

Doyle woke disoriented to the smell of food. He was sprawled diagonally across the middle of the bed, and there was no sign of Bodie. Scratching at the stubble on his chin, Doyle got up and pulled on his robe.

Bodie was in the kitchen frowning over a sizzling pan of sausages and eggs. Doyle blinked at the sight; usually Bodie was more interested in eating food than preparing it. But the sausage smelled wonderful, and a pot of coffee sat invitingly on the table.

Bodie glanced up as Doyle reached for the pot. "Morning, Goldilocks."

Doyle grunted in reply and gulped at his coffee. Then, feeling that something more was required, he offered, "Smells good."

"It's almost ready. Sit down. There's toast just behind you."

Doyle claimed a slice of still-warm toast and slathered it with jam. "This's nice," he sighed as the food and the caffeine began to stimulate him to a normal state of awareness.

"Took longer than I expected," Bodie said, setting a plate in front of his partner. "We've less than an hour to get to work."

Doyle noted that Bodie had already showered, shaved, and dressed, which meant that he would have to do the cleaning up while Doyle got ready. "Up early, were you?" He didn't remember Bodie getting out of bed.

Bodie hesitated. "Another storm came by. I've been up for a bit." He settled opposite with his own plate, bearing about twice as much food as Doyle's. "It's another long day ahead, as well."

Doyle nodded. "But tomorrow free." He wondered what they would do with the free time. Spend it together? In bed, or out on the town? Bodie was making no mention of the events of last night, and Doyle, too, found himself wanting to pretend that nothing had changed. Yet everything had.

"Full already?" Bodie asked suddenly.

Doyle realized that he was sitting with his fork poised halfway between the plate and his mouth. Stuffed, he wanted to reply, but he bit off the pun. "Just half-asleep," he said. "Woolgathering." He applied himself to the food and wiped the last bits up with a crust of toast. "Best get myself cleaned up," he said at last, and hesitated. "Thanks for the breakfast, mate."

Bodie shrugged, still working on his own sizable portion. "Thanks for putting me up."

The day's work was monotonous and wearing, their fifth day of babysitting a former member of the IRA who had turned Crown's evidence. Doyle disliked the man, a weaselly fellow whose constant nervousness only worsened the normal tension of protection duty. There had been multiple threats against the man's life for several days, but so far no concrete danger had materialised, and the waiting grated on both agents' nerves.

In the midst of the boredom there was one bad moment, when they were about to drop the witness off to make the last of his depositions. Doyle was driving, and when they reached the back of the building Bodie got out first and scanned the area quickly. Suddenly he was shoving Weasel-Face back into the car and snapping, "Sniper on the roof!" before slamming the door. Doyle cursed and pulled away with a squeal of tires, watching in his mirror as Bodie pulled out a gun and ran for the building across the street.

He kept track of the pursuit on the radio while driving a random route through the streets and looking for tails. Bodie and two other agents converged on the suspect rooftop, but by the time they got there the sniper had already disappeared. When they reported the all-clear, Doyle breathed a sigh of relief, furious that Bodie had found a way to go rushing into danger without him again.

And when the day was over they packed the Irishman onto a plane, at which point he became someone else's responsibility. Wearied by the days of heightened awareness, they bought a quick, cheap takeaway dinner and headed back to Doyle's flat. The Cow had announced that they'd found a place for Bodie, but it wouldn't be ready until tomorrow; that meant another night of dossing together, for good or bad.

Bodie's expression was more than usually saturnine as he watched the tail end of a football game on the telly. Doyle leafed through some case files he had brought home to study, but his concentration wasn't on the work. He wished that Bodie would say something, or at least give an indication of how much weight he placed on their actions the previous night. He seemed to be trying to act as if it had never happened, but the tension between the two men was almost palpable.

When the game was over, Bodie began to clean his gun. Doyle's eyes kept lifting from the papers to watch those strong hands working deftly at the familiar task. At last he could stand it no longer; he set the files aside and stood up to stretch. "I'm for bed," he said in a smothered voice. "Can't keep my eyes open."

Bodie looked up quickly, his eyes searching Doyle's face as if he might find a hidden meaning there.

"Stay up as late as you like," Doyle offered lightly. "There's more beer in the fridge."

Bodie just nodded.

"Well, g'night."


Doyle swallowed and headed for the bedroom, missing the intimacy of the previous night but fearing that it had somehow pushed them apart.

Doyle stirred briefly from sleep when he felt a weight depress the mattress, but a moment later his instincts told him it was only his partner, and no cause for alarm. He was sinking into oblivion once again when a pair of strong arms wrapped clumsily about him.

"C'mon, Ray," Bodie slurred. "Wake up. 'M ready."

Doyle frowned at the scent of whisky. What was Bodie on about now? "Ready for what?" he asked.

"Ready f'r you to fuck me." Bodie's mouth found Doyle's and planted a sloppy, spiritous kiss there; then he rolled over and pressed his buttocks against Doyle's belly. He was fully, gloriously naked.

Doyle's body began to respond while his mind still wandered through mazes of dreams. "What d'you mean?" he mumbled, even as his arms clasped the warm body close. He could feel himself growing stiff against Bodie's thigh.

"C'mon Ray. Know you want my arse. 'S all yours now. I'm ready."

Doyle lifted his head off the pillow and drew breath away from the heady fragrance of Bodie's hair. "You're drunk!" he accused, and rolled away to lie on his back. He was awake now, and aching with desire, but Bodie's state struck a disturbing note deep in his gut.

"Not drunk, just a bit squiffy," Bodie insisted, pursuing Doyle across the bed. He ended up sprawled over Doyle's chest and shoulders, reaching down to pat at his eager cock.

Doyle gasped as Bodie's fingers brushed across his balls, threatening to drive away the last shreds of his reason. "Gerroff!" he demanded hoarsely, pushing at Bodie's shoulders and squirming out from underneath him. Sober, Bodie could have pinned him helpless in this position; as it was, the heavier man slid limply aside while Doyle escaped from the bed and stood glaring down furiously.

Bodie pushed himself up to hands and knees, mumbling almost inaudibly. "Well, sorry, then, mate. Didn't mean to scare you. Thought that was what you wanted, didn't I? But y'do want it. Just look at yer!" He reached out to grasp again at Doyle's erection.

Doyle took a hasty step back, and Bodie nearly fell off the bed. "Don't touch me!" he barked, then ran a hand through his disordered curls and tried to achieve calm. It wasn't easy, with his desire sticking out so obvious and vulnerable, and Bodie artificially willing. "You're soused. Just go to sleep, Bodie. It's too late for this."

"Thought you wanted me," Bodie murmured petulantly against the blankets.

"Just go to sleep," Doyle repeated, snatching up his robe and slamming the bedroom door behind him.

He sat on the sofa and sank his face in his hands. His temples throbbed in time with the pulse of desire in his cock. Images tumbled through his mind: memories from the previous night, a vision of Bodie sprawled defenseless across his bed at this very moment, an imagined picture of Bodie with his head thrown back and his mouth stretched wide in a grimace of ecstasy. With a groan, Doyle dropped his hands and looked about the room for something to distract him.

Bodie had left the lights turned on and a mess cluttering the coffee table: several beer cans, a used glass, an empty bottle of scotch--and his gun, lying on a nest of oily rags. Doyle frowned, bothered that Bodie had so far forgotten himself as to leave his weapon behind. He began to tidy up, sighing when he saw that the glass had left a ring of moisture on the cover of the file he was reading. He disposed of the cans and the bottle, put away the files and the oil and rags, and sat holding Bodie's gun lightly in his hands.

When enough time had passed for Doyle's agitation to fade, he ventured back into the bedroom. The light was on, and Bodie was stretched across most of the bed, still distractingly nude. He was snoring, which Doyle had never known him to do before. His clothes were scattered haphazardly on the floor. Doyle left the clothes but retrieved Bodie's shoulder holster from the tangle of his shirt, and left the holstered gun within reach of Bodie's hand--if anything short of the Apocalypse could wake him up. Then he snapped off the light, picked up his own gun, and left his partner to sleep alone.

He got little sleep on the cramped sofa and woke too early the next morning, still irritated. He checked on Bodie, who had stopped snoring, gotten under the blankets, and pulled a pillow over his head to block out the sunlight. A few minutes later, bearing a mug with a vile-looking concoction, Doyle gripped one muscular thigh and shook. Bodie exploded upright, his hands groping for a weapon and his eyes wide as he searched for the source of the danger; but his reflexes had slowed enough that Doyle was already well out of reach. A moment later Bodie groaned piteously and clutched his head.

"Here," Doyle said shortly, setting down the mug. "Some of your own patented cure for hangovers."

Bodie blinked at the mug, apparently summoning all his courage, then picked it up and drowned the contents in one long draught.

"Did I mix it right?" Doyle asked in a flat tone.

"Tastes bad enough," Bodie rasped. He staggered toward the bathroom.

Doyle dug through his drawers and pulled out some loose, comfortable clothes. He hung up his robe and stepped into the slacks. A prickle between his shoulderblades warned him that Bodie was watching, though he hadn't heard footsteps. He didn't turn to look, but pulled the shirt over his head and sat down on the bed to put on his trainers.

"Last night," Bodie began.

Doyle bent to tie his laces.

"You didn't do anything." It was more than half a question.

"'Course I didn't," Doyle snapped, turning to the second shoe.

"Why not?"

"Why d'you think?" Doyle stood and began to stretch his legs. Part of him wanted to avoid this conversation, and part wanted to have it out. There was certainly plenty he'd like to say, if Bodie gave him the opening. At the same time he needed to prove that he had no physical self-conciousness in Bodie's presence, so he turned his back and touched his toes nonchalantly.

"I thought you wanted me," Bodie said at last. Again that faintly forlorn tone--did it mean something?

"You were drunk," Doyle pointed out. "I said I wouldn't take advantage of you."

"It's not taking advantage. I was willing."

Doyle rounded on his partner. "And it took you a whole bloody bottle of scotch to get yourself willing! You could only stand to let me touch you when you were too soused to walk a straight line! You think that's what I wanted?"

"I wasn't that drunk," Bodie protested.

"Dammit, Bodie, you were so far out of it you left your gun lying in the living room. Or was that deliberate? You were afraid you might shoot me if you had it with you?"

"Ray--" Bodie lifted a hand.

Doyle turned sharply away. "I'm going for a run. There's a pot of coffee in the kitchen. If you can walk that far."

Bodie called after him once more, but Doyle ignored the pleading note and slammed out of the flat.

He returned a few hours later, having run himself past the point of exhaustion. Bodie had fallen asleep on the sofa, fully clothed and curled into his usual neat sleeping posture, with one hand curled into a loose fist near his mouth. Doyle snorted, passed his partner by, and headed for the shower. Afterward he took the opportunity to catch up on his own lost sleep.

Predictably, Bodie woke just as Doyle was making lunch. They ate in silence, and Bodie carried the dishes to the sink to wash them.

"Figured you'd have left by now," Doyle said over the sound of running water. "Got your own place now, don't you?"

Bodie shut off the water and returned to the table to sit opposite Doyle. "I thought we should talk," he began uneasily.

Doyle leaned back in his chair. "What if I don't want to talk?"

"Then I still need to apologise."

Doyle was silent.

"I'm sorry, Ray. Last night--I didn't mean it to happen like that. I wanted to talk to you, about--about what you showed me."

"About sex," Doyle pressed, giving no quarter.

Bodie swallowed. "Yes. But I made me damned nervous, you know. Not just the thought of--of letting you do it to me, but even talking about it. Even thinking about it. So I thought I'd just have a bit of a drink to take the edge off, make it easier to speak to you. Went a bit further than I'd planned, I guess."

"You owe me a bottle of the best single malt."

Bodie nodded. "I didn't mean you to think I was disgusted by you or anything. Just nervous, that's all. The other night was, was--I don't know what it was, but it wasn't bad. You showed me--I didn't think it was possible to, to enjoy...that. Not without someone getting hurt, anyway. I just wanted to pay you back for all you'd done."

"Pay me?" Doyle's anger, half-subsided, began to surge once more. "Now I'm a bloody slag, is that it?" His chair scraped back from the table.

"No! Ray--" Bodie extended a hand to stop him. "I didn't mean it like that. More of a gift, really. Returning a favor."

Doyle turned his intended departure into an angry pacing, back and forth. "You just don't get it, do you, Bodie? It's not like that, sex isn't like that. Doesn't have to be, anyway. It's not about payment, or one person getting everything and the other nothing."

"I just wanted to do something for you!"

Doyle groaned and clenched a hand in his curls. He tried to think of a way to get the message through. "Look, mate," he said, turning a chair backwards and straddling it. "D'you remember what I gave you last Christmas?"

"Er...the Dictators of the World dartboard?"

"No, that was year before. Last year I gave you the sweater."

"The Peruvian wool. Warm enough even for me." Bodie smiled a little.

"That's right. Now, d'you remember what you gave me?"

Bodie's eyes lit. "The silk pyjamas with the little exotic dancers on them."

"Why d'you suppose you remembered that, and not what I gave you?"

Bodie frowned. "Well, I knew about them longer. The sweater was a surprise, but when I got the PJs I kept thinking of the expression on your face when you saw them."

"So which present gave you more enjoyment, the one I gave you or the one you gave me?"

"Well--I like the sweater. Comes in handy in cold weather. But the look on your face when you opened that box, it was priceless--just wish I'd had a camera handy."

"And that's how it should be. You give a gift, and you get enjoyment out of it, no matter if the person gives something back or not."

Bodie was silent a long time. "Did you really get enjoyment out of--the other night?"

"Too right I did. Told you it was bloody marvellous, didn't I?"

"Do you think I could...enjoy it, too?"

Doyle frowned. "I don't know. Your body could enjoy it, if you let it, but--if you can't forget...."

"Maybe I just need something else to remember."

The temptation was too maddening. Doyle got to his feet again. "You're the only one that can know that," he said firmly. "Just now p'raps we'd better see about getting you moved into your new flat."

Bodie led a fairly Spartan lifestyle, probably a holdover from his days as a merc, when the ability to get moving quickly could mean the difference between life and death. It didn't take long to move his few belongings into the new flat and arrange the furniture to reflect his taste for open spaces and ease of movement. Stocking the cupboards was a more time-consuming task, for Bodie liked to eat well and often, though he preferred to do as little preparation as possible. By the time they had unpacked the last of the groceries, it was nearly dinnertime; so they inaugurated the stove, table and sink with a dinner from their combined efforts.

"That's that done, then," Doyle said as the pans were set to soaking. "Not a bad place. Leave you to it, shall I?"

"Well--there is one more thing needs doing," said Bodie, rubbing his chin reflectively.

"And what's that?"

Bodie crooked a finger and led Doyle into the bedroom. "The bed wants christening," he said.

Doyle's pulse leaped. "What'd you have in mind?" he asked mildly. "Champagne or holy water?"

Bodie sat on the edge of the bed. "Something a little more personal, actually," he said, and patted the space next to him.

Doyle's mouth was dry. "Sure you want this, mate?"

"I'm sure." Bodie looked up, his expression open and vulnerable. "I thought about what you said--about giving and all that. You showed gave me something very special the other night, something I never thought I'd have. But you can't just take it halfway and leave it. We have to finish this."

Doyle blew his breath out slowly and sank down on the bed a few inches from Bodie, not touching him. "You are a bloody maniac, you know that? You just don't know when to give up!"

Bodie's brow furrowed. "Does that mean you don't want to?"

"Dammit, Bodie, you know I want to! It's perfectly obvious how much I want to."

Bodie's gaze flickered downward, and he licked his lips unconsciously.

"But I wouldn't want to hurt you, mate. We've a good partnership here; I don't want to risk that."

"We're not risking it. If this doesn't work, we put it behind us. At least we'll know we tried." Bodie placed one hand on Doyle's nearest shoulder and turned, leaning in slowly. "C'mon, Ray," he breathed against Doyle's neck. "Don't tell me you're not curious." He trailed soft kisses up Doyle's vulnerable throat and captured his mouth.

Doyle gave way with a groan, wrapping his arm behind Bodie's head and pulling them both back to lie on the bed. The next few minutes were taken up with breathless, passionate kisses. Bodie's throat turned out to be ticklish if not treated with the greatest care, but his ears were exquisitely sensitive. In his turn, he discovered the hollow between Doyle's collarbones and began exploiting it to the best effect.

Doyle surfaced when Bodie started to pull at the tail of his shirt. "Hang about," he gasped, striving for air.

Bodie propped himself on one elbow and watched Doyle uncertainly.

"If we're going to do this, we should go about it right," Doyle declared. "First thing is to get you to relax. You're stiff as a board."

Bodie glanced down. "Well, so are you."

Doyle swatted his arm. "That's not what I meant! Come on, you. Off with your clothes and lie down on the bed."

Bodie sat up to comply, but there was a hint of alarm in his eyes as he pulled the shirt over his head.

"I'm going to give you a massage," Doyle elaborated. "Have you got any kind of rubbing oil or anything?"

"Just bought some. Bag in the bathroom," Bodie replied indistinctly.

Doyle found the bag in the medicine cabinet and was relieved to see that it contained a full tube of lubricating jelly, as well. They wouldn't have gotten far without that. Bodie must have bought it while they were shopping earlier; had he been planning this scene all day?

Doyle carried the lubricant and the baby oil back into the bedroom to find Bodie stretched face-down on the bed with the covers pulled out of the way. The sight of his smooth back and sculpted buttocks made Doyle shiver with anticipation as he shed his own clothes.

"Look at that," he chided, kneeling on the bed and digging a fist into the bunched muscles of Bodie's back. "You can't have been as stiff as this last time you wrestled me to the mat."

Bodie snorted against the mattress. "Flatten you anytime I want, sunshine."

Doyle bent down and swiped his tongue into the secret curve of Bodie's neck, just at the boundary of the ticklish area. "Have to take you up on that," he breathed into the curled ear. "Later." He squirted oil onto Bodie's shoulders and began to spread it around, mapping out the territory of Bodie's back to find the worst knots. He started working on Bodie's neck, but just when he had gotten it loosened up a bit and moved down to rub between his shoulderblades, Bodie tensed up again. "Will you at least try to relax?" Doyle demanded in exasperation.

"Sorry," Bodie mumbled. "I just--I keep waiting for...."

He was waiting for the first sexual move, Doyle realised. In Bodie's case it wouldn't work to make a gradual transition between massaging and loving, for he would spend the whole time nervously anticipating the end result and reading secret meanings into every touch. "Would it help if I promise to tell you before I start anything?"

The visible corner of Bodie's eyebrow twitched. "Dunno."

Doyle reached down and pulled the sheet up over Bodie's legs. Arranging it just at his partner's waist--not without regret--he said firmly, "I'll warn you before I go below that sheet, all right? This is just a massage. I want you to relax." And he started again on Bodie's neck.

Under his hands, in an instant, Bodie turned loose and unresisting. For a moment Doyle thought he had passed out, but Bodie's breathing was steady and his eyes open. He had simply decided it was safe to relax.

The gesture made Doyle's breath catch in his throat. Clearly Bodie was still absolutely in control of himself, if he could unstring all his muscles so suddenly and voluntarily. But just as clearly he had decided he could trust his partner, and he had demonstrated it in the clearest terms possible. Doyle swallowed nervously and concentrated on applying just the right pressure to Bodie's muscles.

For anyone else, he would have remained silent, letting the other sink into a sea of sensation. But Doyle remembered what had come of their long silence two nights before, and decided it might be better to keep talking. Bodie needed a constant anchor to the present so he wouldn't get lost in darker memories of the past. "Don't know why I bother," Doyle said softly. "You'll probably just tense right up again soon's I move that sheet."

Bodie grunted.

"Am I rubbing too hard?"

"Feels good," Bodie said. "Press harder; I can take it."

Doyle leaned his weight into the massage, muttering, "Bloody macho idiot. With that attitude it's a wonder we're both still alive."

Bodie's cheek twitched in a momentary smile, and Doyle knew he was on the right track. He kept up the chatter while he worked his way down Bodie's back and up again, kneading lightly, then more deeply, then lightly again. He finished up by scratching every inch of Bodie's back gently with his fingernails--an unconventional ending to a massage, but one he himself had always delighted in. Bodie made no complaint.

Doyle placed a hand between Bodie's shoulder blades and shook. His partner's body wobbled loosely back and forth. "Good," Doyle approved. "Try to remember what that feels like and stay loose, if you can. I'm moving that sheet now."

Sure enough, Bodie tensed up again, but not quite so badly as before. Doyle returned his attention to Bodie's back and gave it a brief once-over, keeping his touch light and sensual. Then he passed down to Bodie's tempting bum. At this his partner became a bundle of nerves, but Doyle continued the touching since he was enjoying himself.

"All right, mate," he said at last, recalling that he needed to keep talking. "Still want to go through with this?"

The dark head nodded wordlessly.

"Next step, then. Up on your side; that'll be easiest for both of us." He guided Bodie to the right position, with his lower leg extended straight and the upper one pulled forward. Then he took up the tube of jelly.

"Well, look at this!" Doyle teased as he stretched out in front of his partner. Bodie's cock was half-erect, and responded visibly when Doyle ran the backs of his fingernails delicately along its length. "I think I know what to do with one of these." Doyle bent down and took his partner in his mouth.

When Bodie was fully unfurled and trembling with need, Doyle squirted the jelly onto one hand and reached behind. Bodie jerked in alarm, but he neither struggled nor wilted in Doyle's mouth. Doyle played first one finger in the tight passage, then two, working with his tongue and lips until Bodie was at the same peak of excitement as before. Then he sat up and began to spread the cold lubricant on his own cock.

"Here we go, mate," Doyle gasped, his voice shaking with need. "You ready?"

Bodie didn't respond.

Doyle got behind his partner and laid one hand on Bodie's hip, finding no sign of resistance. "Just tell me if you want to stop," he vowed unsteadily, as he began to press inward.

The entry was surprisingly easy--but then, it wasn't really Bodie's first time. Doyle moved slowly until he was fully sheathed, then bent his face against Bodie's slick back. He had to keep talking, had to stay in control. "Beautiful, mate, just lovely," he breathed. "Not so bad after all, is it? You doin' okay?"

Bodie said nothing.

"Bodie?" Doyle squeezed his partner's arm to get his attention, but Bodie lay limp and unresponding. His face, when Doyle craned forward to see it, was blank, his blue eyes fixed on some point on the far side of the room.

"It wasn't me; I wasn't really there," Bodie had said of his childhood experiences. In CID, Doyle had heard rape victims describe the same sense of detachment. He had never witnessed it before.

Doyle swallowed hard, but there was really no question what he had to do. He pulled slowly out of Bodie's arse, groaning at the sweet stimulation when it would take so little to put him over the edge. But he couldn't do that to a friend. He drew the sheet up between them, although it couldn't conceal his jutting need, and pulled Bodie into his arms.

After long minutes, a shudder went through Bodie. He took a sharp breath. "Ray?"

"Right here, mate."

"Did you--"

"Shh. You're safe. Everything's all right."

Bodie moved his hips. "You didn't finish," he accused.

"Seems like I left you behind, so I thought I'd better stop and wait for you to catch up. It's not supposed to be one-sided, you know."

"I couldn't...focus," Bodie said with difficulty. "I just went away."

Doyle's grip tightened on his friend's shoulders "I know, mate."

"You should have finished."

"I'm fine."

"I want you to finish."

"Don't think that's such a good idea," Doyle growled. "Not if you can't even stay awake for it. How can you have any fun when you're not really here?"

"I will. I'll stay focused this time. I do want it, Ray."

Doyle groaned. "Bodie...."

"Isn't that the whole point of this experiment?"

Doyle pushed himself up to one elbow. "All right, then. But we'll go about it differently this time. The easy way didn't work, so we'll have to try something a bit more complicated."

"How d'you mean?"

"I don't want to be behind you. I need to be where I can see your face and you can see mine."

"Face to face? It doesn't work like that!"

"Sure it does, sunshine. Just takes a little creativity to make it easier on you. Move down to the edge of the bed, here. No, on your back." Doyle positioned his partner with his hips just at the edge of the mattress and his legs bent down to the floor.

"You seem to know a lot about this," Bodie muttered. "Had a lot of experience, have you?"

"Not so much; just the right kind. You learn a lot more from one partner who trusts you enough to try everything than from a dozen casual fucks. And before you ask, I haven't had that many, so stop prying." Doyle bent over his friend and began to nibble at his ear and the bits of his neck that were less ticklish. Their cocks fenced together tantalisingly.

Bodie gasped and turned his head to give Doyle better access to the ear. "This one partner--would that be your friend Pat?" Bodie's hands, not busy supporting him like Doyle's, were free to roam. He ran his fingertips up and down Doyle's spine, lingering in the sensitive spot between his kidneys.

"'Sright," Doyle mumbled against Bodie's chest. He was as smooth as a boy, but all hard, lean muscle underneath. Doyle came to an old scar and pressed his lips against it soothingly.

"You ever see him again? Since the old days?" Bodie pressed.

"Nope." Straightening up so that he could use his hands again, Doyle stroked his partner's flanks. "Sure you're ready for this, Bodie?"

Bodie nodded. "Do it."

"Lift up a bit, if you can." Doyle watched the play of muscles across Bodie's abdomen as he raised his knees and hips.

The bed was at an awkward height, too low for standing and too high for kneeling--it would take special care to get the right angle. Doyle applied fresh lubricant to his cock, feeling nervous enough that he wondered if he would be able to stay hard; but Bodie, lying before him, was all temptation, and his passion had been building for a long time.

"Now, you remember, mate," Doyle said as he lowered himself to the right level and braced himself on either side of Bodie's hips. "This is me. Nobody else. You keep your eyes open and stay focused, and if you don't like it I'll stop anytime." He hoped he could keep that promise as he cupped his hands under Bodie's buttocks and began to press inward; it seemed he wouldn't have to worry after all about being hard enough.

Once he was fully sheathed, Doyle had to move his hands again to support his weight. Already his legs were beginning to ache with the strain--especially the left one--and he was in an awkward position up against the edge of the bed. But the entry had been smooth and evidently painless for Bodie. Perhaps another time they could try a position that would let Doyle grip those firm cheeks a little longer.

Doyle moved very slowly out and in again, knowing that in this position the bulge of his cockhead would brush exquisitely over Bodie's prostate. "How's that, mate?" he gasped.

"Hmm," Bodie grunted.

"Open your eyes and talk to me, Bodie, or this is over right now," Doyle threatened.

Bodie's eyes snapped open, brilliant and vulnerable. "Mmm--ermm," he stammered. "'S it s'posed to feel like that?"

"Like what?" Doyle pulled out and eased in once more.

Bodie gasped. "Feels good."

"Oh, like that." Doyle grinned. "No, it isn't supposed to feel like that. Here, brace your hands on my shoulders." With Bodie supporting part of his weight, Doyle could reach down to take his partner's cock in one hand and caress his balls with the other. "It should feel better," he said wickedly, moving hands and hips at once.

Bodie cried out, his mouth open. Delighted that he was managing to give his friend pleasure, Doyle picked up the pace of his thrusts. The burning strain in his thighs was a distraction, but it couldn't diminish the wild joy of feeling Bodie hot and tight around him. Bodie's knees rose to press against Doyle's ribs, and he twined his feet together like a woman's.

Bodie's arms shook as he held Doyle up, creating an odd resonance with the trembling of Doyle's knees. The bed and all the rest of the world seemed to shudder with their passion as Doyle pumped in and out. "Oh, Bodie," he breathed, playing his hands expertly over Bodie's shaft.

"God, Ray, that's--that's--oh, God...." Bodie convulsed, his eyes going wide, just as Doyle had imagined him last night. His cock quivered in Doyle's hand and began to spurt. With a groan Bodie unlocked his elbows and let Doyle fall down into his embrace.

Doyle had to catch himself and lever upward to maintain a manageable angle so he could finish. Bodie's muscles were still contracting around him, and it took only a few deep thrusts before Doyle found his own release with a sob. Now he could allow himself to tumble into Bodie's arms, their sweat-slick chests pressed together.

Doyle didn't even realise they were slipping to the floor until Bodie chuckled and hauled him up bodily. On his side, clasped tightly to his partner's chest, Doyle murmured, "All right, mate?"

Another laugh rumbled under Bodie's ribs. "Fine," he breathed.


Bodie put a hand under Doyle's chin and waited until he opened his eyes. "Bloody marvellous. I believe that's the term?"

"Good," Doyle managed, and tucked his face into the crook of his partner's shoulder.

As he drifted in langourous dreams, Doyle was vaguely aware of Bodie moving about and the sound of running water. Then a warm, wet cloth began to wipe Doyle's cock and thighs, his belly and his hands. He gave a sigh of satisfaction, not bothering to open his eyes. But when Bodie started to move away, Doyle's hand shot out unerringly and pulled him off balance. He tipped onto the bed next to Doyle, the washcloth flying unnoticed to land on a pillow.

"You always fall asleep, after?" Bodie asked.

"Hmm," Doyle murmured. "Don't you?"

"Nope. Usually feel more like running a race."

Doyle pulled his partner closer. "'S unnatural, that."

"Probably the result of my misspent youth," Bodie said lightly.

"Glad you can joke about it," Doyle said, which was true. "But you don't have to put up with some daft sod tryin' to keep you awake."

Bodie chuckled and clapped a palm on Doyle's hip. "C'mon, sunshine. On your belly."


"Gonna return a favor."

Doyle forced his eyes open. "Er, Bodie, I'm a bit tired just now...."

"Not that favor, you berk! The massage."

"Oh." Doyle rolled obediently onto his face.

Bodie retrieved the bottle of oil, which had rolled beneath the bed.

Doyle was surprised to feel the oil being smoothed over his legs rather than his back. "Wotcher doin'?"

"Thought I noticed you moving a bit stiff when we were shifting that furniture," Bodie murmured as his fingers dug into Doyle's calves. "You ran too long this morning, didn't you?"

"Hmm," Doyle grunted ambiguously.

"Thought so. Always do, when you're upset." Bodie gave thorough, luxurious attention to both Doyle's calves, then moved up to his thighs and began to smooth away the weariness of their more recent exertions. He worked carefully around the new, puckered scar in Doyle's left thigh. When he straddled narrow hips and began rubbing his back, Doyle floated into a delicious sleep.

He woke suddenly, aware of danger--mayhem--Bodie in trouble. In the instant it took him to come fully aware, Doyle had snatched up his gun and curled in a protective crouch over his partner.

It was dark, but Doyle's trained eyes could see clearly enough. There was no one in the room, no shadowy armed figures. Bodie thrashed under Doyle's hand and cried out, "No! Leave him be!"

Doyle's thumb slipped automatically to the safety of his pistol and made sure it was in place before he set the weapon aside. He gave Bodie a shake. "Bodie. Wake up, mate, it's just a dream."

Bodie sat bolt upright, clutching at Doyle's shoulders. "Ted!" he gasped, then looked around the room distractedly.

"Just a dream," Doyle repeated.

"Christ." Bodie released his vise-like grip on Doyle and ran a hand distractedly over his cropped hair. "Bloody hell."

"You all right?"

Bodie's head turned, the whites of his eyes gleaming. "Haven't had a nightmare like that since...not in years."

Something knotted in Doyle's gut. "You were calling for Ted." That was the name of Bodie's childhood friend, who had been abused at the same time by the same man. What they had done tonight must be bringing back unpleasant memories.

"Yes," Bodie said raggedly. "He was--he...oh, hell." He rolled onto his side and curled up into a tight ball.

Doyle didn't know what to say. He rested a hand on his friend's arm and felt the unbearable tension in every line of his body. Bodie was fighting back tears, he realised. He wouldn't cry; not W.A.P. Bodie, tough man. And Doyle, equally tough and in a profession which required them both to be endlessly strong and enduring, couldn't advise him to cry. At a loss, he lay down and wrapped his arms around his partner, feeling guilty.

Bodie took slow, controlled breaths. "Ted didn't have the time," he said at last. "He didn't have the chance I did. No one to show him, let him see that it doesn't have to be so bad. He didn't have a chance. He died before he could ever get away from Claremont." A terrible sob, like the sound of something tearing in two, emerged from Bodie's throat. Then another, and another, and then he was shaking helplessly in Doyle's embrace.

As he held his partner through the storm of tears, Doyle wondered if Bodie realised what he had just said. Until now, he had refused--or been unable--to give the name of the man who had hurt him and Ted. He had said their abuser was dead, so Doyle hadn't pressed any further. But now the name had been spoken, almost as an afterthought, and the air was clearer for it. Doyle knew that Bodie was mourning not only for Ted, but for another young boy who had gone through years of hell at Claremont's hands. A boy who had escaped, but had carried that hell with him through too much of his adult life.

When Bodie's sobs began to subside, Doyle pulled his partner gently around to face him and let the tears moisten his shoulder. He should have realised that he would be churning up forgotten horrors when he started this business. He should have known what he was getting into. Not that Doyle would ever give up on his partner, or abandon him, whatever the trouble might be. But what if the turmoil caused a breach between them? What if it affected their working relationship, the solid foundation on which all else was based?

Bodie quieted at last, and an unmeasured stretch of time passed with the two in close embrace, breathing in and out together. At last Bodie raised his head. "What time's it?"

Doyle reached out for his watch and squinted at it in the faint light from the windows. "Gone one," he determined. It seemed like it ought to be later; so much had happened tonight. Then again, they had started right after dinner.

Doyle knew they should talk about the future, what lay ahead for them. They needed to get everything out in the open, declare their desires and expectations, and figure out how best to mesh them together. This wasn't like being on an undercover op, where they could practically read each other's minds. Everything needed to be stated clearly from the start.

But the conversation he imagined sounded to Doyle's ears too much like the one a woman would try to start, when he was eager to end the connection and just wanted to be free and on his own again. He couldn't bear to have Bodie thinking of him like that. So he said, "Suppose I should be getting back to my own flat."

The words dropped into the darkness and rang there.

To lighten the mood, Doyle quickly added, "If you think your bed's sufficiently Christian now."

After a moment's hesitation, Bodie chuckled. "Not sure the C of E would approve, but I'd say the ceremony was a success."

Awkward silence descended. Doyle cleared his throat and sat up, trying to remember where he had let his clothes fall. Bodie came to his rescue by turning on the light switch, and watched silently while Doyle dressed. "See you on Monday, sunshine?"

That meant Bodie wasn't expecting to get together with him tomorrow. Perhaps he had other plans. Perhaps he was sick of Doyle's company. Doyle smiled weakly. "Whose turn to drive?" he asked.

"Mine, probably, but I did make you breakfast the other day," Bodie pointed out.

"Right. I'll pick you up, then, shall I?"

"Fine. 'Til Monday." Bodie displayed no inclination to get out of bed and show Doyle to the door.

It was over. It had gone well, and they were still friends; that was more than Doyle had ever thought could happen. But still it was over. Doyle locked his partner's door behind him and paused on the steps. The chill night air pressed around him like reality reasserting itself.

At least, he mused ruefully, his fantasies would have more substance to them now.

-- THE END --

Circuit Archive Logo Archive Home