Snooker, or pool as Americans termed it, wasn't Doyle's favorite indoor sport and while he was quite good at it, but Bodie was fantastic with a cue. Therefore it was safe ground.
Doyle had learned in the back parlors of the East Side, becoming good enough to make spending money and pay his way into art school. It was a matter of pride with his gang for Doyle to be the best in the East End.
Bodie had learned in Africa, in the ports where mercenaries waited for a new war, a new assignment. He'd had to become the best, he couldn't afford to lose. He'd had no money and rape wasn't his idea of covering a bet, so Bodie had become an excellent pool player.
The scene had all the components of a classic confrontation and tonight was the culmination.
The 'Shady Pool and Pub' was a little known gay gathering place in the East End and well known to Ray Doyle from his time in the Met. It was considered safe ground for gay men of all backgrounds and jobs who were unable or unlikely to visit some of the more blatant watering holes in other parts of London. You could meet men with government positions chatting up prospects from the art world, the theater, or foreigners looking for a safe one-nighter. The management was in sweet odor with the local police and kept to themselves. All in all, a pub made for a pair of CI5 agents who were not only partners but lovers as well.
For all its sobriety, the pub was a pickup spot and most of the men there were on the prowl. Bodie and Doyle had only been in the pub a couple of times, not wanting to become well known there. They had quickly learned to avoid offers by settling for a table near the front of the room, close to the pool tables, establishing themselves as a couple, aloof from the crowd.
Tonight, Bodie was tired and just beginning to relax and unwind. He was far from serene and Doyle was hyper and exasperating. The job they had just finished had been months long and was finally done. They were Cowley's fair-haired boys (at least for this evening), so Bodie had a glass of his favorite scotch and the very best company, even if said company was being a bit verbose and perverse.
Working and sleeping with Ray wasn't enough for Bodie. He really liked Doyle, liked to talk to him, explore the serpentine twists of his mind. There was little time for the small unimportant things that slipped so casually into an ordinary relationship. There was so much more to Doyle than the wiry body, mad hair and green eyes. His mind was perhaps one of the most attractive, intriguing thing about him. And they got few nights out like this, to enjoy each other's company without fear of discovery or of work intruding...and Doyle was doing his level best to ruin it for the both of them by being a berk.
So it began. Bodie blinked lazily at Doyle's grinning face and smiled slowly, seductively. Maybe he could sidetrack the silly sod before he had to brain him.
No chance. Doyle leaned over and drew a gentle finger over his lips, removing the faint residue of foam from them, then stuck it into his mouth and sucked with noisy enthusiasm.
"Tastes fantastic," he said softly, green eyes twinkling wickedly.
Bodie eyed him pensively and decided to try him at his own game. He leaned over, very near to the smiling face. "Are you sure you don't want to go home, sunshine? These games aren't for Joe Public, even 'ere." He laid a firm hand on the thin thigh pressing his and tried to look stern.
Bodie knew he had failed miserably but Ray did finally move away an inch and grabbed up his drink instead of Bodie. Ray then reached over and covered Bodie's hand which had started to wander returning it to the table where he gave a small squeeze before releasing it.
"Naughty Bodie, get me goin' here and you will come to regret it! Let's play pool!" Doyle's eyes narrowed as he turned to survey the men near the tables, waiting for a game. A lithe, tall, bearded man in his late thirties caught his eye and nodded towards a newly vacant table. Doyle considered briefly, glanced over at Bodie who merely smiled, so Doyle nodded acceptance. He could feel Bodie stiffen, then relax. He glanced once again at Bodie then shrugged, rose briskly to his feet and sauntered over to the cue rack.
Bodie quickly regretted his show of nonchalance for Ray immediately became the target of three quarters of the eyes in the room. Doyle was prime material in age and looks and his walk was an open incitement to rape. Ray's pool companion lit up like a bloody Christmas tree when he had agreed to play.
Bodie watched silently and seethed as the game commenced and became what could only be described as a mating dance. To and fro, bad and forth, side to side. Ray was moving easily about the table, bending and stretching, clearing the table with flair while his companion played little and looked his fill.
Bodie knew that Doyle was totally conscious of what was happening and occasionally the curly mop would turn in his direction and Bodie would be teased by a wicked green gleam. Ray liked to tease him and Bodie would allow him most anything at home. But not here. Here was dangerous and reckless and very much no go. Bodies patience was getting very, very thin. He glared around the room to avoid staring at Ray's marvelous rear and met the blue eyes of a handsome young man, 21 at most, seated near the bar tables and smiling openly at him.
The young man picked up his drink and saluted Bodie with it, indicating the vacant chair beside him. Bodie eyed Doyle's oblivious back, and made the decision. He gathered up his drink with elaborate casualness, circled Doyle to get his attention, then joined the unknown young man. Bodie smiled at the blonde and let him open the conversation.
"I'm Chad," the young man said in a flat American accent. "Is he going to kill me?" he demanded half seriously, nodding his head in Doyle's direction. Bodie looked and saw that Ray's brows had lowered and he was looking remarkably disgruntled. He was now occupied in destroying his pool partners' faint hope of ever getting a shot and then staring right through the man. Bodie was pleased.
"I've only seen you two here once before," Chad interrupted his thought cheerfully. "He's the jealous type?"
"On rare occasions." Bodie chuckled, "he simply doesn't enjoy getting a large taste of his own medicine. Imperious little sod that he is."
"Sounds like he can be a real handful." Chad observed.
Bodie eyed him and decided that he didn't mean that negatively. "He is," he allowed himself to say fervently.
"Do you have a name? Or do I have to guess?" Chad rested his chin in his hand and studied the splendid man before him. This fellow was not only gorgeous, he was mysterious and very self-contained. He was nothing like the men Chad usually met.
"No." Bodie's slow answer could have been in response to either question. He was beginning to regret listening to his inner devil and coming over to irritate and perhaps even punish Ray. This question and answer session wasn't quite what he had imagined. This kid was curious but on the make? No, he wouldn't say so. At least not at this time.
Chad tried to probe a little about these two fascinating men. "You two local?" Bodie merely shook his head.
Chad ignored Bodie's closed expression and continued, "Wish you were, spruces the place up a bit. Been together long?" Even while asking, Chad's eyes were wandering to Doyle's thunderous expression with ill concealed amusement. He cocked a sandy eyebrow at Bodie and admitted with a laugh, "I'm just curious, my cautious friend. I can see quite clearly that you two are a matched set. I never break up sets. Even in fun. I was just interested in meeting someone different. Besides," and now his tone became faintly stern, "no one dragged you over here."
Bodie winced and smiled. "Too true, mate," he acknowledged the hit. "I'm Bodie, he's Ray, and we've been together 6 years." He didn't mention though that they had only been lovers for about fourteen months. Bodie glanced over and saw Doyle's rigid back and knew if he didn't act now the situation would explode very soon. Ray wasn't usually a jealous man but Bodie had hit him hard and below the belt, so to speak. Chad was blonde, blue eyed, beautiful and young...and Bodie had never strayed before.
Ray was exhibiting all the signs of a dangerous temper on the rise.
Bodie had lost all sense of amusement at the situation and became wary. Doyle was impulsive when angry or hurt and Bodie didn't want a scene nor did he want to deal with a ferocious Doyle when they got home. He watched as Ray smiled coldly at his companion, then glanced at Bodie, demanding his attention.
Bodie smiled at him but a touch on his arm distracted him back to Chad briefly.
"I suspect he could become difficult about tonight, Bodie. And as I have said, you two are a set. So I retire to the sidelines...reluctantly." For the first time something sexual stirred in his light eyes. "I would say your Ray wants you, right now." The twinkle had returned and was proof of his double meaning this time.
Bodie chuckled, punching his arm lightly and said, "All the time, mate, all the time." He drained his cup and got up. Shaking hands with Chad, he said, "Thanks for the company, Chad, I've enjoyed it." Then he walked over to lean on the wall next to Doyle's table, there to stare at Doyle, with his arms crossed over his chest, a brooding air about him.
Doyle blew his next shot.
On his next turn he cleared the table with finesse, collected his winnings and said his goodbyes much to his confused pool companion's dismay. Then Doyle walked over to Bodie, stood very close, and ostentatiously tucked the money into his pants pocket slowly and carefully. "Come on sweetheart, let's go home," he commanded, eyes hooded, tension radiating from him.
"With pleasure, sunshine," Bodie answered promptly, sliding a hand down Doyle's tense arm and giving his elbow a reassuring squeeze. Doyle silently turned on his heel and Bodie found himself standing alone. Shit. Ray must be madder than a hornet and Bodie sighed to himself as he admitted that he had no one to blame but himself. He could see little hope of getting Ray to understand his motives for the whole charade, either.
Bodie walked out to the car and found Doyle curled up in the passenger seat, waiting quietly. The quiet before the storm, was Bodie's thought as he got in and waited for the deluge.
Doyle's amused snort startled him. The tense figure relaxed, uncurling long lags, settling them along the dashboard, leaving him spread out and available. Then Doyle sighed loudly, dragged a hand through his hair and settled his other hand over Bodie's where it now rested on the gear shift.
"Touche, you bloody bastard. Sometimes I think we act like a couple of bloody teenagers, we're so clumsy. Jealousy, for christ's sake! My green eyes were quite appropriate tonight." He shook his head in amazed disbelief and sat back, grinning at the stunned look on Bodie's face. "Got to thinking with my head finally, not me balls, didn't I," he offered wryly.
"Worked a treat, did it?" Bodie offered faintly, still not quite believing he was off the hook.
"Do it again, you bastard and I'll do you." Doyle warned softly as his grip tightened briefly.
Bodie breathed out sharply, then smirked, relieved that Ray had reverted to normal. "No way, Sunshine. It's like I told Chad, you are all I need and all I care to cope with."
Ray blinked at him, uncertain, and Bodie smiled reassuringly.
" I was simply offered a game of pool," Doyle stated flatly, still wary about the tensions of the evening.
Bodie nodded wisely, "Maybe so sunshine, but what were you offering him?" He raised an expressive eyebrow when Doyle began to splutter. "His eyes were hungry and they had a feast. It was a fair trade."
Doyle slumped back into his seat. "Costs nothin' to look, Bodie." He shrugged it off. "You sat down with the pretty child."
"He just wanted to have a chat, Ray," he said firmly. "Said we were a matched set and while he was interested he know he could only look."
While Ray was digesting that answer, Bodie gently disengaged his hand from Ray's and started the car. He reached over and patted Ray's broken cheekbone. "He's right, you know. You should never break up a set, specially a matched one."
A sharp prod in the side barely disturbed his smug expression and Doyle snuggled deeper down in his seat and muttered, "Maybe we should get ourselves a carved case to sleep in. Some nice soft velvet would suit..." His eyes closed and then Bodie heard him softly say, "A set, just like salt and pepper, bacon and eggs, Chuck and Di..."
"Chalk and cheese," Bodie finished the sleepy litany, mouth quirking into a tiny smile of contentment as he turned the car and headed for home.
-- THE END --