by The Hag
Bodie belched discreetly behind his hand. "Pardon. Too many sheep's eyeballs."
Doyle poured the last of the batter into the crepe pan. "So what are you givin' up for Lent, you uncouth yobbo?"
"Dunno." Bodie leaned back in his chair and surveyed his plate with happy reminiscence. "Yes I do. Pancakes. Couldn't manage another one ever. Well, not till next Shrove Tuesday."
"Don't want this one, then?"
Bodie shook his head regretfully.
"Might've told me before I started cooking it. Wonder if I can still--" Doyle's pancake tossing skill had improved steadily during the evening, and now he put muscle behind it. "Ha!" he crowed triumphantly. "Used to drive me Mum spare, that did!"
"Not surprised." Bodie stared up at the pancake adhering to the ceiling. "Simple pleasures for simple minds. Your mice got ropes and pitons?"
"Bats, mate. And don't say it." Doyle filled the kettle. "Coffee?"
"You could start clearing that lot away," Doyle suggested.
"In a minute. Can't move. No wonder they call it Fat Tuesday. Must've put on five pounds tonight. Fancy going to New Orleans for Mardi Gras next year?"
"They don't have Carnaval in bloody Blackpool!"
"Nice and bracing in February. Start Mardi Gras there, do wonders for the tourist trade. Surprised Mrs T never thought of it. No swamps full of mosquitoes giving everyone yellow fever."
Bodie shuddered. "I'll take yellow fever any day. Took a bird there once, she trod in a rock pool and blamed me for spoiling her new Italian shoes. Never let up the whole time."
"Too small for you, were they?" Doyle scooped instant coffee into the mugs.
"Would have been closer than I came to getting into anything else she was wearing. Blackpool!" Bodie started to replace the lid on an empty jar. "You're out of strawberry jam."
They had started with the lemon juice and sugar Doyle insisted were traditional in his family, but Bodie had rapidly grown bored with that. His appetite far from sated, he had pillaged the cupboard and fridge, devouring pancakes with mustard, tinned peaches, curry powder, mango chutney, Branston pickle, Gentleman's Relish (Doyle tried to claim he wasn't entitled), honey, tomato ketchup, cocoa mix, tarragon vinegar, and Cooper's Oxford marmalade, both sweet and bitter. He had declined Doyle's offers of alfalfa sprouts, granola, and motor oil. The strawberry jam had been his favourite.
Doyle set coffee in front of him and leaned back against the sink to sip his own. Bodie contemplated him with arrogant anticipation, eyes appraising what hands and mouth would later claim. Doyle shot him a glance of responsive complicity, subtly shifting from casual lounging to deliberate provocation.
"You've got flour in your hair," Bodie teased with lazy interest.
"Flowers?" Doyle swiped at his luxuriant mop. "Can't 'ave! All those sheep's eyeballs must be rotting whatever you're trying to use for brains."
"Flour, you berk. Unless you're getting much greyer all of a sudden. At your age I suppose the hearing's not so keen." Bodie shook his head in kindly commiseration.
"Flour's not so messy as those bloody cranberries at Stacey's Thanksgiving do." Doyle grinned at the memory. "Never did get Mandy to come across, did you?"
"Can't compete with pumpkin down the cleavage," Bodie conceded ruefully. "If you'd just minded your own business... Tell you what, though, I really liked that key lime pie Stacey had. Yanks do some good stuff. If we go to New Orleans--"
"You'd go straight to McDonald's," Doyle predicted.
Bodie glared at him. "So what are you doing about Lent, then, Escoffier?"
"Giving up cooking for Neanderthals like you." Doyle gazed at the suspended pancake. "Thinkin' about givin' up birds."
Bodie's world suddenly shifted. "Birds?" he repeated feebly.
"Mmm." Doyle started to clean the work surfaces and run water into the sink. "Just for Lent. Get that lot cleared off, will you?"
Glad of the distraction, Bodie returned the various containers to their proper homes, then gathered china and cutlery and took them to the sink.
Doyle smelled faintly of shampoo and aftershave. Bodie looked forward to banishing that civilized scent with the muskiness of arousal. Heat prickled through his groin as he remembered the last time, Doyle sprawled over him, licking sweat from the back of his neck and shoulders in lazy aftermath like a big tawny cat grooming its mate, claws sheathed in velvet. Made him yowl. Doyle, a cat who walked by himself, had chosen to walk with Bodie, to lie down with Bodie. Made him purr.
"Birds?" he said again. "Not sex, though?"
"Didn't say sex, did I?" Doyle concentrated on scrubbing the outside of the crepe pan with unusual vigour. He wore the carefully relaxed expression that he hoped effectively concealed all emotion, but the slight acceleration of his breath betrayed him.
"You thinking exclusive, Ray?" A wisp of anxiety was dispelled; others drifted in to take its place.
"Don't see me cruisin' the bloody gay pubs, do you?" Doyle snapped.
He slid his arms round Doyle's waist and nuzzled the silvery patch at his temple, then grazed his lips over the still-smooth cheek, homing in on the damaged bone as he always did.
Doyle shifted slightly, leaning back into the embrace, tilting his face a fraction to pursue the caress. "Not askin' you." Now his voice was painfully calm. "Just so you know what I'm doing the next six weeks. Or not doing."
It was more than six weeks since he had slept with anyone but Doyle. His frustrated pursuit of the delectable Mandy had been as much habit as urgent lust. In his arms was Doyle, habit and lust and ... a bloody good cook into the bargain. "Could try for six weeks, then. Don't know if I-- See how it goes, eh?"
"See how it goes," Doyle agreed, setting the last plate in the draining rack. He turned and wrapped Bodie in damp arms.
"Weird, that," he remarked a little while later when the need to breathe restored the use of his tongue.
"Weird," Bodie agreed hazily. "What is?"
"Well, by all the rules that pancake should've fallen on us while we were snoggin', but it's still up there."
"If it's still there next year we'll send old Murph up with some strawberry jam to keep it company." Bodie edged them towards the table. "Talking of things being up, fancy giving this exclusive lark a proper tryout, then?"
"Just for Lent, right?" Doyle's wiry body promised six weeks of something far removed from austerity.
Don't want it lent, want it to keep. Bodie wondered about his own sanity. Only six weeks? Fat chance!
"Didn't you wipe the table?" Doyle complained. "Jam and mustard and... never mind, love..."
They didn't notice the pancake falling, but later Bodie discovered it with his bare foot and commented freely.
-- THE END --
February 16, 1999.
This version has been re-edited.