Something More Than...
Bloody Doyle. Wish he was as easy to read off the job as on it. Working, we almost read each other's minds; off duty, he can and has startled the life out of me.
Like tonight, for example. The little bugger was workin' something over in his head; I know the signs, and when he offered to make dinner, he was about to come clean.
Dinner was lovely, chops and veg, chips for me and all through it he said very little. Afterwards, we settled down to watch an old Star Trek rerun while I waited, already sure what was wrong.
You see, two months ago, CI5 had undergone a nutter on a purge and we had lost some good men, two being close friends, Tom Metheson and Richard King. They were a top flight team and had the dubious distinction of bein' our mates, something Doyle and I haven't all that many of. Therefore it was no great surprise when our boss, George Cowley, tapped Doyle and me to do the security clearance of their flats before the relatives could come around to clear out the personal items. Not an enjoyable job, but someone had to do the dirty work. And as I said, they were friends. Tom Metheson's flat was in East London and possibly the smallest one I'd ever seen. It was also the neatest and least lived in one I'd ever visited. Looked like a model flat, seen and not used. Almost no food in the fridge, no papers delivered, and the only mail was circlers.
"Must have a bird he lives with," was Doyle's comment as we quickly finished. Chucking the armory in the boot, we set out for King's flat in Chelsey.
Doyle was driving and said softly, "I remember when King first got his flat. I was envious cause it was a garden flat with a lovely little kitchen. He cooked almost as much as you do."
I ignored the slur (accurate though it was) as I realized that despite being invited several times to King's flat, I'd never actually made it. This would be my first visit.
Arriving, we beat out a mini for the last parking slot and made our way towards the flats, Doyle glowing from his small victory in the day to day struggle in London driving. Digging the keys out of his pocket, a feat I could only wonder at, considering the fit of his jeans, Ray paused, eyeing the enclosed garden and grimacing at the clutter and neglect. I thumped him on the shoulder to get his mind back on the job and he unlocked the door, bowing me in, as he recovered a bit from his pensive mood. Compared to Matheson's, this flat looked like it was home about, making horrified housewife-like noises (funny for him to fuss so, clutter being his middle name) while I prowled around through the kitchen and through the other door which led to the bathroom. Ignoring the horrible color scheme, I eyed the contents, then stepped out into the hallway and called Ray.
"Doyle!" I shouted, knowing he wouldn't come unless it sounded important.
"What?" Evidently he didn't think it was, cause he obviously wasn't moving fast.
"Doyle, come 'ere!" This time I put my heart into it, I was gettin' tired of all the shouting.
"In a minute!" Some days I could simply strangle the sod. He can be so perverse.
"Oh, for christ sake, Bodie, you can be such a..." Doyle burst through the livingroom door, clutching what appeared to be two trophy mugs. He stopped short, seeing my face. Holding up the two mugs for me to see, he waited.
I obediently read out loud, "Worlds Greatest Stud" engraved on the first one, recognizing it as it had been given to King at last years New Years Party. The other was one engraved "Tom Matheson-Darts Champion-1980-Derby."
"Matheson and King?" Doyle didn't really ask.
"Matheson and King," I confirmed, pointing a thumb at the bog. "Two of everything in there."
Doyle blinked at me, raised both eyebrows and grinned faintly. "Bedroom next, sunshine." He said firmly. Leading the way, he bowed me into the room.
The evidence there was vast and varied. The two had a complete double wardrobe. Not particularly incriminating as Ray and I did the same thing on a smaller scale. What gave the game away and kept us in there for over an hour was the variety of items we found in the bedside table. Now, I consider myself a man of the world, and experienced, but some of these things I could not more fathom the use than I could fly. Doyle couldn't either, as occasionally he would look at me with a question in his eyes, but I would have to shrug in answer. As I'd said earlier, my education may have been gathered in some odd places and odder circumstances, but these bits of rubber, plastic, leather and feathers were beyond my ken. Despite such distractions we finally finished our assignment and ended in the front hall.
"Cowley's gonna have a fit," was Doyle's rueful comment. He eyed me for a moment and I knew I was for it. "You can tell Cowley," he decided finally.
"Me?!" I sputtered in protest but not terribly surprised. Doyle had this odd fancy that Cowley has a soft spot for me and will take bad news better if I carried it. Kill the messenger, indeed. As far as I'm concerned the only soft spot George Cowley has is in Doyle's brain. Besides, I feel Doyle has the best chance of surviving any such interview. I've seen him slam into Cowley's office with a full head of steam and not been annihilated by an eruption of Scottish fury.
"Bodie!" What in hell are you doing smilin' at the bloody wall like that for? Have you gone daft, mate? Cowley's not gonna be best pleased at the time we've already been at this." Doyle's caustic voice reminded me as he yanked me from my everie. So I smiled sweetly and ignored his snort. Could take the bark off a tree at fifty paces with that snort, Doyle could. Beside giving the grass a needed bath.
"Can't quite envision the two of 'em somehow." I admitted, unlocking the car, having beaten him to the drivers' side. After all it was my car.
"Naw, me neither." he agreed quietly, getting in and becoming a boneless lump on the seat. He was immersed in his thought during the ride back to Whitehall, probably mulling over the events of the morning so I respected his silence and [missing text] my attention on my driving.
The Interview with Cowley was as difficult as anticipated and his comments were acerbic yet he seemed neither surprised nor upset as I had expected. After being warned as if we were children, against chatter out of class, we were chucked out of Cowley's office and told to amuse ourselves for a bit.
Retreating to the surprisingly empty break room (must be a busy time for villains, usually you could find at least one team wasting time waiting' for something to break) Doyle got the coffee while I cleared the table by sweeping everything into the rubbish can.
"Knew all about them, didn't he," I remarked as he plunked down my mug. I love my mug, distinctive it is. Has Garfield the Cat eaten' a smelly face. Suits me. Doyle thinks it's tacky. Now his says "Liquor is quicker, but sex won't rot your teeth". Now, I ask you!
Doyle just grunted, obviously a man with a lot on his mind, certainly not interested in jawing with me. He kept his eyes on that atrocious mug for a long moment. Then he looked at me.
"Sorry, mate," he apologized swiftly, aware he was actin' odd. "Got a lot on me mind."
No foolin' was my thought, while my mouth said rather noncommitable, "I can wait." I hoped that Doyle wasn't gonna let this thing eat at him or get in the way of work or our friendship. I've spent too much time and effort to let some thing as minor as this ruin all my hard work.
Just then Smithson stumbled in, crowing about a hard drugs kingpin he'd just collared with some intricate and intelligent undercover work. In the resulting tumult, with Doyle and I disagreeing vehemently and the arrival of several agents, the moment passed. I let it go gladly. Time enough to get back to it if needed.
On stakeout the next afternoon, we heard a whisper of a new weapons and drug exchange that dropped us into a major op along with most of the squad. Everything got put on the back burner.
Upon the successful closure of the operation, Cowley alternatively chewed us out for not following procedure, then gave us four days freedom and tossed us out. Ray's invite to dinner was welcome. As usual I had no food in the flat and it was cold and unfriendly. Funny how no matter how long we were away, Doyle's flat were never like that. He might be gone just as long but for some reason his flat became warm and welcoming almost immediately. I have always felt at home.
Of course being on Doyle's home ground suited me. It would be a good place for the heart to heart I was plannin'. He was gonna discuss the Matheson/King situation if I had anything to say about it. Ordinarily, there would be no problem. Doyle was the least prejudice of men I knew, at least about sexual preference, yet over the past 10 days I knew he'd been thinking about them. Knowing my own mind, I felt I was prepared for him but not for what happened.
After feeding me (without the extraneous comments Ray's considered necessary -- a sure sing of trouble) uncharacteristically he left the dishes to soak and steered us towards the livingroom where he sprawled over his usual 3/4ths of the sofa leaving me my puny corner. He did that in my flat, too, taking the lion's share as his due. He'd always done it, since the day I'd had accepted him as my partner and invited him into my flat. Must have been 8 months after we'd started working together. It always amazed me that we didn't murder each other early on.
Doyle had staked his claim to all the visible territory, material and personal as I had come to realize and allow. I'd never realized how much I had offered him. He'd gained my interest and attention from the first. Now there was so much more, an endless variety of feelings and emotions that I was harboring. And now bloody Doyle was playin' coy.
Not sure enough to make the first move in case I was indulging in wishful thinking, I watched Ray watch me. It was the little side glances at me all during the news broadcast, little glances he was doing his best to hide. If I even twitched, he became heavily engrossed in the current commercial.
I was about to break the uncomfortable silence when Ray sat up straight, grabbed the remote to cut the noise and then slowly, deliberately, settled back so were sittin' shoulder to shoulder.
Nice but I wished he would get on with it. The delay was making me get ideas that could get me in deep trouble. He massaged his nose, cleared his throat and...lost his nerve.
I'd had enough. "What bothers you most about Metheson and King, Ray?" It really wasn't a question and he realized that rightly enough.
Doyle grimaced and frowned, then bobbed his head, once. "Knew 'em for almost four years, had drinks and even dinner with one or both and their dates several times, played darts with King and lost to the bloody bugger," he winced at his unconscious choice of words, "And I never realized..." he trailed off.
"There were lovers," I finished, watching him closely, wondering how much he'd been holdin' back during the op. Not being able to talk things over can make Doyle go a little crazy. Seen him do it over little things as well as major problems.
Doyle's no gossip and he tends to keep to himself but even he had times when if he doesn't talk something out it'll send him round the twist. He rusts me to tell him the truth. My only fear is that I might have jumped in too deep ahead of him. I mean if can be could destroying, lovin' someone who only deeply likes you. Half measures and all that.
The problem is that I know Doyle and his labyrinthine mind. He hates surprises and the fact that he had not seen that Matheson and King were lovers.
Doyle had been a good copper, always knew what was happenin' on his turf yet made no moral judgments on most activities. Matheson and King had been a bloody shock. Quite a blow to the Doyle ego.
"Look, mate, security is a bloody job. Tom and Richard kept it quiet, exclusive and played by the ruddy rules as much as they could. "Sides, they told Cowley."
That got the toad's attention. "Caught that did you," Ray grinned sheepishly at me and relaxed against my side, slinging an arm up on the back of the sofa behind my head. "Wondered if you had."
"Tried to bring it up later that night but you didn't want to know," I said cheerfully.
"Wasn't sure what I thought, Bodie. Needed to consider things." he said slowly. His face was relaxed, his eyes closed, Ray Doyle in repose and I was getting tenser. Things were getting a little close for comfort for me.
Then opening his eyes, Ray glared at his hand on my shoulder and with a sudden surge left the sofa to stand by the window, hands on his hips in a familiar gesture, safe and alone.
"Had a lot to consider about my life and what I need." he said. "I needed to make up my mind." His shoulders tightened and I decided it was time to do my mind reading bit. Doyle forgets how well I know him. It even astonished me sometimes. It merely irritates Cowley. Doyle's mind works in more intricate ways than anyone I ever knew but he still manages to cover all the bases and I can follow closely enough to know how he'll move. Exactly what he thinks even I will never understand. One madman in the partnership is enough.
Doyle was still waiting for nerve to speak, so I said, "I know that it has been said that CI5 partnerships are very much like a marriage and more of a commitment than most. Matheson and King became lovers because of or despite being partners for over four years, Ray. And they might not be the only ones."
Doyle nodded as I finished and the uncertainty in his eyes told me he was thinkin' much the same things I'd been considering in the back of me head for a long time.
Hell, I've lusted after that tight slim body since I met him. Didn't love him yet though. God knows 'e's a difficult sod when he wants to be. Sometimes I wondered if he could be as blind to men lustin' after him as he seemed to be. I had came to terms with my feelings years ago. I'd made my choice and as content if not uproariously happy about it.
Doyle's expression was open and I could see the almost fearful desire in his eyes. Half of me was elated, optimistic and hopeful while the other half of me was afraid cause he could be merely curious while I was in deadly earnest. What if he found it borin and unfulfilling and decided a one-off was sufficient for curiosity. I froze in fear.
His voice faded and I couldn't let him grope about when I knew what had to be said. I think he was more scared than I was right then. I chanced a smile, a tiny one, merely a twitch of my lips but it seemed to help cause he continued while I sat mute.
"This has made me reexamine my feelings about the job and about you, Bodie. I think you have become the most important person in my life. I feel comfortable and safe with you. And that is something very rare for me. I suppose it helps that I need someone who understands me and my lifestyle."
He sighed and shifted closer. "Stop me if I'm startin' to bore you," he warned, grinning weakly. "Where was I, oh yea, I've started to believe your claims about being perfect. Modest, too." His eyes finally met mine, looking as hopeful as any six year old begging for a special treat. Not that the look in those green eyes wasn't adult. Oh, they were very adult. They wanted me to agree with whatever he was about to propose.
Certain now about Ray, I cupped my hands on either side of his face and gently kissed his perfect ... nose.
"When you're right, you're right, sunshine," I informed him, over a bubble of triumphant laughed rising through me. Then I cut off he indignant retort with my mouth.
My god, Ray kisses with all the enthusiasm of a missionary preachin' and with more talent than a high priced whore. I've never been so turned on by just kissing someone before in my life. Not the first kiss at least. I could have kissed him forever, feeding from that sweet mouth, running my hands through those thick curls, devouring that long, strong throat, pressing tiny kisses over those wide shoulders, rubbing my hands down his spine slowly, then cupping that exquisite arse... grrrrrrr.
Need I say more. You surely get the idea. I tried to eat the man. From the groans, chuckles, and various hungry noises I heard, Ray was returning the favor and certainly seemed to be enjoying it immensely.
I purposely kept my hands in his hair for now, having felt the very slight stiffening whenever my hands roved in certain areas. Ray having been a copper certainly new the nasty side of male loving.
Because he loves and trusts me I know it will never be that way with us. So does Ray. There's no hurry for now. Tonight this incredible tenderness and closeness will be more than enough.
Tomorrow we are off to a cabin in the lake district for some peace and solitude. Three days to answer all Ray's questions and fears. Three days in which to build a new life.
Then we are goin' to tell Cowley he's got a new secret to conceal. Somehow I suspect he won't be as surprised as all that.
You see, George Cowley must know more than most how CI5 partnerships can become something more than originally planned.
-- THE END --