The Joy of Camping


"I'm homosexual."

The admission, in keeping with the general tone of conversation thus far, was followed by a sharp laugh, and Doyle glanced up, a piece of chocolate held inches from his mouth, forgotten. "You what?"

Bodie grinned, taking another pull from the bottle he was cradling like a newborn. "Queer as a three-pound note. As in not straight, gay, a fairy, an uncrowned queen, a pansy, poofter, bugger, sodomite, and campier 'n a row of tents," a tight smile and a pause for breath as it seemed to occur to Bodie that they were, in fact, in a tent, then, "Not to put too fine a point on it, the love that dare not speak its name, or, as the Yanks would say, a faggot."

The string of words had come out so quickly, and stopped so suddenly on that foreign one -- faggot -- slurred by the bottle of scotch they'd shared, that Ray found himself silenced, completely at a loss. He grabbed the bottle back from Bodie and looked at the piece of chocolate melting in his palm. Then shrugging, he put it in his mouth, following it down with another mouthful of scotch and tasting neither.

Ray could only stare hard at Bodie until he came back into focus again, then he found his voice, "You saying you're bent?"

Bodie's answer was to blink owlishly at him, then fall back onto his sleeping bag, clutching at his belly and gasping. "Ah, s-sunshine. Quick on the -- uptake -- you are. Christ. Hang on." Bodie's laughter finally subsided to a low chuckle and he sat up again after a minute, face flushed from laughter and scotch. "Aw bloody hell, give us the bottle, mate."

Ray handed it off, glad he'd taken it from him before Bodie'd collapsed with mirth. Could've had good scotch all over the tent, leaving it in that worthy's hands. Bodie grinned, seeming almost recovered, taking a draught of scotch and still chuffing with laughter every time he looked Doyle's way.

Ray considered Bodie's flushed cheeks, and the other, already emptied bottle of scotch leaned up against the two glasses, long ago discarded in favour of direct pulls from the bottle. Then he looked back at Bodie again, still trying to put two and two together, until finally he'd worked it all out. Nodding to himself in agreement, he took another drink and shared his new insight. Bodie was clearly wrong. "You, old son, are bishexual."

"'Gay's what I am," Bodie spat out at once, sounding as if he were offended at the very idea of bisexuality, his lower lip jutting out in a pout. Ray noted absently that he tended to sulk more when drunk.

"Nah," Ray reiterated again for Bodie's benefit, "bishexual. Definit-ively."

"Bisexual with an essss," Bodie echoed.

"Presh-prec - " his tongue was thick in his mouth, so he swallowed and tried again. "Right. Said as much, din't I? Swing both ways, you do." And Ray nodded to himself again, glad Bodie'd caught on at last. Gay, he snorted to himself. Not bloody likely.

Wasn't as if he minded Bodie doing the other. Didn't make him gay to do it, though. Important thing was that Bodie slept with birds, which meant he wasn't a poofter.

He considered saying something more on the subject, but there was nothing more to say, really. Bodie looked a bit wrung out. Too much booze. Should've started drinking later, or stopped earlier. Better yet, should've brought 'round a couple of birds this trip. Yeah. Dunno why he didn't think of it sooner. Could always call Mandy tomorrow. Phone box in town not two miles off. Still had the rest of the week on holiday. Might convince her to bring 'round that friend of hers she was on about fixing up with Bodie. Looked to rain tomorrow any road. Could pack up the tent and see about a b&b instead, if the girls weren't into roughing it. Not as if they'd paid for anything so far.

Only Bodie's clearing his throat drew his attention again and he opened his mouth to tell Bodie the new plan but was interrupted by Bodie's near shouting, all but unintelligible.

"You what?"

But Bodie just glared, pouting again.

Trying again, he asked, "You what?"

"Bish-bisexual," Bodie said with an air of finality.

Frustrated now, Ray wondered just how many times they had to go over this. "Right. Both ways." Then, just to show his own approval of the matter, he added, "Nothing wrong with a bit of variety, is there."

"Christ, Doyle, you gone deaf or somethin'?"

His back up a bit, he didn't trust himself to answer without shouting, so he stayed silent. Christ, but Bodie was in a mood.

"I'm tellin' you, 'm not bloody bisexual." Bodie heaved a great sigh and Ray suddenly felt a bit guilty.

"Bodie -- "

"'s all right. Go to sleep, Doyle."

Bodie threw himself down on his sleeping bag and Ray swallowed the apology he'd started on, deciding it was best not to say anything. Particularly as he didn't know what he felt sorry for. Sorry he ruined the mood.

Readjusting the pillow, he lay himself down and told himself to just get some sleep, but he could tell Bodie wasn't asleep yet. No snores or snuffles, and Bodie always was a loud one in the out of doors, especially when he'd been drinking.

Instead, the berk had his back to him and was muttering to himself quietly. Ray caught the word "poofter" and then a series of sounds he couldn't make out but which ended with a curse and a "bloody Cow".

Then it was quiet again, and he had just about decided Bodie was out for the night when Bodie whispered, "Ray?" in a low voice.

He thought about not answering, pretending he was asleep, but gave up when Bodie said it again, this time loud enough to wake him if he was asleep.


"Look, if I were a compass...." Bodie trailed off and then heaved himself back up, picking up and looking thoughtfully at the bottle beside him before removing the cap and taking another drink.

"A compass?" Ray prodded, sitting up again and squinting at his watch in the darkness. Looked to be two a.m. A few minutes later, when Bodie hadn't finished, he gave up and closed his eyes, lying back down again. Two a.m. The plan was to rise early, take another hike. Not looking likely at this rate. Trying to think of something else but Bodie and his moods, he picked up again the idea of calling Mandy. Would be nice to have her here. All that red hair, great skin, and curves, oh, the curves on her... though, to be fair, he'd really poached from Bodie after all. Be a bit rude to ask her to bring her friend up for Bodie when she'd been his to start with. Come to think on it, Bodie hadn't really fought very hard to keep her, had he? "You say somethin'?"

"I said, if I were a compass -- " Bodie said again, suddenly louder, belligerent sounding.

Ray sat up again and grinned, suddenly, "A compass? Thought you were bent. Be more of a -- " he searched for the word, then found it. "Right, a compass. Going in circles, are you?"

But Bodie seemed not to hear him. "And men were North -- " Bodie continued, serious and intent.

"Men're what?"

Bodie rolled his eyes and shook his head. "Listen. 's important. I'm a compass and men're

North --"

"Why're men North?" Suddenly interested again, Ray sat up, tucking a pillow behind him.

Bodie glared at the interruption. "Because -- because they are!" Bodie all but sputtered.

Ray shrugged. "Dunno, mate. Could just as well be South, or West, or -- "

"North," Bodie said again.

"East or South," Ray added, not pleased to be interrupted.

"You -- " Bodie sighed heavily again and crossed his arms. "Not going to tell you if you keep on interrupting."

Bodie was pouting again, so he gave in. Least Bodie wasn't shouting now. "Won't interrupt. So go on with it." Then, when Bodie didn't pick up his story, Ray summed up for him, "Men, for whatever reason, are North. And you're a compass?"

"Yeah. No, listen. 's a metaphor. A comparison."

"Know what a metaphor is!"

"Right then. So listen -- men're North," Bodie heaved a sigh again, "See, look, 's simple. If I were a compass, and men were North, then..." Bodie trailed off, then, and nodded, as if his point had been made.

But for the life of him, Ray had no idea what the point was. Okay, so Bodie was a compass, was he? Right. He followed that as far as it took him, Bodie not looking ready to offer any more help. So Bodie was a compass. Made sense. Be useful, that, as they were in the woods, so if they got lost, Bodie's little arrow.... Getting that far, he dissolved into appreciative snickers.

"Oi, whasso funny?" Bodie demanded, looking wounded, but Ray couldn't tell him, lost in the humour of it, knowing that if he were sober, it wouldn't be all that funny, probably, but right now... right now, it was bloody classic. Bodie's little arrow, always pointing at --

He sobered suddenly, as a thought occurred to him. "Oi, hang about! What about me, then?"

Bodie looked puzzled. "Eh?"

"'s it always pointed at me as well, then?"

"Eh?" Bodie asked again, seeming not to follow.

"I'm a man," Ray said, and that sounded funny, odd, and he wondered if he'd ever had cause to say that before. Trying a different tack, he clarified, "I'm North."

Bodie blinked at him, not seeming to get the import of this. He took another drink from the bottle, grabbing it out of Bodie's hand, and waved in the direction of Bodie's "little arrow."

"That pointed at me, then, is it?" he asked, then gasped as his hand got too close, brushing up against Bodie's crotch hard enough for him to feel the stirring there, under his fingers. Alive, that was, not pointing as yet, but definitely interested. Bodie just looked at him, oddly, and he realised his hand was still there and lifted it. "Sorry," he added, in apology, then took another drink, trying to cover the sudden rush of... something, he felt, something that he didn't have a name for.

For a few seconds, neither of them said anything more, and Ray tried to think, sure he could get past the drink if he really focussed. Couldn't be much use to CI5 if you couldn't sober up as needed, and, while he wouldn't like to go on duty in this state, he could certainly apply his mind to the task at hand. Bodie had, out of the blue, said he was bent. Must be far gone to have said as much. Not as if they'd been having true confessions or anything. And, not that Ray had fully dismissed the notion that Bodie was mistaken about that, was probably bisexual if he fancied men and was quite the lady's man with birds, whom he had fucked, after all -- Ray had watched on more than one occasion....

And getting that far in meditation, caught up in the memory of having watched Bodie in action, he gave up, lost and unable to decide what to make of it.

Another thought occurred. "Oi, hang on -- you jus' discover this?"

"Always knew it in me heart of hearts," Bodie answered, his sombre expression marred by a certain glassy-eyed stare.

"Always?" Ray repeated, considering it. "So wha's this in aid of?"


"Tellin' me now -- why say somethin' now?" he clarified. Was one thing if it had just now occurred to Bodie he was bent and so wanted to share the insight; but if he'd always known, it seemed a bit odd to wait five years to tell your partner, didn't it?

"Tha's why," Bodie said, and pointed at him.

Ray looked down, following Bodie's wavering finger. "What? Me? Me chest?"

"Hmm. Poor beau'ful sunshine. 'sawful," Bodie whispered, his voice gone all soft, bringing his outstretched hand closer, his fingertips skimming Ray's chest lightly. Ray looked down at Bodie's hand, swirling around the puckered skin there. Had healed well enough now that Ray'd stopped noticing it himself, unless a woman commented while he undressed. They usually didn't, of course, being polite as a rule, only asking about them after sex, when it seemed a lesser intimacy somehow, to comment on the flaws of your partner....

His flesh goosepimpled as Bodie's fingers slipped off the path of his scars briefly and ran over his left nipple, hardening it with his touch. Bodie dropped his hand back to his side and looked away, and Ray followed his gaze, but Bodie was only looking out the tent flap, kept open for the air. There was nothing to see, the dark claiming the forest, the moonlight kept out by the trees, though they'd picked a spot where you could see the stars if you stood right outside the tent and stared directly up.

It was warm out, and suddenly seemed warmer in the tent, a line of sweat running down his sides and back. An unusually warm summer or he'd have worn a vest to sleep in. But he'd been sweaty from their hike following the stream that cut through the forest, and he'd taken the rank shirt off before supper, then stayed half-dressed when the tent air seemed warm enough, even a bit too close, smelling of sweat and campfire smoke and the moist excess of decomposing plant life.

Bodie was, as was usual when they camped, wearing a loose vest, now untucked from his slightly flared jeans, his body well-covered despite the heat, the blanket tucked up over his bare feet. Ray found his eyes following the vague shape of Bodie's body under the fabric, knowing well enough what he looked like under it -- that mix of hard and soft that seemed to turn the birds on fiercely.

Something in the way Bodie seemed dangerous -- was dangerous -- strong enough to protect you -- them -- birds sensed that, didn't they? But also vulnerable, like a little boy, especially when he sulked. Mandy had gone so far as to describe Bodie as a teddy bear, and Ray could see the resemblance now, though he'd laughed at the time, imagining Bodie's expression were he to hear that. React more like a real bear -- tear into him, he would. Goldilocks and his teddy-bear, Cowley's finest. He laughed to himself again, imagining telling the Cow he was Father bear to Bodie's baby bear, but as he could find no one who fit in as Mum, 'less he considered Betty, he gave up on that notion quickly. Yeah, glassy-eyed and drunk as he was, Bodie looked especially stuffed about now. Yeah, even the Cow knew underneath it all Bodie was a bit of a softie -- stuffin' leakin' out all over 'im, wasn't it? Even a bit too bright eyed and "who me?" for Cowley to ever really give him what for, still the Cow called his bluff on it often enough.

And Christ, he must be far gone himself, thinking of teddy bears and fairy tales at a time like this. But as to the other -- compasses and all -- better not worry over that which he didn't know what to do with yet, nor how to answer it, nor even if he was expected to answer it.

Probably shouldn't've told Bodie he was wrong. 's what got Bodie angry to begin with.

Not ready to talk again, and still not ready to try to sleep again, he stood up and busied himself lighting the oil lamp, suddenly thinking it too dark in the tent. Taking three tries to light the wick, he finally caught it and Bodie came back into focus again in the soft light of the lamp.

Eyeing the rumpled black vest that fell just past Bodie's belt, he found himself agreeing again, not so fanciful this time. Wasn't just a physical resemblance, was it? Amiable, provident, generous, expansive, Bodie was all of those. And Mandy had a point, even to look at him -- all his muscles well cushioned under flesh that Bodie periodically lost whenever they trained hard under Macklin's refreshers, but which just as regularly settled back again after they returned to normal duty. Still, that softness on such a large frame did nothing to diminish his appeal with the birds, did it? Seemed to add to it, in fact. A man who appreciated his pleasures, and shared 'em as well. Never ate alone, nor drank alone, did he? Nor went home alone, 'less it was his choice to. And birds seemed to sense that Bodie was one to share his pleasures -- probably in bed as well as out of it. Christ, and that bed, covered in that daft sheepskin rug and a seeming endless pile of down pillows -- was a veritable hedonist's paradise, that.

It was, in fact, hard to imagine Bodie in his old life in the SAS, or as a merc, living on military reconstituted rations and sleeping in tents or exposed to the elements. Was no wonder he left that behind. Even this morning, Bodie'd complained bitterly that they'd managed to stumble on the one spot to pitch tent that rested on bare rock -- hyperbole, that was. He'd pounded the tent stakes in himself, and easily. But the prat'd made a nice grand show of testing out the different sides of the tent floor until he'd decided which was the softest ground onto which he might lower his delicate and easily bruised bulk, leaving Ray to lay his bag out on the presumably hardest side left to him and do all the unpacking, and the cooking for that matter. Bodie's commanding officers surely wouldn't have put up with such grousing laziness. Cowley certainly didn't. Course, Bodie was only ever a layabout this way when they were alone together.

Yeah, Bodie might be the one who always bought the last round, concerned himself with everyone's pleasure, but it was his own that came first, foremost and always. Selfish prat. Still, it was hard to imagine Bodie being anything else. Bodie was Bodie, like it or lump it.

And he did like the daft sod --

Sodomite. And by his own admission, no less. Have to think of a new word for the dumb crud.

Feeling odd again, exhausted and too drunk to think clearly, he looked over again at his partner's fair hide, a lump stretched out on the sleeping bag. Bodie'd set aside the half-filled bottle of scotch carefully by his feet and looked to be sleeping, his breathing low and soft still, though from the lax way his hands curled over his belly, he was close to dropping off.

Feeling a bit lonely now, but loathe to break the silence, he lay back down again. Bodie'd talk when he was ready to talk -- probably wake him from a sound sleep to do it. And perhaps it was just as well that they fell asleep now, left the serious talking, if there was to be any, for the sober light of morning.

He re-arranged the bag till he could no longer feel the worst of the tree roots underneath and wanted to climb inside it, but it was too warm for it yet, the scotch heating him up further. Staring upward, he remembered the tent had a skylight -- for which they'd paid extra after all -- and he heaved up again to open it, balancing awkwardly on the bag and working the snaps, then nearly tripping over a pile of clothing on the floor. But Bodie didn't stir, even when he kicked him in the leg, so perhaps he was asleep after all.

Ray lay back down and looked up at the sky through the mesh window, listening to Bodie's even breaths, slightly congested snuffles. Would soon be a snore, but not yet, thankfully.

Satisfied that Bodie was well asleep now, Ray let his hand come up to rest over his own heart, watching the stars, blurry through the mesh skylight, while tracing the scars as Bodie had, remembering but setting aside the memory of the bullets that put them there, the brush with death that he'd resolved himself to and then pulled back from. Just over a year ago now, old news, and he was fully recovered, physically and mentally, signed sealed and delivered back from Dr Ross to Macklin to Cowley like some bloody package.

Bodie uttered a low moan and a loud snuffle and, suddenly self-conscious, Ray climbed into the bag and pulled the cover up, but not zipping it. Was too warm, but slightly more comfortable, the bag soft against his bare back. Checking again that Bodie was asleep, and feeling odd for it, as if he was doing something sexual, though this was anything but, he let his hand find the scars again, tracing them gently. The skin there was sensitive, almost ticklish under his touch, raised and ugly, but at least the hair that grew back covered the worst of the damage. It looked worse now, tan as he was, the scars pink-white against his browner skin.

It occurred to him that Bodie'd never really touched the scars before, as he'd just done. Not that there was reason to, but.... Bodie'd changed the bandages a few times, especially at first when it had been impossible for him to do it himself. But once the whole mess had healed through, Bodie'd only ever looked curiously at them now and again. Ray'd caught him at it, but it hadn't bothered him any more than the way Bodie occasionally looking at his cheek bothered him, which is to say not at all. There was something about a scar that drew the eye, he knew, that disturbed, though he was so used to his own lot as to not pay them mind. Others often looked and looked again, though, all of them probably wondering what was wrong with his face, how the cheek had broken. He knew he had an odd face for it. Not as if it hurt him if they looked, and nothing they ever said or thought would hurt more than having it broken in the first place, and getting it repaired, going under the knife once more only a few years ago to have the repair corrected again, but coming out looking no better for it, really, still flawed and uneven.

Didn't matter, though. He didn't live off his face, after all. He brought a hand up and traced the uneven cheek and sighed, remembering.

Bodie had his share of scars as well, though really, it was a wonder he didn't have more. It would be a shame, he decided, if injury ever marred that face, and maybe that's what Bodie thought when he looked at him: Glad that's not me. Not that he'd blame him for it.

No, all of Bodie's scars were well hidden, seldom exposed, like the scar on Bodie's shoulder, of mysterious origin, unlike the rest of them, most of which he'd tended to himself while they still bled. But Bodie kept covered up enough, all those polonecks, that he didn't have much opportunity to really look at length unless Bodie was asleep in his own bed.

Feeling the haze start to fade a bit, but with a looseness of drink still making him bold, his hand left his own scars and travelled lower. But he stopped when it rested on his belly, amazed that he was really going to do this, was really drunk enough to lose all his inhibitions. Bodie was asleep, though, or near enough as to make no difference, and even if he were to wake, they'd spent enough time in close quarters that he knew Bodie'd not comment, or perhaps might just wink at him in the morning and ask if he slept well. Yeah, he was going to do it, he decided, surprised the amount of alcohol he'd consumed tonight hadn't rendered him incapable, but feeling the heavy heat of his erection lying on his belly, already leaking slightly, although he'd done nothing sexual yet but think about Bodie watching, knowing....

Bodie. Bent. Oriented, compass-like, towards men. Towards him? Was that what this was about? He had his doubts, belaying his pleasures for a moment to consider it. Bodie, he realised, hadn't actually said yes or no to the question put to him. And Bodie's taste in birds seemed too varied to generalize. But he doubted, somehow, that he'd be the recipient of that same roving eye.

Although Bodie did camp enough -- the other kind, he thought with a grin -- pinching him, patting him, touching him here and there, often enough that he knew his own body was not repellent to Bodie. And why should it be?

Grinning to himself, he considered that he was, as Bodie was wont to say of birds, a bit of all right. Though perhaps Bodie only fancied men like himself, larger, bulkier, solid -- in other words, more than a bit of anything. Someone like Murphy, maybe. Bodie got on well with him, didn't he? And he wasn't a bad looking bloke, if you went for excessive height and broad shoulders and lousy sense of humour.

Someone... but not Ray Doyle, in any case. Even five years ago, when he'd still been a bit heavier, he'd not been nearly as large as Bodie, lacking the basic build for it, even to the bones always slighter, if not very much shorter than Bodie. Still, his body wasn't unattractive, was it. Pulled in the birds, didn't he? And once he'd stopped eating red meat and having less fat and sugar, trying to be a bit healthier -- something Bodie mocked, perhaps rightly, given their line of work -- he'd gotten slimmer than he was when he was twenty, even, though his face was still round, annoyingly so. Only thing he didn't really like about himself was that. Hard to look tough when people kept saying you had an angel-face.

He shuddered, half-mocking himself for it, then suddenly thought of Bodie, calling him angelfish. But he was just camping it up, nothing serious in that, was there.

Nah, Bodie himself said he was scrawny, didn't he? "C'n take you w'one hand behind me back." Course, Bodie couldn't live up to his own challenge. Had that worthy pinned to the mat quickly enough. Still, Bodie hadn't meant it, had he? Was just retaliating for Ray's telling him he was getting fat. No idea why he'd said that, now, as it wasn't as if he cared one way or the other how Bodie looked.

He sighed, looking over at Bodie and feeling guilty suddenly. Should apologise. In fact, since the shooting, and even with physical rehabilitation, was his own body he should be worried over. Still down at least a stone from last year, despite much effort to fight it. Worried him, that did, and Macklin'd even harped on him over it. Might not have the weight to best a much larger opponent, at this rate, though he could take Bodie on well enough. He'd been working doubly hard to make up in speed and skill what he now lacked in weight and muscle, but there was only so far he could push himself. But Bodie depended on him for backup, so he pushed harder than that. And yeah, for himself, also, as he needed to know he was still capable of besting anyone, large or small, in a fair fight, or even an unfair one if it came to it.

His desire was, he noted, fading, banked down now at the thought of losing a fight, even though he knew, intellectually, that it hadn't been that long since he'd been holding his own not to die. Have to have patience, and he had that in short supply.

He glanced over at Bodie again, seeing that he'd rolled onto his side, facing him, one hand curled near his cheek, the other pillowing his head, his vest pulling up slightly so a bit of pale skin peeked out. Charming, that. Like a kid, he was. Hardly the baddie Bodie made himself out to be. Was hard to imagine Bodie fighting someone right now, much less with a man. Hard. But not impossible. Someone handsome, surely. Yeah, handsome and modest, he laughed to himself, his mood picking up again as he thought that it would be just like Bodie to be a narcissist about it.

On the other hand, maybe he'd pick someone unlike himself. Perhaps even a slim red-head -- Bodie liked that type in birds. Maybe it crossed over. So who?. . .not that it had to be someone on the squad, but why not? That new bloke, Langtree? Was Bodie's style -- in birds at least -- slim, wavy-ish red hair, moved well enough, handsome. Course he laughed like a drain and Bodie'd only ever argued with him in the restroom and said in private that Langtree had a chip on his shoulder. Nah, he wasn't worthy of Bodie's notice, that one.

So... red hair... Cowley, then? Ray grinned. Yeah, Bodie was cheeky enough with George. Could be flirting, if you read it right. Smiling to himself still, Ray considered it seriously for a moment. Bodie liked the old man well enough, and the idea -- Bodie and Cowley -- didn't disgust Ray to think of... not that he fancied the Cow himself, nor any man, but Bodie....

Nor any man but Bodie? Bodie might fancy Cowley... but did he, Raymond Doyle, fancy Bodie? Christ, he wasn't sure which he'd meant, what he'd been about to think -- did think.

Set it aside for the moment. Better to think of the first, as it was easier, solvable.

Yeah, Bodie might well fancy Cowley. The old man wasn't so old, really, and in fair shape for a man his age, still close to fighting trim, despite the leg. And Bodie did respond to authority, fairly bristled under it, but responded nonetheless. Yeah, it was possible.

Odd, that it really didn't turn him off to think of it. Yet he did feel something else curling in his belly, and he identified it quickly as jealousy. Odd. Not just that, but desire? His cock twitched, confirming that. Yeah, that as well. Jealousy and desire, but for Bodie? Certainly not for Cowley. He grinned. No, definitely not that.

So did he want Bodie for himself, or was it merely the idea that Bodie could feel more toward someone else, be more loyal to someone else? If Bodie had to choose between following Cowley or him, what would his partner -- his partner -- decide? Yeah, Bodie had disobeyed orders to protect him when it came to it, but what if a real choice had to be made -- would Bodie pick him over the Cow? Over CI5?

Daft questions, all.

He shook his head at himself, wondering how such thoughts came to him when he was drunk and dozy, very glad that Bodie was asleep while he was thinking them. While Bodie slept, he could admit to himself that he was somewhat covetous of Bodie's attention, demanding of his presence, his attentions, his focus, concentration, his company, his time... hell, he even poached Bodie's girlfriends on occasion, and for what? Wasn't to make Bodie angry, as it never did.

Then why? Jealousy? Desire? Couldn't be that, could it?

"Oi, Bodie," he whispered, then louder, "Bodie, wake up."

Bodie stirred, his eyes fluttering open, looking alert almost at once despite the booze and sleep. "Ray?"

"Fancy me 't all?"

Bodie blinked, rubbing at his eyes, but didn't answer. Maybe he hadn't heard?

Ray swallowed, hard, wondering if he'd underestimated the effects of the scotch. After all, just because he thought he could think this through satisfactorily did not mean he wasn't still drunk -- he was -- they'd been drinking for hours now, joking and drinking well into the night. Stupid, stupid. Could cock up the partnership, asking questions like that.

Bodie's protracted silence told him it was a mistake, that he should have bit down on the words before they got past his loosened tongue, before he could get as far as saying them aloud. Asking Bodie if he fancied him! But if it were true....

Yeah, and if it were not, he'd put Bodie in the place of having to say no, which he well might, and then it was like Bodie turning him down, wasn't it -- as if he'd chanced his arm with Bodie, which wasn't what he'd meant at all.

But wasn't it? Why ask, then, if not for that, as a proposition. Idle curiosity, was it? Yeah, mate, and the other has bells on.

Christ. Did he want Bodie to fancy him? Far better that he didn't. But... if he did....

Nah, just because the idea wasn't a turn-off didn't mean he was turning queer all of a sudden. Just meant he'd an active imagination and an admirably open mind, that was all. Could turn-on to just about anything, in the right circumstances, given enough to drink, and he'd had that -- nearly a bottle of scotch.

Bodie's silence, stretching out to minutes, became intolerable.

"Look, forget it, mate. Stupid question. Go back to sleep. 's okay. Talk in the morning, if you like."

If you like. And what did Bodie like?

But Bodie didn't go back to sleep, propping himself on one elbow. Shock at himself was giving way to amusement as he noticed Bodie's sleepy expression, that same daft expression he got whenever he was concentrating on defusing a bomb or finding the right key to unlock his flat after a pub crawl. Fish-face, no angel about it.

But then his tongue pulled back in again suddenly and Bodie nodded to himself, and then his face suddenly went blank again, showing nothing more than a sleepy disinterest.

"Nah. Was a fair question, that," Bodie said and paused, as if to consider it once more. "Yeah, guess I do fancy you at that."

"You do?" he echoed, then chided himself, as Bodie'd just said it, so what did he need, an affidavit?

"Yeah. Guess I do," Bodie repeated, blinking at him, then smiling softly.

"Guess?" Ray repeated, hearing now that Bodie'd said "guess" twice now. What the hell there was to guess at? Either Bodie did or he didn't, right?

Bodie hiccoughed and sat up suddenly, a mocking grin on his face as he stretched his arms up above his head, then down again to rest behind him, propping himself up that way. "Ask me again and I'll tell you no lies."

Bodie's smiling disinterest had turned to a wicked, and clearly interested grin, a challenge clearly implied in his bleary eyes. This time, to ask, Ray knew, would be thought a proposition on his part. No matter what his own intent, Bodie's smirk made that quite clear. A game, was it? And if Bodie said yes now, were they -- was he -- obliged to pursue it?

Setting aside that doubt, he reminded himself that Bodie had seemed wholly unconcerned for his feelings on the matter. Wasn't about his feelings, was it. Was about Bodie and whether he fancied him. So he dared it, clearing his throat and asking again, "So you fancy me, do you?"

"Yes, I believe -- in fact, I'm quite certain -- I do fancy you." Bodie's expression was very serious, mannered, and with more than a touch of mockery in his voice, cued up in Bodie's own drunken attempt at smooth, upper-class tones.

"Oh," Ray replied, then realised he was no better off now than before. So Bodie did fancy him. "You -- that why you told me? This some sort of come on?"

"Ah, no," Bodie shook his head.

"No?" Ray repeated, not so drunk as to not notice that Bodie'd left one question unanswered. "Not a come on or not why you told me?"

"Jus' got to thinking that you deserved to know. Wasn't right to keep a secr - "

"But you did it for five years," Ray cut him short, sitting himself up now, and sliding back out of the sleeping bag so he could look at Bodie properly, noting absently that his own voice sounded harsh, though he didn't know that he was angry, nor what there was to be angry about. Bodie had every right to keep a secret, even that secret. Not as if he told Bodie everything about himself, did he? Just 'cause Bodie fancied him was no reason....

Scratch that. And besides, wasn't as if he didn't have secrets of his own. Certainly none of that magnitude. Although he had never told Bodie about the dream, what he'd dreamed while dying, but that wasn't so much a secret as... just something not worth telling, he'd decided that long ago. Too personal, and besides, Bodie hadn't ever asked him, not even a joke about the light at the end of the tunnel, which he'd heard from damn near everybody else on the squad, once they were sure he was back among the living. Hell, he hadn't even told Doctor Ross about the dream, beyond generalities.

"Yeah," Bodie agreed, bringing back to the moment and looking a bit sheepish, "but better late than

- ." Bodie stopped, then looked away suddenly, and Ray felt a chill raise the goosebumps on his skin again, and rubbed his arms briskly, trying to warm up.

"Chance'd be a fine thing. Last month would've done. Last year, in hospital, you could've -- " he stopped, and Bodie didn't say anything more and, more than that, wouldn't look at him.

The sudden chill still with him, he drew the sleeping bag up higher, fighting the zipper and having to undo it to get back inside it. He had a moment of fear, feeling trapped and knowing it was the booze at work, and lack of sleep, but disoriented nonetheless, as if he were not really here, none of this real. Bodie -- his mate -- was unreal -- that, and more than that, he was -- it was -- wrong.

Denial strong in him, he knew it was just fear, easier to turn away, to pretend -- if Bodie let him -- that this wasn't happening.

His heart was beating too fast, because he knew what Bodie had been thinking before he'd looked away -- "better late than never" he'd meant to say. And he recognised that look on Bodie's face, intense, dark and predatory, usually focussed on some bird close at hand, in a pub after the danger had passed, usually. But Bodie got that look every time they faced death and survived, with every close call and every bomb that didn't go off in their hands.

This was no such close call, was it? Yet Death -- the memory of it at least -- was too close, tightening his throat. And his own adrenaline was pumping, he could feel it, pricking the hair on his neck, though he was not afraid of Bodie, and there was no real threat here in the woods.

That look -- he even knew the thought behind it, though still not why, was still not sure why his scars, now healed over, should trigger something like this, and directed at him, when his death -- near death, had not. Over a year now and Bodie'd been going on as before, still dating birds, for gods sake.

As had he. Maybe not as many, but he'd been nearly serious about a few of them, though none as serious as Ann had been, not even Esther. Though he still wasn't sure why not her -- he'd almost loved her, had cared about her, and still sent her away in tears. And to what purpose? Not as if he wanted to be alone.

So again, why now? If near-death, near-marriage even -- and wasn't that close to a near-death in a way, his relief afterwards just as strong, god help him, and just as mixed with grief, just as confusing -- if that hadn't done it, hadn't moved Bodie to this.... So he asked again, "Why now?"

"Why not?" Bodie responded blankly, answering nothing, still not looking at him.

"Why -- " he stopped before he asked it again, the question getting him nowhere. Trying a different tack, he argued "I'm heterosexual, tha's why."

That got Bodie's eyes back on him. "Ah, but you're not." Bodie's response was immediate and certain, the words, if not the tone, belligerent, talking down to him as if he were a child or a fool missing some important point.

"You what?"

"No more straight than I am, that is." Bodie was working to enunciate, but the words, spoken clearly enough, still slurred in his mind, stirring around without making much sense.

"Course I am." And, just to be clear, Ray said it again, "'Course I am. I'm straight. Heterosh -- hetero."

"Bisexual's what you are," Bodie said again, slowly. "Sorry, mate." And Bodie did look genuinely sorry.

He laughed at the absurdity of that. Genuine or not, Bodie was off his head. "Projecting, are you?"

"Dabbling in psychology, Raymond? Try again."

"Common-sense's, morelike." Damned infuriating -- 'try again', as if this were a game of darts or somesuch - "Look here, you're the bish - " Christ, he couldn't even say it properly. "And I'm s-straight." Bodie raised one arch eyebrow and so he added, "C'n check with Cowley if you won't take my word on it. Check w' bloody Ross."

"No need," Bodie replied, still looking smug. "And, as I said before, I'm gay. Bent. Not bisexual." Bodie sat up further and crossed his arms over his chest, seemingly sure he'd won the argument.

"Look here -- " Ray began, about to argue the difference, then suddenly realising what the hell he was saying.

The ridiculousness of the argument seemed to hit them both at once, but Bodie was the first to manage a smile. Ray was still caught slack-jawed, trying to figure out how the conversation had turned from Bodie fancying him to Bodie accusing him of being... what? And on what grounds? He'd never wanted another man, not like that. Still didn't. Christ, not even Bodie.

But.... So what if he was, not that he was, but what if...? Bisexual. Was he? Right, and he'd just failed to notice it for thirty-five years!

Suddenly, it hit him, and he grinned. A joke! Had to be. Not much of a funny, but since when's Bodie 'ad more than the crudest sense of humour? Bodie was just cooking up something -- the whole thing, from the start, just some elaborate put-on.

But to what end? Still, made more sense than to take it all as serious. After all, Bodie, gay? He snorted at that, suddenly seeing the humour after all. Bodie and Murphy. Christ, better yet, Bodie and Cowley! They'd have a good laugh over that one, later.

Or Bodie and himself! Now that was 'round the twist. Wouldn't mention that one.

Chuckling to himself, and kicking himself a bit for letting Bodie get to him so easily -- Christ, have to take it easy on the scotch -- he sighed, relieved. Was probably just the heat and exertion, and the light meal. He hadn't even finished his sandwich, after all.

So what to do now? Play along? See how far Bodie was willing to take this charade? Why not? Be worth a laugh. Getting stroppy 'bout it would only make him out to be the spoilsport. Might's well play along, then.

Squinting at Bodie suspiciously, he repeated, smirking to himself at the thought, "You sure you aren't bisexual?" and before Bodie could answer, he reminded, "You do fuck birds. Seen you do it. Whereas I don't..." he left off as Bodie nodded, ceding the point.

"True enough. But I don't fall in love w'them. Birds, I mean."

"Oi, what about -- "

"Doyle. I don't fall in love with them. Never 'ave."

"But -- "

Bodie sighed, then smiled, and Ray gave up on that line, holding up his hands in surrender, and feeling a mite sorry for that girl Krivas killed. And Marikka as well. And all those other's Bodie'd led on. Course there was love and there was love. Bit different when you were just a kid, wasn't it? Could tell yourself it was love easily enough when they were dead, he considered, then felt a bit uncharitable. "Fine, then. So you're bent, because you fall in love with men, that it? And your fucking women means -- "

"Nothing much," Bodie finished the sentence. "Or, not enough, at any rate."

Ray nodded, though he didn't really follow that. Still, it was Bodie's game, after all. But all right, so it wasn't a matter of sex.... Trying to work it out, he pushed on, "And I'm bisexual because...?"

"You fell in love with me," Bodie finished, his voice gone quiet.

"Oh." So that was it then. He was in love with Bodie. Now this was taking it a bit far. Just how smashed was Bodie?

In any case, he could use another drink. No use getting sober at this point. "Give us another drink." Then, when Bodie made no move, he growled, "Pass the blasted scotch, Bodie."

"Won't help. Already tried it." But Bodie passed it to him and he uncapped it, swallowing some down. He shrugged, trying to convey his opinion that Bodie's opinion was both unsolicited and lacking in insight. Course booze would help. If he fell into a bloody unconscious stupor right now, that'd be surely better than this.

Him in love with Bodie! Utterly....

After a reasonable period of drinking and passing the bottle back and forth again, Bodie drinking along with him any road, he found he could stay silent no longer. Bodie was still looking vaguely self-satisfied, which bothered the hell out of him, made him itch to take Bodie down a peg or two. "So I'm in love with you?"

Bodie wiped his mouth on the edge of the sleeping bag, catching the scotch he'd spilled down his chin -- messy bugger, he was, once he got going. "Yesss."

"Anyone else I should know 'bout?"


He grinned, thinking about Cowley again. Or maybe Murphy. That'd take the cake, wouldn't it? "Dunno, was just thinking. 'm I in love w' anyone else -- besides you, that is?"

Bodie grinned and tipped the bottle toward him. "Hope not. Don't fancy the competition."

"Har, har," he offered, and grabbed for the bottle. Downing another mouthful, he resumed contemplation, studying the emptying bottle. A bottle for each of them, this was, and they'd be wasted through tomorrow. But they had the whole rest of the week off, and could sleep in and throw up on the trees without Cowley's deadline to meet. A week's holiday. Hadn't really gone on a tearing drunk in months, not since they'd last had significant time off, though he'd gotten properly smashed last Christmas, once he'd gone off the last of the bloody pain pills.

That decided, he finished off the bottle and handed the empty to Bodie. "We got another?"

"Yeah. Save it, though. Might need it tomorrow."

Bodie's tone implied the joke was not over. Nor was the matter settled as far as he was concerned. Joke or not, and he was sure now it had been a joke, one didn't go around redefining one's partner's sexual orientation for them. Bloody presumptuous, that was. He might've taken it seriously, and then where'd they be.

He brought his hand up to his chest and scratched, feeling the scars again. And how did the scars work in all this?

What if it wasn't Bodie havin' him on?

What if Bodie did have some half-arsed idea that they meant something, though the berk couldn't say what, nor why they hadn't mattered when he'd still been laid out in hospital, barely alive.

"Oi, Bodie."

Bodie had rolled back down into his sleeping bag and looked to be dozing again.

"Oi, Bodie!"


"I love you before I was shot?"

Bodie cracked open one eye. "Dunno. Did you?"

Ray scowled back at him and muttered to himself, "Fat lot you know."

He lay down again, ignoring the slight spin of the tent skylight, looking past it to the sky above and trying very hard not to think about last year. It was all a strange practical joke, this was....

Though it wasn't funny. Have to tell Bodie that in the morning. Losing his sense of humour, he was, if he ever had one....

"Christ, the sun," Ray moaned, rolling over onto his belly, ignoring the surge of bile flooding up. If he could fall back asleep quickly, he mightn't throw up now.

He heard Bodie moving next to him and then the godawful light cut out and he managed to open one eye. Bodie had smartly closed the skylight and the tent front, putting the tent back into shadows.

"You as sick as me?" he asked, and saw Bodie's pale face and tight lips. "Yeah, thought as much."

"Your fault," Bodie whispered, bringing one hand up to his forehead and leaving it there.

"'ow's it mine?"

"Told you it wouldn't help."

"What makes you think it didn't help?" Ray argued, then rolled onto his side, finding it no better.

"Hung over and you're still in love with me, sunshine," Bodie whispered, grinning weakly.

Ray forced himself to sit up, swallowing as the dizziness hit and ignoring the pounding in his head. "Sod off. 's not funny anymore."

God, his head ached. Felt like a lorry'd run him over. The sound of glass on glass drew his glare to the two empty bottles of scotch. Smaller than a lorry, but no less deadly.

"Not in this state, I'm afraid," Bodie was smirking smugly, looking a bit less pale as a bit of colour came to his cheeks.

"You what?"

"Sodding off. Later, if you're good, perhaps...."

Ray blinked, then scowled and got to his feet, leaving the tent. Not as if there were an answer to that, short of a bit of camp, and he really wasn't in the mood for it.

That worthy just didn't know when to leave off on a joke, even a bad one.

The sun was horribly bright, cutting through the tree-tops and right into his head, but he squinted and managed to find the hole Bodie'd dug the day before and relieving the pressure of his bladder helped to lighten his mood somewhat. By the time he returned to the campsite proper, the nausea had subsided somewhat, though his mouth still tasted like stale chocolate and staler scotch. He found his kit lying under a fall of leaves and fumbled for his toothbrush, blanching at the sharp peppermint sting of toothpaste on his furry tongue. Then, unable to find the canteen, he nearly stumbled over the coffee pot before noticing that the fire was back up and the pot was hot. Bodie must've got up early, then, and gone back to sleep again. Feeling a touch more charitable toward him for that, Ray grabbed for the tin cup and poured some coffee out. Not even instant, and it looked and tasted fresh enough. Good enough to spit with, at least.

Taking another gulp of coffee to swallow down, and deciding he needed a lie down again, he re-entered the tent, bringing the pot with him for a refill, not sure he could stand another moment in the sun in this condition.

"Love some," Bodie said, sitting up on his sleeping bag and holding his hand out.

Ray, forgetting for a moment his charity, glared at Bodie, who blanched a little, some of the confidence going out of his face, his shoulders slumping slightly. It paid to have a withering stare, and Ray used it when necessary. Finally, Bodie seemed about to collapse under it, though perhaps it was the hangover more than his own power, and sighed out, "Was no joke, Ray."

Ray looked away at that and sighed himself, running a hand through his hair as he took another sip of coffee. Finally, both resigned and too tired any longer to browbeat Bodie, he handed the cup off, asking hopefully, "You can't've been serious?"

Bodie nodded and the glimmers of a smile returned, tracing around the edge of his mouth, "Serious."

"Right," Ray sat down and expelled a breath, trying to think, the coffee not working quickly enough to clear the cotton from his brainpan. "Serious," he said again, buying for time, "So you're..." he found himself unable to say it, but Bodie nodded as if he got it, so Ray continued, finding the next part strangely easier, "and you're sure I love you." He meant it to come out a question, but it sounded like a statement, and Bodie seemed to relax some more.

"Not just love. In love."

Studying Bodie's face, hearing no trace of sarkiness in Bodie's tone, he scowled, not altogether trusting yet that this wasn't all some twisted joke of Bodie's. "How'd you know it's not just platonic?" he asked, then belatedly realised he had no idea of the answer himself. Scared by that more than anything else, he shuddered slightly, then forced himself to relax. Course he knew the difference. Ann Holly'd been love, hadn't she? In love. Bodie was different. What he felt for Bodie was friendship, the warm matey-ness of two blokes who could drink down two bottles of scotch and not end up coming to blows over it. That was him and Bodie. Reassured, he could almost ignore Bodie's answer, but for his own unease, still present, still inexplicable.

"'fraid not," Bodie replied, sighing contentedly from behind a cloud of steaming coffee, again, no sign of sarkiness behind it.

Ray moaned and lay back down on the sleeping bag, with an effort keeping his eyes on the ceiling. His head still thudding dully, his eyes still gritty with sleep, he took a moment to consider the pain and to give Bodie a few more moments in which to confess to the joke and laugh this off.

But Bodie was showing no signs of recanting.

"You're really serious!"

"Deadly so," Bodie agreed.

The loud clap of thunder overhead that punctuated Bodie's answer like something out of a bad horror movie, but a second clap of it, closer by, was quite real, driving the spike of pain deeper into his head. A few seconds later, the tent was hit with a gust of wind and then a steady stream of rain started to fall on the tent, the patter of it very loud and very constant. With a crackle and pop, the campfire was doused out, and the wind blew smoke their way, filling the tent with the smell of wet wood and charcoal. Leaning over to tie down the tent flap to keep the rain out and the warmth in, Ray was glad, at least, that he'd thought to bring in the coffee pot and his kit, though all the rest of the cookware was getting royally soaked. At least the holdalls were safe. Small mercy, that. And they had a bit of food in, thanks to Bodie's near constant appetite.

With one hand on his still uneasy belly, Ray held the other out for the coffee cup. As Bodie passed the tin cup over, their hands brushed and, instead of letting the cup go, Bodie grasped it and his hand, holding them both steady as he refilled the cup. Ray glanced down, seeing his other hand was trembling slightly. Was probably just the hangover. But the heat that flowed up his hand where Bodie touched it was more than the effect of the warming tin, and the rolling of his stomach was more than the hangover.

And Bodie was watching him carefully, that slight smile on his face still.

He took several deep breaths, afraid for a moment that he was going to throw up, but the true nausea had passed, leaving behind only butterflies and that odd curling warmth in his belly, the heat of it rising to colour his face now, drawing sweat over his brow that he wiped off with his free hand, taking another drink of coffee. The bitter taste of it was reassuring.

"You gonna be sick?" Bodie asked.

He shook his head, not yet ready to speak.

"Here," Bodie held out a package of digestives, chocolate covered. "Might help settle you."

"Ta." Trust Bodie to think food'd help anything. But he took the box and pulled one out, then tasted it. The chocolate was unpleasant, reminding him of last night's indulgence, but the biscuit, once chewed up and swallowed, soon had his stomach more settled, as promised. He took out another and offered the package back to Bodie, who grabbed one and, resting an arm across his bent knees, popped the biscuit whole into his mouth, chewing loudly.

Despite himself, Ray grinned at the sight -- Bodie's cheeks were distended like a rodent's, a small trail of crumbs littering Bodie's shirt. He resisted the urge to lean over and brush him off, shocked not that the urge had come, but that he couldn't bring himself to do something he would've done any ordinary day.

Christ on a stick, he was in love with the berk!

Well, how else to explain it?

"Think you might have something, there," he said, cautiously, taking another sip of coffee and scalding his tongue on it. Better that it were tea instead. His nerves needed settling.

"Knew you'd come around," Bodie answered, talking with his mouth full.

Yeah, it must be love, because he suddenly had another urge -- to put his arms 'round the big berk. He resisted that too. His stomach was still uneasy, and besides, there was no point in giving in too quickly, was there? Bodie still had some explaining to do and he still wasn't at all sure how he felt about feeling what he felt.

In love. With Bodie? Loved him, no doubt; that was easy enough. Spent enough time with him by now, if he didn't love him, he'd've killed the stupid git. But want him? Sexually? Like that? Was crazy.

But there it was, unarguably there, desire as real and irrational as Bodie himself, munching away on his second biscuit and spilling more crumbs all down his vest.

At last, finding his voice again, Ray forced the words past the odd tightness of his throat, "Never answered my question."

"Eh? Which?"

"What the scars have to do with my being in love with you," he reminded, realising he'd just stated it as fact now. Bodie didn't seem to notice, blinking dumbly at him and asking, "Scars?"

"Here," he pointed at himself, pressing his palm flat over his heart and feeling it beating too fast.

"Those?" Bodie repeated, as if just now noticing them.

Christ, had he forgotten that as well? "Last night, you said -- "

"Oh, that!" Bodie interrupted, recognition seeming to dawn at last.

"Yeah, that. What does that have to do with us?" This time Bodie seemed to hear his use of "us," smiled at him broadly.

"Bodie," he added, because Bodie seemed distracted again, pulling out a third biscuit. He stole the package away from him before Bodie could get them all.

"Oh, yeah, right. The scars...." Bodie took a bite of his biscuit, then set it down beside him. "Well, nothing, as such. Was just noticing them last night. Not as bad as they were. C'n hardly see them, now, in fact. Healed up well."

Ray looked down and wondered if it was Bodie's eyes or his mind that was going. He hadn't forgotten Bodie's "Poor Ray, 's awful" of last night. But he remembered also Bodie saying he was "beautiful". Shaking his head, not sure now whether to be flattered, he gave up, watching as Bodie picked his biscuit up again, nonchalantly licking across the chocolate side of it, then taking another huge bite, finally finishing it off noisily, more crumbs littering his sleeping bag and the tent floor.

And his own memory of last night suddenly seemed suspect now. Perhaps things were a little fuzzy for Bodie as well. Probably best he left it that way. Shouldn't've even brought it up. But he had, so... might as well push onward. "So we going to do something about it, then?"

"'ave some more coffee?" Bodie held up the pot, as if that were an answer, then set it down again.

Was just like Bodie, stirring trouble, then letting things drop -- making him do all the bloody work. Bloody irritating, that was, when he wasn't even sure how he wanted this to come out, much less what the bloody hell bloody Bodie was thinking.

Disgust with Bodie soon became disgust with himself. After all, said something about what bloody taste he had. Confession aside, Bodie hardly seemed more interested in him than he was in those biscuits, did he.

Grumbling to himself, he decided he should find Ross and have his head examined again Monday next. Damn lot of nonsense, this was, and Bodie a berk besides -- never mind gay, straight, or bisexual. A git by any other name....

Building up a good head of steam now, Ray set the now empty cup hard to the floor, disappointed at the small dull sound it made hitting the tarp. He really wanted a door to slam, or another room to go to. Could always just walk to the car, leave Bodie to pick up the tent, but it was coming down hard enough to make that seem less than appealing. So they were trapped here, together, unless he wanted to get wet, which he didn't. And Bodie wasn't likely to want to leave, not with the rain coming down -- made of sugar, Bodie was, least when he was off the job.

So dammit, they were going to do something about this, even if Bodie'd gone all coy with him suddenly, offering a cuppa like they were having elevenses in front of the box instead of having a conversation that would -- well, never mind what it would. Muttering to himself now and cursing the rain for keeping him here, and Bodie for having the idea for this holiday -- and Cowley as well, for losing his mind and letting them have a whole bloody week off an it not even Christmas -- a relaxing time fishing and hiking, Bodie'd promised. Not so relaxing, was it? Could do just as well at home facing Cowley's bloody suicide missions -- Take an Operation Susie over this, he would. "Christ," he said aloud, finding his voice pleasantly loud in the tent, raising it further to be heard over the rain outside, "Enough's bloody well enough! More than enough, joke or not. Bloody ridiculous, this is. Bisexual my arse. Sooner fuck Cowley than -- "

"Yes," Bodie interrupted him, so quietly he wasn't sure Bodie'd said what he thought he'd heard. But he stopped and waited, watching as Bodie picked the cup up off the floor and poured out some coffee for himself, sipping it ever so delicately.

When Bodie didn't say anything more, he exploded, "For Christsake -- "

"I said yes," Bodie's calm voice interrupted him before he'd a chance to let loose the string of curses building up.

He shut his mouth then and waited as Bodie took another calm sip of coffee. Then Bodie finally spoke again, his voice soft but somehow making itself heard above the patter of rain, "Rather you didn't fuck Cowley, though if you're set on it, I suppose. . .but Cowley. A bit extreme just to make a point, innit?" Bodie grinned and quietly sipped at his coffee, then cleared his throat and set the cup down empty, standing up and fiddled with the oil lamp, carefully refilling it, then lighting it and rehanging in from the post.

Ignoring the bit about Cowley, his eyes on Bodie and his hands lighting the wick -- a bit unsteadily

-- took him five matches to get it lit properly -- Ray slowly took in the rest. Yes. Bodie'd said yes. Yes, Bodie wanted him. Fancied him. "Leaving it up to me, are you?"

Bodie stood beside the lamp then sat down again on his sleeping bag. "Best this way, I think."

"Well, don't strain yourself," the words came out automatically, reassuring him at least.

Bodie had no answer to that, apparently, and Ray didn't have anything more to say, so for a moment they listened to the rain patter down. Shutting everything else out of his head, the rain had a peaceful sound, pleasantly distracting now that his blasted headache was fading. The hum of rain was soothing and constant and made a certain amount of sense, giving him something else to focus on than Bodie. Too easy to forget there was a world outside the tent. Christ, yes, and what did Bodie expect once they returned to it?

No. Best to leave that. Things work out in any case, wouldn't they? Could work another job, security somewhere he'd not be a security risk. Bodie as well.

Had he decided then?

There'd been no flash of lightening. So they were safe enough here. Might as well wait until after the rain let up to decide whether to head back to London or find that b&b. Invite Mandy and her friend? Seemed impossible now, didn't it. Christ, thirty-five years and now this?

But the tent was small, not meant for staying in all day, unless you were sleeping, and Bodie'd start grousing if they spent too long in here. Tended to get restless unless they did something, and god knew where the cards were buried under this mess.

"Probably ought to at least test it," Ray said, finally, breaking the silence, feeling restless himself, the walls of the tent too close, Bodie especially -- too close.

"Test?" Bodie's voice was uncertain, his mouth pulled into a frown.

"Yeah," he said, warming to the idea as he considered it. Could prove Bodie was wrong. Settle the matter. Could laugh it off after. "Not sure you're right, after all. Could be platonic." He said it, sounding too hopeful to his own ears.

"Oh, it's not," Bodie said, sounding certain, though the frown remained. "But... if you like. A test, then." Bodie scooted forward a bit, not having to move far -- the tent was too small -- and he was already sitting nearly on Ray's sleeping bag. Ray forced himself not to edge back, knowing there was nowhere to go but the wall of the tent, any road, and besides, this was just Bodie, and besides....

Bodie had leaned in toward him, putting one warm hand on his bare shoulder, not quite pulling him closer. Pushing down his panic, Ray reached up and put his own hand up on Bodie's shoulder, mirroring the gesture, but taking it further, a test, pulling Bodie in closer, until Bodie was too close, filling his field of vision. He shut his eyes, then, and licked his lips, then regretted the action, not sure if a dry, chaste kiss wouldn't be a better start. For a test. Just a test. No prejudicing the matter as anything more than that. They'd laugh about this after.

But Bodie's mouth, touching his own, was slick as well, smooth and warm, and. . . .

Oh, god, it was good. Hot and nothing chaste about it, Bodie pressed against him, sucking his lips, kneading them with his teeth, but softly -- nibbling, suckling, and he opened up, unable to stop himself from letting Bodie's tongue in, meeting it with his own, until Bodie at last broke away from him, gasping.

Bodie tasted of chocolate, coffee, and mint.

"My god!" Bodie murmured, fervently.

"Yeah," he agreed.

"My god," Bodie whispered again, then smiled, a cat with yellow feathers having nothing on that grin.

Ray licked at his lips again, stunned and not at all pleased to be the canary, then touched his fingers to his own still sensitive mouth, tracing the place where Bodie had touched him as he'd done with the scars last night, wondering at the sensation, shock making him numb, but desire overwhelming that.

"Anything -- " he started, then tried again, clearing his throat until his voice sounded near-normal again. "Christ, anything else I should know about myself?"

Bodie's eyes widened dramatically, his brow raising to his fringe. "Dunno. Is there?"

"Fat lot you know," he said, about to get angry, then laughing as he remembered he'd said the same thing last night, not believing then, or maybe he did believe it, but couldn't accept it. Not then.

Ah, but now... desire, real as Bodie's body pressed against his.

Needing time, and space -- but there was none of that -- he looked down at the floor of the tent, making a study of the two navy blue sleeping bags and the green tent floor, all of it reassuringly normal, bog-standard camping gear, the same they'd used on their last fishing holiday, just a weekend last month. He needed to think, and made an effort to ignore Bodie's body and the questions it raised. But the blue denim brushing against his own leg was warm and very real, promising all sorts of answers, some to questions he had no intention of asking.

Trying not to panic -- he found he wasn't panicking, though maybe he should be -- he bit down on his lip, forcing himself to steady as he brought one hand down and rubbed across the top of Bodie's leg, feeling the hard muscle under his hand, warm, familiar, hearing Bodie's sharp intake of breath.

Ah, now, everything had changed, hadn't it? -- now, after that kiss -- was a bit late for panic -- couldn't very well deny it, could he? Not without being ten kinds of fool.

"Love you," Bodie's whisper sounded far away, though he could feel the warm air of it touch his skin, they were too close, not close enough yet.

"Hmm hmm," he answered, abstractly, now trying not to think, not yet allowing himself to look up and meet Bodie's gaze, though he knew Bodie was still staring at him, could feel it.

Yeah, it was one thing to just kiss Bodie -- just a kiss? Damn near stole his breath away -- but all right, what now? What did they do now?

Well, the obvious, he supposed.

He dropped his other hand, realising it was still resting on Bodie's shoulder. Bodie's hand had moved up to his neck, cupping the back of it, and he tipped his head back, leaning into the touch. Bodie squeezed gently, holding on, strong fingers tangled in his hair, too long again, frizzing horribly in the moist air. Feeling suddenly self-conscious meeting Bodie's eyes, he reached up and put his hand flat against Bodie's chest, wishing the shirt were gone, rubbing softly over the black cotton so he could feel the outline of Bodie's pectoral muscles. Strange to touch such a flat chest, the muscle harder than the soft flesh of a woman's breast, giving less under his fingers, but still a familiar outline, much like his own, the nipple becoming erect under his touch. "Take that off," he said, his voice back to a hoarse whisper again, and belatedly added, "Please," finding he sounded desperate, finding he was desperate.

Bodie's hand left off touching him and he watched, amazed, as Bodie lifted the vest up over his head, revealing the white, white skin. He'd seen it before, of course, but never with these eyes, with this hunger, this want, and he suddenly couldn't wait. Pushing Bodie onto his back, the vest still crumpled in his hand, Ray climbed on top of him, straddling Bodie's legs and leaning down so he could see and touch more, not sure where to start, only that he wanted this. This masculine -- male -- body.

"Bodie -- " he shuddered, the tingle of arousal arrowing straight to his groin, bringing his cock to attention.

"Anything, Ray," Bodie murmured back into his mouth, as if in answer to the question Ray had almost asked, but couldn't. He didn't even know what he wanted, just that he did want. Anything?

Not sure of where to start, much less where this would end, he kissed the soft exposed skin; the hair tracing down Bodie's pale belly was so soft against his lips, the skin itself as smooth as he'd imagined -- and yes, he had imagined it, hadn't he? He knew that he had, could admit that, finally.

Bodie groaned softly, stretching out on the floor as Ray slid backward, laying kisses down the path of hair until he reached the barrier of Bodie's jeans, then climbing off of him because he wanted Bodie undressed, naked. Emboldened by his own admission, even if it were only to himself, that he wanted Bodie (wanted a man -- not in spite of that, but maybe -- maybe -- because of that, because of the strength of him, the sameness of their bodies, the familiar shape of muscular chest and straight hips, and the curve of muscle there that ran triangular from Bodie's hips to his cock, framing it erect beneath Ray's hand as he unbuttoned and unzipped Bodie's jeans with his other), he thought again, thirty-five years!

And then slipping his hand inside, Bodie's hips lifting to help him, he tugged the jeans down over Bodie's hips, down his fair legs, dusted with black hair, one hand sliding behind and under Bodie to cup the soft swell of his arse, and God, he wanted that as well, would have that --

Gasping himself now, panting in short uneven bursts of air, he glanced up at Bodie's face, seeing his eyes screwed shut, and said again, "Bodie!"

Bodie's eyes opened and his tongue darted out to wet his lower lip, nervously -- Bodie was edgy, uncertain. Reassured by this, Ray continued, glad that Bodie made no move to take over, feeling surer now that he was in control and afraid it would be different if he were made to be passive, if Bodie were to handle him as he was now handling Bodie, so gently -- as if he were a woman -- no, not a woman, because he was not always so gentle with his lovers, but as he was with someone he cared about, wanting it slow, wanting it to last, to be good. To be fantastic.

Ah, yes, but he knew from the twitch and rise of his cock at the thought, that it might be good -- maybe even better, if, when, Bodie were to take over. Could be rough, then, Bodie's weight pressed down on top of him, doing this to him but roughly, definitely roughly, as this was Bodie. And he admitted to himself that he wanted to find out what it was like to have a man -- Bodie... but inside him.

Oh, god yes, and wasn't that something to imagine, the fantasy growing sharper, more defined as he tugged Bodie's y-fronts down over his hips, sliding them off, until Bodie was exposed entirely to him.

"Anything you like, sunshine." Bodie's whisper was rough-edged, strained, and Ray grinned suddenly, examining what Bodie offered, boldly letting his gaze travel from the dark fringed hair, over that familiar tense expression, down and down and down to Bodie's bare feet.

"Hmm... so much to like," watching Bodie's face as he said it, making sure Bodie could see he meant it.

But Bodie looked away from him, at the ceiling, and chuckled softly. "Ah, told you it was love, mate."

Ray shook his head, surprised at Bodie's sudden modesty. Bodie was beautiful, just to look at, so very handsome, he'd known that since the beginning, not blind. But he didn't know he felt good, as well, smooth and warm under Ray's hands, like he was made for touching.

More than touching. But at first he just let his hands roam, needing to take this slow, still feeling the strange shock of recognition as he stroked over shoulders -- too broad, but perfectly broad -- down arms, strongly muscled and large boned and pale with fine blue veins running along the insides from wrist to the soft hair under Bodie's arms. He traced over the sensitive skin inside Bodie's elbow and Bodie squirmed, then he moved down to the large wrists and blunt fingers which closed over his hands.

Then he moved back again, tugging his hands free from Bodie's damp clasp, wanting more. He flattened his palms down Bodie's front, tracing lightly over the flat chest, then pressing down against the soft, firm diaphragm that rose and fell with each breath. Bodie's eyes opened then closed again, and he shifted as if he wanted to watch but couldn't, until finally Ray figured out what was wrong and leaned up, reaching across him for Bodie's pillow, grasping it and folding it over, and tucking it under Bodie's head. Bodie, levered up now, could see him easily now, and watched him curiously, his eyes dark and wide. Seeming to relax, Bodie drew his arms up and under the pillow, resting that way as Ray continued to explore.

He'd left off with Bodie's chest, so he began there again, leaning down to lick each nipple, the smooth skin there puckering and firming under his tongue. He blew lightly on them each in turn, and goosebumps raised across the fair skin, Bodie sighing contentedly at his touch. Not so different, this, from a woman. Better, as he could guess -- felt he knew -- what Bodie would like, feeling his own nipples tighten as he worked the fine skin between his lips, nibbling with his teeth until Bodie began to squirm away from him, then toward him, caught between pain and pleasure -- that familiar as well.

His own cock was leaking now, and he took a calming breath, inhaling to unzip his own now strangling jeans, pushing them down and removing them carefully, not wanting to come yet. Settled again, he continued downward, kissing a path down Bodie's side, sliding past ribs, counting them with his tongue then moving up again because he wanted to follow the light dusting of hair as it darkened over Bodie's belly, still not much hair when compared to his own, but very nice, silky, growing crisper as there was more of it, spiralling downward.

He ran his hand in a circling pattern down over soft skin, shifting back a bit to get more comfortable, curling his legs under him and adjusting the sleeping bag to cushion his knees, then stopping for a second to rest his head against Bodie's belly, licking his belly button curiously, and watching as Bodie shuddered, then trembled beneath him.

"Like that, do you?" he asked, and Bodie didn't answer. So he did it again, licking and then nuzzling the soft skin, getting the same response and this time, doing it once more and hearing a low moan from Bodie, and an indrawn breath.

He rested his palms flat across Bodie's midsection, pausing to stare at the cock resting just below, waiting for him. God, even that was gorgeous, dark against Bodie's fair skin, larger and darker than his own, it was, as he'd expected, seeing Bodie often in his lax state, coming out of the showers. Ah, but never seeing him like this before. Bodie was so hard the crown was peeking out, his foreskin stretched and pulled back down, and a drop of precome glistened there. Yes, quite lovely, darkly flushed. Strange that it was, but maybe not so strange, as he'd always found pleasure in looking at himself in the glass, touching himself and watching himself come as his own hand worked its magic. Of course, his own belly was far flatter than Bodie's, concave when he lay back on his bed like this.

But this -- Bodie -- was much more pleasant, to look at and to touch, and he looked forward to lying full on top of Bodie and resting there, perhaps even sleeping on top of his solid body. Probably crush the air right out of Bodie -- he wasn't that light, after all, but maybe just for a short while, to stay there, all that strength subdued under him. He might even bring himself off that way, just pushing against Bodie, lush, that would be, or, better yet, to lie under him and thrust upwards against Bodie's smooth skin. . . .

His own cock hardening at the fantasy, he kneaded lightly the flesh beneath his hands, stopping when Bodie yelped as his nails dug in slightly.


"Should trim those claws."

"Said I was sorry," he snapped, then petted the spots he'd scratched, noticing the red lines were already fading. "But you do have a nice belly."

Bodie glanced down at him, then rolled his eyes and frowned, "Oh, ta very much, mate."

At Bodie's sharp tone he looked up and saw that Bodie was actually serious. "Can't take a compliment, can you?"

"Compliment?" Bodie blinked up at him, "What -- you serious?"

"No, course I'm not serious, you dumb crud. Think I'd say it if I were serious? Always compliment what I hate most about someone. Should see me when I'm really turned off. Blush to hear it, you would. Regular torrent of praise pours out." He knew from Bodie's dark expression that he'd gone too far, but his arousal had so quickly flared to irritation as he was hit with just exactly who this was, his berk of a partner, a right idiot at times.

Then softer, because Bodie was frowning still, he added, "Course I'm serious. Daft sod," and he smiled because Bodie was just so damned attractive, even frowning, those thin lips pressed into a tight line that made his nose seem all the more regal, somehow, his face hard and a little dangerous. Handsome and surprisingly sexy, was Bodie, laid out like a banquet for his pleasure. Could definitely get used to it, although the attitude would have to change.

"Oh. Well then...." Bodie nodded, seeming to get, finally, that he was serious, although Bodie's eyes still held some skepticism.

Not satisfied with that, Ray put his hands on his hips, looking again at what Bodie had to offer and shaking his head, amused and irritated in turn, but not sure whether it was at Bodie or himself. "Dunno about you and your theories, mate, but I'd say this proves it."

"Proves what?" Bodie asked softly, still mistrustful sounding.

Expelling a breath of frustration, he raised his voice, "Want your body, don't I? Yeah, well," he patted Bodie's tum lightly, and shook his head, getting control of his temper again, with some effort. "Must be bisexual after all," he added, finally, just in case Bodie was still operating under some illusion that this was a sacrifice born of love. Dumb romantic idea that was. Bisexual because he loved Bodie. Not bloody likely. Not a fool, he knew now he hadn't waited thirty-five years to want one man and not others, though he'd be damned if he did anything about the others. Was love, after all. Still, he snorted to himself, glancing downward and stroking his own hardness -- As if he'd do this if he didn't want Bodie. Leaving off his own pleasure, not wanting to come yet, he eyed the large cock still waiting for him, and nodded to himself. Damn straight he wanted it. Wanted it right up his arse, he did.

Then, realising he was scowling at it, he forced a smile and looked back up from Bodie's cock to Bodie's face, meeting dark blue eyes. Hard to stay angry, in any case, not with wanting Bodie as much as he did.

"Ah. Well," Bodie seemed to think for a minute, his brows drawing together with the strain of it. Then he brightened, a smile touching his lips, again. "Well, do continue."

"Ta. Think I will," Ray agreed, glad that was over with.

Pausing to lean in to kiss Bodie's lips again, he noticed suddenly how quiet it seemed. The rain outside was easing up, the steady sound of rain much lighter now, a soft patter, but still constant and showing no sign of ending. Not likely they'd go fishing today in any case. His plans were now changed. Bodie's mouth was warm and wet under his, insistent, and he held on for dear life, deciding the day at once. Sex with Bodie and then sleep again. Then perhaps a meal more substantial than biscuits. Then sex again, if Bodie was interested, as he expected he would be.

But first -- first, he had to get past this. Breaking the kiss, he looked down at the waiting cock and gathered his nerves together, feeling like a virgin again, but far less nave about himself. Was one thing to imagine being taken and liking it. Was just fantasy, however likely it was to actually happen -- and he hoped it would. But quite another, this, the real thing. Reality might not live up to fantasy.

But it already was, his imagination not nearly this detailed, this exciting. Stroking first with his hand, he felt Bodie's cock fit into his palm nicely, swelling slightly more at his touch, the heavy length warm and familiar, so much like his own, but different enough to be exciting. Focussing on his own experience -- no stranger to his own body's pleasures -- he pulled down Bodie's foreskin gently, using his other hand to trace a soft circle around the head, drawing a sharp gasp from Bodie, who shut his eyes and bit down on his lower lip, moaning. Torn between watching Bodie's face and the marvel of his cock, he finally decided to watch his cock, needing to see what he was doing there -- wanting to see it, besides, liking the soft wet-velvet feel in his hands, the damp shine of the head. Leaning over it, resting one hand for balance on Bodie's middle, he held on to the base and sucked just the cockhead into his mouth, lapping gently with his tongue against the slit.

His own cock stirred suddenly, and he moaned at the reciprocal tightening of his own balls, caressing Bodie and feeling as if he, too, were being touched. Like the fantasy he had when he was young of sucking himself off, this was unreal, fantastic, the slightly salty taste of Bodie much like his own taste, but more coppery, and he sucked harder on the tip, then dove down and took more of it into his mouth, bracing Bodie and not surprised at all as Bodie's hips raised up to push further into his mouth.

"Fuck!" Bodie cried out, and Ray grinned, or tried to, unable with the hard length of Bodie in his mouth, the vein pulsing against his tongue. Trusting Bodie not to gag him, he lifted his other hand and slid it downward to caress the soft sac, cupping Bodie's balls in his palm and stroking the damp skin the way he liked to be stroked, listening for Bodie's response, hearing the gasp as he moved his fingertip to separate Bodie's balls, tracing backward to the perineum. Bodie thrust up slightly, and Ray lifted his head a bit, relaxing as Bodie lowered his hips again. He continued sucking, breathing through his nose the musky male scent, sex and sweat mixing together, heady, raising his own arousal.

He felt the brush of Bodie's hand against his thigh, then Bodie whispered, "C'mere," softly, urging him to move, interrupting his efforts. He shifted around until they were sixty-nined, Bodie rolling onto his side. Ray tried to help but Bodie brushed his hands away as he pulled off Ray's pants, then laid a soft kiss over Ray's cock.

"Hmm," he gasped, approving, as Bodie wasted no time and took him inside that warm, wet mouth, sucking softly, steadily, his hands settling on Ray's arse to draw him closer.

Distracted by the pleasure for the moment, Ray could only shut his eyes and tremble as Bodie drew him in, Bodie's rough tongue scraping across his crown, down and up and around as if Bodie could feel it himself -- ah, yes, he remembered that Bodie could, and guiltily, Ray resumed his own exploration, drawing Bodie into his mouth again, resting one fingertip over Bodie's perineum then letting his finger follow it backward until he was pressing and stroking the opening there, wondering if he should --

But Bodie bent his knee, drawing his leg up and Ray let his finger test the muscle, uncertain. He'd never actually had the nerve to do this to himself, and now felt stupid for it. Thirty-five years was an awful long time to put off trying it, but it'd always seemed so... queer. Well, it was and it wasn't. As was he, apparently.

Raising his head off of Bodie, he licked Bodie's cock once more and then put his own finger into his mouth to wet it, shuddering in pleasure at even that, pausing for a moment to savour the strange erotic feeling of licking his own fingertip, swirling his tongue over it while Bodie's mouth did the same action to his cockhead.

His finger thoroughly wet now, he lowered his mouth again to suck Bodie's cock back in, then pressed his slick fingertip against Bodie's arsehole, pushing in and finding little resistance there as Bodie silently moaned over him, the sound a vibration around his cock.

Christ, he was going to come if Bodie did that again. Well, he would have to make Bodie moan again. Easy enough.

Working his fingertip in, still thrumming with his own arousal, on the edge now, he stroked into the hot channel, reassured when Bodie didn't wriggle away, instead pushing back onto his finger, pulling partly out of Ray's mouth so that he held only the tip of Bodie's cock inside, feeling the pulsing vein pulse harder against his tongue. Then Bodie was thrusting up suddenly as Ray's fingertip brushed across a strange raised spot inside Bodie, then brushed it again. Bodie moaned, this time long and ending in a hot sighing breath that seemed to burn across Ray's nerves. Then Bodie was coming in his mouth, spilling out before he could properly swallow it all, and he let himself go, unable to stop it, falling into orgasm as Bodie's hands clenched his arse hard, brutally drawing him in close, and then Bodie was swallowing him, deep into Bodie's throat, impossibly deep, impossibly tight.

It seemed to last forever, but it was only a few seconds, the flash-bright pleasure that pulled a moan from him as well, then gasps fading to aftershocks that wracked his body as Bodie continued to suck on his now limp cock, the sensation of Bodie's tongue swathing over his tender skin too much, wonderful, something no woman had ever done, continuing to suck on him this long after, until it was a near pain, but still -- still -- pleasure. Pleasure.

Finally, he had to pull away, not wanting to let go of Bodie's cock, so right in his mouth. Lifting his mouth up and off Bodie, he eased his finger out carefully, hearing Bodie's gasping breath as he stroked the tender opening again, wonderingly.

His knees were weak, but he forced himself up, climbing around till he was face to face again with Bodie, and then sliding to lay his head across Bodie's outstretched arm, kissing his face, too exhausted for proper aim and feeling the odd coarse bristle of Bodie's beard rasp across his mouth.


"Hmm. Ray."

"That was. . . ."

"Yeah," Bodie agreed.

"Was good," he added, taking a deep breath and kissing Bodie's chin, this time purposefully enjoying the way the stubble tickled his tongue, overstimulated his lips.

"God, it was," Bodie sighed.

"Found religion, 'ave you?" he grinned, feeling some strength returning, finally.

"Ah, no. Found you." Bodie's arm drew 'round him and pulled him closer, until he was smashed up against Bodie's neck, fitted well to him.

Definitely a teddy-bear. And so bleedin' romantic. He'd never have guessed that, though he couldn't argue with it. Satisfied and drained, he let his eyes fall closed, listening to the rain -- still falling steadily -- and the soft congested chuff of Bodie breathing, warm gusts of air stirring his hair across his sweaty face.

The indelicate yawn and the stretch that pushed him to the floor woke Ray suddenly, and he blinked, remembering.

Bodie stretched again and then sat up, pulling the other sleeping bag over himself as Ray rubbed away the remains of sleep from his eyes. "'Issit morning?"

"Was morning hours ago, sunshine. Afternoon now."

"What, you being coy again?" he asked, forcing his eyes open and noticing that Bodie'd covered up all that skin again, only bits of him peeking out from under the sleeping bag.

Bodie glared at him but smiled slightly, "Not coy. 'm cold's all."

"Right. Caught a chill, have you?" The tent was still warm, the storm kept outside, though it had cooled a few degrees since the rain had started. Not ready to sit up but feeling kinks in his back, he stretched his own arms over his head. Arching his back up, he thrust his hips up as provocatively as possible while tsk-tsking at Bodie's modesty, knowing even as he closed his eyes with the pleasure of a good stretch that Bodie was watching him work the kinks out. Opening his eyes again and grinning at Bodie's modestly, he offered, "Very disappointing." Bodie frowned, and he sighed, shaking his head in exaggerated disappointment, tugging at the end of Bodie's wrap and finding Bodie was holding on tightly. "And here I'd thought you might've turned into a raving exhibitionist -- "

"Not bloody likely," Bodie interrupted, but Ray ploughed on.

" -- turning queer as you 'ave. Who knows what might happen. Be doing stage shows next."

"Told you, didn't turn anything -- always was queer -- "

Ray groaned in advance, catching Bodie's smug grin and seeing the punchline coming miles away: "Not to mention tall, dark, beautiful and engagingly modest."

"Not to mention is right. Strangely uptight is more like it. But as for the rest. . ." he conceded, eyed Bodie speculatively and still finding it a bit strange to look at him as a sexual object -- strange, but exciting, like finding a new use for something you'd always had use for but couldn't ever justify keeping -- the cost always too high. But now necessary.

"Ta very much, I think." And then Bodie made a show of pulling the sleeping bag around his shoulders and exposing his privates with a flourish as if to prove it was merely the cold air he was protecting against. "Any road, Raymond, modesty's a virtue. Projecting's what I think. You're the exhibitionist here, always prancing about half-naked, thrusting your hips out like a tart."

Ray blinked as Bodie threw his words back at him. Projecting? A tart? Was a big difference between exhibitionism and healthy self-confidence, even if Bodie was too uptight to see it. But still mostly post-coitally pleased, he didn't take it personally, especially as Bodie'd been watching him so closely.

Still, wouldn't do not to respond in kind, so, continuing the argument he still didn't find settled yet, he asked, "Still think -- yeah, yeah, don't strain meself - " he grinned, getting there before Bodie'd opened his mouth, he finished, "Bent you may be, but at both ends, I'd say."

And for emphasis, he took a good long look at both ends and smiled. Bodie opened his mouth again to object but Ray covered it quickly with a hand, muffling his objection. "You fuck women."

Bodie bit down, suddenly, catching the skin of Ray's palm, and he pulled his hand back with a yell.

"Right now -- jus' so we're clear -- I fuck only you," and Bodie grinned, "That make me a Ray-sexual, you think?"

Touched at meaning behind the words, Ray answered lightly, "That makes you a right nutter, I think."

"Don't strain yourself," Bodie grinned, looking far too smug at the recycled joke, seeming to get that the mood needed lightening. No sense getting sentimental all of a sudden.

"Strain you, more like."

The dart was well aimed as Bodie was currently rubbing a sore spot on his back. Ray had to admit that a tent floor was a hard place to fuck, although he'd willingly do it again.

Bodie seemed to agree on that, his eyes growing dark as he set aside the sleeping bag and, apparently, his modesty, pinning Ray under him in a not too ungraceful move. Ray struggled just a bit, thrusting upward, and Bodie retaliated, beginning to bite, not hard, but enough to do more than tickle, leaving red marks up and across Ray's chest until he finally settled at Ray's throat, sucking hard enough and in one spot to draw blood, or at the very least an ugly bruise.

Ray yelled as Bodie turned from mere sucking to biting again, this time drawing blood -- he was sure of it. "Gerroff! Bloody perv!"

Bodie drew back and grinned, unrepentant, still sitting heavily on him. "Perv? You've wounded me, sunshine."

Unable to hold back the laughter at Bodie's expression, he let himself go, holding his belly and chuckling. Bodie and that idiotically-pleased-with-himself look, his hands on his hips, his cock erect and jutting out proudly, looked huge from Ray's vantage point. But, mirth overcoming arousal, he managed to gasp, "Oh, yeah -- I wound you. Bloody bent vampire."

Bodie laughed, a low deep sound, and slid further down over Ray's hips so that Ray's cock slid up against Bodie's arse. But before he could react, Bodie was leaning forward, nipping at him again, grabbing and pinning his hands up by his ears and wetly licking at his neck, a not unpleasant sensation.

"Hungry, are you? Mebbe we should 'ave breakfast first."

"'Hmm. Rather have you. Drain you dry, petal."

"Oi, that's flower to you," Ray answered, too turned on to take offense.

Bodie grinned. "Ah, buttercup, don't tempt me."

He could've easily bucked Bodie off, his hold vulnerable and Bodie's centre of gravity in the wrong place to truly keep him there, but instead he relaxed his limbs and licked his lips, trying to convey as much temptation as he could without actually coming out and saying, "Take me" like some dozy heroine out of a bloody romance novel.

One thing to want to be taken -- quite another to have to ask for it. Be taking buttercup a bit far. Although, all camping aside, it felt too good, natural, though he knew it was unnatural, to want Bodie as he did. And yet he still felt like much the same person -- was the same person -- though maybe that was just because Bodie still felt like the same old Bodie. Put to new use, now, but still Bodie, even naked and on top of him.

He thrust up again, urgent to relay the message to Bodie and Bodie readjusted his position, stretching out over him, his eyes dilated, his expression intense, full of heat now, as if he knew what Ray wanted, and wouldn't make him ask for it. Guarding his back as always, Ray thought, feeling a bit wicked, but turned on, on heat with it, shuddering with anticipation at the thought of Bodie reading his mind as he seemed to in the field, knowing what he wanted before he did -- Bodie inside of him, mind and body. Especially body.

Strange, that he was so sure it would be good, not knowing why. Should make him nervous. Should make him less a man, but it didn't. Not even to think of it. And, remembering Bodie's reaction to just the one finger inside him, he was sure of it -- though not why on earth he'd want this. But to be under Bodie, to have Bodie inside him -- he did want it, and far more than he wanted to top Bodie, to thrust up inside of his partner as he would -- and had -- inside a woman. Not that the idea of taking Bodie didn't have its own appeal, but it wasn't what was now making him melt inside, his cock hardening further at the thought of being opened up by Bodie, filled by him. Just did -- turned him on like mad, for whatever reason. Being fucked. Desire was a strange thing. To want something you'd never had, enough to nearly come just from thinking of it.

Shifting slightly, he spread his legs and Bodie's grip tightened on his pinned wrists as he lost his balance, his body falling between Ray's legs, Bodie's cock now perfectly positioned against his own, the right position to bring them both off with a bit of frottage, if he just thrust up as he'd imagined doing, against that soft-hard body. Would be good. But later. Now, he wanted Bodie inside him, and so he shifted again, this time spreading his legs farther and shifting, bending his knees and raising his legs to wrap them around Bodie's back so that Bodie's cock was lined up to enter him, the snub head of it pressing against him, drawing a gasp out of him and a shudder, as it was really going to happen now.

"Ray!" Bodie exclaimed, looking a bit shocked, then recovering, "Thought you were a blushing virgin," obviously not having read his mind after all.

"Hmm. Thought I was a tart, Bodie. Make up yer mind what -- "

But Bodie pressed forward, Bodie's cock sliding against him, sliding up against his arse, and he gasped again, suddenly thinking that this wouldn't work at all. Bodie was going to push inside of him now, but it wasn't going to work! Bodie had to know -- well, of course he knew to use lubricant. Bodie had experience. Implied as much, any road.

Still, didn't pay to take chances. "Bodie -- need something."

Bodie raised one arched eyebrow but rolled off him, "Don't start without me. Got stuff somewhere."

After feeling around for a bit, giving Ray a nice view of his bare arse, and a moment to decide that yes, he did want this, Bodie returned triumphant, holding up a pink bottle of lotion, brought along as Bodie had "very delicate skin." Delicate skin, indeed.

"Open sesame, angelfish. Got something for you," Bodie's voice was low, already thick with desire, but his eyes were bright, laughing as he slicked lotion on his cock, making it shine, then raised Ray's legs up and positioned them over Bodie's shoulders, the position exposed, awkward but not uncomfortable. Probably looked bloody ridiculous, though Bodie didn't seem to be think so, looking down at him with a startled look, as if he wasn't sure what to do next.

But then one lotion-slick finger rubbed over his arsehole, and he was unable to think any more of where he was or how it looked, focussing only on how it felt to be touched there, intimate, strange, and hot as hell.

And Bodie's expression was hot as well, the way his eyes widened, the way the tip of his tongue touched the corner of his mouth as he concentrated. Was almost enough to make it easy, seeing that handsome face go all soft and worried. "Easy, now," Bodie whispered, his voice gentle, and Ray nodded, agreeing. Would be easy, with Bodie.

"Easy.... Flat on your back like this is a good look for you, schweetheart," Bodie's worst Bogart impression was below par, even for him, but Ray knew Bodie was trying to help him relax, not knowing he already was. Then the slick finger slipped inside of him, surprising him. He saw Bodie blink and then grin as he met less resistance than he'd expected and soon a second finger joined the first and Ray let out a moaning gasp at the sudden increased pressure.

"Nice. Very -- Oh!" Bodie's finger scraped against that spot inside of him and Ray shut his eyes and shuddered, his words lost in the sensation. So that was it. Bloody hell, that was intense. Fireworks going off inside him, complete with audio effects and lights behind his eyes.

Now how to make Bodie do it again. Forcing his eyes open again, he did his best to still look vulnerable -- sensing, and not minding, that the 'blushing virgin' bit was turning Bodie on -- but he couldn't recapture his early nervousness, feeling vaguely predatory instead, though hardly a tart. Strange to be on the bottom like this, and to feel so much in control of things.

But Bodie'd stopped, as if unsure, obviously not able to read his mind after all, or he'd be inside him already.

"Again -- Again, Bodie, dammit, do that -- "

And finally, Bodie did, his finger finding that spot again, but this time Ray was distracted by the sound of Bodie's laughter and the hoarsely whispered, "Pushy slut."

Strangely turned on by the words, still he feigned insult, finding his arousal tinged with amusement, at himself for once again he was taken with the image they presented, him on his back impaled on Bodie's hand, ordering Bodie about like an air traffic controller. Higher, lower, and again. Not very in character for a blushing virgin, but he was hardly that. Too old by half to pull that off, even as he camped, fluttering his lashes madly, "Well, I never!"

Bodie grinned, catching the meaning though his tone had been a bit off, hoarse with tension and need. Making a move to pull out of him, Bodie asked, "Sure you want to?"

It took a minute to find the words as Bodie's hand just as suddenly thrust back into him, stroking again that spot, setting off the blazes inside. "Damn right I want to." And then, when the shudders lessened, and because Bodie needed to hear it, but not because he was at all worried, he added, "Jus' take it slow."

Bodie raised an eyebrow at him, feigning injury and offense, "Oi, mate, what do I look like, an amateur?"

And that struck Ray as a very funny thing for Bodie to say with two fingers up his partner's arse, and he smirked, then laughed outright, all the remaining tension going out of him as he considered a proper answer to that. Bodie looked puzzled for a moment, but he couldn't explain that with each spasm of laughter, his muscles were tightening around Bodie's fingers, and the hard pleasure that wrought was intense, wonderful, almost better than anything else, robbing him of speech, not to mention air, for a moment. But finally, pride won out over pleasure and he relaxed again. "Dunno, mate -- You look like a -- professional to me." He paused for breath and then grinned, "but then again, I always took you for straight."

Bodie, having set himself up, managed to scowl quite charmingly as he made a show of considering all that Ray might've meant by "professional". Then he grinned wickedly and drew his fingers again over that blessed spot, and again, and again until Ray could only shiver, helpless with pleasure, opening up under Bodie's hand, stunned and fighting not to let go before Bodie was inside of him.

Very on edge, and about ready to come if Bodie didn't get on with it, Ray hissed, "Now, damn you," and Bodie lifted his hips up higher, sliding his arse up and onto Bodie's lap and slowly, excruciatingly, Ray felt Bodie enter him. He expelled a breath slowly, concentrating on the stretching of his own body around Bodie's cock, so much more than his fingers'd been, trying to breathe normally as Bodie penetrated him. It hurt, and he gasped, but the sensation seemed to steal his breath and he was left panting unevenly, going light-headed from lack of air and a near-punishing amount of desire thrumming through him.

Bodie stopped his movement and Ray shook his head, barely able to speak. "No. Don't stop. More. Fuck!"

"Ray -- "

"Now -- fuck - Bo-die -- !"

Ray appreciated Bodie's gentleness but the pain was all but gone and the pressure inside him was near-overwhelming. He focussed on it, wishing he could feel more, even greedy for it, liking the aching fullness there, the feeling of being laid open, knowing Bodie was joined up with him there.

"Move, damn you," he ordered, getting used to it now and Bodie laughed, a short harsh sound, and pushed forward hard, pressing further, then all the way into Ray, until his balls were slapping against Ray's arse, Bodie's body now locked tightly to him.

"Oh, there! Fuck, yes. Again!" he shouted, as Bodie'd found that spot, thrusting against it, harder than just his fingers pressing inside, the pressure more constant than the brush of Bodie's fingertips had been. He cried out, feeling the pressure building up inside him, the flare of it bursting out of him in a hot pulse, again and again and again, the wet plash of it spurting out hot onto his belly, and he forced his eyes open, seeing Bodie's expression harden as Bodie thrust again, bruising Ray's hips as he pulled him closer. Then Ray could feel the pulsing of Bodie inside him, and he counted the pulses, then lost count, watching Bodie's face, seeing the pleasure there, holding him still, so very still, until Bodie sighed suddenly, and Ray felt him softening.

Blinking dazedly, Bodie helped him slide down, pulling out of him gently and then crawling down to collapse beside him on his belly.

Panting, still, Bodie rolled over and whispered near his ear, "Always took me for straight, did you?"

Ray managed to nod, turning his head to look at Bodie, finding he had to back up slightly to see him and not go cross-eyed. "Yeah, silly me."

Bodie grinned in answer, resting a heavy hand on Ray's belly and rubbing the come into him, then stopping suddenly, as he seemed to realise what he was doing.

"Feels nice," Ray whispered, encouraging. Felt fantastic, actually, his skin still sensitive all over, and Bodie's hand warm on him.

Bodie nodded and resumed the circling motion of his hand, and for a few moments, they lay there. But finally, Ray couldn't resist the taunt, needing the reassurance that this was still possible. "Hmm. Bodie?"

"Yeah?" Bodie whispered, not stopping his hand's movements, though his hand was now dragging through come that was drying and starting to make Ray itch. He squirmed beneath the hand, then finally batted it away, picking it up and placing it flat against his chest, where Bodie resumed his circling movements.

"Been thinking --" he paused, waiting to see if Bodie'd pick it up.

"Hurt yourself, you will."

Smiling, pleased at the normality of that, he continued without comment, "Thinking you really are bisexual," and before Bodie could argue, he added, "'s not such a bad thing to be, is it?"

"Stubborn -- " Bodie started, then sighed, seeming to get that he was not really talking about himself anymore. "Ah well, sure, six of one...."

"Half dozen of the other," Ray finished for him.

"Hmm. Take me as you will then."

Ray grinned and Bodie blinked as he heard himself, then scowled sleepily, drawing Ray close against his sweaty body, "Oh, I shall, love. First have a bit of kip, though. You've worn me out, you have."

"Told you camping's hard work," Bodie mumbled, half-asleep already. "Should've got a b&b. Cheap bastard."

Ray couldn't bring himself to answer, not even to agree, caught up in a pleasant near-doze. Later, they could pack it in. Would be nice to cuddle up in a big soft bed and muss up a set of good crisp sheets. Might be worth the money at that. But later. Sleep now. Need rest if he was to take Bodie up on his offer. Take him as he will.

Not that he was uncomfortable with being a bottom. Not much worse than finding out you wanted a man -- and Bodie, at that. Still seemed like the worst part of the deal. Was also the best part. In love with William Andrew Philip Bodie. Mixed feelings on that he'd still have to sort out. Cowley had a lot to answer for. Lot to be thanked for. Decide which after they faced him.

Set that aside, though. No sense borrowing trouble, as Cowley'd find them soon enough.

Better to think of taking Bodie. Lot to recommend the idea. Be worth the experiment, just to see what it's like. No sense committing himself so early in the relationship.

Enough that he'd committed himself to the relationship. With Bodie. He snorted, then shook his head, amused.

"Love you," he whispered, needing to say it out loud, realising he hadn't yet said it. The words were muffled against Bodie's neck, but Bodie seemed to hear him, pulling him tighter against his warm body, nearly squeezing the air out of him.

The rain was still coming down, a regular bloody Ark, the tent would be -- and for a moment, his Catholic upbringing suggested that perhaps God was not best pleased with events. But then his sense won out as Bodie dropped a warm, open-mouthed kiss on his forehead and whispered, "Tha's in love, Doyle."

He blinked, confused, then realised. The poor dozy bastard was still arguing -- and in his sleep, no less. Ray laughed, then forced it down at once as he recognized the sound as not so much humour but hysteria, as everything seemed to hit him at once, delayed shock, and all of it too much.

Ah, bloody hell! He gasped, trying to find the air to breathe, finding nothing but a growing swell of panic.

With no distraction of desire or Bodie talking at him, with no backchat to make it seem the least bit normal, not even a draught of scotch to loosen the tongue -- nothing but the rain still pouring down -- his chest tightened, a feeling he mistook for a heart attack, then laughed at, realising at once it was nothing so dramatic. Too healthy for that, he was. His heart was just fine, they'd assured him again and again of that. Live another seventy years if you stay out of harm's way. So the heart was fine, though not so fine, as he'd fallen in love with Bodie, hard enough to ache with it. Harm's way, though not what they'd imagined, no bullet quite as dangerous as this.

And Bodie stirred beside him, but thankfully didn't wake, so he held tight to the solid body beside him until the wave of anxiety seemed to pass through him and leave him finally, weak and unsteady, but still holding onto Bodie, who was solid enough to have somehow survived this himself once. Said as much, didn't he? Tried drinking, but it didn't help.

Still, not convinced and needing something, but unable to bring himself to wake Bodie again -- not ready yet to share this -- he eased out of Bodie's embrace and found the rest of the scotch, three bottles more. He grimaced at the thought, knowing he didn't need all that. Just the one would do. And just enough to let him sleep. Uncapping it quietly, he took a draught straight from the bottle and shuddered as the smooth fire of it slid down his throat.

Yeah, sometimes Bodie was wrong. Helped a bit, that did. He looked over at Bodie, who was naked and curled up on his side, so pale and fine against the dark sleeping bag. He drew the other bag up and over him, unzipping it slowly, trying not to wake him, but Bodie seemed well out of it, and didn't move as he draped the bag over him, covering him up gently, tucking him in one handed, the other still gripping tightly to the bottle of scotch -- the other lifeline.

Taking another swallow of scotch, he remembered when it'd got back to him that Bodie thought he'd blamed himself for the invention of gunpowder. Nonsense, that was. Though he now wondered how much of this he was responsible for. A man didn't reach thirty-five and have no idea what he wanted without lying to himself. Would he have figured it out, if Bodie hadn't've pushed it?

Was that even important? Fact was, Bodie did push it. Pointless to imagine what he'd do without Bodie. Never going to think of that. Never going to happen, was it. No, not as long as he was there. Get out of the mob if it came to it.

Christ, so many decisions, so much to think about. And did it all have to be done now? The voice of reason, strangely sounding like Bodie's voice, reached him finally. No, it certainly did not. Bodie'd want to have his say in more than half of it anyroad. Best to wait then, save up his strength for arguing with Bodie over the job, and everything else.

Taking a last drink of scotch, he capped the bottle and set it aside, drawing the sleeping bag and sliding back in beside Bodie, who stirred again, one arm coming out to lay heavily across him, a comforting weight there, holding him in place. Lacing his fingers with Bodie's sleep-warm hands, he sighed, wishing now that Bodie were awake, needing to talk.

Ah well. Could wait till later to tell Bodie he'd won that round. He was in love, no doubt of that. Funny how the sex part was easier to accept. But love -- drowning in it, the weight of it settling around him as Bodie's own body did, curling warmly into his limbs, weighing them like an anchor -- he held on, letting it pull at him, sleep and warmth and love all mixed up into one thing, impossible to fight even if he'd wanted to.

Bodie's wet snuffles beside him were reassuring, and he drew closer against Bodie's sweat-damp body, relaxing into it, finally settling into something like peace at the thought that he was, at least -- at last -- not alone. No, nevermore alone. And it was much as he'd heard it would be, a calm and pleasant feeling, drowning so very much like sinking into sleep, easy, easy, so easy, once you gave in and started to take the deep breaths, letting it inside.

-- THE END --

Originally published in Motet Opus 3 in B and D, Keynote Press, October 1999

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