Trip Through Your Wire




by
Garnet









"You, I'm waiting for you,
You, you set my desire,
I trip through your wires."
    --U2



I shoulda known it wouldn't last. Nothing good ever does.

'Course, some might say it never should have started either. Cowley, for one. We had to tell him, you see. Both because it was our duty to do so, and because... well, the sly old bastard deserved it. He deserved to know what had become of his number one team. The one he had put together, knowing it would either be the best idea he ever had, or his absolute worst. That we would either kill each other or...

Get along bloody famously.

Not that it wasn't hard work. Not that we didn't about tear each other's heads off sometimes. But when it worked, it worked. And, after a while, we settled into each other and it was better than that even. It was magic or as near enough as makes no difference.

That first year, we bickered.

The second year, we teased.

The third year. Yeah, the third year. Well, there you go.

It had been a bloody awful month. A group had splintered off from the main branch of the IRA and was starting up the troubles again, only this time on our home soil. And they seemed to have a mad genius for finding the best times and places to leave their explosive little gifts where they would be guaranteed to do the most damage, to hurt the most innocent people. Plus, they didn't just leave it at that. They would call in their threats and name not just one place, but three or four, sending us and the Met and the bomb squad scurrying over half the city trying to find the real bomb. Not just the packages that were tricked up to look like one.

Not that you knew that till you got up close. Close enough to get blown up if it turned out to be the real deal. And you never knew if they were going to change the equation on you --leave not just one real one and a couple of dummies, but maybe all real ones, this time. Meaning, we couldn't afford to get lax, to take anything for a given.

After that first few times, the Cow had Bodie and me, along with another couple of teams, trying to find their hideout pretty much 24/7. But this crew kept on the move constantly and always seemed to be leaving us eating their dust. Left us a few pretty packages in their wake as well. Booby-traps and such. One of which almost took Bodie's right hand off, and it was only blind luck that saved me from taking a tumble at some ratty old house outside Brixton that mighta broken my neck. Blind luck and Bodie's quick reach. Tore my jacket up but good, though. One of the other teams didn't fare nearly as well that same day --Michaels ended up in hospital with the docs none too sure he'd ever gain his sight back. And his partner did lose a couple of fingers.

We were all deadly careful, after that, but it took its toll. By the end of the fourth week, we were all knackered, on-edge, jumping at shadows. Me and Bodie both, though Bodie would never admit to it. To being anything other than perfect.

Something about the berk that I've both admired and resented. Sometimes at the same damn time.

Then we got a break. Or Jax did, anyway. Some old grass of his that worked at a pub called him up and gave us a tip that the ones we were looking for might be holed up below ground at some abandoned warehouse down by the docks. That we'd have to move fast, though, since he thought they were about to break camp and move on again.

Bodie about scared the living shit outta me getting us down there. I said nothing, though --I could see the look on his face and that scared me more. Those blue eyes of his were grim as all get out. His face withdrawn; closed down. The same look he'd get when Africa got brought up or, even worse, the time he put in over in Ireland. He had been handling this case fairly well until then considering, but I think that now that we were finally so close to nabbing the bastards, it was all coming back up and staring him right in the face.

Reminding him of all the dead children he'd seen in Ireland. Those that he'd seen these last few weeks.

Bothered me, too. But then I had been given an outlet for it; I had railed on and on at Bodie about the unfairness of it all, about how much it sickened me, and he had let me. Night after night and day after day. Taking it. Never turning away. Saying just the right thing and keeping shut the rest of the time. Whatever I needed, or he thought I needed. And if I hadn't been so bloody furious myself, so frustrated, I should have noticed how unlike him that really was. That he should have long ago lost his own temper, told me in no uncertain terms that I wasn't the only one suffering around here, and to just damn well shut up about it and do my job like the rest of them.

But, no, all I knew was that I was hurting. I should have known that he was hurting, too. Hurting so bad he couldn't even talk about it, not even to me. His best mate.

Hurting bad enough that it was driving him a bit mad.

It'd happened before. I shoulda seen it. Shoulda recognized the signs. But I didn't and so what ended up happening is far more my fault than my partner's.

We didn't take any of 'em alive.

'Course, part of that was their choice. They refused to surrender. But part of it was Bodie. I don't know if he would have taken them in alive even if they had thrown down their weapons. His eyes had been cold, flat, and dangerous, as we'd made our way through the warehouse and down the narrow set of stairs, we found hidden behind a false wall in the old office. After which, we worked our way through the series of rooms below --thick with the smell of rot and fish, the floor slick, and the walls wet with rising damp --all of them faced with rough hewn stone, probably the foundation of some building that vastly outdated the warehouse overhead. Small dark rooms and twisting corridors with just a few naked bulbs hanging on wires here and there.

We had gone in without waiting for the other teams to get there. Disobeying the letter, if not the spirit, of Cowley's orders. Knowing if we let them get away again, there would be a greater hell to pay than that. Besides, Murph and Tomlinson hadn't been more than five minutes behind us.

'Course, five minutes can be a lifetime. Especially when two blokes with machine guns suddenly pop outta the shadows and start slinging lead at you.

Bodie and I dove for cover in the same instant, but the ricochets off those old stone walls was nearly as dangerous as the bullets they were spraying around. Not that the people we were after seemed over concerned about getting out of there alive. Just about taking us with 'em.

Still I thought the hand grenade that rolled down towards us at the last minute was a bit much.

Not that Bodie and I didn't use it to our own advantage.

Before the dust had even settled, he'd taken out the man with the machine gun and I'd hit the man who'd tossed the grenade in the first place. Got a sliver of stone in the left arm for my trouble, but it hadn't felt like much of anything at the time. Hadn't even noticed the blood, at least not until we were down the rest of that corridor and out into the room beyond. And then there'd been no time for it. Not with three more Irish boys to contend with, ones who were even more eager to make our acquaintance.

We exchanged several volleys of love notes --our side angling for a better position and their side digging in behind a half-fallen wall --before I heard the rest of our mob heading in. And they musta heard 'em too, 'cause one of the bad guys scurried back and reached for something on the wall behind him. Yanked it down hard. And then there was an explosion overhead --not very big, but dazzling in effect as the roof suddenly started coming down on us. Or sodding great hunks of it, anyway.

Something heavy clipped me on the head and I went down. Lost my gun and nearly lost more than that. A couple more inches to the left and it would have been all over. As it was, I was pinned down by this weight on my back, so solid I could hardly breathe, let alone get a word out. But I remembered hearing Bodie yelling my name at that point. Musta been him, 'cause no else would have sounded like that --all clipped and abrupt and angry, like it was my fault the roof had half landed on my head.

I tried to answer, but the effort just made me dizzy, made me choke on swirling dust. But I fought it back as best I could, recognizing the blackness I was flirting with. If I passed out...

Didn't know it at the time, but all that was wiggling were me fingers. Not that Bodie could see even those, not from where he had ended up. Nah, all he could see was one leg and part of my arm. The rest of me was right buried under more rock and pieces of half-rotted wood and things from a couple hundred years ago that don't bear thinking about.

Not that I think Bodie was thinking at all after he yelled my name and got no answer. Moving, yeah. Reacting. Using up the last of his clip and laying in another, until all that was left was blood and broken bodies. I think the final count was that he'd shot two of them three times each and the last bloke --the one that just wouldn't lay down like he shoulda --five times total. Once in the shoulder. Once in each leg. Once in the chest and one last bullet right to the head. At close range. Wasn't much left afterward. Not nearly enough to I.D.

I think Cowley knew he'd gone over the top. Likely, he knew why. And it wasn't just the ghosts of all those dead children. It was me.

And though I was grateful to be alive, relieved that we'd gotten them all, shut down their operation, I was also a bit unnerved by what Bodie'd done when he thought I'd been done up. By the look on his face when they finally dug me out and I was still alive. He woulda gone with me to hospital, I think, if the Cow hadn't turned up. Took him under his wing. Cowley always seemed to know when my partner needed minding the most. Well, almost always.

They turned me loose the next afternoon and Bodie was there to greet me, to drive me home. They'd given me some hefty pain pills, but I wasn't much for taking them --made me woozy and woolly in the head and some might say I've enough of that already, thank you. Which meant I was in pain, but not copping to it. At least not in front of anybody; not my partner. Who knew anyway. Always did.

Anyway, he set me up on the couch and brought me my tea, and talked about the latest gossip from work --how the newest addition to the squad was going around boasting he had pulled some bird he claimed was some supermodel or some such --until he felt he'd got me settled. But then he didn't leave like usual. Instead, he wandered over to the window and stood there looking out. Likely not seeing what he was looking at, but looking all the same. His shoulders slumped a bit, not at all his normal posture. Like a weight was on his back.

And the sight of him standing there like that took my mind clean off the pain I was still in. Put me clean off my tea, as well.

"Thought you were dead," he said at last. His tone was toneless, emotionless.

I knew better.

"Nah," I replied; a soft tone to match his hard one. "Take more than that to make me kick off these climes, sunshine. After all, there's a good match on tonight."

Didn't even get a rise out of him. Though he did turn around to face me.

"You shoulda said somethin', Ray. Let me know. I..."He shook his head, his eyes abruptly bleak, his eyebrows knitted up. "I know it's part of the job and always there, always a risk... but, Christ..."

"I couldn't," I said, not able to take my own eyes off him. Off that too-pale face. "I... tried, Bodie. You know I tried."

"Yeah," he admitted, his gaze suddenly flickering away. "I know. It's just that... what with what happened last summer. It's close. Too damn close, Ray." He ran a hand around his neck, pressing inwards, as if to try and relieve tension. Or pain he didn't want to admit to either, same as me.

I'd come out the worst in the deal --excepting the Irish lads, a 'course--but Bodie'd taken quite a pounding as well. Mostly bruises and a few deep scratches, nothing that had required an overnight in hospital, but Cowley had given him the next coupla days off as well. Maybe the old man knew, not all the worst bruises were visible ones.

"C'mere," I said, not ordering him, but not far from it either. "Sit down before you fall down. I don't want to have to go pickin' up your pieces either."

Blue eyes caught on mine again, resistance flashing for a moment, then fading out nearly as quick as it had first appeared. He went and sat down in the chair opposite me, not stiff, but not relaxed either.

"Think I'd like that," he said, almost as if to himself.

"What?" I asked.

He didn't look at me. Instead, he looked at my coffee table as if it and my forgotten tea were the most fascinating things in the whole ruddy world.

"Goin' first," he said at last, just as I was about to ask again. "Not bein' the one... left behind. Would be bloody awful, that."

That got right up my nose, as much as it made me feel warm inside, made me feel... needed.

"Selfish a' you, innit?"

His head shot up at the sharpness of my tone. "Ray?"

"Think I'd like it any better? How often have you told me how I corner the market in the guilt department. Fuck, Bodie..."I shook my head, moderated my voice a little. "I don't know if I could handle bein'... if I could go on without havin' you as my partner."

He seemed to sag down into the chair, even as he looked away. Back at the window, he'd been gazing out of for so long. "You're stronger than you think, Ray," he said quietly. "Always have been."

Now it was my turn to look away--at the floor, at the walls, anywhere but at my partner. He didn't know and I hadn't wanted to tell him, not ever, but the secret suddenly wore heavy in my chest. It made those healed scars throb and pinch as if it had happened only yesterday, rather than nearly a year ago. Sometimes, it felt more like yesterday. Sometimes, I couldn't remember past that day.

It seems like Bodie had some of the same trouble.

"What if I'm not?" I said finally, and my eyes had come to rest on my collection of toy soldiers, one of the few things left from my old flat that I had arranged with Murphy to have taken to my new one. Except for my clothes, that is. I had wanted to start over, to start fresh, and it had been my way of doing just that. Besides, I hadn't been able to stand the thought of going back there after what happened that day. Hadn't even been able to stand the thought of Bodie being there.

"What if..." I started to say, but he swung back around to stare at me and the words died away just like that. Crushed by dust and cool blue eyes.

"Don't, Ray," he said, flat-toned again, though those same eyes betrayed him; they showed more fear than he normally allowed, even facing down a gun.

"'S true," I said anyway. Having to say it. Needing to have him hear it. "When I was... hurt... well, I never told you about the dreams I had. If you could call 'em dreams. You were in 'em, and Cowley. Like when we first met and you didn't have much time for me..."I gave a short little laugh. "Or any copper, for that matter. When you told me, I had to be cool. Had to not let things get to me. Be just like you."

"Ray..."he tried again, almost pleading, but I couldn't quit now. Not after all this time.

"And there was more. I... saw my funeral, Bodie. Saw it all. And how none of it mattered. How I hadn't mattered. Anything I'd done. That it was all... just killing, and that no good had ever come out of it. That none ever could. And I didn't want to go back, at least part of me anyhow. Not to that. Not to what my life had become. To what... to what I had become. Part of me wanted to die."

My voice faded away to silence. Silence that wasn't broken for a long time, long enough for me to begin to regret what I'd just said. That I'd said anything at all.

"Bloody hell," Bodie finally muttered, his own voice sounding raw. "So he was right."

I couldn't just leave it. "Who?"

But my partner was shaking his head and wouldn't look at me. "Bloody Cowley. I didn't want to believe him. I told him it wasn't true."

"Bodie... what?"

But his eyes were closed now and he was still shaking his head.

I sat up and was about to ask again, was about to reach out, when he abruptly stood and stalked away. And he suddenly looked uneasy in his skin, uncertain, even oddly ungraceful as he moved back over to that damn window. He reached out and rested both hands on the frame, rested his forehead against the glass, as if he was trying to use it to cool something too hot inside him.

And I had an unsettling flash of him pulling his head back and smashing it forward into that same glass. Needing to strike out, to hurt something.

Even if it was himself.

My gut emptied out and I pushed myself to my feet. I began to walk towards him, softly and carefully, almost expecting my vision to come true any second now. But the floor began to tilt just as I reached him --as I was about to reach out to him, to touch that impossibly tense shoulder --and he reacted more quickly than me. He spun around and caught me just as I began to fall. He caught me up hard in strong arms and brought me in towards him, hip to hip and chest to chest. His breath gusting across my cheek and it was hot, hot and ragged with whatever he was keeping so carefully inside him.

"Doyle,"he said, and I could hear desperation there, too.

I opened my mouth, but I forgot what I was about to say when he abruptly clasped me even tighter --tight enough to hurt, tight enough to make me gasp --and damn well kissed me. Not a hard kiss, but not soft either. More like some mix of the two, part lip and part teeth. Rough and gentle at the same time, like he couldn't make up his mind what he wanted.

I was just wondering what I wanted to do about it, when Bodie broke away from the kiss. He didn't let go of me, though --maybe he was worried I couldn't stand on me own --but his face went suddenly cool and distant, a mockery of its usual mask.

And his eyes were cold, almost as cold as the day he'd been contemplating murder on King Billy. It hurt to look at them, to be the cause of his withdrawal, even though I hadn't been the one to start this. And, as if he realized that, he suddenly looked off into some middle distance all his own.

"Bodie," I said hesitantly, more a whisper than anything else. Then my voice failed me entirely and I realized that I was shaking a little. That my face was hot and my hands were cold and I was feeling too many things at once to even know where to begin to sort them out.

But then Bodie looked at me again and anger began to edge all the others out. Because he seemed so sad, so regretful, and tinged with something I'd almost call self-loathing, if it hadn't been my partner we were talking about here.

"So now you know, sunshine," he said, his voice deadly quiet. "One secret deserves another. Isn't that how it works?"

I swallowed hard and finally found my own voice. I was still shaking inside, but somehow it came out cool enough, almost hard. "It's not a game, Bodie. Don't fuck with me."

He shook his head slightly, but his eyes never left mine. "'Course, it is. It's all a game."

He was lying. I knew he was lying.

I shook my head and suddenly it felt like the floor dropped out from under me.

"Gotta sit down," I mumbled, but Bodie was already there, holding me up, half-carrying me, and for once I didn't struggle to do it all for myself. My legs weren't working right anyway and his arms felt so strong around me, so familiar.

The sofa felt good, warm and stable and comfortable, and I curled up into one corner of it, laid my head back and half-closed my eyes. Dimly, I sensed Bodie moving back to stand over me, but it was all I could do to remember how to breathe just then.

I don't know how long it was, but I finally heard him sigh and begin to move away. Before I knew what I was doing, I reached out and snagged his wrist.

"Bodie," I said, but he was already caught. He was staring down at my fingers on his arm as if he'd never seen them before.

"'S no good," was all he said, though, and his voice was empty. "I never shoulda... oh Christ, Ray, just forget about it, okay? For once, just forget about it. Just... let it go."

Unspoken, was the let me go.

"Bodie," I said. "Don't leave. We gotta talk about this. You know that."

He looked at me, then looked away again, and his shoulders slumped. "Okay," he responded stiffly. "I'll stay."

I let go of him and he made as if to return to his chair, but I shook my head and gestured at the spot right next to me. He wouldn't look at me, but he did sit on the couch, though at the opposite end. As far from me as he could get.

His eyes were fixed firmly on the floor.

For long minutes, we just sat there. Me mulling over what to say, just how to say it, and Bodie... well, God knows what he was thinking. Not even I could read him some of the time.

"Bodie," I said at the last, and watched as his head lifted slightly at the sound of his name. "Bodie... how long have you... known?"

One shoulder lifted slightly, a half-hearted shrug. "Known what, Doyle? That I'm queer, or that I wanted to fuck my partner?"

It was deliberately crude, almost cruel, and I recognized it for what it was --his way of trying to put even more distance between us, of going for the preemptive strike. Knowing if he got me mad, I wouldn't be able to corner him, would likely just throw him right out the door. Not bloody likely.

"Either. Both,"I said softly.

He shot me a glance, searching and caustic, then laughed a little, though there was nothing pleasant about it. He settled back into the couch and let out a long breath and spread his arms out full-length along the back.

"Well, let me see," he said. "I was sixteen when I skipped the country, when I found out what went on 'below decks.' Not that any of us counted that as being queer, you understand. Especially not me. Even though I was raring to go for almost anything those days just to get me own. As for Africa... well, there, things changed a bit. I found I kinda liked bein' with a man. Not as much as bein' with a woman, mind you, but it was a bit of all right."

"Oh," I said. "I see."

"Do you?" Again, that sharp look. "I don't think so. I don't think you see it at all. At least, you never have."

"Yeah?" I replied and couldn't keep the sarcasm from showing. "So, that's why you hauled off and kissed me, was it? To show me what I was missing out on then? A real hands-on approach you have, mate."

"Hey, can't help it if you're a bit thick sometimes. Carry you enough as it is, don't I?"

It was a familiar give and take, but I didn't want to drop back into the familiar, the known. Not with the feel of his lips still lingering on mine.

"Bodie..."I said warningly.

He closed his eyes and his head went down even further. There was silence for a heartbeat, two, three, before he spoke again. His head still bowed, his eyes clamped shut. As if he couldn't both look at me and say what he had to say.

"About a year," he said quietly. "I've been fancying you for about a year. Maybe, a bit longer. Not that I ever thought to do anything. Knowing you'd punch me out or have me kicked out of the squad because of it. Hell, we're both in Cowley's bad books often enough as it is. Can't have the old man thinking one of his mob is a fucking queer. Let alone that he wants to bed his own goddamned partner."

"But I didn't, did I?"I said.

His head came up at that. "Eh?"

I looked deeply into those blue eyes, remembering warmth in them, remembering ice. Remembering the deep pain, they had betrayed when he'd bent over me and thought I was dying. Spilled milk and blood and the sound of my own fading heartbeat. All those ghosts at my graveside.

"I didn't hit you," I elaborated. "Coulda. But I didn't."

His eyes begged the question, though he seemed almost incapable of asking it directly.

I couldn't keep back the smile, small though it was. "Was a nice kiss, Bodie. Guess now I know what all those birds see in you. It's not just your devastating charm. It's your body."

For a moment, it seemed he was about to smile back, but then his face darkened. His eyes most of all.

"Don't fool about, Ray," he said, his voice ghostly calm, fire and frost. "Don't make that mistake."

"Bodie..."It was all I could say, but I could feel myself coming apart and knew he had to see that too. That he had to know...

That I had already realized that I wanted this. That I wanted him. And that it scared the living fuck out of me.

I had no experience with being with another man, despite having gone into those kinds of clubs sometimes while working my patch in East London. And not that I had anything against it. Against them. They were just people --same damn needs, and same damn problems as anyone else, no matter who they took home to bed.

And not that I hadn't ever thought about it, even considered it on occasion. The same way I considered what things might have been like if I'd chosen to become an artist, rather than a copper. But considering it is a long way from doing it. From having it stare you right in the eye from just a few feet away. From having your partner of nearly three years kiss you and tell you, he wants you.

Yeah, sure, it scared me. But I've had to face things that have scared me before --hell, bloody terrified me --and as I stared at the man next to me on the couch, I suddenly found that I couldn't think of anything I wanted more in that moment than to win through that fear. To discover something more about myself. And, better still, to discover the depths of my partner, always so well hidden and so well protected before.

No matter the cost.

But Bodie's eyes were searching mine, studying my face as if he had never seen it before, before he abruptly looked away again and shifted uneasily in place. As if he wanted to get up, but was afraid to at the same time. Like he was afraid that I wouldn't stop him from leaving this time.

"'M, sorry," he suddenly mumbled.

Bodie apologizing was a rare enough treat, but it wasn't at all what I wanted right then.

"Don't be," I replied. "I think... no, I'm glad that you did it. Especially if you've been wanting to for so long. Long as all that. Best it be out in the open between us, Bodie. I woulda hated to have been done up yesterday and never have known. Never have had the chance to know...how you felt."

He shot me an almost angry look. "You don't know what you're saying. You can't."

"Fuck," I spat back, a sudden wash of anger making me want to shake the fuck outta him. "I'm a big boy, Bodie, in case you hadn't noticed. I know what I want and how I want it. And that goes for who I fucking want as well."

His reply was quiet, but hurt for all that. "Never said you didn't. Just knew you didn't want me, that's all. Any bloke. No matter how devastatingly handsome."

"Modest, too," I added. "You forgot that."

He shook his head, talking almost as if to himself. "Never do. Never will. Tried to forget, Ray. But it just wouldn't go away. No matter how many birds I took home. No matter how hard I fucked 'em. It would be okay for a little while after, but then I would find myself wondering. Thinking what it would be like if things were different. If it were you instead of them. Looking up at me with those great cat's eyes of yours."

The last was said rather lightly, almost as if he meant it as a joke. But I wasn't laughing and neither was he.

"Is that how you see me?" I asked. "How you see this? As someone to fuck?"

He lowered his head, closed his eyes tightly for a long moment or two then opened them again. And looked at me, really looked at me. His face open, his eyes clear, almost pleading.

"Ray," he said. "I can't tell you what I don't know. I... I can't make promises. Not when I... well, you know how things always seem to turn out."

Oh, yeah. I knew. I could count the number of times I'd seen Bodie get serious on one hand, and all of them had ended badly. Had just about torn him apart. Not that my track record in the long-term relationship department was very much better. But I couldn't do this as a lark. I couldn't. It could so easily destroy everything and if I was going to do this, then it had to be worth the risk. It had to be worth the effort, just like our partnership. And I wasn't going to kid myself; Bodie could be a right bastard when he really wanted to, when things weren't going his way. He'd never been easy to work with. Getting involved with him would only stir the pot even more.

Not that it didn't work both ways. I'd never claimed to be low maintenance.

Cowley would certainly agree with that.

"Yeah. You're right, mate," I said at last.

Bodie seemed almost relieved at my agreement. He seemed less relieved when I smiled slightly and slouched down on my end of the couch as if I had no cares left in the world.

"Guess that means it'll be the both of us taking a chance then, eh?" I added. "Even if it blows up in our faces."

"Doyle - "he started to say.

"Bodie." I cut him off. "I'm saying yes. Okay? Yes."

"Ray?"

"Yes, damnit."

He smiled at that, probably against his own wishes. "Okay. I heard you, sunshine."

"Right," I replied. "Good. About time."

He shook his head and that smile only grew. "Never know what to expect from you, Ray. Guess you'll always keep me guessing."

"That a good thing?" I asked. "Or bad?"

A flash of teeth. "Good. Definitely good."

I smiled back and watched his wide smile melt into something far warmer. Or something that warmed me anyway. Then I was pushing forward and somehow we met in the middle. And I kissed him, this time. Well, mostly. It was my hands on his face anyway, cupping his mouth to mine. Holding him firm as I put my tongue right in, right where I suddenly felt it belonged. Tasting warmth, salt, and the faint traces of something musky. Something dark and dangerous. And I couldn't get enough of him, couldn't get deep enough inside him, though I swear I had my tongue as far down his throat as it could get.

And then it was better --impossibly better --as I felt his arms closing around me. Pulling me down with him. Pulling me on top of him. And he was hot everywhere, all hard muscle and smooth skin, and I could feel the hardest and hottest thing of all pressing upwards against my thigh. Like it could poke a hole right through his posh slacks if he let it.

He let out a harsh breath, a slight moan, as he finally tore his mouth away from mine.

"You really do want me, sunshine," I couldn't help but say, especially when those blue eyes rolled down to look at me.

He laughed a bit at that, breathy and amused. "Quick lad. Whatever gave you that idea?"

"Oh," I replied. "This, I think." And I quite deliberately rubbed my leg across that certain hard little knot in his trousers. Not that it was all that little.

He jumped at that, an almost involuntary thrust of his hips, and his head arched back, displaying the clean line of his neck.

And I couldn't help myself. I went for it. Bit him, too. Harder, I think, than he really expected, then began biting and licking my way back up to his left ear.

"Eh," I heard him whisper, even as his hands moved to dig themselves down in my own hair, carding fingers between the strands, pulling and stroking at the curls almost possessively. "What was that for?"

"Bein' so dumb," I replied, breathing the answer right down into that equally tempting ear.

"Ah," he said. "Guess, you'll be... bitin' me a lot, then."

"Might," I said back, then gave in, and sent my tongue down into the depths of his ear and felt him shudder beneath me.

"Ah, fuck," he mumbled.

I pulled back a little, enough to tickle him with my breath. "Thought that was the idea, mate."

"Yeah," he said. "Yeah, it is."

And then he was moving and taking me with him and the both of us were falling. Somehow, we ended up on the floor and he had me pinned down beneath his weight, trapped between the couch and the coffee table. And it scared me as much as it thrilled me, to be held like that. To know just how strong he was.

To feel his cock pressing against my own.

And I froze, suddenly realizing in raging stereo, full technicolor detail just where he might want to put that. Fuck, I'd never liked being submissive to anyone, least of all Bodie. Especially Bodie, who had tried me and tested me from day one and had only grudgingly finally admitted that I measured up to his exacting standards, that I was a tough little sod, despite my slight build and all those curls. The same shit that had gotten me into so much trouble as a kid and had made me learn how to fight almost before I learned how to read. As it had taught me to fuck just about anything in a skirt if she'd give me the time of day and half a chance.

Just like Bodie.

Just like Bodie...

I stared up at those blue eyes and belatedly realized that they were scared, too. Scared of me and scared of himself, and mostly scared of being hurt. Not that I wanted to hurt him, even though I had in the past. I think everybody had hurt him at some time or another, even the birds that he'd swear that he'd never been all that serious about.

It made me relax again and smile up at him. This was Bodie and I trusted him, trusted him with my life and more. Certainly, I could trust him with my body.

Bodie smiled back, not his usual smug grin, but something that appeared almost shy. He bent down and kissed me again, a long slow slide of lips and whisker burn, his tongue dipping down to taste me, to curl itself around my own tongue. Then he moaned and the kiss abruptly turned hard, possessive, and he ducked down to lick at my neck, to kiss it, great biting kisses, and I felt his hands pushing under my shirt, skimming fingers rough on my skin, curving around to claim my ribs.

I jerked as they hit a bruise and his hands immediately turned soothing. "Sorry, mate," he mumbled somewhere in the vicinity of my collarbone.

"'S all right," I said, even though nothing was. It was terrifying and wonderful at the same time, what he was doing to me, what I was feeling, weak, and strong and hot and melting in the oddest places. It had never been like this with the birds I'd been with, not even Ann. The woman I'd come the closest to loving, to chucking all this away for. My job, my life. Bodie.

Bodie.

The man was definitely lethal, and in more ways than could be tallied up on the target range.

But then he was lifting up, stripping my shirt clean off, and his mouth came down on my right nipple and the word lethal had to take a back seat to other, far less poetic words, as he nibbled, licked, sucked, and drove me and my poor weeping prick right to the edge. Until I was gasping and holding onto him and begging him to stop, to finish it. To get me out of these fucking jeans.

The bastard pulled back then, breathing hard himself, and looked down at me. He swallowed. Hard.

"Ray," he whispered, and I had never heard him say my name quite like that before. Sweet, sad, disbelieving, and overjoyed all at once.

"Yeah," I breathed back and felt something sting my eyes.

But Bodie just shook his head. I was the one who had to reach up, to touch that face. Trailing my fingers along all that pale smooth skin, the rougher whisper of beard along his jaw line, watching the flicker of black lashes as his eyes slid half-shut. Giving himself over to me. Bodie, who never gave himself easily or willingly to anyone.

"Bodie," I said softly. "I want to try this, I really do. But I can't make promises, either. And not just because of the job."

He nodded, then tilted his head deeper into my right hand. He let out a quiet sound, almost a sigh. Then his eyes suddenly flickered open again, their brilliant color and clarity almost catching me unaware; as if I'd never really seen them before.

"Ray," he said. "Was it really the job that almost made you give up? 'Cause if it was..."

I shook my head, then shrugged. I started to take my hand back, but he caught it and held it, almost too tightly.

"I don't know," I replied. "Maybe, yeah. Even before that day, I'd been feelin' so tired. I had been thinking that nothin' we did really mattered anymore. Like I was just goin' through the motions. Not really living anymore. Not knowing what I was living for."

"And now?"

I turned my hand until I could twine our fingers together. "Better," I admitted. "'S been better since. Mostly. Why? You think I should quit? You think what happened today was some kind of warning? That I really am gettin' too slow for this, too old?"

He shook his head. "Just wonderin' if we should quit, angelfish. Get out while we've still got a few good years left in us... and all our best parts."

"You want to quit?"I couldn't believe I was hearing this. Bodie rarely seriously complained about the job. About the lousy pay, the lousy hours, the way Cowley'd invoke that damned fine print in our contracts whenever he wanted to get his way, yeah. But not about the job itself. He'd always seemed to thrive on the excitement, the risk, the danger.

"'S just a thought," he said. "Been wondering a bit myself, that's all. Not gettin' any younger, none of us."

His voice had gone soft and his eyes hooded again. Suddenly, I realized what he was really trying to say, what he had said.

We.

Both of us had just said we couldn't promise a bloody thing to each other and already Bodie was thinking about chucking it all in just 'cause he thought I might want to. That I might need to. I didn't feel like crying this time; instead, I couldn't keep the laughter inside.

Bodie's eyes shot open at my sudden chuckle, but I just shook my head at him and used my free hand to drag his head down, kissing him quickly, but thoroughly for all that. His mouth opened beneath the pressure of mine, letting me into the heat and moisture beyond. Letting me steal some for my very own.

When I finally let him go again, his face was slightly flushed and those blue eyes were hazy, not at all thinking about the future. Probably not thinking clearly at all anymore. I felt a bit dizzy myself, hot in all the right places, and no longer worried about who was going to do what to who, or what the rest of the world might think about it, let alone our own bonny lads at CI bloody 5. Let alone what the Cow might think or do to the two of us because of it.

This wasn't about submission. This wasn't about giving something up. This was about the man in my arms and wanting to make him even more a part of me. Wanting to give him something he'd never had. This was about finding something I'd always dreamed of, but rarely had had the courage to believe in, even those couple of times I'd actually thought I'd found it.

Something more real than hearts and flowers. Something that was as much a part of you as your own blood and bones and breath.

"Bodie," I said. "Bedroom."

He blinked and the haze cleared just a little. Enough for a truly lovely smile to break out. "Think you've got one around here someplace, sunshine," he commented.

I rolled my eyes at him, which only made him snort.

"Geddup, will ya," I grumbled.

"You wish is my command, Raymond," he said. Then, with that smile suddenly turning into something closer to a smirk, he kissed me once on the nose and levered himself up, then reached a waiting hand back down.

It was a casual gesture, but I paused before I took him up on it, staring upwards into those blue eyes, wondering at the fact that I swear I could almost see myself in them. Not the way I looked to myself in the mirror most mornings --ragtag and scraggly, put together all wrong, with bags under my eyes and more and more gray in my hair --but the glimpse I would get of myself on those rare occasions when the day still seemed to have some promise to it. When I still felt young. When I felt alive. Wicked with the very blood in my veins.

But then Bodie had always made me feel alive. Even when I was angry with him.

I reached up and he smoothly and easily hauled me to my feet. Pain instantly shot through me and I gasped, half-curling up around it.

"Christ," he hissed, his arms closing around me again. "Sorry, mate. I forgot."

I nodded. "'S okay."

I breathed through the pain, around it, and slowly it began to be okay. It was mostly just a knock on the head and some bruised ribs, after all. Nothing to write home about. Certainly, Macklin had given us both worse in the past and would again. Still, I let Bodie hold me. His body felt so real, so solid, so strong. And he smelled good, too; of sweat and gunpowder.

But Bodie had taken the opportunity to bury his face in my hair and I could feel his breath on the back of my neck.

"You sure you're up for this, Ray?" he asked.

I reached up and curled my fingers around the back of his head, enjoying the feel of that short clipped hair. It was softer than it looked.

"What do you think?" I responded, pressing my groin tight into his thigh.

"I think you're a right pain and a snarky son-of-a-bitch," he mumbled. "But I want you so bad I can't fucking see straight."

"Glad to hear it," I said and couldn't keep the laughter out of my voice.

Suddenly, despite still hurting, despite all my lingering uncertainties, I felt happy. Really happy. Unreasonably happy even. Especially when I looked into those blue eyes and saw pleasure there as well, sheer relief, wry good humor, a shockingly honest and pure desire. His eyes made me feel giddy. It made me feel like grabbing him and never letting go again.

Wicked, real, and right. This was Bodie at his best. Bodie at his worst. And, maybe, it all would work out. Maybe, it would last when nothing and no one else ever had. After all, he had been the one constant in my life for years now. The one person I could always rely on, even when we disagreed with each other. Even when we fought and feuded and I despaired of ever teaching him tolerance, and he despaired of ever teaching me the finer points of fashion.

William Andrew Phillip Bodie. My partner and my best mate. From the efficient lingering-shades-of-the-military cut of his black hair to the dark blush of yesterday's beard on his cheeks. From that wide, smiling, smirking, scornful mouth to the cool fire of those blue eyes. Broad-shouldered, big-hearted, cold as stone and furious as hell when you pushed him too far Bodie. How could I not have seen how beautiful he was before? How could I not want him as badly as he so obviously wanted me?

How could anyone ever resist the bugger?

Especially with that look on his face and that light in his eyes as he drew back to look at me. The look that said he thought he knew exactly what I was thinking and that he was the center of it all. Which made everything right with the world.

"I want to fuck you," he said, direct as ever. But then he drew in a long breath and sighed.

"But...?" I encouraged him, suspecting already what I was about to hear.

He shook his head at me, then gently let go and went over to the side table. A second later, a bottle of pills flew at me and I caught them out of the air without thinking, with a wince. Bodie shot me a sidelong glance, then went into the kitchen and came back out again with a glass of water from the tap.

"But," he finished at last. "I think, right now, you need these more."

I sighed myself, but tipped out a couple of pills and tossed them back like a good boy, then followed them up with the water Bodie had brought me. He took the bottle and the empty glass back, set them aside, but then paused and leaned forward to seal my mouth shut again with a kiss that had nothing of the nursemaid about it.

It was hot, lingering, almost frightening in its intensity. Like he was pouring his very essence into me. Like he wanted to suck my own into him.

Like we had all the time in the world.

When he pulled back at last, I reached out to make sure he didn't escape entirely. My hands on his shoulders and his breath mingled with my own and our mouths almost touching. Thigh to thigh and hip to hip, his cock pressed up against my own, as he whispered my name, as I whispered his right back. Both of us fools if we thought we hadn't already promised each other the world, both of us fucking insane to even consider it.

But then the floor tried to tip me over and Bodie slipped an arm through my own and made it right itself again.

"Time for bed, sunshine," he said.

"'S what I said," I agreed.

"To sleep," he clarified.

"Bodie..."

"Sleep," he said again. "You need it. I need it. More than we need the other."

I angled to kiss him again, to get him to kiss me, but he eluded me, shaking his head, but grinning all the while. "Doyle..."

I knew that tone. I knew he was right. I just didn't have to like it.

"Read me a bedtime story then," I said, letting him start to pull me in the direction of the bedroom.

"I'll read you a fucking story," he replied. "And tuck you in and make you say your bloody prayers. Now move it, Doyle, before those pills kick in and I have to carry your lazy arse to bed."

"Shortest honeymoon in history," I mumbled, but moved anyway. "Pushy bastard, Bodie."

"You ain't seen nothing yet," he answered, steering me into the right room and over to the foot of the bed.

"Want to see it," I said, glancing down at the front of his trousers.

Bodie snorted, carefully tipping me down onto the sheets. "Go on."

The pills must have really started their magic then, or sheer exhaustion finally caught up to me, because I didn't remember much else after that. Just flashes of my jeans finally coming off, of the crispness of the pillow beneath my cheek, of a hot body sliding in next to me and gathering me close. Strong arms. And a soft kiss laid on the naked point of my shoulder just before everything faded away.

I might have imagined it, but I doubt it.

Just as I might have imagined the naked cock tucking itself in behind my balls, like it had always belonged there. Right there.

But I doubt it.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The next morning I woke up slowly, far more slowly than I usually do, a little disorientated and a little sore and stiff, though not in a good way. The first thing I became aware of, after bits of my body chimed in with all their complaints about how they'd been treated, was the warm body lying right next to me. The steady ebb and flow of its breathing, the hand dropped down across my belly as a leg was curled across both of my own.

My partner, possessive even in his sleep. Protective. Heavy.

I opened my eyes, then squeezed them half-shut them again as late morning sunshine dazzled me. Neither of us had thought to pull the shades last night and now the light was pouring in through the window across the way, part of it illuminating the tangled sheets at the bottom of the bed. A single foot poked out of the middle of it. It wasn't mine.

Vaguely, I wondered if it was ticklish. Then I wondered how long I'd survive if I tried to find out.

Bodie's own survival instincts were good, though; he stirred and made a few quiet, mumbling noises, then rolled over, leaving me free of his weight, and stealing most of the bedclothes in the process. I pushed myself up a little and looked over at him. A great lump in the bed with rumpled black hair sticking out on top.

I let myself fall back and stared up at the ceiling. A rainbow lay in one corner of the room, cast by the sun hitting the dresser mirror. It seemed we were missing a beautiful sunny day out there, a rare thing in London lately.

Still I didn't want to get out of bed. There was something even more precious right here and I wanted to savor every bit of it. I wanted to savor feeling safe and I wanted to savor feeling wanted, even though the lazy sod who had given me both those things was snoring softly now, not concerned in the least that he'd left me stranded on my half of the bed.

I poked him in the side --making the snores stop for a second, before starting up again --then slid off the bed, moving as carefully as a man twice my age and feeling every bit of the ceiling that had come down on me.

I caught sight of myself in the mirror and paused there, counting cuts and scrapes, and all sorts of shades of black and blue as they marched up my legs, one hip, and across my ribs. I looked like one big bruise, like Macklin had spent a week tap dancing all over me. Like I had come close to dying yesterday.

I scrubbed my hand through my hair, then across the slightly ridged scar on my chest, and remembered when I had. Or came as close as makes no difference.

But, even then, Bodie had been with me. Had pushed me. Had made me come back to him.

I turned around and caught him watching me. Blue eyes fell to my chest as well, hesitated, and then wandered lower. A slow grin spread across his face.

I stared back at him, then couldn't help but smile myself. "Tea and toast?" I asked.

His tongue crept out to wet his lips. "Rather have me a kiss."

I went back over to the bed and bent down, fixing my mouth to his, putting my hand to the side of his face. He was all unshaven whisker and smooth skin and tasted good, damn good, morning breath or not.

"Sweet prince," I said, straightening up again.

"Ribbit," he quipped happily enough and made a grab for me, which I eluded as gracefully as I could, which wasn't very much this morning.

Bodie lost some of his good humor. "You okay?" he asked.

I shrugged. "Could do with a hot shower. Get some of the kinks out."

Bodie pushed up in bed, blinking sleepily as he glanced around the room, before stretching slowly. "Go on then," he said. "Unless you want someone to wash your back for you?"

"Think I can manage," I replied, though it was tempting. Especially as I watched him move to sit at the edge of the bed, the sheets all bundled up around his waist like he was still making a half-hearted attempt at modesty this morning. An impression that didn't last as he looked up at me and that insolent grin appeared once more.

"Don't use up all the hot water," was all he said, though.

I snorted and walked out of the room and into the loo. I took a good, long piss and then went to wash my hands. Once there by the sink, however, I saw the man in the mirror looking back at me just like he did every morning, my hair a tangled mess and my shoulders hunched and my face puffy with sleep, a frown line between my eyes betraying lingering uncertainties. Not of Bodie, but of myself.

We hadn't gone too far last night, Bodie and me. Not much more than a good bit of snogging and, if either of us still wanted to back out, this morning we had a second chance. Of course, more than likely it would still end up being the ruin of our partnership, but we might not end up hating each other for the rest of our lives if it turned sour.

I ran my finger down the mirror, tracing out the lines of my own mouth, the familiar hollow line of my broken cheekbone. Then, feeling suddenly giddy, silly, almost angry at myself, I laid my hands flat to the cool surface of the mirror, closed my eyes, and bowed my head over the sink, shutting out the reflection. Denying the reality of my misgivings, my cowardice. This was one second chance I didn't want.

Not like I wanted Bodie... Christ, no, if I denied this then I might as well have died that day. Or yesterday.

Finally, I sucked in a deep breath and managed to turn away. I got the water running and the soap in hand. It felt good to scrub down, even though it stung at all the cuts on my skin, the scrapes where I hadn't realized I'd had scrapes. Despite Bodie's comment, I took my time and even washed my hair, breathing in the steam and the fresh scent of the shampoo.

When I finally got out again, the mirror was completely fogged up and I felt squeaky clean. More clean than I had felt in days. I rubbed my hair partially dry with a towel, then more gingerly dried the rest of my body. My favorite red silk robe hung on the back of the door and I slipped into it, loosely tying the white sash around my waist.

When I emerged, the first thing I could smell was toast, and I could hear sausages fizzing and popping. I followed both the sound and scent into the kitchen and found Bodie setting out plates and mugs and silver. He had put his trousers back on, but nothing else. Barefoot and still looking a bit rumpled around the edges, he glanced over as I stood there in the doorway, then pulled out a chair for me like a true gentleman.

"Breakfast, m'lord," he said. As I sank down in the offered seat, feeling suddenly a bit silly but not wanting to be rude in the face of all this unexpected morning cheer, he poured me a cup of tea and handed it to me. It smelled like pure salvation and went down even better.

"Eggs?" I asked, between gulps.

He went back over to turn the sausages, shaking his head. "Not unless you nip right down and buy some, me lad," he said. "Was lucky to even find these skulking at the back of your fridge. They looked lonely."

"Haven't had time to get out to the stores lately," I protested mildly. As well he knew.

I watched him over my tea, entirely at home in my kitchen. But then, Bodie was entirely at home most places. It was part of his charm. He finished up the sausages and put a plate full on the table, followed by a neat rack of toast. Butter and marmalade appeared and then he was pulling out a chair and sitting down directly across from me and digging in like it was a feast. Or like he expected to be called away any second.

I buttered a piece of toast and nabbed two sausages. "You gotta go in?"

Bodie shook his head. His mouth was full. He swallowed down the sausage with some tea before answering. "The Cow said Monday morning's soon enough."

With this being... what? Friday morning. Well, that was generous of the old man, even if my partner was his precious blue-eyed boy. Probably, after what just happened and what had almost happened, he wanted to give Bodie some time to calm down. Unwind. Nurse a few of his own bruises.

Bodie suddenly flashed me a grin full of toast crumbs. "You'll be comin' in, too. Monday morning bright and early. Can help me with my report."

Paperwork, the bane of working for the government. Especially when you were a two-fingered typist like Bodie.

"So that leaves us a nice long weekend," Bodie went on, claiming another sausage with his fork. "So, let's see... what shall we do?"

"Laundry," I said helpfully, getting into the game.

Bodie shook his head and smiled at me again.

"The shops?"

A mock frown this time.

"A nice long fuck?"

That got the hint of a real frown and I belatedly realized that it had come out harsher than I had intended.

"If you like," Bodie replied. His own tone had gone suddenly quiet.

"I...think so," I admitted. "Yeah, I just..."

"You've never," he stated.

I nodded and looked down at the half slice of toast on my plate.

"Slow as you like, sunshine," he said, his voice still soft, his hand sliding across the table to take my own, to weave our fingers tight together. "Whatever you want."

I looked back up at him and couldn't help but smile when I saw how serious he looked just then, how serious and lecherous at the same time.

"I want you," I said simply.

His hand squeezed mine harder. "Good," he replied. "So give us a kiss, then. Least you can do for me having made breakfast. Getting me hands dirty. Lettin' you have all the hot water."

"Think there's some left," I disputed, but my heart wasn't in it. Instead, my heart was trying to pound clear of my chest as Bodie suddenly leaned across the table and pulled my mouth to his. As if it wasn't entirely willing to go.

It was a gentle kiss, but fervent for all that. Thorough. And somewhere in the middle of it, I found my hands stroking his face, sliding down to his bare shoulders, and then just holding on for dear life. Not to mention, my somewhat ragged soul.

Yeah, I wanted him. I wanted him right then and there, over the goddamned breakfast table if I had no other choice. In fact, as I pulled him even closer, I consigned both tea and toast, and every plate I owned to oblivion, rather than to let him get away from me this fine morning.

Not that my partner particularly wanted to escape. His mouth was fixed to mine as if he had forgotten how to breathe, or as if he expected me to do it for him, and his tongue was hot and thick and heavy, tasting of butter and burn and Bodie. The crockery rattled beneath us as he half-yanked, half-lifted me further across the table towards him, until my crotch was riding right into the edge. It hurt and it felt good at the same time.

Finally, he pulled back a little, though he didn't let go of me. "Christ, I want you," he breathed, his voice ragged and stark; sounding almost scared.

I blinked at him, his eyes so close to my own that all I could see was drowning blue and black, no expression, no reflection of anything else, even my own eyes.

"Yes," I said. "Now, Bodie."

For one long moment, his hands tightened on me, hard enough to bruise, and then he let go and slid back to his own side of the table. His face flushed and his mouth opened as he breathed in these quick little pulses. He swallowed as he looked back at me and then nodded.

I stood up and came around to collect him, my hand sliding across the broad muscle of his shoulder and down his arm to close around his wrist. I could feel his heart beating like it was trying to jump clear out of his skin. I suddenly wanted to feel that heartbeat somewhere else; I wanted it inside me, no matter what else that meant.

He didn't say anything as I pulled him to his feet, but there was uncertainty in his eyes. Those melting blue eyes.

"C'mon," I said quietly, tilting my head at him. Smiling at him. "Let's go to bed, for real this time."

For a moment, those black lashes hid his eyes, his reaction, and then he looked up at me again and smiled. Not one of his patented polished charm the pants off you without a word kind of grins and not that mock-boyish aw-shucks look, but a genuine smile of something approaching pure joy. It transformed his face and made me want him all over again, all the more.

This would work out if I had anything to say about it. If I got to wake up to that face every morning, take it to bed every night.

I don't really remember the trip down the hall, just finding us both standing at the foot of my bed all of a sudden. Finding his hands sliding in under my robe, tracing their way across my hipbones until calloused fingers could cup themselves around my arse and pull me tight into him. Into the feel of his cock curving beneath the zip of his trousers.

I ground myself back into his erection, my own cock just as swollen, jabbing outwards from beneath the red silk of my robe, and his hands tightened on me, compressing flesh and muscle. Driving me harder against him. Starting a rhythm that sent twinges of pure pleasure through my groin, through my entire body, that made me feel suddenly hollow inside.

Like only Bodie could fill me.

It should have scared me like it had before, but it didn't. Suddenly, all the uncertainty was gone, leaving nothing but a need to touch him, to touch all of him, taste him, stroke him, feel that cock naked against my own body. Feel my own prick naked against his.

Somehow, I got my hands to the tie of my sash and struggled with the knot. And somewhere along the line, Bodie got the idea and brought his own hands up to pull the robe off my shoulders. He stripped it down my body, ignoring the tied sash entirely, and just yanked the whole thing down until it puddled around my ankles.

He went for his trousers next, roughly undoing the zip and pulling them down and off. He kicked the offending material across the room and then turned and grabbed and kissed me, hard and furious, spinning the both of us down onto the bed in a move that could have been smooth if it hadn't been so desperate.

We rolled across the tangled sheets until we were right on the edge of the bed, until I was on top. Our legs twisted together and his cock pressed hot and wet against my hip, my own somehow jammed between his balls and the crease of his upper thigh.

It was warm there. Warm and perfect. As warm and perfect as his mouth as he lifted it to me for another kiss, this one as gentle as the other had been rough. A long, slow, soft exploration that suddenly made it seem as if we had years and years. As if nothing else mattered. Even though my cock was screaming otherwise.

"Ray," he said at last, a shockingly relaxed voice, almost lazy. "You can't want me like this."

"Like what?" I asked, sounding almost as lazy myself, not too concerned about the question.

"Haven't had a chance to clean up for days. You know that."

Yeah, Bodie was always pretty damn fastidious, and he did smell a fair bit --days old sweat mixed with the faint acrid odor of gunpowder and dust and even a hint of blood. I hadn't really noticed it last night and I hadn't much noticed it this morning, at least until he'd drawn my attention to it. And, now that he had, I realized that I liked it. I liked it a lot.

He might want to wash it off first, but I didn't want him to. I wanted him just like he was. Smelling of work and danger, and death.

It made me feel even more alive.

I shook my head, then bent down and licked along the line of his jaw. "Yeah," I said. "So?"

"Ray..."

"No," I replied. I was merrily kissing every inch of skin now, tracking across his bared Adam's apple to the hollow of his throat. He felt so vulnerable there, the thin skin trembling with his heartbeat exactly as his cock was insistently pulsing against my hip. "Don't, Bodie. Want you. Want you just like this."

"Balls," he said, but he relaxed beneath me, letting me have my way with him. Bodie didn't always know when to quit, but this morning he did. Of course, it helped that he so obviously wanted what I wanted.

I sucked the salt off his skin and snaked my hand downward between us until my fingers touched the damp head of his cock. It surged towards me and Bodie caught his breath, then held it completely as I closed my hand around him.

I lifted my head and stared into his eyes and he looked back at me with this expectant, pure moment of trust and pleasure. Like no one had ever touched his prick before. Like he never wanted anyone else to ever touch it again.

No one but me, that is.

And he was warm and slick in my grip, velvet skin, liquid heat. My own dick had never felt like this. Like a living thing all its own. More Bodie than Bodie.

I began stroking him, slowly, oh so slowly, my knuckles skimming crisp hair at the thick base, slicking off moisture at the head. All that smooth skin rippling over the heated core beneath. Christ, he was big. And he felt so good. It felt so good to hold him.

Bodie echoed my sentiment. What a surprise.

Those blue eyes flickered a little and he made a soft noise. Began to make these tiny motions with his hips, the muscles in his stomach flexing. His head tilted further back into the sheets.

"Ray..." he breathed. It sounded almost like a prayer.

His right hand slipped down and took hold of my own cock. Squeezed it hard once and then began stroking me as well, just as gently as I was doing him. oing it at the same time. And it felt good and strange, and soothing all at the same time --almost like I was jacking myself off, but with somebody else's fingers.

Pleasure mirroring pleasure, his eyes were reflecting mine. The same slow smile spreading over both our faces, before I bent down and he lifted up and we kissed. And there was nothing gentle or slow about that, about how his tongue drove into my mouth and my own fought back. How our teeth clashed and our breath merged, hot and relentless. As we bruised and bit and tasted each other, tasted flesh and spit and mingled need.

As we began stroking each other harder and faster, harder and faster, until I could feel myself approaching that edge, that familiar point of no return, and pulled my mouth away from his. Yanked my hand off his cock and pushed his roughly off mine.Me gasping and shaking and shuddering on top of him. Not wanting to stop but wanting more than just this. Knowing Bodie had to want more, especially after waiting and wanting for so very long.

And I wanted to give him what he wanted and had waited for. Even if part of me was still a little bit scared of it. Especially if part of me was scared of it.

"Doyle?" Bodie's voice was ragged, breathless. His fingers twitched in my own, wet with my own pre-come.

"Yeah," I mumbled. "Yeah... just had to slow down, sunshine... was about to..."

"Yeah," he replied. "Me, too. So..."

I looked down at him and his eyes were still trusting, though they looked a little perplexed right now. Not angry or hurt that I had stopped him, even though it was pretty obvious that he'd been within seconds of coming as well.

"So," I said. "You got anything around here we can use?"

He blinked at me, then seemed to come to some conclusion. "Top left hand drawer," he replied. "Take your pick."

I nodded, then brought his captured fingers up to my lips and kissed those hard knuckles. Opened his hand and licked my own taste off his palm.

Bodie laughed softly and there was his relief. Also, his mute joy that I wanted more than just a mutual hand job.

I let go of him and rolled off the bed. I padded across the room to the dresser and opened the top left hand drawer, hearing the bed creak behind me as Bodie moved as well. Inside the drawer was a jumble of items, including several brands of condoms and a couple of small tubes. I cadged a small silver-blue one with the intriguing label of 'Local Motion' spelled out in vibrant purple letters and then picked up one other item.

Bodie simply grinned at me from his sitting position near the headboard of the bed as I turned around and let him see the utilitarian pair of handcuffs dangling conspicuously from my right index finger.

"You sure?" he asked. "I've got a nice fur-lined set somewhere around here."

"Not on a first date," I said and let the cuffs fall free. They glittered silver-bright in a pool of sunshine on the floor. I tossed him the tube and he caught it out of the air. "This okay?"

He studied the stuff with all the air of a university professor. Or a wine connoisseur.

"Yeah," he said, then looked back at me and spread his legs until I could see his cock framed between those strong thighs. Until I could see just how hard he was.

What I was asking for.

I swallowed and began walking towards him, feeling the weight of my own erection bobbing and throbbing with each step. Watching his eyes fall to look at me.

I watched him swallow as well. "You know, sunshine," he said in almost a conversational tone. "You could fuck me."

"Sure," I said, my knees hitting the edge of the bed. "But I want you to fuck me. Today, anyway."

"And tomorrow?"

I shrugged and climbed up on the bed, crawling over to him. Crawling between his spread legs, which spread even more to accommodate me.

He was so solid, so warm, and his arms enfolded me as I kissed him. Lightly, briefly, before pulling back again to smile right into his eyes.

"No promises, remember," I said softly. "But, yeah... that sounds good."

He didn't smile back, but the blue in his eyes seemed to intensify. And then he was holding me even closer, burying his face in my neck, breathing hard --as if he was caught somewhere between laughing and crying.

I felt like laughing myself, but then caught my breath as he lifted the both of us and rolled us over until he was on top. We'd been in this position before, but this time I had asked for it. I knew what he wanted and what I wanted and that they were one and the same.

Bodie with me. In me. Making us one.

Bodie lifted his head and looked at me and I knew he was thinking the same thing, feeling the same way. Chalk and cheese, yeah, but not today. Not for this.

Without a word, without taking our eyes off each other, we shifted around until he was laying between my legs. Bodie stole a pillow from the head of the bed and positioned it beneath the small of my back, lifting my hips higher. Then he opened that tube with fingers that only trembled slightly, spreading a thick gob of clear cool gel onto them, before spreading it on his cock, from tip to base and back again, making it look even more slippery wet. He squeezed some more gel out then and set the tube aside, not bothering to re-cap it.

"Slow and easy," he said quietly. "Might hurt some at first, but I swear it will get better. It does get better."

I nodded, unable to trust my voice at that moment. Not as much as I trusted him anyway.

Still, I tensed up as I felt his fingers touch me there, where no one had ever touched me before. Well, at least not without a pair of rubber gloves and a medical certificate. Bodie's touch was far gentler though, far more considerate, rubbing at me softly before pushing the tip of one finger inside. The gel was cool, but his finger was hot. It also felt far larger than it looked, and I tensed up some more.

"Shhh," Bodie whispered, not taking his eyes off me. "C'mon, sunshine. It's okay. Just let it happen."

Slowly, I relaxed and even more slowly, he worked that finger up inside me, until I could feel his knuckles pressing against me. It didn't really hurt, but it felt weird. Still, as he began moving it in and out of me, carefully, easily, it began to feel oddly good as well.

I had started moving with it a little, when Bodie pulled it free and put two fingers up against me instead. This time, it hurt when he pushed them inside, but I worked to make myself relax without being told, breathing through it, staring up at him, at that look of concentration on his face. At those beautiful eyes.

No man should have eyes as beautiful as his. But then I'd never really looked into a bloke's eyes before, let alone at the rest of him, in quite the way I was looking at my partner now, feeling his fingers working in and out of me, a little bit of pleasure now mingled with the pain. More pleasure then I would have thought possible.

"Ray?"

"Mmm..."

"Okay?"

I nodded. Bodie smiled. Then he leaned down and kissed me, his fingers still buried all the way inside me, putting pressure on something that felt even better than good, that made my cock suddenly ache, it felt so hard.

I moaned into his mouth and he stole the sound from me, pressing even harder until I was writhing in his grip, unable to stop myself, as sharp-edged pleasure shot through me again and again. White edges of liquid light shivered behind my eyes as they slid shut all on their own, as I tilted my hips further back and slid my legs down his calves, trying to pull him even closer to me. To get those fingers deeper inside me.

Bodie was kissing my jaw now, my neck, biting at my shoulder. Mumbling something, I couldn't quite hear. Only the tone, that low, growling sound of hunger and desperation that had already grown familiar to me.

He bit me again, even rougher, then his fingers slid out of me and grabbed my cock instead, squeezing me hard and stroking me even harder. Me arching into his touch, into his grip. Wanting more, wanting it all.

Mumbling myself. Words that sounded like orders, like pleas, like now, now, now and, please, Bodie, please...

And then Bodie's mouth was on mine again, bruising hard and determined, and he had let go of my cock and grabbed his. Was shoving it right up against me, shoving it right into me, the sudden shearing pain of it making me shake, making me gasp. I tensed up and he must have felt it right off, because he froze instantly, and lifted his head.

"Christ, Ray," he breathed, his eyes burning. "Oh, Jesus Christ... I'm sorry."

I shuddered again and felt him start to slide out of me. Desperately, I clasped him tight to me again, not letting him go.

"No, Bodie." My voice sounded raw. "Don't... it's all right."

The look on his face said no, it wasn't, but I nodded at him and managed to smile just a little. I closed my eyes and began to concentrate on relieving the pain, on forcing myself to relax again, and after a bit, it began to ease off some, until what I felt was more pressure than anything else. The pressure of the head of Bodie's cock lodged just inside me.

Bodie's cock...

I shuddered again, but, this time, it was a shudder of pleasure instead of pain. Of pure sensation.

"Ray?"

"Go on," I said. "Do it."

He hesitated long enough that I opened my eyes again, looking at him. At the tender, scared look on his face, so at odds with his normal devil-may-care attitude.

"I didn't - "he said.

"I know," I replied. "It really is okay, Bodie. Don't stop now. Now that..."

We're so close was what I was going to say, but Bodie was already nodding, his hands moving to grasp my upper arms as he shifted and pushed a little bit further inside me. I arched into the pressure, this time, then glanced down between us as he pushed again, watching in both fascination and disbelief as his prick disappeared further into my body. That big red, rigid dick, that I swore I could now feel throbbing inside me. Deeper than his fingers had gone and then deeper still as he thrust again. Splitting me open, making me surrender to him, to the lust in his eyes and the look of mute determination on his face.

Mute love.

Because what else could it be? What else could I be feeling? Especially once he sunk home at last, his prick buried all the way inside me, and his balls tickling at the sensitive skin of my arse, when I felt him shudder on top of me, way the fuck inside me, and let out this long, convulsive breath of air. Like he'd been holding it forever.

It still hurt, but as he paused there, the hurt eased into something beyond pain. Because it was him on top of me, his sweat dripping down on me, and his flesh inside me. His weight driving me down into the bed, where sunlight was spilling across our bodies now, warm on my skin and highlighting the hair on Bodie's body, the flex and pull of all those muscles, his black, black hair, and the white flash of his teeth as he grinned at me. More of that mute love on display for everyone to see.

Except that the only person here to see it was me, and I knew how to keep his secrets as well as my own. Maybe, even better.

At least the secrets that he'd actually shared with me.

His hands slid up from my forearms to cup my face, to hold it as he bent and kissed me again. A long, sweet kiss that made me actually feel like I was melting inside. Just like some stupid bird. Like in all those romance novels that they liked to read.

But Bodie was no rough-and tumble stranger with a heart of gold. He was my rough-and-tumble partner with a heart of stone, but a heart that clearly had a small tender spot hiding out somewhere, a small tender spot that obviously had some part of me stashed away inside it. He could deny it all he liked.

But Bodie was denying me nothing right now as his tongue knotted up with my own, as his lips slicked over mine again and again. As he pulled back a little and then thrust inside me once more, a slippery kick deep in my guts, my own cock twitching in response.

I slid one hand up his shoulder, across toned muscle and bone, then touched the nape of his neck. The hair there was damp with sweat, short, soft, black hair, and I kissed him back, kissed him as deeply as he was kissing me. Felt him thrusting into me over and over, going a little further each time, going in a little harder.

And it was pleasurable. It was good, and graceful, and right, so supremely right. Bodie's body sliding in tune with my own, the bed creaking beneath us in that rhythm I knew so well --but had never before known with him. His cock coming home repeatedly with a wet slap against my arse, everything else slowly fading away around me, leaving just the smell of him, the smell of the both of us, that musky moist sex smell, and the heat steadily growing inside me, the need. The wonder.

"More," I mumbled. "Bodie... now..."

He tore his mouth away from mine and blindly nuzzled at the curve of my neck. I felt the scrape of his teeth on my skin and then he was pulling out of me, pulling almost all the way free and pushing back in again. Pushing in hard. And I could feel him sliding in, every last inch of him, and then grinding to a halt when he could go no more. But I wanted more, so much more.

"Harder," I hissed. "Fuck me, Bodie. Fuck me. Jesus..."

Bodie shuddered and then he was shifting up and shifting me with him, his hands sliding under me, digging into my lower back, and he was thrusting into me as fast and hard as he could, his whole body straining with it, not holding anything back, no longer afraid of hurting me. And there was no pain at all anymore, at least none that I was aware of.

All I could feel was heat and pressure, searing right through me, driving through my veins, making my head and my chest ache. Making my cock burn. Incandescent pleasure, a spiraling sensation. Me clutching the other man as tight to me as I could, wanting to take him with me. Never wanting to let him go again.

Wanting him to come inside me.

My fingers closed on his arse, yanking him into me over and over, and then I knew that he was, as he moaned and stopped completely for a second, then thrust into me quick and hard several times, before crying out jaggedly. His cock was as deep inside me as it could go, gushing hot and hard. And as that liquid heat filled me, I felt my own dick surge, that spiraling pleasure twisting into something so ecstatic that I could hardly stand it.

And then I couldn't. Not any of it. Suddenly, I wasn't aware of anything but the pleasure of that steel-hard prick all the way up inside me, couldn't feel anything but my own cock spilling out what was left of my life's blood, both of us coming and coming and coming. Bodie pumping himself into me and me spurting free all over his stomach and chest. Just before my senses shut down for good.

It seemed a long time later, but was probably only a few moments, before I managed to pry my eyes open a little and found that I had collapsed back down into the bed. That Bodie had sunk down with me, one hand still twisted into my hair and the other lying lax on my shoulder. We were breathing together, one shivering breath after another, and as I glanced down at him, he lifted his head slightly and looked at me with this dazed glazed expression on his face. This well-fucked look that I had seen before, but never appreciated half as much until now.

His cock twitched inside me.

My own twinged against his stomach, as I smiled.

And he fell asleep.

Like it had always been as easy as that. Like it always would be. But, as I said, I shoulda know it wouldn't last. That nothing that good ever does.

'Cause neither Bodie nor the cavalry are coming for me this time. Even the omnipotent Cowley doesn't seem likely to save the day today. Not when they're miles and miles away, no doubt still dealing with the partners of the men I ended up trying to chase down. Bloody stupid thing to do all on my own, without any hope of backup, yeah, but it was my job.

I had run into them by accident, but it was no accident that shot the right front tyre of the Capri out from under me. That ended up with me at the bottom of this steep little hollow, this untouched strand of thick Welsh forest way the fuck off the beaten track, all gold and red and orange like a painter's dream. Lovely autumn leaves and a gray dripping wet sky half hidden above them.

Down in the mud and broken branches and moss, with my ribs and my head all busted up and my left leg trapped between a crooked tree trunk and the weight of the car.

I tasted blood when I finally woke up from the crash, and found I was unable to reach my R/T, which had somehow ended up in a patch of lingering wildflowers well out of arm's reach. Like all those little white and blue flowers hadn't heard the word, that October had already arrived.

And I don't know how long I've been here. How long I was unconscious before then. Just that I'm damp all the way through, and can't stop shivering and can't seem to get my eyes to focus straight for long. That it hurts too much to try.

Just like it hurts that he's not here. That I never told him how beautiful his eyes were. How much I loved him.

That I knew he loved me, too.

Bodie...

And we hadn't made promises. But we had believed them all the same. Especially after that showdown with Cowley, when we stood shoulder to shoulder and didn't let him break us up. When we'd dared him to kick us out, then breathed a common sigh of relief when he hadn't. After which, he'd given us, if not his blessing, then his reluctant acceptance.

Six months ago, almost seven, since that night we first got together but it still feels like yesterday. Like we never had enough time. Enough of each other.

We'd been planning a long weekend away, just the two of us this time. No birds. No worries. Just getting out of the city, getting back to nature, getting together. Doing a spot of fishing and hiking and snogging. Mostly snogging. Maybe even having it off behind some tree out in the middle of nowhere, me with leaves in my hair like some ruddy wood nymph gone to seed and Bodie smirking at my concerns over the thought of anyone having heard us. Not really caring if anyone heard us.

No one can hear me here. Even if I could find the strength to shout anymore. It's a quiet woods, just the sound of the rain coming down from that gunmetal sky; we could have fucked here quite comfortably. Rain or shine. Bodie wouldn't have minded the rain. Whether it was his arse ended up down in the mud or mine.

Yeah, it hurts, but that hurts more. Knowing we'll never be together again. Knowing that his heart might turn completely to stone once I've gone.

That he deserves so much better.

So much more.

So much more than even what I could give him. More than just these last six months, bloody wonderful as they were. Too bloody short.

Rain is dripping into my face from the leaves above me and I'm so thirsty. So tired. It's getting dark out now, or maybe it's 'cause I can't hardly keep my eyes open anymore. I need him so bad. I don't want to die. I don't want to leave him all alone, no one to guard his back, no one to buy him Swiss rolls. No one to tease him out of a bad mood or make him do his reports or lick him, suck him, fuck him all night long. No one to kiss him in the morning, bad breath or not, and grouse about making him breakfast once again. About him stealing all the sheets. About not getting a break. About how lousy the job can be.

The job we both wanted, but not as much as we'd wanted each other.

But I can't keep my eyes open at all anymore and no one knows I'm here and no one is coming and I'm cold, so cold, and it's dark here. Dark as a white rug and spilled milk and cool Asian eyes. As a rotting under basement and dust swirling up from broken stone.

I should have told him. Promises or no promises.

I should have told him...

So very cold...

Bodie, please...

Please...

"Ray? Sunshine? Ah, Christ..."

Distantly, I feel hands shake me, hold me, lift me a little. Hear a trembling voice shouting instructions, demands. I still can't get my eyes open, but I know that voice. I know those hands. And it's impossible, but then it always was. It was always hard work and settling into each other and tearing each other's head off sometimes and magic.

It was mostly magic.

Magic and the taste of his mouth as I feel him bend down and kiss me, a long, lingering, wishful kiss --like that ever really works except in fairytales --and there's suddenly more rain on my face, only its salty. It's his. And it has to be real, it has to.

And then I swear I hear Cowley's voice all of a sudden, and Murphy's, and Bodie's still kissing me. Like he doesn't care if they all see, if they all know. Like his stone heart would break if he doesn't.

And I can't die today. I can't.

Because he won't let me. Because he loves me. Because we took a chance.

And because there's no other choice. Not this time.

Not this time.








The End




Originally published in Secret Agent Men 2, Devious Developments Press, 2003












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