By the time Doyle was finished with his part of the clean-up, the skies had darkened again and the wind picked up. He watched the last of the local coppers pulling away, saw that Mac had finally dragged Lucas into the relative shelter of the ambulance for some judicious bandaging, closed his eyes and let out a long, breath.
Clean up? He'd never been so filthy in all his life, and he knew that as soon as he moved, the grit and grime would scratch its way further into his skin. He imagined it burrowing into his pores, the thick streaks of mud and blood becoming a part of him, a gore that could not be washed away…
A stinging slap of icy rain across his face roused him, the bile sliding back down his throat, the darkness slithering away to wait, he knew, until he was asleep, when it would rampage across his subconscious, twist into his dreams.
Christ, what a life. He shook his head, grimaced against the mud-crusted weight of his hair, and turned towards the welcoming lights of the farmhouse, bone tired and weary.
By the time he'd hiked the width of the field, the rain was a wind-tossed downpour that had actually managed to slick away some of the muck and sludge that had coated him for what felt like days. Now he just felt… slimy. He grimaced. He felt like he was covered in slime, and he felt…
Empty. He felt empty and he didn't know how to fix it.
"Agent 4.5, stop! Right. There."
Mere feet from the glorious golden warmth of the building he froze, lifted his eyes to his assailant.
"Ah c'mon Susie, have a heart."
"Mr Cowley's instructions. None of the team over this threshold…"
"… in their field clothes. Get 'em off 4.5."
He considered flirting for barely the second it took him to shiver twice, but there was no heart in him for it, and he wouldn't win anything he tried to start now. Fisher was worse than bloody Cowley half the time… Defiantly holding her gaze he kicked off his trainers, stripped off his jacket, shirt and socks, and then knew with a sinking heart that he'd actually have to sit down on the doorstep to peel away his wet jeans.
Pursing his lips he undid his fly, turned to lower his goose-pimpled body onto the concrete, and found himself sat squarely in front of George Cowley.
"What are you doing, 4.5? You'll catch your death, man."
"Obeying instructions, sir," Doyle managed between clenched teeth, "No field clothes in the house."
"In the house, no, but there's a perfectly good laundry set aside for your ablutions, and the owner has very kindly given us permission to use his bathroom." Cowley frowned from under his umbrella, "What on earth you're doing…"
Without waiting to hear the rest, Doyle scrambled to his feet and into the kitchen. Fucking Susie... She, of course, was long gone, but he raised a chorus of wolf-whistles and cheers from the other agents reviving with tea and towels around the kitchen table. He waved them away impatiently, and followed Murphy's upturned thumb down a dim hallway to the laundry.
He was losing it, on top of everything else he was losing it. Two weeks ago he wouldn't have fallen for that. But two weeks ago his mind hadn't been wandering like it was now, it wouldn't have betrayed him so obviously. Two weeks ago, he had been in control.
The laundry smelled of sweat and damp and an earthiness that you only found far away from his world, in the countryside. There was one towel left, a rummaged-through stack of spare clothes, and another pile of wet ones, atop of which lay a pair of black corduroys. Bodie.
God, but he wanted Bodie. He knew he shouldn't, he knew that was where everything that had gone so right had gone so wrong, but god he wanted Bodie.
Taking the stairs two at a time, his feet heavy even as his rotten, treacherous heart pulled him on, he followed the sounds of streaming water to another door, knocked loudly.
"Just a minute."
"'S me," Doyle announced, half a second after he'd entered the room. Steam enwrapped him, hot and close, and he felt his muscles start to loosen.
"Alright mate?" Bodie's voice rose above the shower, sounding tired but cheerful. And why not? They'd got the bastards, all of them, and not an agent lost, right?
"I'll let you know when the hypothermia's worn off." Doyle wanted nothing more than to pull open the curtain and slide into the shower beside him, to feel Bodie's arms a solid band around his chest, to close his eyes and feel Bodie's heartbeat firm and steady against his own.
And to fuck him into next week.
But that was where this had started, and it was no longer enough. He resisted the urge, knowing that Bodie would welcome it, knowing that to Bodie it meant nothing, and leaned back against the sink instead. "You get that crease seen to?"
"Yeah, it's fine." The water switched off and the shower curtain scraped back. Doyle, who'd been staring at the bathmat, already sodden from half a dozen other agents' drippings, found his gaze wandering slowly upwards.
"What?" Doyle's attention snapped to, to find Bodie staring at him, lips twisted in amusement.
"Is that actually cow sh-"
"Yeah, yeah, alright," he interrupted hurriedly, feeling anew the tight pull of whatever it was smeared down his cheek and neck, remembering exactly what he must look like. "You done in there then, or are you planning on keeping guard for the rest of the night?"
Bodie reached in to switch the water back on, stepped away from the shower, and began an unsuccessful campaign to clear a patch on the mirror. Someone had thought to bring shaving kit, and for a moment Bodie's deep humming while he lathered up was a serene counterpoint to the streams of water on plastic.
Forget it, take what he could, and get over it, that's what he had to do. That's what Bodie did, day by day, hour by hour, minute by lightly-held minute, right?
Doyle poured shampoo liberally over his head, deliberately closed his mind to anything except sound and the sharp apple smell that enveloped him. He rinsed, shampooed again, and then found himself doing it a third time. He used it to soap himself instead, followed that up with genuine Lifebuoy, and finally, reluctantly, turned off the water and reached for his towel.
And there was Bodie, taking his turn perched against the sink, waiting for him. Bodie's gaze started at his feet, travelled inch by inch up his legs. Doyle felt himself grow hard in an instant, saw the expression on Bodie's face as it happened.
"Don't," Bodie said huskily, as Doyle absently clutched the towel in one hand, "I quite fancy you wet… Here, and now, and fast."
The towel dropped to the floor.
Bodie knew, always knew exactly what he wanted, and Doyle gave up any thought of resisting this time. He grabbed an arm and pulled Bodie to him, snaked fingers through his short hair, using it to hold him firmly in place as their lips met, their tongues twined – but that was fine, because Bodie was doing the same thing, clamping them together, his hands on Doyle's bum. The heat built between them, centred low and hard, and urgent, and he gave himself up to it, as he had known he would, with a kind of despair.
Bodie's skin was smooth, all the way down from lips, to throat, to chest to stomach… His legs weren't, lightly haired against the palms of Doyle's hands, until you came to his groin where he was lushly, darkly marked. Doyle was on his knees now, having followed a straight line downwards all the way.
He slid his hands up again, from muscled thighs to rounded buttocks, and opened his eyes just briefly. Bodie's cock was tall and proud, inches from his mouth, his lips, and it sang to his senses – he wanted to feel it on his tongue, against his teeth, his throat…
A livid white scar that he'd never noticed before caught his eye, and he dropped his gaze just slightly to the right, brought a finger to trace its brief length, and felt Bodie look down at him to see what the distraction was.
"Bodie! Doyle! Are you still up there?"
Footsteps slammed against wooden stairs. There was a pounding on the door, and a sudden rush of cold air into the room.
"Christ, what the hell are you doing? You've been ages!" Turner eyed Doyle, whose face was half covered in shaving foam, with the knowledgeable eye of one who has seen it all and done it twice.
"Well someone's gotta teach him how to use a real razor," Bodie drawled, relaxed against the radiator which must surely, Doyle thought, be burning a stripe through the skimpy towel he wore. "Can't 'ave him frightening the sheep with his nicks and cuts, can we?" Bodie's hands were clasped, oh so innocently, in front of him.
"Yeah, he's an expert apparently, you should see some of the scars he got when he nearly had a nasty accident shaving…" Doyle heard the twist to his voice, winced inside where no one else could see it, but Bodie caught it anyway, looking at him unfathomably, direct and cool and knowing. If Turner put two and two together…
But Bodie's voice was light, without thought, without care. "'Ey, I'll have you know that was your actual pirates, that was," he retorted, as if it didn't occur to him to pause, to wonder what he'd say if Turner asked which scar, or where it was, or how Doyle had seen it when no one else had.
After all, he didn't need to worry, to wonder at the price. Bodie just didn't care.
"Pirates?" he chimed in with Turner, "Pull the other one old son, it plays 'Drunken Sailor'."
"True story…" Bodie began.
"Save it for the pub, mate," Turner interrupted, "Cowley's stood us all down until eight Monday morning – reports due at nine. Fancy a quick one?"
Doyle concentrated hard on the sudden sharp pain as the razor drew blood, avoided Bodie's eyes. Here and now, and fast.
"Yeah, why not?" Bodie was saying, "Where you going then? Down the village?"
"Nah – McCabe put an end to that at the local darts." Turner rolled his eyes. "Thought we'd try the next place over. On the left as you go into town, Sailor's Reach… no, Seaman's Reach."
"Yeah alright…" Did Bodie sound slightly strangled? Probably not. Doyle scraped the razor determinedly down his cheek. "Meet you there then?"
"Not unless you're gonna walk the five miles, your car's still short two wheels and a windscreen."
Doyle groaned. The night stretched in front of them, full of other people, full of wanting Bodie, and full now, most of all, of the risk of being found out.
"I'll give you a lift," Turner was saying, "If you get a move on. You're wasting good drinking time, you know."
"Alright, keep your hair on," Bodie stepped elegantly into a pair of dark jeans, and Doyle realised with a catch to his breath that he hadn't seen him put on underwear first. He closed his eyes, felt the razor nick another plane of skin, and he knew.
This had to end.
Doyle froze, arrested by the simplicity of the thought, the clear lines of it cutting through everything else like a laser through the misted light of the room. In the mirror his face suddenly reflected sharply back at him, Turner and Bodie just blurs swaying in the background.
"So did your boy tell you what Susie did to him then...? Only had him half naked in front of Cowley…"
"Doyle half naked?" Bodie raised an eyebrow at him, "Only half naked, Doyle? I'm disappointed in you…"
Yes. Now he knew what he had to do. It all. Ended. Here.
Inside the air was blue with smoke, but the fug was warm, dry, and surprisingly hospitable. Doyle joined the table of CI5 agents, pulling up a couple of chairs and glowering at Fisher as she grinned unrepentantly in his direction. A chorus of Wey-heys greeted him, and he rolled his eyes to the ceiling and scowled as good-naturedly as he could manage.
Bodie had gone to get the first round in, and Doyle surveyed the room, his gaze sharp, assessing, as every other agents' had been. Two obvious exits leading straight outside, four other doors, twelve windows. A mixed clientele, mostly harmless looking – a couple of very low-key types, probably doing some light dealing to a known customer base, nothing to concern CI5. And a very, very clear theme to the décor.
"What is this place, anyway?" he asked Murph, who was slumped beside him looking pensive.
"Don't ask me," Murphy roused himself, and turned to examine their surroundings. "Smuggler's delight I should think."
Bodie's delight too probably, Doyle thought, that should make it easier, distract him. The woodwork shone a rich mahogany, there was a fireplace, above which rested shelves of old books, and the walls were covered with ancient and undoubtedly genuine sailing gear: a ship's wheel bizarrely cracked almost in two through the centre, various brass instruments hanging loosely and inviting touch, and an actual figurehead, a bare-breasted lovely with sweeping hair, her hands resting where lush thighs should have begun, jutting out over the bar. In fact, as Doyle watched, Bodie stepped back, balancing three pints, and looked up appreciatively.
That's it Bodie, go back to your girls, go back to their charms, their wiles, their pull. Leave me alone.
A dark, foam-topped glass was placed in front of him, and Bodie squeezed around Murphy and dropped onto the end of the bench, jostling Lewis and forcing everyone to move up a few inches.
"What's that then?" Doyle asked, eying its colour dubiously. Certainly not Guinness, but surely not far off.
"Local brewery," Bodie said approvingly, "Damn The Lighthouse."
"I swear – that's what it's called."
Doyle took a swallow and winced. "'s like treacle."
"Ah stop whinging and get it down your neck. Put hairs on your chest, that will."
"Not something we all 'ave to work at," he retorted. There, he could do it. They could go back to being themselves again.
And sure enough, Bodie had turned to Murph, had raised an eyebrow at him.
"You're a bit quiet. Whassup with you then?"
"You look like you lost a pound and found tuppence, mate" Doyle chimed in, encouraging.
"Come on then," Bodie grinned, "Tell Uncle Bodie and Uncle Ray a-all about it."
"Sod off, Bodie."
"Well that's not very nice," Turner interrupted from across the table, "What's the matter Murph, got girl problems?"
Murphy shot him a look that had quelled many a hardened villain, but to Turner, being CI5 as well as being Turner, it was water off a duck's back. "I reckon Murph's got a girl back in town who's not best pleased with him right now. All wound up and no chance of getting his end away, eh Murph?"
Doyle, who had helped Murphy make excuses to his last girlfriend not a week before, glanced questioningly at him, and caught the flicker of a look in the direction of… He checked and then double-checked. Fisher? And Fisher was staring at the table, for all the world unconcerned with the conversation around her. So that was how the land lay - and there he'd always had Susie down as a right ball-breaker. Well, Murph was a good bloke, and someone on the squad should end up happily ever after.
"Ah, c'mon Jack," Bodie was saying, slinging one arm around Murphy's shoulders, "That's no way to talk to the love-lorn."
Murphy, Doyle noted with amusement, had blushed a deep red, but he had also started to shred a beer mat, and after the week's high tension that was not likely to be a good sign. He kicked Bodie under the table, who lifted his head immediately and followed the casual turn of his gaze to Susie and then back to Murph. He was rewarded with a raised eyebrow, and a twist of the lips. But which way would Bodie go? He could decide to play cupid to the most unlikely couples, but then again he could be the world's worst tease when he was in the mood.
"I'll show you both "best pleased" if you don't put a sock in it," Murph growled, causing Bodie to remove his arm post-haste. "It's been a long week for those of us actually working, some of us might be justified in feeling tired."
Which of course set the lot of them off, and Doyle was able to join in the communal moan, a part of it all, of the scene being enacted all across England right now, workers let loose from the confines of the week, giving vent to their complaints about the boss, about each other, letting their hair down, ready to relax and enjoy a weekend to themselves at long last. And if their group was a little louder, their laughter a little more desperate, well there was, after all, a difference between what they did and what people thought civil servants did.
Except that when he looked up, Bodie's eyes were on him, and they were dark against the brilliance of the pub crowd, and there was a smile on his lips.
"Your round, isn't it mate?" he dimly heard Turner say over the babble of voices. And then Bodie's glass was being settled pointedly on the table in front of him, encircled still by Bodie's hand, fingers that had barely an hour ago been making free with Doyle's body.
"Come on Doyle, a man could die of thirst around you. Lighthouse please."
"Yeah, alright…" he stood up, gripping the glass close to the rim, deliberately and carefully not touching Bodie, making himself look around the table, take orders from the rest of them with the traditional rolled eye and heavy sigh.
He could do this.
After a moment, Bodie too turned away from the huddle, eyed Doyle speculatively. "Not bad this place, is it?"
Doyle nodded slowly. "I've seen worse."
"Yeah, and most of 'em are down my way," Bodie tapped the table, near his hand. "Could do with a week down 'ere you know, not just a poxy weekend."
"Be quite cosy in the winter too. Yeah, it's a bit of alright this place," Bodie nodded. "All those books up there," he pointed to a long line above the mantelpiece, "Are actual ships logs from the 1800s – a couple of 'em are even earlier. Must be worth a fortune…"
It was coming, Doyle could feel it as though it had left Bodie's breath before the words themselves, rushing out at him in its eagerness to be said, to be accepted, to change the night from this to that.
"We could always get a room up here for the night. Better than that poxy B and B they put me in."
"It's a hotel, Bodie." It's illegal in a public place, Bodie. "Be a sight more expensive than letting Cowley pick up the tab where we are now."
"Yeah, but think about it, we could just stagger upstairs in the wee small hours instead of having to beg a lift and go back out in that." He gestured to the nearest rain-slashed window. "Ah, go on, Ray, you know you want to."
And he did, he did want to, but he'd made his decision. "Nah, mate, be quicker to head off tomorrow from where me gear is. You should though." He stood up suddenly, needing to get away, not wanting to hear with one ear how the case had nearly ballsed up, or to feel the heat of Bodie on his other side. "Goin' for a piss," he muttered vaguely, and headed at random for one of the doors in the back.
But on a night like this it called to him.
Images flashed across the dark, things that weren't there, things that should never have been there. Himself, hands pulled behind him, tied to the end of Bodie's bed, so that he was standing with the cold, elegant iron of the bedstead at his back. Bodie paced in front of him, his hot gaze the perfect counterpoint, and Doyle's cock strained towards him, impossibly hard. But Bodie hadn't been playful, hadn't just wanted him. Bodie had been angry. Bodie had been furious at the near miss they'd both had that day. And god help him, that had just made Doyle even harder.
"What you doing out here then?" Bodie's voice practically bounced from the walls, and Doyle started, pulled from his thoughts by the cheer of it.
It was wrong.
He shook his head, turned uneasily back to his study of the night. "Fancied some fresh air," he hedged, "Away from that lot."
"Yeah, they can get a bit much sometimes." Bodie leaned in to his ear, lowered his voice, "Let's go home, eh? Back up to town?"
Say it out loud. "Nah, not tonight."
"Why not?" Bodie sounded surprised, taken aback. As though he would always go along with it, with whatever Bodie wanted…
"Not in the mood."
"Ah, you're not gonna brood about earlier are you? Lucas jumped the gun, like the twat 'e is."
"It was you nearly ended up with my bullet through your lug'ole."
"Yeah, but I didn't. And if 'e hadn't been there in the first place, playing the hero…"
"Still…" Because that much was true, Lucas had been playing the hero. But surely if he, Doyle, hadn't been distracted, he would have seen what was about to happen, and they'd have one more live prisoner, one fewer dead hijackers, and be one more man up to strength in the squad for another month.
"Come on Doyle, happens all the time. Bet I can get you in the mood…"
"Didn't take all that long, earlier in the bathroom did it? Unfinished business, mate."
He wasn't going to listen, he didn't have to listen.
"If we went back up to town, Doyle, the things I could do to you…"
"Bodie…" but the catch in his voice betrayed him.
"We could take it slow, I could spend the entire night making sure that you came so hard you couldn't get out of bed for days. Except…"
"…I don't think that's what you want tonight, is it sunshine?"
Bodie always knew what he wanted…
"That we should go home, to your nice, warm flat…"
"No, Bodie." He took a deep breath, let the words slide out into the night, into the shadows and away towards the light that seeped from the edges of the door at the end of the corridor, "That's enough, it's over." The light seemed to grow brighter, and he wanted suddenly to be back inside, back with the glow and the shine of the Friday evening crowd.
"What?" Bodie was looking as stunned as he'd ever seen him, his mouth open, eyes wide, caught an unexpected broadside.
Like a kid who's had his toy taken away from him Doyle thought, unforgiving. Never mind, there were plenty of toys back in the lounge, soft yielding toys who would positively swoon to do whatever it was that Bodie wanted them to do.
"I said it's over. Done. Finished." He made his voice harsh, "I've had enough."
"You don't mean that Doyle, you're just wound up over the case and…"
"No!" he shook his head, "I mean it Bodie. No more." He turned to shoulder past him, to push his way back to the bar, but Bodie was blocking the corridor, a solid immovable object, his face hardening.
"What's this about, eh?"
"I don't owe you anything."
"Your life, a few dozen times over."
"Repaid with interest."
"Christ Doyle, even your birds get some excuse out of you!"
Trying too hard, Bodie, I don't buy it. "Yeah, but you're not exactly a bird, are you? Game's over, Bodie."
"What game..?" But Doyle was gone, taking advantage of the slight uncertainty that he heard, the loosening of Bodie's stance. There was something in him that winced at that, that felt Bodie's confusion twining around his own and pulling them, impossibly, closer together, but he set his heart against it, strode towards that light instead.
Back at the table Lucas was holding forth about some sailing trip he'd taken around the coast of Turkey in a… a gulet? Doyle stood behind them all for a moment, listening, and curled his lip. Sun and sand and women, he thought, now one of Bodie's stories was worth a dozen…
And there he was, back to Bodie barely minutes after telling him that he'd had enough.
It wouldn't work, he had to leave. Casting about desperately, he spotted Fisher making her way past the bar to the ladies', hands in her jacket pockets, looking more casual in the borrowed clothes than he'd ever seen her. Of course you had to have respect for a woman who could do as much damage as she could while wearing high heels, but what Murph saw in her… Hardly a delicate flower, their Susan.
He glanced back at the table, saw Murph turn his head away quickly, and looked back in the direction Fisher had taken. Yeah, someone in the squad should have their week end well.
The gents' was off the same corridor as the ladies', and under that guise again, as Susie strolled back in his direction, he waylaid her neatly, then did nothing but smile gently and stare into her eyes.
"Now Doyle…" she gazed back at him warily, raising her hands placatingly. "It's not like you haven't done far worse, you know."
"Ah," he tutted at her, shaking his head slowly, "Susie, Susie, Susie." Holding her eyes, still smiling, he slid his own hands into the pockets of her jacket, and used it to pull her forward, pressing their bodies together. He leaned in, nuzzled her cheek in a kiss, and whispered in her ear, "It may not be tonight, it may not be tomorrow, but you know your time will come…"
"Excuse me madam, is this man bothering you?" Murph's voice sounded behind him, and he released Fisher with apparent reluctance, tucking his hands into a pair of jeans two sizes too big for him and smiling innocently up at them both.
"He couldn't bother his own granny," Fisher replied scornfully over her shoulder as she was led away, but Doyle noticed that she let Murphy hook in a chair from the table behind, and leaned in close to hear what he was saying. The baleful glares they shot in his direction he took as a bonus – it was the car keys in his pocket that sent relief flooding through him, that promised escape and home and safety.
He carried on to the gents', actually needing it now that he'd thought about it, frantically trying to remember which car Susie had pulled from the pool last. If he had to he'd try every last one in the car park, but it would be so much easier if his brain would work and he could just remember.
"You thought this was a game?"
Too slow. He shouldn't have stopped, he should have carried on straight out the door once he had the keys. He took a breath, did up his fly, and turned to the row of old enamel sinks on the opposite wall. Bodie, he saw, was standing squarely in front of the doorway. He could either hope that someone would come in, or that it wouldn't take too long to flatten him once the first punch flew.
"Not any more." He rinsed his hands through the lukewarm water, dried them on the towel that hung limp and grey over the radiator. He'd need good grip, probably. "It stopped being a game two weeks ago." Damn, he hadn't meant to say that. Tired, he was too tired for this.
"Two weeks…" and there was, of course, the dawn of understanding across Bodie's face. His eyes widened, his nostrils flared, his head tilted upwards, just slightly, as comprehension warred with… with relief? Except that it didn't, because Bodie didn't understand, he didn't know how it felt.
"Ray, that was…" Bodie stopped, backtracked in whatever he had been about to say. "It was never a game, Ray."
He shook his head. "No, no it wasn't, was it? Took it very seriously, you did, didn't you?"
Bodie's face tightened. Doyle felt threat fill the air and he took half a step backwards, wanting the wall at his back. But Bodie's blow, when it came, wasn't with fists, wasn't even with words. He stepped straight up to Doyle, let him raise his hands to push him away, and reached into his jeans pockets, just as Doyle had done to Susie. And when he pulled back, the car keys were, of course, clutched tight in one fist.
"You're not going anywhere until you talk to me."
"You bastard, you've got no right." Doyle did push him then, advancing as Bodie retreated in his turn.
"I do if you're throwing around accusations like that, sunshine. Because if I did take it seriously, then it was because you wanted me to."
And that was what froze Doyle, what stopped him and rooted him to the spot. Of course Bodie was absolutely right. "And that," he said, gaze steady, "Is why this finishes now. Now give me the keys…"
Behind them the door swung open, a young man in a rumpled suit stepped into the room, and Bodie smiled, humourlessly. "I don't think so, Ray," he said, and was gone.
Doyle scowled, retreated to a cubicle as the stranger eyed him suspiciously before turning to the urinal. He pulled the toilet lid down and sat, eyes shut, listening to the hiss and splash of the man's piss, the gurgle of the drain, the closing of the door. He let his heart-rate slow, tried to slow his mind from its shaky racing as well. Bodie wanted a fight, did he? Well he, Doyle, was not inclined to give him one.
He stood up again, unlocked the door. All he needed was another set of keys.
"Thought you'd fallen in," Lucas chanced his arm, something making him suspect Doyle's temper, and Doyle tilted his head at him. Let them think he was feeling ropey, be fewer questions that way when he vanished for the night. Lucas wouldn't have keys though, not with his arm bandaged like that, it was Mac he'd have to finagle for their car. Either way it meant dealing with both of them. He turned his gaze to Murphy, half-surprised that he hadn't slipped away with Susie already. Now they surely wouldn't need even one car tonight. Right, Murph it was.
Bodie appeared again, dropped into the seat at the end of the table with a quick assessing look in his direction.
"No luck, then?" McCabe asked him, and Bodie scowled.
"Some people don't know a good thing when they have it."
"Ahh, she didn't fall for your charms," Lewis chimed in, mock-sympathy from the man with a wife at home in Putney.
"Oh, she fell alright, reckon she was scared of getting out of her depth."
What depth? Sod off, Bodie, if you think that transparent crap is gonna work… "Maybe she was worried there was something down there that would bite."
But it came out in one of those strange moments of communal hush, and somehow everyone was looking at him, and he wondered if he'd sounded as bitter as he'd felt. Bloody hell…
"So when did you run into pirates then?" Turner asked Bodie, changing the subject abruptly, bizarrely.
"Pirates?" Bodie asked, pint hovering halfway between table and mouth, "What pirates?"
"You said something to Doyle about pirates, back at the farmhouse."
And Bodie's head swivelled slowly in his direction, a gleam began in the depths of his eyes, one that only Doyle would recognize for what it was. A challenge then. What was he up to now, what was this story that he thought it would stir Doyle, make him change his mind perhaps? Or perhaps just show him, once and for all, that it was Bodie who called the shots and always would? In the midst of the Friday night crowd, Doyle met and held his gaze, just a man, egging his best mate on, right?
He looked like a pirate himself, Doyle thought, dark and rakish, black moleskin waistcoat undone over a loose cotton shirt. Whatever had made him pick that combination from the pile? "That scar on your…" he paused, swallowed. Not what he wanted to draw people's attention to, "…leg."
But Bodie took a long pull at his pint and licked his lips, looking as relaxed as Doyle felt tense. "Ah, yeah…"
"Just another one of your stories, right mate? It'll be cannibals in darkest Africa next."
"Oh these blokes were real alright," Bodie began, leaning back on the bench, surveying his audience. Their attention assured, he toyed with a bar mat in one hand, and took another mouthful from his pint, just enough to raise their expectations a tad higher.
"We'd been on leave in Singapore…"
"On leave?" Doyle snorted inelegantly, "This was a legitimate job then was it?"
Bodie had the grace to look briefly sheepish before he shot a smug glance around the table, "… taking in some of the local attractions, and this mate of mine said he knew someone who had a boat heading round the coast for a few days, did we want to head over to the islands, you know, see what was there. Why not, right?"
Doyle had a brief vision of Bodie, young and tan, and half-dressed in the Pacific sunshine, swinging between the sheets of some sleek sailboat. Despite himself he crossed his arms on the table and leaned forward slightly. He had to look normal, and listening wasn't going to hurt.
"So we set off, and everything's great. She's a beauty, fifty foot and well-stocked. Turned out Harris had connections, you know? So there we were, third day out, full of beer and bonhomie, and this powerboat turns up beside us…"
"Out of the blue?" suggested Lewis innocently, and Bodie nodded briefly in his direction.
"That's right, out of the blue. So I've been taking a turn at the wheel…"
"'Ey, Bodie! A pirate walks into the bar with a ship's wheel down his trousers…"
"Ah Christ, Mac, give us a break…"
"… and the barman looks at him, and he has to ask. He says, 'That looks bloody uncomfortable, why've you got a ship's wheel down your trousers?"
Bodie was wincing, had raised one hand to half-cover his face. "Mac…"
"'Aahhr,' the pirate says, 'It's driving me nuts.'"
The table erupted, having been well-lubricated for just such a moment, and absent-mindedly Doyle drank from his own pint again. Bodie's eyes had crinkled in wry amusement, he looked as if he was thoroughly enjoying himself, Doyle thought, lit up from inside with it all. Didn't matter though, he wasn't going to fall for it.
"Go on then," he said, breaking every rule he'd ever made about encouraging his partner. Whatever Bodie wanted to tell him, he could just get on with it, get it over with. "This boat pulls up beside you…"
"This boat pulls up beside us," Bodie agreed, catching Doyle's eye for a moment, "With a dozen bloody ugly blokes on it, and blow me if they don't pull out foot-long knives, the lot of 'em, and board the yacht."
"You're making it up!" Turner declared scornfully, "Pirates on the high seas!"
"Straight up," Bodie assured them, "Found out later it's quite the enterprise round that way. Bit bloody late then, mind you."
"When was this? How old were you?" Susie asked, drawn from her conversation with Murph.
Bodie tilted his head to one side, considering, "Nineteen? Twenty? Something like that. So anyway. We're outnumbered two to one, and none of us has a shooter to hand. They kicked Dieter over the side, just to show they could I think, and that shut the rest of us up pretty quick. Well, except me…"
There was a chorus of groans, and Doyle made sure his was the loudest. His heart had sped up just a little, he could feel his breathing coming ever so slightly faster. A twenty year old, half-naked Bodie out to save the world…
"In the heat of the moment I was just stupid enough," he looked down self-deprecatingly, surely knowing the effect that look had on Doyle, all dark lashes against pale skin, that quirk of the lips. "To try something with the leader, and of course it took seconds for a couple of his mates to have me down on my knees in front of him, and my hands tied to the rail behind me."
Doyle's breath caught, and he ducked his head down for a moment, closing his eyes. A twenty year old, half-naked Bodie, bound, on his knees in front of… Damn his partner, of all the things to bring up in public… Because Doyle's cock had sprung erect at the thought of it, at the idea of being tied and helpless, and Bodie knew it. Something warm rubbed solidly but briefly along his inside thigh, under the table, and he clenched his jaw. Bloody hell. But Bodie was still talking.
"So just to show how tough he was, the leader slides his knife down the front of me shirt…"
There was nothing to do but to sit it out, to pretend that everything was fine, that this was not the end of his world.
"… and slices through it like butter. Buttons everywhere, right, and I thought me last minute had come…"
Doyle moved in his seat again, and again there was that fleeting touch on his leg, innocent as a mate stretching out beneath the table.
"Now, they're from somewhere local, and none of us speak the lingo, so we 'ad no idea what they were talking about, but all of a sudden they get even more excited, and I can 'ear another boat in the distance, getting closer fast."
Bodie paused to sup from his pint, didn't look at Doyle at all. "Next thing I know the ugly one in front of me was waving his knife around. He comes this close to ending the good name Bodie forever, the bastards all jump back over the side onto their own boat and they're gone, just like that!"
"What?" there was a chorus of protests, Turner the loudest, "You mean that's it? Come on Bodie, where's the bit where you chase 'em down single-handedly and are given the key to the entire world?"
"All I said was it a was a true pirate story," Bodie shook his head, "I didn't say it was a good one."
Oh, but it had been good, Doyle thought, hating himself, whether it was a true story or not. He took a mouthful of his pint, raised his eyes to meet Bodie's, and this time there was no mistaking that look. He knew he'd got Doyle going, knew the heat and the desire that had flooded him. Did he think that was enough?
"Hey, Susie, what’s long an' hard, and full of seamen?" Lucas dared, full of Dutch courage and two seats away. Unfortunately one of them was Murph's seat, and Murph had a long reach.
"Had this bird though," Bodie continued over the laughter, apparently to no one in particular, "Who liked it a bit rough sometimes…"
Fuck, that was enough! Doyle pushed himself away from the table, drew one hand back, clenched in a fist, and reached out with the other to grab Bodie's shirt. "You lousy…" But he was still too slow, Bodie was on his feet, had caught Doyle's wrist in a bruising grip, and had it twisted behind him in an armlock. People at the tables around them were drawing away, little gasps of alarm rippling out across the room.
"One of yours was she, Doyle?" he heard Turner ask, as Bodie manhandled him through the crowd and out the front door.
"Get the fuck off me, Bodie!" he pulled away, so angry he felt sick, actually thought he might be ill, "What the hell was all that in aid of?"
"Well if you won't listen to me anywhere else…"
"Not funny, Bodie. What if one of 'em cottoned on, eh? Did you think of that?"
"That's not what you're afraid of."
They kept coming back to this.
"And you're not afraid of what we did that night, and you're not afraid of shooting me in the field, and you're not afraid of a little story in front of the lads."
"Is that right?" Doyle asked, heart pounding, "So tell me then, Ms Ross, what am I afraid of?"
"Look at Murph and Fisher." Bodie grabbed him again, dragged him towards the window. The rain, which in any case had been blowing from the other side of the building, had eased to a fine drizzle, and the glass was just slightly blurred, turning the figures and the light inside soft-edged.
"What?" Doyle pulled his arm free, but Bodie just took it again and turned him so that he could see the table of agents, where Susan and Murphy were leaning relaxed now on the bench, heads close together.
"Look at them. They'll make it not just because they want each other, not just because they understand the job. They know each other, you can see it in them."
"Bloody romantic…" There was no guarantee that anyone would make it, not ever.
"I'm right though, aren't I?"
"So I know you."
"You think you know me. You think you know what I want, what…"
"Yeah, I do." Bodie said harshly, "But you know me just as well. Only you don't think about it."
Doyle was silent, fury still coursing through him, but quietened now, waiting for what it all meant to sink through the heat of the words. He didn't think about Bodie? He did nothing but think about Bodie, about how much he needed Bodie. When he closed his eyes, all he saw was the look on Bodie's face as he was thrown to the bed, hands still bound at his back, as Bodie sank deep into him, again and again and again.
He stared into the glass of the window, seeing first the pane, then the colourful blur of people behind it, then the dark of the night reflected over his shoulder. And there was Bodie's reflection too, only Bodie was standing, solid and real, right there beside him.
And Bodie needed him just as much as he needed Bodie.
"We’re both tied, Ray, to the bed, to the boat…"
To each other.
Doyle let out a breath, closed his eyes, and nodded, and when he opened them again Bodie had stepped in close, so that he could feel the warmth, the life, the light of him through his skin to his very bones, rushing through his blood, filling his veins and his heart and his soul.
"And Doyle? If you come home with me now, I'll give you rope, I'll give you cuffs, I'll give you whatever you want. And then I'll bend over for you."
Doyle swallowed at the promise, wanted it, wanted them, knew now that he could have it all. "We'll need those car keys."
"Fisher's or Murph's?" Bodie held up two sets, his mouth widening into a smile, his eyes dancing, and there was the light right there in them, welcoming.
And on the long drive home, Doyle got Bodie to re-tell the story, perhaps slightly elaborated, of the time he'd been captured by pirates…