Blues for a Winter's Day


How could you have been so stupid!

For the hundredth time, he asked the man who stood before him. The answer, of course, was he didn't KNOW how, when a game had suddenly turned serious. He only knew that it had. He moved away from the mirror and berated himself for a fool. There was no one else to blame; it was down to his own stupid behaviour.... He stepped from the sink, pulling the plug as an afterthought, and drying his hands on the damp towel that hung beside it.

He picked up the jacket from the end of the bed, and slipped easily into black leather. Checking the pockets for keys and money, he fastened it. Then, he opened the door, switched off the light and went out into the pre-dawn dark.

The street was badly-lit. He didn't care.

He turned instinctively towards the sea, pulling up his collar against the cold and damp. His hair and clothes were soaked in seconds by the cloying sea-mist that clung to the land like--a jealous lover. The irony of the analogy was not wasted on him. If I'd.... What else would he've done? Could he have done? His world had been torn apart, so he had run....

Here, in this place, he was not known. He was just another person passing through, a solitary traveller--a lost soul, adrift on life's uncharted ocean.... How very romantic...his feet echoed eerily as he paced on.... I must down to the seas again, to the lonely sea...lone-ly, lone- ly...more lonely than ever before...and all because, for one moment, he'd lost control....

He walked on, trying to focus on the sound of the waves, the cold that soaked into his very soul--to forget that fateful moment in time....

It had taken six weeks of coaxing to get the Cow to agree to a festive bash. Those agents who weren't on active duty, or stand-by had taken full advantage of the relaxation of the no-alcohol ruling. Bodie and Doyle were among the fortunate who didn't need to worry about hangovers or early starts the following morning. They had both freely indulged in the drinks available, and as the afternoon wore on, had become less inhibited, joining in with the daftest suggestions for games, from dancing on tables to a marathon walk down the corridor on hands. At half-past four, someone had appeared with a large sprig of mistletoe. Doyle was well on his way to amorous paralysis and had snatched it, using it as an excuse to kiss everyone in sight--including his partner. The threat of Cowley's imminent arrival sobered one or two staff enough to realise that Doyle couldn't be trusted NOT to kiss the Controller. The thought of dire consequences that would result galvanised them into action. Bodie was detailed to take him home....

Bodie had drunk far more than usual, and Doyle was too squiffy to stand unaided. Consequently, when he lolled against his ever-supportive partner once-too-often, Bodie had taken advantage, and returned the kiss--without the excuse of mistletoe. The punch that followed was, he supposed, only to be expected, and when he'd finally gained his feet, Bodie had hailed a passing cab, gone home, packed a bag and fled.... He was drunk, sore and miserable when he checked in the guest-house that evening, and he had cried himself to sleep for the first time in twenty-five years. All over one bloody kiss....

Bodie spent a miserable day wandering aimlessly along the shore, nursing a hangover, a bruised jaw, and a strange pain inside, in the region of his heart....

His whole world had changed, crashing down round his ears.... He gazed out across the iron-grey water, wishing he'd never been born....

He came to with an aching head and an aching hand. Jesus, but that was some kind of party.... It explained the hangover. The hand was something else.... He had a vague recollection of--hitting Bodie. Why would he hit his best mate...something about mistletoe, and kissing everyone-- well, why shouldn't he kiss Bodie? It was Christmas time, season of goodwill to all men, and Bodie was his best friend.... Bodie hadn't objected--had kissed him back...had KISSED HIM BACK, right outside his flat...and Doyle had HIT him. He groaned, massaging his injured fist. Judging from the pain in his hand, he'd hit him hard.... Christ, he might've been knocked unconscious, and I did it...concussion....

Doyle staggered to the kitchen, raided the freezer for an ice-pack. Holding it to his head, he stumbled back to the living room and picked up the phone.

There was no reply at Bodie's flat. Fighting a wave of nausea, Doyle forced down a couple of aspirins and a cup of strong black coffee, before going to find a taxi to take him across to his partner's flat.

The Capri was gone. Doyle frowned, focused on the street. No Capri meant no Bodie. So where was he? Where would Bodie go? Control would know. Doyle went home, found a corner of the sofa that didn't spin too much and called in. Bodie, according to their roster, was at home.... Doyle nearly put his foot in it, thought better of it and thanked the duty officer. Bodie--gone. Had run away--driven his car--might've had an accident--no, not Bodie, he was too sensible to drive when he was drunk--that punch...what if-- oh God, Doyle didn't know where to begin--where would Bodie go if he ever left CI5? If he ever left ME....

Suddenly Doyle didn't care if Bodie got into trouble for not reporting his location--as long as he was safe. He phoned Control again and told the duty clerk very definitely that Bodie wasn't at home, and his car was missing.

"He got drunk yesterday and--hit his head. Just want to make sure the stupid sod's okay. Let me know when you find him...."

"We'll call you," Control promised.

Doyle hung up, dragging himself to the bathroom, was violently sick and returned to the couch feeling miserable and empty. There was a strange ache inside that, he recognised, had nothing to do with his hangover.

The phone called him out of a dream that he forgot instantly.


Doyle put down the receiver. Portsmouth--gateway to the continent.... Bodie leaving, abandoning the car, running away from the pain. Running away from me....

He grabbed his jacket and car-keys, thundering down to the street. He got caught up in the rush-hour traffic, and his Capri crawled out of the capital onto the A3, where he gave it it's head, pushing the accelerator all the way to the floor. Time was ticking by.... Bodie...Portsmouth...going away forever.... Doyle was determined to get him back.... The squawk of a police siren behind him brought him back to the present, and he eased his foot off the throttle and onto the brake, fumbling for his I.D. card....

The stop cost him ten minutes, and he was fuming by the time he got to the city centre. He was on an even shorter fuse when he got lost and had to ask for directions. It was by luck that he wound up on the same road as Bodie's hotel. The silver Capri was parked out front, looking lonely-- unloved. Doyle swung in to the space next to it, and switched off the engine, praying--imploring heaven--that he would find his partner. He got out and walked up the front steps.

The girl who answered the door looked down her nose in disgust at his disheveled appearance. He flashed his identity card, and she called the manager.

Yes, Bodie had checked in the previous evening. Nobody had seen him since he collected his keys.... Doyle's heart sank.

"Can I see his room?"

The manager was only too pleased to help. Doyle was led up to the room at the end of the corridor. A jingle of keys-- the door swung open.... The room was neat and tidy-- impersonal. Doyle felt the pain welling in his chest again. Bodie had been here--his scent still hung in the air. Doyle dismissed the manager, and sat down on the bed, smoothing the pillow. Bodie....

He lost track of time, sitting in the darkness, his mind reeling off possible scenarios: Bodie, on the ferry, leaving England, going God-knew-where; signing up for a war in a tiny unpronounceable corner of Africa; turning his back on civilisation, the squad--and HIM.... I might've busted his jaw....

Bodie sighed heavily. There was another Capri beside his--a surrealistic gold under the street lights. Bloody hell, Doyle...that was all he needed. He toyed with the idea of getting into his own vehicle and driving off; but sooner or later, he would have to face the music. Best to get it over with--and at least Doyle wouldn't kill him in public....

He trod the stairs wearily and pushed open his door, waiting for some kind of--explosion. He paused just inside and listened. The sound of heavy breathing--he couldn't help the lopsided smile. Doyle was asleep on the bed. Bodie's hand hovered over the light-switch....

Let him sleep, his subconscious whispered. He's tired--and it would give him a chance to gather his gear--not that there was much--and get out. Bodie closed the door, and used the light reflected from the street to find his way round the room.

He almost made it, but his heart let him down. Bodie leaned over the bed to brush back an unruly curl with an unsteady finger--one tiny gesture of affection--and a steely hand gripped his, ferocious, cruel.

"About bloody time, too!" snarled Doyle. "What the hell d'you mean by buzzin' off like this?" He twisted his wrist, tightening his hold. Bodie flinched. "Well?"

"Sod off, Doyle." Bodie tried to shake him off.

"I want an explanation."

"Don't hold your breath!" Bodie snapped back, squirming free, and making for the door. His hand reached out--and he was spun round, and shoved forcefully against the wall. The impact drove the wind out of his lungs. Doyle flicked the switch, keeping one hand on Bodie's chest to restrain him.

They both blinked in the sudden brilliance, and Bodie was startled to see that Doyle's eyes were red-rimmed. The bloody idiot was still half-cut, and he had driven down from London--

"All right. What're you doing here?" Doyle demanded. "You're supposed to be in London. Cowley'll have your hide when he finds you buggered off without notifying Control."

Bodie tried to step forward, and was thrust back against the wall, half-lifted onto his toes, as Doyle caught a fistful of his polo-neck.

"I've got three days leave due," growled Bodie. "I wanted some peace and quiet--"

Doyle pushed him higher, glaring at him balefully.

"So you just take off, pissed out of your skull, and wind up here--and you're damned lucky you weren't picked up by the local cops. If you'd had an accident--"

"I can hold my liquor, Doyle, which is more than I can say for some people--" His voice trailed off, and his eyes dropped. Trouble was, wherever he looked, Doyle filled his vision. His heart hammered against his ribs.

He's scared, thought Doyle, as he shifted his hand a little. He could feel the pounding in Bodie's chest, and knew his own heart was thundering like a runaway train. Bodie-- afraid--of me--in case I hit him again? Must've really hurt him--I didn't know what I was doing....

"How's your jaw?" he asked curtly.

"Fine," lied Bodie. It wasn't; when Doyle set out to deck someone, they usually didn't get up again. His jaw and chin were aching, and the pain had spread to his throat, making speech difficult.

"Liar!" Doyle's free hand came up and tipped his chin to reveal the darkened swelling. He caught his breath as he surveyed the damage. "Put some ice on it."

"It's all right." Bodie squirmed, still plastered against the wall. "Leave it alone!"

Doyle was probing it, unsteady fingers testing the dimensions of the bruise.

"Come on, you don't want to ruin your face--scare the girls away...."

Doyle's eyes caught and held his partner's. "I didn't mean to hit you."

"Didn't you?" The showdown, thought Bodie. Take my lead off him--might be able to salvage something from all this.

"You caught me by surprise," Doyle accused. "I lashed out before I thought...."

"I deserved it," Bodie allowed with difficulty, still held in Doyle's punishing grip.

Doyle shook his head.

"It was my fault. I didn't mean to hit you...." He looked at his hand, grasping the dark sweater, and loosened his fingers. "Don't go," he pleaded. "Don't leave, Bodie."

Bodie swallowed and glanced away. The man knew him so well.

"What makes you think I'd go?"

"I know you," Doyle replied simply. "You get hurt, you go off, and lick your wounds in private--" And maybe this time, because I hurt you, I wondered if you'd come back. "I'm sorry."

"All right, you've made your apology, we've established that I'm not going anywhere--" Bodie pulled his shirt into place. "Now bugger off, and leave me in peace." He saw the fleeting expression of despair on the elfin face, quickly masked as Doyle pulled himself together.

"If that's what you want...."

What I want--what I want is to kiss you again, thought Bodie, but I've got more respect for my teeth. Doyle was looking round, eyeing the room.

"There anywhere I can get a meal before I go back?"

"Eh? Oh, there's a pub not far from here." Bodie just wanted him to go.

"Let me buy you a drink, show there's no hard feelings...."

Bodie had been out all day, walking and thinking--he was exhausted, he wanted to get to bed. One look at his partner's face decided him. He heaved a sigh, and checked his pockets for his keys.

Doyle was almost out on his feet, as Bodie piloted them back to the hotel. Up the front steps, the wiry body sagged against him for the umpteenth time, and it took a full two minutes to get the key into the lock, and manoeuvre his uncoordinated partner into the hallway. The management didn't extend to a night porter--barely made a landlord, Bodie thought sourly--so he had to struggle with his burden alone. After the third attempt on the first flight of stairs failed, he tumbled Doyle over his shoulder and carried him up, swearing, and muttering dire curses at his other half's stupidity.

From his somewhat precarious position, Doyle grinned and decided the trip was worth the aggro....

Bodie shoved the bedroom door to with his foot, and dropped Doyle gently to his feet. Time to assume his too-drunk-to- go-home-tonight role, the Doyle knees buckled, and he sank to the mattress, slouching against Bodie's solid bulk. It felt comfortable.

Bodie pushed him back on the bed and tugged off his boots. Doyle sighed dramatically and smiled dopily. He closed his eyes. Jeans were the next to go and he fought to keep control as Bodie worked over him. When he was pulled up to have his jacket removed, he sneaked a look through his lashes at his colleague. Bodie's jaw was almost black. Without realising, Doyle sat up and brushed his lips against the bruise.

Bodie jumped, more from surprise than pain. Doyle slid an arm round his neck.

"Was kissin' it better for you," he whispered. A little pressure behind the nape brought Bodie's head closer and Doyle licked his lips, homing in on the swollen flesh. When Bodie flinched again, he crooked his elbow more, and used his body-weight to draw Bodie down with him. "Didn't mean to hurt you, Bodie. Liked it when you kissed me...." He touched his tongue-tip to the blackened skin and Bodie's head jerked at the discomfort. "Don't you want me to kiss it?"

Bodie swallowed.

"It hurts," he objected in a small voice.

"Where doesn't it hurt then?" asked Doyle huskily.

Bodie's worried eyes met his. A tentative finger pointed to the pale forehead. Doyle eased him close and kissed the furrowed brow.

"Here." Bodie's finger dabbed his nose. Doyle kissed the pert little nose.

"Here's not bad...." Bodie was pointing to his lower lips, away from where his tooth had snagged. Doyle's mouth covered his, then released him. Bodie kissed him back immediately, holding his head with both hands and ignoring the ache the impromptu oral exercise started in his injured jaw. He buried his face in Doyle's tangled hair, held by sure, strong hands.

"You gonna sit there all night," Doyle murmured into his ear, "or are you going to get your clothes off and come to bed?"

Bodie slid out of the embrace and sat up. He looked distinctly troubled.

"It's only a single bed...."

Doyle grinned.

"Take your clothes off and I'll show you some improvisation...."

Bodie heaved a contented sigh and opened his eyes. Across the room, he could see the grey light filtering through the gap in the curtains. Slowly, he raised his arm and checked his watch; almost seven-thirty. He swallowed with difficulty. The second day of his leave.... He stretched as well as he was able, and the arm around his throat tightened as he intruded on his partner's dream. There was no chance of getting away now without disturbing him further. Doyle was plastered against his back, his other arm bound securely around Bodie's waist. He wriggled, brushing his buttocks across the wiry nest of Doyle's groin. The small movement woke his partner earning him a kiss on the shoulder and a cuddle which nearly throttled him.

"Told you we could get two adults into one single bed if we worked together," Doyle spoke softly. "All it takes is a bit of skill and a little imagination...."

Bodie's imagination had been working overtime as he slept, supplying all sorts of erotic dreams, centred around the body pressed intimately against his. He tried to roll over- -Doyle wiggled backwards until he fetched up against the wall to give him room--and looked at the man he had called "friend" and "partner" for the past few years.

Doyle read his mind--even thoughts that hadn't quite rationalised themselves yet. The how and why of it would wait until later, when they could think clearly. For now, the fact that they were together was reason enough, if it were needed.... Doyle bent his head to kiss his lover's lips.


Bodie winkled an arm round the slender waist, and pulled his mate down on top of him, palming the iron-hard buttocks.

Doyle purred contentedly and rubbed a stubbled cheek against a pale shoulder.

"When we get back to London--" He heard Bodie speaking and smiled, as his partner outlined his plans for the remainder of his leave. When they got back, he had his own ideas about the next forty-eight hours, and how they would be spent.

"Are you listening to me?" Bodie smacked his rump.

Doyle yelped.

"Course I am!"

"I said, what're you doing tonight? Only I thought, if it's nothing special, we could go out--a meal somewhere...."

"What about an intimate dinner for two at my place. Roast a duck--bottle of plonk--" Doyle pushed himself upright to study his partner's face. Bodie was drooling.

"What's for afters?" he asked.

Doyle met his gaze steadily.


Bodie's hands slid to the back of his head and pressed him to where their mouths could meet.

"That's all right, then," he murmured. "Shall I dress?"

Doyle snorted inelegantly and chuckled filthily.

"No, mate. Come as you are!"

Cowley phoned that evening.

"Have you located 3.7?"

"Er, yes, sir," Doyle answered with some difficulty. Bodie was busy chewing on his ear, while his fingers were teasing the swirls of hair on his chest.

"You're both on stand-by as of tomorrow at 08.00 hours. Make sure that Bodie knows."

"Yes, sir," Doyle replied dutifully, before hanging up.

"STAND-BY," he moaned. Bodie shut him up with a kiss.

"Well, don't just lie there," he grumbled. "If I've got to be on duty over Christmas, I want my dinner early...."

"That's all you think about, your stomach," complained Doyle in mock aggrievance.

"Not all," Bodie disagreed, stroking Doyle's tawny body. "This was what I had in mind...." He gazed at his friend earnestly. "Did you mean what you said this morning?"

Doyle grinned up at him.

"Wouldn't be here with you like this if I didn't. Come on, you idiot--" He softened the insult with a gentle kiss. "You want it and I got it...."

"Oh, very lyrical," laughed Bodie, as he wriggled down on top of his bedmate. "Now, where was I, before we were so rudely interrupted...."

A plaintive wail broke in on his dream. Doyle rolled over and opened one eye, patting the bed for confirmation: Bodie was gone. The song rose above the sounds of the shower running and the kettle warming. Doyle smirked up at the ceiling; at best, his partner's voice was passable--at the moment, it was more like a Sudanese cat-strangling contest-- and the cat was winning....

For the sake of the neighbours and his own sanity, Doyle got out of bed, and decided to put his lover out of his--and everyone else's--misery.

Bodie had worked up a fine lather and was covered from head to toe in white froth when Doyle stole in on him. A necessary cruelty, Doyle told himself virtuously as he flicked the tap over to cold.

Bodie hit top C rather faster than the songwriter, or nature, intended.

"CHRIST!" he shrieked, rubbing the shampoo from his eyes. "I'LL HAVE YOUR BALLS FOR THIS, DOYLE!"

Doyle refrained from reminding him he already had, and went off to make the coffee.

Bodie emerged, suitably chagrined, draped in a robe, and toweling his hair vigorously.

"Why couldn't you just say you didn't like the song," he pouted, "instead of trying to give me heart failure?"

"Wouldn't've worked--and at least it shut you up," retorted Doyle. "Some people are still trying to sleep." He slid a reviving mug of coffee over the table. "Got anything special in mind for today?"

Bodie leered, revenge foremost in his thoughts.

"Was just going to hang around here--if you've got no objections...."

Doyle sidled over and looped an arm round the still damp neck. He kissed the darkened jaw softly.

"Spend all Christmas here if you want...." he invited.

I'd spend the rest of my life with you, Bodie thought as he groped his lover's backside, if you'd let me.

Doyle relaxed against him, shamelessly naked, still crusted with sweat and semen.

"Yeah, and let's hope it's a quiet Christmas...." Bodie hugged his mate.

"Quiet being the operative word," snorted Doyle, freeing himself from the crushing embrace. "I don't mind you using my shower, but I object to your caterwauling in my bathroom." He eyed Bodie suspiciously. "Besides--BLUES, for Christmas? This is supposed to be a season of joy...." He faltered, wondering if perhaps they had made a terrible mistake. "What've you got to be so depressed about?"

Bodie pressed a coffee-flavoured kiss to his mouth. There was a twinkle in his eye as he spoke.

"Nothing, love," he smiled. "Not a bloody thing!"

-- THE END --

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