A Practical Proposition


"You're doing this on a dare, right?" Doyle shot a sidelong glance at his partner, as Bodie signalled right to overtake some kind of road-train.

"Nope." The Capri swept past the pantechnican effortlessly. "It's all legal, legit. and above board." He turned his head, his eyes glowing strangely in the feeble light from the dashboard in the otherwise benighted car. "Why, don't you trust me?"

"Since you asked -- no." Doyle was unmoved by the fleeting expression of hurt on the handsome features. "Why else won't you let me drive?"

"Because you've had a bad few days, you had a skinful tonight, and I'd like to get to where we're going with my anatomy intact!" Bodie was grinning at some secret devilment, a look Doyle thoroughly distrusted.

"Just where ARE we going, Bodie?" he demanded, toying briefly with the idea of starting an argument to get information from his companion.

Bodie shook his head, refusing to be drawn.

"You'll find out when we get there," then, more seriously, "it'll be a long night -- you may as well get some sleep, Ray."

Resigning himself temporarily to being patient, Doyle tipped the seat back, closed his eyes and let his thoughts wander...


He could see the pale face streaked with tears. Her words echoed round his mind.. "I thought you loved me..."

I DO love you, Ann. Why can't you understand that we had to do what we did: we had to be sure...

But she hadn't listened. She got in the car, and drove away, out of Doyle's life, but not out of his mind -- or his heart....

He wanted to cry, to yell, to hit out and hurt.... He contemplated his hangover ruefully -- Bodie was right about THAT at least -- and reflected that the time-honoured method of getting over being chucked didn't really have so much going for it.

Bodie had taken him to the pub, had tipped pint after pint down his throat, had listened patiently while he poured out his woes and agonised over Ann's departure. And then, when all the recriminations had lapsed into a moody silence, Bodie had looked him full in the face across the grotty, beer-stained table in the corner of the bar.

"I'm glad she's gone."

Doyle couldn't believe his ears.

"I'm glad -- because she was wrong for you, Ray."

"How d'you figure that?" Doyle was wading up through several layers of alcoholic anaesthesia.

"You need someone who understands -- about the job; about what C.I.5. is trying to do; about what we have to face every day of our lives; who can take the odd hours and the fact that we have to do unpleasant things, like spying on people, or killing them. You need someone who can accept the risk of loving you for what you are, not what they would like you to be...."

Doyle sat in stunned silence: Bodie had obviously given this matter a great deal of thought --he had never realised.

"Well," he said lamely, "I'd better start looking again, hadn't I?"

Bodie shook his head, his eyes never leaving Doyle's.

"You don't have to, sunshine. I'm right here."

"Eh?" The beer was definitely getting to him. "That sounds suspiciously like a proposition to me, Bodie...."

"Would you accept, if it were?"

Bodie's eyes were so intensely blue -- beautiful, deep, drown-in-able.. Doyle could feel himself slipping a little.

"I'd have to think about it," he hedged.

"That's alright, we've got all evening...." and Bodie had stood, put a hand under Doyle's elbow to help him to his feet, and slowly led him outside.

"Bodie," Doyle staggered against him as they rounded the corner into the C.l.5. car park, "I thunk about it. Le's run away together 'n' be happy...."

Bodie settled him into the passenger seat gently.

"You got anywhere in particular in mind, sweetheart?"

Doyle shook his head, and grabbed for the dashboard as the car started to spin.

"Nah, anywhere's okay with me, s'long as I'm with you...."

Doyle looked round in alarm. They had stopped at the far end of a tiny car park. The countryside was unfamiliar to him-- a village church, reached by way of a lych-gate dominated his view. Bodie was waiting for him to comment.

"Where the hell are we?"


"Jesus, I don't know -- " Watery sunlight fought its way through the glowering clouds. "Outer Mongolia," snapped Doyle, who was hungry, hungover and homesick already.

Bodie seemed unperturbed by his temper.

"Come on, there's no sense in hanging about." He bounced out of the car, and went round to drag Doyle into the morning.

"Christ," moaned Doyle, "it's freezing!"

Bodie slung his arm over the bony shoulders, and tugged him in close.

"I'll soon get you warm," he promised.

Doyle felt too cold to object, and allowed himself to be hussled towards the church, pressed to Bodie's side. The wooden door swung open at their approach, but he had no opportunity to wonder at it before they were inside, and heading up the aisle.

When his eyes had adjusted to the additional gloom, he realised that they were not alone in the building: a man in a dark suit was standing in front of them. Waiting.

Bodie brought them to a halt at the foot of the altar, and turned to his partner.

"Ray, will you marry me? You all but said you would last night...."

Doyle opened his mouth, to deny any such thing, and had a fleeting recollection of watching Bodie's eyes through a dreamy haze.... From far away, he heard his own voice accepting the proposal....

He looked at the ring on his finger, examining it in the afternoon light. Beside him, in a shy sort of silence, Bodie was piloting the Capri along the road that ran between the mountains. Once in a while, he would glance at his mate, but for a long time, neither of them spoke, as if they were in awe of the occasion.

It was Doyle who made the first attempt at conversation. Having satisfied himself of the authenticity of the unexpected token, he shifted in his seat so that he could watch Bodie more easily.

"Why Gretna, Bodie?"

Bodie shrugged, but his cheeks coloured a little.

"Seemed sort of-- right. You know, all the young couples eloping in the old days...." He flicked a glance at his partner.

"That's something I never suspected." Doyle studied the profile of his -- spouse -- in the twilight of the car. "You're just an old romantic at heart."

Bodie snorted with amusement, and turned his eyes back to the winding road ahead....



"Let's stop at a hotel tonight." Then as he gained his partner's full attention, "you were driving all last night, and most of today --I think we should have an early night. I can drive tomorrow."

Bodie nodded.

"First place we come to that has beds and a bar," he promised.

Doyle opened the door to their room, and stared: the last suite in the place -- and it had a double bed. He wondered about trying it for boucability, but decided against it: if Bodie came in....

A shiver ran down his spine as the reality finally hit him -- he and Bodie were married. This was the first night of their life together -- married couples usually slept together at least on their honeymoon....

Honeymoon.... That was a joke in itself. They were going to get it in the neck from the Old Man when they got back: the pair of them disappearing without a word to anyone, out of recall distance for two days. And then getting MARRIED without following procedure, and without informing Cowley...

Doyle's head was spinning, and he returned to the sitting room to collapse in one of the armchairs.

And where was Bodie? He had vanished as soon as he had registered them. That was twenty minutes ago, at least.

There was a knock at the door. Wearily, Doyle went to answer, and Bodie breezed in with a holdall in one hand, and an ice-bucket in the other. Doyle homed in on the alcohol immediately.

"What's that for?"

Bodie dumped the bag on the floor, and plonked the champagne on the coffee table.

"Celebration -- don't know about you, mate, but I don't get married every day of the week."


Bodie conjured them as if by magic. Doyle came over to join him as he started to open the bottle. The cork popped, and Doyle found himself showered in icy liquid. Bodie was grinning like a lunatic, his thumb now firmly over the bottle-top.

"Accidents will happen..." he eyed the sodden shirt. "You'd better get out of that before you catch pneumonia -- "

"YOU'LL go down with something more terminal if you're not careful," threatened Doyle. All the same, he began to undo his buttons, leaving Bodie to pour what was left of the champagne.

Bodie passed across a brimming glass, his gaze roaming appreciatively over the semi-clad body in front of him. Doyle caught the speculative gleam in the blue eyes.

"Nothing you haven't seen before," he remarked.

Bodie smiled.

"I know, but this time, it's -- different, somehow."

Doyle slouched, shifting his weight to one leg, and tucking a hand into the back pocket of his jeans.

"Come on, then," he challenged. "Get yours off!"

Bodie took a mouthful of champagne.

"You haven't got anything I haven't seen before," Doyle cajoled. "Take your shirt off, Bodie."

Almost reluctantly, Bodie set down his glass, and removed his jacket. Doyle waited as he picked up his drink again.

"And the rest of it. I want to look at you properly -- see what I'm getting!"

"Later," promised Bodie, as he sank into the chair Doyle had vacated earlier. "Let's just -- be together for a while." He gestured to the seat opposite, and closed his eyes.

It occurred to Doyle then, that his partner was probably exhausted, and that if Bodie was allowed to doze off, not even George Cowley would be able to wake him. Spurning the armchair, he crossed the floor and took the glass gently from Bodie's hand. Blue eyes snapped open, puzzled, and Doyle folded down to sit on his companion's lap. He slung his arm round Bodie's neck.

"We could be just as together in the bedroom," he pointed out. "And if you wanted to talk, or sleep -- or anything else, we'd be more comfortable...."

"Raymond Doyle, are you trying to seduce me?" Bodie asked in mock horror. "I'll have you know, I'm a happily married man!"

"Good! Then I can expect you to behave like a gentleman tonight," Doyle reasoned, fluttering his eyelashes outrageously.

Bodie laughed and grabbed him round the middle playfully.

"Don't you know you're enough to tempt a saint to sin?"

He put up one hand to cup Doyle's chin, and turned his partner's face to where he could reach his lips....

To Doyle, the taste was wonderful -- sweet and heady from the wine, and something else, definable only as Bodieness... The kisses became earnest -- Bodie's tongue was delving the depths of his mouth, and Doyle was startled to find how much he was enjoying himself. Since coming from the church that morning, he had been half-dreading their first moments, wondering who and how their love-making would start. He never dreamed that Bodie would be capable of anything approaching romance or tenderness....

"Let's go to bed," whispered Doyle breathlessly as they came apart.

He got to his feet, only to find that his legs were unsteady. He clutched at Bodie for support, and was suddenly tipped, swept up into strong arms, to be carried across the lounge, and into the bedroom.

Bodie dumped him gently on the mattress, and stood, gazing down at him for several moments.

"Get undressed, and I'll bring the bag through."

Doyle nodded, and Bodie disappeared into the outer room. By the time he returned, Doyle was between the sheets, totally naked.

Bodie paused by the door to turn off the overhead light, leaving the room bathed in lamplight. Doyle sat back against the headboard, waiting.

His partner put the bag on the floor, and unzipped it, fiddling with something on the very top.


The dark head turned towards him, and the pale cheeks flushed a little.

"What've you got there?"

Bodie opened his hand to reveal the tube of lubricant.

"I didn't know if you'd want to -- you know," he swallowed, "first night and all." He placed it on the bedside cabinet, keeping his eyes averted. Doyle found the unaccustomed shyness endearing.

"Well," he admitted, "I was wondering how we'd go about it -- glad you came prepared, love." He stopped, aware that his own face was turning pink. "Being married takes a bit of getting used to..."

Bodie nodded, turning to strip his clothes, and laying them carefully over the bedroom chair.

Doyle watched in appreciative silence as his other half bared himself, and when Bodie was naked, he drew back the covers ready.

"Come to bed, lover..."

Bodie didn't need telling twice.

Doyle opened his eyes slowly, and made a second, even bigger mistake when he tried to turn his head. He groaned loudly as the hangover made its presence felt.

Bodie sort of swam into focus, half-dressed, and gazing down at him with some concern.

"Do you feel as bad as you look?" he asked.

Doyle winced and closed his eyes again.

"How do I look?"

"Bloody awful."

"Feel worse than that..."

"Thought as much --I phoned Cowley, told him you wouldn't be in." Bodie smiled wryly, remembering the Old Man's comments. "He wasn't surprised. Said he'd overlook your absence on this occasion, but not to make a habit of it."

"I won't," mumbled Doyle. "Getting married once in a lifetime's enough for me...."

"Married?" Bodie looked sympathetic. "Dreaming about Ann, were you?"

Despite his headache, Doyle opened his eyes and frowned up at his partner.

"Dreaming -- " He glanced at his hand. The ring was gone. "-- you were there..." He stopped, realising what it would sound like if he told Bodie what had happened. "Christ, what a nightmare!"

"Not to worry, sunshine. It's over now -- everything back to normal." Bodie checked his watch. "Speaking of which, your best man'd better leave. Cowley wants me to help interrogate Holly's coloured friend." He met the troubled green gaze. "Will you be okay here on your own? I'll come by at lunchtime...."

"Yeah, I'll be fine," Doyle assured him. "Don't slam the door on your way out." He closed his eyes, and ten minutes later, heard the Capri fire up in the street outside.

Now that he was alone, he could put his thoughts into some kind of order: the dream stayed with him -- oh, not the actual details of where they'd gone, or the ceremony, but the feeling of being cared for, cherished -- LOVED.

Mental compensation, Doyle told himself bitterly. This time yesterday I was in love with Ann, I still wanted to make her my wife. I COULD'VE married her -- if she hadn't come to the office; if she hadn't sneaked in, and overheard us questioning her father.... I thought she understood -- about the job, about what C.I.5. is trying to do.... He could hear Bodie's voice speaking those words, and he felt the same strange warmth in his belly that he had woken with.

Bodie...loving him...always there to pick up the pieces...always at his side.... Doyle snorted at the line his thoughts were taking: Bodie as his life's companion -- his LOVER....

And yet -- it wasn't so absurd, was it?

Bodie had come after him yesterday, when Ann had driven off; Bodie had taken him to the pub, and had waited for him to get maudlin; Bodie had brought him back, and put him to bed....

There's got to be something there between us....

Doyle gingerly rolled onto his side, and pulled the duvet up over his head. How to get Bodie....

He fell asleep in the middle of planning their first date.

-- THE END --

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