A Little Faith and Orange Juice


Post-Close Quarters.

Thanks to Izzie for the beta and encouragement, and to Kaye who helped me be clearer. Any remaining problems are mine, and I have played around slightly with how the episode ended.

From the chaos Doyle glanced up to what was currently his ceiling and Bodie's floor. Bodie had been upright and coherent some five minutes previously, but he had yet to make his way down the attic stairs to where the aftermath of his quiet weekend in the country was now being taken care of.

A shell-shocked Julia had gravitated towards Cowley who, surrounded by broken furniture and venom-spitting terrorists in handcuffs, was still managing to exude an air of paternal calm. As Doyle watched, he led her to an armchair, said a few clearly soothing words and pressed a glass into her hands. Doyle shook his head. No prizes for guessing what the amber liquid in it was.

He passed off Inge, who in true terrorist style had rallied past a bullet wound and was busy telling Doyle to do something indescribable in German. He ignored her and looked up again. Trying to keep irritation ahead of worry, he headed for the foot of the stairs and called up.

"You planning on coming down anytime soon, your majesty?"

Still no response or sounds of movement. Shit, maybe he had been shot and the daft sod was hiding it. Doyle chewed his lip. Wouldn't be the first time. The silence stretched the moment out.

Not on. Not bloody on. Not after the day he'd just had on account of his do-anything-singlehandedly-egomaniac of a partner.


For the second time in less than twenty minutes Ray Doyle lost his cool.

He had been quite proud of the calm exterior he had kept all day in front of Cowley. He had used his boss's presence as a buffer, a reason to keep his anxiety at bay and give it no room to breathe. It had worked and once or twice he had felt Cowley glance his way, clearly puzzled. His steady gaze and clipped tones had perhaps come off as indifference to the man. Doyle himself knew otherwise from the tension-ache in his jaw, but that was noticeable to no one. However, the last volley of shots and the unmistakable sound of Bodie in agony had powered him up the stairs, shouting his name -- Cowley and the stare behind him be damned.

Unlike his first time up the stairs, all was quiet and still this time. Doyle rounded the corner to the small attic room to find Bodie seated on a trunk of some kind. His elbows were locked on either knee, head and bloodied hands hanging loosely. He did not look up as Doyle entered.


"Yeah." Weary, like something ground out through stones.

Doyle moved across and sat himself down on his haunches at his partner's eye level, relieved to see no signs of any hidden holes.

"Hello there." Doyle kept it light and didn't touch. Two years and three months had taught him many things about the man in front of him, one of them being that a wounded Bodie was often a prickly one. Tended to bring the soldier in him out.

A weary eye found his. "Julia?"

"Think you might have blown it there, mate."

Bodie could only raise an eyebrow.

"Cowley's down there with his arm across her shoulders," he leaned in a little, "giving her comfort and scotch."

A flicker showed through the exhaustion. "Don't think this is quite what she had in mind for a dirty weekend."

"Probably not. Can't leave you alone for a second, can I?"

"Probably not."

Savouring the slow return, each smiled. Then Doyle saw a tremor and realised he was wasting time. He reached out and took hold of an elbow, careful to avoid the hands.

"Come on. Up and out, sunshine."

Bodie allowed himself to be helped to his feet -- and promptly swayed when he got there. Doyle grabbed another elbow and held on. Concerned, but also faintly amused, he waited a heartbeat or two for Bodie to settle.


"Hungry." A flash of Bodie spirit. "Don't suppose you've got a chip butty tucked away on you, Raymond?"

Doyle released an elbow to pat his shirt pocket. "Other jacket, I'm afraid." He began moving them both towards the top of the stairs.

"If I keel over, be a good chap and don't let me arrive tit over arse down there."

"Certainly." He let go, moved ahead and took the first step.

"Oh, much better, I crash into you and we both go down."

Doyle had been prepared to sit up front with Cowley for the drive back and let Julia do a little nurturing - Bodie was as close to a vulnerable mess as Doyle had seen. But Julia seemed to have latched onto Cowley and barely gave Bodie a second glance as they exited the farmhouse. Shock or no shock, Doyle felt his irritation with her rise. That Bodie had held out for as long as he had was nothing short of a hard-won miracle, and the last thing he deserved that day was anyone's indifference, least of all hers.

So it was left to Doyle to open the passenger door and wait while Bodie eased himself in, doing his best not to use his hands. Doyle then walked around the back of the car and got in next to him behind the driver's seat. If Cowley was what she wanted, then Cowley could bloody well sit up front with her and drive.

If Cowley found anything odd in either the driving arrangements or the rather defiant glower 4.5 was issuing out the window, he made no comment. Once they were moving and the farmhouse was little more than a speck in the rear-view mirror, Julia seemed to come out of her shell. She still ignored Bodie, but she responded well enough to Cowley's small talk. Doyle had to give him that, he could be a charming bastard when the mood took him. Doyle in his turn ignored them both and studied the passing countryside, glancing left every now and then to check Bodie's profile. He couldn't help but feel an obscure rush of pride -- stubborn bugger was still holding it together. His head bobbed and his colour was awful, but there he was in all his damaged glory, upright and uncomplaining.

Doyle stopped them at the first small shop they came to. He disappeared and emerged a few minutes later, arms laden with biscuits, sweets and fruit juices. He passed a few to the front and dumped the rest onto the back seat. At Bodie's wide eyed look, he sniffed testily. "Just because you need the sugar, mate. Do not approve at all."

They set off again and Bodie just about managed to negotiate an orange juice down his throat without a disaster, but it was clear that a packet of chocolate covered digestives -- his own personal favourite -- was going to be beyond him. His hands had stiffened mercilessly since he had stopped using adrenalin to force them into action. He had no choice. He waited until Doyle looked his way, then batted his eyelashes.

With an air of long-suffering tolerance, Doyle sighed, opened the packet and began feeding them to him, two bites at a time.

Two digestives later, Doyle yelped and withdrew his hand "The biscuit, Bodie, the biscuit!" He shook his fingers and tutted. "Where were you raised, mate?"

The retort behind the crumb-filled grin was muffled.

"And didn't anyone ever teach you not to speak with your mouth full? Dear-oh-dear..."

Bodie chewed and swallowed in haste. "Don't hang about, starving man here, Doyle." He gestured back to the packet and opened his mouth wide, clearly enjoying having his partner cater to him like this.

Shaking his head to hide his pleasure at seeing some animation and colour back in Bodie, Doyle obliged with three more before twirling the packet shut.

"Enough. You'll be sick."

A spray of protest crumbs came his way as Bodie said something indecipherable.

Doyle was having none of it. "Manners of a farm animal you have."

Bodie swallowed and grinned, finally crumb-free. "'Nother juice then please, Mum." The look he got took the pain away. It was, he reflected, almost worth having two dodgy hands just to put Doyle through this.

With as much coolness as he could muster, Doyle stuck a straw through an orange juice and held it out. Like a boxer in gloves, Bodie took a wary hold. Doyle let go, but kept an eye. Last thing they needed was Bodie spraying the back of Cowley's car with orange juice.

Willpower kept Bodie's grip on the juice for the first few mouthfuls, but the flexibility it asked of his fingers simply wasn't there, and it suddenly slipped from his grasp. Doyle's left hand snatched the carton effortlessly from disaster, and each turned a head to the other at the reflex.

"Just as well I'm here, mate," said Doyle.

It was meant as something light, inconsequential.

But the truth of it hit Bodie's weary soul with an unexpected warmth and his smile faltered. One by one they had all lost faith in him that long afternoon, even Julia. By the time she accused him of carelessly writing their epitaphs, he knew he was on a path alone. The look and bitter tone to her words had cut him, deepening his isolation. It was the last fucking thing he was trying to do, and it had hurt more than his hand to be so misunderstood.

And here was his partner, slowly restoring Bodie's place in the world with little more than a quick hand, orange juice and chocolate digestives. An uncomplicated man, even Bodie knew it shouldn't be that easy. He also knew as well as Doyle did just who was supposed to be up front driving.

Overwhelmed, he had no choice but to close his eyes and rest his head back on the seat before it all got away from him.

"You have no idea, Ray. No idea at all, sunshine." Said with far too much quiet gratitude, but his eyes were shut so he said it anyway.


But Doyle got no further as Cowley, with his usual impeccable timing, picked that precise moment to tell Doyle what he expected from Inge's initial debriefing. Bearing in mind that Julia's civilian ears were listening, it was general rather than specific in nature. Doyle had a question about the hospital for his boss.

"She's to get basic treatment for the wound, and no more," was the terse reply.


"And mind that she gets no painkillers, 4.5. Not one, I want her very teeth on edge."

Doyle caught Julia's flinch in the mirror at that and felt a grim satisfaction. Not all charm and small talk is he, love?

Doyle had another query. "What about-"

Something bony and heavy slid onto Ray Doyle's left shoulder, and he lost his train of thought mid-question.


"Uh . . . nothing, sir. It'll keep."

It would have to. Bodie's sleeping head on his shoulder had momentarily stuck his tongue to the roof of his mouth. That his partner's defences were down that much in front of others told Doyle everything he needed to know about what had gone on in that farmhouse. The instinct to shrug Bodie off with a sharp "Oi!" was gone, replaced by a fierce stab of protectiveness that neither Cowley nor Inge had any priority over. He swallowed once, set his face towards the window, and eased down a fraction as his partner slumped bonelessly beside him and the outskirts of London sped by.

This time Cowley's timing was right on the money. When his gaze flicked to the mirror with a question, he opened his mouth . . . and closed it.

If Doyle had looked his way at the time, he would have caught the briefest of smiles.

-- THE END --

March 2006

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