Gods and Goddesses


Banner by Agent Xpndble for summer_of_78

Written for the summer_of_78 livejournal fic exchange. The sequel is Underworld.

Bodie lounged on the hotel double bed and watched his partner wear a hole in the carpet, pacing restlessly up and down. The motorbike ride down from London had done nothing to reduce the obvious tension in Doyle's body. He was still wired and perhaps this was little wonder, considering the week they'd just had.

Maybe he should get up and tackle him onto the mattress. Just a friendly wrestle to let some of the stress out. The worst that could happen was that Doyle would blow up at him and that might be a good thing, if it relieved some of the strain he was under.

Or it could turn into something else. His nerves prickled as he imagined the feel of Doyle's taut bum wriggling under his fingers. He knew there was something brewing between them, had known it for months. It was a will o' the wisp feeling, insubstantial, uncertain. All he had to go by were the moments of heightened closeness, the casual touches and eye contact held just a little bit longer than necessary. Uncertain and more than a little scary.

Their room had a bay window that overlooked the seafront and Doyle must have walked past it half a dozen times with barely a glance at the view. On his next turn around the room, however, his pacing ceased abruptly. He stiffened and glared at the promenade below. "Fucking Ciaran O'Neill," he spat as he turned on his heel and raced out the door.

Bodie leapt off the bed, paused momentarily to grab the room key, and followed him. He cursed Doyle under his breath as he bolted down the stairs. The bloody madman was already out the front door of the hotel by the time Bodie charged through the foyer, dodging his way through the crowd which eddied about uncertainly in his partner's wake.

Outside the hotel he halted. Doyle was nowhere to be seen but the signs of his passage were there in turned heads and surprised looks. Tracking Doyle by these and by instinct, Bodie peered into shop doorways and around corners until, in a narrow alley between two hotels, he found him. He was leaning against a wall, staring into space. Bodie walked over to him.

He could feel the other man's disquiet, knew what he was seeing. Two days ago an IRA bomb had exploded prematurely at a petrol station, incinerating not only the bombers but also a van full of university students with the bad luck to pull in next to them at the wrong time. Doyle had been first on the scene. Bodie, who had spent the first half of the day driving Cowley around Whitehall, arrived after the police and ambulance had been at work for over an hour and had been spared the worst of it. What was left had still been pretty bad. No wonder Cowley had sent them off on five days leave, two more than they were due. No wonder Doyle's girlfriend had dumped him, even though he'd booked and prepaid for the seaside hotel room as a special treat.

Gloomily contemplating the choice of spending a long weekend on his own or forfeiting his hard earned dosh, Doyle had asked Bodie to accompany him. Bodie had been delighted to agree. The knowledge that his feelings for his friend were undergoing a sea-change only made the offer more appealing. The discovery that the town was full of tourists and their hotel unable to swap the booked double room for a twin seemed somehow prophetic.

Right now there was no chance of finding out if this omen was true or false. Doyle had shot out of the room like a bolting nag and now, chest heaving, wild-eyed, he needed gentle handling. Bodie moved closer and leaned against the wall next to him.

"Lost him?" he queried, not for a moment casting doubt on what Doyle had seen. "We should call it in."

Doyle kicked at the wall with his heel, hard, a gesture so equine in nature that Bodie had to choke back a smile. "Not sure it was him," he admitted. "But if it was, would have been nice. Very fucking nice."

Ciaran O'Neill. The man behind the bombers. "Yeah, I'll go along with that," Bodie agreed. "You need a drink. There's a pub around the corner."

"Ah, Bodie, I don't know about that. Might go for a walk instead."

"C'mon, mate, you know I'm right." Bodie wrapped one arm tightly around Doyle's shoulders, tapping his chest with the other hand. He wasn't going to let him out of his sight. He knew the kind of trouble a wound-up Doyle could get into if provoked. "You can call it in from there, OK?"

He pulled Doyle away from the wall and steered him back onto the promenade. As they emerged from the alley, the late summer sun threw its light about them, casting a rosy glow over the busy, crowded scene. Lovely. Pretty girls in sandals and summer dresses looked like golden nymphs, skinny lads buzzing around them like bees. Even the overweight British blokes who'd seen too much sun on their pale skins looked like rubicund incarnations of Bacchus.

Oh yeah, and he had his own personal Pan tucked under one arm. A curly headed sexy bastard who was already tugging against the arm that held him and who was bound to get shitty really soon unless they moved. He shifted, pulling Doyle with him through the open doors.

The pub was dark and cool compared to the day outside. He ordered drinks, two scotches, and leant on the bar as he watched his partner use the pay phone to make his call to London. A couple of minutes later Doyle replaced the receiver, resting his hand on top of the phone for a contemplative minute before walking back to join Bodie.

"Last confirmed sighting was in Glasgow, yesterday. They think he's waiting for a container of goodies from the States. Looks like I was wrong."

Bodie shrugged. "Don't worry about it, mate. Least it means we can enjoy ourselves."

Doyle grabbed the offered drink, slinging it back with one swallow and immediately ordering a refill. Bodie sighed. It was going to be one of those nights. Doyle took a small, thoughtful sip of the second scotch and Bodie's hopes rose, only to be dashed again.

"You shouldn't be here, Bodie. I'm not going to be any sort of company. I keep seeing those kids, or what was left of them. Go back to London, mate. Find yourself a nice warm barmaid and enjoy yourself." Another quick swallow and the second drink was gone.

Bodie had been prepared to handle an angry-as-hell Doyle, but this morose version tore him into pieces. Sod Doyle and his moods! Annoyed now, he retorted, "Bugger that. For one thing, we've only just arrived and I'm not going anywhere tonight. I reckon I've got everything I want right here. For another, the way you are now, you need a keeper. That's me. And three," He paused, winding up to a triumphant conclusion, "I've got the bloody room key in my bloody pocket."

Doyle stared at him, then burst out laughing.

"All right, you win. Finish your drink, I'll get another."

Bodie thought about finding a table, then decided he couldn't be bothered. There were a couple of stools by the bar, so he perched on one and hooked his foot around the other to drag it over.

"Make mine a pint this time, OK?"

That bought him a considered look, one that told him he should sod off and mind his own business, in addition to his requested pint. But Doyle switched to beer as well and slowed his drinking to a more sedate pace. He still looked too gloomy for Bodie's peace of mind, so he cast about for words to fill the empty space between them.

"Carol doesn't know what she's missing. What happened? She’s a copper; you’d think she’d know what the job’s like."

Doyle frowned into his pint. "It wasn't her fault. After we finished off at the blast site I reeked of petrol and smoke and… other things, so I went home for a shower. I forgot she'd invited me over for a dinner party with a couple of friends of hers. She had to call to remind me. Would have still been all right, except I got horribly drunk and insulted her friends."


"Oh, you'll like this, Bodie, it's fucking ironic considering how I spent the bloody afternoon. We got into an argument about 'All Around My Hat'. You know, the Steeleye Span song. I put the album on. Next thing, this bloke's telling me to take it off, because it's an anthem to the IRA. So I tell him that the IRA pinched the song and changed the words and he's talking through his hat. But he thought he knew better, and we almost had a set-to about it. In the end Carol phoned for a taxi and told me to shove off, don't come back, the usual."

"Not very civil of her."

"Ah, but you see, apart from being a pretentious git, the bloke turned out to be her superior officer in the Met." He had a rueful smile on his face now, showing that maybe the evening hadn't been entirely without its good points. "I think Carol wants to make inspector before she's thirty. Probably do it, too."

"So that's it then. No chance of a reconciliation?"

"Nah. Shot my bolt there and no mistake."

Silence fell upon them again, but this time it was an easy, companionable quietness. Doyle looked as though he was finally relaxing and for the moment Bodie felt content to unwind alongside him. He looked around. It wasn't the worst of pubs, far from it, but the plush decor was faded and it obviously didn't attract the local trendsetters. Older music played on the juke box; Cilla Black's 'Step Inside, Love' followed by Sandy Shaw's 'Always Something There To Remind Me'. Not his style, but his fingers tapped on the bar anyway as he absorbed the beat.

They gazed about the place, taking in the vibe and watching the assorted crew of patrons. A grizzled pride of older men had possession of one corner, looking less than impressed with their neighbours, a crowd of young women noisily celebrating a night out. At one of the other tables a fortyish man in a suit was conversing intently with another about half his age. Son, workmate or lover? It was hard to tell. A handful of solitary drinkers of various shapes and sizes completed the gathering. "Interesting place," Doyle said. "Real mix of people."

"We call it the Allsorts Bar. Because that's who you get in here." The husky voice of the barmaid interrupted them. She was attractive in a slightly overdone way, with too much make-up and long false eyelashes. Her dark hair was pulled into a chignon and she was wearing a short cocktail dress that showed off long, tanned legs. Muscular legs. For the first time Bodie noticed the well toned, depilated arms, the broad shoulders and strong jaw line.

"And you'd be the liquorice, sweetheart?" Doyle asked, artlessly.

"If you like." She leaned closer. "I'm Samantha, or you can call me Sam." Bodie's attempt to stifle a grin came unstuck when she turned towards him and winked. He wondered if Doyle had noticed.

"It’s a good weekend to be in town," she said. "The beach festival's on. Make sure you see the parade tomorrow night. Where are you staying?"

They told her the name of the hotel. "Oh, that's wonderful. It goes right past, you'll get a great view if you've got a front room. Look out for the 'Neptune' float. I helped make the costumes."

When she went off to clear the tables, Doyle commented quietly, "Takes a bit of guts to do that. Go against what nature's given you because it doesn't fit, I mean." So he had noticed.

"When I was at sea we used to call in to this Spanish port. There was a bar, run by a woman called Dolly. 'She' used to be in the Royal Navy. Took the shots, so she had tits, but she could still knock a man out cold if he gave any trouble. If the bar was doing a lot of trade, she'd sometimes get drunk and lift up her skirts to show she still had it."

"Had what?" Doyle was being obscure, probably deliberately so.

"You know. Cojones. And the rest."

A snort of choked back laughter. "An' I thought a West End beat had it all!"

"Wasn't all beer and skittles, Ray. I've seen a lot of things I wish I hadn't."

"So you keep saying. Maybe one day you'll explain what that means."

Bodie shifted uncomfortably. He'd almost said too much as it was. There were some things he couldn't share, things he'd locked away even from himself. He could almost feel the rattling as the demons in his mind sensed a loosening of the bars.

"Don't push me, Ray. It's easier to forget." He could feel his barriers go up, unable to help himself. And Doyle, who had been resting easily beside him, stiffened and turned back to his drink.

A couple of swallows and Doyle's glass was empty again. He looked Bodie up and down and sighed. "Look, don't take this the wrong way, but I'm going for a walk. There's no need to mother hen me, I'll be fine. I just need to get a few things out of my system. See you back at the hotel." And with that he got up and left.

Damn, it had happened again. He and Doyle would get so very close to each other, minds and emotions linked, that he felt they were barely a breath away from sliding inside each other's skins. Then one or perhaps both of them would rear back, spooked by the intimacy, and the moment would be over. They were back to business as usual. Back to being just friends. It was stupid to think that they would ever let their defences down enough to discover if there was anything more to their partnership than that. Best to forget about it.

Bitterly, Bodie stared at his drink. The minutes ticked away as he watched the way the departing sun, shining through a window, turned his pint amber, then red, before it darkened altogether. Meeting Sam was an accident, he thought, but letting Doyle know about Dolly had been a mistake. Doyle must have been put off by the queerness of it all.

His mind travelled back across the years, to Barcelona and the Plaza Real. What he hadn't told Doyle was that when the bar wasn't doing well Dolly would sometimes take money in return for a blow job, or a fuck. On his first trip to sea his shipmates had played a rough joke on the new boy, clubbing together to buy him a session with her. Dolly had taken one look at the nervous young kid and sent him on his way, but not before turning the air blue with curses about so-called friends, or before offering some sound advice on how to handle the jokes and questions when he returned to the ship. He'd had a soft spot for trannies ever since.

The other part of the memory returned in full force. The one where Dolly had promised him a free ride, if he wanted it, when he was older. Fate had sent him back to Barcelona years later, after the nightmare with Krivas. He'd been in the city, waiting for an offer of a contract to serve with yet another mercenary outfit, and he'd gone back to the bar in the seedy square near the port half wondering if he might collect on the old offer. He didn't want a girl then, not another soft and tender lovely whose life could be snuffed out as casually as Katie's had been. He wanted something else. But he found out Dolly was gone too, stabbed to death in a brawl several months earlier. He'd wandered around Africa and the Middle East before finally returning to England to join the regular army.

"Like another pint?" Sam leant over the counter across from him. Her inquiring look suggested she was interested in more than the state of his thirst.

"No, thanks. Think I might take a look around."

"Ah. You might catch up with your friend, I suppose." A knowing grin. Bodie felt himself flush scarlet. Was it that obvious?

Sam sighed, mock flirting with the handsome stranger. "The good looking ones are always taken. Listen, sweetheart, if he breaks your heart you know where to find me."

He laughed with her, but escaped as quickly as possible back onto the promenade. A stretch of road had been blocked to traffic and he drifted with the throng, eventually reaching a small fun fair. He grazed his way along a line of food vans, buying a pie from one, chips and a can of lukewarm, sickly sweet fizzy drink from another. He watched the dodgems for a while, but his heart wasn't in it. Fairs weren't all that much fun on your own. He wondered where Doyle had got to. Probably found himself some susceptible bit of fluff to spend the evening, maybe the night, with. Someone who was happy, in the town's holiday atmosphere, to take a good-looking 'civil servant' to bed and who wouldn't ask awkward questions in the morning.

The fair's atmosphere was changing. Almost all the family groups had gone and the crowd that was left was young and rowdy. A handful of louts in leather jackets hung with chains, considerably the worse for wear, started an argument with another group of young men. Punches were exchanged. Bodie avoided the melee and walked off. He could have taken on the lot of them with one hand tied behind his back but it wasn't worth the aggravation. Instead, he headed back to the hotel and bed.

At first he couldn't sleep. Alone and distraction-free he was hit by a wave of longing that had him twisting restlessly, trying without success to shake off the anxious clenching in his gut. Kaleidoscopic images flickered through his head; Doyle in all his moods, from mean and dirty to childishly playful. Eventually he seized on a laughing, carefree one and held the picture in his mind until he dropped off to sleep.

He was woken some hours later by a thumping on the door. "Bodie!" Doyle called, rattling the handle. "Boday! Lemme in, you crud."

He dragged himself upright, searching for his trousers. "Alright, Doyle, I'm coming! Just a minute!"

A snigger from outside and then, "What, you got a fairy princess in there or something?"

"No, just have to hide the body of the last berk who tried to wake me at two a.m."

He opened the door to a dishevelled Doyle who smelled of scotch and cigarette smoke. Bodie found this dissolute, whiskery vision rather appealing. Unfortunately Doyle looked about ready to fall over as he stood unsteadily, propped up by the door frame.

"Get inside, you idiot, before someone puts in a complaint to the hotel."

Doyle wove his way into the room and headed for the toilet. Bodie waited outside until the splashing stopped, then asked through the open door "Have a nice time, did we?"

"I dunno, Bodie. Tell me what that is an' I'll tell you if I had it." Doyle slouched back into the room, rubbing his face with a towel. "Lessee, I walked up and down for a bit. And when that got boring I walked back and forth. And then I ended up in a club not far from here. "

"And here was me thinking you'd found yourself a strange bed for the night."

"Wasn't in the mood for small talk. Birds can tell, y'know. They keep right away."

Doyle stared into space for a moment, as though reaching for a decision. Then he squinted at Bodie and said, slurring slightly, "Doesn't have to matter, though. No birds, I mean. Got you. Could make do with each other."

Bodie stood stock still, shocked to the core. "That's the scotch talking, Ray. You don't mean it." No, he thought, Doyle was pissed, that's all. Probably wouldn't remember any of this in the morning.

"Maybe. I don't know. Come on, Bodie, don't tell me you've never thought about it." Doyle was leaning on him now, his breath cooling on Bodie's shoulder, his fingers resting on his arm. "Just a bit of fun."

Bodie closed his eyes. His libido was raging, his cock starting to harden inside his trousers. It would be a simple thing to take Doyle in his arms, to ease him over onto the bed, undress him and make love to him. Ah but, his conscience told him, when he wakes up, how's he going to feel? Would he blame Bodie for taking advantage of his drunken state or, more likely, would he blame himself? With all that culpability hanging between them, what would it do to them as partners, as friends?

Taking a chance he pulled Doyle towards him, wrapping his arms tightly around the compliant body. He crushed his mouth against Doyle's, kissing him hard, pressing their lips and teeth together so that Doyle gave a grunt of complaint and tried to push away. He fought the resistance, reaching down to pull Doyle's hips closer, rubbing against him. Then he released him. "Nothing doing, Ray. I like my bed mates reasonably sober," he lied. "But if you can remember this in the morning, come back and tell me if you still want to do something about it. Now I'm going to bed. You can do as you please."

He turned and stalked back to the bed, where he lay on his side, stiffly, waiting until he felt Doyle's body press down the other side of the mattress. Force of will was all that stopped him from rolling over, reaching out. That, and fear. No mistaking it, he'd thrown a dice onto the table tonight, but he was blind, unable to see how it had landed. Doyle was silent on that as well.

But Doyle had been the one to broach the subject, albeit under cover of inebriation. Bodie wondered about that for a long while.

Next morning came without warning, waking Bodie out of a sleep that had been, surprisingly, deep and dreamless. Doyle was already up and dressed and eating breakfast. Seeing that Bodie was awake, he poured a cup of tea from the pot on the room service tray and brought it over.

"Here you are, Sleeping Beauty."

"Ta." The tea tasted wonderful, hot and sweet. Drinking it gave him time to check the lay of the land. Doyle seemed to have sloughed off his troubles like so much dead skin. He was cheerful, even bouncy, this morning.

"Feel like taking the bikes for a run?" he asked.

Bodie agreed, feeling a need to clear his head. And so it was decided, without fuss and with no mention of the previous night.

They rode out onto the Downs, heading across miles of chalk hills and ridges, massive waves and breakers of land rolling down towards the sea. The roads followed the terrain and visibility was good. Doyle opened up the throttle of his machine with scant regard for the speed limit and Bodie followed suit. For an exhilarating couple of hours they flew across the countryside as though they had wings.

Lunch was eaten in a very ordinary village, platefuls of unremarkable sandwiches sluiced down with milky tea. They talked pleasantly to each other, about everything and nothing, and Bodie started to wonder if everything that had happened before was only a dream.

Afterwards, they followed directions onto a side road until they reached a large forested area. A dirt road took them through the first stretch of plantation conifer. His eyes on the bike in front of him, Bodie lost his concentration and almost dropped his own bike when its wheels caught in a deep rut. The machine twisted under him and headed for the trees. He braked, using his legs to push the bike back on a straight course once he was clear of the rut. When he took off again Doyle was far ahead and he heard the angry bee buzzing of his bike in the distance. Always running after you aren't I, sunshine, he thought. Doyle was in bloody good form today, considering his state last night. And then an idea burst into his head, making him grin and sending a thrill of excitement through him. He revved his machine, hurrying in pursuit.

The conifers gave way to clean air and open space before the road plunged back into older woodland. Ancient trees arched overhead, their roots overhanging earthen banks beside the road as it turned from a dirt track into a broad, green lane. It swept in a curve down a long slope before rising again, reaching almost to the top of the next hill. Doyle's bike was parked at the end of the lane. Through a last tight clustering of beech trees Bodie could see a clear area, a flat bowl of grass bordered by the crest of the hill. Doyle was there. Dumping his helmet on the bike, he headed over.

Doyle had laid down his helmet and was sitting on the sloping edge of the bowl, arms resting on bent knees. He looked calm, even expectant, but Bodie could feel the uncertainty, heavy as the summer air that wrapped itself around them.

Bodie dropped down on the grass beside his partner. He leant on one elbow, watching Doyle, as he worked out what to say next.

"Just how pissed were you last night, Ray? Or have you taken to using Scotch as aftershave now? Cowley would never approve."

Doyle didn't answer straight away. Instead, he slithered down onto the ground until he lay almost nose to nose with Bodie. "I had a couple of scotches, it's true. And I did manage to spill half the second one. Was thinking too hard. About us."

Bodie's breath caught in the back of his throat.

"It's funny, you know," Doyle continued. "I always thought that pretending to a mate was about as bad as lying. So tell me why it took me lying to you to make you even half way honest with me?"

Doyle didn't sound angry or bitter, Bodie realised, only quietly curious. He havered, unsure what to say next.

"I like us," he said finally. "Being partners. Mates. I didn't think.. that is, I wasn't sure…" He floundered, at a loss for words. And then he became aware of a tickling sensation on his face. Feather-like strokes, both pleasurable and irritating, fluttered along his jaw, his cheek, his nostrils. He looked down. Doyle had a long grass stem in his fingers and was teasing Bodie's skin with the tufted end. The grin on his face was too much.

"You bastard," he spluttered. He leapt at Doyle, who rolled quickly out of the way, cackling. Bodie laughed too; the mood was infectious, the relief invigorating. Doyle sobered and reached for him; took hold of him by the jacket and pulled him down.

"Talking's not your strong suit, sunshine. Reckon you should try doing something else with that mouth." And Doyle kissed him. This was not the hard, harsh kiss of need denied. This was warm, moist mouth on his mouth, a tangling of tongues, salty taste of sweat on pliant lips, gasping breaths of air. Hands pulled at the waistband of his leather bike jeans as he tugged open the fastenings on Doyle's, pulled them down, shoved at his t-shirt so it rode high on his belly. He held Doyle's cock in his hand, stroked the fine, hard length of him, feeling the tight throbbing in his balls as he was firmly caressed in return. The ache built and he knew it would be over soon, too soon, but he was flying too fast and too high to stop. Doyle stiffened and groaned beneath him, the pulsing wet seed spilling between them, and Bodie joined him with a shout that was pure joy.

He felt the slipperiness of sweat and spunk on Doyle's stomach as they lay together. The sun was hot against his back and he realised he still had his bike jacket on and that apart from his groin and belly he was fully clothed, as was Doyle. Lifting his torso he saw Doyle surveying their state with a kind of bemused awe.

"I think I've had an epiphany," Doyle muttered.

"Not quite what I'd call it. Haven't been that quick off the mark in years." They were stupid words, he knew. Words of lead to describe something that had surprised him with a beauty that felt more like gold, but right now he was incapable of anything more.

"Not what I meant, you prat." Doyle pulled a handkerchief out of his jacket pocket and started to wipe at Bodie's groin, gently. "I fancy you, you see. Didn't realise how much until last night. And I want to do this again. Although it might have to wait a bit," he said, regretfully, as he looked down at his flaccid prick.

Bodie rolled off Doyle onto his back. "Take your time. I don't think I could stand up at the minute, me knees are that wobbly. Ray… "


"Fancy you too, alright?"


He lay uncovered, letting the sun dry him off. His nerves were still singing, softly now as the heat bathed and soothed him. Better cover up, he thought, as he drifted towards sleep. Then, in the distance a thready roar of engine alerted him to the approach of another vehicle. He nudged Doyle.

"Someone's coming."

They dressed quickly and headed for the bikes. Bodie looked at Doyle. "Back to town?"

Doyle nodded. They mounted the bikes and rode off. Bodie let Doyle lead again and watched him ride. He loved looking at the line of Doyle's body from this angle, the arms outstretched, torso tapering from broad shoulders to narrow bum. He felt the thrum of the engine through the seat, a little thrill that added to his voyeuristic pleasure. Oh yeah, sunshine, we are going to do this again, and more. Hope you're prepared for it.

They arrived back at the hotel around five o'clock. Dismounting from the bike, Doyle pulled off his helmet and used his fingers to comb his hair free. He grinned cheekily at Bodie. "Nice ride back?"

"Yeah. Lovely view."

Doyle looked thoughtful for a moment. "I've a mind to make a night of it. You need feeding. I don't want you collapsing from hunger later on. How about going to that Chinese place by the pub?"

Although his mind was still focussed on his other appetites, Bodie agreed. The promenade was as busy as before, but this time they saw crowd barriers lining sections of the street. "I think Sam said the parade was tonight. Might get a chance to watch it later on, if you want."

Doyle was looking at him with what he could only describe as lascivious intent. "Oh, I think we might have our own parade instead."

Bodie leered back at him. "Better make it an indoor one, then, or we could get arrested."

The restaurant was packed. A harried waiter told them that it would be "fifteen minute" before a table was free. "More like an hour, I reckon," Doyle grumbled. "Let's have a drink." They wandered over to the pub, but as soon as they pushed open the door they realised they'd walked into a world of trouble. There were three leather-jacketed toughs gathered in a group beside the bar. Bodie recognised them instantly as the group that had caused the fight at the fun fair. One of them had Sam pressed up against the bar with one meaty hand about her throat, the other holding onto the neck of a bottle of spirits. The other two loomed close, grinning stupidly while their leader mouthed obscenities.

"You fucking queer cunt…" was all that Bodie heard before he saw Sam bring her hands up, trying to free herself, at the same time driving one knee into the man's groin. The lout let go with an enraged bellow, dropping the bottle as he curled over, but Sam's bid for freedom was short-lived. The other two grabbed her and held her at bay while their leader recovered. As he straightened he dipped his hand into a pocket and Bodie, who by this time was halfway across the room towards them, saw the glint of a knife. He shifted his approach so that he came up behind his target. A hard blow to the back of the man's head made him stagger, then Bodie grabbed his outflung knife arm at the wrist, wrenching it into an arm lock with violent force. Pressure on the wrist caused the man to drop his weapon and Bodie kicked it out of the way.

He released his opponent's wrist, then spun him round and delivered a straight jab to the point of his jaw. The man fell down in a heap. Turning, Bodie saw the other two scarper out the pub, Doyle following them as far as the door.

"All over, mate," Doyle called. "Don't think I'll bother chasing."

"Nah. Not worth it. But we should call the police."

"I've done it," Sam said. She was behind the bar, the phone in her hand. "They'll be here soon."

"You alright?" Bodie asked.

Sam was fuming. "Yes, thanks to you two. But no thanks to the fucking bar manager. I told him we always get trouble on holiday weekends and would he mind giving me a bouncer for a few more hours during the day, but no, he doesn't want to spend the money. And now look at this mess, and most of the customers scared away as well. Would have been cheaper to hire someone in the first place." As she fulminated, she dialled another number with fast, furious strokes. Bodie felt a little sorry for the person about to be on the receiving end.

He grinned to himself. As signs and portents went, this was a bloody good one. And he'd paid off a kind of debt to Dolly too. Happy with himself and the world, he turned to Doyle, who eyed him suspiciously.

"Just thinking about an old friend, Ray." And before Doyle could say any more, he added, "and I'll tell you the whole story later, OK?"

Doyle's eyes widened. "Wonders will never cease. Listen, do you want to make an exit before the police show up?"

Bodie grimaced. They could get tied up for hours and he had plans. "Yeah, let's get out of here."

He looked around. The man he'd hit was still lying on the floor, groaning. The knife was on the other side of the room, under a table. Best to leave it there, let the police check it for fingerprints. A siren wailed in the background. Time to get moving. He spoke to Sam.

"Will you be OK? Try to keep us out of it, but if we need to we'll go in and give statements tomorrow. Sounds like they'll be here any minute."

Sam nodded. "Sure, no problem. Thanks for the help. Come back tomorrow, the drinks will be on the house."

"Will do." He leant over and gave her a quick peck on the cheek. "You take care, now."

Together, he and Doyle slipped out of the pub and into the street. They stood there for a minute, waiting until they saw a pair of blue uniforms approaching. He put a hand on Doyle's arm. "Forget the meal. We can get something later. I want you."

Doyle chuckled. "Is that the adrenaline talking? Not that I mind. Feels good, doesn't it? This wanting business."

"Could become a habit." He wanted Doyle now, wanted to strip him naked and screw him into the pavement. He also wanted to kiss him, to wrap his arms around him and hold him close for a long, long time. "C'mon, let's go."

He'd barely closed the door to their room before Doyle was on him, hands busy front and back, mouth covering his, lips pressing. Doyle was breathing hard, his voice a harsh whisper. "I want you to fuck me, Bodie. Put your prick in me, as deep as it'll go. Want to feel you in me when I come."

"Oh, I will." A surge of delight and a promise backed up by another kiss. "I'll do you. Lay you so you won't remember your name."

Doyle steered them both into the bathroom. "Shower." They undressed hurriedly, pausing only when they were both naked to look at each other. Bodie traced his fingers across Doyle's chest; brown-button nipples, soft chest hair, flare of rib cage over concave belly, down to softly swollen cock. He bent his head and fastened on a nipple, suckling firmly. Doyle squirmed, groaned, pushed his hips forward. Bodie reached out and turned on the shower with one hand, waiting until the water turned warm before easing both of them into the cubicle.

There wasn't quite enough room and the shower wasn't nearly forceful enough for both of them to get wet at the same time, so they took turns, making an erotic game of it, using the soaping and rinsing as an excuse for exploration. When they were almost done, Bodie knelt down under the stream of water, took Doyle's cock in his mouth and sucked gently. Before too long Doyle pushed him away.

"No more. Not now. Feels too good, I'm going to come if you keep that up." He squeezed Bodie's arse playfully before shoving him out of the shower. "Go on, get out of here. Got something to do. I'll be with you in a minute."

Bodie wrapped himself in a clean towel and padded out into the bedroom. He walked about in a half daze, closing the curtains and switching on the bedside lamp. The knowledge of what they were about to do was a-buzzing through his veins. I'm going to fuck you, Ray. It was like a mantra, an incantation, and he repeated it under his breath. Going to fuck Ray. Then a dose of reality sent him rummaging in his bag for something, anything, to use as lube. He was sure there was some suntan oil in there somewhere…

Right then Doyle came out of the bathroom holding the bottle of oil in his hand. "Looking for this?" He walked over to Bodie and handed him the bottle along with a hug and a kiss. "You'll only need it for yourself. I didn't want anything getting in our way."

Hearing that made Bodie want to bend Doyle over there and then. But he stopped, concerned. "Have you ever…?"

"Not with a bloke, no. But I've had some birds with a kinky taste in toys. I know I'll like it, Bodie. Stop worrying and get going."

He dropped his towel on the floor and reached for Doyle, drawing him into a deep kiss. As he did so, he heard music playing outside, eerie sounds of woodwind that sent a shiver up his spine. Looking at the seat underneath the bay windows, he had an idea. He broke the kiss and drew Doyle over to the window. "Time to join the parade, Ray."

He opened the curtains a little way. On the street below the parade was massing and right under the window was what could only be the Neptune float. An almost naked man with a trident sat on a throne draped with filmy green and blue. Around him were musicians, dressed as mermen and mermaids, in shimmering, silvery fabrics.

"Lean forward," he whispered. As he said it, Doyle gasped, and Bodie saw a shudder of arousal pulse through him. Doyle reached for the windowsill and raised one knee onto the seat. Bodie leant against him, kissing his back as he opened the bottle of oil and applied it to himself. And as his fingers stroked the area between Doyle's arse cheeks with a profound delicacy, Doyle relaxed, opened to him.

"Keep watching."

-- THE END --

July 2006

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