Four Things Doyle Knew and One He Didn't
by Magenta Blue
"You're a right scrappy bastard," his dad told him as he angrily pulled his son home, painfully gripping his upper arm. Ray didn't bother to try and explain; it wasn't worth the smack around the face for answering back that would be forthcoming as soon as he opened his mouth. And he was aching enough as it is, Danny Glover had really ploughed into him, it was tight to breathe, his knuckles were skinned and bleeding, and he could barely see out of one eye. Still, Glover wouldn't be looking that pretty himself come tomorrow, definitely came off the worst 'e did...
"And you can stop smirking, what - you think this is funny, me coming to yer school? You think this is funny, me 'aving to leave work to fetch you? I've lost 'alf a day's wages--you know what that fucking means?"
Ray nodded despite himself and ducked his head away from the half hearted swipe that caught the back of his head without too much force. Still, he did know what it meant--it meant his da would have less money to drink away down the boozer. And that was supposed to be a bad thing?
"Right smart Alec ain't yer, well you better wise up, son. Your generation's all the same, you all think the world owes yer something. Well, it owes yer nothing, you get nothing for nothing in this world--you even listening to me?"
Ray scowled, dragging his feet and holding onto his side. "Think 'e's kicked me ribs in."
"Well serves you right," was his dad's swift reply before he stopped and looked down at his son, gruff concern taking over. "Where? Let's see... That hurt? Ah stop yer yelping, feels alright to me. Just be a bit sore for the next few days that's all, teach yer t'duck out the way quicker next time. And there will be a next time with you, don't I know it, wish it weren't the case but you've got my temper, me lad, won't do you any good in the long run, don't I know that n'all. C'mon, stop stalling," his dad straightened once more and continued pulling Ray down the road, although with less force than before.
"Bit sore? Fucking killing me," Ray grimaced and pulled his shirt down with his free hand.
"And your language! Who do you think you are to use that sort of talk? When yer grown up and earning yer own way you can swear like a navvy, but not before, alright? We didn't bring yer up to fucking swear, we..." He abruptly dropped silent, before continuing in a quieter voice, "...we wanted better for you, yer mum and me."
Ray moodily kicked a stone which skittered into the dirty canal by the side of the path. He glanced up at his dad's over-bright eyes and sighed as he looked away, gazing over the water yet not seeing any of it. "I know, dad. I know you did."
"'Ow's yer dad, Ray, went down the Arms last night and didn't see 'im in there, thought that was his regular?"
Ray set the last crate of apples down with an exhalation and leaned over slightly to get his breathe back. "Yeah it was--but he's under orders." He straightened and started stacking the crates better, shifting them into position with his booted feet so they weren't in the middle of the shop.
"Whose orders--what, yourn? That'll be the day, come to his senses finally 'as he?" Bert cackled from behind the shop counter, where he was counting up the days takings.
"Something like that." Ray didn't elaborate; he knew Bert was only looking to gossip and his dad's illness wasn't up for idle discussion.
Bert looked at the proud straight back of the young man in front of him and nodded to himself. "Well, good fer him, about time, that's what I say. Is that you done? You don't have time to bring up them potatoes an' all, do yer?"
Ray turned around, screwing up his nose slightly. He glanced up at the clock and weighed up his options. "Oh alright then," he gave in with a poor grace, "only if I'm late again I'm out on my ear. And there better not be any mouldy ones down there, bloody stink they do," he headed over to the cellar at the back of the shop.
"Mouldy ones? Mouldy ones, me boy? You've got a cheek, I never sell mouldy anything," said Bert indignantly. Ray looked around and pointedly stared at a crate of pears, before fixing his gaze on Bert. "What's that then?"
Bert came around from behind the counter and peered down at them. "Oh, them are special pears for jam, they are. They need to be a bit on the turn, makes 'em mush up better."
Ray snorted and continued down the steps. From the depths he shouted up, "Oi, there's bags 'n bags down here! I 'aven't got time fer all of them!"
"Never mind, as many as you can, lad. 'Ow's them colourin' in classes going anyway?" Bert yelled down and dragged the crate of pears further back.
Ray re-appeared with two bags of potatoes over each shoulder, which he set down thankfully in the far corner. He shook his head, having heard it all before about his evening class. "It's something to do, I 'spose. Besides, the girls are alright, an' all," and he winked.
"Save your money, son, that's what I say. When you take over this place, you won't need to draw the fruit, will yer?"
Ray smiled although inwardly he winced. He still hadn't told Bert he was moving on and he knew Bert was hoping he would take over the shop for him.
It had been a handy job since leaving school, but he was on his second interview for the police force and he knew he was doing well. Besides, the doctor said it wasn't long to go now for his dad and he needed to have something in place afterwards to stop him thinking about it. If all went well with the force he could apply for a transfer to one of the bigger cities, London perhaps, that'd certainly keep him busy enough.
"So see yer tomorrow Ray?" The old man's face was open and friendly.
"Yeah, see ya," Ray held up his hand in a gesture of farewell and knew without doubt he should have told Bert ages ago.
"Well this is fun, I don't think." Linda sat back in her chair and crossed her arms. It was early evening and the hazy sunlight fell in shards throughout the interior of the pub, Alice Cooper's 'School's Out' providing background music from the jukebox in the corner.
"Hmm?" Ray looked up from where he had been slowly pushing his half empty pint glass in a circle on the scratched table. For a moment he couldn't remember where he was.
"We've been here for, oh," she made a show of looking at her watch; "twenty minutes now and you've hardly said two words to me."
"Sorry," Ray said automatically and went back to pushing his pint glass. It was a nice evening, he supposed, perhaps he should have suggested somewhere else, but he really wanted to be somewhere quiet, not too many people laughing and joking like the world was a wonderful place.
"You're doing it again," she accused and he finally looked at her, really seeing her for the first time that night. She felt her anger at him start to melt as she had his full attention, why couldn't he be like this all the time? In the few months she had been seeing him, she really only felt she got his full attention in bed.
He smiled lazily at her, enjoying the way the dust motes circled in the sunlight behind her hair. She was here and so was he... He reached for her hand, gently stroking her fingers. She basked in his gaze and playfully scratched the palm of his hand with her fingernails.
"That's better, I thought I'd lost you all evening! What were you thinking about?"
Ray's smile suddenly dropped and he pulled his hand back, already shuttered and defensive. "It's this case I'm on..."
"Oh for God's sake, I might have known! It's always work with you isn't it, you're supposed to be off duty!"
"Well, it's a bit hard to be off duty when the last thing you did was tell someone their daughter is dead." His smile was a bitter weapon.
Linda looked away. "Oh. Now whatever I say is going to make me sound like a callous bitch, I can't win now."
"I didn't realise we were having a competition. What we playing--trumps? Bridge? Well yes, if that getaway car hadn't ploughed into hers then I guess she wouldn't have gone over the bridge..."
He was using that sarcastic posh accent of his that she hated.
"Oh stop it, just stop it. Can't we just have a nice night? Please? Does it always have to be this way with you?"
He looked away at that and wondered why it always ended up like this. Girls expected him to be able to switch it off but it just wasn't that simple for him, couldn't they see that? Simple... Now there's a thought...
"Got it!" he snapped his fingers and jumped up, jogging the table violently enough for his pint to slosh over and her glass to topple and spill on the table.
"Ray!" Linda threw her hands up and her seat back, looking down in dismay at her Cinzano splashed top.
"It was Simon Evans--'e was the one that was the go-between--'ad to 'ave been, 'simple Simon' - fucking genius!" He ran to the bar and gestured impatiently for a phone, pulling out his police identification as he did.
Linda pursed her mouth and looked at the remains of the table, feeling tears prick her eyes.
As Ray dialled the number to HQ he looked back at Linda, wondering if he would ever find a relationship that could understand and mean as much to him as his commitment and loyalty to his job.
He knew he might be asking rather a lot of someone someday.
"For crying out loud, Bodie!" Ray glared at his supposed partner, who was carefully brushing the glass from his suit.
"What?" asked the object of his anger, coolly indifferent to what he had just done and instead making more of a show of being annoyed he had ripped his sleeve.
Ray bit his bottom lip and re-holstered his gun, trying to reign in his temper. Nope, wasn't going to happen. "We needed him alive! A few more minutes..."
"...And you'd have been dead. I saw it in his eyes, Ray! He was going to kill you, fact." Bodie pulled a face as he realised his wrist was bleeding, and twisted his arm around to see if the blood had stained his shirt. It had.
"And you know that do you, oh yes, of course you do, 'cause you were right here with me in this room, weren't you? Oh no, silly me, I forget..." and now he raised his voice, "...you were outside the fucking window! 'You saw it in his eyes', well good eyesight you must have, mate. I could've talked him around." Ray was fuming, this was the second time his new partner had arrogantly decided to pull the shots, or loose them off, more the case. Didn't he think that he, Doyle, had an idea of what was going to happen as well? It was like all his years of fucking good police work meant precisely so much dust to this suave army bastard.
His impassioned speech had provoked a reaction as now Bodie was looking directly at him, and he felt the weight of all his attention. To his surprise, Bodie unexpectedly looked weary as he held Ray's gaze.
"He turned to the window and I saw him, you had seconds left, believe me, I've seen that look before. And so have you," he acknowledged and Ray's mouth twitched with the truth of it, a cold knot inside him somehow loosening with that spoken acknowledgement that he was just as good, just the same.
Still, he wouldn't be himself if he didn't answer by way of a snort in derision before turning his attention to the man whose life's blood now decorated the scruffy carpet. "What do we say to the Cow about this one, then?"
"We say he was a naughty boy. Look, we got on this one's tail; we can find the rest of the gang." Bodie stepped closer, holding his wrist to stem the blood.
"Going to mean a lot of file work matching up his associates," Ray mused as he straightened from checking the body and then glanced sharply at the man at his side. "Let's see it, then."
"Eh?" Bodie looked confused for a second, his features changing from impersonal killer to small boy as he looked uncertainly at Ray.
"Your wrist, dumbo!" Ray gestured and carefully pulled Bodie's sleeve away from the nasty gash the glass had left behind. He held his arm gently checking the wound, while Bodie stood patiently and let him, amused but pleased for the careful attention.
Still, it wouldn't be Bodie to let opportunity for comment go by. "That's another shirt ruined," he muttered, and Ray felt his breathe ripple his hair.
"Don't know why you bother to dress up so, I mean, it doesn't really suit our profession, does it?" Ray glanced up with a wicked gleam in his eye at Bodie's expression and then went back to checking his wrist. "Looks clean enough, needs a stitch or two though. As does your sleeve!"
Bodie rolled his eyes at Ray's deep chuckle, the atmosphere inexplicitly lightened even though there was a dead body to their left and the imminent prospect of explaining to one George Cowley why things didn't go precisely to plan.
Ray pulled out his RT. "You going to call it in then?"
"'M injured--need stitching, apparently. Your turn, sweetheart."
Ray ignored the smug grin and soubriquet, weighing the RT in his hand. He glanced up, "this is going to go down a treat after that mess on Tuesday. And I called that one in n'all!"
"'M still injured. Ah the pain, Ray, the pain! You'll have to do it, mate." Bodie bent over double, holding his wrist and acting the fool while Ray tried not to laugh at the stupid bugger, but he really couldn't help it.
"Well, 'm calling in the next thing we get right! If you survive that long, that is."
"Only time will tell, mate, only time will tell," Bodie had now straightened and was checking around the room, every inch of him the complete professional.
Ray eyed him as he spoke into the RT. He knew deep down that Bodie had just saved his life back then, and a warm feeling spread right the way through him, down to his gut. He was beginning to realise what partnership meant, that there was someone by his side that always understood. He knew from them on that he would do anything to make sure they both always survived.
"'S always the fucking same innit, Bodie? Dunno what's the matter with me," Ray slurred and then hiccupped.
"Nothing's the matter with you, you just choose some daft bints to go around with every once in a while, don't yer? C'mon, just down this curb..."
"What do yer mean, daft bints? Who yer calling a daft bint?" Ray rallied and stumbled down the curb, Bodie patiently catching him and steadying him. He kept his hand on his drunk partner's back as he checked the road for traffic, even at this late hour, it wasn't adverse to get some nutter tearing around the streets.
"I mean..." Ray stared confusedly at his feet. "Where we going? Oh yeah--over there, well I knew that. I mean... the others were daft bints but she wasn't."
"Okay," Bodie agreed in the hope that Ray would get moving.
"She wasn't! Oh--what did you say?"
"I said okay, she wasn't a daft bint. C'mon, keep going..."
"Who wasn't?" Ray planted himself stubbornly in the road.
"Ann!" Bodie said in exasperation. He could hear a car coming from somewhere and the lights of Doyle's flat ahead was like a homing beacon. "Ann wasn't a daft bint!"
Ray looked at him like he was mad. "Ann? She was the daftest bint of all of 'em! Didn't..." he hiccupped again, "didn't even give me a chance to explain, although she had it in a nutshell, she's one thing and we're another, ain't that right, Bodie? 'Ere, where's me flat?"
"Oh give me yer arm," Bodie grabbed Ray's arm and slung it around his neck, gripping onto it grimly. "Now stop stalling, we're almost there."
Ray pulled back suddenly and stared at Bodie.
"You alright, mate?" Bodie asked in concern, although Ray's face was inches away from his and his very real concern was suddenly contending fiercely with a flare of desire that seemed to have risen from the heart of him. And now was not the time...
"Touch of deja vu, that's all," Ray sounded quite sober but his pace was not yet steady, still leaning into Bodie's warmth as they finally reached the steps to his current flat.
He stood there for a second looking up at the lit lantern above the doorway. Then he turned back to Bodie and grinned, the street light catching his hair. "Don't know what I'd do without you, Bodie."
Bodie put his hands in his grey leather jacket pockets and shuffled, slightly ill-at-ease with the heartfelt comment, as he knew full well what he'd like to do with Ray and he wasn't totally sure they meant the same thing.
"No, I mean it! It's like you're me, sometimes. If you get hurt, it's like me that gets it, same the other way around--you know what I mean?" Ray slapped at his pockets for his door-keys, looking up again once he had them in his hands. "Do you know what I mean?"
"C'mon mate, key to the lock, that's it..." Bodie stepped up and guided his friend's hand to keyhole.
Ray stopped him and put a hand on his shoulder. "But do you, Bodie?"
Again, there he was so close to him, and Bodie's left arm twitched to put it around Ray's waist and pull him in, the devil be damned. But the timing wasn't right and this was just too important to fuck up, the best relationship of his life this was, in its way.
Instead, he raised his arm gently and touched his fingers to Ray's cheek. "I know, sunshine, but do you, that's the question?"
He searched Ray's expression--surprise, dawning awareness, arousal maybe? The forecast didn't look as stormy as he had feared, but for now he dropped his hand and backed down the step, raising a hand in farewell. Ray might not know it yet, but Bodie was happy to wait until he did. He wasn't going anywhere and when he wanted something, he was a very patient man.
-- THE END --