Night Promises


The fourth and final part of the "Matchlight" series. The first three stories are Matchlight, Turning Point, and Proving Ground.

Thanks, as always, to Ancasta and PFL for helpful beta comments, and to m. butterfly for a last minute grammar check.

He should be tired. After the night they've had he should be sound asleep, blankets pulled up to his ears, his front pressed to Bodie's back and one arm wrapped firmly around Bodie's chest.

Instead he's wide awake. He stares at the ceiling for an hour and a half, listening to the muted sounds of city traffic, to the scratching of a stray branch against the bedroom window. To Bodie breathing beside him. By five he knows he's not going to sleep this night--no, this morning--so he rolls quietly out of bed. Makes sure he doesn't wake Bodie, makes sure he tucks the covers back around his partner so he doesn't catch a chill. Always cold, Bodie is. Doyle puts it down to his time spent in Africa, but they don't talk about Africa. Just one of the many things they don't talk about.

He rests one hand lightly on Bodie's cheek before he stands, risking this one, brief contact. See what you've done, he thinks to himself. Turned me into a soft bastard, is what. There's no bitterness in the thought, only fondness.

He pulls on a pair of track pants lying on the floor and pads down to the kitchen, barefoot and bare-chested. He puts the kettle on, brews up a pot of tea, and makes his way back to the bedroom, his favourite mug in his hand.

He perches on the windowsill, feeling the night's chill come off the glass and caress his back, raising gooseflesh on his arms. He doesn't shiver, though. The tea is enough to keep him warm. The tea and thoughts of Bodie, here in his bed at last.

Not that Bodie hasn't been here before. But never like this. Never with both of them willing to admit how much it means to them, or even that it means anything at all. As much his fault as Bodie's, Doyle knows. More his than Bodie's, if he's being honest.

Stiff-necked bastards, the pair of them. Neither one much for showing their feelings. To anyone. But yesterday he found the bottle, at long last, to admit what Bodie means to him, and Bodie, never lacking in the courage department, was willing to follow.

A brief, doting smile plays across his mouth as he thinks about what they've done this night, he and his brave, beautiful partner. His eyes may be gritty from lack of sleep, but Doyle has never felt better. Never felt more alive. His skin prickles with the memory of Bodie's touch, his taste, the sound of his voice growling in release. He puts down his mug for a minute and stretches like a cat, revelling in the play of the muscles under his skin. He enjoys the sensation of the marks Bodie has left on his skin, bruises from fingers and teeth. Bodie bears similar marks, the two of them a matched set. As they should be.

He picks up the mug again and takes a long look at Bodie. Even in the muted light from the window, Bodie is bloody gorgeous. In sleep, he loses the wariness he carries with him during the day. He's open, unguarded. He looks, Doyle thinks, as he might have done if his father'd never kicked him out of the house at fourteen. If he'd never seen Africa. If he'd never fought in Jordan, never served in Belfast. For a brief moment Doyle mourns the man Bodie might have been, but only for a moment. Because if Bodie hadn't seen, hadn't done all he had, he might never have ended up here. In Doyle's flat. In Doyle's bed.

They've neither of them had the easiest life, but that's what makes them so perfect together. For years now they've understood each other on the job without the need for words. And now Doyle thinks... no, he knows they're going to manage it off the job. The thought makes him frown as he realizes just what he's taking on: Bodie's happiness. Bodie's love.

As he's taking the final slurp of tea, he sees Bodie stir. Sees him reach out a hand for the body that isn't there beside him. Sees his eyes flicker open as he blearily looks around the room. Sees his mouth narrow as he notices Doyle sitting in the window.

"Brooding, are you?" Bodie says, his voice husky with sleep.

"Me?" Doyle says, putting the mug down on the windowsill. "Never. Got the wrong bloke. More your style, isn't it?"

"Says the man who's turned guilt into an art form." Doyle ignores that comment as unworthy, while Bodie sits up and rubs his eyes. "You coming back to bed or what?"

"Suppose I'll have to. Sun won't be up for hours."

"Don't do anything on my account mate," Bodie says, even as he makes room for Doyle.

"Don't be daft," Doyle says, affection overwhelming the irritation in his voice. "Do everything on your account, don't I?" He gets into bed and wraps himself around Bodie, burying his face comfortably in the crook of Bodie's neck.

"Do you?" Doyle can hear the caution in Bodie's voice, feel it in the tightness of his muscles.

"Yeah," Doyle says with absolute seriousness. He means this. Means it more than anything he's ever said, ever promised.

Bodie doesn't respond at first, doesn't move, just lies there stiff in Doyle's hold. But then Doyle feels the body under his touch relax, feels Bodie's hand come up to caress his side, feels Bodie plant an awkward kiss on the side of his face.

"Well, that's settled then, isn't it?" Bodie says.

"Yeah," Doyle says, happy for the moment even if he knows it's not going to be that easy. Not between the two of them. No, there'll be aggro and misunderstanding and sarkiness and frustration. But there'll also be this: the two of them lying together, skin to skin, content in each other's company, satisfied with each other's affection.

And it's enough. More than enough.

It's everything.

-- THE END --

March 2007

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