Set after "Rogue"

It was close to midnight when Doyle began rolling his drink around in his glass, savouring and considering it, like every facet of the damn thing had to be noted and stored away for future reference; Bodie could actually see the cogs turning. Their vague attempts at conversation had petered out some half an hour previously, and the charade that they were together to talk had long since been dropped. There was no reason for Doyle to remain perched on Bodie's sofa, or, at least, no tangible reason -- but that unspoken and far too familiar phrase hung in the air between them like a promise, and neither of them seemed in a hurry to say goodnight.

I don't want to be alone.

Betrayal leaves a nasty taste in a guy's mouth, don't you know, and it looked particularly dark outside Bodie's window that evening; the stars seemed to hang too heavily, crumbling under the weight of the sky, and Bodie thought of the Cow curled up alone on the other side of town. How he'd looked too old and too small in his hospital bed. Then he thought of his own fumbled jokes tumbling gracelessly from his lips like apologies, and yelling at Doyle to take-him-Doyle-take-him, and he said, "Are you gonna drink that or are you just gonna look at it?"

Doyle glanced up, eyes wide and surprised, which meant he'd actually forgotten he wasn't alone -- Bodie wondered if he should be annoyed or worried or anything at all. But then Doyle inclined his head ever so slightly, this understated gesture seeming to Bodie like a show of carefully pitched nodding-dog soldier obedience, and there was a smile playing about his lips as he downed the drink in one. Bodie couldn't quite shake the feeling that he was being mocked, but all the same he thought, how much is too much for him to drive? He wondered where one drew the line between hospitality and manipulation, shoulder twinging like it was desperate for attention, and Doyle must have noticed something in his eyes then because he muttered, "War-wound alright?"

Bodie shrugged, a decision he instantly regretted, but his smile didn't waver even for a second. "I'll live," he said, and Doyle smiled back.

It was the kind of night where everything simmered directly below the surface, dangerous and unspoken and just out of reach, and Bodie wasn't sure exactly what they were drinking to. Perhaps, he decided, to that greatest of mercies, company when it was most needed. But Doyle was all hunched up in the corner of the seat -- knees up, one hand pulling on his hair, eyes unfocused, every inch of him quietly concentrated and achingly closed off -- and Bodie wondered what he was thinking, even though he was afraid to ask. Company's not company if you can't even talk to them, is it?

He was vaguely aware of himself mumbling, "Penny for 'em."

Doyle was chewing nervously on his thumb like he wanted to say something but he wasn't sure what, and Bodie raised his eyebrows in that way he had of trying to back up his point. He remembered that the last time he'd slept was in a hospital corridor perhaps a day ago, feeling Doyle's eyes on the side of his head as he drifted off, trying not to think about anything. The differences between them sometimes felt huge and insurmountable. On this night, there was no way they could have been with anybody else.

"I dunno, Bodie," he sighed, looking like he had all the weight of the world on his shoulders. "I just, I can't quite--"

"Believe it?"

Doyle looked up, and Bodie blinked under the weight of his gaze, feeling so ridiculously exposed that it was a relief when he finally nodded and glanced away. Bodie thought that what's important after you've been lied to is probably the truth, and what the truth was, was that you fashioned these candyfloss, fairytale exteriors and pretended like everything was fine when you went to visit your boss in hospital, but the job chipped away and chipped away at them until you ended up here. Sat up in the middle of the night with the only person who understood, raw and transparent on your couch, suspended in the light from a nearby lamp and laid open for all the world to see by a single look from him. And that, there, that was the truth.

"The thing is," Doyle mumbled. "Cowley trusted him. I mean you know he did, Cowley trusted Martin and he was wrong."

Bodie wondered what he was meant to say to that (except, perhaps, you're right), so he kept silent. There had been a change in the air, like every word was vital, which meant that Doyle had ordered things sufficiently well in his head to be able to talk about it. After a moment he continued, "What if he's made other... mistakes? CI5 means incorruptible, you know, it means that we're picking people -- or rather, they're picking people -- and making them above the law. Well not above the law but, sort of-"

"No, I know what you mean," Bodie prompted, well aware of Doyle's tendency to distract himself with semantics whenever he got tired.

"Well, I meant... I meant, how can we decide who's 'worthy'? People are corruptible; they just are, aren't they, anyone could change. And it's, it's hard to know who to trust."

For a moment, they were silent. Doyle sat still, staring at his knees and looking bruised and troubled, while Bodie tried not to stare -- he felt a bit like all the air had been knocked out of him, like maybe he'd forgotten how to talk and there was a battle raging in his head to remember words. What was he supposed to say to that? If this was Doyle's way of asking if he could trust him, well, he wanted to say yes. He wanted to say, to the ends of the earth, you pillock. It was harder than he felt perhaps it should have been, and when he spoke it sounded more aggressive than he meant it to.

"Are you saying you think one day you're gonna look up and see me pointing a gun in your face?" he asked, and Doyle's head snapped up.

"Don't be thick, Bodie, course that's not what I'm saying."

Even though Doyle looked incredulous, almost offended, and Bodie knew he should be embarrassed, he was actually fighting to keep the smile off his face. He liked the idea that he was unquestionably above suspicion, what it said about them. He liked it a lot.

It was after three in the morning when Bodie eventually crawled into bed. He'd left Doyle asleep on the couch, having reached such a state of overtiredness that he was trying desperately not to laugh at how ridiculously innocent the man looked when he was out for the count, even with a black eye. Bodie could kip anywhere, in hospital corridors, anywhere he needed to, but Doyle couldn't, and it made Bodie wonder when exactly he'd last slept.

Bodie himself was exhausted, and fell asleep on top of the covers as soon as his head touched the pillow.

It was ten to six, according to the clock by Bodie's bed, when he woke up in agony: he'd been too tired to think about his shoulder when he lay on it and this, it transpired, was not the brightest thing he'd ever done. He felt his muscles shake with the effort of sitting up, breathing heavily from the pain, and pulled himself out of bed. What did one take for a stab-wound, exactly? He couldn't help feeling that this was slightly outside paracetamol's league.

The sun was just coming up, which gave Bodie's kitchen a vaguely orange glow. He remembered at the last minute that he'd been given something or other by the hospital, and took two with a glass of water, desperate to get back to bed.

But then he heard someone grunt nearby, and he jumped.

Doyle was still asleep on the couch, not a million miles away, and Bodie laughed under his breath as he wandered over to inspect the damage, crouching down so that they were about level. The blanket he'd thrown across him a couple of hours ago lay pooled on the floor, which meant that Doyle had been thrashing about in his sleep and, indeed, his brow was furrowed in something akin to discomfort. Looking troubled, Doyle mumbled something incomprehensible.

And then, no.

And then, Bodie.

Bodie winced, feeling like he was intruding on something that Doyle wouldn't have wanted him to see. It wasn't like he hadn't had nightmares once or twice, different things affected different people and the odd thing had really gotten to him, but eavesdropping on your best mate's subconscious seemed to cross some kind of a line. All the same, though, he felt bizarrely reluctant to just leave when Doyle was clearly... he struggled to pick as clinical a word as possible, and settled for 'distressed'.


"Hey," he muttered, without even really meaning to say anything at all. "Calm down, Ray. Whatever it is, it's just a dream, alright?"

Bodie jumped when thin fingers locked around his wrist but, even though his breathing hitched from the shock, he didn't pull away. Instead, he stayed crouched there until the grip loosened and fell away, until Doyle looked less unhappy, then threw the blanket over him again and returned to bed.

Bodie fell asleep easily. He dreamt about waiting in endlessly long hospital corridors for endless amounts of time; it looked like the hopsital where they'd visited Cowley, only he was waiting alone. The wooden ward door was locked, and he couldn't find any doctors, but he kept hearing someone call his name from behind it. Bodie. Bodie.

It was sometime after ten when Bodie blinked his eyes open once again, stretching lazily and running a hand down his face. It had gotten very light outside. He sat up slowly, noting as he did so the sounds of television drifting in from the other room, which meant that Doyle was awake, so he got up and padded off to see him.

Doyle was sat right on the edge of the couch, hunched over a cup of tea like he was trying to curl into himself, blanket draped round his shoulders. He looked bizarrely like a shock victim -- all wrapped up and taken care of after some disaster -- and Bodie couldn't explain why the mental image concerned him when he knew that Doyle was just engrossed in whatever he was watching. He grinned when Bodie sat down beside him, then said, "Morning." Odd how such a simple change made him look completely different.

"Sleep alright?"

Doyle shrugged and said, "You?"

Bodie bit the inside of his lip to stop himself from looking guilty when he remembered the look on Doyle's face, how it felt to hear his name mumbled and to eavesdrop on the things that Doyle kept secret, the things he had no right to know about and never asked about and never thought about.

Bodie almost said big mouth, but he didn't. He said, "Like a baby." Then he grinned until he thought his face would fall off.

It was just a little before one in the afternoon when Bodie found himself huddled over a cafe table, drinking lukewarm tea and half-heartedly shmoozing the bored-looking waitress. When she bent over to collect their menus, he could see the inch of dark hair at the top of her head where her roots were growing through, and wondered why he wasn't looking at her cleavage instead.

He ate a sandwich that tasted nicer than it looked -- which was lucky, really, because it looked awful -- and attacked Doyle's chips just because he could. For his part, Doyle pretended to mind, while his eyes smiled at Bodie from underneath a curtain of haphazard curls.

Outside, the sun had gone behind a cloud, and the entire high street was painted in different shades of grey.

Twice Bodie tried mentioning that he'd seen how much things were playing on Doyle's mind, and did he want to talk about it? He stopped himself both times before he could even open his mouth, but all the same he thought, he will when he needs to. The previous night (or rather, early that morning), Bodie felt that Doyle had changed the subject of their conversation without saying everything he'd meant to, which made him think, well, that makes both of us.

Just as they'd almost finished eating, Doyle said, "What I don't get, right, is how Cowley's gonna keep on going after this."

Bodie blinked. "Sorry," he said. "What?"

"This. After all this with Martin, how's he gonna... How's he gonna be able to recruit people, knowing one of his oldest friends betrayed him?"

The waitress sauntered past with two mugs of tea for the young couple sat in the window, and Bodie wondered if they were actually in the best place to talk about this. He had a feeling they probably weren't, but considered the question nonetheless.

"What, so you... you think he'll just suspect everyone now? All the time?"

"I don't see how he can not. I mean, think about it, if someone he trusted so much could just--"

"No," Bodie interrupted, shaking his head. "It doesn't work like that."

"Doesn't it?" Doyle was scowling, eyes dark and concealed, but something about the tone of his voice gave Bodie the strangest sensation. It was inexplicable, a lightbulb coming on, but after a moment he realised that, without explanation, he could see what was wrong. He couldn't explain why, but he knew. He knew Doyle understood that he'd never betray him, but also that Doyle had found himself wondering, what would happen if he did? That he'd considered all his options and discovered so much dependence it was frightening.

Bodie wanted to say, it's different.

He wanted to say, it doesn't matter.

He wanted to say, I promise, promise that I will not let you down.

"Nope," he said instead. "Just doesn't."

It was a Monday afternoon when they went to collect Cowley from the hospital -- they arrived a little early and had to wait for him to finish being checked over, perched next to each other in a room that smelled like antiseptic and fear. In the corner, there was a woman in a blue dress crying quietly, and the curtains were drawn as if it hid the fact that it was raining.

"Cheerful place," Bodie muttered, and Doyle ducked his head to laugh. He aimed an elbow somewhere in the direction of Bodie's ribs, mumbling something about being respectful.

"Oh come on, sunshine, it's a waiting room, not a library."

Doyle raised his eyebrows and said, "As if you'd know how libraries look on the inside."

Bodie grinned, then, and Doyle grinned back. On the other side of the room, there was a little girl tugging on the woman's hand and telling her to look, look Mummy a rainbow, and a nurse appeared in the doorway to say that Cowley would only be five more minutes. They nodded, and she left. If you ignored the woman, the child, the unlocked door, they were alone, and it was as good a time as any for Bodie to mumble, "Look. I just, I wanted to say that--"

"Don't." It was quietly spoken, but firm, and Bodie turned to look at him. He was staring resolutely at one of the dreary NHS posters, mouth set in a thin line. Slowly, he reached out and touched Doyle's arm. It wasn't far to go, but it felt somehow like it had taken days. He said, quietly, "No, but I just wanted you to know that-"

"I know." When he finally turned to face Bodie, he looked sad but he was smiling as he added, "Really. I do."

And Bodie nodded. And it was enough.

-- THE END --

May 2007

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