In Sickness and In Health
Four colds Bodie had and one he gave
"There's something wrong with you, you know that?"
Doyle turned round and flashed him a toothy grin, as if he'd been waiting for him to say that. "Why? Because you've been struck with the plague and I remain the healthiest man in Christendom?"
"For starters," Bodie snarled, with as much venom as he could muster.
"Ah, shut up, snotty."
Bodie made the mistake of trying to breathe in through his nose in defiance, choked and coughed horribly. The room erupted in laughter, which made his head pound all the more. He threw a few pencils at Anson and Jax, grinning at him from across the desks, but he wasn't really paying attention and his throw was weakened and they fell just short of their target. He felt his face get hot, so he turned back to Doyle.
Doyle handed him a couple of tissues without even bothering to look up from the report he was reading. Bodie took them with bad grace, shoving his sore nose into them, embarrassed.
"How can you be sat in a car with me all day and not get infected, eh?" Bodie was aware that that had sounded suspiciously like whining, but he didn't care all that much. It wasn't fair and he wanted Doyle to acknowledge this.
Doyle breathed out a smile, looking up at Bodie with mischievous amusement. He put the report down with intent, and Bodie suddenly dreaded what he might be about to say.
"Well, for one thing," Doyle began with an air of smugness. "I don't live off of beer and swiss rolls, so my immune system is better equipped to deal with the trials of everyday life. You can thank those vitamins you refuse to take for that one."
Bodie groaned, slumping forward in his chair to rest his aching head on his forearms. "You're a real sadist, you know that, Ray?"
"Second of all," Doyle went on, voice rising impressively as he warmed to his theatre. "I didn't spend half as long in that freezing cold lake as you did, because I wasn't trying to show off my swimming skills to the ladies stood on the bank."
"No, because you knew it was a lost cause," Bodie countered into his arms, weakly. Stonking head-cold or not, he wouldn't miss an opportunity to impress his bra-evaporating masculinity onto his partner, who sometimes forgot how manly Bodie was.
"And so I didn't sneeze all over them when they came to congratulate me, either." Doyle's lips were twitching viciously now, and Bodie wondered idly if he still had the strength to punch his partner. Looking into Doyle's gleeful little face, Bodie realised with dismay that he didn't have the energy to beat that gloating grin off the git.
"Third of all, I didn't insist on coming into work today in order to get sympathy from all and sundry."
"We have work to do!" Bodie wished he didn't sound so defensive. Doyle could smell guilt, though, and Bodie knew it all too well.
Doyle nodded, and Bodie's spirits lifted a little with the concession. "Paperwork that could have easily been done in the comfort of our own homes. In the comfort of your sick-bed," he added, pointedly. He shook his curly head in mock disappointment. "If only you weren't so determined to be a hero."
Bodie winced, feeling very silly all of a sudden. Doyle was right -- that was why he'd come into work today -- but he hadn't expected to actually BE ill. If he believed in anything, karma would be making a very strong case that day...
He sniffed, pitifully. "Not getting it though, am I? Sympathy. Alls I'm getting is grief. S'not fair to kick a man when he's down." A touch of superiority entered his tone then, and he flicked the page of his report over in a show of disgust.
Doyle grinned and stood up with triumph. "Oh, so you admit it, now? You've got a cold. Bodie the immortal has got a sniffle."
He'd won. Doyle had won. Bodie had let his guard down, and the little sneak had gotten in there. Bodie looked up at him, stood with his pigeon-chest puffed out and his hands on his hips, smiling happily. Bastard.
Bodie sniffed in defeat, and picked up his pen, refusing to say the words he knew Doyle wanted to hear. "Should have known you'd be like this. You're a copper, after all." It was a crap parting shot, but a parting shot it was, nonetheless. But Doyle didn't take the bait. Double bastard.
Doyle laughed, and turned to leave. "Ah, don't worry. You're lucky... I don't look half so sweet with my nose all red and rosy."
"Shut up." Bodie whimpered at the retreating back.
Three minutes later, a hot mug of sweet, lemony tea was set in front of him. Bodie smiled, and didn't say another word.
Just as he was wondering if it might be possible to vomit your own arse up, a cool hand rested on the back of his sweaty neck, making him jump.
"Shhh, shhhh. Don't worry. It's just me, mate."
Bodie's stomach, which had been sinking lower and lower towards his boots, suddenly up-jumped into his throat once more. He heaved before he was able to help himself, his stomach twisting him in two, his brain exploding out his eyes and his breath driven into the sour bowl.
The hand stayed on his neck, feeling wonderfully cold against his too-hot skin, while the other began to rub his back soothingly. Bodie shook his head, waiting for the feeling to pass. His gasps echoed round the porcelain and he shuddered at the sound.
When the immediate danger passed, Bodie hauled himself upright til his arms were resting on the toilet seat. The hands helped him straighten.
"What're you…what're you doing here?" He panted. He didn't know if he felt angry or relieved the sudden presence. He wiped a shaking hand across his forehead, frowning as it came away drenched.
"Saw you flee the scene. Thought you looked a funny colour." Fingers pushed the sweaty strands of hair away from his forehead, gently brushing them into place. The other hand moved from his back to rest on his cheek like an ice-pack. "Still do, actually. No colour at all."
Bodie refused to believe he was that obvious. He could feel himself shaking underneath the touch, and he couldn't allow him to know. Blindly, he pushed himself up from the tiles. The hands moved to support him under his arms, and even though he wanted to shove them aside and do it himself, it was clearly only thanks to them that he managed to stand at all. "So?"
"So, what what?" Bodie was in no mood to explain himself. He concentrated on putting one foot in front of the other, ignoring the arms wrapped round his aching middle, or the shoulder he was leaning on.
Suddenly, he was sitting on the bed, waiting for the world to go the right way up again. A rough thumb swept his chin, wiping away all traces of illness, and Bodie felt all the more sick with shame. He breathed in deep, trying to hold himself together as the hands deftly undressed him, pulling his clothes from him with the minimal amount of fuss.
The cold air of his flat rushed to meet his prickling skin, and he sighed in relief. The shaking of his limbs increased suddenly, and almost at once he was freezing cold. He could have cried, he felt so wretched.
"You shouldn't." How he managed to speak when his throat was so tight with humiliation, he didn't know.
"Shouldn't what, now?" A warm set of pyjamas were pulled over his head and legs. He was pressed into sinking back into his big pillows, and the silken duvet was pulled up to his neck.
"Shouldn't see me like this."
A warm weight settled on his legs, and he revelled in the bizarre comfort that weight gave him. A hand weaselled under the duvet and caught hold of his, giving it a brief squeeze.
"I'll see you anyway I want to see you, sunshine."
Bodie snatched the thumb of the hand holding his, and rubbed it under the covers. "I can't drink water."
For some reason, that had made more sense in his head. He drifted away from the candid words, because if he didn't think about them, he wouldn't know how ill he felt.
But he did, as usual. "Stomach flu, that is."
"Ridiculous." Bodie could barely move, his limbs felt so heavy and lifeless. He pushed his head deeper into the pillow, and forgot everything around him as he drifted into healing unconsciousness, his stomach loosening and his breath deepening.
What he didn't forget, however, was the feeling of warm lips on his forehead, nor the hand clenched round his.
Poor old sod. Didn't half turn mopey when he was laid-up.
Doyle glanced across the room: Bodie was lying, flat-out, on the sofa. Nestled under a thick, army-issue sleeping bag, hunkered in amongst his thick jumpers and Doyle's best wool scarf, with a rather fetching deer-stalker hat sitting at an angle on his head to complete the picture. Bodie was fast asleep, chin resting on his own chest.
Couldn't be good for his back, that.
Doyle set his book down on the table with a sigh, and crossed the room to the sofa. Kneeling in front of his sleeping friend, he very gently pushed Bodie back by the shoulders, so as he was leaning more on the sofa than himself.
He yelled in surprise as a hand thudded round his wrist, and another hand landed in his hair, pulling it tight. Bodie's eyes flew open, cold and dangerous, and he'd twisted both of his hands cruelly before he was entirely awake, forcing Doyle's neck round to an almost unnatural angle.
"Oi, Bodie, you great git!" Doyle cried out as he felt the skin of his arm and scalp aflame with pain, his arm and neck bending dangerously. "It's me, you stupid fucking oaf!"
Bodie blinked stupidly under the deer-stalker. As the last clouds lifted from his dull gaze, he let Doyle go as if he'd burned him. Doyle staggered back, holding his sore wrist in his other hand, glaring at Bodie as if he'd just kicked him in the arse.
Bodie sneezed loudly, rolled over and went back to sleep. Acting, for all the world, like a drowned puppy in a huff. Clearly, he hadn't been awake enough to realise what had just happened -- that he'd nearly put his partner out of a good gun hand. Doyle toyed with the idea of throwing something at him, but decided that, in the end, it wasn't really Bodie's fault.
Just this one -- just this once, mind -- he'd leave it be. And when Bodie woke up a few hours later, brighter in spirits and cheeks than he'd been in a couple of days, he didn't even notice that Doyle was favouring his other hand to serve the soup.
The things you do for friends when they're ill.
It was one thing to be miserable. It was quite another to be miserable because someone else was.
Bodie couldn't sleep. His nose was too blocked up, he felt like there was something extremely large and heavy pressing at the inside of his head, and his chest felt like it was being squeezed by Towser.
But it wasn't that that was keeping him awake, leaving him to stare at the ceiling, as if he could burn a hole through it just by concentrating. What was keeping him awake was on the other side of town, alone for the first time since... And anyway, why shouldn't he go see him?
He knew exactly why. He rolled over in annoyance and spent a good ten minutes hacking nastily into his pillow. He punched it. It made him feel slightly better, but he knew that something had to give. He had to know he was alright.
He was just...worried about him. The words felt foreign in his consciousness, but that was just how things were. He did worry for Doyle sometimes. And he was all alone in his flat, with healing holes through both sides of him, and Bodie couldn't see him. All for some stupid, pathetic cold.
It'd had taken a lot of persuading to get Bodie to leave Doyle alone all day. He'd tried to disguise the fact, blamed his bright red nose and watering eyes on autumnal hay fever or something. Had tried to creep into Doyle's flat to see him, even after he'd been expressly forbidden by Cowley. It had taken a rather severe bollocking by the old man, and a stark realisation that his head cold could possibly kill Doyle if he passed it on.... That had been a shock, that.
Bodie had returned with resignation to his cold, empty flat. And now he lay in bed, glaring up at the ceiling and wondering if Doyle was okay without him.
It was stupid. Of course he was alright. He was Doyle. He was absolutely unbreakable: nothing less was expected from a partner of Bodie's. He'd survived a near-murdering, he could survive one night alone from Bodie, who only annoyed the arse off him anyway. Nevermind that he'd been as weak as a kitten ever since he got home from the hospital. Nevermind his over-active mind had been working against him, pushing him deeper and deeper into a post-traumatic depression that not even Bodie was sure he could fetch him back from. Nevermind he'd lost all his spark, all his enthusiasm for living, all his irritation, his edge, his bite. Nevermind it was all buried under a ton of scar tissue that made Bodie look away every time he caught a glimpse of it.
The phone was in Bodie's hand even before he could sit up.
It rung too long. It rung too bloody long. He'd taken a fall, he'd overstretched himself, he'd fainted in the shower. Something had happened to him. If only Bodie had been there to--
Bodie let out a sigh of sheer relief as the dull-sounding voice answered. Only the sigh caught in his throat on the way out, and he started coughing. Thick, wet coughs which weren't very pleasant to experience, let alone have in your earhole.
"Oh, Bodie. Right in my lug." Doyle moaned quietly, and Bodie strove to quieten his coughs.
"Sorry, mate," he eventually got his breathing back under control. He realised with sudden dread that he should possibly, possibly have thought up an excuse for checking up on Doyle. He went silent as his mind quickly ran through a number of plausible possibilities, each more ridiculous than the last.
"Did you want something? Or is...or is phoning me up in...the middle...of the night a new hobby?"
Bodie winced at the short snaps of the sentence -- Doyle still couldn't get a full one out without having a rest, it seemed. Bodie rubbed his eye awkwardly, rather glad Doyle couldn't see him.
"Um, well, you know. I just...wondered how you were doing without me there, is all."
What? That hadn't been a lie. That was the truth! Clearly this cold had gotten deeper into Bodie's head than he'd perhaps realised.
He could hear Doyle's breathing quicken in surprise. A moment passed. "I don't like it."
Bodie was stunned by the plaintive tone Doyle used. Whenever Doyle exposed his deepest, darkest emotions, he usually did it at high volume and with a good deal of bad grace, often taking Bodie's eardrum with it. He did not do it at 2am on a cold evening across a sodding phone-wire.
"I wish I was there, mate."
Who'd said that? Had that been Bodie, again? What the fuck!
"So do I...silver-sleeves." Bodie could hear the grin in his voice as Doyle added the throw-away insult after a shuddering breath.
"Get better," Doyle's demand was bizarrely soft in Bodie's ears, but he'd hung up before Bodie had a chance to answer.
Bodie sniffed, and passed an arm over his streaming nose, his usual impeccable manner lost in the sickness. He put the phone down, and settled back in his bed.
The kettle whistled happily, and Bodie joined in with his own tune as he poured two steaming hot teas.
"God, pick a tune, any tune!"
The rough bellow filtered into the kitchen from the living room, and Bodie chuckled to himself. Oh, what a glorious day this was for the world. What a rapturous meeting of Fate and irony. The mighty health-freak himself had fallen, fallen to his own worst enemy.
Doyle had flu. And, best of all, Bodie had been the one to give it to him.
Bodie laughed again to himself, picked up the teas, and trotted into the living room. The scowl he received could have made a weaker man burst into tears. As it was, Bodie faltered slightly, before setting the tea down on the coffee table in front of the victim.
His partner took a break from scowling at him to reach forward delicately and pluck the mug from the table top, sitting back and taking a little sip as he did so. He balked, thrusting the tea at Bodie.
"There's no sugar in that."
Bodie frowned. "But...you don't take sugar! Do you?"
"No, I don't. But I am today," Doyle handed him the cup and went back to scowling at him.
Dutifully, and with increasingly wearing patience, Bodie took the tea back into the kitchen, dumped a good two spoonfuls into it's murky depths, and returned to sate the moody prince of plague.
Doyle took it and sipped it suspiciously, but didn't say anything. Bodie sat on the opposite chair to the sofa, and pretended to read a magazine that'd been left there -- one of the many Bodie had fetched in for Doyle when he'd been taken ill. But, secretly, he was spying on Doyle.
The scowl had gone, but in it's place was something worse: a rather pathetic, hang-dog expression of woe. Doyle's eyes and throat were all puffed up, and his misshapen face was pale and blotchy with dark patches of fatigue. His hair was greasy and standing up every which way, and he shivered underneath the blankets Bodie had fetched for him. He'd didn't half look poorly.
"Do you need another blanket, Ray?" Bodie asked casually, eyes returning to the magazine briefly. When he looked back up, Doyle had a face like fury once again. He didn't look nearly so ill when he was angry, apparently, and Bodie's suspicions were confirmed. Lucky he knew Doyle, because otherwise he'd have punched him around about the time that morning when his partner had thrown a book at his head for daring to suggest he take some Calpol.
"No, I don't need another blanket, idiot." Doyle's words were harsh, but a little too nasal for him to get away with it entirely.
Bodie sighed, put the magazine down and went over to sit next to his partner on the sofa. He clapped a hand over his knee.
"Ray, cut it out, yeah?"
"Cut what out?" Doyle asked, almost spitting in Bodie's face as he tried to move his leg away from him. Bodie held on, wrapping the other arm around his thin shoulders.
"I know you get mean when you're ill -- nasty little oik that you are -- but not even you can keep this up for much longer without doing yourself some damage." He started rubbing Doyle's shoulder affectionately, feeling as the tension eased slowly out of his back and arms. "Come on, admit it. You're poorly."
Doyle let out a sigh, and his expression of extreme dislike dropped away suddenly, revealing a bloke who just looked very, very tired. He hung his head. "Alright, alright... I'm poorly."
"There, now," Bodie grinned happily, leaning back and shoving Doyle's head onto his shoulder. "Wasn't so bad, was it?"
"And I know who fucking made me poorly, and all," Doyle said, a touch of menace taking over. He looked up at Bodie, and Bodie almost apologised at seeing the look in those hard green eyes.
Instead, he leant down and kissed Doyle quickly, tenderly on the lips. "'Course. And you wouldn't have it any other way."
"No," Doyle said, with a huge sniff right in Bodie's neck. "No, I suppose I wouldn't."
-- THE END --