Written for "Discovered in the Brandy Butter," on the discoveredinalj livejournal community, to the prompt of "Sherry Trifle"
As soon as the words had left his lips, he knew what he'd done. There was no need for a damage report this time. That was it. They were up.
He would have given anything to have those words back. To be able to take them back and swallow them, as far and as deep down as he could, even if it would have choked him. He felt like he was choking: the words had stolen his breath and were making his stomach heave up inside of him in disgust.
Bodie looked like he'd been slapped.
His face had gone white and hard and his mouth, which had been open in astonishment, was set into that deep, furious line which Doyle knew so well. All the light had gone out of his eyes, leaving them dull and hard. Doyle watched the twinkle be extinguished as his words fell into existence, hovering still in the suddenly icy air between them. Doyle shivered as he realised they didn't look quite like Bodie's eyes anymore.
A glint of moisture winked at him from the very corner of Bodie's cruelly down-turned mouth. Doyle's lips itched to cover it with a kiss of regret, but he held himself back. Bodie would probably hit him.
That was what he looked like he was about to do. Doyle could always tell when Bodie had lost control of his impeccable temper: he went rigid. He went completely rigid with anger, any softness in him suddenly contorting into hard, unmoving lines. And nothing -- no apology in the world -- could soften him. He had never had much mercy, and he certainly wasn't going to give Doyle any of something so precious ever again.
Doyle's fist clenched, sweaty and twitching, just waiting to give the punch back, even though he knew he could never, ever hit Bodie again. Not after what he'd just said. He didn't even deserve to hit him, not anymore. Didn't deserve to touch him.
The silence stretched on and on, making the moment agonisingly long. Doyle's chest was burning and his heart felt the scold. He had no idea how to put this right.
Bodie was looking away, now. Focusing on something near the floor, angry eyes shaded by lashes too long to be fair. Doyle missed his stare already, and his hope sank with the realisation that he'd never have that gaze again. He'd never again feel Bodie's eyes burning into his back as he worked, never feel that thrill of pure sensation up his spine as that flash of blue fell upon him. All he'd have now was this: blank, unfeeling nothingness. Silence.
And, what was worse, he knew he deserved it. No wonder Bodie couldn't even look at him: what had done to show his gratitude for those looks, for that friendship? He'd hurt someone so close to him he didn't think he could stand it. He would have killed to have those words back.
Too quick to stop and not one to look back, Bodie spun neatly on his heel, and walked away from him. Away from the words, away from the worthless piece of crap he called a partner. And the door slamming behind him made Doyle jump as if it were gunfire, even though he'd watched the process in motion.
And then he was left alone.
He had no idea how long he stood there, alone in his own living room. The snow drifted past the frosted windows, lit by the inside glow of his home, but he could take no pleasure in it. It clung to the window panes, melting against the sudden heat, forming pools around the black lead that separated each diamond of glass. But still, Doyle stood there, frozen. The ridiculous beauty of something so simple depressed him completely.
Eventually, he breathed again, as if waking up. He walked stiffly to the drinks cabinet under the window, relieving it of the prize bottle of Scotch he was half-thinking of giving to Cowley. Anonymously, of course.
Switching the telly on, he took the bottle back to the sofa and flung himself down at length. The first gulp burned, branding his throat as he struggled to swallow it. The second one was easier. He turned the volume up, and watched as Morecambe slapped Wise about the face. It should have been hysterical: would have made Bodie laugh til he bleeding cried, soft shite that he was.
Doyle turned the volume up further, till he could no longer hear his own mind above the laughter of the audience.
And there he stayed, eyes fixed almost-unblinkingly on the screen, until the seemingly endless reams of Christmas television shrank to a tiny white dot in the middle of a blank blackness. Then the silence came again. And the silence that hurt more than a punch ever could have done.
Why did he have to go say that? What on earth was he thinking, saying that to Bodie? But in the heat of the moment, in the midst of his own flaring temper -- how dare Bodie get creased by a bullet, how dare he put Doyle through such an ordeal, the day before Christmas Eve -- his tongue had lashed out of its own accord, and he'd said the worst thing he could have done.
He couldn't even hope for forgiveness. He'd said the one thing he knew would hurt Bodie the most. And all was hopeless.
He sniffed, and a feeling of such intense guilt and sadness filled his chest, making it hard to breathe. He tried to push it back down with the Scotch, but it was too much for him and he choked. The harsh, rattling coughs that followed turned all too quickly to sobs, and he leaned back into the sofa, looking up at the ceiling through his tears, as if that would give him any comfort. It didn't, so he shut his eyes against the pain.
Out of the darkness, a hand grabbed him. Doyle started awake with a cry, arms coming up to defend himself as he kicked out in shock.
"Fuck, Doyle!" Startled hands wrapped around his forearms, holding them down by his legs.
It was Bodie. Of course it was Bodie. Bodie always came. Even now, when he should have been resting -- he looked pale behind that white bandage -- he always came through for Doyle.
Doyle was about to smile -- was about to launch into some self-indulgent rant about Bodie's rude manners, or the annoyingly presumptuous habit he had of letting himself into Doyle's flat without asking -- when he remembered what had happened. He let out a sigh.
"Jesus, Doyle, your breath could strip the hair off a badger's arse!"
Doyle lowered his head, feeling ashamed and embarrassed for Bodie to find him like this, especially after what he'd said. It was humiliating. The room tilted traitorously to the side as he tried to keep his knees in focus. He was waiting for his punishment, because this was it: Bodie was putting an end to their partnership, and it was all his fault.
There was a short silence, and then warm hands -- warmer than they should have been on such a cold night -- took a hold of his face, tilting it towards the light. Doyle did not resist, but he could not look Bodie in the eye. Couldn't take his gaze from the bandage, stark white against the sulky darkness of Bodie's hair.
"What have you been up to, ey?"
Bodie's voice was so soft -- too soft for what Doyle deserved, and Doyle shut his eyes against it. He couldn't stand the kindness; he deserved nothing of the sort. He could feel a rough thumb brush gently over his crumbled cheekbone, and he could feel tears beginning to well up again in his closed eyes at the aching touch.
A quick breath fluttered on his skin and the warm hands left his cheeks. A butterfly touch to his neck and then shoulders, before a matey pat on the arm. "I'll get the coffee on, mate. You need it."
Doyle nodded mutely and, eyes still closed, sat back and listened to the crashed and the clatter as Bodie abused his kitchen without mercy.
He wanted the sofa to yawn open and swallow him up: he felt sick to the stomach, sick with desperation and dread. Bodie always dithered when he had something important to say, when he'd been thinking really carefully about something. Didn't just fly off the handle like Doyle always did. Didn't go in hot-headed, didn't go in without being fully briefed... Bodie stayed cool.
This was it. Doyle was for it: Bodie had had enough of his shit, and this was it. He didn't sound angry, though... Gentle approach, then. Nice cop.
The snow had stopped while Doyle had been passed out. The blue morning was seeping through the black night sky, but the stars were left behind as a reminder of the evening before.
A steaming mug of coffee was placed before him, and he was forced to take a sip: very strong and very sweet, exactly how he liked it. It did make him feel a bit better, actually. But Bodie was sitting on his coffee table and glaring at him, and Doyle couldn't drink any more all of a sudden. He kept the mug in his lap, though, because it warmed his hands.
Another long silence draped the room.
"I wish you wouldn't look so miserable, Ray," Bodie said -- quickly and without preamble -- looking down at his own mug.
Doyle frowned before he could help himself, contrary to a fault.
They sat in silence a bit longer. A dog barked in the distance, but neither of them noticed it.
"Brought you this... Peace offering or something." Bodie sounded bashful -- Bodie never sounded bashful.
He twisted, reaching around behind him and picking up a red-wrapped bowl shape; the wrapping crinkled loudly as he clutched it. "Was keeping it for Christmas, but thought it might do you, now... Marks and Sparks, like, so I wouldn't sniff at it..." He batted it back and forth between big hands, anxiety tingling in his suddenly lilting accent.
Doyle felt his lips twitch, amused despite himself. "Sherry trifle?"
Bodie's smile took him by surprise: he'd thought he'd never see it again. It was wide and sudden and happy, and it made Bodie look so much younger.
"Thought you'd lost your voice, mate. Yeah, sherry trifle. Bit poncey, I know, but it's Christmas, isn't it? Well, nearly..."
Doyle's head dipped again, avoiding the smile that made him feel old and unworthy.
He heard Bodie sigh in what sounded like frustration, but he didn't know what he could do to make everything right again. Not when he felt so rotten about what he'd said. He was frightened, and he wanted more than anything to not have said what he'd said. If he'd just had a bit of self control for once in his fucking life, this wouldn't have happened.
"Don't be." Bodie's voice was very firm all of a sudden, and it made Doyle look up. There was the anger. Bodie's eyes were hard and very, very blue. "You didn't say anything I didn't know already. Just... took me by surprise you'd say it, is all."
Doyle set his mug on the carpet, and looked down at his hands, kneading his knuckles with his fingertips till they went white. "Well, obviously, I didn't really mean it... Just said it to get one up on you, didn't I?"
The lie brought a bitter taste to his mouth, and the pressure in his chest got a bit worse. But if it made everything alright again, a lie was worth it. He hated lying, especially to Bodie, but if it kept him his partner, anything was worth it.
But the silence came again, and he knew -- he just fucking knew -- he'd said the wrong thing. Bodie was looking down now, and his mouth was working as he thought: a sure sign he was thinking about something very difficult indeed. Like an end to them.
Doyle waited, trying not to lose himself in his fear and misery. He deserved this: he had no one to blame but himself.
Eventually, Bodie spoke, but he did not look up from where his own hands were clasped, around the mug of coffee in his lap. "You know how.... You know how when you take a gulp of tea. And it's too hot, and you know it is, but it's too late to do anything about it." He fiddled with the handle of the chipped mug. "And it burns you all the way down your throat, and it's painful and you think you can't stand it-- "
He coughed suddenly, cutting off the quick ramble with an awkward shift, his eyes still resolutely down. "But you do it anyway. Then, when it gets to your belly, it's.... it's like the warmest feeling, and you never expected it could feel like that."
A smile that was barely allowed to be there. "That's... what you make me feel... Sort of."
A cough and a quick flinch. "A bit."
Doyle stared at him. The very tips of Bodie's ears had gone the deepest, truest shade of red.
"It's not... It's not exactly what I meant. But, yeah. General idea, and that." Bodie sniffed and rubbed at his nose distractedly with the back of his hand.
"So when you said -- when you said what you said, before... Earlier on. I just walked away because... well, because I knew it was true, you know?" He cleared his throat, chin working forward in determination. "Didn't know how to say it."
Bodie smiled to himself, bashful. "Still don't, clearly."
He then put his mug on the floor with a loud bang, furious all of a sudden. "For Christ's sake, Doyle, say something, will you?"
Doyle leaned forward and kissed him. He hoped that would say everything for him, because it was all he could think to do in the face of such utter sweetness.
His hand wrapped around the back of Bodie's neck and drew him close, and he pressed his mouth over those sweet, down-turned lips. He felt warm fingers press instinctively into the skin at his hip, working upwards under his jumper, and his kiss deepened in gratitude as his body shivered under Bodie's strong touch. He felt the small, unconscious grunt Bodie made deep within his throat as it echoed across his lips, and he smiled.
Slowly, achingly slowly, they drifted apart, but Doyle kept their heads close to with his hand, rubbing at the soft almost-curls high up on Bodie's neck. He searched the pale face, looking for something he couldn't even define. It seemed that, for once, there was nothing between them.
Bodie's eyes were impossible, but Doyle held them with his anyway. There was a small gleam in them, a small shimmer of something beneath the surface of cool blue, breathing something deeper and brighter into the familiar gaze. Whatever it was fascinated Doyle, but he felt awed by it. The hope he'd kissed only moments ago began to fade once again within his chest, shrivelling in the light of self-knowledge.
"Ray... Don't. Whatever you're thinking of now -- don't. I can't stand it."
A kiss, so tentative and tender, brushed his cheek before it was gone, and Doyle's breath shuddered in surprise. He reached up, his fingers rubbing the tingling spot where Bodie's kiss had pressed into his skin, and looked up at his partner.
And suddenly, everything was fine. Bodie's sunny grin -- slowly inching across his face, making his nose wrinkle and his eyes squint with happiness -- was proof enough. Doyle should have given him much more credit, should have given them much more credit. He was a fool, but a reckless one.
He grinned, feeling the warmth of Bodie's answering chuckle spread to his very fingertips. He moved forward and wrapped his arms around Bodie's neck in an uncharacteristic display of affection: he needed to show Bodie. There was a small noise of surprise before strong arms held him willingly, and hands delved into his curls, soothing him. He laughed wetly against Bodie's chest, feeling more wonderful than ten Christmases on top of each other.
"I did mean it, though, you know. I fucking love you."
A deep thrill of a laugh, and a kiss into his curls. "You're a bloody berk, you know that?"
"I know that."
-- THE END --