As Perennial As the Grass
Sequel to Amid the Noise and Haste
Written for the "Discovered in Thirty Years Time" challenge on the discoveredinalj livejournal community
Doyle turned the tap off and stretched up to peer through the small kitchen window into the back garden. He shook his head. The pillock had fallen asleep on damp grass. Again. Might as well nag the dog as point things out to his bone-headed other half. Tempted to shout out the window and watch him sputter awake and deny falling aleep all in the same breath, Doyle found he could do no such thing once the first soft snore reached his ears. So he took in the view instead.
The old tablecloth Doyle had given Bodie to spread out and work on was rolled up and under his head as a pillow. He had his glasses weighting down his papers, a bee hovering over a half eaten sandwich beside him, and Bertha in a graceless terrier-sprawl over his left knee. And that, thought Doyle, as he dried his hands, is about my lot in life.
His lot in life coughed. Just once, but enough to dislodge Bertha. Another cough, a shift to get comfortable and Doyle paused. Not that Bodie was in danger of anything more than a sniffle and an evening of regret, which would, in truth, serve the bugger right and teach him to listen to sense now and again. Still, no matter how Bodie grumbled and muttered 'worry wart', Doyle knew he was entitled to worry over this. Both had lasted far longer than any could have predicted in the A squad, but a month after the Berlin Wall fell, so did another kind of wall. This one was attached to four floors in south London at the time, and finally did it for Bodie and CI5. A collapsed lung care of a collapsed building care of the IRA took him to Intensive Care, pneumonia for a second and far more dangerous time, and to lungs whose scars would never heal enough for the A squad. There were debts to pay for survival into a quieter, post-CI5 world and Bodie's price was his lungs. He had a cough that never quite went away no matter how warm it got, an inhaler he lost frequently and deliberately, and an alarming ability to turn a simple cold into a chest rattle if Doyle didn't corner him first with Vicks and eucalyptus.
As he watched, Bodie's hand settled on an upside down book on his stomach. In a burst of deja vu Doyle was smiling and heading for the airing cupboard before the words 'Hercule Poirot' had even formed.
"One step closer with that, Raymond, and I'll set Bertha on you."
Eyes closed, breathing still nice and even and Doyle was impressed. Never could get much past Bodie. Unfortunately. He wasn't that impressed, though. Within seconds a multi-colured patchwork blanket dropped down, covering Bodie loosely from toe to chest and including the dog too.
"Go on then," said Doyle, standing straight again and grinning.
Bertha eased herself away all of two paces, sneezed, and put her dark head down on her paws. Bodie opened an eye and squinted down. "See? Even the dog thinks it's horrible. How I ever let you keep-"
A faint click, a whirr, and Bodie didn't have to look up to know what Doyle had just done.
"Always wanted to do that. Cheers. You look lovely, mate." Doyle let the camera dangle from his wrist. "Shall email this off to Bruce, have him do the new club calendar with it."
Bodie finally opened both eyes and used his hand to shield the glare from the sun as he looked in Doyle's direction.
"Are you going to stand there making the place look untidy and blocking the only bit of sun this garden gets, or are you going to get down here and make yourself useful?"
"Yeah, useful. I've got an itch." Bodie's head was back down, eyes closed and he was fighting to keep a smile off his face. "Thought you could, y'know, scratch it."
"Oh you did, did you?" But there wasn't an ounce of venom in it. Lying there in a faded denim shirt with the sleeves rolled up, and ridiculous blanket aside, the look of one William Andrew Philip Bodie could still take Doyle's breath away on occasion. An ability which annoyed him and had him grateful beyond words in about equal measure. Bodie had kept his weight down over the years and his hair was as dark as it had ever been, the first touches of grey only now beginning at the temples. (His own, much to Bodie's delight and sense of one upmanship, had silvered out completely by the time he'd hit fifty). Bodie's hair was no longer the army cut of old, though, and Doyle at least had something to hold onto when he kissed him these days. A remark that had earned him no end of digs about his own shoulder length hair, which he refused to cut and/or perm, no matter how nostalgic and sentimental Bodie got when he was plastered.
"Bodie. I've got to figure out why MI6 can't access some of their database before they come calling on Thursday and no end of-"
"Yeah, yeah, yeah. Get down here, you. Stop making a happy man very old." Not bothering to open his eyes, Bodie simply extended his right hand. Doyle took it and allowed himself to be pulled down into an ungainly crouch. His kneecaps violently cracked their reluctance to take him there.
"Bloody hell, sunshine," said Bodie, letting go Doyle's hand and propping himself up on his elbows. Doyle met Bodie's gaze with a rueful smile of his own.
"I know, I need a--"
"-firing licence for those," they chorused together.
Doyle gave in to the urge to trace a line down the smiling face in front of him with his free hand, while he splayed the other on the grass to keep his balance. Bodie sucked in a wayward finger, swirled his tongue over the tip and Doyle's balance became a moot point.
"ge' your 'arsh dow'," said Bodie around his finger.
Doyle shivered and had to clear his throat. "Jesus, Bodie, what you do to me.. All right, all right, just give me a minute. And give me my bloody finger back." It took nearly a minute. If Bodie's legacy was a dodgy pair of lungs, then the price Doyle paid for civilian life was less visible but in many ways more deadly. He had arthritis in his joints, and a cane in his not-too-distant future, but he also had a blood pressure problem that was proving difficult to get a handle on. That and cholesterol had changed his diet forever five years ago. By default and sheer laziness in the kitchen, Bodie's had changed too.
"Five minutes, Bodie. And give me some pillow."
In answer Bodie tugged at him until he was on his left side with his head on Bodie's right shoulder and the blanket was over-solicitously shared instead.
"There you go, sunshine, wouldn't want you catching a chill and making my life a misery now would we?"
"Piss off," said Doyle, kissing his neck. Bodie's head turned and Doyle felt an answering press of lips on his forehead.
"You first," was the husky reply.
And that, for a couple of lovely, quiet, contented minutes, was that. The faint sound of a lawn mower, the easy thump of Bodie's heart and the rustle of leaves from the rhododendron bush all had Doyle drifting nicely. Until he rolled forwards a little more onto his partner and got something sharp and uncomfortable in his stomach. Delving under the blanket, his hand brought out a spiral bound book. He squinted down and read the cover aloud.
" 'Tippmen 98, Angel LCD, Evo-Autococker, E-Mag Tracer, Splatmaster'.. I worry about you sometimes. What are you doing down at that club of yours, Dungeons and Dragons?"
"Bruce reckons he can court more Hooray Henries in for the three-day packages if we upgrade. Said I'd look into it."
"Jesus, Bodie, look at this stuff. Nine-hundred quid for something that pelts out a bit of Dulux?"
"Don't knock it, sunshine, you have no idea how much money these types'll pay to run around the New Forest thinking they're Rambo." Doyle was hugged a little closer. "Keep you in broccoli pies forever, I will."
Bodie and paintballing. Cowley would turn in his grave at such a notion. But the club had turned out to be the most unlikely and timely of life-savers. Doyle had surpised many - least of all himself - by staying on after Bodie had been forced out of CI5. He had shifted sideways, though, taking himself off the street and into the arms of the future. The first time he had seen an agent pull up reams of information on a screen without a room's worth of noisy equipment behind it, it had been love at first sight. His curiosity and aptitude had served him well. So much so that he was now a highly paid, semi-retired consultant for the various security services, and could do most of it from their tiny slice of high-walled Victoriana in Chiswick. They had tried and failed to leave London twice, and had now resigned themselves to the fact that the city was in their blood and Chiswick was as far west as they were ever going to get.
But well before Chiswick Doyle had drooled over servers and firewalls to the extent of missing the danger signs of a discontented Bodie. Seemingly adrift, Bodie had done the predictable, perhaps, and spiralled into scowling and drinking, which Doyle in his long hours and new enthusiasms had been slow to see. It had taken a vitriolic row and a near punch-up one night to realise that it was something that needed fixing fast if they had any real chance of lasting the course.
At his wits end, Doyle had acted on a whim and dragged his partner to a shooting range to get it all 'the fuck out of your fucking system, Bodie'. The owner had strolled over to watch and, suitably impressed, had introduced himself. Ex-army and SAS, Bruce Clayton had an autistic son he needed to spend more time with and was looking for a more hands-on partner. Would Mr Bodie be at all interested..? House on fire did not really touch the ease with which the two ex-military men got on, so Bodie the gunrunner (as Doyle liked to quip) was born.
Doyle absently reached out for Bertha, who had crawled up behind him to rest her whiskery head on his thigh. Old girl. At least three years past her life expectancy the vet guessed. He smiled as he remembered. Two days later, after a meeting with Bruce to work out the details, Bodie had turned up drunk and late again. But this time happy and maudlin with it. He'd solemnly presented Doyle with the most battered roses he'd ever seen, and a soaking wet puppy from the bins behind the pub. A strange declaration of love and apology to be sure. But Doyle had accepted the flowers, kept the man and the dog, and life with a happier Bodie had begun.
Speaking of which.. Bertha and Bodie picked the exact same moment to let out a yawn either side of him and Doyle could do little but chuckle into Bodie's collarbone. Bertha shook her head at him and moved off. "Will you bloody look at us? Two ageing queens and their dog holding hands under a blanket."
"I dunno what you're doing, Raymond, but I'm holding your hand, not the dog's. Can hold something else if you'd like."
"Dirty old man."
"Given half the chance."
A rustle, a wriggle, and Doyle suddenly found his head on the makeshift pillow and a smiling Bodie a few inches away.
"Fancy a fuck, 4.5?"
Bodie's left hand went unerringly to Doyle's groin, resting on the zip to his jeans with a not ungentle pressure. Doyle opened his mouth to protest and suddenly he had Bodie's tongue in there instead. He pulled away gently, aware that Bodie's rhythm on his cock was not stopping. He had a problem getting hard sometimes but judging from the pulse and confinement he was feeling down in his jeans, today was not one of those times.
So he closed his eyes, luxuriating in the bliss of it; in the time, the place and all that he had managed to keep hold of in his life to bring him to this garden and this Tuesday afternoon under a blanket with Bodie. He opened his eyes and took hold of the face before him, smoothing a well-worn line under Bodie's eyes with his thumbs. He watched Bodie swallow and kiss his thumb. Doyle moved his right hand down to the heat at Bodie's groin, mirroring his partner's gesture. Then he kissed him and spoke into his mouth.
"How about a hand job, 3.7?"
It was minimal and it was sublime. Nothing came off, just zippers and boxers were pulled down and aside. Doyle held his palm to Bodie's mouth and Bodie understood immediately, slicking it up and then sliding his tongue between every finger. Doyle groaned - it was impossble not to - but he got his own back when Bodie offered his own hand up, and he sucked on his fingers for all he was worth. Then they simply held on mouth to mouth and rubbed each other to one of the sweetest climaxes in a very long time. Bodie came first, lips open on Doyle's jaw. His hand inevitably stilled in the concentration of it and Doyle turned, desperate to find Bodie's mouth with his own. He knew what would get him there would be one more kiss, one more push down in all that slickness between them...
It took a while for the hammering of his heart to let the world around him back in. When it did, he heard Bodie panting and laughing beside him. A minute or two more and he was ready for speech again. A hand on his jaw turned him to face a pair of very happy looking blue eyes.
"Enjoy that did you, Constable?"
And just like that the years fell away and they were back in that room, at that desk, smiling into each other's eyes for the first time and ready to save the world.
"Yeah," said Doyle.
Neither be cynical about love,
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment,
it is as perennial as the grass.
-- THE END --