Getting to Hope You Like Me, Too


Last of four parts: follows Getting to Know You, Getting to Know All About You, and Getting to Like You

The light shimmered soft, thick in the early air, filling the heavy room with morning.

Doyle's eyes had been open for some time, but they flickered and blinked at the sudden shift of sunlight. Coming to, he looked upwards at the upside-down ceiling, and raised himself up on one elbow, which ached dully at the sudden use.

He rubbed a palm dozily over his head, feeling the scratch of curls on his skin, and dragged it down his face as he looked down next to him.

She lay, loosely curled in a sleepy, sheeted embrace, her pale skin blending with the white cotton, her hair shining dark against the pillow. A black smudged kiss on the inside of her upper arm where her mascara had rubbed off; Doyle sighed and looked away.

Another day, another empty morning in someone else's bed. Kicking out at the world, he'd fallen into very different clutches. But it didn't help. Nothing helped.

He wanted to stay in the bed forever. She had been nice; he couldn't remember much about her, but she must have been nice, else he wouldn't have come back with her. Or would he? What was her name, even?

Oh, fuck it, he thought--in a flippant throe of sudden (slightly hysterical) romance--he could stay and find all that out. He might even find someone he really liked... Loved, even. They could get married and live in a big house and he would never have to think about Ci5 ever, ever again. Would never have to think about what he'd done.

But that wasn't really an option, was it? Chances were that if he stayed, he'd get fired and dumped on the same day, so he might as well grit his teeth and be a man. He knew what he had to do. He wanted to give her one last kiss, but he didn't feel like he had the right to it, anymore. No one deserved to be lumbered with him.

The awful, familiar guilt began to gnarl inside of him, and he slipped from the bed before his resolve left him. He had to be at work in an hour. Work, for the first time since the forest.

Knowing all too well how ridiculous he would look to anyone watching, Doyle half-limped, half-stumbled out of the room at a crouch, clasping his clothes to his naked body. Once in the hall, he roughly pulled his jeans on, and shoved his feet into his boots as he did up his belt, pulling it so tight it hurt. He put his shirt on as he shouldered the front door open, and stepped into the painful brightness.

On the other side of the city, as Doyle began his miserable walk to work, a cold set of toes pressed into unconscious skin and shook the owner from his slumber.

Eyes snagging open, Bodie's first view was of a clump of golden curls, filling his vision. Body tingling alert, he slowly shifted to the side, away from her sweet-smelling skin, across the cold bed. She looked like a doll, precious and feminine. But he felt nothing for her--he barely felt at all.

Slowly, mechanically--trained to perform measures silently and under the utmost pressure--Bodie dressed, his movements amounting to nothing more than one or two snuffled breaths crashing against the pillow.

He finished buttoning his shirt and pulled on his jacket, before checking his cuffs. He surveyed the scene before him with cool disinterest, one eyebrow raised without knowing. Helen.

He quick-turned and left the bedroom, drinking the dregs of last night's beer as he strode through the living room; it didn't pay to have scruples in the army, and his mouth was dry. Doyle.

Bodie opened the car door, and almost had the engine running before he'd shut it behind him again. It was only once he'd pulled away from the downstairs flat that he let out a breath, steadying his arms against the wheel. He set his teeth, and made it the next couple of miles to a road-side café--make that one man and his van--just under the bridge to the west-end of town. He asked and paid for a fragile-looking cup of boiling-hot coffee, and carefully carried it back to the car. When he reached the Capri, he got in and shut the door to the world, cradling the coffee in his lap.

The sunlight bounced obscenely off the windows, sheltering him from other people. His ears hummed slightly, but he knew that was just the blood in his veins. Blowing on the steaming cup, he brought it to his lips, sensing the burn really before he felt it. But it felt good, and the pain sharpened his senses.

It was time to start thinking.

Right, today. Had to be civilised, Cowley watching. Had to be sensible, Cowley watching. Had to try very hard not to be sick... Any and all of these three things would be tough. And Doyle, fucking Doyle, would just see through him straight away, anyway. No, he had to detach himself entirely: quick and effective, like ripping off a bandage. Just like always, Doyle would get the message, the old man would back off, and everyone would be happy. Well, maybe not happy, but still breathing... so hurrah for all that. People couldn't stand looking into an empty face, and they'd leave him alone, eventually.

After about twenty minutes spent thinking about food--food and certainly not wandering hands--Bodie finished his coffee and drove off towards the headquarters.

He pulled into the car park at precisely the same time as Doyle appeared round the corner of a cement pillar, across the other side. Bodie felt as if all the muscles in his chest were shrinking as he parked the car and watched Doyle--head down, shoulders up, but loose-limbed and rough, in any case--take the stairs two-by-two and bob out of sight, into the building.

As the doors banged shut across the car park, Bodie let out a breath into the air above his head, a breath which burst from him accidentally. This was going to be tough, after all.

But...why should it be tough? Didn't matter to Bodie if some ex-police prick had eyes for him--Doyle was disappointingly human, after all. Bodie knew enough to know that his face took in most folk by its own accord. It had all happened before, away in Africa--lad called Hamilton. Bodie had liked Hamilton a great deal; bright, rangy young thing, with a stone-cold aim and a laugh that could stun a donkey at twenty paces. Unfortunately--unthinkably--Hamilton had rather liked Bodie, too... And that had been that. The friendship was through and Hamilton had been dead within three weeks.

But, a tiny voice chimed in his restless mind, you never did let Hamilton wank you off in the middle of some woods, though, did you? The way his face looked when he laughed stayed with you, and all.

With Doyle, Bodie hadn't even thought about resisting until it was far too late. He was not used to losing control of himself like that: so when he'd snapped to, he'd been on his feet and away quicker than a Scotsman at Christmas-time. He'd left the afterglow many a time, but never with such pure, instinctive urgency.

The whole way it had happened had been odd, too... He knew beyond doubt that he didn't like the fuzzy end of the lollypop, so to speak, so what the piss had happened in the forest? He didn't like men, so why he should let one lay a hand--or two--on him was unfathomable. And Doyle had said he wasn't gay, when he'd looked at his sketchbooks. But he must be, there was no other plausible explanation... And what exactly did that make Bodie, now, then?

A twat. That's what.

A wave of dark thoughts crashed over Bodie's brow at that point, and he coursed from the car in a flourish of activity, distancing himself from the cloud of solitary thought. As he went, he concentrated and pin-pointed his mind on the rhythmic flexing and powering of the muscles in his legs, the legs which carried him across the tarmac, and up through the winding building. The legs which had carried him half-safely through much, much worse than this. And he most definitely did not think about what lay ahead.

Yet as he reached the on-call room he couldn't help but pause and sneak a glance through the glass of the door before he entered, feeling inexplicably foolish but unable to help himself. Doyle was sitting at a table, morning papers in his lap, feet up on the table, blowing the steam off a grubby cup of coffee. A piece of toast hung from his index- and middle-finger, half-off the desk. He looked tired, his eyes and lips bagged in that tell-tale sign of a meaningless night playing away. The thought kicked Bodie where it hurt, but he shook himself from its grasp.

He was knackered, then... Why, this should be fun; why, Doyle was so reasonable and easy-going when he was firing on all cylinders. With a beleaguered sigh, Bodie set his face, and opened the door.

Doyle looked up as he entered, but instead of that familiar intake of breath and widening of eyes--the hurried, shushed conversation of 'Look, let's just not mention it ever again, alright?' and the vague attempts to absolve oneself from blame before anyone overheard--that was such a joy in any awkward, post-coital meeting, was totally non-existent.

"Alright?" Doyle glanced up at Bodie briefly, then took a sip of coffee and went back to the papers.

Bodie suddenly felt wrong-footed in some way, but he wasn't entirely sure how or why.

Surely, there should be more to it than that... If he'd learnt anything about his partner--not his partner, actually, his work colleague--it was that Doyle was a moody son of a bitch who could be relied upon to throw a paddy at the smallest hint of upset. So, the fact that he was now confronted with a calm, level-headed, eerily normal-looking Doyle over something so potentially huge was an experience he was entirely unprepared for, and he did so hate feeling unprepared.

Also, why should Doyle look so unruffled? Not that Bodie had been fretting about all this--like, at all--but Doyle had started it. He was the one who had forced the issue, who had got so intense when all Bodie had been trying to do was answer a few basic questions. There should have been at least a few sleepless nights on his part, then. Not that Bodie had had any sleepless nights; but he would have thought Doyle would.

He sat down, across from Doyle, and tried not to look at him. He busied himself with the undone reports that had heaped up almost overnight... 'Busied himself' meaning shifting a stack of papers very importantly--and noisily--from one deliberate pile to another. Bodie was so consumed in his act that he didn't even see Doyle smirking at him.

And so they slipped into a familiarly-strange pattern: neither knowing quite how to proceed, neither willing to give up the ground (or whatever it was) they had already gained from their opponent. Bodie occasionally sneaked glances at his partner, only to find Doyle ignoring him completely. But Bodie could have sworn he could feel him watching his every room. Or perhaps that was just his guilty conscience talking. Not that he had a guilty conscience, that was.

Eventually, this irregular truce had to come to an end and, much to his own surprise, it was Bodie's own doing.

"So... You do butter your toast on three sides, then?"

Nice one, mate, his brain said, spitefully. Blunt as a brick.

Doyle looked up at Bodie's question, the page of his newspaper falling limp in his grasp. He looked, for just a second, alarmed; but soon his familiar expression of smug satisfaction was back, his large lips spreading into a filthy leer, his voice drawling on its accent.

"Nope. Not usually."

Bodie's mouth was apparently working independently from his brain, by this point. "I'm special, then?"

He coughed, and his chin caught the top of his roll-neck as he looked firmly down at his handwriting, suddenly illegible to him.

Doyle's mouth twitched.

"'Special' would certainly be the...operative word, yes."

Bodie's head snapped up, only to find Doyle looking up at him through his fringe, that infuriating smile playing at the corners of his mouth. Whatever Bodie had been about to say suddenly wadded in his throat. Unsure of himself--that had either been a brilliant put-down or a very scary compliment--and desperate to make up points, Bodie resorted to the easiest option, as he always did.

"That's what the men in the white coats say!"

Fortunately for all concerned, Bodie could go cross-eyed on cue: it was just one of his many, many talents. He stuck his tongue out the side of his mouth, just for good measure, knowing that, at least, would get a reaction.

Doyle looked away and sniggered. And Bodie felt a little better, though he didn't know why.

Trust Cowley to walk in and ruin it all, just as they'd been making headway as mature, normal people--well, about as normal as Ci5 agents ever got, anyway. Maturity was notoriously not held so strongly as an issue behind their government-owned desks; as long as you had it in the field.

But the old man wasn't laughing, and they both snapped to attention at the sight of him (though, Bodie noted with growing amusement, Doyle slouched back again almost immediately, looking disgruntled).

Cowley pointed at them with his spectacles, an action which always made Bodie think he was about to be caned and told to write four hundred lines.

"You two. Enjoy your wee holiday, did you?"

Bodie opened his mouth to answer, and belatedly realised he didn't quite know how to answer that.

He floundered, his mouth opening and closing as a frown formed. Cowley looked up from his papers, his eyebrow raised at Bodie's lack of an answer--not a usual phenomena, after all. Doyle swiftly stepped in.

"The refresher course was very, um...informative, sir," Doyle said smoothly, and Bodie's heart very nearly gave out. A furtive glance showed Doyle to be the picture of innocence; angelic under all those curls, face smooth and soft-looking, like a boy who'd never done wrong in his short life.

Oh, how Bodie knew different. He managed to turn the laugh which bubbled up through him into a cough at the very last minute. Doyle stifled his own chuckle.

Cowley looked between them, doing his impression of a suspicious old crow well. Then he growled.

"I thought Macklin would have that effect on you."

"Oh, really, sir?" Doyle said, loving every minute of Bodie's continued, struggling agony. "Having the proverbial kicked out of you does tend to make a person more amiable, I suppose."

"But you could still do with a bit less of the proverbial, though, couldn't you, Doyle?" Bodie looked over, arching his neck.

"Oh, much less, yes," Doyle nodded solemnly. "I shall have to see a man."

Bodie tried in vain to control the shaking in his shoulders.

"Pack it in," Cowley said sharply. "Whatever your joke is, it's not funny."

"Certainly not, sir," said Bodie quickly, and Doyle sent him a withering glare and conceded the point.

Cowley growled, unamused. "Right. We've got a man on the ground in Brixton--someone who's been helping us without knowing it--and I want you two to make sure he's safe and sound tonight. There's a number of very unsavoury characters who are becoming a bit unsettled as their basket of eggs begins to leak, and you two are going to make sure they don't try to plug that particular hole. Got it?"

Doyle raised a hand, unconsciously miming his formative years in the police bull-pen, under the eyes of his sergeant. Bodie rolled his eyes, but he didn't seem to notice.

"Sir? How can someone be helping us without realising?"

Cowley let the raised hand pass, but answered it anyway, a certain element of superior pride entering his tone. "Phone-taps, car-bugs, surveillance, impersonation, entrapment... The usual sort of things we do to manipulate our situation, 4.5. But I expect you're still getting used to that sort of thing."

Doyle's eyes, which had widened at the list, flickered and he dropped his gaze. Bodie frowned, but Doyle's head had snapped up once again, a firm expression on his face. Cowley nodded, and handed them a manilla folder.

"It's all in the file, but you two are to be stationed in a garden shed, which has a direct view of all the rooms at the back of the house. The property is on a main road so if an attack were to come, it would be through the back passages."

Bodie couldn't even risk looking at Doyle for a few minutes. He pressed his lips together and kept his eyes firmly on his boss. From the silence, Doyle was having similar difficulty.

"So be on your guard!" Cowley said and, thankfully, turned around and went back out of the office.

Bodie let out a breath and stretched. "Sailing close to the wind, there, sunshine."

"You are aware that we sounded like a bad James Bond film, back then?" Doyle grumbled half-heartedly, looking back through the file. Then, with a sigh, he swung upwards, pulling on the leather jacket which had been hanging on the back of his chair.

Bodie, not knowing what else to say, followed his lead, and they headed out into the sunlight.

The small café bubbled around them: the continuous babble of people meeting and greeting, ladies sitting alone with their books, lads fresh from football tucking into well-deserved fry-ups. Doyle liked the noise of human interaction, and liked to let it swallow him up, sometimes. He felt the soothing sounds wash over him, and his nerves calmed somewhat.

"Bit noisy in here, innit?" Bodie said vehemently, eyeing the surrounding general public with suspicion and ill-disguised contempt. He let out a snort of breath and ruffled his folder pompously. "Barely hear myself think."

Doyle rolled his eyes, and went back to the file, tightening his grip on the paper edges. He had to get this read before they went to relieve the poor shed-bound sods who were already over at the house. But his mind wasn't on the job in hand; his mind was on a very different job all together...

He'd been on tenterhooks ever since the woodlands incident, and the constant strain of not knowing what was going to happen was beginning to wear him down. If Bodie would just give him a sign--anything at all--for a clue as to how to deal with this... But the stupid bastard was just as close-mouthed as ever. Though Doyle had detected some kind of edge in him, that morning.

Normally, Bodie was as 'edgy' as they came, but this morning had been something quite different. Bodie had seemed apprehensive, to say the least, and his movements had been jumpy. Every time Doyle had tried to catch his eye to gauge his mood, Bodie had quickly looked down. It was infinitesimal, but it was something. And he was becoming more and more irritated as their moments together lengthened; Doyle knew enough to know that something was bothering him, and whatever was bothering Bodie was probably something to do with him. And Doyle had to hang on to anything Bodie gave him.

"Thing I don't get," Doyle said suddenly, as much trying to distract his own brain as call something to Bodie's attention. "Is why we're getting put on all these bit-part jobs... We've been about for months, now, and we've not had anything meaty. No big case, no linear investigation, nothing. Doesn't that strike you as a bit off?"

Bodie's lips pursed, and he continued pressing the table-top crumbs with his fingertips, lifting them up and watching them fall. Doyle watched the slight wrinkles between his eyebrows flex, and the way the skin around his mouth dimpled as his mouth worked, deep in thought.

Doyle remembered how it felt to touch those lips with his own--how suddenly vital it had been to press his mouth against Bodie's and taste every flavour of him. In Doyle's mind, the urgency of it all had astounded him--in one breath, his entire body had yearned to know the strange, dark man entirely, beyond all others. And he'd communicated it all, or so he feared, with a kiss.

And, unfortunately, that kiss had been a monumentally stupid thing to do. And what had followed had been even worse.

Doyle's internal monologue was then cut off by Bodie letting out an enormous breath, coming to and clapping his hands to free them from crumbs. "Nah. The Cow just doesn't know what we're about, yet."

Bodie sniffed, still looking away. "It's the safest option: he knows we don't get on."

The bustling about them seemed to get louder; Doyle pushed the handle of his coffee mug despondently.

His words came embittered. "You think we don't get on?"

Bodie's voice had gone cold at some point, but Doyle only just noticed. There was something about that voice that could chill you through to the bone--it lacked mercy, and Bodie knew just how to use it.

"I think that's the last thing we do, mate."

Doyle felt his face sour, and he struggled not to betray his emotions at the harsh words--but his voice sounded thick and sarcastic, especially in comparison to the shrieking, happy laughter of a woman on a nearby table.

"We do a lot of things, mate."

His brain--which hadn't been working particularly well up until that point--began to recognise the growing danger in Bodie's eyes. It was the way they seemed to darken and lighten with his moods, and Doyle knew he had come off sounding simultaneously whiny, confrontational and unforgivably clingy with that last statement. He had to get it back. He had to be on top, again.

But, for now, all he had to do was get away. Don't let anything else slip.

He rubbed his nose, not looking at Bodie, and gathered his things before downing the dregs of his coffee. He tucked his shirt in as he spoke, still not looking at the man sitting across from him.

"Right, I'm off to get us some provisions. See you at the shack."

And he turned to go, and began squeezing between the backs of the two chairs behind him, holding his papers aloft.


Bodie's voice had changed again, but Doyle just couldn't. He didn't want any of this anymore.

He'd thought that if he got to know Bodie, things would be easier; if he secured him as a friend they might, for once, be evenly matched; he'd thought that, if he got a hold on Bodie, the man wouldn't get to him so much... But, if anything, it had all just made him feel much, much worse.

Ignoring the small call, Doyle braced the glass door open and stepped in a crisp London morning. He walked past the window Bodie was sitting in, but didn't look up to him--he wouldn't be looking, anyway--just put his head down and allowed himself to be swallowed up by the streaming masses of everyone else who wasn't him or Bodie.

He got round the corner and stopped, leaning back against the bricks with a sigh as he tried to calm the sick, roiling feeling in his chest.

This was ridiculous. He shouldn't be feeling this way; it wasn't right. What he'd done wasn't illegal--just--but it felt like he'd trespassed into something dangerous without really meaning to. He wanted, for some god-only-knows reason, to know everything about Bodie... But in doing so, he was making himself look like a complete knob. And a bender.

Doyle sighed and rubbed his face with his hands, raising his eyebrows to stretch his throbbing forehead.

Buck up, he said to himself. Act your bloody age, will you?

He needed to stop being so shaken by this; Bodie clearly didn't give two shits, despite what Doyle's overactive imagination had given him to believe that morning. To Bodie, Doyle was nothing more than an inconvenient part of office equipment, a tool to be worked with, a tick in the box... A hand job wasn't going to change the man.

Half-aware of what he was doing, Doyle looked at the offending hand and clenched the fingers before letting them slowly fall open, revealing his palm. Big and open, there was a small callus underneath his index finger, from where he held his gun. He stared at his open palm, remembering every inch of skin, every gasp, every grunt... And he knew that Bodie smiled when he came: a small, hazy, happy smile--fluttering eyelashes and all--that betrayed nothing of what was going on below deck. Trust Bodie to only ever look sweet when he was in hand.

This thought, bizarrely, warmed Doyle immensely. He chuckled, making the hand into a fist and shoving it in his jacket pocket, kicking off the wall and setting off for a nearby deli.

As he picked his way through the undergrowth round the back of the property, arms full of paper-clad deli boxes, he swore as the heavens opened, put his head down, and ran the rest of the way, clattering through the undergrowth.

He reached the shed and, shaking raindrops from his skin, he lifted the latch and went inside.

Bodie was sitting on the chair by the window, back poker-straight, fiddling with a piece of electrical equipment. He looked up as Doyle entered--Doyle couldn't see his eyes--and immediately set down the box of wires he'd been adjusting, standing up and clearing his throat in a flourish.

"Ready to go to work?" he asked, tartly and with more than a touch of sarcasm.

Doyle was somewhat taken aback. Bodie had that imperious expression on his face again and his eyes, revealed in the dim lamp-light, were cold once more. He was all raised eyebrows and curled lips--Doyle hadn't seen it for a week or so--and Doyle felt his spirits drop with a heavy sinking feeling: Bodie had had a change of heart, whatever heart he had.

Oh, sod this, Doyle thought with the realisation, feeling ill-equipped to match Bodie's ire all of a sudden. It's not worth it, after all. Just get it back to neutral and be done with it. Don't think about it. Don't think about what you lost.

"Grubs up," he said plainly, carefully to keep the inflections in his voice down to a bear minimum, give nothing for a grumpy Bodie to charge at. He waved his items. "Got you chicken and bacon."

"What did you get?"

"Ham and cheese."

"I want ham and cheese."

"Well, you can have ham and cheese, then."

Doyle struggled furiously to keep himself from shouting at Bodie, from reacting to his--rather crap--irritation techniques. At the minute, Bodie was just coming off like a spoiled child, and Doyle had a feeling he knew it himself, and was just as pissed off about it as he was.

He went over to the brooding man and handed him the sandwich, trying to stare Bodie in the eye as he pressed the still-warm food into his hand. Bodie refused to look at him, his dark eyelashes completely hiding his eyes.

And just like that, Doyle was relegated to being a stranger, again. Bodie had snapped back into the version of himself Doyle disliked the most--and there were several he hadn't been keen on--and Doyle was out in the cold, again.

He shouldn't have been so surprised--it always happened. One they found out what he was really like, they pulled away. If he wanted to be close to anyone, he had to drag them towards him. But Bodie had fought back--was struggling to free himself of Doyle--and that was fair enough. Everyone did.

He walked slowly back across the shed, to his own corner and his own sandwich. Outside, rain spattered the thin wooden roof of their hidey-hole as the clouds slowly blistered open, the day's fresh sunlight falling under the weight of the evening's continuous drizzle.

He ate his sandwich and refused to mind.

The continued to piss and pour down, and the night grew heavier and heavier. The air tasted moody, and smelt like thunderstorms. Bodie huddled under the shadow of the dripping shed roof, and huffed a gulp of air upwards into the dusk. He felt dirty, and the dew-like tang of the fresh rain dragged in his lungs.

This was far trickier than it should be.

There was no problem. None whatsoever. Going back to basics, Bodie had given the signs for Doyle to back off, and Doyle--rather astonishingly--had. Fucking simple, so it was.

But he didn't feel comfortable. Sod comfort, something just didn't feel right. The sunny--if heart attack-inducing--jokes of the on-call room had given way to tetchy paranoia in the café, and Bodie was now settled in dull, dark anger... And Doyle had followed him every inch of the way. So what next?

Sensing that suspicions would be raised if he was outside for much longer, Bodie ducked back around the wooden shelter and in through the door, his movements precise and orderly.

He spared a glance at Doyle. He was sitting, cross-legged, on top of the table by the tiny window, watching the front of the house through his binoculars and munching on a garibaldi biscuit. He didn't pay Bodie the slightest bit of attention. But Bodie knew that, if he wanted, he could make Doyle look at him--he wasn't being ignored, he was being treated reasonably...

And it pissed him off.

Since when was Doyle reasonable, anyway? In all the time Bodie had known him, when had Doyle shown the slightest ounce of level-headed logic or reasonable judgement? Doyle was punishing Bodie for being unreasonable by being so reasonable it drove Bodie mad and forced a reaction... That was it. Fiend.

Well, Bodie wasn't going to give him a reaction. Bodie was going to sit and stare him down. Doyle wasn't allowed to be reasonable; Bodie didn't understand it when Doyle was reasonable. He'd only just discovered why Doyle was persistently unreasonable, and the arsehole went changing on him.


Bodie looked up. Doyle was thrusting the packet towards him without even looking at him, eyes still binocular-clad and fixed on the dull house.


Sensing that was a bit harsh, he added "Thanks," rather quickly.

Doyle looked round, binoculars dropping, and his lips trembled into something that should have been a smirk, but didn't look much like one. Bodie looked away, because it wasn't really a smirk at all.

Bodie went to the other side of the room and sat down on top of the tea-chest full of tools that stood there. When he looked up again, Doyle was looking out the binoculars again. Bodie frowned into the dimness of the cold, dank shed. He couldn't get comfy; the metal-sheathed corner of the tea-chest was digging into his arse, but he didn't want to look shifty, so he focused on the back of Doyle's head in an attempt to ignore the pain.

Unfortunately, Doyle's internal alarm went off, and he turned round and caught Bodie right in the eye with a glare. Bodie quickly looked out the window, past Doyle's curls, as if he'd been looking that way all along.

And that was that for the next few hours. Doyle watched the windows, Bodie watched Doyle watching the windows. The darkness thudded deeper all around their little shed.

Eventually, Doyle's yawns became more and more frequent, becoming louder until he was actually throwing his head back into an open-throated yell each time, eyes watering fiercely. Bodie didn't want to offer but, irritatingly, Doyle diffused this situation, too.

"That's my watch up. You up for four hours of boredom?"

Bodie nodded, not trusting his voice to carry after such a long, furious silence that Doyle didn't seem to have been participating in at all.

Doyle didn't push any further. Just nodded--not meekly, not angrily, just briskly--and clambered down from the table, hissing slightly as all the blood stung in his newly-unfolded legs. He hobbled somewhat across the room, his limp easing as he crossed the distance, and he placed the binoculars into Bodie's hand, making sure he wound the neck-strap which dangled underneath and delivered it safely into Bodie's palm.

Doyle cleared his throat and raised his eyebrows in a completely non-committal signal of communication, before turning and grabbing the only sleeping bag from the cobwebby corner nearest the door and threw it into the corner nearest the tea-chest.

Bodie pushed himself from it before Doyle could get there, stumbling forward before he caught himself and forced himself to slow down as he swapped places. Doyle, clearly pretending not to notice this, lay down on the floor with a sigh of satisfaction, of a hard day over and a night just begun, and wrapped himself up in the sleeping bag. A thumping noise echoed through the wooden shack as he kicked off his boots under the covers, then lay still.

An owl hooted conspiratorially in the night outside, and Bodie leaned forward to try and catch a sight of it, but it seemed to have disappeared before it had really been there. Just melted away into the night; he wondered idly what sort it was.

As the minutes pressed onwards, Doyle's breaths lengthened and acquired that slightly snuffly sound to them; Bodie knew without even thinking that he was asleep, and he let out a deep breath of relief, feeling his shoulders begin to slacken somewhat. His body relaxed and his mind unfurled without his noticing, keeping his eyes trained as he was on the would-be empty house opposite.

Why did Doyle have to go and do a thing like that? Just when Bodie had started to sort of like the bloke.

Maybe 'like' was a bit strong: you couldn't actually, actively like someone like Doyle, who was all sharp edges, raw flesh and broken glass--for a start, Doyle wouldn't let anyone like him, even if Bodie had had a mind to... But their partnership had, at least, come on leaps and bounds since they'd first met and Bodie had wanted to throw a bucket of ice-cold water on what he saw as merely a unreliable live-wire in tight jeans.

A small grunt and a shifting of nylon caused him to glance towards the back of the shack. Doyle was facing the wooden wall, back to Bodie, and had curled tighter in his sleep. One bony shoulder sheared up from the sleeping bag, the skin stark against the red t-shirt he was wearing, the muscles of his back bunched into a triangle. His hair curled around the base of his neck, hopelessly entwined with the chain he always wore, promising a snag. Bodie allowed himself to look up and down the length of his partner; his hand rubbed unconsciously at the sudden heat blooming at the base of his belly, followed by a quick, guilty swipe down his crotch before he turned himself away and forced his mind outside the shed.

As he was trying to think about the cold, cold rain outside, Bodie's thoughts accidentally skimmed the surface of how they'd been recently--how much information Bodie had managed to extract, how slowly Doyle had allowed himself to open up, and how much Bodie had wanted to know more and more--and a hollow feeling stole into his chest, and he flinched his mind away from the memories. Any common ground they might have had was now firmly on opposite sides of no-man's land.

He just needed to get used to it, that was all.

He just hadn't realised there was anything to get used to, that was all.

Doyle had been awake for an hour or so, but he still couldn't bring himself to turn round because Bodie would be there and Doyle didn't know how to deal with Bodie anymore.

Yesterday, he'd thought he could do it forever: play the saint as a penance for his sin. After all, it had been his stupid idea to give Bodie a hand-job--what had he even been thinking? He had been thinking how much he wanted Bodie. And thinking with his dick had, as usual, gotten him in some seriously hot water. And yesterday he'd been fully prepared to pay the price.

But he'd woken up after a scant couple of hours feeling far less resolved in anything than when he'd shut his eyes. When he'd shut his eyes, Doyle had felt Bodie watching him, Bodie having to adjust to him, for a change... But when he'd opened them again, he'd just felt slightly sick. Bodie didn't adjust to anyone, and Doyle was just arrogant enough to believe that they might have had a proper friendship going.

"Having a lie in, are we?"

Doyle jumped and looked over his shoulder, past the mound of sleeping bag that had rucked up during his nap. Bodie was sitting, quiet and still, on the work-table, slouched against the wet windowpane, looking out blankly into the just-beginning day, framed against the dusted light.

A swallow. "Any coffee?"

Bodie looked at him, face dark with fatigue he couldn't hide. He nodded to the tea-chest. "Murph just brought us some."

Taking the hint gladly, Doyle hoisted himself up onto his palms, and swivelled round on the cold floor until he was sitting against the wall, orange and brown-patterned flask in hand. "Murph... He's the Beatley-looking one, innee?"

Bodie frowned. "What?"

"You know... John, Paul, Luke..."

"You mean George," Bodie sounded almost amused.

"I know what I mean." Oops, slight tetchiness, there. Better keep a hold on that till we know what's what.

Bodie smirked his big, wide smirk and, for once, Doyle was glad to see it. "I thought you meant, like, praying mantis and that."

"Don't be daft," Doyle said absently, mind fixated only with pouring out the hot coffee into the flimsy plastic flask lid. The smell filled the little shack, and the aroma alone was enough to ease the atmosphere further.

They continued on like this for about half and hour as they drank the entire flask of coffee together--Bodie insisted he'd be able to sleep with or without it, and that he didn't feel much like kipping in daylight hours, anyway, and he didn't need it, in any case. Doyle was enjoying the fact that Bodie appeared to have loosened during the night so much that he forgot he was supposed to be being aloof, if not angry.

And he tell you the exact moment he saw this realisation hit Bodie, too. Something went out in his eyes, though his face never changed.

"Right. Your turn half-hour ago," Bodie was suddenly bristling, rubbing his hands together in a business-like manner, refusing to bother even looking at Doyle as he moved towards the other corner, careful not to touch him.

And suddenly, everything was clear. Doyle shot upright, hurling the empty flask mug at the door, where it made a terrific bang.

"I'm not saying fucking sorry, you know!"

Bodie paused, mid-way to reaching for the sleeping bag. A fraction of a second later, he was moving again, continuing on to pick up the corner of the covers and jerk them away from Doyle. He didn't look up, but Doyle saw his nostrils flare and knew something would have to give.

He reached out and grabbed Bodie's wrist, intending to pull him around to look at him and see how serious he was... But Bodie lashed out viciously at the brief touch, wrenching his arm away from Doyle's grasp and neatly fitting his other forearm underneath Doyle's chin in the flicker of an assassin's eyelid.

Doyle's mind quickly readjusted to the new situation. Bodie was pressing his arm into Doyle's windpipe without mercy, and he gulped against the weight of it, feeling the wooden wall behind him dig into his spine. Bodie was breathing heavily but in a steady rhythm, his eyes darker than Doyle had ever seen them, circled with ire and spite. Doyle fought to keep his eyes on Bodie's, and he bared his teeth in frustration, helpless under his partner's strong grip.

Bodie released his hold on Doyle with a sharp jerk and a snarl, and stalked off, hurling the shed door open with little care as to the secret-nature of their post. He was frozen, silhouetted in the bright new day, just a black nothing struck against the daylight, and Doyle opened his mouth to scream.

A screeching noise as a car roared across the lawn and came to a spinning stop in the back-garden, just in front of the back door. Bodie was gone from the snap-shot in the doorway, and was running across the garden at full speed.

Doyle staggered upright, coughing as the morning air reached his lungs again, and sprinted after Bodie. Together, they tore across the dawn-filled lawn, and hurled themselves at the three blokes who were making a run for the door.

Bodie threw himself straight at the biggest one--a big bruiser with a stomach like a washboard--and took him down; Doyle, meanwhile, busied himself with dispatching the one closest to him, a blonde ex-champ with a mean face and fists the size of hams. Doyle darted and dodged, took a few blows, but had soon outwitted him and kicked his legs from under him, bringing them both crashing to the ground.

He reached for his handcuffs, before realising belatedly that he didn't have any... Rolling his eyes, Doyle gave a punch to the head which knocked the con unconscious.

Pleased with himself, Doyle licked his lips with satisfaction as he straightened up and pulled his t-shirt back down.

Bodie was on the ground, getting stomped on the chest by the big bloke, while his legs were being clumsily tied together with a length of washing line by the third would-be hit-man, a skinny, dark little thing who looked like he'd seen every street in London.

With a yell, Doyle leapt across his own felon, and hurled himself at the legs of the big bastard. Landing on top of Bodie, but taking his attacker out with him. Bodie kicked the thin, young lad in the face and away from him, getting on top of the bigger bloke, wriggling desperately to pin him.

Between them, yelling and shouting all the way, they secured the pair of them with the washing line, and rang for reinforcements.

Bodie panted heavily while Doyle spoke into his R/T, his mouth twitching in pain. Signing off with the assurance that Cowley himself would be with them in under ten minutes, Doyle looked at him.

"You alright?" he asked, breathing hard himself. Everything had happened so quick.

His partner nodded, one arm wrapped around his chest as he looked up in accusation. He spat at Doyle. "You nearly fucking broke my ribs!"

"Me?" Doyle's incredulity made his voice rocket a few tones higher. He repositioned his hands for a tighter grip on the first bloke he'd downed--who was now showing bleary signs of waking up--and then pointed an angry finger at Bodie. "You wouldn't have any ribs left if it weren't for me, son, and don't you forget it!"

But Bodie just grinned at him, looking like his face was about to break apart--it was the loony, wonderfully shell-shocked grin he got from time to time. His eyes were shining with excitement, relief and something else, too... Something rare to his gaze: gratitude.

And as Cowley strode across the grass towards them with a small smile deepening the crags of his face--with a dozen happy-helper plods rushing in behind him--Bodie and Doyle reached an unspoken understanding on that new, bright morning as they grinned stupidly at each other through the bruises. Neither of them realised it, but that understanding was there in everything they did from then onwards. It was the start of something golden which would only deepen and become more wonderful as the years went on. It was there even in the punch-ups and the arguments, and neither of them had to say anything at all.

But Bodie--being Bodie--could, and so did.

"I still don't think we get on, but... I've become accustomed to you, I suppose."

And that, frankly, would have to do.

-- THE END --

July 2008

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