Photographs and Memories
by Ice Bear
Written for the Discovered on Summer Holiday challenge on the discoveredinalj livejournal community
Walking into the flat, he hesitated calling out as the place was dark. If his partner was asleep, he didn't want to risk waking him. The man had only been out of hospital five days, and he needed his rest. Shaking off the terror that swamped him every time he remembered finding his mate bound, bloody, and barely breathing in a dark pantry, he moved into the lounge and turned on a lamp. Stubborn bastard, he thought as he spied the dust rag draped on the telly and the hoover in the far corner. His eyes took in the records standing in military order and the pristine book cases. Taking a deep breath he closed his eyes and counted to ten. He'd made several angry comments the night before about the place looking like a pig sty but he'd simply been blowing off steam. He certainly hadn't meant for the patient to become the charwoman.
Speaking of the patient, he took a step toward the bedroom but something had him turning back to look at the settee. His partner was stretched out, sound asleep; lashes dark against pale cheeks. He perched on the coffee table, noticing something clenched in the right hand peeking out from the black sling. And on the floor at his feet were scattered a stack of black and white photos.
They were mostly seascapes, and it took him a minute to place them. It had been 1978, and they'd had a promised holiday canceled four times. Both had been short tempered and exhausted as a series of bombings added to their hectic work life. The end of May the Controller had finally relented and offered them five days off with one caveat -- their destination had to be within a three and a half hour drive of headquarters as they were to remain on standby in the event the Haskin's case heated up.
He smiled as he recalled the very loud conversation the two held on the drive back to his flat. Given that the holiday started at midnight, they had no time for any real planning. So, for the first time in their four year partnership, they would go off on holiday alone, together. Spreading a map on the kitchen table, they sketched out a boundary in keeping with the Controller's orders. Then he closed his eyes and made a stab with his finger - Skegness, a seaside holiday resort. While a beach holiday was best spent with a bird, that wasn't in the cards given that they were leaving first thing in the morning. There was also the fact that the odds of getting yanked back were at least 70-30.
He'd forgotten his partner had brought along a new camera -- one he'd bought for the bird of the week's birthday. Actually that particular bird had lasted several weeks, but she had liked another present she received better - a new bloke. He grinned at a grainy photo of their hotel, hoping the rest were a bit more in focus. The next one showed him standing in the pouring rain outside a Bateman's Brewery pub looking a bit like a drowned moggy.
There were several pics of the pier, one in the early morning light which was quite artistic. The structure had been badly damaged that January by a severe gale that blew in from the north, and his partner had been curious enough to strike up several conversations with the workmen about the damage and the reconstruction plans.
The beach at Skeggy was beautiful, he thought as he looked at several shots of the water and one of himself on a towel wrapped in a leather jacket. The place certainly lived up to the adverts promise: 'It's So Bracing', he recalled with a smile. His memories of that time were very pleasant, especially the long walks along the beach they'd taken, basking in the comfortable silence that had been theirs almost from the beginning.
He pulled himself out of his reminiscing to push a tuft of soft hair off his mate's forehead. The action elicited a small sigh but that was all. So he headed for the kitchen and grabbed a lager before returning to his perch. He let out his own sigh as he looked at a series of pics from the morning they had spent wandering the dunes at Gibraltar Point. The sun had been on their side and except for a few birds they had the place to themselves. It had been so very peaceful, and his budding Lord Snowdon had managed to capture the essence of the place nicely.
He stifled a bubble of laughter as he spied a picture destined for the Rest Room wall: his tough-as-nails partner petting a seal. If his memory served him right, he'd been dragged to the local Seal Sanctuary, complaining bitterly the whole way. And he would never admit that he'd been as taken with the lively, intelligent animals as his companion. Ah, the lads were going to have fun with this one...
He finished shuffling through the pile, finding several shots that had been taken when he wasn't paying attention: standing, hands on hips at the tide line looking out to sea at dusk; on one knee in the dunes looking at something in the sand; and laughing as he pointed out a line of beach donkeys.
While stretching his back, his eyes fell on the photo clutched in his partner's hand. Ever so carefully he pried it loose and couldn't contain his laughter. The photo, taken by a passerby, showed the two of them mugging with the Jolly Fisherman, the town's official mascot.
"Ray?" Sleepy eyes opened, seeking the source of the laughter.
"Hello, luv." He leaned over for a kiss, and caught the exhaustion still seated deep in the blue eyes as he pulled back. "What the bloody hell did you do today? I don't recall you being hired as the maid."
Bodie stifled a shrug as his healing muscles protested. "Said last night the place was a pig sty."
"You stupid bastard," he replied gently, "I was just mouthing off. And I certainly wasn't asking you to get the place ready for inspection."
"Got to do something to earn me keep."
Deciding they were treading on dangerous ground -- given that his partner's ability to return to the A Squad was not a given -- he changed the subject. "Where'd you find these?" He asked holding up a handful of the photos.
"They were in a box behind the records. Didn't recognize them at first...was a good time, that."
"Did you forget we got called back early?"
"That's right -- we should remind the Cow he still owes us two days holiday for that one."
"I'll leave that to you, Sunshine," he smiled as he stroked a soft cheek. "This is a good one," he continued, holding up the one of them mugging with the Jolly Fisherman.
"First one of us together, I think." Seeing his partner's confused frown, he continued, "We'd been partners for four years, but I can't recall a single photo of us together unless you count surveillance footage."
"What do you think it says about us?"
"You'll have to ask our Kate that one, pet. But I'm guessing the rest of the mob would say it's a perfect illustration of our partnership."
"And why's that, love?"
"We're running around having a good time while someone else is doing all the work." They both laughed.
"Found another pic I like, though it did make me bit jealous." Bodie struggled into a sitting position, a worried look marring the handsome face. Ray played the moment for all it was worth before handing over a photo of his partner nose to nose with a curious seal. "And all this time I thought I was your one true love."
"Doyle," the low growl provided just enough warning to allow him to dodge the half hearted punch. Bodie grabbed the small pile off the table and awkwardly sorted through it one handed. "Least I've given up chasing birds like I promised," he said smugly, flashing a photo of his mate chasing some sea bird down the beach, arms outstretched as though he, too, could fly.
Ray pulled back after a brief tousle left his partner short of breath. "We should go back up there sometime. Was our first real holiday together."
"Maybe our next anniversary?" Bodie suggested shyly.
"I'd like that. And you can use that fancy new camera I got you for Christmas. We'll see if any of my artistic ability has rubbed off on you. And we'll find someone to take some more shots of us together."
"Like it when we go away, and I have you all to myself," Bodie snuggled back down, holding out a hand. Ray took it and carefully settled next to his lover. "Love you, Ray," the younger man whispered as he fit his face into the curve of the older man's neck.
"Love you, too, Bodie...always will," he added as he felt his partner relax into sleep.
-- THE END --