A Statement of Affairs


I'm standing, pretending to look out of the window. George is sitting over at the far side of the room pretending to be relaxed. You are pretending you've lost the ring. George is not pretending to be unamused at this foolishness. At least it's passing the time. Still, traditional isn't it, for the bride to be late? Didn't think old George still had it in him to be honest. She's quite young too, not young enough to be his daughter or anything tacky like that, but he's bound to get accused of cradle-snatching. Still, I like her. You thought at one time that I more than liked her. Know better now, of course.

When I was over at George's this morning, I asked him when--just when exactly--he knew she was the one for him after fifty-five years of determined bachelorhood. He poured another glass of breakfast and said quite simply: "The very first time I laid eyes on her."

Do you remember, I wonder, the very first time that we saw each other? In the corridor, outside Cowley's office? You had just come out and I was just going in, we passed in the doorway, each of us standing aside, politely, to let the other one go first, then we each side-stepped at the same time, then we both laughed, not quite looking at each other, the way strangers do in situations like that. Then you moved to the left and I to the right and you passed me and went down the corridor what I now know to be the staffroom, leaving a faint trail of Le Trois Homme floating in the air behind you. Of course, then I didn't know that was its name, just that it smelled nice. Now I know its name, how much it costs and that it's only sold in Harvey Nicholls.

But that was the very first time. Not later that afternoon, April 15, light showers with sunny intervals, overcast in the north: later that afternoon, we were introduced. Sort of anyway. By Cowley, fitting enough, the 'father of the brides' if I can call him that without getting fired just for thinking it. That Cowley radar has got sharper with the years. I'd like to say it was 4:07 p.m. or something equally daft, but to be honest, I don't know what time it was.

Cowley announced my name to the assembled multitudes. Nods, smiles, one "Welcome aboard" from Murphy, as I slipped into a vacant chair by your side. You half smiled in recognition of our tango in the doorway earlier and looked at me briefly but very, very thoroughly, as if one look was all you needed to know everything about me. That's a trick I've noticed you pull on other people too. Of course, you didn't--don't--know everything. But you looked as if you did.

After long and intense study, I've come to the conclusion it's the eyes. Irish blue, with shocking black lashes as long as a schoolgirl's. Even without meaning it, they pierce. Of course, when you do mean it, it's time to run for cover. You can be a nasty piece of work sometimes, as well you know.

You muttered some inane line like "wotcha" and I said "Hi".

We all sat around trying to look at ease as first Cowley and then Macklin gave their usual introductory talk. We've both heard those speeches a million times since then, but I still remember how I felt, how the Boss' pale icy eyes bored into me as he laid down his own particular brand of the law. Macklin outlined the training schedule with a completely straight face--I felt tired just listening to him. You, I noticed, seemed unconcerned. I thought you were the biggest poser I'd ever struck in my life, acting like Macklin's schedule was a cakewalk, who did you think you were? Later, when I learned where you'd been and who with, I realized it wasn't just a pose of false bravado. After the SAS, perhaps it was pretty tame.

Jax knew the area well. So did I of course, but I'm so stroppy I wouldn't have helped an old lady across the road, let alone tell my mates one of the best pubs in London was around the corner. So, after the briefing was concluded and when Jax suggested a pint in the Circus, I just went along. The beer was pretty foul, even for London. You seemed to think so too, because I remember the face you pulled as you sipped your first pint.

"Doyle," I said, leaning on the bar, sheer making the pint seem like nectar.

"Bodie," you replied in the same blunt tone. We looked at each other properly then, a take it or leave it look, the look men given each other in pubs, assessing, wary, tough.

The rest stood around. We tried to be at ease, not show how nervous we all were. Tommy, God rest his soul, put 50p (a fortune in those days) in the juke box and we listened to Slade and Sweet. You pulled a face again, got out your own 50p and inflicted us with some dirge by a band called Joy Division. An apt beginning really.

Conversation was strained, ranging from the polite "What do you think of the Hammers chances then?" to the cautiously inquiring "And what did you do before?". You didn't ask, and no one seemed to ask you, any of the questions.

We both went up to the bar at the same time, I remember, the others were drifting off now, thoughts of Macklin's training schedule haunting us already. I put my pint back on the counter at the same time you did.

"Fancy another?" I asked, just to be moving my mouth.

"Not here," you said, heartfelt.

I smiled inside at that and for some reason, surely it can't have been attraction, not so early, I said, "The Seven Oaks round the corner serves Old Swan." Bullseye. My time in the Met had taught me to recognize the most well disguised accent and to my ears, yours was as obvious as Paul McCartney, despite the careful Home Counties South mask. The very mention of the name of Liverpool's finest product brought a gleam to your eye.

"Lead me to it," you breathed, as if you were Moses and had just signed the delivery note for manna in the wilderness.

Remember Julie, the barmaid? She beamed out at us from behind the bar and had two pints pulled almost before we got the words out of our mouths. Two exiled, thirsty, northern boys had found a second home.

We didn't say much, that first time. I was too screwed up about my own privacy to give much away, you too unconcerned to even ask. But I felt--at ease--in your company. And you felt the same, I know you did. We didn't say much. We didn't need to. We've never needed to.

Well, Sylvia's here at last, and decked out in quiet splendour too. George is looking at her with an expression I didn't know his face could have--it must be 'lurve'. I take her hand and draw it through my arm and I can feel her shaking. She looks pale but composed and a little shy. We're under starters orders now and I lead the way into the registrar's office, you and George bringing up the rear. The door closes behind us and with brisk efficiency, the ceremony beings. I hear the words and wonder at their simple power and suddenly, a memory surfaces.

Do you remember that night, out on BT? Three weeks into Basic Training, and I don't know how, but we always ended up together. If two had to share a tent, or if it was teams of two playing Macklin's version of Hide and Seek, if one person had to depend on another, it was always me and you. Together.

It had rained all day, a soft soaking rain that seeped into everything. We'd been given a map, a compass, twenty-four hours iron rations and told to get on with it. The first week in May and those bloody Welsh hills felt like Siberia. A dark grey twilight fell, as I loped uncomfortably down into the rock strewn bed of some swollen stream. You had been quiet all that day, almost absent-minded--I reckoned you were just being sulky and thought, 'sod you' and let you get on with it. What with the rain, the cold, the darkness, anyone could have been forgiven for the slip up. Literally, the slip up.

Well, there I lay, wetter than I'd ever been in my life at the bottom of an unbelievably icy stream, feeling like a complete and utter fool. And you said not a word, but scrambled down beside me, getting as wet in the process and with a small grunt, levered up, and upright.

Automatically, my arms came round you, automatically, your arms came round me. I could hear breath hissing past my ear and quite suddenly, I wanted to stay locked in your arms like that until hell froze over. You stood me back on my feet and pulled away, though your impersonal embrace remained until you were sure I was steady.

"Okay?" you asked and I was so grateful to escape any sarky comments about "nice trip was it?" I beamed at you like an idiot.

"Yeah, wet through but." My teeth were chattering by now but you just nodded and said, turning your face up to the inky black sky.

"From what I can remember, I think there's a ewelease up over the next rise. Let's bed down there, eh? I've had enough boy scouting for one night."

I toiled after you, part of me numb from cold and the rest wondering about how--and when--you'd been in this godforsaken wilderness before.

We found the shelter, a crummy tumbled down hole of a place, smelling of animals. But the roof was solid enough--it was dry, at least. We unshipped our rucksacks and I sank down, squelchily.

"Can we light a fire?" I asked, hopelessly. You didn't bother to reply to such a stupid question and set about unpacking a couple of tins of beans and a tin opener.

"Dinner is served," you said, with a flourish.

Later, the rain stopped and a cold wind blew, finding every nook and cranny into the draughty shelter. I could hear you moving about in the darkness and the sound of undressing.

"This wind'll dry our clothes. Better to sleep raw and put on dry clothes in the morning." You were deadpan.

"We'll catch pneumonia," I objected heavily.

"If we haven't already, we probably won't." You were silhouetted against the doorway, starlight and young moonlight gleaming on the bleakness outside. With the unconcern of a suburban housewife pegging out the washing, you draped your togs over the low roof, securing them with loose stones. I thought you were quite mad and I most determinedly remained fully clothed and wet to the bone.

I heard you moving about, settling down and almost immediately, the regular even breathing that told me you were fast asleep. I was bone-tired too, God knows. I thought, for a little while, of how it was just my luck to have one of the most gorgeous men in the universe sleeping with me, naked at that, and not only is he as straight as a die, he's an unpleasant, moody bastard and a colleague. The three things I always, always avoid in lovers. That was the very first time I used that word, even in my head, when thinking about you. I never fantasize about making love to men I work with, it's just not worth it. I'd not even fantasized about you--before that night. So if we're being childish, I suppose, you started it, with your easy nakedness, your couldn't care less. It was not much more than a passing thought even then, just simple curiosity as to what sort of lover you'd be--gentle perhaps, or the conquering hero?

The next day I was as stiff as an ironing board, cold and wet. You were cold but dry. I almost hated you then, smug bastard. Still, I learned my lesson. I listened to you in future, I did what you did, followed your example. When it came to basic survival, you were--are--the expert.

Back in London, lying almost totally submerged in the hottest bathwater I could coax out of my taps, I remembered you, bard and dark, beside me on the bleak Welsh hillside. Something I didn't recognise pierced my guts, not lust, not yet at any rate, nor yet indifference. Almost fear? I don't know. It was--disturbing.

Do you remember, we'd been partnered formally for about six months? That stake out outside Gratley's Haulage? It wasn't just wood pulp those vans hauled though, was it? It was August by then, a hot sweaty airless day, the kind of day that gave the entire population of east London a headache. Down by Customs House it was and not a breath of wind, not even from the river, just a stone's throw away. You were in the back, trying to get some kip, me in the front, pretending to read the Evening Standard.

"Sod it," you said, in disgust, and levered yourself upright.

"What's up?" I asked casually.

"These bloody kecks is what's up. My bum if you want to know," you were blustering, a little embarrassed.

"Ah," I said, knowingly. "Stake out is not the best time to wear new underwear. Actually, it's not the best time to wear underwear at all."

"Wha?" you trailed off, confused.

"You're usually going to be sat on car seats covered in that awful phony leather. It sweats and sticks to your bum like buggery. Take it from an expert, mate. A policeman's lot was not a happy one on stake out, in the warm, in tight knickers."

That was the first time I made you laugh. Oh, you'd laughed at me, spiteful, when I'd fouled up in BT, or got tangled up trying to abseil down that tower block. But this was the first time I'd tickled your funny bone. I felt quite chuffed to be honest. Mr.-Cool-Know-It-All Bodie had been taught a lesson by the poor-old-dead-from-the-neck-up copper.

"So you're bollocks naked under them skin tight jeans then?" you asked leeringly.

"Can't stand visible pantie line, ducky," I replied, crisply. The only way to deal with straight men camping it up is to be as bent as a nine bob note. I've learned, sometimes the hard way, not to take a straight man up on anything you think--hope he's offering. And never, never in a million years take it seriously.

You grinned again and proceeded to get them off. I watched you, not quite as casually as I should have, through the rear view mirror. You were--unexpected. Big of course, but you're a big lad all over, stocky and firm looking too. Substantial, efficient, mouth-watering. I tore my eyes away and read my horoscope seven times, not taking in one word, as you resumed your trousers. The offending underpants were stuffed into your back pocket and you settled down again for forty winks.

I felt tight and glancing down saw my jeans tenting in a quite spectacular manner. With you asleep and the newspaper as cover, I managed to rearrange myself so as not to cut off the circulation. I was a bit hot under the collar after all this as you can imagine, but I knew it was suicide to do anything with you dozing so near.

I waited until we knocked off and I went straight home, missing out on the usual two pints in the Seven Oaks. I wanked leant up against the back of the front door, so desperate, my keys were still in one hand while my cock was in the other. I dreamt about you that night, too, the sight of you, in the back of that tatty van, half naked. I woke up so hard, it only took a few strokes to come. I managed another one too, before showering and reporting in for another day's stake out. Sitting beside you knowing you were as bare as me beneath our barriers of corduroy and denim was torture. Wonderful, wonderful torture.

The vows exchanged now, the register signed, you using all your names for once, scratching with the registrar's official black ink filled fountain pen. Handshakes, kisses on Sylvia's soft cheek, perhaps a tear from the lovely bride herself and then out, down the rackety, uncarpeted stairs and into the car. With a wave, they're gone, two lonely people, finding each other against all the odds. Cowley was whispering something to you as I settled the bride into the passenger seat, as I noticed out of the corner of my eye. Oh, well, you'll tell me later I suppose.

Do you remember, I wonder, our first night together? It was the end of a working week that had been sheer hell. Court appearances first thing Monday morning, two stake-outs, one shooting, Murphy in the intensive care unit, Cowley going spare, half the squad down with Korean flu and then the benediction of Friday night, 7:30 was pretty late to finish but better than nothing and best of all, not on duty again until 6:00 Sunday night.

You were--well, I don't know, scary I suppose is the only word to describe it. You'd been in a funny mood all week but I'd put that down the pressure we were all under. But that Friday night, you had a thirst on you like ten Irishmen, and a temper to match. We'd gone to the Seven Oaks as always, but there was an office leaving do going on and the bar was crowded and noisy.

"Let's get some carry-outs and go back to my place," you said in a tone of utter disgust with life, the universe and everything. I was--am--willing to do anything to get back to your place at any time of the day or night, so, of course, I agreed. I suggested food, but you refused moodily. You just wanted to drink as much as possible as fast as possible and not let anything else get in the way. I've seen you like that since, but that was the first time and it was--disturbing.

Your flat was cold. There were half empty coffee mugs littering the living room; the kitchen sink was half full of scummy, greasy water. A week's quiet dust lay over everything. You switched lights on and gestured in a vague apology for the state of the place before unpacking the beer we'd brought back from Victoria Wines.

"What a bloody week," you groaned, taking your shoes and socks off. I was staring at your naked feet and imagining--well, you can guess what I was imagining.

At first, I tried to cheer you up, jolly you out of it. Then I thought sod you and just let you get on with it. You took everything the wrong way anyway, nothing I could say was making it any better. So I just let you stew. You got drunk quickly, with a hard-edged desperation I didn't recognise. And then, you sparked out. One minute cursing me, Cowley and the whole damn world, the next unconscious.

Well, you're a big lad and normally I'd have just left you but, well, the flat was cold and what the hell, I just wanted to take my chance to undress you and put you to bed. So I did. I'm tougher than I look, as you often say and I'm used to handling bodies both dead and dead drunk. Your bedroom was cold too, a bare room, just a bed, a bedside cabinet, a telephone, a lamp. I got you on the bed at last, not without some puffing and blowing and then began to remove your clothes.

I'll never forget it. I felt sick, it was disgusting, was I some kind of pervert, copping an eyeful while you were out for the count? But I did it. And I enjoyed it.

You've got lovely legs, Bodie. Your best feature I'd say, after your eyes, and your skin and your bum and your--well, your best feature is your body really, let's face it. I got you naked and I looked at you for a long time, the rise and fall of your chest, the delicious nipples, the full balls and soft, lovely cock. I almost touched you, but fear that it would wake you restrained me.

Then I covered you over with the blankets and as I tucked them under your chin, those navy blue eyes opened and with drunken delight, you smiled at me, a warm genuine smile that lit your whole face, as if I was the one person in all the world you most wanted to see bending over you.

"Sunshine," you said, with inebriated charm.

"Pissed out of your tiny mind, mate," I replied, harshly, throat tight with god knows what.

"Yeah, it's great. Come on, get in." And you pulled the bedclothes back and scooted over leaving half the bed free for me and with another heart stopping grin, you fell fast asleep.

I'm a bloody fool, always have been. So I stayed, didn't I? Kept my underpants on though, I'm not suicidal. I didn't dare move, hardly dared breath, didn't sleep a wink. Towards dawn you muttered something, rolled over and gathered me to you and I spent an agonizingly wonderful few minutes as you dreamily rubbed your foot up and down my shin. Then with a contented murmur you fell asleep on my chest. I wanted to die, wanted to get up and run away, or stay there and take you so hard it'd make you scream. I did nothing, but just lay there. I suppose I must have dozed off at some point, because I do remember waking up. You were still heavy and warm all down one side. I looked at my watch, 8:00. Then you stretched the sinuous length of that splendid body all supple and boneless. I bit my lip. You murmured my name, I think, then rolled away from me onto your back.

"How's your head?" I asked loudly, showing I didn't care.

"Bloody awful. How's yours?" you sighed.

"Hard," I replied softly to myself and moved to sit up and get out of that lovely, lovely bed. But you've got ears like radar and before I knew it, you'd grabbed me and were on top of me and all of a sudden very wide awake indeed.

An insolent thrust of your groin against mine and you said: "So I can see, or I would see if you'd get those bloody daft great knickers off." And with that you grabbed my balls.

When something happens that you really, really want, it's hard, at first to believe it. I must have lain there for about thirty seconds, too long anyway, because you pulled back with a strange look on your face.

Then I did some grabbing of my own. You were a bit reluctant but willing to be persuaded. Stroking your cock seemed to work the best.

"Ray, Ray," you whispered, your hard hands tangling in my hair. You were above me and somehow you got my underpants off and when your cock touched mine, god it was electric, bolts of ecstasy running throughout my entire body. I was clinging to you, thrusting up against you as you thrust down, with invasive, impressive threat.

Your hands were everywhere, cupping my balls then pulling my prick, lust flashflooding through me. I squirmed beneath you, my hands reaching round to your arse, to feel the muscles thrusting as you pounded into me. Another fierce thrust and then a sudden, wet stillness and we came, seconds apart. You sprawled limp and exhausted above me then rolled over, one hand resting above my heart.

"Lovely," you said smugly. "Lovely, lovely. Waking up hard and having a good old rubup together. Lovely." You yawned hugely and removed your hand, to my regret. You leant up on one elbow then and looked down at me. "You're a bit of a tiger ain't you, Doyle?" And so help me, if you'd been just one tiny bit more patronizing, I'd have killed you.

I salvaged some dreg of pride from the cesspit and replied blithely. "Martini Doyle, that's what they call me. Any time. Anyplace. Anywhere. Always glad of a wank or a suck now and again."

"Suck?" you said, and I'll never know if you were shocked or not. I shrugged it off anyway and got out of bed. I dressed quickly and had made coffee by the time you surfaced. You were rumpled, blue-chinned and utterly delectable and I wanted to fuck you right there in the kitchen. I felt cold and achy, the release of sex fading under the onslaught of wanting you still, so bad, still wanting you. I left you behind and got out as fast as I could and spent all of Saturday in the book shops down Soho, then wanking myself to a standstill all Saturday night, sprawled before the video with a bottle of gin and a box of paper tissues. By the time I saw you again, I was almost in control.

Ah and then, do you remember? Bit of a cheek really to call her the other woman, but I suppose in a way she was--is, I mean. She wasn't the first witness we'd had to bodyguard: a straightforward assignment it seemed. Funny now, looking back. That assignment changed four lives at least.

Bait, she was. Plain and simple. Cowley, the cold hearted bastard, hung that lady out to dry--as bait. To tempt Ronnie-The-Scumbag-Stanley out of hiding. Because the lady was an eyewitness to Ronnie's little contretemps with Nevis and his crew. Minding her own business, looking for a cash machine that was working on a Saturday evening down in Mitcham and all unknowing, gets a good eyeball full of both of "Sahf Lahndahn's" meanest gangs cutting each other to shreds.

Protective custody down at Earlsfield nick was too easy for Cowley. He spirited her away to a safe house in Leytonstone of all places, driving from one side of London to another through the desert of a Sunday evening in November, the lady sat in the back trying not to fall apart, you driving, me beside you, Cowley behind in the Jag.

Just the two of us, Cowley had ordered, in the house. Murphy and Jax would be mobile and provide back up and a swing shift, if necessary, by Tommy and Fisher. The word was already out, a rumour circulated where it would do the most good, the witness guarded but not too closely and the trap ready to spring if and when Ronnie made his move.

"If the witness doesn't get herself killed first," I said, unhappy with the tactic and making no pretence to be otherwise.

"Don't be such a jessie," you replied. "We're the best mate. Let them think she's a soft target and when they make their move, they won't know what's hit 'em." You were relishing the prospect I could tell. All I could think of was an innocent bystander being used as bait to trap villains. This nice lady had nothing to do with villains--it was our job to get them, not hers.

We got to the safe house at last, down a cul-de-sac that even taxi drivers would need directions to find. Top floor flat, one bedroom, decorated in the best possible taste--if you like Shabi-tat--with a dead spider grass plant in the 'living room' and nothing in the fridge.

You were checking the perimeter, a professional to your fingertips. I just stood in the middle of the 'living room' and tried to be cheerful.

"It's only for a few days Miss O'Keefe," I assured her--and me. She smiled and her face suddenly wasn't so plain. And Cowley chose that moment to walk in and got the full benefit.

They shook hands I remember, and I remember thinking it was a bit of a formal thing to do in these easy going days. Still, the old man is a stickler for manners. I fully expected him to give his 'for the good of the nation' speech, but he didn't, just assured her, as I had done, that it would be over soon, then turned to leave. You joined me as I let him out of the front door and he turned back and looked at us both, stood side by side. He seemed satisfied with what he saw because he just nodded and with a grim, "Look after her," he left.

We tossed a coin to see who would go to the shop. You lost, I forked over a fiver and an instruction to get real tea, not bags, and watched you lope off down the street in search of the local late-nighter. Miss O'Keefe switched on the TV and we sat like people waiting to see someone off at a railway station and made polite conversation about the weather, the royal family, the latest movies. She was nice. A bit scared, probably secretly terrified, but poised, perhaps shy underneath, I think. Our conversation warmed as we discovered an identical fascination for Eddie Grundy and the entire population of Ambridge. We were chattering away as you returned, wet through, clutching a bulging carrier bag.

"Raining?" I asked innocently, knowing daft questions like that drive you mad.

"Oh no, stopped off for a swim in the canal," you snarled.

Whilst we sparred, a bit too bitterly, Sylvia quietly unpacked and made some tea. Fifteen minutes later, now full of scrambled eggs and toast and jam and twiglets, we finally stopped arguing. We all watched a boring documentary on modern choreography and then Sylvia went to bed. I escorted her to the door of the one bedroom, checked the window locks were in place and left her to it.

"All nicely tucked up?" you asked, sweetly.

"Yeah, safe and sound. Well, since you went for the shopping, I'll take the first watch. Get some kip." And with that I turned off the TV and most of the lights and set off, checking the perimeter again. All was secure, and by the time I returned to my post by the living room window, you'd dossed down under an old sleeping bag and were fast asleep, your gun in its holster under the cushion under your head.

I'm good at my job and I only spent a few minutes looking at you, only slightly tempted to spend my entire life doing nothing else but just look at your face.

It got quiet and thoughts turn inward at times like that. You were just a normal, healthy boy, randy and ready for a bit of a wank, probably a hang over from army days. You were most definitely not gay, not interested in or attracted to me--any man, be fair--and that rather pathetic little groping session we'd shared was about the most I could expect. I hated you. I loved you too.

I don't know why. I still don't really. Face it, you're not a very nice person, you're narrow-minded, moody, unpredictable, callous, funny, sharp, gorgeous, sexy--I pulled myself together with a small effort. This was getting me nowhere.

Four hours dragged like ten. I woke you when it was your turn and clambered into the sleeping bag. I tried not to savour the warm Bodie smell but after a while I gave in and just wallowed in it. When I did sleep, I dreamed of a tall dark handsome man, rescuing me from an empty place full of nightmares, bringing me out into the light. It was a very nice dream.

Milk floats rattling down the street woke me before you could. I bathed and shaved, then took over the watch while you did the same. The water was tepid at best, the bathroom grey and cold. As I was making tea, with bags--you bastard, you did that deliberately--Sylvia appeared. She looked pale and unattractive, puffy eyes, lank greasy hair.

"Sleep well?" I asked just to make conversation.

"Not really Mr. Doyle." She smiled her pretty smile again.

"Call me Ray," I offered, trying to make things as easy as possible. You chose that moment to walk in. Even in the cold dark dawn, you were as alive as a bonfire, crackle and glow and spark.

"Call me Bodie," you drawled and helped yourself to the rest of the tea.

The day passed like any other. Cowley called in three times on the RT, which was unusual for him and each time he asked if Sylvia was all right. I replied each time that she was. She was quiet, occupied herself with listening to the radio and cleaning the flat from top to bottom. She cooked a superb meal from scratch ingredients. I was impressed--it's not fashionable to say so, but I appreciate women who act like women.

The evening dragged. You checked the perimeter religiously, Sylvia sat curled up in one corner of the settee, trying to watch the TV, but dozing off. I sat in the other corner, deliberately not thinking about how much I was besotted with you. You came back, silent as a cat.

"Cosy domestic picture," you said, softly, so as not to wake her.

"Shut up," I hissed, as softly. "She's okay, leave her alone."

"She is, mate, and a good cook too." You patted your flat stomach with contentment and then threw yourself down into the solitary armchair.

The TV burbled on and I pretended to watch the screen. All the time I was aware of your dark, brooding gaze, watching me and Sylvia side by side on the settee, a baleful blue scrutiny that never wavered. I wanted to make some comment, say "it's rude to stare", lighten the mood, anything but I couldn't. Sylvia, defenceless in sleep beside me, made me remember you, asleep beside me, you and what we had done together yesterday morning. The wrong time and the wrong place to have thoughts like that. I felt myself grow stiff, my cock swelling at the memory of your hands wrapped tightly around its fullness, your skill, your hardness.

We split the night watch as always and according to the report I made later, it was 5:47 and Radio Four was just starting to play the Fastasia on the Songs of the British Isles when all hell broke loose.

It's your turn tonight, so we head back to your place. Conversation is sparse, limited to what the bride wore, speculation as to the honeymoon destination and good natured guesses at the duration of this particular match made in Whitehall.

"Give it six months." You, callous.

"I give it for ever," I reply, perhaps a little more seriously than your remark warrants.

"Oh, been reading Barbara Cartland again 'ave we?" you, sarcastic.

"No, it's bloody obvious, to anyone with half an eye, that is. He worships the ground she walks on, and she reckons she's found the strong silent type she's waited for all her life. Obvious."

"Aaah, you soppy old romantic you."

"Piss off." I'm suddenly furious and want nothing out of life but to never have to see you again.

We pull up outside your gaff and the bad mood persists as drinks are poured and clothes removed. Suddenly quiet, perhaps a little sad, I move over to stand behind you and I can feel the furnace heat of your body all through me.

"Any regrets?"

"Funnily enough, no." And you kiss me, the way I like you to, dry and firm and quite wonderful.

I'll never forget Cowley's face. He was haunted, deathly white, looking about two hundred years old, wide blank eyes staring into space. The drive to the hospital was a nightmare. I was way over the limit, screeching round corners at forty miles an hour, running red lights--nightmare.

When I saw you, pale but otherwise okay, I remember, something just seemed to give way inside me. I wondered if I was going to faint, but pride kept me from it. A loosening, softening liquid feeling was coiling through my guts and I felt hot and then very cold all over. Relief turned to temper and I gave you a right ear bashing, which you accepted with a certain sweet ruefulness that I had never seen in you before.

Cowley, on the other hand, was not impressed. He looked at us both as if we were not fit to be burned and bustled into the side ward, to annoy the nurses and generally get in the way as Sylvia was patched up. The bullets had missed, thank Christ, but the flying glass had gone everywhere and she was pretty badly shaken up. Cowley fussed around her like she was his own pride and joy, a funny sight to see, if I hadn't been so strung up with relief over you, Mr. Wonderful.

"Take him home, Doyle," Cowley said at last, shooing us away. "I'll see Syl--Miss O'Keefe gets home all right." Sylvia blushed as he said this, but I was past caring at this point.

So I took you home, to my home, that is. No cold, dusty welcome there, eh? You'd never really seen my place before and as I bumbled around in the kitchen, you toured the place with hearty curiosity.

Not that I was afraid of what you'd find. I'm careful--have to be in our line of work--and I never leave anything remotely incriminating lying around. The beautiful study of the naked man over the fireplace was just a fashionable print, the sort you'd see in any of the better Italian wine bars.

For once, we had nothing to say. I was still devastated by what had so nearly happened to you and you were--be honest--a little shaken yourself. Conversation lagged. We went to bed, it somehow taken for granted we would sleep together, both grown-ups, no big deal. I leant you a pair of old track suit bottoms and dug up another pair for myself. You were asleep as soon as your head hit the pillow and I wasn't far behind.

That morning, eh? Do you remember that morning, bastard? Floating up out of lovely dreams that you were making love to me, to find what? You, with one hand round your own equipment and the other round mine, like it belonged to you, like it was expected. I yelled, slapped you down and shot out of the bed like lightning.

"Wha's up with you, sugarplum?" you drawled, early morning irresistible.

"Fuck off, Bodie. Leave me alone."

"Wha's a matter, den? Don't like to play with the boys?" You were insolent, unbearable, adorable.

"Listen, you randy old toad, just get out will you? I'll be glad to see the back of you!" I was furious, hurt even a little inside.

"You won't be the first."

I gaped, suddenly realized how stupid, and unattractive, that must make me look, and pulled myself and my face together with an effort.

"I, old son," you said, calm like before a storm is calm, "really fancy a bit of slap and tickle round about right now, and I think you could do with a bit yourself." And you knelt up on the bed, the baggy trainers you were wearing displaying your cock in all its glory, hard and rampant. You reached out a hand and grabbed me and I was beside you, then under you and you were licking my nipples with a hard, dry tongue, then mouthing them wetly. A very, very strange sweetness coiled through me then, a sweetness I associate only with you, a kind of hot tingle that's very hard to describe. You made me feel the way warm toffee tastes.

Slicked down with spit, you entered me expertly, my body soon loosing to fit around you, as if my arse was made for you, made to measure. You were fast and hungry, flatteringly so, grunting with wonderful enthusiasm. I felt every thrust through and through me, my prick hard almost at once from the sheer sexuality of the moment, the piercing, demanding fucking. I rocked my hips, clenching down my arse, to clutch you closer, deeper inside. My head rolled back and I swear I felt you kiss my throat, then an almost whispered scream of "Ray!" and then shocking little pulses trembled once, twice, and then you came, hot and wet within me and my own come shot out to splash on your belly, quivering above mine. You stayed within me, warm and heavy, for a long time and when at last you slipped free, you were asleep, shagged out on my chest, right hand buried in my hair.

You were--are--wonderful to bed, as you know full well. And that morning set the pattern for so many, many mornings, and evenings, and afternoons come to that. You like to fuck, like to fuck hard, a pounding ruthless possession that would frighten most little fairies but left me panting for more. Not so keen on being on the receiving end, I know.

You like me to suck you too. Sometimes just to get you hard and wet, like when we're in a van, stuck out on obbo and you get a bit randy and restless. Sometimes you just want it for a change, and you'll let me take you all the way, down my throat and into my belly, so hot I can feel you into my bowels, my hunger increasing from what it feeds on. You have a very individual, musky taste, not quite salt and not quite sour but totally lovely.

And then, ah yes and then, you suck me off too. In the car, of course, a quick hard suck that's meant to bring instant relief and nearly always does. Once in the showers after a workout when everyone had gone home, the hot water cascading down your cheeks, hollowing with every suck, every swallow.

Generally speaking though, you don't like to kneel for it, usually you're too concerned for the crease in your trousers, Dandy Pants. Best is you all comfy and thirsty for the taste of cock, perched on the sofa with me hot and ready for you, stood before you, flies open, hands relaxed by my side, head tumbled back as the torment of sucking takes me and takes me, takes me places I don't remember, can't forget.

And never once, not ever once a word of love between us. .

Affection, lust, respect, humour, spite, oh, yes you can give all that--and take it too--with the best of 'em. But you hate it if I let you see that it means anything to me. I've not told you, of course, never put it into words exactly, because that would be the end of it all. You've loved one person in your whole life and his name is William Bodie.

At least you spare me the facade of 'just a fuck between friends', you're too honest for that self-deception. No, bitter though it is, you really just don't love me.

But I get moody when I start to think like that and you're quick to guess the cause too. You'll try to fuck it out of me then sometimes, use passion, use your body, to coax me out of it. You're not indifferent to me--if I died, as I might--as we both might--one night, knocked off down a dark alley, the bottom would fall out of your world, as you probably know quite well. And sometimes, that's not enough for me, which is pretty bloody stupid when you think about it because it's all I'll get and more than I could have hoped for.

Do you remember, how angry you were? I'd made no secret of it, of course, but I hadn't mentioned it either. I'd simply said I'd see you later at your place and set off. It never, honestly, even occurred to me that you would be interested, let alone jealous.

It was nice to see Sylvia again. Her flat was cosy and simple, the food good, the wine better, the conversation lighthearted and relaxing. And nothing happened. As I tried to say to you that night, over and over, I'm bloody gay, for Christ's sake, what's going to happen? I leap on her and rape her?

There was no arguing with you, though. You came close to a bloody good battering that night, I can tell you. With your insinuations and your taunts. "Trying it on the other side for a change, eh?" "Falling for a fag-hag are we, sweetie?" "Thinking of starting a family, darling?"

I could have murdered you for that. Sylvia is a bloody nice girl, a lovely girl as my mum used to say. And if you must know, we spent most of that night talking about how much I was in love with you and how much she was in love with Cowley.

It was really strange, hearing him called George. She'd asked me, in that oh-so-deceptive-but-it-fools-no-one kind of voice, about my boss and what was he like. I looked at her shrewdly, and well, we had drunk quite a lot of wine, so of course, the whole tale came out. He'd driven her home after the shootout, been kind, been comforting, he seemed a bit lonely, a bit sad, but honest and nice with it. I listened and sympathized and then she said quite simply she guessed I understood because of how I felt about you. So my own sorry tale was told then.

More wine, more sympathy, a late night (chaste) kiss on the doorstep and then off I trot, looking forward to crawling in beside you, Mr. Wonderful, and maybe, if you're still awake, a bit of a fuck.

Instead, it's like the avenging father on the doorstep. "What time do you call this then?" It was 11:45 actually and I was off duty the following morning so what was it to you?

I really thought you were going to hit me--I know I very nearly hit you. We lay in frigid silence, miles apart but close together, you furious with righteous indignation, I full of simmering martyred indignation.

And then that put the tin hat on it the following day when Cowley overheard us.

"You've been seeing Sylvia--er, Miss O'Keefe?" he accused, like he was accusing me of child molesting.

"I went round to her place for some supper, sir. That's all." This last word was aimed at you. It missed.

So now I had two people angry at me, my boss and my lover. Great, Doyle, all you bloody did was open a bottle of white wine and eat some pasta. I thought this was a free country for God's sake?

So, of course, I made plans to do it again, didn't I? I wasn't having you dictating to me, who did you think you were anyway?

And also, of course, it struck me, about three weeks after that night (three weeks, incidentally, when we shared a bed but not each other--God, but I got so randy for you those three weeks), that the oldest trick in the book might just work. Jealousy. The old green-eyed monster.

I mean, the sex thing by now was just taken for granted. We were partners, good mates and best of all we were both queer as fuck. So, of course, we ended up in bed (thank Christ). If we'd been straight, me a woman for instance, you my male partner, we'd have ended up in the same place, probably sooner rather than later. Sex, lovely hard sex. Uncomplicated, no strings attached, heart whole and fancy free, too hot lusty lads, in rut for anything they could get.

But I--fool that I am--fell in love that very first day. You--fool that you are--well it might just take you a bit longer. But I thought me seeing Sylvia could just do the trick.

But me seeing Sylvia made George Cowley realize this was his last chance and if he passed it up, then it was 'good night Vienna'.

Do you remember, yesterday morning? I was half asleep, listlessly eating Rice Crispies and the phone rang.

"If it's the office, tell 'em we are off duty, Cowley's orders and they can sod off." I was in a hell of a bad mood, too little sleep and not enough sex.

You stood, receiver in hand, with an unbelieving expression on your face. I was slow on the uptake for once and it took a while to realize something was up. I reached your side and took the phone from you.


And then it was my turn for a bit of an unbelieving expression. Because it was Cowley, saying the wedding was at Great Marlborough Street Registry office at 10:30 tomorrow morning and would we be the witnesses?

It's early afternoon now, you beside me, stretched out on the sofa, and I'm watching that lovely pool of sunshine that comes through the window, with the dust motes floating in the golden air. You yawn and with a mighty effort, get to your feet, then lever me upright as well. I'm gathered into your arms and it's no trouble at all to lay my head on your naked shoulder and mold my body into yours.

"Bed," I whisper and you nod and lead the way.

"You've been distracted all day, Sugarplum. Anything the matter?" Your concern is not quite masked by the banter.

"No, just--well, making promises, I suppose. Okay, go ahead, laugh your head off," I, quick to deflect your attack, knowing how much you hate sentimentality in any shape or form. I feel the warmth of your smile before I look up to see it.

"Forever?" I can't quite believe I've actually said it and the warmth fades from your face, leaving only winter behind. A long pause, then a shrug and you get into bed.

"Well?" I think I almost hate myself for that pleading tone, and I almost hate you for forcing it from me.

"Forever," you say in a strange tone. "For now." And you smile your bastard smile. And I definitely hate you.

But then, you reach for me arrogantly, and I fight you, for once, for once it's me taking the lead and maybe, for once, you'll let me.

I rear up over you, looking down into your fathomless, wonderful eyes. Somewhere, deep down, perhaps there is something else there for me, if I look hard enough. I slip inside you and you give a cry, broken open, plundered by my body, consumed by my fires, until I think surely, there can be nothing left of you that doesn't belong to me. Again a cry, and it's my name, and you say it over and over, as I thrust and thrust over and over, until there is only silence and then I feel your heart beat beneath my cheek and I hear the ticking of your watch as your hand suckles my head to your nipple and maybe I just imagined that something else I thought I saw in your eyes.

-- THE END --

Originally published in Liaisons 2, Up the Rebels Press, 1992

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