Bodie staggered to his flat, his keys fumbling as he finally got one in the lock. Vision foggy, colors muted around him, he got inside and closed the door, leaning hard against the shifting wall.

Bloody bastards would probably show up any minute, want to talk or some such rot. Let them all come. Sod CI5 and George Cowley.

Marikka died and Ray betrayed him. What the fuck did he care about anything else?

Blinking several times to focus in on the cabinet, he aimed and landed right. He grabbed the bottle and then awkwardly settled down on the couch, his head back and spinning. God, he needed more to block the images running like a bad movie in his head. He used to love old movies, when people like John Wayne and Bogart won out over evil. But then the bullets didn't bleed them to death in real life did they? It made for a whole different spin when the villains worked right beside you, called you a good lad and mate before turning you over to die for no good reason. Taking another deep swallow, he relished the burning, the blistering of his throat as the liquid did more than numb stubborn tissue.


Opening one eye, he looked up to see his partner staring down, his green eyes clear and sober, his face twisted in a mask of concern.

He wanted no part of that charade, no final dance to close the season. "Get out, Doyle."

"You all right then?"

"I'm fine. Now leave. Leave your key, too. It's over."

"What's over?"

"Us. CI5. The bloody war. Lost it bad, eh. Everybody's dead or dying."

The cushion sagged beside him. The hand near his shoulder didn't touch, but he knew it was there, close and waiting. "You're well jollied up, mate."

"Jollied up? Not bloody likely."

"Things'll be clearer in the morning."

"Clearer than what, eh? Clearer than what I saw today? My best mate spyin' on me?"

"Cowley's orders, Bodie. Had to. Thought Marikka had you set up then didn't we? Couldn't take the chance."

"Couldn't take the chance? On what, Ray? That I'm a bloody traitor ready to fuck away my country?"

"Wasn't like that, mate, and you know it."

The anger melted from the words even as he spoke, the energy sapped away, not enough spirit left to skid past the sleepy tongue. Shaking his head, the swirl only grew worse. The bottle lifted from his hand, a warm grip laced his fingers, but he jerked away. Biting his own lip, the pain barely made an impression.

"Go away, Ray. Do us both a favor and forget you ever saw me, ever knew me. I'm poison."

"Now you're talking like a nutter, a daft drunken nutter at that. What do you mean you're poison?

Dizzy waves rolled up with a pulsing roar almost without warning as Bodie stood and stumbled to the loo. At the back of his mind he realized Ray stood there in the doorway watching, his presence too familiar from other bouts too fuzzy to recall, too far away to matter. The long rounds of retching brought up more than he could ever remember drinking as he prayed he'd breathe again. Stomach muscles protested, screamed as he shifted to kneel, waiting for the next wave. The sound of running water followed by a cool cloth pressed to his face surprised him. "You finished then, Sunshine?"

His tongue resisted the words and made only a slurred mutter. "Think I'm as lucky as that, eh."

Back up, head resting on a forearm, he dry heaved even more, every muscle strained to end its connection to bone. Bile raked and singed his nose and throat, the acid stripping the flesh from inside out. God, he hated drinking on an empty stomach.

So cold, joints frozen and thinking iced over, his limbs failed him as he swayed. Other arms grabbed and held around his chest pulling him up, the air too thin for his tired lungs.

Ray's voice traveled a great distance, filtered though gritty slush to be heard. "Damn, Bodie, don't pass out yet, mate. Use your legs a bit, eh. Come on now. Walk it to the bed for me, luv. Come on. Almost there now. There's a good Bodie."

Leaning lasted forever until he dropped to the edge of the mattress, his upper body still supported by his partner. Busy hands moved down his shirt front, buttons sliding through slits of cloth, his arms handled to the side like a child's. The slightest push sent him backwards, the bed's bounce dulled by his own dead weight. Shoes and socks gone, his zipper sliding down, reflex kicked in as he captured Ray's wrist. "Leave off, Ray."

"Almost done, Sunshine. Just relax. Trust me."

His eyes blinked several times, his lips and tongue sloppy and disconnected. "Can't, Ray. Too late."

"Come on, Bodie."

His hand twisted harder, jerking his partner onto the bed. He closed his eyes while he spoke, his voice hoarse and raspy, almost broken. "Works both ways, mate."

In the dark a palm cupped his chin and drifted upward, the soft caress like a whisper. "I trust you, Bodie. Always have. We're mates."

Releasing his grip, Bodie dropped into shadow and drifted, drinking in the feathery sensation as Ray stroked his cheek gently.

"She's dead, Ray." His voice scraped the air, the words dry stones worn together, each one rusty with blood aging more red.

Heat pressed hard across his weary chest as a whiskered face leaned next to his own. Pulled closer, embraced by his partner, the hushed voice sang ever so lightly in his ear. "I know, luv. I know. Sleep now."

Swallowing hard, the heartache a lump swelling larger going down, he found just enough breath to whisper. "God, Ray, don't leave me."

Fingers swept through his hair, petting and soothing, the slender touches easing away thunder. "Didn't plan to, Sunshine. Sleep now. We'll talk in the morning."

A black storm chilled him, drank away the heat from his caged and fettered body, the light a coward never born. Only Ray Doyle's breathing and comforting touches reached through the gaping jaws of darkness and held him, saved him from sinking away from his very own blistered soul.

Morning arrived in layers of grey, peeling aches and spinning gauze around his vision. Turning over on his side, Bodie groaned and pulled up his knees, the pounding grinding like a heavy sand blast in his skull. "Christ." Saying the word razored his tight throat as he fought down the painful hiss trailing behind it.

"Feeling pretty much like shit then are we?" Doyle's voice floated down from another world, but he kept his eyes closed. The mattress shifted beside him, his gut clenching at the unexpected motion.

"Bloody hell, Ray. Just shoot me."

"Why bother, Sunshine? You'll never make old bones anyway, not with the straight aim with the bottle you've got."

"Sod off, you bastard." Covering his face with a pillow, Bodie took a deep breath before resting for the next one.

"How about some coffee then? Got some ready, nice and hot, eh?"

"Leave off, Ray. I'm serious. Just get the hell away." He rolled over again, this time reaching to pull up the covers over his head, the deep comfort of woolen dark a favor to raw senses. Even from there, Ray's body heat touched him, the smell of soap strong, fresh like good mornings before everything crashed and exploded.

"Come on, Bodie. Time to get up. We have to be at Cowley's for debriefing in a few hours. You need to shower and shave. Then you need to eat something. Make you feel better, Sunshine."

The cover folded back and away, but his eyes stayed closed. Bodie raised his right arm to cover his eyes, the light like tight screws to his brain. "I told you, Ray. It's over. I'm done."

"Look, mate, I know you've hit a rough patch. I understand."

"Do you?"

"Yeah, Bodie, I do. It's not easy losing someone you care about. Sorry about the bird. She's seemed okay."

Biting his lower lip, the rich thickness of his own blood washed across his tongue.

"Damn it, Bodie. What the bloody hell do you think you're doing? Stop that, you stupid crud." As Ray's hand touched his face, he tilted his cheek into the palm, the tender rub against his whiskers a soothing barrier against the anguish slicing right through to his belly.

"Jesus, Bodie, listen. It wasn't your fault those bastards shot her. Nothing any of us could've done."

"I know that."

"You just hungry then? Bite your lip off because you're starvin', silly bugger?"

"It's not fair, Ray. She didn't deserve it, not like that, not with me screamin' at her."

The voice softened, the words smooth velvet across his hearing. "I know, mate. Not fair to you or Marikka. Doesn't mean you have to throw your whole life away, does it?"

"I can't keep playin' games, Ray. Makes no sense to pretend that anything matters, not after what happened."

"But things do matter, Bodie. You matter. We both do." The hand still traced along his jaw, eased to his throat and across his cut lip, pausing to wipe away the red with a lingering thumb.

Swallowing hard, his head swimming from the heated and caring fingers, Bodie's words came out raspy and jagged. "What's going on here, Ray? Mind you, I'm not complaining."

"No? I'm glad then." Leaning forward, lips captured his, a sleek tongue steaming into his mouth, the muscle strong and probing. His body surged forward, his groin suddenly tight, weighted heat spreading through shaky thighs. Head pulled back, eyes locked with his, green barely seen around the black pupils. "You need a shower, Sunshine. Think you can stand a little help with the lather on your backside?"

"God, Ray, what's going on?"

"A Bodie clean-up detail looks like." The smile curling the lips singed his belly with desire, coiled and twisting harder.

Clearing his throat, he shook his head, his brain struggling to find any way to muddle out phrases to explain his confusion. "I don't know, Ray. We're partners. I don't know if I can do this."

"Don't you, Sunshine? I know it's bad timing, but in our mob, we can't lay about can we?"

"Got to grab what we need when we can, eh?"

"It's why they hire us to start with. Risk takers we are."

"You a risk then?"

"We both are. Worth takin', too, I'd say."

Ray slid his palm across his partner's chest, his fingers rolling the right nipple between two fingers. Flashes switched to high power bright as he dipped down to suck and lick around the hard nub. His breath caught in twilight, Bodie's whole back arched up, his spine stretched, the muscles of his arse clenched. "Oh, god." His fingers laced through Ray's curls as his friend moved back and forth to nip and nibble each breast and then up along his throat to his right ear.

"You taste like a hard morning, mate." Sitting back up, Ray took Bodie's hand. "Come on, Sunshine. Let me show you what I can do with simple suds then."

The mere words twitched his cock, temper making it ache, the deep throb like breathing oceans. Guided by his partner he dropped off the rest of his clothes while Ray started the shower. Stepping in, the cold tub beneath his feet tingled in contrast to the steam. Ray stood behind him, the curtain closed, his furry chest pressed to Bodie's back. The thickness of his erection rubbed against his arse, while one arm snaked around his waist, the other reaching for the soap. Slippery, he slid it across his rear, lathering and kneading. Ray's mouth suckled at the back of his neck, along his shoulders, his ear a tasty morsel between eager teeth. A cupping hand fondled his balls and then fisted his cock, stroking steady and even.

His head leaned back, he groaned deep in his throat. "Jesus, Ray."

"Like that then, Sunshine?" The husky words whispered between licking scrapes to his ear, the voice a key to harder thrusting. "That's it, Bodie. Move for me. Feels good, eh?"

From behind him the other hand eased between his cheeks, a slick finger pushing into the tight pucker with a sting. A second joined it as Bodie worked up the rhythm, his cock held, while his arse opened wider. All around him the world settled to his belly, the weeping, the screams, centered and spiraled tighter. Eyes shut, he clenched his teeth in concentration, every muscle shaking on the rocky cliff edge. Dizzy with contraction, thunderous twisting wrapped echoes of his own moans. His bones made war with his very tendons, torn and tearing.

Ray's right arm still held tight while he used the left to position him forward, his own limbs braced against the wall. The tip of the cock shoved into the ring, fire inching forward, tiny thrusts, each one stronger, more forceful. His breathing labored against thick air, his balls swelling as the final push brought his partner deep inside him, their connection pure heat.

"God, Bodie, you're so tight." After a few moments, the pain eased, his shocked muscles relaxing just to the edge of stubborn pleasure. A quick kiss to his neck brought shimmering shocks with the words he'd never considered. "I love you, Bodie."

He collapsed slightly, his arms bent against the tile, the shower water only growing cooler, sluicing between the bodies. "God, Ray, don't say that."

Two strong arms embraced him, refusing to loosen their grip, the cock inside him working only slightly at first, rocking in and out, the constant motion grinding at breaking nerves. "Got to, mate. You want the truth, eh. Well there it is then."

"Bloody hell, Ray, oh, god, don't stop." He gulped down the flood of rough sensation, the swell of fire storming through his body as his lover pounded harder. Fucking his own hand, thickened and expanded, every nerve nearer surrender, stealing his breath. The world spun out around him and then collapsed into a violent stillness, an explosion of red blasts behind his closed lids. Spasms rocked him, bones stunned into submission, stilled completely while Ray continued to hammer into him over and over.

Traitorous air finally returned just as a final shove shattered his partner, the vibrations of his release running through him, the spurting rush of his come filling Bodie with liquid heat. Weight grew heavy behind him, Ray's strength ebbed and spent.

Breathing labored, words muddled and swirling, his tongue wouldn't work. Cold water sprayed him, the chilled spiky needles bringing a shiver up his legs into his chest.

"You okay then?" A gentle hand ran across his bare shoulders, the fingers caressing the slick skin between tiny kisses.

"Fine, except I'm bloody freezin'."

Pulling out carefully, still holding his partner, he waited until Bodie balanced and stood straight before turning off the water. Reaching outside the curtain, he grabbed a towel and handed it over. "Here then, luv. Wrap up while I get another."

Easier than thinking, Bodie followed orders, his mind still foggy and confused. A quick return brought Ray with more towels and a bright smile. "Out now. You're starting to shrink up. Get dried off, mate, before your skin starts to match those Bodie blue eyes."

Glancing down, he covered himself, his lazy cock shriveled and resting in a nest of dark curls. His partner shoved his hand away, leaned in and drew him close, groin to groin. "Don't ever hide it, mate. You're bloody gorgeous." Lips met briefly before Ray dragged him back to the bed and drew covers up around them.

Lying there together, Ray cradled his head against his chest, the heart beating a strong steady cadence with his. After a few minutes of silence, the warmth relaxing his body even further, he nuzzled his face against the fuzzy chest hair before he spoke. "Did you mean it then, what you said?"


"The bit about loving me?" A fist gripped an anxious heart, his lungs too cowardly to breathe on a regular basis.

"Yeah, Bodie, I did. That a problem?"

He ignored the question as he shifted a leg and hand, wedging them between thin thighs. His best mate kissed the top of his head while he stroked the hair, the touches like teasing feathers to his scalp.

"Ever love a bloke before, Ray?"

"Yeah, once. Seventeen made me crazy. Wanted it all, didn't I? Ended up losing out because I didn't know what I really wanted."

"What about all the birds then? You just pretending?" He remembered the long list of women, the ladies he and Ray dated together, the women he'd imagined his friend fucking as he watched.

"Pretending? No more than you then. I wasn't alone in the shower, mate."

"No, you weren't. It just surprised me, that's all."

"You ever done it with a man before?"

"I've been with blokes in the army, sure, but never one I really cared for. In the jungle it doesn't much matter who you fuck, Ray. You do things you'd never imagine. Pretty nasty really. Made me feel right dirty sometimes." Closing his eyes while he let his hand wander in circles around Ray's nipple, he blocked off the impulses to recall the shadows of his life. He needed the bloody screams to stay quiet just awhile longer, so he focused on his partner's soft hair, the fine play of his palm over his chest.

"Feel dirty now then do you?"

"It was just different with blokes, that's all. No real feeling. Just fucking."

"And now, Bodie? Still no real feelings to deal with?"

Closing his eyes, he tried not to twist the words. "I have to be honest, Ray. I'm not sure what I'm feeling. I know I care about you more than anybody else. It's just that it's right scary to worry about all that could happen."

"I know, Sunshine. It's all dangerous, but I couldn't let another day go by being quiet. I don't want to lose you."

"And that's what scares me. Never loved a bloke before, never even a bird as much as you. What if something happens, eh? I'm right poison to people who love me."

"I'll take my chances, Sunshine. Besides, I've got this right nutter of a partner who'd kill any daft bugger who tried to kill me. Bastard's crazy sometimes." Lifting Bodie's chin, Ray kissed his lips lightly, his hand stroking the rough cheek. A rush of heat layered his body, his cock thickening, greedy for the familiar addictive touch.

Pulling back, Ray whispered, "Stop resisting, Sunshine."

"And if I don't? You going to arrest me, eh?"

Running the tip of his tongue along the side of his jaw, Ray rubbed his cheek against Bodie's. "No, Sunshine, going to love you and fuck you until you know you deserve it." The teasing mouth sucked at the hollow of Bodie's throat, the wet heat a swirling coil down his center. The smaller man shifted to move and wrap one leg up over his friend's hip, his heel drawing him closer, crotch to crotch.

"Cheeky bastard. You think you've got me, eh?" He raised his head to face his lover, his cock weeping as he witnessed green eyes so close, eyes staring back, hungry and determined. God, he knew that Ray Doyle with a mission look. An involuntary shudder shook him as he tried to pull away, reality a slowly waking creature shrieking.

Before he could move, Ray captured his mouth, biting his swollen lower lip, his tongue swabbing it gently. "I love you, Bodie, all of you, good and bad. Mind you, sometimes it's hard to tell the difference, but I know you better than you think."


"Yeah. Right now you're ready to do a runner, but I'm not going to let that happen. This can work, Bodie. A chance is all I'm asking."

Closing his eyes, the larger man scooted closer, wrapping his arms around Ray's waist, the heat a living anchor. "Chance is about all I can give, Ray. I'm sorry."

"It's enough, Sunshine. Love's always just a chance, eh?"

Ray hugged him tighter, one arm massaging his back, one palm soothing his aching chest, the worry a tingling ointment taunting his breath. Nothing prepared him after losing so much for the possibility of gaining even more later. The panic swelled up, gibbering and straining for attention, the rapid fire doubts flaming arrows aimed too close to his own visions of failure. Despite the ooze of a damaged spirit, he relaxed into his partner's arms and chanced a final rescue for his blistered heart.

-- THE END --

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