"Get off me," Doyle said viciously, shaking himself free and turning his back on him as Bodie put his arm round him. All he wanted at that moment was to be left alone. Bodie was too involved -- too much a part of the whole business. And Doyle wanted to be free of them all... of Ann and Cowley and CI5, and Bodie too...
He started to walk away, but stopped after a few steps, knowing how he must have hurt Bodie, wanting to make amends. But even before he'd turned back, Bodie was there again, that insistent hand back on his shoulder, and there was no way Doyle could reject him. Not Bodie. It was hard enough. Bodie had been put through the mill on this too.
And when he finally looked at him and saw the naked pain in the depths of the dark blue eyes Bodie was trying so hard to hide, he was glad he'd turned back. More than that. Amazed, he realized Bodie was waiting stoically to be rejected again... prepared for it, expecting it. And Doyle knew he'd keep on coming back for more however many times he shrugged him off. It was a revelation to him that the normally self-contained Bodie should deliberately lay himself open to such treatment.
He wasn't sure where he was going, but he started walking again anyway, wanting to get away from the car park at least. Bodie walked by his side in silence for several long moments before he said, "Come on Ray, let's get you home. Can't start wandering the streets in this state." "I=m all right," he protested, but he knew he wasn't. He felt lost and stunned, and completely bewildered.
He allowed himself to be led back to the car park, Bodie's arm staying warm and heavy on his shoulder. He was glad it was there. Bodie didn't say anything, but Doyle sensed he was giving him a few concerned looks.
When they got to the car Bodie took out his keys and opened the passenger door first, and Doyle felt himself eased inside onto the seat with surprising gentleness. He sat where he'd been placed, staring through the windscreen, hardly blinking, seeing nothing.
The overcast evening had given way to light drizzle and Doyle concentrated his attention fiercely on the rhythmic sweep of the windscreen wipers. Anything rather than think of the final conversation with Ann.
He was glad Bodie didn't talk as he drove. For one thing Doyle doubted he could trust his own voice. At some point he'd have to let it all out, but not yet, and not in front of Bodie either if he could help it. Bodie had enough on his mind. No, later, when he was alone, that'd be the best time.
But he managed to pull himself together long enough to ask, "You taking me home?"
"Yeah," Bodie said neutrally, eyes on the road, "Why? You wanna go somewhere else?"
Doyle shook his head. Yeah. Home. That'd be fine. He could relax once he got home. Ann's tear-stained face kept swimming before his eyes. He closed them tightly, trying to make it go away, and felt the first bitter tears start to prick his eyelids. Christ, no... not yet. Not here. He took a deep breath, managed to regain control.
"Ray..." Bodie was shaking him. He surfaced to find they had reached his flat. The passenger door was open and Bodie was leaning inside, prodding him.
Doyle felt very weary, could hardly make his legs move, and had to force himself to get clumsily out of the car.
"Cowley'll have your hide for this... and mine, too," he said calmly enough as he got out. "We're supposed to be at the interrogation."
"Fuck Cowley," Bodie said mildly. They made their way to the door. Bodie held out his hand. "Keys, sunshine. Haven't got mine on me," he said matter of factly. That was understandable Doyle realised, remembering Bodie had embarrassedly returned his key when his relationship with Ann had become serious.
Even so it took him a moment to connect and realise what Bodie wanted. Then he rummaged in his jacket pocket and produced his front door key. The flat was just as he'd left it that morning, Ann's perfume still lingering heartwrenchingly in the living room. Strange to think she'd been here only a few hours ago. So much had happened since then. That bright, sunny morning seemed a lifetime away. As he sank onto the sofa he noticed one of her sweaters draped casually over the back of a chair on the other side of the room. His eyes lighted on it with a shock of recognition, and stayed on it obsessively. It was one of his favourites. Pale pink angora with a low neckline. She always looked good in it. He remembered she'd worn it yesterday when they'd gone out to dinner because he'd said there was a nip in the air and she mustn't catch cold. She must have forgotten to take it home with her...
Bodie's eyes followed his and Doyle watched, unprotesting, as Bodie swept the sweater up in a capable hand, crumpling it none too neatly, and took it away somewhere. Almost as if he was removing something belonging to someone who was dead...
A drink was thrust into his hand, the amber liquid sloshing precariously before he remembered to tell his fingers to grip the glass.
"Get it down you," a calm, no nonsense voice said, "All of it," as he took a first, tentative sip. It reminded Doyle painfully of the first meeting with Ann when he'd had to force her to drink too. It amazed him to think how short a time that was. A matter of days. Was it really possible to love and lose someone in so short a space of time? Apparently so. He'd just done it. Depressed by that thought he did as he was told and drank his drink, suddenly feeling like he needed it. He wasn't in the mood to argue with Bodie anyway.
After a time he heard Bodie on the phone talking to Cowley. "Yes, sir, at Doyle's flat --" Doyle noticed his voice sounded strange... edgy and emotional, like it had the time they'd had that row here in the flat after they'd caught him nosing outside Holly's house.
"No, he's in no fit state..." Getting angry now. That was better. He'd rather have the anger. It was healthier. And he suddenly needed Bodie to be all right. Didn't want him to be affected by any of this.
"I'm staying right here... sir..." A slight pause before that heavily ironic 'sir'.
"In the morning... yeah, we'll be there."
So, the old man's given us a reprieve, has he, Doyle thought distractedly, deciding Cowley might not be such an unfeeling old bastard after all.
"Holly talked," he heard Bodie say expressionlessly, after he'd put the phone down. "It's all wrapped up. She doesn't know yet."
Doyle didn't feel any sense of achievement over that and didn't yet feel up to talking about it either, not relishing the thought that he'd just helped to put away the father of the girl he loved, so he merely nodded, acknowledging the information.
"You can go, you know," he said after a moment, "I'm all right."
Bodie sat down next to him, a careful foot or so away, not touching him.
Doyle felt hurt by that. Bodie never normally bothered to sit so far away from him, in fact he tended to make physical contact at every opportunity. Bodie enjoyed touching and being touched. As a rule Doyle didn't, but he'd never minded with Bodie somehow...
"No, you're not," Bodie was saying levelly, "finish your drink Ray.
It'll do you good." He was speaking in a carefully controlled, neutral way, but Doyle recognised the danger signals behind the deceptively mild tone. Still about to protest about the drink though he took a cautious look at Bodie's set, determined expression and changed his mind. Bodie wasn't about to be argued with.
He drained the glass obediently. As Bodie took it out of his hand Doyle ventured another look at him. Saw that Bodie was very close to losing control. He was too pale for a start, skin chalk white, eyes glittering darkly, contrasting harshly against the pale skin. Angry, Doyle thought. At me? Ann? Cowley? All of us? Why not? They all deserved it. They'd all given Bodie a hard time over the past few days.
The glass was returned to his hand, full again. He sighed. "Don't wanna get drunk."
"Not asking you to. One more and you'll feel better." Bodie's voice was gentler this time... coaxing...
And Doyle supposed what he said was true. He could feel the first scotch settling warmly in his stomach, helping a little...
He drained the glass in one, wanting to get it over with, and handed it back for Bodie's perusal like a child.
Bodie nodded his approval and put the empty glass down on the table.
"Gone for good, has she Ray? Or was just a tantrum?" His voice was dangerously smooth. Oh yeah, Bodie was angry all right. Angry with Ann at least.
"Gone for good," he said flatly.
"You sure about that?" Challengingly.
"Yeah, Bodie, I'm sure about that. You want it in writing or something?" He almost shouted the words, sorry as soon as he'd done so.
It wasn't Bodie he should have been shouting at. But at least it was a first sign of emotion. The calm acceptance had been bothering him.
Bodie didn't retaliate at the harsh tone. "Wanna talk?" he asked softly.
There was a pause. Doyle shook his head helplessly. "Dunno. Dunno what I want," he said wearily, but in his heart of hearts not wanting to talk about it, not even to Bodie. It was all still too close, and what was the point of it, anyway? His momentary anger had gone now, and he almost wished it back again, aware of how very uncharacteristic it was for him to be so listless.
It occurred to him then that he might have been hurt very deeply, and it frightened him. There was always the possibility he wouldn't get over it. And he felt so alone... even with Bodie there.
With that thought fresh in his mind he knew suddenly he was going to cry. Sitting here in the flat was making it worse. There were too many memories here, and he was finding it impossible to accept she could hurt him so much after she'd told him she loved him. It was foolish to feel so stricken... it was only a broken love affair, for Christ's sake... not the end of the world... but he couldn't help it. And what was the use of fighting it? He'd always been bedeviled by his emotions like this, for as long as he could remember. It was nothing new. And no doubt he'd carry on in exactly the same way, CI5 operative or not. There was nothing in the rules that said you had to be tough all the time...
He tried to move, wanting to get away before he made a fool of himself, but Bodie was there, stopping him, as if he'd been poised and ready, waiting for this moment. He forced Doyle back down on the sofa as Doyle continued to struggle blindly to get away, Bodie's strength forcing him into his arms, pressing him close.
And Doyle suddenly discovered he didn't want to get away at all. There was no need to hide anything from Bodie. Bodie'd accept this and not think any the worse of him for it. And those strong, insistent arms wouldn't let go anyway, enfolding him in a heartstoppingly gentle grasp, for all their strength. It was unexpected to discover that Bodie could be quite so gentle, and, finally, it was that very gentleness which broke Doyle as he began to cry...
It was quiet and peaceful, lying in the darkness against Bodie's solid warmth, feeling the slow, rhythmic rise and fall of the broad chest under his cheek and the strong, regular heartbeat. Doyle snuggled closer, felt Bodie's arms tighten across his back in response, felt Bodie's cheek against his hair.
"Come on, let's have a look at you," Bodie said softly.
Doyle was feeling pretty lousy, and his head was pounding, and he didn't want to move, but he expected he should, and so sat up, shifting away, but Bodie kept his arms clasped loosely round his waist, hitching himself into a more upright position on the sofa, turning Doyle to face him.
Doyle was glad Bodie seemed happier about touching him. That physical aloofness had been troubling him.
"Better?" Bodie asked, brushing Doyle's hair away from his forehead. His voice had that shaky note in it again... the one Doyle had noticed before when he'd been speaking to Cowley. Doyle understood why it was there, knew Bodie was as upset as he was about all of this, but it didn't make things any easier.
"Yeah, much." It was true. Partly because he was cried out now and very tired, but yeah, he felt better.
"What did she say to you, Ray?" Still that shaky note in Bodie's voice as if he was half afraid to know. Doyle decided the pain over Ann was easy to take compared to this. And he realised he'd have to talk to Bodie about it sooner or later. It was only fair. He owed him that much at least.
"What you'd expect," he said flatly, without expression, a sense of desolation sweeping through him as he was forced to remember. "Told me I didn't love or trust her enough. Couldn't accept the demands of the job. Took it all personally."
Bodie's arms tightened around him, face hardening. "Yeah, that's what I thought." He rubbed a hand up and down Doyle's back comfortingly, looked as if he was going to say something else, then seemed to change his mind.
"Tried to explain..." Doyle went on haltingly, "but I just couldn't seem to make her understand..." his voice trailed away helplessly.
"Well, my guess is she'll be back, mate, when she's calmed down. Yours for the taking... if you still want her," Bodie informed him, almost contemptuously, eyes boring steel hard into his.
Doyle twisted free of him and sat up. "No way," he said vehemently.
"Oh, come on, Ray," Bodie said disgustedly, "You trying to tell me you wouldn't have her back, or something?" His manner had changed, suddenly becoming more aggressive.
"Yeah, that's exactly what I'm telling you," Doyle said, eyes blazing.
"Christ, Bodie, do you think I'd enjoy being put through that again?"
"I dunno, mate, you tell me," Bodie said, unconvinced.
"Come on, I'm not that much of a masochist," Doyle said with angry certainty, "not a fool either, whatever else I might be. She said it herself today. And she was right. It wouldn't have worked. In a way that's what hurts most of all..." He paused, stumbling over the painful words, "she demanded too much, Bodie. More than I could give. It wasn't just the job. Her standards were impossible to live up to. It's only now I'm beginning to realise it."
"Don't give me that," Bodie said bitterly, eyes challenging his, as if daring Doyle even now to break down again and admit how much Ann meant to him, "you're crazy about her." He gestured wildly in the direction of the door, perversely hurting only himself by trying to make Doyle admit to his need of Ann. "All she'd have to do is come through that door now and you'd be right back where you started. Christ, I dunno what's got into you, Ray. Never took you for anyone's lapdog..."
Doyle raised his fist in instinctive reaction, on the point of hitting him, realised what he was doing, and let the fist drop back defeatedly into his lap, eyes filling with tears as he saw the bitter hurt and humiliation in Bodie's eyes.
"You're wrong," he protested, "couldn't go through that again, Bodie... couldn't..."
Bodie frowned, looked away. "Sorry..." he said hoarsely, after a moment, squeezing Doyle's shoulder in apology, "didn't mean to upset you."
But Doyle was beginning to have some conception of what life must have been like for Bodie during the last couple of weeks, and felt so guilty about it he hardly knew what to do with himself. Missed you, Bodie had said to him, trying to joke about it, that night when he'd finally admitted how special Ann was... Christ, how could he not have seen how much Bodie really was hurting, underneath all the bravado... how much he really was missing him...
It was true what they'd been told in the beginning, Doyle realised. Once you joined CI5 you became 'married' to the job... to a complex mix of the organization's values, to George Cowley, and to your partner if you were assigned a permanent one. How must it have felt to Bodie then to have been deserted so suddenly and so completely when he'd met Ann? And he remembered how secretive he'd been with Bodie about her too...
There was something else too... something he'd suspected almost from the beginning, clever as Bodie had been at hiding it... something he needed to finally set straight in his own mind...
He looked across at Bodie, took in the habitual, determined set of his jaw and the guarded expression of the wary blue eyes, which hid so much of his real feelings, hesitated, then decided to go ahead anyway, said, "You lied to me, didn't you, Bodie? Tole me you liked Ann, but you didn't really like her at all, did you?"
"Of course I didn't bloody like her," Bodie answered straightaway, without argument, though he had flushed and was shifting uncomfortably in his seat, "she caused too much trouble between us for a start."
"What do you mean? What trouble?" Doyle persisted, needing to be open about this, as much for Bodie's sake as his own.
"Christ, Ray, do we have to go through all this again?" Bodie complained, "you know as well as I do."
"Checking her out?" Doyle went on, "is that what you mean?"
"Yeah, Ray, checking her out," Bodie went on wearily, with carefully measured precision, "I told you that time you hit me, but it didn't seem to sink in. Did you think it gave me a kick to check up on her behind your back and then tell you you had to start doing the same? Christ, what kind of twisted personality do you think I've got? And don't you realise, if you hadn't done it, she'd still be here now?"
Doyle shook his head, feeling the emotions well inside him again, reached for Bodie's hand, clasping it reassuringly, feeling no self consciousness about doing so. It was warm and unwilling in his own, Bodie half pulling away from him... and that hurt too.
"It's no big deal, Bodie," he tried to explain, "when it came to the crunch I did the same, remember? We both checked her out. Goes with the job, mate. And it wouldn't have made any difference. We'd still have split sooner or later."
Bodie's hand was clenched in a tight fist in his. Doyle patiently prised the stubborn fingers apart and curled his own fingers round the opened hand.
But when it was clear Bodie still wasn't going to say anything he added, "You've got it wrong, you know. It wasn't how you think," suddenly finding it easy to make the admission to Bodie, "there were... problems between Ann and I. It wasn't perfect."
Bodie's head was lowered and he seemed strangely ill at ease. Doyle wondered if he perhaps shouldn't talk to him about this. Maybe Bodie considered it too personal a subject for discussion.
"Yeah, well, you weren't well suited," Bodie said eventually, hoarsely, shifting awkwardly again, "could have told you that from the start but you were so head over heels with her you'd never have listened. Too classy, mate. You'd never have been at ease with her. You'd always have been putting on an act. Told you she was too good for you. That's what I meant. Way out of your class."
"So why didn't you say something?" Doyle asked, exasperated. "I would have listened. I trust your judgment."
"Yeah, but by the time you let me meet her you were already in too deep, remember?" Bodie pointed out patiently, "never do things by halves, that's your trouble. Too impulsive for your own good."
It was pointless to dispute that. It was true.
"I think I understand now why I fell for her in the first place," Doyle mused instead, staring into space, remembering, "it was so... immature, you know. I was disillusioned about the job... and oh Christ, Bodie, I was using her as a way of escape, wasn't I?" His eyes had filled with bitter, bewildered tears.
"Course you were," Bodie agreed, but his voice was kindly, and his hand was rubbing comfortingly along Doyle's back. "Did you think I didn't see that, Ray? I know Benny's death hit you hard. Made you go off into one of those moods of yours where you start to question everything, even the validity of what CI5's trying to do. If it hadn't been her it would have been someone else. You were ripe for it, mate."
"She had a go at me about CI5," Doyle admitted, turning to him, "that first time we met. Thought I was just a professional killer with no conscience. Make me start to wonder about it too. I thought she offered an alternative to CI5 morality somehow... A chance of decency... normality... security..."
"Ah, now you're finally making sense," Bodie cut in, "that's the word I've been waiting to hear. Security... you've been looking for some kind of security for months now, Ray. But you'll never find it with an outsider, sunshine, because no outsider can understand. Haven't you realised that yet? You'd do better to try one of the girls in the typing pool."
The words were flippant, but Doyle recognised their wisdom.
"Yeah, I might do that," he said ruefully.
They were silent for a while, both busy with their own thoughts, Doyle still very much aware of how tense and watchful Bodie was by his side.
Then Doyle said softly, without thinking, "Maybe I should marry you, Bodie. You're the best security there is."
Bodie became even more tense for a fraction of a second before he recovered and answered, "Chance'd be a fine thing. I've never liked being second best, mate. Not getting me on the rebound," his manner suitably derogatory.
This was familiar territory and, relieved there was at last an opportunity for lightness between them, Doyle chuckled.
"Turning me down again, eh?" he joked.
"You bet," Bodie said disgustedly, more like his normal self, "can't stand your smelly feet for a start."
They lapsed into companionable silence. Finally Bodie said, "How're you feeling?"
"Better," Doyle nodded, managing a smile, "thanks."
"Yeah, but I'd better stay anyway," Bodie added easily.
When the chips were down, Bodie was always there, Doyle realised, no questions asked, no matter what the situation, even if it was one which had seriously hurt him too, and given him full cause to be angry and resentful... like this one. He was more than a good mate, was Bodie.
Accepted the good with the bad and never let you down when you needed him.
"Just tonight," Doyle confessed sheepishly, "don't mind, do you?"
"Nah, course I don't mind," Bodie said, but immediately belied the apparent magnanimity of his words when he added, "means I'll lose out on that new barmaid down the Rose and Crown, but what're friends for?"
"Thanks," Doyle said, nodding philosophically, going along with the mood, "that makes me feel a whole lot better." But he sensed Bodie's teasing manner wasn't coming easily to him for once. There was a tension between them. Ironically they were less at ease with each other now than they had been earlier on when Doyle had been so upset...
"Yeah, well I can't help it if I'm irresistible," Bodie was saying without noticeable modesty, sustaining the mood.
He stood up, took his jacket off and draped it over the back of the sofa. "Spare blankets?"
"Already?" Doyle asked. "Little early..."
"Gotta get my beauty sleep," Bodie said with a self-satisfied smile, but Doyle could see he was suddenly very embarrassed. The almost tangible undercurrent of tension was still there.
Not liking it, he motioned awkwardly in the direction of the airing cupboard in the hall, taking a long, pensive look at Bodie as he did so, noticing the new weariness and signs of strain around the blue eyes. Yeah, he'd put Bodie through a lot tonight. He knew Bodie hated heavy, emotional scenes, finding them hard to cope with because they upset him too much. Underneath the casual attitude Bodie was too sensitive... and felt things too deeply...
"What d' you wanna make up the sofa for, anyway?" he shouted through to the hall, pretending nonchalance, "have I suddenly developed BO as well as smelly feet?"
"Can't sleep with you, mate," Bodie's voice drifted back to him reasonably enough, "you snore, remember?"
"That's rich, coming from you," Doyle shouted back as naturally as he could, "like a bloody foghorn."
Bodie returned to the living room laden with blankets and pillows, and a suitably mock fed-up expression.
But the tension was still there. It wasn't going to go away either. Doyle knew the cause as well as Bodie did, knew that their awareness of each other had been heightened to an almost unbearable level tonight, and that Bodie was concerning himself with preparations for going to bed so early to avoid any question of them sharing Doyle's bed tonight.
But Doyle wasn't used to feeling so awkward with Bodie. He was beginning to realise Anne had a lot to answer for if she could make them feel this ill at ease with each other...
Earlier on, when his mind had still been full of other things, he had even half been considering how good it would be to have that warm, strong body next to him in bed tonight... but he was beginning to wonder now if it'd ever be possible to be that natural and close to Bodie again... after Ann...
He had slept with Bodie of course, once or twice, but only when the job had forced them to it. Bodie hadn't exactly been easy to sleep with either. In fact he was the untidiest sleeper Doyle had ever come across... arms and legs everywhere... mumbling to himself all the time.
Which was surprising when you considered how neat and fastidious he was in his waking existence. Maybe his body took its revenge when he was asleep, getting its own back for that very fastidiousness. Or maybe Bodie had a few problems of his own, deep in his subconscience, which he never allowed to see the light of day. Some of them Doyle had guessed, though he'd never been told. And he'd long ago decided he'd like to help, if he ever got the chance, and Bodie opened up long enough to tell him about them. Christ, he bothered Bodie enough with his own problems... like today for example... and, difficult as today had been, Bodie had taken it all without complaint, and never batted so much as an elegant eyelash...
He remembered how comforting and undemanding Bodie had been earlier on tonight as well, and suddenly found himself trying to picture Ann in the same kind of situation. Tried to imagine how she'd behave if he'd come to her with that level of need about something else...
Loving her as he did, or longing for her still, he doubted she'd have been either willing or capable of giving the kind of comfort he'd received from Bodie tonight. There was an air of... aloofness about Ann. It hurt him to think critically of her, and he'd even found the aloofness attractive and fascinating... something of a challenge. Well, there was no way she was like the usual kind of girl he went out with for a start... but he was beginning to wonder just how well suited they would have been as time went on. Oh yeah, there had been some problems all right, and they'd only have got worse...
He shrugged the thoughts to the back of his mind, feeling guilty for even having thought them, comforting himself with the excuse that this kind of situation was simply something only another man could truly understand, in the same way women seemed so good at comforting each other in times of need.
He hadn't thought deeply about Ann for a while, but having finally done so, the implications of losing her swept over him, and he felt the depression taking over...
"Come on, Doyle, move will you, and let a man get some sleep," Bodie was saying in mock irritation, interrupting his thoughts, dumping his bundle of blankets on the end of the sofa.
Retreating into his shell, Doyle thought... taken as much as he can for one night. Yeah, it was understandable... it was pretty heavy...
He didn't want to think about that either, and got up restlessly pacing the room, finally settling in an armchair, hooking one leg over the arm, watching Bodie make up the sofa into a semblance of a bed.
"Want anything to eat?" he asked, remembering neither of them had had anything since lunchtime, eager to use any excuse to delay going through to that lonely bedroom, for a little while anyway. He knew as soon as he did the real depression would set in.
"Nope." Bodie wasn't looking at him, busy with a pillow, putting a clean pillow case on it expertly. It seemed strange, almost amusing to see Bodie being so domesticated... incongruous somehow. He was so capable at things like this...
But Bodie was curiously distanced from him at the moment, and Doyle didn't like it. He needed to feel close to Bodie tonight.
"Too late... never sleep if I eat something now," Bodie was saying, "why, you hungry?" as if he would rather say anything rather than have silence between them.
He straightened up and looked at Doyle properly for the first time in about five minutes.
"No, not me," Doyle said, "thought you might though, with that appetite of yours. There's some steak in the fridge."
"Steak?" Bodie queried, in mock outrage, "what happened to that semi-vegetarian kick you were on?"
"For Ann," Doyle reminded him quietly.
"Oh yeah," Bodie said softly, nodding, looking away from him again. "No thanks. Don't want anything." He flopped down on the sofa, still ill at ease, seemed to force himself to look over at Doyle again.
"You all right?"
Doyle nodded. "Fine." He paused, glanced at his watch. "Why the early night?"
"Told you... beauty sleep, my son," Bodie was with a cheeky smile, "gotta get myself in shape for Doreen tomorrow night," rubbing his hands together gleefully, "and it's been a heavy day," he added more seriously, "Cowley wants us in at nine in the morning." He studied Doyle for a moment or two, added, "Why? You feeling off again?"
Doyle unfolded himself from the armchair and stood up. He knew Bodie was asking for his sake, but it was unfair to burden him with more tonight. Possibly dangerous too. Bodie so obviously wanted and needed to be left alone. So he smiled and shrugged, and said, "What's left to say? Said it all, haven't we?"
"Yeah, well, shout if you need me," Bodie said, "I'll be here."
"Oh, I know you will," Doyle said softly, with a rueful smile.
"Sleep tight, sunshine. See you in the morning," Bodie called out as Doyle closed the bedroom door behind him.
But, as he'd expected, Doyle slept little. He lay awake for hours, running that final conversation with Ann over and over in his mind, going round in circles, trying to find a solution to it all. And he missed her warm body next to him so much. On the few occasions they'd spent the night together, they'd got into the habit of sleeping like spoons, with Ann in front and Doyle behind her. And he'd loved the feel of her hair and her smooth skin against his cheek... the rounded curve of her waist when he settled his arms round her...
He dozed off finally, into fitful, broken sleep, and was awoken a little after seven to the shrill, insistent ringing of the door buzzer.
He staggered out of bed and stumbled into the living room, passing the crumpled, ruffle-haired heap on the sofa which was irritatedly rearranging itself at the disturbance, and picked up the phone, hardly believing his ears as he heard Ann's near hysterical voice on the other end of the line.
"Ray... I'm sorry... I shouldn't have come here so early, but I've had a terrible night... can I see you?"
Doyle's mind was such a mass of jumbled emotions he hardly knew what was happening. He was floundering helplessly, somewhere between fear and hope, anger and excitement. He ran a hand through his hair, untangling it, and rubbed at his eyes, trying to force himself to think clearly, suddenly afraid of what seeing her again might do to him, not sure he was up to coping with her, whatever it was she wanted.
"Please Ray... please let me see you... don't send me away," she was pleading.
"Yeah, OK," he said irritably, "but just hang on a minute, will you? Give me time to think. I've only just woken up."
He looked across the darkened room at Bodie, who seemed to have fallen asleep again, guiltily remembering Bodie's words of last night... All she'd have to do is come through that door now and you'd be right back where you started...
Doyle knew he was probably behaving like a gullible fool, but there was no way he could turn her away. He loved the girl, for God's sake, didn't he? No matter how she'd hurt him, he loved her. The level of involvement was too deep for him to turn his back on her...
"Yeah, all right, come through..." he said eventually, "but only if you really think we have something to talk about."
"Thank you," her tearful voice said gratefully.
"Oh, by the way," he added, trying to stop his voice from shaking at the prospect of seeing her again, "make it quiet, will you? Bodie spent the night here and he's still asleep."
"That doesn't surprise me," she said caustically, before the line went dead and he thoughtfully clicked the door release, trying not to wonder what she might mean by that remark.
She looked terrible. She was wearing the same clothes she'd had on the previous day, her hair was disheveled, her eyes puffy with crying, and she looked as if she hadn't slept at all, but she still looked beautiful to Doyle, and his heart lurched painfully at the sight of her.
She stood in the doorway, fresh tears filling her eyes as she looked at him, then smiled at him shakily.
The silence stretched between them, neither of them wanting to be the first to speak for fear of saying the wrong thing.
"Sorry I'm not dressed," Doyle said finally, awkwardly, his own eyes misting with tears. But he was embarrassed too and selfconsciously tightened the belt of his dressing gown, "but it is a bit early in the day you know."
Christ, but she had such a knack of making him feel self conscious. He realised it had always been there. More often than not he'd felt like a scruffy schoolboy by her side. And the feeling was back now. Bodie had been right. He could never have relaxed completely with her -- or even been totally himself, for fear of offending her. Come to think of it, even in bed, he had felt... well, that he had to be... restrained with her. Couldn't really let go. She was very lady-like, was Ann, and it had been... difficult for him sometimes...
He flushed at that thought, turning to lead the way down the hall. He put his finger to his lips, indicating Bodie was still asleep, but when they walked into the room, Bodie was awake, and sitting up, looking terrible... bags under his eyes... hair standing on end, as if he hadn't slept much either, eyes piercing his accusingly. There was an expression of such weary despair in the blue-black depths. Doyle couldn't bear to look at him, and so looked back at Ann instead. He felt uncannily as if he'd just betrayed Bodie...
Bodie's level gaze moved from Doyle to Ann as if he couldn't bear to look at Doyle any longer either, appraising eyes taking her in from head to foot in one quick glance. It wasn't a very respectful glance and Ann flushed angrily.
"Morning," Bodie said smoothly, "come to see the results of your handiwork, have you? Or come to pick up the pieces and see if the goods are still in working order?"
He was at his most biting and cynical, all his dislike of Ann clearly evident.
"Shut up, Bodie, for Christ's sake," Doyle exploded, turning on him angrily, "we can all do without this. It's too early in the morning for a start."
"So sorry," Bodie said with exaggerated politeness, without looking at him, smiling sweetly at Ann instead. He reached for his clothes, which were folded neatly on the chair by the sofa. "If you'll excuse me, I'll remove my presence. That way I won't offend Miss Holly's sensibilities any longer."
"No, Bodie, stay where you are," Ann cut in harshly, "I want you to hear what I have to say."
"I'm flattered," Bodie said, unperturbed, still with that same tone of aggravating sweetness, "but I can't see how it can possibly concern me."
"Everything about Ray concerns you," she retorted challengingly, "doesn't it?"
"And what precisely do you mean by that little remark?" Bodie asked icily.
"Christ, will you stop this?" Doyle said vehemently, "I'm sick to death of being torn apart by other people. Whether by you two or by Cowley. Just leave it, will you?"
There was an awkward silence.
"Sorry sunshine," Bodie said very softly. He picked up his clothes, squeezed Doyle's shoulder in passing, and left the room wrapped in a blanket as he'd intended, closing the bathroom door quietly behind him, Ann's eyes following him till he disappeared from sight.
When he was gone she moved to the armchair and sat down heavily, rummaging in her bag for a handkerchief, dabbing at her eyes.
"I suppose I should be glad I found him sleeping on the soft instead of..." she began bitterly, before biting of what she had been going to say.
Doyle flushed and looked away, frowning, well aware of what she'd meant to say, but bewildered she should have been of the point of stating it so openly. Was it really possible that other people, Ann included, saw something there between Bodie and himself even they themselves wouldn't admit to, and certainly weren't consciously revealing...
It wasn't a topic he felt capable of discussing with her, so he moved onto, what for him, was slightly safer ground, and said, "Christ, I can't believe I didn't see how much you two dislike each other."
"Oh, Ray, you're so naive," she said, exasperated with him, "why shouldn't we dislike each other? We're rivals, aren't we?"
There it was again... the straight implication that he and Bodie were very obviously more than good mates. He was half afraid this was all becoming too much for him.
But she had seen his bemused, troubled expression, mistaking it for innocent confusion, and was saying, "Oh, I'm sorry, Ray... if you don't know it's not my business to tell you, but... don't you realise that was the main cause of the trouble between us? Bodie pulling you one way, me pulling you another?"
"And Bodie won, is that what you're saying?" he asked, trying desperately to remain calm for her sake. He couldn't treat Ann badly, he couldn't. He'd never been able to lose his temper with her, not even when she'd left him. And just looking at her now, seeing her so vulnerable and upset, melted him inside. But the ambivalence of his feelings for her troubled him too. He was no longer sure what he felt for her... and it hurt so much to have to admit to it. Fascination certainly. But he was beginning to wonder if it had ever been more than a crazy infatuation... for either of them. It had all happened so quickly. He'd never fallen for a girl quite so recklessly before... and if he was honest with himself, he had to admit he was getting a little old for it. It was the kind of thing teenagers did...
"Yes, Bodie won if you like," she was saying defeatedly, starting to cry, "however you want to term it. Your 'loyalty' won. Your loyalty to Bodie or your Mr. Cowley... or CI5... you put them before anyone and everything else. Before your own happiness even."
Seeing her with new eyes this morning, Doyle was coming to realise just how jealous she was of that 'loyalty.' Jealous of his relationship with Bodie too. She was in fact very possessive... and unable to accept she might have to take second place...
But he could understand and sympathise too. It couldn't have been an easy thing to a strongminded, beautiful woman to have to accept, and he supposed most of the CI5 wives he knew -- the happy ones at least -- were made of very different stuff. Content to take the second place?
Maybe. More compassionate certainly...
He knelt on the floor in front of her, took her hand in both his own. "Yeah, Ann, I do put CI5 first," he said softly, "you knew that.
I'm not going to try and deny it."
"No, Ray, let's get this right," she protested, "Bodie... you put Bodie first."
So, Doyle thought, this was about Bodie... not CI5 at all. She kept coming back to Bodie every time, as if she were obsessed with him.
But all right... if that's how she wanted it... she could have the truth. Yes, Bodie did come first. Bodie was special to him in a way no one else, not even her, ever would or could be...
"Yes, all right," he said unprotestingly, "Bodie comes first.
But you're talking as if you don't think I love you, and I do. And I can't believe you trusted me so little. Can't believe you walked off and left me so easily."
"Well, maybe you should start trying to look at it from my point of view," she countered bitterly. "I don't like being spied on, Ray.
And you dare to talk to me about trust?"
"Oh come on," he said wearily, "we've been through this before.
It was routine procedure."
"But you still did it, " she said viciously. "I can't believe you actually did that to me, Ray."
"Yeah," Doyle said, nodding, "I did it, Ann, and I'd do it again, if necessary." He put a hand under her chin, lifting her face, eyes holding hers, "I've told you. I do put CI5 first. I couldn't work for them and not do that. It's a very special kind of job. That's the way it'll always be. And that's what you'll never be able to accept, isn't it?"
He brushed a hand over her hair, wanting to be gentle, despite the harshness of his words. "Stalemate, Ann. There's no way round it, no matter what we might feel for each other."
"You don't feel anything for me, and you never have," she said contemptuously, lashing out at him, pushing his hand away.
They had been talking quietly, almost in whispers, but now she raised her voice. "If you did feel anything for me, none of these things would enter your head. You'd sacrifice them all without a second thought if I meant enough to you."
"Ah, so that's it," Doyle said sadly, a rueful expression on his face. "I was supposed to offer to sacrifice everything to prove I loved you enough. You or CI5. A straight choice. So why did you come back here this morning, and put us both through this when you knew I'd already made that choice?"
"Because I didn't know you had," she said, almost hysterical now, sobbing helplessly, "I wasn't sure yesterday, and I was prepared to do anything to get you back. I love you, Ray. Don't you understand that?"
She raised tearful, pleading eyes to him.
It suddenly seemed a strange word for her to use... Doyle now knew whatever it was she did feel for him, it certainly wasn't love, and recognising that fact hurt him almost as much as it had to lose her yesterday...
He remembered how Bodie had reacted when he'd first admitted to him Ann was special... the contrast between them very clear in his mind.
Bodie had tried to like Ann... for his sake... and when he found he couldn't, he'd hidden it... and very well too... so well, Doyle had only known for sure last night. Bodie had known he'd loved Ann for all the wrong reasons, but had still never said a word against her. He had wanted him to be happy... and hidden his own unhappiness throughout the whole, sorry business...
Remembering all of those things, he looked up at her, said sadly, "No, you don't love me, Ann, not for what I am at least. You've never accepted me as I am, that's part of the trouble. You love me for what you want me to be, and that's quite different."
She took several deep breaths, trying to keep control, knowing she'd finally lost him, that knowledge making her want to be purposely cruel. "And Bodie, of course, does accept you for what you are, I suppose?" she demanded contemptuously, the implication behind her words very clear again.
But Doyle now longer felt worried or antagonised by what she was suggesting. "Oh yeah," he answered simply, his voice very firm, smiling a little at her, "yeah, Bodie accepts me as I am all right."
She laughed harshly. "God, the irony of it..."
"You're very jealous of him, aren't you?" Doyle cut in softly.
"Of course I am," she said, just as contemptuously, "what else would you expect me to be? God, I almost feel sorry for him. Don't you realise what a brave face he puts on things? All the joking and teasing... he was almost too cheerful... God knows what he must have been feeling inside, but..."
At that moment the bathroom door opened and Bodie emerged, washed and shaved, and looking neat as a new pin. To an outsider his face was completely unreadable, but it wasn't unreadable to Doyle, and seeing the way Bodie looked at the moment, he made a conscious decision that no matter what happened here with Ann this morning, something would have to be done about the crazy, ambivalent relationship he and Bodie shared.
"Sorry," Bodie said hoarsely, taking them both in in one quick glance, "just get my jacket and then I'll be off." He picked it up from the sofa where he'd left it the night before. "Don't forget Cowley at 9, Ray," he said over his shoulder, making his way to the door.
"No, it's all right, Bodie," Ann said uncertainly, with a quick look at Doyle, "I'm just going. No need for you to leave." She got up unsteadily, pulling her jacket round her.
Bodie was waiting awkwardly by the door. "No, it's OK," he said coldly, but with precise politeness, "gotta go back to my own place anyway. Need a change of clothes. Stay and talk. Get yourselves sorted out."
"No," Ann said firmly. She swallowed hard and wiped at her eyes. "I think Ray and I have said all we need to say to each other."
Doyle looked at her, then at Bodie, then back to her again, grateful to her for finally making this so relatively easy.
"Yeah," he said sadly, trying to smile, "there isn't anything left, is there?" lifting his hands helplessly towards her.
She shook her head, crying openly again, and made her way through the door without looking back.
Doyle stayed where he was in the middle of the room, not knowing what to do or say, his mind in a turmoil, incapable of sorting out his feelings. Not even sure how he felt about her having left him a second time, now knowing whether he was glad or regretful. Perhaps a mixture of both...
But at least there was an immense feeling of relief. It was finally settled now. He knew she'd not be back again. And he supposed that meant he could at least start to adjust to being without her...
One thing he was sure of though. No matter how much he might deny it he knew Bodie had heard at least some of their conversation.
That was why he'd come into the room when he had, before anything else could be said. And Doyle knew him too well, and could see it all in the uncharacteristic awkward nervousness Bodie was displaying.
He was still standing by the door, ready to take flight, and Doyle knew he'd only have the say the wrong word and Bodie would leave.
But dealing with Bodie was an entirely different matter to dealing with Ann. Things couldn't be decided so easily between them.
And what Ann had said about Bodie, cruel as it had been, had frightened Doyle. Not because he was being forced to accept Bodie might care for him so much... he already knew that, and had done for a while, but because he had absolutely no idea how to handle it.
Deep down inside he'd always known what Ann'd said was true, but accepting it was a different matter. And if he had to acknowledge Bodie cared for him in a special way, then he also had to accept he cared for Bodie in just the same way.
Until Ann he'd been able to put a wall up round those feelings, keeping them to an acceptable level, but not anymore. She'd unknowingly brought them all to the surface, and that was where they were going to remain.
He realised he'd been searching frantically for security with Ann, falsely reassuring himself by behaving 'normally'... falling in love... following accepted practice, comforting himself in the knowledge he could still become so emotionally involved with a woman. And being almost as unfair to her as he had been to Bodie in the process.
But even at the height of the affair, he hadn't been able to push Bodie to the back of his mind. He'd worried about him, felt guilty about him... missed him... intolerably. Even when he'd been with Ann he'd wanted Bodie too... till at times he'd felt it would tear him apart...
And Ann had been right. The irony of it lay in the fact it had taken the affair with her to make him realise the seriousness of the situation between Bodie and himself...
And now, Christ, he'd been such a blind, unseeing, selfish fool, he might have risked losing Bodie... God, if that happened, if Bodie turned his back on him, as he had every right to do...
He was so deep in thought he jumped nervously as he heard Bodie say, irritably, "Don't tell me she's changed your mind again. Christ, Ray, how much longer you gonna go on letting her treat you like this?"
"Oh no, it's over this time," Doyle said wearily, moving at last and sinking into the armchair, "really over this time. But you must know that anyway," he added gently, "you must have heard at least part of what she said."
"Come on, Ray," Bodie cut in quickly, immediately on the defensive, "me listen in to your private conversation? No way, sunshine."
It was what Doyle had expected. Bodie'd never admit he'd heard anything. That being the case he decided to go onto the offensive. "You comin' back inside, or are you gonna stand by that bloody door all morning?" he asked in mock irritation.
He'd at least expected Bodie to smile, and was chastened by the increasingly worried, unhappy expression on his face.
"Gotta go back to my place... get changed," Bodie mumbled, looking away from him. "If you're OK, that is."
"Yeah, Bodie, I'm fine," Doyle said as patiently as he could.
"Come on mate, it's only 7.30 in the morning. There's plenty of time for Cowley. Come back inside so we can talk about this."
"Isn't much to say," Bodie offered evasively. Doyle noticed how tightly his hand was gripping the door handle.
"Isn't there?" he asked gently, "come on, Bodie, don't try and tell me you weren't listening. It won't wash."
Bodie flushed. "I told you I wasn't listening," he said angrily.
"She wasn't whispering, you must have heard," Doyle retaliated, exasperated, knowing that if he let Bodie go now, he might never have another chance, incapable of bearing that thought, "you're not fooling anyone, least of all me. Christ mate, do I frighten you that much?"
There was silence for a moment. "Yeah, you do, if you want the truth," Bodie said at last.
"Oh Bodie," Doyle said despairingly, "come here, will you... please..."
"Not sure that's a very good idea," Bodie said hoarsely.
"Well, why don't you try it and see," Doyle suggested very gently, "we need to talk you know, and it's only a few feet. It'll be easy from then on if you can make it."
"Think so, do you, Ray?"
"Know so, sunshine," Doyle assured him, "don't leave me, Bodie, please... need you so much..."
Bodie shook his head. "Wouldn't do that anyway," he murmured brokenly, looking down at the floor.
As it turned out Doyle still had to go to him first, because Bodie remained rooted to the spot, seemingly incapable of moving, but he was proved right when he'd said it'd be OK from then on. So gloriously right that for the first time since they'd joined CI5, they were late for a meeting with Cowley... more than an hour late in fact. But that was understandable in the circumstances...
-- THE END --