by Kris Brown
Bodie reluctantly unlocked the front door and entered the too silent house. Even with carpet on the floors, pictures on the walls, furniture and mementos filling the rooms, the place seemed to echo. Never a frequent guest, he walked through the rooms, aimlessly, stopping to touch a coffee cup on the kitchen counter, to look at a class picture on the wall in the hallway, finally ending in the bedroom. Like the rest of the house, there were pictures and personal items on the walls and table. Bodie circled the room, touching each item, picking up a comb and returning it to the bureau, fingering a jumper on the easy chair beside the bed, unnecessarily straightening the bedclothes.
Eventually everything would have to be looked at and disposed of in some way but it was too soon for that. There was no rush. For now the mostly unfamiliar things that filled the house provided some comfort. Bodie grinned to himself. The thought was contrary, he wasn't in need of comfort. Death was something Bodie had learned to accept years ago. It was neither frightening nor welcome, just inevitable. And this death had not been the quick, unexpected shock to which many of the men he'd worked with and called friends had succumbed.
Still, there was a sense of loss that was filled by the presence of the possessions surrounding him.
"Bodie?" A familiar voice called quietly from the doorway. "Sorry, mate. I wanted to be here three days ago."
"Ah, Doyle," Bodie folded the slender man in his arms. "Cowley'd've done his nut if you cut short a job."
"I was thinking of you, not him. He's not likely to make me redundant, now." The two men held each other for only a moment before separating. "Speaking of that, are we?"
Bodie's puzzled expression was all that was necessary.
"Have we been made redundant yet?" Doyle clarified.
"No. Be a few weeks before the politicos stop fighting over what to do with CI5. George had the office staff collect all his papers and files and deliver them to 'friends'. Guess that's where they'll stay unless CI5 gets a controller Cowley'd approve of."
"Still running things, is he? Shouldn't surprise anyone."
Bodie smiled again. "Still running our lives, at least. His lawyer called. We have an appointment with him at 3pm."
"We? I just got back from Scotland 20 minutes ago."
"I told him you might not be there. He wanted to get--whatever--done today. Not like we're too busy." Bodie had started wandering around the room again, without conscious volition his hand touching things.
"Aw, Bodie," Doyle knew there was no 'right' thing to say. It hurt to see Bodie so sad, so lost. "Let's go to Cowley's local and have a single malt for him."
"Don't think his local will let us in," Bodie mumbled, looking down at his less than immaculate outfit. "Worth a try." He turned and found another smile for Doyle. On his way from the bedroom he grabbed a handful of coins from the corner of the bureau.
For the second time that day the front door to Cowley's house was opened. Bodie and Doyle entered silently. The house seemed less empty in the dark and yet still they could feel the absence. of it's owner. Former owner. Bodie went to the sitting room and turned on a lamp. Doyle set the lock and joined his partner who was now sitting on the large, comfortable sofa which dominated the room.
"He knew," Doyle finally whispered.
"I always thought he did," Bodie's voice was also quiet.
"Well, yeah, but knowing and...and approving...two different things, isn't it?" Doyle jumped up and started to pace around the room. "Why d'you think he never said anything?"
"Why didn't we?" Bodie returned. "Pour us a drink, mate?"
Doyle was halfway to the drinks cabinet before he remembered where he was and stopped.
"Making pretty free with Father's scotch, aren't you?"
"Our scotch," Bodie snapped, irritated by the question and Doyle's unspoken condemnation. "Don't try to dictate how I should mourn, Doyle." He strode to the cabinet, poured two drinks and returned to the sofa, leaving Doyle's glass on the cabinet. "He couldn't acknowledge us while we worked for CI5."
"We still work for CI5," Doyle said.
"Do we?" Bodie met Doyle's eyes.
"No, I guess we don't." Doyle had his scotch and sat beside Bodie. "Can't imagine anyone else letting us just get on with the job."
"Even Cowley couldn't keep Parliament from adding on more and more restrictions every year."
"So what'll we do?" Doyle sounded as if the answer were not very important.
"Give notice, if they don't just throw us out on Monday. Then take a holiday and think about it. George's given us a place to live and the money enough to take our time and decide. Funeral's tomorrow. We should make an early night."
"Pick up some chicken and chips on the way back to your place?" Doyle suggested.
"I have a better idea. Let's get some place to deliver and spend the first night in our house."
Doyle had begun to pace around the room again, ending at the window overlooking the side garden. Bodie came up behind him and put his arm lightly around Doyle's shoulder and chest,
"Doyle. Come on, mate. Stop being so..." Bodie hesitated, uncertain of the word to use.
"So what, Bodie?" Doyle pulled away from Bodie and poured himself a shot which he immediately gulped. "This isn't as easy for me as--"
"Don't say it, Doyle," Bodie warned, his own anger beginning to show. "Bad enough having Murph and Ballard and Jax waiting for me to crack. Or Richardson and the new kids wondering why I don't care. Thought you'd've known better. Always did give you more credit that I should." Bodie put down his empty glass and headed for the door. "I'm not hungry, and your place is closer," he mentioned as he walked past his partner.
"Bodie, wait. Please."
Bodie stopped, waiting for the inevitable apology, followed by the two of them doing just what Doyle had wanted in the first place. It was a habit Bodie had allowed to develop, so he couldn't blame Doyle totally, but it hurt a little more each time it happened. He hoped this wasn't the final hurt that broke his control. Since Cowley had died Bodie had been unwilling to let go. Any grief or anger would not be for Cowley's death or Bodie's loss but for the myriad other stresses and problems in his life. So he determined to mourn in his own way and not put on the emotional display that would have comforted everyone else. He never thought Doyle would be taken in by the calm exterior.
"I'm waiting, Ray. You coming?"
Ray was standing only inches behind Bodie when he spoke. "I say stupid things when I'm upset."
"Only then," Bodie said evenly.
"Yeah. Let's go."
"Bodie," Doyle put a hand on Bodie's shoulder, stroking down the arm "you're right. Let's stay."
Bodie faced Doyle, trying to read everything he needed to know from his lover's face. The silence threatened to take over.
"We'll make Murph help us move our stuff tomorrow," Doyle suggested. The offer released Bodie's scrutiny.
"Murphy threatened to pull a muscle before he'd move all your stuff again." Bodie reminded, a smile beginning to form.
"So he can do your flat and you'n I'll do mine."
"Not if I sprain something tonight," Bodie muttered pleasantly.
Doyle grinned at the normalcy of the complaint. "Saw a Chinese take-away on the comer. Think you can manage to make some tea while I get dinner?" Doyle didn't wait for the reply which would undoubtedly be a profanity.
On the walk to the comer and back Doyle had time to think about what he wanted to do with the rest of his life. Besides spending it with Bodie. Since Doyle had joined CI5, planning for the future had not been a high priority activity. Bodie had probably not looked any further than the next day since he was fourteen. Now they both had to learn fast.
Bodie watched in amusement as Doyle yawned for the third time in ten minutes. He'd tried to pack Doyle off to bed right after dinner but his overworked partner would have none of that. Bodie had wanted to watch the football match between Manchester United and Crystal Palace before bed and Doyle had announced that he would provide company. Halfway through the game the outcome was certain, unless the Manchester team dropped dead.
"Doyle, game's over, time for bed."
"Couldn't be," Doyle protested, not having paid attention to the telly.
"It is for me. And I'm tired and I'm going to bed."
Bodie stood and brought their coffee mugs into the kitchen. He heard Doyle head upstairs and the shower started running. After checking the locks, Bodie went into the bedroom, quickly stripped off his clothes and stepped into the. master bathroom. It was large and utilitarian, except for the overabundance of bath towels which hung neatly on the towel rack. He couldn't help but wonder if Cowley had company at his home more often than anyone had suspected. Lifting aside the shower curtain, he joined Doyle under the warm water.
"Don't know how big the water heater is, thought we'd better share until I check."
"If that's your excuse, hope you won't check until next year," Doyle said.
"At the earliest," Bodie agreed. He took the soap out of Doyle's hand and lathered up a wash rag. Gently pushing Doyle out of the direct spray of water, he massaged the soap over Doyle's wet, slippery skin. Doyle's eyes dropped closed, his head tilted back to rest against the shower wall. Bodie continued the wash-up, soaping chest, abdomen, arms and legs, then turning Doyle to face the wall and rubbing the rag over his back and buttocks. After a very quick scrub of his own body, Bodie moved the still unprotesting Doyle under the water and rinsed him, using his hands to sluice the soapy water off warm, wet skin.
"You're very quiet," Bodie observed. It wasn't often that Doyle was in such a contemplative, submissive mood, it was a chance for Bodie to concentrate fully on his partner, undistracted by his own pleasure.
"Delayed reaction to the past week."
Bodie pulled Doyle towards him, out of the shower spray and took his lips in a soft, questioning kiss. Their bodies were pressed together from lip to thigh. Bodie's question was answered by movement at his groin. The kiss became more insistent, coaxing Doyle to join with Bodie's escalating excitement. Their location remained in the back of both minds. The two of them, making love in Cowley's shower, felt illicit even to Bodie. Only slightly less than doing it in Cowley's bed, which was what had prompted Bodie to join Doyle here. Stupid or not, tomorrow morning he would bring over one of their beds, or just order a new one.
For now, he suppressed all thoughts except those of his lover who was beginning to take a very active interest in their actions. A wet hand had coaxed his erection hard, then he was turned to face the wall and soapy-fingers explored between his legs, fingering his balls before moving back and up to add more slick soap to what had already been left.
"Bodie?" Doyle kissed Bodie's ear, pressing his own erection against the crevice before him.
"Now!" Bodie growled.
Doyle pulled back just enough to position himself and steadily pushed forward, entering Bodie in one long slow thrust. Bodie groaned at the expected invasion. He braced his hands on the wall, feet against either side of the tub and moved his hips. His feeling of fullness changed to sparks of pleasure as Doyle began to move. Tempo increased as Doyle set an irregular rhythm that taunted but withheld completion.
"Ray. I need--" a hand around his cock met his need before it was expressed. The thrusts became regular and hard, in synch with the hand that pumped him.
The inarticulate noises Doyle could not suppress pushed Bodie to his own peak. Doyle collapsed on his back but the hand at his cock kept it's grip until he was spent and softening. When he felt Doyle no longer hard inside him, Bodie turned to take the exhausted man in his arms. He reached past to turn off the quickly cooling water. Doyle recovered enough to help dry himself They left the towel on the rack and went into the bedroom. Bodie turned down the blanket and stopped, just looking at the bed. Doyle, who had gone to turn off the lights, noticed his partner's stunned expression and joined him. There, underneath the old, staid comforter, had been hidden royal blue silk sheets.
"Cowley a hedonist, I don't believe it." Doyle finally pronounced.
Bodie ran a hand over the smooth, new silk. "These're new, Ray. I think it's a belated wedding present." He finished pulling down the covers and climbed in. "I think I like this bed," he decided. "Turn off the lights Ray and come to bed. I think we should show our appreciation, don't you?"
Ray smiled and turned off the lights.
-- THE END --