Hands thrust deep into the pockets of his parka, Bodie jogged up the short flight of stone steps, his breath rising in steady, steamy puffs before him. One barely warm, glove-covered hand emerged briefly to press the buzzer marked 'Doyle', then he turned idly to survey the street.
A thick frost lay everywhere, sparkling on rooftops, grass, pavements and windscreens, glinting coldly in the weak, morning sun just struggling to make an appearance from behind a distant block of flats. Not a scene to be admired, especially not after the last two days of acute discomfort. Only when you were without, did you come to realise just how much you depended on such a basic necessity as electricity.
Bodie shrugged deeper into his warm, quilted jacket and turned to try Doyle's buzzer again.
C'mon, Doyle, he thought crossly. Where the hell are you? Keeping a bloke shivering on your doorstep when you're nice and cozy in your gas-fired, centrally heated flat.
That was one of the reasons for Bodie dragging himself out of his lukewarm bed in the early hours of Saturday morning - the lure of Doyle's warm flat and the thought of an enervating game of squash at the sports club followed by a piping hot shower.
Chin buried in the top of his jacket, Bodie blew small, impatient breaths of steam into the icy atmosphere and cursed the striking electricity engineers, hoping they too were suffering. Probably all had the foresight to get themselves converted to gas, he thought morosely and was disgusted all over again with his four redundant storage heaters sitting in solid and useless splendour in his flat.
Feet growing numb, Bodie tried the buzzer again. Surely Doyle couldn't be out already? He checked his watch. Only a quarter to eight. No shops open yet. Therefore the lazy sod had to be still in bed. Nice, warm, cozy bed.
It didn't occur to Bodie that on any normal Saturday when they weren't working, it'd be him stubbornly still abed while Doyle tried to get him out of it.
Finally losing patience, Bodie heaved one hand under his parka and fumbled in his cords, wincing as the large bunch of keys stuck themselves in a rigid, knobbly knot and refused to leave his pocket. In no mood to mess around any longer, he tugged, heard some stitching go and jangled them free.
Fitting a shiny Yale key in the door, he let himself into the communal hallway, spurned the lift and took the stairs at a run, sorting out the second key as he went.
Doyle's front door was opened and shut equally quickly and he stood inside listening.
Silence. Must be still asleep - lazy bugger.
As Bodie made his way to the bedroom, he suddenly realised how low the temperature was here, too. Surely Doyle's heating system couldn't be up the spout as well. Then it dawned on him that Doyle must have let his boiler go out. An amused grin curved his downturned mouth in a different direction.
He passed through the living room, thinking how abnormally quiet the place was. Doyle always had music going, often even when he wasn't there - more than once Bodie had seen him put a tape or record on and immediately go out shopping. He spared the large, streamlined - and presently useless - stereo a smug glance, thinking fondly of his ancient, portable and, more important, battery powered radio.
The bedroom door opened noiselessly under his hand.
Nothing but a tumbled mound of duvet on the bed. Bodie sighed into the cold air, more disappointed than he'd expected to be. Ray had obviously had the sense to wangle himself into a friendlier bed for the weekend.
Feeling decidedly chilly all over, Bodie turned to close the door again and begin a depressed retreat back to the feeble warmth of the car. As he took a last look at the room, his eyes alighted on something that had been thrown carelessly over the back of a chair. Doyle's sheepskin. He halted. Doyle hadn't stirred anywhere without that over the last couple of days. Therefore...
He stalked quietly back towards the bed, studied the shape of the heaped-up quilt and stealthily lifted a corner, peering underneath.
Sure enough, there was a mass of tumbled curls deep down in the bed and nothing else to be seen as Doyle lay curled in on himself like a sleeping dormouse protecting itself against the rigours of winter.
"Ray?" he said tentatively into the feathery darkness.
There was no reaction for a moment, then Doyle stirred sleepily and began to straighten, a tiny whimper leaving him as his toes made contact with a cold expanse of sheet. He didn't wake, just stretched and rolled dopily onto his back, head finally emerging onto the pillow with an incoherent mumble, eyes still closed.
The draught of cold air obviously made itself felt, because a long-fingered hand crept from beneath the folds, tugged the duvet out of Bodie's fingers and back round himself and giving another rumble, Doyle went back to sleep.
Bodie looked away from the relaxed and sleeping face, averting his eyes from the faint flush covering Doyle's round cheeks. But the familiar ache lingered around his heart.
Bloody typical, he moaned silently to Doyle's feet. Looked like Ray had completely forgotten about the game they'd arranged last night. He spared the gently smiling, slightly pink features another glance.
"Are you getting up, Ray?" he asked. "Or not? Eh?"
No response, except for a deeper snuggle. "Ah, come on, mate."
The messages from Bodie's feet were getting fainter as the cold-induced numbness spread up his calves. He sank down onto the edge of the large bed and shook what he took to be Doyle's shoulder.
"Ray...wake up. 'S freezin' out 'ere."
Quite what he expected Doyle to do about it, he didn't know, but he wasn't having Ray cuddled up in a warm bed while he froze on the floor beside him.
Doyle drew a slow and very deep breath and without opening his eyes, withdrew a lean arm from his cocoon. His hand found Bodie's wrist still holding his shoulder and travelled slowly up a quilted arm.
His movement released a warm cloud of air from beneath the duvet, bringing with it the concentrated, natural, musky-animal scent of a sleepy Doyle. It was a very pleasant, clean smell, reminding Bodie of quiet, secretly treasured times spent close to his partner: studying files, heads down over a desk; resting quietly between call-outs; or the exhausted, sweaty proximity in the gym - a time when they were close in mutual support, sharing a desperately tiring bout with Macklin and Towser.
Bodie inhaled the scent in a shaky breath, eyes moving from the unconsciously inviting face to caressing hand and back again, wondering painfully what Doyle could be dreaming about. He could barely feel the weight of the long fingers through the padding of his coat and wished fervently that he was wearing less. Doyle touched him like this so rarely and now he was it was just his luck to be clad in his thickest clothes.
Ray had to be still half asleep and dreaming. There was a contented little smile playing over his lips.
"Yeah?" he said softly, reluctant to awaken him too much, break this unfamiliar, gentle mood. Funny: he'd always expected that Doyle would be decidedly ratlike first thing in the morning - he certainly was when he turned up in Cowley's office at 9 am. What happened between then and now to dispel all this sleepy sweet temper on awakening?
Doyle grinned at him, a drowsy, crooked little curve of his lips. "Woke me up," he said unnecessarily, and yawned, baring his tonsils, with supreme unselfconsciousness. "What you want then, Trouble?" he got out before his mouth closed again.
He rolled onto his side and looked up through half-open eyes. His hand slid down Bodie's arm but did not leave it.
Bodie watched those slim fingers close on his wrist. "Come to see if you wanted a game of squash."
Doyle gave a little shudder, snuggling deeper. Toes appeared from beneath the bottom of the duvet, wriggling: and were hastily snatched back under. "Too cold."
"You can say that again," said Bodie bitterly. Doyle still had a soft, dreamy look about him; not quite awake yet. Bodie, who had been up and suffering for hours, was extremely envious. "Thought it might warm me up a bit," he said pointedly.
"You cold then?" Another yawn. One eye opened.
"Yeah, course I am - there's bloody power cuts everywhere. Even Hell's frozen over this morning."
The corner of Doyle's mouth lifted, showing his chipped tooth. "Nice 'n warm in 'ere."
"Oh yeah, good for you mate, I'm really glad about that," said Bodie, but the sarcasm drifted away on the air and vanished as surely as the ephemeral white stream of his exhaled breath as Doyle said drowsily: "Come in 'ere with me, then," and the hand on Bodie's wrist tugged at him as he wriggled over to make space for him.
"Doyle - " began Bodie, startled and irresolute; but the curled form didn't move again.
How many wistful hours have you wasted willing something like this to happen - ?
Life's short, Bodie...
His silly heart was pounding away as if something momentous had happened; he admonished it silently as he fumbled with his outer layers, fingers awkward and stiff with cold.
No time for long deliberation; once he was down to his shirt it became imperative that he seek refuge under the covers, or die unheroically of exposure.
About to scramble in under the temptation of the duvet - it lay over Doyle like a fluffy, plumped-up cloud, promising warmth and comfort - he looked down at his thick cords, hesitated, then recklessly removed those too. Then he lifted the cover and eased himself in next to Doyle.
The shock of the sudden close heat on his chilled skin was intense. The warm body that was Doyle came unhesitatingly into his arms, wriggling and pushing until he was huddled close to Bodie's chest, an orphan sheltering from the storm in the lee of a craggy cliff; then he was still.
Bodie had nearly passed out.
His arms had instinctively gone round Doyle when the smaller man crooked an arm round his neck and pulled his close; and it was then Bodie discovered that Doyle was not, as he had supposed, wearing pyjamas.
Bare, hot limbs were all over him, twining generously with his chilled flesh with a touching lack of reluctance; and Bodie was still in a state of shock.
Doyle's warm breath touched his face as he murmured sleepily, "Are cold, aren't you - soon warm you up - go back t'sleep now - " And so Bodie lay there, heart racing, with Doyle snuggled up against him, soaking up the lovely, heady warmth of him, timing his own breathing to the gentle rise and fall of the soft-haired chest pressed against his.
Warmth and well-being began to steal through him insidiously, freeing and soothing the numbed stiffness of his icy feet. He scarcely dared touch him at first lest he should waken him with the shock of cold hands on the overheated skin; but as Doyle sighed in his sleep and nestled closer still, he became daring and put one hand lightly over Doyle's waist, the other closing tentatively around the skinny arm tucked up between them, holding him very carefully as if this so-rare trusting closeness might fracture at any moment and be lost to him forever more.
This, just this, was what he had been wanting, needing; this alone of all the world had to offer.
Make the most of it, he told himself with almost savage self-derision; it's little enough to ask, isn't it? Just a quiet, drowsy cuddle on Doyle's innocent invitation; nothing to sound trumpets over. Won't get the chance again, perhaps not ever... Treasure every moment of it, Bodie, old son, it's all you're ever likely to have...
Too overwhelmed by the strangeness of it all for anything but the most inchoate desire for closeness, Bodie shut his eyes. He had no intention of wasting the time in sleeping; no, better to lie here, fully conscious of what he was doing, what he had been granted.
Wasn't all that screwy, was it; not so very queer, to wonder what it would be like making it with another bloke, especially one as vibrant and as sexual as this one was - he could be forgiven that, surely -
But to get so much pleasure out of simply lying here close to him, holding him while he slept, loving the soft-hard feel of him and the smell of him drowsing and heavy with sleep... yes, some might say that was screwy all right...
Warm, fresh-scented curls seemed to be everywhere, tickling his face. Bodie buried his nose in them, drew in a deep lungful of the fragrance, desperately filling himself with the memory. He squinted down at the flushed, round face, its cool craft lost in sleep; and all his careful resolution fled him at a stroke.
Gently, he pushed aside Doyle's warm curls, and put his lips to the smooth skin of his temple, shutting his eyes as he savoured the sweet, forbidden pleasure; and because given the vagaries of sleep it would not seem strange, he let his parted mouth stay there, close to Doyle's faintly damp skin, and his mind ran on wild, sweet things.
Not gonna go to sleep - not miss a moment of this - so warm, so close to him - even his lovers don't get closer to him than this - and he trusts me more than any of them - never last, they don't, but I'm still here love him I love you, Ray Doyle
Fight tigers for you, I would. Tigers...or brave swirling rapids
Bodie tumbled suddenly and unexpectedly into swirling rapids and began swimming flat out, searching for something unglimpsed, desperately yearned for -
Doyle started awake, realised firstly that he was not alone, secondly that whoever-it-was was lying on his arm, and thirdly, when he poked his nose cautiously over the edge of the duvet, that it was bloody cold. Freezing. The raw air seared into the tender membrane of his nostrils and he hurriedly disappeared back into the warm, dark fug beneath the duvet.
His free hand explored the form next to him, encountered a solid, cotton-covered shoulder just as he remembered who his companion of the morning was.
An unseen, delighted smile passed briefly over his face.
Yeah, now he remembered. His partner had turned up, much too early, woken him out of a deep sleep, pleasant dream - not time to get up yet - tried to make him leave his nice, warm solitary world for the chilly outside - and then his own drowsy counter-suggestion that Bodie, instead, should join him in this isolated bubble of luxurious comfort - apparently Bodie had taken him up on the idea.
Good. Nice to wake up next to Bodie, because he liked Bodie, a good deal more than he ever got around to liking most people, and he knew instinctively that Bodie would be okay to have around in the mornings in the dopey, half-aware period before one was properly equipped to meet the world, that Bodie wouldn't be going to do anything irritating like complain about his stubbly chin, or giggle roguishly, or tickle him with coy suggestion when he wasn't in the mood, despite appearances.
He sniffed, because the cold air he had inhaled was making his nose run, and pounced.
Bodie didn't wake up at once, stirring restlessly and mumbling something.
"Ssh," murmured Doyle, "'s only me." He wriggled around a bit more. Bodie's feet seemed nowhere to be found.
"Christ, Doyle," came a sleep-thickened grumble, "don' do that."
Doyle smiled; in exuberant form. "Not doin' anything. You wait till I really get started, mate; then you'll know it."
Bodie's eyes came open then, deep, sleepy blue. Beautiful, thought Doyle, staring into them with fascination. Most beautiful eyes I've ever seen -
Moved by an impulse he didn't understand, didn't question, he leant over and kissed Bodie, on the mouth.
"What you do that for," said Bodie at last. He looked up.
"Oh, I'm very lovin' in the mornin'," Doyle told him, with a little smile, finishing abstractedly - "you've got socks on."
Still wondering if he had dreamt those warm lips which had seemed to touch his, Bodie took a moment to react. Doyle used the time to sit up, disregarding the icy blast of air that swooped in as the duvet lifted, and knelt by Bodie's knees.
"Better get 'em off, sunshine," he admonished, "'s very bad to wear socks in bed."
And before Bodie had the chance to prevent it, he had ripped off both white towelling socks and tossed the out of the bed.
Bodie was sensitive about his feet, and inclined to be uncomfortable when they were visible. "Don't, Ray," he mumbled; but mere exposure of the offending objects was nothing compared to what happened next.
Doyle took one cold, pale foot in each hand, stroked over the smooth, delicate skin with warm, firm thumbs.
Bodie jerked away. "Stop it."
"Okay, okay," Doyle grumbled lightly, raising his hands in a gesture of surrender, then threw himself down flat again. "Just tryin' to warm up your extremities - yeow - "
Bodie, engaged in firmly tucking the duvet back over them - it was so cold in the bedroom that ice had frozen in crazy patterns over the inside of the windows - had grimly trapped Doyle's warm calf between his soles.
"That'll teach you."
"I don't mind," Doyle told him, unexpectedly amenable; he laid his head on Bodie's shoulder, looking up at the side of his face. He laid one hand on Bodie's chest, plucked at the shirt. "'S true, though. Better to wear nothing at all on a cold night. Clothes just restrict the circulation."
"You," said Bodie, tweaking a curl, "make it all up as you go along."
"Nah, all based on careful research."
Bodie disdained to reply to that. He lay there, trying to hold onto the warmth and closeness just a little longer because surely Doyle must be going to move in a moment; not that he wanted him to: Doyle could lie against him like this, breathing quietly into Bodie's neck, hand lightly pressed to his chest, all day if he wanted to... His wicked companion had gone, however, suspiciously quiet. Bodie soon found out why.
"Bloody hell, Ray!" he snarled, removing a skinny hand from where it was snaking around the top of his underpants. "You lookin' for a black eye?"
Doyle only gave a little, throaty chuckle and threw his thigh across Bodie's, trapping him; the crisp hair at his groin grazed Bodie's hip. "Don't need these on, do you?"
"Doyle," said Bodie, genuinely distressed as Doyle's hand gently probed him, "Don't - " But he couldn't move, and, worse, didn't want to; some perverse part of him wanting Doyle to seek him out, discover his excitement -
Doyle soothed him with gentle, indeterminate noises, and continued the careful journey of his exploring hand, following an urge that was too strong and too sweet to be questioned.
"Ray, please," said Bodie, softly, "please don't."
With a sudden movement Doyle twitched the thick, light duvet over their heads, enclosing them both in warm, secret darkness.
Bodie shut his eyes.
He knew he shouldn't let this happen, but Doyle's hand had found his tumescent hardness, fingers folding around it, and it felt so good, so sweet -
"Ray - "
"Ah, Bodie, ssh...let me just - "
And even through the rising heat engendered by Doyle's subtle hand, Bodie, astounded, heard the throaty catch in Doyle's own voice and knew without a doubt that whatever it was it wasn't just a malicious put-on -
A warm, soft tongue passed like velvet over his nipple, shocking him; he felt Doyle's lips fasten there, the moist flicking tongue sending thrills of pleasure through him. Doyle's scratchy chin brushed over his chest. He reached out blindly, and Doyle was there, sliding into his hands with ease, the bare, hard heat of him intoxicating.
The scant protection offered by his briefs vanished as searching fingers slipped inside, eased down and bared him in his turn.
A slow, delicious rocking began; heat on burning heat. And as he came, panting out his soul and his need and his yearning, he told him he loved him, said it over and over, the words leaving him as easily as if he had planned them.
Dazed in the sudden bereftness of aftermath, he heard Doyle laugh.
He left the bed, abandoning all that warm, enclosed intimacy that had turned so sweetly into something so very much more, and strode to the kitchen, shrugging into a borrowed bathrobe and a bitterly hurt dignity that was all his own as he went.
When Doyle found him, he was kneeling by the silent boiler, striking a match.
"Bodie - ?"
"Trying to light the fuckin' boiler," he said savagely, between gritted teeth, fingers fumbling stupidly with the box of matches. "Very clever, letting it go out, mate; this place's like a bloody morgue."
Swearing, he dropped a lighted match. He lit another, thrust it through the opening. Nothing.
"What's the matter?" Doyle did not even try to pretend he was talking about the boiler; in fact, although his eyes had never left Bodie, he had not taken in what he was doing. He came a little closer. "Why'd you run off?"
Hearing the note of uncertainty, the puzzled hurt, Bodie's head came up. He stared at Doyle, who was naked and very nearly blue. "Why did you laugh?" he asked brutally, cross-questioning. "Funny, was it? Like a good laugh, don't you, sweetheart - well, I've had it of playing the fool for you to have a good snigger over - "
"Bodie," Doyle interrupted, kneeling abruptly down beside him; he propped an arm on Bodie's bent knee. "I laughed," he said, looking up with solemn eyes, "because I was happy."
"Because you were - ?" Bodie thought about it, the matches forgotten. "Oh." He dropped his head, stared into the grimy workings of the boiler. "Well, why didn't you - " His empty hand made a quick, sweeping gesture and stilled, defeated, confused.
"Hey..." Doyle grasped the aimless hand in gentle fingers, pressed it to his belly, making it stroke circles into the pearly moisture on his skin. "'S not all yours, y'know," he whispered very close, and grinned at Bodie, devilish and loving all at once.
Bodie stared at him, a smile threatening, as he concentrated on the faintly sticky, silky skin under his hand. "Happy..." he repeated in confirmation, hearing a quiet 'yeah' in his ear.
He felt a shiver run through Doyle, took it to be cold-induced and returned to his task.
Contentedly, Doyle surveyed the profile of Bodie's downbent head, then his gaze wandered on, over to what he held. A frown replaced the smile.
Bodie, unaware, struck yet another match.
"Bodie - "
"Yeah, just 'ang on a moment, sweetheart - " and this time the word an unselfconscious endearment that warmed Doyle's heart, "wait till I get this going and then we can - Trust you to let it go out - Need lookin' after good and proper, you do - " Screwing up his face he poked his head forward, peering inside the grimy flue.
"Yeah, well, I think there's something I ought to tell you - "
Bodie turned his head, smiled at him, a smile of such blinding sweetness that Doyle caught his breath - "Can tell me anything you like - but in a moment, okay? I'm freezing to death - "
"That's what I'm trying to tell you," Doyle put in hurriedly. "You can strike matches at it all day...if you can't - " he gave him a look from beneath his lashes, " - think of anything better to do...but it's not going to light." Doyle smiled at him, shook his head. "Power cut."
Bodie made an exasperated face, slid an arm round the chilly body of his mate and pointed him towards the boiler. "This is gas, Doyle," he explained. "Not the stuff in volts - gas."
"Yeah," agreed Doyle, and just as Bodie turned back to his matches, added: "And how d'you think it gets around the house, natural instinct? It runs on an electric pump."
Bodie's mouth fell open; then he shut it, manfully, turning around on his heels. "Ah." He put the box of matches down, precisely. "So - "
"So we better find somewhere warm - "
The two powerful CI5 minds moved together to the same conclusion.
"Back to bed?"
Doyle nodded. His teeth were chattering. Bodie threw both arms around him, hugged him, picked him up with no little effort and carried him back to the bedroom.
"Good job you don't run on electricity," he said as he lowered his precious new love onto the mattress.
"Oh, I dunno about that," Doyle murmured, drawing Bodie down with him and swathing them both in duvet. "I can feel a pretty strong surge of somethin' comin' on right now..."
-- THE END --