Bodie at 40
"Surprise!" A crowd of familiar CI5 faces called out as Bodie walked through the door.
The tall, dark, handsome man stood in the doorway of Stephen Murphy's flat. He had agreed to bring the injured man home from hospital to assuage his slightly guilty conscience. After all, it had been Bodie's plan that had resulted in the tall man's wounded shoulder, fortunately the opposite shoulder from the one that had been wounded several years before when Bodie and Murphy had played at Mallory and Irvine
Murphy had turned out to be the perfect lure with his light banter while they drove along in the updated silver Capri. Bodie hadn't suspected for a moment why his cohort in chimney scaling had called and asked if it would be possible for 3.7 to deliver him to the comforts of his latest CI5 flat.
Bodie had inquired why Murph's latest bird hadn't been chosen to do the honors, but Murph had only replied that she was out of town on a photo assignment. He had then played his ace by giving a small groan and in a near whimper suggested, "Guess I can take a taxi." Thirty minutes later Bodie and Murphy were driving at a sedate speed toward's the tall man's flat. In a calm voice the younger man had made it clear that he wasn't dying so it would all right for Bodie to speed up slightly. Bodie just ignored him.
Standing there in the doorway, 3.7 could almost feel a pain in his back where Murph had stuck the knife in and twisted it. Turning to look his perfidious friend in the eye, Bodie scowled with intensity as Murphy gulped and headed for the table where several bottles of liquor had been opened for the enjoyment of the already well-oiled party-goers.
Unwisely, Ray Doyle, Bodie's best mate and sometime lover, chose that moment to take Murphy's place at his partner's side. "Surprised, sunshine? Bet you thought I didn't remember what today is."
In a low voice Bodie muttered, "Wish you hadn't. Wanted to forget t'day."
Ray grabbed the other man's arm. "C'mon in, there's plenty of the good stuff and we have to drink up before Cowley arrives. Even have some pressies for you to open later."
Bodie stood rooted in place then he shook loose from Ray's grip and marched straight out the door, leaving Doyle and the CI5 mob standing with their mouths agape.
Anson, never the most tactful of men, walked over to Doyle's side. "What's with him?"
Doyle just shook his head, confusion in his green eyes.
No one approached the party's host for a minute or two until Jax took courage in hand. The two had worked together several times and got along well. Handing Ray a drink, the handsome black man asked, "Bodie having trouble with turning 40?"
"Maybe. Never much for celebratin' his birthday. We usually just go out for a pint or two. Always figured he called up a bird for the night." Ray took a sip of his scotch. "Guess I shouldn't have surprised him."
"Not your fault. Couldn't know, could you?" Jax protested.
"Jax, he's been my partner for over ten years. I should know how he's gonna react to everything."
Jax grinned. "You're just partners, Doyle, even identical twins don't know everything about each other."
Just partners. Doyle shivered slightly despite the warmth of the late May afternoon. They were that and more since the day Ray had returned to duty after the Mayli shooting. That night an exhausted Raymond Doyle had invited his best mate to celebrate with him at his flat. Bodie had tried to insist that Doyle needed sleep more than celebration, but he hadn't had the heart to turn his friend down when the big green eyes and sexy voice had asked, "Just one drink?"
Somehow the evening had ended with the two of them in bed together, but next morning little was said about their lovemaking, except that it had been good for both and neither would mind if it happened again. Their sometime intimacy had remained that way until three years ago when Doyle had turned 40. It was then that he had begun to think about leaving the streets. He had mentioned it casually to his partner, but Bodie hadn't even wanted to discuss the possibility. They were still Cowley's best.
During the last thirty-six months, Doyle had tried to reintroduce the subject from time to time, but it had always resulted in Bodie's growls and scowls so Doyle had once again backed off.
Now, it was Bodie's turn to reach 40 and Doyle had taken surreptitious steps to insure that he and Bodie would have a secure future--hopefully together although neither of them had ever mentioned the word forever. In fact, just when Doyle thought that Bodie was ready to make the commitment Ray had already made in his own heart, his handsome partner would introduce him to his latest bird. They all seemed so young and perky. Doyle hated them.
After Bodie's departure, the crowd continued to drink for sometime. Some even nibbled at pieces of the huge Swiss roll decorated with the words, "Happy Birthday", but then they began to drift away until only two were left--Doyle and Murphy--and it was Murphy's flat.
Just as Doyle stood up, swaying slightly, with the purpose of returning to his own place, the buzzer announced the arrival of the CI5 Controller, George Cowley. The Scotsman took one look at the nearly empty flat and succinctly remarked, "3.7 left, did he?"
A miserable 4.5 just nodded before politely asking if his boss would like some cake. Cowley declined and mentioned that he would give Bodie his present at the briefing the next day. When Doyle said nothing, Cowley moved closer to his agent and in a quiet voice asked, "You didn't have a chance to discuss what we talked about with Bodie, did you?"
That inquiry penetrated Doyle's mind. It took him only a few moments to focus on what the Controller had asked before he slurred out, "Nossir, wass going to do it later."
Faded blue eyes looked closely into the younger man's face. George Cowley prided himself on knowing his men. He knew it was quite important to Doyle that he and his partner would soon leave the streets. At first he had rejected the idea. He didn't want to lose his best men, but Cowley was a realist. Both men still did well on their assessments, but for how much longer? He didn't want to lose either one of them to a bullet, just because he had been too stubborn to know when they had had enough.
Or maybe it was only Doyle who had had enough? Bodie was the unknown factor. The Scot had always believed that where Doyle went, Bodie followed, but maybe that was too simple. Maybe Bodie needed the streets more than he needed Doyle. Tomorrow at the briefing he would find out the truth, always supposing Master Bodie chose to turn up.
"I'll see you tomorrow at 9:00, 4.5. We'll discuss it then. Goodbye, 6.2. Nice flat you have here. By the way, Accommodations has scheduled your next move in a fortnight." On that note, the limping man left.
Stephen Murphy groaned loudly. "Movin' again. Only been here for six months!"
Doyle said nothing. He wasn't due to move for quite some time and hopefully it would be to a shared flat. When the silence became oppressive, Doyle thanked Murphy for his help and went downstairs to find a taxi. For once he found one immediately.
Several miles away William Andrew Philip Bodie, hands clenched in pockets and lips tightly compressed, marched along a path in one of London's parks. He had left Murphy's place intending to stop by a pub and drink, but instead he had parked his motor and began to walk. After his stint in the SAS, Bodie had once promised himself that he would only march to his own tune, but then he had joined up with CI5 which had challenged even his fitness. Sometimes, he thought he might not even be able to just walk anymore. It was always the hurried gait, places to go, people to question. Frequently, the gait became a run, like the time he had tried escape to Doyle's pursuit while carrying Dreisinger's bomb around his neck or the time he had raced in to save Doyle and the girl, Sara, from the KGB bastard, Terkoff.
Always on the move, never standing still. Even after bedding a willing bird, he rarely stayed the night. Staying in one place too long meant too much time to think. Bodie had never stayed with one job as long as he had with CI5. At first it was because he truly felt that this was the job he could do--to use the skills, picked up since he was fourteen, to make a small dent in the population of scum that threatened England. He had worked hard to earn Cowley's respect and while he didn't trust him 100%, Bodie still trusted the Scot more than any other man until he acquired his curly-haired partner, Ray Doyle.
Ten years of guarding each other's back had forged what he had felt to be an unbreakable bond, added to the fact that the sometimes volatile man was his best mate and the only bloke he would share a bed with. Now, Doyle wanted to kick out one of the linchpins of their relationship. For three years he had known what Doyle wanted from him, but he had ignored and denied the truth--he was well and truly 40. It certainly didn't mean he was at death's doorway, but reaction times could mean the difference between life and death. How would he ever live with himself if Ray died because Bodie was a second slower than he was last year at this time?
The banner proclaiming his birthday and the smiling faces of Ruth, Susan, Lucas, McCabe and the others with the dreaded words on their lips had hit with stunning swiftness. He had tried to run, but it was no longer a race. Time always won.
Taking a seat on a nearby bench, Bodie pulled his jacket tighter. He was glad he had chosen to wear one of his old polo-necks today instead of the open-necked shirts he had chosen to wear in the last few years. It was strange how Ray had buttoned up more as he had grown older while Bodie had unbuttoned more. Just that thought reminded him of how Doyle had become such an important part of his life.
The great triangle: Bodie, Doyle, with Cowley and CI5 at the other angle. Who would have believed that all of them would still be alive and functioning at this point in time? If Geraldine Mather or Mayli Kuolo or those black men with knives had had their way, the triangle would have disappeared long before.
Bodie scrunched his eyes closed as the setting sun threw out a piercing beam. The reds and golds still lingered behind his eyelids as a stark memory assaulted him--the heated blast of the car left by Ulrike and her gang which had killed the bomb disposal expert.
That night after their reports had been turned in, Doyle had gone home with Bodie without saying a word. Just inside the door the green-eyed man had pushed his partner to the floor, torn his clothes off and had begun to make love to the bigger man with all of the ferocity of a starved leopard. It has been violent and intense and Bodie had never felt more needed or loved. The next morning Ray had tried to apologize, but Bodie had just waved it off, not wanting to let his lover know how much it had meant. That intensity had never been repeated since.
"Who woulda thought I'd still be alive at 40?" the ex-mercenary asked himself as he shifted to a more comfortable position. Angola, the Congo, Northern Ireland, the streets of London--anyone of them could have been his burial ground, but he had survived while other men had fallen, some of them good men like Keith Williams or Tony Miller.
He had survived because of his skills, his determination, and a bit of luck named Ray Doyle. Cowley had seen the possibilities, matching Bodie up with the sarky ex-copper and it had paid off for Queen and Country--and most of all for the two partners.
Partners. Best Mates. Halves of a whole. Lovers. Doyle wanted all that and more. The question was, what did Bodie want?
Guided by the flickering lamps that illuminated the park, Bodie retraced his path to his car and drove off in the direction of Doyle's flat.
3.7 laid on the buzzer for thirty seconds, let off, and then applied another thirty seconds of pressure. Just when he'd decided to drive over to Murphy's to see if Doyle might still be there, a faint voice emerged from the box. "What?"
"'S me, Ray. Can I come up?"
"Listen, Doyle, we need to talk and I don't want to do it over this thing." Bodie thrummed the fingers of his right hand against the offending item.
Thirty seconds passed. Bodie pushed the buzzer again. "Please, Ray, let me in," he murmured.
The door clicked open and Bodie raced in, taking the stairs two at a time. Now that he had decided what he needed to do, there was no hesitation.
Ray Doyle, tousle-haired, sleepy-eyed and wearing only jeans, stood in the doorway of his flat. The sight almost knocked Bodie's determination from him. His one thought concerned the perverse nature of his partner. How was a normal, red-blooded CI5 agent supposed to think rationally when Doyle was dressed--or undressed--like that?
"You plannin' on standin' there all night, mate?" Doyle asked. "'m knackered. Was just gonna have a kip."
Bodie glanced at the grandson of the Superman watch that he'd been given to make up for the one he had broken during the Gerda Helm case. "'S early. Thought you might still be at Murph's."
"Party broke up early when the birthday boy took off," Doyle informed him with an icy edge to his voice.
"Uh, sorry 'bout that." The dark-haired man glanced around the darkened room. "Mind if I turn on the lights?"
"Suit yourself." Doyle curled himself into the corner of the settee.
Flipping on one light, Bodie took a seat at right angles to the settee, situated so he could clearly see Ray's face. For a few moments all he could do was fidget uncomfortably. This was his partner of ten years and yet he wasn't sure what to say so figuring that an apology was always a good thing, he blurted out, "I'm sorry."
Unfortunately, the man on the settee had chosen that same instant to utter the very same words. Both men reacted with a bit of shock, but Bodie recovered first. "Why are you sorry? I'm the one who took a runner."
"Shouldn't have surprised you that way. Wasn't thinkin'," 4.5 explained.
Bodie focused his eyes on his broad fingers. "Wasn't. . .wasn't the party. Good party."
"How would you know?" Ray snapped out. "You didn't even try the Swiss roll!"
"Had 'em write, 'Happy Birthday' on it."
"Could eat some now," the big man offered.
"Left it at Murph's. He likes Swiss roll too, you know!"
The sapphire eyes opened wide. "You left my Swiss roll with that human hoover?"
"Didn't think you'd care. Wasn't even sure I'd see you again."
"Maybe you wish I hadn't come round then? I can leave," Bodie assured him.
That brought Ray to his feet. "You're not leavin' 'til you tell me just why you ran out on the party and why you came back! I know you're having a hard time with turnin' 40 but. . . ."
"Dammit, Ray, it's not that. Being 40's better 'n bein' dead. Just never thought I'd make it to this age. Figured some bullet would get me long before now. Now. . .now, I have to decide what to do with the rest of my life."
Doyle couldn't hide the smirk on his face. "Same things you were doin' yesterday, drinkin', snoggin', chattin' up every bird in the Home Counties. 40 isn't the last hurrah, you know. I still manage to toddle around at 43."
Unexpectedly, Bodie flushed. He had just remembered how they had spent Ray's birthday in January. "Sure do, sunshine. You get around just fine. 'S why we're still Cowley's best."
Doyle's green eyes shuttered over. "I know we are right now, but I've been talking to Cowley. I've told him that I'd like to be off the streets by the end of the year."
Bodie's face registered surprise and then anger. "And just when were you going to telling me that? Or was I supposed to show up one day and find out I was going out without you guardin' my back?"
"I had intended to tell you tomorrow. You do remember we have a briefing at 9:00? The Cow and I were going to discuss the situation with you then."
Bodie stalked around the room before flinging his arms out in exasperation. "Just like that? Ten years and you were just going to give up the streets, give up on us!"
Smoothly, the smaller man moved closer to his partner. He has known Bodie would be hurt by his actions, but nothing mattered more than keeping Bodie safe. "That's not all I did, Bodie-mate. You can hate me if you want, but I've been thinking about this for some time. I asked him if there was a possibility that he could find you a position helping to train new recruits. You're the best at handling guns and even more important you know all the tricks to help a man stay alive."
"You did what? You mean now?" he hissed. "I'm not ready. . .I don't want to. . .Don't do this to me, Doyle! We're good! We're the best!" Bodie grabbed his partner by his muscular biceps. "Don't walk out on me!"
"Listen to me, Bodie, please. I'm not walking out on you. I'll still be with CI5. We'd be working together. Cowley hasn't worked out all the details yet. He doesn't want to step on Macklin's toes, but he wants to update the training centre and he thinks we're the men to do it."
3.7 dropped his hands. "Maybe you're the man to do it, but what makes you so sure I am? I've spent my life killing. What makes you think I can just turn off that part of me and go play pretend?"
Doyle pressed himself up against his lover then pulled Bodie's long arms up and around so that he was encircled in their security. "I know you can do it. Do you recall tellin' me that the difference between you and Tommy McKay was that you didn't enjoy killin'?"
Ray could feel the nod of Bodie's head next to his left ear.
"I remember that's when I started to think about you as more than what you appeared to be. I know we'd been partners for awhile, but sometimes you still scared me with your single-mindedness and the way you seemed to enjoy going one-on-one with the villains. I. . .I wondered what kind of man was guarding my back," Doyle admitted.
"And did you ever find out?" Bodie murmured in the nearby ear.
"You know I did, you big goof!" Ray tilted his head to kiss the stubbled jawbone of the other man. "Found you were what I need in a partner, in a mate, and in a lover."
"But that doesn't make me a good instructor!" the big man protested.
"I'd say it does because you know, more than most, how easy it is to lose it all. You've fought and clawed and survived. Who better to train all those snot-nosed kids how to stay alive so they can celebrate their 40th birthdays?"
The dark-haired man hesitated and then agreed, "Might have a point. I know what it is to have somethin' worth fighting for."
Doyle gave him a grin. "Yeh, you do, but if you really don't want this, don't want to come off the streets for another couple of years, I'll understand. Guess I've been kinda selfish just thinkin' 'bout what I need. If you need the streets, Murph can be your backup and I'll still be here for you when you need me."
Bodie shoved Ray away so that he could look him square in the face. "What's that s'pposed to mean?"
No longer in the warmth of his partner's arms, Doyle shivered slightly, but didn't falter. "I told Cowley that when I took the new position, I'd like to share a flat with you."
"What. . .what'd he say to that?"
"Not much. He seemed to think that it was natural for a man to stay his close to his partner. . .his former partner."
"You mean you didn't tell him about you and me bein'. . .you know."
"No, that's something we both need to decide on. Besides, we don't have to be. . .you know. I'm not asking you to give up birds and the streets. After ten years, all I want is for you not to give up on us. Not sure I could make it if you walked out of my life."
"Same goes for me, sunshine. The birds and the streets are nothing compared to you."
"Then you'll at least hear what Cowley has to say tomorrow? I promise I won't put the thumbscrews to you. This has to be your decision. I don't want to wake up one morning and find you hate me for forcin' you into somethin' you don't want." Ray stared straight into the midnight blue eyes, trying to search out the truth in them.
"No chance. I may be tall, dark and beautiful, but I'm also supremely intelligent. I know when I have what I truly need and you, my gorgeous golli, are what I need. All the rest doesn't come close."
The kiss Ray pressed on the other man went on for a long time until they separated for air. "I love you, Bodie and I'll damn well do my best to see you never regret throwin' in with me."
"Threw in with you from the first time I saw you. Just took me awhile to realize what I was doin'. Now, what do you say to lettin' me open my pressies?" Bodie rubbed his hands together in open anticipation.
"Pressies?" Doyle gulped. "I, well, they're still over at Murph's. I left without 'em."
Bodie snickered. "Don't mean that kind of pressie. I was referring to the one in my arms with tight jeans on. Bet I can have you out of them faster than Cowley can down a wee dram."
"No bet. I'll even help."
Bodie slapped away the fingers that had started for the top button of the sinfully tight jeans. "It's my birthday and it's my privilege to open my pressie. Would you deny a man his birthday rights?"
With Bodie's mouth on one flat brown nipple and his hand on Doyle's rapidly hardening cock, Ray wasn't about to deny Bodie anything.
With a practiced motion Bodie removed the jeans from his lover, reveling in the naked man's beauty. In fact, he licked his lips in anticipation of what they soon would be doing, but he made no move towards the bedroom.
The arousal of his own need inflaming him, Ray stood there, not sure why they were still vertical. "Bodie, is. . .is something wrong?"
"No, just want you to promise me something."
"Next year for me birthday, could you see your way clear to a strip show instead of a surprise party?"
Bewilderment filled the green eyes. "Strip show? You want to see some bird strip?"
"A bird? What kinda berk d'ya think I am? I meant a private strip show, starring a certain Ray Doyle."
Doyle laughed with relief. "I think that can be arranged. Of course, in return I get to see your birthday suit too."
"My pleasure. Oh, and one thing more."
"Yes, O lord and master?"
"Hey, I like the sound of that."
Doyle punched him lightly in the stomach. "Just tell me what you want."
Bodie leaned over and whispered in his ear. Doyle's expressive eyes opened wide as he breathed, "You little devil! You sure you're old enough for that?"
"'Course I am, Goldilocks, or maybe I should start calling you Silverlocks." Bodie reached out to touch some of the gray strands in his partner's russet hair.
"Earned all of them honestly, me lad and I wouldn't trade 'em," Ray assured him.
Bodie slipped his arms around the slender man and kissed him. "And I wouldn't trade you for the biggest Swiss roll in London."
Doyle chuckled with joy. "Now, I know you love me."
"Always did, always will," he was reassured.
"Even when I'm 64?"
Bodie grimaced. He was not a fan of the Beatles, but just this once he'd indulge his lover as he nudged him towards the delights of the bed in the next room while humming, "All my Loving," or it might have been "I Wanna Be Your Man." It's difficult to hum when a green-eyed siren is trying to give his man a tonsillectomy--with his tongue.
-- THE END --