"Yeh?" Bodie lifted his head from surveillance of the frying pan and its spitting cantankerous occupants to see Doyle ornamenting the doorway. From one lean-fingered hand dangled a curio Bodie would far have preferred him not to disinter. His stomach jolted. Hunger, he told himself, and jabbed a sausage, cruelly.
"What the 'ell are these? Never figured you were into jewellery." Doyle draped the polished wooden beads across his chest and offered himself for inspection. Actually, lying over dishevelled cotton and negligently revealed chest hair, they rather suited him. Roughly jewelled, Doyle looked unrespectable and pagan, up for grabs in any fertility rite.
"Decoration," Bodie told him, bending once more over the furiously spitting sausages to account for his heated skin, "is not what they're for. Do I need decoration?" He shot Doyle an 'I'm-beautiful' grin and continued: "'Ave you been hunting round my bloody bedroom again? Nothing's safe when you're around, is it?"
"Was hopin' to find a Mayfair I 'adn't read."
"Not a chance, mate. I'm having a whirl on the other side, any case." Bodie put a hand on one hip and winked, outrageously. As intended, this diverted Doyle.
"Realised that when I saw the Zipper on the bedside table." Doyle moved nearer, slanted green eyes sly, a little provocative. "Big cocks turn you on then, do they?" he tempted.
Bodie refused to be fazed. "Sometimes, yeah." Impatient, he teased a fork through a sausage. It was a mistake. It spat back fat hotly at him.
"Me too," admitted Doyle; and then wondered too late if that was wise, too over the limit, even for a mate as close as this one. Then, fatalistic, he mentally shrugged it off. He'd bet most men had at least some curiosity in that direction; not odd to admit it; honest. He fondled the beads absently, remembered them and looked down at what he held. "Not meant for decoration, eh? Come off it , Bodie, what the 'ell can you do with beads other than - oh, I get it. Lights's dawned. They're worry beads, that it?"
"You can," agreed Bodie, "experience a moment or two of worry with 'em it's true, but no, they're not worry beads. What the heck would I need worry beads for - " longarmed, he made a grab for Doyle, ran his fingers quickly through silken tangles " - when I can play with your 'air instead?"
Doyle pulled himself free, shook his head like a dog, leaned around Bodie and pinched a sausage from the pan, juggling it hastily from hand to hand when it proved, inevitably, agonisingly hot. "Come on then," he said between gasps of pain, "what are they, Tantalus?"
"Tantalus is your role," said Bodie with lofty intellectualism, "not mine. To put you out of your misery, though, sunshine, those are pleasure beads."
He turned off the gas and tipped the remaining sausages onto the plate. He was waiting for the penny to drop. Five, six - ten -
"I get it."
Bodie's stomach knotted again.
Doyle was still looking at him most unintelligently. "You in the flesh, and the ladies still need these? I dunno. I'm disappointed in you," he jibed and opened his mouth wide to sink his teeth into his stolen sausage.
"Not for ladies, dumbo," Bodie told him with gentle, pleasurable condescension. "Men."
The sausage got swallowed.
Bodie dealt with that by the simple expedient of pounding Doyle on the back until it flew out again. "Messy little bugger," he observed, bending resignedly to dispose of the shredded evidence. "Bloody good job you weren't born royal."
Doyle had abandoned all interest in sausages. "You mean - " His eyes were huge, his mouth a round O of shock. He was still coughing, spasmodically, but seemed unaware of this.
Bodie met his gaze. "Yeah."
"But - where do you - " he said, delicately.
Bodie gave him a straight look. "Doyle, nobody's this thick."
Doyle exhaled long and loud, through pursed lips. "Bit kinky, innit?" He eyed the objects in a totally new light; wary fascination. Then, slyly eyeing Bodie: "What does it feel like?"
Bodie shrugged. He extended a plate of sausages and a doorstep of bread and butter to his partner. Doyle evaded it.
"Ah, cmon, Bodie, I wanna know. You can't tell me 'alf the story in that tantalising fashion and then duck out of it just when I'm gettin' interested."
Bodie sighed. No escape. Putting down the plate he took the string of smooth beads, now warmed by the touch of Doyle's hands, and ran them absently, quickly, between his fingers. "It's not something you'd want every time." He met Doyle's eyes in rueful acknowledgement of the weirdness of human sexuality, knowing that he and Doyle were close enough to share such a damning fact about human nature. I dunno, Bodie thought, there isn't much I can think of wouldn't turn most people on, given the right circumstances... we're funny, us humans....
Doyle nodded, slowly, whether to the unspoken thought transmitted by rapport or to Bodie's words, Bodie didn't know. Hands placed behind him on the breakfast bar, his lithe partner hoisted himself up to sit on it without looking. "What I wanna know is - "
" - where I got them from," completed Bodie, resigned; but Doyle shook his head, a flash of laughter in his eyes.
"Nah. Why haven't I 'eard of 'em before, is what I wanna know."
"You probably came across 'em in a book," offered Bodie kindly, "but were too innocent to know what it was all about. Me, I had a decadent oriental upbringing."
"Really," mocked Doyle, and went quickly back to this entrancing subject before Bodie could regale him with tales of the said upbringing. "Give 'em 'ere a minute."
Bodie passed them over. "Sausages are getting cold," he said without any hope at all.
"Not hungry," Doyle said absently, curly head bowed in concentration over the string of beads as if considering the exciting life they must have led. "So, you do what with 'em? You -"
"One," corrected Bodie gently, but firmly; the less personal the pronoun the more he felt he could stand to discuss this without blushing again: "one slides them in, or, has them slid in, and then, just when the moment of glory approaches - "
" - you have them pulled out," said Doyle, cottoning on with no trouble at all; his voice fell to a lush murmur. "one by one. Slowly." His head tipped back, eyes falling shut; his hand gripped the beads tightly. He was sweating.
It was then Bodie knew he was in deep trouble.
He gazed compelled at Doyle's flushed, wicked-cherub face, knowing that any moment Doyle was about to open his eyes, and in them, the light of mischief, and command.
"No," Bodie said, and turned away with an effort.
The whisper in his ear made him jump: "Why not?"
He hadn't heard Doyle's approach, nor been prepared for the warm hands that touched the sides of his throat, holding him in a relaxed, gentle way. The scent of him so close made it difficult to think.
"Just no," he managed, staring furiously ahead while gentle thumbs traced pleasure on the delicate skin behind his ears, "Not a good idea, Ray."
"Oh, you'll have to do better than that," the enchanter's voice whispered. "Why not?"
Bodie set himself free then, with care, and turned to face him, his mouth twisted with determination. "Because it might mean too much," he said, "And you know it."
Doyle understood that. Emotions known through centuries flickered through him; Bodie too knew them. Doyle was steady. "Let it, then. Let it. I'll stand the cost," he said softly, "if you will."
It would have happened anyway, sometime, if not tonight; they had been charting the path out this way for years.
It wasn't the first time he had kissed Ray, but it was almost as sweet as that first flying touch of mouth to warm mouth, shared at the end of a close, drunken evening when they had turned mellow, and tender with red wine and amity.
Once done, no way to have it undone, and so it had happened again; it was their secret, one exciting, dark, forbidden - warm... they never spoke of it.
Nor had they ever taken it any further - at least, in reality.
Almost as sweet, now, here on Bodie's wide bed in the near dark; and also sweeter: drowning in the nearness of him, the new freedom to explore him with every sense Bodie wondered dizzily if they weren't going in too fast, streaking on comet-like to a fast finish, and the beads still clenched, forgotten, in his hand.
He let them fall.
His hand found and curled around Doyle's erect, throbbing cock, half-accessible from clothing hastily pushed aside, his other arm sliding beneath Doyle to roll him closer, cradle him in the lee of his shoulder as he had done so many times in fantasy; Doyle's warm breath sobbed into his throat, catching spasmodically, jerky, his fingers caught and dug into Bodie's arm.
He's - thought Bodie in amazement, just as Doyle's whole body convulsed on an arch of ecstasy; a second of frozen stillness and then the rhythmic, silent pulsing under his incredulous fingers, his thumb wet and sticky, warm.
When Doyle lay still and quiet again, only the odd catch marking out his breathing now, Bodie trailed his hand up to find the precious viscous puddlings marking out Doyle's naked chest. His seed, wasted on infertile ground. Bodie wished he could see it, admire the pearly texture. As he moved to settle more comfortably against him, his hand encountered something hard.
He picked up the forgotten beads and smiled, unseen. "You got it all wrong," he whispered into Doyle's hair, hand circling sensuously on the silky moist skin, lit by the sex-rich scent of it as it arose. "All wrong, sunshine. Too late now, isn't it?" He looped the artefact around Doyle's wrist.
A ripple beside him, and Doyle moved.
Light flashed into the room, making Doyle blink.
"Let's see if you do any better," said Doyle with a flawed smile; Lucifer with angel-hair. He lay still under Bodie's scrutiny. Staring down at Doyle's dishevelled looselimbed figure, eyes slitted over dream-chased green, shirt unbuttoned and pushed open, trousers undone, belly sticky and lush with sweat and sex, desire surged through Bodie, unstoppable, and he wondered whyever they had waited so long.
"Here," came Doyle's insistent voice into his ear, "Do it here, with mine," and obedient, Bodie surged strongly over slick skin, pressing his cock sweetly into Doyle's silken welcome, hands tangling in his hair, cradling his head, as he gasped and came, spurting warmly between their closepressed bodies; hearing as if in the distance the murmur of Doyle's voice encouraging him, telling him things hard to say except into the dark, and it was only later when his world had righted itself that he was able to do the same.
" - dunno why. Just did. Like you said, it crept up on me, same as it did you. Always was a sucker for curls and an angel face." His finger trailed idly, tenderly down Doyle's damp cheek. "Love you," he said, very soft.
But Doyle was already asleep, lulled in a new security.
Tell him tomorrow.
Bodie juddered awake with a shock.
"Woke me up," he grumbled unnecessarily, rubbing the sleep out of his eyes.
Doyle seemed disgustingly lively. He plunged down onto the settee where Bodie had been taking a crafty nap, and bounced.
Bodie shuddered. "Whaddyou want then," he enquired, gathering a lazy handful of Doyle's sweatshirt. He pulled. Doyle collapsed across his lap. Bodie slid an arm around him, rocked him a little, shutting his eyes again as Doyle relaxed into him. There was a chance, a small one, that he might be able to get back to sleep - drowsing together this way in the afternoon was characteristic of their Sundays.
Doyle rested against Bodie a moment, thinking his own thoughts, idly playing with the treasure he held. All was peaceful. Bodie drifted, his head beginning to slip to one side.
A skinny elbow connected harshly with his ribs. Bodie yowled, and shot up.
"I don't feel sleepy," Doyle explained.
"Oh that's great that is. You don't feel sleepy, so I've got to be awake," said Bodie bitterly. Abandoning all hope of a doze, he struggled upright, wistfully weighing up his chances of getting Doyle to make a cup of tea. His hand stroked up and down Doyle's arm, absently; Doyle was fiddling with something. Bodie looked down to see what it was.
"Bloody hell, Doyle," he exclaimed, more resigned than anything, "what'd you get those things out for?"
Doyle slanted up a glance. "Just came across 'em. Worry beads, aren't they?" He sounded totally unconcerned, running the curio through his fingers.
Bodie stared at him, unable to decide whether Doyle was setting him up, or not.
"You can't have forgotten," he said in disbelief.
"Can't have forgotten what?" Doyle turned his face up to him; it was one of his more guilefree days. Doyle always was dopey on a Sunday; trailed around in a trance, sweet-tempered and easily led. Nevertheless, Bodie eyed him with suspicion.
"I don't believe you've forgotten."
Doyle's brow furrowed in trouble. "I dunno what you're on about. Honest," he added, and leaned his head back on Bodie's shoulder, dismissing the subject. His fingers twiddled, idly.
Bodie swooped in and relieved him of the beads. "Mind like a bloody tea strainer," he muttered disgustedly. "You tellin' me, you don't remember how all this began?"
Bodie kissed him on the mouth, hard. At the same time his free hand travelled down Doyle, to cup the soft press of his genitals. "This," he said against Doyle's mouth.
"Of course I do," Doyle said affronted. His hand went down, covered Bodie's, pressing the fingers harder onto himself, one by one. Silence.
"Well?" he said, finally.
"'S on the tip of my tongue," Doyle said dreamily; waif-whore, he made it sound charged with sexual enchantment.
Deciding to be appeased, Bodie drew one finger around the denim-covered groin. "I'm very hurt," he said, "Only two, three years ago and you don't remember how it all started?"
"Something to do with sausages?" Doyle hazarded, snatching at a hazy bit of memory, stretching out, encouraging Bodie to explore him further with an upward movement of his hips.
"On the right track," Bodie agreed, undoing his belt buckle and zip one-handed, sliding a careful hand inside to find Doyle warm and fully hard. He erected faster than anyone Bodie knew; sometimes at a look, or a scent. "Well? Any more trickling back, is it?" he enquired with a hint of sarcasm.
Doyle smiled, lower lip caught between his teeth as Bodie's thumb brushed as if casually over the tip of him. "Nah, 's slipping further away if anything." His eyes fell shut.
"Don't get too comfy, mate," Bodie warned, watching him: he added, "'cause in another minute you're either going to be in bed, or on the floor - depending on my whim." His voice had dropped to a low, very macho purr. "Ray - " his hand stilled, " - don't you really remember? Straight up?"
Doyle's eyes flashed open; he was making a serious effort this time, staring into space, brows drawn together. "I remember you fuckin' me for the first time and me dashin' off to -"
"All right, all right," Bodie interrupted hurriedly; they had discovered that some things took some getting used to but fortunately in this case, practice had proved to make perfect.
" - an' I remember, long before that, you used to kiss me. Dark nights when you thought I'd be too pissed to notice, you used to get closer and closer and finally you'd kiss me. Then you'd go away happy."
"All my doing?" Bodie said in disbelief at this biased view of events.
Doyle smiled briefly, caught up in his memory trip, eyes hazy. "Nah, I loved it, used to plan to get you nice and mellow so maybe you'd do it again."
Bodie kissed him for that, one hand lacing through apple fresh curls to bring him close. Warm, he was thinking that they were very lucky; that what they had bound them closer, and more lastingly, than any formal tie.
Doyle said against his ear, "But, 's like that old song. I can't remember exactly how it all started, you know, I'd probably swear blind I was wearing a blue shirt and you'd say it was a green one, that kind of thing. As for how those bloody worry beads come into it, well, that's way out of my orbit, mate."
He was grinning.
"Right," said Bodie, "That's it."
He hauled his mate to his feet, beads in one hand, a fistful of Doyle in the other, and set off for the bedroom, Doyle chuckling, wriggling, and protesting all the way.
"What the 'ell - ?"
Bodie dropped him onto the bed. "I," he said with great deliberation, "am going to show you what these are for. Since you don't seem able to take it in verbally, I'm going to get it across another way. Or," he noted Doyle's faint apprehension, laughing though he was, with satisfaction. "I can just see it, every five years when we springclean or something, when you come across 'em, it'll be the same old thing. 'Bodie,' it'll be, 'what are these for?'" he mimicked Doyle's sweet-rough voice, "'Worry beads are they Bodie?' I can't stand it, mate, so get ready. Say your last prayer, or whatever."
"No don't," Doyle pleaded, partly going along with the game, part genuinely wary as Bodie advanced on him, nightblue eyes gleaming, beads in hand - "Bodie," he yelled, backing across the bed in an undignified shuffle, "Wait, just wait, I wanna know what the hell I'm in for."
Bodie stopped. He was still undecided as to whether Doyle was having him on in the matter of his supposed amnesia, but it no longer seemed to matter, either way.
He got onto the bed, gathered Doyle from where he was hunched against the headboard, and held him close.
"You know I'd never hurt you," he said into Doyle's ear; from the heart.
Doyle agreed, without equivocation. He watched Bodie, curious only now, all uncertainty gone and forgotten.
"You'll like it."
Doyle relaxed slowly under the caressing voice and hands stroking pleasure over him; when he was alight with it, shivering with tension, every nerve sweet, he suddenly remembered on another distant plane exactly what the beads were for, but there was no resistance in him, he trusted Bodie, Bodie could do anything with him, anything at all. And when it happened, when he was drawn to the peak by Bodie's subtle skill with him, it was, god so beautiful, like he was some great flower unfolding slowly from the very centre of himself, every blossoming a stronger sweeter pulse than the last.
The world took time to right itself.
He opened his eyes, lazily; looked into dark blue.
"Now do you get it?" Bodie asked.
"Yeaahh." He invested the syllable with rich meaning. There was silence.
"Good, was it?" Bodie said softly, knowing how it had been.
"I felt like a flower," Doyle said unexpectedly; and grinned whitetoothed at the absurdity of it.
"You felt like a flower?" Bodie repeated, amazed; and he loved Doyle very much at that moment for the sheer, tender unconventionality of him; he could make Bodie laugh, and cry in the same breath...
They lay very close, understanding perfectly.
Doyle yawned, turned on his side. He trailed a hand down the smooth silken skin of Bodie's chest. Bodie was patient, waiting for him; only the feral glint of his eyes, the slight disorder of his breathing, betraying the effort patience was costing him. Doyle's fingers found him, squeezed him gently.
"I'll tell you something."
"Yeah," agreed Bodie, eyes shutting.
"Was a great feeling. Yeah... But, you know," mused Doyle, cradling Bodie's hardness between his palms, "if I'm gonna have anything inside me, I'd just as soon it was part of you."
Rigid with banked erotic need, Bodie still took care to be gentle as he responded to that invitation, submerging all his desire in Doyle's open welcome.
They always slept after making love on Sunday afternoons.
The last thing Bodie heard as he drifted off to sleep was an irritated, hotbreathed whisper in his ear.
"'M lying on these bloody worry beads."
He fell asleep laughing.
-- THE END --