"Christ, I'm cold." Doyle pulled his sleeping bag up to his nose in a failing effort to avoid hypothermia.
"It's not so bad."
"Not so bad? Macklin schedules these exercises for maximum misery and you know it. Sending us to the Brecon Beacons in December for evasion training. The man's a sadist."
"And you're a whinger." Bodie's face was hidden by his sleeping bag, but Doyle could tell from his voice that he was smiling.
"Oh, and I suppose you're not cold?"
"This isn't cold, Doyle."
"Don't tell me you were colder in Africa, mate, 'cause I won't believe you."
"Well, I was in Oman once when it snowed, but I was thinking more of Scotland."
"Yeah, you know. Just north of here. Home of haggis, bagpipes and our not-so-illustrious leader."
"I know where Scotland is. I was just surprised that you'd spent time there."
"The Regiment did some winter training in the Munros. Dropped us on a mountainside in the middle of a snowstorm. Was great fun." Bodie lowered his sleeping bag far enough to flash a mischievous grin at Doyle.
"You think being on a mountain in a snowstorm is fun?"
"Yeah, got some great climbing in that weekend. Though it was a bit tough going with the snow drifts and all."
"You're a maniac. A right, bloody maniac. Cowley oughta toss you off the squad."
"Cowley only hires maniacs, Doyle. So, you know what that makes you?"
"Compared to you, I'm the very model of sanity."
"Then how do you explain why you're stuck in a forest, in the middle of the night, trying to evade Jack Crane's lads?"
"Just trying to keep you out of trouble."
"That's funny. Considering you're the one who gets me into trouble more often than not."
"You keep telling yourself that."
"Oh, I shall," Doyle said. He pulled his sleeping bag up over his head and felt another wave of shivers wrack his body.
"You really are cold, aren't you?" This time there was nothing but concern in Bodie's voice."
"You might say that," Doyle said, finally losing the battle to keep his teeth from chattering.
"Right, then. Shift yourself over here." When Bodie was using his no-nonsense sergeant's voice there was no arguing with him, so Doyle wiggled his way across the two feet of ground that separated them.
He wasn't sure what Bodie had planned, but he didn't expect Bodie to grab the top of his sleeping bag and unzip it.
"Oi! Do you want a new partner? 'Cause go on like that and I'll be dead of exposure in minutes."
"Belt up, Doyle. I know what I'm doing." Bodie worked quietly and efficiently and in less than a minute had their two sleeping bags zipped up together. He threw an arm around Doyle and drew him close. "Fuckin' hell, you're like a bloody ice cube."
"Told you I was cold," Doyle sniffed. Bodie wrapped his other arm around him and Doyle couldn't help himself from leaning into the offered heat. "How come you're so warm?"
"'Cause I'm not all skin and bones like some I could name."
"A few extra sausage rolls, the occasional toffee pud and I'll be sorted. Is that what you're saying?"
"Couldn't hurt." Bodie poked him in the ribs with a sharp finger. "There's no flesh on you to speak of. You must leave bruises on your birds."
"You've never complained."
Doyle didn't know what had possessed him to say such a thing, but he cursed himself as he felt Bodie tense beside him. They had rules, unspoken rules, as certain things that passed between them were unspoken, and chief among them was that they didn't talk. They could fuck, but they couldn't discuss it, couldn't even joke about it.
A silence extended between them. Doyle held his breath and felt his own muscles stiffen as he awaited the expected explosion. At the very least, he reckoned, he was going to lose his human hot water bottle. And at worst? Christ, at worst he could expect anything from a punch in the face to the smashing of their partnership.
When it came to their work, Doyle knew without a doubt how Bodie would react and how he'd move, when he'd push and when he'd let go. The connection between them on the streets was real and true and what made them such a successful team. But when it came to personal matters, Doyle was utterly adrift. He never knew which way Bodie was going to jump. He'd been shocked when Bodie had all but seduced him after a singularly brutal op, though not quite so shocked when Bodie angrily refused to discuss the matter afterwards.
The last six months, they'd settled into a routine of sorts. They both pulled birds, though not quite so often as they'd once done, but in between they would fuck each other. Fuck and flee, since neither of them spent the night in the other's bed. In his more fanciful, or perhaps suicidal, moments, Doyle wondered what would happen if he asked Bodie to stay the night, what it would be like to wake, tangle-limbed and sated in his partner's arms.
The silence stretched on and on, a frozen moment that Doyle began to think would see no thaw.
"Don't." Bodie's voice had lost all of its ease. It was strained and tight in a way that was new to Doyle.
"Just shut up a minute, would you, Doyle?"
But Doyle didn't want to shut up, didn't want to be stuck in this sleeping bag with this man he seemed not to know at all. He tried to pull away from Bodie, but Bodie wouldn't loosen his hold.
"Gerroff, would you?" Doyle tried to push at Bodie's chest, but Bodie tightened his grip even more."
"I'm not letting you go, Ray."
"You bloody well better, if you don't want me to black your eye."
"You're not listening, you infuriating sod."
"You're not saying anything worth listening to."
"Yes, I am," Bodie said with a sudden roar that froze Doyle's struggles and made him look closely at his partner. In the tree-filtered moonlight, Bodie's face seemed its usual implacable mask, but there might have been a small amount of uncertainty in his eyes. "You're not making this any easier," Bodie whispered.
"Not making what any easier?"
"I told you Doyle. No matter what I say or don't say, I'm not letting you go. Not ever."
And there it was, everything out in the open. Or as much in the open as Bodie would ever allow.
"Yeah. Oh," Bodie said, his voice more resigned than anything. Doyle couldnŐt stand to hear a resigned Bodie. It was against the natural order of things. Besides which, he was never one to settle for an inch if he could take the whole fucking mile.
"You're not letting me go?"
"That's right." Bodie gave an emphatic nod.
"So, you going to stay the night from now on?"
"Then I'm staying."
Doyle looked closely at Bodie and was relieved to see the resignation erased and a very Bodie-like twinkle back in his eyes.
"Now that we've got that out of the way, why don't you get your head down for some kip," Bodie said with a smile "We've still got Jack's lads to outsmart in the morning and it'll go easier if we've had a bit of rest. I'll take the first watch and wake you in an hour."
"That's an offer I won't turn down. I'm knackered." Doyle shifted until he was comfortably wrapped around Bodie's chest and allowed himself to be lulled to sleep by the rise and fall of Bodie's breath.
He didn't think he'd ever complain about the cold again.
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