He shouldn't have been quite so disappointed.
It was inevitable that one of them would stray. They were neither of them built for monogamy, for the long term. They'd both juggled multiple birds, and the occasional bloke,; they'd each pinched a girlfriend from the other and joked about it afterward. Exclusivity wasn't in their natures.
He didn't know why he'd thought it would change when they started fucking each other.
But then Doyle sparked up when the redhead walked into the pub, and Bodie began to suspect that for Ray Doyle he had only been a friendly body to get a leg over, a convenient place to scratch an itch. And when Doyle deliberately caught the slag's eye, bought her a drink, chatted her up, Bodie felt as though twelve inches of sharpened steel had been buried in his gut.
Not that he let it show. A lifetime of suffering cavalier treachery and casual betrayal had taught him to show no weakness, to display no chinks in his armour. Give someone that much power over you and you were dead. Let them know how much you cared and their knives really would kill you.
Instead, he played the part of the friendly mate. Bought a round of drinks, clapped Doyle on the back and sent the two of them out the pub's door and into Doyle's bed with a smile and a wink.
He should have left then himself, gone home to an empty flat and cold sheets. Instead, he stayed on and got vilely drunk. So drunk he got into a fight with a couple of oiks who tried to thump the bartender. So drunk that the bartender threw him out along with the other troublemakers.
As he stumbled home along quiet, rain-dampened streets, Bodie tried not to remember how Doyle had draped himself around the woman--what was her name? Deborah? Doreen?--as they'd left the pub, tried not to think about how Ray'd looked at her, with the same expression of lust and longing he'd lavished on Bodie only days before.
Once home, he collapsed on the sofa, unwilling to enter his bedroom, that chamber suddenly too full of memories of green eyes and glinting teeth, of gentle touches and brutal strength.
Bodie drifted into an unquiet sleep, his dreams tasting of anger and frustration, of blood and ashes. And in them all he wielded his own knife, forged from the metal of disappointment, sharpened on the whetstone of failed desire.
Bodie had been a bastard all day, and all because Doyle'd pulled that bloody bird last night.
Not that Doyle had noticed at first. Bodie had been running late in the morning, but that was nothing new. He put too much sugar in Doyle's tea in the rest room, but that could've been an accident.
But when he left the obbo to get some nosh for lunch, then slung a bacon sarnie at Doyle on his return, Doyle finally twigged that something wrong. Bodie knew how much he hated fried grub, and he smiled maliciously when Doyle complained.
It got worse. Bodie spent the rest of the afternoon indulging in a series of spiteful, petty acts of revenge, while Doyle pretended to ignore them all.
He couldn't believe the smug bastard was playing the jealous lover. Bodie didn't do that. Then again, maybe he was a jealous lover. And didn't that thought make Doyle cold all over.
It wasn't love, he told himself. Not between him and Bodie. They'd only been having a laugh, hadn't they?
He tried to talk about it, to straighten things out, but Bodie wouldn't talk, would barely even look at him. So at the end of the day, there was nothing Doyle could do but follow him, uninvited, up to his flat. Even in his own home, Bodie would only glare mutely at him, leaving it to Doyle to break the silence.
"Bodie," he said, reaching out a hand.
And then Bodie did the unthinkable: he flinched away from Doyle. Bodie, who could never resist touching Doyle. Bodie, who always had a hand on his hair or his back or his arse. It was that small movement that finally changed Doyle's confusion to anger, his fear to fury.
"What the hell's wrong with you?"
"I don't know what you're talking about." Bodie's voice was as cool as Doyle's temper was hot. And it was his temper that sparked Doyle's next words.
"Then I'll tell you. You're acting like some fucking bird who's been abandoned."
Bodie moved so fast that Doyle didn't even see the punch coming. One second he was standing in the lounge across from Bodie, the next he was lying on the floor, a burst of pain exploding in his good cheek, his vision greying out around the edges.
"Fuckin' hell, Bodie."
"Hang on a minute," Doyle said, trying to get his bearings, trying to figure out how things had gone so wrong so quickly. "Give us a lift up, would you?"
He held out his hand, but instead of pulling him to his feet, Bodie knocked the hand away.
"Get the fuck out of my flat, Ray," he said, then strode into the bedroom and slammed the door behind him.
Doyle couldn't move for the longest time, could only stay sprawled on the floor, fists clenched, tears of rage on his cheeks, wondering how it was possible to miss something he hadn't known was his in the first place.
Bodie crossed his arms, leaned against the Capri and waited for Doyle. At the best of times, Bodie hated waiting. Waiting gave him time to think and he didn't want to think, especially not now. He'd thought too much the night before, propped against his bedroom door listening to Doyle's movements in the lounge behind him. He'd thought about how much he'd wanted to finish what he'd started and beat Doyle until his knuckles bled. He'd thought about how much he'd wanted to hold him and kiss him until they were both breathless. He'd thought about how he wanted Doyle to leave, to stay, to kick down the door between them, to fuck him raw.
But Doyle had finally left, the door of the flat closing with a muted click that rang of finality. With him gone, Bodie found that the fight, the anger, the hope had gone right out of him and he'd slid to the floor with an ungentle thud.
He hadn't slept much after that, and he was feeling it now, his eyes gritty, his skin raw.
Doyle finally emerged from his building, ten minutes late with a bruise blossoming on his left cheek. Knowing whose fist had put it there, Bodie felt a bubble of guilt well up within him, but he quashed it quickly. He had no use for guilt; he wasn't the one who had something to feel guilty for.
Doyle stopped several feet from him, his eyes showing a wariness that Bodie hadn't seen since the day they'd first met. It was the wariness that did it, that made Bodie want to gain control, to make sure that Doyle could never hurt him again.
He took three steps to close the gap between them and grabbed Doyle roughly by the elbow. Leaning in close, he spoke in Doyle's ear, low enough that he couldn't be overheard by anyone but the most determined eavesdropper.
"Here are the rules. We're partners, we work together, but that's it. We're not friends, we're not mates and we're certainly not going to be fucking anymore. If you have a problem with any of that, we go to Cowley now and ask him to re-team us, yeah?"
Doyle's eyes went from wary to cold, the green of his pupils turning icy grey in the morning light. Bodie could see the pulsing of a vein in Doyle's neck, could see his chest heaving, could feel the warmth of each puff of breath as it hit his face.
Doyle stared at him in silence for the longest time, as if he were judging him and weighing the results of that judgment in his mind. Finally, he tightened his mouth and gave a curt nod.
"Yeah. 'S fine by me."
"Good." Bodie quickly released Doyle's elbow. "Get in the car. We're running late."
He'd gotten his way, but as he pulled away from the kerb, Bodie wondered how winning could feel so much like defeat.
When Bodie had set out his rules of engagement, the list of what they could and could not be to each other, Doyle had looked inside himself and thought yeah, I can do that.
The fucking had been irrelevant. He could give up the fucking. He thought he could even give up the friendship. But he couldn't give up Bodie. He couldn't not see him every day, couldn't bear having someone else, someone slower, someone who didn't care, guarding Bodie's back. So, faced with the choice of no loaf at all, he'd taken the tiniest crumb on offer and considered himself lucky to have that.
He'd even managed it for a while, being with Bodie all day and not talking about anything but work. No shared banter, no bad jokes, no rating birds, no mocking the punters, no schemes for weekend getaways with just the two of them.
Not talking had been bad, but it wasn't the worst thing. The worst thing had been the lack of Bodie's touch. There was no more tousling of his hair, no more friendly punches to his arm, no more furtive gropes of his arse. Bodie kept a respectful distance, kept his hands to himself, no matter how much Doyle wished he wouldn't.
After three weeks, he knew he couldn't go on as they were. He felt as if a part of him had been carved away, as if they were two vines that had grown entwined together and been ripped apart, each losing leaves and branches in the process. And all because he'd fucked some woman he could barely remember. He knew he'd been stupid, been selfish, been wrong; it wasn't bloody well fair that Bodie was still punishing him for it.
He needed Bodie back. Needed him in his sinews and in his soul. And so he planned his strategy and began his campaign.
He knew words were useless, so he began to use Bodie's own weapon against him: touch.
He started touching Bodie. Not much at first: the brush of a fingertip, the slide of a palm. He persevered when those touches were shunned and when that little was at last accepted, he chanced more. Brushed against him in the hall, leaned over his shoulder at briefings.
Until finally, finally, he found himself here, back in Bodie's lounge where everything had gone pear-shaped, one hand clutching Bodie's shoulder, the other tracing his jaw.
"You're a right bastard," Bodie said, drawing in a sharp breath as Doyle drew his thumb lightly across Bodie's lower lip.
"Probably," Doyle said, then kissed him soundly, only reluctantly releasing Bodie's mouth because there was something he had to say, something Bodie had to hear. "But I won't hurt you. Never again."
"You'd better not," Bodie said. And then it was Bodie's arms that held him closer, Bodie's hands that stroked his back, Bodie's mouth that consumed him.
Words could lie, could cut, could kill. Touch was the only truth between them now.
In the morning light, Doyle looked almost innocent in spite of, or maybe because of, the frown that marred his brow and the fading bruise that marred his cheek. Bodie nearly stretched out a hand to wake him, but he stopped himself. He needed time, time to get sorted, time to decide whether to go forward or back.
But he didn't have time. As he watched, Doyle stirred.
"Christ, has it gone seven?" Doyle rubbed at his eyes. "We gonna be late?"
"Nah. 'S early yet. You should get some more kip." Bodie tried not to speak too quickly, tried not to look away, but he could do neither. And he knew that Doyle would hear, would see, would know.
"Bodie," Doyle said, sitting up. "You all right?"
"Yeah. 'Course." He turned away, began to get out of bed. "Shall I make you breakfast?"
"Bodie." Doyle grabbed at his wrist, stopping his escape before it had even begun.
"Leave off, Doyle." He tried to break Doyle's grip, but it was impossible.
"Not bloody likely, mate. Look at me."
Bodie didn't speak, didn't move. He sat on the side of the bed, his head bowed, a slight tremor running through his body.
"Look at me, Bodie. Please." His wrist was released and fingers trailed over his face, his throat, his back, but still he didn't look up. "I told you last night I wouldn't hurt you again."
"Don't you believe me?"
"I did last night." Last night he'd held and been held. Last night he'd traced Doyle's body with hands and mouth. Last night he'd felt that no one could be closer to him than Doyle.
A desperate need filled him and he turned abruptly, to face a strangely calm Doyle.
"I don't know."
"Do you trust me, Bodie?"
"Trust you with what?" Bodie wasn't shocked at the bitterness in his own voice, but he could see Doyle was.
"With your life?"
"Yes." The word was a whisper, a breath escaping his lips.
"Then trust me with this. Trust me not to hurt you."
"Why should I?" The words felt as though they'd been torn from Bodie's chest.
"Because, you infuriating pillock, I didn't understand before." Doyle's stillness broke and his eyes flashed a more familiar anger.
"Didn't understand what?"
"I fucking love you, don't I?"
"Oh." Bodie felt as if he'd been gut-punched, as if he'd been granted his darkest fear and his fondest wish.
Doyle looked at him skittishly. "That all you can say? Oh?"
Smiling, Bodie knew, absolutely knew, that everything was going to be all right.
"Well, I can say your taste has improved. If you've finally fallen for tallÉ"
"Édark and beautiful. Prat," Doyle said, but the insult bore no sting.
"But I'm the prat you love."
"And that loves me?"
"Yeah, you could say that." Bodie leaned in to kiss Doyle, certain that his trust was no longer a weapon wielded against him, but a refuge to shield them both.
Got any comments? Send 'em to email@example.com