Vivamus, Amemus


The beginning of what was meant to be an epic. Unlike some of my fragments it stands just about alone.. but I think it's a shame I never finished it: I like its feel, I like the dialogue, the heroic and irresistable Bodie, the unintentionally callous but irresistable Doyle, the plaque on the wall, Phillippa, and most of all, the cream horn.

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"And that's another thing," she said.

There was a scraggy sparrow darting across the grey slate roof. Probably nesting in the eaves. Bodie watched it duck beneath them, twig in beak. Yeah, nesting all right. Making a nice cosy bed for a mate. There was no mate yet, but mate there would surely be: written in its blueprint, that was. Eggs in the spring. Greedy squawking open-beaked kids to feed for a brief furious summer. And then it would probably die in the winter freeze.

" - You never listen to me."

"I'm listening," he said, wounded. "I've got the hang of it quite nicely, thank you. If this were a letter it would be a Dear John, right?"

"I wish you didn't have to make a joke about everything."

"Oh, I'm not joking, sweetheart. When I'm joking I put a sign up."

"It's him, that's the real problem."

"What's him?" Bodie stared, crossed his eyes, made a match bounce across the table. Two empty coffee cups, a plate littered with cake crumbs (his) and an untouched pile of pastries lay between them. "In fact, who's him?"

Well, of course he knew who she meant. But he waited, curious, for what she would say. Maybe she was going to cite Cowley. God knew, the old man and his unreasonable demands had come between them enough times.

"You know who I mean. Your partner. Ray."

Bodie made a face of disbelief. "Ray? As in, bionic golly Ray? Wouldn't harm a fly, old Ray." At this thought a gigantic snigger erupted at the back of his throat but he managed to swallow it down.

"It's too much, Bodie. He's too much. He's always around. And when he isn't, you're thinking about him. Worrying about him. Or he phones. Or he calls round and then you drop everything and go off with him."

"Being quite fair, are you?" Bodie crinkled his eyes quite humorously. His heart beat like stone inside him, but he kept up the smile, the narrow look, the air of intelligent flippancy. "I work with him. He's my partner, like you said."

A nice-looking girl, grey-eyed, elegant, she looked across the table at him studiedly calm. "Look, I'm not blaming anyone. Not really. I know he's your partner. I know you can't keep regular office hours and your job's very important to you. I'm just saying, it's - too much. It's like, well, I know it sounds ridiculous, but it's just like there's three of us in this relationship. I need - more than that."

"Look, he's been ill. He's needed a bit of support lately, that's all."

"Yes, Bodie, I know that. It can't have been nice for him being shot and all that. Of course I don't blame you wanting to help him out. I'm just saying - however it is, I can't live with it any more. Right or wrong, I wanted all of you to myself. I'm 27. I'm looking - well, I suppose what I'm trying to say is that I'm looking for, well, a husband. A - a father for my kids, if you like, if that's not sounding too - stupid. But you're not ready for that, are you? I was just kidding myself when I thought - Face facts, Bodie. You want to stay right where you are, running around with him like two big kids yourselves."

True, true, all of it true. And more besides. "Look, Philippa - "

She was scrabbling for her bag, suddenly distraught after the calm. Maybe she'd been expecting him to talk her round, promise to do better, offer himself in marriage, perhaps. Perish the thought. "Well, I just hope for your sake you never wake up one day and - well. Bodie, it's over. Don't make it hard for me - It's - Well. Maybe I'll see you around."

'And' - what? Oh, he knew. Never wake up one day and realise what you've missed out on. And for what - ? nothing. Nothing at all. Out of the window Bodie could see a gold Capri draw up and park illegally, terribly, wheel bumping off the kerb, handbrake squealing. He winced. Whoops. Bad timing. Doyle leaped out of the car, all lithe cheery energy, recognised Philippa, raised a hand in greeting, saw her face, looked puzzled, turned to watch her hurry along the street, head down - crying probably, the sight of Doyle the last straw and now all set to be the last memory of an affair which had lasted all of six months, which had boded well for the future and looked good from the start. Finito. Adieu. Bon voyage, auf wiedershein. Pet.

The cafe door banged. "What was all that about?" Bodie's partner eased himself into the recently vacated seat across from Bodie and looked at him quizzically.

Bodie shrugged. Gave a brave smile.

"Haven't dumped her, have you?" Doyle asked with interest, and a rather faux sympathy. He turned the plate of cakes around, examining what was left.

"Other way round," Bodie told him, faintly embarrassed.

Eyebrows arching, Doyle turned it back again.

"Not the plate," Bodie said patiently, "who dumped who."

Doyle made huge astonished eyes at him, blew through pursed lips. "Must be losing your touch, old son. I thought she was a stayer. Been six months now, 'asn't it?"

"Dunno why you're laughing. It's your fault." Bodie said, devil-may-care, inward mischief taking over. Doyle could be so - Doyle. Insensitive wasn't in it. Here was Bodie, freshly dumped by his long-standing girl, could be really cut up about it for all Doyle knew, hiding visceral torment. Words of comfort from Doyle, Bodie's best mate? Nope. Inner mirth shook Bodie; Doyle had had an empathy bypass some point soon after birth, that was for sure. All Bodie was getting from him was a kind of cocksure amusement, and in a moment he was going to be mocking Bodie's ladykilling technique.

"How d'you mean, my fault?" Doyle snorted down his nose. "I did my best for you, mate. I gave you all the tips you needed - How to Handle a Woman and all that, more fool you if you didn't take 'em."

"Let's go, I've paid already." As Doyle rose Bodie snatched a pastry from the plate and palmed it. Outside on the cafe steps: "Shame to waste it, cost me an arm and a leg. Have a cream horn," and he presented it to his mate with a flourish, "on me."

Doyle took the cake and bit into it. Cream squished out from both sides of his mouth. "Come on, how was it my fault?" he said, muffled, spitting crumbs.

Bodie was laughing at him, watching Doyle wipe his fingers down his jeans. "Perhaps she didn't like your table manners. Been out of the zoo long, have you?"

"Stop messing about, Bodie. She fancied me, was that it?"

Bodie smiled inside. Well, you would think that, wouldn't you? Probably think George Cowley would give you a shafting if he could catch you and keep you still for it. "Miles out. I don't think you're going to guess this one, Doyle."

"Well, tell me then." Cake gone, and never to make its appearance on the lean hips and flat belly, Doyle licked his fingers and looked at him calmly, waiting, eyes green as gems under the shading of his lashes, ringlets of hair tipped gold by the sun. Hands stuffed into his pockets, rocking back on his heels, Bodie told him.

"She thinks I'd rather have you, darling."

The sun shone down, the river lapped against the city walls. Beyond that Bodie was aware of the roar of traffic out on Western Avenue. Rush hour soon, they'd best be getting on their way; shame to leave this pretty peaceful back lane with its history and antique teashops. Maybe a plaque was now in order: Here, on this spot, Raymond Doyle learned - big Doyle eyes goggled at him, his mouth dropped open.

"She - ? - you're kidding."

"Well, she didn't exactly say it, not in so many words. Nevertheless," Bodie sighed, hands going into his pockets, "I got the point all right. It's lurve." He tossed a glance Doyle's way, impure mischief, inviting him to share the joke. "Did you guess, my pet? Always thought I hid it rather well, myself."

Doyle sparkled at him, highly amused. "She thinks you'd rather go out with me, does she?" He shook his head, hands on hips. "Now I've heard everything."

At that moment Bodie noticed that there was in fact a plaque on the wall - detailing not Bodie's thirdhand confession of unreturned love to his partner, but instead the visit of George III to this very teashop. He leaned against the wall, lashes blackly fluttering, looking up at the sky. "Yeah. Can you believe it?" Out of the corner of his vision he spotted the flat black cap and yellow stripes of a traffic warden homing in on them like a wasp arriving at a picnic.

Doyle fell into step beside him as Bodie began to descend the steps to the car. "She thinks we're fucking, does she?" he said into Bodie's ear, highly diverted. "Very - interestin', that. Or is it more of a - a spiritual kind of love?"

"Oh, an unrequited love, I got the feeling." By the time he spoke Bodie's voice did not reflect the missed beat of his heart which had made him momentarily lose his breath. Doyle slammed the car door shut, turned to grin at him, all white teeth and easy charm.

"I get it. You're in love with me but I'm keeping you at arm's length?"

"Well, that's about it. Except I got the feeling she thinks maybe you give me one every so often just to let me know what I'm missing." He shook his head, more in sorrow than in anger. "You called me up just one too many times, sunshine."

"I must have done," Doyle marvelled, hand on the wheel. He too had spotted the warden, importantly approaching. "So." He eyed Bodie speculatively. "I grant you a, kind of mercy fuck, every so often, do I?"

"She's not sure. She'd rather not think about it." Bodie shuddered, delicately. "She's probably not too sure of the gory details, anyway. Most likely she thinks gay love means two blokes dressing up in women's undies and reading Oscar Wilde out loud."

"Even she couldn't be that naive. Mind, more Densa than Mensa, I grant you, I always thought so. And this mercy fuck I throw your way every so often - Do you have to hold me down for it, or do I give in willingly?"

Bodie mused. "Bit of each, I should think. Keep me guessing, you know?"

"Probably I let you blow me," Doyle mused, "I would, wouldn't I? - grant you the privilege, and all that. But would I blow you? That's the question."

"No," Bodie took a deep breath. "Definitely not. You'd think that was beneath you."

"Beneath you, you mean," Doyle said promptly, and they sniggered crudely, were still at it when the warden, a mean toadfaced person of indeterminate sex, leaned down to glare triumphantly in at the window. Bodie had the ID ready in his palm; it gave him not quite so much satisfaction as usual to wave it in the general direction necessary and not even meet the eye of the inferior being. The warden retreated, mumbling. Doyle blasted off with a grandiose screech of tyres.

Bit of a laugh. Quite a lot of a laugh. Turned Doyle on, too, Bodie could see that. He liked the thought of some bird of Bodie's thinking they were fucking. Sexy idea. Doyle loved that kind of stuff, got off on it. As far as it went.

Doyle was still talking about it. " - easy mistake to make, I s'pose. We do spend a lot of time together."

"Well, we 'ave to. We work together. And it isn't exactly a 9-5 sort of job."

Hand on the gearstick as they waited at the lights, Doyle cast him a speculative look. "Come one, come all. Bet she's not the only one who thinks we're queer for each other."

"No, probably not," Bodie said, unperturbed. It wasn't true, not at all, so how could it harm them? "But then, some people see sex everywhere. Remember all that talk when Lucas went away with McCabe to Manchester?"

"Yeah, said they were going for City v. United. Very unlikely. Then there was that time Betty went round to see if she could give Anson the anti-smoking lecture. All night, it took her. And then, of course, everyone knows about you and Cowley." Doyle kept his eyes piously on the road though his voice wavered perilously up and down.

Bodie hit him on the knee in mild rebuke. "Some things are too precious to joke about, Doyle."

Old banter, safer ground. But he knew he had to be prepared for its sudden return; Doyle wasn't one lightly to relinquish such a tasty titbit. And when Doyle drew up at CI5 HQ even as his fingers were turning the key in the ignition his mouth appeared before Bodie's tantalisingly close, his eye winking, a deep, deep crease in his cheek.

"Give us a kiss then, flower. Gonna miss me, aren't you?"

Bodie flicked a speck of cream horn off the corner of Doyle's mouth with a fingertip. "Why, you goin' somewhere?" He gazed down into the battered, grinning face, eyes focussing very carefully on the heartshaped outline of the lips. And what would he do, I wonder? If -

The moment was past, Doyle back on his own side of the car again, and chuckling. "No sweetheart, but you are. Cowley wants you. In his office. Ten minutes ago."

He never had asked Doyle why he had appeared at the cafe then abducted him. Gone with him without a second's thought. Oh well. That was just like him. Doyle snapped his fingers and bang, he followed. Getting careless.

"Don't do anything I wouldn't do," Doyle's voice floated out of the car window at him, and Bodie couldn't but grin.

"Well, that gives me plenty of scope, dunnit?"



Training. They were always training, these days. Still young enough for the A squad, but every year you had to fight that little bit harder to stay on top of physical perfection instinctive to the teens and early twenties. Since the shooting Doyle seemed to have regained it and then some; but he would have had trouble with Macklin even five years ago. Anyone would. Macklin was special. Word had it, if he hadn't lost his gun-nerve it would be him and A.N Other (Murph perhaps? Bodie himself?) as the A-Team, at the top of Cowley's love- list; certainly looked that way today. Bodie leaned against the wall, arms folded, watching. Any minute now Doyle was going to blow; he had been fighting his heart out now for five, ten minutes, and still Macklin wore that lazy little smile.

"You're losing it, Doyle," taunted that cultured, drawling voice. "And once it's gone, you never get it back."

Bodie started away from the wall then in sudden shock, because he had not seen Doyle make any obvious moves, and yet a knife had appeared in his hand.

Nasty looking thing, small but sharp, stiletto sharp. Now it was Doyle's turn to smile, an ugly little twist to his mouth. Macklin backed a little, watching wary as a cat. Like a starburst he launched a kick at D's right hand. Missing not a beat Doyle switched the knife to his other hand, just like that, flourished it in Macklin's face, definitely taunting now.

Oh, careful. Bodie took a step nearer. Macklin went for a lunging hold on Doyle's wrist; Doyle jumped backwards, neat as a cat. The knife described an arc one centimetre from the pale skin of Macklin's indoor Englishman's face.

"Okay Doyle, you haven't lost it."

"Yeah?" Doyle said, smiling, all gritted teeth. "Maybe I haven't done quite enough to convince you - eh?" The knife plunged forward again.

"You've got Bodie worried, Doyle," Macklin warned but his eyes never left the point of danger, tracking it, making judgements. "He thinks you've flipped; he's going to jump you. Save you a night in the cells."

Bodie didn't even bother to speak; Doyle's attention had not wavered, not for one split second. ""That's cheap, Brian. Very cheap. I know Bodie. Bodie's on my side."

"Bodie's on his own side, Doyle. Don't kid yourself." Macklin raised his hands, unsubmissive even in defeat. "Okay, Doyle. You win." And he turned his back on Doyle, began to walk away. Bodie tensed, not knowing why - saw Doyle hesitate, toss the knife from hand to hand again - and then Macklin whipped around like a cobra in full strike, his foot flying high to thud into Doyle's belly, Doyle doubling with a choke and dropping like a stone to the floor.

Macklin stood over him. Not laughing. Not even smiling. If he had been smiling, Bodie thought, he would have probably gone for Macklin's throat. Instead he dropped down on one knee beside his wounded partner, hand settling in the end on the small of his back, rubbing gently.

"That'll teach you, Doyle," Macklin said, not even breathing hard, "Never trust the white flag. Timeo Danaos, et dona ferentes. You dropped your guard too soon."

"Silly of him," Bodie put in deeply, pleasantly, "but then he probably never dreamt that his own trainer was going to put the boot in over the area of his recent heart surgery."

Macklin looked down into the eyes trained chillingly on him, a clear, dark blue; he wasn't afraid of anything, Brian Macklin, not even seeing his name writ large and clear right now on Bodie's deathlist. He had his hands on his lean hips, a lock of lank blonde hair flopped over his forehead into his eye and he tossed it back with a shake of his head. "Bollocks, Bodie. That's bollocks and you know it. It was his belly I kicked, not his heart. You can't take all his knocks for him, you know. It's not good for him - or you."

"Mind you," Macklin added as he left, "he's coming on well. Right back on song, I'd say. You can tell him that, when he's in a fit state to hear it."

Bodie helped Doyle over to the vast gym mattress and lowered him to it. Doyle curled up into a ball and moaned a bit, but Bodie's practised eye decided he was over the worst of it, making the most of it now, typical Doyle, and sympathy wouldn't do him any good at all.

"Let's have a look at the damages then." Doyle rolled onto his back for him and let Bodie tug up his T-shirt from the bottom. Bodie sucked in his breath, impressed despite himself, and Doyle raised himself on one eyebrow to look down. A clear imprint of Macklin's size 10 boot was etched across his skin, angry red. Bodie grimaced with him.

"Nasty."

Doyle's face went through a variety of contortions as he felt over himself tenderly. "Think he's ruptured me spleen?"

"We'll know in about an hour. When the blood starts coming up."

"Thanks, mate."

"Well, you deserved it. No-one's made Macklin look a fool and walked away upright." He spoke brusquely, and at the same time urged Doyle with a nudging motion to lie back down on the mattress. Beneath the pulled-up scrap of red cotton he could see the long ridged scar across Doyle's sternum, a nice little legacy of having his chest cut open and Mai-Li's bullet dug out of the tissue of his heart. "Rest for a few minutes, might as well. That was just the hors'd'oeuvre, you know. Towser's probably on his way for the main course any minute."

Doyle shuddered, and closed his eyes. Out of habit Bodie looked at his face, a long and dwelling look.

"I'll tell you something," Doyle's voice broke through the peaceful spell.

"Yeah, tell me." Bodie's voice was gentler than he had planned it; he cleared his throat.

"Reckon Macklin's a sadist?"

Bodie snorted. "You'd have to be, wouldn't you, to do his job and sleep at night?" He yawned, threw himself down on the mattress flat beside Doyle.

"No, I mean it. Just for a minute back there I could swear he was getting off on it."

"Getting off on doing you over?" Yeah, Bodie could believe that.

"Hard-on like the bloody Eiffel Tower."

"You or him?"

They both smirked a bit at that. "Nah, I'm really serious. He just looks the part, doesn't 'e?"

Batting his lashes, "I'd not noticed," Bodie simpered, which prompted another bellylaugh from Doyle, followed by a wince and another tender feel around the kickmark.

"I can just see our Brian down the Phoenix picking up a trick. A little bottom boy just looking for a Master."

"Taking him home - "

"Tying him up - "

"Doing him over - and when he begged for more - "

"He'd say no," they chorussed and rolled about, and laughed until Bodie's ribs hurt as much as his partner's.

But it was not Doyle Macklin telephoned three days later, but Bodie himself.



Bodie took a hearty swallow of the pint Macklin had bought him and looked across the table at the other man. Very spruce tonight, expensive designer gear. Shining blonde hair, very clean. Smooth skin, neat features. A goodlooking man by anyone's standards. Rather too public school for Bodie's taste.

"What's all this about, Macklin?"

Macklin smiled at him, rather alarmingly. "Brian. I just thought - " he reached out, clinked his whisky tumbler on the dimpled glass of Bodie's pint - "you might like to go for a drink, that's all. No strings."

Too right no fucking strings. And perhaps Macklin read that in his eye because he sat up straighter, stopped smiling, and turned the talk adroitly to training. The beer went down well; Macklin - Brian - tossed down a few more straight whiskies. Via guns and military action through to men in combat, the talk became, it seemed, all at once edged with a certain provocation, an acknowledgement that they were, somehow, standing on the same line, coming from the same viewpoint. Bodie didn't know how Macklin had done it, but he had: viewed Bodie's membership card, approved it, and let him into the club. And now Macklin's eyes were engaging his with greater and greater frequency. A knee nudged his under the table.

Any minute now, Bodie thought, it's going to be, 'we're both men of the world, Bodie - '

"We've both been around a bit, Bodie," Macklin said. "Done a few things we'd maybe rather forget."

"Or maybe not," Bodie said, and smiled ambiguously. To hell with it, he thought, why not? Macklin was goodlooking enough. Would have, no doubt, many pretty tricks up his sleeve. It would definitely be a night to remember if nothing else.

"Fancy going back to my place for a nightcap?" Macklin asked him, watching him closely.

"Never wear one," Bodie replied, and put down his pintpot firmly. No. Macklin had blown it. For a moment he'd been tempted, but that corny old line - why not mention his etchings and have done with it?

Macklin smiled at him then, rolled up his sleeves. In the low light his hair still shone all but silver, his eyes cruelly slanted. For a moment he became, in Bodie's alcoholic imagination, the devil incarnate: those eyes, those strong arms, a master's touch with sadism: oh yes, tempting. A shiver rolled down his spine. Macklin sensed victory; the cruel slant of his eyes deepened.

"Doyle play those games with you, does he?" he asked, soft ice. "Is he Top for you? Is that the way you like it, Bodie?"

Quite and utterly distracted, Bodie consulted for a moment the inner vision this conjured up for him, of Doyle in leather with a whip in his hand. Abruptly the image flipped and it became Bodie with the whip, looking down at Doyle looking up at him.

He stood up: the table shoved back against Macklin's lap.

"Look, don't take this amiss, mate," he said, amiably enough. "But games.... aren't much my thing."

At first taken aback, Macklin had recovered himself with lightning instincts. "No? Pity." The voice was clipped, brisk. By now they might have been discussing selection for the CI5 darts team. "Call it a night then, shall we?"

Having delivered the brush-off, he felt with good grace, Bodie smiled warmly at his trainer, a good man to stay the right side of. "No offence - eh?"

"Certainly not," Macklin replied, as dry as parchment, and they parted.

Bodie did not sleep well that night.

There was no reason not to tell Doyle. There really was not. It was in fact the kind of thing Doyle would hugely enjoy and which Bodie would probably get a kick out of telling him.

"You're having me on, Bodie, I swear it."

"No," sighed Bodie, "100% true, alas."

Doyle stared at him narrowly, those annoyingly elfin eyes intent on discovering the truth. "He made a pass at you?"

"Yup." Bodie was enjoying this, despite all appearance to the contrary, of regretfully laying some unsavoury truth before his partner. He rolled his eyes, fluttered his lashes.

"Are you sure you got it right?"

"Doyle, I may be thicker than Cowley's Y-fronts, but even I recognise a pass when I hear one."

"Yeah, but - a 'nightcap'. That could mean anything. Another beer. A glass of port, 'e's a navy man, inne?"

"Yeh, and they're the worst, didn't you know? Rum, bum and the lash - "

"Did he actually say right out - "

Bodie looked at him enigmatically, waiting for Doyle to say it.

"You know." Doyle snapped it out very fast. "Come to bed with me." "Ooh sweetheart," Bodie camped, "I thought you'd never ask -" ducking to avoid the swatting blow aimed at his cheek.

"But did he?"

"Not in so many words. But I knew what he was getting at."

"That sort of thing happen to you often, does it?" Doyle asked, suddenly intent.

Sensing a change in the air, Bodie looked back at him, quizzical. Not knowing quite what to say.

"Get lots of passes from blokes, do you, Bodie?" Doyle looked at him, head tipped a little to one side, the artist's eye calculating. "Yeah, I reckon you do. Not your fault, is it - looking like the centrefold of Big Boys in Boots?"

Bodie gave him the expected kick and a look of exasperation. "Never knew you were so familiar with Big Boys in Boots." Actually he had never heard of that particular publication: had no idea whether Doyle had simply invented it on the spot. Probably, since Doyle was now cracking up at his own wit - "Big Boys in Boots - !" leaning forward, one hand pressed tight into his midriff, mouth stretched wide in mirth, white teeth all on view. Two or three black fillings on the back molars. Wheezing noises leaving his throat.

Bodie slapped down his pint pot and stood. "Gotta go." He reached over to ruffle the disordered hair. Twined a curl around a finger, cruelly tweaked. Doyle winced, pulled his head away.

"Where you going?"

"Man to see." He winked at Doyle. "So many men, so little time - !"

"I worry about you sometimes," Doyle said, gazing at him soberly, and Bodie made as if to go. He felt happy, for some reason. Everything was - okay. He and Doyle - they had a laugh. Though the actual phrase best friends did not form themselves in his mind, that was nonetheless exactly how he felt. There was no getting away from it. The world was a brighter place for him since he had met Ray Doyle. Nothing sentimental about it. Hw wouldn't die for him, or anything like that. But they were - mates.

"Bodie," Doyle called after him, and Bodie turned, looked right into those greygreen eyes, the eyes of a winter sea.

"What?"

"You eaten?"

"Gotta table booked."

"The Savoy?"

"The Wimpy, more like, rate I get paid," Bodie said grimly, tossing keys from hand to hand.

"8 o' clock," D said," "at mine. Bring a bottle."

"Ketchup be okay?"

It was not of course ketchup he turned up with but a bottle of Tesco's Bulgarian Cabernet, in fact two bottles, and a video. Doyle was chopping something in the kitchen, but he leaned over to inspect it - eyes brightening at the well-endowed lady who graced the front. "Mmm. That for later?"

"Yup. If you're good." Bodie strolled into the living- room and put the tape down on top of the video unit. Then he went back to the kitchen. "What we having?"

"Best Aberdeen Angus Sirloin - medium rare - side order of chips, sorry, french Fries, petit pois - "

Bodie took it in. "Steak, chips and peas?"

Doyle nodded. Bodie gave him a smacking kiss on the cheek, one of those rare moments of impulse. "My favourite."

"I know," Doyle said modestly, grimacing as he scrubbed at his cheek, and it was a good meal, Bodie tucking in heartily to the offerings, heaping his tender steak liberally with fried onions and mushrooms and drenching it in creamy pepper sauce. The wine washed it down well - so well, in fact that the two of them felt decidedly tipsy - which, they agreed over the washing up, was an altogether pleasant state to be in and one they intended to compound by opening the other bottle of wine as they settled down to watch the video.

Kitchen done, Doyle flopped down beside him, going "Phew," and flapping at himself as he undid the buttons of his shirt.

"Hot flush?" Bodie asked sympathetically. "Must be getting on to that time in life, aren't you, Doyle?"

"Yeh, and this could well bring on another one," Doyle drawled, nodding at the video, which featured largebreasted females spilling out of their tops, and quite soon dispensing with the tops altogether, a feast of bouncing mammaries any redblooded male would be hard put to resist. Bodie quite enjoyed it himself, though he had chosen it purely - or impurely - because he knew Doyle would like it, and so they watched it all the way through to the end, sharing the last of the wine and few words, and before it was over as he often did at these showings Doyle had unzipped and pushed down his jeans and masturbated himself, pushing his hips up off the settee and sighing as he came, uncaring or unaware of Bodie's hard, brooding stare all the while; and afterwards they must have slept because Bodie awoke, cramped and chilled and uncomfortable, in the depths of the night and took himself off to Doyle's spare room with a pounding headache and a crick in his neck to boot.

A funny kind of loving, to be sure...

-- THE END --