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B & D Beside the Sea

Another very early story, and the title says it all, though it began my reputation as the worst slash-titler in the world. Sweet and tender, with, it was pointed out to me, a most unrealistic sex scene - my enthusiasm for speedy and drastic consummation overrode more practical concerns. Ah well, many young lovers could no doubt say the same. Note the no-room-for-argument Happy Ending - by now I was building up a reputation as someone who wrote dark and miserable stories which could ruin your day, and was desperate to ingratiate myself back in with my peers who were beginning to shun me and retaliate by turning our heroes into elves with a penchant for teddy-bears.


Head down, Bodie trudged through the hot sand, wincing as the tender soles of his feet encountered tiny twigs, pebbles, and shells which deceitfully laced the apparently fine white sand. It didn't seem to be bothering Doyle, who was bouncing along ahead of him, threading a careful path through the spread of towels and slabs of lobster-pink human flesh, the jumble of suntan lotion bottles, and bags, and buckets, and spades, all of which adorned the beach. Probably had soles like elephant hide, Bodie thought sourly, not a little envious.

Finally Doyle stopped, tilted his face to the sea air as if scenting like a hunting dog, his eyes half-closed in concentration; he turned carefully around to inspect all aspects of the site, and finally nodded to Bodie. "This do?"

Bodie had been watching this performance with something akin to disbelief. "Oh yeah," he enthused with mendacious admiration, "it's got so much more than all the other seemingly identical spots we've passed on this five mile hike here. Worth waiting for though. Only you could see that subtle difference, mate."

Doyle acknowledged the heavy sarcasm with the barest of looks. He offloaded his shoulder bag -- souvenir of a Greek holiday -- and unpacked his towel, spreading it on the sand. Bodie did likewise. In fact, it was quite a pleasant spot, more secluded than some, in the shelter of the sea-wall; and the nearest family part to them handily obscured behind a lengthy striped windbreak.

"How long we got?" Bodie asked, unstrapping his watch and stuffing it into his bag.

It had been Doyle's idea, this: hot day, too many recent hours spent sweltering in an office, or a car; why not get away from it all, spend their day off by the sea? Bodie, disdainful ex-paras supercool hero type, had scorned the idea -- in principle. In practice it appealed enormously to his nature (and he suspected Doyle was perfectly aware of that) his spirits lifting irrepressibly the moment they got out of the car and surveyed the gritty-sanded beach, the almost-blue water, the pier with its peeling faded paint, and the rocks and the hamburger stalls which were all part of the British seaside scene -- it had a kind of beauty about it, flawed and tarnished and cheapened in a way a Greek beach never was however crude the rusticity of its tavernas; but beauty it was, none the less. Along the curve of the seafront were shops flagged with the colourful gaiety of beach paraphernalia, bright-painted beachballs hung up in nets, plastic inflatable toys; and shops to sell nothing but lurid sticks of rock in every shape, size and colour imaginable; amusement arcades with flashing neon signs everywhere one looked, and along the beachwall, heavy iron telescopes, remnant of a bygone age when pleasure was a simpler matter. Bodie breathed in the scent of ozone, candy-floss and seaweed, and was happy.

"Oh, I reckon we can give ourselves a few hours," Doyle was answering, removing his tinted glasses from the inner pocket of his jacket.

"A few hours," said Bodie with assumed moroseness, gazing around at the collection of rug-wrapped septuagenarians huddled in deckchairs, nodding into space, or simply staring; the scattered families of peeling pot-bellied dads, chubby mums, squabbling kids -- "where the hell are the beautiful people?"

Doyle gave a tiny sigh, glanced down at himself; very briefly, but Bodie didn't miss it. Doyle had style, even in his affectations.

"I was counting on picking up some local talent," Bodie groused, ignoring him.

Doyle looked faintly aloof. "Can't you do without it for one afternoon, Priapus? Fresh air, sun, sea, sand -- why'd you have to drag sex into everything?"

Doyle would turn down the chance of some nubile female company no more than he would, Bodie knew that perfectly well. Just making the best of it, and pretending a leaning towards asceticism, that was all. Which was a joke, because underneath all that superficial cool Bodie suspected his partner harboured a raging fire of sensuality, a fine uninhibited appreciation of the delights of unbridled hedonism. It intrigued him. He knew Doyle better than anyone in the world did, knew everything about him -- but for the one area forever closed off to him, no entry, keep out. Seemed unfair, even ridiculous; mused Bodie as he watched his mate pulling off his t-shirt unhurriedly, shaking out the head of curls, that he, Bodie, was barred from tasting that one thing about Ray Doyle. His gaze was almost wistful as it travelled over his partner's lithe nude torso.

Doyle had noticed the attentions. "Oi," he remarked as he unbuckled his belt, "What you starin' for? Not got me in mind for a substitute 'ave you?"

Bodie snapped back to reality. They had special reasons for going carefully on this particular subject right now; and Doyle, as he often did so unnervingly, had hit yet again on the right interpretation of Bodie's behaviour. Bodie had always prided himself on being unreadable, before he'd met Raymond Doyle with the cool calculating eyes that seemed to look clear through to Bodie's soul.

"Possibly," he said, poker-faced.

Doyle pushed his jeans down his thighs, began to step out of them. "Better move the towels bit closer together in that case," was his only comment, and he lay down on the lurid rectangle of towelling.

Bodie couldn't repress a grin, looking down at him. That was the thing about old Doyle, took Bodie in his stride, largely unshockable and never short of a comeback. His eyes travelled again over the length of him, nude but for a small black pair of swim-briefs --

Now there was a thought.

They had taken off their shoes before descending the stone steps to the beach, but Bodie was still otherwise conventionally attired in shirt and trousers. "How'd you do that?" he asked suspiciously.

"Do what?" Doyle didn't stir, soaking up the sun caressing his bare skin, the comfortably hot sand beneath his heels; he picked up a handful, let it run idly through his fingers.

"Get changed."

"I took off my t-shirt," Doyle explained patiently, "I undid my belt, I unzipped my trousers, I--"

"How'd you get your trunks on?" Bodie cut in, favouring Doyle with a look of exasperated hauteur.

Doyle tipped up his glasses, stared enigmatically. "Had 'em on underneath."

Bodie gaped. This simple expedient had not occurred to him. Conceding the round to Doyle, he rummaged in his bag and pulled out his own, watched by Doyle's cool eye. "Have to find a cabin somewhere." He screwed up his eyes against the glare of the sun, then shaded them with one hand as he stared along the beach. There in the distance he could see a little row of wooden huts. Picking up his towel, resigned, he prepared to set off.

Doyle was up in a bound, taking the towel from him. "No need for that."

"Wha--?" Bodie gazed at him in incomprehension. Surely Doyle had heard of the little law that precluded revealing one's all on the beach?

"Ah, c'mon Bodie, you're not that prudish. Like an old maiden aunt you are sometimes," Doyle said impatiently. "You change under a towel, that's the way the British do it. Look--" he nodded at a plump matron twenty yards away struggling under a voluminous tent-like garment, finally emerging like an overblown butterfly from its chrysalis, a bloated vision in a skirted blue swimsuit.

"I am not--"

It was no good. Doyle had taken him in hand, purposeful and determined. "Undo your trousers," he instructed, and watched with steely concentration as Bodie complied, shutting his mind off from the possible interest of any onlooker. Then, just as he had come to the fatalistic conclusion that Doyle was determined to expose him to all and sundry, Doyle, standing in front of him, whipped the towel around his waist, holding the ends together. "Now pull 'em off. Pants as well," he ordered. Bodie, struggling beneath the constricting towel, did his best. They were half-way down his thighs when he was struck by a sudden mistrust, and cold blue glared into mischievous green.

"If you're gonna drop me in it, accidentally let this slip," he snarled, "you'll be taking the long walk home, sunshine, and you won't be in any shape to do it."

"Would I --?" Doyle answered his own innocent question: "'Course I wouldn't. Get on with it."

Only partly reassured, Bodie kicked himself free of trousers and pants, and, precariously leaning over, managed to insert one foot in the leg of his trunks.

It was then he realised that Doyle, still holding the ends of the towel together, was peering unashamedly over the top of it.

Bodie blanched, flushed, and grabbed the towel from him, clutching it against himself. "What the hell are you doing?" he enquired with precarious calm, and met Doyle's unabashed eye. "Just checkin'," said Doyle mysteriously, and gently but firmly took the ends of the towel from him again, gazing down into the dark cavern with deep interest.

"Your parents Jewish, were they?"

Bodie nearly choked. He glared at Doyle -- but Doyle was suddenly grinning at him with sly delight, and it was all okay after all. "Get on with it," Doyle said again, "I'll give you five seconds before I drop it --" and gazed into the distance with apparent lack of interest as Bodie, stooping, struggled to pull up the trunks, just as--

"-- five --" counted Doyle aloud, and let the towel fall.

Bodie was decently clad in blue and white striped shorts-style trunks.

Doyle stared him up and down. "Cut-off pyjamas?" he suggested; then he lay back down.

Bodie was hurt by this. "Marks and Sparks finest, mate." He sat on his towel, unpacked the Delial sun-oil, began to apply it to his shoulders. "Want some?" Without waiting for Doyle's reply, he upended the plastic bottle, thumped on the bottom of it.

Doyle's eyes flew open as large drops of warm oil fell on his chest. He caught Bodie's hand just as it made a gleeful dive for him. "You want us marked out as a pair of fairies? You wanna rub oil into me, mate, you wait till we're alone." He slanted an arch glance up at Bodie and began to smooth the lotion in himself, long fingers gliding over his skin with familiar ease. Liking the sensation, he let his eyelids fall, giving a little sigh as his hand slid on over his own skin.

Bodie watched, still breathless from the implied promise of the oil remark, always intrigued by Doyle's attitude to himself. He seemed totally at ease with his own body, he accepted it, he seldom looked in a mirror, he was perfectly happy about touching himself, he was unselfconscious in the way he moved. That attitude mystified Bodie who did not share it, made him rather envious in a diffused kind of way -- deep-down, Bodie suspected his body of unattractiveness, and to offset that he had developed over the years a bravado-inspired attitude of braggadocio that worked, in its way, nearly as well. He appealed to some types of women, Doyle to others. But he envied Doyle none the less. Doyle had overridden his physical imperfections, he presented them in the light of works of original art; he was innerly assured of himself in a way Bodie never could be.

Doyle nudged him. "Oi. Come back."

"Sorry, what?"

"I said, twice, 'ow about a dip," said Doyle, watching him unblinkingly. "Or were you serious about collectin' some company?" He nodded towards two girls who had just arrived and were settling on a patch some fifty feet away; pretty blonde things in bikinis; as they watched, one rose to her feet displaying firm white thighs and heavy-breasted female allure.

Bodie's mental withdrawal from the suggestion was swift, and something of a surprise. He covered it easily, camping: "Thought we'd settled I was gonna make do with you today, flower," on the principle that it was amazing how seldom one was believed when one told the bare truth, and accompanied the remark with a heavylidded pout and a swat at Doyle's thigh. God knew, they had little enough time alone together relaxing. He liked Ray, liked him better than anyone he'd ever met, enjoyed his company. And since one bloody evening a few months ago, he'd been watching Ray carefully for any sign that there might be a chance of something more, but--

"Okay with me, sweetheart, but you better make your move soon. Cold water plays hell with my libido." Doyle lay back down again, shutting his eyes.

-- but the signals he got from Doyle were always confused; Bodie found it impossible to read him on the matter. On the one hand, like Doyle's unfazed remark just now, and the one about rubbing in the oil, any suggestive camping around Bodie might instigate was always picked up by Doyle and returned, in fact he sometimes started it himself. Did that mean he was sure enough of his -- image, his sexuality to accept it in the light he thought it was offered, a derogatory joke one had to take, and respond to if one wasn't to appear threatened by it? Or did it mean he was sure of his sexuality in another way -- secure enough to admit he could, and would, respond to a physical advance from someone he found attractive, whichever sex they were?

Bodie didn't know; didn't dare to risk finding out. Wasn't sure he wanted to know -- it was all very pleasant as it was, the light flirtation between them, the tingly feeling of 'maybe - one-day' he got whenever Doyle gave him that tantalising come-hither look, or one of his rare, sweet smiles, staying just out of reach...

But there might be so much more, there was just a chance of that.

And sometimes the desire to find out once and for all, to resolve the confusion engendered by the endless games they played with one another, make Doyle lay it all in the open, was almost too much to bear...

He smiled wryly to himself. This would put the cat among the pigeons.

"Hey, Doyle; fancy making it with me?"

He didn't say it aloud. He never did, only rehearsed it, sometimes, alone at night in bed.

Sometimes Doyle said 'yeah, okay,' straight off. Sometimes he had to be coaxed. Sometimes he was taken by storm, crushed helplessly beneath Bodie's fierce onslaught. It always ended the same, anyway; Doyle there in his arms, pliant and responsive and gasping with the pleasure Bodie was making him feel...

He shook his head violently, like a dog dislodging water. He shouldn't be thinking these things about his partner. He smiled again, more bitterly this time as he imagined yet another opening -- "Hey, mate, I toss off to wild fantasies about you every night, makes me feel good, how about trying it for real?"

It wasn't all his fault. Doyle was the flirtatious type. Bodie couldn't decide whether he did it deliberately, for Bodie's sake, or whether it was Doyle's automatic reaction to the subconscious awareness of a potential sexual response. And, with his looks -- Bodie, being both generous and objective, would not quite call him 'androgynous,' no, way, Ray was all male -- but certainly there was something unconventional about him, the loose curls, the starkly beautiful chains adorning throat and narrow wrist, the big eyes --

They were staring at him now, wide and calculating.

Bodie swallowed, uncomfortably, wondering how much he had given away in those moments of far-off introspection. Doyle was sitting up, hands draped across his drawn-up knees, head on one side, watching him carefully.

"This is," he remarked for the record, "the fourth time. Are you coming in for a dip? Or not? What's on your mind, Bodie?"

Bodie blurted out, "Andy's party --" and could have buried his head, ostrich-wise, in the sand.

Doyle's face turned distant; he gazed out to sea. Small sailing boats passed serenely; every so often a noisy motorboat would appear and zig-zag through their midst. Behind them, walking along the seafront path above, some noisy teenage trippers had a radio going very loud; they were laughing and shouting and mucking about with all the self-centred excitement, the us-against-the-world aggression of adolescence.

"Oh, that."

He said nothing more. Bodie's scalp was tight with embarrassment; what the hell had he said that for? Doyle's guarded reaction made him more than ever sure that he was all wrong, all his hopeful interpretations totally on the wrong track --

Andy's party. Three months, or twelve weeks, eight days ago now.

A mad, riotous celebration of still being alive. The stupidities only men who were daily threatened by death, past, present and future, could devise. A gut-rotting amount of alcohol. Idiotic stunts. Ridiculous games. One of which had resulted in forfeits -- "Put your head in a bucket of water and sing all 4-1/2 verses of Betty's Lament," "Drink two Cowley specials" (Scotch, lime juice and advocaat). And when it had been Bodie's turn to lose, he had drawn the short straw with a vengeance, his slip of paper conveying the instruction to his fuddled brain -- "Kiss your partner."

Childish, stupid, his remaining, uneasy rationality had scorned; even as, obedient to the shared ethic, the mob madness, he pursued Ray Doyle around the room to the cheers and jeers of colleagues and ran him down at last.

He would never forget it, that first heart-stopping moment of seizing him, the warmth and familiar yet unfamiliar sense of Ray close to him, held tight in Bodie's stronger arms; the initial struggle, and then Doyle submitting gracefully to the rules; laughing, wary eyes looking up at him, just before Bodie's searching mouth found his.

Although he had relived it many times in fantasy since, Bodie couldn't now remember just how it felt, to kiss Ray Doyle. He did know that it had been wonderful, the nicest thing he'd ever done, and when, needing breath, he'd opened his eyes to find Doyle's drowsily shut, an expression of concentrated ecstasy on his face, he felt a deep dive of his guts as if something momentous had happened. It was like a blow to the stomach. Or a dazzling light shone directly in his eyes. Or the dizzying rush of a drug-induced high spreading out along his nerves.

No blow, no dazzle, no drug. Just Ray Doyle, head tipped back, clearly and uninhibitedly set alight by the touch of his, Bodie's mouth.

He had, he supposed, expected one of two things, on that strange night when they were frozen together in a moment of stilled-time amid the jeering and the catcalls and the already fading interest as frenzied activity was renewed elsewhere in the room.

Either Doyle would view him henceforth with apprehension, distrust, a kind of transferred unease; or everything would come right for them at that very moment, they would walk off together, to resolve their innate loneliness and their need in one another.

In the event, however, neither alternative had happened.

Doyle had opened his eyes, met Bodie's for one brief, telling moment, his hands still holding onto Bodie's shirt. Some message had passed between them, and Bodie was no longer sure he knew what it had been. Then he had let go, stepped back, forcing Bodie to do the same; and he was left empty-handed in the tatters of his own desire. They had gone on with the party, acted quite normally and had done so ever since, no contention or even tension between them; everything as it always had been.

But Bodie couldn't forget it. Whether Doyle remembered as he did, he couldn't tell. He stared at him now, brooding eyes searching his face.

Doyle leant towards him, slowly, as if mesmerised; the musky tang of warmed sun-oil hit Bodie's senses. Doyle made as if to say something; changed his mind. "Swim," he said succinctly, and sprang to his feet.

They picked their way over soft hot sand, then through shingle that made Bodie wince and pick his feet up in a hurry, only wince anew when they made contact once more with the sharp pebbles. Then, just when he thought he couldn't stand it any longer, there was the blessed relief of firm, cool damp sand, and finally the icy cold shock of the water rushing up to lick at his toes and retreating.

It felt good on his abused soles. Bloody British seaside, he thought grimly to himself, not for the first time, and advanced further into the sea. Doyle, a few seconds behind him, yelped with shock. Bodie, now with the water half-way up his legs, his calves beginning to ache with the chill of the water while his ankles had gone numb, turned to investigate. "Okay?"

"Bloody cold," said Doyle through chattering teeth. He lifted one foot out, then the other, arms wrapped around skinny ribs, bottom lip caught between his teeth. He looked absurdly mournful. Fastidiously, he kicked out one leg to disentangle some slimy green seaweed which had attached itself. Bodie decided instantly to be brave in contrast. He grinned, waded purposefully out thigh-deep, braced himself, and dived forward.

After the first agonising second or so it really wasn't too bad. He swam vigorously around for a while, avoiding the beachball being chucked around nearby by a group of mindless army types; a passing inflatable powerboat sent a rippling wash over his head. When he turned for shore, it was to see Doyle still standing there, only having progressed as far as his knees. Goose bumps were standing up all over him, the cool breeze lifting his hair. He looked perished. Bodie wanted to wrap him up and cuddle him back to warmth.

He didn't. He grinned, standing up, and waded towards him.

Doyle saw the intention in wicked blue eyes, began a wary retreat watching Bodie all the while, the cross-surge of the waves against his calves threatening to disorient him. "Just you dare," he warned, but Bodie was quicker. Cold and dripping, he launched himself against Doyle, locked his arms around his waist -- Doyle so warm against his cool skin -- and they fell heavily together with a resounding splash into three feet of salty water.

When he surfaced, spluttering and shaken, there was murder in Doyle's eye. He advanced menacingly on Bodie who was laughing, jumped him. Bodie was ready to put up a fight and they wrestled together for a while in a struggle that suddenly turned amicable, now Doyle was over the outrage and the first shock of the cold. They raced each other, arm over arm; and one of the mindless marines, watching them, threw the beach ball in a fit of macho needling so it bounced off Doyle's golliwog head; Doyle promptly kidnapped it and threw it to Bodie. They had a good game of it, tossing it serenely back and forth, while the marines launched unsuccessful raids to rescue it. Finally tiring of the game, and getting numb, Doyle threw it some distance away and left the tattooed hunks to swim for it.

"Gettin' out," he said to Bodie.


Doyle nodded and rose out of the water, a skinny male Venus arising from the foam, at least to Bodie's eye. Bodie followed him up the beach, eyes dwelling on the clench and flex of Doyle's buttocks beneath the shiny black nylon; he was cold himself now and glad to be out in the heat of the sun. They passed the two girls, who, Bodie noticed, looked Ray up and down, and then himself; he ignored it and hoped Doyle wasn't tempted. He wanted him all to himself, today.

He was gritty with sand, it was everywhere. He rubbed himself down briskly as his partner did the same, then stretched out on his back and let the hot sun gradually revive his cold-numbed nerves. His hand was touching Doyle's who was lying next to him; a casual, accidental contact and Doyle didn't move away.

"Fancy a cuppa?" Bodie asked, seeing that Doyle still looked chilly; he twisted his head and saw a hot-dog emporium not too far away.

Doyle made a barely perceptible motion of his head. "Nah." He sounded drowsy.

Bodie lifted his head to look at him, then rolled onto his stomach so he could do it more easily. Eyes closed, wet-spiked lashes lying on the round cheek; each heavy brown curl trailing its own rivulet of moisture across his temple. Bodie's gaze travelled on down the bare throat -- no chain today, wonder why not? -- and the dark chest hair, a delicate understated pattern of masculinity. The finely muscled arms, one at his side, fingers stilled in warm sand; the other lying carelessly across his flat belly; the great veins of an athlete standing out in stark blue relief on the tender white skin of his inner arm. One knee was bent outwards, almost touching Bodie's thigh as he leant up on one hand, completing his careful, fascinating study of Doyle's body; his eyes returned to his partner's face. Bodie, who was used to it, tried to view it as a stranger might. It was an odd face: odd in the sense that taken feature by feature it was flawed practically everywhere one looked; and in that viewed as a whole it had a perverse haunting beauty.

But Bodie wasn't a stranger. And he found Doyle faultless; everything about him was attractive.

Realising what was happening he drew back, conscious of his thudding, racing heart, the tight knot of yearning in his guts. He unclenched one hand, looked at his sweaty palm, trying to calm himself. God, but this was getting beyond a joke.

Only it never had been a joke.

He meant, of course, that it was getting beyond the point where he would keep it in the realm of fantasy, a bit of illicit spice to colour his erotic dreamworld. He was beginning to want -- too much -- to make it real.

What was it about him, he thought, looking down into Doyle's sleeping face, its refined cherubic look belying the cruel hard streak that was as much a part of Doyle as the conviction in his own ideals, and was perhaps the same thing. Why him?

Because we're partners, because we had to learn to be close, however little we liked it. Couldn't stay alive any other way. And because he's smaller than I am, and because his beauty melts me inside, and because despite all that he's such a paradox, god Bodie, he's not the one who needs wrapping up and protecting, not him with his calm self-assurance and his vicious toughness and his competence at everything he tries and his determination and his quick wits...

The hot sun was beating down. Bodie was sweating freely; but it wasn't just the warmth. He threw himself violently onto his stomach, rested his head on his arm, staring at the blank grey wall ahead; shutting out all the background noise, the far-off wash of the sea, the harsh seagull squeals, the shouts of frolicking bathers.

Wouldn't you just know it would happen like this.

He could handle it when it was just a flicker of sexual attraction, a frisson of dark pleasure unlikely to be fulfilled, but just-possible-enough to make it fun.

But now it was more than that. Much, much more.

Restless, he turned his head, ear pillowed on his upper arm, so he could watch Doyle again. So deeply asleep... Doyle could sleep through anything, when he wanted to, bar the barest bleep from his R/T, the first pre-ringing ting of the phone, signals he was trained to recognise and to react instantly to. Aching inside, knowing he was taking a risk but unable to stop himself, Bodie edged closer so his face was a millimetre from Doyle's bare upper arm. The scent of him arose, alien and familiar and heady with the added warm musk of sunoil mingling with his sweat.

It was irresistible. Zeus himself, who had succumbed to the charms of the young Ganymede, would certainly have swept off this sleeping Doyle without a passing thought; and Bodie was only too mortal.

He let his lips brush over the warm scented skin of Doyle's arm, tracing gently over the soft downy hair; and then his mouth parted and he let his tongue glide there, playing over a centimetre of salty silken skin.

The taste of him filled Bodie's senses; heart, body and soul cried out for more. No chance. He'd risked too much already. Heart pounding, he pulled away a little, and braced his arms to push himself up.

He knew Doyle was awake the instant he moved.

Every muscle tensed, he raised himself and stared down into Doyle's wide-awake face, into his eyes: pale green ice collared around narrowed pinpoints of black. Bodie waited, frozen. What had he done?

Nothing. Everything. A snatched moment of self-indulgence; Doyle might read it any way.

He was sweating, drops of it running into his eyes. He made no move to brush it away. Then, unbelievably, Doyle's face changed; a kind of weary tenderness there. He reached out, touched Bodie, very briefly.

"What do you want, Bodie?" he whispered, fiercely; and the quiet intense words echoed around them. "Tell me..."

Bodie's throat was tight with tension; he opened his mouth to speak but no words came out. He just stared at Doyle dumbly. Doyle shook his head, looked down at the sand. "Should've stayed at home today... I knew it, but I..." He ran out of words, his face absorbed, looking inward.

Should have stayed at home? Bodie was trembling inside with strangeness and confusion. "You wishing you hadn't come?" he tested, cautiously. Funny how old his voice sounded...

Doyle's head came up. He stared at Bodie, then briefly glanced around at the throng of people covering the beach, seeming now to pen them in, halt and frustrate any possible revelation. "You know what I mean," he only said, and held Bodie's eyes for a long moment before his lashes swept down once more.

Bodie couldn't have been more stunned if the sun had suddenly tumbled from the sky and landed with a splash and a fizzle in the ocean. His heart was pounding again, the veins in his wrist throbbing as he stared at them, struggling to cope with the giddy rush of sensations.

Doyle slanted a glance up at him. "Why didn't you say something before," he muttered urgently, "oh Bodie, for godsake why--"

He broke off, knowing the answer only too well. Bodie had held off, as he had, because it wasn't the easiest thing to admit; one's own judgement a precarious thing when the emotions were so involved, and knowing that if one was wrong, the penalty was just too high a price to risk the gamble. He had known for a long time that he and Bodie were inextricably bound up in one another, he couldn't remember the exact moment the knowledge had hit him, it was more a gradual growing of awareness that they belonged together, that there would never be a time when they would be forever apart. He knew Bodie knew it too.

But that didn't necessarily need to mean sex.

Unless they wanted it to.

He'd known he did ever since Bodie had chased him, wrapped him up in strong arms and kissed him, not in fantasy but in reality. But he might never have known for sure that Bodie did too, had it not been for the chance that had woken him from sleep moments -- a lifetime -- ago, to find Bodie surreptitiously nuzzling his arm, an expression of such helpless, loving confusion on his face it melted Doyle's heart...

So now they both knew. And here they were, seventy miles from home surrounded by crowds; it couldn't have happened in a worse place. He lifted his head and studied Bodie's dear, goodlooking face -- now his, for the asking. That was the hardest thing, not to be allowed one touch, just one touch to say all he was feeling, had felt for months...

He rolled onto his stomach, pressed his aching groin into the sand -- oh god, he hoped Bodie didn't think it was just sex, that was part of what he had to offer but he felt so very much more and he hoped Bodie knew it --

Bodie also rolled onto his stomach, so they were lying as close as possible, faces turned together, warm breath mingling. Doyle moved his hand so it was lying alongside Bodie's thigh; he stroked him very gently, a tiny fingertip touch tracing minute circles. They spoke in whispered murmurs, like kids sharing secrets.

"We've wasted so much bloody time..."

"When did you first--?"

"Was when you got knifed, I reckon... was so mad with you..."

"Long ago as that? Wish I'd known..."

"An' you?"

"Moment I saw you, sunshine."

"My mouth's dry..."

"That's passion, that is."

"Nerves, more like... Don't care what it is, it needs rectifyin'."

Reluctant to disturb the new-found intimacy, which had settled over them like a warm cloud, isolating them from the rest of humanity, but desperate for a drink, Doyle rubbed his eyes, rolled over and sat up. He allowed himself a quick affectionate squeeze of Bodie's shoulder, and noticed something. "You're gettin' burnt. Better get up, move around a bit, we don't want you all sore."

Bodie glanced unconcernedly down at hot red skin. "Who cares?" He got up, too, shaking off sand.

"You will," Doyle said softly, "when I get you back home --"

He had that funny, faraway look in his eyes. Bodie took a deep shuddering breath, not quite believing all this. He picked up his bag. Now that they were standing up, on their feet moving across the sand doing normal things -- they rinsed off the sand, salt and sweat under a rusty shower head positioned at the walkway up off the beach -- he felt the magic of moments before receding behind a facade of routineness. As they stood at the counter of the tea-place drinking warm coke from cans, Bodie was seized with a terrible fear that maybe it hadn't been real, maybe it had just been a fantasy engendered by too much sun and an excitable imagination; or if it was true, maybe Doyle would come to his senses, change his mind...

He stared at Doyle who was posed artistically propping up the counter, absently noting the way his partner's nose was wrinkling slightly at the pervasive odour of greasy fried onions; in desperation.

Doyle saw the look, divined its cause with no trouble. "It's all right, Bodie," he said clearly, not stopping to check whether anyone might be listening, for they had not been privy to the intense exchange of emotion, the cataclysmic shift in their lifestyles that had taken place. Only Bodie would know what he meant. "It's forever. Now, or tonight, or next week; makes no difference."

Bodie nodded, and looked away before he drowned in green fire, out and along the beach.

Bodie always maintained afterwards that sex had been the last thing on his mind; that a lot had happened very fast and all he'd had in mind was that they needed very badly to be close, and alone, even if only for a few moments --

His hand went out to Doyle, checked and then continued, because the last thing he wanted was for the new awareness between them to create awkwardness, and he patted Doyle's arm to get his attention. "Look." He pointed to the far-off row of dilapidated beach-huts he'd been about to set off for earlier. From here it could be seen that they were hugging the sea-wall around an outcrop of rocks, and that the beach in front of them was deserted, probably because it was extremely stony, with an unpleasing aspect.

Doyle followed his gaze, understood instantly. He threw his empty can towards a litterbin where it fell with a clatter, wiped his mouth with the back of his hand.

"Let's go."

On arrival, it was even plainer why this part of the beach was empty, the shingle adorned with smelly rubbish, rotting seaweed, oilcans, old rope. There was a large red-lettered sign, too: "Bathing is DANGEROUS From This Point." The huts looked as if they hadn't been used in years; but they didn't care, didn't notice. They were young, and newly in love.

Bodie chose the end cabin, latched the door shut behind them. The cubicle had a wooden floor, close-slatted wooden walls, and a small cracked mirror on one of them. It was about four feet square, plenty of room for one person, or two who didn't mind being very close. The confinement made awkwardness vanish, and Bodie's arms went instantly around Doyle, hugging him desperately close. Doyle hugged him back, starved of touch, turning his face over and over against Bodie's cheek, his eyes closed. Bodie's hands stroked up and down Doyle's bare warm skin, long tremulous caresses, their groins thrusting urgently together. Their mouths met to kiss; hard and demanding, everything suddenly so frenzied, dizzingly fast and sweet and desperate...

They were both hard, pressing together in a contact more painful than satisfying. On a hissing, indrawn breath Bodie broke the kiss, slipping his hands down Doyle's back, inside his damp trunks, held cool damp buttocks. He squeezed them, then ran his fingers down the cleft, burying his hot face in Doyle's shoulder, his eyes screwed shut as the need in him welled to an ache of unbearable longing. This wasn't enough, but he knew what to do, what would assuage it. "Please, Ray," he murmured, "oh, please..." and his fingertips trailed over the entrance to Doyle's body, brushed away a grain of sand there, returned to play with it gently.

At first, Doyle had stiffened slightly, unused to the intimacy of the touch, the invasion of his most guarded privacy, but he forgot prudishness when his wanton body betrayed his hesitation, responded instantly to the exciting thrills of pleasure Bodie's gentle finger was giving him. He left the cool analytical part of his mind behind, stopped thinking, sagged against Bodie, spreading his thighs to give him greater access.

Bodie slipped one hand down the front of his trunks to squeeze his throbbing erection, tenderly cradle his balls, the other still gently sliding up and down between his buttocks. "Please," he whispered again into Doyle's ear, "Wanna fuck you -- need you--"

Doyle was too far gone for more than a moment's hesitation. No woman had ever touched him like this, known so surely how to turn him on, spoken to him with such harsh urgency. He nodded once, tightly, and turned to the wall, bracing his hands against it, his legs spread. Bodie wrenched down the slip of damp black nylon and Doyle lifted his feet in turn, kicked the trunks impatiently away. "You bring the Delial?" he tossed over his shoulder tersely.

Bodie was rapt in his concentration on the view of Doyle thus presented to him, spreadeagled against the wall, the bare white buttocks in stark contrast to the tanned skin elsewhere an incitement to rape, to plunder the cool naked body offered to him. It took a moment for Doyle's query to sink in.

"Sun oil," repeated Doyle through gritted teeth. "Don't want to hurt me, do you?"

Hurt him? Never. Bodie caught on, grabbed for the bag, fumbled around in it with shaking fingers, finally disentangled the greasy warm plastic bottle from the encumbering folds of a damp towel. He had a struggle with the top, and shot out far too much over his fingers. With a reverence approaching worship he rubbed it in between Doyle's buttocks, squirted some more on direct from the bottle for good measure; the scent of it arose like a light aromatic cloud.

Doyle made a sound that was half-laugh, half-groan; the warm oil on his balls and between his legs was a ticklish sensation. "You must have used half the fuckin' bottle on me. You'll slip out, mate..."

"Nah," Bodie assured him, raising a hand to brush sweat out of his eyes; he was breathing hard. "It'll be okay, just relax..."

Doyle closed his eyes, pressed his palms into the wall, and bit his lip, bracing himself. He felt the other man's warm solidity push against his back, Bodie's knees pressing into the backs of his... so good, safe... and warm lips trailing over his neck and shoulders. Hands were holding his hips, and he could feel the thick snub lance of Bodie's arousal rubbing up and down between the cheeks of his ass. He held his breath, prepared for pain although the slippery point of flesh gliding over his sensitive sphincter was giving him glorious sensations in the area -- god, whyever did we wait so long --

Then Bodie, breathing heavily in his ear with excitement, took one hand from Doyle's hip, and used it to guide himself gently into the other man's body. A little groan escaped him as he eased into the hot moist channel -- it felt so bloody marvellous... and so easy, no resistance, Ray rocking back against him, his beautiful welcoming body gripping onto him smoothly, tightly.

"Christ, but you're fuckin' wonderful. You are..." he murmured, scarcely conscious of what he was saying. Head turned sideways, resting on Doyle's shoulder so he could nuzzle his neck, he slipped one hand gently around him, stroking blindly with trembling fingers over the damp skin of hip, belly, finally seeking out Doyle's semi-erect penis, squeezing it until it began to fill out and lengthen in his hand. "I love you, Ray, love you so much..."

Doyle was totally relaxed now, thighs widely parted, forehead pressed into rough wood, concentrating on the strange sensations of being filled; and Bodie thrust into him and withdrew, thrust and pulled back, with a smooth sucking movement that was darkly, sweetly erotic. Yeah, it felt good, the Greeks had it right, sodomy was fun; and Bodie's subtle hand was rubbing his cock rhythmically all the time. He went with it. He was suddenly conscious of an overwhelming surprise, as the twin sensations spread, touched, gathered together in one vast oncoming rush --

"Oh god, Bodie," he sighed, "you're gonna make me come, it's too -- oh, christ --"

He was half-laughing, half-weeping as he flooded with orgasm, thighs shuddering, pulse over pulse into Bodie's tight hand, spilling over and onto the wall; and his muscles clenched tight around Bodie who moaned deep in his throat and clutched Doyle suddenly hard back against him as he poured out his own warm seed deep within Doyle's guts.

Doyle slumped against the wall, felt Bodie slip from him. His thighs were still trembling. Bodie turned him, held him, covering him with kisses which he weakly returned, breathless and still laughing.

Bodie bore them both gently to the floor, leaning back against the wall, wrapped him up tight in a tangle of warm oily limbs, murmured into his hair with a voice still ragged, "What're you cackling about? Wasn't meant to be funny."

"It's hysteria --"

Doyle tucked his head under Bodie's chin, snuggled close against the strong body. He was beginning to be aware that it was very hot, very stuffy in the tiny cubicle. It reeked, too -- sex and sunoil.

"Look at me."

Obedient, he lifted his head and looked up into Bodie's sweat-streaked face into very serious deep-blue eyes that flooded with sudden warmth as they surveyed him in return. Doyle, thoroughly fucked and all spent-out, looked very cute, cuddled up against Bodie's chest as he was.

"Okay?" was all he asked, softly.

"No," said Doyle, and as Bodie lifted an eyebrow in enquiry, a little worried frown between his temples, he punched him lightly on the belly, Bodie's hard muscles tensing automatically to meet the blow. "Of course it wasn't okay. It was bloody -- fantastic -- only I can't find words to say how it was, and as soon as I get my strength back I'll show you, instead."

Bodie, with proud new proprietorship, touched his limp sticky genitals delicately. "How long?" he asked thoughtfully.

Doyle began to respond promptly: "Seven in--" and was forced to shut up as Bodie kissed him forcefully into silence. They were in a mad mood, euphoric and tired and blissfully happy.

But they had to pick up the threads of normality sometime. Doyle finally pushed himself away from Bodie's idly wandering hands, ran his fingers through his tangled sandy curls. "God, we're disgustin'," he said, eyeing Bodie with totally fallacious distaste -- actually, Doyle quite fancied him the way he was now -- "Filthy. If Cowley could see us now--"

That was a sobering thought all right. Not wanting to give it serious attention right now, Bodie said gloomily, "'E probably can. Got X-ray vision, he has. Not to mention clairvoyance. Probably making a note in the file right now, his lips pursed up in that mean little scowl -- 'On this day, regrettably agent 3.7 saw fit to screw 4.5 through the wall on the seafront at Sexmouth' --"

"Nah, it'll be okay." Doyle said no more, gathering up their discarded swim-trunks, pulling his on, wincing as the gritty material rubbed over his tender areas. "We need a shower."

"Stating the obvious, as usual? That's the copper in you coming out, that is, Doyle." Bodie unlatched the door, stuck his head cautiously out. "All clear," he announced: and blinking a little in the sudden light the two weary CI5 agents stumbled out into a wave of heated air. They walked along the front and threw themselves into the sea.

There was still the rest of the day to see out; no need to cut it short. Might as well avail themselves of the rest of the delights the seaside had to offer. "How about a pub lunch?" suggested Bodie as they bounded up the steps, Doyle a little stiff-legged. He nodded towards a likely place, named vaguely appropriately, "The Bull and Spear."

Doyle assented. "Yeah, okay. But we better stick to orange juice."

Bodie gave him a glance of non-comprehension; the anticipation of a pint or so of cool lager had been beginning to form almost imperceptibly in his mind.

Doyle elaborated, "I think I've been well-oiled quite enough for one day --"

Upon which dreadful pun Bodie thumped him, and the two men walked off to begin the rest of their lives. Together.

-- THE END --