Life Goes On
Ray squirmed a little in his chair and looked around for Buck. The dog was curled up near the hearth, head on paws, eyes alert and watching. At Ray's whispered call, he got up and trotted over, settling on his haunches, head on Ray's knee.
"Good boy." Ray scratched behind the soft ears, in the place Buck liked best. It was so... comfortable doing this. Ray thought maybe he liked it as much as Buck did. "Bodie?"
"I've got a problem."
Bodie looked up from the book he was reading. Ray was curled in the easy chair, eyes on his fingers where they were tangled in Buck's fur. His brow was furrowed.
"What kind of problem, sweetheart. Can I solve it?"
"Nooo, I don't think so. Think I have to do it myself, and I don't want to. Not really. But it's part of my job, so I have to do it."
Bodie gave his head a small shake. Ray's reasoning was a bit convoluted sometimes. "What's 'it', then?"
"Talk to Dr McFarlaine." Ray finally looked at him, his mouth pursed.
"It's Marriott. I think he's lost his nerve, and I need to know what Dr McFarlaine thinks since Marriott finished his tests yesterday."
"What makes you think Marriott's lost his nerve?" Bodie asked carefully.
Ray straightened up in his chair and began to explain. "Do you remember when he fell from the fire escape last month and pulled some muscles in his leg? He's been coming in for me to massage it and help him with exercises. Only he should have been back out on the street a fortnight ago, while I was at the farm with Mum ..." He paused, then hurried on. "...but he's still coming in. Says it still hurts and maybe he should be doing a desk job now. He says it like he doesn't want to, but why else would he keep coming back?"
"Maybe he fancies you?" Bodie teased.
"Bodie. I'm being serious now."
"Yes, you are. I'm sorry, Ray." Bodie erased the smile from his face. "Do you want me to talk to McFarlaine?"
"Yes. No." Ray frowned. "It's my job, Bodie. I have to do it. I just don't want to. What if he doesn't believe me? Or maybe I'm wrong.
"Do you really think you're wrong?"
"Then go and talk to him. If he doesn't believe you or treats you with disrespect, then you come to me or Mr Cowley, or Murphy if we're not around, and we'll have a meeting. An agent losing his nerve is a very serious matter and not something we want to ignore. Marriott's a good man. I'd hate to force him back out on the street just to see him get himself killed."
"I might be wrong."
"Yes, you might." Ray's eyebrows shot up at that, and Bodie quickly explained. "I trust your judgement, but you're not infallible."
"Means never making mistakes."
"Oh." The new word was carefully placed in his brain. "So if I'm not infallible then I still make mistakes."
"Yep. In fact, you once told me the only person who's infallible is the pope. Do you remember?"
"No." He looked sad. "When was that?"
"After an Israeli Prime Minister was kidnapped and we had to find him. Rode around on the buses for hours, we did, complaining all the way."
"Did we find him?"
"We certainly did. We burst into the house they were using, guns blazing. Mr Cowley was quite pleased with us. Until you asked him about our overtime pay." He looked back at Ray, the smile on his face fading as he saw it wasn't returned. "Ray?"
"I wish I could remember. I forgot so much about when I was little with Mum, and now she's not here to remind me of stuff. It's not fair." Ray said angrily. "I can't remember lots of things with you, and I'm afraid" He broke off whatever he was going to say as his voice started to wobble. At his feet, Buck whined softly, picking up on the mood.
Bodie got off the settee and walked over to Ray's chair, perching on the arm. He reached out and gently tugged a curl before rubbing the back of his hand down a broken cheekbone. "You're afraid?" He nudged.
"You'll die, too," Ray whispered softly.
"I'll die some day, Ray; so will you," Bodie reminded him, his fingers moving down to massage the base of a slender but tense neck. He wanted to get Ray's mind off death.
"I know. But what if you die before I remember?"
Bodie was totally confused now. "Remember what, Ray?"
"Everything we used to do before I crashed my car."
Christ. Bodie's fingers travelled through the curls on Ray's head, gently rubbing his scalp. "Those memories are all gone, sweetheart. They were destroyed when your brain bled. Remember Dr Haynes explaining all that to us?"
"Ye-es. But sometimes I remember stuff and maybe..." his voice trailed off. "This is being foolish, isn't it?"
"No, it's being...regretful, maybe. Or it's wishful thinking." Bodie brushed the hair off Doyle's forehead and kissed the scar left from the first accident. "It'll never be the same as it was, Ray. You know that."
"Yes, but...I love you, Bodie." He leaned his head back against Bodie's chest.
"And?" Ray arched his neck back, the better to see Bodie's face.
"And?" Tired, Bodie looked down to see green eyes watching him. "Oh. I love you, too."
"Bodie?" Ray's long arms reached up and his hands pulled Bodie's head down.
"I'm knackered, poppet." Bodie said when his mouth was released.
"Do you want to go to bed?"
Bodie sighed. "Yes."
"All right." If that's what Bodie wanted, it was fine with Ray. He got up out of his chair, gave Buck a final pat on the head and walked off to the loo.
Bodie was already in bed when Ray finished his ablutions. Quickly removing his clothes, he crawled in next to Bodie, nuzzling his ear, and sliding his hand down towards Bodie's genitals.
A steely hand grabbed his, stopping him.
Ray stilled immediately. "Bodie? What did I do?"
"Nothing. I had a busy day today, that's all, and I could do with a good night's sleep. So could you. Sleep. It's what people do when they're tired." Bodie turned on his side to face Ray and from somewhere summoned up what he hoped was a reassuring smile.
"You don't want to make love?"
Bodie grappled with a simple way to explain that he just didn't feel like sex at this particular moment. There wasn't one. He settled for repeating that he was exhausted.
Ray examined Bodie's face, then carefully turned over and moved closer to his edge of the bed. He lay without moving for several minutes, but when Bodie didn't say anything more, turned back around. Bodie was asleep. Maybe Ray really hadn't done anything wrong, then. Maybe Bodie really was just tired.
Carefully Ray inched across the bed until he was close enough to rest his forehead against Bodie's shoulder. Gently patting Bodie's arm, Ray closed his eyes.
The clock showed 3:00 am when shouts woke Bodie. His eyes snapped open, and he moved just in time to evade Ray's flailing arms. He grabbed a wrist as it flew past his nose. At the side of the bed, Buck was barking.
"No!" Ray's eyes were scrunched shut, and his hair was matted in sweaty ringlets against his forehead and neck.
"Stop it, Buck. Wake up. Ray." Bodie leaned over the writhing body, stilling it by sheer weight. Then, as confused green eyes opened, he said quietly, "It's all right, poppet. You're all right. Buck, shut up."
"It's all right." Thankfully Buck had subsided, his snout resting on the bed, brown eyes watching the two men.
"I know, sweetheart. You're all right now. You were dreaming."
"Drea... It was a dream? Mum?"
"No, that's real."
"Bodie." Ray's eyes filled and the tears overflowed.
Bodie held him tight, letting him cry. It was better if he let it out. It was better if they both did. Bodie felt his own throat begin to close up. He didn't know which was more painful, the ache he felt missing Irene, or the hurt that hit him in the gut each time Ray cried.
Eventually Ray quieted down and went back to sleep. What had caused this? The dread of confronting McFarlaine? Their talk just before bed? Normal grief? The thoughts buzzing around in his head kept Bodie from falling straight back to sleep. When the alarm went off later that morning, he felt as though he'd spent the night drinking and was now being punished. Ray was curled against his side, one leg drawn up over Bodie's thighs, their heads sharing the pillow. As Bodie moved, Ray shifted to bury his head under the covers.
"Up Ray. Work." Bodie tugged the blankets down.
"Ungh." Ray's hand reached out, face burrowing into the pillow, fingers searching blindly for the blanket Bodie was holding just out of reach.
"That certainly made sense." Bodie commented as Ray and turned and opened one eye to glare up at him. The skin around both eyes was still swollen and bruised-looking. "Come on, Ray, shift yourself."
"I am." Ray didn't move.
"Ray." Bodie's head hurt and he was not in the mood to play games. A big sigh wafted out from under the tent Bodie'd created.
"All right." Ray sat up, scowling. He rubbed his eyes and sniffed. "'M all stuffed up."
"Go and have a shower. That should help."
Ray looked at him curiously, a small worry beginning to show in his features. "Bodie? Are you all right?"
Bodie ran a hand through his short hair. "I've got a terrific headache, Ray. Go and have your shower and I'll make us breakfast. I'll probably feel better after I've had something to eat."
"I'll make breakfast if you want to have a shower first," Ray offered. He wasn't sure what to make of this. Bodie didn't have headaches, and he was never tired, and he didn't ever not want to make love.
"If you want." Bodie took a deep breath, and tried again. "That would be great, Ray, thanks."
"I'll go do it now, then," Ray said quietly, still confused, and left the room. He wasn't any clearer on what was happening by the time Bodie finished his shower and walked into the kitchen.
All through breakfast, Ray kept giving Bodie puzzled glances, until Bodie finally put his fork down and asked straight out what was wrong.
"Nothing." Doyle buttered a slice of toast and stuffed half of it in his mouth.
"You're giving me odd looks, Ray. What is it?"
"Are you sick?"
Bodie reached for his own toast. "No. I didn't sleep well last night"
"I'm sorry," Ray interrupted.
"It's all right. You didn't have a nightmare deliberately, did you?" At Ray's vehement denial, Bodie continued. "Then don't worry. I'll be fine."
"I'll go and have my shower now," was Ray's only comment.
They were silent for most of the drive in to work. After dropping Buck off with Laurie and Peter, the problem of Marriott and McFarlaine came up again. Bodie reiterated his offer to talk with the man, but Doyle turned him down.
"'S my job, Bodie," he said as they walked from the car park. "I can do it."
"I know you can, Ray. I just worry sometimes, all right? Humour me." Bodie smiled briefly and ruffled his hair. Ray was giving him a questioning look. "What?"
"Humour you? Make fun of you?"
"No, but that's one of the meanings. It also means indulge." Bodie didn't explain further watching Ray puzzle through it.
"Let you have your way nicely." Two eyebrows lifted in satisfaction.
"Right." They were at the door to the surgery. "See you later."
"I'll ring you when I have a break. If I don't have to go and get supplies." Ray was quite proud of the factunderstandablythat he was the one who went for medical supplies when they needed stocking up. He had a driver of course, but he was in charge.
Bodie headed for his own office. As he passed by Cowley's rooms, Betty stuck her head out of the office.
"Bodie. Mr Cowley wants to see you."
He stopped in his tracks and turned into the office. "What about? Do you know?"
"Not me." She walked back to her desk. "How's Ray doing?"
"Holding up. Better than I expected really."
"I'm glad." She looked closely at him. "How are you?"
"Do I look that bad?" Bodie asked. "I miss her, too." His jaw clenched. "We'll make it though. I appreciate the concern, love."
He knocked lightly on the door to the inner office, opening it at the called response. Cowley was sitting at his desk, face buried in papers.
"Good morning, Bodie. Sit down. I just want to finish..." His voice trailed off as he continued reading. Bodie sat patiently.
Finally the old man looked up. "You know we have Tyler in York, working with that pseudo-IRA group. He's in with them now, and they're ready to buy, but they want to talk with the head man."
Bodie nodded, not sure what this had to do with him. "Has something happened?"
"Not that Tyler's aware of. They just seem overly suspicious, but he assures me he hasn't done anything untoward." Cowley took off his glasses and rubbed the bridge of his nose.
"When did you come in this morning, sir?" Bodie asked.
"I'll be leaving early, three-seven; don't fuss."
"Sir." Bodie shifted in his seat. "I assume you want me to take this on?"
"Very good, Bodie; there's hope for you yet. Tyler will be ringing us in fifteen minutes. You'll be the one to take the call."
"You don't know what they want." It was a statement, not a question.
"I'm afraid you'll have to rely on instinct. You at least know enough about arms and munitions to be convincing. Tyler has already laid out the proposition." Cowley handed a sheet of paper to Bodie showing the prices for the different articles they were "selling" to the terrorists.
Bodie whistled. "Shame it's not real. We could retire happily on this."
The intercom beeped and Betty's voice came over. "I've got Tyler on hold, sir."
"Put him through." The phone buzzed and Cowley picked it up, handing it over to Bodie.
"Sir, it's Tyler."
"What do you want, Tyler?" Bodie made his voice sound as cold as possible.
"We've just about completed the deal, sir, but they want to talk to my boss."
"Are they there with you now?"
"Then give them the phone, Tyler. I don't have all day." There was a rustling sound and a muffled thump, before a strange voice came over the receiver.
"Who is this?" Bodie demanded. Cowley frowned slightly at the tone in his voice and Bodie shook his head. He knew how to handle men like this.
"O'Malley. You want to sell to us."
"No," Bodie corrected. "You want to buy from us. There's a world of difference. My man's given you the prices for what you want. Do we have a problem?"
There was a pause before a new voice came on the line. "No, I like to know the man at the top."
"That's me. And you are?"
"Your counterpart. Mitchell. The prices are fair. We'll finish our business with your man here."
A click and the connection was severed.
Slowly Bodie replaced his own receiver and looked at the real "head man." Cowley re-wound the tape he'd set up to catch the conversation.
"I don't like this, sir."
"Nor do I."
"This isn't the way the arms business is run. Do we know who this Mitchell character is?" Bodie asked.
"No, this is the first I've heard of him. Tyler hadn't mentioned him before."
"So it's possible he only met him today. I'll have Records search out what they can on any terrorists named Mitchell." He paused, eyeing Cowley shrewdly. "I think you ought to go home, sir. You're looking a bit grey. I can ring the surgery and have our physio come and take a look at you"
"Och, that's enough out of you, three-seven. You've work to do. Best be about it. Don't be threatening me with doctors and physios." His voice was hard, but his mouth was smiling. "I began turning grey the day you and four-five first appeared in my office, and all your antics have only contributed to it. Now off with you."
"Sir." Bodie smiled and nodded his head slightly in tribute before rising and leaving the office. Everything he needed to do marched through his head as he went down the corridor, and he lined each duty up carefully in a row. First he needed to talk to Records, then....
"David?" Ray poked his head into the supply cupboard.
"Can I talk to you a minute?"
"You can talk to me for more than a minute, Ray. What's up?" Dr Henderson came out of the small room and perched one hip on the desk, giving Doyle his undivided attention.
"I need to... I think Marriott needs to come off the street. I need to talk to McFarlaine and see what he thinks. Marriott had his evaluation the other day, and I have to find out what he thinks."
"What McFarlaine thinks?"
"Yeah. Only, I wanted to tell you where I was going. Just in case... Just so you'd know." Ray worried the corner of the folder he was holding.
"Would you like me to come with you?"
Ray was momentarily silent before taking a deep breath and shaking his head. "No. I can do this on my own. I only wanted to tell you first."
"You're sure about Marriott?" David asked gently.
Ray didn't hesitate. "Yes."
"Then go and talk to McFarlaine."
"Right. I'm going now, unless you need me?"
"No, you go ahead. Oh, hang about. One of my teachers gave me some advice when I was nervous about talking to a group of people. She said, imagine them all sitting in front of you naked. It worked for me."
"Thanks." Ray smiled a little uncertainly.
Clutching the folder to his chest, Ray left the surgery and headed through the building to Dr Ross' office. He wished she were back. She always seemed to know exactly what he was trying to say, and she never called him stupid or retarded.
He paused on the way into the lift. He could wait for Dr Ross to come back. It would only be one more week maybe. The door tried to close on him and he stepped inside. No. Can't wait. What if Marriott went out on a job and got killed? It would be all Ray's fault because he was scared of the psychiatrist. Four-five wouldn't've been afraid.
That thought held him right up to the door of the psychiatry lab. He knocked.
Slowly he turned the knob and poked his head through the small opening. McFarlaine was sitting at Dr Ross' desk marking a piece of paper. After a moment he glanced up and frowned.
As he watched the eyebrows come together and the forehead wrinkle, Ray almost lost his courage. Catching his vanishing nerve, he went inside.
"Well?" McFarlaine's frown deepened.
"I need to talk to you about Marriott." Ray swallowed nervously and quickly sketched a cartoon McFarlaine in his head. Calmly he drew in a set of pointed fangs.
"Yes. He's been coming in for treatment on his leg. It should be better by now, but I think he's procsti.. .procvasti..."
"Yes." Ray blushed. "His tests show the leg is okay, but he says it still hurts and"
"And you think you have the capability to make a decision like that?" McFarlaine interrupted bluntly.
"Like what? Oh. Yes, I do." Large, pink donkey's ears sprouted from the cartoon head.
"I don't happen to think you do. You're not a qualified physiotherapist."
"But you're not qualified. Not allowed to work without a real doctor present. What exactly do you want with me?"
"I think he's lost his nerve." Doyle said, trying to calm the guts twisting into circles in his stomach. His imaginary artist placed drops of blood from fangs to chin.
"Since you gave him his evaluation the other day, I thought he might have said something that What?" Ray suddenly realised McFarlaine had was agreeing with him.
"I reached that conclusion on my own. I've already sent my report and recommendations to Cowley."
"Oh. Okay. That's fine, then." Ray turned to go, stopping as McFarlaine continued speaking.
"This doesn't mean I've changed my mind about you, Doyle. I still don't think you belong here. It's the worst case of favouritism I've ever seen. However I have my orders. And in this one instance we happen to agree."
Ray straightened his shoulders. "I'm not going to get into a row with you. Only, Mr Cowley and Dr Henderson are very clever men, and, if they thought there was anything wrong with me, they wouldn't have me here."
Calmly Ray opened the door and walked through, closing it quietly behind him. Bodie would be proud. He'd not backed down. He sauntered down the corridor, the smile plastered across his face still in place when he entered the surgery.
David Henderson looked up from his desk as the door squeaked. He smiled. "From the look on your face I'd say it went well."
"Yeah. He agreed with me. Only he didn't say it in a nice way." Ray's hands shook slightly and he quickly clasped them behind his back. "That's okay, 'cause he thought the same as me. He's put it in a report to Mr Cowley."
"Yeah. David?" Ray moved all the way into the room and perched on the edge of a chair next to the doctor, hands tightly clutching the metal arms.
"Should I... I think maybe I should do a report for Mr Cowley, too."
"You certainly should. A report from our physio backing up what McFarlaine says will help Mr Cowley a lot when he's trying to decide what to do about Marriott."
"I'll do it now," Ray decided. "Unless... Have you got anything you need me to do?"
"Not a thing right at this moment. I will need you to go for supplies this afternoon, though."
"Okay." Ray smiled, then jumped up from the chair and went to his own desk, where he very carefully began to type his report. He would have David double-check it when he was through to make sure everything was correct.
It was quiet in the room for the next hour or so, the tapping of the typewriter the only sound as Ray worked on his report. The dictionary was given a good workout as Ray went through it looking for proper spellings.
Bodie'd be proud of him when he heard what Ray had done today. So would his mu Oh. Ray's fingers stilled. He'd forgotten. For that little bit of time he'd forgotten his mum was dead. How could he?
There hadn't been a minute gone by in the past couple of weeks when he hadn't thought about her. So many things he wanted to tell her, to share with her. It just wasn't fair. It wasn't. She was the best Mum in the world.
Ray didn't want to cry in front of David, but he could feel his throat beginning to clog and his head start to hurt from keeping back the tears. He was going to miss his mum forever and ever. A tear broke free and began to slide down his cheek, followed quickly by more.
David stood behind him. Ray hadn't even heard him come over. A hand settled on his shoulder and he stiffened, taking a deep breath, trying to stop crying.
"What's wrong, Ray?"
"Missing Mum. I'm sorry."
"It's all right to cry."
"Men don't cry," Ray said thickly and sniffed loudly.
"They bloody well do. Who told you a daft thing like that?"
David pulled a chair over and sat down. "Look at me." He was silent until Ray'd turned his face towards him. "Your mum was killed, Ray. You loved her. It's all right to cry because she's dead, and you miss her."
"It hurts. In here." Ray slapped his chest. "Like I swallowed something really big, and it got stuck, and..." He stopped, chewing on his top lip. "It hurts," he whispered.
"Of course it does. This won't help you now, but it hurts less as time goes by."
Ray shook his head.
"Yes, it will. Trust me. You'll be able to remember the good times you all had, and you'll do it without crying."
Ray still wasn't convinced, but he didn't argue. Instead he took a deep breath, dug a tissue out of the box on his desk and blew his nose.
"I've finished the report." His head hurt. It always did when he cried. He rubbed at it irritably. "Will you look at it, please, before I give it to Mr Cowley? And can I ring up Bodie and see if he wants to have a break?"
"I'm sure your report is fine, but I'll glance through it for you. And of course you can go for a cuppa. You don't need to ask." David smiled gently at him.
"Ta." He reached for the phone and dialled Bodie's extension. David moved back to his desk as Ray waited for someone to pick up. Finally Murphy answered and Ray asked for Bodie.
"He's not here, Ray, he's in talking to Cow Hang about, here he is."
"Ray? What's up?" Bodie's voice. Ray was surprised at the feeling of relief that suddenly swept through him.
"Can you take a break ? I can meet you in the canteen."
"I could do with one about now. There're some things I need to talk to you about."
"What things, Bodie?" Ray could feel the worry start.
"Nothing bad. I'll see you in a few minutes, all right?"
"Yes," Ray said and slowly replaced the receiver. Nothing bad. Nothing to worry about. He wished his head would stop aching. Maybe he should let David check his blood pressure after he talked to Bodie.
He walked down the hail so slowly that Bodie beat him to the canteen. Bodie had something on his mind, and it wasn't good, not really. Ray could tell by the way Bodie got that little line between his eyes.
"What's the matter?" Ray cocked his head and raised his eyebrows.
"Nothing. You want anything with your tea?" That line grew a little deeper as Ray watched.
"No, just tea. Are you still tired? Bodie"
"It's all right, Ray. Find us a couple of chairs and I'll be over in a tick."
As Bodie turned away, Ray glanced around the room, searching for somewhere private. Tucked in the corner was a small table just then being vacated by Betty and one of the girls from the typing pool. Ray walked forward, and took possession of the two chairs.
He watched Bodie make his way across the floor, dodging chairs and people, his hands full of tea and what looked like a packet of shortbread. The little line between his eyes was still there as he sat down.
Ray didn't say anything as he stirred sugar into his tea, waiting for Bodie to start talking first. Half the shortbread was gone before Bodie finally sighed and looked up at Ray.
"You're very perceptive, my lad, aren't you?"
"Huh?" Ray was confused.
"Perceptive. Observant. Aware. You notice things around you. You can tell that something's bothering me," Bodie explained softly.
"Oh, that. It's just, I know you Bodie. I can tell when something's wrong, like this morning. You going to tell me or what?"
"Yeah. You know the case we have going up north with Tyler?"
"Yes. The one with the guns." Ray poured more hot water in his cup and motioned at Bodie's cup.
"No, thanks." Bodie shook his head. "It looks like I may have to get more involved in it than we expected. Mr Cowley called me into his office this morning because the man Tyler's been dealing with wanted to talk to the boss. Cowley chose me since I know about arms dealing. I'm afraid they may end up wanting to actually meet me."
Ray was silent for several minutes. Finally he sighed. "Means you'll have to go to York, doesn't it?"
"Yes, it probably will."
"I don't want you to go."
"I don't want to go either, Ray, but sometimes there's no choice in the matter.
"Like Mum had no choice." Ray glanced up to find Bodie's worried eyes fixed on him.
"Ray ... are you okay? Your eyes are swollen."
"Miss Mum," he answered in a whisper. "Y'know, Bodie, I talked to McFarlaine, then to David, and I forgot about Mum for a while. I didn't remember she was dead."
"That's a good thing, Ray."
"No, it's not. What if I forget, then don't remember? What if you go to York and don't come back, and I forget? What if"
"you haven't got a choice and don't come back and die..." His head was thumping, little men inside his skull were pounding, trying to break through. Ray closed his eyes, his hand moving up to rub against the old scar.
A strong hand grabbed hold of his wrist and Ray opened his eyes to see Bodie's face inches away from his own. The blue eyes were big and round and shiny and Ray thought perhaps Bodie was going to cry. That wasn't right. Bodie shouldn't have to cry because of him.
"What?" Ray lowered his arm, wanting to hold on tight to Bodie's hand, knowing they couldn't here in the canteen. His finger brushed softly against the callused palm as he reached over to pick up his cold tea. "Bodie."
"Is your head hurting you?"
There was silence for a few seconds. Then, Bodie said incredulously: "You're lying to me, Raymond Doyle. We never lie to each other."
"Let's go." Bodie stood up.
"To the surgery. I want David to take your blood pressure."
Ray's chair shook as Bodie jiggled the back of it. Slowly, Ray pushed away from the table and stood. "I'm fine, Bodie. You worry too much."
"We never lie to each other, Ray, never." Bodie's whisper was fierce.
Without answering, Ray headed towards the door, leaving Bodie to follow behind. Halfway down the hall, Ray stopped and turned around.
"I don't see why it has to be you going to York. Let someone else do it." His hand was halfway to his head, when he saw Bodie's eyes on him, and he lowered it. "It doesn't have to be you."
"Yes, it does. Ray, let's not have a row about this in the hall."
Bodie reached for his shoulder, but Ray jerked away. "I'm not arguing."
"Fine. Let's discuss this later." Bodie's eyes narrowed.
"I don't want you to go." Now he did rub his head, not caring that Bodie was watching.
"Later. You'll be gone later."
"I may not have to go. Ray. Please. Let's go and see David and get your blood pressure checked." The line between Bodie's eyebrows was very deep now.
"I'm fine," Ray mumbled, but continued down the hall towards the surgery.
David looked a little surprised when they walked in. He glanced from one to the other before looking searchingly into Ray's face.
"What's the matter? Is your head hurting you, Ray?" He stood up from the desk and walked over to them.
"I'm fine," Ray insisted.
"He needs his blood pressure checked," Bodie said at the same time.
"No, I don't."
"Why don't we check it anyway, just to make Bodie feel better," David suggested. Ray looked at him, suspicion darting around in his head adding to the pounding pain already there.
It was too hard to argue now. Too much to think about. Silently Ray held out his arm. David got out the equipment and efficiently took a reading. He exchanged a quick glance with Bodie, and Ray sighed. Without a word he went over and lay down on one of the beds, curling up onto his side. He kept his back to the room.
"It's 190 over 108," David said softly.
"Should he take a tablet?"
"I'd like to see if it goes down on its own first. Let him rest for a while. It's been a busy day for him, and he was thinking about his mother again."
"I suppose I didn't help much by telling him I may have to"
"I can hear you. I'm stupid, not deaf." Ray turned over and glared at the two men hunched together. "Stop talking like I'm not even here."
Bodie looked at him. There was no expression on his face. Even the worry line was gone from his forehead. Something stronger than pain flooded through Ray and it took him a moment to identify it. Fear. Though of what, he didn't know.
For a moment longer they watched each other, ignoring the doctor.
Bodie took two steps towards Ray, then stopped and spoke very softly. "I love you. I'll see you tonight." He turned and left the room.
Ray's eyes flickered to the doctor, then closed. "We aren't supposed to say that in public."
"I'm not 'public', Ray."
"I know." The tears were coming back. He could feel them building in his chest, working their way up into his throat. Why did they come that way instead of from behind his eyes? A cool hand touched his forehead and he lifted his lids. It was funny, now David had Bodie's little line between his eyes.
"I'm going to give you some paracetamol and then I want you to rest for a while," the doctor said.
"I'm all right, really. 'S only my head hurts a little bit," Ray protested.
"I know. You've had a lot of things happen to you in the last few weeks. That creates stress, which you know makes your head hurt, and raises your blood pressure which makes your head hurt even more," David collected the tablets and a glass of water as he spoke. "It's a no-win situation, mate. Make Bodie and me happy and have a short kip, all right?"
"Okay." Ray sat up, swallowing obediently before lying back down. Curling up on his side, he closed his eyes and waited for the headache to go away.
He had to tell Bodie he was sorry for lying to him. And for arguing with him. He didn't want Bodie to go. He wasn't going to say it, but he was very afraid something bad would happen if Bodie went. Bad things had been happening a lot lately.
He loved Bodie so much. More than anything in the whole world. Bodie was his world. Without Bodie there was nothing. How could he get cross at Bodie like that?
When he woke up Bodie was sitting quietly beside the bed, watching him.
"Wha' time is it?" Ray asked. He was feeling sort of fuzzy, but at least his head had stopped hurting.
"Half past four. Are you ready to go home?"
"Yeah. Bodie?" Ray stretched, pointing his toes till he heard his bones crack.
"I'm sorry." He sat up, eyes fixed on Bodie's face, hoping for a smile.
There was no smile, but at least that horribly blank expression was gone. Ray sat up, raising his arms high. More stretching. He was stiff from the earlier tension. One last deep breath and he slid off the bed. "Can we go home, now?"
"That's why I'm here."
Ray was quiet on the drive home. David had checked his blood pressure once more before they left, and it was back down to its normal level. Bodie sighed. He knew they were going to have another row when they got home; there was no way around it.
If Bodie had to go to York, then he'd have to go, whether Ray liked it or not. There really weren't any options here. And how anyone expected Bodie to do his job properly while worrying about Ray and how he was coping was a question no one had asked. Luckily. Right at this moment, he felt as if the entire universe was resting on his rapidly shrinking shoulders.
There were many timesand this was one of themwhen Bodie desperately wished Ray were still the ratty, cantankerous sod he'd been before his original accident. Doyle would rant and rave about the bloody job and bloody Cowley. He'd tell Cowley, and whoever was in hearing range, that Bodie wouldn't be going up to York without him, Ray Doyle, to watch Bodie's back
Then Doyle would take him home and, still howling against the unfairness of the job and general injustice the world over, would fuck him senseless. Afterwards, allowing the gentleness he hid from everyone but Bodie to emerge, they'd lie there together and say silly things that they'd deny had been spoken should someone ever hear them...
He slowly became aware of Ray's voice.
"Bodie?" Ray was looking at him, an expression of puzzlement and worry lining his face. Looking around them, Bodie saw the reason for the confusion. Without his being consciously aware of it, they'd arrived home and were stopped at the house. Bodie frowned.
"I was just thinking, Ray." Bodie wasn't exactly lying. He tried to distract the green eyes staring at him so intently. "You going to sit there all night or come in for some supper?"
Ray gazed at him sceptically before answering. "Supper. 'S my turn to cook."
"How about I cook tonight?" He really didn't want Ray pottering about in the kitchen after this afternoon.
"I'd like to, that's all." Bodie opened the car door and stepped out onto the drive.
"You hate cooking," Ray protested.
"I'll cook," Bodie said firmly and walked into the house. Ray shut his mouth with an audible click of his teeth and followed.
Supper consisted of Spaghetti a la Bodie, one of the few things he knew how to make safely. It wasn't until after the dishes were washed, dried and put away that Bodie again brought up the subject of his going north.
Ray refused to listen. He played with Buck, making the dog bark in excitement, and Bodie ground his teeth in frustration.
"Buck's getting bigger I think, don't you?" Ray carefully kept his eyes on the dog.
"Maybe. Ray, we"
A rubber ball flew past Bodie's nose, and Buck enthusiastically trod all over Bodie's legs as he followed after it.
"Sorry, Bodie. We'll go outside. Come on, Buck."
Before Bodie could draw another breath, man and dog were through the door and in the back garden.
Bodie sighed and closed his eyes. He hadn't felt so helpless in a long time. He wanted to tear something apart. He didn't know how to deal with the Ray who'd suddenly appeared after Irene's death, and if Irene were here, he'd ring her up and... If Irene were here, they wouldn't be having this problem to begin with.
Angrily, Bodie punched the wall, throwing himself onto the couch. Problem was Bodie was having the same contradictory feelings, which made it harder to deal with Ray.
The back door opened and shut quietly. Buck's toenails clattered across the kitchen lino followed slowly by Ray's squeaking trainers. Bodie moved his hand away as Buck's cold nose poked his palm.
"Come away, Buck," Ray said softly.
Bodie finally raised his head. Ray was tucked into the armchair, the dog at his feet. Both were gravely watching him.
Bodie said nothing, waiting.
Ray's gaze wandered around the room before settling again on Bodie. Still Bodie waited. Whatever happened next was up to Ray. Bodie was right out of ideas.
A heavy sigh split the silence. Bodie just looked at Ray.
Bodie settled back into the cushions, letting his chin drop back down and his eyes close. His normal urge to hold Ray, to shield him from any hurt was still strong. So was the pain he was feeling himself. He just could not let it go though. Not this time
Out of the darkness came a small voice. "I'm sorry, Bodie."
"For what exactly?"
"For not listening to you tonight after supper."
It was hard to keep his eyes closed, but Bodie decided it was much easier than actually looking at Ray while they worked this out.
"What do you think I was going to say tonight?"
"I don't know, but I'm still sorry."
"You're sorry, but you don't know why?"
"Ray, it's not my fault I might have to go to York. Do you think I want to go? Do you?"
"No," Ray said softly.
"Then why are you blaming me?"
"Bodie. Don't yell at me. I'm sorry." Ray reached blindly for Buck and began scratching the dog's head.
Bodie took a deep breath, trying to calm himself. He hadn't realised he'd been shouting. With an effort, he lowered the tone of his voice. "Why are you blaming me then?"
"I'm not, I... I'm just... I'm angry, Bodie!" Ray's own voice rose.
Now Bodie opened his eyes.
"At me? Why?"
"Not you. Because I can't do anything about what's happening. I shouldn't be angry and yell at you because I'm cross with myself. That's why I'm sorry." Ray's eyes filled. Blinking rapidly, he looked over at Bodie helplessly. "I hate not being able to make things okay. I don't like you having to go away and maybe get hurt, and I'm not there to help you. That's why I'm angry."
"It's the way life is, Ray," Bodie said tiredly.
"I know but..." He stopped, shoulders drooping. No one said anything for several moments and finally Ray stood up and headed for the bedroom.
"Come on, Buck. I'm tired, Bodie; I want to go to bed." He stopped near the door when Bodie made no comment. "Good night?"
"Good night, Ray."
Some time in the night, Ray woke up to a bed empty except for himself and Buck. Where was Bodie? For a moment he was disoriented, then he remembered the argument after dinner.
Bodie hadn't followed him to bed. Why? Had he made Bodie that angry? Was Bodie even still in the house? What if he'd left? What if he'd gone out and crashed the car like Mum? What if...
He jumped out of bed and hurried to the living room, not bothering to pull on his robe. Part way across the room he stopped. Bodie was asleep, half sitting and half lying on the couch, where Ray had left him several hours ago.
Receiving no answer, Ray walked over and gently shook Bodies shoulder. "Bodie. Wake up."
Bodie opened his eyes and sat up with a snort, looking around with a dazed expression on his face.
"Come to bed, Bodie; youll have an awfully stiff neck in the morning," Ray said softly. "Im sorry I made you cross. Just please come to bed."
"I didn't mean to stay out here." Bodie ignored Ray's second comment and stood, grimacing and rubbing his neck. "You're right, I'm already stiff."
"Do you want me to rub it for you?" Ray offered.
"No, I'll be all right." Bodie waited until Ray turned to go back to bed before following him.
Neither of them mentioned their disagreement when they got up that morning. Ray quietly set about preparing breakfast, more subdued than normal. He deliberately didn't bring up the possibility of Bodie's going to York. Maybe if he didn't think about it, it wouldn't happen. No, he knew better than that. That was being stupid. Something else he didn't say out loud.
Bodie was silent during the drive into HQ. He was really at his wits end with Ray. Here he was, wishing it were Doyle sitting next to him, yet when Ray got angry and yelled, Bodie turned around and wanted the complacent lover he'd been living with for the past couple years. He was so confused himself, it was no wonder he and Ray were having troubles now.
The day passed without Bodie being forced to head for York, a fact Bodie was extremely grateful for, and they left for home in better spirits than they'd arrived.
"I saw the paperwork changing Marriott's status went through today, "Bodie said. "Did you know he's going to be helping Macklin?"
"No. Is that what he wanted to do?" Ray asked, interest perking him up.
"Yeah. Mr Cowley gave him a choice between Jack Crane and Macklin."
"Good. He'll be much happier off the streets," Ray said as they pulled up to the house. Inside, Ray wondered around, apparently aimlessly, while Bodie threw together a meal of chips and frozen fish fingers. On Ray's third turn through the kitchen, Bodie finally asked what he was looking for.
"I'm looking for the post. I think I saw my bank statement come yesterday."
"Eat, then you can look for it. It should be with the newspaper," Bodie said.
"Yeah, but where's the paper?" Ray muttered as he helped himself to hot fish and chips. Bodie didn't bother answering, and as soon as Ray finished eating, he started his search again.
Bodie went into the living room and settled himself on the couch. A quick glance around the room showed neither the newspaper nor yesterday's post anywhere in sight.
Ray came back into the room and tossed Bodie the newspaper before settling on the floor at his feet.
"It was on the floor by the bed," Ray explained.
For a while the only sound in the room was the crackle of paper and the click of the calculator. Buck was flaked out on the rug, lost somewhere in a doggie dream.
"Bodie?" Ray looked up from where he was tucked in between the settee and the coffee table. He'd been diligently working on his cheque book for the past half hour.
"What?" Bodie peeked out from behind the paper he'd been reading.
"Don't you wish I was the way I used to be?"
For a moment, Bodie couldn't say a word. Although they'd often discussed Ray's feelings about himself over the years, they hadn't really come out and discussed how Bodie felt. At least not deeply, and not for more than a year. Bodie tried to avoid it at all costs, both verbally and in his thoughts, although he hadn't been too successful with the latter in the past few weeks.
"What brought that up?" Carefully Bodie kept the guilt he was suddenly feeling out of his voice.
"How are you doing with your cheque book?" Bodie tried to change the subject. They hadn't really resolved the first argument and Bodie did not want to get into anotherespecially this one right now.
"I can't find three pounds." Ray picked up the offending article and waved it in the air, frowning.
"You double-checked everything?"
"Yes. I would've been able to do this easily before." Ray slapped the cheque book back on the table.
"You didn't bother to do it before. Would you like me to help you?" Bodie rarely asked this, believing that if Ray really needed help with something he'd ask for it.
"No. If I was clever like I used"
"For Chrissake Ray." Bodie threw the paper on the floor, trying hard to rein in his temper. At the shocked look on Ray's face, he took a deep breath and said a little more quietly, "We've been over this before, pet. Why are you bringing it up now? Did something else happen at work? Something you didn't tell me about?"
"No. Only, I wish I wasn't like this. I wish I was normal." Ray turned his head away.
"You are normal, Ray," Bodie said.
"Not like I was before."
"No, not like you were before. But there's nothing we can do about it. What happened, happened, and we have to live with the result. I've told you before I'd rather have you this way than have you dead and buried."
"Like Mum," Ray whispered.
"Like Mum," Bodie agreed. "So?"
"I wanna be normal."
There was no way around it. Bodie was tired, heartsick. He'd loved Irene, too, and missed her. He missed four-fivethe 'old' four-fiveeven though it was true what he'd told Ray. He'd rather have him like this than not at all.
"I've told you I love you, Ray. I've told you over and over. I'm going to say it one more time, then I don't ever want you to bring it up again. Do you understand?" Bodie realised he was doing exactly what he didn't want to do, and something that Ray hated, treating him like a child. But Bodie was too tired to work out a more adult way to get the point across. He closed his mind to the widening eyes staring at him.
"I love you. You. The way you are now, the way you were, however you will be in the future. I've never come right out and said this, but, yes, I do miss the 'old you.' Sometimes I miss you so badly it's a bloody pain in my chest. But there's nothing we can do to change what happened any more than we can change the fact that Mum died in her crash. You're the way you are, and I'm damned grateful for it." Bodie paused, taking in a deep breath. Ray hadn't moved a muscle, his eyes still fixed firmly on Bodie's face.
"I'm also proud of you. You've learned so much more than the doctors ever thought you'd be able to; they were afraid you'd stay a baby forever. You struggled and fought to learn everything you could. Now can we please stop this? We've argued more since Mum died than in all the years we've been together."
"So am I."
"Bodie?" Ray's head was turned away.
"Will you help me find the three pounds, please?" There was a little catch in his voice on the final word.
"Oh, Ray. Of course I will." Bodie slid off the settee, moving the table out a little so they both could fit beside it. He reached over and took the paperwork away from Ray. Fingers busy on the calculator, he quickly found the error. "See here? You carried over the three, but forgot to add it in. Easy mistake to make."
"Stupid mistake," Ray groaned.
"No, an easy one. I had to add everything twice, too. Did you see? I didn't catch it the first time either," Bodie reassured him.
Ray silently gathered his papers up into a pile. "I think I wanna go to bed now."
"I'm going to have a shower first. If you're truly that tired, Ray, I'll take care of Buck," Bodie offered.
"No, I'll do it. Thank you," Ray added. Clapping his hands and whistling, he herded Buck outside.
Bodie watched as they disappeared through the door before trudging up the stairs to the loo. It took no time at all for him to flip the water on, shed his clothes and relax under the hot spray.
They'd all wondered what losing his mother would do to Ray, but no one had thought to include Bodie's own reactions. He'd had no idea his own temper would become so short, or that he and Ray would begin arguing almost as much as they had when they first met.
The shower curtain was pulled back and a slim body slid in behind him, strong arms wrapping themselves around his waist and chest. Fingers tugged on a nipple, while another hand groped for his genitals.
Bodie tried to turn around, but the arms tightened, holding him in place. Ray moved in closer, his hard cock nestling in the crack of Bodie's buttocks, and began sliding his body up and down, the rough, wet hairs of his chest scouring Bodie's back.
"Ray." Again Bodie tried turning, and again Ray stopped him. A hot tongue was inserted into his left ear, and Bodie shivered. Steely fingers played along his cock, racing up and down in rhythm with the movement of Ray's body behind him.
Ray was breathing heavily, panting wetly into Bodie's ear as he moved faster and faster. His cock was slipping around Bodie's arse now, sometimes hitting his testicles, often poking at his anus. Each time Bodie pressed back, wanting it inside him, Ray moved.
Suddenly he was being shoved up against the tile wall, Ray pressing hard against him, his hand clutching Bodie's penis convulsively. Bodie could feel the jutting hip bones as Ray slammed up and down against him, once, twice, then stilled for a brief second. As Ray howled his release, Bodie joined him, their seed mingling with the water.
Ray let go of Bodie's now limp cock and slowly slid down his back, biting one buttock as he sat down in the shower. It was all Bodie could do to stay standing. It was almost like the old Doyle. Bodie could pretend for a second that four-five had just finished with him.
After a few moments he turned around and looked down.
Drowned cat. There was no other way to describe the hairy bundle curled at his feet. As though he felt Bodie's perusal, Ray lifted his head, his eyes wide and confused.
Quickly they finished rinsing off and dried themselves. Ray was done first, and left the room.
Bodie walked into the bedroom to find Ray curled up in bed, a tangle of wet curls showing above the blankets. Quickly he slid between the cool sheets, snuggling up against Ray's warm body.
"You awake?" Bodie whispered.
"You don't know?" Bodie ran his hand over a soft hip and cupped a semi-hard cock. "You feel awake."
"Mmm. I'm waking up fast." Ray wiggled his bum. "I think I want to finish now."
"Finish what... Oh." Before Bodie could finish his question he was unceremoniously shoved out of the way.
Ray squatted beside him. "Finish you." Reaching over to the bedside table he pulled out a crumpled tube. Squeezing a lavish amount of the cream onto his fingers he gazed down at Bodie. "Spread 'em. Up."
Slowly Bodie raised and opened his legs, grabbing hold of his thighs to keep himself open. An excited shiver ran down his spine as he waited for Ray.
Keeping his hand in the air, Ray leaned forward and began kissing Bodie on the forehead. Working his way down, nothing but his lips making contact, he left damp trails on Bodie's hot skin. The tendons in the back of his legs were beginning to shake by the time Ray's tongue dipped into Bodie's navel.
"Can I put my legs down, Ray?" Bodie moved his hands and started to lower his feet. Strong hands forced his legs back up.
"Turn over." Ray's voice was hard.
Bodie tried to lower his legs again, and turn on his back, but his hands were shoved away, and his legs pushed back up.
"Ray? You're hurting me." Bodie was confused now and in pain. His hard-on was gone. Ray wouldn't look at him.
"I wanna fuck you rigid." Ray's voice was high and strained.
"Ray. What's wrong?"
"I wanna... I want to..."
"You're frightening me, sweetheart." Bodie rose up and grabbed hold of Ray, quickly flipping him onto his back. He crawled over on top, careful not to squash him. "Talk to me. What's wrong? Where did you hear about fucking someone rigid? Not from me."
The green eyes below him were filling with tears, but the face was set in lines of frustration. Oily fingers started to reach for Bodie's face then stopped. Ray looked as though he didn't know what to do with his hand.
Bodie managed to grab some tissues, and Ray cleaned his fingers, then lay placidly under Bodie.
"Talk to me," Bodie said softly.
"I wanted to be like I was before. I thought if I could do it here, then maybe... I'm sorry."
Bodie wanted to cry. He wanted someone to hold him, and he wanted to scream and shout and rage against the injustice of life in general. He loved the man beneath him more than his own life. Christ, how he loved him. Slowly he let his head sink down unto Ray's shoulder; wrapping his arms tightly around him, he rolled them both over so they were on their sides. Bodie could feel the tears as they started to leak from his eyes.
He wanted to cry quietly. He didn't want to cry at all. Bodie could hear the loud, whooping gasps coming from his own mouth and was embarrassed. He had to stop; this would frighten Ray. He couldn't afford to let go like this. Not again. His throat contacted painfully as he let out another howling sob.
"...ight, honey, 's going to be all right."
Slowly Bodie began to realise Ray was talking softly and holding him tight against his chest. Moving slightly away, Bodie raised his head. Ray was holding him, taking care of him. Bodie's nose was blocked; he could taste the snot running over his top lip, and his head was pounding.
Solemnly Ray held out a tissue. "You were right, Bodie. We need to talk. Can I start? You all right now? I'm so sorry."
"It's all" Out of habit Bodie began to reassure him, then stopped. "Yes, you can go first."
"I was thinking while you were crying. I know I can't be the way I was. I know this, Bodie. I get frustrated too, 'cause I... I have to say this, but I don't want to, but... I love you so much." He stopped.
"That's what you had to say?" Bodie asked thickly.
"No." He started to turn away, but Bodie grabbed him.
"No, sweetheart. We're doing this talk face to face. No more secrets."
Ray took a deep breath and it all came out in a rush. "When I first got hurt, and came home, and you had to take care of me all the time with Mum helping and all, that was all right. And then I got a job, and now I'm going to be a real physio, and..." Here he faltered. Swallowed. "And you're still taking care of me. I can take care of myself. Oh, this isn't... I'm not saying this properly. It doesn't make any sense."
Actually it did. Bodie understood perfectly what Ray was attempting to get across. And more importantly, that Ray was correct.
"I've wrapped you in cotton wool and you're stifling," Bodie said simply.
"Ye-es. What's stifling? Just tell me, Bodie, I don't want to get up for the dictionary."
"Smothering, suffocating. I'm holding you back, keeping you from growing."
Ray blinked. "I...yes."
"I won't break, honey," Ray said softly.
"No." Bodie was so tired.
"I don't like it when you worry about me."
"No. I can't help it."
Ray gently kissed the tip of his nose. "No. You can't. But, Bodie? Don't show me you worry. Only, I worry too and I think maybe I can't do something I should be able to."
"In the shower, that was okay, wasn't it? But I was wrong in bed. I'm sorry. I love you, Bodie."
Ray pulled him closer and tightened his hold. "I worry about you, too, but I never told you before. You could get killed just like Mum, doing nothing, and worrying doesn't help, but I can't stop it either. But I never said."
"No, you didn't. I wish you would in future."
"No. I can't stop what's going to happen." Ray was quiet and Bodie let him think. "Bodie?"
"Have we finished talking now?"
"What do you think? Do you have anything else to tell me?"
"Noooo." He drew it out, as though uncertain. "Are you angry with me?"
"No. You needed to tell me this. It was something I had to know." Bodie blinked his sore eyes. It was the truth. "Do me favour? When I start to smother you or hold you back or look worried, will you tell me?"
"But what?" Bodie asked.
"Good night." Bodie fell asleep wondering what Ray's "but..." could possibly be.
To Part Three