No Greater Love...
(This first appeared in the November, 1998 MM zine, Diverse Doings 3, published by Straight Up Press.)
The thunder of falling wood and plaster reverberated through the ruins of the bank; Raymond Doyle gasped and coughed, attempting to clear the dust from his lungs. *Oh Christ, Bodie.* Moisture leaked from the corners of his eyes, and he blinked, trying to see around the hazy room. He had to find Bodie. His lover had to be here somewhere. Had to be. The cracking and creaking left no doubt in his mind that the two floors above him were soon going to bury everything left on the ground floor.
Gradually the sound of someone frantically calling his name penetrated the deafness left by the bomb. He made his way through the rubble of what had once been the local Barclays Bank, slamming his shin against something sharp. A typewriter. Standing on its side. He shoved it out of his way, cursing, and stumbled toward a light he assumed was the front door.
A hand grabbed hold of his arm and yanked him out.
"Christ, mate, are you all right?" It was Anson, brows drawn together.
"Bo - " Doyle cleared his throat and tried again. "Bodie?"
Anson's eyes darted to the door. "Cowley's still in there, too, Doyle. Doyle!"
His words hung suspended in empty space as Doyle turned to go back inside. Contriving to dodge the wreckage that continued to rain down on him, he still managed to trip over the same typewriter, slamming into the floor with a bone-jarring thump. Winded, he dragged himself back up, and headed for a moaning mound trying to lift itself off the ground.
"Bodie! Bodie?" Doyle tossed assorted unidentifiable rubbish out of the way, and grabbed hold of a jacket. He turned the body over to look into the dazed eyes of his boss, George Cowley.
It sounded like a whisper, but was probably a shout - his ears were still numb - and it came from behind him. He turned, the Controller of CI5 still in his arms. Bodie was perhaps twelve feet away, in what had been the other side of the room. The entire lower half of his body disappeared under a pile of rubble.
*Oh Christ. Bodie.* Doyle glanced down at the half- conscious man in his arms, then over at the man he'd been in love with for the past three years. Bodie stared back, then grimaced, before giving him a tight smile.
Taking a deep breath, Doyle lugged Cowley's limp body towards the front door. A sharp pain hit the back of his neck and he fell again, dropping his burden as he brushed at the burning wood on his back. Gasping, agony throbbing through his head and shoulders, he grabbed hold of a foot and started dragging the other man behind him, blindly hoping nothing else would land on them.
*Almost there, sir. Almost there. Got to go back and get Bodie.* He didn't realise he'd made it to the door until Cowley was taken from him and strong arms wrapped themselves around his shoulders. Flinching at the touch, he opened his eyes to find Anson in front of him again.
"Bodie." Doyle turned to go back inside; Anson's hand latched on to his arm, holding him back.
"It's too late, Doyle. Everything's coming down. You can't go back in there!"
Anson's face was red from shouting, but Doyle ignored him. He jerked free and stumbled back into the building, tripping over the walls that had fallen in the few minutes it had taken him to get Cowley out.
His eyes were glued to Bodie as he floundered about in the debris. Twisting his way through, he dropped to his knees, coughing in the smoke. Bodie's mouth was moving; if there was sound coming out Doyle couldn't hear it between the noise around him and the numbness in his ears.
Blue eyes were staring past his shoulder, wide and frightened, and Doyle glanced up.
He flung himself over the upper half of Bodie's body, wrapping his arms around him and hiding his face in the dirty, sweaty neck. He briefly felt Bodie's arms clutch him, one hand burying itself in his curls before the entire building seemed to drop down around them, covering them in debris.
*Oh shit...hurts. Not dead, then.*
Doyle tried to move, stopping quickly as every nerve ending in his body immediately began sending signals to his already aching brain. What the hell was going on? The last thing he remembered was the world crashing down on him and...
His partner, the man he loved more than life itself, William Andrew Philip Bodie. Now unmoving beneath him, inert fingers still clutching Doyle's matted curls; alive, please God, alive.
"Bodie?" *Please. Answer me.*
His arms were still wrapped firmly around Bodie's upper torso. He gave an experimental jerk, and one arm came free. A gentle tug on the left was unsuccessful, and he gave up after a moment.
In the darkness of their prison, all he had was touch, smell, and to a small degree, sound. The creaking of broken wood and plaster, the smell of dust and the exhilarating feel of a slow and steady pulse beneath his trembling fingers. Alive.
The heavy lump in his chest worked its way up to become tears of relief. For now, both he and Bodie were alive. By some miracle - or just his natural luck, as Bodie would claim - the ruins around them had fallen in such a way that a small pocket had formed. Inside this enclosure they at least had air to breathe: with luck, enough to last till rescue arrived.
Rescue. Did anyone even realise they were still alive? Doyle had no idea how badly their boss had been injured; that had been the last thing on his mind as he dragged Cowley from the rapidly deteriorating building. Was the Cow even alive himself? Would their fellow CI5 agents keep looking? Or would they give it up as a hopeless case?
Doyle had no answers. He only knew that of all the places in the world right now, this was where he wanted to be. Held tightly in his lover's arms, albeit buried under God- knew-how-much rubble; at least they were together.
"Bodie, answer me, Bodie, answer me please."
If he stayed quite still, and stopped breathing himself, for that brief moment Doyle could feel the great vein in Bodie's neck pulsing against his cheek as the blood journeyed through the unconscious body. As he concentrated on the steady thrumming, other, stronger sensations came into play: the burning on the back of his neck, the stabbing pain in his right shin, the lack of feeling in his left foot, the curls on his head pulling against his scalp.
"Bodie!" Doyle tried to turn his head.
Another yank on his hair, stronger this time, as Bodie cleared his throat. Doyle smiled as he felt the rumble against his cheek.
"You ever - " Bodie cleared his throat again. "You ever do that again, and I'll kill you m'self!"
"Bodie?" Doyle was confused and a little hurt.
"Why the bloody hell did you come back in here, you stupid git? You were out. You were fucking safe! Then you came back in!"
Bodie was panting heavily, and it suddenly occurred to Doyle that he was sprawled right across Bodie's chest, which would make it difficult for the bigger man to breathe properly.
"Bodie? 'M squashing you," Doyle stated and started to lever himself up.
A sharp gasp was followed by an aborted moan from Bodie, and Doyle stilled.
"Nowhere for you to go, is there?" Bodie patted Doyle on the head. "Only thing between your head and the shit on top of us is my hand and about two inches. And that's counting those golliwog curls of yours."
"Oh. Thought I hurt you, way you were carrying on," Doyle sniffed.
Bodie was silent.
"Didn't, did I? Bodie?"
"Sliced the back of my hand on whatever's hanging above your head." Bodie pushed down as Doyle automatically tried to look. "Stay still. Christ, what it did to my hand; you wanting a trim?"
"Bodie? What's up there?"
There was no answer for a second, and Doyle opened his mouth to ask again, when Bodie finally spoke.
"In case you hadn't noticed, it's blacker than a sp...moonless night in here."
"Yes, Ray? Ray? Why do you keep saying my name? There's somebody besides us crunched in here?"
A crushing load of helplessness rushed over Doyle, and he held his breath a moment, trying to control it. Seemed like forever they'd been in here, Doyle calling out Bodie's name and...
"Wanted to hear you answer me," he admitted.
"Ah. Been calling my name a while, have you?"
"Seemed like it. I was afraid you were...was afraid." Doyle had no problem admitting that. Bodie had once revealed the same thing.
"'S okay, angelfish. You, however, are evading the subject. What the bloody hell made you come running back in here?"
Doyle didn't answer. What could he say? That he couldn't bear the thought of living without Bodie? That if Bodie had to die, then they'd go together? That maybe he thought he could have saved him?
"If it'd been me lying here, while you dragged the Cow out, what would you've done?"
"Doesn't matter - "
"The hell it doesn't!" Doyle started to lift his head, only to have it rammed back into the crook of Bodie's neck and shoulder. "I just wanna turn m'head to the other side. Something's digging into my face, and it isn't part of you!"
Slowly Doyle raised his head a fraction, turning so his face was pressed to the skin of Bodie's collarbone, nose against a raspy chin. He gave a big sigh.
"Better?" Bodie asked.
"Yes, thank you," Doyle answered politely. Then, a moment later, "What would you've done?"
"You didn't happen to bring anything to eat, did you?"
"No. And stop trying to change the subject. What would you've done if it'd been me stuck in here?" Doyle desperately wanted an answer to his question.
"Same thing, all right? We're both a couple of idiots."
"Yes?" Doyle felt Bodie's chin move, heard the smile in the one word.
"How badly are you hurt? Truth."
"Broken leg. Can't feel anything painful in my gut, so I don't think I have any internal injuries. Feels like the changing of the guard inside my head, though. You?"
"Think my ankle's broken, can't feel my foot. Sliced my shin, head hurts. Burnt the back of my neck. My other arm's stuck under you."
"Good thing we're already lying down, then, innit? Fall down otherwise."
They were quiet after that, pressed together in the dark, their body positions a parody of lovemaking, listening to each other breathe. Doyle was, if not happy, at least content to be here. If this was the end, and they were to die here, un-rescued, at least they were together.
In the darkness before death, secrets could be told. "I'd do it again, you know. Live with you. Die with you."
"Don't start, Ray, we're not going to die."
"I know, sweetheart. I love you, too."
It amazed Doyle how Bodie always seemed to know exactly what he meant, no matter how garbled his speech was.
In the darkness, fears could be admitted. Bodie sighed. "When you dragged the old man out? I thought you were gonna leave me. Didn't want you to. I didn't want you to die, but...didn't want to die alone."
"Not gonna die, Bodie."
"Couldn't bear to leave you."
"I know," Doyle's voice soothed. He suddenly wanted desperately to see Bodie's face. Raising his one mobile arm, he walked his fingers around Bodie's head until he reached his face.
"I'm here, Ray."
"Mmm." Gently his fingers stroked a path down a curving nose, played with the uniquely shaped eyebrows. On one cheek, they slowed, drawing a design in the tears that had dampened the dust. Bodie's arms tightened their hold.
"You afraid, Bodie?"
"I'm always afraid. I'm afraid for you."
Doyle was briefly glad for the dark. "I...you believe in heaven?"
"We're not going to die, Doyle, so give over." Bodie chuckled. "You've got a bony arm, mate, 's digging into me kidneys."
"Least you can feel it! I think my arm went to sleep days ago."
"We haven't been here for days." Bodie sounded tired.
"How do you know? We could've been unconscious for days, and wouldn't know it."
"Haven't had to take a leak, yet, and I generally do that at least once a day."
A problem that hadn't existed suddenly reared its head.
"Uh, Ray? D'you happen to see a loo anywhere near?"
Doyle couldn't believe his ears; just who'd brought up the subject to begin with? "You don't. Bodie! Jesus Christ, you pick the damnedest times..." He started to argue, then stopped. Why bother? *We're gonna die here. They'll find us dead, and with piss in our trousers. Oh God.* He started to giggle, then chuckle; before long he was shaking uncontrollably with huge gulping laughs.
"Ray? Stop it. What the hell's going on?" Bodie's voice was tight and anxious. "Doyle, don't bloody jump on me...your head's...shit, my hand...Ray...oh, fuck."
A warm, pungent dampness spread itself between them. An embarrassed silence filled the small enclosure. Doyle coughed. "There isn't anyone I'd rather play the bog for, mate. Don't give it another thought. 'Specially since I'll probably return the favour now you've prepared the area and all."
"Berk." Bodie sniffled wetly.
"You crying?" Doyle asked incredulously.
"Certainly not," Bodie answered, in an offended tone. "It's dusty in here; playing hell with my sinuses."
Doyle grunted. "Know what I'd like? To get my hands on the bloody bastards who bombed the place."
"Yeah. Idiots. I wonder why they did it. Hope the others are out after them - "
" - and they leave some for us! After being stuck in here, I'm going to need a bit of exercise. A good punch-up would just fit." Doyle's free hand made a tight fist.
"Nah. They'd've bombed a place with people in it, not an empty building during a bank holiday! Bloody bastards."
"Least they warned us," Bodie said.
"Great lot of good that did! Got us trapped down here, trying to evacuate an empty building. I get my hands on those - " He stopped as Bodie's hand slapped against the top of his head. "What?"
"Stop bouncing on me! I know you're narked, so'm I. Save it for the arseholes who left the bomb, okay?" Bodie was beginning to sound slightly exasperated.
"Yeah, sorry, mate," Doyle said. Silence again. Then, "How long do you think the air'll last in here?"
Warm breath gusted across the bridge of Doyle's nose as Bodie sighed. "Long enough for me to strangle you, if you don't stop this worrying. Christ, you'd worry the hair off a cat, you would."
"You love me anyway, though," Doyle replied smugly.
"That was a weak moment, old son. If I'd been paying attention, you never would have got under my skin."
For a quick second, Doyle was afraid he was serious. Some of that fear must have transferred itself to Bodie, for he rapidly began to speak again.
"If I could move, I'd kiss you. If we had room, I'd turn you over, onto your back, and I'd lick your face. I'd start at the top of your head and work my way down, with a kiss for each eye, then I'd rub our noses together.
"I love your mouth, you know. It fascinates me, I dream about it. I want to take your top lip and suck it right off. You kiss like no one I know, Ray, your tongue drives me wild. I could spend forever nibbling on your neck, and sucking your nipples. I love your furry chest, and your hands that work magic on my body. Your cock, your bum - God, that perfect set of cheeks - your legs. I even love your bloody feet.
"If we die here - " Bodie had to clear his throat again. Doyle was glad for the darkness; in the light Bodie would never have spoken these words. "If we die here, I'll not have regretted one single second I spent with you, Raymond Doyle. Don't you ever, ever doubt that."
Very, very carefully Doyle moved his head back until his mouth was touching the soft underside of Bodie's chin. Very, very quietly he said, "I love you, too," and very, very gently he began to suck at the tender skin, tasting the dust and grime and the scent that was Bodie. His tongue darted out periodically to rasp against the stubble that had begun to appear.
He felt Bodie's strong hand cradle his head, one thumb stretching to rub away the tears Doyle hadn't been aware were falling. They stayed like that, waiting, silent, together.
Everything needed had been said.
And still they waited. Taking turns to sleep, as though they were on the ultimate stakeout. Always one of them awake to watch over the other.
It was on Doyle's watch the pounding and shouting began above them.
"'Bout bloody damn time," Doyle griped, as he woke Bodie.
Together, they hollered back.