The Natural Order of
A heavy sigh.
A rustle of sheets.
A pillow soundly thumped.
"All right!" exploded Doyle, sitting
bolt upright in his bed. He switched on the lamp and glared across
at his partner in the other bed. "What's your bloody problem?"
"I miss home," said Bodie, plaintively.
An act. A bid for attention. But the corner of Bodie's mouth twitched,
"You're worse than a kid. Homesick!"
Doyle snarled. The aftermath of the mission still had him on edge,
"But I am, and I do! Why, I can't even remember
my near and dear's name. Blonde, wasn't she...?"
"Thought she was a redhead."
Bodie's expression was rueful. "Exactly."
Outside, another train went by, rattling the windows
and drowning out further conversation. Doyle turned off the light,
rolled over and closed his eyes. He was not going to allow Bodie
to wind him up this time. It had been a long few days, and he wanted
The train receded into the distance, and silence
"Bodie!" Again, Doyle threw the light
on. "Either shut up, or find somewhere else to sleep! Go pull
a bird, for god's sake!"
Bodie blinked innocently at him. "Would if
I could, but the bars are closed, and the pay-as-you-go types have
all been run out of town. And Cowley'd likely look down on just
grabbing 'em out of their beds at random."
Doyle couldn't help it. Somehow a snigger escaped
him, even though he wasn't actually amused by any of this. Not at
A smug grin spread across Bodie's face. "You
know you can't sleep, any more than I can."
"I was sleeping, until you woke me up."
"Liar." Bodie paused. "Was just
Doyle threw himself back down on the bed and pulled
his pillow over his head, ignoring the desperate squeal from the
springs in the mattress beneath him. It looked like Bodie was in
a mood to talk.
Wonder if Cowley would see it as justifiable
The problem with Bodie was that he'd been born
lacking whatever it was that enabled a person to think before speaking.
Either that, or it'd been shot off in those jungles he kept boasting
To his credit, he apparently recognized this failing
and compensated by mostly not talking at all. At least, Doyle frowned,
not about anything important.
Which meant that anything he came up with now,
at 3am the morning after a day in which they'd both almost got themselves
killed, again, was likely to be particularly...
"It's not gay, if you're the one on top."
Apparently undisturbed by the fact that Doyle
was now buried under his pillow, determinedly trying to ignore him,
Bodie continued. "See the natural order is for the man to want
to stick it into things, and for a woman to... well, receive him.
Right? So, the guy on top, he's just doing what nature intended.
But the guy on the bottom..."
"Know this from personal experience, do you?"
Doyle's words were muffled, but Bodie heard him
clearly enough. He sat up, frowning. "I'm not gay!"
Doyle lifted his pillow slightly and grinned at
the offended scowl on Bodie's face. "Never said you were, sunshine.
Notice how Cowley didn't suggest we try to establish our cover as
a couple? You couldn't pass if you tried."
"Those coppers thought I was." Bodie
"Thick as pigshit, the lot of 'em."
Doyle pushed the pillow off his head and sat up with a groan. It
was obvious he wouldn't be sleeping any time soon.
But of all the things for Bodie to obsess on...
Never mind that he'd almost got himself whipped, never mind that
they'd both been very nearly dumped over a cliff, and never mind
his unquestioning faith in a plan that hinged on nothing but Doyle's
belief that there had to be one good copper. Nope, out of all that,
what disturbed him most was that a handful of bigoted idiots had
thought he was gay.
Doyle pinched the bridge of his nose. Bodie was
rabbiting on again about his theory regarding gay men, and why they
weren't proper men. Because real men don't take it up the
Cowley sometimes talked about "still waters"
where Bodie was concerned, but Doyle knew that a calm surface could
hide shallow waters just as well as deep ones.
Enough. Doyle shook his head, and clucked
pityingly. "Never would have guessed you were a virgin, my
Bodie goggled at him for a moment, and then recovered.
"Half of one, then. Didn't you ever let any
of your birds play back there? Or were you too worried about protecting
"Never had one wanted to," said Bodie,
"Some of them like it, too," Doyle continued
sagely. "But it's better for men."
Bodie was now looking at him as if he'd suddenly
sprouted a second head.
Ah. A different approach might be in order. Doyle
crossed his legs and sat up straighter, suddenly grateful for the
concealing pile of blankets over his lap. No, he definitely wasn't
going to sleep any time soon. But never mind, this was a turning
out to be a highly entertaining conversation.
"The Virgin William Bodie," said Doyle.
"Well, that explains why you cover up from your neck to your
ankles. Worried that one of the lads might jump you if they catch
a glimpse of that creamy white flesh, eh?" He snorted at the
image he'd conjured for himself.
Bodie crossed his arms stubbornly, and waited
for Doyle to stop chortling. Then he said, "It's not natural
to want to take it up the arse."
"But according to you, it's natural to want
to stick it there." Doyle suppressed a snigger, and asked,
"Wanna tell me how many fellers you've fancied taking that
"This is a stupid conversation," said
Bodie abruptly. He threw himself face down on his bed and pulled
his blankets up over his head. "I'm going to sleep."
Interesting, thought Doyle.
"And I'm not gay!" added Bodie, from
beneath his blankets.
After a moment, Doyle shrugged, and reached for
the light switch. In the welcome dark, he settled down to sleep.
His current state of arousal was inconvenient, but easily dealt
with. Doyle first imagined his ninety-six year old Aunt Dolores,
and then his neighbour's arthritic pug, and finally Cowley in his
bath towel. Yes, that last one did it.
He was almost asleep when...
A discreet shift in position.
A slight creak of bedsprings.
More very loud silence...
Doyle said, "Lie back and think of Cowley.
That'll do you."
"You what?" Bodie sounded a
lot more shocked than Doyle would have thought the statement warranted.
"I know what you said!" Bodie paused
a moment before very cautiously asking, "Is that what you do?
Think of Cowley? When you're..."
All of a sudden, Doyle realized exactly how he'd
been misunderstood. "Fuckin'ell, no! Cowley makes it go away!
I don't – you're revolting!"
In the dark he heard Bodie begin to laugh. "Was
imagining you and our lord-an'-master..."
"Cowley and sex are not two thoughts that
go comfortably together," said Doyle, primly.
Bodie made a noise of agreement. Then, having
apparently decided that Doyle and sex were not nearly as
disturbing a mental combination, asked, "Were you hard, too,
Doyle groaned and thought that he could definitely
frame this as justifiable homicide. There was not a jury in the
land that would convict, once they'd heard what Bodie had put him
through at 3am... well, even later now. He wasn't going to turn
on the light to check his watch. That would just encourage him.
"'Course I was," he admitted. He felt
a hopeful twitch in the organ under discussion, and sent it a firm
mental reprimand. Cowley in a bath towel. Wet Cowley in
a bath towel. It subsided, thoroughly cowed. Ha-ha. "All this
talk about sex. I'm not made of stone."
Bodie snickered. "Only some of the time,
"Smart arse," growled Doyle, again feeling
the interest from that most inconvenient part of his anatomy. Yes,
we could do rock-hard, but I'd really rather not. What Doyle
wanted was sleep. And it was still looking as if he might have to
commit murder in order to get it.
Bodie was shuffling in bed, again. Doyle tried
not to think about what that might mean.
"So..." said Bodie. "Did you ever
make it with a bloke?"
I'm never, ever sharing a hotel room with
him again. I don't care if the Cow wants us to keep a low profile.
I'll pay for it myself, if I have to. Doyle felt a twinge of
financial pain at that prospect, but decided it was worth it just
for the peace of mind it would give him to have walls, and a locking
door, between himself and Bodie.
"Well," said Doyle. "I know for
a fact that you have."
He heard an outraged splutter from the other bed,
and opened his eyes to see the dark shadow of Bodie sitting bolt
upright in his bed, outlined against the window. "How do you
"Because you're not gay."
There was a very long pause this time, as Bodie
sat on the edge of the bed and tried to work that one out. Doyle
would have been willing to swear he could hear the gears turning
over and grinding together.
The silence went on so long that Doyle drifted
into a light doze, having decided that he'd managed to give Bodie
enough to chew on to occupy him until morning.
Until Bodie jolted him out of his comfortable
slumber with, "Well, I'm not gay."
Doyle snapped, "Neither am I!"
Did Bodie sound... disappointed? Doyle
began running down possible ways to dispose of his partner's body.
That cliff was conveniently close. Probably lots of bodies down
there. Who'd notice one more?
Bodie, still sitting on the edge of his bed, continued
doggedly, "But you said..."
That was it. Enough is enough. Doyle
sat up abruptly, and faced his partner. They were nearly knee to
knee, the beds only a few feet apart. "Listen, Bodie! I don't
care if you want a hand job or nine inches of me up your arse, but
if you don't make up your mind in the next ten seconds… !"
He had just enough time to think, Fuckin'ell,
did I say that out loud? before a solid form launched itself
at him from the other bed.
"'Ere, watch where you stick that elbow!"
"Oi, castration was not the offer, get your
knee out of there!"
They were both laughing by the time they finally
sorted themselves out, winding up on their sides, face to face in
the narrow bed. And their pyjama bottoms were lost.
Doyle shoved Bodie's shoulders down, firmly. "Lie
"How come you get to be on top?" asked
Doyle pushed lightly on Bodie's stomach, feeling
the taut muscle lying just under the deceptively soft flesh. Then
he swept his hands down lower, low enough that Bodie groaned and
rolled willingly over onto his back. "Because you make a better
mattress," he said. Throwing his leg over Bodie's thighs, Doyle
pressed his lower body against Bodie's and felt the form beneath
"True enough…," Bodie gasped.
"You ... you're all hard edges and angles."
And then, because it was some kind of immutable
law that Bodie had to come up with the worst possible thing
to say at the worst possible moment, he followed that last statement
up with, "Shame you don't have tits."
Doyle almost pushed him out of bed, highly tempted
by the vision of Bodie hitting the floor, head first. But then a
better kind of revenge occurred to him.
Taking his life in his hands, he slid down between
Bodie's knees, saying, "But my son, I gather none of your precious
birds have ever done this to you..."
And thanks to Doyle's forefinger, Bodie was suddenly
somewhat less of a virgin.
Bodie jumped, trying to pull back and his head
hit the board at the top of the bed with a solid thump. "Bugger
"Exactly," purred Doyle. Judging by
Bodie's sharp intake of breath he'd just found what he was looking
"Yeah, but I'm... not..." protested
But those were the last coherent words Bodie was
able to string together for quite awhile. What he did manage, however
garbled, was inevitably followed by some variation of "please".
Which was remarkable, Doyle mused, as he'd never heard Bodie ask
for anything so politely before.
In fact, Doyle discovered that he liked making
Bodie beg. Loved it, even. Though it was a problem figuring out
how to muffle him when he began to shout. Doyle settled for half-smothering
him with a pillow. Bodie didn't seem to mind. And probably no one
would notice if he lost a handful of IQ points to oxygen deprivation.
Bodie came first, which turned out to be decidedly
inconvenient, because with no more than an "Right, thanks mate,
now get off eh?" Doyle was kneed in his side and nearly shoved
off the bed.
"Oi, I'm not finished!"
"Can't you just move over then? It's a bit
"I'm not humping your damn leg!" Doyle
rolled over onto his back, and set about taking care of the problem
himself. He felt Bodie shift himself, and momentarily cracked open
one eye to see him up on one elbow gazing down.
Doyle thought, Fine. He wants to watch? Let
He was startled by a tentative touch on his leg,
and then a hand slid up the inside of his thigh. He opened both
eyes this time. Bodie was still watching him, but now he had his
tongue caught between his teeth and a look of pleased concentration
on his face.
Not normally the most attractive of expressions,
but at this moment, desperately hot.
Doyle was still watching Bodie when he came, and
so he saw the moment the focused expression above him changed into
one of smug accomplishment.
He fought off his usual post-coital rush of affection.
Bodie didn't need his head any bigger than it already was. Gathering
his energy, Doyle said, "Do you always kick 'em off the moment
Bodie's smirk disappeared. "It's not my fault
you want as much foreplay as a bird."
Doyle shook his forefinger at Bodie, "Oh
no, don't you start. Or I could point out that you came faster than
a spotty teen on his first date. So much for your reputation as
a sex god."
Bodie's eyes latched onto Doyle's finger, no doubt
remembering exactly what it had been doing to him just a few minutes
earlier. Which was probably why when he asked, "Right, where's
my gun?" there was no heat in his words.
Doyle took this as a good sign.
Bodie lay back down, his face a few inches away
from Doyle's, looking at him with a sleepy kind of bemusement. Giving
in to the feeling of warmth in his breast, Doyle leaned forward
to close the distance between their lips.
Bodie snapped his head back, and Doyle felt something
twist inside him. Sourly, he said, "What? 'Fraid kissing a
guy will make you gay?"
"No!" said Bodie. Then he stopped, and
in the dark Doyle could almost see one eyebrow lifting quizzically.
"Well... maybe. Does kissing a guy make you gay?"
"Berk!" Doyle threw himself over onto
his other side, ignoring the pained grunt Bodie made as an errant
knee collided with something quite sensitive.
Recovering quickly, Bodie scooted up against his
back and threw his arm over Doyle's shoulder. Doyle tried to shake
him off, but Bodie hung on determinedly. "Wasn't 'cause of
that. My mouth hurts."
Oh. Doyle suddenly remembered. Bodie had got himself
smacked there twice today. He'd ended up with a split lip and a
bloody nose. Of course he wouldn't want to kiss anyone. Doyle relaxed
with a sigh, and felt Bodie press closer against his back.
Despite sticky sheets, and not being much of a
cuddler at the best of times, Doyle was disinclined to move. He
decided he'd put up with a few minutes of it, before he kicked Bodie
out of his bed.
Doyle was asleep before he knew it.
It was a feeling of absence, and a cold back,
that eventually woke him. The sun streaming through the window told
him it was morning, and a rattling of pipes down the hall from their
room informed him that Bodie was most likely in the bathroom.
Feeling an urgent pressure in his bladder, Doyle
retrieved his pyjama bottoms from the tangle of blankets on the
floor, and headed down the hall. He banged on the door with the
side of his fist and heard an outraged, "Fuck off!"
"Hurry up, Bodie! I'm dying out here!"
Some grumbling followed, then the door opened
and Bodie appeared, his toothbrush still in his mouth. Doyle pushed
past him, slamming the door in his face, leaving him standing in
When he finally emerged, much relieved, Bodie
was gone. Doyle was not surprised to discover him finishing up the
last of the packing, checking the drawers to see if they'd left
anything behind. He just hoped that he wasn't hiding his damp toothbrush
Bodie straightened up, regarding him with an uncharacteristically
Doyle made a show of checking Bodie's back, with
an air of expansive cheer. "No sign of fairy wings. Looks like
you're in the clear, son." he said with a grin.
Bodie didn't smile. He said, "Last night.
Wish you hadn't done that..."
Doyle knew without wondering that he wasn't referring
to the sex as a whole. Just to one specific part of it. He crossed
his arms. "I didn't hear any complaints. Had yourself a good
time, didn't you?"
"Yeh. It's just..."
Doyle sighed. Time to put things back on an even
keel. "You're not gay, Bodie. You're going to go home today,
track down that redhead of yours, and fuck her senseless. And tomorrow
you'll do it again."
"Because I'm not gay," said Bodie, visibly
"Right," said Doyle, ignoring the irrational
twinge of disappointment in his stomach.
However, his dissatisfaction was short-lived,
because Bodie once more proved that the universe is made up of unshakeable
constants by saying the most unexpected thing possible at that moment.
"And so long as we're both clear on that,"
said Bodie. "We can do this again, sometime, right?"
"Shut up, Bodie." But now Doyle was
grinning as well.
Because there was something very reassuring about
a universe in which his Bodie was an immutable part of the natural
order of things.