THE BEGINNING OF A NEW CHRISTMAS TRADITION
It's 1990 and Bodie and Doyle attend the CI5 Christmas Eve party. Things are new.
An established relationship story.
Written: December 2004. Word count: 1,405.
Ray Doyle and Bodie stood together in a corner of the crowded room, watching and listening to CI5's Christmas party. The shrieks of laughter together with the music had got louder as the evening has progressed, the air had become as thick as good old-fashioned London smog as more people indulged in cigarettes, cigars and pipes, and the scent of clashing perfumes, aftershave, perspiration and alcohol clung to the air almost tangibly. Paper chains hung limply from the ceiling and were draped around peoples' necks, tinsel was being worn in place of ties, necklaces, hats and even ear-rings, and sprigs of mistletoe were waved over the heads of any willing, or in some cases less-than-willing, hostage. Hair was being let down, literally as well as figuratively, as the elite of Britain - support staff as well as agents - celebrated Christmas Eve 1990.
"That'd been us a year ago," Bodie said, moving swiftly out of the way as Tommy Murphy chased after a giggling secretary, who was clearly in the mood for being caught. "Oi, watch it, Murph," he called as the tall agent and his prey raced around the partners, before scampering away to some dark corner or other. "Bleedin' hell," he said, shaking his hand that had endured a liberal splattering of the pint he held. "Where do they reckon they are? In the playground? What?" he demanded as the slender figure leaning against him started to shake.
"Sorry, Bodie," Ray said, wiping his streaming eyes. "It's just that you sounded like Cowley for a minute."
"Oh, great, now my own partner insults me."
"Wasn't an insult, or at least it wasn't meant as one. You're right though."
"'Bout what?" Bodie moved nearer to Ray and rested an arm around the broad shoulders.
"That we'd be out there with the rest of them, chasing secretaries, seeing who could out drink who, plotting up devious practical jokes. All of it."
"Almost all," Bodie said softly. Then he asked, "Do you miss it, Ray?" Bodie turned Ray within his half-embrace, needing to see the green eyes that told him so much.
"Course I don't, you dumb crud. Told you that. Why do you?"
"Nah. Not really. Not at all," he added as one copper coloured eyebrow vanished into the burnt copper curls that covered Ray's forehead. They were dusted with white these days, but were just as unruly as ever, and if Bodie was being honest, the grey only made Ray look more distinguished. Or as distinguished as anyone with hair that still touched his shoulders, and who still insisted on wearing skin-tight clothes, albeit not patched jeans, could look. At forty-five Raymond Doyle remained, at least to Bodie's eyes, gorgeous.
"We didn't have to do it, you know. We could have stayed as we were." Ray said, not moving away from Bodie.
"No, we couldn't, sunshine. You know that as well as I do." Bodie answered firmly. "In fact I'm amazed we held out as long as we did."
"Yeh, we pushed our luck, didn't we?" Ray said, leaning back against the wall, yet still remaining within Bodie's arm.
"Too right, mate. And too bloody often. I sometimes . . ." Bodie's next words vanished as a long-haired, long-legged, currently crossed-eyed blonde, danced her way up to him, produced a sprig of mistletoe from behind her back and waved it over his head. She puckered up her bright red lips, squeezed her eyes shut and waited.
Bodie glanced at Ray and raised an eyebrow. Ray shrugged and offered a half-smile. "Go on then, what are you waiting for?" he said, his tone light and indulgent. "Make the lady happy."
Bodie put his hands on the girl's shoulders, tugged her towards him just a little, and solemnly planted a kiss on each highly made-up cheek. "Merry Christmas, Hazel love," he said, adding a final kiss to her forehead.
She opened her eyes and pouted. "Is that all I get?"
"'Fraid so," Ray said, before Bodie could reply. "Now run along and find some nice suitable man to kiss."
"Spoilsport," she said, with no rancour in her voice at all. "You do know that this has cost me a round of drinks, don't you." She tottered off on her high heels and the partners collapsed against one another laughing.
"There's always one," Bodie proclaimed, after a few minutes, wiping his eyes and finishing his pint.
"Yeh," Ray said. "Flattering in a way. Nice to know that there are occasions when they feel they can still do it."
"I'm not sure that good old Uncle George would agree."
"Probably not. What do you think he's doing tonight?" Ray tipped the rest of his orange juice down his throat - he was the one who had drawn the short straw tonight.
"Oh, I imagine Elizabeth has organised something special. It is their anniversary after all."
"What?" Bodie glanced at his watch.
"Them choosing the same date as we did."
Bodie chuckled. "I'm not certain ‘choosing' came into it, sunshine. I didn't ever ‘choose' you. You just happened."
"It's been twelve years since we first . . . You know." Ray shuffled his feet and looked away from Bodie's eyes.
"Christ, Mr. Raymond Doyle is getting prudish in his old age. Never thought I'd live to see that."
"What do you want me to say? That it's been twelve years since you first fucked me?"
Bodie shook his head and gripped Ray's shoulder, shaking it slightly. "No," he said, his tone flat. "I never fucked you, Ray. I never have and I never will. We make love, Raymond. Love. Do you hear me?"
"Sentimental bastard," Ray said, and moving slightly in front of Bodie so that he shielded his partner from the room, he pressed a quick kiss on Bodie's lips. "Love you too," he added.
Bodie ruffled the silver-highlighted curls and then cuffed Ray's head gently. "Do you think we've been here long enough?" he asked, as Rudolf The Red-Nosed Reindeer blared out at a high enough noise for him to see the sound shimmering.
"Yeh, we've done our bit. Showed our faces. Reckon it's time for us to leave them to it. They'll have more fun without us."
"And we've stayed longer than Cowley ever did."
"Come on, my love, let's go home and celebrate Christmas in our own way. Leave the bird chasing, drinking too much, and playing daft tricks to everyone else."
"Never thought I'd see the day, Ray, when we were the first to leave the party. I mean even during the last twelve years when we no longer actually bothered about catching the birds, we were still here to the bitter end. Look at us now. Christ, it'll be cocoa and slippers next!" Bodie declared, as he dropped his arm lightly around his lover's shoulders and headed towards the door.
"Oh, Mr. Doyle, Mr. Bodie, surely you're not leaving us so soon?" a young agent, Gary Thompson, stood by the door. His tie was askew, his eyes looked slightly blurred and red around the edges from the smoke, and he swayed very gently.
Bodie grinned at him, remembering a time when he and Ray were so young - and not just in years either. As he'd said earlier even a year ago . . . "We're done our bit, Gary. Showed our faces," he repeated Ray's former words, and felt his partner chuckle under his arm. Then added, "You'll have much more fun without the bosses here. After all, if we stayed around how would you plan all those outrageous tricks and schemes . . ."
"That never come to anything," Ray cut in, finishing Bodie's sentence for him. The partners began to chuckle.
Young Thompson looked from one to the other, a look of awe on his face. Bodie wondered when the look would change for something more akin to ‘Oh, God, not again', when he was dragged away from the arms of the fifth bird in a row.
"Night, Gary," Ray called, patting the young man's shoulder. "Have a good evening and remember, if you must throw up, get to the loo before you do. Come on, Bodie. Let's go home. It's time we created some new Christmas traditions."
And CI5's Joint Controllers walked out of their first Christmas party since accepting their new roles, their strides matching. Bodie still had his arm around Ray's shoulders.
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