Middle Ground

Note: Missing scenes challenge on . The aftermath of "Fall Girl"... did Doyle go and find Bodie or did they stay away?

Doyle had never been good at obeying orders. Especially not if there were crap orders. He was at Bodie's place less than half an hour after leaving the scene – and Marikka's body.

He only stopped once on the way, to get out of the car, slam the door violently closed and proceed to kick the shit out of the next inanimate object. The car was hardly more than scrap metal anyway, and Ray needed to get the rage out of his system before he faced Bodie. This whole business was so damn rotten, from start to finish. It made Ray Doyle doubt everything he had thought to know about good and evil. The thought almost made him laugh, a bitter noise, half-strangled before it reached the air. Apparently the naïve, green copper, fresh from the academy and full of high ideals, had still been there, buried under all the dirt and ugliness of everything he had seen and done. But the ugliest sight had no doubt been the look on his partner's face as he pushed past him, walking away without a second glance.

Ray shook his head, still angry – with dirty politics, with Cowley, with himself, for letting himself be roped into it all. Even with Bodie, for being so bloody stupid and in love. The thought was sobering like cold water, dousing his anger and leaving only a peculiar kind of sadness, a deep, black ache. He managed to get his emotions under control and got back in the car, driving the familiar streets to his goal almost on autopilot.

But when he arrived, he found it strangely difficult to get out and cross the street. Dealing with Bodie had never been a problem before, not even when he got into one of his moods. Now Doyle wasn't sure what kind of reception he would get – if Bodie would even let him in. Bodie had always been the one person Ray knew he could count on, there every step of the way, good or bad. Particularly bad. This was new, this uncertainty, and it unsettled Ray deeply.

But he had not become part of the top team of one of the most elite units in the country by backing down when things got tough. Therefore, with a sigh, he finally crossed the street and rang the doorbell, using the rhythm that would let Bodie know right away who it was that was calling. There was no response. Doyle glanced upwards, to where Bodie's living room window was located but couldn't make out any movement. The flat appeared to be deserted. Yet he was sure that Bodie was in. Where this certainty came from, Ray didn't know – didn't ask, because it was part of something he felt was much better left untouched. He pressed the bell again, more urgently, certain that Bodie would realize that his partner had no intention of leaving.

Finally, Bodie relented, and Doyle entered the building, walking up the stairs slowly, still feeling this peculiar sense of dread. Who knew, maybe Bodie would never trust him again after today – and that would most definitely mean the end of their partnership. This was something Ray didn't even want to contemplate, so he went on, until he reached the floor Bodie lived on. Bodie himself was nowhere in sight, but the door was half-open, so Ray accepted the invitation, no matter how unwilling, and entered.

As before, the flat was shrouded in darkness, but Ray had been here so many times, it was no big trouble navigating around the furniture. He threw one look into the living room, saw that it was empty, and proceeded into the bedroom. It was just as dark and silent as the rest of the flat, but Ray knew with every fiber of his being that Bodie was there. He found him just out of sight, sitting on the windowsill in the darkest corner of the room. He gave no reaction that he had heard Ray coming in, just continued to stare moodily outside.

Ray didn't say anything either, just walked over and stood beside him, not quite touching but close enough to see the deep lines in Bodie's face even in the darkness. He tried to read him, tried to figure out whether it was grief or betrayal that kept his partner quiet. But Bodie had always been good at playing things close to his chest.

Finally, it seemed to Doyle as if Bodie's body relaxed almost imperceptibly, and he broke the silence: "Look, Bodie, I'm sorry. I really am."

The sound of Bodie's laugh fell harshly between them. "What for? Which of the many things that happened today makes you sorry – partner?" The word was heavy with accusation, and Ray flinched at the bitterness in it.

"All of it. It's been one long, rotten day. But most of all I'm sorry that I couldn't safe your bird… Marikka." He quickly added her name, feeling Bodie's reaction to having her called a 'bird', like all the others – this one had really been different. He lowered his voice, almost whispering. "I don't know if it makes a difference, Bodie – but I got to talk to her a bit, and she seemed to really care about you. I just wish…"

He petered off, unsure of what it was he wished for. This was the best he could do. Ray had never been good at apologies, but he hoped that Bodie knew everything he didn't know how to say, including the things he didn't even admit to himself.

The silence between them stretched again, but Bodie had turned slightly and was now looking at Ray with quiet intensity. What exactly went on behind those blue eyes was once again a mystery. Ray thought of all the snarky remarks he could make to lighten the mood, make things between them right again – but he remained silent as well, meeting Bodie's gaze until it faltered and dropped. To Ray's lips, of all places, flitting almost anxiously between them and somewhere behind Ray's right shoulder.

Ray felt this unsettling heaviness in his stomach again. It was strange, all of it. The very air between them seemed to be alive with words left unsaid, emotions left unexplored. Yet he felt himself being pulled in, as if Bodie was the Earth and Ray a shooting star, unable to resist the pull of gravity despite the very real danger of getting burned.

He laughed at the analogy. It was not a cheerful sound, but he couldn't help it. It was all too bizarre. There suddenly seemed to be no safe ground for them to step on. Bodie's eyes were wide, his body impossibly close, although they had been closer than this many times, and Ray Doyle was fighting nervous laughter, because he was afraid that if he didn't laugh, he would cry.

"What? What the hell is it, Ray?" Bodie's voice was low and dangerous, but Ray could feel that the tension was directed as much at Bodie himself as at him.

He got a grip on himself and met Bodie's questioning gaze. "Sorry. But I just… I just can't help but find it slightly humorous that I come here, afraid that you'll kill me and break the heart of many a pretty bird as well as the Cow's – and instead it appears that instead of killing, there'll be… kissing."

He couldn't help the hitch in his voice at the last word. It still felt unreal. Yet a part of him, the part of him that he never questioned, especially not when it came to Bodie, knew exactly that this was what was going to happen. If Bodie didn't snap and decided to kill him anyway, that was.

"Well. It seems that, despite everything, I can't quite bring myself to break Cowley's heart." Bodie's voice was calm, reasonable, but Ray recognized the gleam in his eyes, and a weight lifted from his shoulders as he let go of a breath he had not been aware of holding. Then Bodie leaned closer, and Ray almost forgot to breathe again.

But instead of the expected kiss, there came a whisper, deadly serious: "But if you go behind my back ever again, I will kill you, Sunshine. No matter how pretty you flutter your eyelashes at me."

Then, without giving Ray the chance to do more than blink in reply, Bodie did kiss him. There was hunger in that kiss, and passion, and maybe even love, although Doyle would rather face a death squad than admit to it. There was also anger, and pain, and grief for something that had been an all-too-fragile illusion, and Ray held Bodie tightly, until there was no room for anything else except for them and the heat between them.

He did not know whether he succeeded to erase it all, but when Bodie fell asleep in his arms afterwards, Ray felt rather than saw how peaceful and at rest his partner was. This might not be what he had expected to happen after today – but at least it seemed as if they had found a middle ground after all. Pressing a soft kiss to Bodie's sweat-matted hair, Ray pushed all worry and thought to the back of his mind. Where they would go from here, only the morning could show. Now it was time to sleep.

Ray Doyle relaxed and let sleep come, holding his partner tightly.