"You're not, you know."
The half-asleep muttering came from the figure sprawled on the couch. Bodie looked up from cleaning his gun. "Not what, mate?"
"Cool. You're not." Ray yawned and stretched, then scratched gently at the scar on his chest and yawned again.
Bodie watched his partner's languid movements and suppressed an answering shiver; Ray Doyle was a hazard to coherent thought when he moved like that. "What're you on about?"
"I. . ." Doyle blinked sleepily at him. "You know. You said it. That you're cool. Keep it together all the time, low heart rate and all that." When Bodie continued to favor him with a quizzical look, Ray sighed and pulled himself up higher against the pillows, running his fingers through his tangled hair. "Don't deny you said it."
"Course you did," Ray said with a hint of exasperation. "You're cool, I'm hot. You told me, didn't you? Bloody lot of nonsense, that. 'Bodie, Mr. Cool.' Like James Bond, are you? Hah."
Carefully Bodie set down the rag and his dismantled gun. "When did I ever say that?"
"Oh for-! Heard you, didn't I? After I got shot. Was lying there and you. . ." He stopped abruptly, and took in a long breath, clearly dispelling an unpleasant thought. He shook his head slightly. Bodie watched the unruly curls as they bobbed.
"No need to think about that, is there," Bodie said quietly.
Ray tightened his jaw. "You said that to me, Bodie. Then. Told me that you're cool, I'm hot. I heard you say it." He frowned slightly, and pointed at the rug, the new rug. "Was lying there, right there, and I heard you."
"Ray." Bodie got up, crossed to the sofa and regarded his partner. Five months since that awful day, the shooting was still painful to remember - for both of them. Ray looked fine now, had recuperated miraculously and was back at work, though still on somewhat light duty. But right now there was something in his eyes that hurt to look at.
"Ray," he said again, sitting at the end of the couch. "You must've dreamed that. I never--"
"The day we met." Ray's jaw was thrust out, and just that quickly the vulnerability that had briefly visited his face was gone, replaced by a pugnacious glare. "That's when it was. I remember it clearly. You told me I was too hot, too quick to get angry--"
"What, like now?"
"Sod off. You gave me this whole speech, trying to show how superior you are, how cool, how controlled. Insufferable, it was. Because you're not cool at all, are you?"
Bodie sat back and waited. "You done yet?"
Ray glowered in response.
"Allow me to refresh your memory," Bodie said, quite calmly. "The first day we met, I barely got a word in edgewise. Cowley introduced us, bare outline, and when he left the room, you proceeded to tell me exactly how we were going to work together, even though I was the one who'd been with CI5 for nearly a year. You told me all your bloody accomplishments, little as they were--"
"--Little! Well I didn't get to play fortune hunter in sodding Africa, did I?"
"Oh yeah, that was a lark, it was."
"Besides, I never said--"
"Yeah, you did, sunshine. Any rate, you talked my ear off. Had to shut you up by buying you a pint. And I never said anything to you about you being hot, me being cool. That's from your wicked imagination." Bodie let the smile come through. "Not that you aren't hot, Raymond my lad." He pitched his voice to a murmur. "And I don't mean your temper."
Doyle shut his mouth with a snap.
"Finally, some peace." Bodie grinned to hide a slight blush. Evidently his murmur had been overheard.
Doyle frowned at him again, but this time without anger. "So. . .you're saying I made all that up."
"Got it in one."
"Your subconscious telling you how incredibly cool and debonair I am?"
Ray snorted. "Don't remember saying 'debonair.'"
"No, but you're thinking that, aren't you? Not to mention incredibly handsome."
A pillow hit him in the head. "That's your dreams, mate."
"I'm everyone's dream, as a matter of fact."
"Huh." Ray peered at him out of one eye. "All right," he allowed. "Maybe I dreamt it. But you do think of yourself that way, don't you? Rising above life's little problems. Mr. Debonair. Mr. Cool."
Bodie smirked at him, risking another assault by the pillow. "What's all this in aid of, anyway? You trying to prove some point you've got rolling around that feverish brain of yours? Okay, you're hot, I'm cool. Whatever. Lost the point, I have."
"The point is, Bodie," Doyle said, rising up to his knees, "That I'm wondering exactly how cool you really are." He smiled at his partner, and now it was Bodie's turn to be struck dumb. Doyle had mischief in his eyes. Mischief and heat. Bodie watched mutely, eyes wide, as Doyle ran his hand slowly down his own torso.
Bodie swallowed. "Are you feeling all right?"
"Oh, yes." Doyle smiled. "So, Mr. Cool, how hot, exactly, do you think I am?"
"Um," Bodie said faintly, "Very?"
"Thought so," Doyle said. "Thought so for a while, haven't you?"
Caught, dammit. "Look, Ray--"
"Bet you'd to like to find out for yourself, wouldn't you? Find out if all that hot/cool stuff is true." Ray's eyes were still on him, appraising him. "Well, mate, life is short. Come on. Know you want to, Bodie, don't you?"
Bodie considered his answer, then capitulated. No point in lying, was there? "Yes. Yes, I do. Satisfied?"
"Not yet." Ray smiled. Bodie shivered. "You're not Mr. Cool, William Andrew Bloody-Philip Bodie. Not right now, at any rate." The feral gaze drifted down to Bodie's lap. "Oh, no. Not cool at all." And then Ray's hand followed his gaze into Bodie's lap and Bodie had the unfamiliar sensation of forgetting how to speak.
When he looked up, Ray had dropped his pose and was regarding him with a Mona Lisa smile. Funny how the little bastard could be hot and act cool all at the same time. "Life's too short, mate," Ray said again. "Think I'm living proof of that."
"Yes," Bodie managed. "Oh, yes."
"Come here, then, Mr. Cool," Ray said.
And so he did.
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