Coming to Terms


An Episodic Tale

"Cowley--he makes people trust him."
"I think she's got his number..."

--"Operation Susie"

Outside the courthouse, Bodie sat beside Doyle in their car, waiting. This was the part of every op that he loathed--the inaction, the tedious drawn-out surveillance, the lulls that sorely tested his patience. This Molner situation had provided a bit of action, but they seemed to keep coming in on the tail end of things, one step behind, too late to do anything useful.

And now they were waiting again. Bodie sighed. Just one chance to do some good, that's all he wanted. Just us against them, he thought. Whoever the hell they were.

The RT beeped and Bodie picked it up. He listened as Cowley told them of a possible assassination attempt on Diana Molner's life. How they needed to grab her when she came out of the courthouse, get her to a secure place. This was more like it.

"One more thing," Cowley added. "This is an Operation Susie. Over."

Bodie glanced at his partner's tense face. "Uh, 3.7," he spoke into the RT, "could you repeat that, please."

"Protection Molner is an Operation Susie, over."

"3.7 confirmed." Bodie automatically removed his ID as Cowley continued instructing them.

"...abandon identification and RT. Repeat, if anything goes wrong, you're on your own. This order will be erased." Cowley clicked off.

Bodie stashed his and Doyle's ID in a hidden compartment under the dash. "It's always us, isn't it," he said, resigned to one more instance of being put out on a limb.

"Yep." Doyle didn't look terribly happy about the situation. "We haven't played with our trains for a while now, have we?" he said.

"What, down at the old--"

"Yeah," Doyle cut in.

Their special car in the train yard sounded safe enough, as only he, Doyle, and Cowley even knew of its existence. Happy to have a plan of action, Bodie easily shoved Cowley's machinations to the back of his mind. "Yes, I 'spose that's the best place." He scanned the nearby car park. His expert eye quickly spotted a car with a lock button popped up in open invitation. He nodded towards it. "Fancy driving something foreign?"

"Yeah, why not." Doyle still looked glum.

As Bodie got out and casually sauntered over to the other car, his partner trudged solemnly behind him. "C'mon, Doyle, cheer up." Bodie opened the unlocked door and slid behind the wheel, leaning over to let Doyle in the passenger side. "This might all be over soon."

"Terrific." Doyle sat slumped in the seat.

As he fiddled with the dash, Bodie said, "Let's go make a quick detour to the armory." It was only a few blocks away. "They'll be in the courthouse a while longer. I think a smoke bomb might give us an edge, don't you? Toss it when she comes out, make a quick snatch, and off to the train yard. Simple."

"Whatever." Doyle was staring blankly out the window. "Just wish I knew what the hell was really going on here."

Bodie shrugged, his concentration set on hot-wiring the car. He wished, not for the first time, that Doyle wouldn't worry so much about Cowley's double and triple-think maneuvers. Sure, it could be annoying at times. But when you got down to it, Cowley's little games were simply part of the job.

"I mean, sometimes I'd like to know what I'm doin'," Doyle went on. "Is that too much to ask?"

The engine roared to life. Bodie smiled at Doyle as he gunned the motor. "Ours not to reason why," he said. Then he tore out of the car park, squealing the tires. He was content to be on the move again.

"He's a bastard." Doyle set the drinks on the table and scooted onto the bench beside his partner. "A right bastard."

"You mean Cowley?" Bodie picked up his large whisky and drank deeply, then he let out a relaxed sigh. He felt too content to allow Doyle's mood to affect him, now that the op was over and they'd been given two whole days off. And being with Doyle made him happy, no matter how prickly his partner was, especially considering their close call. Bodie wished Doyle would simply accept the fact that they'd survived to fight another day, instead of brooding over the messy details.

"'Course I mean Cowley. Who did you think I meant?" Doyle chugged his lager. "Or 'ave you already forgotten what happened today?"

"No, I haven't forgotten." Bodie never knew quite what to do with Doyle when he was in these moods. Okay, so things had gone horribly wrong at the train yard--it wasn't the first time they'd been in a tight situation. And it wasn't the first time someone they'd been protecting had died. No where in the book did it say they had to win them all. Which was why it was dangerous to care. So how come Ray couldn't learn not to get wrapped up emotionally with the job? "I haven't forgotten," he repeated. "But I have put it behind me."

"Yeah, I'm not surprised."

There was no mistaking the bitterness of Doyle's tone. Bodie's sense of contentment was rapidly fading. He turned to face Doyle, ready to either talk him into a good mood or, failing that, to get them both royally pissed. He raised his glass. "Look, mate," he said between sips, "there's no point in getting upset over this. What makes it different from any of the other underhanded things Cowley's done to us over the years?"

Doyle sputtered. "What makes it diff--" He wiped his mouth with his sleeve. "It's different because there was no damn reason for it. Cowley didn't have to tell anyone where we were hiding. Nobody knew about that train car, Bodie. Nobody." He took up his lager for a long gulp.

Bodie shrugged. "We'll probably never know what it was really all about, mate. I don't remember you askin' him afterwards, and I know I didn't. Who knows why he told 'em--he always has a reason."

"Yeah, but it's not always the right reason."

Bodie was getting nowhere fast. Getting plastered was definitely looking like the best bet for a pleasant evening. "It's just politics, Ray," he muttered. "That's what it comes down to." It was his simple answer to most of the job's complexities.

"Christ, Bodie!" Doyle slammed his empty glass on the table. "You don't get it, do you?" He grabbed Bodie's arm, twisting his fingers in the sleeve fabric. "Cowley didn't just lie to us, or send us out on a job without the backup we needed, or keep information from us--he betrayed us, Bodie! Told a whole squad of government hit men who would've killed us to get at Diana Molner exactly where we were holed up. Might as well have pulled the bloody trigger himself." He released Bodie's arm, only to jab him in the shoulder. "I'm sick of it, mate. That bastard's played too many games with my head, and I'm sick of it." Doyle pulled back and stared down into his empty glass.

Bodie sat silently, impassive, prepared to ride out the storm. He finished off his whisky, then slowly shoved the glass toward Doyle's until they gently clinked. "Why do you always take things so hard, Ray?"

Doyle looked up. "Why do you always take things so lightly?"

"That's my role," Bodie said instantly. "It's why we're such a good team--opposites attracting and all that. Wouldn't work if we both thought alike, would it?" He smiled, and was relieved to see the trace of a smile on Doyle's lips.

"Sorry." Doyle let out a pent-up breath. "Shouldn't take it out on you."

"Nah, that's okay. It's what I'm here for."

Doyle gave him a long, searching look that suddenly made Bodie feel knotted up--a strange, melancholy look which sent a shiver of fear through him. Bodie coughed and pretended to clear his throat. "C'mon, mate, 's your round." He gave Doyle's shoulder a light punch. "Don't get so down. We survived, didn't we?"

"Yeah. We did." Doyle stood, picking up both glasses. "Diana Molner didn't."

Bodie sighed. Looked like it was going to be a long night.

Halfway to the bar, Doyle pivoted and came striding back to the table. "Bastard," he said amiably, sliding the glasses towards Bodie. "It's your round."

"Oh, so it is." Bodie tried to look guilty, and failed miserably.

Three hours later Bodie sat sprawled on Doyle's sofa, nursing a scotch, gloriously drunk, expansively at peace with the world and his place in it. He let out a belch and turned his head to look at Doyle, who stood stiffly by the window, drink in hand. With his jacket discarded, his shirt half unbuttoned, and his hair disheveled from constantly running his fingers through it, Doyle looked positively wanton. Old, familiar longings stirred inside Bodie, stirred and inflamed him. Over all these years, he wished he'd had the guts to do something more than snatch the occasional pat, the too-brief touches, the rare hug. He wanted Ray. The thought of it twisted through him, because he'd never done anything more than dream about it in the night. Besides, he was a realist. And every morning reality stared him down.

Bodie swallowed as he looked at the slender figure gazing so morosely out the window at the dark, moonless sky. Something had changed; there was a tension in the room. Bodie felt it, and pushed it ruthlessly aside. He'd been feeling good tonight--content, and ever-so-slightly reckless. To hell with morning and its harsh reality. It wasn't morning yet. "Ray," he said softly, "come here."

Doyle blinked and turned away from the window. "What?"

Bodie grinned. "Your neck muscles are so knotted up you could be mistaken for a tree, mate." He set his drink down. "Come on, a bit of massage'll do you good." He shoved the coffee table out of the way.

Doyle frowned. But he put his glass down, walked a trifle unsteadily over to the sofa, and dropped to the floor, sitting cross-legged between Bodie's legs. As Bodie began kneading the tense neck and shoulder muscles, Doyle let out whimpers of temporary distress.

"Take deep breaths, sunshine."

Doyle did, and the longer Bodie's hands worked at him, massaging out the knots, gently soothing away the aches, the more he relaxed, his body loosening under the touch. He breathed deeply and quietly, his body pliant. Bodie's fingers worked through the soft cotton of Doyle's shirt, while he fervently wished for the warm flesh beneath. All in good time.

His technique was working. Doyle's head lolled, and the low moans of relief he made were sensual music to Bodie's ears. He reveled in the touch, not wanting it to end, wanting to take it one more step...but no, too soon.

"Um," Doyle murmured at length. "You're in the wrong profession, mate."

"You know what they say. Practice makes perfect." Satisfied with the job he'd done, Bodie ran his thumbs quickly down either side of Doyle's spine, then briskly patted his upper back. "Better now?"

"Yeah. Thanks." Doyle put his hands on Bodie's knees to lever himself up. He stretched languidly, then ambled about the room, rubbing his lower back. He came to a stop near the window, but this time he didn't stare outside. Instead he turned to face Bodie, hands on hips. "Feel better physically, anyway."

Bodie shut his eyes. Trust Doyle to squeeze every drop of anguish he could from this. He opened his eyes and said, "What's bothering you now?"

"Nothing that wasn't bothering me before."

"Well, it better not be bothering you the next time you walk into HQ or you'll be out on your ear."

Doyle crossed his arms against his chest. "Won't come to that. I'm packin' it in."

A chill hit Bodie. "You're not serious."

"Told you, I'm sick of it. I can't work for that two-faced bastard any more." He paused; Bodie could see he was trembling. "I can't trust him. God knows what he'll try to do to us next." He stared at Bodie, arms still crossed, fists clenched tightly against his ribs. "Say something, dammit."

Bodie shook his head, disbelieving, wanting it to be a bad dream. "What the hell am I supposed to say?" He felt lost, faced with the emptiness of not having Doyle beside him, day in and day out, working together as if they were one. "And just what the hell am I supposed to do?"

"What do you mean? You don't have to do anything." Doyle tried to smile. "'Cept maybe give me a reference."

"Oh, come on, Ray," Bodie snapped. "You know exactly what I mean." Closing his eyes, he took a deep breath to still his anger and resentment. When he opened his eyes, he said quietly, "You really think I'd go on working without you there?"

"Oh, that's just great." Doyle paced the small room, kicking at the legs of the displaced coffee table. "That's all I need. More guilt." He paused to point an accusing finger at Bodie. "I'm not staying on just 'cause you can't handle it on your own. That's your choice, Bodie, not mine." He resumed his pacing, a loping gait punctuated by short, sharp turns. Bodie kept his mouth shut, watching the restless figure that reminded him of a caged tiger. There wasn't much point, he decided, in holding back now. Might as well tell him the truth. What did he stand to lose? Not the partnership--if Doyle was serious, and he looked serious. Bodie watched him, wanting him more than ever, afraid of losing him one way or another. He felt caught on the edge of a narrow bridge, spanning between dreams turned real and disaster.

Doyle halted in mid-pivot, his back to Bodie. He was still trembling, and for a moment Bodie had the peculiar feeling that Doyle knew, that somehow Doyle had touched his mind. And the next moment the feeling was gone.

Doyle ran his hands through his hair, then he turned and came over to the sofa, stopping near the end where Bodie sat. "I'm sorry," he said, reaching out to brush Bodie's shoulder. "But I can't help how I feel. I want out."

"Yeah, well I can't help how I feel, either." Bodie slowly stood. He knew it was going to happen--he was going to make a move, and it would be decided one way or the other. There was something about the way Ray was looking at him that brought back that same peculiar feeling of oneness...but then, Doyle had always seemed to know what he was thinking.

Doyle shivered, his eyes never leaving Bodie's. "What do you want?"

"To be wherever you are," Bodie said simply. As he reached out to put his hands on Doyle's shoulders, he knew precisely when the pieces clicked into place in Doyle's mind, saw the subtle shift of expression, the slight widening of the eyes. He lifted a hand to brush it across Doyle's cheek.

"Christ, Bodie..." Doyle whispered. His body swayed a little and he dropped his head down, steadied himself, then raised his head, eyes closed. He drew in his breath sharply as Bodie's fingers drifted over his lips. After a long moment, he opened his eyes. "Didn't realize it was like that..."

"No?" Bodie sincerely doubted that. And there was no mistaking the longing in Doyle's expression. Bodie smiled gently, willing the warmth within him to spread out and engulf his partner. "I love you, you know." He pulled Doyle closer. "Even when you're moody."

"'Course I knew that." Doyle swallowed. "But I always thought you were the sensible one. Didn't think you'd ever say it. This is crazy, you know."


Bodie waited in a timeless limbo, seeing the years stretching out before him--years filled either with joy or regret, an entire future hanging on this one moment. He watched the play of expressions across Doyle's face--fear, then curiosity, then something he had trouble naming--not exactly submission, more like acceptance--as if Doyle had suddenly realized the inevitability of it all. Finally, he raised his hand to touch Bodie's face. "Oh, hell," he muttered, and drew Bodie's head close, his lips pressed against Bodie's cheek, then his mouth. Bodie wrapped his arms around the slim waist as Doyle put his around Bodie's shoulders, and their lips parted, mouths opening to each other in a fierce kiss, tongues delving, exploring with passion and strength. The fire spread through him; he wanted more, he wanted all of Ray, all of his love, wanted to possess and be possessed.

As they broke apart, shivering, Bodie raised one quizzical eyebrow. "Does that mean yes?"

Doyle relaxed, resting his head on Bodie's shoulder. "You're gonna drive me nuts, I can tell." He rubbed his cheek against the cotton shirt. "Can't believe this is happening..."

Bodie held him tightly for a long while. Then he lifted Doyle's chin. "Come to bed?"

Doyle chuckled. "It's my flat, Bodie. Shouldn't I be asking you that?"

"If you like." Bodie gazed into sensual green eyes, and he felt the hardness of Doyle's erection rub against his own.

"Yes," Doyle murmured. "I do like."

Bodie woke the next morning to reality--the reality of Ray Doyle curled up beside him on the bed, snoring softly into his shoulder, a mass of curls tickling his nose. He decided he could handle that. He wasn't so sure he could handle his hangover, though.

A few moments later he shifted, trying to get his hip off a lump in the mattress. Doyle mumbled something and yawned; his breath was rank after their night of drinking. He opened bloodshot eyes, rubbing at them.

"You look as terrible as I feel," Bodie said.

"Um." Doyle propped himself up on one elbow and squinted at him. "'s that any way to greet someone who did unspeakable things to your body all night?"

Bodie raised his eyebrows. "Unspeakable?"

"Well, I don't remember talkin' much." Doyle leaned over and kissed him lightly. "Got bad breath."

"So do you." Bodie ran his fingers down Doyle's throat, then spread them across Doyle's chest. "Love you anyway."


"Ray, don't quit." Bodie couldn't help blurting it out.

Doyle sighed. He put his hand on top of Bodie's. "You berk. You didn't seduce me just to keep me from quitting."

"I know." Bodie took a calming breath, still upset at the thought of not working together. "What will you do then?"

"Hm?" Doyle's brow furrowed.

"After you leave CI5," Bodie said patiently. "What will you do?"

Doyle stared at him. "'m not leaving."

It was Bodie's turn to stare. "You're not? But last night you said--"

"Yeah, I know what I said. Changed my mind."

"Oh, you did, did you? When did you do that?"

Doyle shrugged. "Don't remember exactly. Just thought I'd give it one more chance, that's all."

"For my sake, or yours?"

"Doin' it for me." Doyle gave him an exasperated look. "You complainin' about it?"

"Not on your life." Bodie smiled, relief flooding him as he drew Doyle close. He smothered his face and neck with kisses. "Just don't change your mind again tomorrow, okay?"

"It's a promise," Doyle replied.

"Have you ever thought of getting out?"
"Yeah, every time I take the physical. Still, what else would I do?"

--"Discovered in a Graveyard"

During the next week, they were only able to catch a little time together. A con named Jack Stone had given Doyle a ring, asking for help to protect his family. It seemed to Bodie that they worked every day and night on the op, never finding a chance to be alone. And Doyle was off letting his emotions--his sentimentality--get mixed up with the job again. This time things worked out all right. But as far as Bodie was concerned, it was luck just as much as skill. And their luck was always changing.

The following week went better. With nothing to do but catch up on reports and handle a bit of mop-up work, they were able to spend their nights together. Bodie was nervous about things going wrong. He tried to gauge Doyle's prickly moods and anticipate trouble, giving all he had to Ray without trying to smother him. Loving another man was definitely uncertain territory to them both. But Bodie tried not to worry it to death.

Then, the week after, all hell broke loose. An army man named Lawson went on an insane crusade, threatening all of London with the release of deadly nerve gas. Bodie welcomed the adrenalin rush the op provided, while at the same time fraying at the edges from the tension. When it was finally over, with the threat removed, he and Doyle went straight to Doyle's flat for a release they both desperately needed.

After that stressful op, Bodie thought a bit of boring surveillance would be welcome for once. He got what he wanted. They were sent off to follow a pair of suspected terrorists. It wasn't long before Bodie was fidgeting again, wanting some action. They followed the two men around the city, spending more time in their car than anywhere else. But then the terrorists made a move, trying to elude them in a hotel car park. The chase was short and fatal, their enemies blown up when their van crashed. For Bodie, it was a senseless end to a dull assignment, and all he wanted was to forget it and move on.

First he had to suffer through the inquest into the crash. It had turned out the two men were carrying explosives in the van. No doubt they'd done CI5 a favor by blowing themselves up instead of their real target. Bodie impatiently waited for the inquest to end. They had nothing else pressing, and he wanted to spend the rest of the day with Doyle.

His partner sat beside him, looking equally bored. Since Cowley was sitting in the row ahead, Bodie risked nudging Doyle's foot, then gave him a brief leer.

Doyle frowned. "Later," he whispered.


"Maybe this evening," Doyle muttered. "But not right now."

Bodie raised his eyebrows. He started to ask why, but at that moment the verdict was announced, and the inquest was finally over.

As they walked outside, Bodie repeated the obvious. "Death by misadventure. Play around with bombs, you get blown up."

"Cynic," Doyle replied.

"Pragmatist," Bodie insisted.

"I must look that up."

"Yeah, after you've had a drink, mate." Bodie hadn't given up wanting to spend the whole day with his partner.

"No, I'm away."

"Ah, c'mon, one on the corner." Bodie stopped, gesturing towards the pub down the road.

"I've got some chores to do." Doyle kept on walking. "I'll take advantage of me spare time."

Totally frustrated now, Bodie called after him. "But the job's blown up in our faces."

Doyle paused. "Those two kids blew themselves up rather than knock a porter over," he said. "I'll see ya." Then he walked on.

Puzzled, Bodie watched him go. What the hell was Doyle on about now? So the would-be bombers couldn't bring themselves to run down an innocent pedestrian, and had died from that choice. What did that prove? That even terrorists have the odd moral qualm? And what did that have to do with going off alone after the job was done? Bodie shook his head, irritated as usual by his partner's unpredictable moods. Maybe he simply wanted some time to himself. Fine. Doyle had said they could get together in the evening. Smiling in anticipation of the night to come, Bodie went off to the pub by himself.

One pint of lager later, Bodie found he was still staring at the same page of the Sporting News that he'd started on. No matter how hard he concentrated, the words refused to register. Something was bothering him, something vaguely ominous--a shadowy fear had crept up from nowhere and wouldn't let him alone. But he didn't believe in premonitions.

Dismissing the whole thing as a figment of his imagination, Bodie nevertheless gave up on reading, folded the paper, and left the pub. The afternoon sunshine hit him, and he felt happier, again looking forward to the evening. When he reached his car, he heard beeping from the radio--something was wrong. As he called in, he heard the critical words, "No answer from 4.5's flat". In an instant, he was racing across town.

When he broke into Doyle's flat, it was as if he'd already expected the worst, and as he knelt beside Doyle's still form, the blood everywhere, he found it hard to believe that Doyle was actually breathing. But he was.

There was too much blood. Bodie went on automatic pilot, doing what little he could. Stop the bleeding, call the ambulance...while his mind froze in an ice-cold limbo, emotionally hovering between life and death.

And as he rode in the ambulance, he felt far away, somewhere dark and empty, unable to comprehend that it could possibly end this way.

Waiting at the hospital was agonizing; having Cowley order him away to work on the case was worse. He'd wanted to throttle the bastard. Bodie went through the motions of physical action as he worked on the case, trying to track down Doyle's attacker. Just when he was near to breaking down from the strain of holding back, he'd been allowed to return to Doyle's post-op room. There he had felt the connection between them, had known that Doyle had seen him. Then Doyle gave him the clue he needed, with one simple gesture. The clue to his would-be killer's identity as well as the sign Bodie needed. Ray would make it. He'd said so, had repeated it to Cowley as a litany, needing it to be true. And it was.

Six agonizing weeks later Doyle was released from the hospital--pale, weak, thin--and a long, long way to recovery. Bodie's recent fear returned--the fear that Doyle wouldn't want to go on, wouldn't want to bother working for CI5 anymore. Being put out of commission by an injury was always in the back of their minds, it always loomed as a possibility, but why did it have to happen now, dammit? If Ray were afraid to return to the streets, Bodie wouldn't blame him. He shouldn't be pushed to go back. A hell of a lot had changed in a very short time.

He wouldn't push, but Doyle did need some looking after. Though it took more than one blistering argument with Cowley, Bodie finally talked the Old Man into putting him on light office duties for a month. Bodie spent as many hours as he could at Doyle's flat, helping in the kitchen, and with the chores, keeping him entertained, ferrying him to and from the physical therapy sessions.

Being the determined and often stubborn man that he was, Doyle responded quickly to therapy. By the end of that first month home, two-and-a-half months after the shooting, he was ready to return to light workouts and training sessions at the CI5 center. And he was quite capable of looking after his household needs. Bodie found himself back on regular duty, with fewer nights and off days to spend with Doyle.

He went an entire week without seeing him at all. But then the current assignment was wrapped up, and the same evening he stood at Doyle's door, bearing a bottle of pure malt scotch tightly wrapped in gold paper.

Doyle let him in, snatching a quick kiss before grabbing the proffered gift. Bodie followed him into the lounge, admiring the way Doyle neatly filled out his jeans and green cotton shirt; he looked fitter than Bodie'd seen him in some time, and there was a healthy glow in his cheeks. Bodie wandered over to the drinks cabinet to fetch two glasses as Doyle tore the fancy wrapping paper to shreds.

Doyle whistled at the bottle. "You been raidin' Cowley's office, mate?"

"You're not gonna believe this--" Bodie held the glasses as Doyle poured. "--but he gave it to me."

He managed to save most of the liquid that Doyle spilled. "Bloody hell," Doyle sputtered as he regained control. "What'd you do--save the royal family?" He set the bottle on the coffee table and sat down on the sofa.

"Not quite." Bodie joined him. "Saved a minister, though. Pretty ordinary op, really. Threat from the fellow's past, revenge thing. But he was an old mate of Cowley's, and after it was over, I caught the Old Man in an unusually grateful mood."

"And a generous one." Doyle clinked his glass against Bodie's. "Here's to the Cow."

Bodie started to say something, then thought better of it. The last thing he wanted to do was remind Doyle of his previous grudge against Cowley. "Yeah," he said simply, and sipped at the fiery liquid.

Doyle leaned back, his head brushing Bodie's shoulder. "I had a good workout today."

"Yeah? They feed you to Macklin yet?"

"Nah. They're savin' him as a special treat for later. I'm getting there, though." He gave Bodie a searching look. "There's something I've been wanting to talk about."

Bodie steeled himself, wondering if Doyle wanted to discuss their relationship. During the long weeks of Doyle's recovery, Bodie hadn't brought up the subject of sex. Not just because he didn't know when Doyle would be physically capable, but because he wasn't sure if Doyle wanted to start up where they'd left off. It had all been so new before, their roles as lovers barely begun, their relationship on uncertain ground.

There was no way he could refrain from all contact. But he needed to show that it was love, and not lust, to show him that just being close was enough. The gentle touches and caresses continued, and Bodie often put his arms around Doyle, without forcefulness. And he gave him sweet kisses, without expecting more. Every night they had slept in the same bed. Bodie often took care of his needs beforehand--with a warm shower, a vivid imagination, and his right hand. It didn't matter, not when he had Ray lying warmly next to him, not when he had Ray alive.

"It's about the shooting," Doyle finally said.

Here it comes. Bodie shivered. What would it be--no more working together--no more being together? Doyle hadn't talked about the shooting before, not once since it happened. "Yes?" he said, keeping it neutral.

Doyle shifted a bit, edging a little closer to him, until their thighs touched. "I remember some things...odd stuff...from right afterwards. In the flat, and in the ambulance, and in the hospital...don't know quite what to call them--dreams, visions--hallucinations, maybe. Don't remember everything very clearly, but I do know that I kept seeing things--I was in the dreams, talking to, for one. And Cowley."

Bodie stared at him, surprised, not having expected this at all. "Why didn't you tell me before?"

"I dunno..." Doyle shrugged. "Seemed too weird. Still seems weird."

Bodie could sense the tension running through Doyle's body. "Doesn't sound all that odd to me, mate. People often have strange experiences when they're--" he paused. "--when they're near death. Go ahead and tell me. Do you remember any of the conversations?"

"Some of 'em." Doyle took a deep breath. "There was some stuff from my past--when I first joined the squad. And a lot of talk about guilt...about deserving what I got--"

"Nonsense," Bodie interrupted.

"Yeah." Doyle drank most of his scotch in one large gulp, then coughed lightly. "And I remember talking to Cowley about the uselessness of what we do. Don't know what it all means, 'cept maybe I was pretty depressed."

Bodie took a big drink of scotch himself. "Maybe you were trying to make a decision. 'Bout whether to stick it out or not." He tried to smile. "You're still here, mate. Guess that means you want to go on. With the squad, I mean."

"'S the first time you've mentioned it, you know." Doyle finished his drink and set the glass down. He laid his hand on Bodie's thigh. "Didn't know how you felt. Didn't know if you wanted me to come back--"

Bodie set his own drink aside. "'Course I do. Just wasn't gonna push you. Want it to be your decision, Ray."

"Thanks." Doyle gently squeezed Bodie's thigh. "I've missed you. The whole week's been hell without you around."

Immensely pleased, and trying not to show it, Bodie merely smiled. "Missed you, too."

"I do want back," Doyle replied. His hand moved up to Bodie's chest. "And I want you." He deftly undid the top three buttons of Bodie's shirt and slid his hand inside, caressing the flesh beneath.

"Christ, Ray..." Bodie felt his erection straining against tight fabric. He pulled at Doyle's shirt, nearly tearing it apart as he yanked it free and slid it off as Doyle returned the favor. "Been so long..." He gingerly touched Doyle's chest; there was no way to explore it without encountering the scarring.

"Doesn't hurt anymore, Bodie. You don't have to take it easy--"


"No." Doyle pinched one of Bodie's nipples, hard. "Go for it." He suddenly frowned. "Does it bother you?"

In response, Bodie traced the scars lightly, then bent to plant kisses along Doyle's abdomen and chest, working his way up to his throat, and finally, his lips. After a lingering kiss, he pulled away to find himself gazing into content green eyes.

"Guess it doesn't bother you," Doyle said huskily.

"Guess not."

Doyle smiled. "Was worried 'bout you for a bit there. Thought you'd gone off me and found a bird."

"Nah. Just waitin' for you to get well enough to make the first move."

"Well, I'm makin' it." Doyle rubbed his hand over Bodie's crotch, nearly sending him over the edge right then. "Don't wanna make it on the sofa, though. Might prove a little uncomfortable--" He moved off it, pulling Bodie up. "C'mon. Think you can walk to the bedroom without bustin' out of your trousers?"

Bodie had serious doubts about that. But he managed, barely, to reach the bedroom, hurriedly stripping out of the rest of his clothes. Doyle was already on the bed, equally naked, sprawled in wanton invitation. Bodie crawled in beside him and gathered him up.

"One more thing," Doyle murmured between kisses.

Bodie rolled his eyes. One of these days Doyle would figure out when to end a conversation. "What?"

"When I come back on active duty--"

"That'll be a good while yet, Ray. Why worry about it now-" The only thing he wanted to worry about was the painful constriction in his balls.

Doyle pulled back from their embrace. "When I come back, I want things to be the same as they were before."

Bodie propped himself up on an elbow, thoroughly puzzled. "What do you mean?"

"I mean," Doyle said in a determined tone, "no worrying about me gettin' hurt again, no coddling--"

"Oh, hell. Is that all?"

"This is serious, Bodie."

Letting out a long-suffering sigh, Bodie nodded. "Okay. I'm listening."

"Just don't want you thinkin' this--" Doyle traced his scars. "--makes a difference--"

"Well, it does. You expect me not to worry about you when you go around not settin' locks--"

"Yeah, okay," Doyle conceded, "but I don't want you thinkin' I can't handle an op--"

"When have I ever done that?"

Doyle paused. "Well..."

"Well, nothing." Bodie had had enough of this nonsense. "What are you on about? Why would I treat you differently, Ray? Not 'cause you got shot, mate."

"No. Because we're lovers."

Bodie frowned, trying to puzzle out Doyle's convoluted thought processes. "You think I'll worry more about you during ops now, is that it? More than I did before?" He shook his head, smiling. "Aren't you going to worry more about me?"

"Probably. Don't want it to affect our work, that's all."

"It won't."

"It had better not," Doyle said. "Or we could be out of a job."

Bodie sighed. "Wish you wouldn't talk like that. We'll be all right. 'Sides, what else would we do?" He leaned over to nuzzle Doyle's ear. "'S not a bad job. I mean, it's better than working on a lathe."

Doyle's head jerked. "What'd you say?"

"I said, it beats working on a lathe--" Bodie paused. Doyle was staring at him, trembling. "What's wrong?"

"I've heard that before," Doyle replied shakily. He cupped Bodie's face. "In those dreams--" Then he kissed him fiercely, tongue delving deep into Bodie's mouth. He twined his legs round Bodie's, his hands searching, finding Bodie's hardened cock, suddenly fired with renewed passion.

Bodie broke the kiss, startled at the intensity of the attack. "Well, that's one way to rebuild your stamina..."

"Be quiet," Doyle ordered, covering Bodie's mouth with his, roughly pushing his head down as he probed with his tongue, not relinquishing the kiss until they were both gasping.

Bodie didn't say a word. He thrust his cock against Doyle's, arms wrapped round Doyle's waist. As he moved his hips and thighs in an anxious rhythm, Doyle's hand moved between his thighs to stroke his tight balls. Doyle kissed his neck, then his collarbone, then his mouth fastened on Bodie's shoulder to suck and nip at the solid flesh, shocking Bodie with its intensity. Doyle licked and sucked along the smooth muscles down to Bodie's nipple, where he bit none too gently, making Bodie give a little cry. Bodie arched his body, throwing his head back as Doyle's hand wrapped briefly round his cock. He released his hold on Doyle's waist. Doyle curled to touch Bodie's cock with his lips, running his tongue over the tip before taking the engorged shaft as far as possible into the warm, moist mouth, sucking fiercely as Bodie surged against him, unable to control himself, to make it last. A rushing wave of ecstatic release roared through Bodie as he came, as Doyle continued to suck, eagerly swallowing, relentlessly demanding, only letting him go when there was nothing more Bodie could give.

He felt his whole body collapse, satiated, serene. Doyle still lay curled beside him, his head resting on Bodie's abdomen. There was a familiar stickiness on Bodie's thigh, evidence of Doyle's own release.

Doyle lazily lifted his head and realigned himself alongside his partner. Bodie took him in his arms, kissing his forehead before allowing the curly head to drop onto his shoulder. "Love you," he murmured in Doyle's ear. "Was terrific..."

"Um," Doyle replied sleepily. "Worth waiting for?"

"Always," Bodie said. He closed his eyes, letting other senses take in the feel of smooth, warm flesh, the smell of sweat and sex. Listening to the slow, steady breaths, he felt the tickling of air across his chest. Then he heard Doyle mumble.

"Thought you were asleep." Bodie nuzzled soft curls. "What'd you say?"

"Said, 'love you, too'," Doyle repeated.

"Oh." Bodie smiled. "That's good..."

He drifted into sleep, holding and being held, wishing they could lie there forever, and knowing it couldn't be so.

"Never knew you cared..."
--"The Untouchables"

Bodie crossed the lounge of Doyle's undercover flat. It was a fancy place, all part of a fancy trap to catch a killer named Rahad. Bodie's role was to play the "over-his-head" compulsive gambler, a role he'd been carrying off with aplomb. The complexity of the op concerned him, though--too many pieces had to fit neatly into too many places at just the right time.

Doyle sat in a chair, drink in hand. Bodie headed for the opposite chair and, leaning close to Doyle as he took a seat, said, "Whose idea was this, anyway?"

"Yours," Doyle replied.

Bodie pointed an accusing finger. "No, it wasn't. It was yours."


"Was yours!"

Doyle raised his eyebrows. "Musta been Cowley's, then."

Bodie considered this. "Oh. Might work, then." He waited patiently for Doyle to offer him a drink, which was not forthcoming.

"What're you doin' here?" his partner asked instead, in a tone that warned Bodie that Doyle was in one of his moods. The op had been a bit of a strain, but not that much. He wondered what his prickly partner was brooding about now.

"Came to see how you were, mate."

Doyle twirled his near-empty glass, making the ice cubes clink. "Yeah, well, you could be blowin' your cover comin' here. We're supposed to be on the outs, remember?"

Bodie shrugged. "I wasn't followed. You gonna offer me a drink, or is that just for show?"

Doyle finished off the last few sips, then stood and crossed to the drinks cabinet. "Scotch okay?"

"Fine." Bodie studied the tense figure. Something was wrong. "Is it the op?" he asked as Doyle brought him his drink.

"What?" Doyle sank back into his chair.

"Whatever's eatin' you--" Bodie paused. "It's not the Terringham girl, is it? I'm just playing a part, Ray. Doesn't mean anything."

"No. It's not that." Doyle hunched his body forward, elbows on knees. He rolled the glass between his palms. "Didn't have a chance to talk to you before this op. The day before it started, Ross gave me an assessment." He looked at Bodie with an uncertain expression. "Been havin' 'em between assignments, since I got back on the streets. She's checking up on me."

An uneasy flutter took up residence in Bodie's stomach. "What'd she ask you?"

"Way too much." Doyle took a gulp of his scotch, then wiped his mouth with his sleeve. "She asked about my sex life, for one thing."

Bodie just stared at him. "What'd you tell her?"

"What do you think? Told her it was fine." Doyle sighed. "Then she started asking a lot of questions about you."

Oh, shit, Bodie thought. She knows. Kate Ross knows about us. "Like what?"

"Like, how did I feel about you since the shooting."

Bodie sat up straight. "Since the--"

"Yeah. Did I feel too dependent on you, or did I feel grateful, or resentful, that sort of thing. And how did I think you felt towards me. Told her to ask you herself. She said she'd do that."

"Oh, great." Bodie downed half the contents of his glass in one swallow. "Either she knows, or she's damned suspicious. Anything else I should know?"

Doyle shifted uneasily in the chair. "She'll probably ask you what you'd have done if I'd died."

The fluttering in Bodie's stomach started turning somersaults. "Did she ask you that?"

"She wanted to know what I'd do if anything happened to you. Maybe she knows about us, maybe she doesn't, but she does think we're too close." Doyle took a deep breath, letting it out slowly. "Too close to work together. You know Cowley doesn't like his agents getting too dependent on each other--"

"To hell with Cowley." Bodie took another large gulp. "To hell with Kate Ross, too. They don't work on the streets--well, not enough, anyway. 'Course we depend on each other. Who the hell else is there to trust?"

"Maybe," Doyle replied quietly. "She could be right."

Bodie nearly spilled his drink. "What do you mean?"

"I mean, we could be too close. Ross probably isn't the only one who's suspicious. What if Cowley finds out? We'll be on the dole, mate."

"Few months back you were ready to leave," Bodie said, though he knew the reminder wasn't needed.

"Yeah, and I changed my mind."

"But not for my sake."

"That's right." Doyle spoke through tight lips.

Bodie waited for him to state the obvious--that if Doyle hadn't stayed on the squad because of him, he also wouldn't be forced to leave because of him. But Doyle left it unsaid, hanging between them, an invisible threat.

Exasperated by the downbeat mood, Bodie finally responded by holding his glass out. "Another?" He'd been missing Ray during this undercover assignment; he'd been hoping they could be together tonight.

"No." Doyle took Bodie's glass and set it aside. "You'd better go."

Bodie blinked, not believing he'd heard it. "What's gotten into you? Christ, Doyle, you have one little scare from Ross and you totally lose it--"

Doyle stood, obviously expecting Bodie to get up. "I just think we should cool it for a bit, that's all."

"Just like that?" Bodie tried to keep his voice even, controlled, though his guts were churning. He rose to face Doyle. Something Doyle said earlier suddenly came back to him. "What did you tell her, anyway?"

"Huh?" It was Doyle's turn to look perplexed.

"When she asked you what you'd do if I died," Bodie said carefully. "What did you tell her?"

Doyle spoke through clenched teeth. "Said I didn't know what I'd do."

"And is that the truth?"

Doyle held Bodie's gaze. "Yes."

Bodie frowned. Did he really expect Doyle to say that he'd fall apart? To make some grand declaration that his world would come to an end if Bodie was no longer in his life? Yes, he thought, he did--because that was how would feel if anything happened to Doyle.

Into the strained silence, Doyle said, "We can't do or say anything to make Ross or Cowley suspicious--don't you see that?" He paused. "You shouldn't have come here tonight."

"I wanted to see you," Bodie snapped. "And that's all." He broke his gaze and turned away.

"Bodie." Doyle tugged at his sleeve. "I'm not sayin' I want to end it--"

Bodie searched Doyle's face, saw the confusion there. "You just want to 'cool it' for a while, right?"

Doyle nodded. "Don't like being too involved."

"Yeah." Bodie shrugged off Doyle's grip. He thought back to Ann Holly, to the time Doyle had done exactly that--gotten too involved. And been hurt. Too damn sensitive, that was Doyle's problem. But this time, Bodie wasn't going to play along. "Well, let me tell you something, mate. I don't do things by half-measures. It's all or nothing. Let me know when you figure it out." He made it to the door and let himself out without turning back.

The next night he found himself back at Doyle's flat, the operation successfully concluded. Cowley and Anna, their undercover call girl, had come by to celebrate; now, at a quite late hour, they were being ushered out the door. Bodie paused on the threshold, watching the two walk to Cowley's car, Doyle beside him. There was no telling what kind of mood Doyle was in; he was very good at putting on a facade when needed. The safest thing would be to leave, and let everything settle for a day or two.

Bodie went back to the lounge to pick up his jacket. He heard the front door click shut. When he turned round, he saw Doyle standing a few feet away, hands on hips, chest heaving, face flushed. A minute ago he'd been cheerfully waving Cowley goodnight; now, he was clearly furious. Bodie had a good idea why.

"You fucking bastard," Doyle snapped.

"Look, I'm sorry--"

"I'll bet." Doyle glared at him. "What the bloody 'ell did you think you were playin' at, lying there not moving? For all I knew you could've been dead!"

"Okay, it was a stupid stunt to pull." Bodie tried to keep his voice level, not wanting to fight. "I wish I hadn't done it. Don't know what came over me."

"Downright cruel, that's what it was." Doyle wasn't calming down, still breathing rapidly, his cheeks still reddened. "You're a right bastard--"

"Said that already," Bodie replied tiredly, drained from the events of the past twenty-four hours. "Was just a stupid prank. You were smiling."

"What'd you want me to do with Cowley standing there? You really have a nerve, mate."

Bodie put on his jacket. "I'm sorry." He tried to walk past his partner, but Doyle grabbed his arm.

"Oh, no, you don't--"

"Why? What do you want to argue about now?"

Doyle kept a firm grip on his arm. "I want to know why you did it." He paused to study Bodie's face. "It's 'cause of what I said earlier, isn't it? 'Cause I said I didn't know what I'd do if--" He took a steadying breath. "You could've been dead, Bodie. 'S that what you wanted me to think? Did you want to know what I'd do that badly? Well, I hope you were satisfied."

"Ray, it was a mistake. A stupid one. How many times do I have to tell you I'm sorry?"

Doyle let go of him. "'Til I damn well believe it." He rubbed his hand over his face, then back through his hair. "I've never been so furious in my life--" He started to turn away, but Bodie took him by the shoulders and turned him back.

"Neither have I," he said. He touched Doyle's cheek. "I need you. What's so terrible about me wanting you to need me as well?"

Doyle took Bodie's hand in his and pulled it away from his face, but he didn't let go. "You're talkin' commitment, Bodie."

"Funny. Thought I'd been talkin' that months ago, when I said I loved you."

Doyle looked up at the ceiling, then to the left and to the right, anywhere but at Bodie. He ended by staring down at his feet. "How many times've you said that before?" He looked up to finally meet Bodie's eyes. "To all your birds?"

Bodie rolled his eyes. "That's different, and you know it. Said it to get 'em into bed--"

"Yeah, well, you said it to me, and got me into bed, didn't you?"

"Seemed pretty mutual at the time," Bodie snapped. "'Sides, didn't have to get you into bed. Wanted to--but I didn't have to."

Doyle frowned. "And what's that supposed to mean?"

"It means, you idiot--" Bodie took both Doyle's hands in his and kissed them. "--that I'd love you whether I was in your bed or not."

"You what--" Doyle's eyes widened as Bodie dropped his hands and just stood there, looking at him.

"I need you," Bodie repeated softly. His voice turned into a husky whisper. "Want you, too. But that's only a small part of it, Ray. I want to be with you as much as I can--no 'cooling it', no holding back. And I don't care what anyone thinks. You're my closest friend, dammit--why shouldn't we spend a lot of time together?" He reached out tentatively, brushing his fingers against Doyle's cheek. "Just want to be near you. I love you."

"You bastard," Doyle said quietly. He pulled Bodie into an embrace, and Bodie relaxed in his arms. "Where the hell've you been hidin' him all these years?" Doyle said in a choked voice.


"Bodie the Romantic, that's who." Doyle pulled away a bit to look him in the eyes. "I just can't figure you out sometimes." He touched Bodie's lips, then leaned in to kiss him. They lingered over it, letting the exploration last, until Doyle broke away to kiss the tip of Bodie's nose, then his cheek, ear, and down to his neck.

As Bodie pulled back, he lifted Doyle's chin, cupping his face in his hands. "Could spend a lifetime at it, you know."

"At what?"

"Figurin' me out."

"Oh, that." Doyle smiled, turning to kiss Bodie's palm. "Yeah, might take that long."

Bodie brushed his fingers over Doyle's face, wanting to burn its image into his memory forever. "I know you're worried about someone finding out." He kissed his forehead. "And I know you're scared about us. So am I." Then he ran his hand gently down Doyle's throat, to the buttons of his shirt, deftly undoing each one. "You're not the only one who's ever been hurt--" Sliding his hand against warm flesh, he felt the tautness of hard muscle. Doyle wrapped his arms tightly round Bodie's waist, and his hips thrust against him. "One of these days," Bodie whispered in Doyle's ear, "you're going to learn to let the past go."

Doyle's hands tore at Bodie's jacket and shirt. "All right if I start now?" he said, nipping eagerly at Bodie's earlobe.

"Yeah, I think I could handle that." Bodie pulled away, grinning. "Which way's the bedroom?"

His partner gave him a look of mock suspicion. "You tryin' to get me into bed again?"

"Well, if you'd rather do it here on the carpet..."

Doyle shook his head, laughing. "It's an undercover flat, mate." He looked down at the carpet. "Has to be left spotless." He looked up at Bodie, a twinkle in his eyes. "Sheets are easier to clean." Then he took Bodie by the wrist and led him down the hallway.

"I had Louise lined up for tonight--"
" priapismic monster."

--"The Ojuka Situation

Bodie neatly crossed out ten of the eleven names under "C" in his little black address book. He considered the eleventh, then transferred it to his new address book. As he flipped a page of the old book over, Doyle strolled out of the kitchen, carrying a bottle of wine and two glasses. He set them on the coffee table, then came over to the writing desk Bodie sat at and leaned against its edge. "What're you doin'?" Doyle looked curiously at the two little books.

"Excising," Bodie replied, crossing through a row of D's.

"All your birds?"

"Most of 'em." Bodie smiled as Doyle gave him a quizzical look. "A few of them ended up being friends. After we broke up. Wouldn't want to chuck them along with the rest."

"You don't miss 'em, then?"

Bodie crossed out the entire "D" section. "Hm?"

"Birds. I mean, it's been a while, hasn't it. D'you miss 'em?"

Bodie looked up into intense green eyes. "Well, I can still appreciate the form--a nice bit of cleavage and all--doesn't hurt to look." He grinned. "You know, I always went for athletic birds. Wonder what that meant?"

Doyle's eyebrows went up. "Ask Kate Ross, mate, not me."

Bodie grimaced, reminded of his most recent interview with the psychiatrist. She had sneaky ways of digging into his psyche which unnerved him. "Nah, 'm just teasin'," he said. "Don't care to know why I want you." He reached to pull Doyle onto his lap, wrapping his arms around him. "Just know that I do." He kissed the full lips.

When they drew apart, Doyle nodded towards the wine. "Thought you might like to try something different tonight. You don't usually go for wine." He hopped up. "Forgot the corkscrew."

As Doyle sauntered back into the kitchen, Bodie admired Doyle's tightly-clad rear. There was a particular act they hadn't tried yet in their sexual relationship, and the address book, along with Doyle's question about women, brought it to the forefront of Bodie's mind. In the early days, before Doyle's shooting, they simply hadn't gotten round to it, and during the long months of Doyle's recovery, Bodie had felt they should take things easy. Lately though, he'd mentioned it a couple of times; each time, Doyle merely shrugged and said, "Anytime you're ready."

Doyle's casualness hadn't fooled Bodie; it made them both nervous. So he had planned, and waited, wanting the mood and the moment to be just right.

Doyle came back out, twirling the corkscrew. He ambled over to the coffee table to open the wine. "Anything good on the box?"

"Don't know." As Bodie crossed to the TV, he glanced at the cabinet it sat atop. His eyes lit up. Of course--why hadn't he thought of that before? "About my birds--" he said, kneeling to open the cabinet. "There is one I can't give up. Louise. She's very entertaining. Can't possibly part with her." He glanced over at Doyle, whose eyes had narrowed. "C'mon, I'll show you."

"You got a photo or something?" Doyle padded over.

Bodie revealed the VCR inside the cabinet, and a small stack of tapes.

Doyle whistled. "When did you get that? Must've cost a fortune--"

"Nah, got it at a pawn shop." Bodie pulled out the tapes and handed them over.

"'Luscious Louise and the Soccer Team'." Doyle chuckled as he examined the lurid covers. "'Louise at the Rugby Match.' 'Louise and the Sticky Wicket'?"

"That's a classic, that is." Bodie popped a cassette in the machine.

"She's got red hair," Doyle observed, taking a closer look at the tapes. "Wonder what that means."

"It means I've always fancied redheads," Bodie replied. He turned the television on. "What do you say--the bottle of wine, a comfortable sofa, a little Louise..."

"Looks like a lot of Louise to me." Doyle set the rest of the tapes down and ambled over to the sofa. He plopped down and started pouring the wine as Bodie joined him. On the screen, the tall, leggy, amply-figured star of many of Bodie's fantasies began her adventures with the entire male component of the Wimbledon Tennis Tournament.

Bodie leaned back, glass in hand, his other arm draped round Doyle's shoulders. The perusal of his address book had also served to remind him just how pleasant it was not to have to deal with the constant chatting up of birds anymore. He'd been through so many over the years that their names and faces ran together in his mind, especially as they had never been more than light entertainment. The thought of getting serious--of settling down with one of them--had never occurred to him.

"Didn't know you were into spanking," Doyle said.

Bodie started; his attention hadn't been on the screen. When he looked, he saw one of the tennis stars lightly paddling Louise's ample bottom with his racket. Squeals of delight erupted from her. "She's got a nice bum," Bodie mumured.

"You like 'em big, then?" Doyle cast him a meaningful look.

Bodie pursed his lips, thinking of Doyle's slim, tight buttocks. "Sometimes," he replied.

On the set, the tennis racket was disposed with, to be replaced by gentle caresses of Louise's backside. The gentle exploration ended with a spreading of cheeks and a probing finger, punctuated by delighted giggling. Bodie risked a glance at his partner. Doyle sat transfixed, his wine barely touched.

"Bodie..." he said, "is he really going to do her up the arse..."

"Yeah," Bodie admitted. "It's Louise's, um...specialty." He felt Doyle's hand on his thigh, kneading it to the rhythm of the screen action. Glad Doyle was enjoying the video, Bodie said, "It's good, doing it that ever tried it?"

"No," Doyle replied. His gaze didn't waver; Bodie wondered if Doyle was even aware of what he was doing with his hand. A quick glance at the television confirmed that the young man in question was, indeed, doing Louise up the arse. Rather vigorously, too. Louise was having a good time. So was Doyle.

Bodie had lost all interest in the wine. He set his glass down. Doyle's hand was snaking its way towards Bodie's crotch, and to his aroused cock. "Like Louise, do you?" Bodie whispered in Doyle's ear, while snatching the still-full glass from Doyle's hand and putting it on the table.

Doyle finally broke his entranced study of the screen to look in Bodie's eyes. "She's very...athletic."

"Yeah. And so am I." Bodie pounced on him, shoving him backwards onto the cushions, straddling his hips. He leaned down, and as their mouths met in a wild kiss, Bodie ground his groin against Doyle's, hard and urgent. He wanted Doyle inside him--he wanted to be inside Doyle--both ideas sent a shiver of excitement through him. Either way, he wanted it to be right.

Bodie watched the man lying beneath him. Doyle unbuttoned his own shirt and tugged it free from his jeans, then undid the zip, letting his hand linger on the obvious erection beneath the cotton briefs. "That didn't take long," Bodie said, smiling. "Can see I'm gonna have to put Louise on more often."

"Yeah." Doyle grinned and reached to pull at Bodie's belt. "I could get into it..."

"You sure?" Bodie grabbed Doyle's hand and stilled it, quite serious now. "What if I said I wanted you in me?"

Doyle swallowed, then his lips curved up in a mischievous smile. "Think I'd ask you if that really was a tube of K-Y Jelly I saw in your bathroom cabinet."

A flush rose on Bodie's cheeks. "Oh, that..." He cleared his throat. "Got it last month. You know, contingency planning and all."

"You've always been good at that." Doyle twisted his fingers, entwining them in Bodie's. "What's the next manoeuver, then?"

"Well, one of us makes a quick trip to the bath--"

"That'll be you, mate."

"--and the other one decides if he wants to do it on the sofa or would rather do it in the bedroom-"

"I'd do it in the fucking hallway--"

"Good with words, aren't you?"

Doyle let go of his hand and used his legs to lever Bodie off the sofa. "Get movin', you great lug."

"Love it when you get romantic." Bodie made a hasty exit toward the bath. He heard Doyle padding behind him, heard him moving on to the bedroom. He could live with Doyle twenty-four hours a day if he always stayed in that light, bantering mood. It was his favorite side of his partner. Bodie sighed and grabbed the tube of lubricant, then walked into the bedroom. Doyle already lay naked on the bed, clothes hastily tossed across the floor, the duvet thrown back. He was stretched out on his side, head propped up on his elbow. His other hand lightly stroked his erect penis.

Bodie came to an abrupt halt. He closed his eyes. "For chrissakes, Ray--I'm trying to make this last--" As his erection strained against restricting cloth, Bodie heard a throaty chuckle.

"Got you a bit worked up, then?"

"Bloody hell." Bodie bit his lower lip, convinced he would burst through his trousers any second. He opened his eyes, tossed the tube on the bed, and turned his back to Doyle. As he finished undressing, he tried hard to tune out the soft moaning sounds Doyle made. "Ra-y-" Bodie drew the name out, with just a hint of menace.

"Hm? Having trouble with your zip, are you? Um...I like this stuff, Bodie...goes on nice and smooth...very slick."

"Shut up." Bodie finally wriggled free of the last article of clothing and turned, bearing down on the bed, making the springs groan as he landed on it. Doyle was lovingly smearing jelly over his rampant cock. "Hello, there," he said. "'Bout time you joined in."

Bodie clenched his teeth, his own cock hard, his balls tight, ready for release. But he was determined to draw it out as long as he could. He risked a light tracing with one finger up and down Doyle's chest, then briefly drew a circle round each nipple. "Um, how do you want, hell..." He couldn't take looking at Doyle's incredibly aroused body anymore, and made the decision for him, rolling away onto his side, his back to Doyle. Bodie raised one knee and clutched the pillow. His whole body was so tightly strung he was afraid he'd come the second Doyle touched him. Closing his eyes, he tried to will himself to relax.

"You got it bad, mate," Doyle whispered. Bodie felt him shift closer, felt the breath tickling his neck as Doyle leaned in to nuzzle the short wisps of hair there. He moaned as Doyle's lips touched his shoulder, then made little forays down his spine. Each time the warm, moist lips pressed against his skin and drew away again, Bodie tingled in anticipation of the next touch. The gentle advance moved downward to his lower back, then the top of his buttocks. Bodie's cock throbbed beneath him, pressing into the mattress, pulsing harder as Doyle kissed and sucked at his flesh. Doyle's tongue suddenly licked between the cleft, sending a shiver up Bodie's spine. He took deep, ragged breaths, face turned into the pillow, mouth open wide, not wanting the sensation to end, wanting more. Releasing his vise-like grip on the pillowcase, he brought his hand to his mouth, rhythmically sucking on his own wrist. Doyle's tongue was replaced by a finger, slick with the jelly, probing into the opening, sending another jolt through him. Bodie let out a whimper as another finger joined the first.


He felt Ray's hesitation. "Go on. Please...want you--"

The fingers went deeper, and Bodie bit his hand as pain flared through him, then subsided. He was on fire, his cock straining against the bed, aching for more. "Come on -- do it!"

The fingers slid out and the tip of Doyle's cock nudged its way in, seeking, prodding, inflaming Bodie all over again, hurting but feeling good just the same. Then Doyle began thrusting in earnest, driving Bodie past the pain and into another realm of agonizing pleasure. He thrust back with his hips, urging Ray on with an incoherent shout. Doyle's hand slid round him to wrap around Bodie's cock. One touch was enough to send Bodie over the edge, his body trembling uncontrollably as the fluid spurted over Doyle's fingers.

The spasms went on for a long time, keeping Bodie in a haze of pleasure so intense that he was barely aware of Doyle's continued thrusts, dimly conscious of Doyle's sudden jerks, his cries echoing around him. As Bodie's orgasm finally ebbed, leaving him faintly tingling all over, he slowly became aware of Doyle's own completion, the wet warmth still within him.

Doyle slid out of him, and Bodie rolled limply over to face him, to draw him close for a breathless kiss. Then he dropped his head on Doyle's shoulder, throwing an arm across Doyle's chest.

"What's this..." Doyle ran his fingers over Bodie's hand. "Got teethmarks there--"

"Um. Guess I must've bit it. Doesn't matter."

"No?" Doyle gently rubbed Bodie's hand and wrist. "Can do it the other way round next time if you like--"

"Don't care," Bodie murmured sleepily, glad that there would be a next time. "Do it anyway you want. 'S fantastic..."



"Yeah, it was," Doyle confirmed. He paused. "Bodie..."


"Do you hear that?"

Bodie frowned, too tired and too satiated to really concentrate. But yes, somewhere in the background was a low murmur of voices and a lot of thumping noises. He smiled and closed his eyes. "Left the video on," he muttered. "'S okay, it'll shut itself off. Found it quite inspirational..."

"So did I." Doyle kicked at the duvet until the top edge was within reach, then he pulled it up over them, snuggling into Bodie's embrace. "And you're right," he said softly, "you can't give up Louise. We'll have to watch some more of those tapes, mate. She's very educational."

"I'll remember that..." Bodie sleepily replied.

"I'll have no heroics on Doyle's behalf."
--"The Ojuka Situation"

"Sit down, 3.7."

Bodie sat in the hardbacked chair across from Cowley's desk. He looked at the file folder that lay open in front of his boss, and saw the unmistakable cramped handwriting of Kate Ross.

"You disobeyed my order," Cowley said. He propped his chin on steepled fingers.

There was no denying it; Bodie had certainly done so--had gone in when Cowley had told him to stay put. "Yes, sir." He decided to keep things simple. "Sorry, sir."

Cowley studied him for a few moments, then he picked up a pen and rolled it between his fingers. "You went in because you wanted to rescue Doyle."

"Yes, sir."

"You had no concern for the hostage. Or for the operation. Your precipitous presence initiated a gun battle--the only fortunate result of which is that no one on our side was injured." He paused. "Why did you do it?"

Bodie knew Cowley didn't need to ask that. The reason was no doubt somewhere in that file folder. "Doyle was in danger of being killed. I couldn't just sit there and wait."

"Aye." Cowley tapped the pen idly against the edge of the folder. "And would you have done the same for anyone else?"

Bodie shifted a bit in the chair. "What do you mean?"

"It's quite simple. Say, for example, that the agent being held inside that house had been, oh, McCabe. Or Lucas. Would you still have disobeyed my order?"

There was an uncomfortable silence as Bodie stared at him, unable to answer. He knew what he would have done if it had been someone else, and he didn't know if he liked that knowledge, but it was the cold truth. "Doyle's not just my partner," he replied. "He's my friend. And the answer is probably 'no'." Bodie's hands felt damp; he rubbed them on his trousers.

Cowley nodded. He picked up the top paper from the file. "Dr. Ross has been concerned about you two for some time. She suggested you no longer work as a team." He set the paper aside. "That was well over a year ago."

Bodie blinked in surprise. Over a year--long before they'd become lovers--

"Her more recent report says much the same thing." Cowley picked up the next few pages. "She says that you and Doyle are too dependent on each other. That you've developed an 'us against the world' attitude which is not uncommon in partnerships of this sort. And that your closeness could jeopardize an assignment." Cowley looked up, his expression stern. "I didn't split you up then because you were my best team. CI5 has invested a great deal of time and money in you two. The expertise you provide to this outfit would be difficult to match." He paused again. When he resumed, his tone was more concerned. "Tell me, Bodie, if I did split you and Doyle up, would you stay on in CI5?"

Bodie looked straight at him. "I doubt it."

"As I thought. Would Doyle?"

"Don't know. Why don't you ask him yourself?"

Cowley set the pages back in order and closed the folder. "That won't be necessary. I won't deny the obvious. I need the two of you, as a team." The stern tone returned. "That does not mean you can use that knowledge as a threat, nor do I want you using it as an excuse to do as you damn well please. I give orders for a reason, is that understood?"

"Yes, sir." Bodie realized he'd won yet again, and did his best not to smile.

"You'll both be assigned to a month in Records," Cowley added. "It's your punishment, but since you and Doyle insist on sharing everything..." He smiled, and Bodie felt his brief joy vanish. "I'll let you tell him. That's all, 3.7."

Bodie sighed. "Yes, sir." He left the room and headed slowly down to the lounge, where he knew Doyle was waiting. The small, cluttered room was mercifully empty save for his partner. Doyle sat at the large central table, head bent over the paper where he jotted notes on their report.

Bodie crossed to the counter and the always warm kettle to pour out some tea. "Want a cuppa?"

"Yeah." Doyle glanced up. "How'd it go?"

"Not bad." He brought the two steaming mugs to the table and sat across from Doyle. "How're your wrists?"

"Not bad." Doyle took the mug and sipped the tea. He stared blankly at the report. Bodie didn't like it; Doyle looked subdued, even unhappy. Not being in a particularly good mood after his encounter with Cowley, the last thing Bodie needed was a tense conversation with his partner. After a few more moments of silence, he finally said, "What's on your mind, then?"

In response, Doyle shoved the report across the table at him. "Why'd you do it?"

"Oh, hell--don't you start." Of all the people who might have questioned Bodie's act of disobedience, Doyle should've been the last. "Just what the hell was I meant to do? You were in danger--"

"Was doin' all right on my own."

"Oh, yeah?" Bodie swiped at the papers, scattering them. "And what if you hadn't?"

"Then I'd be dead, mate," Doyle replied, his voice rising. "By the time you'd've got inside that house, it would've been too late. Dammit, Bodie, if you're gonna risk gettin' tossed off the squad, at least get it right--"

"For chrissakes, Ray." Bodie slammed his chair back, grabbed his mug, and strode over to the sink, trying to control his anger. "You know what it's like out there--how tough it is to make the right decision at exactly the right time." He drained his tea, set the mug on the counter, and came back to stand near Doyle, leaning his hands on the table. "What the hell would you have done in my place?"

Doyle looked up at him. "Would've gone in after you."

Bodie shook his head, exasperated. "Then what the bloody hell are we arguing about?"

"Cowley told you to stay put--"

"Cowley didn't know fuck all 'bout what was goin' on out there."

"You still disobeyed him, Bodie. For my sake. I told you before, after I was shot, not to treat me differently, not to be overprotective--"

"I'm not, dammit." Bodie walked back round to the other side of the table and sat down again. "I was trying to save your life," he said carefully. "And don't think for one minute that it's any different now then it's ever been." He tapped his finger on the table for emphasis. "I would've done exactly the same thing before you got shot. And I would've done it before we became lovers. My attitude towards 'protecting' you is the same as always. We're partners--I watch your back, you watch mine. Cowley's not worried about it--why should you be?"

"He's not?" Doyle's eyes widened. "Thought he hauled you on the carpet--"

"Yeah. And we settled all that."

"He's not worried about us?"

Bodie finally saw why Doyle was upset. He'd simply been afraid that Bodie's action had caused Cowley to suspect them. "If you mean, does he think we have a relationship, no, I doubt it. I'll tell you what he did say, if you really want to know."

"'Course I do."

Bodie related his conversation with Cowley, including Ross' report, and Cowley's stated 'investment' in his best team. "He's not going to risk losing us, Ray. We're too good." Bodie grinned. "'Sides, I'm sure he knows the old saying--'Better the devil you know.' That's us, all right."

Doyle still had an uncertain look. "Suppose he did find out about us. You think he'd still keep us teamed?"

"Don't know." Bodie shrugged. "Why worry about it until it happens?"

"Contingency planning."

"Oh, that."

"You can't just ignore it, Bodie. Might be better if he did find out."

Bodie raised both eyebrows. "You're jokin'--"

"No, I'm not." Doyle drained his tea and pushed the mug away. "Might be better if he did split us."

"What? But I thought--"

"Not 'better'," Doyle hastily corrected himself. "I mean, it would be easier. I don't want you worrying about me on the job, and I don't want to worry about you."

"Ray, I told you, it's no different--"

"Yeah, and I'm telling you it is." Doyle took a deep breath. "When you've been hurt before, of course I've been upset. But if anything happened to you now--" He paused. "I don't know what I'd do. It'd be a helluva lot worse, I can tell you that. It does mean more now. You mean more to me now."

Bodie wasn't quite sure how to reply, touched by Doyle's admission, yet determined that their working relationship stay unchanged. All this time Doyle'd been telling him not to act differently when they were working, while Doyle had been doing so all along. He might have known. "Yeah, okay, so maybe I do worry a bit more than I used to. Doesn't mean we can't still be the best team in CI5. Even if the Cow does find out, I'll bet we can talk him into keeping us on. Gotta be a way. Don't talk about not working together, mate. I'd worry a hell of a lot more about you if there was someone else watching your back instead of me."

Doyle leaned back in his chair and rubbed his eyes. "It's that stunt you pulled today...if you keep doin'--" He stopped, correcting himself again. "If we keep pullin' stuff like that, we won't be Cowley's best team. And he will split us up."

"Not likely." Bodie smiled, secure in their usefulness to CI5. "Either he keeps us as a team, or he loses us. Simple."

"You'd quit?"

"Damn right. Wouldn't you?" Bodie felt a twinge of apprehension. "Were you serious--you'd really want to stay on the squad if we were split up? 'Cause I sure as hell wouldn't--"

"Don't do that to me, Bodie." Doyle glared at him. "No more threats."

"What're you talkin' about?"

Doyle sat forward again, hands clasped tensely together. "Six months ago you told me you'd quit if I didn't stay on. And now you're sayin' you'd quit if we weren't teamed--"

"Yeah, and that's my choice." Bodie couldn't understand why Doyle had to drag past history into this. "And you made your own choice back then. You said you didn't decide to stay on just because of me, remember?"

His partner just stared at him, breathing hard. Bodie belatedly realized that Doyle's hands were trembling, and he saw the look of panic that flitted across his features. "Shit. You lied, didn't you?"

Doyle closed his eyes and lowered his head.

"You lied to me!" As Bodie slammed his fist on the table, Doyle's head snapped up, eyes wide. "Dammit, Ray--you told me you stayed on because you wanted to."

"'m sorry, Bodie. I did still want to quit. Even after we...even after that first night together. But I didn't want you leavin' just because I did. Knew we'd both regret it. Was more important not to hurt you. Not to see you unhappy."

"You bastard." Bodie stood and walked away a few feet, unable to look at him. Anger mixed with guilt, tinged by the realization of how much Doyle had loved him, even in those early days, to give up his plans for him. But that didn't negate his fury. There was only so much he was willing to be responsible for. He turned around; Doyle's head was still lowered. "Ray." Bodie spoke with his anger barely restrained. "Do you have any clue how it makes me feel, knowing that you only stayed on for my sake? And then you damn well nearly died--should I take the blame for that, too?"

Doyle shook his head. "I just couldn't tell you," he said, his voice strained. "I wanted to--God knows, I wanted to--I could never find a good time to say it--"

"You're right about that." Bodie strode to the door, unwilling to yell at Doyle where someone could hear, wanting to be alone for a while. He paused, his hand on the knob, and looked back. "If you want out, or don't want to be teamed anymore, just fucking well do it, okay? And stop playing around with my head." He opened the door and walked out fast, nearly running along the corridor and down the stairs to the car park.

An hour later, while nursing his second pint of bitter in the local, Bodie felt a bit calmer, though he was still hurting inside. Ray Doyle was the one person in his life he expected to be honest with him. And he hadn't been. The fact that he'd been dishonest in order to make Bodie happy didn't help much. The last thing he wanted was Doyle playing the martyr role. Yeah, he could hear it now--I suffered for you--

Bodie shook his head and took a long sip of his beer, finishing it off. No, Doyle would never say that. None of the 'I did this for you, what've you done for me' crap--they weren't going to add scorecards to their relationship. Not if he could help it. Doyle simply had to figure out what he really wanted, and so did he, and somewhere their desires would meet--

"'Lo, Bodie."

Startled, Bodie looked up from his glass to see Doyle standing there, two pints in hand.

"Mind if I sit down?"

"'Course not, you idiot." Bodie cast him an exasperated half-smile and waved him into the other seat at his small table.

Doyle slid the second glass across to Bodie, who nodded as he took it. Doyle took a sip on his own pint, then looked at Bodie with an odd, half-lost expression. "You still mad?" he said tentatively.

"Yeah," Bodie admitted, opting for directness. "A bit. I'm gettin' over it, though. Slowly." He took a long, drawn-out drink, set the glass down, and wiped the back of his hand across his mouth. "How 'bout you? You still confused?"

Doyle smiled. It was the first time Bodie had seen him relax since walking into the CI5 lounge an hour before. "All the time," Doyle replied. "I'm not used to this, you know."

"Used to what?"

Doyle cast a quick glance round; there was no one within hearing range. "You and me, Bodie. I'm not used to being this close to someone. Or caring about anyone as much as I care about you." He paused. "Was feeling a bit desperate, that first night we were together. Would've said or done anything to keep you with me. Wasn't thinking straight." He took a calming breath. "I'm sorry." Doyle waved his hand, indicating both of them. "This is the biggest thing that's ever happened to me. Don't know how to deal with it sometimes."

Whatever reserves of anger Bodie had been saving up dissipated, leaving only a slight ache behind. "You're not alone there, Ray." He reached across to briefly pat Doyle's arm. "I'm not used to it, either. You drive me nuts sometimes, the way you worry over stuff that's been and gone, the way you worry 'bout things that haven't even happened yet. It makes you moody, you know."

"Yeah, I know," Doyle agreed. "And you can drive me crazy when you act like nothing ever bothers you. Not a care in the world. Rather you took a few things more seriously."

Bodie nodded. "Yeah, I could give it a try from time to time." He relaxed in his chair, cradling the beer glass. "But I fell in love with you the way you are, mate. Don't want you to change. Maybe a few minor adjustments here and there, but nothing major."

Doyle raised an eyebrow. "Like what?" he asked suspiciously.

"Like cleaning out the shower drain once in a while," Bodie replied. "Keep finding little clumps of your hair in it."

"Think I can manage that."

"Good." Bodie drank a good portion of his pint, then set the glass aside. He leaned forward, resting his arms on the table. Time to be serious. "So are you going to tell me how you really feel about the squad?"

Doyle swallowed. "Yeah," he said, looking into his glass as he rolled it between his hands. "Been thinking about it a lot these past few months. Been doin' this kind of work for a long time. Don't know much of anything else. Cowley gets up my nose a lot, but I think I know why he does the things he does." He hesitated, then looked up to meet Bodie's gaze. "Didn't want to keep staying on just 'cause I couldn't think of anything better to do. Finally figured out that I really couldn't think of anything I'd rather do. I'm good at this. And we're damn good together. And don't you make any crude remarks--"

Bodie grinned. "Wouldn't dream of it, sunshine. Take it you want to keep at it, then?"

Doyle grinned back. "In more ways than one, mate."

"Guess we'd better go finish our reports, then. Sooner we get 'em done, the sooner we can go home." Bodie pushed his chair back, and then he remembered his bit of bad news. He gave Doyle a sheepish look. "Um, there's one more thing Cowley told me that I forgot to mention."


Best to just get it out. "We get to spend a month in Records."

Doyle stared at him. "What do you mean, 'we'?"

Bodie unnecessarily cleared his throat. "Well, he's sending me down there as 'punishment' for my little rebellion. And, um, he's sending you because you're my partner. You know--share and share alike?"

Doyle grimaced. "That underhanded, manipulative, two-faced, devious sonofa--"

"Ray." Bodie stood. "I'm sorry." He put a hand on Doyle's shoulder, squeezing it gently. "Make it up to you," he whispered roughly.

As he got up, Doyle smiled. "Better be good, if you're gonna make up for a whole month of tedium." He gave Bodie's shoulder a light punch.

"Well, I won't be tedious," Bodie replied as they left the pub. "Can promise you that."

"It's all right for you. You haven't got can go on playing cowboys the rest of your bloody, miserable, selfish life--"
--"No Stone"

Bodie felt that things went fairly smoothly for a while. They endured their month in records, then returned to field assignments. They worked together as efficiently as ever, working so hard on each op that the Old Man actually gave them a four-day mini-holiday. Bodie and Doyle found many intriguing ways to spend those days off together.

Then CI5 ran up against a gang of young terrorists, and before they were run to ground, Reynolds and Cook were dead. "Cookie" had been a friend of Doyle's from his days as a copper, and Doyle had been the one who'd had to inform Cook's young and very pregnant wife of the news.

It wasn't hard for Bodie to see the troubled look in his partner's eyes. After the gang members had been captured, Doyle remained subdued. When the last report on the op had been filed, Bodie invited him round to his flat for a home-cooked dinner.

Doyle went, staying moodily silent through Bodie's preparation of spaghetti bolognaise. He sat at the dining table, nibbling abstractedly at the salad Bodie had hastily thrown together.

Bodie drained the noodles in the colander, gave the sauce a final stir, and checked the garlic bread warming in the oven. "It's ready," he announced. "You want some wine?" He automatically went to open a bottle, but stopped when Doyle murmured, "No, thanks."

Okay, Bodie thought, it's not a requirement. He set about preparing both their plates, piling up his own, giving Doyle a smaller portion. He brought them to the table and sat down.

Bodie dug into his food. He was glad the damn op was finally over, glad they'd both survived another day. Rob Allison still lay in hospital, seriously injured; it could just as easily have been one of them. Or worse.

"Checked with the hospital before we left," Bodie said as he watched Doyle's half-hearted eating. "Robbie's doin' better. They think he's gonna be all right." He crunched on a crispy piece of garlic bread, chewing it noisily.

"That's great," Doyle said. He twisted his fork in the noodles, twirling them repeatedly.

"You're 'sposed to eat that, mate, not build a nest with it."

Doyle obediently shoved a huge forkful in his mouth, sucking up the loose strands.

"If you ask me," Bodie said, "we did a bloody good job out there. Stopped a bomb-happy group of maniacs who would've blown up half the city to make their political 'point'. Don't know 'bout you, but it makes me feel damn good."

"Yeah." Doyle looked up, but his eyes seemed far away. "Wonder where the next gang of maniacs will turn up."

Bodie's shoulders sagged. "C'mon, Ray. We're not fighting a war. We're never going to win--you know that. One battle at a time, that's all it's ever going to be. There's no point in getting depressed over reality, mate."

"We lost two good men, Bodie--you gonna tell me that doesn't bother you?"

"No, dammit. That's not what I meant." Bodie set his fork down and shoved his half-empty plate away. He rested his arms on the table. "Talk to me, Ray. Please. Go on--tell me about Cook."

"Nothing you don't already know. He was a mate. Had a good job on the fraud squad." Doyle paused, setting his own fork down. "Until I talked him into applying to CI5." He toyed with a piece of garlic bread, breaking it into smaller and smaller pieces, idly watching them fall onto his plate. "I put in a word for him with Cowley."

"But you weren't holding Cook's hand when he signed the joining papers, Ray. He wanted it himself."

"'S not what June thinks."

Bodie didn't know what Cook's wife--what his widow--had said to Doyle, he only knew it had to have been painful. "She had to lash out at someone. You happened to be handy, that's all."

"Yeah. Right." Doyle pushed his plate away and brushed the crumbs off his hands.

"You're not responsible for what happened, Ray--"

Doyle's eyes searched Bodie's face. "Think I know how you felt now."

"What do you mean?"

"When you found out I'd lied. When you found out I'd stayed on the squad because of you. Can see why you wouldn't want to feel responsible for whatever happened after--" He broke off, wrapping his arms around his chest.

Bodie belatedly realized that Doyle was shaking. He was out of his chair in an instant, coming round behind Doyle, putting his arms around him. "Christ, doesn't matter now."

"Nobody should feel this way." Doyle rubbed his cheek against Bodie's hand. "Hurts too much."

"I know." Bodie leaned over to kiss Doyle's forehead. "Come and sit in the lounge, mate, get it all out. Can see eatin' dinner wasn't the brightest idea."

Doyle got up and allowed Bodie to direct him to the sofa. "You can get that wine out," Doyle said as he sagged onto the cushions. "Wanna get plastered."

"No problem." Bodie retrieved two bottles and glasses and returned to join his partner. "Got one for each of us." He handed Doyle an opened bottle and a glass and let him pour his own while he did the same. He clinked his full glass against Doyle's. "Cheers."

It wasn't long before Bodie had to go get a third bottle. By the time they attacked the fourth, after a great deal of struggle over its cork, Bodie was floating in a pleasant haze. He lay sprawled on the cushions, one of Doyle's legs over his, Doyle's arm around his shoulder. Bodie awkwardly poured more wine into both their glasses, spilling more than a few drops on Doyle's pants.

"Sorry," he muttered, setting the bottle down.

"'S wet," Doyle complained.

"Better take 'em off, then."

"You take 'em off. I'm busy." Doyle chugged at his wine.

"Good idea." Bodie couldn't figure out why they still had their clothes on anyway. Probably had something to do with the difficulty in maneuvering with glasses in hand. He took a gulp of his wine and put the glass on the coffee table. Then he fumbled with Doyle's belt and zip, having trouble with their complicated mechanics. "Hold still."

"'M not moving," Doyle protested.

"Oh." Bodie finally got the belt and zip undone. He yanked at the jeans as Doyle wriggled about, working them down to Doyle's knees before realizing there were shoes and socks in the way of further progress. "That's no good." Bending down to tug at Doyle's shoelaces, he succeeded only in pulling them tighter. He gave up and wrenched both shoes off without untying them, then pulled two sweaty, smelly socks off his lover's grime-covered feet. "Need a bath, mate." Bodie returned to his original goal and pulled Doyle's jeans off the rest of the way, tossing them blindly across the lounge. When he raised back up, his head spun. He patiently waited for it to clear. Then he laid his hand on Doyle's bare thigh. "Much better." He tugged at Doyle's briefs. "Could do without these, too..."

"Haven't spilled anything on 'em," Doyle pointed out.

Bodie obligingly reached over to tip Doyle's wine glass, splashing its contents over him--shirt, briefs, naked flesh and all.

"You berk." Doyle looked morosely into his empty glass. "You're a right nutter, you are." He chucked the glass onto the carpet, then favored Bodie with a beatific grin. "You plannin' on cleanin' me up?"

"First things first." Bodie managed to shrug out of his own clothes, throwing shoes, socks, pants, shirt, and briefs everywhere, and knocking the wine bottle off the table in the process. Ignoring the mess, he went on to attack Doyle's shirt, finding the buttons recalcitrant. He got the top three undone and yanked it off over Doyle's head amid much confused flailing of Doyle's arms as the t-shirt beneath got bunched up within. At last he got both articles of clothing off Doyle. The wine had soaked through them; Bodie bent over to lick the tart liquid off Doyle's chest. All his exertions with the clothing had exhausted him, and when the last drop of wine had been licked clean, Bodie draped an arm around Doyle's waist. He rested his head against Doyle's chest, and a rumbling noise filled his ear. Bodie glanced up. Doyle lay sprawled back, arms spread along the sofa cushions, eyes closed. He was softly snoring. Bodie smiled, let out a long sigh, and rubbed his nose and cheek against the soft whorls of Doyle's chest hair. Then he closed his eyes again.

Bodie dozed fitfully, drifting in and out of a light sleep; the whirling sensation in his head kept him from dropping off completely. Some time later he felt Doyle jerk and stir beneath him, moaning. The snoring had stopped. Bodie opened his eyes and saw Doyle was awake. He was shaking his head slowly from side to side, muttering.

"Ray? You okay?"

Doyle's hand came to rest on Bodie's head, gently brushing his hair back. "She was wrong," Doyle murmured.

Bodie frowned. "Who was?"

"June. Said it was different for me."

Bodie closed his eyes, not bothering to even try to figure out what Doyle was talking about. All he wanted was more of the loving caresses Doyle was giving him.

"She said it was all right for me." Doyle's voice carried on, slurred and drowsy. "Being on the streets. 'Cause I didn't have anybody." His hand moved down to Bodie's shoulder, stroking the strong muscles. "'S not true, you know. I do have somebody. Got you, don't I?"

"Um-hmm." Bodie idly wondered how long Doyle would keep talking. It was making the buzzing in his ears worse.


"Hm?" Bodie felt his chin being lifted, and Doyle's full lips on his. Then Doyle pulled away.

"Want to tell him 'bout us."

Bodie blinked and opened his eyes. "What're you on about?"

"Cowley. Want to tell him."

The words cut through the chaos in Bodie's head. Struggling against the alcoholic haze, he managed to raise his head, to find himself staring fuzzily into half-lidded green eyes. "You're tired, Ray," he mumbled. "And drunk. And so 'm I. Go to sleep."

"No." Doyle shook his head. "'S important. Want somebody to know. Can't stop thinkin' about it...if something happened to you, and nobody knew--"

"Ssh." Bodie shook his head and immediately wished he hadn't. It began throbbing. He rubbed his forehead, scowling. "Nothing's going to happen, dammit--"

Doyle ignored the interruption. "Could just see 'em all, can hear 'em saying how awful it is to lose a partner. 'Poor Doyle--been with Bodie a long time. Must be tough.' 'Yeah, they were good friends. He'll get through it, though. 'S not like he lost a spouse or something.' They'd all come round to tell me how sorry they were, but they wouldn't think it was the same as June losing Cookie, would they. They wouldn't understand, 'cause they wouldn't know. Nobody would ever know how much I loved you--" He choked back a small sob.

"For God's sake, Ray." More awake now, Bodie focused on Doyle's distraught face. He reached up to brush his hand across Doyle's cheeks, wiping away the tears there. "Stop it. Doesn't matter. I know--"

"'It's all right for you'," Doyle repeated, "that's what she told me. It hurt, Bodie. Standin' there, havin' her blame me for her husband dying, screamin' at me. And not thinking I understood how she felt. 'You don't have anybody.'" Doyle swallowed and closed his eyes tightly. He took Bodie's hand in his, squeezing it. "It does matter..."

"Okay," Bodie said, leaning up to kiss Doyle's eyelids. The throbbing in his head had subsided a little. "We'll talk it over later, hm?" He kissed Doyle's lips, then nestled in the crook between his neck and shoulder. "Love you," he murmured before closing his eyes once more. He felt Doyle relax against him, and together they fell into sleep.

There were about a hundred places too many in Bodie's body that were protesting all at once. Half-opened eyes took in the blurry mass of curls which were tickling his nose. He gingerly tried lifting his head, instantly regretting it as the room whirled. Leaning back against the sofa cushions, Bodie closed his eyes and wondered which aching part of his anatomy he should attempt to move next.

The decision was abruptly made for him as Doyle yawned and shifted, forcing Bodie to move the arm he had draped around Doyle's shoulders before it got pinned. Bodie groaned, trying to sit up straight. He didn't get far before he had to lower his head, holding his hands to his eyes. If only the buzzing would go away.

He heard Doyle moan beside him. Then a muffled voice said, "What time is it?"

"Don't know." Bodie had trouble getting his mouth to work properly. Water--that's what he needed. Too dehydrated. And his bladder demanded emptying. He risked raising his head and opening his eyes, to gaze over at a faintly fuzzy Ray Doyle. His partner didn't look any better.

"Bed," Doyle murmured, and tried to get up. He thumped back down a second later. "Legs don't work."

"Nothing works." Bodie nevertheless made a determined effort to stand, wobbling a bit. Then he gave Doyle a hand, and they half-walked, half-stumbled down the hall into the bath.

A leak, a glass of water, and two aspirins later, Bodie felt marginally more human. He followed Doyle to the bedroom, collapsing onto the mattress.

Somehow they managed to get underneath the duvet, and into a more comfortable sprawl. The buzzing in Bodie's head gradually dissipated. He nuzzled Doyle's neck and ear, then kissed his cheek. It was all he had the energy for.

"Um," Doyle muttered, turning to kiss Bodie back, a gently brushing of his lips. He snuggled closer.

"Don't get too comfortable," Bodie said. "Got a feeling I'll be in and out of the bog all night."

"Yeah, me too." Doyle wrapped himself tightly around Bodie anyway. "'Night."

Bodie glanced at the bedside clock. "Morning, actually."

"Um. Not ready for mornin' yet."

"All right, g'night, then." Bodie kissed him on the forehead. He wasn't ready for the morning, either, but it would come nonetheless.

Bodie only had to make one middle-of-the-night run to the bathroom, then he slept soundly until the morning sunlight hit him. Doyle lay tangled in the bedsheet, having somehow gotten it all to himself, while Bodie had most of the duvet. As Bodie set about sorting the covers out, Doyle stirred and stretched. He opened his eyes as Bodie pulled the covers up over them. He draped his arm across Bodie's chest. "Mornin'."

"Yeah," Bodie replied, squinting at the window. "I think it is." He kissed Doyle's forehead. "How're you feeling?"

"Better. How 'bout you?"

"Not bad, considering." Bodie brushed his lips across Doyle's cheek, then touched them lightly to Doyle's mouth. " up to um..doin' anything?" Bodie murmured.

"Nah," Doyle replied. "This is fine." He returned Bodie's light kiss. "Just hold me, Bodie. Okay?"

"No problem." Bodie shifted round to gather Doyle up in his arms. "Told you that before."

"Hm? Told me what?"

"That it was a lot more than just the sex," Bodie siad.

"Oh, yeah." Doyle smiled. "Guess you were right."

They lay quietly for a while. Bodie listened to the sounds of the city outside, reluctant to get up and join the bustle. Would it be so bad, he wondered, to stay in bed all day? The idea held a great appeal.

Doyle's voice broke into his peaceful thoughts. "You remember what we talked about last night?"

The drunken conversation was mainly a hazy mishmash, but the significant point stood out quite clear. Bodie sighed. "You mean about telling Cowley?"

"Yeah. I still want to. 'Sides, he'll find out anyway. Better if we 'fess up first."

Bodie nodded. He'd known for some time, in the back of his mind, that this would happen. But the stark reality of doing it wasn't something he was totally prepared for. "When?" he asked, knowing his day in bed wasn't going to happen.

"Soon as we can both walk properly." Doyle grinned.

Bodie couldn't resist those sweet lips. He leaned over to kiss him again, this time lingering over it. "Hm," he murmured as he pulled away. "Okay. No point in puttin' it off."

"You do want to, don't you?"

"Not really," Bodie said honestly. "But you're right--we have to. Can't help wondering what he'll say, though."

"Probably want us to resign," Doyle said.

"Then we'll resign," Bodie replied.

"And if he lets us stay on?" There was a hopeful note in Doyle's voice.

Bodie smiled. "Then we'll stay on."

"Come in."

Bodie entered Cowley's office, Doyle right beside him. Bodie tried not to hesitate, doing his best to act confidently, ignoring the turmoil raging inside. They were here, there was no turning back, and they were going to go through with it.

Cowley waved them toward two chairs. "Sit down."

They did, both keeping their backs firmly straight, heads up, hands resting on the chair arms.

"Whatever it is, it had better not be a waste of my time." Cowley put the file he'd been reading aside. He took his reading glasses off and tapped them against his palm. "Well? You do recall that you requested this meeting?"

"Yes, sir--"

"Yes, sir--"

Their two voices were simultaneous. Bodie looked at Doyle and gave him a reassuring smile. "You want me to go ahead?" Bodie said to his partner. "I don't mind breaking the news--"

"Nah." Doyle smiled back. "Was my idea. I'll do it."

"Yeah, but I've agreed--"

Cowley suddenly cleared his throat. "What are you two blithering about? C'mon, out with it. I don't have all blasted day. What is this 'news' of yours?"

"Well," Bodie started, "it's like this--me and Doyle here...that is, Doyle and I, well, we've always been very close, sir, but lately--I mean, over the past, um..." He looked up at the ceiling, trying to count the months back to before the shooting incident. "Um, maybe eight months or so, we've gotten a bit closer..." He coughed, wishing his mouth didn't feel so dry. "What I'm trying to say--" He glanced over at Doyle, whose eyes were wider than Bodie thought possible. "What we both want to tell you is that Ray and I have, um, that is, we've, um--" He faltered as Cowley's unrelenting glare bore into him, unable to quite get the word out.

"We're lovers," Doyle put in, coming to the rescue.

Bodie squeezed his eyes shut, wishing the whole world would go away for just a little while. When he cautiously opened them again, he saw that Cowley had set his glasses down and now had his hands clasped firmly on top of the desk. He calmly studied each of them in turn.

"I take it this is not some sort of bizarre practical joke," he finally said.

"No, sir." Bodie was surprised to find his voice had sounded perfectly calm. But the worst was over as far as he was concerned; they'd told him, all they could do now was wait.

"And you didn't lose some kind of ridiculous bet with the other squad members? You weren't put up to this?"

"Nothing like that," Doyle affirmed. "Just the truth. Thought you deserved to know."

"I see. And this has been going on for eight months, you say?"

"Well, a lot of that time I was still recuperating from the shooting, sir. But it did start before that--after the Molner case."

Cowley's stoic face hadn't revealed any trace of what he was feeling. "Why tell me now?"

"You always said you wanted to be kept informed of any serious relationships," Bodie replied. He attempted a smile, but quickly thought better of it. "This is serious."

Cowley continued his unemotional contemplation of them, making Bodie distinctly uneasy with his silent perusal. It seemed to Bodie that Cowley hadn't been at all surprised by their pronouncement, and a suspicion began to form in his mind. Bodie wouldn't have put it past the Old Man to have had their flats bugged, which was something he didn't like to think about. And if he had, the bugs would be long gone by now. Cowley was a master at this business.

At long last Cowley appeared to reach his decision. He picked up his glasses again and resumed his tapping. Looking from one to the other, he said sternly, "I can't say that I approve."

Bodie felt an ache in his gut. This was it--he was going to give them the boot. Feeling that it was much better to quit than be sacked, Bodie said quickly, "We're both prepared to resign--"

"I didn't say anything about leaving CI5."

"But I thought--" Bodie stammered. "I mean, we assumed--"

"'Presumed' is more like it, 3.7. Seems to be a habit of yours." Cowley made another steady examination of the two agents. "Now then, I take it you two wish to remain teamed together?"

Doyle leapt in. "'Course we want to keep working together--and just as efficiently as we have been. Should be obvious we can do it--we've been doing our jobs--"

"Aye, you don't have to wave your records in front of me, Doyle. Yes, you're both damned good. And it's gone to your heads--I'll have a bit less cockiness in future, is that clear?"

"Yes, sir," Doyle replied.

"Good. I will admit you've done a good job during the past few months." He turned his gaze solely in Bodie's direction. "Though there is the question of the Ojuka assignment."

Bodie bristled. "I would have done the same thing before." He returned Cowley's glare, convinced now that their boss' statements were coming too easily, that there was no way Cowley had reached a decision this important in a matter of minutes. "Just how long have you been keeping an eye on us?"

"Eh?" Doyle shifted in his seat to stare at his partner.

"He already knew," Bodie said, not taking his eyes from Cowley. "Didn't you, sir? You've been watching us, trying to see if it made a difference."

"It almost did," Cowley replied smoothly.

"I already told you." Bodie knew he was still going on about the Ojuka affair. "It wouldn't have mattered."

"No, it wouldn't have. Yes, I figured that out, Bodie. You're both doing your job as you've always done it."

Doyle glanced from Bodie to Cowley. "So we're still useful to you, is that it?"

Bodie smiled at Doyle. "Nah, it's just simple economics, mate. It'd be too expensive to train two new fools willing to risk their necks every day." He looked back at Cowley. "Is that the deal? Provided we're willing to die for CI5, you're willing to look the other way and let us live as we want?"

"You know I don't make deals, 3.7." Cowley carefully folded his glasses and tucked them in his jacket pocket. He clasped his hands on the desk again, his expression as stern and unrevealing as ever. "Listen closely, you two--I'll not say this again. You may continue to work for CI5 as a team. In my opinion, it would be unfair to the rest of the squad to inflict either of you on them. No doubt I'd end up losing both of you as well as two other perfectly good men. Therefore, we will continue the status quo. Your relationship will not be discussed with anyone. Naturally, you will continue to maintain separate flats. And you will do whatever is necessary to keep suspicions about your relationship from forming. Your lack of interest in dating during these past few months has already become a topic of discussion among the clerical staff. You will take steps to rectify the matter."

Most of Bodie's elation evaporated. He might have known it wouldn't be as easy as he'd hoped. "You mean we keep taking out birds."

Doyle flashed him a reassuring look. "We'll work it out, mate."

Bodie cast him a quick smile. "Lots of double dates?"

"And lots of disappointed birds," Doyle muttered under his breath. Bodie caught the words; Cowley either didn't, or chose to ignore them.

"Furthermore," Cowley went on, "you will not allow this relationship to interfere with your job." He cast Bodie a pointed look. "You will obey my orders."

"Yes, sir," Bodie said instantly.

"If there is any significant change in your status, you will notify me immediately. Otherwise, I do not wish to hear it mentioned in my, or anyone else's, presence ever again. Is that clear?"

"Perfectly, sir." Great. Bodie risked a glance at his partner, who sat slumped in his chair, looking forlorn. He'd wanted someone to know about them, and now Cowley did, but Cowley acted as if he wished he'd never heard them say it.

"That will be all." Cowley picked up the file again.

They both scurried out of the office.

"Your place or mine?" Bodie said.

He'd been driving aimlessly for half an hour now, during which time neither of them had spoken, each lost in his own thoughts.

"Mine, I think," Doyle replied. "I've got food in."

Bodie turned the car in the direction of Doyle's flat. "First thing we do is check it for bugs."

"Bloody hell," Doyle muttered. "You reckon that crafty old bastard really bugged our flats?"

"Cowley would bug his own flat if he thought he could learn from it."

"Yeah, you're right there. Probably had 'em removed by now, too." Doyle shook his head. "It's weird, thinkin' about him knowin' all this time. When d'you suppose he figured it out?"

Bodie shrugged. "Maybe after all those evals Ross kept putting us through. Doesn't matter. He knows, and he's going to pretend he doesn't."

"Yeah." Doyle let out a sigh. "Guess it didn't do much good, telling him."

"Yes, it did. If we hadn't, he would've confronted us with it eventually."

"You know what I meant, Bodie."

He did. Doyle didn't just want someone to know they were lovers--he wanted someone to care. Someone who'd be there for him if anything happened. And he wasn't likely to get it in George Cowley. "I'm sorry it didn't work out the way you wanted, Ray. At least we've still got jobs." He smiled, but Doyle's glum expression didn't lift. "Look, don't worry--we'll be all right out there on the streets."

"What makes you say that?"

With a surge of confidence, Bodie said, "I've just got this feeling."

"You?" Doyle turned to stare at him. "Mr. 'I don't take anything without proof'? You've got a feeling?"

Bodie reached out a hand to ruffle Doyle's curls. "I know it's not rational. But I've still got a good feeling about us. Some people are natural survivors, mate. Saw that in Africa. The blokes who jumped into the thick of things without worrying--the ones who leapt into the fight--they usually came through without a scratch. While the guys who hung back calculating their advantages, always looking for the safest place to be--they were the ones we ended up burying."

"And we know better, is that it?" Doyle let out a sigh. "There aren't any safe places."

"Not that I know of. So you'd better make the most of it whenever you can."

Doyle continued staring at him. "Is that how you do it?"

"Do what?" Bodie was puzzled.

"How you ignore the past--how you don't worry about the future. It's all just here and now for you, is that it?"

"It helps," Bodie said simply.

Doyle turned his gaze away. "Don't think I could do that."

"No," Bodie agreed, "don't think you could. But you know what?"


"I don't really mind. Irritates me at times, but then, it wouldn't be the same if you didn't get up my nose once in a while, would it?" He glanced over and saw Doyle relaxing. "Be boring if we both thought the same 'bout everything," Bodie added. "What would we have to talk about?" He turned down Doyle's street and parked the car. "'Course, we don't have to talk all the time..." He favored Doyle with his most seductive, smoldering look.

"Christ, Bodie, don't do that here." Doyle fumbled for the door handle.

Bodie grinned as he hopped out of the car and jauntily took the steps up to Doyle's upper-floor flat two at a time, Doyle close on his heels.

"Don't forget," Doyle said as he shoved past Bodie to unlock the door. "We're 'sposed to be discreet."

"Yeah, in public." Bodie pushed him inside, shutting and locking the door behind them. He pulled Doyle into a crushing embrace, his lips seeking, finding, caressing the warm mouth. As he parted Doyle's lips and thrust inside, he worked the morning's tension out through his passion.

Doyle came up gasping for air, eyes wide, face flushed. "Didn't check for bugs, mate."

"To hell with 'em," Bodie replied. "C'mon, let's give Cowley something to really talk about." He tugged at Doyle's arm, leading him towards the bedroom.

"He's a bastard, you know," Doyle said as he pulled off his clothes.

"You mean Cowley?"

"'Course I do, who else?"

"Well," Bodie replied as he climbed into bed, "there's a lot of 'em about. Bastards, I mean."

"Maybe so." Doyle slid in beside him. "Think you're one sometimes." He slipped an arm around Bodie's waist.

"And you're right." Bodie drew his hand down Doyle's chest to his groin. "Love me anyway?"

"Um," Doyle replied as Bodie's lips met his in another lengthy kiss. "Don't always know why," he said when they parted, "but I do love you."

"You know your trouble?" Bodie asked.


"You think too much." Then he drew Doyle into a passionate embrace, putting all he had into loving the man beside him, unconcerned with what the future might bring.

-- THE END --

Originally published in "Nudge Nudge Wink Wink 3" (Manacles Press)
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