Mating Season


AUTHOR'S NOTE: I borrowed from, then rather extensively warped, the universe created in the On-Line Library story "Letting the Cat Out of the Bag" by Fanny Adams. She should not be blamed for this mess beyond providing my rather perverse sense of humor with inspiration. In my twisted dimension, Beelzy looks like a dark auburn housecat, but is the size of a panther, and George Cowley is Bodie's father. So, on with the story -- there should be something in here to offend everyone!

England, 1986

Bodie had his back to the woods on the outskirts of the estate, so it was Murphy who spotted his partner's return. "Ray needs a shave," the tall agent observed with a nonchalance betrayed by the sparkle in his eyes.

Bodie moaned, turning though he already knew what he'd see. Ray Doyle was back all right, but at the moment he had four paws and went by the name of Beelzy.

"Better get 'em off, 3.7," Murphy said. "Cowley won't love you anymore if you try to put another pair of trousers on your expenses."

Making a mental note to thump Murphy later, Bodie dashed off toward the nearest bit of cover -- a patch of ground hidden by a shed and a stone wall, tugging off his poloneck even as he ran.

He got clear of his clothes, then dropped to his hands and knees just a heartbeat before the cat reached him, then mounted him with the usual feline lack of foreplay. The entry caused him to grunt, but the pain was brief and fleeting. It should have torn him apart, but, thanks to his own bit of magic, his rectum was as clean and well-lubricated as a woman's vagina, if not more so. "Christ," he groaned, his skin hot with equal parts of arousal and mortification, "why can't you develop some sense of privacy?"

Beelzy growled, but nuzzled the back of his lover's neck.

Despite all the times he'd been in this ridiculous position, Bodie still felt a flash of fear. A male cat mating with a female bit down on the scruff of her neck, holding her in place, and it was only the tiniest bit of Doyle left in the cat that kept those powerful jaws from closing on Bodie's flesh.

As always, Beelzy sensed the fear and gave Bodie an extra hard thrust to announce his displeasure.

He grunted. "Okay, okay. I know you love me," he acquiesced, feeling like a right idiot. After all, he did know better. The cat had only hurt him once...

Somewhere, 1982

...Bodie ran through the woods, desperately trying to keep going, to keep on his feet with only the light of the full moon to light his way. Even without the noise of his own heart hammering, he knew he wouldn't hear the cat stalking him, just as he knew that all of his efforts to elude the beast had failed.

A part of him said stop running. Ray won't hurt you. But it wasn't Ray running him down; it was his bloody furball of an alter ego. An alter ego Doyle had told him he couldn't control. Still, Bodie couldn't understand this. For months he and the big cat had lived in a peaceful coexistence -- though Doyle had seldom changed in Bodie's presence. But an hour ago, with no warning, Doyle had changed while they were going for a romantic walk in the woods. Startled, Bodie had frozen, until Beelzy had trained eyes full of hunger on him. Not fancying the notion of being a midnight snack, Bodie had run.

But he couldn't keep it up much longer, and he knew that the cat was just toying with him -- could have taken him at any time. But he kept hoping that Doyle could gain enough control to save him. A sob caught in Bodie's throat at the thought of his lover. Bodie had no wish to die, but the idea of his own death was nothing compared to the pain it would cause Doyle. If he only had his gun, Bodie would have turned it on himself to spare Doyle the knowledge that he had killed Bodie.

Even as that thought occurred to him, a dark shape leapt out of the darkness. A hard feline body bowled him over, knocking the air from his lungs. Fighting for breath, Bodie could not evade the massive paw lashing out at him. The blow caught him across the face, but though it made his head spin, claws did not rake his flesh.

The big cat hit him three more times, then the great head pushed at him, forcing him over onto his belly. The claws flashed this time, but cloth, not skin, ripped. With amazing speed and precision, Bodie was stripped from his nipples to his knees, then he felt the cat's cock push against his anus. He had no time to think, but screamed when the organ literally ripped into him. His own blood the only lubrication, Bodie sobbed in agony as a cock larger than a well-endowed human's fucked him.

With a piercing yowl, the cat gave a final thrust, then pumped his seed deep into Bodie's body. *Mate.* It was almost as if the word sounded in Bodie's head, and a vision of himself lying on a bed of blankets with a litter of kittens nestled against his chest and belly flashed in his mind. The dozy cat had tried to impregnate him, he thought, then whimpered loudly as the penis withdrew, the spines on its tip rending his already torn flesh. Dimly he remembered reading that the spines helped a female cat conceive.

He would have laughed if he hadn't hurt so much. The cat shifted off him a bit, but still kept him pinned. "Ray," he tried to reach his lover's consciousness. "I need a doctor, Ray. 'm bleeding, angelfish, please let me up."

No joy. Instead, a raspy tongue began to lap at his injuries. Mate. He heard the word more clearly this time and understood a bit. It seemed that Beelzy, like Ray, considered Bodie his mate, and had been angered when Bodie had run from him. So Beelzy had punished his disobedient mate. Now, the cat was tending to his mate's hurts.

Somehow the abrasive licks stopped the bleeding and the pain eased. Handy bit of magic that, he thought, uncertain if it was some of his own or the cat's. Though he had every reason to fear a nasty infection, Bodie knew he would be all right, knew that, while his mind might have been slow, his body had recognized that it now belonged to both aspects of Raymond Doyle. Still, he didn't fancy lubing himself up every morning in case Beelzy decided to give him a tumble, nor did the idea of this tearing at every coupling appeal. So, held securely in the warmth of the strong, furry limbs, Bodie wished his body to change....

England, 1986

...The cat came a moment after he did, the yowl making him wince. Must have heard that one back in London, he thought, flinching just a bit as the blasted spines reminded him once again of the difference between a human and feline cock. Loftily ignoring the now-familiar vision of himself surrounded by kittens, he held his position as Beelzy cleaned him, then got to his feet.

He reached for his clothes, but stopped when he heard the growl. "Oh, give it a rest, Beelzy," he said, glancing up to note that it was Murph this time who had managed to casually stroll by for an eyeful. "They all know I belong to you, don't they. Besides, you're the one who makes me strip down to me birthday suit in front of 'em."

The cat growled, snagged up Bodie's trousers, then thrust them at him.

Bodie pulled them on. "And what about you? Lost your clothes again, have you?" he asked.

Beelzy chose that moment to get terribly interested in washing his left, front paw.

He sighed, slipping back into his poloneck. "Good job you don't favor pricey jeans."

The paw became even more interesting.

"Well, go on, get in the car," he told his furry other half, making a mental note to ask Doyle just how much those tatty jeans of his cost. "Can't have you changin' out here, can we." Beelzy might like flaunting his lover's assets, but Bodie didn't want this lot gaping at Doyle's.

The cat growled, determined to keep an eye on Bodie -- his usual reaction of equal parts jealousy and the vague memory that Bodie had been in danger. To be fair, Bodie supposed he had been, but no more than any of the other lads, and it had been Doyle who had gone pelting off after the one villain who'd tried to make a run for it. Bodie tried not to picture what had happened to that one, though the sod must have done something nasty to make Doyle transform. Beelzy was as efficient as Doyle, but his kills tended to be a tad messier.

Bodie knelt beside Beelzy, then nuzzled his whiskers. "I love you," he whispered softly. "Trust me."

The auburn silk-like fur rubbed against him, then the beast trotted off to the car. Bodie sighed. A pity the human beneath that fur wasn't so easily dealt with, he thought, then turned his attention back to wrapping up the op.

Somewhere, forty years later...

The headlines were full of the news for days -- a small, private plane carrying the recently retired Co-Controllers of CI5 had gone down somewhere over the Channel. No foul play was suspected and neither the plane nor the bodies had been found.

At the Inn, Bodie sipped at his cup of tea and considered the next few years. Though he was technically 71 years old, both he and his lover didn't look a bit older than the day they'd joined CI5 when Bodie was just 27. He rubbed at his face, grateful that the ever-growing amounts of make-up needed to hide his youth were no longer needed.

Immortal -- sort of. That was the last surprise all this magic stuff had dumped on him. None of them aged -- and though they could be hurt as easily as a normal human -- they always healed. Been nice to have known that back when Doyle had been shot all those years ago, he thought, still aggrieved over how late in the day he'd been told. He considered it absolutely no excuse that his father hadn't known Doyle was magical, and Doyle hadn't known about the immortality clause. Even after Doyle had found out, the rotten sod had actually waited until Bodie's good looks and natural fitness could no longer explain the lack of wrinkles and grey hair. Then he'd handed Bodie a make-up kit and some grey hair dye while he dropped the we're-never-going-to-die news. Sort of.

While they never died, magical beings had to retreat to more mystic realms for a time, then they returned to a mundane world that had conveniently forgotten that they had ever existed. In twenty or fifty years, George Cowley would once again be Controller of CI5 or something like it and agents 3.7 and 4.5 would once again be his top team. And on and on it would go until the universe itself blew up -- then it was anybody's guess what would happen.

Bodie found it all much more appealing than the oblivion he'd thought awaited him -- especially since Doyle would be with him every eternal step of the way. Still, it did leave a bloke a bit out of sorts about what to do with his time until he could go back to playing cops and robbers.

It was all right for Cowley and the others. They could practice their shape-shifting. Hell, the old man could even practice aging, then de-aging. Bit unfair that. Bodie couldn't turn into anything, but his father had TWO magical powers. Bodie's bit of magic, while strong, was of little use. Wish magic, the Crone had called it. Given time and enough desire, he could wish about all sorts of happenings, but it took hours -- days, and he'd been assured it would always be that way.

He snorted. Be a lot more helpful if he could wish up a tank when the villains had all the joy. Such grumblings always ended with someone telling him that this was real life not some cheesy television show. He always just rolled his eyes. Real life. Hah!

Well, old son, that little sulk used up about ten minutes. Just 19 years, 11 months, et cetera to go. He smiled at himself, then poured himself another cuppa. He knew he wanted to do something with his time here -- do something important. He just didn't know what.

No closer to the answer, he pushed aside his finished cup of tea and headed for the great outdoors. As it always did, the place looked like a quaint country inn in the midst of a small wood, but unless one wanted to go back to the real world, those woods went on forever, and the place fairly vibrated with magic.

Bodie sighed, a part of him feeling every bit as out of place here as he had when Doyle had first brought him to the Inn. Back then he hadn't discovered his own magic, nor had he realized that when they'd checked in that they'd crossed into another realm. Now he knew, but he still didn't quite feel like he belonged.

A rustle of feathers made him automatically raise his right arm, and a moment later a golden eagle settled onto the temporary perch. "Morning Aron," he said.

Aron gave him a disapproving look, the mental image of a small bird in a nest flashing through Bodie's mind. Chick.

Bodie smiled. He'd gotten so accustomed to calling his father 'Mr. Cowley' in the presence of others that he sometimes forgot himself when they were alone. "Sorry, morning, Dad."

The bird fairly preened, then studied Bodie for a few minutes, the feathered head tilting to one side then the other. The nest appeared in Bodie's mind again, this time the feel of it a bit greyer. Chick sad.

"No, just a bit bored," Bodie assured him, starting to walk toward the lake. "Not sure what to do with myself."

There was far more of George Cowley in Aron than there was of Ray Doyle in Beelzy. Cowley had had a teacher from the beginning, while Ray had not, and Cowley had had years more of practice, so the bird was not quite as grounded in the Now as Beelzy tended to be. It made concepts like boredom a bit easier for the eagle to understand.

Images went flashing through Bodie's mind. Images of hunts, of fighting off predators, of keeping the chick in the nest where he belonged, of patrolling the skies, of... "All right, all right," Bodie laughed. "I take the point. I should be grateful for a bit of peace, eh?"

The feathered head nuzzled Bodie's cheek, then the bird preened again. Love chick. Proud of chick.

A rather sloppy speech for his father, and Bodie smiled even as he blushed, but before he could answer the bird took flight again, soaring off to do whatever birds did before the evening meal and good manners required a transformation back to human form. No longer worried about sharp talons digging into his flesh if he made a misstep, Bodie's gait picked up a bit of speed.

If nothing else, his relationship with Beelzy had made him quite adept at stripping on the run, so he skinned out of his clothes and dove into the cool blue water without a pause. For the next hour he swam hard, pushing muscles that had felt almost cramped by inactivity, then he pulled himself out onto the bank to lie in the sun.

All around him, Doyle, Murphy, Jax, Stuart and a dozen other of CI5's finest prowled about, doing what Bodie called 'getting in touch with their inner animal.' There were other humans about as well, but Bodie didn't feel a kinship with them -- like his mates, he was hunter, not an artist or a healer like the other non-shifters. No, he was the son of an eagle and the mate of a cat -- just not the sort to consort easily with peaceful types.

The melancholy tried to claim him again, but Beelzy was suddenly beside him, rubbing against him. After the cat had loved him, they snuggled up and slept. When Bodie woke he caught sight of Aron swooping down to snatch a rabbit from the far shore. Hope that's not Murph you're about to have for dinner, he thought with a smile, only because he knew it wasn't possible. Somehow the familiars recognized each other -- there were no accidents.

He tried to raise up a bit to watch his father's flight, but a big paw pulled him back down. Bodie gave the cat an indulgent smile, but he felt a tiny bit sad as well. The only thing he regretted about his choice of lover was that he could give his father no grandchildren, and Cowley would have no other children for an immortal could sire only one child. Yet, fate had cheated Bodie and Cowley out of his childhood years -- father and son unaware of each other until Bodie was 19. Nothing could get those years back, but a child would have eased their loss.

Bodie snuggled closer to Beelzy and was rewarded with a raspy lick across his cheek. Mate, Beelzy projected to him, along with the inevitable vision of 'domestic bliss.'

"I am not having any bloody kittens," he murmured for the umpteenth time, but the words swirled about in his mind, mixing with his dissatisfaction and regrets, until a different picture formed. Bodie stared at it for a long time. Then he smiled.

Bodie wandered about the suite of rooms he and Doyle called home while in this realm, pausing every now and then to caress his cock. He needed to keep himself hard, almost on the point of coming until he heard Doyle's soft tread on the stairwell. This was the most difficult part of his plan -- patience with sexual desire never having been his strong suit -- and probably the most unnecessary. He had thought of several other ways to do this, but none suited him. So he chose to suffer a bit and smiled even as his touch made him groan softly in frustration.

Yours is a powerful magic, sweet William, but you must always be certain of the details or your spells will go wrong. The Crone's words his mantra through the last week, Bodie had researched the details of this spell with meticulous care. He'd poured through books, spent hours talking to Nimu, the chief healer, then 'cast his spell' -- well, pictured exactly what he wanted to happen -- with precise detail. Nothing would go wrong -- the very air seemed to sing with that promise -- he had done it just right. Now, all he needed was Doyle.

Soon he told his aching balls. Soon. Doyle always returned to him between five and six. It was 5:30 now. Another minute slipped by, then he heard the soft scuffing sound that signaled Doyle was home. No one else would have heard it, but no one else was as aware of Doyle as Bodie. In the few seconds that remained, Bodie threw himself down on the bed. One quick stroke as the door opened, and he came all over his hand.

"Oh, Christ," he heard Doyle gasp, his voice tight with sexual tension.

Bodie smiled at his lover, then held out his sticky, wet hand. "Been missing you, angelfish. Come love me."

Doing a reasonable imitation of Beelzy, Doyle pounced on him, then kissed Bodie breathless, even as Bodie spread his spilled seed over the head of Doyle's erection. "Oh, Bodie," Doyle groaned, "I can't --"

"'s all right, Ray," Bodie assured him, lifting his legs up and over Doyle's shoulders. "Just take me. Cuddle later."

With a growl, Doyle plunged deep into Bodie's body with the very first thrust. A few quick strokes later he came, spilling his seed into the passage. Bodie felt it happen even as his mate's slender body slumped against him. It was like a tickle passing through his nether-regions, gathering up two sperm, twisting together, then drawing them out of his bowels up into a secret place that he had created. Things unraveled, reformed, then cells began to split. And Bodie smiled.

His smile was a bit more weary as he heaved himself up from the bog for the twelfth morning in a row. Still, a bit of sick first thing in the morning didn't seem too high a price to pay, he thought, brushing the taste out of his mouth. Unfortunately, when he straightened up, he saw Doyle's scowling face reflected in the bath mirror. Guess everyone didn't think so.

"Get dressed, pet," Doyle said after a long moment of silence.

Bodie frowned. He rather fancied a lazy day in bed. "Why? Where we going?"

"To see Nimu. This is the fifth morning in a row you've been sick, and I want her to check you out."

The Healer. Doyle was dragging him to see the Healer. So much for his little secret, though he was pleased that he'd hidden his condition from his lover for so long. Five days, angelfish? What happened to my observant little copper? Gone slack have you?

Still, he liked having his secret -- considered it a bit of revenge for the immortality secret -- so he argued a bit. All that did was get Doyle to enlist Cowley's help hauling him to Nimu's rooms.

Like a good loser, he allowed her to poke at him, to examine, as Cowley put it, his alarmingly distended belly, though it was just a bit of a thickening for now. He couldn't help but be pleased about how much the two men loved him, fussing over him as they detailed his symptoms to the beautiful, willowy woman.

She listened to them, he saw suspicion sparkle in her eyes, then she checked him over again. "So our little talk was not quite so theoretical after all," she whispered in his ear, proving she had sussed it out. Well, it was QUITE obvious if one thought about it.

Her eyes sparkled, letting him know she wasn't displeased, then she turned to the two tense observers. "There's no need to be worried. His condition is progressing nicely."

"Condition?" Doyle latched on to the only alarming word. "What condition?"

She looked at Bodie. "Truth time is it not, William?"

He nodded, then caught hold of Doyle's hand. Best to come right out with it, he decided, then said, "Gonna have your baby, sunshine."

His father's eyes rolled skyward accompanied by a muttered, "Of course."

But Doyle just stared at him. "You're what?"


"But you can't--"

Bodie stared at him. This from a man who could turn into an overgrown moggy.

"That's impos--"

Ever so cute when he sputters, he decided.

"You're a m--"

Well, of course.

"But I had meself fixed!" he finally wailed.

"Know that," Bodie assured him, rushing to head off any silly jealous accusations. "Wished you unfixed, didn't I."

"Oh." He sat down heavily on the edge of the examination table and stared at Bodie.

He could almost hear the wheels turning inside that curly head, putting it all together, then he looked at Bodie with so much love it made him ache. "It'll hurt, Bodie love. Sort of pain a bloke's not supposed to know," he said softly, gently caressing his lover's forehead with his free hand.

"'s joy, too, Ray," he answered. Shifting their linked hands to his belly. "'s our daughter in there. Worth a few aches, isn't she."


"Have your eyes. Insisted on that when she came together."

Doyle shook his head, obviously having trouble absorbing all of this. "How do two blokes end up with a girl?"

"All babies start out female," Bodie informed him. "Thought a smart bloke like you would know that. Told her to stay that way."

"You talk to her, do you?"

"All mums talk to their babies," Bodie informed him.

Doyle smiled. "Mum?"

"Way I understand it, the one who gives birth is the mum. One who takes all the credit is the dad," he said, prepared to be patient, even when Doyle broke into a soft, delighted laughter. Bodie'd had a great deal more time to deal with the notion of a toddler calling him mummy than Doyle, and it still made him chuckle a bit. Still, he rather fancied the notion.

"Hmm, that mean she's gonna be a Doyle?"

Bodie's smile faltered. He'd thought about that too, but he wasn't certain how his lover would take it, and he suddenly regretted his impulse to keep things secret instead of telling Doyle in the privacy of their rooms. He wanted... his glance shifted to his father and found that he was smiling at him, his eyes full of love. Bodie wanted...

Doyle squeezed his hand, drawing his gaze back to him. Then Doyle reminded Bodie why he loved him so much. "'s perfect. Be a Cowley, just like her beautiful mum."

With a whooshing sound like the air had been knocked from his lungs, Cowley dropped onto the bed on the other side of Bodie, his eyes filled with tears, "Ach, laddies, you don't --"

"No," Doyle interrupted him. "Been a father to both of us, haven't you."

"Aye, I'd always hoped so."

"Then that's settled," Doyle caressed the slightly swollen belly. "She got another name yet?"

"No, thought I'd leave that to you."

"Seems you've got three you never've made much use of," he said, thinking aloud. "Never took to Phillipa or Wilhelmena. But Andrea's nice. That suit you, pet? Andrea Cowley."

"Andrea Rachel Cowley," Bodie corrected, and Doyle nodded. Then Bodie had another thought, "Just one thing, Ray."

"What, pet?"

"You can tell Beelzy that she won't be a bloody kitten."

Bodie woke to the nudge of a cold, wet nose against the small of his back. Once that would have startled him, but after two months of it, he merely groaned and rolled onto his back so he could look into a pair of large brown eyes. "It can't be lunch time already," he groaned, feeling like he'd just settled down for his morning nap.

The wolf, also accustomed to this daily ritual, just looked at him.

Bodie made a few choice remarks about Jax's parentage, but sat up in the bed all the same. All the better to glower at his nursemaids. Nocturnal like her father's familiar, Andrea was very active at night, keeping Bodie awake until all hours with sharp little kicks that would do a World Cup player proud, so he tended to sleep during the day. But he'd missed a few meals that way, and Nimu had not been pleased by the resulting weight loss.

Jax and Stuart had volunteered to make certain he made it downstairs for lunch, leaving breakfast and dinner for Doyle to contend with. The large green frog sitting on the wolf's back made a loud chirump sound, and Bodie glared at him. "I'm moving as fast as I can, Stuart. Got a bit more to shift around these days."

Stuart looked unimpressed, but Jax's soft snout nuzzled the belly and the seven-month old child beneath.

"She's doing fine,"he murmured, his just-awake stroppiness fading at the caress. "Mind, I feel like I've gone two rounds with Macklin."

The next chirump sounded a bit more sympathetic.

Satisfied, Bodie stood, then stretched his spine -- no spell proof against an old-fashioned backache. Damned inconvenient, he thought darkly.

Andrea chose that moment to shift a bit, drawing his attention back to why he was putting up with all of this. Morning, kitten, he thought, long ago having slipped into the habit of using Doyle's nickname for the girl. Called it Beelzy's contribution to the baby. Didn't figure you'd wake up for hours after last night's romp.

He pulled on a pair of baggy drawstring trousers and an oversized tunic, then, unwilling to deal with socks and regular shoes, slipped his feet into a pair of loafers. Bodie felt like a blimp already and wondered how the hell his body was going to handle two more months of getting bigger and bigger. But accommodating that HAD been part of the spell. Guess we'll just have to trust in magic, won't we, kitten.

He caught sight of himself in the mirror and wrinkled his nose in distaste, wondering just how Doyle could still want to make love to him every night.

Not that the stroppy bugger had done anything about that desire for the first few weeks after he'd learned about the baby. Had treated Bodie like fine porcelain then. Bodie had tried to explain very patiently that pregnant Bodies liked to make love just as often as unpregnant Bodies, but no joy. He'd finally had to enlist Nimu's help on that one.

Doyle had surrendered gracefully after that, loving Bodie with a tender firmness that often left him in tears. Hormones, Bodie would sniff, openly weeping more often than not. Well, what was the use of being pregnant if you couldn't blame a few things on it?

Beelzy on the other hand had not been best pleased about this pregnancy business. Stroppy cat had sworn off sex for the duration -- some cat thing -- but, though it had made him a tad ill-tempered, the cat had taken care of Bodie with the same loving attention as Doyle.

No doubt about it, kitten; your mum knows how to pick a mate. He glanced at the wolf and frog. "Ready, boys?" he asked, as if he'd been waiting on them instead of the other way around.

Some rather tempting odors drifting up from the kitchen greeted Bodie when he opened the door to his and Doyle's rooms. Deciding he was hungry, he waited rather impatiently for the wolf to come trotting out, then closed the door. Andrea chose that moment to start kicking again, striking him soundly in a spot that was already quite sore.

"Christ," he groaned. "Aren't you ever going to stop kicking me!"

'course, just not now.

The small, but crystal clear voice sounded in his head, startling him. He whirled around to see who was speaking, Andrea's weight throwing him off balance. He stumbled, then pitched down the stairwell.

No like that!

I know, kitten, but it's too soon for you to come out.

No like!

Please, kitten, you have to settle down. Your mum won't do it again.


Yes, I promise.

'kay. Stay.

Thank you. Now go to sleep.

'kay. Love Daddy.

Love you too

Bodie listened to this conversation with fascination and a bit of irritation. It was all going on inside his head, but he wasn't part of it. Felt like a bloody telephone and would have complained bitterly about it, but he couldn't find the strength to even open his eyes.

The hand on his belly shifted to take his own, and he heard Doyle say, "Bodie? Bodie love, wake up. Please."

"Am awake," he muttered.

"Look at me, then."

Never able to deny Doyle anything, Bodie obeyed and found himself looking up into a pair of very worried green eyes. "Andrea?"

"She's fine," Doyle reassured him, kissing the back of Bodie's hand. "Just a bit stroppy about all the excitement. 's you I'm worried about."

"'s silly. I'm immortal."

Doyle blushed. "Can't help it, can I. Don't like seeing you hurt."

"Not hurt. Just banged my head a bit."

"Good job it's so hard," Doyle tried to tease, but his smile seemed strained.

Nice to be loved so much, Bodie decided, then remembered something else. "Ray?"

"Yeah, pet?"

"Andrea. She talks."

A more genuine smile lit up Doyle's face. "Know that. Regular chatterbox, she is. Just like her mum."

"Babies don't talk."

Now it was Ray's turn to give him a 'this from a pregnant man' look.

Bodie bit down on the rest of his sputtering, remembering how superiorly indulgent he'd felt when Doyle had done it. Instead he demanded, "How?"

Doyle shifted his glance to the far side of the bed, and Nimu answered, "All the talking you do with the familiars has left you a bit telepathic, William. Every time you spoke to her, she listened and understood."

"But babies can't talk!" he protested again. Dammit! That had not been part of any spell!

"No, and neither can she. But she has learned to think to you. She will not be able to actually speak until after she is born and learns how to form the sounds."

Bodie considered that. "But Ray was talking to her. She can think to him, too?"

"No, but he can hear her, and she him, if he touches you. This will probably be true of your father as well. But I cannot hear her, nor could your friends."

Glad of that, Bodie thought. He had enough people groping his belly without adding in the chance of talking to the little chit. Then something occurred to him and his skin flushed hot with embarrassment.

"Bodie?" Doyle asked, squeezing his hand.

Bodie ignored him. "Nimu, just how aware of what's happening to me is she?"

Doyle gave him a curious look, then the penny seemed to drop and he blushed bright red.

Nimu chuckled. "No more than any other child, I should think."

That wasn't very reassuring. Still Bodie couldn't see enduring two months of celibacy just in case -- especially since, if she was aware of such things, she'd already gotten more than an eyeful. He sighed. Just like her father, she is. Always making life difficult.

A rush of wet jerked Bodie from a lovely dream. Finally, he thought, then noticed how dark it was. Typical. The stroppy little chit couldn't even wait until a decent hour to put him through this. The first labor pain hit, giving him a firm reminder of just what "this" was. He grit his teeth and hoped for the best. A fast, easy labor had been a part of his spell, but he was all too aware that fast and easy were relative terms when something the size of a watermelon wanted to force its way out of a body.

He hadn't wanted his daughter to come popping out of his backside like last night's dinner, so he'd "programmed" a few last minute and highly temporary changes into the mix. Curious to find out if it had worked, he tried to reach down and feel for himself, but a rather substantial lump blocked his way.

"Angelfish," he whispered into the nearest ear.

Despite the riot of curls covering it, the words penetrated Doyle's sleep, and he came instantly awake. "Something wrong, pet?"

"No, just havin' a baby."

There was a moment of nothing, then Doyle fairly exploded from the bed. Bodie would have sworn his mate's feet never had time to touch the floor in that lunge to the phone. He dialed one number -- the front desk -- then shouted "It's time!"

Oh, very informative, my love, Bodie thought, then groaned at a second, harder pain.

Doyle was at his side in a flash. "Bodie love?" he asked, reaching for Bodie's hand.

"No!" Bodie gasped, then relaxed as the pain subsided. "Mustn't hold my hand, Ray. Might break it."

Doyle nodded -- they both knew hand bones could not withstand the force of Bodie's strength. "What can I do?"

"Take a look for me. See what's happening."

Doyle nodded, then started to turn him.

"No, check between my legs first." If he'd done it right...

His lover gave him a curious look, then did as he'd been asked. "Bodie, there's an opening down here. You grow yourself some more extra parts?"

"Just for today. Back to normal when it's over. Pro -- Oh, Christ."

Doyle gripped his wrist as he rode out the pain. When it was over, Doyle started pulling him up. "Come on, pet. You can't take this lying down. Be worse that way."

He got Bodie to sit up in the bed, slipped behind him, then drew Bodie back to rest against him.

Out, out, out, out. A tiny voice sounded in his mind.

Have all the bloody patience of your father, he scolded Andrea with gentle affection. Give me half a chance.

Want see, Daddy. Want see, Granda. Now, now, now.

Bodie sighed. Secretive little bitch hadn't told any of them that she'd planned on comin' out today. Bodie was going to have to work on his family's fondness for secrets.

A flutter of wings signaled his father's arrival, the great bird coming to rest on the footboard of the bed. Then he hopped backwards and transformed into human form. Cowley snagged up the nearest robe, frowning as Bodie tensed with another pain. "Where the devil is that woman?" he demanded, stalking toward the door.

He was only halfway across the room when it flew open and Nimu rushed in.

One of her herbal concoctions took the edge off the pain, though Bodie was far from comfortable. This might not have been one of his better ideas, he thought as the pains grew closer and closer together. Still, a bit late in the day for second thoughts.

Mummy, want --

Andrea, settle down. You're mum's doing the best he can.

Yes, Daddy.

Yes, Daddy? Bodie glowered at the hand on his belly. He was doing all the work and that... that... kitten listens to Doyle? Of all the --

"Ray," he shouted, when a rather intense pain was accompanied by a jolt of fear. "She's afraid. Help--"

Bodie lost all track of the conversation as his daughter plunged through the passage he'd created for her, but he felt Doyle's hands soothing him, Doyle's thoughts soothing their daughter -- who had not bargained on this tiny little exit portal and was not at all pleased.

Suddenly it was over, as first Andrea, then the after-birth spilled from his body. That was a particularly spectacular mess, as the womb and passage he no longer needed were discarded along with the usual afters glop. Have to burn the mattress, he thought as his father wiped him clean -- Nimu's attention on Andrea, while Doyle continued to hold Bodie, to nuzzle his neck and whisper words of love in his ear.

According to the movies, he should have been telling Doyle to never touch him again, but Bodie never wanted Ray to let go, never wanted to move despite the wet under him.

His father took care of that as well, tucking a thick, dry towel beneath Bodie, giving him a temporary bit of comfort until he could get up long enough for the bed to be changed. Bodie thought he just might be able to manage that in a year or so, then Nimu laid his daughter in his arms.

Andrea was angry, screaming her outrage at the top of her tiny lungs, and when he touched her, a stream of expletives that would have done his merc days proud assaulted his mind. Bodie flushed, but Doyle chuckled as he caressed one of the tiny legs. "Got her mother's way with words, doesn't she."

And her father's eyes. They were the color of all newborns' eyes, of course, but the shape was just right. He noted her hair was dark like his, and that the scrunched head just might manage to fill out to match the shape of his own, but he didn't care. She was out of his body, and she had her father's eyes. Life just might work out after all.

Bodie tucked a towel around his waist and emerged from the bathroom to find Doyle rocking a rather cross six-week old girl. "Is the Doyle charm fading already?" he asked with a smile.

Doyle smiled back. "Nope, just doesn't have a chance against a Bodie's hungry tum."

"You're not suggesting that we attach too much importance on food?" he asked, taking their daughter and settling her against his right nipple. She all but pounced on it.

"Oh, no," Doyle said, all wide innocence. "Bet her first words are 'swiss roll.'"

Bodie flinched just a bit at the greedy mouth trying to suck him dry. He'd almost given a pass on the breast feeding thing -- and he had absolutely refused to grow breasts for anyone, but the magic and a rather broad span of muscle had let him do it without any noticeable changes in his anatomy. Had had quite enough of those.

Still, Andrea was more than worth it. And the glower Bodie usually reserved for child molesters and serial killers had convinced Doyle of the folly of ducking out on his share of nappy changes. All in all, Bodie felt an extraordinary sense of happiness. Only one thing still bothered him. "Ray?"

"Yes, pet."

"Don't you think it's time she met Beelzy?" Actually it was more than past time. She'd already met every human and animal familiar from CI5 -- in fact Murphy's rabbit form was her favorite night-night toy (Bodie considered this suitable revenge for all those sarky comments back in London). But she still hadn't met her own father's other form.

"Bodie, he's a cat."


"Cats... well, sometimes male cats kill kittens."

Oh, so that was what was worrying him. "Sunshine, they only do that to make the female want to come across again. Beelzy's had me three times since she was born."

"Used to having you more often than that."

"Only because you used to change into him more often than that." And Bodie was a bit worried about Doyle's reluctance to turn into Beelzy since the birth. He didn't want them going back to the days when Ray couldn't control the change, and fighting the urge could do just that. "'sides, male cats never try that when the mum is around. Let him see his daughter, Ray."

Doyle nodded, then slipped out of his robe. He changed so quickly it was hard to follow it. Seemed more like one minute he was a man, the next an overgrown moggy.

The cat padded right over to Bodie, his great head nuzzling at the swell of Bodie's towel-covered genitals. Mate.

A verb, not a noun. "If you want," Bodie assured the beast, "but I thought you might like to see someone first."

Bodie sat down on the floor, so Beelzy could get a better look at the baby.

Beelzy sniffed at her, and, at the nudge of soft fur, Andrea stopped feeding, allowing Bodie to turn her. She reached out, her grasping hands a bit clumsy, but still surprisingly gentle as she made her own investigation. Finally she giggled. Daddy.

Yes, this is daddy.

Soft. Daddy cuddle.

Bodie tensed a bit, afraid that the cat might not be so easily charmed as the human, but Beelzy immediately settled down on the floor. Bodie curled up beside him, their daughter nestled between them, her small body cradled in the soft, silky fur.

Beelzy reached out, his great paws surrounding Bodie. Mate. Kitten.

Bodie chuckled just a bit. It might be the craziest life he ever could have imagined, but it was his. And he was happy.

-- THE END --

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