The Art of Love
NOTE: This story originally appeared in the zine "Truth To Tell" (Deathless Pros Press, 1995)
This is an AU story set within the CI5 universe.
The first thing Bodie saw when he opened the folder was a color photo of a fascinating looking man. Large green eyes, a perfect nose, full lips, and long, unruly auburn curls. There was an underlying sensuality which came through even in two dimensions. The effect was heightened by a marred cheekbone, probably broken at some point, which pushed the man's looks beyond the merely erotic into the exotic--beautiful, but with an air of danger.
"Raymond Doyle," he read aloud. "Thirty-two. An artist."
From the back of the file slipped a slim booklet. Bodie retrieved what turned out to be an exhibition catalog from a recent three-man show at a small Soho gallery. Inside were two photos of Doyle's work, showing very realistic nudes, one male, one female. "Didn't think anyone went in for this sort of thing anymore." He looked up at his boss. "All abstract now, isn't it?"
George Cowley, controller of CI5, sat behind a large oak desk, a pair of reading glasses in one hand. "Doyle seems to be making a living."
"What's the case, then?" Bodie flipped idly through the file.
"Blackmail. Badger jobs." Cowley put his glasses on to look at a second file on his desk. "In the last six months two highly placed politicians have been the victims of carefully arranged, compromising positions. One involved a young woman named Heather Stone, the other, a young man named Patrick Winter. Fortunately, both victims sought the help of the police and were willing to risk their careers rather than pay up."
Bodie had a feeling he knew where this assignment was leading. He had found the point in Doyle's file which related specifically to him: "known bisexual". Cowley had been well aware of Bodie's preferences when he signed on. He had, in fact, been quite open about the need for someone who could, on occasion, get "close" to a suspect in a particular way, no matter what their sex. And Bodie had never objected to those conditions. It was just another aspect of the job.
"Pay up?" he asked. "Money or information?"
"Information." Cowley set his file aside. "We suspect there are a pair of KGB agents running this little operation. One of the victims was able to describe his contact fairly well. Sounds very much like Dimitrov."
Bodie raised an eyebrow. "Our old friend Sergei? Thought he'd gone into retirement."
"Is he working with his old pal?"
Cowley raised an eyebrow. "I would hardly call Olga Petrovna an 'old pal', Bodie."
"No," Bodie agreed. "She makes the Wicked Witch of the West look like Mary Poppins."
"Aye," Cowley said. "Not someone to take lightly."
"And not someone who gives up easily."
"Precisely. We've no doubt they'll try again. Third time's the charm. That's where you come in."
Bodie nodded. "And where does Raymond Doyle come in?"
"Both Heather Stone and Patrick Winter worked as models for Mr. Doyle shortly before their involvement in these blackmail cases."
"You think he's the go-between?"
"Let's just say I'm highly suspicious," Cowley replied. "Mr. Doyle, as I said, makes a living with his paintings, and with a bit of teaching on the side. However, his income does not quite match up with his expenses. He's a tad extravagant for his means."
"A little extra, undeclared income, perhaps?" Bodie took a closer look at Doyle's file. "Says here he shares a two-bedroom flat. Isn't being extravagant on rent, then, is he?"
"It's within his income, yes. His extravagance is mainly in travelling. In the past year he's been to Italy, Greece, and Austria, and taken two trips to New York."
"Who's the woman?" Bodie had found the name of Doyle's flatmate. Carla Phillips.
"Another artist," Cowley said. "They also both have studio space in a building near the apartment. We haven't determined their exact relationship."
"Do they also share the same models?" If they did, Bodie thought, there was no reason Carla couldn't be the go-between instead of Doyle.
"We don't know. But I'm certain you can find out."
Bodie felt a slight tingling along his spine. Here it came, the "we need you to get close" bit. "Why not simply question Ms. Stone and Mr. Winter?"
"I wish we could," Cowley replied solemnly. "But they're both dead."
Bodie let out a low whistle. "How?"
"Ms. Stone from a drug overdose, and Mr. Winter was found hanged. Everything very tidy, of course, no way to prove they weren't simple suicides." Cowley removed his glasses and rubbed his temples. "They were young, nineteen, twenty years old." He paused. "I want this stopped before anyone else is hurt. I need someone on the inside, someone who can get close to Doyle, get to know him, his flatmate, and the other models they use."
Yeah, Bodie thought, he knew what that meant, all right. He wondered why Cowley didn't just come out and say something like, "sleep with one or both of them if you can." Sometimes his boss was more frank about these little assignments, sometimes he couched it in discreet terms. Nonetheless, there was no misunderstanding between them on what was required.
There was, however, a question to be answered. How was he going to "get to know" an artist? His knowledge of the art world was restricted to what he remembered from school and a few trips to museums. What role did Cowley have planned for him? He could hardly fake being another artist, so that left...
"Oh, no." Bodie frowned, having figured out what was in the Old Man's plans. "Sir, I've never done anything like that before."
Cowley's lips twitched into a slight smile. "I understand that all you need do is hold still for long periods. Surely you've done that on surveillance jobs."
"Not in the nude," Bodie replied tersely.
"Well, there's a first time for everything." Cowley handed him a small flyer. "Doyle recently posted a number of these in various art stores and school boards. It seems he is always on the lookout for new models. 'All ages, all body types, male or female.' Not terribly particular, it seems. But from the photos we've collected of his work, he shows a definite preference for attractive young men." Cowley gave Bodie a quick once-over. "I think you just might qualify."
"Great." Bodie closed the file on Doyle, tucking it under his arm for later study. "What am I supposed to be when I'm not busy modelling? You can't make a full-time living at that, can you?"
"Doubtful," Cowley agreed. "Therefore, the rest of the time you are an instructor at a sports club. Your cover is all arranged, the details are in here." He handed Bodie another folder. "As well as a temporary flat close to Doyle's building. Good luck."
"Thanks," Bodie muttered. He wondered, as he was leaving, if the Old Man would let him keep any of the modelling money he made.
Bodie dutifully faced the plain black backdrop. He was glad that Doyle kept his studio well-heated. He didn't fancy freezing in some dank garret.
He stood on a wooden platform in the spacious, high-ceilinged room, in the all-together, while Doyle checked out the goods. On the platform was an uncomfortable-looking wood chair and a much more comfy-looking mattress littered with blankets and pillows. He wouldn't mind posing there all day.
"Okay, thanks," Doyle said. "I think you'll do just fine. How long can you hold a pose?"
Bodie glanced down at the mattress. "Well, I don't know." He turned to face Doyle, giving him one of his best sultry looks. "No one's exhausted me yet."
"Uh-huh." Doyle smiled softly. "Can see that might take some doing." He immediately turned away to fiddle with his easel. "Can you do a few poses right now? I'd like to do some sketching, see how it goes. Pay is six pounds an hour."
"Yeah, no problem." Not going to get rich off this. "What do you want?"
"One standing, one sitting, one lying down--twenty minutes each. Have a seat while I get set up."
Bodie propped himself on the chair and watched Doyle shift the easel about until he'd found the proper spot. Then he clipped a large pad of paper to a board and secured it to the easel, using a second, smaller board below it as a shelf. On this he set out sticks of charcoal, eraser, sharpener, and a dirty cloth. Finally, he adjusted a tall standing light with shutters, and suddenly a glaring bulb shone down on the platform. Bodie blinked as Doyle flicked on a second, smaller clamp light on his easel and then turned off the room lights.
"Right. Standing pose first, please."
Bodie rose, not entirely sure what to do next. But when in doubt, he thought, just ask. "Anything in particular?"
"Oh, how 'bout a simple contraposto pose."
He was going to kill Cowley, who had assured him there was "nothing to it, you simply do whatever the artist tells you to do--anyone can be a model." Contraposto. Great. Were models really supposed to know Italian? Should he play dumb? No, that might blow his cover. Think fast. Well, it had to be something fairly common. Bodie rapidly scanned his memory banks for art pieces--surely he'd seen a painting or sculpture sometime in his life in which someone was standing...and then an image of Michelangelo's David flashed in his mind. Yeah, why not. It was worth a try, anyway. Bodie struck the post as closely as he could remember, hips tilted, one hand on the shoulder, other just sort of dangling...and waited for Doyle to tell him what a hopeless model he was.
"Perfect," Doyle said. "Now turn your head a bit to your left. Yeah, that's good, hold that." He began drawing.
It was all Bodie could do to stop himself sighing with relief. Fancy getting it right first time. Okay, so he wouldn't kill Cowley after all--not unless Doyle had more Italian terms in his vocabulary.
He listened to Doyle's vigorous stroking on the pad, and watched his concentrated movements. His eyes flicked rapidly from platform to paper. Periodically he paused to grab what appeared to be a knitting needle. Holding it at arm's length, he squeezed one eye shut to peer at Bodie, marking the needle. Next he held it up towards the drawing, making a comparison measurement. This would lead to a lot of frowning, some quick rubbing with the filthy cloth, and more energetic sketching, so energetic that the charcoal frequently broke in two.
Bodie was glad he had a good view of Doyle. There wasn't anything else in the bare room to look at other than a sink and a thin partition near the door, no doubt to keep visitors from a surprise view of the model. Doyle, however, was very much worth looking at...wide-shouldered and slim-hipped, his lithe body was every bit as attractive as his face. He wore tight jeans which left next-to-nothing to the imagination, and his thin, light-blue cotton shirt was unbuttoned enough to show off tufts of chest hair.
An easy lay, Bodie thought. That was what he'd read in Doyle's file. Not put in those words, naturally, but "has had a very active sex life", along with "a wide variety of partners, both male and female", spelled "easy lay" in Bodie's book. In the past two years with CI5, he'd been called upon to make use of that particular side of his bisexuality on the job three times. Each had been mercifully short, as the object of his attentions had been of average looks at best. But this time...damn, but it was one hell of an assignment, to be paid to "get close" to Ray Doyle. It wouldn't exactly be a hardship.
Better not follow that train of thought any further. Not while he was so...exposed. Bodie tried to dwell on something less provocative, like the possibility that Raymond Doyle could be supplementing his income by procuring models for use by the KGB. Not a terribly pleasant thing to do.
He drifted off mentally, jumping from one thought to another without much connection, and lost track of time until Doyle called out to him.
"You can relax now. Nice job."
"Thanks." Bodie stretched his arms and legs. Even though he was in great condition, standing perfectly still for twenty minutes had made him feel stiff. "Can I have a look?"
Bodie stepped off the platform and came round to the easel, trying not to feel self-conscious about standing there starkers. The drawing looked good to his untrained eye. The proportions were accurate, and the likeness excellent. Doyle had done a great deal in a short time, filling in details and shading. At least, he'd done a lot with the figure. The face was left unfinished, with only the barest hint of a nose, mouth, and eyes. "Quite impressive," he said. "But tell me something. Do you ever do portraits?"
"Rarely," Doyle replied. "You see, portraits don't require that the subject undress." He cast a long, appraising look at Bodie. "And I certainly appreciate the nude form."
"I see." Bodie smiled before stepping back up on the platform. "I rather enjoy taking my clothes off."
"Always a plus in a model." Doyle got a clean sheet of paper in place. "Sitting pose next. Chair facing this way, that's right. Bend one leg up and clasp it. Good."
Bodie posed again. He was intrigued by the way Doyle casually flung his come-on lines into the middle of his very professional approach to his art. Definitely flirting with him, no doubt about that. As he'd thought, an easy lay. Maybe even tonight, if things went on this smoothly.
The pose was a bit of a strain, and he felt a little stiff afterwards. Gratefully, Bodie relaxed onto the mattress for the final pose. Partway through it, a knock sounded on the studio door.
"Ray?" A female voice called from the corridor. "Is it all right?"
"Yeah," Doyle shouted back without taking his eyes off his work. "Come on in."
The door opened and a young woman with long, jet-black hair came round the partition. "Oh, you should have said you were busy."
"It's okay. Just doing some sketching. This is Mr. Bodie."
"It's just 'Bodie'."
"Is it?" She moved in closer, giving him a full going-over with intent dark eyes. "You're new."
"And I'm Carla. Sometimes Ray lets me borrow his models. I've got a studio next door. I'd love to borrow you sometime."
Doyle stopped drawing, facing her with hands on hips. "Thought you came to see me, not 'im."
She grinned. "I did, but you have to admit, good models don't turn up every day."
"Hm." Doyle cocked an eyebrow at Bodie. "Yes, he does have his good points. His schedule, for one thing, free every afternoon and weekends."
"That's perfect." She gave Bodie another look. "Need some extra money, do you?"
Bodie shrugged. "I've only got a part-time job at the moment, at a fitness center. Haven't been able to find anything else. Thought this might tide me over for a while."
"Lucky us," she replied.
"Lucky me," Doyle said. "Now, what did you come here for, 'sides trying to steal my models?"
She pursed her lips. "Not sure I should tell you if you're going to be that way."
"Carla--" He stepped towards her.
"All right, all right. I'm entertaining a few friends at the flat tonight, and I forgot to warn you earlier. Sorry."
"Bloody 'ell." Doyle threw the charcoal he still held down hard on the easel shelf. "You know I can't stand that ruddy lot of moochers you call friends."
"They're not moochers!"
"Then why the hell isn't there a bite to eat in the whole bloody kitchen the day after they've been? Dammitall, I only just got groceries in yesterday. I've asked you to give me a week's warning on your ruddy parties, and you never bloody well remember!"
Bodie shifted about on the mattress, clearing his throat. "I'll get dressed, shall I?"
"No." Doyle whirled on him. "You stay put, I'm not done sketching yet." He turned back to Carla. "What the hell am I supposed to do tonight, sleep here? I'm not going home if your friends are there. They won't go 'til three, if they decide to go at all. Christ."
"I'm sorry," she said, "but I'm not cancelling the party. It's my flat, too."
"That's going to change pretty damn soon."
"Not until the lease comes due. Don't forget I'm on there. It's not my fault you haven't got any friends of your own. It's not my fault you're a self-absorbed, selfish prick--"
"Get out!" Doyle roared, pointing fiercely at the door.
Without another word, Carla stormed off, slamming the door on her way.
Doyle stared hard at the door, breathing deeply. "Bitch," he muttered.
Bodie cleared his throat again. Quite the temper Doyle had.
"Sorry." Doyle looked genuinely embarrassed when he turned round. "Come on, let's finish this." He grabbed a stick of charcoal. But Bodie had only resumed the pose for a minute when Doyle tossed the charcoal down again. "No, it's no good. Me concentration's gone now. Go on, you can put your clothes on. I'll pay for the full hour, don't worry."
"I'm not worried." Bodie dressed slowly, dragging it out, waiting for Doyle's mood to improve.
After carefully putting away his supplies, Doyle went to the small sink to wash his charcoal-covered hands. Bodie pulled on his shoes and joined him. "Got a spot on your nose."
Doyle peered in a tiny mirror above the sink. "I'm always doing that. Rub at me nose when I'm working." He snatched a damp towel to clean if off.
Time to make my move, Bodie decided. "Say, I was just thinking of going down to the Brass Tankard for a bite, seeing as how it's getting on to supper time. Care to join me?" He tried his best to be casual about it. The pub he named, which stood a block away and which he had checked out earlier, catered to both the local artist crowd and to a large neighborhood gay clientele.
"Is that a favorite haunt of yours?" Doyle asked.
"Actually, I've only been there a few times. Just moved into this area. Seems like a nice place, though."
Doyle hesitated, giving Bodie a long look. "Yeah, why not. I haven't exactly got other plans." He grinned. "You sure you want to be seen with a selfish, self-absorbed prick?"
Bodie grinned back. "I'll take my chances."
They ordered sandwiches, soup, and lager. When the food arrived, they sat back to enjoy their meal, chatting amiably about nothing of any importance--the unusually chilly spring, the latest films they'd each seen, the neighborhood's pros and cons. Bodie found it easy to talk to Doyle, nothing felt forced, and he never felt that he had to say something to keep the conversation going. If they wanted to sit quietly and eat, they did, if they wanted to chat, they chatted.
After the food dishes were cleared away and they got started on their second pints, Bodie decided it was time to ask him about Carla, now that Doyle's temper had had plenty of time to dissipate.
"Oh, I met her at a gallery show," Doyle said in reply to his question. "We had a few mutual friends, and were both looking for a flat in this area. But we couldn't afford the prices and the cost of having a separate studio space, so we went in on a two-bedroom flat together." He sighed. "Worst mistake I've made in a long time, signing that lease. Comes up for renewal in another month, though, and I don't care where I go or how much it costs, I'm getting out of there."
"Too many parties?" Bodie asked.
"I'm not opposed to parties," Doyle replied. "When they're somewhere I don't live, and the guests are good people. Carla's got 'orrible taste in friends."
"What about your mutual ones?"
"Oh, them." Doyle shrugged. "I don't know. She doesn't seem to want to hang out with my friends anymore. 'Course, according to her, I haven't got any."
"Because you're so self-absorbed, right?" Bodie smiled.
"Yeah." Doyle chugged back his lager. "That's why I'm an artist--spend all my time drawing other people 'cause I'm so bloody self-absorbed."
Bodie appreciated his sense of sarcasm--always a good sign in anyone's character, so far as he was concerned. "I'm curious, how did you become an artist? I like to know how people wind up where they do. Me, I never had much sense of direction in life, couldn't tell what do with myself. Wound up in the army, just sort of happened. Stayed there until they found out a bit too much about me." He left the details to Doyle's imagination. If he wondered if they'd kicked him out for homosexual activities, that would be fine by him. "Had a load of odd jobs ever since. Can't seem to settle down. Don't want to spend my life at the fitness club, either." He hoped his tale would make Doyle feel relaxed about telling his own story. "So when did you know what you wanted to do?"
"Well, I started drawing when I was a kid--was always pretty good at it. Better than any other kid in school, anyway. Never really thought about doing anything else until I got older, and went off to art school." Doyle furrowed his brow. "That nearly put an end to it."
"How so?" Bodie was surprised. "Wouldn't that be the perfect place for you?"
"I didn't think so," Doyle replied. "Turned out to be the first time I had any real competition. You see, every student there had been 'better than every other kid', and suddenly we were all on the same level, along with a few who were really good. Didn't know how to handle being average--didn't do very well the first year. Turned out a lot of pretty dull stuff. Was seriously thinking of giving it all up."
"Yeah? What else would you have done, though?"
Bodie put a hand over his heart. "I swear, not a chuckle. Go on, what?"
"Police," Doyle said.
He looked utterly serious. Nonetheless, Bodie found it hard to fathom. "Is that what all failed art students do, become cops?"
"Hope not." Doyle smiled. "I'd be a bit worried about the police force if they did. No, it's 'cause my father was a policeman. Had always wanted me to follow in his footsteps. He died when I was fifteen, shot in a bank holdup." Doyle paused a moment, then went on. "Anyway, at the end of that first year of art studies, right when I was feeling rotten about my prospects, the last day of classes happened to be the anniversary of my dad's death. Got very maudlin, you know, you get drunk, you get sentimental...that's what I did. Went to see my favorite teacher the next day to tell him I wasn't coming back. And he talked me out of it. Spent hours convincing me I had talent, and that he was willing to spend some extra time with me to prove it. He was terrific. Very inspirational. Kept me going, gave me the confidence I needed to stick it out. Glad I did."
"So am I." Bodie sipped at his lager, gazing up at Doyle through his lashes. "Doubt I would have met you if you'd been a copper."
Doyle gazed back, slowly rolling his glass between his fingers. "You that fond of me already?"
Bodie felt an encouraging foot brush against his calf. "Yeah, I think I am." He briefly touched Doyle's hand.
"And are you always so friendly?" Doyle asked, not taking his eyes off Bodie's.
"No." Bodie set his empty glass down. "I'm highly selective. Only go for the very best."
"Very flattering," Doyle said. "Do you practice your chat-up lines, or does it come naturally?"
Bodie picked up the twinkle in his eyes. "Okay, okay. I'll stop pratting about." He leaned forward, arms on the table top. "I like you, and I find you attractive. My flat's only two blocks from here, and I don't share it with anyone. How would you like to avoid Carla's little party and come home with me?" He produced his most smoldering look. "Afraid I can't guarantee a night of peace and quiet, though."
Doyle ran his tongue around his lips. "Well...."
"Come on," Bodie urged, "have some fun. It's not as if you won't know what you're getting. I mean, you did have a good look today."
"That's true," Doyle said. "And it was rather impressive."
"Besides," Bodie added, sensing that he needed to keep the mood light and easy, "I've got a fridge full of food that'll still be there in the morning."
Doyle laughed. "Not expecting any moochers?"
"Not unless you plan on eating me out of house and home."
"You got any eggs and sausage in?"
Bodie relaxed, knowing he'd succeeded. "Yeah. S'pose you'll be wanting breakfast in bed next."
"Nah. Got too many other plans for what to do in bed."
"Should certainly hope so."
"You know," Doyle said with a slightly puzzled air, "it's so simple to talk to you. Don't know exactly why, but it's sort of like I've known you before or something. You didn't grow up in Derby, did you?"
Bodie shook his head. "Liverpool." He knew what Doyle meant, though. There was something odd about the rapport between them, and he felt somewhat disturbed by the fact that he wasn't really who Doyle thought he was. That was something which had never bothered him before during undercover roles. But at this moment, he wasn't talking to Doyle as an agent undercover; he was talking to him as a potential friend. And right here and now, his attraction was very real. "Must have known each other in a past life," he said.
"Right," Doyle agreed. "Except I don't believe in past lives."
"That's okay," Bodie replied. "Neither do I."
Doyle smiled. "Come on, let's get out of here."
Bodie shoved his chair back.
Bodie's undercover flat came furnished and he liked its large, overstuffed sofa and armchairs. It was forties' style furniture updated for modern tastes, with plain blue and gray upholstery. The living room also came equipped with a drinks cabinet, which he had stocked when he'd moved in. He had only needed to bring his clothes and a few books, but had also deliberately loaded up some boxes with odds and ends and left them lying about, open but still full, to give the illusion that he really had just moved there.
He offered Doyle a drink as soon as they arrived, then joined him on the sofa with two glasses of scotch. "Haven't got the stereo moved in yet, or I'd put on some music."
"That's okay, this is fine." Doyle had flung his jacket across the sofa arm. "Mind if I take my shoes off?"
"You know, I was about to suggest that." Bodie slipped his own off and got into a comfortable sprawl.
Doyle followed suit. "Must be reading my mind." He brought his legs up onto the sofa and bent one knee, using it as rest for his drinking hand. He took a sip of the scotch. "Mm, that's good stuff."
"Housewarming present from my boss," Bodie said.
"Yeah? Nice boss you've got."
Bodie nodded. "Most of the time."
"You like your job, then?"
"It's all right." Bodie kept his tone noncommittal. "Keeps me fit, anyway."
Doyle gave him a long appraising look. "I have to agree." He took a drink of his scotch. "You thought about doing other types of modelling, you know, more commercial? Clothes, adverts, catalogues, they'd love you." He shifted a bit closer to Bodie. "'Specially the ones that sell pants."
"What?" Bodie tried his best to look affronted. "And cover up me best asset?"
Doyle grinned. "Yeah, come to think of it, that would be a crime."
"You know," Bodie said, downing the contents of his glass in one go, "I feel at a distinct disadvantage here."
"Oh, how so?"
Bodie set his glass down. "Well, you've seen me in the nude--" He closed the gap between them, his thigh touching Doyle's, and let his arm fall across his shoulders. "--but I haven't seen you."
Doyle finished off his scotch and put the glass aside. "That's an easy matter to rectify."
"Would you like to rectify it out here...." Bodie leaned in close, and blew softly into Doyle's hair, ruffling the curls. "...Or would you prefer to rectify it in the bedroom?"
Doyle lightly touched Bodie's face. "Bedroom." He moved in for a kiss.
It was long and slow, starting as a tentative foray and ending in an impassioned exploration. Bodie found Doyle's mouth warm and generous, his lips amazing. He reluctantly broke the kiss, feeling the heat of arousal, wanting very much to move on to more interesting territory, though still quite entranced by that mouth.
"You've got the most incredible lips," he said, brushing a fingertip across them.
"I like yours," Doyle replied, returning the gesture. "They've got a sculpted feel...I like the way they sort of disappear partway along."
Bodie glanced downward to where Doyle was tracing the line of his upper lip and smiled. "Must be the artist in you, noticing a thing like that." He looked up.
"Oi," Doyle said, "do that again."
Bodie obediently did so. "Why?"
"Those eyelashes," Doyle replied. "Wanted to get another look at em...christ, they're gorgeous...."
"Yeah? Does that mean maybe you'll break down and do a portrait, hm?"
Doyle nodded. "Would love to try it. Be a challenge, getting so much attractiveness down in two dimensions." He put a hand on Bodie's chest. "Like the rest of you...very attractive."
"Come on, then." Bodie moved, pulling him up off the sofa. "Let's go be attractive together in the bedroom." He led the way down the hall.
I shouldn't be doing this, he suddenly thought as he walked into the bedroom. He shouldn't...not because he didn't want to make love to Doyle, but because he wanted it very much. Don't let emotions interfere with the job. He knew that rule well enough. Ray Doyle was just another assignment, someone to "get close to" for information, and not for any other reason. He tried to push the thought aside, yet it stayed with him, mocking his every move. Agent 3.7 then had sex with the suspect... Would that be regular or overtime pay?
Stop it, he yelled inwardly, even as he began undressing. What difference did it make? He was attracted to the man, would want to go to bed with him whether it was a job or not. So he should get on with it and enjoy himself.
As he stretched out on the bed, watching Doyle remove the last of his clothing, Bodie fought back more unwanted thoughts. What if he knew who I really was, who I really worked for and why I was here...he'd boot me right out. It startled him that he needed Doyle to want him for who he truly was. Why did it matter so much? He couldn't possibly be falling for the man this quickly, he couldn't be so attracted to him that it made a difference what Doyle thought or knew or didn't know...or could he?
"Hey." Doyle slid into bed alongside him. "You're looking a bit pensive, you know." He bent his head to Bodie's chest and planted a brief kiss on each nipple. "Not having second thoughts, are you?"
"No." He could hardly deny an interest in going on, not when he had become aroused merely by looking at the man. He sighed. "It's been a while..." He paused, not sure how to explain his feelings. Instead, he began lightly stroking Doyle's chest and abdomen, striving to bury his anxiety by focusing on pure, sensual pleasure.
"A while since what?" Doyle nibbled gently at an earlobe. "Since you've been with another bloke?"
"No." Bodie slid his hand along Doyle's inner thigh, teasingly near his balls but not quite touching. He rested it there. "It's been a long time since I cared about the person I was in bed with. Don't want to mess it up."
Doyle's roving mouth, having lapped and sucked at Bodie's neck and throat, found its way to his lips and effectively silenced him. It was a shorter kiss than the first had been, yet more demanding, and Bodie felt its heat spread through his body like fire. The sweet ache in his groin grew to a burning need.
"Ah--" He broke away, wanting a respite.
Doyle smiled. "If it helps any, it's been a while for me, too."
"Yeah?" Bodie smiled back.
"Yeah. Never felt quite so fond of someone so quickly before, either. It's makin' me a bit nervous. But all in all, I like it very much."
"So do I." As Bodie resumed his exploration of Doyle's body, another sliver of doubt pricked at the back of his mind, about what he was doing and why. He wanted Doyle so badly, wanted to love him so much, and yet he knew he shouldn't be getting emotionally involved, that he should keep his distance. If he didn't, they would both be hurt when the truth came out.
Doyle moved with him, his hard cock thrusting against his belly. At that moment, Bodie fervently wished he had never heard of CI5... He shut his eyes and moaned.
"Feel good, does it?" Doyle whispered in his ear.
"Oh, God..." It felt incredible--everything Doyle did, every place he touched him, felt incredible--but the feeling was tinged with a bitter longing. If only it were real...if only it were really me and him, and nothing more...
Doyle's hand wrapped around Bodie's cock, and sure, strong fingers stroked him. "Want me to suck you, lover?"
Jesus... He found Doyle's mouth, took him in a bruising kiss, then pushed his head downwards. "Yes...please...yes."
Those beautiful lips settled around the head of his cock, teasing, sucking, pulling away and darting back again. Bodie wove his fingers into Doyle's thick curls, tugging gently to encourage his efforts. "More--I need more--"
Doyle obliged, taking his cock in, his mouth warm and welcoming. Bodie thrust further into him, the tightening within his groin driving him on, aching for release. Doyle worked on him, sucking vigorously and expertly, hands caressing, urging them both into a more frenzied rhythm. All doubts fled as Bodie was overwhelmed by sensation, his body taking charge, demanding, pushing him into a haze of pure need.
And then he was over the edge, the rush of orgasm blazing through him. He jerked, spilling his seed into Doyle's eager mouth, his hands gripping Doyle's shoulders, digging into his flesh as he came. So good, so good... It was his only coherent thought.
He came down slowly, fighting the return to reality. But he had no choice. He could hardly lay there indulging in blissful contentment, ignoring Doyle's urgent movements, his silent plea for satisfaction.
Bodie reached for him, touched the gloriously hard shaft. "You want the same? Hm?"
Doyle nodded. "I'm close...want your mouth--"
Bodie obeyed, taking him in, lavishing his tongue on the head before avidly sucking the length of his cock. He savored the feel of it, thick and hard, gliding into his throat, pulsating with desire.
"Oh God... Bodie--"
Doyle pushed against him, thrusting deep, and Bodie gasped as warm spurts of semen pumped into him. He swallowed quickly, hungrily, taking all Doyle had to give.
When Doyle was spent, Bodie drew away, leaving a trail of kisses as he went. "Mmm...you taste wonderful." He ran his tongue around his lips, catching a last drop or two. Then he took Doyle's mouth with his, taking his time, relishing the warmth he found within.
"Oh, yeah..." Doyle lavished Bodie's whole face with kisses. "That was incredible." He wrapped his arms round him. "Can we make a habit of it?"
With that one, simple request, all of Bodie's joy evaporated. No, he thought, we can't. 'Cause I'm not what you think I am. Try as he might, he couldn't hold back the pain he felt, nor could he hold in a long, ache-filled sigh.
Doyle's embrace loosened, and Bodie could sense the tension increase between them. "What is it?"
"Come on, don't give me that. Something's wrong." Doyle slid farther away from him. "Are you trying to tell me this is just a one-night stand?" His tone was rich with disappointment.
"No." Bodie pulled him back close, into his arms. "I'm sorry. It's something else. I can't explain it. It's just--" He sighed again, hating himself for every deception.
"Just what? Someone else? Are you in a relationship?"
Bodie shook his head. "Nothing like that." He hugged Doyle to him, wanting simply to hold him, and to love freely, without complications. But how could he explain his reluctance without giving himself away? He opted to make use of his cover role. "It's my job. I don't like thinking about it, not here, not now. Can't help it, though. You see, I've got this image, macho, tough. It's what the sports club likes to see. Gives the poor slobs who work out there something to aim for." He smiled, trying to defuse it all with lightheartedness. "You know, work out long enough and hard enough, and you, too, can look just like Mr. Bodie there, and pull the birds he pulls. So if they found out that I was spending my nights with you--"
"--you'd be out of a job," Doyle finished. He relaxed into Bodie's hold. "Yeah, I can see that would be a problem. Doesn't usually matter much in the art world."
"Shouldn't let it bother me," Bodie replied. "I mean, what difference does it make what I do in my off time? 'Sides, it's only a part-time job."
"So does that mean you do want to make a habit of this?" Doyle asked.
"Oh, yeah, I do indeed. I'm very fond of you." That part, at least, was true.
"Me, too." Doyle's voice sounded sleepy. "I mean, I'm fond of you, too."
"Figured that bit out, actually." Bodie tucked the covers around them and snuggled into his pillow. "It'll all work out." He said it with an optimism he didn't believe for one moment. "Sweet dreams, sunshine."
He didn't get an answer; Doyle had fallen asleep.
Bodie awoke first the next morning, and he lay there a long time, listening to Doyle's steady breathing and wondering again just what the hell he was getting himself into. He wasn't used to this. Why had he formed such strong feelings for Doyle on such short acquaintance? There was something about the man, something beyond his incredible aura of sensuality, something deeper that pulled Bodie towards him. He didn't know how to put it into words. He only knew that he suddenly felt a need, stronger than he'd ever known, to truly connect with someone, and not merely go through the motions and then walk away. And Ray Doyle had somehow brought that need to the surface.
Bodie loved to believe he was self-contained; he wasn't used to the idea of giving of himself to others. The need to connect was strong, but so was the pattern he had followed all his life, pulling him away even as he yearned to fall. And surely it would be mad to fall for Doyle, especially after knowing him barely one day. What kind of fool was he?
The lonely kind, Bodie answered himself. He gazed at the man beside him, face framed by auburn curls. It was all wrong. Don't get involved. Not just a CI5 injunction, but a lifelong habit. Besides, even if he did want to find someone to fall in love with, a suspect in a blackmail case was hardly the sanest choice. He sighed, tired of thinking about it, tired of feeling pulled in too many directions at once. Let whatever happens happen, he thought.
Doyle stirred briefly, moaned softly, then resettled into sleep. Bodie watched him for a little longer, then carefully got up without disturbing him and headed for the bath.
He quickly took care of the morning necessities, then had a shower. When he emerged from the steaming stall, he heard a light tapping on the bath door. Donning a towelling robe, he opened it to find a completely naked Ray Doyle there. Bodie smiled. "You look good that way. Need the bath, do you?"
Doyle ran his hands through tousled curls. "Wouldn't mind a shower."
"It's all yours, mate. There's another robe on the back of the door, help yourself. I'll just go get coffee started, okay?"
"Mm-hm," Doyle murmured. He slipped past Bodie into the bathroom, pausing to plant a casual kiss on his cheek in passing.
He closed the door and Bodie found himself standing in the hallway, contentment filling him anew, his anxieties temporarily dislodged by the mere presence of Ray Doyle.
He trotted to the bedroom to throw on trousers and a poloneck, then went into the kitchen to start on breakfast. His usual pattern upon waking up with a near-stranger in his bed was to feel nervous, and to want nothing more than to get rid of the invader as rapidly as possible so he could return to his cherished privacy. But this time he felt no sense of unease; rather, he was enjoying having Doyle in his flat, liked looking at him, listening to him. Doyle was unobtrusive; he was easy and comfortable to be around. Definitely someone Bodie could get used to. But it was pointless to get his hopes up when he didn't even know yet whether Doyle was involved in the blackmail case. If he was... Bodie didn't want to think about that possibility.
The coffee was ready and he had begun cooking the eggs when Doyle padded into the kitchen, hair damp from his shower. "Smells terrific." He grabbed the mug Bodie indicated, and drank deeply. "What time is it?"
"'Bout half past eight. You want some toast?"
"Please. I'd better get dressed while you finish. Got a class to teach at ten."
Bodie sighed. "Yeah, that's when I need to be at the sports club. Where's your class?"
"Can give you a ride if you like, it's on my way." Bodie wanted very much for Doyle to say yes. "And I can pick you up afterwards." He tensed, waiting for Doyle's response, knowing that agreement would mean Doyle still wanted the relationship to continue.
Doyle didn't hesitate. "Yeah, sounds good to me."
Inwardly, Bodie heaved a sigh of relief. "When's your class done?"
"Perfect." Bodie grinned. "You want me to model for you again this afternoon?" He quite enjoyed having Doyle draw him.
"Mmm." Doyle gave him an appraising look. "That might be nice. Can think of a few interesting poses for you to take."
"I'll bet you can." Bodie moved in closer, held him by the shoulders, and kissed him on the mouth, long and deeply. Then he pulled away. "Go on, get dressed before I burn your breakfast."
Doyle dutifully headed off, stopping in the entrance way. "Um...have you got any clean pants I might borrow?"
"Yeah. Top left-hand drawer."
Doyle left, and it was a few moments later that Bodie suddenly remembered where he had hidden his gun in this flat. Damn. He started after Doyle, then realized it was probably too late, he would have found it by now in the drawer. Okay, so how should he play it? Nonchalant? After all, Doyle knew he worked at a sports club, and that he was ex-Army. Why shouldn't he have a gun? Yes, that would be best, totally casual, as if it were the most ordinary possession in the world. And then hope that Doyle didn't get worked up about it.
By the time he had breakfast ready and on the table, Doyle had come back into the kitchen, fully dressed. They refilled their coffee mugs and sat down to eat. Bodie waited for Doyle to ask about the gun, and the question wasn't long in coming.
"Thanks for the loan," Doyle said between bites of toast. "I'll try not to do anything unseemly in 'em."
"Well, if you do, I'd prefer to be present," Bodie replied.
Doyle gave him a soft, sensual smile. Then his expression turned more serious. "Can I ask you something?"
Here it comes, Bodie thought. "Sure, anything."
"Why have you got a gun? Sorry, I wasn't snooping. Just couldn't help noticing it in there."
Bodie shrugged. "'s okay. I only keep it about for practice. Got it when I was in the Army. Own a couple of rifles, too. I like to go out to the range once in a while, do some target shooting." He kept eating, keeping up the nonchalant facade. Inside he felt queasy, waiting for Doyle to tell him he hated guns, couldn't handle being around someone who liked them. After all, Doyle's father had been killed by one. Bodie didn't want their new-found friendship to end, not on something so stupid.
When Doyle did respond, what he said utterly surprised Bodie. Calmly slapping marmalade on a slice of toast, Doyle said, "Can I go with you sometime?"
Bodie stared at him. "To the range?" he asked. "You want to go shooting? But I thought--" He stopped, inwardly chastising himself for leaping to conclusions, and glad at Doyle's acceptance.
Doyle looked up. "You thought what?"
Bodie took a quick swallow of coffee. "Well, I thought, since your father was killed with a gun, maybe you'd object."
"Nah." Doyle shook his head vigorously. "Not any more, anyway. My dad taught me how to shoot when I was ten. We used to go out together a lot. I enjoyed it, got quite good at it. Then after he was shot...yeah, I hated guns for a long time, didn't ever want to set eyes on one again. But I finally realized it was the person holding the gun, not the weapon itself. I mean, if my father had been armed, it might never have happened." He waved a forkful of egg at Bodie. "It's absurd to arm the criminals and not the cops. Right?"
"I'd agree with that," Bodie replied. He was more than pleased at Doyle's sensible attitude. "And I'd love to take you out to the range. We'll fix it up some weekend."
Doyle studied the ceiling, as if his personal appointment calendar were writ on the tiles. He frowned. "Usually hit galleries on Saturdays, but Sundays might work."
"That'll be fine." Bodie reluctantly remembered that he was supposed to be investigating not only Doyle, but his friends as well. Might be a good idea to find out more about these fellow artists. "Can I come to the galleries with you?"
"Sure." Doyle grinned. "Art on Saturday, shooting on Sunday, that's a well-rounded weekend, isn't it?"
"Well, I can think of one other activity that would fill it out even more."
Doyle rolled his eyes. "Anybody ever tell you that you've got sex on the brain?"
"Frequently," Bodie said. He turned more serious, not wanting Doyle to think sex was all he wanted from him. He reached across the table to touch Doyle's arm. "It's not really that important, though. I just like being with you, no matter what we're doing." He hesitated. On the other hand, he didn't want to risk scaring Doyle off with too much too soon, with any kind of demands for commitment or exclusivity. It was plain from Doyle's file that he liked to play the field, had had many lovers in the past, that he didn't form long relationships. "Sorry, don't mean to come over all possessive."
"No, it's okay." Doyle lay a hand on top of Bodie's. "Found myself feeling very affectionate towards you last night. Before we went to bed. Haven't felt that way about anyone in a long time. Feels odd, but it's nice." He squeezed Bodie's hand. "Wouldn't call it possessive. We're just... good together."
Bodie let out a sigh, wishing he could call Cowley right then and there and tell him to go stuff this damn op. But he didn't feel like being unemployed, either. "Yeah," he replied softly. "We're good together. And I like the feeling, too." He quietly returned to his breakfast, thinking unpleasant thoughts about CI5, KGB agents, and blackmail rings, and wishing he could think about anything else instead.
Two weeks went by, two weeks in which Bodie spent nearly every spare hour with Doyle. Supposedly, he was investigating Doyle's background and his friends; in reality, he was having a great time.
He kept Cowley at bay by reporting in regularly that "things were moving along", and that he was waiting for someone to make a suspicious move. If the Russian agents were planning to set up another badger job, then they would need another easily-bribed model. Bodie put it about to Doyle and Carla that his sporting life included gambling, and that he was frequently in the red because of it. His hope was that this would make him a possible target, and whoever the KGB's go-between was, he or she would suggest him for the next blackmailing assignment.
It couldn't, of course, be Doyle. Bodie found it difficult to believe that Doyle could do anything criminal. Besides, he was too busy falling in love with Bodie. And it was rapidly becoming mutual.
As for Carla, well, he could all too easily believe that she was the one they were after. He had run into her on a number of occasions at the studio and found her brash, argumentative, controlling, and egotistical. It was also obvious that she loved money; her clothes came from designer boutiques, and her excessive jewelry was far from costume. He hadn't seen her and Doyle's flat yet--Doyle preferred to stay at Bodie's--but no doubt it was full of overpriced furnishings. Bodie was glad they had stayed away from the place. As long as Carla was there, he wanted nothing to do with it.
At the same time, he had to pretend to be pleasant to her. If she were the go-between, then he might wind up working for her on the badger job. Not a pleasant thought; he hoped it wouldn't come to that.
Cowley had put a team on Dimitrov and Petrovna, keeping them under close surveillance. So far nothing of interest had materialized, but Bodie hoped that something would happen to break the case open on the KGB end and not on his. That would make his life a hell of a lot easier.
In the meantime, he fell into a routine of "going to work" in the mornings, which really meant going to HQ and doing busy-work until early afternoon, when he turned up at Doyle's studio for modelling. In the evenings they went out for dinner and drinks, sometimes to a movie, or more often, a good film on the box at home. Doyle enjoyed jogging and squash, as well as a good pub darts game, and Bodie happily indulged him in all his interests. They attended a few gallery openings, and they spent some of their late afternoons at the Tate, where Doyle whiled away hours looking over the Pre-Raphaelite collection, educating Bodie along the way.
Yet, though he was having the most wonderful time of his life, Bodie was also having the most frustrating. He was definitely falling in love, and with someone with whom he was living a lie. The thought haunted him daily, keeping him from giving himself completely to Doyle. Sometimes he caught a little frown of puzzlement on his lover's face and knew its cause. Doyle couldn't understand why he was holding back. And Bodie wished he didn't have to go on deceiving him.
Now, at the end of their second week together, he and Doyle had set out on a warm Saturday evening to take in a number of gallery openings. Late into the evening, he found himself staring moodily at a painting, a painting which abruptly reminded him that he was not supposed to be having a good time. He was supposed to be working.
Bodie recognized the face of Heather Stone instantly, though he supposed the intent of the painting was to focus on her nude figure. The artist had, however, caught the girl's features perfectly, and made the flat file photo he had seen earlier come alive. Ironic, he thought, considering Heather was now quite dead.
He bent down to read the card beside the painting. Carla Phillips. She was damn good.
The gallery was showing the works of three artists: Carla, Jack Freeman--the friend whose work Doyle had come to see--and a third man Doyle didn't know. The artists were all present at this opening. Champagne and hors d'oeuvres were free for the taking, and Bodie was definitely taking. This was the third gallery they had been to that day; they had started making the rounds at three in the afternoon and it was now past eight, each gallery visit requiring lots of chatting with Doyle's friends and fellow artists. Bodie found it all a bit wearing, though he did enjoy looking at the paintings and sculptures. Most were of a more realistic nature, a far cry from the abstract work which seemed so popular these days and which never made any sense to him. At least Doyle's artist friends could draw and paint people who actually looked like human beings.
"Oi," a familiar voice said behind him, "I shouldn't linger there if I were you."
Bodie turned to see Doyle proffering a plate of canapes. He'd only just disposed of his fifth plate at this particular gallery, but had no qualms about consuming a sixth. He took it gratefully, and managed to get a passing champagne server to refill his glass as well. "Good food at these things," he observed. "I'm not missing me supper."
"One of the few advantages to being a struggling artist," Doyle replied.
Bodie turned back to the painting. "Why shouldn't I be standing here? It's very good."
"I know," Doyle said, "but it's by Carla, and if she spies you admiring her work, she'll try to talk to you."
"Ah. And that's bad?"
Doyle nodded. "Disastrous. Next thing she'll want you to meet all her friends, and then she'll invite you to one of her horrendous parties."
"Well, that's not such a horrible thing, is it?" Bodie asked. "Might be the only chance I'll ever get to see your legendary flat."
Doyle's reluctance to take Bodie home to his own place stemmed, so he said, solely from a desire for privacy. Carla spent nearly every night at home, usually with one or more friends over, often with full-blown parties. As far as Bodie knew, Doyle hadn't set foot in his own flat in two weeks, except to grab a bag full of clothes.
"Oh, you curious about how I really live, are you?" Doyle said. He sidled close to Bodie, their shoulders brushing. "I can't let you in there, you see, 'cause I've got this 'orrible secret." He gazed about them, then whispered in Bodie's ear, "Teddy bears. Got three hundred of 'em in the place."
Bodie laughed. "What are their names, then?"
"Rufus," Doyle replied.
"And what else?"
"That's it." Doyle swayed a bit, and Bodie realized his lover was quite tipsy. "They're all called Rufus, every single one."
"I see." Bodie was bemused by Doyle's drunkenness. Champagne made him cheerfully silly. "And how many bears did you say you had?"
Doyle frowned. "Four hundred."
"Wow. Must be tough finding room for 'em."
"Nah," Doyle replied, waving his arm grandly about the gallery. "Keep 'em in the cupboard."
Bodie feigned a shocked expression. "What, closed up in the dark? Why, that's downright inhumane, that is."
"Right. And that's why I can't have anyone over. Might get reported to the ACTBA."
As Bodie was considering the acronym, coming up eventually with the Anti-Cruelty To Bears Association, Doyle deftly ate half the canapes on the plate he'd just handed over. Bodie finally noticed the on-going campaign against his food and whipped the plate away. "Thought you got these for me."
"I did." Doyle poked a finger at Bodie's ribs. "Wouldn't want you over-eating, though, would we?" He abruptly sobered. "Hang on, we're in for it, now."
"Hm?" Bodie followed his gaze, and saw Carla sweeping towards them. "Oh, it's okay, mate. I can handle her."
"Yeah?" Doyle looked distinctly disbelieving. "This I've got to see."
Carla Phillips was dressed in an extremely low-cut, slinky red dress which set off her pale skin and jet black hair nicely. Under other circumstances, Bodie would have found her attractive. But as it was, he merely considered her an impediment to Doyle's contentment. Wherever Carla was, Doyle was unhappy, and that made her less than attractive to Bodie.
"Well," she said as she slid up to them, gesturing at her painting. "What do you think?" The question was directed at Bodie.
"It's excellent," he replied honestly. Then, switching into work mode, he opted to dig for more information on Heather Stone. "She's a very beautiful girl. Tell me, do the models ever come to these openings? It would be fun to compare the reality with the illusion."
Carla glanced at Doyle, then shook her head. "No, not many do."
"What's her name?"
"Heather." Carla looked at Doyle again. "I'm afraid..." She took a deep breath, let it out slowly. "Heather died recently. An accident."
"Oh, my God." Bodie stared at the painting, putting on his best shocked expression. "How terrible. Such a beautiful girl. I'm so sorry. Did you know her well?"
"No," Carla said, much too quickly for Bodie's liking. "Ray used her as a model more than I did."
Bodie looked at Doyle, who was busy studying the contents of his champagne class. "Ray? Are you okay?"
"Yeah, sure." He drank off the rest of his drink. "Stupid waste." He hiccupped. "'scuse me." He took another look at the painting, then tugged at Bodie's sleeve. "Come on, let's see something different."
The three of them moved along to the next piece, another nude figure by Carla, this time of a young black man. Bodie was glad it wasn't Patrick Winter, the other dead model. "That's quite good, too," he said. "You're very talented, Ms. Phillips."
"Carla," she replied. She moved in closer to him, and lowered her voice. "You've managed to snare Ray, haven't you? Pity. I don't think he deserves you."
"Perhaps I should be the judge of that," Bodie said coldly.
"Oh, it's like that, is it? Well, let me give you a little warning, strictly for your own good. Ray is flighty, never sticks to one lover long. One week you believe he'll love you forever, and the next week, bam, you're out the door. You'll be lucky to get so much as a 'goodbye'."
Bodie wondered if Doyle had ever said "goodbye" to Carla. Had they been lovers once? It would certainly explain their animosity, which seemed to go beyond the simple inconveniences of their shared flat. "You don't like Ray, do you?"
"No," she said simply, "I don't. But I guess you'll have to learn the hard way."
"What's that?" Doyle, who had been engrossed in a study of the nude figure on the wall, turned towards them. "What's part way?"
"Nothing," Bodie said, moving close to him. "Is this the last show we're going to? 'Cause I've had enough." He finished off the rest of his champagne. "And I know you've had enough, too." He took Doyle's glass away. "Can we go home now?"
"Home? Your home?" Doyle squinted at Carla. "Oh, you're still here. You havin' any parties tonight? Wanted to show Bodie that I've really got a flat of me own."
"As a matter of fact," she replied, "I was meaning to tell you that I'm off to Gerald's tonight, and then we're going to the country for a few days. You can have the wretched flat to yourself until Wednesday." She glared at Bodie. "Do have a good time." She strolled off, leaving them blessedly alone.
Bodie let out a relieved sigh. "Good riddance. Does that mean we can go home to your place for once? You got any food in?" He wasn't hungry now, but there was breakfast to consider. Contingency planning was his forte.
Doyle pursed his lips. "Don't know. Probably need to restock if Carla's been having parties lately." He gazed around abstractedly. "You took my drink away."
"Got it in one." Bodie deposited both glasses and his hors d'oeuvre plate on a nearby table. "I've got plans for tonight, and they'll work a lot smoother if we're both a bit less sloshed. Come on, let's go see this teddy bear collection of yours." He steered Doyle towards the exit.
"My what?" Doyle replied.
Bodie just laughed, and pushed his lover out the door.
When Bodie entered Doyle's flat, it was dislike at first sight.
The high-ceilinged, stark white lounge had been decorated in a cold modern style with great impersonality. The pale gray, thin-cushioned, chrome-armed sofa and matching chairs looked as if they had never been sat on, at least, not in comfort. A glass-topped, steel-legged coffee table sported a silver ashtray and one oversized art book. Against one wall stood a sleek arrangement of black metal shelves which housed the TV and stereo; the other walls were broken up with an occasional painting, all nudes and all bearing Carla's florid signature. The only other spot of color in the room was provided by a few carefully placed Art Deco pillows. It was all very sleek, very spacious, and completely lacking in warmth.
Having spent a lot of his time moving from one place to another, without a fixed home for any great length of time, Bodie was used to living with a minimum of possessions. His various CI5 flats came furnished, and he merely added the few things which gave each place his personal stamp--his gun collection, favorite pictures, a few books. But even his easy-come, easy-go flats had a homier appeal than this place.
Worried about his new lover's tastes and secretly hoping the flat had been decorated by Carla, he followed Doyle into the kitchen, where he was greeted by more white walls and a steel dining table. Doyle fumbled about attempting to make coffee and made a mess instead.
"You're sloshed," Bodie observed, taking over the operation.
"So are you."
"Am not." Bodie felt tipsy, but he was a long ways from truly drunk. However, he decided to be generous in not letting Doyle feel at a disadvantage, so he deliberately spilled a few coffee grounds before getting the pot going.
Doyle looked suitably cheered. "See? Told you. We're both sloshed."
"Have it your way." Bodie pulled a nearly empty bottle of milk from the fridge. "Where d'you keep the mugs, then? And spoons?" He tried a random cabinet.
"No, no, I'll get everything." Doyle waved him away.
By the time Doyle stopped opening the wrong cabinets and drawers and stopped dropping things when he did find them, and finally had two unchipped mugs and clean spoons set out, the coffee was ready.
"I'll pour." Bodie did so before Doyle could protest, then carried their mugs into the living room.
"Don't like it in there," Doyle muttered. "Bloody uncomfortable. Come on, bedroom. This way." He careered down the hallway.
Fine by me. Bodie was relieved, on entering Doyle's bedroom, to find his suspicions confirmed. Carla had definitely been responsible for the rest of the flat. The contrast was striking. Doyle's large but cozy-looking room was furnished with a four-poster bed and a massively overstuffed armchair, an antique chest of drawers, small writing desk, nightstand, and overflowing bookcase. The walls were painted a warm peach hue, covered with what he guessed were nineteenth-century prints, all in old-fashioned frames. The pictures depicted literary and mythological themes, damsels rescued by knights; satyrs and nymphs frolicking in the woods. There were none of Doyle's own paintings on view. It had a cluttered, lived-in look that made Bodie feel instantly at home. He sank into the armchair, taking a long drink of his coffee.
Doyle sat on the bed. "Well, now you've seen my legendary flat."
"I take it your flatmate did the living room decor."
"Yeah." Doyle gazed wistfully about his crowded room. "Spend most of my time hidin' in here."
Bodie could see why. "It's nice in here. Comfortable. Totally different." He paused, considering how to phrase the question of Doyle and Carla's relationship. "Why did you two decide that sharing a flat would be a good idea? I mean, your tastes are so opposite."
"Oh, that's easy," Doyle replied. "I wanted to get her in my bed."
Ah, Bodie thought, got it in one. "And did you?" he asked bluntly.
Doyle shook his head. "Nah. Too snooty by half, 's Carla. Only likes to sleep with rich businessmen and anyone else in a three-piece suit. Always looking for a way to better her finances without working, if you know what I mean." He didn't sound too disappointed at his failure to bed her.
"Well, if you want my opinion," Bodie said, "she doesn't deserve anyone as good as you."
"Oh, yeah?" Doyle smiled softly. "And you do, eh?"
"Absolutely." Bodie finished his coffee, set the mug aside, and joined Doyle on the bed.
They undressed and started to make love, easy with each other after a fortnight of steady practice. It hadn't taken Bodie long to figure out what Doyle liked, and Doyle had proven equally adept at learning Bodie's preferences. They moved well together, their bodies fit comfortably together.
Tonight Bodie felt more relaxed than ever; the champagne helped erase his usual doubts. Doyle, too, seemed free and loose, entirely affectionate in his drunkenness.
And entirely randy. Bodie got him going with barely a touch, and he couldn't help chuckling at his lover's eagerness.
"What's so funny?" Doyle murmured.
"Everything," Bodie replied happily. "What do you fancy doing, then?"
"Hm. Don't care." Doyle shifted about, turning onto his stomach. "Haven't got any energy left to do anything but lie here. So if you don't mind..." He casually drew up one leg, presenting Bodie with a perfectly enticing sight.
"Lazy bum," Bodie said, unable to resist.
Doyle laughed. "Go on. Stop making 'orrible puns and get on with it."
"Only if you promise to do your bit." Bodie knelt between Doyle's splayed thighs, lowering himself to meet that lovely rear. "I'm not havin' you lie there senseless. Gotta meet me halfway, mate."
"Might manage that. Just 'urry up, okay?"
"Oi, hang on." Bodie wasn't so tipsy as to forget the essentials. "Got any lube handy?"
Bodie retrieved the lube. "Wouldn't want to do you an injury." He rubbed some on his cock, then, dispensing with any further preparation, he guided the head into the ready opening.
"Ah..." Doyle's soft moans urged him on. And then Doyle pushed backward, taking in more of him.
The pressure tightened around Bodie's cock, increasing with every thrust, and together they found a building rhythm. He felt an intense heat rolling in waves through his belly, merged with a quivering, all-over vibration which he never wanted to end. He tried desperately to keep from going over the edge, struggling to hold the delicate balance between being nearly there, but not quite.
But then Doyle jerked beneath him, letting out an ecstatic cry, and Doyle was coming. The knowledge drove Bodie to push harder and faster into him, since it would make Doyle's pleasure stronger still. He heard Doyle's cries demanding more of him. And then Bodie was there as well, climaxing, sending his seed into Doyle in long-delayed release. Over...it was over, and he mourned the loss of that intense build-up, while still revelling in its inevitable ending.
He slid out, collapsing in a sprawl beside Doyle, who turned his head towards him, smiling.
"You wanna know something?" Doyle asked.
He kissed Bodie's nose. "I love you." He wriggled closer, nestling his head on Bodie's shoulder, arm draped across his waist.
"Oh..." Bodie felt dumbstruck. Neither of them had said it yet, unwilling to take the risk. Though they had both known it was happening, couldn't stop it happening for anything in the world. Still, he hadn't expected Doyle to voice such a sentiment so soon. But there it was, in the open. He couldn't deny that he wanted to hear it, and he couldn't withhold his response.
"I love you, too," he said, kissing Doyle's forehead.
It wasn't until a long time later, long after Doyle had fallen asleep in his arms, that Bodie realized he had, for the first time, made love to him without once giving thought to the op or to his deception. He had finally been able to give himself fully to Doyle, no holding back, no doubts to spoil it.
If only it could always be that way...
Someday, he swore, it would be.
The next morning Bodie reluctantly realized that Cowley would no doubt reassign him to the Hebrides if he didn't take advantage of the opportunity presented by being in Doyle's flat. He would have to search the place. After last night's declarations, which were entirely heartfelt on his part, a renewed sense of guilt washed over him at the need for lies. The last thing he wanted to do was spy on his lover.
But longstanding loyalty to CI5 held sway over his emotions, as well as a strong distaste for what the two KGB agents were doing. Sexual blackmail ranked very high on his personal list of reprehensible crimes, to trick someone into loving another person only to destroy them. Bodie frowned. What was he doing to Doyle, then? Not tricking him into anything. It was far different. He had withheld the truth about investigating Doyle, but he hadn't lied when he'd said he loved him. Bodie only hoped that when the truth inevitably came out, Doyle wouldn't kick him out of his life forever.
Sighing, he set about planning his spying campaign. It wasn't difficult. All he needed was an excuse to stay in bed, then hope Doyle would need to go out at some point. The answer was simple. He would develop a debilitating hangover.
As Doyle stirred to wakefulness, Bodie went into action, holding his head and moaning, taking care not to overdo it.
Doyle sat up, rubbing his eyes. "Hey, you okay?"
Bodie groaned. "Feel like shit."
"Too much champagne?"
"Yeah. Don't usually feel it straight away. Always hits me later, when I'm least expectin' it." He let out another convincing moan and curled up onto his side. "Sorry."
He felt Doyle shift closer, then a strong arm wrapped gently around him. "Not your fault. I'm the one who dragged you to all those bloody galleries." Doyle leaned over to kiss his forehead. "Can I get you something?"
"Uh-huh. A new body."
"Can't. I'm too fond of the one you've got." Doyle moved away and got up. "How 'bout a nice hot cuppa?"
Bodie mumbled his assent before burying his head in the pillow.
The plan worked out beautifully. After his cup of tea and some more random moaning, Bodie capitulated to Doyle's suggestion that he stay in bed for the rest of the morning. Bodie promised to be better by afternoon so they could still make it out to the shooting range for their Sunday practice. As he had hoped, Doyle confessed he had errands to run--food, laundry, newspaper--and would Bodie mind awfully being left on his own?
"No, I don't mind," Bodie said as he closed his eyes and leaned back against the pillows Doyle had propped up behind him. "You go on. Prefer to recover on my own, actually." Then, in order not to sound too eager to be rid of his lover, he added, "When will you be back?"
"Oh, about lunch time. We can eat in if you like, I'm getting groceries. You want anything special?"
"Chicken soup," Bodie mumbled.
"Right." Doyle shrugged into his jacket. "I haven't got a spare set of keys, so if you start feeling better, don't wander out of the flat, okay?"
"Trust me," Bodie said wearily, "for the next few hours, you couldn't get me to move for love or money." He glanced up at Doyle and winked. "Or even sex."
Doyle shook his head sadly. "Such a waste." He smiled, then walked out of the room.
Bodie gave it half an hour or so, in case Doyle forgot anything and made a sudden reappearance. When he deemed it safe, he leapt from the bed, quickly dressed, and began a thorough search of the flat.
It didn't take him long to dismiss the unimportant items--bills, check receipts, gallery show adverts--and to find the one thing he didn't really want to find.
The notebook was hidden in a false compartment within the stereo cabinet, a simple spot to locate if you were trained in what to look for. The small black book contained a list of dates and initials, all within the past six months. The initials which stood out were PW and HS. PW, Patrick Winter. The last date beside his initials was the date of his death, and the same held true for Heather Stone. The KGB's go-between had been found.
But who? Doyle? Or Carla? The living room decor had all been Carla's. Would Doyle risk hiding anything there? He might, if only to push suspicion off himself. Bodie desperately wanted to believe otherwise.
Handwriting. Could he tell by that? The list was neatly printed, and while he'd seen, during his search, snatches of both Doyle and Carla's cursive writing, he hadn't found any samples of simple printing, which could be quite different. An expert might sort it out, though.
He checked his watch. Just gone nine. HQ was not far away. Bodie decided he had plenty of time to run over there with the notebook and whatever examples of Doyle and Carla's handwriting he could find, have it all photographed, and return the originals long before Doyle returned. Then CI5's handwriting expert could go to work on it.
Fifteen minutes later, after gathering up a small pile of check receipts, he headed out. He checked the door lock as he left. Easy enough to break back in with a little help from his credit card. He'd have to have a word with Doyle about the flat's security.
He shut the door, making sure it was locked, and went downstairs. He paused outside to scan the street before heading off to his car.
Bodie returned an hour later, mission accomplished. Copies of the documents had been made and left with the CI5 technicians, and the originals were safely tucked inside his jacket pocket, ready to put back. No one would ever know they'd been gone.
Feeling confident, he reached Doyle's door, took out his credit card, and went to work on the lock.
A minute later he succeeded, and strode through into the living room.
Where he came face to face with a very angry looking Ray Doyle.
"Nice trick, that. They teach you how to break and enter in the army, did they?"
Doyle leaned against the wall by the stereo, his arms crossed. Bodie had pulled the heavy shelves out a ways during his search, intending to shove it back when he returned the notebook to its hiding spot. Not a good idea on reflection, but there was little he could do about it now.
How much had Doyle figured out, that was what he needed to know. A lot, by the furious look in his eyes.
"Sorry," Bodie mumbled, "I, um, felt like getting some fresh air."
"Fresh air," Doyle repeated tonelessly.
"Yeah." Bodie bit his lower lip as a wrenching sensation twisted through his gut. Doyle knew.
"Remarkable recovery you made. When I left here, you looked like death warmed over." Doyle paused. "Imagine my surprise when, only an hour later, I saw you come bounding out of the flat building looking quite chipper."
Where the hell had Doyle been? "Spying on me, were you?" Maybe he could turn the tables on him.
"Oh, that's rich. Other way round, isn't it?" Doyle uncrossed his arms and put his hands on his hips. "I happened to be getting a paper at the newsagent's across the way. And saw you coming out. Seemed very odd, considerin' your state of ill health. And then you took off, a bit too briskly, towards your car. Made me extremely curious, that did."
Bodie swallowed hard, a sinking feeling inside. "Did you follow me?"
"Damn right I did." Doyle crossed the room, stopping within inches of him. "Got in my car, followed you all the way to that unmarked building near Whitehall."
"Man at the door wouldn't let me in," Doyle went on. "Said it was government offices, public not allowed. Refused to be more specific. So I gave up and came home."
A flicker of hope passed through Bodie. Maybe he didn't know too much.
"Where I rang up an old mate of my dad's."
The hope died.
"This mate still works for the Met, you see. Detective-Sergeant. We keep in touch, on account of my father. So I asked him if he knew what was housed in that building. You know what he told me?"
Well, Bodie thought bitterly, there was little point in denying anything now. Doyle had been a persistent and clever snoop; he would have made an excellent agent. He remained silent, waiting for the final blow.
Doyle punctuated his reply with vicious jabs to Bodie's chest. "C-I-fucking-five. That's what he told me!"
"No!" Doyle shoved him against the door. "I don't want any more goddamn lies! I want the truth. This whole set-up, the modelling, the sports club, christ, I really fell for it all the way, didn't I?" He spun away, breathing hard.
Bodie stayed sunk against the door frame. It was over, everything was over. He'd done the damn job for Cowley, but he'd lost Doyle. "Let me explain. Please."
"Get out." Doyle didn't turn around.
"No." Bodie straightened, came towards him. He wasn't going down without a fight. "Yeah, okay, I lied. But not about everything." He grabbed Doyle's shoulders and turned him. "Face me, dammit."
Doyle batted his hands away. "Leave me alone."
"Look, I never lied about loving you."
"Oh, christ." Doyle took a deep breath, then walked into the kitchen. He yanked open a cabinet, pulled out a bottle of scotch and a glass, and poured out a shot. He downed it in one go. Then he leaned forward with both hands gripping the worktop, head bent.
Bodie ventured no further than the kitchen entrance way. "Ray--"
"Why?" Doyle didn't look at him, didn't raise his head. "Just tell me why." He choked back a sob, and the sound tore into Bodie's heart. He had hurt Doyle, hurt him badly.
Bodie rubbed a hand over his face. He had to try to explain. Cowley would kill him. There was no way in hell, no matter how sure he was of Doyle's innocence, that he should reveal the details of the case. For one thing, he could be wrong. If Doyle were involved...he shook his head. If that were the case, then he truly had lost everything, and one more cock-up hardly mattered.
"We're trying to find a blackmail ring," he said, carefully watching Doyle's face. He decided that mentioning the KGB wasn't necessary at this point. "These people--" He paused. "No, these bastards--find young women, or young men, who have certain weaknesses, usually money or drugs. And they 'persuade' them to become 'friendly' with the target, usually a highly-placed government official. You can guess what follows. Photographs and recordings of the encounter, and suddenly you've got a few very nervous MPs. It's a nasty business."
Doyle looked up, the pain in his face changing to confusion. "But what's it got to do with me?"
"Nothing, I hope." Here came the hardest part. "We were trying to find the go-between. These bastards never deal directly with anyone if they can possibly help it. So we tried getting at them from the other end. Found out that the two people they'd most recently used as bait had something in common. They had both worked as artists' models."
Doyle stared at him, eyes widening. "Models I used?"
"Bloody hell." He turned back to the counter and poured himself another drink. His hands trembled. "And you actually thought I was involved with these creeps?" His voice was bitter. "That's mad. Lots of us use the same models." He drank the scotch and spun round again. "Why me, dammit?"
"Your expenses didn't match your income." Bodie wanted him to understand CI5's reasoning. "My boss wanted to find out why, what with barely making ends meet, you took a number of expensive holidays in the past six months." He shrugged, hoping a bit of nonchalance would make it go over easier. "And I was sent in to check things out. That's all."
Doyle slammed his glass on the worktop. "You were sent to screw me, you bastard!"
"That's not true!"
"No?" Doyle's breathing was ragged, his eyes shiny with held-back tears. "Why the nude modelling, then? Why the heavy come-on? Never knew CI5 was in the pimping business."
Bodie strove to control his anger. "Look, all right, it was an assignment. I admit that. But we had to know."
"Know what?" Doyle shouted. "Where I got my money? If you'd bothered to ask around, any of my friends could've told you. Or you might have dug into my bank records a bit. Or haven't you idiots ever heard of trust funds?"
Shit. They'd messed this whole thing up royally. "Large amount, is it?" He strove to sound calm. "Where'd it come from?"
"My uncle." Doyle briefly closed his eyes, and took a few deep breaths, obviously fighting for control. "Not that it's any of your damn business," he said, "but for your information, he'd borrowed money from my dad for an investment, shortly before my dad was killed. When he made good on it, mum and him decided to put the money away in a fund for me. Got control of it years ago, but never touched it. Was saving it for emergencies. But this past year I realized I hadn't been on holiday in nearly a decade, so I broke down and took some out." He rubbed a hand over his eyes, then shook his head. "Your employer has one hell of an imagination."
"It wasn't only you," Bodie replied softly. "All the artists in your circle were under suspicion."
"Oh, yeah?" Doyle smirked. "And when did you find time to sleep with the rest of them?"
The anger Bodie had been trying to suppress flared up. He stormed off to the living room, pacing fiercely, willing himself to stay in control.
Doyle emerged from the kitchen, and headed for the front door. "I've heard enough. Get out."
Bodie stopped pacing. "Dammit, I'm sorry for what I did, but I had to do it. Don't you see? These bastards are the lowest, most vicious, cruel--"
"Yeah," Doyle interrupted, "and it takes a bastard to catch a bastard. Is that the theory your boss operates under?"
Bodie couldn't believe he'd heard him say that. "For God's sake, Ray, I'm not like them."
"No? You're doing a damn good imitation. They used people, you used me. You lied to me. I fucking well fell in love with you--" He broke off to catch his breath, struggling against tears again. "And now I don't even know you. How many people have you used like this, Bodie? How different are you from these bastards you're after?"
Bodie swallowed hard, his anger dissolving into grief. There was no way to salvage this. Which didn't stop him from trying. He waled to the door, standing close to Doyle. "There's a big difference," he said quietly. "I'm not a murderer."
Doyle's eyebrows rose. "Murder?"
"That's right." Bodie kept his tone soft and low. "The last two models these creeps used were Heather Stone and Patrick Winter. And believe me, their deaths were far from accidental."
He thought he saw a flicker of doubt in Doyle's eyes, but then Doyle's expression hardened. "Why the hell should I believe anything you say?"
"I don't know," Bodie replied. He took a calming breath. "I really don't know. I'm sorry." He put his hand on the doorknob, then paused. "Just remember one thing. When I told you I loved you, that was the truth. That was me."
Doyle looked at him for a long, hard moment. "Only one problem with that," he finally said. "I don't know who the hell you are."
Bodie let out a pent-up breath. "Yeah. I guess not." Then he turned and walked away.
It didn't take long for Bodie to get drunk.
He went straight back to his temporary flat and, deciding Doyle had the right idea, found a bottle of scotch and set to work.
He sprawled on the sofa, glass in one hand, bottle in the other, refilling the glass often. All he really wanted was to achieve oblivion, and quickly. He'd known all along that the illusion of happiness with Doyle couldn't last, that somehow, sometime he would find out the truth. But Bodie hadn't expected the blow-up quite this soon. And he'd been hoping, in the back of his mind, that Doyle would forgive him, that he'd understand why it had to be done, that love would be a stronger force than anger. A nice little delusion to keep him going, that's what it had been. Doyle had more than anger to fight with, he had the hurt of betrayal. Even love couldn't battle so powerful a wound, not when they'd only been together such a short time. If only it had lasted longer.
Bodie closed his eyes, trying to shut out the pain. Damn Cowley, and damn CI5. He sure as hell was never going to agree to this kind of assignment again, that was one thing he planned to make more than clear to his boss. While he normally agreed with most of Cowley's methods, and even though he believed the end justified the means when it came to the sort of criminals they dealt with, there had to be a line somewhere. And he was going to draw it. For one thing, they didn't bloody well pay him enough to feel this bad.
Bodie sighed, opened his eyes, and filled up his glass again. Christ, how long had he known Doyle? Two weeks? And here he was falling apart over him. It wasn't like him to be this emotional, over anyone or anything. What the hell had gotten into him?
Loneliness. A need for someone in his life. But more than that. He'd never felt so drawn to another person before, never felt such a sense of wholeness as he did when he was with Ray. It was as if some missing element in his life which he hadn't been aware of, some deeply buried emptiness, had suddenly been filled. In the past, he had experienced fleeting moments of dread from time to time, usually late at night when all alone and unable to sleep, disturbing pangs of fear that he could never explain or understand. But they had vanished while he had been with Doyle.
Not any more. The emptiness had returned, stronger than before, and he strove to defeat it with his bottle of scotch. Not the healthiest reaction, but necessary. Otherwise he would likely be out roaming the streets, waiting for the pubs to open, so he could look for trouble, get rid of his anger by lashing out at some stranger. No, this way was better.
Making a deliberate decision to keep drinking until he passed out, Bodie got up and made his way to the bedroom, so he would at least be comfortable when the time came. He dispensed with the glass, and simply took the bottle to bed with him.
Bodie struggled back to consciousness late in the afternoon, and spent a few unpleasant hours dealing with his massive hangover. When he had finally managed to eat some food and felt marginally human again, he decided it might be a good idea to make an appearance at HQ.
It was nearly seven in the evening when he arrived, but Bodie was not surprised to find Cowley still in his office.
His boss looked up from the file he'd been studying. "Ah, there you are. I was just about to ring you."
"The analysis is done?" Bodie recognized the photocopies in the file. The handwriting expert must have finished his work on the notebook.
"Aye. No guarantee of one hundred percent accuracy, but it looks like our culprit is Carla Phillips, not Doyle." Cowley closed the file folder and steepled his fingers. "Did you suspect as much?"
"Yes, sir." Even after the fight, even knowing it wouldn't save their relationship now, this news came as a huge relief to him. Doyle was innocent. He had known it couldn't be otherwise, yet he needed the confirmation. He still loved Ray Doyle, and it meant a great deal to him that Doyle was no longer under suspicion. "Yesterday Carla told Doyle she was going to visit a friend named Gerald. Didn't get a last name."
"Perhaps you could call Doyle," Cowley suggested. "He might know the fellow's name."
Bodie frowned. He wasn't looking forward to explaining the situation. "I'm afraid we had a disagreement this morning."
"Oh?" Cowley studied him for a moment. "What sort of disagreement?"
"Well, to put it simply, Doyle found out that I had been spying on him." Bodie didn't feel it necessary to give out the details. After all, it hardly spoke well of his abilities as an agent to get caught out by a rank amateur. "I don't think he knew about the notebook, though. He didn't mention it, didn't complain about it being missing. He only knew that I'd gone through his things."
"He caught you out," Cowley said, displeasure evident in his voice.
"You used to be one of my best."
Bodie looked down at his feet. "Sorry, sir." He absently patted his jacket pocket, where the small black notebook still lay. He had never gotten a chance to return it to its hiding spot. "Sir, I'd prefer it if someone else went after Ms. Phillips. I want out of this assignment." He looked up, meeting Cowley's gaze. "It's over, as far as I'm concerned."
"Nothing is over until I say so," Cowley snapped.
"Wrong." Bodie's regret at having been caught spying evaporated in a flash of anger. "It's over. I'm sick of being used by you!"
"Used?" Cowley's eyebrows shot up. "You know perfectly well the reasons behind my actions, have known since the day you signed on."
"Oh, yeah," Bodie interrupted, voice laced with bitterness. "I remember. You would never have sullied your hands with the likes of me if I hadn't been 'useful'. Well, I'm done with that. No more 'getting close' to suspects, no more fucking anybody for a goddamn paycheck. Is that clear? Quite clear?"
They stared silently at each other for an uncomfortably long time. "Yes," Cowley said at last, without emotion. "It's quite clear."
"Good." Bodie felt some small satisfaction at the victory. "If that means you can't use my other services any more, either, you know, such as killing people for you, I'd be happy to give my resignation."
Cowley stood and crossed to the drinks cabinet. "There's no need to be facetious, Bodie." He brought out a bottle of pure malt scotch and held it up. "Join me?"
Bodie nearly went green. "No, thank you," he replied hollowly.
"Feeling under the weather?" Cowley poured himself a shot and returned to his desk, sipping slowly at it. "Now, then, I suppose you'd like a few days off to get resettled in your own flat before your next assignment."
"What?" Bodie blinked. "Oh, um, yes, sir." So he was still on the Squad. He didn't know whether to be glad or not. As he sat there considering this, Cowley's phone rang.
"Yes? Ah, Anson. Go ahead. What?"
Bodie's ears pricked up. Anson and Miller were one of the teams assigned to keep an eye on the activities of the two KGB agents. He waited impatiently as Cowley listened.
"When was this?" Cowley asked at length. "Yes...yes. No, you can leave that to me."
The conversation continued for another minute, then Cowley hung up. He rubbed a hand across his eyes. "I believe Ms. Phillips lied to Doyle about her plans."
Even though he had just insisted the case was over for him, Bodie couldn't help but show his interest. "Did she pay a visit to her Russian friends?"
"From Anson's description, yes, it was she who went inside the house Dimitrov and Petrovna have been renting in Hampstead, late yesterday evening." Cowley took a sip of his scotch. "And didn't come out again."
"What?" A prick of fear hit him.
"Anson and Miller watched the place all night, no movement in or out. Same thing today, until an hour ago, when the Russians suddenly took off in their car. Anson and Miller pursued, but lost them in Kensington. They then returned to the house and broke in. They found Ms. Phillips inside. She had been tortured."
The fear spread like fire up his spine. "Dead?"
"Oh my God." Bodie sprang to his feet. "They'll have gone to Doyle's flat, they want the damn notebook." He touched his pocket again, felt it there. "They've somehow twigged that we're closing in. They're doing a clean-up operation." He flung open the door.
"I'll arrange backup--"
Whatever else Cowley said was lost as Bodie bolted down the corridor.
It was too quiet.
Bodie stood in the hallway outside the door to Doyle's flat, trying not to make a sound; even his breathing seemed abnormally loud to his ears.
He closed his eyes, took a steadying breath. They wouldn't kill Doyle right off. Not if they thought he knew where the notebook was. No, they'd spend some time trying to get it out of him. Like they did with Carla. Bodie opened his eyes and stared at the door. Maybe Doyle had gone out, maybe he hadn't been home when they turned up. He could be safe.
Or he could be tied up in there, with two very vicious and determined KGB agents. Why was it so quiet?
He checked his gun for the third time. Fine. He moved into position to break down the door, gun held firmly in both hands. Please, he pleaded silently, please let him be alive.
Then he heard it. One brief, choked-off gasp of pain. Doyle.
Bodie rushed the door, slamming his shoulder full force against the frame. A bullet whizzed past his head as he barrelled through the broken door and immediately dove into a somersaulting roll. He assessed the situation in a fraction of a second as he came up on one knee--Dimitrov stood behind a chair to which Doyle was tied down. Petrovna off to one side--and both agents aiming their guns at him. Bodie fired even as he rolled into another dive. His bullet hit Olga Petrovna in the shoulder. As Dimitrov fired back, Bodie frantically half-rolled, half-slid into the cover of the kitchen.
He came up in a crouch just inside the doorless kitchen entrance way. He had a good view of the living room beyond. Olga lay curled up near the sofa, clutching her bleeding shoulder. Her gun had skittered across the floor, out of reach. Dismissing her for the moment, Bodie focused on the figure in the chair. Doyle looked terrified and very pale, but at least he was alive. There was a thin trickle of blood from his nose, merging with a second from his lower lip.
The chair stood near the center of the room, with Doyle facing the kitchen. Dimitrov was using him for cover, squatting behind the chair, gun aimed towards the entrance way. Not much point in exchanging shots. Bodie couldn't possibly hit him without risking Doyle's life. Time to try talking.
"Dimitrov," he called out. "I've got backup coming. You've got nowhere to run."
"Perhaps not," the agent replied. "But at the moment, neither do you. And I do have a hostage."
"An injured man? Don't be stupid."
"Oh, he can still walk well enough," Dimitrov replied.
At that, Bodie felt a rush of relief. So they had only just gotten started on him. Nonetheless, he couldn't have Dimitrov hauling Doyle about as a hostage. "Leave him be," he shouted.
"Ah. Concerned about Mr. Doyle, are you?"
Damn. Bodie wished he hadn't put so much emotion into the demand.
"How concerned?" Dimitrov went on. "Friend of yours, is he? Is that why you came rushing to the rescue?"
"No, you've got it all wrong."
"Have I? Then you won't mind if I blow Mr. Doyle's brains out, will you?"
Bodie saw Dimitrov aim the gun at the back of Doyle's head. Doyle's eyes widened in fear. "What are you playing at?" Bodie yelled. "Thought you wanted a hostage."
"All I want is to leave here before your friends arrive. And I want you to come out and drop your gun, so that I can depart. If you don't, I will pull the trigger. Simple, yes?"
The last thing Bodie wanted to do was surrender; there was no way in hell Dimitrov would leave the flat without killing them both. But he couldn't risk calling Dimitrov's bluff, either. He was just desperate enough to go ahead and kill Doyle first, and then take a chance on getting him as well. If only Doyle would make some kind of move. Dimitrov wouldn't expect it. Doyle's hands and feet were tied, but he could tip the damn chair, try to knock Dimitrov off balance. Bodie fervently hoped Doyle would act when the right time came, that he wasn't too petrified to try fighting back.
"Come on out," Dimitrov called. "You wouldn't want to see a lot of blood and brain tissue spattered over this lovely white carpet, now would you? Very messy."
Christ. "All right, that's enough." Bodie slowly stood up, slowly moved out of the cover of the kitchen. He could see Doyle was shaking badly.
"That's good," Dimitrov said. He didn't budge from his crouching position behind the chair. "Now put the gun down."
An invitation to die if ever he'd heard one. C'mon, Ray, make a move. Don't freeze on me, dammit. Bodie carefully knelt, stretching the moment out, carefully placed the gun on the floor in front of him, slowly returned to a standing position, completely open to Dimitrov's fire, utterly vulnerable. He grimly realized that his life depended on the actions of a man who, at least as of that morning, hated him.
Dimitrov rose up, gun aimed directly at Bodie's chest.
About one-tenth of a second away from death... As the thought flashed through Bodie's mind, Doyle suddenly rocked the chair backwards into Dimitrov.
The Russian fired, but the shot went wild as he stumbled to regain his balance. It was all Bodie needed. He dropped to one knee, snatched up his gun, and fired in one smooth movement.
The bullet hit Dimitrov squarely in the chest, and he crumpled to the carpet. Bodie dashed to the fallen agent, not doubting he was dead but needing to make sure. Yes, Dimitrov was quite beyond aid.
He automatically picked up both of the Russians' guns and pocketed them. After quickly checking that Olga posed no danger, he went to Doyle, who had fallen over sideways, still tied to the chair.
Bodie gently undid the tight ropes binding his wrists and ankles. Doyle was breathing deeply but raggedly, his face white.
"Ray? It's okay. Everything's going to be fine now. Are you hurt?" He got the chair out of the way and helped Doyle sit up. He lightly rubbed Doyle's wrists, bringing back the circulation.
"Don't know," Doyle gasped. "He punched me pretty hard."
"In the gut."
Bodie hoped no ribs were broken. He made a cursory examination, eliciting a few moans from Doyle but no sharp cries, a good sign. "Help'll be here soon. Just hang in there."
"I'm doin' that." Doyle sounded so weary.
"It'll be okay. I promise." The words seemed hollow, even to his own ears.
Doyle looked him in the eyes, a haunted expression within. "They told me what they did. To Carla..." He gasped, holding his abdomen. "Is it true? Did they really--" He broke off.
Bodie swallowed hard, not wanting to hurt him further. But he had no choice. Doyle had a right to know the truth. "Yes," he said softly. "I'm sorry."
"Don't care what she did," Doyle muttered, shaking his head. "She didn't deserve that."
"No," Bodie agreed. "Should've been him." He glanced at Dimitrov's body. "He should have suffered more."
"Is he dead?"
Bodie nodded. "It's all over, Ray. The whole damned bloody mess. And I'm sorry about everything, you do know that, don't you?" He lightly caressed Doyle's arm, needing to feel close to him again.
Doyle closed his eyes. "I don't know anything any more."
Wishing he could take Doyle into his arms, Bodie held back. Time, he had to give him time to recover, time to think things over. He waited silently, knowing that nothing would be solved between them now.
He heard the sound of footsteps pounding up the stairs, heard Anson's shout. Help was here. Bodie switched into an efficient, organized mode, and soon Doyle was off in an ambulance. Bodie stayed behind to make his preliminary report, trying hard not to think about anything else, and failing miserably.
A few hours later he found himself in the hospital corridor outside Doyle's room, waiting for the doctor to come out. When the man finally emerged, Bodie flashed his ID and demanded to know the extent of Doyle's injuries.
"Fairly minor," the doctor replied. "Some bruising around the ribcage, no sign of internal injuries. A few cuts and scratches, and one bump on the back of the head. Apparently he resisted being tied up by his captors. We're keeping him overnight only for observation and rest. I don't expect any problems."
"When will he be released?"
"Nine in the morning. Did you wish to see him?"
He had come here for that very reason, but now he was so close, Bodie couldn't bring himself to step through the door. Doyle wouldn't want to see any more of him tonight. All it would do would remind him of the bloodshed, the violence. He sighed and shook his head. "No." Then he thanked the doctor and headed out.
He wound up returning to his temporary flat, where he managed to eat half a sandwich and drink half a cup of coffee. Then he undressed and went to bed, wondering what the hell he should do in the morning.
Doyle wouldn't want to go back to his own flat, not after what had happened there. Besides, it would probably still be marked off as a crime scene. No, he'd need somewhere to stay for a while.
The sensible thing to do was to ring Doyle's friends, ask one of them to go collect him next day, ask one of them to put Doyle up. That was the sensible plan.
What he wanted to do, of course, was turn up to collect Doyle himself. No, he thought sleepily, that is absolutely the last thing I should do. Under no circumstances should I show up unannounced at Doyle's room tomorrow morning. He won't want to see me.
On that thought, he drifted off into slumber.
At eight in the morning Bodie found himself standing outside Doyle's hospital room door. It was shut, and he was trying to find a good reason to knock on it. He should simply turn around and go back home. Doyle would just tell him to go away. He had probably already phoned someone else, made his own arrangements. What the hell did he think he was doing here? Screwing it all up even worse, that's what.
He sighed, checking his watch. An hour early, too. A bit eager to get let down, wasn't he? Or did he want Doyle to tell him off once and for all? Was that why he'd come here? Can't take a hint, that's my problem.
His meandering thoughts came to an abrupt halt when the door flew open. A nurse nearly ran him over coming out of the room. "Sorry," Bodie muttered.
"Are you here for Mr. Doyle? I'm afraid you're early. But let me check with the doctor, it might be all right." She walked briskly off, leaving Bodie standing there, staring dumbly through the open door at Ray Doyle.
"Hello," Bodie managed, stepping inside.
Doyle sat on the edge of the bed, fully dressed, one hand holding the receiver of the bedside telephone. He stared back, surprise mixed with uncertainty in his face.
He looked tired, but not as pale as yesterday, and Bodie was struck, as usual, by how beautiful he was, even first thing in the morning after the night he'd had. His long curls were wild and slightly mussed, and someone had brought him a clean shirt which was a little too small, emphasizing every line of smooth muscle. Doyle had left the top three buttons undone, tufts of hair showing through, giving him a wonderfully wanton appeal. Bodie fell in love with him all over again in the space of a few moments.
He sighed, and shifted his gaze to the phone in an effort to distract himself. "I, um, thought you might need a ride somewhere." He'd never felt at such a loss for words before.
"Was just calling a taxi," Doyle replied. He looked at the phone a long moment, then slowly replaced the receiver.
That simple act was the first hopeful sign Bodie had seen that there might still be a chance for them. He tried desperately not to jump at it, not to spoil things with over-eagerness. "Do you have some place to go?" he asked casually. "A friend's? I'm afraid that your flat is, well--"
"I'm not going back there," Doyle broke in. His tone was abruptly harsh.
"No, not right away, but your stuff is there."
"I'll send someone over for it later." Doyle visibly shivered. "I don't want to think about it."
Right, Bodie thought bitterly, and I'm the cause of that revulsion. He started to form an apology, but the nurse returned before he could voice it.
"Doctor says it's okay for you to leave now. I'll just fetch the wheelchair." She took off again.
"But I don't need--" Doyle stopped, gazing at Bodie, confusion evident.
Bodie smiled. "Hospital rules. Nobody walks out on their own two feet. Might slip and fall, wind up suing. I've been in 'em often enough to know, trust me."
"Oh." Doyle frowned. "I haven't been in one since I was seven and had me tonsils out."
Bodie nodded. "Yeah. And you wouldn't be in one now if it weren't for me and CI5."
"No, that's not true," Doyle replied. "I've been thinking about that. Those bastards would still have been after that notebook, whether you'd gotten involved or not. And if you hadn't been around, I'd probably be a lot worse off than this." He paused. "You saved my life, Bodie." He took a deep breath, and let it out slowly. "Thanks."
They still had a chance. Bodie realized he had clenched his hands into fists, and was digging his fingernails into his palms. He willed himself to relax. "It's mutual," he said. "I mean, you saved mine when you rocked that chair backwards."
"Had to do something." Doyle looked away, and there was an awkward silence. Bodie wished he knew exactly which words to say that would put everything to rights, set them on the path to a real friendship. And then he heard the damn wheelchair rattling along the corridor.
If only they had more time, and a quiet, private place to talk. All he wanted was a second chance at loving Ray Doyle. Bodie's insides twisted with the knowledge that this could be the last time he ever saw the man, this one short car ride the only opportunity for forgiveness before they both politely said goodbye and walked away.
He and the nurse trundled Doyle out to the car. Despite his insistence that he was perfectly fine, Doyle's movements as he climbed into the passenger seat were stiff and slow. Bodie drove out of the parking area without his usual speed and abruptness, and headed off towards Chelsea. "Are you really all right?"
"More or less," Doyle replied. "Got a few bruises I wish I didn't have."
They rode in silence, Bodie wondering if there would ever be a right time or place to tell Doyle how he felt. He couldn't simply drop him off somewhere, wish him luck, and leave. All he wanted was a chance to let him know that he had never meant to hurt him in any way, to make him believe it. He wanted Doyle to forgive him.
He couldn't handle it any longer, couldn't take this limbo they were in. They had been lovers, and now were in danger of becoming total strangers again. He couldn't let it happen.
Bodie pulled up to a red light and turned to Doyle. It might not be the best place in the world for declarations, but it would have to do.
"Listen, Ray," he said, determined to get it all out no matter what, "I don't know how to say this, or how to make you believe me, but I have to try. I love you. I've been through hell on this damned assignment because I had to lie to you, and because I knew you'd hate me afterwards, and it bloody well tore me apart." He paused, let it sink in, then barrelled on. "I know it's been hell for you, too, and I can understand if you never want to lay eyes on me again, but I have to let you know that if I could have anything I wanted in the entire world right now, I'd want to be able to start over again, you and me, with no more lies." He waited, not wanting to hope, yet aching within.
After far too long a pause, Doyle slowly shook his head. "I just don't know."
A car horn honked behind them. The light was green.
Damn. Damn. Bodie drove on, the seconds of silence dragging into minutes. The flicker of hope he'd been nurturing began to die. "So," he finally said as they entered Doyle's neighborhood, "where should I drop you off?"
"My studio," Doyle replied flatly. "Wanna be alone for a bit."
Bodie turned down the proper street. Alone. Yeah. It was the last thing he wanted to be right now. But he had nothing on for today, other than returning to his temporary flat and packing up. Then back home to his regular flat. Bodie sighed. Home. No, it was merely a place to live, that's all it had ever been.
At least he had a well-stocked liquor cabinet there.
He pulled up to the curb outside Doyle's studio building and left the engine idling. He didn't look at Doyle, didn't speak, simply stared ahead at nothing in particular. At least he had tried. And lost.
He heard Doyle fumble with the door, heard it open. Doyle got out. The door clicked shut again.
"Guess this is goodbye, then," Doyle said.
Bodie risked a look. Doyle stood on the sidewalk, staring at him through the half-open window.
"Yeah." Bodie put the car into gear. "Have a good life." He roared off, the lurching of the car nowhere near as strong as the lurching in his gut. He reached the stop sign at the corner, where he couldn't help glancing in his rearview mirror.
Doyle was still standing there, staring after him.
Bodie closed his eyes, fighting the tears welling up. Go inside, for god's sake, go inside. He opened his eyes, unable to move on without checking again.
The damn fool was still standing there.
Bodie bit his lower lip. Dammit, why won't he let me go quickly, easily?
And then another blasted car honked behind him. Cursing, he pulled over to the curb again, knowing he'd be a hazard on the road in his present frame of mind. He turned off the engine and sat there, breathing hard, not knowing what to do. He leaned his head and arms on the steering wheel and struggled to regain control of his emotions.
Numb, he listened to the sounds of life going on around him, cars driving past, the laughter of two women as they crossed the street, somewhere a cat let out a plaintive cry. Other peoples' lives. He felt no connection to anyone, felt he had no life of his own. He felt nothing.
Into this deadened world there suddenly came a sound he did not expect to hear.
The passenger door opened.
Bodie jerked up his head, mind reeling, body tight with expectation as Doyle quietly slid inside.
Doyle shut the door. "Forgot something," he said.
Bodie swallowed hard. "What's that?"
"Couldn't pay the studio's electric bill last month. Yesterday was when they were going to shut it off. No heat, no lights." He smiled softly. "How's the heat in your flat?"
It took a while for the words to reach him, and even then, Bodie couldn't quite believe they were really true. "Thought you said you weren't sure just now." He felt his voice breaking and stopped.
"I wasn't," Doyle said. "Until I saw you driving away." He crossed his arms tightly against his chest. "It suddenly hit me, that I didn't really want to be alone. But I couldn't think of anyone I wanted to be with...except you."
The leaden feeling within him disappeared, and Bodie let out a deep breath. "Oh, God...I thought..." He couldn't speak. He leaned back in the seat, closed his eyes, let relief wash over him.
"Oi." Doyle prodded him none too gently. "We can't talk out here in the bloody street. Drive this thing home. Your place."
"Right." Somehow, Bodie managed to calm himself down enough to pull out into traffic again. They didn't speak as he drove, which was just as well.
When they arrived at the block of flats, Bodie said, "I don't really live here, you know. Temporary place."
"I guessed as much," Doyle replied as he followed him inside.
They went into Bodie's flat, and as soon as the door was safely shut, Doyle pulled him into an embrace, kissing him fiercely, longingly. "Knew I'd miss that," he murmured when they parted. "Couldn't stand thinking about it, about not touching you ever again."
Bodie drank in the yearning in Doyle's eyes. "When did that happen?"
"In hospital, lying there all night, wanting you." Doyle put a hand on Bodie's chest. "But I didn't know if I could ever trust you again. Didn't know if I was willing to try."
Bodie found it difficult to meet the intense gaze, but gave it his best effort. "I won't lie to you again. That's a promise." He took Doyle's hand in his, brought it to his lips, kissed the palm. "Can we start over again?" He searched Doyle's face, seeking an answer. "Can we?"
Doyle squeezed his hand. "Yes."
Bodie drew him into another kiss, pouring all the longing of the past hours into it, all the heartache and desire. They were together, that was all that mattered. "Let me love you," he whispered, "let me be with you."
"Got it bad, haven't we?" Doyle muttered, stroking him, caressing him everywhere he could. "Couldn't let you go. Loved you too much." He tugged at Bodie's jacket, shoving it off his arms, and wrapped himself around him. "Never want to let you go."
"Trust me," Bodie replied warmly, "it's mutual."
Still in a daze of relief and elation, he led Doyle down the hall to the bedroom, where they made love long into the day, and long into the night.
-- THE END --