The Mad Scientist Strikes
by Anne Higgins
It all started with dinner at George Cowley's club. April 17 being the birthday of Raymond Doyle's mother, Doyle had opted to play the dutiful son and go up to Derby to take her to dinner. Not to be outdone, his partner and lover, William Andrew Philip Bodie, had joined his own father for a late supper. Bodie found his situation much more satisfying as Cowley would be picking up the check.
As always the food was excellent, the company even better, but it had been a long day at the end of an even longer week. Bodie knew Doyle would make it home around midnight and, wanting to be awake to enjoy it, he concentrated more on a cup of coffee than the glass of scotch his father had ordered for him. Not one to waste good pure malt, Cowley finished off the drink.
As they stood up to leave, Cowley lurched just a touch. The Controller of CI5 gave his son a bemused smile and the car keys. "I must be getting old, Bodie," he said. "It used to take a damned sight more than a glass and a half to give me the staggers."
Bodie took the keys and returned the smile. He was careful to walk close to his father as they left the club. Cowley stumbled, but Bodie steadied him with a hand on his arm. He frowned, feeling his father lean more and more of his weight on Bodie as they walked towards the car.
He was quite alarmed and almost carrying the man by the time they reached the vehicle. In his worry for his father, he missed the first signs in himself, but once he had Cowley settled in the passenger seat and stood up, he felt his own sense of balance lurch. Drugged, he realised. It must have been in the scotch.
He tried to focus his thoughts, even as he instinctively reached for the Browning 9mm in his shoulder holster. But he was in no condition to use it. He had to get help, but both the radio and the entrance to the club seemed miles away.
Though Bodie had no conscious memory of falling, he found himself lying on the asphalt. He heard footsteps, then the ground had suddenly transformed itself into the back of a van.
Sights, sounds, even scents swirled around his drug-fogged senses, but his mind couldn't latch on to any of them, leaving him fairly certain that he was drifting in and out of consciousness. Any doubt on that score vanished when in what seemed like a mere blink, he found himself curled up on the floor of a room full of bright lights and machinery. Slowly he got to his feet, then looked around.
Directly across from him sat his father, gagged and bound to a chair. He was conscious and looking at Bodie with something he seldom saw in the pale blue eyes -- frantic fear. Needing to reassure him, Bodie reached for him, but his hand struck a clear substance just a few inches away from Bodie's body. Only then did he notice that he was surrounded by what could best be described as a giant, upside down test tube. He was also quite naked, even the wedding ring Doyle had given him a few months ago gone.
Few things that involved both nudity and Doyle's absence had ever boded well for him, but before he could dwell on the possibilities, a man in a suit and white lab coat stepped into view. Bodie recognised him instantly and his stomach lurched. Doctor Frederick Jamieson. He'd been part of the government's biological warfare division until three months ago, when CI5 had traced him as the source of a massive drain of funds. He'd escaped capture and had obviously used the money to build this place.
Bodie remembered the case files on all the nasty projects Jamieson had been involved with and felt his knees go weak. He was going to die, and probably not pleasantly. He fixed his gaze on his father and tried to tell him with his eyes how much he loved him and to please look after Ray for him.
Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Jamieson adjust a few dials, flip a few switches, then push a button. Bodie expected a poisonous gas to fill the tube or no visible indicator at all of some microbiotic death joining him in the sealed container. Instead a white light engulfed him. It tickled at first, then he had the most incredible sensation of awareness of himself. Almost as if he could feel every cell in his body. A moment later, those cells twisted, and he screamed.
At 11.32 Doyle pulled up in front of the flat he'd shared with Bodie for the past year. Almost a full half hour ahead of schedule -- early enough to get a good start on the fairly wicked plans he had for the, miracle of miracles, two whole days they'd been given off. Or at least it should have been. From the street he couldn't see any light coming from their front room. Odd. Bodie wasn't the type to do anything but sleep or make love in a bedroom, so Doyle had expected to find him lounging on the settee, his nose in book of poetry. For Bodie had been quite adamant that he would wait up for him.
Poor pet. The spirit was willing, but apparently the flesh had had it. Doyle locked up the gold Capri, then headed into the building and up the stairs to their flat. To his surprise, he found it empty with no sign that anyone had been here since they'd left this morning. Sure sign of a case erupting and bye-bye two days off.
Frowning, he picked up the phone and dialled up headquarters. "Control," the answer came after one ring.
"4.5 reporting in."
"Stand by, 4.5."
There was the distinct clicking sound of his call being transferred, then Susan's voice asked, "Ray, where are you?" Derby was out of r/t range, so he'd turned it off to save the battery. He'd forgotten to turn it back on.
"Just got home. Where's Bodie?"
The pause was long enough to make his heart pound with fear. "Mr Cowley and Bodie are missing."
Missing, not dead. He calmed himself. Until bodies were found there was hope and work to be done. "Understood," he answered and for the sake of the record announced, "4.5 upgrading to Alpha Two. I'll be there in twenty minutes."
Doyle practically flew back to his motor. The man he loved had disappeared along with an unofficial father-in-law Doyle was rather fond of. But that also left the Controller and the co-Deputy Controller of CI5 missing, which meant Doyle was in charge and how involved he could become in any search for them depended greatly on how quiet things remained on other fronts.
He wanted to turn the city upside down personally, but his responsibilities would deny him that release of energy. His only solace was that his two best teams -- Jax and Susan, Charlie and Anson -- were unassigned. No longer. With luck, he could risk reassigning Lucas and McCabe's operation to a less experienced team and put them to work as well. He'd have to wait and see how things unfolded. This could all be part of some plan to put CI5 in turmoil, which meant setting aside his personal feelings, and making certain things stayed on course. He hated it, but he would do it.
Susan met him when he walked in the door of CI5 Headquarters. "What do we know?" he asked, heading for his office.
"Next to nothing, I'm afraid," she answered, falling into step beside him. "They had dinner at the club. Cowley appeared to be drunk when they left."
"Didn't seem likely to me either, but three members of the staff stated that they saw him stumble at least twice. Cowley's car is still in the car park. Jax is trying to track down the doorman."
"I also want a word with anyone who had anything to do with any food or drink served to them."
Susan nodded. "You're thinking they were drugged."
"The old man likes a dram or two, but he doesn't believe in losing control."
It was easily the worst night of Doyle's life. The information coming in was slow and twice he had to turn his full attention to other matters. At 1 a.m., Jax brought in the doorman who told them that Cowley was dead drunk, half passed out by the time his kid got him to the car. Another club member's departure had distracted him after that, but he had seen a van pull out of the car park. He'd been certain it did not belong to a member, but had merely assumed that it was someone turning around.
At 3.30 a.m., Charlie and Anson found the body of the bartender who had poured Bodie's and Cowley's drinks. He'd died a nasty death in an alleyway two miles from the club. Doyle took one look at the contorted posture and features in the crime scene photo and said, "Jamieson. That nutter scientist has got them."
He'd never forget that assignment. On the surface it had seemed like simple fraud, albeit on a grand scale given the amount of funds involved, but it had left him with a queer feeling. The few times he'd met Jamieson before the man had done a runner had left his skin crawling. Though on the handsome side and polite enough, the man had been a trifle too enthusiastic about his grizzly research. He'd shown Doyle pictures of primates subjected to a gas he'd developed. Doyle would never forget the look of them, and knew he held the evidence in his hands that a human had suffered the same death.
His Bodie in the hands of that madman. It chilled his blood, and knowing the identity of the man who had Bodie and Cowley did them little good. They'd been searching for Jamieson for months with no success. And Doyle had well and truly wanted the man found. But there were no friends, no families, no contacts of any kind that even the most diligent search had been able to uncover. Careless with safeguards and the value of life. That was what one of Jamieson's colleagues had said about him. And those words haunted Doyle for the rest of the night.
At 8.30 a.m., Control rang through to his office and informed him that the alarms had just gone off in Cowley's flat. Doyle lunged for the door, but Susan and Jax blocked his way to the hall. "You are not going alone," Jax informed him.
"Absolutely not," his wife backed him up.
He wanted to tell them to bugger off, but he knew what they were thinking -- it could be a trap. Jamieson had Alphas One and Three. He might be fancying adding Alpha Two to his collection. 4.5 would have told them that was fine with him as long as he was with Bodie no matter what happened. Alpha Two gritted his teeth. "Susan, mind the store; have Charlie and Anson meet us at the flat. Jax with me."
It almost killed Doyle to take the proper precautions, to wait for backup, to move into the flat with care and ignore the two motionless forms lying in the foyer while they made a quick sweep of the flat. Only when in all good conscience could he say that it was clear, did he turn to the bodies.
Jax caught hold of his arms. "Ray, it could be some sort of biological booby trap."
He knew that, but he'd played the professional as long as he could. "So be it," he answered, then raised his voice to make certain Anson and Charlie heard him as well. "If something happens, you and Susan are in charge." If Cowley was dead, Doyle was Controller and the Controller of CI5 had the right to designate a successor. Naming his might be his last official act. "Now out, the lot of you."
With obvious reluctance the three men obeyed, but Jax paused in the outer doorway. "Ray?"
"If it were Susan, what would you do?"
He nodded. "Good luck." Then he left.
His limbs felt weak as he approached the two men he prayed were only unconscious. Cowley was lying in a sprawl, but Bodie was all wrapped up in a blanket, only a patch of near-black hair showing at the top.
Doyle dropped to his knees between the two of them. Too terrified to unwrap the blanket, he took a moment to check Cowley while he collected himself. The steady beat of a pulse beneath his fingers did much to restore his courage, and he chose to view this as a moment with his father-in-law, not his employer. "George, can you hear me?" he asked, even as his hands shifted to the blanket.
At the sound of his name, Cowley stirred, his eyes coming open and he reached out. "Bodie?" he asked his voice weak.
"Here," Doyle answered. Or was he? As he began to unwrap the blanket, he saw that it covered someone much too small to be his lover. Oh, God. It wasn't over. Where --?
His thoughts skidded to a halt as he got a look at the blanket's naked occupant. A woman. Beautiful, with smooth alabaster skin and a familiar and well-loved face. Perhaps because he'd seen the tintype of Bodie's great grandmother and knew exactly what his lover's features would like on woman or perhaps it was that sense of Bodie he always had, but for whatever reason, he looked at the woman resting in his arms and just knew. "Bodie."
Long eyelashes swept open and deep blue eyes looked up at him. "Angelfish?"
"I'm here, sunshine. I've got you."
A sigh accompanied a look of relief on her . . . no, his face. Bodie was a man. And Doyle would not allow himself to think otherwise. "My father?"
"Here." Cowley had managed to sit up, and he shifted over so he could touch Bodie's arm.
"You're all right?"
"Yes," Cowley assured him.
"That's all --" A puzzled look crossed Bodie's face. "What's wrong with my voice?"
"You must stay calm, son," Cowley told him.
"What?" He reached for his father and saw his hand. A delicate feminine hand, with long fingers and quarter-inch nails.
His eyes widened. "Christ! What?" The deep breath pulled in seemed to focus his awareness on his chest and he shifted up enough to look down the length of his body. To see the generous swell of breasts and a pubic mound adorned with dark curly hair.
Doyle felt Bodie try to pull away from him and tightened his hold, the fact that he could stop his lover from escaping underscoring how much the powerful body had been changed.
Bodie had always considered himself a practical man -- whatever happened was dealt with as swiftly as possible with a minimal amount of fuss. But now he wasn't a man, and he didn't know quite how to be practical about that.
He remembered so little about what had happened after he'd collapsed in the car park. Just images and sounds, the look of fear in his father's eyes and the excruciating pain. But he'd recovered from the pain, while the drug seemed to have had no ill effects on either of them. That, and being wrapped up in the warmth of Doyle's arms, were the bright side of the whole mess. Beyond that he had no frame of reference with which to react.
So he didn't. After his first brief outburst, he shut up, let Doyle hold him, let Cowley and Doyle exchange information on what they knew, then managed to add his own impressions. The how was beyond any of them. It was like something out of the late, late show. You never knew how, you just had to accept the results. Easier said than done. Still, he felt he was handling it all in the best stiff upper lip tradition. Not that there was any precedence for this sort of occurrence, and he suspected the only thing keeping him from screaming hysterics was the knowledge that in all those old movies there was always a reverse switch. He just had to find the fucking machine to use it.
And therein lay the rub. Nothing he could currently remember put them any closer to finding the elusive Jamieson than they had been weeks ago. The other thing nagging at him was why? Given the fact that his father had been forced to watch the transformation, it had been a form of revenge, but why this way? Seemed a tad cryptic. He was alive, healthy as far as he knew, and his lover was a bisexual and unlikely to leave him because he suddenly found himself 'married' to a woman. Which reminded him, "My ring."
"He took my ring."
Doyle kissed his forehead. "I'll get you another one. Get you a whole boxful, I'm so glad to have you back in one piece."
Just not in the same piece. He shook his head, then frowned as his long hair rustled against his shoulders. Not for a single heartbeat was he allowed to forget what had happened.
"George, shouldn't we take him to hospital?" Doyle asked. "For that matter, I'd feel better if someone gave you the once over as well."
Cowley shook his head. "I'm fine, Ray. As for Bodie, I don't think the good physicians at Guy's will be much help."
"We need to do something!"
"Aye. I need to make a few calls, and I'd best make them at my office since the security of this place has been compromised. And I'll have to inform the Home Secretary that we've encountered Jamieson again."
Bodie's stomach lurched. It had been bad enough having his family and mates see him this way -- though he had to admit that the lads had taken it in stride. Cowley chose his people well. Hard to shock any of them. But Charles Truesdale was a politician. Be difficult to know how he'd react. He might order Bodie locked away for observation. Bodie couldn't stand hospitals, and he desperately wanted to be with Doyle, even feared that without the familiarity of his golly's presence that he'd lose all sense of reality. "Does he have to be told?" Bodie asked, unable to keep the edge of distress from his voice.
Cowley gave him a smile, then eased his anxiety with a gentle caress of Bodie's cheek. "I'll not give him the details. We'll keep it an internal matter for as long as we can."
No promises, but his father would do his best. That was good enough for Bodie, and he said so by rubbing his cheek against the warmth of Cowley's hand.
Cowley looked at Doyle. "Take him home, and the both of you get some rest."
They nodded and stood up, and Bodie encountered his first problem with being a woman.
Perhaps because his own chest had been broad, Jamieson had opted to give him ample breasts. Though high and firm with a perfection that would have made any female aspiring to grace Page 3 green with envy, they didn't quite move in exactly the same direction as he did. Or at least not at the same time.
Doyle, the rotten sod, also noticed the problem. "Figure you're a generous C-cup, pet. Not the best build for going without."
He glowered at Doyle. "Just what would you suggest?"
"I'll drop you at the flat, then do a quick run to the shops."
In addition to the occasional girlfriend he had liked well enough to actually buy gifts for, Doyle had occasionally shopped for his sister and mother, so Bodie expected he'd do a decent job of it, and he could hardly go out in his blanket. "All right."
"But with your permission, Mr Cowley, I'll set Anson and Charlie to guarding our flat until I get back."
"An excellent idea," Cowley responded.
Bodie bristled at the very notion. "I can take care of myself."
"I'll not have you left alone," Doyle told him. "If nothing else, you might suffer some side effect and need help."
Side effect? What worse could happen? "All right, but we both were drugged. Charlie can stay with me, but Anson goes with Dad."
"It would be wise, sir."
Cowley nodded his agreement, then glanced at Bodie.
The sight of it looked wrong, then Bodie realised it was the angle. He was now the same hight as his father, so the man was looking at him straight in the eye. Maybe that's why he hadn't become hysterical yet -- it was all too weird to accept when even something as simple as exchanging a glance with Cowley became a new experience.
"We'll get this fixed, son," Cowley said, then kissed him on the forehead. Something he'd never done before.
Exhausted from a sleepless night and the strain of worrying, Doyle felt like the walking dead by the time he got home. Charlie was in a similar state; Doyle didn't hesitate to let the other man head for his own flat and a long sleep, but he gave serious consideration to posting another guard. Two CI5 agents in a secure flat should be safe enough, but how could he be certain Bodie could protect himself?
The body he'd held against him had seemed fit, but a good amount of fighting was muscle memory versus conscious thought and a lot of Bodie's muscle was missing. No doubt he could still shoot like a demon, but getting a gun out required some advance warning. Doyle felt like he'd sleep the sleep of the dead and in the end he compromised, calling in one of the B Squad to keep watch on the place versus pulling someone from the A Squad off something vital.
He found Bodie already asleep in their bed and had to admit that he made a very pretty picture. Somehow the thought felt treacherous and he scowled at himself as the dropped his packages on the dressing table. Then he stripped off his clothes and climbed into bed. Bodie immediately snuggled up against him. At least that much hadn't changed.
When he next opened his eyes the sun had set, and he found something else hadn't changed -- he was hard and hungry for his lover. Uncertain if he were doing the right thing, he shifted enough to kiss the full lips.
Another kiss and Bodie stirred beneath him, the lips parting to admit Doyle's tongue. Oh, he loved the taste of that mouth and the scent of his lover's body. Both were a touch different, but still undeniably Bodie.
He felt Bodie tense beneath him, and he imagined Bodie'd just realised that he hadn't been suffering from some bizarre dream. Doyle kept kissing him, his hands stroking arms and hips while staying away from the more obviously feminine portions. Only when he felt his love relax did he lift up just a touch to ask, "I love you. Will you let me make love to you?"
"Wish you would."
"Can I touch you? Make it good for you?"
Bodie swallowed, then parted his legs. "Might as well see what all the fuss is about while I have a chance."
The answer was flippant, but Doyle could hear the unease in the voice. "I love you," he repeated and began caressing him again. "Know what I always loved most?"
Bodie shook his head.
"Your eyes. A man could drown in all that blue, and I swear they make false eyelashes with yours as the model."
"'ve got funny eyebrows."
"Mmmm, love 'em. Give you character, they do." He ran his lips along each one, his hand slipping down to the soft mound between Bodie's legs. He placed the palm of his hand against it, then rubbed in a slow, circular motion.
Bodie gasped and clutched at him.
"Good strange or bad strange?"
"Good, I think."
Doyle smiled and kept rubbing. "You've got a pretty nose."
"Your nose. A classic, it is. With a cute little twitch at the end." He gave the bend in question a kiss. "And your mouth, Christ, could eat your mouth up."
As they kissed, Bodie's hips lifted, increasing the pressure of Doyle's touch. Figuring that was a good sign, he let his finger slip between the folds of skin and was relieved to find them slick with moisture. Apparently, he hadn't lost his touch. He applied a bit more direct attention to the hard button of flesh just above all that tempting moist heat, and Bodie moaned.
"And your hair, 's like silk," he whispered in the nearest ear, his nose brushing against the shining black strands. "Always liked it when it was a bit longer. More to play with that way."
"Should be happy then."
Uh-oh, slight miscalculation there. He'd been trying to point out all the things that hadn't changed, things he rather fancied, but the hair had changed. Damn. "I am happy. Spent the better part of the day thinking I might have lost you. I love you."
His clever fingers hadn't stopped working, and Bodie squirmed against him. "Love you too," he moaned, his legs shifting up to wrap around Doyle's hips.
Doyle took a chance and entered him. He couldn't say he hated it. He'd always enjoyed sex -- with women as well as men -- and this was Bodie, who he loved beyond all reason. But he missed the hot snugness of Bodie's bum. It wasn't as if he couldn't just shift the man and indulge in some anal sex, but he was afraid Bodie might see that as rejection. And though they were both being very calm about the whole matter, there was the very real possibility that the change was permanent. So he needed to make it loud and clear that he found this form desirable, too.
Bodie's body jerked, his muscles quivering in orgasm. Doyle smiled to himself and kept thrusting and rubbing. He guessed Bodie had at least three more climaxes before Doyle came, his seed spurting up into his lover's womb.
Womb, seed. Oops. They might not need much lubricant for the time being, but he had a whole other set of supplies to lay in before they did this again. Damn. Life could be so fucking complicated, he thought, gathering his limp, but obviously well pleasured lover into his arms, then they both went back to sleep.
Bodie woke up the next morning and felt . . . sticky. Well, he usually did after sex, but this was a touch over the top. And the long hair itched. It was heavy and greasy after such a long sleep. He needed a shower.
With a sigh he abandoned the pleasure of snuggling with a sleeping Doyle and headed for the loo. He washed his hair, his face, then started on his body. He focused on the sex-common bits first, delaying the moment when his hands finally settled on his breasts. He'd always had sensitive nipples -- the main reason he wore his shirts and polonecks loose -- and he loved it when Doyle nuzzled and fondled his chest. It didn't really feel all that different now. The flesh tingled at his touch, the nipples hardened at the slightest attention. Only the contours were strange.
Emboldened by this discovery, he let his hands drift down his belly to soap his mound. That felt very different, and he gasped when his finger brushed his clitoris. He'd come five times last night. He shouldn't have felt much interest, but another few rubs, and he was fighting the impulse to squirm.
His hand followed the flesh deeper between his legs, then he eased his fingers inside. He'd felt more than a few vaginal walls in his day, but it was the first time he'd ever felt it on the receiving end as well.
It occurred to him then it should have been rather tender in there. He'd been a virgin after all. His mind and body both snorted at the very thought. Apparently the breaking of his hymen hadn't been on Jamieson's agenda, and anyone who could turn him into a woman could certainly ensure that he was non-virginal.
Glad of that. Emotionally Ray had taken his virginity, but physically he wouldn't have to be sitting down carefully for the next day or two.
And how did he feel about that loss of virginity? He'd felt undeniable pleasure and Ray had felt good inside him, but on a basic level he had not liked it.
What he liked was the feel of his cock rubbing against Ray's. Of his lover's mouth surrounding his hot, pulsing flesh while his hands teased Bodie's balls. And when Ray's cock impaled his anus, it drove Bodie into a frenzy of pleasure. Would it still? His soapy fingers slipped from his vagina, and he reached around and carefully inserted one into his anus.
The prostate gland was no longer there, but to his relief he found he still enjoyed the sensation of penetration. Enjoyed it enough that he kept thrusting with his finger as his other hand moved back to his clitoris.
It took several minutes instead of a few simple strokes to bring himself off. Another difference he didn't care for. Feeling more annoyed than pleasured, he rinsed, then shut off the water.
He dried himself, giving all that annoying hair a vigorous rub with the towel. He would have headed straight for the nearest hair salon to have it chopped off, except he didn't know how the process that had changed him worked. For all he knew the molecules for his balls were hidden in the hair hanging from his ears to his shoulders. Not bloody likely, but then again, given his current streak of luck, better safe than sorry.
He picked up his comb and quickly discovered yet another problem. Long hair washed without a untangler tended to be temperamental about being combed out. He gave it a try anyway, and found his efforts tedious and far from pain-free. Cursing, he gave up, turned on his heel and got back into the shower, for the first time grateful that the mess of curls on top of Doyle's head had made his partner see the wisdom of having such useful things as untangler in stock.
The fact that he used too much and needed to stay in long after the water turned cold to get the slickness out did nothing to improve his temper. Then he had to dry off with damp towels just to get right back to the place he'd started from.
It still wasn't exactly easy to comb out his thick hair, but he got the job done. The end result of that was a very wet head. Take forever to dry this mop, he thought gloomily as he picked up the hair dryer.
He was still contemplating the enormity of the task before him when Doyle walked in. "Morning, beautiful," he purred, giving Bodie's neck a nuzzle.
That being one of Bodie's less encouraging sounds, Doyle sighed and headed for the shower.
Bodie switched on the dryer, thus muffling the sound of the loud, indignant yelp behind him.
"Bodie, you prat, you used all the hot water again!"
He swung around, still working with the dryer and fixed Doyle with his best don't-bloody-start look. To his satisfaction, it worked.
Doyle glared at him, then set a speed record for the world's fastest shower.
It aggrieved Bodie to no end to find Doyle washed, dried, dressed and the morning coffee made before he even finished with his fucking hair.
Glowering, he stomped into the bedroom and turned his attentions to what he should wear. His own polonecks would do -- nice and baggy to help hide his sudden wealth of cleavage -- and a pair of Doyle's jeans should fit, though he'd have to roll up the legs a touch. But there was no way around the shoe problem. He'd have to stuff some stocks into the toes of his trainers, then go out and buy a pair that fit.
That left the unders stuff. With a sigh he picked up the packages. Five minutes later he went storming out of the apartment in a rage.
Doyle was in the kitchen making breakfast when he heard the door slam. A sound that conveyed unmistakable anger. He was out the door and halfway down the steps before he even had consciously decided it was also a sound that had to be investigated. He arrived on the front step in time to see Bodie's silver Capri peel away from the curb.
"Bodie!" he shouted with no results even as he sprinted to his own car. "Stay here!" he ordered the bewildered junior on duty, then Doyle set off in pursuit. Fortunately the light at the end of the street was against Bodie, so the Capri was still in sight when Doyle rounded the corner.
Though they'd just got up, it was well into the morning for the rest of the city and the shops were all open. Bodie led him straight to Marks & Sparks. It all seemed a bit dramatic for a shopping trip. For that reason, he stayed on Bodie's tail. Or at least he tried to. The place was crowded and though he knew what Bodie currently looked like, it was difficult not to search for a broad-shouldered man who stood an inch taller than he did.
It was that glorious dark hair that let him catch up to him. He saw the gleam of it in the lingerie section and skidded to a stop in time to see Bodie disappearing into the fitting rooms. He thought he'd seen husbands go in with their wives, so he chanced it -- though he did take care to go in when the sales clerk was looking the other way. Of the available changing rooms, there was only one closed door.
Doyle stalked over to it and found it locked. "Open this door," he hissed.
A bare-breasted Bodie yanked it open, threw the bra Doyle had bought hours earlier at him, then shut the door in his face. Doyle looked at the satin pale blue undergarment in his hand, hoping against hope that it would somehow find a voice and tell him what the fucking hell was going on. Certainly the manner in which it had been given to him suggested it was indeed the reason for this display of temper. He sighed, defeated, and resorted to asking, "Did I buy the wrong colour?"
"Oh, not at all," came Bodie's reply, his voice dripping with sarcasm, "looks a treat with my eyes."
"Thought it would," Doyle muttered, then it dawned on him that it might have been a mistake to admit that.
"Liked the lace trim, too," Bodie went on. "Nice and sexy an' all."
"Sexy? I'll have you know this is the same set I bought my sister," he said, utterly indignant.
"How nice for her." Bodie opened the door, the bra he was now wearing a white, Spartan support garment instead of the lingerie Doyle held.
Doyle hoped this meant impending peace, but the door remained open only long enough for the matching blue panties to also be flung at him. Perhaps pants in the face were more enlightening or he'd just had the bra in his clutches long enough for it to talk, but the penny finally dropped. "Love, I just dashed into one of the neighbourhood shops. This lot was the least frilly thing I could find."
Bodie opened the door yet again. This time no underwear assaulted Doyle. "It was?"
"Of course, sweetheart."
Bodie's anger slipped from his face, but sadness replaced it.
Doyle sighed. "Now what did I do?"
"Nothing. Just adjustment pains," he answered, then gathered up the empty wrappers for the underwear he'd put on. "I suppose I should buy a few spares."
There was an element of defeat to those words that nearly broke Doyle's heart, but they had to be practical. "Three pair of pants should do you. One to wear, one to wash out, and one to put on if the washed pair isn't dry when you need it. Might want a second bra, too."
Bodie nodded, and Doyle took the wrappers from him. "I'll get them. Just like the ones you have on," he promised and gave Bodie a kiss. "You get yourself some shoes."
Splitting the labour, they were back at the flat within an hour, the delay due to Doyle's insistence on popping into a jeweller's shop to replace Bodie's ring. That seemed to please the man, but the glow didn't last longer than the drive home.
Bodie went on upstairs while Doyle explained their abrupt departure to the rather flustered junior. As he soothed the very young man -- Christ, he felt old -- he caught the look on Bodie's face as he disappeared through the front security door. It had been a mistake to post a watch dog. It seemed Doyle could do nothing right these days.
Cowley called only a few minutes after they walked in the door. He gave them an address and instructions to meet him there in one hour. It turned out to be a lab attached to the university. A grey, bespectacled man greeted them as they arrived. "Hello, I'm Dr Chandler," he said.
Bodie had to fight the impulse to flinch away from him, the white lab coat filling him with dread.
His father seemed to understand, for he touched his arm. "I've known Evan for over twenty years," he assured him, his voice pitched low enough that only Bodie could hear him. "He's a good man, and the leading expert in cellular biology."
Not that it did Bodie any good. He submitted to a long, intrusive examination, not objecting at all when Doyle opted to hold his hand whenever it didn't get into Chandler's way. But when it was over with, he could tell from the doctor's face that the news was not good. "Let's have it then."
"The energy signature still in your cells bears a strong resemblance to one left behind by a tissue regeneration process being worked on in various circles. Apparently the technology to, say, allow someone to grow a new limb, is not all that different from the ability to transform existing flesh."
"Apparently." That bit of sarcasm earned him both a stern look and a gentle pat on the arm from his father. "Can you change me back?"
Chandler looked very uncomfortable. "It is possible that between tests on you and available technology, I might be able to construct a device that could restore your sex."
"But?" There was most definitely a 'but' in there.
"In the original process, you lost a significant portion of your mass. I suspect this was done for aesthetic reasons rather than a by-product of the procedure."
Yes, Jamieson had obviously wanted to create a picture of femininity and a mere conversion of Bodie's body would have resulted in something more along the lines of an amazon than the bathing beauty he was now.
"If that is true, the most we can ever hope to do is make you male again. And there are drugs and surgical procedures that could do that with far less risk."
Bodie felt ice cold. He wanted Ray or his father to hold him. Hell, he wanted them both to wrap their arms around him and never let go. But wasn't that what a woman would want?
He got up and just walked out. Didn't know or care where he was going. He knew his father loved him and was generous with his affection, in a typically restrained way. Bodie had never minded, but he'd liked the feel of the kiss. He'd liked the sweet words Doyle had whispered in his ear when they'd made love, too. But it had never occurred to Cowley to kiss him or Doyle to charm him until this. He was a man, but whatever they thought, the two men he loved looked at him and reacted to him as if he were a woman.
He guessed he'd have to get used to that. If Doyle and Cowley couldn't stop from treating him differently, how could anyone else? How could he keep his sense of self intact?
He was a man, and mere cultural dictates or not, that meant certain things, many of which defined who he was. He'd been strong and powerful: a protector who he knew made others feel safer merely by his presence. He'd watched those same people look uncertain around Susan and even Doyle. Hadn't he had more than a few doubts about Doyle's ability to do the job when they'd first met?
And the two of them handled things differently than the smaller members of the squad. Not better, but differently. Bodie didn't know how to do it the other way.
Worse, there was a huge instinctive element to fighting. He tended to use a boxer's moves, while the women on the squad were martial arts experts. He was too, of course, but it was not the skill he led off with. He'd have to be totally retrained. He could do it, but it might take months and he only had another year or so left on the streets before 3.7 was retired permanently.
In the past, that had meant becoming Alpha Three just as permanently, but was he fit to do that? The thought of facing Ross like this . . . . Oh, Christ.
He sank down onto a bench and buried his face in his hands. How could he pass a psych exam when he couldn't even be certain who he was any more?
Hands touched his arms, and he lifted his head to find Doyle kneeling in front of him. "I'm afraid, Ray. I don't know how to be like this."
There were tears in the large, green eyes he loved so well, and he thought it ironic that he felt unable to cry while his very masculine lover had no such compunctions.
Doyle sniffed. "We're going to do two things. We're going to find that bastard Jamieson and force him to turn you back into your tall, dark, handsome and engagingly modest self."
Bodie managed a slight smile. "And the second thing?"
"First actually. We're going to take advantage of the only silver lining in this whole fucking mess."
"Marry me, sunshine. I'm a nice Catholic boy, and I'd like to be properly married."
Bodie stared at him. "Marry you?"
"Yeah. Your dad can get us a special licence. We can do it this afternoon. Just have to wait long enough to get me mum and sister down here."
"I've got it all figured out, sunshine. Can say your birth certificate has a typo under sex and that your dad wanted a son so badly he didn't let the fact you were a girl stop him from naming you accordingly. We'd just need the CI5 doc to certify you're female. And we'll be married all nice and legal."
From the day Doyle had finally figured out they were meant for each other, Bodie had considered them married. Doyle had showed his approval of such a notion by buying the wedding rings. But he'd never even dared dream that they could actually be married. "Ray . . . ."
"Have to have a vicar do the ceremony instead of a priest, but it'll do."
"Oh, Christ," he whispered, positively melting inside. It hurt how much he desperately loved this man.
"Only thing I'm not sure of, is if you want to marry me."
"Of course, I do, you dozy golly," he answered and for the first time enjoyed the pleasure of kissing the man he loved in public.
Four hours later, Bodie, Doyle and a few assorted guests assembled in the CI5 briefing room. The paperwork was all in order, though the vicar attached to CI5 tried to balk at performing the ceremony. He wasn't at all bothered by Bodie's transformation -- apparently he'd chalked that up to some divine miracle, and Doyle had been forced to muzzle Bodie to keep him from offering his opinions on which direction one had to travel to find the 'divine' doorstep to lay this one on. But the vicar didn't think it proper for him to perform a ceremony for a Catholic.
Before Doyle could lose his temper, Cowley pointed out to the foolhardy cleric that Bodie was currently smiling, and to keep that smile on his face he would personally shoot the vicar down where he stood. When Doyle's mum promised to help Cowley, the poor man had relented.
Both the bride and groom wore jeans and trainers and, with the exception of the vicar and the groom's two family members, all the guests were armed. But the cheers at the conclusion of the ceremony were just as loud, just as genuine, as they would have been at a fancy dress wedding in the finest church in England.
Doyle kissed Bodie, and congratulated himself on finally doing something right. He'd even remembered to say he took Bodie as his spouse, not his wife. Couldn't have the gorgeous sod trying to wiggle out of things on a technicality if he got back to normal, could he? "I love you," he whispered, then kissed Bodie again.
Cowley gave them the rest of their wedding day off. Such a generous soul, his father was, and Bodie listened in quiet agreement as Doyle went on about it at some length as they drove home. Didn't bother him at all, but then he'd always known when to be 3.7 and when to be George Cowley's son. Perhaps that was why he hadn't fallen completely apart over all of this -- there had always been a schizophrenic element to his life. He knew how to distance himself, how to deal with one set of emotions while locking away another, only to smoothly switch things around a second later if the situation warranted it. Yes, maybe that was it. Or, he was still waiting for the White Rabbit to show up.
"And that's another thing -- the old bastard was chatting up my mum."
That observation too good to ignore, Bodie's attention swiftly returned to Doyle's ranting. "He what?"
"He was chatting up my mother."
"Well, why not? They're both single, and Finola is very pretty." Petite, striking features and soft red hair. "And she's not nearly as ratty as you are."
"Ta very much. Bad enough having the miserable skinflint as a boss and father-in-law. Don't fancy having him for a step-dad at all."
Bodie smiled. "Getting a bit ahead of things, aren't you?"
"He gave her a dram of his private stock."
Bodie whistled. "Reckon we should start thinking about what to get them for a wedding present. Must be true love. That or he felt like celebrating."
Doyle scowled. "You think I"m overreacting."
"Considerably. His blue-eyed . . . whatsit just got married. Be insulted, I would, if he toasted my nuptials with the cheap stuff."
Doyle took advantage of a red light, to pull Bodie into his arms and kiss him soundly. "You are not a 'whatsit', you gorgeous prat."
"Love it when you're masterful."
"Give you masterful when I get you home," Doyle promised. "Which reminds me."
He pulled the car into a spot in front of the neighbourhood chemist. "Back in a tick," he said, zipping off on his errand before Bodie could ask him what the hell he was doing spending some of their precious honeymoon minutes shopping?
Cruelly abandoned on his wedding day. Life just wasn't fair. He sulked for a good ten minutes, then before he could decide whether to sulk some more or go after the heartless fiend, Doyle popped back into the car, dropping a sack in the back.
"And just what was so important that it couldn't wait for a less auspicious occasion?"
Doyle merged the Capri into traffic, then answered, "I'm on my honeymoon, love. Don't intend to spend it taking cold showers."
"You weren't going to until you left me sitting in the car," Bodie muttered.
A chuckle answered him. "Occurred to me last night, and Chandler confirmed it."
"You've got all a woman's parts and they're in good working order."
"What? . . . oh, Christ, I can get pregnant." He'd been so busy trying to figure out how to put on a sodding bra that he hadn't considered the more spectacular implications of his transformation. His mind reeling at the image of his new body swollen with an unborn child, he lost track of things until he found himself sitting naked on their bed.
He looked up at Doyle, who was busy stripping off the last of his own clothes. "I can have your baby."
"Not tonight," Doyle quipped, plopping down beside him.
Doyle had always said he wanted children, had fought long and hard to reconcile it with his love for Bodie. Did Bodie have the slightest right to deny him a child now that he could give him one? "Ray --"
"No." He kissed Bodie to shut him up. "Now's not the time. Won't ever be unless you want it otherwise."
"Christ, Ray, I don't want that sort of responsibility." Then he rolled his eyes. As if having a kid wasn't a responsibility.
"Stop thinking about it. Even if we don't find Jamieson -- and we will find him if I have to search under every rock on this miserable island -- we can't have a kid when we're on the streets. Be at least another year before the Cow rosters us into full-time Deputy status. We can talk about it then."
Bodie managed a slight smile. "Guess I'd better get the hang of this woman-thing before I try the preggers bit."
"Beautiful and smart," Doyle said with admiration, then pounced.
As instructed, Bodie and Doyle reported for duty the morning after their wedding, and Bodie quickly found himself facing Macklin. The sadist quickly proceeded to take him apart. Not that there was anything new about that.
It was what Macklin did. No field agent could ever hope to match the man's fitness level or fighting trim. Mackling didn't have long, boring stakeouts that could stretch for weeks at a time to deal with. Or jobs that kept an agent so busy that the food snatched on the fly made Bodie's beloved Swiss rolls seem like the epitome of nutrition. No, all that head case had to do with his time was stay fit. Had its own disadvantages, Bodie was certain of that, but as he hit the mat -- hard -- for the two hundredth time, he couldn't quite figure out what they might be.
He was also getting very irritated. For the last hour Macklin had concentrated his attack on the overtly female portions of Bodie's body. Did the daft sod think Bodie would get hysterical just because some rough lout punched him in the knockers? Had news for him -- it hurt far less than a blow to the stomach. He understood what Macklin was up to. Satisfied that Bodie still could handle hand-to-hand, he wanted to make certain that sexual attacks wouldn't rattle him. But it was getting boring.
Bodie decided he'd had quite enough of this nonsense when Macklin pinned him to the mat yet again and took the opportunity to grope between Bodie's legs. Bodie pushed up the few inches he could, then kissed the bastard full on the mouth.
Startled, Macklin reared back, giving Bodie the opportunity to twist around, reversing their previous positions. However, he let his knee instead of his hand make intimate contact with Macklin's groin.
The temptation to cripple him for life was quite strong -- and would have been wildly celebrated by all and sundry -- but, with saintly forbearance, he applied only enough force to make Macklin remember him for the rest of the day.
The howl of pain was music to his ears and also brought Doyle hurtling into the room, breathing fire. But there was no one to turn to an ashy crisp. Pity, all flashing eyes and temper, the golly made quite the handsome knight in shining armour.
Bodie got up, brushed himself off and studied the figure writhing on the floor. "That lunch is it?" he asked.
Taking a muffled gasp as a yes, he headed for the door where he joined his partner who had the most interesting mixture of embarrassment and admiration on his exotic face. "Weren't you supposed to be making yourself useful while I took me lumps?"
The embarrassment part of the mix grew stronger. "Was worried he might overdo it."
Bodie frowned, even started to open his mouth to inform his errant protector that he could bloody well take care of himself, but fortunately he had one of those near psychic moments -- or his sense of self-preservation kicked in. In any case, his brain immediately bleated a warning that if he spoke he would be treated to a rerun, with an aggravating 'so how do you like it' twist, of Doyle's displeasure with Bodie's 'blatant overreaction' when Macklin had been a touch too rough with Doyle when he was retraining after last year's shooting.
No thanks, pass on that one. Bodie smiled sweetly, kissed his befuddled mate on the cheek, then said, "I appreciate the thought, sunshine."
Having got the best of both Macklin and Doyle, Bodie considered the morning a rousing success. Even if he did have enough bruises to sink the fleet.
Doyle stared from the still-moaning Macklin to his mate's retreating form. Couldn't decide which view he liked best, but finally curiosity sent him scurrying after Bodie. "Give," he demanded once he fell in step with him.
"Could you be more specific?"
"Come on, Bodie, no one, but no one has ever done that to our Brian, so how did you do it?"
Bodie smiled. "He couldn't forget who he was fighting."
"Uh huh. 'fraid of you is he?"
"No, but he's not used to fighting a man in a woman-suit."
"Meaning that I did something he'd expect from a woman, but not from a man."
"I kissed him."
"You . . . kissed him." Doyle stopped in his tracks, considered the strategy, acknowledged that it was a good one, but wondered if the CI5 clinic had a store of rabies vaccine in. Then something else occurred to him. "Here now, don't you go around wasting your kisses on strange men," he scolded, catching up with Bodie a second time. And they didn't come any stranger than Macklin.
Bodie stopped and regarded him with a smile. "Someone I should be saving them for?"
"Fickle, that's your problem," he growled, then pulled Bodie into a long, deep kiss. Figured it was the least he could do for the conqueror of Macklin. Bodie melted against him -- well the beautiful sod always had been a sucker for his kisses, just felt different now. Not better. Just different. When he finished, he enjoyed watching Bodie's eyes sweep open. "Now, tell me the rest."
"Think I can handle it, Ray," Bodie told him, those lovely blue eyes shining with pride. "Was worried my first instincts would get me into trouble, but I knew I couldn't survive if I tried to out-muscle him, so I worked on out-finessing him. Worked with the usual success."
Doyle flinched in sympathy and gave him another kiss.
A few hours later, a mostly recovered Macklin gave Cowley much the same report: at least when 3.7 knew there would be a fight, he was fit for duty. By this time the rest of the squad was circulating a petition to the Pope to get said 3.7 canonized.
Saint Bodie of London. It did have a certain ring to it. Bodie slid into a tub of water as hot as he could stand it and sighed with relief. Though the heady rush of triumph would sustain him for years, he had the horrible suspicion his battered body would be suffering for an equal amount of time. Christ, that bastard hit hard.
"Can I wash His Worship's back?"
Bodie glanced towards the doorway filled with an artfully posed Doyle. Cheeky bastard, he thought with affection. "One of a husband's prerogatives, isn't it?"
Doyle nodded, "To love, honour and get me mitts on you every chance I have."
Bodie laughed and took Doyle's hand as the man settled on the rim of the tub. It was a gentle moment, but Bodie also knew the green eyes were carefully cataloguing each and every bruise visible. To distract him, Bodie said, "Strange how much I like calling you that."
"Calling me what?"
"Nah, it's just like my sister told me once -- you're the only one who gets to call me that."
Made sense. In the Met Doyle had other partners, throughout his life he'd had scores of friends and a slightly smaller number of lovers. He'd even lived with a woman once in his art school days. Bodie was the only one he'd married. "So what am I?"
Bodie wrinkled his nose. "Too clinical."
"Then you're my husband."
Yes. He liked that notion. Still. "Maybe so, angelfish, but until I get the parts back that go with the title, you can say I'm your wife when we're in public." He was grateful Doyle had avoided calling him that in the wedding ceremony, and it made it easier to give him permission to do so now.
"All right. But I'll murder anyone who tries to call you Mrs Doyle."
That Bodie didn't fancy. "Too right you will. Right after I've finished with them."
Weeks slipped by and still no sign of Jamieson. It was as if the man had never existed. No one had given up hope of finding him, but it looked to be a long wait, which meant things had to start changing and decisions needed to be made. Still, Doyle wasn't quite prepared when Cowley called him into the office on the third-week anniversary of the transformation and dropped 4.5 in it up to his neck.
Doyle stared at Cowley in sheer horror. "You must be joking." Please, God, let him be joking.
But God wasn't listening. "I'm perfectly serious. Bodie did the security set-up before all of this happened, and I see no reason why he should not complete the operation."
That's because you didn't suffer through the Ponytail Incident. Bodie handled day-to-day womanhood with remarkable calm and poise. But the oddest things could cause him to go berserk. Like hair grooming hints from his well-meaning spouse. While it annoyed Bodie to no end, Doyle delighted in playing with the dark silk of Bodie's hair -- well, the daft sod loved playing with his curls, so why shouldn't he like fiddling with Bodie's hair? As sensible as this seemed to Doyle, such protests had only succeeded in accusations of vile collaboration with the hated enemy.
Knowing this, it had probably been stupidity in its most spectacular form to try to warn Bodie against pulling his hair back and up into a ponytail. It was not his base desire to prevent his own enjoyment of watching the hair rustle about -- though he did enjoy that -- but experience that had prompted the warning. Though he would have died rather than admit it -- and had burned any and all pictures he could get his hands on of the period in question -- he'd done his stint with long hair. He'd learned to his aggravation and some pain what a miserable thing a rubber band was to inflict on poor, unsuspecting hair.
Bodie had gone round the twist. He'd started with Doyle's cavemen ancestors' fondness for monkeys and worked his way through centuries of Doyle infamy and selfishness. By the time he got to the Victorian Era, Doyle had retreated into a nice meditative state, his mantra of "Yes, Bodie, whatever you say, Bodie" hiding the fact that he was no longer listening. That he had been proven painfully correct some hours later when Bodie had tried to remove the rubber band had done nothing to increase his popularity.
He did know, of course, that it was just Bodie's way of letting off steam. And if Bodie didn't have the right, who did? Still, he'd really rather not go through it again. What Cowley proposed seemed guaranteed to make the PT Incident seem like a minor snit.
"Mr Cowley." Nice start that. Nice and respectful. Unfortunately it only made the old buzzard look at him with suspicion. Shit. All right, do it the normal way. "It's a fucking formal dinner!"
"I am aware of that."
God give him strength. And a little help from all the Saints would be appreciated too. "In case it has missed your attention, Bodie is currently living in tatty jeans, baggy polonecks and trainers."
"I do have eyes, Doyle."
"If he supervises security at the dinner, he can't wear that."
"No, of course not. The idea is to blend with the crowd, not make a spectacle."
Doyle did not pull out his gun and shoot him. It was a close thing, but he did not do it. "Bodie will have to wear a dress."
"No, he will have to wear a gown."
Doyle rolled his eyes. "Well, that's all right then." He glared at Cowley. "There's no need to put him through that. I can handle things."
"Aye, you could, but am I to assign all of 3.7's future cases based on his current wardrobe choices?"
"It's not that simple and you know it."
"But it is just that simple, 4.5." Cowley sighed. "Bodie's entire sense of reality has been turned upside down. He needs to know that some things do not change, and one of them is that I don't play favourites when handing out the assignments. He started the operation, and he will finish it."
Doyle detected the faint whiff of Ross and her ilk behind that and said as much.
Cowley glared at him. "In this instance, I happen to agree with her. Then there is the matter of Bodie's future with CI5."
"What do you mean? Bodie was cleared for duty."
"Aye, internally, but the PM or the Home Secretary might have different views on the matter. There is still a great deal of prejudice against women in our line of work."
"He's not a woman," Doyle growled.
"Ach, I know that, but it is difficult to deny my eyes at times. How do you expect a handful of politicians to react?"
Doyle shifted uncomfortably. The PM didn't have any women on his senior staff, and Truesdale was a notorious womanizer with an equally well known disdain for their uses outside the bedroom. Or at least it was well known among those involved in government work. Both could object emotionally to Bodie serving as a Deputy and eventually co-Controller of CI5. Susan would have been up to such a fight, but he suspected Bodie would give up rather than go to battle with Whitehall, his sense of self too damaged to win even if he tried.
He sighed. "What do we do?"
"Put him to work. Right under their very noses. Show anyone who might think to challenge him that he can do his job as well as he ever could."
And that meant not pulling him off a high-profile security detail because he didn't want to dress appropriately. "Fine, have it your way. But you can take him shopping."
"I'll do no such thing. CI5 is a law enforcement agency, not a fashion house."
Oh, no. Doyle knew what was coming. "You'd never make him wear . . . ."
The black dress. Five years ago, when Susan had been the one assigned to oversee security at a Palace function, Cowley had been forced to fund a formal rig for the first female member of the A Squad. His budget having suffered the outrageous sting of women's evening wear, he'd decreed that 'the dress would be used to its full potential.' That translated as a very predictable wardrobe for CI5 women attending posh events. Now Bodie would join the ranks of those who had suffered it.
And he had the feeling he knew just who was going to have to deliver the news. Ah, well, it might be interesting to find out just which perversions Bodie thought Great Uncle Silas Doyle had indulged in. Maybe he'd even given Victoria herself a thrill. He lived in hope.
All in all, Bodie felt he'd taken the news rather well. He'd listened to Doyle explain the situation to him with complete calm. Of course he would attend the HS's charity dinner. He was fit for duty and it was his operation. Yes, he understood that meant he had to wear The Dress and all the trappings that went with it. No, he wasn't going to kill Doyle or make him sleep on the lumpy settee. Instead, he turned on his heel, went down to the gym and demolished the nearest punching bag with great enthusiasm. And if he alternately imposed the faces of Doyle, Cowley and every known designer of women's clothing over the bag, who could blame him?
When a cascade of sand marked the end of Chanel, he still felt the rage burning in his stomach, so he turned his attentions and his battered fists to a second, heavier bag, but Doyle was suddenly there, embracing Bodie, while also pinning his arms to his torso.
Bodie fought him, but Doyle used his greater weight to drag them both down to sit on the floor. Bodie did not cry. It all seemed too silly. Cry over a dress? Not such a big thing, was it? No, he didn't cry, but he shook. For over an hour he just sat there and shook. And all the while Doyle held him close.
The next night Doyle lay sprawled on the settee, his nose in a book, as Bodie got ready for the dinner. To the casual observer, Doyle might have looked like he was reading, but despite his best efforts, his brain refused to focus on the words in front of him.
Bodie had seemed fine since yesterday morning, but Doyle couldn't say the same of himself. He felt so fucking helpless. He'd stayed quietly in the background all day, but always close to hand as Bodie had gone through the last minute preparations. Although he'd had to meet with a grass while Bodie endured the fittings for the dress alterations.
He'd returned to HQ, handed the info on some pushers over to Stuart as it was tied up in an operation the man was already involved with, then had found Bodie posing for a new ID photo. The identification card it was affixed to read 'Andrea B. Doyle.'
Bodie had told him that he didn't want to feminize his own name, and since he was legally entitled to use Doyle's he'd opted for that compromise. Doyle had been both touched and saddened by the decision. First his body, then his name. How much could be taken from him before there was nothing left of Bodie?
Doyle sighed. He couldn't find a way to change Bodie back, and he had sincere doubts about whether or not he was even doing a decent job of helping Bodie deal with the problem.
For the moment, all he could do was a half-arsed performance of someone reading a book while he kept one ear cocked for any goings on in the bedroom. Didn't seem to be any problems. Bodie had got the knack of putting on a bra after the first few days, but it seemed that had been a minor accomplishment compared to his first encounter with a pair of sheer tights. There had been some very colourful language earlier and Doyle shuddered in sympathy. At least the job demanded function over form and flats, not high heels, were de rigeur for a CI5 agent on duty. That just left the make up. Bodie himself had known that he couldn't go barefaced without standing out in the crowd. He'd gone out earlier and bought himself a couple of muted eyeshadows and some subtle lipstick. Putting it on shouldn't be a problem -- at least not physically. They both had used make up (admittedly not this sort) before on undercover ops. But emotionally? This could prompt another reaction, and the first had nearly broken Doyle's heart.
Doyle looked up to see Bodie standing in the doorway. "Oh, my God," he whispered at the sight of him. Though high necked and of simple lines, the black satin dress featured a slit up the right side. It put the leg on display, but also ensured that the operative stuffed into the dress had a good range of motion. A matching short-waisted jacket with a silver weave through it added glamour to the outfit and did a grand job of hiding a shoulder holster. Despite all the jokes, it was an attractive and practical 'uniform'. And, Christ, did it suit Bodie.
He couldn't remember ever seeing a more beautiful woman but his stomach lurched as a single thought screamed through his mind -- I want my beautiful man back. Knowing it might not be possible, Doyle had tried very hard not to have such thoughts, but no longer. He ached with it, and just managed to keep the tears of need forming in his eyes.
"Do I look that bad?"
"What?" Doyle blinked, realising he'd been silent for too long. "No, love, you look stunning. Literally."
Bodie managed a smile, and Doyle walked over to him, then took his hand. He had to do it carefully, for several of the knuckles were bruised, angry scabs marking where skin had split as bare fists had stuck the punching bag over and over again. Been a ruddy miracle that no bones had broken. "Shouldn't have lost control like that," Bodie muttered. "Be hard to blend in with my hands looking like this."
Doyle slipped his arms around his love. "Anyone else would have been living in a rubber room, sweetheart. You're doing just fine."
"Maybe, but I should wear gloves."
"Fuck that, sweetheart. They're out of style for a bloke your age and would make the injuries worse. Besides, those satin-like things birds wear make pulling a gun tricky."
Bodie snorted. "As if I'll need to. More likely to up and die of boredom."
True enough, but he didn't want gloves on those torn up hands. Didn't want to think of Bodie hurting more than he had to all evening. "Humour me. No gloves."
"All right. No gloves." Bodie clung to him for a minute, then eased himself out of the embrace. "I have to go."
Mindful of the lipstick, Doyle kissed Bodie's cheek, then watched him leave.
He tried to get into his book and mind his own business. He really did. He lasted an hour. Then he threw the book across the room and stalked into the bedroom to change.
Everything was going well. The IRA had been exceptionally active recently and several notables had graced the guest list for the party, so CI5 had drawn the security assignment. It had been Bodie's turn to
co-ordinate the tedious details, then attend to make certain those details didn't fall apart in the execution. Was just the sort of job he hated -- bloody boring with the potential for disaster small, but not nonexistent.
He sighed and wished he dared snag a glass of champagne from the nearest tray. Might have even risked it if (a) the party wasn't benefitting the Home Secretary's pet charity, thus assuring that the man all of CI5 worked for was in attendance and, (b) he had any idea at all what his current alcohol tolerance might be.
Still, the boredom was almost welcome. It was familiar, and he had a desperate need for anything familiar. It helped him deal with things like how strange a dress felt. Despite the clinging tightness of the pantyhose, he felt like he was walking around with nothing on from the waist down. Be a right joke on him if he weren't, but not wanting to look like a total prat, he'd allowed himself the luxury of checking the state of his wardrobe only once.
But the weight of his gun under his left arm helped, as did adding to his list of interesting ways to kill his boss for making him put up with boring jobs. On the last stake out, he'd come up with 995, and he figured it shouldn't take much effort to break a thousand tonight.
His glance fell on Charlie, who was reaching for a glass of champagne. Bodie gave him an 'if I can't, you can't' scowl that stopped the other man in mid-motion. The other agent sighed, graced Bodie with a look that suggested a list of innovative ways of killing a Deputy Controller had just been started, then melted back into the crowd.
From time to time, he caught sight of Lucas, McCabe and Anson as well. They all had that equally bored, but vigilant look on their faces. The four agents, plus Bodie, were the sum total of CI5's actual presence, but Bodie'd also co-ordinated their efforts with MI5, plus a half dozen other organizations/ agencies responsible for various individuals in the crowd. And all security personnel were answering to him.
Bodie received status reports and kept his own eyes open. And that brought him to the subject of the semi-familiar. As a man, Bodie's looks had always commanded more than a small amount of attention
-- not all of it female. So it did not bother him to find himself the subject of many an appraising glance. It just felt odd to see the men doing it so openly, while the few women he guessed were interested eyed him subtly.
Then there was the Home Secretary. Peter Truesdale had undressed Bodie with his eyes at least a dozen times in the last hour, despite the fact that the man was married to a very lovely woman who was also present. And if Bodie didn't miss his guess, a rather gorgeous, willowy blonde who never seemed to be far from Truesdale also had a claim to the man.
When Charlie moved into view again, Bodie gave him a subtle 'come here when you can' hand signal. A minute slipped by, then Charlie appeared at his side. "May I have this dance?"
"Mind my hands," Bodie muttered, then let Charlie steer him out into the dance floor.
A waltz was playing, a simple enough step for Bodie to manage backwards, but he had to concentrate on the steps for at least half the piece. Finally, reasonably certain he wouldn't make a complete fool of himself, he turned his attention back to Charlie.
There was a great deal of mirth in the eyes gracing the handsome face, and Bodie had to resist a strong urge to tweak the bugger's mustache. "What's up?" Charlie asked.
"Have you seen the blonde hanging about Truesdale?"
"Hard to miss. A real looker that one."
"Chat her up. I want to know who she is."
"My pleasure," Charlie assured him, bowed his thanks, then went off on his mission.
Before Bodie could get clear of the dance floor, another voice asked him to dance. He turned to give his admirer a polite but firm no thanks, but discovered the man in question was Truesdale.
Got tired of ogling me from across the room, did you? No, ogling wasn't the right word. Truesdale was making him feel more like a bug under a microscope than a desirable woman. Well, the best way to find out what was going on was to play along. "Very well, but --" he gasped in pain as the Home Secretary gripped his hand.
There was a glint in the man's eye that said he'd done it on purpose, but he was all solicitude, "I'm so sorry, Miss . . . ."
It being unlikely that the man had overlooked Bodie's wedding ring, he decided he was being baited. "I'm married," he answered with complete politeness.
"Oh? How silly of me not to notice."
There was a smug, all-knowing air about the man that made Bodie certain that Truesdale knew who he really was. But Bodie was equally certain his father had stuck to his promise and hadn't yet informed the higher ups about Bodie's current condition. "All in good time," Cowley had said. And though the old man could be a lying, scheming bastard, there was no reason to have done so in this case. So how could Truesdale know? No one outside of CI5 was supposed to, but people did talk. Still, if there were rumours going round, the press should have been all over the place. Walking tabloid dream, he was. The only thing he could think of was that Cowley had told him and hadn't got around to informing Bodie he'd done so.
His musings were cut off when Truesdale pulled him closer -- too close for Bodie's comfort. He tried to restore the distance politely, but Truesdale's grip on his hand tightened, sending a wave of pain twisting up his arm. It prompted Bodie to give serious consideration to kneeing the bastard in the groin, but he was the boss. A designation Bodie had to repeat when he found himself all but plastered against the man.
He could feel the swell of an erection forming against his belly, and it infuriated him. Krivas had been like this, always getting off on the little games he played at Bodie's expense, but Bodie was long past the time when he was intimidated by such nonsense. He lifted his foot, then brought it down onto Truesdale's with enough force to make the man grunt. "Next time I break it," he hissed.
Before the Home Secretary could react, a second, soft voice growled, "Let go of my wife."
Truesdale released him instantly, a threat from a man obviously something that didn't require any thought. That . . . irritated Bodie. Almost as much as the air of proprietorship Doyle displayed as he took hold of Bodie's elbow and guided him off the dance floor.
Hours later, Doyle sat in the passenger seat of the silver Capri and waited for the storm to break. Knowing he'd want to go home with Bodie, he'd taken a mini-cab to the party. Unfortunately, he hadn't considered the fact that he might put his foot well in it and want the safety of his own motor to retreat to. He couldn't quite figure out why he'd done it. Even as he'd approached them and realised that Truesdale was virtually molesting Bodie, he'd been able to see that Bodie had the situation well in hand.
But he'd still moved in, no more able to stop himself than he'd been able to stay out of the gym when he'd thought that yowl of pain had been Bodie's. He sighed heavily, then decided the silence between them had stretched long enough. "If nothing else, love, this whole thing has given me some insight into why you always rush to protect me."
Bodie didn't answer at first, and Doyle feared the silent treatment would continue. But Bodie finally said, "It is hard not to go storming in. Always knew you could handle yourself, but . . . ."
Reasonably certain that his hand wouldn't be mangled, he reached over and caressed Bodie's arm. "Yeah, but." He risked drawing the hand resting on the gear shift up for a quick kiss. "I promise I'll try to keep my temper in check when you're back to your butch, dragon-fighting self."
"Think I may have learned a few things myself. Try to leave a few dragons for you in the future."
That edge of doubt Bodie's voice had carried whenever he'd talked about the possibility of reversing things was gone, and that cheered Doyle, even if his own doubts on that score were growing.
They got home, undressed and Bodie washed off the makeup. When they climbed into bed, Bodie came easily into his arms, all sins apparently forgiven. Knowing that in the past, when Bodie had come charging to his 'rescue', Doyle had made him squirm for far longer, he concentrated more on Bodie's pleasure than his own.
He brought his love to orgasm three times before his own need threatened to consume him. "Take what you need, angelfish," Bodie purred in his ear. "Want to feel you in me."
Doyle jerked open the bedside drawer, then his hand groped around seeking the means for his relief and closed on a foil packet.
He pulled it out, then fumbled with the foil, trying to get it open. But even in a haze of desire he felt Bodie stiffen beneath him. It did not strike Doyle as a sexual response.
"Bodie," he gasped, shaking with need. "What's wrong?"
"Nothing." The packet was plucked from his hand, torn open with ease by very steady fingers, then those fingers put the condom on Doyle. He'd seen Bodie clean his gun with more passion.
"Get on with it, Ray," Bodie told him, wrapping his legs around Doyle's hips.
Lack of enthusiasm was not something Doyle frequently encountered in his bed, especially when this man was involved, but Bodie was unmistakably doing the 'lie back and think of England' bit.
"What's wrong?" he repeated through gritted teeth.
With a groan, Doyle pulled away, then flopped onto his back, his arm over his eyes. He willed his throbbing flesh to cool and succeeded enough to manage a few coherent thoughts. For instance, it did not miss his attention that Bodie had not said or done a thing since he'd pulled away.
Doyle stripped the rubber from his wilted cock, then glared at the ceiling. "What did I do?"
"God dammit, Bodie, you --" At the last second, reason silenced Doyle. He'd been about to say that looking like a woman didn't mean Bodie had to be as aggravating as one. That would get him the fight he hadn't wanted earlier, not an answer.
He sighed. "Bodie, why won't you tell me what's wrong?"
"Why do you keep going on about something being wrong? You wanted to fuck me, and I spread my legs. No problem. Nothing wrong."
That time of the month, is it? Oh, fuck. He sighed, realising he'd have to purchase yet another set of supplies. "Bodie, I have a gun, and I'm contemplating using it."
"You would have known what was wrong before this happened."
Oh, God. He'd just been hit with 'if you really loved me, I wouldn't have to tell you.' Life just wasn't fair. "I can't believe you said that."
He opened his mouth, whether to protest or make a sarky reply he never knew, for it suddenly occurred to him that, yes, it was true. Twenty-three days ago, he probably would have known.
Shifting over onto his side, he propped himself up on an elbow and looked down at Bodie's troubled face. It was hauntingly familiar, yet utterly different all at the same time. The small visual cues that had always told Doyle what Bodie was thinking were softened by the feminine lines to an extent that it was difficult to know the subtle emotions that existed between a mild sulk and deep depression. "A lot has changed in the last few weeks."
Bodie didn't try to deny it, but the sorrow Doyle could see in his eyes deepened. "I'm not the only one who's changed."
Ah ha! "Tell me, sweetheart."
There was a short silence, then, "You never used to call me 'sweetheart.'"
Eh? "You don't like it?"
"Like it fine, but I would have liked it just as much a month ago."
He decided to damn himself and admit the truth. "Guess I think it sounds silly to call a man that."
"That the same reason you never thought to tell me I had beautiful eyes?"
"Liked that, did you?"
Bodie nodded. "A person tends to do what a person wants done. I like to touch. I like poetry, go on about your eyes all the time, but you never talked about mine until this happened."
He stopped, but Doyle could tell there was something else. "Go on."
"You . . . you haven't fucked me once."
The sheer outrageousness of that astounded Doyle. "I've fucked you every single night," he protested.
"Have you?" Bodie got out of bed abruptly, then left the room. A minute later, Doyle heard the sound of water running into the kettle.
Doyle sat up in the bed, but didn't follow. He'd missed something, and as he backtracked through the conversation the penny dropped. He got up, put on his robe, picked up Bodie's, then went into the kitchen.
Bodie stood in front of the kettle, watching it as if he thought that would make the water heat faster. He didn't respond when Doyle wrapped the towelling robe around him.
Doyle left his arms in place, hugging the silent figure. "You're worried I prefer you as a woman."
It was a logical assumption. Though bisexual all his life, Doyle had generally favoured women -- at least until he met Bodie. He'd fought the attraction, wanting a wife and kids, but he'd loved Bodie too much to not surrender thoughts of a 'normal life' for him. Now, he held his wife in his arms; a wife who could give him children. He'd told Bodie that the decision to have those children would be Bodie's, not his. Yet he'd focused his love-making on an act of conception and a part not natural to his love's body. All while Bodie knew of Doyle's long-stated fondness for anal sex, no matter what the sex of his partner.
It seemed that in trying to assure Bodie that his new body did not change things, he'd made him fear just the opposite.
"'m sorry, pet," he whispered, deliberately using his old love name for Bodie. "I got it all wrong, when I was just trying to tell you I love you."
Bodie didn't answer, so Doyle gently turned him back so he could see into the blue eyes.
"I am desperately, hopelessly in love with what's behind here," he whispered, his lips brushing against Bodie's forehead. "You turn into a gorilla, I move to the jungle and learn how to swing from trees."
Bodie smiled slightly, prompting Doyle to kiss the beautiful mouth. It was a risk to say the rest. They might never find Jamieson, and even if they did, it might still not be possible to restore Bodie. Yes, the words might come back to haunt him, yet he felt Bodie needed to hear them. Doyle sighed and made his decision. "But if it comes down to our having a choice in the matter, I want my fella back."
I want my fella back. Throughout the next day Bodie repeated the words over and over in his mind, almost sick with relief. He'd grown terrified that Doyle wouldn't want that, while at the same time he'd come to the inescapable conclusion that he could not tolerate remaining a woman. Or at least, he couldn't tolerate being in a body so radically different from his own. Yesterday morning, both notions would have depressed the hell out of him, but he was now more than reasonably certain this would be the last day he would spend in this form.
He and Doyle had split up as soon as they'd arrived at HQ. It was Doyle's turn to accompany Cowley to a meeting with the Prime Minister, while Bodie had to debrief his team from last night. That task and a few unexpected crises kept Bodie busy, but he'd managed to ask his father a quick question before Cowley had left for his meeting.
The expected answer encouraged his suspicions.
The sun was setting before he found time to chat with Charlie about the woman.
"Didn't get much, Bodie," Charlie told him. "Name's Charlotte Westmore. From the States, probably the Midwest by her accent. Definitely had that 'I'm taken' air to her, and I'd guess Truesdale is the taker."
"Nothing but an impression. Last name may be Westmore, but I wouldn't lay bets on the Charlotte part."
"About two years ago, Anson set me up on a blind date. Set up being the key phrase." Charlie smiled slightly. "Tall, beautiful, ultra feminine, should have been a dream come true, but there was something off." He shrugged. "Can't get my ruddy partner to believe me, but I really wasn't surprised when my date turned out to be a female impersonator. Charlotte gave me that same 'off' feeling."
Two hours later, Bodie pulled the Capri off a country road and parked behind some bushes. Using the glow of the quarter moon above to guide him, he quickly covered the mile separating his car from his goal -- the estate of Peter Truesdale.
For months, one question had burned brightly in the minds of CI5's finest -- how was Jamieson eluding them? For a man without friends or connections it should have been impossible. That he had managed it and built an elaborate laboratory bordered on the miraculous. The obvious answer was that, despite appearances, he did have connections. That someone had to be helping him.
Last night Truesdale had come off like a man highly amused by a secret. He'd also acted as if he'd known precisely who Bodie was. This morning Cowley had assured him he had told no one outside of CI5. The lack of attention from the press had indicated there'd been no general indiscretion among CI5's rank and file. And outside of CI5 the only person who knew what had happened was Jamieson.
And who could better protect a wanted fugitive than the man the heads of all the internal security organizations reported to?
That had left the why. It made perfect sense if Charlie had been right -- if Charlotte were a man and Truesdale's lover. The procedure had been a test, an experiment with Bodie as the guinea pig. Jamieson's ire against CI5 and Cowley had made the selection of test subject obvious.
All supposition, dislike for Truesdale, and pure hunch -- until he'd checked the power bill for the estate. The charges for the manor were never small, but after Jamieson had disappeared, Truesdale had started owing a small fortune for his electric usage. The lab was on the grounds. Bodie had his money on the cellar.
He fancied he could feel a pull as he neared the manor. Almost as if the rest of his body were calling to him. But he didn't let it distract him. An elaborate security system protected the immediate grounds about the manor and the structure itself.
Bodie had carefully studied all he could on that system, he'd even done more than his share of catman operations, but it didn't really surprise him when he found himself facing two large men with guns only moments after he entered through a back window.
Out-muscled, his own gun still in his shoulder holster, he had no choice but to surrender and raised his hands accordingly. They marched him down the back stairs, into the cellar, then through a hidden door in the back wall and down another flight of stairs.
Truesdale and Jamieson were waiting for him in the lab.
"You knew I was coming," Bodie stated the obvious as Tweedledum handed Truesdale Bodie's gun.
Bodie was not overly surprised when Tweedledee began relieving Bodie of his clothing. At best they'd want to examine him, but, if last night was any indication, Truesdale had additional plans.
"The cameras picked you up when you were still a half-mile from the house," the Home Secretary answered.
"I take it you modified the security schematics you filed with CI5."
"It is never wise to allow the opposition to have current information."
The shoulder holster eliminated, Tweedledee pulled Bodie's black poloneck over his head. The hated bra quickly followed.
The bared breasts attracted Truesdale's hands like a magnet, the bastard actually pushing his henchmen aside in his haste to get to them. His touch was full of anger, his fingers twisting Bodie's flesh until he cried out it pain. With a triumphant snarl, he shifted his attentions to Bodie's trousers, jerking them open and down with a force that ripped even the heavy material.
"Peter, this isn't a good idea," Jamieson warned even as Truesdale threw Bodie onto an examination table. "It might damage the rest of the experiment."
"Shut up, Frederick!" He growled, bared his erection, then entered Bodie with one brutal thrust.
Bodie felt his flesh rip, blood oozing from the wounds, while the weight pressing down on him felt suffocating. Nothing had ever touched him less. Truesdale's hands and cock raped parts created out of thin air, parts that had no reality in Bodie's body. It hurt, of course, just as Doyle's love making had aroused, but neither pain nor pleasure could reach him emotionally. It was almost as if he were watching it happen to someone else. He felt nothing. Not even satisfaction when the pathetic bastard lost his erection after the first few thrusts.
Truesdale backhanded him across the mouth, splitting his lip, then scrambled away from him. He stared at Bodie with eyes full of hate, his chest heaving from his exertions. "I want her dead," he hissed, then whirled on Tweedledum. "Did you hear me, kill the little cunt!"
Jamieson tried once again to come to Bodie's rescue. "Peter, calm down and think! How will we know Charlotte can survive this if we terminate the experiment prematurely?"
For a few seconds it seemed to work, for Truesdale did indeed get control of himself, but his opinion of Bodie's fate remained unchanged for he said, "No, no more experiment. Charlotte can just take her chances. Kill her."
Jamieson must have hired the two henchmen for they both looked to the scientist for instructions, their attention and their weapons no longer focused on their prisoner.
Deciding he'd stalled as long as he dared, Bodie used that moment to launch himself from the table. Smaller, lighter and injured, he couldn't afford to prat around and went straight for the man who had taken his gun. Tweedledee almost looked amused. Perhaps he thought Bodie would attempt to scratch his eyes out in a last act of defiance.
Bodie planted himself, then spun, sending a roundhouse kick deep into the big man's stomach.
Tweedledee collapsed forward, his motion all but delivering the Browning back to its owner's hands. A quick jerk freed the weapon from the thug's waistband and Bodie brought it up, then fired twice, catching Tweedledum in the heart. Tweedledee grabbed for his gun, but another double tap of Bodie's trigger blew the fool's head apart.
That just left the politician and the scientist. Before either could say anything stupid about his never getting away, the alarms went off. Having expected the sound, Bodie was the only one who didn't jump.
"Shut down the security system. All of it," he ordered, his eyes narrowed.
"CI5 to the rescue, it seems," Truesdale said. "Clever."
Speaking of stupid things to say -- of course he hadn't come alone. Had the man thought him dumb muscle or did he just think of women as unintelligent?
"But your gas will take care of them, Frederick."
The elimination of which being the reason Bodie had gone in alone and let himself be taken so easily. But he'd had to make his move too soon. He didn't know how to disable it or even where the relevant controls were. "Shut it down."
"No, you're going to going to let us walk out of here or your friends will die. After all, you can't kill us or you will never be a man again."
Bodie looked at him, then shot him in the right knee.
With a scream of pain, Truesdale tumbled to the floor, clutching at the ruined leg.
The man's continuing screams a powerful underscore, Bodie trained his gun on Jamieson and said, "There is a tremendous distance between being shot and dying. Shall we explore it?"
Pale, shaking, the scientist shook his head. "All right, I'll do it." He flipped a series of switches, and a row of indicator lights went from green to red.
CI5 hit the estate en masse thirty minutes after Bodie had abandoned the Capri. To Doyle the wait felt more like thirty hours, and he could tell by the paleness of Cowley's face that it was equally hard on the Controller. More than once Doyle had forced himself not to reach out, not to reassure with a touch. There were others around, making such sentiment out of place, but he could have used a bit of reassurance himself.
When the agreed-upon time arrived, ten agents moved in, hard and fast, their attention devoted solely to armed guards and not to more elaborate safeguards. Bodie had either eliminated them or not. They had no chance of avoiding all the triggers.
Doyle concentrated on getting to the manor. Only two guards got between him and his goal. He killed them both. Head shots at close range. Quick and certain kills. Once inside, he shot the next obstacle in the shoulder of his gun arm, then suggested that if he wanted to keep the rest of his limbs in one piece that he tell Doyle where the lab was. "Cellar," came the answer, then Doyle cuffed him to a heavy piece of furniture.
The cellar did not look promising when Doyle walked down into it, but before he could decide that he'd been duped, he heard screaming. From the back wall. A false door then. He used a grenade to open it.
He didn't wait for the dust to clear, just rushed down the stairs and found his love waiting for him, alive but bloodied and bruised. No mistaking what had happened. "Which one?" he demanded through gritted teeth.
"It doesn't matter," Bodie told him. "Won't have a scratch if he puts me back the way I was."
Doyle's furious gaze settled on Jamieson. "Then he'd best get to it."
The scientist trembled visibly, then fought to get the words out, "I . . . don't know that I can. It may not be possible for the nervous system to endure a second transformation shock."
Lose Bodie? No, he couldn't risk that. "Bodie?"
"Got to be myself, angelfish," he answered.
"Is it worth dying for?"
"No, but it's worth risking it."
Doyle felt sick, but it was Bodie's decision. It had to be. "I love you," he whispered.
"Love you more." Bodie took off his wedding ring. With luck it would soon be much too small for him. "Take care of my dad for me?"
"Promise." That and one to himself that Jamieson wouldn't outlive his victim by a full second.
Bodie turned his attention to Jamieson. "Let's get on with it."
Doyle could do nothing more than keep his gun ready as he watched Jamieson help Bodie into the glass cylinder. "What about Bodie's missing mass?"
"It's stored as pure energy within the device. It will be restored," the scientist answered. Switches were flipped, knobs turned, then a final button pushed. Light flooded the cylinder. Then Bodie screamed.
Bodie slid gratefully between the sheets of his bed and settled back against the pillow. Though tired, his body felt whole, male and gloriously familiar.
Chandler and the CI5 doc had given him a clean bill of health -- provided he rested for a few days. Truesdale was in the hospital under guard, while Jamieson merely languished in the local knick. Charlotte, or rather Charles Westmore was in a CI5 interrogation room under the tender care of Jax and Susan. If he kept his head, Westmore would probably escape prosecution, and Bodie wasn't quite certain that the man deserved anything less.
He supposed Ross and her fellow trick-cyclists would have a marvellous time probing through the whole mess, but Bodie had his own theory. He reckoned Truesdale was gay and unable to accept it when he fell in love with a transvestite. Jamieson needed capital and protection while he conducted experiments no reputable university or corporation would sanction. A match made in hell, a hell that Bodie had been drawn into. Charles would have been next to transform, then probably to die as Truesdale found he wanted a man, not a woman. A strong sense of pity laced Bodie's contempt for the former Home Secretary. All of this, and he still wouldn't have found his Holy Grail.
Cowley's hand touched his face, drawing Bodie's attention. "How are you feeling, son?"
Bodie smiled and couldn't resist answering, "Like your son."
"Aye, I can see that," Cowley jested, but his voice was gentle as was the caress of his hand.
"Dad, you have no shame," he scolded him.
"None at all." Cowley stood up. "You should get some sleep. Four days off, then I expect you in my office fit for duty."
Cowley started toward the door, stopped, turned back to his son, then kissed him on the forehead. "It's good to have you back, boy," he whispered, then left the room.
Bodie smiled. It seemed some things were not back to normal. He approved. He heard the muffle of voices, the front door open and close, then a minute later Doyle walked into the room. His poor golly still looked a little pale around the edges. Bodie had come round to find himself clutched tightly in Doyle's arms, the slender body trembling. Bodie hadn't thought to warn him about the inevitable scream. Though it irked Bodie to no end that he'd still come out with it when he'd known what to expect. He'd thought himself made of sterner stuff than that, but then again, something was nagging at him, something shock had chased from his thoughts.
Doyle settled on the edge of the bed. "I've got something for you."
"Anson searched the lab, found your clothes and this," Doyle opened his hand, revealing the wedding ring Jamieson had originally taken from him.
Bodie held out his hand and let Doyle slip it in place. "The other ring, do you still have it?"
"In my pocket."
"Good, may not be able to wear it, but I want to keep it." It was after all the ring over which Doyle has said his legal vows.
"Mushy, Bodie," Doyle teased him, but there was a brightness in his eyes that told Bodie he was touched. "I'll just put it in the drawer here until you decide what to do with it."
"Can get something out while you're in there," Bodie said as Doyle set the ring inside.
Doyle gave him an odd look -- half hopeful, half-disapproval. "None of that, sweetheart. You need to sleep."
"Not until I've had some loving."
"Doc says you need to rest," Doyle said, a stubborn look settling on his gorgeous face.
Bodie fought dirty. He reached out, encircling Doyle's arms, caressing them with his thumbs. "Please, Ray. 's going to sound silly, but I feel like you haven't touched me in weeks. Feel starved for it."
Doyle sighed. "'s not silly. Just not a good idea."
That might have discouraged Bodie were it not for the familiar signs of desire in the flush of Doyle's skin, the flash of his eyes. "Please."
"All right. But I do all the work," he said, standing up and quickly stripping off his clothes.
Bodie watched the much-loved body being bared, his own cock rising in appreciation. And that felt so good, so normal that he laughed with joy.
"What's so funny?"
"Just enjoying life, husband mine," he said holding out his hand. "Now come here and give your own husband the loving he needs."
"Oh, my pleasure," Doyle purred, stretching out on top of Bodie. For a moment he lay against Bodie. "Missed this. Missed cuddling up to all this solid muscle. Such a turn on when you surrender all your power to my care."
"Like it when you take care of me," he answered, playing with auburn curls. Both were fiercely protective of the other, and if Bodie's gorgons tended to be more emotional than the often physical threats to Doyle, the balance of their partnership dealt with any and all comers. Even a madman with access to a machine out of the late, late show. "Wouldn't have made it through without you."
"Glad it's mutual. Don't even want to try to make it without you." He kissed Bodie, then murmured "My beautiful husband."
"Make love to me, Ray."
With a rumble in his throat that sounded a cross between a hum and a purr, Doyle kissed him again, then turned his attention to Bodie's jaw. "Need a shave," he murmured approvingly between little licks and kisses. He shifted his mouth to Bodie's neck, nuzzling the usual spots but giving his Adam's apple a few kisses as well.
Hands explored the smooth contours of Bodie's chest and a hungry mouth fixed on nipples that were smaller than they had been the day before but no less sensitive. Bodie began to moan.
The kisses moved quickly down his torso, then stopped. "Oh, love, I was so afraid I'd never get to see your beautiful cock again."
"Can do more than look if you like."
Doyle smiled, then teased the tip of the weeping flesh with his tongue. "Mmmm, still taste a treat. I want to suck you off, sweetheart."
"Just as long as you fuck me for afters," Bodie groaned, arching up toward the tormenting lips.
"Can count on that." Doyle took Bodie's cock into his mouth, then began to suck and lick in turns, all while his clever fingers played with furry balls.
Bodie came hard and fast, shouting his pleasure as Doyle drank greedily. Flying high, it took Bodie a few moments to come back to himself, then he found Doyle watching him with appreciation and hunger in his large green eyes. "How do you want me?" he asked, more than ready to feel Doyle inside him.
"Not in the mood for acrobatics, shift over onto your side," Doyle told him, nuzzling his throat, then the back of his neck as Bodie turned.
Lubed fingers opened him, then Doyle pushed into him, and Bodie moaned in greeting. If felt so good. The way it was supposed to be. "Oh, Christ, Ray, you feel so wonderful. Make it last, sunshine. Stay in me forever."
"God, Bodie, you're so tight and hot. Love you so much. Love you." Doyle thrust with long, slow strokes, and Bodie felt his own cock twitch again, then harden as Doyle began to caress it.
They came at almost the same moment, Bodie's seed spilling over Doyle's hand, Doyle's flowing up into Bodie's body unimpeded by the hated condoms.
So nice. So beautiful. He was practically purring as Doyle turned him around, then settled him against his chest. He could feel the semen trickling from him, a welcome dampness to replace the unreality of blood escaping a ripped vagina. One ripped in disregard to the rest of the experiment.
The rest of the experiment. Bodie remembered the words and thought again how odd they had sounded. Then he remembered what the transformation shock had blocked. Remembered why he'd screamed: In that one moment when he'd had that sense of knowing every cell in his body, he'd realised he had not been alone. He'd been pregnant. In the restoration of his self, he had lost the life growing inside him.
Safe in Doyle's arms, a man once more, Bodie finally gave in and cried.
-- THE END --