Full Circle


A Professionals/ The Chief crossover. No copyright infringement intended against original owners of the characters used in this story. Rated NC17 for adult situations, graphic depictions of sexual activities between persons of the same gender and violence . NO MINORS ALLOWED.

** WARNING** Death of a major character. Bodie. No attempts to hide it -- after all, without it, there would be no story.


It had been sixteen years since the last time he had seen the man, almost twenty since he had worked with him. He hadn't changed much. Still a bull in a china shop, powered by the strength of his convictions and holding his ideals up as an impenetrable shield to deflect the ire of his enemies. Edges sharp enough to cut, smile rare but lethal, eyes like malachite chips in a set, stern face. And always, underneath the stone and steel, a fire for justice unlike any he had ever seen. DCI Cade hadn't mellowed any in his transition to Chief Constable.

He had shared that fire, once. No longer. It had been quenched with blood nine years before. And in its place grew darkness, and purpose, born in blood, fed with blood, destined to shed blood in remembrance of and with vengeance for blood.

He missed Bodie.

He missed his soul.

Ray Doyle slipped further into the enfolding shadow of the underbrush at the edge of the ancient estate and carefully lifted the binoculars back to his narrowed eyes. He was hunting, and while the man he watched through the glass of the upper floor window wasn't his prey, he was a tool. An excellent tool. It was a long, torturous route that had led him to this place and this man, but he could feel the curl of anticipation in the pit of his stomach and knew that his final target, his first target, was finally within range. And his old colleague would help him bring the bastard down.

His immediate quarry finished speaking into the telephone receiver, then replaced it, standing with his hand resting on the cradled handset, staring into the distance beyond the glass. For a moment, Doyle feared that he had been spotted, but when the still figure remained in position, he decided the fear had been groundless. Cade was good, but he wasn't that good. And Doyle had had a lot of practice blending into darkness.

As he watched, the dark head tilted forward, as if it was too heavy to hold upright on the square shoulders. Broad shoulders in fine grey wool slumped, obvious even from the distance, before Cade pulled himself upright with deliberate movements. Whatever he'd heard on the telephone hadn't been good news. One hand rose to the glass, fingers splayed, and Doyle was irresistibly reminded of a caged bear trying to escape, knowing escape was impossible, unable to resist the attempt. The hand lingered, then slipped away, and Cade turned from the window and disappeared into the depth of the room. Deprived of his opportunity to watch, Doyle scooped up his pack and began to edge his way around the wood, heading toward the front drive to wait for Cade there. It wouldn't be long, now. All he had to do was stay in the shadows.

He should have seen it coming. When the call had come, Wes had told him that she had disappeared in Amsterdam, and he had known what it really meant. Maria was dead. Her enemies had finally caught up with her, and her determination to live her life in defiance of those who would silence her had been her death sentence. Now it was confirmed. Auto accident, 'probable drugs involvement.' Even in death the petty dictators she had fought to expose through her writing were seeking to blacken her name, tarnish her reputation. As if their lies could ever obliterate her truth.

He had cried, then, finding refuge in the soft rain outside his friend's country home, fighting the sense of loss and guilt and remorse and anger that had threatened to consume him. Thoughts had beaten at him -- he shouldn't have let her leave, should have forced her to remain in England, should have made her want to stay. Shouldn't have fallen in love. Knew it was going to end, and end badly. Didn't it always? Wasn't he always left, standing in the rain, disguising his tears, alone? But in a corner of his heart there had been a flicker of hope, that she was in hiding, had managed to escape her pursuers, had friends who would hide her and protect her as he had not been able to do. As she had not allowed him. That flicker died with a silent whimper at the solemn voice from Brussels, speaking softly in French, confirming that the dental records of the corpse found in the burnt out Ford on the outskirts of Merkplas did indeed show that the body had once been a writer and political outcast named Maria Romero.

He couldn't cry now.

He had work to do.

In the small corner of his heart that he refused to acknowledge, the whimper grew to a scream.

Superintendent Penfold knew as soon as she saw her boss' eyes that something was very wrong. The set features were in their habitual no-nonsense expression, but in the back of his jade eyes there was pain, barely held back. As he accepted the folder from her outstretched hand and went forward to brief the gathered detectives, she looked askance at him. Silently, he shook his head, an almost imperceptible movement that caused her to immediately back off. Whatever it was, it was private, and this was neither the time nor the place. And if Rose Penfold had learned anything in her fight to make her place in a man's world, it was that time and place were everything.

Settling alertly at his side, she looked out over the gathering. Two score detectives from home station in Norwich as far away as the International and Organized Crime Drugs Task Force from the Met. Heroin was making a comeback, slipping in under cover of darkness along the coast from Cromer to Aldeburgh. This time it was coming with particularly nasty backing, and with a high exchange rate. Drugs for guns, guns for cash, cash for more drugs. Tentacles were reaching across the north sea and onto and beyond the Continent. Terrorists, or freedom fighters, or madmen, whatever face they wore depended on the person applying the label, but they were on an international supply run from Ankara to London, via Chisinau in Moldavia and Zagreb in Croatia and Kaliningrad in Russia, stopping over for a boost in Warsaw, Berlin, Amsterdam before invading the shores of their island home. And the trickle was becoming a flood. Every enforcement agency in Britain was getting itchy, just knowing that it wouldn't be long before the Ulster lads had their finger in the pie, if it wasn't up to the first knuckle already.

Cade cleared his throat and glanced briefly at the papers in his hands, pulling his mind forcefully to the matters at hand. His shoreline was a bloody sieve, and something had to be done about it, now. Putting jurisdictional jealousy and agency pissing contests aside, kids were dying -- and a hell of a lot more of them would be dead very soon if they couldn't stop the leaks. His emphasis had always been on prevention, on catching the pushers, and his critics had decried him as being 'soft on drugs' because his target was the dealer, not primarily the user. But they were wrong. He hated pushers with a passion he reserved for the worst scum on earth. He'd lost friends to poison, had watched kids burn themselves out on it. It wasn't as it had been when he was a kid himself, and experimenting. The stuff on the streets now was meant to kill, and kill it did. And until they -- he -- could stop it, it would go on killing.

"Good afternoon. I trust you've all had the opportunity to read through the briefing packet. The details are in there, but the short of it is simple. Terrorists are using unprotected stretches of shore to smuggle weapons and mass amounts of heroin and cocaine into the country. The Eastland Constabulary has done the preliminary investigative work, but we've neither the manpower nor the budget for an operation this size, and the infusion of guns and drugs has had consequences from here to London. It's relatively early days, but we expect it to accelerate rapidly. Interagency cooperation is a must. Starting here, starting with everyone in this room. We will work out our strategy to deal with this mess over the next three days, then disperse to our home bases and attack the problem on all fronts."

As he spoke, the men and women gradually straightened and leaned forward, drawn in by the intensity of his voice. He paced forward, decreasing the distance between speaker and audience, asking for and receiving suggestions and comments as he went through the tangle of difficulties in the case. The meeting wore on, first one officer then another putting in his comments, until throats grew hoarse and logic became circular. Through it all Cade guided, prodded, or restrained the conversational free-for-all. He never allowed the primary focus to slip, the need to capture the pushers insistent in his words. By the time they called a halt for the night a basic framework had been hammered out, tasks were allotted to those with the necessary strengths, and the majority of the soft spots were backed up. He sighed with relief as the detectives wandered from the room, speaking animatedly in groups of three or four. No major territorial skirmishes that hadn't been avoided, no short tempers he hadn't been able to diffuse, and the groundwork was in place. The next two days would fill in the blanks, and with some hard work and determination they would have these bastards.

"Calling it a night, sir?"

Superintendent Penfold's crisp voice called his wandering thoughts back. "Yes, Rose. The first hurdle's down. The rest of the course should be easier." He hoped.

She smiled at him, that one-sided twist of the lips that almost always drew an answering smile from him. Tonight, his lips didn't move. He felt numb, cut off, as if having lost the adrenaline rush from directing the task force he was too tired to keep up the effort at normalcy. She noticed, and cocked her head in mute inquiry.

"Ready to brave the ravening horde for your supper, then?" Maybe he'd open up to her over something to eat.

He took a deep breath, unable to stop the small shudder that ran through him. "I'll--" He'd been about to tell her he'd join her at the buffet laid out in the dining hall below them, but suddenly realized that he just couldn't do it. He needed privacy, now. The cracks were starting, and he was half afraid of what he would find behind them. "I think I'll skip dinner. I've ... some files to go through. I'm not very hungry. You go ahead."

She stared at him for a brief moment, then nodded slowly. Not time yet. Might never be. As she gave him a smile over her shoulder and headed down the stairs, she reminded herself all over again that he didn't feel the way she did, that he never had and probably never would. But it didn't stop her from caring, and it couldn't stop her from hurting for him.

Cade watched the trim figure disappear out the door with mixture of relief and something close to fear. He really didn't want to be alone. Didn't want to think. Certainly didn't want to feel. But he didn't have any choice. He had shut it down too often and too firmly to be able to share it now, and no one else would understand how completely and utterly alone he was.

He turned to the window, watching the sunset painting the sky a vivid red, and bit his lip, tasting blood.

Nodding pleasantly at the harried desk clerk, Doyle gathered up his easel, paint kit and duffel bag and shouldered his way through the crowd toward the stairway. None of the people milling about the lobby paid much attention to the scruffy figure in worn blue jeans and soft leather jacket, long curly hair pulled back in a queue at his nape and held in place with a braided thong. Casual but professional once-overs catalogued him as an aging artist-hippie type, not all that uncommon since the local landscape had been luring painters since Constable's time. They might have noted the single, wide streak of pure white running through the auburn curls above his right eye, accenting the odd cant to his cheekbone from some long ago break, or the unusual fluidity of his movements as he crossed the floor, but Doyle was as adept at hiding in plain sight as he was blending into shadows, and no undue notice was taken. As he cut through the crowd snippets of quiet conversation came to his ears, and his eyes narrowed. It sounded like it was going to be a big haul, when the curtain came up, and he mentally crossed his fingers that one relatively small fish would escape the net. He had his own line in the water. And that small fish was his raison detre. The one who started it all. By ending his partner's life.

Swinging the door shut behind him, closing off his little room from the bustle in the hall behind him, he settled his gear on the single bed and sank onto the soft mattress. He had been running for a very long time, and he was beginning to feel the strain. True, he had been running toward, not from, this moment. But there had been so much to do. And no one to share the burden. Sinking back to lie full length and stare at the beam in the ceiling, he gave in to his fatigue and allowed himself to remember. The pain would burn away the weariness. It always did.


He couldn't help the chuckle that worked its way from between his clamped lips. Bodie was being his normal obstructive, belligerent self, and the Cow was having none of it. But, being Bodie, he was getting a scowl instead of having his head handed to him on a plate. They'd been partners for eight years, lovers for three, and he had yet to discover exactly how Bodie wrapped the Old Man around his fingers so neatly.

"Is there something in what I'm saying that you find amusing, 4.5?" The dry, not exactly dulcet tones of his boss straightened his face immediately. As long as he didn't look at his partner, he could keep it that way.

"No, sir, not at all, sir, would that be all, sir?" All one breath, in his very best Bodie-imitation. He heard a suspicious snort off to his right, but didn't dare look.

"Aye, I'll get no more sense from either of you, in this mood. Off with you, now, and get to it!"

'It', in this case, was a particularly nasty small- time villain by the name of Mack Shipley, a pusher who'd gone to ground on the docks. He was causing some concern to the law abiding citizens in the area -- both of them -- but his value to CI5 had more to do with his usefulness as a possible grass. He had been seen in some very fast company, including some musclemen for the Mob who were on Cowley's list of 'people he would like to pound for an hour or three.' Took a very dim view of the gunrunning activities of certain members of the Mob, Cowley did. So Bodie and Doyle were off to sniff the docks and see what sort of rats they could scare up. They were good at it. They'd done it hundreds of times. They'd been banged up a time or two, knifed or shot or beaten, but they'd always come through.


Clean fresh smog whistling through his curls, a surprisingly sunny day for so late in the Autumn, a clear view of broad hands wrapped around the steering wheel and the gearshift, those muscle-hugging cream cords showing off every flex in those strong thighs, his head filled with the scent of drying leaves and Bodie. Pulling into the muddy lot by the abandoned warehouse, shivering momentarily at the dead look of the broken out windows and sagging metal framework. Quick glances left, right, up, eyes meshing with midnight blue, loving the light in them, the sparkle Bodie got when they were on the chase. One 'round front, one 'round back, slick as clockwork, no one home. Easing through the shadows, even on this bright day, careful of the noise, just in case. Gun in one hand, catching sight of his partner and gesturing, one swift wave of the fingers, a search pattern agreed to without a word exchanged. Crates, a ton of the damned things, broken and listing sideways, casting strange flickering shapes in the shadows, playing with his eyes. Movement? Nah, just another damned crate. Scritch of wood on cement, eyes darting to the side, back to the front. Not in time to stop the bullet. Not in time to fire. Not in time to save his mate.

Hadn't been a cat after all. There had been three of them, hiding in the shadows, waiting. Not even waiting for CI5, as it turned out later, from the interrogation of the one they finally brought in. Wrong place, wrong time, they'd interrupted the set-up for a drug buy. When the action started, Doyle got one shot off before the bullet tore through his side. Bodie didn't have time for even that. The bullet caught him high in the back, angling up from where the shooter was crouched behind the stacked crates. It ripped through his spine and out the front of his throat, the force impelling him onto his stomach, arms outflung, gun skidding uselessly away from the lax, nerveless fingers.

Doyle shot true. He always did. One man lay dead, and dimly he heard the rush of footsteps and muffled roar of an engine as the other two escaped. He had seen them, though. He would know them. He had seen the one who shot ... Adrenaline and fear propelled him to his feet, staggering as pain and blood loss made him dizzy. It had only been seconds, but his mind was screaming at him to get to Bodie, get help, he'd been shot, he had been... There was so much blood. The hole really didn't look that bad from the back. He tried to kneel beside his fallen partner and found himself collapsing. His hands curved around familiar shoulders, slipped to cup the strong neck. Found torn flesh, and blood. Pulling, desperate now, he rolled Bodie over . He knew he had to get help, had to stop the bleeding. Had to stop... Blue eyes. His eyes were so very blue. And surprised. How could you miss, Ray-mate? You never miss. You never miss. The sparkle was gone, no more light. Just wide, surprised, blue blue eyes.

And blood.


Dimly, he was aware of a high, thin keening sound, muffled, but still hurtful to his ears. Bloody damned widow woman somewhere, or a banshee, from the sound of it. It wouldn't stop! And his throat hurt. With a vague feeling of disbelief, he realized that the dreadful noise was coming from himself. He concentrated fiercely, and his surroundings gradually came into focus. He was curled into a ball on top the duvet, one corner of the pillow stuffed so far into his mouth that his jaw ached from the stretch. His hands were clenched, white- knuckled fists digging into the softness of the pillow, hugging it as tightly as he could. His face was wet, eyes stinging, and his nose was running, clogging his breathing. Between the mucus and the pillow shoved halfway down his throat it was a wonder he hadn't suffocated. But then, he always had had shitty luck.

No. Better luck. Now. He had a reason to stay alive. For a little while longer, at least. He had a murderer to bring to his own form of justice. A killer to kill. Then he could let go of the pain. And rest. Until then, he had work to do.

He straightened his spine, sitting up on the edge of the bed and deliberately wiping his mind clean. He didn't have much time. Shipley had been spotted in Lowestoft, and his sources were certain he was working his way inland, meeting his buyers. His major network was centered in Norwich, and had only been moving the goods for a couple of weeks. It took a lot of cheek to set up right under the noses of Eastland's finest, but he wouldn't be there long. So Doyle had to move quickly. He didn't have any sources in the area, so he fell back on plan B. Infiltrate the local cop-shop and pick their brains. And where better to start than the top cop?

He'd watched for three days, and Cade always managed to get away for a break sometime in the mid- afternoon and head for the low wall to the southeast of Norwich Cathedral. The white stone tower and spire, jutting into the surrounding greenery, were a perfect excuse to set up his easel and wait for his prey. Patience under stress had become his specialty, and on the third day it paid off.

It was later than he had hoped, and he was on the point of packing up his paints, when he spotted the somber figure walking slowly along the pavestones. He looked tired, and pensive, and abstracted. Doyle smothered a feral grin. Vulnerable.


It had been a hell of a conference. He felt as if he'd been dancing barefoot dressed in raw steak through a coal pit full of unchained tigers. But it had been very productive, and it was over. Now they would disperse, and the real work would begin. For a moment, the small wave of euphoria swept over him at the way it had all come together, and the eve-of-battle edge lifted his mood. Then the evening sunlight glanced off the high arched windows in the tower to his left, and sherry sparks filled his sight. The same shade as her eyes. He stopped in his tracks, and took a steadying breath. Enough. She was gone, and there wasn't a damned thing he could do about it. He suddenly remembered the aching feeling he had gotten when he remembered his father, dying when he was only ten, and the anger he had suppressed then joined with the anger he felt now. Such bloody waste. Such a damned filthy bloody--


The deep, somewhat incredulous question brought him up short. He swung his head to face the street artist he hadn't really paid attention to, before. Slight, wiry, strong-looking, about 5'9, ten stone, scruffy clothes, long fingers resting on slender hips in indecently tight jeans, hair halfway to his ass, emerald eyes, full lips, straight nose, round chin, broken cheekbone. His eyes automatically stored every feature, returning again to the eyes, then the cheek, then the eyes again. A half hidden memory, years ago, when he was still at the Met. Working in the East End, in Major Investigations. A sharp DC, maybe three, four years younger than he had been, must've started late ... or had an attitude problem. He'd been ... what, Drugs Squad? What the hell was his name!

"Yes?" His answer was tentatively friendly. With the press he'd gotten, he never knew if old colleagues showing up were a good thing or not.

"Doyle. Ray Doyle. I worked with you--"

"At the Met. I remember." He closed the distance between them and stretched his hand out for a firm shake. "It has been a long time." He glanced over the artist's supplies and the unconventional appearance of the man opposite him. "And I take it times have changed?" There was a brief flash in the emerald eyes, gone so quickly he decided he'd imagined it.

"Yeah, and us with them, I see." Doyle gestured at the expensive suit. "Don't get that on a copper's pay, do you?" The grin accompanying the query was a friendly one.

"Yes, I do," he responded with a smile of his own. "Chief Constable here."

"Eastland? Since when? I didn't think you'd ever leave the Met." Narrow hands were busily stacking supplies as he spoke, and Cade found his gaze drawn to the long fingers. Artist's ... or marksman's hands, he thought inconsequentially.

"Oh, you never know where opportunity's going to knock. You through for the day?" At the decided nod and squint toward the rapidly sinking sun from the other man, Cade grinned again. "Join me for a drink? A lot to catch up on." And I don't want to be alone, he added silently. He needed some undemanding company. Rose saw too much, Wes was too old school, and Charlie would never forget he was his driver long enough to be his drinking companion. The reminder of just how few friends he actually had settled around him, weighing his shoulders down. Too many losses. He looked at the appealingly lopsided face of the younger man and decided Ray Doyle was just what he needed tonight. He looked as encouraging as he could. Apparently it worked.

"Love to. You'd never know it but painting's thirsty work." Lifting his easel and slinging his pack over his shoulder, he gestured with his chin. "Lay on, MacDuff."

For an instant, Cade was irresistibly reminded of bloody hands. He forced the image away and, smiling, led the way to the nearest pub.

Stepping across the threshold, he knew he'd made a mistake. Usually, it was a little crowded, a little noisy, but nothing too boisterous -- a good place to snag a table in the back corner and unwind. Tonight, it appeared as though half of the visiting detectives were stacked three deep at the bar, and the noise level was terrific. He felt Doyle check at his side, and made a quick decision. Leaning forward, he half-screamed to be heard over the din.

"This is insane. I have a fully stocked bar at home and we can hear ourselves think." He waited for the equally quick nod of agreement and turned into the cool of the night, heading for his car. He'd dismissed his driver earlier that day, content to get himself home for the night. They didn't say much on the short walk, and Cade was surprised at the ease of the silence.

Opening the boot, he waited until Doyle had stowed his gear, then unlocked the door for him. As the other man brushed lightly against him, he felt an unusual tingle in the fine hair along his forearm. Taken aback by the sensation, and unwilling to examine the possible explanation for his reaction, he hurried to his own door and slipped behind the wheel. The drive seemed to take no time at all, and he was swinging his front door open and gesturing for Doyle to precede him.

"Will your paints be all right in the car? Temperature won't bother them? It gets chilly here pretty quickly." Inane, perhaps, but he couldn't think of anything else to say. The flash of dark green eyes and the quirk to the full lips distracted him, and he found himself leaning against the door, watching his guest.

"Nah, they'll be fine. They've seen worse." Not seeming to notice how his host was melting into the door, Doyle began to prowl around the living area, stopping to examine the oil painting above the fireplace, the glazed pot on the side table, the inlaid chest beside the sofa. Long fingers brushed, lingered, as if he was seeing the beauty of the objects through his fingertips. Cade felt a sudden tightness in his chest, watching the tactile exploration, and forced a breath past his pursed lips. He didn't know what the bloody hell was wrong with him, but it was time to get past it, and offer the poor man a drink.

"What's your pleasure?" He tried for a light tone as he headed for the small wet bar by the fireplace. It didn't - quite - work, but Doyle didn't react to the tinge of panic underlying the question.

"Single malt, if you have it." There was something there, buried deeply but still powerful, under the low voice. Doyle was staring at the swirling greens and blues of the glaze on the ceramic pot, lost in the wash of color. Cade was intrigued by the hint of pain, and wondered at his guest's abstraction. He splashed a liberal two fingers of scotch into a pair of crystal glasses and brought them over to Doyle.

"Here you go," he offered, waiting for the other man to come back from wherever he had gone, extending the glass patiently. Doyle slowly set the pot down, carefully placing it precisely where it had been when he picked it up. Taking the glass he smiled over at his host. Cade thought, or hoped, that the brush of fingers had been casual.

He sank gratefully onto the end of the sofa, propping his back against the arm cushion and waving a hand in Doyle's general direction. "Take a load off, Doyle. I'm going to. Been a hell of a few days."

The younger man chose to settle next to him on the sofa instead of taking the wingchair angled next to it. He stared into the depths of his drink for a moment, then raised it so that the light from the corner lamp caused the liquid to glow amber. "What shall we drink to? Old days? New? Old acquaintances? Or just ... a hell of a week?"

Cade watched him, caught up in the grace of his movements. Then he grinned suddenly, shifted forward, and clinked the rim of his tumbler to Doyle's. "All of it. Why not." The crystal rang clearly in the still of the room, and Doyle turned, catching Cade's eye.

"All of it," he replied softly. "Yeah." The word was a soft growl. "I like that." Then he broke the odd tension between them with a lopsided grin, showing off a chipped tooth and looking for all the world like a ten year old.

Cade relaxed, and sipped his drink. He needed to relax, and Ray Doyle might just be the best way to do it. They talked for a long time, falling into an occasional silence, neither seeming to mind. The level in the scotch bottle slowly dropped, but Cade was relishing this unusual evening too much to pay attention. Doyle was fascinating. He was quick, and had a biting sense of humor, and had traveled through many of the same places Cade had worked in throughout Europe. Seeing them through an artist's eye, he had a different slant on Paris, Lyon, Rotterdam and Sevilla than Cade did. The shared experiences led to lively conversation, and the evening passed swiftly. By the time they thought of dinner, it was too late to call round for takeout, so they contented themselves with steak and salad, rummaging through the pantry like old roommates. Cade was vaguely shocked at the ease with which this near- stranger fit inside the circle of his closely-guarded privacy, but the scotch, the stress, and the deep loneliness that had been threatening to overwhelm him since he heard the confirmation of Maria's death kept him from examining it too deeply. For once, he was just happy to not be alone.

Doyle watched the man slouching against the cushions next to him, taking in the lines of stress between the dark brows, the shadows under the jade eyes. His frame had lost its earlier tension-induced rigidity, and his strong, square hands were idly playing with the half full glass of scotch. He had limited his own intake skillfully without letting the older man notice, and the majority of the liquor had made its way into Cade. He got the feeling the other man didn't unwind very often, and, while not about to question his unusual luck, he did wonder what it was about himself that caused Cade to trust him. Whatever it was, he'd use it. Things were moving along nicely.

He found himself, unexpectedly, wishing for more time. Cade was an interesting, complex individual -- a liberal with radical ideas about justice doing his damnedest to make a difference in a very conservative patch. He was articulate, and bitingly funny, and deeply passionate, even when half toasted as he was now. It was a shame that his time was so limited. He would have enjoyed spending some time with the Chief. But Shipley moved fast, and his schedule was stretched. He'd been in Norwich four days now, and he knew the drug dealer would be packing up his operation and heading north within the next few days. He had to find him, tomorrow, the day after latest. Had to find him, and kill him. And had to find a way to keep Cade from stopping him in case the Chief Constable realized what was happening before Doyle had a chance to finish the job.

Worrying the problem in the back of his mind, he tuned back into the conversation and caught the last of an anecdote Cade was telling. Seemed there were two camps in a certain corner of East Anglia, one artsy and the other country squirish. They'd gone to war over a young boy, who'd ended up killing himself in a misunderstanding having to do with the Met's fraud squad. But now, it seemed the artsy clique thought he was homophobic and the squire crowd was convinced he was soft on homosexuals, and both sides did their best to humiliate him -- one with an impromptu slide show for the local media, the other with a glass of whiskey to the face during a high class soiree. Damned if he did, damned if he didn't. Doyle focused in completely, an answer to his dilemma slapping him into full awareness. It wasn't as if it would be distasteful. Cade was a very attractive man. At the moment, a tired, slightly drunk, and isolated man.

He made the appropriate noises, encouraging more tales and supplying a few of his own, gleaned from years around some of the best liars in the country. Surreptitiously he topped the other man's glass, encouraging him to forget his troubles and enjoy the company. It took somewhat longer than he expected, but by eleven, he had his prey nicely pickled. Just enough to make him malleable, not enough to render him incapable.

They'd started a fire earlier in the evening, and he used the excuse of adding wood to shift himself off the sofa. When he returned, he emptied the last of the scotch into Cade's tumbler, concealing the state of the bottle before he turned back to hand the glass to him. He unfastened another button on his shirt, playing with the soft fabric, drawing attention to his body, watching the other man's reactions, his own manner deceptively casual. Cade took a deep breath, then lifted his eyes from the open shirtfront with what looked like an effort. This might not be as difficult as he feared. He wondered how long it had been since Cade had been touched, decided to take the initiative and see what happened. If worse came to worst and Cade threw him out, he could always break in and see what he could find after the older man passed out from the scotch.

When he resettled on the sofa, he moved closer to his target, allowing the side of his thigh to rub lightly against Cade's knee. The older man stilled, but didn't withdraw. Good, first point to the seducer. They sat quietly for a moment, Doyle staring pensively into the fire and not appearing to notice their proximity. After a few minutes had dragged by, Cade shifted. Unfortunately, there was nowhere to shift to, and when he relaxed again his knee was pressing even more firmly against Doyle's thigh. Cue action, Doyle thought dryly. The edge of Cade's glass clicked faintly against his teeth as he swallowed the last of his scotch. Doyle very slowly turned his head to gaze, wide eyed, at the other man. With equal deliberation, he twisted his torso, using the firelight to highlight the curves of his chest and arms, drawing attention to the line of his waist and his long legs. He felt as much as saw Cade's eyes flicker helplessly along the length of him, watched the nervous sweep of tongue over dry lips, noted the convulsive clench of the blunt fingers around the heavy crystal glass. Now or never. Cade was as ripe for the plucking as he was ever going to be, and if he hesitated now, second thoughts and sobriety would take his chance from him.

He stilled, willing the narrowed jade eyes opposite his to look up. It took some concentration, because Cade's attention was focused on the hollow of his throat, seemingly mesmerized by the pulse beating there. Eventually, his stillness penetrated the other man's preoccupation, and he glanced up. Doyle allowed the heat to show in his own eyes, and Cade stared, fascinated. Taking care not to lose that eye contact, Doyle leaned forward slowly, watching the other man's face flush, his eyes widen, pupils dilating. Yeah, he hadn't lost it. Hadn't used it in a long time, and hadn't seduced a man like this since ... no. He would not think of Bodie now. He couldn't afford to. Deliberately, he slid his right hand lightly from his own thigh onto the top of Cade's knee. The other man didn't even flinch, still staring into Doyle's face, caught in his eyes. The hand continued its journey along the solid muscle of Cade's thigh. Cade raised his right hand, as if to stop its progress, and Doyle brought his left hand around, twining his fingers with the upraised hand. The tumbler was still in Cade's left hand, and with his right hand tangled with Doyle's he was momentarily immobilized. Doyle used that moment to his best advantage.

He didn't try to kiss him. Instead, he ignored the tempting mouth and took his cue from Cade's own actions. He trailed the tip of his tongue in the hollow of Cade's throat, canting his head to the side, and drawing a moist line with his tongue along the tendon running up the side of his throat, then over to the point of his jaw. It worked, even better than he expected. Cade had a very sensitive neck. The fingers wound around his suddenly clenched, drawing him closer, and he took advantage of the better angle to nibble along the underside of Cade's jaw. He felt the crystal glass fall against his shoulder blade as Cade's left hand came up to curl into his shoulder, pulling him nearer still. The older man dropped his head back against the soft cushions, closing his eyes and breathing softly through his mouth, just short of a pant. Oh, it had been a long time, then, hadn't it, Doyle thought triumphantly, then busied his fingers with the buttons along the front of Cade's shirt.

He gave a quick nip to Cade's lobe, then licked along the edge of his ear, distracting the now-slowly writhing man from his efforts at undressing him until the shirt was completely opened. Then he began to nibble and lick his way back down Cade's throat, stopping for a slow suckling just over his Adam's apple that caused Cade's entire body to jerk. Then down, across the arched throat, the lightly furred chest just beginning to heave as his breathing became erratic. Doyle nosed his way through the soft hair until he found a flat nipple, then he concentrated on the soft flesh, teasing it with teeth and tongue until it hardened. Cade was whimpering now, a strangled sound forced out from a tight throat, almost painful to hear. Leaving one nipple for another, he spent some time arousing them fully, kneading the lean muscles of Cade's chest, slipping along his sides, drawing lines of fire along the nerve endings from the soft flesh along his waist to the dark hair under his arms. The two men had gradually shifted until Cade was lying full length on the sofa, one leg along the back of the seat cushions, the other bent, his heel pushing into the floor, pressing as much of his body into contact with Doyle's as he could. Doyle was draped over the top of him, both hands busily caressing all the skin he could reach, mouth making forays across and over and along Cade's chest. Doyle suddenly bit into the underside of a pectoral muscle, and Cade bucked under him in response, an inarticulate protest breaking through. It was the signal Doyle was waiting for.

In a sudden flurry of motion, he ripped Cade's shirt down over his shoulders and down to his elbows, effectively trapping his arms. He slithered down Cade's body, forcing him to feel every inch of the movement, before dropping to his knees beside the sofa. Grasping the other man's hips firmly, Doyle pulled him around until both feet were touching the floor, Doyle kneeling between them. Two quick moves at button and zip, long fingers inserted into waistband of slacks and pants and swiftly, if carefully, pulled out of the way, and Doyle had Cade's erection free. He reached under the man's hips and yanked the material down far enough to give himself maneuvering room, then cupped Cade's sac in his left hand, rolling the heavy testes from side to side as he curved the fingers of his right around the swollen shaft and looked up at his victim. Cade's head was thrown back, his lips parted, a deep flush started from his chest and swept into his face. Sweat was standing out over his skin, and he looked utterly abandoned. Doyle felt his own arousal fiercely, and bent to his task, determined to seduce Cade so thoroughly he'd never be able to turn him in.

Cade's hips were thrusting up of their own accord as Doyle palmed his erection, applying a hard, steady rhythm with his hand as he sucked deeply on the head. From the state of him, Cade wouldn't last long, and with the amount of liquor in him, hopefully he'd sleep deeply. Doyle worked away at Cade's swollen cock, matching his pace to the older man's thrusts, alternating between a milking motion with his fingers and irregular deep gulps that engulfed the whole of the cock. His left hand played along the sensitive skin of the perineum, brushing along from the base of the tender sac to the beginning of the cleft of his buttocks. A finger played with the puckered opening, and as he felt the balls tighten and the thrusts increase, Doyle drove just the tip into Cade's anus. The extra sensation was all it took, and the other man climaxed with a convulsive jerk that nearly threw Doyle off. He held Cade's hip down with his right hand and relaxed his throat, swallowing the straining cock throughout the orgasm. When it finally finished he gently withdrew his finger and pulled away, cleaning the last of the semen off the twitching flesh before letting it slip from his mouth. Doyle looked up, unconsciously licking his lips, to find Cade staring at him in a combination of shock, satiation and the last remnants of arousal. Cue action, round two, he grinned to himself.

Still without speaking, he uncurled from his kneeling position. Reaching out to pull Cade from the sofa, he efficiently stripped him of his shirt and pushed the slacks and pants the rest of the way off. Just as efficiently, he stripped off his own clothes and held out his hand to Cade. Finally, softly, he almost-whispered, "Bed." A command, not a question. Cade obeyed in a sort of sex and scotch induced haze, moving as if immersed in unreality.

By the time they reached the king sized bed, Cade was starting to come around. Doyle didn't give him the chance to sober completely. Turning him around by the simple expedient of pulling his wrist behind his back and leaning into him, he pitched them both onto the soft mattress. Before Cade could form a protest, Doyle covered that full mouth with his own, giving in to the urge to kiss and explore that he had ignored earlier. He brought a hand up and caressed Cade's throat, finding the sensitive spots that had made him so hot just a little while earlier. They worked again. God, bite the man's neck and he was anybody's, Doyle cracked to himself, before the hard thigh working its way between his own nudged up against his erection and brought him back to the moment. Some of the lethargy from Cade's explosive orgasm was still in evidence as Doyle curved himself around the other man's body and tipped him over onto his side. He began to lick and nibble again, along Cade's spine this time, outlining each vertebra with his teeth, enjoying the writhing that was beginning again. By the time he got to the swell of Cade's buttocks, that delicious whimpering was being torn from his throat once more, and Doyle knew he had him. Now to make sure he had Cade well enough that he would not dare to betray him.

Shifting to settle between the older man's splayed thighs, he palmed the curves of his buttocks and pulled them gently apart. Running the edge of his tongue lightly from the bulge of Cade's sac, pressed against the mattress, along the flinching skin to the base of his anus, Doyle moistened his mouth and allowed the saliva to pool behind his teeth. Gathering it up with his tongue, he licked across the tight opening, laving it thoroughly. Every time the roughness of his tongue lapped across it, Cade moaned, sounding surprised and overwhelmed and awash with pleasure. Doyle licked at his finger, then slowly worked it into the tight anus, curling his hand to loosen the muscle and relax the entry. At the first rake of his finger over Cade's prostate, a strangled gasp came from above him on the bed. First time, looked like, and he was loving it, if the involuntary hump backward onto Doyle's hand was any indication. He took his time, building his own arousal, enjoying the sight and the sound of Cade's, gradually working a second, then a third finger into the now greedily grasping channel. Doyle spread a combination of saliva and pre-ejaculate over his own erection, then withdrew his fingers. Cade moaned a protest at the action, and Doyle soothed him with a gentle bite to the shoulder. Then he placed the tip of his erection against the small opening and carefully pushed. Cade was so aroused by this point he pushed backward abruptly, taking more of the rigid cock in than Doyle had intended, then freezing at the unaccustomed intruder. Doyle snaked a hand around to grasp Cade's erection, beginning to fade under the stress, and pumped it firmly to distract the older man from the continued assault. With deliberate care, Doyle continued until he had Cade fully aroused and himself fully sheathed, then he paused, allowing the man under him to adjust to the fullness. Very quickly, the dual stimulation of Doyle's hand and cock overwhelmed Cade's distraction with the new sensations, and Cade began to buck back and forth, muttering into the pillow for Doyle to get on with it, damnit. Doyle grinned widely at the command and put his back into it, reaming Cade as thoroughly as he was ordered, driving them both out of control.

Cade, having come once already, outlasted Doyle. The younger man felt himself fall over the edge and threw his head back, loosing one low growl as he came, and came hard. He fell forward against Cade's back as the climax tapered off, burying his face in the scented curve of his shoulder, biting gently, leaving his mark on the smooth skin. The final tiny spark of pain must have been what Cade was waiting for, because before Doyle could withdraw, Cade's orgasm caused his sphincter to clench around his softening cock. It was painful on the extra-sensitive flesh, but he rode it out, digging his fingers into Cade's hips. When the last contraction eased, and the muscle relaxed, Doyle pulled out with a deliciously wet sound and wrapped his arms around the other man. He spooned up against him and waited until the even cadence of his breathing announced that Cade had slipped into a deep sleep.

Time to get to work.

Carefully easing his arms from around the warm body next to him, Doyle waited for the slight sound of protest to die away and the even breathing to resume. Cade shifted at the loss of warmth in the cool night air, and Doyle gently tucked the duvet around the curve of his spine, keeping him cozy. He certainly didn't want him to wake up now -- might ask some awkward questions, even through the booze-haze. By slow increments, Doyle levered himself from the mattress and, with a last searching glance at his unknowing source, headed for the den on silent feet. The memory of that stern face, relaxed into misleading innocence in sleep, nagged at him, but he didn't have time for conscience. Not now. Too much to do.

Stopping just long enough to dress, making sure to stay as silent as possible and stopping often to listen for any signs of movement in the next room, he crept to the desk. Slipping a penlight and his pick kit out of his jacket pocket, he set to work on the drawer he had seen Cade put his folders into when they first arrived at the house. It was a solid lock, but he was -- or had been -- a professional, and his initial misgivings about breaking and entering had worn away completely over the years. Four searching wriggles of the pick, and the lock gave with a quiet snick that sounded like a gunshot in the still room. He froze again, every sense tuned toward the bedroom, but no movement answered the sound. Getting his heart firmly back in his chest where it belonged and out of his throat where it had leapt, he eased the drawer open and began to flick efficiently through the papers. Less than a third of the way through the bulky folder he found exactly what he had been looking for.

He'd been right. There was very little time. The locals were on to Shipley's little crew, and they were planning a raid on his drop site the next afternoon -- no, it was nearly three in the morning. Today, then. There was the time, 1400, and the address of the warehouse. For a heartbeat he went still, his thoughts returning to another warehouse, another meeting with Shipley. With an inaudible growl, he pushed the memories away firmly, concentrating on the papers, memorizing the salient details. Yes, they had enough to put him away. Schedules of movements, patterns of behavior. Contacts. And they were no doubt planning to bargain with the bastard, in hopes of netting some of the bigger fish. Not this time, boys, he thought fiercely. This one is mine. This one is dead.

Replacing the papers exactly as he found them, he relocked the drawer with his pick and took a final look around, making sure he hadn't missed anything. As he unlatched the door and stepped into the very early morning breeze, he spared a regret for the man he left sleeping behind him. It had been ... more personal than he'd expected, and much more difficult to leave than it usually was. Something about Cade got to him. He shook his head abruptly, loosened hair swinging about his shoulders. It was too near the end game to be distracted now, no matter how he had enjoyed the Chief's company, or found unexpected pleasure in his bed. Alan Cade was a means to an end. If all went well this afternoon, he would never see him again.

He refused to consider why that thought should feel so bloody depressing.

Consigning his canvas and paints to 'loss in the commission of duty,' he set a fast pace for his hotel room. It was a cold forty minutes before he let himself in the side door and made his way up the stairs, but he didn't notice the temperature. His mind was busy ticking over the details of the hit, when he needed to be there and set up, possible actions on Shipley's part, how tightly he had to cut it to be out of there before the coppers arrived to find the corpse, mentally cataloguing his tools -- Walther, silencer, extra clips, Browning for back-up in case of a stoppage. Running over the map of the area he had memorized, making a note to check alternate routes, escape routes, need to take extra time to get there by a circuitous route so as not to draw attention. His body was exhausted but his mind was in high gear, preparing for the one thing he had been working for and waiting for, for years. He didn't stop to think what he would do after Shipley was dead. He didn't really care. His entire being was concentrated on paying blood for blood.

Reaching his small room at last, he studied the local map intently for several minutes. Then, satisfied, he stripped and settled under the covers, setting his watch alarm for nine. Five hours of sleep, then breakfast at a nearby restaurant and a nice long walk with an inconspicuous canvas bag slung over his shoulder. An hour to get there, an hour to reconnoiter, an hour to wait. If his luck held and Shipley kept to his routine, he should arrive at the warehouse no later than 1300. Walk in, get popped. Doyle'd have time to check the corpse and get out the back before the cavalry arrived. By then, it'd be too late for this particular Indian. Aware he was mixing his metaphors and too damned tired to care, he let himself fall into sleep.

He wasn't aware of the changes around him, just a muzzy white light, seeping under his eyelids. And pain, a fire in his belly, his ribs restrained, hard to breathe, body feeling oddly heavy. His throat, raw and sore, dry as if he'd been screaming. His gut, a deeper ache, like someone had reached into his abdomen and ripped out his insides, leaving him with a gaping hole in his middle. But there were no bandages there. Bandages? Why was he wearing bandages? What was with that stupid beeping noise and why did his side itch and how come he couldn't move and where was Bodie?


Oh, Christ. Bodie. Oh, god. God-fucking- damnit. Bodie.

He didn't realize he was screaming although he did pry his eyes open to see three concerned faces towering over him. A man, he didn't know him. A girl, mouth all primmed up, not sure if she was offended or shocked, didn't give a tinker's damn. And Cowley. Not looking like the Cow. Looking like the Cow's father. When had Cowley gotten so old? Lines on his face, bags under his eyes, lips a thin line like they got when his leg was really giving it to him. Why were they holding him down? And where the *fuck* was that *noise* coming from?

More muzzy whiteness.

No Bodie. Where was Bodie?

Cowley, sitting in a chair. Standing over him. Touching his shoulder, avoiding the bulky gauze and the tubes and the needles. His face was wet. Cow, crying? Ah, shit, Bodie. Why'd it have to be you? So damned much blood. Bodie. Love. I'm sorry. It should have been me.

"No, lad. You canna blame yourself." And why the bloody hell not? I'm still here, aren't I? WHY? Why, without Bodie?

Flashes of light, winter on the ground and blowing in his face. No Bodie to pick him up. Murph was a champ but he wasn't his lover. His partner. His. Bodie.

Shaking, holding a gun. Alone, in the flat, alarms turned on, locks turned and bolts thrown, it'd take awhile to get to him. No Bodie to come through the window this time and stop the bleeding. Damn Murphy. And damn George-bloody-Cowley. Another muzzy white time, then too many doctors in too many hospitals and too many clinics before being invalided out. Unstable. Of course he was unstable, he'd lost his anchor, hadn't he? Lost his center. Flying away on the anger and the pain and the sheer bloody minded waste of it all.

Wandering, but not for long. The nightmares didn't go away, they just became old friends. There was blood on the sheets, blood on the floor, on the walls, on his hands, on his chest, on his face. Bound by his word to Cowley, he watched as the third man was brought in, questioned, tried, convicted. Frightened the jury with his testimony ... frightened the villain with his eyes. Blood, in his eyes. Had to watch as the little bastard was taken from his reach, but that wasn't the one he wanted, that one hadn't killed his soul. The other one. Shipley. He would die. Blood for blood.

Cold again. Drops of rain on his skin, soaking his black leather jacket, freezing his feet. Dismal weather, perfect for the day. Anonymous little gravesite, dignified granite marker, name, dates, Servant to his Country. Rich dark earth on a polished box. Bye, Cow. You can care for your young no longer. The bonds are broken, the last promise no longer binding him. Turning from the graveside, turning to the grey horizon, finding a new promise, old within him, freed now to fulfill it. Scrubbed the palms of his hands against his legs.

Couldn't get the blood off.

And that damned beeping was back.

With a start, Doyle woke, poking at the tiny button on his wrist alarm then unconsciously rubbing the palms of his hands together. Another night, another nightmare. Or had it been memories? It was so hard to tell the two apart. Shaking off the last of his distraction, he rose and prepared for the day. The hunter scented his prey, and there would be blood before he was satisfied.

The bell on the alarm took him by surprise, jerking him from an unusually deep sleep. As he rolled painfully over and swatted at the irritating thing with one hand until it finally shut up, Cade moaned, stretched gingerly, and tried to hold the top of his head on with the other hand. He didn't usually drink very much, preferring to keep control of himself and the situation at all times. But last night that control had slipped. With a vengeance. He had wondered what would happen when the facade of strength finally cracked. Now he knew.

He squeezed his eyes tightly shut against the offensively bright sunlight, then started to sit up. A deep twinge at the base of his spine and a muscle cramp along the top of his thigh stopped him mid-motion. Holy Mother of God. What had he done last night?

The memories were hazy around the edges, but his body wasn't lying. He had the sort of all-over muscular relaxation he only got when completely satiated, and a vague ache in his lower back as if he'd spent too much time hunched at his desk. He felt a blush start somewhere around his toes when he remembered just how that second orgasm had come about. The unintentional pun, even in the privacy of his own thoughts, caused him to wince, then grin ruefully. Lifting himself cautiously, he took a deep breath and straightened, pleased when the stiffness in his back and legs eased. Swallowing hard, he peered at the sheets, relieved to find no traces of blood mixed with the sticky mess of sweat and semen splashed liberally across his bed. The blush intensified. God almighty. Forty nine years old and last night he'd lost his cherry.

And he'd enjoyed it.

Even more drunk than he could remember being since Marie had left him, he still could have called a halt to the proceedings. But it had felt ... god, he didn't even know how to describe it to himself. Exciting, yeah, and arousing in a wholly new fashion. The shock of looking down at that unruly mass of hair and that generous mouth wrapped around his erection, burying his fingers in the silky curls, the heat and strength of Ray's mouth, and hands, and arms as he held him down on the sofa -- the incredible sensation of a wet rough tongue in areas he seldom touched himself, the gentle, inescapable invasion of his body, first by Ray's mouth, then his hand, then his cock. God. Oh, god. Cade realized he was shaking, standing still, staring at the bed, his mind supplying feverish images of exactly what Ray Doyle had done to him the previous night, and how he had responded. He'd never really thought of himself as wanton, before, and it was a hell of a shock to think of it now.

But it was more than that. For the first time in so long he couldn't remember, he had not felt alone. The sheer comfortof Ray's touch, even beyond the sensuality, was in its warmth. The closeness. He'd felt a connection with him before he'd taken his first sip of scotch, standing against the door, watching him move. He hadn't understood it at the time, or hadn't wanted to, but it had been there. Waiting for him.

The alarm rang again, and he jumped, then swore. He'd only hit the snooze button, not the alarm. Just as well, he had a lot of work to do today. No time to stand around and ... and ... Feeling the blush that had only just died down start to rise again, he hurried into the loo to wash and try to put his composure back together. Wouldn't do for the denizens of Eastland Constabulary to see their Chief with a permanent sunburn and a fucked -through-the-mattress look when he finally made it to the office!

Thankfully, it was a busy morning. Citizens to placate, politicians to piss off, briefings to give and receive, and a raid to coordinate. He went down to the armory and checked out his weapon, since he was going with the squad to hit the warehouse that afternoon. There was a small time pusher there, and if they could bring him in and question him, they could squeeze some details out of him, and hopefully put a major crimp in the pipeline of drugs and weapons heading toward London. It was going to be tense, and dangerous. He'd have to pay close attention to every single detail. His people were counting on him. Thank god. With this on his mind he could shove the events of last night deeply into his subconscious, and stop dwelling on exactly why he had the not unpleasant ache when he sat. Unfortunately, it also meant he didn't have time to call Ray. He had been more disappointed than he wanted to admit when he hadn't found a note. But he still had the artist's supplies, and he couldn't believe that it had been some sort of one-off. They'd had too much to talk about for Doyle to just disappear.

Forcing himself to put all the nagging questions aside, he called his detectives in for one final briefing and headed for the car. This was too important to let personal considerations interfere. When it was over, and the criminals were cooling their heels in lock-up, then he could get back to Ray. He felt a pleasant glow at the thought, and set that aside for the evening as well. He was unable, however, to completely eradicate the little grin his face insisted on sporting. Oh, well. He could always blame it on anticipation. Wouldn't be a total lie, after all.

The walk out and the muesli he'd managed to force down his throat, washed down with orange juice, had centered him. Doyle was completely focused as he slipped into the side entrance of the quiet warehouse. There were so many things to remind him, here, of the past. He desperately shoved the memories down, feeling the weight of years and weariness wearing at his mental walls, threatening to breach his defenses when he needed most to be strong. One final task, he promised himself. When Shipley's dead, he could rest. Bodie could rest.

He'd never gotten the chance to say good-bye.

He drew a deep breath and squeezed his eyes shut, feeling a fine trembling throughout his muscles, running along his bones. Better to let it run its course, get it out of the way. Then he would be calm. For an instant, his lover's face was before his, deep blue eyes hidden behind heavy lashed lids, hands pressed together, calm concentration on his face as he went through his morning routine, greeting the sun. The tremble intensified, abruptly, into a shudder, then passed and was gone. When his eyes opened again, they were dull emeralds, barely glinting in the dim light. Pupils distended, face drawn, he resembled nothing more than a feral hunting cat, scenting his prey, flattening himself against the wall, slipping into place. The satchel on his shoulder was silently placed behind a large crate near the back of the warehouse, one weapon slipped into the back of his waistband, the other held loosely, waiting, in his palm, long fingers wrapped around the grip, as the other hand tightened the silencer on the muzzle. Long legs curled comfortably in place, slender body slid into the dark, private spot, clear line of sight to the cramped office where the drug runner conducted his business. Time to wait. He breathed softly, eyes intent, seeing only the target area, hearing nothing but his heartbeat.

Time slowed, a steady flip of numerals on the digital face of his watch, matching the slow thump of his pulse. It seemed forever before there was movement in the doorway of the office. Late. Leave it to a small time villain like Shipley to be late to his own funeral. Nearly 1340. It would be close. But he would have time. He edged up into firing position, still completely camouflaged by the surrounding crates, waiting for the best shot. He would have one, perhaps two, no more than that. There was no time for more. But he would have his shot. And hadn't Bodie told him he never missed? He'd not gotten rusty. He'd insured that when the time came he would be up to the task. But Shipley was being an uncooperative bastard, as usual. On the phone, pacing like a trapped rat, the posts in the thin dividing wall that marked the area of the office interfered with his aim. He would not fire until he knew he had him. There.

Now. One muffled crack. A flinch, a recoil in the figure before him. Adjust sight, as quick as the thought.

NOW. A second quiet crack, sounding as close as an echo to the first.

SHIT! Nonononononononono...

Cade spun in disbelief as his arrest blew up in his face. There was a sniper somewhere in the building. His men had gotten to the rendezvous early, and with visual confirmation of the suspect had made their move. Not two feet into the confines of the warehouse they'd heard the first snap of a bullet, the whuffling whine of a silencer. The suspect dived out of immediate sight, and his officers swarmed around the office as the second shot came out of nowhere and shattered the thin metal frame of the office door, not a foot from Cade's face. Behind him. It had come from behind him. He whirled and headed for the side of the warehouse, calling out to his men as he ran.

Scrambling over and through the stacked crates, cursing viciously under his breath at the right royal cock up the whole raid had turned into, Cade saw the small entryway and threw himself out the door, slamming cautiously against the wall as he came around the corner. He was not anxious to get any closer to a bullet than he'd already been that morning. Then he saw him.

Not three yards away. Long, silky curls glinting in the weak sunlight, glinting as well off the blue metal of the gun in his hand. A strong, slender body, long legs working to take him as far, as fast as possible. Cade stopped, lifted his weapon, and tried to call out. His voice didn't work. But the other man must have heard something. He stopped, abruptly, and turned to face his pursuer.

Doyle's face was drawn, all the color leached from it, only his eyes alive with a green fire that burned all the way through Alan Cade. Doyle's gun came up, leveled at him. Emerald met jade, both guns steady, then Cade slowly lowered his weapon.

"Ray." Only a whisper. All he could manage.

Doyle slowly lowered his gun. He shook his head, like a man waking from a dream, then turned again. Before Cade could react, he was around the corner and away. As several of his men clambered through the door behind him, he heard the footsteps fade away.

"Sir?" panted PC Gordon. "You see 'im, sir? Did 'e go this way?"

"No," Cade answered slowly. "No, I didn't see anyone." He turned back toward the front of the warehouse. Gesturing for his deputy, he inclined his head toward the mess inside the warehouse. "Take care of this, Wes. I have something that I have to attend to." Without giving the other man a chance to respond beyond a quick nod of acquiescence, he nearly ran toward his car. "Charlie?" PC Webb ran to his side. "Give me the keys. I have to -- see someone." Without a word, the young black man handed the car key over. Before anyone could question him, knowing he was acting like a madman and completely unable to stop himself, Cade settled himself into the driver's seat and threw the car in gear. He had to catch Ray. Had to find out what the bloody hell was going on. Had to find out why. Why he'd been picked up, seduced, and very nearly killed. Why he'd been betrayed.

That had been a royal fuck-up. He ran until he was well out of range, watching his back, cursing his luck. Cade just had to be early. Damned super- copper. Couldn't keep to a goddamned schedule, any more than that asshole Shipley, and why the hell had he been so bloody late? The thoughts chased themselves through his head, as he doubled back and slipped through back alleys and leafy side streets, finally arriving at his hotel. He stared at the white plasterwork and clean painted trim for long moments before melting back into the shadows. It was Cade's fault he'd lost Shipley. Well, Cade's and Shipley's. But he wouldn't miss again. And Cade was going to help him get the bastard.

Retracing his steps carefully, he reviewed what he knew of Cade. The Chief Constable was deeply committed to justice and upholding the law, making a practice of taking a reaming in the course of executing his duties if it protected the innocent and captured the guilty. He might take the risk of having Doyle tell about their little fling last night if Ray made the mistake of going back to his hotel. Cade just might be angry enough to throw his career to the wind to put Doyle away for the fiasco at the warehouse. Better to give him time, make him think, allow him a breathing space in which to calm himself. He'd be more reasonable by tonight.

Doyle headed toward the house he'd left in the early morning hours. He'd watched Cade set the alarms the previous evening. Compared to those he'd set -- and broken through -- in his CI5 days, they were a cake walk. He'd just beat Cade home, and when the Chief walked in tonight he'd have a little surprise waiting for him.

He hadn't checked out. His gear was still in the room, the bed had been slept in, the maid hadn't yet been in to make up the room. Cade made a complete reconnaissance of the room, but there was nothing incriminating in it at all. Only a local map, curled at the edges, creased as if it had been well used. Two pairs of jeans, a sweatshirt, some tee shirts, socks, underwear. Doyle traveled very lightly.

Frustration clawed at him. There had to be a reason. He debated with himself about telling the others what he had seen. He knew he should ... knew, eventually, he probably would. But he had felt a connection last night that had taken him completely by surprise, and he knew in his gut that there was something very strange going on here. And he wanted to find out what it was. He had to find out. For the sake of his pride, if not his sanity.

Taking a last look around the Spartan room, he was turning toward the door when he saw the thin piece of paper by the side of the rumpled bed. Leaning down, he flipped it over and unfolded a corner that had become bent. It was an old snapshot, colors faded with time. Three men, laughing, arms around one another. He recognized the grinning face in the middle of the group hug. Doyle's urchin grin, beaming from a younger face, with shorter, lighter curls, no vivid streak of white at his temple. He was clutched tightly in the long arms of a handsome, smiling man with close cropped dark hair, chest to chest, with Doyle's arms draped possessively around the other man's waist. Behind Doyle, the dark haired man's hands splayed around his shoulders, stood an older man, a laughing smile on his face as he held the dark man's elbow in turn. There was a wealth of affection in the shot, laughter and easy camaraderie lighting up the time-dulled lines of the photograph. The clothes placed the scene about fifteen years before, late seventies or early eighties. The state of the paper indicated that it was well worn, as if it had been held and pored over many times. Something about the older man struck a chord in his memory, but he couldn't quite place the face. Cade tucked the snapshot in his jacket pocket. It would come to him. For now, he had missed his quarry. He had to return to headquarters and see what the team had picked up at the warehouse. And he had to think. Doyle wasn't gone. He didn't know how he knew it, he just did. And until he had more information, he would keep what he had seen this afternoon quiet. He had to find him, had to talk to him, as soon as possible.

Unaware of the deep frown etching lines on his face, or the pain lurking in the back of his eyes, he made his way down the stairs to his car and headed toward his office. He had work to do. The pain would have to wait.

It always did.

The ending of the work day was not nearly as bright as the beginning. The afternoon was a maze of frustration, dead ends, nonexistent clues and short tempers. The older man's laughing face popped into his mind at odd moments, and he knew that the key to the entire bizarre situation lay in that picture. But Cade was damned if he could figure it out, or remember just where he had seen those craggy features. The staff around him moved as quietly as possible, and he let them think his ragged temper was due to the blown set-up that afternoon. But it went much deeper than that. By the time he finally admitted that he wasn't getting anywhere on his private investigation it was nearly eight, and he gave up the fight for the evening and headed home. Perhaps if he stopped trying so hard his subconscious would give him the answer he was searching for. He certainly hoped so. He absolutely hated having the answer in his fingers and being unable to understand it. And he hated, even more strongly, to be played for the fool. It had happened too many times in his life, and this time was one time too many.

The sun had long since gone down, but Doyle wasn't about to light the fire, or even turn on the heater. He wanted to give Cade no warning whatsoever of his presence, until it was too late for the other man to get help. He needed to make the situation perfectly plain to the Chief Constable. When he did, he was quite certain the older man would see it his way.

Of course, there was always the off chance that Cade would let his personal code of honor get in the way of Doyle's quest for vengeance. If that happened, well ... Doyle still had his handcuffs. And a gag. And a little time. It wouldn't be the first time he'd had to disappear into the woodwork, and he was close to his goal, this time. He'd winged Shipley at the warehouse, he knew he had. The bastard wouldn't get very far. And this time he'd have him. He just had to keep Cade off his back long enough to get him.

He finally admitted to himself that he didn't care what happened to him after Shipley was dead. He had lived for this for so long that he had nothing left. He wouldn't go to prison, he knew that. After years as first a copper, then a CI5 agent, he had too many enemies behind bars to ever survive a prison term. But he couldn't bring himself to care about getting caught. He just needed to kill Shipley. So, he decided fatalistically, if he accomplished his task and escaped, he would take it as it came and figure out what to do then. If he didn't escape, he'd eat his gun.

Maybe then he'd finally have some peace.

The scrape of the key in the deadbolt interrupted his increasingly morbid thoughts, and he pressed himself against the side wall of the bedroom, in the depths of the shadows. He heard the click of the door shutting, the slide of the locks, and the whisper of fingertips pressing the security pad followed by the tiny beep as the electronic alarm system reactivated. Weary tread of feet across the living room carpet, a pause, then a clink as a glass was raised and lowered with a decided slam back to the surface of the table. Guess the Chief wasn't in the mood for a drink tonight. There was the rustle of cloth as the tie was loosened and pulled from the collar, then the small sigh of relief as the shoes were toed off. The myriad sounds of a tired man at the end of a long day came closer to the bedroom, then the solid bulk of the older man filled the doorway. His head was down as he reached for the light switch, eyes half-closed, even the short cropped hair seemed to sag with weariness. As the blunt fingers reached for the switch, Doyle swung out from the shadows. His right hand wrapped around Cade's right wrist and twisted it up behind him as his left arm swept around the older man's waist, effectively trapping his left hand. Cade started to struggle, then stopped abruptly as his arm was immediately twisted higher.

"Don't make me hurt you, Alan." Doyle kept his voice soft, reassuring. Almost comforting, a strange tone considering the threatening way he was holding his captive. "I just want to talk."

Cade squirmed, seemed to realize there was no way he could break the hold, and relaxed in place. Doyle could feel the heat where his chest pressed into Cade's back, and the combination of pressure, warmth and the spicy scent of Cade caused him to draw a sharp breath. He really didn't want to hurt him, he just needed his cooperation. And perhaps a place in his bed for the night. Before the tempting images could solidify in his mind's eye, he wrenched his thoughts back to the issue at hand.

"Will you listen?" Still soft, reasonable.

"Do I have a choice?" The answering growl reminded him of a cornered guard dog. Ready to spring if he should catch a moment's weakness.

"Yes. You could call your squad, and bring them in, and I could spend the evening in your lock-up giving Technicolor details of exactly how good a fuck their chief constable is. Just the sort of sounds he makes when a man's sucking his cock, just what place to bite to make him moan. Just how to get him going, and just how he turns on when a man's fingers are pumping his ass. How to make him come, and how to make him beg for it, and how tight and hot and sweet it is to shove a cock up his ass." He paused for a moment, gauging his captive's reaction. The stone stillness convinced him that he had Cade's undivided attention. He lowered his voice, allowing a touch of throatiness to insinuate itself. "Is that what you want, Alan? Are you willing to do that to me, to yourself? Yeah," he drawled, stretching the single syllable out to the space of several heartbeats. "You could. But I don't think you will. You want to stay where you are. You want to remain Chief. Wouldn't be there long if the Police Authority found out just what makes you scream." By the time he finished the sentence his voice was a chilling hiss. Cade reacted with a barely perceptible shudder. "But I don't want that, Alan," Doyle continued in a more audible tone, retaining the almost caressing timbre but infusing it with more warmth, reining in the naked threat. "I just want Shipley. One little rat, and you can have the whole lot of the rest of them."

Doyle eased his hold slightly. When Cade remained standing still, he allowed his hands to slip away from Cade's body, lingering slightly to remind the older man of the truth behind his threats. Keeping himself between Cade and the exit, he stepped back and swung the door closed. Leaning against it, he stared at the other man. Slowly, Cade took three steps into the room, then turned to face his captor.

"Why?" A single word, to cover so many questions. His eyes were huge in his face, a combination of shock and impotent anger causing them to spark.

"I've been after him for years," Doyle returned flatly. "He killed a man. A good man." For a moment the feral emerald eyes turned inward, then they snapped back to Cade. "My partner. Nine years ago he killed my partner. And now he's going to get his."

Cade backed up, still moving slowly, keeping his eyes locked to Doyle's. When the backs of his knees hit the edge of the bed he sat down. Looking up at his erstwhile lover, he managed, "Partner? Were you ... running drugs too? Or was it guns, then?" His voice strengthened as it went, until by the end of his words they were an accusation flung in the face of the younger man.

Doyle, unaccountably, grinned at him. "Not quite."

Cade felt like he was in the middle of a nightmare. The locks were on, the alarms were operational when he got home, there was no indication of any sort of intruder. He'd stripped off his coat, tie and shoes as he wandered through the living room, deciding against a drink with the memories of the previous night strong in his mind. Wending his way into the bedroom for his robe, thinking that a hot shower might loosen whatever knots his thoughts were tied in, he hadn't seen the threat until Doyle had already jumped him. The helplessness, rage, disgust he had expected. The arousal, he had not.

He should have realized Doyle would threaten him with exposure. And the litany of details had pounded on his ears, making him flinch inwardly. It had also brought to the forefront of his memory all of the sensory overload of their lovemaking. He castigated himself for being a coward, but knew that there was no way he could take Doyle in. Partially because he could be, and in this case was being, blackmailed. He had lied in the past to keep his job -- his private life was his own business, and implying that Maria Romero was only under his protection because he admired her writing instead of because they were lovers was a minor penalty to pay to remain Chief. This was major, though, and he might very well end up losing his job over it. And his bloody conscience just might force him to do it, too. If Doyle was in this ring, somehow, if he was a drug pusher or a gun runner like Shipley ...

"Not quite." The little bugger was grinning at him. There was an instant when time shifted, present day amusement overlaid on the celluloid memory of years before, and it hit him. Cowley. The older man in the snapshot was George Cowley. The Controller of CI5 before his death and the subsequent disbanding of the department. The wide grin had thrown him off. The man had never smiled like that in public photos.

The younger man opposite him suddenly straightened and stepped forward. Cade looked up at him with surprise. "What about Cowley?" he demanded. Cade started. He hadn't realized he'd spoken aloud.

"I found a photo. In your hotel room." Doyle reached for his wallet, then stilled, and waited as Cade continued. "There were three men, laughing, embracing. You were in the center, and Cowley was behind you. The third man, was he-"

"Bodie." Doyle's voice was almost inaudible. Cade looked searchingly at him, the wealth of loss in the single word enough to keep him silent. Doyle abandoned his post between him and the door, and joined him on the mattress. Cade glanced at the door, weighed his chance at escape against his need to hear the rest of the story, and remained where he was, turning slightly to face Doyle on the side of the bed.

"What happened?" he prompted gently.

The dark green eyes opposite him narrowed, and the full lips tightened. For a long moment he thought that Doyle wouldn't answer, then the younger man took a deep breath.

"It should have been routine. Just following up a lead from a grass, shouldn't have been anything special. But they got the drop on us. There were three of 'em. I took one down but caught a bullet in the gut that put me on my back. Another one ran off, and we picked him up later. But Shipley ..." His voice choked, and Cade found himself inching sideways, offering mute comfort. His hand rose and settled between Doyle's shoulder blades, rubbing at the tense muscles in his back. Doyle cleared his throat roughly and forced the rest of the story out through gritted teeth. "He was crouched behind some crates. Shot Bodie in the back, bullet angled up and took out his throat. He was dead before he hit the pavement. I got to him too late, couldn't stop the bleeding, no fucking time to do anything. He was gone before I could get to him." Doyle was completely unaware of the tears slipping from the corners of his eyes, fixed resolutely on the horror of his past. "We'd been together for years, he was my best mate. Loved him like I've never loved anybody, ever. Didn't get the chance ..." His voice trailed off again, and he looked down at his hands, fingers twisting together in his lap, knuckles white with strain. "Tried to go on. Couldn't. Tried to off myself. Bloody Murphy found me. Must've been expecting it. Promised the Old Man I wouldn't go off half cocked and get the lousy bastard that killed my Bodie." Cade noticed the possessive, and drew his own, highly accurate, conclusions about the relationship the two men had shared. "Then Cowley died, and they broke up the squad. No chance, then, to do it the legal way. No more options. And no more promise. I want that bastard. He's mine. For Bodie."

Glittering eyes met his own, and Cade swallowed dryly. "I'm sorry, Ray. God, I'm sorry." He couldn't do it. Even if it meant his career, he couldn't sanction murder. "You were a witness. If -- when we catch him, you can put him away for Bodie's murder." Doyle stared at him silently. A hint of desperation crept into Cade's voice. "Damnit, Ray, what you want isn't justice. It's murder, as plainly as what Shipley did to Bodie." There was a flare in those watchful eyes, and Cade tensed, but the expected protest didn't materialize. "We'll get him, Ray. And when we do, you'll help us put him away. For the rest of his life."

They sat there for what could have been hours, no more words between them. Finally, Doyle swayed slightly, then leaned against Cade's shoulder.

"I'm so tired, Alan." The words were muffled as Doyle turned his face into the curve of Cade's shoulder, nuzzling into the warmth there. "He went to ground so fast and so far. I've been searching for him for so long."

Cade responded instinctively to the fatigue in the husky voice, both arms curling up to cradle the younger man against him. The events of the day subsided, and his need to comfort the other man overrode his own anger at the threats Doyle had leveled against him. There were depths of pain here he could understand, and lengths of desperation he could feel, all too clearly. The connection he'd sensed last night was still there, made stronger by the upheaval of the events of the day. Fear, betrayal, indecision melted in the heat flowing between them. Without a conscious decision ever being reached, he knew what he would do. What he had to do.

Moving steadily, slowly, he turned the younger man until he could reach the hem of his tee shirt, the snap at his jeans. Edging his fingertips under the soft cotton knit, he slid them surely under the material and drew the shirt up. Doyle lifted his head, staring at him silently. Cade met the look, clear eyed, fully aware of exactly what he was offering. In the depths of the emptiness there he saw puzzlement, followed rapidly by understanding, surprise, acceptance. Gradually the emptiness began to fade, replaced by the velvety black of dilating pupils as the shirt was deftly pulled over his head and allowed to fall to the floor. Doyle's belt followed, then Cade's fingers set to work at the fastening of his jeans, before he made an abortive move to do some undressing of his own. As the long fingers headed for the buttons at Cade's chest, the instigator of this bout of touching shook his head.

"No, Ray," he said clearly. "Let me. This is for you." Love, he added silently. Doyle seemed to understand the unspoken endearment, because he suddenly relaxed. Melting into the bed, he shifted his hips, making it easy for Cade to strip his jeans and pants off, taking his trainers and socks along the way. Cade felt a frisson of pure lust shiver up his spine at the sight of a completely nude Ray Doyle spread before him like a banquet, while he was still fully dressed. And he had thought himself wanton last night? He was drinking in the definition of the word. His hands reached out of their own accord, square fingertips running through the brown silk along Ray's chest, pausing to tease a rose brown nipple to a tight peak, feeling the ribs rise under his touch as the other man's breathing grew ragged. Still keeping a deliberate pace, he began to map the skin below his fingers, memorizing the flow of muscle and ridge of bone beneath the warm satin of fine-grained skin. An index finger traced long, parallel scars from a long ago surgery, encompassing nearly the length of the wide chest. Dual sweeps of his palms traced the breadth of Doyle's shoulders, the curve of his neck, lingered at the tendons along his throat, Cade's own personal weak spot. When a thumb caressed the hollow of his throat where the tendons came to a vee, the tender skin under Doyle's Adam's apple suddenly shivered under his touch, and a strangled whimper broke from the throat under his hand. A corresponding, uncontrollable thrust of the slender hips trapped by his thigh brought a smile to his face. Lowering his mouth to that spot he suckled gently, feeling the trapped pulse trip, then begin to pound. It seemed Ray had a weak spot of his own. He settled there for an extended period of teasing torment before grazing his way over the convulsively swallowing muscles, over the rounded ridge of jaw. Licking at the corner of Doyle's lips, he waited until the now-squirming body stilled before angling his head to take the full mouth with his own. The tiny moan he swallowed seemed to approve.

Cade could feel his own erection, trapped in the cotton and linen of his clothing, pulsing in sympathy with the pulse now under his fingers, but he refused to be hurried. He lingered for a long while over the sweet task of kissing Doyle, until both men were panting. Arousal, lack of oxygen, and heightened anticipation were slicking their skin with sweat and causing their bodies to twist together, striving for a rhythm Cade would not allow them to begin. Finally breaking away from the kiss, he forced his fingers to unwind from their tight grasp in Doyle's hair, the curls clinging to his hands as if reluctant to let him go. As he began to taste his way back down Ray's body, the younger man threw his head back against the mattress and began to growl slightly with each exhalation.

"God, Alan, please, do something, stop it, you're killing me, goddamnit, man, please, Alan, for god's sake, stop your fucking playing around and touch me--"

Cade let the litany of need wash over him as he finally settled between the other man's whipcord thighs, parting them gently, rubbing his knuckles softly over the tender skin where groin met thigh, carding his fingers through the wiry curls surrounding Doyle's erection. The thighs spread easily, eagerly, knees bending to shift the cradle of hips higher, straining cock searching blindly for an end to the torment. Cade was new to this, being in this position, but had been fellated often himself, and his own experiences reassured him. The musky scent was going to his head, and the sheer hunger he felt took him aback for a moment before he gave in to it. Wrapping one hand around the swollen shaft, he licked experimentally at the liquid pooling around the head. The flavor was salty, slightly bitter, but with an underlying sweetness he hadn't expected. Lost to the taste, he opened his mouth wider and sucked the head in, swirling his tongue around to gather more of the fluid, running the tip into the slit at the top, probing and laving it. The reaction was explosive.

"Fuck! Oh, fuck, Alan, yes, yesyesyesgodyes--" Doyle's entire body jerked, and Cade found himself falling into an automatic rhythm, pumping with his fist while sliding his mouth lower, sucking hard with every upward stroke. His left hand slid under the edge of his right palm, cupping the heavy testicles and rocking them side to side in the sac, in counterrhythm to his pumping action. The rush of encouragement falling from Doyle's mouth became incoherent, dissolving into inarticulate moans, steadily rising in volume, until his hips thrust violently upward as his balls contracted and his orgasm hit. Cade had the unexpected thought that he was glad he was holding Ray with both hands or he'd surely have choked, before the first rush of semen hit. Without pausing to think he began to swallow as quickly as he could. There was a high, wild wail from above him on the bed, and had his jaw not been completely occupied he would have smiled at the sound of Doyle losing himself to pleasure. Four hard, heavy bursts, and the climax subsided, leaving Doyle boneless and exhausted under his hands. Cade wasn't quite sure what to do next, so he contented himself with licking the last drops of semen from the warm, soft genitals, allowing them to slip from his mouth with one last, affectionate lick.

His own cock was straining near to bursting, and he looked at the delicious sprawl of limbs before him before going with instinct once more. Stripping quickly and tossing the clothing in the general direction of the laundry hamper, with fine disregard for the state of the expensive linen, he stretched full length beside his lover and kissed Ray thoroughly. The younger man roused himself, with a dazed smile, then curled his ankles around Cade and drew their pelvises together.

"You're ... that was incredible, Alan." The husky voice sounded utterly satiated, and devastatingly sexy. "But you didn't come." Cade shook his head mutely, hands busily roaming over the length of flank and rounded buttocks rubbing so temptingly against his groin. One hand petted Doyle's quiescent cock, and Doyle rocked up into his touch, spreading his thighs wider, lifting his legs higher, offering himself to Cade. "Don't you think it's about time you got yours, lover?" he teased. Heavy eyes smiled up at him. "C'mon, Alan. Fuck me. You want it." That damned throaty growl was back. "I want it. I want you."

The man could seduce a marble saint with that voice, not even taking into account that ass, and those eyes. Doyle lifted Cade's hand to his mouth, drawing two fingers into his mouth and sucking on them, wetting them thoroughly. Cade stared, mesmerized, every pull on his fingers mirrored with a pulse in his erection. Still without saying a word, taken under by the soft cadence of Ray's voice, urging him on, he shifted his hips back to give himself room. Doyle obligingly lifted his thighs, and Cade pressed his saliva-slick fingers into the tight ring between the muscled buttocks. The opening yielded reluctantly, then he could feel a conscious relaxation around his knuckles. The inside channel felt like nothing he'd ever felt before, a cross between the softness of a handful of rose petals and the slick of silk, and the heat and the tightness were incredible. Curling up, he bumped against a rounded protrusion, and Doyle arched and gasped. The sleepy, sated cock began to stir. Curious, he shifted his fingers and scissored them along the lump, and his lover reacted by humping strongly against his hand.

"Yeah, yeah, there, more, now, c'mon, Alan, stop pissing around and fuck me." The urgency was back, and he throbbed in sympathetic reaction. Yes, he would -- had to -- fuck him. No. Make love to him. He couldn't think about that distinction just now, but deep inside himself he knew it had been made.

Tongue inching out to wet lips suddenly gone dry, Cade raised his left hand to his mouth and licked it thoroughly, spreading the saliva and his own pre-ejaculate along his cock. He was so hard it almost hurt to touch himself, and he knew he wouldn't last long. Gently removing his hand from Ray's body, crooning softly at the whimpered sound of protest his action brought from his lover, he carefully placed his erection at the small entrance and pushed. It opened more easily than he expected, but he still took his time, as much to hold back his own incipient climax as to make it painless for Doyle. Soon, too soon, the younger man hooked his calves around Cade's waist and pulled them together, completing their joining. Cade stayed there for several heartbeats, biting his lip to maintain his control. The steady undulations below him defeated his resolve, and he found himself beginning a short, hard rocking motion. By the other man's reactions, it must have been what he wanted, for the words became moans again and the rhythm quickly escalated until they were slamming into one another. Cade clenched his fists into the wild curls spread across the pillow, arching his back to thrust into the tight heat, and Doyle matched him movement for movement. One elegant hand snaked between them to take up a matching beat on Doyle's weeping cock, and Cade forced his eyes to stay open, enthralled with the sight of Ray pleasuring himself as he pumped into him. The combination of sight and sensation were too much, and he came hard, teeth bared in a deep-throated howl, back bowed with the force of the orgasm.

He lost himself in the aftermath, his world flying apart, and when he came back to himself he was curled atop Doyle, still buried in his body. Ray was thrusting into the soft skin of his abdomen, moaning and squeezing himself, wild with need. Cade reached down between them and kneaded Doyle's balls, and the firm touch pushed him over the edge, a warm wash of semen wetting them, seeping along their skin. When the muscles surrounding him finally stopped spasming, Cade lowered himself away from his lover, feeling each inch as he slipped from the tight channel. Helping an exhausted Doyle to settle comfortably, absently rubbing at the trembling muscles in his thighs, Cade reached around their entwined bodies and pulled up the covers. The lights could just stay on. They were both so tired it wouldn't begin to interfere with their sleep.

He wasn't sure what woke him, but the overhead light was still burning, and his eyes felt as though they had been wiped with sandpaper. Doyle barely cracked his lids, listening intently, taking an automatic check of his surroundings and his position before allowing himself to move. When his mind processed what his ears had picked up, he was glad for his ingrained caution.

"How badly was he hit? ... Then how do you know he -- all right. When did the call come in? Why the hell didn't you say so? ... No. No, I'll come myself. Don't make a move on the house until I get there. He's aware, now, and animals get vicious when they're cornered. They still have their weapons -- yes, extreme caution ... Ten minutes, maybe less. Right. Yeah. Do it." The soft click signaled the end of the conversation. He closed his eyes, breathing evenly, and listening as hard as he could. Slight sound of movement, the sensation of being watched, intently, before the presence moved away from the bed. Doyle waited for the shuffle of the door and the solid snick of the latch before launching himself from the bed. He was dressed, had scooped up his Walther from the drawer where he had ditched it earlier in the afternoon, and was out the door a bare moment after Cade had cleared the drive. Keeping close watch on the disappearing tail lights, he scurried to the side of the house, hot-wiring a motorcycle he'd noted earlier in case of just this sort of eventuality. Wincing at the noise, loud in the quiet evening, he mounted the bike and began very carefully tailing the Chief's car.

Cade had called the time well. It was eleven minutes and a few seconds to spare when he pulled up in the quiet side street and joined the three cars already sealing it off. The object of attention was a small, nondescript house near the corner, nothing to distinguish it from its neighbors. Doyle took a parallel street and marked the location, then ditched the bike a block over and made his way through the access alley to the back of the house. He met little resistance, and the two PCs he did put down didn't make a sound. He settled them carefully next to the back garden fence, sparing a single thought for the headaches they would suffer when they came around, then did a quick, thorough recon of the back and sides of the house. He saw a shadowy figure through the curtains in the kitchen, and felt a singing in his nerves when he recognized the nervous, quick movements. Oh, yeah, it was Shipley, from the bulky bandages on his shoulder and the way he moved. And he was scared. On the run. He knew he was surrounded. Come to papa, old son, Doyle crooned to himself, and sighted his weapon on the small side door. Shipley had only one way out, and it was directly in his field of fire.

To his intense frustration, the light on the neighboring house suddenly flipped on, flooding the alley with brightness. He felt movement at his back, and everything seemed to go to hell at once. There was a shout behind him, a young man's voice he didn't recognize, strong accent marking him as a local boy, yelling at him, asking him what the bleedin' 'ell he was doin' on his bleedin' step. The side door opened, Shipley started through the door, saw him outlined sharply in the sickly yellow light, and froze like a rabbit in front of a bus. Several bodies rushed around the corner of the building, Cade leading the pack, and the area was suddenly full to the brim with guns held by nervous hands. For an instant, everything was still. Doyle fancied he could hear their hearts all stop beating for that one instant, then the weird paralysis broke. Shipley panicked, snapping off a shot toward the shape he saw clearest -- Doyle. The nosy neighbor reacted to the pinging whistle of the shot, squeaked once, and dove back into his house, slamming the door and shutting off the light. The abrupt plunge into darkness blinded everyone, and while their eyes were adjusting, Shipley ran for the drive, Doyle darted out of the alley after him, and Cade followed them both with a barked order to his men to search the house. Doyle couldn't think why he didn't yell for them to follow, but he wasn't going to question his luck. He was vaguely aware of a stinging along his bicep, and warm wetness along his elbow, but he shook off the inconsequential distractions and concentrated on his quarry.

Shipley didn't know the area, and neither did Doyle, but Cade did. As the drug dealer pounded desperately through the street, between houses, over fences, with Doyle steadily gaining ground, the ex-agent heard Cade take off down a side street. Must know something I don't, shot through his mind, but he didn't have time to dwell on it. He could hear Shipley's breath catching in near-sobs, and his gait was ragged, feet starting to stumble as adrenaline drained and exhaustion took its place. One more fence, a last-ditch trash container tumbled into his path which he easily vaulted, and he had him cornered.

The alley, a dark slice between two squat brick buildings, dead-ended in a rickety fence piled high with garbage and debris. A single lamppost by the corner of one building gave a weak light to the scene. Shadows played tricks with light, and it took a moment for Doyle to see Shipley, crouched by a broken crate piled next to a rusty dumpster. The angle ... the angle was wrong, he thought fuzzily. His eyes were stinging, and his legs felt rubbery. He brought his gun up, and everything shifted.

When did it get so dark? It was just a routine check up on a bit of info from a grass. Nothing major. Then the noise, a shudder in the air. His body hurt. What happened? Got to turn. Can't seem to move fast enough -- like everything's in slow motion. That's it, now you got it, Bodie's in trouble, have to get there, saw him go down, who is that? By the crate? In the shadow? Got a gun. He's. Got.


There was the sharp report of a gun, echoed a blink later by another. He felt the kiss of the air as it moved past him, almost like a fingertip parting his hair. He didn't move. Couldn't move. Wasn't there. Watched a pasty-faced man with stringy blonde hair half-rise from a crouch by a ruined crate, lift a gun, jerk, and fall. But what he saw was a solid young man with short dark hair and wide, strong hands jolt to an ungraceful heap on a greasy cement floor. There was blood, in the alley, on the chest of the dead man. And he saw the blood, but not on the asphalt. It was on creamy pale skin. A sculpted jawline. Spattered across wide blue eyes and caught in long dark lashes.


He didn't see the dark-haired man in the white shirt and grey slacks with the gun in his hand. He stared at the body sprawled at his feet, and he saw the blood.

Cade was afraid he wasn't going to get there in time. Part of him cursed himself for not calling for back-up, and questioned his motives. Was he really so fearful of having his recent exploits become known? Was it some sort of hubris to think he could handle this on his own, capture Shipley, restrain Doyle, and keep all the sordid little details out of the public eye? Was that what he was doing, racing across the dark streets, trusting his instinct on where they would go?

As he ran, catching glimpses of Doyle and trying his damnedest to cut around them and head them off, he realized that wasn't the motivation behind his actions. Somewhere along the line, he'd decided to trust Ray Doyle. Obviously, under the circumstances, it was pretty bloody stupid. But there was something in him that was determined to protect the younger man, from disclosure, from the police, from the criminals, from himself if need be. Cade had lost partners, hell, had lost lovers, and knew that pain. Oh, not to the extent Doyle had, perhaps -- he had never held the lifeless body of his lover in his arms, never tried to take his own life in despair. But he knew what it was to invest years in another person then have that person suddenly leave. And he knew, God, how he knew, how much it hurt to lose a love to death and never have the chance to say good-bye.

His chaotic thoughts were interrupted by Doyle dashing up a side street. He had them, now. There were only two outlets from that street. One led to a wide open field, no cover, and not the place Shipley would choose. The other was into a deep alley, and he knew the back way in. He dove through an opening in a fence, wincing as the wire cut into his shin, then worked his way through a pile of old cardboard and discarded boards. Pausing with the alley in sight, he saw Shipley careen around the corner, skid to a stop and curl up in a vain attempt to hide by the dumpster. Doyle was right on his heels, and the two men stared at one another for a moment. Cade drew a sharp breath when he saw Doyle. The man's torso was covered in blood, and his left arm was clenched unconsciously close to his waist. Shipley cowered, and Doyle drew his weapon. Cade was on the verge of stepping forward when Doyle suddenly paled, staring at a point just in front of Shipley. His face was twisted with horror, eyes wide enough that even in the dim light Cade could see the unfocussed stare. Something was very, very wrong. Before he had the chance to call out, Shipley broke out of his crouch and raised his arm to fire. Cade tried to shout warning, reacted on instinct, and fired as well. His ears rang slightly from the report, but he heard another shot, an instant before he'd pulled the trigger. Time stood still, and he flashed back to a training session, and an instructor telling him he was dead. But he wasn't ... Ray. Oh, God, Ray.

Shipley lay flat on his face, arms splayed out at his sides, handgun still clenched in one bony fist. Doyle stood perfectly still, gun half raised, frozen in position. He stepped forward over the body, keeping his eyes on the younger man, watching for a reaction. Any reaction. As he got closer he realized that Doyle was speaking, whispering, really.


Oh, shit. He was having a flashback. Cade stopped, took a calming breath, and pitched his voice low to carry to the traumatized man. "Doyle. Ray. It's me. It's Alan Cade. Can you hear me, Ray? Do you know where you are? You're safe, Ray. You're safe now, I'm here. It's going to be okay, now." When Doyle continued to stare at the ground, Cade took the chance of approaching him. He very slowly reached out, talking quietly, reassuringly, the entire time, and curled his fingers over the clenched fist holding the gun. "It's Alan, Ray. You know me. I'm your friend." Wasn't he? Yes. He believed he was. As he carefully pried the long fingers away from the gunstock, he raised his other hand and softly stroked Doyle's left forearm. The blood was sticky, still flowing too freely for his liking. "You're hurt, Ray. Will you let me help you? Please?" He finally got the gun away from Doyle and tossed it into the shadows behind them, visually noting the location so his men could pick it up during the clean-up. The muscles under his hands suddenly tightened, then relaxed, and the cloudy green eyes met his.

"Alan?" Doyle's voice sounded slurred. Blood loss and exhaustion were piling on top of too many years of stress and he was going under to the combined forces pulling at his body.

"It's okay, Ray," he soothed, and took the last step to bring himself next to the now-trembling body. Doyle stretched his right hand up and curved it around Cade's waist in a weak hug, leaning against the solid warmth, burying his head in the side of Cade's neck. Careful of the torn shoulder, he looped his own arms around the wounded man, and rested his face in Doyle's matted, sweaty curls. It had been one hell of a night.

On the heels of the thought, he heard the squeal of tires, slamming doors, a familiar voice. "Sir!!" Charlie. Good man, Charlie. Other voices joined his driver's, and he took a deep breath, drawing strength from the scent of the man in his arms.

"Get an ambulance, Charlie. And the M.E. We've got casualties."

The inquest was painful. The coroner was very straightforward, but the press, always eager to root through any dirt surrounding their Chief Constable, grilled him mercilessly. Coming so soon on the heels of Maria's death, and with the strain of Doyle's precarious health pulling at him, Cade had a very difficult time maintaining his decorum.

All the details came out, of course. Oh, not the fact that he was fucking the man currently recovering from surgery in hospital, but everything else in Doyle's past. His years as a CI5 agent. Bodie's death. His breakdown and suicide attempt. His quest for vengeance against the man who had murdered his partner. It made sensational reading and the public ate up every serving the press could present. He was just relieved that Ray was unconscious at the height of the media feeding frenzy. Public opinion swayed with the moment, but generally came down on Doyle's side. Drug runners weren't popular in East Anglia, and the curly headed moppet seen in the press picture accompanying most of the stories conjured visions of a battered innocent. Doyle would have laughed himself sick at the misconceptions, but he was, thankfully, dead to the world through the worst of it.

The inquiry into his own actions skirted uncomfortably close to intimate details, but he managed to satisfy them with their previous professional acquaintance, and a bare-bones story of catching up with an old friend. He felt like he was dancing through a minefield. All it would take would be one wrong word, one misstep, and his world would blow up in his face. He wasn't had no proof that Doyle had gotten information from him, but he had a strong suspicion that that was what had happened. His emotions were in a complete turmoil, although he kept up a solid front for everyone around him. With his mood swinging from relief at Doyle's survival to anger at his betrayal, pain to hope to rage to warmth to frustration, his mind tangled in knots between the demands of his body and his heart, he was a dangerous man to be around. He didn't say a word about seeing Doyle at the warehouse. Just as Maria had just been an author and activist he admired, Doyle became an ex-copper he'd worked with and shared a few drinks with. Privately, he wondered if he would ever fall in love with someone he could admit to loving in public.

Doyle was in extremely good health, current injuries aside, and it was only three weeks before he was fit to be discharged. Alan had visited only twice in that time, and had timed the visits carefully. Doyle had been unconscious both times. He castigated himself yet again for his cowardice, but he couldn't face Ray. He had to get it straight in his mind, first. Had to know what he was going to say, what he was going to do. How much he was willing to give up, and what he would get if he did.

It was an uncomfortable three weeks.

It had been a long three weeks.

Part of his mind knew, of course, that he was in a state of delayed shock. Even knew the name for it. For a moment, Kate Ross' fine-boned face popped up in front of Doyle's eyes, and he could hear her clipped voice. Post traumatic stress disorder, severe depression, sense of dislocation, loss of purpose, deliberate distancing from reality to cushion the blow of losing his partner, first, and his direction, secondly. Sliding directly into a disassociative state if he didn't do something about it, and damned fast. Not that she'd ever actually say 'damned', of course.

Well, perhaps in these circumstances, she might.

He stared at the blank white ceiling, wondering what the fuck he was going to do with himself now. He'd been on the move so long, he only had one friend left, really. And Murph was clear the hell and gone down in Wales, happily ensconced in his cottage in Trapp, bear- leading tourists through the Brecon Beacons. He wanted to get away, but he wasn't sure he wanted to get that far away. People would be nice. Moorland and craggy drops weren't really what he had in mind. It was gorgeous, yeah, but there was ... too much silence. And he had already had too much time to think.

Before his thoughts could lead him back into the bleak depression he'd been fighting since he woke up after surgery, his doctor bounced into the room. That was another thing. Why the bloody hell did the doctors have to be so fucking happy? And so young?

"Well, Mr. Doyle, I have good news for you. We've no reason left to keep you here. You're as fit as we can make you."

The attempt to look professional and serious sat oddly on the young face, and Doyle tried to make up his mind whether to laugh at him or yell at him. Before he could reach a decision, a crisp voice spoke from the doorway.

"That's good to hear, doctor. I'll be taking charge of Mr. Doyle, then." Alan Cade walked through the doorway and stopped by the chair, a nylon sports bag in his hands. "Here. I've brought you some clothes." Doyle stared at him, willing him to meet his eyes, but after one spare glance Cade concentrated on the doctor. They settled the paperwork, ordered a wheelchair, and generally arranged his life for him, and he found himself completely incapable of saying a word. Finally, the doctor stepped briskly from the room, leaving the two men together. As the door swished gently shut behind him, Doyle finally found his voice.

"What the fuckin' hell was THAT all about?" He hadn't really meant to roar. It just came out that way.

"Don't start with me, Doyle," Cade shot back, just as crusty and belligerent as he had been. "Get your ass out of bed and put on your clothes." Doyle scowled at him, and Cade gave him a spurious smile. "Unless, of course, you'd rather take a trip to headquarters. That can also be arranged."

Ray swallowed dryly. Oh, hell. Of course. He'd be charged. He'd been carrying an illegal weapon, had interfered with a police investigation, nearly gotten the fucking Chief Constable shot, not to mention seducing him then trying to blackmail him, on top of breaking into confidential police files. He was in very deep shit indeed.

"No, not really," came the quiet answer. He looked up sharply. He hadn't realized he'd spoken aloud. Have to watch that, thinking out loud. Could scare somebody, with what was in his head.

"Why not?" It was a sincere question. He really should be in trouble. He'd asked, hell, begged for it. Cade sighed, and handed him a sweatshirt and a pair of jeans, rummaging through the bag to come up with shorts and socks as well.

"I'll talk while you dress."

He took the older man at his word and caught up the clothes. When Cade made no move to turn away, he straightened his shoulders and stripped off the hospital gown. After all, it wasn't like the man hadn't already seen it all. "So, talk."

"There's been an inquiry into the shooting. The Walther was still registered to you, and hadn't been discharged."

He felt the blood drain from his face at that. The details of that night were still unclear, but he could have sworn he had shot at Shipley. He knew from the gossip and the newspapers that Cade had fired the fatal shot, but he had believed that he had fired as well. When the ringing in his ears finally faded away, he tuned back into what Cade was saying.

"-taking into your training as a police officer and CI5 agent into account, as well as your assistance in bringing down a known felon-" Doyle goggled at that. Cade ignored him and continued. "You tracked Shipley when the local police lost him and detained him long enough for me to get there, even though you were wounded. Given the restraint you showed in not killing the suspect, considering the just cause you had for shooting him-" He interrupted again, this time with an involuntary interrogative noise. "Goddamnit, Ray, shut up and let me finish!" The accompanying glare was impressive. He subsided and listened, pulling on his jeans and stuffing his feet into socks and shoes. "This criminal was responsible for an agent's death, your own breakdown and you leaving CI5. He'd eluded justice then, and when he was found, in a town you'd visited for the sole purpose of painting some rustic scenery and in the jurisdiction of a man who just happened to be an old acquaintance, he shot you -- and you chased him down and held him for the police and you didn't shoot him." The last came out all in a rush, leaving Cade slightly breathless. He looked at the Chief, taking in the fierce expression in the jade eyes and the firm set to the sculpted lips, and wondered who the older man was trying to convince.

"So." He wiggled his toes, trying to find the right words. "That's your story and you're sticking to it." Oops. Not quite the tone he'd meant to strike. He winced slightly, then looked back up to meet Cade's eyes. To his surprise, the compressed lips were twitching, and he looked as if he was biting his tongue. Making a split second decision and hoping like hell he wouldn't regret it, he swept the empty sports bag up in one fist and plopped himself into the wheelchair. "Home, James."

Cade looked at him as if he'd lost his mind for the space of several moments, then lost his own battle with his sense of humor. The twitch grew into a grin, and he laughed, long and hard. Doyle grinned cheekily back up at him. When the other man sobered, Doyle mirrored the expression.

"It's not going to be that easy, mate. I have ... some things to work through." His voice had a disconcerting shake in it as he spoke. The emotions were still too close to the surface.

"A shitload," Cade agreed emphatically. "And so do I," he added, in a much softer tone. He moved around to the back of the chair and gripped the handles. Doyle leaned his head back against the solid warmth of his abdomen, and stared up at his face. It was wide open, vulnerable, an unusual expression for such a private man.

"Do you think we can make this work, Alan?" he forced himself to ask quietly.

Cade stared down at him. The jade darkened to pure malachite again, but not cold, not now. "I don't know, Ray. We can try."

They held one another's gaze for some time, until Doyle finally broke the contact and pulled his head up. Staring straight ahead, feeling Cade's warmth surrounding him, feeling at peace for the first time in years, he allowed himself a genuine smile. "Yeah," he rumbled softly. "We can try."

-- THE END --

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