In for a Penny, In for a Pound
He'd been nursing the same whiskey for nearly an hour, occupying one of the pub's prime tables with very little return for the establishment. None of the regular customers had the nerve to challenge the hard, pale countenance of the leather-jacketed stranger--he looked too fit and spoiling for a fight to risk a confrontation for a chair...better a pint in peace propped against the wall. So it came as a surprise when a newcomer paid for his bitter and crossed over to the table.
"Bodie! Jesus Christ! It must be fifteen years since I last saw you--lot o' water under the bridge since Africa."
The seated stranger's wavy black hair was clearly visible as he didn't bother to lift his head and acknowledge the man addressing him in such a friendly fashion. It wasn't until the standing man's fingers grazed the leather clad shoulder that any reaction was forthcoming; the patrons of the bar thought the anticipated fight was about to happen and undoubtedly the glowering man in black leather would win. But they were doomed to disappointment.
"Who the fuck are you?" Dark eyes that might be blue in sunlight, instead of the slate grey now surrounded by bloodshot whites, squinted menacingly up at the unwelcome intruder. The beautiful lips were made ugly by the insulting sneer that warped their soft shape. Undaunted by this obvious distaste, the other man pulled up a chair and seated himself, seemingly oblivious to the attention being paid them by the locals.
"Come on, Bodie, you remember me--Tomlin."
"I don't know who the fuck you are--" But the sandy haired man interrupted his table mate, dropping his voice below the noise level of the pub.
"I'm Toad Tomlin, no need to pretend you don't know me.... You've changed, Bodie. Balls! Don't you remember? Angola? Belgian Congo?"
Tomlin watched as the bigger man finished his whiskey and waited for some response to his questions.
"It's been a long time...Toad. Like you say, lot of water under the bridge," the man called Bodie answered at last.
Relief flooded Tomlin's face as he happily slagged back his own drink. "Good ol' Bodie! Listen, I owe you a big one--quite a few of the rat pack were secretly glad that you put that Spanish fucker in his place. World's a better place without the likes o' Krivas--waste o' good food and air, I'll tell you to your face."
"Krivas," The name was echoed softly with some measure of memory evident on the classically handsome face.
"Still cautious, lad...it's good to see that the SAS and the secret police haven't changed you too much."
A steely-edged gaze cut across the scarred tabletop to pin Tomlin in his seat. "You said you owe me, Toad. What have you got? Anything?"
Caution crept into Tomlin's voice as he leaned forward to practically whisper into the shell of the other's ear. "Not here, not now...and not for free."
"Where and how much?" was the hard reply.
"The Irish Pub, tomorrow at 1600 hours...and for you, Bodie, a bargain. It's worth seven, but I'll take five."
Five thousand pounds. For that much money, he knew it had to be big, perhaps bigger than his last undercover op. He took the chance that he could sell the Commander and committed sight unseen.
"I'll be there with the money." With a tight nod to Tomlin, he paid his bill and departed the smokey pub.
Doyle looked down at the sleep-tousled man in bed beside him. 'Bodie-mate, you're fucking gorgeous; too bad I can't tell you,' he thought jokingly. 'But you're so bloody vain now it'd be like putting petrol on a raging fire.' With a dirty chuckle, Doyle laughed at his own bit of internal humour. It was more of a running joke, after all their years together, than a character knock. If he gave it any thought, Doyle knew that the reason he didn't compliment Bodie more often, was that it made him uncomfortable. Bodie was a man who appreciated action, and as such, Doyle expected his actions to speak louder than words. Every time he kissed Bodie, the press of his lips should tell his mate that he was cherished and loved.
Being a man's lover wasn't new to Ray Doyle--he'd always accepted his own bisexuality, sublimating either part of himself depending on how the cards of life dealt his hand. Omnivorous, he appreciated the male and female form equally as a potential bedmate...one just happened to be socially more acceptable to take home to mother. No, it took more than a beautiful body or even a sharp mind to keep his interest; it took equal measures of aloofness, danger and something he called heart. Bodie had all these qualities in bulk.
Having been a copper before he was a CI5 agent had taught Doyle he didn't give a damn about social acceptability. Furthermore, as his mother was long dead and he had no intention of bringing anyone home to meet the scattered remnants of his clan, Doyle didn't choose to weigh any other considerations except his own. If he felt any residual desire for a stamp of approval on his relationship with Bodie, he wished it could come from Cowleyfor Bodie's sake, if not his own. Bodie hadn't been as free or lucky as himself, his homosexuality had been hidden behind rabid runs of heterosexual behavior, publicly screwing women 'round half the world, privately seeking pleasure with discreet men and male-whores. Bodie'd had a case of hero worship for the Controller, since George Cowley had recruited him for CI5 nine years ago...it would mean a lot to his broody partner if somehow the Cow could approve of his choice of mate.
'Not likely,' Doyle thought realistically. 'Not the way the world works.' But he and Bodie had discussed it--what they would do when Cowley could no longer turn a blind eye. The hope was there that they could continue their careers in CI5, but they weren't totaIly dependent on a system that had asked them for blood and was just as likely to turf them out if it was commonly known they were in a gay marriage.
Looking across the room at his scattered camera equipment, Doyle grinned wickedly as he turned his gaze down to the broad, white expanse of his lover's chest. Reaching out, he gently tweaked a tiny, pink nipple. What had started as a hobby two years ago, had grown into a sizable part of his work. 'Bet I could really make money,' Doyle thought with a sensual twist to his lips, 'by taking naughty pictures of a certain butch Bodie in the buff.' The illicit fantasy was enough to cause Doyle's cock to rapidly swell. A fantasy was all it would ever be as neither Bodie nor their jobs would allow such photos, even if Doyle could overcome his own jealousy.
Unable to resist the call of his own cock or the generously spread banquet of loving man beside him, Doyle bent his head to the sleeping form and nuzzled Bodie's other nipple; a soft, sleepy murmur of pleasure came from the sleeper's throat. His free hand fished around in the bedstand drawer--Doyle didn't want to pause later, in the heat of the moment, for mundane details like lubricant. Feeling about for the blue and white tube, he located it among the magazines and condoms and assorted stuff that ends up in bedstand drawers. Taking the tube in hand, he stowed it safe under a pillow.
Precautions taken, Doyle straddled Bodie, careful to allow only a fraction of his weight to rest on the still-sleeping form of his lover. Taking most of his weight on his elbows, he slid his hands up and under the smooth, broad back until his fingertips could grip the curled stands of jet-black hair and stroke the muscular column of his lover's neck. Breath deepening at the warm, close smell that typified Bodie--a combination of male musk, clean sweat and faded cologne--Doyle couldn't resist burying his face in the bend of Bodie's shoulder. Grip tightening, lips delicately brushing the soft, white skin, Doyle inhaled deeply; his heart beat a harder tattoo in response to the good scent. Starting at the armpit, he caressed Bodie's body with his tongue, moving up to follow the natural hollow above the collarbone, not stopping until he reached the sharp stubble of morning beard. Strong arms came up to encircle his waist, and Doyle knew his mate was finally awake.
"What's got you all hot an' bothered this early?" Bodie rumbled into flyaway auburn hair.
"Look in the mirror--when I'm done with you," Doyle answered between lick-kisses.
Conversation gave way to small gasps of delight and lush groans of pleasure as they began to rock together, in moments, Bodie's own cock was as hard as Doyle's. They continued this gentle, familiar foreplay and could have easily come in this position--except Doyle wanted more. Looking down into hazed, sapphire eyes, he roughly brought his lips down on Bodie's, kissing him with an intensity that could leave little doubt to his desires. Regardless of morning breath and the rasp of beards, Doyle used his own tongue to fish out Bodie's, and then sucked powerfully. Releasing him abruptly, Doyle's passion-rough voice rasped, I want to fuck you, mate...make it feel good."
Even if he wanted to, looking up into the canted, moss-coloured eyes, Bodie was unable to deny the man he loved. Though when Doyle was like this, all cabled muscles and raging desire, it was an act of will to submit. Ray had always been careful in all their time together, but Bodie's years of anonymous cruising had ingrained cautiousness into his soul. The big and butch had no trouble attracting those wanting to receive a quick fuck, but looking the way he did, with desires diametrically opposed to his appearance, had caused Bodie a world of grief There were a lot of freaks out there who got off on dominating strong men.
Today, Bodie stretched his neck in invitation, and Doyle kissed down the beautiful throat, the pulse of the great vein throbbing visibly. Feeling under the pillow for the lube, Doyle's other hand cupped Bodie's heavy hanging balls. Slowly, gently, he kneaded them, rolling them about in the sac as he unscrewed the lube's top. Filling his palm with the clear gel, Doyle brought his lips to Bodie's straining shaft and artfully pushed the foreskin back with his tongue. Taking more of the head into his mouth, Doyle brought his hand down to the hidden opening of his lover's body. Liberally applying the thick gel, he circled the clenched opening once before slowly pushing one coated finger in deep.
'Oh, Christ, mate,' Bodie thought as blinding elation took him up and out of his body--Doyle was swallowing him to the root while playing with his prostate. "Yeah, Ray," Bodie moaned by way of encouragement. Doyle, more quickly this time, slid in another finger. Giving Bodie a moment to adjust, he scissored his fingers while rubbing across the spongy nub of the pleasuring gland. As the massage continued, Bodie surged upwards in an uncontained reaction and then rolled over onto his stomach. Not allowing his deep-buried fingers to become dislodged, Doyle followed his lover's movements, only choosing to pull out when Bodie's groans of pleasure changed pitch; he placed the tip of his prick at the soft, hot opening. Gathering his knees beneath him, Bodie pushed back against the shaft, positioning himself for loving.
"Do it, Ray--" Bodie's voice ground out as the first hot nudge against his arsehole began.
The sensation of his lover's cock penetrating his arse was exquisite. Lean hands separated his cheeks as gun-calloused fingertips dug pleasurably into his hips; the resulting tug on the flesh around his arsehole was shocking and electric. Bodie could feel how his opening clutched the long slide of Ray's cock. Two years ago, there would have been the resulting pain to deal with and sublimate--a price easily paid for the honour and pleasure of taking his man's love deep inside himself. But Bodie was now well used to this particular sex practice and revelled in their fucking.
Doyle could feel Bodie tighten his body around his hard, aching cock and felt the surge of pleasure that heralded orgasm. Pulling nearly out, he began a fast, slamming stroke that would bludgeon his lover's prostate. It wasn't often that they did it this way; Bodie liked his loving soft and gentle and shied away from rough affection in the bedroom. Doyle watched the powerful body arch in pleasure beneath him; he knew that Bodie was giving him a special treat--a hard, fast fuck. His hands clenched tight enough to bruise the white-muscled flesh, helpless against the desire to fully take what was being offered.
The slap-slap of belly against arse was loud in the flat, as Doyle concentrated on peaking quickly, knowing how sore this sort of fucking could make one feel for days after. Bodie writhed beneath him, moaning and pushing back into his grasp, the beautiful, rounded cheeks clenching and unclenching around his cock, seeking to pull orgasm from the core of his body. Further stimulated by the intensely erotic image of his shaft being consumed again and again by Bodie's body, blinding orgasm came, imparted powerfully into the hidden recesses of his lover. Doyle gave an inarticulate cry of release as he ground into Bodie, forcing Bodie down into the mattress, his own sinewy body covering the more powerful one beneath him as his pelvis twitched and circled helplessly, cock buried to the hilt in the willing flesh of his mate.
Slowly, their breathing returned to normal, and Doyle slid off Bodie's sweat-slick back to lay companionably beside him. Rolling over and taking the leaner man in his arms, Bodie caressed his lover, cherishing the man who was more than his partner. Bending his dark head, Bodie lapped up the perspiration gathered in the furry hollows of Doyle's chest; reverently he kissed the entry wound scars made by Mayli's bullets as he traced the ridged seam where ribs had been spread.
Their affair, long hinted at and secretly hoped for by both men, had started only after Bodie had brought Doyle home from hospital--not immediately, for he needed months to regain his health and sexuality, but after it was certain that Doyle would return to CI5.
"I love you, Ray," Bodie murmured softly. Bodie had almost quit hoping to hear the sentiment echoed back--almost, but not quite. His life with Doyle was good: they had careers they both liked that allowed them to work together, a committed relationship over two years old and a sex life that couldn't be beat. But Bodie longed for the words, the actual expressions of faith and devotion that he so willingly gave Doyle. Releasing his mate with a final stroke to the tousled curls, Bodie moved to the edge of the bed and sat up.
"Where are you off to?" Doyle asked sleepily, voice muffled by the pillow.
"I told Cowley I'd do his minding for him today."
"We're on stakeout tonight," Doyle stated flatly, displeasure clearly evident.
"Yeah, well, I've got a very understanding partner who'll let me sleep first shift. Besides," Bodie added as he crossed to the loo, a glistening smear of cum making itself known between his arsecheeks, "Cowley always feeds me the kinds of meals you're too cheap to buy."
Not deigning to answer, Doyle fell asleep to the sounds of Bodie's shower.
There were few half-measures when dealing with the old man--being Cowley's bodyguard and chauffeur for the day was always either dead-boring or deadly. Thankfully, today looked to be the former, and Bodie was looking forward to being included in dinner at Cowley's club, the type of establishment he doubted he would ever be able to afford.
Bodie knew that Cowley liked taking along one of his field agents when making his rounds of the ministry. The hard-looking men and women in CI5 employ were always a subtle reminder to those who held the purse strings; these grim warriors were needed to keep equally grim villains from the doorstep. It was for this reason that Bodie kept his face in a hard, closed mask, only altering his expression to occasionally narrow his eyes into a barely civil scowl. Cowley, ever aware of his surroundings, had to know what his agent was doing and must secretly approve. At the least, it would make for a good story in the car with Doyle tonight.
'It'll soon be ten years I've been with this mob,' Bodie thought. 'I could do worse than to be pulled off the streets and assigned to minding full-time.' Evening was fast approaching as the two CI5 men entered the underground car park on their last stop of the day. 'Regular hours, good food, not nearly as many bombs and bullets to dodge.' Just then Bodie's suspicions about his earlier musings were confirmed when Cowley spoke.
"Ye can leave your gargoyle's face in the car at this next stop, Bodie...I wouldn't want my Club to think I was dabbling in daemonology."
"Yes, sir," came Bodie's laughing reply as they descended the concrete incline of the entrance ramp. "Off to your Club then?"
"Aye. I suppose you'll be wanting supper before ye're off to the Cromley stakeout."
"The thought had crossed my mind. Sir," Bodie answered facetiously as they approached the red Ford Escort. Even on a milk run like today, the agent didn't neglect his duties. Scanning the interior of the car, Bodie also took a quick walk around, checking for any obvious signs of tampering, only to find the left front tyre flat. "Bloody hell," Bodie said, exasperated as he noted that the air had been deliberately bled-off. Looking at the other cars nearby, Bodie was relieved to see that several were sitting on their rims--much more suggestive of hooligans than international terrorists.
"Kids," Cowley said, echoing his unspoken thought.
Disgusted, Bodie moved to the boot to retrieve the tools necessary for repairs when that old survival instinct--intuition--reared its head. Suddenly uneasy for no evident reason, Bodie transferred the Escort's keys to his left hand and placed the right on the butt of his revolver. With a tight nod to Cowley, Bodie presented the smallest target by turning sideways as he unlocked the boot. He'd barely had a moment to release his pent-up breath at the sight of the empty space, before the hatches of two neighboring cars were explosively flung up, revealing their cargo of armed assailants.
In a blur, Bodie's gun was out and a half-second later Cowley's revolver joined his. No longer mindful of minimizing himself as a target, Bodie turned to face the balaclavaed attackers, making himself a more choice mark than the older man he was guarding.
"BACK!" Bodie roared above the sound of his first shot which took the closer of the two hooded men in the chest; whether his command was for Cowley or their attackers, it didn't matter. From the comer of his eye, Bodie could see the blond Scot move to an unmarked doorway--probably the stairwell. Squeezing off two more rounds to cover him, Bodie commenced a crouching run across the open space to the doorway. Plastered in the lee of the wall, taking advantage of the small amount of cover, the well-trained agent in Bodie quickly and cruelly evaluated their chances of escape together and came up with zero.
Exposing himself long enough to fire twice more, he ducked back and completed his thought. With only one bullet left before he would be forced to reload, that was undoubtedly when the rush on their position would come. Bodie pressed his face to the door's tiny glass window. Cowley had paused on the first step, waiting that magic moment to see what Bodie's evaluation would be--stand or fall.
'GO! Just go!' Bodie mouthed the words through the glass and turned to hold the door against those who would attempt to kidnap CI5's Controller, for a kidnapping this must be or they would already be dead. As long as there wasn't a hooded stranger waiting at the top of the stairs, Bodie thought that Cowley would make it. God help anyone who got in the old man's sights. 'And who knows,' Bodie thought, 'I might even live long enough for the 'house cavalry' to save my arse.'
Fishing in his blazer pocket for more bullets, Bodie fired his last shot, popping the barrel immediately after in a smooth, practiced movement. It didn't matter that he dropped two of the rounds during reload; as predicted, his position was rushed. He was fairly certain that he broke the first one's jaw when he slammed the revolver into his face, but reinforcements of the wrong kind came and he was overpowered. Writhing, kicking, even biting, the big ex-merc was pressed down. A wet, foul-smelling cloth was slapped against his face. Pulling an arm free, Bodie slammed his fist into the stomach of his closest assailant--only to encounter the unmistakable solidity of a flak jacket. Bodie would remember seeing shirt buttons go flying off in slow-motion as his collar was torn open and a hypodermic bit sharply into the muscles of his shoulder. Not wanting to breathe the drug, but unable to hold out any longer, Bodie felt reality unravel and recede around him.
"Damn!" Doyle growled. Avoiding the hole in the next to the last step by brushing against the wall, he caused the cup top of the tea thermos to fall off, choosing to ignore it's presence with a sour shrug, Doyle climbed the last step to the noisy clatter of the plastic mug hitting each downward stair. 'Bodie can pick it up,' he thought nastily, 'if he wants a cup to drink from.' Without Bodie, it had taken three trips to cart in all the camera equipment and the gear they used to make a stakeout comfortable. 'Always knew Bodie took the lions' share,' Doyle thought a little guiltily, but the emotion quickly changed to anger.
"Where the fuck are you, Bodie?" He'd waited at his flat until it was obvious that his partner wasn't going to show. Figuring that Cowley's business had kept him, Doyle loaded up the car and went across town to the new obbo's location. Plopping their sleeping bags down on the dusty floor, Doyle let the cast off items fall where they may--Bodie would get here and build a suitable nest. Crossing to the window, Doyle finished assembling his camera gear. Twilight waned, and Doyle screwed on a wider lens--the loss of ambient light was always the surveillance photographer's bane.
He and Bodie had worked out, in the early days of their relationship, a sort of noninvolvement policy when on the job. Though it was relatively rare for them to be separated for long periods, Cowley would often split his talented team to be utilized in two different locales of the same operation. They had decided that a too public show of concern would only be more cause for talk--damaging talk that both men wanted to avoid. It was only by a supreme effort of will that the slender agent was able to honour this policy and refrained from calling Central for an update. 'Christ,' Doyle thought morosely. 'Bad news travels bloody fast, if something were wrong--'
He didn't finish his thought as just then the sound of a key turning in the downstairs' lock could be plainly heard. CI5 had rented the entire dilapidated building for use during this op and had installed their own security system; only CI5 personnel could enter the building with such obvious ease. 'About bloody time,' Doyle thought as he turned his back to the doorway and began making unnecessary adjustments to the camera lens. Determined to let Bodie come to him and make the first explanation as to why he was so fucking late and thus not available to haul all their shite up those bloody stairs, Doyle continued fiddling with his gear even when he heard Bodie pause at the doorway. Peering intently at the street below, Doyle found it increasingly difficult to ignore his partner. Relenting at last, Doyle turned to greet his wayward mate.
"Alright, mate, what kept you? Did the chef at Cowley's Club have to send out for--" Doyle's voice trailed off at the sight of Murphy standing like stone just inside the room. The big man's form filled the doorway, but it was the little plastic mug from the thermos gripped tightly by large hands that drew his total attention.
"Ray, the old man--" Murphy began, but was cut off by the razor-edged inquisition of Doyle's tongue.
"Is he shot?" There could be no doubt the he in question was Bodie. "Is he dead?"
"The Cow wants to see you in his office. It's bad, Ray, but maybe not too bad," Murphy said as he came further into the room. "Bodie's been snatched...don't know who or why, yet. Cowley's getting every available agent out on the case. Ray? Ray! Are you okay?" Voice raised in concern, the dark-haired man reached out to support the slightly swaying form of his fellow agent. At the first grazing touch, Doyle snapped out of the light shock he'd felt himself sinking into and focused on the job at hand. Shrugging off the sympathetic grip, Doyle ran both hands through his curls as booted feet carried him in a tight circle around the room.
"Kidnapped...yeah, okay. You watch this lot and I'll head over to Central," Doyle muttered distractedly. "Got to radio for one of the B Squad boys to come and take over here."
"I'll take care of it, Ray. Can you drive...?" Murphy added softly.
Looking as though he'd been punched in the gut, Doyle nodded to his long-time work mate. "I'll be alright..." Without a backward glance, the tense, hunched figure of 4.5 departed the chilly, old building. Murphy listened to the satisfying sound of the locks being reset and then watched as Doyle cautiously entered the street. The curly-haired man kept one hand inside his jacket, as though he were innocently nursing a bit of indigestion, but that was just a ruse to keep his gun very close to hand. Murphy was glad that Doyle was being properly cautious--not running off half-cocked. Letting the curtain fall back in place, Paddrig Murphy thought of the lonely figure of the departing agent and was once again thankful to be a solo agent. 'Too much pain, having a partner...'
Ignoring the checkpoint, Doyle entered CI5 headquarters; he didn't bother signing in, just as he hadn't bothered to sign out--anyone who wanted to, could find Ray Doyle by radio transmitter. In the two days since the snatch, he'd scoured London, whipping up his grasses in a vain attempt to locate his partner. Taking the stairs three at a time, Doyle climbed to the main office level. Thrusting open the door, he stalked past the rows of desks and cubicles that housed many of the field agents--agents that should have been on the streets searching for Bodie. Heading for Cowley's office, for that was where the answers would be, Doyle noted how the others would drop their eyes, refusing to share their knowledge or his pain.
A small part of Doyle's brain acknowledged that he was losing it, but his heart knew that the cause was sufficient. This was more then a work-mate, a partner, who had been kidnapped, Bodie was his lover, goddammit! Only years of professional training allowed him to keep the ragged, tenuous hold on his raging temper--that and the fact that Cowley had indeed put every available agent on the case. 'So why are Ashley, Smythe and Collins sitting on their arses?' Doyle thought as he breezed between their desks while exhibiting a brutal frown.
'Old man,' Doyle mentally threatened, 'if you're playing some game with Bodie's life as the stake....' His thought unfinished, he bypassed Betty's desk and finally came to the Controller's door. 'Oh Christ,' Doyle thought weakly as a possible explanation came to him as to why there were so many agents in the office and not on the street. 'What if Bodie's dead?' His mind skittered away from the impossible thought, unwilling to expend any energy in that area until it was irrevocable fact.
Doyle closed off all emotions as he slowly entered the Controller's office. Since his partner had disappeared, he had cultivated the detachment to get through the increasingly tense exchanges with Cowley. His intellect understood that there was an entire organization with it's varied ops to keep up and running, but his heart could only cry that his partner--his lover--was gone. Doyle had not allowed himself to imagine what hardships Bodie might be enduring at the hands of an enemy...it was...unthinkable...at this stage of the game. And that was how Doyle was playing it, like a deadly game; he was waiting for the opposition's next move, his opponent being anyone who stood between him and Bodie.
Standing beside Cowley was a thick set man who looked to be in his early fifties, dressed in the flat green of a SAS uniform, complete with Colonel's insignia. Both the Colonel and Cowley looked up from a thick file that was spread on the desk. Scattered between them were grainy photos of the typical surveillance type--Doyle should know, he'd become CI5's premier surveillance photographer.
His recovery from the Lin Fo op was a hard fought battle; he'd had to convince Cowley, the medical staff and Macklin that he could take on the streets again--he'd had to convince everyone except Bodie. On that faith alone he'd found the strength inside himself to win back his old position. That had been two years ago; and now, after almost ten years on the A Squad, Doyle found himself wanting a change from the 'lightning and thunder', but on his own terms.
After a bit of trial and error, his long buried art school talent lent itself wonderfully to surveillance and photography work. Bodie had given him his first good camera as a present on the day the doctors released him for active duty. His own penchant for thoroughness had caused him to add varied and expensive lenses and stands--then came another, better camera and some lighting equipment. Now, after two years, the collection of camera gear in his flat could only be called professional, and CI5 was coming to rely more on his photography ability than his skill with a gun.
'And that's as it should be,' Bodie had whispered one night between kisses. 'Can't do this forever...I wouldn't even want to try.' How his heart had soared at Bodie's quiet words! It was the final confirmation that Doyle wanted, proving internally that they had a chance at a life together, not just the heated adrenalin rush of shared danger.
That was why it hurt so much that he hadn't told Bodie he loved him. After Lin Fo, he'd been too weak, too sick for months. Then came the job, right on the heels of their sexual discovery of each other. 'I've thought the words a hundred times,' Doyle thought, 'but never said them to Bodie.' And now, looking at the stack of file photos on Cowley's desk, Ray Doyle wondered if he'd ever get the chance to say those words.
"This is Colonel J. Hadley," Cowley began by way of introduction. "Take a seat, Doyle. I'll tell ye now, there's nothing to like about what the Colonel has to say."
Doyle felt the cool, appraising gaze of the SAS man rake over him; he didn't give a rat's arse what this military type thought of his tangled hair and rumpled clothes. A shave and shower could wait until he had some word of his partner.
"We've been looking over your partner's dossier, Mr Doyle."
"WE WHO?" Doyle snapped back, his patience almost nonexistent at this point.
"Your Major Cowley and I," was Hadley's quiet reply. "Certain members of SAS Special Projects." The Colonel gathered together a small stack of photos and handed them over to the CI5 agent. "What do you make of these?"
He barely glanced at the proffered pictures before turning to Cowley and rising from his chair. "I don't have time for this--if you hear any word about Bodie, you know how to find me." He didn't clear the chair before Cowley's face forced him back with a glance.
"Look at the photos, lad," Cowley said softly; in such contrast to his usual manner that it chilled Doyle to his bones. Spreading the glossy black and whites across his lap, Doyle studied what they had to offer.
Several minutes later, a glass of malt scotch was placed in his hand; he hadn't noticed when Cowley had gotten up to fix the drink. It was all Doyle could do to contain his shock and disbelief at the evidence of his eyes. Spread before him were a dozen pictures of Bodie seated and standing with different men and women. Many of those depicted were circled in grease pencil with arrows drawn to attached notepaper: all were mercenaries or mid-level terrorists. He wanted to deny the validity of the pictures...but he knew, even without special equipment, that the photos were genuine.
"By all appearances, Agent Bodie has sold out," Hadley intoned gravely.
"No," Doyle answered immediately. Looking to Cowley, something akin to desperation was present in his voice. "Tell him it's a bloody Operation Susie."
Cowley, in a rare show of gentler emotion, shook his head. "It's no Susie--"
"We feel," Hadley interrupted, "that the incident in the car park was either an attempt on Bodie's part to drop out of sight unchallenged or--"
"Or what, Colonel! I don't have to listen to this crap--"
"Neither do I, Doyle!" Hadley roared. "I said it was a mistake to fill you in, but your Major insisted...but I guarantee you, if you walk out that door, you'll never have another scrap of official information concerning your ex-partner ever again."
'Ex-partner,' Doyle thought, sitting down hard enough to jostle half the drink on his jeans, the finality of the statement nearly flooring him. 'Christ, not ex-partner already.' Kicking back the rest of the whiskey, Doyle breathed deeply to calm himself. "Alright," he answered, to all outward appearances accepting of the situation. "I'm ready to listen."
Hadley and Cowley exchanged glances as papers were gathered together in order. "The Major said you were a good man, Doyle. I'm glad to see that for myself. Listen, I know this is hard for you...I went through something similar myself about a year ago. It's rough, but you have to put your boots on like a man--that and do what you can to help minimize the damage."
"What do you mean 'help'?"
"As I was saying, Bodie may be trying to drop out of sight; a fake kidnapping would be a very convenient means of disappearing...or this could be a falling out among bad companions. It's possible Bodie was lured by easy money to renew old acquaintances. He's wooed for a bit 'til he's lulled, and then..." CRACK--Hadley illustrated his point with a loud smack of his palms, unexpected enough to startle Doyle. "They spirit you away, to be tortured or sold off to the highest bidder for the information in your head."
Unable to process all the conflicting emotions and data, Doyle merely sat rigid and unresponsive as he was briefed on the location and whereabouts of the various photos. 'I'm losin' it.' He was to look for Bodie, and should he find him, report his position to Cowley, who would, in turn, contact Hadley and the SAS. 'I can't lose it...got to keep it together.' Several of the terrorists were high on Special Projects' list of interest...higher even than CI5. Cowley exercised a nearly free reign on matters of internal security, but the SAS was concerned with the security of England abroad as well. It was nearly an hour before the Colonel departed Cowley's office and Doyle could talk to the Controller alone.
"I've half a mind to pull you off this case--shut your mouth before flies land, Doyle," Cowley threatened as his agent drew breath to protest. "I know I'd have to shoot you to stop you, so save your breath."
"Mr Cowley, no matter what those pictures say, I know Bodie's innocent and so should you!"
"Once, 4.5," Cowley said as he removed his glasses and rubbed tired eyes, "I would have believed that...but I can think of two words that shake my confidence: Barry Martin."
His own tongue seemed to cleave to the roof of his mouth at that name; Doyle acutely remembered the sense of betrayal he had felt over Martin's defection--that and the guilt that he'd allowed his partner to be injured rather than shoot the rogue agent.
"Bodie's no Barry Martin," Doyle answered.
"Aye, Bodie's no Barry Martin, but he's a far cry from an angel." Cowley paused a long moment to scrutinize his agent. Doyle could feel the hairs on his neck stir under that intense, searching gaze. "Why are you so sure he's innocent?"
It was as close as Cowley had ever come to asking how close he and Bodie were. Doyle had been expecting it for some months and had always imagined that he would have Bodie with him when the moment of truth arrived. Now that the time had come, part of Doyle wanted to share the thousands of reasons why Bodie would never betray them--betray him.
His partner was a mass of contrasts: sometimes hard as nails and just as sharp and at other times as giving as a girl. Doyle wanted to share how great-hearted Bodie was, the way he was always so gentle in bed, the way his hair curled over his bathrobe when he let it get long. Also, how Bodie's face would get hard when even the name of Barry Martin was brought up...how Bodie had never forgiven himself for Cowley's hurt at Martin's hands. If Cowley had died, Doyle knew that his partner would have hunted down the rogue agent. He took such personal affront to anything that sought to malign 'the old man' as Bodie often called Cowley. Sure, he and Bodie pratted about, taping the Controller's picture up on page three and leaving it out for the Cow to find, but that was esprit de corps...only seasoned and blooded CI5 agents could do that, in Bodie's eyes.
"If for no other reason, Mr Cowley," Doyle said with a sigh as he levered himself out of the chair, "when push comes to shove, Bodie respects you too much to do anything that would hurt you or this department." Crossing to the door, Doyle let himself out with a final comment.
"That's why he didn't break King Billy's neck--gun or no, he would have done it if it had been anyone else but you. You think about that when you look at those fucking photos."
Doyle turned on the lights as he entered his flat. Twilight was a faint memory on the horizon as he stripped off first the plaid coat and then the shoulder harness. Pitching both on the lounge chair, he ran hands that actually trembled through his tangled hair. They didn't get very far through the knotted tresses, and he gave up trying to finger comb the mess. 'Shower and a shave, cup of tea and a couple of hours kip," Doyle thought numbly. He'd done as much as he could and all of the likely locations on the SAS list were watched by one of his grasses.
A hot shower and half a bottle of conditioner later and Doyle felt fresh enough to put the kettle on without burning down the building. Sitting at the kitchen table with the buzz box in one hand, he waited for the water to boil. 'Bodie's been saying we ought to get an electric kettle,' he thought morosely as he shaved. Shaking his head as if this would dispel morbid thoughts, Doyle began to run over the available data on the case as he made the tea and absently sweetened it enough for his lover's taste.
"Bodie's no sellout," Doyle said aloud to the empty kitchen.
'Okay, then who's in those pictures?' The list of possibilities was very short:
1) It was someone who looked a hell of a lot like Bodie.
2) It was Bodie on some sort of personal vendetta.
3) It was Bodie going over to the enemy.
Cradling his head in frustration, Doyle was once again back where he started, because he knew that Bodie wasn't off on some revenge kick. He'd let Bodie get away with that once before, allowed himself to be pushed away, but Bodie had never been happier than in their last months together. No, if Bodie wasn't officially hunting terrorists--and Cowley said this was not the case--he certainly wasn't hunting them unofficially. The first item on his list was just too silly to contemplate, and was only listed because the good copper in Doyle insisted that all possibilities had to be equally represented.
True, the photos of Bodie were extremely poor quality and there were a few small details that might be lost in the grainy representations. Doyle's mouth quirked at the memory of the many times his partner had asserted his uniqueness. '"I'm tall, dark and beautiful,"' Bodie had said, and somehow Doyle couldn't believe that the planet would be cursed/blessed with two Bodies.
Finally, unable to stay awake another minute, Doyle crossed the lounge to the bedroom. He pulled the phone off the bedstand and actually put it on the bed near his head; Doyle wanted no possibility of missing a call concerning Bodie. Asleep almost before his head hit the pillow, the only other sense that functioned, as numbing sleep pulled him under, was smell. As the darkness closed over him like a wave, Doyle could still smell Bodie's clean masculine scent on the pillows.
He knew he'd only been sleeping ten minutes when the double rings woke him, yet it came as a surprise when his peeled open eye read the clock. The time was 11.30 and he'd been out nearly four hours. Snatching up the phone, Doyle curtly identified himself.
"Mr Doyle, it's Geronimo. I've seen him, your partner..."
"Where and how long ago?" Doyle snapped.
"He's here at The Irish Pub. Mr Doyle, come right now and you'll see--" But that was all Doyle heard as he tugged on clean clothing. Unconsciously, he pulled on clothes that he knew Bodie like to see him in, not the ratty plaid jacket and red trainers, but his soft camel suit coat and leather boots. In minutes, the agent was in the Capri, racing towards the London dockland and the pub that held his lover.
Geronimo was one of his best grasses, really well-trained and anxious to please. When Martin had died, the Barbadian had transferred his loyalties to Doyle. Yes, Geronimo was a little soft in the head, but he meant well and Doyle was happy to help him out of the occasional spot of trouble in the local cop-shop. That's why he wasn't worried about being given bad information--he was worried that Bodie would leave before he could arrive. It took someone a hell of a lot smarter than Geronimo to follow 3.7 when he didn't want to be tailed.
As he turned down the side street closest the pub, Doyle killed the lights and slowed to a panda car crawl. His old Met training came to the fore as he peered into the darkness, searching for anything that would advance this case. He parked at the end of the alley with a good view of the front of the pub and killed the engine. A few moments later, Geronimo came and let himself in the passenger door.
"You made good time, Mr Doyle. He's still inside. I went in to make sure it was him and bought a drink. Mr Bodie pretended not to know me. They don't much care for black feller's here, so I left real quick."
"You did good," Doyle said as he slipped a twenty pound note into the Barbadian's hand. "Keep in touch, Geronimo. I might need you again before this is over."
The other's smile flashed white in the near dark as he inspected the bills in his palm. Letting himself out quietly, Geronimo walked down the alley, away from Doyle's car, and disappeared.
Doyle didn't have to wait long before he saw Bodie exit the club. Bodie was dressed in a set of all black bike leathers that he'd never seen before, carrying a black helmet with red and white striping. Cautiously, Doyle let himself out of the car and proceeded to follow his partner. Bodie passed under the harsh glare of a street lamp, and Doyle was shocked to see how...different...his partner looked. His hair was mussed and pushed off his forehead, though that could be from the helmet; the hardest feature to credit were the deep lines, like grief, that etched his lover's face. Doyle's heart ached; he wanted to go to Bodie, take him in his arms and sooth away those lines with love, but that sixth sense that all coppers have was shrieking a warning. He chose to follow Bodie, hoping his actions would explain away the damning evidence in the SAS photos.
Several blocks later, Doyle observed Bodie unlatching the side gate of a garden flat. Entering the alley, he watched the tall, wooden gate shut behind his partner as Bodie disappeared into the darkened yard. Cautiously, Doyle edged closer to the gate, hoping to catch some glimpse of Bodie. Intending to follow, Doyle wrapped his hand around the wrought iron handle and began to gently ease the gate open.
The gate flew open, backed by a strength that was explosive. Chucked under the chin by the smooth planking, Doyle was neatly mashed against the building's brick wall. Recovering quickly, Doyle lashed outward with both arms in an attempt to throw off the dead weight pinning him. Abruptly, all resistance vanished and Doyle felt himself stagger forward a step. He regained his balance only to lose it again when a black-clad figure smashed a gloved fist into his undamaged cheek. Involuntarily, the agent bent forward slightly, and before he knew it, Doyle was completely incapacitated by a blinding kick to the balls.
Felled like a bull at the knackers, Ray Doyle lay gasping on the ground--too stunned to writhe, too sick to moan. In an eternity only seconds long, his hands instinctively sought his genitals and cupped the injured member there. 'Ohfuckohfuckohfuck--' ground out the majority of his brain, but a tiny part remembered his assailant, wishing for the coordinated ability to pull the weapon under his shoulder and fend off further attack.
Though hurting, Doyle was surprised that he was being neither pummeled or kicked; instead, he was roughly searched and disarmed. Rolled onto his side, competent hands felt his hips and then his jacket--obviously seeking his wallet. His wallet was located and tugged from the concealment of an inner coat pocket. Doyle gasped as strong hands sank into the softness of his camel-coloured jacket; the wrenching movement added to his distress. Jerked upright with his back pressed into the brick, Doyle got his first look at his assailant. Agog, his jaw dropped open in shock equal to the pain in his gonads. 'Bodie,' Doyle mouthed silently, eyes begging for explanation. His only answer before being tossed aside, along with his wallet and gun, was a grim scowl, the likes of which he had seen just once...when Bodie had hovered over his stretcher during the long ambulance ride after the Lin Fo obbo.
It had been Christmas last since he'd awakened with bedspins--that greasy, nauseating feel of the world twirling about just for the joy of twisting your stomach...only Bodie didn't remember the party. Concentrating harder, he realized he didn't remember much of anything, including where he was or how he came to be here. Opening his eyes, he quickly squeezed them shut again as the desire to sick up his stomach could only be controlled by shutting out the light. He knew that he kept drifting off, but he always felt better with each awaking.
It could have been a few minutes, or even hours, but Bodie eventually felt the dizziness recede to something more tolerable. Rolling off his stomach onto his side, Bodie blearily contemplated the room. 'Not much here.' Bringing his hand up to caress an aching temple, he batted at something that unaccountably touched his face. The sudden movement caused his head to suddenly feel as though it might explode--an absurd notion, but an accurate assessment of how his poor brain felt. Choosing to roll over and lay quietly on his back, Bodie closed his eyes and thought he might have again fallen asleep. When he next came around, it was to the imperative need to pee. 'Christ, no wonder, if I've drunk enough to be this pissed,' Bodie thought stupidly. Levering himself up with both hands, he swung his legs over the edge of the cot far too swiftly.
Bodie fell with a crash. Kneeling on the hard concrete floor he rested his throbbing head on bloodied wrists; he hadn't even felt the IV's tear out of his arms, anymore than he'd noticed the needles in the first place.
Arse in the air and confused as hell, Bodie tried to remember how he had come to be here--wherever here was. Running a hand across his face, unaware that he left behind a gory trail, he tried to judge time by the length of his whiskers. 'A day,' Bodie thought disjointedly. 'I've been gone a day.' Overwhelmed by weariness, he curled onto his right side with his back to the door, Bodie closed his eyes to rest for just a second and fell into a deep sleep that was close to unconsciousness.
"Christ! He's pissed himself."
Bodie woke up suddenly to the sound of an unfamiliar voice. The chilling feel of fear filled his stomach as he realized he was alone and in an alien place. That is, almost alone--two pairs of black military issue boots were in his limited range of vision. Rough hands bit into his arms, and Bodie felt himself lifted off the floor and pushed onto the bed. He fought the men as they efficiently began to strip his body, but his movements were slow, weak, clumsy.
"Get a corpsman in here! We need some help." Bodie heard one of his captors call out, and he renewed his struggles at the gritty sound of heels clicking on the concrete, coming towards his room. Frantic, and as close to panic as he'd ever been in his life, Bodie surged up, attempting to throw off the clinging hands. The overhead light was completely obscured when a third man added his bulk to the melee. Pressed into the lumpy mattress by the combined weight of three men, Bodie felt the thin slats of the bed bite into his back. The hopelessness of his situation overwhelmed his scattered sensibilities, and he hoarsely cried for help.
Another shadow detached itself from the doorway, and all concerned froze at the voice of authority and command that resounded throughout the small chamber.
"What the hell is going on here?"
"Colonel! Sir, the prisoner fell out of bed--"
"What's all this blood, Sergeant?" the Colonel interrupted.
"It's not as bad as it looks, Col. Hadley," a younger voice answered. "When the prisoner fell, he must have accidently pulled out his lines. As soon as we've got him cleaned up, I'll start fresh ones."
Nodding to the man nearest Bodie's head, Hadley indicated the door with a jerk of his thumb. "Fetch Doctor O'Herlihy." Moving to take the Sergeant's place, Hadley placed his hand on the sweat-slick shoulder and spoke soothingly to the captive man. "You're okay, lad...things aren't as bad as they seem." Kneeling down, unmindful of blood and spit, he laid his left hand across Bodie's forehead. Bodie panted like a racehorse at the end of a race, his eyes blinking rapidly in a vain attempt to throw off the mind-numbing effects of the drugs.
"He's whacked out of his skull. Sir," the other sergeant added by way of afterthought, as he allowed more of his weight to rest on the captive man's knees.
"This man is not to be treated like a common criminal! Is that understood, Sergeant?" the Colonel whispered menacingly to his two subordinates, not wanting to upset their captive now that he appeared to be calming down. At their tight nods of acknowledgement, Hadley relaxed a little. "Remember, we want his cooperation."
"Yes, sir--of course, sir," were the echoed answers.
Just then, O'Herlihy entered the room, black bag in hand. On his heels was the corpsman from before with a basin of water and a stack of hand towels. Hadley moved back to allow the medical man room to work as his assistant efficiently scrubbed blood crusted forearms. In seconds, a tourniquet was applied, which made the ropey veins stand up in sharp relief Quickly, the corpsman tore open the packaging on a sterile needle, preparatory to starting an IV. As he cleansed his chosen spot with betadine, Doctor O'Herlihy finished his quick assessment. Rummaging in his bag, the doctor prepared a hypodermic. In a few moments the IV line was secured with tape and flushed with heparin, the tourniquet and trash were removed and the bedside tidied.
Bending over the bed, O'Herlihy accessed the line's port and injected the sedative. "Hang a thousand millilitre's of normal saline at 50 an hour."
"What's the verdict?" Hadley asked.
"You can try your questions in a couple of hours, but I wouldn't be too hopeful," the silver-haired O'Herlihy answered slowly.
"And why is that?"
"A lot of these black Irish types can drink you under the table, but give them narcotics and they're sick as a dog. I've read his chart--he's got all the earmarks, Colonel. Look at him! Confused and combative after a bit of chloroform and ativan."
"Thank you, doctor...can you be on hand in a couple of hours? I'd feel safer if someone were here during the interrogation...."
The rest of the conversation was lost to Bodie as the powerful sedative pulled him under. He'd tried to hold still when the IV was reinserted in his arm, but involuntarily jumped anyway. The medicine the doctor injected burned for a minute going into his vein, but its numbing effect quickly spread. Unable to completely comprehend what was going on, Bodie none-the-less understood the ramifications of the word interrogation...and what usually happened to those being interrogated.
Ray Doyle pulled himself together and weaved on unsteady legs back to the Capri. Within seconds of Bodie leaving him, the throaty roar of a big bike from the darkened yard had been heard; his partner had made good his grand exit. He'd been kicked in the balls before and knew that the nausea and sharp pain would recede to the occasional dry-heave and distant ache. What hurt more was the fact that it was his lover who had delivered such a blow. 'Bodie, how could you?' Doyle thought a leaned weakly against the door's window. To strike an enemy that way was a demonstration of contempt...to strike a friend unheard of... 'So why did you do it, Bodie? WHY!'
After a half hour, Doyle felt he could manage driving without cracking up the car. Firing the ignition, he gingerly let out the clutch and headed for his flat. Choosing a direct route, Doyle was thankful that the early hour precluded much of the pedestrian traffic that would have entailed more stoppage than he was physically prepared for. With a sigh of relief, he parked the Capri near the block that housed his latest CI5 accommodations. Careful to the point of paranoia about the locks since the Lin Fo op, Doyle secured the car and prepared his keys for the door. Letting himself in quietly, he listened, checking for any signs of intruders before sinking gratefully into the sofa.
It was only then, lonesome and alone in the dark, that a single tear slid down Ray Doyle's ill-knitted cheek--whether a precursor to grief over the end of his relationship with Bodie or the damning knowledge that if he couldn't bring Bodie in he'd have to shoot him, Doyle didn't know. All he knew for sure, was that if the tables were turned and he was the rogue agent, he'd hope Bodie would do his duty and put him down with as much mercy as he could muster.
Bodie had been awake for some time, not alert, but rather the sort of wakefulness one has on Sunday mornings laying in bed before breakfast. His body seemed to weigh a hundred stone while his head was as light as a cloud and about as substantial.
"The other two were completely ineffective, doctor. What's different about this one?" Hadley intoned quietly enough not to intrude upon the prisoner's suggestive state.
"It's that new Soviet drug; we've only had it a month--not even long enough to give it our own name. Our Russian friends merely call it 'comrade'," O'Herlihy answered as he prepared his second hypo of the day.
Yesterday had been a complete fiasco with the man Bodie. Returning a few hours later, he had helped administer two euphoria-inducing drugs. The first, as happens sometimes, had produced the exact opposite effect and had agitated the subject beyond questionability. The second, a serum-based drug, had sent the CI5 man directly into anaphylactic shock and flattened him right out.
Now, under the watchful eyes of Hadley, O'Herlihy prepared a small IV bag and piggybacked it directly into the solution already hanging. "It's extremely quick acting, Colonel. You'll be able to ask your questions almost immediately."
Waiting a minute for the doctor's hand signal, Hadley turned on the reel-to-reel tape recorder. "Okay, Bodie...we're all friends here. Why don't we talk about some of our old mates? What do you remember about Anthony Tomlin?"
"Hummmm?" Bodie's distant reply drifted up, barely heard by Hadley.
"Tomlin, tell me about Tomlin!"
"Yes. Toad Tomlin."
Bodie mumbled a short reply in an indecipherable whisper. Moving himself and the machine closer to his subject, Hadley practically placed his ear and the receiving microphone over Bodie's mouth. "Say again, Bodie," the Colonel ordered gently. Unexpectedly, a rush of yellow vomit filled his ear and collar. "Jesus Christ!" Hadley exclaimed, back-pedaling to escape the next heated expulsion of bile. He was roughly shoved aside by O'Herlihy, who manhandled the supine prisoner onto his side to prevent choking.
Angry almost beyond words, Hadley had to credit the CI5 man with grudging measure of respect--it wasn't often a man got to sick-up on what one considers his enemies. Even if it was...unintentional? Be that as it may, he wiped the mess from his face and shirt and noted that the recorder was ruined by Bodie's baptism. O'Herlihy, once certain that his patient would not aspirate, was already taking down the Soviet truth drug.
"He's allergic, Hadley. That's it! I won't sanction giving him anything else without a Goddamned good reason!"
"That's all right, Hilary," the Colonel said, using the doctor's first name. "There are other ways." 'And the way the op has run,' Hadley finished internally, 'I'm not surprised it's come to this.'
The Irish Pub was his only clue and so Doyle was determined to stakeout the place where he last saw Bodie. He planned his wardrobe to blend in with the dockland pub scene of sailors, smugglers and assorted scum. His old leather boots, black motorbike jacket and faded blue jeans would be accepted without a second glance in the grotty local. He'd deliberately put on a skintight tee-shirt, one that allowed a excess of crisp auburn chest hairs to be displayed at the neck; they nicely framed the silver necklace Bodie liked so much.
In the twelve hours since Bodie had laid him out in the alley, Doyle had convinced himself that he'd managed, somehow, to hurt his partner...it was unthinkable that this man could change from a loving mate to a brutal stranger in the course of a day. He had obviously missed some sign, some warning of Bodie's impending blow-up. 'Did I hurt him?' Doyle thought back to their last morning in bed, when they'd been so rough. "Jesus Christ..." Bodie and Cowley both had called him a selfish bastard to his face. 'I should have told him then, what I feel for him...that would have changed things.'
Though not yet noon, Doyle descended the stairs and went round the side of the building to the garden gate where he kept his bike locked up. He continued to run previous conversations with Bodie through his head as he prepped the Suzuki. '"Can't do this forever,"' Doyle mused internally. Bodie's voice replayed the words in his mind as he raised the stand and kicked the starter. The bike was intentionally loud, left macho for competition where sound was also used as a means of intimidation, a way of psyching out your opponent. The engine's roar made him remember how gleeful, almost like a child, Bodie would get when they went to a bike meet together, even when neither of them was racing. Doyle finished his thought, 'Bodie wouldn't do something like this just for money!' Revving the engine and nudging the gate open with the bike's front tyre, he prayed that he was right.
Part of the early afternoon was spent finding a likely spot to stash the black Suzuki that would leave it handy, yet out of sight. Luckily, two doors down from the Irish Pub was a tiny fish market. For an exorbitant rate, the ancient owner was willing to let Doyle park the bike behind the open tank of live fish on display. Undoubtedly, the old man thought him a villain on the sly, and Doyle did nothing to discourage this image...it would be part of his cover as he waited and hoped that Bodie would reappear in this down-at-heels part of town.
Entering the pub, Doyle bought the first drink of many, most of which would be surreptitiously dumped in the bog, or other handy points. He was beginning the most important stakeout of his life--and wondering if Bodie had gone too far or if he could win his lover back from the brink of destruction.
The tiny, gray room contained no mirror, nor anything else that could be used as a weapon, so Bodie didn't know if his eyes were bloodshot, but they felt hot and gritty and were probably a right fright. He wasn't certain how long he'd been held prisoner, though his internal clock suggested that it was as little as two or three days. Someone had come in after the last drug session, cleaned him up, shaved him and pulled a pair of black coveralls onto his body. Not nearly as groggy as he'd been anytime since Cowley and the car park, Bodie padded barefoot around his cell, seeking some means of escape.
He was still scared, the fear real enough to leave his stomach muscles rigid with the occasional tremor licking up his spine. Bodie was actively attempting to sublimate the fear, as he had during the Parsali Op. 'Easier done when you're packed and pre-warned and your partner is standing at your side. Fuck,' Bodie thought miserably, 'I wish Ray were here.' He regretted the thought immediately; he didn't want Ray anywhere near this cocked-up can of worms. Bodie gave up on his hundredth circuit of the room and flopped onto the little cot. Even that had offered nothing in the search for a weapon--Superman could pull a slat off the bed's welded iron frame, but Bodie couldn't--he'd tried. Covering his face with an arm, Bodie exhaled explosively, 'Wish I were anywhere else.'
Laying quietly, Bodie heard the soft footsteps as they turned down the hall toward his cell. Heartbeat accelerating, he left the cot and concealed himself as best he could, pressed against the wall behind the door. The footsteps paused at the doorway, and Bodie was certain that his visitor was alone. This would be the first contact with his captors since the drugs had worn off. Stuffing his fear deep inside himself, Bodie determined that any escape attempt against a lone interrogator had a greater chance at success and committed himself to killing whatever bastard walked through that door. Coming up on his toes, fastidiously despising the gritty feel of the concrete against his feet, Bodie readied himself. A key rattled and the tumblers turned with a SNICK, and the door slowly opened.
Face a cool, pale mask of death, Bodie waited until his visitor committed himself--no fancy holds, no night--stalking rush, today he would kill with a single, hard-hitting blow to the throat, letting the fucker who had contributed so much to his pain drown in his own blood or smother from lack of oxygen. 'Just a little bit more,' Bodie mentally coaxed as the door teased open. A slight figure, shorter than himself, came into view, and Bodie launched his attack. Shocked and surprised, Bodie barely had time to twist and pull the punch--otherwise he would have killed his boss, George Cowley. Panting, heart racing from the unchanneled adrenalin surge, Bodie's angry, sapphire eyes locked with the Controller's age-faded gaze.
"Verra sloppy," Cowley chided gently. Nostrils flaring like a bull ready to charge, Bodie's mouth twisted silently before he could choke out a reply.
"Good way to get yourself snuffed--sir."
Cowley took his agent's elbow and led him to the cot. Bodie cautiously followed his lead and allowed himself to be seated. The tan satchel that Cowley carried was laid between them, and the old man calmly regarded his weary and tousled agent. "I suppose ye're wondering what's going on, lad." Bodie didn't trust himself to reply verbally, as a great sinking feeling of betrayal swamped his internal fortresses. If Cowley were somehow responsible for all this....
"AFRICOMP is exactly what it sounds like--an Africa-based computer technology company. On the surface, everything is nice and legal. They're leasing and purchasing, among other things, nuclear technology from us here in the United Kingdom."
"What's that got to do with me being snatched and thrown in a hole, Mr Cowley?" Bodie ground out between clenched teeth.
"These nuclear components are being recombined by an American contingent within AFRICOMP. Bombs, Bodie...bombs that are being passed on to the Middle East and to others. No link has been made to a source of plutonium, but that is only a matter of time. I suspect that the raid by Krivas so many years ago is not to be an isolated incident."
"And what does this have to do with me or CI5?" Bodie asked, genuinely confused. "If I remember rightly, our brief concerns internal security."
"An old acquaintance of yours works for this company and claims that they are hiring heavies for a special job." Cowley paused to put on his glasses and then reached for papers from his satchel. "It is suspected that the job will be the acquisition of radioactive material needed to complete the already existing weapons built by this company. They want to hire someone of your qualifications to arrange the job."
Taking the proffered papers, Bodie scanned the maps, names and other assorted data. "This is a big operation. I'd still like to know what it has to do with CI5 and me sitting in a cement room."
"Bodie, I had no warning that we would be attacked in the car park. I've turned the organization and the city upside down looking for you. This operation belongs to Colonel Hadley of SAS Special Projects. He contacted me early this morning, when it became obvious to them that you would continue to be uncooperative, no matter what the persuasion."
Observing his boss for the slightest hint of subterfuge, Bodie noted how old Cowley looked. When he had been shooting bombers in Belfast, Cowley had been forming CI5. Even then, Cowley hadn't been a young man, and the last fourteen years had worn the Scot down. "Must have cost you a lot, sir," Bodie said softly.
"To admit you don't know everything--don't worry...your secret's safe with me."
"Aye, I imagine it would be," Cowley replied warmly as he placed his aged hand on Bodie's solid shoulder. The moment of shared camaraderie between respected commander and valued soldier was cut short as Bodie stood bolt upright at the sound of approaching footsteps. The door had been left standing open, and Bodie could see a stocky SAS Colonel approaching, followed by a taller, shadowy figure. "That will be Hadley, coming to explain what information he needs from you, Bodie.... Be prepared for something of a shock."
The shock of almost killing his boss couldn't compare with the sight of seeing himself mirrored in the flesh by the man who entered with Hadley. Slack-jawed and suddenly paler than his condition and normal complexion could warrant, Bodie felt Cowley's hands on his shoulders, easing him down onto the cot. "Jesus Christ..." Bodie whispered, never taking his eyes from his almost identical twin. As the seconds ticked past, his mind catalogued the many minute differences: the differing hair length and style, a measurable discrepancy in height and weight, that the other was more tanned by the elements, his flesh more marked by time--a thousand tiny differences when taken together. But separately, Bodie knew that this man could raid a bank and he would be the one blamed.
"Agent Bodie," the doppleganger said, crossing the room and extending a hand formally, "I'm Captain Peter Skellen of SAS Special Projects."
The four men retired to a much more comfortably appointed conference room, and Bodie proceeded to speak for hours about places and people from a time he had thought well behind him. When he faltered, either Hadley or Cowley would bring up a past point or jog his creaky memory with a file photo. Evening passed into night, and the men only broke to or answer the call of nature. Throughout this willing interrogation, the reels of tape spun, capturing an audio record while Peter Skellen sat composed and watchful from across the room, studying the man he intended to emulate.
Towards dawn, Bodie's memory petered out. "That's all I can remember about Toad Tomlin and any crony he might be associated with from the Rat Pack days." Both Hadley and Cowley seemed well-satisfied as they gathered together their materials which would be transcribed and entered into the computer for cross-referencing. "Is it enough?" Bodie asked wearily, not really caring but making the gesture anyway.
"What do you think, Hadley?" Cowley queried over his glasses.
"I'll want to see what the computer says," Hadley replied cautiously. "But, I don't think there's anyone alive that's likely to be involved with AFRICOMP who would more than passingly remember Bodie."
"Aye, I agree with ye're assessment, though we'll wait for the printouts."
"Which brings us to the sticky bits, Mr Bodie." Hadley said as he turned to fully face the smudged, pale man. "I'm about to put one of my top operatives on an op of far-reaching international security. I hope you can appreciate that there can't be two Bodie's roaming about--especially if one of them is supposed to be a defecting CI5 agent going over to forge new connections in Africa."
The veil of weariness was pushed away, leaving sapphire eyes hard and sparkling. "If you intend to keep me fucking incommunicado, then you'd best shoot me now...sir," Bodie answered icily. "'Cause I guarantee that I won't stop trying to escape."
"When you belatedly asked for my assistance, Hadley, there was no mention made of this," Cowley intoned equally cold. "Bodie is a damn fine agent and one of my top men. If you think I'll meekly allow--"
"You don't have much choice, Cowley. This is a matter of national security. How would you like to wake up some morning to find Lockheed wiped off the map?"
"I know that London itself would be a radioactive rubble seven years gone if it weren't for Bodie and men in my organization like him," the old Scot answered fiercely. Both the Controller and the Colonel regarded each other narrowly, oblivious of the two younger men looking on. Finally, it was Hadley that backed down, ready to compromise on the eve of this imperative operation.
"Alright, Cowley--I want the best man for the job," Hadley replied, continuing to seemingly ignore both Bodie and Skellen. "I'll tell you now, there's none better for this kind of assignment than Peter Skellen. He's a consummate actor and a highly trained military man. But, rather than scrub this op," the Colonel said, turning at last to the seated Bodie, "I'd offer the job to you."
Bodie didn't have time to retrieve his jaw before Skellen leapt to his feet, his face twisted into a nasty mask. "There's no way you're giving my operation away! I've already got a lot invested in this one! If I'm in for a penny, I'm in for a pound--" Skellen hissed dangerously. "I'm not going to fold on this, just because these two are afraid to gamble!"
"By God, that is quite enough, Captain!" Hadley roared back.
Skellen visibly reined in his next outburst and strode quickly back to his observation post, angrily flinging himself down into the chair. Tension fairly crackled in the air between the SAS men when Cowley's dry chuckle warmed the room. "I see that these two share more than an uncanny resemblance, isn't that right, Bodie?"
"Yes, sir." Dropping his eyes before he spoke, Bodie's low voice was barely audible.
"Now, what I was about to propose was this--officially, but behind closed doors, you would Return To Unit Agent Bodie. It'll be all neat and proper as I'll have him seconded to Special Projects under my authority. We can then get this blasted op up and rolling. What do you say, Bodie?"
"Being RTU'ed after nine years is most unusual, sir," Bodie said, trying to buy time, more afraid than when he'd been alone and aching in his cell. 'Been away from the onetrack military mind for too long,' Bodie mused. Years of inundation in Cowley's triple-think and Doyle's double-talk had weaned him away from the straight-line computation present in this room. 'Christ,' Bodie thought frantically, mentally seeking an escape route from this situation. 'I can't tell them--Sorry, I can't go on undercover for two or three years, sir...You see, I'm happily married to my partner, and oh, by the way, he's a man... Oh, yeah,' Bodie finished sourly. 'That would go over like a ruddy lead balloon.'
Looking up, Bodie met Cowley's eyes and suddenly knew that the old man was aware of his and Ray's relationship; their locked gazes silently spoke volumes. Bodie wished he was alone with his boss, so that he might gauge the depth of Cowley's damning knowledge and how much the old man was willing to let go, but instead it was Skellen who spoke up.
"Let me talk to him alone," the SAS Captain said with a nod toward Bodie. "I think we can work something out." Hadley and Cowley gave the Captain dubious looks, but moved to leave the room.
"Do you have any objection to speaking with this man, Bodie?" Cowley asked sincerely. Bodie appreciated the perceived concern and shook his head in the negative.
"No, sir...I'll hear him out--might have a question or two meself."
The two older men gathered their papers and tapes, abandoning Bodie and Skellen to each other. As they wended their way to the computer center, Cowley couldn't help but follow his instincts and question Hadley about Skellen's motivations in this matter.
"Your Captain seems most adamant on his inclusion in this project. Aye, I know he made first contact with the snout, but..."
Glancing over at the blond Scot, Hadley frowned in thought. 'How much should I tell this wily, old man?' Coming to a juncture in the hallway, they turned and continued down a long corridor. 'Certainly owe him a bit of the truth after the bomb I just dropped.'
"Back in your office, when I told Doyle that I'd gone through something similar...well, I was referring to Skellen. I put him on the Peoples Lobby case, a very nasty op that almost got his family killed. Another intelligence man was murdered during the operation, and I'm certain Peter blames himself. It wasn't really his fault, sometimes these things just happen, but he has imagination--that's what makes him so good at his job. It's just that this time, I suspect Peter has imagined how all too easily it might have been his wife and child dead--and not Andy Ryan."
Skellen was the first to move and the first to speak as he relocated to Hadley's old position opposite the CI5 agent.
"I want this job," Skellen intoned with a hint of menace, but Bodie had been threatened by experts in his time and wasn't overly impressed.
"Well, I don't want the fucker, but I'll be damned if I'm going to rot in some cell while you go traipsing across Africa with my face and name." Positions stated, both men knew it was time to deal, and tactics fair and foul would be allowed.
"What kind of agent are you, to let something this important go by the wayside?" Skellen opened the debate and set his first hook. "If you don't have the guts, get out of the way of those who do."
"This isn't about guts--it's about choices," Bodie answered bitterly. "I didn't have any bloody say in the matter. You people are throwing me away on a one-in-a-million tip off."
"You wouldn't think an ex-merc would give a damn about his reputation--or lack thereof."
"Touche." Truly angry now, but channeling the wild emotion, the CI5 man was on his most dangerously urbane behavior. "So what's your excuse? Why are you so keen to get out of the country? Trouble with the little wife?"
Launching himself from the chair, Skellen surged across the table; Bodie was shocked by the naked violence visible on Skellen's tortured face. The SAS man gripped Bodie by the lapels of his coverall and jerked him to his feet. Caught off guard by the suddenness of the attack, and further weakened by the all-night information session, Bodie didn't have time to react before he was released.
"How do you know?" Skellen asked as he turned away, manfully burying his dark emotions. Stunned by the astuteness of his hurtful guess, Bodie wasn't going to allow this man's marital problems to keep him out of commission and away from his own loving partner.
"I was just shooting in the dark...didn't think I'd hit the target that easy," Bodie replied, reacting unwillingly to the haunted expression in Skellen's eyes. "So what happened? Miss too many anniversaries?"
"No--my wife had a punch-up with some mercenary scum right in our own mews...one of them was going to kill our baby when my lads broke in and blew both their heads off," Skellen answered, looking at the floor as though fascinated by the painted concrete. "She left me...soon after that. I don't blame her..." The SAS man trailed off.
"It's always the job, isn't it?" Bodie asked sympathetically.
"So why don't you resign your commission? Got to be plenty of things you can do to earn a living." But Skellen shook his head. "It's more than just the wife," Bodie guessed, his years of service in CI5 had honed his own interrogative abilities.
This time Skellen nodded his head, before he found the voice to speak. "Jenny and Sam are safer away from me, while I do what I have to do."
"I don't know anything about you, but I think you're a fool to throw away your wife and little boy for a chance to keep playing spy versus spy," Bodie said with all the sincerity he could muster.
"Little girl," Skellen murmured.
"Samantha is my little girl."
After a long pause, Bodie spoke again, "I'm not going to throw away two of years of my life without a fight. I've got...someone I care about. I won't risk losing that."
"And I want this op--so we're back where we started," Skellen answered, weary as Bodie himself.
Bodie studied the man who looked so much like himself, noting a nick here, a small scar there, reveling in their differences, but unable to blindly reconcile their sameness. The SAS man caught his look of scrutiny and read it for what it was.
"I'm four years your senior...but my father was stationed in Leeds in '49," Skellen casually informed the CI5 man, fully aware of the birth date gleaned from Bodie's dossier.
He knew that he owed this man nothing--not even the truth, but the years had mellowed his wild heart. Bodie's hard life had worn down most any bitterness over an act so long in the past that all the principal characters were just faded, sepia photos in an old leather album. "My mother was on holiday with her aunt in Leeds--the summer of 1949." There seemed to be little to add as they absorbed this information.
The moment stretched as both men, so similar yet so very different, observed the other--when sudden inspiration struck, leaving no time to contemplate this not entirely unexpected turn of events. Bodie knew he could never aspire to Cowley's level of mental prowess, but he was momentarily dumbfounded by the brilliant simplicity of the solution to his dilemma.
"Skellen," Bodie said when he got his voice back, "get Cowley and Hadley back in here...I have an idea."
Doyle had whiled away the afternoon and early evening, hoping that Bodie would return to the pub, but his heart wilted with each passing hour. 'I won't give up,' Doyle thought fiercely, but his intellect and training told him that if Bodie didn't return here, the odds were very unlikely he would find him again--too much time had passed, and it was all too easy for someone with Bodie's experience and contacts to slip out of the country.
About an hour ago, Doyle noted that two members of the Armagh terrorist cell had entered the pub, cased the local and left. Very indicative of a meet being set for later--one he hoped Bodie would be attending. The waiting was a struggle as, even being dodgy with his drinks, it was getting more difficult pretending to be drunk enough to seem harmless, while not appearing to be a victim--something many of the clientele would quickly exploit.
He'd just sat down at his booth in the back with a new half-pint of bitter when his mate entered the pub--big as life and twice as beautiful. Instead of the leather bike suit he'd last seen him in, tonight Bodie was dressed in black boots and blue jeans topped by a creaky new leather motorcycle jacket. 'I've seen Bodie in jeans three times in nine years,' Doyle couldn't help thinking, as he drank in the dangerous beauty of this man he loved so well. But other concerns welled up as he watched him saunter confidently to the bar. The two Irish Armagh lads chose that moment to re-enter the pub and shouldered close to Bodie, who promptly bought them all a round.
Pushing their way through the crowd, Doyle was thankful the trio chose to mount the narrow stairs to the billiards room above. Giving them a moment's head start, Doyle abandoned his own table to follow them upstairs. The curving, timeworn steps were carpeted in a mishmash of multi-layered carpet remnants that years of tobacco ashes and muddy boots had stained a near uniform brown. Against a backdrop of tarred beams, Doyle crouched two steps from the top, straining to hear Bodie's conversation with the young Irish terrorists.
His heart hardened in his chest as the gist of the half heard conversation unfolded... Bodie was hiring the two men, preparatory to leaving the country and establishing a new international mercenary cartel. Anger warred with love, and duty fought both feelings. 'Bodie, oh, Bodie,' Doyle thought, sadly stunned, 'you've really fucked it up this time.' Doyle sneaked a quick peep at the rustle of paper, seeing what had to be a thick packet of cash being slid across the table. All three men shook hands and would have drank to their new partnership, but Bodie interrupted.
"No, no, boys--something this important warrants the good stuff. Give me a tick, and I'll be up with a bottle and glasses." At hearing the scrape of the chair being pushed back, Doyle retreated to the last bend in the stairway. Pulling his gun from beneath his arm, Doyle placed it in his pocket. In seconds, he was face to face with his ex-partner.
"Stop right there, Bodie," the lean agent warned. "Yes, this is definitely a gun, and I'm not glad to see you," Doyle bitterly camped with a jerk to the handgun that clearly outlined its business end in sharp relief. "Just move quietly out to the street."
Bodie's nostrils flared in anger, but Doyle ignored any other expression that might have crossed his lover's face, afraid of what he might find there. Preceded out of the pub, Doyle was thankful that Bodie chose not to attract attention. Once on the street, he guided his prisoner with a rough hand clamped to the broad shoulder of his jacket. Going only a short distance, Doyle spun Bodie around, pressing him into the wall partly with his proximity and partly by fierce will. Doyle's eyes were silvery in the poor streetlight, and his face was cast in tragic marble.
"Okay, Bodie--out with it...what the fuck are you up to?" Doyle asked harshly.
"Would have thought that was obvious, sunshine," Bodie answered with a sneer that twisted his soft, beautiful lips...a sneer that hurt Doyle to his soul. Cut to the quick, he pulled the automatic and bashed Bodie across the face, venting some of the rug-chewing frustration that had consumed him these last three days. Slamming Bodie up against the wall by the ferocity and suddenness of the attack, Doyle followed up his advantage by leaning into the larger man's space, pushing him back and off balance. The blow had been a brutal one that Doyle immediately regretted--Bodie's fair skin was already visibly marking. Doyle cautiously returned his gun to the concealment of his pocket. Head hung in pain, Bodie still managed a bitter reply. "Even you're not this thick."
"But why, Bodie...and why now?" More plaintive than he'd ever wanted to be, Doyle felt the check on his emotions crumbling. "Why take up with me, if you knew all along you were going to get back into this shite?" It was Bodie's turn to emotionally stumble, or so it seemed to the curly-haired man standing only inches from the pale, smooth face. "Why this...?" Doyle asked as he gently pressed his lips to Bodie's, a kiss that gradually deepened to one of grinding passion. His right hand never left the pocket that concealed his gun, but his other cupped the base of Bodie's long neck, pulling him in tight, denying his partner the ability to pull away and refuse the love being offered.
Finally, Bodie opened his mouth with a small cry of...surprise?...and Doyle knew he had won. Abandoning his gun, he brought his other hand out to caress Bodie's cock through the tight fabric of the confining jeans. Meeting no resistance, Doyle used his weight to push his partner down until he sat on the flagstones with legs akimbo. Straddling his mate's thighs, Doyle broke their kiss when his hands slid down to entwine the lapels of Bodie's jacket. Looking into his lover's face, Doyle was surprised by the utterly dazzled look of a simpleton. Bodie was looking at him as though he were a stranger, as if seeing Doyle truly for the first time in a different light. With a light shake, his face suffused with both lust and tender emotion, Doyle tightened his grip on Bodie's leather jacket before speaking again.
"I love you, Bodie."
Bodie's jaw dropped open in complete amazement, and Doyle's irritation level rose appreciably. "Can't be that much of a fucking surprise, sunshine. I've loved you for ages...I just never got around to saying it," he finished, abashedly.
Bending to again kiss his mate, Doyle fully expected it to be returned, but his kiss wasn't reciprocated. Doyle looked down into a face cold and hard.
"This won't work, Ray."
"What do you mean?" Doyle asked, incredulously.
"I leave for Cape Town tomorrow," Bodie answered, pushing Doyle off and himself up. Regaining his feet, he regarded his partner dryly. "I'm not going to let you stop me, Ray."
Doyle saw the subtle tensing of muscle and knew that Bodie was going for his gun, the one he hadn't even bothered searching him for. Hand blurring for his own weapon, Doyle had his gun out and pointed between blue eyes a full half second before Bodie's attempted draw. Wrung out from three days of mostly sleepless, heart-wrenching tension, Doyle felt his arm tremble with the effort to keep his weapon trained on target.
"Don't make me hurt you, Bodie... please...don't make me shoot you," Doyle ground out, his voice a whispered agony. Unbeknownst to him, tears flowed freely, wetting his face and staining his eyes. 'Come along quietly to Cowley, he can fix every--" He never got to finish his thought as just then a shot rang loud in the alley, the ting of a bullet coming close enough to Doyle's ear that the air of its passing was felt; the Armagh boys had come looking for their new boss and the promised bottle.
Breaking left, Bodie dashed toward the new safety of his hired cronies and away from the older haven of his partner. Darting into the shadows, Doyle internally justified his craven reaction, but knew why he was really running; the last thing he wanted on earth was to be the person responsible for putting Bodie in a body bag. Four blocks and no pursuit later, Doyle slowed to a shambling stagger. By this time, his tears had soaked the front of his tee shirt, and he realized he'd lost his silver chain.
'Quarter to four in the morning,' Doyle thought numbly. It had taken him hours to walk to Cowley's town house--he hadn't had the heart or the mind to retrieve his bike from the fish market. Wearily, Doyle mounted the steps and clapped the ornate knocker. He was here to turn himself in to the Controller...he had no excuse for his actions that would stand up publicly, and he wanted to get the worst of it over. Tell Cowley what he'd done and find out if the old man was going to charge him with aiding terrorist activities or just fire him .. even if the Cow didn't turf him out, Doyle knew he would quit. Even putting their love aside, ten years with Bodie as a partner was far too long to ever consider himself re-teamable. Doyle wasn't surprised when Cowley answered his door fully clothed.
Cowley's keen gaze took in the ragged man on the stoop. His agent looked as though he'd been ridden hard and put away wet. Fly away hair was tangled by the night winds, and the old Scot noted the new grief lines etched into the man's face. "Come in, laddie," he quietly intoned.
Doyle had been to Cowley's house three times in all his years with the squad, but he remembered every detail from previous visits. Thus he bypassed the lounge and headed directly to the Cow's private study--the one that held the beautiful antique desk he'd been so careful not to damage when ordered to filch Cowley's passport. In contrast to that care, Doyle harshly announced his perfidy as he slammed his gun down on the blotter.
"I found Bodie--staked out a pub he'd been doing some dirty business in, Mr Cowley. I tried to talk to him, make him come in, but I cocked it up, sir." Doyle's voice changed timber, his pitch dropping with pent emotion, "I got the drop on him, Mr Cowley--could have stopped him...but if I couldn't shoot Barry Martin, how could I shoot Bodie? I'm sorry, sir..." Rigid with grief, Doyle heard someone enter the room behind him. Assuming it was one of the squad here to arrest him, he didn't bother to turn.
Heart leaping in his chest, Doyle's eyes snapped wide open to meet Cowley's twinkling gaze. Whirling about, he caught Bodie about the arms. He wanted to fully embrace his partner, plaster his body against the sturdy form and prove to his dazzled senses that this was really Bodie, but couldn't break cover in front of their boss. Looking slightly up into the face he loved so well, Doyle finally managed to gasp a question. "What...?" Bodie's eye--the he'd blacked so professionally in the alley, was perfect and unmarked.
Stepping back, Doyle loosened his hold and finally noticed that Bodie had changed into a motley of what looked to be military issues. Unable to fathom what this might mean, Doyle continued to drink in the sight of his mate. He paused again at the swatches of white surgical tape that dotted Bodie's wrists. Taking another step back, Doyle came to stand beside Cowley, eyes narrowed suspiciously. "What's going on here?"
"Ray, it's a long story...I wouldn't have believed it meself--" Bodie started.
"Believe what, Bodie?" But it was Doyle's turn to be cut off as a tall form filled the study door. Clad in jeans and motorcycle jacket, stood another Bodie...only this one sported a beaut of a black eye.
Their false passports had passed without a second glance at Heathrow. Doyle's hair had been chemically straightened just for the occasion, and Bodie had worn brown contacts. Once off the AirJamaica flight, they would have to change identities again, but for two agents of their caliber, it wouldn't be a too difficult task. Not when you were well-heeled.
The SAS had bought his proposal and agreed to pay him off for the duration of Skellen's undercover operation...the sum wasn't princely, but it would pay for a good long holiday for them both. If they were careful, Bodie doubted either of them would have to find work anytime in the near future, and if they needed something to bridge the bankdrafts that Cowley had arranged to send them...well, Doyle's camera gear was riding in the belly of the plane, waiting to be put to good use.
But money wasn't a concern, at least not right now. After Doyle'd had the tale twice out of them all, Skellen had finally gone, leaving the CI5 men to quietly come to terms with their changed situation.
'I assume ye'll be wanting to accompany Bodie on his little holiday?' Cowley had asked with just a touch of amused sarcasm.
'If he'll have me,' Doyle had promptly replied. Bodie's answer was to reach out and take his partner's hand into his own.
Though the words were for Ray, Bodie looked Cowley in the eye as he said them.
'I wouldn't go without you, mate.'
Cowley had ordered them to spend the day indoors and had even given them permission to sleep in his own big bed--something both men would have believed impossible a week ago. Cowley had then departed for Central, leaving the lovers alone. At first, both men had been inhibited by the fact if was COWLEY'S BED they were laying in, but heartache could only be soothed by the balm of lust and love. The room had reeked of sex when Cowley returned late that evening.
Their plan was simple--all the best plans are, regardless of the successes the Controller had with his multi-layered schemes. Doyle would make a public show of quitting in Cowley's office on the 'morrow, and Cowley already had their new identity papers. 'Make it loud and rude, Doyle,' Cowley had ordered. 'An order you shouldn't find too tasking. '
The second night in Cowley's bed was even better than the first, when they sucked each other until satiated. Doyle had left before dawn, the better to avoid being seen exiting the town house. Bodie saw Doyle to the door and hugged him fiercely, unaware, until too late, that their Controller was seated there, half-hidden by the brocade wing-back.
Coughing gently to get their attention, Cowley had approached his agents. Doyle had visibly paled and Bodie's face flushed a full scarlet. 'Doyle, you can't come back here, after the show today. You'll need to clear out of your flat immediately. Don't worry, I'll have Bodie at the drop site, even if I drive him myself.' Crossing the room, Cowley pulled the gilt-edged painting from the wall, revealing a small safe. He removed and counted out twenty-five crisp, new hundred pound notes. 'It's not much by the way of a departing bonus, but I'm sure ye'll put it to good use on top of what we squeezed out of Hadley.'
Hadley had not been ungenerous, and Doyle could almost forgive him. He did not appreciate being used as a dupe by the Colonel to seal Skellen's cover.
Thinking back to Cowley's gift and the honest goodwill he had wished them, Doyle was suddenly struck by a sharp thought.
"What's wrong, sunshine?" Bodie asked, concerned by the pained expression on his mate's face.
"Oh, I just realized something," Doyle answered pensively.
"What? Forget to cancel your papers?"
"No, you prat--was thinking about that old saying...'Be careful what you wish for, you might get it'."
"Well, you wished for me and here I am," Bodie said, merrily, with a comic waggle of his quirky brows.
Rolling his eyes because Bodie expected him too, not out of any real exasperation, Doyle was again captivated by this man who was all his. "I was thinking about us, the morning this all started. How I wished Cowley could sort of--you know--give us his blessing. Stupid, but here we are, with the parsimonious old bastard's quid stretching our wallets."
Bodie's eyes twinkled at the mention of blessings, and he reached for his holdall in the overhead bin. Parting the zip, he pulled out a bottle of Glenfiddich. "The Cow slipped this in my bag, Ray."
"He always said we were his best," Doyle intoned thoughtfully.
"But not to our faces. No...I figure the money was as close as the old man could come to a wedding present, don't you?" Bodie asked.
"Yeah." Neither man spoke for several minutes, until Doyle smiled disarmingly at his mate. Giving Bodie's knee a surreptitious squeeze, he said, "Let's see if that Air Hostess can scare up a couple of real glasses, and we'll toast the start of a honeymoon long overdue."
"Great, and if she can't, we'll discover the joys of malt in plastic."
"Nahhhh--drink it from the bottle before I'd do that."
Under the cover of the lap tray, Bodie's broad hand caressingly cupped Doyle's genitals, finding the head and briefly outlining the glans with his fingertips. "Keep it there, if you want," Doyle said in answer to the question in Bodie's sapphire eyes. "I'll keep News of the World on me lap the whole flight, luv."
"Love you, Ray," the tough ex-merc, ex-SAS and now ex-CI5 agent hoarsely whispered.
"I know," Doyle answered softly, and because he knew Bodie needed to hear it, he said the words also. "I love you too, Bodie."
Happy and content as never before in his life, Bodie massaged his lover's expanding groin and wondered how much persuasion it would take to place them in the ranks of the mile high club. 'Who knows," Bodie thought as Ray's cock twitched hungrily in his grasp. 'It's a long flight, sunshine.'
-- THE END --