Object of Desire


"I think we lost him." Bodie still held his gun at the ready, moving cautiously from room to room.

"He could've ducked into any place around here. And Cowley's gonna take the cost of that window out of your pay, mate," snapped Doyle in reply.

"Why should he--you broke it."

"You told me to."

"I merely suggested it."

Doyle threw his partner a dirty look and opened a door at the end of the hallway. "Looks like there are rooms downstairs."

"You better check them out, but I'd bet your pension he's halfway across London by now."

Bodie took out his RT. "I'll check with Murphy. Maybe he and Anson had better luck across the road."

There were two rooms at the bottom of the stairs. The first was empty. When Doyle reached the second, he came to a stunned halt. Standing spread-eagled in the middle of the room was a boy, a young man really, though little out of his teens. His arms were suspended from an elaborate web of hooks and chains attached to the ceiling, his ankles to hooks in the floor. An intricate leather harness captured his slim torso, strips of studded black leather circling his neck, over his shoulders in a "Y" design across his back and down between his small round buttocks, up and around to his shaved groin.

His initial surprise receding, Doyle carefully approached the boy. He didn't appear to be distressed or frightened or drugged. He hardly seemed mildly curious at seeing a stranger walk into the room.

"Who are you and how did you get in here?" he asked Doyle with a clear note of hauteur.

Under the circumstances, Doyle was as nonplussed by the boy's tone as by his appearance. Automatically presenting his I.D., the CI5 agent couldn't help but feel slightly foolish as he introduced himself. "Do you want me to help you get out of this...this..." Doyle waved a vague hand towards the web of chains.

The boy glared at him. "Of course not. My master will be back soon. And unless you have a warrant, you better get the hell out of here. You coppers think you own the goddamn world."

Doyle gritted his teeth and tried to ignore the ludicrous aspect of the situation. "I'm looking for a man involved in a bombing who may be hiding in this area. It looks like he might've ducked into this house. What's your name? Do you live here?"

The boy gave him a dismissive, bored glance and turned his face away. Doyle was about to give the little freak a few choice words when he saw the boy's eyes focus on the door, his condescending expression changing to rapt attention.

Doyle followed the boy's stare.

Bodie was standing in the doorway, shadowy in his all-black attire. He walked slowly into the room, his eyes measuring the boy in leather and chains.

The boy didn't take his eyes off Bodie's face, didn't even blink.

"What have we here?" Bodie's voice was soft and deep as he stopped directly in front of the boy.

Doyle saw the young man's lips quiver.

"He's not the talkative type. Prefers to suffer in silence," replied Doyle with attempted humour. The air seemed to crackle with human electricity.

A hazy smile played over Bodie's mouth. He gazed down at the shiny, silver clamps that squeezed the boy's nipples into hard, red peaks. "You have to know how to handle them," he said.

Bodie looked into the boy's wide, hazel eyes. "My name is Bodie. And your name is?" His voice was cold silk.

The boy swallowed. "Joey."

Bodie arched an eyebrow. "What?" It was a cue, his voice unnervingly soft.

"Joey...my name is Joey Morgan...sir."

Bodie lightly fingered one of the clamps, pausing over it. Doyle heard the boy's sudden intake of breath. With slow, measured movements, Bodie pressed the clamp open, releasing the bruised, swollen nipple. The clamp fell to the floor with a small, metallic clink.

The boy gasped and squeezed his eyes shut. "Please, sir, no--"

Doyle started to say something, but stopped. The boy's cock was getting hard.

"What is your master's name?"

Joey shook his head. "I...I can't, sir."

Bodie's hand moved to the other nipple. "It hurts much more when I take it off, doesn't it?"

The boy whimpered. His penis strained against the tight, leather strip that bound it.

Bodie opened the other clamp and let it fall to the floor. "Look at me."

The boy did as he was told, his hazel eyes gleaming with tears and sexual heat.

"His name."

Joey answered and continued to answer whatever Bodie asked.

Finally, Bodie raised his hand and touched his index finger to the boy's mouth, very slowly pushing it inside.

The boy began to suck it greedily.

Bodie pulled his finger out. "That's enough."

The boy in chains moaned.

"You tell your master you need to be fucked more often." Bodie turned his back on the boy and walked leisurely out of the room.

Doyle had to make himself move. At the top of the stairs, he found Bodie waiting. He looked into his partner's face, then quickly looked away, toward the rooms downstairs. "Are you just going to leave that kid like...like that?" he managed to ask. His throat felt dry.

"That's what he wants," he heard Bodie say as he headed for the door.

Doyle could only stare at the empty air.

Again, Bodie was waiting for him outside, car keys dangling from his fingers, jingling faintly. "I didn't see Murph or Anson before. Their motor's gone, too. Looks like they might've spotted our little bombmaker. We better check in."

Brought back to the task at hand with the sense of being shaken out of a dream, Doyle nodded and quickened his pace towards the silver Capri.

In the car, Bodie called into headquarters, receiving orders to remain on standby. He turned to Doyle with a grin. "You heard him. Standby. How about getting some takeaway and going back to your place?" Blue eyes twinkled. "That little Indian place is right on the way to your flat."

Elbow propped against the window, chin in his hand, Doyle gazed at his partner in wonder. "So, are you going to tell me what that was all about?"


Doyle hissed softly between his teeth. "That...performance back there." His lips tightened at Bodie's puzzled expression. "Oh, c'mon. With that kid in the chains. Where'd that come from, eh?"

Bodie looked down at his hands. "That. No big deal. Bit o' make believe, play acting, s'all."

"Really? That's what you call it?" He snorted. "And I thought I was good at undercover." He paused, looking at the dark fan of lashes that hid Bodie's eyes, his next words rushing out. "We've been partners for over three years. We've gone to bed together, for godsakes."

In the sudden quiet that followed, Bodie turned the key in the ignition, engine vibrating to life. His mouth lifted in a vague, faraway smile. "We've had sex exactly four times. Only once in a bed."

Doyle really didn't want to discuss it. Hadn't intended to mention it. Neither of them had talked about the recent change in their relationship. Christ, he hadn't sorted it out in his own head yet. "I meant, I thought I knew you better," he amended.

"You know me well enough."

Doyle shook his head. "I've never seen you like that. Believe me, I would have remembered."

Bodie's sigh sounded heavy and Doyle opted for momentary diversion.

"Let's get some food. I've got a bottle of wine at the flat. No beer. You wanna stop by the off-license."

Bodie steered the Capri into traffic, signalling for a turn. "The wine will do nicely."

"I'm not letting it drop," warned Doyle in a tone he reserved for interrogations.

Not bothering to pretend he didn't know what Doyle was referring to, Bodie nodded glumly. "I didn't think you would."

The tandoori chicken was delicious, Doyle for once eating as much as his partner. Lifting one last forkful of curried rice, he watched Bodie out of the corner of his eye. "I'll have to get more of that wine in."

Bodie poured the last of the chardonnay into his glass and took a small swallow, dark blue eyes peering over the rim. "Can I stay here tonight?"

Doyle gave it a moment's pause, then nodded. Bodie never asked like that; it was always a case of 'I'm too pissed/knackered/comfy to move' and then he'd just crash out on the sofa. Before, staying the night meant a good night's sleep, nothing more. Things had changed over the past few weeks. The last time, it hadn't been the sofa.

Bodie placed his glass carefully on the table and smiled at him.

Doyle found he couldn't quite reconcile the smile and its shy charm with the powerful image of the man in black standing before an eager boy in chains. Doyle frowned as he pushed his chair back and rose from the table. He gathered his plate and utensils, not looking at Bodie, and brought them over to the sink.

"Do you want me to help clean up?" Bodie's chair scraped against the lino as he stood.

A few seconds later, Doyle felt the brush of his partner's arm, very lightly against his shoulder, as Bodie deposited some dishes in the sink. "I'll wash up later," he said, moving away. "Want a coffee?"

The silence lasted a beat too long, telling Doyle that Bodie could feel the sudden tension. "Yeh, fine."

"Maybe you better call in and check our status," Doyle told him. "Maybe we can get off standby."

"All right." Doyle felt his partner's eyes searching his face for...something before Bodie turned and walked towards the phone in the lounge.

Feeling suddenly foolish and a little angry with himself, Doyle set about making coffee. Bodie returned a few minutes later. "No reprieve. We're still on standby. Murphy and Anson drew the short straw though. They're following up another lead on our elusive bomber. They'll be crawling through Limehouse 'til morning probably."

Doyle pulled a couple of mugs from the shelf and handed one to Bodie. "Maybe we won't have to worry about any interruptions if the bloke stays elusive."

Bodie's soft smile lit his face again, but Doyle forced himself to ignore its effects, along with the tingle that spread under his skin. The smell of fresh brewed coffee drifted in the warm kitchen air. Faint sounds of traffic seeped in through the window panes. "I think you owe me an explanation," he said.

Grin fading, Bodie raised his chin. "Owe?"

"I'm curious about what happened with that kid today," Doyle rephrased. "I've never seen you like that. The kid didn't react that way to me."

Bodie gave him an almost apologetic gaze from head to toe. "You don't fit the profile, Ray."

Doyle set his mug on the counter with a thunk. "What do you mean by that?"

Walking over to him, Bodie reached for the coffee pot and carefully poured some into each mug. His eyes never left the counter as he spoke. "You look too..." he paused as if searching for the proper word, "...light, too...fey."

"Fu--" Doyle shut his mouth, wrestled his temper under control. "Is that so?"

"I said 'look', it's just the image, surface stuff, that's all."

"I know what I look like," countered Doyle, hackles rising again.

"No you don't. Sometimes I don't think you have the vaguest idea."

They were getting away from the point of it. Doyle knew it. Knew Bodie was maneuvering the conversation. Still, he couldn't quite let it drop, not just yet. Bodie wasn't going to squirm out of an explanation, no matter how many clever little detours he threw into the discussion.

Doyle poured some milk into his coffee, giving Bodie a slitted glance. The bulge in Bodie's crotch seemed a little more prominent then before. "All right, you tell me. What don't I know?"

"You're as good undercover as you are because you don't look like a cop. You don't look like people's idea of a cop...or a security agent."

"Oh, yeh, and knowing my job doesn't have a thing to do with it, of course," snapped Doyle, taking Bodie's 'detour' at full speed. "You big pillock. How does that explain your living through your undercover ops, eh?"

"I don't get the kind of assignments you do; no one in the Squad does."

On the verge of launching into a detailed counter argument, Doyle glimpsed the barest upward tilt on Bodie's lips. He let out a breath, very slowly. "Oh, that was good, Bodie. Almost had me started." He shook his head slowly, letting a smile that was closer to menace than warmth slide across his face. "Where'd that S&M stuff come from? You living a secret life or something?"

Bodie rolled his eyes and drank a little of his coffee. "Don't be ridiculous. When would I have time for a bloody secret life? We barely get enough time off to catch a little kip in this outfit. Any free time, I'm usually with you, aren't I. Though god knows, these days, I'd rather be doing something else than sitting here talking," he added with a hopeful lift of his eyebrows.

Unconsciously raking his lower lip with his teeth, Doyle paused and looked intently at Bodie. "You know, you were really scary. I mean, it was as if I was seeing somebody else."

"This is me, Ray," replied Bodie firmly, thumb poking at his chest for emphasis. "What I've always been with you, that's me."

"Then who was that guy with the kid?"

Bodie's chin lifted and the seconds stretched before he answered. "I don't know."

"What the hell is that supposed to mean?" Doyle pushed his mug aside and leaned forward. "C'mon Bodie, that didn't just come out of thin air. Where'd you do stuff like that before? Where? Africa--fun in the bushes with your merc mates?"

Shrugging his shoulders, Bodie sank back casually in his chair. "Didn't have time for it then. Too busy trying to figure out how to stay alive. For your information, merc assignments can be rather unpleasantly hazardous. That's why they have to pay guys so much to take 'em, you see. Everything's planned out in advance. Get the job, go in, get it done, get the hell out. Speed is of the essence, if you know what I mean. Very little opportunity for leisure activities." He gazed into his coffee cup, took a swallow. "I knew enough not to take long assignments. Knew enough to quit early, too."

"Where then?"

Bodie put his cup down and rose from his armchair, settling next to Doyle on the sofa. In his turn, Doyle set his mug aside and looked into his partner's seemingly guileless blue eyes. "Well?"

Bodie reached out and carefully placed his palm over Doyle's groin. "You look good enough to swallow whole."

Bodie's hand was warm. It squeezed gently. Doyle's cock twitched at the contact, the tingle beneath his skin changing to a heated prickling that spread through his nerves. His mind filled with the memory of Bodie's tongue licking along his shaft, tasting it like a favourite sweet, the full lips sucking his balls like candy...

Doyle pushed the hand away and stood up quickly. He drew in

a deep breath as he walked towards the windows, putting space between them. When he turned, arms folded across his chest, his voice was husky with a mixture of frustration and desire. "You're a devious bastard, you know that? First I want you to answer my question."

Throwing his arm across the back of the sofa in a gesture of defeat, Bodie met his stare. "Special exercises. SAS."

For a moment, Doyle wasn't sure his hearing was working properly. "What?" He took a step. "Did you say 'exercises'? As in pushups, knee bends, jogging?"

"As in tie 'em up, gag 'em, slap 'em around. Turns boys into men."

"Or men into boys?"

Bodie gave him a lethal smile. "So I discovered."

"And how, exactly, was this discovery made?" prodded Doyle, his peaked curiosity shielding him from the effects of that smile.

"Gone deaf, have you? Told you, special exercises." At the look of evaporating patience in the green eyes, Bodie went on. "Terrorist/hostage simulations. Surviving interrogations, that sort of thing." Bodie gave a little sigh that could've been boredom.

"Found some new techniques for gaining information, did you?" asked Doyle with a frown.

"Found out a few of them wanted extra practice off duty."

Doyle was about to ask for specifics when the phone started ringing. Cursing under his breath, he glanced at Bodie's relieved expression and went to answer it. "Yeh? Murphy and Anson? When?" He listened, chewing on his lip. "Don't bother, I know where to reach him. Yeh, I'll tell him. Right away." He hung up with a little more force than necessary. "Where's your RT, Bodie?"

Bodie's lips thinned into a guilty grimace "Um, in the car."

"Yeh, well, you're on standby, aren't you? Should either be

near your phone or have your RT on you at all times."

"Gawd, we've been called in, haven't we?" moaned Bodie.

Doyle gave him a humorless smile. "On your feet, we're off."

"What about Murph and Anson?"

"They found our bombmaker."

"Not in the best of health, is he?" Bodie's tone was hopeful.

This time Doyle's smile brought a glint into his eyes. "Oh, he's fine. Turns out he led them a chase right back," he paused for emphasis, "to your little boy in chains."

Bodie gave him a wide-eyed stare.

"Seems the boy's 'master' could be in charge of a lot more than just whips and tit clips."

"Clamps," corrected Bodie off-handedly. He rose from the sofa and slowly stretched his shoulders. Rubbing at a well- formed bicep, he walked towards Doyle, stopping a couple of feet in front of him.

The two men looked at each other silently. Doyle felt as if Bodie was trying to read his mind and wondered if it would be better or worse if he could. Deciding that, at the moment, it would be worse, he drew in a breath and poked a finger at Bodie's midsection "C'mon, we've got to go." He was turning as he felt Bodie's hand on his shoulder, pulling him back.

Just as suddenly, Bodie let him go.

Doyle figured that Bodie had read his mind after all and swallowed suddenly, the persistent tingling heightening again from a simmer to a burn. Giving in to the need, he reached out and took his partner's face in his hands, pulling him close, kissing him hard, feeling Bodie's arms grip him instantly, crushing them together. Their mouths opened, and he felt Bodie's tongue snaking around his own. Soft, sucking noises mingled with a moan.

Bodie's hands lingered when they finally broke apart, traveling slowly down the length of Doyle's arms before dropping away.

Doyle's voice was shaky. "It's gonna have to wait, you know."

"We could say we had a puncture on our way in."

Doyle managed a smile, his lips still tingling. "I want a lot longer than it takes to throw on a spare tyre."

A faint, answering smile grew over Bodie's mouth. "All night?"

"If we're lucky." Doyle wiped gently at the saliva that glistened over his mouth with his fingertips. He made himself move away, heading for the hall cupboard for his jacket and gun.

He could hear Bodie strapping on his holster, gathering his leather jacket and thought about how the sex was changing things between them. The subject had crossed his mind a lot lately. He was looking at everything that they did through the frame of this new reality. If they weren't having if off, he knew he probably would've had a good laugh at Bodie's 'masterful' performance with the kid in the basement. It was one thing if a mate revealed a sexual kink of two, that was his own private business, but it was something else altogether when it was your lover.

Not that Bodie was his lover, exactly. Very occasional sex partner was more precise. And wholly unexpected from the onset. What had seemed unthinkable to him before or, more accurately, irrelevant, had moved into the realm of permissibility, however narrowly or widely he chose to define it. They could be lovers easily enough. The sex was getting better every time, and harder to resist. Harder to resist. The thought made Doyle wince. He wouldn't have believed it possible a few short weeks ago. If he pushed it just a little, it could become very serious indeed between them.

"Hoi, hiding in there forever, are you?" Bodie's voice came from just outside the cupboard, the question rich with humorous undertone.

Doyle shook himself out of his thoughts, adjusted his holster and zipped up his short green jacket. "Oh, very witty. Very profound." He found himself face to face with his partner once more, reluctantly responding to the twinkle in Bodie's blue eyes.

Bodie angled his head towards the cupboard door. "How about we both get in there for a quick body search?"

"Good thing one of us has some sense round here, and it's obviously not you," retorted Doyle, striding purposefully to the front door, hands jammed into his jacket pockets.

HQ was relatively quiet when they arrived. Murphy met them outside the interrogation rooms.

"Cowley wants more information from Joey Morgan. He's in Room Three."

"Where is the Old Man?" asked Doyle.

"Stuck in a dinner meeting with the minister and assorted nobs."

"Forced to partake of fine French wine and lobster, is he?" quipped Bodie.

Murphy smirked. "With the way he's been calling in, he may as well be here. The food can't be that good, he sounded like he was ready to bite a few heads off."

"Status quo, you mean," replied Doyle. "So what did you get from our bombmaker?"

"Everything but his shoe size, and only because I didn't ask. Unfortunately, he doesn't know very much. That was his first run with the big boys. He's fresh from university with a engineering degree and a misplaced need to earn some fast money and make a political statement at the same time. He swears he thought his timer device was supposed to blow away a few trash cans near the embassy. He didn't know they'd stick an extra stick of jelly on it and put it under a car. He's shit-scared. I don't think he's faking it. His only contact and, maybe if we're lucky, the key to the rest of the operation was Joey Morgan's, uh, friend." The Irishman's lips twitched as he dipped his head conspiratorially. "Speaking of which, that kid is very strange."

"You don't say?" deadpanned Bodie, eyes innocently wide.

"Why didn't you tell us we'd find him trussed up like an advert for Bondage Monthly?"

"Didn't think you'd be heading back that way, now did we? Besides, figured he wouldn't be hanging around that long," replied Doyle equally poker-faced.

"Probably a good thing we did. Looks like the 'Master' of the house knew when to take a fast, unscheduled holiday." Murphy lifted an eyebrow at Bodie. "By the way, you made quite an impression on little Joey, 3/7."

Bodie leaned casually against the wall, arms draped across his leather jacket. "I impress everybody, mate."

"Present company excepted, of course," cut in Doyle. "So what's happening, Murph?"

"We brought the kid in for questioning. Mute as a brick. Anson and I both gave him the go-over. Surprisingly tough. Didn't bat an eyelash. Just kept saying he won't talk to anyone but Bodie." The tall Irishman paused. "How'd he know your name?"

"We exchanged cards over high tea at the Ritz."

Murphy rolled his eyes. "I should have guessed. Anyway, that's why we had to call you in. Cowley wants a break on this op and he wants it yesterday. We're running a background check on Morgan but nothing's turned up yet. We can't keep him here much longer. So, what magic spell did you cast on the little bugger, 3/7?"

Doyle glanced at the closed door of Room Three. "I guess this means I can go home."

Bodie ignored Murphy's question as he turned to his partner. "Oh, no. Whither thou goest and vice versa, mate."

"Cowley wants you both here," announced Murphy, settling it.

Doyle hung his head, thick curls flopping across his forehead. "All right. You mean Morgan hasn't said anything at all?"

Murphy's voice sounded like a soft, breathy parody, "'I will speak only to a master. I will speak only to Bodie'." The Irishman gave the two agents a lopsided grin. "I swear, his exact words."

Lips puckered in thought for a moment, Doyle eyed his partner. "Well, go on, give the little...fellow a thrill and let's get this over with."

Bodie returned his look with a flicker of annoyance. "Is a recorder set up?"

"Yeh, all ready to go." answered Murphy.

Bodie nodded and walked to the door of Room Three. "You coming?" he called to Doyle over his shoulder.

They routinely handled interrogations together, but this was obviously different. He was a bit surprised at Bodie's question, even though he very much wanted to be there. "Yeh."

"Can I watch?" added Murphy with a gleam in his eye.

"You had your chance, mate. Go have a cuppa. This won't take long."

The Irishman shrugged with a hint of a smile. "I stand humbled." As he loped away he gave them a wink. "Can't wait to hear the tape, 3/7. Maybe we can use it at the next Christmas party." His chuckle faded down the hall.

Joey Morgan was sitting in one of the two sturdy wooden chairs in the windowless, steel-coloured room. His hands were folded in his lap, his head lowered, as if he might have been dozing. A narrow metal table stood against the wall beside the door. The tape recorder was on it. The kid looked up as the two CI5 agents entered.

Doyle glanced from Bodie to the kid. As far as Joey was concerned, Doyle may as well have been on the moon. The expression on the boy's face seemed to slip from surprise into something akin to reverence. His lips trembled ever so slightly and then he stood up, took a few steps towards Bodie, and slowly sank to his knees.

"Oh gawd," muttered Doyle tightly under his breath.

The boy's gaze drifted in unblinking fascination from Bodie's face, down the length of his torso to the black corduroy-covered crotch.

In one swift move, Bodie grabbed Joey by the front of his denim shirt and hauled him to his feet, effortlessly flinging the kid back into his chair, rocking it with the impact. Joey's arms flung outward as he scrambled to balance himself.

Doyle glanced from the boy's face to his partner's. The boy's eyes were almost glittering with excitement, his tongue darting out between his lips as he continued to stare at Bodie. His partner was standing very still, just looking down at Joey Morgan, but it was as if the air had changed.

"Answer my questions. Don't lie to me." Bodie told the boy crisply.

Doyle walked over to the recorder and started the tape, needing to do something to keep himself from staring at Bodie.

The boy raised his hands towards Bodie, wrists touching as if bound by some imaginary chain. "I wouldn't lie to you, sir." His voice was husky.

"You told me your master's name was Daniel Loder. Is that true?"

Doyle remained by the tape recorder. He could see Joey, but Bodie's back was turned away from him. He watched Joey nod his head in answer, his face tilting and his eyes slitting dreamily, as if the question was not important at all.

"He's not coming back for you, is he?" Bodie's voice was smooth and all business.

"No, sir." Joey folded his hands in his lap once more. "It was almost over anyway. There was nothing more he could teach me about myself. But you, you--"

"That's enough." Bodie took a step back, glancing sideways. Doyle wasn't sure if Bodie was looking at him or the tape recorder. The dark head turned back to Morgan. "Tell me everything you know about Loder. Everything."

The boy talked with little hesitation, dutifully reciting how he had met the man he called his master, what details he knew of Loder's background and acquaintances. Doyle was amazed at how skimpy Joey's information seemed to be.

"I didn't really care what he did when I wasn't with him. That had nothing to do with me or with what he was to me. He kept me separate from the rest of his life. That's the way we both agreed it would be from the start."

"Nothing between you but the fantasy, eh?" Bodie asked with a colder voice.

"It's real to me," replied the boy. "You know what I mean...sir."

Doyle watched Bodie slowly shake his head. "No, I don't." This time Bodie turned and looked directly at him. Doyle gave him a tiny nod.

"Doesn't it bother you that Loder could be breaking the law, in a big way?" Bodie asked the boy.

"I thought maybe he was selling drugs, but it didn't matter to me. He only used poppers with me. He doesn't matter any more." Joey took a slow, heavy breath, lips opening wide, smiling slightly, provocatively, at Bodie. Hands still folded in his lap, his fingers clutched tight as he leaned forward in the hard wooden chair. "I dream about you. I think about you all the time now. Only you. I didn't think I'd ever see you again," he said in a honeyed whisper. "I want to be your slave."

Doyle slammed the stop button of the recorder, the click loud and sharp.

Joey's hands fell away from his lap, the worn denim of his jeans strained against his obvious erection. "Please let me, sir...please. I want you more than anything."

Bodie called to Doyle over his shoulder as he walked to the door. "There's nothing more he can tell us. If the computer check hasn't turned up anything else, we may as well let him go." Then he threw open the door and left. Doyle watched the door drift shut with a soft metallic sound. He rubbed the back of his hand across his jaw, aware of his pulse racing.

"You've made a bad mistake about Bodie," he told the boy.

Joey was still staring at the door. He blinked and finally shifted his gaze to Doyle as if the agent had just materialized out of thin air. Hazel eyes narrowed in the schoolboy face. "He's my desire. He's a Master."

Doyle advanced on Morgan, stopping in front of his chair. "Why don't you join the rest of us in the real world, son? Your former playmate is very likely responsible for the deaths of several innocent people, and maybe a lot more we don't even know about yet. Do you understand me? Do you even give a damn?"

Joey looked back at the door. "Do you think he'll be coming back?"

Irritated, Doyle realized that the boy was referring to Bodie, and not Loder. "Get this into your head once and for all: Bodie would never want anything to do with you."

His words seemed to hang in the sudden silence of the room. Feeling faintly embarrassed, Doyle ran a hand through his curls and craned his neck against a knot of muscle.

"What are you to him?"

The question and its hostile undertone turned his attention back to the boy. Meeting Joey's suspicious frown, Doyle muttered a bemused, "What?"

"Do you want him, too?"

Doyle stared silently at Joey for a moment. When he spoke, he made his voice flat and steady. "Bodie and I are partners. We work together."

More seconds ticked by as Joey looked him up and down, a smirk lifting the corners of his mouth. "You want him," he said, with contemptuous certainty.

"Think whatever you like," dismissed Doyle brusquely. "You can leave in a few minutes." He walked back to the tape recorder and pressed the rewind key. The tape made a soft whirring noise. He leaned back against the wall. The kid was watching the door again.

Doyle's stomach twisted with a rush of tension. Of course he wanted Bodie. Exactly how much was becoming more and more of a worrisome revelation. The image of Joey's hands raised towards Bodie as if bound, held from touching, flashed through Doyle, taking his mind on a strange new path.

Doyle wasn't a toucher. That was most especially true when it came to Bodie, and less so when it came to everybody else. Temptation avoided, temptation conquered?

Bodie touched him all the time, from early days; he couldn't keep his hands off. It was practically a joke in the Squad. That had to mean Bodie wanted him even more, his mind countered vehemently.

The door opened and Morgan sat forward expectantly, sagging back in disappointment as Murphy poked his head inside, glancing from the kid to Doyle. "Computer check is clean. We should let him go now."

"Yeh, okay," replied Doyle dully as Murphy raised an eyebrow and left.

"I want to see Bodie." The boy's tone was adamant.

The tape clicked shut. Doyle ejected the tape and moved to the door, waving a hand at Morgan. "Get up. You're leaving."

"I just want to see him for a minute."

"We're busy here, Morgan. We have work to do. Now, c'mon, let's go."

Joey got up slowly, rubbing his palms against the sides of his worn jeans. "I didn't mean to make him angry at me. I just want to apologize to him."

Doyle's hand was on the doorknob, knuckles whitening with his grip. He wanted to make the situation very clear to the kid even though his common sense told him it would not be at all wise.

"I can wait for him outside. Or anywhere he wants. For as long as it takes. Forever."

Brow furrowing, Doyle stared into the boy's face. Morgan had problems. They all had problems. But he didn't like the glint of budding obsession in those hazel eyes. "Find somebody else, Joey."

"It would be wild with him. The best." And then, with a defiant lift of his chin, Morgan added, "He didn't say 'no'."

Doyle fought with himself for an instant and lost. "Listen carefully. Bodie isn't interested. He'll never be interested."

"You can't say that. You don't know--"

"Yes, I do. I know...exactly."

Morgan stared at him, unblinking, his eyes slowly rounding. And then he looked down at the floor, palms still rubbing reflexively against his jeans. "I could make it special. Better than you. Better than anyone." His head shot up again and he walked back to the chair and sat. "I want to see Bodie. I'm not leaving until I see him." He glared into Doyle's face. "You're nothing."

Doyle ground his jaws, fighting to keep from telling off the little punk in no uncertain terms. But he knew he'd said too much, admitted too much already, his own pride working against him. It was still working against him. "All right, Morgan. I'll let Bodie tell you."

He slammed the door of the interrogation room behind him and strode down the hallway. "Where's Bodie?" he called to Jax as he passed the other agent.

"Think I saw him with Murph in the computer room."

Fists clenched, he headed to the end of the hall and round the corner. He found the two agents checking through a long computer readout. "We better tell the Old Man that if he wants to put another unit--"


The dark head turned towards him and Doyle felt an odd little jolt at the cool facade. He threw the tape cassette at Murphy who caught it one-handed. "Morgan's interview. There are a couple of places we can check, not much else." He took a quick breath and pinned Bodie with a look. "I have to talk to you." He left the room, not waiting for an answer and ignoring Murphy's puzzled expression.

He realized he was chewing at his lip and stopped just as Bodie walked slowly down the corridor towards him.

"What is it?" The question was as neutral as Bodie's face.

"Morgan won't leave until he sees you. I could throw him out on his arse, but then he'll just be waiting outside for you." He let out a sigh. "Morgan seems to think I'm presuming to be his competition." Doyle paused to let the last sentence sink in a little before he continued. "I let him get to me and I shouldn't have."

Bodie frowned, jaw working. At least it was an improvement over the cold neutrality. "What did you tell him?"

"Nothing that he'll believe."

The dark head nodded slightly. "What do you want me to tell him?"

"Something convincing."

Blue eyes held his gaze. "And what do you think that might be?"

That was the question indeed. Doyle pressed his lips together, all too aware that they were standing in a hallway in the middle of CI5 headquarters. He could hear the hum of familiar activity all around them. A tingle grew warm under his skin. "I want you to tell him you don't need, or want, anyone else but me."

Bodie seemed to consider the statement for a moment. Then he started to walk towards the interrogation rooms. Doyle blocked him with an outstretched arm. "Only if you can say it convincingly, Bodie."

The dark head lowered a little towards him, a shadowy smile playing over the handsome face. "We do have a lot to sort out, don't we, Ray?" Bodie brushed passed him and continued down the hallway.

It was not the answer Doyle had expected. It wasn't even the kind of response he was used to hearing from the other man, under any circumstances. Bodie was not the 'sorting out' kind.

Before Joey Morgan and his dungeon of chains had popped into their lives, there wouldn't have been anything to sort out. Curiosity and an admitted vested interest made Doyle push the issue, prodding Bodie for explanations, the result being to force their own fledgling relationship under a magnifying glass before either of them was ready for it. He should have left well enough alone, he told himself grimly.

Doyle ran a hand through his long curls and followed after his partner.

A part of Doyle still assumed that Bodie would simply clear up the situation by telling Joey Morgan to go to hell. At the very least, he thought Bodie would explain to the boy that he was quite mistaken about Bodie's inclinations and then politely but firmly show Joey to the nearest exit.

What made him nervous was that he couldn't be sure what Bodie would do.

Bodie waited by the interrogation room, his hand on the door knob. He watched as Doyle walked up beside him. At Doyle's look of uncertainty, Bodie's lips quirked upward at the corners. He opened the door, ushering Doyle ahead of him with a sweeping wave of his hand.

Joey rose from his chair, a smile blossoming over his face as he saw Bodie enter. He opened his mouth to speak, but Bodie stopped him with a softly spoken "No".

Bodie shut the door behind them and leaned back against it. Meeting the boy's ravenous stare. "Ray tells me that you don't quite get the message. Maybe you'll understand this."

Puzzled, Doyle turned to look at his partner. Before he realized what was happening, Bodie grabbed his arm, jerked him tight against his chest, his free hand clamping onto Doyle's scalp as he covered his mouth in a deep kiss.

With a muffled grunt of surprise, Doyle tried to pull away but Bodie's arms only tightened around him, fingers yanking at his hair to keep his head still.

Doyle couldn't believe it, even as the kiss seemed to suck the air from his lungs. Bodie's lips were moist and hot and devouring. Their bodies were pressed together. His mouth opened instinctively, letting Bodie's tongue probe deep inside. He sensed the kid watching them. There was only a door between them and the rest of CI5. The sexual tingle raced along his nerves, buzzed under his skin. The sheer audacity of it excited him. It felt too good to stop.

His heart was pounding like a drum when Bodie finally pushed him away, gazing into his eyes for a moment, then shifting him round so his back was against Bodie's chest, arms encircling him again in a possessive embrace. Doyle looked straight ahead into Joey Morgan's startled eyes. Bodie's voice was close by his ear, warm breath fanning his cheek.

"Frankly, Joey, you're not my type," Bodie began calmly. "Here's what I want you to do. I want you to leave here now. We'll get you a taxi to take you back to your own flat. Then you can go about your life as usual. Find yourself a new playmate. Someone who enjoys the same games you do. I don't. Try and be more selective the next time round."

Joey's unblinking gaze was moving down to Doyle's shirt. As usual, Doyle had left several buttons undone. Bodie's fingers were slipping inside and slowly rubbing at his left nipple.

"Do you understand me, Joey?" asked Bodie casually. Doyle muffled a gasp as Bodie's fingers pinched the nub into a hard peak. And then he felt Bodie's lips against his temple, brushing the skin in a nibbling kiss that was disturbingly tender. Doyle's cock grew harder.

Morgan's face seemed to crumble. For a moment, it looked like the boy was going to cry.

"Understand?" repeated Bodie quietly.

Joey lowered his head and nodded.

With a reluctance Doyle could feel, Bodie's arms released him, fingers tracing a sensuous line across his chest as they withdrew. Doyle managed to walk the few steps to the metal table near the door. He heard the door open and turned in time to see Joey shuffling out into the hallway, head still lowered. Bodie stood by the propped open door. "I'll be right back," he said, his expression a subtle shading of emotions that Doyle didn't trust himself to decipher.

By the time Bodie returned, Doyle was calmer. Just. He met his partner in the hallway outside the room. "Did you put him in a taxi?" At Bodie's nod, Doyle started down the hall towards the restroom. "I could use a glass of Cowley's malt right now. I could down the whole bottle, but I suppose a cuppa will have to do." He was only too aware of the silent presence that walked in step beside him.

McCabe was in the restroom, his feet perched on the table top, chair tilted at an angle, the latest copy of Playboy spread across his lap. He was staring intently at the centerfold. Doyle bit back a curse. He was hoping the room would be empty. More to the point, he wished they were both in his flat. Alone.

"Improving your mind, McCabe?" Bodie threw the question out conversationally as he pulled his mug down off the shelf.

McCabe gave them a passing glance before returning his attention to the magazine. "Admiring photographic technique, 3/7. Only buy it for the interviews." McCabe said the same thing every month. Asking had become a restroom ritual.

"You going on duty?" Doyle blew the dust out of his mug and found a bag of Irish Breakfast. The kettle began to whistle.

"Just boiled it," McCabe told them, his eyes never leaving the page. "And I'm off duty, thank you very much. Just waiting for Jax to give me a lift. Spent the bleeding day typing up bleeding reports that Lewis was supposed to do if the bleeding sod hadn't caught the bleeding flu."

"Sounds like you've had a bleeding tough day," replied Doyle tersely. It was amazing how idiotically normal their behavior seemed. Of course, McCabe had no reason to be otherwise. For his own part, Doyle found it took concerted effort to appear as blase as his partner after their...exhibition in front of Joey Morgan. He watched Bodie saunter over to the table, sipping at his tea, pausing to admire the centerfold over McCabe's shoulder.

Doyle gritted his teeth. He definitely wasn't the only one good at undercover. He stirred some milk into his mug with slightly more force than necessary, tea spilling over the rim. "Damn," he muttered as the hot liquid lapped over his fingers.

"Hoi, if you want that ride, get a move on," called Jax from the door.

McCabe put his feet down, carefully closed the Playgirl and slid it under his arm. "Yeh, let's go." He hurried out after Jax without a backward glance.

Alone in the room, but knowing that half of CI5 could wander in at any moment, left Doyle glaring at Bodie with thinly veiled frustration. It was only slight comfort that his partner bore a very similar expression. He managed a few sips of the tea as he eyed the doorway. Bodie seated himself in McCabe's abandoned chair, one hand toying with the handle of his mug.

Doyle took the chair to the right side of Bodie, facing the door, and pitched his voice low. "I can't believe what you did in there. What if Morgan flogs the story to the Sun or something? I can just see the headline, 'Queers run amok in CI5'. Wouldn't the Cow just love that?"

Bodie picked up his mug and took a careful swallow. "He won't do anything like that. Ever." It was a statement of fact.

Doyle slumped back in his chair, somehow certain that Bodie was right about Joey. It was his uncertainty about his partner that bothered him at the moment. "Why, Bodie? That was a risky, crazy thing to do."

Dark lashes lowered as Bodie seemed to consider his answer. "A picture is worth...well, you know."

"That's dangerous, Bodie. We have to be careful. You know that. Our jobs are on the line."

Blue eyes snapped up. "You don't have to tell me that. I understand it better than you."

"What do you mean?"

"I know what the rules are, Ray. I only break the ones that count, and only when necessary." Catching Doyle's frown, he added with a sigh, "I know how to be careful. No one could've caught us at it with me blocking the door. It was just a demonstration for Joey's sake. He'll remember it a lot longer than anything I could've said to him."

"Just a demonstration, eh?" repeated Doyle tightly. "So glad I could be of service."

"You didn't really expect me to tell him that stuff about not wanting anyone but you?"

For a split-second, Doyle froze to the bone. Then he smiled. "Too much, was it?"

"The kid wouldn't have believed it. That's not his language. It wouldn't have worked."

"You know, you're right. We do have some sorting out to do. I'm beginning to see I'm the one who's in the dark here."

To Doyle's amazement, Bodie laughed. "Oh, now that's a good one."

"Missed a joke, have I?" Murphy was coming in the door, a computer printout in his hand.

"You and me both," muttered Doyle, feeling surprisingly relieved at the interruption.


Bodie pushed back his chair and stood up. "Never mind, Murph. Not your kind of humour anyway. So, you hear from the Cow yet or are we supposed to sit on our arses for the rest of the bloody night?"

"Since you asked so nicely, 3/7," replied Murphy with a smug grin, "Mr. Cowley has just called in. His dinner's turned into a full-blown conference, and he won't be able to get away for a while. I gave him an update, such as it was. He wants you and 4/5 to check out Loder's place."

Murphy sniffed indignantly at Bodie's groan. "Quit complaining. It was bad enough that the Cow saw fit to yoke me with Anson today. Now, I've got to spend the night following up on whatever info your bondage boy might've given us." He ignored Doyle's sour expression and the blank wall of Bodie's face and continued. "All you two have to do is have a look-round Loder's place and then you can scurry off to your nice warm beds."

Bodie rolled his head back. "But didn't you and Anson check out Loder's place already?"

"We were more interested in bringing in our little bomber and Morgan. We planted Pennington to watch the house from across the road, just in case. He's probably gone numb sitting in the car all this time."

"Well, why can't Pennington--"

Murphy interrupted with a knowing look. "Because Cowley wants the two of you to do it. Oh, and did I mention he wants you to get on it right away?"

Doyle rose from his chair and exchanged a resigned glance with his partner. "Thanks a bunch, Murph."

"My pleasure. One more thing." Murphy fished in his pocket and pulled out a key, tossing it to Bodie. "Got that from little Joey when we picked him up, the key to Loder's place." Bodie and Doyle headed for the door. "By the way," added Murphy with feigned innocence. "I noticed a broken window near the back of the house. Looked like someone broke in quite recently. Wouldn't happen to know anything about that, would you?"

A simultaneous "no" answered him as the two agents walked away.

By unspoken agreement, they stayed away from the downstairs rooms. The rest of Loder's flat was spacious, nicely furnished and otherwise unremarkable.

"Nothing here." Bodie slammed the desk drawer shut and opened another. He rifled through the contents. "I suppose we couldn't have expected a diary with an entry marked 'how I spent my day arranging car bombings for fun and profit'."

"He's managed to stay in the shadows this long. He might be

kinky, but he's not a moron," agreed Doyle. "We're lucky he made the mistake of recruiting our little student bomber, or we'd still be chasing our tails." He checked through the rest of the bookshelves in the lounge and headed for the next room.

Almost two hours later, they were sitting in Loder's pale blue kitchen, helping themselves to his Earl Grey. Bodie found a tin of ginger biscuits and brought it to the table.

"You better hope that Murphy or one of the other lads comes up with something tonight or the Cow will have us all running double shifts until we get Loder," remarked Doyle as he waved away the biscuits.

"Not our fault if we didn't turn up anything here. We performed our assigned duty like good little scouts," replied Bodie through a mouthful of crumbs.

"Yeh, and we're back on standby."

"Anytime the Old Man gets an itch about a case, he just can't stomach the thought of any of us getting a decent night's sleep."

Doyle glanced up from his tea and met Bodie's steady look. "We may as well call in our report and go on home then."

Bodie finished off his tea, his unwavering gaze on his partner's face. "We didn't check out the rooms downstairs."

Doyle stood up and carried his mug over to the sink. There was nothing in those rooms except... Still, they'd spent enough time searching through the rest of the flat, it wouldn't make any sense not to finish the job properly. "C'mon, let's get it over with."

The first, smaller room looked empty, but on closer inspection contained a couple of old worn rugs rolled up in a corner and some dried out paint cans which Doyle conscientiously unrolled, pried open, and checked anyway.

That left the second room.

Aside from Joey Morgan's absence, it was unchanged. Studded leather straps hung from sturdy hooks and pulleys from the ceiling. A small assortment of chains, cuffs, harnesses and whips were laying in what looked like built-in shelves set into one wall. The room was painted a deep blue. The light was diffuse, coming from angled fixtures set high in the corners that threw subtle shadows across the floors and walls. As Doyle gazed around the room, he realized he hadn't really noticed all the...paraphernalia the first time. Joey's startling appearance had captured all his attention, until Bodie had come into the room.

Doyle turned and found Bodie leaning casually against the door frame, arms crossed over his chest. "I didn't fully appreciate all of Loder's interior decoration," he told Bodie with a nod towards the shelves.

Bodie glanced around the room. "Yeh, nice ambiance. Tastefully appointed."

Doyle reached out and fingered one of the cuffs that hung dangling from the rig in the middle of the room. The leather harness that Joey had worn lay beside a hook in the floor and he nudged it with the toe of his trainer. He grinned at the image of Murphy and Anson untangling the sullen boy from his web of chains and leather.

"Yeh, it must've been quite a picture. Anson must've turned nine shades of red, don't you reckon?" asked Bodie from close behind him.

"Nah, Anson would've just complained that it wasn't a bird trussed up instead," replied Doyle though one part of his mind examined the fact that he and Bodie hardly needed words to communicate, so closely in sync were their thoughts. They were only in a muddle lately when it came to the new intimacy between them. That struck him as particularly odd. Unexpectedly, it also reminded him of Ann. The more feeling there had been between them, the less they had understood each other.

He pushed the thought away, bothered by its implications. He turned the wide cuff in his hand, this way and that. It was expensive leather, supple and smooth, with a metal hinge lock. "I suppose it was lucky for the kid that they came back here. He'd have rotted otherwise."

"Nah, he could get free if he wanted."

Doyle turned to his partner, eyebrows rising. "Oh yeh?" He pulled the cuff towards Bodie. "And how would he manage that? He'd have to be Houdini."

"Nope. The chain. Look at the links."

Doyle examined the chain that led from the cuff. Sure enough, one of the links looked different. Unlike the thick oval-shape of all the others, it was slightly longer, flatter, the metal thinner. The ends overlapped instead of closing shut. He touched the link with a fingertip.

"You just have to press it open and push it through the link above it, and presto," Bodie told him.

Doyle took the cuff and slipped it onto his right wrist. He slid the hinge latch into place, locking the cuff. His arm dangled at eye level. Looking at the rig above, he guessed the height and tension could be adjusted to accommodate a wide range of discomfort. He pulled hard against the cuff. It didn't give. He extended his fingers and found that he could easily reach the overlapping link. He pressed against it with his thumb and forefinger and the link gaped open. He fiddled with it. It wasn't quite that easy one-handed, but he finally managed to push the link above it through the gap. The cuff fell away from the rest of the chain. "Damn. Did you notice that the first time?"

Bodie pursed his lips smugly. "Yeh."

Doyle raised his still-cuffed hand, the few links attached to it jingling, and pointed an accusing finger at his partner. "Why the hell didn't you tell me?"

"Thought you'd spotted it yourself, Sherlock."

Doyle let out an exasperated sigh. "I was distracted. Besides, it wasn't important at the time." As Bodie wandered towards the shelves, he raised his hand and looked at the cuff pensively. "Ruins the fantasy, I should think. Cheating, and all that."

"Think of it as a fire exit. Use only in case of emergency." Bodie's voice was muffled as he poked his head into the shelves, surveying the contents.

"Is there always a, um, safety catch?" asked Doyle, stepping to one side to examine the other dangling cuff. The chain links looked like they were all solid.

"How the hell should I know?"

"Well, you're the expert, now aren't you?"

Finishing his circuit of the room, Bodie sauntered back and stopped in front of him. "It was never a hobby of mine, Ray, just a brief, passing acquaintance." The blue eyes searched his face intently for a moment. "Wanna try it?"

Doyle had been thinking just that. How it would feel to be chained and Bodie kissing him. His eyes rounded and he felt his face heat. He swallowed. He became acutely aware of the cuff on his right hand and the sound of the links jingling. Unsettling.

Bodie was lifting his left arm towards the other cuff. Gently, slowly, giving him plenty of time to pull away.

"I'm just curious," Doyle muttered. It was, after all, the truth. The hideous, embarrassing truth. He cleared his throat and stared into Bodie's face. To his intense relief, Bodie seemed a little flushed, too. "Yeh, I know." The cuff locked shut around his wrist, raising his arm slightly above his head. Bodie moved to his side and reattached the other cuff. His arms were spread wide but not pulled taut.

Doyle looked at one arm and then the other, his right hand fingering the escape link. "Guess I've momentarily lost my mind," he murmured. "What if a bunch of villains rush into the room and ambush us right this minute? What if Loder comes back?"

Bodie stopped in front of him. "Highly unlikely on both counts, I'd say. Does lend an extra edge of excitement to the whole thing though, doesn't it?" He gave him a crooked grin and then wrapped his arms around Doyle's waist, pulling their groins together. "Mmm, not bad, this." Bodie leaned against him as if for support, his face nuzzling Doyle's cheek like a big cat.

Doyle liked the feel of Bodie's weight against him. Warm, solid. It was reassuring even in this strangest of settings. He moved his cheek, returning the rubbing gesture. "I think we both need a shave," he whispered. He felt a rumble of soft laughter through Bodie's chest.

The dark head pulled away from him slightly. "I'm going to show you how you kiss," his partner told him. They were almost nose to nose.

Doyle squinted. "Oh yeh? And how would you know the breadth of my talents?"

Strong arms squeezed his waist. Doyle pushed his groin into Bodie's for added emphasis, eliciting a grin.

"Ah, well, 's true my personal experience in the area is sadly limited--at the moment. However, powers of observation, mate. Years of watching your technique on doubles."

Doyle's eyes widened at this revelation, but he managed to quip. "Realized mine is far superior to yours, eh?"

"It's more a case of saving the best for later." With that, Bodie let go of his waist, and moved to gently cup Doyle's face between his hands. Head tilted, he closed the short distance between them, brushing his lips over the edges of Doyle's mouth in feathery, teasing motions. Fingers stroked Doyle's skin, sweeping slowly to comb through his curls and back again. Lips nibbled at his eyebrows, moved over his eyelashes with a tickling of warm breath, finally returning to his mouth in a slow, steadily deepening kiss.

When Bodie pulled away, Doyle tried without success to keep his voice steady. "I, uh, I'm damn good at that. Should win an award or something."

Bodie's face broke into another grin. "You're getting almost as modest as me, Ray. Ah, but now it's my turn."

The wet touch of Bodie's tongue tracing his earlobe made him shiver. Reflex made him pull against the chains, wanting to put his arms around the broad shoulders. The cuffs held and his fingers glided heedlessly over the escape link.

He bared his neck, head thrown back, as Bodie's lips licked slowly downward over his skin, making his nerves quiver and tingle, making his cock grow hard. He could feel Bodie's Magnum pressing into his ribs, the holster chafing his shirt. His own Browning felt oddly heavy against his armpit.

His shirt was pulled from his waistband, the remaining few buttons quickly opened. Bodie's lips continued their slow zigzagging journey over his collarbone, nipples, the plane of his stomach. His holster prevented Bodie from removing his shirt, but Doyle felt his partner's hands pushing the cotton aside as far as he could, fingers tracing over faded scars, finally anchoring at his hips as Bodie sank to his knees.

The sound of his zip opening made Doyle lower his gaze, a moment's clarity rippling through desire. "W-we better stop," he heard his own voice say, even while every molecule in his body wanted Bodie's mouth on his cock. Bodie's face turned up towards him, palm firmly cupping his erection through the thin cotton of his underpants.

Doyle wanted it, wanted it terribly, but it was that thread of guilt that went along with being a copper, a CI5 agent, that balked and nagged. He shouldn't have let it happen. They were on duty. They couldn't keep...indulging themselves, each time bolder and wilder than the last. On stakeout, in an interrogation room with Morgan, here in this dungeon playroom. Worse and worse...

"Bit late to protest," Bodie told him softly, cutting off his thoughts. The smoky blue eyes changed their focus, shifting to Doyle's right arm, to the cuff and the chain above. "Tell you what," he said in that same soft voice, "I'll race you."

Doyle licked his upper lip. It was maddening. Maddening. The moment's clarity vanished. He turned his head towards

the chain, his sweating fingers fumbling with the release catch on the thin, flat link. His jeans and underpants were being pulled down over his hips, cool air brushing over his crotch. He struggled with the link, his thumb slipping against the catch. Almost, almost. Bodie's breath blew warm against his cock. Fingers gripped the base of his erection. Doyle pulled against the chain, needing it taut to push the open link through the one above. Just another second or two, that was all, then he'd have it...he'd be loose...free.

His cock was sucked deep into Bodie's mouth. The chain jangled as his whole body jerked with the sensation, his fingers flexing in reaction, the escape link slipping away, snapping shut again.

Lost. I lost...I'm...lost. It was his last coherent thought. His head fell back, eyes closing, lips forming a silent "ohh" as Bodie's tongue swirled over his sex, mouth pumping him in a quickening rhythm. One hand massaged the base of his cock, the other hand rubbed his balls, fingernails lightly scratching over sensitized skin.

Doyle lowered his head, heart thudding, eyes focusing on the man kneeling before him. The dark head bobbed. He watched his cock sliding in and out of Bodie's mouth. Felt every inch of his skin tingle, fiery sensation shooting through his groin. Bodie's hands left him, only his mouth paying homage. In and out, in and out, an old, old ritual. Primal, powerful.

He heard a zip lowered. Bodie freed his own erection, began stroking it from tip to base and then he raised a hand and circled the root of Doyle's sex again, squeezing it as his mouth released it for a moment, only tongue tip returning to lick the glistening slit and tease along the underside of his cockhead.

Doyle hissed through his teeth, his arms straining mindlessly at the cuffs around his wrists. His hips began to move, pushing forward strongly, wanting Bodie's mouth again.

Bodie's hands clamped over his hipbones, forcing him to hold still. Mouth glistening with saliva, his pale face high with excitement, Bodie looked up at him. Doyle whimpered and gazed into the blue eyes. "Don't stop, Bodie. Don't."

"You'll come in my mouth this time, Ray," Bodie told him, his voice husky, breathless, but clear.

"Yeh, whatever you want, just do it! Bodie, do it," answered Doyle in a rush, blood and desire pounding through him.

Bodie smiled and took Doyle's cock full into his mouth.

With just a few more thrusts and his exultant cry filling the room, Doyle came. A little later, he thought he heard a long, lush moan as his cock slipped from Bodie's mouth. He wasn't really sure, his brain muzzy, his body still trembling with reaction as his heartbeat worked its way down to normal. "B-Bodie?" He blinked away fading stars and gazed down at the bowed head.

Bodie was weaving slightly back and forth, fumbling one- handed at his pants and zip. He rose unsteadily, his other hand raised, palm open...glistening with semen. Bodie was staring at the evidence of his own orgasm as if was somehow mysteriously fascinating.


His partner met his look, then shook his head solemnly. "That's five times total, and still only once in a bed." Then he glanced back at his hand, corners of his mouth lifting. "Wouldn't have a handkerchief on you, would you?"

Doyle grinned wryly. "Sorry, I'm a bit tied up at the moment." He threw up his still-cuffed hands, suddenly aware of the cool air on his exposed groin, chest. He began to fiddle with the escape link on his chain when Bodie reached over and unhinged the locking latch.

Doyle's right wrist slipped free of the open cuff and he reached out, drawing Bodie close with a hand around the strong neck. He leaned forward and slowly kissed the tender looking mouth, feeling a satisfaction spreading through him that had nothing to do with sexual gratification.

"Hoi, Bodie! Doyle! Where are you?!"

The voice froze them both where they stood. A split-second later, they were frantically pulling their clothes together, Doyle hurriedly reaching to unlatch his other cuff at the same time.

"3/7, 4/5! Where the hell are you?" The voice sounded louder. Nearer.

Cursing, Bodie wiped his hand on the back of his black polo. Doyle, free of the cuffs, was still trying to pull up his pants.

They heard footsteps coming down the stairs. "Doyle, Bodie? You down there?"

Doyle's shirt was still flung open as he struggled to get back into his tight jeans. And then the zipper stuck. With a quick look at Doyle's panicked expression, Bodie raced out of the room towards the stairs. "Yeh, Pennington, we're down here. So where's the fire? And put that damn gun away."

Doyle marvelled at his partner's casual, if slightly breathless, tone. It sounded like Bodie had stalled their fellow agent on the stairs. He could hear their voices as he continued to fight with the stubborn zip.

"Why didn't you answer your RT?!" Pennington was asking, with obvious irritation.

Doyle gritted his teeth, the image of Bodie's RT, laying ever so uselessly in the middle of Loder's kitchen table, rising before his eyes. Stupid. They should have remembered to carry it with them.

"Didn't hear it," replied Bodie curtly. "What's happened? How'd you get in?"

"Bloody doorbell doesn't work. I was knocking for five minutes. You both gone deaf or what?"

Doyle winced as the zip finally moved, nipping him in the process.

"We were checking out the basement, Pennington. Walls are thick down there."

Doyle stuffed his shirt into his pants. Oh yeh, could've fired a fuckin' cannon and we wouldn't have heard you. He ran his fingers through his sweat-dampened curls, threw a disgusted look at the room, sucked in a deep breath and walked out into the hallway.

"So, how'd you get in then?" Bodie repeated, his eyes darting towards Doyle as he appeared.

"Didn't know what was wrong, now did I?" replied Pennington, acknowledging Doyle's presence with a lift of his chin. "Thought something might've happened to you so I looked round a bit, found a broken window in the back and came in." Pennington holstered his automatic and eyed the rooms behind Doyle. "That the, uh, room with the bondage stuff in it that Murph mentioned?"

"Yeh. Why were you trying to reach us, Pennington?" Anger seeped into Doyle's voice, making the words sound brusque and pointed.

Pennington stiffened, his gaze snapping back to Doyle's face. "Uh, HQ called. Loder's body washed up just downstream of Blackwall Tunnel. Murphy's on the scene with the lab boys. Cowley's called a briefing for 8am sharp. He's not at all happy, so I heard. You're to finish up your report and have it ready for the briefing."

"Damn, back to square one again," grumbled Doyle.

Bodie was already heading up the stairs, Doyle following on his heels, leaving Pennington no choice but to follow as he gave the rooms below one last, curious glance.

They told Pennington to leave and stayed behind long enough to gather their jackets, Bodie's RT, and to put up a makeshift barrier across the broken back window.

On their way out, Doyle stopped to try the front doorbell. A very faint buzzing was all they heard. "What fucking, lousy luck." He pushed Bodie back inside and closed the door again.

Bodie looked at him questioningly. "What?"

"If it had been Murphy or Anson or Jax or..." Doyle threw a hand up. "Or anybody but Pennington, they would have found us in that room. Me chained up like some s/m freak and you on your knees with my cock in your mouth."

Bodie shrugged. "Yeh, well, Pennington should have come in quiet and quick if he suspected something was wrong. But then, that's why he's in the B Squad. Dumb sod."

Doyle rolled his eyes and began pacing in front of his partner. "For god's sakes, Bodie, we came that close to losing everything. If Pennington had caught us together like that, he would've had it all over CI5 by morning and Cowley would've had us thrown out on our arses by noontime."

"Pennington couldn't sneak up on a blind, deaf-mute."

Doyle stopped in mid stride and glared. "He was close enough! Don't you get it, Bodie? We're bloody losing control. We're taking crazy chances." He brushed a hand over his forehead and through his curls. "If we don't stop acting like a couple of dogs in heat, we're gonna ruin everything we've got."

"We won't get caught," replied Bodie quietly.

But Doyle was shaking his head, raking his lower lip between his teeth. The seconds ticked by. Finally, he looked into the blue eyes. "It's getting way out of hand. We just can't let it, Bodie."

His partner drew in a breath. "You want to stop? Is that it?"

Doyle looked away, his shoulders sagging, the truth weighing him down. "No." He turned back in time to catch Bodie's smile before it vanished. "You're a mad bastard, you know that, don't you? You're enjoying all of this."

"Being with you like...that. Damn right," acknowledged the other man.

"No, it's not just...that. It's flaunting it, risking it. And I'm going along with it, easy as you please." Doyle shook his head again. "You, you don't have any common sense anyway. But me, me, I know better. I should know better. I don't even understand how we let this happen in the first place, let alone how we've gotten so carried away with...with...everything. We can't even manage illicit sex discreetly!" He blew out a breath in exasperation.

"You know what the object of desire is, Ray?"

Doyle frowned and threw his partner a puzzled look.

Bodie leaned against the door, hands stuffed in the pockets of his leather jacket. "Never quite getting enough. Ever. To be self-perpetuating, that's the object of desire. If it's ever completely satisfied, it's gone. Dead."

Doyle's frown deepened.

"You like having sex with me. I'm quite a thrill for you."

That brought Doyle's chin up. "Modest by half, that's what you are, Bodie."

"Look, it's the same for me. We're just having an unexpected encounter with desire, that's all. You'll get over it soon enough and move on to somebody else."

"I'm not Joey Morgan. We're not talking the latest flavour

in s/m masters here."

"Oh yeh, you're different, true enough. A genuine original. But even when you say it means something to you, it doesn't work. Like Ann."

More confused and vaguely insulted, Doyle could only stare for a moment. "What's that got to do with anything? I loved Ann. It didn't work out because she walked out on me."

"Yeh, I suppose I should be relieved that I fall into another category, seeing as how that turned out."

Doyle's expression hardened, a sudden defensiveness wrapping around him. "You and me...it's not the same thing. How could it be?! And you have the nerve to talk anyhow. How about you? How many serious relationships have you had, eh?"

"Never wanted any. I stumbled into a couple because I was too young and too stupid to know any better. Now I know better. They never work."

"Then I guess this," Doyle waved a arm between them. "This is just perfect for you then. Yeh, get your rocks off and your adrenaline high all at the same time. Very convenient. Sex on the edge. Daring the world to catch you at it. Yeh. That's probably what got you into all that kinky s/m stuff in the SAS. The excitement. Wasn't it?"

"Mostly," admitted Bodie. "But it faded quick enough."

"And that's what you think is going to happen to us, right, assuming we're not caught out first? Just burn ourselves out like a cheap candle."

Bodie's lips tightened before he finally lowered his gaze. "Always happens that way, doesn't it?"

Doyle looked away, too, considering the possibilities. "And what if it doesn't?"

"Nah, temporary case of the hots, that's all it is. Besides, I have every faith in you."

Doyle's eyes narrowed. "Meaning?"

"Nothing. Neither of us is any good at keeping anything like this going. Or wanting to, for that matter." Bodie reached for the door handle. "Why the hell are we talking about it anyway? What's the point?" He threw open the door and marched out.

They were talking more than he'd ever wanted, that was true enough, thought Doyle. Too bad none of it was making any sense, or at least, not enough. It was like finding a hole in the ground and peering into it, only to discover a cavern full of dark and mysterious corners. It was difficult to decide where to shine a torch first. But pointless? Not by a long way, he decided.

Doyle waited until they were in the Capri and on their way to his flat.

"Whoever snuffed Loder must be bigger and tougher than we thought," Bodie was saying. "Loder was our only lead to him, or them. They knew that Loder's student bomber couldn't identify them. Once we got onto Loder's trail, he became expendable. I wonder if he knew it? He probably went right to them, hoping they'd help him get away."

"Oh, they helped him all right," replied Doyle. "Can't get further away than he's gone."

"No honor among thieves." Bodie stopped at a red light and gave him a quick wink. "Nice to be on the side of the angels, innit?"

Doyle wagged his eyebrows heavenward. "Thought you didn't believe in that sort of thing."

"Figuratively speaking...for christssake."

Doyle smothered a grin. He was suddenly reminded of the breaks between rounds of a boxing match. He let his smile blossom. "Yeh, know what you mean. Nice to be able to tell the good guys from the bad guys and know you're one of the good guys. Don't like it when it gets all murky."

Bodie nodded as he put the car into gear and shot passed a slow moving lorry. "Take advantage of the clear patches while you have them. They don't come too often."

"CI5 is the clear patch for me, Bodie. I don't want to fuck it up. Me and you, now that's where it's getting murky."

Bodie's fingers tightened on the steering wheel. "Not more talk."

"You're the one who said we have things to sort out," Doyle reminded him. "I think we better talk before Cowley catches us screwing in the briefing room."

Bodie waved a dismissive hand.

"No, it's not ridiculous," snapped Doyle. "After today, I wouldn't be surprised if we tried it on in the middle of Piccadilly Circus."

"That place, who'd notice?" smirked Bodie.

Doyle took careful rein of his temper. "You can't be so thick that you can't see we have a problem?"

"I consider it a pleasure, not a problem."

"Why are you being deliberately dense?"

Bodie took a left turn and accelerated down the near empty road with a screech of tyres and a grin on his face.

Bracing himself with a hand on the dashboard, Doyle gave a long-suffering sigh.

"We have to do it in a bed."

Distracted with the thought of whether or not they would reach his flat in one piece, it took a moment for Bodie's quiet statement to register. "Wh--bed?"

"Regular-like. Set up a schedule or something. Should ease the tension, you know." Bodie sent the Capri flying round another turn with no more than two of the tyres touching the road.

"Slow down, you maniac!"

With a disgruntled mutter, Bodie slowed to within reach of the speed limit.

Doyle eyed his partner warily. "Now what's this about a schedule? That army training really made its mark on you, did it? We should set aside 45 minutes every alternating Tuesday from 8.15 to 9.00pm, something like that?"

"Look, you say you're worried that we'll be shagging each other in the hallowed corridors of CI5. Well, I'm offering a practical solution, that's all. Knowing we had a set time and place might take the edge off. Wouldn't have to catch as catch can, as they say. Seems reasonable to me."

Doyle didn't even notice the stop sign as they sped by it. He was too busy staring at his partner's face. "I don't believe it. Are we that far gone?"

Bodie glanced at him out of the corner of his eye. "A bed's more comfy. We wouldn't want to get housemaid's knees from all that kneeling, now do we, Raymond?" The streetlamps threw Bodie's profile into a strobing image as the Capri raced passed them. Light and shadow, light and shadow.

Doyle was tempted to laugh. He could almost feel it bubbling up through his chest, quirking his lips upwards. Bodie's humour was black most times and inappropriate the rest, and yet Doyle succumbed to it far too often just the same. "Did it occur to you, mate, that we have no schedule?"

" 'S not true. Oh, well, yeh, we've got odd hours, but we usually manage to get to our flats for the night, or day, depending on our shift. So, instead of going our separate ways, we agree to take turns staying at each other's place. Regular."

"You're actually serious."

Bodie glanced at him and nodded, his expression as somber as a banker's. "Worth a try, I think." A shrug. "For the duration."

Doyle shifted in his seat and watched the play of the streetlights across his partner's face. The clear, pale skin looked deceptively cold against the black of his clothes and the night outside. He suddenly wondered how long it would be before Bodie tired of it all and felt a knot tighten in the pit of his stomach. "What the hell, maybe it is. Okay," Doyle said finally, more than a little surprised at himself.

Their RT started beeping and Bodie reached for it, casting a smile over Doyle as he did so. Doyle couldn't help smiling back. Even Anson's irascible tone couldn't dim his strange sense of calm anticipation. At first.

"Cowley wants your report on Loder written up tonight and on his desk. He'll be coming in at 6 to go over all the files before the briefing."

Bodie pulled the Capri over and glared at the RT. "It's past one o'clock in the morning."

"Thank you, Big Ben," snapped Anson. "I'm aware of the time. I'm just giving you your orders. The two of you get in here and write up your damn report. If you haven't noticed, I'm still here, too, 3/7. That's it. Out."

"Fuckin' hell." Bodie slammed the RT down and turned to Doyle. "Do you believe that?"

"With Cowley? Of course. I'm surprised he's waiting until 6 to get started. The Old Man must be slowing down." Despite his sarcasm, Doyle wasn't any happier than Bodie. He pounded a fist against the car door. "Come on, turn this thing around and let's get back."

Bodie drove even faster to HQ, taking his frustration out on the road, and Doyle felt too irritated himself to mind it.

They finished the report in record time, but it still took them over an hour. Doyle was feeling exhausted and he noticed the fatigue on Bodie's face as well. The long day was finally catching up to them as they threw the typewritten report on Cowley's desk and marched wearily out of the building.

The drive back to Doyle's flat was at a sedately legal pace, a sure sign of how tired Bodie was and by the time the Capri stopped at his door, Doyle wanted nothing more than to catch a few hours of sleep. "Bodie, about the...schedule. How about we start tomorrow?"

"Fine with me." Bodie must have noticed the look of surprise on his partner's face because he managed a brief smile. "My polo is stuck to my back. I smell like the Gents in a sex club. I've got no clothes at your place and yours are too small for me. I need some sleep. So do you. I can be reasonable, you know."

Doyle remembered how Bodie hadn't taken off his leather jacket since they'd left Loder's flat. He couldn't help but grin. "Cum dries stiff, does it?"


Doyle sniffed at his own shirt and wrinkled his nose. "I don't smell like a rose garden either."

"I noticed."

Doyle opened his door. "Gosh, but you've a way with words."

"Silver tongue in more ways than one."

"True enough. We'll investigate the other ways in greater detail next time. Pick me up at 7?"

Bodie glanced at his watch, reached over and ruffled his hair. "Right, in about four hours." He chuckled at Doyle's grimace.

Still oddly reluctant to part, they exchanged a look of silent promise and then Doyle got out and watched the Capri accelerate into the distance.

He had just managed to throw off his jacket and holster, debating with himself if he could stay up long enough for a shower or if he should fall into bed, sweaty clothes and all when he heard the doorbell. A smile slowly lit his face as he sauntered back to the door.

Despite cum-stiffened clothes and lack of sleep, Bodie had changed his mind. The realization, rather than irritating him, filled Doyle with a sense of forgiving indulgence.

"Couldn't live without--" he began, pulling open the door. The words died in his mouth with his smile as he found himself facing Joey Morgan's intensely curious stare.

"What the hell are you doing here?" he asked the boy.

"I followed you. I want to talk to you." Joey took a step towards him.

Doyle barred the way with his arm across the doorframe. "You followed me?"

Joey puffed out a breath as if it annoyed him to have to explain. "I went back to your office and waited outside."

Doyle blinked in amazement. "How long were you waiting?"

"When Bodie sent me home in the taxi, I just picked up my car and went back. I stayed out of sight, naturally. I told you I can wait forever for something. I'm well trained."

"Bodie told you to leave him alone."

Joey let out another sigh. "I wouldn't disobey him. I came to see you. When you both left your office together, I followed you. I thought..." His voice faltered. "Can't I come inside?"

Doyle gritted his teeth but allowed the boy in. CI5's best team was definitely operating below par if a kid like Morgan could manage to tail them without being spotted. "You thought what?" he prompted as soon as the door closed behind them.

"I thought Bodie was going to...stay here, that you lived together. I would've gone home then. But he left," he added, a note of confusion in his voice. "I don't understand." The boy turned and walked down the hall, peering into the rooms.

Doyle caught him by the elbow and swung him around just as he entered the bedroom. He grabbed the boy by both shoulders and shook him hard. "Loder's dead. His body washed up on the river bank." He watched Joey's face. There was a moment's surprise.

"Did Bodie kill him?"


Joey glanced at Doyle's hands on his shoulders and then into Doyle's eyes. "I don't really care, you know. I told you that before."

If the boy was lying, he was exceptionally good at it. Doyle released his hold and stepped back. "Why did you ask if Bodie killed him?"

Joey shrugged. "Would be cool, one master killing another." His hazel eyes flared with excitement.

"It's not a game." Doyle felt the long day weighing him down, and Morgan's unexpected appearance and disturbing responses added to his fatigue. "Just be glad I'm not having you thrown in the nick. It'd be a rude awakening for you. Now, take your fantasies somewhere else." He grabbed the collar of Joey's denim jacket and began pushing him towards the door.

With surprising agility, the boy twisted out of his grip and ran into the lounge. Doyle shook his head wearily and followed, relishing the prospect of throwing Morgan out with no restraint. He was only glad he was due to move to a new flat in a couple of weeks. Finding the kid camped indefinitely on his doorstep was a dismal prospect at best.

Joey was standing by the sofa with Doyle's Browning in his hand, the now empty holster still on the coffee table where Doyle had left it. "This feels really good," the boy told him, lifting the gun with both arms, pointing it straight at Doyle's chest. His fingers fumbled over the safety, flipping it off. "Now it'll shoot, won't it? I know you're supposed to take the safety switch off, right?"

Fear fueling a rush of adrenaline, Doyle took a cautious step towards Morgan. "You're going to be in a lot of trouble if you don't put that gun down right now."

The kid held the gun steady and smiled. "I don't take orders from you. I'll put it down when I feel like it. Maybe I'll shoot you first." He giggled like a child with a new toy.

Doyle watched Joey's expression, gauging distance and considering alternatives. It was often more risky to face someone who didn't know how to use a gun than a pro. If the person happened to be ever so slightly unbalanced as well, it made the situation even more dangerous.

How could he have let it get this far? Letting a crazy kid get hold of his gun right in his own bloody living room. He'd never live it down, assuming Joey didn't blow his head off first, by accident or intent. Doyle raked his lip and slowly crossed his arms over his chest in a relaxed, easy move. He decided to play the boy's fantasies against him. "Bodie would be very unhappy and very upset if you hurt me."

For the first time, he saw a frown crease Joey's forehead. "Who's to say he'd ever find out?"

It was Doyle's turn to laugh as he embellished the point. "Oh, Bodie would find out all right. You wouldn't be able to find a place far enough away to hide from Bodie. He'd hunt you down like an animal. And then he'd make you wish you were never born. Very single-minded and very capable, is my Bodie."

The possessive phrase brought a flash of anger into Joey's eyes, his fingers tightening around the trigger. "How did you make him want you? How?!" His voice rose, shouting the question.

Doyle let the humour slide from his face. The gun was trembling slightly in Morgan's hands, but remained pointed at his heart. Just a little more pressure and Doyle knew he could be a dead man. The boy wanted his question answered. So Doyle responded with what truth he knew. "I'm his friend. We're friends. I don't think either of us meant for anything to happen, Joey."

"Why isn't he here with you?!"

Puzzled by the unfathomable direction of the kid's thoughts, Doyle spread his arms in a questioning gesture. "Why should he be?"

"See! It doesn't make any sense!" The gun's aim moved from Doyle's chest to his head and back again. "With a master, it's all clear. Knowing what to expect on both sides. When it starts, when it's over. All the rules, all the...limits." His next words spilled out reluctantly, grudgingly. "I saw the look on his face. On your face. When he kissed you. When he was holding you. No one's ever looked at me like that. It was more than just...desire. There was...everything in it."

Doyle's mouth fell open, the words jolting him.

"God, don't you even know it?!" Joey's eyes were searching him as if he was something alien and slightly repulsive.

Doyle managed to swallow, forcing himself to focus on the gun in Morgan's hand. He took another slow step forward. "What's between Bodie and me is none of your business."

Joey frowned again, chewing his lip nervously, his gaze dropping down to the Browning as he lowered it just a little.

Taking his chance, Doyle leaped towards the boy, grabbing his wrists and shoving the gun barrel all the way towards the floor. Stunned, Joey struggled wildly, pushing against Doyle. The gun went off, the bullet smashing through the glass top of the coffee table, sending glittering shards spraying across the room.

Joey seemed to freeze, wide-eyed, staring at the shattered tabletop and it's empty wood frame. "Fucking damn," he whispered, suddenly wincing as he felt the cuts on the back of one hand, blood smearing his skin.

Doyle ripped the Browning from the boy's unresisting fingers and flipped the safety on. "You stupid bastard! You're lucky you didn't blow your foot off."

Still staring at the ravaged table, Morgan murmured, "I think you've got a hole in your floor. I wonder how deep it goes." He seemed fascinated by the damage, idly wiping the shallow cuts on the sleeve of his denim jacket. "I could've done that to your chest." Slowly, he turned to look at Doyle, and at the gun in the agent's hand. "You're not going to shoot me, are you? I only wanted to scare you a bit. Anyway, you left it on the table."

Doyle drew in a breath and picked up his holster, slipping the weapon into it's leather sheath. "It'd serve you right if I did." He felt a sharp pain along his jaw and reached up to feel the long, thin bleeding cut. There were tiny bits of glass on his jeans and a small shard embedded in his shirt near his ribs. He plucked it out, feeling the point grazing his skin. "Damn it." Glass crunched under his trainers as he stepped back. He noticed small fragments of glass clinging to Joey's jacket. He considered making the boy pick up every shard with his bare hands, but all he wanted was to be rid of him. He could bring Morgan in and have him locked up, but that would only lengthen the already interminable night. Despite that, Doyle found his curiosity rising, even through his fatigue.

"All right, why did you want to see me, Joey? Why?" He wasn't really expecting a reasonable answer from the boy, but he couldn't keep himself from asking.

Morgan hesitated for a moment, then brushed away a few bits of glass from his jacket with his sleeve. "Just wanted to see you up close. Didn't pay any attention to you before." He stepped gingerly around the glass-strewn tableframe. "Bodie looks like he'd be the perfect Master. Powerful. Beautiful." The boy tilted his head, contemplating Doyle's face. "But he's not a master to you at all, and I guess he thinks you're beautiful. I just wanted to see you up close."

Doyle shifted, uncomfortable under the scrutiny and even more uncomfortable with the boy's reply. "All right, then, you've had your look." He jerked his head towards the door. "Now I'm throwing you out and if I ever see you again, you'll be very sorry. And I won't need Bodie's help either. Understand?" He took a step towards Joey, shoving aside a few larger pieces of glass with his shoe. "Consider yourself very fortunate tonight."

Joey nodded warily and headed for the door, glancing back at the agent as he did so. When they reached the door, Doyle grabbed the handle and threw it open, half pushing the boy out and down the three steps to the pavement.

The wind was picking up and the night sky was starless, shrouded in clouds. Joey started walking away, then stopped, looking at Doyle over his shoulder. His voice had a slight quiver to it when he spoke. "You're the lucky one, don't you know?" Then he turned his back, dug his hands into his pockets and kept on walking.

Doyle watched the slim figure until he got into an old Cortina parked down the road. After a few moments, the car sputtered to life and slowly moved into traffic, disappearing into the night.

After several minutes, suddenly aware of the cold seeping through his thin shirt, he walked back into his flat, securing the locks. He went into the bathroom and stopped in front of the mirror. He looked awful: the cut along his jaw was about three inches long, the blood already drying. His beard shadow matched the dark circles under his bloodshot eyes, and his broken cheekbone looked more prominent, as it always did when he was very tired. His skin seemed to have a sallow tinge and his hair was wildly disheveled, curls flopping limply across his forehead.

'I guess he thinks you're beautiful.' Doyle heard the words in his mind and swallowed back a surge of emotion. He shut his eyes and ran both hands through his tangled hair, feeling it pull through his fingers. Straightening, he took a deep breath and gazed again at his reflection. Did Bodie really feel that way about him? Unbidden, his brain supplied an old cliche: love is blind.

"My god," he said aloud, gripping the sink's porcelain rim with his fingers. What was most shocking about the thought was that he had lately feared that his own feelings about their relationship might run deeper than Bodie's. Yet, everything that Joey Morgan had said felt...true to Doyle. Crazy perhaps, but true nonetheless. It meant that they both felt much the same towards each other. Which meant...

Doyle let the thought hang incomplete in his mind and shook his head. He was exhausted, but he didn't think he'd be able to sleep now. He glanced at his watch. Half past three. He'd deal with practical details first, he told himself. He'd clean up the mess in the lounge, then have a shower and find a bandage for his cut, then he'd need a strong pot of coffee.

There were matters to consider before Bodie arrived in the morning, his brain already examining and dissecting their partnership, focusing on the recent changes in a way he hadn't let himself do before.

He had been right about one thing. What he had with Bodie was different from what he had had with Ann. His relationship with Ann had been immediate and simple. It hadn't been difficult to look back and understand what had worked for and against it. What he had with Bodie was complex, ironically making it harder to see why it could succeed. They had moved from friendship to intimacy in an almost seamless way, like turning a corner on a long journey.

He and Ann had never been friends.

Now, desire was there between him and Bodie. But then again, so was everything else. That was the real difference. It was something that Bodie didn't seem able to realize...or believe. Doyle was just beginning to acknowledge it himself.

His doorbell rang at ten to seven. Lying on his bed, Doyle discovered he must have dozed off for a few minutes. Finally. He picked up his gun from the pillow beside him and dragged on his boots as he heard the bell sound again.

As he passed his bedroom mirror, he gave himself a glance. Well, at least he was clean, shaved and marginally presentable. Adjusting his holster, he smoothed his white sweater down with his palms and pushed up the sleeves.

The bell rang yet again. "Keep your hair on, I'm coming," he shouted.

He opened the door to admit his partner and mentally counted off the seconds. Bodie stared at his face and frowned. "What the hell happened to you?"

With hardly more than three hours sleep, Bodie still looked refreshed and rested. His neatly ironed burgundy shirt and dark cords were topped with a fitted, brown suede jacket.

"C'mon through to the kitchen and have a coffee." Ignoring his partner's question for the moment, Doyle waved him inside.

"Didn't you take a kip?" Bodie asked him, halting abruptly as they passed the lounge and giving the coffee table a double take.

"What happened to your table?" he asked.

"Broke it," replied Doyle. As Bodie's eyes narrowed suspiciously, he raised a hand to ward off yet another question. "It was an accident." He touched a fingertip to his bandage. "This was an accident, too. And no, I didn't get much sleep."

"Isn't that the rug from your bedroom?" continued Bodie, spying the small persian rug beneath the table that Doyle had brought out to cover the bullet hole.

"Looks better in the lounge," returned Doyle shortly. As Bodie took a step towards the table, Doyle grabbed him by the arm and steered him towards the kitchen. "It's not important. I'll share my decorating secrets with you later, okay? Right now, I want another coffee."

The coffee pot was still half full and hot on the warmer. Doyle emptied a mug of cold coffee into the sink and handed Bodie a clean one from the shelf.

"Been drinking this stuff all night and dancing on the table, have you?" asked Bodie as he watched Doyle fill their mugs.

"Not exactly. Was as tired as you, but I couldn't sleep. Had a lot of thinking to do."

Bodie winced and shook his head. "Ah, now Ray, you know that's bad for you. Makes your hair curl."

Doyle ignored the sarcasm and waited until Bodie had stirred in his milk and sugar.

"If someone was to, say, maim, torture, or um, shoot me dead, would you find them and kill them for me?" he asked casually.

Bodie finished a sip of coffee. "Sure. Do you have any toast?"

Doyle grinned and grabbed a loaf of sliced bread from the fridge. He may have exaggerated a little, but what he had said to Joey was true. As glib and off-handed as Bodie's reply had been, Doyle knew he meant it. For his partner, such a question was unnecessary, the answer already a given. He put two slices into the toaster. "Butter or jam?"

"What kind of jam?"


"Both." Bodie looked at his watch. "We're going to be late if we don't hop it in the next couple of minutes."

"With the way you drive, I doubt it." They drank their coffee, Doyle observing his friend with new eyes. The toast popped up and Doyle spread butter and jam on both pieces, handing one to Bodie as he crunched on the other. "So," he began, pausing to catch a dollop of strawberry with his tongue as it slithered across his lip. "About the schedule. I've been thinking--"

Bodie's face appeared to lose all expression. "Changed your mind, have you?" he asked softly.

Doyle stared into the shuttered blue eyes and felt a sudden warmth spread through his chest. He was beginning to notice a lot of things he never did before. "Don't be daft. No, just thought you should stash a holdall here. You know, shaving kit, toothbrush, spare change of clothes, underpants. And I could keep one at your place." He watched as the light returned to Bodie's eyes, though his expression never altered.

His partner seemed to remember the slice of cooling toast in his hand and began munching it quickly. "Sounds like a very practical idea," he answered at last.

Doyle nodded with satisfaction. "Yeh, very...practical."

"Good toast," added Bodie with a hint of a smile, finishing it off.

Doyle drank the remainder of his coffee and returned the smile. "We better get going."

They set their mugs on the counter and then Doyle put an arm around Bodie's waist. "Just one more thing."

In his turn, Bodie reached out and ran his thumb very gently over the bandage along Doyle's jaw.

Doyle pulled them together and kissed Bodie on the mouth, tasting strawberry and coffee. "How long do you give us?"

A dark eyebrow arched at him.

"Our cheap candle, how long would you say we've got--a few weeks, six months, a year, what?"

Obviously remembering the analogy, Bodie's lips tightened for a moment. "Dunno, just play it by ear, shall we? Tell you what, you can let me know when you want to call it quits."

"Oh? And then what?"

Bodie drew in a breath and let it go. "Then we stop."

"And what if you lose the hots for me first?" Doyle caught the split second of disbelief in Bodie's face only because he had been watching for it. He felt Bodie's arms tighten around his shoulders.

"I'll let you call it."

"Bit of a sacrifice on your part, mate. I could want to make it with you for years after you'd gone off me."

Bodie only smirked, the expression enough to convince Doyle of his friend's assessment of that possibility. It was also clear to him that no amount of talk was going to make Bodie believe that what they had could last. Or, more to the point, that Doyle would want it to last. It wasn't, after all, a notion that Doyle had allowed himself to consider before. Much as he hated to admit it, he owed a debt of gratitude to a boy in chains for making him see himself, and Bodie, with new insight.

He tightened his own hold around Bodie's waist and kissed him again. He felt the familiar tingle of desire under his skin, buzzing through his nerves, but now he sensed the depth of it and the other emotions that meshed with it so easily, almost invisibly. Fueling one other, fanning the fire instead of smothering it.

He looked forward to the day when Bodie would finally recognize it, too.

They slowly pulled apart from each other without quite letting go. "You know, Bodie, I feel wide awake right now, like I could take on the whole world."

"Yeh, and as soon as you sit down in the briefing room, you'll turn into Sleeping Beauty."

Doyle chuckled and took a step back, releasing Bodie completely. Speaking of beauty, he thought suddenly, damn all if Bodie didn't look rather gorgeous himself. He chuckled again. "You'll just have to poke me in the ribs if I start to snore," he said aloud.

Bodie rolled his eyes but nodded, then started for the door, only to have Doyle pull him back again. "Christ, Ray, we won't get there before the next leap year at this rate. What is it now?"

Doyle solemnly held out his hand. "I agree to your terms."

"What in the--"

"You said it'd be my call, right? You said you'd wait until

I decide to call it quits." Doyle held his breath until Bodie reluctantly nodded agreement. "Okay, then it's a deal, let's shake on it." He gazed pointedly at his hand. "Well?"

Slowly and with a small worried frown on his face, Bodie raised his hand and took Doyle's in a firm handshake. Satisfied, Doyle grabbed his leather jacket from the back of a chair, shrugged into it and led the way to the door.

As they walked out into the morning sun, Doyle smiled to himself.

Bodie would be waiting a very, very long time.

-- THE END --

Originally published in D-Notice, Katherine Scarritt, 1995

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