The Path Not Taken


Disclaimer: This story is not meant to infringe on the copyrights held by anyone having anything to do with THE PROFESSIONALS. No one is making a profit and I promise the ALL characters feel better when I'm done with them.

Thanks to my editors Dana Jeanne and Joey for all their support.

Note: In this story, Doyle never left the Met for CI5.

Smoke hung thick in the humid air, and the driving rhythm of the dance beat vibrated through the floor. Ray Doyle, Detective Chief Inspector at Scotland Yard, leaned casually against the wall of one of London's most notorious gay pubs, trying to look as though he knew what he was about. As a long time copper, this wasn't his first time in a gay pub, but it was the first time he'd been there as a patron, or what he hoped passed for one. A series of murders of high-level, older gay men had prompted him to try this angle to ferret out some information about the killer, and perhaps, set himself up as bait.

Pushing himself off the wall, he made his way to the bar, ordering another tonic water. What he actually fancied was a couple of scotches to loosen his inhibitions, but that was out of the question when he was working. While he had no prejudices, he was woefully ill-at-ease in this environment, the press of so many bodies, being groped in the crowds and the loud music. He'd much prefer a quieter atmosphere, not that anything was going to make this any easier.

Walking around, he smiled back at the men who smiled at him, trying to look, if not interested, then not uncomfortable either. But he was. How could he not be? He was straight.

At least that was what he'd been telling himself since adolescence. To the world at large, it was true. He'd never done anything with a man, never even came close. But he'd thought about it, fantasised about it... Still, the reality of his life as a copper made acting on whatever inclinations he had impossible, especially when he was young.

Besides which, he'd never met a man who could possibly mean more to him than the life he'd grown accustomed to. And at 45, he thought himself more than safe in assuming it wasn't going to happen.

Bloody Hell. He spotted William Bodie, CI5's deputy-controller, looking right at him. From somewhere, he dredged up a smile. It was a fairly well known secret--in Whitehall circles anyway, that Mr Bodie was bisexual. He'd never made any excuses for what he was and with George Cowley as his mentor, he didn't have to. When Bodie wasn't being a horse's arse, Doyle admired him for his attitude. Unfortunately he was an arse much of the time, and a bad mannered one at that.

Years ago, George Cowley had offered Doyle a job, and he sometimes wondered what would have happened if he'd taken the offer and moved to CI5 instead of staying with the police. At the time, he'd not been at all sure he could have put his beliefs aside to have worked with that mob, even for the greater good.

Shaking his head, he sighed. No use worrying about it now, he still didn't approve of their means and methods, even if they did get the job done. In his book, the ends did not always justify the means.

"Doyle," Bodie said with a predatory smile that annoyed Ray no end. Who did he think he was anyway?

"Bodie." Ray mimicked his tone exactly and could see the annoyance in the blue eyes.

"What are you doing here?"

What did the twit think he was doing here? "Would have thought that was obvious, even to you."

"Last I heard you were straight." The blue eyes bored into him, demanding an answer.

Doyle glared right back, trying not to be impressed that Bodie didn't back down from his stare. There weren't many men who could meet his gaze for any length of time. "Maybe you don't hear everything."

"Maybe I don't." Bodie stepped a little closer, his hand touching Ray's waist gently. "Fancy a dance?"

Ray had to fight the urge to back up as his personal space was invaded by the very imposing Bodie. That infuriated him. No one made him uncomfortable enough to give ground. No one. Calling Bodie's bluff, he smiled, not quite his best come hither look, but enough of an approximation and was pleased to see Bodie fall before it. "Yeah."

The hand on his waist tightened, drawing him nearer to Bodie. Ray could smell Bodie's expensive cologne combined with clean sweat, and the mixture was far too pleasant, making him want to step even closer and breathe deeply.

He was sorry he'd accepted the invitation to dance, but he couldn't get out of it now. Forcing himself to edge away slightly, he took Bodie's hand as if he knew what he was doing, leading the CI5 agent towards the floor. Dancing he could deal with, especially when they could do it without touching. He loved to dance to this type of music and knew his body looked good doing it.

Unfortunately, after one dance the music changed abruptly to something slow and sultry. The blues tune had a lot of sax, and low notes that seemed to resonate through the heavy air. Before he could mount a protest, he was drawn into Bodie's arms as if he belonged there. The close proximity was unnerving and he was afraid to explore the reasons for that too closely. Moving against the hot sweaty body, Doyle seethed with annoyance at both his reaction and Bodie's attitude.

He tried to tell himself he didn't care to be this close to anyone, especially not Bodie, whom he could not stand under the best of circumstances, but some small unsilenced voice said he was lying. There was something distinctly exciting about being in his embrace, something sexy and forbidden, something Doyle found hard to ignore. That the big hands were moving along his back a little too freely did little to calm his growing unease. When those same hands settled hard on his arse, he was ready to clock the pushy sod.

"Get your damned hands off my arse," Doyle ground out through his teeth. He would have stepped back, but didn't want to look out of place or appear to be some kind of prima donna. Most of the couples on the dimly lit dance floor were groping happily.

"Don't like being touched, sunshine?"

"Not by you." It came out sounding like a child rather than the experienced man he was supposed to be. He changed tactics. "I thought you'd have some finesse, but obviously not." At least this time some of his very real distain came through.

"You only have to say what you prefer, sunshine." The hands still didn't move. Or rather they did, but not off his arse. The rough handling abruptly changed to a gentle caress. It felt far too good and Ray had to fight not to press into it. It had been too long since anyone had touched him so carefully.

The hands on his arse were suddenly removed and he was pushed away. "You don't belong here, Doyle. Go home."

It took a second to recover. "Who are you to say where I belong or not?"

"Spot you as straight from a mile away. So can every other man in the place. I know why you're here."


Bodie just laughed, pulling him closer again and for a moment, Doyle thought he might actually kiss him. Thankfully, he did not.

Releasing him, Bodie snarled again, "go home."

Ray felt like saying "make me", but that would have been childish in the extreme, not that Bodie's display of machismo wasn't. He just shook his head and walked off the dance floor.

It took two days before the repercussions hit. Bodie had obviously reported the incident to his boss, who took it to the minister, and then down to the head of CID at Scotland Yard. Doyle was ordered to report to Cowley for a briefing on the project they were now jointly involved in.

Pulling up in front of the nondescript grey building that housed CI5, Doyle took a deep breath to calm his temper before he got out of the car. He did not want to work with CI5, or Cowley, but he'd been given no choice.

They had been working on the murders separately, and Cowley had suggested if they worked together they might get more done. His boss had agreed. Doyle's wishes while listened to, were not taken into account at all. If he wanted to stay involved with this case--and he did--then it would have to be on Cowley's terms. The idea grated.

He presented himself to the guard and was told to sign in, before being escorted up to conference room, where Bodie and Cowley waited. They looked displeased at his slight tardiness. Too bad.

"Sit Doyle," Cowley said, with a wave of his hand to indicate the chair next to Bodie at the table.

Doing as he was told, Doyle sat with a thump. Damn, these plastic chairs were uncomfortable. He'd always heard CI5 had the most Spartan facilities of anyone in the special services because nearly their entire budget went into high tech toys and operations. If these chairs were any indication, he'd say they were right about the money going to something other than the furniture.

He looked up and met Cowley's eyes. As short as he was, the man was impressive with a personal aura that Doyle was forced to respect, if not like.

"We have been working at cross-purposes. We believe the way to draw this person out is to present a target too good for him to refuse. Two high-ranking men in law enforcement having an affair--a very public affair, would be just the kind of bait that we believe the murderer would find impossible to resist."

Public? Doyle swallowed. Did he honestly want to do that? Running through the other possibilities in his mind, he found that he was the only unmarried man any where near the top of Scotland Yard, no one else would be big enough to draw the killer out. The men murdered so far had been prominent figures in government and industry, men who were publicly out.

Doyle nodded. He'd do it because it had to be done and because he owed someone more than he could ever repay. "All right."

Cowley's sharp eyes pinned him to the wall. "Are you sure? Very sure? Be very sure, Mr Doyle. You won't get another chance to back out. After this, you will be labelled as gay, nothing you do will ever change that."

Doyle sighed. It wasn't as if there was anyone left who would care. His mum was years dead and his brother Frankie'd had a very colourful past before settling down to a respectable marriage. "I know. But there's no one else to do it."

"We can continue as we have before." Bodie, who had been silent since the briefing started finally spoke up.

"Which has gained us nothing." Doyle met the dark blue eyes defiantly.

"What are you going to do when we catch the guy? You'll still be thought of as gay."

"I'll know I'm not and that's all that matters. And if we get the guy--if it is a guy, then we can say it was all a ruse."

"Some people won't believe it." Bodie smiled, no doubt thinking he'd back down.

Doyle shrugged. He'd worry about that bridge when he came to it. "I don't care what people think of me. What's the plan?"

Cowley cleared his throat. "For you and Bodie to have a very public affair."

He'd figured out that much. "How do we play it?"

It was Bodie who answered. "We'll date. Go to popular gay clubs, dance, kiss, generally make a spectacle of ourselves."

"I wouldn't do that with a woman."

"You'll do it with Bodie. This must be in the public eye so that we draw the murderer out." Cowley looked at him again, as if waiting for him to refuse.

They didn't know him very well, that much was clear. "Fine. We'll have to spend nights at each other's flats, too."

Nodding, Cowley actually looked a bit pleased by the input. Bodie just looked disgusted. What was wrong with him anyway?

"We start tonight?" Doyle wasn't crazy about this whole concept, but it had to be done.

"Right." Bodie said, standing. He nodded to Cowley and then turned towards Doyle. "I'll pick you up at 9:00."

"Fine." Doyle stood as well, and moved toward the door.

"One more thing," Cowley said, looking right at him.

"Yes, sir?"

"You will have nothing to do with the current on-going investigation."

Doyle bristled at that and opened his mouth to argue. "But..."

Cowley cut him off without letting him get more than a word out. "I'll brook no disobedience on this."

Who the bloody hell did Cowley think he was? Doyle opened his mouth again, but one look at those light blue eyes made him think better of what he was going to say.

"I'm quite serious, Doyle. If there is any connection at all between you and this case, I'll bounce you back to the Yard so quickly you won't know what hit you." His tone softened just a bit. "That will compromise you faster than anything else. Stay away from this case."

"Yes, sir." Doyle nodded once. At least for now. He expected that it did make some small amount of sense. He turned and followed Bodie out.

As they moved into the corridor, Bodie smiled. "Cowley didn't think you'd agree to do it."

Ever so faintly, Doyle heard a note of respect in Bodie's tone. Favouring Bodie with a small smile, he nodded and surprised himself by telling the truth. "I'm not surprised. I wasn't sure I would either."

Bodie put a hand on his shoulder to stop him. "Why are you doing this at all? I can't fathom why a straight man would care to be labelled as gay, even for the job, as important as it is."

Doyle shrugged. "It has to be done. I have the means to do it. I'll survive."

"You're an odd one, aren't you?" But he said it with a grin.

"We all have our reasons." Doyle moved towards the lifts, just wanting to get away from Bodie. "Was there anything else you wanted?"

"No." Bodie turned down a hall and disappeared.

The pub was smoky and loud, music vibrating through the wooden floor and into Doyle's body. He wasn't sure he liked the sensation, but at least it meant he wasn't dancing too close to Bodie.

Even as he thought it, the music slowed, and he was tugged into Bodie's arms. He tried not to resist, but a few hours of dancing together hadn't made it any easier being in this man's arms.

"Ready for your first kiss?" Bodie's whisper was unpleasant, as if he thought Doyle would balk, despite the fact that he'd agreed to this bizarre scene.

"As ready as you, sunshine." He tried to match Bodie's tone, and the loud music covered his breathlessness at the prospect. Fear. That's all it was, and he knew it. Just fear of the unknown. Likely it wouldn't be too bad, unless Bodie tried to ground his mouth into...

He never got the chance to finish the thought as Bodie's mouth came down gently on his and his stomach dropped. It wasn't what he'd expected. It wasn't supposed to taste this good. It wasn't supposed to feel this soft or silky. And it definitely wasn't supposed to move him.

A small sound, something akin to a whimper rose up in him as the kiss continued.

Bodie chuckled, moving his mouth to a curl-covered ear, his tongue flicking out to lick the outer shell. "Didn't expect that."

"What?" Doyle asked, trying to hold back a shudder as his head spun out of control. The warm breath was sending shivers down his neck.

"You to kiss me back."

A thousand retorts ran through Doyle's mind. "What exactly did you expect? That I'd go screaming into the night?" He leaned in closer, as Bodie's tongue moved to his neck. He couldn't hold back the shudder. Undercover this might be, but it still felt damned real.

"Yeah. I did."

"Don't know me very well, do you?"

"Don't know you at all."

"True enough." Bodie did have a point. They knew of, rather than knowing, each other--associates after a fashion, but nothing more. Starting now, they were going to spend a lot of time together in the next few weeks, even months; maybe they'd come to at least appreciate, if not like, one another.

Bodie's arms slid around him and pulled him closer. Doyle went, leaning into the sweaty body, but not sure he was ready to kiss Bodie again. The first one hadn't quite played itself out on his senses yet. Leaning his head on the wide shoulder, Doyle just drifted to the music, trying hard not to think about the fact the arms holding him were stronger than his or the thighs pressing against his were wider and more muscular. And he really wasn't going to think about what else was pressing against his thigh, or that there might be an answering response within himself.

After an eternity, the music changed to a pounding beat and Doyle couldn't decide if he were disappointed or not.

The mission continued. Since he was supposed to be dating Bodie in his spare time, Doyle did real work in the office as well as at home. Out every night and then to work every morning exhausted him by the end of the second week. How long he could continue at this pace, Doyle didn't know. Probably as long as it took, but he had to have a night off.

A night away from Bodie, from trying not to respond to kisses that tasted far too sweet for his peace of mind, from hands that touched him in private places, publicly, from the pretense of falling in love when he wasn't. Picking up the phone, he dialled CI5's number.


"Doyle." He took a breath and ordered his thoughts. "I want a night off. Can I cancel on you tonight?"

"I'll come by and we can stay in."

"No, I want to be alone." He tried to keep the whine from his tone, but was not quite successful.

Not that Bodie noticed anyway. "Not yet. We should be seen together every day."

Doyle sighed, knowing the right of it even as he wished he'd never agreed to this scheme in the first place. "Fine."

It was better than going out for the thirteenth night in a row. And he grinned to himself, he could kick Bodie out at 10 p.m. and get a good nights sleep. That was a fine plan. Yeah, he liked the idea of a throwing Bodie out.

Dinner was takeaway from a local Indian place. They made small talk, going out of their way to not get up each other's nose. All in all, it was pleasant enough. Doyle was distracted, going over the case in his mind. He liked to chew on each detail until he was sure he hadn't missed something. As he finished clearing the dishes from the table, he glanced across the room at Bodie, ensconced on his sofa watching the telly, and probably more comfortable than he should have been.

Which would have annoyed Doyle, if he hadn't realised that was what they required. Of course. They had to look like they were more than comfortable with each other, like they were lovers, real lovers. Not this playing at dating in gay pubs, but settled men in a relationship. That's what the killer was looking for.

"Bodie," Doyle said, trying to contain his excitement at the break-through.

Looking up, Bodie raised an eyebrow at him. "What?"

"The way we're doing this, isn't going to work."

"I knew you were looking for a way out of this. It would have worked, Doyle. We're too high profile for it not to." Annoyance rang in every word he spat out. Bodie got to his feet, looking about for his coat. "If you wanted out, all you had to do is say. We'll find someone else."

If there was one thing he couldn't stand, it was being second-guessed. "You big, dumb arse. You haven't even heard me out and already you think I'm trying to quit."

Bodie stopped and turned to look at him, confusion on his face. "You just said it wasn't going to work."

"It's not. Not the way we've been approaching it. We should do this differently."

Dumping his jacket back on the sofa, Bodie crossed his arms over his chest and gave him a look of disbelief. "How else are we supposed to do it?"

"Think about it, Bodie. We're going to gay bars. Who populates gay bars?"

He shrugged. "Gay men?"

"That's it exactly. The men who've been murdered were not only out, they were in relationships--relationships that were in the public eye. Do you see what I'm saying?"

Contact. A light dawned in the blue eyes. "That we have to be out as well."

"Yes. That's what I mean. If we keep going to gay pubs and snogging, we're not going to attract the sort of people we're aiming for."

Bodie was silent for a moment, considering the idea. "You're right. We'll have to start being seen around town. Do you play cricket or squash?"

"Both. Where's your club membership?"

"London sports club, yours?"

"Sparks. Plus you can come to my gun club."

That got a grin. "You know how to shoot?"

"I'd match my shooting against yours any day."

"You're on." That smile was far too smug for Doyle's liking, but he knew he'd wipe it off Bodie's face once they started to shoot. He was Scotland Yard champion for the last six years and would have made the Olympic team if he hadn't been worried about the publicity it would cause him. "Tomorrow?"

"We may as well start as soon as we can. Then dinner at your local?"

"You paying?" Doyle gave him his best grin, not that he thought it would work the way it did on a bird, but it was worth a try.

"Why not? It will go on my expense chit anyway."

"I'll bet Cowley will love that."

"It is part of the assignment."

"True enough. One more thing." This had been bothering Doyle for some time. "I'm going to start calling you by your first name. Do you prefer William, or Bill or something else?"

The look of horror on Bodie's face amused Doyle no end, but his answer did not. "No."

"No? What do you mean no?" Why was Bodie so damned difficult?

"I mean, no one calls me anything other than Bodie or Mr Bodie. That's it."

Doyle gave him a disbelieving look. "Your lovers call you by your last name?"

"Damned straight."

"Maybe I'll change that. Calling you William when no one else calls you anything other than Bodie will create an intimacy between us that people will notice." And it would get up Bodie's nose. Two birds with one stone. Couldn't beat that.



"Because I said so." Bodie's glare was glacial.

For the first time Doyle could really see the killer in him. Doyle knew when to concede. "If you feel that strongly about it I won't do it, but think about it. It's an intimacy that no one else would have. It doesn't have to mean anything."

Bodie looked like he might say no again, but instead he nodded. "I'll think about it."

Pop. Pop. Pop. Pop. Pop. Pop. Doyle sent off six shots in rapid succession, hitting the target dead on. Bodie shook his head in quiet disbelief. He'd never seen anyone shoot as accurately as Doyle did, no one. Ever. Not even himself.

Against his will, something akin to admiration started to worm its way into him and he'd rather not have felt it. He scowled. Being impressed with Doyle was not on the list of things he had any interest in. At least not today.

This whole situation was getting out of hand, fast. He could deal with kissing the man in pubs and trying to attract the wrong kind of attention, but to actually spend real time with Doyle, to get to know him, could prove distinctly dangerous. But his instinct told him Doyle was right in this approach to the case. This was the way to find the person doing the killings.

Unfortunately, Doyle was too close to someone he could fall for, someone who could really mean something to him. Those cat-like eyes, murky green and tilted a little off balance did things to his equilibrium. Bodie shook his head again. Now he was getting sentimental about the bloke's eyes. Get a grip, he told himself.

But Doyle was a feast for the senses. Delicious did not even begin to describe him. Bodie knew that given half a chance he could make a meal of that lush body for days. And that mouth. He groaned, pulling his mind back from the thought of its shape and softness. This was not the time. No, he would not think about it now.

The attraction by itself was bad enough, but he sensed Doyle's awakening response to him and he feared that most of all. Doyle would want to explore it. Bodie knew it. Could tell from Doyle's tenacious nature that he'd want to make love. Not just have sex, not just get each other off, but make love. And Bodie could not do that. If he were to touch Doyle like that there would be no hope of him surviving this operation with his heart intact.

"Hey, mate," Doyle grinned at him. Bodie felt a little shiver of delight pinch him. "I think you promised me dinner.

Bodie nodded with a frown. " I expect that I did."

"You did." Doyle wiped down his gun and put it in its case. "And since I won, I choose."

Blinking at him, Bodie tried to hold back a smile. "Who said you won?"

Another smile, this one a bit more predatory, crossed Doyle's face. "No one had to, mate. I hit every shot dead on, you missed twice." He motioned with his head to follow him as he left the range.

Damn. Out of a couple of hundred rounds, he'd missed only twice, but trust Doyle to notice it. "Conceded." Bodie bowed a little. "Where do you want to go?"

He could see the gears turning in Doyle's mind and suddenly feared for CI5's budget, but was surprised when Doyle suggested a simple pub rather than a posh restaurant.

At his look, Doyle laughed. "Yeah, I would have chosen somewhere more expensive if you're actually going to pay for it. But since you are not..."

"Going to save CI5 some cash?" Bodie opened the door so they could exit the building.

"I'm nothing if not public-spirited."

Well Bodie expected that was more than true. He opened his car door and unlocked Doyle's side.

"Have to put this in the boot." Doyle held up the gun case.

Bodie popped the boot. "Aren't you licensed to carry?" Anyone that good should not have a problem with carrying a weapon.

Doyle put the case in the boot. "'Course I am, but mostly I don't. There's no point." Settling himself in the seat, Doyle buckled his belt and locked the door.

"There will be shortly."

Doyle sighed. "I expect you're right."

"You don't like it, though, do you?"

"No. I don't care for it. But I've gone armed before."

"I feel naked without it." Bodie pulled out in to traffic. "Have you ever had to kill anyone?" That was a personal question, Bodie realised, but he was curious about Doyle's reaction as well as the answer.

"Twice. Got violently sick afterwards, both times."

"Get pissed myself." He didn't mention that he'd killed more than his share of people. Far more than he cared to think about.

By pure luck, Bodie found a parking spot just down the road from the pub.

They chose a booth at the back. Bodie looked around, seeing several faces he recognised. This was clearly a copper haunt and the reason Doyle had chosen it. It paid to advertise.

After the first round, he was hungry. "Fish or Beef?"

"I'm a vegetarian."

Bodie groaned. Why didn't that surprise him? "I'm not."

"It's not going to offend me to see you eat burnt animal flesh." The words made his distaste clear.

Bodie groaned again. "Good thing. I learned a long time ago to eat what was available. And I make a point of not turning my nose up at anything."

Doyle's eyes met his. "It sounds like a harsh lesson."

How did he do that? How did he always know when there was something underneath the words? Bodie had a feeling that little trait was going to cause him no end of trouble. A rush of feeling went through Bodie at the intensity of those damned green eyes. "Yeah, Doyle, more than you know."

"What?" Sympathy was the last thing Bodie wanted. But for some reason, and he couldn't say what it was, instead of blowing off the answer as he would have done with anyone else, or saying something flippant Bodie told him the truth. "I spent a few years as a mercenary in Africa.

The only reaction was a slight widening of Doyle's eyes. "That would do it. How old were you?"

"Barely twenty. Young, at least at the beginning, but by the time I left, I wasn't any more."

Doyle nodded sagely. His eyes showed his surprise and horror. "I reckon not. Must have been some ride."

A vast understatement. "Yeah. But at twenty, you think you're immortal." Of course, by the time he'd left Africa he'd had a healthy respect for life and cleanliness and a host of other luxuries.

"Too true. I was a copper at twenty."

"Come up through the ranks, did you?" His respect for Doyle went up another notch, although he found it a bit hard to believe.

"You don't have to sound so surprised."

A grin spread across his mouth at the aggrieved tone. "Most coppers at your level got there via a university degree rather than by being in the field."

"I have a degree too. But I got it at night."

As much as he did not want to be impressed, he was. "You did it the hard way, didn't you?"

"How did you get yours if you spent your formative years in Africa?"

Again for whatever reason, Bodie told him the truth. "I didn't get it at all. I left school at fourteen and never went back." He had attended various conferences and training courses, but he didn't have a university degree at all.

"Seriously?" Doyle's eyes had gone wide again.

"Would I have said it, if it weren't true?"

Doyle shrugged. "I don't know you well enough to say."

"It's true."

"How did you get to be deputy controller with no formal education?" There was real suspicion in his tone and Bodie didn't like it one little bit.

An evil gremlin popped up in him and he batted his eyelashes at Doyle, camping it up. "How do you think? I slept with Cowley." And he sincerely hoped that Cowley never got wind of that little remark. He would no doubt skin him alive for even suggesting such a thing.

Doyle roared. He threw back his head and laughed so loud that people turned around to look at him. After going on longer than he should have done, he finally sobered. "Pull the other one, mate."

Pasting a put-upon look on his face, Bodie folded his arms over his chest and glared. "And why not? He's not so bad looking."

"Whether or not you actually slept with him--and I could care less one way or another--I know that Cowley would never promote you just for that."

Bodie lowered his eyes. Caught. He hadn't realised Doyle would know Cowley so well, but as he thought about it, it did make sense. A man like Doyle would not go into a situation like this without knowing all the players. Which meant that Doyle likely knew something about him as well. "Cowley said I had potential other than for killing."

"Now, that I can believe."

Silence stretched out between them. Bodie stood. "Dinner?"

"Please." Doyle smiled up at him.

They ate in companionable silence, neither of them wanting to break it with small talk, which suited Bodie just fine. He wanted a bit of time to quell the warm feeling of friendship he was starting to feel.

Towards the end of the meal, a dark suited man approached the table. "Ray Doyle?"

"Harry Stanton. How are you?" Doyle stood and shook hands. But Bodie could tell from his stiff body language that Stanton was not someone he cared for.

"Having dinner with the enemy?" Stanton asked in a conspiratorial whisper and nodded towards Bodie. "Work, of course."

"Pleasure, actually. William and I are mates." Doyle smiled down at him tenderly, and Bodie's heart pounded a little harder.

Even if he couldn't stand the use of his first name, he had to admit that it was a stroke of brilliance on Ray's part. The shock on Stanton's face was enough to make Bodie laugh out loud, but he restrained himself.

"I assume you two know each other?" Doyle smiled again, clearly enjoying Stanton's discomfort.

"Yes. Stanton." Bodie nodded, his tone barely civil. He could not stand DC Harry Stanton and knew the feeling was reciprocated. The man was so conservative that he was nearly a caricature. He might have found him amusing in a perverse way, if Stanton didn't have just enough power to be dangerous.

Stanton nodded down at him, his smile several degrees cooler than it had been. "I'll leave you both to your meal, then." He looked like he might say something else to Doyle, but obviously thought better of it, walking away without another word.

Doyle let out a breath as he sat again.

"He'll try to cause you trouble." Bodie felt it only fair to try and warn Doyle.

"I know. But he'll also tell other people he saw me cuddled up to you."

"I wouldn't call this cuddling. For that you have to come to my place." Bodie could not believe he'd just said that. Maybe it was the release of tension Stanton's presence had caused. The last thing he wanted was to cuddle up to Doyle any sooner than he had to. He almost believed it.

Thankfully, Doyle just laughed. "Not right yet, mate. But soon, I expect."

That was the problem of course. "Damn, Doyle. I can't believe you're really going through with this."

"Of course, I am. I want this person caught."

Which was something else Bodie wanted explained. He could find no reason for Doyle to be doing this. None. There had to be one. No one did this sort of thing, something that could potentially cost him not only his life, but his reputation and career, without a very good reason. "Why? What's so important about this particular case that you would risk who you are, and your career for it?"

Doyle sighed and closed his eyes for a moment, then opened them pinning him to the wall with the sharp stare. "You remember Robert Hawthorne?"

"The Government Advisor on youth violence. The first openly gay man killed?"

"Yeah, well he was my mentor. He got me off the streets and into school and then into the police. Without him, I'd be on the other side of the law. He meant a great deal to me."

"I see. Why didn't you say that before?"

"I wasn't sure anyone would understand why I have to find his killer. So, yes, it's worth my career. As I see it, I wouldn't have a career, if not for him." Doyle took a deep breath and then stood. "Let's get out of here."

"Yeah." He followed Doyle out of the pub.

Doyle was leaving his office building a couple of weeks later, when he saw Bodie loitering on the street near the front door. As far as he knew, they had no special plans for tonight. Even though they saw each other nearly every day, they usually met at one of their flats. Since they had started playing different sports together, they'd almost become friends, but Bodie could get up his nose like no one he'd ever met. And he was certain it was done on purpose to create a distance between them.

What had brought Bodie out to meet him? Summoning a smile he didn't feel, he greeted his... What did he call him? Before he could decide on an appropriate term, Bodie was beside him.

"Why are you here?" Doyle hadn't meant to sound so cross.

"Now, is that any way to greet your lover?" Bodie managed to interject a hefty dollop of feigned hurt in this tone and it annoyed Doyle even more.

"You're not my lover." He all but growled it, knowing it wasn't fair or quite true.

"Keep your voice down. As far as the world is concerned, I am your lover. It's a little late in the day to be having second thoughts, sunshine." Bodie's tone was harsh, sounding almost annoyed.

Taking a deep breath, then smiling, Doyle put his hand on Bodie's arm, moving his fingers in a little caress, causing a soft sigh. "All right," Doyle said with a smile that wasn't quite faked. "What is this about?"

Bodie's eyes twinkled as he patted his hand. They moved apart and started for the car park. "Your flat's been bugged."

"How do you know that?" He could guess though and it annoyed him no end to think about CI5 in his flat without permission.

Bodie confirmed it. "We do routine searches of all operatives homes on a irregular basis."

Although he knew there wasn't much he could do about it, Doyle felt he had to protest anyway. "Since when do I work for CI5?"

"You've been seconded, even if you and your boss are the only ones who know it."

"Yeah, that's why I'm working two jobs instead of one." He couldn't keep the exhaustion out of his tone.

Bodie moved closer, running a hand through his hair. "Feeling hard done by, are we, sunshine?"

Stepping away even as he wanted to lean in, Doyle pulled the keys out of his coat pocket. "Try and keep it within the bounds of decency."

"Nothing is wrong with touching your hair."

Damn, Doyle hated that cold grin Bodie seemed to favour when he was around. He wasn't sure when Bodie was acting or just being unfriendly.

"Let it be." Opening the door, Doyle leaned on it. "Are you coming with me?"

"Dinner and then home to watch the game?"

He was too tired to care. "Sure."

Before dinner they stopped at Bodie's favourite pub near the river for a pint, Doyle found time to ask about the bug in his flat. It added an extra complication to their operation and it meant that they would have to play the sex for the real. "Are we actually going to have sex?"

"Does the idea appeal?" Clearly it held little interest for Bodie.

If he had to have sex with Bodie, then he would somehow get through it. Part of him was fascinated with the idea, and another part of him was faintly appalled. "It doesn't. But if we are, I have to know."

That hard blue eyed stare was back. "Why?"

"So I can deal with it." Which was true as far as it went. One way or another, there would be emotional repercussions from having sex with Bodie. Perhaps if he steeled himself properly, he'd get through this without being cut to pieces by it.

"I'll be gentle."

Of course, that wasn't the real problem. Whatever Bodie could throw at him physically, he was sure he could deal with. No, the problem was that he was starting to feel things for Bodie he'd rather not. That truly frightened him, enough that he would avoid sex if he could manage it. "I hope you won't be offended when I tell you I'd really rather not have sex with you. Or any other man."

"You may not have a choice. That's a video and sound bug in your flat. We can't keep going to mine."

"You're making this much harder than it has to be," Doyle sighed, and stood. He had to get some air.

"Let's take a walk first," Bodie said as they exited the pub.

"Fine." It was the last thing he wanted to do, but they should get their cards on the table before they arrived at Bodie's place and certainly before they got back to his.

They walked along the footpath for a few minutes in silence. Then Bodie turned to him, his face serious for once. "This isn't any easier for me."

"Of course it isn't." He wasn't going to give an inch.

"You're not helping."

No. He was sure he wasn't. But every cell in his body was in conflict and he didn't know which side of the fence he was going to end up on. At his age and with his lifestyle the wrong side could devastate him.

Bodie wasn't giving him any quarter. "The whole point was the two of us having a love affair."

"And that's made more difficult since we don't love each other. No, more than that, we don't trust each other, which is worse." That was the bottom line, wasn't it?

Bodie sighed. "True enough. What would you like to do about it?"

"I'm afraid there isn't anything we can do. You can't force trust."

"No. You can't."

But they might have to. And not just for sex. If... When someone came after them, they would have to be able to trust each other. "I expect we'll have to play it as best we can."

His thoughts apparently running along the same line, Bodie nodded. "At some point we are going to have to trust each other."

Did he trust Bodie? "Do you trust me?"

Bodie was silent for a long moment, and then surprisingly nodded. "To a degree. We're forced to intimacy--fake or real, and I trust you enough for that."

That was an interesting attitude. "Do you trust someone you sleep with, just because you do sleep with them?" Doyle wasn't sure trust was necessary for sex.

"Again, to a degree. And you're hardly a stranger."

Did that mean that Bodie only slept with strangers? Doyle wasn't sure how to ask or if he really wanted to know.

They walked on. Shivering as the cold wind came off the river, Doyle pulled his coat tighter.

"We should get out of here, you're cold. And the game's on in an hour." Bodie put his hand in the small of Doyle's back and they turned towards the pub.

As much as he wanted to, Doyle tried not to lean into the small touch. "Your place?"

"Yeah." They would watch the game and then Doyle would leave. It looked like all the talking was done. At least for now.

Doyle put everything he had into returning the shot with as much power as he could muster. All the muscles along the right side of his back protested the abuse, and he knew tomorrow that he'd be regretting he'd allowed Bodie to goad him into kamikaze squash.

He had to admit playing so hard kept his mind off how good Bodie looked in his tight grey shorts and cut off sweatshirt. No one over forty had any right to look like that and Doyle sincerely wished Bodie didn't.

No time for that now. Doyle returned a speeding shot and by some grace Bodie missed. That tied the score. Not that it mattered since they were ten and ten, each point taking far too long and too much energy to accomplish.

Doyle shook his head, sweat flying from his short hair, and leaned forward, holding his racket at the ready. When the shot came, Doyle swung hard, deflecting it back towards the white walls. There was some small satisfaction as he heard Bodie grunt deeply, but not enough since he then missed the return volley.

It took another hour, and in the end Bodie took him by two shots. Doyle was so tired he just collapsed onto the locker room bench, trying to catch his breath and work up enough energy to strip and take a shower. He wasn't in bad shape, hell he still ran three times a week, but as much as he hated to admit it, Bodie was in top form.

"Damn, that was some match." Doyle still couldn't find the energy to move. He just wanted go to sleep for a week.

"Yeah, mate, it sure was. I'm knackered." But Bodie didn't look it, and obviously, didn't feel it as he stripped down quickly and grabbed a towel, heading for the showers.

Doyle couldn't take his eyes off the hard muscled body. It was magnificent. Pale flesh and firm planes; he licked his lips, disturbed at how physically appealing he found Bodie. He was also beginning to realise the attraction he felt at the beginning had started to build, as it did with the women he'd been involved with.

Part of him was fascinated by his reaction. Another, more rational part of his brain was completely horrified. What was he thinking? That was the problem, of course, attraction wasn't about rational thought, it was about feelings and he couldn't deny he wanted to touch Bodie--how exactly he wanted to do this was still somewhat murky, yet he knew he did. Right now, he was far too exhausted to deal with it, but the time was coming when he would have to do some serious thinking.

Lost in his musings, Doyle was surprised by the flick of a towel on his arm.

"Get moving, mate. The hot water will do you good." Bodie stood before him in all his glory.

Doyle drank in the sight, his cock twitching in interest. Bloody hell. With more effort than it should have taken, he moved his eyes away, pushing himself to his feet. His muscles pulled unpleasantly. Damn, tomorrow didn't bear thinking about. "Yeah, I'm going." He stripped to the skin, tossing his sodden clothes into his open sports bag.

He could almost feel Bodie's eyes on him, but continued to the shower room without a backward glance or a comment. The hot water relieved some of his soreness, but none of his fatigue. That had been quite a match.

Thankfully, when he got back to his locker, Bodie was dressed and waiting for him.

"Give me a second," he muttered at Bodie's impatient look.

"All the time you require." But it didn't sound as if he meant it.

Doyle did not trust his smile at all. Wondering if he'd missed something, he shook off the feeling, too tired to care about it now.

"Dinner?" Bodie's stomach growled in eagerness.

Not now. He was just too worn out to do anything. "Pass. Sorry. I'm too knackered."

Looking like he was about to argue, Bodie opened his mouth to say something, and Doyle cut him off, glowering menacingly.

Clearly Bodie knew him well enough now to think twice. "Fine. Dinner tomorrow?"

"Why not?" Doyle just wanted to get out of Bodie's presence and have some time to think through what he was feeling.

They parted company at the car-park entrance. Doyle picked up a takeaway on the journey home then settled in for a quiet evening, and some much needed solitude. Surprisingly, he found it hard to relax. When he finally got into bed, he tossed and turned, waiting for sleep to come and knowing it wouldn't until he faced what he'd ignored all evening: Bodie.

Drat the man for being so good-looking. If Doyle had to pretend to be a gay man, why couldn't his partner be common or even ugly? Because it would have made his life easier, and that wasn't allowed.

Doyle sighed.

He'd spent so much of his life denying that part of himself and had never expected to be forced to confront it. The only thing left to do was admit that he was attracted to a man. No, not just any man: to Bodie. Of course, he knew the attraction had little chance of being returned despite the fact that they would consummate the charade at some point.

It was important to be honest and if he were to have any peace with this at all, he had to follow the fantasy through. Doyle allowed himself to think about what it would be like to make love with Bodie. The mechanics of gay sex were easy and he ran the images through his mind, putting their faces into the action. Pleasant shudders washed over him, and his cock rose up to let him know just how much the idea appealed.

As the fantasies played out, he let his hand drift down his body, touching himself softly, allowing the arousal to build as he started to stroke his cock.

When the tension peaked, Bodie's smiling face came into his mind, and Doyle grunted in release. Knowing he required a wash and too exhausted to move, Doyle gabbed a couple of tissues from the bed-side table and wiped off his hand. With a deep sigh--and nothing settled--he fell asleep.

A week later, Doyle let himself into Bodie's flat. There was something about knowing your home was bugged that made it damned hard to relax. He sniffed the air and found nothing tempting cooking. "What's for dinner?"

"Takeaway." Bodie was stretched out on the sofa.

"What kind?" His stomach growled.

"Chinese, Indian, Pakistani. Take your pick, they all deliver."

"Even better. Chinese. I'll have Hunan bean curd."

Bodie made a face at the vegetarian request. Doyle scowled back.

"Fine. I'll order."

Bodie moved to the phone. Doyle paid for the meal when it arrived and they talked as they ate. Seeing each other nearly every day, they had fallen into a routine of sorts. One of them usually cooked, and the other cleaned up. Or they got takeaway.

After dinner, they settled onto the sofa and Doyle stole a glance at Bodie as they watched the weekly football match, thinking once again how attractive he found him. A lot of soul-searching, and not a few sleepless nights, had enabled him to even make that observation, without every male instinct he owned rebelling completely. Once he'd accepted this quirk in his personality, he'd relaxed and allowed himself the luxury of enjoying Bodie's looks. Unfortunately, he'd reached the point where he wanted to do more than just look.

So, what now? He smiled to himself. That was easy. What he wanted to do was explore both the attraction and Bodie.

Perhaps in the guise of the operation he could suggest some practice before they had to perform before the camera in his flat. Looking again at Bodie, he speculated on what it would feel like to have those blunt white fingers running over his skin. He shivered in pleasure.

"Bodie?" In for a penny...

"Hum?" Bodie looked up languidly, a small smile on his face, almost as if he could read Doyle's thoughts.

But that was impossible. "Do you want to practice?"

Bodie blinked. "Practice? Practice what?"

Doyle could feel the blush start on his neck and tried to control it. "Sex."

"Sunshine, I don't have to practice that." That long, slow drawl made Doyle want to clock him.

He glared at Bodie. "I haven't..." Now why was it so difficult to admit he'd had no experience with men, when they both knew it already.

The grin Bodie bestowed on him was predatory indeed and it didn't do anything to lighten Doyle's heart. "Sure, Doyle. I'd be happy to accommodate you."

Doyle didn't care for his tone, or the cool look accompanying it. "Fine." Leaning forward, he attempted a kiss. To his surprise, Bodie turned away.


"No? What do you mean no?" He couldn't believe what he was hearing.

Bodie's face was closed, his eyes cold. "I mean, I don't kiss during sex."

He didn't want to kiss? That was... Doyle didn't have words for what that was, other than unacceptable. "You kissed me just fine in the pubs."

Shaking his head, Bodie would not meet his eyes. "That was different."

Oh? "How?"

"It was pretend."

It had felt real to Doyle. "I see. And you don't kiss your lovers?" Maybe it was something to do with gay men.

"My lovers, yes. But you're not a lover and this isn't about love."

Well, that certainly put him in his place, didn't it? Hurt and unwilling to admit it, Doyle stood. "No, I guess it isn't. On either score."

Bodie stood, too. "Bedroom?"

Shaking his head, Doyle smiled nastily. "No. Home."

The surprise flashed almost too quickly for Doyle to see it. "But I thought you wanted..."

Did Bodie really think he'd put up with that? Maybe someone else would, but not him. "Not anymore. Thanks anyway."

"Why not?" Bodie looked only mildly curious, but his eyes were very intense.

Doyle didn't have the patience to work it out now. "Because I kiss anyone I sleep with. And if I'm not good enough to kiss, then you're not good enough to screw."

Doyle picked up his jacket and walked out. When he got to the curb, he remembered that Bodie had fetched him from work. There was no way he was going back into the flat. A block over was a main thoroughfare and he'd catch a cab there.

The door closed with a faint snick and Bodie sighed. He knew he'd hurt Doyle, possibly badly. Some part of him was glad to put Doyle off, but most of him wanted nothing more than to call the man back and kiss him until neither of them could breathe.

That was too dangerous. Too dangerous to even consider. He did it anyway, luxuriating in the thought of those soft lips pressing against his. He was too close to falling in love with Doyle as it was. Making real love would only compound the issue.

Still... He tried to justify what he'd done and could not. Hurting someone he cared about for no other reason than convenience was not his style. Doyle hadn't deserved that.


He pulled his keys from the ring by the door and headed out, fairly certain that Doyle would not even let him in.

But he did. With a flat look in his eyes, Doyle stepped back and allowed him in. Bodie wanted to say he was sorry. He hadn't meant to treat Doyle that way, but the words wouldn't come. Instead, he drew Doyle gently into his arms and when he started to speak, Bodie placed a finger at the soft lips and shook his head.

Replacing the finger with his mouth, Bodie pressed in lightly, unsure of his welcome, but knowing he had to do this. His tongue went forward to explore the moistness of the lush mouth. To his surprise, he was not knocked sideways as he'd half expected. Doyle groaned softy, responding to the kiss, hands sliding onto Bodie's waist, pulling him a little close.

Bodie's hands splayed across the slender back, moving downward to cup the resplendent buttocks. Manoeuvring Doyle to the sofa, Bodie laid him down, and then nestled on top of him, surprised that Doyle was being so compliant.

"The camera's in the bedroom." Doyle's voice was a soft whisper in his ear. One of Doyle's hands began carding through his hair.

"I know." Bodie could say nothing more, wanting to kiss him again, wanting to lean into the touch, wanting to believe for just one minute this was real, even though he knew it wasn't.

Doyle on the other hand, found the breath for words. "I thought..."

Putting a finger to Doyle's lips again, he shook his head. "It's pretend." He pleaded silently for Doyle not to say anything else, just accept it. As long as what might lay between them was unspoken, as long as they didn't say anything out loud, they could both get through this without being hurt.

For once Doyle listened, nodding, understanding clear in his eyes. His fingers moved to Bodie's jacket, quickly stripping it from his shoulders. The shirt soon followed. For someone who had never made love to a man before, Doyle certainly seemed to know what he was doing. Or perhaps it was just his nature.

Bodie arched up as an inquisitive tongue touched his ear, and then slid down his throat to lick his Adam's apple.

Nibbling at his shoulder, Doyle seemed in no hurry to move things along and Bodie let him have his way for a while before taking control. When he tried to turn Doyle over, he discovered, to his chagrin, that the sofa was too narrow for such activities and they both wound up on the floor, laughing and kissing.

The carpet was soft enough and Bodie felt no great urge to move, not with Doyle on top of him. First the most important thing: get rid of the clothes. Easy enough, the tracksuit Doyle had changed into took little effort to remove.

Once he was bare, Bodie paused to drink in the splendour of the lush naked body. He'd seen it before, in the locker room, but he hadn't allowed himself to appreciate the finer details. Now, he ran a hand down the long flank, and over one hip and thigh. "Lovely."

"You're over-dressed." Doyle reached for him, removing his remaining clothes.

The light of appreciation in those green eyes made all the early morning workouts suddenly seem worth the effort. Bodie leaned forward for another kiss.

Doyle's fingers lightly skimmed his flesh, moving over all of it, but not stopping anywhere special. It was as if he were testing what it was like to touch a man. When Doyle got to his groin he stopped, hesitating before running his fingers very lightly over Bodie's erection. Drawing in a sharp breath, Bodie held himself still, waiting to see what would happen next.

Petting him, the fingers lingered for a moment, then moved downward to cup his balls, holding them gently. Bodie closed his eyes, simply enjoying being touched so carefully. All too soon, Doyle continued his explorations on less erotic spots.

Unable to remain still, Bodie rolled Doyle under him bringing his mouth to the sweet lips and kissing him over and over. He tasted so good, of sweetened tea and biscuits. With as much attention to detail as he could marshal in his aroused state, Bodie worked his way slowly down Doyle's body, stopping to discover that the rose-coloured nipples were sensitive to his tongue and that nuzzling his belly made him laugh like a child. But he wasn't laughing when Bodie closed his mouth over his rock hard cock. He moaned loudly, lifting his hips and thrusting up with lusty abandon.

Doyle groaned again, too aroused to last long. Bodie didn't make him wait, sucking strongly. Doyle came with a shout, exploding into his mouth, and he drank it down, savouring the sharp taste.

Pulling Doyle into his arms, Bodie held him tenderly, kissing his face as he recovered.

Doyle turned, nuzzling against his neck. "That was lovely, thanks."

"My pleasure." And Bodie meant it, more than he cared to admit.

"Not yet, it would seem. But soon." Doyle moved on top of him, his hands already moving down to tweak a nipple. Bodie moaned.

One thing Bodie had to give him, Doyle was not shy or a selfish lover. He caressed and kissed his way down until was level with Bodie's cock. As he watched, the pink tongue slid slowly out and licked the tip.

Bodie groaned.

Then Doyle took the whole head into his mouth and sucked.

He tried not to move at all, but the sensations were so fantastic, he couldn't help it.

Doyle moved his mouth up and down, somewhat inexpertly, but Bodie didn't care at that moment. The pleasure came sharply and he touched Doyle's shoulder. "Soon."

Lifting his head, Doyle replaced his mouth with his hand, seeming to know the right rhythm without asking. Bodie was so aroused that the pleasure overwhelmed him quickly, and he came with a low groan.

They lay together for a long time, as Bodie's breathing evened out. "We should go in and do something for the camera."

Doyle sighed. "I expect so. Couldn't we just go in there, kiss a few times and then sleep naked?"

Better than trying to fake it when he was tired. "Good idea. All that practice has done me in."


Bodie pushed himself to his feet and held out his hand, pulling Doyle up when he took it. Detouring to the loo for a quick wash, they settled under the cool covers and kissed several times before dropping off to sleep.

Bodie woke with a start. Something wasn't quite right, but he couldn't put his finger on just what was wrong. His senses told him there was no danger, but he couldn't drop back to sleep. With a deep reluctance, he opened his eyes. Doyle wasn't in bed.

Bodie found him in the sitting room drinking a cuppa and looking pensive.



"Why are you sitting here in the dark?"

"Why not?"

"It's 2 am and you have to go to work tomorrow."

"It was just practice?"

What should he say to that? He lied. "Yeah, Doyle. It was just practice."

"Fine. I can live with that."

But Bodie wasn't sure if he could. "Come back to bed."


Doyle sat at his desk, toying with his half-filled, and quite cold, cup of tea, trying to look as if he were paying attention to Richard Benton's report on the status of the new computer system. But his mind was caught up in other things, things that would be better left at home.

They were three months into the undercover operation, his flat had been bugged for more than a month, and there had been no attempts on them, no blackmail, nothing. Doyle stayed out of the investigation, receiving only the weekly updates he would have done anyway. But damn, it was frustrating. Wanting progress, and having none.

Then, there was Bodie. He wanted to sigh, but that would have alerted the staff to his lack of attention. It felt as if he and Bodie were actually lovers, after all they slept together every night, sometimes making love until the wee hours of the morning as they had done last night. But Doyle knew they couldn't possibly be lovers, that everything they did was not real, even if they didn't do it in front of the cameras.

The cameras. Doyle shuddered. How he hated performing for them. It made him feel exposed in a way nothing in his life ever had. He couldn't keep an erection when he thought about some sick and twisted person watching them together. And Bodie seemed to feel the same way.

The phone buzzed, and Doyle jumped, picking it up immediately. His secretary would not buzz anyone though unless it was a dire emergency. "Doyle."

"Doyle, this is George Cowley. Bodie's been shot." The voice on the other end of the phone was perfectly bland, no emotion what so ever.

"Is he dead?" Surprisingly, his voice was nearly steady, which was more that he could say for his pounding heart.

"No. He's in surgery at Guy's."

"I'll be there as soon as I can."

"Very good." Cowley rang off.

He closed his eyes, and breathed deeply for a moment to fight off the encroaching panic. With deliberate care he unclenched his hand from the receiver and lowered it slowly to the cradle. Another breath. Bodie was alive.

When he looked up, his whole staff was staring at him, questions in their eyes. Questions Doyle was unprepared to answer right now. "I've got an emergency. We'll finish this later." He stood and pulled on his suit jacket.

After a second, everyone else stood as well, and he ushered them out of his office, before leaving. Doyle knew he'd have to give his staff more information at some point, but right now all he could think about was getting to Bodie.

Casualty at Guys directed him upstairs to the waiting room outside the operating theatre. Cowley was there, along with several other agents whom Doyle knew vaguely and now ignored. Standing as Doyle approached, Cowley looked grim.

"Tell me everything." Doyle tried to keep the panic out of his tone, and in doing so barely sounded civil. He wanted answers and at the moment, he didn't care whom he insulted to get them.

Cowley blinked, taking off his glasses and rubbing the bridge of his nose. "He was running an undercover operation. One of his operatives was being held. Bodie tried to get him out, and did so, but was shot for his efforts."

That sounded like the stupid bloody prat. He wasn't supposed to be doing that kind of thing anymore, at least according to what Bodie had told him. Doyle took one calming breath, and then another. "What's his status now?"

"Unchanged from when I called you. I suggest you sit down and wait." The glare Cowley gave him made it more of an order than a suggestion.

But he didn't work for Cowley. Ignoring him, Doyle moved to the window, staring out at the grey sky, trying to dispel his fear for Bodie's life. He wrapped his arms around his stomach, and let his mind drift over the performance he'd just given. Without trying, he'd come across as if he really were Bodie's lover. That was good, except it all felt too real, and it wasn't supposed to be. No matter how it felt, he was not in love with Bodie.

Hours later, with his nerves stretched taut by his fear, Doyle sucked in a deep breath as a woman came into the waiting room, dressed in surgical greens. "Mr. Cowley?"

Doyle presented himself at Cowley's side and the others in the room stood. "Yes," Cowley answered.

"I'm Dr. Ryse-Jones. Mr Bodie came through the surgery without incident."

Relief turned Doyle's knees to water and only his strength of will kept him standing. An unexpected joy bubbled up in his heart.

Also looking relieved, Cowley nodded. "Thank you, doctor."

"When can I see him?" The question just popped out, Doyle hadn't thought of asking for visitation rights before that second.

The doctor gave him a suspicions look. "Who are you?"

For one second, Doyle was stunned by the question. Who was he? But then he found an appropriate answer. "I'm a friend of his. A good friend." He made eye contact with the surgeon, conveying just how good a friend he was.

The doctor took in the information and nodded. "All right. He can only receive one visitor at a time and that won't be for another hour or two."

Doyle closed his eyes and nodded. "Thank you."

When Doyle was finally allowed to see him, Bodie looked ghastly. Unsure how to proceed around the machinery, he settled for simply squeezing Bodie's hand.

Don't you dare die, you bastard. He didn't say it out loud--at least he thought he hadn't--but the black lashes fluttered and rose on sleepy blue eyes.

Bodie smiled a little as he focussed in on Doyle. "Not dead yet. Thirsty."

"Not for lack of trying." He took a spoon with some ice chips on it, and brought it to Bodie's mouth.

"Thanks." The normally chipper voice was dull and raspy. Turning his hand up, Bodie grasped Doyle's fingers, eyes bright. "Surprised to find you here."

What a stupid and hurtful thing to say. Doyle put it down to the medication. "Where else would I be?"

A puzzled look crossed Bodie's face. "Work?"

"With you shot? A fine mate I would be then, wouldn't I?" Doyle was annoyed at both the intimation that he didn't care, and the reminder that he wasn't supposed to.

Bodie nodded, his eyes slipping shut. "Sleep."

Doyle stayed a while longer, watching him sleep. The others came in, took a look, then left again, but he found he had to keep returning to Bodie's bedside, assuring himself that Bodie was really alive.

It occurred Doyle--if he was honest with himself--he'd have to admit it wasn't an act anymore. And further, he was in for a terrific letdown when this finally ended. But he wasn't really in the mood to be honest with himself, or anyone else. As long as he didn't expect anything from Bodie then he'd escape this with his pride intact. The notion of what Bodie would do with the knowledge didn't bear thinking about.

Maybe he could write the entire thing off as his mid-life walk on the wild side and resume his life when it was done. Everything would be fine. After assuring himself of this several times, Doyle stood to go.

"Doyle." Bodie's voice startled him. He hadn't realised Bodie was awake.

"Yeah?" He turned back towards the bed.


Doyle was almost afraid to ask. "For what?"

"For being here."

Bloody hell. Something warm, that Doyle would rather not identify, seeped into his heart. "No problem, mate." Against his better judgment, Doyle returned to the bed, and pressed a kiss to Bodie's brow. "Night Bodie."


After a week, Bodie was released into Doyle's care. After two more, he was back at his desk much relieved to be out of that tender care. Not that he didn't appreciate Doyle's nursing, he did, more than he was going to be able to express, but the hovering was going to drive him round the bend. When had Doyle started being so damned nice?

Another reason to be back at work was to convince Doyle it would be all right to continue with the operation. And continuing with the operation meant that they would resume sleeping together. Bodie found he'd missed that quite a bit. Of course, getting laid every night for weeks and then suddenly having to go without could put anyone in a bad mood.

Bodie pulled out the paperwork on the case. He hadn't told Doyle he had several people working on it and that he got periodic updates. If something new came along, he might mention it, but unfortunately, nothing had surfaced.

Thirty minutes later, the door to his office opened and he glanced up to see an aggrieved looking Doyle enter the room. Only Doyle and Cowley could get into his office without being buzzed through by his secretary, and seeing the look on that face, Bodie wondered if he should have revoked Doyle's privileges this morning.

"William?" Doyle glared, his arms crossed over his chest. "Exactly what are you doing here?"

Bodie really hated being called William, but he had to admit it startled the hell out of people when Doyle did it in public, so much so that he'd taken to calling him Ray in return. "What does it look like, Ray? I'm trying to work." He held up the file as a visual aid, and then realised which file it was.

Unfortunately, so did Doyle. Snatching it from his hands before he could react, Doyle opened it, sat down and began reading. "Why do you have this?" He closed the file and flipped it back onto the desk.

Bodie thought seriously about lying, but decided that Doyle would punch him if he did. "Because I'm following several agents progress on the investigation.

"And why is that? Cowley specifically said we weren't to be involved."

"I'm not directly involved, but things run differently here than they do in the Yard."

"I see. And the reason you haven't mention this to me is..."

"Doyle... Ray. It was just an update. Don't you get updates on the case?"

"Nothing I wouldn't get anyway. Not this detailed."

"CI5 does investigations this way." Which was true, if not all of the truth.

"Fine." Doyle was still glaring at him. "You never said why you're here rather than in bed where you're supposed to be."

Bodie had hoped the case file would distract Doyle, but no luck. "I could not spend another day doing nothing. I just couldn't." He tried to look pathetic.

Doyle sighed. "As long as you don't leave your desk."

Torn between annoyance at the autocratic tone and amusement that Doyle was acting this way, Bodie pouted. "You're not my mother."

"Thank Christ for that. She must have been a saint. But I don't want you out and about." Doyle clearly didn't plan to give in on the issue. "The Yard Christmas party is Friday."

There was no question of them not attending together, but by doing so they gave credence to all the rumours. And Doyle would be completely out. "Showtime?"


"CI5's party is next week, but it won't be so public. And only agents and their families attend."

"I still have to go?"

Bodie nodded. "For all the world to see, we're family."

"Speaking of that, how do you want to handle Christmas with our families." Doyle looked serious.

"How is your family going to take this?" Bodie couldn't imagine they would be pleased with the situation--even if Doyle were to explain, which he couldn't. "You're not going to tell the truth, are you?"

"I'm thinking of seeing my bother to explain. But no, not anyone else."

"So, what do you suggest about Christmas?"

"Christmas Eve with your family, Christmas Day with mine?"

The only problem was, "I have no family."

Why did Doyle look so shocked? Not everyone had a loving family--or a family at all. "None?"

"None I'd spend Christmas with." Or any other time for that matter.

"Fine. Christmas Eve at your flat. Christmas Day at my brother's."

Since there was no way out of it: "All right." Bodie looked at his watch. Nearly lunch time. "Do you want to grab a bite?"

Shaking his head, Doyle stood. "No. Sorry. I've got to meet my boss. Specially requested."

Clearly this was not the usual course between them. "Know why?"

"Not a clue. See you at your flat later?"


Doyle paused just inside the pub, letting his eyes adjust to the dimness after the bright winter sunshine. Glancing around he found Reginald Edwards sitting in a corner, obviously waiting for him.


"Ray. Have a seat." Something in the tone had Doyle immediately on edge.

"Yes, sir." When in doubt, fall back on formality. Doyle sat across from his boss in the booth, his hands pressed flat to the smooth wood surface.

"I've had several reports in the last week about your relationship with William Bodie. One came anonymously through the Home Office."

"Who are the rest? Have they been checked out?"

Edwards smiled slightly. "They're being checked out now. Harry Stanton was positively gleeful to explain he'd seen you several times 'cuddling up' to that 'CI5 Fairy'."

Snorting at the thought of anyone calling Bodie a fairy, Doyle shook his head. "As much as I wish it were him, just so I could bust his arse, I doubt it is."

"You're probably right. He's trying to cause trouble, but he doesn't fit the profile at all."

"Too bad." Doyle met his boss' eyes. "But somehow I get the feeling that's not why you wanted to talk to me."

In the six years he'd worked for Edwards, he'd never seen the man look quite so uncomfortable. "I'm not sure how to phrase this, so I'll just say it straight out. If for some reason your relationship with William Bodie is more than it seems..."

Doyle would have interrupted to deny it, but Edwards raised his hand to stop him.

'No. Listen. I'm not saying it is. I'm just saying that if it were to continue past the operation--and you must be very discreet--I don't think it would destroy your career."

"I'm not being discreet now. That was the whole point." Which meant, in essence this was going to hurt, if not destroy his career. Doyle sighed. It wasn't as if he could actually stop now.

"I've heard. But you can't be fired for having a homosexual relationship."

"But I can be made miserable enough to quit."

Edwards met his eyes. "Not by me."

"You're five years from retirement."

"True, but by then this will have blown over, especially if we catch the murderer."

That presupposed the relationship with Bodie did not continue and people believed they had done this only to catch the killer. It also meant he'd have to stop seeing Bodie as soon as the case ended. "I expect so."

"But if your relationship continues..."

"It won't. I mean William and I have become friends after a fashion. It's hard to spend months with a person and not find some common ground." Assuming common ground also included sleeping together every night for more than a month.

"Then, these really are meaningless?" Edwards pulled out an envelope and handed it to him.

It contained six eight by ten photos of him and Bodie in bed, performing. Doyle blushed. He'd been expecting these for weeks, but to actually see them was schocking. They looked so real. If he hadn't known that he and Bodie were not aroused, that he couldn't keep an erection if he thought about the cameras, than he'd swear they were real. "They're fake. You've known about the camera in my flat for months."

"Yes. I've known. But they look real."

They were supposed to. "William seems to know exactly how to position us so the fact we aren't aroused not only doesn't show, it looks like we are."

Edwards still looked incredulous. "This is really faked?"

The shot showed him on his back, his legs raised over Bodie's shoulders, his head tilted back off the edge of the bed. He looked like he was deep in the throes of passion, on the brink of orgasm. It was truly a damning photograph. He met Edwards' eyes. "Yes. It's faked. Where did the photos come from?"

"Courier." Edwards shook his head, glancing again at the photo. "It looks so real"

It did, but why was Edwards harping on it? "It's not. Did you track the courier?"

"Yes. So far nothing. How can this not be real?"

This was starting to annoy him. "For one thing, I'd never let a bloke do that to me. But whoever sent the photos wasn't interested in blackmail. They wanted to hurt me, to out me or they would have sent them to me. Can I keep them?"

"Why?" The look in his boss' eyes was suspicious as if he couldn't believe that Doyle would want the photos.

"I'm going to give them to CI5's photo labs to see what they can come up with."

"I expect a set was sent to George, too."

"Possibly not. William is known for his proclivities. I'm the one who can be compromised by these photographs."

Edwards handed him back the envelope. "The home office is going to put out a press release reiterating their no-tolerance stance on discrimination in the ranks."

"That will help." But not enough to make the rank and file believe it. At least it will be written policy. "Also, I want to have my flat searched and the bug removed."

"Very good." Then meeting his eyes again, Edwards sighed. "They really are faked?"

Doyle stared him down. "Yes."

The sigh of relief was audible. "It wouldn't matter if they were real."

Oh, yes. Doyle really believed that. "But you're glad they are not."

Edwards nodded.

"This is going to get worse after the end of this week."

"You'll bring Mr Bodie to the Christmas Party."


Shaking his head, Edwards sat back in his chair. "It's a good idea. But I am surprised you are willing to risk everything like this."

That seemed a familiar refrain. "I've risked my life as a copper for twenty-five years."

"That seems different somehow."

"You know my reasons."

"So I do."

Doyle walked around after leaving the pub, knowing that the pile of work on his desk was only growing, but he had to think. Seeing himself in those pictures had stunned him, and he had lied to Edwards when he'd said he'd never let a bloke fuck him. He'd let Bodie. And seeing himself in that position made him want it. A slow fire started to ache in his belly and groin. Shaking off the thought, he continued to walk aimlessly, deciding he did not want to think about it, after all.

Sometime later, he found himself in front of his brother's office building. Despite being a right tear-away as a teenager, his brother Frankie had straightened up nicely, and now had a big-time job working at the stock exchange. Ray had quite a bit of money invested with his brother's firm and was doing very well with it.

If he expected to spend Christmas Day with Frankie and his family, he could either lie to his brother about Bodie, or explain. Even the thought of lying left a bitter taste in his mouth, so explain it would be.

He was waved through to his brother's office and enveloped in a bear hug by his much larger sibling. That they were actually related surprised most people, although their hair was nearly the same colour, nothing else was even similar. Frankie was six inches taller than Doyle's five feet, ten inches and out weighed him by at least two stone.

"So, to what do I owe this honour?" Frankie's blue eyes were alight with pleasure.

"I can't visit my brother without a reason?"

"Since you usually don't show up without calling, I can assume you have a reason."

Taking a deep breath, Doyle asked, "Can I bring someone to Christmas dinner?"

"You know you can. Who?" A knowing smile stretched across Frankie's face.

Doyle was quick to disabuse him of that notion. "Someone I'm on assignment with."

Leering pleasantly, Frankie leaned back in his chair, his smile undimmed. "She must be some kind of copper for you to want to bring her home to meet the family."

The last thing Doyle wanted was for Frankie to get any ideas. "It's not like that. Dinner is part of the assignment."

The smile had dimmed somewhat. "Part of the assignment? How? Or can you tell me?"

Doyle closed his eyes. It was harder to explain than he thought, although Frankie of all people would understand, even if it were true.

"What? You're making me nervous here, Ray."

"The assignment be involved with a man, a CI5 agent."

"Define involved." And now the smile was gone, a deep frown taking its place.

Doyle couldn't meet his brother's eyes. "Sexually involved--as in having an affair."

Risking a glance, the look of shock on his brother's face nearly sent Doyle into hysterical laughter. He'd really put it badly, hadn't he?

"With a man? Are you bent? Are you sure? Since when?" The questions were rapid fire and Frankie left the big leather chair behind the desk and came to sit in the one next to Doyle's.

Taking a deep breath, Doyle explained the situation, leaving out only the part where he and Bodie actually had sex. Frankie didn't have to know that.

"So, you're not suddenly a poofter."

That depended on how poofter was defined. "Not this week." But what if he were? "Would it matter so much?"

"I don't know."

Well, at least he was honest. "That's fine coming from you. I know what you've done." Since he'd caught his brother having sex with a bloke, more than once in fact, the answer startled him. Had Frankie changed that much?

"I have. But it was kid stuff, you know. It wasn't... I don't know." He shrugged, clearly looking for words. "All I do know is, if you were to choose this now, at your age, it would be somehow more real than fooling around as a teenager."

Some small, unnamed part of Ray wanted it more than he would ever admit to. "And that's a problem?"

"As I said, I don't know how I'd feel. But you said it isn't that way. So I don't have to worry about it, do I?"

"No. It's not that way." But damn, he wished could say that with more conviction in his tone.

Frankie's eyes pinned him to the wall. "Are you sure? Because despite what you said, I can see this bloke means something to you."

Great. That was the last thing he wanted to hear. Sometimes his brother knew him too well. "It doesn't matter what he might or might not mean to me, I mean nothing to him." Christ, his stomach twisted saying those words, and he had to ignore a sudden pressure in his chest.

"Then the bloke's a fool." Frankie's tone had that over-protective flavour Ray had found so annoying as a teenager, but as an adult had come to treasure.

Doyle smiled. "Then it's all right to bring him?"

Frankie nodded.

The Yard Christmas party was every bit as tense and unpleasant as Doyle had expected it to be. No one actually said anything ugly to them, but everyone they did speak with ran the full range from uncomfortable to embarrassed. They hadn't stayed much past the formal dinner.

As a counterpoint, the CI5 Christmas party turned out to be considerably more casual. When the highly disciplined group let their hair down for a party, they went all out and had a good time. People seemed more relaxed with Bodie and therefore himself. He and Bodie were circumspect, going out of their way to stand apart, not to flaunt the relationship. Towards the end of the party, one of the agents came over and punched Bodie hard on the arm. "You know, Bodie. I really can't believe you had the bad taste to bring him here."

And before anyone could do more than gasp, the unnamed man continued. "I mean, with all the good-looking lads in CI5, I can't believe you couldn't find one to your liking. It seems a crime to have to import a copper, even a cute one." He winked playfully at Doyle. "Bad form, Bodie. I'm sure you've broken many hearts."

A half-smile crawled onto Bodie's face. "Well, since you turned me down, pet. What was I to do?"

The man batted his eyes at Bodie and laughed. "Sweetie, you never said. And now you're taken. I'm heart broken." He put a hand to his head and slunk out of the room.

Doyle burst out laughing. "He's got to be straight."

"Murphy's as straight as an arrow."

"I was worried there for a second. I thought he'd make a scene."

"He did. I was worried for a moment too. I should've known better, Murph's a good friend."

"I wish my friends had reacted so well."

"I've been out my whole career. It's not like people don't know about me. It's different with you. And worse, you're not really gay."

Doyle sighed. At this point, he wasn't sure what he was. But obviously not completely straight, not feeling this way about Bodie.

Putting a hand on his arm, Bodie squeezed reassuringly. "It won't be much longer. They're tracing the guy who delivered the pictures."

Somehow that wasn't at all comforting. "At least my flat's not bugged anymore."

"There is that."

After the party ended, Bodie drove Doyle home, surprising him by not dropping him off at the kerb. Instead, he parked and followed him to the door.

"Coming in?" Doyle opened the door, waving Bodie inside.

"You mind?"


Doyle remained silent. Whatever reason Bodie could come up with to be here was fine with him. The bug was gone, and they were well and truly out. But if Bodie wanted to keep up the pretence, he wasn't going to argue. Not since it meant that Bodie slept at his side.

Taking his turn in the loo, Doyle pretended the casual intimacy didn't exist by not making eye contact. As he slipped between the sheets, Bodie pulled him into his arms, snuggling down next to him. Doyle sighed, closing his arms and kissing Bodie's shoulder, enjoying the comfort and warmth of sharing space.

Shifting, Bodie leaned over and kissed him on the mouth. He responded by deepening the kiss.

A second kiss followed. Doyle wasn't going to bring up the fact that there was no reason to be doing this: no cameras to satisfy, no pictures to be taken. It didn't matter. They had never made love before the cameras. Actually, whether or not they were in front of the camera it had never been making love, just like it wasn't now. That was fine. He could deal with it.

Bodie rolled, pulling Doyle over him, starting to caress his hip and buttocks. Drawing in a deep breath, Doyle canted his hips downward, hoping Bodie was asking for more with that touch. He wasn't. Turning them again, Bodie started down Doyle's body, kissing and caressing with hands and mouth.

All thought left Doyle's mind as it always did when Bodie touched him. Moaning softly, he simply gave himself up to the sensations of the gentle ministrations. Pleasure built, sending him reeling toward climax on a speeding rail. Control a thing of the past, he came, his back arching, his voice calling out loudly.

For a long time, Bodie held him, and then Doyle reversed their positions, taking the lead and reciprocating. As he was about to take Bodie into his mouth to finish him off, a hand on his shoulder stopped him. "No."

Startled, Doyle wondered if he'd done something wrong. "Bodie?"

"I want something else--If you're a mind." Bodie rolled over, spreading his pale thighs.

No doubt what Bodie wanted. Doyle's semi-erect cock jumped, hardening completely and painfully. He would not have ever expected Bodie to offer such a thing. "Yeah. It will be my pleasure."

"And mine. You must have cream or something."

This wasn't new to him. He'd done it before with a couple of his more adventurous girlfriends. Retrieving the hand cream from his bedside table, Doyle carefully applied it to Bodie as tenderly as he could manage with shaking hands. Using his fingers until Bodie was shouting for him to go on with it, Doyle ignored the demands until he was ready.

Fully sheathed, Doyle knew paradise. Heat surrounded him. With exaggerated care, Doyle moved in and out, angling for maximum pleasure. Encouraged by the shallow breathing and low moans, he picked up speed.

Orgasm rolled over him with the power and intensity of a freight train, leaving him flattened in the wake. Doyle knew he'd cried out Bodie's name, but he hoped he hadn't given himself away in any other way.

The following week, Doyle was in his office trying to work through the never ending stream of paper that came with his job when he heard Bodie's voice raised in annoyance.

"I really think Mr Doyle will see me."

Why hadn't his secretary let Bodie in? "Mr Doyle said he did not want to be disturbed." Her tone was more belligerent than Bodie's.

As he moved towards his office door, he wondered what Bodie had done to offend her. Opening the door, he looked out. "Is there a problem, Terry?"

"I tried to tell him, " she nodded her head towards Bodie, "that you could not be disturbed."

Doyle sighed. "And I have told you in the past that does not include Mr Bodie, ever."

"Yes, sir." She didn't meet his eyes.

"William." He waved his hand to indicate that he wanted Bodie to precede him into the office.

Bodie settled himself in the chair in front of Doyle's desk, and pointedly glanced around. It occurred to Doyle that in the time they had been working on this op, he'd been in CI5 headquarters many items, but Bodie had never been here.

"What can I do for you?" Doyle sat down in the chair next to Bodie.

"I was in the neighbourhood... Are you free for lunch?" Bodie moved a folder he was holding, drawing Doyle's attention to it.

What was he up to? "Sure. Do you want to go now?" The sooner the better as far as he was concerned.

"Yeah. I'm starving."

Doyle laughed. "You're always hungry."

"I'm a growing boy, aren't I?" Bodie smiled engagingly and Doyle felt a little pinch in his heart.

As they exited his office, and walked through the corridors together, Doyle could feel the curious eyes upon them. What did they think? In the end, he really didn't care what anyone else thought. He expected that if he was going to be thought of as a poofter, then he couldn't do any better than having them think Bodie was his lover.

When they were outside the last set of glass doors, Doyle put his hand on Bodie's arm. "What, already?"

"Not here." Bodie's voice was low and cautious.

Stepping out into the sun, they started down the stairs. A shot rang out, shattering the concrete around them and sending it flying in all directions. Doyle was pushed down onto the steps even as he tried to find out where it had come from. He struggled against Bodie holding him down, but could not get enough momentum to push away. Several more shots were fired before an eerie silence settled on the street.

Bodie had his gun drawn and was shouting as people started to pour out of the building, with guns trained, looking for the culprit. He practically picked Doyle up and pushed him back into the building. Just about ready to punch him, Doyle put a hand on Bodie's chest and shoved.

"Enough. Dammit. What do you think you're doing?"

Looking incredulous, Bodie glared at him. "I'm trying to get you to safety. In case you haven't noticed, someone took several shots at you."

"I did. But in case you didn't notice, this is Scotland Yard headquarters. I'm in charge around here."

Bodie backed off long enough for him to get the situation sorted out. And then he was back in his office, answering questions from his own people. He did not care for being on the other side of the interview table, but clearly he was the target and at least he knew the investigators.

After giving his statement, Bodie refused to leave and no one risked asking him a second time. Like a panther, he prowled Doyle's office as each of the Scotland Yard people interviewed him.

"Let's go," Bodie said as the last of the officers left. "I'll take you home."

Home? Doyle could not believe this. Taking a deep breath, he calmed his annoyance. "Don't you think I should stay here and possibly look into this?" Had Bodie forgotten again what he did for a living? What did Bodie think? That he would go home and hide?

That was exactly what he thought, Doyle realised as Bodie continued to glare at him. "There are other people who can do this. You don't have to."

But Doyle smiled. "William, just in case you've forgotten, I'll remind you again, I am a trained copper. Been one for more than twenty years. This is my job and I'm going to work on it."

Bodie breathed out sharply and dropped his eyes. "I know. I'd rather they didn't get a chance to take a second shot at you."

"I'm perfectly safe here." The Yard might not be the fortress that CI5 was, but it was quite secure.

"Not enough." Bodie looked around. "What happened to the envelope that I was carrying?

Doyle looked at his desk. Bodie found it on a side table, and looked relieved enough to pique Doyle's curiosity. He raised an eyebrow, but Bodie shook his head. What the hell was in there?

Giving into the silence that said the only way he would find out was to come to CI5 headquarters, Doyle nodded and stood, slightly amazed that they could communicate so well without speaking. If they were ever to work together again after this, that could come in handy. Not very probable though. When this op ended, Doyle was sure that seeing Bodie again would be far too painful to even consider it.

Finally ensconced in Bodie's office, Doyle crossed his arms over his chest. "Well, you've dragged me half-way across town. This had better be damned good."

"Doyle... Ray... What I've been trying to say is that we've traced the man who sent the pictures."

"And why the hell couldn't you tell me that in my office? What have you done about it?" He reached for the phone to ring his boss. They should have people on this.

Bodie put a hand over his, stopping his fingers. "He works for your mob and we have the situation under control."

Incredulousness spread through Doyle. How dare Bodie be so autocratic? "I can't believe you think you can just take over like this."

"Ray. It's one of your people. What were we supposed to do?"

Another deep breath. "Who? Stanton after all?"

Shaking his head, Bodie looked disappointed. "No. Mark Rutherford."

"Rutherford?" Rubbing his temple in hopes of staving off a headache, Doyle tried to place him. He'd heard the name, but no face came readily to mind. When they caught him, he'd probably recognize the man. "Have you told any of my people?"

"CI5 is handling the situation."

Doyle would really like to wipe that smug look off Bodie's face. "That's why you were at my office today?"

Bodie nodded. "He's not at work and he's not at home. I've got agents stationed at both."

"Of course he's not at home. He was on the top of the fucking building trying to kill me. Why the hell didn't you tell me all of this before we left?"

"Your office is not secure." Bodie's tone gave new meaning to arrogance.

"And are you so damned sure this place is?" Even as he spat the words, he knew CI5 headquarters was as secure as they could make it and still let people inside.

"Of course it is. And I told you, CI5 has this under control."

"That's not good enough. You didn't tell any of my people anything."

"True." Bodie had the grace to look a little abashed. "But I'm not sure Rutherford was working alone."

"Come on, Bodie. Don't be ridiculous. Who else do you suspect?" Doyle took another calming breath, and unclenched his fists, hoping he could resist the urge to tear that pretty face off. This pointed out in no uncertain terms just how little Bodie thought of the Yard and him.

"No one. But I don't want the Yard involved with the investigation."

"And why not?"

"They don't have to be involved, not with this part of it." Bodie waved a hand to encompass both of them.

"That's not part of..." The pictures. They had traced Rutherford with the pictures. Explain why he was as suspect and you had to explain about the pictures. Of course, his boss already knew, but Doyle would really prefer that no one else did. And Bodie knew that. Doyle closed his eyes. "Thanks."

"Just trying to look out for you." Bodie ran his knuckles down Doyle's cheek.

Doyle couldn't decide if he should be irritated with Bodie's autocratic manoeuvring or grateful. "I appreciate it. What are we going to do now?"


Oh, no, not again. "Yes, we. I think it's best if I continue on with my life, as if nothing had happened. Try and draw the guy out."

"No. I don't like that." Bodie glared at him.

"Too bad. You keep forgetting I can take care of myself."

"Only if you're armed."

Doyle knew well enough to pick his battles. He could carry, if he had to and if would get Bodie off his back. "Fine."

Doyle loved Christmas, but hated shopping with a vengeance. He always put it off until the very last minute--December 23, if he could get away with it. And because there had been so much happening in his life, he had to take the entire afternoon off to get it all done. It was amazing how long it took to buy a handful of presents with the stores so crowded.

And then there was Bodie. Despite the fact the operation was almost over, he couldn't help but buy Bodie an expensive watch. One of those high tech things he seemed to favour. And to make matters worse, he'd had it engraved, guaranteeing that Bodie would have to keep it. He justified it to himself by saying it was something a lover would give.

Juggling packages, Doyle walked down the side street where he'd parked his car. Late as it was, there weren't many people on the streets and he wasn't paying them a lot of attention. A solid object rammed into his side and a body pressed up against him. "Let me help you."

Fuck. "That's all right," he said, knowing that it wasn't. Doyle thought he knew the voice, and when he turned slightly he did recognise the man.

"If you move, I'll kill you."

"As If you're not going to do that anyway." Doyle let fear enter his tone.

"I'll take as many of these people around here as I can if you don't come quietly."

Got him. Damn. He wasn't going to endanger anyone else's life. "All right."

He allowed Rutherford to take his bags, hoping he'd get a chance to move against him without endangering anyone else. He saw movement out the corner of his eye, and careful not to look in that direction, Ray took his keys out and unlocked the driver's door. If Rutherford wanted him to drive, he'd have to cross in front of the car to get to the passenger side.

"You know, they know who you are." Maybe he could reason with Rutherford.

No luck. "You're bluffing. No way they could know."

"I'm not. CI5 traced you through the courier of the pictures. Very good those were. How'd you get the camera into my bedroom?"

"Shut up you stupid poofter. And open the other side of the car."

Damn. Doyle walked around the car, with Rutherford plastered to his side. "William told me that it was you a couple of days ago." He opened the car door.

"No way. Get in and slide over."

Across the gearshift? Doyle thought not. Instead of getting in, Doyle threw his weight into Rutherford, making him stumble away and into the street. Several shots rang out, and Rutherford dropped silently to the street.

A second later, Bodie appeared at his side. "You all right?"

"Fine." He looked down at Rutherford, lying dead in the street.

"It's over."

"Do we know why?"

Bodie shook his head. "There's nothing in any of our files that says he's anything other than a mediocre copper. Aside from the obvious, there is no connection to any of the dead men or to you. Nothing to say why he might have hated gays enough to kill them. Don't think we'll ever know."

Sirens wailed. "I'm glad this worked."

"Yeah, but we have a few very unhappy Christmas shoppers who want to get to their cars." Bodie nodded his head towards the bottom of the street.

"You blocked off both ends of the block, right?"

"And I'm sure the media is on the way."

"I can file the reports tomorrow. Let's get out of here." He wanted to go home and relax.

"It's over Doyle." It wasn't said unkindly, but with a firm tone that said there would be no argument.

Of course. Now they would go their separate ways, get on with their lives. Why did his stomach sudden feel like it had lead in it? Pressing his lips together for a second, Doyle nodded. "I'll send a copy of my reports to CI5."

"That will be fine. It was good working with you."

And what about sleeping with him? "And you." He held out his hand, and Bodie shook it.

Doyle hesitated on the threshold of Bodie's flat. He'd come to retrieve his clothes. When he'd called earlier, Bodie had said he didn't have much time, that he was expecting friends in for Christmas eve, but if Doyle wanted to come over at half five, then Bodie would have his things collected. Gathering Bodie's clothes together, he'd stuffed them into a pack and headed over at the appropriate time.

He knocked.

Looking more pale than usual, Bodie ushered him in. The flat smelled of Christmas spice and something cooking in the oven. The tree they had picked and decorated together last weekend stood in the front window, its lights blinking merrily. Trying not to look at Bodie at all, he handed over two suits and a stack of causal clothes.

"Yours are on the chest of drawers in my bedroom." Bodie started to walk away and then paused as if remembering his manners. "Would you care for a cuppa?"

Doyle shook his head. The sooner he got to it, the sooner it would be done. "No thanks. Just going to get my togs and get out--leave you to your Christmas Eve."

"Fine. I'll just get back to my preparations." Bodie headed towards the kitchen.

His clothes were piled in a neatly folded stack. Dumping them in the holdall, he did not care that he'd made a mess of Bodie's nice work. In and out as quickly as he could, that was the key.

Where was his favourite green t-shirt? He was sure he'd left it here. Stepping into the loo, he checked the dirty hamper. Nothing there. Next, he tried Bodie's drawers, opening them without thinking. He found the t-shirt balled up behind Bodie's neatly folded briefs and socks. How did it get there? Dirty yet. Doyle sighed. He didn't really want it after all, and left it where he'd found it.

Now with his main goal complete, all he had to do was get out before the pressure in his chest exploded. Moving mechanically through the flat, he headed for the door, taking slow, shallow breaths.

Get through this, all he had to do was get through the next two minutes and he'd be fine. Turning to look at Bodie one last time, he saw there was nothing left to say. It had all been a job, for both of them. Another breath, this one deeper. No use.

As he got closer to the door, the world narrowed to the sound of his own desperate breathing. When he reached for the knob, he heard a sharply indrawn breath, a small sound someone might make when they cut themselves. But it was enough.

"You're going to let me leave, aren't you?" Doyle's couldn't control the trembling in the words or the shaking in his hands.

"Yes. If I thought..." Bodie's voice broke. "If I thought I could stop you..."

Doyle sucked in a breath and closed his eyes. "Ask me." Please.

Silence rang in the whole flat, and for a moment, he feared Bodie would not speak. He heard Bodie cross the room to stand behind him, not touching him, but Doyle could feel his body heat from the closeness.

"Stay. Please."

"Yes." Doyle turned and embraced Bodie, pulling him close, and holding on. "Damn you. You almost let me walk out."

"You could have said something." Bodie nuzzled his neck.

He arched giving better access. "I did."

"Almost too late." The grip on Doyle tightened. "Be sure Ray. This could cost you your career."

He shut Bodie up with a kiss.

"I'm sure it will." He could live without being a copper easier than he could live without Bodie. Last night had taught him that. He'd tossed and turned the night through, looking for the warmth that had been at his side for months. Oh, he supposed he could grow used to sleeping alone again, but he didn't want to, not if he had a choice.

Bodie pulled back. "I can't mean that much to you."

What an idiot. "Of course you do." He'd just changed his entire life to have Bodie as his lover. What was his career compared with that?

"It's only been four months."

And how long did it take to find someone who made you whole? "Long enough. And I'm assuming I mean as much to you."

He was pulled back against Bodie's chest and kissed thoroughly. "You do." And then Bodie met his eyes and Doyle saw the answer before he heard the words. "I love you."

Something melted inside Doyle and he laid his head on the wide shoulder. When he could talk again, he grumbled, "see that you continue to."

After a couple more minutes of luxuriating in Bodie's arms, Doyle remembered something. "I've got a pressie for you."

"I didn't get you anything." Bodie sounded upset.

"It's all right. You can get me something after Christmas." He leaned down and pulled the watch out of his holdall. He handed it to Bodie as if it meant nothing to him.

"Thanks." Bodie shook it. "Should I wait to open it?"

Clearly he didn't want to. "No. Go ahead and open it."

Taking his time, Bodie unwrapped the paper precisely, not ripping it at all. He took the watch out and just looked at it.

"It's inscribed."

Flipping it over, Bodie was silent for a moment. "You knew it would work between us?"

"Not consciously."

"You had it inscribed to Bodie, not William."

"I guess it must be for you, then."

Bodie's hands framed his face and kissed him tenderly. "Thank you."

"You're welcome. But don't you have people coming over soon?" Right now, the idea of seeing people did not appeal at all.

"I lied. Didn't want you to be here for too long if you were only going to leave."

That made sense in a Bodie kind of way. "Prat. Well, I guess neither of us has plans for tonight."

"We do. We'll just do what we planned to do in the first place."

"Capital idea. And tomorrow we'll go to my brother's."

Bodie scowled, but Doyle could also see the nervousness on his face. "What's he going to say about all of this?"

We'll see, won't we?" But Doyle had a feeling that Frankie wouldn't have a problem, not for long anyway. "It will be fine."

Doyle kissed the sceptical look off Bodie's face and before the kiss could become serious, he pulled away. "Dinner?"

"Got all the fixings in and a half-cooked turkey. I thought I'd be eating alone."

"No. Not alone. Not again."

"Either of us." And Bodie sealed the vow with a kiss.

-- THE END --

Originally published in More Priority A-3, IDP Press, 2000

Circuit Archive Logo Archive Home