Assignment in Brentby


Thanks to Frances for the beta. All remaining errors are mine.

CI5's top team strolled down the pre-war building's corridor to their boss' office.

Doyle had been grumbling the entire trip there. "We were promised four days off. We only got one."

"That's what we get for being the best," Bodie remarked immodestly.

"We can't stay the best if we don't get a little time off." Doyle snapped at his partner, annoyed that he should be in such good spirits.

"I'm as annoyed as you are, Doyle, I just don't choose to show it." Bodie said airily as they stopped at Cowley's door.

"What could have happened that the Cow had to call us in?" Doyle knocked on the door after his partner's shrug.

"Come in." Cowley called out. When the head of CI5 saw who entered his office, he barked, "What took you so long?"

"We were off duty, sir," Bodie reminded him.

"You're never off duty. It's in the fine print."

"Yes, sir," both men replied. They remained silent; their boss didn't seem in a particularly good mood.

"The P.M. called."

Bodie nudged his partner, their eyes met in understanding, that was why he had cut in on their off time.

Cowley continued, "The Prime Minister has asked me to look into a murder in a Berkshire town. What I think we have stumbled on to is a serial killer."

"A serial killer and the press hasn't caught onto it yet?" Bodie responded with false surprise.

Doyle was more pragmatic. "Why us?"

"We'd have heard about it." Bodie wasn't buying it.

"Why us?" Cowley looked at his men, they could already hear, "it's in the fine print". "The P.M. specifically requested us, that's why us. Why doesn't the press know?" The Controller of CI5 paused just long enough for his opinion of the press to be known but unstated. "Because in this Berkshire town, more than a quarter of its residents are homosexuals. The deaths weren't looked into all that closely. No one's made a connection... until now."

Doyle still didn't understand their involvement, "Why does the Prime Minister want us to look into it? Why not the Yard?"

Cowley looked over his glasses, "The latest victim was the paramour of the P.M.'s godson. He doesn't want the press involved nor the local constabulary."

"Why do you believe this is the work of a serial killer?" Bodie asked as he flipped through the folder on Cowley's desk. "Four deaths, no two alike. No ritual, no pattern."

"Look closely, Bodie."

"Sir?" The dark haired agent looked up and set his eyes on his boss.

"Each victim was a male homosexual and each one was in an established relationship."

"You don't think that's stretching it a bit?" Bodie asked incredulously.

"I've got an itch..."

Doyle cut in, already dreading the drift of the assignment. "And what do you want us to do?"

"Go up there and establish a homosexual relationship. Publicly." After he took in Bodie's expression, he added, "Within reason, of course."

"Ah, sir... why us? There are some younger lads that would look more the part," Doyle wondered aloud.

"Aye, but no partnership indicates the closeness that you and Bodie have achieved. You look natural together even in close, tight places."

Doyle moved quickly to stand in front of his partner and jabbed his elbow back, hopping to connect hard. Anything to stop the snicker he knew from experience was forthcoming, from erupting into full laughter or worse yet, a dark humoured response.

Bodie took in the look of censure and in an attempt to needle his partner some more, asked, "So you're saying we look queer?" He didn't really care, but he loved the affronted look on his partner's face.

Exasperated, Cowley nearly bellowed, "No. That is not what I'm saying, don't be daft on purpose. To pull this off, a couple would have to appear at ease in close quarters. Your pairing, whatever else one might say about it, you both are at apparent ease with one another."

What he left unsaid, but made abundantly clear, was that whatever else that could have been said about them would not be nearly as complimentary.

Bodie just kept his aloof grin in place.

Doyle wanted the details on their part, "So what exactly is the assignment?"

Cowley took off his glasses and stared at his men pityingly, "Why, go to the town of Brentby, become an established homosexual couple and hope that someone tries to murder one of you." He paused and added since they seemed so addled, "Unsuccessfully murdered is preferred."

A house was purchased beyond the outskirts of town and Mr Bodie moved in alone.

The estate agent made known the only information he had on the new owner. He was a free-lance photographer back from a hairy time in Africa. He hoped to install a dark room. He had seemed reticent, but pleasant. Not much to contribute after four hours in his company.

The estate agent shrugged, "What can I say he wasn't given to chatting about himself, or talking much at all." He took a lot of ribbing at the local pub.

Kate Hooper was his housekeeper. Not much to do, she said often enough. Whether he was home or not, the place still looked much the same. She told them that her only real duty besides the dusting was the laundry. She did pass on that on his second trip home he had a dark room installed. He kept it locked and it wasn't part of her duties. She had offered to shop for him, but he had declined, stating he never knew when he'd return or be forced to leave.

Emma Greene, who ran the General Shop in the west end, felt she and her husband, Tom, knew Mr Bodie best of anyone in town. He kept a post office box located in her shop. He wasn't home regularly enough and chose to collect his post that way.

She felt he was a sad man. Alone most of the time, she believed that he had been hurt and now worked incessantly with little down time to keep the loneliness at bay. He had a sense of humour and a delightful smile the few times she'd seen it. He would share where he'd been, but nothing much about himself.

He usually stopped in at the pub across from Emma's, The Swift Stag, on his first night back for fish and chips and a lager. He would sit by himself and would nod in response to any given him, but most all could tell that Mr Bodie wanted to be alone.

Charlie Turnbill, the barman, was happy to pass on that Mr Bodie bought him a drink each visit. He also had the feeling that the solitary man was aware of everything happening around him. They had a bet on as to whether Mr Bodie was bent or a straight. No clue yet.

He was the topic of much town conversation. Even after three months he was part of the weekly conversations and when he was in town, he made the daily gossips.

Bodie was well aware of the gossip about him; it's what he wanted after all. He let them speculate for he couldn't very well take up with a local and put them in danger. They couldn't just have an influx of new town folk all at the same time, either. Cowley was very specific on how he wanted the op to run. So, he had to wait for Doyle to show up.

This op would begin in earnest next week. He and his partner were just wrapping up the Sutter op- a kidnapping with arms as the payoff. Doyle was completing the report which, in the long run would, be the easy part. Bodie had to work with the carpenters on the remodelling.

Studying the other murders and the time between them, Bodie figured that this case could take between four to ten months from the time that Doyle arrived. In the three plus months that Bodie had lived here he had yet to cultivate any acquaintances thus far. It was part of his cover. He and Doyle had planned that his entrance would take the brooding Bodie out of his shell and they would socialise, get to know the town folk after they had got together. All designed to make the questions to be asked less suspicious. Jason Foley, the Prime Minister's godson, would be on hand after Doyle's arrival.

Doyle had loved Bodie's reports of the betting pool and gossipy comments about his tough and stoic partner. Bodie did excel at hearing what he wasn't supposed to be privy to. They had spent a lot of time going over the files on all of the town's residents. Doyle had the official descriptions and Bodie's as well, he would have a kick seeing how close they were when he met them first hand.

Doyle's arrival was intended to be as flamboyant as was his undercover personality. He was the "Rough Outdoors" new model and spokesperson. He and the crew arrived by helicopter and set up at the edge of town. The shoot attracted a lot of attention and almost half the town turned out to watch.

It was the third day of the shoot and Emma's turn to mind the shop. Her husband, Tom, was watching the goings on. It usually got crowded after the filming ended, but someone had to stay all day. It was during a quiet time that Bodie entered the store.

Emma called out a greeting then asked, "Have you been out watching with the rest of them?"

Bodie looked up from the magazine he was reading when he realised that the grocer was talking to him. "Watching what?"

"That model out there. The ads they're filming."

"Oh. No, I didn't notice anything. Is she someone well known?" Bodie asked, completely in his role.

"No, I don't think HE is." Emma smiled at Mr Bodie's raised brow. "You should go watch. Meet people."

Bodie graced her with a quick, rare smile. "Thank you." He turned back to his reading and moved for better light.

Emma sighed, she wasn't sure what he thanked her for, maybe just for talking to him. He was such a loner. She did worry about him.

She didn't have much time to ponder the town loner for the filming seemed to be over for the day and the shop was getting busy. She watched Mr Bodie draw into himself and approach the counter to pay for his magazine. He didn't quite make it. The door opened and lots of people filed in.

The crowd of customers jostled his arm and Bodie dropped his wallet onto the ground. As he bent to pick it up he was bumped from behind and his head collided with the counter.

Rubbing his head, he stood angrily and barked, "Watch it." He turned to see the rude person behind him and froze in place.

Before him stood a vision of wind-blown, auburn hair and just ever so slanted green eyes. He was captivated and stood speechless, at that moment, Doyle was beautiful.

Emma was transfixed at the emotion she saw displayed for the first time on Mr Bodie's face.

The vision spoke, "I am sorry. Let me check. Hopefully I didn't damage anything." He put his hands out and rubbed Bodie's head.

Bodie's blue eyes never left the face before him. He continued to stare, speechless. The vision smiled and Bodie sucked in his breath.

Emma clapped her hand over her mouth. The pool on Mr Bodie was over.

"Hey, sunshine, are you okay? Have I injured you?" The vision continued to rub Bodie's head, then ran his hands down his back and back up again.

"No, I'm fine." Bodie's voice was low and husky. His eyes were still locked on the green ones before him.

"That's good. I'm Ray Doyle," he smiled, expecting a name in return.

Shaking himself from his inert state, Bodie nodded. "Bodie." He realised that he was holding up the queue, he put his money on the counter and turned to leave.

Emma sagged in disappointment, it had looked so promising for Mr Bodie. He had been struck dumb by the curly haired model. Now, he was walking away. He was such a lonely man.

Ray Doyle seemed disappointed as well, but he could do something about it. "How can I apologise?"

Some light seemed to come on in the blue eyes, or at least that's how Emma described it later. Mr Bodie stopped and turned, "Buy me a pint."

"It's yours." Ray Doyle nodded to Emma and followed the dark haired man out of the shop.

Emma rang Charlie up fast. Though it wasn't the norm, she wanted the barman to make sure that Mr Bodie got a table in the back and that no one needled him.

As far as Charlie could tell, Mr Bodie wouldn't have noticed. The only one their resident loner noticed was the curly haired golly before him. A lot of money would be changing hands this evening.

As soon as Tom showed up, Emma left him in charge of the shop and hurried over to the pub. Under the guise of helping Charlie, she kept her eye on Mr Bodie.

She watched as Bodie's face lit up, smiled, even laughed. He looked younger and very handsome. She studied the man that wrought the transformation. Ray Doyle, model. He was a pretty one and had the look of a heart breaker.

His crew had sounded like this was the last day. Some were leaving tonight and most tomorrow. She was afraid that the morrow would leave an even more inaccessible Mr Bodie.

Knowing they were under observation by all, Ray settled into his undercover roll. He described the antics of the last three days of filming. Half the crew were their own people from B Squad and most had to quick study their parts. The real photographers were ready to pull hair at the low budget equipment they were forced to endure.

Jax, the only A Squad member besides Doyle himself, had taken on the jester role. He had left piles of cow manure for the crew to step in. Many had notes within stating that the Cow is everywhere.

Bodie laughed. The tales were funny but he found himself enjoying the animated face before him. Relaxed for the first time since the Sutter op, Bodie was glad for the down time this op could provide. The set up period would be beneficial for his partner.

A stray curl fell into Ray's eye and Bodie unthinkingly reached over and brushed it aside. Ray smiled his thanks and continued regaling his partner with his time before the camera.

They ordered sandwiches and beer and stayed well past the dinner hour.

Emma stayed on to help Charlie throughout the supper rush. Her most difficult moment came when Ray's crew entered and located Mr Doyle. After a brief conversation the lights seemed to go out of Mr Bodie's eyes. He gave gracious thanks for the libations and made his way to the door without looking back.

Just after the door closed behind Bodie, Ray Doyle stood, threw some money on the table and left in a hurry. All the pub's occupants could hear the shout of Bodie's name before the door closed behind Doyle. It was with great restraint that all the occupants didn't rush to the door to see what happened.

Emma Greene felt no such restraint. She followed the men outside and watched as Doyle caught up to Bodie outside her shop. She had no idea what was said, but under the street light she could make out Bodie's smile and nod. He got into his motor and drove away as Ray Doyle walked to his hotel, whistling. She'd have to wait until tomorrow. She popped back inside the pub to update them all.

Later that evening, Ray called Bodie.

"Hey, partner, this town may be the match for Cowley. Patrick and Stevens hung about after we left, they said that a lady came back in and announced that you were smiling as you drove home." He barked his laughter loudly.

Bodie chuckled along with him, "That'd be Emma Greene, the grocer."

"Town busybody," Ray said understanding.

Oddly, Bodie defended her, "Not that she noses into others' business, but she seems genuinely concerned about the lonely Mr Bodie. She never pushes at me to speak."

"Oh, Bodie's got an admirer," Ray teased.

"No sir, not like your Marge. Emma's only concerned about me; Marge wants your body." Bodie snickered.

Ray changed the subject, "Is a game on the box?"

"Manchester - Liverpool. Should've just started." Bodie flipped on the switch and sat back to watch.

They watched the game together via the phone and neither man thought it odd that they were on the phone for over two hours.

Bodie bid the cleaning lady a good morning as he left to meet Doyle for mid-morning tea. They had arranged to meet at the breakfast caf before they ended their conversation last evening. Bodie got a table and waited for his partner to arrive.

Bodie's tea had just been served when Doyle strolled in. He smiled as his partner sat down. The waitress returned with another cup of tea.

"When you takin' off?" Bodie asked casually after his fourth biscuit.

"Most of the crew left this morning. I'm due a break, so `ve decided to take my leave here. Rented a room for a couple of weeks. Discover what the area has to offer." Doyle explained.

Bodie brightened, "Hopefully, you'll find something to keep you interested."

"I see possibilities," Doyle smiled with a twinkle in his eye.

That afternoon, Bodie showed Ray the town and introduced him to the folks he knew. They had their evening meal at a nice restaurant and everyone in town agreed that Mr Bodie was courting Ray Doyle.

Where Mr Bodie stayed to himself, saying little, Ray Doyle was the opposite. He would stop and chat with everyone. Ray was meeting more people in town and was dragging Bodie with him. Bodie was loyal to Charlie's place and Ray just had his new friends meet with them there. Charlie didn't mind Bodie holding Ray's hand on top of the table. Emma loved it.

Emma was helping Charlie, something she seemed to do a lot when Bodie and Ray were there. When she saw Jason Foley enter, she wandered over to Bodie's table.

"Oh, Mr Bodie, you and Mr Doyle just have to meet Jason. He's been abroad and you haven't had a chance to encounter him yet." She lowered her voice and Ray had to lean closer to Bodie to hear. "He lost his partner at the beginning of the year. Took it hard. His Aunt had him in, he's just come home."

"What happened?" Ray asked brazenly.

"He was killed, robbed they say. Devastated poor Mr Foley." Saddened by the memory, she perked herself up by forcing an introduction.

Emma brought him over to the table and sat him down. Laughter at her bold move banished any awkwardness it might have created.

Bodie was pleased at Foley's acting, he didn't let on that he had already met the CI5 agents. They would now be able to work together without arousing suspicion.

While in town, the only sure way to speak without the fear of being overheard was in the park.

"I'm not sure our tech boys could rival a small town," Bodie commented as they sat down on the rug he had toted and set up the portable backgammon board.

"Yup, kids find it hard to get away with much." Ray spoke with real passion in his voice.

"Personal experience?"

Ray's head bobbed up and down, "When I was ten, stayed with an Aunt for the school period. We'd have fruit fights in the orchards, away from prying eyes, or so we thought. By the time we arrived home, everyone in town knew and just how much fruit was wasted. Had to work off the damage." Ray smiled as if the story evoked some good memories.

"Developed your aim at an early age, I see," Bodie quipped, but pleased at the shared moment of Ray's past.

Ray rolled the dice and moved his pips.

"I believe we need to move the relationship along. Don't have much experience to draw upon, this relationship dating," Bodie's voice implied that relationships were not his aim when dating. "So, I'm not sure it's any different from birds, but we have to become more...demonstrative."

"Kissing, touching..." Ray listed.

"And sex." Bodie looked blandly at his partner. They hadn't talked details yet.

Ray paused, trying to see past Bodie's mask. "You experienced?"

"Kissing, touching, sex? Yes, to all of the above." Bodie grinned with impudent charm.

Ray squinted at his contrary partner, "With male partners."

Truth time. "Sex, yes. Relationships, no."

Ray always marvelled, when pressed, Bodie would relay the truth without varnish.

"You?" Bodie asked in return.

"Same, less even. Little experimentation in art school."

"Blind leading the proverbial blind."

"Seems so," Ray cracked a genuine smile.

"So you gonna let me snog with you in public? Or is that too uncomfortable for you?" Bodie asked seriously.

"A public kiss would probably keep them from camping out under the bedroom window for awhile," Ray mused.

Bodie laughed. He noted that that though the question seemed answered, it wasn't.

"This is your courtship, mate, how do you want to play it?" Ray queried, curious.

Bodie tapped his lips with his fingers, "Suppose if I wanted to do it for real, I'd start gentle. Hard and fast, however pleasurable, seems fleeting."

Ray nodded in agreement.

"So, how about some more hand-holding and a few stolen kisses and this weekend have you back to the house?"

"Should work. We need to have Foley in after we get the full town breakdown and in-depth personal histories." Ray added as an afterthought

Bodie nodded before he sat back, grinning, "Gammoned you."

"Ah, hell." Doyle looked at his partner, "I know you used the conversation as distraction. What I owe ya?"

"A little practice," Bodie suggested without expectation, just hoping to needle Ray a bit.

Knowing very well what his partner was up to, decided to toss it back at him. "Yeah, sounds cheap."

"Cheap, eh?" Bodie moved around the game board and sat aside Doyle. He used his thumb to brush Ray's cheek before moving the hand behind his neck. Fingers in the auburn curls, Bodie tipped the head back and covered Ray's lips with his own.

The lips were gentle, touching lightly moving over Ray's with restraint. Bodie pulled back and looked into his partner's wide eyes.

"You win the birds with that?" Ray asked innocently with just the right amount of doubt.

Bodie's hand moved no less gentle, but his lips did. He covered Ray's with his own then traced them with his tongue. The taste was more than he expected and he repeated the action. Ray gave a semi gasp and Bodie used it to gain entrance inside. The lips beneath his parted in acceptance and Bodie explored. The teeth, the roof, the tongue, all were investigated. Bodie drew back when he heard the moan - he didn't know if he or Ray made it.

Breathing hard, Doyle spoke with new knowledge, "You win the birds with that."

Bodie placed the backgammon set under one arm and took Ray's hand with the other. Bemused with private thoughts, they walked back to town in a companionable silence.

That afternoon was spent taking pictures of the town folk. Under the guise of teaching the usually photographed man how to be the photographer, they were able to get many of the town folk to pose for the shots. Bodie draped his arms about Ray's shoulders to show the correct way to hold the camera; this garnered many warm smiles. They worked until supper, getting several rolls of film. Bodie knew that he'd be working late into the night developing.

They had a meal at Charlie's pub under the romantic eye of Emma and they could almost hear her sigh as they held hands.

Bodie walked Ray back to the hotel and for all the public to see, kissed Ray goodnight. Hands on either side of Ray's head, Bodie's blue eyes twinkled as he leaned in for the kiss. It picked up where the one in the park had left off. Ray's tongue was sucked right into Bodie's mouth, explored and caressed. Ray was breathing so hard he could hardly take a breath when Bodie lifted his head. Bodie brushed Ray's damaged cheek with his fingers and smiled.

"I'd swoon if I didn't think it would give you a big head," Ray told him.

"Which one?" Bodie replied saucily before he tuned and walked to his car.

Ray rolled his eyes and shook his head in amused disbelief.

Bodie called in while he developed the film. He was told that the revised town histories would be sent by messenger the following day.

He called Ray to update him and they planned to match faces in the afternoon. Wanting exercise, Ray suggested jogging the town perimeter in the morning. Each opening a lager, they made fun of a French film with subtitles on the box before calling it a night.

On the fifth day of their public courting, they had lunch with Jason Foley. They spent the rest of the afternoon with him labelling the people in their pictures.

Jason began hesitantly, not really knowing these men. "I know you're here as a favour, but if you want to be believable within the gay community, you need to intensify your relationship." He could see that he had the complete attention of both agents.

"In public?" Doyle asked.

"It's easy to see that you both are comfortable in each other's space, but you are lacking that sexual awareness that would be picked up by other guys."

"Other men can tell we aren't sleeping together." Bodie stated the obvious conclusion.

"Gay men, yes." Jason wondered if this was too much for the heterosexual agents.

"We'll work on it, then." Bodie's smile was lustful, but the look in his eyes was speculative for a quick second then all that could be seen was his usual expression that gave nothing away.

They agreed to meet next month officially when they would all be in town again. The agents were hoping that Foley would be better able to discuss the late Martin Fane. They needed to eventually create parallels with that relationship.

Bodie and Doyle walked back to Ray's room.

"Dinner out at the house tonight?" Bodie checked.

"Yeah. Takeaway?" Doyle offered.

"Nah, Mrs Hooper has left many frozen casseroles. Let's mix and match'em, sunshine."

"I'll bring the wine." Doyle confirmed.

"And extra clothes."

It may have sounded like a command, but Doyle heard the question and nodded his agreement.

Bodie kissed Ray at the door and left the way he came. He headed to the grocer's for salad makings and dessert.

Emma noted what her Mr Bodie was purchasing, "Dinner in tonight?" she asked with a smile.

"Yes, ma'am."

"Is he a vegetarian or something?" Emma inquired at all the rabbit food fixings.

"Or something," Bodie offered with a sly smile. "Mrs Hooper has left many a dish; don't want to scare Ray with my cooking right off."

"You ever need help with the cooking, just let me know, we'll impress him, love."

Bodie just smiled his thanks as he paid for his purchases. He headed home to await Ray.

Doyle arrived at five o'clock with two bottles of wine; he wasn't sure if he'd need the extra fortification. Foley's words played over in his mind.

"Nice place, this," Doyle said as he wandered about the house, "This time you didn't draw the long straw."

"Two loos, and the shower is great," Bodie agreed as he followed Doyle into the kitchen.

"Any bugs?" Doyle looked over to his partner.

"None yet." Bodie exaggerated his blink, "But we haven't met the profile yet, sunshine."

"Talk to the Cow?"

Bodie picked up the phone and dialled. "3.7. Cowley there?"

"Nope. Alpha One will call you later," Murphy told him, "There's a political that you and 4.5 will have to come down for. Has to have the best."

Bodie could hear the smirking, he complained, "4.5 and I are already on assignment."

"Oh, yeah, the great photographer on break, hard put, I'm sure." Murphy didn't sound sympathetic.

"Tell the Cow we'll be in all evening." Bodie put the phone down, "There may be another assignment our way. The Cow is suppose to call."

"One undercover not enough?" Doyle pulled two pint bottles from the fridge and handed one to his partner. "May work out okay, looks like we're on location or something."

"Maybe we can look up some of the widowers." Bodie pointed to the folder files on the table.

"They weren't married, Bodie," Doyle corrected.

"Whatcha call `em then?"

Doyle shrugged. Changing the subject, "What did Ross say about our killer?" Doyle asked.

"Not much." His opinion of her clear in his voice, "Not a hate crime, she says, and not one of passion. That's all."

"Doesn't help much."

"Does she ever?" Bodie opened the newest folders that arrived by overnight. He passed half over to Doyle and they checked the updated information, then traded across.

"A town of twenty five hundred doesn't seem like much until you need to investigate `em all." Bodie mused as he read.

"Besides recording those that died since the last census, seems records was able to eliminate at least half the town, wrong demographics. Nice that. Less to work with."

"Well, being dead is as good excuse as any," Bodie grinned.

"Records ascertained that a hundred seventy five of them weren't in town for two or more of the killings and the others moved here after the first death as well," Doyle read aloud.

"Can't eliminate those."

"What? Killing one here, then move here to do more cause he liked it?" Doyle asked disparagingly.

"Seen odder." Bodie shrugged, unruffled.

"'K, will put them into a separate pile. What's left?"

"Around a thousand. Let's vet while we eat, I'm hungry."

Doyle laughed, "When aren't you?"

Bodie answered the comment airily, "Growing boy, I am."

Doyle watched as his partner walked into the kitchen, he couldn't help but wonder where Bodie put it all. He didn't seem to exercise enough to get rid of all the calories but he didn't carry any extra weight.

"Whatcha want? Several kinds of pies, steak `n kidney, meat, potato."

"How many are there?"


"Put `em all in. Sample `em all that way."


Bodie fixed a salad, Ray sliced some bread before hunting for the wine glasses. They placed the folders in easy reach.

Bodie dug into his salad as he flipped through the lists. "Let's set aside the straight married couples."

"Can't rule `em out," Doyle cautioned.

"Know that. Just want some categories."

Doyle saw the logic and took half the stack to sort.

The oven buzzer went off and work was forgotten as the two partners sampled some of each pie. Doyle opened the wine and poured each a glass. They ate in a comfortable silence, enjoying the home-made food.

" 'Ave to let Mrs Hooper know we appreciated the pies." Bodie sat back satisfied.

"Were good," Ray agreed. "How'd you find her?

"Real estate office suggested her. Didn't want to do interviews." Bodie replied.

Doyle washed as Bodie dried and put away their dinner things. They took their wine glasses into the front room and began working in earnest.

It took another two hours to finish sorting the folders into the newly established categories: married, known gay and other.

They had also finished one bottle of wine. Doyle motioned to the other bottle and Bodie nodded.

After the cork popped, Doyle reminded his partner, "We need to discuss what Foley said."

"Sexual awareness." Bodie didn't bother pretending he didn't know what Doyle was on about.


Bodie looked at his partner objectively. He was easy on the eyes most of the time, intriguing, in fact. Had a gracefulness about him that kept your eyes on him. His tight clothes left just enough for the imagination to play with.

He shook himself out of his reverie, "It's up to you, Ray. How much we do, if any. How far we go."

"Why up to me?"

Bodie shrugged, "You seem more vexed."

"What about you?" He threw it back onto Bodie.

"We've both bedded others for the job."

"But we're partners."

"Yes, makes it easier. Don't have to act with you."

Doyle wasn't sure how to take that.

Bodie sighed, "We need to look at each other with sexual eyes."

Doyle cocked his head to the side, eyes questioning.

No teasing, no amusement, just a serious, open expression as Bodie asked, "Do you trust me?"

"With my life," Doyle confirmed without hesitation.

"Let me show you then, may I?"

Doyle looked into Bodie's surprisingly candid eyes and nodded slowly.

Bodie unbuttoned Ray's shirt and took it off with Ray's help. Ray put out his hands to undo Bodie's, but his partner stilled them.

"Not yet. Watch... Ready?"

Curious, Doyle nodded. He was curious at his own lack of self-consciousness, half-naked with a fully clothed Bodie. He was also curious at what his partner would do, with eyes focused on Bodie, he watched as asked.

Bodie traced his hand over Ray's right shoulder. "I've touched you many times, but right now `m touching you just to feel your skin. To notice the differences in texture from here," he touched the ball of Ray's shoulder, "To here," he ran his fingers lightly to the middle of Ray's hairy chest.

"Your skin is smooth but furry, it's different, so I want to explore more," Bodie whispered.

Doyle was mesmerised, more by the verbal Bodie than the sensations his fingers were creating.

Bodie rubbed his fingertips back and forth through the chest hairs and ended with a carding motion. "I notice the reactive nipples, smaller than those I've played with of late, but still they draw my curiosity." He matched actions to his words as he chose the left one and played with it as though it was a new toy. He moved his fingers to the right nipple repeating all he had done to its mate.

Doyle was amazed at his body's reactions; it proved its delight by sending extra blood to his groin.

Bodie noted the bulge of arousal without outward reaction. He did walk Doyle backward to the wall to let him use it for support. He believed that Ray would need it. Bodie knew his partner had a sensual nature and when awakened his body would respond.

Bodie moved his fingers down the centreline of Doyle's chest and stopped at the navel. He skimmed it ever so lightly with his fingernails, but not in a tickling way.

Doyle gasped - he hadn't known that his navel could be an erotic spot. Birds didn't usually play there.

Bodie whispered into Doyle's ear, "Fingers can only convey so much and for complete awareness, I need more."

Without warning of what was to come, Doyle found Bodie's tongue in his ear. If it hadn't sent shots of fire through his body he might have said something. Instead, he leaned against the wall and waited, accepting the lesson in awareness.

Bodie licked Ray's neck and sucked at the junction of his shoulder, leaving his mark. Then his tongue traced all that his fingertips had done.

Doyle was surprised when Bodie's mouth latched onto his nipple. He'd thought they had peaked all they could - he was wrong. He found how much more erect they could become and they were not the only erect bits to be found. His jeans showed the outline of an extremely obvious bulge.

Birds never did this, he hadn't known this was how he could react, his mind tried to bend round this idea when Bodie latched onto and suckled his other nipple. He then forgot how to think.

By the time the moist tongue reached his navel, Doyle was unaware that his jeans had been opened. The eroticism of the tongue laving his navel, dipping in and out, excluded anything else from registering.

Bodie pushed down the jeans and pants just enough to expose the leaking erection and full testicles. He cupped and rolled the taut sacs as he sucked one last time on Ray's navel.

The moan of loss became a groan of need as Bodie closed his mouth over Doyle's hard sex. Bodie marvelled at the taste and texture. He acceded to his own need to know more, to fully taste the banquet that his partner provided.

The dual assault was more than Ray could take. He felt his orgasm build, burning as he unloaded all he had into the encompassing warmth, coming harder than he could remember. Suckled until there was no more on offer, he didn't remember sliding down the wall or being cradled in his partner's arms.

Bodie lost himself in the concentrated scent and taste of Ray's groin. It was all he focused on, so when Ray erupted into his mouth he swallowed instinctively. Ray's groan of joy at release pushed Bodie over his own edge unassisted.

He caught Ray as he slid down the wall, out on his feet. Bodie took a few steady breaths, then got Ray over to the sofa and closed his jeans. He went to the loo to clean himself.

The kettle whistle brought Doyle awake. Bodie fixed the tea then and carried the fresh brew into the front room and handed Doyle his cup.

Doyle watched Bodie, trying to frame a question when the phone rang.

Bodie answered, "Bodie."

"3.7, I need you and 4.5 back here on Wednesday."

Bodie mouthed Cowley to Doyle before he answered, "We're already on assignment, sir." He felt compelled to remind his boss of his forgetfulness.

"This is a short job and will work in fine within your larger mission. Eight a.m. Wednesday. Here." Cowley rang off without anything further.

"When?" the voice beside him asked.

"Wednesday morning."

"I'll leave Tuesday. We shouldn't be coming and going together just yet."

"We'll be able to hear the gossips all the way to London, we will."

"Betcha you hear `em here, mate," Doyle laughed.

"All ready can, sunshine, all ready can." Bodie chuckled, too. He sat on the couch across from Doyle and sipped his tea.

Doyle watched him lick a spot a tea from the edge of his mouth. Seeing the tongue action reminded him where that tongue had been and what it did. Bodie had been right, he was now aware of him physically. Ray looked at his partner, searching for something he couldn't identify. He spoke, hoping he'd figure it out, "Was good, Bodie."

"We aim to please," Bodie's voice and face gave nothing away, not even to the one who knew him best.

"We should go over this awareness thing," Doyle began, knowing he should reciprocate.

"Tomorrow, too knackered now." Bodie paused, he put all the casualness he could into his voice, "I can make up another bed or we could practice sleeping together."

"Don't need practice for that, mate, we've shared a bed many a time," Doyle scoffed as he reminded his partner of that fact.

Again, with the blandest of tones, "I was thinking more along the lines of "sleeping" together. No clothes, get comfortable with it." He got up to check the door locks and turn off the overhead light.

Doyle was set to complain, then thought how few times one saw Bodie uncovered. He may feel the need to `practice'. "Fine, but I want the right side of the bed, as usual."

Bodie moved to switch off the lamp. "Sleep on the left anyway." He walked to the door waiting for Doyle to follow. Together they headed to the master bedroom.

A smile touched the corner of Bodie's mouth as he watched his partner disrobe. The cast off clothes made a trail to the bathroom. Bodie picked them up, folding them before he laid them over the back of the chair next to his.

He waited his turn to shower and grinned in response to Ray's saucy expression as he raced past to dive under the sheets. Bodie thought about shaving but decided against it. He didn't want to have to get into that habit each night. Ray would have to get use to it.

He slipped between the covers and turned on his side, turning away from Doyle. Ray did the same, then they both shifted closer to the bed centre.

With backs touching, Doyle commented, "You're like a bed heater."

"Heard that before."

"'S nice," Doyle let sleep claim him.

Bodie woke because he couldn't move, both his arms and legs were tangled with Ray's. He stopped his own movements when the pleasure at the feel of Ray's body registered. He savoured the pleasure until he felt Ray waking. He watched Ray fight it, then when he finally conceded, he stretched sinuously and Bodie found he had to dampen his ardour at the sensual display.

After the stretch, Doyle grinned at his male bed partner, "There are perks to this assignment, I don't have to explain a morning hardie."

"That problem can be remedied in no time," Bodie replied affably just before he sucked in Doyle's cock to its root.

Doyle arched up and cried out in pleasure. As Bodie worked him, he wanted to think about why this got him going so fast but the thought process became difficult to hold on to. He grabbed the pillow instead and lost himself in the sensations taking over his body, clamouring for release. He emptied himself in three long pulses that left him drained.

Ray thought he heard the word `delicious', but it could have been a lingering memory from his dream. With a deep sigh, "I can't believe how good that feels." Doyle's eyes were closed and he missed the pleased expression on his partner's face.

With the taste and scent of Ray still fresh, Bodie jerked off in the shower. He didn't dwell on why the taste of Ray was such a powerful turn on; he just utilised it as he worked himself.

As he picked out clean clothes he couldn't help his pleased satisfaction in seeing that Ray was still out from his work. A stomach rumble sent Bodie in the direction of the kitchen.

Doyle woke to the aroma of coffee. After he showered and gobbled down the breakfast his partner had on the table they decided on a day outside but away from the town.

They drove about the countryside to familiarise themselves. Next, they hiked about, creating trails and establishing a running route. They tried it out that afternoon and the next three mornings.

During these morning runs, they talked. Their long-term familiarity, greatly enhanced by the newly added sex, spilled over into their communication. They both shared parts of their childhood never spoken of before to others. They spoke of good and bad memories of the initial forays into dating. After the laughter died down, they both extracted promises that these tales would not be spoken of elsewhere. They talked of teachers and past friends still held in high regard, of enemies not forgotten. They reached a new level in friendship that neither would be willing to easily give up.

They ate dinner in town and unexpectedly ran into Foley on Sunday night. He showed them the only real gay club in town, the Pendragon, a club that wasn't just a meat market.

After the waiter brought their drinks, Jason turned to the two CI5 agents. "I don't know how you did it, but you did. You guys sizzle. You two may get hit on here," Jason warned as some friends approached the table.

"Not a problem, we're in a relationship." Bodie told Foley, then smiled at the newcomers.

Jason made introduction, but they didn't stay long as Bodie played with Doyle's hair and Ray leaned into the caress.

Jason laughed, "If I hadn't met you blokes earlier this week, I'd never know."

Doyle nodded, "Thank you, mate." He took the compliment for them both.

Doyle confided that they would be out of town for a week possibly two, but that they would be working on the case, nonetheless. They reconfirmed their next meeting before they separated.

Ray left midday on Tuesday. Bodie helped him clear out his room and they made a public goodbye scene. Bodie stood off to the side as he watched Ray drive out of sight.

Emma took in the dejected figure of Mr Bodie and hustled out the door to intercept him. "Mr Bodie, I was just heading to Charlie's for a cuppa. Come with me." It wasn't a question but more in line of an order. Emma knew that she could get Charlie to brew her some tea.

Bodie let himself be dragged along. It's what Emma expected from him.

Bodie opted for a beer as Charlie placed a cup of tea in front of Emma. Bodie laid the money out but Charlie wouldn't take it.

Emma sipped her tea as she eyed the good-looking man across from her, she asked boldly, "He coming back?"

Bodie gave her a genuine smile, "Yes, Mrs Greene, Ray Doyle will return. He has a shoot in Paris. Actually, I leave tomorrow for London. I have a short assignment. I meant to take a longer break, and I still hope to do so."

Emma beamed. She was happy that Mr Bodie's Ray would be returning and that the reticent man had designed to share his plans as well. He was not known as their enigmatic loner for nothing.

Bodie just made it into Cowley's office by the eight o'clock deadline. Doyle handed over a hot coffee and Swiss roll. Bodie smiled his thanks as their boss launched into their additional assignment.

3.7 and 4.5 hated diplomatic babysitting. They considered it a waste of valuable time. They had to stand around looking menacing while at the same time they'd have to be accommodating. 3.7 could enjoy the menacing part and he left the accommodating part to his partner.

They used the slack time to continue the research into the Brentby town residents. Cowley had his staff locating the surviving partners, Peter Quinn, John Westfield and Gideon York.

Murphy and Jax would take the graveyard shift so Bodie and Doyle could catch some shuteye, but they had to stay at the hotel for that. Neither man got to sleep in his own bed.

The airport drop-off of their diplomatic responsibility found both men with genuine smiles upon their faces.

"Nearest pub?" Bodie asked as they neared the car park.

"You buyin'?"

"I'm buyin'."

"I'm drinking."

Bodie pulled onto the motorway. They drank, had supper then headed back to headquarters to finish up their reports.

Betty handed Doyle a folder before they entered Cowley's office. He flipped through it, "They found two of the three surviving partners. We can set up interviews." Doyle looked up at Bodie.

Bodie's nod showed his agreement to his partner's plan. He held the door open for Ray and closed it behind them.

Cowley grudgingly complemented their work and then asked what was taking so long on their other case. Bodie just grinned and Doyle explained that they had some interviews to conduct.

"Not in Brentby."

"No, sir. Bodie's still the town pet. The interviews are here in London with two of the surviving partners." Ray explained as his partner remained silent.

"Aye, fine then. What are you still doing here?"

Bodie stood, still smiling, "Running all the way, sir." He followed Doyle out of the office.

After arranging both interviews for the following day they each headed to their flats.

Looking forward to a night in his own abode, Bodie located an accommodating bird but found himself less than appeased. During inappropriate moments Bodie discovered that he missed the scent and taste of his own delectable partner. He slept alone for the rest of this stay in London.

Doyle honked. Bodie locked the door and hurried down to Doyle's vehicle. They stopped for coffee before heading to Manchester.

"What do we know about Westfield?" They had read a lot of bios, sifted through a lot of people, Doyle wanted to be fresh on the facts.

`Thirty nine, cardiologist, gay."

"Which dead man was his partner?"

"Gordon Bentley. Thirty five."

"What did he do?"

"Physical therapy. Different hospital than his paramour."


Bodie sipped his coffee before he recited, "Gordon Bentley. Never been arrested, no parking tickets, upstanding family. Seems his only blemish was being bent."

"How exactly did he die?"

"Couldn't our serial killer establish a pattern?" he asked as he flipped through the doctor's reports. "This one was electrocuted in the bath."


Doyle stopped the Capri in front of a house in a quiet residential neighbourhood. While not ostentatious, it was an upscale dwelling.

Bodie exited the passenger side and stood at the front of the vehicle. He waited for his partner to radio their stop. He quickly checked out the rest of the neighbourhood, the different motors spoke of money. Doyle joined him and they walked to the front door.

Doyle rang the bell. The door opened almost immediately.

A slender blond man looked inquiringly at them.

"Mr Westfield? John Westfield?" Doyle asked politely.

"Yes, that's me," he nodded.

"We called. That's Bodie, I'm Doyle.

"Oh, yes, please, come in."

They followed Westfield across the foyer to a living room that could double as a sunroom.

"Tea? Coffee?" Westfield offered.

"Tea, thanks," answered Bodie.

"Tea's fine," Doyle seconded.

Westfield left them as he went to the kitchen to fetch the offered libations.

Bodie raised an eyebrow and Doyle answered with a shrug. They had expected a cardiologist to have a housekeeper.

The doctor returned with a tray laden with a teapot, cups, milk and sugar. He placed it on the teakwood coffee table and acted mother.

Taking his prepared cup, Bodie started. "At the time of York's death, you were living in Brentby?"

"Yes, we had a summer house." The memory seemed to take some of the light out of his eyes.

"Do you still live there?"

"No, I sold it...after. The memories there were particularly difficult."

"Oh, because that's where he died," Doyle stated sympathetically.

"Why do you ask?" Westfield asked, not wanting to drum up that painful time.

"We're looking into it," Bodie replied.

"Police?" The two men before him didn't seem like typical policemen.

"No, friends of Jason Foley." Doyle used some of the truth.

"Ah," Westfield understood Foley's political connections. "The local police took a report, but not much more."

"Why do you think?" Bodie feigned.

"Because, well, because he...we're homosexuals. The coppers didn't say so but they thought it was enough of a reason."

"Why did you have a home in Brentby?" Doyle made the inquiry casual.

"It was a comfortable place to live."

"Gay friendly?" Bodie probed.

"Yes, if you want to put it that way." Westfield shrugged, it had been comfortable, he hadn't thought on the why. His profession allowed him more freedom. As long as he could operate on problem hearts no one really cared how he lived.

"Who there seemed particularly interested in you?" Bodie continued the mild questioning.

Westfield smiled, "Emma Greene. She probably knows more than the police do about what's what in that town."

"The grocer, yes, lovely lady," Bodie agreed.

The cardiologist nodded and added, "Charlie Turnbill. He also keeps a close tab on the town. But, honestly, they were friendly ones, he and Emma, encouraged our custom."

"Exactly how did Gordon die? All the report said was electrocuted. Didn't say how." Doyle changed the line of questioning.

"Yes, he was electrocuted. In the bathtub... with a toaster."


"Yes, but the oddest thing was that Gordon abhorred toast. He liked buttered bread. The police didn't think it odd that a non-toast eating man would die by toaster. The fact that we didn't even own one was beside the point." His tone was quite dry.

"A kitchen appliance in the loo didn't raise the local copper's curiosity?" Bodie was quite dry himself.

"One policeman muttered it was probably a homosexual idiosyncrasy."

"Is it on the books as murder?" Doyle asked.

"No," this time the tone was bitter, "They said by accident or on purpose, meaning suicide." Westfield then sneered, "They said it couldn't be murder because I was out of the country."

Doyle frowned. Bodie's expression was non-committal, but his partner knew that his mind was sifting details.

"You were the only murder suspect." Bodie stated, wanting to draw Westfield out more.

"They claimed that it's usually a spurned lover that kills his lover." His inflection implied gay lover. "As I was in New York at a conference, they did check, they ruled out murder. They couldn't prove suicide, so they left it open."

"Did they now? Humm." Bodie's tone was purposely bland.

"Where that town might be lifestyle friendly, the local constabulary are not." Westfield added bluntly.

Doyle said nothing, but the pensive look told Bodie what he was thinking. Doyle hated bent coppers. It befouled the name of all coppers.

"Which is why we're looking into it," Bodie disclosed.

"What can you do?"

"Maybe tie the other suspicious deaths together and get a real investigation done." Doyle introduced the other deaths for reaction.

The doctor froze mid-action in pouring, his eyes squinted, "You mean Martin's death?"

"Yes, and Bradley Sorenson and Anthony Morton's as well."



The teapot thumped hard against the coffee table as Westfield nearly dropped it. His shock was evident as he made eye contact, "All gay men?"

"Yes. We actually believe it's the work of one person."

"A homophobic serial killer?" He was a tad incredulous.

"Possibly." Bodie gave nothing away.

"Why hasn't the media plastered this on the front pages?"

"They don't know about it, or haven't tied it together. We only looked into it because of Foley." Doyle was honest about how they got involved.

Westfield looked at the two men as he thought over the ramifications of this startling information. "Ask whatever you like, anything to help you. My word!"

"Actually, what might be best, would for us to speak with the other partners and then compare notes for similarities."

"Collectively, we hope to draw parallels, find a pattern, maybe some reasons, then we can stop a future death."

"You think there will be another?" Westfield didn't want to believe it.

"There could be. A serial killer will most likely want to kill again." Doyle told him honestly.

"That's what we hope to prevent." Bodie stated simply.

"How can I help?" Westfield offered.

"What we do need now, your word that you won't speak of this to anyone." Doyle implored.

Affected by the serious demeanour of both men, John Westfield agreed.

With a promise of an update and future conversation for help, the CI5 agents headed to their next interview. Gideon York.

Gideon York was what Bodie would call flamboyantly gay. He was just short of lisping with a bent wrist. His high energy and cheerfulness made him hard to dislike.

He ushered in Jason's friends and without asking, served tea, chatting all the while he prepared it.

Cup in hand he asked, "And you're here because...?"

Doyle smiled, he liked the exuberant young man. "Jason thought you might be able to help us."

Gideon looked pointedly at the two good-looking men and shook his head, "You two don't need dates, you're already together."

Bodie's smiled never faltered, but he examined the man before him more closely. He may appear addled or flighty, but his eyes were sharp, he had read their body language. He already knew it wasn't a social call.

"We think that Sorenson was killed by the same person that killed Fane."

"Bloody hell!" York put his cup down and looked speculatively at Bodie, then Doyle. "You don't seem like policemen."

"We're not exactly. Jason came to us. He was bothered at how Martin's death was handled." Doyle confessed a version of the truth.

"Oh, like a man gets hung by a belt in his own wardrobe with his wrists bound and it's considered suicide?" The sarcasm leaked through clearly into York's voice.

"Yeah, something like that," Bodie answered ruefully. He looked at his partner, "All that was not included in the official police report."

"How was it considered a suicide? A note?" Doyle asked York for clarification.

"No, coppers claimed erotic asphyxiation. It didn't matter that Bradley didn't go for that. He was gay and it was enough for them. They thought I was trying to protect a non-existent honour. Damn, I hated those coppers." York sat back considerably subdued.

Bodie took out his note pad as Doyle asked, "Tell us what you can remember about the crime scene."

York brightened, "That sounds so fucking official. I love it and it's such a turn on. It's too bad you fellas are already together. Do you play about?"

"No, we're exclusive." Bodie declared rather forcibly.


"Were you and Brad?" Bodie asked. He could feel Ray's eyes on him and he didn't want to meet his inquisitive ones. He wasn't sure why he wanted to bust York's face for suggesting such a thing, and he surly didn't need his partner to read any of that on his face. He kept his eyes on Gideon York.

"Bradley. He hated the short version." York paused as he tapped his upper lip before answering, "Candidly, no. But we wanted it that way. We were a good match, could live together. There were times we wanted to be wild and bad, other partners kept things exciting. There was nothing stale in our love life."

"And you're sure Bradley felt this way, maybe he might have longed for...."

Before Doyle could finish Gideon broke in, "Not a chance, love. Ask around, he was one of the wildest. We were together because I could accept that part of him. We played, then came home to roost. It worked for us. I miss him."

Doyle glanced over at his partner and Bodie blinked slowly. Doyle knew that meant that his partner believed York. Bodie was good at that.

"Right, then. The crime scene, you found him." Doyle pushed on.

York nodded as he slumped deeper into his chair.

Bodie broke in seeing that they were about to lose York to his despair. "Imagine the scene but don't look at the body. What did the rest of the room look like?"

York brightened somewhat as he tried to play. "It was a specialised dressing room. Lights were off. Very neat and orderly." York took a deep breath, "Except where Bradley was."

"What was the other end of the belt attached to?" Doyle queried.

"The umbrella hook."

"Eh?" Doyle raised his brows.

York waved his hand high in the air, "We had several high hooks for our umbrellas. To keep them out of the way." At the puzzled looks he stood, "I'll show you." He led them upstairs to the bedroom wardrobe. "We had several there. I only have the one here. Bradley had many umbrellas, to match his clothes."

The CI5 men noted the strong simple hook situated close to the ceiling.

"And the belt was hanging off it? Not the usual place for a belt?" Bodie inquired.

"Umbrellas have long stems, easy to place and retrieve. A belt? Need a ladder, love." York turned off the lights and led the agents back down to the front room. "It wasn't suicide."

With assurance that they could return with additional questions the CI5 men returned to London.

Bodie picked up his partner the following morning. The newly attached tow-hitch fit perfectly with Ray's bike trailer. They were bringing two motorbikes to Brentby.

First stop in town was the grocers to pick up the post. Bodie entered with his arm about Ray's shoulders. They both thought they could hear Emma's sigh of delight.

Emma was indeed very pleased to see the returning resident with his lover. She was hoping that his solitary days were over. She hit them with a barrage of questions and they responded with their rehearsed answers. After she had ferreted out enough details to satisfy the others she bestowed Bodie with sandwich fixings and a fresh baked pie.

They got the motorbikes off loaded first thing and then unpacked their clothes. Doyle had brought up a lot more clothing for an extended stay this time.

They searched for additions that weren't CI5 sanctioned. Both came up empty.

"I'm hungry, mate, "Bodie complained.

"When aren't you?" Doyle chided.

Rolling his eyes as his only answer, he asked instead, "How `bout a public picnic? Use the food that Emma gave us."

Doyle shrugged and figured that they may as well jump back into their characters on a full time basis. "Lead on, McDuff." With an elaborate hand flurry, Ray indicated that Bodie precede him.

Bodie parked the Ghia at the edge of town and waved to those that greeted him. A few called out greetings to Doyle, also, and he returned them exuberantly.

"Spent too much time with York, you did, that was just like him." Bodie told his partner teasingly.

Ray chuckled throatily, " `Tis what I was aiming for, mate."

"Done yourself proud."

"Do you get the feeling we're being watched?" Doyle asked, looking about casually.

"All the time, mate. Hard not to in this town."

"Really being watched."

A nod, "Yeah, that feeling that the hair on the back of your neck is on end. Had it since we got into town. Somebody's finally taking note."

"But who? The people seem decent, no one stands out." Frustration was evident in the whispered voice.

"We just have to look at it differently."

"Start fresh when we get back to the house." Doyle received a nod from his partner.

Bodie grabbed the picnic things in one hand and Doyle's hand in the other. They picked their way across the meadow and stopped just as they hit the grove of trees.

Bodie set up the rug so he could lean his back against a tree trunk. It would allow him visibility to check the way they'd come without seeming obvious about it. He passed his partner the sandwiches and pickles as he opened their lagers.

"This is a nice town, it is hard to believe that one of these folks is a serial killer."

"You know as well as I that looks can be deceiving," Bodie told him as he checked the area without turning his head.

Doyle scoffed, "You've got most of the town wrapped around your finger already." Doyle teased him further, "I think they'd marry you off if they didn't think you were bent."

"I haven't chatted up anyone here, "Bodie answered indignantly.

" `Em sure plenty have tried it on with you."

Bodie nodded reluctantly, "A few."

Doyle grinned, "They think you've been hurt and retreated. I've been warned a dozen times already; Mr Bodie's a special one, don't hurt `em," he mimicked.

Bodie chuckled aloud, but he found himself hoping the same thing himself, though he wasn't sure why.

They ate most all the food provided. Bodie put the leftovers into the cooler and suggested a walk along the forest edge. He grabbed Doyle's hand.

Doyle pulled it back, "You don't have to do that here, mate."

Bodie put his hand out again, "We know we're being watched. It's what I'd do if I was doing it for real."

Doyle shook his head at the affected pouty look and held out his hand. Bodie took it, pulled him up and close to his side.

Ray Doyle found himself amazed once again at his partner's diverse knowledge. Bodie pointed out the birds, the ones with real feathers and added some natural history.

Bodie stepped up behind Ray and draped an arm over his shoulder as he pointed out a badger he wanted him to see through the field glasses. He whispered in his ear, "I've seen a glint off glass three times in the last quarter hour.

"You sure we're the ones under watch? Not one of those fine creatures you were pointing out?"

"Humm," he nosed just under Doyle's ear, "That would be my guess." He turned Ray's face toward his and kissed him.

Not a passionate kiss, just a lazy investigation. Tongues danced without duelling. Taste was shared and curiosity indulged, as in turn, each explored the other.

Bodie brought his hand up to Ray's neck, he caressed it, then with spread fingers, moved up into the auburn curls. The taste and scent of Ray filled Bodie, he felt he'd been without it for too long and the easy kiss changed as passion infused it. His heart rate quickened, his blood flowed faster and his cock filled. He felt Ray's hand clutch his neck and Bodie realised he wanted to eat Ray Doyle.

For all his enjoyment, Bodie couldn't forget they were being watched. He didn't want to lose control with an audience. He broke the kiss and hugged Ray, asking in a whisper, "Can you pick out anyone?"

Neither could. Bodie pointed out wildlife in every direction as they checked the area more closely. Unsuccessful, Bodie led his amused partner back to their rug. He pulled out another lager for both him and Ray before sitting down. He leaned his back against the tree and pulled Ray between his legs. Ray's back against his chest, Bodie pulled him closer and pointed to a visible bird's nest.

Bodie enjoyed the feel of Ray pressed back against him, it felt like home. He didn't want to analyse why, he just savoured the feeling.

Ray was sleepy and he leaned back against the comfortable backrest that Bodie made.

Bodie whispered by his ear, "We're still being watched."

"Humm," was the only reply.

Bodie gave into impulse and nuzzled Ray's face before he kissed his temple. "A small demo?" Bodie asked as Ray shifted closer.


Bodie teased Ray's ear with his tongue. Ray pushed back against him and exposed more of his neck for consideration. The contact, the surrender, both excited Bodie on a higher level. He felt himself swell, pressing tightly against the zipper of his trousers.

He turned Ray's head and claimed his lips. Cradling Doyle's head on his shoulder, he explored the open mouth, searching for what gave Ray the most pleasure. The taste quickly captured him and he plundered the moist warmth ravenously.

Bodie was on the edge of losing himself in Doyle and he didn't want to relinquish all control, so he concentrated on just Ray's pleasure. With that focus, he could prevent his taking of Ray right there in the meadow and staking his claim.

His hand moved inside Ray's shirt, caressing the furry chest. He teased the nipples to taut peaks and travelled the lines and plains of his chest and abdomen. Bodie sucked Ray's ear lobe before nibbling the exposed neck. As he tongued the throat base, his hand moved downward to palm the visible bulge in the tight fitting jeans

No motion or sound stopped him, so Bodie worked the jeans closure open and slipped his hand inside. Doyle reacted instinctively, moving into the hand, striving for more contact.

The little mews from Doyle told Bodie that his partner was lost in the sensations. Bodie gripped Ray's hard erection in his hand as though it were his own. He knew where to touch, how to touch to get the most pleasure. When the moans turned to groans of real need, Bodie stopped playing and worked the slick hardness seriously.

He pulled Ray tighter to him, letting Ray set the rhythm as he rocked into his hand. Ray threw back his head in orgasm, pushing hard against Bodie's crotch as he pulsed into the enveloping hand.

Drained, he relaxed back against his partner, lost in the climatic aftermath. Doyle was unaware that his explosive orgasm triggered Bodie's own climatic release. Bodie licked his hand clean, loving the taste of Ray. While his sated partner dozed, Bodie cleaned Ray with several napkins and closed his jeans.

The feeling of being watched was gone and the experienced lover realised as he nuzzled behind his partner's ear that this interlude had been one of the most intense of his life. Not given to too much introspection, Bodie shelved it away for later. He dozed with Doyle firmly in his arms.

A small demo? Doyle didn't want to think about it. He put it down to his undercover ability of staying in character. He didn't want to dwell on the fact that he came, loudly, in possible public view and he hadn't cared one wit. Instead, he pushed his thoughts to the assignment: this at least should put them on somebody's list. Sleepy, he snuggled deeper into the warm embrace.

They woke to a waning sun and chilly air. They gathered their belongings and headed back to the car.

As they loaded everything into the boot, Doyle noted the companionable silence. Bodie was different than a bird. He laughed at himself, of course Bodie was different than a bird, but he meant he was different in his reactions. Most birds would want to be talking about it. The afternoon interlude was just that and it didn't need a lot of deep pondering. A bird wouldn't let it go, but Bodie would, he'd never speak of it. A good mate he was, he'd make sure they got as many perks out of this assignment as he could.

He was ignoring the fact the he couldn't stop thinking about it, dealing with how easy he got off. He hadn't been that randy, so he shifted his thoughts to Bodie once more. He couldn't recall if his partner had got off, wasn't like him to forget that part. He was distracted from his thoughts by the sound of the garage door opening. They were back at the house.

Bodie headed for the shower as Doyle put the leftover food away. When Bodie emerged with water drops still on his neck, Doyle asked, "Wanna go for a run?"

Bodie shrugged and said, "Sure." He donned his running clothes and met up with a stretching Doyle out back.

They ran the route they'd set up the last time. A companionable run that helped keep their bodies toned. Bodie kept his thoughts focused on the run itself; Doyle's thoughts scattered about through a myriad of topics. He settled on work.

"We need to interview Foley."

"You know what the Cow said," Bodie reminded his partner.

"Yeah, yeah, treat him with kid gloves, but we need more details. It's obvious that the police reports have left out more than they convey."

"You noticed that, did you?" Bodie didn't have a high opinion of the police.

"Yeah, yeah, but they're not bent," Doyle thought he should point out.

"Just homophobic and lazy."

"What about the coroner's court hearing? That should have taken place, it was an unexpected death." The ex-copper knew procedure.

"It was ruled accidental, so a hearing probably took place," Bodie reasoned. "Maybe they didn't bother with a report?"

"So we talk with Foley? Maybe he knows of a report, " Doyle went back to his original topic.

"Yeah, we talk with Foley."

They would have to be patient. They put in a call as soon as they returned to the house, but Foley was out of town on business and wasn't due back for a fortnight. They had to wait and play lovers on holiday.

The days took on a pattern. Breakfast, a run and lunch in town. They talked with different folk each day and always ended up at Charlie's. Emma would be there, too, and she'd kept them abreast of all the current comings and goings. Afternoons were spent motorbiking, hiking or just a light workout in Bodie's spare bedroom that had been turned into an exercise room. Not quite gym calibre but enough to keep both men occupied.

Evenings were spent in town or eating takeaway in front of the box. There were a few home-cooked meals left by Mrs Hooper. After Bodie's sincere thanks, he had found new casseroles each week. They did manage to squeeze in reading the town profiles but were no further along in their investigation.

Doyle enjoyed the break. He thought that Bodie was looking rested as well. They had come off a long series of ops and this extended case was allowing for some downtime.

The only difficulty was being watched and having to stay in undercover character all the time. This led Ray to an area of thought he was trying to avoid.

Each time he woke, middle of the night or morning, he found his groin covered by Bodie's hand. The thumb and index ringed his cock, flaccid or full and the rest of the hand gently cupped his testicles. Their legs were usually entwined and a nose was pressed against his neck. Even in sleep like this, it was as if Bodie was protecting him.

It was now a morning ritual and it was exquisite. Doyle always feigned sleep, afraid that if he woke first it would be broken. No words were spoken and they didn't speak of it during the day. It was all part of the undercover.

The sensations were like none other before and he didn't know how to explain it to himself, but he was hedonist enough not to deny himself this pleasure.

His morning erection, fuelled by Bodie's fingers, was hard and leaking each time. The thumb movement would spread the moisture about the head, as Bodie's tongue would work its way down from his neck. The tongue would tease his nipples as it passed his chest.

The slicked thumb would move to cover the darkened vein and pressed just enough to elicit a moan but not enough to satisfy. Ray's hips would arch up, seeking more. Bodie always took his time. His tongue continued its downward path, exploring all the way.

Then the moment that happened each time, and each time like a surprise, Ray's sex was swallowed deep into Bodie's mouth. `How does he do this?' always floated at the edge of conscious thought, but he would quickly be lost in the sensations the activity wrought.

The sucking action, the tongue swirls, all designed to make the recipient lose it. And Ray did, he never lasted as long as desired. He'd arch up one last time with a heartfelt groan and give up all he had to Bodie's willing mouth. Each time it left him boneless and each time he could find nothing to complain about.

It was well into the fourth week back that Doyle had to face that he was a selfish bastard. In the two months plus that he had been actively involved with this op he had not once reciprocated in their sex acts. He hadn't even stopped to check if Bodie was getting off. A bird would have shot him by now.

He couldn't figure why Bodie hadn't said anything, but then as he thought on it, Ray Doyle realised that Bodie always put up with more from him than anyone else. Bodie really was his best mate. He'd have to ask him why.

"Figured you couldn't. Not all blokes can." Bodie's voice held no censure.

Doyle opted for some honesty. "You lay me out flat. By the time I hit ground, the bed's empty. Didn't think I should shout, hey, you want me to make ya come? Figured one or both of us would be embarrassed."

Bodie's look didn't tell Ray anything.

He plodded on, "Regardless of what it seems like thus far, I don't want to just take pleasure, I want to give it, too." Doyle saw, but couldn't interpret that flash of emotion that crossed the impassive face before it was gone.

"Told you, what we do is up to you," Bodie reminded his partner in an off-hand manner.

"Then, I want to."

Bodie shrugged before moving to the kitchen, trying to show an indifference he was far from feeling. He found he craved for Doyle's hands to caress his body. He held himself in firm check while Ray deliberated. He didn't hear Ray move up behind him.

Doyle placed a hand at his partner's back, jerking Bodie back to the present.

"Come to bed, Bodie. Let me show you I mean what I say." Doyle led his partner to the bedroom.

Ray felt an urgency to complete this. It puzzled him. Was it because he was afraid that he'd chicken out? Did he have something to prove to Bodie? That he was just as capable of doing whatever necessary undercover as was Bodie?

Doyle didn't really think so. Yes, he was competitive, even petty at times, but that didn't seem to be what was driving him. Was it just curiosity, then?


Doyle thought of himself as having a sensual nature, and pleasures of the flesh, as long as consensual, had few boundaries. But, and it was a big but, he had not dabbled much into same sex liaisons. Too much baggage and secrecy involved. He had been honest with Bodie as to his lack of real experience in that area.

But truth told, Bodie had elicited some intense reactions from him, so there must be more to same sex passion than he had estimated.

Doyle knew he was a fast learner and he could duplicate anything that Bodie had tried on him. The smell wouldn't detract, but he wasn't sure he could swallow. He'd chance it though, for Bodie.

Bodie removed the quilt from the bed and the corner hit Doyle's calf, jostling him out of his reverie. Ray found himself staring at an aroused Bodie.

"Shouldn't be anything you haven't seen before, sunshine." Bodie knew Ray had been lost in thought. Probably trying to marshal the courage to follow through on his own suggestion.

"You keep telling me you're gorgeous and I was just double checking your facts." Doyle smiled and beckoned Bodie to bed.

Doyle was again surprised at how hot Bodie made him in such a short time and set out to return the favour.

He started with touch. He ran his hands down Bodie's torso, down his legs, just skimming his testicles and bobbing erection.

Bodie responded with gasps and throaty sounds. Doyle couldn't believe how pleased he was by that. He worked at getting more. He used his tongue next, behind the ears, down the neck, across his shoulders, coming to a stop at the protruding nipples.

He laved them slowly, as though a cat, he sucked, nipped and licked as if he had to inspect every curve of the jutting bud. He treated its mate to the same extensive examination before travelling south.

In his first few forays in art school Doyle had always used his hand. He'd used his mouth on the birds but this was different and he hoped he didn't blow it now. He was amused by his own pun and absentmindedly licked at the escaping moisture.

The reaction of the body beneath his was more than he could have hoped for. Timidity forgotten, he guided the entire head into his mouth. Ray cupped the taut sacs as he drew more in. On his second deep suck with an added tongue swirl, Bodie erupted with several long, hard pulses. Doyle swallowed at first but couldn't keep up and half the fluid seed spilled out, flowing between Bodie's legs.

Ray was pleased with himself, it hadn't tasted bad at all and Bodie's vocal pleasure had made it well worth the effort. Bodie's response of yelling his name left Ray fever-pitched and he moved to thrust against Bodie's thigh to bring himself off.

Bodie shifted him up, "Like this." His throaty voice arousing Ray more.

Bodie trapped Ray's cock firm between his semen-coated thighs and squeezed hard. Ray groaned and rocked in the tight channel that Bodie created. He set his own rhythm and it didn't take much. His own climax was explosive and he collapsed atop his partner without thought of comfort.

Ray went from a sated state to a deep sleep. Bodie shifted his partner off and padded to the bathroom to get a wet flannel. He cleaned Ray and himself before snuggling into his partner's backside.

The splatter of rain on the shutters woke Bodie. He stretched his calves, trying not to disturb the still slumbering form next to him. The movement didn't wake Ray, just caused him to snuggle closer, burrowing his face into Bodie's neck.

The ex-mercenary sighed; he knew he was in big trouble. He now had a serious, even dangerous situation to contend with.

He was happy.

He was undercover, playing a part. This wasn't real, but his being didn't care. He was content and happy.

He was in deep shit.

He could get up and fret or he could continue to lie with Ray in his arms for as long as it lasted. He chose the later. He moulded himself even closer to Ray and fell back asleep.

The front door opening had both men reaching for guns that weren't there. Bodie shushed Ray and cocked his head, listening.

"Mrs Hooper. Cleaning lady." He turned to look Ray in the eyes, "Ready to be discovered, sunshine?"

"If getting off in a meadow midday didn't tarnish my rep, being in bed with my lover certainly won't."

"That episode wasn't spread about town, this will be," Bodie warned.

"Well, let's make it a good showing." Doyle's grin was naughty and lascivious.

"I'm up for that," Bodie deadpanned.

Doyle racked his eyes over his bedmate, "I can see that."

Doyle took the lead. He stretched out atop Bodie, moving enough to spread the leaking pre-come for slick movement. He kissed Bodie, exploring the other's mouth uninhibitedly, discovering unknown treasures.

Bodie gripped Ray's buttocks, pulling their groins closer, Ray controlled the rhythm and they moved as one.

The trained professionals were so lost within the sensations that neither noticed the door open or their audience.

Mrs Hooper stood silently and watched, wondering if they'd take note of her presence. After a full minute, she picked up the waste paper basket and left the room, closing the door behind her.

She had dusted the front room, cleaned the kitchen and was starting the laundry when the two freshly shaved and dressed men entered the kitchen.

Bodie spied the fresh baked treats and exclaimed as he reached for one, "Cinnamon rolls, ah, what a treasure you are, love." He gave her a full watt smile before he stuffed his mouth.

Mrs Hooper smiled her indulgence as they scarfed down her treat.

Ray thanked her as he made the tea. "You spoil him, these are his favourites."

" `E could do with a bit of spoilin', see that you remember that, laddie."

Ray nodded, feeling like he had been warned yet again by another member of this town.

After the housekeeper headed for the bedroom for the rest of the laundry, Ray turned to his partner, "Just what did you do to make this whole bloody town so protective of you?"

"Just my natural charm, sunshine," Bodie sounded very self satisfied. "And it's only part of the town."

Doyle stopped pouring and looked directly at his partner.

Bodie shrugged and added with a soft voice, "I played the lonely man, didn't talk to hardly anyone."

"No chat ups?"

"None, I was waiting for you, I was."

"I can see your taste is finally improving." Doyle handed Bodie his tea and another cinnamon roll. That ended the immediate conversation.

They yelled their thanks and good-byes to Mrs Hooper, then headed to town for their meet with Foley

Jason Foley still found it difficult to talk about his partner's death. He couldn't speak Martin's name without his voice breaking. Both Doyle and Bodie used more tact than usual for either.

"Jason, we've learned from speaking with Westfield and York that the police reports were less than complete. We need details only you can provide." Doyle appealed to the person that started this whole investigation. "Was a coroner's court hearing held?"

"Yes, if you could call it that. The District Chief Inspector presented it as though the findings were in cement. The judge concurred." Foley's tone doubted the veracity of those findings.

"The press must have been present?" Bodie inquired.

"Yes, but the local press just ran a one liner about the toaster. You see, Lord Donavan Ratcliff stole the headlines as he and his entourage stayed in the area that week." Foley said with a pompous air.

"Can you recall the details of the day?" Doyle asked, hoping for a break through.

Foley turned his head away as if he could escape the memory.

Bodie tried the technique that he had on York. "Imagine the scene but don't look at the body. How did the room appear?"

"Neat and orderly...except where Martin was, but even that, in retrospect was not untidy," Foley remembered.


"Except for Martin and the horse, nothing was out of place."

"The horse?"

"A bronze statuette of his first horse. Always sat on the shelf closest to his shoulder," Jason clarified, "Only gift his parents ever gave him ... after they knew." Lost in the memory, it took a cough to regain his focus, "It was on the desk instead of the shelf." Jason covered his face while he controlled his emotions.

Bodie cocked an eyebrow, "You don't think...?"

Doyle was already nodding, on the same wavelength as his partner, "Yes, I do, mate." Doyle turned to the distraught man. "Jason, we need to go to the scene. Think you can handle it?"

Foley took a steadying breath, "Yes, I need to do this. I closed off that room, haven't been in it since the police cleared out. I want the person responsible punished."

Bodie and Doyle followed Foley to his home.

Foley's house was nice without being pretentious. He led them straight through to the master bedroom. Other than being dusty, it was immaculate.

"Sorry about the mess, I've only been back at the house because of the CI5 involvement. I'm not really living here, after this is settled I'm selling it. Too many memories," Foley explained as he looked out the window.

"Where's the horse?" Bodie asked after searching with his eyes and not locating it.

Foley moved to the desk, opened the centre drawer and extracted a key to open the left side. "I put it away. It was important to Martin."

"Did the police take it in?" Doyle inquired as he watched his partner examine it.

"No. Asked me to get it out of the way." Foley shrugged.

"Where did you find him?" Bodie asked as he moved about the large room.

"In the middle of the floor. Not close enough to have knocked himself out on any of the furniture as the police suggested."

"I thought it was a robbery?" Doyle remembered what was on the police report.

"Well, nothing was taken. The DC on duty said it was most likely an accident since nothing was missing."

"He accidentally hit himself on the back of the head with a bronze horse." Bodie shook his head in bewilderment.

"Did they know your connections?" Doyle thought not and Foley confirmed it. "Did they even conduct a murder investigation?" Doyle was visibly upset.

Bodie moved closer to his partner to run interference if necessary.

"It was ruled death by unknown misadventure. No instrument of death was found. On the official report death by unknown blunt force."

To distract Doyle from a rant about incompetent coppers, Bodie took out the only crime scene photo of the dead man. He concentrated on the wound. "Check the horse."

Doyle picked up the bronze stallion and looked at it closely before turning it on its side to compare the shape with the photo.

The CI5 men took in the statue and photo and silently agreed that this was indeed the murder weapon.

"We need to take this," Doyle explained, "We think this may be the murder weapon."

"Dear god. Yes, of course, take it." He looked away, "Damn."

"Did you ever get the impression you were being watched?" Bodie asked, again refocusing Foley.

"Frequently. I was never sure if it was due to my job, or Martin's or a gossipy thing or just a gay thing. We ignored it most of the time. Have you?"

"Yup, we're hoping someone has taken the bait, so to speak," Bodie confessed .

Jason gave them his private number. He was heading back to London; he had a case that needed his attention. Doyle figured that being at the house was too much for him.

"Bloody hell, Bodie, it's not making any sense. We're getting nowhere."

Bodie swung into traffic ignoring his partner's irritated tone. "We've got more than we had with just the police reports."

"Oh, now your gonna start with the bent coppers. Blame the whole thing on them, why don't ya?" Doyle vented his frustration on his usual target.

Bodie felt like ragging back, but that would have had the opposite effect desired, so he diverted his ire instead.

"We need to question Peter Quinn."

"Why hasn't he been found? We need to find some kind of pattern and the three we have talked to haven't provided any leads."

"Cluedo," Bodie smiled.

"Pardon?" Thought process broken, he sifted his memory for what Bodie had said. "Clues? Sadly lacking."

"No, Cluedo, board game. Colonel Mustard, in the drawing room with the rope. Sounds similar to our case."

Doyle shook his head, "You're a moron," then his expression changed as he played with Bodie's idea, "Yeah, we should."

Bodie couldn't believe that Ray wanted to break out a board game so he waited patiently instead, "Should?" he prodded.

"Yeah, like Walsh's puzzle board. Room, manner of death, et cetera, et cetera." He waved his hand around.

"Okay, Sherlock, let's set one up."

Bodie pulled into the driveway and Doyle led the way inside the house.

They worked all of the afternoon and early evening setting up their version of a puzzle board. Doyle put on the last of known information before he turned to his partner.

Bodie looked it over and read it aloud. "We have Gordon Bentley, electrocuted with a toaster in the bathroom. Was in an open gay relationship and lived in Brentby at the time of his death. The surviving partner, John Westfield."

Doyle read the second one aloud, "Bradley Sorenson, strangled with a belt in the wardrobe. Was in an open gay relationship and lived in Brentby at the time of his death. The surviving partner, Gideon York."

Bodie finished up the last. "Martin Fane, bludgeoned with a bronze statue in the bedroom. Was in an open gay relationship and lived in Brentby at the time of his death. The surviving partner, Jason Foley." Bodie cocked his head to the side, "I think we're dealing with a nutter, no logic this."

"Just a homophobe. Well, we need Anthony Morton's details. We know he was stabbed. We must find Peter Quinn. Morton was the first, maybe we'll see a pattern then, besides the obvious." Ray studied the board.

"It'd make a great Cluedo game, new version." Bodie picked up the phone and dialled a memorised number. "3.7. Records, please." He waited while his call was transferred. "Janice, be a dear and mark finding the whereabouts of one Peter Quinn urgent. Thanks, love." Bodie put down the phone and looked at his partner, "I'm hungry."

"There's a news flash."

"Takeaway or eat out?" he asked thinking about how much he had in his wallet.

"Eat out. Dress up a bit. We should make a showing at the Pendragon. Going without Foley would be more natural."

"Okay, there's a game later." He was hoping to catch the Liverpool match.

"We don't have to stay long, get a pint, some food, be seen."

Bodie agreed to the merit of his partner's suggestion.

Bodie dressed all in black, head to toe. His leather jacket the only break because of its gleam. Doyle's lower extremities were encased in tight black leather, his upper in a silk shirt the color of his eyes.

They ate at Charlie's. Bodie figured that Emma must have the place under surveillance, because before they sat themselves down she was putting on an apron. She had their usual order in before they could place it. Charlie just chuckled and shrugged when Doyle looked at him inquiringly.

She brought their pints over and sat next to Bodie. She sipped her tea before asking, "How's Jason doing. He and Martin," Emma shook her head, "They were so good together. I know it's been real hard for him." She looked expectantly at her new favourite.

"Misses him something dreadful. He's thinking of selling and living in London." Bodie confessed to her, but he had the feeling that she already knew.

"Hate to lose him, but it would probably be best for him. Memories here would be hard to replace." Emma sipped her tea absentmindedly as she looked from Doyle back to Bodie. "John sold out and hasn't been back."

"John?" Doyle feigned ignorance.

"John Westfield. Last year he lost his partner. Sold their home and never returned. Hope he's doing okay." Emma sighed, she missed Gordon.

"He run away with the milkman?" Doyle played dumb. He was ready to kick Bodie under the table to wipe the amused grin off his face.

"Died. In the bathtub of all places. Poor Mr Westfield, he took it hard." Emma looked at Doyle and was satisfied that he seemed taken aback by the news. She hoped that he was doing right by Mr Bodie, she didn't want to see that one hurt.

"Accident? Were the police involved?" Ray figured that the town busybody might know something.

"Yes, police said an accident. Appliance electrocution, but I was always a bit puzzled, Gordon didn't eat toast and that a toaster was the appliance, well, it just seemed odd."

To Doyle, Emma seemed genuinely puzzled in her reflection of the event. He was disappointed, he'd been hoping she'd shed some light.

"Odd, when I think about just take care of each other." She stood up, "Let me grab you another pint." Emma hurried back to the bar.

"Odd she didn't know more," Bodie commented when Emma was out of range.

"She seemed bothered by her memories." Ray had a speculative look.

"Bet she knew all the victims. Wish we could just ask her. She probably notices things that escape others." Bodie liked Emma; her curiosity seemed to stem from a caring and not just a need to know.

After they finished their meal and an extra pint they made their departure. They waved goodbye to Emma and Charlie and stepped outside into the crisp night air. Bodie drove down a side street and headed for the Pendragon.

They parked and entered the classy establishment. Bodie didn't notice the looks sent his way, all he noticed were the looks Ray was receiving. He didn't like it and he kept Ray close.

It was crowded but not overly so and they found a table in the corner and Bodie felt better with a wall behind him. They ordered drinks from a waiter that couldn't keep his eyes off Ray and again, Bodie found himself irritated at the man's behaviour.

Bodie turned and looked at Ray and noticed his tousled hair and righted it without any thought to his action. Ray was bloody gorgeous tonight and Bodie knew he'd have to work at keeping Ray safe. Lost in his observations, he was unprepared for Ray's question.

"Wanna dance?"

"Don't care for dancing much, mate." Bodie was worried that a dancing Ray would attract too much attention and too many eyes. He wasn't sure why this disturbed him to this degree, he just knew it did.

The man behind Doyle overheard the exchange and jumped into the conversation. "He may not care for dancing, but I love it. Let's rock." He held out his hand to Ray and with a quick smile for his stunned partner Ray accepted the offer.

Bodie watched in an expressionless silence as Doyle moved onto the dance floor. He gyrated to the music with an ease that Bodie knew he had never attained. Ray seemed to flow and move with the rhythm. The nameless man moved closer and bumped his partner several times.

Bodie seethed under his calm exterior. No one was allowed those liberties with his date. Without pondering his actions, Bodie stood and cut between the dancing pair. "My turn." He pulled Ray close and matched him move for move. No light could be seen between the two bodies.

Ray threw back his head, tossing the hair off his face. He smiled at his partner and commented, "Possessive."

"Yes. Seemed safer that way." Much safer than his other idea of staking his claim publicly, of bending Ray over the table and pounding into him so all would know who he belonged to. Bodie was dazed by the intensity of his own thoughts and pulled Ray closer still so he could lose himself in the scent of Ray instead.

The frisky music kept the pace upbeat and the intensity high. Bodie's right hand moved all up and down Ray's back and arse in time with the music. As the music drew to an end, Bodie dipped Ray and finished off with a kiss. The built up passion exploded and each mouth tried to devour the other. Until the kiss ended of it natural accord, neither heard the woof whistles or applause.

As Bodie went to release Ray, he let his fingers drop and teased Ray's bulging erection. That simple gesture provoked such intense sensations throughout his body that Ray arched his hips instinctively seeking to continue the contact. The need written so clearly on Ray's face had Bodie's hand back on the leather-encased bulge.

Both Bodie and Doyle had lost contact with where they were, but the nameless man had not and knew what state the pair was in and guided them to a discreet alcove used for this purpose many times.

As the darkness registered, Bodie found Ray's lips once more and his hand never wavered from its rhythm. Ray tried to thrust faster as his erection swelled, reaching its full girth. Bodie knew that Ray needed more and went to his knees. He freed the swollen cock from its prison and rubbed his face on it.

Bodie didn't care that the nameless man knew what was happening here, Bodie felt bone deep satisfaction that he and not the nameless one was going down on Ray's thick cock. Bodie swallowed it and sucked voraciously. A bone deep hunger assailed him and he needed Ray's essence to assuage it. He took all of Ray in, working his throat muscles, sucking in time to Ray's throaty sounds.

Bodie felt the upcoming climax and opened his own trousers and was about to grab his own leaking hardness when he felt his hand batted away. Ray grabbed it and moaned, "Faster...more." Bodie complied. It didn't take long for Ray to explode down the waiting throat, taking Bodie with him. The dark alcove allowed them to slip to the floor in a sated daze, still out of sight of the club goers.

When the sense of time and place returned, both agents fixed themselves and headed back to their table in silence. Bodie paid the bill and followed Doyle out, but not without a nod of thanks to the nameless man. Bodie was leaving with the treasure; he could afford to be gracious.

They watched the game on the box together as they had always done. No mention of their time lapse at the club. Bodie figured for Ray it was all part of the op, for himself, he wasn't clear what all it was but he was too tired to ponder it now.

The agents knew that the District Station would have copies of the reports from the Brentby constabulary. They banked on the small town being remote enough that the Berkshire District Station wouldn't know they were acting as residents there.

They presented their IDs and asked for official copies of the four reports.

After receiving them, Doyle asked the Chief Inspector, "Are these reports completed to your satisfaction?"

The underlying tone of the question was enough to get under Chief Inspector Gleason's skin. "They wouldn't be filed unless they were." His irritation at the presumptuous CI5 man showed clearly.

Ray ignored the irritation, "You don't think there is the remotest possibility that a full scale investigation should have taken place?" Ray's tone was caustic.

Bodie interceded before the Chief Inspector threw his partner out of his office. "I think he's asking, sir, if a full murder investigation might not have been warranted? And whether or not you tied the cases together." His tone was inquisitive, not inflammatory.

"We may not be CI5 down here, laddie, but we can still tell there were no similarities between the cases." Gleason told the agents disdainfully.

"All the victims were gay," Doyle reminded him.

"Well, that is to be expected. That town has a considerably higher homosexual population, so there is bound to be more occurrences within that population." Gleason explained.

A voice from behind the Chief Inspector could be heard smirking, "Ain't called Bentby for nothing."

"Were the cases treated fairly?" Doyle asked pointedly.

Chief Inspector Gleason took the offensive, "Are you insinuating that a member of this department is doing less than his job?"

"A poor one, at the very least. Did the investigating officers even try to find links?" Doyle's tone was becoming snarky.

"You at CI5 may need to create work for yourselves, but here at the Met, we have more than enough to contend ourselves with than to go out and try to create work where there is none." Gleason looked pointedly at Doyle, "Listen here, I will not tolerate you banding about a rumour of that magnitude. It would only create a panic. I will be taking this up with your superior. Your rudeness and insinuations are an abomination. Is this how George Cowley trains his boys?" The last was said with a disdainful tone, indicating clearly that the speaker did not care for George Cowley and his bunch.

Bodie stepped up behind his partner and laid his hands on both shoulders. He looked at the Chief Inspector and with a smile to disarm, "I plan to enrol him in charm school." Bodie patted Doyle on the back as he spoke to him, "Come on, Raymond, my son, time to see the headmaster." Bodie pushed his partner out of the office of the Chief Inspector.

A call from Cowley had both agents on their way to London. A standard escort of a foreign dignitary turned into a full-scale shootout at the Old Bailey. Cowley with his double think had been prepared but hadn't let his agents in on the turn of events. Doyle was left in the open and sustained a bullet graze in the arm. Bodie got to his partner, pulled him out of the line of fire and then took out the shooter. The sight of blood on Ray's clothes hit him hard in the gut.

His brusqueness to the others hid his fear ...not since Mayli Kuolo had he felt Ray's mortality so acutely. He was concerned about how deep his fear went and knew that soon he would have to allow time to work it out. Cowley unknowingly deflected all introspection as he called for an immediate debriefing.

Bodie wasn't going to leave Cowley's office without the man knowing that he was displeased. "It would be damn decent if you would tell us you expect trouble before you send us out."

"You're CI5, you should always expect trouble. You're getting soft, 3.7, if you expect otherwise." Cowley told him as he read the written reports.

With barely concealed vehemence, "I expect that our boss will apprise us of all the available facts and that he has a counter plan in the works. Sir!"

"Ach, laddie, you should know better by now," Cowley almost sound amused. "I told no one and I found the leak I suspected."

"Who, sir?" Doyle asked, hoping to deflect Cowley, giving Bodie a chance to cool off. He knew that Bodie's partner protector instincts were running high and he just needed to blow off some steam.

"O'Brien, recent arrival from MI6, has a small faction within that organisation that would like to see us disgraced because of the Dawson affair. Some believed the mole rumour was just our attempt to discredit them."

"And Doyle gets shot protecting a bloody traitor?" Hostility running high, Bodie's voice was still accusatory.

"I'm okay, Bodie," Doyle reminded his partner.

Cowley raised his brows, "Part of the job, 3.7, and you know it. And what's this business with the Chief Inspector in Berkshire? Very put out by the rudeness of my two agents. I thought we weren't involving the locals in this?"

"Gleason's at the district station. The local coppers are on the suspect list and we had to check up on the general feeling toward Brentby." Doyle explained, answering only part of the Controller's question.

"And? Don't keep me waiting, 4.5."

"There is some prejudice involved, though I do believe that Gleason honestly didn't see a connection between the four cases. I'm not sure many would, sir," Doyle told his boss truthfully.

Cowley looked at his operative, "Rude is not the way to keep your cover, 4.5." He sounded more stern than his features revealed.

"Wasn't really rude, sir. More that he asked pointed questions that made Chief Inspector uncomfortable." A calmer Bodie defended his partner.

"Aye, but you don't have to rub their nose in their shortcomings unless we are dealing with corruption in the ranks."

"Yes, sir," Doyle confirmed.

"Sir." Bodie nodded his acquiesce.

They stopped at a pub closest to Bodie's flat. They drank, they ate and drank some more. There was a game on the box and both half watched it. They talked some but neither spoke of the day's op. Ray had attempted to earlier on but Bodie shot him down flat and Ray took his lead.

Bodie was about to collect another round when Ray suggested, "That's enough, mate, let's go."

"Fine, drop me off at me motor." Bodie headed for the exit instead of the counter.

Ray unlocked the passenger side and walked around before answering, "I'll drop you at your flat and we can collect it tomorrow."

"Nah, I'm gonna drive out to the house tonight, like it better." Bodie's speech was a tad slurred.

"That's crazy. You'll be nabbed up as a drunk."

"I'll just show'em me badge."

Ray pulled up in front of Bodie's and got out. He pushed his partner up the stairs.

Bodie shook his head at his mate, "You're only delaying me, Doyle," he unlocked his door.

"Quit acting like a damn fool, go on in and go to bed."

Mulishly, Bodie persisted, "I will as soon as I get out to the house."

Furious at his partner's stubborn nature, Doyle ranted, "Look, Bodie, I know you're infuriated about today's op and I'm not saying you shouldn't be, just don't be a damn fool and go haring about town until you sleep it off."

"Ta, mother. Now be off like a good little Ray of sunshine you are."

"You're staying put." It was both a question and a statement.

Bodie looked away from his partner, "Night, Doyle."

"Bloody hell, you dumb crud, you're not going anywhere."

"And you'll stop me how, Goldilocks?" Bodie taunted Doyle with Cowley's nickname. He really wanted Doyle gone.

"Oh, I've got ways." He shoved his partner across the room.

Expecting a right across the jaw, Bodie didn't expect to be slammed against the wall or to have a hand fumble at his belt.

Ray used one hand to hold Bodie in place, and the other to thrust down his trousers and pants and grabbed the burgeoning erection. A gasp was all Ray heard by way of complaint so he didn't stop.

Bodie's bobbing Adam's apple enticed Ray and he ran his tongue across it as he worked the hardness in his hand. He could smell the musky scent of arousal and wanted to taste. Bodie didn't complain about that either.

He had never enjoyed this act in college, just an experiment, but he found that he delighted in the texture and warmth of Bodie's hardness. He worked the rigid shaft with enthusiasm. His own arousal fuelled by Bodie's response.

Bodie reached down and could feel Ray full and hard against his jeans. That knowledge pushed him over and he shot all he had into Ray's mouth. He didn't lose contact with the hardness beneath his touch and worked to free it. With Ray's jeans and pants pushed to his knees, Bodie rubbed his face into the exposed groin.

He knew in that moment that this is where he had wanted to be all evening. He took in a deep breath, immersing himself in Ray's scent. He licked the furry testicles and felt them grow taut against his cheek. He moved his face enough to lick the tiny slit and growled with satisfaction deep in his throat at the fluid he found waiting there. Bodie took the head between his lips and guided it deep into his throat. He sucked fast and furious, evoking memories of the club that spurred him on to an even faster pace.

Ray threw back his head and howled as Bodie's pace never slackened. His movements stopped only when he had a flaccid penis in his mouth and a slumped over partner. Cuddling him close, Bodie followed Ray into sleep on the living room floor.

They woke about an hour later, sleepy, stiff and cold. Bodie pushed Ray, Ray pushed Bodie. Together they made it into the bedroom and fell onto the bed, clothes still askew. Bodie used his last bit of awareness to pull the quilt over them; morning would probably come too soon.

Bodie was up, showered and shaved when Ray awoke. By silent mutual consent neither spoke about yesterday; not the op, the drinking, the sex or sleep. Ray ate the breakfast that Bodie placed in front of him. They both downed several more cups of coffee then arranged for a vehicle pick up and headed back to Brentby.

Ray snoozed most of the way. They stopped at Emma's for the mail and Charlie's for supper. They watched a French film on the box. They turned off the sound and made up the dialog, affecting bad accents in their over dramatic replay.

In bed, Bodie snuggled up to Ray, realising that he was more relaxed here in this house than at his own flat. He didn't know why and was too tired to think on it.

Returning from the morning run Bodie heard the phone and hurried in to catch it. "Bodie."

"Alpha One. 3.7, you and 4.5 have an hour and a half to get to Heathrow. You're booked on a flight to New York. Peter Quinn will arrive approximately one hour after you land. He has agreed to meet with you on his ninety minute layover. His connecting flight is to Brazil."

"Eh, where's he been?" Bodie inquired.

"It will be in the brief waiting for you. You'll have plenty of time to read it on the plane. Your return flight will depart an hour after Quinn's."

"No overnight?"

"You can play around on your own time, 3.7. CI5 won't foot the bill."

"Yes, sir." Bodie hung up the phone. He turned to Doyle, "Pack a shave kit, sunshine. We have an interview with Quinn."

"Shave kit? Where we going? The palace?" Doyle stood.

"The States. New York and the absurd part, the Old Man has us returning just a few hours later."

"Well, you can't fall asleep on the plane," Doyle told his partner.

"Why ever not? Good way to pass the time."

"You snore."

"I do not," affronted.

"If I say you do, you do. Betcha it's not first class."

"First class, with the Cow? Bloody unlikely."

When they arrived at the pickup desk for their tickets, the envelope Cowley promised was waiting, as were the Airport Police.

"If you will follow us," the sergeant requested.

The CI5 men followed the officer to an unmarked room.

"May I see your weapons." It was said with authority.

Doyle looked over to Bodie, then both men reached under their jackets and retrieved their guns.

Doyle was about to comment when the sergeant spoke. "Mr Cowley has secured permission for you to carry your weapons. We just wanted to verify the weapon with the permit."

The CI5 agents handed their guns, butt first, to the sergeant. He checked them against his form and returned them to their owners.

They made their way straight to the boarding terminal. Doyle took the window seat before his partner could call it. He'd let Bodie have it on the return trip when they'd both probably be asleep.

Bodie opened the file and Doyle read it over his partner's shoulder.

"After Greenland, I'd want to go to the South American jungle, as well." Doyle remarked.

"He's spent the last year and a half in a native village. Running away, perhaps?" Bodie suggested.

"Let's put that down to ask. I'd say yes, though." Doyle agreed. Ray made some notations on the folder in Bodie's lap. "So we can add to our own Cluedo game; stabbed in the kitchen with a knife."

"Wonder what's missing from the police report?" Bodie asked knowing there was, just not what.

"We'll find out when we talk to Quinn. He'd been married for seventeen years before coming out."

"Think he woke up one morning and decided to be queer?" Bodie couldn't help but wonder.

"Wouldn't know, mate."

"Couldn't have been easy."

"Probably not."

"One of the many reasons I'm glad I'm not married." Bodie told his partner seriously.

"What? You'd have to explain you're a poof?" Doyle loved to tease using Bodie's own words.

"Nah, just the whole talking thing. A wife would expect that on a regular basis ... the talking, you know."

"You would also get some on a regular basis, too." Doyle told him sagely.

"Not worth all the talking."

Doyle didn't tease further, Bodie was dead serious and Doyle found himself not wanting to spoil the moment.

Bodie took out his condensed version of their Cluedo game and studied it. He knew he was missing something. He didn't say a thing when his partner fell asleep and used his shoulder as a pillow.

The CI5 men bypassed customs as they were here on official business and they weren't leaving the airport terminal. They got coffee and a real American hamburger.

"Don't seem that much different than our own." Bodie munched away.

"They're not, you moron, mince is mince, just a bit spicier." Doyle didn't even mention the cholesterol.

By the time they were finished, they didn't have a long wait.

As soon as his plane disembarked, they had Mr Quinn paged. He met them at the VIP lounge. The CI5 agents had the use of a private room prearranged by head of CI5.

Bodie gave Quinn the option of coffee or a cold drink, Quinn chose coffee. Bodie poured three cups.

"Thank you for agreeing to meet us," Doyle opted for polite.

Bodie interjected, "Though if only we found you a week later we could have flown to the jungle." Bodie really thought it unlikely, the Cow would never have sprung for that, but it broke the ice as intended.

"How can I help you?" The tall, thin man asked. The forty two-year-old anthropologist looked like he could stand to eat a few more meals.

"We need to ask you some questions about Anthony Morton." Doyle watched the light go out of Quinn's eyes.

"Did you find the person that did it?" Peter asked quietly.

"No, not yet." Doyle answered and was about to continue when Quinn interrupted.

"You lot didn't seem to care when it happened, why care now, almost two years later?"

"We're not with that lot." Bodie wanted it to be clear.

Quinn looked askance, "I was led to believe that you were coppers."

"Of a sort," Bodie agreed.

Doyle took out his badge and showed Quinn. "We're investigating Morton's murder along with three others that we believe are connected."

"Come again? Other murders? Where?"

Bodie gave him a quick rundown, adding, "One thing we did discover is that the local constabulary did not do as through a job as they could `ve done."

"So, why now if it wasn't important back then?" This was said with a great deal of bitterness.

"It was important back then. I'm sorry it wasn't treated as so."

Doyle was always amazed that at times his partner could say just the right thing with the perfect voice tones. He never knew though, if he meant it or if it was just part of the job to him. There were times when his partner was still an enigma.

"If it had been, three others wouldn't have also met the same fate as Anthony." Doyle added the names, "Bradley Sorenson, Gordon Bentley, and Martin Fane."

Peter Quinn sat stunned. Bodie watched Quinn as Doyle rattled off the names and he was sure that he had recognised one or two of them.

"They were stabbed, too? My god, Gordon?" Quinn shook his head and whispered, "I knew Gordon... and everyone knew Bradley."

"No, each death was different. The only common denominator is that each man was in a stable homosexual relationship."

"The report stated that Mr Morton was stabbed in the chest." Bodie referred to his notes.

"Yes. Four times."

Two heads whipped around to Quinn, Doyle parroted, "Four times?"

Bodie lips pouted, "That's not mentioned in the report."

Quinn sighed, "No, it wouldn't. The officer in charge said it was obviously a crime of passion so others weren't in danger and there was no need to upset the whole town."

"You didn't think that was a strange way to handle it?" Doyle inquired.

"Not for the police of Brentby. It was a pretty much an accepted fact that our local bobbies had the highest number of poof haters."

"Did you register a complaint for the record?" Doyle asked of him. He hated this. He knew there were more good coppers than bad, but it was hard to change civilian's minds after incidents such as this.

"Who with? The Chief is the one making the assignments." Peter shrugged.

"I thought the town was considered lifestyle friendly." Bodie commented.

"The town, yes, coppers, no."

Bodie took a deep breath and brought it back on track, "Did you find the body?"

"Yes and no." Quinn received two quizzical stares. "I wasn't the first to find the body, but I did see it."

"Please explain." Doyle looked over to his partner, Bodie just shrugged.

"I had just flown in from Spain. I was met at the airport and escorted home by the police. They didn't warn me, just watched me fall apart." Quinn shut his eyes, trying to shut out the memories.

"Bastards," Bodie growled.

Doyle was incredulous, "The police knowingly escorted you, uninformed into a known crime scene?" Ray would make sure that Cowley did something about that at the conclusion of this case.

"Yes, they wanted to see how I'd react. They said it was to eliminate me as a suspect. The fact that I was arriving from Spain wasn't good enough in itself. The sergeant said that homo's were usually killed by their own kind. Said it like we were a different species." Quinn's voice reflected the hurt from that day.

Feeling bad for the man Bodie changed the track, "Can you recall what all you saw?"

"Hard to forget. He was lying on the kitchen floor with a knife sticking out of his chest. The Medical Examiner found four stab wounds."

"How was the rest of the room? Messy, dirty?" Bodie continued on a theme.

"No, clean. It's odd, you ask, I remember thinking in one of those outside moments, that the kitchen was cleaner than Anthony usually left it. One of the detail men found a tea cup shard. The rest of a broken cup was in the rubbish. Like it had been broken during the murder and cleaned up after. The sergeant brushed aside that observation and didn't even write it down. Thought it was unnecessary."

Bodie freshened Doyle's coffee, setting the milk in front of him. He wanted to distract him from the rant he could see forming.

Doyle acknowledged the silent plea and asked another question. "Were you a suspect?"

"Oh, yes," Quinn actually smiled, "I do believe the sergeant was bitterly disappointed."

"Since the report conveys practically nothing, some routine cop questions." Doyle wanted to preface the next series of questions. "Could Anthony have been going out with someone else on the side that got outraged?"

Quinn shook his head, "We were exclusive. That meant no fucking anyone else. That didn't preclude dancing and flirting. Anthony loved to dance, I didn't." Peter could still see his love dancing in his memories. "Bradley was a wild one and Anthony would dance with him regularly. They were good and to a stranger, it could look like they were into each other, but they were into the dance and the show... Bradley was wild but he really did care about Gideon."

"You said you knew Gordon?" Bodie asked.

"Yeah, played backgammon with him at the club, on and off on Saturday mornings. I'd be gone for months working on a dig, then be home for equal time."

"You were married before you changed your lifestyle. Seventeen years, wasn't it?" Doyle could see this was a topic that Quinn didn't like.

"Is all this necessary?"

"Don't know. It started with you, so we're just checking all possibilities." Bodie was earnest in his answer.

"Then, no, I didn't cause my ex, or anyone else for that matter, any embarrassment during my married years. I wasn't hiding anything. Until I met Anthony I didn't know I could feel that way. I haven't since. I've got my work, but nothing could take Anthony's place."

"Still, wouldn't your wife have suffered some embarrassment in your preferring a man over her?" Doyle had to ask.

"We divorced before I ever sought out Anthony. I moved to Brentby, we had never been there. She never visited. No one in Kent knew a thing, she didn't suffer. The divorce was uncontested." Peter told the agents honestly.

"What did Anthony do?" Doyle asked - it was also missing from the police report.

"History teacher. We met at a conference."

"Did you guys go to the Pendragon a lot?" Bodie asked.

"A lot? No. Maybe four or five times a year. We weren't home much. Anthony travelled with me to the digs. We were a good match."

"Why Greenland?" Bodie indulged his curiosity.

"I knew I'd be busy." He looked at the agent and added, "We had never planned to go there. It was a place without memories. I needed that."

They heard the call for his flight. They stood and shook hands.

Bodie handed him his card with a number that would always reach him. "In case you remember anything else of significance."

"Thank you for your time," Doyle added.

They watched him leave. Bodie waited then announced, "I'm hungry."

"We just ate."

"We have a long flight and plane food isn't the same as this authentic stuff."

Doyle shook his head but followed his partner.

They both slept on the return trip. Upon their arrival there was a message waiting from Alpha One for them to proceed to headquarters immediately.

Both opted for the restroom first, coffee was necessary if the Cow wanted a long session. And he did. He wanted a through rundown on the case and their ideas. He wasn't pleased.

"You knew when you sent us in, it could take awhile. We had to start from scratch, the police reports were far from accurate." Bodie was irritated that Cowley was dissatisfied.

"Aye, laddie, the Prime Minister is afraid that the longer it takes, the more likely that the press will get wind of it." That was as close to an apology they would get. He did promise that he would send out an updated report from Ross.

As they exited the office, Bodie said under his breath, "That'll be well worth the wait. We are needing a new bin bag in the kitchen."

Doyle muffled a laugh as he prodded his partner out of the building.

They decided to head straight back rather than spend the day in London. No sense upsetting the Prime Minister or George Cowley.

A wheelie in the dirt, mud all over him, Doyle grinned smugly. He felt vindicated, he won, no cheating involved. Bodie may have bragged and boasted that he won the Widowmaker, but Doyle knew that he was the better rider. Today proved that, he had bested Bodie with Bodie's rules.

Helmet off, he stood by his bike as Bodie rolled in. All Bodie could see were white teeth surrounded by brown mud. Doyle still looked a treat.

"Yeah, yeah, I know, my treat. Let's get cleaned up, I'll buy you Charlie's finest."

"You're on, mate."

Half an hour later they walked in Charlie's pub and both were struck by it emptiness. Odder still was the lack of Emma. Either could hardly remember a time they were here and Emma wasn't.

"Something wrong, Charlie?" Bodie asked as he paid for a pure malt scotch.

Charlie smiled, "You fellas haven't been in on a Thursday afternoon. It's always like this."

"Where is... everyone?"

"You mean Emma?" Charlie grinned again, "They're all down at the Pendragon." Charlie loved the lost look on Mr Bodie's face. "Bingo." Made the one word sound like it was explanation enough.

For Doyle it was. "Big jackpot?"

"Biggest in town. Hundred pounds. I'd be down there, too, if I didn't have to be here. Emma and me trade off." He folded his arms across his chest, "Why don't you fellas go down and try your luck. Won't bother me none." He winked at Bodie, "Turn the tables on Emma."

Bodie looked at his partner and in the flash their eyes met, they both communicated and received that this could be the common denominator. Doyle downed his drink as Bodie put in an order to pick up steak pies for later.

Charlie leaned in and said in a low voice, "Emma just cares, ya know."

Bodie smiled and answered truthfully, "I know. She's a dear." He nodded to Charlie then joined his partner outside.

"The Pendragon?"


The club was packed. It looked like half the town was inside. Doyle was surprised by the number of people they knew here. It momentarily startled him to realise that he quite liked it. His years with the Met and CI5 hadn't allowed for feeling settled in any one place. He would miss this place.

Emma noticed them and waved them over. She made room for two next to her. Bodie and Doyle bought boards and played for an hour until intermission.

People headed to the counters for food and drink. Emma stayed with Bodie as Ray attempted to get refreshments.

Emma patted Bodie on the thigh, "It's wonderful to see you both here."

"Just found out about this from Charlie," Bodie smiled, astonished that they had missed this.

"Well, you fellas have been mighty wrapped up in each other. Ray Doyle seems to be good for you."

"I think so," his smile was indulgent.

"Betcha it was his idea to come," Emma said with a knowing air.

Bodie nodded, perpetuating the covers they created.

"This is common ground for most folk. It's nice here."

"And profitable for some." It had been hard to miss the shout of joy by a winner.

Emma stood, "I promised Charlie I'd mind the pub for him. Then it's Tom's turn. Have fun." She patted his arm before leaving.

Doyle returned with three drinks and was surprised to find Emma gone.

"Giving Charlie a go. I think we have some phone calls to make, mate." Bodie suggested.

Doyle nodded. He finished his drink. It had been thirsty work winning twenty quid.

They picked up the ordered steak pies on the way home. Emma smiled indulgently when Ray waggled his eyebrows at her when they left.

After eating, they called John Westfield, Gideon York and Jason Foley. Jason was out, but both John and Gideon confirmed that they attended bingo days. Sometimes to play, sometimes to work it. It helped the club keep lower drink prices. John was helpful; he could remember both Jason and Martin attending. The CI5 agents thanked the men for the additional help.

"One more thing to put on the puzzle board." Doyle inked it in.

"Most likely, our killer plays bingo, as well." Bodie concluded the obvious. "When Jason calls, we need to find out if the police come `round on bingo days much."

"Leave off, Bodie. You really don't think a copper is doing this?" Doyle was irritated that Bodie kept harping the bent cop angle.

"Raymond, you very well know that we can't eliminate it as an idea until we eliminate them as suspects." Bodie shrugged at his partner's red face. "It could very well be a single bad cop. I don't like all coppers but I like most. I like you." Bodie smiled at Doyle.

Doyle wanted to stay mad but he had to admit that Bodie was right, he just didn't have to say it aloud.

Jason returned their call and put an end to the argument. He was able to make Doyle feel somewhat better as the local cops hadn't been to the Pendragon. Jason did go on to comment that even if there were an altercation, it would have been hard to get the locals out there. He also confirmed that both he and Martin had attended bingo.

That allowed them to eliminate some of the town folk still in the suspect category, but not many and not enough to help narrow it down. Their puzzle board was still truly a puzzle.

They abandoned work and watched a game, but it wasn't a very good one and Bodie found himself dozing off. Head on Ray's stomach made it easy to do. It was another thing they didn't talk about, this curling up together on the sofa to watch the box. It became habit when they thought they might be under surveillance and it stuck all these months later. Bodie quite liked it.

He woke up later with a sleeping Ray in his arms, half on, half off the sofa. He got his partner up and into bed. As he watched, Bodie noticed that even sleepy with tousled hair, his body reacted to Ray... what a picture he made. He slipped his arms around Ray's waist and fell asleep.

Bodie woke early and took a moment to watch Ray sleep. He was itching for something but didn't want to ask Doyle for it. He could non-ask. He bounded out of bed with that in mind.

He did his usual morning ablutions along with a few new ones. Freshly shaved and showered, Bodie crawled back into bed beside Doyle. He spooned along Ray's backside and lightly pushed his erection against it. Doyle automatically pushed back.

Ray was just the way Bodie liked his Doyle, sleepy and randy. He shifted Ray so he could slide under him. Ray fit perfectly between his legs. Bodie undulated against Ray and Ray mirrored the movements in tandem.

Doyle's sensual nature woke and he sped up the rhythm. He slipped down a bit to trap his leaking erection between Bodie's thighs. He teased Bodie and himself by running the head of his penis along Bodie's most private of areas. He was surprised when he teasingly pushed at the only hole to find himself fully sheathed within. An eruption of before unknown sensation flooded his system. He lost all control, gave no thought to where he was, just rode the wave of fire that reached all parts of his being.

Bodie held his breath as Ray slid in. His preparations were adequate for Ray's smooth entrance and more than worth the effort. Bodie arched his hips and Ray hit the prostate on each thrust sending little jolts of heat coursing through his veins. Ray's sweet cheeks were in his hands, his own cock was trapped between their bellies and Ray claimed ownership with each thrust if he only knew it. All was more than Bodie's system could take and he spilled all he had between them. His anal muscles cinched tightly on Ray's thick erection and Ray emptied himself within Bodie's tight channel.

Sated didn't come close to describing how he felt. There had to be a word to describe it but he couldn't think of it, instead he just accepted that he did feel that way. Eventually, when his body would follow directions again, Bodie got a flannel to clean Ray and himself. He snuggled Ray and slept with his arms tight around him.

Ray woke with the feeling of just having had the best shag of his life and he found himself thinking that he couldn't wait to get back inside. He froze his thoughts right there. He had been without a bird too long if he was hungering to get inside Bodie again.

Fucking. That's what he meant. Just fucking for the job.

He completely ignored the treacherous little voice that reminded him that nothing before had ever felt like that. He shut that down immediately. Of course not. He had never fucked a guy before, so of course it was new and different. Different didn't have to be good or bad, just different. And it was good that little voice taunted. Bloody hell, of course it was good, how could it not be good to fuck a warm, tight cavern. That's all it was. So, there, he taunted right back.

Content that he settled the argument, he unconsciously snuggled closer to the warmth and fell back asleep.

They knew the club was where the victims were chosen, so they had to attend. Bodie hated this kind of detail. They didn't know what they were to be looking for. The profiles hadn't revealed any serial killer tendencies, so the CI5 agent wasn't convinced they would know even if they sat with him.

They decided to dress up and when Doyle emerged in suit and tie, Bodie felt his mouth go dry. No wonder he had no trouble pulling in the birds.

They had a nice public and romantic dinner. They went to the Pendragon after and Bodie got Ray on the dance floor for a slow romantic turn around the dance floor.

As the night progressed, Ray felt special. Bodie was the consummate gentleman. He would see traces of his ribald humour, but for the most part he kept it contained. For all who would be watching, they saw nothing but the most romantic of partners treating his date as a treasure.

The treatment followed him home. Bodie made love to his body like there was no one fairer in all the land. It was like one of those fairy tales his mother had read him as a kid.

Sated, they curled together. Doyle whispered close to the ear near his mouth, "This isn't how you work your birds." Doyle knew from years at watching Bodie.


"The gentleness and foreplay."

"There's always some, but told ya, this is for a relationship. Haven't wanted that with any of the birds."

"Never tried?" Sleepy curiosity pushed him on.

"Not really. Was too young to know what to do in Africa." Bodie rolled over and tucked Doyle up close. "Don't want a bird, a relationship with a bird. Too much work, usually one sided. 'Sides, job always puts `em off." Sleep calling, Bodie closed his eyes, not realising how revealing his words had been. Lucky for him, Ray was too tired to connect the dots.

Doyle decided that they had to stop going to the club, Bodie came away randy as hell. Ray ignored that his jeans were as snug or tighter than Bodie's ever been, he just concentrated on his mental rant.

There was that one time when he had innocently commented on his own tight jeans as he got in behind the wheel and damn if Bodie didn't suck him off at the first light. Sure it made driving easier, but the club was to blame.

Then there was that time last week when the waiter had spilled a drink on him and while apologising, attempted to wipe it off. He had cupped his balls accidentally when cleaning him off. Why Bodie had to go all primal was puzzling but probably again due to the club making his partner so damn randy. He had been yanked hard against Bodie's body and they danced groin to groin until he had been ready to come out there on the dance floor. The rest was rather hazy, but he thought the waiter showed them a private dancing room. He remembered the relief when Bodie had freed his aching cock and this time when they danced groin to groin it was in reality, true. He remembered the slickness and feeling great and more slickness.

Then there had been luau night. Again, if it hadn't been for the club... There they were, doing the limbo, when one of the real poofs took his shirt off, just to get under the bar better, and all the rest had to follow suit.

Ray didn't mind taking his shirt off, but Bodie, he hated to be partially undressed in public. So Ray knew it had to be the club's fault when Bodie stripped off his shirt and stood there close and Ray couldn't help putting out his hand and rubbing it across his chest. They were a couple and he had to let the others know.

And certainly, when the snide remark was made sotto voice, Doyle had to play his part. The nasty sot thought that Bodie only gave, that he didn't get any. That was a slam on him, too. He had their honour to uphold.

Ray knew the club made his partner randy as hell, so all he had to do was push it. He danced close to Bodie, rubbing himself on Bodie, waiting for slight bulge to swell tightly and push against the fabric. This accomplished for all about them to see, he then pushed Bodie into a partially concealed corner, not too far removed.

Ray knew that Bodie could be a noisy bugger and was relying on that now. He sucked his thickness in hard and deep. He set a fast rhythm and maintained it. Bodie was unprepared for the assault and couldn't keep his reaction tame. Ray was sure that all had heard him. Honour restored.

Things like that wouldn't happen except for the damn club. If Cowley only knew what he had to do for CI5.

The incessant ringing intruded on his dream and forced Bodie awake. He tried to slap the alarm but as it was the phone, it didn't stop ringing.

Finally with phone in hand, "Bodie."

"Mr Bodie? This is Peter Quinn."

Bodie's eyes were open and alert. He swung his legs over the side of the bed and switched on the lamp. "What's wrong?"

"Talking with you brought up a lot of memories, memories I didn't want to revisit, but sometimes you just can't get them to listen so I remembered. In doing so I think I remembered something that might help."

"Okay, Mr Quinn, what is it?" Bodie threw his arm back and batted Doyle's thigh. He signalled up with his thumb, then signed to get on the extension.

Doyle padded naked to the other phone.

"Sorting through what all happened I don't think I told you about the notes."

"What notes?" Doyle chimed in.

"Threatening notes to Anthony."

"What threatening notes?" Bodie jumped on the comment.

"I told the police, but they were sure it was a red herring as they called it."

"What exactly did they say?"

"I don't remember the exact wording, but they implied that Anthony had been unfaithful and further flirting and cavorting could bring disastrous results. That's what almost all of them said."

"Did he?" Doyle asked as Bodie wrote down all that Quinn had said thus far.

"Remember, I told you, he liked to dance and the showier the better. He showed me the notes, three of them. We never knew who. Can you use it?"

"Yes, Mr Quinn, this may be very helpful, thank you for calling us."

"I would really love to see Anthony's murderer caught."

"We'll notify you when we get something." Doyle hung up the phone.

"Goodbye." Bodie hung up as well. He switched off the light and lay back down in bed.

"We'll have to check if the others received notes."

"Cheating, or supposed cheating. Makes me think the killer isn't gay." Bodie commented as he watched the sky lighten.

"Why that conclusion?" Ray asked, tired but too awake to go back to sleep. He rolled over and faced Bodie.

"The gay lifestyle seems to have a lot of open flirting and quite the liberal definition of an exclusive relationship. A straight would be more likely to misinterp that."

"Bodie, there are days when I do believe that you will become a fine detective."

"Don't tell anyone, then they'll expect me to have answers. Wouldn't like that." Bodie grinned at the ceiling.

"C'mon, let's go for a run."

Bodie groaned, but rolled over and followed Ray.

Calls to the other three men had the CI5 agents believing they were on the right track. They all remembered notes or mild threats. Not one had connected the notes to the murders. Independently of each other they said much the same thing; the notes hadn't felt that threatening.

Now the undercover team had to stir up that angle. They didn't want to put any of the locals in danger and they didn't want to have to divulge their charade.

Doyle called Gideon and he agreed to come to the Pendragon on Saturday night. He would dance with Doyle and play up to him. He knew it was just a ruse and wouldn't be expecting Doyle to follow through.

For Bodie, the evening was hell. He knew it was a ruse, hell, he helped plan it, but it was still damn hard to take. Watching Ray gyrate about and bring his body close to York, Bodie found it hard to sit still. He wanted to grab up Ray and run off with him.

Bodie wasn't inclined to wonder why, wasn't given to intense introspection but it was getting hard to ignore. He looked around the room. There were many good-looking men. Other than noting the aesthetic beauty, nothing. He wasn't turned on by men. But one look at Ray and his blood was running hot. He got hard just thinking about him.

He could try the denial route again, or he could confront it head on. What did he know? He knew that being with Ray all the time made him happy. The fact that he could be with him all the time was telling in itself. And the sex. The sex was out of this world. It wasn't just about getting off, it was so much more, hell it was gorgeous. The birds were fine, but Ray ended up being so much more.

He wanted Ray Doyle to the exclusion of anyone else.

This was getting damn serious and Bodie was afraid that this whole thing was sounding a bit like love. Hell, it was feeling like love. He was in love with his male partner. This did not strike him as a good thing. He sighed silently. He had heard tell that love was a good thing and was supposed to make you happy, but he had the feeling that once Ray found out, no one would be happy anymore.

Bodie refocused on the dancing pair. Gideon kept one hand on Doyle's hip. Bodie had to contain his desire to get up and slap it away. His only consolation was that Doyle's jeans showed no evidence of a bulge. He had the satisfaction of knowing that he could slip through to Doyle's sensual nature. It wasn't much comfort at this exact moment, but it was enough to keep him in his seat.

At the next slow dance, Bodie got up and cut in. He held Ray close and let his scent wash over him. He felt so right in his arms. The ex-merc, the tough guy agent was feeling all mushy inside. He just buried his face in his partner's neck and moved about the dance floor. At least he could enjoy this and not have to wonder why.

Ray flirted once again with Gideon on the way out. Bodie ignored the entire scene.

On the drive home, Bodie realised that the case probably wouldn't last much longer. He could feel that this ploy would work. Cowley might get an itch for the unsolved, he would get one when he knew he was on the right track. He disclosed his thoughts with his partner.

"I agree. We should take a closer look at the straights pile. I just don't know if we'll see anything new." Doyle trusted Bodie's feeling right along with the Cow's.

"Did you get a load of Ross' revised report?" Bodie grinned; he usually took her findings with a grain of salt.

"The person is possibly disturbed. Yeah, a revelation, to say the least. Ya think she hasn't figured that we could work that one out for ourselves?" Doyle's opinion wasn't far different than his partner's.

"Well, being mentally incompetent ourselves, we mightn't be capable. Ya know, Ray, she considers me a child and a deficient one at that. Good-looking, but deficient." Bodie smirked before his full face grin.

"Oh and she told you you were good-looking?" Doyle loved the silly banter.

"Nah, but you can see it in her eyes." Bodie turned and grinned at Doyle.

Back at the house, Bodie took a shower to rid himself of the smoke scent that hung about. He used the time to shave and prepared himself for the middle of night adventures he had planned.

Doyle had a drink poured for himself and Bodie and they looked through the files with new eyes. They didn't find much. "We can have Betty run these possibilities tomorrow. These new eyes are tired eyes. I'm ready for bed."

Bodie tidied up, turned off the lights and followed Doyle into the bedroom.

It was four a.m. when Bodie woke, randy as hell and ready to put his plan into action. He wanted to tenderly envelop his partner and memorise every bit of him.

It wasn't hard to get Ray going, but tonight, Bodie wanted to go slow. He started behind the ear, nuzzling and licking and Doyle turned into it. Bodie worked his way down his lover's body with tender care. Even if Ray never acknowledged it aloud, he would know, inside, that he was indeed cherished.

Bodie knew where to touch, where to lave to give the most pleasure and it was important to him to give pleasure. He poured his newly acknowledged love into every caress, every kiss. When he had Ray at a feverish pitch, he rolled the unresisting body atop his own. He positioned Ray between his legs, then ran a moistened finger from the base of Ray's sacs, across the tight hole, up the crackline. Ray undulated with the sensation and Bodie arched high to aid Doyle's smooth, deep entry.

Thrust and counter thrust, they moved in rhythm together. Bodie could feel Ray trying to hold back, to reign in control but Bodie didn't want that, he wanted Ray untamed. He was riding high on Ray's passion.

In that split second that Ray froze before orgasm hit, Bodie knew this image would be forever held in his memory. Then he was coming with Ray, cresting together, names shouted. Bodie held Ray close until morning.

The note showed up on Monday. It wasn't unexpected. The two undercover agents arrived at Charlie's about four p.m.

Charlie passed it to Mr Bodie when he paid for the beers. "Emma found it in the letterbox when she arrived this morning. Before opening."

Bodie thanked him and handed the envelope carefully to Ray as it had his name typed on the front. Ray took it by the corner and slit it open with his knife. He read, `It's about town that you're playing around, a word to the wise, don't.' He passed it to his partner and waited.

"Well, it isn't very threatening." Bodie agreed with the opinions of the other recipients.

"Yeah. I bet there aren't any fingerprints on this `sides ours, Emma's and Charlie's." Doyle mused.

"Why think that? The police never checked. We have nothing to compare with. And, Raymond...."

Doyle finished his sentence, "We can't even eliminate Emma and Charlie."

"Hard to believe as it is." Bodie agreed with Doyle's unvoiced opinion.

"Pack it off to Cowley. I think we should courier this." He put the envelope carefully into his pocket.

Bodie agreed.

Bodie and Doyle went to the Sunday afternoon bingo. Most of the town folk that Bodie knew were in attendance. A lot of the shops were closed and made it possible for the shop owners to attend. He nodded greetings to Charlie, Tom, Mrs Hooper and Emma.

Murphy showed up about half way through. He stood at the entrance, scanning the crowds as though looking for someone.

Ray caught it and gestured wildly to get his attention. Murphy weaved his way through the crowd. Ray met him half way and bestowed a bear hug as a greeting. Murphy indicated that he wanted a smoke outside and Doyle followed obligingly.

Bodie watched the pair as they headed outside. He turned back to his bingo card disturbed by his own desires to smack Murphy for brushing Ray's hair out of his face. He only heard half of Emma's question.

"That man? A mate that Ray works with, Murphy, I believe his name is."

Emma asked no more questions but kept her eye on the door until they returned.

Murphy walked across the car park and leaned against his own vehicle as he lit a cigarette. He opened his arms and Ray walked straight into them. They giggled together, trying to contain their mirth."

"You think someone is watching?" Murph asked.

"Yup, in this town it's a surety."

Ray stood still within the circle of Murphy's arms. They moved their heads together so that if someone were peeking at them it would look like they were kissing.

Murph asked why they just didn't actually kiss?

Doyle explained that in each of the cases, fidelity had not been breached. It was just the appearance of that infidelity they believed had precipitated the murders. So they decided to stick with that.

After Murphy let the cigarette he wasn't actually smoking burn down, Doyle led him back inside the club. They joined Bodie and finished the last two rounds of bingo before leaving.

They dined at one of the finer restaurants in town, Cowley's treat through Murphy. This dining expense would be on the CI5 chit. Cowley had stated at the beginning of the assignment that all consumed food was their own, they'd have to eat, assignment or not. So, tonight they chose well.

The next part of the plan was for Thursday, the other bingo day. Murphy would come up and attend it with Ray and Bodie would not be in attendance because he would be out on assignment.

Between Sunday night and Wednesday night, Bodie spent all his time with Ray. Days were carefree motor biking and the nights Bodie made exquisite love to his partner. If Doyle noticed anything different, he never said a word.

In the wee hours of Thursday morning, Bodie left for London. He paused for a moment at the bedroom door to watch Ray sleep. Tousled hair on the pillow was all that could be viewed as Doyle's nose was munched into the pillow. Bodie was content in the moment. Ray's trust of him was total, as he didn't stir at the movement about the house. Bodie closed the door silently on the way out.

He played a music station loud to drown out his thoughts on the drive. He stopped for breakfast before heading to headquarters.

The Controller had Betty and Patty pull all the files on the town folk in attendance of the last bingo game. They looked at them with the new insight hoping to see what they had missed before.

Cowley wanted them to look for a disturbed personality per Ross' suggestion. Bodie disagreed, but kept it to himself.

By midmorning break, all eyes were weary and had come up with nothing. Bodie posed his thoughts.

"I disagree with Ross."

"No news there, 3.7." Alpha One retorted.

"I think this has always been personal. It's about Quinn. It started there and that murder was different, more emotional, personal. It is someone in his life, we need to dig up more on the people around him."

"But they don't live in Brentby," Cowley reminded them, doubtful that Ross could be so far off.

"Call it a hunch."

George Cowley motioned for Patty to follow 3.7's suggestion.

It was almost lunchtime when Betty's search concluded. She handed the sheets to Alpha One. "Nothing remarkable, sir."

"That's a good girl. Thank you. Go and have lunch." Cowley waved her away and read through the information.

Ray Doyle met Murphy at the caf in town. He purposely didn't go to Charlie's, that was sure to make folks take notice. Afterwards they went to the Pendragon for bingo and Ray was met with surprised stares and mute disappointment at his attendance with a stranger and Bodie's absence.

Some asked after Bodie and Ray told them that he was on assignment. Doyle watched everyone. He had received a second note yesterday and knew they were close. This time Bodie had been right about the motive.

Doyle and Murphy giggled, horsed around and attracted as much attention as grown men could throughout the afternoon. When bingo ended they parted ways. Murphy headed back to London and Doyle went back to the house.

He greeted Mrs Hooper as she was placing more home-made pies in the freezer. He headed to the exercise room, Bodie didn't have her usually clean in here. Doyle figured he could stay out of her way, make it easier for her and possibly get some good food out of it.

The CI5 controller watched Bodie enter and sit down. He asked one half of his best team, "Did you know that Mrs Hooper had a husband?"

"Yes, I figured he was dead, she being a good cook and all."

"She took her name back after the divorce. Her husband is very much alive, only his paramour is dead," Alpha One announced.

"Eh? What are you saying?" He waited for his boss' coup d' gr'ce .

"Peter Quinn is her ex-husband."

"Bloody hell, and Doyle is alone at the house, he's been openly flirting with others these last two weeks." Bodie rushed out of the office and the building. That neat and tidy thing had been at the back of his thoughts; he damned himself for not connecting it. He put the light on top and ran the siren all the way.

Cowley was stunned to be privy to Bodie's emotions. Usually his personal feelings were kept well hid, but he had just seen the naked fear that now held Bodie. He picked up the phone to call Doyle.

Murphy was on his way back to London when Bodie's Ghia passed him at double the speed he was travelling; light flashing, siren blaring. He flipped on his R/T, Bodie must have a reason to be travelling so fast. It immediately began beeping.

"6.2. Where've you been?" Cowley barked.

"Was on the undercover, sir. My R/T was off." His voice implied that it should have been obvious, Cowley knew of the assignment.

"Never mind that now. Get back there quick. Doyle isn't answering the phone or his R/T. GET BACK THERE NOW." Cowley barked the order loudly.

"Yes, sir," Murphy squealed a one eighty and headed back to Bodie's house.

After he had finished stretching, he fixed the weights on the both sides of the barbell. He and Bodie didn't start out with the same amount of weight. Doyle then lay back on the bench and lifted the bar directly over his chest. He was in the middle of his second reps when the housekeeper entered the room.

"Mrs Hooper, I tried to stay out of your way."

"Yes." She moved closer and thumped his chest and hit his solar plexus with a broom handle. The abrupt movement jarred his arms and the barbell fell down onto his chest.

Ray gave an oomph of protest and a second one as the housekeeper pushed down hard on the bar, putting extreme pressure to Doyle's ribs.

"You'll be staying out of the way permanently, now," she told him very matter-of-factly.

Stalling for time he asked, "Why?"

"Mr Bodie's one of the nice ones. He doesn't deserve to be saddled with a tramp. He'd never leave you, no matter how you break him. I'm doing him a favour. He can find someone more worthy only if you're dead."

Doyle saw Mrs Hooper lift a dumbbell over her head. He knew it was intended for his head. Ray managed to shift his body enough just as the blow was lowered so that he missed the killing strike. It did render him unconscious and he slipped to the floor, barbell falling on his hip, dumbbell falling to the floor.

Mrs Hooper set about tiding the room before she finished off Doyle. She didn't want to leave a mess behind for Mr Bodie to clean. She took her housekeeping duties seriously and she would not create disorder. When she was done she picked up her weapon again.

Katie Hooper stood there with dumbbell in hand, ready to strike the unconscious figure.

An agonised cry of, "No!" rang out and Hooper paused. Bodie rushed to the crumpled form, flung the barbell aside and scooped him into his arms. The crumpled figure on the carpet caused a horrid memory to return. In his mind's eye Bodie could still see Ray lying motionless, chest bleeding from the assassin's bullet. He had never wanted to see Doyle that way again. He rested his head onto Doyle's, tears stinging his eyes, cursing himself for being too late. "Why? He's my whole life."

"Ach, he would `ave only broken your heart. A broken heart is so hard to live with. You make the break permanent and you can start afresh." She still looked prepared to club.

"Is that why you killed Peter's lover?" A weak, but alive Ray asked.

Bodie took a deep breath as his heart started again.

Kate Hooper answered as she advanced closer to the pair. She intended to knock Bodie out and finish off Doyle. "Anthony was seen with others. Peter was going to catch him and then he'd run off and I wouldn't be able to protect him anymore."

"What's Peter to you?" Ray asked as Bodie clutched on tightly to him, not involved in the conversation.

"The love of my life." The tone was all pain.

"The others?" Doyle asked again.

"I was doing them a favour. Them who step out can't be trusted. Can't recover from a broken heart, can from death. Take my word, you'll see. You'll feel better after awhile." She spoke to Bodie as she rushed the men with the weight. With a swing above her head she was about to strike. Bodie covered Ray's body with his just as a shot rang out from the door.

Kate Hooper fell to the floor as Murphy holstered his gun.

Cowley listened to each man's report. After Murphy was excused, Cowley conveyed his thoughts. "You boys did fair. Took longer than it should have, but the Prime Minster is pleased, so that's something. Was even left with the opinion that you boys were easy to work with. Well, he won't hear the truth from me." Cowley seemed to think that was enough.

Excused by hand motion, Bodie and Doyle made for the door.

Cowley managed a last word, "Clean the house out, then three weeks. Not a day more."

Surprised, Doyle and Bodie gaped at their boss.

Cowley looked up at his agents, "Well, what are you still doing here?" Without another word the Controller found himself alone in his office. He smiled.

Bodie and Doyle returned to the Brentby house in separate vehicles. Doyle was prepared to tow the motor bike trailer back to London.

The property belonging to CI5 was already removed. It was left to Bodie and Doyle to remove the personal items and to clean out the fridge. That duty was left to Bodie. Doyle believed that his bottomless pit of a partner would make quick work of the food within.

While Doyle was busy packing his belongings, Bodie stood by the large front window and stared out mutely. His thoughts were on a conversation with Foley a week before.

Doyle had left to use the loo and Foley watched Bodie.

"Are you acting?" The solicitor's tone indicated that he thought not.

Bodie merely looked at him, blinking vacant eyes. Neither confirming nor denying.

Foley ventured further, "I don't think you are. You should tell him. He seems to genuinely care for you."

Bodie nodded, "He does, but not that way. We're partners, we cover each other's back. That takes a lot of caring."

"Do you really want to miss what could be because you were afraid to take a chance?"

Bodie hadn't answered then, and he had no real answer now. He watched Doyle cart a box, then two to his car and felt a great sense of loss.

He would lament the future if he didn't at least make the effort. He turned and watched Ray.

"You need help packing, mate?" Doyle asked of the motionless man.

"Ya know, it's funny, but I find I'm gonna miss this."

"This what?"

"This easy time, the gentleness. Being in a relationship and not having to explain why I'm in a rotten mood or angry. I've been able to be me, got a bit spoiled, I have."

Doyle wasn't clear on all what his partner was saying. He was probably reading more into the offhand observations. He opted for middle of the road. "Know what you mean, mate."

Bodie looked directly at his partner, "Do you?"

Doyle dropped his bag by the door.

"We have three weeks holiday, why don't we stay here and unwind a bit?" He waited for Doyle's response.

"Bodie, we've been in each other's pockets for months. I'm looking forward to sleeping in my own bed and finding a willing bird or two." Doyle wiggled his brows for emphasis.

Bodie nodded. His face showed no emotion, his voice gave nothing away. "See you back in town, then." He turned away from the door and headed back to the work out room.

"See you." Doyle closed the door behind him, feeling that he missed something but hadn't a glimmer what it could be. He stowed his bag in the boot and headed back to London.

At least he knew. Bodie was trying to console himself with that knowledge, but it brought no comfort. In those few moments while still unenlightened, Bodie did learn one useful tidbit. He could not go back to London, work along side his partner and never be allowed to kiss his lips, drink in his scent or touch his hardness.

With all he had gained, he had also lost. This chapter in his life had drawn to a close. He made plans accordingly.

The day after the Brentshire op was all wrapped up, the house was released for relisting. Bodie went to the agent's office and purchased the house for himself. It would be a good place to live, the residents, while concerned, would leave him alone. They wouldn't intrude on the spurned man and that would suit him fine.

He drove to London in the wee hours, first stopping at a rented garage for his personal vehicle. He cleared out all of his possessions and left his work motor there. Next, he cleared his flat out, then stopped by headquarters. He cleaned out his locker, taking the contents to his personal motor before leaving his letter of resignation. He left the car keys and location along with the flat keys atop the letter on Betty's desk. Bodie left the dilapidated CI5 headquarters without looking back.

Bodie had to wait out the two week escrow period before he could take up residence. He rented a modest bedsit for the duration in Kent. He didn't want familiar faces or landscape. His days had a comfortable rote about them. He ran ten kilometres in the morning, sat alone in a pub throughout the afternoon and watched the box with takeaway each night. No surprises, no criminals, no Doyle, except in his dreams where he could escape nothing.

At the end of the second week, there was a break in the routine. There was a knock at the door.

Gun in hand, Bodie opened the door. Cowley stood there.

"I've resigned."

"Months notice, Bodie. It's in the fine print."

"Dock the pay owed." Bodie left his ex-boss at the door and moved back to his chair.

"I can withhold your retirement." The CI5 leader followed him in.

Bodie shrugged uncaringly.

Cowley stifled a sigh. He resigned himself to the fact that he might have possibly lost Bodie.

"One job. One last assignment. Northern Ireland, you've been there before. Your face would be familiar, not out of place." He didn't pursue the other matter.

The posture of the sitting man hadn't altered, but the voice was incredulous, "Belfast?"

"Yes, Bodie, Jimmy Patrick." The Controller detected a modicum of interest.

"He's suppose to be dead."

"Aye, but apparently not."

Bodie fixed Cowley with a stare, but his thoughts remained unreadable. "What's the job?"

"Confirm or deny information, if possible."

"And my resignation?" Bodie hadn't forgotten.

"Will be official at the completion of this assignment."

Bodie nodded.

"I'll pull Doyle in and send him up."

"No Doyle. Not negotiable."

"See here, you need back up and Doyle is..."

"No Doyle. I'll refuse the assignment."

Cowley paused, he didn't like terms, not even from his own men. This time, though, there didn't seem to be a choice. He could see that Bodie was serious. "Murphy. Some of the our operatives there will be available to you, as well. We just want to know what they know."

Bodie took the plane ticket, bitterly aware that Cowley had been that sure of him.

By the end of the first week Doyle was surprised and a little annoyed that Bodie hadn't called. It was just like his friend to pout about not getting his way on where they would spend their holiday. He would just have to go pounding on his door to get his attention.

When he got no answer, Doyle fished out his key. They both had each other's keys and Ray had just let himself in. Doyle was surprised by the empty feeling he got upon entrance, so he wandered about the flat. The place not only didn't appear to be lived in, it appeared to be vacant of Bodie's personal possessions.

Had Bodie been moved again and not notified him? That would be taking this pout a bit too serious. But if he wanted to play the martyr, he'd let him have it for a few more days. Bodie would call, he always did.

By the end of the second week, Doyle was lonely. The birds had waned in their ability to distract him and he missed the camaraderie he'd always found in his partner. He went to CI5 headquarters.

It was odd, but Doyle got the impression that no one wanted to meet his eye. It was confirmed when Jax purposely turned away. He stopped at Betty's desk. "What's up?"

"Go right in, he's expecting you." Betty told him without looking up.

Doyle puzzled on that, how could he be expected, he was on leave. He knocked.

"Come in."

"What's going on? Where's Bodie?"

Cowley was disappointed but not that surprised. "You don't know?"

"I went to his flat, it's empty."

"Well, yes, he resigned,"


"He's working his notice off currently."

"Where? What reason did he give for resigning? What in the hell happened?" Doyle's voice raised an octave with each question.

Cowley saw both the bewilderment and confusion. His last hope was dashed, he had been counting on Doyle to know what was eating Bodie.

"What's he working on? I can join him." Ray was adamant.

"No, Doyle. He specifically requested that you not be involved."

"I'm his bloody partner..."

"He made it a condition of doing the job. I can't have him abandon it before it's played out."

"Bloody can't let him go."

"How do I keep him, Doyle?"

"The bloody fine print."

"Not this time, son. I'm sorry." Cowley watched Doyle storm out of the office and wondered how long it would take him to ferret out Bodie's position. Cowley knew that any hope of Bodie remaining with CI5 was in Doyle's hands.

Doyle only received shrugs of ignorance form his workmates. None of their grasses knew and Doyle felt shut out. He went round to the pub that Murphy, Anson and Jax frequented and found two of the three there.

"Where's Murph?"

Doyle's workmates seemed relieved not to be questioned about Bodie.

"On assignment." Jax answered.

"Where?" Doyle prodded.

"Didn't say. Was just gone when I got in." Jax answered again.

"Would he be with Bodie?" Doyle was getting angry at the stonewall.

"Don't know. Didn't say."

"Damn it, Jax, why the bloody runaround?" Doyle vented a lot of his pent up frustration into the request.

"We don't know anything about him. Rumours, but those are always floating about. If we're to hear anything about him, we're supposed to keep it to ourselves, his safety and all. That's really what we know." Jax was doing all the talking. Anson was just sipping his ale.

Doyle slapped the tabletop. "He's my partner. I should be there." He drank his pint solemnly, then headed for the loo. When he returned his mates were gone, but they had paid the ticket.

He was half way home when he noticed the paper scrunched in the window well. He pulled over and fished out the scrape. It was an unsigned note in what looked suspiciously like Anson's hand. Only one word; Belfast.

It took Doyle three days to get to Belfast and locate Murphy. It took a few favours and a few pounds to get the necessary information.

He slipped into the makeshift headquarters and located the CI5 man. "Where's Bodie?" Doyle demanded belligerently.

"Bloody hell, Doyle, how'd ya know?" Murphy was surprised to see Ray Doyle.

"Know what?"

"Bodie's cover's blown. My grass says the meet is a set-up. All arranged by Liam O'Leary's brother." Murphy was glad to see Doyle. Bodie had a better chance now.


"Warehouse at the end of the alley. We've tried to contact him, head him off but he's not answering and no where to be found."

"He wouldn't," Doyle knew his partner. "Normally he'd of given his partner the place and time. Since he's working solo, he'd go in and hope the back up would do their job. Not the same as having a partner." Doyle's anger evident in his voice. More worried now at knowing O'Leary was involved, he'd blow his own deal to exact revenge.

Doyle grabbed the vest off Murphy, put it on, then turned around and stomped off in the direction of the warehouse.

"Doyle, where are you going? The section chief doesn't want to blow the stake out." Murphy yelled at the retreating figure.

Doyle ignored him completely and headed on foot to the building that Murph had first pointed out. He ran once he was away from cover and reached the side closest to the entrance. He checked the clip on his weapon before heading inside.

Dressed all in black from head to toe, Bodie crept into the building through an air vent in the roof. He dropped onto the catwalk and stealthy made his way to the rendezvous site. He didn't trust the grass that set this up but if on the off chance it was okay, he would be done with CI5 and he could be out of here.

He moved silently behind the boxes and crates that were cast about everywhere. He found a place to wait, out of view of all who would pass. He had to wait just over an hour before Jimmy Patrick and his men showed. Bodie recognised the bloke next to him, Sean O'Leary. He was right, this probably was a trap.

He was set to put the plan in motion when the biggest foul up that could occur did. Bloody Ray Doyle. He waltzed in the front entrance as noisy as he could be. Damn the man.

Bodie moved out and swung around to get between Doyle and O'Leary.

"Bodie," Doyle yelled out. "Bodie, I need to see you, now."

The man in question shook his head, not only does Doyle announce himself, but announces that Bodie was in the building. And Doyle sounded ticked.

Patrick's men scattered out of view and Bodie kept his eye on O'Leary. When his rifle was raised and Doyle was in the line of view, Bodie sprung into action. He yelled at the top of his lungs and put himself in the line of fire, protecting Doyle from the weapon fire while shooting his own gun.

The immediate area about Doyle was rained with bullets, many hitting Bodie's body. Bullet fire from behind Doyle scattered across the area and he ran to cover Bodie's body.

Fitzgerald, the northern area chief, tried to pull Doyle to safety, telling Ray that Bodie was done for. Fitzgerald didn't see the fist that collided with his jaw. No one separated Doyle from Bodie.

Doyle screaming his name was the last sound Bodie heard as all went dark about him.

Organised chaos ensued as the CI5 operatives rounded up O'Leary, Patrick and the rest of his surviving men.

Doyle was oblivious to all this and to Fitzgerald's ire. Doyle stayed by Bodie's side all the way to the hospital.

The nurses had to pry Doyle's hands off the wounded man. He only left the operating theatre on the promise that they would update him every half hour.

Ray stood by the door, watching, waiting for the reports. He was holding his own. They didn't know. They almost lost him. He was going to make it.

Doyle took his first breath of relief since he got there. He looked at his watch, seven hours had passed. He didn't remember anything save Bodie. He didn't know when Murphy had showed up, but he found a cup of coffee in his hands, half full.

He nodded his thanks and started, "Bodie..."

"I heard." Murphy told him and then suggested, "You should go rest." Murph wasn't surprised by the negative shake of Doyle's head.

"Nah, I'll stay and see him to his room."

"We have a bit of time, why don't you dictate your report to me. That way you don't have to see Fitzgerald. The right to his jaw doesn't have you on his good list."

"I hit him?" Doyle asked, distracted as he watched the closing of the last wound.

"Like a pro." Murphy grinned. He hadn't liked working for the pompous ass.


"When he tried to drag you away from Bodie." Murphy clarified.

"Oh, that bloke. He said Bodie was done for. I wasn't listening to that rot." Doyle shrugged as though his action was completed justified.

Murphy shook his head. That partnership. Nothing like it in all of CI5. Doyle will soon straighten out his contrary partner, of that, Murphy was sure.

He led Doyle to the chairs and forced a report out of him.

The nurse took pity at the haunted look in Doyle's eyes and sneaked him into the intensive care room. She even brought him a chair. She was gratified to see him rest Mr Bodie's hand in his and sit quietly beside him.

Twelve hours and a wee nap later found Doyle still next to Bodie's side. The heart monitor changed a bit before Bodie opened his eyes.

Bodie tried to speak but his dry throat prevented any words from emerging. Doyle spooned a couple of ice chips into his mouth and Bodie sucked gratefully.

Seeing Doyle alive by his side removed the worry he'd had if Ray had made it out unscathed. He thought he had dreamed Doyle by his side, hearing his voice encouraging him to live. Now, knowing was Ray was fine allowed Bodie to close his eyes in relief and let sleep claim him once more.

When Bodie was ready to be removed from intensive care he was transferred to a London hospital under Cowley's orders. He wanted Bodie out of Belfast to prevent any reprisals against him.

As Bodie healed, he became more difficult and obstinate each day. Doyle was pleased that his partner was getting better. He was dismayed when Bodie refused all visitors.

The cemetery welcomed him. The running path was an automatic for his legs. He and Bodie had done this countless times here.

It was quiet. It was familiar

It was a place that he wouldn't be finding Bodie in. This time.

Damn the man. They were a team. They worked best as a team, they always did.

Why did Bodie want to bust it up now? He was brooding about something, but he hadn't confided it.

He had George worried, Doyle could read that rather easily. The old controller was finding that he couldn't control everyone. When Bodie got his back up there was no getting through and certainly no controlling him.

He had to talk some sense into his partner, make him realise that last week would not have happened if they'd done it together. He headed to his motor for another trip to the hospital.

Talking to his partner wasn't as easy as it sounded, especially if he was being particularly stubborn and mulish. It took a lot of noise and ranting at the nurses to get Bodie to relent and allow Ray in.

"Well you don't look dead anymore." It wasn't great as an opening line but it was the truth.

"Ta." Bodie looked away from the man and focused out the window; seeing Doyle was a balm he couldn't afford.

"You forget you had a partner?" Doyle asked the question that had been upper most in his mind.

"On holiday, you were."

"When has that ever mattered before?"

Bodie said nothing, just kept his face toward the window.

Doyle knew by the set of his partner's features, Bodie was done with that subject. He'd just have to try another. "What fool stunt were you trying to pull at the warehouse, Bodie?"

"Fool stunt? Saving your life, sunshine."

Doyle's memories were too vivid of what he almost lost. His fear came out as anger. "Running out into the open like that?"

"Didn't give me much choice, now did you? Walking into the middle of a take down. What were you thinking?" Bodie shook his head.

"It was a trap, Bodie. The take down was you. So, what in the hell were you thinking?" Doyle's ire was no longer in question.

"Thought it possible, I was hidden until you showed up." Bodie threw it back on his partner.

"You knew it was a trap and you went anyway?" Doyle was standing now.

"Wasn't sure, I said."

"You trying to take yourself out of the game?"

"Nope, wore the vest, didn't I?"

Doyle snorted, "Both know that in a hail of fire the vest is only for show. You fooled the Cow, but I'm thinking different."

"Couldn't go out here, mate, you'd take it upon yourself to feel guilt. You take on enough, didn't want to add."

"Oh, and you go to Africa and buy it there, that would be different?"

"Merking is a dangerous job."

"You'd make sure of that, wouldn't you, Bodie."

"I'm not gonna die, mate, just looking for something more exciting. Look, sunshine, I'm fine. You've done your duty. I'm tired." His tone dismissed Doyle.

"You dumb crud, you think I'm here because of duty?"

Bodie shrugged. He closed his eyes as he sunk his head into the pillow, shutting Doyle out.

Ray lost the opportunity to say more as Cowley followed by the doctor, entered the room.

Bodie kept his eyes closed, he had no wish to speak with Cowley, he hadn't kept Doyle away. Bodie just wanted to be left alone.

Cowley nodded at Doyle before he turned to the doctor behind him. "When can he be released?"

"Day after tomorrow."

"Fine." Cowley half expected Bodie to complain and demand to leave today, but nothing was forthcoming from the man in the hospital bed.

The doctor looked at his patient, saw the strain and turned back to the two men. "He needs rest now."

Cowley nodded at the doctor. He saw the mutinous look set on Doyle's face and tried to head it off.

"Step outside, Doyle." It was a command and 4.5 knew it. He followed Cowley into the corridor.

"Antagonising 3.7 has not always been the most effective method of getting him to cooperate, or have you forgotten that?" Cowley was pensive, watching Doyle closely.

"Someone's got to change his mind." Doyle defended.

"Well, you'll get your chance, laddie. You're in charge of his convalescence." Cowley directed his full gaze upon his agent, "Do a good job."

He strolled in during a shift change. He stopped just inside the door. Bodie's eyes were closed but he could tell that he wasn't asleep.

Doyle was glad to see that his colour was better.

Bodie gave a resigned sigh, "Come and say your piece, Ray, I'll get no rest `til you do."

"Didn't come to fight with ya." Doyle moved to the chair closer to the bed.

"Hard to believe that, mate, you were standing there working up to a rant." Bodie closed his eyes to the sight of Ray Doyle. He wanted so much to hold him, glad that he was alive.

"Damn it, Bodie, I should've been there to watch your back. This wouldn't've happened."

"Doesn't matter, Doyle, I'm outta it now."


"I'm leaving England."

"Bloody hell, Bodie, just tell me why."

"You ever want something so bad but you know you can't have it? Well, I know, so it's time to move on."

"You're not fighting for what you want?"

"I'm not going to ruin everything by pushing. I accept what is and move on. Best that way."

"I've said it before, you're a moron."

Bodie shrugged, "I accept and move on, that's how I deal with pain."

"Bull, I've seen you nearly choke a man to death when you were in pain."

"Choking a man to death, no matter how tempting, wouldn't do here."

Frustrated at what he was missing, "I don't understand, Bodie."

"I know, Ray," Bodie's voice was resigned.

Aggressively, "You're getting released day after tomorrow. I'll pick you up. No arguments."

"Okay, Ray." Bodie agreed aloud, he knew he wouldn't be here.

When Doyle returned to the hospital to pick up his partner he was told that Mr Bodie had checked himself out yesterday. Pointless to rant at the hospital staff, Doyle rushed off with the intention of confronting Bodie at his place. He remembered half way to the flat that Bodie didn't live there anymore and he didn't know where his partner was. He steered the vehicle toward headquarters.

Cowley had to know where Bodie was, the Controller always knew. Doyle was disappointed.

"The location in Kent was obviously temporary. He gave up the lodgings when he went to Belfast. He hasn't checked into any hotels in or around London."

Doyle knew that his boss was out looking, "One of his birds?"

"Checked, nothing." The failure was etched into his features.

Doyle felt a panic well up inside, "You're not letting him resign?" He slammed his hand upon the desk.

"I gave him my word." Cowley sat back and ignored Doyle's bad behaviour.

"You can't."

"I can't stop him if it's what he really wants."

Doyle heard all that Cowley left unsaid. Angry, he pounded the wall with his fist. "Why? I don't understand why?" Doyle looked for any indication that his boss knew what the reason was, but he could see that head of CI5 was as clueless as he.

"You find out, laddie, then you can change his mind." Cowley stood and walked out of the office. Doyle's temper could wreck havoc in his office.

"Me? He doesn't even want to work with me." Bitterness etched his words as he followed his boss into the hallway.

"Why? Did you ask yourself why?" Cowley didn't provide any of his own thoughts. He did have suspicions, yes, but that was all. "You're one half of my best team, fix it." Cowley left Doyle standing speechless in the hallway.

Doyle snapped his helmet on and the bike roared to life under his touch. He pointed the bike in the direction of the countryside and took off. On the straightaway he built up speed and had to concentrate through traffic. The curvy roads kept his thoughts occupied and allowed the absence of the tormented notions to be a balm to his active mind.

He reached a scenic turnout and stopped his bike. He dangled his feet off the edge overlooking a deep gorge. He picked up a handful of pebbles and threw them, one at a time, over the side. His thoughts a jumble, he tried to find some semblance or order within.

"Damn it, Bodie. Damn it, Bodie. Damn it, Bodie." Doyle cursed his mate aloud. His head fell into his hands.

Why did he have to go and change things? Everything was fine the way it was.

A little voice taunted, `You know.'


Bloody hell, sex shouldn't have changed anything. But it did, it had, he admitted reluctantly. At the beginning it felt just like a one-off would have, but it evolved, became more intimate.

`You helped it along,' the voice taunted again. `You gave back.'

`Oh, I was supposed to stay the selfish bastard?' Doyle demanded of the voice.

`It might have been better for Bodie if you had,' the whisper seemed very loud.

`I couldn't,' Doyle defended himself to himself. `Bodie changed it. It wasn't just getting off on the lust. He learned every centimetre, was tender, gentler, hard and rough, what ever was desired, anything to

Why would he do that?

Damn the crud, the whole damn thing was like a courtship...bloody hell. Had it been a courtship?

Had Bodie courted me? ... Could Bodie love me?

Not just as a partner, not just as a mate...but as a lover? Bloody hell.'

Doyle didn't want to think anymore. He threw the rest of the rocks over the edge and got back on the bike. He headed out with no direction in mind.

He was bombarded with images of the last five months. He couldn't forget them, he couldn't ignore them. They were stored in the good part of his memory. It was in that moment that Doyle realised that he had indeed enjoyed every moment spent in Bodie's company, even when they got up each other's noses. It had been okay because it was Bodie.

He had missed him after the op...he remembered Bodie's invitation to holiday and his offhand reply. Now, in retrospect, it had been more than a simple invite, but a major one and he had rebuffed his mate and Bodie had retreated like a wounded animal.

Doyle forgot that his tough, sometimes seemingly emotionally remote partner could actually be wounded very easily.

What had he said in the hospital? Something about wanting something... then he remembered, Bodie had said, `You ever want something so bad but you know you can't have it?' Ray never asked what it was. He had to wonder at himself, why had he let that slip by, it was the heart of the whole problem.

That pesky little voice reared its ugly sound once more, `You're afraid of what it is because you know what it is.'

The sex hadn't been the one-off kind, it had been the real kind, the kind that meant love. And now, Bodie believed that he couldn't have what he wanted so badly...Ray Doyle.

Ray recalled with startling clarity, Bodie using himself as a human shield to protect him from the gunfire. He also had vivid recall of how he felt when that jackass had said that Bodie was done for. He had refused to believe that he wouldn't have Bodie in his life, in his arms again. In his arms? That thought had been there and it was time to face it.

He could have stopped the superfluous sex at any time, he hadn't wanted to. It had become an unconscious way of conveying his love without having to admit it aloud or to himself. The birds afterward had been unsatisfying because they couldn't elicit all that Bodie had.

With Bodie, he was Ray Doyle and he never had to apologise for it or for his work. Bodie had said something similar and he was right, it was gratifying not to have to explain what you did and why; to have that someone who could share it with you and truly understand.

He needed to find Bodie.

Two weeks and Ray still didn't have a line on Bodie. The worst part for Ray was knowing that Bodie was brooding alone while he was convalescing. He needed some care and it should have been him.

Cowley had been more than decent, hadn't asked much of him in the way of work. He'd been asked to meet with Foley, otherwise he'd been left alone to find Bodie.

Doyle knew that the Old Man had feelers out but not a full-scale search. The Controller was trying to respect Bodie's wishes while still getting his way.

The meeting with Jason Foley was set for this afternoon. Doyle figured it was a closure thing for him and Cowley had asked, not demanded. Doyle pulled up in front of the house and collected the box with the bronze horse from the back seat.

Foley greeted him warmly and accepted the box with mute thanks. Jason had coffee waiting for the agent as he was seated.

"You were always punctual." Foley smiled with his explanation as he prepared the cup the way Doyle took it from memory then handed it to him. "I really wanted to thank you personally. I know my godfather conveyed his thanks, but I wished to do so myself. It doesn't make it better but there is the satisfaction in knowing that his killer has been caught. I haven't figured out yet if it's better or worse that it wasn't a personal vendetta against Martin." His sadness still weighed heavily in his voice.

Doyle knew there were not words to mend him so he addressed a different subject within the topic. "I'm sorry the local police were inept in seeing a connection earlier. If it's any consolation, Mr Cowley has wrought some changes there," Doyle smiled maliciously, "Many new assignments." He left it unsaid but implied that the new assignments were less than the officers would have wanted.

"Glad to hear that. I sold my house in Brentby, too many memories." Foley paused, them added with deliberate casualness, " I was surprised to see Mr Bodie there."

Ray jumped on the information. "When?"

"This last weekend. I had to go up to sign the final papers on the house."

"Was he there visiting Emma Greene? He became quite fond of her." Doyle's heart hammered within his chest. It was a place to start.

"Well, I didn't talk to him, but Emma told me that he's been at the house recovering, she didn't say what from."

Puzzled, "House? That was a CI5 rental."

Foley shook his head, he was pleased by the eager need he saw in the man's eyes. "Not according to Emma. Evidently, Bodie now owns it."

"He lives there."

The statement was said with such relief that Foley was ridiculously pleased with himself. He had been almost sure that the CI5 man had returned Bodie's interest and now it was confirmed. He couldn't miss Doyle's desire to leave immediately to suss out his mate.

Foley provided a way, "I don't want to keep you, I just wanted the chance to say thank you."

Ray took the opening offered and left.

A few phone calls later and Bodie's whereabouts were confirmed. Ray Doyle packed. He made a call to Cowley before leaving.

"I found Bodie." It was a statement. Ray didn't share the whereabouts of his wayward partner, just that he had been located. Ray truly believed that if Cowley wanted he'd have Bodie located straightway, but this time he must have wanted him to do the finding.

"You're going, I take it." Cowley's tone communicated that it was a given.

"If Bodie doesn't return, then I won't be returning either, sir."

"That has already been assumed, 4.5."

Rays eyes narrowed, he didn't like being second-guessed, but with Cowley it should have been a given. Double think was a way of life for the Controller and knowing his agents better than they did themselves didn't seem far off.

Emma Greene watched that heartbreaker, Ray Doyle, walk into her shop and her first instinct was to take a broom to him. She chided herself, Mr Bodie had confessed the truth, or part of it with her regarding the murders, Katie Hooper, poor soul, and Ray Doyle, who was really a copper.

He didn't share how he had come to be injured or his real feelings regarding this man before her, but she knew, no one could fake the depth of love she saw shinning out of those brooding eyes.

Ray Doyle didn't look as beautiful or as confident today, in fact, to Emma's critical eyes, Ray Doyle looked a bit haunted. But she wasn't prepared to give an inch; he had hurt one of her own, adopted, but hers. She folded her arms across her chest and stared at Ray Doyle.

Ray met the hostile stare with honesty. "I would like to purchase a bottle of Bodie's favourite wine."

She chose a costly one and felt a twinge of remorse as the man handed her his card without even looking at the price.

"I'm hoping to find Bodie at home," Ray confessed. He was hoping she'd confirm his whereabouts.

She regarded him with wary eyes, "Where else would he be in his shape? You should've been here taking care of him." Her censure begged an answer.

"I would've been if I had known where he was." Doyle knew her curiosity was from a genuine caring.

"You gonna leave him wounded again?"

Doyle knew she wasn't referring to the physical injuries. "Not if I can help it. Never again."

"Okay then." Emma nodded, maybe Mr Bodie would smile again. She watched him leave.

Bodie heard the crunch on the gravel out front heralding the arrival of an unsolicited guest. He heard the knock on the door, wiped his hands and headed to answer it. The face on the other side was not one he had expected to see. Ray Doyle.

The man was a persistent bugger and one that wouldn't leave without an interview. Resigned, Bodie left the door ajar and returned to the kitchen to finish preparing his tea.

Doyle was relieved, the door hadn't been slammed in his face. He followed Bodie into the house and closed the door behind him.

Bodie offered tea without words and Doyle accepted the same way.

Doyle waited for his unusually silent friend to finish and sit down before he followed, grabbing a handful of grapes on the way. Ray popped one into his mouth before remarking casually, "I was just wondering what we're gonna do with our retirement?" He acted as though there had been no time lapse from the last time they talked. He acted as though leaving CI5 was a joint decision.

"Eh?" Bodie was completely thrown by Doyle's question. It wasn't what he expected.

"Our retirement. I'm not staying in that mob without you, so I was curious what our plans are now?" Doyle waited, but all Bodie did was blink owlishly at him. Doyle tried again, "You said you weren't going back, so I want to know what our plans may include."

"What are you going on about?" Bodie was yet unclear of Doyle's meaning ... retirement and what not.



"Yeah, us."

Bodie tried to work out all the different us's that Ray could be meaning. "Us?" He repeated as though a young parrot in training.

"Yeah, Bodie, you and me." The soft tender look was hard to misconstrue.

"What are you sayin' here?" Hope unfurled as a tender bud when Bodie looked directly at Ray. There was a warmth in his eyes that he wasn't use to seeing directed at him.

"I didn't think you were that thick."

Bodie would indeed be thick if he didn't now understand Ray's meaning. "Thick enough," his tone changing to lustful and lascivious.

"I can't be positive, haven't completed all the testing, now have I?" Ray smiled, Bodie understood.

Bodie hardened at just the thought of what Ray was implying. "

Ray moved closer to Bodie, hoping the body language would mirror the facial expressions. Bodie opened his arms and Ray crawled inside. A relaxed contentment filled him, at last he felt found that missing integral part of himself. He smiled.

Bodie felt the smile and asked, "What?"

"I had to ask myself why it was just your taste I was wanting?" He licked the side of the neck closest to him. "The birds did their thing just fine, but I felt somehow incomplete. Had to be honest with meself. It took a bit but I realised that I wanted you. So, then I had to wonder if I was a poof. So I checked out some fellas and nothing beyond a natural appreciation of beauty. So, I must be just bent for you."

"Like the sound of that. Same's true for you." Bodie took in another deep breath of Ray.

"Think you figured it out before me this time." Ray let his honest feelings show on his face, in his eyes.

"What do you mean this time?" The words may have seemed to take exception but the blue eyes had gone soft. And the walls that Bodie had sealed against all emotion dissolved in the love he saw for himself in Doyle's eyes.

Ray moved closer and Bodie's lips captured his. The softness, the texture, the taste was better than he remembered it, better than his dreams. He crushed Ray to him and plundered the mouth until they felt dizzy. They broke apart and chuckled at themselves.

Bodie nuzzled and snuffled Ray's neck and ear, content for the first time in a long while. He smiled as he felt Ray's hand inside his shirt, caressing his chest. He made lazy patterns on his partner's shoulder and back.

For a short while they were content with the reacquainting kisses and the feel of being in each other's arms again.

Doyle's curious nature couldn't remain silent for long. "Bodie, why are you, we, leaving CI5?"

"Couldn't work with you and not touch you. Not after I knew," Bodie admitted.

"You were always touching me," Ray smiled; he'd quite liked it.

Bodie held Doyle away from him, "Not that way, mate. I know your texture now, your taste. Couldn't do it, Ray, pretend that it hadn't come to mean something..." Bodie's voice softened, "..Special."

"Took me longer to realise it, but yeah, I know what you mean."

Ray leaned back against the warm, hard chest and asked the question that he started with, "We still leaving then?" He could feel Bodie's shrug.

"Don't have to now, if you don't want," Bodie told Ray as he nuzzled the smooth neck.

Ray stretched, exposing more for his mate's perusal. "We do some good, still want that," Ray admitted.

"Then we stay." For Bodie it was that simple. He'd work beside Ray, whatever they did. "The Old Man'll probably take me, us, back."

"Yeah, more than likely," Ray didn't mention that Cowley fully expected them back.

"The Cow would have to know." Bodie advised.

"We couldn't let on in the big way," Ray added.

"Probably shouldn't, but no more sleeping-with assignments." There was a great deal of possessiveness in Bodie's commanding voice.

"Absolutely not," Ray was surprised by his own possessive streak. He didn't want Bodie sleeping with anybody else.

Bodie took a deep breath, afraid to be honest, afraid not to be. "I've never wanted anybody the way I want you." He paused before he added, "Beside me the rest of my days."

Ray knew Bodie was making the commitment thing. He waited but he didn't feel put off, in fact he felt more than ready. He wanted Bodie totally. He let all he felt shine out through his eyes.

Bodie could feel Ray's ragged sigh of relief. It seemed that Ray needed him as much as he needed Ray. A wondrous joy over took his soul and all Bodie needed to know was there in the green eyes. His forever.

"God, Ray, I love you."

"Yeah, Bodie, I figured that out. I love you, too." Ray turned his head and captured Bodie's lips.

The kiss seemed to melt their lips together. When next they came up for air, they found they were lying on the bed partially undressed. Neither remembered getting there but resumed the kiss, discarding the rest of their clothes.

Bodie ran his hands up and down Ray's body reacquainting himself with all the planes and angles that he had so missed. He sucked in the seeping hardness, desperately needing the taste of this man. Ray responded instantly, arching up to get more and Bodie accommodated him, swallowing him deeper, squeezing his throat muscles tighter. Ray crested and Bodie devoured all he offered up.

Ray gave back in equal measure. He needed Bodie to feel that he was loved, so often Bodie understood the action better than the words. Ray felt complete and better than he had in a long, long while. He rolled, shifting Bodie to lie on top of him. He spread his legs and let Bodie fall between them. He wrapped his legs around the hard body and offered to Bodie what he had already so generously given him. The look of shy pleasure only added to Ray's arousal.

Bodie prepared him first with his tongue and then his fingers. He didn't want to cause his love any pain.

Little did he dream of at the start of this op that he would end up finding all he needed in the arms of his bionic golly.

Sheathed completely within the warmth, he thrust once to test Ray's readiness. His movement was answered with a backward push and moan. They found a rhythm that pleased both and this time Bodie knew it was for real. If possible, he enjoyed this closeness even more. Enveloped in Ray, Bodie knew he was committed to this man and it felt great. He could truly entertain the thought of always with Ray.

Bodie reached over Ray's hip and grasped his reawakened cock and worked in it in unison with his thrusts. His name never sounded so good and Ray's never felt so sweet.

Sated, head resting on Doyle's chest, listening to the steady beat of his heart, Bodie knew he was happy.

And that was okay.

-- THE END --

April 2003

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