"Are they here yet?" Cowley's impatient voice demanded from within his office.
"Yes, sir, just arrived," Betty replied with her characteristic calm, and she waved the two agents towards the open door of the inner sanctum with a flip of her hand which advised them to hurry.
Twenty minutes late and already guaranteed a healthy portion of their superior's wrath, Bodie and Doyle stepped promptly into the office, only to find Cowley now on the phone. Forced to wait in turn, each of the CI5 agents spent the time studying their boss, trying to judge his mood. Both were curious as to why they had been asked to report an hour early, and irritated the call had come late enough to make it impossible to arrive on time.
Doyle tried to keep a yawn from floating up past his jaw, but eventually had to put a hand up to his mouth and just let the thing happen so that he could be done with fighting it. Bodie, annoyed, let an elbow fall into Doyle's ribs with enough force to show how annoyed he was--because now he, too, was fighting a yawn.
And of course, he was the one caught with his mouth open when Cowley finally turned his attention to them.
"Sorry, sir," Bodie murmured.
Cowley did not have time for trivial matters. "Sit down," he ordered them both. They sat. Cowley pulled out a brown folder from the stack before him, slid his glasses onto his nose and began to speak as he opened the folder.
"You're off the Iponni case for the moment. Turn the information you've collected over to Jax before you leave here today. I have a new assignment for you, something you two are best suited to handle." He pulled a pair of photographs from the folder and handed them over. "This man has been living in this country for at least thirty-five years, using the name Robin Aubrey."
He paused while they looked over the photographs. They were of the same man, but taken at least twenty years apart. In each, he wore a white shirt and black pants, and he had obviously not stood for a portrait but was caught unawares. One picture featured some sort of banquet hall or meeting place, in the other, he was caught on his knees, ministering to some roses in a small garden. He was a grey sort of man, with non-memorable features and a plain face.
Doyle handed the pictures back, while counting back thirty-five years. World War II? "A spy, is he?" he asked.
"A good guess, Doyle, but not quite there. We believe him to be an English citizen, but with a German father. The father," Cowley consulted the sheet, "was a man named Hans Wilhelm Shenk. He did not marry Aubrey's mother." There was no censure in Cowley's words, only dry statements of fact.
"And what makes Mr Aubrey of interest to CI5?" Bodie wanted to know, handing the photographs back.
"We believe Aubrey was known in Germany, during the early war years, as Der Schrecken."
"The Terror? Horror?" Bodie worked out, unearthing it from his slight store of German.
"Exactly. The man is wanted for war crimes. Having established that Robin Aubrey is most probably this individual, he has been detained and held for transportation back to Germany, where there will be a trial. Problems, however, are developing hourly in this case."
So of course he's turning it over to us, Bodie thought, and let a bit of a sour smile escape. Doyle moved fractionally closer to him, expressing a silent agreement.
"What sort of problems?" Doyle asked, when Cowley didn't continue.
"Unique ones. First, the man was not a member of the German military or the government. He could claim dual citizenship, but as far as we know, he never did. He travelled on an English passport, as an English citizen. He was, as far as we can determine, a civilian, a student. There is some indication that he was in that country to locate and meet his father, who had abandoned the family when Aubrey was four years old. At any rate, he remained in Germany as the war began, possibly because he had a well paying job he didn't wish to leave. He was translating books from English into German. This was before the modern copyright laws, but even at that time it was a case of pure plagiarism. He also may have been translating German pamphlets into English."
Cowley paused to take a sip from the half full tea cup at his elbow. From his faint grimace, the two agents concluded it had grown quite cold. "He was connected with the writing community, and by association, with a segment of the arts and music fields as well. He had an active social life, out every evening by all accounts."
Bodie picked up the photographs again. "Him?" It seemed hard to believe.
Cowley ignored that. "He disappeared from Germany late in 1943. Assumed dead. However, that was also the time Der Schrecken ceased to operate."
"Operate?" Bodie asked, eyebrow flicked up as he asked the question. Beside him, Doyle fought the urge to reach up and touch that odd spot on Bodie's brows which so intrigued him. He remembered kissing it last night, licking it and sucking at it while Bodie laughed, called him mad and tried to push him away.
"Street name, code name, perhaps, for a man who turned in people to the Nazi government. Accounts vary, but he was responsible for between two and five hundred deaths, as most of the people he turned in were not seen again."
"The Jews," Bodie said.
"Actually, although there were some Jewish individuals involved, he seems to have had other targets. According to testimony, he betrayed," Cowley pulled out a sheet to consult, "a family from India, sixteen severely handicapped men, women and children in a private hospital, a group of gypsy women who may or may not have been prostitutes, a Jewish banker and family, and," he paused, "over two hundred homosexual men. These are the cases documented or partially documented. There most certainly were more, based on the amount of money he is estimated to have had at his disposal, and assuming he was paid a set rate for each betrayal. He received, apparently, modest pay for these services."
Beside him, Doyle felt Bodie go absolutely still. He was fighting a coldness in the pit of his own stomach as well. It was all he could do to keep his eyes on Cowley.
"It was by chance that Robin Aubrey was seen and identified last year, by tourists. The case against him was assembled quite slowly, and he was only arrested last month. There have been a number of delays as it was established that these were crimes which could be prosecuted, and to give the families of the victims time to come forward with statements and proof. A segment of records has been produced which proves payments were made...ach! You do not need all the details. It will suffice that you understand that there is evidence enough to prosecute and we have been asked to hold Robin Aubrey until special officers are sent from Interpol to escort him to the trial, which is to take place in Berlin."
Cowley took another sip of the tea, shook his head and shoved the cup aside and out of reach so that he would not be tempted again. "You are the best qualified for the task of guarding Aubrey. He has," here a cool smile touched Cowley's lips for a second, "escaped once. Last week. When MI6 were holding him."
Bodie's lips turned up as well. "One old man gave them the slip?" he asked, well able to imagine how the other agency felt about that small embarrassment, and quite glad to hear of their failure. He had no use for MI6 or Willis. It was his fondest hope that he could see Willis's downfall before he died. Or before Willis did.
"Quite. I understand Aubrey played on the sympathies of a homophobic agent and then attempted to escape. He was soon recaptured, but by a policeman, not one of MI6's own." Cowley's lips twitched. Doyle openly smiled, glad his old mob had also managed to put egg on the face of MI6. He had his own scores to settle with Willis and his goons. They had hurt Bodie, and were thereby automatically on Doyle's list.
"I need not point out to you that there must not be another escape attempt. I expect to turn over this prisoner on time and in good order. I know I can count on you. We will be using a new safe house; get the keys from Betty. Then go pick him up--this is the address--and wait for my call. It should be 48 to 54 hours before he'll be collected."
"Why not just leave him with the police?" Doyle wanted to know. "Nice cell should do the job of keeping him in."
"Because it is my understanding that there are elements who wish to prevent him from being questioned, from going to trial. Someone else, someone in this country, has secrets, connected to Aubrey's secrets, which they wish to conceal. I have only a report from MI6 to rely on in this matter," he added, frowning. It was a sad thing when you could not trust the reports and the information from your own side, but as long as Willis was in charge of that department, CI5 would never trust information from that source again. "There are too many people who have access to a jail. It will be better if he is guarded by people I know I can rely on utterly."
"Perhaps MI6 made the report up just to get their hands on him," Doyle said.
"Perhaps they let him escape," Bodie said bitterly, remembering his own "escape" which they had planned to make fatal.
"Aye, and perhaps paranoia can cripple a man--or an organization--in the end. For now, I want you to play a cautious game. If there is trouble, you know what to do. If you are placed in the position of having to shoot Aubrey, don't make it fatal. I do not want it said in the papers that we killed an old, defenceless man. Which would be said, although he is in good health and quite muscular for his age. Don't let his appearance fool you. He is a dangerous man."
"So one of us has to watch for trouble from the inside and the other for trouble from the outside. Easy," Bodie said, with light sarcasm.
The phone rang. Cowley dismissed them impatiently and turned his attention to the instrument. They left at once, collecting papers and a key from Cowley's secretary on their way out. She gave over the items impatiently, having been just going in with another pot of tea.
"Must be nice, having someone wait on you hand and foot, delivering tea at all hours, anticipating your every need," Bodie commented as they took the lift down.
"True. D'you suppose that's why he never married? Gets it all at work?" Doyle asked.
"All?" Bodie's eyebrow went up, his expression half scandalized, half laughing. "Can you imagine Betty...."
"No. I can't!"
Bodie shook his head. "Problem is, I can. Can see her kneeling there between his legs, sucking him off--very efficiently, mind you, our Betty is efficient in everything!--while he gets on with the paperwork! On the phone, perhaps, to the minister. He just has to listen and say "I see," and "Yes, of course you're right," every few minutes. Waste of time, that--unless you can do something else at the same time!"
"You've a horrible mind, Bodie!"
"Ah, but if it weren't for my horrible mind...." Bodie let the rest of the sentence trail away, as they were signing out.
He made Doyle smile, and that pleased Bodie. Both of them remembered quite well where Bodie's horrible mind had gotten them. In bed. Together.
Because he was thinking of their sex life, Doyle said as they slid into the car, "That will be more than two days, you know. Without."
His partner did not have to say without what. Bodie sighed. "Yeah. I know."
"Two days. We'll need to take along a kit, and clothing. Have to stop by my flat, and yours."
Bodie smiled. "So we will. My place first, or yours?"
"Mine's closer." Doyle was in the passenger seat, and Bodie was driving. Bodie, hampered by the early morning traffic, still made excellent time, and at this hour, at least there were parking spaces available in front of Doyle's flat. Doyle opened the locks, while Bodie waited with growing impatience. Once they were inside, and the locks in place again, they headed straight to the bedroom. Doyle pulled down a hold-all from the shelf in the closet and emptied it of sports equipment, filling it again with items from his bathroom shelves, while Bodie sorted out enough clothing for two days from the various drawers and packed it neatly.
And then Bodie stripped. Doyle, tucking a paperback book into the corner of the bag--you never knew, after all--was inspired, upon looking up, to do the same, almost tripping when he tried to move with the pants not quite off his ankles. Bodie was laughing at him by the time Doyle finally joined him in the bed, but he stopped when Doyle pounced and covered Bodie's mouth with his own.
"It's my turn," Doyle whispered in Bodie's ear, when they finally came up for air.
"Yeah. It is," Bodie agreed, his eyes wide with a mixture of boldness and anticipation. Yet under that, Doyle could see the thread of nervousness.
"Third time's the charm," Doyle said. They had been lovers for months, but they had started out with the simple joys which could be provided by hands, slowly moved to the pleasures which a hot mouth could give, and only this month had they dared the last, most exciting frontier. It was still new, still a blend of naughty sin and fervent exploration.
Bodie had found his way into Doyle's body three times, first to take his virginity, then, on another day, his exploration of a new position had found them joined again. He'd been too close to the edge to know more than just a few frantic strokes on that occasion. The third time had been last night, when they both had too much to drink and had been forced to go slowly, with fantastic results.
And Doyle had been twice in Bodie's body as well, popping his cherry with one smooth deep stroke on the first time they had joined, making slow love to him the second time and taking much more care, despite Bodie's moaning and begging for deeper, harder stokes. Bodie had found an unexpected affinity for sodomy. He had gone from scorn--real men don't allow that to be done to them--to instant conversion. Just thinking about it caused him to clench, below, as if he were closing around an invading cock.
Doyle had the cream they used, and he began to make Bodie ready, slathering the stuff on Bodie's balls because Bodie loved to have them rubbed and rolled by slick fingers. Then he moved behind, finding the bunched nub of muscle and working to make it open for him.
How strange it was, to be here in the morning, with the curtains drawn but the early light still diffusing through the fabric to lighten the room. To feel and see the wide strength of Bodie from this angle, and smell cream and musk and sweat, and sense the eagerness in the strong body before him. He tried not to hurry, but Bodie was presenting, holding his own cheeks wide awkwardly. Doyle braced himself, centring his cock on that pink ruched target, feeling it give way before his press.
Bodie had to let go, to throw his hands forward to catch himself, brace himself, and Doyle took hold of Bodie's hips for balance and pushed home into Bodie's tight heat. Bodie moaned as the length of cock slid in, gasped and grunted as Doyle wiggled, twisted, worked the hardness in as far as it could go. Doyle felt the play on every inch of his cock, and it sent a shiver through his whole body. The sweat popped out on his back and neck, turning the curls at his nape wet in an instant.
And all the while, Bodie was making amazing sounds. When he wasn't ordering Doyle to do it harder, deeper, he was fighting to say anything at all. Half a word, sometimes, was all he managed, or just a bit of a syllable, as if he had started to say something and been ambushed by another thought. Plain grunts and gasps, all indicative of pure pleasure and a plea for more, were followed by shivers and arching. It was like playing a violin, each change of angle or pressure creating a different sound, and it was heady, inspiring stuff. Doyle fucked energetically, having to hold on tight as Bodie responded with equal enthusiasm; when Bodie went rigid with orgasm he was at last still enough for Doyle to get in the few strokes he needed as well before Bodie clenched down and came, drawing it out of Doyle at almost the same moment.
They lay, Bodie face down on the bed, Doyle on top of him, still joined, breathing like marathon runners at the end of the race, wet with sweat where their bodies touched.
"You like it. Being fucked. You even like it more than fucking," Doyle whispered against the heavy neck. He licked at a trickle of sweat, idly. He felt powerful, still inside this strong big body. His lips nibbled at Bodie's skin. "It's true," he said, the words muffled against Bodie. "You want to be fucked all the time. I saw you look at the table in the restroom. I know what you were thinking. You were thinking about bending over it. About having every bloke in there line up and take turns poking it into you!"
Bodie turned his head so that he wasn't face down anymore. "Just you, Ray. It was only you I wanted in me." He contacted his muscles, feeling the cock still in him, and sighed, remembering bliss, but it had the effect of trying to expel Doyle's softened cock.
"Going to buy one of those vibrating dildos, so I can fuck it in and out of you while I suck you off," Doyle promised, and felt the shudder of reaction under him. Carefully, he lifted off and out of Bodie, the slight wet sounds of their parting putting a stupid smile on his face--which vanished as he caught sight of the clock.
Bodie looked up and saw it as well. "I need a shower."
"Me, too. We'll have to hurry, though, we still have to pick up your clothing. Unless you want to settle for using my kit and wearing the stuff you left over last week."
"Did you wash it, or leave it dirty?" Bodie wanted to know, slowly rolling over and sitting upright.
"What do you think! One white shirt, one pair of brown, one pair black trousers, one polo, black, one pair of socks--you can borrow a pair of mine--and I can't find any of your pants. Have to borrow mine."
"I'd strangle and die," Bodie predicted.
"'Ve got a pair of red satin boxers with white hearts on it, never been worn! I'll give you those!" Doyle said, and actually produced such an item from a bottom drawer.
"Where did you get 'em?" Bodie asked, as they were thrown at his face. He clawed them down and held them out before him with two hands, showing them off to best advantage.
"Came anonymously in a Valentine's Day card years ago. Seemed a size too big for me--wondered which lady had such exaggerated visions!"
"Never found out who it was sent 'em?" Bodie asked, folding them away in the bag and going for the other clothing Doyle had mentioned. He knew Ray was watching his every move. For some reason, Doyle liked to see him naked, liked to see him move around the room without a stitch on. Bodie thought about oiling his body up some night, working out a bit to pump up and show his muscles off to best advantage. He knew instinctively it would turn Doyle on, hard.
"No. Go shower, I'll finish up here."
Bodie did, soaping himself up well, invigorated to the point of almost singing aloud in the shower, which he often did when alone. Bloody stupid, really, sharing something as intimate as a bloke's cock up your arse and then being too shy to sing where he might hear!
Just as he was clean and stepping out, Doyle came to take his place under the water, and Bodie stood, drying off his body with sure, efficient wipes of the thick towels Doyle favoured, watching Doyle scrub at his feet. Funny, that, as his feet couldn't possibly have gotten dirty. But then, people had habits after awhile, and they tended to turn showers into rituals which they did not vary. He, himself, trained by two minute and three minute military showers, tended to wash everything quickly, first groin, then head, and afterwards going back and seeing to the other details.
Dressed and ready, he led the way down to the car, bag in hand, while Doyle followed with a box of provisions from his own kitchen. Doyle insisted on stopping at several shops as well, buying his favourite brands of tea and coffee, and chocolate for Bodie. Seldom did they have the opportunity for such preparation, and they were both enjoying the luxury of it.
Bodie was driving, as he often did, and making sure that Doyle didn't see signs of the discomfort he was beginning to feel in his nether regions. In the heat of the moment, on fire with lust and high with the excitement, he felt nothing but pleasure. It was later, when his blood was cool and his brain working again, that he felt the ache, felt the hollow place bored into him by Doyle's thick flesh.
Would it change? With enough fucking, would the muscles stretch and strengthen, as other parts of the body did with repeated use? Or would it just become loose, so you didn't notice as much? He knew of no place to find such things out, either. Good thing, though, he thought, that it's just Ray I want. With lots of partners, things could get out of hand, stretched, damaged, at a very fast rate. Ray was the only one he trusted with his arse.
Monogamy actually has sound principles behind it, he realized, as he nosed into traffic, if it reduced wear and tear on certain body parts. The thought was such a shock to him that he almost didn't see the bicycle which cut in front of him, causing him to touch the brakes with more force than usual. Doyle gave him a funny look, but Bodie hardly noticed.
Bodie, who had often had more than one girl at a time--one for every day of the week, a few years ago, he recalled--had never understood why anyone could even think of limiting sexual adventures to just one person. One had lots of friends as a matter of course, so why not lots of lovers? Now, however, it was different. But why should being the one taking a lover into his body make it different?
"Penny for 'em," Doyle said quietly.
"It's stupid," Bodie stated, but said anyway, "You believe in monogamy?"
"It's not for everybody." Doyle looked over at him. "I never thought it was your sort of thing, for example."
"I'm giving it serious thought."
"You'd better be," Doyle said in a threatening voice. He was not joking at all.
"Like that, is it?" Bodie asked.
"You disagree?" Doyle asked belligerently.
"Actually, no." He made his turn. "Nobody but you has ever been up my arse. Nobody but me has ever been up yours. It's...pure," he said. At his choice of word, Doyle let loose with a filthy giggle. Bodie ignored it, continuing to try to explain. "It's worth keeping that way."
"Which means promises and commitments," Doyle warned him.
"Formal ones?" Bodie wanted to know.
"Could be. Fancy wearing white?" Doyle asked with a grin.
"Black. Both of us. Leather." Even as he suggested it, Bodie was laughing.
Bodie shook his head. "Nightclub, probably more like it. Or mountaintop. Pagan rituals."
"What, jumping over fires?" Doyle suggested. "And risk burning your best assets?"
Bodie shook his head. "That's religion. I don't want religion."
"Well, what do you want? Besides a cake? I know you'll want the cake," Doyle told him.
"Cake? Good idea mate. Bubbly as well, and wonderful food."
"You don't want a wedding, you want a banquet!"
"That's what we're talking here? Wedding?" Bodie said, in the tones of one who has no idea of how he ended up on the subject.
"Monogamy," Doyle said helpfully. "Means having only one sex partner or love interest."
"I know what it means, Doyle!"
"Promises bother you?"
"We don't need 'em. You know how I feel!"
"And you know how I feel. Promises just translate it into something you can hear and see. Our whole civilization is built on contracts. It's what they invented writing for. It's in our genes...."
Bodie laughed, finding the pun. Frustrated, Doyle hit him on the arm, hard.
"Careful, mate, or you'll have us off the road," Bodie said.
"We turn up here. On the left," Doyle said, in a voice that was perfectly calm, almost careless, even. Bodie wasn't fooled, and he didn't let his partner change the subject.
"Do you really want a wedding?" He couldn't quite keep the horror at the idea out of his own voice, envisioning one or either of them in frothy white. It didn't suit his image, and he hadn't thought it fit Doyle's, either.
Doyle answered, "Not even a ring. Be stupid, that. But I want...something."
"A romantic at heart?"
"If you like."
"I suppose we can come up with...something. We've two days of being good little lads on this assignment. We can use the time to think up what would suit."
Doyle nodded. "Yeah. Okay."
"Enthusiasm. It's a wonderful thing," Bodie intoned.
"Just thinking of the assignment. Minding the sort of animal who'd do that to somebody else."
"And children and women and cripples, by Cowley's account. Preyed on all the helpless, didn't he?"
"Gays aren't exactly helpless, from what I've seen. Just out-numbered."
"You know what I mean. They didn't have anyone they could go to for help."
"He's going to trial."
"After a nice peaceful life. Decades of it. Not fair."
"Haven't had the trial yet. He might be innocent."
Doyle shrugged. He wanted to see the man for himself.
Bodie decided to change the subject. "About Cowley," he began, cautiously.
"What about him?" Doyle demanded.
"I could be wrong..." Bodie said, eyes straight ahead on the traffic.
"Frequently are, but do get on with it," Doyle urged. "We're almost there."
"He knows about us." Good thing he was driving. A choke and a jerk like that would have had them up the nearest pole.
"How do you figure that?" Doyle wanted to know after a deep swallow and a valiant attempt to get his breath back.
"He picked us. Said we were best suited for the job."
Doyle shook his head. "Because of our previous experiences with MI6--and because we're the best team he has," he added without much modesty.
"Because he knows we won't be swayed by homophobic rhetoric. He thinks we'll have some vested interest here."
"You're daft. We haven't been together for long, and we were circumspect. How could he know? Don't even spend the night, most of the time."
Bodie grimaced. "Something I'd like to change. Did you get that application for shared housing?"
"It's at home. Under 'Reason for Request' I put down that we wanted to save time and cut down the mileage."
"Good. Bet he knows you picked up the application." Bodie slowed to begin the search for a parking space. The opportunities did not look good.
"Go directly 'round the back. There's a place to park for those shifting prisoners," Doyle instructed.
"I always get asked to move on and have to flash the card at them. Very boring."
"My heart bleeds," Doyle said. "About your crazed idea about Cowley...."
"Oh, he knows, but he's decided to ignore it, even use it. Could rely on us utterly, isn't that what he said?" Bodie wanted to know.
"You're taking it out of context!" Doyle protested as the car came to a halt. Bodie pulled his ID out of his pocket, got out of the car, locked it, and pointed out the young constable who was already heading their way. Doyle grinned. "It's how you look, mate! Suspicious!"
"Too handsome to be one of your lot, that's all it is," Bodie said with the proper amount of pity for those not born with his natural beauty.
As soon as the man came near, they dropped their banter and became all business. The young officer escorted them in, drawn more by the mystique and glamour he perceived in them than by any real need they had for the company. It took over an hour of verifications and seeing this person and that before they were escorted to a cell where one plain grey man sat, waiting.
"Doesn't look like a killer," Bodie said in a low voice, to Doyle.
"Probably never killed a fly. Just...told the one with the swatter where the fly was. All the same to the fly." Doyle's whisper caused the man to look up. He had neutral eyes in an unexceptional face. He could not have heard what Doyle said, but he knew he was being discussed, and a sharpness came to him as he stood up.
"Will you want cuffs on him?" the jailor asked, eyes going from one CI5 man to the other.
"No. We'll want a bit of nylon cord, though, about four foot long," Bodie said.
The man grunted, and said, "Ask for that at the desk."
They did. They waited ten minutes while it was produced. Bodie used it to tie one hand of the prisoner, then to run the cord through the back belt loops and tie the other hand. People remembered if you took a bound man into a house in daylight. This, with the man's suit coat on, showed he was bound only in the awkward moments when he was being put in or taken out of a car.
"It's not hard to get out of this--but it does slow a man down," Bodie said as Doyle was bending over and signing the last of the seven sets of required forms and papers. He forced himself not to let his eye linger on the wonderful curves Doyle was displaying. It wasn't that difficult, really, if he kept his mind on what he was doing. He made himself watch the prisoner instead.
Robin Aubrey was not looking at anything in particular, but Bodie had the impression that the man was well aware of everything around him, from the gun under Bodie's arm to the number of men between him and the door. Knowing there was no chance to overcome such odds, he was presenting a mild and cooperative air, but Bodie knew in his bones that it was a facade. His internal alertness cranked up a notch after only a few minutes in the man's presence.
It was so easy not to see him. He was the clone of every elderly man in the corner of the pub, in the park, on the bus. Nothing to make him memorable at all, and he was well aware of it. He ought to have on a hat--he was the sort of man who would wear one, and he had grown up in an era when a hat was an essential part of outdoor wear.
"He's all yours," said the officer at the desk with a final scrawl on the bottom line. He folded all the papers together into a packet and handed it over. Doyle thanked him politely as he took them.
All playing the game, Bodie thought impatiently. He moved ahead, checking the way, looking for trouble, opening the car door. Prisoner in the back first, then Doyle. Bodie would drive alone in the front, like a chauffeur. Nice short drive, light traffic. Bodie hummed tunelessly while he drove, the picture of careless ease. His glances in the mirror were so casual, his air so relaxed that the only reason he got a second look from those they passed was because of his handsome face. He took the scenic route, checking for a tail at every corner.
They reached the safe house. It was a modest, modern place, too new to have any character. The architect had delusions, but they were small ones--narrow windows that went from ceiling to floor and, inside, one wide open area of hall, room, and kitchen, and the bedroom up a short series of white steps, and with stained glass on one whole side so that it was more a loft than a room--and it was easy to see inside.
"Where do you suppose the old man got hold of this?" Bodie murmured as he passed Doyle on the way through to check all the rooms. Doyle flashed a grin at him but did not have time for a reply.
"All clear," Bodie said on his way back. "Back door opens onto a wonderful parking space. I'm going to move the car." Doyle nodded, and directed the prisoner to sit in the comfortable chair beside a bookcase which held a pitiful few paperbacks.
"Are you going to untie me?" the man asked. It was the first time he had spoken. He was polite, and his voice was unexceptional.
"When he's back," Doyle said, not looking at him. He exuded an air of deigning to speak only because he wished to, and not as a favour to his prisoner. "Stay there," Doyle added. "You don't get up unless you ask first. You don't go to the bathroom alone. If you're a good boy, we'll let you eat with a fork--eventually."
"Ah. Well, at least it's more attractive than my last prison," the man said. Bodie came through, hands full, and went back for the other box. When he came back again, he came to sit with the prisoner while Doyle put things away. Picky bastard, Doyle. Wanted things just where he wanted them, and lined them up with military precision. He would also check the drawers for knifes and silverware, and count them--three times a day.
"Stand up," Bodie said, and his nimble fingers freed the man from the nylon cord, which was put away in Doyle's bag. "Stay away from the windows and the door. We have television. We choose the programme and how loud it is. You don't go to the bathroom alone. You don't get near the phone. If someone calls or comes to the door, you keep quiet. Is there anything you don't understand?"
"Sit down. Stay there."
"I think I should tell you that I intend to cooperate in every way," Aubrey said with extreme politeness. "I was wrong, before. To run away, you know but I must...I was afraid. I am not the criminal they seek, you must understand how strange it is for me to be in this position. I've decided that the best way to prove my innocence is to go along with them, to let them have the trial. The truth will come out then. I...." He faltered when Bodie made no move to stop his monologue, but merely stared at him with eyes which looked more black than blue.
Doyle came up behind them. "Don't annoy him," Doyle told Aubrey. "He's enough of a bastard in his normal state, but a bloody pain in the arse when he's annoyed." It was a warning, but there was pride there, too, and the promise that Bodie would be allowed free rein for his annoyance to be expressed.
"I see." There was a thread of distaste in the tone, something which assured the two CI5 agents that he found them both to be at the least, uncivilized. Curious reaction for a man who had sold hundreds of people into an early death.
Doyle smiled. It was a cold smile, the one usually seen by those he had just busted. "You should have stayed with MI6, much more your sort." Then, without changing expression, he snapped out, "You don't get up without permission. You don't go to the kitchen."
Doyle gave a short nod. "Tea in a few minutes," he said, more to Bodie than to their prisoner. The phone rang. Bodie went to answer it. From this half of the conversation, Doyle knew that it was Cowley. Bodie rang off, turned, and flicked his wrist, showing two fingers. Doyle nodded. Check in every two hours, Bodie was telling him. He went to get the tea.
Bodie had his usual mug, and Doyle his china cup. They found a plain white one in the cupboard for Aubrey, who took the offered tea with a murmured thank you and sipped it gingerly.
"Quite good!" he exclaimed, startled into saying it aloud. "I'm quite grateful," Aubrey added, taking another sip.
"Too kind," Doyle said wickedly, mocking. He had control of the teapot, making it clear that boiling hot tea was a weapon he would not give Aubrey access to, and he never poured in any particular pattern. They drank tea until the pot was empty, and then first Doyle and then Bodie used the clean white bathroom. Doyle then escorted the prisoner for the same privilege. He did not avert his eyes or pretend any modest disinterest, but stared as the man unfastened his trouser and stood in front of the toilet. Aubrey ignored him as best he could, giving all his attention to the task. He washed his hands at length afterwards, too carefully.
He's studying the place, Doyle realized. Doyle let him, wanting the man to know that it was impossible to escape. There was no window here. No weapons.
Bodie had spent the time while they were in the bathroom putting their bag in the bedroom and making a pot of tea, as well as opening a package of lemon biscuits. He had taken a look out of each of the windows and was now turning on the television.
"Already?" Doyle said with mock horror.
"Just looking," Bodie protested, but he did settle down to watch, with Aubrey beside him on the sofa, and Doyle in a matching chair. Bodie was slightly uncomfortable from the ache in his nether regions. If they had been alone, he would have mentioned it by now, and Doyle would tease him mildly and inquire as to how he felt at regular intervals, and jokingly offer to kiss it better. Bodie frowned at the screen, resenting that the other man kept them both silent and circumspect.
And in this place, there wasn't even a spot for a private peck on the cheek except for the bathroom, and if they were both in the bathroom, nobody was watching Aubrey. He sighed. Doyle brought him fresh tea, and Bodie thanked him with both his voice and his eyes. Doyle's eyes answered back, warm and sparkling with the buried affection.
Eventually, Doyle prepared a meal, working on a fairly elaborate menu because he had the time to do it right and because he was in the mood to indulge his partner's love of good food. They ate at the white table off red plastic plates, with flatware which had blue enamelled handles, and they drank from plastic glasses because it was safer. Aubrey said kind words about the meal, and Doyle graciously accepted the praise.
Civilized. A round of bathroom visits, and then Bodie was settled with the prisoner in front of the box again, while Doyle cleaned up. Usually, they did it together, Bodie washing, Doyle drying because he knew exactly where he wanted things to go, even when they were in Bodie's flat. Bodie missed it, missed the teasing, and the pinches and promises. Washing up was the beginning of foreplay for them. Bodie, who had always disliked the chore--it took much longer to clean everything up than it took to eat--actually found himself enjoying it lately, to the point where he felt vaguely robbed at being forced to sit here with this grey stick of a man and watch the sports.
The evening drew to a close. Doyle took a coin out of his pocket, tossed it in the air, and then trapped it against his arm. He cocked an eye at Bodie.
"Tails," Bodie said, thinking of tails, but not quite in the way the situation suggested.
Doyle lifted his hand and looked. "Tails it is," he agreed.
"I'll take first watch," Bodie said. They would divide the night into six two hour shifts. In other situations it would be four shifts, but in this case it was not necessary--and both of them hated nights with only four hours sleep.
Doyle nodded, and went and brought sheets, a blanket and a pillow out to the front room, where he unfolded the sofa and made the bed there--before going to the bedroom to sleep.
"All yours," Bodie said to Aubrey, pointing to the sofa bed.
"I say!" the man said, surprised.
"You stay where we can watch you. Hope you can sleep through the telly," Bodie said with false solicitousness.
The man's lips thinned but he did not reply to that. Instead, he asked, "Have you any pyjamas I can wear?"
"Sorry. You'll have to sleep in the nude. Or in your pants, or in your clothes." Bodie was unsympathetic, in spades.
"Ah." Without other comment, the man sat, slid off his shoes, and then his black stockings, followed by his tie, shirt and trousers. Finally, wearing a thin white t-shirt and white boxer shorts, he slid under the sheet. Bodie turned off a few lights, changed the channel and settled down in the chair. It was quiet.
It stayed quiet through the first shift. When Doyle came out, yawning and sleepy-eyed and beautiful, it was all Bodie could do to keep his hands and his mouth to himself. It was nice, though, to lay down into the hollow Ray Doyle had made in the bed, to smell the scent of his partner in the pillow. He set the small alarm clock and fell asleep before he had time to properly appreciate it.
It seemed he was awakened only a minute later, but the clock assured him two hours had passed. This time, they shared a brief brush of hand against hand as they passed each other. It meant more than it should have.
The old man was awake, and asked to use the bathroom, and Bodie went along, bored, but alert. Afterwards, Aubrey didn't go back to sleep, but asked for tea. Bodie made the man sit in a specific chair in the kitchen area, and he made the tea swiftly.
"I don't like homosexuals," the man said, after the first sip, "I've never hidden that. But I don't know why they think I'm this man they...."
"Close your mouth and keep it that way. Unless you've got something to say so vital you're willing to risk losing a few teeth over it."
"I...very well. You are correct, it is not my concern."
Oh, well done, Bodie thought, admiring the way the man's turn of phrase held just a hint of dire warning. Okay, mate, I'll play your game. For now. "What's not your concern?" he asked in a belligerent voice.
"I'm sorry, I really should not have...."
"Just spit it out," Bodie ordered.
"It's about your...co-worker."
"Doyle? What about him?" Bodie wanted to know. What was this old sod up to?
"He's...one of them."
"One of what?" Bodie asked obligingly.
"A homosexual. I can tell. I've always been able to tell. That's why they've connected me with that man in Germany. He could tell, too. Only he acted on it, they tell me, where I have only used the skill to remove myself from the vicinity of such a person."
"Doyle. Right." Bodie laughed, a genuine laugh, even while he mentally ran through his memories of the evening and tried to think of anything which could have given Doyle away.
"I assure you, it is quite true. They have small little ways which give them away. You saw how at home he is in the kitchen?"
"You'd be eating eggs three times a day if he weren't."
"The way he's put together, and his eyes. It all tells the story. You must be careful of him."
Trying the old divide and conquer trick, Bodie decided. With considerable skill, too. Under other circumstances, with other partners, it might just work. "Oh, I'm careful of anyone who can shoot the way he does. Or is that one of the signs, too?" Bodie asked, letting amusement show.
"Oh, I'm sure he has his...skills. But they...the homosexuals, you know, they have a compulsion to...sexual activity. If he does not have an outlet...he might feel the need to...."
"Doyle has a reputation with the ladies," Bodie said dryly. "I doubt either one of us has anything to worry about. He's always stealing my birds," he said with trumped up irritation. He remembered how he had felt, in the early days, when Doyle would half-inch a girl away from him, and how he had returned the favour just as often.
"Protective coloration, I assure you. Many of them hide their perversions behind a normal facade. Some, indeed, have an equal affinity for men and women, and use innocent women--ladies--for...odd purposes."
"Know about it firsthand, do you?" Bodie wanted to know.
"Yes. It is quite painful to me, but...my father...my father was one of them."
"Your father!" Bodie worked to put the right note of amazed horror into his voice.
"He left us when I was just a baby, for...a man."
"No!" Bodie thought he may have overdone it, and asked quickly, "How do you know? Maybe your mum just told you that. Abandoned women, they get vicious sometimes. I know," he said, memory supplying him with some visions of very angry women he had known through the years. Most of them, he had to admit, had some basis for their anger. He'd not been good at relationships. Before Doyle.
"Oh, I investigated it quite thoroughly. My father had gone to France with the man. I tracked him down, you see. I was over on the continent at the time they say I was, and yes, I was asking questions, discovering about the whereabouts of homosexuals. But I wasn't the one who betrayed all those poor people. Why should I? I was just looking for my father."
"Why?" Bodie asked flatly.
"Why look for your old man? He didn't want you." The cruelty was deliberate. Bodie wanted to see if he could goad the man into stupidity, into revealing what he was up to.
"I wanted to know why. I didn't understand, you see. My mother was beautiful, I was...a good boy. Why did he leave us? I didn't understand," he repeated, and there was an echo of that confused little boy in the old man's light voice.
"Did you find out?" Bodie asked.
"Eventually. It was difficult. I had to go to many towns, ask questions in several languages. It did improve my French, and my German; until that point it had been just school work. The only way to learn a language is to speak it. The problem was, my father had not gone away to be with a man--he had gone to be with a hundred men. I would hear of him, and find when I arrived only an abandoned lover--most of whom were unhappy enough with my father to be willing to give me clues as to where he might have gone next."
"I found him living with a man my own age, perhaps even younger, in a small ugly flat in Berlin. He welcomed me warmly enough, but wanted nothing to do with me or my mother. I asked him my questions. He was brutally honest. My mother had appealed to him because she had a bit of money coming, and he stayed as long as the money lasted. He had not wanted a child, and had tried to have her...dispose of me before birth. And then, he said that as I was there, I was welcome to stay--he had heard there was a particular thrill in...ah, incest. That wasn't the phrase he used, of course. My father was a crude man."
"He just wanted to shock you into going away," Bodie told him.
"If so, then he was successful. I left. However, I didn't have enough funds to return home to England, and was forced to work there for a few months to gain the money I needed."
"Why are you telling me all this?" Bodie asked, refilling their cups.
"To warn you, of course. I see that you do not believe me about your partner, but I could not rest unless you knew. I learned so much about such creatures in my search for my father. I found not one of them who had a single virtue at all."
"Except the ones who helped you find your father."
"Do you suppose they helped me out of kindness? No, each of them only thought to gain a revenge upon my father. They were motivated by a small-spirited need to hurt."
"Oh," Bodie said, trying to keep his lip from twitching and showing that he was amused. He was rather sure Aubrey was sowing seeds of suspicion, and the old man did not know exactly what sort of infertile ground he was dealing with. "What do you think I should do about it?" he asked.
"Only be very careful. That is all you can do--until he reveals himself."
Bodie had a mental image of Doyle 'revealing himself' and it was probably not the one Aubrey had. He tried not to think of it, but considered instead what he had been told. The story of Aubrey's father rang true, and it was obvious that Aubrey had based his views of gays on bitter personal experience. It would do no good to tell him that gays and bisexuals were any other way, for his mind had been made up half a century ago.
It was also clear to him that this man had motive for turning in homosexuals to the Nazi prisons. He had a hatred for his father, he had knowledge of the men who had been his father's lovers. His rage and disappointment had tipped him over into an insanity and he had struck back the only way he could. Bodie wondered if one of the men betrayed and sent to die had been Aubrey's father. Maybe Cowley would know. Or was Aubrey subtle? Had he let his father live, but let him know enough to lay a burden of guilt. These lovers of yours die because they loved you.... Although daddy seemed to have been an insensitive ass at the very least.
"It won't work. I've known him for years."
"As you wish," the man replied mildly. "I think I will go back to bed now."
Bodie followed him over, tea in hand, to take up his position in the chair, and when he thought the man was asleep, he dimmed the lights and did the rounds of the windows. He thought about the hurt of a young child, about how it could turn and twist inside and come out as something even worse than the sin of the parent, and he had a sort of sympathy for young Aubrey--which lasted just until he thought of how he would feel if marching brown-shirts came for him, for Doyle. The thought of forced labour, mad experiments and gas ovens turned his stomach. All that pain, terror and death, aimed at children, at ethnic groups, at....
Us. Bodie had no use for that sort of thing. He believed in a straightforward fight, in enemies he could see. Oh, he admired a man who had a wider view, men, like Cowley, who could double and triple think. But then, men like Willis had that same ability. Willis, with his flexible morality, his any method justifies the means. Bodie's hand curled into a fist as he stood looking out the window into the quiet street. Willis had more in common with Aubrey than either probably realized. Both deserved a bullet, and in one of life's little ironies, they were on opposite sides of the fence.
Bodie glanced at his watch, and then at Aubrey. Twenty more minutes until he and Doyle switched. He yawned, and checked the street again. There was one more car out there than there had been last time he checked, but it was dark.
The hand on his watch moved too slowly, but at last he heard Doyle in the bathroom, the muted sounds of water signalling when he was about to emerge. Bodie waited, curbing his impatience, until Doyle came out.
"How is it?"
"Quiet," Bodie told him. "One more car out front."
Bodie met his eyes, telling him that any night he didn't spend in bed with Doyle was not good. "Yeah. He's all yours. Treat him gently, he's given to flights of fancy."
Doyle laughed, checked the prisoner and went to make his tea. Before he could pour a cup, the man on the couch was up and announcing that he would like to use the bathroom.
Doyle sighed and went to escort him there. All that fuss, and for little result. But that happened when you got old, he thought. He wasn't surprised when the man joined him at the table, pushing forward his cup in mute request.
"Thank you. Your tea is excellent," Aubrey said, after his first sip. Doyle said nothing, and his expression did not invite further conversation.
After a moment, Aubrey said, "Your friend and I had an interesting conversation while you slept. Because of the nature of the charges against me, we discussed...homosexuality." He paused delicately.
Doyle affected supreme indifference.
"Did you know...he's one of Them?"
"Do you know how much it's going to hurt when I remove your balls?" Doyle asked in pleasant, conversational tones.
"It's you he wants. You were all he talked about. Perhaps he doesn't even know how much it shows. He...." Aubrey paused when Doyle flowed to his feet and advanced on him. He straightened. "I'm sorry. I'll say no more. I thought I was doing you a favour, but as I see you've no wish to hear it, I'll say no more. Excuse me. I shall return to bed," Aubrey said, and taking one more deep swallow of tea, he did so.
Doyle was left alone to think about what the old man had said. He doubted either he or Bodie had given any indication of how things were. It was more likely the old bastard was trying to drive a wedge between the two agents, suggesting the worst accusations he knew in order to manipulate their reactions. There's some it would work on, Doyle thought. It was funny he was trying it on with them, considering that, of all the security agents in CI5--they might be the only pair who were....
Or, not so funny at all. It was the kind of accusation which could kill a career, damage a relationship. Aubrey had no way of knowing it was true. Did he? Did it show now, that Doyle found his pleasure in bed with a man, that the man was Bodie? Bodie said George Cowley had sussed it out. Maybe there were signs, maybe he had changed somehow?
He shook his head. No, his instincts said he hadn't changed, not in any way others could detect, and he knew Bodie worked hard--and successfully--at maintaining their usual relationship in public. They had always joked with each other, always shoved each other and horsed around. Nothing changed, and no way for this vicious man to know that they were lovers.
Aubrey wanted them at each other's throats, more concerned with watching each other than watching him, or he wanted to bring them down with him in sheer meanness. A man who turned in hundreds of people to the authorities liked having power, liked ruining lives. If Aubrey could not hurt them, then he at least wanted to leave chaos in his wake. Doyle tried to think like Cowley. What advantage was this man trying to gain? What game was he playing? Did he have accomplices, people who would try to free him?
Doyle was under the impression that Aubrey was a loner, that he had always worked alone. That might not be right. But what could he be working towards? Freedom? Or just one last chance at irritating the authorities which were bringing him to justice?
Doyle, restless, went from window to window, and at each he stood a long time, looking out. Mentally, he worked out what he would do if attack came from this direction, or that. What he would do if a bomb blew open the door. Where to crouch for best protection if the door burst in at this very moment and an assault team roared in, guns blazing.
What to do if there was a quiet knock at the door.
He went back to his tea. The house was quiet. Bodie was, very faintly, snoring, and Doyle smiled, remembering their first argument after they had started spending nights together. Bodie hadn't believed he snored. None of his girlfriends had ever complained, he had said hotly.
"I'm not one of your girlfriends!" Doyle had retorted, and they had stared at each other, the air alive with tension, before Bodie had burst into laughter. They had ended the evening making love, sixty-nine, the cock between his lips telling each man that no, this was not a girlfriend. The full mouth and the nudge at the back of the throat reminded them with each thrust that this was not a woman with whom they made love.
Doyle moved, awkwardly aware that remembering making love to Bodie was causing an unfortunate reaction in his pants. Not the time or the place, he sternly informed his nether regions. Fortunately, his groin cooperated. Doyle listened to the night sounds. The man on the sofa bed turned, seeking a more comfortable spot.
Doyle wished he had thought to bring a radio.
He hated minding. Hated most stake-outs. Obbos. Watching, when there was nothing to watch. Too bad so much of the job was like this.
Sound of a car door outside. He went to the window, watched lights go on, a car pull away. Not the best safehouse Cowley had ever come up with. Who selected these damn things anyway? Some of them were eventually used as flats for agents. It would be nice to live here. With Bodie. Get a huge king-sized bed up there and the place would be perfect.
No chance. If they did get to share, it would be a nasty bedsit at the top of ten flights of stairs, or some small hole with no windows. Punishment for daring to want to share it with a man.
Pessimistic tonight, aren't you, Doyle?
It kept him from thinking about the day. About how he had fucked Bodie. Like screwing a wildcat. Memory put a smile on his face. Bodie really did love it. Macho stud Bodie, demanding and dominant, even in the matter of his own submission. 'Fuck me harder, dammit, harder, get it in there. Pound it in, I want to feel you in there!" Ghostly echoes of the words Bodie had said were enough to get Doyle going, and he restlessly moved again, checking doors, distracting his mind.
Eventually, he resorted to mild exercise, to running in place and knee bends to get his blood moving into his brain. Fortunately, just as he was fading again, it was time to change. Bodie, yawning but alert, saw that their guest appeared to be asleep and risked a pat on Doyle's butt which was, in any case, hidden by the low light. Doyle gave him a cheerful two fingered salute which told him to knock off the funny stuff, and embraced the bed with enthusiasm.
It seemed he hardly had his eyes closed when he felt Bodie's hand on his shoulder, shaking him awake. "Whuu?" he asked, rather stupidly.
"We're being watched." Bodie whispered, "I called it in. A car is coming for us. Ten minutes." Bodie was gone before the last word crossed his lips. Doyle sat up, said a bad word when he saw the time, and forced himself into the bathroom. An empty bladder and cold water on the face could work wonders on a man's outlook on life. He grabbed his bag and took the steps two at a time.
Downstairs, Bodie had packed up all their things into the boxes, and stacked everything by the back door. Their 'guest' was rousing, staring at them with blinking confusion.
"Get your clothes on," Bodie ordered Aubrey, adding, "Quietly, and without putting on the lights." When the other was dressed, Bodie stayed with him, while Doyle watched out the window at the car which held two men. He hadn't been able to see anyone watching the back, but that didn't mean no one was there.
"Show time," Bodie said from his post at the kitchen window. Like a black cat in shadows, he moved to the door and eased it open. He nodded to Doyle. Two men came in as three went out, a process which took less than a minute. Bodie driving, with Doyle and Aubrey crouched down in the back, the car eased down the alley and turned away from the building. Bodie saw no one following, but he took no chances. He stopped once, in the blackness between two buildings, waiting, watching.
"You can get up now," Bodie told his passengers half an hour later.
"Agh," Doyle moaned, straightening slowly, a hand on the back of his neck.
"Is this necessary?" Aubrey asked querulously. Neither answered him, but Doyle put a warning hand over his mouth, and the man became quiet. In front, Bodie opened the glove box and pulled out a piece of paper, which he read, folded, and handed to Doyle, who read it, re-folded it and handed it back.
An hour later, they met Jax, in a car park, trading their car for a dark van in twenty seconds flat and without a word being exchanged. They drove one, saying nothing. Morning came, traffic increased, and they lost themselves in the streams of cars.
As soon as the shops opened they picked up coffee and pastry, eating it as they drove, and by mid-morning they were trading their clothes and shoes for secondhand, purchased in a dingy small shop Doyle knew from his days on the beat. Their own clothing and Aubrey's they posted back to CI5. When they came out, the van was gone, and they spent the next two hours exploring the joys of public transportation. Lunch was fast food, literally eaten on the run as they walked towards the tube.
Sometimes Bodie stopped and consulted the paper. Twice he checked his watch and stopped to make a phone call.
Any time Aubrey opened his mouth to ask or protest, Doyle or Bodie would demand silence. After noon, it became clear that the older man was going beyond tired and into the realms of exhaustion. He had been kept too busy to be troublesome, but now was becoming a definite drag on their speed.
In a car park near several very busy intersections there was another van, different in colour from the one they had before, but operating from the same key. They were heading north into a light rain, Bodie driving and the other two stretched out on the carpeted floor of the back. Two hours later, at a transport cafe, Bodie and Doyle traded spots, changed course, and continued on.
In late afternoon they stopped at a small rural hospital, where Aubrey was x-rayed and given a complete physical by a gruff and rotund country doctor who had apparently had a very trying day. Aubrey protested, but no one responded to his demands for explanations.
The three ate heartily at a local pub and then they took to the road again, this time with Doyle at the wheel and Bodie in the back with Aubrey. It had been hard to keep conversation to the minimum, but mindful of the instructions in the note, both Bodie and Doyle had managed to do it. It was only when forced to silence that Doyle realized how much they did talk during an average day together. Jokes, comments, observations, complaints and instructions usually flowed between them in a steady stream. Now there was a silence, not uncomfortable, but definitely unnatural.
Aubrey hardly seemed to realize that another bloke was sleeping right beside him, or that his feet and hands were loosely tied. Bodie, all too aware of the prisoner, slept that light sleep which is not as restful, and every time a stop or a train whistle or an increase in the rain woke him, he thought for just a fraction of a second that the warm body next to him was Doyle. The repeated disappointments were making him irritable, although that might have been from lack of sleep as well.
He wanted his own bed, and Ray Doyle next to him, and...he clenched his buttocks, judging his own soreness. Just a slight twinge to remind him, and so he decided. Yeah. He wanted loving, too. Wanted that bit of Doyle which looked so average in repose, so impressive in erection and felt so huge when stuffed up his arse.
And what did he have next to him? Some bloody dried up old murderer. He was almost glad when the van stopped and Doyle called out, "I've picked up the r/t." Then, into the machine, he said, "4.5 to Alpha. Reporting for further instructions as ordered."
"4.5, this is Base," came a well-modulated woman's voice. "Proceed to Safe House Seven."
"Right. 4.5 out."
Bodie climbed forward into the seat beside Doyle, happy to be released from their bout of silence. "And may it have beds, razors, deodorant, aftershave, soap, showers and food. Not necessarily in that order."
"All the mod cons. Ha. You recall number seven? The reason CI5 has it is they couldn't find any other fool willing to rent it. The plumbing is chancy, the fish processing plant is next door and the insect life remarkably varied."
"How could I have forgotten," Bodie murmured, with a glance behind to make sure their guest was still asleep. He couldn't go out the back--Bodie had the door jammed--and he was unlikely to creep up behind and try to attack them, but still....
"It did have a bed," Doyle said. "With springs off the ark."
"We'll let our guest have it," Bodie suggested. "Let his punishment begin a bit early."
"You think he did it. Turned people over to the Nazis."
"Yeah. My gut instinct says he did. Getting back at his father."
"Next one. Are we being followed?"
"Nah. The bloke back there just doesn't know how to get out of this bloody maze, either. Looks different at night."
"Don't think I've ever seen this bit even by day. D'you want to drive?" Doyle asked.
"You're doing fine," Bodie said. "I like these vans. Could get one when I retire. See the country."
"Planning that far ahead?" Doyle asked, making his turn.
"No further than next Tuesday. Or whenever we finally get a few days off."
Doyle smiled, not asking what Bodie was planning. He thought he knew.
Safe House Seven--under the new numbering system Cowley had ordered several months ago it was seven, it had been previously numbered 13--was not so much a house as a warehouse with a corner inside converted to living quarters. It was easy enough to drive up to the gates, which were conveniently open, and then up to the garage doors, big enough to admit a lorry. These opened from within and they drove inside.
Dark, cavernous, the place echoed with their footsteps--and those of others. Bodie went first, followed by Doyle, who was holding on tight to their prisoner with one hand, his gun in the other. Bodie opened the door of the crudely walled off quarters and checked inside, then tapped lightly on Doyle's arm to say it was safe to come in. Once in, they turned on the light. On one corner stood a cot, and in another a battered table on which rested the nation's second oldest hot plate, the oldest kettle and a package of digestives. A stained sink dripped water from a sagging faucet. The disposable cups, packets of sugar and the tea bags were all covered with dust. A CI5 agent, Anson, crouched by the door, gun levelled.
"Here for the package?" Doyle asked with hope in his whispered words. He was tired of escorting Aubrey all over the country.
"We go into the cellar," Anson said, taking hold of Aubrey and dragging him to the centre of the room, where he pulled aside a broken chair and lifted up a trap door. "Wake us when it's all over. Oh, and Father wants you on the top floor."
"All go," Doyle said, moving the chair back into place and joining Bodie at the door. Bodie flipped out the light, but did not immediately open the door. In the dark, he looped an arm around Doyle's shoulders and neck and pulled him close for a short but enthusiastic kiss. Doyle answered it with equal passion, then pushed him away and opened the door. Like twin shadows, each a reflection of the other, they made their way to the stairs and up three flights, passing two other agents who obviously expected them, but none the less held guns on them until identification was made.
The top floor was more like a scaffolding, a crude and unfinished structure. Cowley was there. He gestured for them to come over, and handed them each a gun which fired not bullets, but darts, and a canvas packed with ammunition, each needle-tipped projectile in its own compartment. He also handed them each an r/t which was yellow, rather than the usual dark and unobtrusive tones.
"This time the two of you won't bring me a corpse when I ask for a living captive--who can talk. Keep your other guns in the holsters; you'll be shooting at fellow agents. The r/t's are on a new microwave band. Use them for all communications. Any questions?"
"You mean, like 'What's going on,' or 'Who are we shooting at and why?' and that sort of thing?" Bodie asked, too seriously.
Cowley impatiently waved them away. ""We've no time. They'll be here at any moment. I have enough men up here, now. Go down to the vehicle you arrived in and station yourself there. Don't fire until my signal. Do you understand?" he demanded sharply.
"Yes," Doyle answered for both of them, and pulled Bodie out of the room. Their boss was already turning his attention back to the r/t in his hand.
"Up, down, back, forth. I feel like I ought to have strings attached to my joints," Bodie complained.
"Don't give him the idea," was all Doyle had time to say before they both went quiet for the trip down the stairs and outside. In the van they crouched, working the darts out of their fabric pocket and loading them into pockets. Both of them had worked with these anti-riot weapons before, both hated them. They were single shot, easy to load but prone to jams.
They did not have long to wait. Shadows moved. Doyle pursed his lips and sighted, following one, then another with his gun, waiting for the signal. More shadows. The nearest were only a few feet away when the signal finally came.
The reports from the dart guns were muted, and answered by gunshots and echoes. The range and the sounds told Bodie and Doyle that they faced a widely spread group of some size, but also one which was considerably outnumbered. There was a strange exhilaration to the battle as well. There was no constraint, no worry about who was targeted, for striking a friend would lightly wound but not kill. At the same time, the risk was as great, for those were real bullets coming their way. Several of them forever destroyed the paint job on the van, but none came close to the men using it as a shield.
Ten minutes later, the whine of the shots slowed, and then came to a stop. "Playing dead?" Doyle breathed, rolling over next to Bodie while he reloaded.
"Have to be," Bodie said as quietly. "Bet Cowley has a squad in bullet-proof vests to look into the matter. Glad it's not me this time," he added, remembering the bruises, round as saucers, which he had once worn for a month.
"Yeah." Doyle fell silent, and they listened. Scuffling under a nearby car. He waited, then squeezed off a shot. A grunt and the sound of a body giving into gravity's embrace followed. Doyle grinned, his broken tooth gleaming momentarily in the dark.
Cowley's amplified voice echoed eerily, loudly, through the night. "This is Cowley, Controller, CI5. Lay down your weapons. Approach the door of the warehouse with your hands on top of your head. I repeat. You are ordered to lay down your weapons and approach the warehouse with your hands on your head."
"They're going to get him angry," Bodie predicted. "They're not going to like the results."
Doyle snorted a bit of laughter, his eyes still unceasingly sweeping the wells of darkness. There was a rattle to the left, and a man separated himself from the shadow of a vehicle and stumbled forward. At the corner, another broke, running away, but he was felled by a shot from the roof of an adjoining building.
"Half of CI5 must be out here," Doyle estimated.
"Yeah, but who else?" Bodie wanted to know. Another man staggered out, but collapsed before he reached the door. The warehouse door opened, and a team, bulky with Kevlar trotted out to collect that one and then spread out to search the lot. Doyle could feel the tension ease just a little in Bodie. Almost over.... Their strange r/t beeped. "3.7, 4.5, 3.3, 7.2, 5.4, please join Alpha inside. Everyone else maintain position." The mechanical voice ended in a squawk of static.
"The master calls," Bodie said, swinging upright cautiously.
"Woof woof. Do you suppose we'll get some answers?" Doyle asked, easing down to the ground.
"Nah. We'll be sent to fetch his slippers," Bodie predicted. "Heel!"
"In a minute," Doyle said, without apparent rancour, "I am going to bite you."
Bodie dared give a light pinch on Doyle's buttocks before he sprang away towards the door.
"Bloody bastard," Doyle said, but the words did not have the venom they would have had a year ago. They both curbed their tongues once inside.
A very satisfied Mr Cowley was reading the ID of the man before him.
"Willis's mob?" Bodie said, keeping most of his surprise hidden from the others. "All of them?"
"Aye, eight so far. And we've only one injury," Cowley said with satisfaction. "We'll need to transport the prisoners to headquarters. Take two in the vehicle you have. I'll want to see the both of you two hours from now."
"What about Aubrey?" asked Anson, coming up with a haggard and limping Aubrey in tow.
"He's served his purpose. Still, it would waste time to send him back to the Met for only a few hours. Take him along. No doubt we'll have a cell free for him." Cowley was already turning to leave.
"Wait. I need to speak to Mr Cowley. Privately!" Aubrey demanded. When Cowley did not seem disposed to give him immediate attention, he added, "If you will not speak to me, I will be forced to reveal what I know about these men, publicly!"
"Are you about to accuse my agents of impropriety? I will have to tell you that the entire time you were in their care, you were monitored. I have audio tapes of every moment. The only person whose actions are questionable are yours."
Aubrey looked stunned.
"We've no time for your nonsense, Mr Aubrey," Cowley said. "It seems you make a habit of accusations of homosexuality against those you wish to damage. I have statements from two policemen and a former neighbour of yours regarding other accusations you have made, and I've no doubt, given the nature of the charges made against you, that it has been a life-long propensity. It may have been effective in Germany fifty years ago, but this is England. I shall give a full account of this matter over to the trial board." He dismissed the other man by turning his back. Anson, wisely, hauled Aubrey out of sight.
Bodie and Doyle exchanged looks, wanting to speak but prevented because there were a dozen people in sight. Bodie decided that the better part of valour was diligence. "Let's collect our passengers and go," he advised Doyle, who nodded in agreement and hastily led the way out.
"God, I'm tired," Bodie said as he held open the door for his fellow agents to boost in the two bound men who were waiting for them.
"Could sleep for a week," Doyle agreed. He couldn't say anything else, afraid that what Cowley had said was true, that the van was bugged. He glanced around, thinking of where he would plant a bug if the job had been given to him. Steering column?
Bodie saw where Doyle's eyes went and he gave a grim smile. He'd spent the last five minutes desperately trying to think of what he may have said during the op which could have been revealing. As far as he could remember, if there was a recording, and it started after they picked up their prisoner, then they were safe...but he recalled a rather extensive, explicit and damning bit of conversation on the drive to the jail. If that was recorded, their collective goose was cooked.
The silence on the drive back to HQ was thick and absolute. They hustled their prisoners to the cells and went back upstairs to begin the necessary paperwork. Both were exhausted and wanted nothing more than to crawl into bed. To sleep. It was a relief when they were summoned into Cowley's presence.
The old man had that look he got sometimes during an operation. His eyes were bright, his movements quick, and there was no sign that he was short on sleep. He looked damned happy, in fact.
Bodie and Doyle must have looked as dead as they felt for Cowley waved them over to chairs and said, "I'll not offer you a drink. You don't look as if you'll arrive home if you drive home with it in your bloodstream."
"Try me," Bodie urged, willing to take the risk--and willing to have Doyle drive!
"No, it'll keep. We've something to celebrate, you, Bodie, and Doyle and I." He poured himself a few inches of golden liquid and took a respectful sip.
"A rise?" Bodie asked hopefully.
"Better than that," Cowley advised him, and the rich satisfaction in Cowley's voice caused both of his operatives to sit up a bit straighter.
"What are we celebrating, then, sir?" Doyle asked.
"The beginning of the end, lads--of your friend and mine, Henry John Willis."
Bodie's eyes lit up, and Doyle's as well. "Better than a rise," Bodie agreed in a low voice, almost like a purr.
"This celebration..." Doyle began, letting his voice trail away to lure their boss into a more extensive explanation.
"We are celebrating something almost as rare as this scotch," Cowley said. Then, more loudly, he exclaimed, "You followed orders! For once, the pair of you followed orders!" Cowley grinned, catching their eyes, sharing the joke. "It counted this time, lads. It made a difference. We'd not have had an opportunity like this one again. Willis, mad enough about losing a simple minding job to CI5--he let his anger rule him, his need to be on top, to win. We've a use for men like that in the services. He's a fine watchdog, and he's served well. But he's turning on his neighbours, lads, he doesn't know friend from foe anymore."
Bodie waited patiently, knowing the story had to be told in Cowley's own way and in his own time, and willing to let his boss indulge himself in the triumph of the moment.
Doyle was more impatient. "What did the dog do?"
"I knew...suspected...he had ears here. More than one pair, in fact. I had no proof. I needed to know the extent he was spying on us. Never mind that if he had played the game honestly, I'd have given him what he asked for. Well," he amended after a reviving sip of his drink, "ninety percent of it, anyway. Cooperation solves the mysteries each service faces. But he's in a deeper game, playing by his own rules, and if they keep this country safe, I've told myself I can tolerate them."
"His rules almost got me killed!" Bodie protested hotly.
"Aye, and that was his first mistake. His second was to move on me. I'll not have it," Cowley said, as if Willis was a dog making too free with his lawn. "I'm a patient man. And he's not. Oh, he thinks he's clever enough, and perhaps he is, but I've got him now."
"How?" Bodie asked point blank, his impatience nearly strangling him.
"He wanted to embarrass us by taking Aubrey away. His own organization's mistake--if we were to fail as well, it would show that it was not that his man was a fool, but that the enemy was exceptionally clever. That's pride, lads, and it goes before a fall."
Doyle nodded encouragingly.
"So I sweetened the pot, baited the trap. I put you two in charge of the prisoner. He'd like to take you down, Bodie. He'd like it even better if you were dead."
"Feeling's mutual," Bodie said, and looked with longing at the glass in Cowley's hand. He was feeling more and more in need of a drink.
Doyle was getting more and more impatient for the end of the story. "And so?"
"And so you followed my instructions--to the letter," he added again, and Bodie was starting to resent it. They followed orders reliably. Every time! Almost.
"We had cameras on them, monitors. We checked phone lines, bugs, computers, r/t frequencies. Each time you changed clothing or vehicles, or called in, we had another opportunity to trace a lead. We discovered a clerk in records with divided loyalties, and a wee problem with the r/t's, and an electronic method of collecting the vibrations which is quite crude, but it's the simple methods that work, sometimes. And Aubrey's shoes were augmented as well. Enough to lodge an official protest. A waste of government money, spying on us. There's too many on the other side to waste resources spying on each other, and I'll tell the minister that! Oh, I'll tell him that, and more. I'll play the injured party, and if he doesn't grant me some concessions I've in mind, then I'll point out that if Willis must do such things, he could at least learn some subtlety!"
"You're going to make him look like a fool," Bodie said. "It's not enough. I want him to suffer." It was more true to say Bodie wanted him dead, but Bodie was practical enough to know it wasn't worth a life sentence to bring that about.
"Oh, he will, Bodie, he will. This is the first step, as I've said. There are several plots in motion, pushing him towards one more mistake, one more public debacle. I'm not moving against him, mind. It's important that he hang in his own noose. But I'm allowing his vices, his weaknesses, full rein. Within two years he'll be gone. Or I will."
"No chance of that, sir," Doyle said.
"Thank you for that vote of confidence." Cowley knocked back the last of his drink and looked at them again. "Why am I talking to you? Go home and sleep. I don't want to see you for twenty four hours." He poured himself another drink, smaller than the first.
"Yes, sir, thank you," Doyle said, more than willing to go home to bed.
Bodie wasn't quite finished. "Mr Cowley?"
Cowley looked up, impatiently.
"You told Aubrey you had tapes of the whole operation. Starting when?" Bodie had stood up and Doyle joined him, his face falling into sober lines.
"Oh, I've tapes. Nothing you need worry about," Cowley said flatly. "You did that right, too. Very discreet, weren't you? Of course, I'd have edited them if I had to, but you were kind enough to spare me the trouble."
"Always glad to be of service," Doyle mumbled. "Come on, Bodie."
Bodie shook off the hand on his arm. "Where was the bug? Where did you put it?" he demanded.
Cowley looked at him impatiently, then let a quick grin blossom. "I didn't plant one. Used the one Willis had put in Aubrey's shoe. A bug doesn't care who uses it; the proper equipment is all that's needed." Then Cowley straightened, frowning. "Take it as a warning, lads. I didn't have the car, or your flat bugged, but that doesn't mean it wasn't done. Willis and his lot don't care who is on what side, don't know the meaning of allies, friends. Discretion--if the two of you know the meaning of the word at all--can serve you well. And better, it will serve me." He waved them towards the door, as if impatient to get them gone.
"Yes, sir. We'll keep it in mind," Doyle assured him, hustling Bodie out of the room. They went down the stairs at a more sedate pace than usual, both silent. Once out into the brisk dawn air, Doyle spoke again. "You were right. He does know."
"And he wants us to keep a low profile. If we do, he'll say nothing more about it."
"He's struck a bargain," Doyle said. "But I'll not watch my tongue completely in my own place. I want to be able to say...things...to you."
"We could keep on top of that, become experts in it. Electronics, and all the new technology. Can't be in the field forever, and we can have something to fall back on that way. Can get our own equipment, do our own checks of the flats." He considered, and amended it. "Flat." Bodie stopped suddenly. "Have we got a ride home?"
"No," Doyle realized. They had sent even their keys to HQ with their clothing the day before. "Taxi?"
The alternative would take them a half hour, for they would have to go back, down to the garage, and sign out. But then they'd have to mind their tongues and sit on their hands, and there was the matter of getting to work tomorrow as well. "No," Bodie decided. "We need wheels." So they turned and trudged back, silent until they were finally on the street and heading towards Bodie's flat.
"Funny," Doyle yawned as Bodie pulled into the early morning traffic, "I thought this was about a man being sent to trial for war crimes, but Aubrey was just a cog in Cowley's machine. Means to the end. Sent hundreds to their deaths, but today--last night--the man was--nothing. Just a footnote in an old chapter."
"Oh, too elegant," Bodie yawned, catching it from his partner. He increased his speed, wanting nothing except to get home and into bed. It would be to sleep, too, he thought with mild irritation. He was in no shape for anything else. No doubt they'd sleep the day away in each other's arms. Pleasant thought. "I'm glad the bastard's going to get his," Bodie said. He meant Willis, but it applied to Aubrey, too.
"Nice to have had a hand in it," Doyle agreed, and Bodie could see by the look in his eye that Doyle was aware of the two meanings to his own answer. Bodie let his gaze linger fondly on his lover. Handy, that they could say so much with so few words. If they took Cowley's advice to heart, they would seldom be talking about things important to them, personal things. But that was okay. He knew Doyle understood without words, and the words he really needed to say, he could whisper directly into Doyle's ear. The important things didn't have to be said loudly. As long as they were said.
-- THE END --
Originally published in To Friends, Chained to the Typewriter Press, 1993