Touched by Isis
"Oi, Doyle. Our pigeon is flying the coop." Bodie hailed his sleeping partner without taking his eyes off the road below.
"What?" Ray Doyle sat up quickly, checking for his gun before rubbing the sleep from his eyes.
"Gettin' in Roller as the chauffeur, driving away." Bodie described the events taking place down on the street.
"Bloody hell. This was a requested babysitting job. Why ditch us?" Doyle asked, fully awake and puzzled.
"He's gone and broken my heart, he has. And here I was thinking we were getting along so well," Bodie wised as he followed Doyle to the door.
They opened the door to the hallway and found George Cowley standing there.
"Ah, we're sprung," Bodie smiled as he rubbed his hands in anticipation of an afternoon off.
"Not exactly," Alpha One replied as he pushed his men back into the room with just a look. He closed the door before wandering about the room, looking out the window.
"What does that mean?" Doyle asked as he watched his boss.
"Hasim received another death threat."
"Which is why we're here," Doyle noted aloud. "So why ditch us?"
"This one they're obviously taking very seriously." Bodie spoke on top of Doyle, remembering Hasim disguised as a chauffeur.
Cowley ignored both. "They've asked us to escort what put his life in danger."
"What, not who?" Bodie queried his boss' use of words.
"Precisely, Bodie," Cowley nodded, "And it seems that Doyle, here, is the man they want."
"Why Doyle?" Bodie asked, puzzled at the specific request.
"Hasim believes that Doyle has been touched by Isis." Cowley repeated the phrase exactly as he had been told.
"Ruddy hell? Begging pardon?" both men asked simultaneously.
"Evidently, the collection is made up of five pieces. Three reside in the Egyptian Museum of Antiquities in Cairo. One is still lost and one piece has been located here in England. That piece is what put Hasim's life in danger and what they have requested our help with." Cowley paused at Doyle's interruption.
"Just how big is it?"
"Thirty-eight centimetres." Cowley's look quelled other questions. He continued, "They contend that the entire collection is cursed in its current condition. Their government wants it all back in its entirety. They believe the unity of the five pieces will lift the curse and provide a signal to their people of a more prosperous future." Cowley finished his briefing with no real expression on his face.
"You don't believe this curse nonsense, do you?" Doyle asked his boss.
"The threats on Hasim's life were real and that may have been due to the statue but not because of a curse. There's probably some faction that doesn't want the collection once again in its entirety," Doyle hypothesised.
"There are several factions that do not want a public gathering of the complete collection. Different reasons for each." Cowley confirmed Doyle's guess.
"Any of our well trained ranks could carry this off." Doyle reminded his boss.
"Be that as it may, they do believe that only you can carry it off. The PM has agreed and you've been drafted." Cowley's tone booked no argument.
"He can't do it alone, sir," Bodie protested.
"He's not. You're going too, Bodie. Good of you to volunteer."
Bodie shrugged; he wasn't about to let his partner go it alone.
"You are to go to the embassy, accept the assignment and receive the statuette officially. You will receive more pertinent information, but you will not share your intended route. Only CI5 will be privy to that information."
"Not even the Egyptian government?" Bodie queried.
"Especially the Egyptian government," Alpha One ordered.
Bodie looked at Doyle as Doyle looked at him. They shrugged with their eyes and answered together.
The CI5 men were admitted to the Egyptian Embassy with great decorum. The Ambassador greeted them personally and led them to his office.
"Thank you for agreeing to undertake this endeavour." Ambassador Sayyid indicated with his hand that they take the plush seats by the window.
Bodie shifted his seat so that his back was away from the window and the door.
"I now believe that we can achieve the unification of the Abydos Collection with your involvement, Mr Doyle."
"About that, " Doyle began his objections.
"Let me fully explain," Sayyid handed over pictures of the collection. "We have three pieces; The statuettes of Osiris, Isis and Horus. The missing pieces are the Ankh Cross and the Djed Pillar. The Djed Pillar has recently come into our possession and was what Hasim had attempted to bring home." Sayyid took his eyes off the pictures and faced the two men. "Our country has much political unrest. Many would like nothing more than to have the missing pieces remain lost. They will stop at nothing to achieve that. I fear that your lives will be in danger."
"They were when we were protecting Hasim," Doyle reminded the Ambassador.
"That is much different. Here, you were protecting our man on your home soil, that is your duty, as you see it. Travelling to my country will put you both into ever further danger. For that, I am deeply appreciative of what you have agreed to do."
Three heads turned at the knocking that seemed to come from the wall.
Sayyid called out, "Enter."
The wall opened and then it became obvious that a section of wall was a door to a small, secret antechamber. A man stood there and Ambassador Sayyid welcomed him in.
"Gentleman, this is Fadil Amir, Director of the Egyptian Museum and curator of all the Old Kingdom antiquities." Sayyid greeted the man as a friend.
The man may have been dismissed as nondescript save for the passionate eyes. They spoke with fire and gave the man presence.
"How d'you do." Bodie nodded his head at the man.
Doyle put out his hand, "I'm Doyle, he's Bodie."
"Yes, Mr Doyle, I've been most anxious to meet you." Amir accepted the hand with enthusiasm.
"You asked, Mr Doyle, why you are the only man for the job. Mr Amir, here, will be able to explain it and answer many of your questions." The Ambassador turned to the curator, "I'll leave you to it, my friend." He left by the same obscure door that Fadil Amir had entered.
The curator radiated with excitement and he began the story immediately. "The last time the collection was seen together was three thousand years ago. Ramesses the second, 20th dynasty, requested a special altar be constructed to display the quintet. The altar built, the collection began its journey back to Thebes." The museum director moved closer. "The Abydos collection was named for where it was lost. It is written that on its return the entire party was swallowed by a giant sandstorm. When the dust had cleared, all of the collection guards were dead and the cross and pillar were missing."
"Why didn't the thieves steal the three statuettes?" Bodie asked, drawn in by the storyteller quality of Amir's voice.
"The hand skin of each of the three that carried Horus, Isis and Osiris had melted, fusing around the small statuettes, embedded into the bone. That was how they were found by Pharaoh's search parties."
"So where was the Djed Pillar found after all this time?" Bodie questioned.
"And how'd you even know it was the right piece. Three thousand years?" Doyle added his question.
"We have detailed drawings and descriptions. The recovered pillar has been authenticated."
"Have you seen it?" Doyle asked and watched Amir's face.
"Oh, yes. I was one of the authenticators. It's always magnificent to hold such history in one's hands."
Doyle gauged that the curator was telling the truth. He was lit up like a kid at Christmas. He, at least, believed the pillar was real. Doyle looked over to Bodie and received his nod on his own positive take on the veracity of Amir.
"So where was it found?" Bodie asked again.
Amir sighed, "As with a great deal of lost art, it was in the private collection of a billionaire."
"Limits our field of choice," Bodie quipped.
"The museum bought it. We have no wish to bother the previous owner." Amir was quick to assure them.
"It's stolen property." Doyle reminded him, thinking like the cop he used to be.
"It was stolen three thousand years ago. It was never known who commissioned the original theft. The pieces were thought lost until we saw a manifest a decade ago. It has taken that long to procure enough money to purchase it outright. The Djed Pillar is the symbol of duration and stability. A symbol needed by my people. Now that we have found the pillar, there is hope that the cross can be found as well."
"None of this explains why me." Doyle persisted, wanting clarification as to why he was selected.
"Because, Mr Doyle, you have truly been touched by Isis."
Bodie stifled his laugh as he realised how very serious Fadil Amir was. "What exactly does that mean?"
"Isis was the wife and sister of Osiris. Osiris was one of the great gods. He eventually came to represent all human resurrection. He was killed by his brother Seth, after which Isis brought him back to life so he could rule the netherworld. She has the power to bring the dead back to life. So, to be touched by Isis is to be brought back from the dead. You, Mr Doyle, died during an operation, but yet you live. My people believe it was Isis' doing."
Bodie sucked in a quiet breath at the reminder of what was almost lost to him.
Doyle sat pensively. He couldn't deny it. The doctor has said that he had died and that he had decided to live, for it hadn't been medical science that had resuscitated him on the operating table.
Aloud, he said, "There are many that could fit the bill."
"None quite like you, Mr Doyle."
"You are in the right place at the right time with the right qualifications."
Amir moved so that he could sit across from his chosen advocate. "Only a man touched by Isis can be her messenger. You are that man, chosen by her. By completing this task you will be fulfilling a prophecy. It is also written that if the messenger undertakes this task willingly he will find the greatest love of his life. Embrace it and you'll reap the greatest joy. But, it will change you life for the rest of your days as well."
Doyle sat silent, stunned. It was a personal prophecy, one that he would welcome, if he believed in that kind of stuff. He looked over to his partner who squirmed in his seat.
Bodie leaned forward, speaking directly to Amir, "Do you believe all this ..." his hand moved all about the air, "... Stuff?"
"Mr Bodie, our ancient history is strong within us. We may not believe in the individual gods and goddesses, but their legacy of power that was left by their followers still lives."
Doyle glanced over at Bodie, who gave the slightest of nods, letting his partner know he was on board.
"We do this our way," Doyle told the curator in lieu of a stated agreement.
"Excellent, and of course. It is here, in the vault, under guard. If we may, we would like to place the pillar in your care publicly. A ceremony of sorts, so that all who won't be able to return home for the welcoming ceremony there will get the opportunity to view it here," Amir explained.
"When do you want it to arrive in Cairo?" Doyle wanted a timeframe.
Amir knew he had to leave that in Doyle's hands as Isis' messenger and Allah's hands as well. "You tell me."
Bodie quickly assessed the time for the false groundwork to be laid and quoted a time frame. "Seven days."
Amir bowed his head. "I anticipate that many will try to stop you for many different reasons."
"That is what we're trained for."
"As Mr Cowley guaranteed. I know you will be successful, you have our gods on your side." Leaving both men unsure which gods the director actually believed in.
Amir shook Bodie's, then Doyle's hand. As he held it he quickly embraced Doyle and whispered in his ear for him alone. "The actual pillar will be in the bag presented to you. Take great care." He moved to the hidden door and knocked thrice against it.
The Ambassador re-entered his office. His eyes sought and met with his friend. He found what he needed before he turned and smiled at the CI5 agents. "Thank you, gentlemen. The presentation ceremony will be held here tomorrow, noon. May Allah be with you."
Bodie followed the pensive Doyle out of the Embassy. The CI5 agent wasn't so lost within his thoughts that he didn't notice the car from nowhere heading right for them.
The screeching brakes told them it was more than a drive by. Two men jumped out and rolled on the ground to the closest parked car to use as cover. The black Vauxhall then picked up speed once more.
Bodie signalled to Doyle that he'd take the two men dropped off behind the motor. He sprayed the car with bullets and flushed the men out. He aimed true and took out the running men as he vaulted left through the air.
Doyle concentrated on the driver barrelling down on him. His first shot shattered the windscreen and the second took out the driver. The car careened right and stopped as it smashed into the embassy gate.
The front passenger was dazed but not completely out of it. After shaking his head, he brought his gun up only to find himself covered by the two they had been hired to take out. Embassy guards joined the fracas and attempted to take custody of the assassin but Bodie motioned them off.
Doyle was already on the R/T to headquarters.
They let medical personnel attend to their prisoner, but he was never out of their reach. Once done, Bodie and Doyle took him in to CI5.
"He was hired to kill you, Doyle." Cowley imparted the news dispassionately.
"Who hired him is the obvious question," Bodie snapped.
"Passionate men with lots of money. If you both were dealt with then they were to search the car for the statuette. But, make no mistake, Doyle was the primary target."
"So, the Ambassador and curator aren't the only ones who believe this 'touched by Isis' nonsense," Doyle commented. Neither he nor Bodie, shared the personal part of the prophecy that Amir had foretold with their boss. It really had nothing to do with CI5.
"You can expect more of the same. Word has obviously leaked out about the statuette and the government's plans. There will be more attempts to stop you. Plan on it," Cowley ordered and expected compliance. "Lay as many false trails as you deem necessary; draw weapons as you see fit. I have a military transport standing by for your actual flight to Cairo."
Bodie and Doyle exchanged glances as they rolled their eyes. They sure hoped it wasn't in the back of a cargo plane.
It was a paratrooper plane and they were expected to parachute in. It was believed that this way they could avoid the sticky airport roadblocks and foil any planned ambushes that were awaiting them.
They had booked five different exit routes out of the UK. Cowley and the pilot were the only two beside themselves that knew the actual route they were taking.
They had hotel bookings in Cairo and Giza, but they actually planned on jumping in outside Alexandria. The ex-merc still had contacts outside CI5 and several favours still owed. He and Doyle would have transport and lodgings under a false name. They had plenty of money. Cowley's Scottish soul hadn't been thrilled but he knew it was essential. Parachuting in allowed them to take their own weapons and back-up with plenty of ammo. Both knew it would be as necessary as the money.
Doyle slept on the flight to Cairo. Bodie found he couldn't sleep. It wasn't the statuette that had him concerned, it was the damn prophecy. He knew that Doyle usually scoffed at rubbish such as this, but Bodie had seen too much odd goings-on in Africa and he wasn't ready to scoff just yet.
Doyle was supposed to find his greatest love. Bodie knew that Doyle wanted that. He said that a real relationship would be a ground, especially in those times a case went south. He knew the golly wanted, needed, really needed to be loved in return. Would that make him believe this time?
He certainly didn't want to lose his partner after all the hard work to get him back on the A Squad. He just wouldn't let an Egyptian bird get too close, or any bird, come to that.
His thoughts drifted back to the night before. He'd been watching his partner on the dance floor, all loose and relaxed; a far cry from the usual Doyle. He suddenly realised that his partner had been open and exceptionally friendly.
It was that damn bloody prophecy, the little twit wanted it to come true and was trying his best to achieve that end.
What Doyle forgot was when most birds found out what a snarky toad he really was his relationships usually fizzled. Their work schedule could be counted on to brake a fair share of relationships and lack of commitment usually took care of the rest.
Ann Holly had been a real worry but Doyle had been play-acting. When trouble brewed, the real Doyle had asserted himself, then the Holly bitch left.
And now, Bodie was worried that Doyle would be hurt again.
Doyle wanted love and the security that went with it. He didn't want the typically average suburban-box though and that would eventually cause a rift and heartbreak. Doyle's.
Bodie didn't want that. It had been difficult enough after Holly and it bothered him to see his partner so broken up.
He knew that aside from being Doyle's partner, he was his best mate as well. They hadn't started out that way but six years later there was little that could separate them.
As a best mate it was his duty to protect Ray, even from himself, and Bodie was sure that it was necessary in this instance. He was sticking close and steering all potential troublemakers away. Bodie had learned with the Holly bird that his own life would not change for the better if Doyle got hitched.
The jump site was nearing and Bodie could tell his partner was not as relaxed about the forthcoming jump as he tried to appear. The man wasn't keen on heights as it was, this could then prove to be a bit on the terrifying side.
Bodie sought to distract him. "A camel can survive for nine days without water and for thirty-three days without food. Most think that the hump stores water but it doesn't. The hump weighs more than thirty-two kilos and stores fat that can be used when there is no food. When the camel does reach water it can drink a hundred and twenty-two litres in ten minutes, that's like two thirds of a full bathtub."
"Where do you get this stuff?" Doyle shook his head.
"I keep well informed." Bodie displayed a proud look. Pleased that Doyle was distracted, clowned it up a bit, "There are 336 dimples on a golf ball."
"Okay, okay, a real survival tip. If you count the number of times a cricket chirps in one minute, divide by two, add nine and divide by two again, you would have the correct temperature in Celsius degrees. Looking at a thermometer would probably be easier but I'm sure the Cow would like us to be able get our information elsewhere."
"Bodie, even for you, that's ridiculous. Almost as bad as the gay rats." Doyle couldn't help but laugh.
"I beg to differ, the rats did so go gay," Bodie defended himself. "I read it in a science publication. I tell you it was all the truth."
"You, reading a science publication? That's the part I doubt. Which bird was that for?" Doyle scoffed at his partner's claims of learned reading.
"I'm wounded, no bird. I'm not as unschooled as you seem to think."
Bodie's voice took on a hurt tone and Doyle had to take pause trying to figure out if he'd really hurt his feelings.
Bodie took that opportunity to position Doyle at the flight door. He was expecting the pilot's announcement.
"Drop point, ten seconds."
Before Doyle could sputter objections or permit fear to suffuse, Bodie was opening and pushing him out. Bodie held onto his partner as he counted to twenty, then he pointed to the pull ring, indicating that he should be ready to pull it in fingers, four, three, two, one.
Doyle did as instructed and his chute opened. He was pulled away from his partner by the force of the wind.
Bodie followed suit and directed himself after Doyle. Close to the ground, he positioned himself so he could land first, then motioned Doyle to copy his tuck and roll.
As Doyle made contact with the ground instinct took over and he made a flawless landing.
They quickly rolled up their chutes. Bodie pulled out a compass and pointed to his left.
"Wheels should be that way."
Less than a kilometre away, the vehicle was easy to spot on the remote landscape. After throwing their packs and chutes in the back, Bodie handed the compass to Doyle.
"Thirty-two kilometres that way," he pointed east and angled the vehicle in that direction.
As they hit the outskirts of the city, Bodie started checking street names. Doyle looked on with the curiosity of a new visitor.
"I think I expected Alexandria to look more old." Doyle couldn't help commenting aloud.
Bodie laughed, "Yeah, I heard it described as a city with lots of history but little to show for it."
"But it has one of the Seven Wonders of the World; the Lighthouse of Alexandria."
"Doyle, the only Wonder left is the pyramid at Giza." Bodie grinned as he kept his eyes on the street signs.
"Cleopatra reigned here." Doyle looked around for something ancient.
"Her Alexandria is buried six metres deep." He turned on Rue L'Ancienne Bourse. "Ah, there she is," he pointed to an older looking pub that went by the name of 'Spitfire Bar'. "It's like a Bangkok pub without the birds. It's pretty much a sailor's pub. The walls are plastered with stickers for shipping lines and photos of the drunken regulars."
They entered the bar and Doyle was struck at how aptly his partner's description depicted the actual interior.
Bodie's dark clothes that had been miserable outside in the heat seemed to fit right in with the current patrons. Bodie studied the wall photos a bit before leading his partner to the back. He stopped at the table of a man who looked like he was looking for a ship's helm.
"Rummy." Bodie greeted the sitting man.
Rummy stood and loosely embraced the ex-merc. "Bodie, long time. Haven't changed much."
Bodie smiled then introduced his partner. "Doyle, Rummy."
Rummy didn't go in for small talk. "Room and backup in Cairo." He put two keys on the table. "Room upstairs for tonight. Boots can be found at the Tomb most nights. He knows you're in so he'll be sure to check in."
"I owed ya."
Bodie took the keys off the table and they headed up to the room.
The twin bed room was small and clean. "Bog down the hall."
"Drink?" Doyle asked, referring to the ex-merc's name.
"Cards. The new recruits lost all of their pay first game out." Bodie chuckled at the memory.
Doyle sat on the bed closest to the small window and checked the statuette. The bag and the wrapped figurine were dusty but fine.
"I have a feeling the we won't get into Cairo undetected." Doyle couldn't pinpoint the exact nature of his unease.
Bodie nodded, "With you, mate. Murphy's last message confirmed that there were apparently three different contingents waiting for us at the Cairo Airport."
Doyle sighed before changing the subject, "Do they have any food downstairs?"
"Nah, drink only. Couple of places a block over."
Doyle shouldered his pack and shrugged at Bodie's look. "Feel better if we keep it with us."
"Isis talking to you?"
"No, more like the hairs on the back of my neck."
After food and a walk around to scan the area, they spent the rest of the evening with a couple of beers and the box. A game was a game, whatever the sport.
Bodie lay stretched out on one bed when Doyle returned from the loo. As Doyle unbuttoned his shirt he paused to ask, "Should we keep watch?"
"Nah, Rummy will alert us if any strangers hang about or nose around about us."
Doyle nodded and finished undressing. He flipped off the light before crawling under the sheet. After a few minutes he broke into the silence of the darkness, "Bodie?"
"You go with any of this prophecy business?"
"Actual foretelling of the future? No. But I have seen people make decisions based on a prediction and it leads them in that direction. You?"
Doyle shrugged into the darkness. It went unseen by Bodie. "All seems like a circus act. Something said to get me to go along. How 'bout this touched by Isis nonsense?" Doyle wanted to know what his partner was thinking on all this.
"'Cording to their definition, you have. You died. You came back. You're alive now. That's all. Like you said, something to get you to go along." Bodie said the words without emotion.
"Cowley. Cowley went along with it. I'm just following orders."
"Cowley was playing politics. The Prime Minister probably just wants the bloody statue out of country."
"More than likely." Doyle agreed, but it didn't make him feel any better.
"Amir said it in a oblique way, but these people still half believe all the ancient stories. You spend your whole life digging away in those tombs, translating all the old works, it probably skews your thinking." Bodie rolled over on his side to face Doyle. There was just enough light that he could make out his partner's outline.
"Do you think Amir thinks I'll find some quality in an Egyptian bird that I haven't found at home?" This was the only part of the prophecy that intrigued him.
"It's what's expected. You're the hero, you're on a great adventure. The hero is supposed to find romance." Bodie hoped his partner would look at it this way.
"Something to change my life?"
"You fall for an Egyptian bird and live here, that would definitely qualify for a major change, mate." Bodie tried for a light tone.
"Yeah, maybe." Doyle paused, not sure he wanted to say his thoughts aloud, while at the same time, needing to. "It'd be nice, that."
"Not that," exasperation evident, "Wouldn't mind finding true love. Get tired of the nothing after sex." Doyle paused again, this time waiting for the funny quip that Bodie would usually inject. But none came. His partner seemed to be really listening instead. "Don't want to reach retirement like Cowley. Alone. Want to spend my days with the same partner I share the night."
Bodie found his gut tightening in a knot. He knew what Ray wanted. Fear forced him to deflect. "Poked a bit of fun at Martin Hope. Cutting the grass, planting flowers, afternoon cuppa."
"Different that. Didn't say I wanted a stay at home job or life, just someone to spend my life with after the job."
"Hard to find a bird that can live with the hours," Bodie felt the need to remind him.
"Yeah, probably what all the life altering bit's about." Doyle stretched as he yawned. He tucked his left hand under his pillow. "If you see a bird that fits, point her out, mate."
Bodie made a non-committal sound. Fat chance. He thought his original plan of keeping all kinds of birds away from his partner still the best idea. He fell asleep listening to Doyle snuffle into his pillow. Bodie didn't attempt to explore why the sound gave him such comfort.
The drive to Cairo was uneventful. Doyle kept alert as he studied the desert landscape. He knew Bodie had been here before, but he was close-mouthed about it. Doyle couldn't help but be curious about Rummy. Why did the man feel he owed Bodie? He could always ask, but chances were his partner would brush it off with a light answer. Same as he had done with Keller.
They checked in to the hotel that they had booked from England. The CI5 men were banking on this placed being watched. They used their real names and showed their ID's.
Doyle declined porter help and left all but the statuette bag for his partner. Bodie shook his head in momentary disbelief of Doyle's belief that he was a packhorse, but picked up and carried their bags nonetheless.
They made a show of opening the door and closing it behind them. Doyle searched the room while Bodie stood at the window and watched the street below. He checked the positions of the three he had pegged as tails.
Ten minutes later, they left one bogus bag in the room and placed the rest of their luggage in the out of service dumbwaiter before heading to the lobby. The CI5 agents exited out the front of the hotel and paused, Doyle's museum bag in plain view. They crossed the street and walked straight into the Bank of Hong Kong. A safe deposit box was rented and Doyle placed a statuette inside. They pocketed the keys and bowed their thanks to the bank manager.
Outside the financial building, Bodie checked his reflection and fiddled needlessly with his hair as he ascertained the location of their tails.
"We have three. Bet one stays here." Bodie turned and made like he was coughing.
"Safe bet, that."
They matched steps and headed to the next bank. They visited five in all and at each one Doyle placed a statuette inside. They chose large institutions with varying degrees of security, all part of the Bodie security plan.
As expected, only one man was left for tailing them and the experienced agents lost him without difficulty. They headed back with all speed to their CI5 booked hotel. Once inside, they sprinted to the employee exit. Bodie picked the lock at the service entrance near the dumbwaiter containing the stashed luggage and retrieved it without being seen. They slipped out and ducked through the neighbouring caf.
They hailed a taxi and directed it to within a block of the Garden City Hotel. It was situated near the university, noisy and dusty, but clean enough for their purposes. More importantly it had a private bathroom and they were booked under false names. All arranged by Rummy.
Doyle took a shower while they waited for the next part of Bodie's plan to be set. Once in place, they headed for the Tomb. Bodie wanted to make contact with Boots.
The Tomb was another older bar and it wasn't on any tourist map. It was dark and smoky, ideal for not seeing the patrons clearly. This wasn't a club for meeting people, it was a place men came to drink.
It was obvious to Doyle that one would be able to find someone willing to do anything for the right price. He was struck by how well Bodie fit in. His partner's past was murky at best and he wasn't privy to much of it. He was certainly glad that Bodie had fallen on the more lawful side of the law.
After adjusting to the light, Bodie looked around and headed to the pool tables in the back of the pub. He picked up a cue stick and tapped the top of an unused table. Another cue stick slapped down on top of his with a hard snap.
A rough voice growled, "None but the serious play here."
"I'm always serious about how I play." Bodie quipped, unperturbed by the greeting.
"Bodie, I can't believe someone hasn't killed you yet."
"Not for lack of trying." Bodie gave the man the same loose embrace that Rummy had given him. He turned to indicate Doyle. "My partner, Ray Doyle." His eyes met Ray's as he nodded his head back at the man, "Boots."
Doyle extended his hand and was met halfway by Boots.
"Any friend of Bodie's."
Doyle read the tone more than the words. Sounded like to him that Bodie didn't have many mates but those he did were loyal and trustworthy.
"Like wise," Doyle answered.
Bodie chalked his stick and racked up the balls. As they played he laid out his plan.
Boots asked no questions, just nodded as Bodie finished. He conveyed his understanding with one word, "Done."
Doyle bought a round as Bodie played pool with Boots. Doyle played Boots when it was Bodie's turn to pick up the round. He was set to hit the ball when Boots surprised him by speaking directly to him.
"Good one, that. Never left a man behind."
Doyle understood tone and intent immediately, "Know it."
"Called you his partner. Means something."
Doyle's impression that Bodie didn't take on partners much was confirmed by Boot's words. Doyle nodded silently, letting the merc know he understood his warning.
That Bodie sparked this type of loyalty was not surprising.
Doyle found he wasn't offended by the warning, gratified actually that he had been accepted into Bodie's other world. His eyes strayed to the returning man.
Bodie returned with three mugs of the local ale. They played another round of games then departed.
Bodie took a long, circuitous route back to their hotel. Neither CI5 man noted any tails. They chose the stairs instead of the lift knowing that they ascended alone.
Doyle opened the door with his key and as they stepped inside they were met with a barrel of a gun in their face.
"Good to see you, Murph," Bodie relaxed as he took his hand off his weapon.
"Thought we'd give you an early night. Tomorrow will be anything but." Doyle took off his holster.
6.7 reholstered his own weapon with a smile. "Knew it was you two, Herd of elephants coming up those stairs, mate."
"That was Bodie, ate like it was his last meal." Doyle ducked out harm's way by avoiding Bodie's fist.
Bodie hadn't really tried to connect, he smiled, "Trying to appear natural, we were." He leaned over and opened the cooler. He grabbed three pints, handing one to Doyle then Murphy before opening his own.
"Any one hang about?" Doyle asked as he heeled off his shoes.
"Quiet as a grave." Murphy stood, took his drink and raised in a toast gesture. "Think I get some shut eye while I can."
Bodie checked the corridor before Murphy crossed the hall to the room across from theirs.
Doyle was already in the shower as Bodie set the newly installed dead bolt.
Bodie turned off the telly just as Doyle emerged towel-clad from the loo. He watched through half- hooded eyes as Doyle dried his curls. He never ceased to be amazed at the fluid movement his partner displayed even at the most mundane of tasks.
Doyle crawled under the sheet and turned toward the lamp. He pointed to it and received Bodie's okay to snap it off.
Bodie remained sitting, arms behind his back as Doyle gyrated around for the perfect sleeping position. When his partner finally settled down, he let his thoughts drift. Prophecy on his mind, Bodie was quite relaxed that no bird had fallen across their path today. He didn't think he could continue to be so lucky for long. Truth was they both had an easy time pulling birds. Doyle was only without companionship by choice.
Almost a week without and his randy partner was sure to wanting some and it would be difficult to keep Doyle away from the birds or the birds away from his partner. He was like an elixir they had to sample. His skin-tight pants gave evidence when his thoughts were percolating.
Bodie's eyes drifted to his partner's outline. The sheet covering him was snug against him and he noted the half-aroused state he even maintained while sleeping. He bet that even his dreams were sexy.
His focus switched to the sleeping snuffles of his partner. So preoccupied with the object of his thoughts that he didn't even note his own aroused state that the thoughts of Doyle had left him in.
Leaving Murphy with plenty of food and drink in the room, the CI5 partners headed out to the Egyptian Museum. The director wasn't expecting the statuette for three days, but the agents wanted to let him know they were local.
It was also part of Bodie's plan to be seen by all who were looking. They wanted to identify the players and what better way to draw them out than by setting themselves up as bait. They felt reasonably sure that they could have remained hidden until Tuesday, but that didn't mean that the statue would remain safe after it had been returned. Used to dealing with the fanatical nature of extremists, they thought it best to draw them out into the open for identification.
Bodie and Doyle entered the museum to find a nice mixture of past and present. They headed to the front desk first off so as not to get sidetracked by the impressive exhibits and asked for Fadil Amir's office.
"You have an appointment?"
Both men pulled out their IDs. "You tell him Doyle and Bodie are here," Doyle told the clerk.
The clerk did as asked and picked up the phone and spoke in rapid Arabic. He had no sooner rung off before Amir was striding across the floor and stopped right in front of the CI5 men.
"Mr Doyle, Mr Bodie, welcome. Come back to my offices, after which I will arrange a tour. No visit to Cairo could be complete without one." He led the Brits to the rear of the first floor. They strode past the Antiquities room of both the old and new kingdoms. The two CI5 men had trouble keeping up with the director. They kept cranking their necks this way and that to catch sight of some of the historic artefacts only before seen in pictures.
Amir stopped outside his office and introduced his visitors to his aide. "Mr Doyle, Mr Bodie, our artefact couriers." He looked to his aide, "My able assistant, Yasir Jawdat."
Jawdat extended his hand, "Mr Doyle, it is indeed a pleasure to meet you."
Doyle wasn't sure if it was due to Jawdat's holding his hand a fraction longer than necessary, or the obvious slight to his partner, but he got a bad feeling from the man. He noted that Bodie just gave him a hard stare.
Amir ushered the two men into his office and closed the door behind them. He indicated that they take a seat. "I hope your journey was safe," he said with great sincerity.
"We took extra precautions. All is well for the time being." Doyle answered the question within the comment.
"Yes, the security modifications shall be complete by Thursday. I can hardly contain my excitement at the prospect of the Djed Pillar finally arriving to stand next to Horus."
"We'll discuss our plans for Thursday on Thursday morning. Better that way," Bodie told the director.
Amir accepted with graceful acquiesce that this was all he would discover at this time. He arranged a full tour of the exhibits and eventually left them in the hands of his aide.
Doyle explained to Jawdat that they wished to explore on their own and after an hour of doing so, Bodie's growling stomach forced them out in search of food. They stopped for curry at Goha Bey, a small restaurant catty-corner from the museum.
After eating until Bodie was full, they hopped back into their hired jeep and headed away from the museum.
"We've been tagged ever since we left the museum." Bodie commented as he navigated through the streets.
"I've been wanting to see the Pyramid at Giza."
"Let's 'ave at it."
There appeared to be no fixed rules for driving. Drivers ignored lane markings whenever it suited. One way streets seemed to be one way in either direction and "wrong way" must have many meanings. Red lights were ignored with frequency and even some taxi drivers stopped and backed up where ever they chose in order to move around slower drivers.
Bodie took this all in stride as he navigated through the streets and adapted with alarming speed. Doyle was glad that the jeep had a roll bar. He was sure they would eventually need it.
Bodie did use it to his advantage. He indulged in a proud moment knowing he'd lost the tail even before they'd left the city. They crossed the bridge in enroute to Giza. The original intent of confounding tails by playing tourist changed as they approached the front of the Sphinx. The plan had been to act bored casual but they were quickly caught up into the history of the area and excitement sparked their steps.
The majestic and haunting Sphinx stood tall, as a guardian of the Giza plateau and that was exactly the way Bodie and Doyle saw it.
Doyle grabbed a self-guided trail brochure and read the interesting bits to his partner.
"It's carved out of a limestone outcropping in front of the Giza Pyramids. The Sphinx is fifty meters long and twenty-two meters high. Conventional archaeologists attribute its construction to the 4th Dynasty pharaoh Khafre, but other archaeologists suggest it could very well be much older. The nose and beard are missing because they were shot off by Mameluke troops who used the Sphinx for target practice." Doyle was very indignant on behalf of the cat-like monument.
"To say the least."
After they finished the historical trail about the great behemoth they advanced onto the pyramids themselves. They found an area to stand alone and take it all in.
Doyle was in awe at how they towered over the desert of nothingness.
Bodie may have seen it before but it was still just as spectacular. "Just as dangerous as any jungle, mate, don't be fooled into taking her lightly."
"Her? Why her? The desert, the ocean, ships, hurricanes." Doyle was struck by the pronoun of choice.
"All females are just plain dangerous to a bloke's life." Bodie delivered his take with apparent seriousness. He couldn't help adding to himself that women had been deadly for Doyle on several occasions as well.
Doyle picked up the current guide and proceeded to read the pyramid particulars. "Hey, Bodie, listen, 'Contrary to the common belief, only the Great Pyramid of Khufu, not all three great pyramids that make up the Giza pyramids, is on top of the list of Wonders. The monument was built by the Egyptian pharaoh around the year 2560 BC to serve as a tomb when he died."
"Bit large even for a mausoleum." Bodie found that he enjoyed listening to Doyle ramble on.
"The structure itself consists of approximately two million blocks of stone, each weighing more than two tons. It is believed to have been constructed over a twenty year period. The archeologists seem to have several theories but no one can agree on how it was really put together. You know, we can see the Sun Boat as well..."
And so it went as Bodie let his partner lead him around. He was loath to admit it aloud, but he quite enjoyed himself.
It was very late in the afternoon before they headed back to Cairo. There, the plan was to go to the museum and collect their tails once more, assured that they could lose them when they chose. They now wanted to be seen openly without the statuette in their possession.
Amir agreed to meet at the Cecil bar and they discussed general security plans. Amir was quite curious about what the CI5 men were up to, but didn't ask out of respect in his belief that Isis chose well.
He did introduce them to the local lager called stella. The export version was for foreigners as it was the sweeter of the two and the more expensive. Bodie and Doyle both enjoyed the local variety.
Doyle inquired after the nightlife and Amir confided that most quality clubs didn't open until nine p.m. Even then, the earlier belly dancer shows were just for the tourists. The real belly dancing entertainment didn't begin until one or two a.m.
Upon recommendation they chose the Auberge des Pyramides. Amir escorted them and with his introduction they were given a front line table for the first belly dancing show. Fadil Amir left soon after pleading family commitments. The CI5 men let their place go to another tourist and prowled about the place.
The chat ups were more mechanical than out of desire. Even Bodie, who wanted to keep the birds away, felt it was necessary for maintaining their cover for the prolonged stay within the club. He had already noted two of the tails from the previous day. In order to avoid a carnival of sorts the CI5 men had elected to frequent one establishment per evening.
They ate and drank for show. The birds were for show as well, and Bodie wished that the feeling that these birds were poaching on his preserves were all part of the show, but he knew it wasn't.
Fatima and Arina. He watched them watch Doyle, the look of hunger hard to miss. He watched what they watched, Doyle making his way to the counter. He floated and sashayed. Bodie laughed at himself for using such a word, but it so completely described Doyle's seductive walk.
He couldn't help but laugh to himself again, but there was no better way to describe Doyle's devil-may-care stride. Sexy. Like he was asking for it. By the grabs and pats made at his bum others were reading the message as well. Bodie found he was very irritated by this. Doyle didn't like getting groped. He didn't like it either, that, Doyle's getting groped.
Doyle's bum was perfect, a sought after prize, not a general commodity. Bodie wanted to get up and slap those hands away. He moved forward in his seat, then caught himself. What was he going to say? 'I'm protecting your arse?' He grabbed a handful of peanuts instead and brooded on the turn of his thoughts.
The girls left before the next dancing performance. When the CI5 men looked about, they noted that they were now the only two non-locals in the club. After one a.m. the more risqu belly dancing took place and lots of cash was left for the dancer who received many lustful looks but remained untouched by the clientele.
Before the second performance started, both men jockeyed about, shifting their positions several times. They set up the non-pattern of their movement about the club to throw off their watchers. As planned, they left in the middle of the second show, timing their departure during a risqu movement. They banked that all eyes were transfixed on the bits not showing on the dancer's body.
Alone, they navigated the city like locals and moved with ease through the streets about the university before arriving at their hotel.
Murphy, relieved of his duty, left and Doyle headed for the shower.
"Save me some hot water," Bodie called after the retreating figure and was seemingly ignored.
Much later, Doyle emerged towel-clad in a fog of steam.
Before Bodie could complain, "There's plenty of hot water, mate," rang out.
Bodie finished watching the water drop off Doyle's curls before rousing himself to go for his shower. He closed the bathroom door, trying to shut out his thoughts, only to be hit by a whiff of the pungent odour of semen. The randy bastard had had a wank. Bodie found that thought lift his own sex.
He stepped quickly into the water flow. He hoped to drown the sensation only to be hit by a stronger whiff of Doyle. He grew harder still. Bodie leaned back against the cold tile, hoping to cool himself off. His hands had other ideas and worked independently from his brain. They grabbed the soap and liberally lathered his groin.
He pulled on his erection, no longer fighting the impulse. He thought of Ray standing here under the water doing the same as he gripped himself firmly but not too hard. He built it slow, teased himself. Just like Doyle's tease. The man was a walking sexual tease, his bum firm and round. Bodie squeezed hard to stop from coming too soon. He really did want to stretch it out but found thoughts of Doyle set him afire without control.
He remembered the feel of Ray's arse as he built the rhythm again. Then a stray thought stole the game, Ray's hand on him instead of his own. He spurted over his hand, belly and shower wall.
He was torn between shock, shame, and confusion. But among those thoughts he couldn't ignore the immense satisfaction he had achieved.
Later, Bodie lay, watching Doyle sleep, wondering what possessed him to use thoughts of the golly to get off. No answer manifested before sleep claimed him.
The pounding at the door roused both men quickly in the predawn hours.
Both checked their weapons before approaching the door. Doyle stood off to one side, Bodie to the other.
Bodie barked out, "What is it?"
"It's me, fellas," Murphy's voice called out into the silence of the wee hours.
Doyle opened the door, gun chest level in case the other agent was under duress.
Murphy was alone, but full of news.
"Five banks were broken into. Three had their vault doors blown open. One had all the safety deposit boxes vandalised. It was while the thieves were at the Bank of Hong Kong that it all went wrong for them. Two are dead, one prisoner gone to hospital and the authorities don't know how many got away." 6.7 watched in amusement as CI5's best men padded across the room in underwear toting guns. "Amir called your room and the information was relayed to me."
"And the dead men?" Doyle asked.
"Already working on it. Should have all their particulars and knowns by brekki." Murphy turned to leave.
Doyle looked to his partner, "Owe you double." At Murphy's puzzled look, Doyle answered the unasked question. "Bodie bet that they would try for all five banks at the same time."
Murphy looked aghast, "That was your plan, 3.7?"
"How could you know that?"
Bodie shrugged, "Fanatics, predictable that."
"Don't tell the Cow that was your objective." Murphy could imagine how many calls the boss would have to make then.
"No plan to," Bodie's smile was smug.
Murphy was still shaking his head, "Manager at Bank of Hong Kong rang already, 'spect they all will," he concluded as he headed for the door.
"Time for a kip before having to get up for real," Bodie headed back to bed as his partner locked the door after 6.7's departure.
Doyle arranged to meet Amir at the museum before its opening.
For security reasons Amir hadn't inquired on the phone, but they were the first words out of his mouth. "The statuette? Is it gone?"
"It's perfectly safe." Bodie assured.
"So it was with the Bank of Hong Kong." Amir relaxed.
"At this point, I think it best to neither confirm or deny the exact location of it." Doyle used his most professional tone.
Panic receded by the calm demeanour of the English agents. Again, Amir felt his faith in Isis not misplaced.
As did all the depositors, Bodie and Doyle visited each back to inspect the damage to their property. At the four banks where their property had been stolen or destroyed, they were promised compensation and received the appropriate paperwork to accomplish it. The CI5 men would leave that to George Cowley.
At the fifth bank, Jing Li, bank manager of the Bank of Hong Kong, assured the Englishmen that the bank had added even more security.
Both men thanked Mr Jing.
"Your faith in us is much appreciated," the manager bowed.
Bodie bowed in return and Doyle followed suit.
Next was speaking with the Central Security Police, the division that dealt with Embassies and banks. Upon their discovery that the Englishmen had visited all five establishments, the local authorities suspected them of setting up the break-ins. Not until after verification of their IDs and confirmation from Amir did the authorities look elsewhere.
The CI5 men knew that they would get a full report via the Cow through Murphy. They didn't want the local police to know of their interest.
They drove back to the Windsor Hotel, the one they had booked as CI5 agents and found their room there ransacked.
"They weren't leaving anything to chance." Doyle sifted through the mess in the bathroom.
"Did they have to shred me clothes?" Bodie said in indignant outrage.
"Guess they didn't like the style." Dole retorted with amusement.
"Everyone's a critic." Bodie replied wide-eyed as he threw the mess in the rubbish.
They straightened the room and didn't bother the police, knowing they didn't want the added attention that would bring them.
It was just heading for noon when the reached the museum. Murphy should have completed obtaining the details of the dead and hopefully, on the prisoner as well.
Bodie noted one of the same tails from the club the night before.
"Yeah, he was waiting across the street as we pulled up." Doyle nodded.
"I can't wait to turn this thing over to them tomorrow."
"Same here, as well." Doyle led the way.
Their tail wasn't the only one watching out for their return. They hadn't entered the museum before Amir was striding towards them. He led them directly to his office.
Amir paused at his aide's desk, "Place the call, then no interruptions."
Jawdat agreed and picked up the phone.
Amir made sure the door was locked before speaking, "I received information on the dead men. Not surprising, they're from an extremist Islamic faction and not unknown to us. They don't acknowledge anything prior to the advent of their faith."
"Pyramids must be hard to ignore," Bodie said dryly.
"One would think," Amir answered as he handed over the file that had been dropped off for them.
The phone rang as Doyle began leafing through the folder.
The director picked up the phone on the first ring. "Yes, Mr Cowley, they're right here."
Both CI5 agent's heads sprang up at the mention of Alpha One.
Bodie had a bad feeling as Amir handed him the phone. "3.7 here, sir."
"There's been a change in plans. You will keep the statuette in your possession until the ceremony." Cowley didn't bother with salutations.
"Why us, sir? This isn't exactly in our purview and this isn't our jurisdiction, is it, sir?"
"It is if I say so, Bodie, don't forget that. They've asked for our help and the Prime Minister wants to give it. The PM is pleased with your work thus far," leaving Bodie the impression that he wasn't in agreement.
"They have their own security personal," Bodie commented. He had been hoping to head back so that he could keep Doyle unencumbered.
"Mr Amir trusts you two. I'm afraid he's not sure whom he can trust in their close political arena. He's more important than his title allows and he's close to the Ambassador. He has faith in you, don't break mine."
The call disconnected. Bodie was unsurprised at his boss' abrupt signoff.
Bodie handed the phone back to the director and leaned over close to his partner, "Well, we're stuck here, Sunshine."
"We keep the statue until the ceremony." Bodie turned to Amir and asked, "When's that?"
"Everything is set for a week tomorrow."
"Another whole week?" Doyle's words echoed Bodie's thoughts.
Fadil Amir knew that he was asking a lot, risking their lives, but he believed that Isis chose well and wanted it this way. He had great faith.
"My government and I can't thank you enough. It's been safe with you and I believe it will remain so. Friday almost everything is closed. It's a communal day of prayer. Saturday and Sunday there will be more open but not like Monday through Thursday. I will give you my personal number in case it should be necessary."
A knock at the door interrupted as Amir moved to answer. Rapid-fire Arabic ensued before the director turned back.
"An urgent matter I must attend to." He left, closing the door.
"Damn Cowley, he's left us in the thick of it." Doyle observed with disgust.
"We're too good for our own good." Bodie didn't make it sound like a good thing.
"So, we go on as we've done."
"All been working like a charm," Bodie shrugged, he didn't believe in fixing anything that wasn't broke. "So where to today, Sunshine?"
"The Necropolis of Memphis. Close by and we can do it all today. Let's get a move on."
"Need some food, I do, first."
"Bottomless pit." Doyle led the way.
After filling the bottomless pit he called a partner, Doyle checked the map for the easiest route. He directed them over the bridge to the old capital of Egypt.
"We've picked up another tail." Bodie checked his rear-view.
"That's what I thought. Hope to find where we're staying, they do." Doyle turned the mirror for his use. "I've got the second, third, fourth and seventh motors behind us."
"Knew I kept you around for a reason." Bodie caught an eye roll out of the corner of his eye.
Doyle found his attention drawn to the upcoming historical site. "There's not much left of the once great city. It was the capital of Egypt for thousands of years until the Arab conquest." He directed Bodie to stop at the Temple of Apis Bull.
"He's the herald of the god, Path, creator of all things."
"This is from the same pantheon as Isis?" Bodie had read the literature his partner had collected.
"Yeah, several have animal head likenesses. Horus is the falcon head, Anubis has the jackal head. Says here, Osiris judged all that Anubis brought before him. If they were touched by Isis then they were welcomed into the light. If they were found wanting they went with Ammit the Devourer."
"What did Isis look like?"
"Isis is always depicted with a crown that has a throne on top. Osiris wears an atef crown with two feathers."
"You'd think a guy that was as important as this Osiris would have something more memorable on his crown. Some kind of big animal." Bodie lamented for the long lost god.
Doyle laughed, unable gauge how serious his partner was.
"Am serious, to be forever immortalised with just two feathers. Everyone remembers the jackal- headed Anubis." He looked at the slant shaped eyes of his partner and remarked, "Can see you as a cat."
"Already taken, mate. Bastet is the cat goddess."
"She'd probably move over for you, Sunshine."
Bodie parked and they climbed up the step-pyramid of Zoser. They moved around and about the necropolis and enjoyed watching their tails trying to keep tabs on them.
Bodie followed Doyle whenever the footpath would narrow. He found his eyes straying each time to the shapely bum before him. The movement of the curves at the top of the legs was more fascinating the longer he watched. This time when his hand palmed the tight bum hurrying Doyle up the stairs, Bodie felt a heat singe his fingers and travel deep into his belly.
His thoughts were conflicted, but his eyes never lost sight of what was most fascinating to them.
They timed their departure with the setting of the sun. Doyle mapped out an intricate route and Bodie followed his direction without question. They led the tails on a merry chase, speeding on the straightaways and zipping even faster on the curves.
"Do they really think we don't see them?" Bodie asked as they turned another corner.
"I think it's time we let them know we do."
"Grand idea, old son."
Bodie whipped the vehicle in a one-eighty and drove straight at the car that was closest. The panicked driver tried to swerve his car to avoid the Englishman's car and slammed into a parked car. Bodie braked immediately and Doyle jumped out, gun drawn, to forestall any attempt on the passengers' part to try something.
The second car appeared to be coming to the rescue as Bodie flashed his gun at them. It apparently changed its mind and veered off and away. The other cars from earlier weren't seen at all.
Using rope found in the jeep, they bound the three men and laid them out in the back of the jeep. They continued to the museum and although it was now past closing time, the CI5 agents knew that Amir would still be there. Doyle pounded on the door.
Amir quickly dealt with the situation. He put a call in to the Central Security Police and awaited their arrival.
"They are part of the same group that struck the banks. I was pleased they did not shoot at you, but I fear it was not because of any reverence for life."
"They still have hopes that we will lead them to the statue before the public showing," Doyle guessed accurately.
"Yes, part of our security arrangements include vetting our own personnel. Once the statue is seen in public, the symbol it represents will withstand even another theft. The hope will remain."
"Will you have the reports forwarded to Cowley? We want to continue to move outside the local authorities radar as long as possible."
"Yes, of course. Then you should make haste and leave. I can deal without you both."
They left the bound prisoners with the director and made their way back to their hotel. It was Doyle's choice for takeaway and he picked Greek. After getting enough to feed Murphy, Bodie drove toward the university. He made several loops until he was sure there were no tails, then made straight for their abode.
The three men checked through the files that Amir had given the CI5 men earlier in the day.
"I truly expected Yasir Jawdat to be involved," Doyle confessed disappointedly. "I get such a peculiar feeling off him."
Murphy snapped his fingers, "Ray, you've received no less than eight messages from that man."
Doyle looked over at Bodie swallowing the last grape leaf. "He said nothing of this when we were at the museum earlier."
"He doesn't like me, Angelfish. Probably hoping to get you to himself," Bodie camped.
Doyle shivered, "What a revolting thought."
Bodie hoped it was just Jawdat and not the suggestion of a male partner that he found revolting.
They memorised all the names and faces before sending Murphy on his way.
Door locked, Doyle turned on the telly and selected an older movie. Bodie fetched a lager for both of them before sitting on the small sofa next to Ray.
Doyle took his shower while Bodie put their room to rights. The little chores kept Bodie's thoughts at bay but after the lights were out Doyle's snuffles filled the room and he could no longer ignore them.
He reasoned that Doyle's revolting thought comment earlier in the evening was based on the unsettling feeling that Jawdat created in both men. Doyle didn't want that man touching him. Fact was, Doyle didn't encourage touch from most folk he encountered. Actually went out of his way to avoid it most times.
Except his touch.
In all their years together, Doyle never avoided or asked for it to cease; even some of the accidental ribald touches.
Like today ... that thought stopped Bodie cold as he remembered his own reaction to the pat to Doyle's bum. His fingers had grown warm, just like when ...
Well, that was just because of the shower wank that night before. Bodie rationalised his earlier reaction completely ignoring the current aroused state that idea put him in.
Bodie rolled over and forced himself to sleep.
A pounding at the door had both men grabbing for their guns as they bounded out of bed for the second morning in a row. They took their places on either side of the door before Bodie called out.
"It's Murphy, open up."
Doyle's raised brow matched that of Bodie's. Both of them had heard the amusement in the other agent's voice.
Bodie opened the door, gun chest level, Doyle beside him. Murphy closed the door and faced both the weapons.
"You can stand down, now," 6.7 suggested.
Doyle looked at his partner, gun still firm, "It's bleeding early, who'd blame us?"
Bodie nodded. "Justifiable in my book," he agreed with relish.
"Hey, fellas, Cowley's orders. He's not happy that he can't call you himself."
"He shouldn't be calling you here, either." Doyle reprimanded.
Both men then put their guns away.
"I rang from a call box and that's what he wants you to do as well."
"It's not gone seven yet," Bodie complained.
"I'm sure the Cow knows and doesn't care." Murphy smiled, he'd been ordered to call in at six a.m.
He left them to dress as he restocked the larder.
Bodie flipped Doyle the coin, "Your turn."
Doyle smiled as he dropped the coin in the call box slot.
The operator answered in Arabic.
"English?" he tried.
Or, at least that's what Doyle think she answered. He tried in French. "Le franais ?"
"L'inverse charge, s'il vous plat." He asked for the charges to be reversed with a smile."
"Le nom ?"
"Doyle pour Cowley."
"Merci." Doyle waited for the explosion.
There was silence before an outraged Alpha One took the line.
"What is this?" an immensely irritated voice demanded.
"Didn't have coin. Wasn't expecting to place a long distance call."
Bodie kept his glee silent as his partner got one over their boss.
"You should plan for the unexpected at all times." Cowley's tone changed right along with the topic. "They found a crude bomb at the Bank of Hong Kong. The safety deposit boxes were the targets. Their bomb detail neutralised the device. I want you two involved with the security at the museum. They have a leak and we need to know where it goes."
"But, sir ..."
"Don't stand there arguing, 4.5, hop to it." Cowley disconnected the call.
Doyle looked to his partner as he replaced the receiver. "We're museum security today."
Amir was quite pleased by the added help. So when the CI5 men asked for the employee list, he happily provided it. He showed the Englishman their temporary desk as he dropped the huge list on top.
"We have a thousand employees here." Amir left them to work on more pertinent details for the arrival of the pillar's homecoming.
Doyle pierced his partner with a glare. "You know how I feel about sorting through files."
"You want excitement, action, but not--not--sorting through files." Bodie remembered clearly what Doyle had said during the Susie Carter case.
"Yeah exactly." Doyle couldn't help but be pleased.
Bodie cut the stack in half and dropped one part in front of his partner. "Two work faster than one."
They worked steadily to elevenses, but that didn't hold Bodie long and they went across the street for lunch.
They were seated outside and Doyle smiled at the waitress as she filled their coffee cups. His eyes tracked movement across the street. "Two shadows," he announced between bites.
"Yeah, saw that." Bodie finished his sandwich off before adding, "You notice how they fade away when we're speaking to Amir."
Doyle quickly replayed previous encounters that occurred out of doors and nodded, "Now that you mention it, the tails are usually absent when Amir is in the vicinity."
"He would recognise them." Bodie knew it in that instant.
"Do the personnel files come with pictures?"
"Don't know, mate, let's find out," Bodie quickly emptied his cup and followed Doyle back to the museum.
The CI5 men spent several hours in the personnel office housed in the basement going through files. They identified three of the most recent tails as museum employees. With Amir being away from the museum, the agents decided to keep the information to themselves. Until comprehensive background checks could be completed, no one, save Amir, was above suspicion.
Hoping to draw more tails, the agents decided to visit a different club for the evening. The Zamalek, another club that came highly recommended, was known for a quality cabaret. They spruced up at the CI5 hotel room and Bodie hurried them away for he was hungry.
"Fatima's joining us." Doyle announced as they entered the club.
Bodie found he didn't like those words at all. They were a two man team. There was no room for a third. He didn't want some frivolous bird encroaching on his turf.
This time that thought didn't unsettle him. Doyle was his.
Well, that was unexpected. His what? That part, well, he wasn't clear on that yet. Not sure he could even answer that? But ...
Doyle was his ... his partner, his mate, his ... lover?
The tightening in his groin was an answer of sorts; obviously somewhere along the way his body had developed a hunger for Doyle.
Bodie wondered if he should just lock those thoughts away and forget about it, but he found he couldn't, so he continued with the questions.
Was it more?
More what? More than sex? Again, that thought wasn't repugnant now. Bodie was puzzled, he had never really entertained those type of thoughts before, thoughts about other men, let alone about his partner. And yet, Doyle was different. Their relationship was different. He felt more connected and gave more trust to Doyle than to any other person in his life.
Had he gone queer?
Bodie looked about the club and noted men that could be considered pleasing. He eyed them top to toe and tried to imagine his hand ... his mouth ... and it left him cold. His eyes found Doyle easily on the dance floor and he imagined cupping the firm bum, pulling him close and grinding their groins together. Yes, that left him hard and wanting.
Apparently he had gone queer, queer for Doyle. Bloody hell.
Bodie needed a distraction and threw himself into the spirit of the evening, dancing, eating, drinking. All the while he kept Doyle busy and managed to irritate Fatima enough that she headed out earlier than expected with Arina in tow.
Doyle pleased with the dancing and the ease of tension, happily followed his partner to the jeep. He didn't realise until half way back to the hotel that the girls weren't with them.
"What'd you expect, Doyle, that we bring 'em back to our room?" Bodie asked as he wove through the Cairo back streets.
"Ah," disappointment evident, "Yeah, wasn't thinking, mate. Can't wait to officially turn over that statue." Doyle shook his head to clear away the last of the drink. "It should 'ave been today," the frustration evident in his voice.
Back at the hotel, Doyle headed for the shower as Bodie sent Murphy on his way and locked up. He toed off his shoes, unbuttoned his shirt and took off his belt before letting his eyes stray to the bog door. A small amount of steam escaped under the bottom of the door and Bodie was absolutely positive that Ray was doing more than rinsing off the day's dirt.
The dark hour before dawn found Bodie still awake. Thoughts swirled and prevented slumber. Those thoughts that centred on just one topic; Ray Doyle. He itched to grab himself again as he'd done earlier in the shower after Doyle. The pungent aroma of Dole had hung in the air same as before and Bodie couldn't resist the allure of it. Was he now thinking of more than a relief handjob in the shower? Was he thinking of more than a possible fuck? Memories sifted and settled and he was afraid of the answer.
He wanted more. More than a fuck. More than sex. He wanted that after part. He wanted the something after sex.
Bodie knew, truth be told, he was already lost. He loved his partner and mate, Ray Doyle.
Not only had he gone queer for Doyle, he was in love with him. Then, as if admitting it to himself, a feeling of rightness suffused his being and Bodie accepted the situation for what it was. Complicated.
Did he tell Doyle? Sit on it? Bury it? Bodie wasn't clear on how to proceed... but he figured he had to ponder it as well.
The wisest thing would be to forget it. If Doyle didn't take his head off first, he'd probably go straight to Cowley to demand a re-team. Yeah, forgetting it would be the wisest, but ... he really didn't think that he'd be able to keep his hands off Doyle. Eventually, he'd give himself away and that would be that.
Bodie didn't think he could bear being on the receiving end of that 'look' from Doyle. He didn't want to sully the memory Doyle would have of him as well. That didn't leave him with many options.
"I'm thinking of cutting loose from this mob," Bodie announced baldly, wanting to get it over.
An odd panic invaded Doyle, "We've never worked better together as we have this past year. We've reached a specialised unity, like our thoughts are in accordance."
His partner said nothing and as Bodie was faced away Doyle couldn't read his back.
"Was it seeing Rummy and Boots? You want to hook back up with your old merc group again?"
Again, no response from Bodie and the silence pushed Doyle past his point of reasonableness. "Damnit, Bodie! Talk to me."
"Already did, Sunshine. I told you my plan."
"I want to know why, Bodie. Why I'm losing my partner, my best mate. I'm losing that as well, aren't I? You're just going to up and disappear. I know you, Bodie."
Saying those words aloud, Doyle heard them and realised that they were true. He did know Bodie, better than anyone, even Cowley. He stared at his partner, assessing.
"It's not the mercs. You aren't hankering after the old life. We've been fine the last year, I'd've known if we weren't. And, I would've, that's how close we've become." Doyle paced the room quickly processing all the know facts. "It's since we arrived here. Something's on your mind. Come on, Bodie, just tell me."
Bodie was appalled at just how well Ray did know him. It was going to be harder to get away. But, damn if the rotten sod wasn't right, he did plan to disappear. So, he might as well make the break permanent and irrevocable. The truth was bound to do that.
"The truth, Sunshine?"
"Yeah, try it for me." Doyle's tone had a bite to it, like he'd already been stung.
"It's like the prophecy said, a big change. This is just part of that change." Bodie found it was still hard to blurt out the full truth.
"You don't give tuppence for that bloody prophecy."
"But you're looking, Sunshine. You want it, said so yourself."
"Damn you, Bodie, that doesn't have anything to do with you."
"Actually, as it turns out, it does."
"How? There's been no love or life altering revelations, here, Bodie."
"That's where you're wrong, Sunshine, for me, there has."
"What?" Doyle read the closed-off body language, "Talk to me, Bodie." Doyle was between demanding and pleading.
"That damn prophecy may have been meant for you but it happened to me." Bodie stopped, hoping that Doyle might draw the wrong conclusion.
"Don't give me that codswallop. You haven't gone and fallen for some bird."
Resigned that only the truth would do, "You're right."
Doyle stopped mid-pace. He had expected more fight, more prevarication. "Of course I am ... about what exactly?"
"I haven't fallen for a bird."
Doyle knew the tone implied that he had fallen though. "Not a bird? Who?"
Bodie took a deep breath and faced his life. "You."
"Chance would be a fine thing," Doyle muttered before he drew breath to mount his interrogation.
"What?" Bodie turned sharply to face his partner, fearing he misheard.
"An optimal solution and you're joking."
"Not joking at all. What's an optimal solution?"
Doyle found all panic had receded. Bodie wasn't leaving, he'd see to it. And, oddly none of the prospects were offensive. Images and thoughts were rapid fire in his mind and he surprised himself with everything he'd like to indulge in. The prospects went from not offensive to appealing.
Doyle quoted himself, "Someone to spend my life with after the job." He caught a fleeting look from Bodie that caused a fire deep within his belly. Doyle liked it.
"I think you were meaning more than companionship with that partner you share the night with." It was obvious that Bodie remembered the words Doyle had uttered into the dark the first night in Alexandria.
"Yeah, I was," Doyle admitted.
"That's what I'm wanting, Doyle, you. Somewhere in the last seven days I've gone queer, apparently just for you, but queer, nonetheless."
"Bodie, one doesn't go queer overnight."
"Ray, I want to sink so far in you I can't get out. I want to grind against you and hear you scream my name. I want to suck you deep into my throat and not let go. I think that about sums queer up, don't you think?"
Doyle listened intently to the words and tone and found the fire in his belly flame out of control and his reaction wasn't hidden from view.
Bodie couldn't take his eyes off the hard bulge still burgeoning in the tight confines of Doyle's tight jeans. He couldn't believe how hungry it made him. Hungry for Ray Doyle.
A gasp made him look higher and he collided with green eyes that beckoned. He noted the hips that bucked in desire for more contact than the fabric barely holding him in could give. Bodie answered the need displayed and hoped they could sort it out later.
He cupped the full package, running his thumb the length with the amount of pressure he liked himself. The full thrust into his palm communicated better than words how affected Ray was. Bodie kept the pressure steady on the fluid sacs as his other hand unzipped the barrier and slipped his hand inside. Flesh against flesh, the hand inside took over.
He walked Ray back against the wall as his hand explored Ray from the moist tip of his length to the pulsing hole behind the sacs.
Doyle was lost in the sensations of the unleashed freedom to react in the fullest. No fear that his needs wouldn't be comprehended, no fear that he would be reacting too forcefully. The freedom was intoxicating as the hand that mastered him. He was coming in long, great pulses before he even realised he had reached climax.
He opened his eyes to find his head resting in Bodie's neck and he was loath to move, so right it felt to be there.
Bodie had never been sure that everything one wanted in life could ever come together in one perfect moment. Never thought it possible until he'd felt the warm seed spill into his hand as his name came in breathy gasps from Ray's mouth.
He had definitely never believed that he could climax from just seeing, hearing and smelling until he did. Bodie held Ray close for he, too, was loath to let go and find out it was a dream or worse, just a one-off.
Bodie's body reacted in antipathy to that notion. He found himself fully moulded along the length of Doyle's back. Legs entwined, he pulled Doyle down enough that he could rest the head of curls on his shoulder. A satisfaction he didn't know existed after sex wove its spell and Bodie knew that he'd never be content with another partner.
Doyle was aware of the warmth surrounding him long before he opened his eyes. Remarkably, this was exactly what he'd asked for, that something after sex. The arms about him seemed to hold on to him and not just the sex partner. He made a contented sound as he stretched.
Bodie's arms pulled him closer and Doyle felt his mate's hardness tight against his bum. Unconsciously, he moved closer and found Bodie's erection wedged between his arse cheeks and he clenched his muscles anticipating the groan of need that Bodie let escape.
Bodie moved his hand from its resting place on Ray's furry belly down to his groin. A place that was a mixture of soft and hard. Course fur surrounded soft, malleable sacs that anchored a hardness that belied the recent rendering.
Ray arched into the touch, trapping Bodie's hardness firmly. Ray's hips mirrored Bodie's hand movement. With no urgency, they built up slowly, reaching that fever pitch, they let go simultaneously in a long release that left two languid bodies in the wake.
Bodie slept this time with no fear that he'd be alone when he woke.
Morning eventually started, but later than the actual dawn, four hours later to be exact. Bodie felt a momentary resentment at having to leave his warm bed and new bed partner until he remembered that today was Friday and it was a day of rest. Almost everything was closed for praying, worship and respect from those not of the faith. Bodie relaxed and snuggled against Ray until he could interest him in his idea of morning activities.
Later, they went out in search of food, not as two CI5 agents, but as a couple that had just found themselves deliriously happy. The exuberant air about them was contagious and all they encountered were helpful and pleasant. Neither man could remember have such a relaxing day in the middle of an assignment. They spent over half the day just walking and bartering in the bazaar. Eventually they picked up some takeaway for Murphy and themselves before heading back to the hotel room.
They handed over the food and sent 6.7 on his way. They wanted some more time alone.
Murphy checked in with them later before he left for the evening. He then headed to the airport, Lucas and McCabe were due in from Spain and were booked in the same original hotel as Bodie and Doyle. Cowley wanted men he could trust on hand. Murphy was to be their contact, for even they weren't to know where Bodie and Doyle were really staying. Safer that way. He hoped they had worked on their American accent as they were spending the next few days at the museum as tourists. Cowley didn't want to take the chance that anyone would notice an influx of British tourists.
Murphy laughed to himself; he liked his guard duty much better.
Bodie and Doyle ate breakfast quickly, eyes on each other. They may have spent the last six years together, as partners and mates, but not as lovers. Now their time together was spent exploring this new facet of their relationship.
Bodie knew of Ray's young life but now he learned more. He, in turn, shared a few dark moments of his own life in reciprocation. With former experiences and secrets shared, the men became closer, much more than bed partners, forging a new and intimate bond.
After exploring the intangible side of his mate, Bodie switched to the solid form. All those stakeout conversations weren't discarded. Bodie remembered with perfect clarity all of Ray's likes and dislikes. He remembered that Ray was particularly susceptible to tongue stimulation from the nipples to his knees. In his non-verbal way, Bodie proceeded to demonstrate his accurate memory.
Once Ray touched earth again, he set about proving he was no mental slouch himself. He worshipped Bodie's body in a manner he hoped his partner would want to grow accustomed to.
For both, morning came much too soon.
The call from Amir set the CI5 men on the job early Sunday morning. Murphy had once again pounded on their door, but at least this time he had waited until eight o'clock to do it.
Bodie drove the streets of Cairo more content than he could ever remember feeling. He replayed the morning shower through his thoughts once again.
Doyle convinced him that a shared shower would take half the time. His partner neglected to mention that his morning ablutions included a thorough inspection with his tongue. An inspection that ended at his groin, left Bodie relaxed and able to tackle all the day could throw at him.
Amir met them at the museum and guided them back to his office personally.
"I apologise. Jawdat was not here to greet you. The museum has just a skeleton staff today, for the tourists only."
"We've just arrived ourselves," Doyle replied as they followed Amir.
Inside the office, Bodie laid their folder on the desk before the museum director.
"We found seven employees with connections to the extremist group that broke into the banks. Twelve connected to a liberation front and twenty-seven on your own country's most watched list." Bodie delivered their findings with no emotion.
"How could we have missed this?" Amir's appalled voice asked.
"Two key employees in the personnel department," Doyle divulged.
The director sighed, "We fight so many factions ... it is difficult ... Thank you. You are all Mr Cowley promised." Amir smiled, "Isis chose well."
There was no apt response so the CI5 men stood instead.
"This is now a matter for our own authorities. Hopefully, we can deal with this quickly and make your job easier. The viewing ceremony is set for Thursday. I will alert Mr Cowley."
"We have some sight seeing planned to keep track of our tails." Bodie confided as he shook Amir's hand before he and Doyle took their leave.
Bodie walked behind his partner to the carpark, openly admiring the bum he followed.
Key in the ignition, Bodie asked, "Where to, Sunshine?" He drove the car away from the museum.
"We can check out the citadel." Doyle shrugged with his voice.
"Fine by me. Which way?"
Doyle pulled out the tourist guide and directed his partner to the left.
Bodie had travelled less than a kilometre when his glance back gave him alarming information. "We have seven different tails and counting."
"Must have missed us."
"No, Ray, they're not trying to stay hidden from view, they're openly pursuing us." Bodie took evasive manoeuvres as he spoke, but was out flanked by an additional three vehicles.
Both CI5 men took out their weapons but for naught as their vehicle was rammed from behind and both sides. Masked men swarmed the jeep. Doyle was dragged from the vehicle just as Bodie was clubbed from behind.
The masked men threw Doyle into the boot and sped away.
Urgency hammered in his brain along with pain, Bodie knew he had to get up. He forced himself up to his knees. One hand went to the bleeding wound on the back of his head and the other set of fingers he used to pry his eyes open. Desperate urgency fuelled his actions. Doyle. Kidnapped.
He rolled his body up onto the motor bonnet to hold himself up and frantically looked for any sign of Doyle.
Sighting seven cars in the distance closely following one another like a parade heading south, Bodie knew they had his partner. He forgot his pain and blood and ran to his motor. Keeping the parade in view, he followed. With Doyle's life at stake, he couldn't take time to call for back up. He had to depend on himself alone.
Doyle woke with a chloroform mouth and headache. He could tell that the vehicle was still moving at a fast clip. He could feel he had a burlap sack over his head and could see nothing. With his years of training, he kept his body immobile and continued to feign unconsciousness while he tried to keep track of direction and sounds.
Thirty minutes passed before the vehicle stopped and he heard the key in the boot lock. He was pulled from the boot by one person, but two half-carried and dragged him away. He recognised his captor by the scent of his greasy hair and body odour, the assistant to the museum director, Yasir Jawdat. Doyle felt vindicated -- he knew there was something odd about that man.
Doyle was dragged up stairs and then felt the air grow cold as they entered a confined corridor. He heard voices, all speaking Arabic as they dropped him into what he figured was a much larger room by the sound. He was heaved up onto a table. His wrists and ankles were bound then tied to the table before the sack was removed from his face.
Doyle's eyes flew open in surprise as his shirt was ripped off his body. His chest and scar were explored by Jawdat's clammy hands. His captor smiled, then left him alone.
He looked about the chamber to see it was filled with statues of Egyptian deities. Full size statues of Anubis, Osiris with the two feathers and Isis with the throne atop her head. The walls were filled with ancient Egyptian writing and the table he lay upon was actually a stone slab. There was a stone table with empty canopic jars, knives and saws close by. Doyle feared that they were for him.
Jawdat reappeared, now dressed in obvious ceremonial robes. He was not alone. Twelve men stood around the slab, each dressed in elaborate costumes.
Jawdat spoke to Doyle in English.
"Mr Doyle, I am so glad that you are finally here with us. Many were unsure of you, but as you evaded and survived every attempt from my group as well as other factions, you proved yourself. You are a living god and in sharing your Ka, you will guide us on our own journey across and we, too, will be able to exist in both worlds."
"You never wanted the statue," Doyle guessed as if it were a revelation.
"Correct, your Ka is all we require. You will create a bridge that will carry us successfully across. Isis' hand on you will touch us all," Jawdat said proudly.
Under their leader's guidance, Jawdat's men removed the rest of Doyle's clothes and anointed his body with aromatic oil. They pouched his groin before drawing the marks on his skin that the knife would follow to cut into the body and remove his organs.
Jawdat then moved to Doyle's head, "This drink will allow your Ka the freedom it needs to move."
He poured the liquid down Doyle's resisting throat. The CI5 man tried to spit out all the vile-tasting fluid but felt some burn as it slid down the back of the throat.
Ray struggled futilely against the ropes. Jawdat planned to eviscerate him while he lived and was still conscious. The fanatical man used an ancient straight knife and stabbed Doyle in the abdomen.
Ray screamed as Jawdat exclaimed, "I release your spirit and I will be able to follow you as you return to the realm of Osiris."
His men chanted as he picked up a long curved knife. He shouted in Arabic as he faced Isis and displayed the ritual blade. He turned back to Doyle, still speaking in Arabic and prepared to plunge the knife into his sacrifice.
Doyle felt his axis spin as he waited for the down stroke of the knife. Preoccupied, he missed the commotion around him until the shooting started.
His only tangible thought was that Bodie was finally here.
Bodie saw no one at the tomb opening when he stopped his vehicle. The passageway was open and empty and he followed the voices inside. He took out his weapons and checked the clips of both guns without missing a step. He dropped into the chamber, memorised everything in a flash second and took aim.
Bodie's shot took out Jawdat on his down stroke. The impact shifted where the blade landed and instead of hitting Doyle dead centre in the chest, it hit the ropes around his wrist.
Doyle reacted immediately and tried to grab the knife but missed as Jawdat fell backward.
Bullets flew as Bodie continued shooting. The zealots picked up weapons and fired back. Bodie's only motivation now was saving Doyle.
Ray twisted around to find Bodie exposed and was horrified to witness the bullets hitting his chest. Bodie's eyes locked with Ray's before closing for the last time.
Ray bellowed his pain and anger into the chamber. The man who killed Bodie fled and he was stuck, unable to exact revenge. He was now the only one left alive among the scattered dead bodies and he knew that he, too, was dying. He pounded his free fist against the stone tabletop.
"I can't die now, Bodie can't die now, we just discovered our love. A love that's worth changing our lives for ...noooo."
The agony of the mournful voice echoed throughout the stone chamber.
Later, Doyle never really planned to share all that happened next, not absolutely sure it actually happened or if it was just a manifestation of the hallucinogen.
Bodie had fallen at the feet of the statue of Anubis. Doyle watched as the Anubis statue broke free of the stone bindings and picked up his fallen partner. The now-walking statue moved across the chamber to stand in front of another statue, that of Isis.
She, too, broke free of the rock and gathered the body of his lifeless partner into her arms. Anubis enfolded them both as the lights in the chamber flared bright.
Doyle shielded his eyes with his free hand. When the room dimmed enough to lower his arm, Bodie was back at the foot of Anubis exactly the way he had fallen. Doyle turned to look for Isis and found her next to him.
She smiled as she placed her hand on Doyle's head. She traced the Ankh Cross around her neck then pointed to Bodie's feet. Ray followed her point and found it suddenly hard to concentrate, she whispered in his ear but he was captivated by the rise and fall of Bodie's chest. He lived!
Doyle turned back only to find that the statue of Isis was once more just that. A magnificent statue carved into the stone walls of the chamber. His eyes sought something to prove that they had moved, but could find nothing and certainly no Ankh Cross draped about her neck.
He checked Bodie before he let his eyes close; he was more than thankful that at least Bodie would live.
No one was more surprised when Ray Doyle opened his eyes than Ray Doyle, himself. He knew he had been poisoned and should, by all rights, be dead.
He looked about and found himself once more in a hospital room. He quickly searched the room and located his partner, alive as well, in the next bed.
As if sensing Doyle was awake, Bodie opened his eyes. "Back with us, Angelfish?"
"Damnit, Bodie, I thought you were dead. Leaping through the air like a bloody hero. Daft sod more like."
Blue eyes blinked in pleased surprise. He recognised the tone at once. "Hello, Sunshine. I'm fine, thanks for asking." Bodie took a good, long butchers at his partner. "So what's up with you? Going in for that fuzzy look?"
"Berk. Just woke up myself, as you well know." Doyle tried to sound irritated but he couldn't help the little smile that escaped. He was so ruddy glad that Bodie was alive that he was unable to disguise it.
Bodie checked Ray over and found no apparent bandages, but he knew he had seen at least one knife wound. He looked down at himself. He remembered getting shot in the shoulder and chest and not much else after that. Frankly, he was surprised to be alive. Grateful, but surprised nonetheless.
Puzzled and a bit confused, he questioned, "Ray, I remember being shot and you ... you were stabbed."
Ray Doyle sobered. He wasn't sure his partner would believe him, he wasn't sure he believed it himself, but tell he would. "Bodie, you were shot and died as I could see. I remember yelling, just yelling. I know they had drugged me with something ... but, Bodie, the Anubis statue softened and picked you up and carried your lifeless body to the statue of Isis. Her stone softened and she cradled you to her chest and embraced you. She held on to you, seconds, minutes, hours even, couldn't tell. When she was finished, she had the Anubis carry you back and place you exactly as you had fallen. Saw you then take a breath."
Doyle knew that Bodie was watching him intently but he kept his eyes fixed on the ceiling. "Isis moved away from the wall and bent over me. She touched my forehead and shoulder. My bindings were gone, I knew I was no longer bleeding and she ... well, Isis traced the Ankh Cross that was hanging on her neck, then pointed to your feet. After that she whispered to me." Doyle paused then added, "She said remember where my messenger fell, departed and revived." He closed his eyes and it was so clear in his mind. "Then I was so tired, I remember nothing until waking here a couple of minutes ago."
Bodie digested all that without comment. He didn't scoff, even to himself. The oddest part was, on some level, he knew it was the truth.
Doyle wanted to deal with something more tangible. "How'd we get here?"
"Boots, according to Dr Tarek." Bodie had accepted that without question. He figured Rummy was still paying off a debt.
"The Luxor police were alerted to a tomb robbery in progress," a voice from the door announced. The door opened to reveal Fadil Amir. He entered and closed the door behind him. "A Mr Boots called and relayed that you were trapped in the tomb of Senneter, located in Thebes. He said medical was sure to be needed as well." Amir moved closer, between the two beds.
Doyle couldn't help but wonder if the curator hadn't overheard the exchange with Bodie.
"Mr Bodie, your rib has been broken the same as if it had been hit by a bullet. Yet, you have no visible entry nor exit wound. This same rib shows rapid healing. You are a great puzzle to the doctors here." He looked at the two men.
"You heard." Bodie issued a statement.
"Most, I apologise for the transgression."
Doyle didn't think the man was sorry at all. He sighed before he spoke. "I suppose you have a theory about this?"
"Our ancestors left much of their power with us. The stories existed for thousands of years, changing little. New stories do not change the old ones."
As enigmatic an answer as Bodie had ever heard. He took a stab at the likely answer. "You believe it."
"I confess that I do. I would now like to hear the complete episode." Amir asked with great sincerity.
Doyle recited all that he had confided to Bodie. He reminded Amir that he had been under the influence of a hallucinogen.
"Actually, it was not an hallucinogen but a poison. In ancient time, the substance was believed to assist in the passage from one world to the next. The stronger the poison, the better to release the Ka. It is said that only the hand of Isis can neutralise the effects." Amir shrugged eloquently. "It appears that now you both have been touched by Isis. Odd that she chose non-believers, but her faith in you was unwavering and obviously warranted. Your diligence proved that ...that and the fact that you survived the poison."
Amir wanted his words to sink in so he changed the topic. "I am puzzled by this chamber you speak of. There has been no such room discovered at the Tomb of Senneter."
"I didn't know where we were, but I know how to get there and where I found Doyle." Bodie stated plainly.
"You could lead us there?" Amir asked excitedly.
"That room as described could be one of the greatest finds of the decade."
Before the director could say more Murphy burst into the hospital room.
"Are you two all right?" His eyes checked out each CI5 man before resting on the museum director.
"Have had better days, but have had worse ones as well." Bodie smiled at their CI5 mate.
Doyle looked at Murphy pointedly and asked a non-verbal question. Murphy's nod gave Doyle his answer without a word spoken.
Bodie asked one aloud, "So, how'd we get here?" He was hoping for a more complete answer.
"Murphy jumped in, "Near as I can tell, one of you dragged the other to the carpark and collapsed. Medics and police arrived and found you outside with no visible entrance. The medics were assured that no others needed assistance. I found out from a Mr Boots."
"Mr Boots called, I alerted medical to the location and met them at hospital." Amir added.
"Still doesn't tell us much," Doyle complained.
"Doctors said much the same thing." Murphy grinned at the memory of their frustration. "They were unable to explain the oddity of your injuries. From all appearances there should have been a bullet and stab scar and there was not. Care to explain what they were talking about?" The CI5 agent looked hopeful; he would be the one to report to Alpha One after all.
"Thought I was dead, mate, I'm just happy to be alive." Doyle had no plans to share his hallucination again.
Murphy shook his head; he had to be satisfied with that. He had to report to the Controller and resume his guard duties. He exited the hospital room as the doctor entered.
"Good evening, gentlemen. I must confess that I am not surprised to see that you both are up and alert."
"When can we get out of here?" Bodie asked. He hated hospitals.
"Frankly, we are quite puzzled about your injuries. The first doctors on the case claimed that you both had sustained internal damage but no outside wound to confirm it. Mr Bodie, you look to have been shot several times, even seemed to have suffered broken bones but the rib break has already healed. The fact that there was no external skin abrasion was just another irregularity." The doctor faced the other bed, "For you, Mr Doyle, it was the absence of a stab wound. You had obviously lost a lot of blood, but we couldn't truly account for it."
"In our line of work it pays to be fast healers."
"Yes, it was obvious that you both had received many injuries in the past." The doctor shook his head as he made notations on the chart. "Unless a change occurs, you can be released in the mid-morning." The doctor gave both the patients another curious look before departing.
"The doctor was very curious about you," Amir chuckled.
"Yes, well, I have no intention of explaining to the doctors what I think happened. It would be straight to the loony bin." Doyle rolled his eyes.
"As you will probably be released in the morning, would the day after tomorrow be too soon to return to the Senneter?" Amir was anxious to see this unknown tomb.
"Fine, I wish to return as well," Doyle agreed for the both of them.
The director gave them detailed instructions for getting to his home. They agreed on a time and he left them alone.
Alone at last, Doyle closed his eyes as he rested his head back against the pillow. Bodie got up to use the bog on his own. He returned to find Doyle's eyes open and tracking his every move.
Bodie stopped and faced the window. "Doyle... Ray," Bodie turned just enough to see Ray out of the corner of his eye.
"I know," he paused and took a breath, "I know that we haven't talked much about the future, but now I find I do. I thought we were goners ... well, now, I want to make sure we don't waste any more time."
"I've said before you can be right persuasive." Doyle smiled, "Life has changed and I welcome it."
The words of the prophecy tickled Bodie's ear, he whispered them aloud, "... 'If you embrace it you will find the greatest love ...' I've embraced it each time I've held you."
"Oh, Bodie, you are far more the romantic than me, and in this case, I'm glad. I feel the same."
"The same? Are you saying that ...?"
"Yes, the L word. I love you. Where ever it takes me, I want to go."
"Right beside me. And yes, I love you, too. Oh, and the changing the life part? Only for the better, mate."
The doctors were inclined to keep their British patients a bit longer just because of the anomalies they presented but could not provide valid enough reasons to keep Bodie and Doyle over their objections. They were healed.
Murphy was there to collect them upon their release. They shopped for Greek takeaway before returning to their hotel.
Bodie noted with relief that his jeep was parked in the hotel carpark. "Thanks, Murph." Bodie indicated the vehicle.
"Not me. A man named Boots. Was waiting for me outside this hotel." His voice lowered, "Bag's in my room, Boots in yours."
They climbed the stairs parting silently at their respective rooms. Bodie waited for Murph to close his door before knocking in code on their door. He then unlocked it to find Boots inside, gun in hand.
"Staying busy?" Bodie grinned.
"Seen more action on a slow day." A smile accompanied the merc's shrug.
Bodie nodded seriously before sticking out his hand. "Thanks, mate."
Doyle then nodded at the man, "My thanks, as well."
"Right nutters, they were. Left the three that ran out tied up," Boots offered.
Doyle offered beers before asking, "They still there?"
Boots shook his head, "No, cops finally came to collect them."
"How did you get there exactly?" Doyle was hoping to finally get some answers, fill in the blanks.
"Rummy said to do the extra minding. Prefers debts to be paid in full properly."
Bodie nodded, he figured as much.
The merc continued, "Noted the first day after your museum visit that you'd collected tails like some collect spoons." Boots smiled to himself, "Kept you in sight most days. Yesterday, saw the attack but was too far away. Followed you following them. Got the three running tail, babbling in Arabic, then called in help."
George Cowley wouldn't have cared for the brevity of the report but Bodie and Doyle thought it was just fine.
"Thanks, Boots, now I owe you."
"Not how Rummy sees it, Bodie. Doyle, on the other hand ..."the merc looked to Bodie's partner.
"Gladly owe you." Doyle wasn't clear whom he owed his life to, but was willing to pay all debts for Bodie's life.
Boots finished his beer. "Try to stay out of trouble. You've been keeping me mates hopping." With that the merc left without another word spoken.
Doyle opened the bags and set out the food as Bodie leaned over the mini-fridge and took out three beers. A knock at the door heralded the return of Murphy, but the agents went for their spare weapons all the same.
Murphy entered with the museum bag and handed it off to Doyle before sitting down to his grub.
Food was consumed without conversation, but Bodie couldn't keep his eyes away from Doyle's mouth. He had practised abstinence long enough and he wanted Murph gone so that he could indulge his need to assure himself of Doyle's wellbeing.
Murphy wasn't sure what was different between his CI5 mates but he chalked it up to their recent near-death experience and took his leave soon after finishing his meal.
Bodie couldn't lock the door fast enough, Doyle's fingers were already working the buttons on his shirt. He leaned forward and claimed the lips that he'd watched all through the meal. So focused on the sensations he had no memory of how he lost his clothes.
He sucked in needed air as he closed the blinds before turning and was struck by the beauty his partner embodied. His breath then caught in his throat.
Doyle was laid out naked on the bed, legs open in invitation. His cock jutted upward, long, hard and leaking. Bodie knew that he had never felt such desire as in this moment. He wanted to bury himself in Doyle and not emerge, but it was more than desire for his own pleasure. He wanted to give pleasure. In fact, he wanted to give more pleasure than he might receive in return.
Bodie focused all attention on Doyle's face as twinkling green eyes smiled at him. Eyes that showed their own appreciation of what was before him. Bodie felt his emotions go soft and understood what love was like.
He moved over to the bed and levered himself just above Ray and claimed lips that beckoned him in. Smooth, sweet, rough, strong. All in one touch. An equal, not fragile and Bodie revelled in this new, wonderful pleasure.
Bodie almost lost himself in the kiss but as he felt Doyle's hardness brushing against his belly he knew he needed to taste as well as touch. He had wanted to take his time, relish and explore every centimetre but the lure to give pleasure was stronger.
He sucked the cockhead, swirling his tongue over the tip and savoured the flavour of the essence of Ray Doyle. He swallowed the length slow and steady, Ray's low throat noises the only encouragement he needed. Ray climaxed long and loud as Bodie drank all he had on offer.
Doyle stretched in a sinewy move that ended with Bodie's erection firmly entrenched in Doyle's hand. The dazzling smile of sated lust and a hand that knew exactly what to do and how to do it had Bodie igniting and off before he could draw a full breath.
After a short kip, Bodie roused himself enough to fetch a flannel to clean them up. He threw a cover over them and snuggled close to Ray succumbing to the pull of sleep.
They followed the directions Amir gave them and arrived at the museum director's personal residence a few minutes early. They approached the well-manicured dwelling in the upscale area in silence and knocked on the door.
Amir greeted them and invited them in. "My sons, Hakim and Ardis. They will accompany us on our excursion. Until we are sure of what we are dealing with the less that know the better."
Ray extended his hand, "Ray Doyle. He's Bodie."
Bodie shook hands with both young men before picking up some of the equipment they planned on taking. Doyle picked up what was left and followed Amir and his sons to their motor.
Although Amir knew the location of the Senneter tomb, he elected to follow Bodie. He didn't want to taint Bodie's travel to the unknown chamber.
Bodie took the same route he had following Doyle the day prior to yesterday, only slower.
The same vehicles that he had come upon were still sitting in the carpark. He pulled up alongside and Amir parked next to him. Bodie got out and followed the same path he had taken when saving Doyle. Ray, Amir, Hakim and Ardis followed closely. Bodie dropped into the hole that had led him to the chamber where his partner had been held.
Doyle quickly followed. Amir jumped in, landed and froze in wonder at the sight before him. His sons ran into their still parent.
"It's a sah-netjer." Amir looked about. This was indeed a previously undiscovered tomb chamber. If only Jawdat had shared this find, he would have achieved the immortality he had so craved.
"What's that? A sar-netch-chee." Doyle asked.
"Sah-netjer; a preparation room for entering the afterlife."
Bodie laughed, "Where they made the mummies, my son."
"Been there, done that," Ray muttered for Bodie's ears alone.
Bodie blanched; his partner hadn't divulged what Jawdat's plan for him had been.
Doyle went straight to the bloodstain as Amir, Ardis and Hakim continued to stand and stare. Their eyes travelled over the statues, ancient writings, the artefacts, their awe reflected in their hushed whispers.
Bodie stepped over to Doyle's side, the memory still fresh of seeing the knife protruding from his partner's belly.
Doyle pulled Bodie down beside him, "Check for edges." Their fingers could find none. "We'll have to bust in."
"I hate to mar a thing in here, but I know this spot is significant." Amir looked down at the bloodstain, "Why else make the point of showing you?" Amir's voice held wonderment.
Doyle was amazed how much credence the museum director put into his surreal memory.
Amir turned his sons around, "We'll collect the tools and cameras." They retraced the route in.
Doyle stood and pointed to the Anubis statue, "I really thought it moved," his voice almost a whisper as he remembered.
Bodie pointed to the Isis statue, "I thought you said she was wearing that cross around her neck."
"Yeah, well, only until she pointed to your feet." Doyle recalled.
Bodie grabbed Doyle's shoulders, "Do you think that's where the cross is?" he asked with a leap of intuition.
"It's possible," Doyle had a bit of doubt.
"I agree with Amir, I hate to destroy anything in here, including the floor, especially as it saved your life."
Doyle smiled the smile he reserved for his Bodie alone, "Yours, as well." Ray Doyle almost lost himself in the blue of Bodie's eyes until the eyes took on a look of amazed shock at something behind him. Doyle turned.
The statue of Isis moved silently toward them, a gentle smile usually bestowed upon children graced her face. She moved to the base of Anubis and knelt at the bloodstain.
Bodie and Doyle found themselves kneeling beside her. They found their fingers pressing at the hidden corners of the floor slab and felt the ancient spring release. A perfect square of the floor covering popped up.
Isis stood and reached out. She cupped Doyle's face with one hand, Bodie's with the other. No words were spoken but a feeling of contentment was conveyed.
The partners didn't see the statue move away, they only had eyes for each other and were startled by the return of Amir and his sons.
The curator noted the dazed look on the CI5 men and attributed it to the open floor vault at their feet. He rushed forward.
"The Ankh Cross." His voice held reverence at the magnitude of their find.
Bodie's and Doyle's role completed, they headed outside for fresh air and left the documentation to the archaeologists. Ardis and Hakim snapped pictures as fast as they could move their fingers. Initial task complete, the sons signalled their father they were done and headed out.
Amir unearthed his find and noted all else that was in the chamber. He collected the cross, but left everything else undisturbed. He turned to the stone statue of Isis and bowed. "Thank you, Isis." He wasn't sure he didn't see her smile.
Oddly enough, even with all the security available, Amir still felt the safest place for both artefacts were with Isis' chosen, Doyle and Bodie.
The drive back to the hotel was long and meandering. Even though news of the most recent find was not yet public, enough people knew to make it dangerous. Bodie was of the mind that if a plan of action was working, don't change it.
So, the following day, Murphy was still on guard duty and was left back at the hotel as Bodie and Doyle went to the museum.
Finding the tomb chamber and Ankh Cross had the archaeological community a buzz as well as the general populace. Speculation and rumour was actually more timid than the truth. As the British tourists were unwilling to divulge the actual facts, people had to satisfy themselves with the odd conjecture.
When official confirmation was provided regarding the find of both the pillar and the cross, the expected attendance of the visitation ceremony tripled.
Amir convinced his country's officials that as the pillar had remained safe despite numerous attempts to find it, it was safer where it was. He assured them that the cross was now with it and that not knowing its current location was safer for all involved, especially the artefacts themselves.
Privy to all the news, Lucas and McCabe expected the increase in the foot traffic at the museum, but both agents felt something was amiss when four men gained entrance furtively through a door that was marked 'no admittance'. Lucas followed as McCabe went to notify museum personnel and hopefully, the other CI5 agents.
When the front desk didn't act immediately on his request, McCabe decided to act like the American he was impersonating. He yelled at the top of his lungs, "I want to speak with the director of this museum right now."
When the stunned employees did nothing, McCabe yelled again, "Is there some reason I am being denied access to the museum director?"
The clerk grabbed for the phone but Amir was already striding toward the front desk.
"How can I be of service?" he asked as though the brash American had made a polite request.
"I must speak with you over here." McCabe turned and pulled out his ID. In his natural speaking voice he explained, "My partner and I saw four men use something other than a key to gain entrance to the lower levels. My partner is following them."
Amir followed behind the CI5 agent to the specified area, not truly surprised that Mr Cowley had sent backup personnel. He unlocked the door indicated and led McCabe down the stairs to where the basement vault was located.
Lucas followed the fugitives silently. When he had ascertained where they were headed, he doubled back to the archive room where the other CI5 men were spending the day.
With few words, Bodie and Doyle followed Lucas to the basement area. They spied four men attempting to break into the vault. One had a stethoscope pressed on the vault door to listen to the tumblers fall as the others watched intently.
Lucas advanced forward to draw their attention as Bodie and Doyle circled around.
In a slurred voice, Lucas asked, "Where's the flipping loo?"
The vault robbers turned, startled and reached for their guns.
Bodie grabbed one by the neck as Doyle kicked the gun out of another's hand and cold-cocked a third. Lucas rushed the cracksman and subdued him with ease.
"Blast, I missed all the fun." McCabe's voice called down from the stairs.
The CI5 man and museum director entered the vault area to find the robbers already subdued and restrained.
"Will this never end?" Amir asked, disappointed as he looked at the detained intruders.
"I think it's like you said, with the public viewing, it can't be denied." Doyle answered as he collected the weapons.
Bodie and Lucas collected the IDs of the robbers. Bodie flipped opened the two in his hand. "These two are on the list we gave you." He passed the wallets over to the director.
One of the men spoke in rapid Arabic, then spat on the ground.
The four Englishmen looked to the director for a translation.
"Those petty symbols will never bring peace to a subjugated people," the Egyptian interpreted verbatim.
"They sure were working hard to steal those petty symbols," Bodie remarked.
"Which subjugated people?" McCabe inquired.
Amir shook his head, "I'm not sure myself. Old hates die hard, if at all. They seem to forget it's what men do with the symbols of peace, not the artefacts themselves that wrought the change." The director sighed.
"Well, you've now rooted out even more of the trouble makers." Bodie pointed out then added, "And, only one more day to go."
"Yes, this is true. It seems I owe Mr Cowley even more thanks. And, I thank you gentlemen for all you have done." The director shook the hands of all four CI5 agents. "Now, it's time to close the museum in preparation for tomorrow and to ring the authorities to take away this clutter." He indicated the bound men.
Doyle led the way upstairs. The agents waited in the foyer until the museum was officially closed and the arrival of the police before departing.
"I believe food is next on the agenda." Bodie threw out his idea.
"Bodie!" Doyle exclaimed before rolling his eyes at his partner's predictability.
"Good to know one thing never changes no matter where you are." McCabe replied, echoing Doyle's thoughts.
"Well, I'm hungry."
"You always are, mate," Doyle smiled at his partner, knowing he was always hungry for other things as well.
Bodie rubbed his hands as he smiled, "How 'bout Greek."
Bodie enjoyed listening to Ray grumble. Unprepared for today's ceremony, as they hadn't dropped in with dress attire, both CI5 men had to purchase suits. Bodie didn't mind but his partner was still complaining about the cost.
"I'm putting this on my expense chit," Doyle threatened as he played once again with his tie.
Bodie turned and batted his partner's hands away and set to retie the offending garment. He gazed into the green eyes and smiled, remembering the idyllic evening the night before. Cuddling, loving, and more cuddling was a perfect way to end the Cairo assignment.
"Let's slip out for elevenses," Bodie suggested when he completed fixing the tie.
"Fine, as long as..." Doyle was interrupted.
"Hold on, Cowley's on his way." Murphy announced just before Bodie and Doyle slipped away.
"Cowley, here?" Doyle asked, surprised.
"Apparently. He heard that you both were injured and now revered. Probably wants to take you down a peg or two." Murphy laughed but believed his words.
"More than likely," Bodie agreed.
"He flew down with Ambassador Sayyid. He's here in the Prime Minister's stead." Murphy clarified.
"Great." Ray's voice said anything but. "Where is he?"
"In with Amir."
Resigned, Bodie and Doyle entered the room indicated and waited for their boss to finish his conversation with the director.
Hearing the timid version of the events for public consumption repeated to their boss, they elected to stay silent. They sat quietly side by side, thighs touching, the only public touching that was allowed.
George Cowley finished his discussion with Amir and agreed to meet him again later, after the ceremony. He turned and expected to see his operatives waiting alertly for him. Instead, he saw his agents, heads bowed, deep in discussion. He watched them and noted the relaxed, contented air about the two men. He continued to watch, unnoticed, for several minutes before approaching them.
So deep in quiet conversation between themselves, they had yet to be aware of his presence. Cowley studied them further. These two never did follow the rules, going so far as to break as many rules as possible. He cleared his throat loudly to get their attention and fixed his agents with a piercing stare. He was convinced his speculation was correct.
"They," indicating the noise outside the room, "Seem to think you've stopped something here. I'm of the mind that you've started something here."
Doyle opened his mouth to speak.
Cowley waved him silent, "Och, don't bother. You let it hurt this organisation and I'll see your backsides. It just so happens I can use this to my immediate advantage. The Home Secretary has called for retrenchments. He's of the belief that fewer, larger residences will be more frugal than many individual ones. I will begin with you two." The controller made it sound as though a punishment.
Doyle opened his mouth again, this time Bodie stopped him.
Bodie wasn't sure if his partner wouldn't object on sheer principle. "Yes, sir. We understand."
"I hope you do." In the same gruff voice, "I expect you in my office five days from tomorrow. You afforded me a favour owed. Now go out there and accept their praise. As their standards are lower than mine, it may be the last you hear for a good while." Cowley pinned them with his gaze once more.
Even though there was an implied insult contained within the controller's words, Bodie smiled anyway, content in Cowley's reaction. The Old Man knew without them having to say it aloud and they would be able to live together with the Cow's blessing. He turned to his partner and with a satisfied tone, "We're flatmates, now."
"I am not doing all the cooking, Sunshine." Doyle said it without any sting in his tone.
"Of course not, that's what takeaway's for."
Doyle rolled his eyes, but the eyes held a gleam of joy as he, too, knew what this meant. He followed his partner, in all ways, for their accolades.
Neither man thought about the prophecy and its outcome, and, yet, somewhere, the spirit of Isis smiled.
-- THE END --